I am a grandmother who always wanted to take a cruise. I finally got the chance. We drove from the mountains of NC to Port Canaveral-myself, DH, DS(1),DDIL, GD1(10), GS1(8), and GD2(6). 11 hrs in a van with a very nervous DH who ... Read More
I am a grandmother who always wanted to take a cruise. I finally got the chance. We drove from the mountains of NC to Port Canaveral-myself, DH, DS(1),DDIL, GD1(10), GS1(8), and GD2(6). 11 hrs in a van with a very nervous DH who wasn't exactly sure he wanted to go but wanted me to have my dream. From the time we crossed the bridge and saw the ship the van rocked until I was afraid it might overturn or explode from excitement.
When we got into the terminal,it was beautfully decorated for Christmas. After we registered DH started to relax a little. DDIL registered the kids for activities and we finally got called to go through "the ears"' Family picture taken we walked into the ship. When they announced us DH was ecstatic. We ate lunch walked the ship, went to our rooms, which connected, and so began the fun.
Our room host, Nonoy,wasfantastic.Until this day the family swears he slept under the bed and every time we left came out and cleaned the room. Our servers, Wayan and friends, were great and kept the kids entertained at mealtime. We saw the rest of the family at mealtime but everyone had a blast.The grandkids enjoyed the clubs and the pools, the kids enjoyed time for themselves and we enjoyed everything.
Nassau was alright but DH was nervous about getting too far away from the ship. We visited the Straw Market and got back on board. We loved Castaway Cay!! How beautiful! (We would really like to live there.) We all snorkeled except for DDIL and GD2, ate lunch, and then DS's family biked while we rode the paddle boats. We went back on ship to take a nap.
Our review -the food was marvelous, the staff friendly and courteous, and everything was run very efficiently. We have been on the Wonder twice since then-once by ourselves and once we took DMIL(who is in a wheelchair) and have always gotten the same excellent service. We went on another cruise line with our other son and had to be towed into port because the power went out.We are going again (just the 2 of us) in October. If you look at the doors leading off the ship you'll probably see my fingernail marks where they've had to drag us off the ship! Read Less
My wife and I are usually cruising over Christmas, but my Mom asked us to be home this year, so we moved our cruise up a week. This was our fifth holiday cruise and sixth cruise on Norwegian. The Jewel was our second Jewel-class ship - we ... Read More
My wife and I are usually cruising over Christmas, but my Mom asked us to be home this year, so we moved our cruise up a week. This was our fifth holiday cruise and sixth cruise on Norwegian. The Jewel was our second Jewel-class ship - we sailed on the Pearl a couple of years ago.
While it was not exactly the same as a Christmas cruise, it was a cruise with a holiday spirit, especially compared to a New Year's cruise we did a couple of years ago where we left on Christmas Day and everyone seemed a bit cranky until New Year's Eve - the last night of the cruise.
Sailing on another ship in the same class was great because we almost instantly knew where everything was onboard - it was like coming home. That saved us a lot of time the first couple of days on just getting around the ship.
The Jewel is a nice ship and I can easily find my way around her layout, but as our last two cruises were on the Epic and the Breakaway, she almost seemed a step down - which I think may be an unfair comparison, but that was first impressions. The Jewel felt older (because she is) and smaller (also because she is), so I think the comparison was accurate, but it doesn't mean that we didn't like her - it is just a different experience.
This was an interesting cruise for us because all of the ports were places we had been before, so we had different excursions booked than previously. We didn't book anything in Cozumel since we were meeting friends who were also in port that day (on the Dawn.)
We flew into New Orleans the night before departure and stayed at the Hyatt French Quarter - we booked our own flights and hotel. Coming from Dallas, we could probably fly in the day of departure, but I don't have that much stomach lining to spare. Plus, a night in New Orleans is always interesting. We did a little wandering around on Bourbon Street, so we got some of the Nawlins tourist experience.
We arrived at the port just after 11am and got through the paperwork phase quickly. After a short wait, we were allowed to board, and had coffee in the Atrium. This caused a moment of panic, since the computers weren't up yet, and the staff was running paper receipts. I was asked what my room number was, and I had to admit that I had no idea. This is what happens when my wife is in charge of the reservations. Luckily, she had left all the paperwork while she was wandering, so I found my room number. I would have hated to see my first drink repossessed.
We pre-booked our dinners and excursions online as they became available, which meant we didn't have any lines to stand in, so we just relaxed with a drink until we decided to go eat lunch in the Tsar's Palace MDR. I had my usual steak lunch to start the cruise. It was very good.
We were allowed up to the rooms just after 1pm, which seemed early to me, but I was happy to get clearance to go see our home for the next week.
We were in an aft-facing handicap-accessible mini-suite. It is a nice cabin, but a mini-suite is not a suite (no extra services), and aft-facing was not the nirvana we expected. You are looking out the back of the ship, but it's not really much different (to me) to a balcony anywhere else, and if you are sailing west or north most evenings, you will never see a sunset, which was my goal. So, it was worth the expense to see it once, but I'm not really sure I would pay for it again.
We had pre-booked the dinner package with Cagney's, Le Bistro and Mama's for a fixed price, plus a bottle of wine. The first night, we were asked what type of wine (red or white), served, and at the end of the evening, we were given a receipt for the glasses we had not consumed. Since we're not really wine drinkers, the bottle of wine was a nice touch, but saving a bit of money over the individual dinners was more important - since these were the three restaurants we would have visited, anyway.
Mama's was having a bit of a mid-life crisis. Sometimes, it was "Mama's" and sometimes it was "La Cucina" (which is what the Italian restaurant is called on other ships.) Hopefully, the name will be standardized.
All of the dining was very good and the service was good, as well - we had two dinners in Le Bistro, one in Mama's, one in Cagney's and the rest in Azura so I didn't have to change out of shorts. We did eat at Azura one evening and I felt under-dressed, which was a first. There were less sloppy people on this cruise than usual.
We ordered room service for a snack one evening and it was very slow. However, it was just after all the shows finished, so they may have been slammed. It there had been anything open, I would have just walked down and gotten food myself. It would have saved time. (On the newer ships, we would have just gone to O'Sheehan's.)
The staff were great - the Captain was very funny, and I believe staff attitude and actions start at the top. We had no issues with any of the staff. The cruise director and her assistants were not as visible as some have been, but we weren't wandering around as much as on some cruises, so we may not have been in the right places. The evening entertainment (Newlywed, Not So Newlywed, Dancing with the Jewel Stars and other assorted games) were very funny and paced well. We skipped the planned entertainment.
Our first port was Montego Bay, Jamaica and we were docked, but at the commercial dock next to the passenger dock, so all the excursion buses met us there and brought us back. We were on a Norwegian-sponsored excursion, so we just got off the ship and into line. Coming back to the commercial port was an issue if people wanted to shop - but in our case, the excursion went long, so there wasn't much time left, anyway.
Our next stop was Georgetown, Grand Cayman and we tendered. The seas must have been up that day, because we had an excursion canceled (Stingray City) for the first time. We did manage to switch to an alternate excursion - a beach break, but there was only one person at the excursion desk, so it took some time. This was a bit irritating, since the desk knew anyone going to Stingray City (either as an only destination or as a part of a longer excursion) might be changing to something else, so wouldn't it make sense to have extra people around?
The beach excursion was fun and the cost differential was handled easily, so it worked out.
This was actually our second stop in Grand Cayman - we had diverted there on the way to Jamaica for a medical emergency, and had a passenger disembark for care. All we know about it was what we heard from other passengers - since we were aft-facing, we didn't really see anything going on.
Our final port was Cozumel on a day that seven ships were in port. We tendered and it was a rough procedure - the currents were up, so we could tender off only one side of the ship, so it took quite a while. I was beginning to wonder if we were going to make our noon appointment! I am glad we didn't have a planned excursion, since we were not in port late and it took so long to get off the ship. Going back was bumpy as well.
In all, this was a very good cruise. I do enjoy the Jewel class ships (I miss the Spinnaker lounge when we are on the newer ships.) The staff was very helpful, as always. I did expect more Christmas events - even though it was the week before. The ship was decorated but the Christmas music that is usually playing on the TV was missing, and it seemed more like a prelude to Christmas (which is was.) Someone asked about it in the Officer's Q&A, and the cruise director said "Christmas is next week." This is true, but I think for many people, it was a Christmas cruise. Still, it was not a major issue for me - I just had been told by other cruisers that it would be Christmas onboard, and it was, but it wasn't.
The navigation channel on the TV was out. This is a minor issue unless you actually enjoy navigation and trying to determine where you are (and like having something to double-check your GPS readings.) Someone else asked about it in the Q&A session and the Captain said the software was being upgraded, but it wasn't ready, so it was off - since that was better than showing incorrect values. A minor disappointment, but I was glad to know I wasn't the only navigation nerd onboard.
Disembarkation was reasonable - I think they were actually ahead of schedule when our color was called. We got through customs and security fairly quickly and our porter helped us find a cab for the ride back to the airport.
I did enjoy the itinerary - even though we had been to the ports before, they were places I would visit again, and there were three sea days to just relax onboard. The Jewel seemed like home, since we had been on the Pearl, so it was a good week. Read Less
First, some background information. I received a "great last-minute deal" offer from an online TA in late November for a 5-Day Western Caribbean sailing on the brand new Norwegian Pearl. The offer was too good to refuse, so I ... Read More
First, some background information. I received a "great last-minute deal" offer from an online TA in late November for a 5-Day Western Caribbean sailing on the brand new Norwegian Pearl. The offer was too good to refuse, so I recruited by brother as my traveling companion, and booked it. We had paid for a Category N guarantee...by the time the confirmation came back, NCL had upgraded us to a Category JJ on Deck 9. Day One - Embarkation Miami We flew into Miami on the morning of the flight. Our sailing was scheduled for 8pm and we were advised that boarding would not begin until sometime between 1 and 2pm. To pass the time, we caught a cab from the Airport to Bayside to shop and have lunch. As is our practice when traveling, we had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe (add another pin to the collection) where we could sit at look at the Pearl from the windows of the restaurant. There were a total of 6 ships at the Port of Miami that day...and that lead to the first "issue" on this trip. With 6 ships full of passengers having debarked, the traffic leaving the cruise terminal was extremely backed up. Because of this, cabbies were refusing to take us from Bayside to the cruise terminal...they felt the short ride (i.e. low fare) wasn't worth what they would lose being stuck in the exiting traffic jam. It took some doing (and a little bribe), and we finally caught a cab and were on our way. We arrived at the pier a little after 1pm, passed the luggage to the port workers and went inside to get in line to check in. Surprisingly, there really wasn't much of a line...it seems that they actually got boarding started around 11, so it had really thinned out by this time. We completed check in, got our key cards, posed for the embarkation picture, and were off to the ship! Cabins were ready, so we were able to drop off our carry-ons and start to explore our home for the next five days. The Pearl is a beautiful ship. The pictures online really do not do her justice. This ship has to be seen in person. Once we were done with the brief "tour", we returned to the room to get ready for the muster drill. We met our room stewards, Johnson and Susanna outside our room. They were extremely polite and friendly. (And remained that way throughout the cruise). Our muster station was the Indigo Main Dining Room. I didn't know this at the time, but this was the only time I would be here this entire cruise. After the muster drill, we headed for the top decks. With 6 ships (2 each from Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean) in port, there was plenty to see. Since we were scheduled to leave last, we could sit out and watch each of the other 5 ships pull away from the pier and head out to sea. For dinner, we booked a table in Le' Bistro. The service, atmosphere, and the food were fantastic. By the time we finished, the Pearl had left the pier and was well underway. We completely missed sail away! No matter, good food...good company. Since we missed that party, we decided to head up to Spinnakers to see what was going on there. This place was PACKED! It looked like the whole ship had the same idea. You could barely move. As it turned out, that was a good thing. For the rest of the cruise, there seemed to be two different crowds. The 20s and early 30s crowd spent their evenings in Bliss, while the late 30s and up crowd spent their evenings in Spinnakers...and the crowds were never bad again. Day Two - At Sea One thing to understand...my brother is a "sleep in" person, while I am not. So, not wanting to waste a minute of my vacation, I had set my alarm to go off about 15 minutes before sunrise. I got up, threw on some shorts and sneakers and got to watch the sunrise from the jogging track. What a beautiful sight! After walking a few laps (yes walking...this is vacation) I headed down to the Great Outdoors to enjoy a leisurely breakfast. This is a great way to start your day. Time for the first "LOL" of the cruise. When I returned to the cabin, there was my brother, sitting on the end of his bed with a look of half anger and half confusion on his face. The anger came from the fact that when he woke up, he didn't see me in bed and assumed that I was in the bathroom getting ready...and he "needed" to use it. The confusion was a result of me walking into the room and the ensuing realization that I was, in fact, not in the bathroom and that it had been vacant the whole time! After I was able to shower and dress, it was off to Le Bistro for the Meet & Greet. There was probably about 25 people from the roll call in attendance. Additionally, Captain Trond Kildal, Hotel Director Klaus Lugmaier, Asst Hotel Director Prem Kainikkara, Cruise Director Clint Wells, Food & Beverage Director Sean Wurmhoeringer, and a few others came on behalf of the ship's staff. They were all very gracious, taking the time to introduce themselves and answer any questions that we had. Dinner was at Teppanyaki. It was very enjoyable. We were able to meet some interesting and fun people during dinner. The food was well prepared and the "show" was enjoyable. Second "issue" of the cruise: (Note that this was the only real issue. The others were very minor and not any big deal at all.) We had two shore excursions booked for Cozumel; parasailing in the morning, and time on a party boat in the afternoon. When we were getting things ready for the next day, I noticed that someone had changed the scheduled times of our excursions, which would not normally an issue, but you can't parasail if you've been drinking all morning...so this new schedule would not work out. I went to reception to get this changed back. They said the change was done because the morning parasailing had been cancelled and this was the only way we could do both. I explained that you couldn't parasail if you had been drinking first, so we were only going to be doing one excursion anyway. That being the case, I would rather parasail in the afternoon than "party" first thing in the morning. We were told that the excursions could not be changed since it was past 6pm on the day before the excursion and the shore excursion desk was closed for the night. This went back and forth for a while with no progress. Finally, they told me to just see the shore excursion people the next day as they would be available on the beach where everyone met for their excursions. This wasn't going to work. Then I ran into Klaus. I had given up for the evening and was headed back to the room when I ran into Klaus in the hallway. Recognizing me from the Meet & Greet he stopped and asked how my cruise had been going, was I having a good time, did I need anything, etc. So I told him what was going on with the excursions. I'll never forget his reaction. He was genuinely appalled at the customer service I had received. And he fixed it....fast. He delivered the type of service that makes you a customer for life. I learned two things: 1) Check over all of the details on your booked excursions immediately upon boarding...don't wait, and 2) Go to the Meet & Greet to get to know the crewmembers in attendance. When they ask how things are, they aren't just making small talk...they really want to know and they do care. Day Three - Cozumel, Mexico Our day in Cozumel started out with some unexpected entertainment. We pulled in and tied up to the pier. It took about 45 minutes to get everything done so that passengers could disembark. This was just at the time when the Coral Princess was scheduled to dock next to us. For safety reasons, we were told we could not disembark until the Coral Princess was tied up. So the morning entertainment was watching our new neighbor dock. It must have been their first time at this dock, though, as they couldn't get off of the ship. They had one gangway to use and where the gangway would attach to the ship stood a big light pole on the pier! It took a bunch of confused dock workers about a half hour to figure out what to do! Once we finally got off the ship, we walked into town for more of our practice...lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe (and another pin for the collection) followed by some souvenir shopping in town. We got back in time to be picked up for our parasailing excursion. This was a lot of fun. There was a total of eight of us that signed up. Three pairs (tandem) and my brother and I went up separately. It was a great time, and the tour provider did a wonderful job. When we returned to the ship, we found treats in our room "Courtesy of the Hotel Director". A really nice touch. We spent the remainder of the day in the spa enjoying the steam room and sauna. Dinner was in the Main Dining Room. This would turn out to be the worst meal of the cruise. The food was OK, but there really wasn't anything on the menu that I liked that night. Additionally, I think my stomach wasn't real happy about bobbing around in the parasailing boat all afternoon. After dinner, we went to the Stardust to catch the 2nd City Show. It was very entertaining. Day Four - Belize City, Belize Belize was a tender port. We had booked the Lost Canopy Zip Line Tour with the ship. After a short tender ride, we met up with our group, were loaded on a bus, and were on our way. Our adventure started with a guided tour of the town and outlying countryside, followed by a looooooooong stretch on a pothole-filled dirt road to the zip line site. Afterwards, they took us for a barbeque lunch. All-in-all a really fun day. If you go, don't forget your bug spray. We had some time to browse through the many shops at the pier before returning to the ship on one of the last tenders. We had reservations at Mambo's, so we went to the room to shower and change for dinner. While we were gone, more treats had been delivered to the cabin... "Compliments of the Concierge - Ruth". What a pleasant surprise. Mambo's was fantastic. In every restaurant (except once in the MDR) I was able to find at least 2 or 3 items that I liked to choose from. Not here. I liked EVERYTHING. I should say that I LOVE Mexican food. I could eat it everyday. If I would have known about this menu earlier in the cruise, I would have eaten here every day. After dinner, we went to the Stardust to see Jean Ann Ryan's Garden of the Geisha show. It was also fantastic. Interesting to see them doing acrobatics on a moving ship. Day Five - At Sea Our last full day onboard. Surprisingly enough, the last four days had gone by pretty slow. Time to enjoy and absorb everything. Not today. This day went flying by like a speeding train. I think it was the knowledge that we were on our way back home. We finally got to spend some time on the Pearl's rock climbing wall. We had met some friends on the zip line tour so they joined us for some climbing time. It was a lot of fun. Dinner for our last evening was to be in Cagney's...courtesy of Klaus. (Thank you). Great service, great food, and to top it off, the Asst Maitre D', Joey Lepasana was fantastic. I had no idea what I wanted to eat, and he made some great recommendations. After dinner, we went down to catch the early show in the Stardust. Tonight's show was the Comedy Magic of Bob and Sarah Trunell, followed by the crew show. It was excellent. Afterwards, I had planned to stop in the shops. I wanted to get an NCL Pearl "Inaugural Season" souvenir. Third "issue" of the cruise...I couldn't get a souvenir. All of the shops had closed for the night (and the remainder of the cruise) at 6pm...for inventory. Unbelievable! I didn't want to ruin my last night over this, so I just moved on. It just seemed silly to close stores when you had customers ready to spend money. I guess you have to pick your battles. Day Six - Disembarkation Miami We were scheduled to dock at 8am in Miami. I wanted to get up so that I could watch the ship come in, turn around in the basin, and then dock at the pier. Wasn't meant to be. I woke up at 7am. We were already tied to the pier in Miami. Nothing to do but have breakfast and get ready to leave. We had a nice leisurely breakfast in the Great Outdoors. If the weather is nice, you can't beat this place for breakfast. Disembarking was very easy. We had left our luggage out the night before, so we just grabbed our carry-ons and walked off. We were easily able to find our luggage on the pier and customs was a snap. I don't think the whole think took more than 15 minutes. Plenty of cabs were available for the quick trip to Miami Airport for the flight home. Summary This cruise was the first time I had been on a ship in 20 years. "Traditional" cruising never appealed to me. Now that I've tried freestyle, I know I'll be back. A lot of places refer to you as their "customer", NCL staffers kept referring to us as "guests". Now I see why. That is how they treat you. Read Less
First off we sailed two years ago and since then I know they did an "upgrade" on the ship as well as the itenirary has changed greatly. It now sails out of San Diego to the Mexican riviera, when we went, it sailed out of Port ... Read More
First off we sailed two years ago and since then I know they did an "upgrade" on the ship as well as the itenirary has changed greatly. It now sails out of San Diego to the Mexican riviera, when we went, it sailed out of Port Canaveral to the Bahamas. First off we drove down to the port (I hate to fly) and I also enjoy the scenery you miss when you fly. We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites in Cocoa Beach, just across from the ocean and just a couple minutes from the port- we could even see the ships from our room. On a side note- fabulous hotel for a low rate!! They even will let you park your car there and shuttle you over to the port for free. We did not take advantage of this opportunity and boy we should have. I didn't want to have to wait at the port for a ride as we were in a hurry to get back home (got a call on the way down our children whom we left back at home had fallen very ill). However I found out the hotel shuttle was there waiting even before passengers disembarked. Not to mention I dropped $60 to park at the port. All in all the parking for those who drive is very easy to get in and out of and is as close to the ship as you can get! A porter walked right up to us as we got our luggage out of our car and took care of it for us. We tipped him well since he was very nice, very helpful and carried it across the parking lot. Embarkation: VERY EASY at Canaveral. We stood in a line of about 75 people, got there early, until the doors opened (12:30pm) which was only about 10 minutes later. Once the doors opened, we were inside, through security, checked in at the desk with our sail and sign cards and had a photo taken and on the ship all within 15 minutes flat. We were told our room wouldn't be ready until about 1:30, however we just wanted to get a feel of where our room would be so we walked by right after getting on board and found it already for us. So we dropped off our backpack we took on with us and headed to the buffet. Food- Very good. I was quite surprised to find myself eating such great food during embarkation and before we even set sail! Before the sail off party my wife and I already had ate several things we never had before. The food was always visually stunning and tasted great. We hit the buffet everyday for lunch and breakfast. We also tried the pool side grill for breakfast once to see what it was like and found it was really just another smaller version of the lido deck buffet, but it did have made to order omelets. We ate in the dining room every night for dinner and were never let down. Our server was Cicero and he sure did a great job. By the end of the cruise- he had my wife laughing to the point she almost teared up. She ordered the melting chocolate cake every night- so on the final night, he didn't even give her a desert menu, just brought the cake straight out to her. All the food in the dining room was great, especially on formal night. We both had lobster and they also served filet minon. I never had had a minon, and was talking to another guy at our table when he mentioned, they allow you to order anything you want and as much as you want in the dining room- this I didn't know. So I asked the waiter and sure enough he brought me out a 2nd entree- the filet minon. As a side note- they'll do this for any course, so try a couple things if they both sound good. The only thing we didn't do was go to the dining room for breakfast and lunch. Another couple at our table went there each day for all meals and mentioned it was a great fresh breathe of air to go there instead of the bufett and most people didn't go to the dining room, also they said the food was 10 times better. This is something we are going to do on our next cruise. Entertainment- OKAY. The shows were very good, especially the midnight adult only shows- laughed till we cried! However they do a passenger talent show the night before our last and it's well worth skipping. I didn't shell out $2000 to see a bunch of people try to be the next Carribean Idol- god help them all. As far as at Sea Days, we only had one as we were on a shorter cruise. That day we spent mainly walking around trying to find something to do. This was one of the very few let downs- they scheduled many of the activites (ie: ice carving, galley tours, dance classes, ect) on port days!! This we didn't understand. But we still enjoyed the mini golf and relaxing on the lido deck. Activities- NEEDS IMPROVEMENT. The ship had several pools and a water slide- but we never could find when they were open. Night or day, the pools were always drained and closed. The two times (the evening of sail out, and the afternoon of the 3rd day) we saw them open, they were absolutely ran over by kids. There were so many kids in the pools that the ship actually stationed a crew member at the pool whom would then stop letting more in until so many got out. So needless to say we never got an opportunity to enjoy the pools, slide, or hot tubs. Every night we found all the bars/clubs empty. This was a shock as it was during spring break time, we figured the ship would be livlier, but that partying all took place on the lido deck by the pools. We aren't much for partying, but we left the kids at home to break out of our shell a bit. We did find one bar the final night that had a band doing rock and roll cover music- fantastic show!!! Our cruise director was awesome- very funny and always visable. There was a sidekick though that was a complete dork and annoying. The mini golf was fun, especially where it was located- on top of the ship with a view that is unimaginable! Cabin- Very surprised. We booked a ocean view room, as it was our first cruise as wanted to be able to see the ocean anytime day or night. We were quite surprised the size of the window- it was huge!!! Also the room was much larger than we thought it would be as we always heard the old stories of the tiny cabins on cruise ships- further from the truth. Also the tv played movies that weren't even out on dvd yet, which was nice late at night when we retired to the room- only suggestion: DON'T PLAY THE MOVIE "THE GURDIAN" about coast gurad divers rescuing people from sinking ships on a cruise!!! :) The movie was good though. Our housekeeper was very nice and attentive. He dazzled us with the famous animal towels of course and was always willing to do anything for us. Final Suggestions: GET INVOLVED! Look at the capers (daily newsletter) delivered to your room nightly, and go participate in all the activities/shows/parties that you can. Get to know the other people at your dining table and make friends quickly- do this at the sail out party. The friendlier you are and the more outgoing, the more fun you will have. We were seated with older couples and still had fun and found many things in common. We also ran into another couple at sail out and ended up meeting with them several times at a bar just to chit chat. And finally pack light! You will find that you won't wear half of what you bring. Other than the dining room, we wore a t-shirt and swim suit the entire time.
Debarkaton- A NIGHTMARE! We sat in the show room from 7:30am until 10:00am waiting for our number to be called. We eventually gave up and just got in line as we noticed nobody hardly came in to announce the numbers and it was a complete mess. Waiting in line from deck 7 to get to deck 3 to get off and wait for customs as well. Once we got off the ship we waiting another 30 minutes to get out of the terminal. This was awful!!! I've heard much better and smoother debarkations at other ports- from what I can gather, this is pretty much a Port Canaveral problem. Also over the past 12 months, Carnival has imporoved their debarkation process and I've been told by fellow cruisers who've sailed just this year and report being off the ship by 8:30am. We are going to the Western Carribean in January and I hope that holds true. Read Less
Our 10 night Southern Caribbean cruise on the Maasdam was one of my favorites. The ship itself, though small, was beautiful and more than comfortable, even in our inside cabin. I can find very few things to complain about--the weather was ... Read More
Our 10 night Southern Caribbean cruise on the Maasdam was one of my favorites. The ship itself, though small, was beautiful and more than comfortable, even in our inside cabin. I can find very few things to complain about--the weather was a little rough our first few days, so we had to skip Half Moon Cay, but that was hardly the ship's fault. The food was absolutely delicious and more than exceeded the high expectations we have of the Holland America Line. The service was as good as I have seen in the cruising world-friendly and personal, by the end of the cruise even crew members in the bar knew us, conversed with us, and asked if we would like our usual favorites. Our waiter entertained us with magic tricks--mostly for the kids' benefit, but entertaining and touching nonetheless. I highly recommend longer cruises if you want good service, and longer cruises on smaller mid-size ships especially. The public areas were beautifully decorated, especially the piano bar, with cloth wall hangings that made it look like the inside of a Far East tent. We discovered it near the end of the cruise and enjoyed delicious complimentary appetizers, including duck spring rolls. The entire ship was spotless and in very good condition. The Lido restaurants onboard Holland America's ships are the best cruise ship buffets in my opinion--very clean, beautifully decorated, food nearly as good as in the main dining room, and good service. Some ships have individual stations for pasta, Asian, deli, etcetera where the crew member will personalize your food. The Maasdam did not have the individual stations and had a more traditional long buffet instead, which required you to wait in lines, but they were not too long and it was still remarkably well serviced for a buffet, and you could still get made-to-order pasta or stir-fry. The Lido pool area was very nice, with a graceful dolphin statue and raised terrace for eating. There were not very many children onboard the ship on our trip but the children in our family like it better that way--fewer kids means more personalized attention in the kids' program, better activities, and more chances to bond with the other kids. We still keep in touch with some of the friends we met onboard. The itinerary was incredible. Dominica had a botanical garden with a small mountain which we hiked on our own for beautiful view of the sea and the island. Unfortunately we had to skip Half Moon Cay but we have been there on two other occasions, and it has gorgeous white sand, crystal-clear blue water, fun features like trampolines and other anchored, oversized "toys" in the water, water slides for kids, and if there are two different ships docked they have ship-versus-ship volleyball games and other activities. We also went to Curacao, a beautiful port reminiscent of European towns, and had a great time just walking around. We could have probably replaced St. Thomas with another port as we have already been there many times, but this is forgivable. Altogether the Maasdam was a very nice ship, I give it five stars, and I highly recommend it for families, seniors, couples and just about anyone. Read Less
I took my mother on her 1st cruise and chose the Explorer of the Seas. And I thank God every day that we did. My mother became very ill on the 2nd day of the cruise. The room staff could not have been nicer to her.
Mom was not able to ... Read More
I took my mother on her 1st cruise and chose the Explorer of the Seas. And I thank God every day that we did. My mother became very ill on the 2nd day of the cruise. The room staff could not have been nicer to her.
Mom was not able to leave the stateroom and our steward would check on her every other hour when she knew that Mom was alone (like when we went to eat or get off ship). We weren't able to keep all but 1 shore excursion because we were afraid to leave ship with Mom being sick. We did get off to go to pharmacy and grocery stores so we could supplies for her.
The room staff made sure that she could get things she wanted to eat even if it was not on the menu. The Doctor and Nurses on board were great too - but I just want to make sure the room stewards get their props because they went above and beyond for Mom.
Everything else on ship was great. Would never hesitate to take another cruise on Explorer. Read Less
In this review you won't find simply a list of facts you can find anywhere, but rather details from our personal experience as passengers aboard the Disney Wonder in 2007. The fact that I am writing this review 2 years later and can ... Read More
In this review you won't find simply a list of facts you can find anywhere, but rather details from our personal experience as passengers aboard the Disney Wonder in 2007. The fact that I am writing this review 2 years later and can remember so vividly the details should tell you how much we enjoyed our cruise. My goal is to provide inside tips and information that you might not find anywhere else...things I would have found helpful, had I known ahead of time. Disney Cruiseline has a very informative website with statistical facts (i.e. size, capacity,stateroom square footage, etc.) But, for a passengers perspective, along with little things you may be surprised to learn, read on...
PORT CANAVERAL-PARKING-BAGGAGE-PARKING-PARKING ALTERNATIVE
The day we embarked on our 4-day Disney Cruise was full of classic Disney perfection. As a life-long fan of all things Disney, I couldn't wait to walk aboard the Disney Wonder and see what magic was in store for us. Along with my husband of 2 days and my 11 year old son, I arrived at Disney's cruise terminal in Port Canaveral. We were first directed by a parking attendant toward the front door of the building, where baggage handlers were waiting. We exited and took our carry-on bags, as the handlers carried off our other bags. Just like my experiences with workers at Walt Disney World, everyone was smiling, as if they were as happy about our cruise as we were. One handler noticed I was searching one of my bags and offered to help me find something. I told her that I was just making sure my anti-nausea (for sea-sickness) medication was in my purse. She was quick to advise me that now would be a great time to go ahead and take that medication if I am prone to sea-sickness. I felt it was a thoughtful gesture and I took her advice. SIDENOTE: Turns out, I never felt "sea-sick" on the cruise, but since I'm prone to motion sickness, I always advise having some on hand when cruising. I suggest Bonine's once-a-day chewables (non-drowsy). Although it is not required, please tip these very kind hard workers who handle your bags. They are in the sweltering heat of Florida making sure your bags arrive promptly to your stateroom...and doing so with a smile. While my son & I entered the terminal, my husband parked our car in the terminal parking lot, for which there is a pretty hefty fee. Various cruiselines change between $8-15 per day for parking. Since that trip, we have learned that The Country Inn & Suites in Cape Canaveral has a deal with certain rooms that includes parking (though unsecured) for the duration of your cruise, plus a shuttle ride to and from the terminal. For our upcoming 7-day cruise, we are definitely taking advantage of that deal. We are staying for $130, for 1 night, in a 1-BR suite the night before our cruise. That rate includes the parking for 8 total days and the shuttle both ways, saving us enough to almost pay for the suite!
INSIDE THE TERMINAL
Upon entering the Disney Cruiseline terminal, we were directed to a very long line of excited travellers, winding through ropes leading to the check-in counter. Given the length of the line, I expected to be there for hours, but was pleased to discover a Disney employee walking through the line, making sure everyone had what would be needed to avoid delays. Since I was standing in line alone with three passports, he kindly held my place in line while I located my family and had them join me. All parties are required to stand in the check-in line and be presented at the counter for check-in. We had checked-in online prior to our drive to Florida, speeding up our process a little, once at the counter. Over all, the line moved quickly and at the counter each group was given a boarding number. While we waited for the number to be called, we took pictures with the scale model of the ship & people-watched. From baggage handling to boarding took approximately an hour, but the time passed very quickly and the check-in process was very smooth.
WELCOME TO THE DISNEY WONDER
Disney has a special way of welcoming you onto the Wonder. First, you will have your photo taken with your group or family which can be purchased onboard (see PHOTOS later for more details). You enter the gangway though a giant set of mouse ears, greeted by a crew member with a microphone who will ask your last name. Then he or she will announce "Disney welcomes the (name) Family!!" as several other crew members cheer & applaud your arrival, as if they had been waiting there just for YOU to arrive. The first thing you notice, even if you aren't trying to, is the fact that there aren't Mickey Mouse's and Goofy's all over. The Disney Wonder is not, in any way "cartoony". It's tastefully decorated like a classic oceanliner. But if you really pay attention, you'll discover there are what we called, "Hidden Mickeys" all over. The shape of Mickey's head can be found in the elevator shaft dEcor and the stair rails, among other clever locations. The artwork throughout is amazing and the overall theme is Luxury, not Mickey & Minnie. We were directed upstairs to the Beach Blanket Buffet for lunch, as our stateroom were not yet ready. This was a process we were not expecting, but lunch was so fabulous, we didn't mind waiting to see our stateroom at all. Even with hundreds boarding the ship at a time, the buffet line was fast and finding a table on the deck was easy. The buffet was filled with fruit, sandwiches, salmon, several other main dishes and sides, and a variety of desserts. It was a terrific sampling that caused many passengers, including us, to say, "Wow, I wonder what's for dinner!" A word of caution about the Beach Blanket Buffet dining deck...When in port, there will be seagulls flying overhead just waiting for someone to walk away from their tray. A passenger near us DID walk away and returned to an empty tray. Since the buffet is all you can eat, its not a problem, just an inconvenience...but good for a chuckle!
STATEROOM-MUSTER DRILL-BON VOYAGE PARTY
By the time we finished lunch, our stateroom was ready. We were very excited about seeing it. We chose the Deluxe Family Stateroom with Navigator's Verandah. It was beautiful. We were pleased to see lots of drawer space and a generously sized closet. Our luggage had not yet arrived at our stateroom, a process that takes a few hours, at least. It was amazing to me that they were able to organize that many bags in the time they did. Please be prepared to see your bags arrive one-by-one...they will not arrive all at the same time but they will all arrive eventually. Clearly the best feature of our stateroom was the split-bathroom design. You'll see on the floorplans on the website, that in most rooms, there are basically two baths, kind of. One has a commode and sink and the other, a shower and sink. Add this to the mirrored vanity in the room and three people can get ready without being in each other's way. It was definitely a well-planned design that worked very well for the three of us. The bed & the fold out sofa my son slept on were very both comfortable.
I cannot review our stateroom without mentioning the wonderful woman who took care of us each day and night...Monique. She provided adorable towel animals each night, kept our stateroom supplied with ice, turned down our beds and cleaned our stateroom. We never had to ask for anything, as anything we could possibly need was provided without any effort on our parts. We gave her an extra tip, in addition to the standard, due to her kindness, hard work and her efforts to make our vacation perfect. THANK YOU MONIQUE!
If you haven't been on a cruise, you may not be aware that the ship's crew is required to run a mock evacuation/safety demonstration (Muster Drill). Just be glad they aren't required to test out the lifeboats each trip. This drill takes about a half hour, requires that you wear an ugly florescent orange life vest , but is a necessary delay of fun. Trying to avoid it only delays other passengers, so just go with the flow, have a sense of humor and get through the drill. The time of the drill & instructions will be announced on the intercom and on your in room television. Once the Muster Drill ends, passengers return their life vests to their staterooms and most gather on Decks Nine (the pool deck) & Ten (the deck that overlooks the pool) to enjoy a bon voyage drink (for a fee) and enjoy the embarkation party. Disney party includes entertainment by the Cruise Director, Crew Members and some special guests, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald and Daisy. During all the fun and dancing and singing, we were busy waving the family we left on land, as they had dinner on the patio of Fishlips Restaurant in Port Canaveral. It was a treat for them to see us off and take pictures of us waving bon voyage!
DINNER-THEME NIGHT-DESSERT BUFFET-BREAKFAST-LUNCH
One feature of Disney Cruiselines that I found to be a fabulous twist was "rotational dining". Typically you are seated at the same table, in the same dining room each night of your cruise. With Disney, you are assigned a wait staff, but are seated in one of three dining rooms nightly, with your wait staff following you from dining room to dining room. Parrot Cay has a Caribbean theme, Tritons is an "Under the Sea" themed dining room and Animators Palate is an dining experience like no other. In Animator's Palate, the room and everything in it (including the wait staff's uniforms) is black and white and very brightly lit when you arrive. You are surrounded by drawn images of Disney characters. You almost feel animated, yourself in this environment. During the course of your meal, a carefully choreographed music set becomes more active at times, as the lights dim a bit. You'll hardly notice the transformation unless you're watching for it. By dessert, the walls, the ceiling, and the uniforms worn by the staff are brightly colored, as if the "animator" has painted it while you enjoyed dinner. For details on how Disney made this happen and a million other tips on this cruise, I suggest watching the Disney Cruise special on the Travel Channel. They replay it quite often. We recorded it & watched the show about 20 times before sailing. In our 4-night cruise, our formal night was at Tritons, at which we also had a casual night. We chose the 8:30 dinner seating because we preferred to not cut our afternoons short to go get ready for dinner. This plan worked out beautifully. Our waiter & assistant waiter were fabulous. Their names were Roche and Rolly...nicknamed as a team, "Rock & Roll". They remembered our names and our drink preferences each night. My son, at the time was a little hesitant back then about trying new foods. They served him a steak, broccoli and baked potato each night. He was so very excited to have steak every night! Rolle even cut his steak for him each night. Although my son was capable, he enjoyed Rolle making jokes as he cut his steak. Rolle even fed him a bite while he cut. It was a nice touch & very comical. Everyone asks, "How was the food?" Well, the food was terrific, standing far above that of the finest restaurants I've been to. I am not an adventurous eater but I tried something new every night and was never disappointed. The portions were perfect, leaving us satisfied but never uncomfortably stuffed. The entire dining experience was delightfully delicious and altogether perfect. "Formal night" was not as formal as on some other ships. I don't recall seeing any tuxedos or evening gowns. I do suggest at least wearing suites with ties & a very nice dress. On this night, there is also a theme. Ours was Pirate Night. We were given pirate hats made of napkins to wear during dinner and our waitstaff was dressed in pirate costumes. After dinner, there was a dessert buffet on the pool deck that was so unimaginable that I feel I cannot do it justice with words. During this buffet, "Pirates of the Caribbean" was shown on the enormous TV on this deck. Breakfasts and Lunches are open seating with several options. We chose to have breakfast at the buffet each morning...a fabulous buffet to get our day started.
Throughout your cruise, you will be approached by photographers to pose for pictures. Don't be camera shy when they come around...it's well worth it when it comes time to buy prints. Right after dinner each night, we went to the photography gallery to search for ours. We found that they were very well organized and almost every shot was perfect. While we expected to buy a picture or two, I think we left the ship with at least 5 or 6. In addition to random shots by roaming photogs, there are also formal portrait seatings set up each evening. Some are Disney character-related for kids. The night we decided to have a portrait seating (which is free & worth standing in line for), the theme was "Barefoot". The photographs turned out very nice. coincidentally, the three of us all wore a shade of blue and posed sitting on an all white background barefoot. I highly suggest sitting for this portrait & like the other pictures, these can be purchased, copied, resized or added to a disk in the gallery.
Another wonderful feature is the pool variety and the entire deck design. The pool deck, deck nine is separated into three completely different environments, each with its own freshwater pool: The Disney Wonder has a "Mickey" shaped pool for kids at one end, with a slide and a certain famous mouse's face at the bottom. I did notice a sign that children wearing diapers, pull-ups, or even swim diapers were not allowed in the pool. I have no idea how much this is enforced by the cruiseline, so I would ask ahead of time if I had small children. This pool is adjacent to the free refreshment area, a burger stand that offers much more than burgers, and the ice cream machine. In the middle of Deck nine is a "Goofy" family pool in the middle, which is sometimes covered to accommodate dancing or chairs for the nightly movie.. This pool is a simple rectangle. It isn't terrible large but is never seems to be overcrowded. We used this pool on our day at sea and, even then, with everyone on board, we did not feel crowded. This pool is surrounded by a pizza stand on one end and the video arcade on the other. There are also movies or Disney shows playin on the giant TV hanging above the deck, viewable from this pool. Beyond the family pool, you'll walk though a transition of space where even the music changes. This area is an adults only pool called Quiet Cove. It is complete with hot tubs, a beautiful pool and a bar. I highly recommend escaping to this pool with a tropical drink, even if just for a moment. We enjoyed relaxing in this area after a long day of walking Nassau.
Each night, we went to the pre-dinner show at around 6:45. The shows were amazing. The performances were very impressive, even to my son. The younger children in house must have been thoroughly entertained because we weren't aware they were in the theatre until we walked out with them. In typical Disney fashion, they managed to mesmerize adults and children alike. As I write this, I am trying to claim a favorite and I simply cannot. I was completely impressed with each and every show. Other than the Broadway-like shows, we also went to a family oriented comedy show. It was short but cute. The comedian messed with my son a little, which was funny.
NASSAU & CASTAWAY CAY
Most of this section will be about Castaway Cay. I have now been to Nassau twice and consider it an excellent opportunity to spend the stop onboard the ship to enjoy its features while everyone is elsewhere. If I am ever on a cruise that goes to Nassau again, I do plan to go to Atlantis, probably the only worthwhile feature of the destination. With that said, if a stop in Nassau is your only way to visit Castaway Cay...embrace the time you spend there as a means to see Disney's private island...it's worth it! Castaway Cay is Disney's private island in the Bahamas. On the day we were to arrive there, my husband woke us up early so we could have breakfast and watch the ship dock on the island. As it turns out, we were seated for breakfast just in time to watch the ship take its spot right at the island's dock. From pictures on the website, we instantly identified that the family beach was the main point of view. It had rather still, crystal blue water. The white powdery sand was raked perfectly as if we were the first to step on this island. If you want to send family back home something special, I suggest you prepare some postcards to friends, family and to yourself (yes, to YOURSELF), take them to the little island Post Office and buy special Castaway Cay stamps. Your postcard will be postmarked from Castaway Cay and will arrive at their addressees in a couple of weeks. The Castaway Cay post office is located about 50 yards from the ship and only takes cash. You will be reminded several times that no cash is needed on the island but definitely take a few dollars to mail postcards. When we received our postcard at home that we wrote to ourselves, we had been home two weeks or so and were still in a vacation haze from our trip. Seeing the card in the mailbox sparked a special moment of tropical bliss as we remembered our experience. I realize how crazy that sounds, but wait...you'll see. Shortly past the post office is a shuttle stopping first at to the family beach, then the Teen beach and Serenity Bay, the Adult Beach. My son was not old enough to go to the Teen Beach so we stayed with him at the Family Beach the whole day. I would have loved to have seen the Adult Beach and will definitely see it next time. The Family Beach was wonderful. My son played "Survivor" on the in-water jungle gym as we floated on rented floats and tubes. These rentals were very reasonably priced and were for the entire day. We also purchased a soft cooler filled with ice and 6 non-alcoholic drinks of our choice for about $20, a great value considering the cooler had the Castaway Cay logo and was of great quality. Later in the day, we had arranged ahead of time to rent bikes to tour the island on our own. We picked from adorable sort of old-fashioned bikes and rode through the island, taking in its beauty. We did pass the Adult Beach and of what we could see, definitely serene..in fact, surprisingly empty. Lunch on the island was fabulous. The Beach Blanket Buffet on the ship closes and the same buffet, with a caribbean twist, is served on the island instead. We feasted on burgers, BBQ, salad, fruit, ice cream and listened to caribbean music. It was very enjoyable. On the island, we also bought t-shirts and found that most souvenirs were not outrageously prices as we expected. Some of the more attractive shirts were priced as low as $12-15. I don't mind admitting, that as our visit to Castaway Cay ended and we shuttled back to the ship, I had moments where I could have been convinced to give up my life back home to live, or even work on the island. Back on the ship, I couldn't help but gaze at the beautiful island and wish... When the ship pulls out of its dock at Castaway Cay, crew members who are staying behind to clean up and prepare for the next visitors stand on the dock and wave with giant Mickey Mouse hands, a very cute touch.
What I have written doesn't begin to cover our experience aboard the Disney Wonder. Not only do I recommend this trip, I highly encourage anyone and everyone to take this adventure. Large families, Couples without children, Extended families...anyone. After we came home, my parents-in-law & my sister-in-law with her family, immediately booked the same cruise, only with two stops at Castaway instead of Nassau. They also enjoyed the trip very much.
There are other cruiselines where you'll spend a little less and, in a few cases, a lot less, for a family cruise. With that said, I can say it was worth every hard earned penny and we will certainly do it again in the future. Disney is launching two new ships over the next few years and we plan to be on at least one of them.
I will soon be reviewing Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, now sailing from Port Canaveral, Florida. We set sail on this adventure, June 09. Read Less
Two, almost three, years ago our family embarked on a cruise which travelled to Brisbane, Hamilton Island, Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville and Cooktown. Passengers on board were in the older age group, from fifty to ninety and we were a ... Read More
Two, almost three, years ago our family embarked on a cruise which travelled to Brisbane, Hamilton Island, Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville and Cooktown. Passengers on board were in the older age group, from fifty to ninety and we were a family of four with two teens. However we didn't mind the older crowd and loved the fact we had a pleasant quite trip. Our room was perfect, well kept, spacious and restored. The bathroom was decent sized, with space and good facilities. The bedroom had a sofa bed where the girls slept and were comfortable. It was cleaned regularly and towels replaced every day. The stateroom was wonderful.
The food was absolutely divine. We were fed ten times a day, no joke, and meals decent portions. It was beautifully preserved, fresh, well cooked. The two restaurants upstairs, Sabatini's and the SteakHouse, had exceptional service. The waiters were friendly and experienced, the food fantastic and the decor wonderful. All staff were amazing, with their serving skills very high and we thoroughly enjoyed our time together, and the way they spoiled us, however compared to other cruises was just above average and nothing more.
The shops, services, spa, salon and fitness centre were great, all with experienced and lovely staff who did their up most to please us. The tours were great as well, a little high in prices but wide in range and suited our needs. The City Highlights tours weren't to be missed.
However, since then, the ship was taken to America to cruise Alaska and the French Polynesia. Since then it has completely gone down hill, as other cruise passengers we have met have sailed post April 07 have seen the downfall. Still we enjoyed our brief time there.
Our highlight was the brilliant cruise director Dan who was hilarious and such a down to earth guy. He made entertainment and all activities on board wonderful and he was a scream. The whole team was brilliant. Read Less
I cruised on CARNIVAL MIRCLE in August 2007 It was the best time I had on my first cruise. I cruised with my then 14 yr old daughter. I figured it would have been nice for her and I to spend some mom and daughter time together. I was wrong ... Read More
I cruised on CARNIVAL MIRCLE in August 2007 It was the best time I had on my first cruise. I cruised with my then 14 yr old daughter. I figured it would have been nice for her and I to spend some mom and daughter time together. I was wrong she discovered some friends on board and that was it for me...So, I found my own fun the ship had so much to offer. I played bingo, when we weren't at the ports, and even then she wanted to leave me...However, the ships interior was beautiful including my room I was upgraded to the 8th floor from the 4th floor to a balcony room I was delighted. I didn't know what to do at first when I recived the confirmation in my email that I was on the 8th floor in a blacony room, I thought they made a mistake I was gonna call them and mention that they did something wrong. My mom told me it was a upgrade, so don't worry about it well I was Happy. Ok once on board my daughter and I were starving so we went up to the lido deck and grabbed some lunch which was delicious. My ship left from NY, so once on board we had the pleasure of reading that I ship will be diverted due to the HURRICANE that is happening in the carribean, so we ended up going to Turks and caicos instead of Pureto Rico. I didn't care where we went as long as we were going and I was on the ship...The staff on board were wonderful they were so friendly and a pleasure to chit chat with. Overall I had a good time the ship was very clean, My cabin was fixed up everyday with clean towels available for my daughter and myself. I will be sure to take another cruise on carnival. THANK YOU CARNIVAL FOR A GREAT TIME. Read Less
As A 21 year old girl who frequently cruises with family and friends I thought it would be interesting to hear A review from someone who isn't exactly on a cruise to gain knowledge about the port or ship, but is there to have fun with ... Read More
As A 21 year old girl who frequently cruises with family and friends I thought it would be interesting to hear A review from someone who isn't exactly on a cruise to gain knowledge about the port or ship, but is there to have fun with family and friends, relax and party.
The only two cruise lines I have traveled with is Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Personally, I prefer Carnival. For any family traveling with teens and young adults, Carnival is more fun. The staff and cruise line in general is more laid back and less strict when it comes to allowing teens into the casino and clubs past a certain time at night. When I was 14 I took a carnival cruise (Carnival Legend) and played in the casino and got into the club past the "teen" hours. The same thing happened when I was on A carnival cruise when I was 16 (Carnival Victory). I looked older then I was, so maybe that helped get me in, but if you look really young, they'll ask for proof of age. Often times, me and my friend would walk in with people we met that were older and they never questioned us.
On Royal Caribbean I had just turned 18 and went with a friend who wasn't turning 18 for another two months. They gave her a hard time about going into the nightclub during the "adult" hours (past 11 pm I believe). To get around this, I would stand next to the guard and talk to them to distract them while we snuck her past security. It was so easy to get in if you look old enough. Royal Caribbean punches holes in your room key, 2 holes if your under 21 and 1 if your over 21. Thats how they no if you can order drinks, so unless someone else is putting the tab on their card, its really hard to get drinks.
Although Royal Caribbean is known for their bigger than life ships, I find carnival to be an overall better cruise. The food is amazing and there is no shortage of fun. On the cruises I've been on both lines seem to have many young adults but carnival truely is more of a "fun ship"