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10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
MSC Fantasia Xmas Cruise 2016 We joined the cruise on Christmas Day, arriving at about 0800 from Abu Dhabi airport. When we got to check in at the port we handed over our tickets and credit card so that in a few minutes we got a bit of ... Read More
MSC Fantasia Xmas Cruise 2016 We joined the cruise on Christmas Day, arriving at about 0800 from Abu Dhabi airport. When we got to check in at the port we handed over our tickets and credit card so that in a few minutes we got a bit of paper to say we gone through this process. I thought that this would be it but noted we did not have our cruise cards. Normally this is a one stop shop and you proceed to the ship. Not so with MSC. Our next stop was the obligatory photo before we could get to the gangway. Clearly the revenue opportunity could not be missed and so there was no route around this point and a “No” was not the password to proceed. There were a number of check in desks but only the one photographer so this caused a bit of a bottle neck. NOT WELL ORGANISED After this we proceeded to another desk to have our cruise cards issued. This meant we could now go on board to have our photographs taken again by the security team. However, we could not use these cruise cards for anything until they had been activated. Luckily, MSC have placed two activation devices on board, to which all new passengers would have to go. Once at the activation device it appeared that some passengers were having trouble understanding how to use them and this also caused a bit of a queue. Finally, we were ready to enjoy our cruise, however, our cabin would not be ready until 11:30 (from crew member number 1) but then it would be 12:30 (from crew member number 2) and finally 13:30 (from an announcement). So only 5 hours to wait before we could see our cabin. Still we could sit outside in the hot sunshine with our English winter clothes until then. The buffet was open and so we could get some food and drink (provided you had activated your card). Upon investigation, I found our cabin was ready at 12:00 and we were free to use it, thanks to the cabin steward. However, no baggage had arrived. We waited until 15:30 (7 hours after boarding) and still we had luggage missing. So, I went to see the person responsible, a nice chap from housekeeping who had been dealing with a line of other passengers with the same questions. I was informed that the problem was shore side with the port authority bag screening section and it was out of the control of the ship. I asked the nice man (nicely) to take me to the quayside so that he could show me where the problem was. Obviously, I was expecting to see piles of baggage awaiting to go on board. On the way ashore I was informed that the ship always experiences this problem as the shore staff have to pray 5 times per day and as a result they stop work on a regular basis. However, to my great delight, we bumped into the supervisor who confirmed all baggage was actually on board and had been for some time. It would appear therefore the vessel did have some control over the distribution of the baggage. Our bags arrived about an hour later. Looking at the gangway being used for baggage it would seem that first on meant last to go our as more and more bags were piled up. NOT WELL ORGANISED Having undertaken a great number of cruises and work in the ship safety team for a number of years I was delighted to see that there would be a drill for those passengers joining that day. This drill would be at approximately 20:30 but no fixed time was given. Being so conscientious, we duly followed the instructions on the back of our cabin door and as mentioned on the TV, taking our life jackets (not wearing them) to our assembly point. We arrived at 20:25 ish to an empty assembly point with no crew around, we had not seen anyone on the stairs either. So we awaited and at about 20:32 along came one crew member with a jacket saying “Assembly Point Crew” (or something similar). He had a hand held scanning device to scan our cruise cards and proceeded to do so for the dozen or so people that were there. I did note, that two passengers left the assembly point when their cards were scanned and the crew member had his back to them. More crew members turned up after an announcement from the Bridge stating “For exercise” the rest of the message was drowned out by the cacophony coming from the passengers, crew and announcements in 4 or 5 languages. One English passenger took a handful of cards to have them scanned but was refused as the crew member could not see the other passengers and that they had their life jackets, Hooray. So, one of the group went off and acquired the life jackets. These jackets must have been quite a fashion item in the opinion of some passengers as the ships photographer was summoned to take photo during the drill. Not something I have seen before and not sure it added to the seriousness of the process. But then with so many passengers all talking at the same time it was difficult to hear any instructions. Announcements were made from the Bridge but it was impossible to understand what these were. No one was in control of this assembly point, the passengers were taking no notice and most had their life jackets on (not all correctly) before they sat down. The announcements were in at least four languages and it became difficult to determine what was being said. It left me with no confidence that in the event of a real emergency there would be any organisational processes to control the passengers and ensure their safety. NOT WELL ORGANISED Luckily as soon as the drill was finished it was time for dinner. We had the same table for the whole cruise and so got to know our waiter. This allowed us to make light of him getting my order wrong on three separate evenings and another in our group twice (5 out of seven evenings wrong). We were seated near to the waiter’s station but luckily when the trays were dropped and cutlery went flying it did not cause and lasting damage to my person. MSC have a recommended dress code and this is demonstrated in the daily paper. So, I was somewhat surprised to see one passenger come into the dining room and sit down with an entire table evening dress whilst he was in shorts and tee short complete with baseball cap. He kept the cap on for the entire meal. It is fair to say his whole ensemble was matching Red Bull. Pity it did not give him wings. NOT WELL ORGANISED It was nice on occasion to sit out on deck getting some sunshine. There were mornings when certain areas had been close off for maintenance, this is nothing unusual. However, on one particular day we chose to sit in an area that offered the best sun, taking our positions at about 09:30. At 12:00 the deck crew arrived to inform all the passengers in this area that they must move. So about 40 passengers had to pack up their things and then try to find other sunbeds elsewhere. Needless to say, there were few sunbeds to be had by this time and a lot of sense of humour failure, from my wife in particular. It appears that some maintenance needed to be undertaken and so the deck needed to be clear. However, had the area been closed first thing, then it would have been accepted. I visited the reception desk to ask why this had happened. The nice man told me he had no idea but agreed it was not offering the best service. He took my cabin number as said he would send a message to the Staff Captain. I was to hear back from one of them later that day, surprisingly I did not get any message. Work commenced at about 13:30 and it was good to see some of the crew were wearing safety harnesses, albeit they were never attached to anything. I did take some photos of the in action for the record. NOT WELL ORGANISED Whilst enjoying some sunshine on deck, we decided it would be nice to have a drink, as you do. However, as we were on deck 15 forward of the Aqua Park, it appeared this area was devoid of serving personnel. So, I walked down a deck and aft of the Aqua Park to see if I could have some drinks delivered. When I arrived at the Bar Delle Fontane I was informed that I should be going to the I’Tropici Bar. Failing to do this would mean that the glasses migrated from one bar to the other. After a little discussion, the waitress agreed to come to our location and take the order. I did assure her that were the glasses came from and indeed what happened to them when we were finished was not something I was going to lose sleep over. NOT WELL ORGANISED All in all, the service was not as good as seen and expected on other cruise lines. The entertainment staff on the other hand were simply brilliant. But this was let down by the poor organisational skills and my concerns over the drill. I did watch a second drill in Dubai and noted similar issues with passengers out of control. It seems that in small number the crew are happy to move some from their sunbeds but when it comes to safety there could be another Costa Concordia waiting to happen. I have attached a few photos to show some of the other concerns I had on my Xmas cruise that could be dangerous to the health of the passengers. Having cruised with P&O, Cunard, RCI, Ocean Village, NCL, Princess and Seabourn. I have always expected there to be some sanitizing police at the entry to any food area. The hand sanitizers are vital to prevent the spread of Nora virus. Normally there is at least one crew member to prevent you getting access to the food area without using the gel. This is not the case with MSC. As you can see in the photo of the entrance to the buffet the machine is put to one side and there is no one ensuring it is used. Whilst sitting near the entrance I would suggest up to 90% of the passengers (and Crew) did not use the machine before getting into contact with food. On two occasions I did report the fact that the machine was not working but no action was taken. In addition, MSC seem to have the policy of preparing food such as hamburgers, hot dogs and fries well in advance. This is in another photo. However, I noted that this food is left for long periods and at no time did I see anyone measuring the temperature to ensure it was safe to eat. In fact I did try a burger and fries to find they were both warm and not hot but also very dry. Finally, I was surprised to see the way in which MSC advertise their drinks packages. Promoting irresponsible drinking to get the best value for your money. All good stuff. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We have cruised many times mainly with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean but this was our first time with MSC. We were lured by the concept of the Yacht Club so most of my review is based on this. Pre Cruise: We arrived at 1am so ... Read More
We have cruised many times mainly with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean but this was our first time with MSC. We were lured by the concept of the Yacht Club so most of my review is based on this. Pre Cruise: We arrived at 1am so spent the night at The Grand Excelsior hotel close to the airport which suited our needs for a comfortable stopover hotel at a reasonable price. Embarkation We travelled independently by taxi to the port in Dubai to embark the ship and quickly found the Yacht Club priority embarkation area where a butler was on duty to escort us to another area where our check in formalities were taken care of while we relaxed with refreshments, so far so good until were escorted by one of the butlers to embark the ship whereupon one of the ship's security staff got into a disagreement with the butler for bringing us to his gangway . It was all very uncomfortable and embarrassing and was not a good first impression. My husband did bring the debacle to the attention of the senior butler once we finally got on board and of course they were most apologetic and concerned to hear what happened so we put it behind us and looked forward to the cruise. Cabin: We finally made it to the enclave of the Yacht Club and our well appointed cabin, loved the walk in wardrobe and the marble bathroom, balcony a tad on the small side. Bed was very comfortable with memory foam mattress toppers and lovely pillows. Nice bathroom products, fluffy towels and bathrobes, all the luxuries you would expect. We had a lady butler and a “junior butler” which is a fancy name for cabin attendant! To be honest the junior butler was better, very attentive and pleasant to talk to. He previously worked for Royal Caribbean and it showed. Food and Drink: We were very impressed with the service in the Top Sail Lounge, all the staff in there were attentive and welcoming. The Afternoon Tea service was wonderful with traditional white gloved service and tablecloths , such a treat. The cocktail menu was extensive and we loved the Aperol spritz and the Italian wine selections You certainly do not go hungry as they have breakfast, lunch, snacks, evening canapés and sweet treats according to the time of day in the Top sail Lounge plus 24 hr room service, mini bar with snacks and drinks all included as well as the dedicated Yacht Club restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner . The One Pool bar served excellent cappuccinos as you would expect on an Italian ship but also the best cup of tea I have had at sea, proper tea pots and fresh milk in a jug which was a pleasant surprise and a welcome change to the usual plastic cartons and tea bags in cups that is often served outdoors! The One pool also had a lovely breakfast buffet and light lunch selections including freshly cooked pasta every day. This being a Christmas cruise the restaurant was very busy most evenings and sometimes the service was a little slow but on the whole it was very good. I enjoyed the Italian style menus with many courses and smaller portions, the cheese course was fantastic. Often we would skip dessert and have a night-cap and chocolates in the Top Sail lounge. Even though the ship was full there was never a problem getting a sun lounger on deck. Being a Christmas cruise there were lots of large family groups and the rest of the ship had a very lively atmosphere so we really didn’t spend much time away from the sanctuary on the Yacht Club areas however we did enjoy the White Party on deck on Christmas night and the main atrium with the Swarovski staircase looked lovely all decorated for Christmas. In fact the whole ship was spotlessly clean and well maintained. Spa I pre booked a spa package online which is something I have never done on previous cruises as the prices are frankly outrageous but the prices on MSC seemed fairly reasonable in comparison. The Aurea spa is well appointed and the staff are mainly Balinese. I very much enjoyed the massages I had there and they don’t give you the hard sell for products like other ships I have been on. Ports: We arrived in Abu Dhabi on Christmas day, after a leisurely morning on the ship we took a taxi to the Emirates Palace Hotel which is about a 20 min drive from the port where we indulged in their famous cappuccino with gold leaf sprinkles, very decadent, a wonderful treat for Christmas Day. The hotel was opulent and beautifully decorated for Christmas. We then took another taxi to the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque. This was absolutely spectacular and words and photos are not enough to describe the sheer beauty of this place. Everyone is welcome to visit and it’s free to enter but please take note of the dress code particularly for women as you need to be completely covered from head to toe in loose clothing. The mosque has guidelines on its website but they will provide an abaya if you don’t have the appropriate dress. We timed our visit to we could see it at sunset as well as in the daylight. It is truly stunning inside and out. The next port was scheduled to be the private island of Sir Bani Yas but we woke to thick fog and it was not safe to navigate, so we spent the day at sea. Fortunately the Captain managed to rearrange the itinerary so we could visit there later in the week. We were so glad not to miss this unique place. Again as Yacht Club guests we felt very pampered as we got priority tender service to the beach where a golf cart was waiting to whisk us to the Yacht Club section of the beach where one of our favourite butlers was waiting to bring us drinks and a buffet was set up. It was absolute paradise! We were also able to bypass the very long line for the tenders when we returned to the ship. I did feel a little self conscious as we were escorted to the front of the queue I must admit! After the re arranged sea day we docked in Manama, Bahrain where my husband took a ships excursion to the Bahrain Race circuit for a 4x4 driving experience which he enjoyed by all accounts. The port is not within walking distance to anything as it’s an industrial port but a shuttle bus was provided (for a fee). I did not go ashore but spent a blissful morning having a massage and then enjoyed the sun on the very tranquil One Pool deck having my every need catered for! Next port was Doha Qatar, again not walking distance to the town but I believe the shuttle was free in this port. We took a ships excursion on a Dhow cruise which was very relaxing but we spent a lot of time at anchored in the sea where you could swim, sunbathe and admire the view, also a decent buffet lunch was served. I would imagine if the weather was cloudy this could be pretty boring but fortunately it was a lovely day and not too hot. There was an upper deck for sunbathing and the lower deck was shaded. We were also taken on a short tour into the city where a photo stop was made so we could admire the ultra modern skyscrapers. All in all, a very enjoyable day. After the rescheduled visit to Sir Bani Yas Island we arrived back in Dubai on the Friday as per the original itinerary. We had a ships tour to the Miracle Garden which was scheduled for the afternoon. I must say the way MSC handles excursions is unlike any other cruise line we have been on. Although I had pre booked all our tours online no times were given so I expected that we would find out the tour times when we boarded but there were excursion tickets in our cabin. When we enquired with the shore excursions desk she informed us that we only get our tickets with the meeting times the night before the tour. This can be quite awkward if you have a half day tour as how can you plan the rest of your day? She explained it’s because the tours have to be grouped by different languages and they don’t have all the information and times until the day before from the tour operators. It’s very bizarre but we just went with the flow. So our Miracle garden tour left the port at 2.30pm it included had a city tour past the Burj al Arab and the Jumeirah Palm etc. The traffic was very slow so we were late arriving at the Miracle garden which being a Friday and a holiday weekend was very busy. It was a beautiful place and the floral displays are stunning. The crowds did thin out a little after sunset but a lot of passengers were very tired and hungry and those on early seating missed their dinner as we did not arrive back to the port until after 7pm. I am sure if the excursion times were listed when you booked people could have planned accordingly. Fortunately for us advantage of the open seating Yacht Club restaurant meant we did not have to rush to get ready for dinner and we ordered some snacks from room service as soon as we got back to the cabin. Some passengers were disembarking very early for their flights home so we did not get much sleep on our last night as folks were coming and going from about 2am! Luckily as we were staying in a hotel Dubai for New years’ eve we had a leisurely disembarkation at 8.30am, escorted off the ship and to our luggage in the arrivals hall by our butler. Pampered to the end! So in conclusion, we would certainly sail with MSC again but only in the Yacht Club. We really enjoyed the service, food and all the perks that come with it. Having said that Celebrity still remains our home from home and we will happily sail in regular cabins without all the suite perks as we love the food, service and ambiance of their ships in general. One thing that really did concern us was the lifeboat drill on the Fantasia. I have never attended such a disorganised drill in all our 43 cruises. Listening to the drill in 6 different languages is tedious but necessary but instead of checking passengers off a list as you enter your muster station staff were randomly scanning guests cruise cards all over the place. Then they kept calling for missing guests to attend the drill. Herding cats is the phrase that comes to mind! As some folks embark in different ports not everyone participates so then they have to have another the next night for those who boarded in Abu Dhabi which was transmitted over the ships PA while we were dining so it was impossible to have a conversation! Most of these quirks are due to the fact that there are many nationalities on board so everything has to be multi- lingual. For that reason there was no Captains daily announcement. We also missed not seeing the cruise director on TV in the mornings. These are things we have become very familiar with on the American cruise lines and MSC certainly has their own way of doing things and we felt a little out of our comfort zone at times however the Yacht Club concept more than made up for any of these idiosyncrasies . A change is as good as a rest as they say! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
First time we were away for Christmas and choose Celebrity because we love the line. Service was great as usual although there were a few hiccups in the MDR a few nights, but that is to be expected considering it was Christmas. The bar ... Read More
First time we were away for Christmas and choose Celebrity because we love the line. Service was great as usual although there were a few hiccups in the MDR a few nights, but that is to be expected considering it was Christmas. The bar service was terrific and the ship was clean the steward service was great. Pool stewards however need to enforce the rules, there were several loungers that had towels on them for practically the entire day with no one actually using them which was made worse on sea days. We didnt really go to any shows but form what we heard they were very good, the silent disco was a huge success and great fun. Embarkation was a breeze and the welcome on board was with a cheery smile and very friendly, the staff always said hello and were cheerful and welcoming, we never had a bad experience with any of them and nothing was too much trouble for them. The food was good as was the choice, however i would suggest that the try to offer a greater variety over the 7 days and not repeat meals over the week. The variety in the buffet was good and I for one am happy to see that the variety has been slightly reduced to stop waste. I would like to see more variety in the shops, as far as general merchandise is concerned. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
Ship tired rusty dirty carpets and old fashioned in the public areas. The cabins were clean comfy beds and clean linen and towels cabin staff excellent. Bar staff over worked tiered and stretched. Main Dinning room staff ... Read More
Ship tired rusty dirty carpets and old fashioned in the public areas. The cabins were clean comfy beds and clean linen and towels cabin staff excellent. Bar staff over worked tiered and stretched. Main Dinning room staff overworked hence sloppy our table of 8 never got our food together on any courses and 7/10 in was warm to cold! The food was very good when we got it hot we felt sorry for the chefs all there effort ruoined by waiters not getting the food out quick. Also the wine waiters were very slow in the main dinning room. Ship Didn't feel Christmassy only one xmas tree! More effort was made for new year but the music in the main centrum was disastrous slow and boring. Properly our fault for choosing a cruise in the school holidays but was very surprised to find so many un accompanied children approx 8 years upwards charging around playing in the lefts pushing past elderly people being very load and hogging the hot tubs! Cannot understand why the UNDER 18 curfew is 1am yes 1 am! Every day. And New Year's Eve 12 to 17 years olds till 2am! Hence there was sick in the corridors! Many we saw drinking alcohol from the free champagne on New Year's Eve. Lastly royal Caribbean managed to leave 4 of our party of 8 stranded at Miami airport after they cancelled our flights home! Still waiting for an explanation and apologee as there 4 reps in the airport were not willing to assist us - we had to sort out our own flights home and hopefully we can reclaim the fee £1500 per seat back! So cruisers beware. We will never use this company again. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Not the Royal Expectation we expect for spending Christmas and New Year on board Anthem of the Seas. So much has been said about the ship itself. One would expect this particular cruise to be of some differences at least, because this is ... Read More
Not the Royal Expectation we expect for spending Christmas and New Year on board Anthem of the Seas. So much has been said about the ship itself. One would expect this particular cruise to be of some differences at least, because this is Christmas and New Year. We like the deco and design of the ship, very similar to some of the Princess Cruise ship that we have experienced before. The interior of the ship is very well decorated, cabin color is very warm, with lots of room for storage. Unlike Allure of the Seas, Oasis and Freedom of the Seas which have much larger Promenade Space. The common areas at times feel very congested. Breakfast at the Windjammer is usually crowded, choice of food bad, breakfast menu same every day, finding a place for two some time could be a challenge. Personally we like Two70 better, very quiet, limited choice but very healthy diet. We both are not a lunch person (no comments) Dinner at the Grande is one of the worst by far. Imagine having Fish&Chip in fast food restaurants. (fish over cook and dry)Garlic Shrimp Entrees for dinner is not any bigger than shrimp salad cocktail. Numerous starters and entrees having to repeat at least once. Royal Caribbean you are very lucky to have Anoop,Lujan and Maricris as your employees.(Table 313)They all defended the Company well, when we complain that the food was not so great. Trying to make up for the not so good dinner every day, we will serve complimentary cheese to go with our wine each evening (by your wait staff) Lucky draw at Regalia is very unprofessional, we were ask which is the Real Diamond from the three on display in the show case. The correct answer should be all three (not diamond #1, #2 or #3) Ballot with a partial correct answer should not be considered for the draw. This only justified the products you sell are genuine and not otherwise. Personally I have a mixed reaction if someone pick diamond #1.Then #2 and #3 must be fake. (Do RC sell fake diamonds?) The group of us confronted the Manager and his staff about how the draw was conducted and how the rest was unfairly treated with the 100% correct answer. Your Manager from Romania reply (I'm the boss I decide) what an attitude. I told him that we will post our review on line. His reply... RC don't really care. This one is for all of us, we all wanted great deals, fine food, excellent service, and everything that is available for holidays on board the ship. The amount of food that is left behind after we are done having breakfast, lunch or dinner is disgusting (are we really the waste society of the world?) Imagine having to pay for every meals on board..... I'm sure you are not the person you are going to be. Cruise fare could be a lot less if all of us make the first move not to waste on food, and teach our kids take only what he or she can consume. Last and not least The headliner, Spectra, We will rock you show and The Gifts, are not up to mine expectations. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We went on the 12 night South Pacific cruise from Sydney on 23 December. It was our 7th Celebrity cruise but first from Australia (all the others were from US/Caribbean ports). We have also been on Silversea, Oceania, Royal ... Read More
We went on the 12 night South Pacific cruise from Sydney on 23 December. It was our 7th Celebrity cruise but first from Australia (all the others were from US/Caribbean ports). We have also been on Silversea, Oceania, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Carnival. We are Celebrity Elite level members. Here is the good and the not so good. Cabin Attendant – Excellent – Our cabin attendant (Gabriel) was superb. He was always efficient, smiling and helpful. Our departures were noted and our cabin made up immediately. Tenders – Excellent – Tenders were used at Isle de Pines and Mystery Island. On previous Celebrity cruises tenders have been a problem. On this cruise there were only short waits and even long queues moved quickly. The reason was simple – whoever was in charge used up to 7 lifeboats to provide a high frequency service from two boarding platforms. This was a problem from past cruises fixed – let us hope the same approach is adopted on other ships. Photo Shop – Poor – Bring your own camera and take your own photos. Avoid the photo packages. On previous Celebrity cruises the photo packages were good value by skilled photographers. On this cruise we felt there was no skill or art involved and the resulting photos were poor quality camera work such as parts of heads cuts off. Delays and stresses even getting the package USB on the last night suggested incompetence. Shuttle Bus – Excellent – Noumea – Often a problem on other cruises this, like the tender issue, was solved by whoever was in charge by having plenty of buses in Noumea running a high frequency service so there were no waits. Main dining room (Epernay) – Very Good – We had recently been on much higher priced Silversea and Oceania cruises. The food in the main dining room on Solstice was better than the main dining room on each of those cruise lines although not up to the standard of the speciality restaurants on those lines. Celebrity remains the best food in the mega ship market. Service in Main Dining – Excellent – Our waiters (Valentin and Iryna) were excellent and helpful. Seating in Main Dining – Poor – We are Elite Celebrity members but for some reason got about the worst table in the middle of the bottom level of the dining room. We used to get much better tables before we reached the Elite level. At no stage were we aware of the presence of a maitre d’. Coffee – Poor – The coffee throughout the ship is terrible. Café Bacio does not live up to the hype with poor service, attitude and coffee. Coffee was bitter and too hot. Children – Being an Australian school holiday cruise the ship had over 3000 passengers with lots of children (and prams). Most were well behaved but a few insisted upon pushing all the buttons in the lifts and gangs playing chasing games around the corridors on treasure hunts posed a hazard. Smoking – As non-smokers we were pleased that overall the smoking on board was only a minor inconvenience. Walking/Jogging Track – A design flaw of the Solstice is that the jogging track runs around a deck used for sun lounges and often during the day is hard to use because people put their sun lounges across the track. Whilst not as bad as on other cruises this was still an issue and the staff did not move sun lounges off the track. Sun Lounges – Most of the passengers being Australian it was shade rather than sun that was in demand. There were plenty of lounges available in the sun and sometimes in the shade. Unfortunately there was a lot of saving of lounges by passengers who rarely used them or who put belongings on adjoining lounges to stop them being used and give themselves extra space. This did not appear to be policed by the staff. Ocean View Buffet – Excellent – Huge and at times overcrowded it is usually possible to find something to eat from the wide range. The effort made for Christmas and New Year was spectacular and greatly appreciated. Sushi – Not Good – On previous Celebrity cruises Ocean View Café had reasonable sushi in the evening. Now that is gone. Instead there is only a Sushi café on level 5 which costs extra. Embarkation – Good - Surprisingly quick and efficient. On board 25 minutes after arriving at pier at 12.30pm. Unfortunately we were not then allowed off again that afternoon to spend any more time in Sydney and had not been warned this would be the case. Disembarkation – Good - At 6.40am there was a huge line for walk offs which commenced at 6.50am and went so quickly we were at Sydney airport at 7.20am. Itinerary – OK – Australia is a long way from anywhere which means too many days at sea. There were 6 days at sea and only 5 ports on this cruise. Cabin – Clean and functional the cabins are good for the price. Hygiene – Problem – Whilst there is hand washing lotion everywhere the system for obtaining beverages (sodas, water or alcoholic) seemed likely to be very efficient at spreading disease. You have to hand your seapass to a waiter who swipes it and hands it back and then does the same with someone else’s seapass and on it goes. The system needs to be contactless with the passenger simply waving their seapass. Beverage Packages – Poor – Even if the beverage package you purchase includes the type of drink available in your minibar you get charged again if you take it from the minibar. If your package includes Coke you cannot take the can of Coke from your minibar. Your package only allows you to get one drink at a time from a bar even if that drink is water or soft drink (and each time your seaspass is handled by a staff member who is handling lots of other seapasses and bottles and glasses handled by other passengers). At times the brand of bottled water sold was undrinkable. Internet – OK – Internet costs extra still unless some minutes are included in a deal or because of your status. Speed was fair. Security – As an Australian holiday period cruise there were a lot more passengers in the 20-40 age group than on other cruises, many of them appearing to consume vast amounts of alcohol. Given the amount of alcohol consumed security did a very good job of keeping it a safe cruise. It is certainly far safer than going out in an Australian capital city at night. Entertainment – Disappointing – Apart from Aussie Boys the acts and Celebrity in house entertainers were below the standard expected out of US ports. Movies – Some nights recent release movies were shown in Celebrity Central which is a comfortable cinema. Overall we were impressed. Christmas and New Year were made special which they have not been on some other cruises we have been on. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Firstly a bit about us: we are 45 (husband and wife) who loves to travel and cruise, we are not hard to please people, we like the beach, we like to drink a little, we normally cruise as a couple but sometimes we cruise as a family (with 2 ... Read More
Firstly a bit about us: we are 45 (husband and wife) who loves to travel and cruise, we are not hard to please people, we like the beach, we like to drink a little, we normally cruise as a couple but sometimes we cruise as a family (with 2 kids currently 19 and 21) and sometimes with our friends. We live in Australia but we were born in Portugal and Brazil. This was our 7th cruise. We booked this cruise 10 days before departure, it was a last minute decision we booked the last cabin available being an inside cabin (1055 level 10) and we paid AUD$5,900.00 for it. I have heard hat Celebrity was on the same level as Princess Cruises (we cruised with Diamond Princess and we really liked the ship and the service) and a level higher than Royal Caribbean (we did Radiance, Rhapsody and Voyager) so I was expecting a beautiful ship,with great amenities and outstanding service. It was a Christmas, new years and my husband birthday. Because we are Paltinun level on RC (almost emerald) we had the "Select" tier on Celebrity. Upon arrival, around 3pm, we boarded without any delays or queues, as almost everyone were already in the ship. We went direct to our room. The room was a good size, and good set up, the only improvement would be a nice picture frame or a mirror on the wall opposite the door to give some focal point as one opens the door. The shower whithout the curtains was a big relief, and the best bathroom i've had on a cruise. The only thing we found on our room was a print out with some "special events" for the select members. On the day of those events no invitation was sent to the room so its easy to forget and miss those events. My husbands birthday was during our cruise and nothing was said or given, not even a card saying happy birthday, not a cake or no one wine him a happy birthday. Very disappointing. The ship was on its full capacity, and we noticed it on the pools, and during lunch and breakfast. Breakfast closes at 10am and with only 2 hours to serve breakfast for over 3,000 it was a dogs breakfast, queue for bread, queue for eggs, queue for everything. Same history for lunch. The food was not presented in a nice way, it was like they were feeding the army, bland food and not very nice to look at, no decorations. The hours of service should be increased when the ship is full to accommodate and serve everyone in a nice manner. The lunch was supposed to end at 2.30pm but they start removing the trays around 2.10pm and all is removed but the pasta and pizza only after that. We tried the main dinning room for two nights but the food was not special, and we decided to have dinner at the buffet. The seating area isn't big enough to accommodate all guests during meal time. The only time one could use the buffet wihitout having to fight or queue for food was at dinner time when most guests where at the min dining room. The entertainment was a hit and miss, and we did walk out on few show and didn't turned up for others. With only 3 swimming pools, one indoors for the oldies. And 2 outside with the children taking over was not possible to use it at all. One of those outside pools should be for adults only and the other for the kids. There isn't many activities happening and after 11pm the only option is to go to bed, because there isn't anything to do. The ship is okay and being a new ship to should be stunning. The excursions where very overpriced. The Captain was the best thing on the ship, Captain Tesos is a people person and e is always around the ship and happy to have a chat and take photos. I wouldn't cruise with celebrity again based on my experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
Choice based on rates and available dates. This one fit our needs best. Covered Christmas which we would have had without kids for the first time. Also covered our 40th Anniversary on 12/26. Cruise was great overall. Smaller ship ... Read More
Choice based on rates and available dates. This one fit our needs best. Covered Christmas which we would have had without kids for the first time. Also covered our 40th Anniversary on 12/26. Cruise was great overall. Smaller ship than we had on Carnival but not necessarily a bad thing. More intimate. We met some great people. Destinations were womderful. Climbing Maya ruins on Christmas Day, tubing on a rain Forrest river (in the rain) on our Anniversary with a Maya guide. Next day being smooched on by an amorous Capuccin Monkey. Great times. The staff was friendly for he most part and went out of their way to make us feel special. A couple of bartenders were less than the best but they were more than made for by the rother st. I would recommend this route and cruise line to anyone. We may we'll do this one again. On the down side, though, there were a couple of significant aspects that prevent this from being a 5 star review. First, the center of the top deck by the pool was taken up by a stage. That seriously limited the space for guests. More, though, the Gand that played on that stage was a reggae style band and LOUD! Speakers all around the stage blasted their music into every corner. Lest you think I am just an old fogey who doesn't like loud things, I have been around concussive blast waves. They do bad things to your internal body. This volume felt like one long slow explosion and was painful for me. There was literally no way anyone could carry on a conversation when they were playing. We had to grab whatever food or drink we wanted and head up a deck, and maybe away from the pool area, to get a sound baffle from the glass and other structures in order to enjoy sitting out in the sunshine. The other thing was that we had a card in our room congratulating us on our Anniversary. That was very nice. The card said to give it to the matre de at whatever restaurant we went to on our Anniversary. We chose the French restaurant, Le Bistro. Handed the card over as instructed and were seated. As we were eating a small group of people appeared and sang Let Me Call You Sweetheart to a nearby table. I looked at my wife and speculated that they might were supposed to be singing to us. But, whatever. Shortly the couple at that table came by and asked us if it was our Anniversary since we were the only people in the restaurant tha looked like we were celebrating such an event. He said that they were not even married and he didn't take our cake. Then he went to tell the staff of their mistake. A while later the same people appeared at our table and repeated their performance and placed a very pretty cake on our table, right after we had ordered desert. In fact, our desert showed up in the middle of their singing. We thanked them and asked, since we already had desert, what we were to do with the cake. They said the would box it up for us. That was nice. We finished and we're sitting at the table. Ready to go, we wondered what we were to do about the cake. We got our waiter and asked. He said they had sent it to our cabin. Well, you guessed it, no cake. We never did see that cake again after it was placed on our table. Now, to be sure, we didn't go on the cruise for tha cake. And, had there been no card in our room, we wouldn't have even noticed. But the gesture was made ... and then abysmally executed. We are not looking for any kind of refund and not even sure an apology is necessary. But I have worked in customer service organizations and this was definitely not that. So here is the feedback. Cost you a star. As I said, though, we may we'll repeat this cruise and with NCL. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Traveled for the Christmas week on the Epic. Our group was a party of 6 with two large balcony cabins. We were 4 adults and 2 teens. Embarkation was very easy. No lines at 11 AM. Staff greeted us with a smile and we were easily on board ... Read More
Traveled for the Christmas week on the Epic. Our group was a party of 6 with two large balcony cabins. We were 4 adults and 2 teens. Embarkation was very easy. No lines at 11 AM. Staff greeted us with a smile and we were easily on board and on our way to the buffet area. We had the drink package and immediately began to use it with a cocktail of the day. Amazingly, there was outdoor food ready for us!! The buffet opened shortly after that. We did wait a long time to get to our cabins, and when asking how soon it would be, I was told "when it's ready we will let you know" A bit curt, but oh well! Cabin was as described...........strange but doable Lots of storage but awful lighting and outlets awful. Bring along some extra extensions of some sort.. Met our wonderful cabin steward, Rosalee, who remembered our names from the first time we met! How do they do this???? She did all that she could to meet our needs but was never intrusive. Will get back to cabin issues in another section of this review. Been on several cruises and feel this food was some of the best. Have read other reviews of this ships food and can't understand why all the complaints? Ate in 3 specialty restaurants and all were great!!! Mostly ate beef the entire trip, so after I have my arteries cleared, will stay off beef for awhile! Drinks were good and plentiful and service was very good for the most. Wonderful service in Cagney's and Tempanaki !!! Catered to our shell fish allergic granddaughter, always watching to be certain there was no cross contamination. Entertainment was as good as any ship we have been on and we were sure to have made reservations as we knew this would be a very crowded cruise. Husband liked the casino, but was unlucky! Felt some of the big events held in the Atrium should have been moved to the theater as there was just too much crowding and not nearly enough places to sit. Actual shipboard activities were just OK. As always pool deck very over crowded and seat savers the usual problem as on all cruises. Basically used my own large balcony instead. Bought admission for the adult only water spa and enjoyed the peace and quiet and huge water features for the entire week.Very clean! Thought Epic did a good job celebrating Christmas all week....music, movies etc. Did not do any tours this time as we had been to these islands previously. Also there was the need to tender and water was rough for me to safely get on and off the ship.Missed Jamaica due to high winds, so felt bad for my grand kids. Now the ugly! We noticed that our carpet in the cabin was very wet and reported it in the A.M. We were having room service in our cabin when maintenance knocked and asked if they could come in to check. No problem we said. They failed to mention that they were going to open a drain while we were eating!!!! Quite an odor! We quickly went outside on the balcony to finish our meal and when we went back in, they had left two very large pieces of equipment to quickly dry up the carpet. Now we all know how small these cabins are and it is next to impossible to get past the bed to begin with, so having a large fan and a dehumidifier in the ONLY walking space was quite a trick!! Also the volume of noise was unbelievable!!!!! So after we tried our best to get ready, we left the cabin for the day. They were still in place when we came back to rest and had to call maintenance to haul them away. Carpet never really dried and on the night of day 4 it happened again!! Really nasty!!! Back with the fans etc! Now on the last night of out cruise, while packing, I received a call from customer relations asking if we would please move out for the night to a cabin one flight up. Ummm, I don't think so! They then proceed to say they were concerned with our health...think MOLD.....really?? How about the last 6 days? If they had another cabin to move us to, then why didn't they? Originally said ship was at capacity. Where did the people who were in this new found cabin go? Did they leave them on last port? Were they sleeping on the pool deck? Did they jump ship? Made no sense and so declined. What they really wanted was to run those fans all night to cover up the wet carpet for the oncoming next day guest!!!! Well good luck with that as they never did find the problem. For a week of soggy carpet the generously compensated us $100 Probably not nearly enough to cover one of the medical tests we may need for mold disease!!!!! All in all it was a good cruise if you eliminate the carpet stuff and our inability to stop in Jamaica. Nothing is perfect. When dealing with 4,000+ passengers you must expect some blips, so get over most of these issues. Again, special thanks to our room steward, Rosalie!!!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
We chose to do this cruise as it encompassed both Christmas (which also happens to be my son's birthday) and New Year's Eve--many other cruise options offered just one or the other. For such a big ship, I was surprised to have ... Read More
We chose to do this cruise as it encompassed both Christmas (which also happens to be my son's birthday) and New Year's Eve--many other cruise options offered just one or the other. For such a big ship, I was surprised to have to go looking for food when I felt hungry. I am an experienced cruiser, and couldn't believe that buffets and snack-style restaurants had very short hours throughout the ship on a daily basis. That being said, we went through a few things that we'd never experienced on a cruise and couldn't believe they happened to us: 1) On my son's birthday, December 25th, we visited the Central Park 101 restaurant to celebrate. The staff assured me that the table would be decorated, etc. While we were seated promptly, none of the promises were fulfilled. No decorations, and very poor service--as a matter of fact we even had to ask multiple times for the bread. This was also the day after we went to the Chops restaurant which was amazing and had set the bar very high. Being that we had such a positive experience the day before in Chops which has the same price tag as Central Park 101, we complained about the subpar service and the forgotten decorations. The manager was extremely rude and told us that we should just go back to Chops if we liked it better there the night before. After hearing how rude he was being, my son who never complains at restaurants spoke up and let the manager know that this was no way to be treating customers, specially on a holiday like Christmas! 2) Upon re-embarking the ship at port on the following day, the card scanner started going crazy when my son handed the security guard his card with the screen reading "security alert". Security made a huge fuss out of this and said that my son had to go to emergency services immediately yet didn't want to tell us what the issue was. Being that my son had just turned 23 and that I paid for the cruise, I wanted to know what was going on, so I went to guest services with him. I was worried that he wasn't telling me something because I never had to deal with something like this. Long story short, after treating us like criminals and putting us into a room in which they alerted us that they would be recording us with both "audio and video" (!), it turned out that on the first night of the cruise, my son got flagged in the system for "providing alcohol to minors". He recalled the event, and it was the first night at the Sushi restaurant when he gave his younger (18) sister a sip of his drink so she could try it. Having done a Costa cruise in Europe prior to this one, he actually thought the drinking age was 18+, and when the hostess went up to him to alert him that it was actually 21+ on the ship, he apologized and never gave my daughter a sip again. Apparently the misunderstanding wasn't resolved because they put us through hell for something unbelievably innocent. In the end they realized how ridiculous it was and even sent us a bottle of champagne to our room for blowing the situation out of proportion. What a stressful situation for no reason at all... Ridiculous. 3) New Year's Eve... We have done New Year's Eve on other ships before and had an amazing time. Expected nothing less on such a beautiful ship as the Allure. First, our cabin steward threw away a shopping bag containing various New Years hats, masquerade masks, noise makers, etc. that had already made it through the first 8 nights of our cruise thinking that it was trash. I don't know how you can possibly think all of that is trash when it is quite obvious what it is for. Additionally, the celebration party was subpar. Balloons were dropped from the ceiling to little fanfare, and made for a truly lackluster experience. 4) We asked for breakfast room service 6 times, via hanging the request card on our door before the cut-off time. It was only delivered once. Unbelievable. 5) While there were a few nice employees on the ship, it's noteworthy to mention that many were noticeably in a bad mood, which is very atypical of ship crew that are normally very nice to guests. I don't know if this was the end of a lot of crew's contracts or if management was mistreating them but something was definitely off. The ports of call were great, and the ship itself was very nice. However, on our overall experience we were truly let down as experienced cruisers. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
To enjoy a special Christmas and New Years holiday vacation in which I treated my sons and their wives (40 ish adults) I booked this cruise expecting an enjoyable 10 days. I Have been on over 40 cruises to date and previous ones without ... Read More
To enjoy a special Christmas and New Years holiday vacation in which I treated my sons and their wives (40 ish adults) I booked this cruise expecting an enjoyable 10 days. I Have been on over 40 cruises to date and previous ones without the whole family that were outstandingly good, this one was a sad disappointment in so many ways, outstandingly bad. TERRIBLE - food, service, attitude. VERY, VERY short buffet hours yet, 20 minutes before afternoon closing buffet ran out of french fries and hot dogs, and the cook REFUSED TO COOK ANY MORE THAT DAY! At three different meals in the buffet, diet Coke was unavailable because they were out of syrup or was not mixing right, the other fountain in the buffet also was not able to provide diet coke either, no one seemed to be concerned about getting machine fixed. - - We were charged for drinks that were supposed to be included as one of our DIAMOND STATUS drinks between 5pm and 830pm, had to go to the service desk twice to get account corrected. - - In one of the ports, St Martins I believe, the ship blew away from the dock during boarding, fortunately no one was injured but it took 20-30 minutes to get the ship tied up properly and the gangways functional again. - - the bottom of the pool is in absolutely terrible condition, mirrors in the cabin bathrooms are black along the bottoms and sides because of damage or age, wiring on deck five atrium speaker was haphazardly attached to glass and mirrors for 3-4 feet with pieces of black electrical tape - - The dancers in the production shows were good, but the singers and the song selections were poor. - - The orchestra was performing well but sounded poor because the sound-man/sound mixer person hasn't a clue or has a tin ear (get him some training or get someone else) - - the pool attendants were not enforcing the time limit rule on unattended deck chairs, so it was impossible to get one for ourselves - - the teenagers on board were not made to follow the curfew and were out running around all hours disturbing others - - these are the major issues I can recall, but it appears to me it is a top down problem on this ship, or maybe corporate down problem. I do not plan, even though I have diamond status and get some good perks, to ever cruise on Royal Carib. again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Our group of 12 was on the NORWEGIAN JEWEL from December 23 -30, 2016. The group was my wife and I (4 other cruises) in an Oceanview stateroom, my 29 year old son and his girlfriend (first cruise) in an Oceanview stateroom, my 24 year old ... Read More
Our group of 12 was on the NORWEGIAN JEWEL from December 23 -30, 2016. The group was my wife and I (4 other cruises) in an Oceanview stateroom, my 29 year old son and his girlfriend (first cruise) in an Oceanview stateroom, my 24 year old daughter and her boyfriend (3rd cruise) in an Oceanview stateroom, my daughter’s boyfriend’s parents (2nd cruise) in an Oceanview stateroom, our son’s girlfriend’s aunt and the girlfriend’s 10 year old son (1st cruise) in a balcony stateroom and the aunt’s sister and husband (2nd cruise) in an Interior stateroom. Whew! Confusing group, I know. Main point is that we had a variety of ages and experience. The aunt and her sister were both renting scooters and had some mobility issues. But EVERYONE had a great time. Different takes from everyone, but I’ll focus as best I can on the overall experience, but understand that not everyone did everything I talk about here. EMBARKATION: This was a disappointing mess. My wife and I plus a few others in the group arrived in LA that morning. It was pretty fast (30 minutes) to get from LA to the port, and we used a VERY nice van service. There are lots in a city that size…our group of 8 was big enough (with all the suitcases) to get our very own van, but at no extra charge. We arrived at the port and it took forever for the porter to take our bags. Yes, we had a lot, but it took longer than it should have. Then a port representative met us to help with our family member who needed a wheelchair. One family member was allowed to go with her, but that meant having her niece leave her little boy with us…and as we aren’t his family members, we couldn’t bring him on the ship. What a mess! Finally, our son, the boy, the niece and the aunt all went off and my wife and I fended for ourselves. We were glad to see a line for “repeat” customers (we’re bronze…lowest level) but it saved no time. We all ended up at the same check-in counters. The wait was 45 minutes. In the end, we were the last folks on the ship from our whole group. Normally we are on by noon or 1. It was after two, and cabins were already available, so the ship was a madhouse. RESTAURANTS: I’ll start with THE GREAT OUTDOORS. This was where we met up with most of our group as we waited for muster drill. As always, this is a great spot to look around at the views, grab a drink, get some food and NOT have significant crowds. You have to walk all the way through the very long cafeteria to get to it, and I guess a lot of folks just won’t bother. The buffet doesn’t have as many choices as the main buffet, but it still has PLENTY to choose from. The atmosphere is just so much more relaxing. We spent time in the late evenings as well (once we were in Mexican temps…it was a little chilly in SoCal!). Buffet is open late, the bar is pouring and the sound of the ship moving through the ocean is relaxing. You can have a party atmosphere here or a calm one. Our first couple of dinners, we did as a group of 12. With the Christmas holidays, I had to reserve seats for Christmas Eve (formal night) as well as Christmas brunch and then Christmas night dinner. Our first night (the 23rd) we tried out Tsar’s, the more “formal” or “traditional” of the two MDRs. We were seated quickly and the food and service was very nice. The following night was good as well. Folks were seldom truly formal (saw a small smattering of tuxes), but there were plenty of suits. I don’t know if Christmas Eve just brought out a larger selection of dressier folks. Not every meal everyone had was a homerun, and there were a few uneaten appetizers or entrees…but I liked everything I had for the most part. On the first night, I had the prime rib and it was very tasty. (I had prime rib on EXPLORER OF THE SEAS 3 months prior, and that was quite tasteless.) Anyway, when Christmas brunch came around, things fell apart a bit from a service perspective. So much so, they gave me a free bottle of wine. Very slow. Wrong items arriving. Half the table receiving their entrees and the other half waiting forever. It was not good, so after that, our party never had dinner at Tsar’s again. We made the move to Azura that night and while, to be honest, I like the formal Tsar’s a bit better…everyone seemed to feel more at ease, so I was happy. The service was good too. Food is the same as at Tsar’s…but the more contemporary atmosphere is quite different. I recommend you try both. They each have something nice to offer. (By the way, Tsar’s is open for breakfast, and I highly recommend it. You can often get a table by a window and have a lovely view of the ocean while you gorge yourself!). We had lunch on the 24th at CHIN-CHIN, the included Chinese place. For lunch, it is a noodle house…and it was quite tasty!! A couple of the older members of our group were not so enchanted by the unorthodox food…but most of us loved it. (If you wanted an alcoholic beverage, though, you had to run down a level and get it from one of the bars. We had no bar service there, as for some reason, the bar at the sushi joint was closed at lunch time.) We only tried the main buffet one for breakfast and once for lunch. It is fine. Crowded but fine. We ended up having several breakfast’s at O’SHEEHAN’S, the delightful “open almost all the time” sit down place with a large, Irish-themed bar adjacent. The have a limited menu of things like burgers, fries, tuna sandwich, etc…but for breakfast, they have essentially the same choices as Tsar’s and it’s a bit more casual. (A great place for a pre or post-hangover dose of protein, too.) Service, to be honest, was always a bit indifferent, but it was efficient, so I was happy enough. The only specialty restaurant we did was TEPPANYAKI, as a group of 12 on the 28th. We had a blast, and the food was terrific. Fresh and tasty and plentiful. There is an extra charge, which I think is a bit high (about $30, I think)…but if you can do a splurge, this is a fun time. Only gripe was that they were 15 minutes late seating us, so we were a bit pressed for time to catch the show in the theater. We did not try other specialty places this time, as we enjoyed having dinner with our kids and their SOs. The older folks in the group did try some other spots and gave glowing reports about Cagney’s and less-than-enthused about the Italian spot. BARS Many of us had selected the drink package as one of our ad-ons (part of the special), and we sure got our money’s worth. It was the holidays, and for most of the trip, the weather was warm and sunny. So we indulged a fair amount. The limit was $15, and we seldom exceeded it. And not everything needed to be well drinks, either. Jack Daniels, Johnny Black, etc. were all covered. I saw no real “generic” names. Strangely, Dark and Stormy’s were more than $15??!! I was able to order a Moscow Mule with dark instead of white rum…so that was just a little odd. I can’t speak much about the wine…we had very little of that, but my kids often got a glass at dinner and seemed satisfied. They are not very knowledgeable, though! Beer was the usual disappointing array. A couple of places had Heineken on draft, but overall the selection was poor. I was pleasantly surprised to find they had a Pale Ale from Lagunita’s though. That seemed like a random (but nice) choice to pop up in a sea of Budweiser, Coors & Sam Adams lager. The bars themselves all had various things to offer, but most really had the same stuff as anyone else. The notable exception was the Mojito Bar (connected to Cagney’s Steakhouse) which poured some really unusual and tasty mojitos you couldn’t get anywhere else. They have more limited hours, so make plans to drop by. It is a bit more “elegant” than many of the bars and they actually serve a chex-mix type of thing to encourage lingering. So you might feel out of place stopping by in your swim trunks and flip-flops. Otherwise, it’s a standard selection of pool-side bars, bars in the two clubs and a smattering throughout the ship. Each bar was nice and the service was generally good. I was always able to order two drinks with just one card. And ordering doubles was never an issue. Frankly, some of these guys poured with a very heavy hand. I ordered a double Cape Cod for my wife, and they basically filled the glass with vodka and then splashed a smidgen of cranberry juice on top. Watch out! ENTERTAINMENT As with all other cruises we’ve done, this was a bit hit and miss. The Norwegian Jewel cast was actually pretty good and we enjoyed BAND OF THE RUN, essentially a collection of songs from the 70s / 80s. High energy, fast moving and the live band was great. In fact, most of the shows featured the live band, and they were always a pretty tight ensemble. Yes, they stared hard at their cheat sheets and weren’t terribly charismatic…but they sounded really great. We enjoyed ourselves overall at these shows. We didn’t spend much time with the other entertainment on the ship, except occasionally a song or two in Spinnaker’s, the bigger of the clubs, with a dance floor and lots of seating. Spinnaker’s is the site of many daytime “games” as well. This place gets a lot of use, but when it is not in use, there is no better spot for some quiet time reading or looking at the sea. MISC: We spent some time playing board games in the game room. It’s so nice that they have that. It’s a simple little feature (right next to the library) but on this family oriented cruise…it was packed! Speaking of family oriented…THE QUEST game show, which is usually for adults only, was REALLY for adults only. It is held in the Spinnaker, which makes it possible for more people to get involved (compared to, say, the Ice Arena on a Royal Caribbean ship, where you can just watch and laugh if you want). The challenges got quite racy at the end, and as my son said once “I definitely saw some nudity.” So be warned. We laughed our butts off, but I was a little surprised as well. Spinnaker also hosted White Hot night, because the weather had gotten very blustery. Being indoors dampened this event, and it was a bit of a flop, I would say. We had looked forward to it, but somehow, being inside just wasn’t as fun as spreading out over the two levels around the pool, tropical drink in hand, dancing like fool. The 10 year old with us spent LOTS of time on the sports court. Soccer tournaments, basketball, etc. He enjoyed the Kids Club (can’t remember the name) and was immediately ready to do another cruise! CABIN: We had an oceanview room on deck 5, so this featured a picture window, rather than a porthole. It was a perfectly serviceable cabin…just like any other. If you’ve cruised before, you know what I mean. If not…just expect something that looks like an inexpensive hotel room, but much smaller. Store your suitcases under the bed. Bring handing cosmetic bags as there is essentially no counter space. (I will say, though, that the room had perhaps a little bit more storage space than we’ve had before. We actually had an unused drawer! Our steward was fine…nothing special, but our room was always clean and towels always stocked and ice always provided. We didn’t see him much, but didn’t really need to. DISEMBARKATION This was essentially a breeze, although we had to wait extra for the two wheelchairs we needed. This made us amongst the last to debark, but everything was smooth. You can still get a lovely breakfast in Tsar’s and I recommend that. One last shot of really nice, tablecloth service! (One tip…we had rented a couple of vehicles from the Enterprise dealership in San Pedro. Their shuttle took us there and then my son and I had to wait for over an hour to get cars. It was SO terribly jam-packed. The staff was overwhelmed. It’s a tiny office and you actually have to wait outside. Find another solution!! Take an uber to a neighboring town for a rental car. (We had to spend about 8 hours in LA before our flight, so we wanted a bit of freedom to move around.) Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We chose this cruise for three main reasons. The itinerary went to ports in Brazil that we have never been before. Two, we love the staff and the service on the NCL Sun. Three, the food is always excellent, although we ate at specialty ... Read More
We chose this cruise for three main reasons. The itinerary went to ports in Brazil that we have never been before. Two, we love the staff and the service on the NCL Sun. Three, the food is always excellent, although we ate at specialty restaurants and the buffet, not in the main dinning room. We have traveled on the Sun before in South America, but never out of Buenas Aires north to Brazil. The ship took a long time to sell out, I think for several factors, Americans needed a visa to got to Brazil, the overblown fear of Zika, the expensive cost of flights from North America this time of year, and that it included two holidays that many people spend with family. Because of this the prices went really low and allowed us to upgrade from a obstructed porthole window to a mini suite. Then after final reduction two months out we splurged for a penthouse suite. The ship is usually at least 50% English speaking passengers but with the reluctance of the North Americans to book this cruise there were only 120 English speakers on board. Personally, I thought that made it more fun. Room 9076 was a dream. An aft suite with a separate bedroom, huge bathroom with full size jetted tub, and a balcony that was incredible. The extra services that came with the room like a butler and concierge were nice but did not add that much to the value of the room itself. I know some people complain that NCL nickel and dimes you on their cruises, but I just don't find that to be true. Most everyone gets a free drink package when you make your reservation. If you want better food at dinner, you. buy a specialty restaurant package. The tours are very overpriced and it is worth it to use Cruise Critic or other means to make tour plans on your port stops. The Spa is expensive as well, but no more so than other cruise lines. On any cruise you take there will be a daily service charge added to you account, be ready for that. They don't allow bottled water to be brought onto the ship anymore, so you bring a large water bottle and fill it up on board. I can assure that the water on board is cleaner than most American cities. With the unusual number of Latino's on this cruise, I thought the cruise director and his staff could have done a better job with the music, even if it was just with a DJ. British Rockers just didn't cut it. Other than that, we love the ship. It is not too big. There is always room where ever you want to go. Remember if your going south around the tip of South America the pool area is not covered. The staff has always been incredibly helpful and considerate and will keep us coming back. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
My adult niece and I both live in Maryland so sailing from Baltimore eliminated a long drive or a flight. We drove in the morning of cruise, arriving around 11:30am. Dropping of luggage, parking car and entering cruise terminal took all of ... Read More
My adult niece and I both live in Maryland so sailing from Baltimore eliminated a long drive or a flight. We drove in the morning of cruise, arriving around 11:30am. Dropping of luggage, parking car and entering cruise terminal took all of 10 minutes. There was no wait to reach the security screener other than guests in front of us had to dig for their set sail and passports. Once inside we completed our health forms and were directed to the suite line. We were in a Junior Suite and I am diamond plus, niece is platinum. No wait to reach an agent and on the ship by 12:05. Using the lower gangway puts you on the ship on deck 1. We elected to take the steps to deck 4 to the R bar to wait for staterooms to be ready. Settled down to enjoy the ship and have our welcome aboard cocktails, Cosmo for me and white wine for niece. Shortly after 1pm we made our way to deck 8 and our lovely stateroom. Dropped our backpacks and headed to windjammer for a little something to hold us til 5:30 fixed seating. Not very busy at that time but very few clean tables. Then back to stateroom to see if luggage had arrived. Out of 6 bags 3 were there! Wandered the ship until 3ish then headed to cabin to get our coats for muster drill at 3:15pm. Fortunately we were on the sunny side of the ship and it was almost hot standing there. Lesson learned, don't arrive on time, that is 3:15pm. We stood there until 3:40pm before the announcements and instructions were made. Fortunately it was over at 3:45pm. Made our way to deck 10 for sail away. By this time the sun was going down and it was getting cold. When we hadn't pulled away from the pier by 4:30 we gave up and went to our cabin. I had hoped to watch us go under the Key Bridge but our 5:30 dining time came before we sailed. We had a great time and booked the same cruise for next year. Biggest issue I had was our next door neighbors, the cabin just forward of ours, was smoking on the veranda. Called guest services the first night to complain. I was told to stick my head around the divider and determine if they were in fact the smokers! I advised that was not my responsibility to confront other guests. Went to bed determined to track down the Hotel Director in the morning. On our first sea day I opened the veranda door to enjoy the view and was met by cigarette smoke. Called the front desk to complain and with in 5 minutes two security officers were knocking on our door. They went out on our balcony and stuck their heads arounds and saw the people smoking! Officer advised the guests she would be right over to speak with them. She advise us the matter would be resolved and I would not have to call again. Taken care of! Thank you RCI. Dining - We had 5:30 fixed seating and loved it. Always finished in time if we wanted to see the early show. Dinner in the MDR was hit or miss. We found it best to order 2 entrees. I loved Izumi, ate there once, niece loved Giovanni's - ate there twice, Chops was good - had one meal there. Most of our breakfasts were in the MDR, love being served and the food was hot. Lunch was in the WJ, found the MDR lunch menu to be very limited. Issue in WJ was finding a clean table. Only once during the entire cruise did a staff person ask if we wanted a coffee or water refill in the WJ. Entertainment - Did not go to production shows. The headliner entertainers were good to great. Surprisingly loved the 'unexpected boys' and the adult comedian. Rosario Strings and the piano entertainer in the Schooner Bar were my favorites. I loved quiet evenings in the Viking Crown Lounge. Service - The crew were wonderful. Always a smile, Merry Christmas or Happy New Year. Ports and Shore Excursions - Loved Antigua and St Maarten, they about my favorite stops. Used ship excursions for St Thomas and Antigua for beach trips. Kids - We had just over 500 children onboard and I was surprised how little I saw or heard any. It wasn't until the last day we ran into the 'packs of tweens'. Wonderful holiday cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
good value for the dollar we got two holidays in one trip. The dining was our only issue, the waiter was not very friendly or sociable just stuck to his job and staff was under sized as our waiter's helper had 4 tables to handle ... Read More
good value for the dollar we got two holidays in one trip. The dining was our only issue, the waiter was not very friendly or sociable just stuck to his job and staff was under sized as our waiter's helper had 4 tables to handle when they normally have two . My request on first dining seating for raw sugar was quickly shot down as our waiter said they were out of that kind and should be getting some tomorrow so i was like ok. Next evening at dinner same story so i questioned why the windjammer has tons of raw sugar, he had no explanation and walk away at that time i said to my wife" I am tired of this crap" and I was going to customer service to complain,when out of nowhere the helper brings the sugar and never had a issue with sugar the rest of cruise. Now the food from start to finish of cruise was always lukewarm and is unacceptable,I said something to head waiter but that was useless, one night I ordered the meatballs and they were raw inside, head waiter got me new order and same thing raw inside,so he got me 3rd order except this time had more gravy on top, when cut open raw again he said they all are like that, to dip in gravy you will never see the color, then walked away. I could not believe what he said, after all the warnings about eating undercooked food. Ship overall is in average shape and could use some updating, showers are too small and the shower curtain stuck to you like glue. Toilets wont flush at times seems like maintenance is fixing them all the time. Shore excursions where costly, certain taxis were costly when doing your own thing, we did group tours which were reasonable from 15 to 40 a person.The galley tour n brunch was well worth the 20 bucks,fillet mignon was on the menu all you can eat, highly recommend.Staff was friendly and very helpful.Shows were very good .Overall I have been on this ship 3 times and this was the worst for food quality and dinner service. The park cafe is the pits,they have no wraps, no turkey, no made to order sandwiches unless it was a panini,the burgers,fries,hot dogs,pizza was always cold. Younger kids constantly ran around the ship some were pressing the elevator buttons some just causing noise. I would do cruise again as this was the first time for some issues that we did not experience on prior cruises with this ship. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Have to say our room attendant, waiters and drink waiter staff of an evening made a trip amazing, nothing was too much of a problem and they went beyond to make a cruise memorable. Overall our cruise was great, ship was spotless, food ... Read More
Have to say our room attendant, waiters and drink waiter staff of an evening made a trip amazing, nothing was too much of a problem and they went beyond to make a cruise memorable. Overall our cruise was great, ship was spotless, food was great, entertainment of a night some were great others alright then some that we walked out on, everyone's tastes are different, what we don't like others may love, overall a very relaxing 12 days. Now for the downside, I would suggest you not get involved in the up sell. I was lucky enough to win a spa prize which was for a $100 US dollars treatment, was really looking forward to this but when attending I was told the treatment was $168 US dollars ok that find but you have to pay Gratuities on your prize which was $29.53 US dollars, sort of left a bad taste in my mouth, then they tried to sell me products at a price of $880 US dollars odd, yeah right. They also have guessing competions in regards to Jewellery and watches, you are lead to believe that is what you are going to win, wrong, what you receive is a very cheap piece of cheap jewellery eg, pretend Pandora bracelet that they sell for roughly $19 US dollars Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
This was my first time on Princess cruises, and I must say i was not disappointed. On the first night at dinner I was sat at a table of other solo travellers all aged between 64 and 86. I have no complaints regarding the Dawn Princess, ... Read More
This was my first time on Princess cruises, and I must say i was not disappointed. On the first night at dinner I was sat at a table of other solo travellers all aged between 64 and 86. I have no complaints regarding the Dawn Princess, yes she is showing signs of wear and tear but aren',t we all as we age. Christmas was very well done especially for the children. New Year was so much fun up on the pool deck.I would choose Princess in a flash and recommend them to anyone asking my opinion.If I had to gripe it was that my cabin was smaller then other cruise ships I have been on.I loved Jo LIttle, Babbba and Fusion class acts in the Theatre.A huge thank you to our waiters Tyrone and Raj, you certainly made mealtimes pleasant. Also to Runiel who kept my cabin spotless he was always smiling The problem I had with my lights was fixed promptly and.the follow up from customer service very good.especially the chocolates. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
The reason we choose this cruise, well just to be away from the family for a change over the Christmas & New Year and we were not disappointed The ship & crew were fantastic, the food again was really, really great with plenty ... Read More
The reason we choose this cruise, well just to be away from the family for a change over the Christmas & New Year and we were not disappointed The ship & crew were fantastic, the food again was really, really great with plenty to choose from The ship was decked out in Christmas decorations & New years eve was a blast, with great entertainment on the Lido pool deck Fiji was not to our liking due to the locals being a little over the top. Mystery Island was a blessing however. Maybe we should have done some shore excursions as some of the other passengers did and were very pleased with their decision. Also met up with some great passengers and had a very good time. We had a great choice of food with goose for Christmas eve & the Pinnacle grill was fantastic with great food & service. To sum it up, we loved the cruise, the staff, the service and the people. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
This was our third cruise on Sun Princess. After touring the South Pacific in Dec. 2013, and New Zealand in Dec. 2014, Xmas and the new year 2016 seemed like a good choice. Boarding was not a problem, having been warned of later ... Read More
This was our third cruise on Sun Princess. After touring the South Pacific in Dec. 2013, and New Zealand in Dec. 2014, Xmas and the new year 2016 seemed like a good choice. Boarding was not a problem, having been warned of later boarding times due to necessary cleaning regarding norovirus presence. The same happened for the previous two trips, so no surprises there. Once aboard, we went straight to our cabin to ready for dinner. The Marquis dining room was as expected, and after some negotiation, we had a table for the two of us; very accommodating Maitre De, many thanks. All our main meals were had there; excellent cuisine, and excellent waiter and his assistant. For breakfast and lunch, Horizons was our choice; select your own food combinations for your pleasure. Most serving staff were of good nature, but several seemed rather tired and a little snappy at times. Understandable, and easier to ignore. During the first few days at sea, there was an ever present odor in the passageway of deck 11, Aloha between the forward elevators and our cabin. The cabin staff appologised for the problem, which took nearly three days to rectify. I'm afraid urea is not a pleasant experience for any person. A short time after that, My wife and I came down with what was 'diagnosed' as norovirus by the duty nurse. Neither of us was seen by this 'nurse'. We were confined to our cabin for 24 hours, a necessary precaution. A package of capsules was sent to each of us to help plug each end, so to speak. Gastro Stop is still Gastro Stop even by any other name.Since my wife was still feeling 'off' afterward, we were confined for another 24 hours. Fair enough, we did not wish to be responsible for other passengers discomfort. At this stage, we had to utilize room service for our meals. The selection is a little restricted compared to the main dining, but quite adequate particularly under the circumstance. After another day and a bit passed, we had not been contacted by the duty 'nurse', so I rang the medical rooms to confirm we were feeling good again. We were allowed out once more. Good cheer. With that episode behind us, it was time to enjoy the rest of the journey. Most of our evenings were spent at Crooners after dinner. Maurizzio is the main attraction for entertainment there. One can join in with the songs, dancing and chit-chat with other passengers. The majority of bar staff we found to be accommodating. The International Cafe we found to be crowded at the best of times, unless very late into the night. Not an overly important issue since there are other places to have a coffee. Could not say much for the shore excursions; Komodo Island was fully booked before we boarded the ship - limited visitors allowed on the island at any given time. Fair enough. Bali (Benoa) was the fun stop. It allowed my wife to buy some presents for the rellies after our return. She also enjoyed a full body massage, bless her little cotton socks. The only other stop we went shore-bound was Macassa. Since it was raining mostly, we spent about one hour walking near the port. Missed the markets due to poor information, but no loss, didn't spend anything there. Overall, we found the cost of excursions via Princess to be overpriced. On our NZ trip, we arranged tours on shore, most costing better than 50% less. Since the main reason for this cruise was to unwind after a heavy working year, (yes, not all of us oldies are retirees) we didn't need to rush around with activities so much. We met with several couples to share our and their stories and experiences. Back in Fremantle, disembarking was the easiest part; straight through from ship to shore. Uber took a little bit longer. Overall, we will travel again, but will try other lines as well to get a better feel for them in all fairness. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We travelled with three couples who are all good friends. We were booked in Aqua class and there were various comments among us regarding the value. We absolutely loved Blu, the diningroom designated to be used by Aqua cabin ... Read More
We travelled with three couples who are all good friends. We were booked in Aqua class and there were various comments among us regarding the value. We absolutely loved Blu, the diningroom designated to be used by Aqua cabin passengers. The room is smaller than the main dining room, service top notch and I think the food is prepared in a different kitchen. We generally had breakfast there as well, fresh orange juice, yum..and Nice and quiet. I used the Persian Gardens almost daily, nice heated beds, steam and sauna looking out over the ocean, and the other perk is the shower in our cabin that had jets of water for the body and overhead. We did have lunch in the buffet. Because Blu was so good, we did not feel like we needed go to any of the private, extra charge dining rooms. Our friends, on the other hand, did not see the value. They said they are not foodies, don't care where they eat as "food is food" and there is plenty everywhere. They used the Persian Garden only once. And the third couple loved Blu and never used the Persian Garden. So, everyone is different. The ship itself was kept very clean. We were in the casino a few evenings and it was quite busy. The shows were hit and miss. The entertainment we enjoyed were In the Skydeck at 10 p.m. Almost nightly. Live Music, a bit of a show by the dancers, and the guests joining in, or just watching. The gym is large and very busy in the morning. More equipment available later. New Years Eve was magical, dancing and singing out on the deck with at least 1200 people on a warm Caribbean night under the stars. The band played for all age groups. Only minor issues were: Disembarkation was very, very slow getting through customs. I think it was because it was New Year's Day and they were short staffed. Chairs on the deck at the pool was a challenge ...people 'saved' seats by putting down towels and books, then left,..and lots of times those spots were vacant for hours. Not a great system. All in all, we complained that we had nothing to complain about. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We have previously completed HAL cruises to Myanmar and Hong Kong from Singapore. This Indonesia cruise was the missing link. We have been to Singapore many, many times. Stayed at Sofitel So. The only highlights were the Telok Ayer Food ... Read More
We have previously completed HAL cruises to Myanmar and Hong Kong from Singapore. This Indonesia cruise was the missing link. We have been to Singapore many, many times. Stayed at Sofitel So. The only highlights were the Telok Ayer Food Market next door to the hotel. and the Botanic Gardens. Most ports of call were forgettable with heavy traffic. Shuttles only went to shopping malls. Lombok was the highlight. Komodo Island lizards are not much bigger than our large monitor lizards and much smaller than our crocodiles. We highly recommend Putu Supartana, a private driver in Bali (putusupartana@yahoo.com). He intimately knows the island, will recommend places to visit and can bypass the horrible traffic congestion. Overall an average cruise. HAL service is becoming less customer focussed but the ship staff were still excellent. Port information was minimal but port transfers were good. We did not do any ship excursions as they are too expensive and poor value. Other passenger statements reflected a lot of time in traffic on shore excursions. Main dining room food was good but the Pinnacle Grill needs to change its menu as it is still the same from 3 cruises ago. The lack of a cocktail of the day was a disappointment. Oceanview cabin better than other cruise lines and cabin staff excellent. Nightly entertainment was average. Two local culture shows were poor. Being a christmas/new year cruise the number of children was relatively low, unobtrusive and well behaved. A typical mid-60's HAL crowd. We would not do this cruise again as the ports of call are poor. However Indonesia is our nearest neighbour and we have been to more interesting, less tourist orientated places. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
This is a fantastic cruise company for seniors or people who like a slower pace, (perfect for me, as I love taking photos). They accommodate physical disabilities as much as possible throughout the trip. Children were rare, but the crew ... Read More
This is a fantastic cruise company for seniors or people who like a slower pace, (perfect for me, as I love taking photos). They accommodate physical disabilities as much as possible throughout the trip. Children were rare, but the crew made a special effort to find activities and food they would enjoy. Special diets can be accommodated. The locations they stop include plantations, museums and national parks. There is time to go to the local towns, with shuttle service. You will never be hungry on this trip: breakfast, warm cookies at 10:00, lunch, Tea Time, Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres and dinner. Open seating in the dining room. Balcony for every stateroom. On board they have bingo, lectures, and evening entertainment. It was a Christmas trip to remember: carolers greeted us as we boarded, decorations, food, the opportunity to attend Christmas Eve service and even gifts! The crew was the most cheerful and attentive I have experienced with any cruise line. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Party of four left on 19 December for 7 day cruise aroiund Arabian Cost, visiting Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhadi, Oman. This sis a noisy boneshaker of a ship. We had to change cabins as the engine noise kept us awake all night, the heavy ... Read More
Party of four left on 19 December for 7 day cruise aroiund Arabian Cost, visiting Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhadi, Oman. This sis a noisy boneshaker of a ship. We had to change cabins as the engine noise kept us awake all night, the heavy vibrations didnt help either. bWe finished up in a small cabin down in the bilges, but at least it was quiet. Meals in the Meridian Restaurant were small portions, and not very good. One meal my Beef Wellington was red raw and my wife's was overcooked. Most evenings we had our meal then went to the buffet restaurant for a top up. Itinery for Xmas Day was changed and we visited a Village with no shops, no beach, no places to visit. We all immediately returned on the bus to the ship. Xmas day entertrainment was a silly sketch related stint lasting about 30 minutes. Xmas dinner was no different to any other night. The day befor our return we started to get sore throats and chests. All four of us have had to have medical treatment and have been really poorly for over a week. A lot of passengers were feeling the same. This ship needs retiring, it is years past its best. Will never use Thomson againb. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Wow so much to say. came into Sydney harbour by river ferry coming around the back and side of this amazing ship. Boarding was a breeze a few rather long queues but that was to be expected as the ship had to board three and a half thousand ... Read More
Wow so much to say. came into Sydney harbour by river ferry coming around the back and side of this amazing ship. Boarding was a breeze a few rather long queues but that was to be expected as the ship had to board three and a half thousand people. once we were finally through the Embarkation process walking across the gangway was so nerve racking wondering what is the ship going to be like? what awaits us just around the corner? when we got around that corner and set foot on-board the truly amazing M/S Emerald Princess we certainly were not disappointed it was beautiful as it was a Christmas cruise there was tinsel Christmas trees and all sorts of other decorations everywhere which was a lovely touch. Now to the cabin my first time in an interior cabin so didn't really know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised the cabin was roomy well designed and actually quite a pleasant room although the bathroom as always with cruise ships was tiny. The Dining OMG the choices for dining on-board was incredible, three dining rooms, three specialty restaurants plus the buffet, Café Caribe, the grill, a pizza place/ ice-cream place and a fantastic little café in the Atrium called the International Café a tip book early for Crab Shack, Share and Crown Grill all of which are very popular this can be achieved through the stateroom phone by pressing the dining reservations button or by calling 6219 from any phone on-board (only the stateroom phones have the speed dial function). entertainment and activities the night-time shows is unfortunately where Princess fell short personally I found some of them to be rather amateurish I personally quite enjoyed the Princess signature show Magic To Do although they could have done more to hide the wires, the activities were quite enjoyable especially the trivia which my family spent a lot of time at all in all the entertainment and activities were abit of a let down (the Trivia was fun though). The service WOW each and every crew member was pleasant smiling happy to help you in anyway possible always with a huge smile (especially in the case of Kefang who worked at the international café as a buffet steward she was always smiling) the cruise director Duke and the assistant cruise director Matt were hilarious always cracking jokes and making fun of each other a true delight to be around. The ports and shore excursions WOW WOW WOW New Zealand is an incredible place a truly breathtaking country starting off in the Bay of Islands right up the top of the North Island we did the Waitangi Estuary by sea kayak shore excursion kayaking up to a small waterfall and back with a short break a 2 hour shore excursion truly amazing next was Auckland an unfortunate let-down very much like Sydney not really anything truly exciting there this was followed by the best port of the entire cruise Tauranga where we went to the Tamaki Maori Village just outside Rotorua what a day we were on a bus for about 90 minutes from the berth at Mount Maunganui to Tamaki both the guide and the driver were always cracking jokes and telling us about the areas we were passing which made the bus trip quite enjoyable then we arrived at Tamaki we were met by a traditional Maori welcome ceremony where the Maori warriors made sure that we came in peace and weren't going to attack them which was quite a show we then went into the village and were split up into small groups at which point we went to different huts to learn different things about Maori culture and history which was rather interesting and fun we then went to learn about a traditional hangi which is a Maori way of cooking after this we moved the meeting house where we were entertained through a number of Maori performances including the famous haka and a performance of a Maori love song called Pokarekare Ana after this it was meal time where we enjoyed a traditional Maori hangi feast which was delicious once this was over we had a bit of time to browse the gift shop and take some photos of the village before it was time to head back to the ship we said goodbye to Tamaki and headed out to the bus we then commenced the 90 minute return journey to Mount Maunganui berth where our ship was docked during this trip we were given a bit of a private performance with our guide singing some Maori songs until we reached Rotorua and she was dropped off we then went for a drive through the nearby gardens and had a look at a rather large building within the gardens before continuing our journey back. next was Christmas Day which was a sea day transiting between the north and south islands Christmas day was quiet and relaxing which was nice it was also a formal night there was Santa's arrival Christmas carols and much more our next port was Picton where we went on a hike and scenic cruise up the queen charlotte track and sound which was beautiful after this relatively easy hike and scenic cruise we were dropped off in the Picton township and had a bit of a look around a market and the town which was quite a nice quaint little rural New Zealand town right on the water which was lovely. Our next port was Wellington which is of course New Zealand's national capital and an awesome city first thing we did was get the famous cable car up the hill and walked back down through the botanical gardens which were really pretty after this we walked around the great city and had very necessary retail therapy we also enjoyed some on NZ's famous fush and chups as they would say we returned to the ship happy and content after a great day looking around an awesome city. next was Akaroa a quaint little French town quite a nice place actually at this port we did the double decker bus tour which was quite enjoyable during this tour we travelled form Akaroa to the famous hilltop hotel for a photo opportunity and pit stop we travelled through a number of quaint little towns the view from the hilltop hotel was breathtaking right over the many bays. Next was our final port of the cruise Dunedin a lovely small Scottish city with quite a lot to see including a Cadbury chocolate factory (the obvious highlight) as well as a great little Scottish shop quite a nice little southern New Zealand city. our final day in New Zealand was spent on a scenic cruise through the absolutely amazing Fiordland National Park through the dusky doubtful and breathtaking Milford sounds a truly breathtaking part of an amazing country. The next day was New Years Eve and of course it was party time and also the cruises third and final formal night they had three different on-board venues with parties celebrating New Years they were the Piazza, the Wheelhouse bar and the Explorers Lounge the Piazza had a live performance form the Emerald Princess party band (Liquid Blue) and a gold and silver balloon drop at the stroke of midnight a great night all in all. Our final night on-board was when my family went to the Share by Curtis Stone specialty restaurant located on deck 16 aft a truly amazing restaurant the six course meal was exquisite and the service was impeccable and the restaurant itself was beautifully designed. all in all a very very enjoyable cruise would definitely recommend Princess Cruises to anyone who wishes to have a relaxing luxurious and enriching cruise. Disembarkation was a breeze as well in and out of the terminal in less than half an hour. Would I travel with Princess Cruises again in short yes definitely although it is not my kind of line as I prefer to have activities galore, water parks, water slides heaps of pools a young persons fun cruise I would definitely go with princess again. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We are 2 women. I am in my late fifties, my travelling companion in her seventies. Originally my parents (also in their seventies) were to join us for the cruise in the adjacent mini-suite, but had to cancel at the last minute due to an ... Read More
We are 2 women. I am in my late fifties, my travelling companion in her seventies. Originally my parents (also in their seventies) were to join us for the cruise in the adjacent mini-suite, but had to cancel at the last minute due to an urgent health issue. This has no bearing on my review of this particular cruise. My companion had never cruised or left Australia before. I am an experienced traveller, often solo. This was my first ocean cruise. Previously I have cruised for up to 14 days on a small ship expedition off Kimberley WA coast and a river cruise in Russia. We are both of average fitness with no mobility problems. We chose the New Zealand itinerary over Christmas for the ports and shore excursions available around New Zealand sailing out of Sydney Harbour and the personal recommendation of at least 6 people regarding Princess Cruises. We used the Princess Sydney Airport shuttle bus both ways. Both the embarkation and disembarkation process and passenger experience was severley compromised by poor communication, lackadaisical service and in fact misinformation on the part of Princess staff/contractors on the ground and on board ship. We had been upgraded to Club Class - thank you - but were not informed of this until we had been standing in various queues for more than 3 hours at the Sydney terminal. There was nothing on the Cruise Personaliser and we or our travel agent were not informed. We were told to get into one queue and then another and then we were appartently in the wrong queue. Honestly this mob could not run a chook raffle. We were even told at one point that they had run out of trolleys - "go and look after your own bags" - after being told by another Princess staffer that they would be looked after between getting on the bus and cabin. Then after considerable panic, some nice young man turned up with more trolleys. The beginning of the cruise was marred considerably as it took my companion the first 3 days to get over it! Disembarkation was just as disorganised. We had done everything we had been told - as always - to the letter. We were called "light blue 6" so we made our way to where we were told only to be told by Security to "wait until you are called" We said "We have been called". We made our way down to the luggage and mine went missing for more than an hour. Another woman and I were both given "lost luggage vouchers" before some sheepish young bloke turned up with my bag. As far as i know, the other woman is still waiting. Cabin (mini-suite) OK, maitenance very poor. Shower/bath outlet blocked so showering in ankle deep water that took up to 20 minutes to drain (after 2 minute shower) - plumber materialised 48 hours after complaint - apparently no one had noticed prior to this. Speaking to other women on cruise - this is the first thing that they check - they clean their own outlet pipe of hair and other debris left by previous occupants! Yuck!!!!! Toilet broke while room steward on time off (Day 5 Auckland). Bowl overflowing and down back wall. Managed to stop before the dirty deluge reached the carpet, after wading in - not happy. Paged steward - no answer - pager clearly not put through to anyone else. Contacted Passenger Services and demanded help - not taken seriously. Plumber took 3.5 hours to arrive. Strange little man came to mop up water - did not clean bowl. Eventually saw supervisor 3 days later, who called me a liar - not a high point Princess! Complimentary bottle of cheap wine not really appreciated after that experience! Food repitive, average, sometimes poor - inedible - even CS Share. Room service - most times something - like milk - left off tray. Entertainment disappointing. High point of trip - the marvelous Ana (Club Class dining room hostess). Perhaps Princess need to make her a trainer in customer service and common sense! On-shore excursions generally as expected although expensive for what is provided. Akaroa - Southern Alps including train to Arthur's Pass. As with all the excursions considerably overpriced. I might be nice to at least get a biscuit to go with the cold weak coffee. Disappointing when driver left an elderly couple behind with their bags and coats still on bus after 5 minute photo stop. They could both be clearly seen by all of the other 20 passengers on this particular bus hurrying back to whithin 2 metres of the bus front door! Driver told repeatedly, but they were left to catch up at next stop an hour or so later on another bus - not good enough! Driver's name - Gary. He was clearly seen being interviewed for the "Reflections" DVD for this cruise. In Dunedin after city tour, bemused when "complimentary shuttle bus back to ship" costs $10 NZ one way! Bemused when on boarding found "gift for you" card for prepaid internet access. Apparently they were the "only cards that we had printed". People who had prepaid drinks packages had to ask for refunds as it was cheaper to arrange on board. Far too often there were language problems including incorrect drinks orders - or perhaps just convenient excuse for appalling service. Most of captain's and other announcements not audible from inside room. Some were - why not all? Told by steward to "open the door". If it is important enough to make an anouncement about then it needs to be heard throughout the ship. Sometimes by the time I realised that there was an announcement going on and got to the other end of the long skinny mini-suite to open the door - the announcement was over! The biggest bugbear was the door to our cabin / mini-suite. One or both of our cruise cards needed to be reactivated no less than seventeen (yes 17) times for the 14 days or our cruise to operate the door. Strangely the magnetic strip worked just fine for everything else - only the door was a problem! Just as well as my companion used hers to spend an awful lot of money in the ship's retail precinct. That was the only time except overnight on the bedside table away from lights etc. that she removed the lanyard from around her neck - as for both of us. She doesn't actually carry a phone and her bag did NOT have a magnet! It got to the stage that my companion would not leave the room without me for fear of not being able to get back in. We made contingency plans so that we did not miss various bookings because we couldn't get timely entrance to our room. Each foray into the queue at Passenger Services took from 5 - 30 minutes. Yes - I timed it! Yes, I, in particular do understand the concept of magnets, phones etc. as I hold post-graduate university qualifcations in medical physics. Other passengers also had problems with their doors and batteries etc were replaced - particularly if at least one of the passsengers was male! I have never had this problem before and no - I do not believe that this was our fault. Twice we were told that this would be checked out - it was not and of course on the last morning of the cruise my companion's card ceased to work yet again - right on queue! It was particularly disheartening to see our cabin steward and one of his nasty little mates appearing to have a good laugh at my elderly companion attempting to gain entrance to her own room and failing. It may be fine in some cultures to treat middle-aged and elderly wormen as invisible - not in mine. Please remember that it is my generation and older particularly in Australia and like countries who DO have the disposable income along with the opportunity, health and fitness in retirement to use it; but we are choosey where we spend it - and we are becoming silent no more regarding poor service and downright rudeness. "Princess Cruises - Come back New"...................... Princess Cruises - Come back broke and disappointed! Princess Cruises - don't come back at all! Read Less

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