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10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We went on the 12 night South Pacific cruise from Sydney on 23 December. It was our 7th Celebrity cruise but first from Australia (all the others were from US/Caribbean ports). We have also been on Silversea, Oceania, Royal ... Read More
We went on the 12 night South Pacific cruise from Sydney on 23 December. It was our 7th Celebrity cruise but first from Australia (all the others were from US/Caribbean ports). We have also been on Silversea, Oceania, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Carnival. We are Celebrity Elite level members. Here is the good and the not so good. Cabin Attendant – Excellent – Our cabin attendant (Gabriel) was superb. He was always efficient, smiling and helpful. Our departures were noted and our cabin made up immediately. Tenders – Excellent – Tenders were used at Isle de Pines and Mystery Island. On previous Celebrity cruises tenders have been a problem. On this cruise there were only short waits and even long queues moved quickly. The reason was simple – whoever was in charge used up to 7 lifeboats to provide a high frequency service from two boarding platforms. This was a problem from past cruises fixed – let us hope the same approach is adopted on other ships. Photo Shop – Poor – Bring your own camera and take your own photos. Avoid the photo packages. On previous Celebrity cruises the photo packages were good value by skilled photographers. On this cruise we felt there was no skill or art involved and the resulting photos were poor quality camera work such as parts of heads cuts off. Delays and stresses even getting the package USB on the last night suggested incompetence. Shuttle Bus – Excellent – Noumea – Often a problem on other cruises this, like the tender issue, was solved by whoever was in charge by having plenty of buses in Noumea running a high frequency service so there were no waits. Main dining room (Epernay) – Very Good – We had recently been on much higher priced Silversea and Oceania cruises. The food in the main dining room on Solstice was better than the main dining room on each of those cruise lines although not up to the standard of the speciality restaurants on those lines. Celebrity remains the best food in the mega ship market. Service in Main Dining – Excellent – Our waiters (Valentin and Iryna) were excellent and helpful. Seating in Main Dining – Poor – We are Elite Celebrity members but for some reason got about the worst table in the middle of the bottom level of the dining room. We used to get much better tables before we reached the Elite level. At no stage were we aware of the presence of a maitre d’. Coffee – Poor – The coffee throughout the ship is terrible. Café Bacio does not live up to the hype with poor service, attitude and coffee. Coffee was bitter and too hot. Children – Being an Australian school holiday cruise the ship had over 3000 passengers with lots of children (and prams). Most were well behaved but a few insisted upon pushing all the buttons in the lifts and gangs playing chasing games around the corridors on treasure hunts posed a hazard. Smoking – As non-smokers we were pleased that overall the smoking on board was only a minor inconvenience. Walking/Jogging Track – A design flaw of the Solstice is that the jogging track runs around a deck used for sun lounges and often during the day is hard to use because people put their sun lounges across the track. Whilst not as bad as on other cruises this was still an issue and the staff did not move sun lounges off the track. Sun Lounges – Most of the passengers being Australian it was shade rather than sun that was in demand. There were plenty of lounges available in the sun and sometimes in the shade. Unfortunately there was a lot of saving of lounges by passengers who rarely used them or who put belongings on adjoining lounges to stop them being used and give themselves extra space. This did not appear to be policed by the staff. Ocean View Buffet – Excellent – Huge and at times overcrowded it is usually possible to find something to eat from the wide range. The effort made for Christmas and New Year was spectacular and greatly appreciated. Sushi – Not Good – On previous Celebrity cruises Ocean View Café had reasonable sushi in the evening. Now that is gone. Instead there is only a Sushi café on level 5 which costs extra. Embarkation – Good - Surprisingly quick and efficient. On board 25 minutes after arriving at pier at 12.30pm. Unfortunately we were not then allowed off again that afternoon to spend any more time in Sydney and had not been warned this would be the case. Disembarkation – Good - At 6.40am there was a huge line for walk offs which commenced at 6.50am and went so quickly we were at Sydney airport at 7.20am. Itinerary – OK – Australia is a long way from anywhere which means too many days at sea. There were 6 days at sea and only 5 ports on this cruise. Cabin – Clean and functional the cabins are good for the price. Hygiene – Problem – Whilst there is hand washing lotion everywhere the system for obtaining beverages (sodas, water or alcoholic) seemed likely to be very efficient at spreading disease. You have to hand your seapass to a waiter who swipes it and hands it back and then does the same with someone else’s seapass and on it goes. The system needs to be contactless with the passenger simply waving their seapass. Beverage Packages – Poor – Even if the beverage package you purchase includes the type of drink available in your minibar you get charged again if you take it from the minibar. If your package includes Coke you cannot take the can of Coke from your minibar. Your package only allows you to get one drink at a time from a bar even if that drink is water or soft drink (and each time your seaspass is handled by a staff member who is handling lots of other seapasses and bottles and glasses handled by other passengers). At times the brand of bottled water sold was undrinkable. Internet – OK – Internet costs extra still unless some minutes are included in a deal or because of your status. Speed was fair. Security – As an Australian holiday period cruise there were a lot more passengers in the 20-40 age group than on other cruises, many of them appearing to consume vast amounts of alcohol. Given the amount of alcohol consumed security did a very good job of keeping it a safe cruise. It is certainly far safer than going out in an Australian capital city at night. Entertainment – Disappointing – Apart from Aussie Boys the acts and Celebrity in house entertainers were below the standard expected out of US ports. Movies – Some nights recent release movies were shown in Celebrity Central which is a comfortable cinema. Overall we were impressed. Christmas and New Year were made special which they have not been on some other cruises we have been on. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Firstly a bit about us: we are 45 (husband and wife) who loves to travel and cruise, we are not hard to please people, we like the beach, we like to drink a little, we normally cruise as a couple but sometimes we cruise as a family (with 2 ... Read More
Firstly a bit about us: we are 45 (husband and wife) who loves to travel and cruise, we are not hard to please people, we like the beach, we like to drink a little, we normally cruise as a couple but sometimes we cruise as a family (with 2 kids currently 19 and 21) and sometimes with our friends. We live in Australia but we were born in Portugal and Brazil. This was our 7th cruise. We booked this cruise 10 days before departure, it was a last minute decision we booked the last cabin available being an inside cabin (1055 level 10) and we paid AUD$5,900.00 for it. I have heard hat Celebrity was on the same level as Princess Cruises (we cruised with Diamond Princess and we really liked the ship and the service) and a level higher than Royal Caribbean (we did Radiance, Rhapsody and Voyager) so I was expecting a beautiful ship,with great amenities and outstanding service. It was a Christmas, new years and my husband birthday. Because we are Paltinun level on RC (almost emerald) we had the "Select" tier on Celebrity. Upon arrival, around 3pm, we boarded without any delays or queues, as almost everyone were already in the ship. We went direct to our room. The room was a good size, and good set up, the only improvement would be a nice picture frame or a mirror on the wall opposite the door to give some focal point as one opens the door. The shower whithout the curtains was a big relief, and the best bathroom i've had on a cruise. The only thing we found on our room was a print out with some "special events" for the select members. On the day of those events no invitation was sent to the room so its easy to forget and miss those events. My husbands birthday was during our cruise and nothing was said or given, not even a card saying happy birthday, not a cake or no one wine him a happy birthday. Very disappointing. The ship was on its full capacity, and we noticed it on the pools, and during lunch and breakfast. Breakfast closes at 10am and with only 2 hours to serve breakfast for over 3,000 it was a dogs breakfast, queue for bread, queue for eggs, queue for everything. Same history for lunch. The food was not presented in a nice way, it was like they were feeding the army, bland food and not very nice to look at, no decorations. The hours of service should be increased when the ship is full to accommodate and serve everyone in a nice manner. The lunch was supposed to end at 2.30pm but they start removing the trays around 2.10pm and all is removed but the pasta and pizza only after that. We tried the main dinning room for two nights but the food was not special, and we decided to have dinner at the buffet. The seating area isn't big enough to accommodate all guests during meal time. The only time one could use the buffet wihitout having to fight or queue for food was at dinner time when most guests where at the min dining room. The entertainment was a hit and miss, and we did walk out on few show and didn't turned up for others. With only 3 swimming pools, one indoors for the oldies. And 2 outside with the children taking over was not possible to use it at all. One of those outside pools should be for adults only and the other for the kids. There isn't many activities happening and after 11pm the only option is to go to bed, because there isn't anything to do. The ship is okay and being a new ship to should be stunning. The excursions where very overpriced. The Captain was the best thing on the ship, Captain Tesos is a people person and e is always around the ship and happy to have a chat and take photos. I wouldn't cruise with celebrity again based on my experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
Choice based on rates and available dates. This one fit our needs best. Covered Christmas which we would have had without kids for the first time. Also covered our 40th Anniversary on 12/26. Cruise was great overall. Smaller ship ... Read More
Choice based on rates and available dates. This one fit our needs best. Covered Christmas which we would have had without kids for the first time. Also covered our 40th Anniversary on 12/26. Cruise was great overall. Smaller ship than we had on Carnival but not necessarily a bad thing. More intimate. We met some great people. Destinations were womderful. Climbing Maya ruins on Christmas Day, tubing on a rain Forrest river (in the rain) on our Anniversary with a Maya guide. Next day being smooched on by an amorous Capuccin Monkey. Great times. The staff was friendly for he most part and went out of their way to make us feel special. A couple of bartenders were less than the best but they were more than made for by the rother st. I would recommend this route and cruise line to anyone. We may we'll do this one again. On the down side, though, there were a couple of significant aspects that prevent this from being a 5 star review. First, the center of the top deck by the pool was taken up by a stage. That seriously limited the space for guests. More, though, the Gand that played on that stage was a reggae style band and LOUD! Speakers all around the stage blasted their music into every corner. Lest you think I am just an old fogey who doesn't like loud things, I have been around concussive blast waves. They do bad things to your internal body. This volume felt like one long slow explosion and was painful for me. There was literally no way anyone could carry on a conversation when they were playing. We had to grab whatever food or drink we wanted and head up a deck, and maybe away from the pool area, to get a sound baffle from the glass and other structures in order to enjoy sitting out in the sunshine. The other thing was that we had a card in our room congratulating us on our Anniversary. That was very nice. The card said to give it to the matre de at whatever restaurant we went to on our Anniversary. We chose the French restaurant, Le Bistro. Handed the card over as instructed and were seated. As we were eating a small group of people appeared and sang Let Me Call You Sweetheart to a nearby table. I looked at my wife and speculated that they might were supposed to be singing to us. But, whatever. Shortly the couple at that table came by and asked us if it was our Anniversary since we were the only people in the restaurant tha looked like we were celebrating such an event. He said that they were not even married and he didn't take our cake. Then he went to tell the staff of their mistake. A while later the same people appeared at our table and repeated their performance and placed a very pretty cake on our table, right after we had ordered desert. In fact, our desert showed up in the middle of their singing. We thanked them and asked, since we already had desert, what we were to do with the cake. They said the would box it up for us. That was nice. We finished and we're sitting at the table. Ready to go, we wondered what we were to do about the cake. We got our waiter and asked. He said they had sent it to our cabin. Well, you guessed it, no cake. We never did see that cake again after it was placed on our table. Now, to be sure, we didn't go on the cruise for tha cake. And, had there been no card in our room, we wouldn't have even noticed. But the gesture was made ... and then abysmally executed. We are not looking for any kind of refund and not even sure an apology is necessary. But I have worked in customer service organizations and this was definitely not that. So here is the feedback. Cost you a star. As I said, though, we may we'll repeat this cruise and with NCL. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Traveled for the Christmas week on the Epic. Our group was a party of 6 with two large balcony cabins. We were 4 adults and 2 teens. Embarkation was very easy. No lines at 11 AM. Staff greeted us with a smile and we were easily on board ... Read More
Traveled for the Christmas week on the Epic. Our group was a party of 6 with two large balcony cabins. We were 4 adults and 2 teens. Embarkation was very easy. No lines at 11 AM. Staff greeted us with a smile and we were easily on board and on our way to the buffet area. We had the drink package and immediately began to use it with a cocktail of the day. Amazingly, there was outdoor food ready for us!! The buffet opened shortly after that. We did wait a long time to get to our cabins, and when asking how soon it would be, I was told "when it's ready we will let you know" A bit curt, but oh well! Cabin was as described...........strange but doable Lots of storage but awful lighting and outlets awful. Bring along some extra extensions of some sort.. Met our wonderful cabin steward, Rosalee, who remembered our names from the first time we met! How do they do this???? She did all that she could to meet our needs but was never intrusive. Will get back to cabin issues in another section of this review. Been on several cruises and feel this food was some of the best. Have read other reviews of this ships food and can't understand why all the complaints? Ate in 3 specialty restaurants and all were great!!! Mostly ate beef the entire trip, so after I have my arteries cleared, will stay off beef for awhile! Drinks were good and plentiful and service was very good for the most. Wonderful service in Cagney's and Tempanaki !!! Catered to our shell fish allergic granddaughter, always watching to be certain there was no cross contamination. Entertainment was as good as any ship we have been on and we were sure to have made reservations as we knew this would be a very crowded cruise. Husband liked the casino, but was unlucky! Felt some of the big events held in the Atrium should have been moved to the theater as there was just too much crowding and not nearly enough places to sit. Actual shipboard activities were just OK. As always pool deck very over crowded and seat savers the usual problem as on all cruises. Basically used my own large balcony instead. Bought admission for the adult only water spa and enjoyed the peace and quiet and huge water features for the entire week.Very clean! Thought Epic did a good job celebrating Christmas all week....music, movies etc. Did not do any tours this time as we had been to these islands previously. Also there was the need to tender and water was rough for me to safely get on and off the ship.Missed Jamaica due to high winds, so felt bad for my grand kids. Now the ugly! We noticed that our carpet in the cabin was very wet and reported it in the A.M. We were having room service in our cabin when maintenance knocked and asked if they could come in to check. No problem we said. They failed to mention that they were going to open a drain while we were eating!!!! Quite an odor! We quickly went outside on the balcony to finish our meal and when we went back in, they had left two very large pieces of equipment to quickly dry up the carpet. Now we all know how small these cabins are and it is next to impossible to get past the bed to begin with, so having a large fan and a dehumidifier in the ONLY walking space was quite a trick!! Also the volume of noise was unbelievable!!!!! So after we tried our best to get ready, we left the cabin for the day. They were still in place when we came back to rest and had to call maintenance to haul them away. Carpet never really dried and on the night of day 4 it happened again!! Really nasty!!! Back with the fans etc! Now on the last night of out cruise, while packing, I received a call from customer relations asking if we would please move out for the night to a cabin one flight up. Ummm, I don't think so! They then proceed to say they were concerned with our health...think MOLD.....really?? How about the last 6 days? If they had another cabin to move us to, then why didn't they? Originally said ship was at capacity. Where did the people who were in this new found cabin go? Did they leave them on last port? Were they sleeping on the pool deck? Did they jump ship? Made no sense and so declined. What they really wanted was to run those fans all night to cover up the wet carpet for the oncoming next day guest!!!! Well good luck with that as they never did find the problem. For a week of soggy carpet the generously compensated us $100 Probably not nearly enough to cover one of the medical tests we may need for mold disease!!!!! All in all it was a good cruise if you eliminate the carpet stuff and our inability to stop in Jamaica. Nothing is perfect. When dealing with 4,000+ passengers you must expect some blips, so get over most of these issues. Again, special thanks to our room steward, Rosalie!!!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
We chose to do this cruise as it encompassed both Christmas (which also happens to be my son's birthday) and New Year's Eve--many other cruise options offered just one or the other. For such a big ship, I was surprised to have ... Read More
We chose to do this cruise as it encompassed both Christmas (which also happens to be my son's birthday) and New Year's Eve--many other cruise options offered just one or the other. For such a big ship, I was surprised to have to go looking for food when I felt hungry. I am an experienced cruiser, and couldn't believe that buffets and snack-style restaurants had very short hours throughout the ship on a daily basis. That being said, we went through a few things that we'd never experienced on a cruise and couldn't believe they happened to us: 1) On my son's birthday, December 25th, we visited the Central Park 101 restaurant to celebrate. The staff assured me that the table would be decorated, etc. While we were seated promptly, none of the promises were fulfilled. No decorations, and very poor service--as a matter of fact we even had to ask multiple times for the bread. This was also the day after we went to the Chops restaurant which was amazing and had set the bar very high. Being that we had such a positive experience the day before in Chops which has the same price tag as Central Park 101, we complained about the subpar service and the forgotten decorations. The manager was extremely rude and told us that we should just go back to Chops if we liked it better there the night before. After hearing how rude he was being, my son who never complains at restaurants spoke up and let the manager know that this was no way to be treating customers, specially on a holiday like Christmas! 2) Upon re-embarking the ship at port on the following day, the card scanner started going crazy when my son handed the security guard his card with the screen reading "security alert". Security made a huge fuss out of this and said that my son had to go to emergency services immediately yet didn't want to tell us what the issue was. Being that my son had just turned 23 and that I paid for the cruise, I wanted to know what was going on, so I went to guest services with him. I was worried that he wasn't telling me something because I never had to deal with something like this. Long story short, after treating us like criminals and putting us into a room in which they alerted us that they would be recording us with both "audio and video" (!), it turned out that on the first night of the cruise, my son got flagged in the system for "providing alcohol to minors". He recalled the event, and it was the first night at the Sushi restaurant when he gave his younger (18) sister a sip of his drink so she could try it. Having done a Costa cruise in Europe prior to this one, he actually thought the drinking age was 18+, and when the hostess went up to him to alert him that it was actually 21+ on the ship, he apologized and never gave my daughter a sip again. Apparently the misunderstanding wasn't resolved because they put us through hell for something unbelievably innocent. In the end they realized how ridiculous it was and even sent us a bottle of champagne to our room for blowing the situation out of proportion. What a stressful situation for no reason at all... Ridiculous. 3) New Year's Eve... We have done New Year's Eve on other ships before and had an amazing time. Expected nothing less on such a beautiful ship as the Allure. First, our cabin steward threw away a shopping bag containing various New Years hats, masquerade masks, noise makers, etc. that had already made it through the first 8 nights of our cruise thinking that it was trash. I don't know how you can possibly think all of that is trash when it is quite obvious what it is for. Additionally, the celebration party was subpar. Balloons were dropped from the ceiling to little fanfare, and made for a truly lackluster experience. 4) We asked for breakfast room service 6 times, via hanging the request card on our door before the cut-off time. It was only delivered once. Unbelievable. 5) While there were a few nice employees on the ship, it's noteworthy to mention that many were noticeably in a bad mood, which is very atypical of ship crew that are normally very nice to guests. I don't know if this was the end of a lot of crew's contracts or if management was mistreating them but something was definitely off. The ports of call were great, and the ship itself was very nice. However, on our overall experience we were truly let down as experienced cruisers. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
To enjoy a special Christmas and New Years holiday vacation in which I treated my sons and their wives (40 ish adults) I booked this cruise expecting an enjoyable 10 days. I Have been on over 40 cruises to date and previous ones without ... Read More
To enjoy a special Christmas and New Years holiday vacation in which I treated my sons and their wives (40 ish adults) I booked this cruise expecting an enjoyable 10 days. I Have been on over 40 cruises to date and previous ones without the whole family that were outstandingly good, this one was a sad disappointment in so many ways, outstandingly bad. TERRIBLE - food, service, attitude. VERY, VERY short buffet hours yet, 20 minutes before afternoon closing buffet ran out of french fries and hot dogs, and the cook REFUSED TO COOK ANY MORE THAT DAY! At three different meals in the buffet, diet Coke was unavailable because they were out of syrup or was not mixing right, the other fountain in the buffet also was not able to provide diet coke either, no one seemed to be concerned about getting machine fixed. - - We were charged for drinks that were supposed to be included as one of our DIAMOND STATUS drinks between 5pm and 830pm, had to go to the service desk twice to get account corrected. - - In one of the ports, St Martins I believe, the ship blew away from the dock during boarding, fortunately no one was injured but it took 20-30 minutes to get the ship tied up properly and the gangways functional again. - - the bottom of the pool is in absolutely terrible condition, mirrors in the cabin bathrooms are black along the bottoms and sides because of damage or age, wiring on deck five atrium speaker was haphazardly attached to glass and mirrors for 3-4 feet with pieces of black electrical tape - - The dancers in the production shows were good, but the singers and the song selections were poor. - - The orchestra was performing well but sounded poor because the sound-man/sound mixer person hasn't a clue or has a tin ear (get him some training or get someone else) - - the pool attendants were not enforcing the time limit rule on unattended deck chairs, so it was impossible to get one for ourselves - - the teenagers on board were not made to follow the curfew and were out running around all hours disturbing others - - these are the major issues I can recall, but it appears to me it is a top down problem on this ship, or maybe corporate down problem. I do not plan, even though I have diamond status and get some good perks, to ever cruise on Royal Carib. again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Our group of 12 was on the NORWEGIAN JEWEL from December 23 -30, 2016. The group was my wife and I (4 other cruises) in an Oceanview stateroom, my 29 year old son and his girlfriend (first cruise) in an Oceanview stateroom, my 24 year old ... Read More
Our group of 12 was on the NORWEGIAN JEWEL from December 23 -30, 2016. The group was my wife and I (4 other cruises) in an Oceanview stateroom, my 29 year old son and his girlfriend (first cruise) in an Oceanview stateroom, my 24 year old daughter and her boyfriend (3rd cruise) in an Oceanview stateroom, my daughter’s boyfriend’s parents (2nd cruise) in an Oceanview stateroom, our son’s girlfriend’s aunt and the girlfriend’s 10 year old son (1st cruise) in a balcony stateroom and the aunt’s sister and husband (2nd cruise) in an Interior stateroom. Whew! Confusing group, I know. Main point is that we had a variety of ages and experience. The aunt and her sister were both renting scooters and had some mobility issues. But EVERYONE had a great time. Different takes from everyone, but I’ll focus as best I can on the overall experience, but understand that not everyone did everything I talk about here. EMBARKATION: This was a disappointing mess. My wife and I plus a few others in the group arrived in LA that morning. It was pretty fast (30 minutes) to get from LA to the port, and we used a VERY nice van service. There are lots in a city that size…our group of 8 was big enough (with all the suitcases) to get our very own van, but at no extra charge. We arrived at the port and it took forever for the porter to take our bags. Yes, we had a lot, but it took longer than it should have. Then a port representative met us to help with our family member who needed a wheelchair. One family member was allowed to go with her, but that meant having her niece leave her little boy with us…and as we aren’t his family members, we couldn’t bring him on the ship. What a mess! Finally, our son, the boy, the niece and the aunt all went off and my wife and I fended for ourselves. We were glad to see a line for “repeat” customers (we’re bronze…lowest level) but it saved no time. We all ended up at the same check-in counters. The wait was 45 minutes. In the end, we were the last folks on the ship from our whole group. Normally we are on by noon or 1. It was after two, and cabins were already available, so the ship was a madhouse. RESTAURANTS: I’ll start with THE GREAT OUTDOORS. This was where we met up with most of our group as we waited for muster drill. As always, this is a great spot to look around at the views, grab a drink, get some food and NOT have significant crowds. You have to walk all the way through the very long cafeteria to get to it, and I guess a lot of folks just won’t bother. The buffet doesn’t have as many choices as the main buffet, but it still has PLENTY to choose from. The atmosphere is just so much more relaxing. We spent time in the late evenings as well (once we were in Mexican temps…it was a little chilly in SoCal!). Buffet is open late, the bar is pouring and the sound of the ship moving through the ocean is relaxing. You can have a party atmosphere here or a calm one. Our first couple of dinners, we did as a group of 12. With the Christmas holidays, I had to reserve seats for Christmas Eve (formal night) as well as Christmas brunch and then Christmas night dinner. Our first night (the 23rd) we tried out Tsar’s, the more “formal” or “traditional” of the two MDRs. We were seated quickly and the food and service was very nice. The following night was good as well. Folks were seldom truly formal (saw a small smattering of tuxes), but there were plenty of suits. I don’t know if Christmas Eve just brought out a larger selection of dressier folks. Not every meal everyone had was a homerun, and there were a few uneaten appetizers or entrees…but I liked everything I had for the most part. On the first night, I had the prime rib and it was very tasty. (I had prime rib on EXPLORER OF THE SEAS 3 months prior, and that was quite tasteless.) Anyway, when Christmas brunch came around, things fell apart a bit from a service perspective. So much so, they gave me a free bottle of wine. Very slow. Wrong items arriving. Half the table receiving their entrees and the other half waiting forever. It was not good, so after that, our party never had dinner at Tsar’s again. We made the move to Azura that night and while, to be honest, I like the formal Tsar’s a bit better…everyone seemed to feel more at ease, so I was happy. The service was good too. Food is the same as at Tsar’s…but the more contemporary atmosphere is quite different. I recommend you try both. They each have something nice to offer. (By the way, Tsar’s is open for breakfast, and I highly recommend it. You can often get a table by a window and have a lovely view of the ocean while you gorge yourself!). We had lunch on the 24th at CHIN-CHIN, the included Chinese place. For lunch, it is a noodle house…and it was quite tasty!! A couple of the older members of our group were not so enchanted by the unorthodox food…but most of us loved it. (If you wanted an alcoholic beverage, though, you had to run down a level and get it from one of the bars. We had no bar service there, as for some reason, the bar at the sushi joint was closed at lunch time.) We only tried the main buffet one for breakfast and once for lunch. It is fine. Crowded but fine. We ended up having several breakfast’s at O’SHEEHAN’S, the delightful “open almost all the time” sit down place with a large, Irish-themed bar adjacent. The have a limited menu of things like burgers, fries, tuna sandwich, etc…but for breakfast, they have essentially the same choices as Tsar’s and it’s a bit more casual. (A great place for a pre or post-hangover dose of protein, too.) Service, to be honest, was always a bit indifferent, but it was efficient, so I was happy enough. The only specialty restaurant we did was TEPPANYAKI, as a group of 12 on the 28th. We had a blast, and the food was terrific. Fresh and tasty and plentiful. There is an extra charge, which I think is a bit high (about $30, I think)…but if you can do a splurge, this is a fun time. Only gripe was that they were 15 minutes late seating us, so we were a bit pressed for time to catch the show in the theater. We did not try other specialty places this time, as we enjoyed having dinner with our kids and their SOs. The older folks in the group did try some other spots and gave glowing reports about Cagney’s and less-than-enthused about the Italian spot. BARS Many of us had selected the drink package as one of our ad-ons (part of the special), and we sure got our money’s worth. It was the holidays, and for most of the trip, the weather was warm and sunny. So we indulged a fair amount. The limit was $15, and we seldom exceeded it. And not everything needed to be well drinks, either. Jack Daniels, Johnny Black, etc. were all covered. I saw no real “generic” names. Strangely, Dark and Stormy’s were more than $15??!! I was able to order a Moscow Mule with dark instead of white rum…so that was just a little odd. I can’t speak much about the wine…we had very little of that, but my kids often got a glass at dinner and seemed satisfied. They are not very knowledgeable, though! Beer was the usual disappointing array. A couple of places had Heineken on draft, but overall the selection was poor. I was pleasantly surprised to find they had a Pale Ale from Lagunita’s though. That seemed like a random (but nice) choice to pop up in a sea of Budweiser, Coors & Sam Adams lager. The bars themselves all had various things to offer, but most really had the same stuff as anyone else. The notable exception was the Mojito Bar (connected to Cagney’s Steakhouse) which poured some really unusual and tasty mojitos you couldn’t get anywhere else. They have more limited hours, so make plans to drop by. It is a bit more “elegant” than many of the bars and they actually serve a chex-mix type of thing to encourage lingering. So you might feel out of place stopping by in your swim trunks and flip-flops. Otherwise, it’s a standard selection of pool-side bars, bars in the two clubs and a smattering throughout the ship. Each bar was nice and the service was generally good. I was always able to order two drinks with just one card. And ordering doubles was never an issue. Frankly, some of these guys poured with a very heavy hand. I ordered a double Cape Cod for my wife, and they basically filled the glass with vodka and then splashed a smidgen of cranberry juice on top. Watch out! ENTERTAINMENT As with all other cruises we’ve done, this was a bit hit and miss. The Norwegian Jewel cast was actually pretty good and we enjoyed BAND OF THE RUN, essentially a collection of songs from the 70s / 80s. High energy, fast moving and the live band was great. In fact, most of the shows featured the live band, and they were always a pretty tight ensemble. Yes, they stared hard at their cheat sheets and weren’t terribly charismatic…but they sounded really great. We enjoyed ourselves overall at these shows. We didn’t spend much time with the other entertainment on the ship, except occasionally a song or two in Spinnaker’s, the bigger of the clubs, with a dance floor and lots of seating. Spinnaker’s is the site of many daytime “games” as well. This place gets a lot of use, but when it is not in use, there is no better spot for some quiet time reading or looking at the sea. MISC: We spent some time playing board games in the game room. It’s so nice that they have that. It’s a simple little feature (right next to the library) but on this family oriented cruise…it was packed! Speaking of family oriented…THE QUEST game show, which is usually for adults only, was REALLY for adults only. It is held in the Spinnaker, which makes it possible for more people to get involved (compared to, say, the Ice Arena on a Royal Caribbean ship, where you can just watch and laugh if you want). The challenges got quite racy at the end, and as my son said once “I definitely saw some nudity.” So be warned. We laughed our butts off, but I was a little surprised as well. Spinnaker also hosted White Hot night, because the weather had gotten very blustery. Being indoors dampened this event, and it was a bit of a flop, I would say. We had looked forward to it, but somehow, being inside just wasn’t as fun as spreading out over the two levels around the pool, tropical drink in hand, dancing like fool. The 10 year old with us spent LOTS of time on the sports court. Soccer tournaments, basketball, etc. He enjoyed the Kids Club (can’t remember the name) and was immediately ready to do another cruise! CABIN: We had an oceanview room on deck 5, so this featured a picture window, rather than a porthole. It was a perfectly serviceable cabin…just like any other. If you’ve cruised before, you know what I mean. If not…just expect something that looks like an inexpensive hotel room, but much smaller. Store your suitcases under the bed. Bring handing cosmetic bags as there is essentially no counter space. (I will say, though, that the room had perhaps a little bit more storage space than we’ve had before. We actually had an unused drawer! Our steward was fine…nothing special, but our room was always clean and towels always stocked and ice always provided. We didn’t see him much, but didn’t really need to. DISEMBARKATION This was essentially a breeze, although we had to wait extra for the two wheelchairs we needed. This made us amongst the last to debark, but everything was smooth. You can still get a lovely breakfast in Tsar’s and I recommend that. One last shot of really nice, tablecloth service! (One tip…we had rented a couple of vehicles from the Enterprise dealership in San Pedro. Their shuttle took us there and then my son and I had to wait for over an hour to get cars. It was SO terribly jam-packed. The staff was overwhelmed. It’s a tiny office and you actually have to wait outside. Find another solution!! Take an uber to a neighboring town for a rental car. (We had to spend about 8 hours in LA before our flight, so we wanted a bit of freedom to move around.) Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We chose this cruise for three main reasons. The itinerary went to ports in Brazil that we have never been before. Two, we love the staff and the service on the NCL Sun. Three, the food is always excellent, although we ate at specialty ... Read More
We chose this cruise for three main reasons. The itinerary went to ports in Brazil that we have never been before. Two, we love the staff and the service on the NCL Sun. Three, the food is always excellent, although we ate at specialty restaurants and the buffet, not in the main dinning room. We have traveled on the Sun before in South America, but never out of Buenas Aires north to Brazil. The ship took a long time to sell out, I think for several factors, Americans needed a visa to got to Brazil, the overblown fear of Zika, the expensive cost of flights from North America this time of year, and that it included two holidays that many people spend with family. Because of this the prices went really low and allowed us to upgrade from a obstructed porthole window to a mini suite. Then after final reduction two months out we splurged for a penthouse suite. The ship is usually at least 50% English speaking passengers but with the reluctance of the North Americans to book this cruise there were only 120 English speakers on board. Personally, I thought that made it more fun. Room 9076 was a dream. An aft suite with a separate bedroom, huge bathroom with full size jetted tub, and a balcony that was incredible. The extra services that came with the room like a butler and concierge were nice but did not add that much to the value of the room itself. I know some people complain that NCL nickel and dimes you on their cruises, but I just don't find that to be true. Most everyone gets a free drink package when you make your reservation. If you want better food at dinner, you. buy a specialty restaurant package. The tours are very overpriced and it is worth it to use Cruise Critic or other means to make tour plans on your port stops. The Spa is expensive as well, but no more so than other cruise lines. On any cruise you take there will be a daily service charge added to you account, be ready for that. They don't allow bottled water to be brought onto the ship anymore, so you bring a large water bottle and fill it up on board. I can assure that the water on board is cleaner than most American cities. With the unusual number of Latino's on this cruise, I thought the cruise director and his staff could have done a better job with the music, even if it was just with a DJ. British Rockers just didn't cut it. Other than that, we love the ship. It is not too big. There is always room where ever you want to go. Remember if your going south around the tip of South America the pool area is not covered. The staff has always been incredibly helpful and considerate and will keep us coming back. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
My adult niece and I both live in Maryland so sailing from Baltimore eliminated a long drive or a flight. We drove in the morning of cruise, arriving around 11:30am. Dropping of luggage, parking car and entering cruise terminal took all of ... Read More
My adult niece and I both live in Maryland so sailing from Baltimore eliminated a long drive or a flight. We drove in the morning of cruise, arriving around 11:30am. Dropping of luggage, parking car and entering cruise terminal took all of 10 minutes. There was no wait to reach the security screener other than guests in front of us had to dig for their set sail and passports. Once inside we completed our health forms and were directed to the suite line. We were in a Junior Suite and I am diamond plus, niece is platinum. No wait to reach an agent and on the ship by 12:05. Using the lower gangway puts you on the ship on deck 1. We elected to take the steps to deck 4 to the R bar to wait for staterooms to be ready. Settled down to enjoy the ship and have our welcome aboard cocktails, Cosmo for me and white wine for niece. Shortly after 1pm we made our way to deck 8 and our lovely stateroom. Dropped our backpacks and headed to windjammer for a little something to hold us til 5:30 fixed seating. Not very busy at that time but very few clean tables. Then back to stateroom to see if luggage had arrived. Out of 6 bags 3 were there! Wandered the ship until 3ish then headed to cabin to get our coats for muster drill at 3:15pm. Fortunately we were on the sunny side of the ship and it was almost hot standing there. Lesson learned, don't arrive on time, that is 3:15pm. We stood there until 3:40pm before the announcements and instructions were made. Fortunately it was over at 3:45pm. Made our way to deck 10 for sail away. By this time the sun was going down and it was getting cold. When we hadn't pulled away from the pier by 4:30 we gave up and went to our cabin. I had hoped to watch us go under the Key Bridge but our 5:30 dining time came before we sailed. We had a great time and booked the same cruise for next year. Biggest issue I had was our next door neighbors, the cabin just forward of ours, was smoking on the veranda. Called guest services the first night to complain. I was told to stick my head around the divider and determine if they were in fact the smokers! I advised that was not my responsibility to confront other guests. Went to bed determined to track down the Hotel Director in the morning. On our first sea day I opened the veranda door to enjoy the view and was met by cigarette smoke. Called the front desk to complain and with in 5 minutes two security officers were knocking on our door. They went out on our balcony and stuck their heads arounds and saw the people smoking! Officer advised the guests she would be right over to speak with them. She advise us the matter would be resolved and I would not have to call again. Taken care of! Thank you RCI. Dining - We had 5:30 fixed seating and loved it. Always finished in time if we wanted to see the early show. Dinner in the MDR was hit or miss. We found it best to order 2 entrees. I loved Izumi, ate there once, niece loved Giovanni's - ate there twice, Chops was good - had one meal there. Most of our breakfasts were in the MDR, love being served and the food was hot. Lunch was in the WJ, found the MDR lunch menu to be very limited. Issue in WJ was finding a clean table. Only once during the entire cruise did a staff person ask if we wanted a coffee or water refill in the WJ. Entertainment - Did not go to production shows. The headliner entertainers were good to great. Surprisingly loved the 'unexpected boys' and the adult comedian. Rosario Strings and the piano entertainer in the Schooner Bar were my favorites. I loved quiet evenings in the Viking Crown Lounge. Service - The crew were wonderful. Always a smile, Merry Christmas or Happy New Year. Ports and Shore Excursions - Loved Antigua and St Maarten, they about my favorite stops. Used ship excursions for St Thomas and Antigua for beach trips. Kids - We had just over 500 children onboard and I was surprised how little I saw or heard any. It wasn't until the last day we ran into the 'packs of tweens'. Wonderful holiday cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
good value for the dollar we got two holidays in one trip. The dining was our only issue, the waiter was not very friendly or sociable just stuck to his job and staff was under sized as our waiter's helper had 4 tables to handle ... Read More
good value for the dollar we got two holidays in one trip. The dining was our only issue, the waiter was not very friendly or sociable just stuck to his job and staff was under sized as our waiter's helper had 4 tables to handle when they normally have two . My request on first dining seating for raw sugar was quickly shot down as our waiter said they were out of that kind and should be getting some tomorrow so i was like ok. Next evening at dinner same story so i questioned why the windjammer has tons of raw sugar, he had no explanation and walk away at that time i said to my wife" I am tired of this crap" and I was going to customer service to complain,when out of nowhere the helper brings the sugar and never had a issue with sugar the rest of cruise. Now the food from start to finish of cruise was always lukewarm and is unacceptable,I said something to head waiter but that was useless, one night I ordered the meatballs and they were raw inside, head waiter got me new order and same thing raw inside,so he got me 3rd order except this time had more gravy on top, when cut open raw again he said they all are like that, to dip in gravy you will never see the color, then walked away. I could not believe what he said, after all the warnings about eating undercooked food. Ship overall is in average shape and could use some updating, showers are too small and the shower curtain stuck to you like glue. Toilets wont flush at times seems like maintenance is fixing them all the time. Shore excursions where costly, certain taxis were costly when doing your own thing, we did group tours which were reasonable from 15 to 40 a person.The galley tour n brunch was well worth the 20 bucks,fillet mignon was on the menu all you can eat, highly recommend.Staff was friendly and very helpful.Shows were very good .Overall I have been on this ship 3 times and this was the worst for food quality and dinner service. The park cafe is the pits,they have no wraps, no turkey, no made to order sandwiches unless it was a panini,the burgers,fries,hot dogs,pizza was always cold. Younger kids constantly ran around the ship some were pressing the elevator buttons some just causing noise. I would do cruise again as this was the first time for some issues that we did not experience on prior cruises with this ship. Read Less

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