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Sail Date: November 2011
Before I start and give my review of this cruise, I would just like to tell you my travelling companion and I have worked in the travel industry for over twenty years and we have both held senior positions on cruise ships in the past. ... Read More
Before I start and give my review of this cruise, I would just like to tell you my travelling companion and I have worked in the travel industry for over twenty years and we have both held senior positions on cruise ships in the past. After embarking the ship in Istanbul for our Holy land cruise on the 6th of November we were amazed how quickly we got through the terminal and onto the ship. The welcome onboard glass of champagne went down like a treat and our party of 6 couldn't wait to go and explore what would be our new home for the next two weeks. Being Diamond Plus in the Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor programme we were matched across to Elite status with Celebrity's Captains Club. We were all looking forward to being made welcome and special like we have enjoyed and experienced many times in the past. Once on the ship at 1pm we were shepherd to the Seaside cafe on deck ten to have lunch. Having not cruised with Celebrity before I was somewhat dumb struck at the rat race and free for all that was happening right in front of me. Trying to push my father through the cafe in his wheelchair was near impossible. Passengers were just hitting each individual section of the buffet from left, right and centre causing ciaos and frustration for many people just wanting a simple lunch after a long day travelling. My first impression was "why is it taking so long"? 15 minute to wait to get a salad was bad enough but this was topped by a 10 minute wait to get a cup of coffee. I didn't mind too much telling people not to push in front of me but poor old dad with his walking sticks he had no chance at all. At this point all I could I think was, don't they do things different and why is everything from a packet of butter to a glass of water being served personally by a member of staff? All I could I do was reflect on what I had seen in the Seaside cafe and try and make sense of it as we waited to get the announcement at 3pm saying that our cabins were ready. We settled into our generously large outside cabin on deck 6 and found the decor pleasing and cabin spotlessly clean which it remained to be throughout the whole cruise. Nothing was too much trouble for our stateroom attendant and it was nice to be engaging with someone who really had a passion for their work. The evening meals in the main dining room were exceptional. The choices on the menu we found to be fresh and creative and it was joy to have such wonderful dishes served by two very enthusiastic and fun waiters. At dinner on the second night compliments were sent to the chef and to our surprise no other than the executive chef himself came to our table to thank us personally. We were asked if anyone had any questions they would like to ask. I asked the chef "what was happening at the lunchtime buffet"? He told us steps had been taken for staff to serve everything in the buffet as the ship had experienced a bug on the previous cruise and many people had been taken ill. At this point things did start to make sense we had thought the cruise line was going over the top showing over and over again on the TV how to wash your hands and how to prevent the spreading of germs and infections at sea. On the third day of our cruise two out of our party had been struck down with a bug and by the end of the first week four out of the six of us had been isolated with the unspeakable virus! Of course for their own reasons the officers were tight lipped when asked if the Norovirus was present on the previous cruise. At one point we were told 4 passengers had embarked the ship in Istanbul ill and this had caused the outbreak! To be honest with you, should we have known this prior to embarkation I think some of our party would have thought long and hard about going on a ship with such a terrible and painful virus as some of our travelling party have had fragile health of late like I guess most of the population of pensioners onboard the "Connie". After being released from isolation I found the free for all had continued in the Seaside Cafe and the attitude from some of the stripes still remained aloof, arrogant and still in denial of what was happening around them. Today, having only returned home late yesterday I cannot find it within me to thank Celebrity Cruises for showing me how I am actually able to projective vomit and experience the other things associated with the unspeakable bug. However, once I receive the "gesture of goodwill" compensation payment in the form of a future cruise credit of one lost day in isolation, my opinion might just change but I don't think it will it took us almost three days to come around after. I am more than aware I have been going on and on so I'm not going to go into details of the cold food and never once seeing a food thermometer, finding sinks full of vomit in public toilets and the inability of stripes to communicate with one another along with the disorganisation in the dining room for breakfast and lunch and, don't even get me started on the elegant afternoon tea. So, go on, ask me did I enjoy my cruise? Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2011
Carnival Paradise One disappointing thing to note which was totally out of the cruise lines control was the weather, we left an unusually warm London for an equally unusual cold and wet LA. This may have had an impact on some of our ... Read More
Carnival Paradise One disappointing thing to note which was totally out of the cruise lines control was the weather, we left an unusually warm London for an equally unusual cold and wet LA. This may have had an impact on some of our thoughts about the cruise. Embarkation The check in process in Long beach was quick and efficient. The lady who check us in was really friendly and worth mentioning. Wish we had taken her name down. We do question some of the security checks and the attention of the people operating the metal detectors, we noticed a person in front of us trigger the lights on the machine, but the operator was busy with someone else in front and the trigger went unnoticed by security staff. Food Our first food experience was the Paris Buffet and its very dated decor. The servers on every occasion were friendly and helpful. The food was average and to be fair was not bad for the price we paid for the cruise. On some visits to the Buffet (we ate here on all but one occasion) not all the advertised dishes were available at the start of the service. Dinning space was constantly at a premium and the crew were slow to clear the tables. The gulls were most amusing and I have the feeling they stayed with the ship throughout the Trip. We ate only once in one of the main dining room. The food was excellent. The Matre'd was very helpful and due to our jet lag managed to fit us in with the any time dinning instead of our late dinning option. The Idea of Mongolian BBQ on deck is a great addition, but speed of service needs to be looked at. It took over 30 mins on one occasion and it was a quiet time. Cabin Our luggage was delivered quickly and by the time we made it to the cabin. We were greeted by our friendly stewardess. This was the only time we met or spoke. The cabin itself was dated and showed signs of wear. At all times the cabin was kept clean. I could be wrong, but did Carnival used to give a nice Chocolate at Turn Down? If so they don't any more! The rooms were noisy and the loud neighbours who were seemingly deaf thought it acceptable to shout out conversations along with other "Young" Neighbours who felt it necessary to shout at all hours of the day and night, clearly under the influence of alcohol. Entertainment Throughout the most disappointing element of the cruise was the "Entertainment". We did enjoy the comedians and the one production show we got to see. What we did not like was the fact the cruise director tended to speak at a very fast pace and was difficult to understand. In addition to this the lack of Entertainment on the evening of the Esanada. There was no entertainment in the main showroom! The entertainment was also fairly nonexistent on the sea day, the odd quiz and an ice carving demo. Memories of Carnival a few years ago seem to show a general decline in the standard of entertainment. Disembarkation We chose the self assist process and found this much faster and convenient than the standard disembarkation process. It was also great for the Non -â€"US immigration channel was much faster than the US Channel for a change. General The level of hard sell seems to have been dramatically reduced ( and greatly appreciated) on board. The public toilets in the ship were consistently in a disgusting condition, but this seemed more due to our fellow shipmates rather than poor management by the crew. BE AWARE: The system Carnival use for Charging its guests on its sail and sign card has some down sides. All though the charges were all correct and present, we noticed that not only do Carnival "Block" a deposit against your credit card, each time you charge to your sail and sign card an additional amount is also Blocked, then once you leave the ship the full amount of charges is taken from your credit card but all the "Blocks" remain on the card for over a week. I could imagine this could cause some embarrassment for some. We also noticed that Carnival also credit back cash deposits to the customer as cheques. How does this work if you are from the UK? Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2011
We began our holiday at Southampton City cruise terminal. The car parking was slightly different from what we are used to. In the past we have sailed from the Mayflower terminal where they seem to have got it together better in as much ... Read More
We began our holiday at Southampton City cruise terminal. The car parking was slightly different from what we are used to. In the past we have sailed from the Mayflower terminal where they seem to have got it together better in as much as dropping off the car seemed much smoother. This time we had to drop off the luggage and then drive back to the entrance and leave our car. However, both being able bodied the short walk from the car to the Terminal with hand luggage was no problem. Just an observation. Unfortunately there were long queues for checking in and boarding. Much of this seemed to be due to the Xray machine and it wasn't until we were well into the queue that the port authority decided to open another one. Once through we then waited to go onto the ship. The whole process took an hour and three quarters so that we missed lunch arriving in our cabin number 8020 at around 2.30pm. We were pleasantly surprised with our cabin which had a bath and all the amenities. It had a restricted view but this didn't upset us unduly. After unpacking we went to the Neptune Lounge where sandwiches, tea, coffee and cakes were being served. Again there was queueing. We have been on the Balmoral before in 2008 but couldn't recall there being as much queuing,this seemed to be for most things this time. We are easy going and it wasn't the end of the world but some people complained. We had remembered that the food was quite good both in the main restaurant and in the buffet and again were not disappointed this time. We were looked after everyday by our waiter Alvin who was very attentive and good humoured. Nothing was too much trouble when we deviated from the menu, bringing us extra food such as icecream and cheese. The food was of excellent quality, there was even champagne available with breakfast if that was what you required. It was a bit early for us! At dinner in the main restaurant we had a table for 6. We felt very lucky as we had really pleasant company and had a good laugh. The ports Hamburg, Bremerhaven and Antwerp were fine although we were disappointed not to go into Amsterdam due to technical problems. Perhaps we could have been allowed to spend the afternoon in Bremerhaven instead of waiting on the ship in port for 5 hours. However it didn't really spoil our holiday as we found plenty to do. We didn't go on the arranged tours, preferring to find our own way round the ports shopping, sightseeing etc. It is true that the Christmas Markets were not open, but to be honest we have done them before and seem to be full of tinsel and sickly sweets (not our thing). Again we were not disappointed and had not gone on this cruise for them anyway. On reflection we met some nice people, it was relaxing enjoying good food all washed down with a nice glass of wine and beer. Disembarkation was fine although again queueing was the norm, but we were soon on our way home smoothly and efficiently. So to sum up we found the whole experience a pleasure and good value for money. We would recommend the Balmoral if a smaller ship is for you. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
After reading many reviews about MSC Poesia, I was anxious to experience the cruise for myself. The ship is gorgeous and spotless. We were greeted on arrival and escorted to our cabin by the cabin stewards. They were lined up in white ... Read More
After reading many reviews about MSC Poesia, I was anxious to experience the cruise for myself. The ship is gorgeous and spotless. We were greeted on arrival and escorted to our cabin by the cabin stewards. They were lined up in white jackets and waiting to escort all passengers. Very impressive and nice to not be attacked by drink waiters upon boarding the ship. Drinks were not pushed and not sold in the theater. That was very pleasant. The staff was very professional and helpful. We did not have a problem with anyone. The entertainment team, which I had not seen on other ships was fantastic. They were so full of energy and got everyone involved in the activities. The cabin was spacious and had lots of storage. The bathroom was very convenient and bigger than some others I have seen on other cruise lines. The pool area was wonderful. Lots of room to just sit around the pool and get your feet wet, showers, and waterfalls that people enjoyed. Pool chairs were nice because they had a top on them if you wanted to use it to keep shaded. Pool towels were available at the pool deck. The buffet on the 13th deck was very pleasant and nice seating with ocean view. The food was put out in ceramic dishes on warmers which seemed smaller than other buffets I have seen but they were replenished often. The servers were watching it carefully. The breads were wonderful, kind of in an odd spot on the buffet line but there was a lot of different items to choose from. The opposite side of the cafeteria was ethnic food, pizza and deli items. I enjoyed the garlic pasta served from a special Italian table. Desserts were beautiful and many different kinds of cakes, pies, jello, etc. Some of them were Italian style which made them different than we are used to. The pizza was great....my son is still raving about it. The salad bar was fresh and as complete as most salad bars. The entertainment around the ship was great. There was music everywhere at night. The string trio in the main lobby and the small gigs in the lounges made the nights very enjoyable. The theater is beautiful and designed so that everyone can see. The shows were WONDERFUL. We enjoyed all of them and did not mind the different languages that had to be used to introduce the show. We were so jealous of those that can speak so many languages. I know I have more to write, but these are the main highlights. When asked if I would o on this ship again.....no doubt about it. We enjoyed it. My son and his friend age 23 had a ball. The "Shiprock" activities that were going on while we were there did not bother us. It added for more interesting people watching. It is different from the other lines that we are used to but we loved it. In Costa Maya, short taxi ride to the small village and the beach is all we needed to have a perfect day. This is a beautiful port. In Cozumel, we shopped until we dropped! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Remember the end of the 1985 movie Cocoon when all the rejuvenated elderly folks went with the aliens to their world where people never get ill, age or die? Well, they're back with a vengeance and I think I know where -â€" ... Read More
Remember the end of the 1985 movie Cocoon when all the rejuvenated elderly folks went with the aliens to their world where people never get ill, age or die? Well, they're back with a vengeance and I think I know where -â€" Royal Caribbean's cruise ship, The Navigator of the Seas. It all started with an innocuous email in my inbox way back in April -â€" an announcement that Royal Caribbean had made a sudden decision to reposition one of its ships (originally meant to winter in and around Dubai) from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean. This meant an entirely empty ship desperate for passengers with prices to match. Sitting there in my office, swamped with work, the prospect of quitting my job to travel the world looming large -â€" suddenly the idea of spending days on end doing nothing but staring at the big blue sea, without a care in the world while traversing the Atlantic, book in one hand, a shrimp cocktail in the other, was wildly intoxicating. And since I would already be in the general vicinity at the time of sailing, the rock bottom pricing was impossible to refuse. For those who have never cruised before, a cruise vacation is somewhat like having a floating hotel, ferrying you to various ports-of-call to enjoy during the day, while filling up your nights with gourmet meals and slightly cheesy entertainment. In some ways, the ship is even a destination in itself with shops, bars, casinos, specialty restaurants and in the case of the Navigator, a rock climbing wall and an ice rink. So it was that I found myself boarding the ship in Rome along with about 3,000 other cruisers, with stops in Livorno (Italy), Provence (France), Barcelona and the seaside town of Cartegena (Spain) and the archipelago islands of the Azores (Portugal). Days were spent taking excursions to Pisa (the tower was much prettier and whiter than I had imagined. Warning: Shameful confession ahead... This was one stop where I did the tourist thing I usually despise and took the requisite picture of me propping the tower up. Sad, I know, but how can you not, right?), Florence (a shopper's paradise with high end artisan shops specializing in the most beautiful leather and paper products), San Gimignano (a medieval walled Tuscan town famed for its soaring towers), Aix-en-Provence (birthplace of Paul Cezanne, home to a delightful farmer's market) and Marseille with its picturesque old harbor... The sailing reached an exciting climax early on when we found ourselves in the middle of a weather phenomenon known as a medicane, a Mediterranean hurricane, with sustained winds in excess of 90 mph, forcing the ship to stay in port for an extra day in France and foregoing the stop in Portugal. The ship rocked back and forth so much that passengers looked like people badly failing a drunk driving test trying to walk in a straight line... Something else I was apprehensive about was what to do on those 9 long days at sea. Turns out I shouldn't have worried as every day was a race from one activity to another, including highly competitive trivia three times a day ("What is the literary collective noun for a group of owls?") fighting tooth and nail for cheap Royal Caribbean promotional umbrellas and caps (if bought in the gift shop = useless junk. However, same items won in a trivia game? priceless heirlooms), crew vs. guest volleyball and line dancing by the pool deck. You haven't lived until you've seen 60 seniors doing the Electric Slide... Aaaaaaand grapevine! From my very unscientific data gathering, the typical transatlantic cruiser would seem to be comfortably retired, about 68 years old and possessing a propensity towards enormous buffets. It doesn't help that there's in essence a buffet 3 times a day, with options of ordering however much you want from a menu in the dining room ("Actually, I WILL have three appetizers, thank you for asking!") to a casual buffet restaurant with at least 50-60 meal options, from miso soup to roast turkey to pizza and burgers and everything in between. Free food + non-stop food = an average weight gain of 2lbs per day (lunch literally starts half an hour after breakfast finishes, meaning it was physically impossible to feel any type of hunger for two solid weeks). The first few days, I found myself running around wanting to try everything (and feeling faint afterwards. Fried hashbrowns AND sauteed potatoes for breakfast? I'm talking Sophie's Choice here). Sure, there are "healthy" options of salmon, grilled chicken breast, steamed vegetables, etc., but where's the fun in that? I was finally home! I had found... "my people". All kidding aside, I found myself bonding with really nice people over trivia (shout out to teammates Efren and Maria!), the odd Scrabble game in the card room overrun by old Chinese ladies playing Mahjong much to the chagrin of the Balderdash / cribbage players ("They really need to have a separate room for those noisy games!") and really long dinners. The dining room table dynamic on a cruise ship is a strange one. Put ten people from differing socio-economic classes together every night for at least an hour and a half for 14 dinners (if you're counting, that's 21 hours of conversation...) and mundane dialogue centering on past cruising experiences imperceptibly move on to deep dark family secrets, youthful indiscretions and embarrassing stories. Perhaps it's the thought that you'll never see these people ever again? Or the camaraderie that comes from being on the same vessel in the middle of the ocean? In any case, scintillating... Evenings were filled with shows ranging from the ship's own singers and dancers to specialty acts brought on at various ports to perform magic, hypnosis, comedy, acrobatics, Motown, piano playing and more. While cruise ship entertainment leans towards the cheesy (hence all the Simon Cowell references), I found the few shows I did go to mildly-to-rather entertaining. There were even ice skaters admirably performing jumps and spins in the small but very popular ice rink onboard. If you've ever exclaimed, "I wish there were more hours in a day!", then a transatlantic cruise is for you. To make up the time difference, an extra hour is added on select sea days, meaning you could go to that 11pm karaoke competition or poolside buffet under the stars and still get your beauty rest. Overall, the cruise was a great chance to decompress, do nothing & everything and travel in style back to North America. Oh, and by the way, a group of owls is a "parliament". Just send me a Royal Caribbean key chain when you end up winning the trivia... Travel tips: (1) I first heard of this deal through Travel Zoo, a great weekly e-newsletter that scours thousands of deals to produce a list of the Top 20 travel values of the week. While you may rarely be able to take advantage of the deals, it's worth signing up because you never know when something might come along. Besides, it's fun to see what kind of deals are out there. Before seeing the email, taking a cruise wasn't even on my radar. But I'm glad I did. I ended up paying a base fare of $499 (for a total of $890 including a single supplement and all taxes). I also got $100 shipboard credit which I applied towards the gratuities and a $60 dinner for two in one of the ship's specialty restaurants. All said and done, the cruise averaged just slightly over $60 / day for accommodation, all meals and entertainment onboard. I also used 20,000 fewer frequent flyer miles for my around-the-world ticket which made the deal too good to pass up. (2) I found Cruise Critic's roll call a really helpful resource. This particular group was forum-happy, creating a total of 3,400+ posts, of which only about 1 in 20 were relatively useful. The rest was evenly divided between non-cruise items such as the weather where they lived, relating makeups and breakups, medical conditions and past sailings with arranging cabin viewings, gift exchanges, slot pulls and trivia groups. However, it was great for finding people to fill a group for privately arranged tours. The tours I went on in Italy and France were both arranged by motivated people on the cruisecritic forum and turned out to be cheaper / better organized / more efficient than the ship's tours. (3) There were three specialty restaurants on board. Portofino ($20 surcharge), a great Italian restaurant, serving up a delicious giant shrimp risotto, succulent seafood skewer of scallops, shrimp, lobster with a raspberry tiramisu served with a shot glass of heavenly kahlua topped with cream. I also had Johnny Rockets (old-fashioned diner food, $4.95 surcharge which includes gratuities but not drinks) one afternoon, ostensibly for a snack. However, bottomless onion rings / fries, classic hamburger with all the fixings, and chicken tenders, turned out to be a lot of food! Don't forget to indulge in the chocolate sundae afterwards. (4) Getting to the cruise terminal in Civitavecchia was very easy to do on your own. Tickets can be bought on the day of travel at Termini via vending machine. My advice would be to pay the extra 2.50 euros and go with a first class ticket. Seats are plusher and there is room to keep your luggage with you, as opposed to fighting for a seat in 2nd class. Just note that Italian trains are notoriously late, so leave yourself plenty of time. When arriving in Civitavecchia, you'll need to schlep your luggage down and up one flight of stairs and walk about 7 minutes to the entrance of the port where a dedicated shuttle bus takes you the rest of the way to the ship. (5) Barcelona is eminently easy to do on your own. Forego the ship's $10 transfer and take the blue city bus all the way to La Rambla. The subway system is very easy to use, taking you to almost all the major stops at only 6.20 euro for the day. If you haven't been there, arrange to get to the Sagrada Familia in the afternoon when the around-the-block lines die down. You won't regret the relatively steep entrance fee to see this one of a kind building that's everything a cathedral isn't supposed to be. Did you enjoy this review? If so, check out my travel blog as I travel around the world, passing along helpful tips along the way. www.dreamtravelblog.wordpress.com Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2011
We are a couple in our mid fifties on our third only cruise, the first two being on the Costa Deliziosa and the Queen Mary. We choose a cruise mainly on its itinerary and secondly on the quality of the boat. This 16 night cruise through ... Read More
We are a couple in our mid fifties on our third only cruise, the first two being on the Costa Deliziosa and the Queen Mary. We choose a cruise mainly on its itinerary and secondly on the quality of the boat. This 16 night cruise through Asia on the Diamond Princess more than satisfied both of our criteria - it was a very good mix of rest and relaxation on a beautiful boat, together with the opportunity to experience short bursts of Asian culture whilst in the various ports. Embarkation - As instructed by Princess, we were to check in at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre (staggered times between 12noon and 3pm depending on one's stateroom - luckily ours was at 12)and then we were bussed to the Port which was about 30min away. A different experience to walking directly onto the ship, but the process was handled relatively efficiently. Dining - Lots and lots of choice here!! We found the service in all outlets to be exceptional, as was the quality of food. Of course the food in the serviced dining rooms was a notch or two above the buffet but for buffet food, we had no complaints. We prefer the relaxed pace of eating in the main Dining room compared to the Horizon Court, so whenever possible we ate there as our first choice. For breakfast and lunch, the International Dining Room is Open seating so you can either choose to eat on your own or share a table with others. At all times, we were accommodated at which ever table type we requested, however there didn't appear to be any 'Tables for 2' so if you wanted to eat on your own, they usually sat you at a table for 4 and cleared the other two places. We choose Late Traditional Dining (8:15), again in the International Dining Room, and shared the same table for six each night and received excellent service from our two waiters. We did request if it was possible to try one of the Anytime Dining rooms one night and they said yes, that was fine, so we had one night in the Santa Fe - we found the tables for two to be very close together, the service to be rushed and overall, the experience was not as enjoyable. We know lots of people who do prefer this type of dining, but for us, we prefer the traditional dining. It appeared that you could make reservations at the Anytime Dining rooms on this particular cruise. The Horizon Court had plenty of selection - particularly loved the premade salads and the make your own version. Lemonade, iced tea, water, tea and coffee where complimentary - also juice at breakfast. We ate here for a few breakfasts and a few lunches and were never disappointed with the food. At times it got noisy and sometimes busy but we discovered that the further back you went to find a table, the less hectic it was. Pub lunch was served in the Savoy on sea days but we found the menu to be very limited and not to our personal taste - fish and chips, ploughmans lunch, bangers and mash, ..We tried it once but never returned. We enjoyed a few slices of pizza now and again from the Pizzeria that was open from 11 -11. We did not feel the need to indulge in a meal at either of the specialty restaurants - the food, service and company of our usual arrangements were already delightful. There was a $20 per person surcharge at these restaurants and we noticed that they were not usually full,however, people that we spoke to that had visited these venues had been happy. I had room service breakfast once - menu was continental, also had an egg muffin. As a passionate espresso coffee drinker, and wishing to limit my food intake, I spent many mornings just purchasing a cappucino from the lobby bar, and together with a few complimentary mini muffins, relaxed on a promenade deck chair reading and watching the more energic walkers pass by. By the way, the promenade goes all the way around, mostly on Deck 7 but a bit on Deck 8 at the front. Think by memory it said 2 and 1/2 laps = 1 mile. For me it was about 800 steps per lap. Activities- seemed to be more than enough to satisty any taste! As I look through my Patter from one sea day, here are some of the activities that were on offer - early morning aerobics, yoga, sudoko and puzzles, book club meeting, stitch and chat, bridge lecture/games, tap dancing lessons, free swings at the golf simulator, mahjong, several movies at both MUTS and the indoor theatre, casino gaming lessons, several trivia sessions, enrichment lecture, health seminars, scavenger hunt, boat building challenge, art auction, zumba, blackjack tournament, martini demonstration, craft lessons, board games, poolside music, ballroom dance lessons, jewellery sales, musical melodies, afternoon tea, bingo, spin classes, ...not to mention, many many places to just read a book, listen to some music, lay out by the numerous pools, walk around the promenade, go to the spa, casino..etc, etc.. Evening entertainment - Again, lots of choice. We found the production shows and the specialty entertainers all very good. Music wise, whilst there seemed to be alot of venues offering some sort of music, we found that with the exception of Maurizio, the very effervescent pianist, who usually started around 8pm, there was not alot of atmosphere predinner. We wished there had been at least one upbeat predinner drinks/live dance music venue. That said, there were places that you could listen to more sedate predinner music if that is your preference. We did not ever stay up late enough to partake in the disco in Skywalkers upstairs. Because we had the late dinner sitting, we found that our evening schedule usually consisted of a 6pm entertainment show in Explorers(if offered), followed by drinks in one of the bars (usually Crooners), dinner, then the 10;15 ish show in the theatre. Each night, times, venues and shows varied- just had to pay attention to the daily patter! Sometimes, there was repeats of shows. On some nights we also enjoyed watching the guest Princess Talent Quest show or the karaoke. Room - Having booked a guaranteed inside, we were very happy to have received two upgrades, eventually landing in a oceanview room on emerald deck. It had a window but looked out onto the promenade, before the sea! As it was, it was perfectly fine, despite having people walking past the window, there were no privacy issues due to the glazed window and sheer curtains. At night, when our lights went on, we simply pulled the full curtain. There was plenty of storage/hanging space and the bathroom, albeit small, was perfectly adequate. Room cleaned twice a day, with chocolates on turn down. There was also a facility to have fresh fruit put in your room on a daily basis - a nice touch. Facilities - Pool areas - one nice quiet area at the back on two or three levels with 2 small pools and 2 jacuzzis. We loved this area watching the wake of the ship and on port days we always had a drink at the outdoor bar while the ship was pulling away from the port. There were two larger pool areas midship, one indoor with a few jacuzzis,loungers and table area, and one outdoor with the MUTS and plenty of deck chairs both on two levels. Also, a pool area near the spa/sanctuary which whenever I passed never looked busy.. Again, lots of choice depending on your mood and the weather.... Gym - by memory there were about 8 treadmills, 10 or so elliptical machines, but only 2 stationary bikes. Lots of weight machines and free weights. We tried to get to the gym each sea day to work off some of those excess calories! Towels antibacterial wipes and water were provided - take your own water bottle though. Fitness classes - We did not partake in any of these but there were some free ones (tended to be the stretching or ABS, fitball) and some which had a fee attached (Spin, pilates,yoga) $12 on our cruise. Noticed there was also several free zumba sessions held in the Fusion Bar - think these were on the sea days only. Spa - didn't use any paid services but looked lovely. There is a steam room and sauna which are complimentary. Also there is a thermal suite. Looking at my patter, the cost for single, unlimited 16 day pass was $199, for unlimited Sea Days only pass $119. The Sanctuary - We didn't feel we needed to use this as there was lots of other places to relax. On this cruise, it didn't appear to be heavily used. The cost was $10 per half day and $20 full day. Public rooms - Loved, loved loved all the space - there never seemed to be a crowd in the public areas. There was a plethora of places in which to just sit, read, talk or play a quiet game. The outdoor lounge chairs on the promenade deck were very peaceful too. Library - Seemed to be a reasonable selection of books - always open for several hours per day, puzzles and sudoku given out each morning, games for loan, some computers in library, but only a few reading chairs. Internet Cafe - we didn't use. We decided to take our own laptop and tried to source internet availability in each port. ( some successful, some not) Itinerary and ports - We fortunately were fully aware of the fact that the Diamond, being a large ship, was required to dock some way away from some of the major cities, requiring shuttle services. Because of this awareness, we were not disappointed, just knew to expect that our interaction time in each port was going to be reduced. Overall, we enjoyed all of the ports - we did our own thing in each port, making use of the shuttle services and in Phu MY we did use the Princess Excursion entitled - Ho Chi Minh on your own, so as to ensure we were back on ship in time! In Laem Chabang, we used the shuttle into Pattaya, in Nha Trang we used the shuttle into the market area, in Hong Kong we used the provided shuttle into Kowloon, in Shanghai we used the shuttle into the Silk place, in Nagasaki the port was right in town, and in Busan we used the shuttle into the city. I can see that some may prefer to take a ship that docks more centrally, but for us, the experience matched our expectations. there was one tender port in Nha Trang but organization was done well - after breakfast, we went to the Explorers Lounge to get a ticket number and within 15 minutes or so, were called. I will do more complete port reviews in the relevant area. We have been to some parts of Asia many times, but for first timers to some of these countries, this cruise is a nice way to 'taste' the Asian experience, albeit at times, rushed. Busan was particularly rushed as we only had a few hours there. Each day, prior to a port, a port lecture was given which we found to be very worthwhile and informative. These lectures were repeated on the TV in your room if you missed the actual lecture. Of course there were always several organised Princess excursions and I would imagine that for many people these offer the advantage of ease and ability to see many sights within a short period of time. We just prefer to do our own thing. Service was always friendly and efficient. It was lovely to be addressed by our names from those staff members who knew us and our drink/food preferences to be remembered by those in the bar and restaurant. I have my bill infront of me - here are a few prices Daily gratuity charge per person $11.50 Regular capucino - $2.50 + 15% Beer $4.95 + 15% Single serve champagne bottle $7.25 +15% Champagne cocktail $7.25 + 15% Glass house white wine $6.25 + 15% Bottle house white chardonnay $24.95 + 15% 1 photo (10 x 8) $19.99 Disembarkation - A few days prior to finishing, we were given a form on which to indicate our chosen departure time. We were allocated our time of preference and were off the ship within minutes of this and picking up our luggage. Very efficient. We had arranged independent transfers into Beijing. For us, this cruise suited our needs and wants beautifully as it was a perfect combination of relaxation, socialising and sightseeing. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We are in are early 50's and have been on six cruises, twice to Alaska and 3 times on Celebrity to the Caribbean. When this ship was announced out of Cape Liberty we were thrilled to avoid the tedious process of flying since this is a ... Read More
We are in are early 50's and have been on six cruises, twice to Alaska and 3 times on Celebrity to the Caribbean. When this ship was announced out of Cape Liberty we were thrilled to avoid the tedious process of flying since this is a local port for us. Embarkation was a breeze and the cabin were ready when we got to the ship at about 1PM. The cabins are improved from prior Celebrity classes, more room in the Shower and more storage in the stateroom. As everything was new, everything worked properly. However as reported Celebrity will rue the day they selected the facets for the bathroom sinks since the style of short flow pipe looks great, but does require the user to work to avoid spilling water. My guess is that few will and Celebrity will have thousands of water damaged cabins to show for that decision. Similarly, Celebrity should rue the day they decided to remove most of the round tables in their main dining area and use square two and four seaters. The result is virtually no separation between any of the tables. Thus a table for two becomes a table for 10. The wait staff cannot even negotiate the small gaps to provide service. My guess is that Celebrity increase the ship passenger count but not the size of the dining room enough. This destroys the notion of privacy and does not allow for intimate conversation. The din from the other guests requires you to speak up to be heard which guarantees no such thing as a private conversation.The staffing of the main dining room also is a problem, they handle 20 passengers and cannot do so with any personalize service. Thus if you order something and don't like it, you have no means to return since your waiter doesn't have the time to check in with you. Overall the food was good, but not great. Again, food review is subjective and I would say it was above casual dining grade but well below fine ding grade, and again the problem was service. You simply had no means to exchange unless you did not mind eating your main course while your party had dessert. This ship's entertainment was so-so. The singers and dancers were good, but not featured often enough. The attempt to put on an acrobatic show ala a Cirque Du Soleil show fell well short. Similarly outside of the group in the main foyer, entertainment was slim. This ship itself was grand, very clean and all the public areas were pristine.Stateroom service was good and the cabins remained spotless throughout the cruise. Interactive and phone in room service was prompt and accurate. One of the problems with this sailing which was not the fault of the cruise line was the high percentage of "scooter passengers" These folks literally took up the available corridor space with the bulk. Moreover they acted as if their actions had no affect on others. Maybe the cruise line has a responsibility to limit the number of "scooter people" so as to not disaffect those who are not handicapped. The upside was that there was never a wait in the fitness center in getting a treadmill (for the most part). Two areas of problems at all resorts and cruise ship are those that "reserve" deck chairs by the pool and those that walk on the treadmills for more than 30 minutes. Both events disaffect other guests. In all cases staff does nothing to police the practice and thus puts guests in the unenviable position of having to deal with the problem. One wishes that the cruise ship staff would be as forthright in addressing this issue as they are in trying to sell shore excursions or Spa treatments. The final judgment that we use as our overall assessment is "would we do this again?". In this case the answer is "yes" but only for a good price. Celebrity has succumbed to the notion that more quantity of lower graded food, service and shows is better than small portions are great food, service and shows. One wonder what distinguishes them from lower graded lines such as Norwegian and Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
My husband and I flew into Sydney airport from Melbourne and how easy it was to jump on the train and head for Circular Quay Station, 20 minutes later and we were there. Getting off the train but while still on the station we were greeted ... Read More
My husband and I flew into Sydney airport from Melbourne and how easy it was to jump on the train and head for Circular Quay Station, 20 minutes later and we were there. Getting off the train but while still on the station we were greeted by the wonderful sight of Rhapsody of the Seas sitting at her mooring in beautiful Sydney harbour emcompassed by the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. We decided to first walk to the opposite side of Sydney Cove and take pictures of ROTS as she looked so amazingly clean and sparkling white. There were workers in a dinghy giving the side her paint work a bit of a spruce and window cleaners suspended by ropes freshening up some of the glasswork. (I had wondered if RCI wouldn't put much effort into this cruise overall as it was only a 3 dayer, but I find this was totally unjustified.) We got some great photos, then it was on to embarkation. Looking up the side of Rhapsody as we got up close and personal with her was just breathtaking. Embarkation went pretty smoothly, it took approximately 1 hour from dropping off our bags at the luggage site to boarding the ship. This was a little longer than I expected but the time went quickly as staff directed passengers and held you in conversation while those in front were registered. We went straight to our cabin to see the view from our balcony, which we had some luck with as we had been offered the disabilities cabin. 7032 is nearly twice as big as surrounding balcony cabins and so is its balcony and ensuite. We were on the port side and so there was a great view of the Opera House, we opened the champagne and ate the choc covered strawberries we had ordered while watching the ferries going in and out of the Quay. What a great start! Alex, our steward kept our room spotless during our stay, there wasn't a time we came back to the room and it wasn't clean and freshened. He was extremely friendly, greeted us by name and was always happy to stop for a chat and to help out immediately when we needed something. Maybe it didn't hurt that we gave him a tip when we first met him, during the cruise and at the end. Make them happy and I think they will make your trip amazing. When we pulled out of the mooring at 10pm we went to the stern to watch Rhapsody back in towards the Harbour Bridge then we went forward and just absorbed the wonder of passing the city at night with all the lights and reflections bouncing off the water. The buzz in the atmosphere was electric and there was a band playing and some people dancing around the pool area. Later we went back to our cabin and watched the pilot jump back onto his boat and head back into shore. Leaving Sydney and coming back in on the final morning were highlights for us. Now for the cruise itself. I enjoyed the food in the main dinning room immensely. Some of it was very, very good and some a bit average but even the average meals were cooked well and tasty. Windjammers buffet had just about everything to suit all appetites, from diet to full on fatty, fried foods, I couldn't see how anyone could complain about the food on ROTS unless you just made the wrong choices. Windjammers at breakfast time could be a bit difficult to find a seat. RCI had sat 10 of us together for our dinner seating in the MDR and it was obvious they had taken time to organize similar ages and experience of cruising as most of those at the table were first time cruises. Excellent work! We all got on very well. Also, we had oringinally been assigned the 8:30pm seating and had requested the 6:30pm seating on our booking paperwork, we got it! Our waitress was so obliging, she remembered all our names and always had a smile on her face, her personality was just right, not over the top or pushy nor forgetful or unaccommodating. The activities were just a little bit limited for us. We don't play Bingo and don't bother much with lying around the pool as we have a pool at home but we did enjoy the trivia and the dance lessons. We went to the casino on 2 nights just for a few minutes mostly to pass some time. We had organised to meet some people through the Cruise Critic boards for a pre-dinner cocktail on the first night and enjoyed this so much that we all met each night at a different bar at 4:30, this was so much fun, made some good friends. I also realised that if we were on a cruise that was stopping at ports then the need to find activities all day long wouldn't be as necessary. Anna our cruise director certainly had the right personality for her job, very perky. I enjoyed the shows, and was quite surprised by the dancing especially on the first night, I taught dancing for many years and was aware of the complexity of the choreography and also amazed by the balance needed by the dancers on a rocking ship, even if it was ever so slight. The male dancer with the long hair, have I seen him before? He looked like a guy in the jazz class in the movie "Centre Stage". Maybe. A couple of great things happened that RCI didn't organise, on our first morning we watched Dolphins with their babies swimming below our balcony, and later in the day when we were up on the pool deck a Fighter plane from Williamstown army base did several fly overs of the ship and put on a bit of an acrobatic show for us, the sky was clear and sunny and the loud sound of the fighter was exciting as it buzzed us. You couldn't have planned a better day! We set our alarm to wake at 5:15am on the last morning and woke to the sun rising over the ocean and a beautiful view of our ship slipping in through North and South Heads. MAGIC! Disembarkation was a dream, I don't think it could have been managed better. It took all of 10 minutes to the leave the ship and start our trip home. Our bags were waiting for us and very easy to find. Would we go again on another cruise after this one?? Hmmm let me think.... I've already booked 2 more and have at least another planned. Royal Carribean have created 2 more cruise fanatics, well done! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2011
The Magic's inaugural cruise started with much fanfare on Sunday as my family listened to Maroon Five from our window at the Harbor House in Galveston. The next day my 11-year-old Platinum Cruiser was the first Galveston passenger on ... Read More
The Magic's inaugural cruise started with much fanfare on Sunday as my family listened to Maroon Five from our window at the Harbor House in Galveston. The next day my 11-year-old Platinum Cruiser was the first Galveston passenger on board sometime after 11:00am. At this point, our vacation had begun. It took a couple of days to learn the ship but as each day passed, we could make our way with ease. The food was awesome! We did have a bit of excitement in the Southern Lights Dining room on Tuesday eve. A waiter whacked the Maitre'd with a big stir stick and was held in a neck-lock until he could be carted off. This was not Carnival's fault and dinner went on. My family enjoyed every meal and we enjoyed the staff. Escargot was delicious. I know a few posted that the portions were too small. Just order extra if you think you can eat it. We enjoyed the Oceanside BarBQ. I recommend the "Topless Burgers." I would ask all fellow cruisers to have your mind made up on what you want to order. I had one guy spend what seemed to be 10 minutes deciding what he wanted on his omelet. Had he decided on this while he was in line would have made things move faster for the rest. Just a tip J The water slides were fun and we enjoyed the Sky Course. There was something to do at all time but I enjoyed my deck time with a Ginger Ale. The staff was friendly and most all the guest were great. We heard rumors on deck that there may be some prop issues with the Magic and On Monday eve after dinner we received a notice that the stern thrusters were in need of repair and would require a change of port. This had never happened to me before and my family had already fell in love with the ship so we didn't care where it went we just wanted to be on it. I know a few folks felt as if the world ended but Carnival handled it as good as anyone in the business. They didn't dump us off at a port for us to find our way home, they didn't cancel the cruise causing us working stiffs to have to asked for days off in the future, and they even gave us $25 per person. We got to intimidate the Elation as the Magic dwarfed her in Progresso. We went to Progresso on Wednesday and on Thursday enjoyed the ship. I don't think any cruise line can help when mechanical problems arise but we were pleased at how this was handled. The staterooms were excellent. I love the two bathrooms. One morning we were without hot water so I started with the feet and worked up. It was quite chilly. By noon we had hot water. I know there were a few who needed Prozac after this but we know that things happen and we got a call from the ship telling us the water would be back on. IT WAS NO BIG DEAL!!!!!! The Negative: Having to get off the ship! Overall the cruse was a 10+. I liked it so much we booked another Magic cruise (8 day) on December 18. I recommend this ship to all who like to cruise. All uptight folks should stay at home! So the answer to the question "Is there Magic on the Magic. It is not magic but a Cruise Line who knows how to make a cruise the best vacation of your life! I thank the Lord for allowing my family to cruise and for His salvation. God Bless Israel and Carnival. ez Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
we embarked on our cruise on 30th October 2011 from Southampton, the embarkation procedure took quite a long time but I guess we just arrived at a busy time, we had flown down to Gatwick and were met by a rep who showed us to a mini bus ... Read More
we embarked on our cruise on 30th October 2011 from Southampton, the embarkation procedure took quite a long time but I guess we just arrived at a busy time, we had flown down to Gatwick and were met by a rep who showed us to a mini bus and taken to the ship, our luggage was taken to the cabin. Once on board we found our way to the cabin, excellent, could not fault anything our cabin boy was Martin who quickly found us and explained who he was and if we needed anything he was there. The ship is absolutely first class, spotless in all areas, cannot find fault with anything even the glass lifts (elevators) not a finger print anywhere. You could always find a comfortable place to sit. The weather was not so good and the captain had to change course, we were kept informed at all times. we did not get to the Azores but better to be safe than sorry, we did however visit Gijon in Northern Spain a very pretty town and La Coruna which was within walking distance off the ship.We did not do any organised trips just made our own way to the towns and wandered around. We opted for first sitting in the Moonlight Sonata restauant and shared our table with 4 very nice friendly Americans, the ship was 90% American people who we found to be extremely nice. The food was always excellent a good choice avaliable and if you wanted something not on the menu (as one by us did) they were always accomodated. The waiters were great very friendly and efficient at all times. The wine waiter very good and kept the glasses filled up, we were on the premium package which made a big difference to us in that we could have almost any priced wines. The entertainment was first class and we always managed to find suitable seats with a good view in the theatre. The daytime activities were plentiful, my husband attende the lectures and thouroughly enjoyed them very interesting and informative. I attended the cookery demonstrations they were great fun especially the chef from Hungary, hilarious, you could not be bored on this ship. As we went further west the weather improved and we were able to sit outside on the decks, again spotless and plenty of space. The range of food available was tremendous the mast grill doing burgers and hot dogs was busy but really good. The Ocean view cafe was always busy and the only trouble was finding a space and keeping it so we usually went up for our food seperatly a bind at times but ok. The ice cream counter was usually 15 deep but worth waitng for ( the Americans really loved the ice cream. When we came to disembark we had to place our luggage outside the room the night before and we were given a time and place to go to our time was 9.00am, but as we were going to America I think the port authorities obviously do more checks as the crew had to go though a drill and this then held up our disembarkation, we were lucky in that we gor called off at 10.15am our luggage was waiting for us and we sailed through the US checks, outside the port we were shown to the bus and more or less taken to our hotel and arrived by 11.15am. I cannot recommend Celebrity X highly enough especially Eclipse Crew and Officers. Read Less

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