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4,670 Panama Canal & Central America Cruise Reviews

We took a great trip on the Joy for 16 days from Miami to Los Angeles. Through the Panama Canal. We had a great time. plenty of things to do on the ship and plenty of excursions were offered as well. The embarkation in Miami was the ... Read More
We took a great trip on the Joy for 16 days from Miami to Los Angeles. Through the Panama Canal. We had a great time. plenty of things to do on the ship and plenty of excursions were offered as well. The embarkation in Miami was the worst of our 10 cruise vacations. First they sent us to the wrong area to check in ,so we went to the right section and there was a loud alarm going off for 30min before someone from maintainence came to disconnect it. over allit was 1 1/2 hours waiting in line to check in. This was with a pre arranged check in time! We chose an inside cabin as we always do, It was smallbut we didn'tcare as we spend our time on deck. We loved the choices of food and different dining areas that were included in the fare. Did not try any of the other dining options. Loved the Music, and Footloose play. The Elements production we did not like very much, more of a dancing program(think Ballet,interpretive dance).Most of the comedy shows were of the 18+ variety which we never go to. I feel that you don't need profanity to be funny. And even in the large shows that were supposed to be "clean" there were too many references to sex, and use of "potty" talk. The ports of call were interesting. Although the ports wherewe docked were schetchy. Meanining we docked in shipyards, where you weren't allowed to walk from the ship to the city. They were Cartagena, Colombia;Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica; Excurisions were good we did VIP Sailing Adventure In Puerto Vallarta great time. Beach Resort getaway in Mazatlan nice beach with lunch at the resort restaurant men aren't allowed to wear sleeveless shirts. One poor guy was given a shirt that was too to small but he put it onso he could have lunch. :) Famous Arch, Sea lionsand Whales tour in Cabo San Lucas saw lots of whales and sea lions. we also did The Sabana Adventure Safari in Puerto Caldera don't make our mistake. First it is a 2-21/2 hour bus ride to the attraction. they have 5 different animals zebra, antelope,giraffe.spent only hour doing that lunch was good, then another 2 hours back. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Whoever designed these ships most have been on some drugs. When you hold all your games and talks in the Atrium, which has future cruises, guest services and and tours, you are asking for trouble. You have to yell at the person you are ... Read More
Whoever designed these ships most have been on some drugs. When you hold all your games and talks in the Atrium, which has future cruises, guest services and and tours, you are asking for trouble. You have to yell at the person you are talking to. For a show in the Atrium, they put out folding chairs, pay all that money to sit in a folding chair. They have a very nice theater which is underused. Why not show a movie on a sea day. Food is now right bad. No taste, weird things and slow service, even if they remember who got what. We had 8 of us and they either forgot things or gave them to the wrong people. The paid restaurants were not much better, Japanese was good and Ocean Blue, might have been the best restaurant I have ever been in while on a cruise. Service Fantastic, food better then any other place on the ship. Footloose was great, the other shows not very good. Worst comedians that I have ever seen with the female comedian disgusting. Nice things, the cabin, although it was dirty when we arrived, the bathroom great. The crew very nice. When it takes an hour to board and close to two hours to get off there is something wrong. Our tour of LA was cut short. The tour was suppose to leave at 9 and we left at 11:15. Come on if you had a tour let us off first. Last time for this line. Just the little things that they make you pay for. Try another cruise line, if you want service and better food. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Overall a wonderful trip. The ship is magnificent. Boarded in Miami and was so glad to have just moved up to platinum as my line to get on was 10 minutes long, the others were in the hundreds and took 3 hours to get on. There must be a ... Read More
Overall a wonderful trip. The ship is magnificent. Boarded in Miami and was so glad to have just moved up to platinum as my line to get on was 10 minutes long, the others were in the hundreds and took 3 hours to get on. There must be a better process not a good way to start. The ship is beautiful, the staff is excellent and the food is best I’ve had on a cruise except the buffet. It was constantly cold and all tasted the same. The room was great, spotless at all times with a very personable nice steward. Room 9878 sits on top of a bar on the waterfront and had extremely loud music until 10:30 every night but then was quiet. Just don’t plan on a quiet night in. One big issue was Re boarding the ship in Cartegena. There were 3 long lines and a short Haven line which is fine, they pay plenty for that service but then 2 buses arrived and those 100 people were allowed to create their own line and cut in causing the rest of us an additional hour in the 100 heat to snake our way up. This is the fault of ncl not organizing and moving lines. There sure were plenty of staff handing out washcloths that could hVe controlled traffic, just frustrating when hot and exhausted. The smoking situation is an issue on this ship. It’s great to have an open deck area on 17 in Spice to go but in the casino it’s a small room that is is normally ventilated very well except on sea days when crowded. Also they have 5 table games in there that in 17 days ionly saw 2 with a player. I suggested they remove 2 and add more slots as times we were standing in line to play. It would have been nice to have like on others ships an ashtray outside on deck 8 where you could duck out and smoke a quick cigarette and get back in. There are many more closet smokers than you would expect. The staff on this ship were excellent. The specialty restaurants obviously have the best servers but we found some trying very hard in main dining rooms. Ocean blue was a great surprise for us. The seafood was wonderful as well as the service. Also no I Sheehan’s, name change to local. Served a great fast breakfast and menu upgrade. Overall a great trip Oh it did take 3 hours to get off ship thanks to customs border protection wow lots missed shuttles and tours was really ugly.. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Chose because we wanted to navigate the canal early in the year when the weather is perfect..Could have been any cruise line! Negative points are embarking and disembarking both very long lines and close to 2 hours. New NCL terminal ... Read More
Chose because we wanted to navigate the canal early in the year when the weather is perfect..Could have been any cruise line! Negative points are embarking and disembarking both very long lines and close to 2 hours. New NCL terminal though looks nearly ready in Miami though. Had a mini suite because not much more expensive than standard balcony. First experience when we walked into our room and bathroom was WOW . Bathroom was as good as in any decent hotel with double sinks and large double length walk in shower. Also had a coffee maker which we made use of. Decent selection of films etc on the tv. Although only 3 years old ship had just had a multi million conversion from its original Chinese/Japanese market so everything new and clean. Food excellent especially the selection in the buffet where I was spoilt for choice. Had the 5 speciality meal/drink package at £100 each an absolute bargain. Can reccomend the filet mignon steaks I had 3 of them! Big Beatles fan so I can say the resident tribute act were absolutely fantastic. Watched them twice in the on-board Cavern and twice in the theatre with everybody singing along.. Almost a hidden charge why do most cruise lines add the 15% daily service charge?? Surely it should be included the the cruise price and then I could add a more personal gratuity if applicable e.g. to the cabin steward. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
The 14 day journey cruise on the Glory was overall memorable. Embarkation was great as soon as we got to the port and went thru security we were on the ship. We had some great stops, Montego Bay Jamaica, Aruba, Cartagena Columbia, Puerto ... Read More
The 14 day journey cruise on the Glory was overall memorable. Embarkation was great as soon as we got to the port and went thru security we were on the ship. We had some great stops, Montego Bay Jamaica, Aruba, Cartagena Columbia, Puerto Limon Costa Rica, the Panama canal and cozumel. the crew was great. Depending on where your room was on the ship there was a constant movement of the ship. I think the stabilizers are not working properly. Interior spaces were in good condition. The elevators were fast and smooth. The exterior needs some painting but you see the crew working on that. Food was on pair with carnival ships. Entertainment was good. There was plenty of activities to take part in.The cruise director " Lee " was informative but I don't think he will not be on the ship much longer. He's going to one of carnival's newest ship soon. Carnival's excursions are expensive.. independent operators are just as good for less money. Disembarking at the end of the cruise was a disaster because there were so many diamond and platinum members and a large number were getting off at the same time. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Wanted to see the Panama Canal Cruise was good. Had a few hiccups with getting off the ship. We arrived late in one port , and rather than let passengers off by excursion time, they let everybody off at once. People got on the busses ... Read More
Wanted to see the Panama Canal Cruise was good. Had a few hiccups with getting off the ship. We arrived late in one port , and rather than let passengers off by excursion time, they let everybody off at once. People got on the busses for the incorrect excursion time and had to be asked to get off so the correct people could get on. Could have been avoided with a little planning. Food was ok. Nothing special with the exception of a few special nights. The Sushi ( which was extra, but good pricing) was excellent. This was a Journeys Cruise. Staff mentioned several times that the cruisers were “older” - music was very loud! When we got to the canal, they had a step on guide that was very good explaining about the canal. We were on the Ludo deck watching. It took almost 30 minutes to find someone to turn the music off so we could hear the guide. Staff kept saying they didn’t know how to turn it down and folks were getting angry since this is what we came for! Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
It was a nice cruise from a scenery and ports perspective. Entertainment quality was good and was to be expected. Food quality was good and stateroom stewards were excellent. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. The issue my ... Read More
It was a nice cruise from a scenery and ports perspective. Entertainment quality was good and was to be expected. Food quality was good and stateroom stewards were excellent. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. The issue my husband and I had was the crew/staff/officers did not seem very happy and were not intermingling with the passengers as they have on our other Holland Cruises. It was almost as if they looked straight through you and just did their job. We understand that is what they are their to do, but we have been on many cruises where It was very obvious that the crew and officers loved their jobs and loved getting to know their passengers to and share about home once in a while and this was something they enjoyed. If you asked for something, they brought it to you but even the simple things of being visible and the hello’s, how are you, were missing. Being in our 70’s and having been on almost every cruise line, this is something we really look forward to and was really missing on this ship. We thought maybe it was us but after talking with many passengers They all commented that staff was unfriendly or didn’t seem to be happy, so It wasn’t just us that felt that way. Hopefully, that will change as we are booked on her again in the summer. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
getting on and off the ship was well taken care of. overall service was wonderful. the food was surprisingly only very good, not up to our expectations. we ate in the main dr. every evening at an assigned table. the lido for ... Read More
getting on and off the ship was well taken care of. overall service was wonderful. the food was surprisingly only very good, not up to our expectations. we ate in the main dr. every evening at an assigned table. the lido for breakfast and lunch was just fine and more than adequate. there is no place on the ship to enjoy the sea and scenery at a quiet pace. the crows nest has evening 'entertainment' that is loud and boisterous. those people could be anyplace on the ship, in an enclosed space and they wouldn't care. their focus is on what's happening center stage, not outside. dancing is the same thing; just find a flat space somewhere else and sell lots of booze. if you don't have a balcony, good luck. the ship is old and a bit rusty, but still functional. everyone is OLD, AND I MEAN OLD. we are 73 and were in the younger crowd. i saw 5 kids on the ship. if you want to learn about computers, this is the place. if you want to learn about the places you're visiting not so much. very little info, unless you want to take a ship excursion. we took only one ship excursion and were sorry we did that one, the sting ray visit in the Bahamas was disturbing. the animals were stressed and seemed uncomfortable much of the time. too much handling. they seemed to keep a few under the steps to make them easy to access by the staff for the 'show'.. we arranged all our own excursion off the ship before we departed and had great times. used trip advisor and cruise critic. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
My wife and I just completed a 17-day cruise on February 22 on the Oosterdam from Fort Lauderdale (February 5) to San Diego. The food and service were great. The ship was clean and crisp. The staff was always friendly and helpful. The ... Read More
My wife and I just completed a 17-day cruise on February 22 on the Oosterdam from Fort Lauderdale (February 5) to San Diego. The food and service were great. The ship was clean and crisp. The staff was always friendly and helpful. The headliner shows each evening were top notch. The Lido Market was well organized, much better than other cruise ships. However, we probably will not book another cruise on Holland America. We are an active couple of 70 and 72. We had little opportunity to dance to music that was danceable. The band at BB Kings was fantastic, yet only 15-20% was age appropriate or danceable. The age demographics for the cruise passengers would have preferred music from the 30s through the 70s. There was dance music at 5 PM, yet dinner was at 5:30 PM, and there was only cocktail service for the first few days of the cruise during this time. Even that music could have been better selected for the age of the passengers. There was dance music after 10:30 PM – not a good time for the age of most passengers. Many fellow passengers shared our feelings about the music. The dueling pianos were good, but no place to dance. Plus, no sing-along director or leader. People recognized the songs from the 70s and 80s, but not enough to sing along. We usually cruise with Royal Caribbean. Not only do they provide age appropriate music, they also have it during good hours. Also, the activities staff was MUCH more visible and active on Royal. The staff made the passengers feel more like a community, not just individual passengers. Having Karaoke or activities in a bigger venue would help. On Royal we knew all five of the activities staff, on Holland just one person – the cruise/travel director. We felt that your daily Where and When bulletin provided little information about the activities and performers. For example, we had a performer one night and we had no idea what he was going to do. Was he a guitarist or singer? He was a pianist. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
This was our 12th cruise, 2d on HAL. What a disappointment! Ship is tired, scuffed, dirty and smelly. Needs a major renovation. Design is dated, but more important it's just old and not well maintained. The ambience of the ship ... Read More
This was our 12th cruise, 2d on HAL. What a disappointment! Ship is tired, scuffed, dirty and smelly. Needs a major renovation. Design is dated, but more important it's just old and not well maintained. The ambience of the ship transferred to many (but by no means all) of the staff, many of whom seemed just as tired as the ship and were simply going thru the motions. The food was mediocre--Pinnacle was much better, but main Dining Room and Lido were just OK. Many of the port selections were marginal choices; hard to believe there were not better stops, esp on the west coast of Mexico. We took more excursions from non-HAL operators than we did from HAL, because the offerings were better. The final insult from HAL was being nickle/dimed throughout the trip. We spent over $75 on water, even though we had a Signature Suite. Totally non-competitive. Hard to imagine I would ever go on another HAL cruise. 17 day cruise thru Canal was about 5 days too many. Avg age of passenger was extremely high, and we're not kids. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
The Oosterdam is one of the older Holland America ships but is attractive, well maintained, and comfortable and has probably the best service, certainly the friendliest service, of any of the Holland America ships that we have sailed on. ... Read More
The Oosterdam is one of the older Holland America ships but is attractive, well maintained, and comfortable and has probably the best service, certainly the friendliest service, of any of the Holland America ships that we have sailed on. The officers, too, are unusually cordial and went out of their way to greet and chat with guests. What I liked best about this 17-day Panama Canal transit cruise, though, was the location of our veranda stateroom, high on deck 10 adjacent to the Crow's Nest Lounge and the Observation Deck. For viewing the Panama Canal, the cabin couldn't have been better situated--and I loved being able to just walk out the door in the early morning for an espresso in the Crow's Nest and a quick check of the shelves of the briskly traded paperbacks at the entrance. (Why, oh why, has Holland America done away with a real library?!!!!) The Oosterdam veranda cabins have less storage space than the newer ships, but it seemed adequate, and the balcony space, at least on the 10th deck, is more narrow; there was not enough room for lounge chairs there. The bathtub showers, despite grab bars, are a little hazardous for old folk but I got used to being careful. Entertainment isn't usually the strong suit for Holland America, but this cruise had not only two performances by the stellar Step One Dance Company, but two crowd-pleasing performances by the handsome male-diva group calling themselves The Dutch Tenors, who were the stars of the ship. They not only received standing ovations but found themselves applauded when they entered the dining room. Everyone loved them. The BB King Blues Band on board the Oosterdam never seemed to play music really intended for dancing, so that was a letdown; we usually love dancing to 60's and 70's music and the BB King groups have been in the past a big part of why we chose Holland America. An expert on the Panama Canal came on board on transit day and gave nearly day-long commentary. (And to make the occasion even more special, trays of delicious Panama Buns stuffed with lemon-flavored custard were served with free morning coffee in all the lounges.) There were also two excellent lecturers on sea days--one on Costa Rica (birds, amphibians especially) and one on Mexican history and culture--but I missed the America's Test Kitchen lectures and demonstrations that have in the past been a big part of why I liked Holland America. Have these been phased out? Or was the Oosterdam just not equipped for a demonstration kitchen? All Holland America ships have tried to cut costs in recent years, especially in the dining room, so the food was good but not spectacular. Soups were inevitably a disappointment and I tasted few desserts that were worth their calories. A gala and expensive Valentine's Night dinner in the Pinnacle Grill was more ambitious than delicious, though it was beautifully presented and served (and the red rose for each female guest was a lovely gesture). There's no Tamarind Restaurant on the Oosterdam, which is usually my favorite Holland America specialty restaurant, so the Canaletto is probably the best bet for a surcharge meal. The Lido was better for breakfast than the dining room--there was a truly skillful eggs Benedict maker--and I enjoyed the array of fresh fruit, yogurts, and variety of nuts and seeds and toppings. And for lunch, good Lido salads and Asian foods--and those amazing french fries at the Dive-In are worth taking a Holland America cruise for. Completely addictive. We loved the Mangrove Swamp tour in Costa Rica where we saw crocodiles and exotic birds galore with a truly wonderful guide. The other tours were only so-so and the destinations in some cases a long, long way from the port. Going to Leon, Nicaragua, for example, especially in 99 degree heat, was exhausting, despite an art museum with a surprisingly good collection. There is little else to see in Leon. As always, I recommend Holland America ships for their smallish size, interesting itineraries, the plentiful and relaxing sea days, and the laid-back atmosphere. We enjoyed this cruise on the Oosterdam but were aware that not everyone would. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Panama Canal on our bucket list, awarded thru Casino for interior room so good opportunity to do this with small discount. I was hesitant going with another NCL bigger ship since our Thanksgiving Cruise on the get a way wasn’t that ... Read More
Panama Canal on our bucket list, awarded thru Casino for interior room so good opportunity to do this with small discount. I was hesitant going with another NCL bigger ship since our Thanksgiving Cruise on the get a way wasn’t that good. This ship however was a pleasant experience; the staff across the entire ship were welcoming, always greeting guests. I enjoyed the layout on this ship so much more than their getaway from Casino, decor, & staff. They were taking all precautions with the Noro & recent corona virus’s constantly cleaning, & really insuring folks we’re washing hands. The food in buffet was often better than their main dining rooms where service was still sometimes an issue. They had excellent shows on this ship from the footloose musical, Russian aerialists & especially the Beatles production. The local restaurant which is included served great food 24/7. Highly recommend the chicken pot pie! The water slide was fun. I really enjoyed the laid back vibe on this trip, anytime dining with no worry of dressing up too much. I had no complaints or bad experiences on this 12 day cruise & would Cruise again on Joy. Our bartenders on the aft end H2O bar Cristian, Juancho & Mike were awesome! Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We selected a 12 night cruise to see the Panama Canal. We got to visit some cool places in addition, and have lunches in local bistros. We're not into sailing or snorkeling, but would rather walk/tour around to get the individual ... Read More
We selected a 12 night cruise to see the Panama Canal. We got to visit some cool places in addition, and have lunches in local bistros. We're not into sailing or snorkeling, but would rather walk/tour around to get the individual flavor of each place. We kind of enjoyed the relaxation of two sea days both starting and ending the cruise. There were the ABC's-Aruba, Bonair & Curacao. We chose the basic 'see the island' excursions to experience the particular flavor of each- aloe vera factory, salt harvesting, flora/fauna, climbing outcrops, caves, and ... seeing deserts for a large part of them! Because of scheduling changes, we only had time for a great lunch in only one, Curacao- an outdoor table in a charming bistro sheltered by trees. ..and riding the wild pontoon bridge as it opened! We ventured into the 'Old City' of Cartagena, Columbia, a large cluster of shops, restaurants and chapels surrounded by a centuries-old stone wall. Great for shopping and photos, but lousy with street vendors who continually swarmed you like mosquitoes. One even sat down at our bistro table and tried to sell us dominos! There was a nature garden/zoo a short walk from our dock, to provide further photo ops. The Panama two day stop provided various excursions to experience the country- we chose the bus/walking tour of New/Old Panama City, experiencing the third world flavor (like a torn-down 12 foot high wall separating the rich section from the poor) and actually seeing the Pacific. The port city itself, Colon, was NOT recommended as a tourist exploration site. The canal itself was kind of overwhelming- waking before dawn to a full moon on the water, seeing the array of waiting ships, riding our 1100' cruise ship through three locks, rising up 85', turning around in Lake Gatin, then back out to the Caribbean sea. 7 hours experience in all. Final stop was Puerta Limon, Costa Rica- taking a canal/jungle cruise with animal spotting, then a train ride through banana plantations. They had a huge cluster of shops for last minute shopping next to the docking area. AS TO THE CRUISE, my wife and I differ. I am of the opinion that 3800 passengers is JUST TOO DAMN MANY. The ship was beautiful, with room for ALL kind of diversions- almost a dozen restaurants, huge theater, 60 foot water slides, and two story race car track. The normal pool area was replaced by a floor, to accommodate billions of beach chairs, and two smallish pools, the size of a large room. There was an activity going every minute of the day, and choice of 8 music acts (besides the theater 'Footloose' musical, Circe du Soleil clone, and other performers). It was refreshing to be surrounded by 95% shipmates as old as us; definitely friendly and courteous interactions through out. BUT EVERYTHING WAS A WAIT- elevators, bars, restaurant food service, concierge service, etc. Wifi wasn't bad, depending on time of day. It JUST BUGS me. Even walking to our room I felt like we were walking the gauntlet. I felt bad for the EXTREMELY HARDWORKING staff to be the target of occasional impatient outcries. Also annoying was the fact that we had to correct 4 misbilled items on our room check over the 12 days, each entailing another wait in lines.. A MAJOR PROBLEM WAS a change in scheduling when the JOY arrived to pick us up- it was late, a terminal had to be reassigned, luggage moved for some, and they were playing catch up to process. The actual boarding was 2-3 hours late and all 3800 folk were packed into the boarding area trying to hear the PA system announcements. Again, the staff did do a great job trying to get us registered. A final strangeness was new procedures put in place to combat spread of virus's (The Joy apparently had two norovirus outbreaks in December). For the first 3 days, all access to buffet food was made by staff, and menus were paper, not books. I guess there was a 'quarantine' period delay in place. Don't let my annoyances cloud the fact that we had a SPLENDID time, both onship and off. The food in the specialty restaurants seemed a step above normally good, and even the middle tier sitdowns were 4/5 stars. Entertainment was great, and where else can you walk from a brew pub to a whiskey bar to a mojito bar while traversing the sea? And once again, thanks to the hardworking staff, who made this excursion great. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
This was our 9th cruise on Norwegian and our 17th cruise overall. This was our first time on the Norwegian Joy. Due to the size of this very large ship, embarkation was a bit frustrating with very long lines, but once we were on the ship, ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise on Norwegian and our 17th cruise overall. This was our first time on the Norwegian Joy. Due to the size of this very large ship, embarkation was a bit frustrating with very long lines, but once we were on the ship, that was almost forgotten. The Norwegian is only a few years old and is beautiful and clean. The ship has a lot of activities including a race car track and laser tag, for an extra fee, of course. Both were fun to do at least once. The pool deck is very large, but it was often difficult to find an open lounge chair because people will place a towel on a chair and leave it there all day, even if they are no longer on the pool deck. That is very frustrating! In the evenings, the staff clears off the loungers and puts out chairs to watch a movie on the enormous outdoor movie screen. We enjoyed several outdoor movies during the cruise. We did notice that on the 5 sea days during the cruise, there were not touch day time activities. If you did not want to lounge by the pool (if you could find a chair), then you were left to entertain yourself. During the evenings, there were so much to do that we were not able to do everything that we wanted to do. We ate in every restaurant on the ship at least once with the exception of the American Diner. Le Bistro, Cagneys, La Cucina and Ocean Blue were excellent as usual. Tempanyaki was good but way too much salt and garlic, but it was fun talking to the other guests at our table. We did not like Food Republic. The Korean beef and the Tempanyaki chicken had the same sauce which was strange. The food never looked the same on the table as it did in the pictures. We were not impressed with this restaurant although the service was good. We definitely did not like the BBQ restaurant call The Q. The beef brisket was overcooked and everything tasted the same. The banana pudding was very gelatinous and lacked flavor. We will not return to this restaurant. We saw the play Footloose. The acting and singing were average in our opinion and it did not live up to the hype. We had already seen the other play Elements on a different ship, so we did not go to that one. One night we say the Beatles Review concert that was excellent! We went to multiple comedy shows on the 6th deck. All were extremely funny, and we would definitely recommend these if you like comedy. Make sure you sign up for the shows that you want on the first day of the cruise. Otherwise you have to wait in a standby line, but most people got in anyway. On the last day of the cruise at 12 noon we saw the play called "Wine Lovers, The Musical". I believe we paid $25 per person. The play was cute and funny. The meal was average but included 7 glasses of wine in total. There were 3 glasses of white wine and 2 glasses of red wine during the main course. Then there were 2 glasses of dessert wines. We sat with 3 other couples at a table for 8 and thoroughly enjoyed their company. I think we were the last table to leave. I would definitely recommend this event for the entertainment value. It was so much fun! The first three ports were Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba. We did not take excursions at these ports, but did our own thing. We went to the caves in Curacoa which was different and fun. We went snorkeling in Bonaire which was amazing! And we went to a private beach and swam in Aruba. All 3 days were fun and relaxing. The next port was Cartegena, Columbia. We signed up for an excursion that was only a boat ride over to and from the city. The boat ride was relaxing and avoided the road traffic. We went into the Spanish Inquisition Museum, the Gold Museum and the chocolate factory which were all interesting. We shopped in the mom and pop stores and bought some pretty paintings and other souvenirs. We stayed in the Old Town the entire time and always felt safe. The street vendors were a bit annoying but not as bad as we had read about in other reviews. The next port was Colon, Panama. We took an excursion call Two Oceans by Railroad. We road in an old but pretty train to Panama City on the Pacific Ocean. We were able to take some pictures and buy some sourvenirs, but then back on a bus to Colon. On the way back we stopped at Agua Clara which is a platform where you can watch ships go the the Panama Canal. It is a very different perspective than watching while you are on the ship. We also saw a short film about the making of the canal. The next day the Norwegian Joy went through the Panama Canal. We went through 3 locks to get to Gutan Lake. After about an hour, we turned around and went back through the same 3 locks, as our trip was round trip out of Miami. It was very cool to see the ship rise more than 80 feet from lock #1 to lock #3. This was a very enjoyable day. The last port was Puerto Limon. We went on a private tour with Relay Day Tours. The tour was excellent, and there is a lengthy review on TripAdvisor. We chose a private tour because we wanted a small group instead of a large busload. It was awesome! Overall I gave the cruise a 4 out of 5 stars. We did not give it 5 stars because of the extremely long wait at embarkation, the lack of activities during the day, the lack of pool lounge chairs, and some of the restaurants and shows did not impress. Otherwise, great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
For our 17th cruise, we wanted to experience the Panama Canal. We had taken NCL in Sept. to New England and in October around the Western Mediterranean. This 3rd Norwegian cruise was a charm. We are a couple in our 60's recently ... Read More
For our 17th cruise, we wanted to experience the Panama Canal. We had taken NCL in Sept. to New England and in October around the Western Mediterranean. This 3rd Norwegian cruise was a charm. We are a couple in our 60's recently retired and it's time to travel while we're still able to do so. While working and limited to 7 days off, we did the East, West, and South Caribbean total 10 times over 17 years. This time we went to the Panama Canal area. ABC isles, Cartagena, Colon, Panama Canal, and Limon. from Miami. 12 days on the Norwegian Joy 020220 - 021420. Our Embarkation was terrible as we had to wait outside for 2 hours in hot weather as we were in a Carnival terminal (why?) and all passports were checked slowly for recent travel to China in lieu of the new Corona virus concerns (that's good that we were checked). The ship was very nice. Clean, recently updated, and very comfortable but for a very small pool on Deck 16. Most of that area is empty for lounging. The pool takes up less than 5% of the open deck area. It made for easy seating to view the Superbowl on departure day. Even though out of Miami where the Superbowl was, we had a Latin America TV feed with commercials for soccer and Cricket. The same 3 commercials all game, at every time out. Our cabin was inside (as we like it dark) and had a large shower and bathroom comparatively but little storage space (36" closet with 4 shelves on the inside. So I put my underwear and socks above the bed and n my night table. So what? We're only in the cabin to sleep, and when we've previously had a balcony we didn't use it at all. The food offerings were very tasty buy sparse. We ate breakfasts in the buffet when we had early excursions so we'd get out quickly, but opted for the dining rooms on days at sea or late port arrivals so we could have our favorite smoked salmon not offered at the buffet. For lunch we ate at the buffet only because there was a greater variety offered that the dining rooms. For supper, we ate only 4 of 12 nights in the dining rooms because we didn't like the menu options offered. On our previous cruises in Sept. and Oct. 2019 on NCL we had shrimp cocktail offered each night as an appetizer option as well as salmon. These options were missing, but I found them on the Haven (luxury suites with their own dining room above deck 16) every night instead. That's NCL trying to get us to pay big bucks for a small food option now considered premium. Boo! But nobody was going away hungry, ever. Also, the many main dish selections in the buffet at lunch and dinner had dwindled from many to several, and we found salad selections mixed with hot foods, kinda doubling up on the facings of the same thing. Lunch meats were ham, salami or (salty) turkey. Salads were fresh and fine, fruits were apples, oranges, honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon and pineapple. only a handful of different hot offerings were given each day at lunch and dinner along with daily pizza, pasta, hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage, grilled chicken and french fries. White rice was everywhere. Onion soup was on every dinner menu buffet and dining rooms and only 1 other 'cream of'' soup: 2 soups daily. The India chef had a 'Taste Of India' section that was rarely visited by anyone and with dishes I never heard of before. I didn't go there at all. That should be fixed by rotating other country offerings nightly. But in general, all of the other food tasted excellent. Nightly entertainment was very good, with 3 shows (1 for fee - Wine Lovers) and broadway class performances of 'Footloose' and 'Elements' (same show we saw in the Western Mediterranean in October on the N. Epic (Now THAT was a ship with a lousy cabin setup). Other nightly entertainment offerings were a Beatles cover band twice in the theater and 4 times at the Cavern bar (excellent), 4 different comedians in the Social Club, and 2 singers (one was a duet 1st time including the cruise director DanDan who was a surprise tenor with a wonderful voice). Service in the buffet was excellent, and the dining room was hit or miss as we had only one bad experience. But I'd still give service 5 stars. I don't want to dwell on the ABC islands as many other folks have been there and we've been to Aruba and Curacao thrice before, but our Bonaire experience (first visit) was a bad tour vehicle with limited vision, no loudspeaker, and 2-1/2 hours until a bathroom stop and it was given by a tour operator Voyager Bonaire Tours. My mom said if you don't have something nice to say about someone, don't say anything. 'Nuf said. Shore excursions by NCL were very good but expensive. In the ABC islands, we opted for the excursion tents for tours to give the money to the locals. These tents are right outside the ship entrance. Except for Bonaire, Aruba and Curacao were very good and for $20 or $25 pp, you get an equivalent $79-$99 NCL tour. I don't want to dwell on the ABC islands here as many other folks have been there and we've been to Aruba and Curacao twice. But the Cartagena, Colon, and Limon ports had no such tents and also high crime rates in the first two. So we opted to stay safe and use NCL cruises to be safe and it was the right thing to do. We took NCL's "Exploring Magnificent Cartagena" as our tour. As soon as we got off the tour bus at every stop we were hounded by sidewalk vendors with jewelry, handbags, sunglasses, coin collection cards, you name it! Dozens, no hundreds of vendors suffocating us no matter which way we turned. It was worse than I could ever imagine. I sat down with my wife at an outdoors area for a drink and Columbian coffee (a must) and were besieged constantly by at least 20 of them in 15 minutes. We were safe but under duress. "No thank you". No thank you. No. No thank you. You run out of no thank you's all day long and at every stop. It was suffocating and left a bad taste of the city. The NCL tour there was very good, visiting the large fort "Castille San Felipe de Barajas" outside only (enough), then on to "Palacio De La Museo Historico de Cartagena" which showed the torture history of previous eras, and a cultural exposition "Exposicion Derivas" which featured a native dance troupe. Next day in Colon (as far as I'm concerned pronounce it both ways) we took the NCL tour "Former Canal Zone History and Miraflores Locks" and for $79 pp it was a bargain. We made a stop at a Latin 7-11 with 2 policemen standing guard with automatic weapons in front. Very clean but unsettling. We stopped next at the Goethals monument for a nice photo. After a total 1 hour drive, we arrived at the Pacific side of the canal.Then we went to the Miraflores canal locks. There was an IMAX theater (we didn't get tickets) and saw a 12 minute film. We then went up to a grandstand looking over the locks and watched as the locks opened and closed and a 5000 car carrying ship went through, guided by electronic 'mules'. It was a wonderful experience. When we left, we drove back to the ship, Just outside the ship is the slums, with partially demolished but standing buildings that look line WWII photos of bombed out streets. We were warned in advance not to visit as even near the ports people can be mugged in broad daylight without any repercussions. The next day was the Panama Canal transit. It started at 5 AM and we went through 3 locks, turned around and went back through the same by 2:30 PM. It was sort of Deja Vu as we witnessed it up close on the Pacific side the day before at Miraflores. It's still an engineering marvel not to be missed. The next day was our last port of call, Puerta Limon (Limon) Costa Rica. This is a nature area with rainforests. A Biologists dream come true. Again no port cruise tents here. We signed up for NCL's tour "Caribbean Train, Eco Cruise and Countryside" ($79pp). We were bused offroad first to an old rickety wooden 3 car train for a 50 minute ride through the rainforest. Take the seats on the left side as the right has the ocean most of the way. I loved it. Like traveling in the '30s. We got off and were taken by bus past a very large banana plantation for miles. We arrived at 'EcoJungle Natural Tours'a ' for a short river cruise past sloths, lizards, and birds. It was fun and enjoyable. It was also not full of bugs so I was told that the repellent I used was not needed. We went back for complimentary pineapple and tea and took the bus back to the ship. We had 2 days at sea to return to Miami. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
This cruise experience was truly a mix of positive and negative impressions. Our biggest frustration was that the Joy changed our itinerary without explanation less than a week before taking off. They eliminated a stop in Santa Marta, ... Read More
This cruise experience was truly a mix of positive and negative impressions. Our biggest frustration was that the Joy changed our itinerary without explanation less than a week before taking off. They eliminated a stop in Santa Marta, where we had planned to meet family members. We don't think it is fair to offer no explanation for changes of this magnitude. This is a newer ship that is spotlessly clean and beautifully decorated. There is a lovely Observation Deck and lounge on the 15th floor, with lots of nice seating and quiet space. There are a few nice places to sit outside along the 8th deck as well. Unfortunately, the ship pipes in music CONSTANTLY along the deck, as well as in the Garden Cafe (buffet). This can be very annoying, especially early in the morning when it is nice to have quiet time and also when you are seeking a quiet space to just listen to the waves, read a book, or enjoy the moonlight.Our stateroom was spacious and comfortable, with lots of storage and a large bathroom. Instead of having a private deck, we opted for a larger family room because we were originally planning to take our adult daughter who is handicapped. I'm glad we ended up not taking her . . . the elevators were very slow and extremely crowded. I would strongly recommend that the Joy consider having a handicapped only elevator and more handicapped accessibility features for the comfort of these guests. Another disappointing space is the Atrium. This area, which includes the guest services desk is being used as their main gathering space and it is SO loud and crowded! They set up folding chairs every day to accommodate the crowds. Unfortunately, there is no larger central dance hall space on the ship to handle large group events. There is also only one pool area with two fairly small saltwater pools and a kid's pool to accommodate over 4000 guests. So much space was used to provide a relatively unused race track, mini-golf course, and laser tag area. Remember, the vast majority of guests are over 60. There were other spaces for kids.Honestly, small hotels offer more pool space and bigger hot tubs than this huge cruise ship. The class system is alive and well on the Joy, giving lots of special privileges and choice spaces for those who can afford it. One of the biggest slaps to the average passenger is that all the reserved seats for the Social Club Comedy room were used up by Haven guests, so everyone else needed to wait in line for up to an hour if they wanted to see the shows. Again, the room is packed full with folding chairs to accommodate guests. In general, all the bars and clubs with live entertainment were much too small. Another solution would be to offer more entertainment with a more equitable distribution so everyone would have opportunities to to see them. The Beatles group was terrific, but again,the lines to get in the Cavern were sometimes over an hour long. Advance reservations to see Footloose and Elements in the theater are an absolute MUST because they are only shown on a couple nights. Most of the other entertainment was just okay, as was the food. We had both good and bad meals, with most being just average. The ship does not have ANY water filling stations, so in order to refill a water bottle, you need to go all the way to the cafeteria on 15th floor and fill it from water glasses. They would like you to buy bottled water, which is extremely wasteful and bad for the environment. We also had a mix of impressions of the Shore Excursions. In general, they were very expensive for what you receive in return. Norwegian Cruise lines should be ashamed for including and promoting the exploitation of human beings in Colon, Columbia. People are not to be gawked at as exhibitions, as the Embera people were on many of their sponsored Shore Excursions. Even if the Embera people volunteered to do this, it is reminiscent of the days when the US staged American Indian pageants, pretending that our native American people still lived as they did hundreds of years ago. The whole staged show is an inappropriate lie to the public in order to sell products, who seemed to eat it up as truth. it would be interesting to find out where most of the money for the products goes. If it truly goes to the tribes and if the products are truly made by the tribes that would be nice, but they could still be honest with the public about their current way of life and all it entails. The staff on this ship was EXTREMELY friendly and did an excellent job, from cleaning to waiting tables. We were very happy with that part of our trip and hope these people are paid well. Our itinerary to the Panama Canal, ABC islands, Columbia, and Costa Rica was wonderful, although we really would have liked to have had our day in Santa Marta, as well as have a morning time slot in Cartagena, instead of the hot afternoon. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Warm weather cruise in both the Pacific and Atlantic. Staff was ...as usual, outstanding. The ship was set to be refurbished at the end of this cruise. It needed it. Really could have been discounted because of the needed repairs. ... Read More
Warm weather cruise in both the Pacific and Atlantic. Staff was ...as usual, outstanding. The ship was set to be refurbished at the end of this cruise. It needed it. Really could have been discounted because of the needed repairs. Carnival has really fallen off in quality since we started with them nearly 35 years ago. Food quality and entertainment need upgraded. It would have been good to have had an expert on board or a movie prior to going through the canal to tell the story of the canal. The company needs to cater more to the group on the ship...only say two families with children as most folks were at least 55. Having the comedy start at 11 was past many bed times. Hate the game show entertainment...cheap. Wish the frequent cruiser program crossed with the sister company lines. Making everyone wait for the emergency drill at the start of the cruise while trying to roundup a few is wrong. Freeze their cruise card and then they have to attend later or assess a fee. Do not like the excursions for shopping when the only places allowed to shop are specific and no time to shop on your own. Love to have more big screen movies and in room movies. Get Fox News and ESPN in the rooms. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We loved everything about this cruise....except the comedian(so bad it was embarrassing- many people left halfway through his performance) and the Comedy Club hostess with her squeaky voice and her fake hair flips. The food experience was ... Read More
We loved everything about this cruise....except the comedian(so bad it was embarrassing- many people left halfway through his performance) and the Comedy Club hostess with her squeaky voice and her fake hair flips. The food experience was exquisite. Indrawan was our favorite waiter. Attentive, professional, and always smiling! The meals were delicious each day. The dining room was spectacular. The buffet stations on Lido Deck always had fresh, tasty food and smiling staff. The shore excursions were more about visiting the tour guide’s brother’s t-shirt and jewelry store. A lot of wasted time. Not enough time to properly look at the attractions. Were it not for the gamble of being left behind while doing non-sanctioned shore excursions, we would do exactly that. We could do much better for a lot less money. The performances in the theater were awesome. The staff there worked hard, and each night presented a great experience. Adam, the Cruise Director, did his very best to make sure we all had fun. The finale with the Lip Sync and the Passenger Song and dance show just proved that anyone can do a great job of entertaining with a little coaching and choreography. Sensational show! The Casino was better than I thought it would be. Didn’t make any money on the slots, but had some small wins to keep it exciting. Terrible sound system in the Casino, and smoky as usual. The poolside events on the Lido Deck were very loud, but they got a lot of people shaking and grooving. The DJ worked hard to make sure everyone was included. Bingo was a bust. Winning was almost impossible, and if it weren’t for Luis the Bingo Master, (who made it fun), it would have been a total waste. The Art sales and auctions seemed to be misplaced on the ship. It wouldn’t be my first choice of places to buy art, and then pack it or pay to have it shipped home. Fortunately, the Carnival Miracle is going into dry dock for refurbishment. It really needs some love! Lots of things need updating and painting. The deck furniture is uncomfortable and extremely noisy when you move it around. Not sure how to fix that, but it makes it hard to sleep while people on the next balcony are moving chairs around. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
On the good side, the staff or crew was very friendly and courteous. Food was good as well as entertainment. On the bad: 1) the wait to board the cruise was ridiculous 2) once in our room, hours later, we found a dirty bathroom ... Read More
On the good side, the staff or crew was very friendly and courteous. Food was good as well as entertainment. On the bad: 1) the wait to board the cruise was ridiculous 2) once in our room, hours later, we found a dirty bathroom and carpeting, beds not put together. We complained. 3) went to wait until the room was cleaned, beds put together, carpet vacuumed and were told the room was sanitizer but carpet would be shampooed when at the next port. It never was. 4) there was a second set of bunkbeds folded against the wall, right under the left and right side of our bed, every time we got up from the bed we bumped our heads until we got used to them, except at night when waking to go to the bathroom. 5) when we complained We were told we would be moved, never happened. 6) the entire ship was very cold but guess that's to prevent viruses. However, that should be told in advance for those who packed to go to warm climates! 7) tours where expensive as where salon services and photos. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
This was our 3rd cruise with NCL, 15th in total. We choose this cruise for the itinerary. I must say, being European and living in a mediëval city our expectations are high. You can not surprise us with a 19th century church. So ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise with NCL, 15th in total. We choose this cruise for the itinerary. I must say, being European and living in a mediëval city our expectations are high. You can not surprise us with a 19th century church. So history/culture and nature are the things we want to see. (CC why no history/culture in "Which of the following apply to your review?") We booked a balcony on deck 10 fwd., inclusive ultimate beverage package and 50 $ shore excursion credit. Boarding was ok and fast. But... no welcome drink. We immediately thought "economizing"...... Ship. The ship was very nice, even for its age! We prefer the smaller ships with no hi tech or roller coasters.... The "art collection" on board: no comments…. Cabin. The cabin was ok, right seize, clean and in a very good condition. Large safe for pc and cameras, even a coffee machine!. Small tv though. The bathroom has a door that closes off the toilet. Waste of space! I am 1,90m (6ft3) and needed that door open for "n°2". Dining. The MDR looked great: art deco style, must say the best of all the cruises we did before. Service was always excellent. (sometimes a bit to fast for us, but that's personal) The MDR menu was between mediocre and good. No more escargots, prime rib or lobster for the farewell. ("economizing"). Compared to other cruise lines we did, choice for breakfast was not as good. No mushrooms. But the icing on the cake we found out the 2nd week: there was smoked salmon for breakfast, but....it is hidden away. You had to ask for it were the bread stand was. Pleas NCL, better give nothing than hiding it away. You are not dealing with children but with passengers! We had an issue that there was only regular butter, no diet butter (a first in 15 cruises too). This was communicated to the F&B manager. What he (and the maitre D at the MDR) did for us was unbelievable. They know what customer service is. People at the office in Miami have to thank and learn a lesson from people like them. The last night my steak (ordered medium rare) was well done. For the first time on all the cruises we did I send it back. It came back.....well done. "Nobody does dining like Norwegian": luckily not..others are better. "Freestyle cruising": sometimes it was "no style cruising". We like it that there are no formal nights...but please in the main restaurant for dinner don't go in shorts.... Service. Was excellent. Everybody did their utter best. Just the "cruise director"....was a joke. Never saw her around. A cruise director should walk around the ship and be seen!!!! Entertainment and activities. We did not attend a show, nor activities. We just went to the presentation of het Panama Canal. Theatre was full, people sitting on the stairs. Normal: this is THE highlight and for many people the reason for the cruise. The explanation was given by "Darlene"....I should rather say the reading of the slides that were presented was done by Darlene. But the best was yet to come: at the end of the presentation she asked…..if there was a nautical lawyer or engineer in the audience to answer questions……????!!!!!???? This presentation had to be given by the captain or at least the staff captain since this is a nautical matter. Speaking of the captain....On this 3 week cruise, we saw him (passing by the martini bar) the one but last day of the cruise. Staff captain, 1st and other officers???Never seen! This was also a first in 15 cruises. Better work on a cargo ship! The only exception was the F&B Manager who was every night in the restaurants! Ports and shore excursions. Santa Barbara was a beautiful stop. Tendering went smooth. Rodeo Drive & Los Angeles tour was a disappointment. Not much to see there. Our guide did not even show us the "foot prints of famous movie stars" as mentioned in the tour description! (we found out they are in front of the Chinese Theatre, but to late...) Puerto Vallarta City sights: Nothing to see but a nice church. The description of the excursions is always so exaggerated. I'd wish they write a more honest description. Than you know what to expect. We always try to do an excursion without shopping. We can do that at home...Here we had a 40 minute stop in a silvershop. This was NOT mentioned in the tour description. Puerto Quetzal:Easy Antiqua: ok, but...40 minute Jade shop and 15 min photostop….. Corinto: Colonial City of Leon was ok Puntaresas: Pacific Train, Boat & Costa Rica traditions: started with the obvious shop (Costa Rica traditions were the guys playing music….) The "delicious buffet of seasonal fruits": a plate with a piece of banana, mango & pineapple. The "ride in a historical train through rural countryside and tropical fields"....what a joke! A ride in the slums would be a much better description. Luckily the boat trip was very good. Bonaire: Best of Bonaire: why did the ship stopped there anyway? Nothing to see. There were more flamingos printed on my polo....Tour was waste of money, and ship departed at midday, so no more time to walk around... Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and the time of year. This was our first cruise in many years and our first on the NCL line. We originally booked a mini suite and put a bid on an upgrade about 30 days before the cruise. We won ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and the time of year. This was our first cruise in many years and our first on the NCL line. We originally booked a mini suite and put a bid on an upgrade about 30 days before the cruise. We won the bid and were excited to have been placed in the Deluxe Owner's Suite #15500. The service there was wonderful and we had a delightful time. The Butler, Concierge, Room Steward and the Deck Steward were exceptionally friendly and helpful. More information about the room is the cabin section. Here are a few other observations: The Haven menus for breakfast and lunch do not change so toward the end of the cruise we tended to float around the ship to pick up food at the buffet or the grill on the pool deck area. But the service was so attentive that you could order anything at all and it would be there in a flash. The food was just okay in the complementary dining areas. It was plentiful but sometimes the descriptions didn't match what was prepared. I love hearty soups but most were a thin blended cream type soup. For example what was described as corned beef and cabbage as an entre was really a bland broth with some tiny diced potatoes, carrots and a bit of corned beef. I left a lot on my plate after getting samples of various items. They just didn't taste that good. For us the best specialty restaurants were Teppanyaki and Moderno. The others were fine but we especially liked the freshness of the food in these two restaurants. The $19 lobster in Cagneys is not worth the extra money. Tiny and only a couple of bites. The unlimited internet was worth it after we saw so many people on their phones and laptops off the ship in the port wifi areas. What a waste of port time to be trying to catch up on emails there. I don't think that the free 250 minutes would have lasted very long. The free beverage package worked for us. There were enough choices under $15 and if they ran out of a certain type of wine then they gave you the more expensive one without charge. The daily cocktail was usually $9. Unless you are really hankering for very expensive alcohol then this basic plan is fine. We also brought on board 15 bottles of our favorite wine. They didn't charge us the corkage fee. When we embarked in LA there was no one there to show the wine to. We looked. We mentioned at the time we got our cards but she just waved us through. And it was clear that we had it because it was in a cooler and was heavy. Went through security twice with no one asking about it. Maybe because we were in a suite? Don't know if that made a difference. The entertainment was very good but on this long of a cruise there were some repeats. Understandable. The musicians in the bars and on the pool deck were excellent. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Overall the Gem is a nice ship but the poor quality of food and lack of interesting activities made for a rather ho hum three week cruise. My wife and I chose this cruise because the itinerary because the ship was scheduled to stop at ... Read More
Overall the Gem is a nice ship but the poor quality of food and lack of interesting activities made for a rather ho hum three week cruise. My wife and I chose this cruise because the itinerary because the ship was scheduled to stop at many ports, most of which we had not yet visited. After boarding in L.A. and a quiet day at sea, our first stop was in Cabo and that was an exciting port - beautiful scenery and plenty of excursions from which to choose. We selected the Electric Bike tour and had a wonderful time. The power assisted bikes made the ride along a breathtaking stretch of beach very easy. The next port we visited was Puerto Vallarta - again, this port did not disappoint. Lots to see and do. We took a city bus to the Malecon - a beach side shopping district about 25 minutes via the city bus from the port. It was quite nice, filled with many souvenier shops and lots of tourists so safety was never a concern. We unfortunately took the wrong bus back to the port and got a scenic ride through the town - a concern since it took twice as long and concerned us that we would miss the embarkation time. Our next stop was Zihuatanejo, very scenic port but not much to do unless you've made excursion arrangements. Walking around the town was a bit depressing - very impoverished and the beaches though beautiful did not seem too inviting. Most were at least a 20-30 minute walk from the pier. The armed military around the tourist areas made you stop and wonder if the area was safe but nothing too much to worry about. why. Well, I guess if I write detailed accounts of every port you'll lose interest so let's just say the next few, Puerto Quetzal, Corinto, and Puntarenas offer very little to do unless you schedule an excursion - which we did not. The areas immediately surrounding the port offered simple diversions but nothing we found interesting. Guess that could be just our taste and limited budget. As others we talked with shared stories of fun excursions. After another day at sea we made it to the Panama Canal. This was our first time through the locks and the experience was quite exciting. We had to get up rather early to secure a good spot up at the bow but it made for a terrific view. The transit through the various locks was indeed one of the highlights of our trip. The next two stops were in Colombia, Cartegena - a bustling metropolis with lots of beautiful modern and ancient architecture to enjoy. The other stop was in Santa Marta - not quite as nice as Cartegena but still plenty to do if just walking off the ship to take in the town. The next three port were referred to as the A,B.C's. We visited Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire - one day after the other. These are each beautiful ports with lots of water activities. We did snorkel tours in Aruba and Bonaire - we had a blast on each. On Curacao we simply walked through the many shops and strolled through the town - it is very picturesque and offers a smorgasbord of color. The next three days were spent at sea. Norwegian Gem is a smaller ship and just did not offer enough activities to keep us busy or entertained throughout the day. The food was not that great - especially the buffet service. Most personnel didn't seem too friendly or willing to be of much assistance in answering questions. The ship lacked informative lectures as we have experienced on other cruises and the entertainment was a rather crab shoot of hit or miss. One standout though was our cabin steward. He did a terrific job of keeping our room tidy and always offered a smile and friendly greeting. Speaking of our cabin - it was an inside cabin that could accommodate up to four. It was an okay size for two - perhaps even three but four would be rather cramped. Our final port was New York. Never before have we arrived by ship; what a thrilling experience even though the wind and cold made it tough. The view was quite spectacular. All in all it was an okay voyage. We landed a great price so it helped to negate some of the negative factors, things like the constant sales for pitch for CruiseNext and the added expense for basic on-board activities. It could have been much more enjoyable had there been more on-board activities, better entertainment, and appealing food choices. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Good price, with free daily lectures. Wanted to try HAL again after many years and many cruises on RCL and Princess. Service and crew where very happy, friendly and efficient. Food was tasty great with lots of choices in Lido every ... Read More
Good price, with free daily lectures. Wanted to try HAL again after many years and many cruises on RCL and Princess. Service and crew where very happy, friendly and efficient. Food was tasty great with lots of choices in Lido every meal! Never ate in dining room. Won money in casino so that was great! Microsoft lectures where amazing from actual Microsoft employee and learned lots about many MS tools and apps. Photo shop provided "free photography lectures" from an actual National Geographic photographer -"Justin James" and learned many tips on improving my pictures! Really enjoyed all of the destinations especially Aruba because of the TukTuk Tour we took from a Expedia vendor. Wish HAL had large central public malls like RCL on some of their newer ships. Always enjoy sitting in a cafe and watch the people walk by. Eurodam just has a great VIB and loved this cruise. Would definitely go again. Highly recommend the Sting Ray swim excursion in Half Moon Cay. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Our first Carnival cruise that my TA set up for us almost 2 years ago. We had the Grand Suite, which was more than we ever imagined! The service was excellent and always courteous. The foods and entertainment especially Polaris I could ... Read More
Our first Carnival cruise that my TA set up for us almost 2 years ago. We had the Grand Suite, which was more than we ever imagined! The service was excellent and always courteous. The foods and entertainment especially Polaris I could listen for hours was beautiful! Chef's Table was outstanding and totally worth it. Veterans appreciation and Veterans Tea gatherings was a nice touch too. Loved my balcony as we went through the partial transit of the Panama Canal, I watched it on the tv screen and from my balcony. My husband went up to Deck 8, so we bought the cd of this amazing experience. We would do this again and Carnival with two ports Limon Costa Rica and Grand Cayman were beautiful. Excellent service and Excellent everything! So glad I got the Grand Suite too, got spoiled! The embarkment and debarkment was nice and smooth too. This was an Excellent experience! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I have always wanted to see the Panama Canal and it did not disappoint .My girls and my Grand daughter decided to to an all girl Cruise. The Crew was all amazing. My Stateroom Steward Aris was the best. As was the people he worked with ... Read More
I have always wanted to see the Panama Canal and it did not disappoint .My girls and my Grand daughter decided to to an all girl Cruise. The Crew was all amazing. My Stateroom Steward Aris was the best. As was the people he worked with always with a smile and a greeting. The ship was clean and well laid out. The entertainment was the best the singers and dancers were the best and when you seen them off stage they were were all very nice.The comedians were so funny my stomach hurt from laughing. The shore excursions were well managed and everyone took real good care of us!! I played Bingo with David, Oscar, Jose and DJ they were all GREAT! My next cruise will be on Carnival again. I have now done 3 Carnival Cruises and I will not go on any other line as I have not had the good feeling from other lines that I did from Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020

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