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54,113 Family Cruise Reviews

This will be a short review. Needless to say, we were bummed that we weren't going to Mexico and contemplated cancelling, but we just wanted to get on the ship so badly. Boy, are we glad that we did. The ship is a biggie... well, at ... Read More
This will be a short review. Needless to say, we were bummed that we weren't going to Mexico and contemplated cancelling, but we just wanted to get on the ship so badly. Boy, are we glad that we did. The ship is a biggie... well, at least compared to the Paradise. Yeah, it was pink, but so what? I found the layout a little harder to grasp than the Paradise (only my 2nd cruise), but there were lots of ammenities. We had a penthouse suite, which was very nice, except that our kids (6 and 3) were fine hanging out in the room. I think the smaller space last year (ocean view) was better in that it made everyone want to get out. The pools were nicer on the Splendor, much warmer and it was nice that they could close the top when it was cold, which it was on our sea days and in Astoria, OR. The food choices were great. The pizza wasn't nearly as good as it was the year before on the Paradise, but the Tandoori Grill, the Rotiserrie, the Burrito State, the Sushi... more than made up for it. The dining room was, as usual, very good. The staff was top notch. We were always greeted with a smile and warmth everywhere we went on the ship, and the towel animals are always a big hit with the kids. Camp Carnival was a little more disorganized than the paradise, but still very good. I could have done without Astoria, but Vancouver and Victoria were breath-taking. I'd go on that itinerary again, although I would rather see either SF or Seattle as stops instead of Astoria. Our family looks forward to sailing her again... to Mexico this time! Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
We first sailed on the Magic's 3rd cruise in 1998. We've stayed in categories 11, 7, 6, and on this sailing stayed in a cat 4 (Family Verandah Stateroom). We sailed a 4 day cruise at Florida Resident rates (there are also ... Read More
We first sailed on the Magic's 3rd cruise in 1998. We've stayed in categories 11, 7, 6, and on this sailing stayed in a cat 4 (Family Verandah Stateroom). We sailed a 4 day cruise at Florida Resident rates (there are also military rates) and 3 adults (my husband, our 19 y.o. son, and me) stayed in a cat. 4 for approx. $2000 which included tips, some bingo, port parking and a few incidentals. Florida resident rates run about 1/2-2/3 the rack rate - the catch is that they're not always available and only available within 60 days of sailing. We chose the cat. 4 stateroom because our son is 6'4" and thought the extra room would be nice as they offer a murphy bed next to the verandah window. However, we discovered that the murphy bed in the down position obstructs access to the verandah - which my husband and I like to enjoy at night. So the remaining nights, our son slept on the sofa bed. He actually liked the sofa bed better as the murphy bed has a metal bar at the end and his feet weren't as comfy hanging over as they were on the soft ended sofa bed. I'm sure for families with 2-3 older children - each child having his/her own bed could be a real advantage. And as with all Disney staterooms, a curtain separates the 'adult' sleeping area from the children's. The cat. 4 staterooms have the aforementioned murphy bed, sofa bed plus a 'pull down from the ceiling' bunk type bed. Even with all 3 beds in the sleeping position, there is still a little wiggle room for everyone in the room. The split bathroom plan is like the other 5-10 categories with the exception of the toilet bathroom being just a little larger. The vanity spans the entire length of the room and the toilet isn't on 'an angle' like in cats. 5-10. The only thing about the bathrooms I'd like to change is to have a curved shower curtain as the space in the shower/tub is a little tight. I'd really prefer a walk-in shower (no tub) w/ glass or solid type door - but understand that really isn't as practical for families with small children. There are plenty of food options - the rotation dining in the evening, and the buffet on deck 8 aft are the favorite choice of many. However, we prefer the quieter breakfasts and lunches in Triton's - there is a more limited menu - but we just like having our food served to us instead of the buffet style where there are just too many little fingers in the food. Breakfast is also served in Parrot Cay on deck 3 aft and there is always the room service menu if you prefer. Since this was our son's first cruise as an adult - and it was his belated high school graduation gift, we treated him to Palo for dinner and again for the brunch! Both were a hit - esp. the brunch! (We did sail once during his teen years, but he didn't really enjoy the teen activities - but he's probably not a 'typical' teen as he doesn't care for rock music or much of pop culture. He did enjoy the Oceaneer Lab during our first 4 cruises - so much so - we had a hard time getting him to join us for dinner & shows.) We had early dining and our 3 table mates were 3 ladies from Canada who were delightful and on their 1st Disney cruise - but from their reactions - it won't be their last. If you don't have enough in your party to fill the table, you will be assigned table mates for the cruise. Not all of the table mates we've been assigned have been as pleasant. However, I think they do try to put families with children with the same, adults w/ adults, etc. The food itself is good - considering the volume and limited options - is quite well done. I've read that some of the other cruiselines may have better - but I'm not cruising just for food - in my book - any food that is well prepared, well served and varied selection is just fine. Since this was our 6th cruise and we've done the Nassau thing - I stayed onboard while husband and son went on the island for the sole purpose of obtaining Tortuga Rum Cakes. They returned somewhat disturbed as apparently this particular day was a holiday on the island - we were the only ship in port - and beyond the main tourist area - everything was closed. The rum cake place was open, but it was away from most other tourist areas - isolated this particular day. As my guys were leaving the rum cake place - a man with a bandana over his face (whom they had noticed before watching them - sans bandana) began to approach them. They boogied out of there quickly and fortunately none the worse for wear. So - if you're in the only ship in port -stay in the 'touristy' areas to stay safe - don't venture out alone - stay in a large group. We've also enjoyed Castaway Cay on all of our prior cruises and again I decided to stay on board. My guys did go on the island long enough to snap some great shots of the ship from "Pirates of the Caribbean" which is anchored between the Wonder and the beaches. Back on board - while everyone else is on the island - the pools are virtually empty! If you don't like crowds - this is the perfect day to enjoy the pools. However, at lunch time the buffet on deck 8 and the other restaurants are closed - except for Parrot Cay which serves exactly the same meal as they are serving on the island... and without the sand in your swimsuit! If you haven't cruised Disney before - do not miss the beaches of Castaway Cay! They are very clean and the opportunities for families and adults are outstanding. There's much for the children to do and if you don't have kids with you (or they are enjoying the Oceaneer Lab/Club on the island) then check out the adult beach on the north end of the island. It's quiet and there are adult beverages available. There are also spa treatments available on the island - but must be booked on the ship or prior to disembarking on the island. The day at sea was great - plenty to do! I always enjoy the cooking demo. We also took advantage of seeing a couple of movies - we knew not to pay to see them at home before the cruise as it's already covered on the cruise. Another thing I really like about Disney cruises are the absence of casinos. Other than the bingo (family style) there is no gambling! All of our servers (Rolly & San), our cabin steward (Debbie) and every cruise cast member we encountered provided fabulous service! Always the worst part of the cruise is the day we return to port and must leave this beautiful place we called home for the previous 4 days. Our next cruise is booked (at Fla Res rates) in a cat. 9, deck 2 oceanview in a couple weeks. Will write a review of this category and cruise upon our return. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Having just returned from Alaska on the Zuiderdam I felt compelled to give my 5 cents worth. I am a mid 40 year old that has 17 cruises with all of the major lines under my belt. We were travelling with our small group of family members ... Read More
Having just returned from Alaska on the Zuiderdam I felt compelled to give my 5 cents worth. I am a mid 40 year old that has 17 cruises with all of the major lines under my belt. We were travelling with our small group of family members some of whom were on their first cruise. The embarkation was easy for me and I was lucky to be the very first person on board. After that all H...l broke lose. There was a problem with US Customs not having enough agents to handle the amount of passengers departing that day despite the taxis and other agencies all being aware of the amount of people departing and all of them up-staffing to accommodate the busy day. There were numerous stories of 6 hour waits in line to clear US Customs. This was not of HAL's doing. Now the ship...Even though the ship just returned from dry dock there was still worn carpet in some areas, garish colors abound that even made Carnival look mellow. The furniture in some of the cabins needs recovering and there were very few of the fresh flower arrangements that they have had in the past. The new carpet in Canaletto was even showing wear from the chairs moving on it. One couple I spoke with said they had mould in their shower and that the water pressure and temperature was hit and miss. The food in the main DR was about normal for HAL however a few times the food was on the cool side but still edible. The Pinnacle was the highlight in the food department for me. It was probably one of the best steak dinners that I have ever had. The service was fantastic and a nice break from the main DR. The code red was noticeable although they made no announcements about it. It was finally lifted after a couple of days and we could finally serve ourselves at the Lido. The food there was passable but not as good as in the past. The Asian station was my best choice. The crew did a remarkable job in both the dining room, the bars and in the cabins. I had no complaints there at all. A few of us kept saying that something is off with the feel of the ship and crew. We asked a couple of the crew if they were all new to the ship or there were problems. I was told that 1/2 of them had been on board for at least 6 months and that the rest had gotten on at dry dock. The last day of the cruise I was told by and anonymous crew member that they were having an internal inspection done by the head office and that may have had some on crew on edge and causing some of the "other" things. There were over 800 Aussies on this trip and they were a lot of fun, however the few I spoke with said that HAL would not get them back on for another cruise. All in all the crew were great, the food overall passable, the itinerary absolutely wonderful, but I would not sail the Zuiderdam again unless they improve a few things and spend some money on her. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Liberty of the Seas was everything we expected, having sailed last year on Mariner of the Seas, which is very similar. Our daughters were first time cruisers, were very impressed from the start, kept changing our excursions as we went ... Read More
Liberty of the Seas was everything we expected, having sailed last year on Mariner of the Seas, which is very similar. Our daughters were first time cruisers, were very impressed from the start, kept changing our excursions as we went along, and as they got a better idea of what cruising was all about! The service was excellent - our stateroom attendant and our waiters were all great - everyone always had a smile on their faces, ready to accomodate our every request. Something important that we learned - Since 3 of us are prone to motion sickness, we had our dr. prescribe transdermscope patches to wear. Our oldest daughter's patch fell off in the middle of the week and she decided to go without. Well, on Friday night, we had more motion than normal and she did get sick. Took her to medical, they gave her a shot and pills, and she was fine in the morning. We learned that the doctors on the ships DO NOT RECOMMEND the patch for motion sickness - terrible side effects can occur, including stroke. Also, the pills they gave her for motion sickness can just be picked up at Guest Services, so you don't need a trip to medical to get them. A few comments about things I've seen posted before or were noteworthy: ***My Time Dining - does not mean you can just show up when you want to. You have to reserve your time. We reserved a standing time of 6:30 every evening, and didn't have to change it, but if you want to change it, you can, you just have to go to the My Time Dining desk and change it that day. Because we had the same time every night, we also had the same waiters all week, which was nice. It worked well for us. ***Leaving the ship at ports could be a little chaotic, with everyone trying to get off at the same time, coming down the stairs and elevators at the same time. One problem was that people are lined up in front of the elevators, and then when more people come off the elevators, instead of trying to find the end of the line, they just stop there, which causes people to get a little peeved. We were a little bit late arriving in Cozumel, so they let people on one particular tour off first, which also caused some hard feelings. This was probably the only thing that could have been organized better that we saw. ***Labadee, Haiti - probably my favorite. I had no idea what to expect there, but the place was beautiful. RC brought lunch to the island, there were large pavilions with tables, everything was just great. I rented a floating beach mat and we spent the day at Nellie's Beach just floating. Later, my husband the the girls rode wave runners. It was a very relaxing day. ***Cozumel definitely needs more work in the organization of tours, etc. When we got off the ship, there were 2 other ships there and it was total confusion trying to find your tour. ***We heard negative comments from a group of people on our tour at Cozumel saying it was their worst cruise ever, etc. I can't understand how they could even think that. Yes, sometimes, patience is required because of the numbers of people, etc. but we always felt that our service was impeccable and even when we had questions about our bill, they called us back immediately with the problem fixed. These people were the only ones we heard complaining, though. ***Enjoy meeting other people. It was nice chatting with people from other countries on our excursions and other places - made me think that if would leaders would leave everyone alone, we would all get along just fine. All in all, a great experience, would highly recommend it to everyone! Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
having just returned from being on the thomson dream 25/5/10 this ship was in dry dock and started sailing this April having belonged to costa line and now owned by thomson it is due for a major ref-fit in October in my opinion this ship ... Read More
having just returned from being on the thomson dream 25/5/10 this ship was in dry dock and started sailing this April having belonged to costa line and now owned by thomson it is due for a major ref-fit in October in my opinion this ship should not be on the high seas its not fit for the purpose previous reviews state a few teething problems you only get that with a new ship the staff on board where not rude however it would have been nice to get a smile now and again instead of walking about with there heads down this reflected the general mood of the ship so this review will have not to many positives the food was adequate as long as you didn't burn your hands from the steam that was belching out from between the food containers the very long queues only caused by poor management ie same line for hot or cold food they should have been separated making two lines i had to put up with flies in the cabin they looked like swamp flies and house keeper had to put fly killer down toilet and shower every day remember the word swamp it will become apparent walk through passageways that where sodden with water and engineers working on cabin toilets these should have been closed off for heath and safety reasons air condition not working correctly too hot or cold and now the worst part the smell in particular near the restaurants it was sewage like so think what i was walking on carpets ugh there was always constant activity with workmen trying to fix the toilets that didn't work flooded cabins water that came out the taps jet black in colour in my opinion and there guests Thomson's where only making money to help pay for the refit in October from ordinary people i could go on all day about this ship was way below standard Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
There was a lot of good and some bad to this cruise. First the good: a fortnight of great ports and great weather. And the bad ? ... something has happened to "Connie". Harwich was its useful efficient self for embarkation and ... Read More
There was a lot of good and some bad to this cruise. First the good: a fortnight of great ports and great weather. And the bad ? ... something has happened to "Connie". Harwich was its useful efficient self for embarkation and we were on board within an hour of driving through the port gates. Cabins were ready on time and she still looked stunning. Entertainment was more silver than golden. The same production shows as last year, but with a much inferior cast. Also the cruise director, Jeff Potts, was nothing special. He just didn't compare to stunt-man John last cruise. Service just seemed to have gone down a notch somewhere in 12 months. Whether it was in the main dining room, food quality or the state room service. When once nothing was too much trouble, now it seems to be. One of the bar service waiters summed this up as "many of the top people have been reassigned to the new Solstice class ships". I don't know if that is true, but it want the same happy and attentive crew. There is a much more evident hard-sell push on board this time. Whether its the soda package, the spa package, the camera shop or the excursions, Celebrity need to harvest your money somehow. The "Russian Bazaar" was heavily sold prior to St Petersberg and advice given to wait and buy your souvenirs there. When you did they were much more expensive than the official gift shops in Russia. Main dining room food was often hit and miss. You didn't always get what you ordered and sometimes the rendering of classic dishes was a little odd. There was also a tendency to finish all the savory dishes with a drizzle of olive oil. Just too much. That said, the short order evening restaurant in the Seaview was still great and dinner in Ocean Liners was a delight of cooking, service, theatre and even ballet. Well worth the surcharge to experience. It was still a great cruise experience, but this year Constellation is starting to show some signs of tiredness. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Let me begin by saying that I am 30 years old...much younger then 60, which seemed to be about the average age of the people on board this ship. This is fine by me, because I cruise to relax...and not party all night, and am not looking ... Read More
Let me begin by saying that I am 30 years old...much younger then 60, which seemed to be about the average age of the people on board this ship. This is fine by me, because I cruise to relax...and not party all night, and am not looking for a rowdy crowd. There were a number of "younger" families on board; however, wheel chairs and walkers were a common mode of transportation around the boat. I traveled with my wife, mother-in law and my 22 month old daughter, who many of you all may have seen on the boat, a little blonde haired girl named Kendall. Anyway, the experience from beginning to end was wonderful, and the fellow cruisers were rather gracious with my little girl, and didn't seem to mind being around her, in fact, many people stopped to talk to her. We arrived at the Port to embark about 2:00 p.m., and was done with the entire process in less then 5 minutes. We to Lido deck, and had no problem getting food, the lines were minimal. The first stop was Half Moon Cay, which is an absolutely beautiful island owned by Holland America and it's sister cruise lines. The Island is in immaculate condition, and not a piece of trash could be found anywhere on the ground. There is a kids play area.....and trampolines in the water. The water is absolutely gorgeous and crystal clear. This is always one of my favorite stops. We split our dining between the "formal" dining room and the Lido restaurant. The formal dining restaurant and Lido dinner menus are very similar, with only a few minor differences. Generally, you can get most of the main courses at either dining room....with a few exceptions each night. I enjoyed eating at both places. We were scheduled for "anytime" dining, and never had a wait longer then 5 minutes. We did end up sharing tables with other couples; and while I am not an extrovert, we had enjoyable conversation, albeit with couples much older then us. The baby thankfully was well behaved, considering one of the couples asked us if our child was "good" before us sitting down, indicating that they wished to sit somewhere else if otherwise. I read many complaints about the amount of time spent standing in line at the Lido restaurant for lunch, and never once experienced any problems. The food choices consist of about a half a dozen main course items, as well as about a half dozen sides. In addition, there is a pizza and pasta station, (The pizza was far better then any other pizza I've had on other cruise lines)a deli station where fresh sandwiches were made, and a salad bar, as well as an Asian station where Sushi and stir-fry was served. The choices were plenty..and although cooks "served" us the food onto our plates, lines moved quickly. The staff was wonderful, and really affectionate towards our daughter. I know that many of them have been away from their families for several months, and miss their kids....it showed, by how much attention they paid to my daughter. They were great with her, and Kendall ate it up. The cruise line performers were good.....some of the best singers I've seen...there were 4 singers who had excellent voices. The female dancers were good, the males, adequate. The hired entertainers were good also. This included an entertainer/violinist that was funny and extremely talented, a steel drum band that played many classical favorites, and a magician who was good. Overall, the entertainment was good. There is a movie theater on board, that shows recently run movies. Went to the 10:00 movies on a couple of occasions and enjoyed them. Saw Slum-dog Millionaire and another sci-fi flick. I don't have any complaints about the cruise, other then the rough seas on the last day that caused both my wife and I to get sick; however, this was obviously outside the control of Holland America, and just something you have to deal with from time to time. Again, I enjoyed this cruise immensely, as I have all my cruises. If you look for the negative in things, you will find them; however, if you are going to spend good money vacationing, why not choose to enjoy the adventure, and that is exactly what I did. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
A good size group of us were booked on the Disney Wonder for a 3 night cruise out of Port Canaveral on April 2. We were a good mix of adults and kids and age ranged from 2 - 40. This was our first cruise on a Disney boat. We're all ... Read More
A good size group of us were booked on the Disney Wonder for a 3 night cruise out of Port Canaveral on April 2. We were a good mix of adults and kids and age ranged from 2 - 40. This was our first cruise on a Disney boat. We're all basically within a two hour drive of the port but decided to continue our tradition of driving over the day before and staying at the Radisson in Port Canaveral. The hotel is ok (and since I saw someone else ask, they don't care if you put 5 people in a 4 person room) and has just finished a large refurbishment project which was very much needed! Due to a late night at the Radisson bar watching the UFC fights, we got up around 11 and headed over to the port. There were a lot of people already there but surprisingly, no lines. We went to station 11 and started our check in process. The lady at the counter (and unfortunately, I don't recall her name) was talking to another employee who clearly ticked her off and then took it out on us. She was rude and very short with us. We were in a CAT4 and had asked if suite upgrades were available. She told us, "I think we have a few rooms available but you're going to have to talk to the supervisor at the end of the line as I just don't have time for this." Wow... I was shocked. We walked to where the supervisor sits and lucky us, it was the employee who had clearly put our check in lady in a bad mood. Bummer for us. We decided not to bother with a suite upgrade (a mistake for us) and we met up with the remainder of our party. Once the parties had all met back up, we compared dining room assignments. We were all over the place... in fact; people in the same rooms had different dining tables and different dining rotations. We inquired with guest services and were told that we'd have to address this once on board the ship at the guest services counter on desk 3. We boarded in group 3 and went to get on board where the entire group realized that none of us had taken our pictures. We all checked in with the same lady who seemed to forget to point us to the kiosks where they take your picture for your room key card. Oh well, they fixed that pretty quickly and we were on board in no time....woo hoo. Vacation time! We headed to guest services where we were told that they couldn't do anything about it and we'd need to head to the waverly on deck 3. The group walks over there only to find out it doesn't open until 1p (and its 11:45 am now!). We were getting pretty fumed! Luckily, a guy named Alen from Croatia walked by and asked us why we were waiting there and we explained that we were a large group, wanted the same dining room table and restaurant rotation. He thought it was pretty silly that this had gotten messed up so bad, took out his notepad and assured us it would be resolved. We were a bit skeptical, because his English was very sketchy, but low and behold, about 3p, he came knocking on all of our doors with new dining assignments. That was some of the best customer service I have ever experienced and we rewarded him very well. Thanks to Alen's assistance, we were then able to head back to the aft part of the ship to enjoy lunch. The buffet lines were a bit crazy, but we expected that. The food was good, though I miss Royal Caribbean's Honey Stung Chicken on the departure day! We hung out for about an hour and then headed to our rooms. We're used to cruising in suites and were pleasantly surprised by the size of the CAT4 rooms. Not as big as a suite, but easy to move around in. What we were most disappointed in was the bathrooms. Holy cow they are SMALL!!! The section with the shower was ok but where the commode was, was almost unusable for us. I guess that's the price you pay for being 6'4" and 300lbs. Aside from some air conditioning issues that were never resolved, that was our only major disappointment with the rooms. Our room attendant "weekly" met with us and did a great job keeping the room clean and tidy and always making sure our "cooling box" was well stocked. We toured the ship and were amazed at how nice it was, for a kids and family ship. It is very well maintained and has an unspoken elegance about it. Not having a casino is a bit of a bummer, but that was replaced with glee when I found the Quiet Cove area (the adult pool) and the almost freezing coffee house attached to it. We had first seating and our rotation was P-T-A. I don't recall our server's name, but he was very good. His assistant waiter "Oscar" wasn't very good. We constantly had to get up to grab our own drink refills. After the first day, our main server had a plate full of jumbo shrimp waiting for me every night. I was in heaven. I was stunned at the food quality on Disney... clearly better than any other cruise line we've been on. It was FANTASTIC! In our party, we had a few adults and kids with food allergies and our head waiter continuously went above and beyond to make sure they were taken care of. Dinner service was a bit slow because of this (we were literally the last ones out, every night) but it was well worth the wait. Our first stop was Nassau... its Nassau, been there too many times to care anymore. I ended up staying on the boat, popping on my iPod and just being a lounge rat at the adult pool. Life is good! Our second stop was Disney's Castaway Cay (or Key, as they keep calling it). We got on to the island fairly late, but it wasn't that hard to find some nice seats. The island is laid out nicely and it is a nice break from the cruise ship. A big disappointment on this island, the bathrooms! Not sure how you think having 3 sets of restrooms (with 2 stalls each) is going to be ok for 2700 guests. I made most of the runs with the kids and each time, it was a 5-10 minute wait for a stall. There were two separate instances of kids who "didn't make it" and had accidents right there in line. I felt so bad for the kids and their parents who were clearly very embarrassed. I was embarrassed for Disney. Other than that, the food and service was great and I bought a few of their "survival" packs on the island, what a great idea. We arrived back at Port Canaveral pretty early, about 4:30 and the noise from docking and starting to unload the ship woke us up. We went back to sleep pretty easily and woke up around 8. We had a quick shower and headed straight for disembarkation. Holy cow again... boy do they have this down to a science! No fluff here folks, it took us exactly 9 minutes from the moment we closed our door to the second we made it to our car and that includes the time it took us to find our luggage! The other cruise lines need to come figure out how Disney managed to make this process as smooth as it was. The Good The ship is in immaculate condition and is very well maintained. The food is spectacular. The best I've had on a cruise! The service is for the most part very good. They have a strong focus on customer service! The Bad! The bathrooms in the rooms are ridiculously small. The folks in the check in area of the terminal need a refresher on providing good customer service! They need to put more restrooms on Castaway Cay. The Parents... holy crap are we raising a generation of kids who are going to be out of control. When did we start negotiating with children???!!! When did parents stop being parents???!!! Ok... that's for another thread! LOL! Overall Though it was a fun getaway with our friends, we'll likely not do another Disney cruise. We missed the Casino, we missed having things to do in the late night hours and I guess I prefer a cruise where the adults would have a fighting chance if the kids were to declare a mutiny on the boat. :-) Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Just got back! Carnival Liberty 4/4 LONG Eastern Review Ok everyone, get yourself a cup of coffee because it has always been the details that have helped me. I will also mention costs when I can because that is what helped me ... Read More
Just got back! Carnival Liberty 4/4 LONG Eastern Review Ok everyone, get yourself a cup of coffee because it has always been the details that have helped me. I will also mention costs when I can because that is what helped me budget.Perspective of single 52 years young mom, 18 y.o son,17 y.o daughter. This is our 6th Carnival cruise always during Spring break week, but have also sailed RCL & NCL. As this is our last family trip before son leaves for college he was allowed to bring his best buddy who has never cruised, and daughter brought her boyfriend who also has never cruised. Daughter & I in one cabin, guys in adjacent. Booked my cruise deal with my regular on line T.A. (Sharon). I shop itinerary & price and watch for price drops. She was able to link us to a group they had going to get us a better rate and $100 per cabin OBC. Departure- Always fly in day before. For us it is cheaper to have stretch limo pick us up at home then to park at Ohare and makes you feel like you are pampered. Had AA non-stop at 9:00 a.m.. Had previously been use to flying for around $300 @ so when I booked the 5 tickets last July at almost $500@ thought it was a bit much.I knew flight was overbooked We were hoping for a bump so we could get vouchers for air for next trip but didnt happen. Also airline now charges $15 @ for the first checked bag 5 bags checked X $15= $75 +tip EACH WAY (More about this later) Pre-Cruise- In Miami had booked Hyatt Summerfield Suites on Blue Lagoon. Carnival uses this hotel so most of the guests were cruise travellers. Called hotel direct and asked about best rate options. Ended up at $228 AARP rate. They have a free airport shuttle to hotel and free breakfast which was ideal travelling with 3 teenage boys. Had a 2BR, 2Bath suite with kitchenette and pull out sofa in living room (Perfect for the 5 of us & cheaper then 2 hotel rooms). From the hotel we walked about a block to a little strip mall and grabbed a subway for lunch and stopped at the Publix grocery store for a case of beer, a case of diet coke, and some bottled water. Ordered pizza delivered to hotel in p.m. I had packed so that my medium suitcase w/my clothes nestled in a larger suitcase and a folded collapsible cooler, thus giving me a spare suitcase for our beverages. Used the heavy plastic zipped bag like comforters come in for each case but encountered no problem with leakage. and checked all our bags through with the porter at the ship. ALthough there is a shuttle that could be arranged at $12@ = $60 through hotel at 11, we took a van like cab for all of us plus luggage at 10:00 a.m for $30 getting there about 10:15. We were able to walk right in terminal no lines and were considered group 2. Had to sit for maybe 30 minutes til group called and were onboard a little after 11. On Ship - Split up to have lunch and explore the ship. Guys loved the basketball (brought their own ball rather than wait to check one out)and volleyball court and spent most of their time there the entire cruise- had heard about the Mongolian Grill where you select your own veggies and either shrimp, chicken or beef- and then one of 3 sauces. They wok cook it for you. Had the szechaun sauce w/shrimp & veggies and it was amazing! Couldn't get in to cabin til 1:30 Later in the day before muster drill tried a shrimp quesadilla at the mexican and it was also great. Bought kids fountain cards about $47 each.Noticed our group of 5 was split between 2 adjacent tables. Stood in line to talk to maitre de about seating us together and he said just show up at dinner and ask people to switch. Re-convened for dinner. Had 6:00 seating in silver. Between 5 of us tried lots of menu items, most of them excellent. We particularly loved the bbq baby back ribs, grilled tiger shrimp,pasta & desserts. Daughter and her boyfriend ordered the flat iron steak which they felt was tender but kind of blah. Hot molten chocolate cake became a nightly favorite!!! Our service the first couple of nights was horrible (not a picky or demanding person- water glass never re-filled,never saw the bread guy return,soda never delivered, never even offered coffee after dinner). It just seemed like they were stressed out with managing 2 tables for 8 and a table for 2. Service however did a complete turn around and improved by the 4th night and I suspected that our table mates may have said something to maitre de. .My opinion on CDs is impacted by having cruised twice with John Heald as CD. John Heald is hysterical makes your cruise and does a lot of nice giveaways for selected cruisers. He thus raises the standard. Attended the welcome aboard show.Our CD on Liberty was Steve Knisely. He was ok. Usual shout outs to newlyweds, those celebrating anniversary, and past cruisers. No real giveaways and in my opinion not worth going to for past cruisers, which on this sailing was about half the ship. Day 2 Sea Day-Weather gorgeous, clock was off on cell phone. Got to Lido deck main pool for coffee at what I thought was 645 really 745 most chairs already claimed. Signs and chair police came around saying they had a 40 minute unattended rule which seemed to be disregarded by a number of the groups on board which would save rows of a dozen chairs and you might see one or two people using them all day. Found a single chair in the area near main pool and was content all day to sun & read. Had bought the bar credit coupons in advance and was able to enjoy some foo-foo drinks without worrying about an exorbitant bill at the end. This was captains party & formal night. Kids looked great and we took lots of family pictures including my "adopted kids". Ordered 2 lobster tails since they were small (4-6 0z) served with a couple of grilled shrimp and have to say this is the best lobster I have ever had on a cruise. Desserts as usual were wonderful Day 3 Sea Day poolside and San Juan in PM. Had booked the early 5:00 ziplining Original Canopy Tour for the 4 kids months in advance at $125 each. Said it was a blast but that it would have been better during the day time. While they were gone I tried Harry's Supper Club. AMAZING AMAZING dining experience for $30.I had booked on line but on the first day onboard I checked and they said they did not have my reservation. Hardly anyone there that night but the rest of the cruise it was booked solid and you couldn't get a reservation. Zipline Tour Suppose to get back at 830, they got back at 9 and they walked the block or so to Senor Frogs. $3. cover. Wild & Fun Dancing but Had to be back on board by 11:30 and kids did not want to leave Senor Frogs (ever lol). Drinks kind of pricey- $14.50@ and prices not listed anywhere that I saw. Day 4 St Thomas. Got off ship and got open-air van cab to Sapphire Beach for 10@=$50. Absolutely gorgeous and uncrowded beach. Got there about 930 and daughter and boyfriend signed at the dive shop to parasail $75@. Loved it and had the boat guy take pictures while they were up in the air. Enjoyed it so much they tipped them $25. Kids then rented snorkel equipment $5@ and snorkeled for an hr. while I lounged in a chair and watched cameras, wallets,etc. Wish I would have brought a cooler cause we were thirsty and nothing there- At noon we took a cab to Duffy's Love Shack that we had read about on these boards. Although it is only a 1/2 mile you had to get a cab ($20). Upon first pulling up 1st impression wasn't much, but drinks, food & service were terrific.Hardly anyone there and wish we had had the chance to see it at night. Kids said the burgers were the best they ever ate their entire life!!!! Asked server/bartender where to get a cab and he suggested getting on a "safari" for $2@ vs a cab at 10@. Said they look alike but the safari makes a couple of stops on way back to Havensight.Ended up paying $10 vs $50. Got to vicinity of ship about 3 and browse shopped at Havensightand got some bottled water to take to St. M the next day. Service at dinner had done a complete turnaround. Waiter seemed happy and said he had a chance to call his family from St. Thomas. I would say this was our only bad meal- Penne Maricos suppose to have shrimp & scallops on a penne pasta. Shrimps were tiny salad shrimp very rubbery but the pasta tasted like it was cooked in aquarium water. Kids had an Italian chicken dish that they also did not care for (stewed tomatoes & green beans over chicken). But Thank God for molten chocolate cake cause this made up for it!! Saw Tommy Drake comedian- in regular show- good show Day 5 St Maarten. This is one of my favorite islands and in my opinion shopping better here. Arrived 7:00 a.m. but not anything open til 9. Kids slept in and were going to shop and do the beach in Phillipsburg on own. About 8 I Took water taxi $6 for all day wrist band and browsed the shops til they opened. ENded up finding a Tanzanite & pink sapphire ring at Joes. Mentioned I had bought from them before and was able to negotiate substantially and got it for $350 switching some stones from another piece that had a better quality of Tanzanite. I really loved the ring and treated myself, but later experienced some buyers regret when I found a ring I liked better at Majesty in a similar price range. It did strike me that not as many people were shopping in the jewelry stores as I have observed on past trips to St. M. Jewelers seemed very anxious to deal and make a sale. Some of them I spoke with indicated that they have been really hurt by the economy. Several of the reputable stores that were on the ships recommended list in the past are not listed because they do not want to pay a % of sales back to Carnival (I had not known that they did this- but should have figured). After shopping for awhile I went to the beach area in front of the Holland HOuse hotel (Royal blue umbrellas) got a beach chair and enjoyed relaxing there. Went back to water taxi and ran into son & his friend. Shopped a bit more in pier area. Vacation was going way to quick. 3 of the 4 teens were over 18 and allowed in the disco.Daughter only 17 was not.She looks older but they were checking i.d.s On past cruises disco or karaoke was the place to be for that age group .From their opinion on Liberty the regular adult disco was boring and they were not playing good music (hiphop) to dance to. They all together ended up in the Teen 02 disco and nobody said anything and had a good time and behaved. Like any Spring Break cruise however you had just a few teens that acted stupid and a couple of "drunk teen cruise sluts" (Where were their parents?) and also a couple of 8-10 year olds out all night and still up at 530 in the morning. Watching movies on the big screen at night was another favorite activity as was NCAA basketball on Saturday & finals on MOnday.Popcorn was $1.50 from Lido bar. Day 6 (Thursday) Sea Day- Kids slept in. I was up early for a chair near main pool. Another gorgeous day and formal night. Prime Rib was delicious.Took more family pictures when dressed up, and ended up buying more than I should of but they were really very good. Day 7 (Friday) ANother sea day started out overcast but eventually sunny. Spent whole day on Lido deck while guys were on sports deck playing basketball.Disappointed there was no win a cruise bingo. Dreaded packing. kids out of clothes so they ran a load of wash to get through the day. They stayed up late with many of their new friends Day 8 (Saturday)Chose to do self debarkation and were off the ship and through customs about 8:15 This is the part I hate- Our AA flight was at 2 since they tell you not to book til after 12. There was an 11 flight and I know the first time I do we will be held up in customs. Got a cab to the airport for all 5 of us with luggage for $24 total (30 w tip). At airport curbside check in they again charge on Master CArd the $15 per bag. They do not take cash. They claimed my bag was over by 14# and that was $15 plus an additional $50.Total of $125 just to get our bags home. Now I may have weighted 14# more (just kidding) but I knew my bag wasn't since it had exactly the same stuff as on the way down to Miami. There was no point debating it so I had no choice but to pay it and we went to our gate where the guys stretched out and fell asleep. Feeding teenagers in MIA airport was not cheap and because they were bored and use to eating all day on the ship, you can only imagine ($8 for hotdog,fry and drink and they can eat several). Boarded flight at 1:30 and arrived Chicago early. However only 1 of 6 bags came in on our flight even though we checked them all together, 4 were sent on an early flight and had to be claimed in a holding area and 1 bag never made it and was being sent on a later flight arriving 90 minutes later. She said we could wait for it and since we had the arrangements for the limo to pick us up we filed a claim and asked for a courier to deliver it to our home. As soon as we had all the bags that were in Chicago we called the limo and he told us the door to meet at in 5 minutes. Fabulous convenience after being tired from travelling, not to mention cheaper then if I would pay to park in the parking garage and pay for gas. I would rate this cruise a 4.9 on a 5.0 scale and loved the itinerary. We had a great time. Particular likes included the Mongolian Grill, Harrys, Lobster Tail on Captains night, Molten Choc Cake, Almost everything at Taste of Nations buffet, Adult comedy show of Tommy Drake. Suggestions- skip the carnival infomercials, and push to sign people for a sea mile credit card,prefer a beverage station on Lido deck outdoors for Lemonaid, coffee, instead of walking inside in a swim suit. missed not having the grand midnight buffet with all the ice carvings and fancy desserts to see, they had very few raffles in gift shop whereas in the past I seem to remember something given away every day. Legends show is getting dated especially for past cruisers. Great concept but Need to update the performers. (Nobody really listens to Brittany do they??) Activities were pretty much the usual except one night they played "Quest" an adult scavenger hunt (We played it before on RCL- so I think Carnival borrowed this idea and kids said it was great). I know I will think of more as soon as I post this but am happy to answer any questions. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Arrival / Embarkation: We arrived around 10:00 AM on Sunday on a flight into Miami airport. We were concerned that we did not book a transfer thru the cruise line and taxi logistics might be a challenge. We were pleasantly surprised when ... Read More
Arrival / Embarkation: We arrived around 10:00 AM on Sunday on a flight into Miami airport. We were concerned that we did not book a transfer thru the cruise line and taxi logistics might be a challenge. We were pleasantly surprised when we walked to the curb at baggage claim and asked for a mini van cab and stepped right into a cab with a fixed price fare of $24 to the cruise ship port. We loaded up the bags and were off to the ship at around noon. The drop off process was as chaotic as you would expect with 2500 people all trying to do the same thing as us. HINT: make sure your kids pack a swim suit in their back packs you carry on the ship otherwise they will whine all day until your bags show up. Embarkation was pretty simple; declaration of "good health", metal detector for carry on bags (no drinks allowed to be carried on). We stood in line for about 25 minutes before we were checked in and walked up to pick up the cruise cards. One stop for the boarding photo and we were on deck in the first of many hand sanitizer stations and complementary champagne / orange juice. Off to the pool deck for lunch. Nothing fancy just a grill but it worked. It was 2 PM before we were allowed down to our mid ship inside stateroom. As we expected it was tight and we did not figure out until later where the fourth bed was coming from. Typical most cruises they push together two twins into a queen for mom and dad and one pull down for our 10 yr old. We later figured out that a trundle bed pulled out from underneath one of the beds. The trundle was basically on the floor. No complaints on the beds; comfy as previously reported on CC but with all four setup it was a tight floor plan for 2 adults and 2 kids but you get what you pay for. Onboard activities: Our kids have cruised on Disney, Celebrity and Carnival so they knew upfront they were not heading into the Kids Program. It looked fine for younger kids and they seemed to have a bunch of teen activities but with 900 kids (babies to teens) onboard for Spring Break I think they were a bit overwhelmed. My kid's feedback was they were disappointed there were not more "general' kid's activities available outside the kids program. They were hoping for some general pool games, scavenger hunts, boat building that they've seen on other cruise lines. That being said they REALLY enjoyed the rock climbing, giant chess games and shuffle board. They said the video arcade was lame / expensive - most games were $1.00. They were less then thrilled with the water slide and the pool was small (crowded) for the size of the ship. We did go to the juggling workshop run by the two Shark Bait performers and it was very well done. My wife and I both enjoyed the library for a quiet escape from the crowds. Entertainment / Fitness / Activities: We saw the comedian David Nasser on the last night with Shark Bait and he was outstanding. I heard from others we missed a great show when he first performed. We REALLY enjoyed both Shark Bait performances. We did not attend any other formal evening entertainment. The music around the ship and on the NCL island was all good. We used the gym a couple of times and it was very nice for a cruise ship. HINT: go very early or late and it is empty. My wife thought other cruise lines had a better variety and quality of exercise classes. This is the first time she has paid for a class on 7 cruises. Dining: We dined at three of the premium restaurants. La Cucina on the first night. We really enjoyed the food but don't book La Cucina before 6:30 since the basketball court is right above the dining area and it sounded like they were going to come thru the ceiling. HINT: booking a premium restaurant on the first night was a breeze and it was a quiet escape from the crowds. We dined at Indigo on night two and six and Summer Palace on night four and we enjoyed our meals comparable to other cruise line main dining fare. Hint: Ask for a table next to the windows vs. near the entrance at both. We dined at Mambos on Wednesday, and Cagney's without kids on Friday night. The added charge was a small price to pay for better then average cruise fare, smaller dining rooms with different themes. Kids eat for half the adult charge. Every morning we ate breakfast on the open deck behind the Garden Cafe. NCL Island / Great Stirrup Cay - We tendered to the island and the logistics for leaving were less then ideal. We stood around for a while on the stairs before we boarded the landing craft / tender to shore. As it is on the ship everyone seems to be a chair hoarder and we spied chairs at the right end of the beach in the shade that were perfect but most chairs in the center were already taken when we showed up. HINT: bring your own snorkel gear with water shoes the beach is rocky and there is coral in shallow water. Swim to the rock island 100 yards offshore and you will see some very nice marine life. We actually saw more unique fish swimming here then we did in Cozumel. If you knew where to look and did not give up close to shore your patience was rewarded. We saw multiple rays, lion fish, spotted eel, angel fish, etc. Our only observations are that the "freestyle" concept seems to remove the incentive for super attentive staff we've experienced on all our previous cruises and "flexibility" can turn into chaos when the ship is at 105% capacity. The carry your own luggage departure process sounds like a great idea but I think we stood in line longer then we've done on previous cruises. Overall I would recommend the NCL Pearl western itinerary to families with kids. We enjoyed our Spring Break cruise. Easter Break tends to attract a lot of first time cruising families and large groups. I feel sorry for anyone that was trying to escape kids and crowds on their Spring Break cruise. The Pearl staff did a great job making this week a memorable vacation for our family. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Carnival usually has great itineraries and great value for money, which is why we usually choose them for most of our cruises including this past one. After this cruise, I have realized that the phrase "you get what you pay for" ... Read More
Carnival usually has great itineraries and great value for money, which is why we usually choose them for most of our cruises including this past one. After this cruise, I have realized that the phrase "you get what you pay for" stands true when cruising. CHECKING IN On embarkation day, we arrived early, to be confronted with a line that wrapped around the building. Usually, Carnival separates first-time cruisers (Blue tier), past guests (Gold tier), and 10+ voyage guests (Platinum tier). At Port Everglades, this was not done, and the security waved us through without even looking at our tickets and passports. The terminal was not air conditioned (and in Florida that's like being in an oven), so while we were with the agent getting our passports scanned, we almost finished, when the servers overheated and crashed. We had to start all over again, and boarding the boat took an additional hour. SHIP EXPERIENCE DINING On the Freedom, there is no such thing as customer service. It all started with dining. If you've cruised Carnival before, then chances are you're probably gonna eat the SAME FOOD AS ON THE OTHER SHIPS! The menu did not change at all from the last cruise I took, and in fact the lunch ones were the same as a cruise I took in 2006 right before another. The room service also messed up every order, and I think it was deliberate. We once ordered three items, and only two arrived. Then, in the mornings, if tea was ordered, coffee came in a jug, accompanied by tea bags. If coffee was ordered, no cream or sugar arrived. At the bars, the bartenders do not serve you if they see you have a soda package card (because it means that they don't make a 15% gratuity). My son waited 10 minutes once for a Coke, and received a Shirley Temple instead, and was told to "deal with it" when he corrected the bartender. When I went gambling and told him to wait at the bar outside of the casino, the bartender served him after 15 minutes, and told him rudely to leave because the bar was in a casino (when it wasn't at all). I somewhat understand this, but not when he was sitting next to a group of six-year-olds who were allowed to sit there. SHOPS When we wanted to buy some watches, we literally had to sell them to ourselves. When we wanted them sized, they acted like they were doing us a favor! Some associates couldn't work the registers, and couldn't handle an influx of people on sea days. PURSER'S DESK When we wanted to settle the bill in cash on the last night, the associate wouldn't help us because she didn't want to count change out. After realizing her 5 minutes of horrible attitude, another man came over to help us. However, when I got home, my Visa was billed for the same amount that I paid off! DEBARKATION I thought this would be easy; fill out a customs form and put your bags outside your stateroom for the porters to take to the terminal. Nope! We put our bags out as told and went to bed. The next day, ready to disembark, we went to deck three to get off, but when we swiped our cards to leave the vessel, the machine denied us permission to leave. The guard shouted "GO PAY YOUR BILL" at the top of his lungs, loud enough for the entire atrium to hear. When I told him that I paid last night in cash, and showed him the receipt, he picked up the phone and called the purser's desk (which was right next to us)! He then threw the phone on the floor, and escorted us to the purser's desk. We were then escorted by security off of the ship, with everyone watching. We got our bags, and were taken to Customs. Then, we realized that we had exceeded our duty free limit and had to pay an extra $85. No problem; but why the hell were we escorted off like criminals? The security never apologized, and we were told to "deal with it" again. Overall, I expected better from Carnival Cruise Lines and will NEVER EVER sail with them again. It seemed as if my family was punished for spending $6000 in the jewelry shop onboard... so if you choose to continue sailing on this vessel; don't exceed your duty limit. All that was needed was handcuffs... and the atrium would've been a crime scene. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We're fourth time Carnival Cruisers. Maybe we need to change companies as our cruise was good, very good, just nothing new or different. I made my reservation, balcony guarantee, over a year ago. I know the ship was ... Read More
We're fourth time Carnival Cruisers. Maybe we need to change companies as our cruise was good, very good, just nothing new or different. I made my reservation, balcony guarantee, over a year ago. I know the ship was "full", but my cabin location was just okay. I guess you get only what you pay for on a full ship cruise; no upgrading. First year on spring break we got upgraded to a suite, second and third spring breaks, we had VERY nice balcony rooms in very good locations. This year in cabin 8201, we could not see to the left at all because of the extension where they "drive" the ship. I guess they have to have that thing. We got lots of exercise coming and going to wherever we needed to go being clear at the end. We had friends traveling with us who didn't make their reservation until December. We wanted to have dinner together and we were wait listed for early dinner. We ended up getting early dinner which was a good thing. The food was also typical Carnival. Nothing great, nothing awful. The chocolate melting cake is just awesome and one thing that definitely should not be changed. One course has been deleted as starters and salad are in one category. Just order what you want no problem. Shore Excursions Amazing Race I wore flip flops. It's definitely a tennis shoes excursion. It was a lot of work. Went to the Beach at Costa Maya and did some shopping great time. Belize is such a poor country. I was glad to see how others live it made me realize just how blessed I am. Bahamasspent day at Atlantis. Very sheek! It was very busy as it was Good Friday and many were on "holiday". Excursion was $155/person and I don't think we got our money's worth that day. Debarkation was a total disaster. Never ever has it been so bad. Slow, slow, slow. All in all it was a great cruise. I just think maybe my family has outgrown Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Embarkation Day: We parked at Park N' Fly, which is about 1 mile from Port Everglades. The 1st shuttle let the parking lot about 10:45am. We were picked up from our car and the luggage was loaded on the shuttle for us. We used our ... Read More
Embarkation Day: We parked at Park N' Fly, which is about 1 mile from Port Everglades. The 1st shuttle let the parking lot about 10:45am. We were picked up from our car and the luggage was loaded on the shuttle for us. We used our AAA card for a daily discount. Our pre-paid reservation cost $84 for 8 days (vs. $120 at the Port Parking garage). Even with our tip to the shuttle driver, we still saved money. Check in at the port was very easy. However, some people must have thought the ship was going to leave them, even at 11:30am!! Just a friendly reminder to those who forget their manners & etiquette: there's no need to cut in line in front of guests when checking in or even waiting for basic services on the ship. Good etiquette goes a long way. We were on the ship by 11:30am. My room key didn't work, but my minor son's did. I had to eventually go to the guest relations desk to get my key fixed. We had lunch in the Windjammer and played at the H20 Zone (awesome) all before 1pm. Cabin: At 1pm, our cabin was ready. We had a Florida resident rate and our balcony cabin on Deck 9 was great. There was plenty room for the two of us and our luggage. We stored our luggage at the bottom of the closet and that was 1 large suitcase, 2 large duffel bags, and a small carry-on bag. The balcony had 2 chairs and table; plenty of space to sunbathe and enjoy room service meals. The beds were very comfortable and the sofa was nice to relax on when taking a break from all the ship activities. Bathrooms on ships are small, unless you are in a suite. However, even though the bathroom was compact, it was cleverly designed and we always had plenty of towels. Meals / Drink Service: My son had dinner one time in the main dining room (early seating). Johnny Rockets and the Windjammer Cafe were preferred by most of the younger kids. Even those children who would run through the dining venues and their parents say nothing to them: seem to enjoy all the French Fries and cheese pizza. I enjoyed a few dinners in the main dining room. However, the sushi was very good in the Windjammer, and the burgers at Johnny Rockets were great. Most of my complimentary drinks were in the Diamond Lounge in the evening (for Diamond & higher repeater cruisers). However, I did have a few other drinks at the Solarium, Disco, and Piano bars. All of the waiters & bartenders were very nice and provided excellent service. Overall, I actually enjoyed the food better in the Windjammer & Portofino (great mystery dinner there, too) better than the main dining room. The Cafe Promenade and Pizza shops on the Royal Promenade had great desserts, ham & cheese sandwiches, and pizza. Pool Chairs & Towels: I love the new towel service in which a towel/person is issued. It eliminates the over usage of towels and holding of pool chairs. And, if no one sat in a chair for more than 30 minutes, the Pool / Deck Patrol would remove the items off of the chair so other waiting guests could sit. Of course this made some people mad, but the new procedure gets thumbs up from me. And, if towels are not turned in, there is a $20 charge for each towel. Your SeaPass card is scanned upon towel issue. Spa / Fitness Center: The Spa offered many different treatments and daily specials. However, if you want to enjoy the spa, book your appointments on the 1st day for the entire week. The spa stays booked. I enjoyed several treatments and was able to have to same spa therapist for all treatments. The fitness center is nice. I never had to wait for a machine if I went to the gym to work out!! Flow Rider / Rock Climbing & other Fun Areas: The flow rider always had a line. So get there early. However, that was the same for the sign-up for the Rock climbing wall, and the ice skating sessions. The flow rider offers private lessons at $60. The entire flow rider can be booked for a private session for you group at $300 or so. Mini golf was fun and the whirlpools in the solarium were nice. The H20 Zone was enjoyed by both the young and old. What a fun interactive water area just perfect to cool off on a hot day! Adventure Ocean Center & the Arcade: My son participated in many of the Adventure Ocean group activities. This ship is so large that I found it safer for the kids to participate in group activities than roam the ship alone with their parents not to be in sight. Since this was a Spring Break sailing, there were over 1200 kids on this sailing. However, I saw some many "really young kids" roaming around alone. I just think a child under the age of 6 should be with their parents or in the kids' center. Or, if parents need some adult time, the kids' center offers late night group activities for $5/hour and even $8 for Lunch & Play time. And, a word to the wise: remove charging from your child's card. Otherwise, they might charge up your onboard account with game play from the arcade. Now this did not happen to me, however there were many adults who discovered . . . $200+ later that there were arcade charges on their accounts (racked up by their sweet kids)!! Overall, the kids center offered excellent programs for ages 3 through the teens. And, I know that kids will be kids, but some basic manners can go a long way and also make their parents not get calls from security. I felt slightly sorry for some parents who had to deal with security because their children were being allowed to misbehave or misbehaving on their own. As the saying goes: some basic home training is a good thing! Overall: The Independence of the Seas is a great ship. Even though the ship was full and close to 4000 passengers, there was room for all. You could even find a few quiet spots on the ship if that is want you wanted. Or it was very easy to make friends in any of the numerous bars, pools, or the casino! You won't be disappointed on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
This was the first cruise for my family. We had a balcony cabin off the back of the ship. It was sold to us on the premise that we would enjoy the balcony more since wind would not be a factor and since we could see both sides of ports ... Read More
This was the first cruise for my family. We had a balcony cabin off the back of the ship. It was sold to us on the premise that we would enjoy the balcony more since wind would not be a factor and since we could see both sides of ports as we docked. The balcony was very important to us since our daughter is 3.5 and we wanted a place to relax at night while she slept. The advice proved good and we enjoyed our balcony nightly without wind. The view advice was a little off, as we often were behind the action. The only negative to the back of the boat seemed to be some engine vibration and the ride seemed a little rougher, but all very tolerable. The cabin was clean and roomier than we expected. They utilize space very well and we were able to store the contents of our luggage and move about the room without issue. Our room steward, Salvador, was top notch. He went above and beyond to make our family comfortable. I am sure they are trained to be accommodating, but Salvador embraced it. He knew us all by name and would frequently stop what he was doing to greet our family. He put a smile on my daughters face nightly with the towel animals and cookies. One night he made a special trip for her to get her a cookie...totally unnecessary, but he won her over. The food was adequate in the buffet (you could find something) but the dining room and the Golden Fleece were exceptional. Again, the staff made it here and we were fond of our service staff Emil and Valencio. One night, Emil spilled a small amount of wine on me, no big deal, but I was followed up with twice via phone and even received a letter of apology from the cruise line with offers to clean whatever. Emil of course apologized, and as I said it was no big deal, but I was VERY impressed with the follow-up to make sure everything was alright. We did not do many of the activities because of our child, but we did use Kids Club and participate in some of the family activities. Kids Club was enjoyable for my daughter and I am convinced the staff took great care of my child, but I can not say the staff is too adult friendly. I am sure they deal a lot with drunk parents who leave their child in Kids Club for hours on end. This is not what we did, but we still felt a little put off by them. The family activities were fun, the entertainment we saw enjoyable, and the idea of the "Fun Ship" seemed prevalent as activities went on all day on deck engaging young and old alike. Like other reviews, I agree the ship is showing age, but it was very clean, well laid out, and overall very enjoyable. The embarkation process was long and tiring, while the disembarking process was easy and seamless. Allow more time than suggested for getting off at ports with tenders (in fact we missed our first shore excursion despite being where we were supposed to be when required) and plan ahead of time. If possible, prepurchase your shore excursions, don't wait to buy onboard because of the lines. We went on excursions in Grand Cayman and Roatan and enjoyed both (we reconnected with our 1st excursion!). There is not much to do in Belize and Cozumel was dirty, crowded, and disappointing. As for onboard shopping, do it late...they put a lot of stuff on sale late in the cruise. The same holds true for the spa. If you want to take the chance of booking your appointment late, you can save big money. My wife and I received a $91 discount on a couples massage simply by booking late in the cruise. By the way, make sure Kids Club is open when you are booking excursions, appointments, or things you do without your kid! We learned that lesson! We were totally pleased and will most likely travel with Carnival again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We had a great time on our cruise, but a few things worth mentioning that maybe others' may want to know before choosing Celebrity. The biggest thing was the food. It was presented beautifully, but it just didn't taste good. We ... Read More
We had a great time on our cruise, but a few things worth mentioning that maybe others' may want to know before choosing Celebrity. The biggest thing was the food. It was presented beautifully, but it just didn't taste good. We really wanted to like the food, but day after day, it was another night of "what are we eating"? The food was bland, mushy and tasted like it was prepared a long time ago and was sitting out. The ice cream and sorbet was always melted. Our dinner waiter was good, but not like years ago when they really went out of their way to serve you. Breakfast each morning was always bad service. They were friendly, but slow and apathetic. Maybe because now the tips are automatically put on your cruise tab. Another complaint that we heard all around the ship is WHY OH WHY DID WE STOP IN TOBAGO!!! There is nothing to do on this island and they even warned us before leaving the ship to not wear any jewelry (theft). Also, not the most important, but it didn't have a fun atmosphere. There was no energy. The crew was polite, but there was something missing. It just looked to me like the crew was bored with their jobs and were just going through the motions. I think next time we will try a different cruise line. This was our second Celebrity cruise and we don't think we will cruise with them again. The positives: Awesome family suite facing the back of the boat (9199). Very good room stewart. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Let me start by saying...I was on the NCL Dawn when the 70 foot rogue wave hit and I had more fun on that cruise with all it's sea sick passengers then I did on the Gem. The only thing I can truly say is that this cruise was just ... Read More
Let me start by saying...I was on the NCL Dawn when the 70 foot rogue wave hit and I had more fun on that cruise with all it's sea sick passengers then I did on the Gem. The only thing I can truly say is that this cruise was just mediocre. There was NO wow factor. The food was just ok (very small portions and blah)If you went to dinner any time from 6-7:30 you had to take a beeper and wait 20-45 min for them to beep you. If you wanted a better quality meal you had to pay extra at the specialty restaurants. The rooms were fine, just small. We're a family of 4 and we got two balcony rooms so that we had some space...Thank God because there is no way were could have managed with 4 in one room. Our friends had 3 and said it was very tight. (PS they had a mini suite, I do not see where it was any bigger then a regular room!)Another friend had an interior room and when they dropped the bed from the ceiling for the 3rd person it was half over her bed and only 2 feet from her face!) The Room stewards NEVER talked to us, They said we took 4 bottles of pelegrino from the honor bar. We never touched the honor bar! My kids hate water so I know they didn't take it.(next time i would have them lock it up and take out anything else.When we complained to the front desk(nasty and useless) they said there was nothing they could do, they they had to take the word of the steward. (Who never changed our sheets or cleaned the mirror that had nasty white stuff on all of them). We told them ...then were were taking back the tips to cover the charges, they could care less! I hated that because I work for tips ad know how important it is. We were traveling with a group of 20 and they all had the same comment, it just didn't seem like any one cared if you had a good experience or not. The only show I didn't want to walk out of was the 70's show,. the rest were boring. The magician was good but I had seen him 3 years ago and his act hadn't changed one bit. They had this thing called the white hot party, you had to wear white, It sounded fun and I thought there would be some special lighting but it was just a plain ole dance ,no wow factor there either. My daughter (8) couldn't wait to go to the kids club...after the first day she would not go back unless we forced her. She said it was very boring and only the kids 6 and under have fun. Not to mention that not once did anyone ask to see my card to make sure I was her parent. Chucky cheese is safer then this. My son (13) really hated his club. there is really nothing going on accept hanging out and some (in his words) goober games. Luckily for him there were 950 kids on board, he made friends. In my opinion Disney Cruise line is the best by far in the kid club area. I just felt like it was very crowded and I had to wait in line for every thing. I had to stand and eat breakfast twice because there was no tables to sit at. The buffet was the same food everyday. It wasn't bad just boring. The chocoholic buffet was a waste of time and aggravation. It was almost inedible. The good thing about the buffet is that you can get coffee and icecream/ snack till 11:30 pm. This is the 1st cruise I have ever seen that they didn't have a survey card, they just don't care. In short this is the last (I've had 4) NCL cruise I will ever take. Freestyle takes away from the personal service, because they know they will get their tips either way, It is $12 per person per day for gratuities. Which is more then fair if the service was good. Happy sailing Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Day 1 - Embarkation: Arrived at the Port of Miami around noon. Was on the ship by 12:20pm. Painless and effort free. Went to the Lido Deck and headed straight for the grill. Enjoyed a wonderful lunch and headed down to our cabins. We were ... Read More
Day 1 - Embarkation: Arrived at the Port of Miami around noon. Was on the ship by 12:20pm. Painless and effort free. Went to the Lido Deck and headed straight for the grill. Enjoyed a wonderful lunch and headed down to our cabins. We were in 8275 (balcony) and the boys were in an inside across the hall (8273). Loved the location as we were one floor below the pool deck! Very convenient for the kids. Day 2 - At Sea: Kids loved the activities at the Circle C Club. Hubby and I enjoyed our alone time laying out at on the deck above the pool. First formal night...lobster and shrimp were amazing...loved watching the boys eat 3 plates of it a piece! Kids headed off to the teen dance and hubby and I caught the adult comedy show...hilarious! Day 3 - Cozumel: Booked Nachi Cocum due to rave reviews on the cruise critic boards. Spent the morning/early afternoon there, then headed to Dolphin Discovery at Chakanaab. Both were excellent in value and experience. Felt safe the entire day. The dining room was open dining, which we loved. After dinner, kids again went to teen dance and hubby and I caught the movie under the stars at the pool, then headed down to the California Wine Bar (I highly recommend the Santa Margarita Pinot sold by the glass, Mmmmmmmmmmm) Day 4 - At Sea: Basically a repeat of Day 2 without the Formal night...had a casual dinner with the boys who were addicted to the pizza and ice cream by now... Day 5 - Grand Cayman: Hate the tenders, but love the island. Is one of my favorite places on earth as the water is so clear you can see the bottom, no matter how deep it is. Had the excursion from hell. I do not recommend the wave runner excursion through Grand Cayman Excursions dot com unless you are an experienced rider. I am not, seas were very choppy and they tell you to go as fast as you can so that you don't waste anyone's time at Stingray City. Guides kept yelling at me to go faster, and I ended up rubbing all of the skin off of my inner thighs. Ended up in tears as salt water plus raw flesh equal extreme pain. That's all I have to say about that. I was in so much pain that I stayed in my cabin for the remainder of the night and ordered room service. Day 6 - Ocho Rios: Had to cancel our excursion of Falls/Beach due to my condition from the previous day as well as one of our little one's being ill. Our cabin stewards were great though as they knew we were having a rough day and were very compassionate. Love them. Day 7 - Day at Sea: Relaxed in our cabin as it was still painful to walk from the darn wave runner. More room service. Did go up for the movie under the stars with hubby again. Overall, loved the service, food, and overall experience on the Triumph. Great itinerary, great kids program, great people taking care of you. We were pampered and had everything we needed. Can't wait until our next cruise, sans the wave runners. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
This was my 15th cruise, third on Holland America. There were 3 of us cruising, myself, my wife and adult son. We opted for Marriott Springhill Suites in Ft Lauderdale for the pre-cruise hotel. It turned out to be an excellent choice. ... Read More
This was my 15th cruise, third on Holland America. There were 3 of us cruising, myself, my wife and adult son. We opted for Marriott Springhill Suites in Ft Lauderdale for the pre-cruise hotel. It turned out to be an excellent choice. We flew in from Las Vegas and landed at 9 PM at FLL the day before the cruise. We took a taxi to Springhill for about $18 including tip. There were several fast food restaurants across the street so that worked out for us arriving that late. The next day we stocked up on some sodas and water at K-Mart in the shopping center across the street. Yes, we're cheap or frugal, as we don't want to pay $1.95 for a soda on the ship. You can purchase a beverage card aboard for $18. One of the wine stewardesses aboard told us, you need to drink about 3 sodas a day to make it worthwhile. She said it is just the glass not the can. Springhill is very organized regarding transport to the port. You sign up when you arrive. We went with the 12:30 PM shuttle. The next day they have several vans with a baggage trailers behind to transport you to the port. It's a contract company, KSA that will market the return transport from the ship back to Springhill or the airport. They charge $8 a head. We opted for it. They give you an orange badge to stick on your clothing to identify which cattle pen to herd you into when you depart the ship. Moo! But like the California cows, we could talk. It was probably cheaper to take a cab from the ship to airport, but I like the convenience and peace of mind of being herded. The KSA driver put our baggage on the curb outside the cruise terminal (26), and that's the last we had to deal with it until it arrived in our cabin. The KSA driver gave us short dissertation on leaving your cell phone on while aboard the ship. He went into great detail of how the charges would be roaming with the ships cell tower and even voice mail calls would cost at least $2 aboard the ship. That's one less soda. I don't remember this dissertation on my first cruise in 1989. Embarkation was smooth, took about 20-30 minutes. If you were in a SC cabin or above, they had your cabin numbers listed on a board as you entered the embarkation hall. They wanted you to identify yourself to the staff. These folks got whisked away to some place behind a curtain. I'm not sure what happened to them as I never saw them again until some sightings on HMC. Not us, we were the K-Mart soda crowd. They don't push you for the embarkation photo. Which is a good thing, as my family is in the witness security program. Disembarkation was smooth too. We arrived on ship at 1:20 PM and were able to go our cabins at 1:30 PM. There is no sense in getting aboard any sooner, as you just have to wait in the Lido restaurant with your carryon luggage. Our cabin was a SY handicapped cabin, because that's all they had left when I booked in this category. It was a nice cabin at the front of the ship with a balcony. It's the first balcony cabin or suite we have booked . As a handicapped cabin, we had 2 showers. One tub shower, and one freestanding one with a pull down chair. The bed had a great mattress and 2000 thread count sheets. Who counts those threads, and when did this start? My son had a convertible bed sofa that was adequate with 50 thread count sheets. The balcony was nice for sitting out as you were leaving port and in port. But during the cruise it was too windy to step outside. The curtains closed with an electric switch. I thought it was very high tech. There was plenty of room for stowage. Computers; you can purchase 250 minutes of internet time for $100, and lesser amounts. If you opt for the 250 on the first day, they will give you 20 additional minutes. There was an internet happy hour at least twice for an hour or two where you used only ½ of your minutes during that time. We had to ask for our account to be adjusted though by the internet manager in the Explorers Lounge. There is printer there for printing out your boarding pass for your return flight. There are plenty of computers set up in the Explorers Lounge. However Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship, including your cabin. There is no J-45 plug in your cabin, only an old modem port. But our laptop picked up on the Wi-Fi in the cabin. There are about 10 TV channels on your flat panel TV and a DVD player in the cabin. The Explorers Lounge has a selection of about 800 DVDs to check out for $3 a night. I guess in all suites, DVD check- out is free. But if you are reduced to watching a lot of TV and DVDs in your cabin, you are definitely not taking advantage of all a cruise ship has to offer. The ship is well appointed and kept very clean by the staff. The art work throughout the ship was impressive. Out ship was full with 1915 passengers. They actually made offers to some passengers to book a later cruise, including the 16 day repositioning cruise for the same cost of the 7 day. I think it was a combination of the spring break crowd, and the destinations that made this cruise so popular. It was a mix of young and old. The food was good on this cruise. The Indonesian and Filipino staff was very friendly and helpful. The burger bar in the pool area was crowded at peak lunch times on sea days. We had dinner on the formal Tuesday night at the Pinnacle Grill and were not disappointed. Our $20 each meal in the Pinnacle Grill was provided to us complementary (comped in Vegas terms) for some reason. The Lido had a large variety and was well prepared. The Vista Restaurant provided you with a choice of fixed dining times in the upper level or called in reservations or as you wish dining on the lower level. We opted for the ad hoc dining as we didn't want to fit into any meal schedule. Plus you we were able to sit with different table mates each night. Cabin service was available, but I was never too lazy to get out of the cabin to eat on the ship. Our Cruise Critic Group had a nice meeting in the Crows Nest. I arranged this with the HAL in advance for our first sea day. It was great to put faces with the names we had communicated with on the Boards for months. I thought the entertainment was great. Joel Mason, the Elton John singer, was excellent. He is an outstanding singer and piano player. He brings his own sense of humor to his show. One woman got up in the front row during one of Joel's ballads. Joel chased her down the aisle brought her and had her sit in a chair next to his piano. All in good fun of course. The singers and dancers were good. The singers had great voices. The sets and costumes were top notch. They are hired by Stiletto Entertainment out of Las Vegas. The costumes are made by Bob Mackie, who designs Cher's costumes. One of the dresses is worth around $10K. If you attend the informal tour with the cast and crew you learn all these neat facts. The Illusionist Leo Ward was exceptional. He added some real comedy to his show. If you go to the 8:00 PM show, get there early as there were people sitting on the steps. The four blondes around the motorcycle are part of Dance Company, not his. That's all I'll tell you about his show. The comedian Frank King had some good Southern humor and had us all laughing. We appreciated it because we are from Southern Nevada. He did one 10:00 PM show the night were in Aruba. The morning coffee question answer sessions with the Cruise Director Kerry and Joel Mason and later in the week the Captain Peter Harris were great. One woman asked the Captain if the ship ran on auto pilot at night. The Captain said he has never found the bridge at night. Half Moon Cay (pronounced key) was all everyone has said before. Beautiful beach, lots of water sports. Tendering to the island was easy as they use larger vessels instead of the life boats. The barbeque was fine. They had everything you would expect at a barbeque and it was well prepared. We did the Aquatrax-jet skis. The three of us all had our own machine and followed the leader in a large lagoon behind the beach. They even took us out in some of the choppy ocean, which was a blast. We heard the horseback riders say they went without saddles and into the ocean while holding onto the horse's mane. One Austrian passenger told me the parasailing was excellent, as you had a great view of the island. They have a fortress like entrance to the Island in an area called Pirates Cove when you get off the tender. Probably named this based on the cost of sodas. I think the very old fort entrance was built way back sometime after 1997 when Holland America purchased the Island. Though, I didn't see any evidence of old gun turrets to ward off the pirates or modern day tourists on the fort buttress. My tip, don't bother with the clam shell if you plan to move about the island during the day or rain showers are predicted for the day. However, I have no idea how you are going to know the weather in advance. That's $20 saved you could spend on sodas. There are a limited number of cabanas to rent with shower installed on the end to wash that pesky sand of your feet and shoes. I thought I saw some of those SC and above people reappear on those cabanas with ship sodas. On Aruba I reserved a Jeep rental in advance. We decided to go independent on Aruba because it was our second trip there. After having to call American Jeep Rental, as they were not at the location they emailed me, we took off in our Jeep Wrangler that probably hadn't seen service since it was purchased 8 years ago. We did all the usual items, California Lighthouse, climbed the Rock formation, and the looked at the Natural Bridge. It was a nice break from being herded into a bus and having to wait for that one person who always took too long in the gift shop. We were so hot at the rock climbing location I broke down and purchased a cold soda for $2.50. My son reminded me they were $1.95 at HMC. Willemstad Curacao was a beautiful city, with pastel painted houses much like Amsterdam. The swinging pedestrian Royal Bridge linking the port with the town opens about 20 times a day to allow ships to pass in and out of the harbor. I thought it would be more practical to build a tunnel under the river, but wife disagreed and said it added to the charm of the city. By extension, I don't think she would find an old wringer washing machine more charming than a modern washer dryer. We found Willemstad a better location to shop than Oranjestad Aruba. Aruba is more beaches, if you didn't get enough at HMC. We did the trolley tour of Willemstad. We would rate it so so. We were told by the ship's Captain, Holland America leads the industry in the number of repeat customers. We were very pleased with this cruise, and I hope you enjoy your cruise too. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
This was our third NCL cruise...first on the wonderful old Norway, then the (leaves a lot to be desired) Norwegian Sky. We are frequent cruisers (I think this was our 17th, on 6 different cruise lines) so I think I have a pretty good ... Read More
This was our third NCL cruise...first on the wonderful old Norway, then the (leaves a lot to be desired) Norwegian Sky. We are frequent cruisers (I think this was our 17th, on 6 different cruise lines) so I think I have a pretty good perspective of cruising in general. The best thing about this ship, by far, were the on board comedians! I usually avoid corny ship shows, but these guys were awesome! SharkBait and David Naster had several shows during the cruise, and by the last night of the ship, their combined show had the Stardust theater filled to capacity 20 minutes BEFORE the show started. It's the first time I've ever been on a ship where passengers literally sat in the aisles to watch a show!! That's how good they were. On the flip side of that, it's too bad some people didn't get a chance to see them because they couldn't get in. (They should have had two shows instead of just one.) My kids (15, 14 and 11) had a blast. I barely saw my teenagers (spring break) and my 11 year old (who hangs with us and/or kid camp) was picked to be on stage with both Second City and David Naster in two different shows. That made his cruise! (That and the rock wall.) As for the rest of the cruise.....overall, for a first time cruiser, this would be a great cruise. Indeed, we had fun. We always cruise with another family and have a great time no matter what. BUT...the whole "freestyle" concept leaves a lot to be desired. Freestyle means you pay extra for lots of stuff, including meals. If you want to eat in the "included" casual restaurant, Indigo, you better make a reservation and get there when it opens or you are going to be holding a restaurant pager out in the hall until it beeps! (Yes, that's right! I've never seen one of those on a ship!) And for a family of five to eat at the "specialty" restaurants more than a couple of times a week, it gets expensive. $75 to $125 per dinner! AND in the French restaurant, I wanted lobster. So, it was an ADDITIONAL $10 on top of my cover charge! (Plus the line on the receipt for the "extra" tip.) As far as I'm concerned, Norwegian is trying to take "all inclusive" out of cruising. Now we don't mind spending money on vacations. Quite the opposite! Our family cruised 3 times last year. But I would much rather save my vacation money for an extra cruise, than extra meals ON a cruise, which is something we've already paid for. The service in the free dining rooms was about what you'd expect from Freestyle dining...the servers know they are not getting a tip from you directly, so they just don't care. There's no reason for them to impress you. (Kind of like the service you'd get from open seating for lunch on another cruise line, only not quite as good.) I rarely saw any servers smile. We had to ASK for drinks at beginning of each meal (they weren't offered) and we had to ASK for coffee at dessert! And when we did, you could tell they were a little annoyed by it. Since there isn't a designated time for a "seating," the servers are trying to rush you so they can "turn tables" like in any other restaurant. There are people outside in the hallway waiting for your table! So of course they aren't going to offer you coffee. So you'd think the extra $$ you pay for the specialty restaurants would give you better service, right? Wrong. While the waitress in Mambos was very nice and apologized, but the service was the slowest we had on the ship. In La Bistro, the waitress told us when we arrived that she was not our waitress, but she'd wait on us until the waiter got there. And she made it very clear she was NOT happy about it!! (The waiter who did show up later was nice.) You are also going to pay extra for a Yoga class ($12...why?) AND the kids camp during the day on port days! (That's right....$5/hour if you child wants to go to the kids camp during the day! I've never seen that on any other line/ship.) By the end of the cruise, we were calling it "nickel and dime" cruise lines. Everytime you turn around they are trying to make you pay extra for and/or sell you something. As far at the ship itself, it was VERY clean! My teenage son has allergies and frequently has problems on cruises, but not on this ship. The ship itself is very colorful and lounge areas very pretty. The bowling was fun and different on a ship. I was surprised that there wasn't too long a line for it. (BTW - Did I mention it's an extra $5 per person per game?) The layout is a tad bit claustrophobic. If you are used to soaring atriums and promenades (like on RCCL and Carnival) you won't find them on the Pearl. The atrium/lobby is only two floors, and no glass elevators. The buffet is very small, only one floor, and good luck finding a seat! The shopping area is tiny, and again, only one level. On the plus side, the food in the buffet is very good, and the selection (especially for breakfast) is wonderful. But this is the first cruise we didn't have a single breakfast in a dining room, which we like to do, because the dining room is only open a VERY short time (1 1/2 hour?)for breakfast so it's had to hit their "window." I guess that explains the huge crowds in the buffet. Embarkation and debarkation were the most chaotic I've ever seen. Wow, are they unorganized! So basically, you are free to "whatever, whenever" like their slogan says, as long as you have a reservation, wait in line, and/or pay extra. What is "freestyle" about that?!? I like knowing that we are "first seating", we have our set table with our friends, there will be NO waiting for our table, and our regular servers will be HAPPY to see us with our drinks will be waiting for us. Sorry, NCL....We're going back to RCCL and Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Some background: We have been cruising since 2003 having sailed on 7 previous cruises, all on Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Princess. We try to sail the newer ships. On this cruise it was just my husband and self and our youngest, our 16 ... Read More
Some background: We have been cruising since 2003 having sailed on 7 previous cruises, all on Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Princess. We try to sail the newer ships. On this cruise it was just my husband and self and our youngest, our 16 year old son. Precruise: We flew down the evening before the cruise and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Convention Center. The airport shuttle was prompt and the driver polite but we were a bit disappointed in the hotel. It was quite old, rooms small and the elevator did not work on the day of check-out (we were on the 4th floor). On the positive side, the hotel was well-located, a walk from several restaurants and shopping. We did not use the hotel's shuttle to the port as it was cheaper to take a cab for the 3 of us. Embarkation: We were in the cab by 11:15 am and onboard the ship by 12:20! It was an easy smooth embarkation. We carried on 3 bottles of wine and a 24 pack of soda without a problem. Rooms were not ready until 1:30 pm so we spent our time eating at the Lido and laying by the aft pool with the great view of the other ships in port. Cabins: Very nice as this ship is less than 1 year old. Loved the flat screen TV. We found the room to be a bit smaller than other cruiselines but there was adequate storage. Look under the end of the bed - there are 2 huge drawers! We loved our balcony as we saved $$ by booking the lowest category balcony. The bedding was the best we have ever had on a cruise ship. The bathroom was also nice with a bathtub and nice toiletries. Room steward did a fine job which is amazing since we had As You Wish Dining which meant he never quite knew when we would be gone in the evening so he could do our turndown service. As You Wish Dining & food: Absolutely LOVED the As You Wish Dining which is a surprise because this was the area I worried about most before the cruise. We will never go back to an assigned time. It was wonderful not to have to hurry and get ready for dinner or on the flip side have to wait around starving for our later assigned dining time. We never waited once for our own table of 3 and we ate at all sorts of different hours - as early as 6:15 pm and as late as 8:40 pm. All our dinners were in the main dining room where we found the service and food excellent. All our other meals were eaten in the Lido where the food was also terrific. Great choices in the Lido, always fresh fruit and salads. Even though the Lido got busy at times, we always found a table. Entertainment: We probably didn't give the shows enough of a chance. We prefer comedians and the comedy show was not until the 2nd to last night. She was very funny and since she was also appearing in the farewell show so we also watched that show and it was there we saw the weeks' earlier acts, an acrobatic act and a country duo and they were pretty good so we regretted we did not attend more shows earlier in the week. We did catch one of the movies in the Mainstage Theater during the week. Other Areas of the Ship: Casino was nice but on the small side. It was nice to see blackjack tables with minimums as low as $3. Loved the Explorations Cafe on deck 11. It has a nice size library of books and DVDs available for rental. I read 2 of the books as I laid by the pool throughout the week and as a family of movie buffs, we rented several of the DVDs throughout the week. We never had a problem finding a deck chair during the day. We spent most of our sun time around the aft pool. Ports: As the economy has tightened this is the area we have cut back on. We did not do any shore excursions. We got off the ship in each port and walked around and window shopped. We did spend most of the day in Half Moon Cay on the beach. This is a beautiful private island. Disembarkation: Easy and smooth. We were able to get a full breakfast in the Lido and go back to our room for a bit and were off the ship and through customs by 9 am. Needs Improvement: I wish there were smoking areas marked on the sun decks as a nonsmoker it becomes unpleasant when the cruiser laying next to you suddenly lights up. This could be helped by perhaps designating port side smokers, starboard nonsmokers. The only other place where smoke became a problem was in the casino bar during the NCAA men's basketball finals - it got really bad in there. Summary: We thought HAL was just for older cruisers. There was a nice mix of families and younger people on this cruise. The Eurodam is a handsome ship. 5 stars! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
My 3rd cruise. (previously with Costa cruises and RCL). our group, 2 adults, our two 18 year old sons and our 13 year old son. Embarkation. Very easy. We arrived in New Orleans the day before and stayed at the Hampton Inn across the ... Read More
My 3rd cruise. (previously with Costa cruises and RCL). our group, 2 adults, our two 18 year old sons and our 13 year old son. Embarkation. Very easy. We arrived in New Orleans the day before and stayed at the Hampton Inn across the docks. (hotels offers free shuttle to cruise ship). We decided to board the ship around 2:00 p.m. hoping the lines were gone...and they were. We carried most of our bags ourselves but the other bags arrived by our cabins within 3 hrs. The cabins are fine. No fridge but we didn't miss it. I asked for ice in the room and the stewards made sure it was available every day. The ship. Overall clean and nice. Although the elevators had a strange smell. Not very important but I noticed it every day. Overall a nice smaller ship. We liked the pool layout. Food. We didn't go to any specialty restaurants. (my 13 year old had sushi once and said it was ok but not great) The breakfast buffet was fine and offered plenty of choices. Me and my husband liked "Windows" the best but our kids preferred 'the Garden" because they didn't need to dress up.(all restaurants, except the buffet, require long pants but at The Garden people still dressed in shorts) Food was pretty good at both. The service at "Windows" is better and more personal. The first evening it seemed that everybody on the ship went out for dinner at 7:00 p.m. so we had to wait 30 minutes for a table. The rest of the week we went at 8:00 and were seated right away. I missed the "getting to know" your waiter and the more "formal" dinners from our previous cruises.That is the major difference between "free style' and regular cruises. We as it turned out, prefer the "regular" concept. During the day we ate at the buffet and grill by the pool which was fine. Our kids all enjoyed the "Blue Lagoon" grill which served smaller meals all day long. Wine. I like to drink wine but the wine at NCL is not cheap! They only had 3 or 4 bottles under $30. Finally the 3rd day one waiter advised me they had a housewine for $22. I ordered it and it was better then the $30 wine I ordered the first 2 days. You can order by the bottle and take the bottle to your room and later to dinner. Entertainment. "so so" all days. Absolutely of less quality then the shows we saw on other cruises. We saw the comedian and he was "ok". We didn't like "Second City" at all. The magic show was again "ok". All performers really work hard and so does the crew but it was all just of less quality. But.....we still had a very nice time. The nightclub was not very busy and so we only went there once to check it out. Our 18 year old sons did enjoy the "deck party" and the "dress all in white" party. There were plenty of kids their age on the ship so they had a great time together. Plenty of music by the pool all day long on the 'sea days" ports of call. Costa maya. We took a cab to the local beach where there are plenty of local restaurants and they offer free beach chairs but expect you to order food and drinks (which is pretty cheap and the beach was nice) Guatemala. We booked the combo "waterfalls and green bay resort" with Turix ($45). Well the waterfalls were beautiful but when we arrived at The green bay resort they wanted us to pay again $5 pp. We refused because at "Turix" they said all was included except food and drinks. We decided to return to the dock also because The Green bay resort was not worth staying at all. We argued for awhile but did get our $$$ back for part of the combo. Belize. We booked the zipline/cave tubing with "Action boys" and not with NCL. It was cheaper and we read good reviews on "Trip adviser" Well it was ok and fun but not great. The guide we had was on his first workday for "action boys". he was nice but eventhough he said he had worked for other companies, it stunned me he never had done the zipline. He did do it during our trip for the first time. We also felt that we got ripped off on the Cave tubing part. We had plenty of time left but got a very short (30 minutes) tubing trip while we saw others going on after we had to return. So....be aware with what you book and ask for details. Cozumel. We rented a car and drove around the island (2 hr trip) and stayed for about 2 1/2 hrs at "Mr. Sanchos beach" which was fine. Disembarkation. The worst ever. NOT NCL's mistake but the New Orleans customs was very slow and not very well organized. So if you have an early flight to catch...make sure you get of the ship asap because it took us about 1 1/2 hr. Overall we had a great time and if you don't expect the best of the best this cruise will be ok for you. I think we'll go with the "regular cruise concept" again next time. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We had 19 people aboard the MSC Orchestra on april 4th. We have all sailed many times before.We have never seen anything like this before, nor will any of us ever sail on MSC again. I guess the best way to sum this up is they made us feel ... Read More
We had 19 people aboard the MSC Orchestra on april 4th. We have all sailed many times before.We have never seen anything like this before, nor will any of us ever sail on MSC again. I guess the best way to sum this up is they made us feel like we were an inconvenience to be on their ship.The answer to every question was no and its not possible.I am well aware that the crew is european, but they must have training classes to be this rude. First of all if you are going to the Caribbean to get some sun and enjoy the pools and hot tubs on board, This IS NOT THE SHIP. They close the entire pool decks, hot tubs, everything at 6 Pm. period. No exceptions. Their excuse was they have to clean them but they didn't do that until 4am. they also have a big screen TV on the pool deck and the ONLY thing that they play on it was commercials for shore excursions. NO cartoons, music videos, shows, movies, sportsetc... At night around 10 pm they would put on a movie.. but thats it. We asked to get the NCAA Championship and the Masters Golf put on it and was told we could watch it in our room. At first they told us that they could not even get the feed for either,while 15 feet away from the pursers desk was a tv with the shows on.Once again a total disregard for passenger enjoyment. The pursers desk was full of assistants who enjoyed telling passengers NO. My niece left her hat up at the day care. I asked the lady at the desk if anyone had turned it in. She checked and said no(their favorite word) then I asked if she could call up to the daycare and see if was still there, Her reply was I don't have that number.I told her that i didn't have it and could she look it up. her reply was again NO. My mattress in our balcony cabin was so bad that wherever you sat on it you sat on springs and rolled into the low spot. I asked for 5 days straight if they could do something about it and again was told NO its not possible!! On the 2 days that we were at sea with 2600 passengers on deck, they had 2 of the deck bars closed and you had to chase down a bar server if you wanted a drink.And once again they closed the pool decks at 6 pm. If you got up out of your deck chair they would put your stuff on the ground and take your chair. not another passenger but the crew. If you left a drink sitting with your stuff or on your dinner table with drink still in it and turned your back your drink would be gone. this happened more times than i can tell you. I had to put my glasses case over the top of my glass to keep them from taking it.when you brought this to someones attention they just did not care.I watched the wait staff run over a toddler with a service cart and never even stop to say they were sorry. And while you are walking through the dining hall or on deck be prepared to get out of the crews way because they will not hesitate to run you over witha tray full of glasses.One actually stopped and pointed that he wanted me to move out of his way when there was an entire deck for him to avoid our group.needlesss to say i finally was fed up with their rude behavior and gave that particular waiter a piece of my mind. That prompted the maitre 'd to ask what was wrong and when I told him his reply was that they are very busy and we should not interfere with they. I politely informed him that the next time one of his wait staff expected me to move out of his way and was as rude as this guy was that he would have trouble removing a tray from a rather unpleasant place. After 3 days i had had enough.I finally told the guest services manager that enough was enough and I was sorry that we have inconvenienced them by being on their ship. The ship and their web site prompts that this is a ship for families and kids. Well there is nothing for the kids to do on this ship. many of the kids were calling the MSC line the MOST SUCKIEST CRUISE but were using a little more crass word. The teen disco is in the adult disco only from 11 pm til 12 pm. after that there was nothing for them to do. which resulted in many teens unsupervised in many different areas of the ship. and from what i saw if they weren't having sex they should of been because their actions were just as blatant.this was in stairways, lounges,on deck and bathrooms. In the arcade only a few games worked. The smaller childrens area was only opened during brief intervals during the day and while they advertise for after hours babysitting it was non exsistant.The whole trip the kiddie pool was empty of water. The play set area was out in direct sunlight so the tubes and slides were to hot for the kids to play on. And once again with the pool deck closed after 6 pm there was nothing for the kids to do. While the ship itself is a nice ship I would only give this crew very little time before the turn it into a nasty place to be. They would walk by dirty dishes,etc.. if someone left their room service plates out in the hall they would sit there for days. We left a empty bottle on our bathroom sink and it stayed there for 3 days.never seen this before on any cruise line. We were up on the pool deck our day at grand cayman, when a older lady feel at the ping pong table and broke her wrist. she had an open compound fracture of her wrist and was bleeding profusely. As an EMT I assisted in securing her wrist and aiding her to the elevators to get her to the infirmary. We dialed the emergency number and the Doctor told us to bring her to them. I informed the doctor of the situation and finally was told that they were on their way. As the older lady went into shock, the doctor came in to the infirmary and again told us to "bring her to me". I asked her to get a wheelchair and she looks at me and asked" Are you a doctor?" finally after raising my voice they brought a wheel chair and rolled her back to take care of her. Then they told the ladys husband and me to get out of the room. I am still covered with blood from this lady and asked if they didn't mind if i washed up first. I also informed them that they were not going to throw the husband out of the room and to get someone there who spoke english. Their entire method of care was just unbelievable. When I returned to the pool deck no one had bothered to clean up the blood from around the ping pong table. there were kids running around it barefoot. I finally convinced a deck attendant to clean it up. What a nightmare. OKAY, I don't think that I have to tell you that i will never sail on this line ever again, even if they offered me a free cruise for my entire family I would turn them down. While I also under stand that cruising is what you make of it and believe me when i tell you that i always make it a good time, this cruise line made it very difficult for anyone to have a good time. The line to remove the gratuities was around 300 people long when i went to settle my account. So when you read these reviews please take them to heart. When I read about the rudeness and lack of caring I kinda ignored them and wrote them off as some people don't know how to have fun... boy was i wrong. If MSC is going to cruise in the Caribbean they will have to learn that they are here for their paying customers and not the other way around. As always I offer to discuss anything here with anyone at any time. Do yourself and your family a favor book with a different line. you'll thank me later. Ports Key west: again arrived early and sailed too early. While I realize that the ports do not want the cruise ships in there late at night there just wasn't enough time to do all that could be done there. Cozumel: always love cozumel great time there at playa mia beach resort. only complaint was the ship started off having two gangways opened and when they realized that too many were using the forward gangway where they were not taking pictures they closed it and funneled everyone into one gangway.this caused a huge back up getting off the ship. Grand Cayman: when we first arrived at this port the ship informed use that the port wanted us out of there by 3 pm cutting short a day that was already going to be a short one. Also there were 4 ships in anchor and when you try to tender in 10000 plus people it causes problems. If you have ever been to cayman you know what i mean they have one tender pier and thats it. Cayo Levantado. Great little island with a fantastic beach... just as cayman 2 ships in anchor and one tiny little beach.. oh well Dining: Food was just okay. not great and not terrible either. service was at best slow and time consuming. About the best thing I can say about this cruise was that they were great at getting you off the ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
This was our 7th cruise, 6 on RCCL and one on Celebrity. We found Celebrity no improvement on RCCL, by the way. My wife and I were again delighted with RCCL and had zero problems or unhappiness on the Voyager of Seas. We found the main ... Read More
This was our 7th cruise, 6 on RCCL and one on Celebrity. We found Celebrity no improvement on RCCL, by the way. My wife and I were again delighted with RCCL and had zero problems or unhappiness on the Voyager of Seas. We found the main dining room food to be excellent with adequate entree choices. We could tell the menu was somewhat scaled back from previous RCCL cruises, but not to a fault. Our waiter, Hassine from Tunis and Iris, the assistant waiter were absolutely 1st class! Other reviewers gripped about the Windjammer food, but we could not find fault. Speaking of other reviews, we feel the positive reviews on Johnny Rockets were overstated. We expected freshly cut and breaded onion rings only to find run of the mill frozen rings and same with the boring french fries. The hamburgers were tasty, but not tasty enough to return there. The milk shake I had was wonderful. Oh, I just remembered one negative: the coffee! Mygawd was it awful! Far, far too strong, for a guy who loves strong coffee. Bitter tasting and mostly nasty. Complaints were answered with a fresh serving, but the next night....same nasty stuff. The head waiter's name escapes me, but he always stopped by to check on our service and food quality. Plus he would practice his dry sense of humor and jokes nightly to liven things up for us. Our cabin steward, Elmer from Costa Rica was another gem. Unobtrusive with the ability to straighten up the cabin in our absence. Always cheerful. We found 99% of the RCCL crew to be friendly, smiling, cheerful and helpful. Only one sourpuss: One of the kid program ladies snarled abit in public. Apparently she had her gut full of yelling, screaming kids. Only downside was the wait of elevator service. Perhaps the Achilles' heel of a ship for over 3000 guests. Be prepared to wait longer than you would like. Thanks for another excellent cruise, RCCL Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We drove from our home which is about 2 hours away into New Orleans on the morning of embarkation. The traffic was manageable but navigating the streets of New Orleans is by no means a pleasure. Glad we brought the gps. We arrived, the ... Read More
We drove from our home which is about 2 hours away into New Orleans on the morning of embarkation. The traffic was manageable but navigating the streets of New Orleans is by no means a pleasure. Glad we brought the gps. We arrived, the porter took our bags and we parked in the parking garage. 56.00 for four days but worth it for convenience and our peace of mind. Grabbed the kids and made our way in and through security. I must say this was the fastest embarkation we've had out of our 5 cruises. We arrived at 12:00pm and were on board eating lunch by 12:30. The Fantasy is beautiful ship and the remodel has certainly made her shine. The water works was great and the kids really enjoyed it. We had time to play miniature golf and then go to the muster drill. The muster drill lasted all of about 15 mins. and we were out of there! Yeah! Fastest muster drill ever!! I was so glad since the kids would definitely have been crazy, or me first, if we'd had to wait the traditional 45 mins. to one hour. We actually got to see the sail away for a minute or so anyway and then we were off to register for camp carnival. We requested and received the early dinner seating as the kids were with us. I actually hate the early seating as it's always so rushed in the afternoons to go get dressed and you lose alot of daylight time because you're either at dinner or getting ready to go to dinner. Yes, I know we could eat buffet but we really enjoy the dining room so we suck it up and go ahead and go. The wait staff was superb as usual. They really go out of their way to make the kids happy. You know when the kids change their mind 2 or 3 times and then can't ever get enough to drink. The food usually is always so good and I really look forward to eating in the dining room but I can honestly say that some of the dishes we ordered weren't really all that good. Sort of hit and miss. The lobster was great, of course, but I ordered crab cakes and veal parmesian one night and it was awful! The veal was soo tough I couldn't even cut it with my knife and the crab smelled like a week old dead fish! yuck! My kids are chicken nugget fanatics but did not like the chicken nuggets on board. They looked like a cheap imitation nugget so they stuck with the pizza which they loved so we were all happy. Since this was our first cruise with the kids I made sure we went to the orientation meeting, although we didn't meet anybody as there had to be 500 kids in the room signing up and it was chaos!! We went to the family party and had a great time though. We actually won the ship on the stick for best family dancing. My kids were soo thrilled. They played games and had dancing and it was lots of fun. My kids wanted to swim and use the water works so our first sea day was mostly spent swimming. They did go to camp carnival after dinner that night and had a great time. Overall, camp carnival is great and my two boys, ages 7 and 9, had a wonderful time! Their favorites were the late night parties. My 7 year old had the mini late night party from 10pm - 1am and my 9 year old did the 10pm - 3:30am. My 9 year old won another ship on the stick for eating the most icecream...surprise! My 14 year old daughter went to Circle C quite a bit but for some reason they weren't really good about actually having the scheduled events that were in the capers. The scavenger hunt was cancelled and they would have a trivia game listed and then instead would be playing dodgeball. She did make friends though and hung out so she was content. Her favorite was the late night dance parties every night. We docked in Cozumel on Saturday morning and were off the ship by 8:30am to go shopping. I prefer docking at the punta lagosta pier as the shopping is far more extensive but we docked at the puerta maya pier and just hung around there doing some shopping...it's nice just not as many shops as downtown. We took a cab to Chankanaab park to swim with the dolphins. The ride was short and the park is beautiful. I booked the swim adventure for my husband, son and daughter and the dolphin encounter for me and my youngest son on line. It was much cheaper to book ourselves instead of through the cruise line and with 5 of us price made a huge difference for us. We got there and went to the desk to check in. I showed the lady my reservations and she said we didn't need to check in as we were already on the list. Everyone else who just showed up and paid got their name put on a list and was issued a wrist band with their excursion name written on it. So, I asked did we need a wrist band and again she said no just show up at 12:30 and you'll be all set. So, we show up at 12:30 and I ask her one more time and got the same answer. We had rented a locker but it was way down the beach, at least a 10min. walk one way, and our paperwork was in the locker. She said you're all set. So, 1:00pm rolls around and they start calling names. Are we on the list? no Do we have a wrist band? no.. you'll have to go back to the desk and check in. So, the trainer takes all the groups away and here we're left going back to the desk. At the desk, I'm very upset at this point and trying to be calm, the same lady asks me if I had ever checked in. Ok, I lost it, we've just spent 500.00 on this stupid excursion we only have a limited amount of time and she acts like she's never seen me before. So, I lose it and start going off.. my poor husband is mortified and expects me to end up in a mexican prison at any moment. She finally finds my name on her master list but wants me to hike back down to the locker so she can see my paperwork. One more heated discussion and she's shoving us out to the pier. Of course, we miss all of the instruction part and have to catch up with the group. On the bright side, the dolphins were wonderful and the excursion itself was the best. The pictures and the dvd are pretty expensive though. For the 5 of us on the two excursions it was going to be 220.00 for 6 pictures and 2 dvds. Needless to say, I got one dvd and 3 pictures for 100.00. Afterwards we went down to the little cafe and got a hamburger and coke and ended up paying 45.00. The menu prices in usd said about 30.00 but the waiter didn't understand enough english to comprehend our argument.. surprise, surprise! Overall, we had a good time and would do it again but have definitely learned our lesson. Disembarking was very, very slow. It was a total surprise after the embarkation process being so fast. I certainly recommend if you have a flight to catch you better do self assist or you will probably not make it on time. We didn't get off the ship until 11:30am. Overall it was a good trip. I would like to see Carnival maybe implement a few more family friendly options such as Royal Caribbean has started doing. It would've been nice for someone to come and take the kids to camp carnival straight from dinner instead of one of us having to get up and leave and come back but the biggest disadvantage for us was they want you out of your room by 9am so they can clean it up for the next guest but where do you wait with three kids who are board out of their minds? If they had a big room where there were cartoons and such on where you could wait would be great! This was a spring break cruise and boy could you tell there were bunches of kids on board. I never saw any of them destroying property or being mean and spiteful but they were loud and you did know they were on board. Carnival security did an excellent job at the pool of making sure the adult areas stayed that way. Security must have told a 100 kids a day they could not be in the adult hot tubs and weren't allowed on the serenity deck. Even when parents think it's ok that since they're with their kids its ok to put them in the hot tub. We loved our cruise and look forward to another one on board the Fantasy. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We have been on 7 cruises, 4 with RCCL. We have also traveled with Carnival and Disney. We traveled with my wife and 2 kids, girl 13, boy 11. Embark/Debarkation: Excellent. We where there at 11am, had to wait for the ship to clear but ... Read More
We have been on 7 cruises, 4 with RCCL. We have also traveled with Carnival and Disney. We traveled with my wife and 2 kids, girl 13, boy 11. Embark/Debarkation: Excellent. We where there at 11am, had to wait for the ship to clear but RCCL was great. Once we cleared, got on immediately. Leaving the ship was the quickest of any ship. Got there at 6 am off by 6:20am. Very nice. Ship: The ship is very beautiful. Everything was clean and well taken care of. Flow rider is great, and this ship has a lot of things to do. The big PROBLEM, over crowding. This ship would be prefect with 700-1000 less people, then again all ships would be better with less people. However, compared to other ships, this one felt very crowded. The windjammer seemed the same size as the Mariner, but with more people. You had to wait 20-45 mins for the flow rider and rock wall. It felt like Busch Gardens in July, with the $6.00 beers. Food: The worst on any ship. The food is almost uneatable. The windjammer, has always been kinda of questionable, but, the dinning room was not good either. The EXCEPTIONS, pizza is pretty good. We have never eaten at Portofino's or Chops, however, we had to after our second dinner service. We are glad we did. This was excellent in everyway. Hasan in Portofino's, attended to our every need. Very very good. It is worth the extra money. Staff: Very good, they were very helpful. Our room steward, Heather, was the best we have had. Our dining room staff was very nice, but, very slow. It should not take 2 hours for the 3 coarse meal. Only MAJOR problem, is the bar staff. They want you to buy drinks, the always ask you for drinks. Not just once, but, all the time. They harass you. Its not good. Laying at the pool, all pools, or at Labadee, trying to relax, here they come yelling for drinks, all day. Ports: Labadee- Nice island., plenty of places to hang out. DO NOT GO on the safari snorkel there are no fish on the reef. The reef is dead. I asked our guide why? He said they have over fished the reef and they keep every fish no matter of the size. Its sad. Montego Bay, Jamaica- The Ghetto the caribbean, enough said. Grand Cayman- We had to anchor on the other side of the island. If this happens to you. It takes 45-1hour to get to Georgetown. There is one pier and we had 3 cruise ships tendering into a very small area. Not good. We went to swim with the dolphins early and it was very nice. Kids love it. Cozumel- The best place on the trip. The water is wonderful. Lots of fish, good food, and great beaches. Overall- This cruise is for people with kids. If you want a nice quite luxury cruise, this is not it. However, if you have kids and want a lot to do and do not mind lots and lots of people, this is it. They nickel and dime you, no free ice cream after 6pm, no orange juice after 10 am, Red Stripe beer $5.50., but other than that, not bad. Would I go back, with my kids yes, with my wife and I, no way. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009

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