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304 Holiday Cruise Reviews

The first impression upon walking through the corridors was the smell of perspiration; then the second is the smell of perspiration in our room. Then the strong smell of perspiration on our pillows. We asked for new ones, and were given ... Read More
The first impression upon walking through the corridors was the smell of perspiration; then the second is the smell of perspiration in our room. Then the strong smell of perspiration on our pillows. We asked for new ones, and were given four "new" ones that still smelled awful. I asked our steward to please get us new ones, from a new sealed package. This seemed to do the trick, but then they changed the pillows several times during our 11-day trip, and we got the sweaty smelly ones again. I realize they have a short time to clean the rooms before the next group of travellers get on board, but the ship rugs, upholstery, and mattresses need a good cleaning and the pillows need to be replaced with new ones. It really ruined our trip. The food in the two main dining rooms was good and staff was wonderfully pleasant and couldn't do enough for you. The dining room that had the buffet style dining was a mad-house, and we didn't eat there again. The food at the buffet was good, and plenty of variety, but it was so crowded that they kept running out of silverware and coffee. Shows were awful in the beginning of the cruise, (we actually got up and left, as did others), but got better as cruise went along. We were on the cruise for Christmas week and were disappointed with the decorating. A little more effort would have been appreciated. We were with another couple and they had the same complaints. I don't usually complain about things, but the smell thing really turned me off. I guess you get what you pay for ($609 for 11 days) Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
The Ecstasy is an older ship, even though it had a recent upgrade with painting and carpeting changes. But it is old. Nothing in the cabin lavatory works correctly. toilet does not clear everything, Sink lights are burnt out. No glassware. ... Read More
The Ecstasy is an older ship, even though it had a recent upgrade with painting and carpeting changes. But it is old. Nothing in the cabin lavatory works correctly. toilet does not clear everything, Sink lights are burnt out. No glassware. Hardly any storage space. Sink stopper when activated, will not release. Don't turn shower up to 50 degrees, you will not be able to turn it back to a normal temperature. Other then these inconveniences the room was ok. A bit small. No refrig. No ice bucket. Did have a safe. Little storage space. But comfortable. Some sound from thrusters when docking. Occasional wave sounds hitting the sides. 2 Portholes give good light and vision. I don't know if it was the Xmas holiday, or if it was normal, but the main entertainment was pretty poor. Singing and dancing was not good (maybe these were holiday substitutes). And the shows were inconveniently schedules between the main dining seating times. Other on board entertainment was good, lots of variety for everyone, and the adult comedy shows seemed to be the best attended. Food in general was just OK. Breakfast: bacon was as thin and greasy as can be. Take the ham instead. Eggs were good. Stay away from any potatoes. Pastries must have been purchased a week ago. Everything else was so-so. Ice Cream was a big breakfast hit for the kids. Main dining dinners had limited selections, and the meats had little taste. Nothing to write home about. Deserts were not spectacular and had little taste. Lunch: fresh deli sandwich were always great, as well as the 24hr. Pizza. Lunch Cuisine varied daily French, American, Asian, etc. but had little variety. Hamburgers and Hot Dogs and Chicken Strips were always popular by the pool. Key West was ... Key West. It has not changed much. Just enough time in port to get off, do some shopping, walk around the old town and to Hemingway's House, then time to get back on the ship and depart. Cozumel was a long stay, but docket after noon. Little time to take a long tour to the ruins as sundown was just a few hours away, so had to stay close. Walked and shopped around town, and spent some time at Senor Frogs for some good food and a big drink. Ship was unable to leave the dock. It tried for about 5 minutes, but the winds were too strong and kept us at the dock. Three hours later, with all propellers and thrusters at peak, we were able to back out of the port, and kept going backwards for quite sometime, until we were able to turn around without drifting into something !! 50 mph head winds kept the waves hitting the sides, and the ship rocking and rolling slightly. As it was past midnight when we left, it was very nice sleeping. As it was Xmas, there was lots of caroling in the main lobby, Songbooks were passed out, and everyone participated. Very well done. All in all, a memorable trip.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Our room steward was silent and unseen. That was strangely neat! The dining staff in The Windjammer were VERY accommodating! I have been cruising since the early 90's and I can truly say that it (cruising) has changed dramatically. ... Read More
Our room steward was silent and unseen. That was strangely neat! The dining staff in The Windjammer were VERY accommodating! I have been cruising since the early 90's and I can truly say that it (cruising) has changed dramatically. We are no longer treated as "special guests" and there is now a price on everything. (Not really "all-inclusive" anymore) I was disappointed in how many times that I was "cut-off" by a ship employee, or witnessed other cruisers being placed "second" by the ship staff. In the past (other cruise lines) the staff allowed customers first in every aspect. The bartenders came off as borderline arrogant and condescending in nature. The excursion staff seemed to attempt to resolve issues, and although I think their hands were tied (by Royal Caribbean port scheduling) I feel they could have dome more to help us. At no time, did I feel that Royal Caribbean was truly happy that I was there. I am an out-going type "A" personality and have a difficult time finding people that I DON'T like, but I found myself "searching" for someone with the positive attitude of going "above and beyond" in their job. Sadly, it was not on Royal Caribbean. This past cruise has encouraged me to look into all-inclusive resorts for my next vacation. I come from the service industry, so I have higher expectations, but my group of eight people felt the same way I do. I am taking the time to say all of this in hopes of you being able to investigate and address issues and create a more inviting experience for cruisers like me. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Ship information - Elation is one of the older ships in Carnival's fleet (1998) and it shows. Out toilet would not flush one night but was fixed soon after we called. At night you hear groans and noises from the older ship. There was ... Read More
Ship information - Elation is one of the older ships in Carnival's fleet (1998) and it shows. Out toilet would not flush one night but was fixed soon after we called. At night you hear groans and noises from the older ship. There was not a running track that encompassed the ship. There was ample deck seating and 2 pools. There was a small water slide for people taller than 48 inches. Activities - Standard cruise activities. Offered kids and teen camps. Adult only (Serenity) area existed but was not very large (80 people max) and had only 2 hot tubs and no pool. Serenity area was at back of ship but not secluded as multiple decks over looked the area. Mini-golf course, VB, and basketball courts where also present. Port & shore excursions - Standard cruise excursions. We booked the Progreso excursion off ship and had a great private tour with Lawsons. Booked local tequila tour in Cozumel with Carnival that was pretty bad. 3 of the 4 local tour guides called in sick...seems the had too much to drink on Christmas Eve. Carnival did contact the your company and got refunded 50%. Better then nothing. Travel to embarkation Port - New Orleans has a $14 flat rate tax ride from airport to port. This is kinda lame since many other cities have a flat rate for the cab of around $20. I guess we have to pay for pumps to keep the city from being flooded ;) Try to pick a hotel with free airport shuttles and then taxi to port from there. Cabin - Our 4A cabin showed its age but actually was a bit more spacious than other ones in this class. Non of the room had mini-refrigerators. You could call and get a blow driers if desired since none were there initially. Cabin stewards as always where friendly and accommodating. No balconies rooms exist on the side of the ship. Dining - Main dining was good but not as great as on other ships. We had meals each night where we needed to order other entries since the initial one was lacking. They did have creme brulee the last night but the desserts were prep'ed too early and the topping was soggy (like oatmeal). Also the ship being older did not have any themed up-charge restaurants so the main dining menu had a small up-charge section where you could get $20 lobsters and such. The buffets were good and had specialty sections but did close at times during the day. Children's clubs - Children and teen clubs existed. our granddaughter went to camp carnival from time to time but did spend more time with us then in the club. Not sure if this was because she was the only kids on the trip or the club was not exciting. Entertainment - I've have taken several cruises in the past 5 years and Carnival has been my favorite. What impressed me about Carnival has been the value of the entertainment. The combo of exciting nightly feature acts and George Lopez comedians has been a winner for me. Unfortunately on the 12/22/2014 cruise on both Christmas eve and Christmas Day (both port days) the main entrainment was non-existant / very, very sub standard. To be exact on 12/24 the Mikado (main room) event was 7:45pm Michael Jackson Trivia and 8:15pm Michael Jackson Thriller dance contest, followed by bingo. Then at 11pm one comedy event happened (not the 4 that usually happen nightly). Then on 12/25 at 8pm "Guess that song 90's" and 8:30 "disco dance class" with no comedians at all. To be honest these are 2pm shows on sea days NOT main event on holidays. In essence on the 2 biggest nights of the cruise there was nothing substantial to do and it was noticed my all 14 of us on the trip. This experience has left a very sour taste in my mouth and makes me doubt Carnival a lot now. Also the comedians were not switched out during the cruise. Usually when at a port (like Cozumel where different Carnival ship where docked) the comedians are swapped to make it better for both ships. This did not happen and added to the entertainment disappointment. Disembarkation - Standard practices followed. Carnival offered early self disembarkation for people with needs. This process helped us so we were in taxi's by 8:30 and at the airport by 9. Summary - My least favorite cruise of all 6 that I've done. The lack of decent main entertainment ruined it for me. Did anyone else experience on a past Elation cruise? Was the entertainment on 12/24 and 12/25 normal for the Elation or were the crew given the nights off? --> If this was the normal cruise then I do not think the cruise was worth the value. --> If the staff had time off over the holidays then I doubt the cruise director. The people on the cruise (me) paid a 2x or 3x premium to be here over Christmas. They could take the extra money they made and hire temporary entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We sailed on NCL - Pride of America for Christmas. Staff was definitely the best I have ever seen and I have been on 7 other cruises with various cruiselines. The ship itself was old and I knew that before hand and the rooms are definitely ... Read More
We sailed on NCL - Pride of America for Christmas. Staff was definitely the best I have ever seen and I have been on 7 other cruises with various cruiselines. The ship itself was old and I knew that before hand and the rooms are definitely tight. We had 4 of us in a rooom, 2 adults, and a 16 and 12 year old. It was manageable but room for all of our stuff was tight, especially in the closet. The only real complaint that I had about the room was that the bathroom always smelt like urine, and my in-laws said the same thing about there room at the other end of the ship! If you are looking for nightly entertainment, this ship is not for you unless you like to just sit in a bar. After the show there really is nothing else to do, which wer were ok with since we are not realy partiers. The ship does get rocking around at night when you are sailing so if you are one who gets sea sick, be prepared. I really didn't think it would be rough, but man was I wrong. The islands were great, but we did have some problem with excersions booked through NCL always running late!!! Also we had booked the Circle of Fire helecopter tour and all of the flights that day were ground due to weather (which apparently happens alot) which I was very dissapointed about, since it was the one thing we were really looking forward to! The food in the restaurants was alright, but nothing great. The main diningroom, seemed like it always had new people working in them and there was always soemthing wrong with our food, or wrong food or no food at all. This happened during breakfest and at dinner. The Cadillac diner had amazing wings!!! This cruise is definitely one you book for the islands so dont expect alot from ship itself, but it is a great way to see Hawaii and the staff definitely help make the ship enjoyable! Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My husband and I have been on 8 cruises. We've not cruised on Carnival in about 10 years. We always defended Carnival when people said they were the "Wal-Mart" of cruising. In the past, the food and service were always ... Read More
My husband and I have been on 8 cruises. We've not cruised on Carnival in about 10 years. We always defended Carnival when people said they were the "Wal-Mart" of cruising. In the past, the food and service were always excellent. Not so this time. We decided to take our daughter and son in law on their first cruise for Christmas. We booked 2 balcony spa cabins which was a blessing as it was quieter and less crowded than other parts of the ship. The service in the dining room was extremely slow and we had to ask for wine each night…it was not offered. Many times we did not get the wine until we were 1/2 way through our meal. The wait staff was not as friendly as in the past. I have to eat gluten free and they would take my order the night before. Every time I ordered beef medium rare, it came well done. The waiters did not understand "gluten free" as they brought me things that were gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and taste free. The dining room seemed very disorganized and there were nights that we were late to the show because we hadn't finished eating. I had heard how "magical" Christmas cruises were…how some people decorated their doors, their cabins and balconies so I purchased SOLAR outdoor Christmas lights and strung them on our balcony. The next morning there were a bunch of crew members outside our door telling us we had violated some rule with the solar Christmas lights. I offered to take them down and put them in my suitcase under the bed, but no…they had to confiscate them. They made me feel terrible. Picking the lights up the morning of debarkation was another nightmare. The quality of the food has gone downhill in my opinion. The entertainment, however, was excellent! The cruise director, Malcolm, was probably the best cruise director we've ever had and the singers/dancers were fabulous. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
The traffic in Miami was horrible! My son dropped myself, his wife and son at terminal about 1:00 pm, went to park car and almost missed the cruise! We actually got on the ship at last minute. Very stressful! I was supposed to have cabins ... Read More
The traffic in Miami was horrible! My son dropped myself, his wife and son at terminal about 1:00 pm, went to park car and almost missed the cruise! We actually got on the ship at last minute. Very stressful! I was supposed to have cabins near each other but ended up on different decks. Wasn' t too happy about that since we had an 8 year old with us. Ship was pretty and decorated nice for the holidays. My grandson had a great time with camp Carnival. The cruise director was fantastic and the band that was on there really good. Guy Fieri's hamburgers were awesome . Can't say much about the buffet. ....not enough choices. I have never seen a buffet that didn't have macaroni & cheese, broccoli, green beans.....things that kids eat....and me too. We ate in the dining room every night which was just OK. Nothing spectacular there. I thought it was very hard to find rest rooms around the ship. We all had a good time with our shore excursions. Had to be back on the ship early in Mahogany Bay, so that was a short day! We carried our own baggage off, so disembarkation was easy. All in all, not the best cruise I've been on, but not the worst either!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
A 4-day "New Year's" cruise on the Imagination out of Long Beach was our first trip with Carnival in a number of years, and overall we were satisfied with the brief jaunt, although there were a couple of annoyances. ... Read More
A 4-day "New Year's" cruise on the Imagination out of Long Beach was our first trip with Carnival in a number of years, and overall we were satisfied with the brief jaunt, although there were a couple of annoyances. Check-in was efficient, our cabin was ready at the advertised time. Our standard "ocean view" cabin on Deck 7, although spare (think Motel 6 décor), was reasonably sized with sufficient room to move around the bed and plenty of closet hanging space, a smallish dresser with stool and a single straight-backed chair. Bath was typically compact but did have a relatively large shower. No fridge/mini-bar, hair dryer available by request. Food is of course a major cruise item, and we were impressed with the dining room offerings. Carnival is slanted toward a youthful demographic so the ambience is somewhat less formal than on some other lines (if that's a priority), but the food & service were uniformly excellent. Ship's staff overall was also universally excellent, friendly and responsive to every request. Never a negative moment throughout the trip. Hard to imagine some other reviewers complained on this score. Entertainment was about what you would expect for a short cruise, with pretty good music offerings in the main showroom tailored to the youngish demographic. These were augmented by a handful of lounge acts that were OK but, let's face it, not particularly impressive. There were a couple of negatives related to internal ship's air processing. First was a lack of cabin temperature control. Weather outside at the time was generally in the low 50's and the cabins have no thermostatic control or heat source, only an airflow restricting knob in the single supply duct. Our cabin was constantly uncomfortably chilly, ranging from 60 to 64 as measured by our neighbor's little travel thermometer. Fine for sleeping but not so good otherwise, and we were told nothing could be done about it. Secondly, for anyone sensitive to cigarette smoke over half of the Promenade deck was no-go territory due to its free sharing of air handling with the tobacco-saturated casino. Most unappetizing, and significant because the Promenade deck is a central component of the ship's indoor public area. A third problem was what I felt was excessive noise in the cabin, which seemed to come from everywhere. Voices & walking in the hallway were conducted in with scarcely any loss. Not quite so bad but still perfectly audible were conversations which strangely were apparently being held in cabins on the deck below us. Thump-thump-rumble music from one of the entertainment venues also located on an entirely different deck precluded sleep one evening but fortunately stopped around 10:30. We could not recall ever being on a ship quite so poorly soundproofed.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Just returned from the Christmas cruise aboard Ventura. I'll will try to summarise my thoughts .... The service from the steward and dining room staff (early sitting) was excellent. The dinning room food in the evening was largely ... Read More
Just returned from the Christmas cruise aboard Ventura. I'll will try to summarise my thoughts .... The service from the steward and dining room staff (early sitting) was excellent. The dinning room food in the evening was largely good with just a few disappointments but in nearly all cases the meat portion was too small. Our D deck cabin was very average with no internet access when the ship was moving, poor maintainance in the bathroom, a faded settee, questionable AC and ridiculous noise from the tender launching process at 7am (!) in Tortola . To add to this the balcony was not at all private with virtually every cabin above it having a birds eye view of us. The balcony was often littered with cigarette butts which I assume came from the rooms above . The guest entertainers were typically good but the production shows were over ambitious given the singers available and their lack of talent . It's takes a brave girl of any description to offer a "tribute" to Karen Carpenter but if they cannot sing well its just not practical and how 3 white guys can try to mimic the Drifters is beyond my comprehension - they must be able to both sing and dance and do both at the same time! The Calypso band that played in various venues was quite good but the rock band much worse. There was a constant problem with the lack of sun beds . This is down to bad deck design or even ship design and poor management - given though P&O can cure this but they have to want to do it. Similarly the show lounge is too small and requires a 3rd nightly show. P&O employ "minders" around the swimming pool whose sole purpose appears to be annoy the kids who are jumping in and out and enjoying themselves. These pool minders even kick out adults in the pool if the appear to jump in, even though they weren't. Making these people redundant would offer a serious cost saving . They could be re employed as traffic wardens where they could irritate a larger number of people and not damage the cruise's reputation. For some reason the hot tubs were often closed for cleaning - even on Christmas Day - is there no planning or consideration given to the days on which this happens? Ship maintenance, such as refreshing of paint, occurred during day hours. Why? Wouldn't it be easier to do this at 5am or when passengers are sleeping rather than make paying passengers move this lounge chair during the day to accommodate ship repairs? The kindergarten now operates a nonsensical process for signing the kids in and out and this needs to be looked at. As it stands a cruise card with a kids club sticker on it is "worth" a child and a signature the same as the one on that card is the only thing required to release the child. If there really is such a problem a picture of the parents maybe more worthwhile. I suspect the process was engineered by someone at a desk with a pen but little or no practical experience. The itinerary worked well except from Christmas Eve in Dominica. As you may know it rains there a lot so to organise Santa's arrival on the open deck as we left was frankly stupid, it was always going to rain and of course the entire event, witnessed by hundreds of families, was a complete wash out. Clearly a different port or venue or time was needed. At Tortola the dock is being rebuilt and is closed for the duration. The itinerary suggested it was a "possible tender" port. It's a definite tender and those on deck 9 should have been warned of the very loud noise and shuddering vibration a 7am when the tenders are launched. To be fair the tender process seemed to worked ok but there is no need to go there at all until the dock is built - there are lots of other islands. There were too many formal nights - 4 in total. This was way too many and should be re thought on family cruises. Given the fact we all had to fly in with the accompanying baggage problems, a clear dress code itinerary would have been useful ahead of the cruise, sadly it's not provided. The passengers were an eclectic mix of pensioners, couples and families with older and or younger children, some of whom were well heeled educated types and many others who could be described as "tattooed wonders", some of the later may perhaps be better served at a guest house in Blackpool or Butlins. I realise P&O is not going to conduct IQ tests on the passengers at the pier prior to boarding but I recommend they think of something before the entire cruise resembles a remand centre. There were too many smokers onboard and now may be the time to ban smoking completely. This would discourage those who need budget fares and relieve non smokers of ash, smell, and dirty ash trays which ruin otherwise useful deck areas. I noticed on a number of occasions that "housekeeping" was not as it could be with abandoned coffee cups left in halls for many hours and festering nappies in lifts. Some of this will be as result of the passenger mix but P&O should know who they sold the cruise to and prepare accordingly. Throughout the cruise the air conditioning did don't seem to work too well. Cruise ships in my experience are typically really quite cool inside but the Ventura was always warm. Even with the AC set to minimum in the cabin it was often too warm to sleep and other passengers who commented on the issue suggested it was a cost cutting measure..... P&O offer what amounts to late check out of the cabin to those who wish to pay for it. The process for this defies belief - as after paying £85 you have to leave the room you've had to the last fortnight together with your hand luggage at 9am and come back an hour later to room a few doors along the hall. If a good hotel offers late check out they let you have the room you are in - it saves preparing it again - and often they do not charge either. On this cruise all the passengers arrive on flights in the later afternoon and those going home need to leave before that. The only explanation for devising such a scheme is to collect cash and generate work for the stewards, it really is that silly. The additional cost restaurants are multiplying - and getting pricey. We went to the "Beach House" where even the burger is £2 extra - over and above the £6 you've just already agreed to. The place is ok but really you should stay with the dining room. Many of the other dining places are much more money and where often empty. Breakfast in the dining room was a slow a prescriptive saga and I see no reason to go there. The buffet arrangement upstairs seems better with plentiful if rather average food but often a shortage of tables unless you go out on the deck and sit in the cigarette smoke and ashtrays. P&O now serve Costa coffee which is big improvement on the liquid served in the buffet. Given their quest to charge for everything they can they should serve it at all the bars and for breakfast at a "nominal charge" of course. The buffet lunches were a bit tedious with the menu only changing a little each day and offering some bizarre choices for a Carribean cruise including faggots and a hotpot! On deck they serve burgers and hotdogs which are quite good but again the lack of tables either with or without smokers is an issue. The reception desk staff were typically polite but often could not answer many questions sensibly and they also had a habit of not answering the phone at all. P&O want you to buy a "wine" package for dinner but while this appears to offer some value the chosen wines are not good and the wine list selection is a better bet albeit at extra cost The beauty parlour prices where laughably high and it's hard to imagine anybody paying them. The return flights on Thomas Cook were only just about acceptable and only because we paid extra for Premium seats. The economy looked too cramped for an 8 hour flight and the food and drink are extra back there too. To add to this if you want to sit together as a family you have to pay another £15 each - each way - £90 for a family of 3!. This is a rip off and those concerned should be ashamed of such fees on families who have, in some cases, already paid £8000+. The gratuity policy appears now to involve charging every adult £55 (for the 2 week cruise) to there account and this covers the gratuities, however what is less clear is who gets the money, how much of it and what happens if you choose to opt out of the £55 deal. I asked for the money to be credited back to the account and it was and I gave cash to the room steward and dining room waiter and his assistant, but if more than those 3 were about to receive from me did they do without and in any event who were they and what is it they did for me? As with so many other silly fees in this world P&O should scrap the gratuity like they have with the one on the bar bill and pay their, largely excellent, service staff a sensible wage. As Ryan Air will tell you making people mad will not generate repeat passengers and P&O should take a good look at what they are doing before the policies get any worse..... I expect I will sail with P&O again - we are booked already but the Ventura will not be on my shortlist and P&O need to sort themselves out if I am to stay a loyal passenger. I am hoping the issues only relate to the Ventura but I am not hopeful.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This is our 5th xmas/new year cruise with Thomson and I am afraid to say probably our last! The staff have changed from being happy/chatty to dull and miserable looking. I am not saying they do not work hard, as most do, but a smile now ... Read More
This is our 5th xmas/new year cruise with Thomson and I am afraid to say probably our last! The staff have changed from being happy/chatty to dull and miserable looking. I am not saying they do not work hard, as most do, but a smile now and then would make all the difference. We found the service to be very poor this year, the entertainment program was repeated exactly for both weeks, except the comedian changed. We enjoyed the food and service in the 4 seasons, however found the service in the 7 seas lacking. The self service option was removed after 2 or 3 days and crew did not know what they were doing most of the time and queuing became the norm. We have only every cruised with Thomson (12+) and up until now loved the product, I have two cruises booked already for next year and unless things improve on the next one, they will be our last! Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We were on the Christmas Cruise to the Canary Islands, we paid the Cunard Fare so we had a very nice cabin with balcony, The food was very good except for Christmas Day we were expecting something a bit special but were disappointed. the ... Read More
We were on the Christmas Cruise to the Canary Islands, we paid the Cunard Fare so we had a very nice cabin with balcony, The food was very good except for Christmas Day we were expecting something a bit special but were disappointed. the entertainment was very poor, in fact, some of it was an insult to our intelligence I have seen better entertainment at children,s parties. Santa visited the ballroom in the afternoon and then nothing , not even a little party for the children, just photographs. The staff were excellent in the dining room and the Lido and the cabin staff. The Entertainment needs shaking up a bit it was very poorly organised especially during the day. We booked a tour before we went on the cruise , it was in la Coruna, what a rip off. it cost us 75 dollars for two, it was an easy walking trip, The tour was for two and a quarter hours and we were stopped for one and a quarter, we went through the empty fish market to a lighthouse which was up a hill we couldn't climb, then on to a café for coffee and cake for 45 mins then 15 mins it took to return to the ship.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We went on the Christmas cruise 2014 with extended family. Embarkation was a nightmare. The worst experience being when we turned over our luggage to be organized and taken on the ship. The man scoffed at our $10 tip for our bags. He ... Read More
We went on the Christmas cruise 2014 with extended family. Embarkation was a nightmare. The worst experience being when we turned over our luggage to be organized and taken on the ship. The man scoffed at our $10 tip for our bags. He actually said that if we wanted our bags safely on board it wasn't much of a tip! We gave him more to make sure our bags got onboard... After proceeding through the chaos of the line of cattle we finally got to our rooms. The rooms were fine. The were clean, the room steward was great. Food was great. We chose to eat most of our meals in the garden cafe (the buffet). We did eat in the Venetian 3 nights, which turned out to be a 3 hour event. Not our cup of tea, but I'm sure some people love waiting for tiny servings. At least we did have another option. Entertainment. Wow. I felt like I was at our home town high school musicals. The second city comedy show was dumb, some people did seem to enjoy it though. And we were PACKED in a bar to watch this show, I'm sure some fire codes were broken there. Most of the other entertainment was not free, and it was to make NCL money, for example, bingo, raffles, casino, and the like. The booze is pushed from early morning on. Since this was a Christmas cruise, I fully expected beautiful decorations. Nope. A few cheesy cardboard wall cut outs, some gingerbread houses, one christmas tree. Not too festive Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
A little about us: This was cruise #21. #7 on Celebrity. This was our first cruise where our 24 yo son came with us, and first time with three in a cabin. We normally book inside or outside cabins. This time, we booked a verandah and ... Read More
A little about us: This was cruise #21. #7 on Celebrity. This was our first cruise where our 24 yo son came with us, and first time with three in a cabin. We normally book inside or outside cabins. This time, we booked a verandah and snagged cabin 6155, with the oversized verandah on the front reverse “Bump.” This was our first “Christmas” cruise. If you just want the summary just scroll down to the end as this is rather long. We flew to Fort Lauderdale the day before the cruise. Southwest was on time with an early arrival. We stayed one night at the Ft Lauderdale/Plantation Hampton Inn. They picked us up at the airport. We traveled with local friends to the cruise port on Sunday morning as in total we were a group of eleven. Despite countless e-mails and text messages from Celebrity with their “Board by decks” and “Delayed boarding” warnings, we arrived at the port around 10:00. Our luggage was taken immediately. Our big “Wait” was waiting for the security screeners to open, which they finally did around 10:45(?). We were promptly processed, given our boarding cards, and directed to a seating area for “Select and Elite” members. At about 11:30 we noticed those in the “Suite” boarding area were being let on the Reflection. Five minutes later we were allowed to board. Immediately upon boarding, we confirmed our dining reservations for a table of eleven in the Opus dining room. Table 325 was confirmed. We also arranged to have dinner the first night in the Tuscan Grille as advance reservations could not help us due to our group being eleven. We enjoyed lunch in the not yet crowded Oceanview café (after the Muster drill it was a zoo!). We explored the ship and before the muster drill our luggage was delivered and we were unpacked. We met our room team and they suggested that they would put the mattress from the overhead bunk onto the couch, to give our son a nice bed. This worked out great and he slept soundly the entire trip. In fact, we were surprised how well the three in the room worked out. We were still able to access the verandah even while he was in his “Bed.” Dinner at 6:00 in the Tuscan Grille was fantastic (as expected). We attended the first night’s show which was a guest entertainer who was quite good as a vocalist and as a pianist, but we enjoyed the vocals more. Sunday morning we used the pools (which were way too cold the entire cruise – what is with the solarium pool being cool?) and hot-tubs early before breakfast. After drying off breakfast in the Oceanview was enjoyed. The ship is very impressive and further, I was surprised to find that at 10:00 not all the pool chairs had been claimed by “Chair hogs.” While we saw some signs of chair-hogging on this trip, it was nowhere near what we experienced on the Summit to Bermuda a few years back. At 10:15 we had our roll call meet and greet. The Captain and many other officers paid a visit. This was a nice gathering and many of us stayed until after 11:00. I attended the first of the “Behind the podium” talks on football and found it interesting. When that was over, I looked around the ship for our group and finally ran into one outside the Opus. I was able to belatedly join half our group in the Opus for lunch. The other half were in the Oceanview. Lunch in the Opus was okay. At this point we were very positively surprised and started to think we were on a five star cruise! We tried to call the dining room to arrange for no added salt meals for two of our party and were rebuffed “Just tell your waiter tonight.” Dinner in the Opus, however, dashed the hopes for a five star cruise. This was the first formal night. First off, our table had ten settings rather than eleven. The maître de insisted on double checking each of our five room’s table assignments, before admitting they had erred. They reset the table. Our waiter appeared and it was obvious he did not want to be there. At the end of the meal we learned he was a “Head waiter” who was filling in for someone who wasn’t feeling well. A “Head waiter” should mean outstanding service, right? NOT. Most everyone’s entrée was edible at best, and the menu sure didn’t reflect a “Formal night” type of menu. The Apple Pie dessert was made from tasteless apples and crust that tasted like cardboard. It was not edible. By now it was 8:15 and the second seating is at 8:30 so we were rushed out. While sitting at Café El Bacio for some good dessert, we realized the two ladies had not ordered (nor seen the menu) for the next night. Back to the dining room where we found one of the assistant managers who we informed about tonight’s meal situation and also took care of the special orders for the next evening. We hoped that would correct our dining disappointment… We attended the show, the first with the production company. After 10 minutes we all walked out. If they are trying to reach a younger audience, they failed. My 24 yo son said “What the h*** was that?” Monday was another bright sunny December day. We had a nice breakfast and enjoyed being around the ship. I attended the second of the “Football” talks. We didn’t arrive in San Juan until 3:30 PM so this was really a sea day. After the ship was cleared, we enjoyed a walk around Old San Juan including along the waterfront which we had not previously done. We were back on board in time for dinner. I admit I was surprised that Reflection did not offer “Open dining” as we were in port during the entire dining hours. In any case, our real waiter was serving us and he is on the ball. Dinner tonight was a winner and enjoyed by all. The special orders for tomorrow evening were taken efficiently. The maître de visited to make sure all was well. Have our dining issues all been resolved? While sitting at Café El Bacio, we saw one of the chefs checking the supply of pastries. A few of us engaged the chef in conversation and it turned out he was the executive pastry chef. Our question was “Why are these treats so good when the desserts in the dining room are subpar?” We gave him examples of that evening’s “Chocolate lava cake” that was the size of a US Quarter (I am NOT kidding) and the prior evening’s “Cardboard Apple pie.” He seemed shocked and told us the Apple Pie is made fresh each day. He picked up his phone and spoke to someone and told them to bring two pieces of pie to the Café. He also told us that if you see “SPE” next to an item, that means it is very small as it meets certain dietary standards – so avoid SPE if you want more than one chew! Well, those two slices of Apple Pie were the opposite of the previous night. The apples were tasty, the crust thin and flaky. At least 4 out of 5 for this pie! We thanked him profusely. These were the only good apple pie slices we had, though. I ordered the pie two other evenings and while not as bad as the first night they were nowhere near what we received from the chef. Monday’s show was a Pianist. He was actually quite good and we stayed for about 30 minutes of his show before fatigue (its tough being on a cruise!) set in. Tuesday morning we docked in St. Thomas. It’s a rare day when you are on board the only ship docking that day in St. Thomas! We had prearranged a private charter for our group to explore the out-islands. Alas, that was not to be. A taxi-van took us all there only to find a captain with a smaller, shade less boat than what we had booked. Alleged “Electrical problems” were keeping our boat from sailing. Okay, so no boat trip today. The taxi took us to Sapphire beach where we had a wonderful morning. The taxi was there at noon when we were ready to head back and we reboarded the Reflection. We tried the grille for lunch and the burgers are passable but nothing special. After the burger we explored the Oceanview for something better. We thought about going out to peruse the shops near the dock but never did make it ashore. We enjoyed the pools while many were still ashore. It’s a great day in the Caribbean sun! The day remained great but the evening not so much. The highly recommended fish dinner in the Opus was served (including the two special orders without salt) and the fish was smelly and tasted like it was spoiled. These were all sent back. I had also ordered the everyday steak which was okay. The two ladies replaced the fish with Salmon but they were both served with raw insides, like they were placed on a grille for 30 seconds on each side and served. By the time they received an edible plate, it was 8:00 and the clock was ticking… After some post-dinner discussion at Café El Bacio (can you tell we like that venue?) the three men went to guest services. We spoke with a very polite representative and made it very clear that we wanted to speak with someone from management about the two dining room disasters we had experienced. We were assured that if we came back after the show we could speak with a guest service manager. We went to the show, a much hyped production “Momentum.” After about 20 minutes we knew it wasn’t getting any better so we left. We went back to guest services and had a very nice meeting with three people. Long story short, they promised our meals would be personally reviewed by the executive chef and that all would be well the remaining three nights. Will they??? Wednesday is Christmas Eve and we are in St. Maarten! We left the ship about 9:00 and were treated to “Snow” on the gangway and pier. Many team members were there in Santa hats wishing everyone a great day. We were docked opposite the Silhouette and it seemed the two ships were competing to see which group was more “Christmassy.” It was fun. We took a taxi into town and walked the main shopping street several times. We also visited the bay-front promenade, but in the bright sun it was quite warm. Our immediate family visited the “Yoda guy” museum. We are Sci-Fi and “Star Wars” fans and this was a fun stop. We purchased a few pieces of his art and toured the excellent museum. We didn’t get out of town this trip and looking back that is one thing we will do on any future visit. After a late lido lunch, we went out to peruse the shops at the port. We returned to Reflection and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon at the pool and for sail-away before getting ready for dinner. Dinner in the dining room was outstanding and the best Opus meal of the cruise. The show was Pianist Antonio Salci. Pianists are not my thing, but he was very good and talented. Thursday was Christmas day. We enjoyed the elite breakfast and then headed poolside to get chairs where we could watch “Santa” come by on his “Sleigh.” His arrival was promised for 10:00 and he was punctual. It was actually a lot of fun watching Santa and his many elves (dancers from the ship’s company?) and a few musicians make their way around the lido with a parade of followers including many families with children, Captain Peppas among them. They eventually headed down to the showroom and we did not follow. Our group had “Christmas lunch” in Murano. This was spectacular with both food and service beyond compare. We were in a private room well-stocked with wine along the walls. Everything was superb and lunch was greatly appreciated. Christmas dinner was the second formal night. We took photos around the ship and enjoyed another excellent Opus dining room meal. The holiday special Turkey was very good. The Scallop appetizer was very tasty. Desserts were the best dining room desserts of the cruise. After dinner the “Guest choir” performed a number of holiday tunes in the grand foyer. They were joined by many of the ship’s officers “Caroling” in the foyer. The snow-maker was in use and it was a bit of a magical moment. The evening show was a “Holiday show spectacular” and it was very enjoyable – especially as you consider this show, put on by the various ship’s performers from every venue on board, do this just once per year. Somewhere along the line I’m sure we were at El Bacio but I don’t recall the details. At the close of the show it was hinted/announced that there would be a special performance in the grand foyer at 10:45. We stayed for this – and still don’t understand what it was all about. The dancers were dressed in “Sci-fi” type of costumes and the male dancers looked like robots. But there was no storyline and it just seemed weird – and we like Sci-fi! Friday was the last day of the cruise heading back to Miami. We again did the elite breakfast, enjoyed relaxing at the outdoor pool where friends joined us to listen to the Xtasea party band at noon. Some of us even did some dancing on the pool deck. We had some lunch in the Oceanview (their large lunch croissants are delicious) and tended to the end-of-cruise packing chores. We also enjoyed live music anywhere we could find it including one last time at the Sunset bar for “Five O’clock Somewhere.” Our final dinner in the Opus dining room was a disappointment however. Perhaps not quite the horrendous meals from early in the cruise but nowhere near the quality of the prior two days. One thing we appreciated is there is no last night “Parade” or rah-rah for the culinary team. On our first few cruises we really enjoyed that but at this point for us that is old and we often avoid the dining room on the last night for this reason. We just don’t understand how “Modern luxury” means that only three out of six dinners in the dining room were enjoyable. After dinner the show was “Reflection – the show.” This was much hyped as the “Highest rated show on any cruise ship.” That is quite a boast when you know the types of shows that are now on the mega-ships, so we certainly went to check it out. It was certainly the best show put on by the production cast this week, we will give them that. Music from the 70’s and 80’s along with a bit of a story line made it interesting, and some of the aerialists are very talented. But the “Best show on any cruise ship?” A number of shows on our last cruise on the HAL Westerdam were better in terms of enjoyment, at least for us. Saturday morning we did the express disembarkation and were impressed that there were many customs inspectors and thus no lines at all. We were off the ship at 7:00 and curbside by 7:10. Conclusion: Well, this is a very hard cruise to rate. The ship? Five stars. Clean and meant to impress. The one thing though that I really disliked about the ship is the “Crow’s nest” area. There is no view whatsoever to the port side due to the high-priced cabins they put into the space. Our cabin? Five stars. We were surprised by two things: One, we did not use the oversized verandah very much at all. Two, we did not feel “Crowded” by having three in the room. Entertainment in the main showroom – Three at best. Entertainment other than the main showroom – 4 ½ stars. Specialty dining? Five stars – but it HAS to be five stars if you are paying $45 per meal over and above your cruise fare! The Oceanview café? For a buffet, it was overall very good – Four stars. The Opus dining room? Two and a half stars. This one really hurts as “Dinner” is a major component on a cruise, especially when traveling with friends. Three great meals were offset by two horrible experiences and one that was mediocre at best. Café El Bacio – Five stars. One of the best features that Celebrity has. On board Customer Service – 4 ½ stars. Everyone we met really tried their best to help with any voiced concerns. Pre-cruise Customer Service and website – 0 stars. “Modern Luxury?” I think not. The pools - COLD! We could use the pools but our friends who live in Florida found the pools were just too cold - even the Solarium pool. What is with that? 2 stars. Overall – Three and a half stars for this Christmas week cruise on Reflection. The concern we have is that the lower rated aspects of the cruise should not have been affected by the fact that this was a holiday cruise. After three “Excellent” cruises this year on HAL, it will be a while before we seriously consider returning to “X,” especially with their current pricing. Paying more while getting less is not how we prefer to spend our vacation dollars. Would we recommend the Reflection? With reservations, yes we would. But we feel there are better choices for a one week Caribbean sailing.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We had a family vacation time during the Christmas week, departing from Santos - Brazil heading to Montevideo / Punta del Este (Uruguay) and Buenos Aires (Argentina)... Our expectation (we had a group of 5 balcony cabins to our family) was ... Read More
We had a family vacation time during the Christmas week, departing from Santos - Brazil heading to Montevideo / Punta del Este (Uruguay) and Buenos Aires (Argentina)... Our expectation (we had a group of 5 balcony cabins to our family) was to have time to relax and enjoy the trip. To make short a long history, we waited for approximately 5 hours to get on board in a very crowd area (even considering that was Christmas time, the waiting time was not reasonable). By the time we finally entered the ship, we had only a few minutes to get to our cabin, pick up the life jackets and proceed to the meeting point. It is not necessary to say that after the emergency exercise all passengers went to the restaurant at the same time to grab some food (considering that the majority of the passengers do not live in the departing city and spent several hours to arrive there before the check-in). Again another patience exercise because the restaurants had no space to everyone and it was a very bad "welcome aboard" message. After this first "lost" day, the trip was reasonable until the stop in Punta del Este, where we noted several (dozens of) mosquitos in our balcony and in the surrounding areas (we had a cabin on the back of the ship, near the external stair). We asked for plague control and a very polite man came to our cabin with an electronic raquet used to kill mosquitos and killed the insects inside our cabin and also the ones located in the balcony - but not the ones in the other balconies near or the mosquitos hidden in the stairs area, even after we alerted him about it. The result was that we were not able to use the balcony after this point of the trip. To conclude our "not so happy trip" the arrival in Santos, Brazil had the same situation we faced during the check-in... You were requested to leave the cabin at 8 AM because they need to clean the cabins to the next group of guests (perfect!) but we stayed inside the ship until 2 PM without access to food or drinks, except if you want to open a new account and proceed to a new check-out before leaving the ship. This is not reasonable and MSC must think a way to allow the passengers to pay the last drinks/ice creams, etc in cash or to sell special vouchers for use during this period. I know the company will say the year end time is complicated and the delay was related to the immigration offices but I would say it does not sound reasonable, because in a previous trip using another ship of MSC in the same itinerary we did not face the same situation... Additionaly, another ship that was doing exactly the same route apparently had no problems with delays... Our group were the last one to leave the terminal. I would suggest MSC to check the procedures again and try to improve the boarding and departing in this port. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Before departure: the port where we left in Fort Lauderdale is poorly maintained. Almost 4.000 people on a line to get in the ship and two filthy bathrooms that not even cockroaches would like to visit there. Expect a long line and about ... Read More
Before departure: the port where we left in Fort Lauderdale is poorly maintained. Almost 4.000 people on a line to get in the ship and two filthy bathrooms that not even cockroaches would like to visit there. Expect a long line and about an hour to get in the ship. You may not mind if you are traveling without kids. We had two with us. Inside the ship first day: everything very clean and well maintained in the Liberty of the Sea ship. The crew were very friendly all the time. Unfortunately, the ship is not a smoke free environment so if you are sensitive to cigarette smoke you have to choose pathways to go around the ship ( non smoking areas ) to avoid get in contact with the smoke.The casino area is where you smell cigarette the most. Our room was in the same level of the casino. I felt sea sickness on the second day and it was a little tricky to find those bags or medication for it. In my opinion those things should be available like water fountains or trash cans. Alcohol gel available everywhere. Several shows and activities to participate. Specially if you don't have kids with you. About the all-inclusive food: Pizza available 24 hours but do not expect something that worth the calories. Breakfast with a great selection of fruits, beverage, pastries, etc. Dinner and lunch were not as delicious as the name of the dish sounded on the menu. Instead of quantity I would rather taste the quality of ingredients. Water bottles are for sale; not included. I was concern about the quality of the water served during meals but no problems with that. The alcohol beverages also not included and not interesting either. We asked for a "Brazilian caipirinha" which is basic vodka, lime and sugar and we could not recognize the flavor of none of the ingredients. We had a delicious meal at the steak house they have in there but we had to pay for that. Gratuities and tips: we made the mistake to pay in advance during the book of our trip and in our final bill there were extra gratuities included. I would highly recommend not to pay the gratuities and tips during the booking process. It will cost you less if you pay there directly to your servers. The water activities: water was cold. December might be not the best time of the year for a cruise like that. They have heated Jacuzzis though. But all the swimming pools had really cold water. Kids club: I thought that would be the selling point of the cruise for us. Well, it was a regular place to drop off kids while you have dinner. Not much exciting things to do once in there. My kids find ok. And everyday they did not want to come back. I expected more exciting activities since they offered a "kid's club" style care. The arcade was lame. Several machines were out of order. My kids had a one hour cupcake class. I asked clearly to the person who was about to teach the class when should I come back to pick them up. He said in an hour. When I came back 8 minutes before the one hour the class was supposed to finish, my kids were waiting in a dark room. I found very inconsiderate with guests specially because they were children and I was not late. So, the level of professionalism and care of people who work with kids in this ship is very low. Belize and Cozumel beaches : in Belize we could not even take a tour because they do not have beaches for tourists to visit. They have several excursion to see crocodiles, the blue sea hole, etc... Nothing we could do safely with kids. Besides that, the customer service people on the cruise let us know that Belize is not safe place to walk around. So, what's the point of making a stop there? Also, you have to get a small boat to reach the Island because they do not have a port. My opinion is that Belize is not interesting and not convenient for families with small children, seniors or people with disabilities. In Cozumel we bought the excursion they sold in the ship. The place was "Playa Mia". The food, beverage and bus transportation were included. Again, it was not a good deal. The food was bad in quality and variety. Beverages were made out of store bought fruit box; like the ones I send to school for my kids everyday. And the person preparing the drinks poured the ice in my cup with his hands touching all other ice cubes stored in a big plastic bag. I was glad I had Hepatitis vaccine all up to date! Margaritas were served in plastic cups and tasted like really bad lemonade. We paid extra for the snorkeling and the experience was pleasant. I felt a little grossed out when the guy gave me the equipment coming out of a bucket with a soap blueish water and said: "wear it!". Again, I was glad my Hep vaccines were up to date. Regarding, hygiene and quality of services Mexican beach places are not even close to US standards. So, watch out for that. The Cozumel beach Playa Mia was not bad but it was not impressive either. I bet if I booked another excursion directly on the Port I could get better deals and more beautiful beaches. Skip Playa Mia. Not worth it. If you need medical assistance in the ship: we need to see a doctor for our son who was running a fever and vomiting. We had to pay for the consultation. You skip the bill only if it is gastroenteritis caused by the foods you had in the ship. We spent the last two days of cruise taking care of my 7 year old. The doctor seemed insecure to give an anti-vomiting medication so he could feel better soon. The last day in the ship: Expect a real change in treatment as you prepare yourself in the morning to leave the ship. We had until 10 am to leave but before that the cleaning and maintenance crew started to be on guard outside our room door waiting for us to leave fast. I felt rushed. It was uncomfortable to see those guys asking me if they could enter my room to change filters and so on...At least one crew member blocked was blocking stairs and elevators so nobody could go anywhere except to the exit door. I understood that procedure but also made me feel rushed. My son was still vomiting a lot and I had to see the doctor an hour before leaving the ship. It was a little difficult cause they do not open the door to the medical center on the last day. I explained that I had to fly back to west coast in a 6 hours flight and would like to help the kid with his malaise. Then finally the adorable nurse let me in and gave him the medication for the vomiting. An hour later he felt much better. Don't expect much from the medical assistance in the ship. They are there just for emergencies. Overall Liberty of the Sea Cruise in December 24-29, 2014: It is not a cruise I would take again. Belize was not worth it the trouble of getting off the ship; the weather was not the best of the year ( cold); Cozumel excursion to Playa Mia was not worth the time and money; food in the ship was abundant but again, who prefers quantity over quality? I don't. Kids club was not what you would expect as a fun place to leave your kids; the way they rushed you to get off the ship the last day was not a nice thing to experience. So, if you are traveling with kids choose cruises that have higher rating for kid's friendly environment. Skip beaches that do not have port or are poorly maintained like Belize. Go on cruises during seasons when the weather is warmer so you can enjoy the water activities. Don't pay for gratuities and tips in advance. Research before you get in the ship about the excursions to the islands you visit. Internet is expensive in the ship.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Overall, cruise was okay. My 6th cruise with Carnival and my first time wondering if I should consider other cruise lines. Food: buffets were decent; Italian restaurant and pizza not as good as other ships We shouldn't have to ... Read More
Overall, cruise was okay. My 6th cruise with Carnival and my first time wondering if I should consider other cruise lines. Food: buffets were decent; Italian restaurant and pizza not as good as other ships We shouldn't have to dress up for the steakhouse... we were turned away because my husband wore shorts; these were 'dressy' shorts with a nice polo so on a "fun" cruise that should be okay right? We didn't go back. Don't waste $ on the "all inclusive" drink package. We did - and drank a lot (I thought) and yet when we counted up our drink tab, we could have spent $150 less without the Cheers package. Entertainment: This was our 2nd cruise on the Carnival Dream. Our first was 4 years ago, when it sailed out of Port Canaveral (near Orlando, FL). The Florida sailing was so much fun. The staff was more lively and there was a variety of music for ALL people. In addition to the standard pop, country, and hip hop options, there use to be a latin music band playing throughout the week. This was the highlight of our trip. There were people of all ethnicities enjoying the band and learning new dances. Porting our of New Orleans, there was a HUGE shift in entertainment. No more latin band. Just a lot of rap music each night; okay for a little while, but how about other genres to enjoy? The breakdancing team was sad, same moves over and over... no where as authentic or cool as the group out of Florida. On the plus side, the 'broadway' shows improved. Better singers and they even flew in special gymnasts. Comedians were one of the highlights of the trip. Ports: New Orleans is a cool place but I there's more for us to enjoy in Florida. Montego Bay, Jamaica - too far to enjoy the more popular excursions without giving up your full day; we took a taxi to Doctors Cave beach - best snorkeling experience ever and it was only $25 Grand Cayman - we did the Tiki beach excursion which was not the best beach area, very rocky. Cozumel - we planned an ATX (dirt buggy) excursion through ShoreTrips - fun but longer than planned, didn't have time for anything else Ship: Not as polished and clean as it was 4 yrs ago. We had a cove balcony room which we absolutely loved. No amenities this time - Carnival is really cutting back on the freebies (shavers, shave cream, toothpaste, etc.). Misc.: Each day there was a Hanukah service... yet there was no Christian service at all during the whole week. Interesting because this was Christmas week, big let down to not have this option. No Zumba or other free group fitness classes. Your on your own with the equipment or pay for a personal trainer. My 16 yr old son refused to participate in the teen club, calling it lame with everyone just sitting around playing video games.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We booked a Christmas cruise with some Family and friends December of 2014. First the good The Ship is very nice and clean comfortable rooms, shows and activities were all good and the Kids had a very good time. Now the not so good The ... Read More
We booked a Christmas cruise with some Family and friends December of 2014. First the good The Ship is very nice and clean comfortable rooms, shows and activities were all good and the Kids had a very good time. Now the not so good The meals at the buffet were not good in general. Breakfast was exactly the same each day and while we did eat it we were thinking it could have been a lot better. The main Dining room had great Service and good food. They had something a little different to pick each night and the food was good but not over the top great. But our service there was fantastic. The Italian Steak house was terrible. We made a reservation for Christmas day dinner and we were all very disappointing. We had 14 in our party and wow the best thing that anyone said was the Caesar salad was good. It is a shame at an Italian Steak house on a cruise this was the best comment. I ordered a Rib-eye steak and it was maybe a quarter inch thick and ordered medium rare and it was grey in color all the way through as were all of the steaks. It took well over two hours to complete the meal and my kids said wow Dad you make a lot better steak than this. I do not recommend this at all. There is a big push to buy a drink package on the ship which would be fine but if 1 person in the room has the package you both have to have the same package. This would have been $61.00 per person per day for your drinks. This would include any drink you want. We were going to get this package after being asked repeatedly and told what a great thing it would be so we said OK. They then had us go to the Service Desk and get new cards. They then gave us a cheaper package but did not include the drinks we like to drink so we went back to the Service desk went around and around were assured it was fixed then we tried to order again and it still did not work so we just went back and canceled the drink package and just charged to the room I am sure it worked out better for us but did make 3 or 4 trips to the service desk and spent a collective minimum of at least 5 hours in line and at the desk. The service on the Deck for drinks was very bad. We would be sitting there at a table and have 4 empty glasses in front of us a server would walk by look and just keep going not even a thought of asking if we would like anything else. Other cruises I have been on we would know the bartender and waitstaff and feel very welcome but not here it was very cold as far as customer service. Eka was our room attendant and he was great did a nice job and everything was very clean. Again the Ship was nice but the food and service over all was not up to what I would expect from a cruise. I do not think we will go on MSC again and this is the same feeling everyone in our party had. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Just to be clear at the start of this review. I AM AN AZAMARA LOYALIST so the fact that there are some criticisms should be seen as hopefully constructive criticism. I have been critical of H Office actions such as laundry /internet ... Read More
Just to be clear at the start of this review. I AM AN AZAMARA LOYALIST so the fact that there are some criticisms should be seen as hopefully constructive criticism. I have been critical of H Office actions such as laundry /internet access but would go to the stake supporting the on board experience. In summary for those who may not wish to read further. Good cruise not great. Tango evening in Buenos Aries very good. Ship entertainment good although English female magician was a cross between Jo Brand and Tommy Cooper but good in the end.. I think some allusions may have passed the USA /Canadian audience by. Eric is as Eric does and was good as usual. White night party better than usual but not surprising as it was New years Eve with fantastic fireworks display (20 minutes long) from prime position in front line off Copacabana beach. Food fair Morale on ship appeared to be poor with little leadership shown by Captain. Passenger mix good with no predominant group. I was surprised to see so many non-Christian people on board but maybe they want to escape Christmas as a festival although Christmas decorations were confined to 1 Christmas tree and fake snow on band area in cabaret lounge. We were led astray by bad group in casino lounge most nights so had good time. Now to review/comments Flew down from Newcastle and spent pleasant 3 hours in Exec lounge with a glass or 4 of Champagne before boarding flight to Buenos Aries. Good meal and lie flat bed made the journey faultless. We then emerged into chaos of arrivals at BA . Found rep eventually with one of the smallest arrivals signs I have seen for a long time. Simple transfer to hotel and met people on bus who we had sailed with previously. Hotel fine and had lazy day around pool. Tried to organise taxi for next morning and knowing state of Argentinean peso offered to pay in dollars. Evening concierge was quoting $35/40 plus tip for what appeared to be only a 10 minute journey on Google but was quite insistent we should book now through him. We had transfers booked through hotel so did not make decision. Next morning approached day concierge and was quoted $10 which we took. Advised rep so that bus was not waiting for us. We prefer taxi as it enables us to go when we want and no scrum re bus and baggage. We had a friend who lost hand baggage case which was placed in bus hold but was removed by a thief before bus set off. We always wait now until baggage doors are shut before one of us boards bus. Straight on board at 11.00 to be greeted by Heike and proceeded to make our Prime C reservations. Rather than do a blow by blow account I intend to split review into sep sections. I am fully aware that a lot of people may not like what I write and will say I am nitpicking but how many coincidences/ failures create a trend, All I would ask is read and consider if these were your experiences what would you think? Safety. At one port we were advised of a 30 minute tender journey so therefore a probable 1 Hour 20 turn round. Of the first tender boats the first had an engine failure on the water. Life happens BUT the second ran out of fuel and also had to be recovered with consequent chaos to tender times. Far more serious was if there had actually been an emergency we would have had only half the number of boats available. Totally unacceptable. Comfort. Aircon We commented on cabin air con and despite curtains closed all day and running on maximum cooling it was practically impossible to tell difference between corridors/outside and room. Complained for 4 days but no differences made. Accepted it in the end even though other parts of ship were kept cool. Toilets. Had blockages /overflows on at least 5 days in both toilets as well as elsewhere in public toilets in deck 9. I realise that these are probably client inflicted but not by us as we are scrupulous about items. I can tell you that one of the worst experiences is when (as you do) you get up in the dark to go to the toilet at 3am you most definitely wake up when you enter toilet and your feet get wet. Fortunately clean water but still a horrible moment. I do not consider that a pot plant in dressing area is equivalent to “fresh cut flowers in suite” but probably a Larry cutback. Morale on board Having sailed at least 10 times with Azamara we look forward to returning and seeing regular staff and had even brought Christmas presents for people like Heike, Alex and other favourite waiters etc. It appears that unlike previous times staff are now rotated between Journey and Quest and we therefore saw far fewer staff that we knew. Missing staff included Adel restaurant manager and Dale and Victor head barmen. It was alleged problems with visas was the reason for this but efficiency suffered because of lack of experienced staff. We also had new F & B manager as well as executive chef Iwan. Staff were certainly not as happy or smiling as on previous trips and officers were hardly ever seen on deck or as previous eating in the Windows Cafe. Food We are early risers 7.45 a.m. and were able to dine in Windows outside deck every morning. At no time did we see the fresh orange machine working and after a few days it had disappeared completely. On asking I was informed “Brazilian authorities do not like you to see it” Hey, I am on Azamaras finest not one of Mr Fyffe’s boats. Smoothies were as good as ever and made as you waited. I was not impressed when waiting for smoothie when Captain walked in, was served before me and did not even say “Good Morning, are you enjoying your cruise?” Maybe he thought the vote of thanks I gave at the Captains dinner in the library 2 days before was not fulsome enough. Rest of food fine with fresh eggs made as requested but there did not appear to be as many staff to carry food to your table if required or requested. I do npt expect for myself as able bodied. 2 days running they ran out of English muffins? It appeared they were on ration as on third day it was like Cpl Jones in Dads Army. If you asked for them they were produced from a cloth covered basket behind the counter!!!! It was great if you liked peach yogurt as this was the only flavoured offered. Surely somewhere in Argentina sells other flavours. Lunch Not great lunchers but soups were fine although the hot dishes could surely have looked better and maybe fresher if they only used half the hot area. Mainly ate freshly made sandwiches and it is the first time I have had an egg mayonnaise toastie as it was whipped into toaster before I could say thank you. Also has on 3 occasions the “room service burger “which according to folk lore is made from tail end of fillets from Prime C. In no way was it the same as on previous cruises. On cutting into it it simply split into pieces rather like mince. Not good. Burger bar at pool area Changes here in that now instead of burgers/hot dogs being prepared as required they are cooked en masse and placed in chafing dishes for self selection. Result is you get a Mcdonalds type bun instead of toasted bun fresh from grill also French fries are kept in same dishes resulting in cool fries. Answer: Cook less per fry and they will be fresh and hot. I would rather wait a minute than have cold/luke warm fries. No extra cost but customer satisfaction. Afternoon tea Had served in suite and I notice now only 5 prawns instead of 6 for 2 people (17 per cent saving) I think they could do away with bits on sticks as they are rarely fresh Whilst on subject the English tea bags are useless and I am NOT a strong teas drinker. Dinner Mainly ate in Prime C and again there is no doubt that the quality of steak has changed dramatically as well as general food standards. It was obvious that they do a good job with pre prepared items i.e. soups, salads, crab cakes and desserts but the fresh items like steaks were often poor. This may be my fault but initially ordered well done fillet steak (major mistake for Americans) but It was like shoe leather. Next time ordered medium which was indeed pink in middle but still completely dry with no juices. Had it sat too long under the lamps? Moved onto halibut which was great but unbelievably they ran out of later in the cruise. How can that happen? They know their passenger load and it must come frozen. Later on they also ran out of Dover sole and one night they ran out between ordering and service. I reordered their daily special of pork steak which was great and came hot and juicy so it is possible. Lamb was not much better and they had no mint sauce except that provided from a bottle which you shook like vinegar over your meal. Mint jelly was so fluorescent it should be in Doctor Who. They provide Marmite and Vegemite for us foreigners surely they could get some Colmans proper stuff? Captains dinner was completely unremarkable as I cannot even remember what we had apart from a Margarita Sorbet which had melted and had to be drunk from the glass. I remember being advised by Chef Iwan whose first Captains dinner this was that we would be served with “Lettuce emulsion “ also “potato spaghetti” . The descriptions were better than the reality as most hot courses were warm/cold. I did not spot the truffels although they were on the printed menu Drinks As previous cruisers we were aware that they normally carry 2 Rieslings which are our preferred choice. Usually a discreet request to restaurant manager would enable us to have this from day 1. This time was advised you could only have the 2 on offer. After 5 days one waiter was bold or stupid enough to comment that there was a Riesling on menu in Discoveries restaurant that night so they then provided the Chilean Riesling. It appeared that the German Diennhard one was no longer stocked although a far better quality. The following comments are from other passengers so cannot vouch for absolute veracity but no reason to doubt them. One couple had friends on previous cruise that raved about a particular daily wine and emailed them about it. They asked if they could have this wine but were advised that it was not possible as it was a free daily wine and not until it was on daily list. No problem they said “Can we pay for it?. Answer “We cannot sell it as it is an inclusive wine.” Also suite members get 4 half bottles of spirits but are not allowed to drink them other than in your room. I understand that Azamara may not want you to drink your own shop bought alcohol but it seems bizarre that if you are sitting in a bar with the provided bottles and using Azamara mixers. You would actually be saving them money as you would not be using their alcohol. Unless my memory is failing I thought that pool bar served draught beer but no longer and the “International selection of beers” is Becks, Bud and Heineken Surely with Inbev reach Azamara could take on board a limited amount of local bottled beer at each replenishment point and use as limited edition. Perhaps our final room service breakfast was a useful metaphor for Azamara on board service. Bacon good, potatoes good, muffin were no bigger than thumb/forefinger circle with an extra inch in circumference, poached eggs bigger than muffins and the weakest orange juice I have ever drunk. Final conclusions The peer of the realm with a party of 16 most certainly will not return and Francis a German lady we have met on 2 previous cruises who received the LCV award on ship for most cruises at 25 will not be returning either. Disembarkation the usual shambles with 3 ships at the same time and 1 hour to check in at Windsor atlantica hotel on Copacabana beach. We were finally dumped at airport 4 hours before departure time with checkout not due to open for another hour. We were all flying on same flight so why was it not possible to delay departure by at least 1 hour.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My husband and I went on New Year’s Eve cruise leaving Sydney 29 December 2014 on the Voyager of the Seas for 14 nights around Fiji and New Zealand. Last year we did a similar cruise for New Year’s Eve on Princess around Fiji and New ... Read More
My husband and I went on New Year’s Eve cruise leaving Sydney 29 December 2014 on the Voyager of the Seas for 14 nights around Fiji and New Zealand. Last year we did a similar cruise for New Year’s Eve on Princess around Fiji and New Caledonia and enjoyed it so much we wanted to experience it again. Overall we had a great time on Voyager but there was a lot to be desired. We read up on the Voyager of the Seas and liked that it had an $80M renovation although included 700 more passengers. Ultimately, this made the cruise overcrowded which was a common complaint amongst passengers. The promenade was beautifully renovated/amazing space but with designer shops, 1 pub and small 24 hour café. Embarkation was easy. CABIN Our deluxe balcony cabin on Level 8 was big and comfortable with a three seater couch. Lots of cupboards and storage space. This was a big plus for us. FOOD Overall the food was of a poorer quality compared to other cruises. (Anything for RCL to save a dollar). Windjammers was newly renovated but not enough seating for the extra passengers. The food was very average and much the same food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It started to feel like a cafeteria. The only food that served 24 hours was a small café with pizza, cakes and coffee which did not cater for over 3,000 passengers. Coffee was awful. The Sapphire Dining Room was beautifully renovated but the meals were hit or miss. Waiters were great. I once ordered Venison but was told it was really beef! Chicken Cordon Bleu was a dry crumbed chicken. Lacking presentation. No lobster night but you could order lobster each night at a cost of US$40! Gone are the Bombe Alaska and theme nights. Bars were all understaffed with so many more passengers it became a common waiting game. Drinks were expensive and I noticed many cocktails had no prices on them. Surprise, surprise! The pre paid drink packages were all based daily and not the entire cruise which made it expensive. New Year’s Eve was great! A formal night. Party on the pool deck with a live band and the promenade was crowded with balloons falling down at midnight. Something to remember! ENTERTAINMENT A common complaint amongst passengers was “there is not much to do”. Lots of karaoke with finals at the end which was really good. The Love & Marriage Game is always fun. There was 3D movies (with glasses) in the La Scala Theatre but not enough over 14 days. One afternoon a really good film was cancelled as the rights to the film had expired so we watched half an animated movie. Not good enough! The theatre was under used during the day. A new smaller screen has been addedd on the pool deck for afternoon movies but was noisy from the pools and obstructed viewing. They could have had music videos during the day and make it lively. There were movies some nights around 8pm but who wants to sit outside in the cold. The Ice Show was really good but the live theatre each night was hit or miss. Out of the 14 nights we enjoyed the hypnotist, Rod Stewart impersonator and Mario Queen of the Circus but everything else we found pretty average. I went along to a card making class which consisted of a kit and make it yourself. I also went to a Ladies Pamper Party one day in the gym but was all about trying seven different facial products and trying to sell them. Also free health seminars in the gym and then signing up for more US$$. Amazed that the gym was free! There was a terrific big round spa in the gym which we used with pleasure. I enjoy reading on a cruise but the library was more of a walk through with noise everywhere and no quiet spots on the ship to read except for the cabin. STAFF Staff are a credit to the Voyager with all staff being friendly but they work long hours for smaller pay. This includes waiters, cooks, cleaners, barmen etc but I can’t say the same for the entertainment crew. I think they could have done better with the activities. NOTE that Voyager of the Seas and all RCL cruise prices are in US dollars so don’t forget to convert to Australian currency throughout the cruise as you will get a nasty bill at the end of the cruise. As with all cruises a plastic Sea Pass (Credit Card) is used and your spending can be viewed on the TV. Lots of unhappy customers at the end of the cruise complained about the bill. We conservatively spent just over $700 but was actually $1,000 Aussie dollars. At a Q&A with the captain a passenger asked why there is no chocolate on the pillow any more which he then replied… with the renovation you need to cut costs somewhere. Overall, we enjoyed ourselves but Voyager of the Seas and also Oasis of the Seas which we have previously done is all about BUMS ON BEDS, spending US$$ and not value for money. PORTS Latoka and Suva, Fiji These ports were not worth visiting. It would have been so much better to see the Fijian islands. Both are very poor and underdeveloped cities. Full of the same Indian shops and were told many times to watch our bags. Very unwelcoming. We have been there before and unless you want to see the real Fiji you need to take tours which can find off the ship. Cruise tours are way overpriced. Note that all ship prices are in US dollars so don’t forget to convert throughout the ship. Auckland, Tauranga and Wellington, New Zealand Having been to NZ before we took the Hop On Hop Off in all three cities.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Firstly this is a long winded and somewhat disjointed review and our personal experience. It is honest and straight to the point and I appologise if I offend anyone but I think it is important for people to be aware of some of the ... Read More
Firstly this is a long winded and somewhat disjointed review and our personal experience. It is honest and straight to the point and I appologise if I offend anyone but I think it is important for people to be aware of some of the practices of this company and its major lack of customer service. Firstly I will start by saying that we are very laid back and down to earth folks as most Australians are. We are very easy to please and have very simple tastes. Not much fazes us and live by the typical Aussie motto of "no worries mate" After months of researching and reading we took a gamble and decided to book a back to back cruise over Xmas and New Year on the Divina. We travelled from Sydney Australia via Hong Kong, New York and then Buffalo for this cruise. It was part of a 6 week vacation In total there were 9 of us travelling on each cruise which was made up of 2 adults, 2 seniors, 5 teens and an infant. Our initial dealings with MSC in Australia were not great to say the least. We had many problems with ordering and prepaying our drinks package. Everything from being told that the drinks packages don't exist, different pricing and an adult being given a child all inclusive and a child being given an adult all inclusive. The MSC staff in Australia seem to severely lack product knowledge. We also had problems with our cabins on the second cruise. Originally all 3 cabins were booked together but somehow this was changed to 2 together and one on the opposite side of the ship halfway down. When this was brought to the attention of MSC we were told that the original cabin we booked had since been sold so we had to then settle for a cabin above on deck 12. After over a month MSC assured us that the drinks packages were sorted. We paid our final balance and received invoices from MSC showing the cruise and the all inclusive packages had been paid. Phew what a relief......boy oh boy were we wrong. More to follow. On the Xmas cruise we had a total of 4 cabins. 3 balcony cabins on deck 12 along with an internal cabin a few doors down. We arrived at port sometime around 1pm and were pleasantly surprised to find the embarkation process very simple and efficient. It was at this point we chose to pay our onboard accounts in cash. The reason for this was some of the horror stories that we had read and also our low confidence with MSC due to all the earlier problems. First impressions of the ship when boarding were AMAZING. It is true that the ship is elegant and beautiful. As per usual we headed up to the buffet to grab a bite to eat while our cabins were being readied. Initial impressions of buffet were ok....standard fare. When then encountered the first of many problems when ordering a drink and being told our cards were coded incorrectly. We were told that we would have to have new cards issued. You could imagine my joy when I potentially had to rally up everyone's card and visit guest relations to get new cards. After a stressful morning of getting 6 kids up, ready, packed and on to the ship all I wanted was a drink. Not too much to ask. A short time later we were told that our cabins were ready. I thought the balcony cabins were nice. A little smaller than what we expected however they were nice. The bathrooms were great and the shower with opening out door is a great idea (although I thought at first they opened in an had a fun time trying to get in and then shut the door. It would have been an amusing sight). A short time later our room steward introduced himself and we found him to be very pleasant. He remained this was for the entirety of the cruise and was very helpful and obliging. Sailaway was pushed back by almost 2 and a half hours due to the late arrival of incoming overseas passengers booked through MSC. No big deal as it did not effect us although I am not sure why MSC would schedule passngers arrival from overseas on the same day of sailing. Too many things can go wrong and it leaves only a very small window. When we finally left port it was very subdued. No sailaway party like other cruise lines and you would hardly even know we had left. We did not even hear the traditional 3 blasts of the horn. It was a little disappointing as sailaway is the most exciting part of a cruise which you have been counting down and so looking forward too. Other cruise lines sailed passed us and the atmosphere was much more lively. As the night went on we encountered our second and what turned out to be our major problem. Yet again it involved the drinks package. When ordering drinks we were told our cards did not work so yet again off to Guest Services. It was here that we were informed that our drink packages were not pre paid but prebooked and we needed to increase our cash deposit. I then proceeded to show the staff member a copy of the invoice from MSC on my phone showing everything was paid. The staff member then said on the system it was showing each of us had 2 packages, one pre paid and one prebooked. I was then asked if I could print off the invoice so they could attach it to an email to head office in Italy. I was then told if I wanted to use the internet I would be charged a fee??? This was a screw up by MSC and they wanted me to pay to print out proof we had paid. To cut a long story short we were informed that they had to contact head office in Italy to sort out the problem but they would not have an answer for two days. The staff member could see through their system that we had prepaid but to get the other package deleted it had to come from head office. We were assured that in the meantime we could use our packages. Well this was wrong, wrong, wrong. Over the next 2 days we had our cards rejected on at least 5 or 6 occasions causing both embarrassment and a great amount off stress. In the end I spoke with a senior officer Luca who could not seem to understand the issue. Finally I handed over another $900 in cash just so we could order drinks for something that we had prepaid months ago. On Monday we were told that head office had replied and that yes our package was all prepaid and that the second prebooked package could be removed. I would have though common sense would prevail from the start and that if someone had a prepaid package and a prebooked package then a simple deletion of the later would occur. No not with MSC. There is no common sense. Anyhow we were assured all was good and that the problem was also sorted out for the following cruise over New Year. Back to the cruise........ Having 5 teens and an infant we did not use the MDR often as it did not fit with schedules and dining options. On the first occasion I found the food to be very nice, The service was fast and friendly. The only hold up was between the main meal and dessert where there seemed to be a rather lengthy gap. Total dining time was around 1 and a half hours which I though was good. The one piece of advice is that if you do not order each of the serves, eg starter, pasta, main and entree then be prepared to wait. If for example you only ordered a main then you would have to wait until everyone else had been served their dishes and caught up before you would be served your main. The only other minor complaint was the bar service. If you wanted a wine or soda it was not a problem but if you wanted a mixed drink then it had to be brought in from another bar so you had to wait a while. No real biggy. Just some food for thought. I have read in previous posts that bartenders will not take your orders if you o to the bar and that you had to find a server. I never found this to be a problem and all the bar tenders were happy to take your order and make your drink. The drinks whilst never looking like the pictures were always made strong but there was great inconsistency from bar to bar as to how the drinks were made and how they looked. The buffet was ALWAYS crowded. The fact that the ship was fully booked on both cruises did not help. The overall layout of the buffet is very strange. It seems to repeat itself all the way along several times so you don't realise that there is an ethnic section right at the very back. The food at lunchtime was quite varied ranging from burgers and hotdogs (which we ok) to pastas and stir fry's. Breakfast consisted of the usual fare of bacon, sausages, hash browns etc and was also ok but after a few days became a bit much. The fruit on the buffet was very dry and tasteless. Of a night the buffet seems to be very limited. The saving grace was the pizza. Whilst I would not rave about it (I still think Princess has the best pizza I have eaten) it was of a high standard and very tasty. The options late night were even more limited. Basically pizza and make your own sandwiches which were very basic. From 2 am there was nothing except room service and the room service menu was very very limited, Basically all it consisted of was sandwiches and a fruit platter. We never tried the specialty restaurants so I cannot comment on these. The gelato was VERY nice. Very creamy with lots of flavour. The shakes and smoothies were also nice but again no consitency when being made and would look and taste different each day which was a problem with a toddler who one minute liked it and then not so much the next. The sports bar was a real let down. We love coming to America and indulging in unhealthy bar foods. The wings in the sports bar were not even close to buffalo wings, the mozzerella stix bland and tastless as were the jalapeno poppers. The one benefit of this was it saved us $$$ as we never hit it like we though we would. The patisserie was also a let down. To look at it looked fantastic but the pastries seemed to lack freshness. It was always hit and miss as you never seemed to get what you ordered. On one occasion I asked for an english breakfast tea and a chocolate indulgence sundae was delivered to my table. Close but no cigar. The kids seemed to enjoy the kids club but there was not much structured for the teens. They always seemed to be hanging out outside the nightclub with no real activities. The other thing I noticed was several intoxicated teens. Perhaps MSC may want to pay closer attention to this in the future as it could end up being a huge liability. The security on the ship were probably the most unfriendly of all staff. MSC contracts out an Israeli firm who provides security. All the officers seem to be ex Israeli military with zero personality. Yes there job is the safety of the ship but a simple smile when you reboard the ship never goes astray. Being a law enforcement officer myself I can still do my job and be friendly. Just a little thing but something I think can be worked on. First port of call was Jamaica. We chose to stay on the ship and wandered around the cruise compound. We did venture outside without the kids for a short time and I am glad we did. It is a very seedy and slummy scene once you set foot outside the gates. With 30 seconds I was offered drugs but once I made my friend aware that I was a Federal Agent he lost interest. Funny that. The other ports we called in on were Cozumel, Grand Caymans and GSK. I found no real problems disembarking or tendering from the ship. GSK was probably our favourite spot. Very relaxing and beautiful. We followed the advice we had read on here and that was to get on the tram to the lagoon as soon as you arrive. This was great advice as the crowds were far less and you could get all of your food and drink without a wait. The one issue I had with some of the ports was the atmosphere when returning to board. Each time we went back to the dock and another ship was alongside (NCL, Carnival and Disney on the New Year cruise) we noticed a distinct lack of atmosphere on the Divina. Both NCL and Disney had music playing, staff dancing, friendly security, drinks and wet towels for their passengers. I thought this was a real nice touch and made you not only think about trying these line in the future but also wish you were boarding. These are such little things that MSC should take note of if they want to get a larger slice of the market. As it was Xmas the ship was beautifully decorated. There were two trees in the atrium and decorations all throughout the ship. On Xmas Eve there were carols in the atrium but we missed this as it was not advertised nor did we hear any announcements. It was a shame as there seemed a lack of Xmas spirit bar the decorations. Later that evening a midnight buffet was served. It looked amazing and the staff did a wonderful job baking breads in various Xmas themes, carving fruit and sculpting ice. Whilst it lacked any real substance to eat it sure looked really nice. Xmas day itself was a let down. They had a santa on board and who was iving out a small gift to all children......only if you were aged 3 to 11. I thought it would have been nice for all children to receive a gift especially the toddlers under 3. This was a big fail by MSC in my books. The staff we encounted were so lovely. They seem to be very over worked and run off their feet. There were a few miserable souls but hey if you worked me like a dog and I was away from my family for so long then I would feel the same. For the most part the staff from room stewards to waitstaff and bar staff and servers were great. The only staff that were not great were the front office staff who were RUDE and ignorant. I will talk more about this later. The mix of passengers would probably have been 10% American and 90% non American made up of Italians, Germans and South Americans. The Americans were great. Always polite and lovely to talk to and very couteous. The others on the other hand were to put it nicely PIGS. Basic manners must not be taught in some countries, For example when a elevator door opens you allow people to get out before rudely pushing your way in. Smoke in designated areas. Don't push in at buffets. Don't reserve deck chairs at 7am with a book and return 4 hours later. And for heavens sake put some clothes on when you come inside. I found the entertainment staff to be lacking ideas and personality. Granted I did not want to see belly flop contests or other redneck entertainment but seriously.....napkin folding ?? The CD Andre was not funny or appealing at all. I would have much preferred to see an American with personality. We only made a few shows such as the Michael Jackson tribute and Pirates but both of these were VERY good. Getting off the ship was chaotic. Apparently a passenger refused to leave the ship which held up all the b2b passengers. We waited in the Black and White lounge for several hours and only disembarked to walk off and back on again after 12pm. Nobody at MSC seemed to know what was going on and it was a total shamble. All in all we enjoyed our Xmas cruise with the exception of the drink package saga which was to rear its ugly head yet again. The ship was stunning, staff for the most part lovely and ports enjoyable. It was also at this time that we farewelled my father and welcome my brother on the second cruise. When we reembarked it was time to change cabins from one end of the ship to the other. The room stewards kindly and efficiently took care of all the bags and the whole process was hassle free. My brother joined us later that day after a very long check in process. Much different to the first cruise. Sailaway was pretty much on time and off we headed. Soon after we noticed that a life jacket was not provided for the little guy (we did not have to attend the drill as we were b2b passengers). On the first cruise it was placed on the bed with a note. We called guest services on 3 occassions and were told someone would get back to us.....nobody ever did. Finally we were told that one would not be available until the next day. WOW.....I am sure that this is against coast guard regulations. What would have happened if there was an incident overnight ?? Later that evening the drinks package reared its ugly head once again. This time it was my brothers card and he was unable to order drinks. We were assured the previous week that it had all been sorted. Yet again another trip to Guest Services. This time we were met with the rudest person I have ever encountered. How I kept my patience and did not fully lose it is beyond me. Yet again we were told that they would have to email Italy and when we tried to voice our concern we were met with " you dont understand" and "you are not listening". Again we were told that the card would be unlocked so we could order drinks and yet again this only worked for a few hours before the same problem arose. The same situation occurred where more money had to be handed over just so we could use something we paid for months prior. There was no empathy or understanding shown from Guest Relations.....just total rudeness. This problem remained until the second last day of the cruise when we got a call saying the problem was fixed. We were also asked if we still wanted to speak with Mandy the Guest Service Manager to discuss our concerns which we had raised earlier in the week. Naturally we said yes and were told she would be available to see us at 330pm later that day. We then cut our time short at GSK to make sure we could get on the tender and make our way back in time. Upon our return we attended Guest Services as arranged only to be told Mandy was not there and she was working the gangway. We where then told we would be called upon here return. By 6pm we had heard nothing so I called front desk. I was then told she could not be reached as her phone was not working and was assured we would be called. I then had to wait in my cabin for her phone call when it was the last night of the cruise and I should have been enjoying time with my children. Sure enough the phone call never came so I went back to the front desk. I was then told that Mandy had finished for the night. Naturally I was so angry and asked to speak with the Hotel Manager to make a complaint. I was informed that to do so it would have to be done through Mandy. This had become a total joke. It was the worst customer service I had ever encountered. The rudeness was beyond a joke and to think we had spent over $21000 for our 2 weeks on the ship. We could not use our cards for several days on the ship and I spent hours and hours and Guest Services trying to sort out a problem that was made by MSC. I know this review has been a total session but it is a totally honest account of what happened. We traveled all the way from Australia for this cruise and it was meant to be a family reunion for my children with my dad (their grandpa) and my brother (their uncle) who live in Buffalo and who they only get to see every few years. It turned out to be a total nightmare full of stress. Xmas is not meant to be this way and when you spend so much money you expect a little more. I don't think we were asking for much. All we wanted was what we already paid for and MSC's disregard, lack of compassion and total lack of customer service really tarnished our Xmas. It is such a shame as they have so much potential and lovely hard working staff. The problem is that nobody can nor wants to make a decision and everything has to be done through head office. God forbid an emergency as I certainly do not have the confidence to think it would be handled well. For the reasons of the above I would certainly not recommend this company.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Having cruised on large ships before, I was prepared for the herding but not for the lack of caring by management. An attitude of "company policy" and "couldn't care less" were exhibited by front desk personnel. ... Read More
Having cruised on large ships before, I was prepared for the herding but not for the lack of caring by management. An attitude of "company policy" and "couldn't care less" were exhibited by front desk personnel. Hanukkah and Christmas occurred during cruise time and there was neither a rabbi or priest on board for Mass or rites. The entertainment was an embarrassment and the food lackluster. The company seems to have adopted a policy of scrimping to get by. I took one arranged excursion, zip lining in Costa Rica. I prearranged it on line before the trip. It was an adventure in the rain that I thoroughly enjoyed but it would have been better if the group of 25 had been smaller so as to make a speedier trip. The ship interior is badly in need of renovating. The carpeting was beyond repair in the hallway, the hot tub leaked and swamped the deck daily. On the other hand the wait staff was impeccable as was the room steward. I enjoyed dining with pleasant people of various backgrounds. I took a taxi in Aruba to spend the day on a public beach. It was a breath taking sight and an enjoyable afternoon. Since the trip I have heard that this cruise line is under the umbrella of Carnival Cruise Line along with Holland America and Cunard. After this cruise experience I doubt that I ever cruise those lines again.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Cruising out of Singapore Dec. 29th with my wife over the new year's eve to Kuala Lumpur for 5 nights. Having cruised with RCL before on board of the Allure, Oasis, Independence & Serenade, I was eagerly looking forward to this ... Read More
Cruising out of Singapore Dec. 29th with my wife over the new year's eve to Kuala Lumpur for 5 nights. Having cruised with RCL before on board of the Allure, Oasis, Independence & Serenade, I was eagerly looking forward to this sailing & didn't mind paying extra for it, hoping for a memorable experience. Check in process & the cruise terminal are all good & efficient. Once on board, we moved up to Windjammer for lunch. I like the way they manage the drink stations by keeping the fellow guests away from the equipment. They also have staff manning all the food stations inside & out to keep things orderly at all time. The place could get busy at times throughout the cruise as is the case with any other cruise lines, but nothing too unbearable in my opinion. Breakfast is the same every morning, so it can get a bit boring after a few days. The rest of the food in the buffet is the usual RCL standard. Considering the age of the ship, the design is quite good & it definitely has been properly maintained. I love the free sauna/steam bath/huge hot tube in the gym area. The only thing that shows the age is all the older gym equipment with several treadmills making some weird noise/not working & the seat rollers seizing up on the leg press, just to name a few. One thing that caught me by surprise was the permitted smoking up on the pool deck, a HUGE turn off for me. The luggage was already waiting for us when we got to the cabin just after 1 pm. The cabin is good except for the mattress which is a bit too thin or just worn out. I overheard other cabins nearby were having constant issues with plumbing & hvac system. The cabin steward Magaldo did a good job for us. Main dinning room experience is mixed. The assistance waitress FanFei (table 462 first seating) really went out of her way to please us & that is the only bright spot. We waited 45 minutes for a glass of iced tea one evening, she kept apologizing for it but still no drink, bizarre. She even brought us fruit plates later on & the next few evenings to try to make up for it. New year's eve dinner was open sitting at the main dinning room. They served half a lobster tail with shrimps, when I ordered 2 servings, I found out they only allowed 1 serving for each guest (is that a new trend with the industry or just RCL?). When the food arrived, there were 2 half lobster tails, I cannot be sure if the waiter did something extra for us behind the scene or what. In the end, the lobster was quite forgettable (small & dry), as is the rest of the service (not even a refill of iced tea), I went up to Windjammer to get one after the meal. Once or twice, food arrived & appeared to have been sitting out for a bit too long. We joined 3 shore excursions & the lineup was LONG in the morning to get our tickets at the meeting place, as there"s only one line with 2 people handling the task, why why why? Shows are quite ordinary, to the point that I am starting to think it's somewhat boring. Is it just me?? No comment on wifi as I stayed offline purposely. Didn't buy any photos this sailing, may be | am biased but I still think Disney is doing a much better job in the whole photo segment within the industry. The casino didn't seem to be all that busy. Disembarkation is as good as it gets, no issue there. All in all, the whole cruise is ok, and that is the problem, as I was looking for something more. I am not even comparing it to the cruise in Sep/2014 on Disney Wonder to Alaska, nor the one in Feb/2014 on NCL Breakaway to Bahamas. My observation is that much of the crew didn't seem to be too enthusiastic & it really shows. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My wife, 2 kids, and myself cruised with Norwegian for the first time Thanksgiving week. There were 2 choices for this week, Norwegian and Princess. We opted for Norwegian because of a low-deposit special. Parking: The port was the ... Read More
My wife, 2 kids, and myself cruised with Norwegian for the first time Thanksgiving week. There were 2 choices for this week, Norwegian and Princess. We opted for Norwegian because of a low-deposit special. Parking: The port was the Bayport cruise terminal near Houston. I paid for parking ahead of time online and saved $5 but didn't really save any time. We arrived shortly before 10am and dropped the bags and family at the curb. I had to circle the lot a few times before they opened for parking. This was a painless and efficient process. Embarkation: Embarkation was smooth and nothing unexpected. We were on the ship around 11am and greeted by the Cruise Director, Ben. The whole staff was great. They tried very hard to be available and mingle more than any staff I have experienced before. My youngest was quite taken with Matt and he was more than willing to oblige photos. Cabin: A word(s) of warning; the most detrimental part of our cruise was related to our cabin. We purchased rooms side-by-side with my daughters (14 and 12). We were in rooms 9103 and 9105 directly above the Atrium. The Atrium has a jumbo-tron sized monitor and sound system directly below our rooms. The bass emanating through the floor kept us awake the first night. The sound was strong enough to vibrate the floor. I went to the front desk (in the Atrium) the next morning to complain about it. They apologized and said they would have the sound turned down by Midnight so we could sleep. Night 2 we had the same problem. I went down to the desk after midnight and complained. They were able to get the sound turned down. Night 3 same thing. A supervisor came to our room talked to me and observed the problem. Night 4 no problem, Night 5 no problem, Night 6 and 7 problem came back again. This being said; DO NOT BOOK ROOMS ON THE 9th floor anywhere near the ATRIUM if you want to sleep peacefully and if you like a mid day nap, forget about it. As an apology they were going to send Chocolate covered strawberries to our room; that didn't happen either. Food: Food was a little below par. We mainly ate at Tsar's and Azura. I love escargot, major disappointment. My wife loves steak, dissapointing as well. Pay an extra $30 for Cagney's steak house; was a decent steak. We didn't eat at any other pay places. O' Sheehans was good pub food. My daughter enjoyed the Carlos' bakery in the atrium. She raved about the cupcakes and canoli's. The buffet on 12 was probably at par or maybe slightly above. Kids were irritated the 2 ice cream dispensers were controlled about half the time by staff. Breakfast was best at Tsars; much more quiet and peaceful than the buffet. If you do decide to do the buffetfor breakfast; find a table in La Cucina (quiet and low traffic). Staff: Overall the staff was great. Very pleasant and attentive servers. We had a couple nights that was a little iffy in Azura but overall good. Cruise Director staff was great, I couldn't compliment them enough. Shows: Comedians were good. David Naster was a really neat and funny guy. JP is a magic/comedian who also was very entertaining. Don't miss their shows. If they say it is PG-13 for smaller late shows in the spinnaker, take it seriously. Singers/dancers were good; I wouldn't say can't miss. The gymnasts were very very good. Cirque Bijou was very good. House bands were being swapped out after our cruise. Excursions: Cozumel: Paradise Beach was fun and pretty. Swam and snorkeled. Saw some sting rays. Belize: Goff Cay was a fun beautiful snorkel. The grilled lobster tails afterwards were great. Roatan: We didn't book an excursion here. Just shopped right at the port. Probably best to book a snorkel or dive if you want to get off the boat here. Disembarkation: This took forever. Easily an hour in line after locating our luggage. I am very disappointed with the way our rooms were handled. They just didn't follow through with anything. I seriously doubt I will cruise with this line again. I would choose Holland America or Royal over them or try Princess.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Sailed on the Getaway with my wife, four kids and in-laws for the week of Thanksgiving. This is our first time on Norwegian and for the adults, possibly the last. Some of it is just due to our preferences. Thankfully the kids enjoyed ... Read More
Sailed on the Getaway with my wife, four kids and in-laws for the week of Thanksgiving. This is our first time on Norwegian and for the adults, possibly the last. Some of it is just due to our preferences. Thankfully the kids enjoyed themselves especially our youngest teen who spent most of the cruise hanging out in Entourage and making friends. The one bad thing for teens though is the pool. The main pool area is adults only and the kids pool is more of a kiddie pool. So they only watery thing to do for them was the slides. They did have plenty of other activities that the kids could join in on though which is good. Pros: - Lots of activities. - Cabins were nice (balcony was rather confining though). - Music in the hallways was relaxing and pleasant. - We only watched one of the shows (burn the floor) and it was entertaining and professional. - Cagney's had some pretty good steaks. - Ports of call. St. Thomas and St. Marteen are always good and the rest of the family liked the Bahamas. Though I, for one, would like to see more some replacements for the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. That's for all lines, not just NCL. Cons: - service. Very, very few workers on the ship seemed to actually care you were even there. Many of them seemed as if you, the guest, were inconveniencing them. A few were outright rude. We just never really felt welcome on the ship. I know this is nit-picky but on other ships, it seemed like any time you stepped out or your stateroom, the steward was always nearby to greet you, ask about your day and see if anything was needed. This cruise, we saw our guy two or three times. - Ship layout. It's not a very open floor plan. Some of the places were like a maze to get to and there are many nooks and crannies. Just a very confining feeling in the common areas. - Many of the entertainment options needed reservations. By the time we realized this, most if not all of the shows were already "sold out". I realized this is partially our own fault, but I much prefer the first come, first serve approach on other lines. - Food. For the most part, everything was so-so or worse, with a few exceptions. Our Thanksgiving Turkey dinner in the Tropicana room was just a step above a high school cafeteria dinner. The steak on the everyday menu and those in Cagney's were enjoyable. Most everything else we tried left very little impression on us. This is quite possibly the only cruise I've been on were I've lost weight. As I said in the title, we were not Overwhelmed nor underwhelmed by this cruise experience....we were merely whelmed. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Just got back from the inaugural 8-day cruise on the Quantum of the Seas from Bayonne (a.k.a. Cape Liberty) to Florida and the Bahamas. Quick review: Beautiful ship but still very buggy. Technology and some procedures need lots of ... Read More
Just got back from the inaugural 8-day cruise on the Quantum of the Seas from Bayonne (a.k.a. Cape Liberty) to Florida and the Bahamas. Quick review: Beautiful ship but still very buggy. Technology and some procedures need lots of improvement. Although the "bugs" raised the annoyance level, the ship and the cruise were a lot of fun. I'd go again once the kinks are worked out. Now for the gory details: Cons (be sure to read the Pros, too): We were in a "Superior Stateroom with balcony." Although nicely appointed with a big flat screen TV, it was cramped, especially when the sofa-bed was pulled out. An extra 6 to 12 inches of width would have made a big difference. Royal IQ app barely worked. Could not reliably review schedules or make reservations, which is critical with the "dynamic dinning" on this ship. Was never able to track my luggage. I really didn't care about tracking it, as it showed up when and where expected, but this "smart" feature fell flat on it's face. Royal IQ chat/phone add on feature barely worked. This is a really cool feature that should be a "WoW." You can use an Apple or Android phone to call or chat with anyone else while on the ship's WiFi. But it didn't work. Further, Royal Caribbean plans to charge for this feature! It was free on this cruise due to it not working, but I'm amazed that they'd choose to turn this "WoW' feature into a money grab. We didn't have hot water in our cabin for the 1st day of the cruise. The electronic order system used in the dining rooms crashed often. Wait staff is still learning how to use them. As a result, dinner took at least 1 1/2 hours. Dynamic dining means you never get the same wait staff. The system is supposed to allow wait staff to record preferences from one night to the next, but that never worked for us. The worst part is you don't get to make a human connection with the wait staff. Northstar was shutdown for a repair work a couple of days. Northstar wasn't cleared for operation in Port Canaveral. Northstar "ticketing" system needs work... Ripcord reservations weren't linked into Royal IQ or any other ship systems. Some elevators were frequently out-of-order. This was surprising on a brand new ship. Some water fountains were out-of-order! No open deck area with "dark sky" for star gazing. The bow of the ship is off limits to passengers. Now for the good stuff! Pros: Mama Mia was amazing! It was as good as a touring Broadway show should be! Truly a first to have the full length show on a ship, complete with live orchestra. Two 70 is an amazing space at any time of the day or night. Designed to be the ship's "living room," it met that promise. Starwater and the Robot Shows in Two 70 were really fun. Great singing, dancing and robots in Starwater. It's a must see for all passengers. The rest of the shows were great fun. The food was great. I went to Chop and Azumi, both of where were excellent add-ons. The main dining rooms have good food, however the menus get a bit "tired" after two visits. Windjammer had the typical cruise buffet food. RipCord by iFly was a hoot. The whole family did it. Flow Rider. 'Nuf said. Northstar offered amazing views of the ship while cursing. I only wish it had worked more in port so I could have seen more interesting views. The solarium at the front of the ship is a great place for grown ups to relax. You can rest in a hot tub while enjoying the view over the bow, relax on a lounge chair or curl up in one of the many wicker "pods" scattered throughout. Lots of deck chairs and different places to hang out. I don't know if it was due to the cool weather on this cruise or simply the amount of available space, but there was no fighting over deck chairs. There was always a place to hang. Watching the Macy's parade while lounging in the pool was great fun!   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014

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