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53,755 Family Cruise Reviews

As soon as I stepped on the Ruby Princess I knew it was perfect, The pure elegance and class of the ship was outstanding. After travelling with Princess Cruises several times in the past we knew what to expect. But the Ruby was different ... Read More
As soon as I stepped on the Ruby Princess I knew it was perfect, The pure elegance and class of the ship was outstanding. After travelling with Princess Cruises several times in the past we knew what to expect. But the Ruby was different to any other cruise line I have ever been on in my 15 years of cruising. We were welcomed with a steward who showed us where our cabin was and carried some of our many cases :) We settled in to the Cruise right away and loved every minute. Our first stop was Istanbul. As we were Elite members we got taken off the Cruise first. There was little fast and the whole procedure was quick and easy. We decided to spend the day in the little town where the offered beautiful jewelry and different clothes shops. We came back to a beautiful meal in the restaurant and a dip in the pool. This is how most relaxing days went about. We had 10 ports. ***** The best thing about the Ruby Princess was the amount of different cultures who went on the cruise. We are British and we had an amazing time sharing tables with people from the USA, Canada, Spain and Porto Rico. I am fifteen and I attended the Teen Youth club as I do every cruise and it was great! With over 800 teens we had pool parties, Movie nights, Deck parties and non stop fun! I really recommend going it was the best yet! ***** The shows in the evenings were rather good but some better than others. On board our cruise we had a Hypnosis - The best show I have ever seen! Volunteers came on too the stage and what more can I say! Of course there was a few down falls and that was the Comedians - They were not the best on this cruise. But the music in the bars, Atrium and other areas around the cruise. There was Karaoke and discos till early in the morning and lots of quizzes too! **** The Deck areas were also great. There was plenty of Deck chairs and the only cruise where I think people did not save them for others. There was 3 pools. An Adults pool which from what I can see looks very nice. You must be over 18 to use this pool. It was always quiet and perfect for relaxation. The Kids pool was also very nice and was very clean and safe. The only problem is that it did get rather crowded in the afternoons but you can work around that. There is also a spa pool which is heated and round. There are 8 Jacuzzis they are always very hot and not crowded. The food was the HIGHLIGHT! With 24 hours of free dining you could never get hungry. With pancakes, waffles and full cooked breakfasts in the morning to Lobster, Steak and Pasta in the evenings there is always something to bite in to in the cafeteria. We had no problem finding a seat as the cruise was a warm one and we tended to eat outside but if you are going on a colder cruise you may struggle to find a seat at Breakfast and Lunch. The food in the Restaurants was Delicious and pure class! There was a themed menu every night and we loved it! There is a Grill where you can get Cheese Burgers, Chips, Hot Dogs, Chicken burgers and Kebabs! They were VERY yummy! ***** Overall the cruise was great, From the cabins to food and destinations. I will be doing A Ruby Princess Cruise in the Future it's a real GEM! Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
This was our first Carnival cruise but our third cruise in general. I'll admit I was worried because I've heard negative things about Carnival in the past. I can definitely say that Carnival has one very happy and devoted ... Read More
This was our first Carnival cruise but our third cruise in general. I'll admit I was worried because I've heard negative things about Carnival in the past. I can definitely say that Carnival has one very happy and devoted customer now! We boarded the ship and was amazed at how nice it was. We knew it was a fairly new ship but still with thousands of people going through it weekly, thought it would show some wear. Absolutely NOT! I'll make my review brief... #1 We had the best staff ever!! Our room attendant was fabulous... we rarely saw him but he always kept our room clean and tidy. Our waiters were amazing.... we never had to ask for refills on drinks or anything. Their "shows" were hilarious and they were great to include our kids. #2 Things to do on board: Well, every day we couldn't even get in all of the shows, games, etc. we wanted to. We were never bored, just exhausted by the end of the week. I will say some of the evening shows were kind of cheesy, singers were ok, I would probably skip some of these. But, they still were something to do outside of the casino. The casino was great! I did win $500 in the blackjack tournament. Although, I did make a fair contribution there as well. ;) #3 Food: I thought the food was great!! I can't imagine how difficult it is to feed 3K people at once. Breakfast buffet was the same every day so we did go to the restaurant a couple of days. There was only one night the food was just "ok". Every other night it was very good. Pizza bar was always "behind" and we had to wait. We did only eat there as a snack though. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
When we went on Explorer this Christmas out of New York things didn't go exactly to plan. Embarkation would have been illegal if we were cattle, Diamond Crown & Anchor privileges were all but done away with and a host of other ... Read More
When we went on Explorer this Christmas out of New York things didn't go exactly to plan. Embarkation would have been illegal if we were cattle, Diamond Crown & Anchor privileges were all but done away with and a host of other niggles very nearly made it our last vacation with the company. A family break with a party of 13 which included loads of kids meant we ended up booking Independence sailing out of Southampton. For most of the group it was their first cruise but I wasn't sure we were going to have a particularly good time. Day 5 and I can't contain myself any longer. I have to let everyone know what a great time we're having and how Royal Caribbean seem to have waved a magic wand over their cruising experience. It's as though someone has listened to every one of my previous moans and sorted them out. Embarkation was an absolute breeze. Port staff were courteous, friendly and above all efficient allowing us to sail through, (at exactly the same time of day we arrived at Port Liberty). The ship it's self has used the extra space over Explorer to create some wonderful areas. An H2O zone to lessen the impact of kids on the main pool areas. A pair of well policed adult only Solarium Hot tubs which overhang the side of the ship. I know the waters around Southampton, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight like the back of my hand so sailaway gazing at the landmarks from the comfort of the tub was just fantastic. There are a number of amusing follies dotted around the ship which give it a human touch and lessen the impact of being on a 160,000 tonne vessel. The removal of many Diamond member benefits was one of my biggest gripes at Christmas, those little bits which added an extra bit of sparkle. All sorted. Our own Diamond Concierge lounge with outside seating as well as the inside lounge. A full range complimentary bar and canapes for a pre-dinner tipple and a natter. The coffee machine, ticket services, in fact all you would have previously enjoyed in the Concierge lounge, only bigger. Coupon books have been upgraded. Back comes a free photo rather than a bit of discount. Casino matchplay vouchers were never taken away, a drink on the house when you buy one yourself and so on. There is also a 75% discount on all your ship to shore phone calls. $2 from $8. I know Carnival are trialing $0.99 calls (read on here from memory), so some may argue even $2 is too high but it's a lot better than $8 if you find yourself needing to place a few calls. I'm not saying you book your next cruise based on what's in the coupon book but it's a nice gesture. An added bonus was finding out we had Joff Eaton and some of his team including Steve from Jewel of the seas with us. I've got a soft spot for Joff. As someone who's been cruising for a number of years I tend to think of cruise directors as over tanned rather slimy individuals slightly little less genuine than used car salesmen and with more concern for kickbacks from on shore traders than the welfare of their passenger's enjoyment. Joff, whilst being extremely talented and super slick has a lovely self deprecating way about him and to say he's hard working would be something of an understatement. I saw him walking through the Promenade at 8.00am the other day (after we put the clocks forward last night) and he's still there last thing at night. His enthusiasm rubs off on all the other members of his team as well because they all put in the effort when going about their duties. One of my niggles for the past 15 years of cruising has always been the appalling selection of Karaoke songs, (and the way the whole thing is usually handled). Suddenly a vast manuscript of songs to choose from and a lovely sized space on deck 3 called On Air. Little things like the ice cream machine on the pool deck being open all day (actually there are 2 of them on Independence), means the mad rush during previously limited open hours is gone. With kids in mind there is also a noticeable but discreet junior cruiser policing on board which is a pleasant change from Christmas on Explorer. It may be that UK youngsters are generally a bit behaved than their cousins from across the pond but we haven't had to deal with a raft of over cocky teenagers this time even though there are over a thousand junior cruisers aboard. Dining room has never been a problem and continues to impress this time round. I had a chance to chat with Derek McKnight, the executive chef at a crown and anchor function today and he seems a really down to earth chap, although a fairly hard taskmaster I would imagine! Haven't ventured into the speciality venues yet but will do. A few people have moaned about the entertainment on here. Well I'm not sure what happened for those weeks, we've just had the most stunning ice show this afternoon, we were crying with laughter throughout Pete Matthews' show, there was a note perfect Beatles tribute band on the other day, the ship's stage productions are so good I'm thinking we'll need a taxi home on the way out of the theatre. Anyway, I've written far too much already. I don't know how much of the improvements are fleet wide and how many just on Independence but if this is the future I'm a happy camper. Keep smiling, and I can tell you that 40 something isn't too old for the flowrider, step aside kids - old man coming through - although I do ache like hell now!! Henry Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
I'll start by saying I've been on a number of these cruises already so I was not too disappointed when I found out that the port of Ensenada was canceled. Carnival issued everybody $50 on board credit which seemed fair to ... Read More
I'll start by saying I've been on a number of these cruises already so I was not too disappointed when I found out that the port of Ensenada was canceled. Carnival issued everybody $50 on board credit which seemed fair to me.Embarkation - Probably the quickest I've ever experienced. It took no more than 15 minutes and was a breeze. We were on the ship by 1:00 and our room was ready by 1:30. A+Buffet - The buffet was actually above average and better than I have experienced on Royal Caribbean. The pizza and deli were surprisingly good and the service was quick. The options became a bit repetitive but that's to be expected. Overall it was decent. B+Dining Room (breakfast & lunch) - I preferred the dining room when it came to breakfast and lunch. The quality of food was definitely better than the buffet and the service was relatively quick. With that being said, the dining room is not open long enough for these meals. I also didn't like how our party had to share tables during some meals when we would have preferred eating in private. The waiters could seem rude at times so I do believe the dining room could be improved for these meals. C+Elation Dining Room (dinner) - The food was very good. I really enjoyed the options each night and was always satisfied. Our waiters were very nice and they seemed to be doing their best the entire time. The service was a bit slow, however. It was probably the slowest dinner service I've ever experienced on a cruise but I didn't let it bother me much. Our table mates were great and the overall experience was very good on a nightly basis. ABar service - The cocktail waiters were very pushy and very annoying, to be honest. They were very intrusive out on the pool deck as we were approached every few minutes to have our order taken. It seems like they overstaffed their cocktail waiters when other areas could use more staff. Then when I actually needed a drink it seemed like the waiters were hard to find. Funny how that worked. Bar service in the dining room was also EXTREMELY slow. We waited more than 10 minutes each time we ordered a beer or cocktail at the dinner table. This was something that I found unacceptable.The service at the bars themselves was good and the bartenders were cool. The drinks were surprisingly good as they actually seemed to have alcohol in them as opposed to some of the cruises I've been on. The other thing I don't get is why the "sports bars" can't actually show some real sports. Half the time they are airing ESPN Deportes. That's fine on one TV, but really unfair to air it all over the boat. Then the bar TVs are showing soccer and lacrosse? REALLY? It's the middle of the Major League Baseball season and the NBA Finals and they're showing that crap? UNACCEPTABLE!Service/Cocktail waiters = FDrinks = A+Entertainment - The shows I saw were as good as a cruise show will get. I took in 3 comedy acts and all three of them made me laugh, so no complaints there. AActivities - I'm not much for cruise ship activities so I wont say much. The ones I've experienced, such as trivia games, seem to be run very sloppily. The hairy chest contest is just stupid. N/ACasino - The dealers are much nicer than what you'd find in Las Vegas. Minimums are always $5 on Black Jack and Craps (except the first night when they're $3) which was cool, but I did not like the continuous shuffle on black jack. Texas Hold Em was played with an electronic poker pro which I also do not like. Overall the casino was always fun and did not leave much to be desired. AState room - cozy and always attended to by our steward. We really enjoyed our VERY comfortable bed! It was small and the TV sucked but we were rarely in our room anyway ;) A+With all of this said, we really enjoyed ourselves. There was usually something to do and we were kept entertained and/or relaxed most of the time. This cruise is a great value and it's not too short nor is it too long. The only complaints I had were about the pushy bar waiters, some of the VERY slow service and that there wasn't enough to do on the ship to make up for the fact that our Mexican port was canceled. Other than that everything was superb. I would also like to say that I prefer Carnival to Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Let me begin by saying my excpectation were not all that high to begin with. I knew Carnival had a reputation for putting more emphesis on FUN that ammenities. The departure port of Jacksonville was much more effeicent than I expected. Our ... Read More
Let me begin by saying my excpectation were not all that high to begin with. I knew Carnival had a reputation for putting more emphesis on FUN that ammenities. The departure port of Jacksonville was much more effeicent than I expected. Our boarding and departure of the port went much quicker and smoother than expected. The cruise ship was older and had a lot of wear and tear. My biggest complaint was with the Housekeeping staff. Food from room service trays sat in hallways for entirely too much time. I mean hours. Also my daughter who is 14 did not enjoy the teen club. She said the activites were few and not much fun. She enjoyed RCC's much more.Food was on par with other cruise lines. The gift shops were a little overcrowed and understaffed.The cruise director staff were excellent! The shows were very well done and enjoyable. The bar staff were great. Drink prices were much cheaper than I expected. The casino was a little crowded but at least they were giving out some money.All in all it was an enjoyable excperiance and I will travel on Carnival again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
First off let me say that I ready for a vacation . I just knew the Sensation was my ticket to a  well deserved break.NOT!I dont know if these people are just use to seeing so many people that they loose their sense of mannerism or ... Read More
First off let me say that I ready for a vacation . I just knew the Sensation was my ticket to a  well deserved break.NOT!I dont know if these people are just use to seeing so many people that they loose their sense of mannerism or what.Embarkation was pretty smooth but once on the boat the staff (cabin stewart) was unfriendly and everything was a hustle .I dont think they have enough time in between the cruises to regroup or something which I guess could be a little stressful.Anywho the first night at dinner the waiters were uptight too.I find myself to be a bright light in a dark situation whereever  I go and they would not budge.Tried to strike up conversations with one bout being married and children and found that for  most of them that was a sore subject I thought he was going to cry literally. The things we take for granted  every day (seeing  our family )Well .....my nephew wasnt feeling well the first night which made my bro  late for dinner maybe 15min.I understand timing but give me a break the hostess told him she could not serve him and his 2children but after seeing us offering them our  food she offered to bring the children hamburgers and fries which they could have gotten on the lido deck.If they only knew what my brother has gone through and how much he sacrificed to be able to go.cabins:bed was made sloppy and you cou;d tell it was done in a hurry.NO towel animal until the last night wonder why .Lido deck- very nice very slick when wet though pizza was not good at all .Casino-not vegas style  very small and staff very rude especially the cashier in the window who doesnt want to touch your hand or make eye contact.Sports deck -disappointed no basketball goal for my teen boyz they were bored during the day but partied all night in the club.Front desk - will listen to your complaints but have no interest in them at all I watched this lady complain about her children not being able to go on the water slide due their height and the lady just stood their unresponsive and nonshalant.I read several reviews before going and the person who said that front desk was not customer service oriented was right!Breakfast in the main dining rm(dembarkation day) -Are you kidding me! my mom, cousin and I were already seated and we told the hostess that there would be more to come when my bro gets there they told him and his kids to go on back.I  dont know what they have to put in the system but evidently they abide strictly by that.They refused to serve the m because of the mix up with the number of people in our party stating that it would have us dining too long .I  was pissed off i felt like they were just being nasty they get your tip ahead of time and treat you like dirt.The maitre d dont show up till the last for a envelope at the front door .aCTIVITIES -If you want to see everything you need a early dinner we had to choose between the comedy show and karaoke bingo or love and marriage show .Ridiculous!!!The kids loved it but as far adults we were not happy and will be cruising with Royal c from now on!!!!!  Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
EMBARKATION: Went relatively smoothly. We walked to the cruise ship terminal so it was a little confusing as to where we were to drop off our luggage. When you are dropped off by car, taxi etc. they take you to the right area. After ... Read More
EMBARKATION: Went relatively smoothly. We walked to the cruise ship terminal so it was a little confusing as to where we were to drop off our luggage. When you are dropped off by car, taxi etc. they take you to the right area. After asking for directions it was very easy to go through security etc. and then to the waiting room. We were a little early but really didn't have to wait long to get set up for our onboard account and onto the ship. Once on board things were a little hectic but we managed to grab a glass of champagne and then were taken up to our balcony stateroom. It wasn't ready yet so we left our hand luggage in my sister's stateroom (hers was ready) and went to find the Seven Seas dining room for lunch. The staff were herding everyone into the Garden Buffet but a previous reviewer suggested the Seven Seas and it was very relaxing to sit and order lunch and not be surrounded by chaos. After lunch we tried to familiarize ourselves with the ship and as others have said you have to go through various areas to get to other parts of the ship. The little maps you get at reception are extremely handy and we used them until we got used to where everything was. DINING: Because we had a balcony stateroom we were invited to have breakfast every morning in the Four Seasons dining room (which we did). The food was very good but portions were small (at least for us they were) so after the first morning we caught on and would order double bacon, hash browns etc. and asked for our toast to be well toasted (or all you get is warm bread). We ate at only one specialty restaurant (Italian) and the food was quite good and worth the $10.00 surcharge each. We enjoyed pizza and pasta for lunch at the Pacific Heights, we enjoyed burgers etc. for lunch at the Great Out Door cafe, we enjoyed soup and sandwich for lunch at Las Ramblas and we even enjoyed lunch at the Garden Cafe buffet. For suppers we ate mostly at the Four Seasons & Seven Seas dining rooms and once at Pacific Heights (you need reservations) and enjoyed all of our meals. We did have one dinner at the Garden Cafe (I loved the spetzle!!!!) We ordered room service once and were surprised how good the food actually was (although the pizza is thick crust and I wouldn't order it again) the salads were delicious and the sandwiches were very good as well. I do have to agree with other reviewers that space is a premium in the Garden Cafe sometimes you have to wander throughout the ship trying to find a table to have your meal at. One time we ended way out by the pool area that is why we mostly ate in the dining rooms. However unlike other reviewers we found lots of options for lunch and dinner so you really don't have to go to the Garden Cafe if you don't like buffets. ENTERTAINMENT: We went to a three of the shows but actually we though they weren't that great so we skipped a couple of nights and opted for a few hours in the casino, went shopping, sat in the lounge or just sat out on our balcony sipping wine and drinking beer. My husband opted to buy the "bucket of beer", you get six beer for the price of five (total cost was $24.44 per bucket which was actually quite reasonable) and you can take them anywhere on the ship. We were given and free bottle of wine for our stateroom and our travel agent sent us a second bottle of wine so we cleared out the mini bar and kept our wine and beer chilled. EXCURSIONS: We opted for the Duck Tour in Ketchikan and found it to be quite informative and fun. We did the Gold Creek Salmon Bake in Juneau and the food was delicious and you could have as much salmon as you wanted. In Skagway we took the White Pass Railway which proved to have phenomenal scenery. We also took the Ghosts & Good Time Girls Tour which I would recommend, we had so much fun with our Good Time Girl (Laya Nightly). DEBARKATION: We opted for the Easy Walk-Off but in reality it wasn't that easy. It was to start at 7:30 and hundreds of people were squished into the atrium area so it was hard to find a "line" to stand in but once it got moving things went pretty quickly and we were off the ship, through customs and waiting to be picked up by Avis by 8:10a.m. COMPLAINTS: I had a few. I would not pick cabin 0231 again as it was directly underneath the pool area where they pull out the deck chairs at 6:00am every morning. All you could hear above your head was the scraping of chairs for most of the morning. It was however very quiet at night with no noise from above at all. My other complaint was the Soda Card, you could have all the soda you wanted but the cost was $50.00 and the servers really don't want to be bothered bringing you your soda so in reality I had to go to the bar 95% of the time and get my own soda. Also they totally fill your glass with ice and you end up with very little soda so I started asking for no ice. OVERVIEW:All in all we loved the cruise.  Food and service were excellent as well as our room stewards who made towel animals every night for us and kept our stateroom spotless.  This was our first cruise so our expectations weren't high and we have nothing to compare this cruise to but we did thoroughly enjoyed ourselves for the entire seven (7) days.  We certainly weren't bored at any time during the cruise.  We would most definitely cruise with Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
This was my 6th cruise (5 on Carnival) and 2nd cruise for my teenage boys. HOTEL: Riptide Hotel on the beach in Hollywood FL - great rate of only $99/night but our room was not one of the renovated ones they advertise on their site ... Read More
This was my 6th cruise (5 on Carnival) and 2nd cruise for my teenage boys. HOTEL: Riptide Hotel on the beach in Hollywood FL - great rate of only $99/night but our room was not one of the renovated ones they advertise on their site - moldy, old shower and 70's bedspread. It was a quaint, small hotel where they know you by name. SHIP: Clean and modern with 3 pools, but all were too small to suit my teens. All 3 of us were in a balcony stateroom (Rm 7285) which was surprisingly roomy. We were in the rear third of the ship so there was some vibration.#7285 - Larger than average - held 3 of us with a pull down bed and still had plenty of walk room. Standard balcony. Bathroom was fine - plenty of space. Lots of closet space/drawers in this room - unloaded 4 suitcases easily. This room is in the rear third of the ship so there was some intermittent vibration which was only noticeable when trying to sleep. ACTIVITIES:  Basketball court, shuffleboard, mini golf and waterslide SERVICE & FOOD: Dining room service was our biggest concern - late seating but still missed the shows following due to extremely slow and sometimes inaccurate service. Our section seemed to be the only area affected. Our waiter changed after day 2, but no improvement. Seems they were short-handed because our servers were always running. The food was above average however. Bar service in the dining room slow too.Pool service was consistently good. The food outside of the dining room (buffets, Chinese, pizza, etc) had good food but the lines ridicously slow, held up by the few people wanting an omelet or something off the grill. They should have asked us to form a separate line for items that were not on the ready-to-eat buffet and that would easily solve the problem. Our cabin steward was in stealth mode - we hardly saw him but everything was in order. ENTERTAINMENT: Missed the big shows but the poolside entertainment was the standard silly games. The 20 ft jumbotron tv above the pool could have been used more, and when it was used, strange choices - kids movies at midnight and a couple of old concerts during the day (Tom Jones and Marvin Gaye). The live music/one-man shows around the ship was average and repetitive, but I find that cruise standard.SUMMARY: This was the first cruise where no one called me by name or learned our preferences on the ship. Those things can add alot toward personal service, however, as with most things - it's all in your attitude. We remained flexible, learned to eat shortly before dinner to accomodate slow dining service and rolled with the flow. The ship was clean and updated, the food was quite good and we had good port experiences. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Long sunny days, fantastic scenery, and a lovely ship.  "Captain Lars" showed us forested islands, endless snowcapped mountains and whale feeding grounds.  He docked at charming Inside Passage ports and took us up narrow ... Read More
Long sunny days, fantastic scenery, and a lovely ship.  "Captain Lars" showed us forested islands, endless snowcapped mountains and whale feeding grounds.  He docked at charming Inside Passage ports and took us up narrow Endicott Arm to the massive Dawes Glacier.  He treated us to an exceptional cruise, but said not to expect such fine weather next time!The Norweigan Star:Seattle's Pier 66 is in the middle of the downtown waterfront so my sister, brother-in-law and I enjoyed a great view from the minute we stepped aboard the Star.  We tried to upgrade to a balcony cabin but the ship was sold out.  It turned out that our "outside with picture window" was perfect.  The glass was clear and being on deck 5 meant that we were close to the water for viewing whatever passed our way.This ship provided excellent value.  "Free Style" dining was a pleasure and will bring me back to NCL.  A small negative: some dishes were too salty.  However, the lobster served on Thursday night was tender and sweet.  The beef at the carving station in the Market Cafe was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  Lots of variety.I bought a week-long spa pass, but with the warm weather and whale-watching topside, it was hard to find time to use it.  I learned a lot about Alaska from the wonderful naturalist onboard, and about whales from "budget queen" who was on this cruise - thank you.Watch the Chinese Acrobats when they perform at the Spinnaker Lounge, and go to the last night performance at the Stardust Theater - if just to applaud the captain, crew and staff when they file on stage.Ports of Call:There is a lot of information posted on Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway, so I'll report on Prince Rupert.  This small Canadian city is surrounded by water and mountains.  There are tourist shops at Cow Bay near the dock, but for a chance to meet local artisans and gardeners go up to Third Avenue for Thursday's street market.  Butze rapids and the cannery museum are a cab ride away, but the impressive Museum of Northern British Columbia is just up the hill from the ship.  That evening, a group of First Nation drummers and dancers performed in the nearby Pacific Mariner's Memorial Park.  Thank you, Prince Rupert.Magical Moments:Mt. Rainier sinking into the sea as we sailed northward from Seattle.Whales in the evening at Snow Pass north of Ketchikan.The first glimpse of Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau.Inspiration at Yakutania Point, Skagway.When my sister, brother-in-law and I each gave this cruise a "10."  Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Embarkation: -  may take some getting used to but I like the later embarkation that Baltimore and the Pride have worked out - allows for flights in that morning without worrying about missing the ship.  Everyone at the cruise terminal ... Read More
Embarkation: -  may take some getting used to but I like the later embarkation that Baltimore and the Pride have worked out - allows for flights in that morning without worrying about missing the ship.  Everyone at the cruise terminal was great and the processing / loading went very smoothly.  Added advantage that BWI is a Southwest hub so other airlines keep prices down too - got $110 pp airfare 3 weeks out on another carrier.  Cabin - had an 8H extended balcony right under the lido deck.  Balcony is a good 2 feet wider than normal which is fantastic.  Lido deck overhangs so for those with light complexions like us it is wonderful to be able to sit on the balcony and not worry about the sun most of the day.  We could get sun up on Lido if we wanted and sit in shade and enjoy the day on our balcony if we wanted.  Definitely will do again.  Cruise out - everyone should try Baltimore at least once to enjoy the cruise out via the bay.  Past Ft McHenry and under the bridge - very cool.  Ship - this is my first trip on a spirit class ship and really loved the layout. Unlike some of the larger ships never felt crowded or swamped with people except during first day line up for dinner seating in the single dining room.  Overall more understated than some of the other Carnival ship decor but lots of private / quiet spaces and good traffic flow.  Ship was amazingly clean.   Only downside I saw all week was that at the aft end of the ship lots of vibration from the propulsion system as we were cooking along at about 22 knots.  Not annoying, just noticable.  Crew - obviously a very happy ship.  The crew was friendly and willing to go out of their way.  CD Kirk was good but Assistant CD Jamie and social host Becca were both amazing.  First time on any ship I have tipped a social host.  Cabin Steward and Waiters were trying hard but obviously overworked.  It appears Carnival has reduced staff in those areas and so waiters have 1-2 more tables so missing some of the special attention of the past.  Don't get me wrong they tried hard and were working their butts off but just too busy.  Cabin steward had 25 cabins (we asked) - kept it all clean but just missing those extra touches.  Food - Food was excellent all week.  Buffet on Lido was better than on other ships we have sailed.  Dining room was better than in past too.  Portions slightly smaller but I view that as a good thing.  Could try multiple items or could walk out of dinner not feeling like I was going to explode.  Tried David's one night for our Anniversary and it was wonderful.  Well worth the extra $30 per person for the 2 of us for a special treat.  DW had the Dover Sole which she loved.  I had the lobster tail which was wonderful.  Can honestly say the only bad meal we had all week was off the grill eating chicken tenders with my DS.  Activities:  Fun Ship activities were varied and frequent - especially on sea days.  Could have used a few more on port days.  Entertainment:  Low point of the cruise.  Only 1 of the lounge entertainers could have won the guest talent show.  Fly in shows in the main room were fantastic but production numbers and lounge entertainers basically bad.  Lido deck band needs to tone down the volume if roof is closed on pool deck.  Camp Carnival - we had to fight to get our DS to leave.  Enough said.  Don't know where they find those saints that work in camp carnival!  Activities were varied, fun, and engaging.  It became a fight to get family time vs DS wanting to be in the camp.  Half Moon Cay - our favorite stop always.  Splurge and rent the private cabana.  Powder sand beach, warm water, snacks and soda's in the cabana,  soft lounge chair - just leave me there forever.   Debarkation - Baltimore puts Miami to shame.  Customs lines short, finding baggage a breeze, immigration line short.  from time we left the gangway to the time we were in taxi to airport was a total of about 8-10 minutes.        Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Our cruise was originally booked as a 7 day 3 stop cruise from Gaqlveston to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.  Due to health issues in Mexico, Carnival and other lines dropped Cozumel from their intenerary with this sailing being the ... Read More
Our cruise was originally booked as a 7 day 3 stop cruise from Gaqlveston to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.  Due to health issues in Mexico, Carnival and other lines dropped Cozumel from their intenerary with this sailing being the last to date having that port of call eliminated.  The line offered credit for future cruises for those electing to make a change by early May.  Our situation was such that we only had one departure window so we soldiered on.  However, in discussing the matter with a Carnuval agent, I was told that not many folks were making changes.  A few days later, the previously fully booked cruise had cabins open up and continued to have them available untill shortly before sailing, so I filed that discrepency away for future reference.I fully understand dropping the port of call, better safe than sorry.  I suppose it was not logistically possible to tie in a third port of call, although something creative like going back to maybe Ocho Rios or something from Grand Cayman and then on to Galveston does not seem to hard to fathom.  At any rate, no other option materialized.  Carnival did refund back $20 per passenger for Port of Call fees for Cozumel.  Obviously this created the potential for things to drag a little on the backside given that there were two sea days in advance of Jamaica and now two sea days after Grand Cayman instead of Cozumel and then back to Galveston.  Where the line of the ship missed the mark was that is was apparent that not much thought was given to adjusting activities/shows/acts/etc to fill in the blank left by Cozumel.  This is an oversight that should not have occured given that the line had five or more weeks to address the issue.  I understand that the ship typically sails full, so I am concerned about the line's mind set on the matter.The Ship - This is a very pretty ship.  It has a French Impressionist theme throughout. The ship was clean and well maintained.  The cabins were roomy by cruise ship standards, in particular the head and shower.  It is obvious that plenty of thought went into efficient cabin design layout.  Getting about in the ship can be a challenge for a first timer but it did not take long to catch on to routes to take.  The food was good in the main restaurant and buffet and I would consider the service to be attentive but not necessarily highly polished.  The entertainment atmosphere in the main dining hall is not as good as what I have expereieced on RC and probably needs some attention.  Similarly, the quality of shows in general is probably not quite what I experienced on RC, with the exception of the comedy acts which were truly funny.  Morevoer - the same commedian did an excellent job of transitioning from the family show to the adult R rated show later the following evening.  Fair warning - they are not kidding about the second comedy show being adult so don't bring those with tender young ears.The first departure day was docked in Jamaica.  Conquest needs to work on getting those with early excursions off the boat early.  There was no apparent effort to do so and several folks nearly missed their excursions.  Ours included Dunn River falls and Ocho Rios and the Ocho Rios had to be skipped entirely due to late deaprture.  Folks paid for the whole gig and the ship should make sure it does not get in the way of that hapenning.Surprisingly, the Cayman Island tendering went much better and the ship quickly emptied.  Go figure.I have to comment on the quality of the Supper Club. The ship charges $30 a head surcharge for this experience and I have to say the experience was superb.  A multi course meal was prepared with imagination, good execution, and was served with style.  The lobster tail was huge and well done.  With a good set of spurs, you could have enetered that lobster into a rodeo riding event and I am not sure you would have made the eight seconds.  The wine list was well thought out and the prices actually fairly reasonable.We did not have an opportunity to partake of kids programs.The Spa was very nice and had a wide range of offerings. One strange design feature is that you enter the gym through the spa lobby essentially, after first passing through the respective locker room for you gender.  The steam bath and sauna facilities were excellent.The clientele is an interesting cross section of society, which makes for some good people watching.  The atmosphere is definitely oriented towards a party and things can get loud and boisterous, but not necessarily out of hand.  While the ship does a good job of limiting the number smoking areas, there are some smoking areas that essentially are difficult to avoid in order to navigate around. There really is not much that can be done to get around this, especially in the case of Alfred's Bar so that is just the way it is.  It did appear that there were plenty of smokers on board looking for a place to go feed their habit. I don't know if this was happenstance or a trend.The ship iteslf was nice and fortunatley the party atmosphere helped carry the day.  I am not sure if some people did not notice that we skipped Cozumel at all, or that insufficent attention to modification of the daily activities had been paid. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
This is my first cruise on Holland American.  Most of my cruises have been on Disney and I must say I am rather spoiled by Disney's service and ships and was a bit Leery that any ship could live up to my expectations.  That being ... Read More
This is my first cruise on Holland American.  Most of my cruises have been on Disney and I must say I am rather spoiled by Disney's service and ships and was a bit Leery that any ship could live up to my expectations.  That being said, HAL was right up there with DCL!  Embarking-Getting to the pier is a tad bit confusing, I do think that they need more signs to get to the drop off area!  Beyond that small hump embarkation was a breeze.  The porter was very helpful and got us moving right along.  From listening to other cc members we got there at about 1030am, perfect timing!   We were handed a letter informing us that swine flu had been confirmed onboard and that we had the option of walking away with a full refund.  We glanced at it and thought for about 2 seconds before filing it away and deciding not to worry about it.  We were on board by about 1115am.  Made our way to the Lido deck, had lunch, only confusion was seeing people with food we couldn't find!  LOL  We then discovered the Lido buffet and loaded up.  I was happy to find my favorite cheese, which is hard to find, that was a nice touch.Room, 2678 cat E-We loved our room, it was small but the storage!  WOW  Having all beds on the ready meant some bumped heads:)   The couch bed made my mom's high standards, it was comfortable(thank goodness).  The pull down was fun for the 9 yr old.  Only complaint here is that the ladder was not really attached and when you did get it to attach it was really loose, it could be a problem if you aren't ready for that.  The main bed was really super comfy!  Our view was always nice to have.  Location of the room was great, pretty easy to find.  Steward was really great, always available for us if we needed anything.  Laundry Service: We purchased the 45 dollar unlimited laundry package on our first day.  This was the best 45 dollars I have ever spent!  Not only was getting four peoples laundry done well it was done fast.  Typically within the same day.  Only once was it ever a bit later and that was the last night of the cruise.  My guess is that more people send out the "by the bag" towards the end?  Nothing to complain about, everything came to us folded in a neat basket or on hangers, pressed and super clean.  If you are even thinking about it DO IT!  If we had known how wonderful this service was we would have not packed about half of what we took!  Kids Club:  Traveling with a rather shy 9 yr old I was concerned about her participating in kids club.  Wow was I ever wrong!  She loved it...so much so that we had to plan events around kids club activities!  The tween program was run by Fifi(nickname), and she was really great.  She always greeted us by name!  They had everything you can imagine to do up there.  Some of what I remember were, tag, board games, arcade, scavenger hunts, dress up contests, coloring contests, bingo, survivor game, camp out(not really), superstar, made t-shirts, chef cooking experience, and probably a bunch of other things!  Well run and enjoyed by all the kids that were in there.  I was worried over nothing!  Spa-I did the thermal suite for 2 for 149 dollars, I was surprised because I had been told it would be 175:)  Well worth it for the thermal suite.  The chairs were just perfect for me, and as an avid reader I could sit and read in comfort and also could really relax completely!   The hot tub was awesome, only the last night the tub was not hot:(  The views were great.  I didn't do any treatments but wish I had, I kept thinking that I would be spending money I needed for other things.  Turns out I would have been fine on money...oh well.  Highly enjoyed the thermal suite!Dining-As  you Wish was perfect for us!  Loved the Lido as I am not a big fan of the 2 hour meals:)   Did eat in the dinning room once with my mom and it was just fine.  All the food was good.  Only small thing was that I wished the hamburger, pizza, hot dog thing was open more.  The hamburger was one of the best I have had!  Alvin in the Lido was so friendly and kind, he is a great guy!  Ship-I was impressed, it was really nice.  I didn't care for the Atrium area but again I am comparing it to Disney.  I also for some odd reason got more turned around on this ship than any I have been on, but that is not HAL's fault, I think I was just relaxed and not thinking fully.  The elevators were fast!  Only small issue that I wish they would have fixed was cleaning the outside of the windows on the Lido deck, I saw them washing them from the inside but this was from the outside and it really needed some work.  It was impossible to take pictures from there and I had a kiddo in the pool so it was where I needed to be.  Techspert sessions!  One word GREAT!   If you are thinking about it go!  I learned a TON and I thought I knew a lot to begin with.  He did go slow to make sure everyone got what they needed but I just worked ahead and listened so it was not a problem, he wants everyone to enjoy it.  Only wish I could have gone to more!  One important note about this cruise....movement!  I have cruised a bunch but this ship had the weirdest motion to it!  Even in calm waters it just seemed off.  Now it could have been just our group but it just felt ... hum... listy?  A lot of vibration as well on each and every deck I was on.  We had rough seas the first day at sea and that night was even worse, I woke up and checked at one point and water was splashing up to our second floor window.  Looked at the tv and it said that there were force 9 winds and 25-30 foot seas.  Woah it was rocky!  In looking at cruises to Alaska again I will highly consider the route and even maybe not do a roundtrip from Seattle.  I think I would want to stick to the inside where we can see land:)  Like I said above, it just felt funny, I read somewhere that maybe a stabilizer was broken and maybe that was it?  Overall it was close to a perfect trip!  And weather!!!  WOW it was like hitting the lottery, amazing weather! 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Sail Date June 2009
Overall Thoughts: We loved the Millennium and the southbound trip from Seward to Vancouver (June 5-12) was terrific. It was absolutely a gorgeous trip and we'd do it again. Millennium Refurbish: The Millennium looks beautiful! All the ... Read More
Overall Thoughts: We loved the Millennium and the southbound trip from Seward to Vancouver (June 5-12) was terrific. It was absolutely a gorgeous trip and we'd do it again. Millennium Refurbish: The Millennium looks beautiful! All the carpets and seating have been changed in all the common areas. We were in a Concierge Class cabin and the flat screen was installed as was all the new bedding. It's very comfortable and appealing. The new color scheme is creams, tans and rusts. Since this was the third sailing since dry dock the carpet in our cabin tended to fuzz a little, but it wasn't anything too bad.Food: Our sailing was the third sailing with the new menus in the dining room. My DH and I really enjoyed the new menus as well as the always available items. Both of us felt that the new menus have multiple choices for the main dish every night as opposed to one obvious choice, which makes it harder! One night the meat selection was overcooked for everyone at the table. We had an opportunity to listen to the chef speak and he mentioned that since this was the third sailing with the new menus, the kitchen still didn't have a feel for what would be selected on any given night so some things might get overcooked or be a little tough. Interestingly, he mentioned the meat dish specifically, so the kitchen was aware. I fully expect that as they get more experience with the menus and daily selections things will be smoother. All in all, though, the meals in the main dining room were fantastic with only one or two small missteps. As for the buffet, several of the popular items remain, i.e. the waffles and sandwiches on 10 aft, the sushi in the afternoon and pasta/pizza all the time. There is a fantastic poached egg/eggs benedict bar in the morning and the grilled fish at the Riviera pool grill was made to order and delicious. We didn't eat at the buffet for dinner so I can't comment on that. Everything we ate at the buffet and the Riviera pool grill was top notch. Seward: We took the Celebrity transfer from Anchorage to Seward. It was a very nice coach style bus and took about 2.5 hours. When we got to Seward, we were planning our own excursion to the Exit Glacier. However, when we got to the embarkation, we learned that we needed to be all aboard at 4:45 pm even though the ship left at 9:00 pm. Since we didn't get to Seward until around 3:00 pm, we didn't have enough time for a side trip to the Glacier. However, we did muster around 5:00 pm so that answered that question. If we had known that we needed to be on the ship by 4:45 pm, we would have arranged our own transportation from Anchorage to Seward and made a side trip to the Exit Glacier. Embarkation was very smooth and didn't take long at all.Hubbard Glacier: It was a beautiful day and cold! We couldn't get too close to the glacier because of all the ice in the water, but it was still a great view. We got some fantastic pictures. The ship broadsided the glacier on both sides so everyone could see. The decks on 10 and 11 were fairly packed so get their early. This time the Captain didn't open the heliport on Deck 5 but I don't think we needed it. Graham Sunderlund, the naturalist, did a great job telling us about what we were looking at and the history of the area. We did see seals on some of the icebergs and there was a moose on the hillside, but we didn't see it. We booked a balcony specifically to enjoy the glacier from our room. Unfortunately, the balconies on Deck 9 (both starboard and port) are best described as obstructed view. Deck 10 is 10 feet wider on both sides than the lower decks. The overhang plus the required supports really detract from the view and make photography nearly impossible.Juneau: It was a clear day so we started with a trip on the Mount Roberts Tram. If it's clear, it's worth the trip. The views are great and the nature walks are lovely. We then took a bus to the Mendenhall Glacier. You can get a $14 roundtrip ticket in the parking lot in front of the cruise ship dock. Once out there, you can walk around and see the Mendenhall Glacier in all its glory. We also walked out the giant waterfall. It's a bit of a hike, across fairly level ground, but when you get near to the waterfall, you have to climb across a pretty hefty pile of rubble to actually get to the waterfall. It's a magnificent thing to see up close. If you don't want to cross the rocks, there is a place to stop and see the waterfall from that distance.Skagway: We opted to rent a car (comfortable, low miles Toyota Camry) from Avis and drive up to Emerald Lake in the Yukon. Last time we took the White Pass Train, so this time we decided to go further! We got the Murray's Guide and were on our way. The drive was absolutely gorgeous!! We saw bears twice on the Canada side and stopped lots of different places to see waterfalls and beautiful views. There were other cars and vehicles that use the same road so we weren't completely alone. One of our stops on the way up was an overlook of the White Pass train tracks and as we were standing there, the train came by. That was pretty cool too. It was cloudy and chilly at the White Pass Summit itself, but it was sunny and warm on both the Skagway side and Canada/Emerald Lake side. We stopped in Carcross to stretch our legs and check out the only town along our path. While there be sure to stop by the Carcross post office. For the price of a stamp, you get a cool Yukon stamp cancelled with an even cooler post office ink stamp. The whole trip took about 6 hours but it depends on how many times and how long you want to stop. Ketchikan: We did the snorkel in Ketchikan with Mountain Point Snorkel and it was awesome! Needless to say we got lots of weird looks when we said we were going snorkeling in Alaska. We saw schools of herring, tons of starfish, crabs, urchins and a couple of eels. The guides scooped up sea cucumbers, urchins and limpids from the bottom for us to look at up close. The sea kelp was also amazing. You don't get that in the Caribbean. We got 7 mm wetsuits including hoods, boots and gloves. We did get wet, but it was fine. While were getting towards the end of the snorkel trip, a pod of three orcas (mom, dad and baby) swam up the channel about 50 yards away. It was fantastic! Mountain Point Snorkel was a very professional tour provider and the guides were very careful and knowledgeable. We'd go again.Inside Passage: The return trip on the inside passage trip was beautiful and peaceful. We hit a totally weird, thick-as-pea-soup fog bank on the way out of Ketchikan. It went from sunny and warm to completely socked in and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees. The ship blew its fog horn about every 10 minutes. About an hour or so later we sailed out of the fog bank and it went back and forth between cloudy and clear all the way to Vancouver. We did have a small outbreak of the norovirus, but it happened towards the end of the cruise and we didn't find it to be too inconvenient. The Millennium staff made the changes as easy as possible, but having sugar and butter distributed individually were interesting. Overall, the norovirus outbreak was not a problem. It was a truly marvelous cruise and again Celebrity out did itself with service throughout the whole trip. We've sailed with Celebrity before, and we will sail with them again. This was our second trip to Alaska and we'll go there again too! Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
HAL Zaandam Alaska Blog/Review June 5-12 Thursday - June 4th. Seven of us flew on Delta from Florida the day before the cruise.  Flight was uneventful.  We had 10 checked bags that arrived in baggage claim right when we walked up.  ... Read More
HAL Zaandam Alaska Blog/Review June 5-12 Thursday - June 4th. Seven of us flew on Delta from Florida the day before the cruise.  Flight was uneventful.  We had 10 checked bags that arrived in baggage claim right when we walked up.  We then waited 20 minutes or so for my aunt and cousin who were arriving from Michigan.  After the whole gang was together, we went to the Shuttle Express kiosk and waited for our pre-booked van.  The van arrived within 10 minutes.  The driver was VERY talkative on the trip to our hotel.  Arrived at the Residence Inn Marriot in Lake Union. We had originally booked 3 rooms at this hotel for $200 a night via the Marriott website, but we later bid via Priceline and got the rooms for $60 a night.  We then got a free upgrade to a 2 bedroom suite.  Very nice hotel - friendly staff.   We had dinner at Buck's Charter house right across the street.  Good chowder and food - nice view of the lake. Friday - June 5th Woke up and had a wonderful free buffet at the hotel.  Then 6 of us took the trolley (located right down the street) to downtown Seattle.  Trolley stopped right at Nordstrom's, so we shopped for last minute items there and at Macy's .  Hopped back on the trolley and went back to hotel.  We had made reservations for Shuttle Express for 11:25 and they were there waiting for us - great service! Arrived at Pier 91 in 15 minutes or so.  Although there were hardly any cars there - we were required to park at the very end of the drop off area and had to walk quite far (my Aunt is 87 and has some difficulty walking long distances).  We checked all our bags and headed right up the escalator.  At the top of the escalator we were all handed a piece of paper and then directed to stand in line.  I didn't read the paper as I was the designated organizer and since we had 9 of us, ranging in age from 16 to 87, there wasn't much time.  (More on this later).  Within 5 minutes, all of us were sent to different desks to check - in.  We were done within 10 minutes - pictures and all.  We were each given numbers of when to board.  I had group 1 as I was in a suite. The others were given group 6.  I waited with the others and we were all boarded within 20 minutes.  This was by far the easiest embarkation I have ever had.  (I have cruised 5 other times - a Baltic cruise with HAL and several Caribbean cruises with Carnival.)  Everyone was directed to the Lido for lunch - which wasn't too crowded.  After our lunch we all headed to the Navigation Deck where our cabins were located.  My daughters' and sister and niece had the "secret cabins" on the aft deck.  Both rooms were set up with the beds together.  There was a room steward finishing up down the hall so we asked if he could separate the beds - his facial expression was one of disgust!  He said.. "yes, yes -I will do it!"  We all looked at each other like - "oh gee, hope he isn't our room steward."  We then headed down to my aunt's room right down the hall and hers was fine.  My Aunt has some difficulty walking long distances so we had arranged with Care Vacations to have a wheelchair rental for the week.  The wheelchair was waiting for her in her cabin. Next up, our suite.  We were in cabin 7016.  The room was ready, so we all went out and sat on the balcony.  It was really nice out there.  We brought out 2 of the chairs from the living room and still had plenty of room to move around. An hour later our luggage arrived and we spent a little time unpacking prior to the muster.  There was plenty of room for all our luggage - although not enough hangers. Muster went well -the weather in Seattle was beautiful so it wasn't too bad in the life jackets. After the muster, we headed back to the cabin and then went exploring the ship.  The Zaandam is in good condition.  Seemed very clean and had no problem getting around (although my Mom got lost throughout the cruise.) I then checked out the Neptune Lounge.  I was really looking forward to the lounge as I love lattes and espressos in the morning.  Our suite was just down the hall from the Neptune. No key card was needed to get in.  Nette was the concierge on duty when I first arrived. She introduced herself to me and I inquired about possibly changing one of the key cards.   We had paid for my younger daughter (16 years old) to be in our Suite so she did have access to the Lounge, but she wanted to hang out with her sister whenever she wanted.  Her sister was in cabin 7086.  Nette informed me that if we changed key cards, my daughter would not "be allowed in the Neptune Lounge."  This I did not understand.  We paid for her in the Suite - we just wanted her to have access to my other daughter's room.  The accounts were all under my name so this was not the problem.  I spoke with my daughter, and she figured it was more important for her to get into her sisters room - so she gave up the Neptune Lounge access.  I did, however, occasionally bring my daughter a cookie or two from the Lounge when she wanted one. We were assigned fixed traditional early seating on deck 4 of the Rotterdam.  However, after I inquired, I was told that half of this floor was for "anytime dining", so there was a line at the maitre d stand (Ronny).  We were informed to pass the line and go to our table - which we did, but it seemed that we did get some strange looks on our way -  like "why are those people cutting the line?" The meal was very good - although the desserts were not that great (I am a huge dessert fan!) and my Mom said that the meat  was very "chewy." Our server (I believe his name was Eric) was very nice and accommodating.  Later that night as I was getting ready for bed I happened to see the letter that was given to us just prior to checking in... I was quite surprised.  It said that on the previous cruise there were reported cases of the swine flu and we were given the option of cancelling our cruise with a full refund. Wow!  I am quite sure that no one took this option as they most likely did not have time to read the letter prior to checking in??  Anyway, we all vowed to be even more diligent in our cleansing and hand washing! Saturday June 6th  - Sea Day The trip to Juneau was smooth (for me anyway).  A few in our group felt a little seasick and had to take Bonine and Dramamine.   My Mom went to Mass and said it was nice. After breakfast in the lido I went to the gym.  This area is smaller than what I had seen on other cruise ships.  It was also difficult to get any of the machines.  The treadmills, elliptical, and recumbent bikes were full. After waiting for 10-15 minutes, I was able to jump on an elliptical and got a pretty good workout. We all went to the Battle of the Sexes game show.  Two in our group were selected to be on stage.  If they hadn't, we probably would have found this a bit boring.  But, since we knew the competitors, it was funny to see them up on the stage. My Mom went to the Pilates class in the gym - she said it was pretty good - a little slower than what she was used to at home. A few went to the Bingo game - but didn't win. Dinner was formal. Most were dressed very nice - some tuxes but not a lot.  The food was good - but, again the dessert was disappointing. This night we had Aquis? for our server.  He was great - very accommodating.  My daughter was a bit seasick and he brought her tea and ginger.  He also had her meal come right away as he said it would be helpful.  We all wished he would have been our server the rest of the cruise (more on this later.)  Later we went to the Wajang Theater and watched the Yes Man - which was pretty funny.  It was rated PG - although it did have a few risquE scenes.  Right after a particularly risquE scene, several older folks got up and left the theatre.  The rest of the movie I sat and worried that my Mom might be offended (she is 76) but she ended up falling asleep.  Ha! Sunday June 7th - Juneau Beautiful day.  Weather was perfect - maybe even a little too warm. We arrived at the pier a little before noon.  It was a little chaotic disembarking.  Long lines (we were right up front as our shore excursion began at 12:30. Within 20 minutes we got off and were on our way. We had a private whale watching tour booked with Orca enterprises.  Captain Larry.  They seemed a bit disorganized at check-in but soon enough we were all on the van to the pier. There were maybe 20-30 folks on our boat.  Smooth waters.  Saw bald eagles, humpback whales (mom and baby), and orcas.  Got great pictures of all.  I spent most of my time on the top deck (when we weren't moving fast).  Did not feel crowded at all.  I saw the boat the cruise ships use for their shore excursions and was happy I hadn't gone that route.  They were 2-3 deep with people. They did seem to be following us a lot that day, though! After the tour, Orca took 6 of us in one van to meet up with Coastal Helicopters for our helicopter/dog sled tour.  3 others were taken via Orca to Mendenhall Glacier. Coastal was wonderful!  We had to get on the scale to get our weight and then they set us up in our gear - nice pants, boots, etc.  We then waited a few minutes for our helicopter.  Our pilot, Brad was super nice.  I was a bit nervous, but he made us all very comfortable.  I was surprised to hear that we were going over 100 mph as it felt like we were hardly moving.  At the dog camp, we met our mushers - Jessica and Robert.  These 2 are veterinary students and couldn't have been nicer.  It was just our party at the camp.  Everyone had a great time and we all had a chance to "mush."  The dogs were all very friendly and we were able to spend some time visiting with the dogs and took a lot of pictures.  It was such a gorgeous day - we didn't even need jackets. On the helicopter trip back, my sister was the co-pilot and got to "help" start the helicopter.  She loved it!  Great experience and well worth the money spent here.  My kids and niece said that this excursion was their favorite of all. We were dropped off by coastal back at the pier - it was still early as we weren't leaving until 10 pm so we headed to a pizza place right next to the pier and the kids had a pizza.  We then went back to the ship and went right to the Lido for a late dinner.  Dinner there was nice - not too many choices.  The dessert was OK.  Ice cream line was very long and had to wait a while.  It was a long day, so we all headed to the cabin and went to bed. The 3 that had gone to Mendenhall Glacier after our whale watching tour were picked up by Orca and taken back to the pier at the designated time.  All 3 said the Mendenhall Glacier was not that great.  They got back to the ship early, but were too tired to go to dinner, so they all ordered room service.  My Mom said the BLT and chocolate cake were wonderful. Monday - June 8th Tracy Arm (NOT!) I had set the alarm to get up early so as not to miss any of the glacier trip, but unfortunately, we were not able to go into Tracy Arm.  The captain made an announcement and from what I could hear (it was difficult at times to understand him in the room), is that they had attempted twice to assess the channel into Tracy Arm and found there to be too much ice? Therefore, he made the decision to go into Endicott arm instead and see the Dawes glacier.  I had not heard anything about this area in the message boards so I really didn't know what to expect.  We saw some small "icebergs" heading toward the glacier.  There were a ton of seals on the pieces of ice.  It was nice to sit out on the balcony and enjoy the scenery, however it was a little disappointing.  The glacier itself was just "there"-  nothing to really view. The ship turned left and right to give us different viewing of the glacier...it got old very fast.  We walked the lower promenade deck and then spent most of the day playing catchphrase and spoons in the cabin - that was fun! We had ordered an appetizer party for 3 that afternoon from the Neptune Lounge.  It arrived right on time and consisted of chicken wings and some cold appetizers.  Dinner was smart casual. This night we had Eddi? for our server.  I am sorry... but, he was awful.  He was not pleasant and we felt uncomfortable asking for anything "special."  My sister was even afraid to ask for extra caramel on her ice cream.    We all went to bed fairly early tonight. Tuesday -  June 9th - Sitka Another nice day - a bit overcast but cleared up later.  We arrived in Sitka a little after 8 am. We had booked 2 separate private tours for 1 pm, but we wanted to explore the town first, so we went down to the tender level shortly after 9.  We only had to wait a few minutes to get on the tender.  The staff was very helpful with my Aunt's wheelchair - they carried it on the tender and took it off for us.  It was difficult to get her up the ramp at the pier as it was quite steep.  Once in Sitka, we walked to the Raptor center.  This was an easy walk for us but was made a little difficult because of the wheelchair.  We had walked through the park (which was very pretty) and it was dirt and stone, so my Aunt had to walk.  The Raptor center was very nice.  The staff there was informative and the animals were beautiful.  We ended up taking a taxi/van service back to the pier.  I had been given a card at the pier, so I called them and they were there in 5 minutes to pick us all up.  5 of us then met with Jim Seeland of Sitka Sound Tours. I had had many emails with Jim to set this excursion up and he was very patient and knowledgeable.  Unfortunately, his boat had some mechanical problems on the day of the excursion, but he was able to get another boat chartered.  The group that went with him had a great time and said Jim was very informative - they saw whales, otters, seals, puffins, etc.  My sister was in the group and got seasick.  The waters were very calm  -  like glass in most areas - but, whenever they stopped the motion got to her.  My younger daughter and I went with Capt. Davey on the Esther G.  There were 3 other folks on our tour.  We saw the same animals as the other group, except we spent a little more time with the grey whales (one was right by our boat) and more time near a rocky island that had a ton of seals lounging. This was an exhilarating experience.  I would have to say that this was one of my favorite excursions.  Capt. Davey was terrific! And we also were given some amazing chocolate chip cookies - remember, I am all about the dessertsJ  Last tender back to our ship was at 4:30, so Capt Davey got us back just in time. My daughter and her boyfriend had an excursion through HAL - the Ultimate Adventure - Boat raft and 4 X 4.  They both loved it and said it was a great excursion.  They did come back quite dirty as the paths on the trail had not seen rain for a week. Once onboard, we got dressed for the second formal dinner.  Some in our group were tired and my sister was still a little seasick so it was just me and 4 of the "kids" (16-19 years old) for dinner.  Since we were not our usual 9, I asked if we could be seated at a different table and were given a 6 top.  It was perfect - right by the windows and thankfully, we had a different server.  He was very accommodating, and friendly.  My niece had ordered the night before for today's dinner (a vegetarian meal) and he was able to find her order and she loved it. Again, most dressed appropriately - some tuxes, but not the majority.  The food was good.. just not great   We had an early day scheduled in Ketchikan so we went to bed pretty early. Wednesday -  June 10th  - Ketchikan Gorgeous day - really could not have asked for a more beautiful day! Today 7 of us were scheduled for a floatplane tour (5 with Michelle on Island Wings and 2 through HAL) and the other 2 (my daughter and her boyfriend) were booked with HAL to zipline. The 5 with Michelle met her van at the pier and had a very short trip to the plane.  We met Michelle and soon headed off in the plane.  The water was calm and take off smooth.  It was truly beautiful to be in the air and see all of the beauty this area has to offer.  We were all given headsets and were able to communicate with Michelle and the others in our party. Michelle also played pretty music while we were flying.  It was very surreal.  Michelle pointed out different areas and was very knowledgeable about the area.  Michelle landed so smoothly in a lake I didn't even know we had landed.  We stopped on a small island to enjoy the majestic view.  Quite beautiful and amazing...no words can describe the beauty. On the way back to Ketchikan, we saw Orcas "playing" in the water and Michelle circled around 3 times so we could get good views (and pictures).  The other 2 on the HAL floatplane said they also had a wonderful trip - however, they did not get off on an island and they didn't see the Orcas.  Later, Michelle mentioned that she could have taken our whole group although there would have been 7 of us.  I was surprised as I had thought there could only be 6 on the plane, but I guess I was thinking of the boat tours?  Michelle said the limit was 8 as long as the weight was under 1200.  Since we were all thin, we would not have had a problem meeting the weight requirement L  We didn't tell the other 2 this information as I know they would have been disappointed to know that they could have flown with Michelle, too.  Anyway - Michelle was absolutely wonderful.  It is very apparent that she loves her job.  It is now difficult to decide which the best excursion was for me as all were more than we could have asked for... After another super smooth landing, we got off the plane and a young man drove us back to the pier.  We inquired about good places to eat and he recommended several in the area.  My sister and I went to Burger Queen just past the tunnel - great burgers.  My aunt, Mom and cousin ate at Annabelles - right across from the pier.  They said it was very good.  My daughter and niece ate at a "wrap restaurant" down the street from the Ketchikan sign (Mission Ave I believe).  They loved them. We got back on the ship just in time for sail away.  We would have like to have had much more time here in Ketchikan as it seemed to be a nice little town. We all got dressed - smart casual- and headed to dinner.  We were back at our regular table and again we had Eddi as our server- not good.  My daughter's boyfriend asked for another appetizer after we had finished our first appetizer and he said "no - it is not allowed" very rudely.  Aquis had no problem bringing extra appetizers or desserts to any of our party, yet Eddi said that it would mess everything up in the kitchen.  My niece again had ordered her vegetarian dinner the night before (like we were instructed to do) so we told Eddi this... his reply "oh, really?"  We said yes, he said there was no order for this.  I told him we had given the order to Nette in the Neptune and she had told us that morning that she had placed the order.  Eddi stated that it would be very difficult to have her order now and she would need to order from the regular menu.  Well, my niece is a strict vegetarian and was somewhat disappointed.  When Eddi passed the table we asked again if he could check with Nette and he looked very displeased but said he would.  Lo and behold, he comes out with her vegetarian appetizer and meal. When our desserts came we liked the chocolate mousse so we asked for extras - again, his expression showed disgust.  He brought the extra desserts and practically threw them in the middle of the table.  Later, I spoke with the maitre d about why we had different servers every night.  He said the first few nights, our server was sick so we had others "fill in" for him.  Obviously, Eddi was considered our server for the trip and we were not too happy about this.  Never once did we see him smile.  I think this might have been related to being on the anytime dining floor (although, we had traditional dining.) Went to the Magic/Comedy Show - Jeff Peterson.  He was really good - funny too.  And the dog was adorable! Thursday June 11th - Victoria Another beautiful day... We were scheduled to arrive at 7 pm today so we planned a leisurely day.  I worked out in the gym for 2 hours. Very few people were there that day.  By the time I was done, I was the only one in the gym - it was great.  We went to bingo - no winners in our group.  We played board games in the suite.  Had a relaxing day. None in our group wanted to eat in the Rotterdam dining room due to Eddi - so, we went to the Lido and had a nice meal.  The Lido was not very organized.  It took a long time to get our meals and many people were quite rude and cutting in lines.  Also, we had a difficult time finding a place to all sit together as many folks that only had 2 (or even 1) person in their party sat at the bigger tables.  We ended up having to eat out by the pool and just pushed 3 round tables together. We were in Victoria sometime after 7.  When they made the announcement that we could disembark, we headed down and found very long lines so we went back to the room and waited 30 minutes.  At that time, there weren't too many folks and we were off the ship within 10 minutes.   We all boarded a bus right out front ($6.50 roundtrip) and headed to Victoria.  Beautiful city - weather was gorgeous.  A little windy and chillier than the other days, but still very nice.  We just walked around and looked at the street vendors - people playing music, dancing, etc.  We shopped a little. I found the prices to be quite high.  The chocolate shop was charging $4.75 for a Lindt chocolate bar that I just paid $2.50 for at Walgreens in Florida. They had a good chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick. We all really enjoyed Victoria and wished we could have stayed a bit longer. After being dropped off at the pier, we stopped in Customs and got our passports souvenir stamped. The security guards were very nice - one volunteered to take pictures of all us next to the mural. We had signed up for Signature Luggage so we put our bags in the hall by 1:00 am and didn't see them again until we arrived home.  (Although, some of our luggage was ruined - we had brand new nice luggage that arrived with broken wheels and handles - not sure if this was Delta or HAL so couldn't really do anything about it.) Friday - June 12th - Seattle Disembarkation After such a wonderful cruise, this was a real disappointment.  Thursday afternoon, we had been given a letter saying which group we were in for disembarkation.  The form said 8:00 - However, since our flight was not departing until 10:20 pm we had plenty of time.  Therefore, I had requested a late disembarkation.  I talked with Nette in the Neptune Lounge and she stated that was fine... we could all leave anytime after 8:00 up until 9:45.  I told her 9:00 would be good.  So, we all ordered room service from 7:30 to 8:00. However, at 7:50 I hear someone trying to get in our room.  I arrive to the door just as the door was opening and it was Putu - our room steward.  He said  "oh, are you just getting up."  I said no, but we weren't ready to leave yet as we had not had our breakfast yet.  I told him that we planned to leave by 9:00.  He had a garbage bag in his hands and he wanted to come in and "clean the garbage"... I asked if he could wait as my Mom was still dressing.  He didn't seem too happy about this.  I understand that there are new people coming and they need to clean the rooms, but why tell someone they have until 9:45 and then come in before 8 to clean??  A few minutes later an overhead announcement was made that disembarkation had begun and passengers could begin to leave the ship. Not 5 minutes later the door is opening again (no one knocked) and it is the honor bar man.  He walked right in, saw us and said "I just need to check the refrigerator" - he proceeded to empty out the champagne we had on the counter and take the orange juice out of the fridge.  I was in total shock of the rudeness.   A few minutes later our breakfast arrived.  My Mom and I sat down to have our last meal and a quick cup of coffee before we did a final check of the room.  Just as I sit down, someone knocks again and starts to enter our room - it is a man wearing a tan jumpsuit - he says "oh" and turns around and leaves.   Not 2 minutes later he is on our balcony (he had crossed over from the next suite) and he was hosing down the balcony - picking up the rug - moving the furniture.  A few minutes later, another man joined him on the balcony. My Mom hurried off the couch and finished getting dressed. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
     Embarkation was easy and fast. My wife and I booked a verandah suite.  Overall the cruise to Alaska was OK...but not as good as previous cruises with HAL.  The food was bland, the portions were very small,  and the service was ... Read More
     Embarkation was easy and fast. My wife and I booked a verandah suite.  Overall the cruise to Alaska was OK...but not as good as previous cruises with HAL.  The food was bland, the portions were very small,  and the service was very slow.  It took ten minutes to get an iced tea and I always had to ask for refills.  The dining room stewards were working the tails off but there were not enough of them.  It appears that HAL is trying to save money on labor costs.  The Lido buffet served the exact same food as the dining room...so we ate at the buffet often.  The service was better and faster.  The Pinnacle Grill served the "premium" food...but at an extra cost.  I remember the days of cruising when we ate the premium food every night in the dining room (no extra cost) and the buffets served various foods around the clock.  It appears that HAL is trying to cut costs on food service as well.        The toilets on the ship worked only part time.  I made numerous calls to guest services and finally got someone to answer the phone on the fourth attempt.  They said they were doing tank repairs.  The toilet issues lasted the duration of the cruise.  I called the dining room to cancel a  5:15 dinner reservation (again numerous attempts) and no one answered the phone...ever.  I called guest services (they answered the phone on the first attempt) and they informed the dining room telephone line "closes" after 4pm.  No recording...no answer machine...no automatic call forwarding...simply rings and rings with no answer.       The gym was nice but the air conditioning seemed weak...it was very hot up there.  The gym was adequately equiped and had a nice view.     Room service was so so...I ordered breakfast every morning with coffee. On one occasion they forgot to bring cream for my coffee.  I called room service and they informed me that I had to actually order cream.  I thought it would be automatically included with a coffee order.  They advised me they would bring cream right away...it never showed up.   The next day's breakfast (I saw there actually was a check box for cream on the order form) came much earlier than it was supposed to.  The room service steward seem upset that it took me extra time to wake up, put on clothes, get dressed, and answer the door.  I asked him to remove a tray from last night's burger and he frowned and sighed with disgust as he took the tray. Another employee got upset with me because I couldnt understand his broken english.     Now to disembarkation....we were told we could wait in our rooms or a lounge until our scheduled time to leave the ship.  Our scheduled disembarkation time was 9:00 am.  We had breakfast and went back to the room at 8:30 to wait.  We are sitting on the bed waiting and we see a door open on our PRIVATE balcony and a HAL employee steps on to our balcony and looks into our stateroom.  I guess its a good thing we weren't changing clothes or something other.  I couldn't believe HAL couldn't wait until all passengers left the ship before they started invading private balconies. After this we decided to leave our room and wait in a lounge. Disembarkation went smoothly and quickly.  I'm not sure I would sail with HAL again...it appears they are cutting costs too much.  Service and food quality suffered a huge decline from from the past.  We spoke with other passengers and they noticed the decline in quality and service as well. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
My son is leaving for college and wanted to go on a family cruise before he leaves.  I chose Carnival out of Baltimore because we don't have the hassels of flying.  It was an easy drive  to the pier.  We arrived late at 3:30 and ... Read More
My son is leaving for college and wanted to go on a family cruise before he leaves.  I chose Carnival out of Baltimore because we don't have the hassels of flying.  It was an easy drive  to the pier.  We arrived late at 3:30 and had no problems getting thru security and were soon in our rooms with luggage and were able to unpack before leaving the harbor.The first 2 days at sea were very relaxing- maybe too relaxing for my 3 teenagers. They refused to join in the activities at the O2 Club. I could care less since they had their own cabin and my husband and I had ours. We met each day at dinner at the Normandie Restaurant where the food was so good we never bothered to try David's.My husband and I are early risers so we would get up early and go to the spa to work out-I did the Aerobics and Yoga class each morning before going down to breakfast.The rest of the day was spent reading or playing games.The ports were fine-interesting that Carnival seems to keep you from any contact with the "natives".  Grand Turk is a very small island 1 x 7 miles with a small beach.  It would have been nice to be able to rent bicycles to explore on our own. None were available.Half Moon Cay was very "Disney-like" in its perfection-crystal clear water and perfect sugar sand beaches.Freeport was an industrial port with only the Carnval Excursions or the 5$ taxi ride to the "approved" Lacayna shopping area. I felt very CONTROLLED.The decor of the Pride was just tacky.  Renaissance nudes and pink  plastic rope trim  in the elevators?  My teenagers thought the naked boys having sex with the porpioses in the Mermads Grille were odd. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
We traveled on the Elation 3-night itinerary that was originally scheduled to go to Ensenada. The itinerary changed a couple times due to the swine flu, resulting in a final itinerary of Ensenada one day and Catalina one day. This ... Read More
We traveled on the Elation 3-night itinerary that was originally scheduled to go to Ensenada. The itinerary changed a couple times due to the swine flu, resulting in a final itinerary of Ensenada one day and Catalina one day. This itinerary actually was better for us since we like to visit different ports.The food on the Elation was good. Portions in the main dining room are small. Many passengers ordered two entrees, two appetizers, etc. Some dishes were very good, others just okay. The buffet dishes were good and consistent overall. My family liked the pizza at the 24-hour pizzeria. One thing we learned - when you first arrive in the dining room, the waiter asks if you want bottled water or sparkling water. These cost extra. You should ask for tap water if you don't want to pay the extra money.Our room was on the Riviera Deck toward the back of the ship. When the ship was moving, it was pretty noisy. There was a loud hum and lots of vibration the whole time. For some reason, when the ship was docking, we could hear other loud mechanical noises as well. But the room itself was decent. The televisions were old and had poor resolution. There were plenty of towels and bedding. There is no hair dryer in the room, so you'll need to bring your own if you need one. Amenities included soap, shampoo, and body wash. Each night we had a towel "animal" and piece of chocolate in our room.My sixteen-year-old son and his friend who came along on this trip were not impressed at all with Club O2. We met a couple other families on the ship whose teenagers said the same thing about the teen clubs. Many of the teens hung out together in the public areas (hot tub, lounges).The ship does rock back and forth when cruising. None of us got sick, but I can see where someone who is motion-sensitive might want to take some medication for the cruise.Overall the entertainment was okay. A comedian one night, and Las Vegas-style revues the other two nights. It's worth sitting through after dinner.Drinks (sodas, beer, wine, mixed drinks, juice) are expensive when you order them at any of the lounges. Drink what you can at the buffet. Purchase other drinks in port to bring back with you. And bring an initial stash of drinks with you when you board. Carnival allows a small cooler carry-on for this purpose. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Overall,  this cruise exceeded my expectations.    Having read some of the reviews here,  I expected medicore food and service.   Both were very good (in the regular dining rooms) to excellent (in the surcharged restaraunts).   ... Read More
Overall,  this cruise exceeded my expectations.    Having read some of the reviews here,  I expected medicore food and service.   Both were very good (in the regular dining rooms) to excellent (in the surcharged restaraunts).   Overall ship board service was excellent.   Having a suite really helps,   you have a butler to do things for you like book excursions and reservation and have dedicated shorter lines.    But overall,  the service across the ships was good.   Mininal lines,  short waits on phone calls,  food service times met expectations.The ship was extremely clean and crew was very friendly.   The onboard entertainment was better than expected, and there were a good number of otAnd the venue can't be beat.   Cruising is a great way to see the Islands.   NCL was running a promo where the kids traveled free in the suite,  so other then sleeping on the soft-bed,  they had a great time.This is the third cruise we have been on,  Carnival,  Royal Caribean and Princess.    NCL clearly exceeds the Carninal and RC cruises and was on par with the Princess,  which was better than I expected.I'll add some tips in each of the ports,  but overall,  here are a couple of things:-Bring an alarm clock.   The rooms have no clock,  which is a supposed to make you not worry about the time.   However,  practically,  there are things like excursions,  diner reservations and departures,  which you are SOL if you miss.-If you plan to spend time in Honululu,  go before the cruise rather than staying after.   First,  it gives you cushin if you have flight delays,   second,  after a week at sea,  most people are ready to go home.-Look into suites for families up to 2 kids,   they were free this year,   normally they still cruise for $500 or so.-Book your excursions before the cruise.   Those were the only really lines and delays we saw,  people waiting in line to book excursions on the first couple of days.-Renting a car is always a good,  cheap alternative to a cruise excursion,   and since it is still America,  it is very easy.-No need to bring a lot of snacks and soda and water on board.  You can buy them,  but all of the ports but Maui have easy walking access to convinence stores.   There are even WalMart shuttles in every port.-Having a cabin on one side or the other doesn't make any difference from a sight-seeing standpoint.  It evens out over the cruise. The 2nd port was Maui,  but its not listed.   Overall,  I never liked Maui,  the west coast was always too congested.However we did a beach day at Wailea,  which was much more quiet and had a great beach.   We could walk to the Four Season and get drinks and lunch.   Second day we did the Iao Needle and aquariam.    Good for a short day,  as we had to be back on the ship by 5pm.In hindsight, we could have done all with a 2-day car rental and saved some bucks,  but the excursion service was very good and you learn a lot on the trips. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
I want to let any reader know that I've NEVER complained about any vacation. My family and I have been doing a cruise a year since 2002 and have always had an amazing time. I also want to note that I've cruised wtih Carnival in ... Read More
I want to let any reader know that I've NEVER complained about any vacation. My family and I have been doing a cruise a year since 2002 and have always had an amazing time. I also want to note that I've cruised wtih Carnival in the past and had a really great experience and would maybe attempt another Carnival cruise just not on the Destiny.The service was amazing (especially in the dining room) mostly every worker always had a smile and always ready to help. The ship is very out-dated  but VERY CLEAN. ROOM: My husband and I booked a balcony room and were pretty disappointed with the room itself as well as the balcony as it was not very spacious. The bathrooms are set up horrible. Basically, while you're sitting on the toilet, your feet are in the shower!  The only highlight was the bed (very comfortable).FOOD: TERRIBLE quality for a cruise. I always look forward to the food on a cruise and I can't express enough how disappointed we all were. Breakfast on the "Lido Deck" was redundant and always overcrowded. The lines were ridiculous and we stood in line for at least 15 - 20 minutes. They actually ran out of syrup one morning!  We only went to the Lido two mornings, the toher mornings we hit the dining room where there weren't any lines-food still wasn't great but loved the service. Lunch was always the same - basic burgers or pizza. Dinner was a whole other story!!! The menu was limited and to be honest, I've never been on a cruise that offered Chicken and Turkey two nights in a row. Also, it was Diner quality food! The only steak offered was Flank (offered every night) and was very fatty. I'm not sure if the ship was overbooked, but even the common areas seemed too overcrowded. Hope this review was helpful. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Carnival is the fun ships. This is true, and it is great to see a company spread its wings and have a little fun. From the 80's and classic rock playing in the common areas, to the Spirit Competition you can and will have fun on these ... Read More
Carnival is the fun ships. This is true, and it is great to see a company spread its wings and have a little fun. From the 80's and classic rock playing in the common areas, to the Spirit Competition you can and will have fun on these ships.But the Liberty is not without its faults. Mainly in the ships design. There are two main dining rooms, both two levels. Silver and gold. Silver is located decks three and four aft. And this is great. Most of the seats have a great view from the 180• windows out the back of the ship. The Golden dining room is the pain. It is located decks three and four midships. And its location is a pain for anyone getting off the elevator midships on Deck three and four. You cannot walk around the dining room. So if your walking on deck three or four from fore to aft you have to go up and around the Golden Dining room. This is a real paint until your get used to it.The other design flaw is the Lido Deck buffet restaurant Emile's. There are way to many choke points in the dining room. The doors into the area are small and wierdly placed. The buffet lines meet in the middle and garner massive confusion when the place is busy. Some of the drink stations are placed in the middle of walkways and get in the way of people moving about the dining room. This place gets busy at breakfast and lunch, and some better traffic control is in order.But beyond these few complaints, this is a great ship and a great itinerary. Fun fun fun. Great food, all of the food I ate (and I had a lot two entrees a night) was great. And the casual buffet food was great too.The kids program ranks up there with Disney an Royal Caribbean. The staff is attentive and professional. The kids program is open almost all day. The kids get to eat with their friends in Camp Carnival every night. This way they can skip the boring dinner with us adults. My daughter loved it so much I had to drag her out every night at midnight.Overall, if you like the beach, a party and the sun then this is a great cruise for you. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
I have just returned from the June 7th sailing of the Carnival Legend out of Tampa. The "family" consisted of my wife and myself (age 47), two 18 yr old boys and two 17 yr old boys. It was  a post graduation cruise for the 18 ... Read More
I have just returned from the June 7th sailing of the Carnival Legend out of Tampa. The "family" consisted of my wife and myself (age 47), two 18 yr old boys and two 17 yr old boys. It was  a post graduation cruise for the 18 ys olds.The wife and I were in  an extended balcony on the starboard side forward, and the boys were in a quad balcony port side forward. This is the fourth cruise for us, having been on Carnival Glory, and twice on the Mariner of the Seas, all out of Port Canaveral. Drove down to Tampa Saturday night from N.C. Stayed per the advice on this board at Chase Suites out on Rocky Point. Rooms a little dated but clean and very roomy. Staff at hotel very pleasant and accommodating. Shuttle to port a breeze.  They put 2 shuttles on Sunday. Arrived at ship about 1130 AM. Major traffic congestion and generalized chaos greeted us. Poor design of terminal likely because of space limitations. Port Canaveral much better. greeted at door by some  mean and brusque old lady who lectured me about how one of the boys names were worded. After getting upstairs things went much better. Pleasant staff checking you in. On to the ship by 1230 or so.We got into our cabins by 130. Cabin was very clean, needed the beds put together and told the steward and was done at the nighttime turndown.The Ship: Interior areas were typical Carnival in garish decorating style, but very cool, makes you feel like you are in another world. Some details showed age as in rust spots loose balcony dividers etc.  they were painting our side of the ship at port, paint all sprayed on balcony furniture. It looked like teak oil had been put on balcony rail, yet was also smeared all over plexiglass as well. The 17 yr old would have likely done a better job! Just was something I had to look at the whole trip and it bugged me as I am detail oriented( can't you tell?). While this was the smallest ship we had been on, it really wasn't that different than the Glory, plenty of room and neat bars and common areas of ship. Its really for us the perfect size. My only complaint is that there are not many quiet areas on deck to sit and read. I used my balcony for this, but on the Mariner, for example, there were lounges on the lower decks that were off to the side and quiet. I missed that on this ship.The staff: Usual hard working but for me irritating cruise director. She means well but I can't stand the repeated announcements. Captain was Italian like most of the Carnival Skippers. Spoke pretty good English. Extremely punctual. We are sailing at 4:00, we left at 4:00. Ship weighs anchor at 5:00, we weighed anchor at 5:00 even if still off loading tenders. he will not wait for you so you better be on board! Had a few run ins with security staff, but generally handled the situations well. Teens  do seem to like flaunting the rules for some reason. They did put one person we met off the ship, Chris from Alaska for some unknown type of craziness late one night on the Lido deck. Never did get the full story, but  they did escort him off the ship in Roatan(so don't do crazy stuff or they will put you ashore). Bartenders very pleasant but you could tell they had reduced their numbers. Measured every drink poured, but an extra dollar on the check might get you an additional 2 seconds of additional pour time. Housekeeping staff also seemed fewer in number, but not completely sure about that. Dining room staff was excellent. maitre d Yusef involved, personable, came by table each night. Usual Carnival dance routines but staff actually seemed to enjoy themselves.True professionals! Dining: we ate at 815 late seating. Did not miss a meal.  We thought about doing the anytime dining, but I really enjoy bonding with the waitstaff. To me its one of the great things about cruising.  Food was generally pretty good. Portions just the right size, they will always bring you more. I has forgotten about the chocolate melting cake, wow! If you are an espresso or cappocino drinker, don't be afraid to ask. there is no charge for this in the dining room. As  I said earlier, "Showtime" was great at the end of dinner. Went to the Golden Fleece specialty restaurant. You must do this once. Truly a good if not better meal than you could get in the finest restaurant in your town. One of the finest steaks I have ever had, great appys, salad and desserts. Has a sommolier as well. Service was unbelievable!  Wine list. I am a wine lover and there were really many good selections on ship, priced similar to what you would see in restaurant at home. Carnival has really done a great job improving their cellar from the last time I cruised with them in 2003. they have  awine package, both premium and regular, but I did not want to be restricted on my choices so I did not get it and I was glad I didn't. Many good selections to choose off the list! And I tried most of them! Lido deck food well organized. many small buffets rather than one large one. I liked the asian buffet the most. Burgers were also very good, much better than Royal carribean.Shows: I don't do shows so nothing to report here.Musicians: Uniformly great. Excellent guitarist, Piano man in piano bar not to be missed. That was the place to be from 1000 until 1200 every night. Rock and roll band also played great dancing music in Satchmo's. Also has an instrumental pianist that was outstanding. A few other guys that were really good performners as well, esopecially the guy with the synthesizer that could do Culture Club one minute and Ozzy Osbourne the next! Didn't hear the reggae band as I stayed off the main pool area most of the time.Magician: Ram, a guy from India who could make anyone laugh or smile with his magic. We loved him and the teens loved him.Casino: This was best run casino I have seen on a cruise ship. Most of the dealers knew what they were doing and most pleasant to deal with. They had some trouble keeping up at the craps table, but largely due to the stickman returning the dice to the shooter too quickly. Plenty of $5 blackjack tables as well. They gambling types seemed to enjoy themselves here.Pools: didn't spend alot of time around the pools. has an adult pool  in the stern. Heard rumors from my boys of some sex acts occuring in both the main and adult pools in the middle of the day, but can't say for sure. Keep an eye on your surroundings if you have little kids (there is a kids area and pool on the sports deck). While alot of lounge saving was going on around the pools, you could always find a lounge chair up on the sun deck.Gym and Spa: This were I met the only rude crew member on board. The Spa people aren't interested in you if you just want to work out. The guy (?) at the desk was just dismissive when I asked about the gym equipment. Gyn is small, machines cramped. Really no view fromn the treadmill because the curtains are in the way. TV cannot be seen from most off equipment. Weight area crowded. No room to move. Very disappointed in this area of ship.. Disembarkation: Fairly smooth. If you want to get off self assisted be ready at 0750 and at 0800 you will get right off. Same irritaing old ladies to greet you. If you don't have a free hand you will be forced to wait in line for elevator, rather that zipping down escalator. Customs quick efficient, no searching bags that I saw, but they gave you a good once over, so they might have searched some. Shuttle pick up across the street in bottom of parking deck. Fairly quick response from the Chase suites, offered us breakfast at the hotel when we got back there, but we just got int he car at 0900 to start the long drive home. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
We took our first cruise on the Carnival Ecstasy in 2004 and have cruised every year since with Carnival.  Let me say from the beginning that we LOVE Carnival and are already planning to cruise to Alaska with them next year.  We will ... Read More
We took our first cruise on the Carnival Ecstasy in 2004 and have cruised every year since with Carnival.  Let me say from the beginning that we LOVE Carnival and are already planning to cruise to Alaska with them next year.  We will probably take a shorter "weekend" cruise between now and then as well. We sailed from Galveston on June 7th and had cabins 9294, 9290, 9288, 9284, 7704 and 2270.  Quite a crowd.  One in our group was in a wheelchair, one should have been, 4 were between 79 and 85, 2 in their 60's, 4 in their early 50's, 3 in their early 20's.  I need to compliment the Embarkation crew - they allowed us to stay together and check in through VIP check-in because of the wheelchair, and quickly brought another wheelchair complete with "driver" for my father-in-law.  If you haven't boarded at Galveston - the walk is LONG to get aboard ship and the walk can add an equal amount again depending on where you get dropped off in front of the cruise terminal.  Embarkation (12:30 PM) was smooth with no delays. Cabins:  My only note here is DO NOT book 9294, 9290, 9288, 9284 (Port Side) or the similar ones STBD unless you are an early riser !!!!  For some reason, Carnival picks up all the deck chairs every night.  The crew starts putting them out on deck at 6:00 AM sharp every morning!  The chairs are large and there is one guy putting them out and he (there were different ones on different mornings) literally throws them onto the deck.  It is VERY noisy in those cabins early morning !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Note to Carnival - this was REALLY discouraging.  I'm sure you know of this and the vacation planner could have warned us. Pools:  The Lido deck pool mid-ship is a hoppin' place - lots of family, kids, music - always something going on.  If you like to be in the sun with less noise - the adult pool in the back of the ship is the place to go !  Never crowded, it has it's own bar and also has the 24-hour pizza bar on one side and a hamburger bar on the other.  Un-crowded restrooms as well ! Food: Can't say enough good about the food... it's fabulous !  Shows:  The "kids" putting one the shows are truly putting their heart and soul into an effort to be entertaining.  We met many of them in Henri's late evenings - they're great people!  Having said so, if you have seen one show on Carnival you have seen them all - in terms of music styles and story-line.  It's a show, it's nice and it's fun.  It's definitely not Broadway or Vegas quality with regard to the "little" things like dancers being in sync, etc.  Still - very fun and nice.  For us, we'll probably start skipping them and going to the Casino bar area at night.  On this ship - there is a GREAT band called "Blackjack".  We first heard them on Ecstasy and they have a great sound with the ability to cover nearly every genre of music you can ask for. Shore tours:  We went to Sandal's in Jamaica - we won't be going ashore in Jamaica again.  In this case - we did not know - and there is no note in the tour description - that the resort is literally on the boundary of the airport !!!!   In fact, when you check in and have the little orientation talk - they have a thing that everyone on the beach is to wave when they hear the plane go over - which is just after liftoff and they sail over at about 250 feet just North of the beach !!!  FORGET a nap in the nice lounge chair.  This alone makes the $119 per person charge obscene.  The Jamaican people can be polite - they are also very much in need of everything and this makes them - at least the ones we have always encountered - very pushy when you shop and vocally upset if you don't buy something.  Both our boys were approached at beach edge with guys wanting to sell shells... but also asking if they wanted some "grass".  Not cool !  We've been both by air and by sea and it just seems to get more and more expensive and less and less tropical... the island is a mess - still - from several direct hits of hurricanes in the last few seasons. Grand Cayman was as nice as always.  It's clean, no crime, no push.  A note here, the Cayman people are very sensitive to tourists wandering around with tiny bathing suits and no shirts.  They have strict laws against any form of nudity or lewdness and prefer that "guests" to their country remain fully clothed while in public.... Especially in the stores and shops.  If you like water anything - this is the place ! My current pet peeve:  Since 2004, my wife and I have paid for 10 cabins (3 this time) and have brought with us 12 cabins worth of friends and family.  On this cruise alone, our personal sign and sail tab was $5,600.00.   Best guess, we have spent nearly $40,000 personally with Carnival.  THEY NEED TO REWARD this type of loyalty.  Right now, nothing "real" happens until you cruise 10 times.  Of course, you have a different color sign-and-sail card and you are invited to a special cocktail party on the last day of the cruise.  I paid $48 for a soda card.... Maybe that is one little thing Carnival could comp to it's loyal customers.  Maybe some sort of real discount on shore tours - SOMETHING.  On the formal night, we were waiting in the show lounge ahead of the start and I had given my cabin key to my son who wanted something from our room.  I asked the crewmember taking drink orders if he could bring me a diet coke.  I told him that my son had my sign-and-sail card but would be right back.  "Why does your son have your sign-and-sail card?"  Um.. "because he needed something from our cabin."  "I'll come back when you have your card sir."   This REALLY offended me !!!!!!!!  I was dressed in a suit, have spent thousands with Carnival... and was just basically accused of lying to this chap about having a proper coke sticker on my sign-and-sail card.  NOTE TO CARNIVAL- very un-cool !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  He never came back and I found someone else to order the coke from. Okay - 'nuf said.  Don't let my 5-time pickiness turn you away.  Like any business, Carnival has areas they could improve.  In every way however, we feel that the price is right, the ships are great, the fun is there if you want it, and Carnival is convenient to nearly everyone who might want to try a cruise.  ENJOY ! Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
OVERVIEW: My niece, Maggie Cate and Jay, her honey planned to get married at Jobson's Cove in Bermuda. She disseminated her plan last summer and pretty much invited those she loved her and Jay to time their vacation to coincide with ... Read More
OVERVIEW: My niece, Maggie Cate and Jay, her honey planned to get married at Jobson's Cove in Bermuda. She disseminated her plan last summer and pretty much invited those she loved her and Jay to time their vacation to coincide with their wedding. No fuss. No stress. No worries. Just good friends, loving family cruising on the Norwegian Spirit to Bermuda. They essentially invited us on their honeymoon. Our group numbered thirty-three. We planned a few optional group dinners, of course the wedding day events and created a communication center on our cabin door - a must for a group. It was free and easy sailing.BOOKING/PLANNING: If you use a travel agent, a week or two out from your sailing date ask for the PDF NCL Guest Invoice, which you are entitled to. Don't ask me why or I might tell you LOL!. Take my word for it. Also, MAKE SURE that the charges on your credit card are from NCL, NOT, I repeat, NOT from your travel agent. See above for explanation. Also, read, research, read. CruiseCritic was a great place to learn about the ins and outs of cruising. Bermuda4u.com; Bermudatourism.com were two great sites. I also surfed hundreds of others to create our group wedding site www.maggiecatenjay.wetpaint.com which contains oodles of information that will be, I think mostly pertinent until October '09. The more you know the more you will get out of your trip. On my last cruise (my second on NCL) I found out Room Service was 'free' on the very last day (duh!). THIS time I ordered coffee from room service the first morning. WHAT A TREAT! Just a few bucks for a tip and viola I'm sipping away the best coffee on the ship; easy as pie!EMBARKATION: We arrived at the Black Falcon Pier quite early because Maggie Cate, our bride had arranged for a Liberty Coach (Braintree, MA) 'party bus' to transport many of us and wonder of wonders there were no SNAFU's and nobody was late... Hence we arrived at about ten-ish under the expert care of our driver, Elise. The skies were quite overcast but it was not raining - it was sweatshirt weather. We had an excellent MassPort porter who took our bags right from the bus to be checked and we got in line about twenty people from the main entrance to the terminal and waited; we had a great time in line. We were so centrally located that many of our group spotted us, which was great. As it approached 11:00 a long line formed to check their luggage and people had to shuffle their bags up a foot and wait, another foot and wait hundreds of times. This is Mass Port, not NCL though - a very bad system (I plan to write a letter!). We felt badly for those people but nobody in our group complained about it specifically. Apparently many folks had not yet disembarked and they seemed to trickle out during this time. Black Falcon Cruiseport Terminal itself is an embarrassment for a Bostonian. It needs a face lift, which I understand was postponed because of budget issues - but a coat of paint and better signage would be a HUGE improvement. Around 11:30 folks started to file into the terminal building and we were off. It was very exciting. There was a very long counter set up a bit like a bank and we waited briefly for our turn. I got to the Latitudes check-in but I'd lost my cabin mate, Magz (mother of the bride) who had my paperwork and I joined her at the long counter. Folks on either side of us checked in seamlessly but our check-in person had a technical issue with here little electronic swiper machine and it would not read our passports or credit cards. We waited there for what seemed like fifteen minutes or so which was really not a problem. We were whisked away to be processed properly and wonderfully and all was well... great actually. At this point we met Bruce, the Concierge who felt badly about our wait. He was very helpful and kind. We liked him right away and he was a big help to us throughout the cruise. He was (is) great. Tremendous, really. What a gem. It was at this point we told him about Maggie Cate's wedding and his ears perked right up. He is just a wonder. A great NCL emissary.GATHERING: Our group trickled onto deck 7, outside Henry's Pub - directly across the reception area from the embarkation gangway. Beverages were purchased (it was, of course a bit after noon) and we passed a very pleasant hour or so (Times from here on in are very approximate and subjective i.e. how long thirty seconds seems while having a tooth drilled and how short those same thirty seconds would seem doing your favorite thing... Cruising!) Magz and I went to find our cabin and met our WONDERFUL cabin (10106) steward/stewardess team: Willy (Wilfredo) Jr. and Rachel. They were sweet and welcoming and "Of Course!" we could leave our bags, which we did. We asked them for the refrigerator that we'd requested as well as the egg crate thing for the bed which seemed to arrive before we even finished asking. Then we were off to explore the beautiful ship. (Cabin details later.)EXPLORING: The reception area is just beautiful and very spacious. The sweeping staircase and glass elevators are beautiful, as are the fountains and Asian decor. However, I was expecting overwhelming Asian - like the Chinese restaurant down the street but it was not overwhelming at all. It is just beautiful and just right. An accent rather than a focus. We met others folks in our group at Raffles for lunch and had a great time. The food was very good. I had hoped to go to Windows only because of what I'd read on Cruise Critic but Raffles was not all that crowded, the food was great... and everybody was happy and busting with anticipation. MUSTER: The Safety/Life Jacket Muster was scheduled at 3:30. You simply need to grab the life jacket in your closet, look at the map on the back of your door for your 'muster station' which is also printed on your life jacket and go to the designated spot. It was maybe fifteen-ish minutes. Our group was not very lively but I heard later that some groups were and the muster for them was fun (ours wasn't bad - just business-like). It was over in a flash. Don't try to skip it, your cabin number is on your life jacket and your leader checks off who's there and who's not.POST LIFE JACKET GROUP GATHERING: We headed up to Raffles Terrace Starboard for our planned (the only 'mandatory') Goodie Bag Meeting that all thirty three of our group attended (whew!). It was great to see everybody together. Our bride handed out some great goodie bags. Magz had made and gave out some wedding CD favors and everybody got a great 'neck safe/wallet' (little waterproof plastic flip-top boxes to hold your key card and other trinkets). They worked out great (WindyCityNovelties.com). We also made little business card-size magnets to identify our wedding cabins (for ourselves). As far as I know not ONE magnet went missing. CABIN: We went back to 10106 to get organized and set up our 'communication central' door. We posted our group's itinerary, a blank notepad, a pencil on a string (I actually brought a BUNCH of pencils figuring they would disappear but it never did LOL!), a "I am DEFINITELY doing such and such" form. We also posted highlighted dailies later in the cruise and other pertinent info. It worked out great. The cabin itself was great. Absolutely immaculate. Crisp yummy sheets and a 'white-white' coverlet on the bed. Mmmmm, the sheets smelled so good, too. The little desk and chair was very handy (with the 'fridge under it). There were a few drawers and shelves and the closet was quite large, I thought. I loved the bathroom set-up. The sliding shower doors were great and the sliding door to conceal the toilet. was a great touch. The showers were hot and powerful (quite a surprise). The flush of the toilet was a bit loud but, well, that was just AOK with us (better safe than sorry!). We hung our shoe organizer thing (would NEVER cruise without one - Thanks, CruiseCritic). There was also a little couch but that was kind of my 'bureau' so we didn't sit on that much. The flexible suitcases fit perfectly under the bed. The pillows were scrumptious and varied. Some a bit more fluffy, some a bit firmer. PERFECT! I had to leave my own pillow, that I ALWAYS travel with at home because of suitcase space issues and was thrilled at the pillow situation (small pleasures LOL). Our balcony was just wonderful. Two canvas-slung-type chairs and a little table. When we had company (which was quite a bit) there was some lap sitting and straddling of the sliding glass doors with the desk chair. We loved the balcony. As a matter of fact, in retrospect I fear we spent way too much time there. Though we loved it we missed some fun stuff (Sexy Legs Contest on the last sea day for example) topside. Oh well, can't have it all! I didn't watch even a second of TV but did have the music station on quite a bit - a good mix of tunes... There were plenty of mirrors and some lovely artwork. The slider drapes shut all the way and really darkened the cabin. It was a great cabin (I miss it LOL!).NOISE: I suspect we were pretty loud because our cabin was so busy many times a day and many evenings... We kept asking our neighbors if we were bothersome and they assured us that the noise level was fine. We were right at the mid elevator bank, starboard, two cabins up the hall. A great location. I thought the volume of traffic would going by such a central spot might be noisy but it wasn't...WHALE SIGHTING: We and oodles of others saw whales frolicking off the starboard side on the first day... around dinner time, I think. BONUS!!!! Capitan Harstrom told us that the Spirit voluntarily slows down in whale feeding/frolicking grounds to give them time to 'get out of the way.' BONUS POINTS for him and the Norwegian! Dave in our group caught a great photo of the whale's fluke (not sure what kind of whale - pretty sure it was not a humpback).WEATHER: Our weather in Bermuda often looked 'iffy' but there was very little actual rain (a burden for Bermudians as they are VERY short of water). It was rainy leaving and returning to Boston and too chilly for the pool once we were a few hundred miles from Bermuda. But no worries. There was plenty to do and the hot tubs are open even in the chilly weather.MEET AND GREET: Quite a few folks from on our Roll Call came as well as many staff and crew. A few didn't show up and we missed them but we understand. We played a trivia game and had little prizes and we had name tags which were a good way to start conversations. Our cruising celebrity, Radio was, of course there and we hung out now and then throughout the cruise, here and there. He is a wealth of information and extremely pleasant company. I read Radio's live postshttp://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum...ysprune=&f=107and it was like cruising all over again. His unbelievable photos are also on the web at http://public.fotki.com/Radio88/norwegian-spirit7/ Another woman from our roll call, Tammy from Maine took a boatload of photos of Maggie Cate's pre-wedding prep and wedding dinner and then of the bride and groom for the rest of the trip. What a sweetie. Her companions, Laurie and Kathy also rocked. I have to say that when I joined CruiseCritic it was simply another internet tool with anonymous fingers tapping on keyboards all over the world. Now it seems it was an opportunity to make new friends. Specifically TOMCT, RADIO, Tammy and Sandy. What a world. Unbelievable. Thank you CruiseCritic. My only regret is that I did not make the time to spend more time with Sandy, my Roll Call buddy from the Midwest.WEDDING AT JOBSON'S COVE: Unbelievably beautiful. A sunset ceremony. Parrot-fish (18-20ish inches) right along the shoreline... The wedding was truly beautiful. However, if you are planning a Bermuda beach wedding THERE MUST be a better wedding planning outfit than the one our bride used (and regretted - ask and I will get the name to you). They wanted to charge her $40ish PER person for one glass of champagne and one piece of cake. Nope. The wanted to charge her $2,000 for a bus to transport thirty people the nine miles to and from the Dockyard. Nope. The planner couldn't figure out how to level the table so the cake wasn't precariously perched. The boom box died in the middle of her being walked down by her wonderful Uncle David and the music didn't function AT ALL for the 'recessional.' The wedding 'planner' hurried the guests off of the beach which stymied me - so the guests, instead of of waiting for transport looking at the beautiful Jobson's Cove, looked at the parking lot. These minor things did not detract one iota from the joy of the occasion but the planner charged our bride a FORTUNE and for a fortune everything should be, if not perfect, at least seamless... One of our NCL 'buddies' dealt briefly with them because of possible iffy weather and with disdain and a wrinkled nose said he was 'Not impressed... not impressed at all." The one thing the planner did right for sure was the officiant. REV. JUDITH GARDNER. What a blessing she is... to God, Bermuda and to our bride. Her robe was a celestial white - it looked as though it had been tailored by angels. Her manner was calm. Her outlook sweet , warm, kind, spiritual and wise. The ceremony she provided was, in short the most beautiful wedding ceremony I'd ever seen. I don't know if she can be contacted directly and/or easily (I'm trying to find her contact info to post) but if I was planning a Bermuda wedding I'd hire her, get my own bus from Bee-Line Transport, hire Alex Masters (FaceBook) for a super-duper photographer and read up on other beach weddings and do it. It was so very beautiful. Make sure you have an inclement weather plan, however!. Oh, yea, bring your own CD player with fresh batteries. Also, have a place set aside for everybody's bags and such. Many of the pics our group took are great but with beach bags strewn around the periphery. Not terrible but just a little planning would have solved that.WEDDING DINNER BACK AT WINDOWS: There are not words to describe the overwhelming feeling I had when I saw the set-up Bernhard, the Food and Beverage Director and his Windows staff had created for our Bride and Groom. The mother of the bride, Magz had lugged (carry-on because they were breakable) some centerpieces and the Windows staff agreed to put them on the tables for us. The did but, in a nutshell went the extra mile for our bride and groom. The little touches that make a special occasion special were all there. The wait staff was extraordinary; the food was to die for. The look of joy on our bride's face said it all. Now, I am 100% Irish. I am not a natural hugger. I am uncomfortable with the new overly-prevalent hugging thing that has permeated the circles in which I travel. A pat on the back, a little wave, even a handshake and I'm good. This night, however I could NOT stop hugging people. Poor Bernhardt... my earring kept getting stuck in his name tag! One of my best memories of the evening (and I have soooo many) was looking over at the staff and crew stand in a little line in the background - each of them had a big smile. Not the forced corporate 'gotta put on a good face smile' but smiles from their hearts that they had set the stage for such joy to our bride and her guests. Where does NCL find these people???? AND THEY WORK SO HARD! And they had to stay so late that night because we were a bit slow... (I felt quite guilty about that... keeping them on a port night.) I'm getting weepy so I've got to move on. It's like I'm hearing the entire kitchen/wait staff sing 'Let me Call You Sweetheart' all over again!NCL SPIRIT ACTIVITIES/NIGHTLIFE: Karaoke in Henry's Pub. My only complaint (!?!?) is that it ended to early LOL! Don't have any idea of what time it was - may have been four a.m. but I was having oodles of fun. The Martini Tasting with Gede (pronounced like the Australian G'day) was lots of fun due in no small part to the copious amounts of flowing alcohol - specifically Grey Goose. I learned a lot and had lots of fun. We invited ourselves to chairs near (at?!) a table of obviously fun-loving friendly women... a bit of chit chat and lo and behold they were from our CruiseCritic Roll Call! What a treat. (More on Tammy and her buds later.) One word of warning... if you are planning to do anything productive or involved after the martini tasting - do it beforehand or don't do it at all LOL! That's all I'm going to say about that! Also, have a glass of water or two!Though I did not go, I heard the Second City show was many folks' favorite event on the cruise (besides the wedding festivities, of course). I saw a brief Second City show on the last night and laughed and laughed and laughed. It was quite late and much of it was off-colour but VERY funny... not for the prudish, though. That same night was The Quest. Also not for prudes but the tear lines through my perfect make-up was a visual testament to the level of laughter - rolling down my cheeks. A member of our group participated fully. I am laughing now just typing about it. The White Hot Party was, in fact not my favorite, though it was fun. It was very loud (proof that I'm getting old). There were a LOT of kids and a lot of alcohol which makes me a bit uncomfortable. We went prepared with glow stick necklaces, white leis and white outfits (most of us, anyway see space issues above LOL - I was in pink... duh). The DJ talked over much of the music - a pet peeve - but I think that's what the 'kids' are used to. They did a few line dances (which I love) and played a some great songs I knew. Visually it was very cool with the black light and white dEcor, ice sculptures and wing-ed staff (heavenly)... There was a brief dance exhibition which was very cool. It was funny, my son (27) had whispered in my ear that he didn't know where NCL had 'got' these girls but he suspected that it was out of a catalogue. One of them was, he said the most beautiful girl he had ever seen in person. A word of caution, it was VERY HARD to find other members of our group. If you are in a group have a designated geographical area/time to meet up... I didn't stay all night but I suspect that the kids petered out and the alcohol dampened the decibels and oodles of folks had a GREAT TIME. A word of advice: Dollar Store; glow necklaces/bracelets. BRING EXTRA because everybody will ask you where you got yours and are overjoyed when you share!Because, I think the Captain Harstrom took a shine to our beautiful bride, Maggie Cate, she, her groom, the mother of the bride and I (I felt a bit like an interloper as I am not technically immediate family but was thrilled to be there) had an absolutely wonderful dinner with the wonderful captain and his wonderful officers. I mean truly wonderful. Conversation flowed easily. The food was delicious. I suspect the wine was top notch but being an Irish girl from Boston I prefer a good lager to the grape. You know when you cringe thinking about something you did no matter how much time has elapsed since? Well, I'm cringing now. When the waiter was pouring me a glass of wine I whispered that I would prefer a beer. Holy moly, my mother probably turned over in her grave. One of the officers asked 'have we ever had beer at one of these dinners?" (or something like that). It was not a big to-do and it was all in good fun but my Budweiser appeared instantly and was frosty cold and delicious. Word of Advice: if you are lucky enough to dine with the captain, drink the wine LOL! BucaneerLand: GO DOWN THE SLIDE!!!!! Not advice. An order LOL. Wicked fun! And adults are allowed (but no adults or children in diapers)! The kids, though have the 'right of way' so I only went in when there were no kids in the pool. One of the slides has a bar at the top so you can get some momentum going... I want on in my back yard LOL!CHAIR HOGS: Did not find this to be much of a problem but I didn't spend too much time by the pool but I didn't hear any complaints.PHOTO FRENZY: Sadly, not offered on our cruise. Don't know why. It would have been great to get more pics but the wallet is only so deep...GIFT SHOP: There was lots of good stuff from Tommy Bahama shirts to refrigerator magnets. The last full day the gift shop had a 30% off select sweatshirts (I have mine on right now LOL) and 50% off some other cool stuff. Don't know if this happens every time but it is worth a walk-by.(CLOSED WHILE IN BERMUDA)INTERNET CAFE: I sent one and received one e-mail. Unfortunately I apparently didn't log out properly and somebody sleezed onto my dime. Duh. My fault entirely. The Internet Manager tweaked the bill down a smidge but I am responsible for my own non-clicks... The problem was I was hurrying to get back to the hot tub! Focus. FOCUS!ELEVATORS: Pushed the button oodles of times. Waited. Took the stairs most of the time which is a good way to counteract cruise-calorie-consumption. The middle elevators seem to be the busiest so if you are an elevator person plan your trek to include one of the end elevator banks and your wait will be shorter.TIPPING:We tipped three, five and sometimes ten bucks at various meals, depending on the hugeness of the superlative service. We left our steward and stewardess a hopefully great tip because our cabin was like Grand Central Station and often in disarray. We left the twelve dollar a day 'service charge' in place. I did not tip extra when getting drinks. On my first cruise I added 15-20% to all of my checks... duh. Another reason to read, research, read before cruising.CIGARETTES - DUTY FREE: A ten-pack of Marlboro Lights was $27. There were larger packages for shorter money, as well but I don't know those prices. (CLOSED WHILE IN BERMUDA)LIQUOR - DUTY FREE: 750ml of SKYY vodka was $10. Lots of other stuff was available but they ran out of some things so don't wait until the last minute! The guy behind me almost cried when the clerk told him there was no more Kalua. (CLOSED WHILE IN BERMUDA)BEHIND THE SCENES TOUR: Word of advice: TAKE IT! What a treat. It seems goofy typing about it but seeing the galley staff at work and the food moving from here to there: 'wash your hands' when entering and all of the sanitation rules in place and actually followed was great. Also, the pastry galley and the size/contents of the 'fridges/freezers, etc. was very cool (pardon the pun). The wine cellar... the soup vats (steam powered). All kinds of interesting things! Seeing backstage at The Stardust Theater was good. Also the laundry. There is an incredible machine that dries and folds the sheets and tablecloths... a bazillion of them a day. The washing machines hold (from memory) 250ish pounds of laundry. The dryers 175ish or so. Whew! The laundry manager, Ralph was very informative and funny, as well. The environmental manager, his name escapes me had me riveted with his shtick. How virtually EVERYTHING is recycled and how the potable water is 'made' and how other various forms of waste are dealt with. Very, very cool. Doesn't sound cool, really but if you are a curious type, take this tour. You must have closed-toed shoes and it is pretty long on the clock but goes by in a heartbeat. It ended with a Q&A with the captain on the bridge (where I learned about the whale thing above). Ask him anything. Look at Radio's pics http://public.fotki.com/Radio88/norwegian-spirit7/ - he took a lot. Take the tour!!! Magz and I couldn't stop telling folks little Spirit tidbits for the rest of the cruise... Whether they wanted to hear them or NOT, LOL!NCL SPIRIT RESTAURANTS/FOOD: I am not a 'foodie.' If I sit down hungry and stand up full I'm content but will give you my impressions anyway. Almost everything I had was great. The bacon every morning was crispy and delicious. Eggs made to order were perfect (I didn't have any buffet eggs). The croissants were really ,really good... not too big, not greasy. Also, I loved the orange juice. The room service coffee was the best coffee I tasted on the ship. Lunch in Windows and Raffles Terrace and the Blue Lagoon (Fish & Chips and cole slaw especially) and the Bier Garten was all good. I was really looking forward to the pretzels I'd read about on CruiseCritic but never found them. I did see one fellow one night with what I suspected was one of THE pretzel but he was too drunk to tell me where he got it LOL! Dinner at Windows, Cagney's, The Blue Lagoon and the Bier Garden was all wonderful. SERVICE WAS SPECTACULAR. Fast but not too fast. Solicitous but not 'in your face.' SPECTACULAR. The only thing I had that I didn't love was the mashed potatoes. However, to qualify this I am a mashed potato snob and often don't care for restaurant mashies... The particular highlights that come to mind were the steak, halibut, Caesar salad, the escargot, the soups and desserts. I apologize for not being more detailed but generally speaking I'm more concentrated on the conversation and take a bite now and then. Also, the drinking water all around the ship was very good. Word of advice: I would not bother with lugging bottled water on board at all... just bring something insulated to walk around with - The Spirit's water is definitely better than most bottled waters... NCL BARS:Henry's Pub was fun. The Bier Garten made a GREAT White Russian. Champagne Charlie's was great. Word of advice: if you plan to do the bucket of beer thing bring a bottle opener. I had to chase the wait staff to pop my caps... kinda frustrating but only a little as the reward was icy cold and refreshing.NCL STAFF AND CREW: I'm not sure what direction to go in here. I could write a hundred paragraphs detailing all the small kindness and services these hard working provided for me and my group. We felt right at home yet like royalty. Sean Wurmhleringer, the Hotel Director... there are not words. He is a wonderful man and a true credit to NCL. His smile lights up the room... and it's a smile that goes all the way to his pupils. I feel honored to have gotten to know him - even a little. Bernhard Schindlaur, the Food and Beverage Director... Holy moly. I wanted to take him home with me (though I think he was appalled/amused by my request for a beer at the captain's dinner). If he had taken off his coat for me to walk upon I wouldn't have been surprised a bit. NCL is brilliant for hiring him and I feel blessed that I got to know him, just a little as well. Bruce Van Der Boon, Concierge who will not be sailing again on the Spirit until, I think August was pure joy wrapped up in skin. It's funny but when we told him what we had in mind wedding-plans-wise, in particular having the bride come to the pre-wedding cocktail hour he was aghast. I mean he literally gasped. I think he thought we were idiots (because it was an idiotic idea LOL). He punched his palm with his hand, straightened out his backbone and stepped in to save us from ourselves. We have laughed about it a hundred times already. Thank God for Bruce. I mean that. Our cabin steward Willy (Wilfredo Jr.) and Rachel, his partner were extraordinary. I mean so far above and beyond anything in our experience we hesitated to ask for anything because it was probably already 'in the works.' Willy made us, I think the cutest towel animal ever constructed. Custom. Perfect. I think he took some ribbing for leaving it hanging in or cabin but we loved it so much he left it for us. Willy and Rachel greeted us by name with beautiful smiles every time we saw them. I don't think they sleep much because they always seemed to be busy here and there. We loved them. Also, Kelly and Amita at Reception were just great. The poor things, we often had to check with the bride for their questions and they were very patient and sweet. There are so many more... The bartenders, especially Gede were all great. The maitre 'd of the Garden Restaurant (I'm kicking myself because I can't find his name), from Hawaii was so pleasant and helpful - even after I forgot to cancel a brunch reservation for 33. What a dope. Chef Hans-Peter? Could he have been any sweeter? Nope. There was one crew-member (I thought she was Windows maitre 'd but when I called to get her name the gave me a man's name and then somebody came into our cabin and I never 'got back' to my task). in Windows that I forgot to get her name. She is from Columbia and has the cutest short haircut on board. She was always there in the background making sure all the "T's" were crossed and "I's" dotted. Also, Dumpling was awesome... she 'ran' the "Giant Pictionary" game, kept score at Quest and was great at disembarkation. I took a couple of 'compliment cards' home with me and fill them out for the folks I missed; I asked and I can send them to Miami.BERMUDA ACTIVITIES/NIGHTLIFE: Quite a few folks in our group rented the scooters from Smatt's in Hamilton. They were very nice and quite accommodating. One of the renters was very uncomfortable and turned hers in right away for which they praised her. Another person in our group rented a scooter for the three days but returned it after one day and Smatt's was very accommodating there as well. There were no mechanical issues with any of the scooters (we had had a great deal of trouble in '04 with the scooters 'failing' - rented from one of the bigger outfits that I strongly suspect do not maintain them all that well). We had no mishaps in our group, thank the Lord. However, one woman on our cruise (but not in our group) did have a mishap and spent a few hours in the hospital. Frog and Onion: very nice in the afternoon. Wicked fun at night. Tables set up in the open courtyard... very nice. A bit expensive but nice. Swizzle Inn South: Gotta go. Yummy Swizzle Punch. Good food. Great service. The ladies room left QUITE a bit to be desired, however (another pet peeve). Jobson's Cove near Warwick Long Bay. Beautiful. Just beautiful.Hamilton: I am not a shopper but my friend bought a great shirt at A.S. Cooper and he looked like a million bucks.Ferry: THE way to travel. Short money at $28 for a three day ferry/bus pass.Bus: Gets you from here to there. A great place to meet locals, who are often very willing to share knowledge, etc. The bus drivers are quite friendly, as well. Also, the ride along the South Road on #7 affords breathtaking sights... and breathtaking clearances LOL!Scaur Fort: Try not to miss it. What a view! What a well maintained park on a hill in Somerset. Lovely benches. Lots of informative signage. Almost manicured grounds. Those coin binoculars were there, though we didn't use them. Also, the ladies room was immaculate LOL! No, really it was.Somerset Walking Tour (Frommers.com). This was certainly a highlight. Wear comfortable footwear and bring water. The walk along the railway was a Bermuda I'd never seen and was pleased a punch along the way to hear the sounds and smell the smells. Also, some of the most beautiful Bermudian homes... not the huge mansions but 'regular people' homes... The sights, the sounds, the smells were a treat. Also the lizards were VERY COOL. At a crossroads, the three of us sat in the shade to look at the map and have a drink of water. We were a little tired LOL. A sweet man, Glen Simmons - a Bermudian electrician stopped along-side and asked if we were alright... if we needed any help. I kid you not. We declined help but he stayed and chatted for ten minutes or so - giving us advice and telling us a bit about Bermuda. The friendly Bermudian culture adds an entire dimension to a Bermuda visit. I'd guess in Boston one of ten folks might stop and ask a tourist if he needs help - and probably only if the tourist looked incredibly lost or was bleeding or something. In Bermuda, I think nine of ten will engage a tourist in conversation if they see an 'opening.' A beautiful thing.Somerset Country Squire: DO NOT MISS THIS PLACE. The bus goes right by it on the way to anywhere from the Dockyard. The barman, Donald welcomed us like long lost cousins. It was the last stop on our walking tour so we were quite thirsty. We planned to have a quick drink but ended up spending the afternoon chatting with Donald and other customers. The ladies room was great! Also, the fish chowder which is served with little cruets of Gosling's Rum and some kind of pepper infused liquid - to season your chowder to taste. MMMMMMMM. I'm getting hungry. TRULY A "DON'T MISS!" Tell them Clare from Boston sent you LOL!Late night at Snorkel Park was interesting. There was a ten dollar cover and it was packed. You have to wait in line to get 'tokens' and then wait in line to get a beverage... It is, we came to understand later in the night the cruise ships' crews' 'place.' It's not that we were not welcome but we left with the impression that we were intruding a bit. The ship's crew work very very hard on EXTREMELY long shifts and this is their opportunity to hang out and let loose. They are NOT on duty and I suspect that they would just assume not see us there... These are just my impressions. The Dockyard was a very cool place to walk around. There was live music a couple of times which was nice.Sea glass: I didn't know it until this week but I am, apparently a sea glass snob. It's a bit frightening to find such a thing out in my forties... Around the Boston area there might be a bit if sea glass here and there. White is good. Green is not so good. Brown is yucky. Thick is good, thin: not so good. Thick blue is the holy grail for heaven's sake. We went to a beach in Somerset on Mangrove Bay to hunt for sea glass Hunt was an inappropriate goal. You need to avoid the sea glass It was everywhere... I mean figuring out where to step in my flip flops was a challenge. It is a miracle that none of us was cut. Why the beach was like this is a mystery I plan to look into. My friend did find quite a bit but in my snobbish opinion it was substandard. Maybe if you are from the Midwest sea glass hunting in Bermuda would be fun but if you are from anywhere near the coast forget the sea glass and head right to the Somerset Country Squire and get a glass of Bass Ale, instead... Maybe there are better places to hunt... hope so!HEADING HOME: We, for some great reason stayed a bit later than our itinerary said in Bermuda and got to see the Norwegian Dawn go by. There were a few Yankees/Red Sox jeers across the harbour but all in good fun. I hope they have as great a cruise as we did! There was a bit of melancholy - just a smidge - that our time in Bermuda was over but the trip home was awesome. The weather got progressively cooler and we went through a huuuuuge fog bank. The water was as calm as a bath tub. Hearing the fog horn now and then was a particular treat. DISEMBARKATION: If you are not in a hurry you will have no stress. There were people milling around the reception area from very early on... sitting on their luggage, etc. They looked stressed and the crew had to keep shuffling people around because the hallways/stairs cannot become congested. The process is fairly easy, though, you choose a color/time beforehand (and hopefully the rest of your group does the same). You fill out a little customs form and you head out after your color is called. You NEED your key card and customs form to get off the ship. You don't need your passport. On my next cruise I plan to take Radio's advice and walk around, eat, etc. until the crowds have disbursed... REGRETS - I HAVE A FEW: Not having chosen a better travel agent. Spending so much time on the balcony, though it was great. Missing the Sexy Legs contest. Being a bit too loud in our cabin though our neighbors insisted it was fine. Not having established a 'meet in the port far corner' of Galaxy of the Stars for White Hot Party Night. Not having a better plan i.e. a meeting place on the sidewalk after disembarkation. Forgetting nail polish remover... duh. Not bringing sneakers and socks. Not hugging Sean, Bernhardt and Bruce one more time. Not having arranged for our own transport to the Jobson's Cove wedding regardless of the wedding planner telling us we couldn't do that. Not getting a close-up pic of the Portuguese Man of Wars we saw on the beach (I don't know of anybody who saw them in the water so I think the 'season' has passed, btw). Not having AT LEAST ONE blue beverage with Sandy, my Roll Call buddy. Not being better jotting names of wonderful crew members down - next time I'd bring a golf pencil for my little neck wallet. Not drinking a glass or two of water during the martini tasting. Forgetting to cancel our brunch reservation. Not clicking 'logout' better (I KNOW that I clicked near the box, but my heart was already in the hot tub LOL!). I wish I'd planned an early group dinner and group 'show' night... I wish I'd brought more singles/fives (dollars bills). I would have established a meeting time/place on board the morning of disembarkation. Next time LOL!THINGS I/MY GROUP DID RIGHT: Planned, planned planned but remained flexible to changes. Also having a pre-cruise get-together worked out great... folks recognized each other on board and had already formed acquaintances. Communication Central Door. A few 'group' dinners but not too many. Meeting Sean, Bernhardt and Bruce (and taking heed of Bruce's excellent 'advice'). Duct tape. Paper. Everybody having a list of everybody's cabin number. Spent a lot of time and learned a lot on CruiseCritic. Contacted NCL when we had a huge issue with our travel agent. Went to the Meet & Greet. Did the Behind the Scenes Tour. Had a FANTASTIC time! Took oooooodles of pics. Took the stairs a lot. Had those neck wallet things. Made new friends. Exchanged lots of e-mail addresses. Made use of BucaneerLand. Went to the Martini Tasting. Not scooting out of the Somerset Country Squire as we'd planned. Making new friends. Posting pics right away on FaceBook.THANK YOU NCL & CRUISECRITIC!Clare Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
A fantastic trip on the Pearl to Alaska.  It surpassed all the reviews we read beforehand and easily exceeded our expectations in every way.  Now on to the basics.My wife and I are 40 yr olds from Oklahoma City, traveling with my parents ... Read More
A fantastic trip on the Pearl to Alaska.  It surpassed all the reviews we read beforehand and easily exceeded our expectations in every way.  Now on to the basics.My wife and I are 40 yr olds from Oklahoma City, traveling with my parents (65) and their friends (68).  It was our 4th cruise, first with NCL (1 each on Carnival, RCCI, and Princess), and 3rd or 4th for my parents and friends.  We booked this cruise based on Seattle port and Glacier Bay.  We all stayed in mini-suites on the starboard side, all three rooms side by side.  We arrived in Seattle the day prior, staying at Fairmont Olympic hotel downtown (special for $180 a night).  My parents stayed at Inn at Harbor Steps.  Both hotels were great, large rooms, and easy walking distance to many restaurants and Pike's Market.  Embarkation:  We arose late on Sunday, had an in-room breakfast, and then ordered a taxi to the ship.  We left the room at 1135 and were being handed champagne on-board at 1210.  Embarkation was a breeze!  Bags were dropped off on a conveyor belt at one end of the terminal and then employees directed everyone to the other end of the terminal for the check-in line.  After the first sales pitches (Alaskan ball caps and binoculars), we checked in, got room cards, and headed off for pictures.  At no time did the line ever stop moving - it was awesome!  Once on board, we sipped our champagne in the Atrium, a beautiful two-story room with two restaurants overlooking the Atrium floor.  The Nintendo Wii games were already underway on the 2-story screen and bar sales were already brisk.  We purchased a wine package for the trip, splitting the 6-bottle package with our friends.  You get 6 slips of paper with the names of the bottle on each one.  When you want to redeem it, just hand the slip to any wine steward/bartender.  We ended up drinking our 3 bottles over 3 different nights in the restaurants - it was a nice deal with 20% off.  Many thanks to Cruise Critic reviewers who had mentioned that the Summer Palace was open for lunch on Embarkation Day.  NCL does their best to shepherd everyone to the Garden Cafe (the buffet) but we made it down to the Summer Palace and enjoyed a great lunch with about 50 other people total - very small crowd.  The SP is truly gorgeous with a wide staircase entryway with Russian decor from the time of Tsar Nicholas.  It has huge bay windows looking out the back of the ship - which came in handy later as whales were sighted and all the diners left their tables to look and point out the windows.  The ceiling are very high with chandeliers all around.  It was a great way to start our dining experience on the ship.Stateroom: Rooms were open at 2 PM so we went and checked out our minisuites.  They were fabulous - we had never had higher than an oceanview before and now we will never be able to do anything without a balcony!  Beds were very comfortable, lots of cabinet space (we had 2 empty drawers after unpacking 4 luggage bags), coffee maker, hair dryer, TV (small but who cares?), sitting sofa, coffee table, and minibar with beer/soda/water/spirits.  The bathrooms have bathtubs (which we liked but never ended up using), separated toilet (glass door allows some privacy from sink/shower area), and generally good space.  The only negative was that our next door neighbor on one side apparently owned stock in a tobacco company and spent virtually the entire cruise standing on his balcony smoking.  Naturally, while under way, the smoke drifted back to our balcony and made standing outside for too long an unpleasant experience.  We would check to see if he was outside and if not, then make use of the balcony for those times.  Ship:  The ship itself is absolutely beautiful all the way throughout.  Aside from the Atrium, the two main lounges, Bliss and Spinnaker, both offer incredibly unique and equally stunning decor.  Bliss has giant lounging beds throughout, with dark red Asian curtains and draperies, and dragon statues on the bar.  This lounge hosted most of the trivia events during the day and dance events like the Shadow Dancers and the Toga Party at night.  Spinnaker, at the front of the ship, is light where Bliss is dark.  It has funky, hip furniture with doughnut chairs and oddly shaped sofas, and windows all around allowing great viewing off the front and sides of the ship.  Spinnaker hosted bingo sessions, some dance bands, and the nightly activity between the 7:15 and 9:15 theater shows.  Bar City is another public area with beer bar, martini bar, champagne bar, all closely situated.  We spent only a little time here as it never felt very inviting - we did most of our drinking in the two lounges.  The art auction and piano player also used this space and it seemed it was  constantly being re-arranged for the next event - I think this made it seem more like a hotel conference room than a warm place to hang out and it seemed like they got more drive-by customers rather than people actually seeking out that area for its own sake.  I will say that the piano player (Don Alexander) was excellent but I never saw a big crowd and there were never big sing-alongs like I've seen in other ship.  I would think that a separate piano lounge/bar would work better.  Also, on the art auctions, we don't buy but we like to watch (and also get free champagne).  I thought the crowds for the art auction were very small - and NCL only gave out a single glass of champagne (and only if you registered for the art auction).  On Princess, I recall huge crowds and unlimited champagne - but since we only did these things once or twice, I may not be qualified to make judgments on the true entertainment experience.Overall, the ship is a masterful design, laid out well, and with wonderful use of colors, wall art, and decoration.  Spa:  Have to mention this as we bought the weekly pass and also got massages and a facial (my wife did, not me).  This spa is easily one of the highlights on this ship, and maybe any ship.  The location (at the front of the ship, directly below Spinnaker), allows the use of windows to see out and makes the spa feel huge and expansive, rather than the closed/private feeling that many spas create.  I sat in a sauna looking out the huge windows and watched the ship drive up to Marjorie Glacier in Glacier Bay while sweating out toxins from the day prior!  The heated stone chairs are wonderful and I saw several people sleeping on the cushioned loungers facing out the front windows.  But, our favorite was the thalassotherapy pool - I don't know what that word means unless it means soothing jets massing tired muscles while laying on your back.  Spent 4 days in the spa and it was well worth it.  A serene, comforting environment.Dining:  I've already mentioned Summer Palace.  The other free main restaurant is Indigo.  We ate there one night - it has a more low-key decor and I thought it was fairly unremarkable but certainly nice.  The food in the main restaurants was exactly what we expected - good food, good service, good experience - there were high's and low's but generally everything was excellent.  We did the lobster on Monday night and it was very nice.  We did eat in two specialty restaurants - Le Bistro, the French restaurant, and Cagney's, the steakhouse.  To be honest, I wouldn't do Le Bistro again - nothing bad, it was fine food and service, but for the specialty restaurants I expected more of an "experience".  Le Bistro just seemed to be another main dining room with a slightly different menu - but others had vastly different opinions and we heard travelers raving about it.  Cagney's was that "experience" - it seemed exactly like a very up-scale steakhouse and I liked the menu choices a lot better than Le Bistro (on reflection, the menu alone probably explains completely why I preferred Cagney's).  I would easily do Cagney's on a return voyage.  We also ate at Blue Lagoon for lunch one day - this restaurant overlooks the Atrium and has windows looking out the side.  The menu there was bar food-like, wings, chicken tenders, chips/dip, etc.  It was tasty.  This was the only strange service experience that we encountered.  We ordered an appetizer of spinach/artichoke dip and two entrees.  The waiter hurriedly told us that appetizers were no different than entrees and that they would all come out together regardless.  They did.  However, later, the table next to us ordered an appetizer and the same waiter said nothing to them - they got their appetizer first and meals later.  Not a big deal, just kind of strange.  Other than that, dining room service was exceptional in all cases, especially Le Bistro and Cagney's.  The wait staff was very funny, engaging, and attentive.  Kudos to NCL on their training process.  On the reservation process, NCL's reservation screens located around the ship were very helpful, telling you which restaurants were full and which ones were empty.  In my estimation, the two free dining rooms, Summer Palace and Indigo, always showed red (full) pretty shortly after opening and stayed that way until about 8:30.  However, you could easily get a pager that worked anywhere on the ship and they would call you when your table was ready.  We waited 45 minutes one night but the time passed quickly as we wandered the ship, had a drink, and watched music.  Really great system.  The specialty restaurants never seemed to fill up to the red, but sometimes crossed into yellow.  I got the impression that walking in was just as easy as reserving in most cases.  In all, a great dining experience aboard the Pearl.  Entertainment:  This area is extremely subjective.  First, the singing/dancing shows.  There were only 2 shows - Sea Legs: a Showgirl Revue, and Garden of the Geisha.  NCL mixed in 2 gymnasts/acrobats with the normal singing/dancing and it fit together very well.  Kudos to NCL for doing some things that seemed to differ from the standard performance show on a cruise ship.  I personally think the singers are greatly underutilized - the male and female leads sang one song each on Opening Night, then sang for Sea Legs, and that was it.  Geisha was almost completely a dance show, which is not my personal cup of tea but again, it was nice to see something different.  As for comedy, the main comedian was Bill Hildebrand but he is apparently gone now as we saw him at the airport in Seattle getting tickets.  Mildly funny, but not hilarious.  The Second City performers were a great hit - NCL has a contract with Second City and supposedly the new Epic ship has a theater specifically built for them.  They did one main show, and 2 smaller shows in the Spinnaker.  As with most improv, they were hilariously funny at times and then there were 1 or 2 big misses on the skits.  In general, I thought they were an incredible addition to the normal stable of shows and events.  But, the highlight of the entertainment has to be Sharkbait.  They put on the most energetic, frenetic, laugh-out-loud funny show of the week.  They did a great job of audience involvement, very fast-paced, and great talent as well.  They did a few Q&A's at Spinnaker during the week and also hosted the Quest, the late-night game show.  One final note:  the crew talent show at the end of the week is very very good - well worth budgeting some time in the afternoon to see the same people waiting your table or cleaning your room as they sing, dance, and perform.  Service:  I thought the service throughout the ship was some of the best we have ever experienced.  Friendly, smiling, helpful, eager to make the cruise enjoyable. Example: one time I saw a kid with 2 chocolate milk cartons in the Garden cafe so I went looking for the milk carton section (I love choc milk).  I couldn't find it so I asked one of the Cafe employees.  They walked around the entire cafe, grabbed another employee to help, finally flagged down a manager - 3 employees huddled trying to figure out where the chocolate milk was.  The manager ran to the kitchen and rummaged through the frigs until he found it and with a big wide smile carried it out to me.  I didn't mean to create that trouble and they certainly could have said that they don't normally set out the cartons (the milk is in silver pitchers).  But this kind of customer service was apparent in every task and made the cruise that much more pleasant.  Ports:  In Juneau, we did the Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Watching Tour.  Excellent choice!  Spent about 1 hour at the Glacier, taking pictures and roaming the Visitors Center.  It was an excellent intro to Glacier Bay day seeing and hearing the details of glaciers.  On the Whale Watching tour, they promise you $100 back if you don't see a whale.  We blew that in the first 30 minutes.  We ended up seeing 12 whales, mostly pairs of moms with calves, and seeing at least 2 of the beautiful tail-in-the-air dives that you see on the videos.  We saw many bald eagles, several sea lions on a buoy, and 1 porpoise.  It was my personal highlight tour of the week.  In Skagway, we did the Best of Skagway, which includes the White Pass Railroad tour, lunch at a Gold Rush camp, and a tour of the Red Onion saloon and brothel(former brothel).   The ride on the train is awe-inspiring and was my Dad's favorite part.  Beautiful scenery, waterfalls, trestle bridges, deep canyons - you name it.  I could have done without the Gold Rush camp as it seemed more like a money-making scheme with some salmon and chicken for lunch.  Don't miss the train tour though.  In Ketchikan, we didn't do an excursion, just shoppped.  It's very easy to walk around everywhere and they have an Alaskan Discovery Center which is nice for the educational experience.  Ketchikan had a great feel to it, very small-town Alaskan, kind of like Northern Exposure, if you remember that TV show.  At Victoria, we did the Gardens and City tour.  Another trip well worth it - made a photo stop downtown for Parliament and the Empress Hotel, and spent about 1.5 hours at the Gardens themselves.  Finally, Glacier Bay.  It's a great day because it's all day - you can choose to sit and watch scenery for a while, then you can go do other ship things like the Spa, or Bingo, or Trivia, or whatever you want!  Then go back and watch scenery some more.  We spent about 2 hours total at the actual glaciers, turning in position to give equal time to both sides of the ship.  The rest of the day was wildlife-watching and travel through the bay.  Disembarkation:  Again, best ever experienced.  We had a 1:00 PM flight at Sea-Tac but decided not to do the self-baggage walk-off from 8-9 AM.  NCL allows you to pick up your own colored luggage tags for whatever time you want to get off the ship.  We chose Pink, a 9:10 departure.  I stood on the balcony and watched the self walk-off people - the line never backed up, moved smoothly and rapidly.  At 9 AM, they had already called for Pink to depart so we walked out of our room at 9AM sharp, walked out the gangway, picked up our bags, and by 9:45 we were being dropped off at Sea-Tac.  Unbelievable - I wish other cruise lines could make it this simple!Bottom Line - Top-notch all the way down the line.  The Pearl is beautiful, the crew is well-trained and friendly, the food is good-to-great, and the itinerary is perfect.  For a first-timer on NCL, it was an experience that will definitely bring me back again. 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Sail Date June 2009
We are a family of 3. Myself and DH (in our 40's) and our 16year old DS.Thanks to folks here on HAL board we planned our arrival to pier 91with Already There Town Cars for $60 (1 way) from seatac, same as cab(425-445-9101)Easy ... Read More
We are a family of 3. Myself and DH (in our 40's) and our 16year old DS.Thanks to folks here on HAL board we planned our arrival to pier 91with Already There Town Cars for $60 (1 way) from seatac, same as cab(425-445-9101)Easy EmbarkWe loved the Neptune Lounge! Great iced tea & snacks!Nette was so friendly and helpful! Loved our room stewards! Ullysys in the Rotterdam was perfect, always offering extra appetizersand deserts (we were late fixed seating) No exageration on the need for dramamine on first sea day!!I am a light sleeper and the rough open seas kept me awake..my DH and DS slept like babies through it all Also, the first night the Captain announced the clocks would be set an hour backwards that night. At 2:00 AM..an annoying SQUEAK-SQUEAK sound (for at least 2 minutes)of our suite's clock being turned backwards. Again...I'm wide awake...the men just snoozed on..Our favorite part of the cruise was sitting in the hot-tub while cruising through the glacier!I had the in port special (included time in thermal suite) at the greenhouse spa.My DH tried the accupuncture.....perhaps he'll try it on land.Magician -comedian was wonderful..and his little dog, too!The only negative of the whole trip was the other pax smoking on balconies.We invested in a deluxe verandah suite so our son could really seethe glacier (he loved all the seals!!)but my DH is so sensitive to smoke he couldn't stay out there for very long. So we ended up going to the hot-tubs!In the survey at the end of cruise, a section on smoking policy was included. The only way we'll sail HAL again w/verandah is if they adoptno smoking policy...Disembark was easy...We asked for, and were able to borrow a scale to weigh our luggage (keep it under 50 lbs) night before8:00am walked off ship...our towncar was there waiting Read Less
Sail Date June 2009

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