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52,825 Family Cruise Reviews

We had a great time on our B2B; much better than I anticipated after reading all the reviews. The ship, as it's been widely reported, is absolutely beautiful. Except for one incidence in the the Cantinella Wine Bar, the service ... Read More
We had a great time on our B2B; much better than I anticipated after reading all the reviews. The ship, as it's been widely reported, is absolutely beautiful. Except for one incidence in the the Cantinella Wine Bar, the service we experienced was excellent.We never experienced any attitude or MSC stare from anyone. In fact, I thought that most of the staff went above and beyond to make sure we were happy. We were in an Aft balcony cabin (#9225) and while there was definitely vibration, we slept great (although the mattress was hard IMO) and LOVED the cabin. Our cabin steward, Franck, and his assistant were fantastic. They brought our kids cookies every night and really went above and beyond to take care of us. We tipped them $20 at the beginning of each week and a little extra at the end. Room service was the fastest I have ever encountered on any ship. It always arrived within 5 minutes. With that said, the menu was extremely limited. No hot breakfasts are available and during the later part of the day or evening, you can only get a chicken club sandwich, tuna sandwich, grilled chicken caesar (yuck! way too much dressing), fruit platter or cheese platter. If you order an iced tea, they will bring you a can and you will have to pay for it. Once we asked for a pitcher of water and they said No. When the room service attendant came, we asked her and she happily brought one. Overall, we liked the food. Not all of it, but that's to be expected. We had late dining both weeks, although we requested early, and decided to try the late one night and then change it if need be. In the end, we preferred the 8PM dining as this allowed us time to relax after the beach/pool. We were at table 465 and had Wirawan as our waiter, Nyoman as our busboy, and Gaetano as our captain; all did an amazing job in accommodating our ever changing table. We were a large group that had different tables initially and each night (it seemed!) we would mix up the group and amount of people joining us. They never seemed to mind and always added or subtracted chairs as needed with a smile. We loved the Italian specialty dishes, especially the nightly pasta specials that were brought to our table by Gaetano. Each night, one of the captains would make a special pasta such as carbonara, penne ala vodka, pasta fagioli, etc and bring a few plates for us all to share. We also loved the desserts. The fish, on the other hand, was overcooked and dry. We ate all but two breakfasts and all of our lunches at the buffet as that was much more convenient for us with the kids. I can't complain about the lines, as I generally ate later so I really didn't encounter any. I thought the buffet food was far better than the NCL Dawn and I loved the salad bar at lunch as well as all the fresh fruit that was available. Also, each day at the buffet there was someone making a pasta dish and the buffet always included a specialty item such as grilled fennel sausage, pesto lasagna, cannelonni stuffed with veal. Yummy!! The eggs benedict and pain au chocolate are a must try in the dining room at breakfast. Pizza at the pizzeria (in the evening) was the best ever and free. Make sure you get it while it's hot and feel free to ask the pizza chef to make a personal pie for you. He'll be happy to do it. We had dinner one night at Shanghai and loved it. Try the moo shu pork; I'm generally not a big fan but it was superb. We also enjoyed the chicken/pork fried rice. Dinner for 4, with a bottle of wine, cost about $135 and we had quite a bit of food. We never made it to 4 Seasons but friends went the first week and said it was fantastic. It was closed the second week because the ship was crowded it was used for the overflow from the dining room, or so I was told. The shows were good although I'm generally not the type to go to every show. The first week, the shows were at 10PM or 10:30, which we all liked, as we went after dinner. The next week, the shows were at 7PM or 7:30PM. I think this was due to the fact that the group of the Irish Stars had use of the theatre during the first week. They were a fantastic group and we loved all of the Irish music at the pool each day as well as having the opportunity to spend time with Ronan Tynan. What an incredible person he is. Week 2 was entirely different than week 1. The ship was VERY crowded and the pool area was overrun with kids, including my 2! We missed the music at the pool although there was an Italian band one day. The kids LOVED the kids club the first week and refused to go the second week as there was just too many kids for them. I think they did a great job Week 1; they took the kids to dinner twice and to several shows. They had a carnival parade where they handmade the costumes and also played lots of games throughout the week, giving the kids the opportunity to win prizes. I spend alot of time at the casino the first week and didn't step foot into it the second! I love to play Texas Hold Em and they offer a 5/10 No Limit game. The house takes 5%, unlimited rake!! The dealers are nice but not very experienced. They hold a tournament each sea day at 4:30, $100 buy-in, 20% rake!!! Blackjack and traditional poker tables opened at 4:20 every day and craps and hold-em opened at 10:20 (sometimes 9:40) each night. I'm afraid I've rambled on a bit too long so I'll stop here and say once again, that we very much enjoyed our time on the Orchestra. I was pleasantly surprised and would consider sailing on MSC again. Any questions, ask away! Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
We are a family of four on a tight budget, looking for a good value for vacation during President's Week... well we found it. We paid $1425.00 for two adults and two children in an inside cabin, and it was worth so much more. My ... Read More
We are a family of four on a tight budget, looking for a good value for vacation during President's Week... well we found it. We paid $1425.00 for two adults and two children in an inside cabin, and it was worth so much more. My husband and I have enjoyed cruising as couple and then we went on a couple of cruises when my oldest was a baby, but this is the first time that the four of us have been on a cruise together. We had a great time. Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale has horrible traffic issues, we were stuck in a lot of traffic upon arriving to board the Orchestra. Checking in did not present any hassle, and in no time we were on board at the buffet. The ship is immaculate. We were very impressed by the cleanliness and the good hygiene. There are Purell hand sanitizer dispensers all over the ship, which we were thrilled about, as we encourage our children to wash their hands often. The Orchestra is a beautiful, elegant ship. We loved the Italian flair that the Orchestra offered us. Announcements are made first in English, followed by Italian, French, and Spanish. It was such a great experience for my children to hear the different languages, it was kind of like bringing them on a European vacation without ever leaving the US. The activities offered on board were good, ranging from aerobics, ping pong, minigolf, darts, tennis, basketball, and I'm sure a lot more that we didn't participate in. There were also dance lessons, wine lectures, bingo, Italian lessons, and ongoing activities by the pool. We went to an art auction, which was a great experience for my children. We wound up purchasing a Cinderella cell for my daughter. I never went to the Body & Mind Spa, the prices were too high for me. There is an Internet Cafe which costs 5.00 for 10 minutes, but the connection was temporarily slow when I was there. The daily program was chock full of information, sometimes it even got confusing. I like the way NCL organizes the program, by the time. MSC organizes the program to sort of resemble a newspaper with advertisements. It's easy to miss stuff. For example, we didn't realize one evening that it was a formal night, and I missed one of the port talks that I wanted to attend. After a few days, I got used to it. We booked two excursions, and one wound up being cancelled because of lack of participation. The first was Whale Watching in Cayo Levantado. This was absolutely spectacular. Humpback whales come into this bay for a few weeks in February to give birth. My son, who is 9, was thrilled and loved every minute of the experience. He counted a total of 17 whales. My daughter who is 5 got bored after an hour. But if you are prone to sea sickness, this tour night not be for you. You are out in the bay bouncing around in a small boat for about 2 1/2 hours. For me, the first hour was fine, and then I was miserable. The second excursion, which I booked for husband and son was the "Antigua Eco Hike," which consisted of a six-hour hike through the rainforest. They love doing stuff like that together, but nobody else signed up for that, and it got cancelled. By the time they were notified, it was too late to choose a different tour and were disappointed. The stateroom was tiny as expected, but impeccable. Florence and Bruce, (on deck 10) our cabin stewards, were phenomenal. Returning to a tidy, clean smelling cabin everytime was such a pleasure. As a family of four with young children, we really appreciated all their hard work. Dining was a lot of fun. Our waiter, Gede, in the Villa Borghese dining room was great. He taught our children tricks with drinking glasses and how to make funny things out of cloth napkins. On the last night our children made him a thank you card. His assistant Eko, was also so nice with the kids. The food ranged from good to excellent. All of their pasta dishes were absolutely delectable, having a real home cooked taste. There are some dishes that are always available, such as spaghetti bolognese, which was the best I've ever tasted, and the salmon, which was always very good. They even had pastina, which my kids love. The steak was okay. I ordered my steak medium, and it came out well done, and my husband ordered his rare, and he said his came out fine. My children only went to the children's club once, and it seemed fine. The point of this vacation was for us to spend family time together. Entertainment was the best that I have ever seen on a cruise ship. The magician was unbelievable, and kind of had a supernatural air about him. The dancers, singers, and musicians were all tops. Besides offering entertainment which appealed to the mainstream, I loved the way they tried to infuse Italian culture into the cruise, by also exposing passengers to opera and classical music. They gave passengers the opportunity to see some very high caliber performers. In one of the dance numbers, there was also the Venetian "Carnivale" theme. We loved that! Disembarkation was not too lengthy. The big problem was getting a taxi once you got off the ship. Port Everglades was a total zoo upon disembarking, the whole taxi situation is a disorganized nightmare. If you need to catch a flight back home and have little time to spare, you're better off arranging for some kind of shuttle. The big problem we had with this cruise was the smoking!! Smoking was very open and was not confined to areas which non smokers could avoid. There was smoking all around the pool area and in all the lounges, it really could not be avoided. My kids hated it, and this would be the only reason why I might not sail with MSC again. Other than that, it was a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
We have been on Radiance in 2006 and Freedom in 2007 which we sailed out of Miami. We stayed the night before in Hollywood and the hotel supplied a free shuttle to the Port the next day. We arrived to the Port at around 11 am. Port ... Read More
We have been on Radiance in 2006 and Freedom in 2007 which we sailed out of Miami. We stayed the night before in Hollywood and the hotel supplied a free shuttle to the Port the next day. We arrived to the Port at around 11 am. Port Everglades is much different: it lacked the carpeting, lighting and ambiance of Miami. However, the customer service, speed were superb. There was a slight delay in boarding as rumor had it that several travelers from the previous cruise had not gotten off the ship yet. However, later in the day, we did see a wedding that had taken place prior to our boarding. We were on the ship by noon and promptly went to the Windjammer. The Windjammer was predictable as from our previous sailing on Freedom 2 years ago. Beautiful presentation, lots of choices: healthful or indulgent!!! One note to those future passengers- they have smoked salmon, but you need to ask the Chef by the Fruit area- and they are too generous with the amount- and they are generous with the sliced red onion and capers. By the time we finished with our lunch, it was 1pm, and we took a chance by walking to our staterooms. Low and behold, they were ready and our luggage was outside our rooms (had adjoining balcony rooms). We met our lovely and attentive attendant, Iliana from Romania. We asked right away for the adjoining door to be opened- she asked if it was ok for it to be done a little later. I have no doubt if I said no, it would have been done. But it was opened before dinner as well as the balcony divider. We had main seating for dinner. We were a party of 4 and when we booked our trip, we had requested to be with a larger table- just to meet others, etc. We were seated at a table for 4-near the kitchen and the grand staircase. We had a great view for the wait staff entertainment(dancing, singing and the Chef parade). The Head Waiter was exceptional and our waiter, incredibly professional. The Ass't waiter was pleasant but not as attentive as we have had on the past cruises. Some differences from our last cruise in 2007, as remarked by our 14 year old daughter: they never asked our names, never offered a 2nd dinner roll( not to say that if we wanted it- we would have asked) and 'crumbs' were never swept away before dessert. Food was great- choices were fine and we noticed healthy choices marked on the menus as well as Vegetarian choices- for appetizer, entree and dessert. My husband and I Entertainment was abundant. We went to the comedy show, which as per previous reviews, were not favorable. It seems this comedian had just boarded the cruise this day and he was excellent.We really enjoyed ourselves. There were 2 Parades and several shows. If you you did not make it to the show, it was shown many times on the Television in the stateroom. And I must say, the choices on the television were much improved and very recent run movies. My husband and I did enjoy shows, Bingo, the cantilever hot tub, the solarium pool, Ben and Jerry's, and the Casino. My daughter and her friend, enjoyed Johnny Rockets, the teen areas, the arcade. Of course, we all enjoyed the shopping on the promenade (although not sure my husband did as much as my daughter, her friend and me). There was definitely an issue with the teen programs for us. My daughter is 14- to be 15 in 3 months; her best friend, traveling with us, just turned 15. The age groups are 12-14 and 15-17. One "counselor" was very strict and didn't allow either to be each others group and another was more lenient provided they acted appropriately. Fortunately or unfortunately, this was an issue for many teenagers. This allowed these teens to form their own group and enjoy the ship on their own. I think a lot more participation in the teen activities would have occurred if the age issue didn't cause a 'roadblock'. I hope RC will either reconsider the age group divisions, sign waivers or set up an overlap age group. I must say, my daughter states this should not influence your decision to go with this age group of children- she believes because of this- she met and connected with more. We had towel animals from day 2-5, but no chocolate on our pillows. I did ask our attendant about that. She said as per passenger surveys, 90% said they threw the chocolate away and RC discontinued it based on this survey. I enjoyed it and was disappointed it wasn't there- it was just a little nicety that is gone. We booked our excursions a few weeks prior to our cruise via the RC website. We were not disappointed. We choose to go with scheduled excursions from RC- just feeling a little more secure with safety issues and not missing the ship if there is a delay. We chose beach based excursions and none of us were disappointed. Each day and excursion seemed better each day. Our tickets for each excursion were in our rooms when we arrived on board. The disembarkation process seemed disorganized and cumbersome. Our original plan was to carry off our own luggage as our previous experience with Freedom- we got off the ship quickly but took a long time to get our luggage. However, to carry off your own luggage, you could only disembark at 8am or 10am- not in between. We decided to get tags and go through the regular process. We had yellow tags which as per the directions from RC, we were to go to the Theater at 9am- and not before as to not cause a 'traffic blockage' for those leaving. We got to the theater for 8:55- and they had already called our color tag and were leaving the theater. We were walked upstairs, a flight, through the corridor, and down 2 more flights- and standing for what seemed a while. It didn't seem organized and the crowds were frustrated. On the positive note, our luggage was there when we got off the ship into the Terminal- and was grouped by colors- no luggage carousel. We were able to find our luggage in seconds. We ended up on an extensive line for Customs- but I must say, despite the crowds, it moved swiftly and we were out of the terminal much sooner than I anticipated. Overall, our experience was excellent. And if you didn't cruise with RC before, you wouldn't know what was missing. The ship was immaculate(saw constant cleaning) and the staff was friendly. Occasionally you would need to wait for another elevator- but nothing significant. I will discuss our excursions in the Port Reviews. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
We decided to do a cruise for our anniversary, and we chose New Orleans as the port because we are frequent visitors. We also used the Harrahs discount and had free rooms prior to the cruise through Harrahs. We also like driving, and New ... Read More
We decided to do a cruise for our anniversary, and we chose New Orleans as the port because we are frequent visitors. We also used the Harrahs discount and had free rooms prior to the cruise through Harrahs. We also like driving, and New Orleans is the closest port to Chicago. We chose NCL, because one of the things we do not like about traditional cruises are the "formal nights". I do not want to "dress up" while on vacation. NCL was just what we expected, dress up if you want, or wear your swim suit all week long. We did wear resort casual to the formal dining rooms two of the nights. Embarkation was a breeze. We drove into the Erato Street terminal and Seacaps were right there and took our bags. The parking fee was $98, not too bad. We parked and went through TSA processing line, which took about an hour. Our cabin was ready at 2:00 PM. First impression was small, and hard to maneuver in the bathroom. But again I have nothing to compare it to. We did get used to it. The cabin was decorated nicely, if a bit dated, but the desk, table and chairs were pretty worn and need replacing. The Spirit was re-fitted this Winter, but I am sure it was only the common areas that got the attention. Balcony had plenty of room. Balcony railing glass had salt scum that spoiled the view, a recurring complaint I see in other reviews. I requested it be cleaned, but my apologetic housekeeper said it must be done by outside crew that rides in the maintenance basket. It was not cleaned on our trip. Common areas were beautiful, and you can tell they work hard to keep everything spotless. All food was very good, we did not eat in any of the premium restaurants. Wait staff was superb. Entertainment was also very good. The theater was just gorgeous. We are casino people, and the casino on board was nice. We always found a machine available, and I actually hit a Royal on video poker! Great bar crew in the casino. We did three shore trips. Costa Maya - toured the Mayan ruins, was a great trip and great guide. Guatemala city tour - glad I went, but will never go back. St. Thomas de Castillo is a very poor area, and there is no "city center" that we saw. Belize - did the trolley tour and jungle bike ride. Recommend both. Belize I could see going back to visit again. Cozumel - no tour, just got off and went through the high-pressure souvenir shopping experience. Debarkation, another hour of waiting in line. Decided to use the stevedore service which gets you through customs a lot faster. There were two customs agents for the stevedores, only one for the people carrying their own bags. So once you reach your luggage, it puts you right out the door, and he took the bags to my car and packed my trunk. I was so happy I tipped the guy a $20. All considered, a great time. I would definitely do NCL again, but would chose another ship. Been there and done that! Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Finding the Exit ramp to get to the New Orleans Port was not an easy task. Having never been to New Orleans, The directions I had got shady around I-10 and state route 90 so we found ourselves roaming some of downtown New Orleans til a ... Read More
Finding the Exit ramp to get to the New Orleans Port was not an easy task. Having never been to New Orleans, The directions I had got shady around I-10 and state route 90 so we found ourselves roaming some of downtown New Orleans til a stranger and signs helped get us there. Embarkation went real smooth with very little wait time. We Arrived about half way into Embarkation. We parked in the parking garage there in the Cruise Pier for New Orleans price was $14.00 per day and was paid in advance. We tipped the bag handler well right inside the parking garage and it paid off, as our bags reached our room before we did(a carnival first for us). It took us about 20 minutes to get our sail and sign cards and get on board the ship. We did not have passports and went with the Birth certificates and Drivers licenses. Had no trouble. This was our first cruise on a ship less then 100,000 tons so we noticed immediately the smaller size of the show theater and main entrance atrium. The layout of the ship is pretty much the same as the other carnival ships. We booked at the last minute and took the last room available which was located on the lowest deck for cabins Rivera. THe Room was about two rooms from the Front elevators but we had no trouble with the location as we heard very little in the way of traffic from or two the elevators. Our Room had double uppers. Yet due to where they were located we only used one due to fear of people smacking their heads if they sat up in the night on the queens sized bed. Room: Pros- Close to the Front of the Ship we enjoyed easy access to the Disembarking area of the ship, The Theater and Information Desk. The room had two uppers and could have held 4 as long as the people on the bed were not afraid of tight spaces. Cons- The room needs some repairs from the moment we got in it. The upper I used had a railing that would not lock in place and there was a light that had no end cap. If my 3 year old found something long enough it could have been dangerous. The bathroom was ok but the shower had a water temperature issue. Could not keep the temp of the water steady as it went from 40 to 100 degrees in a slow constant swing. This made taking showers miserable. Also the room was far from the restaurants/buffets and camp carnival. Service/workers- Now the service was a bright spot as we found many of the crew going out of their way to make our trip enjoyable. We even remembered the names of a few people not taking care of our own room as they would joke with us as we walked down the hall. Food- Food service was a weak spot. It was hard at peak times to find a table and we had to clear off some dirty dishes at times so that we had a place to eat. It was hard to figure out which part of the buffet style dining was open at any given time and often the food was dry, or had very little flavor. The drinks were good. The one night in the Main dining turned us away for the rest of the trip as we only had two people come by and get our food going. The time between the courses was long and we could not find anybody when we needed them. Ship- We found the ship very clean for the most part but we could not enjoy the pools much as the temperature was always in the low 60's and the water was on the cold side. Nightlife- Now at night the ship excelled to most other cruises we had been on. The DJ playing in the Electricity Disco club had good modern music blasting and kept plenty of people on the dance floor all night and some of the deck parties on the Fantasy excelled to some of the other cruise lines. Camp Carnival- Was a life saver, Our daughter could not get enough and going to Camp Carnival was the highlight of her day as she always had fun and the counselors always were keeping them entertained. This allowed us to go to a few adult shows and enjoy some time in the casino. Overall THe ship did well but due to the time of the year in which we were cruising and a few minor issues we did not feel it was worth sailing on it versus a larger ship. The Waterworks did not impress me and its location took you away from everything else going on. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
After a nice flight from White Plains to Fort Lauderdale we arrived at Il Lugano Hotel around 11:00 PM on Friday February 13, 2009. Il Lugano is a relatively new 4 star hotel at the Intercoastal, 1 block from the beach. The hotel is ... Read More
After a nice flight from White Plains to Fort Lauderdale we arrived at Il Lugano Hotel around 11:00 PM on Friday February 13, 2009. Il Lugano is a relatively new 4 star hotel at the Intercoastal, 1 block from the beach. The hotel is astonishing! Modern, sleek design with an Italian flair. The room was on the 9th floor with open views. The only word to describe the room is huge. Living room, dinning area, kitchen, bar, laundry room, separate bedroom. Both the living room and the bedrooms have sliding doors to the spacious balcony. Complimentary Continental breakfast. It was a shame we arrived at the hotel at night and couldn't use the pool,the exercise room or just lounge in the well appointed cabanas overlooking the water. The only problem with the hotel was getting a taxi to go to the port. The concierge radioed for a car but it took almost an hour to arrive. So, make sure you call for a car before you even go downstairs for breakfast. The hotel is 6 miles from port and the fare was $25 dollars. However, from the airport to the hotel it took about 30 minutes and we paid $55 dollars. Even though I loved Il Lugano I wouldn't stay there again because of the distance and the car fares. Also not being on the beach was a minus. But I love discovering new hotels and this one was a great discovery. We had Penthouse 7036 so we had priority embarkation. When we arrived they asked for our cabin # and escorted us through security and check-in was a breeze. We were escorted to the ship and also to our cabin where Patricia, the concierge, showed us our room. Beautiful! The foyer, powder room, kitchen, dinning area, office area, living room, bedroom, bathroom and walk in closet. The verandah was huge with a hot tub that fits 4. I loved the earth color of the room. Very relaxing. We ate breakfast everyday in the cabin. Actually, we spent a lot of time in the cabin. It was so beautiful that it was difficult to leave. We booked a retreat cabana, Naples on the port side. Loved it. It was a meeting point for us. The attendants were nice and service was good. Lunch was included as well as champagne and strawberries in the afternoon. I-pod and Evian water were available as well as bathrobes. Bathrooms were on the same deck. The only drawback was going to the pool. We had to go down 2 decks since the cabanas are on deck 11 and the Lido pool on deck 9. And we had to go inside walking in the air conditioning decks to get out in the sun again back and forth. I think that's why I was feeling my throat at the end of the cruise. I don't think I would book a cabana again because of that and also it didn't look like getting a chair on sea days was a problem at all. After the first day my husband and my daughters got tired of the same lunch menu at the cabana and just ended up going to the Lido for lunch. I loved the Pita Pocket and had one every day. Our first port was Grand Turk. My daughters did the Flowrider and had fun. They were tired after 1 hour of going against the "flow". But they had a great time and I took some funny shots of them falling. I didn't think the beach was that nice. Make sure you bring water shoes because it's very rocky getting in the water. Unfortunately the water was too cold for my likes even though the water looked beautiful. The pool area is very nice but again the pool was also very cold. I would like to go back to Grand Turks again when the ocean water is warmer so I can swim a little. Next port was San Juan. We've been to San Juan many times and every time I love watching the ship sail past El Morro. Make sure you are on the port side if you want to see the Old Fort. This time we took the Rain Forest excursion. We loved it! We had a great guide, Carlos was very funny. The Rain Forest was very interesting and beautiful. Great pictures. We had perfect weather. Not too hot and not too cold. Just right. After the tour we walked around old San Juan and had lunch before walking back to the ship. After San Juan we stopped at St. Thomas. We've been to pretty much every beach in St. Thomas so this time we decided to take The Ultimate Tour which included a drive around the island with great picture stops. 2 hours at Mageans Beach (again the water was a little on the cold side)and a visit to Blackbeard's Castle. Since the Eurodam was berthed further away from town we took a cab back and paid $4 per person. I have to mention that every time we went back to the ship there was a cold towel waiting for us to freshen up and cold lemonade. That's service! Our last stop was Half Moon Cay. This is probably my favorite private island. It's just beautiful. The beach is gorgeous and you don't feel like on top of each other like the other little private islands. This one is actually spacious. Very pretty. We had cabana # 11 Grey and a butler. I don't think I'll have a butler again. It was not worth it. My husband doesn't drink and I only had 1 Margarita because it's impossible to have more than 1 drink in such short period of time. We arrived at 10 AM and by 1:30 PM they were already cleaning the cabana. The food was good but again between the snacks that come with the cabana and lunch at 1 PM we didn't have time to be hungry to enjoy a meal. I didn't think either the cabana or the butler was necessary. Next time I'll just rent a clam shell and have lunch at the bbq pavillion. Actually, my husband and one of my daughters went to the bbq and said the food was better and a lot of choices were provided. In summary, Eurodam is a beautiful ship. Art work everywhere. Fresh flowers. Attention to details. Very good service. Food was good. Shows were good. I really can't think of anything bad to say about either the ship or the crew. From the men who were always cleaning the common areas to Susan the Cruise Director, they always had a smile on their faces. I didn't encounter a single problem during our cruise and after 25 cruises I know what is good and what isn't and if I'm paying for it I want good service. And that's what we had at the Eurodam. A Dam nice cruise! Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Let me start by saying that those who take the time to write these reviews do so in the honest hope of helping others make wise decisions before booking a cruise. We all want to have the best time ever after spending of our hard earned ... Read More
Let me start by saying that those who take the time to write these reviews do so in the honest hope of helping others make wise decisions before booking a cruise. We all want to have the best time ever after spending of our hard earned money, and whats written here can help to make or break that dream come true trip. I booked this cruise a year in advance based solely on "itinerary". The ports seemed exciting and unusual verses the overpacked overpriced normal caribbean stops. We arrived at the FLL port around 1:00pm for a 7:00pm sailing. Embarkation was easy, taking all of 20 minutes and we were walking on board. They do take a picture as you board ship, but as I will probably mention again, there is no thought or set-up put into it. It's just kinda "snapped" as you walk by. On board we were escorted directly to our room, and in trying to be correct, I tipped this person who excepted it and seemed to expect it. The cabin (I guess I'll start here!), was clean and TINY!!!! Unless you choose one of the few suites on board (which I HIGHLY recommend), your cabin is 140 square feet. Take out the bathroom, the closet, and the two corner units, and you really have very little room left. Ours was set up as a double for a married couple which meant walk in and jump on the end of the bed. There was one little chair at the desk. The other person, should you decide to order room service, will sit on the bed to eat. Many guests suggested having the beds pulled apart and pushed to the outer walls which opens up the middle space for a bit more room. Those same guests (most have cruised over 20 times) said these are the smallest cabins they have ever seen on a ship. Bathroom is clean, orderly and tiny. You can stand in the tiniest shower ever, and reach every other spot in the bathroom. Ok...tour of the ship.....nicely laid out.....extremely clean. Here we go.......Food on board......(or lack thereof) Other reviews I read and didn't pay attention to are 100% correct. There is not much food to be had. My husband and I love room service for breakfast. This consisted of coffee, tea and some dinner rolls! There was no other choice. Other choices for the day are 3 cold sandwiches. Lunch and dinner buffets on board were ok, but times were very limited, and the seating inside was pathetic. Once in 10 days were we able to find a seat. There's plenty of outside seating, unless you have 7 days of rain like we did. We actually gave up and carried trays to our room to sit on the bed. Food choices were ok, but like others....I think it was choices left over from dinner the nite before. Dinner in the dining room was our high point each day. We chose "late dinner" a year in advance of this trip, and were assigned to "early"....go figure!!!! We decided to give it a try and were seated at a table for 6 who all spoke English. Our meals were quite good, and our waiter while nice, spoke very little english, and what he did try to say, we didn't understand. Many course were missed. We had three Gala nites on this trip, and all were scheduled on days we were in ports. With a 5:30 seating, there was no time to get back on the boat and change for dinner. I agree with others this is ridiculous and MSC would be wise to schedule Gala nites on sea days where people could relax, enjoy the spa services, salons, and then have time to dress. 5:30 is really early to eat and that dinner time should probably be pushed to 6:00 at the very least. On one Gala nite, we were on tour of the Panama Canal (which apparently always runs late), and got back on board at 5:35pm. We went to dinner in shorts and tank tops, while others were dressed for the Gala evening. Embarrassing, and ruined my evening! After dinner folks......there IS NO MORE FOOD!!!!!!!! By day three, I had learned this fully, and started filling my purse with dinner rolls left on the table!! To be completely honest, MSC could say there is food (snacks) served at 11:00pm each nite in the lounges. BUT....you will only be offered these IF you sit down and order a drink!!! Our midnite buffet was on the 9th nite of the cruise at 11:00pm, and that was the only nite my husband and I saw food after 8:00pm. You will be wise to pack a suitcase of "survival food" for this cruise! Remember....no pizza after 8, no free ice cream at ALL, no drinks, NOTHING!!!!! Quick port review. Our first stop was to be Costa Maya. On board we're handed a sheet that says tomorrow is "COZUMEL"!!!! HUH??? No use in arguing over it at the desk. No one speaks enough English to have a conversation! MSC will change your ports at their will with no explanation and NO advance notice. The web site said up until our sailing that I was going to Costa Maya. Other ports on this trip were fine altho we were very late in arriving at Columbia due to late departures from Panama. The Dominican (Samana) stop is to short for much of a tour, and the tender boats tend to waste a good portion of your time there. Tours at each stop were well worth the money with good guides altho the language thing is difficult. Each tour guide explains things in several languages to accommodate those on the tour, and English was always tuff to understand. And may I add that on our other cruises, they have always offered very nice pictures at each port stop while your getting off the ship. I usually buy these as a remembrance of that stop. MSC only took them twice out of five stops, and again....they were just snapped as you walked off. Kind of sad. They just had no quality and meant nothing. Entertainment........we went to the shows every evening. We like the shows, and there really was nothing else to do on the boat at nite. Your choice is to stand in a smoky rather small casino, sit at the computer lab ($5 for 10 minutes), walk the decks, or go to bed. The theater seating was comfortable, and the acts each evening good. The cruise director who introduced each show and said goodnite, was difficult to understand, and we have to say....that was the only time in 10 days that we ever saw her. Each show for our dinner seating went from 8:30pm to approx 9:15. And after that folks.....if you don't want to drink or gamble.......YOUR DONE!!! Walk the decks alone looking for food or drink? There is NOTHING. Pools are cleaned and closed....everything is shut down and scrubbed down, and it's just a very lonely place to be. For a final note to my review, I'd have to end this by saying we will eventually go cruising again, but never on another MSC ship. The Italians have alot to learn about sailing winters in the Caribbean. And they really need to look into staffing to include some more English speaking employees. And P.S. remember.....it is allowed to change your tipping up until the day before the ship docks. They just hand you a paper to write on what you'd like your total tip to be and who you'd like it paid out to. You couldn't specify a person, just a group, so if you detested your maitre'd, you couldn't really not include him with the kitchen staff. But as far as lowering the total we gave, I had to stand in line quite awhile with others doing the same, and from the comments we heard, I'm guessing everyone on the ship had done so. Maybe MSC will catch onto some "issues" by noting the decline in tips huh? My husband and I were anxious (along with almost the entire rest of the passengers) to get off that boat. We'd had 10 days of what we termed "gibberish",(non-understandable English) and needed a break from not understanding anyone. Debarking the ship is your normal sit and wait game. We were corralled in the theater area for 90 minutes before being called, and once off, immigration took another hour in a line. I'd say this cruise had an average age of close to 60. If your looking for a family cruise, this is not it. Very few children on board. And so many languages!!!!! When we got home, I signed onto Cruise critic right away, and noticed a review by someone who apparently took this same cruise the 10 days it was offered before ours. I'll finish by saying that everything that person wrote described our story exactly!! So what I haven't written and don't have time to write, they did! Take these two reviews, and please consider your options. If anyone from MSC reads this.......please consider some changes to improve what you have to offer. We are glad to be back home, and while I'm thankful for any vacation I get, this one will certainly NOT go in my top 20 category!!!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Arrived in Tampa the day before which was key. Quality Inn Midtown Had a free shuttle to hotel and paid $20.00 for four of us to pier. The hotel was not fancy...clean though and people were extremely nice. Embarkation was a dream. ... Read More
Arrived in Tampa the day before which was key. Quality Inn Midtown Had a free shuttle to hotel and paid $20.00 for four of us to pier. The hotel was not fancy...clean though and people were extremely nice. Embarkation was a dream. Very nice people at port! We arrived at pier 11:15 and were on ship by 11:45 sitting by pool. Wear your bathing suit under your clothes! We were told we could get into room at 1:30 but did not need to or try to. Checked on luggage at 2:30 and it was there waiting for us. We asked for 6:00 dinner but were given 8:00 dinner because we booked in January for February cruise. There was large demand for 6:00 dinner time because of the amount of families on board. Went to see the Maitre'd and he was wonderful! We ate at 8:00 the first night (son was falling asleep on his napkin) and were given 6:00 dinner for the rest of the cruise. Table was wonderful! We were seated with two other families of three each. Children the same age as ours...very thoughtful of George. Very nice people! Our waiters were beyond wonderful! By the second night knew exactly what we liked! Cabin was very clean! Room steward was excellent! Did not see too much of him but he was very pleasant. Learned out habits of when we woke up and were out and room was always clean when we got back! Ice always there. Cabin number was E199...perfect location. Quiet, close to the atrium, one floor down from dinning room, close to stairs. We had a perfect location for the serenity deck! Back stairs led right to it! We would send kids to shower and sneak there for a while. Grand Cayman...been there twice before...always nice! Too short though with the tender. We booked the beach break and were off boat before general debarkation. I believe we were there at 8:00 and off by 8:30. 7 mile beach..sea grape beach...very nice! Margaritaville was a hoot! My daughter loved the slide...check it out. Expensive though! We sat across from pier with a drink and watched people line up for tender. When line got short we hopped on. Cozumel...been there twice before also. One of our favorite places to go! Getting off was easy...off by 11:30. Took the jeep tour to Punta Sur. Jerry and Poncho! Great time! Husband did the snorkel while be sat on beach. Beautiful beach with very few people on it! Snorkel...need to be a good swimmer they go pretty far. One man rides wave runner in case someone needs a tow back and another on boogie board. Saw crocs, light house, and small aztec building. Had mexican food on the beach. We stayed on shore till last minute. Shopped and had drink right until 7:30...almost last people on boat! Boat left at 8:00. Taxi drivers very friendly. Visited Margaritaville Cozumel...no more water trampoline...very pretty though. Two days at sea...enjoyed the pool and slides! Serenity was very peaceful! Lots of pictures taken by photographers! Kids went to kids clubs here and there...both enjoyed them. The 14 year old especially enjoyed Circle C and Casey (I think was here name.) Shows were good. The two comedians were great! We went to the two "R" rated nights...not too raunchy. Laughed alot! Debarkation was fine...waited by pool for our level to be called. Found luggage easily and took shuttle to airport. The ship was beautiful! We were on the Inspiration before the work was done. We loved her then and loved her even more this time! My son loved the slides and mini-golf! Great service all around! No dishes were ever left anywhere...very clean! Would go again in a heart-beat! Great price!!!! Loved the assistant cruise director Henny (don't know how to spell) Bye bye, I said bye bye! Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This was our second, and last, cruise on Disney. I'm tired of Disney's "do it our way or no way" attitude. It started with reservations. They would not honor my request to be located on the same deck as my ... Read More
This was our second, and last, cruise on Disney. I'm tired of Disney's "do it our way or no way" attitude. It started with reservations. They would not honor my request to be located on the same deck as my daughter's family. We were located five decks away on the opposite side of the ship. Reservations didn't even attempt to lie to me and say, "we'll try, but can't guarantee it." Poor customer relations training there. Disney cruises are generally overpriced and their level of service does not justify paying a premium price. In service and accommodations, Disney cruise lines does not stand out from other cruise lines, yet they have an unjustified attitude of superiority. We can't complain about our personal staff on board however. Our room stewart was very attentive, fast and efficient. Our wait staff was great and very attentive. The itinerary for the three-day cruise should be redone. Nassau is not much fun especially with five cruise ships in port. Castaway Cay is excellent, but always crowded at the family beach. Get there early to stake out your spot. The food was okay, but not exceptional. The kids meals were very poor quality. Bar service was very good. The drink waiters were excellent and had a great attitude. Entertainment was lacking for adults. If you don't have kids, don't go to the shows. However, the Disney movies offered in their theaters were new and appealed to adults and kids. I must be invisible because I was never asked by management, i.e. higher wait staff, guest services, anyone in uniform, if I was happy with my food, the bar service, my stateroom or anything else. I was not a valued guest. The only chance I had to offer my feedback was a written survey. You would think someone would attempt to communicate with you to seek your opinion. It's just good customer relations. The Wonder has a tired look. The staterooms are well worn by now and have some maintenance problems. Our bathroom door would not latch so you had to use the lock each time to keep it closed. Embarkation was very fast and efficient . The debarkation, including customs, was the best I have ever experienced. Disney does excel in this area. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Background My family's cruise aboard the Disney Wonder (February 5 - 8, 2009) was one of firsts. Although my husband and I have been working diligently on become seasoned cruisers (7 to my name, 5 to his), this cruise was ... Read More
Background My family's cruise aboard the Disney Wonder (February 5 - 8, 2009) was one of firsts. Although my husband and I have been working diligently on become seasoned cruisers (7 to my name, 5 to his), this cruise was our first short cruise, our first Disney cruise, our first time driving ourselves/parking at the port and perhaps most importantly, the first cruise we do with our daughters (ages: almost 3 and 4). We had a land vacation in Orlando booked for the first two weeks of February when hubby and I began to consider a three-night cruise to introduce the girls to cruising... we would already be there we reasoned, and we thought a short cruise would good as a try for our little ones. We could only imagine the hell a 7-night cruise would be if they didn't like it. We were looking exclusively at cruises out of Port Canaveral and landed upon the Carnival Sensation. Although we hadn't cruised with Carnival since 2001, the price was right, we had additional incentives as past guests and we thought this might be a good line for the girls. Imagine my surprise when one day I read on Cruise Critic that the ship was going to be in dry dock when I was supposed to be on it. Apparently Carnival had neglected some of its Canadian bookings when making the cancellation notices. At that point we dropped the idea entirely. But you know what the cruise bug is like.... Once it's got you it just keeps eating away. Imagine my delight when one day I saw an ad announcing Disney's "kids sail free" promotion. Although it was pricier than options out of Miami (despite the kids being free), it felt like it would be a good fit for our family. To my surprise, hubby didn't need any convincing and told me to "book it immediately." We began coaching the girls about how we were not only going to Cinderella's castle but were also going on Mickey's ship and tried to prepare them for what to expect from the experience. We're experienced cruisers... or so we thought. I'm pleased to say that Disney surprised us in ways that we didn't think possible. I'm truly in awe of their ability to really make the "magic" happen. It's real and my whole family felt it during our time aboard. Boarding/First Impressions The Disney terminal is quiet nice and easy to flow through. Arriving at 11 hubby unloaded our bag (yes, only one), the kids and I then went to park in the nearby surface lot. Within minutes he joined us and we were through security. We had no line up to check in and inside of 20 minutes of us pulling up, had our "key to the world" in our hot little hands. I then went to a short line to confirm my 4 year old for the Oceaneer's Club (having registered online ahead of time was a real time saver) and was assigned a pager. After a short wait spent coloring in the Princess magazines provided, our boarding number was called and we were on the gangway leading to the ship. The first nice touch was being announced as we boarded. Something I would have considered cheesy on another line felt special with Disney and we immediately sensed we were going to have an entirely different cruise experience right off the bat. We went to Parrot Cay immediately for lunch since the timing was right and the girls had begun asking for food. While dining a few characters, including Minnie, came through and stopped by the see the kids. Interestingly, the 4YO talks about Minnie ruffling her hair as one of the highlights of the trip. We were also blessed with a fantastic waiter (Kiatt, I believe) who humored our kids with balloon animals (and multiple repairs) and kept them happy for the time we were there. We couldn't believe how well he engaged our children and how kind he was. Leaving the dining room, we knew we were in for a good, very family-oriented experience - one where we didn't have to apologize for our kids acting their age and for bringing them on vacation (which is how I thought I might be made to feel on a cruise with our kids). The Ship/Stateroom The Wonder is a beautiful ship, with a gorgeous atrium area that really has a whimsical elegant feel to it. Lots of marble, beautiful textiles and a refined feel intermingling with Disney characters and themes. I was blown away by the completely different look and feel the designers created in the Route 66 area where even the washrooms and elevator doors looked like we had stepped off the ship. Despite being 10 years old, we found that for the most part, the ship was in excellent shape. Very well maintained and clean. There were few areas where she showed her age, although that's not to say there weren't areas of wear. Our stateroom for example, was one of the few areas where we did see some wear. There was significant scuffing on the walls from luggage and there was some water damage (rust/lifting) to the panel around the tub. That being said, we were completely blown away by our stateroom - category 10, deluxe inside. The cabin was larger than all the other cabins I've been in, including outside categories on other lines. There was ample space for us to live and I loved the bathroom set up. The split toilet/shower was very convenient but most important to me was the half bath so that I could bathe my girls (had enough space to do them both at the same time). I still don't know how I would get them clean if we were on a Princess ship for example with those teeny tiny "showers." Dining We were curious to see how we would enjoy the dining experience (different restaurants each night with same service staff) and I am pleased to report that it was fantastic. We had a great service crew consisting of Jan as our head waiter and Jackie as our assistant waiter - they were knowledgeable, efficient and friendly. They did a fantastic job of making recommendations and even more importantly, providing us with great tips of what to do later in the evening and the next day. Like all the other staff we encountered, they were great with the girls and very non-threatening. I believe they were part of the reason why we were able to enjoy a lengthy dinner each evening without any tears or trauma. We were also impressed that walking into the various restaurants on the appointed evening the table was set up for the kids: one booster seat, one high chair, child proof cups with water and a place mat for coloring with crayons. We enjoyed all three dining rooms (Triton's, Animator's Palate and Parrot Cay) and found the change of venue a really nice touch enhanced by the consistency of having the same wait staff each night. The menus offered a nice amount of variety in line with the theme of the particular restaurant and we enjoyed all of our meals which were on par or better than cruise fare I've experienced in the past. We had breakfast in a different place each morning (Triton's, the buffet, Parrot Cay) and found them all to be quite good. We were particularly impressed at the quality of the offerings at the buffet as these can range from good to poor. The buffet is well organized with a nice variety of breakfast goods. Everything tasted fresh and hot stuff was warm and cool stuff was cool. We had lunch on deck at the grill the day we were in Nassau and on Castaway Cay and again found the food to be good and the set up organized. We were particularly enamored with the beverage stations that had a variety of sodas, milk and coffee available (in the buffet, by the kid's pool and soda station at Castaway Cay). It was nice being able to get your own drink at your convenience and not to have to get out your card to pay for each cola. One area of disappointment was the coffee bar. I had hubby pop in to get us specialty coffees on our day in Nassau as it was quite cool. We had very much enjoyed the coffee bar on our Alaskan cruise with Princess and though the added cost was worth it. We were very disappointed in the quality of both coffees we purchased. Maybe it was an off day but they weren't good and certainly not worth purchasing. Oceaneer's Club We were sure to check out of Oceaneer's Club during their open house after eating lunch on embarkation day. Both girls loved the set up and enjoyed themselves as they explored and played. We knew that this would be a popular destination for the 4YO (unfortunately her little sister couldn't join as she is a few months shy of her 3rd birthday and in the process of potty training). Indeed, our eldest daughter spent a few hours in the club the next day when we were docked in Nassau and thoroughly enjoyed it. We pulled her out for lunch and a rest (as we wanted to keep them up late for the Pirate Party that night) but then dropped her off for more activities late afternoon. We do have a cautionary tale around dinner time though. We dropped her off just after 3:30 for a scheduled activity starting at 4 and went off to explore more of the ship with our youngest daughter. We planned on picking her up around 5:20, freshening up and then going to dinner. What we didn't do was pay attention to our Navigator which indicated that the children would be going to dinner in the buffet at 5:00. Needless to say we were pretty surprised to find out that she had gone to dinner when we went to pick her up to do same. Hubby was pretty crestfallen and missed his companion sorely over the course of dinner. We were in Animator's Palate that night and I know she would have enjoyed the venue. That being said, she was quite happy to tell us all about how she got to choose whatever she wanted from the buffet and that she ate with her friends so all was well. So if you want to dine with your kids every night, make sure you're aware of the kid's club dining times as they don't correspond to yours necessarily! Entertainment We choose not to participate in any adult-only entertainment. We had booked this trip to be with the kids and wanted to keep to the family activities. But all members of the family loved the shows, which simply put, were phenomenal. Not only were they the best we'd ever seen on the sea, they were better than a lot of I've seen on land. The kids particularly loved "The Golden Mickey's" and "Toy Story Musical" from the first two evenings. "Dreams" on our final night was also amazing although the little one slept all the way through it (too much fun at Castaway Cay I suppose). My eldest daughter still talks about the all that pixie dust and we noticed when we were back on land that she had her Cinderella and Prince Charming figures dancing like in the show. Too cute! All four of us have since remarked that the two deck parties (sail away, and particularly the Pirate Party) were the highlights of the cruise. My girls love to dance and these parties gave them the excuse they needed to really let loose. The youngest in particular was quite a feisty dancer, even at the Pirate Party which began well past her usual bedtime (9:45). I won't spoil what transpires at that party for those who haven't been but suffice it to say it was yet another completely magical evening thanks to the creative minds at Disney. The Ports Not too much to report here as we didn't even get off the ship in Nassau. It was a cold, overcast/rainy day and we didn't feel comfortable leaving 4YO in the kid's club while we were off the ship. In any case, there was more than enough to do onboard to justify staying put. We did disembark at Castaway Cay as the weather had improved enough to enjoy the beach (though the water was quite cool). We really enjoyed the beach here and found that the structures on the island were better than we've seen at other cruise lines' private islands. Seems silly to say, but the washrooms for instance were clean and well supplied. Also the way the BBQ was set up was quite user friendly. We thoroughly enjoyed our day here. Disembarkation Things sure have progressed since my first cruise in 1992. Back then, we had to be out of our stateroom at the crack of dawn and wait in a public space until our color code was called. It was a bad way to end a good vacation. Most cruise lines now let you either stay in your cabin and get off during an assigned period - a marked improvement. We personally found the Disney way to be the best. We were assigned a time to come for breakfast in the restaurant we had dined in the night before. Although ours was very early as we had early dining (6:45 am), the benefits were obvious after we were done eating when we went back to the cabin to grab our carry on bags and umbrella strollers and walked right off the ship. No line up, no waiting around- we just walked right off the ship. We were directed to the row where we would find our bag and went through customs within a few minutes. We were in our car and on the road by 8 am. I don't think this could have been any smoother or easier. Final Thoughts This was an exceptional cruise experience and a fantastic family vacation. We could not have been more pleased with this cruise and are happy to have discovered that we indeed have two little sailors in our family. I would not hesitate to recommend DCL to families who want to enjoy a cruise where kids aren't an afterthought and are treated as an equal. Your child will never be able to say "I'm bored" while on-board. We so enjoyed the experience that we were sure to book a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise while on board and look forward to experiencing a little magic at sea again next December! Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
We had a great time on our Mexican Riviera cruise Feb 14-21, 2009 on the Oosterdam. We had a 9am flight from Minneapolis on Northwest the day of our cruise. Some people like to come in the night before just to be safe but we've never ... Read More
We had a great time on our Mexican Riviera cruise Feb 14-21, 2009 on the Oosterdam. We had a 9am flight from Minneapolis on Northwest the day of our cruise. Some people like to come in the night before just to be safe but we've never had any trouble flying in the morning of the cruise. Just be sure to purchase travel insurance and book a direct flight. We boarded the ship before noon with no fuss, no long lines. We had some lunch on the Lido deck, stopped off at our cabin (inside stateroom 6134), then left the ship and took a $6 cab ride to Ralph's grocery to buy wine. We bought 4 bottles but I regretted not buying more. Each bottle yields 2 glasses of wine each and we easily consumed a bottle per day at quite a savings and better quality than available from the ship's bars. We walked back to the ship, it was a very pleasant mile or so. I was very impressed with San Diego, what I saw of it from the airport and pier. The airport is 2 miles from the pier, with the city wrapping all around the bay. Everything is scenic and convenient. There are lots of activities in this area. I want to go back and spend some time there. Our inside stateroom was comfortable and spacious. Deck 6 is not a handy location, but on the bright side I had to climb or descend at least 3 flights of stairs to get anywhere and I enjoyed the workout. My wife used the elevators and usually beat me to our destination, but not always. Our deck 6 cabin was a guaranteed cabin and I was upgraded. Next time I'll pick my own cabin as I don't feel I was really upgraded at all. Despite the economy, this ship was full so I suppose there was nothing available for upgrading. In general the food was excellent, both in the Lido and the dining room. The entertainment on the ship was good. I was surprised and disappointed to find there was no orchestra or jazz band aboard. There was an excellent string quartet that we enjoyed before dinner on several nights. HAL employs bar staff from the Philippines and restaurant staff from Indonesia. They are all delightful, friendly people and I make a point to try to remember a few names. They did better than I did at this. Kadek always greeted me with a smile and "Good morning Mr. Tom!" in the Lido before breakfast while I had coffee and read. Rey in the aft outdoor bar area did the same all week. One day he announced "Mr. Tom, Mrs. Jean has been looking for you all morning!" The first two sea days were chilly, highs in the 60's, but coming from Minnesota it was great. This cruise was all about whale watching for me. The second sea day was actually the highlight of the cruise. The Oosterdam exits the fast lane on the way south and early in the morning enters Bahia Magdalena, or Magdalene Bay, a whale sanctuary and breeding area. It was an amazing couple of hours. Whales were everywhere. I saw more whales in this bay than on all 3 of my Alaskan cruises combined. I felt sorry for the Sapphire Princess, they had been with us on the way south and they just kept going past this very special place. Amazingly, this side trip was not known to me when I booked the cruise. Why Holland America keeps it such a secret I will never know. I hope they offer this itinerary again next whale season (January thru March). I could see a few small boats coming from shore with groups of whale watchers who were able to get very close to the whales. I'm hoping to spend a few days there myself some day. Our first port of call was Puerto Vallarta. We of course went whale watching. It was actually billed as whale watching, snorkeling, kayaking, bird watching and scenic cruising to the Marietas Islands. It was a very busy and fun trip and we did see whales, but it was not the main focus and there were lots of other things going on. The snorkeling was very good if a bit murky and on the chilly side. The crew offered the use of a wet suit but most declined. Once accustomed to the 78 degree water it was fine. The high energy crew made sure everyone had a good time with music, dancing, drinks and food. I was amazed how well the crew and some passengers could salsa dance. Since we were in port until 9pm we had plenty of time after the excursion to go back to the ship, clean up, and take a taxi to stroll the malecon, the downtown ocean front. It's very nice. On the way back from downtown our taxi dropped us off at Wal Mart so we could buy more wine. This was right across from the pier so we still made it back in time to clean up for our late seating dinner. We enjoyed having dinner with our table mates Rick and Gloria from Phoenix each evening and we were were even joined by a senior officer and his wife on our two formal nights. Vince and Elise treated us to wine and had a lot to tell us about their interesting lives at sea and before. Our second port was Mazatlan. No whale watching was offered. In fact the list of excursions offered was very slim. We lazily opted for a city bus tour. It was fun and included stops at the Cathedral, a show including the Papantla Flyers and a trip to see the cliff divers. All this could be done on your own but it was easy to just get on the bus, and not too expensive. The bus made a stop at the Gold Zone for shopping. This is a dismal place of jewelry stores, t-shirt shops and street hustlers. As the Oosterdam left Mazatlan we passed by the Sapphire Princess (still at the pier) and passengers from both ships waved, hooted, whistled and shouted "Good bye, see you in Cabo!" from balconies and open decks. The Sapphire even had someone wearing a giant hand costume waving at us. It was fun. Our last stop, Cabo San Lucas was the most scenic of the 3 ports we visited. I made a mental note to stay here for a week some time. This small town at the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula has a lot to offer. We of course went whale watching and it was a fantastic trip. We were so close to the whales that we could hear them and see them frolic and slap the water right in front of our boat. Not something you see every day. Before and after the 2 hour whale watching trip we strolled the beautiful area around the marina. I was getting a bit hungry and asked a local who was selling fishing trips in front of the tender pier where I could get a quick taco. He said "follow me amigo" and he took me around the corner from the visitor center to a food stand, just a card table really. He said this is where all the local workers get their lunch. I ordered a home made bistek taco with tender delicious beef, rice and beans wrapped in a tortilla for $1.50. Our final day at sea was both relaxing and a bit sad, with all the packing and talk of disembarkation procedures. We opted for the SEBS baggage option, where our bags were picked up at midight and not to be seen by us again until our plane landed in Minneapolis. This was very handy. Our flight home was at 2 pm so we didn't rush to get off the ship. We were on the top deck watching all the activity and left at 9:45 am. The ship was completely empty by then. I was amazed how efficiently HAL gets people on and off the Oosterdam. Our 5 minute bus ride got us to the airport 4 hours before our 2pm flight to Minneapolis. I asked Northwest if we could change our flight to the next day so we could go to the San Diego Zoo or Sea World, but it would have been very expensive. Maybe next time. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
My oldest granddaughter and I chose this ship over our family and my guy friend's usual Royal Caribbean cruising because it looked like a great classy ship and classy it was. I chose to take my granddaughter with me this time - she ... Read More
My oldest granddaughter and I chose this ship over our family and my guy friend's usual Royal Caribbean cruising because it looked like a great classy ship and classy it was. I chose to take my granddaughter with me this time - she just returned from working in New York and needed some r and r and I definitely needed some r and r as I am in the employment business and it is not going anywhere but the cruise ship was going somewhere - and that was what we needed the ship to take command. Everything was just so nice - there were a lot of senior couples on this cruise - a lot - we had a great stateroom with a balcony on the 11th deck - the ship was completely sold out. But there was never a time that a crowd was in the way. The bedding on the ship was fantastic, you just sink into the down comforter - the towels were very luxurious and all you wanted - the service was great - the bathroom was maybe a bit larger than some of the other ships really it was like a Class A Hotel - the food in the main dining room (we had 2nd seating) was okay. I found the menus hard to read as the printing was very light on the menus - and they didn't give a lot of choices - seems like RC gives more choices. We ate one night at the Tuscany and it was good - I found that Chaps on RC was a better steakhouse - we ate at the Crepery a few times - just okay - the buffets were plentiful -you sure couldn't go away hungry - it makes me laugh though as some people who patronize the buffet must think they are in Denny's - they want their toast just so and the bacon just so crisp or not to crisp - and on and on they go with their wants..I wanted to say so bad to one woman "this is not Denny's, lady" but I didn't. All in all it was a great trip. This is a very romantic ship and you should go on it with a guy - Lillian Hammer Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
As a regular Carnival cruiser, I was very excited to "move up" to RCCL. What I got was a high end reputation and a mediocre cruise. I was disturbed to find no bathrobes in my stateroom -only suites seem to be afforded this ... Read More
As a regular Carnival cruiser, I was very excited to "move up" to RCCL. What I got was a high end reputation and a mediocre cruise. I was disturbed to find no bathrobes in my stateroom -only suites seem to be afforded this "luxury". When it was time to go on excursions, you had to go up to the pool deck to wait on line to get towels!!! The food was okay, not what I had been used to on Carnival. The menu was fraught with dishes that sounded interesting but lacked taste. The idea that the appetizers and salads were grouped under Starters suggested you should only take one. The desserts were gross and unappealing. The coffee was bitter until the day I tried to get a cup and all that came out was sludge. When asking for ice for my hot cup of orange juice I was met with attitude in the Windjammer Cafe. There was not uniformity to things as simple as iced tea or orange juice. One day it was mixed incorrectly and was strong the next day watered down. The idea that a boat that holds 3000 people would have an after hours food area the size of my living room was absurd! My daughter, 11 also a frequent cruiser hated camp. She said there was yelling and decided not to go back. My older two were disgusted with the curfew, especially since we were traveling with other seniors in high school who were already 18 and they could stay out and she was harassed by security guards. Our cabin had fold down beds which were shimmed -I didn't understand why until the noise from vibrations kept me up at night. I went to the spa for an "All over body and facial" I did not get the services I paid for, no deep scalp massage, no reflexology, just a regular massage and facial all for the steep price of $265. Our "stop" in Puerto Rico was from 6:30 am to 11:30 am -Why bother? Labadee, RCCL's private area in Haiti was crowded and the beach was covered with broken coral, you could not go in without shoes. The market there was like a meat market, the vendors were invasive and suffocating -all in a place where I really wanted to spend money and I was so uncomfortable I left without spending a dime. On a positive: The casino bartenders were nice:) Bottom Line: RCCL only wishes it can provide the level of service I get from Carnival for much less!   Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This was our 15th cruise - the second on Princess - the first being a Panama Cruise on the Coral which ended a few days before we embarked on the Emerald. EMBARKATION After spending 5 days in Disney World following the Panama cruise, ... Read More
This was our 15th cruise - the second on Princess - the first being a Panama Cruise on the Coral which ended a few days before we embarked on the Emerald. EMBARKATION After spending 5 days in Disney World following the Panama cruise, we flew back to Fort Lauderdale with a taxi from the airport to the pier. This embarkation was quite a contrast to that experienced on the Coral in Los Angeles. It really was quite a shemozzle. The ship was docked at Pier 29 which quite obviously was too small to handle the number of passengers disembarking from the previous Emerald cruise and those who were endeavoring to go on board for this cruise. SHIP We found this ship just too big for us. Even after 10 days on board we still managed to have difficulties in finding the various public bars, etc. With over 3,000 passengers, I thought that the shops on board were very poor with a limited stock of items. PORTS OF CALL Antigua - Sadly, we missed this port. We were advised that the winds were to strong to safely dock. This was a disappointment and we wondered whether a smaller ship might have made it into the port. Dominica - Booked with Beno over the internet. Travelled to Emerald Pool and waterfalls. This gave us a good idea of the island. Having had this extensive tour of the island, we are unlikely to include this port in any future Caribbean cruise itinerary. Barbados - Nothing planned prior to arrival. Picked up a tour at the port with Carson St Claire. Pretty good tour. Would consider returning to this island. St Kitts - Booked with Thenford Grey over the internet. This was our best tour of the trip. It lasted the whole day and was only $40 pp. He was very informative about the island's history and extremely obliging. A number of fellow passengers left the bus in town so missed out on the trip to the other side of the island which was very different and where we all enjoyed swimming at Turtle Beach. A nice touch from Mr Grey was his Valentine's Day wishes naming all his customers written on the back window of his bus. Would consider coming back here. St Thomas - Nothing planned prior to arrival. Picked up a tour at the port with Sean (007). Toured the island and was able to take some beautiful photos. Would consider coming back here. Princess Cays - Lovely to look at but too crowded. Just seeing all those deck chairs along the beach was too much for us. Only spent a short time here, returning to the ship where we had a very restful afternoon around the pool. Fort Lauderdale - Much better with disembarkation than embarkation probably due to the pier location. We took a taxi direct to the airport. ENTERTAINMENT We enjoyed the showtime performances but hypnotist and comedian are not our cup of tea. Did enjoy the Movies under the Stars a couple of times. DINING We were glad that we had fixed dining in the evening. After a couple of days doing battle at the buffet at lunchtime we chose to eat all our meals in the dining room. RED ALERT We received advice that ship was on Red Alert due to outbreak of gastric virus for the last two days. Our dining partners advised that they were aware that there were 70 people on their level who had been quarantined. Whereas on previous cruises with HAL passengers were required to use the preventative gel prior to entering the dining room, this was not done on either of the Princess cruises. CONCLUSION This was the biggest ship on which we have sailed. Will stick with the smaller ones such as the Coral and HAL. Being Aussies - we really dislike the daily gratuity charges imposed on our account. We believe that such gratuities should be earned and rewarded accordingly. I truly believe that passengers should be given the flexibility of rewarding cabin stewards and dining room waiters personally for services rendered rather than have this gratuity charge imposed upon them. Can someone explain why there is a 15% service charge imposed on each and every drink yet there is this additional blanket daily gratuity charge ? Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This cruise was taken during the Northeast school vacation 2/15-2/22/09. We had our two children ages 13/11 with us and had cabins directly across from each other on deck 9. We traveled from MA on our own airline arrangements. We ... Read More
This cruise was taken during the Northeast school vacation 2/15-2/22/09. We had our two children ages 13/11 with us and had cabins directly across from each other on deck 9. We traveled from MA on our own airline arrangements. We took this same cruise 4-5 years ago so I could really compare and contrast. Arrival/embarkation day was uneventful for the most part. Arrived at the pier around 230 to find a very long line to check bags in. Originally got in the line but then figured that there must be a quicker way for Platinum members to get on the ship. Went to ask someone and they directed me to a desk where indeed they took our luggage and we got to go right into the terminal and then right to the counter to check in. Wish I had known about the "special desk" ahead of time. While in line I noticed an extreme over abundance of "native" islanders. I couldn't believe it. Everywhere I looked there were people speaking Spanish and there was definitely a paucity of Yankee/Red Sox hats that normally fill the air during this time frame. I knew this ship was not full as I almost changed cabin arrangements two weeks before sailing. I am sure they gave cabins away to the native folks for a mere pittance. This did not set well with me. I heard way too much Spanish during the week. The worst was when they had a sale on watches in the gift ship towards the end of the cruise. My daughter saw one she wanted and when we went to wait for the sale to start the room was full of these people. They ended up trampling my daughter out of the way and she ended up with nothing. I couldn't believe it. Cabins were nice, clean, and comfortable. Our balcony cabin had a creek the first few nights that kept us awake a little but then it went away. We had a very, very windy week at sea so that may have had something to do with it. Our stateroom attendant was Philip from Grenadines/St. Vincent. He was great. Interacted with the kids and was very attentive to our needs as well as others around us. I will talk about dining next......we were scheduled for late seating 830 on this cruise. We always have felt that this is too late for the kids but the early seating is too early for us. Always wanted other options for dining in between. Well, as I was walking back from the promenade area around 7pm I noticed a sign by the entrance to the dining room on the 5th floor. "MY TIME DINING", the sign said. I went over to investigate. So here is the skinny.....I had not heard of this on this cruise line before. There was no prior notice or advertising of this on this particular cruise. They told me that if I signed up for this that we could eat basically when we wanted but would be removed from our already assigned table and transferred to this area for dinner for the week. Each night you make reservations for the next night or make reservations for the week. This sounded perfect and too good to be true. So I asked for dinner at 730-800 for the first night and for 730 the rest of the week. They told me that they were sold out and only had a minimal allotment for seating times as they were doing this on a trial basis to assess the need for future cruises. They offered me either 630 or 815 which really didn't help my situation. I ended up complaining a bit about being Platinum member and that if they offered this to anyone first it should be those with high standing in Crown and Anchor. They eventually made room for us and we dined this way for the week and it worked out great for us. I was just upset that they didn't mention this ahead of time to us and that I had to happen across it while walking around. They could have at least handed out something at check in. They said that this won't be an announced fixture on this ship until April, so if you are interested in this type of dining and are cruising before April than go to the 5th floor ASAP after getting on the ship to inquire about it. We ate at Portofino's one night and had an excellent meal as usual there. I found the food on the ship mediocre at best. I have watched the quality of food go way down over the years on RCL and didn't have high expectations for this cruise and so was not upset over it. I got exactly what I expected. The cutbacks are readily apparent everywhere. In the Windjammer for breakfast you can only get OJ/Apple juice now. No Grapefruit, Cranberry, or Tomato Juice. You have to pay extra for freshly squeezed OJ. Some things were good others were terrible....but know that if you are expecting gourmet quality food its not happening on this cruise line. Portions where small. One night I ordered a type of steak and got only two strips. It literally took less than 3 minutes to eat my dinner. I did find the wine very reasonably priced. I tend to drink high end wine and did have a bottle of Duckhorn Merlot and a bottle of Caymus Cabernet. The prices were almost the same for these high-end wines as buying them in a liquor store in our area. A little markup but no where near the markup on their cheaper variety wines. So if you like wine...splurge for the better stuff...you will get more bang for you buck. Entertainment-usually I don't go to too many shows but my daughter loves them now so went to most of them. Missed the first night show but the second night they had Jay Johnson the ventriloquist from the TV show SOAP. He was great. Really enjoyed him. Next night was the Ice Show which was nice. They gave out more seats than they have room for thus people end up standing in the aisles and block your view if you don't go early to get a primo seat...so for this event..get there early. The singer/dancers did a good job during their shows. The other headline acts were mediocre....someone called "El Gaucho" was terrible....then they had a comedic juggler the last night that we didn't go to. The piano bar guy had a terrible voice but at least could play the piano. Other than that didn't check out too many evening bars as we spent time with the kids. Ports Day 1 at sea......usual crunch for lounge chairs...but knew to get mine early....saw a lot of aggravated people pissed they didn't get seats. Day 2 ArubaPouring Rain....couldn't believe it....ended up taking a taxi tour for a few hours that the kids liked. Put them back on the ship and my wife and I went to Iguana Joes and got toasted....great Margaritas!! Whole day was rain and clouds. Day 3 Curacaowent to KonTiki which I read about on this website...was excited for it. Well, it was nice but way too crowded. The entire ship seemed to be there. If you decide to eat at the restaurant there know that it took an hour to get our food and that seemed to be the norm that day as all the New Yorkers were just about rioting over it at the various table around us. Day4 at Sea....very, very windy...sunny but 30MPH winds.....had lounge chairs on top deck and couldn't wear a hat..... Day5 St. Maarten....Orient Beach as usual...never disappointed there. Gorgeous and always a great day! Day6 St. Thomastired of going to Megans bay so I had arranged a chartered sailboat ahead of time with Bobby from Rumbaba....it was fantastic.....highly recommend doing this. We all had a blast and he and Julie took great care of us and made our day a very special one. Food was the best we had all week...bar none! Day 7..off the ship early and got day room at the Ritz in San Juan as our flight didn't leave until 7pm....phenomenal hotel....beautiful day.....won $400 playing blackjack in their casino so it paid for our entire day/food there....great way to end the week! So...we did have a pretty good week but felt that RCL has had way too many cutbacks for our liking. I will say that I found all the staff to be the most friendly bunch we have ever seen. We got nothing but smiles and every time I walked past someone on this ship they acknowledged me. I was very impressed. Despite this wee probably won't be cruising again for a while with RCL. This cruise did put us up over to the Diamond Crown and Anchor level. We found the extras that they offer the Platinum/Diamond members were even cheap. The coupons used to give you a lot of free things..now its more of a buy one...get one kind of flavor....didn't make us feel very special about being repeat customers this time around. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This was our 6th cruise (3 Carnival, 1 NCL, 1 Princess), with each having distinct differences in each area, but I'll focus on the Caribbean Princess. I was travelling with my wife (36), son (3) and daughter (6), along with another ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise (3 Carnival, 1 NCL, 1 Princess), with each having distinct differences in each area, but I'll focus on the Caribbean Princess. I was travelling with my wife (36), son (3) and daughter (6), along with another couple and their daughter. Embarkation We arrived at the Pan-American Pier at 3pm on Sunday to undergo the embarkation process. Now we weren't as tired as most of the travelers we witnessed in the terminal, as we spent two days at the Rio Mar in Rio Grand, and not travelling for 12 hours through various airports. We walked right up to the desk and was pleasantly greeted by Princess Personnel where we were promptly given our shipboard cards (as were the kids). From there, we boarded the ship and were able to get right to the cabin and become familiar with our surroundings. Approximately 2 hours later, our luggage and golf clubs arrived and we were able to settle in to our home for the next 7 days. Cabin We were in an inside cabin with two upper bunks for the kids (which they absolutely loved). Consequently, they disliked it last year on Carnival (which led me to sleep up there). It was fine for the four of us as we didn't spend a great deal of time in the cabin. Nothing to complain about here. Entertainment I really can't comment on this as we never went to a show... By about 9pm, the kids were wiped out (as we were too) from being in the sun all day. I heard no complaints from other passengers regarding shows. From the 2007 Crown Princess cruise, it was fantastic, so I can only guess it was similar on this voyage. Ship This ship was originally built in 2004 and underwent a two and half week dry dock at the end of January. This was the second sailing out of dry dock. During this period, the casino was relocated one deck higher and the Sterling Steakhouse was relocated and made larger. We never saw this because it was not yet complete. Other renovations were (as mentioned), the brand new casino, all televisions were replaced with Viewsonic 26' LCD units, carpeting replaced in a lot of areas, and a completely new Piazza area at mid-ship, from decks 5 up to 7. On Deck 5, you'd find the International Cafe (I spent a lot of time there with Emmanuel baking up fresh cookies for me). You'll also find Vines, the Wine bar, Passenger Services, the tour desk, among the other normal shops and services at mid-ship. The entire renovation process in the Piazza was remarkable. The finishes, wood, trim etc were flawless. What set it all off was the marble/granite staircase with a single center runner attaching each riser - impressive. Movies under the Stars was a hit with most of the crowd, from what I could gather. They had various videos playing throughout the day - from Superbowl to concerts to recent movies - even kids movies (Bee Movie) for the 38 children on board. The layout of the ship was typical. Public areas were always clean and tidy. Deck attendants were seen balancing the tubs and pools on a daily basis. Dining This was an issue. It started with the same old tired breakfast items most buffets usually have. However, throughout the course of the week, it NEVER changed. We did utilize the dining room for breakfasts on 2 occasions but again, never changed. On to lunch - again, the buffet never changed. The Trident Grill serving burgers and fries got tired after the first 2 days. The pizzeria of course was the same (you can't stray from that), but too much of the same. This leads me to the dining room for diner. You always had the same staple items - Beef tenderloin every night (I'm a big beef lover, but please attempt to prepare it differently sometimes! ) , baked chicken (there are numerous ways to prepare chicken rather than just baked), lamb, and pasta. Again, just to repetitive. To qualify, this wasn't the case in Feb of 2007 on the Crown Princess - it was quite the opposite. However, 2 hours and 15 minutes for a dinner seating is a little much for me...nevermind the kids (Nicholas rarely made it thorough diner). Nothing against the wait staff, however, I don't think Princess has the Anytime Dining down to a science like Norwegian (NCL). We were on that in 2001 and it was like clockwork. (that's another review). In general, it wasn't the fact that you'd go hungry on this ship, it was, in my opinion, the lack of variety and the quality of the food. Ports of Call What can I say......Simply amazing. My wife will recommend the port talk, which was held in one of the lounges by the cruise director explaining what each port had to offer. The wives were gone for HOURS and returned with a book. This was "the bible" for all of the ports. They said that it only cost $25 - but you get a free bag when you arrive at the first port. Well... with that logic, I can go down to my local Chevy dealership and purchase a $60,000 Corvette brochure. Afterward, they give me a free Corvette. They didn't share my humor. Anyway, my wife lives to shop (I should start a help group). Barbados - We went on a catamaran on a swim with the turtles adventure. Due to the rough conditions of the sea, we were made aware that there were no turtles (They went elsewhere). We were offered a refund on the tour, however, they said that they promised us a fantastic snorkeling tour - and that they did. We went over two shipwrecks...afterwards, on to the beach for a couple of hours and then the rum punch and local beer (Banks) started flowing. The rest of the day was kind of a blur. The rest of the ports, St. Lucia, Antigua, Tortola, and St. Thomas were all pretty much the same. At each port, we simply hired an open air taxi and had him drive us around the island, pointing out the highlights, which ended with him dropping us off at a beach for a few hours, then back to the ship. Shopping was pretty much the same at each port, with your usual selections of alcohol purchases, spices, shirts, etc. Really, nothing to complain about. Children's Programs Really didn't investigate this too much, as our kids were with us all the time. On a ship with 3100+ passengers, there were only 38 children on board. Not rowdy at all. From what little we saw of the children, they were all well behaved and quite often, went unnoticed. Of course, there was the odd person who would complain about children, but that was to be expected. Conclusion Great cruise, and vacation. We would do it again, but on a different cruise line. There are numerous choices for cruising on lesser known lines, or smaller ships which would lend more personal service. However, Great vacation! Looking forward to a 2010 vacation! Cheers Vijay Doobay Markham, Ontario, Canada doob@rogers.com Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
We have to preface this review by stating, that we have never in our 25+ cruise travels, felt compelled to give a review on a cruise line or cruise ship. Having said that, our Caribbean cruise in February on MSC's Lirica, definitely ... Read More
We have to preface this review by stating, that we have never in our 25+ cruise travels, felt compelled to give a review on a cruise line or cruise ship. Having said that, our Caribbean cruise in February on MSC's Lirica, definitely deserves comments and a review. We are Mother/ Daughter owners of a travel agency and also great travel companions. We have over 40 years in the travel business and still are in love with travel. We feel that we have a slightly different view of travel from 2 different generations. Our first cruise, 25+ years ago, was on the SS Norway, which at the time was the largest cruise ship on the water. Since then we have been on many cruise lines and cruise ships. We had really never heard much about MSC Cruise Line, when we decided we needed to leave the cold behind and head to the Caribbean. We believe that if we are going to be able to sell and market a specific supplier, we should have basic knowledge of that product, thus began our cruise on the MSC Lirica. We have also noticed some not so good reviews on the Cruise Line and hopefully can address some of the misconceptions. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale not really knowing what to expect, but from the moment we arrived at the cruise terminal until we were shown to our cabin, it was obvious that MSC Cruises had their act together. We have never had our luggage so quickly and were able to actually unpack and go up on deck before the ship left the port. As we looked around and explored the ship, we realized that we had discovered a real diamond. First off, the itinerary was so diverse, San Juan, PR, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Antigua, Tortola and Cayo Levantado, DR, what a treat. As many trips as we have taken, Mom had never been to St. Lucia and Daughter had never been to Tortola, so we both had new places to explore. The ship itself was very reminiscent of Old World travel, beautiful wood, marble and crystal, Bella. Appassionata. Italiana, which translates into beautiful, passionate and Italian. Never have we ever experienced such a variety of cultures and other travelers from all over the world. We may not have spoken the same language but we definitely learned to communicate. We did not see too many children on this trip, but because children 17 and under travel free, I am sure that many will advantage of this opportunity. The children we saw seemed to be having a wonderful time. We really never saw them much as they were so well taken care of. The entertainment in the theatre was some of the best we had every experienced, from the Italian Tenor, the magician, to the wonderful soprano and the juggler, etc., we were constantly entertained. With the many lounges and other amenities on board, after dinner, Mom usually went to the casino and Daughter to the Lord Nelson Pub, something for both of us definitely! I might add that we never went hungry, Daughter was always at the pizza bar on deck at 3:00pm and both of us eagerly awaited the pasta of the day at lunch. The dining room staff was very attentive and we took advantage of the wine package at the beginning of the cruise and the wine steward was very knowledgeable. They even would bring us our iced bottle to the pool, where we would enjoy a glass while watching the sun go down. I could not review the ship properly without mentioning the spa! We normally go at least once on a trip, but after experiencing the first Balinese Massage, we booked two more! Ahh!!!!!! We also want to mention the staff, a wonderful group of energetic people from all over, who were so friendly and fun, they made you feel like part of their family. We got off the ship still speaking Italian and gesturing with our hands, Mama Mia, Bella, and Magnifico!! Is this cruise for everyone? If you want to be on the shiniest, largest ship on the seas, probably not, if you want to have an experience like you have never left home, with everyone speaking English NO, but if you want a wonderful adventure with old world charm, this cruise line is for you. The food could be better to suit the American palate, but ordering from the Italian menu was wonderful and they are making great strides into updating their menus to please diverse cultures. They have added some beautiful new ships which we hope to try out soon and review, but as for now, you can find us back on the MSC Lirica, soon, this time going to Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Columbia and DR. We will be by the pool with our bottle of wine and our "old, new" friends. If anyone ever has any questions on this cruise line feel free to contact us and we will try to answer them from our unique points of view. Mom(Janet) and Daughter(Carolyn) Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
We began our cruise, 7th. overall and 4th with Princess, with a two day precruise stay in Acapulco. We chose this cruise as we had heard it was one of the great cruises to take, ala the Med, Baltic Sea and Tahiti, just to name a few. Our ... Read More
We began our cruise, 7th. overall and 4th with Princess, with a two day precruise stay in Acapulco. We chose this cruise as we had heard it was one of the great cruises to take, ala the Med, Baltic Sea and Tahiti, just to name a few. Our hotel was the former Hyatt Regency which as of Jan. 1 2009 became the Grand Hotel and Convention center Aca. We had stayed here in 1986 and loved it, the price was good so we chose to stay here again. Overall for a precruise hotel it was fine but sadly she needs some work. Tiles in the lobby were full of blisters, a new coat of paint here and there would go a long way and the AC barely worked. If we kept it running constantly at full blast and kept the curtains closed then it was just OK in the room and we did have it looked at BTW. Otherwise it was clean and the service was good as was the only meals we had here, the full breakfast. To use the fitness center expect a $5.00 per day fee. Acapulco is great for the variety of restaurants and we tried two of them. The first night was El Ovido which overlooks the ocean and as it was a nice night we dined outside. Overall we were quite pleased and would go again w/o hesitation. The next night we had a reservation for Baikal which has even better reviews. We arrived at 1845 for a 1900 reservation made by the concierge to find the door padlocked. I knocked on the door, made alot of noise but no one answered so we went to another place and again had a nice meal but was disappointed that we could not sample Baikal. Well we went past it on the way back and it was open! Go figure. Princess tells you to be there at 1300 for embarkation. Well actually you can begin at 1145. We arrived around 1100 and after first being denied entry we persisted and found a Princess ground rep who let us wait in an AC building with shops and restaurants so I had a Modelo Especial cerveza (aah!)and cooled off. At 1145 hordes of guys with baggage carts came in and we were on the ship about 15 mins later. Thats about as easy as it gets. Later we saw tons of folks in long lines, many of whom had taken a Princess excursion preboarding and it was pretty warm outside too. Gee, the AC in the cabin is great. Turn it down. LOL! Lets go over the ship now. First of all the public areas are very clean. The overall appearance is quite good really. Our cabin. A404, balcony was OK. The AC was very good but as we had three in the room space seemed a bit cramped. The shower was tiny and people of large size would find it difficulty to fit in I think. Our steward, Emmanuel from the Philippines was outstanding. He was efficient, always very polite, personable and willing to go the extra mile to please us. The overall service was outstanding. Princess seems to get this message across very well to its employees IMHO. Although I must say if you are nice to them then it comes back to you and we always try to be nice to them as we know how hard they work. Their shifts are long and they are away from home for a long time. We had fixed first seating in the the Provence dining room and three in out part of five had requested Indian food and here again Princess delivers. We had that every night and were pleased with the overall quality and variety. I give them high marks for their efforts to meet this special request. Our regular menu selections were very good and I give high marks to our head waiter Ana Maria from Romania and her asst. Roland from Hungary. She is a lively, lovely gal who you just take to right away. Pietro, the restaurant manager from Italy was great as well. These three made our dining experience that much more pleasing. We had lunch in the horizon ct. usually and it was good, not great. I do think the variety was an improvement over the AOS which we took last May though overall the AOS is a nicer ship IMHO. Princess pizza is very good. The performing group on this ship was one of the best, most talented group I have ever seen on any ship. However for the 1st time I saw that shows were being repeated on back to back nights thus eliminating the need for other "headlining" performers and thus cutting costs. Well you have to do something in todays economic world I suppose. As usual one can as busy or as quiet as you want. That is there are plenty of activities to keep you busy throughout the day. My one criticism is the timing for the 1st seating. It began and 1730 and the shows started 2015. I think the seating should begin at 1800 to lessen the gap as one had about 1hr. 15 min. or more to wait for the show after dinner. Disembarkation was a little weird but OK. That is we purchased the Princess transfers to FLL. We had to be on the Provence at 0745 and arrived there only to see a seemingly endless line of people leaving. This was our group! We literally were the last ones in line and had to wait about 10-15 for everyone else to file out. So much for being on time but I suppose I should have learned that In Acapulco. Anyway we were on the bus in about 45 mins. only to wait another 20 mins. or so for other buses to get to the airport and let them matriculate so we could avoid congestion. We had plenty of time anyway and had our boarding passes in hand around 15 mins. after arrival. Overall we liked this cruise for the canal itself. Its an amazing feat on engineering and I suggest to listen the the lecture on board before going through it. You will be astounded. The ports on the Pac. side are OK but don't expect the So. Caribbean. They just don't have that infrastructure. For example Guatemala in the only port I've ever seem where private excursions are more than what the ship offers. A ride to Antigua privately was literally double the hips cost. Also there is not any bar that has a TV so for our 27 yr. old son, well its not the So. Caribbean. Anyway his bar bill was about half. LOL! Also don't expect a younger crowd. Most people seemed to be retirees. Thats fine. I hope to be one in a few yrs. but then again know what to expect. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
We had 9 family members/friends on our 2/7/09 Eurodam sailing (age range 28-65), so we had a lot of different expectations for this cruise - all left the ship generally happy. The Eurodam is an indisbutably elegant and well designed ... Read More
We had 9 family members/friends on our 2/7/09 Eurodam sailing (age range 28-65), so we had a lot of different expectations for this cruise - all left the ship generally happy. The Eurodam is an indisbutably elegant and well designed ship. The tones/colors are warm and sophisticated, and the layout open and free-flowing - both sensible and fun. The lido became a tad bit cramped at times, but don't most buffets do that? We were all on the top two floors - the "spa floors." My parents were on the top, with a verandah room with a juliet-style balcony only for standing on - no chairs. The rest of us were down one floor in verandah rooms or supposedly large inside cabins - more on those cabins later. The cabin decor was very soothing and elegant, with nice bathrooms, great storage space (although the closets need better lighting), and very nice furniture on the verandah. Those of us on deck 10 who joined the spa had a private-key staircase to the spa (and 4 of us joined), making it a great location, as we also had private cabanas on the lido deck pool (same floor as spa). If you are into the spa experience, I highly recommend this setup - we went from rooms to spa to cabana in less than two minutes! The spa is very tasteful, and the heated beds were a great touch - also very nice turkish steam baths. The thermaspa was also great, although it was broken for just one day. Spa was kept immaculately clean and tidy, with fresh towels everywhere. Our weeklong-rental lido pool cabanas (we rented two side-by-side and had them joined together) were a real treat. Big day beds and tables/chairs that accommodated our group of 9 perfectly. Excellent service (our cabin steward John brought us lunch when needed, as well as bottles or glasses of champagne (complimentary) in the afternoon, along with chocolate-covered strawberries. Also, the robes in the cabana made it convenient for quick trips to the spa right next door. The lido pool, with it's retractable roof (which makes an annoying beeping sound when closing or opening), actually worked very well - I was a bit nervous when I heard that it could become stuffy - was not at all, especially in our shaded cabanas. I could see, however, that on a really hot, humid day, with the roof closed, how it could become that way. Those in the retreat cabanas on the floor above the pool didn't have ideal conditions on this particular cruise - it was a little windy up there and they even had to close them up one day. I wouldn't rent one of those, as I like the pool, and it definitely was a bit awkward to get up there from the pool. But if you like peace and quiet, it would fit the bill. Food on the ship was, for the most part, great. We loved the Pinnacle Grill (went twice for dinner), and found the main dining room to be great also. We loved the Tamarind for dim-sum lunch, but were slightly disappointed in the dinner there (we had reserved two nights but cancelled one in favor of Pinnacle). All our soups were lukewarm, and our main courses didn't seem to have enough spice. It may have just been an off-night though, and my mother's wasabi-encrusted filet-mignon was outstanding, as was my brothers' sushi entrees. The staff there were also excellent and quite lovely. The nighclub was fun, although "DJ Jesse" could do a bit more to entertain the crowd, and cater more to those who are there (e.g. take requests). The design was sleek and modern - but there weren't many people there past 11PM. We made it fun for us, though, and the staff were really fantastic. The string quartet that played nightly were lovely, and the shows were the best I've seen on a ship. The service on the ship was the real highlight. Everywhere we went - superior service, and very clean spaces. I was amazed at how, on a ship of about 2000 people, how many staff people ended up addressing me by name when seeing me around the ship. The only big disappointed were the falsely-advertised "Large Inside Cabins." There are both "Standard" and "Large" Inside cabins, but be careful. The "Large" ones on the spa floor are only 154 sq. feet, and the advertised range of all insides (including "standard") is 170-200 feet - Holland America needs to fix this on their website and other materials. Also, we didn't get to go to Grand Turk because of wind (not HA's fault). We didn't love San Juan (but it was raining), but LOVED Half-Moon Cay and had a nice time on St. Thomas on great snorkeling (Castaway Girl) and beach excursions (we took a cab to Coki - very long ride!). Overall - love this ship and would return to it again in a heartbeat! Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
We were on Independence of the Seas from February 15 - 21, 2009. First day was a day at sea. Our two children did the Adventure Ocean club on Day 1, which was a sea day. 8-year-old stayed all day. 4-year-old stayed just for the ... Read More
We were on Independence of the Seas from February 15 - 21, 2009. First day was a day at sea. Our two children did the Adventure Ocean club on Day 1, which was a sea day. 8-year-old stayed all day. 4-year-old stayed just for the morning, then spent the afternoon at the pool. Adventure Club is just OK. I think they could do a better, more personal job with entertaining these kids, but no major complaints. Day 2 was the port of Belize City. We took an independent snorkeling charter with Happy and Grumpy. It was awesome. They took great care of us and our two children. We felt very safe with them, and they made sure our children enjoyed snorkeling. We saw sea turtles! And touched sting rays. All in the "wild." It was awesome and everyone loved it. If you have children, this is an excellent tour. They really help you with the kids, so you can enjoy your snorkeling, while knowing there are two more adults watching out for your kids. We were the only ones on this tour. They specialize in running a small excursion and offering wonderfully personalized service. I highly recommend Happy and Grumpy. They are wonderful. Check out tripadvisor.com for more information on them. Our next port was Costa Maya. Here we booked independently from the ship with The Native Choice. Excellent tour. We did the "Mayan Experience," which takes you to the Chacchoben ruins and then to the village, to meet a Mayan family, make tortillas and see how the Mayans live. They are a very poor culture, and it was truly a lifetime memory to experience this. I highly recommend the Mayan Experience. My children brought school supplies to donate to the Mayan children. As we pulled up, the kids hovered around our van and were so happy and excited to get simple things like a glue stick or a pencil. It was so good for my kids to do and see, and The Native Choice was also a first class group. Check out tripadvisor.com for more information on them. In Cozumel, we went to Chankanaab National Park and swam with the dolphins. I booked this independently through dolphin discovery.com. It was a great experience, though not all that well organized on their end. Kids were free, if an adult paid. So, the price was much, much cheaper than the ship's price. The ship itself is great. Ice rink is awesome. They have rental skates (free), even for little feet. My 4-year-old got skates with no problems. They offer private lessons, but you need to ask for them. My daughter did a lesson with one of the stars from the ice show. She loved it! Tips/advice: try to stay in a cabin more toward the middle or rear of the ship. We were in the front, and it's close to nothing. We needed to go up two floors, walk across the ship, then go down. You can't walk all the way across the ship on every floor. Next time, we'd be more toward the middle or rear of the ship. Up front wasn't close to enough things for us. If travelling with children, save space and weight by not packing story books to read at bedtime. The ship's library has a nice selection of books that you can check out and take to your room. There is a nice selection of adult books as well. The Internet was terrible. We tried several nights to use it, but it was so slow and unusable. Maybe during off-peak hours it's better, but each night we wanted to use it, we could find an open computer, but it was dog-slow and frustrating. We never connected to the websites we wanted to. When booking excursions, keep in mind that ship's time may be different than island time. For example, our dolphin swim was at 1pm island time, but that was 2pm ship time. The ship was leaving at 4pm (ship time). So, when the 1-hour dolphin swim was over at 2pm island time, it was really 3pm ship time, and we had 1 hour to get back to port. That is plenty of time, but it's important to keep track of ship's time vs island time, if you book an excursion independently from the ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Pre and post-cruise We used priceline to rent a car to take us from Austin to Galveston (we flew to Austin from Boston, to take advantage of a low cost flight). After the cruise, our car was waiting for us at the E-Z parking lot, and ... Read More
Pre and post-cruise We used priceline to rent a car to take us from Austin to Galveston (we flew to Austin from Boston, to take advantage of a low cost flight). After the cruise, our car was waiting for us at the E-Z parking lot, and we drove from Galveston to San Antonio. We spent a day after the cruise in San Antonio before returning home via Austin. Even though this entailed hours of driving, it was wonderful to visit San Antonio and nice to see some of Texas. Being from New England, we wanted to visit the Alamo and the River Walk. Priceline is definitely worth considering if you are going on a cruise from Galveston and want to rent a car for 8 or 9 days. After hearing "Deep in the Heart of Texas" in the main dining room on Friday night of our cruise, it felt right to get a little feeling for Texas by extending our vacation in the Lone Star state. The ship We found very little to criticize. We loved the ship, the service, the food and the entertainment. The ship really was spotless. Someone was always polishing glass or metalwork or otherwise taking care of the public spaces. The ship is not only clean and well run, it is alot of fun for kids. Our kids, ages 8 and 11, loved it. There were other kids on the ship, but not as many as we had expected (given it was school vacation week). our children did not participate in the Adventure Ocean structured activities since we preferred that we all do things together. From what we could see Adventure Ocean was well run, however, and had many great activities listed in their compasses each day. Still, it was easy for us to do things with the kids outside of the context of Adventure Ocean they loved miniature golf, the rock climbing wall and ping pong (although ping pong can be interesting when it is windy). The entertainment in La Scala and elsewhere on the ship was also fine for the kids. They loved the magician, the juggler, the comedian/ventriloquist, the ice skating show, and the singers and dancers. They also liked the cooking demonstration (arrive early for this - it will be worth it), the parades in the promenade area, and the cruise director. Royal Caribbean is lucky to have Eric as a cruise director. He obviously loves his work and is very talented - We would particularly recommend the Question and Answer session he does on Friday, about working on a cruise ship. He answered all questions honestly and with humor. There were also wonderful musicians who gave zest to the Voyager cruise experience. They were everywhere on board - in the spacious promenade, on the pool deck, and in the 17 or so bars. There was so much to do, and so many nooks and crannies, that the ship never felt crowded. It was also an easy ship to find our way around in. The ice show was held on two days. In addition to being able to buy tickets on Monday morning for a show that evening, there were also tickets left out at guest services for a Wednesday afternoon performance. We went on both days and although both were good, Wednesday's seemed better. The pool area was nice, and it often seemed to be the focal point for family activities on the ship. But it was exposed to the wind, and when it was relatively cool in the northern Gulf on the first and last days of the cruise, swimming was not always the most enjoyable activity. The food was almost always great. We heard a few people on the ship saying that the food was not as good as on previous cruises, but since this was our first Royal Caribbean cruise we had no basis for comparison. We ate at the Windjammer every day for breakfast and almost every day that we were not in port for lunch. The fresh fruit at breakfast was always wonderful. The pancakes and other breakfast items a bit less so. The lunches in the Windjammer were always great - especially the soups, honey chicken on the first day, and desserts. Some of the lunch dishes at the Windjammer really surprised us with their quality. We also enjoyed most of the food at dinner in the main dining room (if you have Clayton and Akiel as your waiter and assistant in the Magic Flute you will be glad). The staff at the Promenade Cafe also helped make it a great cruise. Our kids have food allergies and the staff at the Windjammer and in the main dining room always went out of the way to accommodate us, making food to order if necessary. The pizza at the Promenade Cafe is amazingly good, and again, it was made to order to address our food allergy issue. In short, the Voyager surpassed our expectations. A couple of criticisms seem to be called for, however, when it comes to getting off the ship. When we arrived at the ship at around 1:00 pm, embarkation was very easy. No lines whatsoever. We just walked right on and went up to the Windjammer for lunch. Disembarkation at the end of the cruise was a different story entirely ... This was definitely the worst part (maybe the only bad part of the cruise, aside from ordering the pasta with smoked salmon on the last night)... we would STRONGLY suggest that you do the express checkout. Even if you think you have too many bags, try to do the express checkout. We packed too much stuff, so we did not do it, and were assigned a departure time of 10:00, and then waited in a very long line to get out of the terminal. We were in a line that snaked through the terminal forever and we did not get to our car until about 12:30. When you get into the terminal you will be given a choice of using a porter or not using a porter. The porter line was much shorter and would have been a better choice. There was so much that was so good about the cruise that it is difficult to find negative things to say other than disembarkation. One other thing, however, was that the hot tubs were not hot. They were either cool or warm, depending on the hot tub that you tried. Also, it was not possible to get lockers that locked in the men's gym. They either were broken, or were already locked (we don't know if they were used by other guests who took keys early in the cruise, or by someone else, but the gym should try to fix this). When using the gym, it is best to leave your valuables back in your stateroom. A suggestion if you want to buy portraits... We bought a bunch of the portraits of our family taken by the ship's photographers. You might want to wait until the end of the cruise to buy the pictures. They take pictures early in the cruise, on the first formal night. They also take them on the second formal night. Since you might like the second formal night photos more, it makes sense to wait and see which you like more before you buy any. Excursions Our experience with excursions was as follows: Cozumel We booked tickets for the dolphin swims at Chankanaab. It was easy and felt very safe to pay $10 for a short cab ride to the park. The weather was sunny and warm for our 10:00 meeting with the dolphins. First there was a talk outside, and then we walked into the enclosure. My kids loved the dolphin adventure (the "dolphin adventure" is the middle of the three offered options). The staff there was informative and it was amazing to see how the dolphins responded to the trainers (and us). We were surprised that we were asked to take off our water shoes before entering the water (but the metal walkway we walked on was ok even without the water shoes). The staff was patient and helped my son, who is not a strong swimmer yet. We bought photos and the dvd afterward. We also snorkeled at Chankanaab. We paid in advance for the snorkeling, but I would advise that you not pay in advance for the snorkeling. There are several places where you can rent equipment on the beach, and it is cheaper to do it that way. Also, as others have said, it can be rough getting into the water to snorkel at Chankanaab. There are about four places you can walk into the water, and some are easier than others. Grand Cayman I went on the Nativeway Rays, Reefs and Rum Point trip with my son. The water was a bit choppy, but it was still a good excursion. My son said this was the highlight of his trip. Very good value since you get three things for a reasonable price. The best part, in my opinion, was the Rum Point Beach stop. The mahi mahi sandwich offered at Rum Point looked like the best lunch. To do this excursion, you need to get an early tender off the ship, and this can be a challenge, even if you get in line at 8:00 am that morning and get a low number. Nativeway did wait, however, for those who had signed up to arrive at the dock. My wife and daughter when on the ship's turtle farm and island tour. They enjoyed the tour, which also provided time for shopping. Montego Bay Jamaica was THE HIGHLIGHT of the entire cruise. Once you get into the countryside it is beautiful and interesting and totally unlike the other ports of call. We booked a guided trip, with Carolyn Barrett's company. Errol took us to Mayfield Falls and we also stopped by at a primary school. The road was very rough and narrow, but we felt safe. Errol stopped often to describe the foliage we were seeing. He put on some reggae music on his CD player and we enjoyed the lush scenery. Once we arrived at Mayfield Falls, a local guide, Lester, walked with us up the falls. He was informative and very helpful. He showed us cocoa, breadfruit, plantain, African tulips, and other trees. I would suggest that if you do this excursion you arrange for it to include lunch at Mayfield Falls. They have a restaurant there and it looked OK. Our daughter is interested in becoming a teacher, and she wanted to visit a rural school in Jamaica and drop off a bag of supplies (teaching aids, pens, markers, etc.) The specific school that we would visit was not arranged in advance but Errol stopped at a roadside gift stand near Mayfield Falls, and at that stop we learned of a school (the Hillsbrook All Age School in Flower-Hill, Eastern Hanover), which was close to Mayfield Falls. We went there and had a very meaningful and moving experience. We met the principal (Dothlyn Peart-Sharpe) and visited with the children. The principal was very grateful for our gifts and would welcome similar visits. Rural schools do not get much from the Jamaican government. If anyone is interested in making a similar stop, the principal would love to receive anything ranging from crayons to used computers, and either Barrett Adventures or another tour guide could certainly find the school. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Let me start by saying this was an AWESOME cruise. Pre Cruise - we stayed at the FLL Airport Sheraton. I had enough SPG points so this was a free stay. The room was a corner room on the 3rd floor and overlooked an air conditioning ... Read More
Let me start by saying this was an AWESOME cruise. Pre Cruise - we stayed at the FLL Airport Sheraton. I had enough SPG points so this was a free stay. The room was a corner room on the 3rd floor and overlooked an air conditioning tower (well the room was for free!!!). Unfortunately the room had bugs - I think they were spider mites. Our lunch hamburgers were over cooked and not good. For dinner we went to the River Walk area (cab ride was about $20). It was very nice but expensive. We ate at the Grill Room and the food was excellent. DW then went shopping at Chicos and DS and I went shopping at Tommy Bahamas. Close to a grand later we headed back to the hotel (I told you it was expensive!!!). We woke up early, had a nice buffet breakfast at the hotel, and took a van to the port. The van cost $24 plus tip. All things considered, I would not stay at this hotel again. Embarkation - we arrived at the port around 11:00 am and there was a long line of cars waiting to get thru the security check point. It took us about ½ hour to eventually get to the luggage drop off area but once there the rest of the embarkation process was a breeze. I thought the luggage drop off area at Miami was much better organized than at Everglades. I actually worried a bit that our luggage was going to go to the wrong ship as they seemed to store it very close to where they were storing the luggage for the Costa ship that was docked nearby. Can you imagine a 6 day cruise and no luggage (I hope not !!!). The line to check in was quick and we were on the ship in about 20 minutes. Interestingly, while docked, our cabin looked out on the security check point and luggage drop off area. When we got to our cabin around 1:00 pm and looked at both areas there were no lines! I think next time we may wait until a bit later to get on. Cabin - we had 1400 which is a corner aft on deck 10. This was a great cabin. The walk aft was not an issue (especially after eating). The peace and quiet was nice. The view was unbelievable. I am now a committed aft cabin junkie. There is nothing like wake watching at sunset with a glass of wine!!! The cabin was much larger than a typical D1 balcony (it was almost as big as a JS). The room does have the infamous "stripper" pole. It is located at the foot of the bed and was not an issue in walking around (it did provide some interesting entertainment on several evenings!!!). The balcony was huge. It had 2 loungers, 2 chairs and a table. The room and balcony are directly underneath the Windjammer floor structure. We did not hear any noise from the Windjammer. The overhead did cause most of the balcony to have limited sun and lots of shade. While the ship was moving there was a nice breeze but while the ship was still the air was a bit stuffy. The overhead did also protect us from the smokestack dust that was visible on the aft cabin balconies that were below us. They seemed to do a very nice job of cleaning the dust every day but one of our Meet and Mingle friends that had an aft on deck 9 reported that the dust was not only on the deck but also on the loungers and table. I would imagine it could have gotten on your clothes if you left them out to dry. I probably would not take that risk and would aim for a deck 10 aft next time. Another thing about our balcony - the ships structure was sloped toward the corner. I am very tall so the far corner parts of the balcony were a bit low to my liking but I never bumped my head. Again - this was a great cabin and I would try to book it again. Wait a minute - strike all of this - the cabin was terrible and you should avoid it at all costs (so that I can get it again)!!! Day 1 - once we had gotten DS his soda card, set up our spa appointment, checked out our dining room table location we went to the Windjammer for lunch. This was the only time that we struggled to get a table. Windjammer food was as I remembered it - decent quality, lots of variety and something for everyone. No complaints here (I hardly ever complain about food!!!). I actually like the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch. We then went to our cabin but our luggage was not yet available. We then went to the Oliver and Twist lounge to meet up with our Meet and Mingle friends. This was fantastic as we got to meet everyone we had been posting with and were able to get the kids introduced. Our group was led by Sue (boss lady) Waterman and was as nice a Meet and Mingle group that we have ever had. We wound up spending most of our time with our new found cruising buddies. Around 4 pm we had our muster drill (boring) and were sailing away before we even got back to our cabin. By this time our luggage had arrived so we unpacked. Dinner was next. We had early dining and went to our table to find a couple in their sixties from Massachusetts. We had been expecting another couple with their 2 children (about our DS's age) but they were a no show. The Massachusetts couple quickly informed us they were moving to another table the next night so my DW and I were a bit worried we would be sitting alone the rest of the cruise (as well as wondering if it was something we said !!!). Any case dinner conversation was nice and dinner was great. Again - I never really complain about food. To me the dining room dinners are fine and if you do not like something - send it back. They will do anything they can to make you happy even if that includes bringing out 1 of each entree until you find something you like. How can you beat that? Our waitress was very attentive and knew our names and preferences quickly. It was then off to the champagne bar. Without going into too much detail - this is where the majority of my OBC went !!!. DJ and Claudia were great bartenders and kept the champagne bar groupies well entertained. Day 2 - Sea day. We woke up late, had breakfast and then went to our Meet and Mingle cabin crawl. I had never been in a promenade room before so this was great. We then had lunch and followed this up with a couples massage. We make the couples massage a cruise ritual but this time it was not that great. I like a real deep tissue (hard) massage and these girls did not quite get it done. Overall it was okay but for $240 plus tip it was not worth it especially considering Cost Maya (more on this later). DW and I agreed we will probably not do this anymore unless they had the Filipino girls we had on the Explorer and Navigator (they were awesome). DW then went to have her hair done (it was formal night) and then it was dinner time. This night the other couple with their 2 children were already at the table (yea!!!). They were from upstate NY and were really nice. We really enjoyed their conversation and our kids wound up spending quite a bit of time together. This is why I will probably never try MTD. Every time we have cruised we have met the most unbelievable people and always had a great time. To me, this is part of the cruising experience that should not be missed. After dinner it was off to the champagne bar (see a trend here yet?) and then to the casino. I played roulette for a bit and then found some friends from Meet and Mingle that were playing craps. I had never played before and they were nice enough to teach me how. I wound up playing for 2 hours and only losing $8. Well worth it. Day 3 - Belize. We took the RCL Paradise Beach excursion. The beach was unbelievable. The ride in was even more impressive. This truly is an island in the middle of nowhere. We did not take the snorkeling excursion from the island but our Meet and Mingle friends did. They said it was the best snorkeling they had ever done. Next time we would make sure to do this. DS spent some time playing volleyball while DW and I tanned and drank Dos XXX. I think we got the better of that deal. That night we had dinner at Chops. On our last cruise we had tried Chops for the first time and I was not impressed. We decided to give it another go this time. I had the NY strip and again was somewhat disappointed. Remember - I do not complain about food. The steak was about an inch thick. For those of you that really like a good steak you know that it should be 2 or more inches thick to cook properly and give you the texture that a good steak should. This steak almost tasted like it was broiled in a frying pan. It was okay but not really a steak house steak. DW had the filet and loved it. Go figure - different strokes for different folks. I would probably not go back but DW said she would. Sounds like singles night on our next cruise !!!!. Any case, the service was excellent. We then booked an hour lesson for our DS on the Flowrider. Normally they require 4 - 8 people to schedule a lesson. For us they only had 3 people but they decided to go ahead with the lesson anyway. What a deal !!! DS and 2 other guys had the Flowrider to themselves for an hour with 2 really cute girl RCL pros. I think the guys were all in heaven. In the end DS was able to surf for a few seconds at a time before crashing. Talk about wipe outs. There were some beauties. DS was sore for days but smiled the entire time. After the lesson the RCL pros but on a little show as to what they could do. That was amazing. We wound up tipping both girls for their patience, help and time. It was probably the best money I spent on the trip. Day 4 - Costa Maya. We took a taxi to the Pez Quadro beach club in Majahual (the taxi cost $6 plus tip). The ride to the beach was sad as most of the vegetation was still destroyed from last years (I think) hurricanes. The club was great. No charge as long as you bought drinks and food (I do not think there was a minimum). Beers were $3 and food was good and cheap. I bought what I hope are some Cuban cigars and had an hour long massage for $20. That's right - $20. How can you beat that? We then rented some jet skis ($50 for ½ hour) and had a blast. The wind was up so we had 2 - 4 foot seas but if you rode the crests or valleys of the waves you could really get up a lot of speed and then go for your "air time". By the time the ½ hour was up I was beat and my butt was sore. We then snorkeled but there was not much there to really see. Dinner was nice and our table mates again offered some engaging conversation. I remember a cold fruit soup that was fantastic. It was then off to the champagne bar and casino (surprise, surprise). This time I spent most of my time at the craps table and wound up winning $40. I had been up about $200 but got greedy and tried to push it when lady luck ran out. Day 5 - Cozumel. We went to the Nachi Cocum beach club. The cab ride was $15 plus tip. The club was great. It has limited availability (I think 50 people) so make sure to make a reservation. As RCL does not offer this excursion you need to use an outside excursion company to do this. You can find lots of them on the web - we used Island Marketing. It was the highlight of our excursions. The beach was beautiful, the club facilities were clean, and the restaurant food was outstanding. Drinks and food are included in the price and it was all well worth it. The staff was very attentive. We snorkeled a bit - the water was really clear but again not a lot of coral at the beach. We did not take a snorkeling excursion nor did we hear any feedback from those that did. We again rented jet skis (this time $60 ½ hour) and again had a blast. This time the wind was down so the ride was much smoother and we were able to really crank up the speed. The rest of the day was catching rays and sipping beers. Life is a beach and I did not want to go back!!!. We then took a cab back to the port and walked around to do some shopping. This night we had dinner at Portofino. As on all of our other cruises - Portofino's dinner was fantastic and the service exemplary. And yes, after it was off to the champagne bar and the casino (I am beginning to think I may be a lush !!!). This night I actually won $300 at craps. We had an older lady roll for about 20 minutes and everyone at the table made a killing. After that I was always looking for her at the table !!! Day 6 - Sea day. DS and I slept most of the day. Cruising is a lot of work and we really needed the rest. Once we got going we went to a late lunch and then went to the photo area to get our pictures. We then had a late cup of coffee and hung out on the promenade for a while with some Meet and Mingle cruising buddies. I then showed my DW how slots work. She had never really played and had previously commented that it looked really boring. After winning nearly $40 bucks on her 2nd machine I think she was hooked. We played until she lost her original stake and she seemed to enjoy it. I am not sure she is a slot junkie yet but at least she will probably play again (at least while I am at the craps tables). Dinner was again nice although DW did not like her chicken. I told her to ask for something else but she decided not to (I sometimes do not understand that woman !!!). DW then went to the final night show and reported that it was great. There was a juggler that also rode a unicycle. Apparently he nearly crashed into the audience and joked that he (and the audience member that almost got clipped) had done a number 2 !!!. DW said the rest of the show was just as entertaining and thought it was one of the best cruise shows she had ever seen. Of course dinner was followed by some more champagne bar and casino (I do not have any more doubts about that drinking problem now !!!). Unfortunately this time I lost $300. I had begun to think that craps was a sure thing (it probably is but not in the way that I was hoping) !!! Anyway I had a blast and almost breaking even for the whole cruise was worth it. Disembarkation - we were yellow and were scheduled to get off at 9 am. We went for a quick bite at Windjammers and then headed down to the Alhambra lounge to wait for our color to be called. Before we got there we saw our dinner table mates (who were also yellow) and they told us our color had just been called. We then headed to the elevator to go down to deck 1 (or was it 2?) and get off. Here is my biggest gripe with the cruise (and it really is not a big one !!!). Once we got off the elevator there was no place to move. We were barely able to find a place to stand when another elevator arrived and we were like anchovies looking for a caper. I would have suggested that RCL post someone at the elevators to hold them until there was room for the next batch to arrive. That being said, we did get moving in about 10 minutes and were in the taxi in 45 minutes from leaving our cabin. Like I said, not a big gripe but definitely something they could improve with a little better coordination. We then took a taxi to Miami (cost about $80 plus tax). Post Cruise - we stayed at the Hilton Airport. Again it was a free room - yea for business travel!!! This time we were on the 6th floor and had a partial view of the canal. The room was nice and was bug free !!!. We had a nice brunch, relaxed by the pool and then had dinner and watched a movie (Australia - what a tear jerker). The buffet dinner was really nice. They had big shrimp cocktail and the desserts were wonderful. I would stay in this hotel again (even if I had to pay!!!). Misc - Lots of families and kids. I prefer it this way - it keeps me feeling young. Graham was the cruise director. From the little that I saw him he was a blast. I only went to the show the first night. I did get to see him on the cruise TV recaps every morning. It looked like he was funny and kept everyone engaged. His try out video for the ice show was hilarious. The ship itself is amazing. That it was laid out like the Explorer class ships made it easy to find things. The added length and girth were noticeable but not by much. The ship still looked new and I did not see any signs of wear or tear. I love the Royal Promenade. DW reported the gym was great and she was always able to get a machine. The cantilevered hot tubs were cool. I cannot imagine a better class of ship. I can not imagine a better cruise. Yes - I remain a RCL fan and can not wait until the next time. Oasis - here I come. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
I was looking for a cruise where me and my parents and my younger sister would all benefit from. Traveling with a younger sister at the age of 19, My parents, 60 and 49 and myself, 22, was a hard task at hand. I needed to be able to find a ... Read More
I was looking for a cruise where me and my parents and my younger sister would all benefit from. Traveling with a younger sister at the age of 19, My parents, 60 and 49 and myself, 22, was a hard task at hand. I needed to be able to find a cruise line where all needs could be met. The cruise planning was left in my hands.Leaving from Miami, February 7th to the 14th.  Picking the Carnival Liberty was a easy choice for me. Being that Carnival has been branded the "fun ships" and also family oriented, i knew that would be the one. Upon arriving at Miami our port of embarkment, we were immediately checked in. Bags boarded and given our room keys. ( great for families traveling with small children). As i entered the ship, my jaw hit the ground. The beautiful main lobby area filled with smiling faces. I felt welcomed from the first second in. My and my sister headed to our rooms while my parents checked out this resort on water. Now where i made my first mistake ( which is my own) I booked the four of us in one cabin. The Rivera, 1st floor room 1381, is where we would reside for the next 8 days. 2 single beds,2 bunk beds.. bad idea. The rooms are way too small for 4 adults. lots of closet space though, which was a major plus. We managed the sleeping arrangements. Not much time is spent in the cabins. The ship was huge. The Lido deck. ( mine and i can speak for the rest of my family, when i say) was our favorite deck. 2 pools, 1 on each end of the ships deck. We always unloaded by the main pool.Tons of lounge chairs. rocking chairs. a full out door movie screen. bar,2 hot tubs, big water slide, mini golf, buffet lines, self serve ice cream. Great. Now i am my parents are smokers. one side of this out door haven is a smokers area, the other non-smoking. Works well. We had 3 fun days at sea, which where spent on the Lido deck. Games for kids. Games for adults. Hairy chest competition (where my sister was picked as a judge) was hysterical. The deck hosts where so much fun. They made our fun days at sea, actually really fun. I picked the late seating for our dinning time. 8:15, Perfect time. the early seating at 6, doesn't give people much time to get ready ,especially coming from ports of call. Our 8:15 dinners were always great, Our waiter Osmond and assistant waiter Geza where amazing. They made every night so much fun. We sat at a table of jut the four of us. Osmond and Geza made us feel as if we were there only table every night. A show was put on i believe 5 nights. The waiters and waitresses sang and danced and made a regular dinner in to a musical extravaganza. Our after dinner ritual was Stopping at the lido deck, where i would meet up with friends i had made, relax and then hit the casino. I won $200 in there on a quarter slot. Lots of fun and music and dancing. Clubs where also located around deck 5, The Promenade. Teen clubs and Kids clubs. Always packed with kids seeming to be having a great time. Which is a great place to send pre-teens off for a few hours while adults can enjoy some fun of their own. There also are tons of shows for both kids and adults. I went to a Adult hypnosis show. Dirty. not that good. 24 hour pizza and icecream always there on the trusty Lido deck if i was ever hungry. I loved not having to use cash. The room keys acted as a credit card. Which can do some damage if your using dad money like i was. Overall The cruise was a blast. We got home about 2 weeks ago and we cannot stop talking about it. I keep in touch with people i met and will never forget the fun i had. From the room service, the towel pets on my bed every night. The entertainment, The Movies under the stars at night. The formal captains night, The food, the ports of call.. Carnival Liberty was the best vacation so far. Never a dull minute. I had a blast down to the last minutes on that ship! Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Myself, husband, 12 yr. old daughter and 7 year old son went on our fifth cruise with Carnival. We got this cruise at an unbelievable cost of 199 per person, and stayed in an inside cabin on the seventh floor, which was graciously ... Read More
Myself, husband, 12 yr. old daughter and 7 year old son went on our fifth cruise with Carnival. We got this cruise at an unbelievable cost of 199 per person, and stayed in an inside cabin on the seventh floor, which was graciously upgraded. Embarkation: We drove from Canada, and stayed the night before at a Park sleep and fly hotel, The Red Roof Inn. It cost 125 from the website, and although it doesn't have the greatest reviews, it was fine for catching some zzz's before the big day. Getting on the boat was effortless and we were having lunch by noon. Entertainment- I really enjoyed the shows. The one about I wanna Rock was very fun, and it made me feel like I was at a real live theater production. Lots of variety in music all over the ship. Stop in and see Larry the piano guy. Food- Out of our five cruises, the Liberty had the best. We doubled on lobster night, and ate like kings and queens. After dinner, there isn't much food to be found, unless you want a sandwich or pizza. However we quickly clued in to using room service, which was AMAZING. You got really huge portions, that were quite delicious. Cozumel- We grabbed a cab and went into San Miguel and walked around and shopped for a while. We came back to the boat, ate, and dropped our son off as he didn't want to come back out. We walked outside the pier, and up on the left side of the road, there was a stand selling tours. We negotiated pretty hard, and got the glass bottom boat reduced to almost half. We were taken out on the reef, and had the opportunity to snorkel in several places. I saw huge tuna, and lots of pretty colorful fish. Our guide dove down and got a large crab and brought it up to the surface for some fun pics. He was then released. On -our way back to the ship we stopped at the 7-11 and got pop and chips for the boat. AT night we walked around the pier and waited for some drunken idiots almost miss the boat. Grand Cayman- We rented a car from AVIS and drove to rum point. Spent a gorgeous day sunning, snorkeling and beach combing. I also snuck in my own bottle of rum and guava juice which made the day that much more relaxing. Rum Point is one of the prettiest places I have ever been, and well worth the drive (on the wrong side of the road!). Ocho Rios- Hmm. Well they have lots of awful posts about this place, so I went in quite guarded. It wasn't as bad as La Romana in the Dominican Republic. Yes we were offered tons of drugs. We were followed constantly. We were harassed into seeing everyone's stall. And my husband was solicited for sex, and the woman was willing to start at a dollar. Can you even imagine!?! There was lots of crazy people, and I saw a guy eating chicken bones off the ground. We gave him 20 dollars. He was so crazy that he didn't even realize what we did. So instead of doing the tourist stuff, we talked to people. Most of them were quite interesting, funny, or just plain bizarre. I had the best pina colada here from a street vendor. It's pretty, but if your not used to being swarmed or having to say no a lot, I imagine you wouldn't want to venture here. I did buy a couple of trinkets. Staff- Amazing and great staff. My daughters hair has turned greeny blue from the chlorine, and the pursers desk wasn't willing to help. I got free sample massages from the spa, and used the steam and sauna quite a bit. Worked out a couple of times, and tried to use the stairs over the elevator. Camp Carnival was incredible, and they were very liberal with the drinks at the past guest party. Overall it was an excellent cruise, amazing weather and I come back well rested for another year. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
A group of seven family and close friends sailed the Mexican Riviera on the ms Oosterdam calling at Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas. For my partner and me, this was our second HAL cruise on the same itinerary. Most in the ... Read More
A group of seven family and close friends sailed the Mexican Riviera on the ms Oosterdam calling at Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas. For my partner and me, this was our second HAL cruise on the same itinerary. Most in the group were new to HAL and one person was a first-time cruiser. Simply put, this was one of the best vacations we have been blessed with. There is just something special about being a passenger on a Holland America Line cruise. From the moment you step on board you just know that you'll be completely taken care. It's the feeling that you're part of an extended family. The ambience is classic and the service is warm, genuine, friendly, attentive and professional. For us, overall service and food are paramount and HAL truly excels in these areas. Crew members in every corner of the ship make sure you feel welcome and return every smile, often calling you by name. They leave you with a feeling that their work is more than just a job. Our dining room waiter said it best on the last night of the cruise. After having thanked him for taking such good care of us he said simply with his hand over his heart "When you are happy, we are happy." Well said. Not to mention that, over the course of the week, he delivered the most delicious variety of foods from succulent prime rib and wild mushroom strudel with red curry to escargot and foie grois. Then it is little touches that make things exceptional. Cloth towels in public restrooms along with fresh orchids, the exquisite beds and linens, chocolates and a "good night" note from the captain and crew at turndown. Soft wool blankets provided on your veranda to watch a spectacular sunrise in the brisk morning air. The wonderful thermal Suite and 24 hour room service. Original oil paintings in the stairwell and the beautiful wood furniture on the public decks. And not a spot of rust. How can you not feel special? Attention to detail was everywhere such as our stateroom attendant who, after the first night, noticed we had seven empty cocktail glasses left on the table. Without ever saying a word, he made sure we always had seven glasses and champagne flutes for entertaining. For excursions we had a bit of a variety for our group. In Puerto Vallarta three of us were "Dolphin Trainers for a Day" while four others did "Town Country and Tequila." The dolphin trainer experience through Vallarta Adventures (booked through the ship) was outstanding and first-class in every way. It is expensive but was worth every penny. In addition to dolphins we were given play time with three sea lions and we never stopped laughing. We highly recommend this excursion. Afterward we went to Westin and paid a day-use fee to use the beautiful pools and private beach to watch the sunset over Banderas Bay. Does it get any better? In Mazatlan, five of us did Salsa y Salsa (booked through the ship) and had a fantastic time. Very well run, educational, fun, and great value-for-money. Two from our group did the Canopy Adventure and returned to the ship full of extreme-sports adrenaline and smiles. In Cabo San Lucas three of booked the America's Cup Challenge through the ship and the tour was conducted by Cabo Adventures (same company as Vallarta Adventures). Again, a first-class operation and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Everyone was able to participate in grinding the sails and even steering the yacht. Lobster tacos and several "Waboritas" at Cabo Wabo were a fitting end to the day. Thank you HAL and crew of the ms Oosterdam for giving our group the vacation of a lifetime and making us feel so special. Please know that we are most grateful for the many ways you insure we have a great time and get the maximum value for our vacation dollar. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009

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