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21,349 Family Cruise Reviews

We sailed out of New York in Sept 2008 on the Victory. We flew into New Jersey and took a cab to the port .. I really don't think we saved any money getting our own transportation and then the hassle of ... Read More
We sailed out of New York in Sept 2008 on the Victory. We flew into New Jersey and took a cab to the port .. I really don't think we saved any money getting our own transportation and then the hassle of finding a trust worthy cabbie .. ( spent 40 getting there and 80 on the way back, apparently they charge you for crossing state lines) .. we made it to the boat without any problems .. leaving out of New York was a nice view... would have been a better view had I known ahead of time that on the Panorama deck has a private balcony at the front of the boat .. no one goes out there because its out of the way .. but it's great to get away from the crowd .. just go to the end of the hall and there you go .. We had an inside state room ..we were nervous about this but it was fine .. you spend very little time in the room and without a window sleeping is great .. the beds are very comfortable. This was our first cruise so we had nothing to compare it to, however there are a lot of nasty reviews out there .. if you let yourself get all wrapped up in them your trip will be poopy before you even get there .. I have learned there are some people that cannot be pleased no matter what .. the food was great and there was never a shortage .. you want to 3 dinner entrees , go for it .. the staff was very nice and they remember your name. Our room steward was awesome, cleaned in the mornings and redone again at night with cool towel creatures waiting .. Pizzeria stays open all night and we had 1 midnight buffet with an ice sculpture .. The ports were St Johns and Halifax .. we did not book any excursions thru Carnival. We decided to just go walking and see what we came upon. In Halifax we went to the Citadel and found a museum that has a really nice Titanic exhibit with lots of relics from the boat. We also ate at a local restaurant called Blue Plate. They have really good fresh seafood and serve breakfast all day. The prices were very reasonable. In St John we also did a lot of walking .. The City Market was interesting. It was like a huge flea market right in the middle of town. We did not find a lot to do here so I would consider booking an excursion if we went here again. One of the reasons we chose this cruise is because after reading lots of reviews it was evident this was not a booze cruise. It wasn't and we met some really nice people. There were a lot of older people on the boat. I think we were in the minority of young people. I am 29 and my husband is 30 .. There were only a handful of children on the cruise... so I have no idea how children's activities are run. We did walk thru the arcade and it seems a bit expense to play the games. A soda card was $30 but it is money well spent if you drink a lot of soda, otherwise they are $2-3 a piece... even at meals in the dining room. Entertainment was ok. There was a really good magician, and the nightly entertainment consisted of Vegas style shows. There are always 2 of everything so no matter which dinner time you choose you can still participate in the fun. The only thing we missed were the movies. They are shown every evening on the Lido deck and it was during our dinner time. Moves are shown in the room too. We ordered room service 1 time and they do not vary from the menu. I wanted a BLT with cheese and I couldn't get cheese because it wasn't on the menu. I thought this was pretty petty .. just add a piece of cheese. Other than this the staff was very accommodating. The last thing I can think of is the tipping. It is added into your onboard expense account if you let them, however the purser made a good point to us and let us know that we could choose our tip amount after the cruise. It does make more sense to tip someone after a job well done rather than before. Happy Sailing !! Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Background: We are veterans of many cruises, all with Royal Caribbean. This was our first with NCL, on Pride of America. Our party included my parents, my brother & sis-in-law, my son and me (DH had to stay home and work). Mom was ... Read More
Background: We are veterans of many cruises, all with Royal Caribbean. This was our first with NCL, on Pride of America. Our party included my parents, my brother & sis-in-law, my son and me (DH had to stay home and work). Mom was born and raised in Hilo, HI and it has been her dream to view Hawaii from a cruise ship. With many aunts, uncles and cousins in Hawaii, we have made numerous trips and thought this would be a fun way to see the islands! My brother made most of the arrangements and found an excellent deal with a well-known travel agency. We had done much research about Pride of America on the Cruise Critic boards and thank everyone for their reviews. We went into this cruise with open minds. Pre-cruise: We arrived in Honolulu two days before the cruise and stayed at the Hawaii Prince on the west end of Waikiki (close to Hilton Hawaiian Village and the Ala Moana shopping) and found very reasonable rates through expedia.com that also included a rental car. Our pre-cruise time was spent with relatives and went by so fast that I couldn't believe it was time to embark on the cruise! Embarkation: We drove over to the cruise terminal at Pier #2 about 11:30 am and dropped off our luggage and checked in. The lines were moderately long and we stood in line for about 20 minutes. Check-in was quick with verification of ID's and credit card and soon we had our "Embarkation Card" or key card in our hands. We dodged the pushy photographers and went to the rental car. There is a US Post Office by the airport that's open all day Saturday and we mailed some boxes home then returned the rental car. My cuz' picked us up and after lunch dropped us off at the Pride of America. We had to evade the photographers again and this time they were more persistent—at one point telling me it was required for "security reasons." What a lie! They just want to make $$. Stateroom: The first place we headed was to the cabin, #10034, located on the starboard side, forward, fairly close to the elevators. It was very clean. The colors are really bright. We chose this cabin on the starboard side so we could have a good view as we came into Hilo Bay and we weren't disappointed! It was a beautiful morning in Hilo and we could see the telescopes on top of Mauna Kea and all the familiar landmarks my mom grew up with! We also had a good view of the lava glowing as it flowed into the ocean later that evening during the sail-by. The beds were configured as a queen size and I requested them arranged in twin and this was done during the "turn down." The beds were comfortable and I had no trouble sleeping. Oh, the 'fridge was nice and cold but filled with drinks and alcohol (all were WAY overpriced) and we moved most of them up to the shelf by the safe. The balcony included 2 chairs and a small table. Storage appeared scarce but the shelves in the closet can stow lots of clothes and gear. There were a couple of robes in the closet. The bathroom was small (of course) and the shower had a curtain instead of a door. Included in the bathroom was a small bottle of lotion, shower cap and shoeshine cloth. Inside the shower was a dispenser for shampoo and shower gel. Outside the door by your cabin number is a "dial" that you can turn to tell the cabin steward "do not disturb" "Make up Cabin" etc. It was nice to have this available. There were no cabins across the hall. The Ship: The Pride of America is fairly new, built in 2005, I think. She is decorated in an Americana theme, which I found very refreshing. There are many restaurants with different menus, some with additional fees. Dining: We ate breakfast in the Aloha Cafe on Deck 11 and it is a buffet format, lots of food and lots of people. For dinner, we preferred the Skyline Restaurant, the main dining room. We had the best waiter, Shere, and I highly recommend her. She was outgoing, friendly, and efficient—we never lacked for anything. However, one evening she was already engaged with a huge party and we had another waiter. He took the wine list and glasses away without asking my son and I if we wanted wine and when I asked him about it, he gave me a sarcastic remark which upset me. One night we ate at the Teppanyaki Room. The food was fantastic and both chefs skilled and entertaining. There was a $25 surcharge per person. Overall, we were pleased with all of the menus and food. Activities: On Sunday night, we took part in the "Pub Crawl" and for $20/pp, you go to five different pubs and enjoy a drink. The Pub Crawl is led by couple of energetic staff that keeps it fun and upbeat! We highly recommend it! There are also Hula classes and Hawaiian lei-making classes. I went to three of the lei making classes. They give you the materials at no charge and additional supplies are available for reasonable cost. Entertainment: We didn't go to all the shows but on the advice of Cruise Critic members, we didn't miss the magician, Fred Becker—absolutely spectacular! The comedian, Chris Alpine was soooo funny! We also enjoyed the musicians who played by the pool. Excursions: We had reserved a rental car for each port and traveled on our own. The rental car companies have shuttles to pick you up and take you to get your car. We used Budget and had no problems. In Hilo, we got an early start and drove down to Punalu'u Black Sand Beach and then went to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Crater Rim Drive was closed just past the Jaggar Museum due to the "VOG" or smoke coming from the Halema'uma'u crater. Returning to Hilo, we stopped for some shopping and shave ice before returning the rental car. Next was Kahului, Maui and we took the rental car to Lahaina for shopping then drove a little further and found Maui Brewing Co. and sampled their brews and had lunch. Later we drove around West Maui. The road got VERY narrow and twisty but we made it. Kona was our only tender port and after tendering, we walked a couple of blocks to the Kona Brewing Co. for their samples and lunch. In Nawiliwili, Kauai, we rented a car and drove up to Hanalei Bay then further to Kee Beach. It was a rainy day and the surf was so high that the beach was closed. We did get some good pictures of the Kilauea Light House. Disembarkation: This was by far the best disembarkation we've ever experienced. Everyone could pick the color of luggage tag corresponding to the time they wanted to leave the ship, as early as 7:30 am and as late as 9:45 am. There was a program called "Easy Fly" for folks flying home the same day. For $24.95 per person, they checked you in for your flight and gave you airline tags for your luggage for your destination. We did not use this service but my parents did and they loved not having to haul their bags around. After a leisurely breakfast in the Skyline, we walked off the ship about 9:15, found our bags in the cruise terminal and took a taxi to the airport, our flight leaving at 1:00 pm. Summary: True, the level of service is not as attentive as the service on Royal Caribbean ships but we didn't let it ruin the cruise. One thing I noticed was that there were hardly any children on this cruise. As I walked past the Kid's Club, there were only about a dozen or so kids. This cruise is perfect for those wanting to see Hawaii in seven days! I cannot stress enough how important it is to plan out your itinerary so you can make the most of the limited time on each island. I would recommend arriving in Honolulu a few days early to help adjust to the time change. This was a wonderful vacation and cruise. The family had a great time and we created memories that will last us forever. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Background- We are a family of 4 (Mom, Dad & 2 kids- age 14 & 8). This was our 5th Carnival Cruise and the kids' 3rd. We have also sailed Royal Caribbean & Celebrity but we find Carnival to be the most bang for the buck! ... Read More
Background- We are a family of 4 (Mom, Dad & 2 kids- age 14 & 8). This was our 5th Carnival Cruise and the kids' 3rd. We have also sailed Royal Caribbean & Celebrity but we find Carnival to be the most bang for the buck! Travel to port- We drove from Fort Mill, SC (just below Charlotte, NC) and it was an easy 3+ hour drive. Parking was $20/day and prepaid. Embarkation was a total breeze and we really like how it ran in Charleston! Kudos to the Port Authority there! Ship Info & Stateroom- We liked that we were on a larger vessel. We had a balcony stateroom on Lido deck which made going to the pool and buffet very easy. If you can afford it book on that deck! Our cabin was well laid out and gave us just enough room to move around. We know that cabins are tight. The weather for this sailing wasn't the best but we understand that the captain didn't have Mother Nature's number on speed dial. It did get a bit rocky going out of Charleston and then back into Charleston. We took those days as opportunities to hang out in the cabin and "chill" with the kids. For once we actually relaxed. :-) Service- Our room steward, Kevin, was a stealth. We never really saw him. We would just leave for a little while and return to find the room made up and a new towel animal waiting for us. Entertainment- We aren't much for the shows but we did go to a few bingo games and the casino. The lounges are nice and we enjoyed watching the smaller acts. Dining- I very much enjoyed the food on this ship. I like Carnival food anyway and I know not to expect too much when I am sailing with 3000+ other hungry people but the food was exceptional. Every meal was yummy. Of course, we had the Chocolate Melting Cake for dessert every night. It is one of the things we look forward to before cruising Carnival. The waiters were funny and very friendly. Kids Club- Only our 8yr old went to Camp Carnival. He loved it and we didn't see him much, so all in all kids club was wonderful for him and for us. Shore excursions- Freeport- We made a beach day out of this stop hanging out by the Sheraton and Isle of Capri. We also did a little shopping at the marketplace but we didn't spend to much. Freeport has a reputation of being a dive but I found it quite nice. Nassau- I got a room at Atlantis in the Royal Tower. This gave me and my family full access to Atlantis and its beaches/waterparks. YOU MUST DO THE LEAP OF FAITH waterslide if you go to the waterpark! It was AWESOME! Atlantis is very expensive though so budget for extra spending money here. It was $8pp roundtrip for the taxi to the property. We spent $55 for 4 slices of pizza, 2 cookies, 4 drinks & garlic bread. A candy bar is $2.00! We liked the casino as well but we didn't win. :-( Disembarkation- We were called out in zones and we took out time getting off the ship since we were only a few hours drive from home. Carnival has gotten much better at making sure the customer is allowed off the ship in a timely manner without being rushed. Good job! Summary- We love Carnival so and we will continue to cruise them over and over! You just can't beat the value. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
This trip was booked over a year and a half ago as a present for my husbands 50th birthday. Once we booked the cruise family and friends decided to join us and we eventually ended up with 12 people. From our very first phone call to ... Read More
This trip was booked over a year and a half ago as a present for my husbands 50th birthday. Once we booked the cruise family and friends decided to join us and we eventually ended up with 12 people. From our very first phone call to Carnival we received outstanding service. Our PVP went out of her way to accommodate all of our requests. We ended up booking our Air and Hotel through Carnival and we could not have been happier. Yes we paid a little more for our hotel but it was so easy to leave everything in Carnivals hands and when we broke it down what we would pay to book our own flights, accommodation and transfers it only worked out to costing us an extra $50.00 per person. We did purchase the air deviation to guarantee that 10 of us would be on the same flights and once again the deviation department went above and beyond to help us. We flew Alitalia from Toronto direct to Rome. The flight was on time and outside of the fact that it was an older plane we really had no complaints. Once we arrived it Rome the Carnival Rep met us at the baggage claim and escorted us to the waiting bus. We stayed at the Visconti Palace in Rome for two nights. The hotel is very clean and the staff was friendly. After a year and half of planning we had booked all of our own tours rather than go through Carnival. In Rome we used Driverinrome and they were outstanding. Our drivers picked up the 12 of us early Tuesday morning and we set off for our full day tour of Rome. We enjoyed the day tour so much we decided to book Rome by night, our Tour Guide Luca placed one phone call and we were all set for our night tour. After a full day of viewing all of the sights in Rome we were dropped off at the Visconti for a few hours until Remo from Driverinrome came and picked us up for our night tour. Unfortunately it was pouring rain that night but Remo still managed to show us a lot of sights and then took us to a wonderful little restaurant for dinner. After much wine and a lot of laughs with Remo he took us back to the Visconti Palace. Wednesday morning we all just did our own thing while we were waiting for the bus to take us to the ship. There were a lot of guest's staying at the Visconti and Carnival sent three buses to transport us to the port. Embarking was very smooth and we were on the ship around 1 p.m. The ship is very pink as others have noted but honestly it did not bother us one bit. This being a first cruise for the majority of our group everyone was in awe of the size of the ship and the dEcor. We had 5 balcony cabins booked on the Empress deck all in a row and we were allowed to go straight to our cabins once we boarded. We were greeted immediately by our cabin stewart Juan WHAT A DOLL!! Juan like all of the Carnival staff went out of his way to make us happy. Unfortunately before the ship even left port my niece broke her arm when a storm picked up while we were sitting on the balcony. When she went to rush inside the wind was so strong it blew the balcony door right on her wrist. Carnival was excellent handling the entire situation and by the next afternoon her arm was casted. We had late dinner seating in the Golden Pearl and our wait staff Katrina & Laz were excellent. Ken Byrne the Maitre D' went out of his way to help out my niece and make sure every evening that she was okay. Our ports of call were Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Malaga, and Funchal & St. Maarten. We had booked private tours in every port and things ran extremely smooth. I can't even pick a favorite port since we loved them all! The five sea days went by so fast with all of the different activities. I was really concerned that we would be bored to tears but we never had a single moment to be bored. My only two complaints about this trip were the buffet seemed to be lacking compared to previous cruises and the disembarking in Fort Lauderdale was a nightmare we almost missed our flight home due to the fact that Carnival did not seem to have ordered enough busses to transport the guests to the airport. This was a trip of a life time for our family and we will cherish the memories forever. In my opinion Carnival from beginning to end went out of their way for us to make this trip special from our PVP to their deviation department to all the staff on the Splendor! Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
3 travelers i am 35 wife 34 and 3yr old son It's 3rd cruise first for our son departed from Miami Not a problem smooth sailing THE Boat IS SPOTLESS ( compared to RCL explorer and adventures of the sea) dined at summer place - very ... Read More
3 travelers i am 35 wife 34 and 3yr old son It's 3rd cruise first for our son departed from Miami Not a problem smooth sailing THE Boat IS SPOTLESS ( compared to RCL explorer and adventures of the sea) dined at summer place - very nice restaurant /portions a little small/views from restaurant are incredible day 2 at sea - enjoyed the pool /casino day 3 Roatan honduras was cancelled because of political unrest on the island. that was a bummer but we made the best of it. The cruise director created a new itinerary quickly played movies in the theater. dined at Teppanyaki ( a little expensive but nice presentation( Day 4 Belize did the NCL excursion to the AMyan ruins - it was pouring rain but overall it stopped raining when we arrive at the ruins . Well worth the money. Went to dinner at Cagney's worth the extra cash. T-bone was excellent staff was excellent. beautiful restaurant it's like mortons steakhouse Day 5 Cozumel - beautiful beaches we took a cab on our won to Paradise beach it cost us $15 each way . Crab a cab its safe you are in mexico. at the beach each chair cost $10 Dined at Cucina $10 a person great food well worth it Day 6 at Sea pool - Casino - Shows - Bingo Dined at at Buffet very nice good food at the buffet but its always the same choices every single day. Day 7 Great stirrup private Island try and and be the on the first ship off the boat to grab the best chairs and umbrellas. the WATER is magnificent. this was the best beach went too on this trip. Dines At Summers Place foo good portions small. here is a list of the restaurants and prices Garden Cafe deck 12 Free The Grill deck 12 Free Sushi Bar deck 7 $15 Teppanyaki Deck 7 $25 including children Summer Place - main dining room free Mambos Deck 8 $10 La Cucina deck 12 $10 Lotus Garden deck 7 $15 Shabu-Shabu deck 7 $15 Cagney's Steakhouse deck13 $20 Le Bistro deck 6 French Rest$15 Overall nice cruise . But I think Royal was alittle better. NCL was alot cleaner but the food and entertainment was better on the royal Caribbean Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
My family took the MSC Lirica on a 7 day cruise from Civitavecchia (Rome) to Genoa, Marseilles, Valencia, Tangier and Malaga that departed October 24, 2008. We are from Texas and our travels included our 17 year old son. I have taken two ... Read More
My family took the MSC Lirica on a 7 day cruise from Civitavecchia (Rome) to Genoa, Marseilles, Valencia, Tangier and Malaga that departed October 24, 2008. We are from Texas and our travels included our 17 year old son. I have taken two other cruises, the Windsurf out of Barbados in 1999 and the Carnival Triumph from Miami two weeks after 9/11/01. My wife has taken a Norwegian and a Carnival cruise without me. This was my first cruise in a room with out a window and I did not miss one. Our room on deck eight has two fold down bunks over the two twin beds put together. I am 6'3" and there was plenty of room and storage but the shower was a kind of small. The second bunk served well as additional storage. The ship was beautiful and sparking clean. My overall impression of the cruise: we had a really good time. Getting on the ship was easier than any other cruise we have ever experienced. Passengers get on and off the ship at most ports so there were only about 300 (of the 1500+ total) getting on at the same time. It took minutes to go through embarkation and passengers are escorted by a staff member to their room. Disembarkation was just as easy. The first night there were just a couple of dozen people on deck as the ship went to sea. It was like taking a private cruise. The ship was filled to capacity as we left Marseilles. Beer and Soda coupons are available in books of 14. You save about 10 euros by purchasing the "big beer" (about ½ liter) book. You can use the soda coupons for bottled water at dinner. The Lord Nelson pub is gorgeous but a haven for smokers during the cruise. I don't remember being bothered by smokers anywhere else and there were plenty of other places to quaff a pint. Unlike our US based cruises, I never saw anyone get really intoxicated. The food: We opted for the late seating (8:45-9:00 PM). Our waiter, Jaya from Bali, was the best. I like it spicy and after the first night there was always Tabasco and hot chili's on the table. There was only one main course that any of us did not care for, the salt cod my wife ordered the first night. I love fish and selected the fish most evenings (white fish, salmon, red mullet, fish stew). I had lamb one night and a beef filet another. The beef wasn't bad but tasted like South American grass fed beef, very lean. When you order "sea food" anything, unless it says specifically what it is, it is likely to have squid and/or octopus in it. That did not bother me at all. I had three servings of their wonderful squid stew for lunch as we left Marseilles. The last night I ordered the risotto with cuttlefish (squid family) ink. It was the most interesting shade of blue/gray and it was delicious. As an alternative to the Italian specialties, pasta with meat sauce, turkey/chicken or salmon is available every night. Most nights the menu highlighted a region of Italy and its style of Italian food. I am not a sweet eater but the wife and son were very pleased with the impressive deserts that were served. The breakfast and the lunch buffets had an interesting variety and for breakfast they served these tasty little link sausages that had a rich wonderful flavor. For lunch, many of the salads with inside and outside buffets were unique and delicious. Some of the vegetables served with the salads, like cauliflower and brussel sprouts, were lightly blanched for the perfect texture. (As the chef on another ship told me; "you go to the US for beef, Europe for the vegetables".) The buffet plates were very large saving trips back. The coffee was particularly good and was served with hot milk if desired. The yogurt I had on the ship and in Rome was particularly rich and creamy compared to US brands. The outside buffet had burgers, hotdogs and pork chops on one side and pizza on the other. Getting pizza was a challenge because the one oven had trouble keeping up with demand. They had several very beautiful late night buffets but with our late seating we were still too full to enjoy them. Unlike US based cruises, I never saw anyone at an adjacent table order more than one main course. The Europeans: One of the reasons we took MSC was because we wanted a real European experience. Of the 1500+ on the ship, 150 spoke English as a primary language. The good news is most Europeans speak some English. I speak some Spanish and that was very helpful in Spain and understanding some Italian. We made Italian, English, German and Spanish friends on the ship. There were many French on the ship but I discovered that the French in Europe are like OU fans in the big 12 conference. It is not just University of Texas fans they don't get along with, it's everybody else. Maybe this analogy is a tad harsh (comparing the French to OU fans) but they just were not as gregarious as the Italians and the Spaniards. Who ever says Americans are loud has never been in a room with several hundred Italians during a meal. We only had one incidence where someone tried to push us aside in line and that was a teenager. One stern look and he was back in line. As a whole, the other passengers were very friendly, courteous and fun to be with. It was entertaining watching them go swimming when it is 50º and windy outside. It was a blast arguing the merits of American verses English football on the tour bus. (They said our ball was the wrong shape. I complained that in soccer, you don't get to hit anyone.) I enjoyed a hot pepper eating competition with some Spaniards at an adjacent table during dinner (Texas 1, Spain 0). I also have new best friend who is a retired policeman from Naples named Tony (of course). 17year olds and under are free. This saved us about $500-$800 over other cruise lines. There were no more children on our cruise than most others (the Windsurf had a no kids policy). Not only were most of the children reasonably well behaved and unobtrusive, they were quite a joy to be around. The ship has a "kids club" for the younger ones and a multi lingual director that appeared to be very attentive. There was a wide variety of young people for our son to hang out with in the hot tubs during the day and the disco on deck 12 after dinner. The young ladies appeared to outnumber the guys which didn't bother my son too much. Alcohol was only available to those 18 and over to the surprise of the German teens who said they could buy it at home legally at 16. The stops and tours: we took tours at all of the stops except Genoa. When you get off the ship in Genoa, ask for a walking map from the tourism desk. Everything of interest is within easy walking distance. We skipped the famous aquarium and enjoyed the wide variety of shopping available just back from the waterfront. I had a couple of wonderful Italian coffees, fried sardines, a pear shaped fried rice ball with peas inside, and cold beer. My wife had a large slice of pizza that she enjoyed. mmmmm Genoa is a much more relaxed city than Rome. What was also cool was watching the crew back the cruise ship through the harbor to the dock. We loved Genoa. Our next stop was Marseilles. Our first tour was quickly organized and loaded on the bus with no problems (as was the case with all of our excursions). We shared the bus with Italians and had an English and Italian tour guide. We took the city tour but with almost everything closed (it was Sunday), there was less to see aside from the major sites such as the cathedral on the hill and the water memorial. Even though this was my Grandmother's favorite city in France, it was an interesting but least favorite stop. In Valencia, our bus first went to the caves, a 45 minute drive North West of town. The country side was beautiful, looking like a mix between southern California and Northern New Mexico. They packed us a sack lunch and we ate at an open cafe near the cave entrance. The cafe sold ¾ liter of San Miguel beer for 2.8 euros, very tasty. The cave tour was interesting but the city of Valencia was breathtaking. Not only was the city the most impressive combination of old and modern architecture I have ever seen, it was also one of the cleanest. Rosa was our tour guide. Her English was easy to understand and she was very knowledgeable and hospitable. We loved our stop in Valencia. Tangier Morocco was our next stop. As an American, I was a little worried about visiting a Muslim country. We thought taking a tour would be the safest bet. We were also late because the ship was traveling into a 20+ knot wind with 7-12 foot seas. Despite the weather, the ship was comfortable. As we passed Gibraltar, I was privileged to listen to a first hand account of being stationed there during WWII by former British seaman. The ship was close enough to see the rock very well and to take good pictures. Our tour guide in Tangier Usef spoke excellent English, was very pro American and also an unapologetic advocate of everything Moroccan. The first stop was a Moroccan show where local tea and cookies (quite tasty by the way) were served. Next was a visit to the Hercules' cave, then the Sultan's palace and Kasbah. We were given the option to skip the palace to head strait to shopping. Usef works with two other men and they kept a close eye on us. We felt very secure. Walking the back streets of Tangier at night reminded me of an Indiana Jones movie. The guides knew just what shop had what we were looking for. The peddlers in the streets are some of the most persistent I have seen but not unmanageable. This was the one stop that just about any currency was welcome and haggling was expected. We enjoyed Tangier because our guide was really good. Our final stop was in Malaga. Our tour bus had a guide named Fernando that spoke English and German. Malaga was a beautiful city too with an 11th century castle that overlooked the town. We toured the castle and then went down to the city center to see where Pablo Picasso was born and the location of the Picasso museum. We had a detailed tour of the cathedral that Queen Isabella (of Christopher Columbus fame) commissioned. After the tour, the guide cut us loose for an hour of shopping on the West side of the cathedral. I found a nice place called El Jardis del Obispo at the rear left of the little square. I sat just outside enjoying tapas (anchovies, red pepper, and spicy meat balls) and a couple of cold San Miguels while listening to a young man play Danza De La Vida Breve, Capricho Arabe, and Asturias on his guitar. I could really learn to love Spain and our visit to Malaga was wonderful. So much for the details, here are some random notes I made about the trip. The ship's passengers were comprised of mostly working class Europeans. Shuttle busses were available at stops for much less money than the tours. Most went to the city centers. At the 50's style "Grease" function we determined that Europe has given mankind beautiful things like opera, architecture, and language. Americans have given the world the Village People. Most of the music played on the ship is American. After a couple of days, I began to understand Italian TV. The cocktail waitresses are not as aggressive as other cruises. They are attentive but don't pester you 10 minutes asking if you want another drink. Go early to the complementary cocktail party in the Lirica lounge. They have photographers that the entrance and the lines get lengthy and move slowly. Room service is not complementary. You get a daily news letter for the following day while you are away for dinner. Read it. The ship keeps announcements to a minimum because an announcement in 5 languages can take some time. Some the announcements in "English" were very difficult to understand. Food is not available 24 hours. When it is time to close the buffet, it closes. Read the news letter. Time is in military time i.e. 22:00 for 10:00 PM. Before we left the US, the Euro lost 24% of its value against the dollar, which saved us quite a bit of money. No drinks come with dinner. Bottled water is 2.75 euros. A little irritating at first but we got used to it. We purchased soda coupons which could be used for the water. The deck chairs have a neat adjustable face shield. The Cruise Director and the Excursion Director could go from Italian to German to French to Spanish to English with seemingly little effort. Not only did the Cruise Director speak English well, he would go from a British to an American accent and back again during a sentence. It was amazing to witness. The after dinner show theme repeats after 3 or 4 nights because passengers are constantly getting on and off. Excursions are available in advance on the web site. Some excursions were canceled because there were not enough passengers were booked. Some excursions are multi lingual. Some are not available until you get on the ship. As we were passing Gibraltar, the best place to see the waves break on the bow was the gym on deck 11. I and others were asked to leave (very politely) because we were not in work out attire and not working out. I was a little miffed but understood the policy respects those using the gym for its intended purpose. The end of October was an excellent time to travel to southern Europe. It was not too warm and it was only too cool for us to enjoy the pool. Our hotel in Rome had air conditioning but was prohibited by law from turning it on in October. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Girls Rule! This was my 5th cruise with Carnival, 2nd on the Sensation. I went with a girlfriend; it was her 1st time on Carnal but her 2nd cruise. We left our husbands, kids and pets at HOME! We drove down the night before (it was a ... Read More
Girls Rule! This was my 5th cruise with Carnival, 2nd on the Sensation. I went with a girlfriend; it was her 1st time on Carnal but her 2nd cruise. We left our husbands, kids and pets at HOME! We drove down the night before (it was a good solid 6 hours of driving) and explored the pier area. We stayed at the Days Inn with the cruise included parking for $79.00. We hit every store looking for airbrushed t-shirts. We wanted one that had a cruise ship on it and our names with the date, but we didn't find a place that did them. You would think that a beach town would have a place that did airbrushed t-shirts. We finally found a t-shirt that had a saying that was close..."what goes on in Coca Beach stays at the beach". That was what we wore onto the ship the next day. Which brings us to the next day...we had a good night sleep, breakfast (included) and parking the car. We were picked up by the shuttle service and driven to the pier. We got there about 10:30 and checked in and it took about an hour before we were on the ship. We headed to the Lido deck for lunch. I guess that is where EVERYONE goes... LUNCH! We ate and then checked out our room. We were on the Veranda deck. I was thrilled. It was an inside room, but that was OK with me. We never saw our room steward, but the cabin was clean and smelled great, there was NO odors anywhere. We were left with a towel animal every night. I do love the towel animals! We even took the towel animal class on the last day! That is fun for all! We used the gym (that was a first for me) on the first day at 6 a.m., after that my knee was thinking it was best NOT to exercise! We walked the sun deck, checked out the golf course. We didn't swim but caught some rays and had fun people watching. Time for the muster drill...well it was wet out there so they moved us to a drier spot...but I was not looking where I was going...I was dreaming of a monkey head drink...I slipped and fell...I was wearing flip flops and not paying attention to the wet deck...my friend never noticed, I hopped up fast and kept moving...we had a good laugh later when she asked me why I was all wet... Dinner on the first night was good. We were at a table with all ladies except a gentleman with his wife and daughter. We met up with Nellie and Jackie (mother and daughter) from Florida. Dinner was more reserved than my other cruises. The server is normally livelier...I love the interaction with them. This time it just wasn't there. Our maitre' D though was a different story...he was adorable...my friend couldn't keep her eyes off of him! Had her picture taken with him several times! We went to the show with them and sat in the front row. Well, let's say 4 ladies know how to have fun. The cruise director took one look at us and declared us the "Spice Girls". He said, "Oh look, we have the Spice Girls with us tonight in the front row!" which made us all laugh, smile and wave more! Every night we sat there and made our own fun! The last night though someone was sitting there and we had to sit on the other side, still the front row...one of the social hostesses (Charlie) came and asked us why we were sitting there...we told her someone was sitting in our seats. She looked at us and said, "Don't they know you are the Spice Girls and that is your seat?" We all laughed but stayed seated. For the deck party we lost a "spice girl" and asked the social host (Brandon) if he could make an announcement. He did..."Attention please! We are missing a spice girl; they need to rehearse right away, please report to the bandstand!" After that announcement we had several other cruisers come up to us and ask who was missing...then they went and found her! We really had a good time...we were all over the vacation video...it seemed to follow us around! The shows were great! We watched every night! We played the games. I won a ship on a stick...it was my 5th! I come out of my shell on a cruise. We took dance lessons...or at least tried. I have taken the salsa lessons before and nothing seems to stick...as I have 2 left feet! My friend on the other hand...can DANCE...she was a star student! Freeport, Bahamas. I have been several times. We took a cab ($5.00 each way per person) to the Our Lucaya Market. We visited my money in the Isle of Capri casino...and deposited a few more coins, this time I WON some money back! Spent time on the beach, soaked up some sun and then went back to the ship. It was drizzling when we left the ship, but the sun came out after we shopped. When we were on the way back to the ship the bottom fell out, but that was OK...we were done for the day! Nassau, Bahamas. We decided to take a cab to the Atlantis on our own. We also decided to travel with the other 2 members of the Spice Girls and have a girls day out. As we left the ship we were stopped by Quinton. He told us about a tour around the island for $25.00 each. He would show us the "rich" section of town, and the poor section of town and stop at Fort Fincastle and the Queens staircase, and the Atlantis. We talked it over and decided to do that. It was worth EVERY PENNY! He showed us all over and gave a description of everything that we saw. Stopped so we could take a photo her and there...showed us a WONDERFUL time at the Atlantis! The aquarium and the glass sculpture were fabulous! Photo stations...we didn't do as many this time as my other cruises...they are expensive...$21.99 is the "platinum" down to the $7.99 for the "bronze", with "silver" at $8.99, and "gold" at $19.99. NOT a lot of bronze or silver...those were 5 x 7's and the others were 8 x 10's. We did do the dinner photos when they came around, but that was only twice. We also did the debarking photos (Freeport and Nassau) and they accommodated us by doing singles and together. We did our own. The Touch of Class lounge was a great place...there is a piano there and lets just say my friend was all over that! We used the self timer and took pictures of ourselves there. We even asked strangers to take photos of us! Much cheaper and made friends too that way! Food! It was great! Chocolate Melting cake was to die for. I look for that on every cruise since I was introduced on the first cruise! The only disappointment was there was not chocolate buffet and the midnight buffet was MUCH smaller than other cruises. Met with an Internet friend and her husband and kids, we met by the piano bar in the lobby before we left port...on our cell phones since we didn't know what each other looked like...telling each other, "I am standing over by the piano"...and she would say, "I am too, where are you?" Come to find out we were on opposite sides of the piano! Wanted to take her son home with me...he won $1000 playing BINGO and $50 playing scratch off lotto tickets! We met with her and the family a few nights after dinner. A good time was had by all! Our motto is, "Can't wait to do this again!!!" Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Constellation 10/30/08 - 11/10/08 Vista Deck Balcony #7171 This was a family cruise (sisters, brothers, cousins) of 13 adults. We took the Celebrity bus from Boston to Bayonne. A great way to go to New York, the only ... Read More
Constellation 10/30/08 - 11/10/08 Vista Deck Balcony #7171 This was a family cruise (sisters, brothers, cousins) of 13 adults. We took the Celebrity bus from Boston to Bayonne. A great way to go to New York, the only disappointment was that bus driver was over 2 hours late (which made for a somewhat upsetting start, (seeing that we were told to be at South Station by 7:am, and the bus would leave at 7:30am.)It didn't show up till 9:30am. The only thing that kept us feeling "safe" is that Celebrity HAS to wait for you if they are the ones who booked the bus. When we called Celebrity at 8:am they told us not to worry, the bus was on it's way. Good news was we had the whole bus to ourselves. Embarkation: We arrived in Bayonne ~2:45pm, and there were NO lines at all. We were on board in 15 minutes. We immediately went to our rooms. I had room 7171 Aft. balcony. I picked this room after reviewing the layout of the ship, this balcony was a larger one and we loved it. The room was a great location, near the aft elevators. (Always a short wait for the elevators) We found the room to be very clean, and a comfortable size. Bathroom was your typical ship size w/a small shower. Lots of closet space and our luggage fit perfectly under the beds. Ship: The Connie is a very clean ship, with a great crew. Not as pretty as the Millennium, but a nice ship. Service & Crew: Perfect! Every day my room was cleaned twice, nice fresh towels, ice in the bucket, bed made before I came back from breakfast, no matter where you go the ship is sparkling clean. A perfect 10! Thank you all for a wonderful cruise! Entertainment: Perry, Perry, Perry! We just loved Perry Grant. I'm so happy he was on our cruise. We heard lots about him, (from Cruise Critic) and especially the ladies in our group found him to be a GREAT entertainer. I love the songs he sings, (the real oldies) and in-between songs, he's hysterical! We laughed so much, he brought tears to our eyes! WE LOVE YOU PERRY! I only hope we can join you again someday! Itinerary: We stopped in Bermuda for 2 days. HEAVEN!!!! I love stopping in Bermuda. The weather was perfect and we went to our favorite beach (Horseshoe Bay) The water temperature was just right! Next stop was St. Maarten, and took a taxi to Orient Beach, another perfect day. Aruba was our 3rd stop and we booked a snorkeling trip thru Celebrity. Our last stop was suppose to be Labadee, but due to problems there, we went to Nassau instead. Although it rained, we hopped into a van and went to Atlantis. That is one grand hotel, if you've never been there, it's worth the cab ride. Food: The food at the buffet and dining room was excellent. We ate one night at the specialty restaurant and were disappointed. Several of us had the lobster, and each one complained that it was too salty...I mean so salty the lobster was tasteless. Others had the steak and it was good but nothing to rave about. All 13 of us all shared the same somewhat disappointed feelings about the food there. I will say that the service was excellent though. Coffee: I still haven't found a cruise line that makes a good cup of coffee! I brought my plastic melitta cone w/filters, along with a fresh bag of my favorite coffee, and was glad I did! Disembarkation: Very organized. Once our color code was called we were off the ship, grabbing our luggage, and in the taxi within 1/2 hr. Nice trip! Celebrity is still a great line. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Well, let's just start off with how immaculate the ship was! Everyday they were cleaning, painting, polishing, sweeping....this ship was the cleanest ship I have ever been on! They had 2 pool attendants mopping the deck everyday, ... Read More
Well, let's just start off with how immaculate the ship was! Everyday they were cleaning, painting, polishing, sweeping....this ship was the cleanest ship I have ever been on! They had 2 pool attendants mopping the deck everyday, they were like ninjas, the water would hit the deck and instantly disappear...they were great! ....the floors were so shiny and clean...the kids weren't too worried about slipping and sliding...and neither were the adults. The food was mediocre in the dining room...presentation lacked, but service was fabulous, as usual. There were no elaborate food decorations nor presentations around the buffet line.... If you remembered to find the fresh sushi cart, the sushi was fantastic! Never a busy station, always fresh, and cut to your liking right there! Worth the find! and free! The decor was over the top, flashy, bright, neon...we loved it! Our room was cozy, we had an ocean view balcony...they selected the room # for us so we could save a little extra $$. It was as expected; bathroom had amenities, nice lighting and nice 3x magnified mirror. Excellent closet space, could have used more hangers...room steward took care of that. This was the first time that I paid to upgrade to the balcony room-and it was wellworth the price to upgrade. It was so nice to rise early in the morning, go out on the balcony and watch the sun rise over the water...it was so peaceful and quiet...the sound of the water splashing, the birds following the ship, the evening starry sky...shall I go on?? If you want to spoil yourself a little bit, upgrade and you won't regret the price difference! Room service in the a.m. had minimal hot items to pick from. Would have liked more options, however, it was a nice selection of continental items. The kids loved the pool, waterslide, mini golf, and ping pong tables. Equipment was sub-par, but we had fun anyway. We participated in a number of group activities onboard. We played amazing race, golf putting challenge, battle of the sexes, bean bag toss, and digital scavenger hunt (highly recommend this one!). There were so many things to choose from each day it was hard to just pick a few to join in on. I am not certain it would be fair to totally discount the service for the kids club. However, during our cruise, there were less than 100 kids onboard. Our boys are 11. There were less than 10 kids in this age group on the entire ship. The kids club staff did NOT go out of their way during our cruise to make our kids feel like a priority. They cancelled most of the planned activities and really didn't give them that 'welcomed' feeling when they had activities w/enough kids. My son was a seasoned cruiser and knew that this wasn't the typical attitude of kids club staff. As for our cruise buddy, this was his first sailing, and he was sourly disappointed :-( We were raving about kids clubs and how awesome they are...and this was such a sour part of our trip. We made our own fun and made up for the sour spirit of the staff during our week. Everyone has bad weeks, and I guess the kids club suffered that week. Since we were there for Halloween, let me chat about that for a minute or 2... The emails that went out prior to our cruise were all about having 'tons of candy' and 'tons of fun'...well, the fun did happen, the candy did not! We had a pail full of crackers and m&m's and pretzels. There were designated stations along the cruise to stop for a trick or treat area. This would be good for the little ones, not for the kids over age 8..kids were rolling their eyes at the lack of candy and seemed disappointed. At the end of the trick or treating hour, kids met up in Frankenstein's lab for a fabulous dance party w/Freddy the mascot and the music was booming! I was even up there dancing! It was really fantastic. The decor around the ship was spooky themed, all the cruisers seemed to get into their costumes...it was a treat! We had our picture taken at one of the many picture opportunity back drops....it had all scary decor around the picture set and the backdrop was halloween themed and it was great! food in the buffet area was spooked too! We went to the salon for a lesser expensive spa treatment alternative. We booked for 3 choices $99 and it was worth it. If you book the salon, the prices are lower, and you are still able to get a massage for your scalp, neck, shoulders, arms, hands. My first time cruiser friend booked a full body massage for $129 as a special and wished she had booked one for every day of the cruise. She loved it. A nice tidbit about the spa area. There are steamrooms and saunas for ladies only. These were never busy and always clean. There was a nice whirlpool hot tub in the spa,,,,and I swear I was the only one to ever use it. I had it all to myself each time I went in there. It was covered by a glass dome and it was so nice and relaxing, I could have fallen asleep in there.... Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
We booked our own flights and spent two nights in Sydney before the cruise. Sydney is a terrific city - lots to see and easy to get around in. If you have time to arrive a couple days early, we recommend it. Our hotel was very close to ... Read More
We booked our own flights and spent two nights in Sydney before the cruise. Sydney is a terrific city - lots to see and easy to get around in. If you have time to arrive a couple days early, we recommend it. Our hotel was very close to Circular Quay so we walked from the hotel to the ship with our bags at 3:30. There was no line for check-in. We had a balcony stateroom and no complaints. Everything worked, there was decent storage space, and our steward took good care of us. We like this ship. The public spaces are nice, the entertainment is excellent, the buffet and dining room are great, and the service is terrific. The service and the food in the dining room at dinner were great. We had traditional second seating. We typically ate breakfast and lunch in the buffet, which is one of the best cruise ship buffets we have encountered. The food was tasty and hot and there was good selection. The grill in the buffet is excellent, with omelets at breakfast and good grilled sandwiches at lunch. We also had breakfast and lunch delivered to the cabin, which was just fine. The usual cruise ship activities were available. This ship has a rock climbing wall (which entertained people young and old) run by a guy who really knows his stuff. Service was terrific throughout the ship. We had been on this ship about nine months earlier and were impressed when our old waitress recognized us and greeted us on the first night even though we were not sitting at her table again. We've been on a lot of cruises, and this cruise had some of the best entertainment we've seen on a ship. RCCL hires top notch acts, and the production shows were very good. After we booked the trip but before we got on board, there were three itinerary changes. One stop in New Caledonia and two stops in the Loyalty Islands were cancelled, with Mystery Island, Champagne Bay, and an extra day at sea being substituted. Initially we weren't too happy with the changes, but then I read on this website about how terrific Mystery Island and Champagne Bay were, and in the end we weren't disappointed. In Noumea, New Caledonia, we took a tour to two lookouts, an old church, a cemetery of those killed at Guadalcanal, and the aquarium (which wasn't bad but couldn't compare to the one in Sydney). There is a big nickel smelter in Noumea, so it's a pretty industrial place and not particularly attractive. Someone else in our group rented a bike and saw the same sights on his own with no trouble. He also raved about the Tjibaou Cultural Center. All in all, there wasn't a whole lot there but it was nice to visit a country we had not been to. Mystery Island, Vanuatu is a very small, uninhabited island (with a small airstrip) that the ship tenders passengers to for the beaches and snorkeling. The locals set up a lot of souvenir stands and perform local songs and dances, so you could spend an hour or two here even if you're not a beach person. One side of the island is sandy and the other side (which has better snorkeling) was crushed shells. This was a fun stop and we enjoyed the snorkeling. In Vila, Vanuatu, one person in our group went scuba diving to the wreck of a cargo ship. He said the wreck was just okay but the dive boat and the dive crew were excellent. A couple of us did the jet boat ride, which was fun, and then the trip to the Ekasup cultural center, where we learned how the native inhabitants prepare and store food in case of cyclone, use medicinal plants, trap animals, and catch fish. We found it very interesting and would recommend this tour. It's very hot and humid here - bring water. Champagne Bay was another trip by tender to an island with very good snorkeling. There were locals set up along the beach selling souvenirs and showing local sea life, etc. The beach is gorgeous and we really enjoyed it here. In Luganville, Vanuatu, one member of our group walked around town on his own without any trouble while the rest of us went to the Lysepsep cultural center. The cultural center was interesting but not very sophisticated, so don't expect anything very polished. The people were very nice but there's not as much to see as at the cultural center in Vila, and it's much less structured. It's very hot and humid here, and you may have to wait awhile for the vans going back to the ship. The locals did an extensive series of dances for us, which was interesting and fun, especially seeing all the children dancing. Bring your camera. Isle of Pines was another trip by tender to a village on an island. We took a hike that had been recommended in our guidebook. It started on the road past the governor's house and some prison ruins and then proceeded down a narrow path along the cliffs, but the path clearly did not get a lot of use. If you're an experienced hiker, you'll be fine, but the trail is narrow with a drop off to the surf below (although the cliffs are not very high) and there were poisonous banded sea snakes on the trail, so be careful. The trail got narrower and narrower and we ended up turning back and walking through a couple shops before going snorkeling. This part of the island is very narrow, so you can easily walk from one side to the other. One side of the island was very windy and the water was cool, but the snorkeling was good around the sacred rock. On the other side of the island was a beautiful, quiet sandy beach with calm water. Out of Champagne Bay, Mystery Island, and Isle of Pines, only Isle of Pines has any real infrastructure. We took our own bags off and caught a taxi back to the airport - easy and painless. The ship had warned that the taxi stand in front of the ship would have very long lines and that people should buy the airport transfers instead. However, if you're willing to haul your luggage a little ways, you can flag down taxis anywhere around Circular Quay instead of standing in line at the ship. We really enjoyed this trip. We love Sydney and we really enjoyed the stops at Vila, Mystery Island, Champagne Bay, and Isle of Pines. The food, service, and entertainment were great on the Rhapsody. This is not a fast-paced trip since there are a lot of sea days and relatively few activities available in the ports. If you want a lounge chair and margaritas on the beach and some serious shopping nearby, this isn't the trip for you. However, if you're looking for something unusual and exotic with some great beach and snorkeling time combined with some really interesting cultural adventures, it's a great trip on a great ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Few problems at check in at Barcelona, for some reason my daughter's details were not immediately accepted by their computer system. We thought it was sorted only to find that the card was denied by security at boarding and once again ... Read More
Few problems at check in at Barcelona, for some reason my daughter's details were not immediately accepted by their computer system. We thought it was sorted only to find that the card was denied by security at boarding and once again at the first port of call. Little concerned that we would not like the inside cabin having previously had a balcony cabin on the Caribbean. The cabin was fine, perfectly adequate. Slept extremely well, in fact had difficulty waking in the morning due to the darkness of the cabin. Voyager of the Seas was we we expected it to be having been on the Mariner previously, a sister ship. Lovely vessel, spotlessly clean. Food in the main dining room and Windjammer was good. Waiters in the main dining room were excellent, Dominic had very good sense of humour. Enjoyed the gym on board. Ice Show was excellent. Cruise Director, Mercedes, was good but preferred Graham Seymour on the Mariner. The only time we experienced service below the standard expected was at the information desk. They do their job! We had a problem with our key card on the last night which took 3 attempts to resolve. Not very good when attempting to get luggage out by the deadline. Overall very good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
We flew from Glasgow to Palma in Majorca (our point of embarkation), and were transferred to the Island Escape by bus from the airport (all very efficient). Embarkation was not the best introduction to our first cruise. It felt more of a ... Read More
We flew from Glasgow to Palma in Majorca (our point of embarkation), and were transferred to the Island Escape by bus from the airport (all very efficient). Embarkation was not the best introduction to our first cruise. It felt more of a cattle market, where cruise staff appeared to be single minded in their intent on getting hold of our credit card details, than welcoming us to the cruise experience. Our initial impression on embarking was that the ship was huge, and we thought we would never find our way around, but our fears were unfounded and after a short time we pretty much had our bearings. (No doubt my husband would find that hard to believe!) Our cabin was basic, but adequate for a week's cruise. However, we did have to get the staff to rearrange the beds into an "L" shaped arrangement (our request on booking), to make better use of the floor space. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the greatest sailor, but I did manage to find my sealegs quite quickly (thankfully), unlike a few of our fellow travellers, who were conspicuous by their absence at meal times. However, the staff did try and prepare for inclement weather, by strategically placing sickbags around the ship, not that my mother had much to worry about. She proved to be a true sailor and I'm sure the boat could have been doing somersaults and it wouldn't have put her up nor down (apart from perhaps taking the precaution to don some water wings and relocate to a life boat!). We certainly found enough to do on board, and tried to fit in as many activities as possible, which made the cruise feel very hectic (but as we were only on board for 7 days we wanted to try everything on offer). A longer cruise would certainly have given us some breathing space and would have allowed us to take things at a more leisurely pace. However, we did enjoy the card competitions, dancing lessons, quizzes, demonstrations, etc, etc, etc. On top of all these activities we had to find time to eat, and the food was superb, with enough choice during our 7 days on board. We tried all the restaurants on offer, but felt our second time in the a la carte was not as good as our first visit. That apart, we did enjoy all the culinary delights on offer and, as you can imagine, it was weightwatchers for us on our return home. The entertainment staff were very hard working, putting on all the daily activities, then performing in the evening at the shows, (which they performed very professionally). We found all the staff to be very helpful and accommodating and especially enjoyed returning to our cabin to see how the cleaning staff had presented our towels each day. (To our delight they were very imaginative and comedic in their endeavours.) The port and shore excursions were very well organised, easy to book and professionally executed but, to be honest, we only really got a taste of these places, and we would like to return on another holiday to spend more time in each of them. Disembarkation was pretty straightforward. Our cases were put on the quay, which we then had to identify for the onward transfer by bus to the airport. Overall, it was an enjoyable first cruise. The lessons from that holiday will certainly be put to good use on any future cruises, ie duration of holiday, locations, cabin size, fully inclusive, time of year, weather, etc. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Background:Family of 4 including 13 yr old dtr and 17 yr old son. This was my 5th cruise, 4 CCL and 1 RCCL. Transportation/Embarkation:Flew into FLL because it was much cheaper than Miami. Rented a midsize car from Dollar for $35 using ... Read More
Background:Family of 4 including 13 yr old dtr and 17 yr old son. This was my 5th cruise, 4 CCL and 1 RCCL. Transportation/Embarkation:Flew into FLL because it was much cheaper than Miami. Rented a midsize car from Dollar for $35 using the "KISS" promo code. Spent the night in the Hampton Inn (very nice and clean and had a great free breakfast) near the Miami airport and returned the car the next morning to MIA lot. They provided free shuttle to the port. Arrived at 11am even though they tell you they don't board until 1230. We were given give a card for zone 8 as we entered the line and by the time we finished getting registered they called our zone to board. We were on the ship by 1140. They give you a sheet with helpful info that I recommend you read. We looked around the ship a little then went to Emilies for lunch which was very good. Tried to get into cabin early at 1pm but they wouldn't let us. Cleanliness/Maintenance: I thought the ship was beautiful and very clean. I was disappointed in how dirty some of the deck chairs were. And many of them were broken or missing the piece that elevates the head. Was also very disappointed that 2 of the 5 hot tubs were broken the entire week. The open ones were always full. We also had a problem with the answering machine on the phone in our cabin not working. Called guest services once, told room steward, and went to guest services twice before it was fixed 20 hours later. Cabin/Room Steward: Booked Guaranty Balcony and was upgraded to 8C. Had 2 twins,sofa sleeper and bunk. All of the beds were very comfortable. Pleased with size of room and storage space. Great location near aft of the ship. Was about 4 rooms from stairs/elevators that went right up to the buffet and pool areas. They provide nice robes(seen people wearing them all over the ship) and beach towels you can use at pool or even take off ship on excursions. They replace them each day. But will charge you $22 dollars if you lose them. You can also purchase new ones, I would have bought one if I had room in suitcase as they are definitely worth it. They also have shampoo and body wash in shower and a complimentary razors, toothpaste,Tylenol PM, ect in bathroom. Room steward was nice and did great job of keeping room clean and made great towel animals. Was not as friendly as some I have had in the past. Seemed upset if we were not out of room early and told us one day at 10am if we were not out by 12, he would not be back til night time. I know they have to be done by 12, but he was a little rude, as we had 2 hours. Did not call us by name at any time. Also, on the last day we were told we had to be out of cabin by 830. At 740am he knocked on the door lightly a couple times and before we could get to the door opened it and started to come in. He told us we had to be out by 8am but when I questioned it, he said 830 was ok. The balcony was beautiful. However, the lounge chairs are old and need to be replaced. Was the only thing in the room that looked old. Entertainment: The entertainment was good. We especially enjoyed the Karaoke Bar. They audition people the first few nights and have a final contest on Wednesday on the big stage. Tried the casino but did not win anything, didn't see many other people winning either. Also tried Bingo without any luck. But they did give away some nice money prizes. The big screen TV on the Lido deck was nice. Enjoyed the fact that you didn't have to go inside to hear information like the debarkation program as they showed it on the Lido TV so you could continue swimming or tanning. Kids Activities: My daughter was in Circle C and I was very pleased with how well it was organized. She loved the director Natasha. They did alot of cool things. My son was in Club O2 which is a really neat club with the bar serving soft drinks, a dance floor and a lounge to just hang out. They also have a huge arcade. Both of the kids had a great time and stayed busy the entire week. They made alot of good friends that they will probably keep in touch with for a long time. Pictures: They take pictures every night and they did a really good job of it with various backgrounds. They have signs saying they may take the pics down each night but ours were there all week. At $22 for a 8X10, I would recommend waiting to see which ones are best before buying. Dining: We requested early, traditional seating. They gave us late. At registration, they told us to go to the dining room at 130pm and they would change it. We just happened to walk by at 1pm and they were already doing this. They very willingly changed our time and honored our request for window table. We ate dinner in the dining room everynight and the food and service was great. Only made it to breakfast in dining room 1 day and it was good. Did buffet for breakfast rest of week as well as lunches. Did not find the lines to be as bad as I have heard. They have food everywhere, there one buffet in the very back, plus another buffet right in front of it with one side serving made to order stir fry. They also have a window on the side with deli sandwiches and on the other side there is mexican food. Then there is the Fish and Chips upstairs and grills next to the food. We also hit the pizzeria and grill late night on the very aft part of lido deck. Have great burgers,chicken sandwiches, fries, etc. There are 3 areas with ice cream/frozen yogurt. Many times they were either closed or one machine was broke or empty. We only did room service once as there was so much food on the lido deck. Excursions: We arrived in Puerto Rico at 5pm so decided not to book excursion. After walking off the pier, there were all kinds of people offering tours for $20 for 2 hours which was longer than we wanted since it would be dark. Then we found one for $10 for 1 1/4 hours. It was great. Nice smaller, clean tour bus with a great driver who gave a great tour. In St. Thomas we took the BOSS excursion which was $122 for 3 hours. It was alot of fun, you ride underwater scooters with your head in a bubble. You only were on it for about 30 minutes. You were able to snorkel while waiting you turn. The staff of that tour were awesome, very helpful and concerned about everyones safety. We had a guest who was confined to a wheelchair and they went out of their way to ensure he had a great time. We also took the Sky Ride which was $18, we had a beautiful view but thought it was a bit pricey but would still recommend it. In St. Maarten we took a taxi into town, was $8 round trip. Would recommend you take the water taxi instead, only $6 for as many trips as you want. We went to the Excursion talks and the Shopping Talks. The shopping specialist made a recommendation that we get copies of our passport at Guest services and take that offship instead of the original. When we went to do that, Guest services said that we should NOT do that as we would need original to go through immigration. Miscellaneous/Suggestions: Do bring the power strip for your room as their is only 1 outlet on the vanity. I would bring a cup with a lid to fill up with water, tea, lemonade etc. so you can carry it around or bring it back to the cabin as the plastic cups available are kind of small. Do try to walk around the ship alot, even on the last day I was finding areas I hadn't seen. If you want to use spa services, wait til end of cruise, they offer specials. I signed up on Wednesday to enter a "drawing" where you could bid for a service on Friday. Your bid had to be at least 50% of the original fee. I bid $100 for a $195 massage and was "picked" to receive it on Thursday evening. Funny thing, 3 other people I talked to also "won". Then they announced on Friday that all Spa services were 50% off. If you need Tylenol, Aspirin, or Sea Sick pills, they are free and readily available just outside the clinic area. Debarkation/Trip back home: Alot of people chose self assist where you carry your luggage off yourself. They were letting those people off by 8am. We did the traditional way and put our luggage out the night before. We were in Zone 7 and they announced we could get off before 9am. We walked right off and found 3 of our 4 luggages right away but had to wait 20 minutes for the other one, was getting worried but it showed up. We handed our customs form to the agent and walked out. They did not even check our passports. Our shuttlebus for Dollar Rental was just across the street right outside the door. Drove back to FLL and was in the airport before noon. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
This was our 6th cruise. 4-RCL, 1 Carnival, 1 NCL....and our daughter's first. We began our vacation traveling to LAX from Denver. Delta dogged us by changing our nonstop flights to a short layover in Salt Lake (and a tiny little ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise. 4-RCL, 1 Carnival, 1 NCL....and our daughter's first. We began our vacation traveling to LAX from Denver. Delta dogged us by changing our nonstop flights to a short layover in Salt Lake (and a tiny little plane which freaked out the family) Upon arriving in LAX, we were surprised when our luggage was on the baggage claim carousel when we got there. BRAVO! Then we hopped onto a Super Shuttle with our pirate friends who were also sailing with us. Next stop, the mouse house and the Fairfield Inn in Anaheim. The hotel was clean and convenient. The mouse house was fun and we found it to be a very different experience than WDW in Orlando. Sunday morning we were off to the port again by Super Shuttle. After having a car go flying out of control and coming a little too close for comfort, we arrived at the port. Quite different than the east coast ports we are used to. Embarkation was quick and painless. We found the ship to be very beautiful and in decent shape for its age. I was not accustomed to seeing the fingerprints and haze's on the chrome and brass (especially up high) as well as the large amount of light bulbs that were blown out in the public areas (I counted 13 blown bulbs in the solarium alone). This has not been my experience on other RCL ships. This was the only drawback to this beautiful ship. We had 8088, a corner aft JS with the most wonderful balcony. It has to be the nicest cabin we have had on any ship so far. Clean and fairly roomy for a smaller ship. Storage was a little shy for our luggage. It would have been fine for 2, but we had our DD aboard for her first cruise. Our cabin stewards' name was Junior. Boy was he great! He kept the ice bucket full and the cabin in great shape the entire trip. He was timely with all our requests and was one of the best stewards we have had to date. RCL somehow ran out of the mints for our cruise which i found unusual. Day 1 was explore the ship and unpack. We did get together with the cruise critic folks before muster drill in the schooner bar. Great group of people. We had an awesome time at sailaway with our friends Dave & Cindy. Champagne was flowing on the balcony and there was plenty of room for all 5 of us. We could have fit alot more. We Dinner was in the formal dining room, late seating. We ordered the prime rib. BEWARE! We found the beef extremely tough and avoided it except for the fillet. Other food was very good as always. We spent the evening at the schooner bar. The pianist was okay..We have seen better. Day 2 - Day at Sea - Seas were a little rough, but not too bad. The temperature was cool and I took some time to wander around the ship a little more and visited the hottubs which were not too crowded. We had a late lunch in the windjammer. I found the food there good and the service unreal. It was almost as good as the service in the formal dining room. Dinner was good in the formal dining room where we dined every night. Day 3 - Cabo - Tenders were from the ship. quick and frequent. We had booked the horseback ride thru the ship for the girls and the beach buggy excursion for myself and Dave. My DW wound up missing the excursion as she wasn't feeling well, but Cindy & my DD had a wonderful time. As for the beach buggy excursion, I thought it was going to be a bust when we arrived at the site. 4 to a car and 84.00 per person. We did take turns driving and it was surprising how much fun we had. Pay someone 84.00 to beat the heck out of a buggy on the beach/riverbed for a few hours...it was fun! If you book this, be aware the buggy's are manual shift transmissions and be prepared to get filthy from the dust. Another champagne sailaway on the balcony with our friends. We took in a movie to cap the evening off. Day 4 - Mazatlan - We again booked our excursion thru the ship. WE all went on the Sierra Madre, Concordia & Copala tour - MZ06. This was a fantastic tour! You got to see lots of culture, as well as some shopping. Irma was our tour guide and she was the best! She was very informative and active with our group. If you do this tour, be sure to save some cash for the last stop, Copala. Lunch is included and was very good. A band plays while you eat. As far as shopping, they have the most awesome masks there. The artist makes them from animal and fish skins. Prices topped out at 40.00 US but well worth it. These are truly works of art. They also have some carvings that are sold by the church that are nice. The evening on the ship concluded with the Quest. We won silver thanks to Dirtgirl who was our runner and some skinny guy from the schooner bar that was kind enough to help out with some of the more interesting quests. We even had the dentures this time (no names mentioned!) Day 5 - Puerto Vallarta - By far the nicest port. We booked a ziplining tour off the ship. La Vista tours (67.00 US pp)..10 minute cab ride from the port. Then off on a 40 minute ride into the mountains. My DW was nervous on this one as she is afraid of heights....the fear was quickly replaced by the fun. This place was by far the best excursion we have ever done anywhere. 15 ziplines await you. some thru, some above the canopy. Most are longer than the other places I have seen. The guides were very involved in the tour and kept us safe and well entertained. They send you out with a photographer and a video cameraman. Prices for the same were 35 & 45 respectively. Well worth the money for the video. They capture the whole experience and it comes out like a television show. This is a DO NOT MISS tour. Sailaway again with champagne on the balcony only to be turned back by a medical emergency. I hope the person is ok, but it does go to show that RCL takes good care of the passengers. Day 6 - Day at Sea - We just kicked back and went swimming in the solarium. Spent some time in the casino. And enjoyed each others company. We did go to see the adult comedian at midnight who was very entertaining. Day 7 - Day at sea - After getting our bags packed early, we took some time to get some sun on the balcony. Last trip to the casino for some blackjack and craps. And another fine dinner in the formal dining room. Randy and Rubin were our waiters at our dinner table. They were among the best I have had. Kudo's to the both of them. Day 8 - We arrived back in port where there was alot of smoke and haze from the Cali. fires. Getting off the ship was fast and painless, We booked the Malibu, Santa Monica,Beverly Hills tour thru the ship. I personally found this soso. I don't have alot of interest in actors etc. We has lunch on the Santa Monica Pier at the seafood place next to the restrooms (south side past the police station)...in one word, HORRIBLE!...We definitely will not go back there! It was nice to see some of the area as we had a late flight back to Denver. The smoke from the fires really made it a nasty day to be touring and the tour guide was not the best. In closing, this was a great vacation for all of us. Overall, the ship was very nice. The crew was exceptional, very personal, and very in tune with our needs. Food was good except the beef (I did miss Chops & Portofino's). The entertainment was average. What really topped off this cruise was the company... my DW, DD, pirate friends and cruise critic friends that we met. We had a wonderful time and would sail this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
After reading some of the less complimentary accounts of cruises on the Norwegian Star, I thought that I'd throw my experiences/impressions into the mix in hopes of reassuring some future cruisers that they don't need to be ... Read More
After reading some of the less complimentary accounts of cruises on the Norwegian Star, I thought that I'd throw my experiences/impressions into the mix in hopes of reassuring some future cruisers that they don't need to be worried about their upcoming adventures on the Star. This review of the Star is written from the perspectives of a first time NCL cruiser (previous six cruises have been with Celebrity, Carnival, and Premier's Big Red Boat), and with additional input from my sister who was a first time ever cruiser. Living in Southern California and wanting to keep things simple, the decision to do a seven day Mexican Riviera cruise was easy. For us, an ideal cruise would involve sailing from and returning to a port that's close to home and avoiding airports. The cruise lines that met the criteria were Carnival, Crystal, Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. The following factors led to our ultimate selection of Norwegian. Free Style dining with a relaxed dress code, lower cost than all except for Carnival, my sister would be pleased with any cruise experience since this was her first cruise, last year my husband and I had visited the same ports with Carnival, and at the time of booking, Norwegian was offering cabin upgrades and on-board credit. At no time did we regret our selection. Embarkation was fast, waiting less than 15 minutes until they called our assigned number for boarding. We didn't hear until we were well into our cruise that the ship had around 1,600 of the possible 2,240 passengers. A less than full ship may explain why seating in the Aqua and the Versailles was always immediate, there were lots of time options for specialty restaurants, seating in the theater was abundant, deck chairs seemed available, and though we selected the 10:00 a.m. debarkation, we were off the ship and through customs by 9:40 a.m. The only waiting we ever did on the Star was for some popular machines in the casino, and in the omelet line at the buffet and that was resolved when we discovered that we could order omelets at the Blue Lagoon. Whatever the reason for the fast and friendly service throughout the cruise, we were very pleased. There were activities offered on the Star that I hadn't found on previous cruises. The Murder Mystery Dinner made for a fun evening and was an opportunity to meet other passengers. If you like to meet people and get to know them better over the course of a week, then Free Style dining is probably not a good choice. The Mystery dinner was the longest time that we spent with other people during the cruise, yet at the end of the meal, we still only knew our dinner companions by their character names. Even so, for us, it was a cruise favorite. To participate, sign-up was required and was limited to 100 participants, so if you're interested, check the "Freestyle Daily" early for when and where to get your name on the list. (Our sign-up was at 9:00 a.m. on the first full day of the cruise and could have easily been overlooked.) Other activities that seemed unique to this cruise were the backstage tour conducted by four members of Jean Ann Ryan Productions, the Cruise Director Paul Baya's presentation regarding life on the Star, an afternoon Q&A with one of the guest performers, Magician Murray Sawchuck, and evening snacks served in the casino. On the evening of November 4, 2008, the Spinnaker Lounge was converted into Presidential Election Broadcast Central where you could support your candidate with drinks and photos, and lots of whoops and hollers. Missing from this cruise, but what seems to be a recent trend, was the Midnight Grand Buffet. I read in a Cruise Critic posting that there is a move in that direction by the cruise lines because of the time and effort involved in putting together a beautiful array of food that many passengers are too tired to photograph and enjoy. Our Transatlantic cruise on Celebrity Constellation in April presented a truly grand late night buffet but by the time we sailed on Celebrity Millennium in September, no midnight buffet. The Star did provide a lovely, delicious chocolate buffet but be ready for good eats and not good photo opportunities. The nightly visits to the Stardust Theater to see Jean Ann Ryan Productions or the guest performers, magician Murray Sawchuck or juggler Romano Frediano, were always a treat. The talent of the performers compared well to that of the performers enjoyed during other cruises, as did the vocalists found in the Atrium and at the various lounges. Combine the entertainment with a casino that stayed open as long as there was action, with late night snacks at the Blue Lagoon, and night life was good on the Star. A few other notes on items that concerned us before the cruise...Internet service on the ship was fast enough, as long as we weren't trying to send photos. The food was fine, especially the chilled soups, served each day in both of the "no charge" main dining rooms (Aqua and Versailles). Motion of the ship was minimal and all of the pills and patches we were careful to pack were never used. Cigarette smoke couldn't be avoided in the casino but otherwise the smoke wasn't as bad as we had feared. Though the cabin seemed smaller and tighter than those on other ships, the space and storage were sufficient. Towel animals did appear some nights, a cruising treat that I was afraid my sister would miss after my Celebrity animal drought. Television choices were, indeed, limited, especially after the first day, but there were always CNN and at least three movie choices at any time. Finally, even though we were worried about the incentive for the staff to perform well with the mandatory service fee applied by NCL, all of the crew provided excellent service and we felt had earned any additional gratuities. So in summary, pack your bags (you might want to include your own favorite shampoo and conditioner) and enjoy all that the Star has to offer, especially the eclectic and colorful art and design throughout the ship. We think that you'll have a fine time and consider it money well spent. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
OK...First time cruisers, Listen Up!! We are a large family of 7. My wife is employed by the Airlines and we live in Hawaii. We are very much a paycheck to paycheck type of family. We traveled as a family of 5. Two older kids ... Read More
OK...First time cruisers, Listen Up!! We are a large family of 7. My wife is employed by the Airlines and we live in Hawaii. We are very much a paycheck to paycheck type of family. We traveled as a family of 5. Two older kids couldn't afford to miss college. So, Mom and Dad and 16 yr. old girl, 11 year old boy and 6 yr. old girl packed up and headed for Los Angeles. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro. Its literally walking distance to the pier where you meet the ship, so its VERY convenient. We used "Zippy" shuttle for all of our ground transportation. EXCELLENT. The CP offered a shuttle to the ship on Sunday. We left the hotel at 10:30am and were on the ship by noon. The process of checking in and clearing customs etc. was simple. The initial entry onto the ship is overwhelming. The ship seems soo big. The staff was very friendly and point you in the right direction. We signed up for the soft drink program for the kids and then headed to lunch. Ate at our own pace and decided to visit our room. Probably no later than about 1pm and our room was ready to go. We had a family suite. We loved it. It offers 2 twin beds together as a queen, a set of bunk beds in a separate area and a fold out sofa in the living room area. So, it sleeps 5 perfectly.This was least expensive way per RCCL for us to travel as a family of 5. It was great. Be ready to be overwhelmed with things to do. We received the schedule of activities daily and you cant believe how much stuff is going on. That was our problem. We figured that since we paid for it we might as well get our monies worth. So, the first day we tried to do everything. After, missing a couple of activities, getting lost on ship, and generally frustrated we decided to just slow down and go with the flow. That was the best thing we did. Select a couple of things you might like to try or watch and really enjoy them. You will never be able to do everything. We did use the Ocean Adventures program for our 6 year old. She loved it. Well run, organized, safe, etc. Great. They offer it for selected age groups depending on who is booked on the cruise. Regretfully, not a lot of 11 year old boys. So... our son did sneak into the 12-16 year old activities and they do have a full arcade which he loved. Also, ping-pong tables by the main pool on deck 9 were fun because he could play with any age. One day I found him getting beat in ping-pong by a man who had to be 70 yrs old. Thats the fun of it, all ages mix on a cruise. Our 16 yr old daughter liked the freedom the ship offered. She could roam around and make her own decisions. Have a soda, have an icecream, go to the gym, use the internet, watch a movie, whatever...She was safe and had the means to eat and drink so she was very pleased with the cruise My wife loved the casino. In Hawaii we do not have legalized gambling so a casino is a rare find for us. Either travel to Asia or fly to Las Vegas. Coincidentally our cabin was located immediately below the Casino. My wife really enjoyed it and made alot of friends. I am sure she went every night but she won some and lost some. We had late seating for dinner. I would recommend it but, our 6 yr old did fall asleep at dinner twice. We loved getting dressed up. Formal nights are very cool. Pictures, flowers, great meals. Just like going to the prom. The staff that was assigned to us were very cool and we had so much fun interacting with them. My wife speaks multi-languages so she could speak some of the staffs native language. I think that was fun for the crew. The last comment is a little negative. It seems cruising is 50% the ship experience and 50% the destination. We are lucky to be from Hawaii. We traveled to Mexico. Visiting beaches and sun probably wasn't our best choice. We live that daily. If you come from cold weather or an inland state the Mexican Riviera would would be great. We are already looking into an Alaska Cruise with RCCL next summer. We made lots of friends and would recommend it to everyone. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
A little background info: My small traveling group consisted of my parents(50's & 60's) and my boyfriend and I in our late 20's. It was my 4th cruise, and my parent's first. No special occasion needed, we just all ... Read More
A little background info: My small traveling group consisted of my parents(50's & 60's) and my boyfriend and I in our late 20's. It was my 4th cruise, and my parent's first. No special occasion needed, we just all wanted a fun filled vacation...and that's exactly what we got. Pre-Cruise: My bf and I drove into Long Beach the night before, and picked up my parents at the airport the morning of the cruise. We were at the cruise ship terminal by 9:30 and did early check-in on the Queen Mary. The whole process took about 5 minutes and we were told to line up near zone 1 at 11:30. We took that time to explore the Queen Mary and have a light breakfast. Boarding began at 11:45, and we were on the ship by noon. It was an absolutely painless experience. We grabbed some lunch on the lido deck and ordered our first drink of the day. At 1:30pm on the dot, we were allowed access to our cabins. Cabin: We had room 5164 which was an obstructed view balcony. The life boats came almost up to the railing on the balcony, so while you couldn't look straight down and see the water, you had a perfect view of the horizon - and the having access to fresh air is unbeatable. Otherwise the room was just fine, a standard cabin with plenty of storage space, comfy bed, and good water pressure in the shower. My only complaint with the room is that the TV could use an upgrade, it was very dark and grainy. Service: Service throughout the week was wonderful. Our cabin steward was always on top of it. Though we didn't see her a whole lot, when we did - we were always addressed by our names, our cabin was made up twice a day, a towel animal with turndown service and our ice bucket remained full the entire week. All the other employees encountered were friendly and helpful. Dining: We had a table for 4 people during the late seating with the best head waiter we've ever had. "Mr. Red" and his assistant could not have done a better job. The food was consistently good, all of the soups I tried were excellent. The lobster wasn't even tough like I remembered on previous cruises, it was small though - so be sure to order two! The buffet had a good variety of food for lunch, the hamburgers from the grill were tasty as were the sandwiches from the deli. The pizza could have used some improvement in my opinion, but there were people gobbling it up all week - so it might just be me. Breakfast did get a bit tedious, though the made to order omelettes were great and you could order eggs over easy there as well. We only used room service once, the order took about 20 minutes. Entertainment: In the main showroom there were a few Vegas style shows, a few comedians, and on the last night a Carnival Legends show where your fellow cruisers were the impersonators. It was a lot of fun, and there happened to be quite a few talented people on our ship! Other entertainment was pretty standard - casino, bingo, hairy chest contest, karaoke, trivia, board games, mini golf, etc...we were never bored. If we weren't doing something, it was because of choice, not a lack of activities. One thing not to miss is the Galley Tour. The kitchen is nearly as big as the dining room! Ports: In Puerto Vallarta we did the Tequila Factories Tour through Carnival. We had an excellent tour guide, Raul. There were two factories on the tour, one was a small family owned business, and the other a larger scale operation. Both had delicious tequilas and were generous with the tastings. In Mazatlan my boyfriend and I decided to wing it while my parents went on the city and shopping tour. We met up with another couple that was taking a taxi to the El Cid resort, so we tagged along. The taxi was a lot of fun, open air - sort of like a golf cart with a bigger engine. Not for the faint of heart. The El Cid Marina Resort was beautiful, management didn't seem to mind us being there as we ordered a couple drinks by the pool. We heard from some guests of the hotel that there is a free shuttle to their sister property El Cid Moro on the beach, so gave it a try. This resort was directly on the beach. We had lunch there, and spent some time playing in the ocean. The water temp was over 80 degrees and felt wonderful! I've been to Cabo San Lucas several times on my own before, so I was able to play the tour guide for my parents. We only had to wait about 10 minutes for a tender. We walked all along the marina and downtown to show them Cabo Wabo, the Gigglin Marlin, etc... we made it to the Mango Deck and set up camp there for a while. It was extremely hot that day, so we ran back and forth between the ocean and the beach umbrella. Again, the water was perfect, though the under toe was much stronger than I remember it. Overall: It was the smoothest, best cruise I've been on. I would recommend this ship and itinerary to everyone. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
CB is better the second time around. This was our third cruise with Princess and our second time sailing on the Caribbean Princess. We are a family of 4 and prefer cruising over land vacations because you are constantly moving and ... Read More
CB is better the second time around. This was our third cruise with Princess and our second time sailing on the Caribbean Princess. We are a family of 4 and prefer cruising over land vacations because you are constantly moving and there is something for everyone to do what ever your interests are. Standing in line at an amusement park for 2 hours in the blistering heat for a 30 second ride is not our idea of fun. Embarkation We arrived in San Juan at 11:30am. We retrieved our luggage and met the Princess Representative for our transfer to the ship. A week prior to leaving members of my roll call were mentioning that Princess had emailed telling them not to come to the dock for check in until 4:00pm. I never received any notification so I just proceeded as planned. We boarded the Princess Transfer Bus at around 12:30pm. When everyone was seated the bus driver announced that he would be taking us on a tour of San Juan. At first I thought that we were on the wrong bus because I didn't reserve an excursion for San Juan. But, the driver confessed that Princess was not ready for us yet. Thank you Princess for the free tour, we didn't have plans to see San Juan so this was a bonus. We drove around town and the bus driver gave us facts about Puerto Rico, pointed out government buildings, beaches and other tourist attractions. We stopped at the fort for an hour and took a tour. We arrived at the dock at around 3:30pm and it took about 25mins to check in and board the ship. The Stateroom We had a balcony stateroom mid ship on the Baja deck. This was the perfect location. It was cabin B422 and it was located by the panoramic lifts. We really enjoyed being mid ship because it was a convenient location from any part of the ship. There were 4 of us in the room myself, my wife and our two teenage sons. We wanted to book a mini suite but at the time of booking nothing was available. The sleeping accommodations were as followed. Two twin beds formed a queen size bed, one single bed dropped from the ceiling and a cot was brought in as the forth sleeping arrangement. You make think that this sounds crowded. You are correct. However, since the four of us were only in the room together to sleep it wasn't a problem. The nice thing about traveling with teenage sons is that they are never around and they don't require a lot of bathroom time. Over all, Ding our steward always managed to keep our room organized, clean and there were always towels and soap available. Dining We had anytime dining and will never go back to traditional. This form of dining really was the main reason our trip on CB was better than the first time. In 2006 we had late seating. By the time we finished eating we were either too late or too tied to see the shows or enjoy the evening. Early seating is too early. We like eating with different people each night because the conversations were always fresh and you were able to learn from the experiences of other people. I found out about the chefs table from a passenger one night and we are definitely going to do it on our next cruise. The Palm Dining room is the best kept secret for anytime dining. It is located on deck 6 like the Coral but, you have to go up to deck 7, walk across the ship and down one flight to deck 6 to get to it. I remembered this from our first experience on CB in 2006 when we stumbled into it accidently. We went to dinner between 7:00 and 7:30. Never a wait if you are willing to share a table. Make reservations for a table for 2. We met another couple on our first sea day and ate with them in the Palm. No wait to seat 4 people together with other passengers at the same table. Specialty Restaurants We did not attend the first formal night in order to join our new friends at Sabatini's that night. It is well worth the up charge. The waiter told us to just pick the entree and he would take care of the rest. I ordered the veal chop. It melted in my mouth it was so delicious. This is a traditional Italian nonstop eating event. They just kept on bringing us different food. The only thing I passed on was the sardines. On our last night we ate at Sterling's. I have to say although it was good it was better in 2006. My filet was very salty this time. Entertainment This time we experienced the live entertainment rather than MUTS. The comedian, Hypnotist, and the Piano Man production were all entertaining. We did enjoy MUTs on our first trip but just didn't make time to see a movie this on this voyage. Children's Clubs As I mentioned earlier we traveled with our two sons who are 13 and 16. Our children first experienced cruising when they were 5 and 8. We did a combination of Disney and RCI 4day cruise. My children are not your average kids. They did not enjoy the Magic Kingdom at all but favored Epcot Center. That being said they never stopped talking about the cruise. That works for me because I am not a big fan of amusement parks. This time however I was a bit nervous because since they are both teens they were going to be in the same group and these two do not get along at home. I don't know what happened in the teen group. Maybe they brought in the Hypnotist. But ever since we got back they are the best of friends. I think they discovered that they have one thing in common. That being girls. There were 43 teens registered but not all of them took advantage of the club. My oldest was the only 16yr old boy in the group so he was the token male. The two brothers met two sisters the same age and they all hung out the entire time. They played video games, watched movies, one night the girls had to dress the boys up as girls. I would have loved to been able to take pictures. My wife was not all that pleased when my son confessed that he had to borrow her dress and that she had to help them remove the eye liner. The children's club always keeps my children entertained no matter what age they were at the time of sailing. Ports of Call and Excursions This was a Southern Caribbean itinerary which includes Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, Tortola, and St Thomas. Five ports in 7 days are a bit much for me. I would have given up Tortola for an extra sea day. We have done Eastern and Western Caribbean Cruises but the Southern is my new favorite. Barbados- We had planned on touring the Harrison Cave. I booked it through Princess on line when it first became available. Princess needs to do their homework because the cave was closed on the day that we were in port. The excursion was not canceled until a week before we sailed. By that time the beach excursion was waitlisted. We decided that we would do something on our own. Boatyard beach was recommended by Princess so we headed there. It would have been nice if we were informed that between taxi and admission that it was going to cost $100 for a family of 4. In the morning we listened to the port and shopping channel and they advised to take a credit card and a small amount of cash. This translated to me as $150.00 in cash. After transportation and admission I was left with $50.00. Which I didn't think was bad until I tried to buy lunch. Now, we live in New York on Long Island where the cost of living is high compared to the rest of the U.S., but $30.00 for a salad is even stretching it for us. All in all we did enjoy the beach. The sand and water were amazing. They had a trampoline and a rope swing that the kids enjoyed and we were just happy to be there. The only negative experience I encountered was the constant badgering from the guys renting the Jet Ski. I didn't want to be rude which is very difficult for a New Yorker so I just kept saying no thank you. Finally, after the 25th time I stopped pretending that I was from Connecticut and gave him a N.Y. get the hell out of my face no! Problem solved. St Lucia- This Island was lush and beautiful. We did the 4wd safari. It was like touring Jurassic Park. We stopped at banana plantations where the tour guide explained how the banana plants grow and get harvested. We sampled bananas coconuts and banana ketchup. The tour was very educational. We walked down a very steep path to the water fall. It would be a challenge if you have a problem keeping you balance or just walking in general. If you take this tour wear water shoes for traction. Do not wear sneakers because you will be crossing streams by stepping on rocks. Antigua- We have a friend who lives on this island so we got a personal tour. We also did the Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour. This was a zip line and challenge course. It was our first zip line experience and I thought my wife was going to back out but she surprised me. Tortola- We didn't see much of this island. We got off of the ship and just walked around town to do some shopping. St. Thomas- This was our third time at this port and we enjoy it every time. We did the Sea Blaster Marine Snorkel Excursion. This was a fun and exciting adventure that we all enjoyed. The speed boat takes you out to sea and you get drenched all the way there. We were laughing so hard because my wife sat in the seat just behind the edge of the canopy and the water poured on her. She had to put her snorkel mask on just to be able to see. The snorkeling wasn't that great not a lot of fish. I may have seen more if I had my face in the water instead of trying to keep track of where the kids were. My thirteen year olds feet were cramping so I pushed him back to the boat while he kept his face in the water. All of a sudden I heard a scream from under water. Apparently I pushed him face to face into a barracuda. More fun times. On the way back we enjoyed views of the shore line as we drank never empty cups of rum punch. Disembarkation- I hate this word because it means the end of the vacation. It was very smooth and timely. In conclusion we had another fantastic voyage onboard the Caribbean Princess. We purchased FCC's with plans on sailing May 2011. However, when we got home we decided that we couldn't wait that long so we are headed back on CB for a Repo cruise in May 2009. Sorry kids this time it will only be me and your mother.  Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Celebrity Millennium - 14 November 2008 - 9 nights cruise from Sydney to Auckland This was our third cruise and our first with Celebrity. We were traveling for the first time with our 7 month old son. No time like the present to get ... Read More
Celebrity Millennium - 14 November 2008 - 9 nights cruise from Sydney to Auckland This was our third cruise and our first with Celebrity. We were traveling for the first time with our 7 month old son. No time like the present to get him into cruising right? Getting there and Embarkation We traveled from Canberra to Sydney on the morning of the cruise. We actually took a Murray's bus which was quick and cheap and took us straight into central station. We caught a train from Central to Circular Quay were, once we stepped out of the train station, we had fabulous views of the Millennium docked at the International Passenger Terminal. Our paper work said embarkation started at 3.30pm. We arrived at about 1.00pm and found almost no queue. At the terminal you first need to drop your bags off with the guys with the trucks. Make sure your bags are labeled with your cruise luggage tags and make sure you take your passport and booking info with you (unlike the guy we saw digging through the back of the truck to try and find his bag to retrieve something.) Next you will pass through security x-rays, which for us only had about 3 people in the line. Next you will head upstairs and fill in your outgoing passenger card and cruise line health sheet. Then head to immigration and the finally onto check-in. The whole process only took us about 10-15 minutes, but chatting with another passenger later, he said he left the ship to go and take some photos from the dock only to find he had to queue at the back of the security line with passengers that were checking in and he had to wait over an hour and a half. Stateroom We originally booked an inside cabin for the three of us. A few weeks before sailing we noticed we had been upgraded to an ocean view, on the same deck, just across the hallway on deck 2. We were traveling with our 7 month old son and the room was all ready with our cot and infant life vest. Our cabin steward Douglas was great, the room was always made up in the shortest times and all requests to him were completed quickly and with a smile. We found the room to be just as expected. One side of the room was a wall of mirrors which meant the room never felt small. We ended up leaving our cot up the whole time rather dismantling each day and we still had room to sit on the small sofa. The bathroom was big enough for one person at a time. We were pleasantly surprised to find the shower was big enough for us to shower with our 7 month old in our arms without banging our elbows. Weather and Sea Conditions The weather was a mixed bag, rainy on the way across the Tasman, and then mostly clear, partly cloudy days around 20 degrees. The rain on the way across didn't affect the seas, which were pretty flat. We never felt sea sick, but on the first day we felt a bit drunk while walking down the passageways, as we would stagger and bump the walls. Dunedin was windy and freezing, but apparently just a few days earlier the weather was in the 30s. We never thought it warm enough for laying by the pool, but some did while we were cruising around White Island and when in port in Tauranga. Ports and Shore Excursions With tours, my husband and I were a little limited as we were traveling with our 7 month old son. We couldn't take any taxis because we didn't take a car seat with us. Our plan all along was to just check out the cities were possible, but mainly just relax and enjoy the ship. Luckily New Zealand is close enough for us that we can return at another time when our kids are older and really get out into the wilderness. We could have done bus tours, but we would never have done any of the ship tours because they were far too expensive, especially when converted from US to AUS Dollars. NZ Fiords - We arrived in Milford sound early in the morning (7.30 - 9.30am) and because of the second time change (clocks go forward one hour on first day across Tasman and again on third day) there weren't that many people around. The naturalist commentator said it was the clearest he had seen Milford Sound in all the cruises he had been on. It really was beautiful with light hitting all the fresh greenery on the steep mountain walls. Because of recent rain there were lots and lots of small waterfalls cascading down and the large waterfalls were really gushing. Within only 30 minutes of entering the sound, the weather closed in and it started to rain. So bad luck to anyone that didn't wake up early enough to view the sound with the clear skies. We then cruised through Doubtful Sound from approx 12.15pm - 1.45pm and Dusky Sound 2.45pm - 5.00pm. Dunedin - The ship offered a shuttle into town for US$6 per person each way. We didn't go into Dunedin but had a quick walk around the port town. We only stayed out for about 45 mins as it was windy and freezing cold. Christchurch - Port of Lyttleton, the ship shuttle into town was US$7 per person each way. As it's a working port you're not allowed to walk out of the port. There is a free shuttle bus that takes you out of the port into the town of Lyttleton. We then caught the public bus (#28) into Christchurch. It cost NZ$2.80 each and included a 2 hour transfer which you could use to get back to the town of Lyttleton within 2 hours. One of the stops on the bus route was a cable car ride to the top of the mountain/crater rim. The driver of the free shuttle was very helpful and explained how to get the public bus. We walked around Christchurch city for a few hours looking a various shops and craft stalls set up in the square. Wellington - The ship shuttle into town was US$5 per person each way. We walked into town which took about 20-25mins (with a stroller). After walking up and down the main street we went on the cable car which takes you to the top of Wellington and to the Botanic Gardens. The cable car was NZ$5 each return and gave us good views of the bay, city and the ship in the distance. Volcanic White Island - We arrived close to the island at about 4.30pm and were able to get a great view into the centre of the crater. The Captain circled us around the island once and then basically stopped so we could enjoy the view during dinner at 6.00pm. It was great viewing and we got quite close. The best place to view it from is the top deck above the pool, if the weather is poor then try the Cosmos nightclub. Tauranga - There was no shuttle as the port is right in the town. We walked around the nice main street, then back to the ship. There are also lots of beaches around this area within walking distance. Auckland - we had a flight back to Sydney at 12.45. We didn't do any site seeing in Auckland. At every port there were NZ tourist info people available to answer questions and provide you with maps. Just another note on the ship tours. We were talking with a lovely American lady on the public bus on the way into Christchurch and she said she did a ship tour the day before which was a train to the Taieri Gorge. She said it cost her US$200 each and when she got to the train station she saw she could have purchased the ticket for NZ$49. She felt a bit ripped off and hence was on the public bus with us the next day. Children's Club At 7 months old, our little guy was too young to participate in the kids club, but we were allowed to take him to the toddler room and stay with him while he played. We went up there once and he had a play with some toys and with a sit/stand and spin activity table. He seemed to enjoy it. The staff also offered for us to check out a box of toddler toys to take back to our room, we didn't take it as we brought enough toys from home to keep him occupied. The kid's club area looked excellent and we wouldn't hesitate to let him attend when he is older. There weren't very many children on this cruise so the area was very quiet. Entertainment The Cruise Director James Calhoun was energetic and exactly what you expect from a cruise director. We had the opportunity to meet him when he welcomed us to the Cruise Critic Connections Party. Our get together was organized for the first day at 10.30am and it was great to meet the other cruise critic members. We were only able to stay for half and hour as our boy was hungry and tired, but I believe the other members chatted on till at least midday. I highly recommend going to your connections party. An interesting note that James told us at the CC party was the bulk passenger make up on the ship. Approx 700 Aussies, 600 US and a couple of hundred each of Canadian and New Zealanders. First time he said that Aussies out numbered Americans on one of their ships. As we had our 7 month old with us, and he was exhausted by 7.30 at night, we didn't attend any of the shows. This didn't worry us at all as we are not really 'show' people. So while we can't pass judgment on the quality of the entertainment, here is the schedule of what was on: Friday 14th - A taste of things to come show Saturday 15th - Simply Ballroom show Sunday 16th - Comedian Louis Johnson Monday 17th - Vocalist & Multi-Instrumentalist Hayden Smith Tuesday 18th - Boogie Wonderland Show Wednesday 19th - No theatre show, other activities instead Thursday 20th - iBroadway show Friday 21st - Starring You Gala Awards Night, featuring fellow guests as they sing dance tell jokes etc. Saturday 22nd - Australian Phantom of the Opera Donald Cant singing Speaking with other passengers at the end of the cruise, they were disappointed that there wasn't a show on every night. Activities They have an ongoing activity called 'Starring you' in which people participate in various activities and winners are picked for the Awards Show. Things such as 'Celebrity Singing Star', 'Karaoke', 'Best photographer', 'Everybody Dance' and 'Jokester'. So remember to bring your best jokes and take some good pictures along the way if you're not a singer or dancer. (Entering best photo costs a couple of bucks but you get to keep the print after people vote) There was about 20 photos entered and there were really lovely picture of the sounds, and other animals seen on various tours. The Celebrity Today brochure listed all activities for each day, these included movies, cards, basketball, paddle tennis, line dancing, darts, bingo, several trivia sessions, board games and enrichment seminars to name a few. While we didn't get really involved in any of the organized activities, we did enjoy sitting in the background, people watching and have a laugh. Food and Service We thought the service on board was excellent. Our waiter and assistant waiter were lovely and all other waiters and servers we met were great. We had the early seating for dinner, and had a small table for just the three of us. The menu was different every night and always included fours choices for Appetizers, two or three soups (usually one cold one) and two or three salads, four mains and about five dessert choices. Our waiter always brought around a tray with a selection of the desserts so you could see what each looked like before ordering. Often this meant we ordered dessert when we really hadn't planned to. The Baked Alaska parade on the second formal night was a bit of a laugh, and the dessert was ok, but it just didn't live up to the one that my mum cooks. The lobster was great as were the crepe suzettes. We had breakfasts either in the main dining room or in the buffet. The main dining room was always less crowded and it was nice just to relax and have someone bring us our meal. Up in the buffet there was a large choice, but not of the things we normally each for breakfast. There were three or four egg/omelette chefs around cooking eggs as you like them or omelettes with any choice of about 15 fillings. The croissants were also nice. Bar staff always had a Bloody Mary special for breakfast for $2 if you like that sort of thing. We had lunch again in either the main dining or the buffet. The main restaurant was closed for lunch on port days. The buffet food is ok, but we didn't really eat any of the pre prepared dishes as they weren't very hot. We had the freshly made pasta a few times where they cook up your ingredients in a pan then add pasta and either a cream or tomato based sauce. At least it was always hot and fresh. The sandwich bar at the aft of the buffet made lovely sandwiches or rolls if you just wanted something light. Afternoon tea was served at 4.00pm and it made us laugh seeing people queue up for more food as though they are starved and haven't eaten for days. Tea and coffee was available 24/7 as were a large variety of free water based drinks such as Punch, Pass-o-guava, American style lemonade, apple juice and iced tea. There were at least three different drinks of the day, each day. Alcoholic ones were $5 plus 15% gratuity and non-alcoholic ones were $4 plus 15% gratuity. There were two formal nights, which were quite fun. Pretty much everyone we saw was dressed up for the occasion, which was nice. We thoroughly enjoyed to food, particularly the fact that we didn't have to cook it, serve it up or clean it away. Disembarkation During your cruise you are required to fill in a disembarkation questionnaire. On it you detail what arrangements you have for disembarkation day, such as flight times, and whether you will be using ship transfers or making you own arrangements. We asked guest relations how much the ship transfers were to Auckland airport and couldn't believe they were charging about US$60 each. We decided to catch the Airbus http://www.airbus.co.nz/home/ which was a short walk from the pier (few hundred meters about 10 mins) which cost us NZ$15 each. As with most cruises, you need to have your bags packaged and outside you door by midnight the night before. Our disembarkation meeting time was 7.40 and we were led off the ship at about 7.50. Disembarkation was very smooth and quick and our bags were waiting for us in the correct color and numbered area. We were at the Airbus stop by 8.00am and at the airport before 9.00pm. Gratuities If you wish the line to charge the gratuities to your sea pass card, you must sign a request delivered to your room. On the request you list how many passengers you are paying for and you have the option at the bottom to add any additional tips to whomever you like. We chose to prepay as it meant we didn't have to get any USD. Other tips Make sure you bring you swimmers for Thalassotherapy pool in the Aquaspa. It's a large heated (about 34 degrees) pool with pressure jets under a glass roof. It was never crowded when we were there and it was really relaxing - it's also adults only and free. Pack a jumper if you plan on being outside viewing the NZ Fiords. Be prepared for the photographers. We had about five photos taken at each formal night, plus embarkation photos, portraiture photos, debarkation at port photos etc. At least they weren't very pushy about doing them, if you said not thanks they left you alone. Unfortunately the photos are very expensive. US$16.95 for embarkation/port photos and US$20 for formal night or portraiture photos. They did have package deals with were for 6 photos, cruise DVD, leather wallet and some stock photos for about US$110, but that was just too expensive for us. I also asked if you could purchase the digital file for a photo, which of course you could - for US$75 per file. I was hoping that they would discount the photos on the last day, but nope, buy them or they will just throw them out. They make a DVD of each cruise, so if you want a good souvenir make sure you participate in the activities so you appear in the video. Our ship was booked out, but it never felt full. The Cosmos lounge/nightclub on the top deck was a great place during the day with great views and not many people. On debarkation day, avoid the ocean cafe buffet. It was so busy up there that you couldn't get a seat. You're better off going to the main restaurant for breakfast. Conclusion We had a really wonderful, relaxing cruise; especially given we were traveling with our 7 month old - Who I have to say was the perfect child. He didn't squeal during dinner, he slept 10-11 hours each night; he played quietly while we did various activities and he looked very spiffy wearing his tuxedo bodysuit. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Independence of the Seas - November 19 - 23/08 Boarding - We had been pre-warned that boarding was going to start late because the US Coast Guard was going to be inspecting her as she was arriving in the US for the first time. ... Read More
Independence of the Seas - November 19 - 23/08 Boarding - We had been pre-warned that boarding was going to start late because the US Coast Guard was going to be inspecting her as she was arriving in the US for the first time. Boarding actually started about 2 PM. Once the line started moving it really didn't take long. We were entitled to use priority boarding therefore we were checked in and on-board within 10 minutes. However, they should have moved us along sooner from the reports I've seen from others. We are D+ and should have been sent to a different line. Even though it was 2 PM the cabins were not ready. We headed to the Windjammer for lunch shlepping our luggage with us. It was crowded but it didn't take us long to find a table. We had no problems for the most part, finding a table at lunch or breakfast throughout the cruise. After lunch we headed to our cabins. We were in balcony cabins on deck 6. The cabins were spotless with absolutely no sign of any wear at all. Although the bathroom is small the shower stall has an enclosure instead of the curtain which was so much better. No water all over the floor. There are flat screened TV's now, something we've never had before. The bed wasn't too bad. The new bedding is wonderful. Our balcony had 2 chairs (not very comfortable) and a small table. There was an issue with our friends' balcony. Their neighbor's were smokers of cigars. The cigar ash floated over to their balcony. The smell alone is bad enough but the deck had all this ash over it. She told the steward about it and asked him to vacuum the balcony at the time he was doing their stateroom. There is plenty of storage room. As we were only on a four day cruise we didn't really have a lot with us - we were using hand luggage only. From there we went exploring. One of the first things to impress me was the H2O zone. It was at least as big as the adult regular pool area. This made me realize just how much RCL is gearing to families. We walked down the deck to the adult pool area which is quite nice although exactly the same as all other ships. From there we went to the Solarium. I have to say, the cantilever's hot tubs were great. We used them several times during our short cruise and not once was there any crowd. Even though I knew it, I was disappointed there was not retracting roof over the solarium as there is on the Radiance class. We could have used it on this trip. We took a look into the SPA which is where the boxing ring is. We were never able to find out it how it was utilized however that was of no interest to me anyway. The exercise area is huge. We checked out the prices at the Spa and thought they were outrageous. We went to the back of the ship to check out the sporting area. The Flowrider was fun to watch. It was open pretty well the whole time we were onboard. The rock climbing wall was also open most of the time and very well utilized. We played a few games of mini putt. We went to Chops to make a reservation but they told us they were completely booked via the internet. They said the would put us on the waiting list. As we are D+ I did ask if we would get priority waitlisted and I received a blank stare. We walked across the floor to Portofino's and were able to make a reservation for that evening for 6PM. We went directly back to the stateroom as I wanted to call the concierge and ask about the priority waitlist. She was no help at all. So much for "helpful concierge". We did get called from Chops and did end up with a reservation for the second night however we really didn't get the help I had received on other cruises from the concierge. Back to Portofino's - the food was delicious and we completely enjoyed ourselves. We went to Chops on night two and again had a delicious meal which we completely enjoyed. The other two nights we ate in the main dining room. If it hadn't been for the excellent service of our waiter, his assistant and the head waiter we would not have gone back the fourth night. The food was blah to bad. We have noticed this on our last few cruises and there does not seem to be any improvement at all. Our waiter was excellent - he was run off his feet. We arrived on time at 6PM. He served us immediately. Nearly an hour later the other four arrived. This also happened on our last night so I have to assume they arrived late every night. I don't suppose it was too bad for the first two nights as we weren't there but for the last two it was very difficult on our wait staff as they had to do everything twice. The other three (not me) decided they wanted to try out the ice rink. They enjoyed it but the skates that are provided are certainly not very good. Nevertheless they did have a good time and I played photographer for them. We went to the last ice show on Saturday afternoon. It was absolutely fantastic. Not one error that I could see and with such a small ice surface that is a huge feat. We only attended one evening production show which was very well done. We wandered the Promenade several times. We stopped at Sorrento's for Pizza - not bad. They had the usual "stuff" for sale in the center isle as the week wore on. We did visit the Diamond lounge on three evenings. It is very nice but it was far too crowded, especially the first night. We found out later there were over 1,600 repeaters on board with at least 800 being platinum and over. I would guess then that the D/D+ were at least 400 of that. I also feel there were a lot of people in there on the first evening who were not suppose to be as on the subsequent evenings the concierge or one of her staff were outside the door checking everyone's status. I was not impressed with the concierge. I asked one thing of her and she wouldn't even try. The bartenders were extremely harried. The bar setup is extremely poor. It's like working at a kitchen counter at home. There should be a proper bar so the bartenders can be on the other side. It would make their lives a lot easier. We didn't notice as much smoke as usual on this cruise except when we headed to the ice rink. We had to go past the sports bar which had a very strong smell of cigarette smoke. We were on this cruise more for R&R and to look the ship over therefore we didn't do much more than I've already indicated. The biggest bother was disembarking. We decided to self-disembark as we only had hand luggage. Now there is a program that needs to be revamped. It was utterly chaotic. People were hauling off huge and multiple suitcases, struggling down narrow stairs pulling and pushing not only their huge suitcases but people around them. Then, once off, they stood around at the end of the gangway waiting for their friends and family. They were extremely rude to staff who told them they had to move on as they were now blocking everyone else. As a matter of fact far too many of these people were extremely rude. We took the elevator down to deck 2 not anticipating the crowd that would be there. There was an older couple on the elevator who was staying on deck two. They simply wanted to get to their cabin. There were people in the elevator area who were yelling ad screaming at them and wouldn't listen or let them through. As much as I enjoyed the ship and would recommend it to others, fellow passengers left a lot to be desired. What I have described above was only an example of the behavior throughout the cruise. We've never sailed with such cold rude people before. Yes, there are always some who are like that, but this time we found most if not all we ran into were like that. The Independence is a beautiful ship. One of the things we did find there was hardly if any, movement even though the weather was not particularly good and we had quite some winds, there was no swaying movement at all that we could discern. Although we prefer the smaller size of the Radiance class, we would highly recommend this ship to anyone with children. They definitely cater to families. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Princess Sapphire 11/15/08 Two months got the cruise bug again. This time we are taking two adult daughters and a friend. Booked a balcony guarantee for three and a mini guarantee for us. In short order we got cabin assignments; Baja ... Read More
Princess Sapphire 11/15/08 Two months got the cruise bug again. This time we are taking two adult daughters and a friend. Booked a balcony guarantee for three and a mini guarantee for us. In short order we got cabin assignments; Baja 743 for them (second cabin from the rear) and Dolphin 215 for us. Five days before the cruise, I learn the company I had used to obtain the booking has gone belly up. Triple check and our cruise has been paid for and is secure. The morning of embarkation, we woke up to a weird cloudy sky. Found out quickly that the hills of North Eastern Los Angeles were once again on fire. The strange thing is this exact same thing happened last year when we took the same cruise. In addition, another large fire broke out to the East. Got our junk together in record time and all five of us met down at the docks just before noon. We would have been on board in record time, except the wife recognized the person who checked us in as an old friend from 18 years ago. So after all the jabbering, we breezed through security and in our cabin by 12:30. The sky south of the ship was a bright blue, while everything to the North was a dark gray to black, from all the smoke. Went up for a snack at the Horizon Court. Rather strange to look out one side of the ship to a bright San Pedro, turn your head to see what appears to be the makings of a terrible storm. Went forward on Lido to the pool area to watch Ports-O-Call to go by at "sail away". People were swimming, dancing and really trying to have a good time. Unfortunately, the sky was raining ash from the fire 20 or so miles away. Ash from dust sized particles to large one inch chunks of burned vegetation fell on the entire county. While must just brushed their hair off or swiped a towel at a chair, some folks were having a problem just breathing. We were not having a great time so decided to fall back into the cabin and wait for the ship to push back. Just as we were entering the cabin an announcement came over the P/A from Captain William Kent. The brush fires were so bad, 50% of the freeways coming into Los Angeles from the North were closed this morning and were still closed. 300 or so passengers had not made it onto the ship; the Captain stated he had orders from Princess Corporate to delay departure from 4 PM to 7 PM. So much for the great "sail slower and save fuel" concept. Went to dinner at 6 PM at the anytime "Santa Fe" room. Another disconcerting experience, we were sat next to a window on the starboard side that was level with the second floor of the cruise center. Eating prime rib and glancing up every so often to see a longshoreman staring at our family eating. 7 PM came and went but the ship stayed put. Captain came on again stating he had been ordered to wait until 8 PM for the last 17 passengers. As it happens, we ran into a couple of the latecomers that night. They said they came into Los Angeles over the "grapevine" expecting to get to the cruise center in the usual 3 hours. Hit a wall of brake lights, waited a while and finally turned around and drove a couple of hundred miles to get around the problem. The 3 hour drive turned into an 8 hour endurance race. More about this later. A little after 8 PM we pushed back and eased into the channel. The Captain once again came onto the P/A to say everything is fine and we will get into Puerto Vallarta on time. This is the first time we have indulged in a mini-suite and it may have spoiled us. Dolphin 215, starboard side about 120 feet behind the bridge wing. For those who have not had the privilege; bathroom is about three feet longer so a bathtub could be wedged into the space. The tub is rather deep and installed even higher to accommodate the plumbing pipes between tub and deck. Only after getting in and out do I find the hand bar that was hidden behind the towels. I didn't think the extra 12 feet of "sitting room" would make that much difference. I was wrong. The sofa/coach is a welcome addition and the small table and second chair that have always been in the way in our balcony cabins, now have a logical place to be. Half the time we are in the cabin, one of us is on the sofa. Being on Dolphin, the balcony is about 9' by 10'. A table, two ridged chairs and two reclining chairs fill this area. A table and two full loungers would have been perfect. Plenty of storage room, about the same for the standard balcony. Only difference is the TV/refrigerator/sideboard looking thing. Shaped in a half circle on the wall opposite the desk, has two TV's on the top shelf (one for the bed and one for the sitting area), a large granite counter space, refrigerator and two large shelves. Need an electrical plug, no problem. Just inside the door, a double outlet near the floor, in the bathroom a single outlet for low amp devices only. A double outlet at the desk and behind each of the two TV's. Nine outlets, no problem, right. The outlets are so close together and the plugs and transformers for my devices are so large, I can only plug in one thing at a time at any of the locations. I guess that power strip I forgot back at home would have come in handy We meet out steward, Rico Lalap, who is pleasant enough. The room is set up as twins, so when we ask for the bed to be changed to a queen, with egg crate and robes. He states he'll change the setup within the hour and will try to supply the egg crate and robes today, but can't promise they will be available. We say anything would be appreciated and more than likely these will be the only requests for the week. By the third day, we have no other requests and Rico has a true smile when we pass in the hall. I set up the laptop at the desk and soon discover I can link up via Wi-Fi from the cabin. Don't know if the ship has been upgraded or it's because were so close to the bridge. I don't care, just happy for the convenience. When the ship was first put into commission, the plan was to have one large traditional dining room with an early and late seating. Four smaller rooms were to be used as P.C. (Personal Choice) dinning. For this ship 1/3 traditional and 2/3 P.C. Over the years the concept of P.C. changed to "Any Time" with any nuance that the ship itself instituted over the years. Anyway ON THIS cruise this is what's going on. The Savoy, Pacific Moon and Santa Fe are the anytime dining rooms. The International and the smaller Vivaldi are traditional seating. Bottom line, we have anytime dinning and have had to wait every night for a table no matter what time we arrive. Don't know if anytime is on the way out or if Princess just changes what dining rooms do depending on how many people want traditional. And now a word about dining room dress code. On the first night we saw someone turned away because he was wearing shorts that were mid calf. Ten minutes later a man with shorts and T-shirt was shown to a table. On the first formal night, a man was turned away from two rooms because he had no tie. The third room he was admitted without a problem. Whatever dress code there is depends on who is working the door. We sailed South at the normal fuel burning 21 knots and arrived at the scheduled time of 10:00 AM in PV. Other than a walk over to Wal-Mart, we just enjoyed the empty ship. After leaving Puerto Vallarta, my wife spoke with a woman who lives in the "valley" in Los Angeles, a 90 minute drive on a normal weekend. Due to the fires closing freeways, they got to the pier at 8:45, long after the ship had cleared the break water. They flew down to P.V. to meet the ship. In Mazatlan, we found the old cruise center had some new paint and another room had been added. But the passengers getting off the tram still have to deal with a gauntlet of time share salesmen, vendors and 20 or so men trying to get you into their limo, R.V., taxi or golf cart. Since the cruise center only allows certain sales people in, they must have to pay for the privilege. In other words, the cruise passenger is subjected to the pushiest salespeople I have ever seen with the approval of the cruise center. New paint on the cruise center, calling the clean part of town "Golden Zone" and calling every day hotels "resorts", Mazatlan is still a small industrial city that needs to clean up more than just the streets. Anyway, the five of us went to Stone Island using King David. Several hours of quite time near the beach with some simple food and a plate of boiled shrimp. Yes there were a few vendors selling the usual stuff. A simple no and they move on. A return trip to Stone Island in the future is not out of the question. In Cabo, we again opted to stay on the ship. This is the abbreviated stop so anything one plans can only last a few hours. After 1:30, the last passengers returned from shore but we didn't leave. There was a mechanical failure in the life boat's wenching system that was never actually repaired. It took hours to recover the tender/life boat and the ship did not pull anchor until long after sunset. Princess had again scheduled the Sapphire to sail slower to conserve fuel and return to Los Angeles at 8:00 AM, two hours later than the usual 6:00 AM. Again the Captain had to drop the hammer and head North at full speed. We were told we would dock at 11:00 AM, but due to the lack of head winds we shaved an hour off the time. Our disembarkation group was to meet in the Casino, rather surprised that there were less than 30 people there. As we waited for our group to be called for disembarkation, we watched Christmas decorations being put up about the ship. We were off and on the way home by 12:20 PM The ship itself was in excellent condition. Bright paint, only sign of wear I found were the hand rails inside the elevators. Even the carpets looked new. I know the ship is more than a few years old, so I did look for anything negative I could find. Two burned out light bulbs, that's it. Overall the food quality was good, only excellent quality we experienced was the one night we tried Sterling. Horizon Court food was sometimes cold and on the greasy side. Items on the standard room service menu tended to be dry. Service in the dining room was excellent as usual The CD and staff were bright and cheery but seemed plastic at times. Happened by a "repeat" show one night and saw the assistant CD do the exact four minute intro word for word. A number of different stage productions were presented during the week, I don't think there was a repeat performance of any one show. There were a few "comedians" who did 30 minute shows who only had a good 10 minutes of material. Quite a few pax were observed to leave the theatre in the darkness. Dan Bennett performed three shows one night but was sandwiched in between the Newly Wed Show and movies; he had to cut his act short due to time constraints. Too bad, his act was the best available for the entire week. I can only assume Princess has cut back on the budget for entertainment and depends more on stage shows, movies and shows costing nothing sine the talent is provided by the passengers for talent such as Princess Idol. Hopefully Princess is paying attention. We have cruised with this line repeatedly because of the attention to detail and quality of product provided in the past. In my opinion, it appears they have started to cut corners as far as food and performers brought on board. As mentioned, they attempted to save money by reducing ship speed. It makes one wonder where else the bean counters have forced cuts. All five of us had a great time. My 20 something who had turned her nose up at the thought of a cruise quickly planned her day around trivia and bingo. Like her father, she looked for somewhere to hide so she wouldn't have to get off the ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Traveling on this cruise was myself & my two sons, ages 15 & 4. We also has an AMAZING roll call group & spent a lot of time hanging out together! This is my 11th cruise, my teenagers 5th cruise & my 4 year old's 2nd ... Read More
Traveling on this cruise was myself & my two sons, ages 15 & 4. We also has an AMAZING roll call group & spent a lot of time hanging out together! This is my 11th cruise, my teenagers 5th cruise & my 4 year old's 2nd cruise. Embarkation We were dropped off at the San Diego cruise terminal around 10:30am & took our bags to a porter waiting inside the terminal building. As we were early, we were sent through security & were checked in by 10:45. They had expected to begin boarding at 11:30am, but the terminal was handling two ships that day so Elation was boarded before the Spirit began. Even with the slight delay, we were on board enjoying lunch by 12:30pm! Room We had cabin 4224, a category 8A balcony for the three of us... it was set up well & I never felt overly cramped with my kids in the same room. Our room stewardess, Martina, was great! Although I didn't meet her until day 3 - we would just refer to her as our 'ninja' steward! Everything was done while we were gone, and every request was met! She always kept us full of ice in both our little room ice bucket, as well as my soft sided cooler. Ship & Entertainment I was impressed with the condition of the ship... and although she is scheduled for dry dock in March, she is in great condition overall. I didn't see terrible wear & tear on the carpets, everything was always clean & polished ... and everything seemed to function as it was supposed to. I enjoyed spending some time in the piano bar & I liked the 'piano man', Steve Brisley. It wasn't terribly crowded - but the group of 8-15 of us that would gather each night certainly had a good time getting to know eachother! We only went to one show - the last evening's Carnival Legend's show, since one of the cc roll call members was Madonna. She was GREAT and it was fun to watch!!! Spa I used the spa one day for a swedish massage. Although they did begin with the 'sell', I explained that I was interested in being 'prescribed' anything else & that was it. The one problem I found with the massage rooms is that they are directly under the running track & basketball courts. I was able to ignore it, but it wasn't the most relaxing atmosphere. They also didn't use 'bolsters' under knees or ankles, as most spas do, so I had to adjust my knees etc... frequently by the end of the session. Acapulco We pre-booked an independent tour with Intersol to go to La Roquetta island for lunch, glass bottom boat ride, fire dancing & beach. Unfortunately the tour times had gotten messed up & they dropped us at a dock to wait for a boat that never came. Eventually they came back & took us by car to another part of Acapulco to ride across to the island. It turned out to be a fun day, but not at the top of my list. I will try to do a beach day on my own the next time I am in Acapulco. Ixtapa/Zijuataneho By far our favorite day & port. We took a cab to Playa la Ropa & had intended to stay at Patty's for the day. Unfortunately, there were no lounge chairs available, only tables - so we went next door to Elvira's. Very good, very relaxing & decent prices! We ate & drank & swam all day! Simply perfect! Manzanillo We took a taxi to Las Hadas resort & paid $25 per person to enter. They then give you coupons to use for food & beverages. This worked out perfectly & was a very relaxing day... although I felt the pool was too chilly, but that's just a personal preference! Food The food in the main dining room was fine. We had early seating since my 4 year old was with us & always wanted to get to camp by 7. Not exciting, not bad. Just fine. Our waiter & ast waiter were fine. Not bad, not excellent - although he did make a grilled cheese appear one evening for my 4year old who had requested it. The pizza was good, I usually love the De Chevre but this cruise I was told they didn't have it; although it was still on the pizza menu. ?! Supper Club Excellent as always! Our roll call group had done a cabin crawl on our second sea day, then 10 of us went to dinner together at the supper club. We enjoyed wine & extraordinary meals along with superb company! Highly recommended! Camp Carnival I simply can't say enough good things about this experience. Since it was Thanksgiving week, I heard there were over 700 minors on board. Because there were so many children, they only gave out beepers for 2 & 3 year olds. Luckily, this was not a problem for my outgoing young man! He absolutely loved playing with friends, going to parties, getting his face painted, watching cartoons, coloring, playing PS2, reading stories... the list goes on & on! ClubO2 Needs improvement. My teenager walked into one or two activities & walked right back out. He said there was no participation & no one there. He had no problem hooking up with other teens to hang out with, however! Debarkation We were zone #18 and were called to debark the ship at 9:45am or so. Once we grabbed our bags, we walked out to Harbor & our ride came along shortly thereafter. I'm sure there are MANY things I have forgotten, feel free to ask! This was a fantastic cruise - one of my best. Mainly because we had such a good group of people to shareo our excitement with; but also (as a single mom) because my son really loved to go to Camp Carnival in the evenings; he even wanted to eat with the kids about half the evenings! It was a perfect choice for our family to vacation together & still get some time for our individual interests. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Our travel group consisted of me (41), DH, (41), parents (71), sister (49), DDs (14 & 12), nephew (13). We arrived at PC around 11. Drop off was very easy. I am glad we arrived early because there wasn't a long line to drop off ... Read More
Our travel group consisted of me (41), DH, (41), parents (71), sister (49), DDs (14 & 12), nephew (13). We arrived at PC around 11. Drop off was very easy. I am glad we arrived early because there wasn't a long line to drop off the luggage. DH dropped us and the luggage off and he parked the car. Check in was very quick and simple. My parents are platinum members so after we checked in we were escorted onto the ship with the platinum members. I felt like we were rushed on so fast, I couldn't enjoy my trip onto the ship. We were dumped off onto deck 3 lobby. I didn't realize that was the lobby until later. I wasn't impressed at all with the atrium of this ship. It seemed so small for the size of the ship. The seas were pretty rough the first two days. It didn't bother our family. It was fun trying to walk do the hall straight. Our first port was Nassau. We did Blackbeard Stingray & Beach trip. It was okay. I don't think it was worth the money. No time for shopping here. The excursion took the whole time. Next stop was St. Thomas. There were strong headwinds and we were two hours late getting into port. No big deal. St. Thomas was pretty. Next stop was St. Martin. LOVED IT. It was my favorite stop!! What beautiful water. Great shopping. The ship was very large. It took us a couple of days to figure it out. Once you figure it out, you won't have a problem. It is very chopped up, in my opinion. Our room steward was John. He was wonderful. He did a great job. He was the best room steward we have ever had!! Towel animals every night. The rooms were good size. We had 6 PM dinner seating at the platinum restaurant. We had a table on the aft. It was the worst table service we have ever had. We talked to many other people and they said their service was wonderful. Must have been our server. It was so bad that we decided not to eat in there. My parents continued to eat there every night. They said it didn't get any better. The kids in our family were mixed on Circle C. There is no one meeting place for this age group. They bounced from The Green Room, Crimson Club to Bar Blue. My dd's loved going to the activities when they had some. My nephew on the other hand, is shy and not outgoing. He didn't like the activities. He said he wished they had a club with Xbox or video games where he could hang out all day. Butch was the CD. He talks a lot. He did a great job. All in all, it was a good trip. There are activities all day to entertain all ages. The food was good. We didn't have a midnight chocolate buffet. We did have a chocolate buffet during the day on a sea day. There was a chocolate fountain and they were making milkshakes that were wonderful!! I don't know if we will go on the Glory again. It is a little to large for me, but it is a nice ship! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Background We are a married couple, 30 years old. My mother also cruised with us and she is 67. We have cruised on Holland America, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. This cruise was the 15 day Circle Hawaii ... Read More
Background We are a married couple, 30 years old. My mother also cruised with us and she is 67. We have cruised on Holland America, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. This cruise was the 15 day Circle Hawaii cruise that sailed roundtrip to the islands from San Diego, CA. We visited Hilo, Lahaina, 2 days in Honolulu and Kona. Embarkation We arrived at the pier around noon. There were lots of people there already but check in was easy and we only had to wait in line a few minutes. When we boarded the ship the staterooms were not ready so we headed to Lido for a bite to eat. Our Stateroom Our Stateroom was an outside cabin on Deck 1 - Dolphin Deck, Midship Category E. The cabin was very nice with plenty of storage for all three of us. The third bed is a sofa which makes into a bed. My mother said it was not very comfortable. Our bed was two twins pushed together and was comfortable. The bathroom had a tub/shower combo. The service form the cabin stewards were excellent. Sea Days and Things to do on the Ship There were 10 sea days on this 15 day cruise. Most of the passengers on this cruise were 65 years or older. We only saw a few young people and 2 small children. The ship was very peaceful and quiet. No drunk people and no kids running around. We like cruising with the older people so we fit in great. However, due to the average age of the passengers there were not many activities geared toward the younger crowd. Every day there would be cooking demonstrations, trivia, live music, bingo and sports events. We took place in the sports events to collect the Dam Dollars to redeem at the end of the cruise for souvenirs. There were also dance lessons, coffee chats, travel talks, and various other events during the sea days. The library had many books, magazines, games and puzzles for people to use. Most sea days the library was packed with people reading or playing games. DVDs were also available to check out for $3 each. Every cabin has a TV and DVD player. Big screen movies would play in the culinary theatre at night. The selection of movies was very good. But the theatre is not set up very well with the position of the chairs and the screen. It helped very much that there were 2 large screen TVs on each side of the big screen to see the movie as well. These were much clearer and provided for an unobstructed view of the movie. They also provided popcorn and sold drinks. I wish they would have played the movies during the sea days as well. But usually that lounge was used for cooking demonstrations during the sea days. They also played these movies on the cabin TVs the next day. There was also a travel guide aboard the ship to tell us all about Hawaii. He was very knowledgeable and fun to listen to. He would give talks during the day and they would be shown on the cabin TVs as well. The Casino is very small but all of the staff was very friendly. They had the usual table games and the limit was low at $5. Every sea day they would hold 2 sessions of Texas Hold'em Poker. The slots machines were very tight and did not pay anything. The shops were your average souvenir and jewelry stores you find on cruise ships. Entertainment The cruise director on the ship was Lizabeth and she was a very nice lady. She fit the older crowd but was not very entertaining. The production shows with the singers and dancers were great shows. However, the singing was awful and the shows were missing the live music that Carnival always has. The other entertainers included singers, comedians, ventriloquists, and jugglers. All of these shows were fantastic. The live music around the ship was very nice as well. There were also 2 crew shows - one Indonesian and one Filipino. Both were excellent shows! Food The food on the ship was very good. I would not say it was outstanding but it was very good. Every night in the dining room there would be one dish of either chicken, beef, fish, pasta and vegetable. These were accompanied by appetizers, soup, salad and of course dessert. The service in the dining room was excellent. The lido buffet was good as well serving almost the same thing for dinner each night as was served in the dining room. Lunch offered a variety of items as well as a deli, salad bar, Mexican bar and hamburger/hot dog/pizza station by the pool. Dessert and ice cream was offered as well. Late night snacks were also provided on lido deck starting around 11pm. Drinks On this cruise you could purchase a drink card for soda, wine or cocktails. Each card has its own price and offers a certain amount of drinks. Your card is punched every time you have a drink. The price you pay initially includes the tips and taxes. My husband purchased the wine card for $67 + tax and tip. This provided 20 glasses of house wines which he could use anywhere on the ship. The best deal was the happy hours in the Ocean Bar. Almost every day from 4pm-5pm they would offer half price drinks in the Ocean Bar. This was a great deal and better than purchasing any of the drink cards. Gym/Spa We did not purchase any spa services but took a tour of the area. It was very nice and the gym was quite busy on sea days. They offered specials throughout the cruise. Photographs The photographs were very expensive. We only purchased our embarkation photo along with a photo of the ship in a Folio album. This cost $53. There were only a few photographers on the ship and they did not hound you to take photos like on other cruise lines. They didn't follow you around or make you take photos. They would usually ask first if you wanted a photo. This was a great feature. Hawaiian Ports We did not take any of the HAL shore excursions as they were very expensive. With 3 people we found it cheaper and better to rent a car in each port. We explored the islands and saw the sights we chose and did it all on our own time schedule. I think this is a great way to see the islands. We calculated that the cost of the car plus gas averaged $24 per person per day. This is a great way to see many places at your own pace and for a low cost. We were supposed to sail past the Volcano on the big island once we departed Hawaii on the last port day. The captain switched the schedule so that we would sail past the Volcano after the first port day in Hilo. He did this because we would be sailing past at an earlier time so more people would be awake to view this. Unfortunately, it was raining and we could not see the volcano very well. We did see the glowing red lava but it was very far away and hard to see through the fog/rain. I believe each person can make the best or worst of their port days so I won't go into detail about each stop. I will say that we really enjoyed Hawaii and there is a lot to see and do. Make the best of your time there! ? Debarkation Originally we were going to have a silent debarkation. This means you are given your designated time to leave the ship and you go at this time. However, it was changed and they did make announcements for when we could leave the ship. We got off the ship early and with no problems. However, there were a lot of people trying to get of the ship and it seems like they needed more time between each color being called. The elevators were slow as were they people walking off the ship with their luggage. More time for each group of people to leave the ship would have been better. Conclusion This was a wonderful cruise with excellent service. The food was very good and the entertainment was great. We really enjoyed the long cruise experience. It provided for relaxing sea days and plenty of time to enjoy all areas of the ship. Expect an older crowd with the average age of the guest being 65 years and older. Most of the passengers have been to Hawaii before and cruise mainly for the experience. We did not encounter any long lines, party atmospheres or kids running loose. It was a very quiet and peaceful cruise. We had a great time and would take this cruise again! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Background: My husband and I have taken 4 cruises before. 3 on Celebrity as a couple and 1 on Disney with our daughter in 2004. This was our first RCCL. Our family of 3 (husband, me and seven year-old daughter) enjoyed a wonderful cruise ... Read More
Background: My husband and I have taken 4 cruises before. 3 on Celebrity as a couple and 1 on Disney with our daughter in 2004. This was our first RCCL. Our family of 3 (husband, me and seven year-old daughter) enjoyed a wonderful cruise on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas November 22 - 29, 2008. Pre-cruise/Hotel: We flew from Chicago to Miami on the 21st and stayed at the Hyatt Summerfield Suites near the airport. It was reasonably priced ($139,) fairly new and clean. The standard room (all are suites) had a kitchenette, living area and bedroom. There is a free breakfast buffet (fairly extensive selections) but no dinner restaurant nearby which can be inconvenient if arriving at the dinner hour or in the evening. They did have a small store with food items to purchase or cook up in your room. We ordered pizza. With the exception of the noise (the walls must be made of paper! it was a good place to stay and it was only one night. Embarkation: We used the hotel's shuttle (easy, $12 a person, I believe) and arrived at the port of Miami around 12:20 p.m. Embarkation went smoothly. We didn't have to wait long in the various lines and we were on the ship within about 20 minutes. We had to wait 20 minutes to get into our rooms which were available after 1 p.m. Our cabin attendant was still cleaning our room, but he was gracious and let us in. Our attendant was Buddy and he was awesome: friendly, available, but still managed to be unobtrusive. He was the best attendant we've ever had. Stateroom: Our cabin was 1404 which is a D1, aft balcony room. The veranda was about 3 times the normal size of a regular balcony veranda. We loved our room. I was pleased with the size (214 sq) of the room. It was perfect for our family of 3. My daughter slept on the pull-out couch, but she said it was very uncomfortable and she weighs only 47 pounds. It was uncomfortable, but hey, it is only 7 nights! We spent tons of time on the balcony. If you are able-bodied, I would definitely recommend this aft room over all over balcony rooms. It was not that long of walk to the stairs/elevators. Boat/facilities: We loved the Liberty of the Seas. There was so much to do. We tried ice-skating, but never did the Flowrider (watched,) mini-golf or rock wall. My daughter (7) loved the Promenade and the pools. She would not join the Adventure Ocean club (kids' club,) but other kids seemed to love it. The kids pools are amazing! There are so many of them. RCCL really impressed me in this area. There is one that has a lazy-river type system and my daughter swam around in that for hours. She also loved having the hot-tubs available to her. We had some cool weather in and out of Miami so we really appreciated the hot tubs. I was impressed with the entire pool deck for both kids and adults. It got crowded around the pool, but there were always available chairs/table to put your stuff on, if you couldn't find a lounger. The gym is great. I did a Spin class. We had some high seas that day. Very interesting to say the least! Classes fill up fast! If you exercise in the midday it is much less busy. Shows were kind of hokey, in general. The talent was great, just the themes, etc. were funny and forced. The ice show is a must-see. Restaurants/Food: We were pleasantly surprised with the food. We thought it was just as good as Celebrity, although different. The presentation wasn't as fancy as on Celebrity, but the taste was good and it was hot and prepared well. The buffet was much better than Celebrity's. We also liked the international choices. We ate in the dining room 4/7 nights. We liked Chops, but didn't think the food was that great at Portofino's, although the Tiramisu was wonderful! We found the food to be way better than Disney (thank God!) Our servers (Lorinda . . .) were very professional and friendly. They answered our every wish and doted on my daughter. We had wonderful tablemates; got a 6-top as we had requested and the other family had one daughter 2 years older than our so they became fast friends for the entire cruise. Seeing as though our daughter would not go to the kids' club this saved our (and her) vacation! ;) Excursions/Ports: Our ports were San Juan, St. Martin and Labadee. We got to San Juan late at 4 p.m. and everything was closing down. It was a bust for us. My daughter was scared being there at night, stores were closing/closed. St. Martin was the best! My daughter loved the ocean there. Found a small cove on the French side by asking the taxi driver (sorry can't remember the details but it is not Orient and you go down a dirt road to get there.) which was perfect for kids. Our excursion in St. Martin had been cancelled due to poor visibility (submarine/boat thing.) Labadee was okay, but the beach was not as nice as St. Martin for us. I think adults would love this stop, though. The shopping was okay. Lots of inexpensive stuff. The hawkers can get a little aggressive, but it wasn't as bad as I'd heard. All in all, this was a great cruise for our family. We all found something to enjoy about this ship and cruise. We found RCCL's LOS to have wonderful service and felt very pampered. The food exceeded our expectations and the room/facilities, etc. were top-notch. I highly recommend the LOS as a great family cruise ship where both kids and parents can have a satisfying cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008

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