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999 Holiday Cruise Reviews

This was our 8th cruise and the 4th with RCI, the others with Princess and Celebrity. Our embarkation was very smooth and we were soon on the ship with our cases reaching our cabin swiftly, which is more that can be said for our taxi ride ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise and the 4th with RCI, the others with Princess and Celebrity. Our embarkation was very smooth and we were soon on the ship with our cases reaching our cabin swiftly, which is more that can be said for our taxi ride from our hotel from upper east Manhattan, this involved two cabs because the 1st cab wasn't allowed through the tunnel (or as the driver of the 2nd cab put it, he was too lazy to take us) I digress. Our first impression of the ship which is fairly typical whenever we get onboard a large ship is wow, but this ship had a little extra wow. We were quiet surprised to see so much repair work going on after we set sailed, this gave us a feeling that things were all a bit rushed when it came to finishing the ship off maybe it was down to how well Germany did in the world cup. Activities: These were important to us as we had a few days where the weather kept us inside. The Seaplex was a really impressive venue with a good range of interesting activities. Ripcord by ifly we loved this and managed to try it more than once! The North star was good but as you'd expect very popular so queuing was often involved, it also suffered from the sea conditions which at times were too rough for it to be in service, the best time to do it by far was at sea. This is the 1st cruise I tried the flow rider, I soon wondered why I hadn't done it before, I was kicking myself about all the times I'd watched others but not tried it, I got pretty good at the boogie board but struggled at the stand up, maybe if I'd tried on the earlier cruises I'd be surfing like the cool guys. Entertainment: We loved the shows, Mama Mia was great but our favourite was Starwater which took place in the Two 70, we was lucky enough to see it several times, it is a truly unique show that you must see. The other entertainers were good and seemed to go down well with the other cruisers which can be a tough crowd to please. The bionic bar didn't really do it for me, once I'd seen it make one drink that was the time to move on. Because it wasn't really in a bar room as such it was more like something you happened to glanced at on the way to something else, it lacked a bar atmosphere a bit like the robots, cold and lifeless. I saw this feature as a gimmick, I'd be interested how the robots would fare against a real person drinks per minute. The music hall was a good venue for live music where we really enjoyed the Beatlemanic's, however as good as they were, playing four nights in a row with virtually the same set was rather stretching the point too far. Dining: Because we could only book one show and one restaurant on line before we cruised, we were at a considerable disadvantage when it came to booking the restaurants and shows we wanted when we wanted them, we wasted too much time queuing to try and sort this out and then didn't get what we wanted because other cruisers that were allowed to book up to six months in advance had filled all the allocations ! We could only get one reservation for the Grande because of this situation so were restricted to one formal night and yet we talked to other cruisers that had five nights booked ! Not being able to book before we cruised really wasted a lot of our time at the beginning of our cruise, so for us dynamic dining started on the wrong foot. Dynamic dining seemed like an education and a steep learning curve for both for us and the crew, for us if we'd been able to book before, we could judge this new system but as we couldn't it has clouded our judgment, so I'm not going to comment on this further other than saying that we all knew about the new Dynamic dining before we got onboard. On past cruises we have enjoyed the Johnny Rockets experience, but what we now have on the Quantum is very different, if your not going to do Johnny Rockets properly then don't do it at all, it was nothing like the diner experience we'd come to love, very disappointing! Disembarkation: On the day of disembarkation we had booked a trip, so following the instructions on the ticket we went to the excursions lounge well before time only to find nobody there to greet and organise things, we then joined a line after hearing that one for excursions was now leaving the ship, this was hampered by other cruisers also trying to leave at the same exit. Whilst making our way off the ship we were told that we should have been given a number one sticker and that our suit cases should have had been tagged one to four, we had been given forty eight ! We were not the only cruisers that were given the wrong luggage tags. Our excursion tickets stated that we meet at 08:15 and our tour will start at 08:30, we didn't get on the tour bus until 10:00 after a great deal of stress and confusion that could have been avoided if we were informed as to what was going on, the problem was dumped in the lap of the warehouse personnel who were very helpful, but we were still 90 minutes short on our tour. Photos: I really liked what the've done with the photographic department however, I ordered a Digital copy of a photo and got a disc with a licence agreement and a small program but no photo ! ? Out of pocket and no photo ! Shopping: There seemed to be a lot of expensive high end shops on board which were nearly always empty, not really aimed at your average cruiser but pretty to look at. Some shops selling more useful products were missing. The Daily cruise planner was frequently wrong, if I read something on it, go to see it and it's not happening, I walk away disappointed. Overall we really liked the ship and as it is so new it will understandably have teething problems which I'm sure will be ironed out, but every now and then you felt like a Guinea pig. The crew were amazing and as always really worked hard to keep us all happy noticeably in the dining and activities. We would use this ship again but would approach the dining situation differently in a hope that we could get it to work for us. If your due to go on the Quantum don't worry I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself, with the help of the crew you'll have a good time. We hope the Anthem will learn from the Quantum's mistakes.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Just got off the Carnival Victory 4 days Western Caribbean (12-18/12-22), our 7 cruise in the last 24 months, 6 on Carnival, 1 on Royal Caribbean. I am a firm believer of having a consistent user experience that is what Carnival has ... Read More
Just got off the Carnival Victory 4 days Western Caribbean (12-18/12-22), our 7 cruise in the last 24 months, 6 on Carnival, 1 on Royal Caribbean. I am a firm believer of having a consistent user experience that is what Carnival has delivered so far. Second time on the Victory. Comparing Carnival to my sailing in Royal Caribbean, simply no comparison, maybe I took the wrong ship with Royal (Vision of the Seas) on a Western Caribbean sailing back in October for Halloween (2014). Let me share some highlights… Excellent cruise director Marcelo, second time with him (different ships), great activities on-board, good entertainment especially for kids during the Holidays and the adult comedy is always great. I am trying to understand why I see comments from people complaining about the food, to me and my wife it was great, and at the Pacific dining room we had Reynaldo, great host to our table, very attentive to all of our request. Jeffrey our cabin attendant was great and very personal greeting us by name all the time. Bar staff with Benedicto by the pool on Lido deck was great; Ayu as well on the pool bar was great. Kelly from the Netherlands in Guest Services was excellent attending to my requirements. If you are on a budget an interior cabin is the way to go, we had 2342 on Deck 2, main deck, tough we felt some movement, and it was just perfect!!!! If in Cozumel as for taxi#50, Alex you will not regret it! A Happy Carnival customer and fan!     Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Embarkation - OK, long line but moved along well, no issues. Ship - I understand it is due a refresh, you can see some areas need it BUT not a problem. Food - good food buffet choice was good, restaurant, small portions but good. Went to ... Read More
Embarkation - OK, long line but moved along well, no issues. Ship - I understand it is due a refresh, you can see some areas need it BUT not a problem. Food - good food buffet choice was good, restaurant, small portions but good. Went to Portifino steak was great. Cafe in promenade starbucks coffee great, snack food choice great especially late at night, get the cupcakes. Jonny Rockets was a bit of a waste of space - top deck never seen it busy at all, if they relocated it to promenade then more people would use it I think. Crew - all good, very friendly and welcoming. Ports of call - Labadee could be better, did not like dogs roaming about, but good to get off ship for the day. Other ports at ABC islands very good. Entertainment - all good. Disembarkation - was terrible, took a long time and we were self assist. Line to disembark was into the casino where you are allowed to smoke - we do not smoke!!!!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Nice ship, wonderful staff, great food, terrific entertainment. What or who ruined it were other cruisers. Guess because it was so close to Christmas and the colleges and universities were off, the young people decided to party. First day ... Read More
Nice ship, wonderful staff, great food, terrific entertainment. What or who ruined it were other cruisers. Guess because it was so close to Christmas and the colleges and universities were off, the young people decided to party. First day at sea a group got very intoxicated at upper pool bar. On the last night there was a loud party on deck 8 that continued til midnight. Loud people on balconies and people smoking where they should not be. Lesson learned here, avoid this time period for future cruising. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Pros: big ship, 3 water slides, 2 rock climbing walls, lots of hot tubs, huge gym, many restaurants, great food and service, excellent entertainment (Blue Man show is a must!), perfect for families with kids (young or teens). Cons: small ... Read More
Pros: big ship, 3 water slides, 2 rock climbing walls, lots of hot tubs, huge gym, many restaurants, great food and service, excellent entertainment (Blue Man show is a must!), perfect for families with kids (young or teens). Cons: small cabins, separated toilet & shower means you dry yourself off in the hallway of your cabin(!!), no large atrium or glass elevators, very crowded buffet at Garden Cafe on deck 15, sundeck area is small. First time on Norwegian, loved the laid-back "freestyle" cruise atmosphere. No need to dress up for dinner, no assigned dining times. Food was excellent -- lots of selections from a variety of countries (Indian, Mexican, Italian, Japanese, American). It's a party ship -- lots of dancing and music on the pool deck. Even if you're shy or feel you can't dance, they have simple line dances that anyone can join. The inside cabin is very small. There's storage, but not much room to open your suitcase on the floor. If you order room service, you'll have to eat on the bed(!!). The bathrooms = everyone hates them. The toilet and shower are separated. So, if you want to dry off after a shower and change into your pjs or fresh clothes, you can only do that in the shower, or in the small space right in front of your cabin door. While brushing your teeth or washing your hands or face, your cabin roommate will see you, as the sink is located in the middle of your cabin. Entertainment and variety of activities is excellent. Blue Man Group is a must see. I attended several lectures on board -- digital photography, upcoming cruises, Meet the Blue Men, etc and found them extremely interesting and useful. Families with kids will love the pools, water slides and rock climbing walls. Saw a lot of teens at the video arcade and basketball court. The ship attracts a lot of families, so if you prefer quiet cruises, please choose another ship. Couples who want privacy (meaning no kids), can use the Spice H2O/Haven area at the rear of the ship. It's quiet and there are 2 hot tubs, a bar and a heated (!) pool. This was my third cruise. I would highly recommend Norwegian Epic to those who: -- want great food and entertainment -- like a laid-back, relaxing cruise, without dress codes and assigned dinner times. -- like a big ship and don't mind crowds -- are traveling as a family with small kids or teens Don't chose the Norwegian Epic if you: -- like peace and quiet on your holiday -- hate small children -- hate large crowds About me: -- Late 30s, female, Canadian living in Asia. Traveled on a "girl's only" holiday with a female friend. -- My parents (late 60s, early 70s) joined me on this cruise. They loved the ship and didn't care about the small children or noise. -- I've cruised Western Mediterranean with Royal Caribbean and Middle East with Costa. This cruise was my first time with Norwegian. -- I was impressed with Norwegian and will likely cruise with this company again.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Disney Dream cruise was the best experience right from the start. Here is a detailed view: Checkin Process online prior to arrival at port - very simple and straight forward with all options clearly defined. Checkin process at port - ... Read More
Disney Dream cruise was the best experience right from the start. Here is a detailed view: Checkin Process online prior to arrival at port - very simple and straight forward with all options clearly defined. Checkin process at port - well organized and efficient. For little kids, get the electronic band immediately post checkin before 3pm. Boarding - Welcome team announces your family and you feel good as the crew and ambience make you feel that you are entering magical world. This is the just the beginning. Day 1 - Save up your energy and sign up for lot of kids activities. There is ton of stuff for teenagers too. For adults there are good socializing options. Day 2-4, it is filled with fun activities. Suggestions: 1. Don't need special cameras, let Disney crew take as many pictures as they can. Don't feel shy. It is worth it. In the end you can buy the cd and prints for a reasonable price around $300+ for unlimited pictures. 2. Pick your food selection of your choice based on dietary interests. You can always order food on the menu for free. 3. Pick a deck level 6-9 as they are the best, to avoid motion sickness. Room at the middle section is best. Stateroom with Verandah is worth the price. 4. Keep your valuables in room safe. 5. Take Airborne or similar to boost immune system. Use the wipes they give everywhere to stay healthy. 6. Tip your Head Server, Server and Assistant along with your host/hostess. They work 14 long hard hours to make your trip worthwhile. 7. Take Snorkle and swimming gear with you. If you can take swim jackets is worth it. Otherwise, they quickly add up in costing. 8. In Nassau, take the trip to see using the taxi first and then come back to ship for lunch and then go back for some more walking around downtown which is near port. All walkable distance of less than 5 min. You can pay everything in USD, and items are priced reasonably. Stores perpendicular to Main Street have better price on same product. Be mindful of pickpockets and folks swiping stuff. Otherwise very safe place. 9. In Castaway Cay, it is Disney property and most items are free except Snorkle gear and swimming gear etc. 10. As everything is charged to room and charge card on file. Be mindful, of what is free and what costs. Best of all it is crew and team work that make it memorable. There is plenty of food, soft drinks and ice creams for free always. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
First time on Norwegian after a previous cruise with Crystal. No attempts at comparisons here, just an honest review of our experience. Jade chosen for route and schedule and my wife and I were in cabin 11654 , an aft facing cabin. Cabin ... Read More
First time on Norwegian after a previous cruise with Crystal. No attempts at comparisons here, just an honest review of our experience. Jade chosen for route and schedule and my wife and I were in cabin 11654 , an aft facing cabin. Cabin - large mini suite with plenty of room due to its disabled facilities. Very comfortable and no noise to speak off. Relaxing view and wave sound from the good size balcony. Food - we did not have a bad meal on the ship. It was only on the second last night when we ate in Alizar that we felt the menu was a bit underwhelming. But the food that night was still good. We had the Ultimate Dining package and that was good value with all the options serving very good food. Breakfasts were always good and thanks to Mr Coffee Coffee and Mr washy Washy, a fun place to start your day. Staff - all the staff were great and it was good that many times they would stop to engage and not just serve. Entertainment - a mixed bag but not unexpected given the many different nationalities on board. Tenors of Rock, the Gymnasts and the Jadegirls with their 60's nights were standouts. Nathaniel Reed was a terrific piano bar player and host. Pretty much all the other entertainment options were provided and were more than satisfactory. Excursions - the few that we used were good value, especially the Sorrento and Pompeii tour through Naples. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We are experienced cruisers, but have never cruised with Cunard in the past. We got a great balcony deal and went for it, risking the Bay of Biscay in December! The ship is magnificent, a bit like a country house, which fitted the time of ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers, but have never cruised with Cunard in the past. We got a great balcony deal and went for it, risking the Bay of Biscay in December! The ship is magnificent, a bit like a country house, which fitted the time of year with all the ships Christmas decorations in place. There are lots of comfortable lounge areas on board, from which to watch the world go by on sea days. The onboard lectures were excellent and the food the best we have ever had, even though the menu is written in 'flowery' language.  Afternoon tea is an experience not to be missed in the Queens ballroom, remember to skip lunch! The cabins are spacious with much bigger balconies than we have had on other ships such as Ventura. The entertainment was first class. Drinks and tips expensive. Just adjust or even cancel the tips and give what you think is appropriate. The on board talks were interesting and well presented. Our top two cruise lines are now Celebrity and Cunard. Bye the way, Biscay was kind to us, the ship pitched a little, but nothing to worry about. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Where do I begin. Our first experiance with the Sky was truely one to remember. We normaly sail in a Balcony (BA class mid ship) but on this cruise the cruising gods were smilling down on us and three days before we sailed we were bumped ... Read More
Where do I begin. Our first experiance with the Sky was truely one to remember. We normaly sail in a Balcony (BA class mid ship) but on this cruise the cruising gods were smilling down on us and three days before we sailed we were bumped up to the Owners Suite! Thats right we went from the balcony cabin of 202 sqft. to 835 sqft. cabin, private balcony w/hot tub, free alcohol, treats from the staff every evening a butler & concierge service. SPOILED!! You could tell the ship was a little old and needed a little mait. here and there but the staff was friendly and attentive the entertainment was very good for a smaller ship and of course the food was as always with Norwiegian fantastic. We have taken four cruise's with Norwiegian in the past five years these guys know how its done! They have certainly won my buisness as a matter of fact we are already booked on the madian voyage of the new Norwegian Escape in November.....Cant wait!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Having cruised twice before in the Med with Thomson and having enjoyed my experience thoroughly as a special treat I decided to book a surprise cruise to the carribean for my wife's 50th Birthday. We booked a week prior to travel and ... Read More
Having cruised twice before in the Med with Thomson and having enjoyed my experience thoroughly as a special treat I decided to book a surprise cruise to the carribean for my wife's 50th Birthday. We booked a week prior to travel and flew out from Manchester T1 early on the 6/12/2014. The chartered flights with Thomas Cook airlines went very smoothly, good quality food and service and the fact that this was chartered by P&O which meant we loaded the cases in Manchester and then didn't touch them again until they arrived at our cabin door on the ship made the flying experience really great. We arrived in Barbados to gorgeous warm sunshine and where then off loaded by P&O directly onto the transfer coach and taken directly to the port, no hassle with customs etc. on arrival at the ship we then went through a short process to take our photographs, present our credit card and be issued with our boarding cards. Again this was very swift and professional. The ship as an awesome site, biggest that we have been on. The cabin allocation again was swift but we did encounter a problem in the cabin with the set out of sleeping arrangements, we had requested a double room but where allocated a twin and unfortunately this couldn't be changed to a double due to the configuration of the lamps attached to the bedside tables, this was the main weak area of the service we received as INfeltvthat P&O didn't do enough to rectify the fault.. The facilities on board are great, choice of 4 swimming pools, plenty of sun beds, great waiter service, brilliant gym, sauna, spa and plenty of places where you could escape and relax. Food on board was good, plenty of choice and most of it served 24/7. We also used the Beech House for a small surcharge which was good, the MarconPierre and Athol Cuutcher restaraunts also seemed nice. We had early dining in the Bay Tree restaraunt at 6:30 which we found too early. Service again was outstanding but portions where a little small. Evening entertainment was good, we did the theatre after dinner then onto an internal bar such as Havanah, Tamarind or Metropolis and finish off the night with a few drinks on deck. The Headliners theatre company who performed in the theatre are a must to see, as is a comedian by the name of John Martin. Beer pric scare not bad but be aware that some of the bars do not serve draft beer, only from cans or bottles. We did feel that entertainment on board overall wasn't as good in some areas as on the Thomson ships. We where also a little disappointed by the formal evenings which didn't seem to be a celebration of a special event unlike the Thomson ships. The ship overall is neat and tidy, consistently cleaned, quite spacious and modern. The ports we visited on our Itinerary where good although some are up and coming ports which do need further development, the nicest places where St Maarten, Tortola, Curaçao, Bonaire and of course Barbados. I do still struggle to understand why the ships sail so early ( 5pm ) from some ports when the next port is only a short distance, we would have loved to stay ashore at places like St Marrten and Curaçao to get a taste of the nightlife. Same withnthe 2 days at sea on the return journey to Barbados, we could've called at one more stop on the way. All of the islands accept the US dollar but be aware that a couple of places have their own dollar so some change could be given in this currency which can only be spent on that Island. In Barbados also most prices are quoted in Barbados dollars to which there are 2 to every US dollar, make sure you ask when buying something or quoting a price for a taxi. You also need to try the flying fish in Barbados, yummy. The people in the Carribean can't do enough for you, very friendly and eager to help. Taxis are positioned at each port as well as numerous tours etc which are priced reasonably, the Beaches are stunning, the water is just as you imagine in a brochure and the climate is a steady 27 to 28 day and night, the humidity takes a bit of getting used too as does the 4 hour time difference.. Overall our first experience with P&O was good although we did feel that it could have been better, we do love the Carribean and will re visit. We would recommend P&O cruises to others and will be cruising again with them   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I just read 2 conflicting reviews on this cruise and I appreciate a review is only someones opinion so here is another one! In January 2015 we cruised with NCL Getaway (Southampton to New York) and going from their newest ship to the ... Read More
I just read 2 conflicting reviews on this cruise and I appreciate a review is only someones opinion so here is another one! In January 2015 we cruised with NCL Getaway (Southampton to New York) and going from their newest ship to the oldest in their fleet, I will not lie we were a little apprehensive but we went with an open mind and took into account the ships age the cost of cruise. Embarkation, was straight forward Service, we only encountered friendly and polite service Cabin, is of age but had everything and more of what you require and of good size, clean, comfortable and well kept, (please update the hairdryer) Public sitting areas did have some signs of age but were clean comfortable and well kept. The other public areas stairways/corridors were very clean, well kept and looked new in places. Dining in Windows we did not require to wait any evening the meals were good with a wide range each evening, some evenings the service could be a little slow but lets be honest who is in a hurry, you are on vacation and I will add the servers were nothing but polite and helpful. Entertainment left a little to be desired (be honest more than a little) the last two evening shows were their best. (we were spoiled as on the inaugural Getaway sailing the entertainment was outstanding) Shore excursions I will make this short, miss out Casablanca and the rest were fine. Spa, This ship has had a number of refits over the years, I can understand they have not managed a pool within the spa area, but this day and age they should have managed a unisex spa area,as they have on their other ships. Value-for-Money, again I will keep short 'excellent'   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We are platinum members with Norwegian. We booked this Western Caribbean cruise for December in May. We arrived in Miami after spending a few days at Disney World in Orlando. Once we checked in our bags for our 12th floor balcony, we ... Read More
We are platinum members with Norwegian. We booked this Western Caribbean cruise for December in May. We arrived in Miami after spending a few days at Disney World in Orlando. Once we checked in our bags for our 12th floor balcony, we proceeded to the priority check-in. We took advantage of the kids sail free program, and we received great rates on the Balcony rooms. We were told our room was changed which had me concerned. I thought "it's already starting". The representative told us we were moved to the 16th floor. I thought, it's close to the pools so that is good for my daughter who is autistic and has a slight cerebral palsy and wears a brace on her leg. She has cruised many times including Hawaii on the Pride of America ship. We went to the fifth floor hotel staff once on the ship in the atrium to change our baggage delivery to the right room. Well, we were upgraded to a two bedroom two bath Haven complete with a butler, concierge, and more. We had double sinks with a soaking tub and a water jet shower which overlooked the ocean. We had a bottle of wine and champagne delivered to the room at no charge. Godiva Chocolates, chocolate covered strawberries. our own restaurant area. When we wanted to get off of the ship in port or tender, we were escorted right off the ship without any lines, we had exclusive seating at the shows, huge dining room and living quarters, we had our own sun deck and pool, spa to share with other haven owners. Too many things to mention, but this was by far the most relaxing we were due to the fact that we were secluded from the other 4,000 passengers or so to fight for a sun chair or a spot in the pool. In short the Epic was amazing ship and the Haven made it that much more special. What made it even more special was that we didn't even ask for it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My husband and I have taken many cruises on Holland America, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean and we were a little hesitant to take a Christmas Cruise on an MSC ship because of mixed reviews we have read. Most of our concerns were put aside ... Read More
My husband and I have taken many cruises on Holland America, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean and we were a little hesitant to take a Christmas Cruise on an MSC ship because of mixed reviews we have read. Most of our concerns were put aside immediately upon arrival at the MSC cruise terminal in Miami. The Embarkation area was well laid out and the process went smoothly and quickly. The ship is very elegant and was decorated tastefully. Our balcony cabin was on the Aurora deck (12), and was comfortable and very clean. Below is a list of the pros and cons from my perspective. PROS: ~Beautiful, modern ship with well planned layout. Elegant lounges and bars. Very clean throughout ship. ~Excellent shows in theater. Some of the shows were almost Broadway quality. ~Daily entertainment such as games (trivia, pictonary, dance lessons, etc) were fun and organized. ~Formal dining room, The Black Crab, well laid out and tastefully decorated (see Con below about table location). ~Excellent room service. (See Con below about selection). ~All inclusive alcohol package completely worth the money. Mixed drinks used high end alcohol and wine selection was good. Specialty coffees included and were delicious. ~Wide selection of food at daily buffets and quality was better than average. ~Cruise director was funny and engaging. ~Spa and hair salon's were very well run with a large selection of services with reasonable pricing. Cons ~Lifeboat drill was a bit scary. Took an extremely long time to get to our muster station. Crew seemed a bit unmotivated and did not control the evacuation well. ~Room service menu for breakfast was limited. Offered only breads and cold cereal as food options. ~Our table in formal dining room (Black Crab) #585 was terrible. It was located next to the main wait staff service area and entrance to the kitchen. It was terribly noisy and the bright fluorescent light shined in my eyes so I could not see the table mate across the table. This could have been remedied if the staff closed the doors to the kitchen, but refused to do this after several requests. ~Servers in all Bar areas were few and service was slow ~Main dining room was very hot with inadequate air conditioning which made for uncomfortable dining. ~Rules regarding children using hot tubs and adult pool area was not enforced so it was difficult to find a spa not overrun with children. Overall we were pleased with the ship and staff and would definitely take MSC again.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Very mixed feelings about Costa. The best service from the staff and some of the best food that we have ever had on a cruise ship! We did all our research and knew that our shore excursions may get cancelled for lack of English speaking ... Read More
Very mixed feelings about Costa. The best service from the staff and some of the best food that we have ever had on a cruise ship! We did all our research and knew that our shore excursions may get cancelled for lack of English speaking quest and they were. The tour desk was very helpful re booking us with our choice of languages, we chose German for Casablanca and Rabat. Took lots of pictures but do not know what we were taking pictures of. LOL! The bar staff especially Mojan Tayao and Rossele Lucas knew us by name after our first visit to their bar, what a pleasure getting to know them! Suite butler, Marvin and the cabin steward Aswawi provided impeccable service for all eighteen days. Our waiter at table #229, Benny and his assistant Kadek were terrific in every respect. Food portions in the mdr were of perfect size and excellent quality. The buffet is crowded and we starting timing when we would go to avoid the largest crowds. During our crossing we met many English speaking Europeans and now have new good friends from Holland, what fun! Do your homework, go with an open mind and enjoy a beautiful staff and ship!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Overall, we were happy with our cruise. We did B2B 4 and 5 night cruises. This was our first Princess cruise our others were four Celebrity and one Carnival. The ship was beautiful and was very nicely decorated. We enjoyed Grand Turk and ... Read More
Overall, we were happy with our cruise. We did B2B 4 and 5 night cruises. This was our first Princess cruise our others were four Celebrity and one Carnival. The ship was beautiful and was very nicely decorated. We enjoyed Grand Turk and Princess Cay. Our Cabin Steward, Pol Mateo, was fantastic. Tatiana, from Vines, was also excellent. We liked the food and the entertainment. Christmas was fun. We enjoyed the Crown Grill. The casino staff was great. In other words, They did the big things very well. Princess failed in our opinion, in the little things. There were never enough towels, they allowed people to reserve pool chairs for hours without being there, they did not clean up dishes around the ship, the lines for Anytime Seating for dinner were extremely (1 hour +) long, I paid for a coffee card and never received it (even after 4 tries), unlike Celebrity you rarely saw the senior crew members, they let children swim in the adults only pool, there was no benefit in having a mini suite over an inside cabin. I know this was a B2B of short cruises over the Christmas break but we did not feel as if we were being treated like we did with Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We were on the Navigator 12/07-12/14, 2014. Since being home I have read CC for the week we were on the ship. Sometimes I wonder if we are even on the same ship with some of the others. I have read complaints about no hot water, ours was ... Read More
We were on the Navigator 12/07-12/14, 2014. Since being home I have read CC for the week we were on the ship. Sometimes I wonder if we are even on the same ship with some of the others. I have read complaints about no hot water, ours was very good. Some said flooring on balconies was bad ours and all the friends travelling with us were good. We thought the entertainment was good. Food is usually the only issue because it is not the type of food that we normally eat at home, however I like trying new dishes and if we don't like something they are always so happy to bring us something else from the menu. Even something not from the menu. One night my husband didn't like any of the deserts and jokingly he said he would like a banana split. In about 5 minutes there it was before him. The whole table was surprised. The last comment I have is about embarkation and debarkation. We had no problems with either. On the 7th we walked straight through the terminal, security and waited about 3 minutes to get to the counter to check-in. After check-in we walked straight to getting picture taken for sea pass purposes then onto the ship. On the 14th we got off at our appointed time of 9:00 and had no lines in the terminal until we got to customs and we were 3 couples back. The lines were short and moving very quickly. There were others writing that is was horrible and long lines, therefore I sometimes wonder if we were even on the same ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We had a great cruise this December on Freedom. A child's life was saved and we made it home safely, with a loss of propulsion power. The ship was in great order otherwise. The staff were exceptional, and cruisers were friendly and ... Read More
We had a great cruise this December on Freedom. A child's life was saved and we made it home safely, with a loss of propulsion power. The ship was in great order otherwise. The staff were exceptional, and cruisers were friendly and polite. There were a lot of experienced cruises, as in diamond plus and above. Most experienced cruises did not mind missing Cozumel, while some were disappointed because the were looking forward to something there. Either way the captain makes the decisions and I am happy as long as all are safe. There was some excessive vibration in the aft, but usually only noticed this for a few minutes. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I'm usually not one for posting reviews. However, after this cruise I had to give our highlights. My family & I have taken numerous cruise before but this was by far the best cruise we had to date. The main reason....The ... Read More
I'm usually not one for posting reviews. However, after this cruise I had to give our highlights. My family & I have taken numerous cruise before but this was by far the best cruise we had to date. The main reason....The Entertainment staff under the Cruise Director, Eversen Bevelle aka Dr. E. This entertainment team was by far the best we have experienced on Carnival. I wish I could take Dr. E and his entertainment team on every cruise we take with Carnival. We stayed at Marriott hotel the night before which was approximately 20 minutes from the port. We used Premier Parking USA which offered a free shuttle to the port. The location for parking was great but the staff at the parking lot weren't very organized. I'm not sure if I would use them again, We left out of the Port of Miami on a 7 day Western Caribbean cruise December 2014. It was a smooth embarkation and the port itself was very modern and nice. The ship was nicely decorated with Christmas ornaments and the tree in the lobby was amazing. Carnival really put on a lot of nice Christmas activities so you didn't feel like you missed out on the holiday spirit. Each day there were fun activities to do. Dr E kept you laughing, dancing and really excited about everything happen around the ship. My family and I aren't usually one for the shows, but we did get involved this cruise. The Motown review, Hasbro Game Show and Welcome Abroad show and Name that Tune were our absolute favorite. The White Heat was great. DJ Devine played good music each and every night for each age group. The Dive In Movies were also a big hit with our children because they showed movies for each age range. Our only complaint would be the activities available in the Camp Carnival program. Our son is in the Circle C (12-14) age range. He wish they had more opportunities to play the game with each other. Most of the activities in this age group were after leaving the ports (4pm). However, during sea days they had a variety of activities all day. They still weren't very exciting to our child in particular. Carnival Glory had good cuisine and variety in the dining room and on the Lido Deck. Our favorites were Guy Fieri's burgers, the Blue Cantina, Pizza and Fish and Chips. Fish and Chips is actually a hidden gem many people miss. It is located above the Home Kitchen eatery. Take the staircase in the middle near the Sweet Spot. It's only open during lunch hours. Our favorite bar for drinks was the Red Frog Rum Bar. It also seemed to be the favorite for most of the cruise passengers. The pool area in the back of level 9 (near the pizza and deli) is adults only and we didn't get a chance to use it. If you are looking for a quiet area you will probably enjoy it. You could not hear any of the music from the Lido deck activities which was a tad boring for my husband and I. We like the liveliness of being in the middle of the action. There is a bar back there as well so you don't have to miss out on drinks. Elegant nights were very laid back for the most part. We found that the picture backgrounds were better on casual nights. Most people on this particular cruise dressed up for Christmas and not for the first elegant night. The wait for Your Time Dining was very short when we went between 7:30-8:30pm. All in all this was a very exciting cruise. More details about the ports is listed below.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was our first NCL cruise (16th overall with our favs being Celebrity, RCL and Princess)- we were pleasantly surprised! All 19 of our group had a great time, but I will only speak for my wife and I - the others can write their own ... Read More
This was our first NCL cruise (16th overall with our favs being Celebrity, RCL and Princess)- we were pleasantly surprised! All 19 of our group had a great time, but I will only speak for my wife and I - the others can write their own reviews. I have to start out by saying that my wife and I go on a cruise to meet new people, and the freestyle dining is not the way to do this, so we would never go again on NCL unless it is with a group. The highlight of our cruise had to be the crew - they were always attentive to your needs - always in a friendly and helpful mood. There was always something going on, and we never felt crowded. The cruise, Bobby, and Asst. CD, Tyler, were unbelievable. As far as the accommodations - We had an obstructed, oceanview cabin on Deck 6 - very convenient location at the front of the ship - the room had more storage that we've ever had on a cruise...the shower was TERRIBLE - that had to be the worst part of the cruise - it was SO SMALL, you could hardly turn around or bend down. The food in the buffet was average - sometimes the long was too long and it took forever to get through...the one at the back of the ship was never crowded, but it didn't have all of the buffet items like the ones inside. The dining room food was above average, but service was inconsistent - we even had our waiter leave midway through our meal to go to another shift somewhere else on the ship - we couldn't believe that!!! We seemed to congregate in the Sports Bar every afternoon before dinner - the bar staff (Abin and Emir) were AWESOME. At 5:30, they also had a very good snack menu - things wings (AWESOME), burgers, fries, dips, etc.) Overall, we would definitely recommend the Sun.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Just finished our cruise and omg, it was an amazing ship! We embarked from Port Everglades and I have never in my life been without internet access that long, but that's the point of a cruise, right? To experience it all? We did! We ... Read More
Just finished our cruise and omg, it was an amazing ship! We embarked from Port Everglades and I have never in my life been without internet access that long, but that's the point of a cruise, right? To experience it all? We did! We started our trip staying at the Quality Inn & Suites Airport/Cruise Port South. This is key: THEY HAVE A FREE AIRPORT SHUTTLE AAAAAAAAAND A FREE CRUISE SHUTTLE! Well, at least FROM/TO the airport and TO the cruise. It's $10ea to get a shuttle back to the hotel from the cruise port, which isn't bad. The rooms were musty smelling, but overall nice-ish. The chairs had stains and the bathroom floor left much to be desired, but the curtain is curved, so at least it doesn't touch you. Wish the cruise one was curved! Also, gotta love the sign telling you to not steal the towels, they are inventoried. You get what you pay for spending $99 a night, but it's next door to the Oakwood Plaza where we got a bunch of last minute stuff. That strip mall has a LOT. Getting on the ship early is key! I was expecting to queue for hours....we got on the shuttle from the hotel at 10:30. They ask you to tell them the night before you need a ride and they ask you what ship/day and they assign you a time. They have a huge mini bus that takes passengers to cruise port, because they attach a mini UHaul looking thing to the back to store everyone's luggage. We were at the cruise terminal 15 mins later. You can have your luggage checked from the curb and put on the ship or, if like us, your luggage is small enough to go through the airport scanner looking thing, you can bring it on the ship yourself. We only had a duffle bag each, so this is what we did. HAL lets you bring ONE 750ml bottle of wine or champagne for EACH person (assuming 2 ppl per room), no hard liquor or beer on the first night. The Dollar Star in the plaza next door sells CHEAP wine, $4/10 that people were going crazy over because it's GOOD cheap wine, so we bought 2 bottles on board and had to sadly toss the half drank chardonnay at the scanner. You can also bring booze you buy on board and they hold it until the night before for free...or you pay an $18per bottle corkage fee. We got our alcohol back the last night. From there you have to go through HAL front desk to get your room key, show passport etc in a terminal meets a hotel front desk. They give you a cruise group number in line to get to this and after you check-in, you sit and wait to be called to take escalator up to get on ship. Total time between getting off of shuttle and on to the ship? Maybe 20mins. Then again, we were also SUPER early. Our number was in the teens to get on. Other passengers told me their wait to just be called was like 45 mins. Anywho, they make you scan your card and sanitize your hands to get on the ship. All of the crew were very friendly all of the time, even when you knew they wanted to smack you or the person treating them rudely. They were all genuinely nice to me, because I wasn't rude to them. Then again, like I said, even the people I wanted to harm FOR them for being so rude were treated calmly and politely on this trip. We carried our own luggage on and the stewards meet you all along the way and at the elevators to direct you to your room on the first day. This was helpful and nice. Our room was right in the middle of the ship and close to the elevators. Score! It was an HH Obstructed View room, which just meant the lifeboar was RIGHT outside your window. We came in and checked out our room. Plenty of space to put your items for a long or short trip. They give you a daily tri folded itinerary. This ship uses a LOT of paper. They need to automate it somehow and make it a channel,too, to save on paper! We dropped our stuff off and went exploring....ie....to get food. O.M.G...as a first time cruiser, we decided to forgo paying for meals, so we stuck to Lido dining on 9 and once or twice the Vista Dining Room on 3 for our meals. Vista for dinner on the majority of nights was formal or semi formal. One guy declined wearing a jacket. Seriously? They give you one if you don't have it. He had a sweater and slacks and said no, so they declined him entering. You could have taken the jacket off at the table. We did Vista Dining once for lunch and once for dinner and just did Lido all other times. Lido is come as you are all the time and is open ALL the time, so we started our journey there and spent all of our time there for the most part. They have Asian, deli, bistro, ice cream, drinks and salad bar. Each table is pretty much ocean view. One side of each station is always open, both sides are during lunch and dinner. We never made it to breakfast and never utilized the free room service. If we wanted to eat, we could go ourselves. It was useful if you were doing shore excursions and wanted to sleep in, but even then, they slipped us notices the night before port saying it would be better to just go upstairs to the dining, since so many would use room service. We ate A LOT. Soda is not included in meals, so we stuck to water, iced tea and lemonade. It was a nice change. Other than at the salad bar, they serve the food to you and the wait wasn't really that long, even when there was a line. Why they individually heat up pasta in skillet at the salad bar is mind boggling. Do you know how much time that delays? It saves on freshness, though. So they don't waste. The variety of food reminded me of my college. Pizza, pasta, ice cream, meat, salads, sandwiches. It was 4.75/5, only because of the whole pasta delay. But yes, the food was great. The BB King All Stars were great entertainment on the ship in the Queen's Lounge and once in the Vista Lounge/main stage. There were also Zuiderdam singers and dancers, but the BB King people made the trip SO much better. We were never bored on the trip. We slept a lot, ate a lot and just sat on the deck a lot watching the world go by. Deck 3 has chairs everywhere and up on 10, the observation deck. We noticed that is NOT the case with the other ships we saw. Celebrity X gives everyone their own veranda with 2 chairs and you could walk between them! The deck everyone uses had like 2 sets of chairs. How un-inviting. We thought we had a big ship, until other ships like Celebrity, Norweigan and the Disney one made ours look like a tugboat. Even with 1900+ passengers, it never felt that way. It sure wasn't loud on the ship. It was peaceful the majority of the time. Like our own huge private yacht. The staff were great. Always polite and never cross. Hamish the cruise director was a riot. I liked that he seems to like his job. Allegra was another story. The "free" jewelry she is hawking at you to get is just costume jewelry in each port. Beware. Yes, this cruise is said to have an older crowd and sometimes it was like walking behind dinosaurs because people are so slow, but when I'm that age, would I want someone to treat me this way simply for being alive? Heck, the passengers who were older were the life of the ship! Dancing and participating in the events. I had a great time. I even had lunch one day with an older gentleman when we were docked in St. Martin/Marteen who just decided to sit at my table while I was off getting lunch, because he said he lost his wife, but we were at sea, she'd show up eventually. I came back to my table that had my bag at it and I was like "hello, how are you?" Did I expect to see him at my booth? Nope. But hey, we were at sea. Live in the moment. I was able to wave at him when I saw him on the ship on other days, same as the couples who sat at our table when we ate in the Vista Lounge. Being friendly is key on this cruise. Strangers talked to us all the time, simply because we made eye contact. We went to Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Martin/Marteen and Half Moon Cay on this holiday cruise. We were in each port just long enough to not wear out the welcome. I spent a lot of $ in ports, but it was well worth it. The ship also gives you sturdy navy and beige booksized totes with their logo and name on it. It screams I'M A TOURIST while in port. I cared before the first port, at all the following ones, at least one of us carried ours. It was raining on day 2 when we got to the first port of Grand Turk, but 20 mins later it stopped and was sunny skies ALL day. Make SURE to call your bank to tell them you will be out of the country, so when you use your card in different ports, you won't get locked out at the first attempt. I called my bank and gave a heads up a month before the trip in case I forgot. I had to tell them every port and which days I'd be there. The front desk also lets you use their courtesy phone to call your bank or card company for free, as my family member had to do on day one. I shut off my cell's data, roaming and backround data while still in FL and put it on airplane mode JUST to be sure. The ship has it's own time that may not match your own, but you can always turn to the "where are we?" map channel that has the date, time, ship location and temperature. If you have a magnetic wallet, don't keep your room key in it. I demagnetized mine TWICE before having to keep it in the separate padded insert you get at check-in. At the end of the trip, you still have to go through customs. That was the longest line we were in the whole trip. Because we again, carried our own stuff, we got expedited disembarkation. It took us about half an hour to get off the ship and wait in the customs line. The ship was going SUPER fast home, because we were back in FL by like 6:15a and that was even including the 90 mins we moored off the coast of Half Moon Cay as they tried to locate two passengers the day before. We were at the airport by 9:30a, which sucked, because I booked a LATE AFTERNOON flight, thinking it would have taken longer. This included stopping at the post office at 8a and waiting an hour for it to open. The ship was not rocky at all. So if that is what they were like WITHOUT the stabilizers, well gee, wonder what it is like WITH them. Don't get me wrong, you FELT the up and down, up and down, up and down when in the front of the ship in the Crows Nest, Vista Lounge or observation deck, but only there. I definitely will cruise with HAL again. For a holiday cruise, the price was great, less than $500 and that included the upgrade to HH. I only got the room around Thanksgiving....so it was a steal. Thumbs up!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We are a family of 3. This was our 3rd cruise with Princess. Previously we cruised with Dawn to Brisbane and Sun to Melbourne, one way. Both the Dawn and the Sun catered to all types and we had a good time. I wanted to try the Diamond ... Read More
We are a family of 3. This was our 3rd cruise with Princess. Previously we cruised with Dawn to Brisbane and Sun to Melbourne, one way. Both the Dawn and the Sun catered to all types and we had a good time. I wanted to try the Diamond Princess for its size. The ship is big and at times you wonder where everyone is, but on this cruise it was full - 2823 paying passengers. Embarkment and disembarkment went smoothly. We planned to get on board early, like 1.30pm, but when we boarded there were 100 people boarded already. We dropped our carry ons and our suitcase was already there in our stateroom. Also we booked the last room on this cruise. We headed to the Horizon buffet and stopped by to purchase the Soda package. After lunch we walked around the whole ship to get an idea where things are. On this cruise there was no drinks package and it was credited to our account. You buy as you go. The food in the buffet is always good. From housekeeping to dining, all staff were attentive and professional. We encountered a little problem with fine dining. On the first night the lines were massive and when we reached to be served we were told to go to reception and from there to see maitre D. At the end we got to International buffet and we stayed a few nights to be waited on. If you have food intolerances let them know in advance or note it in your bookings. We ordered many of the dishes. Lunch in fine dining was not good - ordinary. Best to eat at the buffet. Dinner excellent. We did see a few people in casual clothes on semi formal nights and also on the other cruises. I guess it's not a policy. Hmm thinking of wearing shorts on my next cruise just to see what reactions. Staff at the restaurants will try to get you to purchase drinks, be strong and simply say no. Wines are very expensive with the gratuity fee. If you intend to buy wines check out the buffet where it can be purchase at a discount price and you can take it to any of the 4 free fine dining restaurants and also if you don't finish the bottle they will store it for you for the next night. We didn't dine at any of the paying restaurants and on some nights it was empty. Activities were good as well as entertainment - this depends on what you like. Karaoke was bad, you have to search for song on an iPad and when you do find it try to remember the number so the staff can retrieve the song. There weren't that many songs and most people left which you can't blame them. There were too many excuses. We did our research on this cruise and we brought emergencies items e.g sunburnt spray and cream, medications, highlighters for bingo and to mark activities on Princess Patter. On 2nd day we told reception we don't want to pay for the gratuity fee and I signed a form and it was automatically credited, no problems. This cruise suited for the oldies and families, not so much for the 18-20s, but they manage to find others and party on. 18 years old were allowed to purchase alcohol on this cruise, but they don't tell you when you book. A lot of the oldies hung out at the piano, Croonies bar and they know how to party. Can't wait to get to Ruby status. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Firstly, my first time flying with Emirates, but guaranteed it won’t be my last. I got a requested upgrade to fly out Business Class at what looked to be a heavily discounted price. What an experience- it’s the first time I’ve ever ... Read More
Firstly, my first time flying with Emirates, but guaranteed it won’t be my last. I got a requested upgrade to fly out Business Class at what looked to be a heavily discounted price. What an experience- it’s the first time I’ve ever been on a plane, had a holiday and could not wait to do the return flight! The added bonus was that Business Class also entitled me to a free chauffeur driven car from my home 70 miles away to Gatwick and back, as well as return Chauffeur transfers both ways in Dubai. Add that into the amount of lovely free champagne and booze I quaffed and it started to look like a bargain! Virgin and ESPECIALLY BA need to look to their laurels regarding this competitor- I recently flew longhaul with BA Premier Economy and it was awful… From what I can ascertain, Emirates Business Class is easily equivalent to BA and Virgin First Class. Anyway having arrived in Dubai a couple of days early, I spent some time just getting used to the warmth of the sun on the creaking bones again- wonderful- I’d not considered the Emirates as a winter destination before but at between 6.5 and 7.5 hours direct flight it’s nearer than the Caribbean, and from what I have experienced of both, the weather seems more dependable.. They laughed at me in Dubai when I mentioned snow, saying they only get about 4 days rain a year! Anyway, onto the cruise… there is not much about the destinations because I picked up bronchitis the day I left home, so this ended up being a very laid back chill holiday..because I KNOW I’m going back! Another rather wonderful thing- I had booked a balcony but found just before going that Costa had upgraded me to a mini-suite- as a solo traveller I don’t tend to get such nice upgrades, so well done Costa! Day 1 & 2 First impressions- strangely wonderful embarkation process- walk up to the deserted check in desk, they put a room number sticker on your passport,and fill in the health questionnaire- you walk through to the ship, they take questionnaire and your passport which you don't see again until the end of the cruise ( I think! If anyone spots a dodgy looking Deco wandering around Dubai, you'll know it's not me!), and you go to your cabin where your cabin key awaits. Painless.And no queues. I did spend the first few days chuckling at what I thought was the Captain’s name - "Cordiali Saluti" , until it was pointed out to me that his welcome signed off with that greeting, followed by the words “Cordiali Saluti”! Doh! The cabin is great and spacious- can't fault it at all. Nice touch that every door had a Christmas tree decoration.Slept perfectly when I eventually got to bed. The room has a coffee pod machine which is nice, if I can work it out- you only get 2 free pods however, so I shall be selective when I use them.. I live life to the edge eh?! Nice that the cabin had a bath as well as a shower, and more storage space than I’ve ever seen in a cabin before! It's very eerie getting on Costa ships because people embark quite leisurely..our embarkation time was from between 3.30pm and 07.30am the following morning- no queues to embark or disembark. But it does the impression of a ghost ship at times! Last night I unpacked and headed to the bar, to test out the all inclusive drinks package, which at 19€ a day still works out at the best drinks package at sea, incorporating coffees, teas, alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks. It seems impossible to walk more than about 20 feet without finding a bar with music playing, which is nice.Last night they must have felt they were playing to the guests of the Marie Celeste! I'm sure tonight will be busier as we are at sea through the night. I've just been down to the a la carte restaurant for breakfast expecting it to be heaving with people.. There were maybe 15 guests, and approximately 25 waiting staff! Needless to say, no sooner was I seated than this procession of people appeared- the bread man, the croissant and pastry lady, the assorted juices lady, the cereals man, the coffee man, the man who took my breakfast order.. If it carries on like this, I'll be dead impressed! I'm more used to avoiding the buffet breakfast scrums on most ships! As most of you know, I tend to be a 2 meal ( breakfast and dinner) person onboard, so I settled for a very beautifully cooked cheese and herb omelette which should see me through to dinner. This ship has done away with early and late sittings so at meal times, the choices are buffet- which I had last night, ( tasty and fresh salady stuff mostly) , a Pizzeria with a small additional charge ,or open seating in the main restaurant . Looking at the restaurant this morning, it seems mostly set up with smaller tables, but I did like the fact that in the daily programme, there is an option to meet others who don't wish to dine alone ,at 6.30 each night. Having said that,knowing my luck, I'd get paired up with Fred Munster and Nigel Farage.. So maybe for tonight at least, I'll dine with my trusty Kindle for company! Currently it's 9.30am here and I'm waiting for the lifeboat drill to occur in about 10 minutes, before we depart Dubai for Bahrain at 10.30. Just heard the first of the obligatory 5 language cabin announcements, but as it's for the safety drill, I guess they can't afford to miss anyone out! Well that was fun- I've never been on a ship where we had to line up in groups before- "and move to the left, move to the right".. I was expecting to be asked to do-si-do! I'd lost the will to live by the time we'd reached the 5th translation! However, it's done now. After this, only the essential announcements are relayed to cabins in all 5 main languages. Ok- 20 minutes later and I'm out by the pool- it's deserted!!! Hurrah! Unless they all know something I don't.. Bye bye Dubai, bring on Bahrain... I was sitting right by the ship's hooter when it went off!!! Jump?!!!! How high?!!!!!! Now to chillax.... Later that day… A nice day in the sun- the ear that wasn't affected by my headcold has now been wind blasted within an inch of its hearing life- being ever the resourceful Brit, I resorted to wrapping my caribbean kaftan thing round my head to protect what's left of my hearing- I actually really don't CARE what it looked like! It worked. Deck entertainment that I saw ( there was more but I only write what I see) was a deck side morning disco masquerading as an aerobics class-Gangnam Style was never Jane Fonda(!) and later they dragged a few holiday makers up, presented them with about 15 ingredients and challenged them to come up with the most innovative cocktail.. Lolol! Class or what?!!! Funny to watch the reaction of the tasters. Got slightly distracted on way back to cabin by a coffee / tea bar offering 16 different teas ( yawn!) but a variety of coffees including Marzipan infused! Well, that was lunch sorted, together with my lemsip/ whisky hot toddy.. Decided to a la carte the dinner tonight - no problem getting a table although I think allocating me table 111 for 1 was rubbing it in a bit! 5 courses on offer- went for just 3- roast beef with artichoke, italian cheese and finally, "diplomatic cake"... I was really hoping that was a dessert telling me to embrace my curves and eat more.. Sadly this turned out not to be the case, but as a non pud eater it was luvverly!! Cream and some sort of pastry thing with a nod to health by the addition of a strawberry. On to the show "Made in Italy" prefaced by an introduction to the international hostesses- German, French,Spanish, and finally Hannah,the english hostess who spectacularly announced that she is the language interpreter for every other language than French, Italian Spanish and German- good luck with that luv! Still for my Costa doubting cruise friends, I think it's a really good facility to have. Showtime was great- a mixture of all things italian from opera to dance to pop- including a v innovative Formula One dance to The Race.. I'd forgotten the joys of "applauso applauso " on Costa ships- it just makes me smile. Sitting in one of the many lounges now, awaiting the "70s explosion"... Should be fun! Bahrain tomorrow and I'm afraid I've opted ( on most of this cruise) for beach resort days- hey ho. Day (non existent 3) & 4.. Oh well, after a fairly uneventful day 3 to due to this stupid cold, it looks like I shall be on board Xmas Day and Boxing Day- finally succumbed to the Doc today and he advised not to do my planned trips for next two days-bronchitis. Ho hum. At least he didn't confine me to cabin!!! Well at least I shall get to see Costa Christmas in all its glory- and let's face it, if you are going to be ill, you may as well be ill in the sun!! Not too impressed with his nurse that jumped back about 8 feet when I coughed!!!!! Although as backwards long jumps go, it was probably very proficient! So, yesterday - as said earlier, a peg out day by the pool which was fine. The show was an entertaining comedy acrobat team who did some amazing human "slinky" thing, which thankfully did NOT involve them tumbling down the stairs- which was the only thing I could do with my slinky! Back to the room last night to find this big box of panettone waiting- that and the prosecco will be coming home with me, otherwise I might explode before xmas day! We arrive in Abu Dhabi at 13.30 today and depart tomorrow at about 16.30, so I guess there will be a mass exodus this afternoon.Some are doing an overnight desert trip involving tents camels and bedouins. I don't think I was made for camels.. And I'm fairly sure they aren't made for me- girl has to know her limitations! My plan ( in the absence of shore trips!) is to enjoy the day in the sun- temperature is a lovely 25 degrees, and then tackle the Christmas Eve Dinner- I am interested to see what we receive- then the Hip Hop Burlesque Show ( there's a juxtaposition!) followed by the Midnight Mass if I'm still awake. I did this last year and it was lovely - mostly the Filipino staff and a few of us Roman Candles- it's about the only time of year I go to church and I must admit I do enjoy it. Signing off for now- I hope everyone has a happy and peaceful day- I may update later on Day 5. Costa NeoRiviera Firstly- MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Thoughts for the day: 1) The hygiene and elf n safety standards on this ship are impeccable. I was watching today in the outdoor buffet area- if someone so much as drops a chip, someone is there to pick it up. The floors are constantly being mopped and all the buffet food has individual pick up tongs to reduce contamination 2) Sea water pools puts women like me at a severe disadvantage as regards swimming with any type of dignity.. No sooner am I in there then let's say my natural buoyancy takes over and the Mae Wests float to the top.. So you either go with that and float on your back looking like two atolls adrift at sea, or you fight it and people assume you are drowning... Just cold water showers poolside then for me.. 3) The quality and freshness of the food I've encountered on here surpasses anything I have had on the "posher" lines.. I did wonder if Costa Serena was unique in this, but no, seemingly not. 4)The entertainment has been fine for coping with so many nationalities- if I want a West End Show I'll go to London. But for what you get, the professionalism of the dancers and singers is top notch, the humour is by necessity " in yer face"( which I'm fine with!) and it is wonderful to sit in a theatre that is never more than 70% full with massive legroom and little tables for your drink(s)! 5) This has rekindled my love of smaller ships- it has about 1600 passengers and 900 rooms.. You can walk end to end in about 5 minutes flat. You don't need to queue for lifts, and despite the rumours about "foreigners" not queuing, I have not seen even one instance of anyone pushing in.The rumours of Costa ships being smoke filled dens appears to be unfounded too! 6) The beds are "awesome" on here and I have slept like a log! Aside from the fantastic unexpected free upgrade to a mini suite, the cabins are well fitted out, clean and well maintained. I have never had a cabin with so much storage space! I found another cupboard yesterday when I pressed the hairdryer button my mirror- only for the whole mirror to swing open to produce a further huge cupboard housing a safe ( I had wondered where that was!) as well as says hairdryer! I have not forgotten my P&O balcony complete with blue plastic webbing, rusty rails and paint flecks all over it! That was the same cabin where the handle came off in my hand if you recall! 7) Their inclusive drinks package is the best at sea, and means that since I've been on here, aside from a bottle of Cloudy Bay which I treated myself to for yesterday and today , and a packet of crisps ( because I could!) I have no other onboard spend at all. 8)I wasn't a fan of freedom dining, preferring to inflict myself on others at dinner, but actually it's been ok. I think it's led to me meeting less people than normal, but I also believe the vast array of nationalities by definition makes that harder. I've enjoyed the freedom to eat when I choose as opposed to when it's prescribed and as long as I have my Kindle, I've been a happy Billy No Mates in the corner! 9)Here's the thing... For all of the above plus more, I am starting to think that Costa may be my favourite cruise line.. I still have a lot to try out, but for value for money , I find them hard to beat. I'm interested in other opinions from fellow cruisers , and for non cruising friends, I'll shut up now!!!!! Today is a people watching day- it is the first time that I've seen the decks fairly full- this is a definite advantage of having almost every day as a port day- people clear off to explore! Having said, as I say, today ( at least for the next couple of hours) the world and his wife are here.. Yes there are plenty of children but they are "contained" reasonably within a) a children's pool on deck 12 with slides and stuff and b) in one of the two adult only pools.. Well, it's Christmas eh? And they are all being well behaved if a little noisy... The assorted deck walkers are funny to watch- there are the Sophia Loren and George Clooney beautiful people, the Middle aged stomach suckers-in squeezed into budgie smuggler speedos , the self conscious but willowy latinesque teenage beauties,giggling in little gaggles,and eying up the sullen moody boys, the sock wearing white hat & sandal brigade desperately seeking shade ( I wonder where they can be from?!), the dedicated yompers marching determinedly around the deck in anticipation of the Christmas dinner to come, eyes front and no deviation , the weary mothers who just look relieved that the sun is out and their children have playmates of all nationalities to play with, the teenage lads who really DO seem lost on here, and tend to sit quietly in corners scowling gently,pretending they can't see the giggly girls, the long suffering bar staff with their enforced uniform of Xmas hats which they wear with aplomb and a smile, dads pretending to read their papers and discreetly watching the girls go by without attracting the attention of their wives, who are watching them like hawks regardless anyhow..All the world is here.. I hear French, English, German, Arabic,Spanish, Italian as a gentle cacaphony of voices melding with the Christmas deck music.. It's strangely soothing.. I'm not a crowd lover, but even within all of this, it seems calm and peaceful... They say no man is an island.. I feel a little like one here, but surrounded by other islands, so it could be worse. Language is not hugely a barrier- smiles are universal and people are friendly enough. I'm not sure if I miss the big group table at dinner or not- I've met some interesting people by dining that way in the past, but actually , a table for one has been ok on this cruise.. Sad but true. I have my reindeer deely boppers ready to go tonight; bring it on! Day 6&7 Day 6 passed in a blur of sun sleep and .. Well that's it really! Oh except for the fact that I decided against my better nature to try italian Bingo.. Oh that's fun.. You push holes in the paper as opposed to using your dobber.. And you'd think , THINK, that with repeating each number in 5 languages, you'd have time to read a book Inbetween... Oh no sirree!!!! It was bloody hard to keep up and when I actually WON ( yes WON!!) I was so surprised and so slow that I nearly missed it! As it was, I had to go up front to "applauso applauso" in bare feet because I'd taken my shoes off... You could hear the tuts from the Jimmy Choo and Loboutin brigade.. I don't care- my tootsies looked lovely courtesy of my friend Angela at Image Salon so who cares?! Probably just jealous of my winning! The show "Myths & Legends" wasn't probably going to be my thing so I pottered off to see the Arabian Night floor show. Highly entertaining if very basic humour, culminating in the crowning of Mr NeoRiviera... I rather like this sort of simple humour- you look around the room and everyone is laughing- similar to the first time I watched Penguin Racing on Fred Olsen.. There's not a lot more designed to make me cry laughing than grown men strapped to 6 foot tall MDF penguins whilst assorted punters throw the huge dice to get their penguin over the finish line.. Call me childish but I LIKE that sort of thing! So, back to Mr Costa NeoRiviera.. Round one, basically a " You can take your hat off " routine to whittle from 20 down to 3.. Well a blind man could have worked out all 3.. There's been a fantastic Egyptian man who throws himself into everything, ( he really can dance like an Egyptian!), there was the obligatory italian stallion who just KNEW he was, ( not that I'm complaining!) and then this little tubby long haired grandad who was just hysterical to watch.. Ok.. So I guess before round two, you can already guess the winner? The game was to drag 3 (un ) willing women from the audience to act as Jane, to each man's Tarzan.. There was ONE extremely happy Jane there.. Then Tarzan had to beat up the cannibal with his fred flintstone cosh (applauso applauso) and swing through the jungle to rescue his jane.. Ok.. Silly but.. Egyptian man had either never heard of Tarzan or he'd been really badly dubbed in Egypt , as his cry came out like a cat with his bits caught in a mangle ( bye bye!), the Italian Stallion was so busy looking beautiful he forgot to act.. So step forward Mr Costa NeoRiviera- who threw himself into the part with what can only be described as gusto, and he looked totally in shock when he won .. Even though the animateurs had hoisted his Jane up between them and deposited her in his arms! Bloody funny- you had to be there to appreciate it! Last night,there was ( boring but worth mentioning for potential Costa cruisers) an offer to wash and iron up to 25 items for a total cost of €20.. Normally this is €11 an item and so REALLY not of interest.. But €20 to get 9 dresses and 2 tops returned ready to pack? Oh yes! Returned to my cabin at 6pm tonight and straight in the case.. Thankyou Costa! Dinner was tasty and I leave the ship at 9.30 tomorrow- interestingly at the disembarkation talk, you can keep your cabin on here until 3pm at no extra charge and even then you can continue to use the ship's facilities inc the restaurants until whatever time you are due to disembark. To sum up, this is my second Costa cruise, and no they're not the poshest but I do seriously believe they are fun.. Life is what you make it.. Holidays are what you choose to make them.. I didn't see any of the Emirates because of this bronchitis, but I had a totally relaxing chilled holiday in the most beautiful weather.. The cabin was the best designed and most spacious of any ship I've been on, and the staff can't do enough to help. And I KNOW I will be back here. With Costa too. For non cruising friends, I hope this hasn't bored you too much.. For cruise lovers friends, I hope you find this a useful honest review. Ciao!!!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Arcadia cruise 9-20 December 2014 cruise J421 Our first impression was a good one as we arrived at the new Mayflower Teminal. It is very well designed and set out, much improved on the "shed" we were in in 2008. We had to wait ... Read More
Arcadia cruise 9-20 December 2014 cruise J421 Our first impression was a good one as we arrived at the new Mayflower Teminal. It is very well designed and set out, much improved on the "shed" we were in in 2008. We had to wait two hours for a friend who was joining us but had lost his passport. We were guided to comfortable seats in a roped off area complete with brass stands, brass knobs and royal blue rope. There were refreshments and a ringside view of everyone coming and going. We booked this cruise at future cruise sales when we were on Aurora in June. I use a mobility scooter and need to book an adapted cabin so it was agreed at the time of booking that cabin C2 would be suitable to my needs. I had the scooter with me when we booked. Despite this and filling in all the forms in advance, when we checked in P&O reckoned we were not in a cabin suited to a scooter so another 40 mins while they sorted that one out. Eventually we got on board and after checking the cabin made our way to the Belvedere Buffet for a very tasty lunch. Good first impression on the food, even for my partner who is vegetarian, something very few caterers understand. Muster drill was a bit of a comedy. They kept announcing to keep the lifts for for the lame and lazy but they were full of the fit.  I eventually got into a lift with a woman in her nineties but the lift would not go where we wanted and took us up and down ad nauseam. We were in there so long her father was waiting for us when we got out to demand I make an honest woman of her. You might be surprised at the number of people complaining about what a farce having a muster drill was, you would think that after the Costa Concordia disaster they would see it in a different light. We were on Freedom Dining and it felt like they were operating a smart wheeze at dinner. When you arrive you are given a pager and told there is a half hour wait so "you might be more comfortable waiting in one of the bars". We had just bought a drink when the pager went off. Less than ten minutes, they must have really upped the drinks revenue. We were all pleased with dinner but that awful refined diesel oil that they try to pass for butter had followed us from the last cruise. Thankfully the buffet had little pats of Irish butter so we smuggled some out. We came back after lunch to a letter for each of us accusing us how not having registered a credit card and threatening to stop our credit. This has happened every time we have sailed with P&O despite all the rigmarole of them swiping cards and taking signatures at check in. It turns out that the P&O computer system could not cope with my partner's name which starts O'R...... They do not do apostrophes and said he would need to change the spelling to Or..... I presume he cannot be the only traveller with an apostrophe and as it has been causing problems for us since 2008 I am sure it could have been sorted. The cabin was fine and the steward kept on top of it but it really needed a good deep clean as there was a lot of fluff going back a long time under the bed and settee. There were a couple of inexcusable problems in the bathroom. A very badly scored toilet seat, the scores yellow with urine and a mouldy bathmat. We complained and they were replaced. The food onboard ship has been excellent. Every morsel tasty, good quality and well cooked. A hundred times better than our first Arcadia Christmas 2008. Then we paid £5700 for a balcony cabin for the two of us and parted with the money as we believed they would really push the boat out (if you will pardon the pun) but apart from a wallet "from Santa" tossed unwrapped onto the bed there was nothing extra. On that cruise there was a standing joke about being served potato croquettes and carrot medallions at every meal and by the end of the cruise it was not a joke, it was a recurring horror story. That was the one where at afternoon tea, William, the vegetarian got two slices of bread with just a rocket leaf! He asked if he could not at least have a cheese sandwich and was told he should have given 24 hours notice for that.  So well done Arcadia, you have redeemed yourselves. One of the highlights in the Palladium theatre was a great male singing quartet. Former West End Musical singers who have formed a group. Their performance was amazing on the first night hence the reason we headed off early and camped out in the front row for their next show.  Check our fourtunes.com Ports Our first port was Vigo. A tip for disabled visitors. Ask any taxi driver on the rank to call you an accessible cab and they phone "Eurocabs" for you. I was able to drive my scooter right into the cab. There is a €5 cover charge but it was only an extra €4 to take us to the top of the town. Porto was next. Another tip for disabled visitors. It is very hilly you might make it down to the railway station with its magnificent tile murals and the cathedral, great views of the river from there and the port producers on the opposite bank. If you go further down be prepared to get a taxi back to the coach drop off. We have been to Cadiz many times and we were hoping for good weather to walk along the shore then make our way back into the city via the Roman Amphitheatre but the rain was torrential and relentless so we gave up and returned to the ship. At which tme the sun came out and we got an hour sitting out but it was short lived then back to rain. Malaga was a gem, What a lovely city. A great central shopping street, very stylish with all the top brands. A well developed port with an attractive marina, more shops cafes, bars and well kept beaches. At each corner an attractive square with beautiful historic buildings all very sympathetically preserved.  We took the accessible mini bus shuttle into the city but walked back through the marina and along the promendade. Do not be afraid to stop for refreshments in the marina, it is all very reasonable priced and they have the cutest, tamest sparrows that will eat out of your hand. We were told in the booking info that we would spend the morning in Gibraltar. Once the daily paper has been circulated we learned we dock at 7 and leave at 11.30. People tend to save their shopping for Gib as it is so British but as shops open at 10 there was just an hour before one needed to head back to port. My companions went up the Rock on the cable car but it was not accessible for me, too many steps. So I stayed in the car park below. I tried the Almeda Botanical  Gardens but same again, steps!. I guess that was to be expected from a settlement built for mountain goats.  They found the cable car quick and the top of the rock unusually quiet. The monkeys (Macaques) were there but much better behaved. There are signs up threatening. £4,000 fine for feeding them. There were babies, very cute, we have pictures. Protective adults, not very cute with threatening grimaces and great pictures of the view all around is it was such a clear morning. I was reading that the Macaque population had got out of control so they have introduced a system of modern birth control (Marie Stopes eat your heart out) and exported a few families to a park in Scotland. We had a wonderful day in Lisbon, 7 hours. My companions hired Segways from Red Tour Segways in Rua Dos Fanquieros, a man we have patronised for years.  I was impressed by the performance of my scooter but Lisbon being so flat the load was reduced a little despite carrying half the P&O buffet round my midriff. I set off with such good intention but the food is all so good!!!!! Measuring it out later the scooter did about 7 miles so just made it back to the cabin before the battery died. It is the one question people ask me all the time. "How many miles do you get out of it?" But there are so many variables it is almost impossible to answer.  I found a lovely local deli in a back street selling smelly fish and cheese and got some good wines for the couple who are looking after the car. We had Coffee and Nata, the Portugese custard tart, a Christmas speciality, at the St Nicholas cafe in the main pedestrian street that runs off Black Horse Square.  We had been warned about thieves and pickpockets but the biggest surprise was the number of men who sidled past muttering "cocaine? hashish? Marihuana?" I bet they shopped any tourists who bought drugs to the police for a cut of the profit as there were lots of Polis around who must have known what they were doing. I tried sidling up to people muttering "Sennacot? Omeprazole? Rennies?". Once the rush hour traffic was clear the streets were fairly quiet as there is a two day rail and metro strike on. To those of us who have been coming to Lisbon for many years you can see how badly it has suffered under the recession. Many empty shops and abandoned premises with older shopkeepers presiding over out of date stock that was once their livelihood. Many more beggars, local people and not addled with drink or drugs just abandoned by the state. They have made a good start with dropped pavements and are half way to full accessibility. Half way, in the you drive off the pavement and get to the other side of the crossing to be met by a 6inch kerb.  Then back to the ship and the two day cruise back to Southampton. All in all it was a good cruise. So we would definitely do Arcadia again after this one. Well done P&O .   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Having read the reviews of this cruise/ship I was a little nervous about our cruise, but I need not have worried. This was our first Celebrity cruise (Princess and P & O are our favourites) and I was pleasantly surprised. Embarkation ... Read More
Having read the reviews of this cruise/ship I was a little nervous about our cruise, but I need not have worried. This was our first Celebrity cruise (Princess and P & O are our favourites) and I was pleasantly surprised. Embarkation was a breeze and our cabin was ready for us, again, having read that the ship was tired and in need of updating i wondered what our cabin would be like. It was lovely, very modern and the furnishings were nice. The balcony could have done with a little renovation but there was nothing that stopped us enjoying the room facilities. Our cabin steward, Rufina, was amazing and nothing was too much trouble. We ate in Blu, which we thoroughly enjoyed, the food was of a high standard and the staff always friendly and obliging to any requests for something different. On a couple of sea days, we ate in the Metropolitan at lunchtime and that also was of a good standard. The service wasn't always quick but we were in no rush and where else could we go on a sea day? We did use the Oceanview cafe on a couple of occasions and from what we could see the choice and quality was excellent. Unfortunately, because of bad weather we were unable to stop in Danang but these things happen and you have to make the most of them. The other ports were great and the overnight stays were brilliant, allowing you to experience the nightlife of these places. We did some ship's tours and then used the port guides for wandering on our own. I have to say I thought the port guides were poor, and lacked information and decent maps. The ship's tours we did were good value for money and just right for us. We have a couple of moans, the drinks prices are extortionate. We like a drink when we are away but i refuse to pay stupid prices and whilst we enjoyed wine with dinner etc and cocktails I did feel like Celebrity were taking the Mickey! We enjoy the ambiance of formal nights but felt that there was no sense of occasion on this ship. I don't know if it was just this ship or Celebrity in general. When you make an effort to dress up I feel slightly annoyed when people are still permitted to enter the main dining rooms in shorts and trainers. On other cruises we have always felt pulled to the atrium which is where things always seem to be going on and it is a great place to people watch but on this ship the atrium was nearly always empty, it was beautfiully decorated but there was nothing going on there. Some of the entertainment was poor, especially in the Rendez Vous lounge. The singer playing the piano was great but the band with the male singer were dire. The music was so loud that you couldn't hold a conversation but thankfully it drowned out his terrible voice. We tried the Cosmos lounge a few times but always felt it lacked atmosphere. I don't think I ever saw the Captain, we heard from him every morning at 10am but the senior crew were not often seen around the ship. Hygiene was excellent and they were always dishing out hand gel and wiping bannisters in public areas. Our disembarkation in Hong Kong was quick but it was hard to get away from the terminal. In fairness, Celebrity did warn us about lack of taxis and we could have booked a shuttle but we decided not to and paid the price. The taxi queue was huge so we ended up taking the free shuttle to the Hollywood Plaza mall and then picked up a taxi from there. All in all, we had a fantastic holiday and I would quite happily cruise Celebrity again, especially if they reduce their drink prices!!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We had a very enjoyable week. This was our 5th Carnival cruise and most of our expectations were delivered. Firstly we do not use the Spa or the premium steak restaurants so we cannot comment on those. The Sunshine could easily have ... Read More
We had a very enjoyable week. This was our 5th Carnival cruise and most of our expectations were delivered. Firstly we do not use the Spa or the premium steak restaurants so we cannot comment on those. The Sunshine could easily have been mistaken for a new ship. We have been on several previous cruises on new ships and this one compares. The embarking and disembarking experiences were excellent as expected. The food was just Okay. the breakfast buffet was the same every day which became a little boring. You do have the option of the burrito bar which was good. Again the lunch buffet seemed to be similar each day which became a little boring. Food quality was Okay. We did try the stir fry which was excellent (which explains the lunchtime lines), and the pasta bar which was good. Also, the Burger bar was excellent and very popular as was the Pizza bar. Dinner was again acceptable but not excellent quality. Maybe what you would expect from carnival as compared to a cruise line that would be more upmarket. The showtime experience on the sunshine was not quite up to the level that we have come to expect from Carnival. The stage looks smaller and there is no orchestra pit. This is to cater for the theater doubling as night club where they want the extra dancing space. The other entertainment experiences were up to the standards that we have come to expect from carnival. Overall, a very enjoyable week. I would recommend the Sunshine and would have no problem recommending it to others. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014

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