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21,251 Family Cruise Reviews

Our first ever cruise was on the Elation, and it was very nice. We thought the ship was very elegant and the food mostly outstanding except for the steak dishes. The service was great in the dining room, and the housekeeping staff was ... Read More
Our first ever cruise was on the Elation, and it was very nice. We thought the ship was very elegant and the food mostly outstanding except for the steak dishes. The service was great in the dining room, and the housekeeping staff was very friendly. Our dinner companions were very nice people, but overall we were surprised by how much drinking there was on the Elation. It occurred to me that I'd rather have people drink to excess on a cruise ship than anyplace where driving might be involved, but it still was slightly eye-opening. People boarded the ship shouting "where're the drinks!" and people brought their umbrella-embellished beverages with them to the safety drill despite being told they weren't allowed to do so. The very funny and helpful cruise director warned passengers not to drink so much in Cozumel that they had to be brought back in wheelchairs. People laughed and thought she was kidding, but she wasn't! Besides the cruise director, the shopping expert, Kaylene, was so helpful and friendly, and the entertainment staff also made sure we had a lot of fun. Though the rockiness of the ship and noise and vibration made it difficult to sleep every night, I enjoyed the Elation thoroughly. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
What a wonderful experience and memory for 17 of us to celebrate altogether my parents golden wedding anniversary. There were my parents, their children (3 daughters) with their husbands and 8 grandchildren and 1 grandchild in law. For my ... Read More
What a wonderful experience and memory for 17 of us to celebrate altogether my parents golden wedding anniversary. There were my parents, their children (3 daughters) with their husbands and 8 grandchildren and 1 grandchild in law. For my parents it was the ultimate that they were both blessed with good health and able to have an amazing holiday with their nearest and dearest. The Explorer of the Seas made our holiday. It had everything to suit all generations. This all started with the flight and then the stay in the Hilton near the airport. For my daughter-in-law and one of my sisters, my brother-in-law, nephews and niece this was a totally new experience for a holiday. From the first moment we stepped on board it was a dream for all of us. Having been on a number of Royal Caribbean cruises myself I could not get over the fun of the Promenade deck to the ice skating arena and all the other forms of activities. My parents who had been Captains of their golf club and had won many cups brought a few of these with and we all teamed up to win the cups on the crazy golf on the top deck. This was a great success and it took all week to go through the competition. The evenings were great and dinner was fantastic as your restaurant staff made an extra effort to put us all on one table. All of us enjoyed the Johnny Rockets and the frozen yogurt's around the ship. The entertainment in the evening was great and those of us old enough rounded it up with a little flutter in the casino. The cabins were spotless and every evening when we went to bed it was surprise to see how the cabin steward had designed a towel in different animal shapes. The stops were great and we only went to the beach and swam in the wonderful clear Caribbean sea. I was also extremely impressed with the competency of your staff at embarkation and disembarkation. On behalf of my family I can only thank Royal Caribbean for making such a memorable holiday, something all of us will never forget for the rest of our lives. Finally, since this cruise we are now proud grandparents of two grandchildren, they have seen the DVD's of our special holidays and cannot wait for their parents or us to take them on a Royal Caribbean adventure they will never forget. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
Embarkation was very easy. Although our advised check in wasn’t until 3pm we arrived at 11.30am without a problem. The queue was long but with so many staff working at the check in desks we were at front and collecting our cruise cards ... Read More
Embarkation was very easy. Although our advised check in wasn’t until 3pm we arrived at 11.30am without a problem. The queue was long but with so many staff working at the check in desks we were at front and collecting our cruise cards within 15 minutes. To my surprise we didn’t even have to wait in the lounge we walked straight onto the ship!Cabins were ready so we dropped off our hand luggage and headed to the Da Vinci restaurant on deck 6 for a three course lunch with waiter service. We hate the buffet on embarkation day so the fact that Princess have a main dining room open straightaway is a real treat. We purchased a coffee card (which can be shared as it has a limited number of punches for tea and coffee, plus unlimited filter coffee) and two UKP drinks packages (which gives unlimited hot chocolate, milkshakes, mocktails, frozen drinks, juices and sodas). After lunch we headed back to our cabin and most of our luggage had already been delivered. Our cabin was an outside cabin on deck 5 which was a superb location as it was only five metres away from the International café and Piazza.Our steward provided us with extra hangers and as the wardrobe had no doors it was surprising how many clothes we were able to hang up. Above the hanging space there was a shelf where the life jackets were located but there was still ample space for storage. In addition, there were two bedside tables with a storage space and two drawers, the vanity table had two shelves in a cupboard on the right and by the wardrobe there were shelves on the side wall from floor to ceiling which was also the location of the combination safe. The fridge was located to the left of the vanity unit and was large enough for the ice bucket, a box of wine and a bottle of fizz. There were two US sockets and we brought a four bar extension lead for all our electrical equipment. The children slept in bunks above our beds which were lowered at night when the beds were turned down and then put away in the morning when the room was made up. The bathroom was tiny. The shower had a shower curtain and there was not a lot of space so dropping the soap ended up being quite tricky! Large towels, hand towels, flannels and pool towels were provided. There were also bottles of shampoo, conditioner and lotion provided plus many bars of soap. The bathroom had three little shelves on the left so there was room for all our toiletries despite the small size.After unpacking we collected treasure hunt cards and had fun exploring the ship and getting stamps at each named location. This was an excellent way of getting to know the ship and we had great fun. We also filled in the spa raffle cards and after our muster drill we headed up on deck for the sail away party. The live band were really good and to encourage people to dance they gave out raffle tickets for every song for people who were dancing which was a great idea. Then they drew cards from the treasure hunt. The prizes were very varied from dinner for two at Sabatini’s (specialty Italian restaurant) to a glass of Martini. Next was the sail away raffle and having danced every dance we had loads of tickets. I won a bottle of fizz and our son won a Princess drinks bottle. We then went off to the Spa raffle and I won $150 Spa voucher!The Crown is a beautiful ship and we had a fabulous time from the moment that we stepped on board. The Art Gallery just outside our cabin was quite extensive and had a good variety of art which would appeal to most tastes. The International Café was open 24 hours a day and served a variety of complementary pastries, salads, sandwiches and cakes depending on the time of the day. It also sold ice cream for $1.50 for three scoops on a glass plate. This was also the location for specialty teas and coffees. On the opposite side of the Piazza was Vines the wine and sushi bar. We did a Champagne tasting on the last night at Vines which was really enjoyable even though they did serve a Californian fizz as one of the Champagnes and our host was relying on notes rather than her own knowledge. The Piazza was the location for a variety of entertainment including the Champagne waterfall on the first formal night, the balloon drop on the second formal night, a string quartet, singers and a body balancing act. Deck 5 was also the location for the Internet café and future cruise sales. The future cruise sale rep was not available for the majority of our cruise but there was a drop box for future deposits and on board credit.The Passenger Services desk on deck 6 was always well manned. There were also two self serve machines for print outs of your on board account. In addition there were machines for foreign exchange currency. The shore excursions department was next to Passenger Services. There was a drop box for excursions (just outside the Casino) for passengers who wanted to book or cancel shore excursions when the desk was closed. Deck 6 (and 7) is the location of the Princess Theatre which had three shows a night so unlike some cruise ships we’ve been on we were always able to get a seat. The entertainment was generally good. The singers and dancers were excellent and the comedy impressionist Gary T Thompson was hilarious on his first show but the comedian on the first night was terrible and the second show by the Gary didn’t live up to the first.Deck 7 was the Promenade deck and a good deck to walk from aft to forward indoors as not all decks are accessible from one end of the ship to the other. Similarly deck 15, the Lido deck, was handy when heading from the Spa forward on deck 16 to the kids’ club aft on deck 16.The pools on deck 15 were heated and the children were surprised just how warm they were. There were also two additional adult only pools. Forward at the Spa next to the Sanctuary and aft at the back of Café Caribe. There was a large movie screen above one of the pools which showed films daily.There were self-service Laundromats available on decks 5, 8-14 which although not needed on our 7 day cruise would have been a extremely valuable on a longer cruise and Princess is the only American cruise line that we have found this service.The food on the Crown was outstanding. We loved lunch in the main dining room and were disappointed that it was not open on port days. As anytime diners we had the choice of eating in either the Michelangelo Restaurant or Da Vinci restaurant so if there was a queue at one we just went to the other. As we were cruising in Europe the busiest time was 7-30 to 8-30 with early diners able to walk in without a queue no problem. They did have a pager system so if you wanted a table for 2 and not share but there wasn’t a table available you could take a pager and enjoy a drink in the Piazza while waiting. The Botticelli restaurant (aft deck 6) was fixed dining only. Children are able to order from the main menu or the children's menu or a combination of the two. They are also able to get complementary chocolate milk and fruit juice with the evening meal. Our children's favourite breakfast was smoked salmon and bagel, lunch was pizza and favourite dinner was medallions of beef. My highlights included egg Benedict (served on request even when not on the menu), fettucini Alfredo, lobster, Beef Wellington and all the wonderful fish dishes. If you are like me and find that your two favourite main courses appear on the same evening have the lobster as a fish course and then the beef as the main!Our dining highlight was Chef’s Table which I can’t recommend enough. We were treated like VIPs for the entire evening, given the guided tour in the working galley on deck 6 with the Maitre D before savouring amazing canapés with Champagne each one made by the executive chef himself. We were then led down to Michelangelo restaurant for a gastronomic extravaganza all accompanied by fine wines, candle light (yes real candles) and great company. The main course was flambéed in the restaurant before our eyes which was really spectacular. The evening ended with a rose and group photo for the ladies and a Princess recipe book for the gents.There were two specialty restaurants open in the evening, the Crown Grill for steaks and lobster and Sabatini’s for Italian cuisine. Although we didn’t eat at either we met so many people who raved about the Crown Grill.All food we found on deck 15 was complementary including hamburgers, hotdogs and fries at the Trident Grill , the Pizzeria made fresh pizzas in visible ovens which were huge so a slice of pizza barely fitted on the plate. Both eateries were by the pool and extremely popular with swimmers and sunbathers on deck. This was also the location for the complementary ice cream bar served in either a cone or a tub from 11am to 11pm.Inside, Horizon Court buffet served a very limited lunch which did not meet our expectations of Royal Caribbean or Celebrity. This was probably why the International Café was so popular on deck 5 as the salads and pastries always looked so tempting. Café Caribe at the back of Horizon Court was a bit of a non event with only continental breakfast served there from 5am-10am.The staff on Princess were extremely conscientious and friendly. The waitstaff were always attentive but never rushed us, the drinks staff were alert to a nearly empty glasses which meant we never had to go without a drink at dinner while we waited for another. The daytime staff were equally superb at their jobs. We played Win, Lose or Draw (that’s Pictionary to you and me), did a couple of quizzes, played and won champagne hoopla, played the golf chipping challenge, watched a film in the theatre, took part in flashmob and attended the Champagne art auction. We were lucky that there was always going on we were spoilt for choice and never made it to the mini golf course, Casino, the bingo, the aerobics studio or gym.Our children both went to Shockwaves, the kids’ club for 8-12 year olds. They were able to sign themselves in and out at sea, but needed us to sign them in and out when in port. They both had a great time and came home with t-shirts, hand made jewellery and a decorated picture frame. Our daughter especially loved making things while our son enjoyed the playing games and the competitions. Unlike most cruise lines the children were not given a muster bracelet. Equally we were not given child life jackets from our steward despite asking. When we mentioned it to one of the officers she was absolutely horrified and we got the impression that our steward wouldn’t make the same mistake again.We had intended to take the Princess excursion to Bordeaux but our son wasn’t feeling well that morning. I went to the Shore Excursion desk to find out whether we would be able to get any money back and they were fantastic and told us that it was understandable that people get ill especially as it was very rough that night and gave us a full refund without penalty on return of our tickets. I was so impressed as this was superb customer service by Princess.Disembarkation was easy and hassle free. We put our suitcases out the night before and walked off with our hand luggage easily finding our suitcases in the baggage collection hall. A couple of days prior to disembarkation we were asked what time we would like to get off and got our requested time. All passengers are given coloured and numbered labels for cases to indicate disembarkation time and then the luggage in stored in coloured and numbered zones so need to panic at the thought of 3000 passengers trying to find their suitcases at the same time !Our ports of call were La Coruna, Bilbao (free shuttle provided), Le Verdon (free shuttle to Soulac sur Mer or excursions to Bordeaux) and Guernsey which was a tender port. All ports were very easy to do DIY and walk around. The tides were causing issues with the gangways and at times one of the gangways was closed for repositioning. Wheelchair users were warned that they may not be able to disembark at Guernsey but we saw several getting back on the tenders with wheel chair assistants at the ready.We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and walked off the ship desperate to book another one. Princess is certainly a quality cruise company and their staff made every effort to ensure that we all had an amazing time. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
Just returned from a 15 night cruise. We had a bumpy start, the BVE people who had paid to get on the ship with passengers rec'd a call the day before sailing to say their boarding passes were cancelled and we were very disappointed. ... Read More
Just returned from a 15 night cruise. We had a bumpy start, the BVE people who had paid to get on the ship with passengers rec'd a call the day before sailing to say their boarding passes were cancelled and we were very disappointed. We were supposed to sail until the bridge around 4 pm and at 11:30 pm we were still at the port and so we went to bed. When we woke we were out to sea thank goodness! The ship had just replaced all its carpeting throughout and everything was clean. However there were some plumbing issues on some decks, and being sold out the people could not be moved to new cabins. Not one complaint about the service, everyone was friendly and helpful, I would give the staff a 10. Entertainment was above average, and we enjoyed all the entertainers, another 10. Food was a different story, since the addition of the specialty dinning, the food choices have gone down in the main dining room. The meat served is not the same as it once was, but then why would it be if they can get you to pay $25 for a great steak. The Crab shack is a bust as we heard from others who tried it. The buffet is same as most on all ships and would give it a 6-7 rating. The addition of the International Cafe was good and a good fit you have the need for a snack at any time, would give that a 9, and the new Pizza Cafe was excellent a score of 10. Not much storage in the rooms and oh my the closest space was so small! They have flat screen TV in the room but did not mount them on the wall, so they took up valuable space that could have been turned into more storage. Thank goodness the suitcases fit under the beds. Showers were good size but very little storage space in the bathroom, use to having double cabinets on on each side of the sink on Royal. This was a special cruise with my Mother and she enjoyed herself, so that is all that matters. Had a great cabin location if walking is a problem for you, we were close to almost everything you needed and only three doors from the elevator. Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
I am a grandmother who always wanted to take a cruise. I finally got the chance. We drove from the mountains of NC to Port Canaveral-myself, DH, DS(1),DDIL, GD1(10), GS1(8), and GD2(6). 11 hrs in a van with a very nervous DH who ... Read More
I am a grandmother who always wanted to take a cruise. I finally got the chance. We drove from the mountains of NC to Port Canaveral-myself, DH, DS(1),DDIL, GD1(10), GS1(8), and GD2(6). 11 hrs in a van with a very nervous DH who wasn't exactly sure he wanted to go but wanted me to have my dream. From the time we crossed the bridge and saw the ship the van rocked until I was afraid it might overturn or explode from excitement. When we got into the terminal,it was beautfully decorated for Christmas. After we registered DH started to relax a little. DDIL registered the kids for activities and we finally got called to go through "the ears"' Family picture taken we walked into the ship. When they announced us DH was ecstatic. We ate lunch walked the ship, went to our rooms, which connected, and so began the fun. Our room host, Nonoy,wasfantastic.Until this day the family swears he slept under the bed and every time we left came out and cleaned the room. Our servers, Wayan and friends, were great and kept the kids entertained at mealtime. We saw the rest of the family at mealtime but everyone had a blast.The grandkids enjoyed the clubs and the pools, the kids enjoyed time for themselves and we enjoyed everything. Nassau was alright but DH was nervous about getting too far away from the ship. We visited the Straw Market and got back on board. We loved Castaway Cay!! How beautiful! (We would really like to live there.) We all snorkeled except for DDIL and GD2, ate lunch, and then DS's family biked while we rode the paddle boats. We went back on ship to take a nap. Our review -the food was marvelous, the staff friendly and courteous, and everything was run very efficiently. We have been on the Wonder twice since then-once by ourselves and once we took DMIL(who is in a wheelchair) and have always gotten the same excellent service. We went on another cruise line with our other son and had to be towed into port because the power went out.We are going again (just the 2 of us) in October. If you look at the doors leading off the ship you'll probably see my fingernail marks where they've had to drag us off the ship! Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
My wife and I are usually cruising over Christmas, but my Mom asked us to be home this year, so we moved our cruise up a week. This was our fifth holiday cruise and sixth cruise on Norwegian. The Jewel was our second Jewel-class ship - we ... Read More
My wife and I are usually cruising over Christmas, but my Mom asked us to be home this year, so we moved our cruise up a week. This was our fifth holiday cruise and sixth cruise on Norwegian. The Jewel was our second Jewel-class ship - we sailed on the Pearl a couple of years ago. While it was not exactly the same as a Christmas cruise, it was a cruise with a holiday spirit, especially compared to a New Year's cruise we did a couple of years ago where we left on Christmas Day and everyone seemed a bit cranky until New Year's Eve - the last night of the cruise. Sailing on another ship in the same class was great because we almost instantly knew where everything was onboard - it was like coming home. That saved us a lot of time the first couple of days on just getting around the ship. The Jewel is a nice ship and I can easily find my way around her layout, but as our last two cruises were on the Epic and the Breakaway, she almost seemed a step down - which I think may be an unfair comparison, but that was first impressions. The Jewel felt older (because she is) and smaller (also because she is), so I think the comparison was accurate, but it doesn't mean that we didn't like her - it is just a different experience. This was an interesting cruise for us because all of the ports were places we had been before, so we had different excursions booked than previously. We didn't book anything in Cozumel since we were meeting friends who were also in port that day (on the Dawn.) We flew into New Orleans the night before departure and stayed at the Hyatt French Quarter - we booked our own flights and hotel. Coming from Dallas, we could probably fly in the day of departure, but I don't have that much stomach lining to spare. Plus, a night in New Orleans is always interesting. We did a little wandering around on Bourbon Street, so we got some of the Nawlins tourist experience. We arrived at the port just after 11am and got through the paperwork phase quickly. After a short wait, we were allowed to board, and had coffee in the Atrium. This caused a moment of panic, since the computers weren't up yet, and the staff was running paper receipts. I was asked what my room number was, and I had to admit that I had no idea. This is what happens when my wife is in charge of the reservations. Luckily, she had left all the paperwork while she was wandering, so I found my room number. I would have hated to see my first drink repossessed. We pre-booked our dinners and excursions online as they became available, which meant we didn't have any lines to stand in, so we just relaxed with a drink until we decided to go eat lunch in the Tsar's Palace MDR. I had my usual steak lunch to start the cruise. It was very good. We were allowed up to the rooms just after 1pm, which seemed early to me, but I was happy to get clearance to go see our home for the next week. We were in an aft-facing handicap-accessible mini-suite. It is a nice cabin, but a mini-suite is not a suite (no extra services), and aft-facing was not the nirvana we expected. You are looking out the back of the ship, but it's not really much different (to me) to a balcony anywhere else, and if you are sailing west or north most evenings, you will never see a sunset, which was my goal. So, it was worth the expense to see it once, but I'm not really sure I would pay for it again. We had pre-booked the dinner package with Cagney's, Le Bistro and Mama's for a fixed price, plus a bottle of wine. The first night, we were asked what type of wine (red or white), served, and at the end of the evening, we were given a receipt for the glasses we had not consumed. Since we're not really wine drinkers, the bottle of wine was a nice touch, but saving a bit of money over the individual dinners was more important - since these were the three restaurants we would have visited, anyway. Mama's was having a bit of a mid-life crisis. Sometimes, it was "Mama's" and sometimes it was "La Cucina" (which is what the Italian restaurant is called on other ships.) Hopefully, the name will be standardized. All of the dining was very good and the service was good, as well - we had two dinners in Le Bistro, one in Mama's, one in Cagney's and the rest in Azura so I didn't have to change out of shorts. We did eat at Azura one evening and I felt under-dressed, which was a first. There were less sloppy people on this cruise than usual. We ordered room service for a snack one evening and it was very slow. However, it was just after all the shows finished, so they may have been slammed. It there had been anything open, I would have just walked down and gotten food myself. It would have saved time. (On the newer ships, we would have just gone to O'Sheehan's.) The staff were great - the Captain was very funny, and I believe staff attitude and actions start at the top. We had no issues with any of the staff. The cruise director and her assistants were not as visible as some have been, but we weren't wandering around as much as on some cruises, so we may not have been in the right places. The evening entertainment (Newlywed, Not So Newlywed, Dancing with the Jewel Stars and other assorted games) were very funny and paced well. We skipped the planned entertainment. Our first port was Montego Bay, Jamaica and we were docked, but at the commercial dock next to the passenger dock, so all the excursion buses met us there and brought us back. We were on a Norwegian-sponsored excursion, so we just got off the ship and into line. Coming back to the commercial port was an issue if people wanted to shop - but in our case, the excursion went long, so there wasn't much time left, anyway. Our next stop was Georgetown, Grand Cayman and we tendered. The seas must have been up that day, because we had an excursion canceled (Stingray City) for the first time. We did manage to switch to an alternate excursion - a beach break, but there was only one person at the excursion desk, so it took some time. This was a bit irritating, since the desk knew anyone going to Stingray City (either as an only destination or as a part of a longer excursion) might be changing to something else, so wouldn't it make sense to have extra people around? The beach excursion was fun and the cost differential was handled easily, so it worked out. This was actually our second stop in Grand Cayman - we had diverted there on the way to Jamaica for a medical emergency, and had a passenger disembark for care. All we know about it was what we heard from other passengers - since we were aft-facing, we didn't really see anything going on. Our final port was Cozumel on a day that seven ships were in port. We tendered and it was a rough procedure - the currents were up, so we could tender off only one side of the ship, so it took quite a while. I was beginning to wonder if we were going to make our noon appointment! I am glad we didn't have a planned excursion, since we were not in port late and it took so long to get off the ship. Going back was bumpy as well. In all, this was a very good cruise. I do enjoy the Jewel class ships (I miss the Spinnaker lounge when we are on the newer ships.) The staff was very helpful, as always. I did expect more Christmas events - even though it was the week before. The ship was decorated but the Christmas music that is usually playing on the TV was missing, and it seemed more like a prelude to Christmas (which is was.) Someone asked about it in the Officer's Q&A, and the cruise director said "Christmas is next week." This is true, but I think for many people, it was a Christmas cruise. Still, it was not a major issue for me - I just had been told by other cruisers that it would be Christmas onboard, and it was, but it wasn't. The navigation channel on the TV was out. This is a minor issue unless you actually enjoy navigation and trying to determine where you are (and like having something to double-check your GPS readings.) Someone else asked about it in the Q&A session and the Captain said the software was being upgraded, but it wasn't ready, so it was off - since that was better than showing incorrect values. A minor disappointment, but I was glad to know I wasn't the only navigation nerd onboard. Disembarkation was reasonable - I think they were actually ahead of schedule when our color was called. We got through customs and security fairly quickly and our porter helped us find a cab for the ride back to the airport. I did enjoy the itinerary - even though we had been to the ports before, they were places I would visit again, and there were three sea days to just relax onboard. The Jewel seemed like home, since we had been on the Pearl, so it was a good week. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
First, some background information. I received a "great last-minute deal" offer from an online TA in late November for a 5-Day Western Caribbean sailing on the brand new Norwegian Pearl. The offer was too good to refuse, so I ... Read More
First, some background information. I received a "great last-minute deal" offer from an online TA in late November for a 5-Day Western Caribbean sailing on the brand new Norwegian Pearl. The offer was too good to refuse, so I recruited by brother as my traveling companion, and booked it. We had paid for a Category N guarantee...by the time the confirmation came back, NCL had upgraded us to a Category JJ on Deck 9. Day One - Embarkation Miami We flew into Miami on the morning of the flight. Our sailing was scheduled for 8pm and we were advised that boarding would not begin until sometime between 1 and 2pm. To pass the time, we caught a cab from the Airport to Bayside to shop and have lunch. As is our practice when traveling, we had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe (add another pin to the collection) where we could sit at look at the Pearl from the windows of the restaurant. There were a total of 6 ships at the Port of Miami that day...and that lead to the first "issue" on this trip. With 6 ships full of passengers having debarked, the traffic leaving the cruise terminal was extremely backed up. Because of this, cabbies were refusing to take us from Bayside to the cruise terminal...they felt the short ride (i.e. low fare) wasn't worth what they would lose being stuck in the exiting traffic jam. It took some doing (and a little bribe), and we finally caught a cab and were on our way. We arrived at the pier a little after 1pm, passed the luggage to the port workers and went inside to get in line to check in. Surprisingly, there really wasn't much of a line...it seems that they actually got boarding started around 11, so it had really thinned out by this time. We completed check in, got our key cards, posed for the embarkation picture, and were off to the ship! Cabins were ready, so we were able to drop off our carry-ons and start to explore our home for the next five days. The Pearl is a beautiful ship. The pictures online really do not do her justice. This ship has to be seen in person. Once we were done with the brief "tour", we returned to the room to get ready for the muster drill. We met our room stewards, Johnson and Susanna outside our room. They were extremely polite and friendly. (And remained that way throughout the cruise). Our muster station was the Indigo Main Dining Room. I didn't know this at the time, but this was the only time I would be here this entire cruise. After the muster drill, we headed for the top decks. With 6 ships (2 each from Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean) in port, there was plenty to see. Since we were scheduled to leave last, we could sit out and watch each of the other 5 ships pull away from the pier and head out to sea. For dinner, we booked a table in Le' Bistro. The service, atmosphere, and the food were fantastic. By the time we finished, the Pearl had left the pier and was well underway. We completely missed sail away! No matter, good food...good company. Since we missed that party, we decided to head up to Spinnakers to see what was going on there. This place was PACKED! It looked like the whole ship had the same idea. You could barely move. As it turned out, that was a good thing. For the rest of the cruise, there seemed to be two different crowds. The 20s and early 30s crowd spent their evenings in Bliss, while the late 30s and up crowd spent their evenings in Spinnakers...and the crowds were never bad again. Day Two - At Sea One thing to understand...my brother is a "sleep in" person, while I am not. So, not wanting to waste a minute of my vacation, I had set my alarm to go off about 15 minutes before sunrise. I got up, threw on some shorts and sneakers and got to watch the sunrise from the jogging track. What a beautiful sight! After walking a few laps (yes walking...this is vacation) I headed down to the Great Outdoors to enjoy a leisurely breakfast. This is a great way to start your day. Time for the first "LOL" of the cruise. When I returned to the cabin, there was my brother, sitting on the end of his bed with a look of half anger and half confusion on his face. The anger came from the fact that when he woke up, he didn't see me in bed and assumed that I was in the bathroom getting ready...and he "needed" to use it. The confusion was a result of me walking into the room and the ensuing realization that I was, in fact, not in the bathroom and that it had been vacant the whole time! After I was able to shower and dress, it was off to Le Bistro for the Meet & Greet. There was probably about 25 people from the roll call in attendance. Additionally, Captain Trond Kildal, Hotel Director Klaus Lugmaier, Asst Hotel Director Prem Kainikkara, Cruise Director Clint Wells, Food & Beverage Director Sean Wurmhoeringer, and a few others came on behalf of the ship's staff. They were all very gracious, taking the time to introduce themselves and answer any questions that we had. Dinner was at Teppanyaki. It was very enjoyable. We were able to meet some interesting and fun people during dinner. The food was well prepared and the "show" was enjoyable. Second "issue" of the cruise: (Note that this was the only real issue. The others were very minor and not any big deal at all.) We had two shore excursions booked for Cozumel; parasailing in the morning, and time on a party boat in the afternoon. When we were getting things ready for the next day, I noticed that someone had changed the scheduled times of our excursions, which would not normally an issue, but you can't parasail if you've been drinking all morning...so this new schedule would not work out. I went to reception to get this changed back. They said the change was done because the morning parasailing had been cancelled and this was the only way we could do both. I explained that you couldn't parasail if you had been drinking first, so we were only going to be doing one excursion anyway. That being the case, I would rather parasail in the afternoon than "party" first thing in the morning. We were told that the excursions could not be changed since it was past 6pm on the day before the excursion and the shore excursion desk was closed for the night. This went back and forth for a while with no progress. Finally, they told me to just see the shore excursion people the next day as they would be available on the beach where everyone met for their excursions. This wasn't going to work. Then I ran into Klaus. I had given up for the evening and was headed back to the room when I ran into Klaus in the hallway. Recognizing me from the Meet & Greet he stopped and asked how my cruise had been going, was I having a good time, did I need anything, etc. So I told him what was going on with the excursions. I'll never forget his reaction. He was genuinely appalled at the customer service I had received. And he fixed it....fast. He delivered the type of service that makes you a customer for life. I learned two things: 1) Check over all of the details on your booked excursions immediately upon boarding...don't wait, and 2) Go to the Meet & Greet to get to know the crewmembers in attendance. When they ask how things are, they aren't just making small talk...they really want to know and they do care. Day Three - Cozumel, Mexico Our day in Cozumel started out with some unexpected entertainment. We pulled in and tied up to the pier. It took about 45 minutes to get everything done so that passengers could disembark. This was just at the time when the Coral Princess was scheduled to dock next to us. For safety reasons, we were told we could not disembark until the Coral Princess was tied up. So the morning entertainment was watching our new neighbor dock. It must have been their first time at this dock, though, as they couldn't get off of the ship. They had one gangway to use and where the gangway would attach to the ship stood a big light pole on the pier! It took a bunch of confused dock workers about a half hour to figure out what to do! Once we finally got off the ship, we walked into town for more of our practice...lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe (and another pin for the collection) followed by some souvenir shopping in town. We got back in time to be picked up for our parasailing excursion. This was a lot of fun. There was a total of eight of us that signed up. Three pairs (tandem) and my brother and I went up separately. It was a great time, and the tour provider did a wonderful job. When we returned to the ship, we found treats in our room "Courtesy of the Hotel Director". A really nice touch. We spent the remainder of the day in the spa enjoying the steam room and sauna. Dinner was in the Main Dining Room. This would turn out to be the worst meal of the cruise. The food was OK, but there really wasn't anything on the menu that I liked that night. Additionally, I think my stomach wasn't real happy about bobbing around in the parasailing boat all afternoon. After dinner, we went to the Stardust to catch the 2nd City Show. It was very entertaining. Day Four - Belize City, Belize Belize was a tender port. We had booked the Lost Canopy Zip Line Tour with the ship. After a short tender ride, we met up with our group, were loaded on a bus, and were on our way. Our adventure started with a guided tour of the town and outlying countryside, followed by a looooooooong stretch on a pothole-filled dirt road to the zip line site. Afterwards, they took us for a barbeque lunch. All-in-all a really fun day. If you go, don't forget your bug spray. We had some time to browse through the many shops at the pier before returning to the ship on one of the last tenders. We had reservations at Mambo's, so we went to the room to shower and change for dinner. While we were gone, more treats had been delivered to the cabin... "Compliments of the Concierge - Ruth". What a pleasant surprise. Mambo's was fantastic. In every restaurant (except once in the MDR) I was able to find at least 2 or 3 items that I liked to choose from. Not here. I liked EVERYTHING. I should say that I LOVE Mexican food. I could eat it everyday. If I would have known about this menu earlier in the cruise, I would have eaten here every day. After dinner, we went to the Stardust to see Jean Ann Ryan's Garden of the Geisha show. It was also fantastic. Interesting to see them doing acrobatics on a moving ship. Day Five - At Sea Our last full day onboard. Surprisingly enough, the last four days had gone by pretty slow. Time to enjoy and absorb everything. Not today. This day went flying by like a speeding train. I think it was the knowledge that we were on our way back home. We finally got to spend some time on the Pearl's rock climbing wall. We had met some friends on the zip line tour so they joined us for some climbing time. It was a lot of fun. Dinner for our last evening was to be in Cagney's...courtesy of Klaus. (Thank you). Great service, great food, and to top it off, the Asst Maitre D', Joey Lepasana was fantastic. I had no idea what I wanted to eat, and he made some great recommendations. After dinner, we went down to catch the early show in the Stardust. Tonight's show was the Comedy Magic of Bob and Sarah Trunell, followed by the crew show. It was excellent. Afterwards, I had planned to stop in the shops. I wanted to get an NCL Pearl "Inaugural Season" souvenir. Third "issue" of the cruise...I couldn't get a souvenir. All of the shops had closed for the night (and the remainder of the cruise) at 6pm...for inventory. Unbelievable! I didn't want to ruin my last night over this, so I just moved on. It just seemed silly to close stores when you had customers ready to spend money. I guess you have to pick your battles. Day Six - Disembarkation Miami We were scheduled to dock at 8am in Miami. I wanted to get up so that I could watch the ship come in, turn around in the basin, and then dock at the pier. Wasn't meant to be. I woke up at 7am. We were already tied to the pier in Miami. Nothing to do but have breakfast and get ready to leave. We had a nice leisurely breakfast in the Great Outdoors. If the weather is nice, you can't beat this place for breakfast. Disembarking was very easy. We had left our luggage out the night before, so we just grabbed our carry-ons and walked off. We were easily able to find our luggage on the pier and customs was a snap. I don't think the whole think took more than 15 minutes. Plenty of cabs were available for the quick trip to Miami Airport for the flight home. Summary This cruise was the first time I had been on a ship in 20 years. "Traditional" cruising never appealed to me. Now that I've tried freestyle, I know I'll be back. A lot of places refer to you as their "customer", NCL staffers kept referring to us as "guests". Now I see why. That is how they treat you. Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
Our 10 night Southern Caribbean cruise on the Maasdam was one of my favorites. The ship itself, though small, was beautiful and more than comfortable, even in our inside cabin. I can find very few things to complain about--the weather was ... Read More
Our 10 night Southern Caribbean cruise on the Maasdam was one of my favorites. The ship itself, though small, was beautiful and more than comfortable, even in our inside cabin. I can find very few things to complain about--the weather was a little rough our first few days, so we had to skip Half Moon Cay, but that was hardly the ship's fault. The food was absolutely delicious and more than exceeded the high expectations we have of the Holland America Line. The service was as good as I have seen in the cruising world-friendly and personal, by the end of the cruise even crew members in the bar knew us, conversed with us, and asked if we would like our usual favorites. Our waiter entertained us with magic tricks--mostly for the kids' benefit, but entertaining and touching nonetheless. I highly recommend longer cruises if you want good service, and longer cruises on smaller mid-size ships especially. The public areas were beautifully decorated, especially the piano bar, with cloth wall hangings that made it look like the inside of a Far East tent. We discovered it near the end of the cruise and enjoyed delicious complimentary appetizers, including duck spring rolls. The entire ship was spotless and in very good condition. The Lido restaurants onboard Holland America's ships are the best cruise ship buffets in my opinion--very clean, beautifully decorated, food nearly as good as in the main dining room, and good service. Some ships have individual stations for pasta, Asian, deli, etcetera where the crew member will personalize your food. The Maasdam did not have the individual stations and had a more traditional long buffet instead, which required you to wait in lines, but they were not too long and it was still remarkably well serviced for a buffet, and you could still get made-to-order pasta or stir-fry. The Lido pool area was very nice, with a graceful dolphin statue and raised terrace for eating. There were not very many children onboard the ship on our trip but the children in our family like it better that way--fewer kids means more personalized attention in the kids' program, better activities, and more chances to bond with the other kids. We still keep in touch with some of the friends we met onboard. The itinerary was incredible. Dominica had a botanical garden with a small mountain which we hiked on our own for beautiful view of the sea and the island. Unfortunately we had to skip Half Moon Cay but we have been there on two other occasions, and it has gorgeous white sand, crystal-clear blue water, fun features like trampolines and other anchored, oversized "toys" in the water, water slides for kids, and if there are two different ships docked they have ship-versus-ship volleyball games and other activities. We also went to Curacao, a beautiful port reminiscent of European towns, and had a great time just walking around. We could have probably replaced St. Thomas with another port as we have already been there many times, but this is forgivable. Altogether the Maasdam was a very nice ship, I give it five stars, and I highly recommend it for families, seniors, couples and just about anyone. Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
I took my mother on her 1st cruise and chose the Explorer of the Seas. And I thank God every day that we did. My mother became very ill on the 2nd day of the cruise. The room staff could not have been nicer to her. Mom was not able to ... Read More
I took my mother on her 1st cruise and chose the Explorer of the Seas. And I thank God every day that we did. My mother became very ill on the 2nd day of the cruise. The room staff could not have been nicer to her. Mom was not able to leave the stateroom and our steward would check on her every other hour when she knew that Mom was alone (like when we went to eat or get off ship). We weren't able to keep all but 1 shore excursion because we were afraid to leave ship with Mom being sick. We did get off to go to pharmacy and grocery stores so we could supplies for her. The room staff made sure that she could get things she wanted to eat even if it was not on the menu. The Doctor and Nurses on board were great too - but I just want to make sure the room stewards get their props because they went above and beyond for Mom. Everything else on ship was great. Would never hesitate to take another cruise on Explorer. Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
In this review you won't find simply a list of facts you can find anywhere, but rather details from our personal experience as passengers aboard the Disney Wonder in 2007. The fact that I am writing this review 2 years later and can ... Read More
In this review you won't find simply a list of facts you can find anywhere, but rather details from our personal experience as passengers aboard the Disney Wonder in 2007. The fact that I am writing this review 2 years later and can remember so vividly the details should tell you how much we enjoyed our cruise. My goal is to provide inside tips and information that you might not find anywhere else...things I would have found helpful, had I known ahead of time. Disney Cruiseline has a very informative website with statistical facts (i.e. size, capacity,stateroom square footage, etc.) But, for a passengers perspective, along with little things you may be surprised to learn, read on... PORT CANAVERAL-PARKING-BAGGAGE-PARKING-PARKING ALTERNATIVE The day we embarked on our 4-day Disney Cruise was full of classic Disney perfection. As a life-long fan of all things Disney, I couldn't wait to walk aboard the Disney Wonder and see what magic was in store for us. Along with my husband of 2 days and my 11 year old son, I arrived at Disney's cruise terminal in Port Canaveral. We were first directed by a parking attendant toward the front door of the building, where baggage handlers were waiting. We exited and took our carry-on bags, as the handlers carried off our other bags. Just like my experiences with workers at Walt Disney World, everyone was smiling, as if they were as happy about our cruise as we were. One handler noticed I was searching one of my bags and offered to help me find something. I told her that I was just making sure my anti-nausea (for sea-sickness) medication was in my purse. She was quick to advise me that now would be a great time to go ahead and take that medication if I am prone to sea-sickness. I felt it was a thoughtful gesture and I took her advice. SIDENOTE: Turns out, I never felt "sea-sick" on the cruise, but since I'm prone to motion sickness, I always advise having some on hand when cruising. I suggest Bonine's once-a-day chewables (non-drowsy). Although it is not required, please tip these very kind hard workers who handle your bags. They are in the sweltering heat of Florida making sure your bags arrive promptly to your stateroom...and doing so with a smile. While my son & I entered the terminal, my husband parked our car in the terminal parking lot, for which there is a pretty hefty fee. Various cruiselines change between $8-15 per day for parking. Since that trip, we have learned that The Country Inn & Suites in Cape Canaveral has a deal with certain rooms that includes parking (though unsecured) for the duration of your cruise, plus a shuttle ride to and from the terminal. For our upcoming 7-day cruise, we are definitely taking advantage of that deal. We are staying for $130, for 1 night, in a 1-BR suite the night before our cruise. That rate includes the parking for 8 total days and the shuttle both ways, saving us enough to almost pay for the suite! INSIDE THE TERMINAL Upon entering the Disney Cruiseline terminal, we were directed to a very long line of excited travellers, winding through ropes leading to the check-in counter. Given the length of the line, I expected to be there for hours, but was pleased to discover a Disney employee walking through the line, making sure everyone had what would be needed to avoid delays. Since I was standing in line alone with three passports, he kindly held my place in line while I located my family and had them join me. All parties are required to stand in the check-in line and be presented at the counter for check-in. We had checked-in online prior to our drive to Florida, speeding up our process a little, once at the counter. Over all, the line moved quickly and at the counter each group was given a boarding number. While we waited for the number to be called, we took pictures with the scale model of the ship & people-watched. From baggage handling to boarding took approximately an hour, but the time passed very quickly and the check-in process was very smooth. WELCOME TO THE DISNEY WONDER Disney has a special way of welcoming you onto the Wonder. First, you will have your photo taken with your group or family which can be purchased onboard (see PHOTOS later for more details). You enter the gangway though a giant set of mouse ears, greeted by a crew member with a microphone who will ask your last name. Then he or she will announce "Disney welcomes the (name) Family!!" as several other crew members cheer & applaud your arrival, as if they had been waiting there just for YOU to arrive. The first thing you notice, even if you aren't trying to, is the fact that there aren't Mickey Mouse's and Goofy's all over. The Disney Wonder is not, in any way "cartoony". It's tastefully decorated like a classic oceanliner. But if you really pay attention, you'll discover there are what we called, "Hidden Mickeys" all over. The shape of Mickey's head can be found in the elevator shaft dEcor and the stair rails, among other clever locations. The artwork throughout is amazing and the overall theme is Luxury, not Mickey & Minnie. We were directed upstairs to the Beach Blanket Buffet for lunch, as our stateroom were not yet ready. This was a process we were not expecting, but lunch was so fabulous, we didn't mind waiting to see our stateroom at all. Even with hundreds boarding the ship at a time, the buffet line was fast and finding a table on the deck was easy. The buffet was filled with fruit, sandwiches, salmon, several other main dishes and sides, and a variety of desserts. It was a terrific sampling that caused many passengers, including us, to say, "Wow, I wonder what's for dinner!" A word of caution about the Beach Blanket Buffet dining deck...When in port, there will be seagulls flying overhead just waiting for someone to walk away from their tray. A passenger near us DID walk away and returned to an empty tray. Since the buffet is all you can eat, its not a problem, just an inconvenience...but good for a chuckle! STATEROOM-MUSTER DRILL-BON VOYAGE PARTY By the time we finished lunch, our stateroom was ready. We were very excited about seeing it. We chose the Deluxe Family Stateroom with Navigator's Verandah. It was beautiful. We were pleased to see lots of drawer space and a generously sized closet. Our luggage had not yet arrived at our stateroom, a process that takes a few hours, at least. It was amazing to me that they were able to organize that many bags in the time they did. Please be prepared to see your bags arrive one-by-one...they will not arrive all at the same time but they will all arrive eventually. Clearly the best feature of our stateroom was the split-bathroom design. You'll see on the floorplans on the website, that in most rooms, there are basically two baths, kind of. One has a commode and sink and the other, a shower and sink. Add this to the mirrored vanity in the room and three people can get ready without being in each other's way. It was definitely a well-planned design that worked very well for the three of us. The bed & the fold out sofa my son slept on were very both comfortable. I cannot review our stateroom without mentioning the wonderful woman who took care of us each day and night...Monique. She provided adorable towel animals each night, kept our stateroom supplied with ice, turned down our beds and cleaned our stateroom. We never had to ask for anything, as anything we could possibly need was provided without any effort on our parts. We gave her an extra tip, in addition to the standard, due to her kindness, hard work and her efforts to make our vacation perfect. THANK YOU MONIQUE! If you haven't been on a cruise, you may not be aware that the ship's crew is required to run a mock evacuation/safety demonstration (Muster Drill). Just be glad they aren't required to test out the lifeboats each trip. This drill takes about a half hour, requires that you wear an ugly florescent orange life vest , but is a necessary delay of fun. Trying to avoid it only delays other passengers, so just go with the flow, have a sense of humor and get through the drill. The time of the drill & instructions will be announced on the intercom and on your in room television. Once the Muster Drill ends, passengers return their life vests to their staterooms and most gather on Decks Nine (the pool deck) & Ten (the deck that overlooks the pool) to enjoy a bon voyage drink (for a fee) and enjoy the embarkation party. Disney party includes entertainment by the Cruise Director, Crew Members and some special guests, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald and Daisy. During all the fun and dancing and singing, we were busy waving the family we left on land, as they had dinner on the patio of Fishlips Restaurant in Port Canaveral. It was a treat for them to see us off and take pictures of us waving bon voyage! DINNER-THEME NIGHT-DESSERT BUFFET-BREAKFAST-LUNCH One feature of Disney Cruiselines that I found to be a fabulous twist was "rotational dining". Typically you are seated at the same table, in the same dining room each night of your cruise. With Disney, you are assigned a wait staff, but are seated in one of three dining rooms nightly, with your wait staff following you from dining room to dining room. Parrot Cay has a Caribbean theme, Tritons is an "Under the Sea" themed dining room and Animators Palate is an dining experience like no other. In Animator's Palate, the room and everything in it (including the wait staff's uniforms) is black and white and very brightly lit when you arrive. You are surrounded by drawn images of Disney characters. You almost feel animated, yourself in this environment. During the course of your meal, a carefully choreographed music set becomes more active at times, as the lights dim a bit. You'll hardly notice the transformation unless you're watching for it. By dessert, the walls, the ceiling, and the uniforms worn by the staff are brightly colored, as if the "animator" has painted it while you enjoyed dinner. For details on how Disney made this happen and a million other tips on this cruise, I suggest watching the Disney Cruise special on the Travel Channel. They replay it quite often. We recorded it & watched the show about 20 times before sailing. In our 4-night cruise, our formal night was at Tritons, at which we also had a casual night. We chose the 8:30 dinner seating because we preferred to not cut our afternoons short to go get ready for dinner. This plan worked out beautifully. Our waiter & assistant waiter were fabulous. Their names were Roche and Rolly...nicknamed as a team, "Rock & Roll". They remembered our names and our drink preferences each night. My son, at the time was a little hesitant back then about trying new foods. They served him a steak, broccoli and baked potato each night. He was so very excited to have steak every night! Rolle even cut his steak for him each night. Although my son was capable, he enjoyed Rolle making jokes as he cut his steak. Rolle even fed him a bite while he cut. It was a nice touch & very comical. Everyone asks, "How was the food?" Well, the food was terrific, standing far above that of the finest restaurants I've been to. I am not an adventurous eater but I tried something new every night and was never disappointed. The portions were perfect, leaving us satisfied but never uncomfortably stuffed. The entire dining experience was delightfully delicious and altogether perfect. "Formal night" was not as formal as on some other ships. I don't recall seeing any tuxedos or evening gowns. I do suggest at least wearing suites with ties & a very nice dress. On this night, there is also a theme. Ours was Pirate Night. We were given pirate hats made of napkins to wear during dinner and our waitstaff was dressed in pirate costumes. After dinner, there was a dessert buffet on the pool deck that was so unimaginable that I feel I cannot do it justice with words. During this buffet, "Pirates of the Caribbean" was shown on the enormous TV on this deck. Breakfasts and Lunches are open seating with several options. We chose to have breakfast at the buffet each morning...a fabulous buffet to get our day started. PORTRAITS-PHOTOGRAPHY Throughout your cruise, you will be approached by photographers to pose for pictures. Don't be camera shy when they come around...it's well worth it when it comes time to buy prints. Right after dinner each night, we went to the photography gallery to search for ours. We found that they were very well organized and almost every shot was perfect. While we expected to buy a picture or two, I think we left the ship with at least 5 or 6. In addition to random shots by roaming photogs, there are also formal portrait seatings set up each evening. Some are Disney character-related for kids. The night we decided to have a portrait seating (which is free & worth standing in line for), the theme was "Barefoot". The photographs turned out very nice. coincidentally, the three of us all wore a shade of blue and posed sitting on an all white background barefoot. I highly suggest sitting for this portrait & like the other pictures, these can be purchased, copied, resized or added to a disk in the gallery. POOLS Another wonderful feature is the pool variety and the entire deck design. The pool deck, deck nine is separated into three completely different environments, each with its own freshwater pool: The Disney Wonder has a "Mickey" shaped pool for kids at one end, with a slide and a certain famous mouse's face at the bottom. I did notice a sign that children wearing diapers, pull-ups, or even swim diapers were not allowed in the pool. I have no idea how much this is enforced by the cruiseline, so I would ask ahead of time if I had small children. This pool is adjacent to the free refreshment area, a burger stand that offers much more than burgers, and the ice cream machine. In the middle of Deck nine is a "Goofy" family pool in the middle, which is sometimes covered to accommodate dancing or chairs for the nightly movie.. This pool is a simple rectangle. It isn't terrible large but is never seems to be overcrowded. We used this pool on our day at sea and, even then, with everyone on board, we did not feel crowded. This pool is surrounded by a pizza stand on one end and the video arcade on the other. There are also movies or Disney shows playin on the giant TV hanging above the deck, viewable from this pool. Beyond the family pool, you'll walk though a transition of space where even the music changes. This area is an adults only pool called Quiet Cove. It is complete with hot tubs, a beautiful pool and a bar. I highly recommend escaping to this pool with a tropical drink, even if just for a moment. We enjoyed relaxing in this area after a long day of walking Nassau. ENTERTAINMENT Each night, we went to the pre-dinner show at around 6:45. The shows were amazing. The performances were very impressive, even to my son. The younger children in house must have been thoroughly entertained because we weren't aware they were in the theatre until we walked out with them. In typical Disney fashion, they managed to mesmerize adults and children alike. As I write this, I am trying to claim a favorite and I simply cannot. I was completely impressed with each and every show. Other than the Broadway-like shows, we also went to a family oriented comedy show. It was short but cute. The comedian messed with my son a little, which was funny. NASSAU & CASTAWAY CAY Most of this section will be about Castaway Cay. I have now been to Nassau twice and consider it an excellent opportunity to spend the stop onboard the ship to enjoy its features while everyone is elsewhere. If I am ever on a cruise that goes to Nassau again, I do plan to go to Atlantis, probably the only worthwhile feature of the destination. With that said, if a stop in Nassau is your only way to visit Castaway Cay...embrace the time you spend there as a means to see Disney's private island...it's worth it! Castaway Cay is Disney's private island in the Bahamas. On the day we were to arrive there, my husband woke us up early so we could have breakfast and watch the ship dock on the island. As it turns out, we were seated for breakfast just in time to watch the ship take its spot right at the island's dock. From pictures on the website, we instantly identified that the family beach was the main point of view. It had rather still, crystal blue water. The white powdery sand was raked perfectly as if we were the first to step on this island. If you want to send family back home something special, I suggest you prepare some postcards to friends, family and to yourself (yes, to YOURSELF), take them to the little island Post Office and buy special Castaway Cay stamps. Your postcard will be postmarked from Castaway Cay and will arrive at their addressees in a couple of weeks. The Castaway Cay post office is located about 50 yards from the ship and only takes cash. You will be reminded several times that no cash is needed on the island but definitely take a few dollars to mail postcards. When we received our postcard at home that we wrote to ourselves, we had been home two weeks or so and were still in a vacation haze from our trip. Seeing the card in the mailbox sparked a special moment of tropical bliss as we remembered our experience. I realize how crazy that sounds, but wait...you'll see. Shortly past the post office is a shuttle stopping first at to the family beach, then the Teen beach and Serenity Bay, the Adult Beach. My son was not old enough to go to the Teen Beach so we stayed with him at the Family Beach the whole day. I would have loved to have seen the Adult Beach and will definitely see it next time. The Family Beach was wonderful. My son played "Survivor" on the in-water jungle gym as we floated on rented floats and tubes. These rentals were very reasonably priced and were for the entire day. We also purchased a soft cooler filled with ice and 6 non-alcoholic drinks of our choice for about $20, a great value considering the cooler had the Castaway Cay logo and was of great quality. Later in the day, we had arranged ahead of time to rent bikes to tour the island on our own. We picked from adorable sort of old-fashioned bikes and rode through the island, taking in its beauty. We did pass the Adult Beach and of what we could see, definitely serene..in fact, surprisingly empty. Lunch on the island was fabulous. The Beach Blanket Buffet on the ship closes and the same buffet, with a caribbean twist, is served on the island instead. We feasted on burgers, BBQ, salad, fruit, ice cream and listened to caribbean music. It was very enjoyable. On the island, we also bought t-shirts and found that most souvenirs were not outrageously prices as we expected. Some of the more attractive shirts were priced as low as $12-15. I don't mind admitting, that as our visit to Castaway Cay ended and we shuttled back to the ship, I had moments where I could have been convinced to give up my life back home to live, or even work on the island. Back on the ship, I couldn't help but gaze at the beautiful island and wish... When the ship pulls out of its dock at Castaway Cay, crew members who are staying behind to clean up and prepare for the next visitors stand on the dock and wave with giant Mickey Mouse hands, a very cute touch. LAST WORDS What I have written doesn't begin to cover our experience aboard the Disney Wonder. Not only do I recommend this trip, I highly encourage anyone and everyone to take this adventure. Large families, Couples without children, Extended families...anyone. After we came home, my parents-in-law & my sister-in-law with her family, immediately booked the same cruise, only with two stops at Castaway instead of Nassau. They also enjoyed the trip very much. There are other cruiselines where you'll spend a little less and, in a few cases, a lot less, for a family cruise. With that said, I can say it was worth every hard earned penny and we will certainly do it again in the future. Disney is launching two new ships over the next few years and we plan to be on at least one of them. I will soon be reviewing Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, now sailing from Port Canaveral, Florida. We set sail on this adventure, June 09. Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
I cruised on CARNIVAL MIRCLE in August 2007 It was the best time I had on my first cruise. I cruised with my then 14 yr old daughter. I figured it would have been nice for her and I to spend some mom and daughter time together. I was wrong ... Read More
I cruised on CARNIVAL MIRCLE in August 2007 It was the best time I had on my first cruise. I cruised with my then 14 yr old daughter. I figured it would have been nice for her and I to spend some mom and daughter time together. I was wrong she discovered some friends on board and that was it for me...So, I found my own fun the ship had so much to offer. I played bingo, when we weren't at the ports, and even then she wanted to leave me...However, the ships interior was beautiful including my room I was upgraded to the 8th floor from the 4th floor to a balcony room I was delighted. I didn't know what to do at first when I recived the confirmation in my email that I was on the 8th floor in a blacony room, I thought they made a mistake I was gonna call them and mention that they did something wrong. My mom told me it was a upgrade, so don't worry about it well I was Happy. Ok once on board my daughter and I were starving so we went up to the lido deck and grabbed some lunch which was delicious. My ship left from NY, so once on board we had the pleasure of reading that I ship will be diverted due to the HURRICANE that is happening in the carribean, so we ended up going to Turks and caicos instead of Pureto Rico. I didn't care where we went as long as we were going and I was on the ship...The staff on board were wonderful they were so friendly and a pleasure to chit chat with. Overall I had a good time the ship was very clean, My cabin was fixed up everyday with clean towels available for my daughter and myself. I will be sure to take another cruise on carnival. THANK YOU CARNIVAL FOR A GREAT TIME. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
As A 21 year old girl who frequently cruises with family and friends I thought it would be interesting to hear A review from someone who isn't exactly on a cruise to gain knowledge about the port or ship, but is there to have fun with ... Read More
As A 21 year old girl who frequently cruises with family and friends I thought it would be interesting to hear A review from someone who isn't exactly on a cruise to gain knowledge about the port or ship, but is there to have fun with family and friends, relax and party. The only two cruise lines I have traveled with is Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Personally, I prefer Carnival. For any family traveling with teens and young adults, Carnival is more fun. The staff and cruise line in general is more laid back and less strict when it comes to allowing teens into the casino and clubs past a certain time at night. When I was 14 I took a carnival cruise (Carnival Legend) and played in the casino and got into the club past the "teen" hours. The same thing happened when I was on A carnival cruise when I was 16 (Carnival Victory).  I looked older then I was, so maybe that helped get me in, but if you look really young, they'll ask for proof of age. Often times, me and my friend would walk in with people we met that were older and they never questioned us.    On Royal Caribbean I had just turned 18 and went with a friend who wasn't turning 18 for another two months. They gave her a hard time about going into the nightclub during the "adult" hours (past 11 pm I believe). To get around this, I would stand next to the guard and talk to them to distract them while we snuck her past security. It was so easy to get in if you look old enough. Royal Caribbean punches holes in your room key, 2 holes if your under 21 and 1 if your over 21. Thats how they no if you can order drinks, so unless someone else is putting the tab on their card, its really hard to get drinks.   Although Royal Caribbean is known for their bigger than life ships, I find carnival to be an overall better cruise. The food is amazing and there is no shortage of fun. On the cruises I've been on both lines seem to have many young adults but carnival truely is more of a "fun ship"   Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
This was my very first cruise back in 1997. I noticed that they didn't show the port we embarked at which was Puerto Rico nor was they year available but I was determined to see St. Lucia's Marigot Bay where they filmed the ... Read More
This was my very first cruise back in 1997. I noticed that they didn't show the port we embarked at which was Puerto Rico nor was they year available but I was determined to see St. Lucia's Marigot Bay where they filmed the 1960's version of 'Dr. Dolittle' with Rex Harrison (after attending 6 yrs of vet med and dreaming of becoming a doctor since I was 5 and when the movie came out...I was about 7 and knew it would be a veterinarian because of it lol.) We drove from New Orleans to Miami to visit family before we fly to Puerto Rico to board. This went well enough but living in Vegas for a year...my first impression was that it was as gaudy as the casinos :P No matter. It was about the ports of call and although I felt like a kindergartener getting off a bus for a field trip...I was pleased by all the different places you could see in a 1 or 2 weeks on these things! As bikers, we are used to a lot of freedom so being cramped in what we called a sardine can and having to dine at the same place at a certain time didn't appeal to us. Nor having to come in from play at certain times but all in all...the trip to St. Lucia with its Pitons, Harley rentals in Guadeloupe, and the spice island of Grenada (which also had a vet med there) was worth it (we didn't care for the us virgin islands or other places...we are rain forest, hiking trails, waterfall buffs. I had a beach house anyway so laying on a beach wasn't a vacation to me at that time). I didn't cruise again until last year. Twice. Now it will be twice this year! I am gaining more knowledge on how to use the ship's facilities, book my own excursions if they are sold out or have nothing appealing, make sure we are in a large balcony at minimum, and dining alternatives (although the busy carpeting is an eye sore lol) and realizing the value of these types of vacations!!!! You can't stay at the holiday inn down the road and eat at fast food joints for these prices!! And really....although bikers will say that it is all about the journey....sometimes I'd prefer to dig the destinations :))))) All in all...I wish I did these cruises more when I was younger. I am partial to carnival because of the king bed and a bit larger rooms but would like to try other ships. I believe for the value though...I'll always be loyal to Carnival :) Looking back now that I am older and wiser now Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
My wife, a vet of cruise lines, and myself and our 2 kids[ ages 14,16] went thru a painless Embarkation, and we were on board ship in the hurricane-ravaged port of Galveston for Thanksgiving week. My first impressions were this- ... Read More
My wife, a vet of cruise lines, and myself and our 2 kids[ ages 14,16] went thru a painless Embarkation, and we were on board ship in the hurricane-ravaged port of Galveston for Thanksgiving week. My first impressions were this- clean,tight ship,populated by extremely friendly and helpful waitstaff.Small cabins,on the bargain deal,was expected. They served their purpose,as we spent most of our time outside of them enjoying the food,which was excellent,and the entertainment,which was better than expected. I am a performer,musician,with a national release,so I was especially scrutinizing on that level. The food was always ready when it was supposed to be, the dining experience in the upper scale areas was handled fluidly by a warm,friendly waitstaff,and did not disappoint. We hit the Port of Progresso,and went to see the Mayan ruins just outside of town, a mere 35 minute drive. Our guide, Jose, was a genial fellow,personable,well- knowledged about his Mayan ancestry,and the ruins were beautiful,and worth the short trip,which fueled our ambitions to explore more ruins deeper inside Mexico in a future vacation. Folks,if you are shopping, BUY HERE! Seriously cheaper prices than our following day stop, which was Cozumel.40-60% price differences on some items. Cheaper alcohol,especially. Hit the small city for best deals. Cozumel was beautiful,as expected...the merchants friendly,helpful,and almost too much.We did zip-line and scuba combos, the kids loved it. Island dining was a recommendation we followed up on ,and were not disappointed with. The 3 rd night on our cruise offered up the best star-gazing I have seen in years,spectacular in scope. some areas I will now point out on ship- the gym was populated by a smart staff, and it offered up needed exercise to combat the influx of calories. The shops had friendly,attractive staff,and were always willing to chat about their hometowns,countries. The casino staff was as good as Vegas, the ever-watchful eye made sure it was legit,legal,and respectful. Drunk idiots were escorted out quickly, thank heavens. My wife is a card sharp, and she spent many hours at the Casino, and loved it. The drinks were great,though,we don't drink to get drunk,but to appreciate. Last day it was sad to leave. It was quick,painless to go through customs. only negative comment would be directed to the paying clientele,some of whom were destined for the gaol. My experience overall was an emphatic Yes to wanting to do this again, we plan on hitting this at least once a year, but likely twice a year. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
I will write a quick review from our cruise over the New Years week on the Norwegian Star. The cruise was on the "Mexico Riviera" route and included stops in Cabo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. We had an extended family of 10 ... Read More
I will write a quick review from our cruise over the New Years week on the Norwegian Star. The cruise was on the "Mexico Riviera" route and included stops in Cabo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. We had an extended family of 10 from ages 8 to 82 that included first time cruiser, occasional cruisers as well as experienced cruisers. Overall, everyone had a terrific cruise and we all found the Norwegian Star to be first rate. The food was terrific, the staff was awesome and there were very few negatives from the cruiseEmbarkation: took us about 30 minutes. There was a long line to register, but it moved pretty quickly and once through the initial line, the rest of the waits were minimal. We had about 1 hour on the ship before our rooms were ready, but the buffet was available and we enjoyed exploring the ship, hitting some golf balls and playing a quick game of ship deck chess. Staff: From the minute we got on the ship and throughout the cruise, the staff was terrific. They were especially fond of the 4 kids 11 and under and helped them have a great cruise. The staff was all very friendly and we only met a couple that did not seem to enjoy talking and joking around. Food: We all though the food was great. We ate at Aqua and Versailles for all of our dinners and typically the buffet or blue lagoon for lunch and the buffet or Aqua for breakfast. We originally were planning to pay for some dinners at the specialty restaurants but found the food at Versailles and Aqua to be so good that we chose not to go to a specialty restaurant. Versailles was especially nice for early dinners close to the back windows at sunset. The variety of the dinners was excellent. The buffet was very good for buffet food and we did not mind the same breakfast menu each morning since there was a lot of different options. The only issue with Versailles was that there was too much time between courses and the dinner usually took 2 hours.Staff: The staff was terrific. They were all very friendly and available for all of our needs. Entertainment: This was GREAT. Paul Scalley, the cruise director did a great job as host and kept the mood lively. The entertainment was top notch. The only thing I did not think was great was the Second City over 18 show. It was as if there were trying to be raunchy since it was an over 18 show, when in fact, they were much funnier in the family shows. The Art experts had excellent education events and fun auctions. Everyone had a lot of fun with the variety of art events they hosted. Ports: Cabo - we just took a water taxi to Medano beach and then to Lover Beach, which was quick, easy and fun. You are not in Cabo long, so this worked out well. Some of our group did the bus tour to Todos Santos, which they were not thrilled with since it is a long bus ride and not much of a destination. Mazatlan: We went to the north side of Mazatlan for horseback riding with Ginger's horses which was fun. We rented a car and driver for the day at the port for $150 for all 10 of us and he took us on a tour as well as up to the horses and back. Mazatlan is not a great destination and definitely far behind Cabo and PV for a stop. PV - We did the Wildlife adventures tour to see Humpback whales and also swim with the wild dolphins. This was a great tour and definitely the best tour of the trip for us. Then we spent some time on the beach and in downtown PV, on the boardwalk which is very nice and feels more like Manhattan Beach, CA than Mexico. PV was a terrific stop and it was great that we had the most time there. Ship: I felt the ship was in good shape. The only issues were the water slides at the pool were VERY slow and not that much fun for kids. They were also closed quite a bit. The main pool is also very small and is salt water, which our kids do not like much. So because of these two things, our kids - who are typically big swimmers - did not want to use the pool much at all. The hot tubs were nice and rarely too crowded to use. I never felt over crowded on the ship even though we were at a peak time with a full ship. Kids club: The kids club staff was great, but the room was very small and was just a normal room - not customized for kids. It was hit or miss for our kids - at times they loved and at times they were bored - depending on the schedule. We also have one daughter who was 10 in 10 days, but was not allowed in with the 10 - 12 year olds, so had to stay with the 6 - 9 years olds, which made kids club much less fun so she did not go after the first night. Overall, I HIGHLY recommend the ship, staff and itinerary. It was a GREAT cruise and Paul Scalley and the rest of the staff, entertainment and chefs really made for an excellent vacation for all of us. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
Valor Eastern Sailing Date 12-28 Pre-embarkation. Stayed at Embassy Suites near airport, booked over 6 months prior to cruise. Was hugely disappointed in the Embassy Suites and cannot honestly recommend it at all. Carpeting in the ... Read More
Valor Eastern Sailing Date 12-28 Pre-embarkation. Stayed at Embassy Suites near airport, booked over 6 months prior to cruise. Was hugely disappointed in the Embassy Suites and cannot honestly recommend it at all. Carpeting in the suite was filthy. After DD walked on the floor for about half an hour, the soles of her feet were nearly black. Turning off the shower made an LOUD hammering noise. Maintenance didn't seem concerned enough to come check it out. Was initially told, when booking this place, that parking for cruise patrons was free. It was not. Found out we would be charged 10 dollars per day. Was told that the shuttle to POM was free for guests. Nope. Add another 30, plus 30 for return trip from POM to retrieve car. Add in gratuities for bell service, and shuttles, the cost was more than parking at POM ($ 140). And, had we parked at POM, we could have been on the road much sooner. Embarkation. Easy as pie. Took about 40 minutes from drop off to entering the gangway. Porters were quick to offload the shuttled bags and take to drop off for Valor. Porters were grateful for tips. Embarked at 12:30 and headed to Rosies and Fish and Chips. Spent the afternoon showing DD (her first cruise) around the ship and orienting her as to where our cabin was, Camp Carnival, etc. Bags arrived by 2 and we went into cabin then. 90 days prior to cruise, we emailed Carnival for special dietary needs for DD, and to ensure refrigerator for her meds. At cabin, finally got into the minibar/fridge, but had no room because of soda's and beer. Removed beer and sodas and placed on counter top, used fridge for meds. Got charged for a bottle of water that mysteriously was unsealed. Note to self. Next time, have steward remove all items from fridge immediately. Cabin steward was ok. Previous Valor cruise, same itinerary, the steward was like Antonio, the butler in the movie, Mr. Deeds. Not in the sneaky-sneakiness department, although he always seemed to be in the hallways when we were coming in or going out. He was always there to help. This time, cabin was kept clean, etc and serviced efficiently. But, there seemed to be no desire to connect with us as guests, by the steward. Ship appearance. Immaculate. Was always being cleaned, polished. Dining: late seating, Washington ballroom. Food was excellent, and service was good. Vishnu and his assistant, Michael went to great lengths to keep the table happy. Table mates: Couple with their 8 yr old son from Fl, We three. DD made dinner most nights. After first night, we were joined by a delightful Mom and her precious daughter from Virginia. We had a extended family table by third night. Menu was good, portions were great. As previously mentioned, we notified CCL in advance of specific dietary needs for DD. Agnetha, in the DR gave us the next days menu's at dinner, so we could preorder for daughter. She went out of her way to make DD happy. Can't brag enough about how they extended themselves for DD. Rosies was always good. Fish and Chips excellent. Mongolian grill at lunch incredible, with Mr. Huang cooking. Deli..indescribably delicious. With as much meat as they put in sandwiches, I'm certain there's going to be a corned beef and pastrami shortage soon. Celebrated DW's birthday in Scarlett's. Food was good. Atmosphere felt crowded with tables placed too closely together and the place was never more than half full. Props to the Scarlett;s hostess for enduring a verbal blasting from 4 ill mannered people, complaining that they had been allowed to wear jeans in the supper club on the Liberty, that they were platinum cruisers, and wouldn't sail CCL again (I hope not, as they really showed their rear ends.) Older couple just being mouthy, younger couple with wife using language and tone that made me, (ex-military) embarrassed for the hostess. If you google the word "A** wipes", I'm fairly sure their picture will be found on the first page. Husband dressed in jeans and a biker shirt. Most definitely inappropriate for Scarlett's, or even the DR. FWIW, DW and I ride motorcycles, so it's not a case of class warfare, here. They were just showing no class at all. Ports of call Nassau....no excursion, just walked into town to see Pirates Museum and see old friend Captain Blah Blah, who is featured on the Nassau pirates excursion info on the cabin tv info channel. Took DD to straw market, also. Constantly yelled at by vendors to braid child's hair, buy this, buy that. St. Thomas. Excursion through CCL for parasailing. Met outside the ship dock area, got into boat, family of 5 and us 3. Our DD went up with both DW and me. We all had at least 12 minutes in the air. Boat named "Holy Chute"..great crew of two. They offer excellent photo's, as their camera is better than the one we had. They sell you the memory card. I recommend that they add a motion video component. Pics were GREAT. Shopped at Havensight. St. Martin. Excursion through CCL for around the island tour. Will not repeat. Dutch side is pretty, good shopping. French side seemed 3rd world as compared to Dutch side. Most shops were closed as it was January 1. 4 ships in port, so some shops open. Ship entertainment: Comedians were not really hot. Seemed like they had just gotten of the "who wants to be a comedian on a cruise ship" line. One was comical. None was gut splitting funny. Best non musical entertainment was Tejas, the dining room magician. Simply outstanding and mystifying card tricks. Musical was ok. Karaoke was fun. Karaoke singers selected for the "Legends" show were good. Stage shows are revealing their age and need revamping. Chris Jefferson was the CD, and kept things going. Special shout out to Amy, the Social Director who is simply, FABULOUS! Camp Carnival: great staff, and activities. DD's transition into a experienced cruiser made easy by the staff. DD made some good friends aboard. Disembarkation. Cattle call because people with higher numbers for debark came earlier than called for. We had # 11. Got up and went to breakfast, enjoyed leisurely breakfast in comfy seats. First time all cruise that deck chairs were available, and not taken over by chair hogs. Debarkation/customs/luggage took 15 minutes once you got off the ship. Customs was a breeze. Lindy Hop/Piano bar was advertised as no smoking. Don't believe it. Smoke and odor kept us out of there. Should consider 1 more port of call, in lieu of three sea days. Consider alternating between Nassau and San Juan, PR. Formal/elegant night. More tuxedoes than I thought, after reading the back and forth about denim and elegant nights. 2 formal nights on this itinerary. I wear tux, DW dresses accordingly. Tuxedoes garnered attention. Too many tshirts at dinner. Thankfully no wife beater shirts in DR. Scarlett's upholding their dress code-YAY!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
We have had a family cruise before on the Elation (our first one during the infamous Valentines day storm of 2007). We decided to do it again to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary year. Due to College and organized sports schedules, ... Read More
We have had a family cruise before on the Elation (our first one during the infamous Valentines day storm of 2007). We decided to do it again to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary year. Due to College and organized sports schedules, we needed to book it January 3rd and keep the younger kids out of school. We flew to Tampa a couple of days before due to the problems we almost encountered with delayed and cancelled flights the trip before. We were traveling with two adults, two 19 year olds, two 16 year olds, one 14 and one 12 year old. We cruised before, so we new what to do. We took a paid shuttle, reasonable price for the 9 of us $140.00, round trip from motel to port and then port to airport, with the number of us he gave us a deal! The porters took our luggage, and from past experience we did not tip the workers, as they are employees of the port and should not be tipped. We got to port fairly early so we could embark early, we wanted to enjoy ourselves every minute of this trip. We did the fun pass prior to traveling to Tampa, the passports were with the fun passes, etc. It took us about 10 minutes to register all 8 of us, my niece registered herself. We sat a few minutes, realized they were calling groups to load the boat, well, we entered the line and even though it was not our group, we left anyhow, they took us right on the ship. We entered the lido deck and had a buffet lunch with the other 5 family members we met there. You are allowed to bring a limited amount of your own drinks aboard, sealed,I believe one per adult, so we had 3 bottles of wine to enjoy over the next several days. We opened the first on the lido deck. The kids explored after lunch. We were able to enter our rooms about 130pm. Our luggage was there. My daughters one bag lost its tag along the way and we had to obtain it later in the day from the information desk. Of note, my mother in law was in a wheelchair due to her walking difficulty, the staff escorted her the entire embarking process and up to the lido deck. The kids went up to the lido deck, my husband and I took the tour of the ship at 2pm. Smitty, the fun ship team member was very funny and showed us the layout. He was very good at helping us understand the spacial layout on the ship between what is always found in what areas, aft, midship and forward. Before leaving port, we had the lifeboat drill, very informative, seemed however to drag on for a while, I think it was because there were people not following directions and that slowed the process down. Even a new bride and groom, in gowns and tux showed up like they were supposed to. What a site, a life vest on a gowned bride. What a memory! We were looking forward to our first dining room experience. We always book the early seating, as we like the evening shows and my husband and mother go to the casino. We ate in the Carnivale dining room, our waiter Sarwar from India, what a pleasant, professional and extremely friendly staff person. He was obviously very comfortable with what he was doing. My husband ordered several appetizers and entree's. We all sampled each others, as our family always does. The food was very delicious. I have read several review's stating that the food was horrible, I cannot understand why. My kids tried several things that were new to them, one my daughter really did not like, Sarwar got her the other entree. All you have to do is tell someone, and they make it very right. My sister in law has celiac's disease, she registered that on her fun pass and each night at the diningroom, the dietician came and had her order the next meals dinner and she tailored it to her dietary needs. My strong belief, if you take the efforts to communicate your needs, others will make the effort to accommodate. I am sure if someone is diabetic, the carb or calorie content can be calculated for you. I have found Carnival very accommodating to people with special needs. We had George the Greek as the Maitre d', he was entertaining, but you can tell he was very programmed after working in that field for over 40 years. We had 13 in our group, tables hold only about 8, therefore he placed an extra table on our table so we all could sit together. He has trained his staff in that dining room very well. The serving was very professional. Each time we saw either our waiter, assistant waiter, or George the Greek throughout our travels aboard ship, they all stopped, said hello and called us by name. This trip we ate breakfast in the diningroom a couple of mornings instead of the Brasserie buffet. That was enjoyable. The menu was the same each day, but if you wanted the service, and other items not included in the buffet, it was nice. The Brasserie buffet was also the same everyday, but it still had a large variety. We took in the Welcome Aboard show, that was okay, Not quite what I expected. We watched some of the comedians, some were good, some borderline, the shows were good, the Last night show, "Fiesta La Tina" I believe it was called, was fantastic. Over the 5 nights, we got to meet many people who fill many rolls. The cruise director, Filipe, was very nice, my husband spoke to him about getting a tour of the communications room, as he has a ham radio license, is an examiner, holds the highest license, is a civil air patrol and red cross volunteer, he really is interested in that stuff. Filipe said he would ask the captain, but it may not be possible due to the increase in homeland security. He followed up with us and stopped us in the hallways and called us by name the entire trip. My husband never got the tour, but at least we felt he made an effort to get one. We had two fun days at sea, nice weather on the first fun day at sea. We sat on the deck, relaxed, read, etc, most of the day. The Inspiration has the Serenity deck, we took in some of that too. Despite booking the trip during usual school time, the pool was a little too crowded. The hot tubs also. I found on Lido, the hot tubs were full of kids. The Serenity was better to get into. Both the lido and the serenity music was a little to loud. I however know we had a large amt of older clients this trip and I often heard them say it was too quiet. The day in Grand Cayman was beautiful! We did the reef and shipwreck snorkel. None of us have snorkeled before, our guides were funny, helpful and very encouraging, a fun time was had by all. They even provided a cooler of ice to keep our drinks we brought with us cold. We paid about $44 each and found it worth the trip, cannot wait to see the pictures. We walked about Grand Cayman and went back to the boat by midday. (8-2pm was the docked time). Although the food is safe on the islands, due to budgeting for our large group, we went cheap and ate on the ship whenever we could.As for Cozumel, we just walked around, shopped, hit Senor Frogs, (our group split up). Where we docked at port, it was a cab fare to Senor Frogs and the main shopping mall. $7.00, each way. The roads are horrible, bumpy and dangerous. I would not want to walk it. I stayed with my Mother and pushed the wheelchair. We often felt as though we were being harassed by the people at the stands in Cozumel. Everyone wanted the American money. We were off ship about 2 hours, that was all my Mother could stand. After a frozen margarita at a local spot, we all returned to the boat. Very easy process with the correct identification. The last fun day at sea was nice but cold, we had a spot of rain and winds, cleared me off the deck, I like the warmth! Overall, we met some very special staff. Our waiter was great, he spoke with us often. We give the cruise ship staff credit, they are away from their families for long periods of time and their friendliness does not reflect some element of sadness being so far away from their families. Everyone smiled and greeted. I always say thank you and hello as I roam around the ship. We had the opportunity to speak at length with a Dancer. He spoke of how the cruise line had strict rules, but none of them were unfair. They were allowed to go to the hot tubs on their off time. He said the staff is happy with how they are treated. I give the cruise line kudo's for providing a positive environment for their staff. They all do seem very happy, it is reflected everyday with their interaction with cruisers. Through both my cruises, I noticed that noone was competitive with each other, they all work as a family and team. Our rooms were immaculate, always picked up. I find it amazing that with our strange comings and goings how the steward and staff know when we leave our room, when to replace the towels and open the beds. We were very lucky, we were invited to the Captains Cocktail party, the previous cruiser cocktail party. Free drinks and food. They were nice. We wanted to win a free cruise, no such luck. I did win a free DelSol bag at one of the shopping informative sessions. The photographers were great. We had a wonderful photographer who took the pictures on formal night for the 13 of us, then split us in families. She did a great job. Thanks. I think the photographers should offer a discount on the pictures if ordered in a group. I had such a large group, if I was able to get the pictures I really wanted, it would cost about $500, who can afford that these days. Now for the not so positive comments.... There was too much drinking done on board. I know that is how the ship makes money, and some people have to have fun only when drinking. Not a great example for the kids. There were waiters everywhere asking if we want a drink, a simple no thank you worked. Sometimes if I was in a conversation, a hand up worked well. The pictures were taken all over the ship plus the ones we took. A little overwhelming at times. People like Bingo, I found bingo to be expensive and out of reach for me. The sales pitches throughout the ship make everything seem like gold. I never met my room steward, I would have liked to have met him. I met his assistant. My other family members had the steward knock on the door to introduce himself. We had the gratuity taken off two rooms as they were minor children. Perhaps that is why. Disembarking was horrible. NOT like our last time. The non-US citizens need to go through immigration first. That is US law. The people needed to follow those directions. It held up everyone else from leaving the ship. We did self assist as our flights were not going out until 6pm. We wanted to stay on the ship as long as we could. About 930am my husband had enough and wanted to leave. Empress disembarking floor was packed, and I as the last in my group could not get out of the elevator. I rode the elevator up and down about 4 times. I went up one floor, carried my suitcase down one flight and joined the rest of my group. I think if we were to wait until our zone was called to leave, it would have been better. I would avoid Cozumel and Grand Cayman if you want beach scene only, both you need to sign for excursions to take in a beach. Overall, you get out of a cruise what you put in. Research, read, learn before you go. Prepare and plan your days. Review the Carnival Capers daily events, circle the ones you want to do. Review the layout cards found at the information desk and plan how long it takes to get from your diningroom to the Paris Lounge, etc. Always speak up if you don't like something, they want everyone to leave very happy, they will go beyond the call of duty to make it that way. If you don't like the food, tell them, they will make it right. If you have allergies or special needs, they do not read minds. Communication is a necessary component in satisfaction. I cannot wait to go again!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
First, the ship is immaculate. I had no complaints about any smells, broken ACs, or anything else. The ship itself is pretty. It is not as "out there" as other Carnival ships in terms of decor, which some people may like better. ... Read More
First, the ship is immaculate. I had no complaints about any smells, broken ACs, or anything else. The ship itself is pretty. It is not as "out there" as other Carnival ships in terms of decor, which some people may like better. I thought the nicest rooms were the Universe Dining Room, the Casino, the Atrium, and the Criterion Lounge. Some rooms were not my taste, like the Point After Disco which looked like someone ate the Bacchus Restaurant on the Miracle and then spit it out (pepto bismol pink everywhere). However, once the lights are off in the disco, you don't notice it and it certainly doesn't stop you from having a good time. Our waiters were Deden and Noel, and they were one of the (if not, the) best wait staff I have ever had on ay cruise. Anything from our food, to providing seasickness remedies (eat an apple!), to making us laugh and making us feel at home, they were the perfect team. Our room steward was Sudy. He was almost hidden! We saw him maybe once a day from far away, but other than that he would do a great job at cleaning our stateroom and he would put everything in order. Bar waitress Yuliya was great. I never usually see my bar waitress during dinner after she brings my drink. It is usually hard to get refills or order something else. On this cruise, Yuliya was always around and very sweet. Always had my soda waiting for me at the table. Coincidentally, Yuliya was also a bar waitress at the casino and my family was in the casino A LOT. We saw Yuliya there every night, and she was as sweet and efficient even though she was busier. The staff overall on the ship was one of the best I have sailed with. Not one person was ever is a bad mood (or showed that they were). The casino staff was wonderful, the entertainment staff made people have a good time, and the purser's went out of our way to help. I had an extra charge on my S&S on the last day, and they worked with me patiently to fix it. The Destiny staff truly made the cruise as enjoyable as it was, and this is one reason why we prefer Carnival to RCCL. Another reason we prefer Carnival is the food. WOW! The food was outstanding. I hear the Lido Buffet is typical buffet food but I wonder what kind of buffet's people eat! Buffet's I eat at do not include as much variety where you want to eat everything and physically cannot. I learned that you need to take a little of everything just to taste it. the buffet is great because there are always safe and delicious options (deli, pizza, burgers, chicken tenders) that you are more than willing to eat if nothing else grabs you. However, that never happened. This week we were reminded why we take the late seating. We eat enough at the buffet at lunch that we are not hungry until 8pm. The dining room food was even better. Every night it was difficult to make a decision and I was never disappointed with what I ordered (and usually there is a night or two where I am). I am not a fan of lobster, but I ordered one anyway to say I did. It wasn't bad! And my sisters loved it. Steak was always delicious, and the pasta dishes were excellent. I never order pasta dishes because I figure I can get most of them at home, but I am very glad I did. I got lasagna bolognese one night and grilled chicken with fetuccini alfredo and they were both very tasty. The one thing I was not a fan of food wise was the dessert menu. They have 3 choices each night and most nights none of them appealed to me and usually I want them all. However, Carnival knows how to fix this problem. Every night they offer the warmc chocolate melting cake, and it is to die for! So good job to Carnival for knowing what people love and making it available! Ports: We went to Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios last year with RCCL, so the ports were not the reason we opted for this cruise. Still, the ports were nice and we had decent weather. In Ocho Rios it was slightly overcast and rain for 15 minutes, but it was refreshing. In Grand Cayman we went to Sting Ray City (even though we have been to Grand Cayman three or four times, my sisters never did it!). We booked with Mobey Dick Tours and had a great time. This excursion was much better than the sting ray excursion I did through the boat with my parents one cruise. There are less people on the boat, and the guides are very knowledgeable and friendly. In addition to seeing the stingrays, we learned about the stingray history and biology as well as the true story behind Steve Irwin. They also take you snorkeling by the reef which was nice. However, if you never snorkeled before you may run into problems sine they just give you the mask and flippers. I am sure if you ask them for help though, they will. While snorkeling we saw a 3 1/2 foot amore eel emerge from his coral cave, which freaked us all out at first. Our guide, however, said it is nothing to worry about. He then put fins on, went into the water, and fed the eel. He then grabbed ahold of it and let us touch it. You can't get that with an excursion through Carnival! In Ocho Rios we chose the Tranopy tour (bobsled/zipline/pool) at Mystic Mountain. It was fun but a very big tourist trap and would probably never do it again. You take a 15 minute ski-lift up 700 feet into the rain forest. This is nice since you can see the ship on the way up as well as some wildlife if you're lucky. But since you need to take it up and down a few times, it gets boring and repetitive. Once you get off the lift, there is the bobsled ride. This is basically like a rollercoaster with a lot of twists and turns. It was fin, but only lasts about 2 minutes. After that, you go on the canopy tour, which was also fun but kind of short. There are 5 lines, 1 bridge, and a "surprise." We ad a good time but we had a better time at Dunn's River Falls the year before. Overall, we LOVED this cruise, the ship, the crew, the food, the sun, the activities, and cannot wait to get back on board with Carnival. If you have any other questions, just ask! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
This was an amazing cruise! It was our second time with NCL and our 4th cruise. We stayed at La Pavilion the night before the cruise, it was a elegant fancy hotel with a rooftop pool and hot tub and PB&J at 10:00. We checked out ... Read More
This was an amazing cruise! It was our second time with NCL and our 4th cruise. We stayed at La Pavilion the night before the cruise, it was a elegant fancy hotel with a rooftop pool and hot tub and PB&J at 10:00. We checked out the French Quarter and had early dinner at Hard Rock Cafe, the food was pretty good, but we found Bourbon Street and the rest of the french quarter inappropriate for our children (nude ladies in windows, signs for "Big Ass Buckets of Beer" so we didn't stay for long Embarkation: We packed fairly lightly compared to some other people we saw, so we got to the lines quickly. the staff were quick and we got through the whole thing in 20 minutes because we were latitude members and got to skip the long lines. When we got on the ship we were offered free fruit juices and wine. Dining: We ate at Windows for dinner every night and almost every day for lunch, i don't know what other people are talking about the food was delicious and the staff were amazing! The kids went to Raffles for breakfast and lunch bythemselves, we went once for lunch and breakfast - for breakfast there is your typical food eggs, omelets, cereal, pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, bagels etc, and for lunch there is salad, pizza, pasta, carving, vegetarian selection, meats, soups and a deli counter. The Bier garden had hamburgers and mashed potatoes and unfortunately we only figured out that Henry's Pub had soft pretzels and popcorn on the last day. Blue Lagoon was a comfort food restaurant, it was usually busy, we only went once for french fries and hot dogs. For christmas at window's for dinner we had turkey and mashed potatoes and yule logs for dessert - delicious! We missed the Chocoholic buffet because we were too tired Entertainment: The Second City was funny, the Broadway and radio shows were okay and the magician was excellent! The christmas show was good too, the Kids Club did a performance. The Ship: the pools were usually packed and at night the hot tubs were very popular, we only went swimming once, there is an Asian theme and the whole ship had christmas trees and big ginger bread houses around. The Cabin: On the small side but cozy, our TV had problems, the bathroom was good, an actual shower instead of a curtain shower, our kids had a connecting room and their bed needed to be separated into two, we got an egg foam pad so our bed was really nice. Our stewards - Jovito and Herbert are amazing!!! They were always on time and made a variety of towel animals for us. Disembarkation: We used express, a LOT faster, had dinner at Window's at around 8:30 and we got off the ship at around 9:30. It was surprisingly fast and only took us 10 minutes!!! We loved this vacation, and the bad reviews are very untrue. It is an amazing ship and the staff are wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
We traveled with 13 family members ranging from 1 - 81 years old! We flew from Logan Airport (Boston) to San Juan a day early to avoid snow delays. We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel (priceline $150), this hotel is beautiful and is ... Read More
We traveled with 13 family members ranging from 1 - 81 years old! We flew from Logan Airport (Boston) to San Juan a day early to avoid snow delays. We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel (priceline $150), this hotel is beautiful and is located right on the beach. We arrived at the ship at 11:30 and had absolutely no wait to get on board. Very smooth check in. Our immediate family of four (2 boys, 9 and 11 years) stayed in a junior suite on deck 10, very convenient to the Windjammer and the Kids Adventure Club. This was our 3rd cruise, the first one on a Radiance class of ship. We enjoyed this ship more than the Adventure and the Explorer due to the smaller passenger capacity and the beautiful woodwork and many glass windows. The ship never seemed crowded due in part to the five port days. Every day was sunny and hot, the weather cooperated perfectly. We had early dinner at 6pm and the service and food was excellent. The food surpassed our expectations in comparison to our 2 previous cruises. The staff was very friendly and helpful. We played roulette most nights in the casino, and enjoyed talking to the dealers about the ports and the best places to go. Four of the children went to the Kids Adventure Club and they really enjoyed it. The staff was fun and the kids couldn't wait to go. Here is what we did in port: St Thomas: took a cab to Megan's Bay ($8 per person, plus a $4 admission)and then downtown shopping. We set up a time for the cab driver to return for us. (when you get off the ship, we purchased some bottle waters to bring with us ($1 each), cheaper than buying at the beach. We ate at the beach restaurant, the food was very good. St. Maarten: took a cab to Orient Beach, rented chairs, ate ice cream for lunch at the beach, and then downtown shopping. Again we had our cab driver return for us. Antigua: I wish we had gone to the beach, but the kids needed a break. We walked around in town, right where the ship is located. The kids were uncomfortable with some of the aggressive locals so we returned to the ship after 90 minutes. St. Lucia: upon the advice of cruise critic, we signed up for the Cosol tour. It was wonderful and as good as everyone had said it would be. Price was $65 per adult and $45 per child under 11. For more info on this tour, look up St.Lucia in the port of call boards. The children said this was their best day in port due to the tour. Barbados: we took a taxi to Harrison's Cave and then to the Boatyard Beach. Taxi price was $20 PER PERSON to go to the caves and then the beach. The driver waited for us while we toured the caves. The tour was good, and the kids did enjoy it. Admission price was $20 per adult, $10 for kids,so it did get pricey to go there. I would avoid the Boatyard Beach unless you are in your 20's. I had regretted going there since it is not really a family beach, however the kids did enjoy the water trampoline, ice berg and rope swing. The beach is noisy with names being called for lunch orders over the pa system, loud music and girls dancing on the bar. But the water and sand were clean and the water was nice. The $15 admission price got you a chair, drink coupon and a ride back to the ship. The food ordered was very good. For entertainment we saw the Vibe-ology show, which was very good. Other family members said the comedy show was good. Disembarkation was a breeze, we were off the ship by 8:40 and we were in the second airline group. We used the airport valet service ($20 per person), so our bags were taken right to the airport. Since our flight was at 2:45pm, we could freely walk around San Juan without our bags to fill up our time before our flight. The cruise was perfect and I would recommend it to anyone! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
Overall, we had a fabulous time. The vacation had me at 85 degrees. Walking around in shorts, while it was freezing at home was heaven. We are 3 experienced cruisers, me(37), DH(41), and DD(4). The adults have been on Carnival, Royal ... Read More
Overall, we had a fabulous time. The vacation had me at 85 degrees. Walking around in shorts, while it was freezing at home was heaven. We are 3 experienced cruisers, me(37), DH(41), and DD(4). The adults have been on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Norwegian. Pre-cruise hotel Flying in on Friday my daughter started running a fever. By the time we got to the Marriott Stellaris, she was miserable, so we called a doctor suggested by the hotel. The MD came in a couple of hours, diagnosed strep and we ran across the street to Walgreens for zithromax. As a result, we saw very little of the hotel outside our room. However, we were happy with our room and the MD. The ship The Summit is a very elegant ship, easy to navigate, with appealing public rooms. For its age, the ship is in great shape. The only maintenance issues we noticed were some mushy spots under the carpet entering the Cosmopolitan dining room and our cabin bathroom needed some refreshment. Entertainment A highlight of the cruise for us. We really enjoyed the band that played in the Rendevous lounge, while we had pre-dinner drinks. The production shows seemed a cut above the shows we've seen on other ships. I think having 5 singers really bolstered the quality of the shows. My DD was absolutely mesmerized by the singing and dancing. I missed the pianist, but the comedic juggler was very fun. The cabin We were in 6026, which, although it is not apparent on the ship diagram, has a larger than average balcony. A very nice feature, as the standard balcony is tiny! However, we were so busy on the cruise we didn't get to enjoy the balcony as much as we wanted to. The cabin itself felt a little tight, though the bathroom shower did seem a little bigger than usual. Very quiet location, we never heard any noise at night. Pascoal, our steward, took good care of the room and was very unobtrusive. Food We enjoyed the food in the Waterfall Cafe and Aqua Spa. The ship had a great selection of fruits and breads. I especially enjoyed the papaya (usually in the Aqua Spa). We also ate waffles every morning. Yummy! Be sure to get them fresh off the griddle, they lose a lot if they sit in the warmer. We never waited in line for more than a minute or two at any meal. Food in the Cosmopolitan was a little hit or miss. However, they were very accommodating about bringing out another entrEe or making any switches. Dinner in the Normadie was fantastic! Definitely, a highlight of the cruise. Ports Busy, busy, busy! In St Maarten we did a snorkeling trip through Captain Alan. The weather was not ideal, we had some rain and the water was murky, but we still had a blast. Captain Paul took us out with his wife Carol, both were a lot of fun, very warm and welcoming. We coordinated with some others on our roll call (Hi, Bin and Mom, Jun and Jen), so we only had 7 on the boat ($420 for all of us, plus $60 for taxi, round trip). We just did some souvenir shopping in Dominica, most of the excursions were adventure oriented and not really appropriate for a 4 yo. In Grenada, we took a water taxi ($4 per person, one way) to Grand Anse Beach. We rented two chairs and an umbrella ($15) and played in the sand and water. Full service beach with lots of people eager to bring drinks, braid your hair, or sell some spices. A very fun day. In Tobago, we went to Pigeon Point (taxi $20 each way up to 4 people). We rented two chairs ($4), lots of free shade. Great beach, we took a glass bottom boat ride ($15 per person) to Buccoo Reef and Nylon Pool. Also a full service beach, but be careful with your currency. Prices are listed in Tobagan dollars, make sure you ask for the price in U.S. dollars (roughly 5 Tobagan dollars to 1 US dollar). Port taxis also charge much higher prices than other, non-port taxis. In Barbados, we went out with Captain Jason on Shasa Catamaran ($70 per adult, $35 per kid, transport included). Awesome! We were under windpower the whole time, incredibly peaceful. We were the first boat to arrive at the turtle spot, so we were swarmed with hungry, friendly turtles. There were only 11 of us on the boat, four from our roll call (Hi, Jill, Charlie, Carol, and Dennis). My overall port advice... Be sure to bring lot of cash if you're not doing all your excursions through the ship, everybody prefers or requires cash. It's also a good idea to have lots of small bills, most places expect you to bargain and it's hard to keep to a lower price if you don't have correct change! Fitness Center I went 6 times on the cruise and still managed to gain two pounds! But, I don't think I can blame it on the gym. The gym had lots of treadmills and elliptical machines, plus other assorted cardio equipment. Most had their own tvs, so bring ear buds if you like to watch tv while you work out. There were also a lot of nautilus-type machines and a small free weights section. Embarkation and disembarkation Embarkation was very easy. We arrived at 12:30 and walked right on. For disembarkation we spent some time sitting around the ship before our group was called at 9:45. There was a long line for taxis, but mostly painless. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
Flew into SJU on Saturday due to American canceling our morning non-stop form Dallas. Unfortunately we were over 2 hours late arriving and finally checked into the Sheraton Old San Juan after 1:00AM. Upon check-in, I asked if we could ... Read More
Flew into SJU on Saturday due to American canceling our morning non-stop form Dallas. Unfortunately we were over 2 hours late arriving and finally checked into the Sheraton Old San Juan after 1:00AM. Upon check-in, I asked if we could possibly have a late check out as it had already been a long day. I was advised to call the front desk at 7:00AM and we should be fine. Well I did get up at 7:00AM only to be told that we could only get an additional 30 minutes - big deal. The hotel was OK, the area was neat but I would just as soon stayed at the Best Western at the airport and saved myself the additional cab ride. Embarkation was pretty smooth. The process in which they take your bags is not the most efficient however. Once inside, we went to the Diamond check-in. I was traveling on an expired passport which is fine until June 2009. The person checking us in attempted to deny us boarding but I immediately called RCCL and had them straighten it out. (I am a travel agent myself so I was able to deal direct with RCCL as I am the agent of record). The ship itself was very nice and we spent some time checking everything out. Our bags came very quickly and we were unpacked even before Muster. We had early dining and were located on Deck 3. The dining room was very nice and the staff excellent. I was disappointed that we were at a table for 10 and most nights it was just 4 of us there. We did eat one night at Portofino and it was excellent; lovely romantic evening. In Aruba we decided to snorkel on the Mi Dushi. The staff was very pleasant and fun was had by all. Snorkeling was disappointing as the water was quite rough but again, it turned out to be a very nice time. Curacao we decided to Golf at Blue Bay. The course was quite nice. When coming in from the 9th hole you actually drive on the beach right near the resort. Golf scores were not the best but again, a good group of people were with us. St. Maarten we went back to Orient Beach on the Beach Break which included lunch. We did this same excursion last year and found it better then. There was a much larger crowd that last year and the French staff did not seem to understand English very well. After waiting 30 minutes to place our order, we received our lunch with first the entrEe,then the drinks and finally the bread (a little backward if you ask me). The food as last year was excellent. St Thomas was originally scheduled for golf but apparently we were the only ones who signed up and it was canceled due to lack of participation. It all worked out in the end as it rained most of the night so the course would have been too wet. We just wandered around town and had a lovely lunch before returning to the ship. Some of the issues I had with the cruise: We were signed up for the Meet and Mingle which was scheduled for 11:00AM (I think) on Monday (sea day). We did not even get our invitation until Tuesday night. I don't have an issue with kids being on the ship; I just expect their parents to keep an eye on them. One night I ran into a group of 8 tweens jumping from the landing between floors into the elevator bank to see who could jump the farthest. This was at midnight and they were making a lot of racket. Now parents, I realize that the kids have a 1:00AM curfew but just because they can be out and about on the ship, they should be behaved. After I told the kids to knock it off, it continued. Finally I called security and let them deal with it. It was taken care of quickly which I did appreciate. Finally the Platinum and Diamond party. Last year on the Serenade we had an absolute blast and vowed never to miss another Diamond Party. This year we were treated to a "concert" of classical music. Now don't get me wrong, they WERE very good; I'm just not into classical music. We had to sit through 7 songs and almost felt like were were compelled to stay. 1-3 songs would have been a better choice. Overall, it was a good time. I liked having 2 ports and then a day at sea so we did feel like we had some down time to relax. The ship was nice but we felt the Serenade was a bit classier overall. Would we sail her again - of course. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
We are from Ohio, so the weather here in January can be a bit unpredictable. Instead of flying down the day of embarkment and risking missing our vacation, we flew down the day before and stayed the night in Tampa. We booked a room through ... Read More
We are from Ohio, so the weather here in January can be a bit unpredictable. Instead of flying down the day of embarkment and risking missing our vacation, we flew down the day before and stayed the night in Tampa. We booked a room through Travelocity at the Days Inn East-Ybor city for about $80. The rates there are usually lower, but as it was the week before the super bowl, prices were up everywhere. It was about a 15 minute taxi ride to the hotel which was about $35. If you book this hotel, be advised that if you have an early flight in, they charge you $5 per half hour you arrive before their 4pm check in time. Also, it's not a horrible area and there is nothing but a gas station within walking distance, but they do have several take-out menus available. Day 1: We arrived at the port of Tampa around 10:30 am. Carnival will tell you that you should not show up until 12, but things will be much faster if you do. There is a little coffee shop that offers breakfast, so we grabbed some food and sat outside. Men will come around and offer to take your bags for you. It's not required, but do this! It's free (but they work hard, and carry your luggage around, so why not tip them?) and this also means that when other people are wheeling their luggage around the ship until the staterooms open at 1:30, you are able to explore! Embarkment was a breeze. Have your FunPass ready to go with your ID, and credit card if that's how you are setting up your sign and sail account. (I used cash, so when you get on the ship, go straight to information and set up your account while there is no line. They will say the purser's desk doesn't open until after dinner, but they were open immediately). We took a walk around the outside decks of the ship (we were the only ones on the upper deck!) and took some great pictures. Lunch was being served at the Lido buffet, which was decent (I would recommend going to the indoor buffets for food, everything served outdoors seemed to be the same temp. as everything else). When the staterooms opened at 1:30, we found our room and met our stewardess who's name I could never remember, but she was super sweet. (If you leave a tip the first day asking for ice, you will never be without it). We were seated in the Mardi Gras dining room for the 6:00 dinner. The only thing I regret about this dinner time was that we didn't get to see when we went under the bridge, but I wouldn't have changed the arrangement for the world. I'm not quite sure how the seating arrangements were made, but we were with all people our parent's ages, but we still had a great time. Vanburn "Spice" from Grenada was our headwaiter, and he was wonderful! He made jokes that completely went over the heads of the 3 other couples with us, but had tears rolling down our cheeks we were laughing so hard! Omar from Colombia was the assistant waiter, who was also outstanding. Sani, who brought us our drinks remembered our names and what we wanted to drink after only the first night. He also works the piano bar, and knew us then as well. He was FANTASTIC! There is not one bad thing I can say about the dining room food for the whole trip. The Melting chocolate cake is a must try. Don't ever complain about portion size or not liking your food. Just ask for more/something else. Nobody will question it, and they will bring you as much of whatever you want. There were several nights where we both got 2 appetizers, and my boyfriend got a second lobster on elegant night. You will never go hungry. That night, my boyfriend and I went to the 21 and older serenity deck and sat in the hot tub. I don't know whether people hadn't found it yet, or what, but we had the whole deck to ourselves and it was fantastic. We were exhausted and decided to call it an early night (9pm) but when I woke up and realized there was no clock in the room, I ended up wandering outside to see if it was light yet. I realized later that day that there is a channel that overlooks the bow, so from then on we left it on all night so I could see if the sun had started to come up yet. Day 2 (fun day at sea): The first full day at sea, there were a lot of fun things going on, there was a hairy chest contest which was hilarious, and Felipe, the cruise director (woo-hoo!), had a talk about the shore excursions available (hint: if you don't go to the talks, they play them repeatedly on the one channel if you decide you want to watch it). We competed in the adult putt-putt competition (my boyfriend would be disappointed if I didn't mention he came in 3rd of about 30) It was a blast! That evening was the captain's reception and formal dinner. We dressed up and had lobster, which was phenomenal, but as I mentioned earlier, my boyfriend had seconds... so rather small. This evening I also discovered that they sell punch cards for the drink of the day. You get 5 drinks (including 1 souvenir cup) for about $26. The drinks are $6.95 +gratuity otherwise. After dinner we went to see "Shout," which there was not enough seating for and we stood in the back. It didn't matter, because it was fun and we had a good time singing along and dancing in the back. Then we went to the R rated comedy show in the Candlelight lounge. He was really funny, and used a lot of crowd participation which was fun. Day 3 (Day in Grand Cayman): When I read these reviews before my trip, I never read about port days, because I already knew what I had planned. I'll explain this day because it was not as great as what I had planned, and is the ONLY thing I can find wrong with the cruise experience, and it WAS NOT Carnival's fault. We booked the "Discover Cayman: Stingray, turtle farm, and Hell tour" We got off the tender, and found out our group had already left (we were on time!) We got on a bus with another tour who took us to our group at the boat. The stingrays were fantastic, and I highly recommend this part! When we got off the boat, however, 12 of us didn't have a bus to get on. The bus driver forgot to pick us up. When he came for us, a woman asked for his name, and he said to call him "Goofy," she asked for the bus number and again he replied "Goofy". He told us we would only have 30 minutes at the turtle farm. (his guided tour during the ride was nice, and I did enjoy it) He set a time for us to meet at the bus and told us to leave our belongings on the bus because he would not be leaving. The turtle farm was great! You get to hold the babies and it is wonderful! We came out to meet "Goofy" and he was not there. We found someone from the same company who made up some excuse about "Goofy" and his personal life, but agreed to take us to Hell which is where "Goofy" would be waiting for us. Hell was nice, but there's not much more to say as we were getting very close to missing the last tender out of Grand Cayman at this point and I was in a full blown panic. We made it, but I was upset, so I talked to the people at the information desk, who were very concerned and understanding, and refunded 25% of our shore excursion cost. I hate complaining, but thought it should be mentioned. Dinner was great as usual, and every night after dinner when we came back to the room there was a different towel animal waiting for us. I fell in love with the manatee we received the first night and our stewardess taught me how to make him! I told her how much I loved Stingray city, and the final night she made me a stingray. While I'm on the topic of our stewardess, I'll mention that she came twice a day, everyday, and provided turndown service at night which was nice to come back to. The room had razors (which I forgot), toothpaste, antacids, soap, body wash, beach towels, and the softest robes EVER. It was wonderful. And our room, which was an inside room with a queen was very spacious. There was a fake window, which made it less claustrophobic for me. Day 4 (Day in Cozumel): We did the mini jeep and snorkel tour. It was fantastic, and I'd never be able to say enough how absolutely wonderful our tour guide Alvero (Al) and his driver Wally were. It was a perfect trip and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a (very safe) adventure. Such a beautiful tour! We made it back with two hours left, so we did some souvenir shopping and stopped at the Three Amigo's bar. We had lunch (very good) and 3 margaritas each (the best I've ever had) and it was under $60, which was reasonable for how much we drank. That night we went to the Carnival Colors deck party and had a great time dancing and cheering for the Blue team! We also went to the love and marriage game show which was a definite must see. Day 5 (Fun day at Sea): I don't think it ever made it out of the 50's on Friday. It rained steadily until about 4pm. I spent a good portion of the day on the Serenity deck in the hot tub with a family from Dallas, and a couple from Alaska. My boyfriend slept off his margaritas. We got lunch at the buffet (like we had done for breakfast and lunch all week, and it was good) and then went back to the room and watched "The Dark Knight" which was nice, because it's a recent movie. Dinner was fun, but sad to say goodbye to our wait staff and the other couples. It was still very cold after dinner, so we called it an early night. Day 6 (Debarkment): We did the self assist, and were off the boat by 8:15. Customs was a breeze, and we had purchased transfers through Carnival (hint: your boarding pass is in your FunPass documents) and were to the airport ready to head home by 9:00. All in all it was a fantastic vacation, and I couldn't have asked for a better last hoorah before I start my new job on Monday. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
We are a family of three - myself & DH (both 34) and DD (5). This was our first trip to Florida and first cruise. We booked a 4 day land - 3 day sea package through DCL. We usually go to Las Vegas for our holidays (8 times in 4 years) ... Read More
We are a family of three - myself & DH (both 34) and DD (5). This was our first trip to Florida and first cruise. We booked a 4 day land - 3 day sea package through DCL. We usually go to Las Vegas for our holidays (8 times in 4 years) but decided it was time for a real family holiday. We stayed at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort - a great place to stay. We boarded the ship on January 22/09. The first wonderful thing we encountered was the ease of check in!! We were able to check into the cruise right in our hotel lobby! So convenient. And to our surprise and excitement we were given a free upgrade!! We had booked a category 10 (inside deluxe - cabin 7005) but were upgraded to cabin 6132 - a Deluxe Stateroom with a verandah!!! We will never consider cruising without one again. The Disney Wonder was beautiful. Everything on it seems really clean and well maintained. We used the Kids Club a few times - our DD was always wanting to head there for an hour or two before or after supper. It seemed like a lot of other kids were there for good chunks of the day but we didn't ever leave her over a meal or longer than two hours. Only because we wanted to spend our holiday with her - she would have been happy to stay in the club longer. All the staff or cast members we encountered were great. Donnie our room steward was awesome!! From day one he knew all our names and always had our stateroom ready. I think he lived in the hallway our entire trip! He seemed to always be working. Our dinner servers - Donna & Jen were wonderful as well. They treated our DD like a princess and were very efficient during our meals without making us feel rushed. The food was outstanding. We didn't have a bad meal - the desserts were especially great. The kids menu could use a few more options - it was the same menu each night. Not much variation from cheeseburgers, mac & cheese and chicken fingers. The two ports we visited were fun. Nassau was interesting - spent the morning shopping - rum cake, rum & souvenirs. We went back to the ship for lunch and a swim in the pool then took a taxi to Paradise Island to check out Atlantis. It was a super nice resort and the beach was beautiful. DH stayed and played some Blackjack while DD and I went back to the ship - kids club for her, wine on the verandah for me. Castaway Cay was the best part of the trip. The beach and water was amazing. Better than I could have imagined. Lots of lounge chairs and umbrellas along the way. The servers on the beach seemed to show up more in the morning than in the afternoon but they were still pretty good. We all went snorkeling and that was fun. The weather could have been a bit warmer but it was a great day. As we have never cruised before we can't compare the disembarkation to anything but it was faster and more organized than I could have ever expected. There were a bunch of staff ready to help take your bags with you through customs and onto the bus. It was completely painless!!! All in all it was a great trip. We will try cruising again in the future for sure!! We do want to try other lines but DCL was a great first cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008

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