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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2015
This was my 3rd cruise on Princess, and the first on Emerald. I understand that the ship just came out of dry dock, but I couldn't really figure out what had been updated other than the Effy jewelry boutique that took up a large ... Read More
This was my 3rd cruise on Princess, and the first on Emerald. I understand that the ship just came out of dry dock, but I couldn't really figure out what had been updated other than the Effy jewelry boutique that took up a large amount of the shopping area. I'm not sure why Princess cruises made the decision to give so much real estate to such an expensive jewelry store. The pieces are terribly overpriced for mass produced jewelry in my opinion and they were pushing it hard. I'm not sure if this jewelry line meets the demographics of the Princess customer base, but time will tell. Embarkation was a breeze- and my daughter and I were on the ship in less than 10 minutes. The Muster drill was rather disorganized and took much longer than previous cruises. When I embarked on the ship I immediately called for reservations and was informed that Sabatini's Italian restaurant no longer existed. It has been replaced with the restaurant called "share" which comes with a $39 per person cover charge. Needless to say my husband and I did not eat at "share" but we did dine at the Crowne grill and were not disappointed. We did not have hot water for the first two days, and learned from other passengers that this was a problem for them as well. Air-conditioning did not run cold but this was ok with us as we tend not to like air-conditioning anyway. But for some people it was a real problem. I didn't let this ruin my cruise so I just took cool showers quickly and spent most of my time outside. We were upgraded from an ocean view to a premium balcony room which was nice but honestly I wouldn't of paid the extra money for it. The balcony was almost as big as the room and we didn't use it as much as I had expected. The ride down was very rocky and there were gale force winds according to the captain. At one point the pools had to be drained and closed because they became unsafe due to the movement of the water in the pools. I was up in the sanctuary area for most of the sea days and the noise from the wind was extremely loud but again I didn't mind- it's a cruise after all and you can expect wind and other kinds of noise. One issue with the sanctuary area is that you can hear some of the loud talkers down at the Lotus spa pool. They really should have a better way to soundproof this since you're paying $40 a day for the sanctuary area. In the main pools there were quite a few kids that were rough housing unsupervised which was a nuisance. Also, pools were pretty deep starting at about 5'3" which made it difficult for the young ones to swim around. There was no dedicated kids pool which would have been a good idea given the amount of children on board. This could've also mitigated the problem with some of the kids jumping and creating mayhem at the same time that adults and other kids wanted to swim. This resulted in most folks hanging onto the edges or trying to swing while avoiding the constant jumping in and pushing of the unsupervised kids. I actually saw some concerning behavior from the kids on the pool deck and became worried about safety and the deck attendance would not do anything. There was a group of kids that was really loud and splashing during the movie at night and one passenger got angry and yelled at them to be quiet. I'm a parent myself, and I really like kids but this just got really out of hand and affected other peoples enjoyment. My seven-year-old enjoyed the pelicans kids club. In her words- I really enjoyed the kids club. Because we got to go inside and ride bikes and do all these fun stuff. Had a pajama party which is really fun and we we got to do all these fun crafts and play with the Wii, which was where we we have a remote and we dance with that. We also got to do these fun crafts like making Masks and making bracelets and there was also a jungle gym which is pretty fun and you have to take your shoes off to go in , and before you go in the kids club you have to wash Your hands. The buffet food was unremarkable. There is decent salad at every meal. I agree with some other recent posters that the service in the dining room was excruciatingly slow. One night it took us three hours to have dinner. Staff were not particularly attentive and did not refill drinks in a timely manner. Most of the food arrived cold or lukewarm at best. This was one of the main reasons that my husband and I went to the crown grill for three of the nights. Since this is a Christmas cruise we had expected a special meal on Christmas evening. In fact this was touted as one of the features of the Christmas cruise. We were disappointed that there was really nothing special although there was some bland turkey and cranberry sauce but not the extravagant buffet or dining room event that we had expected. Santa made an appearance and gave our presents to the kids which was a bonus, and my daughter seem to have a great time with that. I still have the coffee shop at the international café, the pastries were outstanding. Entertainment was lackluster, but pretty standard in mainstream for this cruise line. We were in bed most nights by 10:30 PM so I can't speak for the late-night entertainment or the clubs. With all that said, I still like Princess and have two more cruises booked with them. A cruise is a cruise and it's what you make of it and I like cruising princess. I do think they need to make some improvements as I mentioned. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
I was on the Crown Princess for Christmas and celebrated it with my family on board. For our itinerary, we visited Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Manzanillo. My family of 4 stayed in two connecting premium balconies, which ... Read More
I was on the Crown Princess for Christmas and celebrated it with my family on board. For our itinerary, we visited Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Manzanillo. My family of 4 stayed in two connecting premium balconies, which were fantastic and definitely worth it. This was my first time on the Crown but my 17th cruise overall. It has also been almost 10 years since I've cruised during Christmas and I was definitely unprepared for the 3,500 passengers that were onboard, 600 of which were kids. There were many holiday activities that were offered onboard which made the experience so much more enjoyable. Many of the activities, such as cookie decorating, visiting Santa Claus, building gingerbread houses, etc. were designed for small children and didn't allow any adult participation. The production shows were great, especially the all new Stephen Schwartz show "Magic To Do" which was fantastic and such a great and refreshing show for cruisers that have seen Princess's old production shows one too many times. My family and I have been to Mexico over a dozen times so we are familiar with the ports and thus, not interested in doing many excursions. Our first visit was Cabo San Lucas, which was of course is a tendered port. The weather was great for shopping and walking which is what we ended up doing. At Puerto Vallarta my family and I did the Los Veranos Canopy Tour which was absolutely fantastic, highly recommend it! Mazatlan had great dining, I especially love La Puntilla, which is a cheap beach side Mexican seafood restaurant that is within walking distance to the cruise terminal. We also made a stop at the Golden Zone to do some cheap shopping. We arrived in Manzanillo on Christmas Eve and it reached mid 90's by noon. It was hot and there wasn't a lot to do unless you were willing to drive an hour to their resort city. I did some local shopping and returned to the ship three hours after I got off. Manzanillo in my opinion was a wasted port stop. The service onboard the Crown was definitely below par, which I believe was influenced by the overwhelming number of people that were onboard. There were often long lines to the bathrooms, International Cafe, elevators, coffee/tea bar, etc. I had anytime dining and we ate in the dining rooms every night except one. It was obvious, just from a quick observation, that the waiters were under staffed. Each team had way more passengers than normal which made for incredibly slow and mediocre service. One night my family and I got our appetizers before we even got napkins, water, or utensils on our table. We constantly waited over 30 minutes just to get any bread or our orders in. However, our room attendant was excellent and very outgoing and social. The staff on board was mixed. Some staff members like the cruise director were great, while others came off a bit cold. I've never had any problems or complaints about the staff, however; on this cruise I was completely thrown off by how some of them were treating the passengers. There was one staff member who I found to be rude and arrogant towards passengers, on two separate occasions. Disembarkation and embarkation was easy and went smoothly. Overall, this cruise was still a lot of fun. The activities are fantastic and great for families. The new production shows are a must see. The crew were still great, but beware of some of the staff members. The food was average on this ship, nothing special. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2015
15th Cruise (2nd on RCCL) in our 50's. All previous reviews about Voyager are mostly correct. If you have a Suite or are Diamond status or higher then you can escape the crowds generally. LIFTS These are always crowded with long ... Read More
15th Cruise (2nd on RCCL) in our 50's. All previous reviews about Voyager are mostly correct. If you have a Suite or are Diamond status or higher then you can escape the crowds generally. LIFTS These are always crowded with long waits and are very hot. WINDJAMMER On Sea days it is very difficult to get a seat. Food is generally OK with lots of variety. Desserts are average. Announcements are made for you to move out once finished  eating. Walking areas like public freeway traffic. COFFEE Coffee from Cafe Promenade (Starbucks) is good if customised but has no table service area. Service was quick with short queues generally. LOUNGES AND BARS Due to $80 Million refurbishment there are less lounges and bars to sit in (due to addition of extra cabins) REFURBISHMENT (EXTRA CABINS) Ship CANNOT cope with the extra people they have added. Ship's original capacity 3138 has expanded to 3700-3900 SAPPHIRE DINING ROOM We had 6pm seating. Menu changed every day (also menu has a Classic - Always available selection) Very good variety. Temperature problems with food - Soup - luke warm and Fish never hot. After making a complaint to Head Waiter all future meals on our table were always hot and service significantly improved. JUNIOR SUITE Very comfortable (Cabin 1612) lots of space and well maintained by cabin steward. ENTERTAINMENT Very lacking. Two nights in La Scala theatre there were no shows on (only played a movie). Only two main production shows. The singers/dancers had an easy cruise. The rest were guest entertainers with mixed standard (please avoid the Hypnotist - unless you want a nap) GYM Equipment is good and reasonably large area. Plenty of cardio equipment. Music is way too loud for comfort. Noisy spa in centre of gym area. Some staff with attitude. DIAMOND STATUS LOUNGES Excellent - especially to escape the masses. One lounge on deck 14 and a Diamond area for breakfast and lunch in the Sapphire dining room (deck 4 left side at rear). ROYAL PROMENADE Nowhere to sit. Too crowded on theme nights. Dancing is impossible - the area blocked by crowds standing around or through traffic. No view of the ocean. SUMMARY If you need to cruise on RCL then the Radiance of the Seas is a much better choice. Voyager has a public crowd feel about it. Better still try another line (CELEBRITY or PRINCESS) for more intimate cruising. COST CUTS by RCCL: No free lobster night. No baked alaska night. No chef's parade. No chocolates on pillow. No toiletries for balcony or lower. Windjammer closes at 9pm (no supper provided). No fruit carving demonstrations , ice sculpting or cooking demos. No enrichment classes. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
The staff on Adventures of the Seas was outstanding! This ship was nice and clean at all times. My husband and I have a few (small) gripes, things that we liked better on other cruise lines: 1. not enough (free) counter service food/meal ... Read More
The staff on Adventures of the Seas was outstanding! This ship was nice and clean at all times. My husband and I have a few (small) gripes, things that we liked better on other cruise lines: 1. not enough (free) counter service food/meal options, which leads to long lines and congestion at the Windjammer buffet. A counter service at the pool area would be idea, a grill with pizza/burgers/salads. Another food issue, was the lack of a room service menu and the quality of that food. However, our meals in the main dining room were absolutely delicious! 2. Mid ship elevators were very slow, more than expected during peak times and non peak times. 3. The jogging track wraps around the 12th deck and intertwines sunbathers on lounge chairs, and there are frequently people strolling around and looking at the scenery, and they don't move for the joggers. The track is not very well labeled and as a jogger you feel as if you are "in the way". A better location would be around the sport deck. 4. The big daily "sale" that happens on the promenade cause major congestion for those guest just walking through not wanting to shop. Suggestion would be to maybe spread their "station" out longer instead of wider to provide room on either side for guests needing to get through. 5. The ice skating show was wonderful, so much talent and fun to watch! The times for open ice skate were limited so we were unable to try out this activity. 6. The "don't stop the rock" show left us disappointed. 7. On a typical evening after dinner, around 8-8:30pm, it seemed as if there was a lack of (free) activities. If you wanted to sit in the pub and pay for beer, or go to the skybar and pay for drinks, those were options. Only 2 nights were there some sort of activity (love & marriage show and a less than desirable comedy routine put on the same time as another game show activity so you couldn't attend both). 8. The food at Johnny Rockets was terrible! The burgers lacked toppings and were overcooked. The French fries served to us were cold and tasted as if they were sitting for a long time, the waiter never replaced them. Very disappointing. 9. Returning from a day at port, other ships on the dock had a "welcome back" party for their guests, playing music and giving them small cups of water. Very nice! Wish RCI would do this. Hopefully you have read through all my comments. This ship is beautiful and clean and you will have a nice time. All staff we had contact with were absolutely outstanding! Even though it looks like I'm full of complaints here, I'm not. It was a nice ship and a fantastic vacation, we just prefer other ships. Thank you! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
Where to start..... Having cruised on Radiance last year, and knowing this ship had been overhauled, we were really excited and had huge expectations. Because our last cruise was so good we talked up RC and how good their ships were. 7 ... Read More
Where to start..... Having cruised on Radiance last year, and knowing this ship had been overhauled, we were really excited and had huge expectations. Because our last cruise was so good we talked up RC and how good their ships were. 7 people, all first time cruisers and 1 being the mother in law booked to come on with us. For us being Crown and Anchor members, check in was excellent. 2 of our friends however had to wait 3.5 hours in line to get on. This is not acceptable at all and yes they were in their designated time slot. So we all head to our cabins. Ours was really good, no complaints there, at first. 2 of our friends had booked a suite and we were very supised to see how basic and small it was, especially for what they paid. As I said, ours was really good except that the air con did not seem to work and the fridge was not cold. Luckily the weather wasn't very good and it didn't get hot. First thing we noticed was that the staff didn't seem as happy as the Radiance staff. Then the line ups started. They were ridiculous, having to line up like cattle to get a feed. Even in the dinning room where we made reservations, we still had to wait upto 45minutes. 2 of our friends waited 2 hours fo their table. What a joke. Even waiting to speak to someone from guests relations had massive lines every day. Dont try and get a decent quick coffee, you'll wait ages for that too. Only one cafe on the whole ship which also serves the Ben and Jerrys icecream. They didn't tell anyone until near the end that you could purchase coffee from the Schooner Bar or Windjammers. The coffee is horrible, definately not worth the money but is better than the brown water they give you for free. The food in Windjammers was horrible. Definitely not what we got on the Radiance more like P&O. It was the same slop every night. The dinning room wasn't much better. Same food, just dressed up. The food in the restaurants however was amazing. We ended up eating at them everynight instead. Yes, we had to pay but it was well worth it. If your looking for a relaxing child free cruise, then forget Voyager. The place was overrun with them. Their junior curfew was 1am, how ridiculous is that. They were running all over the place causing havoc. They were even in the bars. When we questioned why children were in the bar at midnight whilst adults were drinking and having adilt conversations, we were told that they are more lenient around that time as there weren't as many guests around. Serious. There was even a case where a elderly person had their arm broken by being knocked over from a child running around unsupervised. My husband and his friends witnesed a brawl in the arcade between 2 unsupervised boys that had to be broken up by security. This just isn't good enough. Another thing we encountered was not alot of general beer. On the Radiance there was all the beer that you get at the pubs, clubs etc. My husband asked for a tooheys extra dry, none, carltons dry, none. The were told it was coming in 2 days from Singapore! So they started drinking Caronas, they ran out on day 5. Everytime they asked when the ship would be restocked they were told in 2 days. They never resocked anything. We also noticed around day 8 that the cocktails were being iced up heaps. One thing we were really impressed with RC was that they were not shy with their alchol nips. Not with Voyager. I had one cocktail that had no alchol in it at all. There are so many things that went wrong, it was just a nightmare. They were definitely understaffed and over populated. A few staff members we spoke to told us that most of the staff were miserable and couldn't wait for their contracts to end so they could get off. Everyone we spoke to felt the same. We did not encounter one person who had something nice to say. There were even numerous people that got off and flew home. I wanted to but unfortunately my husband does not fly, so I had to stay on until the end. You can imagine how bad we felt for our 7 friends who we brought on with us. This cruise has ruinen their thoughts on cruising again with 4 of them saying they will never cruise again. Voyager has alot to answer for.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Carnival was not "up front" with it's guests for this cruise. A lot of us didn't realize until it was too late, that the Miracle has been having propulsion problems since early this year, and decided to continue ... Read More
Carnival was not "up front" with it's guests for this cruise. A lot of us didn't realize until it was too late, that the Miracle has been having propulsion problems since early this year, and decided to continue operation of the vessel, which is now scheduled to go into dry dock in early 2015. Because the ship couldn't cruise at normal speed, we had a multitude of itinerary changes. We arrived late a some ports and in the case of Maui (the highlight of the trip), we totally missed it and we were compensated with 1/1/2 hour in Kona and a $200 credit. The stop off at Ensenada at the end of the cruise was at 8 pm rather than 3 pm. The ships crew blamed everything on the "weather"...which none of us could believe. 2 of our 4 excursions were canceled and debarkation as well as the tendering process was a gaggle!! It also appears as if Carnival is also cutting back on service personnel. We had to go to the bar most of the time (whether inside or outside) to get our own drinks...on previous cruises we could barely turn around when someone was asking to wait on us. Not to mention the internet and TV service were totally unreliable. When we asked about it, the cruise director said that there was no "satellite service" in the ocean???? REALLY......most folks on this trip were seasoned cruisers, so we knew better. We spent $50 just trying to confirm our upcoming airline flights on the internet...but they did refund us for that. It's just a hassle to stand in line for 2 hours at guest services to try and get anything taken care of. I will say our cabin steward was top notch...but they always are. It was truly a disappointment, especially since we had booked the cruise a year in advance. We realize that things come up and if it had happened that way it would be different, If they had just been "up front" with us in advance, we wouldn't have had a problem with it. They definitely made the wrong call!! This is really the first bad experience we've had with Carnival....just wish it hadn't have been on such a long trip. It's the first time I couldn't wait to get off of the ship and go home!!   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
We sailed out of Port Canaveral on 12/7/14 for a 7 day Western Caribbean vacation. Getting on the ship was no problem. Once on the ship we went to the buffet for lunch. I had a hamburger and some fries....so far so good. No utensils to eat ... Read More
We sailed out of Port Canaveral on 12/7/14 for a 7 day Western Caribbean vacation. Getting on the ship was no problem. Once on the ship we went to the buffet for lunch. I had a hamburger and some fries....so far so good. No utensils to eat with though so it was good I had food I could eat with my hands and not soup or salad! There were also announcements telling us to basically hurry up and eat and leave as they had many people to feed. SERIOUSLY! Hurry up and get out! Yes. I was getting a bad feeling about this one! On to the cabin. The cabin was pretty small for a large ship . We had two adults in the cabin and we couldn't move without kicking the coffee table and wastebasket . I ended up putting the coffee table in the closet and the trash can by the bed. The bed could not be accessed from the side, to get to the end tables, one would have to step or slide over the corner of the bed. This was obviously ridiculous and made the area on the side of the bed useless and wasting the already very limited square footage in the room. I gave up trying to shower with the door closed. I just left the door open and let the water fly everywhere, then put towels on the floor. Otherwise the room was clean and comfortable with the couch in front of the TV. The entertainment on board was pretty good. The Ice show was excellent and the Stage Shows were very good. They also had a comedian/juggler guy that was entertaining albeit somewhat racist. The Acrobat's were fun to watch and the overall entertainment in the theater was very good. The musical venues could have been better. I would have enjoyed more string music and a lot less breaks. Musicians do not need a break every 15 minutes! OH...and the ship was hot. Especially in the elevators. HOT.HOT.HOT! The cabin temp was fine as long as it was set to the coldest setting. The buffet dining was a disappointment with the same food basically...day after day. Pizza was awful. I just ate hamburgers for lunch. I would recommend going to the sit down dining room for breakfast and lunch. Dinner in the dining room was usually pretty good. The food was overall OK with mostly a selection for every taste. I would have preferred it to be hotter but it was never cold. Our wait staff of Sharline and Dennis were courteous and provided friendly professional service. The Maître de visited our table every night to ask about things. I was very impressed by this as I rarely have been visited by them in the past. Service in the lounges was slow because of a lack of staff. With the cruise line pushing the drink plans there is very little effort put into providing drink service. I would have to leave our table and go to the bar and wait for service for 10 or 15 minutes because there was only one bartender. Many of the Drink of the Day specials did NOT provide the souvenir glass that was promised. There was never any explanation as to why. I didn't ask. I had bigger fish to fry! ABOUT THE SHORTENED PORTS...we were notified 24 hours ahead of boarding that the port times were shortened. The ship was limping along a 3/4 speed and needed more sailing times between ports. This made our stops at the private Island in Haiti and the Jamaican and Grand Cayman very short. We felt very rushed to get back on board in time and really detracted from the cruise port experience. We did not make Cozumel at all because an infant had a medical issue and needed to return to Grand Cayman for treatment. Our understanding is that she was flown to Miami and is doing well. Everyone on the ship understood the priority of getting the child treatment. BUT, most were also in agreement that had the ship not been limping along, that we still would have been in Grand Cayman when the emergency occurred AND that even had we needed to return to Grand Cayman we would have been able to make up time in a ship that was functioning correctly. Royal Caribbean hid the fact that The Freedom of the Seas was damaged for weeks prior to our cruise and by doing so provided an inferior cruise experience to the passengers who paid big money for a top notch cruise vacation. Royal made no real apologies for not allowing us to know of the situation beforehand and provided no compensation that I'm aware of to any of the passengers other than the $15 tax on the missed stop of Cozumel. They did not even return the port charges from Cozumel. Maybe RCCL didn't get reimbursed from Cozumel for missing the port. I don't know. I just know that I and practically everyone else felt screwed by Royal Caribbean for their lack of communication and lack of compassion for peoples vacations being compromised . I'm planning on filing a claim with the BBB in an effort to receive some compensation for this cruise. I was told by other cruisers that attempting to get any response from RCCL was nearly impossible. It's also my understanding that some onboard credit and future cruise certificates were given to passengers on previous and prior cruises on the Freedom. I don't know why they felt the need to cheat us on the December 7-14th sailing. Needless to say, it will likely be a long time before I cruise RCCL again...if ever. The cost of the cruise and all associated expenses were approximately $2500 for the two of us and it was not money well spent. One final complaint. OK...two. Disembarkation was a total nightmare with at least a two hour delay getting off. Again, RCCL provided no information about the delay because if they had we could have gone somewhere and just relaxed instead of waiting in limbo for hours in line. I don't know if this delay was RCCL's fault or if it was a port issue that was unavoidable and not RCCL's fault. Now lastly. The day after leaving the ship (Monday) our credit card was charged for the approximate amount of $500 that we spent onboard including tips. That was fine...BUT they also had two $450+ holds on our account for a total of $900+ of money on hold and unavailable to us over and above the valid charge of $500. This money was not released until late in the week and was the cause of concern and worry in the week proceeding Christmas. Normally, when the account is charged for the actual onboard charges the money on hold is released immediately. Why they had two holds totaling $900+ in ADDITION to the actual charge of $500 is beyond me. My girlfriend thinks they are trying to make interest on the money. I think that RCCL is just incompetent! Anyway, that caused unneeded stress for almost a full week after we left the ship. So, If you are looking for a relaxing....refreshing vacation getaway on a cruise I would suggest a different cruise line. It seems to me that Royal Caribbean's glory days are over. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
The Good: 1. Good itinerary 2. Big window in Balcony Stateroom 3. Good Entertainment ( Cruise Director was great) The OK: 1. The food was bland and always the same. I was on a carnival Liberty before this and couldn't help but ... Read More
The Good: 1. Good itinerary 2. Big window in Balcony Stateroom 3. Good Entertainment ( Cruise Director was great) The OK: 1. The food was bland and always the same. I was on a carnival Liberty before this and couldn't help but compare. Carnival has a lot more free options and the food is 10 times better. Norwegian's food was bland and always the same. I did not try their restaurants that you had to pay extra for. The Bad 1. There was a smell coming from the aft stairs 2. The bartender in Ramblas bar was rude, never smiled and always looked away. No wonder it was always empty   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
PERSONAL Review Special Note: This review is presented in two parts: first, my own ‘Personal’ review (what happened to me) which is followed by a somewhat more objective view of the MSC Divina based on an Western Caribbean cruise as ... Read More
PERSONAL Review Special Note: This review is presented in two parts: first, my own ‘Personal’ review (what happened to me) which is followed by a somewhat more objective view of the MSC Divina based on an Western Caribbean cruise as a friend and I experienced in early December, 2014. Arrival The Ft. Lauderdale airport is not known for their efficiency and user services. Our Southwest flight on one of their newest 737-800’s was pleasant and just over 2 hours, non-stop from Providence RI. Baggage claim was the first sign that our troubles were starting. Signs and announcements claimed that Providence baggage was arriving on carousel 6. That changed to carousel 8 and then back again to 6. In the end, my traveling companion and I stood at each carousel. Our luggage arrived on carousel 7. I smiled and popped a valium. There was a cruise line rep gathering up passengers for the transfer to the Miami Cruiseport- 99% for the NCL ‘Getaway’ and us. The only reason I knew this is because as she passed by me, I noticed that she was also holding an MSC sign on the back of the NCL sign. She was less than pleased when I approached her and asked where we should go. We had purchased the transfer from our travel advisor. It was booked with MSC and added to our master bill ($40 each I think- the return was $20 each on a private van service). A 48 passenger motorcoach with 46 NCL passengers on their Getaway and 2 to the MSC Divina loaded slowly. MSC passengers were ‘tag alongs’. We waited for all the Getaway folks to board the coach first and then we took our place in the last row. The transfer was a merciful 40 minutes long. Now, the baggage drop, US Customs and escalators have become familiar and almost ‘old hat’ to us by now. We waited in separate lines to check in at what felt like a “mile long” check-in desk with dozens of MSC reps. I just about fell to the floor when my check-in clerk said, “Excuse me sir, are you sure you have the right ship? I don’t have you on any of our lists.” WHAT? I produced photocopies of my confirmation sent to us directly online from MSC with the oversight of our travel professional and that was the only thing that seemed to work. “We are sorry sir, but this information was not transmitted to us” he said more than once. I was not quite sure if he was accepting blame or throwing it back to my agent. Please know that I have been dealing with one, extremely professional and picky person who makes sure that all bases are covered when she makes my reservations. I trust her and her company and feel that whoever ‘dropped the ball’ was NOT her. My ‘clerk’ went to see his “boss” and returned after about 15 minutes and said, “Excuse me sir, but we still have that cabin available and we would be happy to accept you as a last-minute shore side reservation. Did that mean that my travel pro was then cut out of her commission? I simply said, “Put us in that cabin . . . now”. He accepted my charge card and issued an MSC room-charge card. It was about 1:30pm and I had thought that we could gain access to our cabin quickly. No. Cabins would not be ready until 3 pm. The buffet or sitting in any common area was the option. We went to the crowded buffet with our carry-on bags and waited for the call to access our Deck 10 room. Our room steward had cleaned the room but not separated the beds, so to ease his work- we stripped the linens, separated the beds and had it ready for him to make up more easily. They are all greatly over-worked and what we did was easy and he thanked us. He produced his room manifest for me to look at and sure enough- our cabin and names were NOT listed. I guess “the information had not been transmitted” to housekeeping either. Now came the most interesting challenge- dining. Our room ID – charge card did NOT indicate dining time or place: So, we boldly went to the 6 PM early seating in the Main Dining Room (The Black Crab) and requested to be seated at a table for 2 or 6. The maitr’d said “I am sorry sir, you are not on my list. We do not have any space at all. Our dining room is full and there are no empty seats.” I guess “. . . the information had not been transmitted” to Food & Beverage either. I was starting to feel like I didn’t exist. He suggested that we go to the buffet on the top deck. Like whipped puppies, we found an elevator and pressed 14. The buffet was hardly the way to open our glamorous cruise on the Divina. I don’t remember what the food was, and that should tell you how impressed I was. There was a savior. At the Reception (Front) Desk, where I was headed to blow up or commit a crime, I met a big burly man who knew how to snap out orders and get things done. I approached him with our story of woe. Pavel Gazzo, the Guest Relations Manager knew what to do! He checked my photocopy of what MSC had sent and started snapping out orders to various staff members. Things started to happen. As promised when booking, a packet of drink tickets magically appeared. The complimentary ‘no gratuities’ actually worked, and the sparkling wine and deluxe fruit basket of seasonal foods appeared on the second day of the cruise as I was changing to go to dinner. Voila: One banana and Granny Smith apples must have been “in season” in the Caribbean last December. That’s a kiwi fruit under the plastic. Have you ever peeled and eaten a kiwi fruit? The wine went to a Trivia game winner and we split the banana. The cruise was getting better. There is no more to write about. This review should give the average reader an idea of my first and last cruise with MSC. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Caribbean cruises aboard the MSC Divina (3,500 passengers) are enjoyable one-week getaways that come with a collection of offerings very different from those of other major lines serving Southern ports. To be clear, Mediterrean Shipping Company’s twelve passenger vessels serve Mediterrean and other European ports. Only one of their ships is assigned to the North American market, sailing out of Miami, mostly on 7-day itineraries. The company is obviously trying to establish a presence in a place they feel is underserved for their style of service. The point here is that MSC is attempting to make inroads to the American/Canadian markets and this cruise passenger maintains they are failing. From the outside, the ship looks beautiful. In fact, most of the cabins and public spaces are magnificent. It is a ship to be envied . . . but there are interior details to be considered. Negotiating in any direction is a challenge because there is little if any signage. Odd numbered cabins are on the port (left) side, and even on the starboard (right). It ends there. There are no front-back, forward-aft signs whatsoever. Deck numbers are hidden, even in the elevator lobbies. The Divina does maintain current industry standards; the theater is forward on lower decks, the main dining rooms are in the stern with one dining room (Villa Rossa) that can barely be found. It’s on Deck 6, but you have to go to Deck 7 and walk down one flight of stairs to get there. It takes practice and patience and makes me wonder what asylum did they put the designer of this misplaced room in such a difficult location . . . The “casino” is just outside the theater, of course. On a 2 year old ship, it looks tired and worn. Game tables are covered in a depressing dark forest green- not bright and lively green felt. Most of the 135 slot machines have aging front screens and games that 72-year old ladies who live in land casinos can’t understand. If they (the machines) look prematurely yellow and foggy . . . they are. After having cruised 23 times, I can remember that almost every passageway had “art”, some good, mostly bad . . . but I could remember the way to my stateroom by knowing that the ‘skyscraper’ came after the ‘wolf’ or the ‘Art Moderne nymph’ was just before the ‘manhole cover’. The Divina has almost no art on the walls- probably because the passageways (all of them) are too narrow. In fact, almost all walking areas are too narrow- especially those on the top deck buffet where hundreds of passengers walk at every meal. The 20 step Swarovski crystal double staircases in the atrium is a feature of the ship. They are eye-popping and worthy of a photo or two. I strongly recommend that you think twice before attempting them. Whatever you do, don’t look down and hold the handrail. Sooner or later, someone will tell you that each step cost $60,000 which means that one step is worth more than the median U.S. income, and collectively, could buy you a new Lear jet. Impressed? Food Today, food is one of the most important reasons people take cruises. The Divina offers a multitude of restaurants, both included in the price and some carrying extra charges. The difficulty is there seems to be nothing in print or online that lists which restaurants charge what. Maybe, it’s a secret. I avoided all of them and made myself happy in the main dining room, interestingly called “The Black Crab” . . . hardly a name one would expect on a ship from Italy. The Divina was built in France- it’s French ships that are built in Italy- go figure. The food is generally good (not great) with some exceptions. Menus offer a nice selection of appetizers, soups, entrees, and desserts. Seafood is special with excellent prawns (big shrimp) as a main course. Roast beef offered on two nights was a toss-up- the first was passable, the second- impossible to cut through the grizzle. Maine lobster tail was already cracked with meat bursting from the shell. Expect the traditional Baked Alaska Parade and an Italian theme night. There was one appetizer that actually brought chuckles and giggles throughout the dining room from those who ordered it. It was described in print as: Seafood Seared Scallops on a creamy risotto with Prosecco wine and smoked Provola cheese When served, there was ONE (yes- one) half-inch overcooked scallop in the middle of a sea of mushy white rice. I guess there was wine and cheese in it, but my palate has not been to any culinary institute, so I couldn’t tell. I ate the scallop and passed on the mush. Please notice the “s” on the first line- ScallopS. The top-deck buffet has two names and I still don’t know why. There are NO ship buffets arranged in any way that makes sense. The Divina is the most confusing of all. First, it’s not arranged in a straight line. It has food stations out and indented with some semi-circular. Offerings change daily, and don’t assume that all breakfast items are the same or in the same locations. There are no cooked-to-order foods. My personal favorite, smoked salmon, was not available other than by special request. There was a selection of juices, but no tomato, another favorite that was missing. I’m told that the variety of pizzas was impressive (I am not a fan) and the burgers were good. Who goes on a cruise for burgers and pizza? Worthy of note are the fresh cut cold cuts for make-your-own sandwiches and fresh breads. On the minus side- there are no spoons to stir coffee- just wooden swizzles and never enough cream, or half & half to lighten any of the Divina’s strong coffee. There are not salt and pepper shakers anywhere on the deck- just annoying tiny packets, as are all condiments. Serving plates were large, oval and scratched Melamine (or Melamac), a throwback to the 1960’s. They were tacky. Bars There are more bars and lounges (18) on the Divina than on most ships her size- pool bars, sports bars, elegant bars, disco bars, etc. Alcoholic drinks were uniformly priced at $7.25 (Dec 2014) and included all the standards, as well as some inventive libations with names that never hinted at their contents. Rum, vodka and tequila all merged their way into “Deep Blue Lagoons” or “Deck X Smashers”. Be sure to check the drink packages for significant savings and remember to bring you room key-charge card wherever you go. Service Employees of any cruise line fall into two categories. Basically, those who work for a salary (entertainers, upper cruise staff, technical staff, the Captain and engineers, etc.), and those who depend largely on tips and gratuities (room stewards, dining room staff, casino dealers, etc.). Aboard the Divina, room attendants go out of their way to stay out of your way and clean the room carefully, at least once a day, usually more. Ice (tiny buckets) and fresh towels in the morning and at night. Our steward, Garfield Williams (Jamaica) had 15 rooms on Deck 10 to ‘make nice’ every day. In a 14 plus hour day, he had a total of one hour break time, and sometimes, not even that. Would you like that job? Those employees who never receive tips showed me why. Front desk (Reception) ‘clerks’ (best word to describe them) are efficient and professional. So much so, they often come across as Field Commanders for some general staff. They do their jobs, but, on the Divina, without a sense of humor, a smile or an attitude that “the customer is always right”. The same is true for the bartenders and photo staff when they are not hunting you down to pause on the jewel staircase or the fake ship’s wheel on the dock. Most people on the service side of the industry, frequently attend ‘smile schools’. They rarely work unless it’s a Disney related enterprise. The bottom line is that MSC scores low in service, not counting their dining room and housekeeping departments. Entertainment I had heard from a number of people, and had read online, that the shows were magnificent and I shouldn’t miss a single one. Wrong. The Pantheon Theater is impressive and the shows are generally good, with some better than others. The problem is ‘sameness’. The show names and costumes change, but the productions are only slightly different. It’s the same two singers and violin player. The same dancers doing the same moves and in a one-week cruise, there was one piece of “magic”. One. I heard the song “Volare” at least twice- maybe three times during the cruise. The dancers are A+ and perform the same choreography the same way in different elaborate costumes almost every night. The stage set is the same- a number of steps with LED lighting that change colors (wow!) and sometimes move a bit to accommodate an elevator lift in the center. In one show, a trio of Oriental ladies do some impressive acrobatics and the two hand-balance muscle men cannot help but impress. The Michael Jackson Revue is OK. It is not great- and that’s from a person who has published reviews of stage performances’. There are important pieces of entertainment that I missed. There are no comedians, no novelty acts, no mix of live musicians no patriotic shows, no magicians, no feature dancers, no Broadway or Hollywood themes . . . well, by now, you get the idea. I never even went to the last show. There is no live orchestra, and the sound equipment barely makes it on a level that my profession can detect. This was confirmed to me by a sound technician who admitted that MSC had cut corners on the microphones and other important sound equipment. Lighting programming (everything is digital of course) violates one of the primary rules of stagecraft. Powerful moving Gobo beam lighting circles the audience, shining in the faces of almost everyone. While interesting, these lights have proven to be a health hazard, triggering seizures to those who cannot handle the repetitive bright flashing. This is something that should be addressed immediately. If you were hoping for a cocktail or other drink to go along with the show, forget it. There is no bar service in the theater. “Guests may not reserve seats for others before show time” is another ridiculous policy in print that simply does not work on the Divina or any cruise ship. There simply is no ships staff on duty in the theater that I saw during any of the evening shows. Saving seats on this ship is as common as any ship in the Caribbean. Again, the take-away here is that show time on the MSC Divina is grossly overrated. It is barely adequate to other like-sized ships. In the winter of 2014, the ship’s Cruise Director is a nice lady who is linguistically challenged. She mispronounces many words and speaks so fast that many guests have difficulty understanding her. Maybe I’m being too critical and her talents are right for the Divinia or a stadium. Other entertainment in smaller lounges and venues are good, but always compete with silly art auctions-at-sea. Who goes on a Caribbean cruise to buy a really ugly painting? Bingo and a number of inside lounge ‘games’ are scheduled and I will admit to enjoying Kevin’s Trivia Quiz sessions. Ports of call My cruise visited the ports of Falmouth, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cozumel and NCL’s (yes NCL) “private island”- Great Stirrup Cay. Any review of these ports would make this a book, so I will reserve port comments to another posting. “A Ship Within a Ship” (the Yacht Club aboard the MSC Divina) When one flies First Class, there are benefits and perks that those in Economy never see. Usually, there is a list of amenities that include special treatment from start to finish. MSC Cruises offers their version of First Class with “A Ship Wit hin a Ship”. It’s a special section of deluxe cabins, with a private elevator, concierge, pool, restaurant, etc. The balance of the passengers on any sailing receives a much different and lesser offering. It is fair to say that passengers in the Yacht Club are in a First Class setting that in almost all cases separates them in fact as well as cruise experience.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
'What plans do you have for your day today?' - 'Did you have a nice day?' - 'Where are you going to eat?' - 'What did you think of the entertainment?' These are examples of the opening conversation ... Read More
'What plans do you have for your day today?' - 'Did you have a nice day?' - 'Where are you going to eat?' - 'What did you think of the entertainment?' These are examples of the opening conversation lines we did not hear from our Concierge except 'Good Morning' and we only got that as a begrudging comment before she returned to her computer. Not on this ship - Everyone made you feel as though you were on a really friendly ship and everyone including the deck and service crew gave you a cheery wave -- that was on Norwegian line. The only time anyone spoke to us was when they were trying to sell you the overpriced jewelry and spa services. And the lifts were a joke. The aft (front) lifts went to the 6th floor but you could not access the back of the ship from there you had to go to the 7th floor and then walk along to the middle to go back down to the 6th. ??? The ship itself was fine. The suite cabin we had was smaller than we normally get and we found our friends who paid less got a bigger suite two floors below. Certainly if it was my first time on a cruise I would think it excellent but unfortunately it seems I have been spoiled by Norwegian line. Just to top it off we dined in the crab shack on the penultimate night and when the waiter put the napkins around my friend's neck he said 'How tight would you like me tie it?' and made a hanging motion as if to hang her. This was unfortunate as her son had actually hung himself five years before. We larfed and larfed over that one............!!   Read Less

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