The ship overall looks old and the decorations are cheesy and tacky. The art hanging on the walls in the main gallery area have broken frames. Their suites are small. The dining rooms served a lobster dinner that totaled 4 bite and we ... Read More
The ship overall looks old and the decorations are cheesy and tacky. The art hanging on the walls in the main gallery area have broken frames. Their suites are small. The dining rooms served a lobster dinner that totaled 4 bite and we had to go up to the Lido deck to actually have dinner .As for entertainment, only four singer, but.eight performers, everyone should have at least one song in every show. In the soul performance there’s two blonde girls two white boys ...two dark-haired girls and two young men of color. It was racially and culturally insulting that everything was preformed by white singers. Magic show A+!
Servers Are very polite and well mannered I saw people vacuuming dusting and cleaning day and night. And our room Stewart was phenomenal I felt pampered like a princess. As for our ports of call they were dirty and full of beggars and thief’s. only one was worth seeing. Read Less
We chose this cruise because it was next on our bucket list. We really wanted to know Japan, not just from Tokyo, but from the aspect of the people in the smaller towns and ports. We have also had great experiences with the Intensive ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was next on our bucket list. We really wanted to know Japan, not just from Tokyo, but from the aspect of the people in the smaller towns and ports. We have also had great experiences with the Intensive cruise on Azamara in the past.
We hold Azamara to a very high standard based on past sailings. This cruise met and exceeded our expectations. The high points are as follows
1. The food in Discoveries has greatly improved with Azamaras new policy of giving the executive chefs free reign. Chef Colin and his crew executed imaginative menus. The food and service in prime C and Aquafina was as expected....flawless and delicious!
2. White night was a blast! The captain delayed it twice due to weather concerns. He was right and the weather was perfect. Again, freedom to act.
3. The azamazing evening in Busan combined unusual and imaginative Korean traditional music and dance with a truly amazing performance by the Korean university Tae Kwan Do team.
4.Shore excursions were executed flawlessly. My Daised and Kyoto were 2 of the many highlights.
5. The visibility of the officers of the ship makes the Quest different from all other cruise lines. They are always there to give a helping hand or just to talk. A perfect example was clearing Korean customs.
I could go on but I think you all get the message. Go for the adventure. If you expect shows and glitz and the other trapping of superficiality, choose another cruise line. If you really want to have great food, great service and immersion into culture, this is your ship! Read Less
Friends told us a Baltic cruise would be good for us. It was. We really enjoyed this cruise. We were told that our cabin was ocean view or better. We were told that meant if there were better cabins available we would be upgraded. There ... Read More
Friends told us a Baltic cruise would be good for us. It was. We really enjoyed this cruise. We were told that our cabin was ocean view or better. We were told that meant if there were better cabins available we would be upgraded. There was better available, but no upgrade. We were on a low deck that was extremely noisy. Not a very romantic send off for our first ever cruise and our honeymoon. The service in many areas left a lot to be desired, however we encountered some staff that was over and above any expectations and really blew us away. Food in main dining areas was bland and very small portions. We had the drink package and the fine dining package. The restaurants in the fine dining were simply amazing. We loved NCL’s freestyle cruising and would love to cruise NCL again but to know that balcony cabins went unused and activities staff seemed unprepared or even uninterested in some of the games and such makes you wonder if NCL even cares that you are there. Read Less
This was my 80th cruise overall, with most of them being on Celebrity in the past, followed by Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland America, Cunard and Carnival. We found an incredible offer back in February on this 7-day ... Read More
This was my 80th cruise overall, with most of them being on Celebrity in the past, followed by Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland America, Cunard and Carnival. We found an incredible offer back in February on this 7-day cruise and could not pass it up. My partner and I went and traveled with a close friend of ours who booked a solo cabin.
We started our journey in Miami. We actually flew into Fort Lauderdale the day before, picked up a rental car and enjoyed lunch before heading to Miami. We checked into the Holiday Inn Seaport and then returned the rental car. We took an Uber into South Beach for dinner before retiring for the night. We checked out at 11am and headed to the port via an Uber, which was very inexpensive.
We arrived at the port and were onboard before noon. The entire process was easy. The ship is stunning. Magnificently constructed, although the gray and burgundy theme inside was not my favorite color palette, it was gorgeous. The layout was fun and different than any ship I had been on. The majority of the fellow passengers were from Europe, and we loved it.
Our stateroom was on the 13th floor, a balcony aft. We had booked an inside guarantee and the upgrade fairy gave us a kiss... the first time ever for me to have this kind of upgrade! Also, MSC did a status match of my status with Celebrity, which was amazing. We loved the aft elevator being right outside our door and gave us quick access to the upper pool deck on 16 or the adult only pool on deck 7. Also, the buffet on either deck 16 or deck 8. Our stateroom was very spacious and perfect, I could not have asked for anything different.
Food is always subjective. I have to say in my opinion, MSC does a very good job. The buffets for breakfast and lunch had a beautiful array of foods with a lot of variety. Overall everything was very good and we were always more than happy with what our choices were. At dinner, we had the 7:30pm seating on deck 5, table for 3. The food was very good, I still give Celebrity tops, but I have to say I think that MSC rivals the food that the rest of the lines offer. Service in the main dining room lacked a bit, our team had 3 other large tables of families, and they were all high maintenance, but we were patient and enjoyed. They do three seatings in two different dining rooms. Very courageous, but they pull it off.. the thought is exhausting to me if I were a server!
The shows were excellent. We saw two, which we booked from an interactive screen onboard. We saw Wizard and Starwalker, both excellent. Just like the dining times being divided into 3, so are the shows. The theater is small and intimate, I think the smallest I have encountered. I did notice the missing orchestra pit and musicians, which I did really miss. Overall a great experience.
The onboard entertainment was excellent. There was always something going on, and the live musicians were all very good. There were theme nights throughout the cruise that for the first time I have ever seen... people participated with vigor! They brought outfits and all. I have to say, I do not know how they knew about them as I never saw anything about them other than the white party, which I saw a post on Instagram about.
The ports were great, although I would like the port times to be tweaked, but I understand the logistics with the 7-day itinerary. We were in San Juan first, from 5pm-1am. We walked into town and did dinner and had some cocktails. Next up was St. Thomas from 7am-7pm, we went to Secret Harbor and had a fabulous day of snorkeling and lounging. The restaurant there is not great and expensive, but the rest of the day was perfect. Third stop was St. Maarten from 7am-2pm, which is really too short if you want to go to Maho or across to Orient Bay, so we just walked into town and enjoyed our time. Last stop was Nassau from 12pm-6pm, where we went to Junkanoo beach which was just a few minute walk and we had a great day there.
The chair hogs were out in the most amazing display I have ever seen. During peak times on days at sea I would say that 80% of the chairs were sitting empty with towels on them. Horrible. And nobody policing them. This is where the line needs to step up their game.
The adult pool was great, although it was very deep at 6'5"... so be aware. It is salt water, which I loved.
We had the easy package included with our stateroom and it was fantastic. They let you get two drinks at once, so we would often do doubles as their pours are small. If you want a foo-foo drink that is over the limit, they let you order one as a virgin with a shot on the side ;-).
The internet was the best I have ever experienced. Instead of charging by the minute they charge by the GB. I loved it. I had a 3GB package included with the room and I worked every day and only used 1GB of it. If you avoid social media, videos and pics you are golden if you need to work. It was fast, too. Very happy.
In the end.. MSC, you have us. We loved it and cannot wait to return. The value for the money is amazing. Read Less
My family and I wanted to take a end of the summer vacation together. We cruised August 16-19th. We honestly decided to cruise Norwegian because of the open bar, because we normally cruise Royal Caribbean but drink packages for 20 is a tad ... Read More
My family and I wanted to take a end of the summer vacation together. We cruised August 16-19th. We honestly decided to cruise Norwegian because of the open bar, because we normally cruise Royal Caribbean but drink packages for 20 is a tad expensive. Norwegian open bar was really not worth it the staff was so rude and made the guest feel unwelcome like we were annoying them.
The food on the ship was disappointing. A lot of the food was like hospital food with little flavor. The service from the staff was horrible. The majority of the staff including the bartenders and waiters was that they appeared to be annoyed by the guests and seem to have a careless attitude about providing good service.
I have travelled on other cruise lines so I understand what quality customer service is and it was not there on this trip. When I would approach a staff member with a simple question no one ever seem to have an answer and the majority of the staff was not able to communicate basic english to answer questions like “where is the bathroom”? Or “what time are we scheduled to be at our next destination?”
We upgraded one of our rooms to a balcony and it wasn’t worth it. The room was so tight that you literally had to jump over one bed to get in the room. I really wish I had a picture of that mess.
Also, before cruising I was told I had to put a $300 hold per room. I did not have to do that my room key was disabled from making purchases which was fine I did not want to make any purchases. So if your wondering I set my payment to cash on checkin and never went to the service desk to change it. No $300 hold and cards disabled.
For smokers they don’t sell Newport’s so don’t run out.
Based on this experience this will most likely be our last cruise with Norwegian. Read Less
• Room Steward service was actually very good. He asked us up front if wanted our rooms serviced once or twice per day. That was the first time I had ever been asked that question. With three people in our smallish balcony ... Read More
• Room Steward service was actually very good. He asked us up front if wanted our rooms serviced once or twice per day. That was the first time I had ever been asked that question. With three people in our smallish balcony room we requested twice a day. Both ice and towels were replenished every day.
• Bar service was also very good. We got the Cheers package, and certainly didn’t break even this time. Carnival has a decent cocktail menu that is worth exploring. The crowds on the ship sometimes made getting up to the bartenders a challenge. You just have to horn in and raise your voice a little. The Lobby Bar and Casino Bar stood out for us.
• Main Dining Room service and food quality were certainly decent to very good. I was a little disappointed that the traditional surf and turf on the more formal night has been completely replaced by the upcharge menu. This is a noticeable cut to us veteran cruisers. You can get a hanger steak and some sort of seafood any night on the menu, but it is not quite the same thing. Expected more from formal night menu.
• Both Embarkation and Debarkation were painless. Since we didn’t have a car, and we checked our bags with the stevedore downstairs, it almost seemed like a walk on and walk off situation. Using the express option, we showed our Passport, got in a cab, and left for the airport. Limiting luggage to a roller board and a personal bag helps tremendously.
• Scarlett’s Restaurant was as good as any premium dining experience I have had on Holland America or Royal Caribbean. Steaks were expertly prepared. Art for the Table desert has to be experienced to really fully grasp. Delicious and entertaining. Service was 5*. Sadly, the restaurant never seemed fully booked on the whole cruise.
• For the first time in 15 cruises, I actually had to use the Ship Hospital when I developed a case of pneumonia. The very kind female physician from South Africa could not have been better. Steroids, nebulizers, and antibiotics were ordered exactly as they would have been at home by a good family physician. She made a point to call and check on me after one very rough breathless night in a hot room.
• The ship was crowded. With 3,700+ passengers on board, the 800 people above typical double occupancy could be felt all over the ship. Lots of lines for just about everything including the elevators. Mid-ship pool was a mob scene that I totally avoided. Carnival just does not do as great a job as RCI at dispersing the crowds with activities of equal draw in different parts of the ship simultaneously.
• The Lido Buffet for breakfast was absolutely the same every day. On Day One, I was satisfied that it was the quality of a decent cafeteria. If you are going to eat here every day mix it up with the omelet station or eggs cooked to order. They are almost hidden along the side walls as you approach the buffet. This buffet pales in comparison to any one of Holland America’s. Sometime you just long for a pastry and a bowl of Muesli - not the strange pale sausage covered in onions, reconstituted eggs, and frozen hash brown patties. No problem finding corn flakes and fruit loops if that is more your speed.
• Some of our party were smokers, and this meant that we all spent a good deal of time in the smoking areas. Tucked away on an obscure portion of the starboard side of deck 10, Cocktail service was really very sparse in the largest smoking area, and a simple trip to the bathroom requires a trip to another deck. Though clean, public bathrooms seemed fairly scarce overall. Another more agreeable choice is a small area on deck 3 starboard exterior deck – at least it was convenient to the Lobby Bar. Non-smokers would have to go out of their way to be offended here. Lastly, 4-5 bar stools jammed into the casino end of the Dream Bar is the only interior choice for smokers. I guess this is good news overall for non-smokers, but don’t complain when smokers are five deep behind five bar stools in the casino.
• Though I did not think the ship was in bad shape at all, the overall design was not my favorite. Decks 3 and 4 present you with the “You can’t’ get there from here” dilemma if you dine in the Washington Dining Room. Back up to deck five to cross over. You will repeat this maneuver many times.
• The muster drill was a bit of a mob scene. Cruise Director, Kevin’s very acerbic voice booming over the loudspeakers did not help lower the temperament or the temperature. It certainly wasn’t a great introduction or welcome being jammed onto another obscure exterior deck on level four that I never saw again.
• Our room was way too WARM. Any sailing out of New Orleans in August will come with heat, but did not expect this in my stateroom. It was reported twice and we received four pre-printed cards that stated that our room met Carnival standards for temperature control. I witnessed one of these inspections. Indeed, the vent was 72 degrees. The only problem was that it did not blow sufficient air into the room. The two letters received from guest services stating that it was important that we call them immediately to make sure our issues with our room temperature were resolved - not helpful. These phone calls just resulted in two more pre-printed cards. It just pissed me off even more when I was told that fans were reserved for those with medical problems. Alas, out of the blue, they did provide a fan. It did help a great deal, but the room was still very hot for a person who is sitting on the side of the bed all night long with a full-blown case of pneumonia. Having never experienced this myself, I have a new respect for my patients who suffer for respiratory problems.
• Others reported that their room was a bit cold. Avoid the whole block of rooms that include stateroom 7396 back toward mid-ship if you don’t want a hot room. Many of our neighbors said the same thing. Too warm, but I am sure it meets Carnival’s standards for climate control.
Would I do it Again?
Nope. Not this time, and that is a first time ever saying that in 15 cruise reviews from RCI’s old Song of Norway to Cunard’s QM2. This ship did not meet my personal standards for comfort. There are many varieties of “Fun”, and I am not swearing off Carnival as a whole, but I am the entire crowded Conquest class of their ships. DONE! I will also stick to longer cruises outside of summer or any other holidays, as I am more compatible with that Journey’s crowd and I am not even a senior yet. There are things that really shined about this ship, but I am afraid that the bad and the ugly outweighed the good on this trip.
One last note. The Shore Excursion to Uxmal is worth every penny. This is a world class heritage site that would definitely use Carnival to tour. Progresso is a great stop if you don't go to Progresso. Too logistical to do on your own, but they do a great job for less money. Read Less
First of all, we had a wonderful experience on the Celebrity Constellation when we sailed August 6, 2019 for a 9 night Greek Cruise, EXCEPT using Flights by Celebrity. I booked 2 Aqua Class rooms for friends and 1 Royal Suite for myself ... Read More
First of all, we had a wonderful experience on the Celebrity Constellation when we sailed August 6, 2019 for a 9 night Greek Cruise, EXCEPT using Flights by Celebrity. I booked 2 Aqua Class rooms for friends and 1 Royal Suite for myself and my friend for a special 50th birthday celebration. We booked this in February 2019. I can not say enough about the Royal suite and our Butler, Ali. We had suite 6133 and he and the stateroom attendant are top notch!! Also a shout out to Joyce in the coffee bar/Michaels club. She’s an absolute delight.
Now the issue...I booked this direct with Celebrity for the rooms and the airfare for the Royal Suite and 1 Aqua class room and paid in full in May, when full payment was due. I first found out several weeks before the trip my 1 hr 10 min layover in Chicago to Venice had been reduced to 35 min to change gates and get my luggage aboard. When I called Celebrity they informed me that the change to 35 minutes was an “acceptable” amount of time to find the connecting gate and have my luggage transferred. Since we were meeting friends in Venice for a day and half before the cruise, I was very concerned about the layover time. I called back again to Celebrity to be told I would have to pay Celebrity several hundred dollars to take a flight 2 hours earlier from Charlotte to Chicago through American Airlines. Frustrated, I called American Airlines directly and they changed my flight to the earlier flight with no issue and no charge. Then a couple weeks before leaving I realized Celebrity had me on the very last seat on the plane on one side window, and my friend on the very back of the plane on the opposite side of the plane window to Venice. I booked this in February...I finally called and paid American Airlines direct to change our seats to be together. Then came check in with American Airlines 24 hours in advance. I could only check into Chicago, but not all the way to Venice. We spent over an hour waiting in line at American Airlines ticket counter as we could not do curbside checkin all the way to Venice...The final straw was trying to check in back to Charlotte from Venice 24 hours before the flight. When I could not check in but my friend who did check in with no issue, since he booked his flight directly with American Airlines, he informed me they had 8 first class upgrades available for $500 each. I went to our private concierge agent in Michael’s lounge (since we had the Royal Suite) for assistance sInce I wanted the first class upgrade deal. I was worried by the time we went to check into the airport 3 hours before flight the upgrade offer would be sold out. (No surprise it was sold out). She did everything possible to check us in but could not check us OR previous clients using Flights by Celebrity in when check in was available August 14th. Let me say she went out of her way to help, but when she finally called Flights by Celebrity they told her I could upgrade to first class for over $4,000 one way. She was just as amazed as I was with the response from Flights by Celebrity and mentioned she would email corporate to inform them of the situation, even thought nothing could be done. I paid $1,800 to Celebrity for my round trip flight each person, which I am sure I could have done direct with American Airlines and never had these issues. I wasted 3 hours of our last cruise day dealing with this.
We used the spa services, several specialty restaurants for all 7 of us, gambled every night but one, closing down the casino each night and tipping the staff very well during the cruise on top of the prepaid tip package. We also bought a great deal of high end wine as this was a once in a lifetime trip for a few of the 7 that traveled together. The service from Flights by Celebrity was a slap in the face considering the amount of money I spent on that trip for all of us. Oh, by the way, on our return flight from Philly to Charlotte Flights by Celebrity had us both on the last back seats on the plane, but at least this time we were side by side. Never again will I book my flights through this company. I will go directly to the airline for my flights to save all the wasted time, frustration and money. Read Less
We were celebrating our honeymoon, the moment we set foot on the ship, we were transported into a world of utter luxury. We were doted upon and treated like royalty. George, the cruise manager, always greeted everyone with a friendly smile ... Read More
We were celebrating our honeymoon, the moment we set foot on the ship, we were transported into a world of utter luxury. We were doted upon and treated like royalty. George, the cruise manager, always greeted everyone with a friendly smile and answered all our questions. I am sure he would have also been quick to solve any issues but there were none. He was on top of everything. Everything was done effortlessly, or so it seemed, from my perspective. The staff was friendly, upbeat and Costi our restaurant server made me laugh, a discreet comedian, suggested food and drink, made me a toddy in the evening. He was a true delight. Vlad our attentive and intuitive butler knew or seemed to know what we wanted before we even expressed our thoughts. We was extremely professional and incredibly helpful.
The food was stupendous! The chef came around and wanted our feedback. No wonder! The baked goods are to die for. The lamb, wow. The soups yummy.
We loved everything about our trip! What a grand adventure. Sylvia the tour organizers took very good care of us. She took great pains to explain and plan the wonderful outings we enjoyed. Our suite was wonderful, ours was the Royal Panorama. It was spacious, kept spotless and generously supplied with anything one could possibly need.
Our laundry was taken care of and returned promptly.
The salt room felt wonderful after our massage. I could go on, but will stop here before I write a book. I am still suffering from Vlad ( our butler) withdrawal.
If you enjoy a phenomenal adventure and want to feel coddled in luxury, then sign up. You will love it! Guaranteed. Read Less
My husband and I have taken several cruises over the past few years. This was the first time with Norwegian. We were absolutely blow away with the top notch service we received. It began with embarkation, easy, quick and with a warm ... Read More
My husband and I have taken several cruises over the past few years. This was the first time with Norwegian. We were absolutely blow away with the top notch service we received. It began with embarkation, easy, quick and with a warm smile. This set the tone for our week. The food was absolutely delicious. We tried everything on the menu throughout our trip and we were never disappointed. Our room steward Emanuel went overboard (no pun) to be sure our room was always stocked neat and clean. Alexandrea our restaurant hostess was so pleasant. She was very Intune to all the details. We needed to ask for nothing because the crew was always a step ahead and somehow predicted our needs. How they do I we will never know but they made this the MOST relaxing and truly enjoyable trip we have ever taken. As soon as we got home we made a few phone calls to family and friends to plan a 2020 trip. We will never take another cruise with any other line going forward. BEST VACATION EVER!!!! Read Less
I first experienced "Your World, Your Way" service on the Riviera in 2017. A 21 day Med cruise, It was fantastic! This was largely due to the fact that Peter Roberts was the Cruise Director and his partner Jason Parsons was the ... Read More
I first experienced "Your World, Your Way" service on the Riviera in 2017. A 21 day Med cruise, It was fantastic! This was largely due to the fact that Peter Roberts was the Cruise Director and his partner Jason Parsons was the Assistant Cruise Director, they were amazing. The food and service on Riviera was also amazing and due to this experience the folks that I met on the Riviera decided to book Insignia 14 day Caribbean. Thank goodness we were with 6 other friends, or we could not have bared the thought of 2 weeks on this ship.
Where to start...let's start with the biggest problem, the cruise director! We disliked him so much, we can't even remember his name, we believe it was Ray. We heard the guy on the loud speaker announcements daily and didn't get to see him until day 5. We tried to be friendly with him and one person in our party went over to him to see if he was going to sing at karaoke or not - the Cruise Director was staring at this phone all through the event. He looked up at the person in our group and very sarcastically said - "I hire singers, I don't sing", then went straight back to his phone. All of us were dumbfounded! Believe it or not, it got worse, he then went over to the bartenders and started pointing and laughing at our group - we had no idea why, perhaps he thought his sarcastic remark to a gentleman in our group was funny???? Disgusting!!! Remember, when traveling as a group of 8 on Oceania we spent over 50K for the two week cruise - this type of behaviour should not be tolerated. School children are better behaved!
The food quality, in my personal opinion, has dropped since we cruise on Riviera in 2017. On Riviera, the quality and selection were extremely good - especially in the specialty restaurants. On Insignia however they were marginal. My entree in Toscana was horrible - how on earth can you mess up a plate of pasta? The pasta in the buffet was 100% better. I went to culinary school for 2 years, and believe and am qualified enough to remark on the food quality.
* The buffet was mediocre and repetitious.
* The main dining room was the best place to eat, but again, the quality was not up to par
* Bar Services at all venues were quite good
This ship underwent a dry dock very recently and it appears they just concentrated on the cabins and updated the furniture and carpet in the public areas. On the pool deck the boards were loose and warped. I watched more than one person take a stumble on it. There were very elderly people on this, you would thing that Oceania would spend the money to fix the teak deck. The ship also looks tired on the outside - lots of rust and
Overall - Your World, Your Way - I think not. This will be our last Oceania Cruise. The cost associated for this trip was NOT fulfilled in any way. We have paid much less on Princess, Celebrity and Holland American and no longer see the benefits of this marketed "UPSCALE" line. This line needs to re-think their approach, it's not working any longer. Read Less
Royal Seas. Let me first say that there is nothing Royal about this. Don’t let the pictures of the brand new cruise ships fool you. The ship we got on was rusted and corroding away. They called us with an all inclusive package that in ... Read More
Royal Seas. Let me first say that there is nothing Royal about this. Don’t let the pictures of the brand new cruise ships fool you. The ship we got on was rusted and corroding away. They called us with an all inclusive package that in reality, was nothing inclusive about. We gave them a credit card number that we knew did not have enough to cover the initial $1,000 so that it would be declined and they could leave us alone. Well they had a way around that and charged it anyways so that we were way over our limit. After 6 months we decided that this was not something we were interested in. After trying to get a refund, we were refused and told basically that we either take it, give it to a friend, or forfeit the money. After some deliberation we decide to just go ahead and take it. We should have just forfeited the money. There was a bunch of taxes and hidden fees that were not included in our all inclusive package. We also paid $300 to upgrade our resort on the island so that our food and beverages were included. We set our date, book our flights ($400 extra), and arrive in FT. Lauderdale. After also upgrading the rental car (because we aren’t fitting comfortably into a Kia Rio $170 extra), we get to our hotel that Royal Seas booked us claiming to be a Ramada....yeah like 10 years ago. Let’s talk about false advertising here folks. The room itself was spacious, beds were not terribly uncomfortable, but the AC only cooled to about 78 degrees. Top that with only 4 tv stations, and the late night drug deals in the parking lot....we were not happy. Then we find out the next day our “orientation” was actually a Time Share tour. Living in a tourist town we know what a waste of time that was about to be...but they hold our Cruise tickets hostage until you endure 2 hours of “OMG it wont even cost you that much and you get this and this and this” better known as we cost more then a car payment and will bankrupt you into a contract you cant get out of. Come on Wyndham, you could have at least put us up in your “resort” to sell us a time share. After leaving 2 hours of our life that we will never get back, we call Royal Seas to complain about the accommodations, at first we get a rude little girl who very unprofessionally hangs up on us. As business owners, rule 1, never be the first to hang up. After calling back and speaking to management, they acted like they were gonna put us through to HR to put a formal complaint against that person, but we were hung up again, and only after saying they didnt have anything else available. Needless to say, we packed our bags, found the best little AirB&B 1 hour away and hightailed it out of there with our cruise tickets. Honestly, the AirB&B was the highlight of our trip. On day 3 we make our way to the port to board the ship. We get there at 11, stand in line for 1.5 hours, get charged $150 (taxes, fees, taxis, etc) and board the ship. Only to not have our rooms ready so we are forced to be around a bunch of strangers while hoarding our stuff because, well, they let anyone aboard. After barely eating a down right terrible lunch buffet, we sweat our butts off on the outside deck so the claustrophobia isn’t as bad before finally getting to go to our room...Where we promptly tried to hide in for 3 hours until the dang boat finally set sail. Let me say this right here if nothing else, they do not tell you what’s included, help you out at all, or care if you are getting everything you want out of the amenities included. We were afraid to leave the room for fear of having to be charged anything extra and at 18% gratuity alone, no thanks. Skipping ahead to the next morning (because there are just some stresses that needn’t be said) at 830 we all but ran off the ship to the hot island Bahamian air where we had to wait on a taxi to our resort. There’s our first indication that Islanders are not very friendly, especially when you’re a different skin color then them. We were ignored and left waiting for the next taxi because one female driver decided we weren’t her people. The next taxi held 12 people in it, 12 hot sweaty people, barely working AC, and a 20 year old van in desperate need of shocks. 20 grueling minutes later we arrive at the “all inclusive resort” where we were told to make sure we have a day bag packed because for 6 hot miserable hours, we would not be allowed to check into our room. At first we were excited. there was music, white (ish) beaches, and clear blue water. We found our own spot along the beach and took turns in the water (after all, trust no one, especially islanders haggling with you on the beach for Conch shells, marijuana, and Cocaine...yes, cocaine which we were offered 10 minutes after stepping foot on the beach.) 2 miserable hours later we get our buffet lunch (mediocre) and proceed to sit around for 4 more miserable hot sweaty hours before standing in line for 45 mins to get room keys. After walking to the absolute furthest room on the island we are met with a nice cool ACed room, but missing towels which an employee gave to us about 20minutes after getting in there. 7 hours in and we were already dead sick of being trapped in this resort. After looking into tours, excursions, and tourists traps (dont even ask about them unless you got money coming out of your ass because thats honestly the only way you’ll afford anything) the next day we purchased a rental car. $85 with taxes, we set off on day 2 with the resort in the rear view. While we found our own private beaches, coral rehabilitations, and deserted roads, the island is dirty, poor, and literally a living garbage can. Trash everywhere, run down buildings everywhere, abandoned hotels. It was downright sad at the state of what could have been a beautiful island. Day 3 we return the rental to an extremely rude owner who decided overnight that we were no longer worth mannerisms and check out of our hotel to get back on the dreaded cruise ship. I will say the return home was not nearly as bad now that we knew what was included but still, Royal Seas isn’t even comparable to one of those little rescue boats hanging off of a Carnival cruise ship. Before they con you into spending your hard earned money, think twice and read reviews. Splurge for Carnival, or stay away from floating death traps that hold a thousand people who would shove you overboard to save themselves and make your own way. AirB&Bs include house boats if you wanna be on the waters. Just saying. Read Less
I got off the Norwegian Sun today after a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas with my mom. Are you ready for this tale?
After boarding on the first day, nothing was open and the rooms weren't ready. When we went to the room, we were given ... Read More
I got off the Norwegian Sun today after a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas with my mom. Are you ready for this tale?
After boarding on the first day, nothing was open and the rooms weren't ready. When we went to the room, we were given a single bed even though we booked a double beds. We feared my mother's luggage was lost, since it was several hours without it at the room. I spoke with another guest who said that his luggage was put on the wrong ship. We tried to call our room attendant "Brianna", but the number was a busy signal. We called Guest Services, but the number was also busy. The luggage finally arrived around 9 PM while we were eating what tasted like frozen food or bad airplane food in the main dining hall. We then met our real room attendant who explained that the number didn't work because "she went home today on vacation." Not sure why they couldn't replace the card with the correct attendant's name and number?
Shortly after eating/drinking on the ship, we would get horrible cramps. We did not know the cause until after looking up the symptoms on the internet today (the cruise charged $35 per device each day for WiFi) that we had contracted THE NOROVIRUS! Why did we contract the Norovirus? "Washy Washy" was not everywhere on the ship and we watched the workers clean the tables without gloves and without disinfectant. The ship was dirty and we saw crumbs on the floor and on the tables everywhere. The tables were cleaned with wet rags and food everywhere was not bussed. So much so, that seagulls would have feasts on the deck outside on the questionable food no one seemed to enjoy.
Comfortable sleep did not happen because we didn't have working AC the entire trip. We called maintenance the first night to fix the AC, but there still was no cold air circulating in our room. We would feel cold air while passing other guests' rooms and in other parts of the ship. The repair man explained that the coldest our room was allowed to get is 73 degrees and the ship utilizes "chilled recycled ocean water." However, 73 degrees would have been tolerable unlike the 80 degree room that we had. We were sweating laying on top of the covers every night tossing and turning. Everytime we reached out to Guest Services, a person who could not understand English very well would get confused and tell us everything was fine.
To make matters worse, our toliet would not flush and the sink constantly made a loud gurgling sound. The toliet was fixed a total of 4 times and the AC was "fixed" about the same amount if not more. The bathroom smelled of rank sewage, so we had to constantly spray hair spray in there to not gag every time we had to enter. The shower was also repaired twice, since only scalding hot water came out. We spoke with 4 other guests that claimed their room FLOODED! The toliet and shower eventually worked on the last day of the trip, but the AC never worked. We are leaving the trip completely exausted (and sick).
The entertainment on the ship was beyond cheesy and usually involved the ship begging for more money. The ship's shops were desperate money grabs, much like the $5.50 bottle of Aquafina placed in our room to "tempt" us.
The food was subpar and every meal oredered was taking a chance. During one dinner, I ordered French Onion soup because I thought how can you mess that up? Much to my suprise, that was bad too. The soup tasted like only beef stock and had no flavors of onion, salt, or bouillon. The ship also kept trying to pass off certain foods as gourmet. For example, one appetizer on the menu was "cream cheese and crab stuffed wonton with a sweet chilli sauce". Isn't that called, "crab rangoon"? We noticed a lot of interesting menu items that we believed to be recycled leftovers from other meals like adding bacon to sauerkraut.
We picked snorkeling/beach day for our excursion in Freeport, Bahamas which came be to around $150. When we arrived to get on the bus for the excursion, we were informed that the snorkeling was canceled due to weather. The ship did not inform us earlier of this and instead loaded up a tour bus full of guests whom we suspect were charged the full amount for a 15 minute shuttle to the beach. Instead, we went back to the ship and asked for a refund. We then caught a taxi which only came to $14 for both of us.
The White Party/Glow Party was held from 10:30 PM-12:00 AM the night before a port of call was 7 AM. The party took place by the pool deck and it was raining. The workers were squeegeeing the deck and the DJ was trying to get the crowd to come out from hiding from the rain. After the rain stopped, the crowd came out to dance and consisted mainly of small children. The DJ played EDM music for a bit, then switched to explicit rap much to the horror of the parents in attendance. They had a twerk contest on the stage and parents were taking their children to leave. A woman with a see through dress and a thong on got in the splits and began dancing like a stripper on the stage for everyone to see, kids and adults alike. There were other people on stage dancing that kept it clean, but she had to be pulled off stage because she was showing her buttcrack/vagina. There looked to be children watching as young as 5-12 years old. The DJ was blasting Cardi B songs and asked the crowd of kids to sing along to the explicitly laced lyrics. I left after that, since I had no interest in twerking around little kids.
Small things such as crew members not knowing guests' names, no towel animals, and no drinks being served by the beach chairs were also a disappointment. We cruised with NCL in 2015 and had a fantastic time, so we suspect there must have been a restructuring within management. The cruise reaked of budget cuts and corporate greed. We suspect that the workers were paid very little and we were told that they rarely get to go home to their families in their home countries. Sorry if this was too much to read, but I did not want to spare any of the details. I posted this on NCL's Facebook page, but it was taken down by the moderators (suprise). Read Less
My husband and I decided to book a very spontaneous trip on MSC Magnifica four days before the ship was to set sail through Expedia. We were coming from Boston, USA and took a non-stop flight to Rome, then a smaller flight to Bari, Italy ... Read More
My husband and I decided to book a very spontaneous trip on MSC Magnifica four days before the ship was to set sail through Expedia. We were coming from Boston, USA and took a non-stop flight to Rome, then a smaller flight to Bari, Italy where we embarked. We read some of the negative reviews (mostly about smoking on the ship and staff being rude) but decided to risk the trip anyway. We are so happy we did!! We found most of the criticisms of MSC and the crew to be completely inaccurate. From the moment we boarded, the staff, crew and bartenders were fantastic and very responsive to any of our needs. We did not have to wait very long for drinks, everyone was friendly to us and the ship was gorgeous. The cabin was ready when we arrived with our bags already in the room. The cabin was nicely furnished, very clean, comfortable bed and a beautiful room with a balcony. The dining in the main dining room at night wasn't my favorite. The food was good but nothing blew me away with flavor. If you are what we call in the states "a foodie", this is probably not the cruise for you. The buffet for breakfast and lunch was good, however. Very nice salad bar, hamburgers, french fries, pasta, homemade pizzas, rice, Thai dishes and lots of other choices. We went on the cruise for the Ports of calls and a spontaneous adventure. The dining portion and food were a low priority for us.
The Activities on the crew were fun, we danced, had drinks at the cool bars, sat in the sun, and attended many of the Broadway-style shows. They were cute shows with skilled dancers and singers and a nice way to end the night.
The thing we loved the most was the amazing ports of call. Every Greek island and/or city (Venice, Montenegro, Bari) was outstanding. Too much to write but a trip of a lifetime. Everything and more that we had hoped for. I highly recommend this cruise. The only small difficulties were lots of Europeans do smoke, but only outside. Not many people spoke English so we were a little isolated (but my husband found that to be a positive lol), the initial Embarkment was a 2.5 hour wait to get on board, and lines were a bit confusing in the buffet area for breakfast and lunch. I recommend going to the buffet right when it opens to avoid the frenzy. The only people I found to complain were the Americans who didn't have a lot of travel experience. Their expectations were too high for some of the places they visited off the ship. We understood that traveling to these ancient cities there would be lines and confusion since they are not equipped for the influx of thousands of tourists descending on their infrastructure at one time. Some of the ports of calls would have 5 cruise ships show up at one time letting 4,000 people off per ship.
One last thing, I do believe you need to be average to good shape to walk around these ports of call. I am in good shape (45 year old female) and found it to be moderate to above moderate exercise to get around with lots of cobblestone walkways and uneven terrain. I was grateful my 80 year old parents decided not to attend the cruise with us as I don't think they would have had the energy to walk around. Overall I would rate this an excellent trip and would do it again with my family in a heartbeat. Read Less
I am a former cancer patient. I entered remission just a few months ago and had my leg amputated. This was my first cruise. I want to start off with the musicians. There was music for everybody’s taste. But I enjoyed ALL of them. Luisa, ... Read More
I am a former cancer patient. I entered remission just a few months ago and had my leg amputated. This was my first cruise. I want to start off with the musicians. There was music for everybody’s taste. But I enjoyed ALL of them. Luisa, Juliana and Juan in the Accidental String Trio were just...the only word to describe it was beautiful. Neil was singing and Jammin’ the reggae hits on the steel drums. And Rob was rocking it on the guitar. DJ JD with the hits. The Brassaholics with the amazing Maroon 5 medley. And the Latin Band covering latin hits. Emma, Layla and Francois brought so much energy throughout the whole ship. Vargus Mason with the jokes! T.A. Williams at the Piano Bar. Diana and other bartenders tending the bar at the Lobby very well, including the bartenders on Lido who also bring their energy to the ship. I tipped what I could. Next I want to say how much I really appreciate how kind, thoughtful, and caring the staff was. They always offered help. I don’t usually accept help but I made some exceptions. I also made some friends on the cruise. The whole experience is one to remember. They always had smiles on their faces, and always greeted as we cross paths. And as you’re reading this to all of the staff, I just want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. I hope I get to meet you all again. Cheers
"Let your smile change the world, don't let the world change your smile..." - unknown
"My cup is full to the brim, I could go on and on, the full has never been told" - Buju Banton
Side Note: Im looking for a job also (email@example.com) all photos are unedited Read Less
Alaska has been on our bucket list for years, and when Viking announced they would be sailing to Alaska we jumped at the opportunity, having experienced a Viking River Cruise in 2014, the Romantic Danube. The Viking Orion had not yet been ... Read More
Alaska has been on our bucket list for years, and when Viking announced they would be sailing to Alaska we jumped at the opportunity, having experienced a Viking River Cruise in 2014, the Romantic Danube. The Viking Orion had not yet been completed when we made our reservations, so watching her development was exciting. Viking truly has transported the finest of their river cruise ships into their ocean cruise ships, and it felt like coming home when we boarded at Seward. One aspect of the cruise that was attractive to us was the specific itinerary that included more of Alaska than just the fabled Inside Passage. We did the pre-cruise extension in Anchorage, where Viking picked us up at the Anchorage airport and transported us to the Anchorage Hilton for 2 nights, then onward from Anchorage to Seward to join the ship. The weather was not always cooperative and in Seward it was raining and chilly outside, but warm and welcoming onboard. Embarkation was smooth and fast, and the primary downside was the distance we had to walk from the point where we cleared security to the ship itself mostly in the rain. From then on the weather was either cloudy and cool or clouds and sun. Valdez was beautiful, sunny and clear; overcast at Hubbard Glacier and Icy Strait Point and Skagway, sunny and warm at Juneau, mostly sunny at Sitka, cloudy at Ketchikan, and gloriously sunny on arrival at Vancouver. Of the many attributes offered by Viking, having all outside cabins with balconies was a definite plus, the small size was wonderful with just 930 passengers, and perhaps the one consistent comment we heard was how thankful our shipmates were that there were no children (us included). Folks, this is not a party ship, yet it packs in more entertainment options than are possible to sample in the 11 days we had available. We would definitely cruise again with Viking Ocean and River Cruises. Read Less
My partner and I, 55 and 58 gay men, decided pretty last minute to do this Alaska Explorer 7 night charter. We were able to get a good deal booking with the charter as we are alumni with many past cruises with them, and there were many ... Read More
My partner and I, 55 and 58 gay men, decided pretty last minute to do this Alaska Explorer 7 night charter. We were able to get a good deal booking with the charter as we are alumni with many past cruises with them, and there were many cabins to fill.....our luck. Also, we had never cruised with Holland American Line before and have wanted to for years, so a win-win all around!
We flew in to Seattle arriving around 1pm for a 3pm at the lasted boarding time. We had thought we would simply grab an Uber or Lift to the pier, but after getting our bags, time was running out, and we discovered HAL had a service to transfer us by bus to the terminal....so we used that (both ways as it turned out)....
Check in was easy as we were getting they later in the day and most had already boarded.
Our veranda cabin on the 8th floor starboard was decent. Definitely could use an upgrade as there were repaired holes and such in the bathroom. The deck really needed to be washed, as it was all a mess and dirty. The beds were quite comfortable, slept well all 7 nights. The TV served up some good movies OD, a few TV channels, access to the bridge cams.....nice. I liked how the closets had shelves that could be swung up to make more room for hanging clothes....every cruise line should have this great idea. Cabin steward was efficient and did not see much of him.
As for dining, we ate most meals in the main dining room and had mostly above average luck with our meals. We are mostly Celebrity Cruisers so that is what we are comparing to....I think Celebrity does food better, my partner thinks HAL is just a bit better. The Lido Market is not a bad place for snacks and small meal.
Overall, the service onboard is wonderful. The staff seems to enjoy what they are doing and we enjoyed having one waiter all week who treated us great. I would say the general overall service seems a bit warmer on HAL that Celebrity. Also, the Oosterdam has a warmer feel to it than most of the Celebrity ships. The design is obviously night and day, with Celebrity more modern and HAL a bit traditional. I like the change and the size of the ship.
As a charter ship, the on board entertainment was quite good. A few let downs, but over all some great comedy, music and dancing were well done. The ships own dancers did an awesome job the night I saw them, using the huge screens on stage to interact with....something new to me and fun to watch!
Something else HAL does is the Lincoln Center Stage, with a string quintet and pianist play a huge variety throughout the cruise. I wish I was able to see more of them, but what I did hear was top-notch.....
OK, the internet! I thought I would take advantage of buying a weekly package before boarding as I would save about $50 for the 'Premier' package and be able to stream shows if I would like. Well, the internet on the Oosterdam is a joke. I was never able to stream....downloading pictures from Facebook took many seconds, and often,,,,very often, the whole thing stopped and needed to be restarted.....not fun....the front desk passed on my concerns.....but while I was there at the front desk,(and every time I was there, btw) other passengers were also complaining and some were rather irate. I just put down my iPad and did not let it bother me. But just don't expect much in terms internet on the Oosterdam.
We had been to Alaska a few times before, so did not do many excursions, but LOVE seeing Hubbard Glacier....always my favorite part of an Alaska cruise!
We would certainly consider HAL again....we like the 1900 pax load. Not too small, not too big. The food was good and service great.
While this review was a little boring, the ship was not! I would suggest this to those who like music, relaxed atmosphere and a ship not geared up with bells and whistles of all the newer ships like RCL and Norwegian and Carnival.
I almost forgot my favorite place on the ship, the Crows Nest on the top deck.....great place to sit and stare out watching the world go by with the panoramic windows....and a bar and coffeeshop..... Read Less
this cruise was amazing, coming with one side of the family it was a fantastic trip. Everyone was always occupied and the activities couldn't have been better. There were lots of shows to watch and parties to go to. Our room was a bit ... Read More
this cruise was amazing, coming with one side of the family it was a fantastic trip. Everyone was always occupied and the activities couldn't have been better. There were lots of shows to watch and parties to go to. Our room was a bit small, but our room stewards couldn't have been better. Every day there were great activities on for the whole family, which varied from White parties to Gatsby dance classes. The food in the pantry was pretty good, but could have been better if there was a bigger range. The pizza restaurant on level 8 served amazing food, and so did Dragon Lady (level 5), the only disappointing part was that it cost more to eat at these places.Our cruise travelled to Noumea, Maré, Lifou and Isle of Pines. This trip had been going smoothly until day 6 when the weather in Maré was miserable, as it was raining all day, when we reached Isle of Pines the following day (the last island) we were told that we weren't going to be getting off the ship due to the swell. The rocking of the boat was definitely noticeable throughout most of the trip but sailing with P & O Pacific Explorer was great!. Read Less
This was an exclusive group booking by BrandG sailing down river to Oporto.
First glance showed this to be a new modern and smart boat with decent top deck and small cool shallow pool. The top deck needed clearing to get under one ... Read More
This was an exclusive group booking by BrandG sailing down river to Oporto.
First glance showed this to be a new modern and smart boat with decent top deck and small cool shallow pool. The top deck needed clearing to get under one bridge only.
We were able to visit the bridge once.
The crew were very pleasant and the bar service excellent compared to previous river sailings.
Food was fine and waiter served at dinner but buffet lines for lunch were often long.
Our double bed cabin on 3 deck had a large slide back glass wall which was excellent with good curtains as some times you are alongside another boat. They do not sail at night.
Good shower. The air con unit was directly above the bed though and a little difficult to adjust! Decent storage space and safe. The duvet was too warm though.
The river and huge locks interesting, though the water can be slow flowing and green in places.
A good value boat. Read Less
We were a group of four - a 50+ couple travelling with our 14 year old son and my 80+ mother (with limited mobility).
We selected two, back to back 7 day cruises making a figure 8 from Palma de Mallorca around Portugal, Spain, Italy and ... Read More
We were a group of four - a 50+ couple travelling with our 14 year old son and my 80+ mother (with limited mobility).
We selected two, back to back 7 day cruises making a figure 8 from Palma de Mallorca around Portugal, Spain, Italy and Southern France. We chose the ship and Marella (Tui) because it went where we wanted to go when we were able to go - we haven’t cruised with Marella before.
First - some shout outs to the exceptional service from our cabin staff - led by Faiden - who looked after us all with great care throughout our fortnight.
We particularly enjoyed the e-bike excursions led by Niko and Ashleigh - they led us through the sights and the beaches of Portimao, Corsica and St Raphael.
We also used some of the coach based excursions- which were comfortable and as expected.
We appreciated the peace of mind of all inclusive drinks - the upgrade was not necessary- and saw no evidence of it being abused by our fellow passengers.
We were keen patrons of the coffee port, where we always enjoyed friendly service from Tamara.
We ended up consistently using the Islands buffet for meals, for the pure convenience and because we tended to be earlier to rise and to bed than most, so that we tended to want our meals earlier than the other restaurants opened. We had breakfast a couple of times in the waiter service 47 degrees dining room - and it was a better experience. Islands certainly has a variety of food, but it has to be said that some of it was not very tasty - which is probably an inevitable consequence of the cooking methods required to produce food on that scale. Nonetheless we opted for convenience and there was usually something memorable on our plate each night.
We frequently used the gym and adjoining spa/sauna services which were well equipped and set up.
We preferred the Glass house indoor pool area which was quieter and cooler than the main pool area.
In summary, the cruise delivered the experience we had hoped for with some of the staff making it that little bit better than we had expected. Read Less
This was our third cruise on Equinox--our fifth with Celebrity. Embarkation was fast and painless and in a new change, our room keys were waiting in the slot outside our rooms. The just took our picture at check in. We were allowed to ... Read More
This was our third cruise on Equinox--our fifth with Celebrity. Embarkation was fast and painless and in a new change, our room keys were waiting in the slot outside our rooms. The just took our picture at check in. We were allowed to board at about 1045 and staterooms were available by 1 pm. The ship was freshly out of drydock sporting a dazzling new paint job, new carpets and many interior changes. We were in Aqua Class and our stateroom had been completely renovated with all new carpeting and soft products including some comfortable throw pillows on the sofa. Best of all was Equinox was under the command of Captain Kate McCue, the only American female to serve as Master on a large cruise ship. She is personable, approachable and could easily be confused as a model. The also travels with her pet cat on the bridge and in her stateroom. Food in the Blu Dining Room seems to have declined with rather odd good choices in the evening. I believe five nights they served gnocci in some form or other and one night there was nothing on the menu that appealed so I went to the "every night" backup of a New York Strip steak. It was overcooked and mostly gristle. One night we ate in the Tuscan Dining room and that menu was extensive and nicely prepared. Our cabin was 1587--this is the third time we have had the same cabin as it is the street address for my family. In the past our room attendants were highly visible, responsive and kept the cabin neat and clean. This time our room generally did not receive its initial cleaning until between 3 and 4 pm which effectively blocked an afternoon nap after a morning in the sun. There was no turn-down service--just the pillows plumped up and a chocolate placed on top while the bathroom received a facelift with clean towels. We were not very pleased but did not want to create an issue while aboard so we tried to ignore the short comings. We actually did not even meet our room attendant until day three! We like to spend quiet days at sea by the pool with a good book and there were two of those. Costa Maya as a port is a waste of time. Key West and Cozumel were very nice and in Key West, since we were docked at the Naval Base, had transportation to take us from the ship into town and back. Grand Cayman was a lot of fin as we signed up for the tour of Sting Ray City. It took about 30 minutes on a catamaran to get out to the spot which was a comfortable chest deep with soft white sand beneath. The rays were very curious and used to being handled so we had a god time feeding them and just holding them. A photographer aboard took many shots which were available for purchase at only slightly outrageous prices. Avoid the temptation to purchase food unless paying $29.00 for a hot dog does not bother you. There was a new excursion offered-a "backstairs" tour of the ship. It was a tad steep at $99.00 but we went and thoroughly enjoyed it. We were given special passes and lanyards and were shown the galleys, engine control room, recycling center, food storage areas, one of six crew bars and a peek into a crew dining room. We walked along "I-95" as the crew corridor that runs the entire length of the ship is called. I never realized there were six decks located below the water line. We ended our tour with the Navigation Bridge. A nice young officer explained the operation of the ship to us and we were allowed to photograph anything we wanted--just no videos. Disembarkation was a snap--we were off the ship promptly at 8 am and our bags awaited us and there was no customs clearance, just a quick facial recognition shot. Read Less
I am getting emotional just reflecting on how good the experience was.
The food, the outstanding service, and the staff all exceeded what I expected.
As a teacher, It was nice to sit back and forget the worries of teaching, grading ... Read More
I am getting emotional just reflecting on how good the experience was.
The food, the outstanding service, and the staff all exceeded what I expected.
As a teacher, It was nice to sit back and forget the worries of teaching, grading papers, and the responsibilities of just being an adult.
It appeared that every moment was thought out in detail, and the service was what I think resembled near butler service.
I am already thinking of planning another cruise next year.
For anybody thinking about taking a river cruise, don't give it a second thought and book.
I traveled with my life long partner, and we've been together for 30 years.
There were other couples of the same sex, and we were all accepted and treated as one of the family by the staff and cruise members.
What an experience to last a lifetime!
Oh, a thank you card from them arrived today. Read Less
I'll try to be as concise as possible while highlighting the key points. This was our 12th cruise, 10th on Celebrity. We are a gay couple in our early 40s. Our cruise had ~400 children possibly due to a special sale where 3rd and 4th ... Read More
I'll try to be as concise as possible while highlighting the key points. This was our 12th cruise, 10th on Celebrity. We are a gay couple in our early 40s. Our cruise had ~400 children possibly due to a special sale where 3rd and 4th passengers sailed free. Our cruise was also not sold out...possibly due to the branding of this as a "pride party" cruise with Adam Rippon as host.
Dining. The specialty restaurants on Edge are not up to the standards of the Solstice class. Le Petit Chef was more gimmick than quality. Steak/Frites was OK but not worth the cost for the movie on the table and the "experience" of getting the same food with the same movie as every other guest. This is NOT up to the standards of Murano or Qsine. Fine Cut Steakhouse was a complete waste of an evening. The food was average and the noise from the atrium music was deafening. 6oz filet was less than 1/2 inch thick and overcooked. Typically a petite filet will be thick but small...not here, they seemed to just cut a large filet in half. Again, NOT the quality of food,ambience, and/or service of Murano (or frankly even Tuscan on the Solstice class). Eden was the tallest of the midgets with good, creative food and fine service (seriously though, we don't need actors pretending to be mesmerized by the presentation of the food by the waiter). Rooftop Garden Grill was good, but not the same fun as the Lawn Club, maybe it was the staff, maybe the concept, or maybe the blinding wind in your face experience...Lawn Club nestled behind the smoke stack is much more smartly located than this place. Luminae...food was good, service excellent, ambience and fellow guests will be discussed later. We did not eat in any of the four main dining rooms.
Cabin. Wrote a separate review. The Sky Suite aft facing is a great room. Super comfortable bed. One surprise...there are only USB and power outlets on one side of the bed, so either you need a LONG cord or you can't both charge overnight and have the phone next to you for the morning alarm.
Ship. The overall ship is very well done. Ceilings are nice and high, the whole ship feels airy and fresh. The use of fresh plants is extensive and really amazing. Downside...the martini bar is gone and the new atrium bar is not the same...does not promote the same feeling of togetherness. The layout of the ship is also not as open...more dead-ends and blocked paths than we expect on a modern ship. Finally, Eden is a nice space but it is way at the back of the ship and so you really need to want to go there to get there versus just pass through and fancy a seat.
Fellow Passengers and Celebrity Policy. All I can say is WOW. We have never experienced worse passenger/parent behavior ever. So much so, that we are giving Celebrity one more chance to retain us as loyalists before seeking alternative lines with either fewer kids or better policies to help the staff control the kids. This is an example of terrible parents and Celebrity staff handcuffed due to lack of policies and terrified of bad reviews from bad parents. Some examples...(1) Parents in Luminae sitting at one end of the restaurant and their children at a table at the other end at a "kids table"...the kids were between 5-12 years old and sprinted back and forth to engage with their parents. (2) Parents leaving their sleeping children in strollers at the edge of the casino from 10P onward for hours as the parents disappeared to gamble/drink/party. Celebrity did nothing till guests complained repeatedly and then the parents repeated this behavior night after night. (3) Suite class retreat pool area became the kiddie pool day after day with running, screaming, and generally poorly behaved children left unattended by their parents. (4) Parents in Le Petit Chef more focused on their phones and presumably instagramming their meal than their children running through the restaurant to chat with their new friends. These are things that could be controlled with policy and with staff that did not live in fear of a bad review from a parent who broke the policy. (5) Parents leaving their children in the kids zone till past 12A as they partied the night away without advising staff that they would be 2+ hours later than the closing time.
We are booked for a trip on a Solstice class ship this fall and we will see if Celebrity can be redeemed. If the 3rd and 4th passenger free or 50% discounts continue and the ships continue to be dominated by bad parents and their children we will be forced to find a line that knows how to manage them. Read Less
I chose this cruise due to its sailing date and my school schedule. I figured an 8 night cruise would be a good way to finish my summer before returning to class full time. When we were approaching the ship it was dirty with rust staining ... Read More
I chose this cruise due to its sailing date and my school schedule. I figured an 8 night cruise would be a good way to finish my summer before returning to class full time. When we were approaching the ship it was dirty with rust staining by the anchors. We were told we were getting an upgrade when we arrived to the port as we had requested it and they said the employees at the port can get you into your upgraded room. When we checked in we were told there wouldn’t be an upgrade like the employee said there would be. So we went to our room and it was very tiny and hard to navigate with both people in it. Once we were settled in the room we went to explore the ship some. We went to get a quick snack then walk some more after that. The pool was about the size of my living room. Our luggage was held for a while too, for no reason that could be explained but we know it can be chaos too sometimes. As we were sailing out of port we noticed a rather strong sewage smell on the pool deck. We went back inside and finished walking the ship and finding things to do(which wasn’t much). We went back to the room and showered, the water was presently warm, the only down side was it didn’t drain quickly. I asked our steward why it wasn’t draining fast and he said it’s an older ship, which I understand and said thanks, he did say if it starts to spill out to let him know and they would definitely fix it at one of the ports. We went to bed relatively early due to the fact we had to drive from Daytona down to Miami. When I woke up the next morning it was due to the fact my hip was in pain(have had 2 procedures done on it at 25) which isn’t their issue, the room steward got me an additional pillow to put under my hip with a blanket which I was very grateful for! I went and had some breakfast and sat up on the front deck to wake up some and enjoy the ocean and nice breeze. With the days at sea it usually was a better idea to go to the pool early if possible or late before it closed as it was pretty crowded. If you were on the pool deck you got a smell of sewage, if you went up to the bow area it was fine as you were up wind. We had met some friends and had a few drinks with the day at sea and planned for the first stop at Coco Cay. When we arrived into Coco Cay it was overcast which was AMAZING as it had a nice breeze and would have been rather hot. We walked around did some shopping and enjoyed the lounge chairs on the beach. Our next stop was in San Juan Puerto Rico. We got into Puerto Rico in the afternoon which didn’t leave too much time to explore. I definitely would consider going back to Puerto Rico when there was more time to explore as there was TONS to see! I was headed to the Windjammer Cafe and stopped by the restroom. When I walked in the urinals were overflowing onto the floor(it happened rather frequently at least daily from what I saw). I went and notified the staff who said they’ll address the issue soon. I went to eat dinner they only had water and tea to drink, so I ate dinner and decided to go buy the drink package. We decided to tough out the smell and join people down on the pool deck to have a drink and talk about the next stop. When we got to St. Croix we went on a dive excursion, it was extremely well priced and the staff running it were great too! There are some shops there that have very unique things to buy which was also nice. Upon entering the boat after our day of exploring I went to shower and get freshened up. We decided to go get dinner and head up to the bow area to enjoy the departure. When we got into the cafe they had a chef making meals for everyone. We gave him four tries at cooking food and it still didn’t click and come out right. He kept adding additional things that we didn’t want even though we were standing there saying yes and no to ingredients, partially due to an allergy. I sat up on the bow and did some work on my laptop and enjoyed the night. Our next stop was St. Thomas! When we left the ship we walked some and also did a van excursion and met up with some people we know in the area! The staff were very friendly, they also let us experience how some of the natives do things! Once we were done for the day we headed back to the boat. Some of the iguanas were rather tame, I got to pet one that was randomly roaming. (We have exotic animals at our home) We had two days at sea on the way back to Miami. Unfortunately we had to make an emergency stop in Nassau, hopefully the passenger was okay. Overall I would like to recommend RCI, I wouldn’t recommend the Empress of The Seas. The sewage smell was horrendous, the ship was rather old and dingy, and the amenities were sub par. Our steward was absolutely amazing! He helped make this cruise halfway tolerable. Next time I sail I will definitely be looking at all the reviews of the ships and cruise line making sure the room is in fact the room we want. This was not a good first experience on RCI. Read Less
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and it did not disappoint. Quite the selection of interesting ports and activities. I've been fortunate enough to have been on over 10 cruises and the cafe on this ship is the best by ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and it did not disappoint. Quite the selection of interesting ports and activities. I've been fortunate enough to have been on over 10 cruises and the cafe on this ship is the best by far......both in terms of variety and quality. We found the entertainment in the other hand to be somewhat limited. The staff was AMAZINGLY friendly and helpful throughout the duration of the cruise. We ate in Murano (very nice) and Tuscan Grille...nice enough. We had access to Luminae which, while the food was of high quality the choices were more limited than I recall on other ships and I think they were short on staff, service was consistently slower than in other restaurants. We had 1 meal in BLU, which was much busier then we ever saw Luminae. The BIG disappointment (really the only disappointment) was Qsine. The format has been changed...now Le Petite Chef. Previously it was a truly unique "foodie" experience . Now its a bit gimmicky and ....juvenile. The service remains excellent and the food good but if you liked the "old Qsine" you will be very disappointed.
All in all it was a great ship and cruise. I'd like to cruise on this ship on a warm weather destination to be able to take full advantage of all the unique outside venues. And I'd even do this exact itinerary again......which I've never said before. Read Less
About the Reviewer: I’m a mid-30s male who sailed in a balcony stateroom on the NCL Epic from Rome on 6/12 to 6/19/2019. This was my 26th NCL cruise (including charters) and my 46th cruise overall. My prior cruise history includes ... Read More
About the Reviewer: I’m a mid-30s male who sailed in a balcony stateroom on the NCL Epic from Rome on 6/12 to 6/19/2019. This was my 26th NCL cruise (including charters) and my 46th cruise overall. My prior cruise history includes sailing on Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival and MSC. In 2018, I took a break from NCL and sailed with Royal Caribbean and MSC with MSC Seaside being my last cruise.
I met up with friends in Rome, Italy for a few days prior to the cruise. It was nice to explore the sights at a more leisurely pace than what you can do with it being a ship’s port of call. I flew into FCO (Rome airport) and transferred with a private company versus taking the train to Termini Station. I stayed at a hotel close to Termini Station in Rome and Termini is a great focal point for which to travel regionally as well as within Rome on the public transit system. I purchased the Roma Pass and with the ability to get into attractions cheaply and the use of the public transit system for 48 hours, it was a very wise investment.
NCL EPIC CRUISE – Roundtrip Rome
DAY 1 – ROME, ITALY
Embarkation: The most cost-efficient way to get to the cruise port from Rome city is by train. I booked the Intercity 510 on TrenItalia arriving at the Civitavecchia port just before 11AM on 6/12. Unfortunately, the elevators on the platform at the train station were not working and you had to take the luggage up and down two flights of stairs to get to the outside. Minor inconvenience. Once outside, you need to purchase a ticket for 2 EU for the red bus to take you to the port entrance. Fair enough, but the line for the bus was disorganized and not all cultures understood the need for a proper queue when the bus arrived. It was rather chaotic. I would’ve just walked it and if you’re able-bodied to do so, you might as well as it’s not too far to the port entrance and with city traffic on port days, it would be easier to do so.
At the port entrance, since there were 6 ships at least doing embarkations during this date, you had to get into a queue for a bus to take you to the designated terminal. How kind of the bus driver to allow us to load our own luggage under the bus and then tell us the bus for the NCL Epic only had one working compartment versus the other side for Holland America which had two. We were going to the same terminal so it didn’t matter what compartment it went into. How silly and disorganized. Upon arrival to the terminal, the bus unloaded for both ships and we were split up once inside the terminal. Luggage was taken finally and check in was upstairs further over. Latitudes members didn’t have a separate check-in line, however, the main check in line was moving swiftly so it didn’t matter too much. Once checked in, we were told to proceed to the gangway which was down the escalators. When we got to the bottom, there was another bus waiting to take us to the ship! Good grief already. The ship was a short walk down the pier from where the terminal was. Holland America had the gangways in use for their embark that was in the terminal. The bus was hot and stuffy and by this point, I just wanted to walk to the ship to get it over with. Crew were walking to the terminal so it wasn’t unsafe for passengers to do so as well. We had to wait for the bus to fill before we were driven an absurdly short distance to board the ship. All told from arrival at the train station to when we got on the ship and had drinks at Spice H2O, it was two hours. NEVER AGAIN!! A complete and utter mess with 2 transfers within the cruise port to get on the ship.
Stateroom Balcony GTY: Room 13039
I’ve sailed on the Epic three times and all the other times were in a studio room. This was the first time I sailed in a balcony. I booked a guarantee and was put into this family room at the ships first bump out. The room had a very large angled balcony which I loved. I could see why this stateroom configuration wouldn’t work unless sailing with a spouse. The layout is funky and while it mirrors the studios design, storage was in the most random of places – including within the sofa! The electrical outlets are hidden under the counter by the coffee maker. The phone in the room also didn’t have a working voicemail button, it would take you to the voicemail and delete it instantly. I learned a trick to bypass it by mid-cruise. Charlton was my incredible stateroom steward. He did a wonderful job looking after any small request the entire cruise and for making sure everything was perfect. He even provided me with towel animals daily without request despite NCLs announcement they were getting rid of them on future sailings a couple months back.
After unpacking rather quickly, it was time to head off to the theater for a joint muster drill for all stations embarking in Rome. It was mandatory for all guests who embarked and some didn’t like it that they were shut off from their alcohol until they attended. Rome embarking guests had purple cards so that’s how ship’s crew knew to stop serving you for the mandatory drill. After that, I went to the solos gathering with Julianna hosting for this portion of the cruise and then the LGBT meet up. A group of solos went to dinner at 7PM and we joined them in Manhattan Room. It was a leisurely dinner service since we were a big table and it took over 2 hours to dine but the company made up for the gaps between courses.
The ship was supposed to sail at 7PM but some “scheduled maintenance” wasn’t completed in time and the ship would be delayed sailing until 10PM. After dinner was done, I headed back to the room to relax and it was getting close to 10PM. The ship didn’t sail at 10PM. I fell asleep on the balcony waiting for it to sail and when I awoke after midnight we were finally moving.
DAY 2 – FLORENCE, ITALY
The previous day’s delayed departure caused the Epic to arrive two hours late to Florence, Italy. The tour provider stated they would work with delayed arrivals so I wasn’t worried but there was a mass upheaval in the atrium where guests demanded to use the phone to contact their individual tour companies. The Epic staff caved in and did allow for usage of the phone for people to contact tour companies about the delayed arrival. We arrived in Florence at 9AM instead of 7AM.
PRIVATE TOUR: Best of Florence and Pisa by ItalyTours.EU
As was mentioned in the confirmation for the tour booking, ItalyTours waited for the arrival of our ship and when I disembarked, I found my name being held by the driver almost immediately. When he rounded up the rest of the guests, we left the port and headed for Florence. Once in Florence we met up with the tour guide from Vox who walked us around the city and took us inside the museum to see the Michelangelo statue. The tour guide provided us with insights about what we were seeing and the history as we walked around. The driver recommended a lunch pizzeria and took some of us there. After gathering the rest of the guests, we went to a scenic overlook of Florence before heading for Pisa. Upon arrival in Pisa, we had a small amount of time which was actually fine to see the sights before heading back to the ship. The tour accomplished everything it stated it would do, even with the time delay. I would highly recommend this tour provider for tours in Italy (they also have tours for Naples and Rome). The tour size is much smaller than what NCL offers (van with Italy Tours versus bus with NCL) and the cost is cheaper than what NCL charges. NCL’s shore excursion prices have skyrocketed since the introduction of the Free at Sea promo. If you take the shore excursion discount, you’re still paying what you’d be paying if you didn’t even bother booking with NCL. ItalyTours guarantees your arrival back to the ship prior to sailing or will get to you the next port for the ship at their own expense. You don’t see any private tour companies really offering such a guarantee!
Back on the ship it was a quick change to get to the solo’s gathering in the studio lounge and then off to the LGBT gathering before a Platinum Plus Latitudes perk – Dinner with an Officer. Either there weren’t a lot of Platinum plus cruisers on this sailing or they weren’t interested in dining with an officer. I was the only person to sign up and had dinner with Brett, the Ship’s Training Specialist. It was a nice dinner and we talked about cruising past and present while enjoying dinner in Taste Restaurant. Grace, the Hotel Director’s assistant, arranged the dinner for us. It was a nice time and very well done! It was one of the highlights of the cruise.
FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
The major production show on the NCL Epic is Priscilla, QOTD. I had seen the show just after it was loaded on the Epic back in 2015 so it was nice to see it again. It is definitely a PG-16 or higher rated show. Leave the kids in Splash Academy! It’s a good time to follow the gang to the Australian outback for their show. Lots of good dance numbers and a good storyline. The show has evolved a bit since it was first brought to the Epic but the overall production was enjoyable. I was surprised to see some of the original cast from the first loaded show still doing it nearly four years on!
After the show completed, it was time to give Bliss Lounge a try. When we arrived, it was already busy and it wasn’t possible to get into the bar to order so the supervisor sent a bar waitress over to take our order. The service was incredibly slow in there but we did notice one bartender going faster than the others and that’s why people were queueing for him. It took forever for our first round to arrive. It wasn’t until the next day that I discovered I was charged for the round of drinks. I did NOT have the beverage package and was shocked when I got the check for $20 for one drink. The last time I sailed on NCL in 2017, the cost was just shy of $12 having gone up from $10 for a Grey Goose and soda. A nearly 100% increase in drink cost? NCL you’ve gone mad. I don’t drink much and with the ridiculously measured pour you did for this $20 drink; you should be ashamed of yourself. You’re not Vegas and with all the nickel and diming lately to justify the CEO’s salary, you should be doing much better instead of getting worse. The drink included an increased gratuity I’m sure the bartenders weren’t getting and an additional $1.50 for a port tax. Trying to fix this error at guest services later would result in the transfer of the $1.50 to the other person’s account. When that person complained about the $1.50 charge, it was reversed back to me with the full charge of the drink I didn’t have. Lesson learned… the waitstaff in Bliss were incompetent. Order directly from the bar staff to avoid this screw up, especially if you don’t have the package and are ordering with people who do.
DAY 3 – CANNES, FRANCE
I went to a highly-rated beach club from TripAdvisor on the Cannes beachfront. Riviera Beach Club was not far from the ship and for a small fee, you could have a lounger in front and have bar service. It was sunny when we arrived but became more overcast as the day wore on. The wind was kicked up so the sand from the beach was blowing on us. We had a few drinks and then returned to the ship. We did so just in time as the wind had kicked up quite a bit slowing tender service down. When we got in queue, it was just at the guard shack and after that, it was all the way up to the street. It was reported by some guests that it took two hours to get back onboard. Naturally, we sailed late again from Cannes towards Mallorca.
Tonight, we had the solos gathering where we met Michael, the Filipino bartender who was dancing in Bliss the prior night and constantly had a line for service. He was very fast, efficient and remembered what you were drinking for all my friends and water for me as I wasn’t drinking. If he saw an empty glass he would ask if the person wanted another one. His energy was amazing and we became fans of his for the rest of the cruise in Bliss or finding him at Howl at the Moon. It was sometimes much faster to go to Howl at the Moon to get a drink than it was to get one from the rest of the bartenders in Bliss. The other bartenders in Bliss just didn’t seem to have the same energy or motivation Michael had.
SPECIALTY DINNER: Le Bistro
Tonight, we had the first of two specialty dinners given to Latitudes members Platinum or higher. We had a 9PM seating meaning most of the restaurant was just about finished their dinner when we came in. I had the duck which was nice along with escargot and crème brulee. The service was nice and our waitress had to leave after the main course to work in another restaurant. We finished up eating shortly before 11PM. It was a good dinner. You had to chose a main course less than $20 which meant four main courses to choose from – duck, chicken and two fish dishes.
FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Glow Party
This was originally supposed to be up at Spice H2O but when we went up there after dinner, it wasn’t up there. It was down in Bliss Lounge. This is always the featured nightclub night of the voyage. Since Mallorca is a late arrival, the ship put the party on this night. This was the ONLY night of the voyage where the party was scheduled for Spice H2O. When the ship is in the Caribbean or Canary Islands as it had been in the past, Spice H2O was used more frequently. I didn’t feel compelled to go on the dance floor as the music just didn’t move me. It was hard to move anyone since the DJ was mixing in and out of songs so fast you couldn’t dance to one. While it shows a good DJ to mix smoothly, let a song play a bit more. I actually ordered two drinks tonight and it was accurately billed since I ordered it directly at the bar. It was an ok night but definitely not the greatest Glow (formerly White) Party I’ve attended on NCL.
DAY 4 – PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN
Our delayed departure from Cannes caused a delayed arrival into Mallorca. We arrived just before 3PM when we were supposed to be in by 1PM. This caused a mad rush when the ship arrived for people to get off. I went for an independent Hop On, Hop Off excursion. I walked one bus stop up as the line at the port was a bit crazy so I could get a spot on the bus. It worked as the next stop down was the port and the bus filled without clearing the queue. I took the whole circuit which didn’t take too long and then got off in town by the church to see the cathedral closer up. On Saturdays, the cathedral might not be available for viewing as it can be used for weddings. It was closed this day to the public because of a wedding. It was reported by people who had a shore excursion they received a credit for it. The artisan markets strewn about the area had all sorts of interesting wares for sale, from food to crafts. Save yourself the hassle and see Mallorca for 18 EU on the Hop On, Hop Off bus.
Back on the ship we dined with the solos we had made friends with during the voyage so far but were disembarking in Barcelona the next day. Tonight, we dined in the Manhattan dining room and I had the Prime Rib which was amazing. Dinner was leisurely as we had a big group and we watched the ship sail from there. I had a 9:30PM reservation for Burn the Floor but because dinner went longer, I missed it.
DAY 5 – BARCELONA, SPAIN
This is the main turn around day for the ship so guests were being told to disembark the ship. Surprisingly, I expected the ship to have more announcements than it did in the early morning hours. My friends and I headed off the ship to find some churros around 9AM to avoid any more announcements and to get off the ship before the new folks showed up to embark. We ventured up to the churros place, took the transit up to Parc Guell and discovered you now needed a ticket to enter it. The last time I was there in 2003, you didn’t need to have a ticket to enter. They were sold out for the day already so I headed for Palau Guell and my friend headed back to the ship. Along the way, I headed to Starbucks for a caffeine fix the ship doesn’t offer. Back on the ship, it was interesting to come on the ship as an in-transit guest. When I arrived to the terminal, I had to go through security in the terminal but then just bypassed everything else and went up the escalator back onto the ship. Very easy to do! Embarkation was well underway at that point for the new cruisers.
During the ship’s lifeboat drill, I enjoyed working out in the quiet gym. Since I had done the drill on embark day in Rome, I didn’t have to do this one. It was a great time to use the ship’s services in peace and quiet. I met up with the solos and went to the LGBT meet up to meet the new cruisers.
SPECIALTY DINNER: Moderno Churriscaria
We had a dinner reservation for 7:15PM in Moderno. We figured it would be easier to dine specialty the first night where everyone was so new and getting their bearings. It was a nice dinner where the passador were fast and efficient at bringing all the meats. We were asked for what else we wanted. The waiter was attentive to my friend’s alcohol requests throughout the dinner service as well.
FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Beattlemania Show
The band who usually is setup in the Cavern Club was in the theater. I do know Beattles hits despite my age and decided to take in a bit of the show. It was just as you’d expect for the Beattles. The singers were really good in the band. The show was well attended.
I went to Bliss Lounge afterward and hung out there for a short bit before strolling the ship. Bliss didn’t get all the kids out of it by 11PM like usual and so there were kids in there trying to get drinks off adults who had the beverage package. The crowd who embarked during Barcelona was decidedly younger than the crowd who was on the first leg of our voyage. Security was slow in removing the minors as well. We ventured to Howl at the Moon and then onto Cavern Club where Fire and Ice were playing. Not finding our groove anywhere, we decided to call it a night.
DAY 6 – SEA DAY
Finally, a full day at sea! It was nice to head up on deck and go to the quiet zone up front before most of the cruise passengers discovered it was there. I found a lounger immediately and setup shop for hours. It was nice and quiet to read and snooze while the room was being made up. I left for a late lunch at Taste with my friends before returning to my room and sitting on the balcony which was also in the sunlight. We passed through the Strait of Bonifacio around 1PM and had the land masses of Sardinia and Corsica between us. It was nice to be on the balcony for the last part of the transit.
Tonight, we dined with some solos from the studio lounge in the Manhattan Dining Room before heading off to the 9:30PM showing of Burn the Floor.
FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Burn the Floor
I couldn’t figure out why I disliked this show so much before. The dancers are so elegant to watch and technically proficient in their movements but the story is lacking. The dances don’t progress from one genre to a more upbeat genre, they hop around with no rhyme or reason. There’s no story that links them and the singers with this cast were horribly bad, especially the male vocalist. I stayed for about 50 minutes before giving up and leaving. I’ve seen Burn the Floor on other ships but this production just doesn’t make sense or have a flow to it. If Priscilla isn’t your cup of tea, this is the only other show on the ship you’ve got.
FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Norwegian’s Night Out Party
This party was well attended and for a change, the DJ let a song play out. I finally got out on the dancefloor for the first time this voyage. The vibe was finally right to do so or at least early on it was. As the night progressed, the music changed again and just made me stay at the bar with my friends more while they drank. Michael, the Filipino bartender, had to come up and help get my friends drinks because the other bar staff couldn’t keep up. He was dancing around while he did so and having a good time on his own while still offering faster service than the rest of the bar staff who were stationed there.
DAY 7 – NAPLES, ITALY
We made it to the port ON-TIME! Hurray! The only problem was, I didn’t need to get off the ship early so it didn’t matter. However, I felt with the way this cruise had gone so far, a bravo to the Epic for an on-time arrival is warranted.
After having a room service breakfast on the balcony, I went ashore and walked around Naples center for a bit. There’s a not-so-helpful tourist desk setup in the cruise terminal. Just walk out of the terminal and you’ll be hit up by taxi drivers offering tours. You’ll also have options from the Hop On, Hop Off Tour provider just at the end of the drive way to the terminal. It was here I discovered my grave mistake of booking a tour through NCL for Herculaneum for $100 USD when it would have cost 28 EU for the trip out there on my own and then admission cost at the site.
NCL SHORE EXCURSION: Herculaneum
In 2004 when I returned to the Med, I was supposed to visit Herculaneum but skipped the tour and went to Capri with newly made cruise friends instead. This trip allowed me to redeem this and go. Since I didn’t have the logistics worked out before sailing, I booked with NCL. Since I am Platinum Plus, I went to the shore excursion desk to get the discount for booking. You can’t get the discount unless you go there and mention it.
The tour started with a bus ride from the terminal at 1PM towards Herculaneum. It was a standard sized tour bus but it wasn’t full of passengers. Upon arrival to the ancient site, we waited while the tour guide purchased the tickets for our entry. She guided us around the site describing things we were seeing using a single earbud setup. The group was too large to fit into some spaces while she was talking so you had to go in afterward or squeeze in together. This is why small group tours were more advantageous. After we completed our summary visit to Herculaneum, we boarded the bus to head to a cameo factory. This is where I really dislike NCL’s tactics. The cameo factory and “teaching you how they do it” is a total joke. They put a video on and have you stare at someone who is sitting at a table near the TV and then take you around back to their showroom where you are expected to buy something from which not only does the vendor make money but NCL gets a kick back from. We could’ve spent more time at Herculaneum and seen more of the sites there versus needing this waste of time. It was when we stopped there that I remembered why I have steered clear of NCL excursions lately. My recommendation is you do the same. You can easily go to Herculaneum on your own for much less than what this tour cost and they have audio guides available at the site. Save your money and do it yourself. Just go earlier to get back and avoid all the port traffic. When we returned to the port, so many tours were returning at the same time that it was chaos for traffic with the containers and trucks coming in and going. It would’ve been faster to walk but we stayed on the bus for over a half hour just to get from the port entrance to the terminal building!
Tonight, we dined with a large group of solos, some of whom were with us from Rome, in the Taste Dining Room. It was a fun dinner service after the solos gathering where Michael was bartending at. Service was surprising efficient given our table size. Our dinner moved right along and we were done by 9:30PM. I had time to return to see Priscilla at 10PM for one final time. I loved the production, so I wanted to catch it again on standby. I had no problems grabbing a decent seat. Afterward, it was the 70s dance party in Bliss. I stayed for a bit but was so exhausted from the tour in the hot sun, I called it a night at midnight.
DAY 8 – ROME, ITALY
Disembarkation was much smoother than embarkation for two reasons. We called the driver who picked us up from the airport to the hotel in Rome to see if he could pick us up at the terminal. He did at 9:30AM. The ship’s transfer option to the airport was to leave at 7AM and cost $60USD. For three of us with a taxi at a more convenient time it was 50EU per person and had door to door service. We disembarked the ship shortly after 8:30AM. You do have to be out of your room by 8AM so people were hanging out in public spaces and not leaving the ship at their assigned times. It caused the lifts to get backed up but we had our trick to get one and got off when we were supposed to. The terminal we were at wasn’t the same one we embarked at and had limited facilities. It was also quite hot outside so we waited in a semi air-conditioned area for the taxi. If you were taking the train, you’d have to go through the bus transfer to the port entrance and then pick up the city bus to head to the train station.
I customarily close out my reviews by thanking those on the ship who provided exceptional service. This cruise, only two people stood out for me. The first was my stateroom steward, Charlton from the Philippines. His attentive service and his friendly nature from the first day’s greeting to me and to subsequent chats in the hallway were much appreciated and never forced. The nightly towel animals were a nice touch and the towel body one day was a new one for me after all these sailings! The other person who stood out was Michael Misargano (last name might be misspelled) who was a bartender with salt and pepper hair from the Philippines in the solos lounge, Bliss and Howl at the Moon. This man is to be commended for his energy and quick ability to sling drinks. He was incredibly friendly to those who got to know him and he knew everyone’s drinks without having to ask them for it, only if they wanted a refill. I’m not sure how NCL stole him away from Princess but he could do well training some of his peers to be faster and have more fun while doing so! Special thanks to Brett, Training Officer, for the officer’s dinner and making it interesting.
All in all, the Epic isn’t the ship I remembered her to be from previous sailings. The room costs have gone up, the on-ship alcohol prices have gone up, everything has gone up exponentially on NCL. Originally, due to NCLs inflated pricing for their promos, I was booked on the MSC Seaview which sails the same day from Rome, Italy and also embarks there. I switched when after final payment NCL finally came down to be reasonably close (without perks) to what MSC was charging and to be with my friends. MSC is privately owned and while they’re struggling with service issues of their own, the NCL Epic minus the people mentioned above was no different in its service struggles. Cruise lines are expanding too fast and now that NCL is publicly traded, it’s all about squeezing the cruiser to make the investors happy. This cruise couldn’t have been more in your face about it. It’s sad because it’s not the NCL I’ve come to know over the years. While I do have two CruiseNext deposits to return in the future, I won’t be in a rush to use them. I will only sail from the Rome port again with flying in directly and using a NCL transfer directly from airport to cruiseport. It’s sad how every new CEO since Colin Veitch has come to NCL and cheapened the product by so much and yet commanded passengers pay so much more for it. Frank del Rio, CEO of NCLH, should be ashamed of what he’s turned this company into. Read Less