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3,142 Fitness Cruise Reviews

I have been on Costa cruises many times over the past 10 years and have always enjoyed the Euro-atmosphere throughout the cruise. As Concordia was a new ship launched in 2006, the largest in Costa cruises, I decided to give it a try. I ... Read More
I have been on Costa cruises many times over the past 10 years and have always enjoyed the Euro-atmosphere throughout the cruise. As Concordia was a new ship launched in 2006, the largest in Costa cruises, I decided to give it a try. I booked the cruise 6 months in advance with a travel agent in England with flights and transfer inclusive. My partner and I were met by a chauffeur on our arrival at Rome Airport who drove us directly to the port. It was quite a distance and, with fairly busy traffic, took us more than one and a half hour to arrive. We were initially surprised to see very few passengers waiting for embarkation. Then we realized that Savona was the main embarkation port for Costa cruises, where most passengers started their cruise holidays. As it was a western mediterranean cruise calling at several major European cities, like Barcelona and Rome, there were local residents who would join the cruise at these ports too. As we booked a Grand Suite, we were given priority for embarkation, relatively painfree, and we were on board within 10 minutes. However our suite was not ready till 2pm, so we spent some time in the buffet restaurant having a light lunch. This was not ideal as we had to carry our hand luggage around, but I guess this is all the same with other cruise lines. Our grand suite was as expected, spacious, newly decorated. It is the largest type of cabin on the boat, even bigger than the Samsara Spa Suite. The size is about 450 sq feet (about twice the size of a normal cabin) with LCD-TV, walk-in wardrobe, jacuzzi bathtub, a long balcony with deck chairs. As we were Costa Club members, we found a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine, canapes and a fruit basket waiting for us in the suite. Our chamber maid was polite and efficient, provided cleaning twice a day plus turndown service in the evening. We also had a butler whom we didn't see much of (probably twice in a week), and to be honest, we did not ask for room service and I managed most of the restaurant and excursion bookings myself anyway. Overall I think the staff was a rather tired bunch, looked overworked, none of them particularly friendly and they were definitely not as attentive as those we met on our previous Costa cruises. I wonder if this has to do with the recent change of tipping policy. Previously the cruise fare did not include tipping, and guests were expected to tip the waiters and maids individually. At least this gave them an incentive to work harder and be more attentive. Though I have to admit that some guests, as far as I know, never tip (which is a shame, as the staff's earnings mostly rely on tips). Now according to the new policy, tips are automatically added onto the bill, and they will be distributed among all staff. However guests still have the option to cancel off, or add to this automatic tips from their account! My feeling is that tipping is a personal gesture, and as I get to know the staff after a week, it is nicer to be able to tip personally. At least they will know that I have given them a tip, otherwise there is no way for them to know that a particular guest has tipped them, and how much. We opted for a second sitting in the main restaurant, which started at 9pm, rather late for my liking, though it is the norm for southern Europeans. As this was a big cruise ship, with more than 3000 passengers, the main restaurants (there were 2) were packed with people. As we stayed in the suite category, we were allocated a table for ourselves. Most passengers had to sit at big tables with other fellow passengers. Food was mostly Italian, with a variety of choice, including light options and vegetarian dishes. One could have as many courses as one wished, from starter, followed by soup, then pasta, then main course with side salad, and finally dessert. Wine and mineral water were extras. The wine menu was rather extensive, boasting both European and new world selections. To me the price was very reasonable. There were several other restaurants, including casual buffet, outdoor pool barbecue, and a special restaurant, with Mondrian-style decor, which cost extra. Overall food quality was acceptable. Of course it's no gourmet, and could not be compared to Crystals or Seven Seas. But the fare was more than half of those 5 star cruise lines, and I would say that it represented good value for money. Most guests were Italian, followed by other Europeans, overall rather few English-speaking guests. The couple who sat across our table was from Argentina. They didn't speak much English, and our knowledge of Spanish is zilch. Despite this we certainly enjoyed the lively atmosphere with lots of singing and dancing throughout the cruise. Everyone was so very relaxed and jolly, full of summer sunshine and Latino passion. We also enjoyed the well organized shore excursions. We took part in a half-day Barcelona city tour, a countryside stroll in Majorca, a historical expedition in Tunis and a visit to an aristocratic palace in Sicily. Local tour guides all spoke good English and were very knowledgeable. My only criticism was the long wait to embark ship at the end of the excursions: imagine more than 1000 passengers trying to get onto the boat at roughly the same time, with security checks on top. It was no joke. Samsara spa is a new concept for Costa cruises. Passengers can choose to stay in one of the spa cabins, and eat in its designated restaurant. They will get complimentary entry to the spa which consists of a large jacuzzi pool, steam room, sauna, meditation room. Other passengers have to pay a fee to use the facilities in the spa. I had a look round on several occasions and noticed that it was always full. Didn't get the relaxing feel one expects in a spa, and I certainly didn't pay to use it. The spa receptionists were rather unhelpful too. Managed to book two spa treatments: one was hot stone therapy, the other Balinese massage; both therapists were very experienced. After the lovely massages, I had a sip of ayurvedic tea in the relaxation lounge looking out to sea. Overall, I would say it was a good experience at the spa, but no wow factor. I certainly would recommend Costa. It is a good 4 star cruise line, providing a reasonable standard of service and cruise experience, relatively inexpensive, with a lively European feel and a young-to-middle-aged clientele. But don't expect sybaritic luxury! Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
A LITTLE ABOUT US We are in our late 30's and this was our first cruise. We were traveling with a group of 11 people, including our parents. At the time of cruising we were together for about 5 years and living happily. We were ... Read More
A LITTLE ABOUT US We are in our late 30's and this was our first cruise. We were traveling with a group of 11 people, including our parents. At the time of cruising we were together for about 5 years and living happily. We were not the only new cruisers in our group, in fact the only members of our group who had sailed before were my parents who had sailed with Princess on 5 other cruises. SHIP Caribbean Princess is an amazing ship. Since this was our first cruise we have nothing to compare it to, however, this ship was well beyond our expectations. Rooms were exceptionally clean, as were the public areas. This ship is huge so be prepared to walk-a lot !! EMBARKATION Swift and painless!! It was with great excitement that we made our way through this very simple process. Princess staff members are well trained and moved cruisers along with ease. It was great to have so many staffers around to assist us. One recommendation- have a few single bills on hand as there seemed to be a lot of tipping from the hotel to embarkation. OUR ROOM Amazing-fabulous-exceptional-perfect!! We had a stateroom with a balcony and it was marvelous. The bathroom is a bit small but this is the norm so it was ok with us. We were happy to have a safe in our room to hold our valuables and important documents. Our bed was very comfortable and the balcony was phenomenal-we REALLY recommend the balcony suites. We loved sitting out during the morning and evening hours. I would have liked to have had bottled water complimentary in our rooms. We drink a lot of water and luckily we brought some on board with us, however, we would really like to have had some chilled water provided in the rooms. Our steward was amazing!!! Our room was kept impeccably clean and she was super nice. She was always smiling, like most of the staff, and she seemed genuinely happy to be working for Princess. FOOD AND DINING Delicious- we ate most meals in the buffet and it was unbelievably good. We also enjoyed three dinners in the restaurants and they were sooooooo good. We ate so much food-luckily, like I said earlier, we did a lot of walking !! We were slated for "anytime dining" and it was perfect. On the evenings we decided to dine in the restaurants, we simply phoned for reservations and it worked out perfectly. Some people enjoy the traditional dining but we like the ability to dine when we wanted to as opposed to having a set time. PRINCESS SERVICE Exceptional!! Everyone, everywhere-exceptional. ENTERTAINMENT Incredible! The entertainment is second to none. It is quite varied and was wonderfully entertaining. We laughed, we sang, we danced, we jumped, we clapped, we listened ! All day everyday, there is something happening on this ship. From dance lessons, to ice carving, fruit and veggie carving, pool contests, deck contests, movies, bands, bingo, horse races, theme parties, sports, golf lessons, golf demos, scavenger hunts, etc.......... RELAXATION We really loved the fact that even with all this entertainment happening, we could still find quiet spaces to relax and read, or enjoy a cold drink and the hot sun. Again the service on the sun deck was terrific. EXCURSIONS Super fun!! We went into the ports of Saint Maarten, St. Thomas and Princess Cays and we loved all three. We didn't particularly enjoy the street vendors constantly begging for a sale, however, the ports were beautiful. We did some shopping and enjoyed the beaches. My hunny enjoyed a fabulous day of golfing in St. Thomas. This was an organized excursion and although it seemed a bit hectic when they were heading out, it turned out to be a great day and worth the money. We really enjoyed our relaxing day on Princess Cays. We did some snorkeling and some swimming and just totally relaxed and enjoyed the day. We really liked the BBQ on the beach; it was a lot of fun. Our group really had a good day! FAVORITE MEMORY AND FUTURE CRUISING PLANS Our favorite memory of the trip was our excursion in Saint Maarten as this is where WE GOT ENGAGED!! We had both decided we would not get married (again) however, after being together for 5 years, the romance and excitement of this trip swept us both off of our feet and the next thing we knew, we were buying a ring and announcing our engagement. It was incredible. We are going to be married "At Sea" aboard the Crown Princess in November 2009. Our children, our parents and 43 of our friends and family are also joining us for our wedding cruise!! If you can't tell, we highly recommend Princess Cruise Line ? Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
Our cruise on the Liberty Of The Seas was our first on a ship larger than 100,000 tons, and we were really looking forward to it. We selected the Western Caribbean cruise and Liberty primarily because it stopped in Montego Bay, Jamaica, ... Read More
Our cruise on the Liberty Of The Seas was our first on a ship larger than 100,000 tons, and we were really looking forward to it. We selected the Western Caribbean cruise and Liberty primarily because it stopped in Montego Bay, Jamaica, which offered an excursion to the Appleton Estates Rum Factory. Liberty's sister ship Freedom Of The Seas stops in Ocho Rios but the tour is not available from there (too far, we suppose). Other stops included Labadee, Haiti; George Town, Cayman Islands; and Cozumel, Mexico. We cruised in January because it just seemed like it would be a nice time to go - we have cruised during the summer and didn't much care for the heat. We live within driving distance to Miami, so we decided to take a chance on leaving our vehicle in the parking garage. Entry into the port is well marked, and signage to the Royal Caribbean terminal was easy to follow, but we both agreed that it wasn't necessary - we could see the huge ship from the interstate! Parking came out to $140.00, paid as we left the following week. The garage was right at the RCCL terminal, was clean and well lit, and we had no problems finding a good spot, since we were so eager to start our vacation that we got there at around 11:00 AM. Even getting there so early, it still took us about an hour and a half to actually set foot on the ship. Royal Caribbean is very efficient at boarding, but there were still an awful lot of people. One thing we were very thankful for was that we had done the Online Check-in, and that we had brought passports as our identification. One couple had done neither, using state IDs, and I would guess it took them at least twice as long to get past the check-in desk. At that time passports were technically not required, but we took them and were glad. Plus, government officials at the ports of call were more than happy to stamp them for us as added "souvenirs". The only hitch to boarding was that because we were so early our deck wasn't open yet, so we had to lug our carry-ons up to the Windjammer Cafe and wait about 20 minutes. Once we got to our rooms the level of service we were going to receive became evident. Our room steward saw us coming and introduced himself, and apologized that he hadn't finished wiping a few things in the room. As a former U.S. Marine, I couldn't have seen what he was talking about, the place was spotless to me, but he insisted. We introduced ourselves once and only once - he remembered our names the rest of the cruise. The room itself was a D2 balcony room on the 6th deck. It was clean, roomy, quiet and seldom occupied during waking hours on the cruise. The only problem we had with it was that the door latch stuck very badly, to the point that it took almost your full weight to get it to open. A quick call to our steward, and within 5 minutes a maintenance tech was there and had it fixed in another 5 minutes. Fantastic! We wanted to explore the ship a little before the crush of passengers filled it up, so we wandered around and got a good feel for this beautiful vessel. Everywhere we went we were amazed at the craftsmanship, decor and attention to detail. We worked our way up to the top deck just in time to go back down for the life boat drill. We decided that even the incredibly boring drill should be fun, so we got a bunch of people in our area singing "row row row your boat" until we were shushed to hear the announcements. We highly recommend it as a great icebreaker and plan to try it again on future cruises. After the drill it was time to set sail! We went back topside and went to the pool bar, where my wife ordered her favorite drink, and I said to the bartender "Pour something good for the occasion". (A word to the wise here - if you're gonna to say that at 5:00 PM to a bartender from Jamaica, make sure you've eaten more than a light breakfast before you do it; don't ask me how I know...). The sailing party was great, and that bartender remembered us every time he saw us on the cruise. As far as shipboard activities, we have some advice for future cruisers on this class of ship: If you think you can experience everything the ship has to offer in only one cruise, think again. From Sudoku contests to fantastic floor shows and promenade parties to ice skating, rock climbing and the Flowrider surf simulator, there is something for everyone and so much to do that to try to do it all would take the fun out of all of it. We suggest reading your daily Cruise Compass newsletter, picking a couple of things that you would really like to experience, and just letting the rest of the day sort itself out. We missed a lot of activities on the ship, but we don't regret any of it, because we were constantly having a good time. For those who are health and fitness conscious, RCCL offers their Vitality program, with workout activities, seminars and menu items geared toward dispelling the myth that cruising can be tough on the waistline. Prior to the cruise I lost 25 pounds to make weight for an excursion with limitations, and on the last day I found that after a week of great food, I had still managed to lose another pound. Aside from the sheer quantity of activities available on the ship, the quality of the activities and the crew members involved was spectacular. The crew very often seemed to be having as much fun on the cruise as the passengers; they were always willing to help; and at times showed outstanding patience, especially on the Flowrider, a surfing simulator that is fairly challenging even to those with good balance. Also, a pattern developed that many of the crew that we had multiple contacts with showed interest in us as if we were the only passengers that mattered on the ship. Other passengers we spoke to about this had the same experience. With over 4,000 passengers on the ship we don't know how RCCL pulled that off, but we were deeply impressed. Service in the dining room was excellent and the food was very good. We were a little worried on the first night when the other 8 people at our large table turned out to be at least 10 years older than us (in our early 40's), but we all turned out to be young at heart, and we all ended up canceling our reservations to the specialty restaurants because we got along so well and had so much fun in main dining that we all looked forward to it, and even closed the room down a couple of nights talking over good wine and even better companionship. The only real disappointment was the desserts, but not because they were bad, just that they were not as good as the rest of the food. Breakfast in the Windjammer Cafe buffet restaurant was very good, our only complaints there were that they didn't have a very good selection of healthier cereals for adults, and that the choices for more health-conscious diners were not better identified. In hindsight, we also could have tried a little harder to look beyond the steaming trays of eggs, bacon, pancakes, sausage, etc. We only ordered Room Service once, but it was delivered when promised and the food was hot and very good. We did not eat at Sorrento's, the pizza parlor in the Royal Promenade, but the coffee and sandwiches available 24 hours in the coffee shop were excellent. Labadee, Haiti: Beautiful white sand beaches on a small peninsula on the northern coast of Haiti, we took our snorkeling gear and walked in from the shore. We had a ride on the Dragon's Breath Flight Line scheduled, but after months of dieting and exercise to meet weight restrictions, high winds caused it to be shut down for safety reasons. RCCL's excellent customer service shined again, and we were refunded the cost to our ship account with no delay. Montego Bay, Jamaica: Jamaica gets our nod for Most Selfless People award. During the 2 hour ride to the Appletone Estates Rum Factory tour, a woman became carsick on the bus. Our driver didn't hesitate, pulled to the side of the road in front of the first house he saw, and went to it and knocked on the door. He spoke to the man who answered, and the man immediately came out and helped the woman into his home to use his bathroom, then helped her back on the bus when she felt better. We later asked the driver if he knew the man and he said he did not. The tour was a trip back in time through one of the oldest rum factories in the Caribbean, and the ride back provided beautiful views over the mountains of Jamaica. George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands: We counted 6 other cruise ships in the port when we arrived, and the main tourist area suggested that just about every passenger was on shore. We asked around and after a few failed attempts got a local to tell us where Caymans go to the beach. After a cab ride so short we decided to just walk back when it was time, we came to what I can honestly describe as the most beautiful place I have ever been to. A small, quiet inlet with white sand, lots of coral and fish to see in the crystal clear water, and only about 8 other people there, all locals and all very nice. We snorkeled for hours and only left when staying meant we might miss the ship. It is open to the public, including tourists, but out of respect for the Cayman locals, we will not name the place here. If you wish to find it, it's not hard, and the search might make finding it even more enjoyable. When we spoke to our friends at dinner, they said that even though 7 Mile Beach and the tourist spots were crowded, Grand Cayman is a very nice place to visit. Cozumel, Mexico: We used the ship credit from Haiti's cancelled excursion to turn this cruise into a snorkeling vacation. Took a short catamaran ride to the Palancar Reef and jumped into clear blue water 20-50 feet deep, then drifted with the current until we reached the reef's drop-off. Lots of coral and fish, but not quite as fun as Cayman Islands. Back to the ship to change and we went into town for some light shopping. On a pre-Hurricane Wilma cruise to Cozumel, the only way to describe the cab ride into the main shopping area of town would be to say that if you could imagine the scariest roller coaster ride, it would pale in comparison to the 3 mile trip from the pier to town. Speed limits, traffic signs and even red lights had no meaning to the cabbies, or to anyone else, it seemed. Post-Wilma reconstruction has introduced numerous large speed tables that do a good job of slowing down traffic to sane speeds, and laws governing cab rates mean knowing ahead of time what the ride will cost. The shopping district weathered the storm well, and the central square was rebuilt to even better than before. All good things come to an end, and when the time came to disembark in Miami, things went very smoothly. We were off the ship and through Customs in about 45 minutes, and the airport-styled luggage carousels made finding our bags a snap. Traffic out of the port is well controlled, and we were on our way home well before noon. Overall, we both agree that this cruise was far and away the best vacation we have ever taken, not only because the places we went to were very nice, but because the ship and service provided were stellar. Neither of us thinks we will cruise on any line other than Royal Caribbean again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
I tend to agree fully with the two prior negative reviews.   We were a party of six and had two cabins on this ship.  Although we were not overly disappointed, we thought the line made minimal effort to accommodate the passengers once ... Read More
I tend to agree fully with the two prior negative reviews.   We were a party of six and had two cabins on this ship.  Although we were not overly disappointed, we thought the line made minimal effort to accommodate the passengers once on board.  Once on board everyone was clearly treated as cattle.  Also, we found staff at desk and photography to be exceptionally unpleasant and hostile.We had a few charges on our account that were incorrect, however, the lines at the desk were lengthy and we could not bear to wait.  Also, everyone gives you the run around when you need to dispute or request something.Lastly, the ship should reduce the passengers by 1000 and it would work so much better.  This ship affords no peace or privacy.  We never felt comfortable in the 7 nights letting our children wander, although they are 10 and 11.  You get pushed, pulled at at all times by people and for me this is not a vacation.  The elevators rode completely full to the point of being unsafe...Waited 20 minutes for an elevator due to the numbers on this ship.I also was unimpressed by all the line did not have for food.  Basically buffet lunch and breakfast that was standard fare. Dinner okay, however, nothing to write about.  No entertainment at dinner except a parade on two occasion showcasing the staff???Save your money and find another ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
This was our second cruise with Carnival. I have to admit that we booked this with some trepidation...Our last cruise on Carnival (Fascination), while nice, was a little "no frills". But, this was what worked with our ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Carnival. I have to admit that we booked this with some trepidation...Our last cruise on Carnival (Fascination), while nice, was a little "no frills". But, this was what worked with our schedules, and the port (Tampa) was convenient. I must say, we made a good choice. The biggest thing that made our cruise a good one was the fact that we splurged for a bigger room. (On our last cruise, we had gotten an inside stateroom way at the bottom, and boy was it tiny!) This time, we got one on the Verada deck, and it was great! Tons of room, our own little balcony, and a great view. I think the bathroom may have been a tiny bit bigger, too (although bathrooms on cruise ships are always notoriously small). Oh, and when you book one of the veranda or higher rooms, you get treated as a VIP, with a special VIP check-in and everything. Totally worth it, in my opinion. The food was very good, at least for the sit-down meals in the dining room. The buffet and lido deck food was decent, but not amazing. I was a little disappointed in the quality of some of the alcoholic beverages, but I will admit that I am a little picky about my martinis. I never did get one served in a proper martini glass. On the plus side, they had some fun drink specials each day that were served in souvenir containers, like a pina colada in a carved wooden monkey head (now, those were pretty good! I had at least three!) The fitness club was nice, and it was cool to be able to work out with a view of the ocean. Quite a novelty. I only used the cardio machines so I cannot comment on the selection of weight machines, but everything seemed well kept up. One of the best parts in my opinion was the special treatment you get as a repeat cruiser. This was only our second carnival cruise, but we were invited to special cocktail hours (I think these were every evening if I recall correctly) where they served some pretty decent drinks for free, and in almost unlimited quantities as well as some very tasty hors d'oeuvres. Neat-O. These cocktail hours were definitely a welcome surprise to me! The ports of call were nice enough. Grand Cayman is spectacular. We spent the day at the beach, and I only wish we had a little more time at this port. Cozumel was decent, we did swimming with the dolphins at Dolphinarus, which was one of the highlights of the trip. We also went to Senor Frogs. I was a little shocked...there were ridiculously drunk people getting hard liquor shots from the waitresses, which involved blindfolding, pulling up the person's shirt and massaging their chest, putting ice down their pants, among other things. Whoa. It was like a tamed down lap dance. Very odd. I guess maybe if you're a single college student, this might appeal to you. It was entertaining to watch, in any case. One thing about Cozumel...even if you are not planning on getting off the boat, be sure to wear insect repellant!!!! I was nearly eaten alive by mosquitoes in Cozumel. When it was time to debark, my husband and I had a little bit of a snafu because our original American Airlines flight in the afternoon was cancelled, and the only flight they could rebook us on that day was at something like 8 or 9 am. This meant we had to scramble to get off the boat as soon as possible and haul as* to the airport to make our flight. Fortunately, when we explained our situation to the Carnival purser, they made sure we were able to get off the boat first so that we would not miss our flight (we just barely made it!) All in all, it was a really fun experience, and Carnival exceeded expectations. They won me as a repeat customer for sure. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Note-I'm copying this off of my review on the CC forums, so please excuse the odd use of "More later" :p Weather blessed us on this cruise . Seattle was overcast when we left, and Juneau was cloudy with an afternoon rain, ... Read More
Note-I'm copying this off of my review on the CC forums, so please excuse the odd use of "More later" :p Weather blessed us on this cruise . Seattle was overcast when we left, and Juneau was cloudy with an afternoon rain, but after thatwe had amazing weather. Skagway had pure blue skies with the sun out, Ketchikan also was sunny, and the Endicott Arm Fjord (we couldn't enter Tracy) was magnificent, not a cloud in the sky. I'd bring one pair of shorts just in case. It actually got quite hot in some of the towns  I suppose I'll be doing my review in parts. Let's just do Day 1 for now Let me start out by saying a few quick things:-The food was the best we've ever had on Princess.-The service was the best we've ever had on Princess. -The captain, John Foster, and cruise director, David Cole, as well as our server, Arnulfo, were all the best.-We skipped Tracy, and went to Endicott, due to fog, which I definitely did see and understand. We passed the mouth of Tracy and had to keep blowing the fog horn, so Captain Foster decided to just turn around and head to Endicott, his personal favorite fjord.-The naturalist, Michael, was really knowledgeable and entertaining, despite his odd speaking tone.-We missed Victoria due to high winds, which I actually didn't feel, but I trust the Cptn's judgement. We got right to the side of town though, we could see it from our window quite closely.Saturday, June 20th, 2009The alarm went buzzing at 5 A.M., and I rushed into the shower to wake myself up. I then got dressed, gathered up 2 family members that went with me, and we headed to LAX. OUr flight was on time, a relief, and we left LAX around 7:40 and landed at SEATAC at 10:05. No hassle, very easy, kudos to Virgin America. We then contemplated whether to explore Seattle, or just head to the ship, and we chose the latter. We arrived earlier than we've ever arrived before at a cruise terminal. After a 20 minute drive to Pier 91, we were there! The ship came into view and our stomaches tightened. It was about 10:45 and we went to the terminal, checked in and went through security, all under 10 minutes or so. We then got in the three lines to get onboard, as they hadn't started letting passengers on yet. We were on around 11:10 or so, and went to check out our balcony stateroom, mid-ship on Baja Deck. The space was cozy, as expected, and the balcony was bigger than we had thought it to be. Our steward, Timothy, then introduced himself, and every time we saw him, we'd get a huge smile and small talk, something we've never actually experienced before to such a degree on any cruise line.He was truly excellent; room was spick and span. We had lunch at the Horizon Court, but I'm happy to say that the Donatello Dining Room was open ! We then just explored the ship and unpacked, and headed to the muster drill. Then we went to sailaway, which was definitely quieter than usual, and we were on our way. The sailaway view is beautiful. We tried the International Cafe for the first time ever, and truly fell in love. We then booked the Crown Grill for what was supposed to be Victoria on Friday, at 6 PM, so we could explore the town. Then, we headed to dinnersecond seating traditional in the Canaletto Dininng Room. Our server, Arnulfo, and our assistant waiter, Vasiliy introduced themselves, and they were a great duo. Never before had we had such a close connection to our server. Dinner was great, prime rib for all three of us, spring rolls were delicious, as was the salad. Turned out to be the best food on a cruise we've had yet. We then went to MUTS, our very first experience with it, and watched Marley and Me on it. it was really cold out, but we managed with the blankets we provided. Then, we headed to bed in hopes of another great day.More to come  __________________ Saturday, June 21, 2009 Our first sea day aboard! Being that Princess does go west of Vancouver Island, we did have a little bit of rocky seas our first and second night, as well as our sixth, but it wasn't that bad, just a little bit of motion in the ocean! We woke up around 9ish, and headed up to HC for breakfast. It was good. On the Golden, the buffet stewards had silverware at the table, and provided drink service the entire cruise. That was a first for us as well. Our prior experiences showed that that happened for the first day or so, but didn't last after the second or third. Pax would have to get their own silverware and drinks, not a big deal at all, but a nice touch. We used the stairs to get everywhere, never stepped foot in an elevator. I figure that I owe my body that much after having it endure a cruise . Let's see. We headed to Demonstration Nation, which had fruit/sushi/flower carving/making/organizing, followed by a martini demonstration; all very nice and cute. We then pretty much relaxed and for the first time, I've never done it before sadly, we ate in the dining room for something else besides dinner! Lunch seating turned out to be an absolute delight on days when we weren't in port, and I am hooked on it now . The rest of the day flew away with exercise on the Promenade deck, snacks at the INternational Cafe, and relaxing on our balcony. We then watched Carlos Oscar's comedy in the Vista Lounge, which was alright, got better as we went through it. It was a formal, we went to the Captain's address and waterfall then headed to our first formal dinner. Had the beef medallions, so tender and juicyabsolutely delicious. Stopped by Princess Pop Star, and went to bed around 11. Another great day at sea. This day really flew by fast. Juneau would come next!I have all of the patters, papers, as many as you can imagine. I stuffed them all in my backpack that I took along, so if you need a document, just ask me .To be continued... Monday, June 22, 2009 Also, regarding patters, my scanner isn't working, so stand by for those. Today was Juneau! We woke up around 9 AM, grabbed some breakfast in the Horizon Court and hung around the International Cafe until we arrived right on time at noon. Man, the International Cafe is delicious. Paninis, salads, and soups during the day, grilled to perfection, not to mention the completely fresh out of the oven cookies. So warm and chewy....I want one now! Anyways, we left the ship right away, and we had pre-ordered a shuttle for $12/pp/each way. We got on it, it was right across the pier, and we headed to Mendhenhall. We had narration, although when booking it said that it wouldn't be provided, so that was nice. Today was the only day where weather wasn't on our side. We had cloudy skies at this point. We approached Mendenhall Glacier and from the very tips of the trees I saw the highest point of it. As we reached closer, people on our shuttle were gasping at the enormity and majesty of that amazing glacier. We hopped off the shuttle right in front of the glacier, and hiked over a huge pile of rocks to get as close as possible. The hike over the rocks took a good 10 minutes as you had to get on hands and knees, but it was really worth it. We stood right next to the huge, loud, raging white waterfall and were treated with tall icebergs and a front seat view of Mendenhall. We were so close that the waterfall continuously sprayed in our face and sprayed mist across our camera. When we were there, they were constructing a trail through the rocks, so everyone could go there more accessibly. Definitely go. A must see. We spent a good two hours there and headed to catch the next shuttle. As soon as we hopped on, it started raining, so I suppose weather waited for us .We headed to downtown Juneau, and went to go through a free tour, I repeat free , of the government building. We saw the Governor's Office, as well as the Lt. Governor's Office. It was about a 30 minute tour, informative, but not a must-do, as much of the building was closed for construction. Palin actually lives in Anchorage, and we heard 2 jokes relating to the SNL skit on that day from locals . We looked for a lunch place for an hour and a half. There really aren't too many inside of Juneau. So we settled for the Hanger, which wasn't very good...at all. Very expensive lunch for miniscule crab legs. After this, we continued to walk around the quaint little town, but it got a little too rainy and cold, so we headed for the ship after a good 5 hours in town. The Amsterdam and Eurodam were there as well. We took a peak at Cinematastic, and we were not very happy with it. We walked out. It turns out I mixed things up, Cinemantastic was on the sea day, Carlos was in Juneau . We had dinner, it was the Alaskan Dinner, and it featured quite a bit of fish. I had prawns with beef tenderloin medallions, and they were so tendered. Great dinner and we headed to bed for Skagway! Tuesday, June 23, 2009 One note about embarkation daythe beds were really bumpy. We asked for egg crates which helped a little bit, but it was still somewhat uncomfortable. I had never asked for an egg crate before so I was expecting an actual crate, and I was surprised when he brought foam Anyways, let us continue! Today was Skagway, and we had an excursion, our one and only, booked through Princess today. It was Summit, Suspension Bridge, and Salmon Bake. We woke up around 9 and had breakfast in the HC. We headed off the boat around 10 and walked around for about 3 hours. Skagway is a very small town, so there isn't too much to do except walk around, eat, and shop. They have about 30 jewelry shops owned by cruise ships...a shocking number. The Red Onion Saloon and just about every restaurant in town hosted an hour wait at least, so we headed to the ship around 1:15. We rushed to try to get lunch seating and made it by two minutes, arriving at 1:28. We had a very delicious lunch, and headed out to our excursion at 2:45. We left at 3 and our tour guide was Jo, and she was hilarious. The entire bus was roaring with laughter the entire trip and we ended up telling stories instead of learning about the Yukon. Approaching the summit of the White Pass is amazing. The tram followed most and went past where the railroad went. It was beautiful, and we were able to get off for pictures about five times. We arrived at the Suspension Bridge, which was in Canada, and the scenery was magnificent. Under the bridge when crossing are white water rapids, the view to the leftmajestic snow capped mountains, and to the rightbeautiful green fields and trees. It was quite a sight! Had some hot cocoa there, which was great! We then headed to Liarsville for the Salmon Bakeit is close to the pier and it took about an hour. The food was great, the salmon was delicious. They had a lot of characters there that could play songs on saws, as well as story tellers. There were huskies, and old wagonsit was quite a nice stop. Then, we headed back to the ship and said our good-byes to our wonderful tour guide. By this time it was around 7:15, close to the all-aboard time, so we went onboard and had to get dressed for dinner right away (not that we were exactly hungry after that huge meal at Liarsville). It was Italian Dinner night, which was good. We were pretty tired after this, so we hung around lounges and tuned into Princess Pop Star, and then went to bed, for our next lovely day in the Fjords! Wednesday, June 24, 2009 Today was Tracy Arm. I didn't want to miss this at all, as I expected it to be the highlight of our cruise. Set my alarm nice and early for either 6 or 7 AM, don't recall. When I woke up, we were treated to islands and icebergs outside of our balcony. However, I knew that our ship was not yet in the Fjord. Soon after, our ship was COMPLETELY blanketed in fog, and our fog horn was blowing nice and loud every minute. I, personally, love hearing that sound, but I wasn't happy that our fjord would be missed by fog. It then disappeared, and I heard the three tones, meaning an announcement was coming. As soon as I heard the word, "safety", I knew what was coming. We were going to skip Tracy and visit Endicott, which the Captain soon announced. I was slightly disappointed, but I was still looking forward to it. The Endicott Arm Fjord is one of the most beautiful places I've even seen. Granite walls surround and tower the ship, and seem so close to the rails that you can almost touch the cliffs. Icebergs, some HUGE, surround the ship, and the movie Titanic comes into mind. I was surprised that we could just run right over them without a problem. We passed the Star Princess while entering, nearing the Dawes Glacier. They were SO loud and we were quiet, but passengers on the Star say the opposite. View the Star here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxI4nAGI0jUThat was a very interesting experience! We then got unbelievably close to the Dawes Glacier, as close as we can go, and I praise Captain Foster for his commitment toward giving his passengers the best scenery. We even went out of our way on our way to Ketchikan to visit an Island filled with bears, and to go to a different route to view whales. Captain Foster was great! The fjords are truly magnificent. Hundreds of seals lie on the icebergs. Pictures could not, absolutely could not, capture what we saw. We spent a good 4-5 hours in the fjord. After we left, we were still treated with scenery. GREAT day, highlight of the cruise by far. After exiting the fjord, we had a sea day-like schedule of activities. Before our wonderful dinner, we went to a magic show, featuring the magic of a name that slips me, Gaeteno or something like that. It was great! David Cole participated in a disappearance scene at the end, quite a surprise! Definitely see this. Dinner was the Chef's Dinner, something never before experienced on Princess. It was great, I had Alaskan King Crab Legs, Yum. They were nice and fat too . After dinner, at 10:45, we went to the International Crew Showthe absolute highlight show of the cruise. The crew is so, so talented. Four singers, all better than the lounge singers. The band was fantastic. They really were great, like record-recording quality. I can't praise them enough . Comedy acts were good, final act was goofygreat show. Headed to bed, and set a very early wake up alarm for Ketchikan the next day. Thursday, June 25, 2009 Today was Ketchikan. We set our alarm for 7, and we were off the ship at 7:30. We were only in port until Noon today, and all aboard was at 11:45, so we had to get a nice and early start. We got off the boat, and went to the visitor's center, where we decided to purchase a tour for $35 pp that took us to creeks and waterfalls, it was short and adequate, but I was expecting a bit more. We saw tens of bald eagles in flight, including the nest. I thought that the totem pole visit was a waste of time, as they have been touched by modern man for touch-ups, major touch ups. We walked around town, and it was a nice little town, my favorite that we visited. We had some fish and chips by the pier and it was the best that I've ever had, without a doubt. Crispy, without being greasy, it was just perfect. We then entered a looong line to get back on board, but we didn't mind too much. We went on board, but we didn't sail until 12:30 because of the long lines to get back. We enjoyed the rest of they day at sea, and we had a nice and scenic sailaway as well. We had lunch in the dining room and the rest of the day flew by, and before I knew it, it was time for a second formal and our last night with our wonderful servers in the dining room. Dinner was great. Beef wellington was much improved then from when it was last had on Princess, and the lobster was good as always. Tomorrow was Victoriaer, was supposed to be. __________________ Friday, June 26, 2009 Today was our last day of the cruise . It went by oh so fast. It was a sea-day like of activities until we were schedule to reach Victoria around 7 PM. We would be having the Crown Grill at 6 PM. During the day, we watched movies like Gran Torino,at 3 PM, which was very good as well as having our final dining room lunch, going to the Culinary Show and Galley Tour, as well as taking a nice visit to the dessert buffet which was open from 11:30 AM-2 PM. The fruit tart was great! . After those activities, it was already 5:30 and we had our scheduled dinner at 6. We got dressed in normal smart casual attire, and we went to the Crown Grill, and we enjoyed our almost free dinner, because of the Twitter Contest that I won. I must add that getting this recognized was difficult. I had to spend $12 at the internet cafe just to print out and prove that we had actually won something, and several visits to the Purser's Desk later, they finally contacted corporate and our OBC was added. The Crown Grill was very good. I had a 4 oz. lobster tail and a filet mignon, which was perfectly cooked and very tender. During dinner, I noticed that the ship had stopped right outside of Victoria. I could see the buildings of the town quite well, even the Empress Hotel. But right after I finished my steak, I heard the three tones, and I heard the word "safety" again, and I had a strong hunch that we'd be skipping Victoria. The Captain said winds were much too high, approaching 25 knots, and that the ship couldn't handle it. I went outside to the deck shortly after the announcement and felt no wind at all, but oh well, I trust the Captain's judgement. We were looking forward to this port though. They sent a tender with a few passengers ashore to comply with law, and then we set sail quite early. Dessert at the Crown Grill was very good. My molten chocolate lava cake was pure batter, and our waiter insisted that he had to report it to the Executive Chef, so he did, but everyone else's souffle was delicious! DH went up to the room, full and uncomfortable, and called it a night really early. DS and I went to the dining room, as he loves the Princess souffle on the last night with that warm vanilla sauce, so we said that we'd go just for dessert and to see our wonderful dining team again. We had our souffles and our waiter ended up talking to us for a good hour and a half. The other tables in our area were getting ignored . The Head Waiter came in and joined the conversation for thirty minutes as well, haha.We had a very funny conversation. We thought we'd be there for ten minutes, but we stayed longer that passengers that had the full dinner . We gave our servers a big hug at the end, and took a picture, and then we left . I headed to bed after this but DS went to watch Princess Pop Star Finale in the Princess Theater. Then DS went to bed, and we had to disembark the next day. __________________ Saturday, June 27, 2009 Disembarkation day. Blech! We woke up at 7 AM, and we vacated our stateroom as requested around 8. We then had a nice breakfast in the dining room ( a first for me again), and we headed to.....our meeting place. We had silver 6 tags, and we had to meet in the Vista Lounge at 9 AM. We went into the lounge at exactly 9 AM, and they called our tags at 9:01. I've never had that happen before; it's usually 30 minutes of a delay for each tag, but that was surprising. We were off the ship quickly, and we headed to the luggage area. They should have more signage in this area, but the collection was typical-chaotic. After about 20 minutes, we found all of our bags, and we headed past customs, out of the port, and into a taxi. There was barely a line for this, actually there wasn't a line, even at a peak time like 9:30 AM. We had wanted to go into town, but we had luggage and it was $50 in and out of SEATAC, something we didn't want to pay, so we tried to get on an earlier flight. OUr flight was scheduled for 3:35, but we arrived at 10:40, and they put us on standby for the 11:50 flight out of Seattle to LAX. We were called up at the gate, and they told us that they had 2 seats for us, so we didn't take itone extra. The next man had a wife and a young child with him, and he completely left his wife and child there to wait. After he got on the plane, his wife was quite mad! We waited the four hours, and I started this review .My sister picked us up and drove us home, and we relaxed. Didn't get home until 7ish, so it was a long day. We slept long and hard. This was a fantastic cruisemy second favorite that I've completed. Alaska is so beautiful, and is a must-see. I would absolutely do it again. The Golden was beautiful and Vines, MUTS, and the International Cafe were icing on the cake. The food was wonderfulthe best I've had on Princess, as was the service. Embarkation and disembarkation was simple, plenty of time to relax and to explore. Grade A cruise. Thank you Princess for a wonderful vacation.  Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
TRAVEL TO MIAMI: I flew into Miami and then took a taxi to the JW Marriott to pamper myself before boarding the Freedom. If you have the funds, I highly recommend this hotel. I had a corner room and my views were lovely. Wandered down ... Read More
TRAVEL TO MIAMI: I flew into Miami and then took a taxi to the JW Marriott to pamper myself before boarding the Freedom. If you have the funds, I highly recommend this hotel. I had a corner room and my views were lovely. Wandered down the block to a terrific restaurant (forget the name, but I'm in my 50's so you know how it goes ...). Enjoyed a delectable meal with a good wine before tottering back to the JW for a night of rest, anxious to board the Freedom the next day. EMBARKATION: I taxied to the Port of Miami and went through all the machinations as everyone else. I found the check-in procedure effortless. Had the requisite photo taken for Security and was sure it was just awful. When I arrived on the ship, I have to say it took my breath away. I just never imagined it would be as grand as it was. STATEROOM: I had an inside stateroom, since I was traveling alone. In my previous cruising days, I always had an outside cabin so was a bit fearful I would live to regret this, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the room was very comfortable and perfect for one person. The twin beds had been pushed together and made up as a King for me. The bathroom and closet was satisfactory as well. All in all, I really liked my cabin and breathed a sigh of relief! F & B: I only made it into the dining room once, preferring to take my meals at Sorrento's or grabbing a salad for dinner from the buffet. Mornings were fruit and cereals, also from the buffet. I enjoyed sitting with people I didn't know and hearing their stories. Everyone I spoke to was LOVING their Freedom experience. I frequented the wine bar and was surprised to find they had many good wines ... the bartender even knew how to make a French Martini! I loved chatting with the staff wherever I went and enjoyed hearing their stories and how they wound up living the cruise lifestyle. PORTS OF CALL: Went to the fort in San Juan, something I've always wanted to do but never had. Enjoyed St. Thomas and bought myself a Cartier pen, something I'd always wanted and since it was my birthday, decided to treat myself. St. Maarten brought a huge deluge of rain, but loved tromping around in it. I was soaked by the time I got back to the ship. ENTERTAINMENT: Again, another surprise. The shows were terrific! Saw the production shows and found them to be very good. Also enjoyed the ice show, although there were a lot of falls that day. It surprised me as the ship had minimal movement. SPA: Had a deep tissue massage and it was very good, that was until the masseuse hit me with a product sales pitch that ruined my bliss. I thought about writing a letter to the Spa vendor to complain about the high pressure sales tactic, but decided against it. It really did ruin what was previously a very good massage though. Being told 'I should do something about the bags under my eyes' ensured I would never go back to the spa! :-) FITNESS: I took the yoga classes and surprised myself that I could balance so well with the subtle movement. I really thought I would struggle, but did not. The young woman teaching the class was very good. MUSTER STATIONS: I'm afraid I became very claustrophobic during the drill. The lifevests are so different than what I knew back in the 70's. I am very short waisted and could barely breathe with all the foam around my face, coupled with how close they pile you on top of each other. I had to open my life vest and look up or else I thought I would push my way out and run screaming. But, knowing how important these drills are, I meditated and got through it. OVERALL OPINION: I thought I would be put off when I first boarded with all the children running rampant but I found many kid free zones where I could relax and enjoy an adult environment. I marveled at how many offerings there were on board for so many different types of people. The Freedom is simply a beautiful, beautiful ship. I am not sure I will be cruising again anytime soon but if I do, it will most definitely be with RCCL. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
We had a fantastic cruise! We were first time cruisers, and didn't know exactly what to expect, but it was great. Our cabin was very nice and adequately equipped. The ship was always clean.The staff in the dining room was great. ... Read More
We had a fantastic cruise! We were first time cruisers, and didn't know exactly what to expect, but it was great. Our cabin was very nice and adequately equipped. The ship was always clean.The staff in the dining room was great. I'm a vegetarian and had no issues finding a good meal.We were a little disappointed with the shows; they seemed just slightly better than a lot of high school drama performances I've attended. Not painful to sit through, but not deserving of any accolades either. We enjoyed the comedian and the bars at night. The casino was just your average casino.We spent as much time in port as possible and spent the rest of our time on our balcony, so not much more to report about the ship. It wasn't really pool weather but we did soak in one of the hot tubs shortly after the ship left Vancouver, and it was perfect! Almost no crowds, and great views. I would never do this cruise without a balcony. Too much beautiful scenery! Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
I am writing this review, as I have had invaluable advise and help on CC. We are 3 Kiwi's who were on our first trip to Europe, we had already been travelling overland for 2.5 weeks when we boarded Splendor. Training out from ... Read More
I am writing this review, as I have had invaluable advise and help on CC. We are 3 Kiwi's who were on our first trip to Europe, we had already been travelling overland for 2.5 weeks when we boarded Splendor. Training out from Termini was easy. As long as you have a bag on wheels, and are up for a bit of a walk (the platform is just about at the end number 28) the cost is only 4.50euro and absolute steal, compared to transfer's and taxis. We all had 2 piece's of luggage and still managed. Once we got there we opted to pay the 5 euro to take the taxi transfer straight to the ship, we saw alot of people walking with their bags, but we felt it was a small price to pay to jump the queue and board the ship early. Embarkation, was very easy and we were onboard very quickly. Our cabin 1111 on the Spa Deck was gorgeous, we had bought an oceanview originally and then upgraded a month out for a small price, we felt it was well worth it as we went from deck 1 to deck 11. The beds, linen and pillows were the best I have slept on as far as cruises go. Our Cabin steward and wait staff at dinner were all very attentive. (Apparently the color scheme is different on this deck as well, more of an asian flavor - red's in color). They also give you elemis products. We loved starting our sea days with a walk around the corner and straight into the Thalasso pool. They give you different bath robes, cloud 9 slippers and a white band to wear as you enter this area. It is also a non-smoking floor, and there are only 8 cabins on each side. It also has direct access through a door to the top pool, and sunbathing area. I won't repeat what Soccerfan has said about the common area's except to say that she's right re the movie's, lounger's etc all great. I too thought the decor was okay, never been a pink fan, but it kind of grows on you. We liked the glass atrium lifts. The shows were great, but I am a fan on song and dance. The seating in the theatre was not the best I thought, lots of poles obstructing your views, or you got a sore neck if you were on ground floor as they were not tiered. The food was great in the restaurant, and I enjoyed the nightly sing and dance act, put on by the waiters. We were on Sapphire in Feb, and I thought Carnival's food was better. We especially liked the wok station, and the service and pizza's at the pizza bar were excellent, he also make's up caesar salad as well. I heard quite a few complaint's in the lift, (Oh it's not like Cunard or similar), I quite frankly can't believe what people have to moan about. Cunard, CelebritiyX are all different caliber ships, do people not do their homework or read reviews. Surely the name Carnival suggest's immediately what type of ship and style they have chosen. I for one will sail with Carnival again, (I have cruised with Royal Caribbean and Princess) to me they bring to the market (especially in Europe) a very affordable cruise without having to chose MSC or similar. When were were booking, Princess was more than double that of Carnival and we could have never afforded a balcony spa floor!!! If people want to make comparisons then pay the extra $$$ and they are alot more expensive and cruise with Cunard or similar. Disembarkation was very smooth, I would recommend pre-booking a shuttle, and avoiding the train option. There are often strike's and on our day of departure that is exactly what happened, we of course had a pre-arranged shared shuttle for only 20 euro p.p. an excellent price. I would like to say thankyou to all those who joined us on our private tours, we had a blast and a truly memorable experience, one I will never forget, the port's all met our expectations they were wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
We did the Halloween 7-night Easter Caribbean run aboard the Liberty of the Seas - reputedly the largest ship of its class by a few inches. Does size matter? It's a question I pondered... Boarding at Port of Miami was easy ... Read More
We did the Halloween 7-night Easter Caribbean run aboard the Liberty of the Seas - reputedly the largest ship of its class by a few inches. Does size matter? It's a question I pondered... Boarding at Port of Miami was easy enough. The line moved so quickly we hardly stopped walking until we were at the sign-in desk. From curb to ship took fifteen minutes. The Liberty is a giant - bigger than an aircraft carrier that easily dwarfed the two other cruise ships in port. She carried over 4000 passengers on our little voyage. First impression upon boarding is that the multitude was not going to be fun. Liberty's interior is stunning. It seems even "bigger" once inside. The fifth deck promenade is amazing. The Platinum Theatre, Studio B ice arena, and the multi-deck dining room were sights to behold for this Midwestern boy. If you're a casino aficionado, you'll have plenty of gaming room, too. According to its promotional film, RCCL is "competing" with Las Vegas, Disney World and Hawaii for your business - hence "Like no vacation on earth." The Vegas influence is obvious with the bright garish lights, the expanded casino and even the evening shows. The Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers (and acrobats and skaters) have clearly put more color and bigger production into their various shows. One show, "In the Air," is a poor man's Cirque du Soleil, a bit of avant garde. The Disney influence is most obvious in the Promenade parades and the H2O kiddie water park. RCCL is clearly targeting the family trade with such features. From the smiles I saw on the kids, and their parents, they succeeded. The Hawaii/beach vacation is reflected in the pool areas, especially the Solarium. It is an open area (no roof) with tropical accents, like mosaic toucan statues and faux palm trees. It has a bar and the usual deck chairs. Along its outer edge are more substantial patio furniture seating, even a few porch swings. (WARNING: Several folks complained of motion sickness after swinging on them.) I liked the convenient mobile beer vendors around the main pool and Solarium areas. There were many physical activities, from the Vitality fitness program to competitive sports tournaments. The Vitality program was well run, with many opportunities to earn chits for later exchange for t-shirts and other stuff. There was the rock wall, mini-golf and the open sports court. My son-in-law (age 23) participated in nearly all the sports court events. His teams won medals in dodge ball and volleyball. In both events it was a pick-up group of Americans versus internationals in the finals. If you don't think that aspect is important...well, grab a seat! I enjoyed the challenge of the mini-golf. It is not your usual through-the-windmill course. First, the course layout demands more finesse than power. Then the 30-plus mph winds and ship movement challenge the best stroke. It was like playing the links in Scotland! Take the family golf challenge for a fun experience. Of course, the Flowrider is the recreational centerpiece. The water isn't as wild as it looks, and wiping out doesn't hurt. From personal experience, get out and try it. Tremendous fun. My mid-seventies father-in-law did the boogie board and came off smiling after several runs. It reminded me of sledding as a kid. First timers generally earn a round of applause from the crowd, and any trick attempt is a crowdpleaser. Wait times were about 15 minutes between turns when two runs were operating. We were a family group of ten. Several were first-time cruisers. Luckily we checked our dining arrangements because one couple was left off our table, and a "strange" couple assigned instead. Easily fixed, but the lesson applies - check early when such errors are fixable. Our inside cabin was located on Deck 9. The convenience was major being just two decks below pool and Windjammer level - no elevator frustration, which could be major at peak demand times. Size-wise, our cabin was fine for the two of us, easily enough closet and drawer space. Our suitcases stowed under the bed. The bedding is excellent, very fancy without being frilly. We appreciated the RCTV system, which allowed us to check our charges and order room service. One suggestion: Move the phone to the dressing table/desk. Clambering over the bed to make or answer a call got old quickly. The Windjammer is the best - there were almost always tables available, even at peak times. There were many larger tables seating six or eight. With the many internationals, table sharing was common. Americans, please note! The food and service were also excellent. Food selection was fine. Breakfast eggs are ordered at the fried egg station, or at the omelette station. Room service was responsive. The chocolate chip cookies are the tops! And the pizza considered by some better than Sorrentos, which is itself pretty good. Our dining room table service was excellent. Nacibe and Fayona were an excellent team. They were efficient, friendly, and responsive. Food ranged from good to excellent. I again tried to stick with the menu's Chef's Selections and found each of them excellent. The picks included the prime rib, the herb encrusted Atlantic cod, and the beef filet. Those who had the lamb shank all raved. (Lobster was on the menu. No $14 steaks listed on our menus.) One of our party is a restaurant owner and was impressed by the quality and value of the offerings, the quality of the service, and the logistical challenge of serving thousands of plated meals each evening. Dining room dress most nights was smart casual - which was indeed casual. Formal nights were well attended at our main seating, with many more suits than tuxes in evidence. The ladies, of course, all looked their best. Evening shows were mainly the "Singers and Dancers." It's something to do, but not my idea of an hour. Truth is, I was falling asleep. The "celebrity showtime" presentations didn't induce yawns. I understand tight budgets and all that. Here's an idea: The ship's band is one of its best assets. On other cruises the band was showcased on "big band", jazz and other theme nights. Except for the last night, when part of the band played in the Olive or Twist, there was none of it. Support the band on stage with some appropriate dance numbers and a few song renditions, maybe a house comic - the old variety show format. A further nitpick was raised by one of our group, who observed the dance music offered largely left out the "boomer crowd," unless disco is your thing. Boleros offered Salsa music and was overflowing most nights. The Hoof and Claw Pub on the promenade was also a great late venue featuring sing along - it also had overflow crowds. The mix of passengers was different, younger than our previous cruises. Many families with children, including teens. Kids were no problem and appeared to enjoy themselves. Liberty offers plenty to keep them occupied - from the adventure camps to various other events, including Wii and "Guitar Hero" competitions, throughout the day. Many of the passengers were non-US. I've lived overseas and know some of the "quirks", but others were mightily irritated when some pushed to the front rather than stand in a line, or exhibited similar "rude" behavior. That's just the way it is done "back home" and no offense is intended. The itinerary is familiar to many here: St. Maarten, San Juan and Labadee. The San Juan stop was too short. Enough to run up to the fort El Morro. If you take the free green shuttle, pay attention to the overhead destination marquee. There are three shuttle routes - not all go where you're headed. You can also walk up there through "Old Town," a pleasant experience. Remember, you're in the USA, so don't be surprised at all the "Gee, we have one of these at home" moments. Labadee was undergoing some expansion construction, nothing to degrade your experience. We enjoyed the easy day there, although it rained most of the morning and remained mostly cloudy. We were off the ship in Miami after breakfast. From deciding to leave the ship to the curb was 45 minutes, most spent waiting for our luggage at the carousel. So, did size matter? Yes, both ways. I appreciated all the extra stuff the large ship offers. The Windjammer and other amenities worked well with the crowd. But, I didn't appreciate the long, indirect walks to get from place to place. Elevators were awful most of the evening, either jammed with people or not making the upper decks. I'm not convinced one way or the other. It was better than I expected in the early crush. There are still areas I haven't explored. And I really haven't found my "favorite spot." Still, I'd gladly give it another shot. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
I Got on a Jet Blue Flight out of JFk at 8am headed to San Diego. The flight went smoothly we got to San Diego 25 Minutes Earlier than Scheduled. I got off the plane went to baggage claims got my bags and immediately saw the Carnival ... Read More
I Got on a Jet Blue Flight out of JFk at 8am headed to San Diego. The flight went smoothly we got to San Diego 25 Minutes Earlier than Scheduled. I got off the plane went to baggage claims got my bags and immediately saw the Carnival Representatives. I gave my name, they took my bags, I got on the bus which was comfortably air conditioned, the bus stopped twice to pick up more passengers and within 20 minutes the bus pulls up at the cruise terminal. When we got to the port of San Diego I immediately noticed the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum on my left, Carnival Triumph in the middle and the Maritime Museum on my right. I told myself I am going to check out the Aircraft Carrier before I set sail on my cruise. The bus pulled into the terminal and stopped and the representative called my name and two other people to get off the bus. I am now wondering why am I being called off the bus with these people while everyone else gets to stay on. I got off the bus along with the other two people and was immediately shuttled inside the terminal by another representative, now I'm getting real skeptical, we're asking each other why we were called off the bus while everyone else drove further down into the terminal. We were taken immediately through the security check point and to the counter. Five minutes later I was being told "Bon Voyage proceed to the stair case to your left. I did as I was told and then realized that I am boarding the ship. So much for touring the museum. I then found out that the reason for the covert disembarkation from the shuttle bus is because we were the only ones who completed the Fun Pass in it's entirety and paid for the transfer bus vouchers online. I have to say it sure felt good stepping off the plane, claiming my bags and being on the ship within 35 minutes. I got on the ship and immediately I was in vacation mode. I took my bags to my cabin and then hit the Lido deck for some lunch and to take in the sights and sounds of the port. There is a pirate ship on the port side of the ship that actually have a real working cannon. The steel band got started at about 1:30pm and that really got everyone in the mood for the Vacation of A Lifetime. There were a number of different tours going on, tours of the Gym, Spa and of course the ship. We set sail at about 4PM and got on deck for the mandatory life boat drill. While doing so, we were being entertained by the folks on the boats in the San Diego Bay. That ship I mentioned before with the real working cannons sounded off a couple of Bon Voyage rounds for us. As we proceed to the Sailaway Party on Lido Deck the Port of San Diego faded on the horizon. As we settle in there was Dinner, Karaoke, Adult Disco, Piano Sing Along, Classical Music, Good Time Music, Live Dance Music, Casino Lessons, Game Show Mania, Family Meet and Greet, Children's Meet and Greet, Singles Gathering and the Main Show at 10:30PM. I stopped by as many of the above listed as I could then retired to bed about 2AM. Saturday is a Fun Day at Sea Day. There are just so many things to choose from to do. There's the sunrise stretch class at 7:30AM I think not I am on vacation, I had breakfast, played mini golf, participated in Broadway Show Tunes Trivia, stopped by the Chicken Olympics (very funny indeed), Passed by the Ice Carving Demo, participated in the Slot Tournament then went and got dressed for the Captain's Cocktail Party. Tonight is the First Formal Night. After the party I took as many pictures as they asked me to pose for, then I went to dinner in the Empire Restaurant and then went to the Pharaoh's Lounge for the High Spirit's show starring Rudy Lowe(OMG he can sing)and Carley Bailey. After that show, I stayed for the R Rated Comedy of Paul Lyons. That was ah alright. Then I went down to the Versailles Lounge and caught the last set of Music in Motion a live band that does dance music. (They are the best, Maria the Drummer is worth the price of the entire cruise. The Guitarist can play 'Free Bird' & 'Stairway to Heaven' as if he was the original Guitarist when the songs was first released.) After that I went to the Disco and partied until about 3AM then I retired to my cabin, went on the balcony and enjoyed the serenity of the ocean then I called it a night. Sunday the second Fun Day at Sea another fun filled day. I participated in a dance class, enjoyed the steel band, did some shopping, attended the Newly Wed Game, Karaoke, Music Jam Session, attended the Comedy Show and went down to the Versailles Lounge Partied with the live band, then went to the Disco and tried to dance to everything the DJ threw my way. Retired to bed about 2AM. Monday Arrived in Acapulco about 12PM. Was happy to see land after 2 days of sailing. I was a little taken aback by the way the cab drivers come at you to offer tours. I am in vacation mode, don't want to be rushed and hassled. I decided to do a walking tour with a quiet guide that did not rush at me but waited for me to take my time and hear what he was offering. We walked through the town, the local market, and to where the cliff divers were. We got there just in time for the afternoon dive. Got great pictures, bought some jewelry grabbed a cool drink and headed back down the hill and walked to the beach. On my way back from the beach saw this lady manhandling a 6 foot long fish with a machete. bought some more souvenirs and head back to the ship. I ate took a nap and then was ready for the night scene at about 8pm. I attended the show, partied in the Versailles Lounge and then the Disco. Retired to bed about 1:30AM Tuesday Arrived in Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa got on the tender boat (which was actually the ship's life boat that was cool to be riding in the life boat without an emergency)and hit the beach. I walked the entire walkway and was amazed at the vast array of colorful shells and fish that was visible to the naked eyes. I saw a fish that except for it's eyes was totally transparent. I actually caught a few in a cup. This was amazing to me. I shopped some more and had lunch then head back to the ship. My night life imitated that of the previous night the main show featured Ned Rifken and was entitled 'Singin with the Big Band. That was fun. I retired to bed about 2AM. Wednesday Arrived in Manzanillo. I did the ATV/Zipline Tour with Ventana Tours, it was amazing. The Terrain was to die for and the beach section was the most pristine piece of beach I've seen in a while. I was able to do maximum speed on the beach and the tour was just the best. The tour guides were great, it wasn't the usual ride in a line behind everyone else tour. The Zipline was great. I've ziplined through the forest but never across the ocean that provided an extra rush of adrenaline for me. I got back to the ship tired and spent of all my energy. I went into the hot tub to see if it would help and it did. then I retired to bed for a little then woke up for dinner and my night time activities. Tonight I added a little casino action. Tonight's show was Rhythm & Blues with the Voice from Heaven in the form of Rudy Lowe and the hilarious comedy of Merl Hobbs. I also partied under the stars on Lido deck with Music Motions. By the time this night was over for me it was about 2:30AM Thursday Fun Day at Sea. The realization hits that the cruise is winding down and we are heading back home. Elegant night #2. Tried to read one of the 5 books I brought on board just in case I got bored. That did not happen because it was so much to see and do. I scheduled an hour at the spa, did some more shopping, there's always a sale the last 2 days of the cruise. Played Bingo, Went to Ship Life Q & A with the hilarious duo in the form of Kirk Benning (Cruise Director) and Noonan (Assistant Cruise Director). I had dinner and posed for more pictures and then went down to the Versailles Lounge and rocked out to Sweet Home Alabama, Free Bird, Stairway to Heaven, Brick House, September, Rolling on the River, I will Survive and a few others. Partied in the Disco until about 1:30am. Friday Last Fun Day at Sea The daunting task of packing and the realization that I am heading back to the rat race of Corporate America is less than thrilling. I got through packing and headed up to lido hung with the steel band for a while then I stopped at all the favorite hot spots on the ship, and tried to use up all my internet minutes print my return boarding pass etc. Hit the casino then sat down for the Carnival Legends Show. This is where vacationers take to the stage with the professional dancers for backup. There was a James Brown, Madonna, Elvis, Aretha Franklin, Britney Spears and Frank Sinatra. After the show Partied in the Versailles Lounge one last time and stopped by the disco one last time then head on to bed at about 11:45 PM. My cabin was always in immaculate shape, The recreation crew did a morning show that was aired every morning on Chanel 17 (that was funny to an extent), the food was great the company on the ship was great(did I mention I did this cruise alone). The crew was great and overall it was a great cruise. I enjoyed all the on deck activities and the night life was just what the doctor ordered for me. The cruise director mentioned that there was 750 kids on board, I only saw a few so I guess Camp Carnival was providing some good entertainment for the youngsters. The dining room staff was great. I like the shows the waiters put on it's a blast. This was my third cruise and I guess the third time is the charm!!!!!. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Ship's decor: No Glamor or Wow-factor on the Solstice. Maybe I was expecting too much after having sailed on the beautiful Celebrity Constellation. I love sailing. This was my 10th. cruise; We have sailed previously on Celebrity, ... Read More
Ship's decor: No Glamor or Wow-factor on the Solstice. Maybe I was expecting too much after having sailed on the beautiful Celebrity Constellation. I love sailing. This was my 10th. cruise; We have sailed previously on Celebrity, HAL, Princess, Royal Caribbean, NCL and Carnival. We boarded the Solstice on its second sailing and I couldn't wait for our cruise to begin. But once on board I couldn't help notice the absence of color in the ship's decor. The person who designed the decor of the Solstice must design commercial buildings for a living. The decor is very masculine, plain and bland and full of cold chrome and clear glass. Color was purposely removed from this ship.The atrium area was unimpressive and unnecessarily dark; and instead of a soaring view upwards in the atrium area (as on other super ships) the Solstice had an obstructed view with a tree hanging over your head. Black and white prints were hung in the stairwells instead of the beautiful colored artwork I have come to expect. In the middle of the week on the Solstice they put up Christmas decorations- finally some joyous color on board. Food: Beef was always on the chewy side no matter where I ate and tropical fruits were lacking. Other than that,I enjoyed the food in all the dining areas except for in the specialty restaurants. When I pay extra to dine in a specialty restaurant on a Celebrity Cruise, I have the right to expect perfection. Perfection i did not get. In the Tuscan Grille I found the spaghetti sauce so sweet with sugar that I had to complain to the mai'tre d. And the Cioppino fish stew was far to salty to be enjoyable. In the Murano Restaurant our fillet Mignon was so tough that again we complained to the staff. ( I must admit most other people we met on the cruise loved both these restaurants)Other shipboard amenities: The Soltice went cheap when it installed its enclosed hot spa. I expected the fantastic and envigorating "Thalassotheraphy" hot spa pool, as was on the Celebity Constellation. They left it out on the Solstice; another disappointment. I expected to be permitted to use the steam bath for free; another disappointment. The steam bath was reserved for Aqua class passengers. I paid for a balcony, concierge class, but I was considered a second class passenger on the Solstice. There weren't even hooks to hang your clothes in the mens lockers. After a while all the little disappointments begin to add up. I know I am in the minority. Most people I met on the Solstice loved its "contemporary modern" look and loved this ship. I will avoid it in the future. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Our 8 day Carnival Miracle cruise departed Fort Lauderdale on November 5, 2008. This was my 7th Carnival cruise and 12th cruise overall. My sister, our best friend, and I paid for a triple occupancy inside cabin guarantee and were ... Read More
Our 8 day Carnival Miracle cruise departed Fort Lauderdale on November 5, 2008. This was my 7th Carnival cruise and 12th cruise overall. My sister, our best friend, and I paid for a triple occupancy inside cabin guarantee and were graciously upgraded to a category 5A obstructed view outside cabin! Embarkation was infinitely quicker and smoother than last year on the Victory out of Miami. I much prefer Port Everglades to the Port Of Miami. Our taxi dropped us off at the port around 12:20pm and we were on the ship in under an hour. We were told that our cabins would be ready at 2pm (instead of the usual 1:30pm). One of the reasons we booked this cruise is because the Miracle is the sister ship to the Legend, on which we sailed 2 years ago, and whose layout we really liked. We especially loved the Lido deck, with its 2 large and separate pools—very Princessesque. A 600 member bingo group had also booked this sailing, so a good portion of the passengers were older and playing bingo much of the day, therefore not saving lounge chairs on the Lido. Finding 3 loungers together had never been easier! Our cabin steward was Nicholas from Dominican Republic and his assistant was Santika. I'm not sure my memory is serving me correctly, but I think he was from Indonesia. They did a fabulous job on our cabin every day, and since I've been to the Dominican Republic many times, I was able to chat with Nicholas about his homeland. Our head server at our late seating dinner was Anthony, from St. Vincent, and his assistant was Aleksander from Serbia. They were so nice and hospitable and remembered that my cheese-a-holic sister loved extra EXTRA parmesan cheese on her Caesar salad!! Our bar servers, Elvis of Jamaica, Utama of Indonesia, and Amost of Haiti were all wonderful. The food was excellent this year compared to last year (including the Lido)!! The last time we had food this good was on the Legend!! Is it something about this class of ship? Notable (as always), was the Indian entrEe on the first night, the seafood dinner on night 4 (can't remember the name), the Shrimp Buerre Blanc, the Caprese salad, and the chicken tenders appetizer (yes, chicken tenders) also on night one. The lobster tail was tender and tasty, but I must say, it was the smallest lobster tail I have ever had! It looked more like a large shrimp. For the first time, the warm chocolate melting cake was not good this year—it was way more liquidly than usual—like it was not baked long enough. At breakfast, the Eggs Benedict was very good compared to last year. I had it every single morning. The Taste of Nations Indian buffet was to die for—especially the Paneer cheese kabobs. Much has been said of the Bacchus Dining Room's dEcor. While I wouldn't want this motif in my home, I really liked it on the ship. Purple is one of my favorite colors, and I just felt like I was enveloped in a cozy sea of purple. We've been to St. Maarten many times, but this time we were there on Saturday and the Miracle was the only ship in port. Apparently weekends are the slow time, unlike in our hometown of Ft. Lauderdale. The shops were not over-run and we had the beach to ourselves. We returned to a beach-side cafe that we visited in 2006 on the Legend and the waitress (Cynthia) remembered us (as the 3 of us together are distinct in our appearance). The grilled chicken on the sandwich melted in your mouth! We had our pick of beach loungers and umbrellas, which we rented from the same restaurant. And, the water taxi to and from the ship was a breeze—no lines at all this time!! In St. Lucia, we hired a Taxi driver named Jerome at Port Seraphine to take us downtown to the Castries Craft Market and ended up hiring him for the day (Note: Because it was Sunday, some booths at the craft market were closed). I did a lot of research online prior to the trip and the prices he quoted us seemed right in line with the info I got online. We always tip a few dollars over the quoted fare, which has never failed to ensure prompt service. He drove up like clock-work as we strolled out of the craft market, ready to take us to our requested Choc Beach which I had researched online. Choc Beach turned out to be more of a local hang-out than a touristy area (located at the end of an air-strip and cemetery). There didn't appear to be other tourists there, so we, as three single women didn't feel exactly comfortable. Our driver then suggested Reduit Beach, which I had already read about online and felt confident about based on my research (it was actually our second choice of beach). On Reduit beach, our taxi was greeted by a uniformed beach concession employee who recorded our taxi number, driver name, driver's cell number, and requested pick-up time and handed us a ticket with the aforementioned info. Beach chairs were $5 each and we sat in front of the very nice Bay Gardens Resort, which had was the cutest tropical beach bar and restaurant—everything was painted sea green and turquoise with colorful ceramic tile everywhere. We had a few drinks and lunch there. Don't be alarmed by menu prices—they're quoted in (EC) Eastern Caribbean Dollars. Sandwiches and burgers were $9 to $10 USD—pretty typical for a beach resort (just like in Florida). Our driver, Jerome, was right on time at 3:15pm to pick us up and return us to the ship. After doing much research online prior to the cruise, we decided that in St. Kitts, we would take the Mr. X water taxi over to Frigate Bay Beach. After arriving in St. Kitts amidst a gloriously sunny day, we couldn't find the Mr. X water taxi stand. We kept asking security guards and shop-keepers who gave us varying un-fruitful directions. Finally, we located them—they used to be located in the main terminal building, but changes were made by the port authority requiring them to set up shop on one of the offshoots of the mall courtyard. St. Kitts was another crowd-free port, as we were the only ship docked. Richard, our water taxi driver, took the 3 of us and a family from British Columbia, Canada over to Frigate Bay. The rock-faced cliffs were quite breathtaking as we sped along the 10 minute journey in the small but modern vessel. Mr. X charges $10pp roundtrip. The somewhat rocky beach was quite empty and the water was virtually dead calm. We rented well-worn, but comfortable lounge chairs for $5pp. The Mr. X Shiggity shack offered up a mean Pina Colada surprisingly served by a middle aged bartender from Cape Cod, Massachusetts on her ninth year in St. Kitts. I would highly recommend taking the water taxi to Frigate Bay, because we talked to cruisers there who took a land taxi and it took much longer and cost much more. Ironically, this was our second trip with both Captain Volpi and Cruise Director Brent—we also had them both on the Legend in 2006. I must say, Captain Volpi is a personable officer. We saw him several times out and about greeting the guests. He talked to my sister and me at length, and we told him how we had sailed with him before and also saw his interview on the Travel Channel. Some captains from previous cruises could barely give the time of day at the Captain's Reception. We attended the shows on most nights of the cruise—I especially like the big production shows, including the one on the first night (even though it's the same show year after year). On night three, the female singer impersonator was very good—this was a new act for us. I think I have to chalk this one up to one of my best cruises ever. The weather was nothing short of perfect, the food to die for, the cabin was a treat, and the itinerary gave us plenty of relaxation time with four at-sea days!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
What can I say?  This was quite possibly our best cruise yet.  We departed Ft. Lauderdale on Nov. 5th, 2008 from Port Everglades.  Embarkation was very easy as we live only a few miles from this port (we arrived by taxi).  As this was ... Read More
What can I say?  This was quite possibly our best cruise yet.  We departed Ft. Lauderdale on Nov. 5th, 2008 from Port Everglades.  Embarkation was very easy as we live only a few miles from this port (we arrived by taxi).  As this was an 8-day cruise, we were looking forward to a relaxing and fun-filled week.  And, boy did the Miracle deliver!After dropping our bags off at our cabin (my sister and I always carry on our bags), we set out to explore the ship.  We are always intrigued by the themed decor of Carnival's ships.  On the Miracle, the theme was literary works.  We had a blast taking campy photos of ourselves with the Mad Hatter in the "Mad Hatter's Ballroom" (talk about through the looking glass).  We'd only been on the ship for about an hour, and we were already in "Wonderland".  Another favorite of ours was the disco better known as "Dr. Frankenstein's Lab".  It is a 2-story club (typical of the Spirit class ships) with a 2-story representation of Dr. Frankenstein's Monster (great photo opportunity for us).  We also loved the fact that the walls of the hallway on the way to our cabin were adorned with artist renderings of great characters from great literary works including our favorite Agatha Christie charactersuper sleuth Hercule Poirot.We always book an inside cabin for 3 as we travel together often and get along well.  This trip, however, we were upgraded to an outside cabin with an obstructed view.  I actually prefer an inside cabin because the room remains completely dark if I chose to sleep in late or take an afternoon nap.  So, I was elated to see that our outside cabin was outfitted with heavy drapes that completely blocked out the sunlight.  Our room was clean and we were well taken care of by our cabin steward Nicholas from the Dominican Republic and his asistant Santika from Indonesia.  We always need extra washcloths and they were happy to oblige.The food on the Miracle was excellent.  In fact it was a notch or two above the food on the Carnival Victory the year before.  Our servers in the Bacchus diningroom were Anthony from St. Vincent and his assistant Aleksander from Serbia.  They were magnificent.  Every request was fulfilled with a smile.  They even posed with us for photos on the formal night.  We always take pictures of ourselves at dinner with our servers because we like to remember the faces that go along with the names since they take such excellent care of us all week.  I really enjoyed the decor of the Bacchus diningroom.  I'd read a range of comments about it on cruise critic, and couldn't wait to see it for myself.  I found it to be very calming and mellow, not overdone, but rather just "purple enough" to make one feel extremely relaxed, if not downright sleepy by the time the dessert course arrived.  For breakfast every morning, I always eat in the Lido buffet.  I always get an omelette made to order.  I am very picky about eggs, and it took patient, calm explaining on my part, and two days for the cook to get it right.  But after that (and I always went to the same cook) as soon as he saw me, he knew precisely what I wanted and how I wanted it.As usual, the entertainment (especially the production shows) was very good.  Believe it or not, I really love the welcome aboard show partly because it is the same exact show cruise after cruise, from year to year, and I know every word of the songs.  One thing that was better on the Victory, though, was the layout of the piano bar.  Overall, this was a great cruise.  There is really nothing negative that I can say about it.  Even the weather was perfect.  I can't wait for our next cruise coming up in September. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
We started our flight out of Seattle, WA and arrived in San Juan at 6:30am. We got our bags and grabbed a taxi into Old San Juan to leave our bags at AudioGuia while we had breakfast and roamed the city. We did a tour of El Morro. Around ... Read More
We started our flight out of Seattle, WA and arrived in San Juan at 6:30am. We got our bags and grabbed a taxi into Old San Juan to leave our bags at AudioGuia while we had breakfast and roamed the city. We did a tour of El Morro. Around 12:30 we got our bags, paid them for holding them, and taxied to the Pan Am Pier. Hot day! Getting on the ship was an easy process with the Set Sail Pass all filled out and ready to go. We headed up to the Windjammer for lunch and then to our rooms for naps. I can't say that I was impressed with the entertainment on this ship, because in comparison with other ships, it really seemed to lack. One night there were these 2 comedians - called 2 funny guys - and they were excellent. Other than that - I wasn't that interested or impressed. The Love and Marriage Show was pretty good. And the 70's night also. Our dining room table was for 10, so we had 2 couples besides our group with us. Very nice group - Jen and Matt from Texas, and Wendy and Derek from Canada. Our wait staff, Salvio and Baldwin were excellent and we enjoyed their care of us all week. Baldwin made sure I got my "savory bites" every night! (My favorite) I thought the food in the dining room was excellent. I can never understand the complaints people have over the food. Every dish I tried was so good, sometimes they brought us 2 because we couldn't choose! The Solarium served pizza, crepes, cookies and other snacks. We found ourselves here almost every night before bed. (One reason for the 5 lbs I gained!) The SeaView Cafe was another great find - Rueben's and Onion rings!! I must have eaten 3 or 4 of these during the trip. The veggie sandwiches and fish and chips were good also according to my friends. The weather was great even though it did rain on us a few days. It never really interfered with our fun. It was always warm and only rained for a little while and then it would clear up. In the end, a great cruise with great friends and memories. I think my next one will have to be the Oasis line - I've always enjoyed cruising and will continue to do so. It should also be noted that this was the most empty ship I've ever been on. No lines to speak of and it almost seemed like we had the whole ship to ourselves sometimes. I did kind of like that aspect of it. Although we wondered why they were pushing so much extra food on us at dinner and thought it might be because they had way too much extra because of the missing people. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
After extensive research on Cruise Critic prior to our cruise, I found most of the posts to be partially, if not all, valid. Spent a night prior to cruising in Old San juan. Stayed at the Sheraton and found the staff to be very kind, ... Read More
After extensive research on Cruise Critic prior to our cruise, I found most of the posts to be partially, if not all, valid. Spent a night prior to cruising in Old San juan. Stayed at the Sheraton and found the staff to be very kind, check-in was a flash and they upgraded us to a 7th fl. balcony. Even honored the hotels.com price that I showed at the front desk. $159.00 Great hotel to walk about and see Old San Juan. You canNOT walk to the pier from there though. Everything is a $20.00 cab ride. You could walk from the resort Marriott area which was about 1 mile and a half from the Panamerica pier. (wouldn't do it with a lot of luggage) We arrived to board at noon and sat in chairs till 1:30. We are fairly patient people and it appeared to go smoothly. We were on the ship by 2. We did have our first encounter with some islanders who appeared to be angry and rude....I noticed the Celebrity staff having to verbally warn them to not cut in the lines. Upon boarding the ship, we found the staff to be FANTASTIC! In fact, for the entire cruise. From wait staff to floor cleaners to railing wipers. They all smiled when you smiled and greeted you eagerly. We never had a complaint on our cruise so I don't know how negativity would have been handled. The ship was easy to navigate, well marked. I could see how some would complain that the carpets were warn or there was some wear and tear, but get a life! Who sits in their room on a cruise? T.V. was a little outdated, but who watches T.V. on a cruise? Room was slightly larger than NCL, balcony slightly smaller. Room attendant Jose was great. Meals were better than NCL, although I found it tough eating at the late seating. Too late.(Liked NCL's freestyle eating) Loved the creme brulee and other desserts. I found the buffets to be better than Golden Corral's. We did not frequent them because they seemed to be the gathering place for the islanders. They would actually throw their small pieces of trash right into the buffet area as they stood in line. Rudely elbow you out of the way, never saying "excuse me". Cutting in line and even hoarding food like sugar packets and baked goods in their pockets. The ports were GREAT and the fact that you were docked at each was SUPER! The only port with aggressive people was grenada, be firm with NO and they were very respectful. We never did an excursion, just walked the islands and found our own diving, never had a problem. Keep in mind I am an x-cop and my husband is a firefighter. Overall, compared to especially Carnival, NCL, RCI, we found Celebrity to be well above average. The ONLY reason we may not do Celebrity again is that evidently when a ship does not fill out of San Juan, they open the rooms very cheaply to Puerto Rican residents. Being of latino decent myself I was appalled at the rudeness. Especially being rude to the staff. Half way through the cruise I refused to step aside in the halls as they did and rather enjoyed crashing into a few. They also thought nothing of disrupting a cruise event like ice carving. The staff handled it admirably, however, security should have. MANY older cruisers informed us that they would never book this ship again. Sad that one group of rude people could cast a shadow on a GREAT cruise. And it was! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
My boyfriend (35) and I (38) departed on the Dawn on 12/6/08 to celebrate our three-year anniversary on 12/10. I've cruised multiple times on Carnival, and most recently on Royal Caribbean (4 times). PRE-CRUISE: We stayed overnight ... Read More
My boyfriend (35) and I (38) departed on the Dawn on 12/6/08 to celebrate our three-year anniversary on 12/10. I've cruised multiple times on Carnival, and most recently on Royal Caribbean (4 times). PRE-CRUISE: We stayed overnight at the LaQuinta Inn Miami Airport East. For $89 we had a decent room with Wi-Fi, and a free continental breakfast the next morning. The hotel also has a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel, and a free shuttle from the hotel to the Miami cruiseport (hint: you have to call the day you check in to reserve your seats on the shuttle to the cruiseport. The shuttles run hourly on the hour, with the first one leaving at 10AM). The hotel was about a mile from the airport, and there was nothing within walking distance, but they offered a free shuttle to one of three local restaurants. We ate at Catch of the Day, which was really noisy, but the food was really good. EMBARKATION: very smooth and easy. The shuttle dropped us off at 10:20AM, the porters took our luggage, and we got in line in front of the building with a few other people. They opened the doors around 10:45, and we sailed thru the line and into the holding area. One nice touch: they had some reps handing out that day's daily newsletter to passengers waiting to board. We got on board around 11:30, and enjoyed our free champagne while we walked around. Venetian opened at noon, so we had a really nice sit-down lunch for our first meal on board. DINING: I agree with most of the comments here the servers leave a lot to be desired, and the best food is at the specialty restaurants. Our best meal was our anniversary dinner at Cagney's fantastic food, wonderful service, and they sang "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" and presented us with a "Happy Anniversary" cake when they learned of our occasion. They even wrapped up our leftovers and had them delivered to our cabin with our dessert and anniversary cake nice touch! We ate most of our meals at the Venetian, which is just beautiful. We never had a wait of more than two minutes to be seated, and we were almost always seated next to the floor-to-ceiling windows along the side or back of the room. The food was decent, nothing spectacular, but we agreed that it was much like eating out at home: some times you have a great meal, but most of the time the goal is to just eat out and enjoy a meal. We ate at Aqua once, just to try it out, but it is much smaller and MUCH louder than Venetian, with exactly the same menu. We ate at Blue Lagoon for lunch twice great for grabbing a snack, but a very limited menu. We also ate at the Bimini Grill for lunch (great hot dogs!) We mostly avoided the buffet, since the food there was fair at best. Tip: we were watching Sunday football in the Pearly Kings Pub, which serves no food, just bar nuts and popcorn, and decided to go around the corner to Blue Lagoon for carryout chicken fingers and fries. Soon everyone at the bar did the same thing, which I think the bartender wasn't thrilled about, but it worked out really well for us! The only other pay restaurant we tried was Impressions, which had really good Italian food and a very nice atmosphere. Service was decent as well, but not as good as at Cagney's. SERVICE: There has GOT to be a way to improve the service in the food areas. Everyone we encountered, with very few exceptions, acted bored, annoyed, and rushed us along. AT the Blue Lagoon our first time, the server sat us, handed us menus, and said "what will you have". We were like "we just sat down, can we look at the menus first?" She left for (seriously) 30 seconds and came back to say "ready to order yet?" Amazing... We had one truly bad server, in Venetian for dinner on the last night. We watched everyone around us get their courses quickly, but we waited 20 minutes for our entree to appear after we finished our salads. (Mind you, they take your entire order all at once, dessert included, which always struck me as weird. How do I know if I want dessert before I've even eaten one bite?) Anyways, after waiting 20 minutes with NO ONE in our row getting one more bit of food, and not seeing our server at all, my boyfriend finally got up to tell the Maitre 'D. He came right over and asked another server to remedy the situation, and reprimanded the server when she finally appeared with a huge loaded down tray of food. Apparently she wanted to wait until everyone's food in her entire section was ready, so she could bring it all out together. Truly amazing... I do love the Freestyle Dining set up it really allowed us to relax and enjoy our day, and we'd decide sometime in the afternoon "what do you feel like eating tonight? What time do you want to head down there?" Some nights we at at 6PM, some nights at 8:30, just depending on what was going on that day and what we felt like. That being said, Freestyle Dining really takes away incentives for any of the servers to work hard, since they aren't getting tipped individually. Maybe NCL should set up a feedback system, where you get a ratings card at the end of each meal. You could rate your server for that meal, and servers with consistently high marks would get bonuses or other rewards. Why should our $10 per day "mandatory tipping" be distributed evenly? Make it based on individual performance. SHIP: Again, I agree that the ship is confusing, and we were constantly getting turned around. I've never had that much trouble navigating a ship. It also made no sense that on deck 7 you need to walk thru either Blue Lagoon or Pearly Kings Pub to get to Venetian at the back of the ship. There are deadends and dark corners that really throw you off. CASINO: Dark, smelly, full of smoke, really no fun to be in. I lasted 10 minutes at the blackjack table and had enough. SHOWS: We only caught part of one, the magic show, which was really good. OVERALL: I'd definitely sail on NCL again, but on a larger, newer ship, and only if they solve the problems with poor service. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Eurodam New Years Eve Holiday Cruise 2008-2009 (Dec. 27, 2008 - Jan. 3, 2009) First time HAL cruisers. This was our second New Years Eve Holiday cruise in a row. Last year we sailed on the Grand Princess. My wife and I are 50 and we ... Read More
Eurodam New Years Eve Holiday Cruise 2008-2009 (Dec. 27, 2008 - Jan. 3, 2009) First time HAL cruisers. This was our second New Years Eve Holiday cruise in a row. Last year we sailed on the Grand Princess. My wife and I are 50 and we booked 4 cabins. We traveled with our four daughters (ages 15 - 21) and my parents. There were just over 2,000 guests on this cruise. HAL was definitely a cut above Princess. Previous reviews: I had read the reviews for the past several months of Eurodam sailings. Several negative reviews made me worried that the ship would be crowded, the service in the dining room poor, the food pedestrian and the front desk staff cold and stern. All such reviews were wrong. Our cruise was fantastic. None of the Negative Nancy's was accurate. The boat never felt crowded, the food was excellent and ¬all staff were as friendly and accommodating as can be. Embarkation: arrived at 1:30 pm. No wait. Efficient loading of luggage and friendly HAL porters. The staff who hustle you through the security (remind me of hospital volunteers) are a bit crotchety. Entire process from arrival through room key to stepping on ship was 20 minutes. Our luggage made it to the rooms before 4 pm. Rooms: Our staterooms were ready within 15 minutes of boarding. We went to the Lido and had a pleasant lunch. The size of our veranda stateroom (balcony room) was reasonable and seemed to be about the same size as Princess' mini-suite we booked last year. There was more than enough closet space. The previous review telling us about the drawers under the bed was helpful b/c we never would have found them. They are under the dust ruffle. Ask the steward to empty the mini bar or do it yourself and you have a fridge. The bathroom was clean and the shower/bath combo worked well and had plenty of pressure and hot water. The sink is very small. The soaps and beauty products were complimentary and were of high quality (the signature line from the spa). The inside staterooms of our children also had plenty of storage but didn't have a tub - only a s shower. The balcony was nice with two chairs and a table. The stewards were great. Always timely and never intrusive. The room was clean and we always had ice in the bucket and clean wine glasses. Safe worked well. Room for the suitcases under the bed. The towel animals were a bit creepy (one was hung from the wall like a voodoo doll. Nice cloth robes provided. Two plugs on counter/desk and one in bathroom. Plenty of lighting. Closets are in hall along with cabin door and bathroom door. Congested area. Full length mirror in closet. Lighting is bad in that area. There is a lighted magnifying mirror on desk. Insufficient amount of lighting at mirror over desk for makeup. Dining: Lido: The lido dining for breakfast and lunch was very good. Breakfast has a great omelet line (the cook remembered my particulars egg whites, well done, cheese after the omelet was turned—by the second day of the cruise. Several stations for made to order eggs or for pre-cooked items. Lots of fruit, lots of salads, delicious pastries, and fresh squeezed OJ and Grapefruit juice. Coffee in the lido was as good as one could expect for mass-brewed coffee. It was freshly brewed and was very drinkable. The aisle-ways were tight by virtue of an added row of tables. Lunch had a nice variety including, pasta, taco and thai bars. Rembrandt: We had open seating. We made reservations for 6 p.m. the first night (have to make them for 5:30 but we were told we can come at 6 p.m.). We enjoyed our Dining Steward, the Asst. Steward and our Wine Steward so much, we asked and the Manager on duty to make us a standing reservation for that table each night, which he promptly did. The service by our Stewards and the Managers could not have been better. The food was also fairly good, always hot and exceeded our expectations. The variety was good, quality high, desserts tasty and there were always options for some vegetarians in our group. Previous reviews had dampened our expectations. The atmosphere was unrushed and we never had to wait for anything. We always looked forward to dinner. Canaletta: Made reservation for the specialty Italian restaurant. No extra charge. Food was ok. Service was great. No complaints but wouldn't do it again. This restaurant is a cordoned off part of the lido in the evening. Pools: There are two pools on the ship. One has a movable glass roof and gets pretty warm. The rear pool has a large deck and plenty of chaises. Even though the cruise was full and lots of sun - had no trouble finding chaise lounges. The bucket of beer is a good value poolside. Drinks: The drinks are made with a jigger glass so it is difficult to get a stiff drink. There is an extensive wine list and the prices are reasonable. We also brought several bottles on board as well as vodka and rum. Also, we bought liquor in port and never had a problem bringing it back on board. I don't think they actually care if you bring liquor on board at a port. There are plenty of bars on the ship. Fitness: The fitness center is huge. There are about a dozen treadmills and as many ellipticals and recumbent bikes also. There is a complete cybex circuit and free weights. Yoga and other classes fill up so book them the first day. You can usually squeeze in though at the last minute. $11.00 charge for each class. Entertainment: The shows were fun and the singers and dancers were very talented. Well worth attending. The cruise director Shane Michaels was the best. Very personable and always had something going on. Casino: The casino staff was primarily Eastern European whereas the room stewards and dining stewards were primarily Indonesian. The staff was personable and professional. The blackjack tables got very crowded. Blackjack was played with shoes of 8 decks of cards. No continuous shuffle here. There were three $5 tables but they were usually full. If you want to play $5 table or want to play along with someone in your group, you will have to go at an off hour. The $25 table usually had an opening. The slots, as expected, take your money and don't pay well at all. Ports: Aruba was not a very nice port. The docking area was pretty gross. Many shops were closed up. Curacao was very nice. It is disappointing that the only thing the ship will tell you about the ports is where the authorized shopping stores are (obviously a fee is paid for that plug) and what shore excursions are available from HAL. No other info is available about the port. There should be maps or other ways to learn about the island provided on board. Do you own research and read blogs before you board the ship. Half-moon Cay - HAL's private island. Ok beach. There are no umbrellas and the ship says the chaise cabanas (the shade covers for the chaises) are sold out. For $15 they can still be found on the beach. Snorkeling is poor from shore. There is concrete poured in places under the sand. It is buried. I cut my foot on the concrete. The buffet barbecue was not too good but we didn't expect any more either. . Bring your walking shoes - long walk from dock to beach. There is a shuttle at the dock. We enjoyed it though. Internet: $0.75 per minute. $3.95 one time activation fee. Wireless throughout ship. Still that is expensive. There was supposedly phone service at international roaming rates but I couldn't get a Verizon blackberry to work with it. Families: We had heard HAL was for more senior cruisers. There were more seniors than on Princes but there were plenty of all ages on board. Also lots of teenagers were on the boat. Many multi-generation groups. Not too many little kids on board. Nice mix. New Years Eve parties were in almost every venue on the ship. Nice way to find "your crowd." The boat rocked and vibrated. Nothing unexpected. Our cabins were close to the front. Disembarkation: Simple and quick. It seemed as though anyone could get off when they wanted. All luggage was available in the terminal, regardless of your departure time. We did Signature Express Baggage service. The bags are taken directly from the ship to the airport and checked through all by HAL. $15 per person. We were given our baggage tags and flight boarding passes the night before departure and didn't have to deal with carrying heavy bags in Fort Lauderdale Airport. DO THIS ON YOUR NEXT CRUISE. Also, transport to the airport was by boarding the free bus to the airport car rental center; then hopping off and boarding the equally free bus to the terminal. All told this took 15 minutes from ship terminal to airport terminal and it was free.No cheating here Broward County provides these free buses. Overall we were very pleased with the quality of the ship, the food, the staff and activities. We enjoyed the Eurodam and its crew thoroughly. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Upon arrival in Miami, we became concerned to hear of the woman who had been lost at sea while traveling on the NCL Pearl three days prior. We felt truly awful for her family, but also wondered how it would impact our cruise. We were ... Read More
Upon arrival in Miami, we became concerned to hear of the woman who had been lost at sea while traveling on the NCL Pearl three days prior. We felt truly awful for her family, but also wondered how it would impact our cruise. We were amazed at the efficiency of the boarding process, even when there had probably been an investigation of some sort going on, due to the incident. We boarded at approximately 11am and were encouraged to help ourselves to lunch in any of the restaurants that were open. We were informed that our cabins would be ready by 2pm. Actually, ours was ready by about 1:45pm. Our stewards were great. The provided ice twice per day and were always cordial and friendly. In fact, allow me to comment here that after reading many of these reviews, I have come to a conclusion. People generally respond to others according to the way they are treated. Most of the on-board staff was extremely friendly. I think it was because my husband and I tried to engage them and be kind in return. That being said, I rather disliked the wait-staff in the lounge areas wherever alcohol was served. They were somewhat like vultures, constantly hovering over us, pushing drinks. I drink very little and my husband doesn't drink at all, and sometimes when we asked for ice-water, it would never be brought to us. Twice, one fellow glared at me when I asked for water instead of a mixed drink. Let me end by saying that this was the ONLY time I felt any of the NCL staff was pushy or rude. As Latitude Members, we received an invitation to the Captain's Cocktail Party. We really enjoyed attending, even though we don't drink. It was very laid-back and cordial. The Captain himself had a wonderful personality, and the entire officer crew was present to welcome us. Though they have to stage these events weekly, they acted as though it was a unique and special time, greeting us. We both loved the food. However, there are some things better than others, and hey... any chef can have a bad day! We found all of the buffet meals to be delicious. My husband especially loved the huge buffet breakfast in the Garden Cafe. The two regular dining rooms for which there is no extra charge are the Summer Palace and Indigo. Summer Palace is beautiful and elegant, but we preferred Indigo, just because it was smaller, more intimate, and the service seemed more personal. The food was good at both locations, but there were some dishes we liked more than others. Our best meal was at Cagney's Steakhouse. We both at Filet Mignon, and I tell you, it was the first time I have EVER cut a steak with my fork! Wow! Excellent stuff! My favorite dessert, however, was at Indigo, where I had Pineapple Crepes topped with Coconut Ice Cream. Purely decadent! We also tried Lotus Garden, the Chinese restaurant. It was good, and the server we had was AWESOME, but it didn't come close to surpassing Cagney's. Spending New Year's on board was so fun. NCL gave the biggest party ever, and there was free champagne for everyone. Everybody stayed up, and there was a real sense of goodwill all around... people cheering, hugging, dancing. I have to mention that because I'm a rather private person, I like getting away from crowds. Well, the Pearl is equipped with the perfect escape into relative privacy. It's the Spa package they sell for $99.99. It's THE best $100 spent on board, let me tell you! Be sure to take the Spa tour on the day you board. If interested in the Spa Package, get it THEN... don't WAIT! They only sell like 100 or less of the passes, so that the place doesn't stay crowded. It is such a relaxing benefit. One of my favorite parts of the cruise. Since neither my husband nor I like crowds, we don't flock to every show on board the boat. However, there was one performer in particular I wish to mention. He was a comedian, and was he ever good. His spontaneity and way of relating to his audience was awesome. The comedy group Second City was pretty good, but not in comparison to the other guy. (Forgot his name... David something.) There was an incident of interest that occurred at sea about 90 miles or so from Cuba. Our boat intercepted some Cuban refugees. There were five men and they were in this little boat with a single set of oars. They'd been at sea for days, and had no water, food, or anything. The captain picked them up, but was required to contact the Coast Guard. It was a real shot in the arm with everyone on board living in the lap of luxury, and here come these five guys... the oldest a grandfather. Heartbreaking. All in all, this was a fantastic cruise. So fantastic, my husband and I have already booked our next one! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
We arrived in Miami the night before. Took Royal Caribbean transfer to the hotel and again from hotel to pier the next day. Miami Hilton Biscayne was nice. View of cruise pier from our hotel window. Buffet breakfast is a little pricey. ... Read More
We arrived in Miami the night before. Took Royal Caribbean transfer to the hotel and again from hotel to pier the next day. Miami Hilton Biscayne was nice. View of cruise pier from our hotel window. Buffet breakfast is a little pricey. Transfer to the pier went fine. A little confusion at the pier as to where the luggage went, but it was all sorted out fairly quickly. We arrived at the pier about 11:30. Hardly any lines. Those who were in lines were people who did not have documents out or did not do on-line check in. Things went smoothly for us and we were onboard in no time. We went straight to the hot tub and were soaking in lovely warm bliss all by ourselves. Liberty of the Seas is a lovely ship. There were 4000 passengers, but you could find places that were private. Olive and Twist was one of our favorites. It gets crowded around the elevators and the doors that lead out onto the pool deck. Lots of children on board which would have been fine with us, but where are the parents? One day we watched a group of children having "races" on the elevators. This went on for over 1/2 hour-no parents in sight. Of course the children were slowing the elevators down for people who really wanted to use the elevators for getting to another deck. But.....this is a big ship with many people on board. Are your elementary age children really safe unsupervised? I wouldn't have felt comfortable when mine were that age. Labadee was relaxing. The market place was a little intense. They are definitely hard sell. You really have to just ignore them and if you are interested in something and they don't want to take your price-walk away. I offered to pay $5 for a wooden bowl. The vendor wanted $20. I walked away and had 3 other vendors following me with the same bowl and quite willing to sell it for $5. Take lots of $1's with you. You will need them for tips. Lots of $1's for tips is an understatement on Jamaica. I've never seen so many people with their hands out and/or passing tip jars. The trip to the banana plantation is very interesting. Included in this tour is a trip to a water wheel which is a big tourist trap. As soon as you get off the bus a local links up with you to show you the water wheel, but then they expect you to purchase some of their wares. We only spent a couple of hours on Grand Cayman since it was New Year's Eve. We took the submarine ride which was definitely interesting for us since we don't snorkel or dive. New Year's Eve on ship was fun. There were parties in several locations and you could choose which suited your tastes best. We went to the Olive or Twist. There was a dance band there. Didn't get crowded until about 11:30. Free champagne etc. Actually we had free drinks up there several times. They didn't seem worried about asking for your sea pass. In Cozumel we went to Tulum Mayan Ruins. It is a long trip to get there, but fascinating if you've never seen Mayan Ruins. The ferry over is definitely the "vomit comet." There is no outside seating, the windows were fogged over so you couldn't see the horizon. These are usually my way of preventing sea sickness. I decided to try to keep my eyes closed and hoped that would prevent me from getting sick. I was OK, but could hear the sounds of many unfortunate people around me. My husband who never gets sea sick said that it was obvious that the crew was used to people getting sick and were prepared with paper towels and buckets. Food on board Liberty of the Seas was certainly adequate and presented very nicely. Our waiters Tyrone and Ramone were wonderful. Overall-it was a great cruise. It think my husband and I prefer the smaller ships, but Liberty is very nice. One strange downside-several of the decks don't go all the way through so you have to go up a deck, across ship, and back down to get to some areas. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
My aim is to please. Thirty three years of marriage and two very happily "spoilt" daughters and now their hubbies later, we were sitting around contemplating DisneyWorld 6.0 (we had gone there for the holidays the last six years) ... Read More
My aim is to please. Thirty three years of marriage and two very happily "spoilt" daughters and now their hubbies later, we were sitting around contemplating DisneyWorld 6.0 (we had gone there for the holidays the last six years) and I felt a big "Ah, no from the crowd." The littlest angel, oops my younger daughter says "We can go on a cruise cheaper." And she was right. We did not care when, we did not care how in the deepest bow to Dr. Zeuss and as the head cheese in Cheeseville where the pen who writes the checks is mightier than the sword...we wanted 1. New and 2. a port we could drive to. So, the airfares to Ft. Lauderdale WERE cheaper than driving when you factor in me not stopping at Cracker Barrel and buying 25 new "darling" holiday ornaments. We boarded the HAL line pretty painlessly and had three balcony cabins next to each other but connecting. Our stewards were beyond wonderful; if I felt a little sick and needed crackers, they were there in a flash and with a Schweppe's Ginger Ale to boot. The little touches were great; extra shampoo and turn down service; the 50 times in one week I got lost our steward would get me back to the central elevators and of course the magical towel folding; we still think it's a Turkey but maybe one with a racy past? His beak was quite large. Our captain and his beautful accent gave us updates on the trip and offered to do some real evil to a little thug who was changing the word deck (to I am sure you know) to another word by moving letters around. I still have visions of the young person and his/her family sitting on the dock in San Juan and shivering...never happened but the rascal stopped. The Captain also waxed philosophical about the "bigger ships" next to us piered at San Juan. And, he arranged for his crew to tour one of the behemoths. He kept an interesting blog and I found out once and for all; I do not get seasick, the roll of the ocean reminds me of all those roller coasters and rides at Disney. Our Captain also turned the ship around one night, took us back to San Juan and dropped off an ailing passenger AND got us to the Private Island on time. Magical stuff. We had a lot of rain and squalls to outrun and when the captain spoke of the "family atop deck at 11:30 last night, with their hair sticking straight up" well those pictures are in my den as a testimony to how nutty we can be. (or Dumb Butt) actually the picture frame says "Here Comes Trouble" but basketball runs deep in our family. Gale force winds, who knew? The excursions? Exactly as advertised. The dining experience? A little Fellini-esque due to the "Oh Maury" crowd at the next table. They played a running trivia game all week in the fine dining restaurant first question was "What would you do if you were taken hostage by aliens, who would you sell out?" and it went downhill from there. By the end of the week, these out of the barn but not quite out to pasture 8 brought their ringleader Lydia a satin nightie and the Baked Alaska took a back seat to her and Jeremy (ten years her junior) and their "luckiness" Ah, traveling is so broadening. We forgave it all for the steak and lobster and delectible desserts and (affordable) wine and the all important cheese with everything! Our waiter and wine steward were sweet, efficient and funny. They had little puzzlers for us each night, How do you fit nine horses in a barn made for eight? Easy: One is pregnant. And how do you cut a cake to feed six people only making two cuts. With my family the answer is a small cake for each person. Did we overpack? Yes. Could you replace what you need easily at the ports? No, so I stick by my original idea. Bring too much and enjoy. It's your vacation and talk about do it your way. You really just need sunscreen, your vitamins, meds and a couple of nice dresses and casual outfits. (For me, that encompasses three suitcases) and a camera plus spare. If you have two cameras with you, you never lose one. There was enough space under the bed for the suitcases, the closets were small but well thought out. The photo ops by the ships photographers? Cheesy, but it is you being you and you won't pass this way again. Well, not quite the same anyway. My favorites are the 8 am pix of people who never move before 9 deer in headlights meet guy who paid 80 bucks to snorkel and he will not miss a minute...It's like anything in life you have to stop and smell the coconuts or at the very least be happy you are getting a Rum Colada at Bacardi at noon on a Tuesday. Travel well my friends. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
The Emerald was everything we hoped it would be. Prior cruises on Princess included the Coral to Alaska, Sapphire to Mexico, and the Grand to Western Caribbean. The Emerald incorporates changes that prior Princess cruisers really ... Read More
The Emerald was everything we hoped it would be. Prior cruises on Princess included the Coral to Alaska, Sapphire to Mexico, and the Grand to Western Caribbean. The Emerald incorporates changes that prior Princess cruisers really appreciate: bigger gym, doors that open automatically in heavy winds, an alternative dining buffet at the rear of the ship (Caribe Cafe), and the Sanctuary. I don't want to spread the word too much on the Sanctuary, but my wife would kill to have that again. It is at the front of the ship and there are no kids, attendant service is full-time, comfy lounge chairs, Bose headphones with free Mp3 players, massage tables in private tents... You get the picture. It is an oasis away from the chaos of the main pools on any ship. It is right above the Lotus Spa at the front of the ship. There is a charge but it is worth every penny. It really irks me when people complain on boards about the food on the ships or poor service. The standard rule of life applies: If you are kind to people, they are kind to you. The food was fantastic in the dining rooms and even better than on any prior cruise. The cabin attendant was efficient. I am amazed those guys smile al the time when they are stuck in the jobs they do. We visited Aruba, Bonaire, Grenada, Dominica, St Thomas, and Princess Cay. On Aruba, we went to Palm Beach but get out your wallet if you want a chair and umbrella. Taxi fare is $10 each way. On Bonaire, we went to Jibe City in Lac Bay. It is where the windsurfers are and I have never seen more beautiful water and I have been all over the world. In Grenada, we walked around downtown but I was not impressed. In Dominica, we joined a private tour fabulous day touring with Reyno. I had read many great reviews of Reyno on Cruise Critic. There were about 20 of us total, ten in each very comfortable van. We were lucky enough to be in the van Reyno was driving, he also supplied a very knowledgeable guide to accompany each van, and ours was Roslyn. Our first stop was Emerald Pool, before the crowds. We hiked to the pool and when we returned to the parking lot Reyno was waiting for us with a cooler of ice cold water and beer. After the Emerald Pool we stopped at one of the Hot Sulphur Springs. Our next stop was Mr. Nice's Fruit Stand. Mr. Nice's isn't a place to stop and buy fruit, but a place where we could sample all kinds of fresh fruit and some very good candied coconut then give a tip if we desire. There is also a stand that sells drinks and hot sauce, we bought some hot sauce and really like it. All along the way Reyno stops to point out beautiful flowers and various fruit. On the way to Trafalgar Falls we stopped at a small beach to check out the black sand. Then we drove through the Botanical Gardens in town. After the short hike to Trafalgar Falls Reyno had another treat for us, a very tasty rum cream, or more water or beer if we preferred. Our last stop was a scenic overlook high above the town, a great photo opportunity. We highly recommend Reyno as a tour guide. as funny as I expected. Reynotours@hotmail.com,TeL: 17672451129/ 17676157698. You can read other posts about the ship but it is a gem Enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
This was my first cruise (as I am only 20). I went with my boyfriend of 4 years (who is 21) and we stayed in an inside cabin. Embarkation was really fast and easy! We booked the cruise through our college and so were rooming with 2 other ... Read More
This was my first cruise (as I am only 20). I went with my boyfriend of 4 years (who is 21) and we stayed in an inside cabin. Embarkation was really fast and easy! We booked the cruise through our college and so were rooming with 2 other people. 4 people was kind of a lot for a small cabin, but it wasn't too bad. The only bad thing about the inside cabin was that in the morning you couldn't tell what time it was (no sunlight) so once i woke up at 4:30AM and had to get up to see the time. I doubt it would be worth the extra money though- to have a window. I spent very little time actually IN the room. The ship was beautiful! Everything was brand new because it had been dry docked. The first day on the ship was relaxing but a little cold. (we had ridiculously bad weather the entire time...but i guess im just used to sunny california weather!). Food: Very good! We ate at raffles (the buffet) for breakfast most of the time because it was fast and easy. You cant really mess up cereal, fruit and bagels lol. It was good. Windows and the Garden room were very good!! We ate at either of these almost every night. One night we went to Cagneys (the "specialty" one with a cover charge of $25 per person). It was not worth it! It was still very good, but just about as good as the garden room/ windows. The portions were ok for me, but my bf and his 2 male friends ended up ordering 2 or even 3 entrees at dinner! The waitstaff was kind and let them do it...I was a bit embarrassed! It was great that you could eat whenever you wanted. Sometimes we had dinner at 6 and sometimes at 9. it was great. Ports: We booked excursions for each port because A-we are young and inexperienced and B-we had to do "educational things" because it was for class credit. In Costa Maya we went to the mayan ruins. The tour guide Jesus was very informed and taught us a lot. It rained (as it did EVERY DAY) but it was warm so it wasn't too bad. It is very unusual for it to rain this time of year so don't let that deter you! In Guatemala we went to the jungle and swam in natural waterfalls! Again it was warm and raining but it felt really nice to swim in the crystal clear water. Our tour guide Alfredo taught us a lot about guatemalan life. Thats the only reason i would say to book with NCL- the tour guides speak english very well and know a lot of interesting facts! We then went to Belize and to another Mayan ruin. This one was amazing! In Cozumel it was our relaxing day so we shopped and went on the "beach break" excursion which was beautiful and i must say we drank enough dos equis to make it a bargain! ha. ship entertainment: I learned to play shuffleboard and ping pong. Pretty fun. Also, there was bingo (which i never did). I did go to a yoga class which was fun. Karaoke was a blast. AND for younger people there were always "club nights" and even a toga party! The comedy was SO FUNNY but the magic show was really lame. I laughed the entire time though. Disembarkation took only about 30 minutes tops. I had a really great time and am already looking at booking another cruise (with a port closer to home)! Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
This was our 3rd cruise. We have cruised Carnival once and RCCL once before. We really liked the Carnival Cruise over our last RCCL on Explorer of the Seas. The food was better and the staff and entertainment was far superior. But the deal ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise. We have cruised Carnival once and RCCL once before. We really liked the Carnival Cruise over our last RCCL on Explorer of the Seas. The food was better and the staff and entertainment was far superior. But the deal this time around found us cruising with RCCL again. This time Liberty of The Seas. I must say this was by far the best cruise we have ever been on. This one is now tops on our list. The food was awesome, the service was top notch. We sat at table 506, it was right on an ocean view window, our servers Amar and Fayona, the best ever and the head waiter actually came around every night and chatted which I found very nice. You felt relaxed and like family. Our state room was kept very clean, all requested followed through with. Great service there as well. The amenities were awesome, especially the Flow Rider, what an amazing idea. We spent most of our time there. If you want more time on the Flow Rider I suggest using it when in port or when its raining. The kids areas were awesome, I actually regretted not bringing them with me, and the kids menu's in the main dinning room were great. The only thing I must say negative about this cruise was the Night Time Entertainment, as its been said on many other reviews, not very good at all. It seemed like a highschool play, if not worse then that. They try to make you believe its the best ever, but I've seen 7 year olds put on better stuff then that. I found the singers out of tune most of the time and the In The Air show very disorganized. They need work on this. Other then that great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
EMBARKATION: Embarkation was relatively smooth. A benefit to taking the shuttle is that they check your luggage onto the ship for you, which helps speed up the process. Our luggage was delivered to our cabin remarkably early, but I have no ... Read More
EMBARKATION: Embarkation was relatively smooth. A benefit to taking the shuttle is that they check your luggage onto the ship for you, which helps speed up the process. Our luggage was delivered to our cabin remarkably early, but I have no idea whether or not that was influenced by the bags being checked by the shuttle service. THE SHIP: Being fans of the Voyager Class, the Freedom was easy to maneuver. It is laid out nearly the same, so it quickly became familiar. TOWELS: I had read that Freedom placed no pool towels in the cabins, as on other ships. We had pool towels in our cabin upon arrival and our room steward exchanged them nightly for clean ones. FLOW RIDER: My BF tried it out on our last sea day and reported that it was a lot of fun. It is also a great spectator sport. CANTILEVERED HOT TUBS: Located in the adult pool/solarium area, these are a great feature. CROWDS: It's a big ship and there are plenty of places you can wander and find yourself completely alone - despite the huge number of passengers aboard. HOWEVER, the popular events were packed. I looked forward to the 70s party - even packing tacky 70s clothes for the event - and couldn't really enjoy it because people were literally shoulder to shoulder. Some folks were still trying to use the Promenade to walk from one end of the ship to the other, bumping and shoving their way through the tightly packed mass of party-goers. Richard Spacey (CD) and the entertainment staff did a great job, but the crowd just ruined it - at least for us. We'll return to the Voyager class next year. Bigger isn't always better. JOGGING PATH: We don't use it, but if you do, you'll need to get up awfully early. On Freedom, the jogging path is on deck 12, overlooking the main pool. It's packed with sun worshippers all day, so there is no possible way for anyone to run on the track once passengers begin to gather by the pool. GYM: It's great and well-equipped. No idea what's up with the boxing ring, however. Like other reviewers, I just didn't see the point. Never saw anyone use it. ROOM SERVICE: Was very reliable. We ordered coffee each morning, to drink before going up to breakfast. They called before delivering our order and were always on time. DINING: We used MyTime Dining on this ship and LOVED it! In the past, I've missed shows or activities because they conflicted with my assigned dinner time. (Yes, they offer two show times, but the early one is sometimes too early on port days.) On this cruise, we scheduled our dinner around our activities, rather than vice-versa. It eliminated a lot of stress not feeling like we had to race to eat on schedule. You do sacrifice the social aspects of meeting other passengers at dinner. The MyTime section includes more small tables and passengers are seated with the group they arrive with, rather than being seated with others. You also don't get to watch the performing wait staff, unless you walk to the railing and look down at the lower-level dining areas. With everyone eating at different times, the wait staff can't really stop everything to perform. We considered those sacrifices minor in exchange for the option of eating whenever it was convenient. The host seats participants in the same area each night, so you will still become familiar with your wait staff. I highly recommend this new dining option! Surprisingly, we were able to find a table by the window at the Windjammer every morning but one. Freedom opens up the specialty restaurants for additional seating at breakfast, so finding a table was never a problem. SHOWS: As always, the shows were great. To be honest, our least favorite was the "Once Upon a Time" show that came so highly recommended by our cruise director. The other shows we saw were all great. Don't miss the parades, the ice show and the Quest show. MEET & MINGLE: Ours was a bust. We met some nice folks, but only about 10 people showed up. The Freedom activities director was even a no-show. It was pretty lame. NEXTCRUISE: They didn't advertise this option on the ship, but it's a good deal if you know you intend to cruise again the following year. You don't have to decide which cruise to take while on board. You just promise to book one within the next 30 days and you get coupons good for up to $200 worth of on-board credits for you and also for friends who book to travel on the same cruise. We'll be trading in our NextCruise coupons toward a cruise in 2010!! PORTS: LABADEE: Better than I expected. Yes, it's a bit of a Disney-like, manufactured paradise. However, the natural beauty of the location still shines through. It's a relaxing first port with lovely beaches and nice places to walk. You don't need the shuttles, you can walk everywhere. Check out Dragon's Breath Point! JAMAICA: For seven previous cruises, I intentionally avoided Ocho Rios. I'd heard frightening things about the port. Like Labadee, I was pleasantly surprised. We opted for Royal Caribbean's "Cruise to Dunns River Falls" and I recommend it highly. LOTS of excursions take passengers to climb the falls. But few take you back by boat (thus avoiding the high-pressure sales pitches on the way to the parking lot) and even fewer provide the fun party atmosphere we experience on the Baby Reggae. Rum punch and dancing were the order of the day on the return trip and everyone had a fabulous time! Be sure to hit Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. It's a very short walk from the ship and hugely fun - even better than Carlos and Charlies! GRAND CAYMAN: We'd booked the Buccaneer Sting Ray and Snorkeling excursion on-line, having done it previously and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, weather conditions were awful the day we were in port and the excursion was canceled. Here's your second chance to hit Margaritaville if you missed it in Jamaica. It's right across the street from the tender port. COZUMEL: We considered the clear kayak excursion, offered both by ShoreTrips and Royal Caribbean. However, I discovered it was less expensive to book directly with the small resort, Playa Uvas. For only $45, we got beach chairs, an open bar, Mexican lunch, kayaking and use of the facility. We went snorkeling on our own, since we have our own gear. We had a staff member assigned to us who waited on us like royalty. (Thanks, Onassis!) It was a great day. OVERALL: We prefer the smaller Voyager class. We often found ourselves annoyed the crowds. It gets old having people bump into you or pile into the elevator before you can exit on your floor. If you are traveling with kids, they'll love Freedom. The H2O Zone is amazing and the FlowRider was a huge hit with the teens. We got GREAT service from Hanson (room steward), Adrian (pool bar) and Olena (dining room). To be honest, we got GREAT service from EVERYONE, the folks mentioned just stood out. It's difficult returning to reality after a week on a Royal Caribbean ship. After being treated like royalty all week, it's hard to return to being just average! Read Less
Sail Date January 2009

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