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Sail Date: January 2008
We flew into Tampa from Pennsylvania. Had a fog delay and missed our connection in Detroit. This was a nightmare we have traveled on the day of the cruise before with no problems but not this time. We called the emergency travel delay ... Read More
We flew into Tampa from Pennsylvania. Had a fog delay and missed our connection in Detroit. This was a nightmare we have traveled on the day of the cruise before with no problems but not this time. We called the emergency travel delay number from Carnival and they were great as we didn't get to Tampa until 2:45pm and were the last guests on the ship. Missed the muster drill because of this but that wasn't such a bad thing. We had an inside cabin but we got an upgrade to a 4-F with an obstructed view of the life boats. We had a balcony door but no balcony. The cabin was big enough for the 4 of us, but it could have used more hangers in the closet, next time I will bring my own. Also the hair dryer is in a drawer and it is attached to the drawer so it was hard to use. I will also bring my own the next time. My husband wanted to use the gym but it seemed crowded most of the time and not much free weight equipment either. Our dining waiters were Ryan and Venera they were great very nice to our kids. Our stateroom person was Omar he was nice but didn't see alot of him. But my 18yr old liked to sleep late. They club 02 was ok but my 16yr old said the club on the Inspriation was better. The ship itself was nice and clean and very easy to get around. The entertainment was ok boring at most. Jen the cruise director was okay alittle annoying at times, but I have been on ships where the cruise director was great. We never had a problem getting a chair by the pool it was better in the adults only section but when its hot the pool deck gets really hot and also the stairs into the pool we hot. Getting off the ship was not bad we were one of last numbers to be called and we had breakfast and went back to our stateroom and stayed there until the stateroom attended asked us to leave. One thing we learned is that we will travel the day before as I said before we had a travel delay and it was very stressful as we were not sure that we were even going to make the cruise. Lesson learned. We didn't do any tours from the ship as they can be costly especially for 4 people. We are looking forward to our cruise on the new Carnival Dream in November. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
We are 3 in our family traveling on our first cruise from the UK, tired and a little bit jet lagged from our flights on the Saturday as we drove to the pier 4 our first site of Carnival Victory is seared into my memory I was overwhelmed ... Read More
We are 3 in our family traveling on our first cruise from the UK, tired and a little bit jet lagged from our flights on the Saturday as we drove to the pier 4 our first site of Carnival Victory is seared into my memory I was overwhelmed at the size of her and felt a lump in my throat as my little boy looked at me and said " wow Mum its beautiful" and I thought yes she is! embarkation was swift and we were on the ship within 25 mins and straight up to deck 9 the Lido rum punch in hand ( and no its not free) but who cares you are on your holidays. Our little boy was straight in the pool and so was I it was hot and the water all though a little on the green side was cool (they don't fill the main pool until the next day ) our first night was casual but we still made an effort when we got to our suite it was lovely lots of room separate dressing area our whirlpool bath did not work but we didn't even bother to say anything I was just in heaven. After dinner and muster drill which was very hot and after telling my son for the 15th time that we were not going to get a go in the life boats as part of the drill we set sail and it was very smooth you could not really feel it as we pulled out of San Juan and into the dark night everyone was dancing and having fun on the lido deck there was American football playing on the wide screen. Then the American effect began as we came to name it, people talk to you yes they do !! and you start talking back first it was our accent that drew them but by the end of the cruise we had met so many different people from all walks of life as well as one other British couple with a little boy our son's age, but it would not had mattered if we had not as we felt so comfortable every where we went, The crew can't do enough for you nothing is to much trouble. The Pacific dining room was a rush to get to every night after excursions so next time i would rather do an 8pm dinner instead of 6pm but it probably suited our son as he was always ready to eat after so much fun filled sun filled days!! we were tired because we tried to do so much, would we cruise again like a shot waking up early and coming out onto our balcony we saw dolphins and flying fish along side the ship one morning how can you beat that. I loved the glamour of formal nights we spent $300 on photos (my other half won on roulette so he was happy and our son was just happy and kept telling me he did not want to leave), but what great memories and nearly every one we saw had dressed up I am so glad we brought along the best of British black tie I got compliments on my dresses!! My other half looked handsome in his DJ my son looked lovely in his suit and it was just so romantic I loved it. My only small moan and it is small is that a lot of the bar staff do not not have very good English so making them understand your drinks was a bit of a pain but apart from that well done Carnival Victory !! and to all the Americans who made us feel so welcome thank you can't wait to do it again. PS the beds on this ship are fantastic my creaking back was in bliss !! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
My wife and I cruised with the Norwegian Spirit out of New Orleans in January. Boarding was well handled, very organized and relatively painless. The Spirit itself was clean, well appointed and very pleasantly decorated. We had only ... Read More
My wife and I cruised with the Norwegian Spirit out of New Orleans in January. Boarding was well handled, very organized and relatively painless. The Spirit itself was clean, well appointed and very pleasantly decorated. We had only cruised once before on an ancient Royal Carribbean Ship called the Nordic Prince (some may remember the old tub) and the experience was awful. That ship was small, old and we were chased up the west coast of Mexico by a hurricane (not RCC's fault) but the experience was so bad we swore off cruising for over 20 years until we decided to take one more chance on Norwegian Cruise Lines. What particularly appealed to us, and what we really liked the most, was the open dining program. To be honest, the food on the Spirit was acceptable but not outstanding. We did experience some very nice meals in the main dining room but the buffet was fairly mundane... not bad... but not great. The staff was exceptional. We were always treated very politely and it seemed the crew went out of it's way to make the experience pleasant. I really loved the ship. It was very roomy and I enjoyed walking the decks and taking in the views... the waters of the Western Caribbean are incredible. We booked an outside cabin and wished later we had booked a balcony or small suite. It would have made the experience even more pleasant. The room was comfortable and the bathroom was very well equipped. This was such a superior experience to the Nordic Prince that we have decided we will go on a few more cruises just to expand our experience. Even though the experience we had on the Spirit wasn't fantastic, it was very enjoyable and pleasant... although next time we will skip a shore excursion or two... we booked an excursion on every port day on this trip and by the time we got back to New Orleans we were pretty tired. Considering everything, we would do the Spirit again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
This was my second cruise, and by far the more exotic. The main focus for us was the incredible itinerary, so it was surprising how noisy and drunk the passengers seemed to be. A large number rarely got off the boat, which amazed me, but ... Read More
This was my second cruise, and by far the more exotic. The main focus for us was the incredible itinerary, so it was surprising how noisy and drunk the passengers seemed to be. A large number rarely got off the boat, which amazed me, but we found that many of the passengers had taken the exact (or similar) cruise several times before. The ship seemed a little gaudy with expanses of emerald green glass and half-naked mermaids everywhere. The art was what my mother would call "questionable," although honestly, it was not an entirely unattractive ship. It was also very clean and orderly. The food was mostly delicious. I especially enjoyed the chilled soups and the desserts. Service in the dining room was fantastic, and it was obvious they made an effort to make sure we had a good time. The buffet restaurants on Carnival ships apparently aren't as good, but this one was serviceable, and there was something of a hidden, uncrowded area with a great view where passengers could get hot dogs or hamburgers. The cabin stewards were also friendly and helpful. We also had a minor maintenance issue, and it was resolved immediately. The room (on deck 6) was a little noisy as we could hear revelers until fairly late. Possibly they were people drinking one deck below as a lot of the bars are on deck 5. We didn't see anyone so drunk they needed to be brought onboard in a wheelchair (which happened on the Elation in 2005), but the cruise director's attitude was that there's no time for sleeping on this cruise, just party, party, party. After spending a full day in each port, we didn't have much energy left for partying, but that was fine. We enjoyed almost all of our Carnival-sponsored shore excursions, and found friendly people throughout the Caribbean. My mom said she would love to do this exact cruise again. I'm more interested in seeing places I've never been to before, so I'm tempted to lobby Carnival to send the Victory on cruises with totally different ports. Instead of hitting St. Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, and St. Kitts, it could call at Tortola, Martinique, Grenada, St. Vincent, Guadeloupe, and St. Maarten. That would be another fantastic cruise if a highly unlikely one. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
Went as part of a group of six cruisers, including two travel agents and two people with disabilities on a relaxing trip to the Bahamas. I have balance problems due to nerve damage and my cabin mate was a woman with Primary Lateral ... Read More
Went as part of a group of six cruisers, including two travel agents and two people with disabilities on a relaxing trip to the Bahamas. I have balance problems due to nerve damage and my cabin mate was a woman with Primary Lateral Sclerosis, a cousin to Lou Gherig's Disease. Started in Miami with, of course, check-in and ran into the only serious problems with the trip. Port security confiscated a pair of scissors from my mother's carry-on bag. My cabin mate does not have a passport, so she brought her birth certificate and driver's license. My cabin mate is divorced but still uses her married name, which differs from the name on her birth certificate. At check-in, the agent did not want to let her aboard because of the name discrepancy but after the agent spoke to her supervisor, she was allowed to board. My cabin mate uses a walker or a wheelchair and had some difficulties with many doorways which had an obstruction across the floor. Boarding and deboarding in Miami she used the wheelchair, but while aboard and in port she used the walker. Decks five and six combine into one deck approximately midships and she would either have to climb some stairs while someone would bring her walker up or down the stairs, or she'd have to take an elevator to another deck, walk halfway down the ship and take a second elevator back down. Third day was at Cocoa Cay, an island owned by RCL. Swimming was great and food was decent. Get to come in by tender and roast in the sun for a relaxing day. Cabins on the ship were SMALL. Be warned. The Majesty is one of the smaller ships so you can feel more ship motion even in calm seas. It's not much, but able to be felt. Shower stall is about the size of a phone booth. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
Holland America delivers a unique brand of cruising that should not be compared with the other main lines. Well worth doing again. You have to hand it to the Dutch. We flew down the day before our Sunday January 2nd departure from ... Read More
Holland America delivers a unique brand of cruising that should not be compared with the other main lines. Well worth doing again. You have to hand it to the Dutch. We flew down the day before our Sunday January 2nd departure from Port Everglades. Embarkation was quick and we really appreciated how Lido Buffet was open and serving for those whose rooms were unavailable. This was much better than our last cruise (Celebrity Millenium) where we had to hang out in a big room with no food. This is the HAL Philosophy. A simple usage of resources (food) that makes your customers very happy. We had a huge room (Superior Suite) with access to the Neptune Lounge. On our last cruise we had the basic balcony and decided we'd need more space with our young daughter along for the sail. Great decision! (Playpen fits in the bathroom setup) The last cruise we took we were unable to use the balcony when the ship was at sea, due to a crazy wind tunnel effect which made it hard to enjoy. The balcony on Westerdam was very pleasant and completely usable while the boat was at full speed. I don't want to blame Millennium's wind tunnel issue as a design flaw due to the fact that our past cruise was mid November versus the early January Westerdam date. Might have had something to do with prevailing winds. We loved the Lido Buffet. It was one floor above our room which was convenient for feedings etc. The ice cream bar served just a few flavours but their quality was par with Baskin Robins. Pinnacle was well worth the additional charge, though i thought the steak was just as good in Manhattan. Manhattan restaurant was 75% great (3 out of 4 meals were fantastic). The snow crab night was a show stopper. Dessert on HAL was excellent. Their Chocolate/Dessert buffet was very good, though I would have preferred they housed it in the Manhattan dining room instead of the pool area. The HAL philosophy is laid back and meant for people who want to relax. Ideal approach to cruising as far as I'm concerned. The Library was a great place to chill out and read a book with fantastic treats to nibble on. Turks and Caicos has not too much to do, though the conch fritters at that dockside restaurant were stellar. St. Maarten had great shopping, but no conch fritters. Half moon Kay is the gold standard of company islands. Everyone had fun and what a fantastic way to end the cruise. No complaints but book your cabana early (which we did for our upcoming cruise). Conclusion, HAL does tradition well and if you want a relaxing well thought out cruise then you should give them a try. Three years later we are now booked on the Nieuw Amsterdam and are bringing our whole extended family with us. I'll post a review when I get back. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
I traveled with my 3 children on this cruise. My children were 15,13 and 11. This was our first time on RC we had sailed Carnival twice before. The trip was very pleasant. The ship was in excellent shape and very clean. The workers we ... Read More
I traveled with my 3 children on this cruise. My children were 15,13 and 11. This was our first time on RC we had sailed Carnival twice before. The trip was very pleasant. The ship was in excellent shape and very clean. The workers we constantly cleaning. In fact while we were cruising they were installing new carpet in the foyers. The pool area was wonderful. It was not crowded at all. They were not a lot of children on this cruise so it was generally fairly quiet. The cabins were really small for a family of four, but sufficient. They had two lower beds with bunks up above, a comfortable sitting chair and a desk with a chair. By the time we got all of the luggage in the room there was no room to spare. The food was good but I prefer the food on Carnival much better. On Carnival we had nice jumbo shrimp and great cheese sampler plates, lobster and great desserts. On RC the food portions were smaller and the food was good but not great. I guess what I am trying to say was when we left the Carnival dinner table everyone in our group was raving about the food and the kids couldn't wait to go back to try something new and adventurous, with RC my two younger two had a difficult time with the menu and one ate steak every night and the other ate pasta. Although they enjoyed what they ate there was no "WOW" factor. The ports of call were Cozumel and Costa Maya. We really enjoyed Cozumel. We booked a private tour and went to Nachi Cocum Beach. In Costa Maya we took the Chichen Itza shore excursion and had a wonderful time. The night shows on the cruse were really good. I must say RC out did Carnival in this aspect. RC had a more family, low keyed atmosphere which was perfect for my kids. There is not a lot of amenities on this ship for teens and older kids. My kids mostly swan and played ping pong. They definitely met more children to play with on Carnival and enjoyed the Carnival kids club. All and all I would sail RC again. I must say between Carnival and RC, I enjoyed different things about each cruise and would consider them very comparable, although RC was considerably more expensive. We are sailing with MSC this year because kids sail free. We are trying a 10 days cruise this time. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
VOYAGER OF THE SEAS February 1-8, 2009 EMBARKATION: The check-in process was smooth and speedy. We arrived at the terminal about noon and were aboard the ship within 30 minutes. CABIN: Our ocean view stateroom on deck 2 had ... Read More
VOYAGER OF THE SEAS February 1-8, 2009 EMBARKATION: The check-in process was smooth and speedy. We arrived at the terminal about noon and were aboard the ship within 30 minutes. CABIN: Our ocean view stateroom on deck 2 had plenty of room and storage for 2 adults and 1 child. The bedding and mattresses were clean and comfortable. Something we didn't expect, and didn't appreciate, is that on several decks you can't walk all the way from the bow to the stern of the ship. Although our cabin was mid-ship, we had to go up to deck 5 to get to either end. CABIN ATTENDANT: The only way to describe our cabin steward was "amusingly absent." He never introduced himself to us, we never once saw him in the hall, and he completely ignored every message we left for him. The first couple of days we clipped a few dollars to notes asking for extra pillows and more hangers. Whenever we returned to the room, the notes and tips were gone...but nothing we requested was done. Finally we asked another crew member about our cabin attendant, and his simple response was "Oh, he's not here." Amazingly the room was spotless everyday, we always had fresh linens, and towel animals magically appeared on our bed every night. After awhile we gave up and invented a game about our missing cabin attendant. Everyday we left notes requesting sillier things, just to see if we'd get a response. Once we asked for every white light bulb in the room to be replaced with a blue bulb. Luckily that note was ignored just like all the others! MAIN DINING ROOM: SERVICE: We chose traditional dining and late seating at a table for 10. Everyone at the table was a member of our family, so I can't comment on any of the dinner conversations! Our waiter Ramon and assistant waiter Alex provided some of the best service we've had on more than 20 Royal Caribbean cruises; and we remembered the head waiter, Melvin, from a Nordic Empress cruise years ago when he was our assistant waiter. FOOD: After reading several reviews about limited choices of mediocre entrees, we were pleasantly surprised by the menu. Our waiter cheerfully accommodated our request for shrimp cocktail every night, and often brought 2 or 3 servings for everyone at the table. The chilled soups were as delicious as I remembered; and while we preferred some entrees over others, every dinner was better than we had anticipated. When lobster was served on the second formal night, Ramon added 1 or 2 lobster tails to every plate...even though some of us ordered beef or pasta. Black Angus sirloin steak, with a choice of sauces, was on the menu every night at no additional charge. And thanks to recommendations from other CruiseCritic.com members, we're now addicted to sugar-free coconut cake. Adventure Ocean was not open the first night of the cruise, so we brought our four grandsons (ages 6-10) to the dining room for dinner. They behaved as well as could be expected at the end of a long day, and Ramon and Alex were very patient with them. For the remainder of the cruise, the boys chose to grab something from the Windjammer before they hurried off to the evening activities at the kids' club, and never tried the dining room again. But every evening just as we were finishing dessert, Ramon delivered four more plates to our table... late-night snacks for the kids! Sometimes it was peanut butter & jelly sandwiches with fruit, other times it was cookies & ice cream, but always something kid-friendly and always something they enjoyed back in the cabin. To thank our wait staff for their special surprises, on the last night the kids drew pictures and tucked them into handmade envelopes along with extra tips. CASUAL DINING: WINDJAMMER: Unfortunately food and service at the Windjammer met the low standards other CruiseCritic.com members had predicted. The food was ordinary at best, and sometimes just plain unappetizing. Worse than that, the area was nearly always congested; and when we finally found a place to sit, we watched waiters walk past tables covered in dirty dishes without so much as a glance. CAFE PROMENADE: The selection of pizza, sandwiches and pastries was adequate; but again, the area was crowded and had the atmosphere of an airport food court. JOHNNY ROCKET'S: I just don't understand what makes this restaurant special enough to warrant a $5 cover charge from every person who walks through the door...and then they have the nerve to charge for beverages on top of that. But since we had kids with us—and diamond coupons in our pockets—we went there for lunch one day anyway. It was probably a mistake to arrive with a group of 6 at 12:15 on a sea day, because we were penalized with a 45-minute wait in the ear-splitting video arcade. Needless to say, Johnny Rocket's doesn't accept reservations. And with dozens of people waiting outside for tables, every few minutes all of the waiters abruptly stopped serving, lined up in the aisle and danced to a '50's rock tune. During the hour we were there, we saw the exact same dance routine performed four times. But I must admit the cheeseburgers, fries and overpriced Diet Cokes far surpassed anything we tasted in the Windjammer. LATE-NIGHT BUFFETS: The poolside Caribbean buffet and the decadent chocolate buffet have gone the way of the Gala Midnight Buffet, probably never to be seen again. Savory bites in the lounges have met the same fate. I applaud the decision to stop wasting huge displays of beautifully carved, but uneaten, food....but darn it, I miss those little chocolates on the pillows! Meet & Mingle: The party was held in the High Notes Lounge on the 14th deck at 11:00 on the first sea day. It was well-attended, and everyone enjoyed getting to know one another. CROWN & ANCHOR AMENITIES: CONCIERGE LOUNGES: Suite guests, diamond & diamond-plus passengers all had access to both the concierge lounge on deck 9 and a section of the Viking Crown Lounge on deck 14 every evening. Concierge Martin was available anytime we needed him, and he gladly provided ice show tickets and VIP tender tickets and luggage tags. Every evening before dinner, our group gathered in the 14th deck lounge where Jose greeted us with very generous drinks. C&A BOOKLETS & GIFTS: Two adult and one youth diamond coupon booklets and two concierge club cards were in our cabin when we boarded. The adults' booklets contained coupons for one free photo, Johnny's Rockets cover charge, one free cocktail, 10 minutes free internet service, free slot pulls and match plays in the casino, and discounts off several shipboard services. Interestingly most of the coupons in the youth booklet were for Del Sol and other stores in the ports. We were also able to use diamond coupons from previous cruises without any questions. Throughout the cruise we received several C&A gifts...a fruit basket, chocolate-covered strawberries, postcards, and for some unknown reason, six baseball caps (all delivered at the same time)! Other members of our group received dark blue canvas messenger bags or yellow zip-up beach mats. There didn't seem to be any rationale for who got which gift, since we're all diamond. PLATINUM/DIAMOND/DIAMOND+ LUNCH: On Saturday we were invited to an upscale lunch in the dining room where we were seated at a large table with other diamond & diamond-plus passengers. Platinum members may have been invited, too, but I'm not sure. It was a quiet, relaxing meal with a choice of entrees and wine. We enjoyed a conversation with three other Texas couples, who all agreed RCI should keep a ship in Galveston year-round. OTHER PASSENGERS: The overall atmosphere on the ship was upbeat and positive, and we witnessed few violations of rules and heard very few complaints from other passengers. Generally it was a good-natured and well-behaved group. The vast majority of passengers were from the Midwest or Southern U.S.; but there was also a significant number of Canadians aboard, along with a smattering of Europeans and South Americans. While the average age was 50+, we saw quite a few 20-somethings at the pool. And even though there were only about 100 kids and teens on the ship, the youth programs were fully staffed and the counselors spoiled our grandsons with extra attention. CRUISE DIRECTOR & ACTIVITIES: Eric from Georgia really "gets his Texas on" when the Voyager sails from Galveston. I think a few Southern phrases even slipped into the Assistant Cruise Director's British vocabulary before the week was over. Eric really seems to enjoy this cruise and definitely meshes with the passengers. He showed up everywhere from the Meet & Mingle to karaoke to the ice-carving demonstration. I appreciated the new twist that Studio B gives the Quest; but I believe a company that designs ships with innovations like skating rinks and carousels could come up with a few new questions for the Love & Marriage game. C'mon, where's Bob Eubanks when you need him? CASINO: The odds on the slot machines weren't high enough for us to risk our lungs against the smoke. And based on our observations while walking through, either the smoky stench or the bleak economy kept a lot of other passengers away from the casino, too. ENTERTAINMENT: I was pleased that, on this cruise, most of the late seating shows were actually after dinner. It defeats the whole point of having second seating if you have to be dressed and ready for a show by 6:30. The magician was impressive, the production shows were typical, and the comedians were relatively funny. But what really entertained us were the ice show and the performance by an Olympic gymnast. Both shows would have been amazing on dry land, but were incredible at sea. Derek drew a faithful crowd into the Pig & Whistle every night, and we thoroughly enjoyed the Men of Culture Caribbean band. It was hard to find a good spot to watch the Island Frenzy Parade in the Promenade, but we found the chairs in the library to be quite comfortable even though the view is obstructed from there. ITINERARY: Our group has visited the ports—Cozumel, Cayman Islands and Jamaica—many times, so none of the destinations had a dramatic impact on our cruise. However, our grandsons love the beach, so we were keeping our fingers crossed for some sunny days on the sand. Fortunately the weather in Cozumel was beautiful, and we enjoyed an unforgettable day of swimming with dolphins and building sandcastles at Chankanaab Park. When we reached Grand Cayman, the seas were too rough to tender into Georgetown so the ship anchored in a bay on the south side of the island. The area where the tenders docked was pretty rugged, but a $6 taxi ride got us to 7 Mile Beach for a couple of hours of splashing in the waves and sipping pina coladas. We've never been on a Western Caribbean cruise where we've missed Jamaica, and we were looking forward to having the ship to ourselves while the rest of the passengers were ashore dodging hair braiders. But at 9:00 a.m. the captain announced the waves were too high to dock the ship in Montego Bay and that he was in contact with the Miami office about other options. We thoroughly expected to hear we were enroute to another port—preferably Labadee. Instead he kept the ship off the coast of Jamaica, in unpleasantly rough seas, for three more hours before announcing we would gradually start our way back to Galveston. The Cruise Director quickly added a couple more activities to the schedule that afternoon, but didn't bother to print a revised Compass. In essence, for many passengers it was a wasted day. And for anyone who doesn't particularly value time spent at sea, three consecutive days is a long time to be confined to a ship in stormy weather. DEBARKATION: Couldn't have been easier. We didn't carry our own bags off the ship, but we had priority debarkation and were in our car and on our way home by 9:30. EXPECTATIONS & CUTBACKS: I must say I noticed fewer cutbacks on this cruise than on the last two or three we've taken. But I suppose that may be because we've come to expect less. In fact, the only things I truly missed on the Voyager were the pillow chocolates and the Solarium Grill. In my opinion Royal Caribbean can keep its swan-shaped Eclairs and its baked Alaska, but when they expect me to pay $5 and wait 45 minutes for a good ol' hamburger and fries, they've gone too far! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
Background Info: I sailed with my wife and daughter. This was the 9th cruise for my wife and I (8 Carnival & 1 Royal Caribbean) and the 7th cruise for DD (all on Carnival). We have previously sailed on the following Carnival ships: ... Read More
Background Info: I sailed with my wife and daughter. This was the 9th cruise for my wife and I (8 Carnival & 1 Royal Caribbean) and the 7th cruise for DD (all on Carnival). We have previously sailed on the following Carnival ships: Triumph, Victory, Sensation, Glory, Valor, Liberty and the Legend. This was our 2nd cruise on the Legend. We also sailed on her last year. Pre-Cruise: We flew into Tampa International the day before as usual arriving around 10:30 a.m. We took the free shuttle to the Grand Hyatt hotel (about a 10 minute drive from the airport). I booked the room on Hotwire.com for $105 including taxes. We were pleasantly surprised that we were able to get in our room around Noon. The hotel was very nice and was certainly deserving of its 4 star status. Nice big bathroom for the ladies. I loved the workout facility. The treadmills were top notch and had a TV built in that you could connect your headphones. They also had a nice selection of weight machines and free weights. One drawback was that the hot tub was in the work out facility so it was extremely warm. The hotel offers a free shuttle to and from the International Mall. It is not a constant shuttle that goes to and from the mall. The shuttle runs 4 times per day each way departing the hotel at 10:15, 1:15, 4:15 and 7:15 and takes about 5-7 minutes. It picks up passengers for a return ride to the hotel when they drop off at the Mall. The International Mall is huge and has just about every store you can imagine. Our original plan was to have lunch at the Cheese Cake Factory (DW loves the Asian salad) but the wait was 45 minutes and we were already starving. We found a nice deli called TooJay's. It was pretty good but not outstanding considering the sandwiches were over $10. The next day we took a taxi to the cruise port (about a 20 minute ride and $35 w/tip). Normally it would have been around $25 but we had the driver stop at a liquor store on the way over to the port. FYI - liquor can be sold beginning at 11:00 am on Sundays. Embarkation: Extremely smooth! We arrived at the port around 11:30, checked in by Noon, eating and drinking by 12:15. Tampa is my favorite port to cruise from. Easy in/easy out. Ship: The ship's dEcor is darker than any of the Carnival ships in which we have sailed. There was quite a bit decorative woodwork throughout the ship. It almost had a gothic feel to it. Not my favorite but still very nice. The layout of the ship is very easy to maneuver. Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on the Empress deck (#6244). We managed quite nicely with all three of us. It did not seem crowded at all. The cabin had a sofa bed rather than a bunk bed from the ceiling. DD much preferred the sofa bed since the bunk bed was very cold as it is right next to the air conditioning vent. The cabin was in the back of the ship but we did not notice any extra rockiness. Noise was never an issue since the decks above and below us were all cabins. The bathroom had a gift basket stocked with toothpaste and razors (both men and women). Natanya was our room steward and she did a fantastic job. We rarely saw her but had no complaints. Dining Room: We went with the Total Choice Dining option (open dining) in Truffles Restaurant. The results were mixed. We loved being able to eat dinner on our own schedule. It was especially nice on port days since we did not have to immediately jump in the shower as soon as we returned in order to make a 6:00 dinner seating. We were able to relax and take our time getting ready for dinner. It definitely reduced the stress level for all. What we did not love was the length of time it took to get through all of the dinner courses. A couple of nights we were in the dining room for an hour and 45 minutes. It seemed as if the wait staff was used to everyone eating at relatively the same time. Perhaps they are still working out the kinks. However, I would still not let this stop me from going with the Total Choice Dining in the future. I hope it spreads fleet wide. Something different in the dining room that I have never seen on before was a Table Artist. His name was Ram. He walked around the dining room performing magic tricks at various tables. He was there all week and he spreads himself around to make sure everyone gets a performance. The food was very good. As usual, the soups were outstanding. I loved the lobster bisque, cream of broccoli, pumpkin and mushroom soups especially. Not a big fan of the chilled soups (strawberry, cherry, peach...blech!) The lobster and filet mignon were definitely smaller than last year. In fact, each was paired with another protein as an entrEe'. The lobster was paired with shrimp and the filet was served with another type of beef (can't remember exactly what ...but it was good.) I also noticed that many of the entrEe's had the same side dishes with it on the same night (i.e., peas served with the fish, beef and chicken entrEe's). This probably saved Carnival a few bucks but it certainly did not detract from the overall dining room experience. One last comment......for the life of me I don't get all the rage about the chocolate melting cake. It tastes like an extremely under-baked brownie. DW loved it, though! Lido Deck: Service was excellent and the lines were not too bad even on sea days. I highly recommend the roasted turkey on a country roll (with Swiss of course). The chocolate buffet on the last sea day was disappointing, as usual. In my opinion, they sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity. The pizza was a better than last year but still a little on the flimsy side. I like my pizza a little more crispy. Breakfast was the usual fare. Another cutback I noticed is that you no longer serve yourself for bacon, breakfast ham and bagels. You can have as much as you want but a Carnival employee will serve it to you. Probably a good idea as I have seen quite a bit of wasted food. We ate dinner in the dining room so I can't comment on that subject. The late night burger bar was fantastic. Entertainment: Improved from last year. The production shows were Take II and Jazz Hot. Take II was definitely the better of the two. Jazz Hot was mostly music from the 40's. If you are a Tommy Dorsey fan then you will love this show. The comedians were Happy Cole and Max Winfrey. I only saw Cole but he was pretty good. The best show of the week hands down was Incredible Motown Sounds of Marcus Anthony. He has a terrific voice and great personality. Nice thing about him is he show for the early and late performances. Do not miss his show. The Carnival Legends show was a hoot especially for this proud Daddy as my daughter performed! My wife and I really enjoyed going to Satchmo's Bar and listening to the Music Blitz. They played a nice mix of music ranging from CCR to the Beatles to Def Leppard. They were very entertaining. There was a country singer (Dewayne Spaw) that played at various bars throughout the cruise. I didn't see much of his show as I am not a country music fan but he had a nice crowd every time he performed. The karaoke in the Fire Bird Lounge was entertaining. Misty did a great job keeping the crowd going. Social!!!! (you'll get it if you go to karaoke) The cruise director was Jen Baxter was unspectacular. She told the same tired jokes as all the other CDs. Cozumel, Mexico: We went to Paradise Beach and did the each thing. It was a $13 taxi ride each way. They have all the amenities: food, drinks, beach toys, hair braiding, etc..... My recommendation is the guacamole. Get it with the tortilla chips for around $6. A bucket (5 beers) of Dos Equis cost $15. They also have a couple of laptops at the bar that you can use free of charge. They have a wristband you can buy for $10 to get access to the water trampoline and water rock climbing. Something to be aware of is they charge a 20% "service charge" for all credit card transactions. Plan to bring cash to save yourself self money. We also did some shopping at the pier. Belize: We did Belikin Brewery and City Tour. Coral Breeze Limited. We were the only ones on the tour. Cornell was our guide and was very knowledgeable about Belize City. It started out with a tour of the "nicer" part of Belize and then moved to the brewery. The actual tour of the brewery only took about 30 minutes but was very interesting. At the end of the tour, you are taken to the brewery bar (beautiful) and you have 45 minutes to drink as much as you can. The beer was cold, fresh and delicious. I tried all 5 types. They also have soda as it too is bottled at the plant. The tour concludes with lunch at the Wet Lizard restaurant at the port. Food was pretty good. (This is where you meet for the tour I the morning.) Cost was $66 pp. We did some shopping at with the locals behind the port. Don't worry it is safe. But be prepared to haggle. My wife bought a sterling silver bracelet for $20 that the vendor originally wanted $35. He told her that he would give her that deal but "do not tell anyone". DW and DD also bought designer purses in the port shopping area. I was told they were "a great deal". Grand Cayman: We took the taxi to Sea Grape Beach ($15 each way for all three of us). It was $6 for a beach chair and $5 for an umbrella. We hung out on the beach, swam and enjoyed some liquid refreshments. The food was good too. The jerk chicken is good but be warned it is SPICY. This is not the port to drink at as the beers were $5 each. No buckets, no specials. Mixed drinks were just as bad. A good day to give your liver a break! We have gone to Royal Palms in our previous trips to Grand Cayman but wanted to try Sea Grape. I would probably go back to Royal Palms in the future as Sea Grape really packed the chairs close together and the employee running the beach was a little on the surly side. She even tried telling us what direction we had to point our chairs in. Costa Maya, Mexico: I booked the Costa Maya Beach Break. The beach is Pez Quadro. The cost was $35 for 18 years and up, $20 for ages 12-17, free for 11 and under. It included chairs, a palapa for shaded and all you can drink. Food was extra but was pretty reasonable. We pre-booked the excursion and our chairs and palapa were ready when we arrived. I would recommend booking in advance especially if there is more than 1 ship in port that day. You may save yourself $5 by booking at the port........but why chance it?Francisco and his brother (sorry, forgot his name) took great care of us. They went out of their way to make sure we had a good time. The beers were cold and the tequila was tasty. Bathrooms were clean. I got a 1 hour massage for $20 ($25 w/tip) and it wonderful (thank you, Maria). Pez Quadro will be my destination the next time I am in Costa Maya. Disembarkation: Smooth, we were in no hurry since our flight was not until 7:00 pm. Miscellaneous: Overall it was a pretty smooth ride. It was a little rocky one night but that was it. The wind was pretty bad a couple of nights. There were not many kids on board for a President's week sailing. Room Service was good. I recommend the tuna salad on an English muffin and the pastrami on rye. They are really tasty at about 12:30 a.m. The room service menu has been greatly enhanced since we sailed last February. Nice! One tip for the men (especially if you are travelling with a couple of ladies in you cabin) - The men's locker room has a wonderful sauna and private showers that have 5 heads (one above and two on each of the left and right walls). These are normal sized showers...not the phone booths in the cabin. I would go over around 5:00 - 5:30 and sit in the sauna for 15 minutes, shower and shave and be back in the cabin ready for dinner in around 6:15 - 6:30. I just discovered this on my 8th Carnival cruise. One criticism - the tendering process leaving the ship was a mess. In Belize, they announced that you could come to the Follies Lounge and get tender tickets at 9:00 and did not hand them out until 9:30. In Grand Cayman, there was an insert in the Capers that said tender tickets would be given out at 9:30 in Satchmo's Bar. However, the back of the Capers said tender tickets would be available in the Follies lounge at 10:00. They were contradictory. And to top it off, they were both inaccurate. They were actually handed out in the Follies Lounge at 9:15. When I asked Mark (the asst cruise director) who was responsible for making sure the information given out was accurate and consistent his reply was "Not me....I'm not in charge of communications". It was a classic "it's not my job" attitude. This was the only real complaint I had of the entire staff. The gym had very nice equipment. It was busy at the beginning of the cruise but tapered off as the week went along. The cardio machines were busy. Cruise Critic Meet N' Greet: Our Roll Call set up a Meet n' Greet at the aft bar (Unicorn Bar) right after the muster drill. We had a maybe 10 or so people show up. It was nice to meet all of you. If anyone has any questions, I'd be happy to answer them either here or via e-mail at runningdad@comcast.net Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
This was our first time on such a large ship. My husband and I are not fans of big ships with thousands of people. However, this cruise was specifically for my grandfather, who is handicapped (he rides a scooter)and rather advanced in age, ... Read More
This was our first time on such a large ship. My husband and I are not fans of big ships with thousands of people. However, this cruise was specifically for my grandfather, who is handicapped (he rides a scooter)and rather advanced in age, so we decided that for him with mobility problems, etc, a large ship is the right ticket. Embarkation was very fast and easy. Porters assisted my grandfather with luggage and his scooter, and got us on the ship without too much hassle. Cabins: The handicapped cabin we booked was the standard balcony room, but had a fairly large amount of space to move about, the closet had hand pulls to help you get to things if you were sitting in a wheelchair, bathroom very accessible with ride-in shower. Bathroom was older looking with dated hardware. Our cabin (also basic balcony) was half the size, also dated but we could cope fine. Maid service was great, although we found some fellow passangers complaining that the housekeeping staff blasted TV's and music while cleaning and took up a lot of space. Getting around: My grandfather had no problems getting around on the scooter. There were times when the housekeeping carts were not "parked" well in the corridors, so we needed to move them for him in order to get by. The elevators took a while, and we found that sometimes it was easier to just get on the first one that arrived, irrespective of its direction so we could just squeeze in. It was also somewhat shocking to me how some fellow travelers would literally jump in the elevator before the scooter leaving no space for us to get in. I guess in some places manners are a thing of the past. Dining: Making reservations for dinner was a hassle. We were given a late seating for dinner, which doesn't work for my grandfather. It took us 1.5 hours in line and working it out with the manager to have that changed. There were many others on line who looked pretty upset, and I found out later many were not able to change their seating. Food was fine, and exceeded our expectations given the number of people they have to serve daily. Food service in the restaurants was great, as were the maiterde's (sp?) at dinner time. They helped my grandfather feel comfortable and welcome. I would say that buffets were dissapointing, and after 2 unpleasant meals we resorted to the restaurant for all our meals. Pools - one of the pools is handicap accessible. They have a lift that they can operate to get you in to the water. There was a pool hand that did this for us a few times during the week, and it was wonderful. It was the first time in over thirty years that my grandfather went into a pool, and was a memorable experience for him. The staff at the pool could not have been more accomodating. I will caveat that we tried the pool only on port days, so there was barely anyone left on the ship. On sailing days, it was barely possible to find a chair, and asking for the lift to operate with that number of people in the pool was out of question. We did not go to any ports as my grandfather was not up to it, so I cannot comment on the ports of call. Overall the experience was exactly what we were looking for. The room was a great size, housekeeping very decent (they made towel art every night which my grandfather got a kick out of), food and service for lunch and dinner was great. Would we do it again? Yes if my grandfather was able to do it. Would we go alone as a couple or with our children? No, honestly this trip only cemented our preference for smaller more intimate ships.   Read Less

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