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5,498 Family Cruise Reviews

We went on the Carnival Paradise 3 night cruise on Friday January 22nd, 2010. In our cabin was my husband, me and 2 kids ages 5 and 3. We got an email and automated phone call on Monday the 18th from Carnival saying to not come to the ... Read More
We went on the Carnival Paradise 3 night cruise on Friday January 22nd, 2010. In our cabin was my husband, me and 2 kids ages 5 and 3. We got an email and automated phone call on Monday the 18th from Carnival saying to not come to the pier in Long Beach until 4PM for sailing at 7PM due to weather delays. Then we got a phone call from Carnival on Friday at 9AM saying to not come to the pier before 7PM for a 9PM sailing. At no time did Carnival ever tell us in a phone call, email or onboard our cruise that the cruise before ours the week of the 18th had gone all the way down to Cabo San Lucas due to the epic storms in the Western US and Pacific. For all anyone knew the ship may have had propulsion problems. As it turns out the ship had a tough time of it especially going north back to Long Beach and that explains a lot. They did have good weather in Cabo San Lucas on Wednesday thank goodness. We got to the pier at 5PM because we are Platinum types with 35+ cruises on Carnival. We gave our bags to a porter pier side with a $5 tip and then got on a charter bus to the Long Beach Arena. We got off the bus and walked 50 feet through light rain into the "back" area of the arena. There were bathrooms right there. Then we went to check in for the cruise. The poor employees had to do our credit cards and fill out all paperwork by hand. No computers. They did not have any credit card imprinting machines. This was even though most people had checked in online a few days before the cruise. We were given a VIP bus pass. Most other passengers were given bus numbers according to their arrival at the arena. Regular passengers who did not come to the pier until 7PM as directed did not get onto the ship until very late. I personally saw people boarding the ship at 11:55 PM. After getting checked in we went onto the arena floor. My husband told me he had been to some hockey games and college basketball games there in the past. Small (built in the 1970's) but arena employees were friendly and helpful. Tables were set up and we were given sodas, coffee and sandwiches made by Savoy food services. They had a DVD movie on a screen. I think it was Adam Sandlers' Bedtime Stories. Then just before 7PM the VIP types were called to the first bus. That was us, wheelchair people and a wedding party. We rode the bus back to the pier and got into a line to go through the metal detectors and get our sail sign cards. Then a couple photos and onto the ship. We were the first people up on lido deck and were greeted warmly by all employees. We got the kids registered in camp fine and had a chat. Camp was not open at 7PM as usual. It opened instead at 10PM for regular baby sitting. Dinner was open seating. We did not make it into the dining room the first night. Our cabins were not ready until 8:30PM. At 8:31PM I found a fire door on Main deck and opened it. No stewards in sight. All rooms ready. We were in M79. Regular inside. Room was fine and we would have it again. We did not have muster drill until 10:30AM Saturday. We got released from that at 11:19AM. People were starting to get angry. So we could do the muster drill, etc. they moved Ensenada to Sunday. The captain put us behind San Clememte Island or such and we had good weather and lido deck fun on Saturday. Captain's reception and casino in full swing. We were in Ensenada until 6PM sharp on Sunday. Then we sailed for Long Beach. The captain was doing 17.9 kts for some reason and some people were sick. For all this delay boarding, etc. we were given $15 per person onboard credit. The automatic tips were still at $30 per person. Some people were upset about that and cancelled them if they had not signed up before sailing. Our car was in the parking structure for less than 64 hours for $45. It is true that we had severe weather the week of the 18th. I have lived here all my life and have never seen it so bad. Still I think that compensation should have been $40 per person and 2 hours of regular umbrella drinks on lido deck. It does not take much to make people happy. The $15 was frankly a slap in the face. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
This was our 15th cruise and 5th on Princess. We booked a suite for the second time - enjoy the extra space when our son joins us. Usually we get a minisuite. Our room steward was superb. However, we encountered rude behavior in other ... Read More
This was our 15th cruise and 5th on Princess. We booked a suite for the second time - enjoy the extra space when our son joins us. Usually we get a minisuite. Our room steward was superb. However, we encountered rude behavior in other areas of the ship. Talking to others on the ship, we were not the only ones who felt this way. We were snapped at by three different crew members. Because we were in a suite, we were suppose to be contacted by someone to schedule our dinner times. Never happened. I would be on the phone each morning trying to get dinner reservations for anytime dining. Often, I would be disconnected. (That was better than never receiving our wake-up call). After being told to talk to the maitre d', I tried that approach. He told me he didn't have time to talk to me. Next night, my husband had the same experience. Also, saw this same rudeness in the theatre when I asked for help finding seats, I was told to say "please". Strange!! Selection of food very poor and quality below what we had on other Princess cruises. Tried Horizon court and difficult to get through lines and food selection just average. My overall reaction to this cruise was "who is in charge" Definitely a top down problem. Rudeness seems to be tolerated and expectations are low. Would never want to take a cruise with this personnel!!! Princess is cutting back in areas that are obvious and has diminished the quality of their cruising experience. They can not live on their name and what they use to offer. Stay away from this ship unless they do a complete overhaul. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
I have always wanted to go on a cruise so when my best friend from high school called me and asked if I wanted to go with his family I said heck yeah! I missed out on the previous years cruise they took, so I made sure I was on this one! ... Read More
I have always wanted to go on a cruise so when my best friend from high school called me and asked if I wanted to go with his family I said heck yeah! I missed out on the previous years cruise they took, so I made sure I was on this one! He is in the military and had flown in from California to East Tennessee with his wife and 9 month old son. We headed out from East Tennessee to Mobile Al. with the whole family talking about how awesome the cruise experience was. I was excited about my first cruise and getting to spend some time with my friend and his family who I had not seen in a while. The ship was scheduled to leave out at 4:00pm so we wanted to make sure to get there a little early. We arrived in Mobile at 11:00am with plenty of time to spare. As we approached the parking garage there was a lady giving out a piece of paper telling us " We apologise about the delay but the ship would be in shortly". The paper informed us to drive to the Mobile Civic Center (about 4 blocks away) to check in. Once we arrived to the Civic Center there were about 2,000 people running around as expected with VERY LITTLE ORGANIZATION. It was 40 degrees and raining, not the best conditions. We completed the check in process and Carnival's staff informed us there was a 2 hour delay. I thought well this stinks but they can't control the weather! To put it short the 2 hour delay became a 10 HOUR DELAY! We finally made it on the ship around 2AM! Everyone was exhausted and ready for bed. I got up the next morning ready for a much needed fresh start. I opened my suit case to lay out some clothes and noticed some items from inside my suit case fell out on the bed. Confused by this I closed the top part and noticed a 8 inch hole in the side of my suit case! I began to look at the clothing inside and noticed a brown colored stain on several items. As I wondered how this happened I remembered seeing the luggage being loaded with forklifts and had determined that was where the damage had came from. SOMEONE HAD RAN A FORK FROM A FORKLIFT THROUGH MY LUGGAGE!!!!!!!! I called Guest Services and they told me to bring the luggage down to their office so they could look at it. I spoke to a rep at Guest Services who had a bit of an attitude problem. She told me there was nothing she could do other than write a letter stating I would have to get an expert in luggage repair for consideration for a refund and I would have to call Carnivals main office and take the issue up with them. Once I got back home I called Carnival and they told me to fax an estimate of the amount of the repair and if the luggage could not be repaired they would reimburse me the amount of the damaged items. I faxed the quote form a local company that said the luggage could not be repaired and should be replaced. I have yet to even hear back from Carnival about the issue. So far I am out about $250.00 in the cost of my luggage and clothes that were damaged from this "vacation". I would have to say I would not recommend Carnival! As several previous reviews have stated Carnival DOES NOT ACCEPT ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR DAMAGES OR ACTIONS! We missed out on the stop in Progresso due to the delay and were refunded $20.00. The reason Carnival gave us for the delay was weather. Later we found out the port was closed due to a nuclear powered military ship. (My friend called and confirmed this with a guy he knew who had recently got stationed in Mobile. Carnival knew the port was going to be closed 2 weeks prior to our sail date and tried to lie and cover it up saying it was due to weather issues and fog. I know this was not the case because there was no fog in the area, it was not raining hard and the winds were about 5 mph. I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND CARNIVAL AND I WILL NEVER GO ON ANOTHER CARNIVAL CRUISE! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Norweign Sky: Ship: If anyone enjoys the very large ships then they should think carefully before booking on the Sky. This is the oldest ship on NCL line and I believe is the smallest. We got onboard and saw the entire ship in about 1 ... Read More
Norweign Sky: Ship: If anyone enjoys the very large ships then they should think carefully before booking on the Sky. This is the oldest ship on NCL line and I believe is the smallest. We got onboard and saw the entire ship in about 1 hr. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Easy and fast on both occassions. We were sailing with the group 'Groove Cruise' and even with their members lack of preparation during disembarking, we were off the ship by 10:00am. Cabin: We booked an Oceanview and it served it purpose. The room was clean but showing the age of the ship. Plenty of room to store your items for a three and/or four day cruise. The bathroom has plenty of shelves to store the necessity items. The shower is round and for the ladies you might have an issue shaving. I just used the toilet and solved the issue. Passengers: It seems this itinerary, Nassua and Great Stirrup, passenger demographics change on a weekly basis. We had a large younger crowd of about 750 that were on board from the Groove Cruise. This group came on to party and it felt like Spring Break. There were about 50 children on the ship and they didn't get to enjoy the pool due to the lack of clothing, partying, and smoking that was occuring on the main deck. Definitely check with TA on the average age and validate if there is a large group on the ship. Weekday sailing is better for relaxation than the weekend. Food: Average.. Nothing exciting. We ate at the main dining room and never had a wait. The waiters pushed the bottle water at every seating. The buffet had plenty of fresh fruit and salad fixings. During the dinner there was one carving of meet. First night was roast beef, second was chicken, third was turkey. Desserts were nothing to write home about. We did not experience any of the speciality restaurants. Staff: Cruise Director, Mark, was awesome and you could see that he enjoyed his job. The staff was friendly and it was obvious they were exhausted from the demands of the Groove Cruise customers. Entertainment: Evening shows were entertaining, but definitely not Broadway. We had a stand up comedian that is a professional seen on HBO, and after 15 minutes his jokes became repetitve and boring. The last night the Cruise Director, Mark, and his team did the 'Fountain' presentation. It was awesome and Mark went over and above what I have seen on another NCL ship. Ports: Took a tour of Nassua and Atlantis. Enjoyed our tour guide that we picked up at the pier, unfortunately not enough time at each stop. Shopping is as expected. Remember to negotiate in this port and you should be able to get everything at 50% off the asking price. Weather: Our weather on the first day was sunny and warm. Perfect weather for exploring Nassua. Seas were calm until the next day at Great Stirrup Cove. Tendering for the private island was a challenge and stopped at 2pm. As the sea got rough, tendering was a challenge to get all customers back on the ship. The return to Miami was rough sailing. I will return to sail with NCL but not on the Sky. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
That is what happened on the Jan. 14, 2010 cruise, as well as the cruise over New Years. How could this happen? Who would do this? For the Jan. 14th cruise we waited outside for an hour and a half- and then another hour and a half standing ... Read More
That is what happened on the Jan. 14, 2010 cruise, as well as the cruise over New Years. How could this happen? Who would do this? For the Jan. 14th cruise we waited outside for an hour and a half- and then another hour and a half standing inside before we even got to the check-in counter! I am amazed that an ambulance only had to be called once(that I saw)! To set the stage, the ship was late due to a dry dock. But Royal knew it was going to be late days before it arrived! So why didn't they rent some space heaters? Why didn't they buy some carpet to put on the outside cement floor? Why didn't they have people at the port who cared and were informed? These are simple things that a cruise line that cared could easily do! Now, let's get on with the cruise. Royal did give us the usual Royal cruise. The food was good. The entertainment was good. The ice show was great. All stuff that makes people like Royal. So why ruin it by seeming not to care? Is it Cape Liberty only? I don't want to cruise out of there ever again! For three straight years we have taken this cruise and twice they have screwed it up. Two years ago they were late also and some people in my group didn't get aboard until 8:30 PM. Will they ever do their management job right? Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Let me start with our first and second cruise with Carnival. Both cruises were great and wanting to go back with them and cruise again soon. Then we booked a western cruise with Carnival's DESTINY, 5 nights leaving Jan. 25 2010. Two ... Read More
Let me start with our first and second cruise with Carnival. Both cruises were great and wanting to go back with them and cruise again soon. Then we booked a western cruise with Carnival's DESTINY, 5 nights leaving Jan. 25 2010. Two days before we were to leave, we received a call from Carnival saying the Itinerary has been changed because they were having a problem with the propulsion system on the boat! We were no longer going to grand Turk,they said we will now be going to free port! Huh????? There is a difference of 800 miles or so, and they said they would give us only a 50 ship board credit each. SO Disappointed.....but what were we to do? All of us had arranged to get work off and had booked this trip way in advance. SO NOT FAIR! Anyhow, we ended up going of course, and things kinda got worse from there! When we were doing the "embarkment thing" we had to fill out a sheet as to any sickness we had like sore throat or cough and such. We thought that was odd as this was our 6th cruise and we had never experienced that before. We were all healthy as a horse,(but I'm sure some people weren't).......get my drift? To make a long story short, we all got sick by the 3 or 4th day with some nasty respiratory thing. We are all still on antibiotics by the way. Makes you wonder when you see smudge and finger marks on the windows on the Lido deck that were still there on the 5th day! By the way, the Lido deck where most people ate, was not the cleanest and the food wasn't really any better. And to make matters worse, the Destiny crew on the Lido deck were the most "UNFRIENDLY". I don't even recall any one of them smiling......and often times I had to take away old dishes myself off the tables so we could have room to eat! I will say,our rooms were very nice and clean and our room Stewart was very friendly. Its interesting to read other reviews to see that Destiny has had ship problems for some time. This has turned us off cruising with Carnival, and these matters should be looked into. Future cruisers beware of these problems!"Disaster on the Destiny" Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We took a family 1 week Eastern Catribbean trip on the Pearl leaving Miami on 1/29/10. If you're looking for a cruise is excessive drinking and smoking, this is the ship for you. This was our first and probably last time on an NCL ... Read More
We took a family 1 week Eastern Catribbean trip on the Pearl leaving Miami on 1/29/10. If you're looking for a cruise is excessive drinking and smoking, this is the ship for you. This was our first and probably last time on an NCL ship and we saw more smoking (in non smoking areas like next to the children's slide) and more excessive drinking (alcohol is continually being pushed 24 hrs a day) than on any of our previous dozen cruises. Free style cruising, despite NCL's marketing, means horrific dining room food, long waits for a table, staff that has trouble with English, food that is served piecemeal if at all, extremely limited menus, and dining with people in shorts, tshirts and baseball caps (despite NCL's dress code). The buffet had a great variety of items, but was also of very low quality. Eggs and omelets in the morning were great but took three times longer to get than other ships. Guest services were unable to resolve any issues that arose and tried to defer all problems to individual departments. Room service sometimes took well over an hour to arrive. The seating in the main theater was the most uncomfortable we've seen, and the sound system the worst we've heard. Everything was broadcast at twice the normal volume. TV movie selection was poor, and the on board musicians uninspired. Three of the four ports required tendering, which after the the first disorganized one, atleas became better controlled. The ship had many positives, but not enough to offset all the negatives. The rooms had great storage, and the beds were the most comfortable we've seen. The room stewards were great and very accomodating. The kids club staff was A1. The elevators were fast and roomy. The showers were great (but had poor quality pump soap and shampoo) with good pressure, temperature control and were especially roomy. The bathroom had an exhaust fan that prevented the mirrors from fogging up and the sink actually had cold water as well as hot. The room doors opened easily, unlike the heavy doors on many other ships. The entertainment was first rate, among the best we've seen. The Second City Revue, the comedian, and the cirque de soleil take off were among the best acts anywhere. The speciality restaurants were fantastic (9 or 10 rating) and better than those on most other lines. This was despite the extremely poor quality of the free dining rooms and the buffet. None of these positives, however, offset the number of drunks staggering around the ship and the way too excessive pushing of booze by the staff. NCL - find some other way to increase your profits. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Ship: Norwegian Sun Itinerary: Chilean Fjords - Buenos Aires to Valparaiso Sail dates: January 31 to February 14, 2010 Embarkation: As several other CC members have noted, the Port of Buenos Aires can be chaotic and disorganized during ... Read More
Ship: Norwegian Sun Itinerary: Chilean Fjords - Buenos Aires to Valparaiso Sail dates: January 31 to February 14, 2010 Embarkation: As several other CC members have noted, the Port of Buenos Aires can be chaotic and disorganized during peak boarding times: all taxis and large tour buses enter through one gate and then jockey for position in a huge traffic snarl in order to let passengers out curbside. Additional confusion results from a single sidewalk (with very little signage) that requires passengers to proceed to a luggage intake station through a doorway on the right, then double-back to the actual terminal entrance door on the left. During our embarkation there was very little guidance from NCL staff, who were present on the scene but not active - some had signs in their hands that they held close to their sides instead of up in the air, while others just stood and stared blankly at the pandemonium without the slightest attempt to guide anyone. Once inside the terminal, a long line lead us to passport control, and passengers who refused to queue in single file (cutting the line to visit with relatives and jockey to get a little further ahead) further compounded the chaos. Processing was even halted at one point so that the overwhelmed agents could take a break, but this resulted in even longer lines to leave the port. Once through passport control, diesel buses carried passengers to the ship, weaving under cranes and through stacks of cargo containers. Reaching the gangway at last, we entered the ship on Deck 5 and faced a very long line in the Four Seasons dining room, where room cards were being issued. As suite guests, my spouse and I were pulled from this queue and separately checked in by staff in the lobby area of the Il Adagio restaurant. After taking photos, we were led to an adjoining room for a one-on-one talk with ship concierge Karin, who asked if there was anything she could arrange for us as we settled in. The one request I had - to reserve a spot in the thermal suite in the spa - was for naught...despite web postings to the contrary, there is no thermal suite on board. As Karin explained, "This is an older ship, and it does not have the amenities you might expect on newer, larger ships." Indeed. Ship: The Norwegian Sun, built in 2001, is a smaller vessel that feels somewhat dated and out-of-touch even though it is relatively new (perhaps this explains a planned dry-dock scheduled for fall 2010.) Public areas are small and a bit on the claustrophobic side, and the awkward deck layout, which is configured around a giant central kitchen area on deck 5, prevents easy walking from venues located at opposite ends of the ship. The atrium features four "Panoramic Elevators" that, after leaving decks 5, 6 and 7, travel the remainder of their journey inside a white tube - hardly "panoramic" at all. There are many rust spots all over the exterior decks of the vessel that are in need of painting, and plastic flowers and Papier Mache rocks abound - no fresh flowers were to be seen. The daily newsletter is laughable - frequent misspellings, incorrect information, and page after page devoted to getting you to spend money on jewels, artwork, massages and excursions. I know these elements are part of the cruise line revenue stream, but honestly, NCL goes above and beyond any acceptable levels of advertising when 6 front-and-back insert pages are spent trying to pry your money from your pocket. Separately, the passenger composition on this South American itinerary was largely comprised of travelers from France, Germany and Latin America, and as a result, I observed willful disregard for the rule against smoking in individual cabins and public areas despite admonishments from the crew. Indeed, when walking down the halls of decks 9 and 10, the cigarette smoke coming from cabins was so thick that it would make me cough out loud. I saw several cases of plumbing problems - for example, on embarkation day inside cabins 0129 and 0329 were flooded so badly with sewage that carpets were pulled up, odorizer was sprinkled on floors and giant fans were in place for at least 2 straight days. Serious customer service issues exist on this ship. Bartenders and bar staff are competent and friendly (especially Marvin in the Observation Lounge), but much of the food service team seems to be preoccupied with socializing with each other - when interrupted from this pastime they are often surly and occasionally downright rude. When we got up to take a look at a breakfast fruit buffet in the Four Seasons main dining room, one server admonished us to sit down immediately and barked, "Let us do our job and you do yours!" During the mandatory lifeboat muster, our station leader - an onboard entertainer named Alan - practiced his dance steps while the drill took place. At the same time his station partner informed us, "Remember you are at Muster Station R. You know what Station R stands for? R is for rich. Like you." (Presumably because this station is a meeting point for suite guests.) On a positive note about the crew, Concierge Karin is a very hard worker who aims to please. I've read complaints on CC that "she is never at her desk," but in reality this is because she is constantly in motion, running all over the ship to take care of guests. She is extremely accommodating and courteous, and the majority of this crew would do well to model their behavior after hers. Cabin: We were booked in Cabin 0265, a Penthouse Suite located aft on the Norway Deck. This cabin is spacious (the photos of the living room area on the NCL website really do not do the size of it justice) and generally well maintained. The bathroom is large, with a separate glassed-in toilet closet (like many cruise ship WCs, this one has a slight smell of sewage), a double-door-enclosed shower, and a Jacuzzi tub that is large enough for a 6-foot tall adult to lie down in. The bathroom has only one sink, however, so washing up and shaving are a one-person-at-a-time affair. Lighting is good in the bathroom, but one minor annoyance: you cannot turn on just one light, say only over the sink - you must turn on all 12 recessed spotlights or none at all (kind of disruptive if you have to get up in the middle of the night). In addition, it sometimes took as long as 15 minutes to get hot water in the bathroom, so if you are in a hurry, plan on a cold shower. Closet space in this cabin is not as generous as one would expect, especially for a 2-week itinerary. There are lots of drawers, though, and a separate make-up table area in the pass-through closet space between the bathroom and bedroom. The bedroom is nicely-sized, with a very soft marshmallow mattress and a separate set of glass doors that open onto the best thing about this cabin - the generous wrap-around aft balcony, which features room enough for two chaise lounges as well as a table and three regular-size chairs. Watching the world go by on calm sea days makes the investment in this suite worthwhile. Negatives about Suite 0265: no coffee maker or kettle (let alone the cappuccino machine advertised in most NCL literature describing Penthouse Suite amenities), no in-room Wi-Fi, no extra blankets or pillows without making a special request, and large tube-style Panasonic televisions that are well past their prime, to the point of being nearly unwatchable. A Sony DVD player with surround-sound is outfitted in the living room, but I can't imagine blasting the speakers while watching a movie from the onboard library. A connecting door to the smaller balcony room next door would make this an ideal suite for sharing with kids or another couple, but in our case our neighbor used it for eavesdropping (as he made clear while we were out on the balcony, when he leaned over the dividing barrier and asked about things that had been discussed in private). Beware: noise (and the odd piece of toast flying off a plate) is also sometimes an issue from the Great Outdoors Cafe located on the deck above - diners frequently drag their chairs (and tables) as they jockey for position alongside the rails. One saving grace during our cruise was that the cafe space above this cabin is unusable in cold or inclement weather, so the noise factor wasn't as bad as it could have been. The Penthouse Suite comes with Butler Service - ours was a rather shy man named Orlando. In addition to bringing ice (and unpacking your clothes if you ask), the butler brings complimentary canapEs in the late afternoon and also delivers room service orders (room service in this suite is a complicated affair in which you call the room service number, they hang up, locate your butler, and he calls you back to take the order and subsequently deliver it). I had but one request of Orlando - to supply a bottle of whiskey for evening drinks. I told him I understood that I would have to pay extra for the alcohol, but he gave me a funny look and informed me that I would have to pay for each shot in the bottle individually! When I asked how that could be possible, given that guests can purchase a dozen bottles of wine from NCL without a "per-sip" surcharge. He just shrugged his shoulders and later I received an explanation from the Concierge: It is supposedly a (newly-introduced) fleet wide NCL policy that guests cannot purchase a bottle of liquor onboard, even if they are willing to pay an exorbitant amount for it - apparently because some guests cannot be trusted not to drink it all at once (how this gets around being able to drink a whole bottle of wine at once is beyond me). In any event, it is nonsensical that a suite guest cannot request a bar setup with a single bottle of liquor for the duration of a two-week cruise. Our Cabin Steward Fidel was perhaps the best we have ever had on any cruise - he visited several times a day and our suite was kept immaculate at all times. Food: Overall, the food served on the NCL Sun is consistently mediocre - poorly prepared, sloppily presented and more often than not, reheated from a frozen state. Interestingly, during a casual conversation with the Food & Beverage manager, he revealed that (despite an itinerary with close proximity to some of the best meat and seafood on the planet) none of the protein served on the Sun is fresh. That's right - all steaks, poultry and seafood items are shipped frozen to the ship from Miami because of potential labor strikes from dockworkers and other food providers in South American ports. It's unsurprising then that the resulting meals are less than spectacular. One thing to remember when dining on this ship - the service staff has been indoctrinated with a set order in which to deliver food, and any deviations or special requests (like a pre-dinner cocktail or an extra piece of bread with your meal) cause confusion and turmoil. Service staff is also not very competent, often mixing up orders and dropping food and utensils - the crashing of plates, silverware and glassware onto the floor is a constant in nearly every dining venue on the Sun. The "Freestyle" concept really is kind of a joke - if you don't plan ahead, you really cannot eat "whenever, wherever" - walk-up to the desk of a specialty restaurant without a reservation and you will get a blank stare and a "No!" Here then, is a rundown of each of the restaurants onboard: Concierge Lounge: Our first dining experience on the Sun was lunch in the Concierge Lounge, set up in the Il Adagio specialty restaurant. Warning signs that a bad meal was forthcoming appeared right away: our waiter was shuffling his feet and singing to himself, even while taking our order, and the tablecloth was stained with food from a breakfast that had been served earlier that morning. I asked for a Diet Coke and 20 minutes later received a Beck's Beer in a bottle. I asked again for a Diet Coke, and this time received a Pepsi in a can. After my third request for a Diet Coke, our server informed me that they only have Pepsi on NCL (first time anyone ever told me), so I said "Okay, let me have a Diet Pepsi then." 42 minutes and $2.24 later, I received the one and only soda that I had onboard. My lunch consisted of a Caesar Salad that would be best described as a few leaves of Romaine lettuce floating in two cups of salad dressing, followed by cold and inedible hamburger "sliders" and French fries that were still partially frozen. I skipped it. Breakfast is offered in this venue as an amenity for suite guests, and the service was admittedly better than this first meal, but you have to know how to order. If you want a regular amount of cheese on your omelet, specify "extra cheese," otherwise the omelet arrives dry. If you want your English muffin toasted, you must specifically ask for it to be done. Teppanyaki: During the check-in process, Concierge Karin encouraged us to make a reservation for the Teppanyaki specialty restaurant, because "once everyone on the ship hears about how good it is, you won't be able to get a reservation." We took her advice and made a booking for our first night on ship. After our party of four was seated at the 12-person grill, we placed an order for cocktails. A couple of the requests (a gin martini, a blended margarita) seemed to vex the waiter - a hunch that was proven true when the drinks did not appear until 52 minutes later. After being served soybeans, soup and a salad, our two teppanyaki chefs appeared - making nervous jokes and fumbling a bit as they started juggling knives and spatulas over the steaming hot grill. I had just remarked to my brother-in-law that "This can only end badly..." when one of the chefs lost his grip on a twirling spatula and it sailed across the grill and hit my spouse square in the chest, covering him in food and sauce. After he excused himself from the table amid gasps from our fellow diners, the chefs proceeded to juggle raw eggs, which they also dropped with splats onto the floor. Everyone at the grill grew visibly agitated at becoming the next victim, and I said, "Maybe we should stop the juggling and proceed with the cooking." No one laughed. Neither did I when my spouse returned and the maitre d' failed to compensate him for the $25 meal surcharge - instead she offered a complimentary t-shirt cleaning (even though he was wearing a dress shirt and dress slacks). The evening was ruined, as you can imagine, but admittedly the food was fairly tasty (if diners can manage to avoid wearing it). Four Seasons: Our group of four encountered mediocre food and very surly service in this main dining room (in fact we had a running debate over whether the service is worse in the Four Seasons or the Seven Seas - food is from the same kitchen, and only the serving staff distinguishes the two main dining room venues). Bland dishes like chicken breast with instant mashed potatoes and frozen vegetables abound. On the accident front, I had a shrimp cocktail spilled all over the table in front of me one evening by a sloppy server. Il Adagio: Dinner is reasonably good at this venue, which specializes in Italian dishes. Order the simple things, like an artichoke pizza, which is crisp and delicious. Service is sloppy, however: it took more than 15 minutes for a server to appear on one busy evening, and an additional 30 minutes to get glasses of water to the table. The reason, according to our server: "We have to go and find more water." Le Bistro: Food and service were a bit above average in this venue. The cassoulet was decently prepared, with slightly overcooked but flavorful duck. The chocolate fondue was cold, runny and inedible, and although the menu advertises Crepes Suzette "prepared tableside," they are not, obviously for safety reasons (but then why offer it in writing?). If you order selections from the "International Cheese Trolley" for dessert, you'll receive a few slices of American, Swiss and Bleu served along with a plastic-covered packet of saltine crackers. Beware the extra charges for certain menu items that are in addition to the restaurant's $20 cover charge. East Meets West Steakhouse: Food quality is slightly above average here, with fairly attentive service (although we were turned away in our first attempt to "dine whenever" at 7:30 pm despite the fact that only two of the more than 35 tables were occupied). Jumbo shrimp cocktails with a spicy sauce are a pleasure, and the wedge salad is a classic that was enjoyable. Not so great: gummy lobster bisque and defrosted steaks that were tough and overcooked despite a request for "medium rare." On another evening, to avoid the frozen steak, I ordered rotisserie chicken, which was dry and tough. Again, beware of the extra charges beyond the $25 cover - it's $10 more if you want that frozen lobster tail with your frozen filet mignon. Sushi Bar: If you like sushi this is actually one of the better dining venues aboard the Sun. Although the fish isn't fresh, the hand rolls are well prepared and suitably spicy. Service staff are attentive and pleasant, a rarity on this ship. Pacific Heights: Perhaps the worst of the specialty restaurants. After a conversation with the Food & Beverage Manager, I was under the assumption that this venue had been closed - but what he really meant to tell me was that its partnership with the food magazine 'Cooking Light" has been terminated. And with good reason: the Tomato Soup is like a can of Campbell's with a spoonful of Cayenne Pepper thrown in, and the Mushroom Quesadilla, seemingly filled with instant guacamole and slimy canned mushrooms, is perhaps the vilest thing I have ever attempted to eat. After ordering drinks, our server told us that the 40-minute delay in their delivery was because "The bartender is in the bathroom." When he finally returned to our table 20 minutes later with appetizers, the waiter looked at us and scornfully said, "You switched places on me!" We had not. Buffet: Typical mediocre cruise-line buffet fare - nothing is great, nothing is horrid. Some tips: you don't have to form a single queue - go to the station that you want (there will be howls of protest, but the reality is, this was set up for diners to pick-and-choose from salads, entrees and desserts rather than follow one singular line). During peak lunch times, head out to the rear Great Outdoors area, which has a separate buffet queue featuring salads, burgers, and desserts. As part of the buffet breakfast in the Garden Cafe, waffles are cooked to order in the Pacific Heights venue, and there is virtually no waiting - probably because it is not advertised and you have to exit out of the buffet, head towards the Sports Bar and make a right to get there. You can also find freshly baked pizza (that is quite good) at Pacific Heights during the lunchtime buffet service. Entertainment: Live shows: The "Gaucho de la Plata" performance was awkward and uncomfortable - the male "Gaucho" performer became winded after his first bolo dance, then proceeded to make several homophobic jokes in a row. Separately, the "Jean Ann Ryan Dancers" are actually fairly talented...unfortunately the material they are tasked with performing (especially choreography during the Broadway-themed "Encore!" show) is clunky and uninspired. Their "Cirque du Pan" show, a faux "Cirque du Soliel" retelling of "Peter Pan" is the best performance of the lot - fun costumes, cute sets and some impressive gymnastics and aerial acrobatics. Bingo: The offering of every big cash prize came with an asterix: "$5000 Jackpot! *If you cover your card in 46 numbers or less." Isn't this a very low statistical possibility? Not even one guaranteed cash Bingo jackpot during a two-week cruise? Casino: Slot machines are like vacuum cleaners - 20 dollars on a 25-cent machine disappears in a flash. Tables were often empty, with dealers staring blankly and singing to themselves. The casino is closed while in Chilean waters (a significant portion of this itinerary), and it seemed to be primarily used as a indoor smoking lounge during inclement weather - the smoke is extremely heavy, with little or no ventilation. Shop: Despite a sign that excitedly proclaims "We have everything you need! Toothpaste, Mouthwash, Toothbrushes!" - the first two on that list were not stocked during the entire 14-day cruise. When asked, a shop assistant shrugged and said, "We don't carry toothpaste." Separately, several days before the end of the cruise, the store manager encouraged me to take advantage of the "Buy 2, Get 1 Free" port-themed t-shirt offer, because "They will not be available for remainder of the cruise." The shirts were observed on offer long after - in fact, all the way to the shop closing on the final night. Spa: I am an avid spa-goer, but having experienced the customer service levels throughout the rest of the ship, I opted not to partake of any spa treatments offered by the Mandara Spa. I do have one anecdote regarding the staff, however. My spouse approached the spa reception desk and inquired about getting a moustache trim in the salon (a service advertised on the salon menu). The receptionist told him "No, we don't do that." He walked away in frustration. A few moments later, I approached the desk and asked if it were possible to get my moustache trimmed. "Sure," the receptionist said, "when would you like to schedule an appointment?" Enrichment Lectures: Presented by Assistant Cruise Director "Szolt the Bolt," these featured sixth-grade level Power Point presentations on such topics and the indigenous peoples and the geology/geography of South America. He was unprepared to give the scheduled talk on whales and wildlife, so he showed a video about Alaskan whales instead. Excursions: Here are details on excursions offered by NCL: The Lagoon Bluff: Based on rave reviews, our party of four reserved this Falkland Island penguin rookery excursion via the NCL website more than six months in advance. Once aboard, we discovered that the Excursion Desk staff had switched two of us to a tour time that departed more than 30 minutes later. When I politely asked for the new time to be switched back so we could travel together, the manager of the Excursion Desk told me, "You can either take the tour separately, or give me the tickets back...we have plenty of people who want to take this tour." I told him that this was unacceptable and to make it right. He eventually did, but every time I saw him in the hallway, he averted his eyes and would not speak to me. Torres del Paine: A very long day that begins in Punta Arenas and includes a bus ride to the airport, a flight in a rickety Cessna plane (the windshield de-icers did not work and the pilot flew blind for more than 15 minutes of the 40-minute trip), a three-hour bus ride around the national park, a great Chilean lunch overlooking a stunning vista at a lake, and a repeat flight on said rickety Cessna. Embarrassingly expensive at just over $1000 per person - NCL should be ashamed at the premium charged for this tour, which ought to cost $500 tops. All that being said, the beauty of Torres del Paine cannot be overstated. Torres is a must-see destination that would be one of the high points of any visit to Chile. Lake Esmeralda and Petrohue Falls: A scenic excursion as advertised, but expect to share your catamaran ride on Lake Esmeralda with 400 other guests, and just try to get a solitary moment (let alone walk on the trail) at the falls as 7 to 8 buses release their passengers simultaneously. Lunch, served at an estancia, was very good, and featured as an entree some of the best salmon I have ever tasted. In Buenos Aires, Peninsula Valdes, Ushuaia and Valparaiso / Santiago we used private tour guides that were friendly, informative and significantly cheaper than NCL excursions. If you are interested in contact information, please send me a private message and I will be happy to share details. Bottom Line: Our 14-day cruise around South America on the Norwegian Sun was a memorable one - the vibrancy of Buenos Aires and Santiago are thrilling, and the natural beauty of Patagonia is incomparable. Despite obtaining a significantly discounted rate by booking via the NCL website more than a year in advance, the nickel-and-diming that we experienced on the Norwegian Sun made this the most expensive cruise we have ever taken (yes, surpassing even a trip on the luxury line Crystal Cruises). And unfortunately, our memories of the ship are plagued by visions of incompetency and ineptitude that would be laughable if they hadn't cost us a considerable amount of money to experience. "Do you have any money left? No? Ha ha!" - Cruise Director Pedro Cera, emceeing the final show of our cruise in the Stardust Theater. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We choose to give Royal Caribbean a try because this ship was leaving from New Jersey and we live in New Jersey. We choose it because of the convenience factor of not having to fly out to cruise like we usually. Previously we had only been ... Read More
We choose to give Royal Caribbean a try because this ship was leaving from New Jersey and we live in New Jersey. We choose it because of the convenience factor of not having to fly out to cruise like we usually. Previously we had only been on Carnival Ships and loved everything about there fleet. The Explorer of the Seas was directed beautifully through the hallways. We loved the look of the ship. Embarkation on the ship was a nightmare! It had snowed the day we were leaving. The night before we stayed in Country Inn Suites and took there shuttle to the port. The traffic was horrible! We waited in a long line of cars and traffic for almost 2 hours! That was just to get out of the shuttle. After that the checking in process was very easy. We quickly got on the ship and were starving. Unfortunately for us they just closed the buffet style dinner at the top of the ship and there was only one place to get food until dinner. Since they only had one place to get food we waited in a very very long time to eat since everyone was just getting on the boat and getting food. We never had this kind of wait on any Carnival Ship. They always made sure there was plenty of food places open to eat when you first got on the ship! Even Though the ship was beautiful, we were disappointed with our Balcony. It was large but had disgusting mold and paint spots all over it. Again, we never had this kind of issue with Carnival. There was 2.5 days out to sea on this ship and you would think there would have been lots of activities to keep you busy. However there was very little to do for us. The kind of activities they had were napkin folding and jewelry making just to name a few. We did have a great time with the dance lessons but other than that we kept getting bored and there was little to do. Also a lot of activities they did have to do charged a fee to do them! Another disappointment was how Royal Caribbean nickel and dimes you for everything. On all Carnival ships there are rooms with Irons and also washer and dryers. This boat did not have either. If you wanted anything ironed or cleaned you paid for it. When we were out to sea we kept getting incredibly bored. Also on Carnival ships there is usually parties on the deck almost every night. There was only one on this entire ship. Now mind you it was cold the first few and the last few days but even the days it was warm there was really nothing going on at night besides the show. All of the food was delicious. We also ate at Portifino's one night which is there speciality restaurant which was good but not exceptional like we were expecting. We also had a large number of people from other countries who sometimes were quite rude to others. The worst part of this ship were the rough seas! We will never leave from New Jersey or anywhere north from a trip again!Everyone was sick the first few and last few days! We also had a bad experience the third night of the trip when at 4:00 AM in the morning a 100 MPH wind unexpectedly hit our ship and knocked us 12 degrees to the side. Some people got really hurt and the ship lost a lot of glasses and other things when this happen. Many people fell out of there beds and one lady got a black eye and got a concussion from the incident. RC did handle it well. The captain made and announcement 4:00 AM to insure everyone we were okay. Many people had there life vests on and were getting ready to prepare for the worse. I should mention also that all of the shows were fantastic. We really enjoyed them all and especially the ice show! The cruise director was great and he kept us laughing the whole time. My final conclusions are that were will stick with Carnival and only cruise from the south! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We chose this cruise for the childcare, it was to have childcare for children 2 yrs and over. What they do not tell you, and will not fix this problem as I have already written the cruise line and have given them a chance to fix this ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the childcare, it was to have childcare for children 2 yrs and over. What they do not tell you, and will not fix this problem as I have already written the cruise line and have given them a chance to fix this problem and instead they send me $200 to cruise again- YEA RIGHT, is that they need to tell parents that children have to enter the childcare areas alone with no hesitation and must separate willingly from their parents. Now as a professional in the area of child development I can tell you that no 2 or even 3 year old should willingly enter any room (with stranger, no toys or windows, etc...) without a parent. I take my children to childcare several days a week and my 2 1/2 year old always cries when I leave,but the Professional take him and hold him and comfort him, they do not stand around and do nothing, like the so called childcare professional did on this cruise. Every time I took my son to the entry and HAD to stop since I could not enter the room, he clung to my leg and refused to enter. Eventually my husband had to go and talk to the director of the child care to get her (Onion Ring was her name, REALLY) to get her to hold my son (which we were told was not permissible) so we cold walk away without him running after us. It was a nightmare and I cried, which I am not a person that cries. Did I mention they place the young children ages 2 to 5 in a room the size of most of the cabins (which are small if you know this line) with no windows and no toys out to play with, it was bad and to get to the room you had to walk down a hall that was used by the staff to bring food out to the cafe so you had to stand in line dodging large food carts to get your children in this room. Oh but the teenagers got a huge room, that they never seemed to be in because they were teenagers and never want to be where they should be! It wasn't just this, trust me there was much more... like the child's cafe area that the adults all sat in since there was never any room to eat in the larger cafe, because it seems everyone wants to eat at the same time. Food was OK, but even the higher end restaurants were I wanted fabulous food was just a little better. There are no activities for young children and families, except maybe a 15 minute cupcake making event or a children's movie on one day of the cruise. We did have to pay $50 to go play bingo 2 days, but that was so packed and hard to hear that it was a waste! There are no channels on the TV appropriate for children, and maybe one or two rentals for $10 through the tv, there was not a lot for them to do outside due to the weather, and even if it was nice there is limited things for young children due to the diaper restrictions (which they dont enforce btw) in the children's pool. The staff that was taking care of our room was the ONLY highlight of the whole cruise, the other staff on the ship that had any power or authority were rude and one man basically called me a liar! Oh, but we did get a kick out of the hand sanitizer guy, the motto of the cruise is "happy, happy, washy washy", and you know what I was happy when I washed this cruise out of my life! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We were on this cruise as part of a family group. It was out first time on HAL and 7th cruise overall. Embarkation was smooth and easy. We were on board by noon. We immediately went to the Lido for lunch. My grilled Reuben sandwich was ... Read More
We were on this cruise as part of a family group. It was out first time on HAL and 7th cruise overall. Embarkation was smooth and easy. We were on board by noon. We immediately went to the Lido for lunch. My grilled Reuben sandwich was cold inside. Food was average. The deserts were poor and plain. We had early dining. The menu choices were nothing special and the food quality was average. We had asked to be assigned a large table with others not from our group. One dinner a table mate ordered a scrambled egg. The waiter held up the entire table dinner for over an hour while this was prepared. We were never told why the delay. The whole time the rest of our meals sat on the wait station getting cold. I drink water with my meals. I sat for over a half hour waiting for a water refill. I finally had to ask. It seems that the only wat to get good service is to use the extra cost speciality restaurants. Food in the Lido never improved. Subsequent grilled sandwiches were cold in the middle. The made to order omelets were very good but limited tin choices for ingredients. Even pancakes were slow in coming. I did like the fresh squeezed orange juice. Dining options outside regular meal times were limited. Only the pizza station was open late. The burger grill was not even open for all dinners. Our room steward did a good job keeping the room clean but unlike other cruises we never got to know him. The art work in the room should be burned. It bordered on obscene. I did like that our cabin had a bath tub instead of the usual micro shower. Entertainment was mixed. The Magician James Cielen was superb. The music act Livewire was also fantastic. The comedian was pretty good as well. The Eurodam Singers and Dancers were very poor. The dancing was good but all the music and singing was pre-recorded with them lip syncing. It was so obvious that the piano kept playing while they were changing players. Half Moon Cae has a beautiful beach. HAL also put on a very nice BBQ for lunch. They really need to build a pier there and get rid of the tenders. The sea was too rough and getting on and off them was difficult. Someone with mobility issues or in a wheel chair simple cannot get there. There was a large political group on board and they tied up many of the public rooms which was an annoyance. The Techspert teaching the computer classes was very good. Les in the piano bar was fun and very good. The public rooms on the ship were plain and signage as to which side of the ship you were on was almost non existent. The photo gallery was extremely OVERPRICED. A single sheet of prints in now $40.00!!!! The quality of the photographers was armature at best. We enjoy doing the trivia on cruises. We had a first this cruise when a Chocolate Lovers trivia was published in the daily schedule but no one from the cruise staff showed up to do it. About 100 passengers finally left after an hour. Bottom line: I'm sticking with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
I will never use Carnival again for a cruise. Carnival knew since 6am that the ship coming back to port would not be able to dock in the port due to fog. We received no notification. We drive to the port, they take our luggage and send us ... Read More
I will never use Carnival again for a cruise. Carnival knew since 6am that the ship coming back to port would not be able to dock in the port due to fog. We received no notification. We drive to the port, they take our luggage and send us to Mobile's filthy civic center to wait until 9pm. Then they tell us that we will not sail that night and we are on our own to find a hotel room without access to the luggage they already took. They offered a 10% discount at Holiday Inn if you wait in a line with about 1000 people already in the line. Ridiculous! The lack of security and information on the part of Carnival is inexcuseable. They had NO concern for our safety or comfort. The LEAST they could do is cover the cost of the hotel which they did not. Forget calling their corporate office. They told me they had no policies and procedures to deal with weather issues. The embarkment crew were stupid at best. What a way to start a vacation. Do not bother with this trip. The ship is extremely dated and worn out. It needs a serious makeover. The staff was nice. That is the best I can say about Carnival. The entertainment reminds me of high school performances. Everything on the ship is overpriced, especially alcohol. Carnival really knows how to nickel and dime you to death. Due to the weather, the sea was so rough that it was difficult to even walk on board. If I were you, I would be SURE the weather is going to be nice by taking a last minute cruise. People were falling down and visibly ill. This was not safe for the elderly. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
This was only the second cruise that my family of four had taken and we brought along our close friends, another family of four for their first cruise. I could never speak to the "relaxing" nature of a cruise because let's ... Read More
This was only the second cruise that my family of four had taken and we brought along our close friends, another family of four for their first cruise. I could never speak to the "relaxing" nature of a cruise because let's face it - four kids between the ages of 6-8 doesn't spell relaxation. I will say that the Youth staff was overall very nice and our kids had a great time in the short times they spent in Adventure Ocean. What surprised us all, was how, well, rude the staff was! I had read "Cruise Confidential" before the cruise and the author spoke of how more than anything else the staff was expected to speak English and be gracious to guests. We would ask questions of the staff and they would either look at us, not understanding, or shrug and say they didn't know. The questions were basically - 'do we need our passports in Haiti' or 'do you know how we get to the dining room'. By the end of the cruise on disembarkation day, I commented to my husband that never in all my life would I expect the Miami Transportation Authority to be kinder than the RC staff. One kind Head Waiter did tell us that all of the "trained" staff were removed to be placed on the Oasis. This left us feeling that those who paid $3500 a cabin were much more important than those who spent $2000 a cabin. In all, I enjoyed my time with my family and friends. I appreciated the Cruise Director's staff, but never would I ever again pay money to be treated so poorly on the open seas. Shame on you Navigator. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Cruised on the Independence December 20-26, 2009. Positives: Spacious interior cabin rooms, and attentive stewards who kept the cabins clean. Good separation of age grouping for the pools. Kids enjoyed kid club activities. Multiple ... Read More
Cruised on the Independence December 20-26, 2009. Positives: Spacious interior cabin rooms, and attentive stewards who kept the cabins clean. Good separation of age grouping for the pools. Kids enjoyed kid club activities. Multiple bar/nightclub choices. "Mall" was a nice area to spend cooler evenings. Negatives: Number one negative was the overall food quality - food was mediocre at best with very limited choices. While the ship advertises many amenities such as the climbing wall, flowrider, etc. we found that the hours for use limited and the lines were long with disorganized staff. While the majority of staff were pleasant, we did experience poor attitudes from more than one staff member. Entertainment was practically non-existent, and sub-par compared to offerings on other cruise lines. The size of the ship, we found, pushed the limits of the ability for the staff to maintain cleanliness and good service. Our conclusion is that unless you know that your children or yourself will really use the amenities on the ship (that you are paying a premium for - ice rink, flowrider, etc.) save some money and book with a cruise line that offers more premium food and entertainment. For us, we found that our kids 11 and 15 (very active) were quickly bored with the "extras" and frustrated by the frequent waits for activities and disorganization. They had more fun hanging out with the other kids their ages, and barely used any of the listed features. In short, we wish that we had paid less to go on a smaller, more premium cruise with better ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Let me first say, I LOVE Disney. We travel to Walt Disney World 3 or 4 times a year. The magic found at the parks is NOT duplicated at sea. We just returned from our 2nd Disney cruise. What has happened? My husband and I sailed on the ... Read More
Let me first say, I LOVE Disney. We travel to Walt Disney World 3 or 4 times a year. The magic found at the parks is NOT duplicated at sea. We just returned from our 2nd Disney cruise. What has happened? My husband and I sailed on the wonder back in 2006. It was a completely different experience. Back then, the ship was clean, the service was great, every thing was perfect. This trip, I could not believe that this was the same ship. I could not believe this was Disney. Walt would be so disappointed!!!! The ship is very worn out and showing her age. She has been abused and upkeep has been minimal. Our stateroom was horrible. The AC never worked. We had maintenance come out several times to no avail. There response was...we are sorry, we are trying to fix it. Guest services refused to move us to another room without a $400 upgrade fee. The room was so humid because of the AC not working properly that it left everything in the room feeling wet. When we would go to bed at night it was like pulling wet sheets up on us. Miserable. The food was bland and blah. Nothing special. The presentation was pretty but the flavor was absent. It was like getting a beautifully wrapped gift only to open the box and see it was empty. Very disappointing. The staff on the ship seemed very tired and unhappy to be there. In fact one server told me he was counting down the days til he was off the ship. Disney hires these young people from all around the world. They sign a 6 month contract and work (non stop) for those 6 months. NO days off. No wonder they are so burned out. It certainly shows. We would have to ask, and ask, and re-ask for refills on our drinks at dinner. There were few workers on the ship that did not have a tired scowl on their faces. The kids club workers were the worst. They had a dazed crazy look in their eyes. They were obviously worn out and hating their jobs! NO MAGIC here!! All the laundry facilities on the ship were broken. When I inquired about their repair, the response was...we are working on it. The one good part was Castaway Cay (Disney's Island). Pretty beach- however, very crowded on the family beach. We will not sail with Disney again. After returning home, I contacted Disney Cruise customer service. Their response to me was ambivalent and defensive. The whole Disney Cruise Line realm is in need of change. If you love Disney as I do, please don't go on the cruise. You will be very disappointed at the contrast between the magic you know and love that is offered at Disney World Parks and the bad use of the Disney name on the Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
I am said to say that the Carnival Freedom was not a very pleasant cruise. The design of the ship kept everyone bottleneck especially when dinner and the shows let out. Everything was right there on the fifth floor, all the bars the dance ... Read More
I am said to say that the Carnival Freedom was not a very pleasant cruise. The design of the ship kept everyone bottleneck especially when dinner and the shows let out. Everything was right there on the fifth floor, all the bars the dance club the teenagers hangout the casino everything. The ship was not easy to navigate. the only floor that allowed you to get from end to the other were the ninth floor where the food was. and the fifth floor where all the bottleneck was. You go into the sports bar to watch a game you seen more cricket or ladies golf. They offer popcorn one night for a nominal fee " huh". The balconies were very small if you wanted to stretch out you had to the turn the lounge chair sideways away from the sun to sit outdoors. Nothing on TV to watch. I realize you don't go on a cruise to watch TV but there are times when you're chilling in your room, I shouldn't have to pay for a decent movie. They only had so many stations. Half were all about Carnival cruise line. Four to five were pay to order. There was TNT that showed the same thing and there was know sports station so you could at least catch a score or two. For the ship to be only two years old,it seemed like the engines rumble a lot. One time at dinner the engines must have rumble so loud for at least 3 to 5 minutes that when they finally stop. Everyone on both decks of the dining hall cheered a loud applause. There were other issues that just added up to a horrible time on this ship. Up to this point we had only sailed with Royal Caribbean. That is where we will be from this point forward Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Cruised on Dream 12/12-12/19!Major issues...just got off the phone with Carnivals Presidents office(Yvette)to go over all my issues that I am about to go over for you...And was told that this was highest I can go! They did not care one ... Read More
Cruised on Dream 12/12-12/19!Major issues...just got off the phone with Carnivals Presidents office(Yvette)to go over all my issues that I am about to go over for you...And was told that this was highest I can go! They did not care one bit!! And response was that it will be passed along for future guests!! Obviously they don't care because I am a past paying guest! How unacceptable!!! I was told that Carnivals guidelines are to not compensate no matter what issues you have had! my advice to you....don't cruise with carnival,I won't anymore!! Carnival does not care, on ship or off!! 1.) Started the nite before we left for Vacation, called Carnival rep. to go over Cruise info and when it came to flight, rep. flat out told me " you will never make your flight you need to change it right now." So with that being said I changed it with a $200 fee attached. Needless to say I ended up taking my original flight home and was out $200. Carnival Rushes you off ship! gosh they were on Debark 20 at 8:30 aNd they harass you non-stop that your luggage needs to come of carosel! Enough said uggh 2.) We Get on ship and go to room about 1:30ish room looks done so we go and settle in..sit on bed and sheets are dirty..hair, holes and toilet paper! Yuck Called Guest Serv. and they said we had to wait for our steward to be on duty! whattt...WoW! Had to wait 1hr before we saw steward(Pedro)and he blamed housekeeping for dirty sheets because turnover is very fast!! No Excuse!! Bathroom also had sewage smell and needed to be re-cleaned. 3.)Violated privacy and watched me dress! Twice, without notice written or verbal, Carnival employees were on my balcony cleaning early in morning aNd were looking in when I was dressing. Yes, looking room!!! We always keep drapes open to get the ocean feel!! Unacceptable Went to pursers and was brushed off! 4.)Third day into Cruise our cabin was not cleaned! Ran into steward in hall and said "oh, sorry I have to have key in by certain time and didn't make it to your room...You need to call housekeeping if you want your cabin cleaned!" Now, Excuse me! Another issue pursers desk blew off! 5.)Carnival employees in Pasta Bar have the nerve to talk about Guests right in front of us!! This happened on numerous occasions(we ate lunch there each day)and once was about our own child because he ordered an extra plate of pasta! Unbelieveable 6.)Purchased Soda cards 1 adult 1 child...Son was accused of using card from another Cruise! Child ,14 yr old, should never be accused period!! We were furious with the nerve to confront a child!! Bar manager looked on Sign&Sail card and saw purchase Than apologized for Carnivals Mistake by giving wrong card and not new process of Soda sticker! WoW it justs keeps getting worse!! 7.)Constant sewage smell on ship! Toilet constantly clogged for no reason! Maint. man Rude and knows NO english..twice told us lines clogged on Ship! Disgusting!! Pursers ,once again, didn't care! 8.)Staff member complaining that on this Newest Biggest Ship the Dream..Staff was only increased by 10% and that is reason for poor and non-existent service! Unacceptable 9.)Don't expect room service when you order it! Ours never came twice!! To Sum this all up..Yes, Carnival has cut Way Back on Service and Food! Buffets were very scarce and constantly had to ask for food to be brought out! Desserts were duplicated a few days! Lines were constant!! Having proper amount of staff for this Biggest ship would have prevented this!! The most pleasant experience we had was sitting at bar by casino..staff constantly wonderful and attentive whole Cruise! Dining room was OK but Server Soo Over worked that meals took very long! Guests (including us)were constantly complaing amongst eachother the issues we were experiencing and how unhappy and disappointed we all were!! Heard a constant comment that they will never cruise with Carnival again. Shows were enjoyable, a must see is the show Dancin in the streets!! The Fun Crew(break dancers)Great addition to Entertainment!! Comedians very funny.. Jeff the fun dude, the Ship could do without! Not funny and very aggresive! Slide's (Twister and Drainpipe) super fun! Entertainment was Great and would go into late hours of nite!! BuT, if any issue's are experienced Carnival does not care!! Also purchase coffee, the coffee included is terrible! And some staff more into eachother and goofing off than guest they are there to serve! They always say, You get what you pay for!If you have $3200 for4(2 adults & 2 children) to flush down the toilet than Carnival is for you! I will Never Cruise with Carnival again because, just to think if a Major issue does come up, You are on Your Own!!And to think that this is Carnival's Newest and Biggest Ship, And Sevice and Experience this Poor! I am going to take other passengers advice and try Royal Carribbean, it is more $$ but well worth it we were advised!! This was a Very Honest and Sincere review in Hopes to help others! Was very nervous because there were many poor reviews before our Cruise but we were already booked before Dream even set sail!! advice...Sail Carnival at your own risk if you have the money to waste!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
The ship is really beautiful, the decor is the best I've seen on any cruise line. They had it decorated for Christmas from top to bottom, every area was decorated with Christmas lights and trees. We were so excited about trying the ... Read More
The ship is really beautiful, the decor is the best I've seen on any cruise line. They had it decorated for Christmas from top to bottom, every area was decorated with Christmas lights and trees. We were so excited about trying the food from an Italian cruise line, but the food was terrrible. We always try the main dinning room for dinner but after two nights we had enough of the terrrible service and the food, our server had only 3 tables to take care of and we always had to ask for stuff, on most cruise lines after one night the sever knows what each guest is drinking but not this one. We were expecting some great Italian food not just spaghetti everynight, and WHO EVER HEARD OF CHARGING FOR WATER, that's something we all need to live, come on after paying the cruise price at least through in the bottled water. We tried the French restaurant but the food was just fair, after, the food in the tex-mex place was ok, but the best food was in the sports bar we had some fish and chips in there that were great, the buffet area was ok, not much of a choice, always had pizza not to good. The bar service was the best on any cruise line and they don't skimp on the liquor in all the drinks. But come on charging for WATER, we need that to live. They do sell bottle water coupons so buy them if you drink alot of water, they also have beer coupons, wine coupons, and mixed drink coupons, we only bought the bottled water coupons because we drink alot of water. The rooms are really spacious, we had a room with a balcony and loved it, my daughter spent alot of time in there since there was not many activies planned throught out the day and the weather was alittle cool so you couldn't lay out around the pool. The shows at nigth were great, the best we've seen at sea and this was our 15th cruise, but they do not serve drinks in the theater, you could bring on in but no where to set them down since there where not tables. Really check on this cruise before you go and take snacks in your suite case cause you'll need them. We were worried about the language barrier, but had not problem, and unlike other carnival they do not bug you to have those picture's made all the time. The only good thing about this cruise was the ports and you can catch the ship at any of the ports which worked out for us since we wanted to spend extra nights at some of the ports. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
our cruise ship left from tenerife. We arrived at the port after a very good flight. Unlike other cruises we had to manhandle our luggage from airport to bus and from bus to quayside. The crew then took it to our cabin. With a repeat on ... Read More
our cruise ship left from tenerife. We arrived at the port after a very good flight. Unlike other cruises we had to manhandle our luggage from airport to bus and from bus to quayside. The crew then took it to our cabin. With a repeat on the return journey. We were given our cabin key cards and went to our cabin.it was fairly large and quite reasonably appointed, apart for the mattresses which were like palliasses. The noise level in the cabin was very high with a fog horn noise followed by a thump this went on constantly through the night accompanied by some weird noises behind the bed headboard. When the ship moved all this was accompanied by the cabins creaks and groans. Not being the complaining kind we tried to adapt to it. On the third night it was so bad that I lay awake at4pm and then it dawned on me the weird noise behind the headboard was the sound like RATS make inches from our heads as you can figure out we got no sleep that night. Complained to be told no rats on ship but would see if they could organise us another cabin(jolly decent of them). Back to cabin to discover infestation of horrible bugs. It was like the flat in Pacific heights. Had enough back to the poor wee lassie on reception. Told her I didn't care if it was rats, cats or troop of rampaging baboons behind the wall get me another cabin. We were given another cabin instantly, it seems being decent is not the answer. The couple next door also complained about their cabins rat like noises and were moved. I do not need to see the guests to know the neighbours are having a party next door. Moved down to bow to naughty cabin only thing missing are manacles. This cabin is a reverse tardis, also forgot to mention plugs are not UK so require an adaptor, Really clever or what. Beds better no room for cases had to leave open under bed. My bed poor, bum in case a few times discover reason , slats missing from bed allowing them to open up.Drains stank on and off for the rest of the trip. The noise on the move was incredible, bits of paper jammed in fittings and roof panels witnessed previous attempts (of those who have gone before)to silence the noise. We thought we were on the onedin line. We didn't' ask for a move as we were told by others that the whole ship was like this. Ongoing problem with toilets 200 passengers disembarked to allow repairs spend night in hotel. Constant leaking of water from ceilings. Plumber pops into 1st cabin on regular basis (no knock)as we are plumbing centre. If he had popped in a second sooner he might have got a fright as the wife had just stepped out of the shower. On the plus side great crew and captain they deserve a better ship than this. Food great to better. Entertainment team talented, it is slightly repetitive,musicals opera, opera musicals, comics were great and the guest singer super. The theatre is almost all one level which makes it difficult to see.The swimming pool is a joke. This ship is a 28 years old converted car ferry with jerry built cabins and it shows. To put the icing on the cake we missed ports because of bad weather. This ship has put us off cruising for life. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Let me first start this review by saying I have Been on NUMEROUS cruises with other cruise lines and twice with NCL. Once prior to "Freestyle" cruising and once just after it started. I can certainly say that ... Read More
Let me first start this review by saying I have Been on NUMEROUS cruises with other cruise lines and twice with NCL. Once prior to "Freestyle" cruising and once just after it started. I can certainly say that "freestyle" cruising and NCL "ain't" what it use to be. DINING - On our last "Freestyle" cruise, Freestyle really meant freestyle and far as food went. Eat where you want when you want. They had two FREE Main dining rooms where you could eat at any time, Two FREE specialty restaurants, reservation required and two "ADDITIONAL CHARGE" restaurants. NOW...... Two Main overcrowded free dining rooms reservation required and a multitude of SPECIALTY restaurants all for An Additional Fee of 10 - 25 dollars PER PERSON. With the Exception of Cagney's Steakhouse the food in all these restaurants is average at best. For a family of four that's 40 to 100 dollars EXTRA PER MEAL. If you didn't scramble for a reservation (LONG LINE) early in the morning, you where in for a long wait or dinner at 9pm. BUFFET - The Food at the one Buffet was above average for a cruise ship. It was EXTREMELY crowed and you could find a place to sit most of the time. I don't know if it was to UPSCALE or because of Health reasons but ALL the food was served to you by NCL staff. You couldn't touch anything and I mean ANYTHING. At first thought this may seem nice but try to explain to a staff member with limited English skill how much ketchup you want on you burger. Ask for carrots get broccoli. Don't even get me started on the salad bar (A 20 minute ordeal. They wouldn't even let you get your own water. I was never so thirsty on a cruise. At about cruise day four after a guest REVOLT the buffet reverted to its prior self and all was well. PS the worst and most limited desserts on any cruise. STAFF - The staff overall was OK. I think the added rules really stressed them out and friendliness suffered. I have to say though that this was really the first cruise I have every been on that a Language barrier existed. I constantly have to explain and reexplain myself to no avail. Frustration was a prime cruise theme. I also believe that because there is No tipping and just a GENERAL daily service charge per person that service suffers. The staff also seemed ill-informed about EVERYTHING. I don't know or more likely a blank stare was the return to most questions PRIVATE ISLAND - Again the private island was OK. This was a full cruise 2,500 guests. The island was NOT equipped for this many people, lack of chairs etc.....(more than enough waiters asking you if you want a drink.) One of the general themes of the cruise was, if an extra charge was applicable enough staff was available). ITINERARY - I would NOT recommend this cruise in the cold of winter. Leaving from NYC in DECEMBER gave us 3 -4 days of cold weather. There Definitely is not enough going on on the GEM to keep you occupied these days OVERALL NCL NEVER AGAIN Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Me and my wife have taken 5 cruises before this one and have decided that this time we will take our oldest daughter with us since it was a new year cruise as a reward for student of the month. W have tried many different cruise companies ... Read More
Me and my wife have taken 5 cruises before this one and have decided that this time we will take our oldest daughter with us since it was a new year cruise as a reward for student of the month. W have tried many different cruise companies we started with Carnival fun ship and went on to royal Caribbean and graduated to Celebrity. We thought this would be an equal class as celebrity or at least Royal Caribbean boy were we mistaken. Where can I begin: 1. Getting on the ship easy not too much trouble cards given passed checkpoint entered the ship guide yourself no directions no take this elevator not that because it only goes to 6th floor you need 4th floor after making some adjustments finally arrived at the cabin. 2. The cabin is tight not much room for three we made due, bathroom very roomy half the cabin just enough room for bathroom and bed the rest is standing room only. The room was made up nice but had a few issues about cleanliness. When the mandatory fire drill came i found an empty beer can right next to the life jackets. I left it there thinking he forgot to clean it, no it remained there all week he simply did not bother to remove the empty can. I requested a child's life preserver it never came. My daughter wanted an extra pillow i pulled one out from the closet it had lipstick markings on it from the previous passenger. 3. The ship is built in Germany it rides and feels like a smooth BMW. Decoration by IKEA. Everywhere you look is smooth laminated, minimalistic, no glare, unimpressive, lackluster interior. Huge underutilised screen fills the entire wall showing hypnotic faceless images. almost non existent stores which is the good part very little merchandise. Smoky casino in the middle of the ship always crowded with more smokers than gamblers. 4. Entertainment was poor only two shows that were good the production is High School quality and poorly choreographed. Andy the cruise director tried to make the most of what he had to work with but small stage and only 8 dancers created more confusion then entertainment. Comedy show was only funny to the comedian and no one else. 5. Food is questionable. If you are going to the free restaurants the service is slow Magenta being the best one staff super friendly at the restaurants. Limited unchanging menu forcing you to eat at the paid restaurants. aisian and Hibachi food mediocre and service horrendous I ordered sushi wife and daughter ordered seafood my sushi came before their appetizer. Food quality very poor equivalent of red lobster or TGIF. Italian better service food equivalent to Olive garden limited menu. Viv la France the french restaurant was the better choice super expensive cost us $100 not including the drinks. Limited menu the appetisers were better than the meal so we went twice goose pate and escargot were the main source of food happiness. My daughter was fed up with chicken nuggets and fries. The Spanish restaurants main commercialised dish was build it yourself fajita, I think that says it all. Drinks are not cheap no specialty, theme bars like Carnival. 6. Port of calls Cape Canaveral we arrived at 1pm getting on the buss es was a never ending hassle bringing us to Universal Studios at 2:30 with a time of departure at 7:15pm leaving us a few hours at universal. The lines were staggering time permitting to go to 3 rides and back on the bus. Bahamas first island was so small and costing $150 pp to get to shore. It was actually comical. Second island was at the nassau island still costing money to get to Atlantis royal caribbean provided free transport to Atlantis and a free tour. 7. Trip home was slow choppy and boring nothing to do on the ship wii is only for 1 hour during the day nowhere to eat because of a trick schedule and totally boring. I don't think we will ever cruise with NCL again I would trade that for a Fun ship any day. The ship was filled with crowds of drunken teenagers with nothing to do and no place to hide a poor example for my eight year old. NCL unpolished GEM I am very disappointed. Cabin 4602 Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Embarkation was extremely stress free in Port Canaveral. The Ship is much larger than the Conquest Class and holds some 1000 more people than it's predecessor class, but has the same amount of Elevators. During peak times, trying to ... Read More
Embarkation was extremely stress free in Port Canaveral. The Ship is much larger than the Conquest Class and holds some 1000 more people than it's predecessor class, but has the same amount of Elevators. During peak times, trying to get an elevator on this ship is next to impossible. Hooray for a larger Promenade and Atlantic Dec with a nice flow through. Very little smoking allowed inside so it was a pleasure for us as non-smokers! The Water slides and Splash park are extremely entertaining for kids and adults alike. Ironically there are no long line ups for the slides. Outside Lido Deck, like the Splendor is 2 tiered and offers better outside dinning or lounging options though it would of been nice to have the Splendor's retractable roof for rainy days. Casual Dinning is overcrowded always!!! Forget the Mongolian Grill unless you want to wait over 45 minutes in the line-up. Past Cruisers always complained about Lido Deck line-ups. This cruise adds 1000 extra people and really does not address the proble, it made it worse. The shows were terrific! Again, to get a seat in the main Encore Theater arrive 45 minutes before the show starts. The ship decor is beautifully bright throughout. The hallways are identical to the Splendors 1940's nostalgia. We had a balcony stateroom and Carnival has done away with some of the clutter furniture placing the flat screen directly on the wall. Housekeeping and dinning staff were wonderful - very prompt and attentive. Our biggest pet peeve was Camp Carnival. We had memos illustrating the food choices and activities for the young ones, only to find out that they had no choices and were given cold food. Our kids have been on 4 cruises in the past 2 years and were totally disappointed with the staff, activities and food that they begged us not to go. There is nothing more disappointing than telling your child they are playing all kinds of video and trivia games tonight only to find out that they were forced to sit down and watch a movies, and so forth... Needless to say they stooped going after the 3rd day. Camp Carnival seemed to be crowded and the staff appeared to be overwhelmed to the point of arrogance. We will be cruising in the Sailing again, but on a smaller ship.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Just got off a Western Caribbean itinerary on the Costa Fortuna. I love cruising with my family and have been to Alaska on Carnival, Western Caribbean with Disney and Costa and Eastern Caribbean with Century and Carnival in the past 18 ... Read More
Just got off a Western Caribbean itinerary on the Costa Fortuna. I love cruising with my family and have been to Alaska on Carnival, Western Caribbean with Disney and Costa and Eastern Caribbean with Century and Carnival in the past 18 months. The other cruises were awesome and had food, staff and entertainment that exceeded my expectations. Not so on the Fortuna. The staff were generally very nice. The food was poor. I like to cook and eat and the food we eat everyday at home is far, far better than on the Fortuna. They literally overcooked all meat. Fish, pork, chicken, beef - all thoroughly overcooked. Variety was also sorely lacking. I ended up looking forward to getting into port just so I could go get a descent meal on land that didn't resemble what I'd been eating on board. The entertainment was weak. Disney was by far the best for family entertainment but Century and Carnival had several shows that we could all enjoy. The Fortuna's shows were strange. Think scuba diver climbing a rope with projection fish in the background followed a bit later by Irish dancing and an Italian singing Oh Danny Boy. Weird... The positives- Kids camp was good and my daughters enjoyed it. On par with Carnival, not equal to Disney, better than Century. The New Years party was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, for me and my family, the poor food and so-so entertainment made this the worst of my recent cruising experiences. No desire to repeat on Fortuna or Costa for that matter. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
I promised I would write a review so here it is, as real as I can make it from a very seasoned cruiser....Overall impression of cruise, ship, entertainment and service = 5/10. Embarkation/debarkation - very efficient and speedy. well ... Read More
I promised I would write a review so here it is, as real as I can make it from a very seasoned cruiser....Overall impression of cruise, ship, entertainment and service = 5/10. Embarkation/debarkation - very efficient and speedy. well done CCL for that! The ship is nice looking, decor is average but tasteful. Cabin - nothing different, reasonable storage for 2 passengers, usual small shower, flat screen tv that only had approx 10 stations, 4 or 5 of which were ship related...small balcony and no privacy at all. I had an aft cabin and the balcony space was much smaller than an aft on Legend/Miracle..... Yes, the ship sure rocks and shudders when pulling into/out of port, one night it started at 4am for over an hour.....I usually have an aft on many other cruises and this was extreme room shaking, shuddering! I was lax in checking below me when I booked as room choice was minimal for New Years, so found I was directly over the Burgundy lounge...lots of loud music many nights until very late...my fault there. Food - actually majority of meals in Dining room were pretty good, an improvement on RCCL, which claims superior food, NOT. Carnival did well and had a good selection of choices. Lido food was average, nothing special...BUT they really need to change the layout of the salad/main bar areas. If you only wanted the main meal, you still have to join the line and wait for everyone to go thru the salad bar to get to the main meal area...def need to make the salad bar area seperate...very crowded and disorganized. Desserts nothing special there either, pretty tasteless and bland. The Tandoori/Indian bar was ok, Naan bread good, but same items every day. No hot curries....Deli, good, same as every other ship, and very long lines too! Entertainment - The shows were fairly good and enjoyable, tho the lead female singer had such a powerful voice, it was so loud as if she were shouting....needs to tone it down a bit, but still pretty good. Never had a problem getting a good seat at any time. The CD - Todd, was cute, and easy on the eyes but I did not observe much of a personality, tho I enjoyed watching him, he had a good speaking voice. His assistants were uninspiring and dull, very amateurish. They have a new concept with the aft lounge, Burgundy lounge, to make this a comedy club instead of the usual great filipino bands you get there on other ships or in a location on the promenade deck....not my thing. Missed having a filipino band as they would always play such a great variety of music and usually very talented. They had a Caliente (latin music) club and another area on the promenade deck with a female singer and 2 country looking guys....very average. No refined ballroom dancing music for the older folks to enjoy and dance to...my Mother was very disappointed. The Piano bar looked like a lot of fun but the smoke hit you almost 200yds away, so being a non-smoker and allergic,l I could never go there, looked like folks were having so much fun there too. The nightclub was also very smoky! ugh! So evening entertainment was limited for us unfortunately. Sunloungers - oh my, such chair hogging...amazing. At 7.30a you would find rows and rows of loungers already with towels and personal belongings on them to reserve,they would stay empty for 2-3 hrs I witnessed on 2 occasions and no deck patrol/security to monitor this. Pools - a much larger ship, more passengers but the pools were tiny!ridiculous, and no seperate pool for adults, so forget a little swim...3 strokes and you did a length! but then you would also have to avoid kids doing cannon balls....wonderful! It was very obvious to see that CCL are economizing and cutting back on things, drink prices had increased, no more punch cards for the daily drinks and coffee,staff were stressed and didn't appear too happy, tho service was good. Room service very prompt. Perks....being a Platinum/VIP guest really was of no benefit, unlike RCCL, Carnival really do not recognize this well. a plate of icky appetizers twice and a repetitive photo frame...that was it. forget the priority tendering ...doesn't happen.Not even a free bottle of water in the cabin! Overall it was a fairly relaxing cruise, but not one I would do again...The Dream was built to increase capacity with extra passengers/cabins, but public areas were small and some deficits with planning in the dining areas... Forgot to mention this was a New Years Cruise! the New Year was brought in by DJ music, I think there was a live band for a short while...so crowded so no room to dance etc, atmosphere was very bland, tho champagne seemed plentiful, but again, very low key....we enjoyed ourselves of course, but have had more energetic New Years on other cruises... I may cruise with CCL again but probably on Legend/Miracle/Glory..... Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
First the good bits: 1. We booked a suite (E732) Cheaper than 2 cabins with a massive balcony at the back of the ship) and received a number of benefits including: * Free (slow) Internet access both on the PCs on deck 5 as well as WIFI ... Read More
First the good bits: 1. We booked a suite (E732) Cheaper than 2 cabins with a massive balcony at the back of the ship) and received a number of benefits including: * Free (slow) Internet access both on the PCs on deck 5 as well as WIFI all over the ship. This saved us nearly $700 * Free laundry and dry cleaning. Saving about $200 * Fresh flowers * Canapes fruit in our room each day * Free access to the thermal suite but they didn't have one ! * Great coffee bar on deck 5 with light breakfast and sandwiches all day * 'Movies under the stars' is brilliant * Great all day Pizza on deck 14 * Embarkation and departure arrangements were very good Now the not so good bits: * The quality of food left a lot to be desired. Bland and tasteless with very limited options for vegetarians. * The waiting staff were dis-organised and clearly inexperienced. The head waiter was almost invisible and visited our table only 4 times in 14 days. * The buffet food was more like a poor version of school dinners and inedible * Our cabin steward was clueless about the benefits that we should have received and we had to ask for everything we should have received automatically * The entertainment was lame and dull. The best acts were the magician (gaytano) and the passenger's talent contest on the last night * My wife and I attended a seminar on board and had a 'Body composition analysis' which cost $35 each after which we decided not to subscribe to their $200 per month program for both of us as it 33% of that price by buying on-line. The 'rep' didn't like this and after I paid the $70 invoice and left, he then added a 15% tip 5 MINUTES AFTER I LEFT which was UNAUTHORISED. WATCH OUT FOR THIS AND CHECK YOUR BILL. * It took 20 minutes for the pursers office to verify and cancel this charge ! * According to our children the kids clubs didn't warrant returning to after the first visit. * Cocktails all taste the same as they use mixers which are horrible * The tours that princess offer are ridiculously expensive. An example is the Whale watching in Maui which costs $70 on the ship and can be bought as soon as you leave the ship for $18 * Swimming pool temp typically 70-75. Too cold. * The gym lacks effective air con so you end up getting really hot, really quickly. * My advise when the ship stops at Ensenda is DONT GET OFF. It really is the pits. You have been warned .... In summary, it wasn't for us. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009

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