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Sail Date: February 2010
We started out this adventure in LA on the 19th of Feb. I set up a hotel for the night before at the Westin LAX. We were impressed with the hotel. It has one of the most comfortable beds I've been in and even though it was close to ... Read More
We started out this adventure in LA on the 19th of Feb. I set up a hotel for the night before at the Westin LAX. We were impressed with the hotel. It has one of the most comfortable beds I've been in and even though it was close to the airport it was still quiet. There is an upscale restaurant on site but also 3 restaurants and a convenience store within a 2 block walking distance. That was a big plus for us over the hotels that are a little closer to the airport. And the shuttle service is quite acceptable. Went back to the Delta baggage claim area on the 20th using the shuttle service to meet up with the transfer guides.There were plenty of busses waiting to take people to the pier. Didn't have to wait to long to be underway. This was also our first time at the World Cruise Center in San Pedro. There seemed to be lots of parking, I wouldn't worry to much about driving down and finding a place to park, but since we flew I don't know what they charge per day. This was by far the most comfortable embarkation point we have been at. Comfortable seating, carpeting and a very organized boarding process. We were onboard the Sapphire within 30 minutes of getting off the bus. I wasn't to sure about how we would like this cruise. It was a bigger ship than what we were used to and also our first sailing with Princess. To make a long story short, by the end of our week I had purchased a future cruise credit. Our first look at the ship was of course from the Lido. Wow, I couldn't believe how much seating there was. The trays are not there but they use platter size dishes so if you care to pick up a drink you have room to carry it. Silverware and napkins were already on table so there was nothing to try and juggle and there was a crew member asking you what you wanted to drink within a few minutes. The food at the buffet was acceptable but I much preferred the dining rooms. We had the anytime dining and as such had 4 dining rooms to choose from. We found the service to be as good as the food, which we felt was very good. Each restaurant has its own specialty, but those aren't on the menus. Be sure to ask what it is. I recommend the pork chop, in the Savoy, highly. I also recommend making reservations if you want to eat before 8 PM. After 8 it seemed easy to get into any one of the four dining rooms. The staterooms were smaller than what we were used to and to get a tub you have to go up to a mini-suite, but the showers have a nice shower head. If I needed a hot soak I headed to a hot tub. Unless you really enjoy a hard mattress I suggest asking in advance for an egg crate. Next time I will see if I can get two of them. Otherwise the rooms were comfortable, clean and well serviced. They have a huge closet and storage area which I can see would come in very handy for a longer cruise.The verandah chairs were very comfortable but it seemed a bit strange to look down on 3 levels of verandahs because of the stacking. Would be great if you had a water ballon and a friend below you though. lol I felt the entertainment was typical cruise ship. OK but nothing I base my cruise on. But you could find something to do just about anytime you wanted to. I was more impressed with all the private niches that were available. And their Scholarship at Sea programs have a wide range of interests, from ceramics to scrap booking to history. There was a very wide range of nationalities onboard. I enjoyed the diversification and had excellent service at all levels. The public areas of this ship have a very rich and luxurious feeling. Lots of dark wood and brass. And the mosaic tile work around the main pools is very pretty. There are plenty of pools and hot tubs scattered about. And I could usually find a deck chair by a pool but always one available somewhere. The ports were the typical 3 Riviera ports, PV,Mazatlan and Cabo(where they have made a lot of the trinket vendors go behind the fence, much easier to walk) but seemed like the time in ports were awfully short especially Cabo. That was the only sore spot in the whole trip for me. I had a private excursion set up from 10-1. Since we were set to sail at 2 PM I felt that would be ok. The night before Cabo, the Patter said that the last tender for the ship would leave the pier at 1 PM. I decided that was cutting it to close so cancelled my tour (can't think of any tour being worth missing the ship) Well, as it turns out the last tender left the dock about 1:45 and we actually waited till 2 for the last two passengers to get onboard. I was unhappy about cancelling a tour for no reason, and I heard that the whales were out in force. Disembarkation went very smoothly. It was kind of strange not having to listen to every announcement. They tell you what time and where to meet and that is the only place the disembarkation instructions for your group is announced. Wasn't sure if I would like it but found it quite acceptable. Groups seemed to be small enough to be quite manageable. All in all the trip was a success. We knew what to expect from the ports but the anticipation of discovering a new cruise line and ship was well rewarded. While I won't say they have stolen us from Holland America, I will say that we have added another cruise line to enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
Embarkation: We arrived at 11:00 AM and went through the embarkation process it took about 25 mins to get through the line and into the waiting area. We were presented with a number and began getting on the ship at 12:00 PM. It was a ... Read More
Embarkation: We arrived at 11:00 AM and went through the embarkation process it took about 25 mins to get through the line and into the waiting area. We were presented with a number and began getting on the ship at 12:00 PM. It was a smooth process and they had big screen TVs in the waiting areas showing the Super Bowl Pregame. On the ship they served a buffet lunch and our room was ready at about 1:30. Superbowl: On embarkation day we had the Super Bowl Party. There were great appetizer stations set up and the game was available all over the ship. Some people took sides but others just enjoyed the drink specials. It was a great atmosphere to watch the game. The nice thing is that we got to skip the mandatory safety meeting until the next morning so we didn't have to miss part of the game. After the game our luggage had already arrived and the sea out of San Diego became choppy. Food: People who complain about the food on cruises usually only show up for the first meal in the dinning room and then make other plans. The first day meal is always the worst it will be for the rest of the cruise. This dining service is fantastic the food is well prepared and tasty. The menu is broken into 3 categories (starters, main courses, and desserts). However, we had a 5 course meal every night (starter, salad, soup, entree, dessert) almost every night. You are not limited to just 3 items. The food was fantastic on this cruise. My advice is to eat in the dinning room whenever you can including lunch and breakfast. The buffet is okay, but the dinning room has better prepared food and it is easier to portion control. Sea Days: For people who are used to the calm relaxing motion of the Caribbean you might want to bring some sea sickness pills, bands, or patches. The Pacific Ocean has strong currents that can cause some rolling waves. Specifically near San Diego the waves are rollers and the ship moves to the point where everyone on the ship will notice. Neither my wife or I got sick but there were some times that we noticed others who did. One night out of Manzanillo we hit a storm that brought 45 mph + winds and the Lido Pool began to splash water out. On the way down to Acapulco the ship has to be close to max speed the duration of the trip. People with aft cabins will notice vibration from the propellers. Bring Binoculars because you will see many dolphins and whales (especially near Cabo) on this trip. I would suggest getting a balcony or hanging out at the aft pool during the afternoons. There is lots to see if you are looking for sea-life. Entertainment: The dancers on the Carnival Spirit are okay but it would be tough to tell how good they are since difficult moves are an issue because the ship is moving. The singers are talented, especially the ladies. Stu isn't the best cruise director but he isn't bad either. There are many fun activities during sea days and the comedians will have you rolling during the late night sets. I was not impressed by the piano bar singer however. The disco was interesting to say the least on nights we went. It seemed like the crew utilized this space more as a private singles bar then it was for the guests to enjoy themselves. The Mexican night show in Acapulco is not to be missed. Ports: Acapulco has cleaned up in recent years. It is a really nice town to be at during the evening. Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo is absolutely beautiful. We were there during Carnival and the town and the people were dressed up and enjoying themselves. Manzanillo isn't too fun unless you take and excursion. We went deep sea fishing. The only guy on our boat to catch a fish was from San Diego and could go deep sea fishing any day. He caught a close to 100 lb sailfish. Even though we didn't catch a fish we enjoyed the day along the cliffs and shoals there are lots of dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays and even a whale made an appearance. Debarkation: This is a breeze. Eat breakfast in the Dining room or Lido Buffet and wait for Stu to call your number. You will be off the ship and with you luggage in about 15 minutes. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
A brief intro - this would be our 11th cruise, 6th with Carnival and have done the Mexican Rivera several times. We are a retired couple and in our mid 50's, and only cruise to enjoy the cruise experience, not necessarily the ports. ... Read More
A brief intro - this would be our 11th cruise, 6th with Carnival and have done the Mexican Rivera several times. We are a retired couple and in our mid 50's, and only cruise to enjoy the cruise experience, not necessarily the ports. We do not participate in all the ship activities, instead enjoy the ocean, a good dinner and show, then maybe some casino time and off to bed. Because the Splendor is a new ship on the west coast, we were excited to try the new ship. Upon arrival in Long Beach, all went as expected. Boarding was as expected, about 45 minutes from start to finish. Lunch on the Lido by 2pm and we were sailing by 5:30pm. No glitches with luggage or dinner. The Splendor is a beautiful ship. We had a balcony cabin and was the same as we have had on other Carnival ships. The public areas are very nice, but there didn't seem to be enough public areas. I say that because everywhere you went, there were an over abundance of guests. As many have said, the ship is broken up into many sections that don't allow you to "get there from here". You have to go up to go down, if you get my drift. If you want to walk the deck, you can't. I guess they took the extra public area space and used that space for cabin space to get more passengers on board. The food was average in the dining rooms, but the Burrito Bar and Deli was excellent. Even the buffet wasn't too bad. The entire cruise was as expected and very enjoyable, both on and off the ship. The decor of the Splendor is simple - pink circles! We had independent tours in PV and Mazatlan, and just walked around Cabo. All were enjoyable and no complaints. If you get a chance to get away from the city, that's the way to go. You can really enjoy the Mexican countryside and small villas. I wasn't impressed with two things - the entertainment and the service in the Supper Club. The Broadway style shows were pretty laughable.....the dancers were all over the place and the singers appeared to be screaming. I'm thinking it was a new group of people and hadn't had time to work the bugs out. We also attended the supper club and although the food was pretty good, the service was horrible. Not sure why, but we were a party of 8 and it seemed like we were out of sight, out of mind. As an example of my comment, our empty dinner plates sat in front of us for 15 minutes before they were removed. But we were all talking anyway so we just went with it. I love Carnival, and will sail with them again many times....but probably not on the Splendor. The only reason will be due to the amount of people they cram onto the ship. When you have to stand in a line of 50 people to get a piece of cake, it takes away from the cruising experience. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
We enjoyed the entire week on our first Princess cruise. Our favorite days are the "at sea" days and chose this cruise because of the 3 "at sea" days. We haven't cruised for 8 years but only cruised Carnival and ... Read More
We enjoyed the entire week on our first Princess cruise. Our favorite days are the "at sea" days and chose this cruise because of the 3 "at sea" days. We haven't cruised for 8 years but only cruised Carnival and RCCL. The food was much better on the Sapphire. The food was as good or better than we have had in 5 star all-inclusive resorts. We ate at the horizon buffet for breakfast and lunch and had late seating in the International Dining Room. We enjoyed eating with the same people each night. The ship was exceptionally clean and we loved our mini-suite with balcony. The balcony wasn't covered, but that wasn't a problem for us. The covered pool was great on the day back to San Pedro since it was windy and cool. Loved the fresh water pools and the "motion pool". The desserts at dinner were delicious! I only drink coffee for breakfast, but with cream and sweetener I thought it was o.k. My husband got a coffee card, but you can't get the brewed coffee with room service or in the dining room. Coffee, iced tea and lemonade are available in the horizon court. We enjoyed the entertainment at night, too. The alcoholic drinks were reasonably priced. There were people of all ages which made for an interesting cruise. We chose to carry our luggage off of the ship and what a speedy disembarkation! T We were at LAX by 9:00. We wish we had chosen an earlier flight. We will definitely be cruising with Princess again! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
This was our 7th Carnival Cruise and our 4th in the region. We are a 40's couple and really look for value and quality when spending our vacation dollars. Carnival has again exceeded our expectations. We Cruised from Long Beach on ... Read More
This was our 7th Carnival Cruise and our 4th in the region. We are a 40's couple and really look for value and quality when spending our vacation dollars. Carnival has again exceeded our expectations. We Cruised from Long Beach on Feb 28, 2010. We were excited about the new Spa Category balcony cabin and we were not disappointed. The cabin was very spacious and has a unique asian inspired decor. Special appointments include special towels unique only to the Spa Cabins, Cloud 9 Spa robes and matching slippers, an assortment of Elemis samples and a higher level of attentiveness by the room steward. The only draw back we noted was the balcony is overlooked by the 12 deck and guests could look down onto your balcony. Spa Cabins include access to the Cloud 9 Spa at no additional charge. Spa access is sold in very limited numbers on the cruise to non spa guests. The Spa is an upscale feature and provides a higher level of service than has previously been available on other Carnival ships. We enjoyed the spa features. Ship layout was similar to the Spirit Class but much larger. The Lido deck offered a wide array of seating/dining/and entertainment options including movies at night (the blankets were a nice touch). The Serenity adults only section was a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of the party atmosphere on decks 9 and 10. Entertainment options are similar to other ships in the fleet and showcase a wide array of talent in multiple venues. We chose the late seating option and enjoyed a predictable menu. Each night I would order multiple starters, entrees and desserts. All were well prepared and presented in typical Carnival fashion. Our Waitress Lina and assistant Vladimar exemplified the Carnival spirit in their desire to exceed our expectations, which they did each night. We were a little concerned with port days getting 3500 people off the boat, but we experienced little if any delay except in Cabo where tenders are used. But, this is not a Carnival fault, all cruise ships must tender here and some delays getting on an off are to be expected. This was not our first rodeo so we were well positioned for the experience. Overall I rate our experience at 4 1/2 stars and look forward to our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
Carnival Spirit Valentine Cruise This was our fifth cruise on Carnival and our first 8 day cruise. We stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Bay, across from the Cruise Terminal, and what a wonderful experience it was to see the cruise ships ... Read More
Carnival Spirit Valentine Cruise This was our fifth cruise on Carnival and our first 8 day cruise. We stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Bay, across from the Cruise Terminal, and what a wonderful experience it was to see the cruise ships sailing into and out of the bay right in front of you. Be sure you have time to visit San Diego either before or after your cruise. We arrived at the terminal about 11:45 and the embarkation process was very fast. My one complaint was that they required everyone to remove their belts. I don't even do this at the airport and because of this I lost my cell phone holder. It fell and was kicked into another area. We were on board the ship by 12:30 and having lunch not long after. The rooms were ready around 1:30. We sailed Super Bowl Sunday and the ship was prepared for it. Several area was set up with TVs and Big Screens and the large screen in the Pharaohs Lounge also showed the game. They also postponed the mandatory safety meeting until the next day at 10:15 am. The sea was choppy the first say and the last day but was not very uncomfortable. Food: All the meals were great and well presented. The first day was probably the least favorite but it was still very good. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Lido Grill but we had dinner in the Main Dinning Room every night. Our main concern was Anytime Dining. This is something new on Carnival and they share part of the upper MDR. This caused a delay in the seating in the MDR on a couple occasions. Carnival may need to look at not seating Anytime Dining at the same time as Set Time dinning. They may need to also find another entrance for the Anytime Dinning. Other than this experience, we enjoyed the Main Dining Room and our servers. We especially enjoy the assistant waiter, Mirko, who was a shining ray of light each evening. Sea Days: We have always looked forward to our sea days and especially on this cruise with four of them. If you have sailed the Caribbean then get ready for a great ride. The Pacific Ocean does not always live up to its name. On this cruise we experienced some very choppy and strong seas and there were many that felt the effects more than others. My wife and I did not have any problem. As one review has already posted, the water in the Lido Pool splashed out one night and I was one of those whose feet almost got wet. The Lido Party continued even with the rocking and rolling created by the swells and waves. Be sure to bring your binoculars, cameras and a good eye to see the dolphins, whales and other sea creatures. We saw whales and dolphins as we passed Cabo San Lucas. Entertainment: We skip some of the shows but did catch the Head Liner Singer who was a friend of one of our group. The New Orleans show was quite good and some of the special effects were remarkable considering the movement of the ship. Stu, the CD, was excellent and always remember my wife's name after only one introduction. The bar staff in the Atrium Lounge is excellent and a special thanks to Alex for his personal attention. I would also like to say thanks to Allen David for his great service on the Lido. Ports of Call: These were all new ports for us and we had some anticipation over visiting Acapulco. We found this port to be very clean and very busy. It is a busy center of life and culture. We visited the Fort and Zocolo. In Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa we took a taxi to Playa de Ropa and Patys Mar y mar Restaurant for a day at the beach. We found the beach very clean and beautiful. Patys is a great place to stay and enjoy the scenery. Manzanillo is a working seaport and you must leave the docks to see the city. We took a ship excursion, Magic Pueblos, and traveled to Comala and the Colima area. We visited a coffee processing area, a museum, a section of highway where it appears that you are rolling up hill without any power and the city of Comala. We had lunch at a fantastic restaurant in Suchitlan. Debarkation: Since we had a late flight so we tried Luggage Express and it worked well except for one piece being place on the wrong plane but arriving in the correct city. We took a taxi to Seaport Village and spent the morning there. We then took a taxi to the airport around 1 for our 4 pm flight home. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
We sailed on the Carnival Spirit out of San Diego on February 23 through March 3, 2010 and had a fabulous time!! My overall impression of the ship was that it was in good condition and the dEcor was pretty, but dark. I found that the ... Read More
We sailed on the Carnival Spirit out of San Diego on February 23 through March 3, 2010 and had a fabulous time!! My overall impression of the ship was that it was in good condition and the dEcor was pretty, but dark. I found that the Spirit class ships layout was easy to get around in, but I do prefer the Conquest class a little better. Embarkation We flew down to San Diego the day before from Minneapolis and stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Bay located by the cruise terminal. We had a free shuttle from the airport to hotel, which was nice. We arrived at our hotel mid afternoon and had time to eat at Anthony's right across the street. This was an excellent restaurant and we watched the sun set while we were eating. Romantic! This restaurant is actually built over the water (or right on the water). We also took the shuttle down to the lamp district and walked around there. It was really neat and the shuttle guy from the hotel even came and picked us up after we were done down there. All we had to do was call him when we were done, so we gave him a tip for doing that for us. He went out of his way for us! In the morning, we watched the Spirit come into port right from our hotel balcony. That was neat. Then we got ready and walked down the street to this little store right directly across from the ship and had a quick breakfast. It was good! Then we went back to the hotel and packed up our things and walked over to the cruise ship and checked in. Waited in line for a while, but it was not bad. The line kept moving and the next thing we knew, we were on board!! Went to the La Playa grill on the lido deck for some lunch and drinks, but it was real hard to find seating. We ended up sitting by one of the pools for lunch. Then we headed to our room and dropped off the luggage and unpacked. Cabin At 1:30pm is when you can put your carryon into your room etc. We were on the Main Deck (deck 4) room 4169 and our friends were next to us in room 4171. Our room steward, Newman, was very nice and took care of our needs. He kept the room clean and entertained us with the towel animals and he always had our buckets filled with ice for us at our request. Needless to say, we tipped him well. After we did the muster drill (no need to bring the life jackets anymore), we went on the top deck to watch us sail away. It was real neat to go by the air force base and see San Diego disappear in the distance. Our favorite spot for the sail a way was in the back of the ship. We liked the bar back there and spend a lot of time there. Dining We had late seating, which was at 8:15pm. We prefer this, as then we do not feel rushed after a port to get ready for dinner. We ate in the dining room most nights. We missed the night that we were in Acapulco though. Our waiter was Michael and his assistant was Suky. They were excellent! And the Matra D was Mr. V. Very entertaining. The food in the dining room was good most of the time. It is always neat to try different things that you would normally not try at home. My favorite dish was the prime rib. We had it twice. Very good. Some of the things I did not care for, but that is why you order a little of everything! During the day, we would just eat at the buffets at the La Playa Grill and by the pool. Also for breakfast every morning, we did the buffets. These were both very good and the made to order omelet was a popular thing. The pizza stand was very good and of course the unlimited ice cream was great. On the sea days, they had ice cream toppings that you could make your own sundaes. This was in the Aft part of the boat located by the adult pool. Overall, the food was good and we never went hungry! We did not try the Nouveau Steakhouse, but heard it was good as well. Entertainment There are many activities on board to keep you busy. We did not participate in any of the daytime activities by the pool, so I can't comment on those. Except, we did go to the ice carving. That was neat to watch. We just relaxed on the deck. We did go into the casino, mostly at night. I had good luck in there playing Let it Ride! Could not do much on the Black Jack though. There was a bar in the casino that was another favorite for us. They had the same singer in there every night singing and playing music. He was good! Also the bartender there (Piya) was excellent and would always remember my name! We tried to make it to some shows at night. We went to the late night comedians, The Unique Comedy and Magic Show of Woody Pittman, The Prop Comedy of Marcus Raymond, and the Legends Show (karaoke show starring the audience). We thought these were good. We sometimes went to the Karaoke located in the Versailles Lounge and that was just ok. There are bars and clubs around the ship to keep you busy ranging from country, new aged music and oldies music. They also had a Mexican party on the pool deck. This was the night that we left Manzanillo. We went up and watched. They had a Mexican buffet and people were dancing around and it was a good time. I was disappointed that they did not have a Gala Buffet. This is where they carve things out of food and you can walk through and take pictures of all of these carvings. And then you can eat it. Oh well, I guess if every ship did the same thing, it would become boring as you would know what to expect! Ports of Call Acapulco We were really not sure what to do at this port as we have read so many mixed reviews about this place and were not interested in the cliff divers. So we decided to book a tour through the ship with our friends. We booked the Beach Escape tour. This tour lasted about 4 hours and was very nice. I am glad we booked this as we had a great time. It took us about 15 minutes to get to the place on the beach. It was like a beach club type of place. Very nice and was about in the middle of the Acapulco bay area. Our guide that we had was very nice and took the time to explain a few things about the town. We found our chair by the beach and had unlimited drinks (which were good) and a Mexican buffet with all sorts of good Mexican food on it. I loved the chips, salsa and guacamole. It was yummy. One thing that I found interesting is that they had our area roped off as there were venders beyond the ropes. They were kind of fun at first and we did deal with them and bought some, but towards the end, they got annoying. If they were bugging you too bad, the security guard there made them go away, which was nice. We also had a wonderful massage right on the beach there. There was 4 people in our party and we each had a 30 minute massage for $20.00 each. We ended up giving them $100.00 total for all 4 of us as they did such a good job and were very nice. After the beach, they dropped us off at the pier. Then we pretty much did the rest of our shopping right there in the shopping center by the ship and went to Carlos and Charlie's. That was a hoppin' place! We had a drink and watched the people dancing on the bar tops. Enjoyed it there and then we decided to go back on the ship and eat supper as we were getting hungry again! It was a great day and the port was not as bad as I thought it would be. Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo This was probably my favorite port. We decided to do something on our own here so we took a taxi cab to Paty's on La Ropa beach. All I can say that it was BEAUTIFUL here! We ate some chips/salsa/guacamole and had some drinks here. The prices did not seem to bad here, but I can't remember what our total bill was here. The lounge chairs are hard to find, but we did sit at a table with an umbrella in the shade, so all was good. The water was very warm here and the sand was smooth. We love beaches, so we enjoyed our time here very much. This was also the day of the Tsunami from Chile and we did experience a small one at 3 feet I guess. I remember seeing the water doing weird things for a minute there and I guess the river in town was going backwards!?! Kinda weird, but did not interfere with our beach day. We had told our cab driver to come and pick us up at a certain time (I can't remember the time) and take us to the shopping right by the tendering place. I am assuming these were the markets, but not really sure. All I know is there was tons of shopping but they really would not bargin with you here. So we did not buy much here. After shopping, we took the tender back to the ship in plenty of time. It was a good day here and I would come back here in a heart beat. Manzanillo Here we also did something out on our own. We booked a deep sea fishing excursion through the internet (not through Carnival). This port was probably my least favorite spot except for the deep sea fishing that we did here. It is very hard to communicate as they do not speak English very well. We had to take a cab to our fishing place and that was hard to communicate with the cab driver even. The fishing boat was in great shape and our guides were very nice, but did not speak English well. We got to fish for 5 hours and we only caught 1 fish (4 ft. dorado). We had a great time even though we only caught one. I think the Tsunami screwed things up for the fishing. We did not keep the fish, but had pictures taken with the fish. Then we walked over to the sailfish statue as this is where I thought all of the shopping would be. We did find some shopping, enough for what we were looking for. So not sure where all of the shopping is located or if that was it. Then we took a cab back to the ship as we were tired from our fishing day and went on the ship. We left this port 4 hours later than planned because when we were coming into this port and docking, the ship hit the dock in the back as the currents were strong. So they had to repair the ship before we could leave, so that is why we were late leaving that night. Our sea days were spent relaxing in the sun or in the casino trying to win some money. We did have a few days at sea where I thought the waters were a little rough, but we are sailing in the pacific J So anything can happen. Also, make sure you whale watch near Cabo. We did see many whales blowing water and dolphins. It was quite entertaining. Overall, we had a great cruise and a wonderful time. We picked this itinerary because it had a bunch of sea days and we had not been to these ports yet. I really liked the 2 sea days at the end of all of the port days. We will sail Carnival again!!! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
After all the planning, work outs, shopping, & anticipation, we finally met up by midnight at the LA hotel recommended by Tripadvisor & AAA. We might be 55 year olds but that night we were like college kids as we gathered & ... Read More
After all the planning, work outs, shopping, & anticipation, we finally met up by midnight at the LA hotel recommended by Tripadvisor & AAA. We might be 55 year olds but that night we were like college kids as we gathered & shared our excitement! We woke the day of departure; imagine our shock as we watched FOX News cover the tragedy of the Chilean earthquake. When they brought up the tsunami warning, we knew we were in for possible disappointment. This is when we knew we were right to buy trip insurance. I called Princess immediately & sat on hold until the rep told me that they had calls in to the authorities & would call us if the trip would be affected. We decided to hope for the best & go ahead with our embarkation plans. Our personal shuttle arrived at noon, graciously took us to our wine shop so we could stock up, & off we went to the LA Harbor. The baggage handlers along side the ship were so much fun -- thanks guys for your warm welcome! Our 3 first time cruisers were WOWED by their initial visual of the ship. The embarkation process was perfect, the best of the 3 cruise lines I've been on. In the waiting area, we watched the news as Princess made periodic announcements that the harbor was closed by the Coast Guard due to the tsunami. In my opinion, the waiting passengers handled the delay well. There may not have been enough seating for everyone but this never happened before so why would there be. We may have waited an hour before they made the happy announcement that the gangway had been lowered & embarkation had begun. The Sapphire Princess was the first ship out of the harbor once the Coast Guard made the decision. We 8 ladies went to the covered front of the ship to experience the trip out to open sea. We said a silent prayer for our neighbors in Chile. The remainder of the trip was a wonderfully normal cruise. The high points of the cruise were: 1. mini-suite balcony. We had two mini-suites & two interior cabins. It is worth the extra dollars to have the larger balcony when traveling with a group as we shared the space with our friends. If it were just my hubby & I, the regular balcony would be fine. 2. Princess allows celebratory wine/champagne to be brought on board. We were celebrating a pending retirement, a birthday & a graduation & Princess' understanding allowed us to celebrate together in our suite. This is why I recommend Princess above the other lines I've cruised. 3. The ship's size. Sapphire is the perfect size. Who wants to sail with 3000 passengers? We had no trouble finding deck chairs, outdoor seating for our Horizon Court breakfasts, lounge seats for the jewelry show, etc. I have zero desire to sail on any super sized cruise ships, even if the fare is less on them. 4. Our traditional dining experience. Traditional dining IS the cruise experience. You can go to a restaurant at home (freestyle dining), why would you do the same old thing on a cruise? I prefer the late seating because we have time to return from our excursions, get all gussied up, have a glass of wine & still make it to the table on time. We were blessed with the perfect waiters, Alan and Joel from the Philippines. (Alan is sacrificing time at home because he is putting his daughter through medical school). Every guest should get to know their waiters on a personal level; it so enhances the cruise experience! We know they see a new table of guests every week but the way they treated us made us feel like we were special every night. We tipped them very generously. Hello Alan and Joel! 5. Skywalker Lounge. We had along one daughter for whom this trip was her graduation gift She actually likes to be with us eve though some of us are old enough to be her grandma. We took her to the Skywalker Lounge every night so she could dance the night away &that she did. If some of the crew were up there they made it a point to dance with her a few times & we got out there to dance too.We helped her make wonderful life long memories. 6. Shipboard activities. Our group really enjoyed the dancing,exercising & entertainment opportunities on board the ship. We ended up in the ship's video more than once. The crew were full of energy, they appear everywhere &they work hard to make the days at sea fun. We really appreciated what they were doing for the passengers. If we suggested any improvements, they would be: A. the latte bar needs a selection of sugar free skinny latte choices. B. Revamp the nighttime entertainment. That's where we found fault. We thought the dance company costuming absolutely STUNK. Giant gold lame' stars on a man's shirt/pants? Come ON! Talk about emasculating a person. The costuming was circa 1970. The average age on the ship was 55. Hey, we're the baby boomers. The music too; how many years will we hear covers of 45 year old Neil Diamond songs? Let's get a little more current. They had talent but their creativity had been squashed. We stopped going to the shows because they were so sappy. The Island Princess (2008) had more current content. The ship group, the Babydolls, lead singer was not good either, but the thin singer was great. Loudness will not cover a substandard voice. We felt that the karaoke contests had much better voices so we went there whenever there was a performance. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
This was our fifth cruise (2 carnival, 2 RCI and 1 princess) and we went on a radio group cruise with around 150 others from Spokane. We flew into Long Beach and stayed at the Hilton for $89, including transport to the ship in the AM and 2 ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise (2 carnival, 2 RCI and 1 princess) and we went on a radio group cruise with around 150 others from Spokane. We flew into Long Beach and stayed at the Hilton for $89, including transport to the ship in the AM and 2 free drinks (we used the carnival corporate code found on the cruise critic boards). Great deal and very nice hotel! Embarkation was smooth. We arrived around 11:30 and were on the ship an hour later, eating lunch in the lido. Our midship inside cabin was fine...I can sleep a lot better in the dark. Bathrooms are good sized and plenty of closet space. We have had inside, ocean view, and balcony previously, but enjoyed the savings of an inside on this trip. I kind of liked the pink, wild decor (although the fried egg looking things on the dining room ceiling were funny!). Food was good. We really liked all the food at the Tandoori grill. Lots of choices in the dining room. I really liked the lobster and shrimp, pork ribs, apple caramel something dessert, bitter and blanc bread pudding, citrus napoleon in the lido, and lots of other desserts. We enjoyed the highlights band, the reggae band, and dancing in the disco. We did not attend any other entertainment, except the legends performance. It was OK. The rock and roll party was a lot of fun on the lido deck late night. I enjoyed playing craps in the casino ( until the last night!). Our last day at sea we jogged, did a golf tournament, played games, did trivia, won $95 at craps, sang kamikaze karaoke (sweet home Alabama) for the first time, took a hip hop dance class (did I mention I am 50?), did some wild swing dancing and got my nose broken by my husband's elbow in a special behind the back move that we plan to remove from our routine. This was all before 6:00pm! After a trip to the infirmary, where I got excellent care, I managed dinner and losing money at the craps table. The next morning, we got early disembarkation to go to the ER to get my nose reset. Despite the injury, we greatly enjoyed the trip. We had a wonderful time getting to know some of the others from our group. We liked the ship, activities, food, great dining room and cabin service, overall very friendly staff, and the ports (see reviews). Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
Just got back from the Spirit 2/14 - 2/23 trip. Any specific questions, leave them here and I'll be glad to answer what ever I can. We were in cabin 6260, a wraparound AFT cabin on the port corner of the Empress deck. Our neighbors ... Read More
Just got back from the Spirit 2/14 - 2/23 trip. Any specific questions, leave them here and I'll be glad to answer what ever I can. We were in cabin 6260, a wraparound AFT cabin on the port corner of the Empress deck. Our neighbors must have been cruise critics, because both of them complained that we got that cabin before they did. One even commented that it was a shame we couldn't enjoy it because there were only two of us. Boy, was she wrong. We arrived at the port at 11:30AM. Because we had a suite, we got VIP embarkation which was great. We had no wait from the time the hotel shuttle droped us of until we were on the boat. We were among the first 20 people to board the ship. We both loved the Spirit and would go back in a heartbeat. Lines were never bad, except for tendering in Zihu.... We had Anytime Dinning, and usually got up to the dining room around 8:30-9:00PM. Never a wait for a table for two. Service always quick, although we tended to be among the few people left when the dining room closed. We got to watch the waiters count the silverware and set the tables for breakfast, but nobody ever rushed us. We had breakfast in the MDR most days, except when we had room service. My only criticism of breakfast was I never got my eggs benedict without hardened hollandaise sauce, blackened from sitting under the heat lamp. No big deal - I can live with it. Lunch was usually at the Lido buffet, which I thought was pretty good. I've been on quite a few cruises and the allure of eating like a glutton is worn off, so I'm picky. We loved the Turkey wraps from the deli station and the hamburgers from the grill. They had chocolate melting cake on the dessert section at the Lido dinner buffet, which I don't recall ever seeing before. The chocolate chip cookies on the lunch buffet were outstanding as well. The late afternoon Sundae bar was visited a few times. We ate on the beach in Zihu and Manzanillo, and had some pretty good local fish (I think it was local). Salsa and guacamole was good as well. Cabin 6260 was fantastic. My first suite and I don't think I'll ever be able to cruise in anything less. The best part was on the last two sea days, when it was windy and you couldn't sit at the pool without a sweatshirt. We were lying in the sun on our balcony, the ship blocking all the wind. We didn't attend to many of the shows - we watched the late night "R-rated" comedian one night, and a few minutes of the "Legends" show which I could swear was the exact same show we saw on the Triumph last February. The live band "Heat" was pretty good - they played lots of older rock which we like. We visited the Piano bar a few times and enjoyed the selection he played. We tried to attend the "Dancing under the Stars" but it was too cold and windy up there for us. I guess I'm getting old. There were hundreds of people enjoying themselves, though. We never got around to playing bingo, casino or any of the other activities they offer - it's just not our thing. I would have liked to do the ship's background tour, but thought it was too expensive for what you got. The shopping on the ship doesn't seem any different than any other Carnival ship I've ever been on. $10 watches, gold by the inch, Duty free liquor, Carnival T-shirts. We purchased a future cruise voucher for $100. It was supposed to be charged to my sail & sign card, but they never got around to it. I guess the charge will show up eventually, because the certificate showed up the next day. We went ot the art Auction for the free champagne, but they're getting cheap. Only one waitress and she never made it around to us. Since they didn't get me drunk, I didn't buy anything. :) We didn't attend the Captain's night, the Past Guest Party or the Farewell party, so we didn't get much in the way of free drinks on this trip. Oh well, that's not what we cruise for anyway. I was surprised at the condition of the ship. Large stains on the carpets by the AFT elevators on decks 5 & 6. We always knew which deck we were on by the shape of the stains. Since we walked past those spots ten times a day, they were very noticeable. There was a lot of rust on the railings on our balcony. I'm sure keeping steel white in the ocean's an ongoing job, and it didn't change my enjoyment of the cruise, but it's time for someone to grab a can of paint. Debarkation didn't begin until 9:30. They announcement kept saying they were waiting for customs to clear the ship. We left our cabin at 10AM and I think we were the last one's on our floor, but it gave us a good opportunity to look into the other cabins and see the difference in room layout. The worst part of the trip: We're on the plane, leaving San Diego. It's a little after 5:00 PM, and as the plane is lifting off, I look out the window and see the Carnival Spirit chugging out of San Diego harbor. And I'm heading back to work. What a downer. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
Just as every other "first", our first cruise was magical. We just returned from our second cruise and the only thing missing was the magic of the first. Arriving in San Diego the day before was ideal. The only thing better ... Read More
Just as every other "first", our first cruise was magical. We just returned from our second cruise and the only thing missing was the magic of the first. Arriving in San Diego the day before was ideal. The only thing better could have been coming several days earlier and having more time to enjoy the city. We really liked what we saw in the short time we were there. We stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Bay just across the street from the terminal. The hotel kept our luggage after we checked out until we were ready to board the ship. Then they shuttled us right up to the terminal. The even shuttled us back to the airport on our return even though we did not stay over that night. What service! The Carnival Spirit was great. With our embarkation day also being Superbowl Sunday, the football game was shown on the movie screen in the Pharaoh's lounge (theater) with snacks resembling a tailgate party served along with helmets and buckets of beer. That was fun!! All the activities on the ship were well planned, although I am not sure there was as many music venues as on the other ship we had cruised on. There did not seem to be as many choices or as much going on in the evenings as on the other. But that did not tarnish our trip in any way. We enjoyed every minute. The Carnival Spirit crew members did a great job. Our cabin steward was very attentive (we had a balcony cabin which we loved) as were our waiters at dinner. The cruise director, Stu, was also a lot of fun. We struck up some very interesting conversations with other crew members. All were friendly and accommodating. The shows were entertaining and the talent impressive. Disembarkation is always a downer, but we used a program on the ship called "Luggage Express" and it helped some. You check your luggage the night before as usual, but you do not see it again until you arrive at your home airport. I was a little nervous about this, but it worked smoothly. It also allows you to disembark right after the early flight groups. With boarding passes issued from the ship, you skip that part of the airport process and go directly through security. Our flight left at 12:35 p.m., so this helped relieve some of the rush for us. I would recommend this cruise on Carnival Spirit to everyone. We thoroughly enjoyed it. I am not sure we would do it again, but I am glad we experienced it this time. We are definitely planning a longer visit to San Diego, California. We loved it there. We will be planning another cruise with Carnival as soon as possible. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
Background: We have cruised with Royal Caribbean several times, but all from the east coast. This was our first west coast cruise. We flew to LAX on Virgin America and VA is probably the best airline I have flown with in a very long time. ... Read More
Background: We have cruised with Royal Caribbean several times, but all from the east coast. This was our first west coast cruise. We flew to LAX on Virgin America and VA is probably the best airline I have flown with in a very long time. Lots of leg room, comfortable seats, interesting way to order drinks, food, snacks. I won't fly any other way from now on. Hotel Info: I reserved an ExecuCar shuttle from LAX to the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro online. It was $48 plus $8.64 gratuity. We got our luggage and waited outside for a few minutes for the van to arrive. It was an uneventful ride over to the hotel. At the hotel we checked in and were given keys to our room on the 10th floor. Hotel is nice, but is in need of some updating. Our room overlooked the pool area and we could see the harbor and the ships coming in. Our room rate was for the concierge floor to include breakfast, drinks, snacks, etc., but didn't indicate that this would be closed on the weekends. They gave us a coupon for the buffet for Saturday and we were underwhelmed. Basic scrambled eggs, bacon, oatmeal, fruit, bagels, yogurt, etc. They put out stale croissants and when the server noticed we were not eating them, he asked, we told, and they immediately took them away. I was surprised! The back wall of the restaurant is probably overlooked by most, but if you look carefully you can see that they probably had two different tilers doing the glass tiles because somewhere just off to the middle you can see they don't match. There is a little store in the lobby if you want snacks and there is a van that will take you anywhere within 5 miles of the hotel. We signed up to go to Target and grabbed a few things and then walked around the neighborhood. 5 blocks up from the hotel is a CVS where you can grab almost anything, including alcohol. We ate at Acapulco's and watched a Princess ship leave port. There is no sign up list for the van to the port. Just show up and they will tell you which line to stand in. Embarkation: It was only a few minutes to the port and we got off the van and a porter took our checked bags for us. The doors were closed as it was before 11 am, but once they opened we made our way inside. We were told to take a number before we went up to the counter and that number was the group we were in to board. Boarding took only a few minutes and we made our way up to the Windjammer for lunch. There was a sign at guest services indicating that this cruise was completely sold out and it felt it. Ship Info: We have been on other Voyager class ships, both the Adventure and the Explorer, but the Mariner seemed to outshine her two counterparts. I saw absolutely no wear and tear anywhere on the ship and although the cabins are starting to look somewhat dated, they are immaculate. The flat screen TV's help and the suites do have nice balcony furniture as opposed to the white plastic furniture you will find elsewhere on the ship. The lounge chairs at the pool area are the older models, but they are just chairs so you can get past that easily. Stateroom: Our JS cabin was an absolute treat for the three of us. We enjoyed the extra room in the cabin and the balcony as well as the bigger closet. If we can afford a JS or bigger in the future, that will be what we get! Dining: We were signed up for MTD and despite hearing from a dining room staff member that we should sign up for a time and/or not show up between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm, we went when we were ready for dinner. Our first night was not so great and the first time I have had less than stellar dining room service. The server spent the majority of the meal in the kitchen and left all of the work for the assistant waiter. He badmouthed the food and just about everything else, which didn't make for a great dining experience. I talked to the head waiter who was extremely accommodating and moved us to another section the remainder of the week. Our waiter, Angel, and the assistant waiter, Akosh, were fabulous! Angel has been on Mariner for over 6 years and loves working on her. You can find him in the Windjammer in the mornings taking the omelet orders as well. The wait staff in the Windjammer was also quite good. They are always attentive and constantly cleaning and offering beverages. As for the food, we saw the same food repeatedly in the Windjammer at each meal. We were surprised since we were on four RCCL cruises last year and I can't recall the Windjammer menu being so monotonous. I usually look forward to Jade, but there was no change and nothing to get excited about. For the MDR, we saw the updated menu and there were quite a few changes. We enjoyed all of the new menu items, but the only dud was the pan fried cauliflower cakes. They were basically pancakes with cauliflower in them -- bland and not such a great idea. Chops was another great night with Schubert as our server, but I was unable to stay the entire evening as I had been feeling sick that day and left. My husband and son enjoyed the meal and the service immensely. Because the cruise was sold out, breakfast in the Windjammer was ridiculous. When I say every single table was taken, every single table was taken and people were standing around waiting for people to leave. Yikes! Activities: Although the compass is jam packed with things to do, we still wish that there were more things to do that we might enjoy. Once you see the belly flop contest and the Love and Marriage game, you've seen it and may not want to see it again. I see that they are doing more enrichment programs, but it makes me wonder if we have done all we can with RCCL. We love the miniature golf, skating, and rock climbing wall and are glad when there are activities like that on a ship. Children's Clubs: We have a teenager who spent a great deal of time in Fuel, the Livingroom, the arcade, and the Sports Court. I had never seen the Back Deck on a ship before, an area dedicated for teens to hang out and sun on lounge chairs. There are signs saying this is a teen dedicated area, but my son said that teens never went there because adults were always sitting out. So sad considering the rest of the ship is an all adult area. I wish the teens had this space so they wouldn't have to sit inside all the time. Entertainment: The typical entertainment to be found on RCCL ships were found on Mariner. The welcome aboard show, comedian, and dance show were all to be had. The only change in all of this was the group Nelson was on board. Anyone remember this brother group from the 80's? They are the son of Ricky Nelson, grandsons of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. I fully expected to laugh my way through this, but they did a tribute to their father that was entertaining and actually really good. Even my son enjoyed it. They played an acoustic set the next afternoon in the Promenade and signed autographs. It was nice to see something a little bit different from the typical entertainment. Disembarkation: We chose to to do the express disembark because we were trying to catch an 11 am flight out of LGB. We made our way down to the Schooner Bar before 8:15 and it was already crowded. Once the doors opened, the lines started moving with the exception of those people who forgot that they still needed their SeaPass cards to get off the ship. Once off the ship, we were able to hand over our paper to the customs official and we were in a cab in less than 5 minutes. Not bad! Summary: This was a fantastic family cruise for February break and I would do it again, but just not in February. A little too crowded for my taste, but otherwise a super fun vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
Background: I'm a retired law enforcement officer in my mid 60s and my wife is a banker in her early 60s. This was our 31st cruise, all but 2 on Royal Caribbean. Our youngest daughter, her husband and our 3 year old granddaughter were ... Read More
Background: I'm a retired law enforcement officer in my mid 60s and my wife is a banker in her early 60s. This was our 31st cruise, all but 2 on Royal Caribbean. Our youngest daughter, her husband and our 3 year old granddaughter were also on this cruise. Getting to LA: The flight from Denver was uneventful, we expected a RCCL greater to meet us at the airport, but none were there. A quick reread of our documents provided instructions to get transport to our hotel. Hotel: We stayed one night at the Long Beach Hilton which was nice, but a bit expensive. We braved light sporadic rain and walked several blocks to the Rock Bottom Brewery for lunch, the food was good and there was plenty of it. We had a light supper and breakfast at the hotel. Embarkation: Getting aboard went without a hitch, we had all of our paperwork (set sail) done so it was just a matter getting our sea pass cards. Ship: Was in good condition, as all the ships we've been on have been. I've heard some people complain about a little rust here and there, but realize they've never had to maintain a ship. Cabin: We had an aft corner balcony which is the type of cabin we really enjoy. It's nice to sit out there with coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening. Our cabin attendant was one of the best we've ever had (none were bad) we had towel animals every evening and the cabin was kept spotless. Food: I've heard those stories about how bad the food has gotten, I do not agree. There are fewer things on the menu, like larger lobster and large fillets but I didn't find anything bad. One night I followed the waiter's recommendation and had the lobster and shrimp for an appetizer and the prime rib for the main course. No doubt things have changed, but I paid the same for this cruise as I did for an inside cabin back in the 80s, the value is still there. Cabo San Lucas: Having been there before, we decided just to take a leisurely walk in to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. After lunch we did some shopping and walked back to the tender landing. Mazatlan: Again, we didn't have a desire for a tour, so we took a van to the Golden Zone for some shopping and lunch at Pancho's, The food was good and more than I could eat. Puerto Vallarta: Our granddaughter wanted to go to the beach so we booked a tour to an all inclusive day at a hotel south of town. The entire hotel area was really nice with 2 pools nice restaurants and strong drinks. She spent time on the beach with her shovel and bucket and had a great time. Misc: Some people paid high prices for whale watching, we saw whales and lots of dolphins from the ship. One whale even breached coming out of the water and splashing down on its side. The trip home was again uneventful. Meet and mingle: We had a good time and did a cabin crawl with poker hands afterward. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
This was our 16th cruise, our 11th on Carnival. A while ago, Mr. Cruise Cat had surgery that got complicated and resulted in a much longer recovery than anyone had counted on. My parents traveled quite a ways to help out during the ... Read More
This was our 16th cruise, our 11th on Carnival. A while ago, Mr. Cruise Cat had surgery that got complicated and resulted in a much longer recovery than anyone had counted on. My parents traveled quite a ways to help out during the situation, and it was much appreciated. For this cruise we invited my parents to thank them for all their effort and celebrate Mr. Cruise Cat's recovery. We had plans to fly to San Diego on the day before the ship sailed (on a Saturday), but an incoming snowstorm forced us to change our plans. We wound up renting a car and driving several hundred miles to Atlanta that Friday and then flew to San Diego from there on Saturday. We made it to San Diego at our planned time (a day ahead of embarkation), which was a big concern. If we had missed the sailing it looked like we would have had to try and meet the ship in Acapulco, three days into the cruise. Embarkation was very smooth. We are Platinum on Carnival, and there is a separate check-in when you first enter the building. My parents, since they were part of our party, were allowed to check in with us. We filled out some forms and then were escorted to the front of the security line. This made Mr. Cruise Cat very happy, as he was disappointed on our last cruise when the Platinum reception did not start until after the security screening. From there we waited in a special line for Platinum guests to check in, and then breezed through to the ship. Platinum has its perks! The day of embarkation was also the day of the Super Bowl. Because of this, the lifeboat drill was postponed until 10:00 the next morning. The four of us watched the Super Bowl together in my parent's stateroom. There were plenty of places outside of the stateroom where we could have watched the Super Bowl, but we preferred to watch it by ourselves. We were in the Pacific Ocean and the waves were stronger than we were used to in the Caribbean. It was great at night time, as it made it very easy to sleep. There were some passengers who were noticeably queasy, and I even became motion sick at one point. If motion sickness gets to you easily, the Caribbean may be a better choice. Mr. Cruise Cat and I have been eating most of our dinner meals in the Supper Club, and continued to do with my parents for this cruise. Again, the service was excellent, the atmosphere serene and the food was wonderful. Carnival has added a beefsteak tomato salad to the menu that is very good. They also offer a different flavor of homemade ice cream and/or sorbet as a dessert option. The peach ice cream was fabulous! As always the staff took wonderful care of us, and each dinner was wonderful! The rest of the food was okay. I am not too much into breakfast, but Mr. Cruise Cat is. He managed to get all the eggs, bacon and toast he wanted. We usually did the deli line, pizza line or grill line for lunch. The first formal night we had photographs taken of the four of us. It made for a very nice memento of this trip! I'm glad we got that out of the way early, as Mr. Cruise Cat soon ran out of patience for photographers, mini-studios in the middle of the passageways, large groups of people waiting in line for said mini-studios, and being told to smile. Acapulco was really nice! The four of us opted to hire a private van on the pier for a tour instead of using the ship trip. With four people, it cost about the same to hire a private van as it would have to buy four seats on the ship trip. Anyway, this was well worth it to us, as we weren't crowded, rushed or on a set schedule. Our driver knew the schedule of the cliff divers, and took us over where we could see from the side of the road for the next showing. The rest of the ports were about the same: shops, beaches, margaritas and all that. We went ashore, but just walked around some. Mr. Cruise Cat and I aren't into shows, and have only attended one in all of the 16 cruises we have sailed. My parents enjoy them a lot more and attended most of them. When I asked them how the shows were they usually replied 'it was okay'. It doesn't sound like we missed much. We did some gambling and came out about even... The casino had the basic Las Vegas tables and plenty of slots. We used Luggage Express for the first time on this cruise. This worked wonderfully, and is something we will probably try to use whenever we can! We signed up for this option earlier in the cruise, and the day before disembarkation we were provided with the proper number of baggage tags and our boarding passes. We had our bags packed and outside our door by 11:00 that night, and didn't have to worry about them again until we landed at our destination. It was well worth the $40 total we paid. Platinum perks also include priority debarkation, so we went to our assigned lounge at the assigned time. When the ship was getting close to being cleared by customs, we were escorted to the gangway. (My parents were not provided priority debarkation luggage tags, and the airlines they flew did not participate in the Luggage Express program, so they debarked separately.) We zipped off the ship, had no luggage to hassle with, and headed straight for the taxi line. This was so quick that we were all checked in at the airport before my parents even left the ship. We are all still talking about what a wonderful time we had, how rested and relaxed we are and can't wait to plan another cruise together! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
This was my wife's and mine first cruise ever. I wanted to go on a cruise for a long time. My wife was not too crazy about cruising. Her idea of a cruise was a boat full of drunk people constantly falling overboard, while throwing up ... Read More
This was my wife's and mine first cruise ever. I wanted to go on a cruise for a long time. My wife was not too crazy about cruising. Her idea of a cruise was a boat full of drunk people constantly falling overboard, while throwing up because of being intoxicated, seasick, and infected with norovirus at the same time. I don't know how, but I managed to talk her into taking a Mexican Riviera 7 day cruise. On the third day of the cruise she asked me when are we going on a next cruise. On the last day she did not want to leave the ship. We had an absolutely fantastic time on the Norwegian Star. Don't get me wrong, there were some less than enjoyable moments in our cruising experience, and I will mention them in this review, but overall it was one of the best vacation experiences I ever had. We had a great cruise director, wonderful staff throughout the ship, and some excellent performers at the shows. EMBARKATION In one word, it was a mess. Took forever (~ 2 hours) to go through the lines and get on the ship. Apparently the CBP officials took their time while clearing the ship for disembarkation of the previous cruise. There was a line to get to the terminal building. Then there was a line in the terminal building to get the sea cards. Then we had to wait for our group number to be called. Then there was a huge line alongside of the ship to go through the gangway. We were about to enter the gangway when it malfunctioned, and the siren started blaring. Boarding was halted, and we had to listen to the siren for the next 15 minutes standing right next to it. Apparently workers could not fix the problem, so the siren kept going off as we were standing a few feet away from it. Finally NCL personnel just resumed boarding while the siren was still going off. We departed 3 hours late because the ship did not get refueled on time. CABIN We had an inside cabin on the 9th deck forward. It was small, but not inadequately small. We brought 3 suitcases and were able to put all our clothes in the closet. Cabin was clean and nicely furnished. Bathroom felt spacious and sparkling clean. Although the Star is not a brand new ship, nothing in the cabin showed any signs of wear, which I find pretty amazing. Everything was functioning correctly, we did not have a single problem with our cabin. Our steward Leslie did a very good job. We always had new towels, fresh ice and new water bottles in the cabin. He emptied the mini-bar at our request. We had 4 towel animals throughout the cruise. FOOD I honestly do not understand why people would complain about food on the Star. Last time I had a breakfast buffet with made to order omlettes and smoked salmon was $26 + tip. That buffet was on land, with approximately 20 to 30 different items I could choose from. The Norwegian Star breakfast buffet had over 100 different items (I am not exaggerating) you could choose from. Including a mixing yogurt station, where they mix a yogurt with fresh berries, fruits, nuts and granola at your request (Cold Stone Creamery kind of style), which was my wife's favorite. And eggs Benedict. And ... well, I better stop or I will never get to the next section. We never made it to the main restaurant for breakfast, the buffet was so good. Lunches and dinners were excellent as well. There was never something I ordered that I did not like. The only thing my wife did not like was some kind of vegetarian dish in Le Bistro, where we went for dinner one night. However, Le Bistro's chocolate fondue was out of this world delicious, much better than the fondue they had at the chocoholic buffet. Oh yes, they did have a chocoholic buffet. It was pretty good. I don't think I can have any more chocolate for at least a month. ENTERTAINMENT was a slightly mixed bag. Second City Theater was excellent. We went to all 3 of their shows. The newlywed game was hysterical, the battle of the sexes - not so much. Magician's show was pretty lame. Did not deviate from 200 year old repertoire one bit. Technical execution - 5 out of 5. Creativity - 0 out of 5. Did not go to the singing shows (popera is the name I think). There was an impressive variety of musical performers throughout the ship with all kinds of musical styles. PORTS We did not do any excursions because of the rain in Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. I enjoyed Cabo a lot, although we did not stay there for a long time. DISEMBARKATION went pretty smoothly. We opted for the latest possible disembarkation time, 10 AM. We were out of the terminal by 10:10. NICKEL AND DIMING NCL has a reputation on this site of being a nickel-and-dime kind of operation. Although I disagree with this assessment, there was some unpleasant pushing to buy their products during the trip. And by unpleasant I do not mean just constant sales presentations (some of them for whatever reason NCL likes to call lectures and seminars). Those are kind of OK, you can always opt out and not go to their presentations, not buy any art and diamonds and alexandrites and tanzanites and pearls and botox (yes, you can get botox injection right on the ship) and so on. There was one occasion though, which was beyond normal sales push. My wife chose to get a procedure at a spa. I obviously do not know exactly what happened their, but she came back to the cabin upset and with $220 worth of products. She told me that she felt that she does not have an option not to buy them. She was told by the therapist that the procedure (which was about $200 by itself) would be completely ineffective if the products are not used afterward. This issue never came before the procedure. If this is not good old bait and switch I do not know what is. My wife did not want to see these people ever again. I went to the spa the next day to return the purchased products. The receptionists accepted the return without a question though. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
Carnival Splendor, Mexican Riviera, January 17-23, 2010 Review I am writing this review from what I think is my most favorite place in the world. We have an ocean view cabin on the Main deck (deck 2) of the Carnival Splendor. These ... Read More
Carnival Splendor, Mexican Riviera, January 17-23, 2010 Review I am writing this review from what I think is my most favorite place in the world. We have an ocean view cabin on the Main deck (deck 2) of the Carnival Splendor. These cabins have a very large picture window which has a windowsill that is approximately 2 feet wide (maybe 1.5 feet). I love to pull out the extra comforter that Carnival gives you, place it in the windowsill with some pillows and climb on up. I pull the curtains closed and I feel like I'm in a private train compartment. Only . . . .the ocean is right below me, and it stretches to meet the beautiful blue sky. I love to climb up here and just gaze into the ocean and daydream. I watch for fish, land, birds (not many) and when the ship is going in the right direction, watch the sun rise. I'll keep you all updated on what I see. I'm keeping my fingers crossed to see whales as this is prime whale watching/migrating season in this part of the ocean. So, on with the review, typed as I sit perched in my favorite spot in the world. Just a bit about us. I'm 43 and my husband is 49, we are veteran cruisers -- I've cruised 13 times and he 9. We have been on Carnival (primarily), Norwegian (old Norway) and Princess. We choose Carnival for this cruise because itinerary isn't so important, but price is . . . . We got a 7 days cruise, in an ocean view cabin for a total with taxes of $989.00. Our flights out of Cincinnati were only $500 total so total we were under $1,500 for the trip. Yeah, I know, tips, drinks, excursion, etc. all add up but the price to get us on the ship was amazing. We flew on Saturday, January 16th from Cincinnati to LAX direct. We grabbed Super Shuttle to the Queen Mary hotel. Super Shuttle was right where they were supposed to be and within 10 minutes we were on our way to the Queen Mary. The Queen Mary is an old cruise line/war ship/etc. and by her history alone is awe inspiring. With that said, if you are expecting a modern hotel, you will be disappointed. I must say, the rooms were dark and felt dingy but they were clean. You know when you go into an antiques store and it just feels dusty and dirty but it's not, just everything is old. This is the feeling at the Queen Mary. In a regular hotel this would turn me off but in this hotel, there is so much history (posted everywhere on signs and plaques) that it is really interesting. We checked in, slept and the next day took the Haunted Behinds the Scenes tour (the $12.00 tour, not the $50). It's was pretty neat even though I'm not one to really consider that all the accounts of seeing "things" are true but all the same very interesting and fun. Queen Mary Entrance [IMG]http://i50.tinypic.com/osheoj.jpg[/IMG] Behind the Scenes tour (Haunted Pool) [IMG]http://i45.tinypic.com/21mafb7.jpg[/IMG] The Queen Mary is right next to the Splendor, roll your bags off the Queen Mary and walk about the length of a football field and you are in line for the Splendor. If you have the extra few bucks to stay at the Queen Mary, it's very convenient (mostly was about $50 more than all the other Long Beach hotels). Carnival Splendor She is a sight from the ground, reaching very far into the sky. The area just feels electric with excitement as we're all getting ready to board the ship. The line to get the sale and sign card was long but it moved quickly. Side note here, we arrived about 1:45 having received the call from Carnival that we should get on the ship between two and four. The Carnival rep was talking to another person standing in line and he asked if the line was normal. She said that since Carnival has been doing those calls, that about 1:30-2:00 it gets really busy because hoards of people now wait to come and at 11:30 when you could get right on there is not a lot of people boarding. Either way, yes there were a lot of people but it took only about 15 minutes in the sail and sign line and then another 20 minutes in security and then we were on the ship. Probably only about 45 minutes total until we were in our room and one of our bags made it faster than we did. We would have boarded earlier but we wanted to do the Queen Mary tour so that put us on the ship later than usual. Once on, our room was already ready so we went straight to the room. We unpacked our first bag and then went up on the lido deck for some food. The lido deck was busy and crowded as some people had not gone to their room yet and had the luggage with them that they dragged onto the ship. Since no one really knew the layout of the buffet area yet that added to the confusion. It's like this on every ship the first day and even with the crowds, we were able to find the stir fry line, wait for the stir fry (line about 10 people long took about 15 minutes) but it was worth the wait - yummy. After lunch we walked around just a bit and then the muster drill. Nope, you don't have to take your life jacket with you and now your muster station is right on your sail and sign card (convenient). The muster drill took a little longer as we were one of the first people there so we had to wait for everyone else to get there. Muster drill doesn't bother me, actually look forward to it because it is one of those things that make me feel like I'm on a cruise, BUT, we had such a loud obnoxious group standing next to us of about 20 people. They were all cutting up, kidding, laughing etc. Now I'm all for a good time but they were yelling over each out, etc. So it made the drill seem longer than it really was. Point to all of you reading this, keep in mind that not everyone thinks your reoccurring joke (that you tell about 20 times while standing in the muster station) is as funny as the 20 of you do :-) *Note small break from the review to continue looking at the ocean, as the sun has risen a bit, it's bringing out the pinks in the clouds and it's just beautiful. There are white puffy low clouds this morning followed by a deep grey/blue sky. I think the clouds will burn off and we will be left with a beautiful sunny morning. I started typing this section of the review right before the sun fully came up. Unfortunately I'm on the wrong side of the ship to have seen the sun rise but in a few days when we are turned around and headed back to Long Beach I'm hoping to see the sun come up. Wow, it's just beautiful looking out this window. Back to the review. After muster we headed for our first Cruise Critic meet and greet. We had some of the most active members on a roll call that I've ever seen. Complete with countdowns, an organized poker cabin crawl . . . . I couldn't wait to meet some of these people. (Thanks Ann for all your hard work). I was pleasantly surprised that a lot of the folks showed up and it was so great to put a face with a name. These fellow cruisers seem like such nice folks and I can't wait to spend more time with them on our next meet in greet tomorrow (well now today) at 10:30. Our poker cabin crawl is tomorrow so I'll be sure to fill you all in on how it went, I'm a host cabin. Our Cruise Critic Group [IMG]http://i47.tinypic.com/23jn143.jpg[/IMG] We then went to the free spa raffle, a big waste (unless you win). Three prizes and then two 1/2 certificates awarded, all packed in between about 30 minutes of sales presentation. Not timed very well as a lot of us folks had 6:00 dining and at 6:00 he was still talking. Someone said, hey we've got to get to dinner and he sped it up a bit. I didn't win so of course I thought it was a waste. Oh, I forgot to tell you earlier that we did take a spa tour and it is really neat, prices are high but that's expected at any cruise or resort spa. Right in line with what you would find in any resort. Basically about $150 for an hour massage. They had a new massage I'd never heard of -- Bamboo massage. Today they have a special that if you purchase an hour bamboo massage you get 1.5 hours, so I took advantage of that special. My massage is at 11 tomorrow (today now) so I'll let you know how it goes. I also bit the bullet and bought the all week pass to the extra spa areas, heated seats, steam rooms and the Thalassotherapy pool. I hope I use it but really did it because I hate not having access to wherever I want to go ;-) My hubby will work out quite a bit so I thought I'd go hang in the pool area, etc. when he is working out. I did purchase the one hour private mud room session thing for he and I, we're going to do that on Saturday. We did this on Princess and loved the privacy, products, etc so thought we kindle a little romance and do it again. So what started as me saying that the cruise was only $1500 is now a bit more just by a simple stop to the spa (and I said I wasn't going to do anything in the spa this cruise, I'm such a liar). Hey, wait a minute are those whales I see, . . . . Wow, looks like something . . . . . . Nope, just my mind playing tricks on myself. I'm keeping and eye out for us though. . . Oh, it's going to be a beautiful day, the clouds are really starting to burn off and the sky is so baby blue. Back to the review, we then headed to dinner. Gold Pearl dining room and were the first to arrive for our table of 4. Once I saw that the table was for four, I thought oh no, we could really be stuck here but Troy and Sarah are beautiful, lovely people. He is a cowboy from Nebraska and she is a home maker, they have an 18 month old girl. We are about 10 years older than them. This is their first cruise so we got to tell them all sorts of stuff about cruising, and they actually seemed interested. They were a bit overwhelmed by the size of the ship and what to do and it reminded me of my first cruises where the first day I went to bed thinking, why did I spend all this money on a vacation like this, I'm confused and I don't think I like it. We reassured them that within a day they'd have the lay of the land and enjoy every bit of this vacation. Our server is Cenon and service was extremely slow. We are also in a part of the dining room that can't see anything, the maitre-de talking, etc. But that doesn't matter to us. The deco is weird but it works. It looks like something from Dr. Seuss or The Little Mermaid, all the ball things all around that look like something you'd see in the sea, probably appropriate for a ship but different. Individual Dinning Room Deco Elements [IMG]http://i48.tinypic.com/2vjomy1.jpg[/IMG] [IMG]http://i50.tinypic.com/33vev53.jpg[/IMG] [IMG]http://i47.tinypic.com/rvwqbd.jpg[/IMG] But it works! [IMG]http://i50.tinypic.com/b88mt3.jpg[/IMG] We are not foodies but love food, so I'll be able to tell you what we did and didn't like but probably won't spend much time on food. I had the Beef Barley soup, flat iron steak and Warm Chocolate Melting Cake -- all were wonderful, my husband had the shrimp cocktail (5 of them because the Tiger shrimp are only about and inch big) and 2 flat iron steaks and crème Brule -- all of which he loved. But, I'm really hoping service gets better tomorrow as it was very very slow . . . . I'm not a complainer and will make the best of any situation but this was a bit excessive. After dinner we wandered around a bit and hit the casino. We played a few slots loosing the $20 we put in each but on the way out my husband decided to play a Wheel of Fortune slot I'd never seen (different than the rest). It was a multi line pull machine -- 15 lines at 25 cents each -- that's an expensive pull in our minds. Well this machine was hot . . .he put in $20 and pulled out $250 boy were we excited. That's a big win for us as the whole trip we won't sped over $500 in the casino. What a high you get from winning, so we decided to keep that high and walk away. We're 3 hours ahead so at 9:00 on the ship our internal clocks thought it was midnight so we went to bed. Up next tomorrow . . .Cruise Critic meet and greet, bamboo massage, black jack tournament, and of course eating . . . . . Here it is the second day of the cruise (at sea day), you guessed it, and I'm up in the windowsill area again, so, how did yesterday go . . . . . fantastic, what else can I say, I'm on a cruise. The morning started with a quick visit to the lido deck for breakfast, it was you standard breakfast fare with some other items thrown in. I had scrambled eggs, bacon and toast -- everything was fine, not great but it's a buffet . . . so I'll say great for buffet food. I'm impressed with how good their coffee tastes. They've switched to these smaller cups in the lido area, they are truly about the size of a kid cup so you have to take two to have a full glass of orange juice, etc. The cups look a lot like the kids cups at IKEA, in fact, I bet they bought them at IKEA. Me in the Windowsill: [IMG]http://i46.tinypic.com/11v7gwl.jpg[/IMG] We then walked around the deck areas to explore the ship but it was cold and windy. A few brave souls where trying to make a go of it by sitting outside but it was cold. The cover was over the lido deck pool so most swimming was happening there. It was nice to have the spa this day because you really couldn't sit outside unless you were in pants and a sweatshirt. After walking around deck, we headed to our second Cruise Critic group meeting, another couple attended that didn't make it to the first meet and greet. Again, these folks are so nice, I'm glad we meet up with such nice people on Cruise Critic. We all said our good bys, making sure we all knew the time for the poker cabin crawl for tomorrow and I headed to the spa for my bamboo massage. Spa . . . . The spa is expansive encompassing two levels. I'm still not sure where I'm going when I'm in there. There are these weird men and women statues that have small tiles on them. The man status is just wrong :-) In the area of his privates there is a huge ball shaped protruding, it's just weird. I laugh every time I see these men statues. I even asked one of the spa workers if I was just acting like a two year old but she said they are strange too. Either way, go check them out if you want a chuckle. Weird Spa Statue: [IMG]http://i50.tinypic.com/5nk679.jpg[/IMG] My bamboo massage was for 1.5 hours and costs $159. Very pricey but that price is actually the 1 hour price (wow), they had a special and I got 1.5 for the 1 hour price. I'm a massage veteran probably getting one massage a month for the past 10 years. I usually try out a spa anywhere I go. This was definitely in one of my top 10 percentage of massages. It was incredible, the heated bamboo was fantastic. I would recommend this massage, if you don't mind the steep price. But book on the first day. Oh, a tip, I went up to book the massage special the first day about 8:30 pm, they said you had to take the massage the evening on the first night. Well it was too late to get me in and the lady booked me the next morning at the same special. So just ask and you can get it the next day. After the massage I went into the Thalassotherapy pool. I do like this pool, it's a gigantic hot tub with a set a bars that allows you to lie down and experience weightlessness. Now that's nice after all the food I've been eating. I meet up with my husband and we went to the casino for the blackjack tournament. He made the final table so we had to stick around until about 3:00 for the final. He came in second . . . . . . So close to the $500. We headed back to the room for a small nap to get ready for dinner. Dinner was the captain's reception, we didn't go to the captain's reception, we just headed to the dinner. The formal wear was all over the place. Virtually no tuxes at all, several suits but mostly nice pants and ties. My husband wore some Nike black pants and polo. He looked nice and didn't stick out at all as being underdressed. I had a plain black dress and heals. We were just fine. Lobster was on the menu tonight and many people were ordering two entrees. Our service was again very slow with the waiter handling everything, I don't know where his assistant goes but we see him for bread but then he is gone. We asked for more ice tea at the end of the meal and our waiter said, I'll try . . . what! We are not too happy with the service in the dining room we're getting but it must be isolated because several other areas around us are getting served just fine, refills, etc. After dinner we walked around, visited the show (we only stayed for a few songs, we just are not into the shows) and then headed back to the casino. The Wheel of Fortune machine was again very generous to my husband as he walked away about $80 up. Unheard of for slots but he's been pretty lucky so far. BUT, were only two days into the cruise, we'll be able to give it all back, just the way the casino Gods intended it to be :-) I was so tired we went back to the room and I went to bed, my husband went to the adult comedy show at 10:45 and said that the comedian was pathetic. He said that after 10 minutes he (as well as others) was leaving the show. So that all for now, I'm sure we're getting closer to whale areas and I'm determined to see a whale . . . . I'll keep you all posted. Up tomorrow a review on, our Cruise Critic cabin crawl, is it warmer at the pool, whale sightings, how dinner service is going, and how we did in the casino. Oh, there's a slot tournament too so we'll be trying our luck again. Talk to you all tomorrow. Day 3 we're arriving into Puerto Vallarta, there are beautiful mountains all around but it's still pretty dark so I can't make out any building, etc. yet. My day yesterday was fun filled and packed. We started the day with a visit to the spa, so far the $149 I paid for the pass is working out. My husband worked out and I sat in the large Thalassotherapy pool and watched him (there are windows around this room that allow you to see into the gym). What a site, me sitting on my butt and him working up a sweat at the gym. I'm glad I got the spa pass but well see how happy I am with it when we've been in port 3 days, don't know how much I'll use it then. After the spa, we had lunch on deck, there is a Panini grill station at the very back of the lido deck by the adult pool. Just so that you know what they have to offer on this lido . . . . as you enter the lido eating area by the main pool (one with the big screen TV) there is the 24 hour pizza area, then walk past the pool the larger eating area and there is a hamburger, hot dog (picnic) type food area, walk into the room and you find a 24 hour ice cream station (basic cones and chocolate/vanilla soft serve -- geez, I wish I had brought sprinkles cause I love sprinkles on my soft serve), then you hit the first set of buffets with whatever themed food they are serving, along with a stir fry section (you pick your veggies, they add whatever meat you want, chicken, beef or shrimp), head back a little farther and you find another buffet section (same stuff as first buffet station) and then the dessert buffet. Just a short walk up the stairs at that buffet and your in the rotisserie. If you come back down stairs and head out the doors to the adult pool (still on lido deck), you will hit the grilled Panini station as well as Indian food buffet. Pretty good selection on the lido deck. After lunch it was time for the Cruise Critic poker cabin crawl. We meet in the lobby and picked our first card. Ann had preprinted sheets already so that the host of that station could write the card we picked in their cabin down on our sheet. This way we just take a sheet from station to station, not a card. The next station was our room. Ann asked that everyone bring something from home to give is a little trinket, nothing big just something that was special to our home town/state. I had Ohio pencils and Cincinnati Bengals stickers. Non Bengals fans said they would take the stickers and put them on their door mat . . .hahahaha. I had brought some coconut rum, had glasses of orange juice from the buffet and made some nice, fruity drinks for everyone. I called them the Splendor Sunrise! The drinks were a hit. It was off to the remaining cabins and then at the end we meet in the lobby and tallied the scores. My husband came in 3rd, but there only money for the first two places. Oh, to play it was $5 a person. It was a lot of fun and seeing a few different rooms was interesting. During the cabin crawl, my husband had to leave as he had made it into the slot tournament. He came in 4th. This is the cruise where he is "Always the Bridesmaid, never the Bride". He was 2nd in the Blackjack tournament, 3rd in Slot tournament, and 3rd in Poker crawl. He is having fun but is hoping for a first place here soon. After the cabin crawl I did a load of laundry, we're going through our clothes pretty quickly, and we must be changing a lot. The laundry room is about 10 cabins away from me and wash was $3.00, dry $3.00 and detergent $1.00 -- $7 not bad as the laundry special bag is $15.00 and would barely fit a few t-shirts and shorts. We headed up to deck to take a picture of the sun set before dinner and it was beautiful. Just as the sun was about to set a pod of dolphins came swimming and jumping by. I was able to set my camera to video mode and got them on tape. It was so beautiful. Beautiful Sunset: [IMG]http://i49.tinypic.com/34fjryu.jpg[/IMG] Dinner time, again service was slow but we're used to the slow service now. Our waiter is not as friendly as others we have had on past cruises but cordial none the less. He looks extremely overworked and when we ask for something (like more butter) he will say, I will try (?). So, that is disappointing, as you feel bad putting him out for something such as butter for your baked potato or coffee after dinner. He had an assistant but except for the bread the assistant brings, you never see the assistant again. After dinner we hit the deck party, quite a huge hit with everyone. The music is awesome (oldies like the twist, etc.) The deck is packed with people dancing everywhere. A not to miss! So, did I see a whale today . . . the short answer is no but the longer answer is kind of. When we were doing our cabin crawl, everyone was talking about all the whales they had seen. I had been watching like crazy for whales, why hadn't I seen them. Well, we walked out side and there it was, the blow from a whale. The first thing you before you see the whale is the whale surfacing and blowing water out of the blow hole. The mist of water is pretty large and looks like steam from a pot of tea. Well, I saw the mist from his blow but this whale didn't surface too far so I really didn't see the whale. So no I didn't see IT but I saw where it was . . . . We're pulling into PV right now . . . the mountains are become more visible . . . today we meet up with my sister and her husband at the Krystal resort (by the cruise ship port) for a couples massage $85 for a 1.5 hour couples massage and then you can use the resort pool and beach. I don't know what else we are going to do but I'll review it al for you tomorrow. Talk to you soon! Our day in Puerto Vallarta . . . . The arrival into PV was beautiful, I watched it from my windowsill. The mountains behind the beach were awe inspiring. We docked and we headed straight to the lido for a quick breakfast and off the ship we went. The ships time is 1 hour behind PV so when we got off at 8:30, it was 9:30 PV time. Our massage was at 10:30 PV time (9:30 ship time) and that was perfect. We walked about 6 blocks to the Krystal resort. The Krystal resort is really nice with several small pods of bungalows/condo type rooms. The pool was large and had lots of features like loungers in the pool, volleyball net, basketball, pool swim up bar. Our massages were in the Millennium Spa at the resort and the spa was very nice, just as nice as most spas in the US. Our massages were fantastic probably in the top 5 percentage of any massage I've had. After the massage we went to the pool and beach and hung out. As I said before, my sister, her husband and their friends Mick & Lisa were in PV this week so we meet up with them for the massages and hanging out for the day. When you get spa services, you get to the use the resort as long as you would like. There were many people from the ship here, it wasn't too crowded though, just perfect. Our group at Krystal in PV: [IMG]http://i50.tinypic.com/2e1art4.jpg[/IMG] The beach here had lots of waves, would be fun to play in if I were a bit younger but kind of looks like there are some rip tides so I'd be careful. You can parasail, rent a seadoo or take a banana boat ride. The area had an open air restaurant that we ate a bite to eat and then it happened . . . .IT . . . . .my husband was walking out of the bathroom and the steps were a bit weird. He hit the side of the step and rolled his ankle. His ankle immediately had a goose egg form, it was really gross and we were convinced it was broken. We got him some ice but I knew it was not good. He keep saying that it was fine but I could tell it was a very bad sprain or maybe even broken. The resort was very helpful and sent a golf cart back to transport him to the front of the resort. We took a cab and got him back to the ship. The infirmary was closed but we were able to call and talk to the nurse. She was so super nice and saw him right away. They have x-ray equipment on the ship and they took x-rays then she had the doctor come down to take a look. I was thinking, oh no, how much is this going to cost as you always hear these horror stories. The doctor was so nice and made us feel at ease. He was very through and gave us the news that it wasn't broken; thank God, but it was a sever sprain. The "rented" us crutches and pain med and sent us on our way. I was so afraid to get the bill because I had no idea how much it would be . . . . I was pleasantly surprised that it was only $180. Wow, I would have paid much for this visit back home at my doctor or if I had visited an emergency room. I was very happy with the service and I commend Carnival with how they handled our situation. I do have trip insurance as well (with some medical coverage) too but even it wasn't covered $180 is so low. Carnival also called our room several times to make sure he was okay. Elevate and Ice: [IMG]http://i50.tinypic.com/123p9c9.jpg[/IMG] My husband insisted I get him set up in the room (ice and room service) and go back out and explore PV with my sister. So I did :-) We went down to the Malecon which is shopping area right next to the beach/walk way. We visited many of the shops and some jewelry stores. I love looking at jewelry and we visited many of the jewelry stores and then came to a beautiful old church. We walked around inside the church, said a few prayers (mostly for my hubby's ankle) and then went searching for a place to get a drink. We walked along the side of the street by the beach and came upon some men making some beautiful sand sculptures. Then off to a bar to drink a few cocktails and watch the sun set. The bar said beer was $1.00, we clarified this several times. We had a few drinks a couple of appetizer and watched the sun set and the crowds walk by. Then the bill came and our waiter said that he didn't say beer was a dollar. We argued a bit but he claimed he didn't understand English well. We had the common, bait and switch happen to us. Oh well, live and learn we paid the bill and left. Even the sign on the door for the $1.00 beer was gone. View of Sunset from the bar (worth overpaying for beer): [IMG]http://i48.tinypic.com/24yaiwn.jpg[/IMG] They dropped me back at the ship and I wondered the straw market by myself. For the most part I felt safe but was careful not to get too far back into the vendors without other ship passengers around. I did find better deals here than down at the Malecon. I got a Mexican plate and a fake Rolex. I have a friend a work that collects real Rolexes, so I thought I'd tease him with buying myself a Rolex. It was only $10; so definitely worth the joke. And my friend thought it was real at first so it was a pretty good fake. So back to the ship to take care of my husband. He was doing better and the swelling did look like it was going down a bit. We didn't do anything tonight since his ankle was hurt but there was a deck party, late night Mexican buffet, etc. Off to bed and hoping that his ankle was better. Up tomorrow Mazatlan (on crutches) . . .we don't have anything planned here and now I'm glad we don't as my husband won't be able to do much. I'm going to try to find some tour where we ride on an open air taxi. Mazatlan (on crutches): [IMG]http://i48.tinypic.com/11w9bas.jpg[/IMG] As you get off the ship in Mazatlan there are several vendors, really many, many vendors selling trolley tours, swim with dolphins, all sorts of tours. We didn't book any tours through the ship, just walked off and booked. I know, Carnival guarantees you won't miss the ship, etc. but if you are not leaving port until 5:30 and your tour is a 2 hour tour that starts at 10:00 . . . you see what I mean, just use common sense. You can tell the individuals selling their own tours in their private cars from the actual tour companies. As it seems, the trolley tour is quite popular and Mazatlan has several trolleys. We paid $30 each ($25 without the t-shirt), and headed out with a group of about 30 on a big red trolley. This company has several red trolleys. We stopped on top of a mountain and you could see all of Mazatlan and the ship (beautiful pictures), then stopped at old Mazatlan, then the cliff divers, on to the historical district, market and church, then off to the Golden Zone. The tour included some drinks along the way. You had the option of getting back on the trolley and going to lunch or shopping longer, I opted for shopping. Then the tour bus picked you back up and took you to the pier. Really a great deal considering it would have been $24/total to/from the Golden Zone just for the taxi. The narrator did an awesome job telling us about all the sites, etc. Once back on the ship we were very hungry (we didn't eat, we just shopped), so we hit the Panini station at the adult pool again. Off to dinner, the show (juggler and comedian) then off to bed. The juggler was pretty good, the comedian was funny at time. If you've been on a few cruises you've seen this all before, heard the jokes before but it was entertaining. My husband joined the blackjack tournament again tonight and once again, "Always the bridesmaid, never the bride" happened to him. He made the final table and was so far up in chips that we thought he had it won. So, he put in only one chip. The other two players put in all their chips and one hit a blackjack! Dagg! He beat my husband by 1 chip . . . . uggg! Up tomorrow, a review of Cabo, we have a whale watching excursion planned. Cabo was the most beautiful of all three ports we visited and the shortest. We were in Cabo from 7 a.m. until 2. We took a whale watching excursion with Pez Gato and I highly recommend them. The whale watching was $30 for 2 hours (you visit the arch too) and free drinks (soda, water, beer, etc). They were highly professional and the boat was new and very clean. They are located at pier 4 (we tender to pier 5) so you literally just walk about 30 yards and your at your excursion. We got off the ship as soon as we can because we wanted to do a little shopping before our whale watching excursion. You walk all the way around the marina to the shops (10 minute walk) and there is a street lined with all the shops. We went to Diamonds International because I wanted a watch. I found a watch, bargained a bit and walked out with the Gucci watch I've wanted forever. I never buy jewelry at the ports as I have a jeweler at home that beats their prices any day of the week however Gucci is price fixed so getting it at a 15% discount and then no tax is pretty good. I could probably find online a bit cheaper but it was fun shopping and getting what I wanted. So, if you want to purchase while in port, make sure you do your homework before hand. Say you want a tanzanite ring, price them out online before your cruise to make sure you are in the same ball park when you purchase on shore, I'm not against buying jewelry while on shore, it's just that there are not those "deals" they claim they have. You will get a good price but better than at home -- only if at home you shop for your jewelry in a mall. So, back to Cabo. The whale watching excursion took about 2.5 hours since we were not seeing a lot of whales, our boat captain took us to a few more spots so that we could get a glimpse. We did see a mom and baby, then we went to the arch to take pictures. There was a rock by the arch that had tons of sea lions . . . .it was so cute to see them in the wild playing and jumping around. They look like cute puppies. Whales (finally): [IMG]http://i45.tinypic.com/3342nlz.jpg[/IMG] SeaLions: [IMG]http://i49.tinypic.com/296gnqp.jpg[/IMG] After the excursion, we walked around the straw market a bit (right at the pier), looked at the same stuff we saw in PV and in Mazatlan (it all looks about the same now), visited a drug store and then back onto the ship. There is a lot of talk about tendering at Cabo, can you do an excursion on your own, etc. Tendering was so very easy. They made an announcement as soon as the tenders were ready, my husband and I walked to the lounge and were given a sticker for tender number four. We basically waited about 3 minutes and were called. Everyone makes a big deal about the tender but it was so easy. Now coming back on the tender had a little longer long. We got in line at 1:30 (last tender was at 2:00) and OMG . . . the line once we finally got into grew so long . . . if it's a hot day, that line would be a pain. The one nice thing about the line is that it stretches in front of several bars and shops. So, someone could stand in the line while others peeked into the shop and then switch on/off. Picture of ship from tender ride: [IMG]http://i50.tinypic.com/t7zbrt.jpg[/IMG] Another nice thing about Cabo is that once you are off the tender, everything is right there at the pier. You don't have to take a cab to get to some interesting sights. Oh, there was a Wildlife exhibit where you could pay $25 and get your picture with a baby tiger. Too cute! Baby Tiger: [IMG]http://i49.tinypic.com/33p56ck.jpg[/IMG] The rest of the day we napped, ate and visited the casino. The ship is really rocking tonight, very rough seas. We took some sea sickness medicine and were really sleepy. I was in bed by 9:00. Up tomorrow, a day at sea and a visit to the spa. Last day . . . . Sigh, heavy heart . . . the last day is already here. We have big plans today to visit the spa and enjoy the pool, see the show, etc. Wow, rough seas have cut into our plans. The shows are all cancelled because it's so rough and all pools, including the spa pool had been drained. It was too dangerous for how the ship is rocking. We have hit the outskirts of the storms that devastated California while we were gone. I've had to take several seasick pills today which caused me to sleep a ton. Today would have been a great day for a massage but the spa is totally booked because the pools are emptied. We visited the casino one last time and my husband was up on slots again. This is so not suppose to happen with slots but honestly, he started the week with $500 and ended with $900. Now, I'm a different story . . . I lost all my gambling budget. Thank goodness I had him to front me extra money to play, I had no luck this trip in the casino. But had fun. The casino had a lot of variety of machines and tables, bigger than most on all the others ships I've visited. Last day, time to get off! I spent the last morning in my windowsill watching the grey of California meet the ship. We are getting into port last this morning because the seas were so rough we had to slow down. Maybe people are so totally mad because they are going to miss their flights. The purser's deck was inundated with irate people yesterday once the announcement was made that we were going to get into dock about 2 hours late. We have a flight at 12:10 out of LAX so I'm sure we are going to miss it. I decided not to stress, there will be another flight and if we don't get out until tomorrow so be it. I have back up for child care and can call off work another day, that makes my stress level lower. I can imagine why others are stressing but it's not Carnival's fault the seas were so crazy. We did self assist in the hopes of maybe making our flights and ended up getting off the ship right about 10:30. I would highly, and I stress highly, recommend NOT doing self assist unless you really, really need to be off the ship right away. It was a zoo with people who couldn't handle their own luggage, pushing, it was completely awful. SO, if you don't need to do it, don't! As I said, we just took out time and didn't push, etc. and ended up getting to the airport about 11:30, for our 12:10 flight. We stood in a long line for security and actually made it to our gate (by running) with one minute to spare. She actually had a countdown clock and told us, you had one minute left. We were really lucky. Self Assist (crazy) - not Carnival's fault, those who are pushing, shoving and not following the guidelines: [IMG]http://i45.tinypic.com/1hbegy.jpg[/IMG] So in a recap: We loved the Splendor, the dEcor was crazy if you looked at it piece by piece. There were these crazy zebra stripped pink dots everywhere. And the individual dEcor pieces in the dinning room looked like something out of Dr. Seuss but all together it worked . . . . . The Service in the dining room, not as good as other cruises but nothing to write a complaint about. The Service on our room was outstanding. The food, better than all the other cruises we've been on in the last five years. Carnival stepped it up a bit from our last cruise in June. The spa was pricey but elegant and totally full service. Worth a visit if you can afford it. Did I use the spa services that I purchase by buying a week pass . . . . no, not enough to justify the cost. Only made it to the spa pool two times. Would have been more if not for the rough seas. The casino was large and friendly to my hubby, not to me. But loads of fun and the casino host that handled the tournaments was very nice. The lido buffet/grill/food area was very large and expansive. We did not encounter any really long lines except for the last sea day when we went at peak lunch time (noon) and on the last morning. Entertainment, we didn't see many of the shows so I can't comment. On the reruns on the TV, I didn't care of Stephanie the cruise director. It wasn't anything she did but that she constantly would say . . . ."all right, all right . . . . " as a filler and it drove me crazy. That's all for now, any questions, just ask! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
This was my fourth Oosterdam cruise and my third cruise in as many months (the others were on different ships on different lines). I went on this cruise not expecting much. My purpose was to get over the HAL's magic 200 day hurdle and ... Read More
This was my fourth Oosterdam cruise and my third cruise in as many months (the others were on different ships on different lines). I went on this cruise not expecting much. My purpose was to get over the HAL's magic 200 day hurdle and get my fourth star (and free laundry!). Prior to this cruise, my 37th in total, I had accumulated 199 days. While not expecting much, I was pleasantly surprised. HAL did a great job with just a little bit to complain about -- but no cruise is entirely perfect. I drove to San Diego and took the park and cruise package at the Bayside Holiday Inn. This is an outstanding deal if you drive to San Diego. Embarkation was a breeze, but the San Diego facility could use some upgrading. It was spiffier at the turn of this century. Since we would be eating HAL-fare for the next week, when we got our boarding cards, we left the pier for lunch at Anthony's, the seafood restaurant up the block and boarded the Oosterdam at 1:30PM. I have to say that she looks good. I like the changes. The Exploration whatever, aka the ship's library now shares space with the Crows Nest. While one is a bar/nightclub, the partnership works out surprisingly well. In the past the Crows Nest had some wasted space which is now put to good use. The aft pool deck has been expanded. There are lots of shaded tables near the Lido and the chaise space has not been compromised. The store area on deck three (forget what it's proper name is) is much easier to navigate. There is a small and very deluxe movie theatre in deck two, The Screening Room. No popcorn, but the room is very luxe. We had a basic veranda room. Having recently been in a similar class cabin on the Sapphire Princess, HAL wins hands down. The bathroom has a small tub, no get the shower water all over the floor, the room is bigger with a small couch, and the outside area is much larger and more private. The cabin need a little fixing, ie the shower needed adjusting as did the adjustable coffee table and the chair was stained. I mentioned all this to our steward, and everything was fixed and the chair replaced. I often wonder if other people who don't get this cooperation are just unpleasant to the staff. Incidentally, HAL's beds are the best. I have never thought that HAL had the best food at sea. Certainly they do not in the dining room. However, this is a blessing for me, since I would rather gain weight on the munchies in the Ocean Bar and in the cafeteria line at the Lido. Sorry purists the Lido is really a cafeteria! However. the service was a little disjointed on several nights. We got two plates of wonderful chocolate strawberries for our inconvenience. Now here is what is really good -- the new restaurant in the Lido, Canaletto. It is a new no charge restaurant with absolutely great Italian food. The menu is not huge and everything is made to order. The staff are all old standby HAL types. Perhaps because of Canaletto, HAL now serves the best Pizza afloat, not in this restaurant, but as a standby in the Lido. It is available at all hours, at least after the Lido closes at eight. All the old standbys are still alive and well -- the chocolate buffet, the HAL tiles, the munchies in the bars, the good nuts on formal nights, and HAL's best kept secret, for me at least, the Wine Card! I won't talk about the ports or the evening entertainment, except for my eating/drinking comments above. So to conclude HAL is still a fine line, at least as good as the competition in its class. Disembarkation was a bit, only a bit confusing, but who really wants to get off a fine cruise ship anyway Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
This was my first cruise on the 8-day Mexican Riviera cruise. It was on the Spirit and this was the first time I had sailed on this class of ship. Our stops were Acapulco, Zihatanejo, and Manzanillo. 2 couples in our early 50's and ... Read More
This was my first cruise on the 8-day Mexican Riviera cruise. It was on the Spirit and this was the first time I had sailed on this class of ship. Our stops were Acapulco, Zihatanejo, and Manzanillo. 2 couples in our early 50's and two in their late 70's. We drove down from Los Angeles and parked at the Mission Brewery Parking lot. It is a short shuttle drive over to the pier and with the coupon we got online it was $8 per day. The shuttle dropped us off and we entered the security and check in line. Once we got inside the lane wrapped for what looked like miles. I was really disappointed. But Carnival had about 20 check in people working and we were through the line in about 20 minutes then onto the Spirit. As usual, the Lido was packed, but we found a table for 8 and sat down for lunch. Rooms were ready about 2pm and we went off to our rooms. We had 8237 which was a 9A balcony. I have been with CC for many years and learned to really pay attention to what people write about the rooms. Our room was nice, lots of storage (almost more than I have in my Master bedroom). BUT, the complaints of noise from above is true. We were directly next to the elevator (not a problem) and right below the Lido deck. Others have said the room is below the 24 hour pizza bar, but in looking at it, it was a little bit away from it. But we did get bumping and thumping noises all night long. I sleep through most things, but the DW complained daily. We also could not get the room to cool down below about 75 degrees, not sure if it is built that way, but I did not like the temperature. I would not stay in this room again. All of my cruise mates have said several times with NCL and said the rooms on Spirit were much larger with more storage. They were glad they gave Carnival a chance. I found the food, service, shows and cleanliness of the ship to be what I have received and observed on other cruise lines, neither better nor worse. I did notice Budweiser was more expensive than Miller lite, which I had never noticed before. It was only about .50 or .75 difference, but with my bar bill, I learned to like Miller. One of our group is handicapped (uses a walker) and was upgraded from 4 A to a handicapped room on deck 7. Very nice room. Servers and wait staff also made sure he had assistance at the buffet. We did our own excursions so can't report much. All of us had been to Acapulco before so we hired a taxi van and did the cliff divers, Senor Frogs, the old hotel on the hill (old part of town) then headed to a local restaurant and had dinner, then back to the ship. There is a bar at the port, Carlos Obrien's I think, and we drank there the rest of the night. In Zihatanejo DW and I took a cab to Ixtapa and did some shopping. I don't think the cab fare was worth the savings on the things DW bought, but it was a nicer town than at the port. The others went to a local restaurant and you guessed it, ate. Did I mention they all eat a lot? Guacamole and salsa was always in demand. Guess what we did in Manzanillo. Yup, shopping and restaurant. The bus to town was $4 per person, which honestly, I think Carnival should pick up. Don't get me wrong, I thought the price for this cruise was excellent and definitely a value, but Carnival should be able to pick up the shuttle cost so we could go at least get into town. My guess is it was about 4 or 5 miles from the industrial port to civilization. Just my thought here. Getting off the ship in San Diego was excellent, we were off the ship by 10am and on the road home by 10:30. We all had a great time and look forward to cruising again and again ( as long as the senior citizens can handle it anyway). Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
This was my 5th cruise and the first time not on NCL, so some of this review will be a comparison of RCI and NCL. I took the Mariner of the Seas out of Los Angeles because I wanted to try another cruise line and living in Southern ... Read More
This was my 5th cruise and the first time not on NCL, so some of this review will be a comparison of RCI and NCL. I took the Mariner of the Seas out of Los Angeles because I wanted to try another cruise line and living in Southern California made it easy to just drive over and get aboard. The price for a solo senior passenger was only 50% of double occupancy on this particular cruise so I would have had to pay several hundred $ more for the same type of cabin on the Norwegian Star, which I have sailed before and know to be a smaller, inferior ship. I went solo but my husband and son and daughter-in-law were outside at the Acapulco restaurant at Ports of Call waving goodbye as we went down the channel so that was a nice send-off. I had been reading some really good things about Royal Caribbean and I must say there was no mistaking this ship for one of NCL's. Two of the cruises I took on NCL were on their best ships - the Jewel (transatlantic) and the Pearl (Alaska), but there is a night and day difference between even those ships and the Mariner of the Seas. In the first place, the MOS is 50% larger, although it doesn't really feel like it. Holding many more passengers than either of those two ships (about 3200 on this particular cruise), I never had the sense the ship was crowded. There were just no lines. The deck plan on MOS was designed so it doesn't really seem that far from bow to stern because it's broken up into thirds. For example, the Promenade only runs about the middle 1/3 of the length of the ship. The ship is really easy to navigate. Another thing that is nice on the MOS is you can actually go right up to the bow of the ship and have your Titanic "I'm flying" moment. On NCL, the forward deck is off limits to passengers. The Windjammer Cafe wraps around the whole back of the ship so you can eat your meals overlooking either side or aft over the wake. The quality and variety of the food at the buffet was quite good. One nice thing is they have waiters who have responsibility for a certain area of tables and they will bring you your made to order omelet, juice or water, etc. Apparently most of the passengers preferred the dining room for dinner because the Windjammer was rarely full in the evenings. I only ate in the dining room twice. Once was when we were in Mazatlan - it was casual night (wear something Caribbean) so not too dressy. The 3-level dining room is magnificent and the service was impeccable. The salad was fresh, the food was hot, and I enjoyed the surroundings. I had opted for My Time Dining which means you eat on the highest level (Sound of Music Dining Room - deck 5) and you can show up any time between 6 and 9 or make a reservation earlier in the day for the specific time you want. I think this is actually better than NCL Freestyle, since you can still do first come first served OR make a reservation just to be sure you don't have to wait. You can either eat with strangers and make new friends or eat with the group you are traveling with. There are tables of all sizes. I did an NCL transatlantic solo since my husband would have been bored out of his mind not stopping at any ports, but I don't think even he would get bored on MOS. There are tons of things to do. There is miniature golf, a rock climbing wall, or you can go ice skating. All sorts of different shows, bands, etc. They have the usual casino and a lot of bars and lounges and dance clubs. There just seems to be more variety (appeals to more age groups) on this ship than on NCL. Of course they all have the same dance lessons, bingo, art shows, jewelry lectures, etc. And the same shopping venues, only somehow it is more appealing when you're wandering down the Promenade on MOS. The Promenade goes from Deck 5 through 8. The first level is shops - the next three are inside cabins with windows overlooking the Promenade like a European street. As far as the staterooms go, the MOS balcony rooms seem larger than the NCL balconies even though they're basically the same size, because on MOS the bed is over by the sliding door next to the balcony. On NCL the bed comes first so you pretty much walk in and run into the bed. The MOS layout is much nicer and the room seems larger because you come into the sitting area (couch and desk) first. NCL has better bathrooms though. MOS has a weird little round shower with curved plastic sliding doors. NCL showers are much larger (walk-in, not just stand in one spot in) and have 3-section sliding glass doors. The MOS is about 6 years old but it looks brand new. Everything is shined and spotless, from the decks to the railings to the stone/tile floors in the Promenade. It is a very classy-looking ship. Every day the carpet in every elevator is changed so when you look down you see a carpet that says SUNDAY or THURSDAY or whatever day it is. I never saw these being changed so I have no idea what hour of the day this takes place! They just magically change at some point. I was told that Behind the Scenes tours are only available for suite or Diamond guests. There is no opportunity for anyone else to see the working part of the ship, which was a disappointment. NCL offers these tours to a limited number of passengers, regardless of status, although there is a charge. But it is well worth the price. I believe on MOS they had a Behind the Stage tour, but that's all you get to see - behind the stage. Our fist port was Cabo San Lucas and now I know why they call it the Mexican Riviera. It is just beautiful sailing in - just like you are arriving at a Mediterranean port. If you are going to get a balcony room (and I do not understand why anyone would want to have a room without one), I recommend getting one on the port side, because that way you have a birds' eye view of the coast of Mexico as you come into Cabo - wide beaches, rocky arches, beautiful resorts and condos perched on cliffs. (This way you will catch the sun and the sunset on the two days at sea on the way home, too.) There were dolphins jumping out of the water all around the ship as we came in, and I even saw several whales. Cabo is a tender port. I waited until about 45 minutes after the first tender left to go down to Deck 1 and there was no waiting at all to catch a boat at that time. Instead of one large tender, they run lots of smaller tenders so the line moves quickly. It's only about a 5-minute ride to the marina since the ship comes in so close to the marina. Apparently other cruise ships have to anchor way offshore but the MOS does not anchor - it uses GPS to maintain its position all day in the bay. That is why it is allowed in so close - because it doesn't have to anchor. Dropping an anchor would impact the environment. There is a huge flea market right when you get off the tender that is a nice place to stop on your way back to the ship after you have had a chance to look around the town. There are numerous little bars and outdoor cafes along the marina where you can get something to drink, a plate of nachos and just people watch. Or you can sit on your balcony (if you're on the port side) and just watch all the boats, jet skis, parasailing, even a yellow submarine between you and Los Arcos. I did not get off the ship in Mazatlan, decided just to have a lazy onboard day. It was very pretty coming into Mazatlan, though. We came through a very narrow inlet between the breakwaters. On one side of the ship was the city and the other almost looked like fishing villages on the edge of the jungle. The Sapphire Princess was already docked when we arrived. I see now why you hear about these cruise ships occasionally bumping into each other. It was very tight fit. In Puerto Vallarta I took a 4 � hour city tour by coach so I could see as much of the city as possible. It was advertised as a scenic tour but when we gathered on the pier we discovered it was a city and SHOPPING tour. So we made two or three 30-minute stops at various stores that were recommended by RCI. I actually bought a couple of things but I thought we spent too much time stopping to shop and not enough sightseeing. When I returned to the ship I looked up the tour and confirmed it said SCENIC Tour and not SHOPPING Tour. However, I don't regret taking the tour - the guide was a fountain of information - geography, history, culture, etc. He was just excellent and we really did get to see a lot of the area - I just didn't think it was advertised appropriately. We stopped for an authentic Mexican lunch at a small restaurant way out of town. I was surprised how tropical everything was until I learned Puerto Vallarta is the same latitude as Hawaii. It actually looks a lot like Hawaii. The last two days were at sea and there was a fair amount of movement to the ship both days. I got some rather impressive video of the water sloshing out of the pools as the bow of the ship raised and fell in the Pacific swells. The one problem I had was with the Internet. MOS has six Internet hot spots on board and you first have to set up an Internet account with RCI. I have just an ordinary Dell and use Outlook for email (tied to a Verizon account) so nothing unusual in my opinion. However, I had a terrible time accessing the Internet. I could connect to wireless and got an excellent signal, but the Royal Caribbean page never opened so I could log in. I went down to guest relations and asked for help and they gave me a 2-page troubleshooting guide. There was no one to assist me beyond this. (On NCL, they have a manager in the Internet Cafe who I assume has computer skills.) Anyway, went through the troubleshooting guide - everything was set correctly - checked my LAN settings, unchecked my Proxy Server, etc. etc. - still, the page never opened. I went back to guest relations and just asked them for the URL so I could just go directly to the web site but they assured me that No, I couldn't get there that way. So I went back up to the hot spot, re-checked everything - still no success - finally just took a shot and typed in "Royal-WiFi" into the address bar and what do you know, the login page popped up no problem. I immediately downloaded all my email and tried to send out three messages I had previously composed. But there was a Send error - something about the authentication required by the RCI client was not recognized by my server. I went back down to guest relations and again asked for assistance. The person took down my message, said he would talk to IT and would leave me a message in my stateroom about what to do, but I never heard anything. It just seemed odd that I would not be able to send email. I travel a lot on business and I can't remember ever being ANYWHERE I was not able to fiddle around with my email settings and get it to work. And to be able to receive but not send? I was disappointed there was no apparent interest on the part of guest relations to get me connected. There are data ports in the staterooms for Ethernet cables (which I had) but I was told these were never activated. You have to go to one of the hot spots which are in various lounges around the ship. I would take this cruise again in a heartbeat. In fact, our family is already making plans to go on the same itinerary in 2011. There were dozens of excursions available at each port to appeal to almost anyone's interests and the final two days were spent just relaxing at sea getting back to Los Angeles. I thought the Mariner of the Seas was the perfect cruise ship - large enough to swallow 3200 passengers, large enough to offer a huge variety of activities, but not so large that you forget you're at sea and not just in a big hotel. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
Forty years ago, we taught school together at the American School of Kinshasa. This cruise brought 14 of us together again, as we are mostly now retired. Some flew to LAX or Long Beach. We drove 4 hours on Saturday and stayed at the Long ... Read More
Forty years ago, we taught school together at the American School of Kinshasa. This cruise brought 14 of us together again, as we are mostly now retired. Some flew to LAX or Long Beach. We drove 4 hours on Saturday and stayed at the Long Beach airport Holiday Inn, which provided free parking for the 7-day cruise. The ship is the largest we've been on, with 3,600 passengers on this cruise. We experienced great service and a variety of activities and entertainment on board. For dinners, we could sit together at two adjoining tables in the Gold Pearl Restaurant, with Albert and Rodney as our superb waiters. They made the dinner hour a fun and delightfully filling experience. Our stateroom was interior, but well designed with great facilities and a great bargain. Some friends had exterior or balcony rooms, also well designed. Daily service for the room by Ing was courteous and timely. The first port was Puerto Vallarta, which included an adventuresome snorkeling trip in the rain. Not the best weather but we saw lots of fish at Los Arcos. We chartered a boat for ten with Puerto Vallarta Tours. At the second port, Mazatlan, we had a gorgeous sunny day. Our walking tour of the "Historic Centro" was really fun. Lots of restored buildings, a nice waterfront walk (Malecon), and fun Plaza Machada. We missed the rock divers but saw the place. At the last port, we only had a few hours, with tender transport to shore. We did take a boat to see the "land's end" rock, a worthwhile excursion. A special treat for our "reunion sharing activities" was the use of the Pink Pearl Room that the cruise services director provided us. Having that available was a great plus for a group tour. Disembarkation in Long Beach was somewhat poorly organized and thus our time off the ship was delayed for more than an hour. However, overall, the cruise was fun and above our expectations. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
We embarked from San Diego, which is a wonderful port in itself. Spent the night at the Hampton Inn (very close to the cruise port) the night before. Embarkation was a bit slow, but in light of increased security, it was understandable. We ... Read More
We embarked from San Diego, which is a wonderful port in itself. Spent the night at the Hampton Inn (very close to the cruise port) the night before. Embarkation was a bit slow, but in light of increased security, it was understandable. We like the Celebrity process where previous cruisers with the line have an expedited boarding. But this wasn't bad. Our cabin, 8033, was one of the smaller veranda cabins. It was really small, but offered enough storage. If and when we sail again with Holland America, we would choose a suite. We were traveling with friends who did just that and they had an incredible cabin with a large bath and sitting area and larger balcony. Everything was very clean and the bed was super comfy. We had courtesy robes, which makes it much more pampering. The balcony was large enough with nice wicker chairs (one with ottoman). We were on the starboard side and we always had good views the way we were docked in each port. One thing that stood out on this ship was the entertainment. All of the performers were a notch above the standard cruise fare. Very talented entertainment crew and wonderful choice of guest entertainers. We had Leo Ward, a magician and illusionist, who was also very funny---loved him. We had a comedian named Barnaby who we adored and another comedian/ventriloquist named Don Bryan who was hilarious and the best we've seen. We also saw Delores Park, a singer, who was incredible. Just fabulous entertainment and we looked forward to each night's offering. Okay, there has to be a few things that we weren't crazy about. The dining room was beautiful, but there was no background music, which would have been nice. Our wait staff was wonderful. Our waiter was Viand and he couldn't have been nicer and more attentive. But the menu----I admit we are just plain old Southerners with not the most sophisticated palettes on the planet. But the offerings on the menu were extremely gourmet and the items offered all the time were limited. I love a shrimp cocktail. I only got one and that one had 3 medium sized shrimp. We never had lobster offered. The entrees were heavy. They always had a spa offering which was lower in calories and fat. The only other thing I could criticize on this cruise or the ship was the smoking policy. I have asthma and did not appreciate the fact that smoking was allowed in the casino and the sports bar. I don't know if it was allowed in any other public rooms, but we had to go through the casino often and it was horribly smoky. Also, we would have like to go to the casino occasionally, but couldn't. The Australian Open was on during the cruise and we wanted to go to the sports bar to see it on a bigger screen, but couldn't because of the smoke. There are cruise lines who have a stricter policy and unfortunately, we will have to go to them even though we prefer Holland American. The Fitness Center was very good and the staff were very helpful. We didn't use the spa, so can't speak to that. The Lido Grill is probably the best at sea. There are so many choices. There is a Bistro section (sandwiches, deli), an Asian section, etc. Something for everyone. The Pinnacle Grill was the alternative dining with charge ($20 pp at night, $10 for lunch). The menu is very good, the food excellent and the presentation is beautiful. We didn't think the wait staff were very friendly, compared to our regular dining room. We ate there for our anniversary evening and for my birthday. Our cruise director, Patty, was down-to-earth, friendly and made the cruise fun. She is one of the very best cruise directors we have had. We've been on twelve cruises and we've seen all kinds. The Ports: Mazatlan was okay. We didn't do a shore excursion and opted for a taxi ride to the old town to do some looking around and shopping. We had lunch, then back to the ship. Puerto Vallarta is beautiful and easy to get around. We lived there for a short time, so we love going back as often as we can. We got a taxi and took our friends for a tour of the town. There are scads of 4 and 5 star restaurants there, so food is not a problem. Shopping is good too. Look for the Mexican pewter bowls and platters---very pretty and useful. The Malecon is great for walking along the water and people watching. Hautulco was extremely old and dirty. We walked around a bit. It was very hot. Not much shopping. There were some interesting excursions offered. That it the best bet in this port. Acapulco has a lot to see. The cliff divers are the most interesting. We took an excursion on a boat around the coastline of Acapulco, saw the cliff divers and a lot of famous homes. Very nice. Cabo San Lucas is a wonderful port. Scenic and clean. We walked around, got a water taxi to The Office, a cute little beach restaurant that is very famous. On the way, our captain took us to Los Arcos and the rocks where the sea lions gather. This is a bargain ($20 for two) and you get to see a lot. Disembarkation was a snap. You receive a color luggage tag and you remain in your cabin until called. They were running a little late,due to having to clear some guests through customs, but we were off the boat by 10:30 am. We had a 2:00 flight back to Florida, so we had plenty of time. There is an expedited disembarkation offered at $19 pp for luggage and $19 pp for transportation. We just got a shuttle and went to the airport, which was about 5 minutes from the port and it cost $10. The Oosterdam is a beautiful ship, Holland American does it right. This was our second cruise aboard Holland. This itinerary was perfect for us with 5 days at sea and 5 ports (6 including San Diego). We were rested when we got home. Love those longer cruises!! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
My husband and I are 62 years old and this was our 5th cruise (1 on NCL, 2 on Carnival, 1 on Princess). This was our first inside cabin (at an incredibly low price) and the 7th deck location worked out very well. The bed was comfortable, ... Read More
My husband and I are 62 years old and this was our 5th cruise (1 on NCL, 2 on Carnival, 1 on Princess). This was our first inside cabin (at an incredibly low price) and the 7th deck location worked out very well. The bed was comfortable, the cabin had adequate room and storage, and I liked being at the front end of the ship with nearby elevator access up to the Solarium and down to the Savoy Theater, and our corridor ended with a view down to the Royal Promenade. Dining options were on the other end of the ship, which was just as well to take a walk outside on Deck 4 before eating or a stroll on the Promenade. The Cafe was close by for late night snacks and morning coffee. We usually had room service breakfast, timely and cheerfully delivered, arranged by ticking off your menu choices, including eggs and bacon or sausage (unlike Carnival), and leaving it outside on your door before 3 a.m. The buffet and dining room breakfasts were also good. We left the TV on all night to a station displaying the time, but wished we had watches with illuminated dials. A TV channel with the current weather and temperature would be helpful when preparing for the day in a windowless room. There were no complimentary toiletries in the bathroom, so bring your own shampoo, etc. Our room steward was friendly and helpful, always smiling; we heard they receive no salary, only the tips, so be generous. Speaking of tips, we learned a 15% gratuity is automatically added to bills, and any "additional tip" you add goes to the particular server or bartender you are dealing with, so you can acknowledge good service. Friendly, cheerful and efficient service was ubiquitous on this ship. We live in Los Angeles, so a quick drive brought us to San Pedro by 12:30 p.m., where a porter watched our bags while I got baggage tags and my husband parked the car ($12/night). We boarded easily and were in our room by 1:30 p.m., with time to eat and explore before departure, although our bags didn't arrive until later. The Mariner is big but easily maneuverable. There was sometimes a wait for an elevator, and some crowding at popular venues. Deck 3 with the ice rink doesn't go all the way through, and the upper decks with the arcade, miniature golf, Johnny Rockets, and the beautiful Ellington's lounge can get a little confusing. My husband felt the Royal Promenade was just one bar after another, and not enough variety of shops. I liked it, especially the Cafe for some pizza, coffee, sandwiches and cookies day and night. We didn't hang out in the lounges (Lotus, Bolero, Dragon's Lair disco) so I can't attest to the music quality, nor did we listen to the karaoke. There was a piano bar, but I never heard passengers participating and didn't much care for the pianist/singer. The casino was fine. The 3-level dining room is really gorgeous, as are all of the public spaces, with lots of interesting and whimsical art. I think the Mariner is one classy ship with a sense of humor. The crowd was basically older, but there were lots of activities for kids and families. I really regret not playing miniature golf or using the arcade, although I will leave the rock climbing and ice skating to the kids. My favorite thing was lounging in the Solarium. The hot tubs there are large and sometimes attracted a boisterous crowd, but usually it was a pleasant place to read and catch rays in beautiful surroundings. It is close to the gym and the sauna/steam rooms, which has its own towels, so you can turn in your pool towels. Our "at sea" days weren't all that warm, but it helped to stay out of the wind. The boat was really rocking the last two days back, so shuffleboard was a little tricky and golf impossible, not to mention sleeping and walking being difficult. The only thing I can't be very positive about was the food. The presentation and service in the dining room was great, and they really tried for variety and interesting choices, but I just found the food unmemorable. The pizza and baked goods were sub-par, the self-serve frozen yogurt can't compare to ice cream, and Carnival just does a much better job with all their cooking, especially the meats, deli, pizza and desserts. Even the drinks I had - Bloody Marys and Margaritas - weren't very good. The wine list was OK, but bottles were expensive. The buffet had good variety with a special emphasis on Asian specialities, but besides the mediocre food, seating can be hard to find at times and there is no outdoor place to eat, which I really miss. And there was never any Mexican food the whole trip! The poolside dancing and buffet night did offer a great suckling pig, ice and watermelon carvings, but nothing like the food shows I've seen on other lines. Carnival wins hands down in the dining category (I'm still lusting after their Reuben sandwiches and molten chocolate cake). The entertainment was consistently wonderful, and the fabulous ice show is not to be missed. It is offered 4 or 5 times, so don't wait in line for an hour like I did for the 9 p.m. show. The singers and shows in the Savoy were the best of any cruise I've taken. The cruise director Dan was very personable and entertaining. The Quest game was wild and wooly and good, if exhausting, fun for those who throw themselves into it. Just remember, you'll never see these people again so go ahead and make a fool of yourself! The ship arrived at the ports on time, the weather was sunny and great, and since we'd been to these ports before, we just took it easy. In Cabo we took a water taxi from the pier to Medano Beach and endured the vendors while sunbathing and drinking beers at The Beach Club. In Mazatlan we investigated possible retirement properties north of the marina and had lunch on our favorite patio next to the ocean at Playa Mazatlan. We had an ambitious plan for Puerto Vallarta to take a bus south to Boca de Tomatlan and hike to Colomitos cove, but we got a late start and opted for a taxi to Boca ($24), and 240 pesos for a boat round trip to the cove. The surf was rough and we waded ashore, but the little secluded beach was worth it, even though we couldn't snorkel as we had planned. We had it to ourselves for 1 ½ hours before another (younger) couple hiked in. It was such a long, beautiful ride back ($35 this time) to the marina that we just shopped and drank on the pier by the boat until it was time to board. Debarkation was efficient and smooth, but don't wait in the long line with your luggage to clear customs once you're off the boat. Grab a porter and pay to have him guide you through customs in a much shorter line and then wait with your luggage while you retrieve your car. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
My husband and I had not travelled on HAL for 8 years as he become weary of the dress code and the set dining so we switched over to Oceania with their open seating and smart casual dress code. We understood that their policy on dining and ... Read More
My husband and I had not travelled on HAL for 8 years as he become weary of the dress code and the set dining so we switched over to Oceania with their open seating and smart casual dress code. We understood that their policy on dining and dress code had changed so when we saw this cruise advertised we thought it would be a good opportunity to try HAL again and to also get some sunshine. We were very impressed with the entire experience and are very happy with some of their innovations. Positive impressions for us were the following: Entertainment-Best we have ever experienced on any cruise. Activity Staff- Patty and her staff were also the best we have ever experienced and Capt. Vanderloo has to be one of the most personable Captains afloat. Lido Restaurant-We really liked the idea of the separate food stations Culinary Centre-Great idea and enjoyed the cooking classes and culinary chats Crew-Friendly and efficient Cabin-Roomy with lots of storage space and nice sized balcony Cleanliness-We have always been impressed with HAL in this area and with the concern of the outbreak of a gastric infection on one of the other ships in port in Acapulco with thought the manner in which the Oosterdam went into alert was excellent. It says something for the staff when you have the entertainers working in the Lido pleasantly handing out food in the daytime and then putting on a fabulous show for us at night. Only negative that we thought could be handled more efficiently, was the immigration process for non US Citizens. There were several of us on this cruise and they did not allow enough space for folks in wheelchairs to get up to the officers. The delay of the disembarkation time was not HAL's fault but that of passengers not reporting on time. Overall a great experience and we shall be sailing again on HAL. The other positive for us was San Diego as the port of embarkation. Great destination in itself. We flew down the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express,Downtown which we would highly recommend. Good accommodation and they provide a free shuttle from the airport and to the ship. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
My daughter and I sailed on Radiance Jan.2nd from San Diego. We had a wonderful cruise on our favourite ship, our cabin was 7040 which is a forward cabin, usually we prefer a mid-ship cabin but 7040 was perfect, the balcony was almost ... Read More
My daughter and I sailed on Radiance Jan.2nd from San Diego. We had a wonderful cruise on our favourite ship, our cabin was 7040 which is a forward cabin, usually we prefer a mid-ship cabin but 7040 was perfect, the balcony was almost twice the size of a regular D2, this was I think because this part of the ship juts out a bit as it gets nearer to the front. Elevators were right round the corner, (no noise at all) very easy to get to the Spa and Solarium. I had a lounger on the balcony and spent a few hours in the afternoon in perfect peace. We did not use the dining room for dinner any night, we much prefer the Windjammer for our evening meal and the waiters and management were a great bunch. They soon get to know you and we always tip our waiter at the end of the cruise. We used the Seaview once or twice but to be honest are never really impressed with this establishment. The overall condition of the ship is still as good as it was on our first cruise on her a good few years ago. The Concierge Club on 10 was was great. We were looked after by Georgina who was doing a temporary job...but she was the best concierge I have met for a while!! hope she remains as concierge for a long time. This was our first ever cruise from San Diego and it was so convenient, we stayed at Embassy Suites on Pacific Highway and were only a few minutes to the terminal. Mazatlan, Cabos and Vallarta were excellent, but Manzanillo was a total waste of a day, the ship was berthed in a commercial dock, there was a terrible smell that hung around all day long, and there were a group of workmen on the pier who had a pneumatic drill going from the time we arrived til the time we left. Ixthapa was ok. We were lucky enough on this cruise to see pods of dolphins almost every day, Pilot Whales and Humpbacks were also seen in abundance and not to forget the cute flying fish!! Hope this is a wee bit helpful, if anyone has any questions on Radiance or RCCL please get back to me. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
I speak for both couples who enjoyed the Mariner immensely. Cruise Critic was an immense help in planning our cruise, and thanks go to all the contributors for their insight. Embarking and debarking was a breeze in LA. We were aboard in ... Read More
I speak for both couples who enjoyed the Mariner immensely. Cruise Critic was an immense help in planning our cruise, and thanks go to all the contributors for their insight. Embarking and debarking was a breeze in LA. We were aboard in less than 20 minutes and enjoyed a fine lunch in the Windjammer while waiting for our room. We ate nightly in the main dining room and had a great waiter from the Philippines, Christian, on deck 3. The head waiter, Suleman, from Turkey, visited our table nightly and even had staff check up on my wife the one night she didn't feel well enough to join us for dinner. All four of us found the food of high quality, especially the escargot (served minus the shell in a wonderful broth) and the Friday night lobster (I ate 3 plates, including the garlic shrimp they were served with!). We had each planned on the Gold wine package, but upgraded to the Platinum on board as there was a far better selection at only $15 more. Cost was $243.26 total, including the 15% gratuity and $19.01 tax (base cost was $195). I found the wines priced similarly to restaurants here in the Northwest and...as a former retail wine shop owner...all were very drinkable. The one night my wife wasn't there, I was allowed to take the opened bottle back to the cabin. After having breakfast in the main dining room the first two morning, we switched to the Windjammer in order to enjoy the ocean view and select the amount of food (there were tons of choices) from the buffet lines. We also lunched in Windjammer as well each day we were at sea. For the calorie conscious, there were low sugar and sugar free desserts that satisfied the sweet tooth...especially the sugar free key lime pie. Wine in Vintages on the Royal Promenade was extremely varied and priced from $6.00 plus gratuity for a 5 ounce glass. All liquor pours were generous as well. I enjoyed the adults only Solarium for reading in comfy recliners when the wind came up on the open decks, and the Fitness Center was outstanding. The steam room was a special treat. Cruise director Kieron, from Dover, England, was everywhere. And, Captain Per kept us abreast of things over the speakers and in Q&A sessions that were televised into the cabins. The ice show was everything others have said about it, a must see! Star Search winner Kenny James put on a fine show, featuring songs by many of Motown's most famous artists. Aerialist and adage duo Jimmy & Anna performed two nights, and were great. And, the biggest surprise was the Karaoke finals. We're no fans of karaoke, but the six finalists from the guests aboard were all outstanding. Even though we opted for an interior cabin, it was more than adequate. Our attendant, Althea, did a great job, and we looked forward to her towel decor on the bed each evening. She was very creative in tying in my wife's dark glasses with different animal figures each evening. The highlight of Cabo San Lucas was sailing into port with the varied rock formations offering a striking view. The four of us opted to stay near the dock where we enjoyed a reasonable lunch, margaritas and beer at one of the many restaurants along the water. I hadn't been to Mazatlan in more than 40 years, and we hired Rafael to take us on a two-hour tour of town for $l0 each. He did a great job and dropped us off at the boat dock for Stone Island. As I recall, it was 5 pesos each for the short ride across the harbor and then 20 pesos each for a ride on the back of a pickup across the hill to the beach. A huge shrimp lunch at Victor's was about $6.50 each, and I enjoyed a swim in the warm waters there. Having been to Puerto Vallarta on five previous occasions, we took the bus from the harbor to El Centro (about 50 cents) and showed the wonderful Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church off to our cruisemates who hadn't been to Vallarta before. We then walked the Malecon over the Rio Cuale to what is known as the Romantic Zone on Playa de los Muertos (Dead Man's Beach) where we usually stay. From there, we took the bus down to Mismaloya (about 10 miles south of town) and still only about 50 cents a person for the ride. We enjoyed lunch there for the afternoon. And the ride down, past all the resort hotels and through the many flowered walls and jungle-like setting is probably the best buy in town. We made the mandatory stop at Wal-Mart across from the harbor before re-boarding the Mariner. A bottle of tequila, 100% agave, was just over $9 U.S. and the usually reliable Osa Negra vodka was less than $7. I was surprised to fine that I was allowed to take the bottles directly to our cabin. It had been reported that RCI confiscated purchased alcohol and tagged it for you cabin and returned it to you prior to departure. Upon returning to the ship, we learned there had been a bomb threat about 9 a.m. that morning and that all guests on decks 1, 2 and 3 that hadn't departed by then had to stay in their cabins until around noon. Fortunately, it was a false alarm, and Captain Per invited everyone aboard to enjoy complimentary champagne or screwdrivers on the Royal Promenade that afternoon. Aside from the bomb scare, the only other negative was just one waiter at breakfast in the Windjammer who was less than attentive and enthusiastic and the fact that the Maitre'd in the Rhapsody in Blue main dining room never bothered to visit our table...despite stopping by every other table in our area. But the rest of the crew always had smiles on their faces, a friendly greeting and couldn't have been nicer to deal with. We're already looking forward to another cruise with RCI next year and can't say enough about this beautiful ship and great crew. Read Less

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