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6,393 Mexican Riviera Cruise Reviews

Food Dining rating (1-10) overall an 8+ - lots of selection, steaks were well prepared and cooked to order! Very good service and attention to detail - our wait staff danced and sang for us - very talented!!! The buffets were quick and ... Read More
Food Dining rating (1-10) overall an 8+ - lots of selection, steaks were well prepared and cooked to order! Very good service and attention to detail - our wait staff danced and sang for us - very talented!!! The buffets were quick and well set-up - my only complaints: No really HOT salsa, and the Mongolian used VERY sub-standard chicken pieces (you know the kind....... was that really gristly chicken or something else?) California Rolls 10+++ everything we had there was great and good quality fish, and rolls and wasabi. Bar Service rating (1-10) overall 3- These guys/gals could not make a decent margarita.......... we are on a cruise to Mexico for crying out LOUD! Had a couple and had to move onto shots....... not sure what (if any) kind of tequila they used in their "rocks" margis. Two words... weak and tasteless! We finally found one lady that actually made a margi with some tequila in it - just couldn't find her often enough! My girl had the bloody marys and they were good (tobasco and Worstershire) but never got a large enough piece of celery to stir it - the garnish and flavor are the biggest part of a good bloody mary........ in my humble opinion. We would have spent at least 200% more (each) if the bar was better. Room Service rating (1-10) overall 10+++ Excellent / fast / food quality was great General housekeeping rating (1-10) 9+ Very good - They cleaned and manicured our room 3 times daily - and we tipped extra...........these guys are amazing!!! Shows, entertainment rating (1-10) 8 Good - we saw 4 comedians.... 2 of them were good, 1 great, 1 not too good. The larger production shows were good with laser effects, lots of good popular music (that's BIG coming from a DJ!) The live music on THE LIDO deck was good - the pre-recorded stuff they could have improved on..........many popular songs during the week were repeated - I just think you should have remixed stuff, and special versions of the popular stuff - maybe more dance stuff in the late afternoon / evening time slots - I know - DJs can be critical! I have nothing else to compare this to since it was our first cruise.... i am surprised at the quality of the water on board the ship (I took some home to test) Straight out of the tap in our bathroom the water measured 50 PPM TDS (50 parts per million total dissolved solids) The national limit is 500 PPM - our tap water at home measures 250 - 275 PPM - VERY IMPRESSED!!! I read a few reviews where they thought the water on the ship had made them sick - while I can't comment on bacterial content, I can say with confidence that the TDS content is better than most bottled water that I have tested over the years! Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We booked this cruise as a last minute, pre-back to school trip. Traveled with DH and DD (10) and Sister in law, Brother in Law and their two kids (son 7 and daughter 1). This was our 4th cruise, first on Carnival (others on Disney & ... Read More
We booked this cruise as a last minute, pre-back to school trip. Traveled with DH and DD (10) and Sister in law, Brother in Law and their two kids (son 7 and daughter 1). This was our 4th cruise, first on Carnival (others on Disney & Norwegian). Overall, for what we paid, the cruise was a good value. The food was actually much better than I thought it would be. Not quite as good as what we had on Disney or NCL, but it was above average & there was a good variety. That said, we only ate at the buffet on embarkation day. DH disliked that there was not an upscale/upcharge restaurant on the ship as a choice. We booked an inside stateroom and for the three of us, it was tight, but manageable. That said, we will go back to booking ocean view rooms like we always have before. A little extra space makes a big difference. They had a pull out cot (like a trundle bed) for our daughter, which left no floorspace in the room whatsoever. I would have preferred a pull down bunk for her. Our stateroom host was fantastic & made better towel animals than on any cruise we've been on. Our stateroom required maintenance three times during the cruise, including a 3am visit from an electrician to rewire a light connected to the ships emergency system that was flashing off and on for an hour. That was completely unacceptable. The poor handling of that situation was the least pleasant part of the trip. We had absolutely perfect weather, once we left port and on our sea days the pool decks were very crowded. This is a large ship, but there were a lot of times it felt crowded. The lobby bar was wonderful. One of our favorite spaces on the ship. As other reviews have stated, where smoking is allowed it is overpowering. The internet cafe is next to one of the smoking lounges and it smelled terrible. The coke cards were a good value and they had lots of choices (caffiene free diet coke, sprite zero, club soda etc), but it always took a long time to get service. The bar waitstaff seemed quite busy all the time. DD attended the late night party (10pm-3:30am) at Camp Carnival and had a great time. They went all around the ship and then walked the kids back to the room, so you didn't have to go pick them up, which was nice. My nephew also participated in Camp Carnival activities and really enjoyed them. We only saw one show, the "Big Easy" tribute to NO show and it was good. We also attended the adults only late night comedy show and it was hilarious. That is a must do! I understand why Carnival is putting the comedy clubs in fleet wide. We laughed so hard. Duty free prices for liquor on the ship were good for everything but tequila, which was about 30% cheaper in Mexico while we were in port. The ships duty free shop did tell us that we needed to be honest, declare all the liquor we bought and that they likely would not make us pay duty. We had no problems coming thru customs with 11 bottles and didn't pay duty (and we did declare all of it). Embarkation and debarkation were handled well and they moved the masses of people as quickly as possible. Traveling with 1yr old neice, Carnival has room for improvement. Highchairs were only available in the main dining rooms, but not at the buffet. The "kiddie" pool was away from everything else and babysitting for kids under two years old isn't available until after 10pm. It may be that Carnival would prefer you leave kids under two at home. We managed, but it was never easy. Is it fair to compare to Disney and NCL? Really completely different experiences, overall clientele and price points, so no. Disney is of course much more family oriented, shows & deck parties (including fireworks off the ship) were MUCH more elaborate, but we paid for those amenities. On our NCL cruise we had a suite with concierge service & ate in the upcharge restaurant every night for dinner, so again we paid for a more luxurious experience. Would we cruise Carnival again? Yes and we'll enjoy it with better knowledge of what to expect. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
My wife and I just got back from a 7 nighter aboard Mariner. I will go as quick as possible through everything: Embarkation: We went touring around LA the day of Embarkation, so we arrived to the ship 2 hours before sailing and flew ... Read More
My wife and I just got back from a 7 nighter aboard Mariner. I will go as quick as possible through everything: Embarkation: We went touring around LA the day of Embarkation, so we arrived to the ship 2 hours before sailing and flew through in less than 5 mins. Stateroom: We had a Jr. Suite on deck 10, and we were very surprised at the size. We've been in Jr. Suites on other RCI ships and this one was by far the biggest. The Interior decorations looked original, but in good shape and I could really care less if the carpet isn't modern looking. The wife loved the huge walk-in closet. The bathroom was fine, but the shower curtain was a bit clingy. The balcony was a good size (2 chairs, lounger and a table) The table wobbled, but nothing that a few folded pieces of paper didn't fix. Dining Room: Our first night, we were on the deck 5 dining room with some "elderly" couples who we had nothing in common (we are 35 & 40), so the next morning I went to see Kal/Cal the dining room manager to be re-located. He said he would "try" and send a message to our suite later in the day. Later in the day, a note was delivered with our new table assignment. We were pleasantly surprised that it was right beside the Captain's table and we absolutely loved our table mates. We had an absolute blast with all of them and we were by far the loudest, most rowdiest table in the place (sorry if any one didn't like the multi-coloured boas and fake moustache's on the last night!!) We closed the dining room every night and made some really good friends. Food: The food was definitely the low point of this cruise. We have been on RCI twice before and Carnival once. On all of our previous cruises, the food was good to excellent. On this cruise, I would rate the food as poor with the occasional glimpse of excellence (I am NOT a picky eater either) The Windjammer food was the EXACT same from day 1 through 7 and was standard buffet fare...edible but not special. In the dining room, I NEVER order the pasta, as the other selections are usually better sounding. I order the pasta twice, as I didn't like any of the other selections and my normal stand-by (steak) looked and felt like a wet slipper. The prime rib and lobster was awesome and some of the appetizers were tasty. Deserts were also a disappointment. Johnny Rockets had great fries and rings, but the burgers were a bit greasy. Didn't want to miss any of the action at our table, so we cancelled our reservations at Chops. (Plus we heard the food up there wasn't great either) Overall, the food on this cruise was not great and it gives me the sense that RCI is trying to save money on this money-losing itinerary. Ship: Great. Best ship so far. Suite was great, Dining room and Windjammer were nicely designed, the Promenade was fun, good theatre and great pool deck. The casino treated me well, but there wasn't a lot of room behind the tables on the port side. Overall, this was the best ship from a layout, design and amenity point of view. Service: Everyone except our stateroom attendant was fantastic. Some drink servers too a while, but I figure they were just saving me some money. We really only saw our stateroom attendant on the first day, which was fine, but we are used to seeing them 3-4 times per day. And she wasn't very friendly or outgoing. However, she did print up a banner wishing my wife a happy birthday on the request of our friends. Oh yeah, and the Windjammer service in the morning wasn't great either... we didn't get served at all on one morning. Ports: Cabo and Mazatlan were SO HOT that we only got off the ship for 1 hour. Puerto Vallarta: Paid $100 to go to Las Calletas (sp?)and it was bad...The boat to take you there was 45 min late and when we got off the boat, were told that we needed to eat in the next half hour or we'd miss out (PV is 2 hours ahead of ship time) and we had just finished breakfast. Everything was on a tight schedule, so if you didn't go snorkeling right at 1pm, then you couldn't go. There were no chairs to lay down on and the bar areas were way too small when the rain started. Not worth the $100 price. Disembarkation: smooth as silk. Go online an book Super Shuttle back to LAX, it is way cheaper ($34 for 2) than anything else we found. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
In a nut shell, the ship was beautiful, the crew was wonderful, but the ports were not good at all. The food was so so, definitely not a "Fun Ship". OK, so here we go. Boarding was simple and quick. Got there and boarded by by ... Read More
In a nut shell, the ship was beautiful, the crew was wonderful, but the ports were not good at all. The food was so so, definitely not a "Fun Ship". OK, so here we go. Boarding was simple and quick. Got there and boarded by by 11:00. Went to the cabin immediately to drop off our carry-on luggage and then to the Windjammer for lunch. Great salads and hot food, although it got tiring by the end of the trip. Seemed that it was left overs in another form from the previous night. Went to the pool are to get a cocktail, and as expected, 7.25 for a frozen drink...a bit more than last year on Carnival Triumph. Pool was a great refresher, but our luggage did not arrive until 6:00, so we stayed damp for a while. Checked out the ship, and she is a beauty. Loved the fact that the promenade was so pretty. Departed a bit early as the ship and passengers were ready to go, even after life boat drill...(easier than the Carnival Ships...did not need to go to state room for life jackets) ...but not much of a "Sail away party"...???? At sea, there is so much to do, and such hot weather, decided to hit the pool after breakfast (which had quite a variety) and enjoy the sun and pool. Entertainment was fun with a Caribbean band by the pool area. For all you smokers, Deck four,a small area by the pool, balconies and the casino and bight club are the only place to smoke. Dinner was in the main dining room and our table was in the back in a corner, with no table mates. We asked to change it and got a lovely table in the middle with great table mates. Our server, Cornell, was simply awesome. A few of the girls, got multiple hor dourves and main courses, not just tonight but every night. Food was at best, a b-. Day two, was just about the same, with pool, drinks, food and an incredible Ice Show...a must see. Played mini golf, and went to the show that evening. Nice shows, a bit better than the flashy Vegas shows on Carnival. More family oriented. Cabo was just beautiful to look at. Took a water taxi over to Lovers beach, 8.00 R/T for each. Unfortunately, the gentleman tried to "screw" us over by telling me we didn't pay for four, only three, but I know we did...he was hiding money in his hand. When I told the girls to get off the boat, we would try to find another one, he "found" the money. HINT: Have exact change and count all your money to him. Also, make sure you have the right (SAME)water taxi on the return, because they will make you or try to make you pay again, regardless of an emergency. Read on... two of the girls we were with got caught in a terrible rip tide, and got caught under a rock. One of them sliced the bottom of the big toe off, and got cut on a rock from armpit to waist...all the while being pulled out further and further. Thank God there was a doctor on the beach who helped us get her out and apply pressure to her toe. We asked for our Water taxi, and was told it was coming right away to get her back to the safety of the ship. One half hour later, still waiting, we were told by a guy with a walkie talkie to take "this one"...we did as she was losing blood. Do you know that he asked for a tip and then the driver asked us to pay for the ride back? When I refused, I told him I would like to talk to the police. Went to the pier police and they said we had to pay. We told them we already did. Got the original driver and suggested he give him the "return" trip money and said he couldn't because he already turned it into the house. With that my daughter asked to see RCCL security at the pier, and he got us back on board without issue. Back on board, went to the ship infirmary, where we were told it was 175.00 just for a consultation and more for treatment, and that they DO NOT ACCEPT medical insurance. Well, guess what...we put pressure on it and cleaned it ourselves and she was fine the next day. Turned out to be a large flap of skin ...We were also told that evening that an 8 year old drowned earlier that day at the same beach. Why were we not advised by RCCL to stay off of the beach? Mazatlan, too hot! 106! Got off ship to the little flea market area and a corona for $2.00 then back on board to the pool! Great idea! P.V. .....middle of a rain storm, but got off, took a taxi to Malecon saw people body surfing in the flooded streets and got free samples of tequila along the way. The sand castles were beautiful... Malecon had some great shops and saw the cathedral which was beautiful. Took a cab back, which was FILTHY...all of us had to wash our clothes to get the brown stains off of our clothing. IMPORTANT: Use your safe. The girls room door did not shut all the way, and they had money taken from their wallets. Had security come up and do a search, filled out paper work, checked security cameras and key codes....nothing came of it, and we need to send a complaint and inquiry to the main office of RCCL. The Quest show was hilarious, yet a bit raunchy...but the best show I've seen on a ship! Dragons Lair is the Club....the girls loved it and made some good and life long friends. D.J. Scratch was the best! Compare Carnival to RCCL.....Carnival food was much better, the crowd much more fun and the ports in the Caribbean are much better! RCCL...ship was nicer....that's about it! Any questions, I will be glad to answer! Peace Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Background: I'm in my 50's and have been on over thirty cruises. I traveled with a friend, also in his 50's and also a seasoned cruiser. We chose this cruise more for the chance to get away than to see the ports, as we had ... Read More
Background: I'm in my 50's and have been on over thirty cruises. I traveled with a friend, also in his 50's and also a seasoned cruiser. We chose this cruise more for the chance to get away than to see the ports, as we had both visited them a number of times before. EMBARCATION: We arrived just after 1:00 PM, and were aboard the ship in matter of minutes. Seamless! SHIP OVERALL: We had cruised on the Explorer of the Seas, a ship of the same class as Mariner, so the size wasn't a surprise. I give RCI great credit for maintaining a very clean and attractive ship. Despite its size, it is easy to get around, and the fact that there were over 3,600 passengers never caused a problem with crowds. Our cruise director, Kieron Buffery, was among the best I've ever experienced. He is an amazingly talented guy who has limitless energy and quick wit. Capt. Johnny was omnipresent and very friendly. The staff as a whole was among the friendliest I've ever met on a ship. CABIN: We had a balcony cabin on deck eight forward. It was attractive, with plenty of storage and space. RCI has nicer linens these days, but I found my bed a bit too firm. Our cabin steward, Dale from Jamaica, was superb!(NB: RCI doesn't provide body lotion or conditioner, so bring your own.) DINING: This area alone is responsible for my rating of four out of five. Had the food been better, the Mariner would get a perfect five from me. Main dining room: We had "My time dining" and loved it. We never had to wait, and the servers did get to know us. We had a few dinners with others, and a few at a table by ourselves. I enjoyed the flexible times. The three-story dining room is stunning, and tables aren't crowded together. The food, however, was a disappointment night after night. There often was only one salad on the menu. Meats were tough, and I had to send my salmon back one night. I'm not a foodie, but I don't appreciate tasteless foods. Windjammer Buffet: Very lackluster with few options and mediocre offerings. Portofino: This is one of the "fine dining" options, with a $20 per person charge. We had great service, but the salad and pasta were just so-so. I had a terrific bistecca fiorentina and tiramasu for dessert. The restaurant is on deck 11, and deck 12 has an outdoor area near the teen center just above, so there is a lot of foot traffic that you hear throughout the meal. Snacks on the promenade: I appreciated this spot, where you can get coffee, sandwiches and desserts. Room service: Very prompt! We used it only for breakfast. Again, service was terrific everywhere, but the food needs help! I love that they serve Seattle's Best coffee. ENTERTAINMENT: The Mariner excelled in this area. We had the Drifters one night, a funny comedian, two big production shows, and a fantastic juggler, Ivan Pecel in the main theater. (I know that a juggler sounds lame, but he was hilarious and talented.) There were great musical options, including jazz and a Latin group, elsewhere on the ship. Be sure to catch the ice show-- stunning! The cruise staff also provided a lot of entertainment. Don't miss Quest! FITNESS/SPA: I worked out every day and appreciated the extensive range of cardio and weight machines. The hot tub right by the fitness room was convenient. It was also adjacent to the adults-only solarium area with two other hot tubs and a small pool. ITINERARY/PORTS: In Cabo, I booked the zodiac boat and snorkel trip. It was enjoyable, although the waters of Mexico aren't nearly as beautiful as Hawaii or the Caribbean. I stayed on the ship in Mazatlan, and enjoyed a quiet day. In Puerto Vallarta, I booked the zip line trip. It was awesome and a highlight of the week. DISEMBARCATION: Some of us remember when the last morning of a cruise seemed like reliving the voyage of the damned. No longer! We had a nice breakfast in the main dining room, and walked off the ship. Total time from our cabin to clearing customs-- 10 minutes! SUMMARY: The Mariner has something for everyone. Even with lots of activity on board, you can find quiet spots for reading or napping if that is what you prefer. The crew and staff should be proud of the job they do. If only they had better food... Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
In the last five months, I have traveled to Mexico on the Splendor three times. I wrote a fairly damning review of the early March cruise (published 3/12). After the second cruise, which I took solo (on the first, I had traveled with my ... Read More
In the last five months, I have traveled to Mexico on the Splendor three times. I wrote a fairly damning review of the early March cruise (published 3/12). After the second cruise, which I took solo (on the first, I had traveled with my BF), I didn't write a review although I was hoping that the second cruise would be an improvement over #1 and would merit a good review. As I write, it has been nearly a week since disembarkation from cruise #3. And I can write a positive review even though what disappoints about the Splendor remains disappointing. You may wonder why I would take a disappointing cruise a second--then a third--time. No, not a masochist. I needed to return to Puerto Vallarta on business (and I detest flying); and I wanted to see if�by mentally approaching the cruise from a different point of view�I could find a way to enjoy the Splendor. The motivation was similar for the third cruise but included another element (read on!). My mindset in returning was to find the BEST on the ship. The BEST of everything, and to avoid and ignore the rest. And this is my suggestion for anyone who reads this before boarding the Splendor. Figure out your priorities and choose carefully. I knew what I wanted: relaxation, music, and decent chow (forget about "cuisine). I wasn't there for spa treatments, so I have no comment except that I liked the thallosotherapy pool. Although life aboard the ship can be very chaotic (especially when 1,000 or more of the 3,000 guests are kids), relaxation is possible if you go to the 11th floor serenity (adults only) deck or hang out on your balcony (but I didn't have a balcony.) DINING On the second cruise, I had "Your Time Dining" and could dine anytime between 6:00 and 9:30 PM. However, I dined in the Black Pearl only twice. The food was mediocre at best-- except for the melting chocolate cake. I came to see the restaurant as all show, as a rich visual experience: the tablecloths, the fine china, the waiters in their tuxedos. The dishes described on the menus looked promising. However, the food was a joke! What was called "Short Ribs" and described as "tender beef braised in short rib style" was actually pot-roasted brisket (I like brisket OK, but why do they lie? Short ribs are "in" these days.) These "ribs" were to be served with fried rice. Fried rice? I requested a baked potato as a substitute, and I did get a lukewarm potato, but getting some sour cream proved a little more challenging. On the second formal evening, I tried the Black Pearl again. The menu advertised "chateaubriand." Ha! It was described as tender shoulder meat. Everyone knows chateaubriand is tenderloin; I wasn't about to fall into that trap. (The young woman seated at the table next to mine ordered it, took one bite, then pushed it aside.) I ordered a fish I had never heard of -Basa. I asked the waiter if it was related to sea bass; he said no, it was related to mahi-mahi. (Later research showed that it is a Vietnamese cousin of catfish.) I ordered it, and it was edible once I scraped off the thick tomato sauce. I began the meal with a Caesar salad. It was warm!--not just room temp, but warm! And there was no pepper mill to be seen. That was it for the restaurant. On the first cruise, I had discovered the lunch-time delicious tandoori grill aft of the Lido near the adult pool. So I had already figured out that Indian food would be my default meal of the day. The tandoori did not disappoint, nor did the deli sandwich maker, D.J. from Delhi (get it? The deli guy is from Delhi?). Made-to-order omelets in the mornings were good, although a bit overcooked, rubbery. So that was it for the food. Don't think you're on the Queen Mary 2. Find the things that work. (I had a hamburger at the grill one day, and it was pretty decent.) On the third cruise, I pared the food back even further. I had been given the 8:15 seating, and I don't eat that late, so I skipped the Black Pearl entirely. I went to the Lido buffet at odd hours when it was nearly empty, and I scavenged. I would make a salad of the non-changing salad bar ingredients and take it back to D.J at the deli to get a scoop of tuna salad added. Their salad dressings were obnoxious, but oil and vinegar were available. One day there was roast turkey; I got a couple of thin slices, then got 2 slices of whole wheat bread with mayo and lettuce from D.J. It was a delicious turkey sand. Improvisation. That worked. Gotta remember that. ENTERTAINMENT I have been on eleven cruises and have enjoyed some excellent music aboard ship. Finding the music is always my priority. There was the jazz quartet on an Alaska cruise on Princess; the jazz trio on the QM2 in Norway; the classical guitarist on Celebrity during the Scandi-caps cruise.... I don't usually like the main stage big production numbers, so I skip them unless everyone raves about them. The music I find is in the small bars or at the pool by the Lido or in the lobby by the grand piano. The Splendor has music everywhere, but some venues are better for listening to music than others. The Robusto cigar bar is huge, and there is nightly musical entertainment, but non-smokers will choke (and so will the musicians!). There is a small stage adjacent to the casino bar, but the casino allows smoking; there is seating on both sides of that stage, but no direct view of the musician(s). Instead, people promenading from one end of the ship saunter by, blocking any view of the entertainer from, say, the bar. Kids come racing by, teenagers gawk at the musician for a split second, then move on...and occasionally the moving sidewalk turns into a dance floor. An under-used venue is The Cool, which is a bar featuring portraits of Miles Davis. The lobby bar has a round dance floor�and no smoking. But enough about the venues! On to the music! On cruise #2, since I was avoiding smoking areas, I mostly listened to the reggae duo who were often at the main pool; these two young men were from Trinidad, and their stage name was Kolorz. One sang and played bongos, and the other played the synthesizer. They were very enjoyable and kept the folks by the pool dancing all day long during days at sea. Some of the main stage band played Dixieland on the first night in the lobby area; they were quite good. They were followed by a duo new to the ship: "Magic and Music." They played the favorites that people danced to. She (Merrylin) was a petite Asian woman who could belt out a Patsy Cline or Aretha song like nobody's business. Amazing. He (Rey) played the synth and sang Elvis songs, Sinatra songs�you name it. They were both very charming. There were two guitarists aboard, but I missed their performances due to the smoking problem. Almost. On the penultimate afternoon, I went to the lobby bar to see guitarist Lou. Turned out he played mainly blues on his Stratocaster�and he played really really well. When he took a break, I asked him about his guitar (being that I play a little guitar), and we struck up a musical conversation that we sometimes would pick up between his remaining sets (that afternoon and the following evening). His first set was instrumental, and during the second Lou sang [mainly] blues songs. He had a great voice for the blues; his guitar playing was captivating, and his singing was soulful. What a find! Lou told me about another guitar-playing singer aboard, Jeff. So, against my better judgment, that night I went to the Robusto cigar bar to hear some of Jeff's songs. Jeff played an Ovation acoustic guitar that filled the room with twang. He sang ballads, and he must have had a very long play list. (I figured this out on cruise #3, when I went to his performances as often as I could. On one afternoon a group of 10 teens plopped down in front of him on the promenade walkway by the casino and requested Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." I had not heard him sing any of Sir Elton's songs, but damn if he didn't render a very convincing version of that song.) Mostly he sang very mellow tunes to which his voice was perfectly matched�he had a gorgeous honey-toned voice. So I beat myself because it had taken me 5-plus days to discover the best music on the ship! The next (and last) evening, I took in all of Lou's four sets at the casino bar. I was hooked. Too bad he wasn't selling CDs of his music. (If the daily newsletter "Fun Times" had given a description of the music Lou and Jeff played�instead of merely saying "Guitar with Jeff" or "Variety Music with Lou" [what the heck is "variety music?], I would have braved the smoking venues from the git-go.) CRUISE THREE Well, I had more business to conduct in Vallarta, and I had planned to return in August, but I kept hearing music in my head. There was no reason to wait to take care of things in Vallarta, so four days after cruise #2, I booked a cruise departing the following Sunday. (There were only 2 cabins left!) (By the way, embarkation and disembarkation were awful on cruises 2 and 3. Maybe it's just me getting old and grumpy, but standing in line for two hours is not my idea of "swift embarkation".) It was funny arriving just a week after I had departed. A lot of wait staff, bartenders, cabin stewards, etc. recognized me immediately with question marks on their faces, and I grinned and said, "I missed you guys. What can I say?" The first musicians I saw were Kolorz. They greeted my return with big smiles. (I had written them a little poem when I had left and given them a small tip�sheesh! One could go broke tipping. I wanted to tip those who washed the floors as well as those with whom I had more direct contact. I cannot say enough about the generosity and attitude of the crew.) Later that night I braved the noxious fumes of the cigar bar to listen to Lou, whose music blew me away as before. And the next day, I found Jeff, playing out by the aft "adults" pool. Music is food for the soul, especially live music. I just wandered from venue to venue, loving every minute (of course, a glass of champagne here and there didn't hurt.) I didn't give much thought to dining at all. One could always find something to eat when hunger hit. We had only two port calls--Vallarta and Mazatlan�because the swells in Cabo were too dangerous for the tender-into-port process. So we had an extra day at sea�which meant more music! (After the captain announced the cancellation of Cabo, the musicians were all dispatched to the various venues; music would help save the day!) REVITALIZATION I guess it's a clichE to say that people cruise for different reasons�some want to party, some seek escape, others, relaxation. But beneath it all, I think what we need is revitalization. For each of us that probably means something different. The freedom I finally found by ignoring the dining room and its dress code, by subverting some of the ship's cattle-call rituals (for ex., I managed to avoid the muster), by doing what I wanted when I wanted helped me relax enough to enjoy the best of the ship's offerings. Since I was not on a schedule, had no plan (except to meet up with people in Vallarta), I could be open and spontaneous, and that made all the difference. I even danced by the pool with some of the daily reggae partiers (they were lots of fun). Being a solo traveler was not even slightly uncomfortable. I met a lot of really friendly people. All of this was revitalizing, but what I appreciate most is the music. (The down side is that one never knows where these musicians will be next...they don't have long-term contracts, and you can't call Carnival and find out if they are out there on some ship or another.) I can only hope that on the next voyage, I remember all that I have learned from these three cruises, relax, and find the music, and if I were to find Lou or Jeff or Kolorz, all the better.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
EMBARKATION My husband and I flew down on JetBlue (love that airline)the day before. We stayed at The Hilton in Long Beach. Great price $94, included a free shuttle for sightseeing and the trip to the ship the next day. We got to the ... Read More
EMBARKATION My husband and I flew down on JetBlue (love that airline)the day before. We stayed at The Hilton in Long Beach. Great price $94, included a free shuttle for sightseeing and the trip to the ship the next day. We got to the pier before 11:00 and was directed to the Queen Mary next door to do early registration. That was quick and painless. On the walk back to the ship I bought a straw hat. When we got their people were already checking in there. Should have waited the few minutes and just done it there, oh well. We were on the ship before noon. We had a late breakfast buffet at the hotel so we just sat up on the Lido deck and waited for my students and their parents to get on board. We must have been asked a gazillion times if we wanted a cocktail. We weren't ready for any, but did buy a wine package for dinner. I got 3 bottles for $58. Ended up in the Paris for some iced tea and ran into many from our group, including Robin from Dancin' At Sea. She's been escorting dance groups for 15 years and is FABULOUS. CABINS We had an ocean view on the Main Deck, real close to midship, loved the location. Not as big as our cabin on The Splendor last Thanksgiving, but for an older ship it was fine. The bed was comfy. Plenty of space for clothes. I was impressed by the size of the shower, bigger than most. Our cabin steward's name was Irish. Kept everything nice for us. Lots of ice all the time too. DINING The food was good, not great. Our waiter had our wine stolen from the area it was kept. She replaced it, I think she had to pay for that herself. She was great but the assistant waiter didn't always get our orders right. The french onion soup, baked mushrooms, short ribs and prawns were good. Didn't care for the Tilapia, blah. Chocolate Melting Cake, yummo. Our dancers 10 - 17 yr olds had fun getting up with the waiters and dancing each night. Pretty cool in the dinig room, bring a sweater. We ate breakfast in the dining room most every day. Eggs Benedict, very good. Didn't eat much in the buffet but had a Reuben from the deli and veggie pizza, both were good. OTHER STUFF Our dancers got to take a class from A.K. one of the Carnival dancers, she was a fabulous teacher, the kids loved her. We enjoyed the dancers and singers alot. The comedian, not so much. Our girls got to dance on the Main stage on Thursday afternoon, the house was packed. What an awesome experiance for our girls. The families liked the pools and the kids loved the slide. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
My best friend and I were all set to go to the Mexican Riviera on the Carnival Splendor, then she got ill, so I took my Mom and we had a blast! Mom had never cruised before and I had cruised only once with my husband 4 years ago on ... Read More
My best friend and I were all set to go to the Mexican Riviera on the Carnival Splendor, then she got ill, so I took my Mom and we had a blast! Mom had never cruised before and I had cruised only once with my husband 4 years ago on Norwegian (we did the Hawaiian islands 7-day cruise). We flew from Phoenix to Los Angeles and used our pre-paid transfer to get on a bus to take us to the dock at Long Beach. There was a professionally dressed person with a Carnival sign at the airport baggage claim to meet us and direct us over to the bus. When we arrived at the dock, 2 Carnival employees got on the bus to explain the luggage unloading procedure and to inform us that our luggage would be delivered to us later on the ship. This was all very helpful! And the bus driver and porters did a great job handling our luggage. We then proceeded to the port terminal to start the check in process (it was nice not having to tote our luggage along!) There was a security check (much like that in the airport) but the line moved quickly. We got up to the check-in counter and were given our sail-and-sign cards and proceeded to have our picture taken. Then, within less than 20 minutes, we were on board the ship! We went to our stateroom first to check it out and we were not disappointed! It was quite large (much larger than the room my husband and I had on NCL) with 2 twin beds, a couch, coffee table, and long dressing table along one wall with a long mirror. We stood on the balcony and watched sail boats out in the harbor then decided to go get something to eat since the Lido Deck buffet was open. Our first 2 days were spent sailing to Puerto Vallarta so we had lots of time to familiarize ourselves with the layout of the ship -- which is quite huge! I carried a map with us at all times! Our dinner time was "any time" which worked out great. We usually went around 6:30-7:00, but one night we went at 8:30pm. Monday night was the first elegant evening and we had a very nice dinner at the Black Pearl restaurant. We also went to Friday night's elegant evening. I was a little worried we weren't dressed up enough, but we were fine in casual dresses and pant suits. After dinner, we would go to the shows with the Splendor Dancers and Singers in the Spectacular Theater -- which were really quite spectacular! The seating is arranged in long benches which was very comfortable. The singers and dancers were awesome --easily rivaling any show in Vegas! We saw them 3 nights. Also, there was a comedian named Seth Buchwald on board Thursday and Friday. We saw him both nights and he was hilarious! I've never seen my Mom laugh so much! As for the food -- there are lots of choices at lunch time on the Lido deck. There is Indian food (which was my favorite), a grill, a Mongolian stir fry, a Rotisserie chicken place, pizza, deli, and others I'm sure I'm forgetting. Also, the buffet alone in general was quite good. However, on the last day of the trip, it seemed that some leftovers were being put out as "hash" or "mixed salads", etc. We had breakfast in the Gold Pearl restaurant on 2 occasions and it was very nice. The Splendor has an amazing spa on the top deck, although it was quite expensive. We did find a special on Tuesday where we got 3 services for $89 per person. This included a mini-facial, scalp and shoulder massage and foot massage. It was very relaxing and we saw dolphins out the window from our spa chairs! I would have liked to had a full-body massage but didn't want to spend $199. Oh well... The debarkation process on Sunday morning ran smoothly. We had set our luggage out the night before, so we had to wait a couple of hours on Sunday until our group was called. But we had a nice breakfast and sat in the Spectacular theater to wait. We then boarded a bus (using our transfer) and arrived at LAX within 1/2 an hour. Overall, we greatly enjoyed the trip! It was smooth sailing with very calm seas. One thing I'd like to point out though is that it was quite cold on the decks of the ship while sailing in open water, so I would recommend packing a jacket! We expected it would be hot, so we didn't have any warm clothing. We weren't alone, though, because after a while, many people were walking around in their bath robes outside to keep warm! It was hot and humid in the ports of call, but while on the ship, it was quite cold. It was also quite cold in the restaurants and theater as well. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
We arrived at the Carnival port by 11 a.m. (much earlier than we expected). Now I understand why Carnival calls to say don't arrive until 2 p.m. It sure was busy with departing guests when we arrived at 11 a.m. So we just found a ... Read More
We arrived at the Carnival port by 11 a.m. (much earlier than we expected). Now I understand why Carnival calls to say don't arrive until 2 p.m. It sure was busy with departing guests when we arrived at 11 a.m. So we just found a porter to drop off our check in luggage then drove back to downtown Long Beach to visit Walmart for a few last minute provisions and to drop off the rental car. We didn't want to go to the aquarium, and we didn't see much else to do in downtown Long Beach, so by 12:30 p.m. we were ready to try to head to the ship. We easily jumped on the free bus that dropped off at the Queen Mary - right next to the Splendor. At the port by about 1 p.m. there was an average amount of people trying to check in. We saw a fairly long line outside so stood in it. After a few minutes, a Carnival rep let us know that this line was for guests on decks 1 & 2 only. For our deck (7) we were directed to go inside the dome to check in. There was no line at all for the dome security check in. The line inside the dome to check in for your keycard was fairly long. We probably stood in line about 30 minutes. It is fun to people watch at this point. We were on board the Splendor by 1:45 p.m. and by the time we walked through the pink lobby area and found our way to our deck, the rooms were open for us. We had 2 aft balconies on deck 7. The rooms were as expected. However, what was nice was that the ship appeared newer and cleaner than any other ship we have been on in the past. When we saw our room steward later that afternoon, we asked him to take down the partition between the 2 connecting balconies and for a lounge chair. At booking, our PVP said that the partition between the balconies totally opened up to make an extra large balcony. This was not the case. A door opened, but the main partition was still there. For a late and light lunch, we headed to the Lido buffet. My husband and son had the rotisserie. They said it was "okay" but not as good as they expected. My daughter and I had the Mongolian stirfry and it was awesome. It was well worth the wait. We had early seating dinner at a booth table for 4 in the aft dining room. Our waiter and assistant were very nice. However, they were always extremely busy and we didn't have the chance to develop the relationship with them that we have with previous waiters. We were shocked at how busy they always seemed and in a rush. Perhaps it is due to this ship being bigger than any other one we have been on. More guests means more people to rush through the dining room I guess. We knew this Carnival menu, as it was the same as the one we had on the Victory 7 months ago. What surprised us was that the same menu could be made or presented differently on this ship. I enjoy fruit and salads. I found the salads to be lacking and the fruit was mainly chunked, rather than displayed in fancy fan shapes as it was consistently on the Victory. The crème Brule was runny and the Grand Marnier soufflE tasted like egg beaters. Our waiter also got our orders wrong on at least 3 or 4 occasions. Once again, perhaps this was because of the larger number of guests on this ship. We also found the dining room very loud. We wanted an entertaining and relaxing dining experience, but instead we felt that this ship was more canteen "rush them in and loud talking" style. There was a large family sitting at 3 or 4 large tables in the middle of the room, and their loud talking seemed to take over the dining room each night. But, they have the right to have fun and experience their cruise and dining experience the way they want to, so we shouldn't (and didn't) complain or be upset by it. It was just different than other cruises we have been on. In fact, we found the whole cruise to be a bit louder and more party style than previous Carnival cruises. I have always defended Carnival in the past, arguing against people who say they don't go on Carnival because it is too much of a party ship. We did not experience that with our 2 previous Carnival cruises. However, this cruise was a bit more rowdier than is my family's style. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the sea days on the Splendor more so than other cruises we have been on. I think it is partly due to the large size, newness, and cleanliness of the fabulous Splendor. My husband and son enjoyed all the activities, while my daughter and I enjoyed spa treatments and lazy days reading in the fresh air. Our room steward was able to squeeze one lounge chair onto our balcony, so I enjoyed sitting out there or on the cushiony chairs on the adult only, Serenity deck. My daughter and I even saw 3 small whales on Tuesday afternoon. And we quickly lost count of the number of dolphins and flying fish that we saw. The Splendor also pleasantly surprised me about how little motion I felt, even with an aft balcony room. I suffer horribly from seasickness but never experienced it once on this cruise. Was it the size of the ship or did we just luck out with smooth seas? I took one bonine pill before dinner each evening, and I was fine. The weather was very cool on Sunday evening and most of the day Monday. But by Tuesday it had warmed up enough to sit out in the sun and even get a slight sunburn. We enjoyed seeing Cabo off in the distance as we passed by it on Tuesday afternoon. By Wednesday, the weather was quite warm and humid and a few rain showers greeted us in Puerto Vallarta. Disembarkment was very easy on Sunday morning. Even with a late flight, we were off the ship by 10 a.m. and had picked up our rental car by 10:30 a.m. We enjoyed the cruise for its value for money and relaxing qualities. We were impressed by the ship and the service. The food and the rowdiness of some of the guests disappointed us in comparison to other Carnival cruises we have been on. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
My wife and I embarked on our second Carnival cruise and fourth cruise together overall, the other two being on Royal. To be honest, we went in with low expectations for this cruise mainly due to horror stories we have heard about ... Read More
My wife and I embarked on our second Carnival cruise and fourth cruise together overall, the other two being on Royal. To be honest, we went in with low expectations for this cruise mainly due to horror stories we have heard about debarking from Galveston but also due to our previous experience with Carnival which had been somewhat underwhelming. We really enjoy newer boats with the new bells and whistles. I write that to set up the fact that we were genuinely impressed with the Ecstasy. The ship had plenty of activities, a great cruise director, an awesome slide in the 'Waterworks' section, a tranquil aft adults only Serenity section, a more than adequate fitness area, good food, and wonderful service. Considering this boat was 30,000 tons smaller than the next smallest ship we had sailed on, we couldn't believe the amenities that they managed to pack in. The only way that we could tell the ship ran out of room so to speak is that it only had one pool which was extremely crowded on sea days. We were still able to get a chair near the pool when we wanted however and enjoyed our days sitting beside. The water slide made me feel ten years younger since it afforded me an easy opportunity to interact with my two nephews. It is a large enclosed slide that offered hours of fun. The food was much better than our previous Carnival cruise and in general was better than we were expecting. On the last day my wife ordered a vegetarian Indian dish that was our absolute favorite dish on the cruise. Other meals included cruise standards such as lobster, various styles of steak, escargot, etc. The pizza on this cruise was the best of the four that we have been on. Another big surprise for us were the lines which always seemed to be under control and I never felt like I waited more than a few minutes for anything. The casino is smaller than most while still offering plenty of gaming options. A word for the Carnival and those who follow the odds, I will not be using Carnival Casinos again until they cease using automatic continuous shuffling machines at the blackjack tables. As far as shows are concerned we went to the Quest show and enjoyed it immensely as it is a Carnival tradition. We went to only one of the 'revue' shows and only set through half of it. That style of entertainment is not really our thing. The cruise director Steve did play a mean fiddle in the show that we went to which made the show worth it and he is the first cruise director that I ever had that made me regret missing the debarkation talk as he was apparently hilarious in it (according to my family). Our only real complaint about the cruise had nothing to do with the ship or Carnival at all and that is that debarkation in Galveston is a total nightmare. Our biggest tip is to use the porters as you enter the customs area as they let you bypass a line and can eliminate more than thirty minutes of waiting. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
In June 2010, I decided to take a week-long cruise. The four I'd done previously were all on Disney Cruise Lines (Bahamas and Mexican Riviera), but my budgetary restrictions this time around demanded that I take a closer look at a ... Read More
In June 2010, I decided to take a week-long cruise. The four I'd done previously were all on Disney Cruise Lines (Bahamas and Mexican Riviera), but my budgetary restrictions this time around demanded that I take a closer look at a cheaper vacation. Booking through Expedia.com scarcely two weeks prior to sailing, I opted for the least expensive option: a Carnival cruise to the Mexican Riviera embarking from Southern California, where I currently live. Much of what was offered or available on the Splendor mirrored my very positive Disney Mexican Riviera experience of May 2008: fun shore excursions, poolside relaxation, bingo games, trivia challenges, shopping opportunities—and, of course, mountains of food. Anybody reading this already knows that these cruises are veritable gorge-fests, and Carnival is no different. However, I was delighted to discover that while Disney is tops at creating fun dining environments, the actual food on Carnival is appreciably better, or at least appealed to me a lot more. Both lines offer lowbrow, midrange and upscale eating establishments, and while nothing beats Disney's Palo (fine Italian) restaurant, I was massively impressed by the menu, cuisine and service at Carnival's Pinnacle steakhouse. Generally speaking, I was also very impressed by the service and friendliness of the crew onboard the Splendor. Waiters, housekeepers and maintenance staffers were a great blend of people from the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia (largely Bali), with a smaller percentage from India, Serbia, Croatia, etc. I greatly enjoyed the opportunity of interacting with staff members and hearing their stories of their many cruises. Cleanliness and upkeep was truly outstanding. Although not a fan of Carnival's main variety shows (see below), I was enormously entertained by the nightly performances of cabaret pianist/comedian Ron Pass, who typically played four- and five-hour shows without a break to the delight of the 40-70 patrons who faithfully attended his hilarious act. Drawing from a repertoire of perhaps 1,000 popular songs (ranging from standards and show tunes to classic rock and the odd country and alternative tune), Ron is an extremely charismatic performer whose charm had attracted a regular following, all eager to submit their requests for a favorite tune from yesteryear and sing along to his always colorful—and sometimes bawdily embellished—covers. The ports of call are never my chief reasons for cruising, but I should probably mention that the staff of the Splendor did an efficient job of getting its passengers on and off the ship (both by gangway and tender) and the tour groups they have contracted with for shore excursions were all perfectly fine. I should also mention that Carnival's photographers did a truly outstanding job of offering numerous opportunities for candids and portraits, and while photos were on the pricey side, they seemed to be less expensive than on the Disney ships. My stateroom, a class 4J, was all the way at the front of the ship on Deck 7, in a corner configuration (port side). I never got to see how my neighbors' rooms were laid out, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the amount of room on what must have been a low-cost alternative, and my bathroom was nearly twice as large as the bathroom in my studio apartment, featuring a tubless, open shower with a curtain and only slatted drains and a slightly sloped floor dividing the toilet and shower areas. I couldn't have been happier with my room. Let's move on to some areas in need of improvement, or that provoked feelings of disappointment. My travel agent had been candid about what I could expect from a Carnival cruise after four sailings on Disney, but one important aspect he neglected to mention was that Carnival allows smoking in many of its onboard areas, such as the casinos, lounges and the aforementioned piano bar. As a passionate nonsmoker, this proved to be the one glaringly bad aspect of the vacation. I can halfway understand a ship turning a blind eye to the obvious fire hazard in order to appeal to the large smoking population, but it is unforgivable to expect its nonsmoking travelers to have to pass through these foul areas simply to walk somewhere else. One example of this is the computer/internet room, which is tucked away at a far corner of the Robusto Cigar Bar, a disgustingly smoky room for people who love to puff away in the comfort of a swanky lounge. It also strikes me as unfair not only to expect music lovers to have to breathe secondhand smoke at the piano bar, but the performers themselves. When I cruise again, Disney will have the automatic edge for not allowing smokers to light up inside public areas. Disney's ships had spoiled me in three other important ways. The first of these is the free soda. Although you can grab lemonade or iced tea at no extra charge on the Splendor, you'll pay for cans of soda (there are no soda fountains on the ship at all). I paid about $55 for a sticker on my key-card that entitled me to cans of soda, but this proved an annoyance at lunch because the buffets aren't close to any bars where sodas are available. After seeing a bit of one of the variety shows offered in the Splendor's largeish Spectacular theatre, it's clear that I had been spoiled by the lavish, Broadway-caliber shows on the Disney ships. Several of my fellow passengers also expressed that they were bored or equally baffled by these variety shows. All I can say is, thank God that Ron Pass was on the ship doing his cabaret act, or I'd probably have been very bored at night. Finally, I'll repeat a complaint many vocalized to me aboard the Splendor. Initially, I was extremely confused trying to find my way around on the Splendor, because you are unable to simply able to walk from bow to stern on any given deck (the way you can on the Disney ships). Take an elevator from Deck 9 down to Deck 3, and you're liable to find yourself facing a staircase, a closed restaurant and a wall. That's because Splendor's two main dinner restaurants (Black Pearl and Golden Pearl) occupy so much space in the middle of the ship that they block potential walkways on two of the decks, meaning that you often have to go up, across and down again to get from Point A to Point B. It does take a bit of studying and a couple of days to get used to the layout of the ship, and I wish I'd been briefed about this before going aboard. Overall, I give Carnival very high marks, largely on the basis of the competence and friendliness of the crew, and the excellent food service. This would have been an absolutely perfect cruise with free sodas and no smoking. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We have cruised twice on Princess and were very happy with both those trips. We booked Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas because we wanted a warm weather cruise to celebrate our son's graduation from high school. Our choices ... Read More
We have cruised twice on Princess and were very happy with both those trips. We booked Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas because we wanted a warm weather cruise to celebrate our son's graduation from high school. Our choices for a West Coast warm weather cruise were only Carnival and RCCL. RCCL seemed the better choice for a family cruise and we were not disappointed. Pre-cruise: We flew into Long Beach from Portland via JetBlue on Saturday the 12th. It was an easy flight and a short cab ride ($23 negotiated rate) from the Long Beach airport to the Hyatt Hotel. We had an early flight and were there by 10:30 a.m. They allowed us to check in early, which was really nice. The Hyatt is on the harbor across the street from Shoreline Village. We had a huge lunch at the Yard Arm, took pictures of the Queen Mary, poked through the shops, spent some time at the pool and then ate dinner at PF Changs across the street; all in all, very nice. The Hyatt is a little on the spendy side but I would definitely do it again. Embarkation: We timed our arrival at the cruise terminal for right around noon. Again, an easy cab ride from downtown Long Beach. We found a porter immediately and shifted off our bags to be seen later. I was walking with a cane due to an unfortunate incident of clumsiness involving our stairs which resulted in a very badly sprained ankle. We were not thinking of taking advantage of assisted boarding, but a RCCL employee directed us to that check-in desk. Again, a very fast process and we were on the elevator and in line to board. Lines were short, we were photographed for our SeaPass cards, had our obligatory ship photo and walked onto the Deck 4 level of the Promenade. The look on our kids' faces was priceless, and they should have been awed. The Mariner is a lovely ship and the three level Promenade is very impressive. Cabin: We had two cabins on Deck 9 - mid-ship. My husband and I had a Junior Suite and the kids were in an Inside cabin directly across the hall. First, points to Royal over Princess on the Junior Suite - I haven't compared the square footage, but the overall layout made the cabin seem much larger than our Junior Suite on the Golden Princess. There was a lot of storage and a very nice walk-in closet. The bathroom was small but efficient with some storage in the mirrored medicine cabinet. One minus was the lack of an accessible outlet, there were two on the vanity in the main part of the cabin. The basic toiletries were provided (lotion, shampoo, conditioner, soap) plus there was a soap dispenser on the wall in the shower. I didn't like having to fight the shower curtain however. For us, and this is a purely personal preference, we preferred the open balcony on Princess. The balcony on the Mariner was fully covered and narrow. It felt a little closed in - not that the size or covering interfered at all with our enjoyment, we just preferred the more open feeling on the Princess balconies. The Inside cabin seemed efficiently laid out with enough storage for both kids' things. They loved that it was so dark - made it easier to sleep until noon. The Ship: The Mariner of the Seas is an absolutely lovely ship. The finishes are gorgeous and as I said the Promenade is very impressive. That being said, I think we preferred Princess just slightly as their Promenade levels feel a little more open to the ocean, there are more windows with views outside and the actual Promenade exterior deck seems to be more conducive to walking around the ship. Again, this is purely a personal preference and not to say that the Mariner is superior or inferior to the two Princess ships we have been on. I will have to give points to Princess for the pool situation. The two smaller salt-water pools on the Mariner were always crowded and there didn't seem to be a pool where one could get away from the hustle and bustle, other than the Solarium which also was very small. On the Golden and Sapphire Princess there are two large pools, one that can be covered in inclement weather, their version of the Solarium plus the wonderfully quiet aft pool. Princess also gets a point for better lounge chairs. Checking out the towels was a minimal hassle, but it was nice on Princess to just have clean pool towels left in your cabin. Maybe this was just me being directionally challenged, but I was constantly confused as to whether I was aft or forward, port or starboard when I was trying to make my way back to our cabins. Princess has one color carpet for port and one for starboard which helps eliminate that confusion. I finally did kind of get it down and knew if I walked past the "hot wheel" cars on the wall I was going the right way. As on any ship we've been on, it didn't take us long to find our "spots" and on the Mariner it was the Skybar on Deck 12, where Elmer and Dennis made life fun. What great representatives for RCCL! It was also a good spot to watch the action around the pool and see if we could catch a glimpse of our kids who were so busy we almost never saw them! Our other favorite haunt was Vintages. We wandered in there one evening for a pre-dinner glass of wine and Emmanuel gave us a tasting and lesson on some of the wines available. He was a delight as was Amale (I think) who was from South Africa and their compatriot from the Philippines whose name I have lost. They were all so very friendly, funny and gracious. After the first couple of days as soon as we sat down they poured our wine of choice and out came a small plate of cheese and grapes, such a nice touch. Several nights we stopped there on our way to dinner and picked up a bottle of wine to have with our meal. On the last night they conducted a wine tasting that was very well done and informative. One evening we wandered up to Deck 14 and Ellingtons which has a lovely view over the pools facing forward. Unfortunately, there is also a very annoying vibration which makes it quite unpleasant to linger for long. Too bad, it could have been quite the spot for that final nightcap. Dining: We opted for My Time Dining and had a standing reservation in the Sound of Music dining room for 7:15 p.m. The only night we had to wait at all - and then only for about 10 minutes was the second formal night. We had the same two servers, Vivian and Benhuer 5 out of the 7 nights and they were absolutely wonderful. RCCL outscores Princess in the actual physical layout of their dining rooms. What a beautiful space, so large and airy. We were fortunate to be seated in a section very close to the floor to ceiling windows and a couple of nights, right next to those windows. It really made for a special atmosphere. Most mornings we used room service or the Promenade Cafe for breakfast and Windjammer for lunch. I have to give points to RCCL over Princess on their buffet restaurant. The layout seemed better than the Horizon Court on Princess, the choices more varied and the service better. We are not big fans of buffets in any setting but did use this for lunch most days. One afternoon we met up with the kids at Johnny Rockets and that was a hoot! I don't think I would do it more than once, I mean, how many times can you listen to Stayin Alive (even if you are from that era). The food quality overall was fine, there wasn't one thing that I found outstanding but other than the lamb one night - everything was fine to good, and the lamb was more my fault - just didn't care for the taste - than the dining rooms. For those that are interested, soft-serve ice cream was available in the afternoons and as indicated in other reviews, sandwiches, pastries and pizza (I have to give points to Princess on the pizza - it is much better) was available throughout the day at the Promenade Cafe. Two mornings we had breakfast in the dining room and it was good. My husband especially liked the Salmon Benedict. Oh and RCCL really outscores Princess on the coffee - very good, unlike that horrid stuff they serve on Princess. Service: RCCL and the Mariner outscore Princess and both ships we have been on with them. From the moment we boarded until we left the ship, the service was outstanding to absolutely stellar! Bar staff, serving staff, waiters, guest services - everyone we met was friendly, professional and all about making sure we were having a great cruise. Setho was our cabin steward and he was good and professional. We did get a couple of towel animals (our first!) and they were cute. Having them would not be a make it/break it for us on a cruise - but they did bring a smile to our faces when we came back from dinner. Excursions: We had two excursions booked, one independently and one through RCCL. In Mazatlan we booked Randi's Happy Horses which had come highly recommended through these boards. It was by far our favorite excursion/time on the whole cruise. Stone Island has a beautiful beach that goes on forever, Randi's staff is friendly and competent and Randi herself is quite the character, warm, funny and full of interesting stories. We had a great ride and wonderfully relaxing lunch at Victor's afterward. I add my high recommendation for her to the others that have been put forward. We debated long and hard about whether to swim with the dolphins in Cabo or in Puerto Vallarta. Because my husband and I had done this excursion through Princess at Vallarta Adventures last December and had such a tremendous time, we opted to repeat it this time with our kids. What an absolute disappointment. Even though much of the staff was the same it was certainly not the same experience. There was a lot of waiting around, the "intro" was all about getting us to be "revved up" and not at all informative. When we finally got into the water, instead of being allowed to bob around and have the dolphins swim around us (which we were able to do in December). It was very much, line up, OK - now it is your turn to get the photo-op dolphin kiss, hug, dance. OK - line up again, now you get to be pulled by the dolphin, OK line up - now the dolphins are going to give you a show. OK - now get out of the water. You never got the sense of what wonderful creatures these are, instead it was a feeling of being herded along and then sold over-priced pictures. Too bad, really too bad and doubly disappointing because it is so expensive. Passenger Mix: There was every age level and everything from strollers to scooters on board. There were a lot of kids, but that is too be expected as it was a summer cruise. They didn't seem to be a problem and we never experienced any of the horror stories I've read about. The only time the kid factor felt a little overwhelming was at the pool on sea days. My son was old enough not to be in the "teen programs" but did attend a couple of 18-20 year old functions in the Dragon's Lair. He rapidly found a group of like-minded/like-aged young people and we only saw him around the pool or at dinner. My 14 year old daughter also found a group and they spent their time hanging in the Living Room or in the hot tubs. We never saw her either....so, it might not have been quite the family bonding cruise I envisioned but they had a great time. Disembarkation: We had a noon flight out of Long Beach so I requested to be one of the first groups off. We reported to the Savoy Theater about 8:30 and were at the airport by 9:45 a.m. It was very, very smooth and the RCCL staff did another great job. The only problem we encountered was trying to flag down a porter for our luggage, they were all getting snagged before we could get to them, so we just schlepped our bags through customs ourselves and found a cab immediately. Well done RCCL. Final Thoughts: I know I haven't addressed the shows or the cruise director staff, but those are not things we tend to utilize on a cruise. The Casino was fine, we won some and then lost it back. It didn't seem too smoky, but being married to a smoker I don't really notice unless the smoke is really bad. It was a great cruise and the Mariner is a beautiful ship. That being said, I think we would still tend toward Princess and the most overwhelming reason is our feeling that you are somehow more connected to the ocean on their ships. Also, the Mariner was just a little too big for us. The other negative with RCCL is their alcohol policy. Not even so much that we couldn't take on our own wine, like we can on Princess, but how hard they made it have wine/drinks in our cabin. We cruise for our balcony, it is that simple and we like to sit out there and have a drink or two (or three). On Princess we can order (and pay for) a bar set-up for our cabin anytime and as many times as we would like. Wine is easily accessible from room service. Now, it isn't a big deal to have to leave the cabin and go up or down to order a Vodka Tonic from one of the bars, or go down to Vintages and get a couple of pre-dinner/getting ready glasses of wine - but being able to have that in your room without having to go out is much more convenient. Would we consider an RCCL cruise again if the price and itinerary were right - absolutely, but I don't think it will be our first choice, but isn't that the great thing about cruising there is a line, an itinerary, a cabin and activities for everybody. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We have only sailed the Caribbean and Bermuda. I guess we were expecting warm weather because, after all, it was June. Got to Long Beach on Saturday and stayed at the Hilton. It was a beautiful hotel, and Long Beach is a fun place to ... Read More
We have only sailed the Caribbean and Bermuda. I guess we were expecting warm weather because, after all, it was June. Got to Long Beach on Saturday and stayed at the Hilton. It was a beautiful hotel, and Long Beach is a fun place to visit. On Sunday morning the Hilton took us to the port around 11:30. We only had to wait until about 12:15 to get on. It was a sunny day and we sat and watched the boats. When we got on board we ate a nice lunch and then changed to go to the aft pool. It is an "adults only" pool, and the water was heated. It was very nice because it was only about 70 in Long Beach. We left about 5:00. The further we got away from the port the colder it got. We were totally unprepared for the cold weather. The next day it was even colder and cloudier. I don't think it got to 61 that day. After we left the port, the water in the aft pool was cold. I went to the spa the first day, and it was first class. I had a hot stone massage and loved every minute of it. We were on board for two and half days. The weather was not nice which was not Carnival's fault. Unfortunately, I was surprised at how little there was to do on board on sea days especially with the bad weather. Arrived in Puerta Vallarta on Wednesday. The weather was warmer. We arranged for a very nice excursion on our own. We did the Los Verranos Canopy Zipline. It was great and took us most of the day.I recommend this. We left there around 10 at night, but we had already come back to the ship because we didn't want to miss dinner at 8:15. On Thursday we got to Mazatlan and also went on an excursion on our own. Mazatlan Frank gave us a 4 hour tour of the city. He was wonderful, and I recommend him highly. He dropped us off at Tony's on the Beach where we ate a delicious lunch. We walked to the Golden Zone (long walk), but worked our lunch off. Then we took a pulmonia back to the ship. The next day we were at Cabo. You have to tender in Cabo so we decided to do a Carnival excursion to save time. We kayaked and snorkeled. It was a nice day, but they dropped us far away from the ship. We had to walk and didn't have much time. When we got back to the ship the line to go back was horrendous. We just sat at a bar and had a beer to wait. We were supposed to be back on at 2:00. We didn't even get back in line until 3:15. Cabo is a great port, and we felt that we just didn't have enough time there. We had too much time in Puerta Vallarta and not enough time in Cabo. It was once again cold and cloudy on our last day at sea. Once again they didn't have enough to do to entertain everyone inside. We arrived back on Long beach on Sunday. It was still cold and cloudy. We did self assist. We walked off at 8:10. It hardly took us any time at all. Relaxing trip but the weather was too cold and not enough to do. Splendor is a beautiful ship. The food is wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Keep in mind that my husband and I are in our 30's and we have a 9 and an 11 year old. I will try to keep this short.... FOOD...honestly, nothing to write home about. I had steak two nights in the dining room, one night is was great ... Read More
Keep in mind that my husband and I are in our 30's and we have a 9 and an 11 year old. I will try to keep this short.... FOOD...honestly, nothing to write home about. I had steak two nights in the dining room, one night is was great and one night it was way overcooked. My husband has ribs one night that he said tasted "old". The Caesar salad and fried shrimp were great and so was the chocolate cake. Tiffany's on deck is just traditional "greasy" food including burgers, fries, and chicken tenders which tasted fine. The deli inside had great deli wraps. The 24 hour pizza bar was a little bland for our taste. Desserts were not that good, but the ice cream was good. CAMP CARNIVAL.....was very good. My kids picked what things they wanted to attend such as towel folding, magic show, and the All Night Party which they loved! The folks in charge were very nice, but a little slow. Be patient when checking your kids in and out. BOOZE.....You can carry on two bottles of wine, but I took on one 5 liter box of wine in my carry on luggage. No one even checked my luggage when boarding. Also, we carried vodka in a wine bladder which is like a Rum Runner in our checked luggage. It made it to our room just fine. Of course, this saved us quite a bit of money. We still bought drinks out and they tasted great. The service was pretty good, too. ENTERTAINMENT....We only attended one show which was "Las Vegas" type dancers which was okay. We did leave a little early. I heard that the comedy show was funny, but we didn't attend. The Marriage show was really funny and so was the Friendly Feud game. Bean Bag Toss was fun since all four of us played. My daughter participated in the Country Line Dance and Thriller Dance Classes and got to see herself on the room TV. You could even buy the video they last day on board. The Piano Bar had to be our favorite (other than all of the LOUD Alabama fans). PORT ~ COZYMEL.....We just took a cab to Mr. Sancho's Restaurant/Bar which is right on the beach. We paid for my husband and I $100 for all you can eat and all you can drink (alcohol included) for the day. We just paid for the kids as we went and think we spend $21 on them. If you don't drink alcohol then don't go with the $50 package. Note that the sand here is very BIG and is very annoying when cleaning up. I didn't know if we would ever get the kids cleaned up to go back to the ship. The seaweed was really bad the day that we went, but that could have been because of Hurricane Alex. The folks at Mr. Sancho's took really good care of us and we had a great time. Make sure you carry lots of sunscreen!!! If I had it to do over, I may have shopped in Cozumel and played at the beach at Playa de Carmen. PORT ~ CALICA......We were so sunburned from Cozumel that we decided to just do some shopping in Playa de Carmen. We took a cab to Playa de Carmen to do some shopping which cost $13 each way. We asked the cab driver about some Mayan Ruins and for an extra fee he took us to some private ruins in Playa de Carmen right along the beach for $20. Don't know that you would ever get this lucky, but I am sure glad that we did!! It was great and we got to see two iguanas up close while there and getting a full history lesson. While shopping there, be ready for people to get your attention and bargain with them! My kids had fun getting everyone down on their prices. I thought that it was a neat little row to shop down with lots of places to stop and get a drink. We were back on the boat for lunch. POOLS..........The pools are small. Don't go thinking you are going to hang out in the pool all day. On Fun Day at Sea days, it seems like everyone is on the Lido Deck wanting to swim. The first Sea Day, we couldn't get a chair and didn't even attempt it the second sea day. I do recommend packing a swimsuit in your carry on so the first day you can swim early. There is few people at the pool on the day you get on the ship. My kids swam and went down the slide on the day we boarded and on Port Calica day while there were few on ship. Also, note that the pool is sea salty water. STEWARDS....are super nice. They filled our cooler up every day without even asking. My kids told them thanks many times for the towel animals and we tipped him extra money early in the week. They were great! CABIN.....was bigger than I thought it would be. We had a king size bed and two bunk beds. Linens were comfortable and shower had great pressure! We had an ocean view window which I recommend if you have kids. It kept our entertained while waiting for different things throughout the cruise. Plenty of storage space and life jackets are in your room. COMPLAINT.....There was an Alabama (Roll Tide Roll) Booster Convention going on during our cruise. We are huge Tennessee Vols fans, so this really sucked for us! We were so tired of hearing Sweet Home Alabama and Roll Tide Roll that we could scream. I would have like to have know about this convention ahead of time; however, I wasn't. I will call next time to ask what type of convention is being held on our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Let me begin by saying that I am a Diamond member and have sailed, almost exclusively with Royal Caribbean. This was our first cruise on the Mariner, and to the Mexican Riviera. The rest of our cruises have been in the Caribbean, including ... Read More
Let me begin by saying that I am a Diamond member and have sailed, almost exclusively with Royal Caribbean. This was our first cruise on the Mariner, and to the Mexican Riviera. The rest of our cruises have been in the Caribbean, including a nice cruise to the Panama Canal. A few observations and words of advise to others taking this cruise/route for the first time: WEATHER--so, to be honest--I read many reviews about the sea days being cold, but attributed that to the time of year--most of the reviews I was reading were cruises in March and April. I have cruised in the Caribbean in March and April, and sea days can be "cool". We were scheduled to cruise at the end of June on Mariner, so I packed a "light" sweatshirt in anticipation of maybe a 70-75 degree sea day.....I was hardly prepared....60's and WINDY for the first sea day, second sea day started in the upper 70's but dropped to the 60's by afternoon, last sea day was cloudy and in the 50's. There was literally no one on outer decks. If you are a sun worshiper looking for warm weather for 7 days, this is not the cruise for you. Even the Solarium was cold--spent $120 on heavy sweatshirts at the gift shop. Live and learn. I did have a conversation with one of the waiters, and he said sea days are almost always cold on this cruise, regardless of time of year. Hmmmm, wish I had known that, since I live in Chicago, and I prefer to take vacations to warm climates. Hence the reason I have not yet done an Alaskan Cruise.... EMBARKATION/DEBARKATION-I have always found this to be quick and painless on Royal Caribbean. Have always boarded early. Waited awhile for luggage though this time. We have early seating and have almost always had our bags before dinner. Not this time, but that actually forced me to attend the sail away party, instead of unpacking first!!! SERVICE-I have always found the service to be very good on RCCL. Although it is apparent over the years that cost cutting measures have impacted the quality of service. Alot of the dining waitstaff and cabin attendants seemed very rushed (and perhaps overworked). Exception to this was the bar service, and in particular the pool area. Seemed they had about 20 waiters on decks at any given time (with the exception of the last sea day ;o( --the sole pool bartender was wearing a parka and ski cap!) Speaking of the pool, don't forget to turn in your pool towels, or they will wind up on your ship charge, and you will have to wait in a very long line on disembarkation day trying to get the charges reversed. I wish they would just go back to the old gold towels and the honor system of returning them. Now the towels have a RCCL logo, but they are certainly not worth $20 each.... As my husband and I are Diamond members, we have always enjoyed access to the concierge club, although we rarely used it for anything other than getting a cup of coffee in the morning. This is now restrcited to Diamond Plus and Suite members. Not a big deal, but it would seem they have moved to a system of rewarding those who spend more rather than based on a loyalty system. PORTS-Only did one excursion in Puerto Vallarta. The Dolphin Encounter. while it was expensive, it was an amazing experience! My ten year old daughter is still talking about it. As always tours are well organized through RCCL, and transportation is efficient. In closing, we enjoyed this cruise, primarily because we traveled with a large group of great friends, however we didn't enjoy the drastic climate changes on this cruise. Back the the Caribbean for us next time!!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
This ship, while older has many updated features, from the floors, art, to the bathrooms. We sailed out of Galveston, TX in a balcony cabin. This was our first cruise, our honeymoon, upon boarding the confusion started. The cruise line is ... Read More
This ship, while older has many updated features, from the floors, art, to the bathrooms. We sailed out of Galveston, TX in a balcony cabin. This was our first cruise, our honeymoon, upon boarding the confusion started. The cruise line is not very good at giving instructions on how to board and how to find ones cabin. After about 30 minutes of wandering around we finally found our room and we were pleasently surprised to find the room so clean and with ample storage space, we were able to hang all of our clothes and put things away before the ship left the port. The balcony was worth the extra money, the time spent with each other watching the ocean sail by, and at times dolphins playing was wonderful! Room service was fast, however the food is not as good as expected, the coffee is bitter, and the smoked salmon is thick and not cold. Most of the food will be served at room temperature everywhere on board, even in the fine dining. The waiter in the Windsong was AMAZING he made sure we were full and ate plenty! The room steward was great and the service all over the ship was wonderful. Tipping a few extra dollars goes a long way also. The casino will eat ones money, the shopping trip talks are just a scam to get one to shop in certain stores, the game shows and comedies are WONDERFUL! Overall we will be going back again. There is indeed something for everyone, and time without cell phones allows reconnection on whole new levels. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We left Utah at 5:00am for the 10 hour drive to Long Beach. We made a stop in Las Vegas for lunch and hit the road again. We spent 2 day prior to the cruise in Long Beach at the Super 8. We got a good deal on the room. The Super 8 has ... Read More
We left Utah at 5:00am for the 10 hour drive to Long Beach. We made a stop in Las Vegas for lunch and hit the road again. We spent 2 day prior to the cruise in Long Beach at the Super 8. We got a good deal on the room. The Super 8 has it's good points and it not so good points. We paid $146 for both nights. We had a large room with 2 king beds. The motel is a little older. The good points are--the staff is wonderful, free breakfast, afternoon snacks with soda and wine, and a nice size pool with a really hot hot tub. The room we got, which was room 101 was under the lobby, so it was at little loud late into the night, the hotel is on a main room. We could here the cars when we were at the pool but didn't notice the noise from the cars in the room. Would I stay here again??? Yes. The price was right and the breakfast had a lot of choices and it was free. We spent one day in Long Beach at the Aquarium and Seaport Village. Sunday we boarded the ship around 12:30pm we had zone 1. The ship is the largest boat we had been on. The layout is a little different than the two previous cruises on the fantasy class ship. The kids(ages 12 and 13) had it figured out on the first day. I was comfortable by day 3 but still had times when we did a lot of back tracking. We were in the golden pearl dining room on the bottom and you had to go up to go down to get the the entrance. Other than that it is fairly easy to get around. Our cabin was a balcony cabin. We had cabin for 4, an upper, couch/bed and the king. It was not as cramped as I thought it would be. The best tip I got from the CC boards was the shoe organizer. I am a little bit of a neat freak and it really helped with every-one's stuff not being all over. Entertainment was a little sparse after the first day unless you like the drinking pool type games. (We don't drink, myself for health reasons, hubby just never has) We enjoyed the shows. My 12 year old son, who has just discovered girls enjoyed the Fiesta Latina show especially. The dancers come down and dance in the isle. The food was on par for Carnival. We have always enjoyed the food, the only thing I didn't care for was the rotisserie chicken. We had a great waiter in the dining room, Noel. He was great. The only blip was one night my niece has pasta and found a piece of plastic in it. The Maitre D was there in flash and apologized greatly and offered to bring her something else. She was just about finish with her dinner. The kids really enjoyed all the Circle C activities. We hardly saw them and they made a lot of friends. Disembarkation was smooth, but a little late. There was a hold up with customs. We had zone 18 and we were off about 9:45am. When we were walking through the terminal to the luggage pick up there were 2 "gentlemen" in handcuffs being escorted away. Overall the Splendor was great. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
My husband and I spent 2 nights at the Catamaran Resort and Spa in San Diego prior to our sailing. The hotel was nice. It's located in the Mission Bay area of San Diego, about 20 minutes from the pier. San Diego is a wonderful city, ... Read More
My husband and I spent 2 nights at the Catamaran Resort and Spa in San Diego prior to our sailing. The hotel was nice. It's located in the Mission Bay area of San Diego, about 20 minutes from the pier. San Diego is a wonderful city, we absolutely loved everything about it and hope to return there someday. Embarkation: Very quick and easy. We arrived at the pier about noon and were on the ship within 20 minutes. We couldn't access our cabin until 1 p.m., which meant we had to bring our carry-on luggage with us to the Windjammer, which was a bit of a pain but not such a huge deal. 5* for embarkation Baggage: DO NOT BRING A FLAT IRON with you....your baggage will be held up in security. My husband's suitcase never showed up and when we inquired about it we were told he had to go down to security. Well turns out they x-ray every suitcase and if they see a flat iron they won't allow it to be delivered. So they confiscate the iron and you get it back at the end of the cruise. I feel this is a way for RCCL to make extra money. We had to pay to have our clothes pressed. We sailed on Princess last Sept and were able to bring our iron. So people can smoke on board but you can't iron your clothes? Also some people's curling irons were confiscated, luckily mine made it through. Cabin: We had a Superior Oceanview Balcony stateroom. It felt very "roomy" and there was plenty of storage. The balcony has 2 chairs and a table. Yes, the shower is small but so is every other shower on every other cruise ship we've been on in the past. 5* for the cabin Cabin Steward: Ours was just "so so". Our first evening on board we came back to our cabin to find a dirty duvet on our bed. There were many large yellow stains all over the top of the duvet....obviously he HAD to have seen them if we did. We phoned the steward on call and 2 gentlemen came up immediately. As soon as they saw it they apologized and took it off and remade our bed. 3* for our steward Ship: Is beautiful! We've sailed on many different sized ships and the Radiance is by far our favorite. She's the perfect size. She never felt crowded (cruise was about 300 people shy of being sold out), the lay out is perfect and the common areas are very roomy. I especially loved the tasteful understated decor throughout the ship. I didn't see any signs or wear and tear that other reviewers have written about. I think for a ship that's 10 years old she's still very "Radiant". 5*+ for the ship Entertainment: Pleasantly surprised us. We've seen many "cruise ship" shows and after a while they all seem the same or worse then the last. Well, not on the Radiance. On our cruise there was a Tango dance couple from Argentina. The main show was designed around them and they were fantastic, I could have watched them dance all night. The Piano Man show with the RCCL singers and dancers was also very good. There was also a comedian and a juggler/comedian and both of them were very entertaining. So all in all I'd have to say the entertainment was very good. 5* for the entertainment Dining- Main dining room: So here is where we have seen the biggest drop in quality since we first started cruising over 18 yrs ago. I guess they have to cut back somewhere and unfortunately this is where we notice it. We ate 3 nights in the main dining room. The first night we had prime-rib and it was really good. The other 2 nights were really below average, limited choices, small portions, poorly cooked steaks etc. Our waiter would shake his head if he didn't think we should order something, and he kept saying "those were the days" when we spoke about cruise ship dining in the past. I remember when we first cruised we would order a couple of entrees because we couldn't make up our minds and everything including the desserts was so delicious. Not so much anymore. 2-1/2* for the food in the Main Dining Room Cascades Dining-Specialty restaurants: SAVED US!!! LOL!! Portofino is magnificent...from the service to the atmosphere to the food...PERFECTION! I ordered the Fillet Mignon and it melted in my mouth. I highly recommend this @ $20 per person it's well worth the money. Chops is also very good, not as nice as Portofino but still worth the extra expense. I had a wonderful Fillet Mignon here too. It's a nice break from the Main Dining Room and it is actually what dining USED to be like years ago on cruises...now you just have to pay extra for it. 5*+ for specialty restaurants The Windjammer: In my opinion, is the best laid out buffet restaurant of any cruise ship we've sailed on in the past. It never felt crowded. There were always plenty of tables available and there are a number of buffet stations. The food was always consistently good and hot and the choices were numerous. 5* for the Windjammer All in all we had a fabulous time. You really can't beat the value. My husband and I reflected on our past cruises and realized that 18 yrs ago we paid the same amount of money per person for our cruises as we paid for this cruise. The price really hasn't gone up in 18 yrs. The cruise lines are trying to keep this an affordable vacation, so in order to do that they have to cut back on some "extras". They no longer place a chocolate on your pillow at night, the toiletries in the staterooms are limited, the alcohol is very expensive ($20 and up for 2 glasses of wine) and the food quality has dropped significantly in the main dining rooms. BUT it's still a great value for the money. We paid just under $500 per person for a balcony cabin, so I'm not complaining by any means. Please don't read too much into the negative reviews on this site. If you keep in mind the amount of money you're paying for this vacation it's all relative. If you want 5*+ service then this is not the line for you, but if you're looking for a great vacation at a great value then it is. For what we spent....I'd rate it a 4* overall vacation. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We have cruised with RCI three times. We definitely noticed a change in the quality of food/service on this cruise. EMBARKATION: Very easy (less than 15 minutes in line), mainly because there were no other ships in port. This was ... Read More
We have cruised with RCI three times. We definitely noticed a change in the quality of food/service on this cruise. EMBARKATION: Very easy (less than 15 minutes in line), mainly because there were no other ships in port. This was definitely not the norm in our experience, so a nice surprise. CABIN: We had a junior suite, which was much roomier than the interior or balcony cabins. We had a lot of luggage and there was ample space to store it all once we unpacked. The closet was large and they had plenty of hangers. The shower/bathtub was much larger than other rooms. Our only complaint was that our sink drainpipe started to leak badly, and getting them to fix it was frustrating. We told our attendant, and when we returned to our room, someone had replaced the faucet! Of course, the faucet wasn't the problem. Wouldn't you think they would have checked for the problem before replacing a faucet? Although it was nice to see flat-screen TVs, the overall dEcor was dated, and it didn't seem as clean as it could have been. For example, they don't replace or clean the decorative pillows/bedspreads between cruises, and the mattress pad under our sheets was pretty gross. This really surprised me. Aren't cruise ships supposed to be overly clean to thwart the spread of viruses? CABIN ATTENDANT: We did not even see him for 2 days, and then he gave us our "orientation" in the hallway outside our room while we were on our way to dinner. His English was not very good so I had a bit of trouble understanding him. He did keep the room clean, but the service here was definitely sub-par when compared to other cruises. A note before you debark on Day 7: Put your "do not disturb" sign in the door. We had to report to immigration very early Sunday morning (a futile exercise, for which we had to stand in line for 45 minutes), and when we finally returned to our room, the door was wide open, and our luggage was still in our room. The attendants were close by but they had entered, removed our coffee, made the bed and cleaned the bathroom in preparation for the next guests! We still had 2 hours to wait in our cabin so I was not happy. I mean, really, it's like someone coming into your hotel room and making the bed before you have checked out! SPA: I go to the spa to relax, not to buy products. This REALLY bothered me. Once they finished with my manicure, out came the hard sell for the $40 moisturizing oil. I have never experienced this in any other spa. Another woman noticed the same thing (to the tune of $400). FOOD: We had second seating in the dining room, and noticed a big difference between our first cruise and this cruise. Portions were small and you had to ask for more bread/rolls if you could find the assistant waiter. I had steak two nights (off the side of the menu), and it was awful. We are not big eaters at all, but did not feel "full" once in the dining room. Some nights the food was better than others - it was hit or miss. A few women behind our table were coming to dinner dressed in short-shorts and halter tops! What is the point of a dress code if they do not enforce it somehow? Even a tactful note under the cabin door of the offending person(s) would suffice. We ate at Chops one night: amazing food, amazing service. Johnny Rockets was a lot of fun: great burgers, shakes and fries. The Windjammer was great as usual, although very full every time we went there. PORTS: This won't matter so much since RCI is pulling out of the Mexican Riviera next year. The wait for the tenders to Cabo San Lucas was disorganized, and we ended up standing in a stairwell with hundreds of other people for about 40 minutes. The line started on the 3rd floor and we had to disembark from the 1st floor. Many people were finding ways around the line and cutting in. Once we got to the mainland, it was good, although a bit overwhelming if you are not used to being bothered by vendors. It was very clean and we had a good lunch there. We also bought quality hats at the Hat Store, not the souvenir stands. Mazatlan: It was depressing, dirty and the only place we did not feel very safe if we walked off the beaten track. The cab ride to the shopping area was enough to make me find a religion. Even "The Shrimp Factory" restaurant recommended by the cruise ship was not very good. They leave sauces on the table all day and the shrimp I had was mediocre at best. Puerto Vallarta: Our favorite port by far. We signed up for the Dolphin Signature Swim at Vallarta Adventures and this was the highlight of our trip. Lots of great shops here too, especially the Rolling Stone leather shop. DEBARKATION: Wow, what a dose of reality. See note above re cabin attendants cleaning our room before we left. We had to report to immigration starting at 6:30 a.m., and it went downhill from there. It's like they love you for 6 days and want to boot you out the minute Day 7 hits. I understand it takes a lot of coordination to move that many people off a ship, but it was pretty horrible. When you go to the area indicated by your luggage tag, good luck hearing any sort of announcement. They really need to organize this better. Our waiting area was the ice rink, and when they finally called for our group to leave (very late), they sent everyone back up the stairs! Good luck to anyone in a wheelchair or with a walker because it was impossible to get an elevator. Other passengers had to assist many people by helping to drag their luggage up the stairs. But, considering everyone had their own luggage, it was very chaotic. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
I started on this cruise a little skeptical. It's our fifth Carnival Cruise, sixth overall and while we've always had a great time, these ports didn't interest me as much and on our last cruise some of the on ship activities ... Read More
I started on this cruise a little skeptical. It's our fifth Carnival Cruise, sixth overall and while we've always had a great time, these ports didn't interest me as much and on our last cruise some of the on ship activities started to be "old routine." We picked this cruise because of the dates and because we wanted "something different" than the Carribean. Well, we had a great time. We met some of the nicest people of any cruise. Our dinner-mates matched out age and interests pretty well and activities were well attended. Someone said that average age was 55, but frankly it seemed well distributed between people in the 20's, 30's 40's 50's 60's 70's and 80's. Even though there were 3500 guests, there was never a crowd except for the chocolate buffet which could have used additional lines. We splurged on the thermal spa package. This included the use of a special hot tub and steam room areas. It was nice, very "serene". I don't know if it was worth the money but actually I probably would purchase it again. I had a seaweed massage which was very nice but not worth the money and I would probably not do it again. Carnival tells you not to arrive in Long Beach until 2pm. I believe that people did get on board as early as 11:30. We arrived about 1:30 and the line was very long but ultimately moved ok. The only problem on disembarkation was that they said there would be announcements for self-assist and it seemed that most people just went down so they never made the announcements until they made one "final" announcement for all self-assist. We took advantage purchasing their discount coupons for a future sailing and we did book our next cruise for a year from now while on-board. Internet service, which is important to us, was good. We had a good signal in our stateroom. All in all it was an enjoyable trip. The on-deck temperature was a little cooler than expected, but all in all it was a smooth trip, just a little chop on the last day going full speed back to Long Beach. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We were at the cruiseport at 12:30 pm having arrived at the airport at 11 o'clock. Checking in was a breeze, was able to go directly to our cabin and then had lunch at the Windjammer. The Ship was beautiful and really enjoyed the ... Read More
We were at the cruiseport at 12:30 pm having arrived at the airport at 11 o'clock. Checking in was a breeze, was able to go directly to our cabin and then had lunch at the Windjammer. The Ship was beautiful and really enjoyed the promenade and the entertainment they provided in the evening at the pubs. The food on the Mariner was good, we did have a lobster night and our waiter who knew we loved seafood gave us two lobster tails wiithout even asking for it! The entertainment was good but not fantastic, the shows needed to be updated, loved the skating show and quest was hilarious. Our favorite port was Cabo San Lucas. we booked our tours independently based on the great reviews on cruise critic, Our tour guide was Oliver and he was great. We booked our Mazatlan tour through Sharon and we had a problem with the time, we booked a 10 o'clock tour, confirmed it because our confirmation stated it was 9:30 on one page and on another page it was 10, the tour left at 9:30 and we were there at 9:40 we thought in plenty of time for the 10 o'clock tour, the company did not want to refund our $78 and after much correspondence they agreed to credit us half. We did book the tour right on the port with the trolley company it was a great tour very informative and it was $80 for the both of us would recommend that company to anyone. The second highlight of our tour was peurta vallerta where we went to a teguilla farm and got quite an education and sampling I might add on the art of making Teguilla, it was quite fun and the island tour was a great tour as well. We loved the Mariner of the Seas despite it being one of the "elder ships" we are booked on the Brillance of the seas in August and have allready booked some of our tours based on the reviews on Cruise Critic which is one of my very favorite sites. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
My friend and I left on April 19th for a 4 day cruise To Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. We really didn't know what to expect, other than I had been on CC forum and had talked/ask questions of these two ports, which neither of ... Read More
My friend and I left on April 19th for a 4 day cruise To Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. We really didn't know what to expect, other than I had been on CC forum and had talked/ask questions of these two ports, which neither of us had visited before. When we arrive (we flew in directly from Kansas City, Missouri), we found our transportation, and they took us to the cruise ship, which is probably within 10 - 15 minutes of the ship. In San Diego it was 75 degrees, but from then on the weather changed to rain/wind/COLD. (Please see Ensenada, Mexico for when we went back to San Diego before we went home.) I had already filled out our Fun Pass, so that helped us get through everything much smoother, and able to get to our rooms. We thought we might have to go to the Lido deck, but by 1:30 (I believe it was) our room was ready. We had a window and the room seemed spacious enough for what we had. I will say since the Elation is an older ship, and maybe because we were only doing 4 nights, it seemed like the room was missing a few things that I was used to having on the longer trips, but that was OK. We had a vault, which I definitely wanted, as well as the TV, but we didn't have a small refrigerator, which I think some of the other ships I have been on may have had. The bathroom was a nice size with the amenities that come, but there was not a hair blower, but that was OK, as my friend brought that, and I brought the curling iron. I really love our beds/bedding as I feel like a baby when I put the comforter on me. Really warm and light. Before I forget, do no bring an iron with you if you need to press your clothes. There is a laundry room where you can was/dry your clothes for a certain price or coins. The iron is free as far as I know, or it was when I used it a year or two ago. The ship (I like more vibrant colors) was in browns/coppers, and it was kept real clean for an older ship. Our table (seating of 10) had Vince and his helper attending to us in the dining room. They always kept me in HOT tea, which I had requested, and NO ice in my water. We had the 8:15 seating as that didn't rush us to have to be at dinner so early, or leaving a port that we were vising to get to dinner in time. We were pleased with the food, and if there was something that we didn't like or want, we could ask, and they would try to get us something else on the menu for that night. Flying in to San Diego, we met a lot of people from California, where they didn't have to pay to fly in like us. If you like to save money, they still have the $10 store, mainly for ladies, but they have some good buys that I have been pleased with down through the years. Since the weather was so windy/cold we played miniature golf, but there were few at the pools. We did go to the theatre and seen the Newlywed Game, which was very good. There was always something to see/do if you wanted to on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Second cruise on princess; I think this trip reminded me of why I may not be a princess person. I am fit, fun, and my 8 year old son and I love adventerous and active vacations. Kids Programs: The kids programs are too childish, and at ... Read More
Second cruise on princess; I think this trip reminded me of why I may not be a princess person. I am fit, fun, and my 8 year old son and I love adventerous and active vacations. Kids Programs: The kids programs are too childish, and at least for my son, not appealing. The Easter celebration was just sad - very little candy, a big pelican suit dancing around to very loud music, and an endless line for the only ativity the kids seemed interested in - balloon shapes. The kids club needs more up tp date video games (nintendo is what all the kids play now), and more fun activities. Making books only lasts so long! Both times on princess, my son's begged me not to leave him there. I did love that they gave us the option of signing himself out - which was great so he had flexibility to find entertainment for himself if I was at the gym, or getting a massage. Food: The main dining rooms are great. We loved our waiter, and the food was very good at night. Horizon (the buffet) is not well run. Way, way too crowded, and the staff's only focus is to clear your food, usually while you are up getting the drinks that the wait staff can't seem to bring your way. Coffee on the ship is almost undrinkable, and half the time, the dispensers in Horizon spit out water instead of coffee and iced tea. Activities: The scolarsea program, the shopping and so many other activities are just not appealing. The only entertainment I really looked forward to our enjoyed was the comedy. The library hours are a joke too - like two hours a day, which was a bummer if you needed a book. The smoke in the casino was horrid - they really need to cut back and make more days nonsmoking. The smell was everywhere. Gym: Way too small and crowded for my taste. Many times all the machines were taken, and 10 spaces in a spin class with 2000 people on board is just silly. Tours: Stone Island was not worth the money - too rough to swim, but could be great if you go for the horses or ATVs. For beach, swimming, it was not the best. We LOVED las calletes. By far the best day of the trip. It was just beautiful, and my son and I both had a blast. Worth every penny. Especially with the open bar. Cabo was beautiful, I wish I had gotten up earlier, so we could have spent the day on one of the beautiful beaches. No need to pay for a tour here, just take a water taxi to the beach. Ourt cabin steward was wonderful. Overall, the staff were so friendly and nice, and made the trip worthwhile. But next time we'll find a cruise better for kids. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
It has been awhile since the three of planned a cruise together so we were excited to FINALLY be having a getaway together! A long trip across country to San Diego and we were on our way. I was impressed that such an expensive city offered ... Read More
It has been awhile since the three of planned a cruise together so we were excited to FINALLY be having a getaway together! A long trip across country to San Diego and we were on our way. I was impressed that such an expensive city offered the parking at the port for MUCH less than Miami does. Embarkation was smooth. Missed the bells and whistles that the new port in Miami has but to be honest the basics we got in SD were less frantic. We arrived about 11:15 and were on the boat and at the Lido by noon. Note to first time cruisers don't forget to pack or wear your bathing suit. That way you can be poolside waiting to get your bags delivered to your stateroom! Once on board, bellies full we got down to some Vit D soaking up. Why is it the sun feels so much better on vacation?? It was a vacation week for many areas by the number of kids on board. It was also for some reason the first time in 6 cruises that we got a good glimpse as to why CCL has not such a great rep. The ship was brimming with young 20-ishers- 30'ers that had only 1 thing in mind to do...DRINK. I am all for enjoying and kicking back but the level and sheer numbers of obnoxious drunks was beyond what was able to be dismissed and "kids" having a good time. Our threesome is in their mid forties and enjoy kicking back a few but honestly...before embarkation there were more than a handful that were so drunk they could hardly stand, very loud and disruptive as well as rude to fellow cruisers and staff. Put a sour taste in ours and others we spoke to mouths before we even set sail!! Unfortunately it continued for the whole cruise. We attempted to enjoy the Serenity area but it was filled with young obnoxious drunks. The hallways loud at late late hours due to the same, stumbling back to rooms. Much more than our other cruises have had! I could go on forever. You get the picture so enough said. The room was an inside cabin, our first. It wasn't bad because we hardly were in it. I suggest if you are thinking of going the cot route...DON'T. It was very very uncomfortable and was left in the room for the duration making the room space VERY tight. I was under the impression that they would just bring it in for turn-down. WRONG! Staff? Never saw our steward. The room was neatened but not truly cleaned well. Dirty glasses stayed for a day or so. Trash was only occasionally emptied. Staff in hallways polite but not as friendly as on our other CCL trips. The same old problem of less than enthusiastic bar workers when the soda cards were presented. First timers, if you plan on wanting drinks brought to you poolside etc that are not alcoholic ie soda (does not include lemonade/ice tea) they are worth the $6 a day. Get them when U get on the ship. They now use stickers for the soda cards. MUCH better than having to carry and show a separate card each time!! LOVED the new Safety Briefing. Short..informative for everyone and NO, may I repeat NO need to bring your life jacket to the muster stations! SWEETNESS!! Dining? We decided to try the U Pick option. LOVED it!! We went to eat about the same time each night, about 7-730. We were sat immed. and were lucky enough to have the same table and wait staff for the duration. That was something that almost kept us from choosing the option. Christian was GREAT and very accommodating. Using the option we managed to have much more flexibility in planning out evenings re shows and activities. Menu's were the same with a few different sides than in past cruises. Food was good...and remember, if you cant choose then get all the choices you want. This was something we didn't know at first and now wholeheartedly take advantage of. Its a great way to try new things!! Save room for deserts...note the plural tense :o). The shows were standard. Talent typical. Not the best we have had but not the worst either. Did LOVE the cruise director and assists. They were by far not the in your face obnoxious types that we have always have had. In fact, when the drunkards were needing to be put in their place during different activities They did so. Firmly but professionally. Kudos to them because there were some really difficult drunks they had to deal with. Lots of dance lessons...FUN. Many games to play...FUN. Wish the dance lessons were in a better venue. The open bar area they had most of them wasn't ideal. Karaoke host was sweet and very good! Calypso band...ehh, had much better ones on our other CCL cruises. Pool was waaay to cold to be in. I missed the waterworks upgrade that the other smaller vessels have had placed. It kept all the kids in the main pool area hogging the hot tubs. As for the general decor. NICE. It was evident it was an older ship but the colors and decorations were very pleasing and calming. My favorite of the CCL ships I have been on! CCL has teamed up with St. Judes and had a " dance" for $10. It was disappointing that only 11 participated. Really?? They were spending 100's of dollars..LITERALLY a day on alcoholic drinks and the cruisers couldn't be bothered to at least support the cause??? The $10 got you a bracelet(those cause/rubbery ones) and a T shirt. Good quality t-shirt but as with CCL does in general was size discriminant and didn't have sizes larger than XL. (CCL does now carry XXL...that my size 14 - 16 dress wearer BFF just fits into... so much for XXL!! Our Sea Days were fine. Lots to do or nothing to do..your choice. Which is exactly what we all wanted! Loved High Tea...but they rushed it...it didn't matter that they had about 15 - 20 people join then 1/2 thru the half hour...they shut it down and left those people with a cup of lukewarm tea and never got a chance to pass around the remaining goodies. It would have been one thing if they were out of the goodies but to be taking half full trays away before offering them...not so cool!! Cabo day was perfect weather. We picked the safety of a CCL excursion. Land's End with shopping. Liked the " Catamaran"..was basically a big motor boat...was expecting a sailing/netted floor type. They saw whales in the distance and brought us out to them. Sweet bonus! Beach time...good meal. Beach okay. It was nice not having vendors in your face while you were soaking up the rays. Shopping? We ended up at a MALL. Not what we were planning. We wanted the touristy type vendors we could bargain with..like the ones at port. We did have time there before the last tender so it worked out. Disembarkation was simple. Liked the " Bags out in hallway by 11pm-midnight" much better than before where they wanted them about 8 - 9 pm. We were #17 but were were off the boat by 1015. We had breakfast then sat in the sun snoozing until we were called. Customs was very quick...MUCH smoother and quicker than Miami or Ft. Lauderdale have ever been! Walked across the street, where the car was parked and off to a local CVS to get copies of each other's photo cards before hitting the airport to head home to NH. Of note...They, CCL offered a DIRECT way to process your luggage. For $20 they would collect your bags, get your boarding pass and then check them in... You don't have to deal with the luggage until you arrive at your home base. It gets charged to the Sail n Sign card,and they also will have the airline charge on the sail card..Bonus if collecting points on the CC! It needs to be done 2 days prior to disembarkation. Go to Pursers desk. Quick and easy...bring your flight info and passport with U. Only some of the airlines participate but sounded well worth the money. Unfortunately, my cabin mate was flagged by the airport as having to physically check in at the airport. CCL said it was a random thing and they called the state room to let us know. They gave me the option to continue with the program even though my travel buddy couldn't be processed or cancel. I cancelled and we were refunded the cost back to the sail and sign card that night. Great idea and we WILL try and take advantage of this on our next cruise! It was a fun time. We wish we had shared the ship with a different clientele...it was just luck of the draw I guess. We are all looking forward to planning our next cruise with CCL.. Hoping to be cruising this coming winter to they newer ports for CCL...ARUBA!! Woo Hoo for Cabo....Boo Hoo that we had so many obnoxious drunks to contend with. Good thing we had cruised CCL before and knew that they aren't always like that...if it had been our first we would probably never try the CCl again unless we got a HUGE bargain first. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We are just back from 10 day Mexico sailing out of San Diego. We have cruised about 4 different cruise lines with this one being our first with HAL (others Carnival, Celebrity, Princess). We booked a verandah cabin, purchased two extra ... Read More
We are just back from 10 day Mexico sailing out of San Diego. We have cruised about 4 different cruise lines with this one being our first with HAL (others Carnival, Celebrity, Princess). We booked a verandah cabin, purchased two extra packages "just the 2 of us" and "suite amenities." Embarkation: We drove to San Diego from the SF Bay Area the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn SD Bay directly across the stree from the cruise ship terminal. Very impressed with our Bay view room and purchased the cruise parking package that allowed us to keep our car in covered parking for the length of the cruise - highly recommend this as it was both a nice and clean hotel convenient to boarding the ship and close covered parking. We arrived at the embarkation area for HAL around 1130AM. Walked right into the luggage area with 2 people ahead of us - suitcases were taken, we were directed to the checkin area which was set up beyond the security check point (which I though was a great idea). Checkin with no waiting very smooth and courteous process. We were given a group number and waited for about 15 minues to board the ship. Cabin: We had a veranda cabin on deck 6 - we could not get to our cabin until 1:30 but had a nice lunch in Lido Lounge and enjoyed the SD weather until at the appointed time the cruise director announce rooms were available. We found our room and balcony to be very roomy and clean. Out cabin attendants were very nice but I think overworked as they told us they had 28 cabins assigned to them. Dining: We had early assigned seating and as part of the "just for the 2 of us" package had a very nice table for 2. Meals and service very good. Pinnacle Grill: This was one of the areas we had problems. Each of the 2 extra packages we purchased included dinner at the Pinnacle Grill. When we used the first reservation we were seated next to a couple dressed inappropriately (in my opinion) for the venue. She had what looked like a bathing suit bottom (very short) and a "cover up" - He had on no socks and flip flops off his feet and under the table. Our server was very slow to attend to us and once food arrived he didnt come back to offer the pepper for salad, etc. I had to ask for refill on water twice. Although we didnt especially enoy that experience we had the other "coupon" so I tried to make a reservatin for one of the last 2 sea days and was told the restuarant had no space available. As we strolled by the restaurant during these times later the restaurant wasnt even 50% full so I dont know why we couldnt get a table (and no I didnt complain about anything the first time so I dont think I was "black balled" I had on my big boy pants we didnt say anything about the first time) Extra Packages: For the most part we received all items advertised for the "Just for the 2 of Us" package - roses in cabin, table for 2 in dining room, photo ops etc. The monogramed bathrobes werent availabe as they werent delivered to the ship on time - after I went to the front office (first of many trips) they wound up crediting our acct for that amt which was fine. The "suite amenities package" was more problematic. We had 2 spa treatments that were part of that package which we got charged for again, we did not get the priority disembarkation treatment which was also supposed to be part of the package. Same "no bathrobe" situation as before. After I complained many times about these items we did wind up getting credits applied to our acct. My advice is to make a checklit of items you pay for with these packages and followup as you dont everything up front - Im not sure its worth it as every problem has to be addressed at the "front desk" (purser) and it gets very frustrating and "adjustments" cant be done immediately they say the night auditor needs to do that so that means another trip the next day to check on your acct yet again. Ports: We did the normal Mexico Riviera ports with 3 additional Baja Calif ports - had to skip La Paz due to "winds" which was disappointing. Disembarkation: What a fiasco! since our itinerary took the ship from San Diego up to Vancouver - many folks were staying on board for that final leg of the trip. Reviewing all non-USA, non-bebarking gues at San Diego was required before anyone could leave the ship. This process took HOURS. We did not get off the ship until 11AM. Many people had lined up to get off the ship and didnt care what their "tag colors" were anylonger which created huge lines along all corridors. Once debarkation was allowed, they still called the groups by tag colors and people had to climb over/around others, and deal with the folks who just wanted off the ship at that point and were clogging up the exit arguing with the ships personnel. Overall: Cruise and ship very nice. Personnel as helpful (overall) as they could be. Pinnacle Grill quite disapointing. Extra Packages purchased many items not available and I had to do the work to point out what was missing and get things straigtened out. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010

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