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5,479 Family Cruise Reviews

My husband & I have cruised over 30 times with many different companies but had never taken an NCL cruise. We decided to give NCL "freestyle" a try. The ship and cabin were very nice. Freestyle dining was not free in most ... Read More
My husband & I have cruised over 30 times with many different companies but had never taken an NCL cruise. We decided to give NCL "freestyle" a try. The ship and cabin were very nice. Freestyle dining was not free in most cases. Most of the restaurants had a surcharge of $10-$25 per person. We decided to have breakfast & lunch in the Garden Cafe and eat dinner in the 2 free main dining rooms. Service in both dining rooms was very slow. The food was fair to poor. I ordered a margarita the first night and it was the absolute worst margarita I have ever had in my life. I told the waiter it was terrible, he took it back, supposedly added more tequila and gave it back to me. It was still bad. I would not order a drink on this ship unless it would be beer or wine since they can't mess beer and wine up. (I never ordered another drink from any bar.) The second night, it took an hour to get our main entree and my husband could not cut his pork chop with a steak knife. He had to stop someone to get a cup of coffee. I was never asked or offered coffee, tea, a drink anything. I ordered a fish entree both nights and both nights it came served over noodles. No variety here. Our cabin was not serviced the second night - he came by @ 9:45 & I said to forget it. TV channels very poor. The University of Florida Football team ranked at that time # 1 in the nation and the game was being televised on CBS at 3:30. Could we see the game? No, not available. I asked. I asked where there was a sports bar hoping to watch the game. Sorry no sports bar either. We wanted to try NCL out since the Epic will begin sailing beginning this summer. I don't think we will, if you have to pay extra money to get service and a decent meal. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
I have to say that I have never cruised before, and never really had any interest until another family asked if we would be interested in going with them. We thought this would be a good idea as we both have 10 year old daughters who are ... Read More
I have to say that I have never cruised before, and never really had any interest until another family asked if we would be interested in going with them. We thought this would be a good idea as we both have 10 year old daughters who are good friends. Let me say that my husband and I have traveled extensively in the Carribean prior to our daughter being born, and a few times since. We generally stay at all inclusive resorts. Our favorite thing is to lay in the sun, eat and drink. We thought that a cruise would be ideal, especially Disney so that our daughter would have the time of her life. We stayed at the Hilton Orlando at the Convention Center for three days prior to our cruise. the hotel is brand new and was wonderful. the morning of our cruise we arrived at the terminal at 10:30. I didn't realize that the ship was just discharging passangers and that it would leave again in a few hours. Needless to say we spent alot of time in the cruise terminal. there is nothing to do, other than take pictures with the few characters that come out. Once on board we had something to eat and waited for our luggage to arrive. It was finally brought to our cabin at 5p.m. just in time to change for dinner. We had requested a late dinner, but somehow it was changed to the early seating. I was very disappointed in our cabin, I expected it to be small, but a catagory 11 was minisule, and badly in need of updating. I asked to upgrade, but every cabin was booked. People had told me not to spend the extra dollars to get a window or balcony as you don't spend much time in the cabin. I was very sorry that I didn't. I had to turn on the TV to see what it was like out in the morning. Many people like an interior cabin, as the kids will "sleep in", but I felt like I was in a cave. Also as the ship was sold out, it was very crowded everywhere, and a balcony may have given me some feeling of space. The first morning on the way to breakfast I walked by the kids pool, the 4ft. deep one. My impression was that it looked like blue raspberry slush, with popsicle sticks stuck in it. It was so packed with kids, that I don't think they could even raise thier arms, let alone swim. I had hoped to spend some time at this pool with my husband and daughter, but no way in that crowd. My daughter will spend 8 hrs a day swimming but this didn't interest her other than to cool off. I spent some time at the adults pool, but that felt very crowded also. Had a tough time finding a lounge chair. I have been told since that all ships pools are tiny like this. We did thoughly enjoy the food on board. Our only complaint was having the first seating for dinner, I felt that we were being rushed, so they could get ready for the late seating. Our servers also had a large family reunion type group to wait on, and they pretty much got all the attenion. Palo was fabulous we had both brunch and dinner there. A couple of the shows were great, the others just ok, however my daughter enjoyed all of them. There is a definate lack of things to do though for the adults late evening. As far as the kids club and kids my daughters age in general, Disney really missed the mark with them. Both her and her friend thought the kids club was lame, and that only the little kids on the ship got any attenion from the characters or the staff. We did enjoy our shore excusions, though very expensive and not worth the money. In Key West we did our own thing, however had to rush back to the ship, and did not get to enjoy the sunset party. In Grand Cayman, we swam with the Dolphins, did the Turtle Farm, and went to the beach. Beach was great. In Cozmel we went to the Tulum ruins. Although the ruins were interesting getting there was very long and involved a very rough ferry ride, a 10 minute walk thru town to get on a bus, and an hour bus ride. During the bus ride our tour guide announced we would be stopping to get sandwiches. Well the bus did stop behind an abandoned restaurant, and a truck pulled up and handed the driver a cardboard box! it had sandwiches in it that were wrapped in Subway wrappers, mini muffins, some kind of peanuts. Water was served from a litre bottle in paper cups. Talk about trashy!!!!! This was a Disney excursion! Also at the ruins were were looking forward to going swimming however we were not even allowed onto the sand as the waves were to rough. Our tour guide only talked about himself and his family, we didn't really learn much about the Mayan culture. In closing let me say that I was very disappointed with the cruise. I felt that it was very very expensive, definitely not work the money. We didn't even try to do much on the ship, but everything was a rush to get to, they rush to the next thing. I expected that the characters would be seen around the ship. No that was something else that you would have to rush to go stand in line to see. I actually could not wait to get off the ship. My husband and daughter did enjoy it slightly more than I did, but hubby agreed that the amount of money we spent, we could have done at least two all inclusive luxury vacations. And a drink would not have been $8.00 each. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
This was our 2ND Disney voyage, and we have in excess of 20 previous cruises, thus our comparisons to this crappy cruise. What a change in 3 short years. Those things we most enjoyed 3 years ago-the food, staff, and especially the Wonder ... Read More
This was our 2ND Disney voyage, and we have in excess of 20 previous cruises, thus our comparisons to this crappy cruise. What a change in 3 short years. Those things we most enjoyed 3 years ago-the food, staff, and especially the Wonder itself were a portion of this trips problems. The stateroom-2631 was very noisy from the kitchen area above us and this was so bad even our young ones were kept awake during the night from the constant racket. After numerous trips and guest services facing an ugly guest trying to vacation on less than 4 hours sleep for 2 nights, we were finally changed to room 7594. This was a balcony, and with 2 young ones, the very reason we booked an inside initially. This room was very quiet, however my wife missed Castaway Cay as all our belongings had to be packed and unpacked the day we were at Castaway. In our opinion the adult food was crap- the worst experienced on any past cruise. Tough beef, salmon dried out,vegetables not cooked[broccoli, cauli, carrots], the seared tuna was awful, the crabcake was cool [not warm but cool] to give a few examples. Also, we found the desserts to be all show and not very tasty. The one good part of the food was that the boys liked the macaroni, hamburgs, chicken fingers and the mickey mouse ice cream. The shows were great, the characters were everywhere on the ship, and the kids pool, though busy was a real hit with our young ones. We felt the ship is showing her age and is a little tired. Service wise, we found the dining room service well below expectations. In our 1st room, we found a pair of socks left under the bed from previous occupants, and the housekeeping in the youth pool area and hamburg-pizza area was not cleaned very good over night. Loved the sandwich area, the few bar areas we frequented were good service. Oceaneers Club worked out super, and guest services was good but took some convincing of our needs. All in all, if Disney can continue to fill their ships at their high price level, they will have to do so without us, as the next 2 grandkids will not be cruising Disney. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Background Information: Knew this was an older ship, but had higher expectations considering it is a renovated ship and it is Royal Caribbean. Ship Info Ship was built in 1992 and was renovated in 2007. The public areas are nice and well ... Read More
Background Information: Knew this was an older ship, but had higher expectations considering it is a renovated ship and it is Royal Caribbean. Ship Info Ship was built in 1992 and was renovated in 2007. The public areas are nice and well maintained. The rooms and hallways are horrible. Activities The activities were good on the ship. It had a decent basketball court, though the rim was bent sideways and higher on one side than the other. The rock climbing wall was nice and it had ping pong. Service: We never did see our stateroom attendant. We had a room for 3 people and the room was only setup for 2 people. We let the reception desk know about this at 8pm and they said they'd take care of it immediately. We turned in for the evening about midnight just to find it was never done. We had to return to reception to ask a second time for the room to be setup for 3 people. Port & Shore Excursions: The excursions in Coco Cay and Nassau were very good and there were a lot of them. It would be nice if the inflatable playground in the beach in Atlantis and the inflatable slide was included as part of your cruise. Didn't think it was right to charge separate charges if you wanted to do either of them. Did find it fair to charge for snorkeling equipment, wave runners, and parasailing. In Nassau, Atlantis cost an arm and a leg. You can save yourself $50 per person by just taking a taxi there ($10 pp) and paying the hotel directly once you're there for your activities. Stateroom Our room had stains all over. On the walls, on the ceiling. The bathroom was NASTY. The shower curtain was a faded nasty yellowish color. The toilet and tiles were full of oxidation. The bathroom smelled of sewage even though we had not even used it. The hallways by the stateroom also smelled of sewage. These bad smells were found in our friends staterooms also who were on different floors. The bathroom was tiny. You could barely fit in there. The only thing that seemed new that we could identify as looking like it was improved in the room during the renovation was the flat panel TV. Though it was placed at the head of the bed in our cabin - can't understand that. Dining Windjammer buffet, Johnny Rockets, and Deli were very nice and well renovated. They charge you extra to eat at Johnny Rockets, don't understand that...was on Independence of the Seas in May 2008 and did not have to pay extra to eat at Johnny Rockets on that ship. The service was mediocre. The dining staff was nice but extremely slow. We had late seating - 8:45pm start time. We were in there till almost 11pm on our first night. It took 30 minutes for our waiter to even take our order. There was no filet mignon or lobster on the dinner menus, not even on the gala night. They actually showed filet mignon on the dinner menu with a price next to it where you had to pay $15 in order to get one. Never have I been on a cruise that did not give you filet mignon and/or lobster on gala night and even less so, where they would ask you to pay extra for it. Found this in very bad taste. Entertainment There was a very good comedian and an excellent magician that had the audience amazed and extremely entertained. Disembarkation We chose to disembark extra early at 7:15 am and had no problems getting off the ship. The elevators on the ship become very difficult to use as everyone is trying to disembark and get around and they all come full and you have to wait a while to be able to get one, but besides that, disembarkation was smooth. Summary The ship's itinerary was great. Had plenty of time on shore at the ports of call (8am - 5pm each day). Ship activities were great. Ship's public places were nicely renovated. Ship's staterooms and hallways were HORRIBLE. Smelled very bad throughout hallways and staterooms. Stained walls with mildew and tiny bathrooms. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Our family tries to go on a cruise every year and we usually sail with Royal Caribbean and Princess, but this cruise with Norwegian was at a time when the whole family could attend. This experience was lackluster and sub-par in most ... Read More
Our family tries to go on a cruise every year and we usually sail with Royal Caribbean and Princess, but this cruise with Norwegian was at a time when the whole family could attend. This experience was lackluster and sub-par in most arenas. Service was poor most of the time, drinks were either burnt or too sweet, the food was OKAY, the specialty restaurant we went to was awful, the shore excursion we took was terrible, and we will not be cruising with Norwegian again based on this experience. Overall grade: D First, Norwegian boasts a "freestyle dining" experience, with many specialty restaurants (which you must make reservations for 24 hours in advance and pay extra per person); but, the experience was extremely strict. The buffet was only open during certain hours, and only one restaurant was open 24 hours and it took 45 minutes on average to receive anything from it. Room service wasn't available every night, and you could only eat at one dining room during breakfast and lunch. My sister has a 1 year old and it was very difficult for her to have any kind of schedule when the buffet was not open and it took 30 minutes to get a glass of milk for the baby. Additionally, the dining room hostesses were discriminatory against us as we saw many people wearing shorts during dinner while my husband was turned away as unacceptable (many Hispanics were given preferential treatment during the cruise - I am mostly Hispanic, but my husband is Caucasian). The specialty restaurant we attended (Teppanyaki) was more of a disaster than anything else. The chefs were watched so closely by their superiors that they were afraid to do anything but clean the grill the entire time! I've had better experiences watching the sandwich crafters at Subway. The food was too salty, the rice was horrible, and the service was pushy. Overall grade: F- We LOVED the shower! We had a balcony stateroom and it was fairly average (a bit smaller) than on Royal and Princess, but the shower was great! Instead of the clingy shower curtain it was a separate stall with a glass sliding door. Fabulous. The stateroom and bathroom itself was actually quite dingy and not very clean. Overall grade: B- The comedic entertainers were very good and they did have some activities on board that were interesting. The cruise director did have some fun shows (like "Dancing with the Pearl Stars") and the regular Newlywed Game show and others. Overall grade: B- The excursion on the Dominican Republic that we went on cost $70 a person for a "Waterfall Hike" that led you through a trail of muddy rocks covered in horse feces. When we arrived at the destination we were told that we would need boot waders, but of course everyone was in sandals so the shore excursion guide has us purchase socks for $4 a pair (what a scam). None of us were aware we would need boots. There were also a group of natives (mostly children) whom the tour guide offered for their services as, get this, individual tour guides! As long as we could tip them of course. After NO ONE wanted an additional tour guide for an additional fee after paying for some stupid socks, we began our hike, but the entire group of native children decided to accompany us anyway and "help" us along the trail (by forcefully grabbing our hands, arms, and belongings). Needless to say, I broke out in a rash after the hike and then was diagnosed with a strep infection. We also overhead many other guests on the cruise talk of their excursions - one of which was a poor man who was accosted by a group of criminals and was forced to throw his belongings on the ground and run away. Some of the ATV shore excursion guests had their belongings cut off from the ATVs and stolen. What a horrible experience! Overall grade: FFFFFF- I DO NOT recommend anyone cruise with this line (or at least on this ship), as the service was awful, the food was just average (we get better food at restaurants at home), and for the price you can cruise with Princess or Royal Caribbean and have a friendlier, safer, and tastier experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
My 35 year old brother and I (32) took our parents on a cruise for their anniversary for the 3rd consecutive year. Since we don't spend a lot of time in the room, we've always gotten one interior cabin for the four of us. This ... Read More
My 35 year old brother and I (32) took our parents on a cruise for their anniversary for the 3rd consecutive year. Since we don't spend a lot of time in the room, we've always gotten one interior cabin for the four of us. This has never been a problem (more on this soon). There is a popular line on CruiseCritic that "cruising is better than not cruising". I like to say "cruising is better than working" (or not working is better than working). With those lines in mind, we had a good time, but we are sure we would have had a better time on a different line. We all flew in the day before the cruise and stayed at the Miami Airport Regency Hotel. This hotel is best described as a place that maybe used to be a really nice hotel, but it has slid a bit. It isn't the Ritz, but it is not a bad place to spend a night. I would not recommend this hotel for a week's stay in Miami, but for our purposes it was perfect. They offer free shuttle service every 30 mins to/from the Miami Airport. They also offer free shuttle service to the Port of Miami. These services alone saved us about $50. The room was only $90 for 4 adults, and included a decent breakfast ordered off a menu as well as one free drink per person and one free appetizer per room. You can walk to either the Catch of the Day or the Latin Cafe for dinner. Embarkation was a breeze, but after enjoying our first meal on the ship, we ran into our first problem. None of the key cards for our room worked, so I had to go down to the desk and stand in line for 20 mins and then spend another 10 mins discussing the problem with the staff. Meanwhile, my Dad stood in the hallway with our bags. Before I left to go down, two room stewards passed by and refused to assist us with the situation. Their best solution was that our room steward would return in half an hour. The woman at the desk initially refused to give me a replacement card for my brother, who was wandering the ship and whose card I did not have. She stated that since he had his card assigned to a different charge card than I did, I could not take possession of his card. I had to convince her that I was his brother, we had the same last name, were staying in the same room, and that I would not go on a wild spending spree with his card. She finally gave me the card. When I got back to the room, I discovered the major problem that would mar our entire trip. We booked a room for 4 adults, but there were only 2 beds on the floor, one off the wall, and a 3rd rollaway bed under one of the floor beds. Anyone who has cruised knows there is no extra floor space in a standard cabin. I've never seen a 4 berth room without 2 beds off the ceiling/wall. NCL, in their endless efforts to nickel and dime people don't have the 4th bed on the wall either to save construction costs or to force groups to buy 2 cabins. When we complained to staff about this, they stated that we had a 4 berth room and that the ship was full. They then said if we wanted to upgrade to a mini-suite we could, but it would cost $600. So they did have the room, and instead of giving it to us due to us having an inadequate room, they wanted to make a profit off of us. Please understand that the only way to deploy this 4th bed was to put it in between the 2 floor beds, meaning that there would be no floor space except for the entry hall by the bathroom. This creates a huge safety hazard for anyone that needs to go to the bathroom at night or who even needs to get into bed after turndown. In an industry where safety is paramount, I can't believe this is even allowed. If you have booked a 4 person cabin on this ship, I suggest you ensure there are 2 beds on the ceiling, or you will run into this same problem. We went all the way up to the Asst. Hotel Director and Hotel Director at the Meet and Greet to no avail. This experience ruined our first day, and left a bad taste in our mouths the entire week. $600 may not sound like a lot to some people, but it was roughly 40% of what we paid initially, and the room didn't do much for us since, as I said, we don't spend much time there anyway. Also, our original room was midship while the new one was all the way forward. When you have older parents, this does make a difference. As far as the actual room goes, a mini-suite is like a balcony with a small area with a sofa - not much bigger than a standard balcony. The room was not as clean as we would have liked, and our steward didn't do some pretty obvious things like refill the soap dispensers, and leave enough towels. We found the dining experience to be good, but not great. We discovered a great waiter named Abraham in the Indigo dining room who was superb. The food was ok, but lacked some of the higher end stuff that you will find in the pay dining rooms. Some of that is understandable, but some is not. For example, the "baby" shrimp cocktail is a disgrace. They are the size of your pinkie fingernail, and not even presentable. Every other line will offer a normal sized shrimp cocktail for free, but not NCL. We did eat at Cagney's one night to the tune of $120 for food only ($25 pp plus $10 more pp since my brother and Dad split a porterhouse). I did not find the meal to be worthy of such a cost and I thought the menu was pretty boring there compared to the main dining rooms that offer a wide range of items. I love the cold fruit soups! I thought the food was largely good, just that they are scrimping more than other lines and forcing you to pay for what is included on other lines. The ship itself is in pretty good shape and has some cool rooms. Unfortunately, it didn't seem like the ship was used as best as it could be. I am an active guy, and I was very disappointed about the activities on the ship. There were several events that I showed up to along with a couple other people, but no staff was there. The golf putting consisted of a staff member with a putter and a ring. He would get a passenger and tell him to place the ball in a couple of places 5-10 feet from the ring in one of the lounges and take a few putts, then call the next participant. There was no competition and no prizes. I could do this in my living room if I wanted. If you are going to make this an organized activity, at least make it a competition with some sort of prize. I hated the fact that the balls in the sports court were locked up each night at 5pm. One afternoon we were playing a 4 on 4 basketball game and had the ball taken from us by staff. Why can't they leave the balls out? There were no rooms below, what is the harm? Shuffleboard was stated to have hours of 8am - 8pm, but I went twice at 6pm and found the equipment locked up. Again, why is this so? If I'm free to whatever, why can't I play basketball at 5:30 pm or play shuffleboard at 7pm? It is absurd and unacceptable. Also, the rock climbing wall is not run as well as Royal Caribbean's. RCL uses 2-3 people working the ropes and another 2 people signing people in and issuing equipment. I climbed several times on a recent RCL cruise and hardly waited. NCL uses 2 people total - one works the ropes while another goes between working ropes and signing people in resulting in huge lines. They also didn't spray shoes or helmet after use, which is pretty gross considering the amount of use by sweaty people. Service was pretty good overall except for the issue with the room. The workers on this ship generally do a very good job for not that much pay, and they do it with a smile on their faces. The entertainment was also good overall. Sharkbait is fantastic, and you should not miss any of their shows or events. I thought David Naster was one of the best comedians I've ever seen in person. Don't miss the Liar's Club or the Quest game show. The art collection on this ship was pretty good as well, but I'm still skeptical of Park West (google them). The major dance productions were a disappointment. The dancers did a good job with the pieces, but the shows themselves lacked any excitement. Julie the cruise director was nice, but didn't really bring anything extra. She lacked the sense of humor that most cruise directors have (even if they are mostly pretty corny). She was just kind of there doing her job but not anything more. The ports were also only ok. St. Thomas is the only "mainstream" port on this cruise. My brother and I went to Magen's Bay Beach which is a great beach. You will pay $8 each way per person in a shared taxi plus $4 to get on the beach. Taxi fares are government regulated in St. Thomas, so don't expect any deals. I greatly enjoyed Great Stirrup Cay, the private island. They have two volleyball courts there that I must have been on for 3 hours. The beach is pretty nice and there are a lot of fish. In typical NCL fashion, they require you to wear a life vest to snorkel at a cost of $6 to rent, even if you bring your own snorkel equipment. Just NCL's way to say if you think you can get away with not paying extra, good luck. I've gone snorkeling plenty of times and never been told a vest was mandatory, especially on a protected beach 50 feet from shore. Tortola didn't offer much unless you go to the Bath's on nearby Virgin Gorda (I found a ferry service that charged $30 rt/pp, although I'm sure NCL would charge a lot more). My brother went to the beach here and said it was nice, but I didn't want to go two days in a row. I think he said it was $6 each way for a taxi and free to get on the beach. There was a guy offering to take people on a tour of the island for $10pp (this was several hours after docking, and not many people were getting off the ship at this time). My Dad offered $20 for 3 of us. Instead of negotiating, the guy told my Dad to stick the $20 where the sun don't shine. I guess the guy didn't understand that he was either going to make $20 or nothing that day. His prerogative, but I was surprised at the guy's attitude after we simply made a counteroffer to his offer. Samana was a poverty stricken port that didn't seem to offer much. During the meet and greet, the Asst. Hotel Director even said "if you don't sign up for a shore excursion, you will wonder why we stopped here". Just another way NCL is trying to pull money out of people. Instead of going to more ports that have things going on that people can access on their own, NCL tends to have more that offer less unless you buy from NCL. You will find the best prices on mostly crappy souvenirs and cheap jewelry in Samana. Disembarkation is pretty easy, especially when you carry off your own bags. We waited until just about the very end to get off, and it took us about 25-30 mins from the time we got off the ship to get to the curb. Overall I will revert to my opening paragraph and say that we enjoyed being on a cruise, but for my money, I will stay away from NCL for the next several years at least and look to the lines that have done better - Carnival, Princess, Royal, and others that appeal more to me. I understand that cruise lines are running a business, but NCL does more to get money out of you than the other lines. Even their tips are higher - why does NCL think they deserve to get $12/day when all the other major lines only ask for $10/day. This is $56 more for a family of four for a week, and is undeserved. To sum up my review with a thought, my brother and I were on deck the second night when a brief storm hit us. We joked that the captain could have gone around the storm, but NCL would have charged extra for that. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
After having an amazing time on the NCL Pride of Aloha in Hawaii three years ago, we wanted to take our "little ones" on a cruise. Currently living in Poland, we looked for a cruise leaving north of Italy so we could drive to it. ... Read More
After having an amazing time on the NCL Pride of Aloha in Hawaii three years ago, we wanted to take our "little ones" on a cruise. Currently living in Poland, we looked for a cruise leaving north of Italy so we could drive to it. I originally wanted to take a Royal Caribbean Cruise leaving from Venice, but was convinced by my travel agent that I'd have more "fun" on this one... I should have listened to my instincts. We booked a suite with a balcony for three of us and an inside state room for our two older daughters. The booking all went very well and we happily printed our luggage tickets that we received by email and headed off to our cruise. We are generally easy to please and this is my first "negative" review of a trip... ever. I am going to try to give as balanced a review of our time on board as I can. COSTA PACIFICA - A "BIG BUS", NOT REALLY A CRUISE SHIP This is a 3000 member ship, with "common areas" catering to far less. We felt that this ship is more made for people wanting to take a "tour" everyday and party all night, than for people wanting to enjoy a cruise on board. When "all members" are on board, the common areas are packed, there is not enough sitting space in buffet areas, service is slow, the gym was packed and the three ridiculously small pools - I cannot call them "swimming" pools - are crammed with people. We were more looking at a fun on-board experience than taking a tour bus. As this was a brand new ship, unfortunately we didn't have any reviews to read when we booked. So our advice is: if you are looking at taking excursions at every port, have "room service" for breakfast, don't use the pools or common areas much, and like slot machines, then you will probably love this cruise. If you are looking for a "fun" on-board experience with great service, this is not the ship. THE WHOLE BOARDING EXPERIENCE SUCKS AND "PRIORITY" CERTAINLY HAS A DIFFERENT MEANING ON COSTA Upon arrival at the parking lot we had to wait 30 mins in the car to unload our luggage because they only had one unloading area with a lot of cars coming in (there were two ships leaving on that day). We where given a ticket with a number and told to go to the "tent over there" (the main terminal was in use for the other ship). When we arrived, there where hundreds of people piled up waiting for their "number" to be called. Approx 50 people at a time had the same number and they all pounded on the entrance pushing each other like their life depended on it. There where no drinks offered, no welcoming staff, it was all very administrative and not very nice. They did however get everyone's picture taken... they do not miss any "sale" opportunity... Queue again for ID photos and security checks. Having booked a Suite, we had theoretically priority luggage delivery. Our luggage arrived 4 hours later... so much for Priority. On NCL, same size ship, flawless check-in, friendly staff, flowers and drinks handed out while you where waiting, no one pushing... very different feel to the start of the cruise. SUITE - VERY COMFORTABLE AND FRIENDLY HOTEL STAFF This was the highlight of our stay. The room staff (all Filipinos) where adorable and very present. When we needed anything, we got it fast and with a smile. Each time we came back to our room, it was spotless. Breakfast served in the room was always on time and we received what we had ordered. The beds were very comfortable. From this perspective, the service was impeccable. FOOD - RESTAURANT-OK - BUFFET-AVOID CROWDS - ROOM SERVICE-GOOD This is one of the "big bus" aspects of the ship. The buffet areas at peak times were really awful. Luckily for us, we weren't booked on excursions every day - and we had room service for breakfast - so we went "out of hours", but the only times we did, it was packed with pushy and rude passengers all trying to get to their food as fast as possible. We think this is due to the manner in which the buffets are laid out in a long line, instead of the modern layouts with different areas dedicated to different types of food. Then, there weren't enough seats and many tables were left with food on them as there wasn't enough staff to clear the tables at sufficient pace. There was no food variety: salads, pizza, pasta. The evening meals where very good in quality and the service by two Filipino waiters really friendly. They have a "kids" menu and gave pencils for the little ones to keep busy, which was useful because the service was a little slow most evenings, between 1:20 - 1:40... which is long with a 4 and 7 year old. Once again, nothing really innovative: standard classical European food (except for 2 Asian options across the whole week), pretty tasteless vegetarian food. Room service was impeccable. They have a good selection for breakfast and a "round the clock" service with a small menu. KIDS CLUB - GOOD AND FLEXIBLE Our children, 4, 7 and 12 attended the club. My 12 year old stayed the first day, but it was too "babyish" for her. The Teen club was intimidating because there where mainly older teens. A "Tween" program would have been a good thing. For the younger ones, it was a good service, with a different theme every day and dances, meals, games... They had a good time and the ladies where very dynamic and spoke Italian, English and French. The kids could attend daily from 9-12, 15-18 and 21-23:30 which allowed us some free time to practice some sport, go to the spa and in the evening play a little blackjack. The only day we took an excursion, the children could stay all day at the club, which was a real plus since they where too small for the excursion. SPA AND GYM - GOOD SERVICE, NICE AREA, A LITTLE PUSHY ON THE SALES We made extensive use of the gym and spa. We went out of the "crowded" times. The staff was really friendly and helpful and the treatments where of very good quality. The area was peaceful and relaxing. I know this is standard practice, but every treatment was linked with an attempt to sell products and other services. When I'm on holiday, I don't like to be "sold to" all the time. Cost was high - do expect a 1000 EUR bill for a spa pass and a couple of treatments for 2 adults. MUSIC - THE GOOD AND THE ANNOYING - GOOD RECORDING STUDIO It's "the ship of music" and most of the music played on board was not my style, but to be fair to Costa, it is a huge bet to achieve something that will please the majority. On the other hand, if you can't stand the "um-pah-pah German and Italian folk music, just don't board this ship. There where several styles of music and we really enjoyed the chocolate bar guitarist who was the best musician in our taste. All the bars had live musicians and in general the quality of their playing was good, but none were excellent. The only really annoying part was the same single track being played over and over again in the deck corridor, and the ever-present Italian folk songs. My daughter tried out the music studio and it was a great experience for her. The engineer was really nice and helpful and the resulted recording was very flattering :) If you like to sing, I would recommend you try this for fun. A "GREEN" SHIP - MAYBE... BUT... Another argument that made me tend towards Costa was their information about being the first "green" cruise company. Some of it is not visible to passengers (water heating, recycling, etc...) and they do have "recycling" stations all over the ship with plastic, paper, metal and "all the rest". Once a week, they have a WWF day in the kids club. They did announce at the beginning not to throw anything over bord too. But they could be doing so much more. Lighting is still mainly non economical, all soft drinks are served in cans (when has that been an ecological mean of packaging?), there is not a trace of organic food on board, they print over 100'000 pages each week (very ecological, isn't it?) and joke about having to change the printers every 4 months... and even though I never threw a towel on the floor and hung it back every time, when I came back to my room, it had been replaced by a new/clean one... theory is one thing... practice is another. FUN STUFF What we did enjoy on board was the Casino, since most Europeans don't gamble, it was easy to find a place to sit and play and we met some nice people there. The F1 racing simulator and the Recording Studio are fun. The slide was a big hit with the little ones too. VIBRATING AND WOBBLING SHIP We are not experienced cruisers, but it seemed that the boat vibrated much more that the NCL ship, even though the sea was a lot calmer. Every wave that hit the bow could be felt quite strongly in our cabin. Each maneuver in the ports, especially slowing down and turning, resulted in severe shakes and very loud noises. We also felt that the ship was quite "wobbly" and didn't feel very "solid". I want to stress that the sea was super calm all week and this is why we were very surprised by these behaviors and did not find it very reassuring. DISEMBARKATION - RUDE AND UNHELPFUL ITALIAN STAFF The last night we received a letter in our cabin telling us we had priority disembarkation and had to go to the restaurant at 8:30. No mention was made about where to leave the luggage in that letter, or in any of the written communications we got (including the cabin guide). Having with us a professional-grade guitar, two laptops, professional photography material in addition to all our luggage (value of over 20K$), we left our luggage in the cabin. We waited 30 mins in the restaurant for our names to be called and after disembarking waited for another 40 minutes outside. Our luggage didn't arrive. The ladies on the parking lot couldn't care less and were rather rude, complaining about us in Italian (expecting us not to understand...). Only when my husband got upset with them, they called in and told me to find Lara in the luggage area. When I found Lara, I explained the case and she said "it's your fault, you shouldn't leave the luggage in the cabin". I tried to explain why we had and asked her to call in the ship to arrange pick-up but she said that since we had "messed up" I had to go back on board and fetch my luggage myself. She was extremely rude and not helpful at all. Back on board, the lady at the front desk was lovely and our luggage was delivered to our car within 10 minutes flat. Unfortunately, this left us with a really unpleasant memory to finish this experience that was already mitigated. ALL IN ALL We wanted a relaxing holiday with time to ourselves and time with the kids. We left relaxed - but not as much as we could have been. The kids had a good time and we ate well, but we didn't have any sparkles in our eyes. We also felt that the staff wasn't really happy on board, that Costa tries to get a cent wherever it can and that customer service and environmental protection are more of a sales pitch than a worldly reality. All in all, it wasn't a bad cruise, but it wasn't a very good one either. We will certainly not cruise Costa again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
We love to cruise but had never taken a cruise from San Diego. We finally decided to give it a try and booked on the Carnival Elation for a 5 day cruise to Cobo. When we arrived at the port there were plenty of security guards but ... Read More
We love to cruise but had never taken a cruise from San Diego. We finally decided to give it a try and booked on the Carnival Elation for a 5 day cruise to Cobo. When we arrived at the port there were plenty of security guards but no one really directed us as to where to go. We were pointed to go in one direction only to learn that we had to go back across the parking lot and turn in our luggage prior to entering that area. Other than that it went pretty smoothly. Once inside the ship we were directed to the buffet for a lunch. We found the buffet to be small with limited selections. Far below standard for the price you pay. The layout is done in sections. One needs to stand in lines around tables of people eating making it uncomfortable for them and the people standing in line. Our cabin was not clean. The shower had mold and the toilet smelt. This was not acceptable. The evening dining left a lot to be desired. Our waiter was totally into himself and the food was just ok. Limited selections and very small portions. We purchased a wine package and which gave a discount. The waiter issued us a coupon that we were to bring to each meal when we wanted a bottle of wine. The second night out we decided that we did not want wine with our meal so we left the coupon in our room. When seated the waiter asked me for our wine coupon. I informed him that we did not bring it and was about to tell him why when he started to loudly reprimand me like a child for not having it with me. Our entire table was shocked by his behavior. I was trying to tell him why but he kept on about the coupon. I was finally able to get a word in to tell him that we didn't want to drink wine for dinner that night. A young man at our table was from Germany. He told the waiter to lighten up because we were all on vacation and do not need to be spoken to like that. The waiter huffed away and didn't speak to us the remainder of the meal. From there on out he was rude to our entire table so the last night we all opted to just eat at the buffet. The service and menu selections were far below standard we felt. The ship had limited signage compared to other ships that we have sailed on. People were always stopping us to ask where they were or how to get somewhere. The ship was not clean. There was always food on the floor in the buffet area and the staff didn't pick up the dirty dishes from the tables in a timely manner. Same with the deck areas. There were always glasses and empty beer cans laying around. The staff was not as friendly as we have experienced with other cruise lines. They never called us by our name which most cruise line staff does. They just did their job but did offer a smile. The cruise Director Steve spoke too fast for foreigners to understand and always appeared to be racing to get out the information as fast as he could for some reason. Entertainment was ok. Shopping on the ship was limited. We enjoyed our time ashore in Cobo but it was hampered by a situation when we returned to the ship. There were 3 young ladies in front of us waiting to board. One was a disadvantaged young lady. Her and I were talking and I made her laugh for some reason and she couldn't stop laughing. She was still laughing when she put her ID card into the system. The person monitoring told her to stop laughing and to take it serious. She did and then started to go through the body scanner. It beeped so they took the hand wand to search her. They asked her to turn around so she started doing a turn with a little dance because of her condition. They started to reprimand her and tell her that she had too much to drink and to stop it. The poor thing started to cry and tell them that she doesn't drink and they kept telling her that she was drunk. I finally stepped in and said that she was a disadvantaged person and to be more kind to her. She was still upset when we were walking to the elevators. We felt this was uncalled for since it was pretty obvious to everyone that she was disadvantaged and not a drunk person. All-in-all we made the most of our trip but will not be sailing on Carnival ever again. We understand that situations happen but feel that there is no excuse for a ship not to be clean. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
This was my third cruise and first with Disney. I had alot of reservations about booking this cruise, mainly because I am not a Disney fan. However, my wife and in-laws have taken two Disney Cruises previously and have raved about how good ... Read More
This was my third cruise and first with Disney. I had alot of reservations about booking this cruise, mainly because I am not a Disney fan. However, my wife and in-laws have taken two Disney Cruises previously and have raved about how good they were. We booked an inside stateroom for about $300. I wanted to book an Royal Caribbean cruise for the same date, same price, but with an ocean view. But, we went with Disney. I went into it with an open mind, and here is what I thought. Embarkation: We arrived at the cruise port a little after noon. We dropped our bags off at the curb were the the luggage attendant was very nice and didn't mind answering all of our questions. We went threw security with no trouble and made our way up to check in. Check-in was a breeze. The whole process took about 30 mins or less and we were on the boat. State Room: We had an inside state room and it was available by 1:30 p.m. The room was plenty big for both my wife and I to move around without bumping into each other too much. There was plenty of closet and drawer space. Our room attendant was great. It was like he knew when we were not there and always had our room cleaned and bed turned down for us when we returned. Entertainment: Personally, I did not like the nightly entertainment at all. But again, I'm not a Disney fan. All three shows were Disney themed. Food: The food at diner every night was great. If you were unable to decide between two items, it was not a big deal just to order both. I had no problem with the wait staff. The food that was served for breakfast, lunch, and during the day was another story. It was horrible. The best breakfast food was cereal. At lunch, the fries were the only thing that was worth getting. Also they insisted on handing out sanitary wipes before you walked into a restaurant. This got really annoying. Bars: This is what really drives the rating down real low. Saturday night before diner, me and a friend who was traveling with us went to the sports bar to watch a few laps of the race. When we arrived, there was only a handful of people there. All of which were sitting around the smaller tvs in the bar. They had the race on the big tv with the sound cranked way up. We sit down and started watching. They brought peanuts, but we declined drinks since neither of us drink. We had been sitting and watching for 15 mins when a crew member came over and asked if we were watching the race. We said yes and she went on about her business. A few mins later the sound disappeared and the sound of football flooded the room. A minute later, the channel changed to football. Annoyed, we got up and left. Needless to say they, I ripped them pretty bad on the survey at the end of the cruise. The Ship: The elevators were very fast, when you were able to get on one. They were always crowded. The adults pool area was great. It was never crowded and you could always get a chair by the pool. I did have a problem with the crew roping off areas of the ship threw out the trip. They were constantly painting railings and chairs, or cleaning floors during some the busiest hours of the day. Debarkation: Was awesome quick. Took about 15 mins total. Overall: I would only recommend Disney to someone who has small kids who love the Disney characters. The shows and food are ten times better on Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
My husband and I cruised on the NCL Gem from September 6, 2009 to September 13, 2009- Barcelona to Barcelona. I'd like to write about how much we loved the cruise, but what we believe must be corporate policy ruined it for us. All ... Read More
My husband and I cruised on the NCL Gem from September 6, 2009 to September 13, 2009- Barcelona to Barcelona. I'd like to write about how much we loved the cruise, but what we believe must be corporate policy ruined it for us. All of the crew members were delightful. From the cabin stewards to the wait staff, everyone was friendly and helpful. The food was very tasty. We have no complaint with anything about the food. We only went to one show [Colorz] and it was excellent. What ruined things for us was the extra charges on things which we believe must be corporate policy trying to increase revenues. Would you like fresh-squeezed juice for breakfast in the Garden Cafe? $4.00 extra. If you're excited about eating at Cagney's Steakhouse for an extra $25.00, you can have the really special items for an additional $10.00. The French restaurant was only $15.00 extra per person, but the really special items were $10.00 more. After that, we gave up on the special restaurants. We chose to eat in the Grand Pacific most evenings. When we arrived at the front desk, we were immediately seated. But when we left about 8:15, there was a standing line of people about 20+ strong waiting to get in. They were given beepers. What's free-style about waiting in line? All through the meal was a girl hawking purchase of a flower bouquet for your 'sweet heart'. The one time we tried to eat in the Magenta Dining [about7:15] we were told by the hostess that we'd have to share a table with another. When we docked at Civitavecchia the port provided a free shuttle service for cruise passengers to the front of the port. We've never been to Livorno, so it may be the system for all cruise ships, but in Livorno NCL passengers had to pay 5 euros to leave the port. The most amusing 'sale' was toward the end of the cruise when the Spa offered a 20% off sale [however at the bottom of the sign they wrote an additional service charge of 18% will be added]. We have sailed on Celebrity, Princess and HAL, but have never run into this kind of thing. I'm all in favor of profit, but we would so much rather pay a little more for the cruise than to have so many extra charges. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
Let me hit the highs and the lows of our cruise. This was our 8th cruise. We sailed with Carnival on the Victory and did the Canada - New England cruise before so we were familiar with the ports. Embarkation - This was an easy ... Read More
Let me hit the highs and the lows of our cruise. This was our 8th cruise. We sailed with Carnival on the Victory and did the Canada - New England cruise before so we were familiar with the ports. Embarkation - This was an easy embarkation. Thirty minutes from the time we dropped the bags off with the baggage handler until we were on the ship. Our room was ready and we dropped the bags off and made our way to the buffet for a snack. Dining - The buffet was a joke. It was comparable to hospital or nursing home food. The wait to get through the buffet was totally beyond reason. The layout of the buffet appeared to be a major contributing factor. We had early dining in the dining room. Service was mediocre and the food was bland. We left when the main course was brought out and the food was undercooked and still bleeding. We went to the pizza line and had really good pizza instead. Room - We had a balcony room on the 10th deck. It was a good room and a great bed but it was hard to sleep with the heavy duvet that was on it. Too cool with just a blanket and too much with the duvet. The bathroom was laid out well with plenty of water pressure in the shower. No problem whatsoever with the room. Excursions - We did not book any excursions with the cruise line. We did have two friends who were traveling with us that did book excursions. In coming into Boston we were to arrive at 2pm. It was closer to 330pm when we did arrive and those that had tours booked were told to meet in the theatre at 130pm for their briefing and to get ready to debark. Those people missed sailing into Boston and sat there for over 2 hours waiting. No apology for having to wait. The last time we took this cruise with Carnival we were 2 hours late getting into Boston. Carnival, do you think this might be a pattern forming here? Spa - The spa was good. The only complaint that I had was when you were walking on the treadmills they were laid out where you could not see outside the ship to see the scenery. This would have been so much better to be able to gaze out at the open sea while walking. Disembarkation - We selected the self disembarkation. We had a tour to catch. They started with the lower decks and after the 1st deck was called we decided to ride the elevator down to the 3rd deck. We walked right off the ship and was through customs in 10 minutes. The cruise experience this time has turned me off on Carnival. We had another Carnival cruise booked in December and have since canceled and booked with Royal Carribean. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
I booked the cruise on Costa because I wanted a European experience for the cruise. I felt that a European cruise line would give me that. Thia was not correct. It didn't seem any different from other cruise lines. Here are my ... Read More
I booked the cruise on Costa because I wanted a European experience for the cruise. I felt that a European cruise line would give me that. Thia was not correct. It didn't seem any different from other cruise lines. Here are my thoughts. 1--The ship Costa Victoria is a very nice ship--updated a few years ago. I would not say it was as good as their literature says, but it was nice. The cabin--we had a veranda cabin--was small. The ship had converted many cabins to verandas and they cut off some of the room. There was no sitting area as other ships have. There was a strong urine smell in the bathroom. This was corrected by the 3rd day thanks to a great cabin attendant. Other than that all was well. 2--The FOOD was not as good as other cruise lines. For an Italian line, there was not that much Italian fare offered. I would rate the food about a 2 on a scale of 5. The main dining area was nice, but the service was just ok. The cafeteria style dining areas did not have enough seating in the peak times and the food was average. The only free beverage was coffee and water. Other cruises I have been on had at least lemonade or a fruit punch free--not on Costa. We ate breakfast in the main dining room because of the above facts and by the end of the cruise it seemed that a majority of the other cruisers did too because the food and space was better. The same is true of lunch. A major disappointment was that there was NO food available after 3PM. All food concessions close until 7PM dinner. Pizza restaurant was closed all day until 7PM. The food experience is one of the reasons people cruise. This is not very acceptable to me! 3--SERVICE--Average--nothing exceptional--tips or service charges are added whether or not you want to so there is no incentive for the servers to be extra good. However, I will praise our cabin attendant. 4--EXCURSIONS were good--no real complaints except for the costs which seemed high. 5--COMPUTER ROOM was poor. They have the slowest server. In fact, I could not get to the places I wanted many times. At .50 Euros a minute, it cost $2-3 Euros just to get connected. 6--Announcements--Could not hear very well and by the time they got to English, I stopped caring. 7--I found the European guests on the cruise very rude. They were always pushing and shoving in lines for the excursions and waiting for the main dining room to open. The entertainment was so-so and the theater was too small to accommodate all the guests. I would not take a Costa cruise again or recommend it to others. On a scale of 5, I would give Costa a 2. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
Background information This was the first cruise that my husband and I had ever taken. We traveled with our 21-month-old son and two friends who are experienced cruisers familiar with Carnival who booked their own cabin. Our ages range ... Read More
Background information This was the first cruise that my husband and I had ever taken. We traveled with our 21-month-old son and two friends who are experienced cruisers familiar with Carnival who booked their own cabin. Our ages range from 38 to 42. Hotel Info We made our own travel arrangements and flew into JFK airport from our hometown, and took a taxi to our Manhattan hotel, Le Parker Meridien. We'd booked the hotel on a travel bidding website and we were thrilled with our room, which only cost us $134 a night, plus tax. The hotel rooms were going for $450 a night at the time of our stay, according to the hotel bartender. The room was spacious, by New York standards, and it was comfortable and tastefully decorated in a contemporary style. We spent two nights in New York before heading to the port for our cruise, which left on Monday afternoon, September 7, 2009. Embarkation We spent the morning touring New York, and arrived at the port at about 12:30 p.m. The embarkation process was fairly simple. We gave our bags to the porters at the dock and then we stood in a couple of long lines that moved quickly. Within about 10 minutes, we were through security and waiting in line for the Carnival check-in process. That line took much longer. We were in line approximately 30-40 minutes. When it was finally our turn, the Carnival rep was friendly and efficient. We boarded the ship about 1:30 p.m. On Board As soon as we boarded, we stopped to have a welcome aboard drink in the first bar we saw. It was a fun way to toast our first cruise, and the first with our friends, who were on their sixth Carnival cruise. After relaxing for a bit, we decided to head to our rooms. None of our bags had been delivered yet, so we went to find something to eat. We glanced at the buffet, but the lines were pretty long, so we opted for the deli and the grill instead. I had a reuben sandwich that was fairly mediocre, and my husband had a couple of hot dogs. We had hopes that dinner would be better. But more on that later. We were in room 9249, on the Lido deck. It was a balcony room. Our friends had a room next to ours, so after our late lunch/snack, we hung out on our balconies and enjoyed the view until the muster drill. The muster drill itself was a nightmare. People were packed into the hallway and forced to wear their lifejackets (I've heard that isn't required on some other cruise lines) and it was hot and miserable in there. It took about 15 minutes before they even started, and by then, my toddler had started screaming, scared, and unable to get calm because I couldn't hold him with my lifejacket on. So they called me out, literally, and gave me permission to go back to my room and have my husband tell me later what I missed. It took about 30 minutes before he came back to the room, so I was very grateful to have missed the rest of the muster drill. I have no doubt the people around me were equally glad to have me take my screaming child away, too! Dining Overall, we were very disappointed with the quality of the food on Carnival. We had asked for an early seating, at 6 p.m., so we were pleased with that. But our table location was not very good - we were right next to a serving cabinet that had wide doors. Every time a waiter would open the door to the cabinet, they'd let it swing all the way open and it would bang on our son's high chair. That happened continuously every night we had dinner in the main dining room. We couldn't move our son's chair to the other end of the table because it wouldn't have fit. We also were displeased with our wait staff. They were friendly, but they never remembered our preferences, and on several occasions, never brought the extra items we requested and sometimes seemed distracted and didn't hear us when we'd ask for refills or other things. The quality of the food was mediocre. The only standout dish that I had was New Zealand lamb chops crusted in mustard and bread crumbs. They were delicious. Everything else, including the lobster tail on the one night it was offered, was lacking. The quality of the food was similar to what you'd get at a mid-priced chain restaurant, such as O'Charley's or TGIFriday's. The buffet food was much worse. It was more like being at Shoney's, at least for breakfast. We preferred ordering breakfast in the seated dining room, but on port days, we opted for the buffet, just to have something to fill our stomachs. We did have dinner at the Lido buffet one night, after a long day in port and a late lunch in port. That was better than the Lido buffet lunches, but not by much. I did enjoy the brie-infused mashed potatoes they offered that evening on the buffet. There was also a 24-hour pizza option, with decent pizza available. Stateroom Our Lido-deck balcony room was about like what you'd find in an older Holiday Inn. Decent, but nothing special. It was pretty much what we'd expected. There was more counter space than I thought there would be. And the shower was a good size with strong water pressure. Having a balcony room was wonderful, especially with a toddler in tow. When he napped, often with my husband, I'd sit on the balcony and read a book and enjoy the ocean breeze and wonderful views. I'd definitely get a balcony again. Ship The Triumph is definitely an older ship. I haven't been on other ships to compare, but I have seen enough photos of the newer ships on other cruise lines, and even Carnival, to know the difference in an old vs. new ship. The Vegas-style interior dEcor wasn't to our taste, either. I didn't smell the stinky smell I've heard other complain about, however, so at least that wasn't a problem. Service The service in the dining room was sub-par, but the room steward was magnificent. He was like a ninja, getting to our room and making it up as soon as we left, even if we were only gone for a half hour. He was attentive, and my son loved the towel animals and chocolate each night. The bar service was spotty. We would be told one thing at one bar (such as no availability on buckets of beer anywhere on the ship) and then the next bar would have them. It seemed that some bartenders simply didn't want to go to the trouble to help us when we asked for something they didn't have at their fingertips. Luckily, one bartender in particular was very helpful and she would run to get anything we asked, and do it with a big smile. I wish she could have been stationed at every bar on the ship. It would have made our experience better. Instead, we left feeling that we were bothering some bartenders with our "special" request for a bucket of beer to take back to our balcony room. Children's Clubs We didn't use the Camp Carnival facility because my son wasn't old enough to participate. Age 2 was the minimum. We knew that before booking our cruise, so that was not a problem. We did look into the babysitting options, but decided against it. They told us we could bring our son at 10 p.m. for babysitting, and that they preferred it if he was in his pajamas and already asleep. I think they would babysit until 2 a.m., but I'm not 100% sure on that. Could have gone a tad later. It was $6 an hour. Ports of Call We went to Saint John and Halifax. We enjoyed both ports and loved seeing two new cities. We did our own sightseeing. In Saint John, we walked and toured the city and ate lobster at Steamers, and in Halifax we rented a car and drove to Peggy's Cove and ate lobster near the lighthouse at Peggy's Cove. Getting back on board the ship was a very long process at both ports, but particularly in Saint John. It took about an hour to reboard the ship, with people cutting the line from all points and no one preventing it. It was very disorganized. Entertainment We only went to a couple of the entertainment options. They were mildly entertaining, and kept our attention as we watched. Since we had our son with us, we typically turned in early and watched movies in our room while we snuggled in bed with our toddler. That was pretty relaxing for us, since we never have time to do that at home at the end of the workday. Disembarkation We were asked to leave our rooms by 8:30 a.m., and they said if you had children, to not do the self-debarkation. So we did the traditional debarkation and put our bags outside our room the night before, and waited until we heard our number called to leave the ship. It took about two hours before we were able to leave the ship, and the wait was excruciating because our son could only be walked around in a stroller so many times. He was fussy, we were fussy, and it was really a nightmare experience. I would do self-embarkation if I were to have the option again, since at least then we could get off the ship more quickly. Getting through U.S. Customs was a breeze and we were in the taxi and on our way back to the airport within 20 minutes of the time we stepped off the ship at long last. Overall We would not cruise on Carnival again. Period. We were that unhappy with the quality of the food, the service and the ship's dEcor. We will try cruising again, but next time on a longer cruise and on a different cruise line and a newer ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
This was our 6th cruise and first Disney cruise. After reading all the positive reviews, I really felt like we were in for an amazing, family cruise vacation, but at the end of day 2, I knew that this would be our last Disney cruise! ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise and first Disney cruise. After reading all the positive reviews, I really felt like we were in for an amazing, family cruise vacation, but at the end of day 2, I knew that this would be our last Disney cruise! We were looking for that "Disney Magic" and it just wasn't there. Not to say that we didn't have a "nice" time, any vacation away from work is nice, but the whole cruise did not compare to our past experiences with other cruise lines (2 on Carnival, 1 on RCI and 2 on Princess - which is our favorite). We arrived and embarkation was very easy,++ and we were able to board the ship by 12:00 noon. Our rooms weren't ready till 1:30 so we did have to bring our carry luggage on to the welcome aboard meal. Our welcome meal was good.. actually it was the best meal of our entire trip, even though the selections were not many or that great. My past experience with other cruise lines.. the buffets were much, much larger. Appearance of the ship: She was a bit "tired' looking in places, but overall she was clean and I can't say anything negative about the ship in general. She is 10 years old and her age was showing. It didn't have any "wow" factors, and I guess I was expecting it to be more Disney like, and it wasn't. (you know - you walk through the gates at Disney World and it's like.. WOW!) Everything was in working order. Our cabin was 6092, which had a covered veranda, which was nice but for us personally - a window is just as good. Kids Club: Our 7 year old enjoyed his time in the club, but when we questioned him, he had just as good a time in his YMCA summer camp. (Gee.. I could have saved a lot of money if I knew that before hand!) Dining: We had early seating and they did arrange it so that we had a table to ourselves. We enjoy our dining time together and felt it would be more relaxing then trying to make small talk with others. It was different, but no bad, to have the themed dining rooms and rotations. I don't have any complaints about that - but it was the food that I just found so mediocre! Tasteless, it was not much better (possibly not even as good) then Bob Evens or Perkins. I had a hard time finding things that actually were appealing to me. Everything is cooked in some wine. The presentation on the plates was nice, but the overall food was just blah. I hated that Disney is so cheap that they can't serve real butter at night - they serve margarine in little packages! We did eat our breakfast 3 times in the buffet and it was by far the worse tasting food I ever had on a cruise ship. Exact same food every single day - nothing new. No real eggs - only fake scrambled or fake omelet. I am so surprised to read the reviews of others who think this is good food! The only thing that was decent was the bagels and toast (they purchased)- but again - no real butter ruined those 2 items as well. We also were surprised when we went back to the buffet at 8:45 PM to look for a snack - and it was closed.. there were no snacks except the pizza or room service. This was the first cruise that I have been on where they close down the buffets for hours. Most have 30-40 minutes where the close and reopen. So, we tried the pizza, and once again, it just didn't compare to the pizza on the other ships. They had pre-made crust, where they flopped on sauce and toppings - and it was pretty awful. Coffee is important to me, and I would have brought my own pot had I known the coffee would be so bad. I just like a real brew in the morning, and the cafe only offered specialty coffees - no brewed coffee. I did have a couple of the specialty coffees, but they were far from Starbuck quality. I was happy to get home and have a cup of real coffee! Service: We have no big complaints about the service. Everyone was friendly and helpful. Kid's club counselors were great, and our dining staff server was very good and his assistant was good - however, he mumbled and we couldn't understand him 90% of the time. I also didn't like how they kept pushing us to buy our son smoothies and plastic Disney cups. Because kids around our table bought these cheap toys, we broke down and bought one - for $7.00. It was a piece of junk which broke 2 times at dinner. We left the dining room and the third one broke within 30 minutes. The Shows: Here is the only place we found any Disney "WOW"! The shows were absolutely wonderful, we loved them all. Adult Entertainment: Didn't find much at all! We live in FL, have our pool and don't care about hanging out all day at the pool, but they really, really, REALLY lacked anything for adults. Lucky, we booked an excursion in Nassau which filled our day. During the sea day we were bored and walked around a bit, watched TV, and played Scrabble. They did have a couple things to do - starting at 10:00 PM, but I am just about ready for bed at that time, and we wanted our son to sleep too. Private Island: Very easy to get off/on the ship - no tenders. Great Island, gorgeous beach, decent BBQ lunch. We went snorkeling, but there was absolutely nothing to see but a couple fish and sea weed. To sum it up, I really have enjoyed each of our past cruises, and Disney fell far short in comparison. From what I am reading, loyal Disney cruisers have really never tried other cruise lines so they don't have a clue what they are missing! I for one will not ever be booking another cruise with Disney, as we get much more bang from the buck with other lines we have tried. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Our family (12 people in all) sailed on the Pride of America on August 8th, 2009. We are all veteran cruisers (anywhere from 11-33 cruises in the bunch). We have enjoyed cruises on many cruise lines including NCL. Unfortunately, we were ... Read More
Our family (12 people in all) sailed on the Pride of America on August 8th, 2009. We are all veteran cruisers (anywhere from 11-33 cruises in the bunch). We have enjoyed cruises on many cruise lines including NCL. Unfortunately, we were less than enamored with the "Freestyle" concept that NCL has embraced. More on this later. After reading the copious amount of tips about the POA here on CC, we decided to arrive at Pier 2 at noon. Trust me, take this advice! Lines were very reasonable and there was NO line for Latitudes check-in. We boarded quickly and enjoyed a glass of champagne before heading up tot the Aloha Cafe for lunch. We found the buffet to be average trough feeding. After lunch, we proceeded up to the pool and did some swimming until our deck (7) was made available. Our stateroom was clean and furnished adequately, although our upper berths remained down through our entire cruise. This certainly made a small cabin feel even smaller during the course of the day. Our steward, Ray, was adequate. On a couple of occasions, he asked me if we really needed our cabin to be turned down, or if fresh towels were enough. There was one evening when he did not attend to our cabin (night off, perhaps?) Throughout the cruise we were shorted pool towels. Overall, his service was average. After the boat drill, we decided to dine. After our two hour fiasco in the dining room, we returned to our cabin to find that we were still missing luggage. After a call to the Reception Desk, our final piece of luggage (properly tagged, by the way) was delivered to our stateroom around 9:30 PM. Dinner the first night was horrible! Our party arrived at the Skyline Restaurant around 6:30 and were seated a short time later. Our waiter seemed to be attentive at first, but then just simply disappeared for long periods of time. It did not help that he did not have an assistant, either. As time went on, we realized that we were not going to see the show because of the slowness (It took 1 hour and 40 minutes before our main course arrived). This was our first experience with "Freestyle" Dining. WHATEVER! After two hours, we were not offered dessert or coffee. Not a good way to start our cruise! We walked out rather upset and quite disappointed. My niece talked to the Head Waiter after dinner and he asked us to give them one more shot and that they would find us a better waiter tomorrow. So, we tried again on Sunday. After sitting down at our table, we were greeted by Matt and Anthony. Talk about a breath of fresh air! After a great time with them, we immediately asked the maitre d' to book us with them for the rest of the cruise. He assured us that he would do that with the exception of their night's off. Well, we showed up the next night to no reservation. Matt and Anthony were not available, so we were handed off to another duo who did a nice job. The following night, Matt and Anthony were working in the Liberty Restaurant, so the maitre d' booked us down there. When we arrived for dinner, we were told that there was not a table for our family yet again. We then went upstairs and he told us our table was ready, but he called us by an entirely different family name. This maitre d' was a real work of art! To make a long story a little shorter, the main dining room experience was a comedy of errors and if it wasn't for Matt and Anthony, would have been an awful experience. The food was marginal, at best, and quite frankly, left a lot to be desired. On the other hand, breakfast in the Liberty Dining Room was both quick and good. It took a little longer than the Aloha Cafe, but it was uncrowded and peaceful. It took us until Thursday to discover this gem. The Aloha Cafe served rather tasteless food (although there was a lot of it) in a very crowded and Golden Corral format. We ate several breakfasts and lunches in this area. The biggest surprise for us was the Cadillac Diner. The service was quick and friendly, the food was good and the highlight was the dessert. Although they only have a few offerings, the desserts in this restaurant were the best on the ship. We did eat at Lazy J's Steakhouse one evening and found the beef to be extremely tender and delicious. Worth the $25 up charge, I don't think so, but nontheless, it was the best dining experience of our cruise. One of the things that really bugged me was the constant up selling and up charging on the ship. The wait staff always asked if we wanted bottled spring water or regular old tap water (yes, exact words). Every class had a fee (spinning, Yoga, etc.). This did not used to be the case and was not on our last CCL cruise. The "Behind the Scenes" Tour had an astronomically high price (another tour that used to be free). I could go on and on. In addition, if you do buy something onboard, expect to not only pay a service charge, but a gratuity as well. WHAT??? What's the difference??? NCL's bottom line is not too good right now and it seems evident that corporate is doing everything they can to raise revenue on the ships. One beer (with service charge and gratuity) cost me $7.00. Trust me, that was the only drink I bought onboard the entire cruise. There is no coin laundry and there was no "bag of laundry" special during the cruise. I understand that NCL is appealing to the masses, the average Joe's, however, I miss the days of pampering and caring for the individual guest. NCL was quite successful doing it on the Norway (they pioneered the mega cruise ship experience) and did it for years before as well. My wife and I enjoyed our honeymoon on an NCL ship (Skyward). I feel that they have headed in a direction that does not interest me nor my family. Unfortunately, they were operating the only cruise ship in Hawaiian waters at the time that we all could cruise and thus, had no choice. I would have preferred a cruise on another Cruise Line with a stop in the Fanning Islands or elsewhere to get around the U.S. flag requirements that NCL has taken advantage of...that's a story for another time... Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Background: We are a family of four with two older teens (16 and 19) and chose this ship because of the activities, e.g., flow rider, rock climbing wall, ice skating. This was our third Royal Caribbean cruise. The first, a Mediterranean ... Read More
Background: We are a family of four with two older teens (16 and 19) and chose this ship because of the activities, e.g., flow rider, rock climbing wall, ice skating. This was our third Royal Caribbean cruise. The first, a Mediterranean cruise four years ago was quite nice. The second, last summer to Alaska was not good. After that, I was very skeptical about cruising with RC again, but chose this ship because of time constraints and the onboard amenities. I will say right now that I should have followed my instincts Royal Caribbean seems to be in a state of total decline in several important areas (namely food), and if I were an RC executive, I would immediately take an anonymous cruise to check it out. Embarkation: We arrived around 1:45, which proved to be a huge mistake. Upon entering the embarkation terminal, we saw an absolute sea of people. It took us at least an hour to get through the registration area. My advice would be to arrive earlier; this was clearly the peak period. Cabin: The cabins were as expected and quite clean. A nod to CruiseCritic.com here we booked our balcony cabin after seeing a photo posted by another member. The cabin was listed as having an obstructed view, so we were a little concerned. The photo showed quite a nice view, which turned out to be accurate. We were pleased with the cabin and the attendant. Ship in General: The ship is visually very appealing. The community spaces are lovely particularly the main dining areas which don't have the tackiness or overly Las Vegas feel that some do. The major problems are those of lack of capacity for the elevators, pool deck areas, and tendering. I personally go on vacation to be pampered and escape the hassles of life. I expect to not have these hassles, even on a cruise ship. The elevators caused much grief ask anyone on the ship! The wait times were ridiculous, and then the elevators stopped at every floor because people were there waiting and couldn't get on due to the elevators being full. At least we got a lot of additional exercise walking up and down stairs. The pool deck was at times a free for all. RC, in response it it's lack of pool chair capacity, has rightfully decided to enforce the 30 minute rule. If you're gone from your pool lounge, security will remove your things. We witnessed several verbal altercations regarding pool chairs which security had to intervene in. I'm sure these people are very unhappy with their experience, and even as a bystander, I found them to be a bit disturbing. My last capacity issue is the tenders. Absolutely unacceptable! These ships should know from experience when people tender. I agree with two of the prior posts about the female employee with one arm she was extremely short and almost grumpy with people waiting for tenders. Questions were not tolerated! Entertainment: We used the flow rider, which was quite fun, but after 10:00 in the morning had extremely long lines. The rock climbing wall was very rarely open and was near the ship's exhaust, so it was extremely hot. The ice skating was also rarely open, which I don't completely understand. Why spend all that money and space and then not have it open? We don't usually go to cruise ship shows, but we stopped by the magician show and found it to be surprisingly good. Unfortunately, the seats were completely full, so we stood in the back for awhile and then left. Continuing in the over-capacity vein, they seem to have under-sized the theater or at least don't have enough shows. Food: Here's where I really feel the need to inform people thinking of taking this cruise. The food is really bad. We are from Southern California and appreciate good, healthy food. Let me tell you I was worried about gaining weight on a cruise, and I actually lost weight. Windjammer in particular is an insult. Breakfast is OK how hard is it to mess up breakfast. Lunch and snacks (never tried dinner there) are another story. The food is almost the same every day. Same HORRIBLE salad bar, no fresh sandwiches except for some pathetic wrap slices, and some very bad cafeteria-ish hot dishes. Even Carnival's food VASTLY exceeds this. The dining room is a bit better. We found eating breakfast and lunch there were better, but timing didn't always work out. We did the "My Time Dining" for dinner, and that was quite convenient. We never had to wait for a table, and the dining staff was very good. My opinion, though, is that RC would be much better off spending the money and resources on improving the food quality than on over-spending on resources to support My Time Dining. With food quality as it stands, I cannot believe that RC will get much repeat business, at least from the demographics that it strives for. Even desserts, which are the cruise ship pride, were awful. Ports of Call: Labadee was uninteresting felt like bad summer camp with it's dirty picnic tables, plastic chairs, bad barbecue, and bug juice. Is this honestly what RC thinks it's guests expect? (Again, RC executive PLEASE visit this anonymously and decide for yourselves). My recommendation is to certainly do some kind of water sport activity here there's nothing else to do. My husband and sons did jet skiing here, and they had a lot of fun. Jamaica was as expected. The poverty is upsetting. People swimming in the water begging as you walk along the gangway. My recommendation again is to plan a water sport excursion and get there as soon as possible. Grand Cayman's are the nicest venue. You can actually walk around here and even travel by taxi to one of the beaches. We did this (went to sea grape beach). There's some minimal snorkeling and a cute little beachfront restaurant. In Cozumel, we did the swim with the dolphins. The pay-per-use beach that housed the facility was pretty nice. I'd recommend this, as Cozumel, similarly to Jamaica, is a bit unappealing to simply venture around. Debarkation: Debarkation went extremely smoothly. I was concerned after our embarkation experience, but this time things went even ahead of schedule. In Conclusion: RC has a lot of money invested in this ship. The employees work extremely hard. I really think RC's making a mistake in cutting costs in food, tender services, etc. It will definitely catch up with them. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
It was apparent from day one that NCL has made a concerted effort to cut back on all types of services. We sailed on Pride of America and, hopefully, our experience is not indicative of the entire fleet. I feel cheated in one sense. We ... Read More
It was apparent from day one that NCL has made a concerted effort to cut back on all types of services. We sailed on Pride of America and, hopefully, our experience is not indicative of the entire fleet. I feel cheated in one sense. We have cruised two times with them before. We had generously sized accommodations, an aft suite. The first two days in Honolulu all the optional restaurants were closed. That means simply, no sushi, Chinese, Italian, steak house, etc. The entertainment had been seriously cut back. For example, there was no show group, no dancers and singers, nothing that resembled a show, leave only the required Hawaiian dance. The same magician made three separate appearances! The featured singer, with only a piano, was the cruise director, who did not know the songs by heart and read from sheet music. Rarely was there anything but recorded music until late into the day or early evening, and the three main musicians were overworked, from packing a singer at night to pretending to be a jazz trio, only to end up playing the theme from Nintendo for the children whose parents brought them to the pricey Jazz Brunch. On three occasions what we ordered was not available. But, we were told this after waiting twenty minutes for a main course. One night, in the surcharge Italian restaurant, I had ordered Osso Bucco and the waiter raved about how good it is, how he will bring me a marrow fork. Beef arrived with a quote, "Why don't you eat this? This is what the chef made. We don't have any Osso Bucco." Another day it was the wine - the very wine printed on the menu and suggested. At the end of a meal my son ordered the Macadamia Nut ice cream with brownie to be told, "We don't have that." These things happened early on and throughout the cruise. The sales staff and crew oversold the excursions. We did not participate, noting the congested wait areas and long lines when in port. On days or nights when there were excursions, most everything on board was closed! Not even shuffleboard things were left out! We know Hawaii and had a good time on our own. The food simply was uneventful and the portions in the surcharge restaurants were minute. We left the main dining room for breakfast after watching a staff member touch her nose twice and then reach for a basket of pastries that was for us. She was annoyed when I asked her to change it and perhaps use the disinfectant liquid provided by the ship steps away. We gave up after being told at 7 AM that the Eggs Benedict would take 45 minutes. Be advised that there are significant voids where there is NO food available. If you go wandering for the late night snack or ice cream, better wander early. Some of the staff was rude. We made some changes early on. Our suite had some repair problems. The butler assigned was arrogant, even after being tipped handsomely. Eventually, it was sorted out, but with the kind of stress nobody wants on a cruise. I have gotten better service and attention in a regular stateroom. Odd, we received a snack on one day and it never appeared again. Bottom line: NCL has cut back. Be advised and be aware. I would avoid this cruise. It's the only show in town of its size now in Hawaii, but no matter how much you like cruising, you will be disappointed. After paying full fare for my accommodations and tipping generously (the tipping policy is very confusing) feel ripped off. The coddling of the concierge, butler, etc. eventually came off as disingenuous. They were glad to get on to the next week. Few if any actually said goodbye with the exception of an extraordinary waiter named Lloyd who worked in Lazy Jays. He's due to retire soon and when they lose him, NCL will have little left of the good old days of service and peace on a cruise. NCL management should be ashamed. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
We had a pretty poor experience a few weeks ago aboard the Navigator. We have cruised a few times before, but mostly travel by air. As a frame of reference, we have cruised on Crystal, Silverseas, Royal Carribean, Cunard, and Celebrity ... Read More
We had a pretty poor experience a few weeks ago aboard the Navigator. We have cruised a few times before, but mostly travel by air. As a frame of reference, we have cruised on Crystal, Silverseas, Royal Carribean, Cunard, and Celebrity in the past, in either Europe or Asia. We found Regent to be "okay", but certainly not for the price and hype. We have three children, ages 7, 10, and 13, so we booked two cabins. The cost of the one-week cruise for the family was over $17,000 without air, but the port tours were largely free or at low-cost as part of Regent's current promotions. Our biggest complaint against Regent is the very poor way in which they handled a significant problem we had with our room. Basically, they took almost the entire cruise duration to deal with a plumbing problem (never completely solved), and in addition to other issues, they did not handle things in a way anyone in the luxury hospitality business should. When we boarded the ship in Monaco, we were greeted in our cabin by an acrid sewer/algae smell. The whole room smelled, but we were able to figure out that it was coming from the bathroom. The housekeeper agreed that it smelled horribly, and when we returned from dinner a few hours later the sewer smell was somewhat overcome by the smell of Drano/chlorine. Not exactly pleasant. The next day the sewer smell returned, so we contacted the front desk. To make a long story short, Reception was very nice but not very effective. They had a plumber come out on Day 1 (embarkation is Day 0), and he said that there was something wrong with the drain and fixed something, with maybe 50-70% improvement. But it still had that sickening smell. Anyway, by Day 5 the smell was mostly gone after one other plumber intervention. But the inconvenience of waiting around for the plumber and having him stomp around the bathroom in his boots also did not help our cruise experience. For most of the cruise, when we were on the ship we found ourselves all retreating to our sons' cabin, which happened to be a handicapped cabin without a sofa. The smell was the overriding problem with the cruise. Add to that a bath towel that had more than 10 holes and stains in it (I have photos), multiple unannounced water interruptions resulting in milky-white water emerging from our sink on several occasions including an interruption at midnight-3 am that left my 13 year old with shampoo on his head, and really terrible breakfasts (cheap quality ingredients) in the Portofino restaurant, and you have something that is FAR from what we consider luxury. In addition, the cruise line has handled our concerns very poorly. We actually emailed our complaints to RSSC Guest Relations on 8/12/09 (Day 5), and we have not heard anything from them and it has been almost 3 weeks. We cc'd our letter to our American Express Centurion travel agent, and she contacted their marketing manager. The Amex agent initially told us that RSSC "would have to respond within 48 hours", but their only response was that the complaint would be sent on to some other department in their company. As I said, it has now been over three weeks and still no reply. We travel a lot about 3 months a year. Over the years, we have had "issues" here and there, including new purchases stolen from my room at a Hong Kong hotel, or a cruise housekeeper who put our brand-new unreleased Sonicare toothbrushes brush-down in a half-glass of water left by the previous guest as soon as we boarded the ship! Each time, someone from management would come and apologize, send some tangible token like flowers or candy to let us know that they are sorry and value our patronage. Well, from Regent, nothing. No words from management, no candy (how hard is that on an all-inclusive cruise, we already had $1000 shipboard credit from Amex that we could hardly spend?), nothing but an offer to "clean our room" on day 5/7 of our cruise, the only day AT SEA! Anyway, my final word is that what Regent is offering is far from luxury and as we wait to hear from management, it becomes clear that they are undeserving of the Regent name. The Regent Hotel in Hong Kong (now Intercontinental) was one of the world's great hotels and we actually spent New Year's Eve there on the Millenium but this cruise line has nothing to do with the Regent we knew. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
My family and I just completed a 7 day trip to Alaska (8/23-8/30) on the Norwegian Pearl. While this was our 14th cruise, it was the first time to experience NCL and their "freestyle" cruising. This was intended to be a special ... Read More
My family and I just completed a 7 day trip to Alaska (8/23-8/30) on the Norwegian Pearl. While this was our 14th cruise, it was the first time to experience NCL and their "freestyle" cruising. This was intended to be a special 75th birthday celebration for my mother-in-law's birthday. In all the cruises we have taken, we have never encountered such a rude and lazy staff as we did last week. With tips pooled among the wait staff and the stateroom staff, there is no incentive to smile, ask us how our meal is going, refresh our beverages, provide a clean stateroom, with clean bath towels, change the sheets on a regular basis, etc. The food in the main dining rooms was cold (I suspect it came from a "central" kitchen and sat under the heating lamps too long). The food was dry and over cooked. We were sailing in Alaska and were served Atlantic Salmon. We asked where the "Bay Scallops" were from and our server couldn't tell us. Lobster night consisted of 1/2 a tough lobster tail on top of a pile of plain white rice with a small slab of Grouper (which was dry and way over cooked). The menus were the same in The Summer Palace and Indigo as well as what was being served at the Garden Cafe on Deck 12 (buffet). Breakfast menus were identical day after day. Where were the regional foods on this cruise - they must have missed the boat. There was no provisioning of the ship in any of our port cites which meant the food was frozen then warmed up for dinner. If you wanted a "decent" meal, you had to pay the extra $15 - $25 upcharge and make a reservation at one of the speciality restaurants. For a party of 6, that's an additional $90 - $150 per meal before beverages and tips. We splurged one night an had dinner in Cagney's Steakhouse. In the middle of our dining experience, three men were shampooing the carpets in the vestibule outside the doors during our entire dinner. With a reservation at 6:00 PM, I would think they would save their maintenance until after the dining room closes. They offered Oysters Rockafeller on the appetizer menu. I asked if they could just bring them to be on the half instead of cooking them. The waiter informed me that they were already pre-done and then frozen. They couldn't change the way they were offered. So here we are in a restaurant that is charging us $25 per person and we can't get our meals made to order. One morning at breakfast in the Garden Cafe, I observed one of the cooks opening a pillow sized plastic bag full of scrambled eggs that had just come from the microwave. He was pouring them in the pan below the heating lamp to be served for breakfast. It's not that hard to scramble eggs fresh and to find they have been cooked, stored and heated in a plastic bag before being served was a huge turn off. The food on a cruise ship should be EXCEPTIONAL - not so on NCL. Even at Denny's you get your eggs fresh. One night we went to Mambo's for dinner. We discovered that there are staterooms beyond (through) the restaurant. All during our dining experience, 2 little unaccompanied girls were running back and forth through the restaurant in their sloshing wet bathing suits. Made for a nice family meal! The Blue Lagoon and Mambo's are at the top of the stairs from the Crystal Atrium which means that when the music starts up in the Crystal Atrium, the ambient noise gets so loud you can't have a conversation with your dinner partner. We had problems getting straight answers from anyone at the reception desk regarding the disembarkation process only to have the agent tell us this was his very first cruise and didn't really know how to help us. My sister-in-law was having some billing issues and asked for help from reception. They told her she would have to come back in the morning and talk with the Finance people. So she asked to speak with a manager and was told they wouldn't get one for her. She asked for some comment cards so she would note the problems she was having and was told they wouldn't give her any. Our last night on the ship, our stateroom attendant removed all the bath towels and just left wash clothes and hand towels. The next morning we had to dry off from our shower with hand towels. At every turn it seemed to get worse and worse. I know that NCL cannot control the weather but when decks are slippery and wet, they should either squeegie them off or close them off. My son slipped and fell flat on his face. He was soaked all the way through, including his shoes! While he was unhurt, had that been an older passenger, someone could have been seriously hurt. I can honestly say that I would not recommend NCL to anyone nor will our family be sailing with them again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
I have just returned from a 9 night cruise with RCI on Explorer of the Seas. First the good points: The cabin was surprisingly spacious for the four of us. There is certainly a wow factor to the facilities, size and general atmosphere of ... Read More
I have just returned from a 9 night cruise with RCI on Explorer of the Seas. First the good points: The cabin was surprisingly spacious for the four of us. There is certainly a wow factor to the facilities, size and general atmosphere of the ship. The staff were excellent, especially our cabin steward Winfield, Milano at the Acquarium bar and all the wait staff in both the formal dining rooms and Windjammer. The theatre shows were pretty good and the ice show was amazing. However, I am extremely disappointed at everything else. Yes, this was our first cruise, but we are well travelled and have never been in a situation where manners and common courtesy are totally amiss. With the exception of our table mates, who saved the holiday from being a complete disaster, I don't think we would have had the opportunity of a single conversation. There were 3,500 people on that ship, with the majority from the New Jersey area. Makes sense as the port is in New Jersey. But what we learned soon after boarding was that despite us booking 8 months ago and paying £6,500 for a family of four, RCI had advertised cut price offers in the local press two weeks before the ship sailed and the ship was now completely full. Call me a snob, but if I pay a high price for a holiday I assume the majority of the guests have too and would therefore be of a certain calibre. Never have I seen such obesity in all my life and to make matters worse, it appears for many their sole intention for the duration of the cruise was to eat. My son stood up from the table one morning and was pushed aside by the fattest man I had ever seen in my life who grunted at him, such was his eagerness to eat his breakfast. My only experience of people this size have been in documentaries on TV where they have discussed where people have become so obese they can't leave their homes etc. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. There were also a lot of mobility impaired people on board and I was pleased that the were still able to holiday with their disabilities, but to my surprise one day as we were waiting for a lift one person reversed out shouting, "Get out of my way" (I could write a novel on lift etiquette or rather the lack of it) Even towards the end of a game of bingo the crew member hosting the activity said after 30 minutes at 11.30am that he wouldn't keep us much longer as it was nearly lunch time and probably an hour since most of us had eaten. That says it all really. Throughout the entire trip it seemed that the cruise line's intention was to extract as much money out of you as possible. Being at sea for two whole days meant that we were a captive audience. Want and expresso or cappucino after dinner? That will be extra. Want to use the golf simulator? That is $25. Bought the soda package but want a bottle of water? That will be nearly $5 and it doesn't include the mini bar in your cabin. One word of warning. If you grant your children signing priviledges then they can run up a huge bill in the arcade (of course that is extra) without pre paying with cash. One of our new friends discovered this after her son had run up a bill of $180 in a couple of hours there. Fortunately she was able to turn the card off for the remainder of the trip. I could go on and on. The sales pitch was everywhere including the TV. Then on the last day they had a massive sale where all the logo items were sold at 50% off or more. Think about those that bought their t-shirts etc at the beginning of the cruise. Some relief came when we got off the boat. You have to queue to get off and queue to get on which eats into your shore time. On the day we arrived in Bermuda, another ship had also docked and then there 7,000 people heading to Horseshoe Bay. I couldn't even see my kids on the beach or in the water, the beach was so packed. Even on the boat, the deckchairs were pushed so close together they touched and you were made to feel like a sardine in a can. It was ridiculous. There was also a general hubbub on the outer desks that was inescapable. There was no personal space or peace and quiet. My husband spent most of his time in the cabin. I had to put my ipod on full blast to drown it out. I have to say that my husband and I have never been so disappointed with a holiday and even if someone gave me a cruise , I wouldn't go. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Please see the horror story at the end of this: First the good: The staff is gracious, smiling, considerate and expert. Our room was quickly made up & kept up, the waiters took personal note of our preferences, for example: at dinner ... Read More
Please see the horror story at the end of this: First the good: The staff is gracious, smiling, considerate and expert. Our room was quickly made up & kept up, the waiters took personal note of our preferences, for example: at dinner green tea was waiting each evening for me. We felt welcome. R/C is to be complimented! The best place to eat is in the large and generous Winjammer buffet which offers just about anything one could desire for breakfast & lunch. The dining room is another story: certainly no feast, portions were the smallest we've seen in 15 cruises, and the menus condensed with repetitive selections. This may have a lot to do with feeding a mass of 3,500 passengers. It is obvious R/C is counting its pennies. Betty asked for postcards but they're $5.00/pack, so she used some of the complimentary Princess cards we got on a 15-day April cruise. No free hand lotion or conditioner bottles in the room either. Destinations: Cape Canaveral to Coco Cay, St. Thomas, St Maarten, and return. If you like shopping malls this is the ship for you. Think of it as K-Mart at Sea. The core of the vessel is a mall with stores on either side and sales tables piled high with cheap watches, souvenirs etc. Coco Cay is a sandbar slightly longer than the ship and an extension of the R/C Mall: huts filled with trinkets. Everything sold on your sea pass credit card. The Cay is entirely a merchanising venue: K-Mart+sand. This is much different from the Princess stop near Hati where actual natives offer their wares independantly. Next, St Maarten: Think of it as a one-lane street lined with camera shops. Walk down the street and come back and you've seen the island 4 times. The pool deck is divided with a smaller adult section and a large "Sprinkles" water-park section for kids. Apparently our cruise was for the hearing-challenged. How can I describe the music on the ship? Loud? Raucous? Deafening? No, none of these, it was earsplitting! My wife & I are dancers but we couldn't endure the roar & didn't danc a step, a disappointment profound. Our view of the cruise: It is the first one we were glad to get off of. We've been to better malls without the noise. HORROR STORY: We were delayed by a closed section of Hwy 1. R/C's contract of passage is 17 pages, but includes no map of the complicated layout of several piers allocated to different ships which are separated by a couple miles each on convoluted roads. No sign directs the innocent traveler to Captivity of the Seas: your job is to hunt for it. This cost us about 20 minutes, so we arrived at the dock at about 3:20PM. The ship was scheduled to sail at 4:30, actually stayed at the dock till 6:30. Anyway we were urged to hurry because we only had "3 minutes until boarding closes" I let Betty off and unloaded my suitcases at the car-unload area, but there were several small items I'd intended to consolidate into our luggage when we arrived. I tipped the porter $20 and drove off to park the car. He put the small packages in the suitcases including my brief case with my passport in it. At that point I was under pressure because of the 3 minute deadline and didn't think about passports When I got back after paying $105 to park, our luggage had been taken in. No passport for me! I explained that it was in my luggage and asked a clerk to come downstairs with me to retrieve it. She rolled her eyes, but complied. It took 40 minutes. The ship's security staff did not bring our suitcases out but went thru in their own search. I had to beg them to bring my luggage. Finally I was told we were denied passage. The luggage came out and immediately I retrieved the passport and my wife's prayer was answered and we were allowed to board. Then the captivity of the seas sat at the dock for another 2 hours In April our plane was delayed and we boarded the Grand Princess about 30 minutes before it sailed without anything but smiles. I'll never sail on an R/C shopping mall at sea again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Drove to Jacksonville and stayed at the Travelodge Inn & Suites Airport. The hotel was great with a nice breakfast in the morning and a shuttle to take us to the pier. We left our car at the hotel. The whole package was $89 plus tax. ... Read More
Drove to Jacksonville and stayed at the Travelodge Inn & Suites Airport. The hotel was great with a nice breakfast in the morning and a shuttle to take us to the pier. We left our car at the hotel. The whole package was $89 plus tax. We got to the pier the next morning and check in was not a problem, even though there was a line, it moved rather quickly. I was told by my PVP that this cruise was sold out. Our cabin was nice but did not see the room steward until the 3rd day. Room was always clean and turned down. As for the rest of the cruise, I was not impressed. We have cruised 10 times before and this was our 5th on Carnival. I really noticed the cut backs. Ice Cream (more like ice milk) with no toppings, Sugar free desserts was the same white cake every night except a different flavor icing. Only one sugar free dessert on the buffets also. Ice machines and Ice tea machines always seemed broken down, no appetizers at the Captains Party or past guest party. The crew did not acknowledge us by name (as we have had done on other lines). We only saw the captain at the welcome party. The quality of the food was not what I experienced in the past. No meal wowed me as before, even the lobster and steak. Our dinner service was extremely slow. Others were eating their main course and we were still getting salads, never got out of the dining room until almost 8pm. We also had to ask for our ice tea, sour cream, more bread, etc every night. It was not that our waiter was new either, he has been there 10 years. The waiter also brought the salads, bread, etc..not the asst waiter. He was waiting on the other tables and our head waiter on ours. The centerpieces was a small vase of a few daisies and they were the same flowers all week...by the last night we joked saying it did not look like they were going to make it through the night. The entertainment was poor. There was a guy in the atrium singing and he sounded drunk, you could not understand his words at all. My husband said he sounded like blind melon chitlan (think that his name..from Cheech & Chong). The piano bar ladies were both so-so. Listened to a few songs and left. The band, Stagelight was ok...again the music was ok but could not hear the words. Kareoke was obscene...we were warned that after 9pm it gets rowdy...lap dances, pole dances and only a few good singers. People were even told to keep the clothes on till after 9pm...guess the last cruise was really wild according to Darlene. Darlene who ran it also had a bit of an attitude. We were celebrating my birthday (I know you have to buy a cake) but they never even acknowledged it or sang Happy Birthday. I guess Camp Carnival was pretty good as we had 800 kids on board and didn't have any problems with little ones but the majority of the 12 and up kids roamed free. I was told by a 12 yr old that we ate with that the teen stuff was a joke and he preferred to be with the adults and his dad. It seemed most thought like that. Felipe was the cruise director. We only saw him at the shows and he seemed very funny. We did not see him much on the decks or mingling with passengers. Debarkation was a joke. This was our first time trying the self assist. They called the Riviera deck, then the Main deck. We were on the Upper so thought we would be called next.....well...Empress started getting off and people complained that the Upper deck was not called. Dan, the Assistant Cruise Director was by the elevators and said he was on his way up to the bridge to make the announcement. I said well the Empress deck is already getting off and they did not call Upper yet...he looked at me and said "I KNOW" in a real snotty tone. People just looked at him. I said boy, what an attitude...guess he is not getting promoted. As I said, I was not impressed at all. Had a nice time relaxing but the service left a lot to be desired. I think we will try another line next time and see if things are the same. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
We booked this holiday at the beginning of 2008, a suite at the rear of the ship on deck 9. That's where we wanted to be. Unfortunately when we arrived at our suite, we realised what a huge mistake we had made. The view from our ... Read More
We booked this holiday at the beginning of 2008, a suite at the rear of the ship on deck 9. That's where we wanted to be. Unfortunately when we arrived at our suite, we realised what a huge mistake we had made. The view from our balcony was diminished by this incredible amount of steel designed around the rear of the ship. It was probably the largest balcony we had ever been on, but unfortunately it was also overlooked by deck 10, so we had no privacy and very little sunshine. Considering we spend allot of time on our balcony when cruising, this was a major disappointment. We did speak to the concierge about changing room but this was not possible. We went for dinner that night, we were in the Romeo and Juliet restaurant on deck three, we were astounded to find there was no silver service, and the food served plated reminded me of school dinners. I ordered a rare steak, it came cremated. I ordered the same meal for three nights and not once did they get it right. I complained every night, I didn't eat the food and on the third night when speaking to the resturante manager, I was comparing the food to P&O's. I said how incredible P&O's food was, he said to me "that's because you have to pay more money with P&O." I have cruised with P&O 6 times, and this cruise was the most expensive I had ever been on. We tried one more night in this restaurant giving it another chance and the food was worse than the previous nights. So we all agreed that it wasn't good enough. It seemed the only time we experienced quality, was when we got off of the ship, because this restaurant had none. The first full day of cruising, we took our 3 year old daughter to the children's club 'Aquanaughts'. We stood in a narrow corridor for 10 minutes in a queue. When we got to the entrance there was a rope across the doorway and a 6ft 3" male greeting my child. My daughter was petrified and immediately started to cry. I asked the gentleman on the door whether there were any young females around, the only other person there was another rather tall male. When we tried to leave my daughter with them, she wouldn't stop crying. When we asked if we could go into the club with her to see if we could calm her down, they would not allow any adults in. I said "how do you expect me to leave my child in a state of fear with you?" He sarcastically replied "You don't have to." I tried to explain to him one of the main reasons we cruise is because the other cruise lines we have been on offered incredible child services. Which P&O do. His reply was "this is not P&O." I spoke to the manager to make my complaint, in her defence; she told me all of her staff were qualified. I asked the question "why would you employ such large males to look after such small children?" All she could say is that her staff was qualified. Needless to say our 3 year old child didn't go in the children's club at any period of the holiday. So that left me and my wife no longer had the holiday we thought we had booked. So you can imagine after 4 days now, we didn't go back into the restaurant, our child wasn't in the kids club, we couldn't use our balcony and our 13 and 14 year old children, that were hoping for a structured teenagers club found to their disbelief that there was no structured activities to take part in as a group. So everything I had experienced with P&O I thought I was going to get and allot more by sailing on the Independence of the Seas, and so far my holiday is now in turmoil. We had waited so long for this cruise, we had virtually complained to everyone that would listen to us, when I then realised that it was all a waste of time. One thing about the ship that we all liked was the Wave rider but having to queue for half an hour for a 1 minute go wasn't much fun. The live entertainment reminded me of a holiday camp I worked in as a very young man. The high street in the centre of the ship, had windows above the shops, sometimes it looked like it could have been the red light district and I thought the space could have been better utilised. I think there is a lot more to say about the ship that we are not happy about, but I think that I will be here too long. I never checked any reviews of the ship which I should have done. When I first seen the ship it looked incredible. I was expecting from my holiday to have fantastic food, good company, good entertainment, outstanding service and children's club with great facilities to give some freedom and quality time with my wife. We only got one of these..... We have only cruised with P&O; we thought that maybe this ship may offer everything we had before and maybe more. I was totally wrong. I think this might be a little bit like the BT sinario, other companies pretending to offer better quality services and better rates, and for most people that didn't happen and now you find BT welcoming their old customers back and so will P&O. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
This was our 10th cruise and 5th cruise line. We were really looking forward to our first mediterranean cruise. We really thought it would be more of an upscale cruise line and wonderful food. Much to our disappointment, it was far less ... Read More
This was our 10th cruise and 5th cruise line. We were really looking forward to our first mediterranean cruise. We really thought it would be more of an upscale cruise line and wonderful food. Much to our disappointment, it was far less than that. The ship itself is not as upscale as other lines we have been on. It is very minimal at that actually kind of plain but that really wasn't that big of a deal. The problem was the total disorder that we faced once on board. Now we new it was an Italian cruise line with mostly european guests however, we were not prepared for the total chaos and rudeness of our fellow passengers. We have never experienced anything like it. The Buffet (which we nicknamed the "jungle") was exactly that. Very over crowded, not enough seats to accomodate everyone, people cutting in line or what resembled a line, children running everywhere , and people literally hoarding huge plates of food. There was no regard for any manners whatsoever. The food was adequate at best, the coffee was always cold, and water and ice only worked at intervals. The sit down restaurant was much more organized however the portions were much smaller than normal, the food options not always appealing however again we were kind of prepared for that being it was european. The staff, all though they worked very hard, did not go out of their way to form a relationship with you like other cruises. They didn't offer coffee with dessert you had to ask more than once, and we always felt like we were rushed so they could prepare for the 2nd seating. The elevator and pool situation were similar to the "jungle". No manners, pushing and shoving on and off and no regard for any rules especially no children in "adult only" pool. The parents seemed to allow their children to do whatever they wanted, and the minimal security was only able to control the situations temporarily and then they would resume as soon as they walked away. We witnessed soccer balls being kicked in the lobby, children screaming and lying on the floors of the restaurants, running up and down halls till late night hours, jumping on and over people in the pool, and playing with window shades (which hit me in the head once). We talked with fellow passengers from the U.S.,Canada, Germany, the U.K. and even Italy which were just as disappointed and shocked as we were. The ports and excursions were nice , but not alot of accomodations for english speaking guests. We booked one tour that was all in Italian and no discount or anything even after we told them that it was not communicated to us that noone spoke or understood English. This was true to most of the cruise. Very minimal announcements in English. The disembarkation was also very unorganized and we nearly missed our flight. Needless to say it was a very horrible experience and I don't know if we will give Costa another chance or not. We found out only after returning that apparently Costa offers great deals to the Italians even some offers of kids cruise free.(which may account for our situation) So be prepared and ask before you book. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
This was my 4th cruise. I'd never cruised norwegian before. I've cruised with Carnival before to the caribbean. This time I cruised with my husband and 7 y.o. child. First the best...Alaska was beautiful. It rained every ... Read More
This was my 4th cruise. I'd never cruised norwegian before. I've cruised with Carnival before to the caribbean. This time I cruised with my husband and 7 y.o. child. First the best...Alaska was beautiful. It rained every single day we were there which made visibility poor at times. But it was still awesome. Alaska is a great destination and I would recommend it to anybody. It's beautiful and has an awesomeness I never have seen or felt before. The water is aqua blue colored. The mountains are gorgeous. There's so much to see. The ship, the pearl, was beautiful and very clean. The cabins were small as would be expected but they're nice. We liked the layout. Fairly simple to get around. We absolutely loved the fact the pool on the lido deck was heated. My son enjoyed swimming in it even though it was 50 degrees out and raining. The pool got a lot of use. The Spinnaker lounge was great. The large windows were excellent for enjoyable viewing. This was one of our favorite places to go. The bowling alley was neat. It was hard to get the ball to go straight however. It was very fun and was very busy most of the time. The theater was small and had stadium type seating which I wasn't real impressed with. There was a small card room for playing cards. This was a neat idea I thought and also got a lot of use. Keep in mind, it rained 6/7 days of our cruise. The positives end here. The service on the ship and the food was poor. Freestyle is not for us or anyone expecting care-free dining. Dining time was chaotic. You were told to get reservations for the main dining rooms for supper 24 hours in advance. However, every time we tried, all that was available was 5:30 and 9:00 pm. If we just showed for dinner, we had to take a pager and wait 45 minutes. Then after we finally would get a table, we had to wait 10-15 minutes for a waiter to attend to us. Then we had a long wait for our food. Upon receipt of the food, it wasn't all that tasty. I'm actually very easy to please but this was truly ridiculous. During lunchtime and/or dinner time in the Garden Cafe (buffet style dining) it was so crazy crowded we couldn't find anywhere to sit. You ended up walking around, with a plate of food and your child, until somebody finally was done eating or willing to give up their viewing seat by the window. We tried room service once but they wouldn't answer their phone. The only options left were the cover charge restaurants which weren't very busy. (Maybe that's their way of forcing people to pay for supper). The ship as it's laid out simply doesn't have the space capacity to serve the number of passengers. I believe they need to free up some of the space taken by the pay restaurants. The dining issue added a lot of stress to our day which isn't something you wish to have to deal with on a cruise. Additionally the quality of the food was poor. We had some good food but some other food that simply didn't taste very good. The quality we're used to just wasn't there. The entertainment on the cruise was fair at best. Sharkbait (juggling act)was fun to watch and my son loved their show but that was the only show we really enjoyed. We played bingo and that was fun, but bingo is bingo anywhere you go. I'd love to cruise Alaska again, but would choose a different ship. Again the ship was beautiful but the service and food was poor. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009

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