1. Home
  2. Cruise Styles
  3. Holiday Cruises
  4. Holiday Cruises Cruise Reviews

999 Holiday Cruise Reviews

We have just returned from our holiday aboard Voyager Of The Seas and it was outstanding. The food was varied and delicious, with a different menu every night. The service was personal and outstanding.We had 2 waiters (Imade and Leo) who ... Read More
We have just returned from our holiday aboard Voyager Of The Seas and it was outstanding. The food was varied and delicious, with a different menu every night. The service was personal and outstanding.We had 2 waiters (Imade and Leo) who were fantastic and catered to our every whim.The cabin was large and spacious and very comfortable. The entertainment and facilities were fantastic.The cabaret show was one of the best we have seen. A perfect holiday Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We just got back from a 7 night caribbean cruise with MSC. We had a fabulous time. The wife and I have cruised with Celebrity and Princess before and we would put this right up there with Celebrity. I can't understand some of the ... Read More
We just got back from a 7 night caribbean cruise with MSC. We had a fabulous time. The wife and I have cruised with Celebrity and Princess before and we would put this right up there with Celebrity. I can't understand some of the negative reviews. Fast and orderly embarkation, and the ship was gorgeous. Our stateroom was a balcony and it did not disappoint. MSC is definitely an Italian based cruise line with a lot of Europeans on board ( I would estimate about 25% were Americans), however eveything was in English, and we had no problems. In fact we liked the little bit of culture (a couple opera shows...etc) that Europeans bring. They did have two other shows touting Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra, so there were definitely some things to appeal to Americans. Food was simply great, again I can't understand why the reviews ding the food. The buffet was huge with AUTHENTIC Italian pizza, and lots of variety. We were very busy during the cruise as there were a lot of activities to stay invovled. Gym was above average and very popular--get up early to get a treadmill. I wish there was a defined jogging track around the deck. The crew did a good job of keeping order and making things fun. I would definitely cruise with MSC again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Hi all, just done two weeks on Liberty around the East and West Caribbean. Good information to start the cruise from Carnival and the simple booking in system meant a minimum of delay on getting on board. We did two days in Cocoa Beach to ... Read More
Hi all, just done two weeks on Liberty around the East and West Caribbean. Good information to start the cruise from Carnival and the simple booking in system meant a minimum of delay on getting on board. We did two days in Cocoa Beach to help reduce the jetlag and found a wonderful place called, 'Fat Kahunas' which gave us one of the nicest meals we have ever tasted, so good, we booked for the day we came back from the cruise. Our cabin was spotless and our steward immaculate on both weeks, becoming almost a friend in their quest to assist. Son aged 14 enrolled into Circle C and we didn't see much of him apart from the trips and formal dinners - there seemed much for him to do. Probably had nothing to do with the teenage girls on the cruise either but hey ho. We ate in anytime dining and were extremely well looked after by the front of house team, their smiles brightened up the evening; we never bother where we sit as long as we can get food so putting us at a table wasn't too difficult. We had a bit of a wait one night when the battery failed in the bleeper and we received some lovely chocolates in the room by way of a not necessary apology. Praise Point: The staff are what makes this ship tick, they are simply outstanding and so hard working, a pleasure to be with them at this festive time. Development Point 1: Entertainment; we sailed on Liberty last year and the entertainment was nothing like what we found then. Fortunately, we are not drinkers nor massive on the entertainment side but we were slightly put out at the poor showing. We took a couple of excursions to the Mayan ruins on Cozumel which at St Gervaise were superb and Mike the guide, took us last year and was as outstanding on this years trip. Another asset to his culture and Carnival. We also did the trip on Roatan to the Marine biology centre which was brilliant, the rum cake 'factory' which was a shack near the lighthouse and I do not give my recommendation to a visit there as it seemed to be a quick take a small piece, decide and then buy. I prefer a laid back approach which wasn't abundant there. The Cameo visit was superb and an education, so laid back I did not realise that things were for sale there and had to ask - they were so lovely and dedicated to their craft, one of only two places in the world that does this work and well worth seeing. Development Point 2: The ship published details of armed robberies on this Island but when we asked the locals, they claimed that the robber had been severely dealt with and was in prison. Not sure how accurate or timely that advice was. The food on the ship was excellent and plentiful; I sent two dishes back, one an Eggs Benedict that had rock hard yolks (I was promised soft and runny!!) and no sauce apart from a yellow coating (I insisted I did not receive another!) and the second one was the mussels of which two were closed,,,,,,, not a good sign when mussels are closed. Other than that, the food was varied and as good as we can taste anywhere. Development Point 3: On Deck 6 where we were, there was a strong smell of faeces occasionally, I don't think it was someone with wind but it was very whiffy on more than one occasion. In addition, there was a noticeable list in the ship on its way back to Canaveral and vibration from what one Mariner on the cruise thought, a bent propeller. Either way, it could probably have been mentioned. Afternoon tea was another highlight on sea days and a chance to catch up, two Veterans meeting hours each week were really good, well supported and nice of Carnival to put on tea and coffee. Development Point 4: Someone insisted on putting coffee into the jugs and not washing them properly and the taste permeated each jug, as a result, I stopped ordering tea from room service and I took a cup at the Vets meeting and the taste of rancid coffee in the water was really strong and disgusting. As a retired military logistician, I think the people who do that ought to be made to drink it!! no point in mentioning it as the damage was done. The smell of smoke was creeping further than it should from the casino area, often being smelt on the promenade deck in the shops, I wonder if the extractors need a bit more ooommfff? Disembarkation was quite a simple process and was a pleasure until,,,,,,,,,,,,, we got ashore. Port Canaveral was a shambles. There were 5 ships in and a new terminal opening and no one from Carnival or the Port thought it a good idea to tell us. The taxi firm is literally only one company with limited cars and were overwhelmed so the lady wasn't ordering any taxis for anyone else other than her firm and strangers like us didn't know how to get to the hire car place. That is another story, National only sent one bus to our terminal and nearly two hours later, another had not appeared. We waited another 40 minutes for a taxi and went down to collect the car. A simple note to make sure that pickup was previously arranged would have prevented us spoiling our day and missing out on the trip to Kennedy Space Centre. A shambles and I probably wont be going back to Canaveral and couldn't recommend it I am afraid. Two hours and a bit to clear the port after disembarkation is not good. In summary, Liberty was fun, the crew amazing and did their best to make us welcome and share their Christmas away from their families with us. We have the usual lovely memories, it was an excellent place to be at this time; would we sail on her again? Almost certainly but we might even try a sister ship to compare but Carnival need to really address the entertainment side of things and up their game in that direction. We didn't go on a trip in Belize but I understand that some passengers were delayed by lack of tenders, it is probably little comfort to them that we waited for the rush to finish as suggested and walked onto a tender with no wait having breakfasted in slow time. It must have been quite serious as we got $50 per person as a shipboard 'sorry' from the skipper which was really nice but I am sorry to hear others were very inconvenienced. Cant wait until the next cruise with Carnival   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was the December 2nd nine night cruise, Southern Caribbean with stops at Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, and Labadee. Embarkation-We arrived early, around 10. There was a bit of a line, and they started getting us through screening and ... Read More
This was the December 2nd nine night cruise, Southern Caribbean with stops at Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, and Labadee. Embarkation-We arrived early, around 10. There was a bit of a line, and they started getting us through screening and check in a short time later. We were checked in and ready to board by 10:30, and they had us in a waiting area for around 15 minutes, on board before 11. It was a nice change from Port Liberty taking a crosswalk onto the ship at deck 4 rather than a gangplank on deck 1. One good thing about boarding in the first group was getting to windjammer for a bite before the crowd hit. It had the usual buffet fare, hot and tasty. We had an aft corner balcony again, this time 9690 on the port side. The cabin was ready a little after 1, and except for the older tube style TV, everything looked clean and fresh. We hit the pool for a while, then off to the muster drill. It still amazes me how people just want to skip the drill, which just delays the departure and they take the risk of being put off the ship. Anyway, it was quick and painless, and we were ready to sail. We had My Time dining, a little later than we preferred-there were a LOT of older people on this cruise and it seems they all wanted to eat early. As on previous cruises, the food and service was first rate, and our servers were fantastic. We skipped the MDR one night to go to the mystery dinner theater in Portofinos. This had a limited menu, but the food was great. The show itself was a bit cheesy, with acting that reminded me of a high school play-I highly recommend it, loads of fun. We only went to a couple of shows, the juggling comedians and the Love and Marriage show. Again, it was a nice interlude with plenty of laughs. Excursions- Aruba we took the Atlantis submarine ride. It was a little cramped and the seats were a bit low to see comfortably out the portholes, but everyone did have an individual seat and view. Thy spent a lot of time making turns to make sure everyone was able to see things. Pretty good but something I think I'd only do once. Bonaire and Curacao we just took beach excursions and went swimming and snorkeling, great clear water, a perfect temperature to stay in for hours. We signed up for the Castaway at Malfini in Labadee which was cancelled due to not enough people, and we couldn't get another excursion so we walked around a bit and went up to the artisan's market. I'll skip that in the future, the vendors are a bit too aggressive for my liking. We spent the rest of the day either by the pool, or at a party that our roll call group arranged. Debarkation-We were set up with the space center tour and transportation to the Orlando airport, so we were supposed to self debark with the group early. We were a little delayed because of a medical emergency, someone had to be taken off by paramedics. We were able to make up for lost time and didn't miss out on anything on the tour-It's a must see if you have any interest in science and space flight. Leigh and Erky were their usual whacky selves, and have a great interaction with the passengers. It's a shame Erky is leaving RC and Leigh going to another ship. All in all, another great job by Royal on a terrific ship   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My daughter, her friend, and I took the RCI Southern Caribbean cruise for Christmas. (Dec. 20-27). Our ports of call were St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Martinique, Barbados. We loved each island, particularly the fact that they all ... Read More
My daughter, her friend, and I took the RCI Southern Caribbean cruise for Christmas. (Dec. 20-27). Our ports of call were St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Martinique, Barbados. We loved each island, particularly the fact that they all had a distinctly different personality, flavor, and terrain. DD and friend did ziplines and turtle excursions; I stuck to tours and beach excursions. Was not disappointed on any island. Everything was beautiful and we didn't run into any problems with either the RCI excursions or the trips we arranged on our own. (We stuck to grabbing taxis to beaches.) Service on this cruise was much better than on our only other cruise, particularly in the main dining room. The food was kind of average, but if we scoured the menus and tried different things, we could always find something that was very tasty. The Windjammer buffet is pretty dull fare overall, we thought, but it's not bad per se', and we had no problems eating (and eating and eating). Again, some of the food was very ho-hum, but if we "shopped" the buffet carefully before choosing what we wanted, we were able to find tasty food. We especially loved the sandwiches, breads, and salad bar. We went to Chops Grille one night, and it was divine. Our waiters and stateroom attendant were all exceptional. Ryan, our statement attendant, was ever-present. We began to doubt that he ever slept or ate. He was extremely responsive and very friendly. He was very gracious about working around our schedule and communicating to me about when my DD and her friend had last been in the cabin and what they seemed to be up to. (College girls!) The weather was perfect. Sunny and warm every day. The ship was very nice. It's a bit smaller than other ships--about 2,300 people, I think)--and we could make it from front to back very quickly, which was nice. Despite that fact, amenities were all over the place. A bar or restaurant was never far away. The solarium on Jewel is outstanding. The only other RCI ship I've been on is Enchantment of the Seas, and the Jewel's solarium was much, much nicer, with a much more exotic and relaxing vibe. My only complaint, and it's minor, is that the Solarium Cafe did not serve much food--pizza and crescent-roll sized sandwiches were about it. The Solarium Cafe on Enchantment had salad bar and wide variety of sandwiches, desserts, and sides, so I guess I was spoiled. I'm not really on the cruise ships for the shows, so have never been to a show on any ship. I did enjoy the Centrum music and parties, though. Also, my college kids enjoyed the different clubs, bars, and parties; I'm probably just too old to appreciate that kind of thing. I was perfectly content to grab a glass of champagne, and sit and look at the beautiful Christmas decorations, listen to the music, and people watch. I did especially enjoy the disco party in the Centrum because I had flashbacks to high school and college. *sigh* Anyway, a fabulous trip for us overall. Btw, only complaint was the numerous elevators are mysteriously programming so that only two at a time seem to be servicing any one floor, which led to occasional long waits.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
In general is was a very nice cruise. The ships staff were wonderful. They were engaging and very friendly. The ship is very clean and looks great after the refurbishment earlier in 2014. For the most part the passengers were friendly and ... Read More
In general is was a very nice cruise. The ships staff were wonderful. They were engaging and very friendly. The ship is very clean and looks great after the refurbishment earlier in 2014. For the most part the passengers were friendly and enjoying the holiday season. In the main dining room the service was very good. With a waiter and assistant waiter we were well attended to. There was never a delay in courses or the water glass being topped off. The food in the main dining room was ok. The soups were nice and varied. The deserts were good and not too large. The main meals did seem bland to us. Also in our opinion they could not properly cook a baked potato. The specialty restaurants that we tried were very good. We did Chops for dinner one night and Giovani's table for lunch. Both were very good and in our opinion worth the cover charge. We had a balcony cabin and our cabin steward was fantastic. The itinerary was Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. All of our excursions, which were booked through RCL, were great. In Cozumel we took the Tulum tour and marveled at the Mayan ruins. In Grand Cayman we took the submarine tour and dove to 100 feet. In Jamaica we did the zip line and bobsled run, this was the most fun of the three. We did have technical issues in the cabin with some of the ships infrastructure but they were eventually resolved by the end of the cruise. All in al it was a very nice cruise that had relaxation and exhilaration. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We traveled on NCL Getaway Dec 20-27. Was a fantastic Christmas vacation for a family from the cold Midwest!!! A little background... We were a group of 7ppl - ages 5 to 59, I myself am a 34 year old female. This was my 16th cruise, first ... Read More
We traveled on NCL Getaway Dec 20-27. Was a fantastic Christmas vacation for a family from the cold Midwest!!! A little background... We were a group of 7ppl - ages 5 to 59, I myself am a 34 year old female. This was my 16th cruise, first on NCL for my whole family. Previously tried Carnival, Disney, Princess and a diamond RCCL member. I love food, I love good shows and I love good service. This is why I/we cruise! We flew into MIA on Dec 19th and pre cruise stay was at the Miami Biscayne Bay Marriott Hotel. While waiting for taxis, we found a van to fit us all (and our load of luggage) to the hotel for $50. He ended up being very friendly and offered to take us all to the Port of Miami for $40 the following day. Perfect. EMBARKATION DAY Our van driver picked us up at 11am from the hotel, only 15 minute ride to port. We were greeted by porters immediately and were thru the terminal and check in quickly. Waited for a short while in the holding area for our number to be called. Total from drop off outside to onboard the Getaway about 40 minutes. When you walk on the Getaway, there is not a grandiose promenade or atrium to awe you. It's just like "oh we are on the ship now". Pretty uneventful and unimpressive entrance compared to past cruises. Lots of decorations for Christmas though, many lovely trees and some tacky red and green stuff around too. We made our way up to the pool deck to walk around and grab lunch in the Garden Cafe (buffet). The main pool is very small. I'd be tempted to say tiny in fact. While there are an abundance of pool chairs all over the deck above the pool, the space by the actual pool is either covered or wasted space. It was disappointing for a ship that size. Most of the typical "pool space" gets hogged up by the Haven (super suite members) or the ginormous water slides. Yes my family thought the slides were fun but after the few minutes of fun on the slides, there was no space for them in the packed-in-like-sardines pool. The kids area is nice, also small, with no chairs in the sun. The Nickelodeon splash pool was packed all week. I did see several children in swim diapers in that pool, pretty sure that wasn't supposed to be allowed. The Garden Cafe was very typical cruise ship buffet. Go way to the back and it's less busy!!! We never had a problem finding seating. I will mention, the salad bar was always very fresh and my brother said the Indian food was fantastic. Head chef is from India so that's why!!! Morning omelet/egg station is great too. Side note-- One of the first things I noticed was the hand sanitizer EVERYWHERE. Crew has spray bottles and there are standing dispensers all over. I appreciated that as I personally know people that have fallen to the masses of norovirus passengers on a cruise ship before. The sanitizer continued to be everywhere the whole week also - kuddos NCL. Cabins were ready by 1pm. We had an interior cabin on deck 11 aft. My parents had a standard balcony on deck 11 aft also so I will make mention of both. Our interior cabin was the smallest cabin I have ever seen on any ship. And it was equipped with 2 pull down beds to sleep up to 4ppl. Wowza. No drawers at all anywhere. A few cubbies proved to be a space gold mine. At first glance we thought "no way we can unpack for 3 people in this cabin". Somehow, we did fully unpack 3 large suitcases and a carry on. I'm still unsure how. There were about 18" of space on either side of the bed, a nightstand on each side. With the pull down beds above the side of bed, smacking your head as you try to wedge beside the bed is likely (speaking from experience, ow). Bathroom was average size for our cabin category. Shower is a tad larger than the rounded capsules on RCCL or Carnival. And there is a little foot pedestal to help with shaving your legs, nice touch! Dispensers are in shower with shampoo and body wash. And a dispenser by sink with hand soap, no bar soap. 2 outlets by vanity only, none in the bathroom, I recommend bringing a small outlet plug in with additional spaces if you plug in multiple electronics to charge at night like we do. Note about cabin electricity --- you have to place a key card or credit card, etc in the main light switch to power your cabin. If you take that card out at night, your outlets go dead also and nothing will charge! We saved our pre cruise hotel key card so that we could always have a card in that slot. The room attendant didn't have a problem with us keeping our hotel key card in the slot, either. The one or two times we pulled our hotel key card before dinner, he put it back in so that the lights were on and the room was cool when we returned. The balcony cabin was average sized, typical layout. There was a couch in this room, unlike our interior cabin. Same bathroom as interior. Slightly larger closet. A single cup coffee pot was a surprising and fun find! The balcony was the smallest I've ever seen in our travels. 2 metal chairs and a small metal table. But hardly any depth to the space at all...someone with long legs would probably bump their knees on the glass in front of them when sitting out there. We all had the same room steward - Oliver. He made us 5 different animal towels over the week and was very kind to our 5 year old daughter. He didn't always bring ice or remember wash cloths but hey, whatever. If we asked, he was on it right away. He clearly had a lot of rooms, we couldn't quite figure out if he got a break from 8am-10pm because we could always find him. He became our daughters buddy by the end of our cruise. He even left her a note and tiny towel sting ray the last night. SEA DAYS (3 of them) I'm going to lump sea days together as we tend to do the same things. Eat/drink, sun bathe/swim, nap, eat/drink.... The towels-on-chairs pool hogs were rampant on this cruise. We were on the prowl for sun chairs by 9:00am each day. On the pool deck they were all "held with towels" by that time. We always went up a deck to find 3 chairs. Drink of the day was quite good, we tried them on sea days. Usually $6.95 so affordable. The NCL mini fish bowl was a cute favorite. Lots of servers walking around often. Deals on buckets of beer or bottled water daily. Shopping on this ship is horrid. Selection is virtually nothing. NCL Getaway tees, etc very limited or gaudy. Didn't buy anything onboard, except for 1 family photo we had taken. $25 for one 8x10. Photographers are everywhere as usual, however I felt they were slightly less annoying/pushy as I've experienced in the past. We did a group photo on day 6 and the photographer worked great with our group of 7 ppl and the pic was wonderful of everyone. FOOD I will admit to being a crazy food lover. I'm not picky, I like most types of food and can pick apart a crappy meal when I receive one. I will not say I am a "foodie" as I don't necessarily like the assumptions that some associate with that word. :) Anyway, we all agreed the food on this cruise was as good as our other cruises. We ate in the "free" dining rooms 5x, the Illusionarium and LaCucina. My brother and SIL had dinner at Ocean Blue one evening also and being Geoffery Zacharian fans were not disappointed- said it was innovative and scrumptious. Now to the "free dining" evenings- all but 1 night, service was prompt and took approx 90 min start. Servers were chatty and friendly. Drinks always took a bit coming from the bar. We enjoyed the selections available each day. Food was plentiful and flavorful. Almost always nice and hot, which can be a cruise food complaint sometimes. Beef was cooked perfectly medium or medium rare each time. The chocolate volcano molten cake is available daily and was a great dessert. The plain ol coffee you get anywhere on the ship is DARK roast, which is our fav so a big hit with our group, especially at dessert time. Illusionarium food was a set menu. App was a procuttio caprese salad, dinner a surf and turf with steak fries and a mini dessert trio. The app was my favorite of the week and the surf and turf was very good and piping hot also. Kids get chicken fingers and fries. I heard some other passengers requesting a fish only option and received a garden greens salad and salmon main dish. La Cucina is a casual Italian specialty restaurant. Cost was $15 for adults and $7.50 for kids under 12. Starts out with fresh warm italian bread and 4 dipping oils. Calamari app was great, as was the Caesar salad with lots of fresh shaved Parmesan. My mom and I shared main entrees - a creamy lobster pasta and a shrimp garlicky risotto. Both great. I was too full for dessert but my the tiramisu looked wonderful. We did lunch at OSheehans one sea day. Burgers, sandwiches, buffalo wings, etc. Good fast service, my daughter loved having an order of mozz sticks to herself. Standard sports bar quality. We liked it for lunch, did not try for dinner although were tempted by their all-you-can eat prime rib which was offered 2 different evenings. Being Geoffery Zacharian fans, we had to try the lobster roll and crab tostada at the Ocean Blue Oceanfront another sea day. $9.75 and $2.50 respectively. Both were delicious. Not a hearty lunch at all, but perfect when doing an earlier dinner. Ordered room service 1 time for breakfast, just for fun. For breakfast, you put a little card outside your door by 4am with requested delivery time and food choices. The breakfast room service menu was VERY limited basic cold continental breakfast only. No hot food items at all, not even toast. I chose 8:30-9:00am as my delivery time. At 8:12 there was a knock at the door from room service. My 8:15 alarm hadn't even gone off yet, how embarrassing to fly out of bed with crazy wild hair to get your breakfast at the door. It was presented well however and my daughter thought it was cool to eat breakfast in bed. ABOUT THE SHIP Getaway is clean and new looking still, coming upon her 1st anniversary sailing. Public areas are well appointed and each area unique. Savor and Taste are the 2 main dining areas, nearly identical, one blue tones, the other red. Tropicana is the third dining room, nicely adorned with the addition of a dance floor. If you are lucky, you will be there a night the Burn the Floor dancers are performing!!!! Atrium area has a large screen where movies are played and various entertainment activities are held. I felt it to be kind of a strange space right by the guest services and shore excursion area. Theater is beautiful although rather small for a ship this size. No balcony seating at all in the theater. Shows fill up early, be there 40 minutes early for the good seats. Legally Blonde and Burn the Floor are both held in this theater. Illusionarium is a unique mystical venue. Perfect for the magic show performers that make up that performance. Fee for Illusionarium was $___pp but worth the unique experience and really good meal. Something different that other ships do not have. Casino was decent size, yes it is smokey in spots. We found a few favorite penny machines with the wacky loud bonus games and played there several times- was a hoot. No one ever asked us about drinks once while we were playing, perhaps since we were on the cheap penny slots, who knows. A side note about the casino-- on the last night, we were playing our usual machines, were done for the night and hit the button to cash out. Nothing happened. Long story short, right after we hit "cash out" all the machines went crazy and you couldn't cash out. They kept saying on the intercom "Machines all have a glitch, we are working on a fix. Please do not cash out. Keep playing if you can." Nice one NCL. We got an eye roll from a casino staffer when we said we had cashed out before the announcement. 15 minutes later and 2 forms completed, we had our cash out. My sister-in-law had another issue - she hit cash out approx 2 min before we did. She took her little $7 ticket to an automatic payment machine, stuck it in and nadda. A technician opened up the machine and said, "sorry there is not a $7 ticket stuck in here" and walked away. So she got a manager. He just gave her $15 of free slot play since he didn't know what else to do. Problem was -- with the machines all in a glitch, she couldn't use the free slot play until things were fixed. Pain in the rear. So she went back an hour later, and machines still were down. Being 10:30pm by now and the night before debarkation, she just said forget it. Thumbs down for casino service. There are many other little venues with treats for a fee or specialty restaurants that we never visited so I cannot comment on-- a coffee shop, gelato, bake shop, or Cagneys steakhouse, a Brazilian steakhouse, Le Bistro French restaurant, Teppaniyaki hibachi and more. Even an ice bar- which to just step foot inside you pay a $20 fee (that does include 2 drinks). Many offerings for that extra charge!! ENTERTAINMENT I highly recommend booking all entertainment and dining online as soon as booking becomes available so that you get what you want. Although it's a pain you can't make changes online and have to call NCL to do so. Burn the Floor - one word... AMAZING. We all said it's one of the best shows, cruise or on Broadway, we have ever seen. We would have tried to go again but it stops midweek to change the stage for Legally Blonde. Legally Blonde - it was a good show with some good voices. Not quite like the movie but very similar. Really liked it but didn't love it like Burn the Floor. Mentioned Illusionarium above Grammy Experience this week was harmonica extraordinaire Sugar Blue. He put on a great hour of jazz. My hubby claims to be a jazz aficionado and thought it was unbelievable! Felt bad for Sugar Blue as his little venue was quite empty. Dueling pianos - maybe I am spoiled with a really great local dueling pianos because I thought this group was terrible. They could really play the piano but could not sing well at all. Fun for kids maybe early in the evening. I'd check it out again if different performers. Great concept and the little venue was packed! Skipped the Comedy club... It seemed to be busy. Splash Academy - the kids club! We have a 5 year old so she was in the 3-5 year old turtles group. She went daily and loved it, loaded with activities. They had a strange schedule, closed for 2 hours sround mealtime, very different than our previous few cruises with the munchkin along. They too sprayed kids hands with sanitizer coming and going and had safe check in check out procedures. All in all a great time for our daughter. Nickelodeon Pajama Jam - yes it's $20 per person for the same breakfast food you get in the Garden Cafe but it's a great way to see Spongbob, Patrick, Sandy, Dora, Diego and a few others and snap fun pix! And dance in your pajamas! Come on and be a kid again!!!! It was cute and the little ones loved it. Not sure where to put this so since it was in the theater, it goes here. NCL asked for a volunteer to hold a Christmas service. A pastor from Sweden and his family put on a short but nice ceremony on Christmas morning. SERVICE ETC Freestyle dining took some adjustments as we are used to fixed dining times. We had a good experience with Freestyle. But we did miss the comrodere you build with your wait staff when you have the same servers a whole week. Side note- We never waited more then 5 minutes to get a table for 7 in any venue. Dress is by far the most casual we have ever experienced. On "Norweigans night out" aka formal night, I seriously saw 1 other man wearing a jacket, outside the handsome suit or tux wearing men in our group. Jeans are very normal and dressy shorts are common also. My only real complaints with this cruise are service related. And rather detailed I apologize. #1 had an issue on day 2 with extremely loud metal on metal banging the entire afternoon. It finally put our daughter in tears so we called the service desk. Someone from maintenance was in our room within 10 minutes to check things out. Of course the banging stopped then... But we never heard it again after that. For the trouble, we received a bottle of wine and 4 chocolate covered strawberries. A lovely gesture I thought, until I found out my brother had called the desk twice regarding the same issue and he got a $100 onboard credit. Same issue, different perk. I did go down to the guest services desk to ask why the discrepancy (hey... $100 is $100) and i was told it is manager discression and that extra phone call my brother made must have deemed theirs a worse issue. Our cabins were side by side by the way.... #2 The NCL app. They now have an app that you can use for $7.95 per cell phone for the week so you can text or call others in your party that also have the app. Great concept!!! Horrible in application. The wifi that the app uses kicks you out of the app many times a day. iPhone users can get back in if you totally shut down the app and reopen it. Droid phones had to input their name and info every single time that happened. It gets about a 5/10 tainting from me because of the constant loss of wifi to the app. #3. My husband was walking by the pool one sea day and a lady fell out of the bathroom and landed on his feet. She had passed out in the bathroom, hit her head, got up and tried to exit the bathroom and passed out again. My husband stayed with her for 20 minutes while trying to summon help. A couple of ship staff in white officer like uniforms came and called the onboard medic several times. No one from the doctor on board area ever came. The lady did wake up and wasn't having pain so they found her a wheelchair and when they tracked down her husband, they got her down to the medical facility. I have zero faith in the onboard health care after this. #4 Not a complaint but worth the mention. We came back to our cabin one evening to find 2 housekeeping staff in the hallway with a mattress and 2 full biohazard bags. Also a housekeeping manager of some kind with a clipboard and checklist making sure all was handled properly. Apparently they have strict cleaning regimens when someone gets ill. I also noted many room service dishes outside that cabin for a few days so the sick person must have been quarantined for awhile. NCL seems to really be on top of the spreading of germs!!!! I already mentioned the hand sanitizer everywhere. Kuddos! PORTS St Maarten - we booked a 6 hour private van for our group thru Bernard Tours. Our driver was David in a closed air conditioned van. Very informative island tour. Shopping, sightseeing with photo stops and airport beach fun watching the planes land. The airport beach is packed and the waves are a little bit of a problem if you have small children. During the tour, David talked the entire time, so we got a lot of info about the French side vs the Dutch side. He had a huge cooler filled with drinks for us also. Recommend Bernard Tours. St Thomas - we booked Sunny Liston in a private van for 4 hours. There are 2 gates leading directly off the Getaway (which we did not know) so we were late finding our driver. We had Angela aka Gie Gie for the tour in an open air van. She didn't say hardly anything on the sightseeing portion, stopped 2 places for photos and again to let us shop. Then an hour at Maegans Bay which is beautiful and a calm bay but packed with people. Also had to pay an unexpected $4 each for entry to Maegans Bay. So so on the recommendation here - probably would recommend a different guide if you want more island info in your tour. Nassau, Bahamas We booked a day pass at the Hilton British Colonial hotel. Very nice pool and beach to use within walking distance of ship port. Very calm beach with chairs in the sand. Not over crowded. Service was very slow from the beach/pool bar and 1 server in particular was rude. But we all agreed the nice beach and drink specials would bring us back there if we stop in Nassau again. CONCLUSION Being a pretty seasoned cruiser, we know the things we like and don't like by now. Would I sail NCL again, yes. We did enjoy it. And the ship was lovely. Would NCL win over the other choices... It's a toss up and would come down to price for me. Being a diamond member on RCCL, it's hard to give up the perks. Another cruise in the books. When can I go again?! Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Cruised Western Caribbean on HAL Eurodam over Christmas/Hanukkah week December 2014. Third HAL cruise, first time Caribbean. First Eurodam experience. Previously traveled on Zuiderdam and Oosterdam. Traveled with hubby, 15-year-old son. ... Read More
Cruised Western Caribbean on HAL Eurodam over Christmas/Hanukkah week December 2014. Third HAL cruise, first time Caribbean. First Eurodam experience. Previously traveled on Zuiderdam and Oosterdam. Traveled with hubby, 15-year-old son. Sister-in-law and her family of four (hubby, two adult children, ages 21 and 24) also took this cruise. Pre-cruise -- we flew from LAX to MIA on Saturday for a Sunday departure out of Ft. Lauderdale. Did not want to risk connecting flights flying across the country during the holiday season. Arranged for HAL transfer to Ft. Lauderdale and then ended up renting a car in Miami for the 20 minute drive to Ft. Lauderdale. HAL would not refund the transfer fee of $30 pp even with advance notice. Once you book that it is non-refundable. Learned a lesson there. Stayed at Marriott Spring Hill Suites, took their free shuttle to cruise terminal on Sunday morning. Learned that we needed to book shuttle immediately upon check in as they, too, sell out space (even though they are free)! Hotel was sold out and everyone staying there was cruising, too, not only on HAL but on many other ships that dock at Ft. Lauderdale. Cabins -- we originally booked a Superior Verandah Suite on deck 6, midship as we have had great experience with the extra room there for teen son who is 5'11". One month before embarkation we received an email from HAL asking if we'd like to upgrade to Neptune Suite for additional (discounted) cost. We did this and moved to Suite 5186 with is a Neptune Suite aft corner balcony room on deck 5. Will try to attach photos as I could not find specific reviews for this room. Will detail that below. Suffice to say we were extremely pleased with this room. The bathroom size is the same as the Superior Verandah suite however there is an additional small dressing area attached to the bathroom with three extra closets and a separate vanity/drawer area. This room is somewhat smaller than traditional Neptune suites apparently, due to the increased balcony size. We liked that. This room also only holds 3 people -- the sofa bed is for one. The balcony is the draw as is the aft view. We heard no extra noise due to being at the back of the ship. The only drawback from Neptune amenities was that it is located on deck 5, not 7, as the other suites of same category are. The view is tremendous and you get a nice feeling of being alone on the sea when you are outside. Port vs. Starboard location -- our cabin had port and aft view. Port side on this trip will bring sunrise right into your room. December weather was cloudy at night so the only sunsets we saw generally were off the aft of the ship (great for our room!). Port side had view of Half Moon Cay beach, Falmouth terminal and old town, George Town from afar (tender port) and was facing away from Key West). Starboard side had awesome view of Cuba as we cruised by it from Bahamas to Jamaica. It faced away from most ports with the exception of Key West. Wind tended to be more of an issue on port side -- we rarely sat out on that side of the balcony due to the wind. I'd personally choose starboard for this cruise at this time of year. Food, Main Dining Room -- always great. This cruise no exception. Portions seemed on the smaller side which we liked as we didn't feel overwhelmed with various courses. We chose "at will" dining and never had to wait for a table for 7. Ate there 5 nights. Food and service spectacular every time. This was the best dining of the three HAL experiences. Don't know why -- the level was just raised in our opinion. They stressed attention to any food allergies or preferences (gluten free in ours). All great. Food, Lido Buffet -- ate here three times. Consistently great on all three cruises. Noticed special attention to water delivery around the machines as they are trying to prevent people from filling water bottles / cross contaminating I suppose. Ebola was in the news just a month earlier and special attention (we were grateful for it) was paid to keeping everything sanitary. Food, Tamarind -- a new restaurant for us, located on 11th floor, midship elevator. Wow, the bar here is the best on the ship! Gorgeous with wrap around glass windows at the top of the ship. Beautiful Lido pool view at night. Empty when we were there. The Asian inspired dinner we had was exceptional. Innovative food combinations, gorgeous presentation and many courses. Super service -- women are the servers here vs. men in all other dining rooms. Husband had a great sake with his dinner. We love it so much we had lunch there the next day (lunch is free), but we left in the middle of the lunch because of the slow service (it took over an hour to get through soup and salad alone), plus a very sick, sniffly, coughing, sneezing woman was right behind us. Unpleasant but would recommend this location for dining. Food, Pinnacle Grill -- again this was our best Pinnacle dining experience ever. Dinner was perfectly prepared, service exceptional. Steaks cooked exactly as requested, fun appetizers and decadent desserts. Had a lovely Oregon Pinot Noir that evening -- truly a treat. Pinnacle Grill is always a special occasion and though we never dined there for lunch, we were treated with breakfast there daily due to our Neptune suite privilege. This was a highlight of our cruise. Husband and I had a quiet time there every morning and loved every minute of it. Entertainment -- HAL always mixes it up and we've found ourselves doing different things each cruise. This time we were treated to a super group called BB King's that played in the Queen's Lounge. The group was from Memphis and they were amazing. The singers blew everyone away -- their energy and the band's professionalism and enthusiasm brought us back night after night. They got everyone on the dance floor (holiday cruise had quite the age range) and this will be a memory forever. The other groups and shows on the ship were good -- the piano bar fellow was kind of a drag (way different from other HAL experiences). Cruise director was great and the games runner did a super job -- don't know when he slept. They had good diversity of choice for the demographic. We were never bored and our teens and young adults had a blast. Honestly, we were tired when we got off the ship because we had such a good time. Pools -- The pools were not heated I think -- at least the aft pool wasn't, or if so, it was still really cold. This pool was stated to be for adults only though, being a holiday cruise, kids were in it (only ones to stand the temp!), not little ones however, and no one made a fuss. The deck area was hot in the sun, so we used the outdoor shower/rinse off to get wet and then lay out. We were disappointed with the layout of the Lido pool on the Eurodam -- the cabanas take away from table seating areas and therefore everything is crowded on deck. Add in the merchandise tables with T-shirts for sale every day -- too much stuff going on for relaxation. They should take away the clothing for sale tables and put back pool accessories (tables and lounge chairs). The food at the Dive grill rock, however! Order there and take away to a better, quieter location. Fitness Center -- HAL ships are pretty much all the same -- though we were treated to an announcement of a new configuration coming soon. That being said, the fitness centers on the three ships we've traveled on are pretty much the same. I did use the elliptical trainer and the treadmill twice at 6:30-7:00 in the morning (coming from PST, no problem!). Room is clean, equipment fair to good shape. The audio/TVs attached to the machines have seen better days but they worked. Hubby and niece took a yoga class and they liked it but said it was too short. 45 minutes, not enough time to stretch and benefit. Would have preferred 1 hour. Other days I strolled deck 3 roundabout early in the morning (3 laps = 1 mile). They have outlawed jogging/running for fitness so power walking is as fast as you can go on HAL these days. Who is in a hurry anyway? :-) Shore excursions -- our experience with cruising is that you never really get to know a country when you cruise. The cruise experience is more ship related with a time out at various locations. Holiday cruises are even more so as we hit our favorite port (George Town) on Christmas Day when most shops, restaurants, etc., are closed. Plan your trip accordingly. Service -- HAL has exceptional service. I cannot compare it to other lines as we've not tried them, but we love the fact that they include tips in your bill and you can at will gift extra or not. We've never had a bad experience and it continues to draw us back. They do spoil you for the real world. End of cruise -- we took a cab from cruise ship to Ft. Lauderdale airport. Cost us $20 (including tip) for the three of us and we were able to fit our four bags (two of which were large checkable suitcases) in the cab with us. Line to get cab was strangely short -- had to wait 10 minutes only. Don't know if we got lucky or if that's always the case. We felt lucky for sure! For us now, 7 days is too short of a cruise. Would love a 10 day choice as we are planning for leaving only the day after we arrive for a week. We had an amazing time - this cruise ranked as one of our best vacations ever.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was our 6th Christmas cruise but 1st on the Royal. We arrived in FLL a day before the cruise and spent the night at Embassy Suites. We took the hotels's shuttle to the port at 11:00am and were on board eating lunch in the dining ... Read More
This was our 6th Christmas cruise but 1st on the Royal. We arrived in FLL a day before the cruise and spent the night at Embassy Suites. We took the hotels's shuttle to the port at 11:00am and were on board eating lunch in the dining room by 12:30pm. We are Elite so embarkation was quick and painless. We were upgraded to a mini on Marina deck. Loved the size of the cabin and the large bathroom. The only minor issue was a noise during the day from the pool deck above when someone was dragging chairs around or walking in heels. We missed the full Promenade deck as we like to walk in the morning and before dinner. There was a walking /jogging track on Deck 17 but it was not protected from the sun and rain. 7 laps around = 1 mile. We did not use the elevators during the cruise so can't comment on those. We had Anytime dining and usually ate between 6:00-6:30pm. We always shared a table and never had to wait. Food was good but sometimes underseasoned for our taste. Loved the Chocolate Journeys desserts on 3 nights. We ate breakfast in the buffet or International Cafe since we like to sleep in and never got ready before 9:00am to eat in the Dining Room. We missed Christmas wreaths on the tables and Christmas Crackers on Christmas day. Those changes made the Christmas dinner that much less special than previous years on the Emerald. We had lunch at Alfredo's 2 times: pizza was OK but the crust was not salted. The 2nd time we tried the pasta dishes and they were very good. We did not take any excursions and in most ports we did not get off the ship. We enjoyed staying on the quiet ship, reading on our balcony and people watching in IC. We went to see the new production shows. Enjoyed all of them but they are short at 30 minutes. We did not see the other guest performers as comedians, mentalists and ventriloquists are not really our preferred entertainment. We did not like the new theater, prefer the one on the Emerald. This one seems like a cold cinema rather than a grand theater. There are no tray tables in the seats so people order drinks and then leave the empty glasses on the floor, which get kicked by people leaving the rows. You could see old lemons, straws and napkins under the seats. We missed having a priest on board to conducts a Midnight Mass. This time there was Catholic service conducted by the DJ and cruise staff on a bare theater stage without even a Christmas tree. We understand that Princess wants to be politically correct but this cruise was advertised as a Christmas cruise so they could make an exception. There also was no Rabbi so there was an annoucement in the Patter asking for a passenger to conduct Hannukah services. All in all it was a great cruise on a lovely ship. Perhaps if we have't cruised at Christmas so may times before, we would not notice all the little cut backs that made this Chrstmas cruise seem a little less festive.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I don't consider us as experienced cruisers since this is our our 3rd cruise only. Please take this into consideration. We have previously cruised on Disney Dream and the Norwegian Epic. We were a group of 26 people in 7 staterooms ... Read More
I don't consider us as experienced cruisers since this is our our 3rd cruise only. Please take this into consideration. We have previously cruised on Disney Dream and the Norwegian Epic. We were a group of 26 people in 7 staterooms (all ocean view) . Ages are from 5 to 78. Few days before sailing, we received an email regarding a change in the itinerary due to problems with the ship. The ports stayed the same but the hours at each port were reduced. We decided to accept the fact rather than get upset about it and ruin the vacation. The Ship: is BEAUTIFUL! Much better looking than the Epic and more beautiful than Disney Dream. The interiors and the decorations were amazing. Deck 5 is where the cafes are and it is amazing. The ship never felt over crowded even though there were more than four thousand people on-board. Casino is nice. The gym is nice but small for the size of the ship. As you might see from the other reviews, there are problems with the plumbing on this ship. Out of the 7 staterooms we had, 4 of them experienced flooding. Rating: Freedom-Dream-Epic Food: Is not that good and very repetitive. The buffet was almost the same for breakfast, lunch and dinner all 7 days with very minor changes to it. The Main dinning room food was OK to Good at best. The food at the Epic was much much much better. The food on the Dream was also better. Rating: Epic-------------------Dream--Freedom Activities: are endless. There is something to do most of the time. from Broadway shows to family game shows, to competitions. We were impressed with the shows on the Epic but this ship had way more. The family game were also awesome. We really enjoyed the Battle of the sexes (10/10), the Quest (10/10), and the Love and Marriage (9/10). There were also mini games like Sudoku Challenges, Name This Song, Sports Trivia...etc. Rating: Freedom-Epic-Disney Ports: Labadee, Puerto Rico, and St Maarten are nice. Our favorite is St. Maarten but unfortunately we only managed to stay there for 4 hours.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Last fall after visiting Universal Studios for a week my wife who is a big Harry Potter fan wanted to go back for Christmas however after checking prices and deciding that the park would be too crowded. We decided to take a cruise and ... Read More
Last fall after visiting Universal Studios for a week my wife who is a big Harry Potter fan wanted to go back for Christmas however after checking prices and deciding that the park would be too crowded. We decided to take a cruise and found that this cruise to be the most affordable available. So early on the morning of December 23rd we left our home in Maryland in a light drizzle and headed to Orlando where we arrived 15 minutes behind schedule at 11:10 AM. After retrieving our luggage we found the Royal Caribbean representive who escorted us to the ground transportation departures area for our transfer to Port Canaveral we were on board a bus on off to Port Canaveral by 12:00 Noon we arrived at the cruise ship terminal 10 at 12:45 PM and after our luggage was off loaded by the porters for transfer to the ship we got off the bus and headed in to the terminal as we entered and were on line to go through Security the fire alarm went off and we had to leave the terminal. After some confusion about where to wait for the all clear and the fact that the staff at the terminal had to yell as no megaphones were available it created some confusion. Around 1:30 PM check in resumed and after clearing security we made our way to the check in counters which was done by decks and completing the mandatory norovirus questionnaire we got our welcome photo we found ourselves on board. Since our cabin was available we went to our cabin to drop off our carry on and jackets. We arrived at our cabin and found an invite to a reception for Crown and Anchor Society Members and headed to the Windjammer for lunch. On the way into the Windjammer I bought a soda package and got a tumbler which you had to use if you wanted to get soda from the Coke “Freestyle” Machines located in the Windjammer and on promenade deck by the Café Promenade. As the Windjammer started to get full we headed to the Promenade deck where we decided to check the menu for dinner and to have a snack at Café Promenade and then headed to our cabin where we met our cabin steward and took a quick powernap. At 4:00 PM we made our way to our muster station for the mandatory guest Assembly drill. All guest had to check in with a crew member who checked off our names on their list. After the evacuation drill we headed to the Viking Crown lounge for sailaway and a drink. As we watched the ship make its way down the channel the connects Port Canaveral with the Atlantic Ocean. We had nice views of the visiting Norwegian Breakaway who was in the port on a visit on her cruse from New York to the Caribbean and the Kennedy Space Center and its launch pads. However with in half hour we found the ship at sea and after dropping off the pilot with the pilot boat we were off to Haiti. We headed to our cabin where our luggage was awaiting us we unpacked and headed to the Windjammer for dinner. After dinner we headed to the Royal Promenade to buy some souvenirs and then it was off to the Palace theater for the Welcome Aboard show hosted by our Australian cruise director Leigh who welcome everybody on board advised of the number of kids on board along with the breakdown of passengers by country. There were lager numbers of guest from the US but also China, Canada, Brazil, Australia and several European Countries. The show which is more of a variety show had some singing, a preview of a scene form one of the production shows and finally some juggling and comedy by Dan Bennette. After the show we headed to Café Promenade for a late night snack some more shopping and then we watch the Bon Voyage parade which was very entertaining. After the parade it was back to the cabin and off to sleep as tomorrow was the first of two day at sea. After a very restful night of sleep we awoke on Christmas Eve around 9:00 AM and after dressing headed to breakfast at the Windjammer. After breakfast we headed to the Palace Theatre for a Welcome Back reception for Crown & Anchor Members. The reception which included free drinks had some entertainment and then an introduction of the Captain and the Ships officers. The new top tier guests were presented with their pins and a bottle of Champaign. The presentation ended with a presentation of upcoming cruse deals with the ships loyalty specialist. While the reception was fun it was not as good as the reception we attended on Carnival a couple of year ago. After the reception we headed to a very entertaining Chili Cook-off where two teams of the ships chefs made their version of Chili while my wife had some chili I want and got my lunch form the Windjammer. After lunch we headed down to deck three to Studio B for the Skating Show “Sprits of the Seasons”. Due to limited capacity of studio Beach performance was allocated based on you muster station. The show as always was outstanding as the show is performed on a rink which was about half the size of a standard rink. I would recommend if you travel on a Royal Caribbean ship with the skating show that you take one in it is a wonderful treat. After the show we changed and headed to the pool for some swimming and a snack. After our snack it was time to head to the cabin to get changed as it was formal night. After getting some photos taking by the ships photographers we headed to dinner. Where I had a delicious shrimp cocktail and a steak which was a rather tough cut of meat and a chocolate soufflé that was ok. My wife had two appetizers one was a salad the other was a soup, Shrimp Ravioli which was quite good and crème broule that was cold. After dinner we headed to the palace for the show “Fast Forward” This was a very good review of Music form movie musicals. The shows on Royal Caribbean are also very good as they feature a live band as well along with a full complement of singers and dancers. After the show we headed to the Royal Promenade to attend the Capitan’s Reception which featured free Champaign and an opportunity to get a photo taken with the Captain. After the Captain introduced the senior officers there was a sing a long of Christmas carols. After Caroling we headed to the Place showroom where we attended midnight mass conducted by Father Enrique Camacho from San Juan, PR the mass was very nice and it was good to see that some of the ship’s crew were able to attend. After mass it was off to bed as it was Christmas and time to spend a relaxing day at the beach at Labadee, Haiti. We awoke at 8:00 AM and shortly after Leigh our cruse director announced that Santa was on the Royal Promenade and would be available for photos in Studio B. After showering and getting dressed for the beach. I went down to deck three and found two long lines of young people lining up by last name to get photos with Santa and a much shorter line to get towels for the beach so I picked up our beach towels. After breakfast at the Windjammer we took some pictures from the deck and then returned to our cabin where we gave our Christmas tip to our cabin steward and headed to explore Labadee. As we were leaving the Ship a group of local school children in uniform arrived to visit the ship for a special Christmas celebration. After getting our photo taken by the ships photographer and by my wife in front of the ship. Labadee is a private resort operated by Royal Caribbean and is a peninsula shat is on the northern coast of Haiti on the Island of Hispaniola which after Cuba is the second largest island in the Caribbean. To get around there were several trams which bought people from the pier to the various attractions. We got on one and got off at the market where we found the locals to be very friendly and eager to show and sell you their goods. My wife was able to negotiate the price for some souvenirs. We then headed to the beach on the Southside of the resort which faced the ship and after getting our beach chairs and finding with the help of the local beach attendant a nice spot to site we headed for the water which was pleasant. For lunch we headed to one of four buffet barbeques that were operated by chefs from the ship. The menu included hot dogs, burgers, ribs and bbq chicken. With salads, beans and corn on the corn on the Cobb. There were also selections of deserts available. Along with some complementary drinks (water, ice tea, lemonade, fruit punch). For those wanted alcohol or soda the Bar Staff manned the bars and the waiters were all for Haiti. After lunch we returned to the beach and around 2:30 PM we headed back to the ship along with most every one else. We showered and headed to the Promenade Deck for a snack. After our snack we headed to pool deck for sail away and then up to the Viking Crown Lounge for a drink and to watch the sunset. We then returned to our cabin where we began the process of packing. At 6:30 PM we headed to dinner in the dining room where I had one of the best turkey diners I ever had along while my wife a delicious fish platter. After dinner we headed to the palace showroom to see “Don’t Look Back” the Boston Experience” which was not all that good as me and my wife along with about 1/3 to one half of the audience left. We headed back to the Viking Crown Lounge to listen to the band there and then to bed. Friday was out final day at sea and were up at 6:30 AM and were at breakfast on the Windjammer by 7:30 AM as the Windjammer was starting to get full we headed back to our cabin to pack and to decide which suitcase will would use as our carry off. Around 9:30 AM we headed to the Royal Promenade to look around and headed to the screening room to see one of my favorite Christmas movies the Polar Express. After the movie we headed up to the Johnny Rockets on deck 12 for lunch and the restaurant was full and the service was the slowest of any Johnny Rockets I found on any of our previous cruses even though extra staff and tables were brought up from the Windjammer it was slow but the Burger fries and onion rings were very good. I actually prefer Johnny Rockets to the Guys Burgers served on Carnival. After lunch we headed to the Royal Promenade so my wife could do some final shopping while I ceheckd out the college football scores from the sports bar. After making our purchases we headed back to the cabin to finalize our packing and for a nap for my wife while I watched some College Football on the TV. Around 5:30 PM we headed to the Royal Promenade we headed for the Royalpalooza Parade featuring the entire entertainment staff. After the parade we headed to our cabin to get our bags ready to be placed outside our cabin for pick up. Since we liked none of the choices for dinner in the dining room we had our final dinner at the Windjammer. After dinner we returned to our cabin to place our bags outside for pick up and headed to the Palace for the final production show of the cruise, the production was “Invitation to Dance” with choreography by Luis Van Amsell of ABC’s dancing with the Stars which was terrific. At the end of the show the was a farewell song featuring some of the ships officers. After the show I got my phot with Leigh our Cruise Director. Then it was off to bed since Tomorrow it would be off to home. Saturday we awoke at 5:30 am and after showering, dressing and dong some final packing of our carry off we headed to the Windjammer for breakfast and to view our arrival at the pier. Our ship would be the first ship to arrive and depart later that day form Port Canaveral’s new terminal 1. As we arrived we found that there were two Carnival Ships the Liberty and Sunshine, Disney’s Fantasy along with an unidentified ship from Aida. After breakfast we returned to our cabin and completed our packing and shortly after 8 AM we headed to deck for to the dining room which was our designated waiting lounge after finding a place to wait we had some coffee and pastries but we did not have to wait very long as our tag numbers were called at 9:15 AM and we headed off the ship and into the brand new state of the art terminal 1. After we got to the arrivals hall we were able to find our luggage go through Customs and by 9:45 AM we were out of the terminal and headed to our transfer to Orlando International Airport at 10:00 AM we departed and were at our terminal by 11:00 AM. Overall we were pleased with our Cruise but felt that the food service was not as good as it was on previous cruises with Royal Caribbean bur if Royal Caribbean offered an itinery we were interested in would sail again with Royal Caribbean.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This is my DH's and my 7th cruise and my kids 6th cruise. We loved the ship and staff.....definitely one of the best. Now, Grandpa and Grandma like smaller ships, so for them this ship was too big. Pro's: Beautiful details (ie., ... Read More
This is my DH's and my 7th cruise and my kids 6th cruise. We loved the ship and staff.....definitely one of the best. Now, Grandpa and Grandma like smaller ships, so for them this ship was too big. Pro's: Beautiful details (ie., Central Park, Boardwalk, etc), a lot of activities to chose from (ie., FlowRider, Rock Climbing, Zip Lining, and more), Cleaniness (I was amazed how well they were able to keep this large ship with so many passengers spotless), Embarkation was super smooth and quick, lots of food choices (people recommended the "roast beef" sandwich at Park Café, it was very yummy and what I would call a "Prime Rib" sandwich-it was thinly slice prime rib not shaved roast beef). Con's: Elevators were always packed (no biggie if you are going a floor or two just walk but Grandpa has a bad hip so 7 flights need an elevator and it was hard to catch them), on board they communicated that we would stay on ships time not island time (I've never had that happen and messed up one of our individual Excursions.....We got in an hour late to St. Thomas and not changing time it was 11am ship time but Noon Island time so we missed the Sea Trek at Coral World....disappointing). We made reservations for all the shows in advance. Never had to do this before. Works out just fine if you are a planner...like me...but may be disappointing and frustrating if not. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Having just come off a 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise in a suite aboard the Norwegian Star, I wasn't expecting much from our 4 day cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada in an ocean view cabin on one of the oldest ships in the Carnival ... Read More
Having just come off a 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise in a suite aboard the Norwegian Star, I wasn't expecting much from our 4 day cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada in an ocean view cabin on one of the oldest ships in the Carnival fleet. I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed the cruise. We spent the night at the Residence Inn downtown which is about a mile to the cruise terminal. There is a free bus which stops at the hotel and it took us into downtown Long Beach and we walked over to Enterprise Rental car on Ocean and the following day we returned the car and they dropped us off at the cruise terminal. Residence Inn doesn't provide a shuttle bus to the cruise terminal. The free bus doesn't stop at the Residence inn on the way back. Take the bus all the way to the Queen Mary stop (end of line) and catch the next bus (or the same bus a few minutes later) heading back towards Long Beach. I recommend staying the night on the Queen Mary as it is right next door to the Carnival cruise ship terminal. My wife was extremely bothered by the outdated decor (especially the atrium) but I didn't mind one bit. The food, even in the buffet, was very good and met all of my expectations (except for the sea day brunch). The meal choices were excellent except for one night when the selections for dinner was poor. The Christmas dinner printed on a special menu was very nice but I absolutely HATE the sea day brunch because you have to use the same menu for breakfast and lunch and select from the lousy offerings. I tend to wake up early and have an early breakfast and lunch at noon so having the same menu for both breakfast and lunch is boring. One of the best things about the ship is the fantastic water pressure-it was the best shower I've had in years due to the low flow showerheads found in most homes. Embarkation was managed quite nicely by Carnival at Long Beach. We were aboard with a minimum of fuss and delay and even received our bags within a hour. Disembarkation took a bit longer but still nicely managed. The line for American citizens went much faster than the line for non U.S. citizens so I was happy about that. As far as entertainment goes, I don't know how Carnival managed to find the worst comedian in the world-whoever hired him needs to be fired. The other comedian was very funny and made up for the worst comedian in the world. Catalina and Ensenada are excellent ports. Catalina is clean and safe and it was a pleasure to be able to buy a copy of the New York Times and the L.A. Times after having spent a week at sea on my cruise the week before. Getting simple Chinese food at Mr. Mings was a good antidote to the rich, cruiseship cuisine. We travelled overnight and arrived in Ensenada the following morning. Ensenada is walkable and easily managed in one day. I recommend getting off the ship as early as possible and walking along Lopez Mateo before all of the hawkers wake up (the hawkers are bad in this town especially close to Hussong's cantina and Papas and Beer) Going to the fish market is a fascinating experience to see what kind of seafood is caught locally. Going to Mexican supermarkets simply to browse and buy drinks is also an interesting experience. I met one Mexican guy at the supermarket who had lived in L.A. for 27 years before he was deported and he told me about how hard it was to make a living in Mexico where the average daily wage is $8/day when he made that much money per hour back in the United States. We left Ensenada that night and went about 1 mph back to Long Beach and spent an entire day at sea before arriving the following morning. We caught a Carnival sponsored bus back to LAX for $30/person. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We had a great Christmas cruise on the Norwegian Dawn. My wife, the teacher, and I, the plumber, had inside cabin 8595 while our three adult children (27, 26, 22) shared inside cabin 9095. Both rooms were located mid ship close to the ... Read More
We had a great Christmas cruise on the Norwegian Dawn. My wife, the teacher, and I, the plumber, had inside cabin 8595 while our three adult children (27, 26, 22) shared inside cabin 9095. Both rooms were located mid ship close to the atrium. I found the Dawn to be a great ship. It is well maintained and the staff and crew were hard working, friendly and very helpful. We did not buy any food or beverage packages. My wife and I did buy the spa pass and thought it was well worth it. The cost compared to the cost of some of the excursions. We ended up using the spa once or twice a day during the whole cruise. Besides the great food, the ship board high lights for me were the stardust shows, lounge singers in the atrium, christmas carols sing along in the atrium, second city show in the spinnaker lounge. The promenade on the deck 7 was a great place for walking and enjoying the warm nights. I am an early riser so I would get some coffee go up to deck 13 and watch the sun come up and "supervise" the ship coming into port. If you want to lay in the sun away from the crowds there are some deck chairs by the giant checker board deck 13 that go unused until late morning. We attended the Christmas Eve non denomination service. Three guests officiated the service, a catholic decon, baptist minister, and a main stream pastor. The house piano player provide the music. About half of the people in attendance were staff and crew. It was a good service. Our excursions consisted mostly going to a beach or shopping. My two boys dove in Cozumel and really enjoyed it. In Costa Maya we went to The Beach Club. It was a beautiful beach with lots to do. We all took advantage of the all you can drink bar. No one got stupid, but we had a good time. This was our second cruise and first with NCL. I thought the Dawn was a wonderful ship. The crew and staff met or exceed our expectations.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My extended family (10 total, ages from mid-70s to early teens) decided to celebrate the holidays somewhere warm where nobody had to host. Most of us were first-time cruisers, although my parents have taken numerous river cruises on much ... Read More
My extended family (10 total, ages from mid-70s to early teens) decided to celebrate the holidays somewhere warm where nobody had to host. Most of us were first-time cruisers, although my parents have taken numerous river cruises on much smaller ships. We chose this cruise based on a combination of the dates, the ship size, and itinerary. We all arrived the day before departure, staying overnight at the Hilton Riverside. There are easily-found shuttle busses that take you straight there from the airport for $20 each, or of course the taxis become economical for larger parties sharing a ride. This venue turned out to be a lucky choice, as the weather in New Orleans was miserable -- cold and rainy -- but you can navigate from the hotel to the cruise terminal entirely indoors. The worst part of the experience was huddling outdoors just onboard on the ship for our boarding photos! The Serenade was a wonderful ship; it seemed quite large to us (until we docked next to the Oasis of the Seas later on, LOL) but we were navigating it confidently after only a day or so and nothing felt too far away, although the elevators seemed to be crazy busy on embarkation day. I particularly liked deck 6 aft, where the Schooner Bar and Safari club combined to provide a piano bar, pool tables, a great dance floor, and relaxed/quiet ambiance. My nephew lived on the basketball court up on deck 12. ;-) There was often live music in the Centrum too, but its stone floor was brutally hard on our feet. I would not have thought so before experiencing it, but all of us agreed that the days at sea (two at the beginning, and one at the end) were the most relaxing parts of the cruise -- all of the ports were, to varying degrees, rat races that left you either on the run or looking at your watch or trying to catch your breath. The single best thing we did, also by luck, was to schedule our entire party (10) for MyTime dining with a standing reservation at 5:45. We had a large windowside round table, ideally sized for our party, and the best wait staff I have ever experienced in any restaurant anywhere. Each evening, we'd stroll in and sit down and spend a few hours being treated like kings and queens. From my chair I couldn't help notice the queue of would-be diners waiting to be seated -- something we bypassed entirely after the first night. From this, we learned: (a) Choose the MyTime option, which puts you in the more genteel and less cramped tables on deck 5 [vs the cattle-call on deck 4]; (b) Choose an earlier time so you never have to wait on somebody else to free up your table; and (c) Get a standing reservation -- at which point on the first night you can request to have the same table (and waiters) all of the remaining nights. This took some trouble to set up (in advance) -- we were spread across 5 staterooms -- but the results were more than worth it. Aside from dinners, crew service had definite high points and low points. The staff were unfailingly cheerful and polite, but there were a few rough edges. Several of us found that it was nearly impossible to contact a stateroom attendant if you didn't run into them in the passageway -- there's a handy button on the phone in the cabin, but it should be labelled "Ring No Answer" not "Stateroom Attendant". For some reason, our visit to George Town, Grand Cayman, turned into a logistical disaster. We knew we'd be using tenders and that extra time would be required to get onshore, but apparently the presence of several other ships (I counted at least six, including the Serenade, in port that day) totally overwhelmed whatever planning had occurred. At 0800, the stairways were still choked with passengers trying to reach their 0715 excursions and there were no signs of movement anywhere. A little after 0830, I visited the Excursion Desk to express my concern about our 0930 excursion. The representative offered to cancel and refund the excursion, but had nothing even vaguely similar to offer as a substitute. When we grew tired of waiting for ticketed tenders to be announced (apparently they never were), we joined the throng in the stairways and eventually got onshore just in time to make the excursion. Since the Excursion Desk hadn't collected the excursion tickets when I had them cancelled, we proceeded to use them and had a great time. Afterwards, back onboard, I visited the Desk again and had them "uncancel" our tickets, which they did. (Correctly, even.) Nevertheless, it is hard to avoid feeling the day would have worked out better if (a) Royal Caribbean had planned the tendering better [surely they have done this before????] and (b) they had used the tender passes after bothering to hand them out and (c) they had told me "don't worry, sir, you have time to make your excursion" instead of "oh, we'll just cancel and credit you". We gave the Serenade's doctor more of a workout than any of us (or him) probably wanted, but our several encounters were handled with professionalism, courtesy and above all, a sense of comfort. Somewhat to my surprise (first-time cruiser, remember?) I ended up having an interview with him before being allowed to board -- I'd come down with the flu a week previously, but fortunately gotten on Tamiflu right away. (Great stuff, by the way, and heartily endorsed by the doctor.) It makes total sense in hindsight, but he told us that I wouldn't have been allowed aboard if I'd still had a fever -- which thankfully I hadn't for several days previously. All I'd been thinking about had been "I don't want to be sick on my vacation!" but obviously the cruise line is properly worried about all these people crushed together. We used more Purell in a week than I have in probably the rest of my life to this point! Two days in, one of us came down with tonsillitis and headed down to the medical bay. A quick diagnosis and some prescribed antibiotics had him feeling better by the next day, with minimal impact beyond a temporary prohibition on alcoholic beverages. And if that hadn't been enough, on Christmas Eve one of us became inexplicably nauseous, dizzy and weak. We trooped down to medical again (minor glitch -- the wheelchair was too wide to fit through the stateroom door). It wasn't clear if the problem was dehydration or something worse/contagious, but the doctor prescribed drugs for the symptoms and required him to stay in the stateroom until we knew what was happening. In recompense, all of the treatment was provided free, as was room service from a special menu, and he got credit for a future cruise to offset the "missed" day. 24 hours later, all was well. I'd never want anything bad to happen to anybody, but it was reassuring to know the medical staff on the Serenade were ready and equipped to deal with all of our various ailments (and many more besides). Most people probably will never visit deck 2, but it's there if you need it. I've mentioned dinner already, and most of our other meals were eaten at the Windjammer (the buffet on deck 11). I walked by the specialty restaurants several times, but we had such a great time at our table in the main dining room (on deck 5) that I never felt seriously tempted to eat at them. A few times, for a change of pace, we went to the main dining room (on deck 4) for breakfast or lunch, but it wasn't as much fun. The tables were close together, which meant that navigating to the salad bar in the center of the dining room was a serious challenge. The food itself ranged from good to great, and of course there was as much of it as anybody cared to eat. We'd brought a few bottles of special wine with us, which turned out better than planned. We declared it on boarding, but it wasn't taken away from us, and it is unclear if Royal Caribbean was actually enforcing their two-bottle per stateroom limit or not. More to the point, when we brought the bottles to dinner, we never got charged the $25 corking fee, which turned an okay deal into a great one. ;-) The dress code was slightly more casual than the Royal Caribbean guidelines might lead you to believe. There were few tuxedos in evidence on the formal nights, with jackets and ties more common, and the last night ("dressy casual") looked pretty casual to me. We are pretty much "make your own entertainment" types, so we looked in at the movie theatre (without staying), and watched one of the shows without being either thrilled or annoyed. The dancing was better, as both of the bands onboard played danceable music and were happy to take requests. As mentioned earlier, the wooden parquet floor at the Safari Club was far preferable to the tile floor of the Centrum. Disembarkation, which unfortunately came days too soon for us ;-), was a smooth experience although it was disconcerting to say goodbye to our luggage the night before. We watched others wheeling it off themselves, and I'm still of mixed mind which way I'd go if I had it to do over again. Overall, our trip was a wonderful experience and Royal Caribbean hosted a great holiday event. I don't have any other first-hand basis for comparison, but I'd definitely consider RC and the Serenade for a future cruise -- they treated us well, and I don't know that I need to be on a larger (or smaller) ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This Vision of the Seas cruise, Dec. 20-27, 2014 was only our 2nd cruise (first was on Holland America 2013 thanks to my generous mother-in-law). I loved that this was about the same size ship (about 2K Pax and 800 crew) compared to our ... Read More
This Vision of the Seas cruise, Dec. 20-27, 2014 was only our 2nd cruise (first was on Holland America 2013 thanks to my generous mother-in-law). I loved that this was about the same size ship (about 2K Pax and 800 crew) compared to our HAL ship. I'm reading some complaints about the ship's dining and wondering if these people were on the same ship?! I am a healthy eater and really enjoyed the WONDERFUL, FRESH fruits, salads and array of cheeses and fresh rolls available at breakfast, lunch and dinner. My husband and I are in our late 40's and traveled with my 11 y.o. daughter and her 12 y.o. best friend. There was really something for everyone on this ship.. the girls LOVED the rock climbing wall, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, the huge movie screen and large pool. We all enjoyed the FANTASTIC ENTERTAINMENT - from the big name (family friendly) comedian, The Drifters (!), broadway star Jordan Bennet (Les Mis) and juggler to the outstanding singers and dancers onboard the ship who did a great 70's disco show. There were aerial acrobats in the centrum for short shows during the evening as well. Also, Santa came on Dec. 25 and even had presents (!) for my girls.. a nice headset and a good sized RC totebag. Nice touch! All of our excursions were with independent vendors (highly recommend to save lots of money) so can't comment on RC excursions. I would take this cruise and go on this ship again IN A HEARTBEAT. Plus, it was cool to have a female captain, Liz Lauritzen, one of only 2 in the entire cruise industry. All the staff and our cabin steward, Carlos, were FABULOUS, hardworking. ONLY COMPLAINT - need more treadmills in the Fitness Room .. they only had a handful and each morning before breakfast all were taken. It was tough to get a free treadmill. But that's a minor complaint. Really enjoyed the food, service, layout and good vibe of this ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was our fifth cruise with Carnival so we knew what to expect going in. We arrived at the port in Miami around 11am. You had to find someone to take your luggage, so we were a little disappointed on the small number of porters ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise with Carnival so we knew what to expect going in. We arrived at the port in Miami around 11am. You had to find someone to take your luggage, so we were a little disappointed on the small number of porters available for luggage drop off. After finally finding a porter, we went through the basic security checkpoint fairly quickly. Make sure you do not arrive to the cruise port until around noon because we waited a good hour and a half to even board the ship. The ship itself is beautiful, modern, clean, and well laid out. It was definitely a full ship and you could really tell come lunch at the lido marketplace. The options at the lido buffet were pretty limited and we were underwhelmed with the dessert options, but Guy's burger, pizza, and the Blue Iguana Cantina provided great food all cruise long. The shows on board were a little disappointing aside from the Latin Nights show. The singers weren't the best, but the digital screens used frequently were appealing to the eye. The cruise director, Matt, was fantastic and engaging. He was definitely the best cruise director we'd ever had. We liked watching the movies outside on the lido deck big screen, and the popcorn and blankets were a nice touch. The casino was also a hot spot but was of course pretty smoky at times. Red Frog Pub is a great place and we spent some time there as well and enjoyed the love music. Personally I think the musicians that played out in the public areas were far better than the ones that were in the main production shows. The ports we visited were Grand Turk, La Romana, Curaçao, and Aruba. We did not feel safe getting off the boat in La Romana so we just stayed on the ship and essentially had a day at sea with a half empty ship. If you visit La Romana in the future it is probably wise to book an excursion. The other three ports were fantastic and we especially enjoyed beach days in Grand Turk and Aruba. All in all it was a fantastic cruise and we loved our vacation away from the cold in the north. Christmas in the Caribbean was definitely a great experience and we'd definitely consider going on the breeze in the future. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was a beautiful and clean ship. It had everything anyone would want. The guys burgers were very good and easily accessible. The blue iguana burritos and tacos were also very good. The steakhouse was good but a little too fancy for us, ... Read More
This was a beautiful and clean ship. It had everything anyone would want. The guys burgers were very good and easily accessible. The blue iguana burritos and tacos were also very good. The steakhouse was good but a little too fancy for us, however the main course (lobster and steak) was fantastic. The dining room food was OK and kind of bland. No good desserts in the mdr. Shows were very very good, which is a step up from my last cruise. Comedy shows were ok too. Cruise director, Wee Billy is awesome! Very funny and gets you involved. Pool area was nice, they enforced the "no saving" chairs by putting a time stamp on your chair if it was empty. It had a big screen over the pool which was nice for evening movies or early morning news. Drinks were easy to get and did not have to wait too long for them. It was nice to have the options to purchase the Cheers program. It allowed us to try different drinks. Alchemy bar - very friendly mixologists. Great drinks. Embark and debark went extremely smooth for us, very well organized. We had inside cabins, 3 in one and 2 in the other. They were spacious and had built in dressers with enough room to fully unpack your suitcase. Overall, I would recommend Freedom and go on it again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was our first time sailing with RCCL having sailed several times previously with HAL and Princess. We caught a great deal for Christmas week with Royal, so decided it was worth it to give it a try, especially when travelling as a ... Read More
This was our first time sailing with RCCL having sailed several times previously with HAL and Princess. We caught a great deal for Christmas week with Royal, so decided it was worth it to give it a try, especially when travelling as a family of 4. We really have no complaints, other than wishing we had booked a larger room. Large insides on this ship offer less space than on the other cruise lines of similar age ships...layout of the rooms could have been the real culprit though they were less footage too. Since we expected it might be tight, this wasn't a huge issue for us, especially with four port days awaiting us, but worth noting that it did feel different than same category on other ships. No issues with beds - we were all quite comfortable. Room attendant was great - room was always ready when we were and we rarely saw him. In fact, we enjoyed all the staff during our cruise...always efficient, helpful, friendly and fun. Only met one less than friendly staff person (just on the first day at the customer service desk)...definitely not a warm and friendly type but she was the exception, for sure. We had "my Time" dining and had booked reservations for each night , weeks in advance. This worked out great - never had to wait in line and always had great service. We enjoyed our wait staff each time. One night - mid week - service was slower and we waited quite a bit for our meal to begin, but we were in no hurray that night and enjoyed our time as a family chatting about the day over yummy bread rolls, so it was ok with us. We all enjoyed the food - always had a good selection to choose from so even the kids were happy with the menus. We ate breakfasts and lunches in the windjammer or Park café, and ended up at the WJ once for dinner - all was good. Lots of healthy choices available and I was able to try something new every day, which I liked, while hubby and kids could count on their "usual" favourites each day, which they liked. Enjoyed the available beverages...and coffee station by the pool each morning. We enjoyed the ports...stayed on ship most of the day for Roatan as we had visited this port before. Main pool area was nice, we never had to fight for a lounger, staff were removing towels from saved chairs after a certain amount of time, and despite higher volume of kids on this holiday cruise, there were no real issues observed or experienced. Booked cavetubing tour (not thru RCCL) for our day in Belize, which was great! We all enjoyed it, learned a lot, enjoyed our Belizean lunch, felt well taken care of and had a really fun day ($50 pp) . We booked chairs at a restaurant in Costa Maya for Christmas day (tropicante)...what a great day! Just wish the ship was leaving later that day instead of needing to be all aboard by 330pm. We followed the provided instructions, took a taxi ourselves to and from the restaurant and all was good. Coronas and Margaritas started by 10am and we each had great massages on the beach. A very relaxing and enjoyable day - including a free call home from the restaurant to Canada to wish family back home Feliz Navidad! Christmas celebrations on board ship were good...lots of holiday spirit and activities all around from passengers and crew...incl carolling on christmas eve, movies (Polar Express, Elf) by the pool and a visit to Santa on Christmas morning, on our way to the beach. There were Hannakuh celebrations going on as well but I do not have much info about that. We experienced no difficulties or delays with embarkation or disembarkation at Tampa port. No issues or differences to what we had experienced on other cruise lines/ports. Only notable event was at disembarkation....our plan had been to catch a taxi to the airport but there was a longer line up than we are used to...we paid the extra $15 total for the four of us to take a shuttle that was waiting right there and ready to go. what the heck - why not. All in all, we would cruise with RCCL again - no better or worse than Princess or HAL overall, just some personality differences really. We were provided the opportunity for a fantastic holiday and loved it! We are not interested in the newer mega ship experiences but would sail RCCL again, if the price is right - as family or as a couple. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
All in all it was a good cruise; would I choose the Conquest again? No. There wasn't anything wrong with the ship, except that it's missing a serenity deck. My husband is not one to sit around and enjoy the sun on the pool ... Read More
All in all it was a good cruise; would I choose the Conquest again? No. There wasn't anything wrong with the ship, except that it's missing a serenity deck. My husband is not one to sit around and enjoy the sun on the pool deck... he needs constant activity, and these smaller ships just don't have enough things to do! There were also very few activities planned, the majority of the random contests and activities were scheduled during port times. We did play some of the trivia which was fun, and tried our hand at the scavenger hunt. We really enjoyed the Epic Rock Show. A few of the other shows were good, but I didn't know too many of the songs. The comedians were rather funny too. I know Conquest recently went through the 2.0 upgrade, but it's really showing it's age. Needs a thick coat of paint and some new carpet. The movies they played on the big screen were pretty good, we sat for a few of them, and they served popcorn at the bar. The food was basically the same menu everyday, bland and just generally bad. Probably the worst food of the 5 cruises we've been on. Guys burgers and Blue Iguana Tacos were really good though. Your best bet for breakfast was one of the omelet stations, they were pretty good. The pictures weren't great this time either, they were either in a hurry or the printer quality was cheaper - something was off and the majority of the photos they put up on the wall for purchase needed some serious photoshop help. A few of ours were so dark you could barely see our faces. Made it really easy for me to toss them in the trash - I usually struggle to pick out a few and end up buying them all for a small fortune. We enjoyed the ports. St. Thomas is the only one that was new to us. Nassau - we did the catamaran sail and snorkel - SO much fun! St. Thomas - we went to Coral World and did the helmet dive. It was pretty cool, we also fed the birds, visited the touch tanks, and had a drink at the bar. The transportation too and from Coral World is ridiculous though - they aren't very organized. We also went to Magic Ice Bar - AWESOME! We went in with the jackets on, looked at all the ice sculptures, had our free shot of rum and after putting our jackets up decided to go back in and have a few more shots. No jackets, just shorts and tank top - it was pretty cold but after a few shots you didn't really notice. San Juan - it was Christmas day so there weren't too many places that were open. We walked the path around the outside of the wall, through the red gate down to El Morro and back. After noon or so a few places started opening up, we had lunch at a small local restaurant, walked to Pigeon Park, awesome place - buy some bird seed and the pigeons will flock to you! We walked passed the other fort and down to a small beach. Grand Turk - We did the helicopter ride. The island is beautiful, but from the air it's breathtaking! We saw some stingrays from the air, an old ship wreck, private islands, he flew us over the cruise ships. They also have their own private beach that you can chill on if you want! After that we spent the afternoon at Jack's Shack! Best place in the Caribbean! Good food, good drinks, shaded chairs and tables and a gorgeous piece of beach!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
The Explorer of the Seas is a Voyager class ship of Royal Caribbean International. Explorer of the Seas is a large ship that measures 138,000 GT. Overall, Explorer of the Seas is a big ship, but also an old ship. Let's start off with ... Read More
The Explorer of the Seas is a Voyager class ship of Royal Caribbean International. Explorer of the Seas is a large ship that measures 138,000 GT. Overall, Explorer of the Seas is a big ship, but also an old ship. Let's start off with the staterooms. I stayed in a Superior Balcony on Deck 7; my TV was old; it still had the lump on the back of the TV. The balcony view was port side which was nice. The 4- Night Cruise to Labadee had two sea days; the pool deck was often crowded which had many children splashing me with water which I advise parents to supervise their children. The main dining room service was okay. Our assistant server forgot to serve us bread which made me lose my appetite. The Cruise Director was mean; they had this competition and he wanted twins and two Asians walked up and they looked the same; he then said "no your not twins; your Asians!" He sent the Asians back with a disgruntled face. Overall the ship was fun; Labadee is fun. I would love to cruise with Royal Caribbean again because I am a Gold Crown and Anchor Society member. Explorer of the Seas will be refurbished in May 2015 adding the Flowrider and replacing the in-line skating track. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I was initially concerned about cruising on the Emerald Princess at Christmas for fear that: 1) the ship would be overrun with unsupervised children, 2) we'd have problems departing and arriving in the Port of Houston due to fog and ... Read More
I was initially concerned about cruising on the Emerald Princess at Christmas for fear that: 1) the ship would be overrun with unsupervised children, 2) we'd have problems departing and arriving in the Port of Houston due to fog and 3) that the number of passengers would make for a crowded ship. I am happy to report that none of my fears materialized and that our Christmas cruise was very merry indeed. Embarkation: We (two adults in late 50's and two adults in mid 20's) stayed the night prior to the cruise at the Springhill Suites at Hobby Airport. The hotel offered free shuttle service from the airport and to anywhere within 5 miles of the hotel. This worked our great for us because we had family members arriving at Hobby at 3 different times and they just came to the hotel on the shuttle. Also, the shuttle was great for taking us to restaurants, Walmart, etc. The next day we called Pasadena Taxis and they sent a nice minivan for our party of 4. The cost, as they estimated beforehand, was around $50. We arrived at the time Princess requested we do so (noon - 1pm) and the line was rather long, but moved at a good pace. We were onboard the ship within 30 minutes of arriving at the port. The ship departed the Port of Houston almost on time--no fog problems. Public Rooms: This was the largest Princess ship I had ever sailed on, so I was a little concerned that it would feel crowded. Not so. There were plenty of public places to go which were uncrowded. In fact, this felt as one of the most un-crowded ships I've ever been on. Because this was a Christmas cruise, all of the public areas were decorated which made it especially nice. The Piazza was wonderful and we enjoyed the champagne waterfall, Christmas caroling and other programs here. Another of our favorite spots was the area outside the Explorers Lounge. There were always some tables and chairs there where we could play our Scrabble game. The outside areas were equally uncrowded. Our go-to place for breakfast was the Caribe Cafe and the area behind the cafe and our go-to place for sunning and swimming was at the Terrace Pool. This area seemed to be a secret from most of the passengers because they were crowded in the Horizon Court and around the Calypso and Neptune Pools. The only public area that was a disappointment to me was the library. For such a large ship, this was a pitifully small library. Cabin: Our party had both a balcony room and an inside room. The rooms on Princess are somewhat smaller than their counterparts on other cruiseships, but they are still fine. I will say that we had more than enough storage space for all of our clothes and luggage. And having a mini-fridge in all of the rooms is a big plus for Princess. The beds on Princess have always been so comfortable to me. Our cabins were on the Aloha Deck and we never heard a thing--no sounds from the ship, no sounds from the passengers, no sounds of the stewards' carts. This was the quietest room I've ever had on a ship. Fitness and Recreation: The fitness room was similar to most fitness rooms on other cruise ships. Treadmills were the most popular machines but were available for use only after 8am due to the fact that there were cabins underneath. The gym was open from 6am to 10pm. There were lots of other recreational areas--putting course, croquet, half-size shuffleboard, and basketball. Enrichment Activities: I don't recall any on this cruise. On previous Princess cruises, there have been educational talks about the ports-of-call, but not so on this ship. There were also not any "Scholarship at Sea" programs. Dining: Our dining experience (late traditional) started out poorly when we were assigned a table in a highly-trafficked area next to the waiter's service area. We could see several other tables in quieter areas which were empty, so the next day I contacted the head waiter for the Botticello dining room and we were immediately re-assigned to a quiet table next to the window. (I wonder why passengers were seated at less-desireable locations when prime locations were available?) The breakfasts in the Caribe Cafe were fine, but we were never able to get any grapefruit despite being told we could. For lunch, we always had pizza, hot dogs or hamburgers and they were all delicious. We never waited for the grilled foods and there was never more than a 5 - 10 minute wait for pizza. The dinner menu was OK, but I have always found the food on Princess to be rather bland. Since this was a cruise out of Texas, I would have expected some spicer food as we love our Tex-Mex and BBQ. Even the food choices that were supposed to be spicy were not. Princess would do a real service to their customers by providing a "spicy" option at each meal. Entertainment: There was lots of entertainment on this ship. We did not attend any of the production shows, but the performances by the guest performers, singer Lovena B. Fox and magician Michael Barron were excellent! The Christmas caroling by the staff was such fun and there were other programs in the Piazza which I enjoyed. My only gripe about the entertainment was that there was a nightly game show (trivia, etc.) each night at 9:15 pm, but those who had traditional late dining could not participate because we were never finished with our meals until 9:30 pm or later. Shore Excursions: We had 3 port stops and we did a ship's excursion in Belize. I prefer private tours, but since this was a tender port and since we were only in port until 4:30 pm, I was afraid to book a private tour for our destination, the Lamanai Mayan Ruins. Like all big tours, we waited around a LOT but the excursion met our expectations. I will say Princess does a good job on their website letting you know exactly where you will go on your excursion and how much time you will spend there. The lunch, however, on this excursion was poor. The meal consisted of 2 small pieces of chicken, rice and coleslaw. I barely had enough to eat and my 6'4" son certainly did not. Service: The service on the Emerald Princess was excellent. The staff was friendly and seemed to do all that they could to ensure you had a great experience. My interactions with the head waiter and with the pursers desk were productive. Debarkation: We arrived in the Port of Houston about an hour later than scheduled due to weather. However, they made up some of this time and we debarked only 30 minutes later than scheduled. The debarkation was pretty good, but our assigned area, the Crown Grill, was too small for everyone who was supposed to be there. We ended up waiting in another area and ocassionally walking over to the Crown Grill to check on our debarkation time. Going through Customs and Immigration in Houston was easy and we quickly got a taxi (Pasadena Taxi again) to Hobby airport. The cost was around $60. Value for Money: Because this was a Christmas cruise, the cost was much higher than the cost of this same cruise at other times. Therefore, our "value-for'money" was less. However, this was a great cruise and I would recommend both the Emerald Princess and doing a Christmas cruise. A Final Note: As previously mentioned, I was really concerned about booking a Christmas cruise for 4 adults for fear we'd be overrun by children. When we were in the embarcation line, I commented to my spouse as to how few children there were. During the entire cruise we saw relatively few children and we did not experience ANY rude, misbehaving or unsupervised children. I was very pleasantly surprised.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Well I am going to briefly recap this 11 day cruise. I was fortunate to attend both of the CC M &G and the follow up with the officers. First I want to thank the Officers for their time and effort to field our questions and concerns. ... Read More
Well I am going to briefly recap this 11 day cruise. I was fortunate to attend both of the CC M &G and the follow up with the officers. First I want to thank the Officers for their time and effort to field our questions and concerns. Personally I feel that some issues were very valid while others such as no services for Christmas were not. In this day and age if you wanted to attend a service we were in port on Christmas. I emailed the Catholic church for their schedule. That being said yes the choices for food in the restaurants for breakfast and lunch did tend to be unexciting after 11 days, but the buffets had something for everyone. The dinner portions were on the large side especially after ordering starters. An important thing to remember is NCL is "freestyle" if you want to be on a schedule than chose another line. We prefer NCL because depending on how you plan your day a set schedule crimps our style. This is my second time on the Pearl and we came back because the staff makes you feel like they are your family while you are with them. I know they are always going to be complaints but everyone can always improve. They do need to update the app because the Cagney's menu is out of date. Would have liked them to make more announcement about special events like the chocolate buffet that we found out after. It could have been an over site by us because there were so many things listed in the Freestyle Daily. Our room steward Mark Rillion was great always very cheerful and friendly. I am glad that everyone have name tags but I would like to see the waitstaff introduce themselves. There were some maintenance issues in the spa when it was brought to the attention at the spa desk it was not addressed but once Tony was informed at the CC meeting they were up there checking the spa. It was nice to see that the are always working to maintain the Pearl. Sometimes what we do not realize as guests that if we had to be a continuously working resort with no prolonged time off could we keep things perfect? The answer is no. NCL does the best at trying to keep things running smoothly. They did a get job with making Christmas away from home still feel like Christmas with the decoration, music, even Santa and his elves for kids of all ages. Did anyone see the Grinch walking around too. NYE was a blast for those who were in the atrium there was a balloon drop and the deck had Father Time with Baby New Year. Joel our Cruise Director was out singing with the band and Captain Paul was strolling the decks. What more can you say we had gorgeous days of sunshine cheerful music happy staff and new friendships formed. Thank you to all of the crew members who spent the Holidays with their Pearl family.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
just returned from the New Year cruise on Q Victoria and had a fantastic time. We were in Amsterdam on New Years Eve and the ship remained on UK time throughout the voyage so that we could enjoy the Magnificent fireworks in Amsterdam at ... Read More
just returned from the New Year cruise on Q Victoria and had a fantastic time. We were in Amsterdam on New Years Eve and the ship remained on UK time throughout the voyage so that we could enjoy the Magnificent fireworks in Amsterdam at midnight Dutch time before coming inside to celebrate all over again on UK time ... A great idea! We were on 2nd sitting in Britannia and the food was excellent the whole time - possibly the best we have experienced since the QE2 days. Entertainment, however wasn't quite as good -the 4Tunes were superb and did a great job on NYE, but an ageing David Copperfield (not the illusionist unfortunately ... The other one) was pretty poor and the Cunard singers and dancers were just average. Sally Sagoe is pitiful and her morning show is torture to watch ... Not a patch on some of the other Entertainment Directors we have seen on Cunard. Having said that, we still had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We enjoyed our first "Christmas Away From Home", on board the "Queen of the Mississippi", along with 135 other passengers. Arriving a few days prior to the trip, we stayed at the Dauphine Orleans hotel in the French ... Read More
We enjoyed our first "Christmas Away From Home", on board the "Queen of the Mississippi", along with 135 other passengers. Arriving a few days prior to the trip, we stayed at the Dauphine Orleans hotel in the French Quarter - a good choice for location and top quality service. Café Du Monde (and their famous bignets) and the St. Louis Cathedral, and Antoine's were highlights. Our taxi dropped us off near the "Queen of the Mississippi" where we were greeted by crew members who took over our luggage and escorted us to our cabin. We set sail on Saturday around noon. The cruise included port stops and tours each day - since we have traveled with American Cruise Line in the past, all our tour costs was free. Each day we returned to the boat for Happy Hour at 5:30 - all snacks and drinks were "on the house". Each evening there was local entertainment - of course, on this cruise, that included a lot of jazz, New Orleans style. No problem with outside or hall noise. We were very pleased with the size and "freshness" of our cabin; our 3 meals a day in the dining room included our choice of wines at both lunch and dinner. The crew and staff were all friendly and seemed to enjoy their job and anxious to be of service to us. The staff was helpful in getting us and our luggage to the airport, train depot, etc. In summary, this was an enjoyable trip and one we can recommend. We are already signed up for our next cruise with American Cruise Line.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click