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Sail Date: January 2008
So many places to start, so I will just start at the beginning. No less than 6 people asked for our tickets prior to boarding. Once in our room, the first thing we noticed was the size or lack thereof. There are a few things in life ... Read More
So many places to start, so I will just start at the beginning. No less than 6 people asked for our tickets prior to boarding. Once in our room, the first thing we noticed was the size or lack thereof. There are a few things in life where size matters a great deal. On a cruise, size is king. We weren't even in the the castle. I am glad we upgraded to a room with a "private balcony". Anything smaller would have been intolerable. They use the term private and balcony rather loosely. The balcony in 5 feet across and three feet deep. When we embarked, ours was tastefully decorated in cigarette buts and stagnant water. Welcome to New Orleans! Let's talk about food: The buffet is acceptable, not the best, not the worst. But a word of warning, you should probably sit away from parents who let their children devour bowls of ice cream as large as their head. They will vomit but we will discuss the people aboard the ship later. The restaurants that were good: Windows, The Garden Room and the Trattoria. Cagney's Steak House was Excellent and by far the best value on the ship. The soda program is in the expensive side, $58.00 for seven days. Also, it's difficult to get a soda in the buffet. You need to go to a bar by the pool to get one. Room service was rather limited but what was offered was hot, delivered quickly and exactly what we ordered. The people: I could go on for days about the people aboard this cruise. In all my traveling (11 countries and 44 states) never have I seen so many obese, elderly, or handicapped people. I understand that handicapped, obese and elderly people want to travel. I think anyone who fits this category needs to think long and hard about a cruise. If you are unable to go up one flight of stairs, you shouldn't be on a cruise. If you are so obese, you need help carrying your plate to the table, stay the hell home. If you are taking someone on a cruise and they don't know their name, maybe they shouldn't go? I was amazed at the amount of people who needed a wheelchair to get off the boat but walked fine once they disembarked. My two cents, if you are going to slow other people down, stay home and knit, play checkers, anything but go on a cruise. Kids: Kids don't belong in the jacuzzi. NCL should really enforce this since it's their policy. There should also be a limit on how long 4 people can stay in a jacuzzi. I was able to get in once in 7 days. And that was when I squeezed in between 7 other people. Parents, if you kids are crying take them outside. I know you want a vacation but I don't have any kids. I certainly don't want to hear yours scream. Prices: As most cruises go, they try to get you for every dollar they can. I was okay with almost all the charges except the pictures. A package was only offered for one picture and that was $17.99, all of other pictures are $14.99 each, 9.99 for the second picture and 4.99 for the third. We spent close to $100 for pictures and we got 4 pictures. The staff was great. I guess they are used to wheelchairs and diapers, so 2 thirtysomething's were easy to deal with. All activities were geared to people who can't walk or see very well. The excursions were lame at best. What wasn't lame was very overpriced. $140 for two people to go the beach is outrageous. You could easily spend five or six hundred a person on excursions and not do anything memorable. I am writing this review from the airport and will book another vacation as soon as I get home. If it's a cruise, it will not be with NCL, it definitely not be freestyle and will not have anyone under 18 aboard. Stay home or find another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
This was the 11th cruise for my wife and I - five on Royal Caribbean, five on Holland America, and one on the Norwegian Sun. For this cruise, we were joined by our son and daughter, their spouses, and two grandchildren. We picked the ... Read More
This was the 11th cruise for my wife and I - five on Royal Caribbean, five on Holland America, and one on the Norwegian Sun. For this cruise, we were joined by our son and daughter, their spouses, and two grandchildren. We picked the Liberty of the Seas because we thought our grandkids would love the ship's activities and we picked the Eastern Caribbean cruise because of relatively few stops. In other words, the ship was the focal point and for that reason, much of this review is dedicated to the Liberty of the Seas rather than the ports visited. The Ship We had two adjoining balcony cabins that each slept three (one grandkid in each) with the third unit on the same level. We opened the balcony door between the neighboring cabins and the kids basically ran back and forth for much of the cruise. We went to the Windjammer for our first lunch and quickly encountered the theme that was to be repeated for the rest of the week - as big as the ship is, the common areas are just too small when the cruise is sold out. Also there were 500 plus kids on board which added to the perception of a swarming bee hive. The pluses are many for the Liberty. It is a beautiful ship in the RC mode. Based on our cruising experiences, HAL aims for "class", RC goes for "flash", and the Norwegian Sun is basically a "people hauler" but with great food and entertainment. And the Liberty is loaded with "flash" - although perhaps approaching "tacky" in some areas. The basic facilities are unsurpassed and are by now well known - a great water park for kids, a very large rock wall, a skating rink, a flow rider, fast elevators, a three level dining room, a large theater (albeit with a very non-RC ambience - incredibly boring and with mediocre sight lines), a smallish but very nice movie theater, a large casino, and a wonderful and well equipped gym. There are two large hot tubs cantilevered over the side of the ship plus two other spas and three pools - one for adults, one for kids, and one for both. Of course, all were crowded; deck chairs were at a premium after 8 a.m. I won't list the many shops, bars, and restaurants that are also scattered throughout. The main feature of the ship has to be the huge promenade - five stories high and hundreds of feet long. It serves well as a common area although, of course, it was often very crowded - even at midnight. By the way, if you are interested in sitting in a deck chair and reading a good book, try the promenade deck (four). It was seldom crowded and you could usually get a shuffleboard with no waiting. I suspect that many on the cruise never discovered this deck. The Service Considering the number of people that were on the cruise, services tended to be on the slow side with line-ups common. An exception to this was our cabin attendant who was very efficient (our grandkids especially looked forward to the towel animals every evening). The dining room was a different story. Our main dinner sitting was slow in spite of our waiters who were friendly and worked as quickly as anyone could expect. The problem appeared to be kitchen related and no doubt could be traced to the number of people they were attempting to service. Twice on evenings when there was only one show, we didn't get out of the dining room in time to attend the theater performance. Ironically, in spite of slow service, we ended up eating many of our other meals in the dining room because the Windjammer was so crowded. I overheard two members of the dining room staff complaining to each other about the larger than expected number of diners so obviously many others had also fled the Windjammer. These increased numbers no doubt slowed service further but at least one was not walking around with a plate full of food looking for a table. We also tried Johnny Rockets cafe (good but also crowded and slow) as well as Jade which is just an awkward extension of the Windjammer. By the way, the food quality was the best we ever experienced on RC - a common complaint from our first four voyages with them. Both kids spent some time in the Kid's Club and both reported good things. Our eight year old grandson was especially enamored with the rock wall but was bitterly disappointed that he was too short to try the flow rider (he checked everyday just in case he had grown that required one more inch overnight!). The entertainment was typical cruise fare - a good but not excellent dance troupe, a juggler, an impersonator, and a comedian. All were enjoyable but nothing to bring you to your feet (in spite of the repeated urging of the cruise director). The ice show, on the other hand, was great (go early, the facility fills up quickly). I skated on the rink and the ice was about what you would expect in the Caribbean - ruts and slush. I'm sure the performers had a fresh flood for their show but the ice did not look great and the rink size (40 x 60 feet) is much smaller than what they would be used to. There must have been 10 skaters and they did a great job. A few minor quibbles. The chocolate on the pillow at night has apparently fallen under the axe of the bean counters as have the daily sudoku and crossword puzzles in the library. Okay, so the chocolates were mainly wax - it still was a nice touch. I especially missed the small daily papers that were a part of our previous cruises. I suppose that the reasoning is that one can watch CNN but it is 99% of its coverage is devoted to U.S. news. For the people from the other 31 countries on board, one would have to use the expensive Internet connections to check news on the home front. Bring back my paper! Disembarkation (what an awkward word) was a nightmare. We left our waiting lounge shortly before our son and family who are U.S. citizens. It took them five minutes to get off the ship whereas we were stuck in a long, long lineup. Fortunately, we were able to phone them and tell them not to wait for us. Well over an hour later we finally made it to the promenade deck for our final swipe of our room cards. I don't know what the problem was but it didn't seem to be related to customs. Disembarkation is always a bit of a downer when you realize that you have suddenly gone from pampered guests to cattle, but this experience was especially bad. The Ports We had only three stops on the cruise; San Juan, St. Maarten, and Labadee in Haiti. We didn't arrive in San Juan until about 3 pm so we had relatively few hours of daylight. We just did a walk around and returned to the ship. It does seem like an interesting place and one that we will make a point of revisiting. We had been to St. Martin previously and my grandkids enjoyed a beach day collecting shells. My wife and daughter went shopping together whereas my son-in-law and I walked around for a bit, then returned for some gym time. Labadee is RC's private beach. Consistent with our previous attempts to visit private islands, it rained, and rained, and rained. Not to be deterred, we did take the walking tour and got soaked as a reward. To their credit - and to my surprise - RC refunded our money without asking. Labadee seems like a beautiful place and I hope to be able to revisit it. Would I sail on the Liberty of the Seas again? The Liberty (and Freedom and Independence) are huge and change the rules of cruising. Most of our party would avoid these ships in the future - certainly at the premium prices they currently command. My grandson, on the other hand, would quite happily move there permanently. Me? I would sail on these ships again, especially if I could get a reasonably priced, repositioning cruise where sell-outs are less likely and kids are fewer in number. I suspect that when the Oasis is launched later this year, the novelty seekers will flock to that ship and maybe take the pressure off the Liberty and its sisters. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
Overall, we had a fabulous time. The vacation had me at 85 degrees. Walking around in shorts, while it was freezing at home was heaven. We are 3 experienced cruisers, me(37), DH(41), and DD(4). The adults have been on Carnival, Royal ... Read More
Overall, we had a fabulous time. The vacation had me at 85 degrees. Walking around in shorts, while it was freezing at home was heaven. We are 3 experienced cruisers, me(37), DH(41), and DD(4). The adults have been on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Norwegian. Pre-cruise hotel Flying in on Friday my daughter started running a fever. By the time we got to the Marriott Stellaris, she was miserable, so we called a doctor suggested by the hotel. The MD came in a couple of hours, diagnosed strep and we ran across the street to Walgreens for zithromax. As a result, we saw very little of the hotel outside our room. However, we were happy with our room and the MD. The ship The Summit is a very elegant ship, easy to navigate, with appealing public rooms. For its age, the ship is in great shape. The only maintenance issues we noticed were some mushy spots under the carpet entering the Cosmopolitan dining room and our cabin bathroom needed some refreshment. Entertainment A highlight of the cruise for us. We really enjoyed the band that played in the Rendevous lounge, while we had pre-dinner drinks. The production shows seemed a cut above the shows we've seen on other ships. I think having 5 singers really bolstered the quality of the shows. My DD was absolutely mesmerized by the singing and dancing. I missed the pianist, but the comedic juggler was very fun. The cabin We were in 6026, which, although it is not apparent on the ship diagram, has a larger than average balcony. A very nice feature, as the standard balcony is tiny! However, we were so busy on the cruise we didn't get to enjoy the balcony as much as we wanted to. The cabin itself felt a little tight, though the bathroom shower did seem a little bigger than usual. Very quiet location, we never heard any noise at night. Pascoal, our steward, took good care of the room and was very unobtrusive. Food We enjoyed the food in the Waterfall Cafe and Aqua Spa. The ship had a great selection of fruits and breads. I especially enjoyed the papaya (usually in the Aqua Spa). We also ate waffles every morning. Yummy! Be sure to get them fresh off the griddle, they lose a lot if they sit in the warmer. We never waited in line for more than a minute or two at any meal. Food in the Cosmopolitan was a little hit or miss. However, they were very accommodating about bringing out another entrEe or making any switches. Dinner in the Normadie was fantastic! Definitely, a highlight of the cruise. Ports Busy, busy, busy! In St Maarten we did a snorkeling trip through Captain Alan. The weather was not ideal, we had some rain and the water was murky, but we still had a blast. Captain Paul took us out with his wife Carol, both were a lot of fun, very warm and welcoming. We coordinated with some others on our roll call (Hi, Bin and Mom, Jun and Jen), so we only had 7 on the boat ($420 for all of us, plus $60 for taxi, round trip). We just did some souvenir shopping in Dominica, most of the excursions were adventure oriented and not really appropriate for a 4 yo. In Grenada, we took a water taxi ($4 per person, one way) to Grand Anse Beach. We rented two chairs and an umbrella ($15) and played in the sand and water. Full service beach with lots of people eager to bring drinks, braid your hair, or sell some spices. A very fun day. In Tobago, we went to Pigeon Point (taxi $20 each way up to 4 people). We rented two chairs ($4), lots of free shade. Great beach, we took a glass bottom boat ride ($15 per person) to Buccoo Reef and Nylon Pool. Also a full service beach, but be careful with your currency. Prices are listed in Tobagan dollars, make sure you ask for the price in U.S. dollars (roughly 5 Tobagan dollars to 1 US dollar). Port taxis also charge much higher prices than other, non-port taxis. In Barbados, we went out with Captain Jason on Shasa Catamaran ($70 per adult, $35 per kid, transport included). Awesome! We were under windpower the whole time, incredibly peaceful. We were the first boat to arrive at the turtle spot, so we were swarmed with hungry, friendly turtles. There were only 11 of us on the boat, four from our roll call (Hi, Jill, Charlie, Carol, and Dennis). My overall port advice... Be sure to bring lot of cash if you're not doing all your excursions through the ship, everybody prefers or requires cash. It's also a good idea to have lots of small bills, most places expect you to bargain and it's hard to keep to a lower price if you don't have correct change! Fitness Center I went 6 times on the cruise and still managed to gain two pounds! But, I don't think I can blame it on the gym. The gym had lots of treadmills and elliptical machines, plus other assorted cardio equipment. Most had their own tvs, so bring ear buds if you like to watch tv while you work out. There were also a lot of nautilus-type machines and a small free weights section. Embarkation and disembarkation Embarkation was very easy. We arrived at 12:30 and walked right on. For disembarkation we spent some time sitting around the ship before our group was called at 9:45. There was a long line for taxis, but mostly painless. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
Flew into SJU on Saturday due to American canceling our morning non-stop form Dallas. Unfortunately we were over 2 hours late arriving and finally checked into the Sheraton Old San Juan after 1:00AM. Upon check-in, I asked if we could ... Read More
Flew into SJU on Saturday due to American canceling our morning non-stop form Dallas. Unfortunately we were over 2 hours late arriving and finally checked into the Sheraton Old San Juan after 1:00AM. Upon check-in, I asked if we could possibly have a late check out as it had already been a long day. I was advised to call the front desk at 7:00AM and we should be fine. Well I did get up at 7:00AM only to be told that we could only get an additional 30 minutes - big deal. The hotel was OK, the area was neat but I would just as soon stayed at the Best Western at the airport and saved myself the additional cab ride. Embarkation was pretty smooth. The process in which they take your bags is not the most efficient however. Once inside, we went to the Diamond check-in. I was traveling on an expired passport which is fine until June 2009. The person checking us in attempted to deny us boarding but I immediately called RCCL and had them straighten it out. (I am a travel agent myself so I was able to deal direct with RCCL as I am the agent of record). The ship itself was very nice and we spent some time checking everything out. Our bags came very quickly and we were unpacked even before Muster. We had early dining and were located on Deck 3. The dining room was very nice and the staff excellent. I was disappointed that we were at a table for 10 and most nights it was just 4 of us there. We did eat one night at Portofino and it was excellent; lovely romantic evening. In Aruba we decided to snorkel on the Mi Dushi. The staff was very pleasant and fun was had by all. Snorkeling was disappointing as the water was quite rough but again, it turned out to be a very nice time. Curacao we decided to Golf at Blue Bay. The course was quite nice. When coming in from the 9th hole you actually drive on the beach right near the resort. Golf scores were not the best but again, a good group of people were with us. St. Maarten we went back to Orient Beach on the Beach Break which included lunch. We did this same excursion last year and found it better then. There was a much larger crowd that last year and the French staff did not seem to understand English very well. After waiting 30 minutes to place our order, we received our lunch with first the entrEe,then the drinks and finally the bread (a little backward if you ask me). The food as last year was excellent. St Thomas was originally scheduled for golf but apparently we were the only ones who signed up and it was canceled due to lack of participation. It all worked out in the end as it rained most of the night so the course would have been too wet. We just wandered around town and had a lovely lunch before returning to the ship. Some of the issues I had with the cruise: We were signed up for the Meet and Mingle which was scheduled for 11:00AM (I think) on Monday (sea day). We did not even get our invitation until Tuesday night. I don't have an issue with kids being on the ship; I just expect their parents to keep an eye on them. One night I ran into a group of 8 tweens jumping from the landing between floors into the elevator bank to see who could jump the farthest. This was at midnight and they were making a lot of racket. Now parents, I realize that the kids have a 1:00AM curfew but just because they can be out and about on the ship, they should be behaved. After I told the kids to knock it off, it continued. Finally I called security and let them deal with it. It was taken care of quickly which I did appreciate. Finally the Platinum and Diamond party. Last year on the Serenade we had an absolute blast and vowed never to miss another Diamond Party. This year we were treated to a "concert" of classical music. Now don't get me wrong, they WERE very good; I'm just not into classical music. We had to sit through 7 songs and almost felt like were were compelled to stay. 1-3 songs would have been a better choice. Overall, it was a good time. I liked having 2 ports and then a day at sea so we did feel like we had some down time to relax. The ship was nice but we felt the Serenade was a bit classier overall. Would we sail her again - of course. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
We are from Ohio, so the weather here in January can be a bit unpredictable. Instead of flying down the day of embarkment and risking missing our vacation, we flew down the day before and stayed the night in Tampa. We booked a room through ... Read More
We are from Ohio, so the weather here in January can be a bit unpredictable. Instead of flying down the day of embarkment and risking missing our vacation, we flew down the day before and stayed the night in Tampa. We booked a room through Travelocity at the Days Inn East-Ybor city for about $80. The rates there are usually lower, but as it was the week before the super bowl, prices were up everywhere. It was about a 15 minute taxi ride to the hotel which was about $35. If you book this hotel, be advised that if you have an early flight in, they charge you $5 per half hour you arrive before their 4pm check in time. Also, it's not a horrible area and there is nothing but a gas station within walking distance, but they do have several take-out menus available. Day 1: We arrived at the port of Tampa around 10:30 am. Carnival will tell you that you should not show up until 12, but things will be much faster if you do. There is a little coffee shop that offers breakfast, so we grabbed some food and sat outside. Men will come around and offer to take your bags for you. It's not required, but do this! It's free (but they work hard, and carry your luggage around, so why not tip them?) and this also means that when other people are wheeling their luggage around the ship until the staterooms open at 1:30, you are able to explore! Embarkment was a breeze. Have your FunPass ready to go with your ID, and credit card if that's how you are setting up your sign and sail account. (I used cash, so when you get on the ship, go straight to information and set up your account while there is no line. They will say the purser's desk doesn't open until after dinner, but they were open immediately). We took a walk around the outside decks of the ship (we were the only ones on the upper deck!) and took some great pictures. Lunch was being served at the Lido buffet, which was decent (I would recommend going to the indoor buffets for food, everything served outdoors seemed to be the same temp. as everything else). When the staterooms opened at 1:30, we found our room and met our stewardess who's name I could never remember, but she was super sweet. (If you leave a tip the first day asking for ice, you will never be without it). We were seated in the Mardi Gras dining room for the 6:00 dinner. The only thing I regret about this dinner time was that we didn't get to see when we went under the bridge, but I wouldn't have changed the arrangement for the world. I'm not quite sure how the seating arrangements were made, but we were with all people our parent's ages, but we still had a great time. Vanburn "Spice" from Grenada was our headwaiter, and he was wonderful! He made jokes that completely went over the heads of the 3 other couples with us, but had tears rolling down our cheeks we were laughing so hard! Omar from Colombia was the assistant waiter, who was also outstanding. Sani, who brought us our drinks remembered our names and what we wanted to drink after only the first night. He also works the piano bar, and knew us then as well. He was FANTASTIC! There is not one bad thing I can say about the dining room food for the whole trip. The Melting chocolate cake is a must try. Don't ever complain about portion size or not liking your food. Just ask for more/something else. Nobody will question it, and they will bring you as much of whatever you want. There were several nights where we both got 2 appetizers, and my boyfriend got a second lobster on elegant night. You will never go hungry. That night, my boyfriend and I went to the 21 and older serenity deck and sat in the hot tub. I don't know whether people hadn't found it yet, or what, but we had the whole deck to ourselves and it was fantastic. We were exhausted and decided to call it an early night (9pm) but when I woke up and realized there was no clock in the room, I ended up wandering outside to see if it was light yet. I realized later that day that there is a channel that overlooks the bow, so from then on we left it on all night so I could see if the sun had started to come up yet. Day 2 (fun day at sea): The first full day at sea, there were a lot of fun things going on, there was a hairy chest contest which was hilarious, and Felipe, the cruise director (woo-hoo!), had a talk about the shore excursions available (hint: if you don't go to the talks, they play them repeatedly on the one channel if you decide you want to watch it). We competed in the adult putt-putt competition (my boyfriend would be disappointed if I didn't mention he came in 3rd of about 30) It was a blast! That evening was the captain's reception and formal dinner. We dressed up and had lobster, which was phenomenal, but as I mentioned earlier, my boyfriend had seconds... so rather small. This evening I also discovered that they sell punch cards for the drink of the day. You get 5 drinks (including 1 souvenir cup) for about $26. The drinks are $6.95 +gratuity otherwise. After dinner we went to see "Shout," which there was not enough seating for and we stood in the back. It didn't matter, because it was fun and we had a good time singing along and dancing in the back. Then we went to the R rated comedy show in the Candlelight lounge. He was really funny, and used a lot of crowd participation which was fun. Day 3 (Day in Grand Cayman): When I read these reviews before my trip, I never read about port days, because I already knew what I had planned. I'll explain this day because it was not as great as what I had planned, and is the ONLY thing I can find wrong with the cruise experience, and it WAS NOT Carnival's fault. We booked the "Discover Cayman: Stingray, turtle farm, and Hell tour" We got off the tender, and found out our group had already left (we were on time!) We got on a bus with another tour who took us to our group at the boat. The stingrays were fantastic, and I highly recommend this part! When we got off the boat, however, 12 of us didn't have a bus to get on. The bus driver forgot to pick us up. When he came for us, a woman asked for his name, and he said to call him "Goofy," she asked for the bus number and again he replied "Goofy". He told us we would only have 30 minutes at the turtle farm. (his guided tour during the ride was nice, and I did enjoy it) He set a time for us to meet at the bus and told us to leave our belongings on the bus because he would not be leaving. The turtle farm was great! You get to hold the babies and it is wonderful! We came out to meet "Goofy" and he was not there. We found someone from the same company who made up some excuse about "Goofy" and his personal life, but agreed to take us to Hell which is where "Goofy" would be waiting for us. Hell was nice, but there's not much more to say as we were getting very close to missing the last tender out of Grand Cayman at this point and I was in a full blown panic. We made it, but I was upset, so I talked to the people at the information desk, who were very concerned and understanding, and refunded 25% of our shore excursion cost. I hate complaining, but thought it should be mentioned. Dinner was great as usual, and every night after dinner when we came back to the room there was a different towel animal waiting for us. I fell in love with the manatee we received the first night and our stewardess taught me how to make him! I told her how much I loved Stingray city, and the final night she made me a stingray. While I'm on the topic of our stewardess, I'll mention that she came twice a day, everyday, and provided turndown service at night which was nice to come back to. The room had razors (which I forgot), toothpaste, antacids, soap, body wash, beach towels, and the softest robes EVER. It was wonderful. And our room, which was an inside room with a queen was very spacious. There was a fake window, which made it less claustrophobic for me. Day 4 (Day in Cozumel): We did the mini jeep and snorkel tour. It was fantastic, and I'd never be able to say enough how absolutely wonderful our tour guide Alvero (Al) and his driver Wally were. It was a perfect trip and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a (very safe) adventure. Such a beautiful tour! We made it back with two hours left, so we did some souvenir shopping and stopped at the Three Amigo's bar. We had lunch (very good) and 3 margaritas each (the best I've ever had) and it was under $60, which was reasonable for how much we drank. That night we went to the Carnival Colors deck party and had a great time dancing and cheering for the Blue team! We also went to the love and marriage game show which was a definite must see. Day 5 (Fun day at Sea): I don't think it ever made it out of the 50's on Friday. It rained steadily until about 4pm. I spent a good portion of the day on the Serenity deck in the hot tub with a family from Dallas, and a couple from Alaska. My boyfriend slept off his margaritas. We got lunch at the buffet (like we had done for breakfast and lunch all week, and it was good) and then went back to the room and watched "The Dark Knight" which was nice, because it's a recent movie. Dinner was fun, but sad to say goodbye to our wait staff and the other couples. It was still very cold after dinner, so we called it an early night. Day 6 (Debarkment): We did the self assist, and were off the boat by 8:15. Customs was a breeze, and we had purchased transfers through Carnival (hint: your boarding pass is in your FunPass documents) and were to the airport ready to head home by 9:00. All in all it was a fantastic vacation, and I couldn't have asked for a better last hoorah before I start my new job on Monday. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
We are a family of three - myself & DH (both 34) and DD (5). This was our first trip to Florida and first cruise. We booked a 4 day land - 3 day sea package through DCL. We usually go to Las Vegas for our holidays (8 times in 4 years) ... Read More
We are a family of three - myself & DH (both 34) and DD (5). This was our first trip to Florida and first cruise. We booked a 4 day land - 3 day sea package through DCL. We usually go to Las Vegas for our holidays (8 times in 4 years) but decided it was time for a real family holiday. We stayed at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort - a great place to stay. We boarded the ship on January 22/09. The first wonderful thing we encountered was the ease of check in!! We were able to check into the cruise right in our hotel lobby! So convenient. And to our surprise and excitement we were given a free upgrade!! We had booked a category 10 (inside deluxe - cabin 7005) but were upgraded to cabin 6132 - a Deluxe Stateroom with a verandah!!! We will never consider cruising without one again. The Disney Wonder was beautiful. Everything on it seems really clean and well maintained. We used the Kids Club a few times - our DD was always wanting to head there for an hour or two before or after supper. It seemed like a lot of other kids were there for good chunks of the day but we didn't ever leave her over a meal or longer than two hours. Only because we wanted to spend our holiday with her - she would have been happy to stay in the club longer. All the staff or cast members we encountered were great. Donnie our room steward was awesome!! From day one he knew all our names and always had our stateroom ready. I think he lived in the hallway our entire trip! He seemed to always be working. Our dinner servers - Donna & Jen were wonderful as well. They treated our DD like a princess and were very efficient during our meals without making us feel rushed. The food was outstanding. We didn't have a bad meal - the desserts were especially great. The kids menu could use a few more options - it was the same menu each night. Not much variation from cheeseburgers, mac & cheese and chicken fingers. The two ports we visited were fun. Nassau was interesting - spent the morning shopping - rum cake, rum & souvenirs. We went back to the ship for lunch and a swim in the pool then took a taxi to Paradise Island to check out Atlantis. It was a super nice resort and the beach was beautiful. DH stayed and played some Blackjack while DD and I went back to the ship - kids club for her, wine on the verandah for me. Castaway Cay was the best part of the trip. The beach and water was amazing. Better than I could have imagined. Lots of lounge chairs and umbrellas along the way. The servers on the beach seemed to show up more in the morning than in the afternoon but they were still pretty good. We all went snorkeling and that was fun. The weather could have been a bit warmer but it was a great day. As we have never cruised before we can't compare the disembarkation to anything but it was faster and more organized than I could have ever expected. There were a bunch of staff ready to help take your bags with you through customs and onto the bus. It was completely painless!!! All in all it was a great trip. We will try cruising again in the future for sure!! We do want to try other lines but DCL was a great first cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
Just returned from a week on the Serenade (1/24 to 1/31). This was my second sailing on the Serenade, the first being one of its first sailings to Canada/New England. The ship is beautiful and well maintained. I have sailed on RCCL ... Read More
Just returned from a week on the Serenade (1/24 to 1/31). This was my second sailing on the Serenade, the first being one of its first sailings to Canada/New England. The ship is beautiful and well maintained. I have sailed on RCCL seven times, and the Radiance Class ships are my favorite. We flew into San Juan a day prior and stayed at the Intercontinental. The hotel grounds were very nice, and while the room was clean, it was dated. For the money, it is not really worth it. I had previously stayed at the Hilton Caribe and enjoyed that better, and for about $100 less per night! We had lunch by the pool (yummy frozen mojitos) and dinner at the italian restaurant. Both were good, but VERY expensive. We checked out of the hotel right at noon on Saturday and took a cab to the pier. Embarkation was quick and painless (I have never had to wait on RCCL). We walked right up to the check-in desk and were onboard by 12:30. Had a quick lunch in the Windjammer, then went to our cabin at 1:00. CABIN: We had a Junior Suite on deck 10. We had cabin 1598, which is an obstructed view. The obstruction is the window washing equipment which is "parked" there; I did not find this to be an issue at all. Our balcony was actually larger than the adjacent junior suites, and had the benefit of a shady area from the overhang of the back of the ship. We had a table and three chairs, and could have fit an additional lounger. The cabin itself was great for the three of us (mother and sister). The sofa bed isn't overly comfortable, but was better after adding an egg crate and a duvet comforter. PORTS: We have done this itinerary before, so this time we just did the beach. We did not book any excursions through the ship, just caught a cab when we were ready. FOOD: I don't understand why people complain, because the food is really good on this ship! We also ate at Chops and Portofino, which were both fantastic! Highly recommend! ENTERTAINMENT: Just OK. We didn't really care because we're happy with a nice long dinner after a day in the sun, but my mom likes the singing/dancing shows, and there was only one. There was also a comedian (we didn't go but heard he was funny), and the Coasters. DISEMBARKATION: Also quick and painless. Off the ship by 8:30, went into Old San Juan for a little while, caught our 1:30 flight and home by 5. Overall, a great vacation. You will not be disappointed if you sail on the Serenade! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
Embarkation at Port of Miami- Big crowd at 12, but went fairly quickly. Rooms not ready till 2PM. People directed to the food court for a buffet lunch. If you don't know your way around, you can pick up a ships layout by the ... Read More
Embarkation at Port of Miami- Big crowd at 12, but went fairly quickly. Rooms not ready till 2PM. People directed to the food court for a buffet lunch. If you don't know your way around, you can pick up a ships layout by the registration desk. By 4PM we had the mandatory emergency drill, which was run smoothly and quickly. The Food- Average in the Main Dining Rooms. Some dishes were good, but the Lobster Tails were like chewing rubber. Order two dishes if you like.There is no problem with that. At in Cagney's(20pp. That was worth the price, but I feel that the line is cutting back on the regular food quality to force you into the specialties. Prices in these venues are rising. On my !ST Norwegian cruise, the Italian was free with advanced reservation. Now it costs. The Chocolate Buffet,which they have once a cruise, was a miniaturized version of what it used to be. Not all chocolate, and very chintzy. The Entertainment- Very Good for the shows I saw (5). The Comedian was hilarious(Dave Heenan). The Jean Anne Ryan show was terrific. Singers and Dancers and High Energy. On board at various venues were stylists who performed Sinatra to Simon and Garfunkel.and everything in-between. You could be as busy as you wanted, but you couldn't possibly see everything. Room and Staff- Adequate. My balcony was peeling railing paint and didn't look clean. The room was nice and cleaned every day, although we never really were introduced to the housekeepers. We were at their last cabin for the day and had to find them. They did do everything we asked. All of the workers and waiters and staff were always smiling and gracious. Ports- Semana is a pathetic attempt at a cheap cruise port. Shame on them! Walked off,saw the abject poverty, and went back to the ship. St. Thomas is the best port for shopping and sightseeing. Rented waverunners at Sugar Bay(not through the cruise lines) Tortola is fair if you do not find an interesting tour. The water was too choppy to tender at Great Stirrup Cay, so we went to Nassau. Go to Atlantis. It is amazing. I guess you get what you pay for. Norwegian is reasonable without the tumult of Carnival. I rate it like Princess. As of January , they charged 12 pp per day for tips, even though when we booked it was $10. More and more past free activities are now being charged(such as kitchen tour, $55). I wish they would stop nickle and diming us. PS-Take express disembarkation, as smooth as silk. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
As a veteran cruiser, we look for a certain style. Not a fancy style, more homey, more friendly, more open cruising style. We book in a suite because we like the room. And we stay in our room occasionally. And bring others in to see the ... Read More
As a veteran cruiser, we look for a certain style. Not a fancy style, more homey, more friendly, more open cruising style. We book in a suite because we like the room. And we stay in our room occasionally. And bring others in to see the room. Even hosting a "get together" with canapes and soda's (we don't drink). We look for those friendly people who like to visit, to talk, to share lives, and see the world together. On this trip we traveled with 350 French Canadians, many of whom only spoke French and were pretty rude. And, as veterans, we like to request certain amenities, "egg crates" on the bed to soften it. Diet sodas in the refrigerator that help us keep the sugar intake down. Save our complimentary canapes for the get together we host. Dry cleaning and laundry complimentary. And Internet access complimentary, after all, we pay four times the amount for an inside cabin! On this ship we had to pay for all those amenities. Having said all that, we booked the "Explorer of the Seas" because of it's center Promenade. Because of it's access to Cape Liberty which was twenty minutes from half our family. And because we hadn't tried Royal Caribbean as yet. We booked the available owner's suite category and, unfortunately, we were placed in a middle cabin.... She likes the stern, I like the bow. And most ships have their better suites in those positions. It was handy to the concierge lounge, which was a nice touch. And only one floor down from the buffet, which the family liked because they wanted breakfast there. We couldn't convince them white linen in the dining room was better. The Promenade was a nice touch, although with some two thousand plus passengers, it was usually crowded. And the casino, which we frequent, was the seemingly designated smoking area, and that smoke poured into the Promenade up the staircase. Sea days are a favorite of hers, and we had three down, and two back. Although you can tell from the pictures how warm it was by how bundled up we were on the first two, and the last day. As a family reunion, and a first cruise for most of them, it was a success, they had nothing else to compare it to. The other veteran cruisers (one couple) drink most of the time, so they were fine. I was pretty dissatisfied, but it might be because the crap table was cold the whole voyage. My wife enjoyed the spa time, and the sister time, and there was a lot of family laughter. So it was a minor success. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
This was our first cruise and as yet we havent decided if we would do it again! If we did venture onto the seas it would be with another cruise line. We arrived at the Summit in Barcelona, we had arranged our own flights from Manchester as ... Read More
This was our first cruise and as yet we havent decided if we would do it again! If we did venture onto the seas it would be with another cruise line. We arrived at the Summit in Barcelona, we had arranged our own flights from Manchester as the Celebrity option was more expensive and went via Frankfurt!!! and also our own taxi to the port - saving us a fortune. We were met with a long queue to check in - again I was glad I had done it all online and so we had a quick trip onto the boat where we learnt we could not get into our cabin for another 3 hours!We sat beside the pool and have to say we were very dissappointed with the first impressions.The pool area was crowded and a bit shabby. When we got into our stateroom ( concierge class with balcony)we were again dissappointed as the room was shabby and the carpet was worn.The curtains had holes in the lining and the net curtain was torn.There was a stain and a small hole in the bedspread too.On the very small balcony were 2 chairs and a lot of rust!! It was also a tight squeeze when our son's bed was out and it was impossible to get onto the balcony if he was in bed.Our room steward was Peter, who was very good and solved any issue straight away but the room was not good!! The public area's are better on the whole and in particular the martini/champagne bar was nice. Breakfast was in the waterfall cafe and although it was ok it was a bit of a scrum and we had difficulty finding a chair on a couple of occassions so we opted for breakfast in our room which was ok but the order was never right! As said before the pool area could do with some improvement and was overun with spanish teenagers the whole time who were really noisy and rude.   Dinner in the main restaraunt was good overall although on some nights we were struggling for choice.Our waiter was excellent though and made it a good dining experience overall. Our wine waiter was also very good and attentive throughout.We didnt dine in the waterfall cafe at night as we dont like to do this on holiday( and it was $2 extra!!) - we were looking for a bit of luxury. The soda package is a rip off as it doesnt include water!!!!!! The wine was expensive too and we felt we were being ripped off the whole time - this included the trips we booked and any photo's we bought.Overall we felt Celebrity were trying to get as much money out of us as possible at every opportunity. Turning to the trips, we took 4 by celebrity, Rome on your own ( you got a coach there and back) which did give us some useful tips on how to beat the queue's, Pompeii which was really good due to the great guide and Athens which was dire, again due to the guide and Pisa which was really good although expensive. Disembarkation was slick and well organised. When we docked in Santorini - we gave up and spent the day on the boat as the queue for the cable car was huge and didnt seem to be reducing - due to the number of cruises in that day.Dubrovnik was fab and we will go back there again as was Venice.We took the summit tranfer which at $20 was very expensive but it was the last day and we were too tired to care! The destinations were definitely the high point of ths holiday. The entertainment was poor - the shows in the theatre were on at weird times so we werent able to catch many ( the last dinner sitting was changed to 9pm which was too late especially with children and the earlier one to 6.30 which is much too early in my view) The dancers were ok and the 'orchestra' were out of tune the whole time.The band around the pool were absolutely rubbish, they couldnt sing and were much too loud - very intrusive as was the music in 'Rendevous'it was like they were playing a stadium!!! Our son ( aged 9 ) was hoping to make some new friends but the kids programme was really poor and the kids club was taken over by sulky american teenagers - it was like 'so raven' i n real life.The club seemed poorly supported and the facilities for children were really poor, old and tired. Overall we had a nice time as we kept ourselves to ourselves and the service of the staff was excellent but Celebrity really need to upgrade the ship and the value for money.The staff also seemed very stressed to get a 'excellent' recommendation on the customer comment cards and we got the impression they would get in trouble if they didnt get it. Would we cruise again?? maybe.With Celebrity - probably not. Read Less

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