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6,366 Mexican Riviera Cruise Reviews

The January 5-15 Princess sailing to the Mexican Riviera aboard the Sapphire was overall a great cruise. Entertainment was full of variety and very funny at times. Our favorite was Steve Moris. He was part of the Beach Boys for a while and ... Read More
The January 5-15 Princess sailing to the Mexican Riviera aboard the Sapphire was overall a great cruise. Entertainment was full of variety and very funny at times. Our favorite was Steve Moris. He was part of the Beach Boys for a while and now is doing his own thing. Aside from great music he was also very funny. He only performed 2 times and that was a shame. Our other favorites were the juggler and the magician. We also wished they had more performances. Food in the dining room was always top class and very tasty. Service was probably the best we ever had. Neither my husband or I could find anything wrong with any of the dining rooms as far as food. The only thing I wished is that they told us somehow that each anytime dining has a special like the Santa Fe dining room special is fajitas and they were truly, hands down, the best I ever had. the Horizon buffet court was a different story. Breakfast and lunch was always the same. The same eggs, bacon and sausage and some cold fish they never thawed properly so it tasted like rubber. Lunch was the usual sandwiches, curry meats, rice, guacamole and salsa with chips. They called that a Mexican lunch! We stuck to pizza and the burger bar which would grill the best chicken. Often we would eat lunch in the dining room and their variety was better. We cruised with Princess many times before but not as of 2006 so we forgot how small the rooms are and how tiny their showers are. Compared to other cruise lines the showers are glass and larger so you don't have to step out of the shower in case you dropped your soap. The room did not have a couch area which we also missed since other cruise lines, again, have that in all balcony categories and up. The other bummer was that we did not get any towel animals but we managed to survive no problem :) The room was always clean and our steward Francisco was nice and friendly. We were on Baja deck mid ship and for some reason our area was very loud and people tended to slam their doors early in the morning which was annoying but there's always a few mindless people on a cruise.... The Sapphire was overall a nice ship with friendly staff. Navigating our way around the ship was a little annoying because the 6th floor did not go straight through so you had to go down to deck 7 and then walk to one end and either take the stairs or elevator down one floor. Personally, I like the ships that have continuous decks so you can walk from one end to another without problems. Pool areas were nice. We spent most of our pool time in the spa pool because it wasn't very deep and the water temperature was perfect all the time. There was the usual indoor pool and one outside but they were always crowded. We did manage to find another pool, a deep one, on deck 12 in the very front of the ship but I still preferred the spa one with soothing music and 2 attached jacuzzi. Lastly, before I go into each port... try a chocolate banana drink. It comes with alcohol and virgin if you like. The best you'll ever have! :) Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Azamara Journey Sea of Cortez January 19, 2011 I am a first-time Azamara cruiser with a long history of cruising on Celebrity, RCCL and Regent. The following is a review of our recent Sea of Cortez trip. Embarkation ... Read More
Azamara Journey Sea of Cortez January 19, 2011 I am a first-time Azamara cruiser with a long history of cruising on Celebrity, RCCL and Regent. The following is a review of our recent Sea of Cortez trip. Embarkation We embarked Journey in San Diego and the process couldn't have been easier. We flew in the day before, rented a car from the airport at Avis and stayed in Orange County the night before embarkation. While the airport is close, I did some research and found an Avis facility about a 5 block walk from the pier so we made arrangements to return the car to this location. Drove to the pier first to drop off our luggage and were surprised to be able to drive right onto the pier to off load our bags. Took all of 5 minutes. We drove the car back to Avis, they offered to drive us back to the pier but we chose to walk. When we got to the pier, it was about 11, we were checked in and on the ship by 11:10. Rooms weren't available until 1, so we explored the ship a bit and had lunch in Windows Cafe. Staff We were most impressed with the Journey staff. Definitely a step up from our previous experiences - even on Regent. Lots of contact with senior officers, all crew were extremely friendly and helpful. Little touches made all the difference. For example, after we returned from a very long excursion to the Copper Canyon (16 hours), several officers were waiting at the gangway to welcome us "home" and remind us of the special dinner buffet they were serving just for those of us returning to the ship late (10:30 pm). We were always greeted by the Cruise Director by name and he would inquire how we were doing. With anytime dining, there is no guarantee of having the same waiter and assistant for dinner, however the maitre' d definitely makes an effort to seat you at a table so you have the same staff. Of the nights we ate in the MDR, only once did we not have our "usual" waiter and assistant. We appreciated that since it's nice when your drink preferences are known, etc. Food Very good, always hot, decent portions, didn't feel as mass produced as on other lines. Good variety in the MDR. Selection got a little repetitive in the Windows Cafe for lunch. Great burger bar by the pool and one of the times you appreciate being on a smaller ship - no lines whatsoever for a freshly grilled burger. We were impressed with the variety of selection, however, for dinner. Indian, Mexican, Italian, Seafood theme nights were all done well. We were not as impressed with the outdoor buffets but the All-American BBQ is just not really our thing. Ports With the exception of Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, our ports were smaller and more intimate. We didn't know quite what to expect having read comments on Cruise Critic about the ports and with information provided by Azamara. We were very pleasantly surprised to find each port of interest and to provide great opportunity to experience a Mexico different from the larger ports. I can't comment on Topolobampo since we were gone the entire day on an excursion. But we thoroughly enjoyed La Paz, Guaymas and Loreto. Each was charming in its own right but we enjoyed Loreto with its more unique shops and atmosphere. Mazatlan was quite enjoyable, we hiked on our own to the El Faro lighthouse - a short walk from the ship. Interestingly, Azarama chose to stop at Mazatlan even though a passenger from a previous cruise was a victim of local violence (according to USA Today). We, however, never felt uncomfortable. Cabo was fine but felt crowded with three ships in port. Entertainment We were very impressed with the entertainment. I am very critical of cruise ship entertainment and rarely have positive remarks. Kudos to Azamara for the entertainment offerings. Activities were managed by our excellent cruise director, Eric de Gray, a consummate showman who had his own show one evening and sung in a Broadway review with the ship's singers another evening. My personal opinion is that Eric is the reason the entertainment was as good as it was. The guest singer and pianist were also quite good. The comedian was not to our liking but there were many people laughing hysterically. We very much liked the intimate atmosphere of the Cabaret lounge. It was never crowded and you could always stroll in 5 minutes before the show and have your choice of seats (how refreshing). Stateroom We were in stateroom #7116 a Club Deluxe Veranda Stateroom (formerly Sunset Veranda). An adequate cabin with a slightly oversized balcony (could accommodate two loungers and a small table and chairs). Lovely views of the ship's wake. We love aft cabins and have had the pleasure of sailing on Millenium class ships in the family ocean view staterooms several times. The room dEcor was fine if a little tired. The duvet was lumpy and not of good quality, the bathroom very small, furnishings worn. Plenty of closet space and room under the bed to store luggage. Interestingly, we received a note that work was to be done on our balcony (it did need some painting and the railing could have used a new coat of varnish) but no work was ever performed. Ship Here is where we were truly let down. I realize the ship is 10 years old but, in my opinion, is in need of some serious refurbishment. The tile around the pool is horribly outdated and moldy. Ditto for tile around the bar areas and in Windows Cafe. Furnishings in general look tired. Lots of rust in many areas. We appreciate the opportunity to have breakfast, lunch and dinner outside but also noted many times when seating quantity was not adequate in Windows Cafe. I did not anticipate this. People complain all the time about crowds on Royal Caribbean ships in Windjammer, this was no different just on a smaller scale. It's certainly not what I expected having been on ships of similar age and given the lines positioning in the marketplace. It doesn't appear much updating has been done by Azamara since these ships were originally put into service by Renaissance. Overall A great cruise made special by the ship's staff. Many times we appreciated the smaller ship with far fewer lines, more intimate entertainment and more personal service. We will, however, not be returning to Azamara until the ships have been dry docked or a new ship is launched (which our Captain indicated is in the works). Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
There were 12 of us (6 couples) that set off on a cruise out of LA on 1/28/11 looking for some rest and relaxation. We boarded the Carnival Paradise about 1pm, headed for the buffet for lunch, and were able to check into our cabins shortly ... Read More
There were 12 of us (6 couples) that set off on a cruise out of LA on 1/28/11 looking for some rest and relaxation. We boarded the Carnival Paradise about 1pm, headed for the buffet for lunch, and were able to check into our cabins shortly thereafter. Everything about the cruise went well - we enjoyed the food, entertainment, activities and amenities the ship has to offer. The Paradise is an older ship, and the cabins are rather "dated", especially the bathrooms, but everything was in working order and clean, which is most important to us. We sailed to Ensenada and spent the day on a bus tour that took us to the "Blow Hole", and thoroughly enjoyed the day. Our tour guide "Elizabeth", was fantastic - shared many personal stories and gave us a very relaxed, informative narrative about Ensenada and Mexico. The weather was perfect that day - mid to upper 70s, no clouds, and according to Elizabeth that is a rare occurrence. She told us there is most generally fog in that area, which is why it is such a rich area for wine grapes and also many vegetables which are grown in the area. We were lucky to be there on a clear day and could actually see a long ways out to sea. The next day the weather didn't cooperate - we were at sea all day, but the weather was cool, cloudy and even "spit" rain from time to time. Not the perfect day for a day on board ship, but we were able to find other activities to keep us busy, but would have preferred to hang out in the sun by the pool with a good book or a game of cards. Just can't control the weather I guess! We took in one of the comedian shows and two of the dance/music shows in the evenings. Again, they didn't compare to the high standards of NCL, but we did enjoy them and would recommend them to others. Our group was always seated promptly at our dinner tables and the service was excellent. The meals we had at dinner were good, but not up to the standards we were used to when we cruised with Norwegian Cruise Lines. The food wasn't bad, it just wasn't as exceptional as NCL. This was our first Carnival cruise, and also our first short cruise (3 days), and we felt it was a long way to travel to and from the pier for such a short cruise. Next time we will go back to the 7 day cruises so we get the most value from our travel dollars. All in all it was a fun time - we had two couples that were "first timers", so it was fun to see their reaction to everything and it was also fun for us to compare Carnival to the outstanding quality, value and service we've come to expect from Norwegian Cruise Lines. We love cruising and would recommend that everybody try it at least once! And we'll most definitely be returning to cruising with NCL in the near future! Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
This was our third cruise, but our first on NCL. Embarkation in Los Angeles took far longer than it should have, with no real reason ever given for the delay, although rumors were flying among the passengers all week. Once we finally did ... Read More
This was our third cruise, but our first on NCL. Embarkation in Los Angeles took far longer than it should have, with no real reason ever given for the delay, although rumors were flying among the passengers all week. Once we finally did board, we were in our cabins within an hour or two, and our luggage was delivered without too much delay, so that we could unpack and get settled. Our balcony cabin, though small, was very clean and cheerful and had plenty of closet and drawer space for our belongings. The bathroom also was clean and had a nice shower with sliding door. Our cabin stewards were friendly and helpful, and took care of a couple of small problems we had in a timely manner. We found the food in the main dining room and the buffet to be not the best. Since we were expecting the same quality of food that we've enjoyed on previous cruises, that was disappointing. We ate breakfast in the main dining room almost every morning, and thought that breakfast was good. The fruits were very fresh and good, and the breads were always good. Other than that, the food was very marginal most of the time. However, the service was generally excellent, and the wait staff very professional. We did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants. We did eat in the buffet a couple of times, and found it unimpressive, both for food and ambiance. Our shore excursions were very good. We went on snorkeling trips in both Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, and enjoyed the trips very much. The only negative was the water temperature - a brisk 70 degrees. Having snorkeled in the Caribbean on other trips, we were expecting slightly warmer water temperatures. In Mazatlan, we took the tram to the terminal, and took a trolley tour of the city. Although the weather was not the best, we enjoyed the cruise and had a restful, relaxing week. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
I booked our cruise in November 2010 when Holland was advertising a low rate. I reviewed all the offers online and decided to call Holland directly to book. We paid less for the 7 day Mexico cruise than any other cruise we have ever taken ... Read More
I booked our cruise in November 2010 when Holland was advertising a low rate. I reviewed all the offers online and decided to call Holland directly to book. We paid less for the 7 day Mexico cruise than any other cruise we have ever taken and the reservation clerk was helpful and the experience pleasant. I paid for the least expensive room and one week prior to sailing received an offer to upgrade to a better room. We took the upgrade and felt the total amount paid extremely reasonable. Our arrival in San Diego was uneventful (we booked our own air) and the shuttle to the port side Sheraton was provided by a Sheraton Shuttle. There isn't much to do at this Sheraton but it was very convenient to the ship. The dining was limited and somewhat expensive but the quick shuttle to the ship was a plus. Directly across the street from the dock is a Holiday Inn which is within walking distance for any person who is able to do any easy walk. So if you need a hotel prior to sailing I would suggest either the Sheraton or the Holiday Inn for convenience. The boarding was somewhat slow. We waited about an hour to get on board and we managed to duck out of the photo taking which also slows up the boarding process. I wish the cruise lines would stop pushing those picture taking "moments". Anyway, as repeat guests on Holland America we went immediately to the Vista Dining Room for a Mariner's lunch. It was a nice touch and a good way to begin the cruise while we waited for our cabin to be made available. Our room was adequate although this ship is not as new as some we have cruised on -- our bathtub drain was clogged and never fixed (I called the first day for a fix) and the rug in this room needs a good cleaning. The furniture is worn and the sheets and towels have been laundered so many times that they are quite thin. It's time for Holland to refurb the Oosterdam. At the top of this post I mentioned how happy we were with the price of the cruise -- well the thin towels and worn linen is probably the result of offering one too many good "deals" to passengers. It is a trade off that's for sure. The food was good. We had no complaints and most of the passengers seemed to enjoy their dining experience as well. Kudos to Holland America for having very fresh salads and good veggies at dinner time. Lastly, our itinerary was changed by Holland due to continued gang violence in Mexico. We felt safe in the ports but it might be a concern for some. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
We found this cruise to be excellent! What it is: -Fun! If you were bored... it was your fault! There was plenty to do! -EXCELLENT service from the Carnival Paradise staff (from the embarkation staff to the ship) -GOOD ... Read More
We found this cruise to be excellent! What it is: -Fun! If you were bored... it was your fault! There was plenty to do! -EXCELLENT service from the Carnival Paradise staff (from the embarkation staff to the ship) -GOOD food (this isn't a five star restaurant, but the food is good) -CLEAN rooms and ship. People were always cleaning around the ship! -Catalina is excellent! Beautiful city, good excursions. -Ensenda blow hole tour is an absolute must. We booked with the ship on this one and are glad we did. The city looks difficult to navigate and work with. -Affordable! Where else can you get room/board/entertainment/food for this price?? What it isn't: -A "fancy" cruise designed for anyone used to 5 star service. You will be disappointed. -A quiet environment. Yes, you can relax and find a quiet place to read, sleep, but many children are on this cruise. Be prepared for kids! Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
I am not rating this comparing it to luxury top line cruises, but as a basic value priced cruise. That was what it was. Overall it was very good. We did not do any shore excursions, but we did enjoy walking on the water fronts and ... Read More
I am not rating this comparing it to luxury top line cruises, but as a basic value priced cruise. That was what it was. Overall it was very good. We did not do any shore excursions, but we did enjoy walking on the water fronts and beaches of the stops. We enjoyed visiting with strangers at the oceanside bars we stopped. On the ship we enjoyed going to Zumba on sea days, using the treadmills, and Happy Hour was always fun. The drinks were buy one and get the second same drink for $1. We had a good time visiting with people and watching dancers having a good time. The music was very good. I attended an art auction for the first time and found the background information given on the art work interesting. The lectures were sort of boring, on economics and such from a point of view I don't agree with. Maybe others liked them more. The wait staff were all great. The food was very good, and when we were not happy with our choice we were encouraged to make another selection. Most of the entertainment was good, one comedian was not funny. The dancers and singers were great. One of them taught Zumba and he was so much fun. This was a very good value priced cruise and we were more than happy with it. There were some holiday decorations, but the real holiday stuff was going to happen on the next cruise. I would have enjoyed more holiday themed music, movies, etc. It was also nice because there were very few children on the ship since school holidays had not started yet, so the pool areas, etc. were calmer. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Administration seems to be missing or in need of a tune up in handling some of the most basic elements on a cruise ship. Only one, two person hot tub at the adult only pool was functioning. It remained that way from the beginning to the ... Read More
Administration seems to be missing or in need of a tune up in handling some of the most basic elements on a cruise ship. Only one, two person hot tub at the adult only pool was functioning. It remained that way from the beginning to the end of the cruise. Most any of the very capable crew could have repaired the problem, by getting a part at the next port of call in the event administration did not see to it that there were spare parts on board. Think about it, eight days on a cruise ship off Mexico with one Two person hot tub. Oh it gets better........the kiddies pool had three functioning hot tubs including one much larger one. What sense does that make when the use by children is cautionary and most of the clientele are adults? We get into a nice deep sleep only to be awoken at 4 am to the smell of cooking in our cabin! We sit up in bed thinking one of us has left something in the oven overnight; problem being we are not at home and nothing appears to be burning in the cabin. We inform the cabin steward but he does not seem to be too surprised. Someone must have then closed a hatch etc., as it ceased. There were some exceptionally well behaved wonderful children on the ship. There were also too many that weren't. GRANDMA, take your kids on Carnival brand, NCL or Disney, where they won't be bored or restless running around the ship bothering everyone but you! HAL's attempt to reinvent itself into a kid friendly cruise conflicts with expectations of it's traditional passenger marketing. HAL has successfully created a relaxing holiday atmosphere for adults seeking a travel experience for ADULTS OF ALL AGES. I would encourage HAL to maintain it's past standards or lose to RCL, who would gladly take advantage of this large niche Holland America needs more tables for two. Evey time we came into the dinning room people were asking and it seemed to be a problem. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We cruised with Royal Caribbean and Carnival before and found that Royal Caribbean offers better service and food than Carnival. After reading Norwegian Star reviews posted before November, we expected this cruise to be the worse cruise we ... Read More
We cruised with Royal Caribbean and Carnival before and found that Royal Caribbean offers better service and food than Carnival. After reading Norwegian Star reviews posted before November, we expected this cruise to be the worse cruise we ever joined, even worser than Carnival...but we were surprised! NCL apparently did improvemnets in management, food, and entertainments recently. Embarkation: we arrived at 10:30am, waited 2.5 hours before boarding, boring, but we were given the first day "freestyle daily" schedule to plan for the first day fun while waiting. Once boarded, we started our trip with a nice and quiet lunch at Versailles instead of going to the crowded buffet. Ship: the ship is older but it offers the traditional grand attrium with glass elevators that newer ships don't have. Versailles dining room was the restaurant we had breakfast, lunch, and dinner almost everyday. We love its ambiance and high ceilings versus Aqua dining room. Even Versailles is located at the aft, we didn't feel the motor's vibration like Carnival Splendor at all. My husband and sons found a men's room with oceanview above the potties on the buffet deck. Stateroom: the stateroom we had seems being updated, the decor is modern and chic, wall unit and drawers with dividers offer ample space for all of our clothes and luggages. It has the best bathroom layout as compared to the previous cruises. The bathroom seems being updated, too, everthing in there looks newer, with glass doors separating sink, shower, and toilet. Switch the door hanger to "Turn down cabin" before heading for dinner to ensure a towel animal waiting in the room when you come back. Meals: There are several complimentary restaurants and a dozen fee-based specialty restaurants. We did not spend extra money in the specialty restaurants since the meals offered in the dining room were good to us, and we tried to stay within our vacation budget, too. The following list is the complimentary restaurants: Versailles dining room: opens breakfast, lunch, and dinner, nice decor Aqua dining room: opens dinner only, midship, fast turnaround Market Cafe: buffet with cafe style quality food, non-hotel standard Grill: off of the buffet outdoor, similar food as in the buffet Blue Lagoon: 24-hour fast food style, food was just OK, not many selections Ice cream bar: off of the kid's pool, grab a cone or two daily noon - 5:00pm Food in the dining room was hot served and great tasting, services were great, but need to go early to avoid long lines. One downside is the lunch menu in the dining room, it never changed, as compared to the two other cruise lines we sailed before, their lunch menus have something new and exciting everyday. There were two late-night buffets: "Mexican Fiesta Deck Party" and "Chocoholic Buffet" with ice sculptures, not as grand as Royal Caribbean, but better than Carnival. There were a couple of barbeque lunches but only bbq pork chops were served, not like Royal Caribbean with bbq babyback ribs, bbq pineapple, etc. Entertainment: night time shows were the best we have ever seen. NCL hires performers from Las Vegas, there are different shows everynight so you don't see repeated faces all the time. The entertainment starts on the very first night with a 70's musical, not just a typical introduction welcome social the other cruise lines offer. There were even afternoon mini-shows with card tricks, folk dance, and especially the crew talent show with "fountain", it was hillarious. Like always, be there at least 1/2 hour earlier to get to the front rows. The last night time show, Elements, was a must see, it combined all the performers to perform in one show, we were there 1/2 hour earlier but could only find a standing space on the balcony. I must say that the cruise director, Sinan, leads the ship with lots of fun. Since it was a Christmas cruise, there was a Christmas carol sung by the crew lining up along the stairs and balcony at the grand attrium on Christmas eve, we were there early to get some good seats because there were only a few cafe tables available at the attrium. The following list is the night time shows: 1) Band on the Run, 70's Disco musical 2) Duo Acobatique, Cirque du Soleil style acrobatics 3) Extreme Vegas, magic and stunts 4) Comedy Hypnotist, audience participation 5) The Second City, various comedies 6) "Shout! The Mod Musical", just OK 7) Elements, must see, grand show with lots of stage special effects Ports: we did most of our beach activities at Stone Island in Mazatlan: riding horses on the beach, kayaking, banana boating, etc. We rode a boat trip to Land's End at Cabo, the sea was very rough with big waves, better wear lift jackets. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
My wife and I took our sixth HA cruise, our first onboard the MS Oosterdam (7 day Mexican Riviera). From the San Diego airport, it is about a $10 cab ride to the ship. I asked a Holland America rep, at the airport, how much HA charges ... Read More
My wife and I took our sixth HA cruise, our first onboard the MS Oosterdam (7 day Mexican Riviera). From the San Diego airport, it is about a $10 cab ride to the ship. I asked a Holland America rep, at the airport, how much HA charges and was told $17 per person (and advised to use a taxi - thanks HA). Our embarkation was quick and fairly efficient. We shuffled quickly past the photographers (this is the first cruise that we had no pictures taken - thanks again, HA) and queued up to board. It is amazing how many people pack away their boarding passes before they get onboard the ship. This causes lengthy queues. Having "Mariner's Status", we were invited to a special lunch in the Vista dining room. We walked left from the entrance and queued up for a table. The table service was good to a certain point and then disappeared. I had a burger which was cold. I would like to have said something, at the time (and hoped to get some water) but no one came by. Cabin Our incredibly quiet room (4032) was ready at around 1:30. (Our room picked up all the evening entertainment music but was otherwise dead quiet.) The room was a fairly standard size, also had a balcony (which was about three feet deeper than the verandas above). Unfortunately there appeared to be almost no drawer space. Four days into the voyage, we found two more good sized drawers, under the sofa! Too little, too late (for this cruise) but if you get a similar room, have a look. There were the basic three closets (adjustable shelving/hanger rod), two small bed size tables and a tiny storage area beside the mini bar. By the way, our shower was fantastic! The adjustable head was high enough for my six foot height. The pressure would make most hotels and new homes jealous. There was bottled water above the mini bar. However, no price list existed (so, was it free?). We called and had a price list delivered (it wasn't free). We met our room steward. He was a nice young man who had been on the ship about three months. I asked him if we could get some ice and in no time at all he was at the door with an ice bucket full (but no tongs). Later that evening, we called several times to have more ice delivered. It finally came after an hour and a half. Our room was cleaned up, when we had gone for dinner but there were still used glasses on the desk and garbage in the room basket. The next morning it was about five hours before the room was made up. We found that leaving the "Service" card in the lock expedited things. Also, the toilet started being temperamental. It, for most attempts, would not flush. We reported this but for the rest of the cruise, it was still acting up. Dining For the first time ever, we had open seating. On our first night we had reservations for 7:15 (note - make these three days in advance, or you could be disappointed with your allotted times) and were seated at a table for two. The waiter came back to reconfirm my entrEe order. When he returned with our orders, one was hot and one wasn't (food was cold for most of the seven days). We ate in the Vista dining room, all but one dinner and most breakfasts and lunches. The menu selection was second to none (in our 15 or so, cruises). The presentation and imagination of the food, was wonderful. The service was friendly but could be more efficient. For whatever reason, there seemed to be a lack of wine stewards. The Pinnacle Grill was a nice change from the Vista dining room. The service was attentive and friendly. I love not having to pour my own wine. When I am paying 15%, I expect it to be poured for me and it was, in the Pinnacle. The food was well presented. The entrEe portions of steaks could feed a family of six. However, as was the case everywhere on this ship, the food can be cold. (Our feeling is that they put hot food on cold plates. However, I heard that the salads in the Lido, were served on hot plates. So, go figure.) Having sent four of our six side dishes back (by the way, our waiter was shocked that they were cold), we were pleased to have them reheated and served at a proper temperature. The deserts were a nice size and excellent. The Pinnacle is a step back to how Holland America (and other lines) ran all their dining rooms, in the eighties (when we first went on a cruise). We ate two lunches (as the Vista was closed) in the Lido Restaurant. The food could be a bit more imaginative. We generally were not pleased. Pizza was not good, which helped keep my weight down. Lounges and entertainment Early Happy Hour is from 4:30 until 5:30 (in two lunges). This is way too early for late sitting (or open sitting). The Crow's nest is a nice lounge (needs some furniture repairs). Before our first dinner, we enjoyed a drink and a few appetizers here. The Explorer's lounge was a great before and after dinner stop off. The Adagio Strings (three violins and a cello) were wonderful. Very professional and very talented. On this note, the HAL cats were pretty good (some didn't like the lead singer). Gerard (guitar soloist) was worth avoiding at any cost. His talent obviously lies in another field. The Piano Bar's Eric, was not very entertaining (although much better than Gerard) and needs voice lessons. People Most cruisers that we met were interesting, fun and expanded our knowledge of people, in general. What a real cross section of people and dress. We have never been on a cruise were "Formal Night" is simply, just a suggestion. Except for the Pinnacle, no one would be turned away for wearing shorts and/or t-shirts to the Vista dining room. Informal nights meant anything goes (and it did). Perhaps we are just getting old. Speaking of which, it was our 30th anniversary during this cruise. We let HA know about this in advance (what the heck, it only happens once). It was nice to be recognized the day after, with a letter talking about this special occasion on our Alaskan Cruise (we were in Mexico). We also received a generic card from the Captain, wishing us a generic "best on this special occasion". Ship, in general How a ship is decorated is not really that important to us. However, we are really confused at the who, what and why of the interior decor. To say the least (and this is all I will state), it is the most bizarre interior of any ship that we have been on (sort of J. Garcia, psychedelic, disco, meets 1970's business office). It seems to change intention every few metres. The interior elevators' outside doors, are a work of art (the inside, a work of something else that I don't understand). The glass elevators are great and fast (although they don't reach the top). If you start on the lower decks, you get a view of the fishes. The lifts are not used very much. I suppose that some people don't like to see the ocean disappearing below. The third floor promenade is excellent for walking off meals (three laps equals 1.6 kms or one mile). It has plenty of water fountains. It also has many benches to rest on, if needed. With continuously changing views, walking (or jogging) is a pleasure. It is however, perpetually full of puddles (most from the overhead life boats). I am not sure why they don't address this as a safety concern (it is perhaps why they give free shoe shines, which is also a nice touch). In the past, we had spent time in all the ports. Therefore, we were not too keyed up about getting off at any. Overall, this was a pretty good cruise on a nice ship. If HA could figure out how to get hot food to the tables, we would say that it was one of our nicer cruises. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This was our fourth year spending Christmas at sea. We sailed with our two college age sons and found the Sapphire Princess to be a nice place to spend the holidays. Overall, the ship was in very good condition and felt familiar after ... Read More
This was our fourth year spending Christmas at sea. We sailed with our two college age sons and found the Sapphire Princess to be a nice place to spend the holidays. Overall, the ship was in very good condition and felt familiar after sailing on Diamond Princess several years ago. We had two rooms, ours a mini-suite and an outside for our sons, both on Emerald deck. After a very poorly organized luggage drop off system at embarkation where hundreds were forced to wait in pouring rain while the port and Princess personnel got their act together, the balance of embarkation was quick and easy. Our cabins were ready for us, and our steward, Melchor was there to greet us. He did a fine job the entire cruise. We liked the oversized covered balcony and while the decor was a bit tired, with a few carpet spots and some wear, we found the cabin to be very spacious and a great gathering place for the four of us. The boy's outside cabin was spacious with plenty of storage and a decent view around the lifeboats. Despite the ship sailing full, there were very few times when it seemed crowded. We think Princess ships are very well designed and easy to navigate. As you would expect at Christmas, there were lots of kids on the ship, but they were generally extremely well behaved...no comment on a few of the poorly behaved parents... It seems some people go on cruises to hear themselves complain! Overall we found the meals in the dining room to be good to very good. We did anytime dining and only had one wait of about 15 minutes for a table for 4. We could have avoided this with a reservation, but didn't bother. Generally, the dining room service was very good, and once, outstanding, with Hector in the Vivaldi dining room. He treated us as if he knew us all week, rather than for a single meal. We found the buffet to be adequate. There were always some good items, and some very ordinary items. Breakfast became redundant after a day or two...nothing special, or beyond mediocre. Lunch was also ordinary, but always fresh. It's not that the food was bad, just a bit more pedestrian than we experienced on Princess in the past, and certainly less inspiring than the excellent buffet selections and variety we experienced on Celebrity last year. Generally, the overall service on the ship was outstanding. The people were friendly, but certainly not intrusive. We liked that we didn't have people trying to sell us drinks constantly. Yet when we wanted something, there was always someone close by. We enjoyed many of the activities, especially the trivia contests, the ones we won, in particular. There was always something to do, or a place to go to read a book, catch a movie, or enjoy the sun. We also enjoyed the art auction. There were some great values and some horrific ones. The couple leading the art auction were nice, but the guy was a bit over the top, and contradicted himself often. We know what we like, know values, and picked up a few pieces. We do believe that Princess does art at sea better than anyone. We found the production shows to be what is expected on cruise ships, but enjoyed the comedian and the magician. It's a shame that the shows are repeated so often. More variety would have been welcome. We did not do any of the ship's excursions, but had good times in port on our own. PV was fine for a walk and stroll along the beach. Mazatlan was not impressive, at all... But Cabo was great; we hired a boat for whale watching and sightseeing and had a great time. While we were ready to leave the other ports, we wish we would have had much more time at Cabo. Unfortunately, we were only in port from 7 to a last tender at 1. And one minor pet peave...I hate that all the taxis are forced to drop you off at Diamonds International...even when in a back alley like Mazatlan. Once back in Los Angeles, disembarkation was a breeze. We carried our own luggage, were off the ship in the first group and through customs and in a taxi to the airport all in less than 15 minutes! Overall, a very fun cruise. We like Princess ships and crew. And while I know it is part of their job, we really appreciated that the entire staff provided us a fantastic Christmas, while being away from their families. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
The following is a fairly lengthy cruise summary from our sailing on RCI's Mariner of the Seas. I deliberately didn't use the phrase "cruise review" as I don't think anyone of us that are on vacation is qualified ... Read More
The following is a fairly lengthy cruise summary from our sailing on RCI's Mariner of the Seas. I deliberately didn't use the phrase "cruise review" as I don't think anyone of us that are on vacation is qualified to write a cruise review. That's the job for a professional person that is paid to be picky and be objective about the cruise experience. For the rest of us, when we write about our cruise experience, it's just a summary of past events and not a cruise review per se. At any rate, some background before we began. Middle age family guy with wife and 2 boys (ages 9 and 7) and my in-laws as well - total of 6 of us. This is my eleventh cruise - my youngest kid's fifth cruise and everyone else is in-between in terms of cruising experience. I think cruising is the ultimate family vacation, especially on these mega ships where they have many activities to please multi generations. Also cruising is great in that it's a lazy person's vacation - no worries on preplanning activities on a day to day basis like a driving trip. My only worry is to get us to/from the pier and leave the rest to the cruise line. Here is my personal email at Harryfat@yahoo.com if anyone has a question/comment on what I said. Some comments I am sure are not politically correct, but I try to be as objective as possible, but as discussed above, it's not always possible as this is a summary of past events of our family vacation. SUMMARY - If you don't have the time or patience to wade through all the gibberish below, just know this. Beautiful ship. First couple days my wife and the boys were saying "WOW" every time they walk around the ship and saw something they have never seen in previous ships. Such that my 7 year old said, "This is the WOW cruise" since we said wow everywhere. However, it wasn't a perfect cruise as RCI has some major drawbacks in food and entertainment. So while I will recommend RCI to anyone looking to try a new cruise line for the family vacation, I do want to caution that you need to tone down your expectation on those 2 areas especially if you are coming from another cruise line. Why pick this ship/cruise? Partly due to rotational basis - we like to rotate between cruise lines. We have sailed on Carnival/Princess/HAL/RCI and Celebrity previously, so deliberately are not Homers to any given cruise lines. All cruise lines have its strengths and weakness, just be sure you know what they are before you book yours. RCI announced awhile back that they are abandoning the west coast Mexico cruises and moving Mariner to Texas. So this was our lat chance to catch the last mega liner in the West Coast before she leaves. I have sailed on RCI many years ago on the old Viking Serenade (no longer with the fleet) and have sailed on the 7 night Mexican Riviera itinerary back in 1997, so in some ways this whole cruise was a refresher lesson in history for me. Ship - I don't think I read bad reviews on the layout/design of the Mariner (the fifth and last ship in the Voyager class). Easy to get from one end of the ship to another on deck 4 and 5. Nice muted colors throughout. Promenade deck gives the illusion of being in Europe/Asia where the residential houses are sitting atop of the commercial buildings. If you have never been on the ships with the Promenade decks, you owe it to yourself to see it for yourself. Cabin - Having said that, we booked the 3 cabins on deck 7, overlooking the Promenade deck. Of the 3 cabins, 2 are connecting (for the kids) such that for the 4 of us, we effectively had over 300 square feet of space and 2 bathrooms. Better deal than any balcony or suites for my money. If we sail on another RCI ship with the Promenade view, I would not hesitate to do this connecting cabin arrangement again. Really nice to sit out and catch the parade in the room and people watch down below. Maybe the only thing different I would do is maybe go down to deck 6 to be a little closer to the action and even more center top the bridge area where the singes stand. Food - Granted it's a very subjective matter, but I still want to devote few sentences on it. Obviously one person's great food can be another garbage. That being said, in my personal opinion, RCI probably ranks the lowest in my own when you stack up the various cruise lines we have sailed on. That's not to say someone else can't rank them number 1, but for what we eat and where we eat our meals (no specialty restaurants), RCI does not provide the best cruise out there. Not to say their food is really bad, but they lack in presentation as well as flavoring. Many times the food was either too sweet or too salty. Hard to find a good state in the middle somewhere. Pre-cruise. We drove from the SF bay area down to Torrance the day before the cruise. Stayed at the Stay Bridge Suites as they have big 2 bedroom suites with kitchens that can sleep a family of 6. After checking in, we went to dinner and walked around the shopping area before calling it a night. Day 1 Due to unexpected family emergencies, we were slightly late in arriving at the pier. I had hoped to be at San Pedro no later than 11 AM, but we arrived closer to 12 noon, which is the official arrival time for everyone. So there was a mad rush of people unloading their stuff all along the long stretch curbside. I found a spot near the far end and dropped everything off and I went around parking the van in the open lot. After walking back and meeting up with the rest of the family, they had already found a porter to take all the luggage, so we proceeded to walk toward the terminal. Greeting us was a long line out the door (at least 250+ people) waiting in the blistering LA heat. That took 20 plus minutes before we were inside the building to be in line for one of the 3 security scanners. Once that was done, we filled out our health questionnaires given to us and then stood in another set of lines to check in (around 50+ people) in our lines of decks 3 to 7. Check in itself is pretty straight forward as we had done things online ahead of time. Then we proceeded to go up the escalators to the second floor for a long walk to the alongside the pier where we did the obligatory ship boarding pictures and then we were on board the ship officially. There weren't much instructions from the workers on what's what once you walk in, but I knew from previous experience the first order of business is straight to the buffet line. I had read enough bad things about RCI food so I know to ratchet my expectation down a notch and good thing I did as I was disappointed in the overall quality and presentation on various nights. After lunch, we made our way to the cabins and after settling in, I made my way to deck 5 to change our flexible dining time to 7:30 PM instead. Later on, the cabin steward (Randy from Philippines) showed up and introduces himself. We requested that the connecting door between the 2 cabins be opened and he did that by the evening. As the luggage was arriving slowly, we walked around to explore the ship. I missed having the ship tour like the ones given by Carnival and HAL. On RCI, you are on your own to find out what's what. They do reserve a spot where first time cruisers can go and ask questions, but that's not the same as a walking ship tour. We explored various decks and ended up at the top deck to play miniature golf. My younger son got a hole in one on hole #3 and he was disappointed when I didn't have the camcorder on him in hitting that shot. My bad. Then had to get some water at the pool bar afterward as it was just way too hot in the LA 82+ degree heat in December. After which, it was the mandatory muster drill and like HAL, they also take attendance on what passengers showed up at each station. After all that, the cruise vacation officially begins. Sailing away was a dusk/night given the early winter sunset time. After which, back to the cabin to unpack. And of course, we were missing one suitcase - mine. My cabin steward suggests I go down to security level and see what happened and so I went down to deck 1 security area and there must be at least 300 suitcases in various spots. Found someone there to help me and he asked me if I had liquor in my suitcase - and I don't. So finally found mine on the other side (light blue suit case is great in a sea of black and reds) and they wanted to scan mine once more to make sure it's all good - think it's my computer cables and extension cords that threw them for a loop initially. Anyway, after everything was good, took my suitcase back to the cabin. But by then, my wife had already unpacked the clothes into the 2 cabins and so I had to utilize whatever is leftover and that confused me the rest of the cruise as I had clothes in both cabins and had to go to both sides to get dressed daily. We took the kids to the Adventure Ocean to sign them up for the rest of the week and also checked out the Promenade and went to dinner on deck 5. I had requested a table by the balcony and was granted a nice view table #540 with Lloyd, our waiter. The guy is from India and every night we were there, he would give us a recommendation of the day. If you are on the Mariner and have MTD, request his tables and you won't be sorry. The head waiter came by mid dinner to introduce himself and asked if there was anything we needed from dining the whole cruise. Just ask him for it. I told him we like the table and our set of waiters and asked that we be seated at table 540 the rest of the cruise and he said he will make it happen on the reservation system. After dinner, we walked around the ship some more and checked out the Promenade deck, which changes color/lighting in the evening. Also went to deck 3 to look at the onboard pictures and saw that RCI have kiosks that you can use your room key to access what pictures are linked to your account, a convenient feature. The kids were getting tired by then after a long day so we went upstairs and they waited for the late Promenade parade to start before they went to sleep. Whereas I was finally able to take a shower since I didn't have time to do so before dinner since I had no change of clothes from my luggage to change into. After the parade, we all hit the sack after our first day on the cruise. Oh, BTW, it was a nice parade. Great to watch it from our cabin in our PJ's and not have to fight the crowd for a good spot. I have always said the first day of the cruise is the most hectic as that's when you have so many mandatory activities (i.e. boarding the ship/muster drill) and things are happening really fast while you are trying to absorb the new ship surroundings. Whereas the rest of the cruise, you have ample time to know what's coming around the corner. Someday if they can PDF you the schedule for the first day before you leave for the cruise that would be most ideal for anal people like myself that likes to plan things out way in advance. Day 2 After breakfast, the kids went off to Adventure Ocean and rest of us attended the "Port and shopping talk". Somehow I like to attend all of these things even though I have either been to these ports previously or know enough about them through months of research on cc, so there is in theory nothing to learn from these port talks. Nevertheless, I attend them all as part of the ritual. Makes me feel like a first time cruiser again. But RCI takes these Port talks one step further. The only thing remotely resembling the "port" part of the talk is that they tell you where each stores are in each port. Think the port person gets paid by the number of times he says the words "Diamond International" in his presentation. I would have liked to at least know what excursions are available at the ports - guess would have to just watch the endless loops of excursion info on the TV in the cabin to get that info. The only port part of the Cabo presentation was him showing you on the map how to walk to Diamonds International from the tender dock. Anyway, to say that the whole hour wasn't a waste, they had a raffle drawing at the end to prevent the many people that walked out during the presentation and they called my name in winning the spa treatment. Wooh Hoo! That on top of the free one we got from the TA, we now have spa treatments galore. After that, we picked up the kids and went to the cruise critics meeting. Of all the cruises I have been on, this roll call was the most active by far and the turn out was huge. Over 100 people went and to RCI's credit, they gave out souvenir prizes to all that showed up as well as various other souvenirs prizes for the raffle. We didn't win anything from that, but it was a good chance to say hi to the people that you conversed online and we saw various folks from cc throughout the rest of the cruise. After lunch at Windjammer, went over to the spa to have an idea on what I have won from the raffle drawing and also how does that dove tailed with the free spa treatment we got from the TA. Anyway, they booked us on a back to back spa treatment for 2.5 hours on next day while we are in Cabo (supposedly our free spas can only be used on port days - when the spas are not as popular). The flip side of things is that it cuts our Cabo day short. Don't recall what we did the rest of the afternoon (can't look at the pictures as they were lost). Next thing I recall us doing was we went to the ice show at 4:45 and snagged a decent seat along center ice by row 3. In reading various reviews online, I know this is a not to be missed event and I concur. Bar none, the best entertainment on high seas on all the cruises I have been on. The show was over before 6 and we rushed back to our cabin to shower and change for the 7:30 dinner. This is one occasion where the 2 connecting cabins are great. We sent each of the kids to shower and that made getting ready a much easier process. By time we showed up at dinner, it was a zoo with long lines back up and many people were waiting for their tables as the first wave of cruisers are still lingering over dessert, especially on the formal night, people tend to take their time more. Anyway, even by time we got to the podium, our table wasn't ready from the previous set of diners and after another 10 minutes of standing wait by the door, they gave us another table by the side. Not that the other set of waiters are bad, but they are just not as good as Lloyd and I am glad we were there only for one day as we had our table 540 back to us the rest of the cruise. By time all that was sorted out, we had missed all the shows and captain's welcome and such. Had I known the delay, I would have changed dinner time to 8:15 PM instead and then head off to captain's welcome event and then dinner. Hind sight is 20/20. Oh, well. We just spent the rest of the evening walking around taking pictures on our own as well as with the professional photographers. Day 3 Woke up to bright blue skies in the morning. Cabo was going to be in the 85 range, definitely the hottest day of the entire cruise. By time we ate breakfast and got ready, the ship was already positioned outside the harbor area and getting ready to tender people to Cabo. We went to deck 12 to get some pictures of the town and scenery before headed for the tender. They had the double decker tenders as well as the regular smaller tenders from ashore and it was roomy and comfy and a short ride later, we were in Cabo. On the way to town, I took some pictures of the ship that I thought were good ones of the entire ship (more on that later). Originally we were planning to do the Lover Beach water taxi thing, but due to the free spa treatments later in the day, we had to scrap the lover's beach thing and just settled for walking around. With the notion that we will come back to Cabo someday for the Lover's Beach thing but the spa thing won't be there next time around. Cabo certainly have built up since I was last there 13 year ago. Most touristy of the 3 ports and I can see why many people like it the most. After some walking around and shopping, we headed back to the ship for lunch. The kids went off to Adventure Ocean and the wife and I went to the double spa treatment. I know I will catch flak for saying this, but I just don't understand the cost/benefit of the high end spas. Sure, it's nice, but for the price, it's not worth what you get. Glad the only thing we had to pay was the tips. But I also was expecting that they would be hard to up sell every product they have from the spa and I am pretty good at saying "No, thank you". After spa, went to pickup the kids and got them showered and changed and ready for dinner. Tonight was the flowery dress night so I broke out my Hawaii shirt along with my father in law. Glad to have our table 540 back that night and Lloyd was as happy to see us as well. Nothing like having waiters know that we like hot tea before/during/after dinner (Asian thing) and him knowing what the kids like such that their fruit appetizers showed up as soon as we sat down the remainder of the cruise. I liked my lamb shank that night. Very hefty chunk of meat. After dinner we went to the show. I know entertainment shows are subjective, but I think RCI has the worst entertainment shows at the main theatre of the cruises I have been to. Even with songs I know like Billy Joe and the Beatles, they just don't excite me. I came close to falling asleep near the end. By time we went back to the cabin, that's when I realized that I had lost all of my pictures since the beginning of vacation until midway through the day in Cabo. What the heck? Not happy, but what can you do? At least I found out earlier and still have time to remedy some of the ship based pictures the rest of the cruise. But lost all my boarding and Cabo tender pictures. Day 4 - Stone Island. Our only planned excursion. We opted for a paid tour instead of doing it on our own. I know we can save money by following the detailed instructions of catching the $2 water taxi and so on, but since we were traveling with 2 boys and the in-laws, decided that simplicity is better than frugality. Maybe in future visits, we will opt to do it on our own but for this trip, we went with an independent operator, King David tours (you can find their link via a Google search). They have received good reviews here at cc as well as at tripadvisor. I rate these guys top notch. Next time we are in town, we will use them for other tours. For the price you pay ($35/$25 for adults/kids), it's solid value. The tour guide, Leonardo, is hilarious and took care of everyone on the tour from beginning to end. In all his narrations, he said "How about that? Take a picture" every other sentence. Now 2 weeks after the cruise, my kids still laugh when they repeat that phrase at home. Can't beat that type of experience/memory. That's what family vacation is all about. I have also uploaded our Stone Island pictures in the photo album online. So you can just follow the pictures with my long narrative below to "see" what I am describing. http://travel.webshots.com/album/579370943PDRfZC The morning we arrived at Mazatlan (December 15, 2010), it was foggy and cool. Our ship was delayed in getting into the port by almost half an hour due to the heavy fog outside the harbor. So by time we got off the ship, it was later than the stated time to join the tour, but the King David folks waited for everyone to disembark before they loaded the group onto various trucks to take us to the dock to start the tour. Originally the tour includes a one hour harbor bay tour to see the caves and sea lions, but due to the fog, that was canceled. Bummer. Can't do much about that. Such is nature of traveling. So they just took us straight to Stone Island instead. Not a bad thing, I guess, since we had more time there. Once the boat docked, we were onboard the famous "Mexican Limo" tractor. As Leonardo said before we boarded, please be careful and not to break any windows while we are on it. From there, it was a brief 10 minutes ride to the restaurant, Molokay. Think the King David Company more or less books the restaurant exclusively for their tour groups (I head there were 5 different tour groups there that day). There may have been some non tour folks there, but they are the exception. So we picked a table and camped out for the rest of the day. For the rest of the morning, the kids played in the sand. The water temperature in a cool day was too cold to swim, so even though we brought swimming trunks, we never changed into them. The weather cleared up after lunch, so if you are looking at the pictures, you will see a big difference between the earlier beach pictures with the later ones in terms of fog/sunshine. The lunch itself is decent. No coconut giant shrimps as described on other threads. Guess that's the difference in going on your own versus the packaged tour food. No matter, not like it was going to ruin our day with or without the shrimps. One thing you do get with the tour is open bars. All you care to drink during the time you are there on the Island - you can see form he picture that many people like my wife all lined up at the end of the tour on the last call to have one more drink for the road (hey, why not, it's not we are driving). Think I had 3 cocktails and 1 Pepsi. Life is good when the biggest decision of the day was deciding between getting a Mai Tai or Tequila Sunrise. I couldn't decide, so I had both. As part of the tour package, each person can participate in 2 activities. Since it was too cold to swim, we opted for the land based activities. As a family, we first tried the 1 horse power carriage. It was a private tour in that it was only the 6 of us on it when it was our turn. We took a tour of the village area. The kids and in-law liked it. After that, we went back to the beach area to enjoy the sun that finally broke out. Later on, the wife and I opted for horseback riding as part 2 of the activities list while the kids and the in-laws opted out. She thinks she has the prettiest horse and I concur. Much better than mine. I think I had the biggest horse of the group and as such, he wanted to be the "leader" and always wanted to b in the front and couple times I was sandwiched in between horses and my horse was trying to squeeze in-between and trying to get to the front. One time even went off trail and our horse guide from behind had to rein him back to the trail. Anyway, it was an interesting event. After that, it was time to head back to the ship. So as previously discussed, everyone lined up for that last round of refreshment and we headed back to the dock. Going back, we were one of the last ones to board, so we ended up in the smaller truck instead of the tractor. So we got to ride in on both types of transportation - the smaller truck went faster on a short cut and provided more excitement going back. A quick 10 minute ride back to the dock, during which we each got our personal souvenir. After that, a transfer onto the 45 passenger big bus and we were back at the cruise terminal with plenty of time to spare. Mariner of the Seas passengers never switched to local time, so from our perspective, we joined the tour around 8:45 AM and came back around 2:45 PM (everyone else needs to add 1 hour for local time). Like I said previously, solid excursion experience. I know it can be done on your own for less and you have more freedom if you choose to do it on your own, but as far as tour excursions goes (and for simplicity sake), I rate these guys very highly and if anyone is interested in doing Stone Island during your visit to Mazatlan, put them on your short list of options. So after getting back from Stone Island, showered and changed just in time to watch the Sapphire Princess pull out of town as they head north up to Cabo while we headed south. Got a nice picture of them next to the Carnival Spirit that we were on exactly 2 years ago. Went to the Windjammer and grabbed some light munchies to eat ahead of dinner in couple hours. While we were there, we saw the Spirit pulling out as well in the night, leaving us the last ship in town. For dinner, had the crab salad, cold berry soup and seafood pasta with banana crème boulee as appetizer. Went to another show tonight and then off to bed as we woke up early this morning with a long but satisfying day. Day 5 Woke up with the ship already docked at PV, with the Carnival Spirit next to us once again. Surprising that Windjammer was pretty crowded given it's a port day, but guess since we are docked all day long with a late departure, many people didn't feel the need to rush off the ship. After breakfast, went up to the top deck once more for some pics and then headed out. PV is certainly the most laid back of the 3 ports in terms of vendors trying to sell us stuff. Cabo was the most aggressive of the 3 ports we were on, but that is nothing compared to the Acapulco taxi drivers from our visit 2 years ago. Had one guy that literally walked with me for 100 feet asking where I am from and telling me why I should book with him. In comparison, sure love the laid back feeling of PV. We took the shuttle that drove us to the beach zone for $4/pp. If you want the shopping area, that is $3/pp. But I wanted to start from the south end and walk back along the water front as I know there is a lot of scenery there. So after walking back up and stopping by the church area and various shops, we saw some really nice sand castle art work. Various folks were spraying water on them to keep them moist. After that, we decided to head back to the ship for a late lunch. Found a big van taxi that could fit all 6 of us and since we were in the different zone, only $3/pp. After lunch, the wife and the in-laws went across the street to the shopping area (i.e. Wal-Mart) to buy my sister the chili lime popcorn that she loves but can't get them at the regular stores. Meanwhile I went swimming with the boys at the pool area. A lot less crowded by the pool area during port days. Afterwards, we went back to the cabin, showered and just relaxed in the cabin as I people watch from our PR cabin. Really like that view. Soon after, my wife and the in-laws came back from shopping and we went out to see the Mariner cast off from the pier. I have to say that of all the ships I have been on, the Mariner has the most well lid outside Promenade walking area. No other ships lights up the area like the Mariner - other ship designers must assume people don't walk outside after dark. But I do miss the teak wood deck that's more common of other cruise ships not found on the Mariner. For dinner, had the lam chops. Easily the best meal on the whole cruise. Real nice flavoring with lots of herbs. After dinner, we attend the ventriloquist show and to top off the evening, they had the 70's music dance party on the Promenade. That is easily the longest parade/party out of the 3 for the cruise. Lasted almost 30 minutes with various hit songs from the 70's. For old folks like myself, it brings back the oldies of Bee Gees as well as the usual favorite YMCA. The cruise director is certainly all into it with his white suit and wig. There's something to be said about several hundred people dancing to the 70's music in the middle of the ocean in Mexico. Especially these are the older folks that have gone past the prime of the disco era and many likely won't go to the late night discos, but with this 70's dance party, they can all still dance at the Promenade. Guess that's the target audience for this music. Not sure the 18 year old crowd listening to the rap music will be all into this scene - it's more for their parents. As before, saw the show upstairs from our cabin and went to sleep at 11 something. Day 6 Started to head back up north and as typical of this itinerary, the ship started to rock the most that day of the entire cruise. As a precaution, took a bonine myself and gave half to each of my kids. After breakfast, went to the towel folding demonstration. Unlike Carnival from 2 years ago, RCI just shows you how it's done versus Carnival which gives towels for you to try yourself and they also sell a book on towel folding. So as demonstration goes, it's pretty blah. Just 5 animals later and you are done. After which, the wife started to do some serious shopping on the ship for the folks back at home. Then we went top side to watch the belly flop contest and a late lunch thereafter. Think the bonine made me really groggy and I was tired after the big meal and took a long nap in time to shower and changed into the second formal night. After more picture taking everywhere else on the ship, we went to dinner. Had the lobster for dinner but ordered one extra prime rib for "the table" for my wife and I to share with my older son. In hindsight, maybe should have ordered two, but we were short on time. Another thing RCI doesn't do is baked Alaska. Yes, I know, some say it doesn't taste that great, blah blah. But for me that's another one of the traditional cruise fares I enjoy that is missing on RCI. When we came out, we saw the captain taking with someone at the Promenade and I asked if my boys can take a picture with him since we missed him o the first formal night. He was very nice and chatted with my younger son for awhile. So he finally got his wish to meet with the captain. Went to another blah performance by the Royal Caribbean singers. Slightly better than the other nights but certainly nothing to write home about. Definitely not the top things they do well. Day 7 The seas have calmed down as we went past the Cabo area. No need for any meds today. Somewhat partly cloudy but wasn't as cold as I had feared for a December sea day out in Baja area - but it was windy outside the deck area. One good thing about this itinerary is that it gives you two days on the back end so you feel more relaxed & rested as you head back home with the extra day to be in the sea. But this being day 7, it meant everything has to be done by the end of the day as there's no tomorrow. After breakfast, headed off to the "Captain's Corner" whereby you get to hear the captain describing the operations on the ship and get to ask questions. While that's a good forum, I miss having the captain's farewell like I have seen on every other cruise line, including Celebrity cruise. I miss having the various departments on the ship coming out to say goodbye at the debarkation talk. So essentially RCI has no debarkation talk live. It's done via recording by the cruise director and you just watch the endless loop on TV. I am sure people will say they don't miss the debarkation talk. That's fine, but put it on for the rest of us that likes it and our last opportunity to give standing ovation for people that served us the whole cruise. I would have been very happy if they could have both activities. Or at the minimum have the crew comes out at the end of captain's corner. After captain's corner, we rushed out to see the cooking demo. Being held at a very small area right as you walk into the Windjammer. Way too small area for this venue compared to what Princess or HAL offered in our previous cruises. Since we had to stand on the side and toward the back, we left shortly thereafter. Then we went over to the back stage production tour to see what the show's back stage looked like. While that was interesting to see and talk to the various folks involved in the production shows, the whole process wasn't as "wow" as I had hoped. Guess instead of just talking about how they changed into various costumes it'd be better if they can give us some demonstrations on what they do. Way too much talking and zero demonstration. Time for late lunch and just walking around the various ship area taking the last minute pictures of places that we have missed. Then went to the photography area to buy up the place. As is typical, our family buys the most of all the pictures amongst the various cruisers on the ship. Day 7 is always the busiest time for photograph purchases as everyone waits until the end to pick the pictures they like, so it was a mad house in the area and as always, my wife and the in-laws just take all the pictures we took (I estimated to be at least 80+) and spread them out on the floor to compare and contrast the ones they wanted. After that, time to go back to the cabin and start the packing process. Always amazed how much stuff we over pack as we always assume we need more clothes than we actually need for the cruise and adding the fact that we always buy new clothes during the cruise as part of eth souvenir, so we always end up going home with stuff we never wore. Anyway, after packing and doing all the administrative stuff like the cruise satisfaction survey and customs declaration forms, we showered and headed out for one last evening around the ship. They had the singing waiters out one last time and then we bid farewell to the ding room attendants as we enjoyed the time we spent in the dining area. One last trip around the Promenade area for shopping and pictures and then back to the cabin as we had to wake up earlier on the last day of the cruise. But not before catching the third and final night time parade around 10:30. They had the crew various departments coming out, but that was a very small representative sample (say like 2 per department). Still would have liked the other cruise liens approach of bringing them all out at the stage during the day. As far as parade goes, this one has the most elaborate costumes and props. So if you only have the time/energy to catch one night time parade, this is the one to catch. Then put the luggage outside the hallway and called it a day. Day 8 - Woke up to rain in San Pedro area. Big difference from just 7 days ago when we sailed away in 82 degree weather. Today was in the low 60's and rain greeting us as we woke up. Up to Windjammer one last breakfast on board. Since we had requested one of the last tickets to be off the ship (#20), we were in no hurry to eat/get off the ship. By time we fished breakfast, headed back to the cabin to get the one carryon luggage and then we caped out at deck 5 of the Promenade deck for some water and played cards to past the time. We were supposed to be at the Savoy Theater by 9:50 per the ticket time for group 20, but we never made it down there. Around 10 AM, we heard the announcement that the last call to get off the ship has been issued, so we just walked down one deck and exited on Promenade deck 4. After going down the elevator, we retrieved out luggage amongst whatever is still left in the big warehouse area. Easy to find our luggage when there's only less than 200 left. Easy customs question/answer session and then we walked across the parking lot with all our luggage and loaded up the stuff. The rain had stopped during the walk to the parking lot, but started to come down hard at the ending part of the process and anytime I came back to the van, I was pretty much soaking wet. Missed the indoor parking of Long Beach pier. After paying and exiting the lot, got on the freeway and headed up north. The drive through LA was a breeze considering it was raining buckets. No stopping to speak of on the 405 drive up north, but lots of stops after the 5 and 405 merger up north by the Palmdale 14 area. And couple big accidents along I-5 also made going slow at times. The rain didn't let up until we got past the Buttonwillow area. We got home around 6 PM. Overall it was a solid cruise. RCI builds the worlds prettiest ships in their color design as well as their innovations of what to bring to a cruise. These guys really think outside the box on what it can be done on a cruise ship. For the traditionalist, that's not a good thing as the main emphasize is not to look outside as much as it's to look inside. Other than just couple occasions we never really made it out to the outside deck 4 to walk around like we typically do on the precious cruises. We were to busy taking pictures of the rest of the ship inside to be looking outside. In that sense Mariner was probably the right ship type for the Mexican Riviera where there are only 3 ports, so the extra sea day is great when there's a nice ship to occupy your time and energy. Probably won't be until after 2014 when the build the new locks at the Panama Canal before RCI will send another mega ship out to the west coast permanently. For those RCI fans in the west coast, they'd need to fly to at east Texas to sail on a RCI ship on a regular basis - unless they do the Alaska sailing during the summer months. In final analysis, RCI does many things well (beautiful ship/innovative venues), but also missed on other things (balh food). Everyone has always asked me what my favorite cruise line is since I cruise often, but I have always said I don't have one as each one ahs its set of strengths and weaknesses. It just depends on what you are looking for on your cruise bad set the expectation at a reasonable level in picking the right cruise line for yourself. Just be sure to match up the strengths of the cruise lien with your highest priority - for example, if you want great food, don't pick RCI. If you a fun cruise, don't pick Celebrity. If you want a cruise to be pampered with service, don't pick Carnival and so on. For us, the cruise was solid experience. Notwithstanding its shortcomings, RCI does a great job to entertain the passengers with ice shows/parades and beautiful ships. I would have no problem taking the family on RCI cruise if the price is right. I typically plan 2 vacations at a time in that I know where I will go on a cruise after the one I am sailing on so that I have something to forward to when I disembark the current cruise. Previously I had thought I will be going back to the Caribbean for 2011 and we still may, but after this cruise, the convenience of just driving down to LA and board the ship versus flying to eat coast and deal with flights/crowds in December is making me wary to just go ahead with the Caribbean cruise without some more thought. But wherever we end up, RCI will be on the short list of possible cruise line we are considering. RCI typically has a price premium on their cruises over the other mass market cruise lines due to their big mega ships and after having been on one of them, not sure if I am willing to pay that price premium over and over every time I cruise. That's a personal decision everyone ahs to make. Think for myself, if I can get RCI cruise to be within $100 of other cruise lines, I would pick RCI. But if the price premium is more than $100/pp, I would opt for something else. Anyway, think that's all I have to say. Thanks for reading this to the end for those that stuck with me on the long and windy road. If you read this whole thing, you need a vacation more than me. Regardless, like I said in the beginning, email me if you have any questions or comments on what I wrote at Harryfat@Yahoo.com. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Just came back from a 4 night cruise on the Imagination to Key West & Cozumel. Both ports are nice to visit and perfectly appropriate for a 4 day cruise. My issue was with the Imagination itself. This poor boat needs to be retired or ... Read More
Just came back from a 4 night cruise on the Imagination to Key West & Cozumel. Both ports are nice to visit and perfectly appropriate for a 4 day cruise. My issue was with the Imagination itself. This poor boat needs to be retired or overhauled drastically. 1st, the XANADU lounge smells of old vomit, no joking and I'm sorry I couldn't think of a better descriptive word for it but my friend and myself could not go to any shows in that lounge due to the putrid smell emanating from the carpet. 2nd, more shows/entertainment is needed. Most nights, there was nothing to do between 7 and 10 when the shows started, this tends to make one sleepy when having to wait around after dinner. 3rd, Carnival really needs to return to a nightly dinner choice of a decent steak. The only steak offered every night was the "Flat Iron" steak, which I must say, when hidden under the three peppercorn sauce, was quite tasty but the amount of grissel running through the meat was sub-par to say the least. I understand the economy has made everyone/thing cut back but Carnival needs to fix some of these problems or just cut this ship all together. 4th, Carnival really needs to employ people that not only speak English but UNDERSTAND it. I gave up on room service when, after 3 tries, they could not get an order for a corned beef sandwich right. Each time I ordered, I specifically requested "no mustard" and each time, it appeared at my room WITH mustard. Once I ordered it "plain" and received my sandwich with mustard and a "plain" yogurt with it and was told "you ordered plain" I gave up! On the upside, the rooms are always fine, with luscious bedding. The room stewards and wait staff are the friendliest on the seas. And usually, Carnival always has a good time for it's guests. This was the 1st time I've taken such a short cruise and will be sure not to do so again. If you book with Carnival (and I will again), be sure you do so on a longer cruise and make sure it's on a newer ship! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
My family (Dad and his wife are 70 and 74 sons are 16 and 13)drove from snowy South Carolina to the Mobile port the day after Christmas. We booked a night at Admiral Semmes thru Expedia ($109 per night) and did park ($55) and cruise. We ... Read More
My family (Dad and his wife are 70 and 74 sons are 16 and 13)drove from snowy South Carolina to the Mobile port the day after Christmas. We booked a night at Admiral Semmes thru Expedia ($109 per night) and did park ($55) and cruise. We packed in the hotel shuttle and headed for the terminal at 11:15 am and we were on board in less than an hour. My Dad booked a suite (U88)and we could not board VIP with him, however, we got through check-in just as fast. Everyone in the port was very friendly and pleasant and the process was far better than expected based on reading all of the complaints. It was freezing in Mobile (in the low forties) when we sailed. The Elation was as expected--older Fantasy class ship, very clean, with a friendly crew. The pool deck has not been upgraded. As we boarded, we were treated to unlimited Champagne while we waited for our rooms (available exactly at 1:30). The boys and I had a 3 person cabin with two bunks and a bed. We had plenty of room. Fortunately, the cruise boards saved me--there are NO HAIRDRYERS in the suites or other cabins and I packed one. Plush robes, plenty of towels and a fantastic steward delighted us all week. Our steward filled my soda cooler with ice every day. The activities crew did a good job with the typical cruise fare--dance lessons, trivia, marriage game, karaoke (lots of choices!)and the Carnival obligatory hairy chest contest. There was plenty to do. After multiple cruises, ( 1X Big Red Boat, 1X Holland, 1X Celebrity, 2X Norwegian, 3XCarnival)in Europe, Caribbean, Hawaii, and Alaska -- the Carnival crew seems to enjoy their jobs more than any other line. The result is that the crew seems to actually like people and not just go through the motions. Food on Carnival is very good with choices for everyone--we ate the breakfast buffets on Lido, lunch in the Imagination dining room and dinner, come as you wish in Imagination. My 13 year old is a cruise ship pizza expert--he has ranked Carnival pepperoni the best out of all lines above. We ordered a wine package and after running out, brough our own bottles the last two nights. We were not charged the corkage fee and we upfront about the wine. (Adults can bring one bottle each). Evening shows were good--funny comedians (3 on board this 5 day trip) , a great hip hop act, and the two shows were very good and not so good. (The brand new WIN dance show just wasnt very good). I did a Spa sampler package with massage and facial which was excellent and the obligatory sales pitch wasnt too pushy. In Cozumel we took a taxi ($11 for 5 people each way) in for shopping and in Playa del Carmen we spent the day at XCaret "eesh ka rit". In port stop at the 3 Amigos for some cool partying next to the ship's dock and you won't have far to get back on board. The weather was great--mid to high 70s in port and all the way back to Mobile we enjoyed warm weather. The hot tubs stayed full because the pool water was very chilly. On Dec 30, I was not happy to miss the Clemson bowl game--Kentucky fans monopolized all four TVs in the sports bar and when they left-ESPN wouldn't work. Since Clemson didn't show up to play, it was all for the best.For New Years Eve, Cruise Director Steve Knisley gussied up in a kilt ensemble (Kind of weird for a chap from Canada but Steve was great) and arranged a festive deck party for us to celebrate the end of 2010. The last 15 minutes wait staff made sure everyone had a glass of Champagne to toast. The Captain and Cruise Director did the countdown and as midnight struck, Captain ordered the ships horn to sound. What a blast! People of all ages were dancing like crazy--old young and in between. My Dad's suite allowed all of us to leave the ship as priority guests--we docked at 7am and we off the ship and on the shuttle breezing though customs in and schlepping luggage through the terminal in 30 minutes. If you don't mind families/kids and you want a good bargain--Elation will deliver. The newer ships have more to offer but Elation was a great quick and inexpensive holiday in the sun. Kudos to the FRIENDLY and helpful staff and crew. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Carnival Spirit 12/06/10 4 day. 1 stop Cabo So let me first explain that this trip is with my wife and me and our two children. One of which celebrated his 3rd birthday on the ship and the other is 10 months old (both boys). Also ... Read More
Carnival Spirit 12/06/10 4 day. 1 stop Cabo So let me first explain that this trip is with my wife and me and our two children. One of which celebrated his 3rd birthday on the ship and the other is 10 months old (both boys). Also this is our older sons second cruise, the first he was not old enough to attend camp carnival so we were very excited about having the "extra help" this time with him being able to visit the camp. Public Spaces: The ship is nice; we had never been on any other class than the Fantasy so it was nice that it was larger. The dEcor to me was very similar to the Paradise, which we had just been on a few months prior. Dark woods with a more toned down interior as compared with some other flashier more Vegas styled ships. The restaurant was nice, I enjoyed the two levels and the dEcor was also elegant. The ship's steakhouse seemed odd that it was right above the lido dining area connected by a staircase and therefore open to the hustle and bustle below. We did not dine there, however we did do the wine pairing held at this venue. Which also was pretty average, I wouldn't do it again. Loved the two-story promenade deck. Great planning! It didn't all feel crammed together. The shops layout was also much nicer in that it was like a mini-mall. All the same items as the other ships, but a much nicer layout. Stateroom: We had an extended balcony. We though that with the two kids the extra space on the balcony would be nice. However, we didn't end up using the balcony with the children as we thought. We did love that when they took a nap we had a beautiful place to relax. So in the end I don't think I can ever not have a balcony again (this was our first), but don't feel that it has to be extended. We are cruising on the Spirit again this March in a regular balcony so we'll see. All in all my wife and I really loved the room. Oh, one thing no flat screen t.v. as advertised; boo! Also DO NOT stay on the 8th floor. Right below lido deck, the "deck party" which started at 10:00 p.m. never seemed to end. Oh and you could hear every chair scoot above you. Food: The lido was the lido. Buffets aren't really my thing, it's too hard to get the food for the kids and for us. I feel like we just are running around the whole time. So we did have most meals in the dining room. Dinner was great every night except the first. I noticed the earlier we got there the better the food was. We did the teatime, that was neat, food wasn't spectacular, but would totally do it again. I hear on the splendor they hold it in a dining room, much more fancy, this was in a lounge along the promenade deck. Oh, there was real ice cream served everyday for about 2 hours at the aft pool. Not soft serve, the real stuff, we loved it! Entertainment: We had the kids so sadly we did not even see one show. Children's Programming: Okay first off I did not like the location of Camp Carnival. The Fantasy class ships have them located in the center of the ship along the atrium at one of the top decks. This ship has it located all the way forward. You literally have to walk down someone's hallway to get to it. Really funky. The room didn't seem open and bright, really felt like an after thought. It might be larger than a Fantasy class ship, but not better. Also the programming I had read so much about and was so excited for just seemed to be lacking. We felt like we were just dropping him off at a daycare center as opposed to a thoughtfully planned out camp. I mean I may be crazy, but I had visions of my 3 year old begging me to let him stay, doing art activities, scavenger hunts, games. Instead we got a 42" plasma baby sitter. Needless to say he didn't really attend much. I know this isn't a Disney ship so maybe my expectations were too high as far as children's programming. It just left me feeling like maybe cruising needs to be something we do as a family when the boys are older, which bums me out 'cause I love it. I also know that the directors change so I am going into my March trip with a completely open mind. Also, I am leaving out that one day they did have a magician that sounded neat it was just at 1:30 (nap time). Again why plan a really cool thing at a time when most kids nap? Cabo San Lucas: Freaken awesome! We didn't plan any excursions. When we were tendered over early that morning we grabbed a water taxi for $7 p/person kids free, roundtrip to lover's beach. The driver first stopped where people snorkel and we got to see a ton of amazing fish. He then drove us over to the arches for the photo opp. Then were dropped off at the beach. We played, swam, had a blast. The driver returned an hour and a half later and dropped us back off at the marina. We then walked over to Hotel Finisterra right near marina. Hiked up their huge mountain of a driveway to the lobby. I asked how much it would be to spend the day at the resort, the answer: No Charge. Woo hoo! We had a great time, swim up bar, good food, shallow areas for the kiddos to swim. We had a great time. The pools were nice. Overall good trip looking forward to doing it again in March with the extra day in Cabo. I think when traveling with kids I just have to constantly remind myself before we leave this is not going to be how you are imagining it. Sometimes I build it up too much in my head before we go. Then you just get let down. Traveling with kids (toddlers and infants) will always be challenging, but there is also room for fun. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
I just got back home from my first cruise on the Carnival Inspiration. It was amazing!!! The fun force was great and had many activities. The deck party at Christmas had great music, and we had a 185 member congo line. The slide and putt ... Read More
I just got back home from my first cruise on the Carnival Inspiration. It was amazing!!! The fun force was great and had many activities. The deck party at Christmas had great music, and we had a 185 member congo line. The slide and putt putt were fun, and the food was good, not great. Cozumel was a lot of fun, we took an excursion not sponsored by the cruise ship and enjoyed it very much. There were a lot of space to enjoy the sun, and each floor was always bustling with fun activities. The best part of about the cruise was the teen (15-17 year old) club 02. Our directer, Ilijah was the bomb. I had the chance to mix and mingle with other teens on the ship which was great. My only negative things about the ship is that many areas require extra fees, or require an age requirement. Also, the last "fun" day at sea, we drove into a massive all day storm, and half of the ship was seasick, and that really dampened things, along with the fact everything outside was closed for high winds. Lastly, our CD Stephanie Meads was annoying, her PA announcements sounded sarcastic, and woke me up on multiple occasions. Overall, Carnival's Inspiration is a great cruise. From the evening dinner "Shoooowtime!" to parties and all the "fun", it was a welcomed Christmas experience. Great for all ages. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We've been on a few cruises and we only stay in suites. I must sound like a snob but I think it's important to know this. Because when I critique a suite...I know what they are supposed to be like. Of the cruise lines that we ... Read More
We've been on a few cruises and we only stay in suites. I must sound like a snob but I think it's important to know this. Because when I critique a suite...I know what they are supposed to be like. Of the cruise lines that we have traveled so far(Norwegian, Crystal, Princess) We feel Princess Cruise offers the least bang for your buck when it comes to suites. It offers no priority services once you are on the ship. You do not have a butler, concierge services, or anything else special. You are given a one-time beverage set up and that is all. It was a little jarring. Having never sailed Princess Cruises, we didn't know what the suite offered. We searched the room for any information that we could find. We finally gave up and called the operator who told us that they didn't have anyone special assigned to the suites. I asked if we could have a clock for the room and she said no but I could purchase a clock in the gift shop. And, that is how I became the proud owner of a $45.00 Princess Cruise crystal clock. Our cabin was divided into a living room and bedroom and a bathroom. The bedroom was tiny, tiny, tiny. Two people could not walk in the room at the same time. But, the living room and bathroom were a nice size. The layout actually works if you have more than two people since the person in the living room would have complete privacy. But, the real selling point in our cabin was the balcony. Holy cow! I'm sure it was larger than an interior cabin on the ship. It wrapped around the entire length of our cabin which gave us the feeling that we were on a private boat. The downside of our balcony was that we couldn't use the largest part of it while the ship was in transit. But once the ship docked...the second door was opened and the entire balcony was ours. This was a huge benefit since the pool was always jammed. The best part of the cruise was when we were docked in Los Cabos. We started to leave the ship but when we saw that we had the most perfect view in the world right outside our door...aw heck. We positioned our deck chairs so that we had a postcard view and spent the day enjoying the view, salt air, and room service. The people on our Princess Cruise were fun. As we were walking down the hall couples were grabbing us and saying, "Yea! More young people!" (Note: We aren't that young, but what the hey! when in Rome....) On the second day of the cruise we found out that people who had suites could hang out in a special lounge where they served food for happy hour. Ummm, yeah, that's a draw on a cruise ship. Yup. It was for people who were staying in suites and people who had risen to a certain status level in the Captains Circle. As much as we appreciate the need for people to belong to private clubs...we just aren't comfortable in that type of atmosphere. So we went to one gathering, ate some cheese and crackers and headed back to the overcrowded pool area. We didn't bother going back for the Captain's Party. Just wasn't our cup of tea. We really enjoyed the public spaces on Princess. We were impressed with how clean they kept the ship. We enjoyed the buffett but it was always crowded and we seemed to get there at the exact wrong time: Either as it was closing for a shift change or just as the mob hit it. With Princess you could request your dining time and we choose the first seating. I guess because we had a suite they assigned us to a window view which was really nice. We sat there the first night. We were told that would be our permanent table for the duration of the cruise. We thought it was very nice but we didn't feel like dinner there on the second or third night so we didn't go back until our fourth night at sea. When we arrived for dinner the fourth night we were ushered to an entirely different area. I asked why we weren't being taken to "our" table and the host explained that they had given away our table to another couple when we failed to show up two nights in a row. Fair enough. But, something to take note of if you are traveling on Princess. This was the first cruise that I can honestly say that we enjoyed everything that the cruise ship offered. We attended all the silly events. We went dancing every night. We played bingo---and no we didn't get the electronic cards. Come on people. Really? It's bingo. We had more fun watching the crazed bingo players than we did actually playing bingo. And, no. We never did get a bingo. There's $5.00 we'll never see again. My assessment of Princess Cruises is as follows: It's a fun ship. But, it's not a helpful ship. What I mean by that is, some cruise ships take pride in how much they pamper you. I don't think Princess is one of those ships. In fact, every time I would express surprise at something (What do you mean I only get three towels? Why can't I have four?)the crew would shrug and say, "What do you expect? It's Princess." So, I don't think I'm saying anything that would surprise upper management at Princess. But, how much pampering do you really need on a cruise to Mexico? It seems that the majority of the people on my cruise wanted to drink, dance, swim, eat, and sleep. It would have been nice if they would have slept around the same time of night that I did but, hey, they were on vacation too. No harm. No foul. If we travel on Princess again we will break our rule about traveling in a suite. It's not worth the money. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Boarding the ship was pretty good. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 10:30 before the lines were actually open, so there was a line outside the terminal, but once the lines opened, things moved quite quickly. Our Set Sail said that ... Read More
Boarding the ship was pretty good. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 10:30 before the lines were actually open, so there was a line outside the terminal, but once the lines opened, things moved quite quickly. Our Set Sail said that our boarding time was 12:00 pm, but we were all checked in and on the ship by 11:15. We only stopped to make reservations at Chops, then went right to the Windjammer for lunch. We were easily able to get a table, but before we were finished eating, the place was packed and our table was pounced on as soon as we stood up. The doors to the staterooms were opened promptly at 1:00, and we checked it out. We were in #1362. The bed was by the balcony and the sofa was closer to the hall door. It was a new arrangement for us, but felt a bit roomier than the stateroom on Holland America that we had in September. The closet was smaller than on other ships, but adequate for us. The shower in the bathroom was rounded and although still small, gave the illusion of having more space then the rectangular ones. It could actually hold four average sized adults if one wanted to try for some kind of shower stuffing record. (Don't ask how I know this.) My husband bought the Fountain Soda package on the first day. He won't do it again. He felt he had to drink more sodas than he otherwise would have in order to break even with the individual price. With the only diet option being Diet Coke, he got tired of the whole thing. The package comes with a big insulated bottle, but is a pain to carry around. Fortunately the package includes drinks served in regular glasses anywhere on the ship. He wound up adding his own vanilla to the Cokes after our first port stop. That helped. The ship is quite nice. The Promenade is especially impressive. The Promenade Cafe is a great place to pick up a snack (loved the granola bars) 24 hours a day. The rooms that overlook it are a bit strange, but we talked to a man who was in one and said he really liked it. The double paned windows kept out the noise except when one of the parades was going on. There were signs of wear and tear, but you also saw people working on maintenance during the trip too. The best show on the show on the ship was the "Ice Under the Big Top". The skating, costumes, set, etc. were all comparable to the land based ice shows, although smaller. Knowing that the skaters are working on ice on a rolling ship was most impressive. A nice touch is that skating classes are offered late in the cruise (sign up early), and they are conducted by the performers themselves. They also handle handing out the skates and getting people signed up. It was fun meeting them up close and getting to interact with them. They were quite patient with us newbies. They do have periods when the rink is open for free skating. Some people even brought their own skates. The production shows on the main stage were OK, but the talent was not the best. We missed one that sounded like it was the only one not to miss. We did enjoy the backstage tour one day conducted by the dance captain and the lighting director. Even if the shows are great, you can appreciate what the performers especially the dancers have to cope with when you feel the stage moving. There are lots of activities on board. Of course all the usual, but the ice skating and the rock wall climbing were unique and quite fun. The fitness center was very nice and well maintained. A couple of treadmills were out of order one day, but back in use the next. The trivia and Name That Tune contests were mostly held in the Schooner Bar. There were so many people participating that it was often impossible to find a seat and once you did, to hear what was being said. For popular activities, they should find a larger more convenient venue. We found the crew to be friendly and helpful. Our waiter in the dining room, Jasonn Joya, was great, as was his assistant, Reynato. In the Windjammer, Verheek was the best. The iced tea from concentrate that they serve is undrinkable, so I brew my own, much to the mystification of most waiters, but when I put in my standard order, Verheek knew I wanted to brew my own tea and brought me extra ice and extra hot water. Kudos. The food was adequate. A few individual dishes were outstanding, but the overall quality could only be considered average. We did have an excellent meal in Chops, one of the specialty restaurants, but wouldn't have paid the extra cost for it. We got it comped as part of the deal for booking the cruise. Our major complaint was the corridor outside our room. Apparently someone was sick there, and it took days for the smell to dissipate. It made you gag, and we were holding our breath walking down the corridor until we got into our room. The second day after it happened, we overheard an officer telling the steward to shampoo it. It helped, but the smell didn't completely go away until the last day of the cruise. We really appreciate the Express Departure on RCL. We had used the same procedure on Holland America, which was much better publicized and operated. On RCL, the information was just three lines on the As You Depart sheet. You really had to look for it, then listen to the whole 20 minute TV presentation about disembarkation to get any details. The Guest Relations desk didn't have any information when we checked there. We were told to report to one location, then moved to another. It appears that the popularity of just walking off and taking you own bags with you was underestimated by the staff, so procedures were changed at the last minute to accommodate the crowd. It was a minor inconvenience, and the crowd was adapted to quickly, but with a little more planning (like Holland America does), they would have known ahead of time how many were planning on doing this. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This was our second adventure on the Mariner and our 8th on this class of ship. You can tell the ship is getting a bit worn, but nevertheless, the RC experience was worth it. Everyone had a great time! Lots to do for everyone. We had a ... Read More
This was our second adventure on the Mariner and our 8th on this class of ship. You can tell the ship is getting a bit worn, but nevertheless, the RC experience was worth it. Everyone had a great time! Lots to do for everyone. We had a group of kids spanning a variety of ages. The groups all had different experiences - 3-6 years old - loved it! 7-9 had a bit of trouble with the activities; girls mostly bored and didn't want to go back; 10-12 had a great time if you loved sports. Not so much for the middle of the road kids; 13-17 didn't even know they were on board most of the time! The biggest complaint from the kids programs was that the 13-17 year olds were always let out past curfew of 1:00. They got "written up" 4 times, although no one ever said a word to us. Finally got wise to it all and met them at 1:30 to take to promenade to get a snack before the in-room movie. I experienced them talking with the staff -- only following orders I presume -- but they were refused service. The server even questioned me as to why I would get food for ALL of the kids (8 of them). After a night of activities, I don't think a trip to get pizza and sandwiches and a drink is all that questionable. If they really were bad enough to get "written up" I would have expected to know about it. If not, I think RCCL would be better served giving the kids some snacks before retiring. Overall, the dining room was not set up to accommodate our group as well as the Windjammer was. We also enjoyed the speciality restaurants. The staff there was very accommodating to our needs and well worth the extra costs. Much funner to tip them than the "i just expect your tip no matter what I do" dining room staff. At the end of the week, the reviews were good -- good ship, good service, good people,good fun. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
H and I decided to book at the last minute a return trip on the Spirit. We had taken the Spirit in January 2010 to the Mexican Rivera and had no plans for out fall vacation. So when Carnival made an offer for $600 per person for an ... Read More
H and I decided to book at the last minute a return trip on the Spirit. We had taken the Spirit in January 2010 to the Mexican Rivera and had no plans for out fall vacation. So when Carnival made an offer for $600 per person for an extended balcony on its October 12, 2010 five day cruise, we decided to return.Since our January trip was truly a great trip, decided to retake the Spirit for short trip down to Cabo and Ensenada. What was truly funny was the price for the trip per person cost less than it cost to board the two dogs for the six days. Go figure. The good news: the cattle call problem with the January 2010 sailing was resolved. Through the embarcation process in less than 20 minutes. Food was excelent in the MDR as before and the Lido, while not exactly high cuisine, was edible, except for the hot dogs. Room steward was ok, but not excellent. Even hit a Royal Flush in the casino. At least the sun made it's loan appearance in Cabo, and would highly recommend the snorkeling excurison on the catamaran to anyone who likes to have a pleasant afternoon ride up the coast. the bad news: Only one day of sun out of the five on the ship. Not Carnival's fault, but still depressing. There were too many drunken passengers on this cruise, which made lots of noise in the wee hours of the night, and even during the day. But then again other than drinking, there is nothing to do in Ensenada, so people coming back from shore acting like they left all common sense on board was not surprising. No movies this trip in the Versaille lounge, which would have been a good idea especially the weather being cool and not above 65 degrees during the day and that would have been a good alternative to the casino. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
After a friend's recommendation we decided to tryTHE MARINER POSITIVE: Check-in went smoothly, although we were delayed 45 minutes for Coast Guard inspection. Easy to maneuver ship with my walker or scooter. Nice sized disabled ... Read More
After a friend's recommendation we decided to tryTHE MARINER POSITIVE: Check-in went smoothly, although we were delayed 45 minutes for Coast Guard inspection. Easy to maneuver ship with my walker or scooter. Nice sized disabled cabin. Great staff, fun Halloween & 70's parties & parades; great lamb, duck & white chocolate/orange flan (although the rack of lamb was hard to cut). Lobster was wonderful! We had a Great MDR staff for Anytime Dining. Trivia was fun, and run by a great, fun staff, but prizes were cheap (how many key-chains & highlighters do we need?) There should have been a prize exchange for people who would prefer a pen for a key chain! Room attendant was sweet & we had cute animals (elephant, turtle & monkey). Loved the brownies in the Cafe' Promenade! Disembarkation was also easy, after a small breakfast in the MDR. NEGITIVE: Amenities cut back (no robes, bad shampoo, warm refrigerator). Due to the Coast Guard inspection, elevators were shut down after disabled were allowed up to Windjammer, & I saw several passengers close to collapse when they climbed 7 floors! Windjammer was poorly organized and arranged, with not enough inside seating & no way to take food or drink outside without being accosted (no signs said no food around pool). No water service either. Food was OK but not great- some things were barley edible, egg-beaters were greasy & watery (especially on Windjammer). I never knew there were so many ways to serve chocolate mousse! Ship itself was very boxy & enclosed (we could have been at the Paris Las Vegas). There were Very few places to curl up & read while watching the view without going to pool area, which had very small Pools (On Carnival, I could always find a window seat to read). Staff was Fun, but CD Kiernan was barely around. I didn't find out until the last night that there was an elevator to take the disabled down to the front rows of the theater (you have to make a appointment with the stage Director to use it; otherwise, all disabled are in the last row on the 3rd deck), which is unfair if you want to participate. The Casino was also very cheap- not only the machines have poor pay-outs, but all I got for my points were more key chains; no cash-back! I think we'll try the Disney Magic, then stick to Carnival! Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We recently took the Splendor to Mexican Riveria. Have traveled before on other cruise lines to include Carnival but have never been on a ship that moved so much even in calm seas. I can only assumed that the ship did not have stablizers ... Read More
We recently took the Splendor to Mexican Riveria. Have traveled before on other cruise lines to include Carnival but have never been on a ship that moved so much even in calm seas. I can only assumed that the ship did not have stablizers or did not use them. Previous reviews have dissed the quality of the food - but we found the quality of both food and service to be excellent. Whenever there was an issue about a particular food item, it was removed and another menu item brought with no questions. The Splendor with it's 3,000 plus passengers appears to have spent all it's space on the cabins and not so much on size of its common areas. I have to give a big shout out to the quality of the entertainment. We had previous cruised with Carnival in September out of Baltimore and so had seen basically the same shows like Vroom. However, the singers and dancers of the Splendor had more energy than any others that I have seen. Had scare at Cabo with tendering and whether or not we would be able to visit port - but after maneuvering ship and tender sites several times we were able to off load ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
1) Flight and Pre-Cruise Hotel We flew into LAX the day before our cruise via our favorite airline, Southwest. Thanks to advice from Cruise Critic, we had made reservations for the Super Shuttle and the van picked us up at the ... Read More
1) Flight and Pre-Cruise Hotel We flew into LAX the day before our cruise via our favorite airline, Southwest. Thanks to advice from Cruise Critic, we had made reservations for the Super Shuttle and the van picked us up at the assigned location and took us to our hotel in short order. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro which is a short distance from the cruise port. Again, thanks to Cruise Critic, we had made reservations via Priceline and got a terrific room for $75 plus tax. We had dinner at the San Pedro Brewery (recommended by Cruise Critic posters) which was a block and a half up the street in what appeared to be a safe area. The next morning I walked up to the Numero Uno Market (about a ten minute walk from the hotel) and purchased a 12 pack of Diet Pepsi to take on the ship (no problems getting it aboard inside my carry on) and some terrific Mexican pastries for breakfast. We settled for coffee which we made ourselves in the room. The hotel provided a free shuttle to the port (first come, first served). We only had to wait a short amount of time for what was a very short ride. 2) Embarkation We arrived at the port shortly after 10:30 and were checked in very quickly with no lines, but ended up waiting for over an hour in the terminal as the Mariner was undergoing its annual Coast Guard inspection. Shortly before noon, we were allowed to board and since our cabin was not ready, we headed up to the Windjammer for lunch. It was starting to get crowded, but we did find a table and our cruise had begun. An announcement was made that cabins would not be ready until 2 p.m. due to the earlier inspection, so after lunch we took photos and enjoyed the sun on top deck. 3) Cabin/Steward/and Smoking At 2 p.m. we ventured to our cabin, #7626. It was a "hump" cabin just a few steps from the elevator on the port side in the center-rear of the ship. The cabin was clean and spacious with plenty of storage space. We never met our steward until he delivered our luggage at about the time of sail-away. ON past cruises, the steward usually makes it a point to stop by in the afternoon to introduce himself, but this one did not. We don't expect much from our steward other than making the bed each day, changing the towels, and keeping the ice bucket filled. Ours did just that, but not much more. No big deal, but attention to detail was lacking (e.g. the vanity lights had a burned out bulb all week, one of the reading lamps was dangling, and the televsion screen could have been cleaned. Smoking is always a controversial issue on these boards, and we are now 2 for 4 on RCCL ships. There was often a smell of smoke. Not overwhelming like the chain smokers next to us on the Jewel of the Seas, but annoying nonetheless. When will RCCL smarten up and not allow smoking on the balconies? 4) Dining *My Time Dining: We were introduced to My Time Dining on Independence of the Seas and it made us converts. We dined the the MDR on six of the seven nights. We never had to wait more than a couple of minutes for a table for two and after the first night requested he same wait staff of Richard and Scott who were fantastic. With My Time Dining, the tips are prepaid, but we had such great service, we left each of them additional on the final night. *Quality of Food: This is certainly an objective issue and I have felt that posters have been hypercritical on Cruise Critic in the past. Overall, we enjoyed our meals, but they were not spectacular. I am a big guy and usually never complain, but one night I only ate half of my steak because of the poor quality. In fairness, I did not say anything to the waitstaff, but just let it go. It was my own fault. *Windjammer: We had breakfast our first day in the MDR and were irritated that they would not seat us at a table for two. We found service to be horribly slow and thus ate in the Windjammer for breakfast for the rest of the cruise. The selections were great although at times we had to look around for a table. We found that if we arrived before 9 a.m., it was easier to get a table. We had lunch in the Windjammer on the first day and two of the sea days. It was okay, but none of the meals were memorable. *Chops: We always go to a specialty restaurant on the first of the so-called formal nights. It makes for a nice romantic meal that it much quieter than the main dining room. Although they no longer bring out a cart before you order to show you what is available (unfortunate, the food and service were outstanding. We had the Mississippi Mud Pie for dessert. Awesome! Although some debate doing so, we left the wait staff an additional $20 tip for the excellent service. *Johnny Rockets: The first time we went to Johnny Rockets was on the Independence of the Seas and it was a great diversion on a sea day for lunch. The dancing waiters are a hoot. There is a $4.95 pp cover charge. RCCL used to have a BOGO Free coupon, but no longer although you can get a BOGO milkshake. Buy the time you are done, you have paid close to $20 with tip. I am not so sure that it is worth it, but there was quite a line, so RCCL is making some bucks. *Dress Code: How folks dress is a major issue on these boards although I am not sure why. Quite frankly "The Clothes Police" only exist on Cruise Critic. Do not let anyone intimidate you or try to relegate you to dine in another venue because you do not meet their standards, especially on the so-called formal nights. I do not own a tux nor a suit that fits well, thus I wore a long sleeved dress shirt with tie, dark pants, and a blue blazer. No one said a word, nor did I discern any dirty looks. I normally don't pay attention to what others wear, but I did look around on both of the so-called formal nights and estimate the following. Approximately... ...10% wore a tux ...40% wore a suit ...25% wore a sport coat with or without a tie ...10-15% wore a long sleeved shirt with or without a tie ...10-15% wore something else *Room Service: We used to always order chicken drumettes through room service in the late afternoon and enjoy them with a cheese plate and a drink on the balcony to watch the sunset. The drumettes are no longer available and thus we did not use room service. Another cutback from RCCL. 5) Meet and Mingle and Cabin Crawl Cruise Critic had a number of us participating on the forum board and many of us were looking forward to the Meet and Mingle on the first sea day. Quite frankly, RCCL was overwhelmed with the number who showed up. They assigned only one junior member of the Cruise Director's staff. By the time everyone had signed in and he made his speech and awarded raffle prizes, the time was up. That's right, at the conclusion of his remarks he told us to feel free to stay and meet one another, but that we needed to vacate the room in about ten minutes or so as another function was going to take place. Way to go, RCCL, "Here is your hat and coat. What is your hurry?"!! We did have a cabin crawl on the second sea day and it was terrific. We had made it a point to meet up and a group of us had the chance to visit cabins of Cruise Critic forum posters. Now my wife and I have been on 19 cruises and have only had a balcony on the last four. You should have seen the look on her face when she saw the size of an aft balcony. The Royal Family Suite left her speechless (and that does not happen often)! 6) Activities and Entertainment We have been on many cruises and quite frankly find the production shows to be old hat, thus we skipped them. You know you are getting old when you are in bed at 10 p.m. on a cruise! We do enjoy string music and looked forward to relaxing in the Ellington Lounge, but left after 15 minutes because it was so bad. We enjoyed the ice show on the Independence of the Seas and looked forward to it on the Mariner and were disappointed that it was only held earlier in the week. We expected it to be repeated later in the week. It wasn't! We enjoy trivia on sea days and participated in several. We love to read and were greatly disappointed with the limited selection and hours in the library. Although it was right around the corner from our room, books were locked up and could only be checked out for a couple of hours a day. I did speak to the staff on the last day and they said that previous to that week, it was open 24/7 and sign out was on the honor system. Evidently many, many books had sprouted legs and had walked off the ship. We did enjoy some historical lectures by a professor from Oregon State University on Mexcio which were held on all three sea days. What a refreshing change from those silly Port Shopping talks! 7) Port Reviews: See separate section below. 8) Disembarkation: The last day is a great deal of hurry up and wait, so we cleared our cabin by 8 a.m. and went topside for breakfast in the Windjammer. Since we were extending our stay in the LA area and did not need to make a flight, we played by the rules,reported to our assigned location and waited until our luggage tag color was called. Unfortunately, many others did not. By the time our color was called some 30 minutes later than the tentative time listed, the line to get off of the ship was huge. To make matters worse, once you found your luggage in the terminal, Customs and Immigration officials were overwhelmed and the line moved ever so slowly. 9) Post Cruise: Once we left the terminal with out luggage, we caught the van for Enterprise Car Rental which took us to their office where picking up our car for the day was a snap (again thanks to Cruise Critic posters for the advice). We spent three days in the LA area. Some highlights: *A visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. He is not one of my favorite presidents, but one can not overlook the historic value of the visit. *We stayed for three nights at the Comfort Inn in Santa Monica. Clean, safe, and convenient with a great breakfast. *We visited the Santa Monica Pier and found dinner at a place called Carrows to be excellent. *We took an all day tour of LA, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills through Star line Tours. They will pick you up and return you to your hotel. *Driving is surprisingly easy in the LA area even with the freeways, remember we are from New England where the streets of Boston are configured from old cow paths! My wife is a fan of the "Combat" television series from the sixties and we took some time exploring Franklin Canyon which is north of Hollywood. *We went to the Warner Brothers Studios to see a taping of the "Big Bang Theory" television series. What an experience! Warning--you must reserve tickets a month in advance on line and they go fast. *Our hotel was a ten minute drive from LAX and returning our rental car was a snap. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and had a terrific cruise! Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This was my third time on the Mariner OTS and I will probably not go back. We stayed the night before at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro. We chose that because of the proximity to the ship. Beautiful hotel room, but the area had a ... Read More
This was my third time on the Mariner OTS and I will probably not go back. We stayed the night before at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro. We chose that because of the proximity to the ship. Beautiful hotel room, but the area had a little to be desired. They have a shuttle to the pier and we got to sleep in expecting to arrive on board around 1pm so we could go right to the cabin, but that did not happen. Upon arrival at the pier we were greeted to a very long line that wrapped around in a lot of different directions. There were no ropes or lines to tell you where to go and not a lot of RCCL people to make sure the line was being directed correctly. We saw a lot of people just cutting in line. It took us around 45 minutes to get through security and to the desk. Check-in was flawless and smooth. We proceeded to the gangway and another line. There were some problems with the security check in on board and it created another line. We finally were through and on board around 1:15 and wanted to go straight to the cabin. Onward to deck 8 and the doors are shut. No information. Its after 1pm and the sign on the doors say cabins will be available at 1pm. HMMMMM. We go up to the Windjammer and its an absolute zoo. No seating, lots of people. This is what happens when the cabins aren't ready at 1. We ask the staff if Johnny Rockets is open and they say no so we go in. Finally get a plate and start the search for a place to sit with no luck, so we try for the open bench just outside the door and are stopped and told that no food is supposed to leave the Windjammer. Surprising since every other RCCL ship I have been on, including the previous times on the Mariner, allowed food to leave. When my wife explained that there were no seats, the person said "not my problem you can't take the food out." We left the food on the table with the ice sculpture and walked out. We went to the upper deck and Johnny Rockets was open. If they would have told us that in the first place, we wouldn't have even walked into the windjammer. Johnny Rockets is always worth the trip. We finally got to the cabin and it was very nice as always. Our cabin steward was right there when we arrived and promptly filled our request for extra pillows. She was always very attentive to us, even on the days where we didn't leave the cabin until after lunch. Our luggage arrived before dinner and we were able to change and we went to the dining room for our early seating. Our dining room waiter was tops. He was funny and always on top of things that needed to be done. Our assistant waiter left some to be desired and we made sure our comment card reflected that. The food during the week was good. Lots of fish choices, more than I can remember. As for the ports of call, we chose this itinerary because it was something different for us. Im glad we did it but, I am also glad RCCL is discontinuing this itinerary. Cabo San Lucas was nice to sail into. The harbor is beautiful. Lots of great scenery. We tendered to the dock with no problems, a nice smooth ride with little wait for the tenders. When you get to the pier be ready for the constant calls for taxis, tours, souvenirs, and anything else under the sun. It was like running a gauntlet. We walked around town a little and went to the Cabo Wabo cantina and some shops. Very nice people in the shops, but when we were done we had to run the gauntlet again. Tender service back was smooth as well. Mazatlan was a pit. We docked at a cargo terminal and had to take a tram to the entrance once off the ship. Through a mini gauntlet we got in one of the recommended taxis for a ride to the "golden zone", about 3 miles from the ship and the only place the ship recommends you go for "safety reasons" as per the port shopping guide. Halfway through the ride I asked the driver how much longer it was and he said "oh you want the golden zone", a few minutes later we were there. Ship stated the price was $10 one way but he said it was $20, because he took us to 2 spots. I gave him $10 and said no way. There was little to nothing golden about the "golden zone" I think we stayed there about an hour walking and back to the ship. Puerto Viarta. No too much to say about this port. We didn't really explore. Again a gauntlet of vendors to get anywhere. We just went just outside the port to get some postcards and small trinkets. As for other on board experiences, the activities seemed to be cut back. There seemed to be a little less. I loved to play bingo on board but they changed the game. If you just wanted the cards it was around $42 or for over $50 you got a machine that told you you would win. You didn't have to even pay attention to the numbers. The problem was that most, if not all of the winners had purchased the machine. The most fun was the activity called "The Quest" I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. It was a total blast. This is an adult only activity that I have been to many times, but this was by far the best one. The guest entertainers were good, and the late night comedy was great. The production shows are typical cruise line shows. The promenade parades were great. For some reason I thought there were 3, but there were 2 on this one. Only one other issue during portrait night. We were waiting in line for the portraits to be done and when we finally arrive at the front of the line the photographer put up a sign and said she was going on break. Someone who seemed to be a supervisor said something to her in a non-English language and she just looked at him and walked away. Again something we noted on the comment card. Overall it was a nice cruise. Nice and relaxing. I just seemed to me that they are cutting back on the activities and perks for the Crown and Anchor members. Our on board booklet was a lot different, less coupons. No art auction, we always enjoyed that. I love RCCL, but I think they are concentrating on the larger ships. My last cruise was on the Independence and they activities and perks were more plentiful. It could have been my imagination, but some of the crew were just going through the motions, maybe it was the same itinerary every week for them. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We arrived a day early (my husband being a pilot - we know about airlines & would never try to arrive the day of a cruise). We went to the Holiday Inn on the Stay & Cruise deal. The Holiday Inn was old & not extremely ... Read More
We arrived a day early (my husband being a pilot - we know about airlines & would never try to arrive the day of a cruise). We went to the Holiday Inn on the Stay & Cruise deal. The Holiday Inn was old & not extremely attractive. Even though the website said there was a free breakfast, they told us when we asked that there would be an additional charge if we wanted it. We knew we'd be on the ship early so just got something at Jack in the Box to hold us over. We left the car parked there & signed up to take the 10:30 shuttle to the ship. This went without incidence, but it was further than we'd thought over there. I was a Platinum member, so this was our first experience with VIP check-in, which was really nice. No wait at all to check-in, then just staying in a special room with other platinums waiting to board. They had pretty good lemonade available. I would recommend a TV screen with either pictures of places Carnival cruises or ships or something, even regular television as it was a little boring just waiting for an hour or so. They came & got us & told us it was time to get on the ship. What an awesome difference VIP is. We went right in, were the first to go through security & get on the ship. No wait whatsover. We went straight to the Lido deck to get lunch & it was great. About an hour or so later, we went to our room. The balcony was really amazing. We were in a corner room 6450 at the back of the ship on the port side. The balcony wrapped around the back & side of the ship. It was huge!!! The room was a different configuration, also. And even though the information said it was no bigger, it seemed larger than other balcony rooms because it was more triangular instead or rectangular. Our steward was OK, but not exceptional. Our waiter was good & our drink lady was even better. We hardly ever had to ask her to refill anything as she was always on top of things. We liked the maitre'D. I admit I have hardly ever even talked to one before as they were never very personable. But this one (sorry can't remember his name) came by to talk almost every night. He checked on how we liked things & arranged for creme' brulee to be made for several of us on an extra night. He was very friendly & concerned. The cruise director John Heald was hysterical. I really liked him. We have only liked one other cruise director almost as much. He could make anything funny & we laughed a lot on this ship. I guess he is going on another ship & if he does, he will make it a lot of fun. Our first port was Puerto Vallarta & we went ziplining. OK, no one ever told me that ziplining meant about 40 flights (I am not exagerating) of stairs. My sis in law (75) & myself (bad knees) had a tough time getting up to ride the lines down. The company was Los Veranos ziplining. This amount of climbing was really tough & since it was warm & humid, it was challenging.The people were very friendly & helpful, but we just were not prepared for that much physical exertion. The next day we went to Mazatlan. I had arranged for a tour off the ship & it was OK. I wouldn't really recommend it. The company was OK & the guy took us around the entire area. It was pretty seeing everything, but not outstanding. The last day was Cabo San Lucas. Cabo is beautiful. I had arranged for a 3 site snorkeling tour & a speed boat ride. This was pretty awesome. They took us to Lover's Beach where we were able to get off & see the Pacific Ocean & Sea of Cortez & take some pictures. They also took us to two other places to snorkel. The water was pretty & it was very nice. The tour was supposed to last a little longer than the ship leave time, but the tour company dropped us off on the dock making sure we got there in time. Well, as it turned out, we waited in line at least 45 minutes to get back onto the tender for the ship. I wonder why there is no "Platinum line" to return to the Cruiseship? When we got on the tender to go into Cabo, we did not have to wait at all, but had our own personal elevator to take us directly down to the tender. As we left Cabo, we sat out on the beautiful balcony & watched the view for a long time. Since I was platinum, one night they brought some great appetizers & another night, they brought petit fours. They also gave me a nice Carnival frame. It was nice to take advantage of the free laundry & go home with almost all of my clothes clean. I liked the Splendor. The food was OK, about the same as normal. Just enough to gain 6 or 7 pounds. I kind of wish they'd add a few different items or change things around a little more. Wish they would have King Crab Legs one night. Because one of our members gets bored on the sea days, I planned a mini-golf tourney & photo scavenger hunt. It was pretty fun & helped keep us all active & involved. There didn't seem as many activities during the sea days, but maybe they are getting old for me. Karaoke was BAD, BAD, BAD. The Russian girl hosting was so caught up in herself that she didn't try to give effective customer service. When people picked a song, she'd tell them she couldn't find it, and made them pick something else that she liked instead. She wanted to do only recent songs & some of the older people didn't care for the picks. She wouldn't let others sing, but would sing herself instead, then say there was no time for them. And the songs she would pick had foul language. If I want to hear "R" rated songs, I'll get them, but should not have to listen to those when I just go to relax & listen to others sing. She wore some really tacky & super tight clothes that showed her thong lines (black thong - under red dress - ewww)underneath then bragged about how some of the crew wanted to come to see her in this outfit. She didn't seem to have much of a sense of humor & really was not the one who should have been in that position. We love karaoke, but hated her! She ruined it for us. Our debarkation was great & quick. Because we were Platinum, we got to get off pretty quickly. We called the hotel to have the shuttle come get us. Well, they only had one shuttle & we had to wait almost two hours. After we'd waited that time, a few other people came & waited about an hour. When they saw the shuttle, they tried to push us off & jump on it first, but luckingly the driver had our names on the list for pickup. I would never do this again since Holiday Inn's shuttle was so unorganized & slow. They should rent or get another shuttle. It was a great trip, though & we did enjoy the Splendor. Didn't care about the decor, but wouldn't let it spoil my trip. Sometimes I think cruise ships are so caught up in "designer decor" that they think things are beautiful just because a certain person did it. Instead, they really should just go with the decor of "less is more". Read Less
Sail Date October 2010

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