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21,648 Family Cruise Reviews

We joined our close friends (group of 13) on this Birthday celebration cruise. 3 in our party were celebrating birthdays. We flew in to San Juan a few days early and stayed at the Sheraton in Old San Juan. It was an amazing hotel. A little ... Read More
We joined our close friends (group of 13) on this Birthday celebration cruise. 3 in our party were celebrating birthdays. We flew in to San Juan a few days early and stayed at the Sheraton in Old San Juan. It was an amazing hotel. A little pricey, but the location was well worth it. The bar in the hotel has great food and drinks. You will likely have to wait to check in as rooms are not available until after 4pm, but they will take your bags so you can spend some time in the bar. they have great wraps in the bar. On Sunday, The staff at the hotel got us a taxi right away to go to the Pan American Pier to get on the Freedom of the Seas. we shared a van taxi with others going to the same pier, so it was pretty inexpensive. We arrived at the port at 1130 and there was absolutely NO LINE! You have to drop your bags off with porters on one side and walk over to the check in area. Not a big deal because there was hardly anyone there. We were checked in and on the ship within 15 minutes! crazy fast! Once on board, they were trying to direct everyone to the Windjammer buffet for lunch, we instead when to Deck 5 (Promenade) and got pizza at Sorrento's and our first drinks at the Bull and Bear Bar. Huge shoutout to Simona in the bar.. she really gave us excellent service. During the first day, dining room staff are making rounds convincing people to sign up for specialty restaurant dining. We signed up for Chops and Giovannis. I liked Giovannis better as we are not big Steak eaters. Both were good, but it was $134 to do both, plus gratuity. Beware if you order the whole lobster... it comes in the shell but the lobster meat was removed, chopped up and mixed with some kind of sauce. not what I was expecting for another $21 on top of everything. We got the beverage package and it was worth every penny. The bar staff and dining room staff are very attentive and bring you drinks constantly. We tipped cash often ($5, $10 here and there) and it payed off in excellent service. The ship has the self serve soda machines and you get a cup as part of your package that has some kind of sensor in it. when you put it up to the machine, it allows you to choose from soooo many drinks, plus water, sparking water, etc. I can only drink clear diet soda so it worked great. Another tip, ask for water with your drinks, you will never run short of bottled water. There are always team members offering water when you exit the ship for excursions as well. Our dining room staff was amazing, especially Inengha ( I am sure I messed up the spelling), but he was so very attentive and did an outstanding job! The food in the dining room was good, I would say definitely better than Carnival or Princess. The food was hot and there were so many choices. The food in the Windjammer was good as well, not the typical buffet fair. They actually had fried eggs available without having to order them special. I typically do not like buffets but there was always something to eat. We ate breakfast in the main dining room two times and it was fabulous each time. They even had a bartender in the dining room and at the Windjammer making drinks (excellent mimosas!) Between the buffet, the dining room, and the pizza, if you go hungry, it is your own fault. Our room steward Froi was OUTSTANDING!!! He fulfilled our every request... I have found if you tip throughout the week, you get really good service. He is very skilled at towel animals too. I liked the room being serviced 2x a day. on Carnival, you have to pick either morning or evening service. We did the Bottomless Mimosas Galley tour and brunch on our sea day. it was awesome... the food was great... the tour was a lot of walking and standing, and you will get hot in the 3 kitchens you tour. but we were rewarded with a great brunch, and more mimosas than I could count! You have to make time to go to Vintages wine bar. Royal has done a great job of staffing the wine bar with true sommeliers... these three gentleman really know their stuff. We did two wine tastings and they were very informative and the wine was excellent! We did excursions in St Maarteen, Barbados, and St. Kitts. every port we were docked so it was great to get on and off. The Barbados pier is very large and the walk is far but they have transportation to get people to and from. We didn't go to most shows, but I heard they were excellent. we did do the "Crazy Quest"... an adult scavenger hunt... it was pretty raunchy and hilarious. definitely adults only. There were a lot of activities on the Promenade, but beware if you have a room that has a widow out to the promenade...you will hear the loud music and parties. 3 in our party had these rooms, the rooms were very nice, and large, but you will hear the noise from the promenade... and don't forget to close your curtains. I have read many reviews that complain about the locals from Puerto Rico on this cruise, but I have to say, I found everyone to be extremely friendly and pleasant. Every announcement was in English and again in Spanish. There were not many children on this cruise that I saw. Overall it was a fantastic time! At the end we chose to do self debarkation with all of our luggage due to an early flight. it was so very easy and fast. We were off the ship by 0730 and on our way to the airport. a taxi ride from the pier to the airport is about $30 plus a tip. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This was our fourth sailing on the Harmony. My husband, 21 year old granddaughter and I had a wonderful time. Boarding was easy and efficient. We boarded immediately and since we were in a suite, went to the suite lounge. We really ... Read More
This was our fourth sailing on the Harmony. My husband, 21 year old granddaughter and I had a wonderful time. Boarding was easy and efficient. We boarded immediately and since we were in a suite, went to the suite lounge. We really love the suite lounge, the two concierges, Jeremia and Elaine greeted us. We confirmed our dining and other items that we booked on line. Since we had the all inclusive dining plan, our first lunch was at Jamies. We walked around the ship to tour with our granddaughter. Then we proceeded to our crown loft suite on deck 17. The location is excellent as we are close to the suite restaurant and lounge. Our cabin attendants were also excellent, Marijane and Iputu. The crown loft is a wonderful experience. It is hard to go back to a regular balcony cabin after the "royal service" and 2 bathroom, 2 story suite. Plenty of storage for the three of us. And the two story windows wonderful! Our granddaughter enjoyed relaxing on the balcony day and night. The weather, except for one day was very good. We loved the ports, especially our visit to Mr. Sanchos in Cozumel. We also enjoyed the Mayan Princess day ship excursion. The first day we saw Grease- for the second time, but loved it Talented singers and dancers. We also really enjoyed the two comedians. Adult comedy. Unfortunately during our sailing the weather for shows didn't cooperate. We couldn't see Columbus the musical, the aqua theatre show- but we enjoyed both on a previous sailing. The ice show was also very good and we saw a new ice show this sailing. My granddaughter and I both had our hair blown out for the two formal nights and were happy with the results. We dined in the Hibachi restaurant, and our granddaughter had Sushi at Izumi twice for lunch. We had Johnny rockets. We all loved chops , Sabor , and 150 Central park. We dined in the adult pool area for lunch. Every morning, we had breakfast in the suite restaurant, costal kitchen- We all had the unlimited drink package and that was also great- Starbuck coffee shop isn't included with the package- but available for a fee- you can use your starbucks app. Shopping was typical for a cruise ship, however they do have some high end stores. It was a great cruise! We will be on the Oasis of the seas this August- and have a Celebrity cruise in March. I believe these Oasis class ships to be Royal's finest and highly recommend for families or couples. So many activities. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
My partner and I went on this cruise to celebrate his parent's anniversary and mothers birthday, thus is was actually selected by them, and they brought the whole family along. They've cruised many times, but this was our ... Read More
My partner and I went on this cruise to celebrate his parent's anniversary and mothers birthday, thus is was actually selected by them, and they brought the whole family along. They've cruised many times, but this was our first. We felt a bit too young to be on a cruise (early 40's), but we still had a lot of fun. The Regal Princess is like a 5 star Vegas hotel on the water. It was a big ship, but it didn't feel too big. We could always find a spot to sit at the buffet or a bar / restaurant, but the pool areas sometimes became overcrowded. We were surprised at how quickly the embarkation process was, made quicker with the Ocean Medallion, a fantastic innovation. Our interior, no-window cabin was lovely. Not terribly spacious, but clean and well laid out, with sufficient storage and responsive HVAC. I must say the entire reason I'm writing this review is to highlight our amazing cabin steward, Cecile! Cecile introduced herself to us right after we got into our room, and made us feel instantly at home. We had a lovely conversation, and everything just 'clicked'. I've worked in hotels for 15 years, including 5 years at the 5 Star / 5 Diamond Shangri-La hotel, Toronto, and I know that some people just "have it", and Cecile is one of these people. If people like Cecile are what Princess Cruises are all about, I don't even want to try anyone else. Dining on the ship was also above average. The buffet seemed endless, and most of the food was very tasty, and not too bland, like you'd find at many resorts. We dined a few times at Alfredo's, again mostly because of the excellent service of one individual (though I cannot recall her name!), and also did the timed dining twice, at the Symphony dining room. No complaints. We're not very much into live entertainment, so tried to steer clear of it most nights, but the female guitarist they had stood out. Live music is usually too loud, but it actually wasn't on this cruise, something we were surprised to find. It was relatively easy to find a quiet spot for a drink too. The experience was very relaxing for the most part, with the exception being the pool area, which was always quite busy. Too busy much of the time. It feels like a ship this size should have a larger main pool, or even more additional pool areas. If the ship is ever remodeled, they should remove the enormous centre fountain (which wasn't working), and expand the pool. That might be my only real complaint, and even it was not that bad. Overall, we had a great time, and would do another cruise in a second if we thought we could meet Cecile again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
My family has sailed on NCL 7 times, the last 6 in The Haven. Once you stay there, it's hard to go back downstairs. We have been on other cruise lines but have become loyal to NCL. The NCL Bliss was absolutely beautiful and well ... Read More
My family has sailed on NCL 7 times, the last 6 in The Haven. Once you stay there, it's hard to go back downstairs. We have been on other cruise lines but have become loyal to NCL. The NCL Bliss was absolutely beautiful and well appointed. We have been on other NCL ships but this was my favorite of their large ships. Do not miss spending time in the Observation Lounge, it is heaven with food, drink, and peaceful alcoves to read, rest, and relax! The Haven areas were wonderful with plenty of comfortable sitting and great service. Also, if you are a Beatles fan, the Beatles Experience tribute band is fantastic! We saw Six and Jersey Boys in the theatre and they were both top notch shows. Book before you get on the ship or you may miss out. We went on the zipline excursion in Roatan (Honduras) that was amazing. The guides are very good and ease your anxieties (I was nervous at first). Great views with 11 lines of varying length and altitudes. I finally got to check something off my bucket list! My only complaint was that throughout the ship the staff seemed to be working double time to cover their areas, which caused some lag time in receiving food, drinks, and services. I guess that is just a given in the current downsizing trend in every sector of industry. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We are a family of five on Deck 5 and went with four additional friends who stayed on Deck 10. We considered ourselves typically non-complainers and easy going for what it's worth. It was easy to notice many complainers on the ship, ... Read More
We are a family of five on Deck 5 and went with four additional friends who stayed on Deck 10. We considered ourselves typically non-complainers and easy going for what it's worth. It was easy to notice many complainers on the ship, more than we've ever seen on any other type of vacation. Needless to say, this was our family's first cruise and I placed a deposit with CruiseNext, and super excited to sail again. Keep in mind I pretty much prepared and researched before hand, so embarking from Manhattan was certainly a breeze and better then anticipated. We paid the $400 to park at terminal and would do it again for convenience. We drove from Montreal so this definitely beats costs with flying to FL for our family of five. Everything was clear and well guided through the terminal from parking, to check-in and then up the ramps to the ship. Ship layout was great, I averaged 16K steps a day just on the ship. Elevators were always packed, but we learned to use the aft elevators which were less busy and worth the extra steps to get there. Service, food, ship layout was enjoyable to take in for 14-days. Splash Club was great with our kids. Our kids enjoyed going to the club and met friends whom they stayed connected with. We partied at the Social club almost every night - because we're Montrealers and that's what we do. Ship cleanliness was superb. My wife bought new shoes in Cape Canaveral and she only wore it around the ship. I kid you not, the white soles on her shoes had no dirt or signs of use - they were clean and white as a ghost! She could return them to the store without any notice of usage. That was impressive, as you can see staff working around the clock keeping the ship clean and sanitized. WASHY WASHY in full effect! We enjoyed the pool deck and water slides / splash pad. We ate our Garden Cafe buffet food by the pool deck daily with tables always available despite being a full ship. We did not find it overcrowded on most days except the last sea day. There's plenty of areas to find "your own space" throughout the full capacity ship. We thought the cruise directors and activities were fun, funny and entertaining with no complaints. Port excursions were fine and had ample enough time to enjoy as first timers. The waterfront was our favorite spot and surprised how people miss this area to get away from all the buzz from time to time. Observation Lounge was awesome with bar and food servings, also with Cristie the piano player sounded amazing... but our only complaint was how people were hijacking the seating areas. Yes, we knew it was a popular area - but easily can be irritating and cause rage to many who hunt for seats. Not the Bliss' fault by any means, I mean like when you see some rest a book on one side of a lounger sofa and their reading glasses on the other end - boggles my mind. Garden Cafe was our daily go-to, and we did frequent to dining rooms and specialty dining restaurants enough times. Food was great, and we appreciated all the offerings which were plenty. We heard complaints about the lack of seafood in buffet, but didn't bother for us. We really enjoyed Beau, the piano player in Brewery District and eventually became friends by the end of our trip. Be sure to check him out and tell him his Montreal "tractor" friends referred ya! (inside joke which will help identify) Our room steward Rene was on point, courteous and did a fantastic job daily with up-keeping / turn-downing our room. Disembarkation was easy at each port, tendering in Great Stirrup Cay was bumpy and fun. Starbucks was rarely busy, and I was able to use my mobile app to pay for drinks. I had the buffalo wings daily at Local's Pub - I miss those wings. Chris in the Sugar Cane Bar was the best and took well good care of us...the Ginger Mojito is to die for! But overall no complaints on waiting for drinks at any bar. Six and Jersey Boys were awesome, Broadway quality performances in the Bliss Theatre. Brenda at Guest Services was awesome whenever we needed assistance, and skillful when we saw her resolve and subdue other passenger complaints. Go-Karts and Laser Tag was great, although we were satisfied with one-time visits. Our daughter had the arcade pass and was able to share with our two other kids, that was a great value which they enjoyed. We know there are different sizes of ships for everyone, for us first-timers the Bliss was perfect in every way. We definitely would like to cruise on the Bliss again, if not perhaps the Encore or Epic but for now we're into the Mega Ships for family getaways. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Our servers, Yan and Sunil went above and beyond to help us with our dietary needs. The Indian food was fabulous! Silvio did an impeccable job with keeping our room clean and comfortable. The entertainment staff and cruise director were ... Read More
Our servers, Yan and Sunil went above and beyond to help us with our dietary needs. The Indian food was fabulous! Silvio did an impeccable job with keeping our room clean and comfortable. The entertainment staff and cruise director were good. The ship is smaller and may not have as many amenities as the larger ships. The gym is small but has all the needed equipment. Gym can get very crowded in the mornings. We did feel the ship's motion many times on all decks, but the weather was a bit stormy. The ship does need some basic makeover like new paint as rust is seen in some places. There were too many sale pitches at some of the activities. Ladies pamper party was a waste of time... Just a way to get guests to buy products and sign up for spa services. If possible, avoid the casino since the smell of cigarettes can be overwhelming for some. Overall, a fantastic experience and highly recommended. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We were looking for a short cruise to introduce our family to cruising and Celebrate Birthday and Anniversary Milestones and had been on the Sun Princess before so we chose this cruise. We had 5 Mini Suites which was amazing and when 3 of ... Read More
We were looking for a short cruise to introduce our family to cruising and Celebrate Birthday and Anniversary Milestones and had been on the Sun Princess before so we chose this cruise. We had 5 Mini Suites which was amazing and when 3 of the Balcony's were connected it provided the family to interact. The service on board was top class and the food was excellent. Albany was spectacular with our excursion to Oyster Harbour and Kalgan River being world class. When leaving Albany the sun's rays pierced the holes in the clouds and it looked like the Australian Army Badge as if a tribute to the ANZAC's when they sailed from Albany during the First World War. We missed out on seeing Busselton because of the winds being too strong for the Tenders but we stayed extra time in Albany. The Waters off WA are renowned for strong winds and high seas. Sun Princess handled the weather excellently. There were ten of us on this family cruise and we all dined in the Marquis Dining area at the Traditional time 5.15pm for Dinner. The menu selection was excellent with different themes on selected nights whilst maintaining traditional Princess Cruise Menu favorites. Breakfast and lunch buffet was in the Horizons and once again the selections were excellent. Our Grand Daughter was with the Camp Discovery and she had a ball with lots of activities and meeting new friends. The Shows in the Princess Theatre were well presented and the musicians were top class. We attended some activities such as the Art Auction and the ledgions Bar after hours and that was fun. There were lots of entertainment but this was a short cruise so not much time to explore all. All in all the cruise was for the family to relax and bond and we achieved that. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I was told to go on a cruise, was super amazing experience got to try new foods and the service was outstanding! I am excited to come back and be with npcl! what an amazing week, I will definitely come back with ncl, pearl! thank you for ... Read More
I was told to go on a cruise, was super amazing experience got to try new foods and the service was outstanding! I am excited to come back and be with npcl! what an amazing week, I will definitely come back with ncl, pearl! thank you for the best week ever!!! I will definitely recommend this cruise line to everyone I know. And the food was amazing, super tasty and unique foods! I loved the beds, they’re so warm and comfortable and clean, the rooms were super spacious and clean sanitary + the bathroom was so cute and spacious. I loved the room! I loved the room service. they made our beds, cleaned the towels, replaced the towels, folded the blankets etc. it was amazing they always made sure to check in to make we’re okay and doing well! The cruise director, Tiara was super cool. she knew exactly what was doing and had fun with it! I’d definitely recommend this cruise line to anyone! Thank you for the best week ever!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We are frequent cruisers but had not cruised on NCL for 10 years. This cruise on the Sun was a very pleasant surprise. The ship is in great shape - all the money spent in renovations during dry dock really shows! The food was very ... Read More
We are frequent cruisers but had not cruised on NCL for 10 years. This cruise on the Sun was a very pleasant surprise. The ship is in great shape - all the money spent in renovations during dry dock really shows! The food was very good in all the venues we tried. The food and service was excellent in the Seven Seas MDR. Norwegian is a much more relaxed "freestyle" experience and we enjoyed that after cruising on other lines not quite so relaxed. There were many, many activities available during the day and night with a good amount of live music around the pool, in the atrium, in the Bliss Lounge and sometimes in the Spinnaker Lounge on deck 12. My husband and I are dancers - social ballroom, country and western, Carolina Shag - and none of the venues had great dance floors. The production shows were good. The performers were very young with LOTS of energy in their routines! The comedian and magician were pretty bad. The two ports - Costa Maya and Cozumel were enjoyable and the weather was great with temperatures in the low 80s. We had a little rain one day, but other than that, it was a great January cruise. Our cabin was a mini-suite on the 8th floor. The room was great and had been updated during the dry dock. The balcony was a large aft balcony with a nice view of the ship's wake. One negative note - the aft rooms on the 8th deck are over the theater so there's noise during the shows and when they are practicing during the day. Port Canaveral is a very nice little port. People are more friendly and you don't have all the rush and stress of a large port like Port Everglades. I would definitely take this cruise again! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
The cruise ship was spotless and the people that work on that ship were all so nice. This was our first time going on a cruise and we loved it. It is like a whole small town on a ship. It was so amazing and relaxing.We had a wonderful ... Read More
The cruise ship was spotless and the people that work on that ship were all so nice. This was our first time going on a cruise and we loved it. It is like a whole small town on a ship. It was so amazing and relaxing.We had a wonderful time. Our housekeeper Alexander was wonder and kept our room clean and also Lady Bingo was great(we played bingo the whole weekend). Kevin the director was also a very nice and friendly person and answered any question that you had.The food was great(we ate at Guy’s every day) and the dining room food was wonderful. We went to the dining room Friday night at 8:15 and the waiters did a nice performance/dance that I really enjoyed. The embarkation and disembarkation ran smoothly for this to be our first time. We will pick this cruise ship every time we decide to go on a cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We opted for the Royal Princess cruise on the Mexican Riviera mainly because it was close to where we live in California and because the ship had been updated recently and looked beautiful. We were not disappointed and from the beginning ... Read More
We opted for the Royal Princess cruise on the Mexican Riviera mainly because it was close to where we live in California and because the ship had been updated recently and looked beautiful. We were not disappointed and from the beginning to the end of the cruise we were amazed by the service we were provided. First off, the ship was elegant, massive and spotless. Since there was 3 of us in a balcony room it was a bit cramped when the sofa sleeper was out and it was a little difficult to access the balcony door. That was conveyed in the research I did prior to booking the room so it wasn’t a surprise. The room was very functional and had everything we needed. We mainly dined at the Horizon Buffet, but did get pizza and hamburgers by the pool occasionally. The food was extremely good with a wide variety. We never had any trouble finding a table and usually always had a good view as we cruised. The service in the dining room was excellent, drinks would be given to you immediately, they would refill them when they were empty, then the plates would be whisked away so you could go get a new plate for seconds or just have a clean table and be ready for a huge selection of desserts. We only saw 2 shows and they were both good, but A.J. The comedian was hilarious. Princess Cruises selects top notch entertainment for their theatre which is huge. There were always activities and we enjoyed just sitting at the Good Spirits bar watching people dance, the ships dancers, the band, the Mariachi band and numerous other entertainment activities. Our steward was phenomenal and made sure we had the best service ever. His name is Santosh and if you are lucky enough to have him as your steward you will have a great experience! Our Good Spirits bar service with Raffey was exceptional as well. What a great group of people that work for Princess Cruises. Thanks to Santosh and Raffey we felt like we were the only passengers on the ship. I don’t want to take anything away from the rest of the staff either, because there is a lot of people that work behind the scenes to make sure everything goes smoothly as well. We really enjoyed Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. Took the boat shore in Cabo and walked through the streets and shopped and had a drink at Senor Froggs. We did not get off the ship at Mazatlan because it just didn’t look like we would enjoy it. We did go ashore at Puerto Vallarta and purchased a bus tour from Princess. It was $45 and worth every penny, The tour guide was funny and knowledgeable about the area. We always go to Disney World and my daughter at 18 said she liked the cruise better. Overall we did not know if we would enjoy a cruise, but we are hooked now and can hardly wait to take another Princess cruise. Thank you to everybody at Princess for giving us a wonderful vacation! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Superb ship, well designed with an excellent central atrium. We hadn't travelled with MSC before, and didn't expect such an international crowd on board for a Caribbean cruise. Lots of Spanish speakers, Italians and South ... Read More
Superb ship, well designed with an excellent central atrium. We hadn't travelled with MSC before, and didn't expect such an international crowd on board for a Caribbean cruise. Lots of Spanish speakers, Italians and South Americans, as well as the many North Americans you'd expect from Miami. For us, that's a very good thing, by the way, but just bear it in mind when choosing your cruise. Entertainment fully respected this, from the well-attended parties with their Eurovision vibe to the opera in the main theatre on one occasion too. Also of note is the excellent Thermal Spa, entrance to which comes free with the "Aurea experience" level of booking. We loved this. Main dining room service and food was excellent. The buffets left a bit to be desired compared to, say, Celebrity, but were OK. We also go the feeling the ship could be better staffed; the waits at the bar were sometimes quite long, and the speed of clearing tables in the buffet definitely could be improved. MSC is offering something a bit different, and is well worth a look. And check out the cabin... Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We had a wonderful family cruise on the Panorama. We flew to LAX the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn Downtown. The cruise passengers are a diverse group of all ages. Pros- The ship is big, you don’t feel like their are 4000 ... Read More
We had a wonderful family cruise on the Panorama. We flew to LAX the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn Downtown. The cruise passengers are a diverse group of all ages. Pros- The ship is big, you don’t feel like their are 4000 other passengers on board. Embarkation was easiest ever- we walked right on at 12:15. Rooms were ready at 1:30. Service was excellent. Staff is extremely friendly and helpful. The food in the Vista dining room was delicious. Lots of music venues across the ship. Tons of activities going on. The serenity deck is nice- it’s for 21 and over. Very quiet and peaceful. Has its own delicious Salad Bar. Great views. The water slides are so much fun. Movies on the pool deck at night were great. It is a great value for the money cruise. We had inside rooms and loved them. We had a party of 8 and we all thought it was the best cruise ever. Cons: Not many cons My son is vegetarian and the main dining room had one vegetarian option each night and it was the same thing all week- odd. Debarkation was extremely slow- worst I have ever had. I think because they did not have enough customs agents. I love a massage - but as on every cruise I have been on- they give you a hard sell to buy products at the end. Not enough room for everyone that wants to go to the shows. It gets crowded fast. Tips: the elevators are different- you must pick the floor you want before you get on the elevator. JJ’s Asian, the Italian restaurant, and Guys BBQ are free at lunch but charge extra at night. We LOVED Guys BBQ! My son and his wife waited an hour for their food at JJ’s Asian. Very few items are free on the room service menu. At Cabo you have to take a water taxi from the ship - not a big deal. We did the horse back riding excursion and BBQ supper in Puerto Vallerto and loved it. In Cabo, as soon as you get off the boat, people are asking you to buy stuff. We loved our cruise! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We have sailed on just over 50 cruises. We are Diamond members on Royal Caribbean. The price for this ship was a real value and we live in Ft. Lauderdale so we decided to give it a try despite some negative reviews. Empress of the Sea is ... Read More
We have sailed on just over 50 cruises. We are Diamond members on Royal Caribbean. The price for this ship was a real value and we live in Ft. Lauderdale so we decided to give it a try despite some negative reviews. Empress of the Sea is well worth your time and money. It is well maintained, run by an excellent crew and a ship you will feel great about upon conclusion of your trip. The entire crew wants you to be there. It is obvious and energizes all the passengers aboard. The food is very good, the shows are well done and our cabin (inside) served us well. It is always a mystery to me to read negative reviews about a ship and see none of them during my cruise. We have been on all the 4 giant ships of Royal and a sampling of the other sizes. Empress of the Seas hold its own against them in these ways. The ship only has 1600 passengers so no waiting for anything. It is a good starter ship for young families. Many were on board. It is a value price for the young marrieds, singles traveling in a group and middle aged and seniors looking for a cruise for their hard earned money. The ship has no flow riders, sliding water tubes, race tracks, or garden to walk thru. But it has a crew that provides numerous activities thruout the day that you will find worth your time. We were lucky to have Steve from Canada as our Cruise Director. He is a dynamo and keeps everyone engaged. Our cabin steward Jose Fernandes was possibly the best we ever had with his hard work, attention to detail and enjoyable daily interaction. We came across a staff member that we met on the Symphony of the Seas. She now works in the Empress Windjammer restaurant. She told us I just love being on this ship. You will find the entire crew feels that way. The Allure, Oasis, Harmony and Symphony have problems from time to time. That is life. But you still have a great cruise. The same will occur on the Empress. Give it try. You will be pleased you took that action. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I am retired and an avid cruiser. I have cruised on most of the major lines. This was my first trip on MSC. I was attracted to it by the price and my desire to try something different. I had read a lot of really terrible reviews so I ... Read More
I am retired and an avid cruiser. I have cruised on most of the major lines. This was my first trip on MSC. I was attracted to it by the price and my desire to try something different. I had read a lot of really terrible reviews so I arrived at the ship with some hesitations. The load in was a headache. Long lines mostly in the sun. My mind is drawing mental pictures of a ship that looks like a 50's B movie. When we arrived on the ship, I found how wrong I was. I was surprised by the beauty and quality of the furnishings and decor. The Italian flavor of the vessel is everywhere and quite tastefully done. I particularly enjoyed the mosaics in the pool area. My second fear was that I would be spending 5 days eating tv dinners. So my first stop was at the buffet. There were not as many entrees as on some of the other cruise lines, but the choices were adequate and preparation and taste was on par with any ship I have been on. The pizza bar in particular was phenomenal. Ok so the ship is beautiful and the food is very good. I bet our stateroom is going to be the size of a closet. Wrong again. I had booked a room with a window. But when I arrived there, MSC had given us a free upgrade to a balcony. The room was spacious by cruise ship standards and nicely appointed. The bathroom even had glass shower doors. The staff was pleasant, maybe not overly so but I don't take a lot of pampering. The entertainment was a bit of a throwback to earlier times. Acrobats, aerialists, dancers and singers. It wasn't Royal Caribbean Broadway, but these performers were at the top of their game and their enthusiasm was obvious. The shows were lots of fun. (One caveat, the Cruise Director and Captain talk too much. You can arrive at the show 15 or 20 minutes late and still have time to be bored before the show starts.) Lest you think I see the world through rose colored glasses I will tell you service in the Dining Room is slow. Very slow. Plan on two hours for dinner. The Buffet is a good alternative for quicker food but will be crowded to the max. Here's a tip, if you don't mind a few steps, there are tables in the adjoining pool area with a lovely ocean view and less noise. Also the public restrooms are small for a ship of this size. You may find it easier to return to your stateroom especially if you are in a hurry. : ) The beaches at the private island are gorgeous. There is some coral so it is best to have water shoes. If you like to snorkel go along the rocks you will see some good size fish. Don't miss the laser light show of the lighthouse. It is a genuine stunner. The plants are recently planted and not what you would hope for in a tropical "paradise." If you have problems with flies near the food trucks. Cover your food with a plate and step away before you eat, or take a short walk back to the ship and eat there. So was it a perfect trip? No. Every cruise has its own little headaches. But to be honest I recently came off cruises on Royal Caribbean Symphony and Celebrity Edge that cost a lot more and delivered a lot less. Would I cruise with MSC again? I already have booked two more cruises with MSC. That should be recommendation enough. My advice to you: When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade, add Tequila. Call it a Margarita, and book another Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This was only our 3rd total cruise in the past 27 years, so we are not "regulars". Our traveling party consisted of my wife and I (mid-50's) and 2 adult children (ages 21 & 23). Embarkation was quick and easy, even ... Read More
This was only our 3rd total cruise in the past 27 years, so we are not "regulars". Our traveling party consisted of my wife and I (mid-50's) and 2 adult children (ages 21 & 23). Embarkation was quick and easy, even without FTTF. Our arrival window started at 1:00 pm, but we got there a half hour early and were able to get on board at that time. It only took about 15 minutes, and it moved quickly. We went straight to the maitre'd to request a change to early dining instead of late dining. He took our information, and said there were a lot of requests for that change, so we wouldn't know until the next day. To our surprise, we were moved to early dining that next day! Our cabin was a Cove Balcony on the 2nd deck, and we loved it! The ship is pretty big, but we figured out where everything was fairly quickly. It rarely felt overcrowded as I was expecting. Plenty of elevators and very short wait times most of the time. Employees were always friendly, especially the workers cleaning the ship, guest services and restaurant staff. The food was good, as expected. We ate breakfast in the dining room a few times and loved the choices. Breakfast buffet offered plenty of choices. BlueIguana Cantina made real good breakfast burritos. We ate lunch at Guy Fieri's Burger Joint, Guy's Pig & Anchor Barbecue, and the BlueIguana. Burgers and fries were amazing, the barbecue was delicious with the best sauces I have ever had, and the burrito's were outstanding. Dinners in the dining room were very good. Portions are not large, but that was fine with me. Our wait staff were excellent and could not do enough for us. They made us feel like we were best friends. The entertainment on board was excellent. We attended the shows in the theater each night and were impressed with the singer/dancers. The comedy club shows were overcrowded, as we had to stand for half of them. The comedians were decent. The events hosted by the cruise director were the most fun of anything. Simon the cruise director was outstanding, and his Fun Squad were awesome too. 80's and 90's music trivia in the atrium area was incredible. Our ports were Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk and Amber Cove. We chose to simply lay out on the beach at Half Moon Cay and thoroughly enjoyed it! An absolutely beautiful beach. The food at lunch was good, and the drinks were even better! For Grand Turk, most of our party did the power snorkel, rays and beach excursion. They really liked it! I was scheduled for whale watching, but found out it was cancelled when I got off the ship due to rough seas. That stunk, but I made it a beach day with the ship right in front of me. For Amber Cove, we all did the excursion that included the waterfalls of Damajagua and zipline. We loved both of them and would do them again. We are already looking into cruising again this time next year with Carnival! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
When I booked our MSC Meraviglia cruise I couldn't find a lot of information directly associated with this ship since it is such a new ship to the Caribbean. I had many questions and called many times to get the answers so I thought I ... Read More
When I booked our MSC Meraviglia cruise I couldn't find a lot of information directly associated with this ship since it is such a new ship to the Caribbean. I had many questions and called many times to get the answers so I thought I was pretty prepared when we headed off on vacation. I found that a lot of what I was told was not true but in a good way. This is going to be a long review as I hope to answer any questions you may have for your future cruise. Let's start before we even leave for the port. Things that are and are not included. Drinks. You can get juice, coffee, water and tea during breakfast in the buffet. I had heard that the only drinks available after breakfast was coffee, water and tea. Because of the information I received from MSC I purchased the non-alcoholic package for my grand daughter and the Easy beverage package for myself. When I purchased the package I was also told that the non-alcoholic drinks were not "frozen" drinks. On both instances the information was incorrect. During lunch and dinner there is water, coffee, tea, flavored waters and lemonade which is free. The non-alcoholic drinks were frozen. I simply ordered a non-alcoholic drink and a shot of whatever instead of having to pay premium price for a pina colada for instance. In the main dining room we were served bottled water as it was part of our package but my understanding was you can order a pitcher of water with ice for no charge. Now dining. There are many options if you wish to order speciality dining. I had heard many bad reviews about the food provided in the main dining room and buffet. If you are expecting a Royal Caribbean, Disney, or Carnival type buffet you will be disappointed. There are fewer items available in the buffet but what was available was very good. There were definitely more healthy choices and I really enjoyed the food. I never went for dinner as we went to the main dining room each night but I found breakfast and lunch to be very tasty. It is BUSY. Go to the back of the ship and sit there. It is much less congested. Onto the main dining room. You will be assigned to one restaurant for your entire cruise. We were in Panarama. Our wait staff was AMAZING and treated my grand daughter like a princess. She only ate with us for three nights as she wanted to stay with the kids in the Doremi Kids room and eat with them. The main dining room was hit or miss a little bit. Nothing was bad but food could have used a little more seasoning. Nothing a little salt and pepper wouldn't fix. Other meals were spot on and amazing. Hint: Try the mushroom volevant it is amazing. Now the ship itself is beautiful and very clean. I would go so far as to say it really gives even Disney a run for their money. Everything was just sparking and beautiful. It is huge. Plan to do a lot of walking! We booked the Fantastica experience and just got an inside cabin because we didn't plan on being in the room much. It was a very nice cabin and had lots of room. Warning though... there is very little storage. The cabin had 2 drawers in the closet and one small drawer on the desk where the hairdryer is. We just stacked our clothes on the top shelf of the closet. I'm a fluffy girl and found no issues with the size of the bathroom. The shower (I love the shower door) was roomy. They do have shampoo and body wash in the shower but I suggest you bring your own as it doesn't work very well. When we first got in our room the a/c didn't work well but a quick trip to the guest service took care of the issue quickly and they even sent some chocolate covered strawberries to our cabin as an apology. Now onto entertainment and activities. I attended all of the shows in the Broadway Theatre except the last night as we were just too tired from I loved all of the shows even the Opera. I strongly suggest keeping your clothes light if you are going to the shows. It gets very very warm in the theatre and I found myself uncomfortable on the few nights I didn't change out of my dinner clothes. I also booked the Cirque Sonor and Viaggio shows. I loved the Viaggio show. It was amazing. We were only able to see half of the Sonor show as the weather was too bad for the entertainers to preform safely. The ship offered a full refund or to book another day. If you only see one show I would suggest Viaggio it was definitely my favorite. For those who are taking their children on this cruise.... the kids program is wonderful. They do new things each day and my grand daughter never wanted to leave. Don't forget the Polar Aqua park! It is on deck 19 and can only be accessed by the aft stairs on deck 18. We only got to go twice because the weather was not cooperating. We had LOTS of wind and LOTS of ship swaying but hey it's all part of the adventure. Onto Service. I can honestly say every member that we interacted with went above and beyond. They were always smiling and as helpful as they could be. Remember, most people working on the ship are not Americans and speak very little English but enough to get through. I found it adventurous and interesting. Again, be open minded and don't get upset if it takes just a bit longer to get your answer or point across. They are doing their best. Ports and Shore excursions. The port was very busy of course. When getting my information checked for boarding it took a bit because the young lady was new to this ship and had to ask her supervisor about 4 things before I finally got through. Took about an hour from entrance to stepping aboard the ship. We were scheduled to visit Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Cozumel Mexico, Grand Cayman and Ocean Cay. Did I mention we had terrible weather? LOL Sadly we did not make it to Ocean Cay but when the waves are 18 Feet it's better to be safe than sorry. They did however go to Belize City instead of Ocean Cay so we still had four ports of call. I was given a refund for excursions we had booked in Ocean Cay. Overall I would recommend this cruise and suggest you bring your kids. Take the chance and enjoy something new and different.. it is well worth the money and time. Hope this answers some questions you may have. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We chose this cruise to go to Turks & Caicos we had a great time! All employees were so nice and the food was amazing! Simon London and the fun squad are very good at their jobs as well as housekeeping and dining staff!! We got on ... Read More
We chose this cruise to go to Turks & Caicos we had a great time! All employees were so nice and the food was amazing! Simon London and the fun squad are very good at their jobs as well as housekeeping and dining staff!! We got on in Fort Lauderdale and stayed a few days before getting on the ship at the Lago Mar Resort also a great place to stay. We did most activities on the ship as well as excursions at all of the stops. Our room was great the food was great the entertainment was great! The violin players were amazing!! The trivia parties in the lobby each night were also super fun I highly recommend going to them. Nevlin was our waiter int the southern dining room. The weather was great it was sunny & 80 every day with a light breeze. This was our first carnival cruise and we were skeptical given the few times this company has made the news but we had nothing but a great time and would sail carnival again!! The magic is getting to be an older ship but with that in mind it is in good shape for that. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Just came back not so long from the trip and we are thoroughly satisfied with our trip, the service for the cruise is outstanding, everyone working onboard is super friendly and helpful. Dining: Windjammer could improve its quality for ... Read More
Just came back not so long from the trip and we are thoroughly satisfied with our trip, the service for the cruise is outstanding, everyone working onboard is super friendly and helpful. Dining: Windjammer could improve its quality for buffet but we dined mainly at the Mexican restaurant and it's delicious. Dinner at main dining room is absolutely delicious, the menu changes everyday and I had the best food in my life there. And I have been traveling quite a lot to luxury resorts before. The quality of food for main dining room is outstanding and the service is excellent as well. Entertainment and Activities: This is the reason why we are coming back to this cruise, the activities for the kids and adult are unlimited and it's so fun to be on this ship. We love the zipline & mini golf and our kid loves the kids club. There are countless shows to see every night from jazz bar, piano bar, aqua show that won't leave you bored for a moment on this cruise. Service: outstanding, everyone working there is very pleasant and helpful. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
The Princess Sea of Cortez Cruise was outstanding! The ports of La Paz and Loreto are not visited often and remind me of what Puerto Vallarta and Cabo were like decades ago. We chose to make this a relaxing cruise and did not take any ... Read More
The Princess Sea of Cortez Cruise was outstanding! The ports of La Paz and Loreto are not visited often and remind me of what Puerto Vallarta and Cabo were like decades ago. We chose to make this a relaxing cruise and did not take any excursions, but we walked around all 4 ports and loved doing that. The Star Princess is an older ship but it is well maintained and a perfect size, not too big or small. The production shows were underwhelming, but the smaller venue entertainers were excellent. Cruise Director Gary Golding is one of the best on the seas, and his staff was fun and omni-present. And there was not a single crew member that we interacted with that wasn’t helpful and friendly! Dining room food was outstanding. Enjoyed the pizzeria, hamburger grill and ice cream bar. The buffet food was acceptable and had a nice variety. Highly recommended! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I booked this cruise for my mom as a Christmas present. Originally it was supposed to go to Cuba, but the US government imposed restrictions in 2019 so I presume they lowered the price to fill the ship after people who wanted to go to Cuba ... Read More
I booked this cruise for my mom as a Christmas present. Originally it was supposed to go to Cuba, but the US government imposed restrictions in 2019 so I presume they lowered the price to fill the ship after people who wanted to go to Cuba pulled out. Both my mom and I are first time cruisers. We did hear a few experienced cruisers tell us "don't judge all cruises based on this one." I'll review the cruise as a first timer, since all first time cruisers I spoke with felt the same as I did. CHECKING IN We flew in on the day of our flight (a risky move!) and arrived 3 hours before departure. This meant we were one of the last people to board, and as a result there were no lines! It was an extremely smooth process and we were in our cabin within about 10 minutes after dropping off our luggage. We did the muster drills after disembarkation. It was done in 5 languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian) so it took a bit longer than I imagine it takes on less international cruises. When we returned to our room from the muster drill, our bags were already there. We were impressed at how quickly that happened! The buffet and bars were open right away, so people could have lunch or gelatto when they entered the ships. They also had activities planned for whenever people arrived on the ship, like dance classes and other group activities. SHIP SIZE The ship was smaller than others we saw in the sea, and one of the smallest in MSC's fleet. The ship size had its pros and cons: Pros: -It could stop at smaller that larger ships would need to tender to (see cons) -You don't need to reserve a space in the theater -- everyone was able to see the shows if they want -Disembarkation is faster when you have fewer people leaving -The staff know the names of each individual on the ship Cons: -The wind rocked our ship larger than other ships. This caused us to miss our stop in Jamaica (it was a small port we couldn't stop in) and leave our stop in Mexico two hours early (as a larger ship was blocking us from the wind) -There were fewer amenities on this ship as compared to a larger ship PASSENGERS The passengers on this ship (and with MSC in general) were very international. I met people from everywhere, but the largest portion of passengers that I encountered were from the US, UK, Canada and Brazil. Still, you can find a lot of people from all over Europe, South America and South Africa. People were friendly. I'd guess the average age was late 40s/early 50s, but we met many people in their 20s and many retirees as well. There were singles meet and greets, but these were largely empty. It felt like the passengers were mostly couples, but we did find a lot of people on friends trips. ENTERTAINMENT The ship had regular entertainment activities (daily trivia, dance classes, game shows). The gym is open from 6-10 and the pools and hot tubs open early. There are TVs in the rooms which show one movie, TLC, Food Network and a few kids channels. There's a cinema which shows a new movie (all movies were from 2019) every night, and four times a day on days at sea. There is a kids and teens club for younger people, and there's always live music playing in the various bars. We went to the theater every night. It was enjoyable, but there wasn't a large variety in the shows. Since the crowd was so multilingual, the shows were mostly singing and dancing. There were also "strong men" (a few guys who were able to hold up their body weight and the body weight of others with one hand. Their "tricks" (for lack of a better word) were impressive. There were also women showing impressive flexibility "tricks" during the shows. The dancers were flexible and talented, especially the salsa dancers. Every night after the theater there were game shows. They always handed out a free drink to someone at the shows and during the games, and they also gave prizes to the winners. These were entertaining, whether you were just watching or only participating. After the game shows, there was live music in all of the bars, but also parties in the disco each night (white night, silent disco, glow party, etc). STAFF The staff was wonderful. Everyone I talked to, from first time cruisers and people who have been on dozens of cruises, all agreed on this fact. The ship was always clean. Our room attendant managed to always clean our room while we were gone, so it was as if our room was cleaned by magic. We had a light go out in our bathroom. We mentioned it to the reception desk and by the time we got back to our room, someone had already replaced the switch, and were in the bathroom to also replace the light. When we returned to get ready for dinner, they asked us what time we'd leave for dinner, and returned at that time to avoid being in our way. We also had great luck in dining. Our server Andrea and assistant Neelesh were very attentive. My mom is quite picky. She quickly learned what she thought my mom would like, and always steered her towards things that she loved, that she wouldn't have ordered otherwise. When someone at the table wanted a drink she personally got the bartender to make sure we had fast service. Our cups were always full and we left satisfied. Mansur always checked to make sure everything was to our liking. Even though we were happy with the meals, it was really nice to interact with him. The entertainment staff was great. My mom loved Wally, Alex and Chante in particuar. Chante had an uncanny ability to remember everyone's name. She was bubbly and friendly and made everyone feel special. Wally and Alex were always silly and made shows more amusing. Wally was also extremely friendly, and was great at getting people involved and on the dance floor, especially people you wouldn't expect. Ebony was also friendly. DINING The buffet was open for all meals. They had a variety of pastries, meats, cheeses and breads for all meals. There were also different types of entrees for each meal. The restaurant also served 3 meals a day. They have pancakes and waffles and omlettes, among other things. Lunch offered a smaller menu, mostly of sandwiches and pastas, but the options changed each day. Dinner had a page of items that they served every day (salmon, steak, grilled chicken, etc) and a menu inspired by a common theme (mediterranean, Jamaican, etc). We appreciated most of our meals. As a foodie they weren't the best meals I've ever had but I did appreciate the meals. They had a good variety. My mom and I managed to order meals that we were satisfied with, but when the people at our table had something they may not have liked, the server quickly replaced it with an item of their choosing. PORTS This cruise stopped in Falmouth Jamaica, Georgetown Cayman Islands, Costa Maya Mexico and Ocean Key (Private Island) Bahamas. JAMAICA: Unfortunately we weren't able to stop in Falmouth. The winds were really bad and it was just too difficult for us to dock. The captain did it for our safety so we understood, but this is a risk for this boat in particular, as other reviews I read said that they had cancelled stops as well. We were going to go on our own excursion (take a taxi to Martha Braw and go rafting down the river), so we didn't have to worry about cancellations or refunds. GEORGETOWN: The Cayman Islands were beautiful. It was a tender port, which greatly shortened the duration of our time. We were able to get off the boat early, so I was on the tender boat at 7:45 (we were supposed to start at 8). Our departure time was at 2 so the last tender boat was at 1. We got on the port and went on an externally booked excursion to Sting Ray City and Starfish Point. We also went snorkeling. It was beautiful and we made it back before the last tender boat. That said, there was a very long line at the port for the tender boats, so people were still able to return through 1:30. COSTA MAYA: The wind was very bad in Costa Maya as well. Fortunately a larger boat from another company was parked next to us, so we were able to be shielded by then. I heard there were other boats who were unable to make it in so we were lucky. We were supposed to be there from 11-7. In the end we were able to go from 12-5 because we wanted to make sure we were shielded from the wind. Some excursions were cancelled due to the time change. We had booked an external excursion to Chacchoban with Native Choice. It was supposed to depart at 12. Since we didn't get off the boat until 12 (people on excursions booked on the ship left first), we arrived later than expected. The company sent the MSC passengers on their own bus with their own tour guide and managed to get us back earlier than scheduled to make sure we made it back to our boat. We were happy we went with them due to their flexibility. OCEAN CAY: This was MSC's own private island. We had beautiful weather and were fully able to take advantage of the day at the island. We rented an umbrella and raft and spent the day at the beach. There was a lunch buffet which was included. They also had a parade and bonfires and a lighthouse show at the end of the night. The beach closed around 5:00, so we went into the ship and had dinner and went back out at 8:30 for the parade. It wasn't a large island, but was beautiful. SUMMARY I was very happy with our first cruise, and I'm glad that we went on the Armonia. We always had something to do, we felt welcomed by the staff, and we met many new friends from around the world. The biggest complaint we had was the weight we gained from all of the tasty food we ate on the cruise! If you're used to a lot of luxury, this may not be for you. If you want to get away for a week and have a good time, I definitely recommend sailing on the MSC Armonia. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Ovation of the Seas is a marvel and near faultless. The staff are amazing, and always have a smile. The itinerary for 9 days was well balanced between at-sea days and port days. Our 2 kids (Miss 5 and Miss 8) loved the kids club and the ... Read More
Ovation of the Seas is a marvel and near faultless. The staff are amazing, and always have a smile. The itinerary for 9 days was well balanced between at-sea days and port days. Our 2 kids (Miss 5 and Miss 8) loved the kids club and the pool facilities. EMBARKATION We live in Sydney and decided to use the relatively new Light Rail to get into the city. This was great as where you get off at Circular Quay is only a few hundred metres walk from the Overseas Passenger Terminal. Our embarkation was later than advised due to the delayed arrival of the ship from the previous cruise (engine trouble on the 2nd to last day). We dropped our bags off at the cruise terminal at about 11am and went to Squire's Landing (bottom of the far end of the Overseas Passenger Terminal) for a few beers and some lunch. After taking a few selfies at the front of the ship, we started the boarding process - within about 35 minutes, we were checked in, through customs, and onboard in our cabin with our bags having already been delivered!!! It was definitely advantageous to have "Expedited Arrival" status as the queues were really long as a result of the delayed arrival. FOOD AND DINING We had the deluxe beverage package which was great - coffees each day, bottles of water for the shore excursions, and cocktails / beers / wine all the rest of the time. The package generally covers all single serve beverages apart from some of the more expensive wines by the glass (which are served in the speciality restaurants and Vintages bar). For dinner, we mainly ate in one of the 4 Main Dining Rooms (American Icon) with My Time dining. We did an early reservation (5.15pm) after we boarded and ended up getting the same table each night. Our wait staff (Andreas and Bresila) were fantastic and were very accommodating of our somewhat fussy Miss 5. It is great how there are 4 or 5 appetisers and mains which are different each night. We had a couple of nights in speciality restaurants - once in Chops (the steak was delicious!) and once in Wonderland (a great dining experience which even Miss 5 and Miss 8 enjoyed!). ONBOARD ACTIVITIES The iFLY and North Star are musts! For iFLY, I've been sky diving once before but still really enjoyed this experience – as did Miss 5 and Miss 8!!! We did the North Star on one of the at sea days so didn't really get to see much beside a whole lot of ocean... but seeing the ship itself from high above was certainly a unique experience. Highly recommend booking both iFLY and North Star before you board as they can get booked out for the whole cruise. We also went to a couple of the bumper car sessions in the SeaPlex. A real novelty doing something like this while on a cruise ship at sea, and a highlight for both Miss 5 and Miss 8. Unfortunately, it was incredibly popular meaning some long queues (waiting in line up to an hour for a 5 minute ride). We saw a couple of the shows in the Royal Theatre as well as the PIXELS show in the Two70 venue - all really high quality with some talented performers. SERVICE AND STAFF Very impressive. No matter where you went, the staff would always offer a cheerful greeting and an offer of assistance. Our cabin attendant Sebby was ever attentive, promptly making our beds in the morning while we were out at breakfast and then turning down our room when we were at dinner. High praise for our American Icon waitstaff – Andreas promptly taking our food orders when we arrived and delivering each course promptly, and then Bresila taking our drinks orders and bringing new glasses of wine when we finished what we had. SHIP QUALITY Ovation of the Seas is coming up to 4 years old, but isn't showing any signs of age. The staff do a brilliant job of keeping everything spotless, included constantly mopping water around the pools on the main deck. When we hit some rough seas between New Zealand and Australia on the return leg, the ‘sick’ bags were promptly put out at each of the stairwells for those in need. CABIN / STATEROOM Given we were a family of 4, it was pretty cosy with the couch being turned into a bed for Miss 5 and Miss 8. However, there was plenty of storage (multiple drawers as well as hanging space), and room under the bed to keep the bags. If you do run out of storage space, remember you can keep some clothes in your bag and just slide the bag out from under the bed when you need it. The bathroom was cosy but serviceable - toilet, sink, and shower. Water pressure in the shower wasn't great - but the shower head does have different settings which helped. DEBARKATION We were not in a rush to get off and were lucky enough to have once of the last assigned times (9.30am). This meant we were able to have a last breakfast in the Windjammer, and then have a bit of leisure time before our time was called. The luggage collection was a bit chaotic, and there was a bit of a queue to get through customs... but it really didn't take more than about 30 minutes to end up outside the terminal with our bags on our way home. SHIP TIP Do the full online check-in prior to your cruise (including uploading your photo). We did this and had "Expedited Arrival" on our SetSail passes. This meant we were able to skip the normal queue and get onboard really quickly. --- SHORE EXCURSIONS --- SOUNDS Breathtaking! Arriving into Milford Sound as the sun was rising was spectacular. The ship did a double spin at the end of Milford Sound meaning everyone had a good look no matter where they would have been on the ship. DUNEDIN We did the Otagos Wild Wonders. The bus trip wasn't great - almost an hour and 40kms driving from Port Chalmers all the way around to the opposite side of the harbour (about 1km as the crow flies). However, arriving at Natures Wonders we were warmly welcomed by Perry and his team. Riding on the Argo 8 wheel drive vehicles was huge fun, with a driving trek down to the ocean front of the Otago Peninsula. It was the end of the breeding season for the New Zealand Fur Seals, and we got to see a few dozen (at least) pups lazing around. The tour also included getting to see a penguin chick in a special nesting box. WELLINGTON Unfortunately due to earthquake damage to the cruise ship pier, Ovation docked at a commercial wharf which meant it wasn’t possible to walk directly onshore and away from the dock. However, we had booked ourselves on the Wellington Panorama shore excursion which means we boarded the bus right off the ship (a complimentary shuttle service was available for anyone who wanted to go ashore on their own). The tour was excellent, with our driving providing some great history of Wellington including many humorous anecdotes. Stops included the Wellington Botanical Gardens (so many different colours of roses!), Mt Victoria (a great way to see Wellington from on high), and then the Wellington foreshore (the Gallipoli exhibition in the Te Papa museum is brilliant). PICTON While the ship was again at a commercial wharf, a complimentary shuttle was also provided. Our shore excursion this time was the "Marlborough Train Tour". After a short bus ride to the Picton train station, we boarded Passchendaele, a WW1 memorial steam locomotive for a ride to Blenheim - this took about 30 minutes. Getting off at the Blenheim station, we had a chance to check out the locomotive and have a chat to the engineers. There was a great souvenir shop nearby where we picked up a couple of things, and then walked about 20 minutes to have lunch at Dodson Street Beer Garden (http://www.dodsonstreet.co.nz/). Just as much as the Marlborough region is known for its wines, there are also some great local breweries - and we got to try a number of the local brews at Dodson Street. Definitely worth going to if you like your beers! The afternoon saw us ride the train from Blenheim back to Picton, and then the bus back to the wharf to board Ovation. The queues for the bus in Picton were pretty long, so would suggest not hanging around in Picton for too long. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We read all the negative reviews expecting this cruise to be substandard. This cruise was perfect, staff great. I have no idea what people complain about and wonder if there is an expectation beyond what people pay for. Service great, food ... Read More
We read all the negative reviews expecting this cruise to be substandard. This cruise was perfect, staff great. I have no idea what people complain about and wonder if there is an expectation beyond what people pay for. Service great, food in buffet and free restaurants average, but you get what you pay for. If people expect high quality food while travelling 7 days to 2 countries with five star service while not paying for it, then complain away. Cruise was awesome. Please people see for yourselves and don’t believe the negative comments as gospel. A tip, a drink package at 100.00 Australian a day gives you 15 drinks a day. I could not use it and think next time will pay for the drinks as I go along. I feel people complain over minutiae. Great cruise and would book with them again. Please book salt restaurant, you pay for it and it’s the best food on board. I go back to saying, you get what you pay for otherwise don’t complain. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020

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