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52,346 Family Cruise Reviews

We had already sailed previously with P&O (without our kids) and decided this time to try Royal Caribbean. What can i say... the Navigator is the most amazing ship - and surprisingly RC have even bigger and better ships as well. we ... Read More
We had already sailed previously with P&O (without our kids) and decided this time to try Royal Caribbean. What can i say... the Navigator is the most amazing ship - and surprisingly RC have even bigger and better ships as well. we were absolutely astounded at the Vegas style interior and the fantastic array of facilities. Having resided in America for several years, it really lived up to the American dream!! The quality of the shows were superb and the friendliness of the staff fantastic. We travelled with our two teenage boys - one of which is Autistic, and we couldnt have wished for a nicer cabin attendant. We were so pleased with our trip that we immediately booked again with RC for the next summer - we had an equally pleasing experience on the Voyager - although the ship is slightly older and tattier. I would highly recommed RC to anyone with kids or teenagers!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
Our 2008 Family Cruise included my wife and I, our 3 kids 19, 16 and 13, my wifes sister and husband and replacing the 19 YO girlfriend was one of his 19 YO friends for his 1st cruise. We flew down on 8/10/2008, the day before and ... Read More
Our 2008 Family Cruise included my wife and I, our 3 kids 19, 16 and 13, my wifes sister and husband and replacing the 19 YO girlfriend was one of his 19 YO friends for his 1st cruise. We flew down on 8/10/2008, the day before and stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown. We flew Jet Blue into Fort Lauderdale which which was fine and visited the Miami Seaquarium on the way to the hotel. The Seaquarium was fun, we enjoyed the whale and Flipper shows while dodging the rain and lightening. After the shows we headed off to the hotel for check in. The hotel was fine for what we needed and we walked to Bayside for dinner and shopping. We used Top Shuttle for our transportation and everything was good. Sunday morning we had breakfast and arranged with the hotel for transportation to the port, this was included in our hotel package. We were picked up at 10:30 and arrived at the port and heading into the terminal just before 11. We waited in the Empress Deck line until the windows opened at 11, we were 3rd in line. After a quick check in, we sat waiting for the ship to be available, this happened at 11:45 and after they let 2 wedding parties onboard, all others were able to board. We went right to the food and at this time the lines were short, about 1/1:30 the lines were very long. The ship was great and looked to be in great shape, everyone was off and running. The adults had one thing to do because we were placed in 2 different dining rooms for dinner and you cannot have a Family Cruise in 2 locations. We were told to go to the Pride dining room at 1:30. We had Pride 107 and the SIL/BIL were in the Spirit dining room. We did not wait until 1:30 as we saw the doors open at 1 and went in, we were helped right away and an empty table for 8 was found at a window in the Spirit dining room, this was perfect for us and made our cruise. Diner was great all week and we loved our waiter and his asst. We had connecting staterooms which we good but seemed smaller than others that we have had, luckily we are not there enough to care so all was good with that. The 13 and 16 YO's went to kids club the first night or 2, the 16 YO met friends and she was set for the week, the 13 YO did meet some kids but the 12-14 YO group needs some help big time, they have a way to go to make it interesting. Service in the rooms was efficient but not great, the room was clean and we had towel animals but that was it. Activities on the ship are a direct result of the cruise director. Jorge was a great speaker and he is probably the funniest CD I have seen but the activities were lacking. The bingo was all over the place, some of the game shows etc were available for only early dinner people, there were times where nothing was scheduled and other things scheduled at the same time, it was chappy at best and did not flow well. We enjoyed the shows, all of them, it takes a talent to dance on a moving ship. Stops and excursions. We love Grand Turk, planned on sitting on the beach and at the pool and that is what we did, I did take a nice walk to the right of the pier, the older boys did the flowrider, it was good but needs better organization there. Half Moon Cay is our favorite all time stop, we love this beach, we sat on the beach and played in the water, I took a nice walk all the way down the beach, the boys played volleyball and did the jet skis, it is a great place that I will go back to many times. Nassau, the 3 older kids wento to Blackbeards Cay to snorkel and had a great time, I took my 13 YO to the Hilton and rented a boat and tooled around for awhile with him, he liked that a lot. In the afternoon we shopped a bit. On the last day, we did not have flights until 5:00 so we planned on taking our time getting off the ship. We sat around until after our # had been called but when it got to be 10:30 or so everyone wanted to leave so we headed off with still plenty of people on the ship. Getting off and going through customs was painless and we were in Fort Lauderdale just about noon. In summary, this was our 6th cruise and it was a blast. Our new cruiser had the time of his life and is currently talking his family into going on a cruise. He lived at the ping pong table, the pool and anywhere else he could be in just his bathing suit. He actually liked the Strawberry Bisque soup so much that they brought him 8 bowls if you can believe that. Great ship, great cruise and the best stops. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Monday - Arrival The Port at Miami is owned by Carnival Cruise lines, so it's state of the art - they have a lot of their people working there - getting on board was really fast and really easy - their people are great at getting ... Read More
Monday - Arrival The Port at Miami is owned by Carnival Cruise lines, so it's state of the art - they have a lot of their people working there - getting on board was really fast and really easy - their people are great at getting people in and out as quickly as possible so you can get on the ship. Even though boarding time was 12:00 pm, the rooms weren't actually ready until 1:30 (or so their letter said) - we got on at around 1:00 pm and went to our room anyways, it was done, although I know some people were waiting around the lobby for their rooms to finish. Our family of 5 got 2 rooms - the first cruise with Carnival last summer, the 5 of us got one room because we had no idea how small or big the room was going to be. The rooms are a nice size (considering you're on a boat with thousands of other people) and as 5 people in 1 room, there were 2 bunk beds and 1 cot right in the middle, so basically there was nowhere to walk. But they only pull out the cot at nighttime during their turn down service, so it's not always there in your way. Depending on how much time you spend in your room, it wasn't that big of a deal for us. This time, we had 2 rooms for the 5 in our family - it was MUCH more comfortable. Originally we had one room for the 5 of us because it's about 500-600 more expensive for 2 rooms, but then a few days before we were going to leave, Carnival upgraded us to 2 rooms right next door to one another! So ask your travel planner to notify you if that is a possibility, they try to accommodate as best they can. My parents had their own room next door and us three kids got our own room - 2 single beds and one pulled down "bunk" bed. It was plenty of room for the three of us. They upgraded the tvs from our last ship, so they were flat screen about 20" and they play different movies (on rerun) every day on cruise, so that was nice - and they were recent movies, too, not old ones. You also get regular cable channels so you can watch the news, and even MTV. In the bathroom, they provided body wash, shampoo, razors for girls and guys (bic), and toothpaste if you need it. There are also plenty of towels so you don't need to bring your own. We just spent our time walking around the ship, it's considerably smaller than our first one (Carnival Victory), so it's pretty easy to navigate yourself around the ship since there aren't that many places to go. The water "park" is BEAUTIFUL - it's new! - and it includes a tube water slide that swirls around (and gets to be pretty fast, actually) and two water slides that go straight down, as well as some cute fountains that spray water for the smaller kids. I would recommend going on these if you come back early or leave later at one of the stops because there are always tons of small children running around there and lines can get long. They close at 5, though, so if you're planning on going when you get back early from one of the stops, keep that in mind - my sister and I were only able to go on the slide about 4-5 times before they told us it was closing. The sun decks are really nice, there's an adult serenity deck where children aren't allowed so it's more peaceful up there than by the pool. The pool is small and there is only one and there is a jacuzzi (two maybe? I forget). They had a couple of activities, nothing amazing. We had our dinner time at 8pm (the late seating) - and the staff was wonderful, as always, our waiter did magic tricks for us every night. We shared a table with another family, if you don't want to do this make sure you let your vacation planner KNOW otherwise you won't have an option. Our first trip we sat at our own table and while it's nice to meet other families, it can get awkward and you aren't able to relax as much because you feel like you need to have a conversation with them. It depends on what kind of personality you are though and what kind of vacation you're looking for. They had shows at night, the shows are nice - nothing amazing - but fun, colorful, and loud all the same. Our cruise director, George (Jorge), was AMAZINGLY WONDERFULLY FANTASTIC - so funny, he used to be a stand up comedian, and if you go to show only for him, it's worth it. Oh and don't let them fool you when you are arriving to check in, you don't HAVE TO check your luggage - but they tell you that so that you'll tip them. We didn't have to the first time, but then this time they confused us by telling us we had to - then later on we saw people carrying on their own luggage onto the ship. Tuesday - Day at Sea Nothing special. Look below for past carnival cruisers. They had activities throughout the day. My family loves their steam and sauna in the spa carnival so we went there usually before dinner and then showered in the spa because the stalls are bigger so it's more comfortable. This steam and sauna room was different from our first cruise - it was about half a size smaller and there were no windows looking out into the ocean. But it was fine, nonetheless, not many people used it so it was peaceful. If you're traveling with children, a good way to save money on soda (which is extra) is to buy your child a fountain card (I think it's about 10-15 less than adults) and they can get endless amounts of fountain drinks, so you can all just share. We did that with our family and it worked fine. They have sushi bar night every night for an hour, a ping pong table, the Carnival Spa which has a spa/steam/sauna room, a small gym, some fitness classes (which you have to pay for - usually $10 per class), some "free" consultation classes about weight less and what not but they usually try to sell you some product and it gets annoying. For people who want to use the spa, the first day of the cruise you can enter a raffle for free spa services - I would recommend that, they give away some fantastic things! it takes some time out of your day to go and put your name in, then you have to go back at the designated time for the drawing - if you aren't there then you don't get it. But they gave away maybe 15 spa services for free. So it was pretty nice. Wednesday - Grand Turks This is the smaller of the Bahama islands, there's actually not much to do or see there but if you do want to do some sightseeing, I would go with something from Carnival because the taxi drivers there charge about $35 per person for a tour of the island and I think you can get something cheaper through Carnival excursions. I would do an excursion this day - one of the snorkeling or scuba diving, apparently there is a lot to see (we didn't do anything this day) - we did take a taxi into "town" but there wasn't anything great to see and we were charged $5 per person for the small ride one way and then another $5 per person on the way back. It's a very poor, developing area - a lot of run down houses, etc. but there is very very little crime - so no need to be worried. The people there are very friendly. Some of the past reviews said you can go and find a scuba rental area on your own - if you are to do this - you NEED to take a taxi there, there isn't anywhere (at least from what we saw and tried to look for) ON the beach where you're docked to look for somewhere to rent equipment from if you don't want to go through Carnival. There is one famous location, if you want to go scuba/snorkeling, you should just go up to the taxi drivers and ask them to take you there - I forgot what it's called, but they all know what it is because there is only one major company on the island who provides it. It was a nice beach, a lot of seaweed so it was kinda gross. If you hate sun, make SURE you rent one of those clam shells because there is NO shade and it gets HOT. You're going to be spending the next few days in the sun so don't try to get too much at once. You'll end up getting sick of it. Or worse, burnt. Thursday - Half Moon Cay If you were to choose one day to be a beach day - THIS IS IT. The water and the sand is GORGEOUS GORGEOUS GORGEOUS - when you look up pictures of the "Bahamas" or you imagine vacationing in the "Bahamas" this is what it looks like. Perfect soft sand and crystal clear turquoise water. Like out of a dream. I would do an excursion this day, too, only because you can only spend SO much time just lying on the beach doing nothing. We did snorkeling - it was $50.00... the water was rough and it was hard to swim around and see things when you were trying to fight so hard to not get washed away, but the coral was beautiful - there wasn't a LOT to see but we've never been snorkeling before so it was still fun for us. NOT GOOD for people who aren't good swimmers. My youngest sister flipped out after 5 minutes - what a waste of money. I would consider doing a scuba diving, I honestly think it looks better and more comfortable than snorkeling did. Although it was fun, I probably won't do it again because it was just too difficult to get around and you never know what conditions the waters are going to be. You only get 45 minutes out in the actual water swimming around to look at things, the ride there and back is about 20 minutes each way. When we got back, we ate at the BBQ on the pavilion on the island (Carnival owns this island, so it's uninhabited except for a few people they keep there, I guess). BRING SHOES when you go to the pavilion - the sand is scorching hot, as is the cement floors of the Pavilion. You'll burn the bottom of your feet. After that we just played around in the water and then went back onto the ship early because it was just too much sun. HERE is where you will also want a clam shell if you can't stand being in the sun for too long - there is no shade ANYWHERE here. But get it fast because you need to rent it and they go REALLY fast. Friday - Nassau Wednesday - This day my sisters and I woke up early to do the Dolphin Excursion - if you've never done it before I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS EXCURSION. It's expensive... about $200 a person - but definitely definitely worth it as a one time experience. AND YOU NEED TO BOOK IT FAST - either before your trip or the day you get ONTO the boat - the tickets for these excursions go REALLY REALLY fast. If you don't make it, call a few days through the next few days - sometimes spaces open up or get they are able to secure more tickets, so ask that they call you if that happens. We were too late to buy ours but out of luck the fifth time I stood in line, I found out that they had JUST gotten some extra tickets so I was able to go with my sisters and it was a WONDERFUL adventure. It really is about 4 hours, the way they say it in the pamphlet. When you go, though, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT TIME THE BOAT IS COMING BACK because we almost missed it and if you miss it, you'll need to wait another 2 hours to get on the next boat and you'll basically waste your entire day. After the dolphin excursion, you can walk around that facility and they have sea lions and giant turtles they're training as well, so that's pretty fun to see. They will take pictures and video for you, so you don't need to bring a video camera. Also, if there is someone in your family who doesn't want to do it but wants to just go and watch - you can ask if they can go to observe. I'm not sure if you need to pay for it, but I did see a family where the mother just went to observe. After we got back to Nassau from the excursion, we bargained with a taxi driver and he was able to give our family a 2.5 hour tour for $20 per person. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS. He showed us around the entire island, talked about their lifestyle and lives and jobs and people, he stopped at a few places and gave us time to get out, take pictures, walk around, etc. He was really great! We had him drop us off at the Atlantis - without a wristband which they use to distinguish hotel guests from outsiders or you can purchase one from carnival for $150 per person or from Atlantis front desk for $105 per person (but they give out a limited number) you basically can't see much of the resort because everywhere good takes a wristband. But there still are things to see and I think it was still nice to go and see what it was like. The food there is REALLY expensive. Half a sandwich and a bag of chips at the resort was $10. The people on the island eat "Conch" as one of their main sources of food, and I hear it's delicious the way they cook it - unfortunately we didn't have enough time to try it but I wish we had. On the taxi ride, we saw markets of people selling conch on the side of the roads in little stands. Saturday - Departure I would recommend self embarkation. It's not hard, it's really fast, and you can get out before everybody else. We did this last time too, no problems at all. Note for Past Carnival Cruisers: The shows are basically the same except for the comedians they bring in; The activities are basically the same too - they don't really change all that much (I tried to ask our vacation planner this since this was our second cruise and I didn't want it to be exactly the same but he wasn't straight with answering my question) - but most of the activities you were involved with or saw on your schedule the first time, will most likely be there again. It seems as though nothing really changed except for the stops we were going to and the size of the ship (and maybe a few upgrades in terms of how the ship looked and some amenities - it was little more modern); the food on the bigger cruise ships is also MUCH better - so the bigger the ship, the better the food. This ship was smaller compared to our first trip, so the food wasn't as great which was a disappointment since we were really looking forward to that. 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Sail Date August 2008
Background Information We were originally planning to sail with a different cruise line. I had recently completed a certification class with the other line (I'm a travel agent) and had picked out an Alaska itinerary that would ... Read More
Background Information We were originally planning to sail with a different cruise line. I had recently completed a certification class with the other line (I'm a travel agent) and had picked out an Alaska itinerary that would coincide with my husband's birthday. It was a last minute decision (four weeks before sailing). I was having trouble finding a flight home that wouldn't require us to spend the night in port. So my husband decided to "help". He got online and realized we could save $1500 in airfare if we left out of Seattle. The trouble is, the other cruise line didn't go to Seattle, but NCL did, so we booked it and I immediately lost my attention span for anything but our vacation! It was not our first cruise, but would be my first time to Alaska and my first experience with NCL. Hotel Info We flew into Seattle a day early to help relax and get into "vacation mode" before the cruise. I chose the Embassy Suites for a lot of reasons... The first being they have an airport shuttle service. The shuttle driver also made some recommendations on local restaurants that he would shuttle us to. We took his advice and went to Claim Jumper for a great dinner. On the way back we asked the driver what the best way to get to Pier 66 would be. He said for $45, a few dollars more than a taxi, we could take a Town Car. We loved the idea and he arranged the whole thing for us. I love the two-room suite floor plan that Embassy Suites uses. If we had been staying longer, the microwave, fridge and living room area would make it much more comfortable. Also, the business center had computers with internet access that allowed us to slowly withdraw from our computer addiction. (We went cold turkey and left the laptop at home). I purposely picked a hotel with an indoor pool, knowing that it would probably be too cold in Alaska to swim, so the hotel pool was a great option. There is a nice breakfast buffet included with the stay that was perfect for us the morning we checked out to board the ship. It included hot and cold entrees and an omelet bar. Travel To Port of Embarkation Our Town Car service arrived 10 minutes early. We received a call from the front desk letting us know it had arrived. The driver had obviously made this trip a lot. He was familiar with the Pier, the ships and their destinations. For a few dollars more than the price of a taxi, it was worth every penny. Embarkation Our paperwork said we could board after 11:30am, but I was wanting to get on board as early as possible so I could get some photos of the ship without a lot of people in them. We arrived at Pier 66 at 10am and it was packed! It turns out all those people had just gotten off the ship. By 10:30 they were mostly gone. One of the port employees explained that all the doors have numbers over them, and that we could do an early bag check in front of doors 5 & 6 and then get in line for embarkation at door 18. There were about 10 people in line in front of us, and we were all swapping cruise stories, so time flew by. The doors soon opened and we moved pretty quickly towards the security screening area. As we walked through the line we were handed a small square of paper with a number on it (ours was #3). We also had to sign a statement saying we hadn't had any symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea in the past two days. The line moved quickly through security then we went upstairs where we registered our credit card, were photographed for security and received our cabin keys. The staff member explained that our 13-year-old son would be able to charge on our account with no restrictions, so we "may need to have a talk with him". (And we did. We didn't have any problems in this area but appreciated the warning). At 11:30 an announcement was made that people holding numbers 1 through 3 could begin boarding. We were early enough that our stateroom wasn't ready yet, but exploring and taking pictures occupied us for quite a while. After 12 o'clock, we went to Versailles for lunch and then went out on deck to find that the Blue Angels were in Seattle for Seafair weekend and they kept us entertained until the announcement was made that our cabin was ready. Boarding went very smoothly for us. The NCL staff members at the pier were all very friendly and helpful. Including the staff member handing out the "Freestyle Daily" (the schedule of events and activities). He was in a wheelchair (I'm guessing because of Cerebral Palsy). That right there spoke volumes to me about the company I was cruising with. Ship Info The Norwegian Star was built in 2001 and refurbished in 2004. She is one of two Dawn Class Ships, (the other being the Norwegian Dawn). From the colorful stars and streamers on the ship's hull to the artwork around the interior of the ship, the Norwegian Star is a fun adventure all on its' own. Size is relative...it's a pretty big ship, but not the biggest out there. The passenger capacity based on double occupancy is 2,240. With 1,100 crew members, that puts the ratio of crew to passengers at 2 to 1. At the time of our sailing, the crew members represented over 60 different countries. (If you look at a crew member's name tag, it will say where they are from right below their name.) Boarding in Seattle put us directly onto the Promenade on deck 7 right outside the Atrium, an impressive introduction. There's a lot to see on this deck, so go inside and take a lap around to get your bearings. Start in the Atrium at the Reservations Desk and make your dinner reservations. There is one other deck that is worth taking a lap to explore everything and that is deck 12. There's the Market Cafe, the pools, Teen Center, Fitness Center, Meeting Rooms, Library, Theater, Spinnaker Lounge and more. The last deck I recommend on your "first to explore list" is deck 6. Here you will find lots of restaurants, the Casino and one level of the Stardust Theater. Decks 8 through 11 are mostly cabins except for a couple of public areas that are part of the Atrium. Endless Summer Restaurant overlooks the Atrium on deck 8 and deck 9 has the Internet Cafe overlooking the Atrium. The Barong Spa isn't part of the Atrium, it's in the back of the ship, but it's the only public area on deck. Decks 4 & 5 are also mostly cabins except for the medical center on deck 4. At the top of the ship, decks 13 and 14 have small public areas with outdoor activities. Whatever your mood, you can find someplace on the ship to fit your needs. There are quiet areas and fun active areas. You can watch or participate. Service Everyone was very polite and friendly. Our cabin stewards were the only ones that we saw often enough that we got to know each other. The downside of Freestyle cruising is that you don't get to know your wait staff. I did miss that. Overall, I feel that the restaurant service was a bit slow, but always friendly. The wait staff was visibly busy; perhaps they were spread too thin. We also had to replace my son's cabin key as it developed a crack down the middle. For some reason the process caused my key (and my husband's key) to quit working so it involved three trips to the front desk, but was quickly resolved. There was a medical evacuation during our cruise. One of the tenders was lowered to deck 7 and the area around it roped off. Ship's officers were coming and going, helping the family. Unfortunately when the gurney was brought out onto the tender, it was completely covered with a sheet. We were sad for the family and at the same time, impressed with the way the crew assisted them. Shore Excursions Ketchikan We signed up for the Back Country Jet Boat excursion. It was an early tour, our group of about 28 people met at the pier at 7:20am! We were bused to the world famous Salmon Falls Resort where we boarded a covered Jet Boat for a water tour of Clover Pass and Naha Bay. Our tour guide pointed out landmarks and wildlife along the way. He explained how many of the residents of the area had to live "off the grid" and pointed out solar panels, wind turbines and water cisterns. (All of those things we take for granted.) There were some great photo opportunities, but good pictures were hard to get while the boat was moving. (We had 300mm zoom lenses, and it was hard to keep the shot in the viewfinder while the boat was moving). Whenever our guide spotted wildlife, the boat captain would bring the boat in closer and stop so we could get pictures. We saw eagles, deer, and seals. The history of the area and the stories about some of the places we visited were fascinating. It kept our 13 year old interested. After the boat ride, we had about 45 minutes to enjoy a snack at the resort and browse their gift shop before taking the bus back to the ship. We also explored Ketchikan for about 90 minutes. I enjoyed the local shops more than the obvious jewelry store transplants that were not locally owned. If you find yourself needing a warm jacket, we saw several in town that were cheaper than the ones on the ship. Juneau We opted to split up for our Juneau tours. I went on the Capture Juneau Photography Tour while my husband and son went on the Mendenhall Glacier and Wildlife Quest. The Photography tour was a small group of nine of us. We boarded a small bus that was equipped with a computer and large screen monitor. Our guide was a professional photographer that gave instruction via the monitor while the bus was en route to our different destinations. Our group had both professional and amateur photographers with both high-end and point and shoot cameras. The instructor did a great job of covering the basic and advanced topics along with great visual aids that demonstrated his points. (For example he talked about the importance of depth of field and then explained how to get this effect on a point and shoot digital camera as well as using the manual mode to do it with a DSLR camera.) We went to a total of 4 locations that were ordered based on the sun's movement and location at that time of day. We explored an old gold mine, a lookout point across the water from where the cruise ships were parked, a meadow near the Mendenhall Glacier and finally Mendenhall Glacier (where I bumped into my husband and son on their tour). Before going to Mendenhall glacier, my husband and son had an amazing experience whale watching. They not only saw whales, they saw a lot of them! Their guide taught them what to watch for and explained the behavior behind what they saw. Next they went to Mendenhall Glacier where they explored on their own trying to find the bear that was rumored to be in the area (when the saw me). Naturally the bear showed up again after we moved on somewhere else. Skagway You'll find that sometimes two tours are combined into one. This worked great for us in Skagway because I wanted to pan for gold and my husband wanted to ride the train. The White Pass Railway and Klondike Gold Dredge excursion was the perfect choice. First we were bused to the Gold Dredge where our tour guide "Lone Star Suzie" (dressed in a period costume) gave us some history on the Gold Dredge. We were then instructed on how to pan for gold. The panning part went very fast, and then we were given a tour of the dredge. We had our gold weighed and valued and then browsed the gift shop before boarding the bus for the White Pass Railway. I'm glad we did the tours in this order (some groups did it in the opposite order). The train ride was much longer. It was narrated over a speaker system. There was also a booklet with a map and a list of the points of interest along the way. Everyone was asking which side of the train is the best one to sit on. The answer is, it doesn't really matter. The train is set up so that when you get to the top of White Pass, you swap seats with the person in the isle across from you and then fold the seat back over. It's hinged on the ends so you can just flip it and always be facing the same direction the train is moving. You'll get to see the view from both sides. The train engine moves to the other end of the train for the trip back. That is when our guide brought out the champagne or sparkling cider and a selection of smoked salmon spread, sausages sticks, cheese and dried fruit. She was very good with kids too. She recruited their help in passing out things for her and lavishing them with praise for their help. Prince Rupert My husband was signed up for the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Viewing excursion, but due to the medical evacuation the night before, we arrived too late and this tour was cancelled. He ended up going on the Canadian River Float instead. It was enjoyable, but it wasn't bear viewing, so I didn't hear much about it. My son & I opted to wander around town on our own. There's a nice park across the street from the pier where people were welcoming us and handing our maps as we walked up. We saw a couple of eagles in the span of about an hour. Prince Rupert is a fairly new port of call and it's obvious that many of the local residents are excited for the business that the cruise ships bring. We were a bit disappointed that our passports didn't get stamped in customs (customs was a quick "non-event") but found out that the Visitors Bureau will do it, so we stopped there, and it was fast, easy and right by the pier. Prince Rupert is a great town. I liked the locally based merchants and the lack of high-end jewelry stores that seem to sprout up in cruise ports. Stateroom We opted for an inside stateroom (category JJ, room 9597). Our thinking was it was my husband's birthday and we would rather spend the extra money on shore excursions. If I had it to do again, I would like a balcony. Unlike other parts of the world, the Inside Passage of Alaska has more than an endless body of water to look at between ports. There are islands and glaciers and whales. The scenery is breathtaking and if you would be drawn to it, a balcony may be worth it for you. Our cabin stewards had already converted the twin beds into one queen/king-sized bed. There was an upper bunk ready as well. We stored two suitcases under the bed and one in the closet. We used all three of the drawers and shelves. It was a bit cozy, but we expected it would be. The mattress on our bed was very firm, so were the pillows. Three days into the cruise my husband ended up with a migraine. Someone in the spa told him to ask the cabin stewards for a mattress topper and different pillows. That made a big difference. If we had known about it, we would have asked sooner. The room included a TV, refrigerator/mini bar and hair dryer that were hard wired in. (So you couldn't "borrow" those outlets) There was one outlet in the room by the hair dryer and mirror at the foot of the bed. If you need to charge camera batteries, video games, laptops or run a C-Pap machine, a power strip will be a big help. There were individual reading lights for each bed, but no clock. So when the lights go out, it's pitch black. If you will be staying in an inside cabin, you may want to bring a light up digital clock. If you are having a tough time without a window, turn on your TV to channel 2. You'll get the live feed from the ship's web cam. (If you see beads of water across the screen, be thankful you didn't pay extra for a balcony, add another layer and grab the umbrella.) Next time, I would get an outside cabin because between ports, in Alaska, there are things to see, and it turns out, I need the sun to wake up. The bathroom is nicer than I expected for the small space, although in this cabin category, the shower and toilet are not divided into two private areas. There is an outlet in here next to the sink. There's a small magnifying mirror attached to the big mirror. The shower had me stumped for a bit....there's two handles, one with a blue spot, one with a red one. I turned on the red one first, and nothing happened. After a bit of experimenting, I figured out that the handle with the blue spot controls water flow, and the one with the red spot controls temperature. There's also a dispenser in the shower with shampoo and body wash (but no conditioner). Dining With ten restaurants, room service, plus a buffet, you may think it's all about the food...and for some people, it is. If you like diversity, on the Norwegian Star, you'll have it, formal to casual, American and International. Others, (like my 13 year old son) aren't interested in spending ninety minutes on a nice meal, they just keep a running total of how many slices of pizza they ate during the cruise (74). There's a restaurant for everyone. With NCL's Freestyle Cruising, there is no assigned time or table, (although the Maitre 'd can arrange it for you if you would like). You can choose from several restaurants that are included with the price of your cruise or select a specialty restaurant for an additional per person cover charge. As of August 2nd 2008 these are the rates for meals: Versailles - no charge Aqua - no charge Blue Lagoon - no charge Market Cafe - no charge The Grill - no charge Room Service - no charge La Trattoria - $10 Endless Summer - $10 Le Bistro - $15 Soho Room - $15 Ginza - $15 Cagney's - $20 Teppanyaki Room - $25 Believe it or not, we didn't have time to sample all the restaurants! Here's our take on the ones we did visit: Versailles - This is the designated "dress up" restaurant. I have to say, I heard crew members telling people they weren't supposed to wear blue jeans in this restaurant, but I saw a few pairs of blue jeans. (Jeans are welcome in any of the other restaurants). It's a beautiful place. Located in the back of the ship, with high ceilings, the entire back wall is made up of windows that look out over the ocean. We had both lunch and dinner here, but never made it for breakfast. The menu items change daily and are often gourmet dishes with foreign names. If you are traveling with picky eaters that are used to fast food, they may get frustrated when they can't figure out what some of these dishes are. Portion sizes were a bit smaller than I expected (this coming from someone that hit the average 6-14 pound weight gain on the cruise). Lobster was served on formal night, and was good, but was only a small lobster tail, not the big red crustacean presentation I was expecting. I would rate the overall food as slightly above average in appeal, variety and presentation. It was nothing to complain about, but not as good as I have had on other cruise lines. The service was fine; nothing bad about it, but nothing above average either. We usually had a bit of a wait between courses. Aqua - This restaurant shares a kitchen with Versailles and has an almost identical menu. It is smaller, darker and more intimate than Versailles. Again, we had a longer wait between courses than I would have liked, but I always hoped that my appetizer would digest in time to make room for dessert. We were among the first to be seated at 5:30 and barely finished in time to catch the 7pm show. Blue Lagoon - When one of my husband's shore excursions ran late past dinner, he came here for some chicken wings (while I waited in line for the Chocolate Buffet). He wished he had discovered this place earlier in the cruise. It's set up cafe style but has a "main thoroughfare hallway" that goes right through it. It's open 24 hours, so if you're hungry at an odd hour, and don't want to wake others in your cabin, this is the place to come. Market Cafe - This is the buffet. Due to the nature of buffets, they have a crew member at each entry door with a spray bottle of hand sanitizer. Since it's also a main hallway from one end of deck 12 to the other, you may get sanitized even if you aren't eating...no big deal. Because it was fast, and our shore excursions all seemed to start between 7 and 7:30 am, we ate breakfast here every day. There are three segments to the buffet on one side that are all different, and another segment on the opposite (port) side of the ship that becomes the La Trattoria for dinner. There was a variety of hot and cold breakfast foods that were pretty much the same from one day to the next. Lunch had a bit more variety, (including a chocolate fountain!) If you are cruising through the Market Cafe, but not staying to eat, grab a chocolate chip cookie off the dessert section of the buffet for me. (I'm sure that's where the extra pounds came from.) Room Service - My son used this once (you guessed it, pizza) and said they came pretty fast. My husband tried this the night his excursion got in late and was told due to the number of people that missed dinner because of the late excursion, it would be an hour. That is how he ended up in the Blue Lagoon. The menu choices were pretty standard with a good variety. La Trattoria - We made reservations for this restaurant first thing when we boarded the ship. It was a bit hard to find, since until it opens, it doesn't exist. It's actually the starboard side of the Market Cafe. During dinner it is transformed with Italian dEcor and becomes La Trattoria. The food was excellent, although I think we ate there on an off night. We were the second table seated after it opened, but waited a long time for service. Some friends asked us later what we thought of all the breads and dipping sauces and we said "what dipping sauces"? We didn't even have butter. I had the Lobster Ravioli and it was excellent, but there were only four normal sized Ravioli included with my entrEe (and still I gained weight.....). I suppose when you see a lot of wasted food, it's better to serve seconds than toss good food. This restaurant just started charging a cover charge. I'm on the fence about whether it was worth it. The food was great, but there was no hiding the buffet atmosphere and I'm still wondering about the dipping sauces we missed out on. Endless Summer - Here's another restaurant that just started charging a cover charge. The exterior of the restaurant is all windows with ocean views, the interior is open overlooking the Atrium. It is much more "upscale" that La Trattoria. I liked this atmosphere, except for the loud music coming up from the Atrium. The food here was great, the quantity was plentiful, but it wasn't any better than a nice Mexican restaurant at home. I'm on the fence about the cover charge here too. Cagney's Steakhouse - We came here for my husband's birthday dinner. It's on the 13th deck, so the view is stunning. The steak here is great. Of all the meals we had on board, the wait staff here interacted with us on a personal level the most; not just the person that took our orders, but also the person that brought our drinks. The staff also brought a cake over and sang Happy Birthday. It was definitely worth the cover charge. Children's Clubs NCL has separate programs for kids based on their ages. My 13 year old son participated in the Teen Program designed for 13-17 year olds. The teen program was pre-arranged and printed up on a flyer with the schedule for the whole cruise. We checked in at the Teen Center shortly after boarding and signed the release forms. There was an air hockey table, a foosball table, several computers (no internet) and a Wii. The first few activities involved "getting to know you" games. The Wii competitions were popular, but overall, turnout was pretty low. (I personally wanted to do the digital camera scavenger hunt, but didn't want to embarrass my son hang out with teenagers.) Overall, I only have two beefs with the teen program: First, shortly after setting sail, the kids were doing what I thought was a "meet & greet" activity. What really happened was they were turned loose on the ship to recruit other kids. They were supposed to be in groups, but there weren't enough kids so they were wandering around in "groups" of one or two. Whoever brought back the most kids won a prize. We happened to bump into our son wandering around by himself, lost. It's not the best way to make a good impression with a parent. Second, I was a bit frustrated to discover that the Teen Center isn't a dedicated area. It is shared with the 9-12 year olds. Activities are rotated between the groups. None of this was made clear to us. I was expecting to go to other activities on the ship knowing my son would have the teen center to hang out in, instead, I ended up arranging some of my activities around the teen schedule so he would have something to do and I would know where to find him. The very first night, we though he was in the teen center and were expecting him back at the cabin at 11pm. At 11:30 we went to the teen center to find him only to discover it was empty. In my head I'm thinking there's a big difference between a 13 year old and a 17 year old; where is my son and who is he with? My husband and I split up running up and down stairs trying to find him, he took the front half of the ship and I took the back. Our son turned up at the cabin a few minutes later. It turns out the 9-12 year olds were using the Teen Center and the 13-17 year olds had to move their activity to the ping-pong tables by the kids pool at the back of the ship. He just lost track of time. After that total body panic workout, we developed a system where we agreed on 3 places he could be during a certain time period so we could limit our workouts to the gym and know where to find him. On the second day, when my son resisted going to the Teen Center I had to grill him to find out why. It turns out, my son went down there to hang out while my husband and I were at another activity, only to be told by the counselor for the 9-12 year olds to "Get out or I'll throw you out". When I asked him to point her out to me, he knew I would bite her head off could never find her for some reason. This is how we learned that you couldn't just go to the Teen Center anytime and hangout. You have to wait until your age group has a scheduled activity. When it comes to kids, you aren't going to please everyone. As far as the Teen Program goes, the intent and planning is well organized. The logistics need work. Separate areas for the 9-12 year olds and the 13-17 year olds would resolve a lot of issues. Entertainment There was a different show in the Stardust Theater every evening (usually with two showings). The first evening on board there was a sampling of some of the different shows that would be performing on the cruise. We really loved the music, but if you notice in the "Freestyle Daily", some of the shows are rated PG-13. I don't think it would have detracted from the shows at all to be a bit less suggestive with the costumes and dance moves, especially when the teen schedule had the kids sitting together at the shows. Onboard Activities The "Freestyle Daily" is like a mini newspaper with a list of the day's activities and announcements along with the upcoming weather report. It is given to you first during the boarding process and again each evening when your cabin is turned down. More than once I was in a position where I had to choose between two activities going on at the same time. There are sports and fitness activities, NCL "U" classes on wine and cheese tasting, photography, and upcoming ports of call. There's dance classes, a Texas Hold'em Tournament and of course Bingo. We had a blast participating in the Murder Mystery Dinner and met some great folks. (Poor captain Stubing, he never saw it coming). There was time for quiet reading too on the last sea day we discovered the "Port Room" just off the Spinnaker Lounge. Disembarkation In true Freestyle form, you can pick when you disembark from a list of time frames. There are color-coded luggage tags available in the Atrium the day before disembarkation; you also fill out a form to let the crew know when you plan to leave. The norm is to leave you luggage outside your cabin door the night before so the crew can collect and sort them according to your disembarkation schedule. One option however is to disembark in the first group and carry your own luggage. We took this option, again eating at the Market Cafe for a quick eat and dash breakfast, then getting in line to end our vacation. (Quick tip: When the line in the Atrium heads back through the Blue Lagoon, instead of following it, go around the opposite direction to meet up with the end. It will be much faster.) I didn't mind hauling our own luggage. The only down side is it may take a few minutes to get an elevator that you will fit into (or your family may end up in separate elevators). Lots of people took advantage of this option and so elevators were packed full of people and suitcases. There was a long line, but it moved slow and steady. Customs was almost a non-event, (we filled out the form the night before and handed it off) and since we had our luggage with us, we were on the street in front of the pier within five minutes of stepping off the ship. Summary The Norwegian Star is a beautiful ship. It's big enough that we didn't have time to explore all of it, and diverse enough that at any time there was something fun on the schedule. The crew was friendly and a variety of food was available 24 hours a day. We enjoyed the different restaurants, but missed getting to know the wait staff. Eating "whenever" was great. The ports of call all had a lot to choose from, sometimes it was hard to choose. The Inside Passage of Alaska is great for cruisers that are concerned about seasickness. The protected waters make for smooth sailing. Cell phone service is available while in the ports of call, and spotty in between ports. If you are business owners like us, you can check in with the office off and on. The round trip sailing from Seattle makes airline connections easy too. All around, the Norwegian Star is a fantastic vacation choice. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
First Carnival cruise - Jubilee - about 15 years ago. This was a Panama Canal (part way in) to near the Equator...NO AIR CONDITIONING!!! No, it didn't break down on our cruise; it actually broke on the cruise before ours. Of ... Read More
First Carnival cruise - Jubilee - about 15 years ago. This was a Panama Canal (part way in) to near the Equator...NO AIR CONDITIONING!!! No, it didn't break down on our cruise; it actually broke on the cruise before ours. Of course, they didn't bother to tell any of the passengers who were boarding for the next trip...nor did they try to fix the A/C. Heaven help you if you were a diabetic...the only sugar reduced dessert was yellow cake. Every night they did change the frosting to another color and they gave it a different name (i.e., pink was strawberry; yellow was lemon; green was mint, etc., etc.). Okay, this was an old ship even at that time but it was always very dirty (perhaps, it was also too uncomfortable for the crew to keep things shipshape (no pun intended). After this cruise, my husband and I swore we would never sail with Carnival again. So much for swearing...move forward about 15 years... Our second (and, without a doubt our very last, forever, no way) cruise was on the Splendor. It was a brand new ship with only two voyages before ours. It was cruising out of Dover, England and would be visiting Northern Europe/Baltic ports. Our brother and sister-in-law talked us into joining them on this trip. Although we were very hesitant to go on this cruise, we decided we would give Carnival another try. I mean a brand new ship - how bad could itt be? Pretty bad, if you want my opinion. . We were on the Spa deck (10) in a handicap room (at the very front of the ship - there are two locations on board the ship for handicap access rooms (the very front or the very back (right next to the crew's metal stairway!). The doorways to these cabins have a wall opposite them making maneuverability difficult if you're using a motorized scooter. They door to the room does open automatically to let you get in when you put your card in the slot (we didn't know about this feature until we were five days into the trip because the door was not functioning when we got on the ship). One problem with that was that the door automatically closed whether you were in the room or in the doorway...smash!!!!!!!!!!! goes the door into your scooter, leg, etc. . Food was alright (nothing special). The desserts (sugar-free) were the same as on our first cruise... The food court was very disorganized and at some points on the line you actually had to reach across food to get to other food (yuck!). . The Styrofoam carvings were - well - there! Ugly - if they didn't want to do fruit carvings or ice carvings... okay, but Styrofoam with plastic flowers just didn't meet our standards. . Shore excursions - who knows! If you were unable to walk well or couldn't climb steps - you needn't bother to book any tours. You can get off the ship and ride your scooter or wheelchair up and down the dock - but, don't expect to go sightseeing. I could go on and on, but I won't. I would like to add one bit of information though, 10 years prior to this cruise we went on the Royal Princess to the same ports (with the exception of Germany) and it was FABULOUS!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
This was my 25th cruise and I have been on all the major lines except Princess. For the last four years I have cruised twice a year. My last few cruises were on the Queen Mary 2, Explorer of the Seas, Disney Wonder, Costa Magica, NCL Dawn ... Read More
This was my 25th cruise and I have been on all the major lines except Princess. For the last four years I have cruised twice a year. My last few cruises were on the Queen Mary 2, Explorer of the Seas, Disney Wonder, Costa Magica, NCL Dawn & Spirit (one night). For this trip I sailed with my family: mother, father, and two sisters (one 23 and the other 15). They too have cruised over 20 times.   EMBARKATION We did roof top parking at the NYC pier. We live 20 minutes away in suburban NYC so we drove in. Once in the pier (which was fully redone- pier 88) we waited about an hour to board. This was nothing out of the ordinary but it went by quick and we were on the ship and headed straight to our cabin. We got on around 2:30 or so.   CABIN We had two Category E oceanview rooms with picture windows on deck 5 next door to one another. Cabin#s 5550 & 5552. The cabins were nicely furnished and small which is a staple on most cruise ships. Having sailed the Spirit before on the one night I know that some of the rooms were worn and these two were a bit as well. Nothing big but they could use new rugs. We had new beds and I loved them! Very nice. In the room I was in we had a third person sleeping in the open up sofa bed. This can obstruct the passage to the bathroom. The cabin also had a bunk as well. I would say if you are traveling with three use the bunk instead. My sistser is not fond "heights" plus there was not a rail guard on the bunk so she did not want to use it. Nevertheless the room was relatively fine but I found a few things that I did not care for such as a dirty condom in back of the sleeper sofa. Only reason why I went back there was to get something that fell and out I came with that plus some dried cheerios, bracelet, an earning and a shower cap! I never did let the steward know. It did not ruin my trip but I do think that is sloppy housekeeping to say the least. I know the stewards work hard for no money but they should take a look behind things once in a while.   FOOD To me it was average. Nothing really stood out except the cookies and pretzel rolls at the buffet. Loved them! Buffet food was just that buffet food I ate here for breakfast and some lunches. Dinners I took in Windows and the Garden Room. Windows was a lovely room - bright and airy; while the Garden Room was small and dark looking. I found the selection to be average I liked what I ate but again nothing really stood out. The first night I ate at Shogun and generally enjoyed what I had.   PORTS I have been to most of the ports already but enjoy going back. San Juan I walked around the old town. Tortola I took the beach escape excursion to Cane Beach. It was a lovely stretch of beach though it seemed crowded. In the Dominican Republic I did the Cayo Levantado excursion which was excellent. As many posters have indicated in these forums it is a beautiful place and it was HOT too. I ended up returning early to the ship. I did not want too but I felt like I was cooking!!!! I was very lucky to have perfect weather for the entire cruise. The sun was always shining and the sea was smooth. Very enjoyable, you can't ask for better!   ENTERTAINMENT I am not one for floor shows so I don't go to salute Broadway and the 70s and the 80s and the 90s. But I did see Second City and I love them. I saw them in Vegas and on the Dawn and the shows they do don't disappoint! I did see the crew show and thought it was enjoyable. There was a lounge act - pair of singers of which I forgot their names - who were excellent. I have to look there names up on the Freestyle Daly. When I unpack I will find them. They were superb and the women had some voice. Overall I liked what I saw but I do think that too many daytime activities focused on buying something. More on this....   WHAT I LIKED -I like freestyle this was my fourth time doing it and it always works for me. Two nights I waited 10-15 minutes, otherwise my entire family of 5 never had a problem. I know some have had different encounters with freestyle (including some clients of mine) and I can see that the Spirit had more lines than I can remember from the Dawn but I honestly can say it was a pleasure for my family! I like to eat when I am hungry. -I like the size of the ship. The Spirit is now considered average size but it makes getting around easy. -I love the walk around promenade. I think those days of promenades are numbered on the new ships! -And I loved the back of the ship - all of those terraced decks are wonderful places to sit back and relax in the sun.   WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER Don't kill me over these comments! - think that NCL has become the leader in surcharges and commercialism onboard. Having cruised recently on competing cruise line such as RCI, NCL definitely has increased the number of surcharges for their restaurants and so many daytime activities focus on revenue generating. I understand they are a company and need to make money all of the cruise lines do but I feel based on my experience with many different lines that they lead the pack. Maybe RCI has done this as well recently but the last time I cruised with them which was six months ago they did not. Yes, RCI and other lines have the art auctions, wine tasting and a surcharge restaurant or two but I felt NCL has more of this. One thing in particular is NCLU which is an enrichment program they have been touting to the travel agent community for months. My rep from NCL came in and spoke of it. Most days they had 4 or 5 NCLU "enrichment programs" and only one or two was free the rest had $15 surcharges because they involved alcohol. The same with the restaurants they now have made all specialty restaurants fee based. I understand it is higher quality food but remember you do pay for the cruise which does include food. What I did find was that the service in Shogun was very good while the service in the free or included restaurants was poor. I want to make it clear that this did not make my vacation poor it just gave the cruise a "cheap" feeling to it (and that is clearly my opinion). I want to make it clear that NCL is not the only line who does this all major mass market lines are similar in that they want to generate a lot of onboard revenue; I just felt that it was more on NCL. -As I stated before I thought the dining room service in the included restaurants was poor. Waited over 20 minutes to get menus one night, wrong orders and almost all the waiters don't even introduce themselves. I hate to sound nitpicky but if I go to a neighborhood Applebee's of TGIFriday's the waiters introduce themselves. This is not a big deal but just an observation. -The ship is a really a very nice handsome vessel that I think is even a bit classier looking then the Dawn. I just think they should give her one of those big makeovers and she would be a knockout. I know she is going in for a November dry-dock but she could benefit from a big overhaul just to give her that a fresher look. That does not mean they should do away with some of the Asian dEcor. I like it! -Lastly NCL has abandon the comment card select people from the cruise will be emailed a comment card and the rest can just mail in their comments to the corporate office. I do not care for this.   All in all I had a great time and hate to be home! Please don't think I am NCL bashing because I know some people in this forum may take it that way. I cheerlead for NO cruise line! I have favorites like Celebrity but I do not intend to offend diehard NCL fans. Just giving my opinion on the ship as both a travel agent and frequent cruiser. I would recommend the ship to anyone looking for a three star, three star plus experience she is not a 5 star ship and was never meant to be. I like NCL and think they have a good product but I feel that they nickel and dime you more so than others. Nevertheless, NCL is a viable product in the mass market cruise business which mainly include their biggest competitors Carnival and Royal Caribbean. I would definitely cruise with them again, may not be my first choice but I am always up for variety!!   Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
To start the embarkation process was fast and easy. We were traveling with our kids ages 5 & 10. Once on board our staterooms we ready and we were anxious to start our vacation. To sum up the highlights of the cruise: Margi Gras dining ... Read More
To start the embarkation process was fast and easy. We were traveling with our kids ages 5 & 10. Once on board our staterooms we ready and we were anxious to start our vacation. To sum up the highlights of the cruise: Margi Gras dining room with George The Greek is fantastic. We really enjoyed his service, he has exceeded our expectations. he was the maitre'd in in this dining room and on other cruises we haven't even so much as greeted the maitre'd, so this was different. My kids loved Camp Carnival, I recommend it, they have activities all throughout the day for them and fairly inexpensive at night. The ports were Grand Cayman and Cozumel. I strongly suggest doing excursions on your own, the ship was over charging at least 30 to $60 pp on some tours. Very safe in cayman to go off on your own and cozumel was surprisingly reliable with taxi service. The shows in the paris lounge were on par with other cruises. Comedy shows were just okay nothing to brag about. My only complaint is that the pool is too small for 2,000 people. Most times we could not find a chair. Serenity area is over rated nothing there but a hot tub. This was our 5th cruise and I have to say we had no complaints on the food, whereas on some we have had to skip meals for nonsatisfaction. Everything was always cleaned and organized. As I said better than expected and if I could I would probably go on this ship again except I don;t like repeating ships :-) I strongly recommend for people with kids, plenty of them running around having fun. Lots of families with children on board. I wouldn't do this ship without kids, I would choose another. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
We (Me, my Wife, my Son, his wife and my 2 grand daughters ages 14 and 6) had a great 5 day cruise on the Ecstasy to the Bahamas. Our cabin was E60 and E28. The cabins was nice the Cabin steward was good. The ship was clean and the crew ... Read More
We (Me, my Wife, my Son, his wife and my 2 grand daughters ages 14 and 6) had a great 5 day cruise on the Ecstasy to the Bahamas. Our cabin was E60 and E28. The cabins was nice the Cabin steward was good. The ship was clean and the crew was very friendly and seems to be a very happy ship. Entertainment: We saw the comedy club for 4 shows 2 regular and 2 x rated. They were ok but the late shows were the same as the early shows with a few cuss words. There was a show the Blues Brothers that was fantastic, The Cruise Director Chris stared in it and he was great. He is very entertaining and held the audience. In my 10 Cruises he is the first one to make a difference in my Cruise. The show The Brits were very entertaining, We never did catch the Motown show. Food: We ate in the MDR Windstar we had anytime dinning but manage to have the same wait staff for all our dinners. The food was excellent. Our wait staff was outstanding Robert, Armnando and Fernando were Great the service was outstanding, they really made over my granddaughter. The Ports: This is where this cruise lets you down. I knew this when I booked it . We like the ship and wanted to enjoy what the ship had to offer. First port was Freeport it is a quiet island which offers to little to cruisers. We had book the glass bottom boat but they cancel it because there were only 8 people booked. We walked along the shops at the port and returned. My wife and I rested on deck reading the Grandkids enjoyed the pool and the slides. They had a great time. The second Port was Nassau. I have been here about 5 or 6 times it has more than Freeport but is a dirty nasty place the first thing you face venders trying to sell you junk, they will use anything they can including threats to harm you. Once past them there are stores most of them are honest and above board but don't go much more than 2 or three blocks from the port. On one cruise that stopped there c'ruisers have gotten robbed so stay close to the ship. The straw market offers a lot of stuff but never pay the price asked for it is all marked up very high. They will haggle on every item. Most items you see there will have 4 or 5 sellers of the same item so shop around. My son having been there before refused to get off the ship so we stayed on board. The 3rd port was Half Moon Cay. This is heaven on earth my first stop here and we loved it. We rented a cabana it was beautiful the beach was wonderful the lunch was prepared by the ships dinning staff with Hot dogs, Hamburgers and most of the items offered at the ships grill. The water was a pretty blue we all had a great time. The last day was a sea day which we did the same an in the first port. A very good cruise!   Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
My husband of 37 years and I decided on a whim to take an Inside Passage cruise because the price was right and it was a trip we hoped to make "someday". I had taken a 3-day cruise to the Bahamas earlier in the year and my ... Read More
My husband of 37 years and I decided on a whim to take an Inside Passage cruise because the price was right and it was a trip we hoped to make "someday". I had taken a 3-day cruise to the Bahamas earlier in the year and my husband had not cruised before. We are very seasoned travelers, but not experienced cruisers. Well, in 37 years of marriage this cruise was the most relaxed we had ever been on vacation! Our every need was addressed and even some we didn't think of! If you want to relax, take a cruise! I never had to think about where we were going today, what am I going to cook today, do we need gas for the rental car, where shall we sightsee today, the only thing we had to think about is what dining room shall we use today and should we get out of bed or stay in bed and be slugs? Princess has everything down to a science from meeting your flight upon arrival and retrieving your suitcases and getting them where they need to go, to the fast check-in procedures. Everything works like a well-oiled machine! As we entered the Diamond Princess we were directed to our stateroom which we found with no problem and were greeted immediately by our steward. He proved to be very efficient, always doing his work when we weren't around. We got directions from him where to get some food as we hadn't eaten in probably 10 hours, got something right away and made arrangements for dinner. We booked so late that we did not have a reserved dining time and room, but we could select one of 4 restaurants and make reservations there if we liked, or we could dine in the buffet area any time. I am a gluten-free egg-free nut-free person due to allergies so I needed to have personal attention. By the second evening we found the perfect head waiter and waiter who were diligent is making sure I had the correct food every night. I can't say enough about those two guys. They both got a nice tip from us when we left! The food was simply divine every evening. Breakfast was good daily although I was extremely limited on what I could eat. If you can eat eggs and bread stuff, you will have no problem. Lunch was usually the buffet and I could usually get something. Only once I couldn't get anything appropriate, that was Italian Day. All pasta. If we had booked sooner we would have had a set dining room and time for all meals and I would have fared much better. The weather was not good throughout this cruise. It was very windy, rainy, and chilly except for one day, when we were in Ketchikan. So although we went to see the ports, it became more about the ship and the cruise! Our excursions in each port were wonderful even if the weather was bad. Many people didn't take their excursions and remained on the ship. The stateroom size was adequate, the queen bed was very cozy, the room itself was kept very clean. It was very quiet for sleeping, never any noise at all. Our cruise began in Whittier and ended in Vancouver. If you have a choice I would recommend round trip Seattle or at least end in Seattle. We had a 2 hour wait at customs crossing the border and did not have much time to catch our flight. However, not Princess' fault. Checking out is very efficient and going through customs proved a quick deal once we got to it, buses were there waiting to take us to the airport. It was great. In fact, everything was great. I highly recommend Princess, and cruising. It is a great value for the money and an extremely relaxing vacation. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Embarkation: We live in PA, so we took a bus to NY, which is very nice. We arrived at the port at approx. 10:30am, and were on board by about 11:15ish. The NY port is nice and decently organized for the location. Check-in did take a ... Read More
Embarkation: We live in PA, so we took a bus to NY, which is very nice. We arrived at the port at approx. 10:30am, and were on board by about 11:15ish. The NY port is nice and decently organized for the location. Check-in did take a little longer than expected because of computer problems, but no big deal. Otherwise, smooth embarkation. Ship: Very nice ship. I read some reviews about the decor being cheap and gaudy looking, but found it funky and fun. I really liked it. The dining room is covered in grapes, but its not as bad as it sounds. The theater is filled with greek gods "raising the roof". Other than that, the decor is normal for Carnival. The pools are nice. The overall layout of the ship is nice too, it never feels crowded. Staterooms are the same as every other Carnival ship. Food: Buffet was nicely laid out. The food was typical of Carnival, but I was never disappointed. Dining Room was great. Very good food. Entertainment: Good, as always. Activities: Just about the same as everyother Carnival ship, but it was still fun. They did have a walk for Breast Cancer on the ship, which we really enjoyed. Def. something you should do. Children's Clubs: We traveled with a 16-year old and she tried Club O2. Very nice, new club, but there weren't many kids on our cruise, so she didn't spend much time there. Service: Awesome. We have never had bad service on a Carnival ship. Debarkation: Went smoothy, no problems. Used the self-assist program and were off the ship within 30 minutes of docking. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
I booked this cruise as a treat for my daughter during our holiday to Florida. As we only had 10 days in all, a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas was perfect. We have previously cruised with Carnival and Royal Caribbean and thought it would be ... Read More
I booked this cruise as a treat for my daughter during our holiday to Florida. As we only had 10 days in all, a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas was perfect. We have previously cruised with Carnival and Royal Caribbean and thought it would be nice to try a different cruising style. In future we'll stick with the "formal". EMBARKATION was quick and easy, with no queues and we were aboard in no time at all. We were greeted with a complimentary drink as we boarded. THE SHIP itself I thought was quite nicely presented, all public areas were clean and well maintained. However, we did find it quite difficult to find our way around as there doesn't seem to be a direct route to anywhere, and we did have trouble navigating our way from place to place in the beginning. OUR CABIN was OK, clean and fairly comfortable but very basic with a tiny bathroom and an awful shower curtain - the type that clings. Courtesy toiletries were cheap and nasty. I had eagerly awaited the arrival of "fluffy animals" in our cabin, but alas, there were none!! FOOD was very disappointing and left a lot to be desired. The buffet was the worst I've ever had, and everything was loaded with salt. Choices were very limited, lacking in imagination and repetitive during the cruise. A lot of the dishes weren't being replenished as they were emptied, and no-one seemed to care. Breakfast in the main dining room was lovely, lots of choices, but evening meals were less pleasing. The portions were small, and again everything I had contained too much salt. ENTERTAINMENT was OK but you had to be in the theatre waaaay in advance of the shows starting to get a seat, otherwise you were stood squashed in at the back of the auditorium. To sum up, we enjoyed ourselves during the cruise and didn't let the negative things spoil our holiday, but cant say I was impressed by anything aboard this ship. I'm pleased it wasn't our first cruise, and would steer away from "freestyle" cruising in the future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
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
We had a fantastic cruise! We were first time cruisers, and didn't know exactly what to expect, but it was great. Our cabin was very nice and adequately equipped. The ship was always clean.The staff in the dining room was great. ... Read More
We had a fantastic cruise! We were first time cruisers, and didn't know exactly what to expect, but it was great. Our cabin was very nice and adequately equipped. The ship was always clean.The staff in the dining room was great. I'm a vegetarian and had no issues finding a good meal.We were a little disappointed with the shows; they seemed just slightly better than a lot of high school drama performances I've attended. Not painful to sit through, but not deserving of any accolades either. We enjoyed the comedian and the bars at night. The casino was just your average casino.We spent as much time in port as possible and spent the rest of our time on our balcony, so not much more to report about the ship. It wasn't really pool weather but we did soak in one of the hot tubs shortly after the ship left Vancouver, and it was perfect! Almost no crowds, and great views. I would never do this cruise without a balcony. Too much beautiful scenery! Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
I got off of the Destiny yesterday morning after a great cruise. During this review I will likely be in comparison to NCL as my last 2 cruises have been with them. Embarkation - Organized & smooth Ship - There is certainly ... Read More
I got off of the Destiny yesterday morning after a great cruise. During this review I will likely be in comparison to NCL as my last 2 cruises have been with them. Embarkation - Organized & smooth Ship - There is certainly evidience visible on this ship that suggests a makeover should be in the near future (and it is) but it didn't affect my good time. There are also public spaces that are interesting, modern and fine the way they are. The ship was kept clean by the staff and in my opinion was comfortable and classy. Room - I had a standard balcony cabin on the lido deck and the location was convenient to everything. Perfect! Our cabin attendant whose name was Danny was a standout even in a good service atmosphere and deserves to be mentioned. Bed comfortable, shower big, good TV channels, no complaints. Dining - I have never used the main dining rooms on a cruise as often as I did on this ship. This might have been a mistake in the past but I do know the caliber of food in ship dining rooms in my experience. I have to say I don't think people are very kind on their reviews of Carnivals food. I work in the food industry and feel like I have an educated opinion on this subject. I thought the food was very good. Best food I have had on a cruise to date. I had worried after hearing reviews but everything in the dining room was not only good but very good. This was the best part of the cruise all the way around was the food service from floor staff, to back of the house staff and management obviously worked as a team and really had it together on this ship. Good Job! By the way i ordered room service twice on this cruise and the food was fresh & perfect temperature as well as surprisingly fast & friendly both times. Again good job. More importantly good teamwork, that's how this great hospitality is accomplished. Service - Overall it was average. Certain staff was good to average others especially the casino staff seemed cold to down right icy. At least be nice while I am donating. This area needs work but again I don't need a wave and smile every time I pass you in the hallway. Everyone got their job done. Ports - I loved the itinerary. It worked for what we were looking for on this cruise. Grand Cayman is affluent & beautiful and Ocho Rios is somewhat poor and beautiful. I will say that as my first time in Jamaica I had a great time and would go back. Find a good (licensed) cab driver, make a deal and have fun. He'll take care of you. I think Jamaica gets a bad rap. That was not my experience. Entertainment - Comedians were fun. I did not see much that interested me at the theater and didn't see the shows so I don't know. Could use more daytime activities to take up time and get to know people. Overall - Excellent cruise and for my first carnival cruise. The reviews I read before going made it look sketchy and I thought it was great. They give you everything you need to have yourself the best vacation ever. Just don't waste too much time complaining or you might miss it all. 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
3 passengers, wife 2 b, her sister and my self. Booked a balcony, on the 12th floor (Aloha), in the middle. This was my 3rd cruise, 1st with Princess. Previous cruises were with Norwegian (to Alaska and to Bermuda). Flew into Ft. ... Read More
3 passengers, wife 2 b, her sister and my self. Booked a balcony, on the 12th floor (Aloha), in the middle. This was my 3rd cruise, 1st with Princess. Previous cruises were with Norwegian (to Alaska and to Bermuda). Flew into Ft. Lauderdale on the 18th of October for the cruise leaving on the 19th. Previous experience had proved that flying in the morning of the cruise is not necessarily a good idea; almost missed my cruise from NYC last year even though the flight was scheduled to land at 8:30 am for a cruise that was leaving at 4pm! Pre Cruise: - Stayed at the Comfort Inn Airport/ Cruise port (great prices available by booking through southwest.com around $80/ 3 ppl inc. breakfast and am newspaper). The Comfort Inn offers complimentary shuttles from the airport and to the cruise port, so it was ideal for our needs. The airport shuttle wasn't great as for whatever reason the driver kept going around the airport without picking anyone up, but then again, its free, so can't complain too much. Got to the cruiseport at 12:30pm on the 26th. There was a bit of a line up for the embarkation, but around 30 mins later, we were through it all and into our cabins. There were some comments from previous reviews around the cards not working, but this was not the case for us. I would say the entire embarkation process met my expectations. There was a minimum of hassle (other than the 20 - 25 min wait time). The 'purser' was polite, answered the questions we had, etc. The cabin was an absolute delight. It was pretty big (considering this is a ship), ample room to hang clothes, a nice dresser, couple of chairs in the room and a couple of deck chairs and a table on the balcony. Also had a mini fridge, and a hair dryer. I was very impressed with the layout, kudos to Princess for getting this right. Again, this was my 1st balcony, but comparing with previous cabins on Norwegian, pretty good. Hit the buffet for a quick bite (yes, you can have lunch on board the ship) and then took a couple of hours to roam around the ship while no one else was! Everything was empty, so we got a really good look at the dining rooms, the gym, the sanctuary, the pools, hot tubs, theatre, lounges, casino, library, etc. Very impressive! The main atrium is 'only' 4 floor high, but well done. The ship is well laid out, if you stopped for a moment to think about it, everything was fairly intuitive. The ship left on time and it was a real joy to stand on the balcony and watch it move through the channel and out into the bay. On to the cruising stuff Dining: - Adequate. Excellent variety, but just didn't hit the spot for me or the folks travelling with me. Don't get me wrong, the choice is really excellent. There were 2 buffets (the Horizon Court and the Cafe Caribe). The Horizon Court had the standard buffet stuff while the Cafe Caribe was themed (one day Creole, one day Sushi, one day Oriental, etc). Then you had the main dining room (Michelangelo or Da Vinci if you chose anytime) and Botticelli (if you chose fixed time). You also had pizzas, hot dogs, burgers and the like. The quality of the food and the service in the dining rooms was not the issue at all. 5 stars here. The taste however left a little to be desired. Since we were 3, there was usually the option of ordering everything (with a couple of exceptions) on the menu and we usually did so. There were only 2 - 3 appetizers and perhaps 4 - 5 main courses that impressed thought all the meals. The rack of lamb was amazing, the barramundi with garam masala was delectable and the spicy pot pie was delicious. Alaskan king crab legs with drawn butter and a touch of lemon made you not want to stop eating. Most of the other dishes were more than acceptable, but nothing to blow you away, which was surprising. Same goes for the buffet. Everything was good, nothing was spectacular. A point to note is the buffet generally served similar items to the dining rooms, so if you are not in the mood to dress up, its an option. I would suggest eating breakfast at the buffet, hitting Michelangelo and Da Vinci immediately after to see what the lunch and dinner menus are (one does not serve lunch and as such, will already have the dinner menu posted) and deciding on which meal to do the sit down and which meal to do the buffet. The cafe caribe 'theme' is in the patter (daily letter), so that could help with the decision as well. The pizza is an excellent option. Afternoon tea should also be tried at least once. Fruit was outstanding through out. Cheese selections were adequate. Bread selections were good for lunch time, sadly lacking for breakfast and dinner. I would also suggest trying one of the pay for restaurants. We tried Sabatini's and that was the highlight (in terms of ambiance, service, quality and taste of the food). They also have a good wine selection; we had a Chablis that went well with our mostly seafood selection. Entertainment: - So, so. The princess theatre didn't always have the best shows and I have to say Princess perhaps skimped on the quality of this. Norwegian definitely had better shows. The comedy shows were good (2 of the 3), the rest of it could be skipped. The production/ dance show as elaborate with costumes and showmanship, but no theme line to it whatsoever. Explorers lounge had some good stuff (newly wed game, peer pressure, etc), so that might be a better option. Quite honestly, I don't think we would have necessarily missed a whole lot (other than a couple of days) if we had simply skipped the theatre altogether. This was definitely not the case with the previous couple of cruises, so Princess disappointed here. Other entertainment was fine. The usual ping pong tournaments, wii tournaments, pool games and the like. Also a scavenger hunt and other little things like dance classes, ceramic classes, etc. The enrichment was sub - expectation (or perhaps I wasn't looking for the right things). The usual talks on the place before visiting them were missing. We didn't go for the port shopping talk, so perhaps it was covered there. There was a pay class for computers, but really, learning computers on a cruise? Ports: - Very good. Started off @ Princess Cays. Lots of things for folks who don't want to spend. Bring your own snorkels and masks and there is good snorkeling right off the beach. Also, while the deck chairs with the shade are to be paid for, if you want to sun bathe on the deck chairs without, feel free. It's also a nice walk from one end to the other. Princess has a lunch buffet (yes, more food), but pretty standard fare. Good beach, nothing to write home about. St Maarten was next. The shopping opportunities were amazing. Alcohol was ridiculous. Cruzan rum can be had for $7, Appleton's Estate reserve for $10 and so on. It's a roughly 20 min walk from were the ship docks to town, assuming you can walk it, do it. The town has better prices on most items (including the alcohol) compared to the 'duty free' shops at the cruise port. We love to walk around town to 'get a feel' so did that for around an hour. Visited Pinel Island. The snorkeling off the island is very good. Don't waste your time around the shore, head out a little for the better stuff. If you have some time after snorkeling, take 20 mins to hit the little hill and get to the top of the island. Great views. Didn't visit Orient beach, but heard it was good. The best way to get to Pinel Island is to take cab. Prices are fixed, but you could bargain if you wish. We didn't and paid $50 for a return trip for the 3 of us (the return trip was back to the boat, not just to town). Other folks suggested they got better prices. Skip the public system if you planning to got to Pinel. Don't know about Orient Beach. St Thomas followed. The walk from Crown Bay (where the ship docks) to Charlotte Amalie is about 25 - 30 mins. Cab is $4 per person. For us, the walk was acceptable and so we did it (walked off some of the food!). Spent some time in town and then hopped on the public safari bus to Coki beach ($2/ person). The snorkeling here was really something else. The fish are absolutely addicted to dog biscuits. Flash one in the water and you will be surrounded in no time. Watch your fingers! Good fish variety and spectacular numbers (literally in the 100's) ... enjoyed ourselves! For the non water lovers, there is Coral Island that we heard was very good ($20 entry), but didn't feel the need to try it given the excellent snorkeling right off the shore. Trip back was by cab ($25/ 3). You could ask the cab driver to stop at Magens bay on the way back. Grand Turk was the last port of call. Its still recovering from the hurricane, so nothing to write home about. Swim and sun on the beach close to where the boat docks. You could also snorkel, but really, nothing much to see. We did see a lobster, so that was different, but nothing other than that. Overall value: OK. I will try other cruise lines before trying Princess again. Post cruise: The boat gets in around 7:30am and you can choose the 'quick disembark'. It requires you to take your bags with you, but essentially, you will be at the airport ($15 cab ride) by 9am. As such, you could book a 11am flight out and be comfortable about making it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
This cruise was an early Christmas present for my 75 year old father, since he was unable to cruise with us over the holiday. It was also the first cruise my dad had taken in over 20 years! I live in Jacksonville so we had an easy 2 ... Read More
This cruise was an early Christmas present for my 75 year old father, since he was unable to cruise with us over the holiday. It was also the first cruise my dad had taken in over 20 years! I live in Jacksonville so we had an easy 2 l/4 hour drive to Port Canaveral. My father has difficulty walking; however, since he lives in Colorado and had flown to Florida, he did not have his handicapped pass with him. I explained this to the parking attendants and they permitted us to park in the lot closest to the ship. Our cruise was off to a great start! As a platinum member (and since we were in a suite) we were entitled to priority boarding. As usual, it was a breeze. Once onboard, we found a couple of chairs on the deck and enjoyed the sun and drinks until we were able to go to our cabin about 1:30. I had reserved a Cat 12 suite. The cabin was spacious and well appointed. Yes, the ship is older and showing some wear, but everything was clean and our room steward was delightful. As usual, the carnival beds and bedding were extremely comfortable and we enjoyed the robes they provided as we lounged on the balcony. I have been on many cruises and, with the exception of my first one, have always booked a balcony room. To me, it is one of the highlights of the cruise. We had late dining which is great when you are in port and don't want to rush back from an excursion. The food was acceptable, although selections weren't as good as some other Carnival ships. One night we ate at the buffet and it was fine, too. Our servers were wonderful and I found the staff as a whole to be exceptionally knowledgeable and polite. In Freeport, we took the jeep tour. As a rule, I don't usually book excursions through the trip, but thought it would be easier with my dad along. This was a wonderful trip around the Grand Bahama Island with some great stops and an excellent lunch in a botanical garden. We also had about an hour of beach time, although the facilities (bar, restaurant) were not open, nor were we able to use the chair. The water, however, was awesome. I booked a room at the Comfort Suites in Nassau so that we could enjoy the Atlantis facilities. I have done this many times and it's a good deal. Unfortunately, since my dad had some difficulty getting around, we weren't able to do too much. However, we enjoyed the casino, the Dig and lounging by the pool with drinks in hand. We didn't take in any of the shows since I have cruised on Sensation before and my dad wasn't particularly interested. I visited the Piano Bar which is usually one of the highlights of my cruises; however, it was usually almost empty. The piano player was very good, but I think the location on the ship made it difficult to find. We had some fun in the casino and I actually won some this trip! VIP debarkation was fantastic. We were the first two people off the ship and were in our car about 8 am! In summation, the Sensation is a nice, older ship which is going in for renovations in January, during which time they will be adding balconies to some oceanview cabins. That will be a nice touch. This is a wonderful, short cruise for people wanting a quick, relatively inexpensive, getaway. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
There are two sides to Disney cruise - adults and kids. I will try to address both. I have to say that kids part of the cruise was above expectations and Disney cruise is an absolutely amazing experience and vacation for kids, specially ... Read More
There are two sides to Disney cruise - adults and kids. I will try to address both. I have to say that kids part of the cruise was above expectations and Disney cruise is an absolutely amazing experience and vacation for kids, specially for girls ages 3 to 7, even though kids of all ages and genders will have a blast on the ship. Adult part of the vacation was a bit disappointing and did not meet our expectations in any area. We went off the ship very tired and ready for a real vacation. Our background: we have been on 18 cruises on majority of mass market cruise lines, this was our first (one and only) cruise on Disney. We have planned this vacation for a long time but because it is more expensive then all other cruises we would always choose something else instead of Disney. I am 38, my husband is 46, kids are 14 and 7, and we live in Florida and usually take 2 cruises a year. We drove from South Florida a day before and stayed in Radisson for the night. It sounded convenient not to wake up early in the morning and have a long drive, but rather wake up already packed, have breakfast and go on the ship. Also we wanted to use free parking at the hotel and use free shuttle to and from ship. Well, that idea backfired and the stay was not worth $150. The hotel is old and rooms are like Motel 6, very uncomfortable number sleep bed, mediocre breakfast, shuttle that you have to sign up for and wait for it for 45 minutes on the way to the port, and wait 1hour and 15 minutes on the way from the ship to pick up your car. Embarkation: The worst we've ever had. Very slow, long lines, they let families go one by one and announce them at the entrance to the ship. It took forever to get on the ship, not a pleasant experience at all. Cabin: Balcony cabin with sofa that converts to queen size bed. Very roomy, plenty of space for luggage, separate toilet and shower rooms, the best shower/bath combination we've ever seen on any cruise line. Balcony is small but cozy, TV with Disney channels. Kids cruise: Kids are being entertained on this cruise constantly; the kids program is the best on the Ocean. From 8 am to 1 am non-stop entertainment, games, computers, Nintendo, Wii, science lab, show, movies - kids love it. Disney characters are everywhere throughout the ship, Disney movies are on all screens, everything is catered to kids. Kids menus are very good, pirates night is an excellent entertainment, waiters and staff are very attentive to kids. Kids were never treated with such attention on any cruise line before. Our waiter would chop their salads for them, cut their meat in little edible pieces, draw Mickey with ketchup, and create super fun deserts. Kids Entertainment: The best production shows we've seen in the last 10 years - Broadway quality - all 3 shows were excellent. Very entertaining for kids and adults. Excellent ventriloquist, very good orchestra, excellent cruise director and staff. Very nice pirate night and the best midnight parade on deck. No other cruise line have anything similar to Disney's show on the deck, fireworks in the middle of the Ocean, or Princess Ball and character farewell show for kids. Private Island: Very easy to get off/on the ship - no tenders. Great Island, gorgeous beach, very nice BBQ lunch. The best entertainment on the island - Stitch, pirates, Mickey, Winnie, games, music - excellent. Kids had a blast. Adult Entertainment: Kids productions show, kids dance party, kids meet the princess, kids ventriloquist. There is no adult entertainment on the ship. Even late night adults only comedian uses kids jokes and is not funny. Disco night and rap karaoke were too little too late to be enjoyable. There is nothing to do on the ship throughout the day for adults. Nothing is geared toward adults. Itinerary: Nassau - nothing special, we stayed on the ship, most people did the same. Kids program was open and kids enjoyed their time with characters. There was nothing to do for adults all day but schlep kids from character to character, sign then in and out of the program, take them to the movie, etc. The day at sea - forget about relaxing by the pool or having a nice time on deck. If you have no kids you could go to an adult pool and enjoy nice lounge chairs and empty pool. However, if you have kids or if you are 18 or less the only pool option for you is tiny square tub where you cannot swim, you can stand there in 3 ft of water and try to avoid splashing teens and kids. The huge movie screen is on top of you, every one of 900 kids onboard are surrounding you, their mothers, fathers, uncles and extended families are yelling and trying to find their kids in the mob of kids. Not a very pleasant experience. Again absolutely nothing is catered toward adults. No learning classes, no dance classes, no adult trivia games, no adult pool games, no adult music or entertainment by the pool. Private Island is great but also just for kids. Dining: We could not go to an adult restaurant, out kids said that it was unfair for adults to be alone on the kids ship. Also when we go on a cruise we like to have all meals together as a family and try to spend dinner and show time every night with kids. So all dining was done at the main dining rooms. Dinner menu was mediocre at best, there were no shrimps and no lobsters on any night, food was tasteless at best, cod filet had bones in it. There was nothing on the menu that I would want to eat ever again. Again kids were entertained, adults were forgotten. Lunch selection in Parrot Cay was better then dinner selection. Breakfast and lunch service was poor, there would be no clean plates, no-one would bring coffee or juice, no silverware on the tables. Midnight grill on the deck was fine, not great, but ok. Midnight snakes throughout the ship were ok, but not great. Pizza was terrible and even kids did not want to eat it. Grill had limited selection but kids enjoyed it, fresh salad and wrap bar on the deck was very nice. Ice cream on deck was popular spot for kids. Again, service was lacking in every dining venue. Service: Overall fair, for adults - poor. Room steward, waiters, staff - not friendly, "let me do my job and leave me alone" attitude. Last night on the ship the room steward knocked on the door every 5 minutes hurrying us up to get our luggage out the door by 11 pm. Last morning breakfast, there were no waiters in out part of dining room, to get coffee we had to go with a cup to the other side of dining room and try to stop someone with coffee pot to get some coffee. If we had small kids we would consider Disney cruise again in a few years, but our kids are older and I don't see us going on Disney cruise ever again. It is an expensive vacation and I don't see the value in spending your money and precious vacation time on vacation that leaves you less then satisfied and more tired at the end then when you started it. This vacation is a hard work because instead of being pampered and cared for and entertained and having quiet adult time by the pool, you have to constantly take kids from place to place, from photo op to photo op, from nascar to captain hook, from pool to lunch, from movie to club, etc and always try to make sure that they did not miss any fun since it is their cruise not yours. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
We wanted to cruise the Greek Isles and chose MSC, rather than Costa Cruises because the itinerary included both Santorini & Mykonos. We considered the cruise to be reasonably priced, but like anything you get what you pay for. In ... Read More
We wanted to cruise the Greek Isles and chose MSC, rather than Costa Cruises because the itinerary included both Santorini & Mykonos. We considered the cruise to be reasonably priced, but like anything you get what you pay for. In future, we will not hesitate to spend more $$$ on a premium cruise line as we know appreciate that they represent value-for-money. In a nut-shell; YES: * A beautiful ship. Lovely staterooms - contemporary-style. * Fun itinerary. Fantastic ports if you want the best of the Greek Isles, however there is not much time in Mykonos which is a shame. * Sushi Restaurant. You pay for this, but well worth it! Sushi is one choice on the menu. You can also enjoy fresh, cooked to order satay dishes, vegetables & stir-fry's etc. * Delicious gelato! * Italian's love to dance. It was fun to watch them have a good time late at night. * Children travel free and eat free. NO: * Average to poor food. Mass-produced/ re-heatable, un-imaginative - terrible presentation. In-consistent quality and often luke warm. * Average service in the dining room. It took too long btw courses. * No buffet-style evening meals offered as an alternative to the main dining room. * Extremely limited room-service menu (important if you don't like what's being served in the main dining room). You pay for room service. * We phoned for ice. It took at least 3 phone chasers. We rcvd it about 40mins later! * Expensive alcoholic drinks * 2nd Sitting-dining is too late! 9.30pm * Poor management in the Pizza restaurant. Not enough staff, hence orders were being mixed up and guests left the restaurant. This is not the fault of the dining staff, but management. Poor listening. Poor English. They couldn't understand us. * No smiles or genuine customer service from staff. You had to get their attention to order drinks on deck. * We found the Italians to be somewhat arrogant. Pushing in, in queues for the buffet lunch, not giving way in the elevators, pushing whilst waiting to disembark on tenders. Maybe that's just a cultural difference, but usually common sense & ship etiquette. * Often long queues to disembark the ship. They should have opened gangways for tenders on both ends of the ship. * Small shops onboard. Not much variety. * Sleazy ship officers in the night club. * When you disembark for the last time, lousy assistance from staff. No friendly smiles or farewells. I have cruised a dozen times. What makes me happy is good food and attentive service. It's such a shame because the MSC Musica is such a delightful ship itself, however the two important elements were not there for me. If you want a cheap cruise, then feel free to give this a go, but I do believe you would have greater satisfaction on an alternative cruise line. 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

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