1. Home
  2. Cruise Styles
  3. Family Cruises
  4. Family Cruises Cruise Reviews

8,994 Family Cruise Reviews

I decided to put in my 2 cents to help the English speaking people who may want to join the Costa Cruise. Before booking this cruise, I read many horror stories about this Italian cruise line but decided to come anyway to see what it was ... Read More
I decided to put in my 2 cents to help the English speaking people who may want to join the Costa Cruise. Before booking this cruise, I read many horror stories about this Italian cruise line but decided to come anyway to see what it was really like. My mom and I took this 11 day Costa Concordia Cruise to the Eastern Mediterranean which started on January 20th, 2009. We took a train from Rome Termini (cost was 4 euro vs around 120 euro if you take the taxi) to Civitavechia (last stop). The train ride was about an hour and someone came to check out ticket 2 stops before arrival. We asked how much longer it would take to arrive but he didn't speak English. Luckily, there was a very friendly man sitting next to us who translated and gave us information on what to do later after we get off the train. We were pretty lucky because he turned out to be the Maitre d' for the restaurant on the cruise. Upon arrival, simply exit the terminal and turn right and walk toward the port where there is a McDonald. This is a short 2 minute walk and you will see a free shuttle bus that will take you to the ship. The check in time is from 1 pm to 6 pm so if you arrive around 1-3 pm, you should see lots of people walking toward the ship with no baggage....these are the crew.....so just follow the crowd. After the free shuttle arrived at the check in point, we were greeted with English speaking porter who said our luggages would be taken to our room since we have a tag on it already. Then another English speaking host greeted us and gave us a embarkation number. We were also instructed if we wanted, we could register our credit card number first while we wait for the expenses to come. The wait was not long and before we knew it, we were already on board. The keys and information are all laid out on the bed and the luggages were already there. So far, I thought everything was very efficient. All the crew I met spoke English and were friendly to very friendly. By the way, I am Chinese-American. The ship is relatively new. The Italians do smoke much more than us in America but there are non-smoking areas. Most smoked around the main lobby/piano bar area. If you avoid going over there, you should be fine. Since my mom spoke little English, we were pleased to find that there was a Chinese representative on board who greeted us and gave us an orientation. There is also an English speaking rep who does the same thing. They are there to help with all your questions and problems. The ship even had a Chinese menu to my surprise. Be sure to ask for that if you don't want pasta every day. I am not sure if they had Chinese food on board because it was around Chinese new year time when we traveled. But it doesn't hurt to ask if you want something different than pasta each day. For the first day, I though the service was excellent for a cruise line that holds more than 3000 passengers who spoke a variety of different languages Italians, French, German, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, and so on and on but the majority I think were still Italians.) I say this because I am in the customer service industry I can only imagine how service can be poor if the system is bad. We were greeted with a smile and directions in English whenever we were lost. The Maitre d' was happy to change sitting time for us and when the ship was rocky, he told us we could get sea-sick pills at the guest service but instead delivered it to us personally while we had dinner. The chef was thoughtful enough to give us sampler portions of each item on the Chinese menu when we couldn't decide what to eat. What was most impressive was that these were done without being requested. That's very good customers service in my opinion. Internet: It cost 50 cents in Euro for each minute. If you are in no hurry, there are Internet cafes near each port that you can use for a lot less $. Excursion office: They have all sorts of answers but are only interested in selling you the excursions. They will highly discourage you to go on your own so if you are planning to not take the excursions, it's better to bring guide books or you will waste a lot of time asking for information and get answers that may be frustration (in a language you don't understand, or various conflicting answers). The excursions we took ranged from 50 euros to 120 euros. The English guides were all very informative. And as a tip, if you book any excursions with Costa, you want to arrive at least 15-20 minutes earlier than their meeting time because that's when they pass out stickers to let you know what bus you will be on. The earlier you get the ticket, the faster you go to the sites to avoid the crowds. Also, if you want a front seat of the bus, you want to go on earlier too... We cruised in January and both the tours we took the guide said the season was slow but it felt like there were a lot of tourists already. I can't imagine what's it's like during the summer... Visa: If you are a US citizen, you don't need to apply for a visa ahead of time. They will do it for you on board. Samsara spa: The spa is very new, clean and nice. You will find a steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi and a few lounges with excellent view as they are situated in the front of the ship. The cost of a 1 day pass to access the spa facility is 35 euros. We went for the Cruise pass, which included unlimited access during the entire cruise and a free 50 minute massage. Cashier, Info: The section of the ship is the worse. They are understaffed for the number of people lining up to ask questions. You will also see Italians cut in front of the line to ask questions. In such cases, just inform them to not do that. Stops: Savona: The first stop is a town called Savona. The excursions included a trip to Monaco, Savona city tour and the Aquarium. We decided to explore the city on our own since the ship is within 5 minutes walking distance from the port. It's a very small town. We finished touring in about 2 hours by foot. Katakolon: We took an excursion to Olympia. We chose the one with the visit to Olympia, taste of local Greek wine, food, dance and music. I think the excursion was around 70 euros. The only worthwhile part of the excursion was the explanation of Olympia. If you have a guide book, you can go on your own. There were plenty of people who you will meet on the ship in which you can share taxi. The food, wine, dance and music were nice but really wasn't worth the extra money. Perias: We were on our own today. I figured Athens was big enough the metro and bus system would be easy enough to navigate. I heard from people who work on the cruise ship that to take the metro to the city center is 1 euro and to take a taxi is 5 euros. But when we got off, the official guide posted was around 20 euros to Acropolis. Then we we exited, the taxi drivers gave estimates that ranged from 80 to 120 euros for a 3 hour tour to and around acropolis. They kept saying the official posted rate is for one way and for per person. So, we decided to take the metro, which was not really very close to the port. Here is how to go. To take the metro, exit the ship and turn left on the downward sloping main road. Keep going left and you will see a Hertz car rental. Keep going and you will see a McDonald. From there, you are about ½ a kilo from the metro station (from the port to the metro about 1.5 kilos). The universal "M" that you commonly see in all the cities around the world is not posted on the metro closest to the port. The metro station is in a building next to a white bridge. When you see the bridge, just ask the local people and they will tell you where the entrance is. From the port, you want to take line 1 to Acropolis and exit on Monstraniki (I forgot the spelling) but it's about 7 stops away. What ended up happening was the metro stopped around the 4th stop and everyone got out. We sat in there until someone told us to go out and take the bus because the metro on the weekends are under construction. I don't know how long that will be so before you hop on, ask the cashier. Later on we found out there is a bus that goes straight from the port to Acropolis that takes about 50 minutes and costs around 50 cents in euro. As the information booth on the port before you leave. We finished touring the Acropolis around 1 pm and shared a taxi with 2 other Americans we met to go to Cape Sounion to see the Temple of Poseidon. In all honesty, if you have driven down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles, or have been to the Caribbean, you would not really find Cape Sounion impressive. I would have skipped it if I had known. The temple looked a lot like what you would see in the Acropolis so it's really not necessary to make that trip. It took 1.5 hours to get there, with traffic and then another 1.5 hours back. Izmir: Today we took the Ephesus tour only because the Chinese guide suggested we do half a day to Ephesus and spend the afternoon at the local bazaar that is right next to the port. Ephesus is about 40 minutes away and it's worth the trip. What I found most interesting was the whole city was made of marble. They had a men's sports club/bathroom area that is so well preserved that you can see the marble toilet and the ancient bidet and a fountain inside that used to have frogs singing so it's not embarrassing when you make noises. What was also funny was that the guide said that since all the toilets were made of marble, the rich used to have their slaves sit on it first for a while to warm it up before they use the facility. That was very interesting. I think the toilets in Japan solved that problem by having washlets that warm up today. Another interesting site was the library and how grand it was. There is a tunnel from the library that leads you to another place. To not ruin the surprise for you, I will not tell you where it goes and let you find out on your own while you go to this tour. If your guide doesn't mention it , make sure you ask. Finally, I was looking forward to seeing the bazaar and having Turkish people sell things to me because I wanted to compare how aggressive as merchants they were compared to the Chinese when you go to China. (if you have been, you know what I mean, my friend!) But unfortunately to find out, on Sundays, the Bazaar is closed at Izmir. So before you plan your day and you know you are arriving on a Sunday, ask around on the ship to make sure the bazaar is open or not to decide where to go because there is not that much to see around shopping streets near the port for the whole day. Rhodes: The old town is literally 5 minutes walk as you depart the ship. It's quite nice. After touring the town, we rented a car (from 11 am so the car was half price,40 euros for half a day). The rental car agency is right outside the ship. You can't miss it. I am glad we rented it otherwise we wouldn't have seen Lindos. The coastline is spectacular. The beach is very much like the Caribbean but the color is bluish instead of greenish. And also, the houses are white, typical of what you would see in Greek postcards. Lindos is worth the visit if you are coming to Greece for the first time and expect to see scenes of white houses with the blue ocean like those seen in Santorini. Limassol: We didn't join any excursion but bought a round trip shuttle bus ticket from the excursion office for 6 euros. There is not much here to see and you have to get back by 1 pm. Alexandria: I was looking forward to the Pyramids the most on this trip. We signed up for the Pyramids and Nile excursion. Boy was I shocked at how poor Alexandria and Cairo were. Buildings were unfinished, streets were dirty and people were poor. The tour guide kept saying we were passing through poor areas but it seemed to look like that all throughout the 2.5 to 3 hour trip from Alexandria to Cairo. Anyhow, be prepared for aggressive merchants selling you anything from postcards to taking your photo and charging you or taking a photo with you and charging you. Again, I thought the Turks were sort of bad already compared to the Chinese but I have to say the Egyptians win in their persistence to sell. I don't blame them. If that was the only way I could make a living, I would probably do the same. I prepared a lot of one dollar bills just to give away to poor kids there. Kids were selling things too. I went to the less aggressive ones (those with no business and still a lot of inventory on hand and bought things from them and then give the merchandise back to them to sell later.) I think it's useful to prepare a lot of $1 bills because everything is very cheap. $20 will is way too big. $1 will buy you 20 postcards already. The wooden sculpture of a cat or Pharaoh goes as low as $2 each. They were nice ones too. Anyway, if you are sick of people offering to sell you things, you can just ignore them and pretend you don't understand since there are so many nationalities there. Just saying no nicely won't work. The pyramids were a spectacular site. What was interesting was that there were no toilets next to the pyramids and the Sphinx. So be prepared to hold it or go in the bus you came in with. The tour guide highly discourages you to go into the pyramids although you could. She said there is nothing to see but you could if you wanted to. So I asked her where the entrance is when we arrived at the pyramids and she told me " you should have told me earlier that you wanted to go in, I had to buy tickets at the entrance." I wasn't very happy with that answer. She didn't say we had to tell her if we wanted to go when she announced the possibility of going in. Why did she announce it anyway if she was going to tell me it's too late. Anyhow, just so you know, if you want to go in, ask your tour guide ahead of time so you don't screwed like me. The Nile ride was OK. A river is a river and there is not much difference between the Nile and the others. However, the Egyptian buffet was delicious. Some people thought that was the best meal of the entire trip...compared to Costa's meals and I agree. There was a belly dancer along with another folk dance performance. The food and the show here were definitely better than that in Olympia. Finally, we went to see the Mosque. That was nice as well. Conclusion: Overall, the Costa cruise is better than my expectations. Don't expect the type of Americanized service you are used to at home because you are not a home. There is a big mix of culture and what's normal to them in handling situations may not be how it is to you. Here is my summary on each department: The cabin steward, waiters and service people were ALL very nice, polite and friendly. The excursion office people were also pleasant because they wanted to sell you the excursions but didn't want to offer you more information than necessary, which is not much at all if you want to go on your own. The cashier people were the worse. They didn't have much smile on their face and answered questions reluctantly. The excursions...well, if I had to do it again, the only one I would have taken is the one in Egypt since that country is too hard to navigate on your own because everything is in Arabic, transportation seemed difficult and it doesn't seem like you can get by with English. If you are adventurous, travels frequently and don't mind asking a lot of questions to strangers until you get the right answer, then you can definitely save a bunch of money going on your won. The spa....I would not join the entire trip spa deal for 199 euro again because there were at least 4 days out of the trip that the sea was too rough and it was not relaxing to rest in the Jacuzzi when there were waves splashing. I didn't feel I got my money worthwhile. The ship: lots of smokers. There are non-smoking areas though. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
We are both in mid 30th. We have been on two cruises before - Holland America's Noordam ( 11 nights) and Cunard's QM2 ( 4 nights). So I was comparing everything on NCL Gem with two previous trips even thought it was only 1 ... Read More
We are both in mid 30th. We have been on two cruises before - Holland America's Noordam ( 11 nights) and Cunard's QM2 ( 4 nights). So I was comparing everything on NCL Gem with two previous trips even thought it was only 1 nighters. We drove to the port 40 min from central NJ and paid $ 30 for parking (last time it was $ 24 per night). I found ship very cramped and boring. There are no open spaces, no wide halls. And whatever space was available in mini atrium, it was taking by photographers. We ate dinner at Magenta and breakfast in Grand Pacific Dining room. Food was nothing special at all. I checked buffet on the Deck 12 and discovered that food for lunch and dinner was totally the same. Lunch was extra crowded but for dinner hardly anyone was there. Show at 9.15 was just OK. After that we went to White Party. Female entertainment staff (who was dressed in white with angel wings) hardly was engaged with the dancers. The men from entertainment group were just standing around. I also didn't like the music so we left pretty soon. I though it will be crowded since pretty much nothing else was going on after the show, but only about 100 people showed up and half of them actually danced. We had inside cabin which was tiny. I can't even imagine going on 7-10 night cruise and have inside cabin especially with kids. I booked this trip by using some points. So at the end we got a good price. If we would stay one night in NY, saw the show and ate few times out, we would pay three times more. I don't think we will be cruising with NCL any time soon at least not on GEM. I would probably try another ship if the price is right. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
The SHIP IS STUNNING - but that's about it! I had guest relation concerns on three occasions and they keep you on hold 15 mins at least. There is limited interest in trying to resolve any concerns. In fact, when I asked for a ... Read More
The SHIP IS STUNNING - but that's about it! I had guest relation concerns on three occasions and they keep you on hold 15 mins at least. There is limited interest in trying to resolve any concerns. In fact, when I asked for a supervisor whose name was Claudio, he promised something he failed to deliver on, which I discovered after leaving the ship. They clearly need more people to answering the phone calls. The cruise director, Dru Pavlov has a boyish charm and reminds me of someone with a pasted smile, which I had seen to often on that ship who simply could care less about the passengers. However, I only saw him performing on stage for a few shows, which I did go to see. He simply promotes his staff in such a positive tone in front of all of us and seems to forget US. I ate at specialty restaurants five out of seven nights. SILK HARVEST with its Asian flair was highly overrated. There was dish after dish brought to the table, each equally as mediocre. Nothing was superb with quality of food. It was just an abundance of what they refer to as their small dishes for the appetizers and larger dishes. In fact, it was the only one of the three specialty restaurants where people were wearing jeans, which I thought was not allowed. TUSCAN GRILLE had much better food and I enjoyed a filet mignon but the service was okay at best. I just expect a lot more when your paying a premium to be at this venue. Meanwhile, MURANO - the French restaurant was booked for three nights and when I tell you it is far from satisfactory - please trust me on this one. It is indeed trying to be the most elegant of the three and is dimly lit, which I enjoyed. The centerpiece of the restaurant looked like a bunch of dead dried off white funeral flowers. This is not acceptable and they pull out and pull in your chair when you are ready to sit, which is a great touch - but these chairs have arms that droop down and are so uncomfortable. The tableware is elegant and that is about all the good this fine French restaurant has going for it. The waiters are most in training, I guess due to the ship being new. They make every effort to go above and beyond and over and over and after awhile it is really annoying. The food was absolutely nothing to rave about. The dover sole was about the best thing I had on the menu and prepared table-side. The filet mignon was also prepared table-side, which presents a great touch, but the side dish which had the mashed potatoes with potato chips in them and green beens were cold by the time they took five minutes to heat up the steak table-side. I did mention this to the waiter and the service got better as the nights progressed, but it should not take so many nights to get it right!!! Don't order the scallops, the chef overcooks them and they taste like rubber. I never had one ripe tomato, which was served along with their buffalo mozzarella. The casinos were always packed but I do not gamble. Their stores were a step above most ships but I highly do not recommend dealing with BROCK in their art gallery, called the Millenia Fine Arts. They held three onboard art auctions and their pieces each have a different price on them based on who you ask. I was excited about one piece by an artist I never heard about, D. A. Dunlop and after speaking with three different people I had three different prices ranging from $3900 - $7200. This made me lose any type of credibility in this gallery. I bought nothing and only realized the gallery's existence simply doesn't belong onboard. I sincerely hope I have helped share my view of a journey that just ended on 02/01/09. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
I note that the previous two reviews on this ship went to similar ports around the same time as me, and they had wildly different experiences. The truth is somewhere in between. 1. Boarding the ship was not a huge problem. Perhaps Fiona ... Read More
I note that the previous two reviews on this ship went to similar ports around the same time as me, and they had wildly different experiences. The truth is somewhere in between. 1. Boarding the ship was not a huge problem. Perhaps Fiona C had a problem because she arrived 5 hours before the ship sailed when all the clueless and old people arrived. RC recommended 2 hours prior. I arrived 2 hours prior and got on with minimal queues. 2. Getting off IS a problem when tendering is required. It was quite pathetic at Phuket; scheduled time was 2pm, we could only get tickets at 2pm. We got a ticket for boat NINE(!). They called us at 2:40 and then we waited in a cramped space for 20 minutes where everyone was pushing because they were all confused and frustrated. arrived in Phuket around 3:30. 3. Re Fiona's comments on KL, the fact that the port is far from KL is not RC's fault, although you ought to factor this in in planning your day. 4. RC is at fault for deliberately not giving useful information on ports. E.g. how easy is it to get around WITHOUT joining one of their expensive tours. In fact it is quite easy although they obviously make it sound a lot harder than it is. If you have more than 1 person taxis are much cheaper than joining an RC tour. Since RC gave us no info whatsoever, cruisers were afraid they would be stuck in a port in the middle of nowhere with no taxis or buses. Thats what they want you to think. 5. We stayed in a Junior Suite which was quite nice. However, Fiona C IS correct unfortunately that some suites (most of which are on level 8) were noisy because around 5am people were moving chairs. No such problem in our friends room in level 6. This ought to be improved. If I went on this cruise again I would pay less for a smaller suite not on Level 8. 6. There were some organization problems. We ordered 2 singles and they gave us 1 double. This was fixed quite quickly. More problematically, we had 4 friends and wanted a table to ourselves. They have 4 seat tables that were not being used but for some reason they put us on an 8 person table. This is not acceptable to me, since I don't like dining with strangers, particularly since there was 4 person tables not being used at all. Further, there is open seating for breakfast and lunch and each time they REFUSED to give us a four person table. They surely do not understand Asian preferences. 7. OK, the food is average if you are use to good food. Steaks are tough (don't order anything more than medium), I recommend sticking with fish. It is frustrating because there is only one proper restaurant, and the food there is the best on the ship, but it is not often very good. Desserts are OK. 8. The biggest problem with the cruise were the breakfast and lunch waiters. One in particularly made me so angry, I hope RC reads this and sacks him. His name is Dindo something. He was so rude; every time we asked him a question or made a request he was rude. Overall breakfast/lunch service was terrible but he really stood out. He barked questions at each of us like "WOULD YOU LIKE SOME BREAD????" with a really annoyed tone. He acted as though waiting tables was beneath him. Once I asked for Chinese Tea, and he came back with an Earl Grey, saying they don't have Chinese tea. I said then I'll just have English Breakfast, and he just chucked the Earl Grey on the table and went off to get the tea. 9. The pool was quite nice, but as a first time cruiser I was surprised at how small it was (less than 10 m long and 4 m across?). During peak periods you could barely fit in it, let alone swim. The great thing was that after dinner there was nearly no one there! Each night I went for a swim around 10pm and it was warm enough to just stand there and watch the stars above. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
This review contains detailed descriptions of deception, violence, false imprisonment and many more real life stories that if I did not witness myself I would never believe it was possible. Before I detail the entire series of incidents, ... Read More
This review contains detailed descriptions of deception, violence, false imprisonment and many more real life stories that if I did not witness myself I would never believe it was possible. Before I detail the entire series of incidents, deceptions and mishaps that made up a 2 week cruise I would like to express that the following review does have some bias, firstly the review is written from the point of view of a cigarette smoker who is a night owl, that is to say I enjoy smoking my cigarettes with meals, with drinks and in most social situations, and I work night shift so my day on this cruise starts at 1pm and rarely ends before 6am. If you are a smoker, and like the night hours then it is likely that you will not suffer from many of the problems that both I and other late night smokers experienced on this cruise. yet I do still advice you to read this review at it includes many points that you need to know and that WILL AFFECT your enjoyment while cruising on this ship. Some background about me... The cruise mentioned was my first cruise and I traveled with my wife and my 4 year old daughter. I booked the cruise in part as a gift for my wife to make up for the missing on 2 anniversaries, and before you roll your eyes at me, I must say in my defense that the forgetfulness was mutual, we both forgot! My wife suffers from a medical condition that causes us to need a disability accessible stateroom. Let's start from the start... 6 weeks before the cruise we researched for many hours and located a good price for the cruise and chose a local travel agent, and booked an affordable stateroom on deck 8. It had the extra space needed and was a good find. A few days later all was paid and we started planning our adventure. Our travel agent gave us our reservation number which allowed us to access the online check in section of the royal Caribbean website. The nightmare begins... Once we logged into the website we quickly discovered that the stateroom we issued was not what we booked and was not a disability accessible room, after contacting the travel agent we were unable to obtain a solution to this and so chose to contact the company directly. Here is the email I sent... Dear Special Needs Department, Recently I booked and paid in full for a cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas (Jan 13th 2009 to New Zealand), for my wife, myself, and my 4 year old daughter. For reference my reservation Number is: XXXXXX. Due to a misunderstanding beyond the control of my travel agent we were booked into a NON wheelchair accessible cabin, which will be unsuitable for my wife's requirements in both size and features. I myself am able bodied, yet am unable to assist my wife with the necessary lifting into and out of normal showers as well as assisting her moving around tight spaces. We committed almost all of 4 years savings toward this (our first ever) cruise and chose your cruise line for its uniquely generous ship wide features to assist wheelchair bound passengers. We are looking so forward to this cruise but are very concerned about us ending up in an unsuitable cabin. We spoke to our travel agent (we cannot fault her efforts) to see if she could correct this error, but unfortunately there was no way to do so as our cabin number was now officially assigned. I contacted your office and was given your email and told that if I was to contact your department directly you may be able to offer a solution that my agent could not offer. So I politely request if there is any way to have our reservation changed to a wheelchair cabin then we would be endlessly appreciative, I would be seriously happy to even help do dishes or do our own cabin cleaning for the 2 weeks if this can help cover the possible increased cost of a cabin change alteration fee, if not is there any way we can cancel the cruise and get a refund for the amount paid and then we will book a cruise where we can get the right cabin? Whatever you are able to do I will be very appreciative for you assistance, Please feel free to contact me anytime if you need any further details, but note that due to our difference in time zone email may be the best way to contact me. After sending the email the next day I received this..... Good Afternoon XXXXXX, Unfortunately at this time there are no accessible staterooms available. Best Regards Access Staff KH Just prior to receiving this email I was on numerous sites that were still advertising available staterooms, but just to be sure I rang up royal Caribbean and checked if there was available staterooms to suit our needs and found that there were many left, so I replied saying.... How about a suite do they have larger area's to maneuver a chair? Any available? Good Morning XXXXX, Unfortunately this sailing is completely sold out. Best Regards Access Staff KH I must admit that I had lost patience at this stage, two blatant lies is more than I can take, so my reply was very explicit, but I do justify this with 2 simple facts, the staff member lied and when pushed lied again, I saved for years to afford this vacation, and before I had even left to meet the cruise ship I was being ripped off. so here is what I wrote... Hello KH, (Please see below this email for previous correspondence.) I have a few points to make, in the form of questions that I require answers to. 1. Why do you not sign the emails with a name? 2. Why are you telling me the sailing is sold out, when it simply is not. 3. Why did you ignore my well thought out and sincere email, and simply offer a one line answer, is it your policy to be so short and unhelpful to your clients? My up to date research has shown that your statement "Unfortunately this sailing is completely sold out." Is simply not accurate, as a matter of fact it seems to be a blatant lie, as moments after you sent that I enquired with numerous other travel agents and discovered that there are still many cabins that could be better suited to my wife's special needs and that as of this email being sent are still available. I am a very understanding person, for example I do understand that your computer system is having some serious issues, I can also understand that you may simply be overwhelmed with emails and are trying to get through the backlog as quickly as possible, and I hope that this is the reason you mistakenly told me falsehoods. I am prepared to forgive you and consider this a simple misunderstanding, as long as you are prepared to assist me to the best of your abilities, I formally request that you please review the possibility of upgrading our family to a stateroom/cabin that is more suited to our needs, I can understand if the wheelchair accessible cabins are sold out, so that being the case I request you to do everything in your power to upgrade our family to a suite or similar that will allow us a cruise without distress. As my previous emails seem to have been mostly ignored or dismissed, I strongly regret the need to add the following warning, if you do not arrange for us to upgrade to a large suite or cabin I will start emailing every email address that your company has, I will contact every manager, marketer, employee and owner in the company and explain in great detail how you have falsely claimed that your sold out, treated my wife's needs with little care and generally offended our family. I will access the directory of the company and hand write each of them explaining how we were treated , and go to every cruise related site and write an amplified version of the entire situation for the entire world to see how you treat people with special needs. I simply cannot believe you treated us the way you did, and hope you we can all put this behind us with no hard feelings, apologies will not do, just fix the cabin situation, email me your results and I will take this no further whatsoever. It worked they quickly replied with... Good Afternoon Simon: Please realize we have been working on your request. When you sent the first email there was nothing available since inventory changes and due to company policies we are not able to upgrade you from an interior stateroom to a suite. The main reasons for that is that the suites available were not accessible to your wife's needs, they do not have a roll- in shower etc. Thankfully, we had a cancellation on an accessible cabin today, which means you have been upgraded to cat J cabin number 8XXX at no additional cost. as per our management, we are told to put our initials not our full name (as you may know every company has their rules). Please advise if you have any other questions. Thank you and enjoy your cruise. Best Regards, Access Staff GR OK so with a little stressing the point they ended up doing the right thing though the free upgrade they offered was what we originally booked so they really are not offering anything more than what we paid for, still I forgave them as promised, we put the whole thing out of our minds and continued to look forward to our first cruise vacation. I secretly ordered a healthy snacks gift pack for my daughter and an anniversary package for my wife, which included room and door decorations etc. Time flied and It was now 10 days prior to sailing (6 days prior to us leaving to fly to Sydney) when we logged into book a few shore excursions, we entered our details and click login. A Free Downgrade... We all know that there is nothing better than finding out you have been given a free upgrade, but can you imagine how it feels to be given a last minute FREE DOWNGRADE! A wondered if this might be retaliation for my harsh email, or maybe it was just a mistake, either way it was not acceptable, so I decided that I had better call the cruise line in the USA and after waiting on hold for what seemed like hours and then patiently explained the entire situation to cruise consultant, then being directed to another cruise consultant I repeated the entire story and finally found someone who cared and was assured that the problem would be rectified and that I would receive a call the next day. Groundhog Day... Of course the next day passed and so I called back, waited on hold, got passed around again and was assured that they understood the urgency (yet again) and that they would fix this and get back to me. Of course the next day passed so I called again, spoke to another cruise consultant, who of course assured me they had no record of this and again explained the entire situation to them in complete detail and was put through to the personal assistant to the president of the company. Finally someone who truly showed concern and was only a whisper away from the big man himself. believe it or not they fixed the situation and upgraded me from the tiny, inappropriate stateroom to the cabin I originally booked and paid for. Though not as easy to do this time, my family tried hard to put the entire mess behind us and tried again to look forward to a wonderful first ever cruise vacation. We enjoyed Sydney for a few days and got to the cruise terminal and was checked in an boarded reasonably quickly (about 90 minutes), the staff on the ship warmly greeted us, and our daughter was continually made to feel more welcome than we thought was humanly possible. It seemed like the worst was behind us. The ship stayed in Sydney for 2 days and left on time, the seas were high the minute we got into the open ocean (4 meters waves) and the usual first time cruises (including my wife) made good use on the sea sick baggies that were placed all over the ship. All in all (apart from the high seas) a good time was had by all. Time to relax, over a drink and a cig. Ok so it's now time for a nice cigarette, knowing in advance that I could not smoke in the staterooms or hallways, I headed for the nearest bar, saw many tables that had no smoking signs, so I sat down in a nice deserted of both people and non smoking stickers (I may be a smoker, but I am sensitive to the fact that others don't always enjoy the smell of my cigarettes) ordered my overpriced drink and lit my cigarette. But before I had time to take my first drag, I was rudely told that I could not smoke here. You ever notice that attitude people give when you light up in an area that is supposed to be for non smoking. People never say "Excuse me mate, this is a non smoking area.." in a polite and helpful way. So often it's "Hey, you can't smoke here!" and almost always said in I negative tone. Ok, well again not going to let a few rude people spoil my vacation, so I left the area and went to one place that one can always smoke, the casino, anyway to cut a long story short the cruise ship has decided that smoking can only be done in a small area on an open deck near the pool. As much as I am very annoyed at the lack of smoking area's on the ship, this is not my chief complaint, what really got me furious is that the official website went into great detail about smoking informing customers as to the many places that you cannot smoke, not listing the bars, and other area's one would naturally believe you can smoke. It even goes as far as stating "smoking is only permitted in designated areas and outdoors on the Starboard side of the ship" The fact is there is only one spot on the entire ship that you can smoke, and there are NO other designated areas. (See http://www.royalcaribbean.com/customersupport/faq/details.do;jsessionid=0000ENlhJDdO-gV7gg6Q9l8cuf_:12hbiocak;jsessionid=0000BYxZO5kzTD8cm1jVThW_x3m:13hldil87?pagename=frequently_asked_questions&pnav=5&pnav=2&faqSubjectName=Onboard+Policies&faqId=3101&faqSubjectId=333&faqType=faq) So if you are like me and enjoy a few smokes each hour you will find yourself constantly leaving the enjoyment of the bars, clubs and other area's (walking many miles a day) to get to a smoking area. I could go on and on about the annoyances this caused, but let me shorten it to the simple fact that due to not being able to move around like the average fit and health cruiser I ended up spending many hours a day simply not leaving the smoking area, as by the time my wife and I got to the place we wanted to go we would barely spend anytime enjoying it before having to turn around and travel back to the smoking area. Not a smoker? Ok so to all the non smokers out there who are smiling and thinking to yourself "Serves him right" don't think for one minute being a non smoker will mean traveling on this ship will be problem free. A room with a view. Ok so onto the cabins, though our cabin was an inside cabin and so of course we were not expecting a view, I did try to surprise my wife with some room decorations (see http://www.royalcaribbean.com/content/en_US/pdf/Stateroom%20Decoration%20Photo%20Gallery.pdf) to add some flair to our anniversary cruise. They were ordered weeks before we set sail, and were to be placed in our cabin the first night we set sail. I was optimistic about this being done right, as I truly felt that with all that had gone wrong surely something was due to be done on time as requested. I could not have been more wrong. I prepared the room before going to dinner making sure it was all set for a romantic evening, we had dinner and all went as planned, mentioning that I had a surprise awaiting us. So took my wife back to our cabin and lo and behold, nothing, no Champaign , no chocolate covered strawberries and no anniversary decor, to say I was very disappointed would be a huge understatement. I tried hard to cover the problem, so at least once I sorted this out I could still retain the romantic surprise aspect of the plan. I made up some excuse as to why this magical surprise evening had to be delayed and instead we went for the long walk to our segregated smoking area and met up with some other cruise critics, who we spent hours sharing stories with, mostly about the lies, deception and incompetency of Royal Caribbean. Later in this review I will share some of their problems and concerns, but for now back to the decorated room. Groundhog Day Part 2 Day 1 After my wife was asleep I marched up to the pursers desk and explained the situation, they seemed unconcerned about the problem and showed no sympathy, but did assure me that the next night they would get it decorated as it should have been. I made sure to explain in detail that this was part of a surprise evening I planned for my wife and UNDER NO circumstances should they allow my wife to hear about this, for example I did not want a note or similar under our door saying "Your Surprise room decorations will be done while you're at dinner, we hope you have a great time!" I made sure the purser placed a note in the computer to assure this does not occur Day 2 The next day I was less optimistic, but did still believe that I could do it over. So after going to dinner we went back to the suite and again absolutely nothing. This time I was truly upset and very angry, I proceeded to the pursers desk and demanded to know how they could be so incompetent. This time they saw how upset I was and tried to show sympathy, but failed when they explained to me that they could not just send someone down to decorate the room, and now claimed that they had no record of the decorations being ordered and said they would have to call the Miami office in order to check on this, and again assured me that they would make this right, told me to try and have a nice day and I would be pleasantly surprised the next night. Day 3 The next day, it came it went and again nothing. So once again I went to the pursers desk and again had to explain the entire story which by this time took well over 20 minutes to detail to them. Now you would think any moron would understand that under the circumstances the best thing to do would be to just give me what I want and then in their own time check up on why I did not get what I paid for, but the compartmentalized staff behind the counter simply did not have the ability to think for themselves and so were more than happy to insult me further by saying "For us to do this immediately, you need to be able to show us proof you ordered these items, without a receipt as far as we are concerned you never ordered them." So off I went to the internet cafe to log into my email, at a cost of AUD $0.80 a min and after spending 22 minutes going through my junk mail bin I finally found the receipt and click print. Finally I had the proof they needed, I went to the printer to pick it up and guess what the printer did not work. It took another hour to sort that out and then finally print my receipt". I returned to the pursers desk to find the girl I was talking to no longer on duty and so I spend another 20 minutes explaining the story, gave her the receipt and was (you guessed it) once again assured that everything would be fine and the next night I would have all I ordered secretly done while I was at dinner. Day 4 The next day I enjoyed a wonderful dinner and had some beautiful portraits done, enjoyed a few long walks to the smoking area and mid evening I placed our daughter in child care so my wife and I could enjoy an intimate evening in our own little anniversary suite with Champaign, strawberries, chocolates and each other. I arrived and what do you think was there, you guessed it... nothing, now not that we did not have fun that and most nights, all I wanted was a nice intimate evening with all the works. I did not even bother to waste my time again with the incompetent pursers desk, and enjoyed some long walks, a few drinks and went to bed. Day 5 While in the shower the next morning the phone rang (our first even call) and my wife took it, it was the purser who for some reason known only to him and maybe his therapist he spent 5 minutes telling my wife all about how they were sorry about the mistake, and told her Miami found no record of the payment for the items and if we would like to come down to the office they could charge our credit card and . Not only did they give the entire surprise away, but the chose to explain every aspect of the surprise to my wife, they left nothing out. For the love of God how could they be so (CENSORED) to do that. I really wanted to go on in more detail about the trip and the ship, but I am out of time so I will summarize the rest of my complaints and if I have time I will come back and edit this. During the 2 week cruise, numerous reports of violence were made, including one where a 12 year old and her teenage friends were beaten up by a drunk man. The 12 year old was slapped, punched and placed into a headlock. With over 500 camera's (so we were told) security did not respond to this and only responded after it was reported. Drink prices are very high. Bingo prices are about 6-7 times higher than Australia. Many crew members are desperately seeking a transfer from this ship to any other RC ship, I heard many complains and from other guests who spoke in more detail with the crew I am told that there is a huge amount of the crew that are trying to leave the ship. The pay rate for most crew on this ship is appalling. Though there is a 24 hour coffee/tea station, at 1am the coffee runs out and is rarely refilled. During most evenings and early morning hours milk cannot be found at the coffee station. The main pool deck was closed for most of the day, completely cutting smokers off from the limited smoking area, once they did finish their mega cleaning they simply left all the chairs stacked up in a pile soaking wet. When dining in the main dining room, our tables were rarely cleaned. So you sat there with your dirty plates until the next course was served. This occurred night after night. Our daughter was mistreated by staff at the kids club, and given foods that she was allergic to, even though they were cleanly written on her file and we regularly reminded them. The captain was not that great, very bland and reserved when giving his daily announcements. ½ way through the cruise we discovered that the mattress our 4 year old was sleeping on was actually covered in mould!!! (msg me to see pictures) As I am running short on time I just want to say that what I have stated above is less than 50% of the problems I had on this cruise. False Imprisonment is a common feature of this ship. The morning of the last day of the cruise we were all ready to go and we headed for the gangway, we inserted our cards into the machine (as you do each and every time you come off and on the ship) and it made a very load beep, the security staff stopped us from leaving the ship and contacted the front desk, and then proceeded to say we cannot leave the ship. I was outraged, I don't care what the reason is that I was requested to attend the front desk, but I explained that I was leaving the ship, and that if they tried to stop me I would charge them with false imprisonment, and if they attempted to physically stop my 4 year old daughter from leaving the ship them it would be kidnapping. Though they did not physically assault me or my family they did stop us lawfully leaving the ship. I was taken to the pursers desk and they explained that I had an outstanding account of USD $3.12 and that if I did not pay then I would be refused exit from the ship. Can you believe that not only did not falsely imprison me and my family, illegally imprisoning us on their ship for almost an hour, but they did so for just $3.12 that did not get approved on my credit card (which was overdrawn). Now some reading this review might think that this would never happen to you, but think again. While I was at the pursers desk on being handled like a criminal and being imprisoned over a $3 overdue account my wife was at the gangway (also unable to leave the ship) and in the time she was their (about 10 minutes) she counted no less than 12 people who were also falsely imprisoned, treated like criminals, after long discussion and we estimate that 1 in 25 people were falsely imprisoned, treated rudely and forced to wait around for an hour or more (some missed their connecting busses and trains) to sign a 4 page document saying they would promise to pay back the owed money. This is completely outrageous, and I am strongly considering legal action against the company. AVOID THIS SHIP AT ALL COSTS!!!!! Simon James Anyone wanting to make direct comments or get further details can contact me at sales@instant-leads.com Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
this was our first RCL cruise; and we had met family onboard so we had a nice party of six. When cruising a very large ship; there are advantages and disadvantages to this... first I must say we had a fantastic time, because it was a ... Read More
this was our first RCL cruise; and we had met family onboard so we had a nice party of six. When cruising a very large ship; there are advantages and disadvantages to this... first I must say we had a fantastic time, because it was a novelty to meet up with family and be together... However, I am rating the ship itself. First and foremost, there is no question when cruising a ship that holds 4300 people you are getting quantity over quality.... Below is a list of what RCL offers: There is no question that due to the economy that RCL is NOTICEABLY making cut backs and skimping on many amenities this is apparent in the midnight chocolate buffet that I was specifically told by crew that it has been eliminated due to the economy... I feel thats ok because they have to cut back to keep prices where they are unfortunately you can see the cracks in the way these ships use to be and how they are now. PRO'S Staff goes out of their way and is outstanding in really everyway... michelle our dinner waitress was so so good that it actually made our trip so enjoyable.. she and her crew were fantastic and we all felt very close to her...overall the staff is A+++ stateroom we had was promenade with a bow window... I have to say that this was our first inside room over a balcony ever and we were very happy with the size and space... the bathroom was fine and the shower you can actually turn around due to the circle design over the standard square design. This was fine and I would recommend this room. The food overall was average; it was good, we enjoyed certain things and did not care so much for others. The food cannot be compared to celebrity, there is a major difference between these classes of ships. The breakfast was fine in the dining room; but slower of course... Lunch was excellent in the dining room with a really nice salad bar this was our favorite! The menu did not change daily like on princess; you can easily see the recycling of food items daily... the special of the day was always something left over from the dinner the night before. I have to say that the seafood was not so apparent like on other ships and this is basically because of the cut backs you can see this. they served catfish and cod which are the cheapest... no Chilean sea bass or something like grilled tuna basically food served for the masses in the least expensive way. Johnny Rockets was very good and worth the extra charge. Promenade was very good and a great place to walk and hang... although it gets extremely crowded at certain times. Sorrentos pizza was great and we loved it also the cafe was very good for coffee and danishes and the employees were eager to serve you and sometimes they even would hand us cookies even though we did not ask for it service again was just great! shopping stores were decent... that was the good; NOW FOR THE BAD AND UGLY.. The tendering is horrible.. everyone complained and was annoyed.. we spent actually 1 1/2 hours getting from the ship to the island imagine 4300 people going down a staircase that holds two people wide... this was awful to say the least and it was hot and sweaty and we just stood in this stairway for the line to move an inch.. after that we had to stand in a hallway in the belly of the ship and wait endless amounts of time to get onto the boat... another 20 minutes to load the boat; another 15 minutes to get to the island and another 10 minutes to get off the boat with 350 people.. just BAD; RCL you better fix this because no one was happy.. don't visit ports unless the island builds a dock; tendering is a joke with a ship this size! elevators are impossible; they are crowded and packed and people squish in together like sardines in a can.. its always a nightmare to get an elevator unless its a port day and everyone is off the ship.. peak times like dinner is basically "forget it"! walk the stairs... One thing I have to say to all my friends at cruise critic is this.... so many people say that when you are on a big ship you never see people and you cant believe there are so many people onboard????? where?? This is not true, we always saw thousands of people everywhere and its always packed and crowded... if you are looking for a vacation for peace and quiet you better steer clear of this ship and all like it. windjammer buffet is terrible; crowded, annoying, food is not average; similar to what you would expect at the circus circus buffet in las vegas a bunch of ugly, smelly, items thrown together on station had lined up...mashed potatoes; gravy; catfish; pasta; and an ugly red sauce that no one seemed to go near... basically cheap food items served in a unorganized atmosphere with a thousand people moving in all directions and no formal lines to anything. On sea days just forget about it if you dare to sit in the sun; by mid morning all chairs on all areas of the ship were taken-every chair on every level like cattle; all lined up touching each chair.. this is a nightmare and impossible to relax because you cant even get out of your chair. If you ever wanted to see what 4300 people; come to the pool on a sea day not relaxing at all. The pool water was ice cold to boot. Overall the entertainment was bad. The liberty of the seas singers and dancers headlined almost everynight; it was not good and most people did not like it I'm sure its cheaper to have them perform everynight than to pay for better well known entertainment; ice show was great a must must see... and they had a comedian one night and impressionist was very good. smoking is allowed on this ship and it shows.. people are smoking everywhere; bars; pool; casino; we saw people smoking on the balconies too. In conclusion, Let me say this... we had a wonderful time with the staff and family.. of course its never easy to get six people to coordinate exactly and this sometimes becomes a little frustrating. Big ships are what they are.. big ships! you have more of everything because you have to... you have more people... but if you are looking to totally relax and not have lines everywhere; then this is not for you... sometimes a nice peaceful day relaxing; taking it easy is difficult onboard because of the masses and masses of crowds. RCL is a big ship and thats what you get; we prefer celebrity for numerous reasons.. and even smaller... RCL is apparent in its nickel and diming you for everything... they seem to try to grab extra money from you at all corners and turns. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
I will never cruise on Carnival again! This was my 56th cruise, 8th on Carnival. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. Illness, running out of food staples, to misinformation provided by the crew-it all happened! The only ... Read More
I will never cruise on Carnival again! This was my 56th cruise, 8th on Carnival. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. Illness, running out of food staples, to misinformation provided by the crew-it all happened! The only redeeming quality was the room stewards and wait staff, on the 2nd and 3rd leg. The first leg's wait staff was rude,, insulting and incompetent. Anytime a waiter replies to you, "You rich people with all your money!" One member of our table complained because the waiter never gave us a 2nd glass or water, more bread or the correct order and the waiter argued back with her. He spent his time flirting with two women at a nearby table. However, Geoffrey and Vladimir, more than made up for this on our next legs of the cruise. The cruise director was a font of misinformation on any subject you could ask him about. I had promised myself after my last disastrous cruise on the Paradise, when it was still in the Caribbean, that I would never go on a Carnival ship again. I should have kept my promise. On that cruise gangs of young toughs roamed the ship intimidating their fellow passengers-swearing at them and pushing them. I complained and was told, "they are passengers too!" I believe all Carnival needed to do was ask advice from her fellow cruise ships that had been around the Horn, and she could have avoided most of the flagrant incompetence that we experienced. I love cruising, but never again on Carnival, not the fun ship but the dumb ship!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
EMBARKATION: We lined up at check in at 1415pm, Check in had already commenced. After 45 minutes we were checked in and then only had to wait another 10 minutes to board the boat. So that was no big deal with the small kids 3 and 5 ... Read More
EMBARKATION: We lined up at check in at 1415pm, Check in had already commenced. After 45 minutes we were checked in and then only had to wait another 10 minutes to board the boat. So that was no big deal with the small kids 3 and 5 handling that one quite well. CABIN. We had three cabins one of them a 4 berth with 2 kids. The staff were friendly although were few and hard to find apart from out steward, Who gracefully apologized on the tardiness and stained sheets which were promtly changed. However the boat had no spare queen size dooners for us, Just two singles nothing could be done there despite booking over 6 months ago. Word of advice you will need to request these in advance on your bookings. Towels and anything that was requested through our steward was done effortlessly. Air conditioning was absolutely terrible and too hot. Most nights we were up on deck till late to cool down. Crew did nothing to look at the situation either. DINING: Upon boarding, despite being 330pm the lunch buffet was open as well as the grill (which normally charges for meals). We used the Waterfront Al-la-carte for all evening dinners. Out waiter and Maitre'd were fantastic with reasonably fast service. Ashame on the quality of food. Lines were not too long, however you can reserve your table in advance. Theyr only take reservations for two sittings. Up to 615pm for the first sitting and no earlier than 730pm for the second sitting. We tried the Salt Grill for lunch which attracted a $20 service charge. We did not think much of it, either the food quality or service which was slow and not friendly at all. The only queues we found we at the pool bar at peak times it was very slow to get drinks. They could have had a lot more sales had their been staff. There was no waiter service visible for the pool and lounge area either. DRESS CODE: Despite being cocktail dress. Only about 80 percent dressed to the applicable (suite and cocktail dress). On other nights when it says slacks for men, about half still went dining in their shorts and thongs. Even women did their part to dress down as well. Nor did I see any enforced dress code in place either. CHILDRENS CLUB: (Turtle Club was used) The fact that the kids only wanted to spend their time there and not with us, and tantrums ensued when we couldn't take them there eg at meal times, speaks for itself. They loved it. There was a full program to keep them amused. ENTERTAINMENT: Quite good, eg the circus performances whether it be in the Marqee Lounge, Atrium Lounge or out on deck. And those Elephants look so real it promted our 6 year old to ask where does he sleep as he cannot fit in our cabin. How sweet!!! There could be more trivia options throughout the day. Rather they all seemd to be in the evening and overlapped at times. The Pacific Daily (whats happening each day) seemed rather cluttered and hard to read. Layout was not all that clear. DISEMKARKATION: This is where the reception staff were caught short and offered inconsistent advice. Despite our severe frustration with them (my only encounter with them) we got to disembark early with our own luggage within 45 minutes after docking. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Embarkation was the smoothest of all my cruises. We arrived around noon and were on the boat 15 minuets later with our glass of welcome aboard drink. Once on the boat our cabins were ready by 2. The cabin itself was alright. The ... Read More
Embarkation was the smoothest of all my cruises. We arrived around noon and were on the boat 15 minuets later with our glass of welcome aboard drink. Once on the boat our cabins were ready by 2. The cabin itself was alright. The bathroom smelled or urine but appeared clean. The TV remote did not work. The pillows to the bed were of the regular rectangular shape, but there were also square pillows that were very uncomfortable. Before leaving port, a person was transported off the ship for a medical reason, (hope they are doing good). Once underway, the deck party began. like I said above, the weather was unfortunately cold and cloudy. The Bahamas was the first stop. This shop arrives very early and was the first at the port, many of the vendors were not even open upon our arrival, and once again in was cold, windy, and cloudy. We were able to get to Atlantis for a $4 cab ride each way. HERE IS A TIP, if you want to see the aquarium at atlantis and don't want to pay the $35.00 per person do this,: first thing, When you walk into the main building walk through the lobby and past the stairs, go to the outside area were there is a elevator to the right, take the elevator down to the 1st floor and walk to the right, your now in the "PaY" area. If you walk to the left, you will encounter security, if they catch you just play the stupid card and tell them someone in the lobby pointed you to the elevator because you could not walk down the stairs, it worked with us cause we had kids with strollers. Basically if you walk around like your a guest they don't bother you, and most cruise ships do not get in that early so they probably think you are staying at the hotel. We ate lunch at Senor Frogs which is always fun, (but cold). and the went to the straw market. The next day we were supposed to go to Great Stirrup Cay, the trip had to be cancelled due to high "winds and seas" although during the day the seas appeared to be minimal and the wind could barely be felt. The ship spent the day at sea. According to the Capt. during this time of the year, winds are heavy out of the north and conditions are commonly no conducive to tender. The debarkation process was a smooth as ever just like getting on. Early "express" checkout was at 730 and we were off the ship and through customs at the car by 745. I arrived at my car to fin a parking ticket because i parked in a 7ft height restricted area. Thought i would be ok since my Durango is 6'10' plus we put baby strollers and luggage on the racks, but of course to fight the 23.00 fine i would have to go back to miami. All in all it was a fun trip for the money. Carnival is still our line of choice, however we would consider this again. Demographic was fairly young. I would say average age was between 23-40. Some VERY rowdy and loud girls on board. and the kids pool at the front of the boat which is heated was commonly filled with loud, drunk adults who wanted to find warm water on a cold day. Security told us that this was "freestyle" cruising and they would not ask the adults to leave, however when we took the kids in the empty adult hot tub, while at port, and no one else was even around, we were asked to leave the area. The ship needs to be updated. The food was ok in dining. The buffet needs work as was a quality and organization. we did not try any specialty restaurants, however i hear the food was VERY good. Room service was as expected, however the person answering the phone was rude on all (3) occasions. I hope the weather is better on the next one. I think thats were the vacation started going south......haha Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Embarkation: This was a fiasco. It was a complete zoo, and a wonderful way to remind you that you are going to be crammed into a boat with 2000 people. We encountered this at 12:30 pm at the height of all organized bus transfers and ... Read More
Embarkation: This was a fiasco. It was a complete zoo, and a wonderful way to remind you that you are going to be crammed into a boat with 2000 people. We encountered this at 12:30 pm at the height of all organized bus transfers and other large groups arriving. So, since we drove, my wife and 2 yr old son dropped off our checked baggage and left to drive around the lower 9th ward for a small self guided katrina devastation tour. When we got back at 2:30, it took less than 15 minutes to get on. Overall experience on the boat: Our interior cabin was probably typical and neither special nor bad. The bathroom was very usable. It was very nice for what it was. There was never any problem with our stateroom. However, I did find the beds somewhat uncomfortable. Superbowl Sunday: Great setup in the theater, but the signal kept cutting out. This ruined a few key moments of the game. But the boat did everything they could, and I was glad to be on the boat for Superbowl Sunday as opposed to watching from home. Also, the feed was from ESPN and we didn't see any superbowl commercials. Instead we got lame ESPN international commercials. Meals: The food was sometimes ruined by the service. When service was good, the food didn't sit too long under heat lamps. When service was bad, the food sat. Freestyle cruising means entering the dining whenever you please. However, the meal service was not freestyle. You took your food as they brought it out, and it always took way too long between courses to get the next course of food. At no time would they bring anything out if someone might have still been eating their salad. So, everyone would wait. Service in premium upcharge restaurants was very personal and excellent, and truly freestyle. The buffet's quality of food was much lower than the dining rooms. Ports: Never really enough time... Costa Maya was great and we booked an excursion through costamayaexcursions.com. But this was probably the most inexpensive port. Mauhauhal (the little town) was nice and cheap to get to and back. Guatemala was raining and so was Belize: this is why I say BOOK YOUR OWN EXCURSION. NEVER go with the ship. You could always do the exact same thing as the ship for less money, and if it was bad weather, then you didn't have to go. We wasted $110 on the Bacab Jungle tour because it was bad weather, and completely AWFUL. But when we brought rain gear and took a jungle waterfall tour in Guatemala, it was awesome. Because one was appropriate in rainy weather and one activity was completely ruined by rain, it's best to wait on the weather that day to book an excursion. Gambling: The ship's casino has a much worse casino edge than any land casino. The rake at the poker table (which was always $1/$2 no limit) is much higher, the craps table has some worse payouts. The blackjack is continuous shuffle, and they have ultimate texas holdem (the casino game). Overall, I came out ahead gambling, but I wouldn't say the gambling experience was that great. Real casinos offer better minimums, better poker rooms, better slots, and better table games. However, it was still enough fun. But they didn't go all night at all. When I couldn't sleep because of the uncomfortable bed and the large sea movement, they closed a table on me. Disembarkation: The worst process of the whole cruise. They are VERY strict at the port that if you don't have 9:30 tag, then you don't get to get your luggage (even though it's RIGHT THERE). In order to make the process more "orderly" or "easier" for everyone, they actually are just complete jerks. But customs was a breeze, and once we were allowed to get our luggage we were not delayed after that point. My advice: either do express and carry off your luggage, or sleep in and just get off the boat at 10:30. Don't try to get off before your luggage tag time. You'll be told you can't get your luggage. Personally I'd rather it be a free for all. Isn't that what "freestyle" is about? So, overall, this was a nice experience. But there were a lot of little problems: (speed of service at meals/ superbowl cut out / casino's edge very high / hot tubs not hot enough at times / disembarkation / Cozumel port day cut short. Also, the advertising and marketing is false. Despite the name, freestyle, you actually don't have much freedom when you do anything on the ship. If you arrive late to an activity, forget it. You can't join it in progress. You can't ask them to bring out your steak with your salad. Rarely would they bring coffee at the beginning of the meal. You can't cancel an excursion if it's raining. Also, it's mandatory / "automatic" tipping. So, just be prepared that it's going to be $200 in tips for 7 days. I can't compare this to other cruises, but I would not pay this much for this same cruise again. I would pay more for a nicer ship, and I would pay less to go on Carnival. I'm not sure why I had to pay so much for our 2 year old son to go with us. The child care was a charged service most of the time except during the early evening. And because they had planned activities, I wouldn't call the babysitting "freestyle". Eventually they relented and let our son just watch a movie. They only had about seven 2 to 5 year olds on board. And very few kids in general. Less than 2.5% (less than 50) of the cruisers were children. The teen club was so empty, I (a 32 yr old) went up and played Wii a couple of time all by myself. It's not that this was bad ship. I actually really enjoyed myself. But almost at every turn you were running into something that was a small problem. You could work around it, and it's probably something you'd always run into, but NCL wasn't the cheapest one out there. They shouldn't be this problematic. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
I originally booked this cruise back around September knowing I would be unable to make it through a Northeast winter without jetting off to a warmer climate for a week. I booked directly via the cruiseline. I also started looking for ... Read More
I originally booked this cruise back around September knowing I would be unable to make it through a Northeast winter without jetting off to a warmer climate for a week. I booked directly via the cruiseline. I also started looking for airfares which were through the roof expensive being President's week and the week many schools have winter break. I chose this weekend because I would be traveling with a child on such a break. The fare was due in full on December 1 and at that time, I started hearing that fares may have dropped. To my delight, I found out that the fare for my cabin had dropped about $800. I was even able to get a better deal by booking through one of the discount online cruise sites. Always check before making your final payment if fares have dropped. And don't buy your airfare too soon either. I booked a horrible flight itinerary around October and then later had to pay $150 change fees per ticket to get something more reasonable. In the first round of air itineraries, I was going to FLL via Houston from Laguardia. Shoot me now!! I wound up leaving Newark and going via Cleveland . .far FAR BETTER!! Hotels for the night before were also expensive . .even the dives, but I wound up using some American Express miles and staying at the Hilton in Fort Lauderdale. I got a quick and free pick up from them on Friday night. The room was very nice and comfortable for three people and they had a shuttle to the cruiseport in the morning that was $9 per person and very easy. Embarkation on the Ruby Princess could not have been smoother and quicker. The ship is very beautiful and impressive. We had a BD balcony cabin on the Aloha deck. It was a room equipped with a bunk for a third person. .we were two ladies and a 7 year old. I had requested for comfort and style that we have the beds configured as a king instead of two twins. When I checked in,it was as two twins and I assumed it was because the steward saw it was all women in the room, but then found out that for some safety reasons a king bed was not allowed in a room with a bunk. This was my first annoyance as I hate sleeping in a twin bed. I tried to work out some alternate plan whereby we could even put the bunk mattress on the floor and slip it under the big bed during the day,but that would not fit. The steward went ahead and gave us our king bed even though apparently against the rules. I definitely prefer a pull out couch for the third, but these rooms did not have them. The rooms were smaller than the similar category I was used to on Celebrity. The bathrooms was smaller too and so was the teeny tiny shower stall. There was a relatively spacious area to hang clothes which was convenient. The room steward did a very nice job and tried his best to keep us happy. I much appreciated him letting us do the beds the way we wanted. The food in the Horizon was fair at best and sadly the food in the DaVinci for anytime dining was not much better. I have sailed quite a few times on Celebrity from about 2000-2005 and their food was far better. I felt uninspired most nights to even make my selections where I always felt on Celebrity that I had a hard time picking because so many items sounded delicious. I loved the Anytime dining, however,which was the reason I went ahead with Princess this time over Celebrity. I ate 5 nights in the DaVinci at differing times. One night we arrived around 6:30 PM and were able to get a private table for three. All other nights we arrived around 7-7:30PM and were immediately seated, but needed to share. That was totally fine and we met some nice people. Seemed that those that arrived around that time and wanted private tables had to wait about 20 minutes. The other two nights, the formal nights, we ate at the specialty restaurants. You only have to dress "Smart Casual" in the specialty dining rooms. Sabatini's was excellent ($20 per person cover). It was the best food we had on the Ruby all week. It was set up as a tasting menu. You only selected your main entree,soup and dessert. You tasted everything else, and it was terrific. We also did the Crowne Grill ($25 per person cover) which was nice enough, but the steaks are definitely not of the quality that you would get in a fine steak house nor grilled to the nice crust of those restaurants, but it was good enough and definitely better than what was in the DaVinci. I got the molten chocolate cake for dessert which was great. Skip paying the extra $9 for the Brazilian lobster tail. The pizza was excellent!! They had perfectly cooked over medium fried eggs every morning in the Horizon and they properly poached eggs. .not overcooked which I appreciated. The best things I had in the Davinci were the Prime Rib, a seafood antipasto, Veal Chops, Lamb Shank and Rack of Lamb . .all were good, not excellent. My friend ordered the Seabass one night . .not good at all, overcooked and tasteless. and we had Strip Steak the last night . .not good. I wished I had ordered the meatloaf. The Caesar salad is like caesar dressing out of a bottle. The Fettucini Alfredo is offered every night and was good. The desserts were mostly pretty good. For another good point, Movies Under the Stars is a lot of fun. We saw Mama Mia one night at 7PM. It was like going to a drive in movie, but better. You got your own lounger. They came around with popcorn, candy snacks to buy and blankets. The movie was great. I heard you had to arrive early to get loungers for the more popular showing of the same movie at 10:30PM. What we did was see the movie at 7PM and had reservations at Sabatini's at 9PM . . .perfect. And it's not like you would starve on a cruise ship. They also ran movies on that screen during the day which I did not find nearly as enjoyable. The loungers are much more comfortable in that pool area, but if you were not watching or interested in the movie, it was a cacophonous racket. And depending on where you sat, you could hear the movie AND the music in the adjoining pool area or the cruise director running the pool games in same pool area . .noisy!!! The ship was too crowded. This made the "at sea" days unpleasant for anyone who loves the water . . .picture loungers and random bodies strewn across the upper decks like at Coney Island on 4th of July. The chair hogging was atrocious. Princess needs to do something. I sat in one section with about 16 loungers from 9AM to 12 Noon, and only two other loungers even had butts in them . . .the rest had towels or books or hats. Their towel policy thoroughly annoyed me. Instead of leaving fresh towels by the pool, your room steward brought them to your room. So if you ran out of dry towels by the pool, you were out of luck unless you went back to your room and paged your steward to bring you more immediately . .good luck with that!!! This towel policy not only left you wrapped in damp towels all day and then turning your balcony into shantytown overnight as you tried to dry your precious towels, but led to even a bigger chair hogging problem when some believed that leaving their towel on the chair was marking their territory. You did not have to "turn your towels in" nor did you have to keep track of your towels on the boat, but getting fresh dry ones only happened in the room, as far as I knew. The kids program was great. The seven year old with us really enjoyed herself. You can even get babysitting for only $5 an hour from 10PM-1AM. You can't beat that deal with a stick!! I heard that the Sanctuary was a great deal and made the "at sea" days pleasant. If I ever do a Princess cruise again and they have a Sanctuary, I am DEFINITELY doing it. It seemed if you got in on this, you paid for the mainstream cruise and for a small upcharge got the upscale pampering and privacy of a much pricier line, avoided the tacky "Coney Island" experience. Disembarkation at the end of the cruise was slow and crowded as was disembarkation at Princess Cays. Next winter, I think I am doing a land vacation. I really love cruising and being on the water and sitting on my balcony and dreaming, but all the "herding" got to me a little this time. The weather, the beautiful scenery and ship and the beautiful islands all got an A+ for the week, but overall, I have to give the Ruby about a C+ for everything all in. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Finding the Exit ramp to get to the New Orleans Port was not an easy task. Having never been to New Orleans, The directions I had got shady around I-10 and state route 90 so we found ourselves roaming some of downtown New Orleans til a ... Read More
Finding the Exit ramp to get to the New Orleans Port was not an easy task. Having never been to New Orleans, The directions I had got shady around I-10 and state route 90 so we found ourselves roaming some of downtown New Orleans til a stranger and signs helped get us there. Embarkation went real smooth with very little wait time. We Arrived about half way into Embarkation. We parked in the parking garage there in the Cruise Pier for New Orleans price was $14.00 per day and was paid in advance. We tipped the bag handler well right inside the parking garage and it paid off, as our bags reached our room before we did(a carnival first for us). It took us about 20 minutes to get our sail and sign cards and get on board the ship. We did not have passports and went with the Birth certificates and Drivers licenses. Had no trouble. This was our first cruise on a ship less then 100,000 tons so we noticed immediately the smaller size of the show theater and main entrance atrium. The layout of the ship is pretty much the same as the other carnival ships. We booked at the last minute and took the last room available which was located on the lowest deck for cabins Rivera. THe Room was about two rooms from the Front elevators but we had no trouble with the location as we heard very little in the way of traffic from or two the elevators. Our Room had double uppers. Yet due to where they were located we only used one due to fear of people smacking their heads if they sat up in the night on the queens sized bed. Room: Pros- Close to the Front of the Ship we enjoyed easy access to the Disembarking area of the ship, The Theater and Information Desk. The room had two uppers and could have held 4 as long as the people on the bed were not afraid of tight spaces. Cons- The room needs some repairs from the moment we got in it. The upper I used had a railing that would not lock in place and there was a light that had no end cap. If my 3 year old found something long enough it could have been dangerous. The bathroom was ok but the shower had a water temperature issue. Could not keep the temp of the water steady as it went from 40 to 100 degrees in a slow constant swing. This made taking showers miserable. Also the room was far from the restaurants/buffets and camp carnival. Service/workers- Now the service was a bright spot as we found many of the crew going out of their way to make our trip enjoyable. We even remembered the names of a few people not taking care of our own room as they would joke with us as we walked down the hall. Food- Food service was a weak spot. It was hard at peak times to find a table and we had to clear off some dirty dishes at times so that we had a place to eat. It was hard to figure out which part of the buffet style dining was open at any given time and often the food was dry, or had very little flavor. The drinks were good. The one night in the Main dining turned us away for the rest of the trip as we only had two people come by and get our food going. The time between the courses was long and we could not find anybody when we needed them. Ship- We found the ship very clean for the most part but we could not enjoy the pools much as the temperature was always in the low 60's and the water was on the cold side. Nightlife- Now at night the ship excelled to most other cruises we had been on. The DJ playing in the Electricity Disco club had good modern music blasting and kept plenty of people on the dance floor all night and some of the deck parties on the Fantasy excelled to some of the other cruise lines. Camp Carnival- Was a life saver, Our daughter could not get enough and going to Camp Carnival was the highlight of her day as she always had fun and the counselors always were keeping them entertained. This allowed us to go to a few adult shows and enjoy some time in the casino. Overall THe ship did well but due to the time of the year in which we were cruising and a few minor issues we did not feel it was worth sailing on it versus a larger ship. The Waterworks did not impress me and its location took you away from everything else going on. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This was our second, and last, cruise on Disney. I'm tired of Disney's "do it our way or no way" attitude. It started with reservations. They would not honor my request to be located on the same deck as my ... Read More
This was our second, and last, cruise on Disney. I'm tired of Disney's "do it our way or no way" attitude. It started with reservations. They would not honor my request to be located on the same deck as my daughter's family. We were located five decks away on the opposite side of the ship. Reservations didn't even attempt to lie to me and say, "we'll try, but can't guarantee it." Poor customer relations training there. Disney cruises are generally overpriced and their level of service does not justify paying a premium price. In service and accommodations, Disney cruise lines does not stand out from other cruise lines, yet they have an unjustified attitude of superiority. We can't complain about our personal staff on board however. Our room stewart was very attentive, fast and efficient. Our wait staff was great and very attentive. The itinerary for the three-day cruise should be redone. Nassau is not much fun especially with five cruise ships in port. Castaway Cay is excellent, but always crowded at the family beach. Get there early to stake out your spot. The food was okay, but not exceptional. The kids meals were very poor quality. Bar service was very good. The drink waiters were excellent and had a great attitude. Entertainment was lacking for adults. If you don't have kids, don't go to the shows. However, the Disney movies offered in their theaters were new and appealed to adults and kids. I must be invisible because I was never asked by management, i.e. higher wait staff, guest services, anyone in uniform, if I was happy with my food, the bar service, my stateroom or anything else. I was not a valued guest. The only chance I had to offer my feedback was a written survey. You would think someone would attempt to communicate with you to seek your opinion. It's just good customer relations. The Wonder has a tired look. The staterooms are well worn by now and have some maintenance problems. Our bathroom door would not latch so you had to use the lock each time to keep it closed. Embarkation was very fast and efficient . The debarkation, including customs, was the best I have ever experienced. Disney does excel in this area. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This was our 15th cruise - the second on Princess - the first being a Panama Cruise on the Coral which ended a few days before we embarked on the Emerald. EMBARKATION After spending 5 days in Disney World following the Panama cruise, ... Read More
This was our 15th cruise - the second on Princess - the first being a Panama Cruise on the Coral which ended a few days before we embarked on the Emerald. EMBARKATION After spending 5 days in Disney World following the Panama cruise, we flew back to Fort Lauderdale with a taxi from the airport to the pier. This embarkation was quite a contrast to that experienced on the Coral in Los Angeles. It really was quite a shemozzle. The ship was docked at Pier 29 which quite obviously was too small to handle the number of passengers disembarking from the previous Emerald cruise and those who were endeavoring to go on board for this cruise. SHIP We found this ship just too big for us. Even after 10 days on board we still managed to have difficulties in finding the various public bars, etc. With over 3,000 passengers, I thought that the shops on board were very poor with a limited stock of items. PORTS OF CALL Antigua - Sadly, we missed this port. We were advised that the winds were to strong to safely dock. This was a disappointment and we wondered whether a smaller ship might have made it into the port. Dominica - Booked with Beno over the internet. Travelled to Emerald Pool and waterfalls. This gave us a good idea of the island. Having had this extensive tour of the island, we are unlikely to include this port in any future Caribbean cruise itinerary. Barbados - Nothing planned prior to arrival. Picked up a tour at the port with Carson St Claire. Pretty good tour. Would consider returning to this island. St Kitts - Booked with Thenford Grey over the internet. This was our best tour of the trip. It lasted the whole day and was only $40 pp. He was very informative about the island's history and extremely obliging. A number of fellow passengers left the bus in town so missed out on the trip to the other side of the island which was very different and where we all enjoyed swimming at Turtle Beach. A nice touch from Mr Grey was his Valentine's Day wishes naming all his customers written on the back window of his bus. Would consider coming back here. St Thomas - Nothing planned prior to arrival. Picked up a tour at the port with Sean (007). Toured the island and was able to take some beautiful photos. Would consider coming back here. Princess Cays - Lovely to look at but too crowded. Just seeing all those deck chairs along the beach was too much for us. Only spent a short time here, returning to the ship where we had a very restful afternoon around the pool. Fort Lauderdale - Much better with disembarkation than embarkation probably due to the pier location. We took a taxi direct to the airport. ENTERTAINMENT We enjoyed the showtime performances but hypnotist and comedian are not our cup of tea. Did enjoy the Movies under the Stars a couple of times. DINING We were glad that we had fixed dining in the evening. After a couple of days doing battle at the buffet at lunchtime we chose to eat all our meals in the dining room. RED ALERT We received advice that ship was on Red Alert due to outbreak of gastric virus for the last two days. Our dining partners advised that they were aware that there were 70 people on their level who had been quarantined. Whereas on previous cruises with HAL passengers were required to use the preventative gel prior to entering the dining room, this was not done on either of the Princess cruises. CONCLUSION This was the biggest ship on which we have sailed. Will stick with the smaller ones such as the Coral and HAL. Being Aussies - we really dislike the daily gratuity charges imposed on our account. We believe that such gratuities should be earned and rewarded accordingly. I truly believe that passengers should be given the flexibility of rewarding cabin stewards and dining room waiters personally for services rendered rather than have this gratuity charge imposed upon them. Can someone explain why there is a 15% service charge imposed on each and every drink yet there is this additional blanket daily gratuity charge ? Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This cruise was taken during the Northeast school vacation 2/15-2/22/09. We had our two children ages 13/11 with us and had cabins directly across from each other on deck 9. We traveled from MA on our own airline arrangements. We ... Read More
This cruise was taken during the Northeast school vacation 2/15-2/22/09. We had our two children ages 13/11 with us and had cabins directly across from each other on deck 9. We traveled from MA on our own airline arrangements. We took this same cruise 4-5 years ago so I could really compare and contrast. Arrival/embarkation day was uneventful for the most part. Arrived at the pier around 230 to find a very long line to check bags in. Originally got in the line but then figured that there must be a quicker way for Platinum members to get on the ship. Went to ask someone and they directed me to a desk where indeed they took our luggage and we got to go right into the terminal and then right to the counter to check in. Wish I had known about the "special desk" ahead of time. While in line I noticed an extreme over abundance of "native" islanders. I couldn't believe it. Everywhere I looked there were people speaking Spanish and there was definitely a paucity of Yankee/Red Sox hats that normally fill the air during this time frame. I knew this ship was not full as I almost changed cabin arrangements two weeks before sailing. I am sure they gave cabins away to the native folks for a mere pittance. This did not set well with me. I heard way too much Spanish during the week. The worst was when they had a sale on watches in the gift ship towards the end of the cruise. My daughter saw one she wanted and when we went to wait for the sale to start the room was full of these people. They ended up trampling my daughter out of the way and she ended up with nothing. I couldn't believe it. Cabins were nice, clean, and comfortable. Our balcony cabin had a creek the first few nights that kept us awake a little but then it went away. We had a very, very windy week at sea so that may have had something to do with it. Our stateroom attendant was Philip from Grenadines/St. Vincent. He was great. Interacted with the kids and was very attentive to our needs as well as others around us. I will talk about dining next......we were scheduled for late seating 830 on this cruise. We always have felt that this is too late for the kids but the early seating is too early for us. Always wanted other options for dining in between. Well, as I was walking back from the promenade area around 7pm I noticed a sign by the entrance to the dining room on the 5th floor. "MY TIME DINING", the sign said. I went over to investigate. So here is the skinny.....I had not heard of this on this cruise line before. There was no prior notice or advertising of this on this particular cruise. They told me that if I signed up for this that we could eat basically when we wanted but would be removed from our already assigned table and transferred to this area for dinner for the week. Each night you make reservations for the next night or make reservations for the week. This sounded perfect and too good to be true. So I asked for dinner at 730-800 for the first night and for 730 the rest of the week. They told me that they were sold out and only had a minimal allotment for seating times as they were doing this on a trial basis to assess the need for future cruises. They offered me either 630 or 815 which really didn't help my situation. I ended up complaining a bit about being Platinum member and that if they offered this to anyone first it should be those with high standing in Crown and Anchor. They eventually made room for us and we dined this way for the week and it worked out great for us. I was just upset that they didn't mention this ahead of time to us and that I had to happen across it while walking around. They could have at least handed out something at check in. They said that this won't be an announced fixture on this ship until April, so if you are interested in this type of dining and are cruising before April than go to the 5th floor ASAP after getting on the ship to inquire about it. We ate at Portofino's one night and had an excellent meal as usual there. I found the food on the ship mediocre at best. I have watched the quality of food go way down over the years on RCL and didn't have high expectations for this cruise and so was not upset over it. I got exactly what I expected. The cutbacks are readily apparent everywhere. In the Windjammer for breakfast you can only get OJ/Apple juice now. No Grapefruit, Cranberry, or Tomato Juice. You have to pay extra for freshly squeezed OJ. Some things were good others were terrible....but know that if you are expecting gourmet quality food its not happening on this cruise line. Portions where small. One night I ordered a type of steak and got only two strips. It literally took less than 3 minutes to eat my dinner. I did find the wine very reasonably priced. I tend to drink high end wine and did have a bottle of Duckhorn Merlot and a bottle of Caymus Cabernet. The prices were almost the same for these high-end wines as buying them in a liquor store in our area. A little markup but no where near the markup on their cheaper variety wines. So if you like wine...splurge for the better stuff...you will get more bang for you buck. Entertainment-usually I don't go to too many shows but my daughter loves them now so went to most of them. Missed the first night show but the second night they had Jay Johnson the ventriloquist from the TV show SOAP. He was great. Really enjoyed him. Next night was the Ice Show which was nice. They gave out more seats than they have room for thus people end up standing in the aisles and block your view if you don't go early to get a primo seat...so for this event..get there early. The singer/dancers did a good job during their shows. The other headline acts were mediocre....someone called "El Gaucho" was terrible....then they had a comedic juggler the last night that we didn't go to. The piano bar guy had a terrible voice but at least could play the piano. Other than that didn't check out too many evening bars as we spent time with the kids. Ports Day 1 at sea......usual crunch for lounge chairs...but knew to get mine early....saw a lot of aggravated people pissed they didn't get seats. Day 2 ArubaPouring Rain....couldn't believe it....ended up taking a taxi tour for a few hours that the kids liked. Put them back on the ship and my wife and I went to Iguana Joes and got toasted....great Margaritas!! Whole day was rain and clouds. Day 3 Curacaowent to KonTiki which I read about on this website...was excited for it. Well, it was nice but way too crowded. The entire ship seemed to be there. If you decide to eat at the restaurant there know that it took an hour to get our food and that seemed to be the norm that day as all the New Yorkers were just about rioting over it at the various table around us. Day4 at Sea....very, very windy...sunny but 30MPH winds.....had lounge chairs on top deck and couldn't wear a hat..... Day5 St. Maarten....Orient Beach as usual...never disappointed there. Gorgeous and always a great day! Day6 St. Thomastired of going to Megans bay so I had arranged a chartered sailboat ahead of time with Bobby from Rumbaba....it was fantastic.....highly recommend doing this. We all had a blast and he and Julie took great care of us and made our day a very special one. Food was the best we had all week...bar none! Day 7..off the ship early and got day room at the Ritz in San Juan as our flight didn't leave until 7pm....phenomenal hotel....beautiful day.....won $400 playing blackjack in their casino so it paid for our entire day/food there....great way to end the week! So...we did have a pretty good week but felt that RCL has had way too many cutbacks for our liking. I will say that I found all the staff to be the most friendly bunch we have ever seen. We got nothing but smiles and every time I walked past someone on this ship they acknowledged me. I was very impressed. Despite this wee probably won't be cruising again for a while with RCL. This cruise did put us up over to the Diamond Crown and Anchor level. We found the extras that they offer the Platinum/Diamond members were even cheap. The coupons used to give you a lot of free things..now its more of a buy one...get one kind of flavor....didn't make us feel very special about being repeat customers this time around. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Eastern Caribbean, 7-night - February 14, 2009 The Magic is a wonderful ship and, although I'm not a big fan of Mickey and the gang, we had a great Eastern Caribbean cruise experience. In fact, that could be the name for ... Read More
Eastern Caribbean, 7-night - February 14, 2009 The Magic is a wonderful ship and, although I'm not a big fan of Mickey and the gang, we had a great Eastern Caribbean cruise experience. In fact, that could be the name for DSL's next new ship - the Disney Experience. At the end of this cruise we were sad that it was finished - I guess that is how you should feel after a good cruise. I would rate the Magic five stars, but I have to deduct one star for the claustrophobic, mediocre buffet, a lacking room-service menu and an uninviting-box of a family-swimming-pool. I deducted another star for because Disney should know better. My wife and 11-year-old son love the cruising experience. I'd rather travel independently, but I do enjoy being on a ship at sea. The three of us enjoyed our first family cruise together two years ago on Holland America's new Noordam to Alaska. Why did we decide to take a cruise? School was out for winter-break, cruise lines were discounting their prices, the Caribbean's warm weather was a big draw and we were curious about the Disney ships. Also, my plan to go skiing was voted down 4 to 1 (my wife gets three votes). We would not have gone on a cruise if oil were still at $145 per barrel. If fact, I don't that there would be a cruise industry if oil remained that expensive. What did we like about the cruise? No smoking! No smoke in the bars or restaurants! I saw a few people, infrequently smoking on the starboard side of open decks 9 & 10. Free parking (lit, but not gated) for the duration of your cruise at the Radisson in Cape Canaveral - if you spend the night prior to your departure there. The Radisson also has a free shuttle to the cruise terminal (1.5 miles), but be sure to reserve a seat. You and your luggage are dropped off curbside, Disney porters take the luggage and it shows up outside your stateroom later that afternoon. All three Port Canaveral cruise terminals are impressive. The Disney terminal's floor is a large map of the Caribbean. I've read in other trip reports that you can bring your own wine & beer onto Disney ships, just no ice. Our category 6 stateroom had an empty mini-fridge that we put some small bottles of wine in for use in our room. Order a bottle of wine at dinner and what you don't drink will be corked and show up at the next night's dinner - pretty cool. The ship is in great shape for being ten years old and the crew genuinely seems to enjoy their jobs. The shows in the Walt Disney Theatre are great. Be sure to walk down the red carpet at the Golden Mickey's and have your kids interviewed just like at the Oscars - they'll feel famous. Arrive 15 minutes early for the shows and sit in the first six rows for a surprise. Plus you'll get to see the facial expressions on the actors - something you'd pay dearly for on Broadway. The passengers on the Magic are generally friendly - lots of families with kids. One quirk though: There are lots of repeat Disney cruisers among the passengers (several had over a dozen Disney cruises). Repeat cruisers are given a Castaway Club lanyard to hold their Key To The World card (your room key) around their necks. These lanyards are worn with pride throughout the cruise. Repeat cruisers also get a picture of Goofy on their KTTW card; whereas, I only had Donald Duck. Some passengers wear a lanyard that displays an even superior status - Disney Vacation Club (involves up front payment & annual dues that lock you into a life-time of discounted Disney vacations). WARNING - A critical comment about the cruise or Disney in general will end your conversation with these two types of passengers and evoke scorn - these folks possess a feeling of ownership in the whole Disney concept. We didn't bother with the many character appearances; which, I understand can bring out a different side in some adults. Personally, I'd rather be sailing with Sponge Bob than Mickey. The kids clubs are great. We only saw our 11-year-old at dinner and when he went to bed at 1:30pm. He played several games in a large fenced in basketball court on the bow of the top open deck (can get windy). We enjoyed rotating our evening meals through the Magic's three restaurants. The quality of the food and service was excellent - I was expecting just good wedding-reception-food. Our assigned dinner companions were from a different state and were great: We each have an 11-year old child, both the mothers work in the same large organization, both children were born in the same hospital three weeks apart in a third state, in a fourth state, unknown to us, we lived within five blocks of each other and the kids attended the same elementary school when they were five. My son remarked that they were a mirror image of us. Coincidence? Maybe, but this pairing could be put together with the data provided when signing-up for the cruise (our dinner companions were on their 10th Disney cruise). Another passenger, who's family occupied one entire table, told me that the passengers at an adjacent table were from their same west coast hometown - made us both start thinking the details Disney looks at. It was fun having dinner with strangers that had so much in common with us. I didn't want to bother with buying or renting a tux for the formal night, so I cheated and bought a three-dollar, black bowtie to wear with my white shirt and dark blue suit - looked like a tux (at night at least). Brunch at the adult-only, fee-restaurant, Palo, is enjoyable and is great on a bright sea-day. Although the entries in the rotational restaurants were better. One frequent cruiser told me that the wine tasting (fee) held in the piano bar was the best she had ever attended at sea. No charge for the cooking demos - you get a sample of the dish and a half-glass of wine as well as a lesson in how to evaluate a wine. There is a no charge for self-serve soda, iced & hot tea, coffee and milk station on the top deck. The ships tap water tastes fine although you can buy bottled water. Goofy's Snack Bar serves healthy sandwiches (great bread) and fruit & salads and has a self-serve, soft ice cream machine. Pluto's Dog House served hotdogs and hamburgers. The chicken fingers at Pluto's are good. Get a ciabatta roll from Goofy's and a brat from Pluto's. Quiet Cove Cafe has nice carrot cake and chocolate strawberries in the afternoon (free). My son liked Pinocco's Pizza if it just came out of the oven. All these snack-bars are on the top (pool) deck. The Goofy (family) pool can be covered to create additional deck space for the fun open-deck parties: Sail Away & Pirates of the Caribbean (Mickey on a zip-line, fireworks, turkey-leg buffet & large desert table - all cleaned up by 11:30pm. The late-night desert extravaganza is held in Lumiere's a couple of nights later). A nice Disney touch is the chairs on the room-balcony. They have high backs that reclined to various heights. These chairs really made the balcony more enjoyable. A couple of nights, after placing the small tube pillow from our couch in the small of my back and a pillow under my head, I fell asleep out on our balcony in the warm sea breeze. We loved our stateroom, but my suitcase would not slide under the bed for storage (standard size Samsonite). We weren't very impressed with the first two ports-of-call: St. Maarten and St. Thomas. In St. Maarten we walked as far as we could down the beach (past the crowds) and shared the beach with a few other quiet hotel guests. In St. Thomas, I began to walk downtown but the path was next to a road that had bumper-to-bumper traffic - too much car exhaust to walk in, I went back to the ship. The Marriott sits on a head, just a short distance (the opposite direction from town) from the cruise ship dock and has a beach on each side. You may have to walk through the resort to get to the beach but Fodor's says that's OK for any St. Thomas beach. Several people took towels off the ship with them and Disney puts a towel collection bin on the dock for when you return. Castaway Quay (Gorda Key Bahamas) is Disney's private island and is the best port-of-call on the cruise. The island has a dock so you don't have to mess with tenders. It was so windy, while trying to dock; the Magic was blown past the dock on the first attempt. Barely made it in on the second try. We walked to the end of the beach farthest from the ship and there were several unoccupied lounges. The hammocks became available later that afternoon and rental inner-tubes were left on the beach then also. It was also our coolest day of the cruise at 68F, but I would not have wanted it any hotter - it was sunny. Many people thought the water was frigid, but there was no shock when I got in the water and it was comfortable snorkeling. We brought our own snorkel gear (rental gear available) and Disney will give you a yellow vest that inflates to keep you afloat (really helpful). There are several Disney artifacts under the water that are marked on the surface with white or red floats. The farther you snorkel out the more interesting these underwater objects become. There are several lifeguards. Since the water was too cold for most, only a few brave souls ventured out to snorkel so the water was clear and there were hundreds of several types of fish. I was told that the water can get cloudy when lots of people are snorkeling (the sand is a dusty dredged material). The beach was nearly full with the 2500 Magic passengers, I don't know where they will put all the people if the new Disney ships are going to be any larger. Cookies BBQ serves lunch on the island - long lines and restricted hours - the ribs are good (but could use some additional sauce). Free soda & milk and they ran out of self-serve, frozen yogurt. I walked over to the adult only beach (half-mile) and took the shuttle back. There is a bar there and I don't know if they serve lunch. It was very windy on that side of the island so the beach was empty. Many people rent bikes and continue out to the observation tower, but deck 10 on the Magic is about three times taller than the tower. What we did not like about the Magic: Topsider Buffet: What a disappointment. The ceiling is low giving the room an uncomfortable, confined feel - I got the feeling that the buffet was an afterthought in the ship's design and just stuck in the last remaining space. The food (well, really just fuel) was uninspired at best - on par with college dormitory food. The hours of the buffet are also restricted - so unless you maintain something similar to your daily routine from home, you will miss a meal there. I tried to find something to like about the buffet, but I came to dread the place. The alternatives for breakfast are the sit-down restaurant, Luminarie's, Goofy's Snack Bar or the Quiet Cove coffee bar (fee cappuccino but their pastry rack is free). Goofy Pool: This is the Magic's family swimming pool. It is a box placed in the middle of the deck. The pool is covered with a floor when the fun on-deck parties are held. There is a large TV placed above the pool where movies are played throughout the day and night and any party is also filmed and broadcast live so that everyone attending can see what is happening (the parties get very crowded). I liked the large TV. My son loves pools and he never swam in it at all. A friend, he made in the kid's club, only went in it once. I didn't go in it at all. At least all the pools are filled with heated fresh water. As far as my son is concerned, the pool and the buffet are two of the most important items on a cruise. There are examples of great buffets and great swimming pools in the cruise industry. Disney wouldn't have to look too far, the Magic's own Quiet Cove pool for adults is great. From my limited cruise experience, the buffet on Holland's Noordam is bright, inviting, the food is very good and it was open from 6am to 2am (at least it was two years ago). The Noordam's main pool, much like the Magic's adult pool, says, "come swim in me", and it's also a convertible - a glass roof can close over the pool when there is bad weather (Something you may want to think about if you are considering a Baltic Sea cruise on the Magic in 2010). The Mickey pool is the toddler pool and it looks like a lot of fun: it is shaped like Mickey's head and has a slide and a wading pool with little fountains, but it is positioned just behind the ship's working smoke stack and 75% of the time the smoke from this stack travels directly over this pool - over the rear or aft of the ship. While you can see that most of this smoke remains airborne over the rear of the ship before it falls to the sea (and it can fall quickly - just take note of trail of smoke your ship leaves on your next cruise), I'm sure some particulate falls on the Mickey pool - I could smell it. I doubt any of the parents of the toddlers in the Mickey pool would let their kids play next to a factory's belching smokestack at home. I always try to remain up-wind of the stack emissions when I'm on a cruise ship otherwise I start to cough. I would never book an aft-balcony room. Air emissions are a problem on all cruise ships. The Noordam's adult pool was located aft and, although it was a beautiful pool area, I avoided it unless the wind was coming across the ship and I could see that the smoke was not traveling directly over my head while I was there. Another problem with stack smoke occurs while we were docked in a port-of-call with other cruise ships. In St. Thomas, we were docked in line with and downwind of two other cruise ships - very smoky. The most polluted air in major port cities is right around the docks where the freighters and cruise ships always keep their engines running - this is a similar situation. You'll have a great cruise on the Magic. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
We never booked the cruise with the intention of having a ship full of children's activities. In fact we didn't use the HAL Club Program at all. We are typically a busy family and booked this boat (as opposed to RCL as an ... Read More
We never booked the cruise with the intention of having a ship full of children's activities. In fact we didn't use the HAL Club Program at all. We are typically a busy family and booked this boat (as opposed to RCL as an example) to have some quality family time together, 'down' time, have fun at the pools and enjoy the port stops and exploring. I'll start with the 'likes'.... The kids loved to explore the ship and some of the areas were beautifully decorated. We particularly liked the Crow's Nest and the midship Lido pool area (with the retractable roof, comfy chairs and cabanas). It was a treat to use the pools on this ship because you were not packed in like sardines (as you can imagine on the Disney ship!). With the exception of a few adults who would dip in the pools from time to time, only the children (67 total on board) tended to use them, so it was a tremendous bonus for the kids. The rooms were also very nice although smaller than Disney. I actually thought there was too much space on the balcony and they probably could have made the rooms a little bigger if they had skimped a bit on the balcony. Storage space, as others have commented, was great. Unfortunately, we had a terrible sewage smell from our toilet at the beginning of the cruise. Our cabin steward acted immediately to rectify the situation but there was always a 'trace' of it throughout the rest of the voyage. We thoroughly enjoyed the food (dining room, lido buffet and the Tamarind). We never got a chance to try the Pinnacle Grill or Canelleto. We enjoyed all of the port stops with the exception of Grand Turk (personally I think HAL should remove this from the itinerary and choose a different place). The place is under construction/development and aside from the pool, small beach and the few shops - there is nothing to it. Shows, spa, shopping on the boat and the photographers - no complaints. The bars and lounges looked very nice and cozy. We walked throughout them frequently but never actually spent time in them. Dislikes...... Service requires a major overhaul on this boat. The staff consistently looked miserable and 'forced' smiles were clearly evident. On 2 separate occasions - we had requested the possibility of having a 'window' seat in the dining room and both times our request was not made. They often tried to seat us in some closed off quarter where they stacked dirty dishes. Now I can understand this if we had 2 crazed children or young babies who were apt to cry but our children were always fully behaved and quiet. It almost seemed that the 'older' guests on this boat came first. Perhaps, this may be the case given that they do constitute the majority (in numbers), however, all guests should be treated equally in my opinion. Never once (throughout the entire trip) did I have poolside service offered (re: the option of ordering a glass of wine or a soda). Although these workers were in abundance (strolling around aimlessly holding their trays) - I always had to go to the bar and retrieve everything myself. A few times my husband observed crew members yelling at other crew members - not very professional. On the last day of the cruise, the service suddenly seemed to improve but then the staff were continually making comments to us about ensuring that we rate them 'high' on the survey so they could win or receive some type of reward. Overall - service was very poor and not authentic. So different from Disney where this was top-notch. Another interesting observation...we were told on day 1 that all of the cabanas were booked. I don't doubt that but it is frustrating to watch how more than 50% stayed empty throughout the duration of the trip and could not be used. What a waste. On another occasion, we happened to stroll by the Pinnacle Grill at dinner time. The entire restaurant was 75% empty. When we inquired as to possibly having dinner there (despite not having reservations), we were told "NO" as it was fully booked. Perhaps, HAL needs to revisit some of their policies and procedures around these 'reservations' and bookings. Probably the most disliked part of this trip was the constant 'rolling' of the ship. No one in our party gets (or got) seasick and I can't tell you how many times I have gone on the 'swings' at various amusement parks with my kids but the rolling on this ship was incredible!! They even had to put out motion sickness bags by the elevators. Maybe there were high winds but honestly, this ship could make you seasick even if you are not necessarily prone to motion sickness. We also overheard someone commenting on a poor woman who apparently fell down the stairs and bruised half her face. I could not sleep at night (all week) because of this terrible 'creaking and screeching noise' in our cabin secondary to the rolling. This was in a deluxe verandah balcony stateroom. I kept wondering if the boat was going to fall apart ;) If you are expecting any exciting bon voyage/send offs to mark the start of your vacation - it will not occur on this boat. They also had a midweek Lido pool party - I have to say it was disappointing (both food and entertaining wise). The daily newsletters clearly outlined activities throughout the day but essentially they were the same every day and variety was clearly lacking. My HAL experience was not great (despite multiple recommendations from friends and relatives) and I would really have to think twice before I choose HAL again. We paid a little more for our Disney cruise but the details to attention, service, boat design, staterooms, imagination and creativity made every cent worthwhile. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
I should start this by saying that my husband and I have cruised twice with Celebrity (2002 & 2006), twice with Carnival (2007 and 2008) and just got back from our cruise with RCCL's Serenade of the Seas. I also travelled on RCCL ... Read More
I should start this by saying that my husband and I have cruised twice with Celebrity (2002 & 2006), twice with Carnival (2007 and 2008) and just got back from our cruise with RCCL's Serenade of the Seas. I also travelled on RCCL in the early 90s and enjoyed it very much, but I was much younger, and it was my first cruise, so I am not sure I can really compare that cruise to my more recent cruises. We travelled this time with my 4 year old, plus 2 friends. The two friends, my husband and I are 40ish, are not "partiers" and don't participate in most of the cruise-sponsored games on board (sexy legs contests, belly flop contests, "newlywed game" contests, etc.) We also don't enjoy a lot of loud music and dancing in the pool area when we are on vacation, we prefer to sit in a lounge chair by the pool and read, relax and talk with each other. The four of us almost 40 year olds all travelled together on this cruise as well as on the two Carnival cruises. When we booked our Carnival cruise in 2007 (Valor), we were a bit reluctant. DH and I had been on Celebrity and were very happy with those cruises, and knew Carnival's reputation as more of a loud, party type ship, which was not what we are really into. We booked that cruise because it had a Western Caribbean itinerary that was very appealing to us, and read some good reviews about that ship. On that cruise, a hurricane hit the areas where we were supposed to visit, so the ship had to change its itinerary. We were disappointed that we couldn't hit the ports we had specifically wanted to visit, but you can't argue with a hurricane. We had a wonderful experience on that ship the food was absolutely wonderful, and the service and staff were top notch. We had more room in our cabin than we had had on Celebrity, and were kind of surprised that it compared so favorably. Since we really wanted to do that Western itinerary, we booked another Carnival cruise with that itinerary 5 months later. We sailed on the Legend, along with another friend with the same age and outlook. Again all of us had a superb time, and found the food and service top notch. This time, we wanted to do a Southern Caribbean itinerary, and wanted to try another line. I had always heard good things about RCCL, was very happy with my cruise back in 1991, and saw some good reviews of the Serenade. It was a bit pricier than a similar Carnival offering, but we all wanted to see what else was out there. So we booked the Serenade. The good side: The ship was indeed very beautiful. It was a bit nicer than the Carnival ships we were on, only because it was a bit more understated. The itinerary was wonderful. The embarkation and debarkation experiences we had could not have been better. And my son was very happy with the kid's club. The not so good side: We were amazed at how bad the food was! I had some of the worst risotto (bland and watery) I've ever had in my life. I had Chicken Marsala that was extremely salty (and I like things a bit salty, so if I thought it was salty, I can't imagine what others must think.) One night I had cheese tortellini in a cream sauce, which was okay, but really not something that should be offered in the main dining room as an entree selection that is something that should be offered in the buffet at lunch. The food on the 11th floor buffet was not nearly as good as Carnival's and all of the offerings everywhere on the ship were not as good as that we had had on Celebrity. We did discover that many of the food offerings available in the main dining room were available on the 11th floor, which explains why they were sub-par: they were designed to feed many people in a buffet setting, as opposed to a smaller number of individual, semi-made to order portions. We did eat in Portofino's one night, and the food there was very good. But we commented that that night was how we felt each night on our previous Carnival cruises. As mentioned elsewhere on Cruise Critic, RCCL has instituted an offering of filet mignon each night for an additional $14.95 charge in the dining rooms. This change has eliminated any offering of filet as an option on any other night without additional charge. (On all my other cruises, filet was an option on at least one night.) Overall, service on the ship was adequate, but not as good as Carnival's. Several times we had the feeling that the staff were doing us a favor by waiting on us. As a gold member, I was supposed to receive a book of coupons from the room steward, but after the first night, we never saw him again (although he did a good job cleaning our stateroom.) The guest relations could not help me to get this coupon book. It was a small thing, but annoying. Also, on both Carnival and on Celebrity, the bar waiters always came around to see if we needed anything from the bar while in the main dining room. I get a can of coke each night at dinner, and on all my previous cruises, after the first night, the bar waiter was always at our table soon after we sat down asking if I'd like a coke. On this cruise, the bar waiter was difficult to find, I always had to ask the waiter to get him. Once he even asked someone else at our table if he'd like a beer, but did not ask me anything, and I could not get his attention to ask for the coke. I had to wait until the beer was served and then ask. I would think that just in his own self interest, he would want to ask everyone at the table if they needed anything from the bar. It was another minor irritation that reflected the poor service overall. Also, the ship did not have some of the same bathroom amenities that Carnival had no body wash or conditioner in addition to the shampoo, no razors or toothpaste, etc. Also no bathrobes. There was apparently an outbreak of a norovirus type illness on the ship, but the passengers were kept completely in the dark. On the Thursday of our journey (it had left on Saturday), while we were in port, all of a sudden the purell machines were everywhere, and they forced everyone to use them when they got back on the ship and upon entry to anywhere that provided food. I've been on other cruises where the Purell machines were there, but they weren't mandatory. When asked about them, crew members said that it was just for "prevention," and that no one was sick. I asked them, if they were for prevention, then why weren't they available from the beginning, and they replied that they just did them randomly. Right. My husband finally got it out of one of the crew members that there were some people who were sick. We would probably sail RCCL again, but it wouldn't be my first choice. I am surprised to say that I'd choose a nice Carnival ship over an RCCL one, given a similar itinerary. (Overall both lines have overlapping pools of customers, and both have higher and lower end ships. On either one, I'd only take a ship that was newer and very well reviewed.) Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Pre cruise: We were in Fort Lauderdale for a few days before the cruise and arranged for a limo to drive us to the port in Miami. We used Leblanc Limousine. Since we were 6 people, this was the least expensive method. We had very ... Read More
Pre cruise: We were in Fort Lauderdale for a few days before the cruise and arranged for a limo to drive us to the port in Miami. We used Leblanc Limousine. Since we were 6 people, this was the least expensive method. We had very professional and courteous service and didn't have to worry about leaving a car in the port parking lot for a week. Embarkation: Embarkation was fairly quick and painless. We boarded the ship around 12:30 and were greeted by the staff with champagne and orange juice. we proceeded to the buffet for lunch, but had a hard time finding a table for 6. Stateroom: We booked 2 outside staterooms, side-by-side for my husband and one daughter and myself with the other daughter. Unfortunately, we were not able to get connection staterooms, so my husband and I had to split up. My parents had an inside cabin on the same deck. The room was smaller than on Princess, but had a larger bathroom. My favorite addition to the room was a coffee maker. We were able to brew a small pot of coffee without leaving the room or waiting for room service. Our cabin stewards worked as a team of 2 and although we rarely saw them, the room was always kept clean. We also had an assortment of towel animals on our bed each night. I did not like that if I wanted additional beach towels that I needed to sign them out or risk being charged $25.00, so we made do with the ones we were given. The ship: the layout was fantastic. Everything was very easy to find. There was coffee available (including cappuccino, espresso and lattes) for free 24/7. Ice cream was available whenever you wanted - also free of charge. Princess should take some notes!!! Dining: Unfortunately, this is where the cruise fell short for me. I found the dinners in the "included" dining rooms very bad. The menu was very limited and the food very bland. When we asked for anything "special" we were told no. On Princess, we always have a standing order of creme brule. After begging the head waiter, they finally brought us one - one to share for 6 people!!! The specialty restaurants were better, but I hate paying extra when I am on a cruise - it is supposed to be all inclusive. We ate at the Lotus Restaurant, which was great, and at the Steak house (can't remember the name) which was mediocre. We ate all of our breakfasts at the buffet. What a beautiful buffet - well organized and spacious. And DELICIOUS!! Most of our lunches were eaten at the grill - usually cheeseburgers or hot dogs and fries. Not very good. But the barbecued ribs and chicken were quite tasty. Entertainment: Fabulous shows - and a great casino Kids Club - My 8 year old thought it was okay, the 12 year old found it pretty lame. Considering the time of year (spring break) there wasn't too much organized for the kids. They also mixed the age groups together too much. There were activities for all kids aged 2-12???!!! Gratuities: We were very shocked at the price of the gratuities as they apparently increased on Jan 1st/09. The charge is now $12 per day, per person, including children over 3. I found this to be very high, especially since we also left additional tips when we dined in the "pay" restaurants. Overall: We loved everything about our 1st NCL experience, except for the food, so it will take a lot for us cruise with them again. Ruby Princess, here we come!!!! Disembarkation: Also pretty smooth, but not nearly as enjoyable as embarkation!!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This is our 5th cruise and certainly our least favorite! We travelled with a group of 18 people for an onboard wedding. We had a great time because of our group, no thanks to Carnival. My first complaint is that we booked as a group ... Read More
This is our 5th cruise and certainly our least favorite! We travelled with a group of 18 people for an onboard wedding. We had a great time because of our group, no thanks to Carnival. My first complaint is that we booked as a group booking which created ongoing issues with our booking numbers so we always had a difficult time logging onto Carnival to fill out documents, as a group booking we were offered no incentive, such as fun points, and the bride and groom were comped nothing, not even a complimentary bottle of wine! Everything on the ship was just ok. We had a few situations arise that seriously lacked customer service. The most significant situation we encountered was that our bathroom floor drain backed up and our bathroom was flooded with feces! Yes, feces! It was cleaned in a timely manner but we had to request that they use bleach to disinfect it, as opposed to just cleaning it. This occurred at 4pm and they took about 2 hours to fix the problem outside and to clean the room.....of course while we were supposed to be getting ready for dinner at 6pm. Plus we had our 2 year old and 6 month old travelling with us. Nothing was given as a customer service as an apology. Next, why would they put the baby / childrens pool on deck 12 where there is no elevator access? We had to carry our stroller up the stairs to use the pool. The food in the dining room was good, certainly not great! Far below cruise ship quality. They don't have a wine sommelier during dinner service. Also they no longer do the baked alaskan parade on their cruise line due to budget cuts. Are you kidding me? Also the Atlantic dining room is located in the middle of the ship which made for navigating around the ship very challenging. You had to go up two floors or down two floors to get to the other side of the ship since there was no way around the dining room! We never even met our maitre 'd, he did not come to our tables once during our cruise, and yet we were expected to tip him. Our cabin was great, very large rooms and our cabin steward was awesome! Disembarkation was a complete fiasco. We had to be out of our rooms by 0900 but we weren't allowed off the ship until almost 1pm....that is a long wait in public areas with small children when there is no place to really be since all the other passengers are waiting there too. Then when they finally called our number we had to stand in line for almost another full hour! This was the most poorly organized disembarkation I have ever experienced. Overall it was barely ok. We will be going back to RCCl and Celebrity. Sometimes it is better to go with a sure thing. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This was our 7th and 8th cruise so we are not cruising virgins. We knew things were going to be bad when we embarked in Sydney on a cool, rainy day at a mystery location. Embarkation was by tender. Tender? Somehow we got to the ... Read More
This was our 7th and 8th cruise so we are not cruising virgins. We knew things were going to be bad when we embarked in Sydney on a cool, rainy day at a mystery location. Embarkation was by tender. Tender? Somehow we got to the mysterious embarkation dock very early so we could get aboard then come back to see some more of beautiful Sydney. I say 'somehow' because Royal Caribbean (RCCL) identified the area where the tenders were loading by a name only the Chamber of Commerce uses. They also used the wrong street name and gave the wrong directions to the dock in their literature. Only a knowledgeable cabbie who knew of at least 3 locations in the area was able to find the dock after 2 wrong turns. The location of the dock was in a warehouse area without any nearby transportation so using cabs was the only alternative if we wanted to get to or from the tenders. We got a taste of things to come when we were not allowed to tender until all the previous previous passengers were off the ship. That took some time so we sat and sat and sat and finally were allowed to board a tender. Waiting for RCCL to get their act together is something we almost got used to. Sloppiness happened several times on our back-to-back cruise. RCCL doesn't seem to know what the words 'plan in advance' means or they just slapped these cruises together without any consideration of their passengers. We booked the second cruise primarily to go Cairnes and see the Great Barrier Reef. It was almost impossible for us to do. Cairnes was on the itinerary but the ship did not dock in Cairnes and we did not tender into Cairnes. Ever hear of Yorky's Knob? We tendered into the small yacht basin at Yorky's Knob from about 2 miles out. We were 20 miles at least from Cairnes. The ship arrived at 9:00am as shown on the brochure but by the time we pushed our way onto a tender full of paying tour customers (they are always the first ones on the tenders irregardless of other nonpaying passengers plans ashore) and caught a cab into Cairnes we almost missed the last boat out to Green Island. The reef center was almost deserted when we got there and it scared us to death. The ship should have arrived at 7am, moored off of Cairnes, and had tenders going ashore plenty of early enough for passengers to catch a reef tour out to the outer part of the Great Barrier Reef and get back. The Reef is The Premier Attraction in Australia IMO. I think that RCCL tendered to Yorky's Knob to save on port fees, to generate shuttle bus income ($14 RT per person), and to sell excursions. Like they did in almost all ports. RCCL made a bundle on shuttle bus fees on these cruises. At $14 RT a person, that comes to $28,000 a port if everyone uses it. How many shuttle buses can you rent for $28,000? In addition to that onboard ship personal play dumb when you ask them if local bus or cab transportation is available at the dock. RCCL should provide shuttle service at their cost or include it in the price. Of course you don't know about this in advance. Another profit center that RCCL capitalized on was purchasing visas to enter Papua New Guinean waters. The very small print in your documents says that passengers are responsible for all visas but it seems like a company that looks out for its customers would know and tell customers which countries require visas. RCCL 'generously' would process visas for $75 each if you did not have one. You HAD to have one. If you got your visa directly from the PNG it would cost $35. RCCL was charging a $40 processing fee to provide a printout to PNG officials. Cha-ching. $80,000 in profit if everyone got one through them. There is a PNG consulate in Brisbane and we stopped in there and got ours in about 15 minutes. A lot of people were highly annoyed about this outrageous charge. Again this service should have been offered at RCCL's cost and as a service to their customers. I do not want to describe what the disembarkation was like in one port. It is too painful to recall. 3 hour wait to disembark. 3 hours!! People were stacked up in hallways and lounges for hours and tempers were flaring. Total incompetence. When I asked a senior officer about it he barked at me like I was a deck hand. Little things add up. Mints on the pillow? No. Toiletries other than a thin bar of soap? No. Ice Cream? The kind you find in a cheap buffet. Soda or Pop? $3.00 a can or an expensive soda card that saved you nothing unless you drank 20 cans a day. Internet access? Slow and unreliable access at $39 an hour. Books in the library? Shabby and too few. The shelves were empty after day 1. Entertainment? One or two good acts. The ship's cast was terrible. We went twice and gave up on it. The other acts were street entertainer quality with one exception. RCCL is cheap. Food? Mediocre but good quality. The same food day after day on the buffet. They ran out of little things like tea, nuts, raisins, and ice cream. The bakery only produced 2 or 3 kinds of rolls. Desserts were okay if you like mousse. Not many pies. Few cakes. Again, the same thing over and over again. The food was so bad I gained only one pound. Service? Excellent to Outstanding. Friendly crew with exception of some of officers and supervisors. One supervisor actually said that he didn't care when I pointed out a problem because it was someone else's responsibility. The crew, the worker bees, would bend over backwards to help you. Always pleasant, always available. Wonderful, hardworking people. Exception was customer service - terrible. Rude and knowledgeable. Activities? Good selection. Decent speakers. The TV had only 3 live channels - CNN and ESPN and BBC. ESPN was 24 hours of soccer. CNN was worldwide. The BBC was the BBC. Terrible stuff. Good movies for the most part. Gym and gym staff were first rate. The lounge music was first rate. Cleanliness and decor? Excellent. A beautiful ship that was well taken care of. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
We were extremely disappointed with the NCL jewel and NCL in general. My wife and I recently completed our ninth cruise with NCL onboard the Norwegian Jewel. The main dining room service has become slow and unprofessional. Eating ... Read More
We were extremely disappointed with the NCL jewel and NCL in general. My wife and I recently completed our ninth cruise with NCL onboard the Norwegian Jewel. The main dining room service has become slow and unprofessional. Eating breakfast or lunch in the main dining room normally requires over one hour. It may be because the wait staff no longer cares. After all, the evaluation cards that once were on all tables have been eliminated and the tip is automatic. The focus seems to have shifted away from growing a business through satisfied customers. I remember when the specialty restaurants were truly reasonably priced and an outstanding dining experience. They now cost more and provide less. The focus seems to have shifted to selling or promoting services and events that require some sort of charge. Be it pull tabs, the spa, wine tasting, bingo or whatever, the emphasis is on making money. A number of deck chairs were in need of repair and not even usable. My room attendant had difficulty keeping my room stocked with clean towels. While the dining menu is better than two year ago, it is far short of what NCL provided 7 years ago or that of what NCL competitors currently provide. In fact, my wife felt she got food poisoning on the last evening. Her attempt to report it the next morning was essentially ignored. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This having been my tenth cruise (nine with Carnival, three being on the Ecstasy), I've come to expect certain qualities from the staff. Some of those qualities were met. Some were not even close. While Kirk and Jason (CD and ... Read More
This having been my tenth cruise (nine with Carnival, three being on the Ecstasy), I've come to expect certain qualities from the staff. Some of those qualities were met. Some were not even close. While Kirk and Jason (CD and Asst CD, respectively) were great, the rest of the staff left much to be desired. We have informally dubbed this the "No No cruise" as we were denied nearly everything we asked, right down to asking the room steward to remove the water and sodas from the room. Our requests were all things we had received on prior cruises, including the Ecstasy, yet were denied them on this sailing. I liked Kirk's relaxed delivery when he spoke to the audience which gave each event a friendly atmosphere. Jason is high-spirited and very personable with a quick wit. Each hosted events with their own flare, standing out among the rest of the staff and making it fun for the audience. The entertainment was, for the most part, up to par. We disliked the first comedian, a ventriloquist who should have never left his day job. Even from a far distance, without my glasses, I could see his mouth moving. We could not understand much of what the "dummy" was saying. However, we were thrilled to have Kim come aboard and entertain us with her hysterical humor. She is a comedic riot and sings with an amazing voice! Our waiter was, to put it politely, less than stellar. After the Maitre'D became involved in the situation, it still took 2hrs to finish dinner while the tables around us (with other waiters) were finished before we received our main course. Our waiter never introduced himself, never participated in the entertainment, never spoke to us other than to take our orders, and never performed the napkin folding as all our other waiters have done in the past. Each night there were items ordered that either never arrived or were incorrect. I could go on about how terrible it was but instead I will simply say this...I've had better service from the drive thru window at McDonald's! Several people mentioned taking a bus to Merida for shopping and said the trip took about 30 minutes and cost about $3pp each way. The cost was $10rt and by the time we walked to the bus depot, waited for the bus, and took the trip to Merida (closer to an hour ride), we had very little time to shop before we needed to be back to the ship at 2:30. As this is not a tourist area, the shop owners did not recognize U.S. currency and had difficulty communicating the exchange rate. This also took up a lot of our precious time. I do not suggest taking this self-excursion. In all my cruises, I've only experienced two debarkations which ran smoothly and, for the most part, hassle free. This was not one of them! Guests without luggage in hand should not be allowed to disembark the ship along with the self-assist passengers. My suggestion to Carnival is this: If you are a self-assist passenger (no luggage out the night before) you should be issued a wrist band. If you don't have the wrist band, you don't disembark until the ones with it are off the ship! Furthermore, the self-assist passengers should be off the ship before everyone else is called down. We were the last self-assist passengers called to the gangway and hadn't even gotten on the elevator before the other passengers were called. I realize Carnival is trying to clear the ship as quickly as possible. However, this could be done more efficiently and, in the long run, more quickly if they would not "bottle-neck" the passengers on the gangway! Overall, the cruise was fun but much of it had to do with the people surrounding me. Some were family, some I knew from a past cruise, some I met on the CC roll call. All were great, fun-loving people and we had a great time together. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
There were many positive aspects to both the ship and the cruise, but in retrospect, the negative surprises were so striking that they overshadowed the strengths more than they should have. More than anything else, the omnipresent sales ... Read More
There were many positive aspects to both the ship and the cruise, but in retrospect, the negative surprises were so striking that they overshadowed the strengths more than they should have. More than anything else, the omnipresent sales pressure was a painful distraction from what could have been a much more enjoyable vacation experience. The most ridiculous example of this was our assistant waiter's seemingly inexhaustible eagerness to sell cola and wine to everyone at our table during our "formal" nights. The image of my husband dressed in his best suit having to fend off a fusillade of beverage inquiries went from odd, to embarrassing, to downright comical as the week progressed. It should be noted that I don't fault the waiter at all. He appeared to be simply doing what he was instructed to do. Moreover, he was as courteous and pleasant as anyone could possibly have been who was trying to pimp a couple of extra sodas to a dining room full middle-aged men dressed in business suits and ladies dressed in evening gowns and cocktail dresses. With that said, the dining room service was generally attentive. The food was only fair for a formal dining experience, but seemed very good upstairs in the cafeteria where our expectations were more modest and the service was generally outstanding. Unfortunately again, the pounding sales pressure did not end in the formal dining room. It was on the TV, in the public areas, on loud speakers, in the Promenade, at kiosks, getting off the ship, in the evening cruise news letter, by the shops, by the pool, relentless... and everywhere. Watches, massages, tanzanite, anti-aging treatments, drinks, excursions, ice cream, fitness consultations, facials, costume jewelry, t-shirts, cameras, e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. And quite tragic, really, because the ship itself was whimsical, imaginative, and lovely, and most of the service was somewhere between very good and fantastic. To be fair, the price for the cruise was really very low, and maybe it is simply not possible to offer a ship and a staff that special at a price that low without squeezing extra money from somewhere else. And, to further speculate, maybe Royal Caribbean's market research has discovered that folks would rather pay less up front and then get soaked, pitched, and plundered after they board. Okay, maybe, but a better solution must be out there than to accost your guests dressed in their finery, hoping to charge them for another glass of wine or another soda? I've taken other cruises and have never been subjected to anything like what I experienced on the Independence. Maybe the solution needs to start with an end to the "formal" dining, because the constant begging for money would not have seemed so out of place if all of the guests were not so overly dressed for the foolish hucksterism to which they were constantly subjected while dining. Of course, that does nothing to address the 24 hour-a-day quest for capital that happens everywhere else on the ship. If one were to simply surrender to the environment and go with the flow, it would be quite easy to double or triple the cost of the cruise without even trying. And if that is the objective, why be shy? RCCL could just change their motto from "The Nation of Why Not?" to "The Nation of Buy A Lot!" At least then their victims would know what to expect, and forewarned, as they say, is forearmed. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
We choose this cruise because the ship stopped at some NEW ports that we have not been to before, after so many cruises all of the ports begin to look alike. The cabin steward was very good, he seem to clean the room right away after ... Read More
We choose this cruise because the ship stopped at some NEW ports that we have not been to before, after so many cruises all of the ports begin to look alike. The cabin steward was very good, he seem to clean the room right away after we put the service requested sign in the door to let him know that we would be gone for awhile, we think that helped him out, because he has 18 cabins to clean and he did not have time to wonder if people have left their cabin. The food was avg., we ate most of our meals in the Horizon buffet. It seemed like whenever we went to the buffet the food was NOT very HOT. You had to dig down to the bottom of the warming trays to find HOT food, it didn't matter if it was for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The set up for the buffet line was terrible, there is two entrances, but only one starts at the beginning of the food. People where cutting in front of others that had been waiting in line to get their plates. Food placed on the buffet was not in any logical order. The butter was NOT near the breads, the salad dressing was not close to the salad, other food was not near where they should be. There was always 2 kinds of scrambled eggs, but they where placed at opposite ends of the buffet. They where always carving meat of some king during the meals. The one nice idea they had was to put a dining room menu by the buffet so you could see ahead of time if you wanted to go for a sit down meal in the dining that evening or for lunch. If you eat dinner in the Horizon, make sure you get there between 6 and 8pm, if you go after that they stop serving home made ice cream for dessert. If you eat dinner in the DaVinci or Michelangelo dining room MAKE sure you have enough people to fill up a table, or you will be put at a table and be STUCK there until the entire table is filled up before you will be served. The one thing we missed was the two page recap of the national/world news that was always available at the purser desk in the mornings. I asked about it and was told Princess stopped printing it. The entertainment, some good, some avg. The shows had ok singers and amateur dancers. Junction 21, Tony B, and the hypnotist are good. The cotton candy "gray hair" crowd went nuts for the one man band named MAURIZIO. If you go to the MUTS, (movie under the stars), go at night as it is alitte hard to see during the day with the sun shinning on the screen. If you go to the shows get there early as there are never enough seats in the Princess theater or the Vista lounge The average age of the passengers was well in 60's, so there was not alot of drinking and gambling going or shopping in the ships stores, things got so bad that the ship was keeping their stores open in ports during the last days of the trip. The cruise lines never do that unless no one is buying. The pressure also picked up to buy drinks as the trip went along. Embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze, no more that a 30 min wait on either end. If you make plane reservations thru Princess they are very $$$. We fly in to and out of FLL, we did fly the same days as the trip, no early in or stay over. When we called Princess we where told that there was "no" shuttle bus service from MIA, only from FLL. We found out later that that was not the case. It seems like Princess was running buses to MIA and FLL, during disembarkation. Flying into MIA is a lot cheaper that going into FLL. The ship is in need of some work as it is showing it's age, some of the carpets, as well as the common areas need some work done to them. The beds seem to have the 'SWAY" back feel to them as they have have used a lot and need to be replaced. Overall rating would be a 6.5 out of 10. The weather was nice and warm with calm seas. Would we do it again, maybe on a different ship. Skip the Sanctuary area, this is a semi private area that you pay for to be "quote" away from other people, but all it is, is an area that is gated off away from other people that will not pay $10 for a 1/2 day or $20 for a full day, to be by themselves. Skip the ART auction, everything is over priced, some art was selling for the $35,000+, not too many buying art. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click