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402 Gourmet Food Cruise Reviews

I happened upon a great sale on Crystal River Cruises and my husband and I had never sailed the Danube, so I thought, why not? This wasn't even meant to be our big vacation for the year - we went to Australia last May. I arranged ... Read More
I happened upon a great sale on Crystal River Cruises and my husband and I had never sailed the Danube, so I thought, why not? This wasn't even meant to be our big vacation for the year - we went to Australia last May. I arranged our own airfare on American in Premium Economy (nice and roomy for the flights both ways although the seats don't lay flat, they are at least more comfortable and the food is better). We always fly in at least 1 day prior to the cruise to insure that no travel delay affects our ability to board the ship. We stayed in Vienna at Hotel Das Tyrol which was an excellent location and lovely boutique hotel with all the sights of Vienna in close walking distance and many nearby restaurants. We had Weiner Schnitzel for lunch and then headed to the Imperial Palace to take the Sisi tour. Much of Sisi's story reminded me of Princess Diana, including her tragic and early death. It was very interesting seeing reproductions of her gowns and jewels as well as seeing where she lived, her fitness equipment and learning her story. The next day we boarded the Crystal Ravel. It is important to know that there are 2 places that Crystal docks in Vienna. One location is near the Hilton Vienna Danube hotel and the other is further away, so prior to leaving for this cruise I asked the onshore butler for the addresses of both locations and the phone number for the Ravel and from Hotel das Tyrol, we called the ship and asked where they were docked that morning so we would know where to direct our taxi driver. That morning they were at the dock further away (really about a 15 minute cab ride and no problem whatsoever.) As soon as we arrived at the ship, the crew took our luggage and we were taken to our suite to check in. We were in suite 226 which is a Deluxe Suite with Panoramic Balcony Window S2. The cabin included a bathroom with a large walk in shower and 2 sinks, walk-in closet with safe and there was plenty of space for all of our stuff. The cabin felt too warm to us so the butler had a word with the ship's engineer and they were able to make the room much cooler and more comfortable in no time. They were also able to provide me with the right foam pillows as I am allergic to down pillows. The food in the Ravel's Waterside Restaurant was excellent. We had a light lunch and then a fabulous dinner and the included wines were extremely good. The next day we took the Estergom and Danube Bend tour - it was wonderful and we met the ship in Budapest. Budapest is stunningly beautiful - especially at night. We definitely want to go back for a land vacation. The ship was docked near the Market Hall and about a mile walk to the Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial. It is a very touching memorial - so simple and poignant, it really drove the message home that even the youngest and most innocent among us were not safe. That evening we went to see The Princesses of Violin for a private show for Crystal Ravel guests. It was a great show. Many guests mistakenly expected an all classical music show and were surprised to hear both classical music and modern music. The next day we took the tour of Parliament and the Market Hall where I bought cherries enrobed in chocolate and cognac, paprika and AIKA crystal cut to clear glasses. They don't ship these glasses, however, I was prepared with a universal sized carry on roll-aboard so that I can bring back fragile items safely. The next day, we were in Bratislava and went on a tour and then beer tasting experience and some more shopping. Bratislava has a very charming historic town center and it was fun walking among these buildings, looking in the shop windows and enjoying the sights. In Krems we went to the Schloss Gobelsburg Wine Tasting - this tour was only taken by 10 passengers and included a cellar tour and wine and appetizers in the beautiful castle. In Melk, we walked into the charming town and did more shopping and in Linz, we took the day long tour to the Cesky Krumlov. It was a cold day but luckily the shops and restaurants were open. We had a great lunch and then walked around the town, going into many of the shops. I looked at some Czech crystal - 4 goblets and a decanter and the store clerk quoted me the craziest price ever - $2,500. I collect cut-to-clear crystal and know what the prices should be (glasses are usually less than $50 per stem and the regular decanters should be well under $300 and the larger ones under $500) so I just laughed and told him no. He reduced the price twice more and offered $1,800 for the set - still way too high (should have been no more than $1000 and probably more like $700), his explanation for the high price was the color I chose (not true - all colors are priced the same, the pricing is based the number of cuts) so I left the crystal behind at that shop. If you are interested in cut to clear crystal or hand cut crystal, before you go on a Danube cruise, get on Ebay and look at the prices and brands and designs to figure out what you like. AJKA is one of the best brands. Their crystal is exported to the US as Wedgwood, Tiffany's, Rosenthal, Waterford Crystal, Polo Ralph Lauren, Christian Dior, Moser and other high end French Crystal Manufacturers. If you buy your crystal in Budapest at the Market Hall, you will get your crystal at a fraction of the price charged in retail stores in the US. This video is helpful in learning about AJKA Crystal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQFyOmw12oQ. and this video is helpful for learning about the Romanov collection: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FxtRrQlbh4. For our final day. in Vienna, we went to the Schonbrunn Palace - it was super cold that day. and the guide was determined to walk us around the garden, so I headed for the tea room and had some hot fruit tea! My husband joined me after an attempt at taking a few photos in the garden. After 45 minutes it was time to meet to enter the palace and we had a very nice tour inside. That evening, we went to Michelin-star dining at Edvaard. My husband didn't like the faux garlic, faux oyster or sardine courses and I began to recall the disastrous Omakase dinner on "Odd Mom Out". It hadn't occurred to me that there would be several courses in a tasting menu he would not like as we regularly have tasting menus. LOL!. Fortunately he loved the pork and venison courses and the pumpkin and white chocolate dessert. I liked all the courses but found the wait between courses to be a bit long compared to other restaurants where I have experienced tasting menus. All of the wines served were extremely good. Meanwhile back on the ship throughout the cruise, we had a lot of great food, great wine and there was a young couple who were the entertainers - they were very talented. There were also two enrichment lectures and a couple of different local entertainers who put on good shows. If I had any criticism of this cruise at all, I would say it was too short. Every single day I woke up thinking how great the previous day had been and every single day I enjoyed all the new things we did, the food and everything on the ship. Other than some rain and a very cold day on our return to Vienna the weather was actually very good. On disembarkation day, you are allowed to stay in your cabin until 10am, so we had a leisurely breakfast and then headed out for our post cruise hotel - the Ritz Carlton. This proved to be another great hotel choice and we walked down the street to Cafe Swartzenberg for another lunch of Weiner schnitzel and a mixed vegetable salad followed by a chocolate dessert and hot tea. Although most things in Vienna are closed on Sunday, the local mall had been taken over by an antique sale, so we walked through that and looked at the various items on offer. If you are considering a cruise on the Crystal Ravel, my advice is to go. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
The ship is beautiful and the food at the specialty restaurants was interesting and delicious. Be sure to book early!The waitstaff catered to our every need. The "adult" pool is a bit too small for the size of the ship. Though ... Read More
The ship is beautiful and the food at the specialty restaurants was interesting and delicious. Be sure to book early!The waitstaff catered to our every need. The "adult" pool is a bit too small for the size of the ship. Though children are not supposed to use the adult pool, no one is assigned to check so I was forced to put up with others' kids. Likewise for the hot tubs. The entertainment was first-class. The performers were so talented and friendly. We thoroughly enjoyed every show. There were plenty of bars with comfortable seating but some of the bartenders could be more friendly. The ports of call were just so-so, very, very touristy and the excursions could add significantly to the cost of the cruise...pay close attention to the excursion reviews and be selective. Sometimes I find it better to hire a driver/taxi to take me to what I want to see. If you stay in port, you will not get the flavor of the culture. All in all, despite shortcomings, I'm a fan of the Breakaway. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We needed a quick 5 day cruise to the Caribbean out of Galveston. We only needed one point to become Diamond Plus we booked a cheap room and choose a inside room after all it was only giving us 5 points and just one moved us up.i will say ... Read More
We needed a quick 5 day cruise to the Caribbean out of Galveston. We only needed one point to become Diamond Plus we booked a cheap room and choose a inside room after all it was only giving us 5 points and just one moved us up.i will say this made us number 26. Easy on. Easy off. Fastest we have ever experienced.the room was extremely small buttery clean in fact the whole ship was spotless. The mattress were comfortable and the pillows were fluffy. Dunno was our room steward. He was excellent. Gave us just what we needed, Windjammer was predictable but very good. Park cafe was easy to order and the food was good. We loved our main dining. We had Luke and Dennis! Wow they did a good job! Courtney in the Diamond lounge was fabulous!!! The cruise needed much work done to the outside of the ship. Many places was rusted where we tried to sit. The inside was always being cleaned and cared for. But we believe there was a drink waiter shortage.all in all it was very nice Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Everyone was so pleasant, always greeting us with a smile and acknowledgement. We had a lot of fun with the staff on our Baggo game. In all of our eatery places, we enjoyed and I believe the staff did as well, the camaraderie with us. ... Read More
Everyone was so pleasant, always greeting us with a smile and acknowledgement. We had a lot of fun with the staff on our Baggo game. In all of our eatery places, we enjoyed and I believe the staff did as well, the camaraderie with us. Every time we went ashore, the staff had a humorous comment to say, especially with our name being 'Sweet'. We had a tour of the galley and of the bridge. This was so interesting, not having this privilege on any other ship. The staff work so hard and it seems the food establishment work such long hours to feed us, the hungry people. Thanks for all you do. We were three siblings and spouses on this cruise and we would start our day by saying, "we'll meet at the white chairs." These were in the hallway near our cabins, 3040, 3042, 3052. It was also convenient to have the launderette near our rooms. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We chose this cruise for the tour down the Danube. Our first river cruiswe and we were thrilled. We met wonderful people and the staff was amazing. Very friendly and helpful. The food was delicious. The cruise itself was so fun and ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the tour down the Danube. Our first river cruiswe and we were thrilled. We met wonderful people and the staff was amazing. Very friendly and helpful. The food was delicious. The cruise itself was so fun and picturesque. We really enjoyed the tours and learned so much about the history and culture of the cities and tours. We started 2 days ahead in Prague and then went to Passau, Germany to start our cruise. So many places to see! The ship was clean and the cabin, although small was very organized and you had room to unpack and put your suitcase under the bed. The ports were fun and the excursions we chose were enjoyed! Panoramic tours of the cities: a wine tasting in Austria, bread making at a farm in Linz, A market tour with our chef in Vienna, A Mozart/Strauss concert in Vienna. We would have loved to stay in Brataslava to enjoy the Slovakian food but sadly we were there just a half day. Such beautiful cities and towns. We loved them all - Budapest is very interesting and beautiful.We arrived at night and saw the beautiful parliament building all lit up looking gold with a full moon shining also. Very impressive. I think people with mobility issues would find this trip a challenge. Lots of walking and cobblestone streets in these centuries old cities. The food was delicious with many choices and fare from the areas we toured, The piano player at night was great. Someone complained in a previous comment - we enjoyed him. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
My husband decided to take me on our first cruise to Bermuda. We both never went on a cruise before, so, we were very excited. From the phone reservation that we made with Starling (NCL representative), to the end of our trip, we were just ... Read More
My husband decided to take me on our first cruise to Bermuda. We both never went on a cruise before, so, we were very excited. From the phone reservation that we made with Starling (NCL representative), to the end of our trip, we were just amazed by the whole process and operation. We found it easy to deal with. The embarkation process information could be a little bit clearer. After the cruise, we thought a later embarkation time is better. If you arrive early, you may have to wait in line. They call people by the group number. So, later time would guarantee less wait time because your group number would have been called already. The Escape ship is huge and beautiful! It didn’t look that big while we’re inside because walking from the front to the back of the ship didn’t take that long or could it be due to activities and decorations surrounding the interior ship. Once we embarked on the ship, we went to the buffet section because we were advised to do so by the staff at the ticket counter without knowing that the main dining rooms were already opened for business. So, please go to the main dining room if you could wait a little bit to get your meal, otherwise go to Garden Cafe buffet on Deck 16 to eat right away. We were hungry due to waiting in line, so it worked out good. We only enjoyed the buffet 2-3 days for breakfast and lunch during our 7-day cruise. We went to the main dining rooms and specialty restaurants most of the time. We received 3 specialty restaurants plus free Wi-Fi service that came in the package. However, the free Wi-Fi lasted 4 hours, so on top of that, we bought an unlimited Wi-Fi service for only $80+ and stayed connected the entire time. After lunch on embarkation day, we went straight to our room. We booked an Oceanview as per Starling, because of our first-time cruise. He was correct to suggest this because we spent most of our time outside the cabin. We had Natalie, a lovely steward. She was so nice from day one. She cleaned the room each time we walked out, so the room was always clean and neat. Awesome! The employees were exceptional! Whatever training they made them do was worthwhile and paid off. I think Norwegian Cruise Line nailed it in the service business. The hosts and hostesses were very accommodating. Sometimes this goes both ways. We’re the type of people who make conversation with employees no matter where we go and dine. This little thing goes a long way. We remember Jay Bee Morales, Noelia, Luh, Ivanna, Claire, Wayan, Chris T, Dinalo, and many others but these names stick with us because we talked to them more than once. We were so thankful for Jay Bee’s hospitality. He’s an assistant Maitre D and he ran a great crew! Everyone on the ship worked hard to maintain the service to a high standard. I must admit that we plan to take the same cruise again. About the entertainment on the ship, we saw two shows. The third night we saw “After Midnight”. We booked this before the cruise date. This show was mindboggling! We enjoyed the performance, especially the tap dance by the trio. We also enjoyed the singing by 2-3 talented artists, great voice! On ‪our last night,‬ we saw “The Choir of Man” and this one was fantastic! We booked this on board. The selected songs in this show were perfect. We enjoyed the music and don’t mind seeing it again. We will try the comedy club and karaoke next time. The food at specialty restaurants was slightly better than the main dining rooms. We liked the French restaurant, Le Bristo. Teppanyaki came in second place and the Italian restaurant, La Cucina was just so-so. At Teppanyaki you would get a complete set of the dish plus full entertainment by the Chef. We had Yudo as our Chef. The chefs sang while preparing and decorating food, the whole nine yard! The Italian restaurant, La Cucina couldn't really compete with Italian restaurants in NY; it was just ok. We will try other specialty restaurants next time but definitely would go back to Le Bristo. We had the opportunity to use the gym and the experience was amazing because I used the treadmill and elliptical machines overlooking the sea, how cool is that! I also visited the mini library. This state-of-the-art room was beautifully decorated. The gallery of paintings took a lot of space. They were nice to look at but we wouldn’t purchase them because some of them were not authenticated. We didn’t use any excursions because my husband knows Bermuda well. He’s been there a few times in the past. The ferry from Royal Naval Dockyard to St George’s and Hamilton are not hard to get. There’re plenty of transportations to take us to the beach. We tried the bus to Horseshoe Bay Beach (gorgeous beach!) and we also used the ferry that took us back from Hamilton to the dockyard. I will try to see more of Bermuda next time. The weather didn’t cooperate on one of the three days we were there. The last day in Bermuda we went to the Snorkel Beach, 5 min-wall from the dockyard. This was not a bad beach but too small and we had to pay to access this beach. We never went on a cruise prior to this and we're glad the first experience was magnificent! The overall experience was fantastic! Thanks for making our first cruise a happy one! Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We had never been to Iceland and we thought this would give us an idea of what to see there. The embarkation process was horrible. Long lines and only two windows open when we arrived. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We had never been to Iceland and we thought this would give us an idea of what to see there. The embarkation process was horrible. Long lines and only two windows open when we arrived. We had to drag our luggage with us through the whole line. We were assigned the wrong dining time. It took us three days and a lot of haggling to get it changed. The head maitre d “ Anton” was not helpful or caring. Every employee on the ship seemed as though they had never cruised before. No one knew what they were doing and could not make a decision by themselves. We were offered a “welcome” cocktail party one evening. The waiters were very efficient bringing out dozens of trays of cocktails for the guests. However, not one officer from the ship showed up to “welcome” us on board. When we bought our cruise we were offered an incentive of 12 drink coupons per person. When we arrived on the ship there were no coupons. We asked at reception and were told that the offer had expired so we would not get the coupons. I sent an email to my travel agent. The next day we received a message in our cabin to come to reception. Our coupons were waiting for us. Usually on other cruise lines I have a case of water sent to our cabin. MSC did not offer only water. You have to buy a drink package that includes water. Our interior cabin was adequate. It did have two closets which was nice. No one had tissues in their cabin. We were told it was an environmental reason but if we really wanted them we could call the front desk to request them which we did. If it was environmental there were a lot of other things they do they could change. The food in every venue was horrible. The buffet was so crowded at all times. The food was comparable to a low end restaurant. The dining room was the same with food that could have been prepackaged frozen items. Mushy shrimp cocktails, fishy fish and white rice with everything. Our server Widiana was excellent and the head waiters Mircea Bercaru and Jamal also went out of their way to make our dining the best they could with what they had to work with. We bought a specialty dining package they offered online. When we got on the ship we had so many conflicts with shows we wanted to cancel it. We were told anything we bought online was not eligible to be cancelled. We juggled our schedules in order to fit it in. We were very disappointed in all the specialty restaurants. All the food was no better than the dining rooms. Also, you expect a more upscale dining room. This was not the case. The rooms were just an area stuck in the side of the ship painted a different color. The shows were typical MSC. There was a lot of opera and classical music. The production shows were mediocre. The premise for some of the shows was something you would make for grade school. One of our seatings was cancelled in the middle of the show because the curtain got stuck and the could not open it. However, the dancers were exceptional. They all deserve a better place to work. The Cirque de Soleil show “Sonor” was cancelled for the whole cruise. We did not find out until we arrived for the show after having skipped our dinner because of the time conflict. The other Cirque show “ Viaggio” started on time only to stop three times due to “ technical difficulties “. All the shows such as the ventriloquist had to be translated into five or six different languages which was very annoying. The showroom was beautiful but the stairs had lighting that was very bright and blinding. We saw three people fall at different times. The grand staircase in the atrium was the same but accented with crystals which was supposed to be beautiful but was only blinding. Our room steward Dixon did an excellent job. Most ship employees were good. A lot were unfriendly. The captain interrupted our day every day an noon to tell us the weather and the ships position. Then his announcement had to be translated into six languages again. They did not make any other announcements on the PA system leading to the passengers not having any knowledge about what was going on. The ports were very nice. We only took one excursion with the ship. It ran smoothly. We were told by other passengers that the excursions in Iceland left so late they were touring in the dark and visited the stops in the dark. They went to see the geysers in the dark. The restrooms on the ship were all outfitted with new fixtures that were supposed to be automatic but never worked. You could never get any soap and the water was always running all over the floor. Every charge on the ship was in Euros. Even if you registered your credit card online before you left as you do with every other cruise lines, you had to go to a kiosk on the ship to authorize a minimum $250 (275 euros) before you could buy anything on the ship. One thing we learned that was very upsetting was that even though all their charges were in Euros they pay their employees in American dollars. They lose a lot in the exchange rate. The Meraviglia was the largest cruise ship to ever dock in New York. We were to spend two nights on the ship in New York. We were advised to leave the ship on our full day there and not return for at least 6 hours. This was because customs would be coming on the ship and they were not sure when they would finish. We did this only to return to the ship full of outside people touring the ship. We and many other people on the ship that we spoke with have decided this is the last chance for MSC. We will never travel on one of their ships again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Our holiday was for myself, my husband and my three sons (17, 22 and 25) in two parts booked through cruise.co.uk. The first part was a 10 day, all inclusive tour around China. Our second part of the holiday was a seven day cruise ... Read More
Our holiday was for myself, my husband and my three sons (17, 22 and 25) in two parts booked through cruise.co.uk. The first part was a 10 day, all inclusive tour around China. Our second part of the holiday was a seven day cruise aboard the Voyager of the Seas which we boarded at Hong Kong. I have cruised many times with Royal Caribbean and have, in fact, been on this actual ship. All previous cruises have been excellent and of an equally great standard that I have come to expect from Royal Caribbean. On this part of the holiday we were joined by my parents who had travelled separately to Hong Kong in order to enjoy the cruise with my family. At no time were we informed that this ship was about to go into dry dock for a major refurbishment and serious repairs STATE ROOMS When booking this holiday with cruise.co.uk, we explained that while we were happy for my three sons to share a room, they were adults and, putting it bluntly, quite large! Adam understood our requirements and sold us a balcony grade cabin for myself and my husband and a panoramic suite that could sleep 6 for my three sons to share. At the time of booking Adam explained that he could not get a room number for the panoramic suite although he guided us to the ‘deck plans’ and explained it would either be state room number 1804 or 1814 on deck 12, just a few doors down from our state room. He explained that although room 1814 was officially a disabled cabin, it had much larger floor space so would accommodate my three sons. On our invoice, we were never provided with a room number for this room. We paid more for this room as it was so much larger. Upon arrival on the ship, my sons were allocated room 1852 which while panoramic, was not a suite that slept 6. The staff told me it could sleep 4 although we soon found out that with only two beds and one small sofa that could only be converted into a single bed, it only could sleep 3. The floor space was exactly the same size as our balcony grade cabin. The staff were very unhelpful explaining that there were no other rooms available as the ship was full to capacity. We later found out that there were actually 400 rooms unallocated on that ship that week. We believe we were miss sold this room under the pretence it was bigger than the balcony grade cabin and could sleep 6 people. We most definitely paid more money than our balcony grade cabin which was the same size. We expect to be reimbursed for this. LIFTS We were on the 12th deck so obviously lifts were a necessity. On day one, all of the panoramic central view lifts were suddenly covered in a green netting that stretched from the top deck to the bottom. We were informed that they were being repaired. We established, by talking to the engineers and taking photos and videos that these lifts were NOT under repair but were actually being ripped out in readiness for the ship to go into dry dock in a week’s time. Two of the other lifts didn’t work at all and one of those broke down completely within a couple of days. One lift wouldn’t go passed deck 10. Being on deck 12, I’m sure you can understand the inconvenience this caused not to mention the sight and noise of workmen carrying out a complete rip out right in the middle of your holiday FOOD - Windjammer There are many areas where food can be obtained and the Windjammer Restaurant is the self service restaurant on deck 11. The food looked plentiful and nicely presented however, it was nearly all cold and on occasions, undercooked. We were told that hot plates were no longer working and some of the ovens were soon to be replaced. This response did not help us in any way at all. My husband was continually frustrated to get a plate full of food, find a seat to sit and eat it, only to find it cold and disgusting. It was then that we noticed the lack of staff in the restaurant. Plates were not getting cleared away from tables, spillages were having warning signs placed over them but not getting cleared up and the water/tea station was continually unmanned. FOOD - Johnny Rockets We decided the only way to get a decent hot meal would be to pay the additional price in order to visit one of the 4 speciality restaurants on board. Unfortunately, this was also a disaster! We visited Johnny Rockets - a burger bar restaurant with a $10 surcharge. The place had few customers, the waitress spoke very little English and the chef was busy fussing over one beef burger when we walked in. We sat at the counter and tried to order - the waitress could not understand why we would want our fries WITH our burger - surely we would want them as a starter? We looked around and could see other guests munching on just chips and overheard them all complaining about when their burger was going to be served. This restaurant was advertised as an authentic, American burger joint yet the staff had absolutely no idea how burger and fries were meant to be served and consumed! We waited 25 minutes for the chef to cook the burger - we watched as he used his spatular to scoop up a raw chicken breast, slap it on the griddle next to our burger and then proceed to turn our burger with the same spatular. I don’t think any more needs to be said about Johnny Rockets other than it was a total let down. Again, staffing seemed to be the issue. FOOD - Sapphire Restaurant We had booked my time dining. This means that you can reserve a table the day before. This is a practice that I have often used and has always worked efficiently in the passed. On this cruise however, the queues of guests outside the restaurant all waiting to be taken to their pre-booked table was ridiculous!. You expect queues outside the other restaurants when there are allotted seated times - often a hundred or more guests would be waiting for the 6pm sitting and would then all be let in at once. But you do not expect this in the ‘my time’ dining room. Yet again, lack of staff was the issue. Once shown to our table we again experienced a lack of staff - no wine waiter or water waiter. I got up twice to get my own water. The one waiter we had was very over worked. When food arrived after a long wait it was often cold and inedible. We complained several times and eventually the restaurant manager, Ellen came to our table and listened carefully to our grievances. We told her we would be unable to risk eating in the restaurant again and would have to purchase the food package which enabled us to eat at the speciality restaurants at an additional surcharge. Ellen almost begged us to give her another chance to prove the restaurant was worth another visit so two days later we tried again. Firstly, the seven of us were showed to a table that could only sit five people comfortably yet they had squeezed seven place settings on. We complained and were moved to a table that could comfortably seat 12 guests although was only partially laid up for eight. Again, we had to serve ourselves water and again the wine waiter had to be called and called and when he finally arrived asked US to write what we wanted on his pad as he couldn’t understand English!!! Our meal was late and the starters were cold. We complained again but was told this time there was a severe shortage of staff and that everyone was doing their best. This was really not acceptable and made our complete dining experience on the ship appalling. FOOD - CHOPS GRILLE As the food and service was so appalling on the ship, we had no option other than to pay (at a considerable cost of £380 - invoice enclosed) for a ‘food package’. This entitled us to eat at the three main speciality restaurants over three nights. Unfortunately it appeared that most guests had the same idea so Chops restaurant was so busy we were only able to book the whole family in for one of the nights. We wanted to book for our last night but they had already filled their books by day two of the cruise!. Our experience in Chops was what we would expect from Royal Caribbean - food was beautiful, staff attentive and service fast. What a shame the rest of the ship couldn’t be like this and what a shame they were so booked up that we couldn’t enjoy good food on our last night FOOD - IZUMI Another of the three specialist restaurants was Izumi, a Japanese restaurant. Food here was very good - we noticed most of the staff from the Captain’s Bridge were in there. Unfortunately service was appalling. It took ages to get a drink and even longer to get the food. We wouldn’t have eaten in there at all had we been able to get a table at Chops FOOD - GIOVANNI’S TABLE The last on the list of the three specialist restaurants. Menu seemed limited and again service was far too slow. Our booking was for 8.30pm but we were left standing for 15minutes while the maitre d took someone’s order. Again, short staffed. STAFFING After realising that most problems encountered on our ship were due to staffing, we decided to complain at the main desk. Queues here were always long but after a 30 minute wait we were finally seen. It was established that the ship was seriously understaffed due to another cruise liner enlisting the more experienced staff in order to ensure their maiden voyage did not receive any criticism! We were assured that the staffon board were qualified although some were new to their positions. When we started speaking to staff, it came to light that a large proportion of staff had originally been ‘cleaning staff’ who had been bumped up recently to fill in for the short fall in serving staff. This would account for the amount of staff unable to communicate with us due to their lack of English. It would also account for the poor service being received in every area of the ship. In the spa area there was only one hairdresser working and he informed us that he had originally been contracted to work until December but had only recently been told that the ship was going into dry dock so would be leaving his position then. He said that the other hairdressers and spa consultants (there was only one who could give pedicures) had all left the ship back in Hong Kong SHORE EXCURSIONS One of the most important aspects of a cruise is the shore excursions. These excursions are advertised a few weeks prior to the cruise departing via an online brochure. The information available is fairly minimal. It should be noted that most excursions were marked as ‘booked’ before we even boarded the ship. It was established, once on board, that this wasn’t the case but unfortunately led to unreasonably long queues of guests trying to book tours at the tour desk. As it was unclear which tours would be the best to choose, we decided to attend the one hour meeting held on the first day in the ship’s theatre. This meeting is normally held by the cruise director where they explain in detail the different tours available, show a video of passed tours and generally help sell the excursions. If you are unable to attend this meeting, there is always a video on loop on your state room television. Ufnfortuanlaty, our tv didn’t work at first and once it did there was absolutely no mention of any of the tours on any of the channels - we complained at guest services but they were unsure what we were talking about. I assumed that possibly cruising to Vietnam was quite a new thing for Royal Caribbean and they were yet to produce a promotional video (?). Whilst still unsure what tours to book, we decided to attend the meeting in the theatre - this was a total waste of time as the cruise director was not on board. As a replacement, we were presented on a stage with a gentleman that spoke very little English. He embarrassingly read through the information brochure we had been given and showed some photographs that were also already in the brochure. He could provide no additional information and was unable to sell any tours. We complained to guest services who explained that the main tour manager was not on board the ship. All of the tours were very expensive so we wanted to choose the right ones. There were five of us (seven including my parents) so this could prove to be a costly mistake. We queued at the ‘shore excursions desk’ but was greeted with another member of staff, who while friendly, really didn’t have a clue about the difference between the excursions. It was quite apparent that Royal Caribbean were also using the cheap option when it came to docking the ship and rather than dock at the more expensive ports, were docking at the cheaper more industrial sites. This in turn pushed the price of the tours up as buses had to be taken with at least a two hour journey to get to any destination. To add salt to the wound, on our final day at sea, once we had sailed well away from Vietnam, the tv in our state room started to show videos of the trips we could have gone on! It was such unnecessary incompetence and due totally to a lack of staff CLEANLINESS OF THE SHIP When a ship docks and guests disembark for a day’s tour, it is normal practise to clean the boat and carry out necessary repairs whilst all is fairly quiet on board. This did not happen once during our whole cruise. It became quite obvious that no one gave a damn about the condition the boat was in or the cleanliness of the boat. Windows were left filthy and rust was evident everywhere. The ceilings in the main dining room were damp and stained and gave a general impression of a very unhygienic area to eat. Plates, cups and old food was constantly being left lying around and tables were rarely wiped. As well as the lifts being out of action there was also a problem with the air conditioning and constantly we would be tripping over portable air conditioning units placed around the ship. The outside of the ship was a total mess too and not once was the pully system lowered to clean the outside windows or ship. It was also very noticeable, as a previous guest with Royal Caribbean, that no effort was being made on the ship. No speciality events were on offer or any of the little extras that are normally available to guests. Small things like changing the ‘day of the week’ plate within the lifts was never done - each lift had a different day in it! It was made so very apparent that all the staff just couldn’t wait to get off the ship as they were feeling very overworked and harassed. We frequently heard guests being rude to bar staff simply out of frustration at not getting served. We had purchased the drinks package at a total cost of £1200 but it was useless trying to get a drink within half an hour. Where a bar would normally have at least four or five working, there would be only one. All the above is understandable for a ship about to go into dry dock but totally unacceptable to guests on board who have paid full price and expect the best attention, top quality food and comfortable and beautiful surroundings. What was most certainly not expected nor acceptable was shabby, poorly maintained surroundings, substandard food and poorly trained, inattentive staff. I ensured that I followed the complaints procedure and at every chance made my grievances known. A member of Royal Caribbean staff, on my very last day of cruising, offered to send me and my family a voucher off a future cruise. This offer was declined as I felt it was insufficient compensation. Regardless, the vouchers have been sent through to my email address and I, in turn, have returned the email rejecting these vouchers. I find the offer of the vouchers particularly insulting as one of them was for £1. I believe I did not receive the holiday I paid for so I have made an official complaint. I am seeking full compensation for loss of enjoyment, inconvenience, disappointment, loss of value and out of pocket expenses. I included photographic and video evidence in support of my claim and also some of the receipts for out of pocket expenses. I am hoping they respond within 7 days....we shall see Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This was a 12-day Transatlantic Cruise from Lisbon to Boston. I was a little ambivalent about going on this smaller and older ship. I knew it had recently been in dry dock for some sprucing up, so I was curious what we would find. Well, it ... Read More
This was a 12-day Transatlantic Cruise from Lisbon to Boston. I was a little ambivalent about going on this smaller and older ship. I knew it had recently been in dry dock for some sprucing up, so I was curious what we would find. Well, it was wonderful. It looked as though all the carpet and furniture in all the public areas had been replaced. The furniture was comfortable and inviting. And, like all Holland America ships, they absorb people well - I never felt like I was in the middle of a huge crowd. It's a relaxing and very pleasant environment. The food, as with our every other HAL cruise, was really excellent. We had two occasions that were a disappointment, though. One evening in the Main Dining Room, I ordered lamb kabobs. They were terrible - cold, hard, dry. I immediately told our server that I wasn't happy with the dish and he very rapidly brought me something else I chose. So, it really was no problem at all. The replacement was paella, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The other less-than-lovely experience was in the Pinnacle Grill, which is HAL's premium added-cost dining venue. We usually go twice during a cruise because we really enjoy it. This time, however, we cancelled our second reservation. We waited 20 minutes for our appetizer, and about two-thirds of the way through my appetizer I found a 10" hair. The manager was mortified. Then we waited over and hour for our main dish. I was ready to walk out, but it was too late to go to the Main Dining Room. The manager was extremely apologetic, and confessed that they had been having difficulties in the kitchen. Needless to say, despite the excellent food, it was an unpleasant experience. The manager called our room a couple days later to apologize again and to say that he hoped we would come back so he could show us a better time. We didn't return. None of this should be taken as a review of all the Pinnacle Grills fleet-wide. Each restaurant is it's own, sort of like a franchise. Every other experience we've had in the Pinnacle Grill on other ships was top-notch. The embarkation in Lisbon wasn't what we expected. We stay in a Neptune Suite, and on every other cruise, as soon as we check in we're told "feel free to board any time". This didn't happen this time. It was a decent length wait. I don't mean this as a complaint, but as an observation that if they say priority boarding is one of the benefits of having a suite, then they should make sure that happens. One notable enrichment activity: on the sea days, they have America's Test Kitchen, which is a cooking instruction - just like there might be on t.v. Each of them were excellent. As a side note: we are a same-sex couple. We have never had one second of a negative encounter/service because of it. (In fact, for the cruise we took for our 25th anniversary, they decorated our door with balloons and streamer and a huge sign. They also brought a decorated cake to our table.) Our 12 days on Veendam were simply great. I would readily choose this ship to sail on again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We are longtime NCL cruisers. We enjoy the freedom of making choices day to day while relying on the excellent service. For this cruise the destination was definitely the highlight. The scenery and the wildlife were incredible. The ... Read More
We are longtime NCL cruisers. We enjoy the freedom of making choices day to day while relying on the excellent service. For this cruise the destination was definitely the highlight. The scenery and the wildlife were incredible. The NCL Bliss made experiencing this beauty even more special with the introduction of their beautiful Observation Lounge on deck 15. It was such a lovely experience sailing in Glacier Bay. In addition the Captain made the bow available for picture taking. That was a special treat. The inclusion of Park Rangers to provide the history of the area and to assist in pointing out wildlife was fantastic! We were able to see a family of five bears come right down to the water. Once the Park Rangers pointed them out, they were easy to see but would have been missed otherwise. We enjoyed meals in most of the specialty restaurants with LeBistro continuing to be our favorite. We enjoyed Jersey Boys in the theater and would have liked to see more production shows rather than smaller lounge venues. Our cabin was perfect. We were in an aft balcony and enjoyed the extra room and lounge chair. Service was excellent and all crew we interacted with were knowledgeable. Shore excursions were fantastic; we enjoyed the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau and a Salmon Bake. In Skagway we rode the White Pass Railroad and experienced the Yukon, a definite highlight. In Ketchikan we took a boat trip to experience the Totems and eagles. We received a BIG bonus because there were many whales in the area and we were able to see them breach, and even sleep. Absolutely fantastic. Loved the cruise! Looking forward to the next one on the new Cape Town South Africa to Singapore sailing in March :) Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Pacific Princess is the smallest of the Princess fleet, with a capacity of only 670 passengers. When I booked, all the suites were sold out, so I booked a mini-suite, which was later upgraded to Club Class. Right after I paid the fare, we ... Read More
Pacific Princess is the smallest of the Princess fleet, with a capacity of only 670 passengers. When I booked, all the suites were sold out, so I booked a mini-suite, which was later upgraded to Club Class. Right after I paid the fare, we were upsold a forward suite (#7005, Marquesas Suite). I'm always aft, but I love those suite perks, so I jumped on it. This was the largest suite I've ever seen and had a bath and a half, with a wall of closet space, along with all the usual suite perks like that sumptuous Sabatini breakfast. Interestingly enough even though she is very tiny, Pacific Princess never felt crowded, but because she is so small, it was easier for my elderly mother to get around. The food and staff on this ship are amazing, and the maitre d' came by our table at every meal to make sure everything was going well. Chef Giuseppe was the brains behind the original Chefs Table Experience years ago, and we were thrilled to experience Chef's Table with him. This was a great cruise with a great itinerary that we would absolutely do again, no questions asked! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We Arrived in Athens, we did the extension. I think it would be good to be more informative about the options on tours during the extensions. We had no idea that any tours could be booked there, so we did research and booked our own before ... Read More
We Arrived in Athens, we did the extension. I think it would be good to be more informative about the options on tours during the extensions. We had no idea that any tours could be booked there, so we did research and booked our own before arriving. As it turned out we did end up booking another tour with Viking that was guided, to the Acropolis. And thank goodness I had booked a "Private tour" for the same thing the next day, that wasn't guided, but since it was Private, we asked to be taken to different things. The lack of information might have been because we went through a tour company and they didn't know. But again, I think it should be a priority for that information to be given out, it would have been nice to have that option. Embarkation was a delight; we have been on two others cruise and it was so long. We ended our cruise in Rome, it was epic. We saw so many wonderful things. The ship was wonderful very beautiful and Clean. Same with our room and our Steward was the best guy, efficient and fast and so nice. The 24-hour room service was awesome only used it once, but the food was great and hot, just as good if prepared right in front of you. The restaurants were so great, wonderful food, all of them. We were very impressed by the quality of the food, and that it was truly all included. On our other cruises the Restaurant's that you had to make reservations for, the optional ones, were more money. The entertainment not so sure about, as we were so tired from our excursions we just wanted to sauna, hot tub, and snow grotto which we did every day and it was wonderful! we did go to one concert and it was nice. The violin players were very nice also. The excursions wow, they were wonderful. I love History and every port there were the best things to do. The only problem was I wanted to do them all. We did do 5 tours that were the included tours and surprisingly they were very good. I figured they would not be so nice, as the ones you had to pay extra for, but they were just as nice. The places we went and saw and learned about, is indescribable almost. We walked where Apostle Paul waked, we saw history frozen in Pompeii, The Acropolis, The Roman Coliseum, and everything in between. We are still in Awe and feel so fortunate to have been able to do and see the things we did. One thing I would recommend is water on the busses. Everywhere we went it was so, so hot. To have a cooler full of water available during the excursions would have been wonderful. We ended up after a few days learning and grabbing two bottles on our way off the ship. However, that was long gone after about two hours. The service was very, very good we felt pampered the whole time. I had to watch myself sometimes because if I joked about oh, I would like this, or that, or something, the next thing I knew it would be in our room or handed to me. I asked for bottled water once at the bar to bring back to my room and after about 5 minutes I was handed two bottles of water. Then he apologized that it took so long. Stating "sorry it took so long I had to run down five decks to get it we don't stock that here", did I mention the service was outstanding. This cruise was we thought A "once in a lifetime cruise" to celebrate our anniversary, 31 years. However, we are already talking about where we have to go next on Viking. Viking has brought our Cruising expectations to a new level. Also, fun fact there is a little museum area that was on our ship telling about Eric the Red a very popular Viking in history, I happen to be related to him. My grandfather has traced our lineage back to him. So, I Told my husband Maybe Viking would give me a discount rate because of this.... My Uncle Eric....again History, History everywhere! We highly recommend Viking! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We did the Norwegian Epic cruise out of Barcelona, Spain on July 14 - July 21, 2019. To be honest, I was very apprehensive about the cruise after reading so many negative reviews on cruise critic BUT it was WONDERFUL!!! In fact, I joined ... Read More
We did the Norwegian Epic cruise out of Barcelona, Spain on July 14 - July 21, 2019. To be honest, I was very apprehensive about the cruise after reading so many negative reviews on cruise critic BUT it was WONDERFUL!!! In fact, I joined cruise critics roll call and was able to gain a lot of insight from other travelers on what to do and things that others had learned. We are avid cruisers and Disney is one of our favorite cruise lines but we decided to do Norwegian because of the price. I will attempt to give an overview. We boarded in Barcelona. We took a cab from the airport to the port. It was a fixed price of 36 or 39 euros. Check in was so smooth and fast! I did the on-line check in prior to us leaving and it was one of the fastest check-ins that I have experienced. The ship was very well maintained. I did not see dirty or stained areas. We were on floor 8 in a balcony cabin. I did not care for the lay out of the room but we only got ready and slept in the room. There were 3 of us in our cabin. I did not like the frosted shower-like doors for the toilet area but we lived with it. Once again, we just got ready and slept in the room. The dining was amazing. We had 3 free specialty dinings (for the first 2 of us) and we paid for my daughter. We ate at La Cucina, Le Bistro, and Cagney's. The food and service was superb. This was our first time to ever do any extra charge restaurants because I think you already have so much on a cruise, but since it was free, we tried it. I will say we loved it!! You felt so special, at ease and relaxed and knew you had one-on-one service. BUT, there free dining is also amazing. There is such a variety of foods. The buffet had a different them each night. (Mexican, Mediterranean, Grilled, Italian and I don't remember the others.) Also, there was a person making fresh, made to order crepes at the buffet. That may have been all nights but I used it Tuesday - Thursday for sure. Everyone in the dining rooms and dining areas were very attentive. The dining rooms and buffet areas were beautiful. They all had windows where you could look out and view the water. The front dining room at The Garden Cafe buffet was beautiful and all windows. LOVELY VIEWS!! The food reminded me of when we first started cruising 20+ years ago and that was what you looked forward to. I cannot give an honest opinion of the activities because we were off the ship each day in port and by the time we came back, got ready, and ate, we were ready to crash for the night. We did go to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, but left. I knew it would have drag queens but there were too many other things that I felt were inappropriate and were not for me nor my family. We did see a comedian and he was funny but they really needed to use a larger venue because we were packed into one of the areas and there was standing room only. We missed Burn the Floor and we choose not to do Cirque Dreams because we did not want to pay for a show. We saw the Beatles Mania show and it was enjoyable. Our cabin steward was very nice and always checking on us. He checked with us each day to see if everything was OK and if there was anything that we needed. I did want extra blankets and when we got back to the room, they were on our bed. Everyone on the ship, from guest services to the gift shops, seemed pleasant and friendly. I know some people asked about laundry and ironing of clothes. They have a laundry service on the boat but of course it is high. On Wednesday, there was a flyer in the room that advertised that you could fill a bag with clothes and they would be washed and returned to you by Friday. The cost was $19.95. We did fill a bag with our underclothes and tshirts and they were washed and back in the room by Friday evening--all for $19.95 You do have to write the special or promotion on the bag of laundry in order to receive it. I will try to give a run down of what we did each day. We did not book any excursions through Norwegian. We used outside tour companies that were less expensive and fewer people. I gave them a poor on shore excursions because of the prices. I learned this a few years ago when we did a cruise around the Greek Isles. Day 1, we embarked on Sunday in Barcelona and Day 2, Monday was a day at sea. Thank goodness for that!! We were exhausted after our flight from the US. We slept in and just roamed around a little on Monday. Every other day, you are at a port. The day of rest helped us--- I don't know if I could have gotten on in Civitavecchia and then had to do ports with no rest, if I could have made it! Day 3 - Tuesday was Naples Italy. We used Italy Tours and booked Pompeii, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast. There were 14 people in our van and it was wonderful. Our driver met us at the port, we loaded into the van and started our tour. We got back to Naples about 1 1/2 hours before we had to be on board, so there was time to go into Naples if you wanted. Day 4 - Civitavecchia (Rome)--We did not book a tour because we visited Rome for several days in 2016 so we did our own thing. We got off the ship and there were many people at the port where you could book tours or take a bus to Rome. We got on one of the Smart Tours buses and once the bus was full, they brought you to Rome. You were dropped off at a point near the Vatican and then they gave you a time to be back and the bus picked you back up at the same spot and brought you back to Civitavecchia to board the ship. The cost was 23 or 25 euros per person and you had to pay cash. They did not accept credit cards. When we got on the bus, it was almost full so we only had to sit about 15 minutes before leaving. From what I heard, some people sat on the bus almost 1 hour waiting for others to get off the ship and board. You may want to keep that in mind. Italy Tours had some small group tours for Rome but since we had spent several days here a few years ago, we just walked and revisited some of our favorite things and took our own tour. :) We stayed far away from the Vatican that day because it was Wednesday and the Pope was doing mass so it was VERY CROWDED. Make sure to get gelato. This will help cool you off and Rome gelato is so very good. Day 5 - Livorno - We did a small group tour with Italy Tours. There were 7 of us in our group plus the driver. We did the tour called the Best of Florence and Pisa. Our driver met us at the small port (it was very easy to find him) and we went to Pisa first and then to Florence. We got to Pisa by 8:15 and the first group allowed to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa is not until 9:00 so we were able to get our tickets and be in the first group to climb the tower. Walking and viewing the grounds was great! It was a highlight for us to be able to climb to the top of the tower. After doing this, I would suggest being in the beginning groups. The lines get longer as the day goes on and it gets HOTTER!! Also, you could not bring any bags in the tower. You had to lock purses and backpacks up in a secure area before climbing the tower. We then went to Florence and met up with a guide and were put with some other group for this guide. Florence was beautiful and even with the other group, we were still only 15 and our guide. Our tour company offered to add the skip the line tickets, which we purchased, and went to the academia to see the original David. The additional group of people that we joined up with in Florence did have an elderly lady who had trouble walking and keeping up and those persons eventually left the tour and said they would go on their own. Florence is an amazing city--the bridge with the shops on it is just amazing. Day 6 - Cannes - We did not do a tour with an outside company (but if you start early enough, you should be able to). You have to tender into Cannes. Make sure to book your tender early and don't waste 1/2 day on the ship waiting to catch a tender to get off. Once in Cannes, we went to Monaco. You can take a train from Cannes to Monaco and it is about a 50 minute ride. If you decide to do this on your own, here are a few tips that we learned the hard way! :) To get to the train station, once you walk out of the port area and get to the main road, take a right. When you get to the Cannes tourism office (it is a big mirrored building on the right), take a left onto the street that is across from the tourism office. You will walk several blocks down that road and then you will see the train/bus station. If in doubt, ASK. Once inside, DO NOT try to use the kiosk to buy your own tickets. Go in the station and go to the ticket office to the left (it is inside more glass doors and it has a working AC). Once inside, pull a number ticket and wait for your number to come up and then ask the agent to help you buy a ticket to Monaco. It was 36 euros for all 3 of us. BEFORE you board the train to Monaco/Nice, make sure you find the yellow VALIDATION machine and validate your ticket. I think you get in major trouble if you do not validate your ticket before boarding. If you don't see a machine, ask someone where to validate the ticket and they will show you. Take the train to Monaco and then follow the signs (brown, historical) to the palace. There are lots of things to see and quaint little shops near that area. We did not go to the casino but that is also available. When you are ready to leave Monaco, you can get off the train in Nice on the way back to Cannes and do some wandering there. We did not do this because we lost time trying to find the train station and getting the wrong kind of ticket and having to switch out. If you have plenty of time, others say this is wonderful to do. We spent all of our time looking around Monaco and then we were having to sprint to make it back to the ship!! Day 7 - Palma De Mallorca - To be honest, when we booked this trip, I had never even heard of this place. I was thinking in my mind that we would probably be so tired from our other tours and adventures, we could just stay on the ship. DON'T STAY ON THE SHIP!!! This place is beautiful. It is the largest island in all of Spain. Once again, we did not book any tour. There are shuttle buses that take you from the port to the town center. BOOK YOUR SHUTTLE RIDE BEFORE SATURDAY MORNING. The shuttle ride from the ship to town is $15 per person. Book your shuttle Thursday night or Friday. If not, you will spend a long time in line on Saturday morning to buy a shuttle ticket. For those who do book their shuttle ticket prior to Saturday morning--when you get off the ship and you see a LONG line of people that look like they are waiting to get on a shuttle, do not go to the end of the line and get in line. These are the people who are waiting to purchase their shuttle ride. Let someone know that you already purchased your shuttle ticket, and they will tell you to go straight to the shuttle bus. Meaning, you will by-pass this long line of people who did not pre-purchase. Once you ride the shuttle, it will bring you into town near the church. There is a hop-on hop off bus tour you can buy here that will bring you around the entire island. I think the HOHO bus tour was 18 euros per person. This island has many sights to see and some amazing shopping. It is beautiful and I think it would be a great place to visit on a future vacation. Once again, this was an AMAZING CRUISE, with amazing food and ports of call. For all of those who are concerned because of the negative reviews, my advice would be to ignore them and go expecting a great time and have an awesome vacation. We loved it and will definitely be trying more Norwegian cruises. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
NORWEGIAN EPIC REVIEW Some background on me to begin. I’m a 32 year old male bachelor. Norwegian Epic was my 17th cruise overall, and the 2nd that I’ve taken with NCL. Others include 9 with Celebrity, 5 with MSC, and 1 with ... Read More
NORWEGIAN EPIC REVIEW Some background on me to begin. I’m a 32 year old male bachelor. Norwegian Epic was my 17th cruise overall, and the 2nd that I’ve taken with NCL. Others include 9 with Celebrity, 5 with MSC, and 1 with Carnival. Like many of my cruises, I sailed with my 76 yr old father who has some health issues. —And although, it’s a cruise to spend some father/son time together as we live in different states, he usually goes to bed quite early, and I enjoy the night life well into the wee hours of the morning… So, inevitably It ends up becoming a “singles” cruise for me. Before I describe the ship and everything else about this amazing cruise, I think it’s important to point out a Difference with Norwegian as I see them.... First off, this is not going to be a doom and gloom review... As I do view this cruise, and ship very favorably.... But I’ll start out with a fundamental disagreement that I have overall with NCL. As Compared to the other lines that I’ve sailed with....(Twice now with NCL), they are the Kings and Queens of overly casual. Very few people dress up. I guess that I’m a rare traditionalist millennial when it comes to this opinion....I wear a sport coat often to work, and that’s in south Louisiana where it’s needless to say, quite warm for most of the year. I also, as a bachelor enjoy when women take the time dress up. Cruising is the last romantic way to vacation. There’s something about going to sleep at 2AM with a bottle in your hand in the middle of a beautiful ocean and awaking in an exotic location somewhere in the Caribbean or Mediterranean. Buuuuttt, in a nutshell, I guess that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “Freestyle Cruising”. —It’s not so much the dress attire that turns me off, it’s the fact that very little if anything is structured at all. For instance, virtually every other cruise line particularly my 2 favorites (Celebrity and MSC) have two main entrainment shows per night. —You organize your dinners(whether it’s a specialty restaurant, or one of the main dinning rooms around whichever show that you choose to attend.) —It’s a real simplistic way to cruise. There’s no overthinking it...It comes a little more natural. Freestyle cruising is more like trying to decide most of your shows, dinners, and evening hour activities on the first day of the cruise or even pre-cruise. Nothing is actually “freestyle” about it... You’re forced to decide your show times, or speciality restaurant times or even dinning room times in some cases by the end of the first evening unless you want your dinner at 11pm. I get what Norwegian is trying to do with freestyle cruising. —I understand that they want to give passengers options...And I truly see why they’ve had so much success doing this... **But I also see why other lines have been reluctant to head in their direction. And I get it now. ON TO THE POSITIVES: The EPIC might be the perfect cruise ship for the Mediterranean. It’s not quite Norwegian’s best or biggest ship. As I thought that the ESCAPE(which I sailed in 2017 was nicer and much more updated and had better social gathering points and creature comforts and cabins). But it has all of the things that modern cruisers want(including me). Plus your itinerary, and getting to see some of the cradles’ of civilization(especially those in Europe) is something to greatly credit. Although the ship holds over 4000 passengers, you rarely ever feel crowded. That’s a small advantage to a ship that was built 10 years ago, as opposed to some of the newer ships that are only a few years old that I’ve taken recently. The ship was also refitted 5 years ago... So you hardly notice any wear and tear at all. The ship also flows very well. Unlike some of the newest ships, there’s very few instances to where you can’t walk from one end of a deck to the other. —It really helps with getting around. EMBARKATION: A+ If you’re reading this about to take a Mediterranean cruise out of Barcelona or Civitavecchia, do yourself a favor and opt-in on the transfer from the airport to the cruise port. —You can do this directly on the NCL website. Well worth the $50(round trip) per person. So $100 total for two people. We were sailing out of Barcelona and took the transfer charter bus from the Barcelona Airport to the cruise port(which took around 20-25 mins or so with traffic). —It’s only about 10 miles apart. It really is the easiest route to go. The cruise port check-in was a breeze. Maybe 20-25 mins from entering the port to stepping on the ship. Barcelona only has 3 cruise ships on a Sunday, so it doesn’t seem to back up with people quite as much as Miami, or Lauderdale. Also, we arrived pretty early at the port as our flight was a red-eye into Barcelona. (We were on one of the first transfer buses from the airport to cruise port)....And credit to Norwegian for allowing you into your stateroom by noon. It was great to set down cary-on bags and get a view of the stateroom before exploring the ship. THE SHIP ITSELF OVERALL: A- I found the ship pretty easily navigable. My advice would be to take the time to really explore the ship on the first day, and you should be pretty good to go by day two. I tend to explore any ship that I sail as much as I can on the first day and make it a point to have a drink at every bar. —That usually gets you around pretty well ;) My advice, if you’re sailing the Mediterranean, and flying in that day from the U.S., make sure to do a little exploring around the ship before you pass out for your cat nap before the vacation begins. STARTING FROM THE TOP The Pool Deck(s): A+ The Pool Deck is spacious, and really has A TON of deck chairs that they’ve found every nook and cranny to put in. Like most cruises, deck chairs fill up quickly with towel clips, bags, and magazines holding chairs for sometimes hours before they’re actually occupied. But, I legitimately found very little overcrowding on any of the pool decks(including the actual pool deck 15). There was always available lounge chairs at any time of day(including sea days). Like the majority of newer NCL ships, slides and kiddo pool areas take up a large portion of the deck, but they really weren’t a nuisance(even if you’re looking for less kids and more relaxation).... If somehow the slides or kid areas near the main pool do bother you, EPIC smartly made “Spice H20” which is a smaller pool deck towards the back of the ship also on deck 15. —It’s an adult only pool. But I seriously found plenty of relaxing areas in the main pool area. Spice H2O also has several nighttime parties throughout the cruise. There’s also a Pool deck up high(even if you’re not a Haven passenger) on Deck 18. You access this via the main pool deck right near the outdoor part of the Buffett. Not much on 18 except deck chairs. The Bars/Lounges/Clubs: A- EPIC really does have a solid variety of bars to satisfy most tastes. I really enjoyed “Shakers Martini Bar” as the best overall bar itself. VERY VERY good drinks. It’s also near several of the speciality restaurants on Deck 7, and is right above the casino and near the theater. “Shakers” also has several pianists who play sing along music in a subtle non-annoying way. My other favorite drinking spot on the ship was “Bliss Ultra Lounge”. It typically starts off in the evening as a karaoke bar, and transcends later in the night to a full night club. Trust me, if you’re young and single, this is most likely where you’ll find your cruise romance lol. There were other honorable mention bars as well. The main pool deck bar(name escapes me as I write) is one of the largest pool deck bars at sea. Although it’s probably one of the most crowded on the ship, again you rarely have to wait more than a min or two before your drink order is taken. Also, if you’re a big craft beer person, O’Sheeans Irish Pub is very popular. O’Sheeans also has bar food like wings, cheese sticks ETC... Casino, Shops, and General Areas B+  As it’s well published, NCL EPIC has one of, if not THE largest casinos at sea. It seems to go on over half of the entire Deck 6. Stretching from Manhattan Main Dinning Restaurant(rear of the ship) all the way to O’Sheeans Irish Pub(which is mid-to-forward of the ship) If you like the tables, slots, or simply watching the action like me, It’s truly a massive entertainment center of the ship. If you’re a player, this is YOUR SHIP. SHOPS: Some of you might not care much about the shopping of the ship considering the destinations within your itinerary. I found the shops decent. (Not great/not bad)… The best store in terms of variety on the ship is the cosmetics and fragrance store(don’t remember the name). The watch store also has a pretty good variety. Other than that, nothing really comes to mind. Seems to have fewer shops and duty free alcohol stores or much smaller than ships equal of Epic’s size. —Not a big deal as like me, I’m sure very few of you choose a ship for the shopping. GENERAL AREAS: The general areas on Epic are pretty good minus one glaring exception…The vast majority of newer ships have main promenades(which serve as the central gathering points of the interior of the ship). —You’ll typically have bars, a dance floor, restaurants nearby, and a view of either 3 or 4 decks at one time. --Those of you who like Celebrity know that that area of the boat is near the martini bar on Solstice Class ships, and the Edge. Those who like MSC know that that area is around the Swarovski Staircases. NCL EPIC doesn’t seem to know where to send people in the interior, and it almost spreads people out too thin, limiting the action and interaction between passengers. Again, seeming to cater to the “Freestyle” cruising idea. In other words, “you choose wherever you wanna go”....Even Norwegian’s newer ships like the ESCAPE do a better job having a true main promenade. Again, some of you might roll your eyes at that, or think that I’m knit-picking on that one. But, if you cruise often like me, and aren’t necessarily entirely loyal to one line, you might get what I’m trying to say. The interior of the ship is very very nice though with lot’s of variety. No complaints at all about the condition of the ship, or the décor. All very nice! –I’m sure that this was improved during the refitting in 2014-2015. THE FAMED AND CONTROVERSIAL EPIC STATEROOM LAYOUT DEBATE: B+ Like pretty much all cruise ship cabins, it was small and served it’s purpose. Like I said earlier, I am a 32 year old bachelor... and although I always get a balcony room on any ship that I sail on, I can’t tell you that I ever spend much time in my state room other than to sleep and get dressed. But, for what it’s worth, the state room was very nice, and modern. You are on a cruise ship to have a good time, and be around other people, and get some sun. —You can’t do any of those things by staying in your room. One huge plus is the closet/drawer space. —Amazing for your sized stateroom. On to the big debate about the bathroom lol... I’m sure that most of you have read the controversy over the bathroom set up. There is no doubt that many others have nailed the fact that it is definitely unconventional....The toilet is on one side of the entrance of the stateroom with a sliding fogged glass door for privacy. And the shower is virtually a twin copy of that on the other side. Then, the sink is just outside of the shower openly in the stateroom. —I really think people overly pan this situation unfairly. —It’s really not that bad. One big argument to play the devils advocate for those hatters of this situation is that if you’re a married couple, one spouse can shower while the other is using the sink to get ready without being on top of each other like you’d be in a regular cruise bathroom. Also throw a kid into the room with that couple, and it’s logical and realistic that a wife can be doing her makeup at the sink, the husband is showering, and the kid can still use the bathroom all at the same time without stepping on each other. What other conventional stateroom can you do that in??? It’s really NOT THAT BAD. Buuuuutttt, strange layout nonetheless. THE PASSENGERS AND CREW: A+ This cruise had a very fun crowd! I was absolutely shocked at how many millennials and Gen-“X”ers were on this cruise considering the expense for American’s to take a Mediterranean cruise, and the added costs associated with traveling to get to Europe in the first place. But, there were many young professionals on the ship. Norwegian seems to do a great job at attracting younger passengers without stooping to the spring break Carnival college kid crowd. Although there were lots of younger people on the ship, NOT ONE AGE GROUP seemed to dominate the masses. One of the most balanced cruise crowds that I’ve ever seen. I was shocked at how balanced the crowd was. Also, tons of single millennials on the ship to hang out/flirt with. I’m not saying that I was necessarily looking for a “target rich” environment… But It certainly makes things more interesting if you catch my drift haha. ***Although, I have no data to back up my numbers…. I would guess that the age of passengers on the ship was: 30% Gen X, 25 % Millennials, 20% Baby Boomers, 15% Seniors, 10% Gen Z/Children Nationalities on board were: 45% of passengers were American, 40% European, 10% Latin-American, 5% from other parts of the world. Crew: I cannot say enough great things about the EPIC staff! These people, no matter whether they’re a stateroom attendant, buffet bus person, or an officer were simply perfect. They’ve mastered the art of service. I would give you specific examples, but we’d be here all day. One thing that I’ll point out was the bartenders were great! All were friendly, fast, and after a few days would remember your drink. —Truly remarkable for thousands of people circulating in and out week after week. SPECIALITY RESTAURANTS, MAIN DINING ROOMS, AND BUFFET My father and I ate at 5 of the 7 speciality restaurants on board. This isn’t super typical of everyone who adds speciality dinning to their cruise, as most people will eat at between 2 or 3 restaurants. In no particular order, opinions/grades on the 5 that we ate at: * Le Bistro (French) B+ The food at Le Bistro was pretty good. Not great. I heard several others sitting around us that they were really enjoying the cuisine but there’s a huge caveat for me with the fact that I’m from Louisiana and live in New Orleans. Please understand that I have access to some of the best French food available in the US on a daily basis. * La Cucina (Italian) A+ The food at La Cucina was excellent! Great starter salads, beautiful charcuterie board/antipasto and ton’s of Italian favorites. I had the veal and it was excellent! * Shanghai's Chinese Restaurant B- The meal was decent. But Not nearly the best Chinese food that I’ve had at sea. Much better Chinese on Celebrity Equinox....Called “Silk Harvest”. Their biggest problem is that they are missing some of the American favorites of Chinese. No General Tso Chicken and many other thing’s that Americans would expect from a Chinese restaurant. * Cagney’s Steakhouse D+ Unfortunately one of the worst meals that I’ve ever had at sea. I ordered my ribeye “medium”, and it came out still mooing. Also, the ribeye was 50% fat. I love ribeyes and cook steak often at home, and understand that that cut of meat will have extra marbling, but this was absurd. My father ordered his steak medium-well, and it came like a piece of leather. We both ended up just eating our salads and sides(which were fair at best), and cast aside the steaks. —The staff tried to make it right though. (Plain and simple, Cagney’s just sucks. Tried it on the NCL Escape as well, and thought the exact same thing). —You’d think a steakhouse would be one of the easiest to operate. * Teppanyaki (Japanese hibachi) A+ This was the second best meal that we had behind La Cucina. The food was excellent, as was the enjoyment of the hibachi experience. And the hibachi chef’s were entertaining and hilarious. The food was excellent. Great variety of Steak, chicken, shrimp, muscles, veggies, and rice. ***As you can see from above, 4 of the 5 were good, with 2 being great. Very disappointed in Cagneys on both the Escape and the Epic. MAIN DINNING ROOMS: A+ There are two main dinning rooms on EPIC. “Manhattan” and “Taste”. Manhattan is a little dressier with a little bit more formal setting. Whereas Taste is a little more laid back with more of a traditional menu. We only ate at Manhattan once, and both really liked it. —Very similar menus and atmosphere to other comparable ships. BUFFET: A+ Good choices for breakfast and lots of variety. Pretty typical for a mega ship buffet, but added variety. They seem to a little better job on breakfast than other lines (particularly with omelette stations)... They have omelette stations and other quick to order stations all over to try and get it to you fast. Although we only ate lunch once at the buffet, again there was a good variety of American favorites and various salad bars, and other ethnic cuisine. One thing that we loved was the burger/grilled items outside near the pool deck. Easy to grab lunch and to get back to your deck chair. ENTERTAINMENT: B+ If you remember my opening, you know that I don’t particularly care for “freestyle cruising” because of having to schedule everything so early... Nothing is more prevalent of that than the main theater shows on EPIC. THE SHOWS: “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" and "Burn the Floor," are the Two main headliner shows in the theater. Both were entertaining and high energy. Really liked “Burn The Floor”. Drag isn’t necessarily my thing, but still thought Priscilla was hilarious. Unlike most cruise lines, I do give NCL a lot of credit for their (what I call) “sub-shows”. —Which are smaller venues with comedians, or other shows within smaller venues around the ship. The best show on the ship hands down was called “Cirque Dreams Epicurean” Held in the “Spiegel Tent”. —Which a smaller dinner theater near the main theater. Given the small theater and the rapid changing of the various stages, you feel like the actors and acrobats are right on top of you! It’s interactive as well! There is a charge for this show as they serve dinner as well. It was about the price of a specialty restaurant. Book early! The shows fill up rapidly and were sold out for most of the cruise. Another “sub-show” was “Howl At The Moon” located in Headliners Comedy Club —Free and open to anyone, three musicians play various instruments and take requests from the audience for hours... They were AWESOME! Plus, you can come and go as you please. They typically play for about 4 hours. 8-11PM is clean in case kids are there. After 11PM is uncensored(which is more enjoyable) Speaking of Comedy....One MASSIVE negative which robbed my ENTERTAINMENT GRADE OF BEING AN “A” was no comedy show at all! —Not Even in the comedy club! —I’m not sure if this was just for this cruise, or whether NCL plans on ceasing comedy shows or what the deal was??? MISCELLANEOUS POSITIVES: -I found a lot less nickel & diming on EPIC. -One of the biggest varieties of speciality dinning, along with free speciality dinning options. -The ship really does well with excursions which is important when you’re in Europe given the language differences. -NCL Might have the best premium drink package on earth! Way less expensive than Celebrity and MSC, and you can order virtually anything. They also don’t “drink count” as I call it. In other words, if I ordered two drinks at a time, I didn’t need two cruise cards. They just did it(Believe me my friends, that is rare) MISCELLANEOUS NEGATIVES: -The WiFi was the worst I’ve ever had at sea. Mind you that both my father and I bought the premium unlimited packages on that. Had to constantly re-boot and try for sometimes 7 to 8 times to just to sign on. I get it, I was on vacation and some of you will say that I should’ve unplugged. But, I’m in management with a media company and have to check my email once a day during weekdays for emergencies even when on vacation. -No free bottled water. —Seriously. With a premium drink package, you can order all the Patron, Grey Goose, or Johnny Walker Blue Label you want, BUT NOT bottled water unless you want to pay out of pocket. Otherwise, you get a glass of tap water. Never seen that on 17 cruises except this. IN CLOSING: This cruise was amazing because of the three main factors. 1.) The itinerary, 2.) the people on the ship 3.) the crew. Yes, the ship is nice. But you’d be dazzled by some of the newer ships that other lines have come out with recently. I give the overall grade of B+ to the entire cruise. Inconsistencies in the food, the WiFi, freestyle cruising and a few lesser things narrowly cost EPIC an “A”. —Still a great cruise. Cheers to you on your next voyage! -Matthew from New Orleans, Louisiana Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Our first Oceania Cruise was on the Marina and we were so “wowed” we booked the Sirena to sail 5 months later. We did not come back from this one overwhelmed with a sense to book the next one ASAP. First, the things that were a ... Read More
Our first Oceania Cruise was on the Marina and we were so “wowed” we booked the Sirena to sail 5 months later. We did not come back from this one overwhelmed with a sense to book the next one ASAP. First, the things that were a little less than fantastic The spa deck was very small and hard to find a seat on some days. So, the concierge upgrade was not really worth the money. The bathrooms were very tiny and, we knew going in it was a smaller ship but, if you are on the toilet with the door closed it was sideways sitting. The room stewards were not as intuitive as to what we needed. For example- on day one we had champagne in a bucket that we didn’t drink on boarding as in it was more fun after sail away. When we came back to the room to drink- the bucket was gone and the champagne on the counter. We had to call to get the bucket back. The buffet restaurant was not quick with water, tea or coffee. Most breakfasts we had to flag someone down to get us more. There was link flexibility in changing restaurant dinner times even with empty tables. The good- heck it is still a fantastic line! The food is fantastic and who doesn’t like grilled lobsters. Honestly, the best food you can have at sea. The main dining room and speciality restaurants had great service. The ship is very clean. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Cons - Buffet area was way too crowded for breakfast and lunch and it was hard to walk without bumping into people nearly everyday. Dining in Silhouette was also very crowded and dinner took a full 2 hours and staff seemed like it was ... Read More
Cons - Buffet area was way too crowded for breakfast and lunch and it was hard to walk without bumping into people nearly everyday. Dining in Silhouette was also very crowded and dinner took a full 2 hours and staff seemed like it was struggling to keep up. Outside pool also extremely crowded. Also, 4 and 5 year old kids at the bars 11pm at night. And lastly, the cost for internet was really high, they were asking $28.00 just to buy 5 minutes of internet time to print out my plane tickets. Oh, and no towel animals. What the heck. Pros - Embarkation and debarkation were incredibly fast. Staff was very friendly. Service was Spectacular / Excellent overall and the staff worked really hard and deserve a lot of credit. Ship was also absolutely stunning - the furniture, the decor, the art gallery, everything was just so beautifully done. I had the standard balcony cabin on the 7th floor and it was also Amazing. Also noticed new changes this year - beach towels in cabin, new pillows, bath robes, and the mattress was so comfortable it was like sleeping on a cloud! We were also lucky in that we had nice weather, smooth seas, and the ocean breeze / Caribbean air at night was just perfect. In addition, the ship was incredibly clean - you saw a lot of staff cleaning / up-keeping the ship which was good. Our cabin was cleaned twice a day and our room attendant did an amazing job. The public bathrooms were also the cleanest I've ever seen in my entire life and I've been on a lot of cruises. Also, the hand towels in the public restrooms is a great idea. In addition, the entertainment was really excellent. Comedian Billy Garan and Jimmy Carol were a 10 out of 10. And the show "Topper" was great with the dancers in the artistic costumes and beautiful set design. The music throughout the ship was also good and there was LOTS of it - lots of musical shows in the theater, bands / singers at the pool and bars often and singers / band in the grand foyer every night and for the 4th of July party and the Great Gatsby party. There were also a lot more activities on the ship from when I went last year. Also,our cruise director Martin, was the BEST EVER - funny, entertaining, great party host, and he explained things very well. He was an A++ In addition, his dancing elevator scheme was very funny in how he caught passengers off guard in the elevator during the Great Gatsby party, and made them dance to get to their floor. The Food was u n b e l i e v a b l e. The quality and variety of food at the buffet was Astounding. Ribeye steak cooked to order one night. . as well as calamari, oxtail, chicken pot pie, and all kinds of fancy fish, pork, chicken and beef dishes. Many times the meat was so tender you could cut it with a spoon. Buffet desserts were also epic especially the german chocolate cake, the vanilla cannolis, and the butter cakes. And in the main dining room Silhouette, Superb new york sirloin steak, rack of lamb, shrimp scampi, creme brulee, strawberry cheesecake, and baked alaska. The mixed drinks were also made to perfection and the specialty coffee / espresso at Cafe Al Bacio was really good. Ports - ALL FABULOUS - Costa Maya was my favorite - took the short tram / taxi ride to Mahahaul beach which is the most beautiful beach I've ever been too - crystal clear warm water and no waves and palm trees that come right up to the water. Plus a great boardwalk with shops and cute cafes. However, did not like seeing all the homeless dogs not being cared for by locals and I had to buy them food / clean water for them. Wish I could have took them home with me. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Beware of what you think you are paying for!! Most likely it is NOT SO!! So I chose this cruise being that I had the Forth of July week off from my job. This fit great in to my plans, and I didn't have to rush back to work on ... Read More
Beware of what you think you are paying for!! Most likely it is NOT SO!! So I chose this cruise being that I had the Forth of July week off from my job. This fit great in to my plans, and I didn't have to rush back to work on Tuesday...Embarkation and disembarkation were very smooth! That being said..... I didn't have big expectations for the ship, although the Norwegian Sun was refurbished in 2018 and the public rooms and cabins had the refreshed look, the feel of the ship was still old and out dated. Also, I wasn't aware that every passenger on the ship had the free drink package...so really, this is a "drunk" cruise. Beware! It felt like a half step up from a Carnival party cruise. On that note, one thing I was disappointed in was that there were no enrichment activities available during the day, such as classes or tastings, etc., that I have always enjoyed on other cruises. I believe that that this is due to the open bar policy, and Norwegian doesn't expect that a bunch of drunk cruisers would have the need for learning anything. They did have PLENY of BINGO though! yay :( I upgraded to a balcony cabin so that we could receive the "Take all" package offered to balcony guests. This is where I had the most problems with this cruise. BEWARE BEWARE!!! This offer included the top shelf drinks package, 100 minutes of WIFI and specialty dining for all nights of our cruise. There was also a $50 credit for a shore excursion for ONLY 1 passenger per cabin, but because most of the excursions cost a lot more than needed to be, we opted to not book one. The only package to be worth this upgrade was the drink package. We did enjoy top shelf alcohol (Grey Goose and Hendricks martinis, and a very nice bottle of champagne at dinner. at no additional charge!) very enjoyable! As far as the specialty dining, I made reservations for the Cagney's steak house the first night, followed by the Italian restaurant the 2nd night, and the French place on the 3rd night. After reserving these dining options, I was prompted to add them to a shopping cart, and then 'check out'. So, if you don't have the dining package like I was offered, you would see the cost of the restaurants in your cart, and have the option to pay the upgrade as these specialty places are not included in the included cost of the cruise. In my cart, however, the extra cost for my reservations came out $0.00, so no extra charge for the 3 nights dinners. Or so I thought! On the first night we had an outstanding dinner at Cagney's complete with a fantastic bottle of wine and absolutely exceptional service from our waitress Rhoda! We couldn't wait for the next specialty dinner. However, When we arrived for our table the next night at the Italian restaurant, we were informed that we had been entitled to 1 specialty dining experience for the length of the cruise and we had used that the last night, and it would cost us each $40 additional to eat there. I brought my printed payment proof document down the customer service desk to find out what was up and was told that according to my cruise card we were only assigned 1 specialty experience. I then showed the annoyed rep that I had made the 3 reservations and that the payment came out to $0. This is where I really feel that Norwegian has lost my business forever...back and forth the reps went with each other for over 20 minutes, only to conclude that they didn't feel that we had the bookings according to the "Ultimate Dining Package" that I had upgraded to receive, only reservations. Anyway, I got the same response as many other passengers I had talked to, that they would send a message to the Miami headquarters, and hopefully receive a response the next day, or later. This made me really confused as I asked how was that going allow me to eat at the specialty restaurants without having to pay for them as my package entitled me to? Needless to say, we never heard one word from customer service, or from the Miami office since and it left me with a very disappointed feeling overall for the cruise experience! Also, the "free" WIFI was useless, as neither me nor my roommate was ever able to get a web page on our phones or my tablet...just kept loading, while using up the free minutes! Very inadequate system. In conclusion, I know that this is a way too long review, but I am just trying to warn folks to beware of the so called 'free perks', as they may not be as expected. This cruise cost us over $800. each for 3 nights. I feel that we could have saved a lot by booking on Carnival for a similar, but much cheaper experience! Thanks for listening. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We have been on all 3 Cunard ships which are all beautiful and very well presented. The staff are second to none and very helpful. We chose this cruise and had booked a year in advance whilst still on board in 2018. It was our ... Read More
We have been on all 3 Cunard ships which are all beautiful and very well presented. The staff are second to none and very helpful. We chose this cruise and had booked a year in advance whilst still on board in 2018. It was our wedding anniversary on the 24th June so we like to go away the same time every year. We don't mind where to as long as it falls on our anniversary date and as long as we are on board a Cunard ship! Our stateroom was serviced twice daily and a turn down service for the evening with chocolates provided, just before bed time (as if we hadn't already eaten enough) and tomorrow's programme of events to browse through and plan tomorrow, before some very much needed zzzzzz's after such a fabulous day/evening. We usually chose a large table of 6 for dinner as we enjoy meeting like minded cruise buddies. Two of our 'tablemates' we'd met on a previous cruise the year before (we had arranged this with them and are certainly now lifelong friends). We met two other guests who were delightful. We all had a lot in common particularly when it comes to cruising! The food was very well presented and tasty. The Lido buffet on board is fabulous. The food is fresh and plentiful in choice. Despite being in the Grills, we still love a wander through and maybe a little nibble here and there ;) The entertainment on board is amazing. I particularly enjoy the Cunard singers and dancers and all the other shows and guests appearances/entertainers. Also during the day on sea days, we love going to the on board speakers insights/enrichment talks. They are very interesting and have met some really lovely speakers from famous sports people to pilots to ex-policemen/detectives. There is always plenty to do around the ship on sea days and of course there's the swimming pools and hot tubs and the gym if you feel you need to burn off a few gained pounds! The service on board from the stateroom steward to the waiters and sommeliers to the cleaning staff and pursers desk are always so helpful and nothing is too much trouble. They are always welcoming and are very polite and say 'good morning' or 'have a good evening'. The shore excursions are varied and interesting. The coaches are clean and comfortable and the guides are very knowledgable. I love the fact that we can book an excursion and know the ship will be waiting for us whether we are late or not. We have travelled with our grown up children who equally love the Cunard ships. We haven't got grandchildren yet but I'm sure they would love it with their very own special area and staff to entertain them on sea days. We will certainly book again soon. We just have to save up the pennies first :) Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose this cruise because we had not been to Spain (except for Barcelona which we love), Lisbon or Porto, Gibralter or Morocco. The ports of call and shore excursions were fantastic. We saw many beautiful sights and learned a lot. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had not been to Spain (except for Barcelona which we love), Lisbon or Porto, Gibralter or Morocco. The ports of call and shore excursions were fantastic. We saw many beautiful sights and learned a lot. The ship itself was truly wonderful. The captain and officers were friendly and affable (not to mention very competent), the Executive Chef talented and sooooo personable, the Cruise Director (Handre) phenomenal and the cabin stewards perfect. All the wait staff in the restaurants were professional and at the same time welcoming. The entertainment was over-the-top wonderful. Seabourn does things right, and makes every trip a special adventure. One of the reasons that we love Seabourn is that the all-inclusive program makes the voyage so relaxing. The food is quality over quantity, and every meal was terrific. The deck parties were very enjoyable (lobster on the grill, dancing, champagne and caviar in the pool), and we were impressed by the "specialty restaurant," the Grill by Thomas Keller. One of our favorite activities was shopping in the market in Malaga with Chef Jes; the fish and produce were as fresh as they could be. The excursions were expensive, but the quality of the guides was excellent. The only negative on the excursions was the "hard sell" venues we were forced into in Casablanca and Tangier. They should offer a shopping excursion for passengers that are interested in buying rugs. One of our pet peeves, however, is that the internet service is ridiculously expensive. Since Oceana is offering free internet to its passengers, all other cruise lines should follow suit. We would highly recommend the Ovation for your next trip! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Husband's Big 80 birthday - chose Oceania as previous experience on Riviera was very good. Love our food. Very nice itinerary, so we thought, out of Southampton finishing up in Barcelona. Ship - very similar to Riviera. ... Read More
Husband's Big 80 birthday - chose Oceania as previous experience on Riviera was very good. Love our food. Very nice itinerary, so we thought, out of Southampton finishing up in Barcelona. Ship - very similar to Riviera. Beautifully decorated and spotlessly clean. We had Penthouse Suite which was excellent. Very good design. Everything worked except WiFi which was dreadful and you could only have one device working (if it did!) at any one time. Cabin staff were excellent - always cleaned and ready for when we returned. Butler was helpful but we don't really use the Butler. Concierge was awful, rude, arrogant, ignorant both to me and about other guests. Overall the food was good as you would expect from the Cruise line that advertises "The best food at sea..." However........service was slow and seemed disorganised in the Grand Dining Room, the buffet area you had to have everything served to you, often not what you really wanted, which slowed down the process. Often plates were taken away before you finished your last mouthful which I hate! It was over busy at times - I think because the Grand Dining Room was certainly not up to standard. When we did go to the GDR for breakfast there were issues. The worst kipper and smoked haddock I have ever seen - so awful we walked out! Speciality restaurants were good but we were not keen on the Italian Restaurant. Polo Grill, Red Ginger and the French restaurant were all good. There was little coordination between the booking systems and the actual restaurants. Wine was very expensive. The added on gratuities plus another Spanish tax made it a ridiculous price. Entertainment was mixed - some excellent and some awful. Art loft..... well I've never seen such awful examples of a tutors work. The sessions were ok but overcrowded and chaotic. The Culinary Centre was good. Fun and informative . The Special Dining in Prive was an experience, interesting and the food delicious. There were some booking issues for other guests though - they were not happy! Gym was good, classes limited. Front Spa area not serviced, loungers uncomfortable, jacuzzi far too hot on one occasion and outside shower not working. Ports were very interesting - we do not do Ships excursions as we prefer to be independent. Transfers to the ship however were poor in a number of the ports and trying to get accurate info difficult. This did cause us issues as often long waits for buses without any seated waiting areas - my husband cannot stand for long. Some very long unnecessary walks off the ship into the port - little consideration for anyone with any disability. Other Cruise lines seem to have far better in port service. We had a number of Public Holiday days in ports which meant access to attractions was limited and shops closed. The 2 nights in Bordeaux was not 2 nights as they moved the ship on the second day making any independent excursions very difficult especially as it was a public holiday. We saw the Captain once during the whole cruise. He did not attend his drinks party nor did he attend the Thank you parade for the staff. Poor! Would we travel with Oceania again?. Sadly I very much doubt it. I think if we go 6 star again we will try another company. The rudeness of the Concierge was unacceptable. Oh and they got our final account wrong... so beware - we have never had that on a cruise before they are normally spot on! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
I don’t want to make this a long winded review but I’m so unhappy with this cruise that I feel I have to share my experience with everyone. I’ll try to make it short. Food: The buffet was extremely disappointing, especially ... Read More
I don’t want to make this a long winded review but I’m so unhappy with this cruise that I feel I have to share my experience with everyone. I’ll try to make it short. Food: The buffet was extremely disappointing, especially breakfast. The buffet was very predictable. Every day for breakfast they would have the same basic breakfast items. No variety, no additions. Only the same basic breakfast items you would get for breakfast at your standard hotel. No steak with your eggs. The only meats they offered, every day, was sausage and bacon, period. No specialty pancakes, if they had them at all. Just basic breakfast food. Anyone that’s been on other cruise lines knows they usually mix it up in the buffet to give the passenger variety, but not on Norwegian. The food was extremely predictable and simple. They tried to insert some variety into the dinner buffet but it was just the same food with a different name. Main Dining Room: We ate at Savor on our first night. The receptionist didn’t even look up at us when assigning our table. The service was extremely slow. Our entire dinner took 2 hour and 37 minutes (yes, we started timing it because it was so slow). We needed refills on our drinks and our waiter had to do the refills after we asked 3 times, then he apologized because his assistant just “disappeared.” It took exactly 18 minutes to serve our kids deserts from the time they picked up our dinner plates, they had jello for desert. We tried the Tropicana room next and the service was a little improved. Specialty Dining: We tried Moderno, the Brazilian Churrascaria. The room was very nice. The waiters were also pleasant but the food, the meat, was mostly very bland, very little flavor. We decided to try Teppanyaki next, the hibachi restaurant. Teppanyaki was fantastic. The food was worth every penny and the chefs were great. We ate at Teppanyaki twice during this cruise. Buffet Issues: The staff at the buffet appeared unengaged and unmotivated. There was no sense of urgency with anything with this staff. After passengers would finish their meals, the tables would not be cleaned off for a while. Several times we had to sit at a dirty table, with the previous passengers dishes, because there were no available tables to sit at. We would be halfway through our meal before anyone came to clean the table off. Also, throughout the entire cruise, food would go empty at the buffet and there was no one there to restock the food items. This occurred with the pizza and the specialty food every day. I started taking videos and pictures of empty buffet areas with passengers waiting for food in order to send to Norwegian. I also complained to one of the crew managers in the buffet and he stated he was in charge of the seating areas in the buffet and the chef is in charge of the food, and this is a common problem with the chef’s staff that also frustrates him. Also, the buffet food is routinely cold. Kids Splash Academy: Every night the kids Splash Academy would hit capacity and no additional kids would allowed in. Here’s my issue with this. Number 1, this was a Florida spring break cruise with a lot of kids. Number 2, Norwegian knew it was a spring break cruise and knew exactly how many kids would be on the cruise. Number 3, using historical data, Norwegian knows the percentage of passengers with kids that typically use the Splash Academy. And Number 4, Norwegian booked several adult only shows on the cruise. Taking all this information into account, Norwegian failed to adequately plan for a high number of kids on their cruise during times when they were showing adult only shows. This was a clear failure on Norwegian’s part to take their passengers’ needs into considering. Norwegian should have had a backup plan for overcapacity in the Splash Academy, especially on adult only show nights. This was a clear failure on Norwegian’s part to anticipate. Definitely not a family friendly cruise line. Norovirus: And to top it all off, my son was running a fever towards the end of the cruise. I called the front desk and ask for someone to take my son’s temperature or provide a thermometer so we could take his temperature. We were told it would be $150 to have my son’s temperature taken. I thought this was completely ridiculous. Once we returned home we found out my son had the Norovirus and Adrenal Virus. I can’t believe Norwegian would want to charge $150 just to take someone’s temperature. I can guarantee you that certain other cruise lines do not charge you for something this routine and simple as taking temperature. I can honestly go on and on but I won’t. Put simply, this cruise line is not worth the time or money. This is my first Norwegian cruise, but my 12th cruise overall and I can tell you, this cruise line is at the bottom of my list. Prior to my cruise I read a lot of great Norwegian reviews and I just can’t figure it out. Maybe they were first time cruisers or maybe these are folks that just don’t get out much and didn’t have anything to compare it to. Don’t get me wrong, the ship is beautiful, where I believe Norwegian fell short is with its people, its staff. The human factor made this a horrible cruise for us. Cruise are your own risk with Norwegian. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
I'll start this review as I have started all of my previous ones, with a bit of an introduction: My wife and I do 2-3 cruises a year, nearly all of them with Celebrity. We are 30 & 26 years old respectively, and have sailed the ... Read More
I'll start this review as I have started all of my previous ones, with a bit of an introduction: My wife and I do 2-3 cruises a year, nearly all of them with Celebrity. We are 30 & 26 years old respectively, and have sailed the Caribbean a half-dozen times. I will be writing this with the target audience of "First Timers" and will hope to shed some light on what we enjoy, and don't enjoy about cruising with Celebrity, and on the beautiful Equinox. Why this cruise? My wife is a school teacher, so we take a 7 day cruise every year on her Spring Break. We don't have bitter winters here in Central Alabama, but the end of March is the perfect time to hop down into the beautiful weather that the Caribbean offers year-round. We started off cruising Carnival years ago, but ultimately made the jump to Celebrity as we wanted something more sophisticated and relaxing. We don't like to be charged for every single item on a cruise, so we love that Celebrity allows us to go for the "all inclusive" package. We book through a wonderful Travel Agent who only does cruises. We went on board with a drink package, prepaid tips (paid by TA), and $450 on board credit. With Celebrity, the OBC can be used to book excursions, specialty restaurants, on board shopping, or virtually anything else you buy on board. Frankly, its one of the main reasons we sail with Celebrity. All in all, we got a beautiful Concierge Class Balcony and all the perks for well under $3000 for the entire trip. We brought about $500 US in cash for port spending and tipping on board.We have found that, with all of the inclusions, its really hard to beat Celebrity on price. Add in the service and the wonderful food, and its a no-brainer for us. We also have been fortunate enough to have my parents join us for each of the last three spring break cruises. Its wonderful to be on any cruise ship, but even better when you can spend the time with family. My parents being older, do not want a "party cruise". Celebrity offers a wonderful atmosphere that allows everyone to have a great time but not at the expense of others. The Equinox: After having sailed on her twice, it comes as zero surprise that the Equinox wins "Best Overall" on CruiseCritic every year. Its a beautiful ship with a very user friendly layout. At 121k GT, it sits right in the happy medium of cruise ships in terms of size. There is plenty to do, plenty of room, and yet still small enough to be able to get comfortable with the entire ship over the course of 7 short days. Our two favorite areas of the ship are the sundeck and the main atrium. Both are absolutely stunning whether it is day or night. Decks 3-6 are where all the magic happens. Bars surround the atrium on all sides but they are presented in a way that is very classy and doesn't ever feel crowded. The four main bars that we frequent are all very different in design and styles, and they are spread out in a way that no place ever feels particularly crowded. The martini bar and the Gastropub are opposite each other from the atrium. One serves decadent martinis in dozens of flavors and all is served in a beautiful lounge and a solid ice bar top. The Gastropub has the feel of a rustic craft beer bar that has an awesome selection of beers from around the world. This bar has ESPN running on TVs so it was crowded while the NCAA basketball tournament was going. The World Class bar is a really cool bar near the art gallery and shops. This bar has two "mixologist" that are expert beverage makers. I go here to experiment and try new drinks that I may not have tried otherwise. This requires the premium drink package, but you can literally tell them you like whisky, citrus, and sweet drinks and they will come up with something you've never tried before. Its a wonderful place to hang out before dinner or after shows, especially if your wife enjoys shopping as much as mine does! This last bar is my personal favorite: The Sunset Bar. Its an outdoor bar that is open from morning til late at night. It is at the top of the boat and at the aft, so the breeze and views are breathtaking. The Equinox, like all Solstice class ships, are covered in real grass on the aft 1/3 of the top deck. Its something extremely unique about Celebrity and its really neat to be in the middle of the ocean and have grass between your toes. All in all, its a wonderfully balanced ship. Its large enough for there to be plenty of options in how you spend your days, but small enough to still feel intimate. Captain Kate Mccue: Oh Captain, My Captain! I'll admit I was a skeptic at first. Not that I thought she was a bad Captain, but I didn't believe a Captain could have a significant impact on a cruise vacation. Most Captains that I have sailed with are only worried about doing their jobs, getting us to and from our destinations safely, and they allow the entertainers and the service staff to provide us a good time. And while that is completely fine, Captain Kate is amazing! Her personality infects the entire ship and everyone stops what they are doing when she speaks over the PA. She is an awesome Captain, and every single bit as good as she is advertised. I cannot say enough how impressed I am with her, other than it would be a mistake for Celebrity to ever let her go! Stateroom: Concierge Cabin (C2) Room 1249. The stateroom is the same as any veranda on the ship outside of Suites, but this cabin does offer a unique feature that only a few cabins on the entire ship offer... a larger balcony. The Equinox has a few "bump outs" or "humps" in her design that cause a few of the cabins on each floor "bulge" out a few feet. At the angles of these "bumps" you get a slanted balcony. From the nearest corner, it is no smaller than any other balcony on the ship, but at its widest, its nearly twice as long. Our deck chairs came with ottomans and the chairs reclined enough that we effectively had loungers on our balconies. We didn't get quite the breeze off the balcony due to where we were, but the extra balcony space will be missed on the cruises that we dont have it. Room layout is spacious enough for a cruise cabin, our bed was near the balcony compared to others that are near the bathroom. Speaking of the bathroom, its about average in size if you are used to balcony rooms. The shower has simple but elegant sliding glass door that doesn't waste any space. In concierge class we had access to slightly better bathroom toiletries and cosmetics. My wife didn't seem particularly impressed with the shampoo, but there could have been other factors that led to that. Dining: In this section is where we found the best and worst that our particular vacation had to offer. We went into this cruise knowing we would be doing a night or two in specialty dining, specifically Murano. I'll dive into the specialty restaurants in a bit, but lets get the not-so-pleasant out of the way. Please understand that we have never had an issue in the Main Dining Room. Celebrity does dining very well, and I'd even argue that it is one of their strengths. This time, we just weren't impressed. My wife, myself, and my parents got sat at a very nice four top. The MDR is crowded as it is on all ships, so that didn't bother us. We had a very nice and attentive head waiter, and the food both nights that we dined there was excellent. The bar/drink service however, was severely lacking. My father and I managed to get our wine quickly enough usually, but my wife and mother waited 15-30 minutes for their bar drinks every time they ordered. It became such an issue that our poor head waiter would go off running to get the drinks himself. This isn't a major issue, I am aware of that, but I expect more from Celebrity. After two identical services with the identical problems we called our Concierge (perk of concierge class) and told her about the issue and she asked if she could inform the Maitre'D. Literally 5 minutes later the Maitre'D had ran up to our rooms to apologize, hear our feedback, and promised to improve the service going forward. People, this is what makes Celebrity different. There are 3000 people eating dinner in his beautiful dining room, and he stopped mid-service to run up to our room to personally apologize and ask how to fix it. The next day we got back from a day at port and my parents and I each had a bottle of nice champagne from the Maitre'D, it was a wonderful gesture and we were impressed. Now as it turned out, we had a reservation at the famous Murano that evening. When we left Murano we were so blown away that we called our Concierge and asked her to book us in specialty dining for the remainder of the cruise. These restaurants are not free, nor cheap, but our concierge got us 20-40% off the listed price each night we dined in a specialty restaurant. So, in the end we never got to go back in the MDR, but I am convinced that the issues would have been fixed. Murano If you do one thing on a Celebrity Cruise, eat dinner at Murano. The first night of the cruise they offer it at a discount if you book ahead of time. My father and I are "foodies" and love fine dining. We both agreed that the Murano dinner service and quality of food is an experience that would be incredible even if it weren't on a cruise ship. Every single aspect, from the bread to the Grand Marnier Souffle is perfect. Lobster Murano is a top 5 dish that I have ever experiences and is cooked table side with everything from bacon, to lobster cooked in a cognac mustard creme sauce. We were so impressed that we booked it for every remaining night of the cruise that we could. One night they were fully booked, so we tried Tuscan Grille. It was very good, but with it being a for-fee Italian steakhouse, we left miserably full compared to the lighter and more elegant Murano. Entertainment & Activities This will be rather short as we did not attend any of the main productions in the theater. Celebrity keeps the same shows for 3-5 years before cycling them out, with us sailing on the Equinox as frequently as we do, there weren't any that we hadn't already seen. We did however attend the comedy shows and watch a lot of live music. The comedian was great and the house band was excellent as well. Celebrity offers other activities like bingo, concerts, seminars, and workshops that many find to be fantastic. Admittedly we mainly go find somewhere quiet near a bar, as we are both young and always seem to be around crowds on land, we enjoy a more laid back experience on the boat. Service With the exception of the MDR, which I consider a fluke rather than a flaw, service is impeccable on Celebrity. Tipping is a hot topic on any cruise forum, but I can definitively say that when I hand a bartender or my room steward a $10/$20 bill on the first day, they take care of my wife and I the rest of the voyage. I personally try to find a specific bartender in my most regular bars and tip heavy on days 1/2. I tip $1 a drink the remainder of the time and I am having another drink brought to me before the first one is finished. Celebrity has a wonderful staff and an underappreciated staff/guest ratio. I think the reason they named it "Celebrity Cruises" is because of how they want each and every guest to feel. It really is what makes them so special. Cafe Al Bacio: I couldn't figure out the best place to include this place in any of my previous sections, so I ultimately decided that it needed its own. Bacio is arguably the most loved place on the ship. They are a full service coffee & dessert bar that is open all day. In the morning people are getting their day started with anything from a cappuccino to a cup of decaf, and late at night every table is full with people winding down in the low light setting of an old city jazz bar. The live music from the atrium fills the bar and its just a super unique place to relax and enjoy yourselves. It sounds so simple and quaint, but I am amazed that every cruise ship in the world doesn't mimic this place into their own. Ports & Excursions: We loved every port we stopped at. We are very familiar with the Western Caribbean so only Key West was a first time port for us. Everyone has different interests at respective ports, so I will just tell you what we do every time and you look for more information if you wish. Key West: We wandered on our own, Key West isnt a large town and most of the cool stuff is near the ship. There are tours galore and a really neat aquarium nearby. Grab you a piece of Key Lime Pie and a Conch Fritter and enjoy your first stop of the cruise! Grand Cayman: 7 Mile Beach at Calico Jacks. You go to this beach for the water as it is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. CJ's is great, but very crowded. Costa Maya: New favorite port in the Western Caribbean. The port itself is a maze, but very very beautiful. We find our way out and go to Maya Chan Beach Resort every chance we get. Check it out, its the epitome of a relaxing beach day. Cozumel: I have an answer to the famous Sancho's vs Nochi debate... Sancho's is the best! All inclusive, wonderful service, and a beautiful (safe) beach. We go every time we are in Cozumel and have no plans of changing! In Conclusion: My wife and I fell in love with cruising on our honeymoon and have been blessed to go one more than most our age. Celebrity is a perfect fit for what we want to do and how we want to spend our time on the boat. Its generally an older crowd, but we cruise like "older people". We have 2 more cruises currently booked with Celebrity, and 81 days cannot get here soon enough! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We had already booked a 12 day Galápagos Adventure with another company. Our travel agent suggested the Aria post cruise as we were already in South America! The Aria is state of the art, gourmet food, 4 enthusiastic knowlegable guides, ... Read More
We had already booked a 12 day Galápagos Adventure with another company. Our travel agent suggested the Aria post cruise as we were already in South America! The Aria is state of the art, gourmet food, 4 enthusiastic knowlegable guides, and adventures galore. Imagine breakfast floating on the Amazon, paddling a dugout canoe with a tarantula swimming alongside, Mimosas in a skiff at sunset and nighttime searches for anacondas! I kid you not! It is worth every cent and memories will remain forever! Please do not buy Jaguar handbags from the locals. You cannot bring them back through customs! But do buy their silver jewellery, fruits, nuts and beaded earrings. Customs also confiscated spices, seed necklaces and bracelets. The Aria Amazon had a great little gift shop with a tasteful selection of both costume and expensive jewellery at fair prices. Meant to have a massage but no time! Be sure to attend cooking class and a Pisco Sour workshop! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This was our third Seabourn cruise, second on the Quest and we chose this one because we wanted to see Antarctica. Once again, we entered a world of comfort, luxury and plenty, all delivered with kindness and good humour by the hard ... Read More
This was our third Seabourn cruise, second on the Quest and we chose this one because we wanted to see Antarctica. Once again, we entered a world of comfort, luxury and plenty, all delivered with kindness and good humour by the hard working staff and crew. However unlike our previous two Seabourn cruises, we were quite disappointed by the vegetarian food on offer. Cabin Our cabin was on Deck 6,and right up the front of the ship. We had a beautiful big room with a verandah, a separate lounge room, a big comfortable bed and a big bathroom with a bath, with high quality and plentiful bath products and big, soft towels. There was plenty of storage and the view from the verandah was uninterrupted. However on the rare occasions we sailed through rough seas, we certainly rocked a lot. We will book a cabin mid ships on our next cruise. We like good air flow when we are sleeping and once again, the air conditioner did not meet our needs. The cabin was too stuffy and we had the same problem last year and on the Encore the year before. We solved this by bringing our own fan and we were very comfortable. A couple of times throughout the cruise, we had a "meet your neighbours" party. This is a great idea. Dining My husband and I are vegetarian and although there was plenty for us to eat, a lot of the dishes were mediocre. They were very bland and often stodgy and we seemed to have those bland and stodgy dishes over and over again. However we often dined with passengers who chose the meat dishes and they reported that their steaks were succulent and their chicken and pork were cooked to perfection. It's as if Seabourn are ticking a box to say they cater to vegetarians but then fail to produce fine food. However the vegetarian options on the two occasions they held a Galley Market and the special Indian buffet dinner they held one night in the Colonnade were outstanding. We also placed a special breakfast order for vegetarian congee and this dish was also outstanding. The chefs can clearly prepare beautifully spiced dishes when necessary and I only wish they could do it all the time. Vegetarians on all cruise ships seem to be treated with the same contempt as someone who asks for an overcooked steak and I don't think we deserve that. There's a whole market of cashed up vegetarians Seabourn could attract if they really tried to cater to our needs. The waiters on Seabourn are the best of the best. Incredibly inspiring people, I may be in the minority here, but I don't like or understand Seabourn's practice of having the staff offer an arm to a woman, which the woman is then under some pressure to grab while they are escorted to their table in the Restaurant. It is not a custom I am used to and the feminist in me really objects. I always feel uncomfortable and I'm sure these busy young people have better things to do. We have dined in upmarket restaurants all over the world and have not experienced this practice anywhere else. Perhaps they could have an opt in policy for those who enjoy this experience and leave the rest of us alone. Drink The wine ranged from good to acceptable and there was always plenty to choose from. There was a huge variety of cocktails and they were plentiful. The bar staff were wonderful. Public Spaces Even at full capacity, Seabourn ships never feel crowded. We could always find a quiet spot to read or simply watch the world go by. On the other hand, if we wanted company or entertainment, there was always somewhere to go. The whirlpool on deck 6 was a haven for us and we usually had it to ourselves. It was the place to be when sailing away. . Fitness Centre My husband attended the complimentary stretch and exercise classes each day and found them excellent. The instructor was very capable and he gave my husband lots of advice on how to continue the program once he came home. Entertainment We were on the Quest last year, so this time when we went to the shows put on by the extremely talented Seabourn singers and dancers, we were surprised to find that the shows were exactly the same as last year. Even some of the costumes were the same. Seabourn encourages us to be repeat cruisers and we are very happy to oblige, but it would be nice to see something different. The entertainment on the whole was very good but tended to be middle of the road and designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Seabourn's passengers are generally well educated and sophisticated, but most of the music would have appealed to our long deceased parents. For heaven's sake, we were alive in the sixties and went through one of the most profound musical revolutions in history. We can handle entertainment which is current and inspiring and multi-dimensional and I'm sure the talented entertainers onboard would have loved performing this type of material. On the other hand, we were huge fans of Josie and the trio in the Club and we usually ended up there every night. Now they really can handle modern music. We also enjoyed the various parties on the pool deck and in the Club. Jess, the Assistant Cruise Director is an outstanding entertainer. Staff and Crew Iggy and the expedition team were outstanding and I can't thank them enough for the wonderful experience they arranged for us in Antarctica. We always knew exactly what we had to do and when we had to do it and all the time they shared their incredible knowledge with us. They were always true professionals while being kind and warm and funny. The Captain was also a true professional and a wonderful communicator and we always knew we were in good hands. The weather is volatile going to and from Antarctica and each day he told us what the weather was doing and how he was going to deal with it. We were very impressed. The staff in every Department were well trained and incredibly good at their jobs. Seabourn only employs the best of the best and it shows. Excursions Antarctica was the highlight of this cruise and Neko Harbour was the highlight of Antarctica. It is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. We were fortunate that the weather was perfect for the 6 days we were there, so we saw everything we set out to see. Only 100 people are allowed on shore at any one time and Seabourn's expedition team organised us like a military operation. We knew exactly what we had to do and when we had to do it. They helped us on and off zodiacs, even those passengers with disabilities, and helped us once we were on shore. They laid out trails for us and kept us away from the seals basking on the beaches and the penguins' walking trails, but we were close enough to see them. The penguins were lovely. The expedition team also made sure we cleaned our boots before we returned to the ship so we didn't cross contaminate the next place we went to. Otherwise we covered a large area of the continent of South America and the excursions were really well organised and great value. The outstanding sights were the fjords in Chile, the Falkland Islands, Buenos Aires, Montevideo and everywhere in Brazil. Passengers Mostly American with a few Australians and English but quite a few other nationalities as well. Age range 60 and upwards. Mostly well educated, well travelled, lovely people who were thrilled to be on board such a lovely ship, living in the lap of luxury and having such a wonderful experience. They were a pleasure to spend time with. However it always amazes me how a small minority are constantly complaining about anything and everything and thought nothing of being very rude to the staff. They seem to get off on it. Internet Very patchy and as other reviewers have said, it should be part of the package. In summary, this was a wonderful experience and going to Antarctica was life changing. Seabourn Quest is one of only a handful of small ships that can go there and we were very fortunate to be able to take this journey. I'm sure we will now all be ambassadors to make sure this remarkable place stays as pristine as it now is. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Needed a two bedroom to travel with a snorer. The ship is huge. Food in the Haven was excellent. The Manhattan room was very good but didn’t return because the band was very very loud. The Burn the Floor show was great but didn’t ... Read More
Needed a two bedroom to travel with a snorer. The ship is huge. Food in the Haven was excellent. The Manhattan room was very good but didn’t return because the band was very very loud. The Burn the Floor show was great but didn’t see others. I have been on many cruise lines and never experienced one before this one that charges for the better shows and charges for cocktails and umbrellas on their private island. REALLY?? With our drink package on their island we were offered beer but all alcohol otherwise you had to pay for. Fortunately we did find some shade so didn’t have to rent the umbrella. The biggest disappointment was at St Thomas. We had to be back on the ship at 1:30. So after taking an excursion we had to get right back to the ship. I did really enjoy everything about the Haven’s cabin, dining room, clubs and bar but the only criticism is when the band starts playing on deck 15 the piped in music at the Posh club should be turned down so you don’t have to listen to two songs at the same time. We would have enjoyed hearing the live music only. Also the service in the Haven was top notch. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019

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