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

52,266 Family Cruise Reviews

Well, let's just start off with how immaculate the ship was! Everyday they were cleaning, painting, polishing, sweeping....this ship was the cleanest ship I have ever been on! They had 2 pool attendants mopping the deck everyday, ... Read More
Well, let's just start off with how immaculate the ship was! Everyday they were cleaning, painting, polishing, sweeping....this ship was the cleanest ship I have ever been on! They had 2 pool attendants mopping the deck everyday, they were like ninjas, the water would hit the deck and instantly disappear...they were great! ....the floors were so shiny and clean...the kids weren't too worried about slipping and sliding...and neither were the adults. The food was mediocre in the dining room...presentation lacked, but service was fabulous, as usual. There were no elaborate food decorations nor presentations around the buffet line.... If you remembered to find the fresh sushi cart, the sushi was fantastic! Never a busy station, always fresh, and cut to your liking right there! Worth the find! and free! The decor was over the top, flashy, bright, neon...we loved it! Our room was cozy, we had an ocean view balcony...they selected the room # for us so we could save a little extra $$. It was as expected; bathroom had amenities, nice lighting and nice 3x magnified mirror. Excellent closet space, could have used more hangers...room steward took care of that. This was the first time that I paid to upgrade to the balcony room-and it was wellworth the price to upgrade. It was so nice to rise early in the morning, go out on the balcony and watch the sun rise over the water...it was so peaceful and quiet...the sound of the water splashing, the birds following the ship, the evening starry sky...shall I go on?? If you want to spoil yourself a little bit, upgrade and you won't regret the price difference! Room service in the a.m. had minimal hot items to pick from. Would have liked more options, however, it was a nice selection of continental items. The kids loved the pool, waterslide, mini golf, and ping pong tables. Equipment was sub-par, but we had fun anyway. We participated in a number of group activities onboard. We played amazing race, golf putting challenge, battle of the sexes, bean bag toss, and digital scavenger hunt (highly recommend this one!). There were so many things to choose from each day it was hard to just pick a few to join in on. I am not certain it would be fair to totally discount the service for the kids club. However, during our cruise, there were less than 100 kids onboard. Our boys are 11. There were less than 10 kids in this age group on the entire ship. The kids club staff did NOT go out of their way during our cruise to make our kids feel like a priority. They cancelled most of the planned activities and really didn't give them that 'welcomed' feeling when they had activities w/enough kids. My son was a seasoned cruiser and knew that this wasn't the typical attitude of kids club staff. As for our cruise buddy, this was his first sailing, and he was sourly disappointed :-( We were raving about kids clubs and how awesome they are...and this was such a sour part of our trip. We made our own fun and made up for the sour spirit of the staff during our week. Everyone has bad weeks, and I guess the kids club suffered that week. Since we were there for Halloween, let me chat about that for a minute or 2... The emails that went out prior to our cruise were all about having 'tons of candy' and 'tons of fun'...well, the fun did happen, the candy did not! We had a pail full of crackers and m&m's and pretzels. There were designated stations along the cruise to stop for a trick or treat area. This would be good for the little ones, not for the kids over age 8..kids were rolling their eyes at the lack of candy and seemed disappointed. At the end of the trick or treating hour, kids met up in Frankenstein's lab for a fabulous dance party w/Freddy the mascot and the music was booming! I was even up there dancing! It was really fantastic. The decor around the ship was spooky themed, all the cruisers seemed to get into their costumes...it was a treat! We had our picture taken at one of the many picture opportunity back drops....it had all scary decor around the picture set and the backdrop was halloween themed and it was great! food in the buffet area was spooked too! We went to the salon for a lesser expensive spa treatment alternative. We booked for 3 choices $99 and it was worth it. If you book the salon, the prices are lower, and you are still able to get a massage for your scalp, neck, shoulders, arms, hands. My first time cruiser friend booked a full body massage for $129 as a special and wished she had booked one for every day of the cruise. She loved it. A nice tidbit about the spa area. There are steamrooms and saunas for ladies only. These were never busy and always clean. There was a nice whirlpool hot tub in the spa,,,,and I swear I was the only one to ever use it. I had it all to myself each time I went in there. It was covered by a glass dome and it was so nice and relaxing, I could have fallen asleep in there.... Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
We booked our own flights and spent two nights in Sydney before the cruise. Sydney is a terrific city - lots to see and easy to get around in. If you have time to arrive a couple days early, we recommend it. Our hotel was very close to ... Read More
We booked our own flights and spent two nights in Sydney before the cruise. Sydney is a terrific city - lots to see and easy to get around in. If you have time to arrive a couple days early, we recommend it. Our hotel was very close to Circular Quay so we walked from the hotel to the ship with our bags at 3:30. There was no line for check-in. We had a balcony stateroom and no complaints. Everything worked, there was decent storage space, and our steward took good care of us. We like this ship. The public spaces are nice, the entertainment is excellent, the buffet and dining room are great, and the service is terrific. The service and the food in the dining room at dinner were great. We had traditional second seating. We typically ate breakfast and lunch in the buffet, which is one of the best cruise ship buffets we have encountered. The food was tasty and hot and there was good selection. The grill in the buffet is excellent, with omelets at breakfast and good grilled sandwiches at lunch. We also had breakfast and lunch delivered to the cabin, which was just fine. The usual cruise ship activities were available. This ship has a rock climbing wall (which entertained people young and old) run by a guy who really knows his stuff. Service was terrific throughout the ship. We had been on this ship about nine months earlier and were impressed when our old waitress recognized us and greeted us on the first night even though we were not sitting at her table again. We've been on a lot of cruises, and this cruise had some of the best entertainment we've seen on a ship. RCCL hires top notch acts, and the production shows were very good. After we booked the trip but before we got on board, there were three itinerary changes. One stop in New Caledonia and two stops in the Loyalty Islands were cancelled, with Mystery Island, Champagne Bay, and an extra day at sea being substituted. Initially we weren't too happy with the changes, but then I read on this website about how terrific Mystery Island and Champagne Bay were, and in the end we weren't disappointed. In Noumea, New Caledonia, we took a tour to two lookouts, an old church, a cemetery of those killed at Guadalcanal, and the aquarium (which wasn't bad but couldn't compare to the one in Sydney). There is a big nickel smelter in Noumea, so it's a pretty industrial place and not particularly attractive. Someone else in our group rented a bike and saw the same sights on his own with no trouble. He also raved about the Tjibaou Cultural Center. All in all, there wasn't a whole lot there but it was nice to visit a country we had not been to. Mystery Island, Vanuatu is a very small, uninhabited island (with a small airstrip) that the ship tenders passengers to for the beaches and snorkeling. The locals set up a lot of souvenir stands and perform local songs and dances, so you could spend an hour or two here even if you're not a beach person. One side of the island is sandy and the other side (which has better snorkeling) was crushed shells. This was a fun stop and we enjoyed the snorkeling. In Vila, Vanuatu, one person in our group went scuba diving to the wreck of a cargo ship. He said the wreck was just okay but the dive boat and the dive crew were excellent. A couple of us did the jet boat ride, which was fun, and then the trip to the Ekasup cultural center, where we learned how the native inhabitants prepare and store food in case of cyclone, use medicinal plants, trap animals, and catch fish. We found it very interesting and would recommend this tour. It's very hot and humid here - bring water. Champagne Bay was another trip by tender to an island with very good snorkeling. There were locals set up along the beach selling souvenirs and showing local sea life, etc. The beach is gorgeous and we really enjoyed it here. In Luganville, Vanuatu, one member of our group walked around town on his own without any trouble while the rest of us went to the Lysepsep cultural center. The cultural center was interesting but not very sophisticated, so don't expect anything very polished. The people were very nice but there's not as much to see as at the cultural center in Vila, and it's much less structured. It's very hot and humid here, and you may have to wait awhile for the vans going back to the ship. The locals did an extensive series of dances for us, which was interesting and fun, especially seeing all the children dancing. Bring your camera. Isle of Pines was another trip by tender to a village on an island. We took a hike that had been recommended in our guidebook. It started on the road past the governor's house and some prison ruins and then proceeded down a narrow path along the cliffs, but the path clearly did not get a lot of use. If you're an experienced hiker, you'll be fine, but the trail is narrow with a drop off to the surf below (although the cliffs are not very high) and there were poisonous banded sea snakes on the trail, so be careful. The trail got narrower and narrower and we ended up turning back and walking through a couple shops before going snorkeling. This part of the island is very narrow, so you can easily walk from one side to the other. One side of the island was very windy and the water was cool, but the snorkeling was good around the sacred rock. On the other side of the island was a beautiful, quiet sandy beach with calm water. Out of Champagne Bay, Mystery Island, and Isle of Pines, only Isle of Pines has any real infrastructure. We took our own bags off and caught a taxi back to the airport - easy and painless. The ship had warned that the taxi stand in front of the ship would have very long lines and that people should buy the airport transfers instead. However, if you're willing to haul your luggage a little ways, you can flag down taxis anywhere around Circular Quay instead of standing in line at the ship. We really enjoyed this trip. We love Sydney and we really enjoyed the stops at Vila, Mystery Island, Champagne Bay, and Isle of Pines. The food, service, and entertainment were great on the Rhapsody. This is not a fast-paced trip since there are a lot of sea days and relatively few activities available in the ports. If you want a lounge chair and margaritas on the beach and some serious shopping nearby, this isn't the trip for you. However, if you're looking for something unusual and exotic with some great beach and snorkeling time combined with some really interesting cultural adventures, it's a great trip on a great ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Few problems at check in at Barcelona, for some reason my daughter's details were not immediately accepted by their computer system. We thought it was sorted only to find that the card was denied by security at boarding and once again ... Read More
Few problems at check in at Barcelona, for some reason my daughter's details were not immediately accepted by their computer system. We thought it was sorted only to find that the card was denied by security at boarding and once again at the first port of call. Little concerned that we would not like the inside cabin having previously had a balcony cabin on the Caribbean. The cabin was fine, perfectly adequate. Slept extremely well, in fact had difficulty waking in the morning due to the darkness of the cabin. Voyager of the Seas was we we expected it to be having been on the Mariner previously, a sister ship. Lovely vessel, spotlessly clean. Food in the main dining room and Windjammer was good. Waiters in the main dining room were excellent, Dominic had very good sense of humour. Enjoyed the gym on board. Ice Show was excellent. Cruise Director, Mercedes, was good but preferred Graham Seymour on the Mariner. The only time we experienced service below the standard expected was at the information desk. They do their job! We had a problem with our key card on the last night which took 3 attempts to resolve. Not very good when attempting to get luggage out by the deadline. Overall very good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
We flew from Glasgow to Palma in Majorca (our point of embarkation), and were transferred to the Island Escape by bus from the airport (all very efficient). Embarkation was not the best introduction to our first cruise. It felt more of a ... Read More
We flew from Glasgow to Palma in Majorca (our point of embarkation), and were transferred to the Island Escape by bus from the airport (all very efficient). Embarkation was not the best introduction to our first cruise. It felt more of a cattle market, where cruise staff appeared to be single minded in their intent on getting hold of our credit card details, than welcoming us to the cruise experience. Our initial impression on embarking was that the ship was huge, and we thought we would never find our way around, but our fears were unfounded and after a short time we pretty much had our bearings. (No doubt my husband would find that hard to believe!) Our cabin was basic, but adequate for a week's cruise. However, we did have to get the staff to rearrange the beds into an "L" shaped arrangement (our request on booking), to make better use of the floor space. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the greatest sailor, but I did manage to find my sealegs quite quickly (thankfully), unlike a few of our fellow travellers, who were conspicuous by their absence at meal times. However, the staff did try and prepare for inclement weather, by strategically placing sickbags around the ship, not that my mother had much to worry about. She proved to be a true sailor and I'm sure the boat could have been doing somersaults and it wouldn't have put her up nor down (apart from perhaps taking the precaution to don some water wings and relocate to a life boat!). We certainly found enough to do on board, and tried to fit in as many activities as possible, which made the cruise feel very hectic (but as we were only on board for 7 days we wanted to try everything on offer). A longer cruise would certainly have given us some breathing space and would have allowed us to take things at a more leisurely pace. However, we did enjoy the card competitions, dancing lessons, quizzes, demonstrations, etc, etc, etc. On top of all these activities we had to find time to eat, and the food was superb, with enough choice during our 7 days on board. We tried all the restaurants on offer, but felt our second time in the a la carte was not as good as our first visit. That apart, we did enjoy all the culinary delights on offer and, as you can imagine, it was weightwatchers for us on our return home. The entertainment staff were very hard working, putting on all the daily activities, then performing in the evening at the shows, (which they performed very professionally). We found all the staff to be very helpful and accommodating and especially enjoyed returning to our cabin to see how the cleaning staff had presented our towels each day. (To our delight they were very imaginative and comedic in their endeavours.) The port and shore excursions were very well organised, easy to book and professionally executed but, to be honest, we only really got a taste of these places, and we would like to return on another holiday to spend more time in each of them. Disembarkation was pretty straightforward. Our cases were put on the quay, which we then had to identify for the onward transfer by bus to the airport. Overall, it was an enjoyable first cruise. The lessons from that holiday will certainly be put to good use on any future cruises, ie duration of holiday, locations, cabin size, fully inclusive, time of year, weather, etc. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Background:Family of 4 including 13 yr old dtr and 17 yr old son. This was my 5th cruise, 4 CCL and 1 RCCL. Transportation/Embarkation:Flew into FLL because it was much cheaper than Miami. Rented a midsize car from Dollar for $35 using ... Read More
Background:Family of 4 including 13 yr old dtr and 17 yr old son. This was my 5th cruise, 4 CCL and 1 RCCL. Transportation/Embarkation:Flew into FLL because it was much cheaper than Miami. Rented a midsize car from Dollar for $35 using the "KISS" promo code. Spent the night in the Hampton Inn (very nice and clean and had a great free breakfast) near the Miami airport and returned the car the next morning to MIA lot. They provided free shuttle to the port. Arrived at 11am even though they tell you they don't board until 1230. We were given give a card for zone 8 as we entered the line and by the time we finished getting registered they called our zone to board. We were on the ship by 1140. They give you a sheet with helpful info that I recommend you read. We looked around the ship a little then went to Emilies for lunch which was very good. Tried to get into cabin early at 1pm but they wouldn't let us. Cleanliness/Maintenance: I thought the ship was beautiful and very clean. I was disappointed in how dirty some of the deck chairs were. And many of them were broken or missing the piece that elevates the head. Was also very disappointed that 2 of the 5 hot tubs were broken the entire week. The open ones were always full. We also had a problem with the answering machine on the phone in our cabin not working. Called guest services once, told room steward, and went to guest services twice before it was fixed 20 hours later. Cabin/Room Steward: Booked Guaranty Balcony and was upgraded to 8C. Had 2 twins,sofa sleeper and bunk. All of the beds were very comfortable. Pleased with size of room and storage space. Great location near aft of the ship. Was about 4 rooms from stairs/elevators that went right up to the buffet and pool areas. They provide nice robes(seen people wearing them all over the ship) and beach towels you can use at pool or even take off ship on excursions. They replace them each day. But will charge you $22 dollars if you lose them. You can also purchase new ones, I would have bought one if I had room in suitcase as they are definitely worth it. They also have shampoo and body wash in shower and a complimentary razors, toothpaste,Tylenol PM, ect in bathroom. Room steward was nice and did great job of keeping room clean and made great towel animals. Was not as friendly as some I have had in the past. Seemed upset if we were not out of room early and told us one day at 10am if we were not out by 12, he would not be back til night time. I know they have to be done by 12, but he was a little rude, as we had 2 hours. Did not call us by name at any time. Also, on the last day we were told we had to be out of cabin by 830. At 740am he knocked on the door lightly a couple times and before we could get to the door opened it and started to come in. He told us we had to be out by 8am but when I questioned it, he said 830 was ok. The balcony was beautiful. However, the lounge chairs are old and need to be replaced. Was the only thing in the room that looked old. Entertainment: The entertainment was good. We especially enjoyed the Karaoke Bar. They audition people the first few nights and have a final contest on Wednesday on the big stage. Tried the casino but did not win anything, didn't see many other people winning either. Also tried Bingo without any luck. But they did give away some nice money prizes. The big screen TV on the Lido deck was nice. Enjoyed the fact that you didn't have to go inside to hear information like the debarkation program as they showed it on the Lido TV so you could continue swimming or tanning. Kids Activities: My daughter was in Circle C and I was very pleased with how well it was organized. She loved the director Natasha. They did alot of cool things. My son was in Club O2 which is a really neat club with the bar serving soft drinks, a dance floor and a lounge to just hang out. They also have a huge arcade. Both of the kids had a great time and stayed busy the entire week. They made alot of good friends that they will probably keep in touch with for a long time. Pictures: They take pictures every night and they did a really good job of it with various backgrounds. They have signs saying they may take the pics down each night but ours were there all week. At $22 for a 8X10, I would recommend waiting to see which ones are best before buying. Dining: We requested early, traditional seating. They gave us late. At registration, they told us to go to the dining room at 130pm and they would change it. We just happened to walk by at 1pm and they were already doing this. They very willingly changed our time and honored our request for window table. We ate dinner in the dining room everynight and the food and service was great. Only made it to breakfast in dining room 1 day and it was good. Did buffet for breakfast rest of week as well as lunches. Did not find the lines to be as bad as I have heard. They have food everywhere, there one buffet in the very back, plus another buffet right in front of it with one side serving made to order stir fry. They also have a window on the side with deli sandwiches and on the other side there is mexican food. Then there is the Fish and Chips upstairs and grills next to the food. We also hit the pizzeria and grill late night on the very aft part of lido deck. Have great burgers,chicken sandwiches, fries, etc. There are 3 areas with ice cream/frozen yogurt. Many times they were either closed or one machine was broke or empty. We only did room service once as there was so much food on the lido deck. Excursions: We arrived in Puerto Rico at 5pm so decided not to book excursion. After walking off the pier, there were all kinds of people offering tours for $20 for 2 hours which was longer than we wanted since it would be dark. Then we found one for $10 for 1 1/4 hours. It was great. Nice smaller, clean tour bus with a great driver who gave a great tour. In St. Thomas we took the BOSS excursion which was $122 for 3 hours. It was alot of fun, you ride underwater scooters with your head in a bubble. You only were on it for about 30 minutes. You were able to snorkel while waiting you turn. The staff of that tour were awesome, very helpful and concerned about everyones safety. We had a guest who was confined to a wheelchair and they went out of their way to ensure he had a great time. We also took the Sky Ride which was $18, we had a beautiful view but thought it was a bit pricey but would still recommend it. In St. Maarten we took a taxi into town, was $8 round trip. Would recommend you take the water taxi instead, only $6 for as many trips as you want. We went to the Excursion talks and the Shopping Talks. The shopping specialist made a recommendation that we get copies of our passport at Guest services and take that offship instead of the original. When we went to do that, Guest services said that we should NOT do that as we would need original to go through immigration. Miscellaneous/Suggestions: Do bring the power strip for your room as their is only 1 outlet on the vanity. I would bring a cup with a lid to fill up with water, tea, lemonade etc. so you can carry it around or bring it back to the cabin as the plastic cups available are kind of small. Do try to walk around the ship alot, even on the last day I was finding areas I hadn't seen. If you want to use spa services, wait til end of cruise, they offer specials. I signed up on Wednesday to enter a "drawing" where you could bid for a service on Friday. Your bid had to be at least 50% of the original fee. I bid $100 for a $195 massage and was "picked" to receive it on Thursday evening. Funny thing, 3 other people I talked to also "won". Then they announced on Friday that all Spa services were 50% off. If you need Tylenol, Aspirin, or Sea Sick pills, they are free and readily available just outside the clinic area. Debarkation/Trip back home: Alot of people chose self assist where you carry your luggage off yourself. They were letting those people off by 8am. We did the traditional way and put our luggage out the night before. We were in Zone 7 and they announced we could get off before 9am. We walked right off and found 3 of our 4 luggages right away but had to wait 20 minutes for the other one, was getting worried but it showed up. We handed our customs form to the agent and walked out. They did not even check our passports. Our shuttlebus for Dollar Rental was just across the street right outside the door. Drove back to FLL and was in the airport before noon. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
I travelled with a large group of 68 but my small group of family and friends consisted of 16 women ranging in age from 25-52 with one 14 yr old. We arrived on the ship just in time for the muster drill. Talk about cutting it close. This ... Read More
I travelled with a large group of 68 but my small group of family and friends consisted of 16 women ranging in age from 25-52 with one 14 yr old. We arrived on the ship just in time for the muster drill. Talk about cutting it close. This was my fourth cruise, first with RCCL. Overall, I would give it an 8 out of 10. Three of our balcony cabins were on the 6th deck and the carpet smelled very musty. Down the hall in front of one of our inside cabins, the carpet smelled even worst. Dining service was OK to say the least. Their lunch selections definitely needs improvement. Coming back from one of 8 hour tours a couple of us couldn't find anything on the buffet worth eating. Everyone does not eat pork or hot dogs. I settled for a salad. The Carmen Dining Room on Deck Three had an odor as well. Service at our early seating was mediocre. Some of our tables were always finished at least 45 minutes before we were. Not sure what that was about. Sometimes we got all of our appetizers, sometimes we didn't. I think there was a conspiracy going on b/c twice I asked for a baked potato but didn't received it. LOL. Maybe they were trying to tell me something. Entertain was OK. The first show wasn't that great at all. Ice show were two nights in a row and once you saw it the first night there was no need to see it again. Yet, there was very little else to do. Activities needs improvement. Sunday, our little group took the train to Monaco. All the shops were closed but it was a delight to see the town. Monday and Tuesday I arranged private tours with Rome in Limo for two vans for Florence/Pisa and Rome. WOW. What an incredible time we had. I recommend these folks highly. They showed us some many things I couldn't begin to list them all. They were very accommodating. Took us to two nice restaurants for lunch and even a stop for ice cream. My daughter has 400 pictures if that's any indication. I definitely helped the Italian economy along in the shopping area they took us to. Wednesday we decided to strike out on our own in Naples. We came across a very friendly older Italian gentlemen who took the 8 of us under his wing. He took us on the bus to the top of the mountain for the most amazing view and a stop at a local cameo store. We would have never felt comfortable doing this on own as we were warned to be careful of our possessions and surroundings. He also took us to a restaurant for lunch, a taste of limoncello and wine. Thursday was Palermo and we basically just wandered the streets for a little shopping and came back on board. Friday was the day at sea thank goodness b/c I was exhausted. This was truly a cruise of a lifetime in that I don't know when I'll ever get the chance to go back to these place and especially with the family I travelled with; e.g. sister, daughter, three nieces and a great niece and friends. Although my niece and one of my daughter's friend's luggage was lost for the first three days and it rained 70% of the time, overall I'd say we had a great time. We stayed at the Hotel Catalonia Ramblas in Barcelona for one night after the cruise. Great bathrooms, hard beds. Ventured out to Las Ramblas to see the sights then hopped the tour bus to see the City. A must see is LaSagrada Familia. WOW. What a church!!!! I put it right up there with St. Peter's Basilica. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
This was our 6th cruise. 4-RCL, 1 Carnival, 1 NCL....and our daughter's first. We began our vacation traveling to LAX from Denver. Delta dogged us by changing our nonstop flights to a short layover in Salt Lake (and a tiny little ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise. 4-RCL, 1 Carnival, 1 NCL....and our daughter's first. We began our vacation traveling to LAX from Denver. Delta dogged us by changing our nonstop flights to a short layover in Salt Lake (and a tiny little plane which freaked out the family) Upon arriving in LAX, we were surprised when our luggage was on the baggage claim carousel when we got there. BRAVO! Then we hopped onto a Super Shuttle with our pirate friends who were also sailing with us. Next stop, the mouse house and the Fairfield Inn in Anaheim. The hotel was clean and convenient. The mouse house was fun and we found it to be a very different experience than WDW in Orlando. Sunday morning we were off to the port again by Super Shuttle. After having a car go flying out of control and coming a little too close for comfort, we arrived at the port. Quite different than the east coast ports we are used to. Embarkation was quick and painless. We found the ship to be very beautiful and in decent shape for its age. I was not accustomed to seeing the fingerprints and haze's on the chrome and brass (especially up high) as well as the large amount of light bulbs that were blown out in the public areas (I counted 13 blown bulbs in the solarium alone). This has not been my experience on other RCL ships. This was the only drawback to this beautiful ship. We had 8088, a corner aft JS with the most wonderful balcony. It has to be the nicest cabin we have had on any ship so far. Clean and fairly roomy for a smaller ship. Storage was a little shy for our luggage. It would have been fine for 2, but we had our DD aboard for her first cruise. Our cabin stewards' name was Junior. Boy was he great! He kept the ice bucket full and the cabin in great shape the entire trip. He was timely with all our requests and was one of the best stewards we have had to date. RCL somehow ran out of the mints for our cruise which i found unusual. Day 1 was explore the ship and unpack. We did get together with the cruise critic folks before muster drill in the schooner bar. Great group of people. We had an awesome time at sailaway with our friends Dave & Cindy. Champagne was flowing on the balcony and there was plenty of room for all 5 of us. We could have fit alot more. We Dinner was in the formal dining room, late seating. We ordered the prime rib. BEWARE! We found the beef extremely tough and avoided it except for the fillet. Other food was very good as always. We spent the evening at the schooner bar. The pianist was okay..We have seen better. Day 2 - Day at Sea - Seas were a little rough, but not too bad. The temperature was cool and I took some time to wander around the ship a little more and visited the hottubs which were not too crowded. We had a late lunch in the windjammer. I found the food there good and the service unreal. It was almost as good as the service in the formal dining room. Dinner was good in the formal dining room where we dined every night. Day 3 - Cabo - Tenders were from the ship. quick and frequent. We had booked the horseback ride thru the ship for the girls and the beach buggy excursion for myself and Dave. My DW wound up missing the excursion as she wasn't feeling well, but Cindy & my DD had a wonderful time. As for the beach buggy excursion, I thought it was going to be a bust when we arrived at the site. 4 to a car and 84.00 per person. We did take turns driving and it was surprising how much fun we had. Pay someone 84.00 to beat the heck out of a buggy on the beach/riverbed for a few hours...it was fun! If you book this, be aware the buggy's are manual shift transmissions and be prepared to get filthy from the dust. Another champagne sailaway on the balcony with our friends. We took in a movie to cap the evening off. Day 4 - Mazatlan - We again booked our excursion thru the ship. WE all went on the Sierra Madre, Concordia & Copala tour - MZ06. This was a fantastic tour! You got to see lots of culture, as well as some shopping. Irma was our tour guide and she was the best! She was very informative and active with our group. If you do this tour, be sure to save some cash for the last stop, Copala. Lunch is included and was very good. A band plays while you eat. As far as shopping, they have the most awesome masks there. The artist makes them from animal and fish skins. Prices topped out at 40.00 US but well worth it. These are truly works of art. They also have some carvings that are sold by the church that are nice. The evening on the ship concluded with the Quest. We won silver thanks to Dirtgirl who was our runner and some skinny guy from the schooner bar that was kind enough to help out with some of the more interesting quests. We even had the dentures this time (no names mentioned!) Day 5 - Puerto Vallarta - By far the nicest port. We booked a ziplining tour off the ship. La Vista tours (67.00 US pp)..10 minute cab ride from the port. Then off on a 40 minute ride into the mountains. My DW was nervous on this one as she is afraid of heights....the fear was quickly replaced by the fun. This place was by far the best excursion we have ever done anywhere. 15 ziplines await you. some thru, some above the canopy. Most are longer than the other places I have seen. The guides were very involved in the tour and kept us safe and well entertained. They send you out with a photographer and a video cameraman. Prices for the same were 35 & 45 respectively. Well worth the money for the video. They capture the whole experience and it comes out like a television show. This is a DO NOT MISS tour. Sailaway again with champagne on the balcony only to be turned back by a medical emergency. I hope the person is ok, but it does go to show that RCL takes good care of the passengers. Day 6 - Day at Sea - We just kicked back and went swimming in the solarium. Spent some time in the casino. And enjoyed each others company. We did go to see the adult comedian at midnight who was very entertaining. Day 7 - Day at sea - After getting our bags packed early, we took some time to get some sun on the balcony. Last trip to the casino for some blackjack and craps. And another fine dinner in the formal dining room. Randy and Rubin were our waiters at our dinner table. They were among the best I have had. Kudo's to the both of them. Day 8 - We arrived back in port where there was alot of smoke and haze from the Cali. fires. Getting off the ship was fast and painless, We booked the Malibu, Santa Monica,Beverly Hills tour thru the ship. I personally found this soso. I don't have alot of interest in actors etc. We has lunch on the Santa Monica Pier at the seafood place next to the restrooms (south side past the police station)...in one word, HORRIBLE!...We definitely will not go back there! It was nice to see some of the area as we had a late flight back to Denver. The smoke from the fires really made it a nasty day to be touring and the tour guide was not the best. In closing, this was a great vacation for all of us. Overall, the ship was very nice. The crew was exceptional, very personal, and very in tune with our needs. Food was good except the beef (I did miss Chops & Portofino's). The entertainment was average. What really topped off this cruise was the company... my DW, DD, pirate friends and cruise critic friends that we met. We had a wonderful time and would sail this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
After reading some of the less complimentary accounts of cruises on the Norwegian Star, I thought that I'd throw my experiences/impressions into the mix in hopes of reassuring some future cruisers that they don't need to be ... Read More
After reading some of the less complimentary accounts of cruises on the Norwegian Star, I thought that I'd throw my experiences/impressions into the mix in hopes of reassuring some future cruisers that they don't need to be worried about their upcoming adventures on the Star. This review of the Star is written from the perspectives of a first time NCL cruiser (previous six cruises have been with Celebrity, Carnival, and Premier's Big Red Boat), and with additional input from my sister who was a first time ever cruiser. Living in Southern California and wanting to keep things simple, the decision to do a seven day Mexican Riviera cruise was easy. For us, an ideal cruise would involve sailing from and returning to a port that's close to home and avoiding airports. The cruise lines that met the criteria were Carnival, Crystal, Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. The following factors led to our ultimate selection of Norwegian. Free Style dining with a relaxed dress code, lower cost than all except for Carnival, my sister would be pleased with any cruise experience since this was her first cruise, last year my husband and I had visited the same ports with Carnival, and at the time of booking, Norwegian was offering cabin upgrades and on-board credit. At no time did we regret our selection. Embarkation was fast, waiting less than 15 minutes until they called our assigned number for boarding. We didn't hear until we were well into our cruise that the ship had around 1,600 of the possible 2,240 passengers. A less than full ship may explain why seating in the Aqua and the Versailles was always immediate, there were lots of time options for specialty restaurants, seating in the theater was abundant, deck chairs seemed available, and though we selected the 10:00 a.m. debarkation, we were off the ship and through customs by 9:40 a.m. The only waiting we ever did on the Star was for some popular machines in the casino, and in the omelet line at the buffet and that was resolved when we discovered that we could order omelets at the Blue Lagoon. Whatever the reason for the fast and friendly service throughout the cruise, we were very pleased. There were activities offered on the Star that I hadn't found on previous cruises. The Murder Mystery Dinner made for a fun evening and was an opportunity to meet other passengers. If you like to meet people and get to know them better over the course of a week, then Free Style dining is probably not a good choice. The Mystery dinner was the longest time that we spent with other people during the cruise, yet at the end of the meal, we still only knew our dinner companions by their character names. Even so, for us, it was a cruise favorite. To participate, sign-up was required and was limited to 100 participants, so if you're interested, check the "Freestyle Daily" early for when and where to get your name on the list. (Our sign-up was at 9:00 a.m. on the first full day of the cruise and could have easily been overlooked.) Other activities that seemed unique to this cruise were the backstage tour conducted by four members of Jean Ann Ryan Productions, the Cruise Director Paul Baya's presentation regarding life on the Star, an afternoon Q&A with one of the guest performers, Magician Murray Sawchuck, and evening snacks served in the casino. On the evening of November 4, 2008, the Spinnaker Lounge was converted into Presidential Election Broadcast Central where you could support your candidate with drinks and photos, and lots of whoops and hollers. Missing from this cruise, but what seems to be a recent trend, was the Midnight Grand Buffet. I read in a Cruise Critic posting that there is a move in that direction by the cruise lines because of the time and effort involved in putting together a beautiful array of food that many passengers are too tired to photograph and enjoy. Our Transatlantic cruise on Celebrity Constellation in April presented a truly grand late night buffet but by the time we sailed on Celebrity Millennium in September, no midnight buffet. The Star did provide a lovely, delicious chocolate buffet but be ready for good eats and not good photo opportunities. The nightly visits to the Stardust Theater to see Jean Ann Ryan Productions or the guest performers, magician Murray Sawchuck or juggler Romano Frediano, were always a treat. The talent of the performers compared well to that of the performers enjoyed during other cruises, as did the vocalists found in the Atrium and at the various lounges. Combine the entertainment with a casino that stayed open as long as there was action, with late night snacks at the Blue Lagoon, and night life was good on the Star. A few other notes on items that concerned us before the cruise...Internet service on the ship was fast enough, as long as we weren't trying to send photos. The food was fine, especially the chilled soups, served each day in both of the "no charge" main dining rooms (Aqua and Versailles). Motion of the ship was minimal and all of the pills and patches we were careful to pack were never used. Cigarette smoke couldn't be avoided in the casino but otherwise the smoke wasn't as bad as we had feared. Though the cabin seemed smaller and tighter than those on other ships, the space and storage were sufficient. Towel animals did appear some nights, a cruising treat that I was afraid my sister would miss after my Celebrity animal drought. Television choices were, indeed, limited, especially after the first day, but there were always CNN and at least three movie choices at any time. Finally, even though we were worried about the incentive for the staff to perform well with the mandatory service fee applied by NCL, all of the crew provided excellent service and we felt had earned any additional gratuities. So in summary, pack your bags (you might want to include your own favorite shampoo and conditioner) and enjoy all that the Star has to offer, especially the eclectic and colorful art and design throughout the ship. We think that you'll have a fine time and consider it money well spent. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
What can I say? Helping me to celebrate my Mom's 76th birthday were 3 other girlfriends all in their 50's. This is my 8th cruise - third on Princess having sailed the Dawn in 1997 and the Grand a few years after that. ... Read More
What can I say? Helping me to celebrate my Mom's 76th birthday were 3 other girlfriends all in their 50's. This is my 8th cruise - third on Princess having sailed the Dawn in 1997 and the Grand a few years after that. Embarkation: Can you believe we were at the port and on the ship in less than 30 minutes? A snap! Painless! Princess devotes staff to organizing embarkation splitting you on escalators by cabin number. Someone greets you at ship entry and even at elevators till you get to your room - bravo! The Cabin - our minisuite on Dolphin deck was superb. Great layout, impeccably maintained inside and plenty of smart storage. Recommendation? Dolphin balcony's are exposed to the elements natural and man made (bird droppings, cigar droppings from above and rain) a better effort to maintain these would enhance the balcony experience which was so-so. Also - if you are 2 in the cabin - 4 chairs are way too much - get two removed! The Public Areas - the true test of a ship is the ability to please a full load of passengers when the sea day has crummy weather. This was a death knell on the Norwegian Dream to Bermuda this summer but on the Crown...a good excuse to take part in all the activities and amenities the ship has to offer. You NEVER feel crowded or bored on this baby! The Staff - LOVE YOU ALL! Big kudos to Rebecca 'Becks' the Asst CD. Indefatigable! The dance lessons were phenomenal. These gals taught in 30 minutes more than we learned in a lifetime of onshore lessons! Priceless! We loved watching clueless couples get to be cool dance partners in 7 days! Entertainment - ok our faves were Epthany, DJ Don, the piano and guitar guy at Adagio and Crooners. The string quartet divine! And the calypso guy wonderful. Some misses...Cindy Chavez and friends, the Orchestra and only saw one production number bit that was enough. As for comedians...our friends said it varied. Wherever Becks was it was great! Food - pretty good! When lots of ships are cutting back Princess still offers some interesting and tasty fare. Loved the International Cafe for morning latte - thank you Angel and Tonya! (coffee cards are a bargain)and for lunch (many items are included and though not a soda lover one of our group was and the soda card was a real bargain!) for salads, lovely sandwiches and a glass of wine! Never got to Vines but my friend loved it! As for the dining room....definitely have our prejudices. We had anytime dining. It may be the same menu all over but it is not the same experience. LOVED the SERVICE and AMBIANCE at Michelangelos. Detested everything about Da Vinci's! Am I picky? Nah! Everytime we went for reservations there was plenty of opening at DaVinci and Michelangelos was booked almost solid except for 8:15 seating (which we gladly took)! Our waitstaff - Pat and Alex were great! We also enjoyed Victor (neighbor waiter at MA DR and our coffee service guy!. Excursions: Only took one in St Martin to the French Riviera Rendevous. 3.5 glorious hours of beach, sand, sun and a nice lunch...very reasonable since I was going alone and best? No hard sell anything! Ship shopping - neutral Art Auctions - fun and yes - I bought something and won something. Photography - Monique did the best lifestyle portrait of me in cargos and barefoot on casual night that ever was taken in 53 years. So I say - get your pix taken - its no obligation and you eve know! Did I experience it all? No - too much to see, do and enjoy! That's a compliment! I could go on and on - it was a fave trip and cruise - I love the Love Boat! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Background Information: I was travelling with my husband and his parents. My husband and I have been on 5 cruises in the last 5 years - RCCL (1), Carnival (1), and Princess (3). Inlaws were with us on our last Princess and one other ... Read More
Background Information: I was travelling with my husband and his parents. My husband and I have been on 5 cruises in the last 5 years - RCCL (1), Carnival (1), and Princess (3). Inlaws were with us on our last Princess and one other previous Celebrity cruise. DH and I are in our late 30's, inlaws are in their late 60's. Ship Info: At first we really liked the smallness of IP. We had been on Golden and Grand Princess prior. As the days went on there were several things we did not like about this ship. We wished that there had been laundry aft/bow on alternating floors. it was really quite a walk from the very front of the ship to the very back of the ship with 4 people's laundry. Activities: We spent most of our time in the spa or pools! I don't recall every going on a tour of the spa area on the first day - so that was a new experience for me. We purchased a couples (for me and mil) pass for the thermal suite which was AMAZING. I snuck my hubby in one night to figure out how to make me a heated ceramic recliner!! We also thoroughly enjoyed working out with David and had a great experience with him. I hope the products we bought from him weren't a scam :) I really really enjoyed the pools and jacuzzis. we liked to go up when nobody else was around - and we could always find somewhere that a billion other people weren't there. Service: This is one area where this cruise really lacked compared to cruises in the past for us. The passenger services desk was horrible. They could never help you. Our safe somehow stopped excepting our code part way through the trip - and I had to call 2 times to get someone to finally come. I called to report it. And they said that someone would come. So we waited (changed our dinner plans). waited and waited. 45 minutes later I called again. THey said - oh are you in the cabin now? I said - yes - I am waiting. They finally came 30 minutes later. Meanwhile my husband is convinced everything was stolen out of our safe :) This is petty - but when I would call the services desk - I would sometimes give my inlaws cabin number when they would ask...what is your cabin number. So I would say; E202 (their number) and the dude would say - you mean E204. WELL IF YOU KNOW WHAT CABIN I AM IN WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME? Our other service issue: My hubby made a purchase at a ship recommended store and part of the purchase was left out of the box. so we went to the shopping desk - during their hours (after I was told I couldn't leave him a voicemail?) we waited 30 minutes. I went to the desk (right next to his desk) and said - do you know when he is expected? His hours were to start at 7:30 (it is now 8). The girl - who had already verified his hours with me....verified them again. she said well he is supposed to be here. so she tried calling him and paging him. We waited some more...nothing. Finally she said she would get him a message to call me. We waited a day - nothing. So I went again - and happened to get the same girl. I said that we had never heard from him, she said "like i told you he is sick" I said you never told me that....you said you were trying to reach him and that you would have him call me. I am sorry the man was sick - but I am sure there was a way that he could have let someone know before his set hours that he wouldn't be there. The issue is supposed to be resolved with our purchase - though it hasn't been as of yet. Shore Excursions: we only had one organized excursion and i was in Jamaica. DH and I had been to Jamaica a few times before - and had no desire to be there again. INlaws had never been so they booked a "best of" type tour for all of us. We very much enjoyed it! Cartegena: We actually enjoyed this port - and wished we had done some type of tour/excursion after watching them on the tv. We basically bought coffee and chocolate here :) Costa rica: We did not feel safe here. Again - had we participated in an excursion I am sure it would have been better... alas. We did buy some coffee here. But we went to the market recommended by the ship - and did not see a single other passenger....so we left. Aruba: I wish we had been here longer and not on a Sunday :) That is all. Panama Canal: We really enjoyed this whole experience. We did not have an excursion booked..so we stayed on the ship and went through the locks a second time. We ended up being in the dining room while we were lowered into a lock - and that was quite eerie! Cristobal: Thoroughly enjoyed this!! We bought lots of goodies here! Stateroom: Category C Oceanview. We typically have inside cabins (other than one time with a balcony). The window was a nice treat. My only complaint in the rooms - is the damn shower :) YOu had to stand cattywompous to not bang yourself on the handicapped bar. and the shower curtain is VERY friendly :) Once my hubby figured out how to get the water hot - it was must more enjoyable!. The bed was not the best. We had a really bad night the first night - so i requested an eggcrate. it got a bit better. Dining: This was another one of our unhappy areas. We had selected anytime dining. The first night our cards were checked to see if we were in the right place. The second night I believe they were too. After that they weren't checked. I did read another review of our exact cruise - and they mentioned not have sanitizer available in the dinging rooms. We had an entirely different experience Joanna (whom we actually called sanitizer girl) was there everytime we went in the dining room and squirted us...the same was true up in the buffet. Anyway - for some reason I never got the info that we should request the same dinging service crews - I wish we had. We had great service and HORRIBLE service. Unfortunately we had more of the latter. We basically dined at the same time every night...some nights we had no trouble getting in. Others we were asked to go upstairs to the fixed dining room. THe first time this happened - we were like - whatever - should be the same. WELL IT was awful. By the time we would be seated upstairs in whichever section - the other tables would be well into their courses. So we would sit and sit and sit. Waiting 20+minutes even for WAter! We happened to be up there for lobster night - and it was awful. The tables all around us were well into their courses and we were ordering. My husband politely asked for 2 lobster tails. You would think he had asked for the waiter to give birth to the entire state of TEXAS. Maybe we have just been lucky- but nobody has ever batted an eye if we asked for seconds of anything - especially LOBSTER! On our first cruise (RCCL) our waiter brought both of us 2 lobster tails and even had 2 more ready for my hubby - as we had told him it was his favorite. We are used to 2+ pounds lobsters from Maine....not a tiny tail. ANYWAY. My other issue - was in all of our past cruises every meal - we have had a hard time picking just one thing to order - it seemed on this cruise - we had a hard time picking one thing that we wanted to order. ODD. We did eat in Bayou one night - we enjoyed it. it was worth the extra fee. The sausage was YUMMY, filets were good, I remember not liking the corn muffins. Pickled turnip was interesting! We didn't like the alligator either. The buffet got really old. It really seemed to be the same stuff day in and out. We enjoyed the pizza, and hot dog/hamburger bars. FIL and DH used the ice cream bar at least once...i took advantage of the ice cream on the buffet a few too many times! we really enjoyed breakfast and lunch in the dining room. Entertainment: We didn't go to any of the shows :) We didn't use the Casino (our wallets thank us - Princess I am sure wishes that I had given into my addiction to Black Jack!) We did watch a lot of the movies in our cabins that played back to back all day long :) Disembarkation: This was a big part of our bad experience on this cruise. MIL purchased 4 ship transfers in which she stated our flight departed at 11:15 AM. We received 2 tickets and they received two tickets...our cabins were right next to each other. The night before we were to disembark - inlaws got the right tags - Red 3...and we got the wrong tags - Gold 5 or something. Allowing us to be off the ship between 10 and noon - well that won't work. We look at the breakdown on the sheet and it shows that Red 3 is for people with flights departing after 11 am...and before some other time. Gold 5 was for the entire Emerald deck with no special flight constraints. We call down and the Passenger Services deck (yet again) proved to be less than helpful and not knowledgeable. We finally went down in person with our transfer tickets....and flight info - and the service person said that it couldn't be changed. MIL said we could just use her tags (red 3) and we winged it. Thankfully it worked. But it might not have - and we got lucky! The transfer we paid for was a RIP OFF. We had to be smushed into a big bus with a million people for $15/person and then were dropped off at an inconvenient location where we (my fil has congestive heart failure) had to walk forever with our luggage to get to Jetblue. RIPOFF. And to think we were disappointed that we didn't get a transfer to the ship! Overall we enjoyed the itinerary. We will not be doing another Princess cruise before we go back to another line. I hope we can do Royal again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
OK...First time cruisers, Listen Up!! We are a large family of 7. My wife is employed by the Airlines and we live in Hawaii. We are very much a paycheck to paycheck type of family. We traveled as a family of 5. Two older kids ... Read More
OK...First time cruisers, Listen Up!! We are a large family of 7. My wife is employed by the Airlines and we live in Hawaii. We are very much a paycheck to paycheck type of family. We traveled as a family of 5. Two older kids couldn't afford to miss college. So, Mom and Dad and 16 yr. old girl, 11 year old boy and 6 yr. old girl packed up and headed for Los Angeles. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro. Its literally walking distance to the pier where you meet the ship, so its VERY convenient. We used "Zippy" shuttle for all of our ground transportation. EXCELLENT. The CP offered a shuttle to the ship on Sunday. We left the hotel at 10:30am and were on the ship by noon. The process of checking in and clearing customs etc. was simple. The initial entry onto the ship is overwhelming. The ship seems soo big. The staff was very friendly and point you in the right direction. We signed up for the soft drink program for the kids and then headed to lunch. Ate at our own pace and decided to visit our room. Probably no later than about 1pm and our room was ready to go. We had a family suite. We loved it. It offers 2 twin beds together as a queen, a set of bunk beds in a separate area and a fold out sofa in the living room area. So, it sleeps 5 perfectly.This was least expensive way per RCCL for us to travel as a family of 5. It was great. Be ready to be overwhelmed with things to do. We received the schedule of activities daily and you cant believe how much stuff is going on. That was our problem. We figured that since we paid for it we might as well get our monies worth. So, the first day we tried to do everything. After, missing a couple of activities, getting lost on ship, and generally frustrated we decided to just slow down and go with the flow. That was the best thing we did. Select a couple of things you might like to try or watch and really enjoy them. You will never be able to do everything. We did use the Ocean Adventures program for our 6 year old. She loved it. Well run, organized, safe, etc. Great. They offer it for selected age groups depending on who is booked on the cruise. Regretfully, not a lot of 11 year old boys. So... our son did sneak into the 12-16 year old activities and they do have a full arcade which he loved. Also, ping-pong tables by the main pool on deck 9 were fun because he could play with any age. One day I found him getting beat in ping-pong by a man who had to be 70 yrs old. Thats the fun of it, all ages mix on a cruise. Our 16 yr old daughter liked the freedom the ship offered. She could roam around and make her own decisions. Have a soda, have an icecream, go to the gym, use the internet, watch a movie, whatever...She was safe and had the means to eat and drink so she was very pleased with the cruise My wife loved the casino. In Hawaii we do not have legalized gambling so a casino is a rare find for us. Either travel to Asia or fly to Las Vegas. Coincidentally our cabin was located immediately below the Casino. My wife really enjoyed it and made alot of friends. I am sure she went every night but she won some and lost some. We had late seating for dinner. I would recommend it but, our 6 yr old did fall asleep at dinner twice. We loved getting dressed up. Formal nights are very cool. Pictures, flowers, great meals. Just like going to the prom. The staff that was assigned to us were very cool and we had so much fun interacting with them. My wife speaks multi-languages so she could speak some of the staffs native language. I think that was fun for the crew. The last comment is a little negative. It seems cruising is 50% the ship experience and 50% the destination. We are lucky to be from Hawaii. We traveled to Mexico. Visiting beaches and sun probably wasn't our best choice. We live that daily. If you come from cold weather or an inland state the Mexican Riviera would would be great. We are already looking into an Alaska Cruise with RCCL next summer. We made lots of friends and would recommend it to everyone. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Sailed on the Majesty of the Seas Nov 17-21 to the Bahamas and Key West. Embarcation was a breeze, virtually no line at 2PM, on the ship in 15 minutes. I have only cruised on Carnival previously and was pleasantly surprised when entering ... Read More
Sailed on the Majesty of the Seas Nov 17-21 to the Bahamas and Key West. Embarcation was a breeze, virtually no line at 2PM, on the ship in 15 minutes. I have only cruised on Carnival previously and was pleasantly surprised when entering the atrium. It looked like a nice hotel instead of a casino. Food - sampled all (with the exception of Johnny Rockets)from the buffet to the dining room, the food was of similar quality to Carnival, tasty but not gourmet. Stateroom - Tiny is an understatement. Barely enough room for 2 adults to move simultaneously. The extra 70SF from a Carnival room was missed. The satellite TV was not live except for an ESPN channel and CNN International. I missed watching local news, even if it was from Colorado! The bottom of the bathroom door was very corroded and fell off during the second night of the cruise. Guest Relations was notified 3x (twice by phone and once in person) and it took them 24 hours to offer us another stateroom. Because our children had an adjoining stateroom this was declined and we just asked for it to be fixed while we were ashore the following morning. It wasn't. Our steward did a remarkable job keeping up with the rust chips that fell every time we opened and closed the door. The lack of action was the most disappointing part of the cruise. Service - Room steward and wait staff were phenominal. Guest relations need multiple complaints to take action and maintenance was non-existant. Our head waiter was not personable at all, stopped at the table ust twice and rebuffed compliments about his wait staff. He was certainly there when the envelopes were handed out though! Carnival has it right - the prepaid tips are for only those that you are in daily contact with and the maitre'd only gets a gratuity should you decide to give it, on RCL he is included in the pre-paid list. We always tip over for good service, needless to say he didn't any extra... Ports - Nassau and Key West. Coco Cay was cancelled because the weather was too rough for the tenders. Both are still the same as my last visits - LOL. Overall - It was an enjoyable vacation. Cheers Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed about almost EVERY aspect of this cruise. I would like to invite others who may think that I am just a complainer, to read my travel reviews on cruise critic and tripadvisor.com (same name: drjentile). I ... Read More
Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed about almost EVERY aspect of this cruise. I would like to invite others who may think that I am just a complainer, to read my travel reviews on cruise critic and tripadvisor.com (same name: drjentile). I believe this will help to validate my complaints. I have never had a BAD travel experience (other than an unfortunate stay at the Motel 6 in San Marcos Texas). While I enjoyed my vacation (it is what you make of it) I would like to share my thoughts about the HAL experience... Embarkation: Well I began to get fired up as soon as we were called to the desk to check in. The lady (if you want to call her that) called my mother and I up to the desk so we quickly shuffled over there. As soon as we set our bags down she rolled her eyes in the most dramatic fashion and let out a large grunt at us. Not sure why this happened, but I said "is there some sort of problem?" and she stiffened up and proceeded to be overly gracious. What a welcome! After boarding we headed to the lido restaurant (without being given direction as to where that is...unlike Carnival). We were pleased that the all clear announcement was given precisely at 1pm to indicate that our cabins were ready. Our Cabin: We got to our cabin to find out that the stationary and our steward's list indicated a different set of occupants...a Harold Veltree or something of that nature. Then we received his luggage at the cabin and the room stewards did not seem to understand that we were not Howard Veltree after several attempts to explain. He finally got it though :) We went to the purser's office to alert them to the mistake...the woman at the desk indicated that there was no problem. Then when we went to the muster drill they were asking us again if we were Harold Veltree (or something of that nature) and we were trying to indicate that there was a mix up. They did not take our names down and I was fearful that if the ship went down we would have gone unaccounted for. We booked a Superior Suite. The room was large enough but the fixtures in the bathroom reminded me of the Motel 6. The verandah was wonderful!!! It had a table with two chairs, and two chairs with ottomans. We loved it! The beds were hard and the linens left something to be desired. The blankets were those old polyester ones you see at Motel 6. Mine had holes in it. I looked under the bed to find the old linens from the previous guest, stuffed under there...sheets, pillow cases, blankets, everything...and hair!!!!! It took over 5 polite request, one more sharp request, and 7 hours to actually get the used linens removed and replaced. Also when we arrived in the room, the waste bins still had rubbish in them and the programs from the previous cruisers were left on the couch. We were skipped several times for turn down service. Our water was never replaced from the first day. I placed my wine bottle by the ice bucket, and we did not receive ice for it until day 6. We got only three towel animals (weren't sure what they were..couldn't find them in the book). Sometimes our towels were replaced...etc, etc, etc. Dining: The choice of food in the Lido for breakfast and lunch was outstanding! The pizza/pasta station was delicious. The deserts were fantastic. The taco bar was amazing!!! I even saw sushi at the buffet! There was also a nice station where you could slice your own cheeses (including brie, gouda, etc). I do not remember our lead dining steward's name (and we just disembarked yesterday)...he was outshined ten-fold by the assistant dining steward Wizz. Wizz was fantastic and very attentive. Our wine steward Romeo was excellent too. He always anticipated my needs which was very nice! The dining stewards at the other surrounding tables were helpful as well...always there to pull out a chair or offer a menu. I am a vegetarian and I was satisfied with the veg fare. There was a veg choice nightly and a completely separate menu that was all vegetarian!!! This was so wonderful. The dining stewards brought me the next night's menu and the veg menu nightly so I could choose what I wanted in advance :) I do however have to indicate thought hat the veg fare on Carnival was much better. This veg fare was often of Asian or Indian influence, which I don't enjoy as much. Unfortunately the main course was always cold when it arrived, without exception. The soups and appetizers were warm though. The teas and goodies provided at the afternoon tea were scrumptious, and I will surely miss this portion of my day. There was no chocolate extravaganza which I had read about on other posts. Beverage Service: The beverage staff were wonderful! Best crew on the ship. Although I am a very very light drinker, you wouldn't know it b/c in every common area or bar there was a beverage staff member who knew my name, anticipated my needs, and was quick to serve. They were all very friendly as well. Entertainment: The female dancers were largely unfortunate. The male dancers were excellent. The singers were good. Joel Mason (the Elton John tribute) was excellent. Even if you don't enjoy Elton John you will likely just enjoy the show he puts on. Derrick Cameron the comedian was outstanding! The magician was incredible as well, and his whole family got involved. The Filipino crew show was wonderful. The scheduling of the evening entertainment did not lead to a smooth evening. This should be considered by HAL. Unfortunately there was a huge lack of on-board activities...unless you wanted to pay for them. Also it seemed like the best activities were scheduled while we were in port and on sea days there was nothing going on! We did participate in both wine tastings (for a nominal fee) and they were excellent. Georgi the Cellar Master was fantastic...very informative and just wonderful all around. Ports: Tendering in Cabo was a breeze. Out of I believe 4 ships we were "parked" in the best location...right next to "land's end" and lover's beach. This provided great photo opps. There were an inordinate amount of individual's selling items on the beach...more so than I have ever seen in Mexico. We went to Playa Madera which was lovely, though the food and drinks were just as expensive as in San Diego...in other ports there is a substantial savings, but not in Cabo. Mazatlan was wonderful. When we walked off the boat, we booked a tour with someone that was selling tours in the market area. It took us to Stone Island and was all inclusive with drinks, food, and activities for $30 pp. Thanks to Jorge and Gabriel with Playa Sur/Mazatlan tours!!!! I was underwhelmed with the beaches in Puerto Vallarta but the town itself is beautiful. Disembarkation day: Okay so when we woke up on Saturday morning it was like a switch had been turned off. All of a sudden there were no more warm greetings and only salty looks and a lack of any sort of service for breakfast. We were made to feel very uncomfortable, and could not wait to get off of the ship! This was delayed though as the computer system was down. Overall I was very underwhelmed with my experience on HAL. I will not sail with HAL in the future. It is not a luxury experience like you are lead to believe by the website. The ports and our table-mates for dinner were what made the cruise for me. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Sometime ago, my mother and I decided it would be a great experience to go on a family cruiseAs we live within 80 miles of Port Canaveral, we headed towards the port at 10am. Embarkation was a breeze, even being a family of newbies (with ... Read More
Sometime ago, my mother and I decided it would be a great experience to go on a family cruiseAs we live within 80 miles of Port Canaveral, we headed towards the port at 10am. Embarkation was a breeze, even being a family of newbies (with the exception of my parents who have cruised 4 & 5 times.) The port is beautiful & the security & staff were very pleasant & understanding. Should you be traveling into Orlando International Airport, prepare yourself for the opposite, as the security staff is NOT in any way polite or understanding of the stresses of travel. If memory serves, we arrived at Port Canaveral at 10:30am and were onboard by 11:30. Everyone was advised to go up to Deck 9 (Lido) to the Red Sail for lunch, buffet style. Obviously, during embarkation things feel VERY much congested, but after rooms are available, which was at 1:30pm, people moved to different areas of the ship. @ 1:30pm we went straight to our room, Cabin 7834 and tried to get ourselves familiar with our close quarters for the next 7 days. We originally had planned to use the bunk above the couch for our 5 yr old and the couch for our 2 yr old, but immediately decided probably not a great idea, for safety concerns. All the announcements and Muster Drill advisories made our 5 yr old VERY VERY upset and our steward, Sherwin from Trinidad, did his best to calm him and us. Although the Muster Drill was NOT fun, we managed through it and went back to our rooms to find MOST of our luggage had been delivered. My parents had the balcony room next door and my grandmother, who was in a single room (only a handful on the ship) was located towards the front of the ship on deck 6. We asked Sherwin to remove the balcony partition, which proved to add a great deal of balcony space. As for the cabin itself, it is very small but has a great deal of storage space, thank goodness! Best part of the cabin: the Beds! So soft and comfortable, which says a great deal coming from a Sleep Number bed gal! As we were planning on using Camp Carnival for our boys, we attended the Welcome Aboard Orientation in the Ebony Cabaret @ 5:30pm. It was somewhat thorough and helpful to get the Kids Capers (I do have a copy) and general info about the week ahead. Camp Carnival hours are varied and most times not at all convenient. A typical day on ship was 9am - noon/ closed from 12pm - 2pm/ open from 2 - 3:30pm (WHY!?)/ CLOSED until 7pm/ Open from 7pm-10pm (after 10pm babysitting service at Camp until 3am - 2 boys = $10/hr). Personally, I would have preferred they remain open more daytime hours and start the babysitting earlier (if it's a money making issue) and end around midnight. Who am I though? Our first night & day at sea were okay, I suppose. Hubby and I had a massage, which was nice, followed by a money making scheme of product selling. Before I knew it I had spent nearly $500.00 for 2 massages, 1 manicure and a couple of useless products from the spa! Watch out, Carnival nickel & dimes you to death!!!! So, after our 1 hour of relaxation, we had to go pick up our kids from Camp. As I felt the 1 1/2 hours of Camp from 2-3:30 was a waste, we remained in our cabin for the next 7 hours, except to eat at Lido's Red Sail buffet. By this time, I'm beginning to realize, this ship's food is well, NOT well. In fact, so far, it's BAAAD. We had reservations for the Supper Club that night though, so was willing to accept buffet food for what it was and hope for the best. If you are willing to pay an additional $30/person for dinner, you MUST MUST MUST go to the Emerald Supper Club! It was as good, if not better than some of my favorite 4 & 5 star restaurants at home! The filet is actually grilled (not so in the Dining rooms) the lobster tail was cooked perfectly... the food was Delicious!!! We wound up going back 1 more time after that. It should be said, that this pallet could only stomach these 2 meals. With the exception of the BLT & Roasted Turkey from Room service. Otherwise, I do not have to worry about the after cruise diet as I actually LOST weight! Day 3 - Cozumel I had done a lot of Cruise Critic research and was looking for an excursion for ALL to enjoy. Rather than book through the ship, I decided to go to the all inclusive: Nachi Cocom. We had to pay a deposit through the website but paid the remainder upon arrival. The cost of the taxi was about $20 1-way. For $49.00/ adult & $15.00 for the 5 yr old, we were brought to our own chairs on the beach. Offered a 3 course meal, drinks all day & a lovely waiter named Joseph. It's a beautiful spot (don't let the entrance scare you), very clean and simply perfect! Also, they only allow up to 100 guests/ day! Unfortunately for us, the high temp was only to reach 68F and all water activities (through the resort) were cancelled due to bad weather & seas. We picked through seashells, drank Corona & had some of the best Guacamole ever! No swimming to speak of (as we are Floridians and were cold, cold, cold). Day 4 - Belize City Only time we made plans to go on an excursion w/o our kids. Camp stays open until 5pm on port days. So, get this, our ship was 2 hours late getting into port due to an underwater earthquake! Not only were the seas rough due to weather but the ship had to slow to a crawl for safety reasons due to an earthquake! Anyways, we left the boys in Camp that day, while grandma stayed on ship, and headed to AltunHa & the Belize City tour through Carnival. It was definitely good for me to see the city and to get a better appreciation of just how good we Americans do have it, but as for spending time in the city... DO NOT GO INTO BELIZE CITY unless locked safely in a bus. After the city tour we headed about 45 minutes out of town to the ruins. Altun Ha is VERY cool! Approx. 8 temples/ buildings and 1 you can actually climb up to the top! It was a good and interesting day. Day 4 - Roatan Island, Honduras Without a doubt, the most fantastic day! We went to the Coral Cay resort through Carnival. What a breathtaking and beautiful place Roatan is! My hubby walked to dock down to the reef to snorkel, the kids played in the water, of the food ordered I would have to say the breaded shrimp was the best. I have discovered a new favorite drink: Monkeylata (Baileys, Kaluha & OJ frozen) YUMMY! Tasted like a chocolate milkshake. The service was awesome and the people were so friendly. Based on our time there, I would definitely consider going back to the island to stay for a week... although the singer at the resort suggested to stay away from the mainland if at all possible. Apparently, what we witnessed in Belize was very much like the country of Honduras.... Day 5 - Another day at sea... much like the 1st. Couple hours of free time and then, stuck in our cabin. We did roam the boat some, but due to the bad weather we couldn't go swimming in the pools on board. The upper decks (mini golf and scenic views) were closed a lot of times due to Strong Winds and bad weather. Can't do much about the weather, but it would have made for a totally different experience had the Caribbean been more like the Caribbean weather-wise. As for the boat, itself, there is not much else to do but gamble, drink, drink, gamble, & spend money. Every single show, Camp activity, shop & onboard experience had some kind of catch. Sell, Sell, Sell! Which seems unfair to the crew as far as I'm concerned. If I were them, I'd much rather give people things to do so as to earn better tips rather than force them into spending money on corporate crap because they are so bored.... So, here's where I'll talk about the Ship's Crew. WOW! What an amazing group of people they have working on the Glory! Every single person from housekeeping to bartender to Manicurist was simply lovely and so personable! Sherwin remembered our boys' names after day 1! Nearly every crew member stopped to smile and speak to our children! They were w/o a doubt some of the most humble and sweet people I've ever met in my life and they were from all over the world! The sacrifices those people make to make our lives more comfortable is amazing! Kudos & much much appreciation to the entire Glory Crew!!!! Day 6 - Freeport Not much to look at once you pull into port... industrial Ship Yard. We decided not to book anything and take a taxi ($10/person round trip) to Port Lucaya, which was nice I suppose. Lots of shops and bars. Again, chilly & windy weather didn't allow for swimming really. So, we wondered around, went back to the shop 2 hours later and were VERY anxious to pack our things and head home. THIS WAS THE WORST NIGHT AT SEA! I actually got sick for the 1st time on our way into Port Canaveral.... We HAD to take motion sickness meds everyday even though none of us had ever had it before. You should know, my husband and I go out on boats fishing the intercoastal & off the FL coast and I've never been sick (nor has he). We were not blessed with good weather EVER on this trip... no one's fault but be prepared for it. Apparently, the Eastern cruise scheduled for the week prior to ours only made it to 2 ports due to a hurricane. I realize we scheduled during the final days of hurricane season, but I was born and raised in FL and late season storms truly are a rarity. Oh well. Day 7 - HOME (FINALLY) Getting off the ship was nothing short of AWFUL. Our boys really tried to hold it together. We were in port at 7am, they began calling by deck (self assist luggage) & luggage numbers (issued w/ luggage tags) at 7:30am, by 9:30am they had called through number 7 (we were 9 - my grandmother was 25!) So, needless to say, my 2 yr old pitched such a fit (thankfully) that a very lovely crew member actually escorted us off the boat! Thank you, thank you, thank you! What a relief it was to get our luggage! Once off the boat, things moved very smoothly (as they had during embarkation) through the port & customs. What a surprise to get back to the garage & find our car battery was dead, but thankfully jumped by the parking garage attendant! NOW - 2 days later We are all still very queasy and suffering from motion sickness. My 5 yr old has something viral and was taken to the doctor this morning with a fever of 103. The kids don't want to sleep in their own rooms (having slept in the cabin with Mommy & Daddy for 7 nights). We are adjusting and hoping that one day soon, the wobbling will quit and the fond memories will surpass the pretty disappointing ones. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
A little background info: My small traveling group consisted of my parents(50's & 60's) and my boyfriend and I in our late 20's. It was my 4th cruise, and my parent's first. No special occasion needed, we just all ... Read More
A little background info: My small traveling group consisted of my parents(50's & 60's) and my boyfriend and I in our late 20's. It was my 4th cruise, and my parent's first. No special occasion needed, we just all wanted a fun filled vacation...and that's exactly what we got. Pre-Cruise: My bf and I drove into Long Beach the night before, and picked up my parents at the airport the morning of the cruise. We were at the cruise ship terminal by 9:30 and did early check-in on the Queen Mary. The whole process took about 5 minutes and we were told to line up near zone 1 at 11:30. We took that time to explore the Queen Mary and have a light breakfast. Boarding began at 11:45, and we were on the ship by noon. It was an absolutely painless experience. We grabbed some lunch on the lido deck and ordered our first drink of the day. At 1:30pm on the dot, we were allowed access to our cabins. Cabin: We had room 5164 which was an obstructed view balcony. The life boats came almost up to the railing on the balcony, so while you couldn't look straight down and see the water, you had a perfect view of the horizon - and the having access to fresh air is unbeatable. Otherwise the room was just fine, a standard cabin with plenty of storage space, comfy bed, and good water pressure in the shower. My only complaint with the room is that the TV could use an upgrade, it was very dark and grainy. Service: Service throughout the week was wonderful. Our cabin steward was always on top of it. Though we didn't see her a whole lot, when we did - we were always addressed by our names, our cabin was made up twice a day, a towel animal with turndown service and our ice bucket remained full the entire week. All the other employees encountered were friendly and helpful. Dining: We had a table for 4 people during the late seating with the best head waiter we've ever had. "Mr. Red" and his assistant could not have done a better job. The food was consistently good, all of the soups I tried were excellent. The lobster wasn't even tough like I remembered on previous cruises, it was small though - so be sure to order two! The buffet had a good variety of food for lunch, the hamburgers from the grill were tasty as were the sandwiches from the deli. The pizza could have used some improvement in my opinion, but there were people gobbling it up all week - so it might just be me. Breakfast did get a bit tedious, though the made to order omelettes were great and you could order eggs over easy there as well. We only used room service once, the order took about 20 minutes. Entertainment: In the main showroom there were a few Vegas style shows, a few comedians, and on the last night a Carnival Legends show where your fellow cruisers were the impersonators. It was a lot of fun, and there happened to be quite a few talented people on our ship! Other entertainment was pretty standard - casino, bingo, hairy chest contest, karaoke, trivia, board games, mini golf, etc...we were never bored. If we weren't doing something, it was because of choice, not a lack of activities. One thing not to miss is the Galley Tour. The kitchen is nearly as big as the dining room! Ports: In Puerto Vallarta we did the Tequila Factories Tour through Carnival. We had an excellent tour guide, Raul. There were two factories on the tour, one was a small family owned business, and the other a larger scale operation. Both had delicious tequilas and were generous with the tastings. In Mazatlan my boyfriend and I decided to wing it while my parents went on the city and shopping tour. We met up with another couple that was taking a taxi to the El Cid resort, so we tagged along. The taxi was a lot of fun, open air - sort of like a golf cart with a bigger engine. Not for the faint of heart. The El Cid Marina Resort was beautiful, management didn't seem to mind us being there as we ordered a couple drinks by the pool. We heard from some guests of the hotel that there is a free shuttle to their sister property El Cid Moro on the beach, so gave it a try. This resort was directly on the beach. We had lunch there, and spent some time playing in the ocean. The water temp was over 80 degrees and felt wonderful! I've been to Cabo San Lucas several times on my own before, so I was able to play the tour guide for my parents. We only had to wait about 10 minutes for a tender. We walked all along the marina and downtown to show them Cabo Wabo, the Gigglin Marlin, etc... we made it to the Mango Deck and set up camp there for a while. It was extremely hot that day, so we ran back and forth between the ocean and the beach umbrella. Again, the water was perfect, though the under toe was much stronger than I remember it. Overall: It was the smoothest, best cruise I've been on. I would recommend this ship and itinerary to everyone. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
CB is better the second time around. This was our third cruise with Princess and our second time sailing on the Caribbean Princess. We are a family of 4 and prefer cruising over land vacations because you are constantly moving and ... Read More
CB is better the second time around. This was our third cruise with Princess and our second time sailing on the Caribbean Princess. We are a family of 4 and prefer cruising over land vacations because you are constantly moving and there is something for everyone to do what ever your interests are. Standing in line at an amusement park for 2 hours in the blistering heat for a 30 second ride is not our idea of fun. Embarkation We arrived in San Juan at 11:30am. We retrieved our luggage and met the Princess Representative for our transfer to the ship. A week prior to leaving members of my roll call were mentioning that Princess had emailed telling them not to come to the dock for check in until 4:00pm. I never received any notification so I just proceeded as planned. We boarded the Princess Transfer Bus at around 12:30pm. When everyone was seated the bus driver announced that he would be taking us on a tour of San Juan. At first I thought that we were on the wrong bus because I didn't reserve an excursion for San Juan. But, the driver confessed that Princess was not ready for us yet. Thank you Princess for the free tour, we didn't have plans to see San Juan so this was a bonus. We drove around town and the bus driver gave us facts about Puerto Rico, pointed out government buildings, beaches and other tourist attractions. We stopped at the fort for an hour and took a tour. We arrived at the dock at around 3:30pm and it took about 25mins to check in and board the ship. The Stateroom We had a balcony stateroom mid ship on the Baja deck. This was the perfect location. It was cabin B422 and it was located by the panoramic lifts. We really enjoyed being mid ship because it was a convenient location from any part of the ship. There were 4 of us in the room myself, my wife and our two teenage sons. We wanted to book a mini suite but at the time of booking nothing was available. The sleeping accommodations were as followed. Two twin beds formed a queen size bed, one single bed dropped from the ceiling and a cot was brought in as the forth sleeping arrangement. You make think that this sounds crowded. You are correct. However, since the four of us were only in the room together to sleep it wasn't a problem. The nice thing about traveling with teenage sons is that they are never around and they don't require a lot of bathroom time. Over all, Ding our steward always managed to keep our room organized, clean and there were always towels and soap available. Dining We had anytime dining and will never go back to traditional. This form of dining really was the main reason our trip on CB was better than the first time. In 2006 we had late seating. By the time we finished eating we were either too late or too tied to see the shows or enjoy the evening. Early seating is too early. We like eating with different people each night because the conversations were always fresh and you were able to learn from the experiences of other people. I found out about the chefs table from a passenger one night and we are definitely going to do it on our next cruise. The Palm Dining room is the best kept secret for anytime dining. It is located on deck 6 like the Coral but, you have to go up to deck 7, walk across the ship and down one flight to deck 6 to get to it. I remembered this from our first experience on CB in 2006 when we stumbled into it accidently. We went to dinner between 7:00 and 7:30. Never a wait if you are willing to share a table. Make reservations for a table for 2. We met another couple on our first sea day and ate with them in the Palm. No wait to seat 4 people together with other passengers at the same table. Specialty Restaurants We did not attend the first formal night in order to join our new friends at Sabatini's that night. It is well worth the up charge. The waiter told us to just pick the entree and he would take care of the rest. I ordered the veal chop. It melted in my mouth it was so delicious. This is a traditional Italian nonstop eating event. They just kept on bringing us different food. The only thing I passed on was the sardines. On our last night we ate at Sterling's. I have to say although it was good it was better in 2006. My filet was very salty this time. Entertainment This time we experienced the live entertainment rather than MUTS. The comedian, Hypnotist, and the Piano Man production were all entertaining. We did enjoy MUTs on our first trip but just didn't make time to see a movie this on this voyage. Children's Clubs As I mentioned earlier we traveled with our two sons who are 13 and 16. Our children first experienced cruising when they were 5 and 8. We did a combination of Disney and RCI 4day cruise. My children are not your average kids. They did not enjoy the Magic Kingdom at all but favored Epcot Center. That being said they never stopped talking about the cruise. That works for me because I am not a big fan of amusement parks. This time however I was a bit nervous because since they are both teens they were going to be in the same group and these two do not get along at home. I don't know what happened in the teen group. Maybe they brought in the Hypnotist. But ever since we got back they are the best of friends. I think they discovered that they have one thing in common. That being girls. There were 43 teens registered but not all of them took advantage of the club. My oldest was the only 16yr old boy in the group so he was the token male. The two brothers met two sisters the same age and they all hung out the entire time. They played video games, watched movies, one night the girls had to dress the boys up as girls. I would have loved to been able to take pictures. My wife was not all that pleased when my son confessed that he had to borrow her dress and that she had to help them remove the eye liner. The children's club always keeps my children entertained no matter what age they were at the time of sailing. Ports of Call and Excursions This was a Southern Caribbean itinerary which includes Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, Tortola, and St Thomas. Five ports in 7 days are a bit much for me. I would have given up Tortola for an extra sea day. We have done Eastern and Western Caribbean Cruises but the Southern is my new favorite. Barbados- We had planned on touring the Harrison Cave. I booked it through Princess on line when it first became available. Princess needs to do their homework because the cave was closed on the day that we were in port. The excursion was not canceled until a week before we sailed. By that time the beach excursion was waitlisted. We decided that we would do something on our own. Boatyard beach was recommended by Princess so we headed there. It would have been nice if we were informed that between taxi and admission that it was going to cost $100 for a family of 4. In the morning we listened to the port and shopping channel and they advised to take a credit card and a small amount of cash. This translated to me as $150.00 in cash. After transportation and admission I was left with $50.00. Which I didn't think was bad until I tried to buy lunch. Now, we live in New York on Long Island where the cost of living is high compared to the rest of the U.S., but $30.00 for a salad is even stretching it for us. All in all we did enjoy the beach. The sand and water were amazing. They had a trampoline and a rope swing that the kids enjoyed and we were just happy to be there. The only negative experience I encountered was the constant badgering from the guys renting the Jet Ski. I didn't want to be rude which is very difficult for a New Yorker so I just kept saying no thank you. Finally, after the 25th time I stopped pretending that I was from Connecticut and gave him a N.Y. get the hell out of my face no! Problem solved. St Lucia- This Island was lush and beautiful. We did the 4wd safari. It was like touring Jurassic Park. We stopped at banana plantations where the tour guide explained how the banana plants grow and get harvested. We sampled bananas coconuts and banana ketchup. The tour was very educational. We walked down a very steep path to the water fall. It would be a challenge if you have a problem keeping you balance or just walking in general. If you take this tour wear water shoes for traction. Do not wear sneakers because you will be crossing streams by stepping on rocks. Antigua- We have a friend who lives on this island so we got a personal tour. We also did the Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour. This was a zip line and challenge course. It was our first zip line experience and I thought my wife was going to back out but she surprised me. Tortola- We didn't see much of this island. We got off of the ship and just walked around town to do some shopping. St. Thomas- This was our third time at this port and we enjoy it every time. We did the Sea Blaster Marine Snorkel Excursion. This was a fun and exciting adventure that we all enjoyed. The speed boat takes you out to sea and you get drenched all the way there. We were laughing so hard because my wife sat in the seat just behind the edge of the canopy and the water poured on her. She had to put her snorkel mask on just to be able to see. The snorkeling wasn't that great not a lot of fish. I may have seen more if I had my face in the water instead of trying to keep track of where the kids were. My thirteen year olds feet were cramping so I pushed him back to the boat while he kept his face in the water. All of a sudden I heard a scream from under water. Apparently I pushed him face to face into a barracuda. More fun times. On the way back we enjoyed views of the shore line as we drank never empty cups of rum punch. Disembarkation- I hate this word because it means the end of the vacation. It was very smooth and timely. In conclusion we had another fantastic voyage onboard the Caribbean Princess. We purchased FCC's with plans on sailing May 2011. However, when we got home we decided that we couldn't wait that long so we are headed back on CB for a Repo cruise in May 2009. Sorry kids this time it will only be me and your mother.  Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Celebrity Millennium - 14 November 2008 - 9 nights cruise from Sydney to Auckland This was our third cruise and our first with Celebrity. We were traveling for the first time with our 7 month old son. No time like the present to get ... Read More
Celebrity Millennium - 14 November 2008 - 9 nights cruise from Sydney to Auckland This was our third cruise and our first with Celebrity. We were traveling for the first time with our 7 month old son. No time like the present to get him into cruising right? Getting there and Embarkation We traveled from Canberra to Sydney on the morning of the cruise. We actually took a Murray's bus which was quick and cheap and took us straight into central station. We caught a train from Central to Circular Quay were, once we stepped out of the train station, we had fabulous views of the Millennium docked at the International Passenger Terminal. Our paper work said embarkation started at 3.30pm. We arrived at about 1.00pm and found almost no queue. At the terminal you first need to drop your bags off with the guys with the trucks. Make sure your bags are labeled with your cruise luggage tags and make sure you take your passport and booking info with you (unlike the guy we saw digging through the back of the truck to try and find his bag to retrieve something.) Next you will pass through security x-rays, which for us only had about 3 people in the line. Next you will head upstairs and fill in your outgoing passenger card and cruise line health sheet. Then head to immigration and the finally onto check-in. The whole process only took us about 10-15 minutes, but chatting with another passenger later, he said he left the ship to go and take some photos from the dock only to find he had to queue at the back of the security line with passengers that were checking in and he had to wait over an hour and a half. Stateroom We originally booked an inside cabin for the three of us. A few weeks before sailing we noticed we had been upgraded to an ocean view, on the same deck, just across the hallway on deck 2. We were traveling with our 7 month old son and the room was all ready with our cot and infant life vest. Our cabin steward Douglas was great, the room was always made up in the shortest times and all requests to him were completed quickly and with a smile. We found the room to be just as expected. One side of the room was a wall of mirrors which meant the room never felt small. We ended up leaving our cot up the whole time rather dismantling each day and we still had room to sit on the small sofa. The bathroom was big enough for one person at a time. We were pleasantly surprised to find the shower was big enough for us to shower with our 7 month old in our arms without banging our elbows. Weather and Sea Conditions The weather was a mixed bag, rainy on the way across the Tasman, and then mostly clear, partly cloudy days around 20 degrees. The rain on the way across didn't affect the seas, which were pretty flat. We never felt sea sick, but on the first day we felt a bit drunk while walking down the passageways, as we would stagger and bump the walls. Dunedin was windy and freezing, but apparently just a few days earlier the weather was in the 30s. We never thought it warm enough for laying by the pool, but some did while we were cruising around White Island and when in port in Tauranga. Ports and Shore Excursions With tours, my husband and I were a little limited as we were traveling with our 7 month old son. We couldn't take any taxis because we didn't take a car seat with us. Our plan all along was to just check out the cities were possible, but mainly just relax and enjoy the ship. Luckily New Zealand is close enough for us that we can return at another time when our kids are older and really get out into the wilderness. We could have done bus tours, but we would never have done any of the ship tours because they were far too expensive, especially when converted from US to AUS Dollars. NZ Fiords - We arrived in Milford sound early in the morning (7.30 - 9.30am) and because of the second time change (clocks go forward one hour on first day across Tasman and again on third day) there weren't that many people around. The naturalist commentator said it was the clearest he had seen Milford Sound in all the cruises he had been on. It really was beautiful with light hitting all the fresh greenery on the steep mountain walls. Because of recent rain there were lots and lots of small waterfalls cascading down and the large waterfalls were really gushing. Within only 30 minutes of entering the sound, the weather closed in and it started to rain. So bad luck to anyone that didn't wake up early enough to view the sound with the clear skies. We then cruised through Doubtful Sound from approx 12.15pm - 1.45pm and Dusky Sound 2.45pm - 5.00pm. Dunedin - The ship offered a shuttle into town for US$6 per person each way. We didn't go into Dunedin but had a quick walk around the port town. We only stayed out for about 45 mins as it was windy and freezing cold. Christchurch - Port of Lyttleton, the ship shuttle into town was US$7 per person each way. As it's a working port you're not allowed to walk out of the port. There is a free shuttle bus that takes you out of the port into the town of Lyttleton. We then caught the public bus (#28) into Christchurch. It cost NZ$2.80 each and included a 2 hour transfer which you could use to get back to the town of Lyttleton within 2 hours. One of the stops on the bus route was a cable car ride to the top of the mountain/crater rim. The driver of the free shuttle was very helpful and explained how to get the public bus. We walked around Christchurch city for a few hours looking a various shops and craft stalls set up in the square. Wellington - The ship shuttle into town was US$5 per person each way. We walked into town which took about 20-25mins (with a stroller). After walking up and down the main street we went on the cable car which takes you to the top of Wellington and to the Botanic Gardens. The cable car was NZ$5 each return and gave us good views of the bay, city and the ship in the distance. Volcanic White Island - We arrived close to the island at about 4.30pm and were able to get a great view into the centre of the crater. The Captain circled us around the island once and then basically stopped so we could enjoy the view during dinner at 6.00pm. It was great viewing and we got quite close. The best place to view it from is the top deck above the pool, if the weather is poor then try the Cosmos nightclub. Tauranga - There was no shuttle as the port is right in the town. We walked around the nice main street, then back to the ship. There are also lots of beaches around this area within walking distance. Auckland - we had a flight back to Sydney at 12.45. We didn't do any site seeing in Auckland. At every port there were NZ tourist info people available to answer questions and provide you with maps. Just another note on the ship tours. We were talking with a lovely American lady on the public bus on the way into Christchurch and she said she did a ship tour the day before which was a train to the Taieri Gorge. She said it cost her US$200 each and when she got to the train station she saw she could have purchased the ticket for NZ$49. She felt a bit ripped off and hence was on the public bus with us the next day. Children's Club At 7 months old, our little guy was too young to participate in the kids club, but we were allowed to take him to the toddler room and stay with him while he played. We went up there once and he had a play with some toys and with a sit/stand and spin activity table. He seemed to enjoy it. The staff also offered for us to check out a box of toddler toys to take back to our room, we didn't take it as we brought enough toys from home to keep him occupied. The kid's club area looked excellent and we wouldn't hesitate to let him attend when he is older. There weren't very many children on this cruise so the area was very quiet. Entertainment The Cruise Director James Calhoun was energetic and exactly what you expect from a cruise director. We had the opportunity to meet him when he welcomed us to the Cruise Critic Connections Party. Our get together was organized for the first day at 10.30am and it was great to meet the other cruise critic members. We were only able to stay for half and hour as our boy was hungry and tired, but I believe the other members chatted on till at least midday. I highly recommend going to your connections party. An interesting note that James told us at the CC party was the bulk passenger make up on the ship. Approx 700 Aussies, 600 US and a couple of hundred each of Canadian and New Zealanders. First time he said that Aussies out numbered Americans on one of their ships. As we had our 7 month old with us, and he was exhausted by 7.30 at night, we didn't attend any of the shows. This didn't worry us at all as we are not really 'show' people. So while we can't pass judgment on the quality of the entertainment, here is the schedule of what was on: Friday 14th - A taste of things to come show Saturday 15th - Simply Ballroom show Sunday 16th - Comedian Louis Johnson Monday 17th - Vocalist & Multi-Instrumentalist Hayden Smith Tuesday 18th - Boogie Wonderland Show Wednesday 19th - No theatre show, other activities instead Thursday 20th - iBroadway show Friday 21st - Starring You Gala Awards Night, featuring fellow guests as they sing dance tell jokes etc. Saturday 22nd - Australian Phantom of the Opera Donald Cant singing Speaking with other passengers at the end of the cruise, they were disappointed that there wasn't a show on every night. Activities They have an ongoing activity called 'Starring you' in which people participate in various activities and winners are picked for the Awards Show. Things such as 'Celebrity Singing Star', 'Karaoke', 'Best photographer', 'Everybody Dance' and 'Jokester'. So remember to bring your best jokes and take some good pictures along the way if you're not a singer or dancer. (Entering best photo costs a couple of bucks but you get to keep the print after people vote) There was about 20 photos entered and there were really lovely picture of the sounds, and other animals seen on various tours. The Celebrity Today brochure listed all activities for each day, these included movies, cards, basketball, paddle tennis, line dancing, darts, bingo, several trivia sessions, board games and enrichment seminars to name a few. While we didn't get really involved in any of the organized activities, we did enjoy sitting in the background, people watching and have a laugh. Food and Service We thought the service on board was excellent. Our waiter and assistant waiter were lovely and all other waiters and servers we met were great. We had the early seating for dinner, and had a small table for just the three of us. The menu was different every night and always included fours choices for Appetizers, two or three soups (usually one cold one) and two or three salads, four mains and about five dessert choices. Our waiter always brought around a tray with a selection of the desserts so you could see what each looked like before ordering. Often this meant we ordered dessert when we really hadn't planned to. The Baked Alaska parade on the second formal night was a bit of a laugh, and the dessert was ok, but it just didn't live up to the one that my mum cooks. The lobster was great as were the crepe suzettes. We had breakfasts either in the main dining room or in the buffet. The main dining room was always less crowded and it was nice just to relax and have someone bring us our meal. Up in the buffet there was a large choice, but not of the things we normally each for breakfast. There were three or four egg/omelette chefs around cooking eggs as you like them or omelettes with any choice of about 15 fillings. The croissants were also nice. Bar staff always had a Bloody Mary special for breakfast for $2 if you like that sort of thing. We had lunch again in either the main dining or the buffet. The main restaurant was closed for lunch on port days. The buffet food is ok, but we didn't really eat any of the pre prepared dishes as they weren't very hot. We had the freshly made pasta a few times where they cook up your ingredients in a pan then add pasta and either a cream or tomato based sauce. At least it was always hot and fresh. The sandwich bar at the aft of the buffet made lovely sandwiches or rolls if you just wanted something light. Afternoon tea was served at 4.00pm and it made us laugh seeing people queue up for more food as though they are starved and haven't eaten for days. Tea and coffee was available 24/7 as were a large variety of free water based drinks such as Punch, Pass-o-guava, American style lemonade, apple juice and iced tea. There were at least three different drinks of the day, each day. Alcoholic ones were $5 plus 15% gratuity and non-alcoholic ones were $4 plus 15% gratuity. There were two formal nights, which were quite fun. Pretty much everyone we saw was dressed up for the occasion, which was nice. We thoroughly enjoyed to food, particularly the fact that we didn't have to cook it, serve it up or clean it away. Disembarkation During your cruise you are required to fill in a disembarkation questionnaire. On it you detail what arrangements you have for disembarkation day, such as flight times, and whether you will be using ship transfers or making you own arrangements. We asked guest relations how much the ship transfers were to Auckland airport and couldn't believe they were charging about US$60 each. We decided to catch the Airbus http://www.airbus.co.nz/home/ which was a short walk from the pier (few hundred meters about 10 mins) which cost us NZ$15 each. As with most cruises, you need to have your bags packaged and outside you door by midnight the night before. Our disembarkation meeting time was 7.40 and we were led off the ship at about 7.50. Disembarkation was very smooth and quick and our bags were waiting for us in the correct color and numbered area. We were at the Airbus stop by 8.00am and at the airport before 9.00pm. Gratuities If you wish the line to charge the gratuities to your sea pass card, you must sign a request delivered to your room. On the request you list how many passengers you are paying for and you have the option at the bottom to add any additional tips to whomever you like. We chose to prepay as it meant we didn't have to get any USD. Other tips Make sure you bring you swimmers for Thalassotherapy pool in the Aquaspa. It's a large heated (about 34 degrees) pool with pressure jets under a glass roof. It was never crowded when we were there and it was really relaxing - it's also adults only and free. Pack a jumper if you plan on being outside viewing the NZ Fiords. Be prepared for the photographers. We had about five photos taken at each formal night, plus embarkation photos, portraiture photos, debarkation at port photos etc. At least they weren't very pushy about doing them, if you said not thanks they left you alone. Unfortunately the photos are very expensive. US$16.95 for embarkation/port photos and US$20 for formal night or portraiture photos. They did have package deals with were for 6 photos, cruise DVD, leather wallet and some stock photos for about US$110, but that was just too expensive for us. I also asked if you could purchase the digital file for a photo, which of course you could - for US$75 per file. I was hoping that they would discount the photos on the last day, but nope, buy them or they will just throw them out. They make a DVD of each cruise, so if you want a good souvenir make sure you participate in the activities so you appear in the video. Our ship was booked out, but it never felt full. The Cosmos lounge/nightclub on the top deck was a great place during the day with great views and not many people. On debarkation day, avoid the ocean cafe buffet. It was so busy up there that you couldn't get a seat. You're better off going to the main restaurant for breakfast. Conclusion We had a really wonderful, relaxing cruise; especially given we were traveling with our 7 month old - Who I have to say was the perfect child. He didn't squeal during dinner, he slept 10-11 hours each night; he played quietly while we did various activities and he looked very spiffy wearing his tuxedo bodysuit. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
BACKGROUND: (11/16-11/23) This is my 3rd Carnival cruise (#1 and #2 on on similar itinerary out of San Juan but on the Destiny). I also cruised on RCCL once (Majesty of the Seas). I traveled in a group of seven (family and friends) with me ... Read More
BACKGROUND: (11/16-11/23) This is my 3rd Carnival cruise (#1 and #2 on on similar itinerary out of San Juan but on the Destiny). I also cruised on RCCL once (Majesty of the Seas). I traveled in a group of seven (family and friends) with me being the youngest in my mid-30's others 40s-50s. EMBARKATION: As expected there were long lines, but that is always a given so was mentally prepared for it. SHIP: Similar to Destiny (4 years older than Victory) it was a tad bigger having an additional floor in the front, with the usual glitzy ornamentation with a "seas" theme. LOVED the big theater screen on deck. Watched three movies out there during the week. Sound system was great as well — made it seem like a real movie theater. Mini golf was fun too. CRUISE CROWD: In the past, I have always heard reviews of Carnival itineraries out of San Juan being filled at the last minute by the locals but I never experienced that on the other two San Juan cruises, until now. I would guestimate 55% of the passengers were Puerto Ricans and another 20% were comprised of an African-American church group, leaving 25% the usual diverse cruise crowd. Just seemed to me the two groups took ownership of the ship and English became the second language (good thing I remembered some Spanish from high school). I like to people watch so a more diverse crowd of people from all backgrounds and ethnicities would have made it more enjoyable. More importantly, it seemed like there were overly rude people on board, cutting in lines, pushing their way to the front of lines like there wouldn't be enough food for them, not following rules (i.e. woman with her baby sitting in the adults only hottub — I am sure the baby wasn't toilet trained. There were a lot of kids, which I don't have a problem with — many seemed good mannered actually. However, some were very loud, screaming and misbehaving, all while being in the company of their parents without being corrected which I do have a problem with. Teach some good manners! FOOD: deck food (grill, deli, and pizza) was as good as I remembered from other Carnival cruises. What makes it good is that it is fresh, cooked on the spot and not sitting around getting cold. Love the french fries and chicken fingers. Deli sandwiches are also made to order on a great hard roll, fresh and better for you, a nice alternative to a burger or hotdog everyday. Our group ate breakfast in the dining room everyday to escape the long lines and deck crowd; it was a more enjoyable experience. Breakfast foods pretty much the same in the dining room as what is available on deck. Dinner dining room (Pacific Upper) food was good as can be expected. Understand that it is hard to serve up hot fresh entrees for 1,200 people in the same seating without having them prepared well ahead of time and waiting for your waiter to pick-up and deliver to your table. Food taste was good, just if there was a way to make the foods that should be a hot temperature warmer instead of near luke warm and the cold foods, cooler than room temperature would be a great improvement. As always, desserts (from the simple sherberts/icecreams to melting chocolate cake and baked Alaska were very good. There was a late night Mexican fiesta buffet with a dessert table. Was this a scaled down version of the customary Grand Midnight Buffet? No ice sculpture. No need to bring a camera to photograph. PORTS OF CALL: St. Thomas — was there before so we just did some shopping at the stores right by the ship. Then my group took a cab to Megan's Bay to hang out at the beach. (Note: the taxi driver did not mention that you have to pay $4 pp to get into the beach area when you arrive). It was worth it though, a great beach experience. Dominica — been before. A very poor island, with little shopping except for buying trinkets from the locals. If you don't plan on an excursion, you should just stay on ship and enjoy being at the pool. We did the RIVER TUBING excursion which was a blast. I know from being in Dominica before that it is a very popular excursion so book early online before arriving on ship. Barbados — on our own, half of our group went to the beach (The Boatyard) the other 1/2 grabbed a taxi and went to the Mount Gay Rum factory for a tour. I am glad I was in the group on the indoor tour since it began raining and didn't stop the rest of the time in Barbados. We just happened to arrive at the factory at the right time when a tour was starting (paid $7 each). It was interesting and worth $7. Following the tour was a rum tasting, which we did, but was straight rum; rather have it mixed in something with an umbrella. St. Lucia — rained all day long; stayed on board. Antigua — St. Thomas-looking, no planned excursion. Took a taxi to a beach (forget name but was right at the Sandal's resort). Waves were high so we had fun being tossed about in the surf. Be prepared for the constant solicitations by the locals to rent a wave runner, sailboat, buy jewelry etc. St. Kitts — went ashore and did some shopping, no planned excursion. Very nice shopping area at the pier. ENTERTAINMENT: Cruise director, Malcom Burn, seemed pretty good and personable. His other staff as well were good. We pretty much kept to our own group and didn't participate in any of the onboard activities, but if you really looked for an activity to join, I am sure you could sure find it. Stage show entertainment (Carnival singers/dancers) was better than in the past. We left the main revue show (Varoom!) saying to each other: "wow... that was unexpectedly good." You can tell the singers/dancers work really hard to make a good performance and it really shows. Sure it isn't Broadway, but it could for sure compete in Vegas. Kudos to the performers! The first comedian pretty much cleared the theater by cutting everyone down, which that I didn't mind because I can certainly laugh at myself. I left because he just wasn't funny (Don Rickles he was not). The Rated R comedian was pretty funny if you enjoy adult humor. The magician was entertaining, have seen most of the tricks before though. Irish Sea piano bar piano player was great entertainment as well. RECAP / PRO's and CON's: PROs Seaside Theater; cabins (a lot of storage space and the balcony is a must. Three adults had plenty of room in our cabin); We had 3 balcony cabins together and opened the partitions between to create our own great open-air promenade; Complimentary amenities basket of toiletries in the cabin was nice; Drinks were good and not overly priced; room stewards (Novi assisted by Jeffery) were great, always said hi to each of us in our group by name! Got us anything we needed, and kept our rooms very clean; Room temperature good and plenty of hot water and pressure in the shower; Staff on a whole were all friendly and helpful; 24 hour ice-cream machines; Grill, deli, and pizza (FRIES!); dining room staff were superb; Mini golf; Stage show; Casino was large and people in our group actually won!; Debarkation was smooth and quick. We were not one of those rushing to get off first, but waiting until the end. I am not sure how the early departures were. CONs Embarkation process long; non-diverse passenger make-up and overly rude passengers (can't fault Carnival for that and how people act); deck food areas not as clean as they could be. Tables should be cleared faster and spilled food and buffet area should be cleaned up often too; No Grand Buffet with ice sculptures at midnight?; Deck lemonade / ice tea dispensers were often empty or out of concentrate (no fruit punch?) Dining room food temperature was often inadequate; we were not given late seating as requested 9 months ago; never saw the mater de — in the past he at least would come around and introduce himself to each table; continental room service, while on-time, seemed stale and toast was dried out and cold. Milk for cereal was room temp; Constant bothering of drink solicitations on deck from roving drink mafia. 30 seconds wouldn't go by without the same server stopping at you and directly asking if you would like something after you just said no a minute before. In closing, the cruise was still enjoyable, being able to get away from it all and relaxing in the nice weather with friends and family. It was pretty economical (you get what you pay for). The worst experience came from the other passengers. All other cons I actually consider minimal and overlookable since I am pretty easy going. I would still sail on Carnival again, but will not again from Puerto Rico. I will look to hit one of the newer ships in the future out of Miami. Probably the next cruise will be on Princess to give them a try. I hear the quality of food is a little better. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Independence of the Seas - November 19 - 23/08 Boarding - We had been pre-warned that boarding was going to start late because the US Coast Guard was going to be inspecting her as she was arriving in the US for the first time. ... Read More
Independence of the Seas - November 19 - 23/08 Boarding - We had been pre-warned that boarding was going to start late because the US Coast Guard was going to be inspecting her as she was arriving in the US for the first time. Boarding actually started about 2 PM. Once the line started moving it really didn't take long. We were entitled to use priority boarding therefore we were checked in and on-board within 10 minutes. However, they should have moved us along sooner from the reports I've seen from others. We are D+ and should have been sent to a different line. Even though it was 2 PM the cabins were not ready. We headed to the Windjammer for lunch shlepping our luggage with us. It was crowded but it didn't take us long to find a table. We had no problems for the most part, finding a table at lunch or breakfast throughout the cruise. After lunch we headed to our cabins. We were in balcony cabins on deck 6. The cabins were spotless with absolutely no sign of any wear at all. Although the bathroom is small the shower stall has an enclosure instead of the curtain which was so much better. No water all over the floor. There are flat screened TV's now, something we've never had before. The bed wasn't too bad. The new bedding is wonderful. Our balcony had 2 chairs (not very comfortable) and a small table. There was an issue with our friends' balcony. Their neighbor's were smokers of cigars. The cigar ash floated over to their balcony. The smell alone is bad enough but the deck had all this ash over it. She told the steward about it and asked him to vacuum the balcony at the time he was doing their stateroom. There is plenty of storage room. As we were only on a four day cruise we didn't really have a lot with us - we were using hand luggage only. From there we went exploring. One of the first things to impress me was the H2O zone. It was at least as big as the adult regular pool area. This made me realize just how much RCL is gearing to families. We walked down the deck to the adult pool area which is quite nice although exactly the same as all other ships. From there we went to the Solarium. I have to say, the cantilever's hot tubs were great. We used them several times during our short cruise and not once was there any crowd. Even though I knew it, I was disappointed there was not retracting roof over the solarium as there is on the Radiance class. We could have used it on this trip. We took a look into the SPA which is where the boxing ring is. We were never able to find out it how it was utilized however that was of no interest to me anyway. The exercise area is huge. We checked out the prices at the Spa and thought they were outrageous. We went to the back of the ship to check out the sporting area. The Flowrider was fun to watch. It was open pretty well the whole time we were onboard. The rock climbing wall was also open most of the time and very well utilized. We played a few games of mini putt. We went to Chops to make a reservation but they told us they were completely booked via the internet. They said the would put us on the waiting list. As we are D+ I did ask if we would get priority waitlisted and I received a blank stare. We walked across the floor to Portofino's and were able to make a reservation for that evening for 6PM. We went directly back to the stateroom as I wanted to call the concierge and ask about the priority waitlist. She was no help at all. So much for "helpful concierge". We did get called from Chops and did end up with a reservation for the second night however we really didn't get the help I had received on other cruises from the concierge. Back to Portofino's - the food was delicious and we completely enjoyed ourselves. We went to Chops on night two and again had a delicious meal which we completely enjoyed. The other two nights we ate in the main dining room. If it hadn't been for the excellent service of our waiter, his assistant and the head waiter we would not have gone back the fourth night. The food was blah to bad. We have noticed this on our last few cruises and there does not seem to be any improvement at all. Our waiter was excellent - he was run off his feet. We arrived on time at 6PM. He served us immediately. Nearly an hour later the other four arrived. This also happened on our last night so I have to assume they arrived late every night. I don't suppose it was too bad for the first two nights as we weren't there but for the last two it was very difficult on our wait staff as they had to do everything twice. The other three (not me) decided they wanted to try out the ice rink. They enjoyed it but the skates that are provided are certainly not very good. Nevertheless they did have a good time and I played photographer for them. We went to the last ice show on Saturday afternoon. It was absolutely fantastic. Not one error that I could see and with such a small ice surface that is a huge feat. We only attended one evening production show which was very well done. We wandered the Promenade several times. We stopped at Sorrento's for Pizza - not bad. They had the usual "stuff" for sale in the center isle as the week wore on. We did visit the Diamond lounge on three evenings. It is very nice but it was far too crowded, especially the first night. We found out later there were over 1,600 repeaters on board with at least 800 being platinum and over. I would guess then that the D/D+ were at least 400 of that. I also feel there were a lot of people in there on the first evening who were not suppose to be as on the subsequent evenings the concierge or one of her staff were outside the door checking everyone's status. I was not impressed with the concierge. I asked one thing of her and she wouldn't even try. The bartenders were extremely harried. The bar setup is extremely poor. It's like working at a kitchen counter at home. There should be a proper bar so the bartenders can be on the other side. It would make their lives a lot easier. We didn't notice as much smoke as usual on this cruise except when we headed to the ice rink. We had to go past the sports bar which had a very strong smell of cigarette smoke. We were on this cruise more for R&R and to look the ship over therefore we didn't do much more than I've already indicated. The biggest bother was disembarking. We decided to self-disembark as we only had hand luggage. Now there is a program that needs to be revamped. It was utterly chaotic. People were hauling off huge and multiple suitcases, struggling down narrow stairs pulling and pushing not only their huge suitcases but people around them. Then, once off, they stood around at the end of the gangway waiting for their friends and family. They were extremely rude to staff who told them they had to move on as they were now blocking everyone else. As a matter of fact far too many of these people were extremely rude. We took the elevator down to deck 2 not anticipating the crowd that would be there. There was an older couple on the elevator who was staying on deck two. They simply wanted to get to their cabin. There were people in the elevator area who were yelling ad screaming at them and wouldn't listen or let them through. As much as I enjoyed the ship and would recommend it to others, fellow passengers left a lot to be desired. What I have described above was only an example of the behavior throughout the cruise. We've never sailed with such cold rude people before. Yes, there are always some who are like that, but this time we found most if not all we ran into were like that. The Independence is a beautiful ship. One of the things we did find there was hardly if any, movement even though the weather was not particularly good and we had quite some winds, there was no swaying movement at all that we could discern. Although we prefer the smaller size of the Radiance class, we would highly recommend this ship to anyone with children. They definitely cater to families. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
This is my second cruise. My first was almost 20 years ago so I guess this is my first cruise (again). Our group of 8 consisted of the following: me (41), husband (46), 4 yr old daughter and 2.5 yr old son, sister (37), her husband (46) ... Read More
This is my second cruise. My first was almost 20 years ago so I guess this is my first cruise (again). Our group of 8 consisted of the following: me (41), husband (46), 4 yr old daughter and 2.5 yr old son, sister (37), her husband (46) and their daughters (4 yrs and 7 months). 4 adults and 4 kids. We flew to Ft Lauderdale the day before to rest and relax plus not miss our flt out and our ship. Recommend to all to fly in the day before and not stress over a missed departure. Hyatt Place was 3 star and good hotel and location with free shuttle to/from airport and port with nice free breakfast. Room was good. Price was only $75 on Hotwire so that was a good deal. Mall across the street/parking lot with a few good restaurants. Good size room and clean. Boarded the ship in 15 mins. We were lucky. Staff saw us with kids and strollers and showed us to a special area where all the wheel chair passengers were checking in. We provided ID and took our pictures and we were boarded quickly. This was about 1:30 pm. We knew not to go at 11am when everyone else was going. Didn't see the regular line ups but heard stories of long wait. Good thing we had kids to get into the special line. We bought the cheapest inside room. Main floor near the middle. Per my sister who have cruised 4x in the last 4 years with her daughter said the room and bathroom is bigger than Princess or Royal Caribbean. I was happy w/size of from, closet space and under bed drawers. Lots of hangers and plenty of space to put our stuff. We're neat people so everything went into a space and nothing was left around so it was good room and bathroom was good size too. Very happy with hand shower since we have kids. Great water pressure. I could fit in the shower with each child and give them a shower with plenty of space. No worries about water leaking out though the shower curtains were thin. Lots of counter space and under sink counter space. Taps leaked a little but I just put a face towel there daily. Cabin Stewart Anom. Great guy. We saw him several times a day and he was good with our kids. Got the animal towels nightly, chocolates, turn down service etc. He works hard and long hours. We weren't very messy but he always made our beds and brought us fresh towels even though we told he he didn't need too. Daughter slept on the pull out sofa which is really geared for a small person. She's 4 yrs old so it is perfect. 6'2" brother-in-law slept there one night and it was bad for him. bunk bed was nice but too dangerous for young kids and we kept bumping our head so we told Anom to not set it up after the second night. Me, husband and 2.5 yr old son slept in the king bed and we were fine. Really like the wake up call automated service. worked like a charm since we took naps daily and needed a wake up each afternoon. Public areas - so clean. always saw people cleaning and smiling and saying hi to us as we walked by. everyone so friendly. Kids used a lot of the public bathrooms (one potty trained, one in training) they were all cleaned and smelled cleaned. like the hand towels for drying instead of paper towels. Lido Pool - nice size, kids swam there one day. Only thing I didn't like was it stated 4'6 deep at shallow end but didn't say how deep was the deep end and I don't know how to swim so I never went more than a foot from the shallow end. Lots of towels and deck chairs. when the roof opened it was good. otherwise it is hot and humid. hot tub was good. couldn't get my 2.5 yr son out of it. Entertainment - saw 2 musicals and it was nice. didn't see the comedy guy. saw half the guitar show with Justin Miller. Nice too. hard to see shows with kids. didn't go to the night club or the bars, once again hard with little kids but that was OK. Photos - camera people were there all the time and took lots of pictures but we only bought one shot of my daughter on the beach. $20. didn't get suckered into buying more. Food - Lido buffet, usually crowded if you go at high times, otherwise calm if you know when to go. Food fairly good and lots of different stuff. I like buffet and can work the system fast. It is cafeteria style and service was usually slow and not enough workers serving but that was OK. It was good to get food for kids fast since sit down was slower. We ate ice cream 2x/day. Kids loved that. We did a few breakfasts and a few lunches. Husband, sister and brother-in-law didn't like the cafeteria style but I didn't mind. Hamburger at the Lido Pool area. Really good hamburgers and fries. Bad hot dogs. Service slow but hamburger worth it. Pizza - was OK. better if you got it hot and just made otherwise it was just OK. good for emergency food. Rembrandt - went there most times for lunch and dinner. Good food. Give it 8/10. Service kind of slow. I guess not that slow if you are only adults and drinking and talking but with 4 kids under 4, service seems slowed. Often ordered 2 appetizers since they were small and sometimes 2 mains. we finished all our food and never wasted. Brought our own bottles of wine. $15 corkage. They recork and bring back the next night if you don't finish. No extra corkage for the same bottle if you don't finish. children's menu is OK, we didn't often order from there since it was the usual pizza, hamburger etc. Our kids just ate what we ate. I had steak 4x. It was good. Dessert was fairly good. both husbands celebrated their birthdays on 11/21 and they brought 2 chocolate cakes with candle and sang Happy Birthday in indonesian. Always got different table and waiters but they were all nice. Asst Dining Rm Manager (Mila) was great with our kids. One thing my sister noticed, they were slow to refill water glass, sometimes we never got it refilled. Otherwise, service was kind of slow but they were so nice and the food made up for it. We never had a problem getting a table for 8 even w/o reservations. We usually ate dinner between 6 and 7pm. Tamarind Restaurant - no problem getting 2 lunch reservations. went once, husband got sick and threw up his lunch 6 hrs later. we're Asian so we know Dim Sum. food was just OK, not that great. we cancelled our second resv. even before husband vomited his lunch. service and room was good but food was below par. Caneletto - no problem with 2 dinner resv. food was just ok. I was disappointed. service was sooooooooo slow. we cnx our second resev. the best part was getting the pink candy floss with dessert. kids loved that but not worth it to go back. Lido buffet after dinner rush - nice to go back to get some dessert and sit for some quiet time, eat ice cream, drink some tea. not crowded. dinner food at least 9 or 9:30. Didn't use the casino, saw 1/2 cooking show, didn't do the video classes or spa or any of the other stuff. actually probably didn't even see the whole ship. difficult with little kids but we were happy with what we saw. formal night - really not that formal. some people dressed up more than others but nothing to stress over. very few tuxs. mostly from senior gentlemens. our husbands just wore dark suites and we wore our basic black cocktail short dresses which was dressy enough. I wouldn't stress out and go out and buy a new long dress for those nights. Other passengers - mostly seniors. only 15 kids on our ship which was good. Club Hal - it was OK. gave it 7/10. 2 staff members Christine and some guy from Manchester who wasn't all that friendly. they check age so if you try to sneak in your child under 3, they will know. you can stay if your child is under 3. only left our 2 four year old kids there an hour or so. they did many activities not in the club but other parts of the ship so if you weren't there when they left, too bad, you never knew when they came back. left sign on the door...back soon. When is soon? Give me a time. Sister said Princess has a better kid club. Grand Turk - nice beach, just spent a few hours there with the kids swimming. About a dozen stores by the dock/beach but we didn't go see them. Free lounge chairs. San Juan - el morro fort was nice. we paid $14 for a taxi for all 8 of us to go there directly instead of waiting for the free bus shuttle. worth to just get there. we walked back down the streets to go outlet mall shopping. Coach, Ralph Lauren, Marshals etc. Possible to walk from dock #4 to El Morro but just too hot to do it. Better to take taxi there and slowly walk back. We ate at Wendys. Kids were hungry, we needed fast chicken nuggets even though the service was so slow for a fast food joint. St. Thomas - avoid that downtown core of crazy stores and shoppers if you can. This was our first time. Next time we go to the beach. Taxi was like huge golf carts, open air taxi where they cram in people. $4 per adult. Our kids were free since they sat on our laps. Half Moon Cay - very nice. water so clean and clear. sand so cool on you feet. you have to book your cabana (covering with 2 beach chairs $14) on the ship. we didn't know and we wanted one since we had a baby with us and needed shade. we didn't get one so we walked further down and sat under a palm tree so that was OK. lunch at 11:30 am. don't go right then. tons of people. hamburger was good but everything was just ok. lots of seating area, tons of it. bathroom was clean but took me a long time to find it. it is the tallest building. look up to guide you. ship kind of rocky on "at sea" days. husband seasick. son vomited on the steps of the Main stage during a show - omelette was too greasy, my fault for giving him that for breakfast from the Lido buffet. Yes, vomit all over him and the steps. daughter diarrhea (sp?) one day, must have been the Wendy's chicken nugget in San Juan. otherwise we were all good and had fun. Tipping - we stayed with the $11/day/person even with kids. It was cheap considering all the meals we ate. We tipped Anom an extra $100 in cash, gave it to him in an envelop the night before departure. Disembarkment - bags outside by 1am. We left the next day after Lido buffet breakfast (no greasy eggs on flight day). Our time to leave was 8:30-8:45. got off the ship in 30 seconds (seriously). no trouble. went to the hanger for our luggage, found in 5 mins and we went through security and out the door for a taxi to the airport. Departure took all of 15 mins. Sister said it was the fastest ever. With Princess it took 90 mins to get off and get luggage. HAL was speedy. Taxi to airport was $15 for the 4 of us. Southwest curb check took long time (20 mins) and security inside was a long long long line but when we got close, they moved us to the handicap line since we had 2 strollers and we were done quick. It is nice sometimes to travel with kids. We avoided an even longer line. We must have save over 30 mins. Otherwise good trip. would we travel with HAL again? Probably not for awhile since I want to try the other ships. I've read all the previous reviews before travelling. My suggestion, take it all with a grain of salt. some people expect a lot. some reviews are good, some complain about everything. I used all the reviews to extract info I can use. IE read about the under bed drawers otherwise I would have never known. read about the free Tamarind dim sum lunch. Little tips make the trip easier. Didn't go to the ship store. they have this tee shirt "Dam Ship" sister said it was $5 on the last day. didn't know or I would have bought it. If anyone is going on the Eurodam and live in Chicago or Evanston, IL, wouldn't mind paying you if you saw that same tee shirt again for $5. If you have any questions about my comments or would like more info, don't hesitate to contact me at bbevanston@hotmail.com If you're going on the Eurodam, have a great time. Don't stress over the little things, just go, eat and have fun. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Embarkment was hectic however Valet was well worth it..and we had someone take our bags in. We dropped off the car and got on the ship within about 30 minutes. Camp Carnival - was great for my younger kids, however my 14 yr old high ... Read More
Embarkment was hectic however Valet was well worth it..and we had someone take our bags in. We dropped off the car and got on the ship within about 30 minutes. Camp Carnival - was great for my younger kids, however my 14 yr old high school student didn't like being put with middle schoolers. They gave us a phone for onboard for them to call us on for the 5 yr old, but we also gave it to the 14yr old to call our room to check in. It was handy and free. Ship - the ship was updated in the bathrooms, spa, gym and cabins, but the pools were a little worn and we didn't like that they didn't have a kiddy pool, so most little kids hung out in the hot tubs Food - was actually pretty good, and plentiful Cozumel - we did the Talum tour...which was amazing and well worth it, with a beach and pyramids and we were able to leave our little ones at Camp Carnival Grand Caymans - we did the 7mile beach tour, which they give you a ride to and from, beach chairs, and a free soda whoopie... but it was nice and warm Debarkment - we were # 17 and one of the last to depart, we left our room at 8am and ate, then we waited around and was one of the last people to get off the ship... it was pleasant. Then we got a valet for our bags...well worth the $10 tip and our car was waiting for us accross the street and on the 4th floor. Overall it was a nice cruise...however if I had to choose between this cruise and our Disney cruise...Disney's service, staff, and fun was much better The staff on carnival was hit or miss, some were nice others naughty and rude. Specifically the camp director for C0 2 camp was very rude and mean, and it was hard to lodge a complaint while on ship, they seemed to just listen to you but do nothing Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
We did the pre-Thanksgiving trip and had a great time. Service and food not as good as last time, but still acceptable. The cabin was large, as carnival usually is. The only strange thing was no amenities (complementary razors, ... Read More
We did the pre-Thanksgiving trip and had a great time. Service and food not as good as last time, but still acceptable. The cabin was large, as carnival usually is. The only strange thing was no amenities (complementary razors, toothpaste, etc.) until the second day and these were taken away before we debarked on the last day while we ate breakfast. We had to ask for a bar of soap, and it too disappeared while we were at breakfast so we had to use shower soap to wash our hands. Our cabin steward was strange with limited English, so I chalk it up to that. We had 4 cabins, and the upper bunks in 3 of them were fine for the kids. Camp Carnival in 3 age ranges were all good. They moved them around and locations were not publicized in the daily program. So if you lost your schedule, you could have some confusion dropping off the kids. Food and service are pretty good on Carnival, and this was no exception, but neither was as good as on our last trip. However , we had 6 adults and 5 kids 11 and under, which creates confusion. The wait staff were patient and kept the kids entertained, so we did okay. We preferred the dining room with the kids rather than the buffet because the lines were long and the little ones got antsy waiting for Mom to bring food. Then Mom and kids would be through eating before Dad got back with his food. Pizza is only served by a waiter, one slice at a time rather than helping yourself. He is surly - you should see the line! Entertainment is the usual, and fine. Little pre-dinner dancing for early seating guests, and after dinner it is mostly for the younger crowd which is who predominates among those seeking dancing later on. Karaoke was well run and quite fun for all and a large comfortable venue. There was plenty of opportunity to watch sports on several tvs on the sip. However, we would have liked a real sports bar type location. The ship docks away from downtown, but there are shops and restaurants, and easy cab service. Shore excursions are high. We booked our dolphin experience directly with Chankanaab park (on line) and save several hundred dollars on a very enjoyable day. It is a really nice park. We would do this cruise again next year for the same price. It is a reasonable option on a budget. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Princess Sapphire 11/15/08 Two months got the cruise bug again. This time we are taking two adult daughters and a friend. Booked a balcony guarantee for three and a mini guarantee for us. In short order we got cabin assignments; Baja ... Read More
Princess Sapphire 11/15/08 Two months got the cruise bug again. This time we are taking two adult daughters and a friend. Booked a balcony guarantee for three and a mini guarantee for us. In short order we got cabin assignments; Baja 743 for them (second cabin from the rear) and Dolphin 215 for us. Five days before the cruise, I learn the company I had used to obtain the booking has gone belly up. Triple check and our cruise has been paid for and is secure. The morning of embarkation, we woke up to a weird cloudy sky. Found out quickly that the hills of North Eastern Los Angeles were once again on fire. The strange thing is this exact same thing happened last year when we took the same cruise. In addition, another large fire broke out to the East. Got our junk together in record time and all five of us met down at the docks just before noon. We would have been on board in record time, except the wife recognized the person who checked us in as an old friend from 18 years ago. So after all the jabbering, we breezed through security and in our cabin by 12:30. The sky south of the ship was a bright blue, while everything to the North was a dark gray to black, from all the smoke. Went up for a snack at the Horizon Court. Rather strange to look out one side of the ship to a bright San Pedro, turn your head to see what appears to be the makings of a terrible storm. Went forward on Lido to the pool area to watch Ports-O-Call to go by at "sail away". People were swimming, dancing and really trying to have a good time. Unfortunately, the sky was raining ash from the fire 20 or so miles away. Ash from dust sized particles to large one inch chunks of burned vegetation fell on the entire county. While must just brushed their hair off or swiped a towel at a chair, some folks were having a problem just breathing. We were not having a great time so decided to fall back into the cabin and wait for the ship to push back. Just as we were entering the cabin an announcement came over the P/A from Captain William Kent. The brush fires were so bad, 50% of the freeways coming into Los Angeles from the North were closed this morning and were still closed. 300 or so passengers had not made it onto the ship; the Captain stated he had orders from Princess Corporate to delay departure from 4 PM to 7 PM. So much for the great "sail slower and save fuel" concept. Went to dinner at 6 PM at the anytime "Santa Fe" room. Another disconcerting experience, we were sat next to a window on the starboard side that was level with the second floor of the cruise center. Eating prime rib and glancing up every so often to see a longshoreman staring at our family eating. 7 PM came and went but the ship stayed put. Captain came on again stating he had been ordered to wait until 8 PM for the last 17 passengers. As it happens, we ran into a couple of the latecomers that night. They said they came into Los Angeles over the "grapevine" expecting to get to the cruise center in the usual 3 hours. Hit a wall of brake lights, waited a while and finally turned around and drove a couple of hundred miles to get around the problem. The 3 hour drive turned into an 8 hour endurance race. More about this later. A little after 8 PM we pushed back and eased into the channel. The Captain once again came onto the P/A to say everything is fine and we will get into Puerto Vallarta on time. This is the first time we have indulged in a mini-suite and it may have spoiled us. Dolphin 215, starboard side about 120 feet behind the bridge wing. For those who have not had the privilege; bathroom is about three feet longer so a bathtub could be wedged into the space. The tub is rather deep and installed even higher to accommodate the plumbing pipes between tub and deck. Only after getting in and out do I find the hand bar that was hidden behind the towels. I didn't think the extra 12 feet of "sitting room" would make that much difference. I was wrong. The sofa/coach is a welcome addition and the small table and second chair that have always been in the way in our balcony cabins, now have a logical place to be. Half the time we are in the cabin, one of us is on the sofa. Being on Dolphin, the balcony is about 9' by 10'. A table, two ridged chairs and two reclining chairs fill this area. A table and two full loungers would have been perfect. Plenty of storage room, about the same for the standard balcony. Only difference is the TV/refrigerator/sideboard looking thing. Shaped in a half circle on the wall opposite the desk, has two TV's on the top shelf (one for the bed and one for the sitting area), a large granite counter space, refrigerator and two large shelves. Need an electrical plug, no problem. Just inside the door, a double outlet near the floor, in the bathroom a single outlet for low amp devices only. A double outlet at the desk and behind each of the two TV's. Nine outlets, no problem, right. The outlets are so close together and the plugs and transformers for my devices are so large, I can only plug in one thing at a time at any of the locations. I guess that power strip I forgot back at home would have come in handy We meet out steward, Rico Lalap, who is pleasant enough. The room is set up as twins, so when we ask for the bed to be changed to a queen, with egg crate and robes. He states he'll change the setup within the hour and will try to supply the egg crate and robes today, but can't promise they will be available. We say anything would be appreciated and more than likely these will be the only requests for the week. By the third day, we have no other requests and Rico has a true smile when we pass in the hall. I set up the laptop at the desk and soon discover I can link up via Wi-Fi from the cabin. Don't know if the ship has been upgraded or it's because were so close to the bridge. I don't care, just happy for the convenience. When the ship was first put into commission, the plan was to have one large traditional dining room with an early and late seating. Four smaller rooms were to be used as P.C. (Personal Choice) dinning. For this ship 1/3 traditional and 2/3 P.C. Over the years the concept of P.C. changed to "Any Time" with any nuance that the ship itself instituted over the years. Anyway ON THIS cruise this is what's going on. The Savoy, Pacific Moon and Santa Fe are the anytime dining rooms. The International and the smaller Vivaldi are traditional seating. Bottom line, we have anytime dinning and have had to wait every night for a table no matter what time we arrive. Don't know if anytime is on the way out or if Princess just changes what dining rooms do depending on how many people want traditional. And now a word about dining room dress code. On the first night we saw someone turned away because he was wearing shorts that were mid calf. Ten minutes later a man with shorts and T-shirt was shown to a table. On the first formal night, a man was turned away from two rooms because he had no tie. The third room he was admitted without a problem. Whatever dress code there is depends on who is working the door. We sailed South at the normal fuel burning 21 knots and arrived at the scheduled time of 10:00 AM in PV. Other than a walk over to Wal-Mart, we just enjoyed the empty ship. After leaving Puerto Vallarta, my wife spoke with a woman who lives in the "valley" in Los Angeles, a 90 minute drive on a normal weekend. Due to the fires closing freeways, they got to the pier at 8:45, long after the ship had cleared the break water. They flew down to P.V. to meet the ship. In Mazatlan, we found the old cruise center had some new paint and another room had been added. But the passengers getting off the tram still have to deal with a gauntlet of time share salesmen, vendors and 20 or so men trying to get you into their limo, R.V., taxi or golf cart. Since the cruise center only allows certain sales people in, they must have to pay for the privilege. In other words, the cruise passenger is subjected to the pushiest salespeople I have ever seen with the approval of the cruise center. New paint on the cruise center, calling the clean part of town "Golden Zone" and calling every day hotels "resorts", Mazatlan is still a small industrial city that needs to clean up more than just the streets. Anyway, the five of us went to Stone Island using King David. Several hours of quite time near the beach with some simple food and a plate of boiled shrimp. Yes there were a few vendors selling the usual stuff. A simple no and they move on. A return trip to Stone Island in the future is not out of the question. In Cabo, we again opted to stay on the ship. This is the abbreviated stop so anything one plans can only last a few hours. After 1:30, the last passengers returned from shore but we didn't leave. There was a mechanical failure in the life boat's wenching system that was never actually repaired. It took hours to recover the tender/life boat and the ship did not pull anchor until long after sunset. Princess had again scheduled the Sapphire to sail slower to conserve fuel and return to Los Angeles at 8:00 AM, two hours later than the usual 6:00 AM. Again the Captain had to drop the hammer and head North at full speed. We were told we would dock at 11:00 AM, but due to the lack of head winds we shaved an hour off the time. Our disembarkation group was to meet in the Casino, rather surprised that there were less than 30 people there. As we waited for our group to be called for disembarkation, we watched Christmas decorations being put up about the ship. We were off and on the way home by 12:20 PM The ship itself was in excellent condition. Bright paint, only sign of wear I found were the hand rails inside the elevators. Even the carpets looked new. I know the ship is more than a few years old, so I did look for anything negative I could find. Two burned out light bulbs, that's it. Overall the food quality was good, only excellent quality we experienced was the one night we tried Sterling. Horizon Court food was sometimes cold and on the greasy side. Items on the standard room service menu tended to be dry. Service in the dining room was excellent as usual The CD and staff were bright and cheery but seemed plastic at times. Happened by a "repeat" show one night and saw the assistant CD do the exact four minute intro word for word. A number of different stage productions were presented during the week, I don't think there was a repeat performance of any one show. There were a few "comedians" who did 30 minute shows who only had a good 10 minutes of material. Quite a few pax were observed to leave the theatre in the darkness. Dan Bennett performed three shows one night but was sandwiched in between the Newly Wed Show and movies; he had to cut his act short due to time constraints. Too bad, his act was the best available for the entire week. I can only assume Princess has cut back on the budget for entertainment and depends more on stage shows, movies and shows costing nothing sine the talent is provided by the passengers for talent such as Princess Idol. Hopefully Princess is paying attention. We have cruised with this line repeatedly because of the attention to detail and quality of product provided in the past. In my opinion, it appears they have started to cut corners as far as food and performers brought on board. As mentioned, they attempted to save money by reducing ship speed. It makes one wonder where else the bean counters have forced cuts. All five of us had a great time. My 20 something who had turned her nose up at the thought of a cruise quickly planned her day around trivia and bingo. Like her father, she looked for somewhere to hide so she wouldn't have to get off the ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Embarkation was smooth and didn't take to long. We did have one problem, the person checking us in was in training and did not activate our credit card, no biggie but just another chink in the Liberty's armor. Now we had ... Read More
Embarkation was smooth and didn't take to long. We did have one problem, the person checking us in was in training and did not activate our credit card, no biggie but just another chink in the Liberty's armor. Now we had a good time overall but everything (except the kids programs) was below what we have come to expect from a Carnival cruise. Never say the room steward to request needs and missed putting things in our stateroom several days, like the carnival capers. Were seated at a booth with a chair at the end to make a table for 5. This left us cramped. In order to get to a table that actually sat 5 people we had to make the shift to late seating. This was an inconvenience since we requested early seating especially with 2 young children. The service was so bad at the early seating it helped make the decision to swap to the later times. After the swap the service was much better, not the best but much better. Food was mediocre, nothing special, food was ok. Almost of an Applebees / Ruby Tuesday's quality. Was expecting much more but the chef's here have a lot of room to go to get to the level of the Miracle or Glory from previous sailings. The dessert menu has been chopped in half, but you can get warm chocolate melting cake every night (and I did because nothing else was really appealing). Would someone please teach Carnival how to make a decent cheesecake (NY style please). Rooms were nice and typical carnival. The beds were not so good though. It is true that Carnival has great sheets and a wonderful comforter, but if the mattress is worn and has indents from the rest of the 5000 people who have slept there then no sheet or comforter will improve the nights sleep. Shows- absolute worst I have ever seen on any Carnival ship ever. I attribute this to the overall scripts and choreography not the dancers or singers. These shows need to be replaced with better ones. Way to much dancing with no purpose. Cruise Director- Steve- unless it was a show never saw him around the ship. His staff was constantly yawning at the trivia games like they were bored and were doing this because they had to. A little excitement would have been nice, I felt like a burden to their time off and not a valued customer. The ship is beautiful, well kept and very clean. I loved this ship, it wasn't over the top like the Miracles dining room or some of Joe Farcas' designs. Camp Carnival was wonderful, my kids had a great time. Since this was their first time fully using Camp Carnival I have nothing to compare it to. They always came away with smiles and lots of fun stories and art creations. Was going to try Harry's supper club but decided that $30/pp was not worth it. In summary we are long time Carnival Cruisers, and really enjoy them however this ship was not up to the standards we have come to expect from this Cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
I am 35 and took this cruise with some family members (12 of us in all). We live in LA and drove to San Diego the night before the cruise and stayed at the US Grant - lovely hotel! We arrived for embarkation at around 12:30. The staff at ... Read More
I am 35 and took this cruise with some family members (12 of us in all). We live in LA and drove to San Diego the night before the cruise and stayed at the US Grant - lovely hotel! We arrived for embarkation at around 12:30. The staff at check in were incredibly rude and abrupt and acted like they were being tortured by working there. Between the 12 of us we checked in with 4 separate people and we all had the same experience - not a very good welcome to your cruise! It was about 1:15 by the time we were on board and we were completely aggravated and frustrated by the way we were treated. The ship is nice but nothing special - I am used to Princess and the atrium, etc. When we walked on board it was anti-climactic. The 3-story atrium is ho-hum and small with low ceilings. I felt that the ship is very chopped up - lots of small spaces everywhere - it didn't seem open and free-flowing. We had an inside cabin which was by far the most spacious of any inside cabin I've ever seen - and lots of room for 3 people to unpack and put away all out stuff. The highlights of the cruise were: 1. The cabin size and layout 2. The food - the food in the Lido was the best buffet food I've ever had on a cruise ship (although 4 out of 7 mornings I could not find a table and had to take my food back to my room). Dining room food was excellent as well. 3. The staff in the dining room. We had fixed late seating and Ario, our server, and RJ, our wine steward made every dinner special. They had all 12 of our names memorized by night #2. Incredible service! 4. Joel Mason, the Elton John impersonator - great entertainer and very funny! 5. Thermal Suite. If it wasn't for my buying this package I would have lost my mind due to boredom on the ship (all 3 sea days were cold). I highly recommend purchasing this package - it was AMAZING and so nice to be able to go there twice or more each day and chill. Other than that we were less than impressed. For us the biggest problem was lack of activities. HAL schedules their shows to be seen before dinner instead of after. I have never experienced this before on a ship. I choose late seating because I don't want to have to get cleaned up and ready to go by 7 PM - its too early for me. Every night we would finish dinner at around 9:30 and we would go from bar to bar, show room to show room, looking for something to do. There was rarely anything going on. 2 nights they did have karaoke which was fun. Other than that you had to hang out and occupy yourself until 11 PM when the Northern Lights Dance club opens. By then you'd be out of the party mood. And the times we did finally make it to Northern Lights we were the only ones in there dancing (other than the second to last night, when it was busy). Several nights I was in bed, lights out before 11 PM because there was nothing to do (a first for me on a cruise!) Overall service on board was so-so other than our dining room staff. I had an 80 minute massage that was good but not great. However, the staff in the Spa was very friendly and warm every single day. PORTS: This is my 4th time doing the Mexican Riviera so I went for the ship, not the ports so much. In Cabo we took a water taxi to Medano Beach - very relaxing and easy!! In Mazatlan we went into town and shopped and hung out at the beach in front of the hotel Flora. Mazatlan is just so-so and every time I go I wonder why I got off the ship. In Puerto Vallarta we went to Las Caletas for the 3rd time and it never disappoints - one of my favorite places on earth! I HIGHLY recommend this excursion! In my opinion if you're under 55 and you like to have any kind of fun after dinner, HAL is not for you. If you're looking to vegetate and hang out in a nice stateroom and eat great food then HAL is for you. One last comment - they allow smoking in many of their bars, and a couple of their main bars are right off the casino and smoke is wafting in rather strongly. NOT GOOD. I had asthma problems more than once. Smoking should not be allowed anywhere other than the casino. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click