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999 Holiday Cruise Reviews

Just off Carnival Sunshine where we celebrated a new year with Son and family. I am always comparing Carnival and Royal Caribbean as we sail on both. I will list topics as I review Sunshine. Embarkation -Arrived around 1 and on ship in 30 ... Read More
Just off Carnival Sunshine where we celebrated a new year with Son and family. I am always comparing Carnival and Royal Caribbean as we sail on both. I will list topics as I review Sunshine. Embarkation -Arrived around 1 and on ship in 30 minutes. Stateroom - 2 with balcony near front of ship Port side.My husband and I in 1 room with small love seat that would make a small bed. My son and his wife had bunk beds for their 9 and 12 year old. Adequate storage but narrow space between bed and shelves in both staterooms. Long shower with curtain. We had 3 problems with toilet but service came soon to fix. A problem getting through on phone at 11:30 New Year's Eve but finally successful.Plumbing was right outside our room so they fixed it in hall each time. Fantastic steward by Marta and assistant. Food - Again I say Desserts are fabulous on Carnival and just OK on RC. Best tip is to take your buffet food to Havana Bar on aft.A few Cuban items at bar. Also wok and Italian available at no cost at lunch in this area.We always ate in this area for breakfast and lunch. Burrito and taco bar and Guy Fieri hamburgers at pool near this area. All very tasty. We had anytime dining. Hour wait the first night and received a dessert plate with apology. Not sure why but maybe not enough crew in dining room as saw empty tables. The rest of the cruise we asked for Perwira from Indonisa who was the best ever. So sometimes waited 20 minutes for his table. Check in at deck 5 Alchemy Bar( my favorite on any ship) and then go to deck 3 aft. New menu with many selections. Children always liked their food and adults seemed to enjoy appetizers more than entres.Did not care for most desserts except Choc Molten cake and Bitter and blanc.Buffet lunch was hit or miss. A lot of fried food but one day carved turkey and interesting salads each day. Desserts we awesome. Choc cheese cake was my favorite.RC always has mashed potatoes but only on lunch buffet one time. Sea Day Buffet was perfect. Kids club - Not as good as Enchantment on RC. kids went some each day but didn't stay long if no sports. rope course was12 year old granddaughters fav and putt putt 9 year old grandson's fav. Slides on long day were long waits and not 1 chair available. Ship was full and very crowded in public areas. Ship-Crew was extremely friendly and helpful.but so is RC. Jamie is best cruise director ever. . Production shows were high tech,loud, and entertaining but go early as not a lot of seats. Casino- Slots were very, very good to me. Husband won on 3 card poker. 1500 points on slots and you get free drinks.Every 15 minutes if you drink that fast. lol New year's eve seemed better on RC ,no chairs out on lido deck.Lobby also had a party and balloon drop but small area.some chairs available on serenity deck if you got there early. Miss the chairs and tables around pool which we have on RC. We loved serenity for pool days as a quiet place to read and some shade.But that separated us from family so sometimes sat with them on 2nd level. Jan 1 football day was the best!! pompoms and games on large screen. lido deck was full of cheering fans. Excursions- Only Grand Turk, son and family did flow rider and snorkeled and they loved it. My husband and I got on open-air free trolly in San Juan and it was really interesting and pleasant weather.We like to eat at Mojitos for local cusine. yummy but very busy and slow service this visit. You get cell service in San Juan so nice to keep in touch as this was a problem on ship. We get free drink vouchers on RC which makes the cruising experience different so hard to compare. My final thoughts- Carnival is trying hard to make the cruise fun and our family had a great week. Not a rowdy group maybe because it was an expensive week to cruise. We found a deal through a timeshare.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We did a cruise around the Island of Cuba on december 26 2014 to January 2 2015. We boarded in Montego Bay (Jamaica) and then went to Cienfuegos (Cuba), Island of the youth (Cuba), Havana (Cuba), Antilla (Cuba), Santiago de Cuba and back ... Read More
We did a cruise around the Island of Cuba on december 26 2014 to January 2 2015. We boarded in Montego Bay (Jamaica) and then went to Cienfuegos (Cuba), Island of the youth (Cuba), Havana (Cuba), Antilla (Cuba), Santiago de Cuba and back to Montego Bay. We flew from Montreal to Montego Bay by Air Transat with a transfer from airport to port arranged by air transat and the same thing on the way back .....everything went smoothly (we had a small bus on the way in so we had to wait one hour for some people who were really late (no respect for people they are on time) but on the way back the guide put us on a taxi so we did not had to wait for late people.....it was greatlty appreciated). The ship is in very good condition (no luxury but very clean and nice), when we arrived employees were waiting for us to escort us for the chek-in which was very efficient (took about 10 minutes) then went to the reception to ask some questions and pay for the safe which is in the room and they give us an electronic key for the safe (took about 3 minutes)....then went directly to the room which was ready (deluxe interior room on deck 7 (category IE) , very clean and a lot of storage so we unpacked everything and we still had room for more if we needed, a large bathroom). They had 2 free restaurants opened the entire week (one on the 8th floor (breakfast was a buffet everyday, lunch and dinner was sit down service (they had at least 4 choices for the main course every day)....il was excellent) and the other one was the buffet for every meals on the 9 th floor (almost the same food as the other restaurant except as buffet) it was excellent too..) and 1 restaurant with a cover charge. They had at least 6 bars throughout the ship with a very good service. One the ship there is a small pool which was almost never used and a whirlpool at the back of the ship. The service by all employees was really excellent and always with a smile, they always try to help in the way they can. All excursions were very well organized. The shows were all excellent with singers and dancers every night (production shows) +++ live music to listen with two duos in different bars. We did not know what to expect from that cruise and it was excellent and we had more than expected. Ther is no luxury on that ship but they have everything with an excellent service, excellent food, etc...... Cienfuegos: Very nice town and we took a ship excursion tour to the botanical garden, tour around the town, tour to a palace with a drink and a local show. The guides were excellent with a very good knowledge (they always had an answer to any questions the were asked)...it was worth the money spent for that. Island of the youth: We had to take a tender but was very well organized. It's a very pretty beach for walk, swim or sunbath with a lot of chairs available. Havana: Very very nice town and we walked around the old town, took a drink on a terrace near the port. Went shopping in a big craft market. Bargain for a city tour on a carriage ride (they ask for 20 CUC/person and finally we had it at 5CUC/person). Antilla: We had to take a tender but was very well organized. We took a ship excursion tour for the cuba life of before and now (we went at the place where Christopher Columbus arrived, had a show by native indians the way it was before, went to a craft market and a beautifull beach at Guardavalaca). The guides were excellent with a very good knowledge (they always had an answer to any questions the were asked)...it was worth the money spent for that. Santiago de Cuba: Very nice town and we took a ship excursion tour called Santiago special and it was excellent. The guides were excellent with a very good knowledge (they always had an answer to any questions the were asked)...it was worth the money spent for that.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Well just got back from a wonderful cruise on the Century and i am so glad I didn't pay too much attention to the negative critics because we had an absolute ball. The embarkation went quikly and smoothly with a warm and friendly ... Read More
Well just got back from a wonderful cruise on the Century and i am so glad I didn't pay too much attention to the negative critics because we had an absolute ball. The embarkation went quikly and smoothly with a warm and friendly welcome both on land (Sydney) and on Ship with a refreshing drink. The crew cannot be faulted in any way always there and ready to attend to all our needs. Food to die for fresh and must go to grand restaurant you will feel like a king/queen. Our cabin was an inside quad (two bunks and a double, just ask for the two beds to be joined) on deck 8 midship (room 8067), perfect location close to restaurants, theatre and other lounges, we never heard a sound and slept like babies. The house band rocks as all entertainers.. the pool area is kept clean and there is always a spot in the sun or shade without having to fight for it. The port stops (Neumea, Mystery Island, Suva, Loutoka and Isle of Pines) were great the weather only turned on one stop but still managed to get off for a wonder, Neumea is not that exciting on sundays and holiday everything shuts. We never book excursions with the cruise as it is dear and there are local tours as soon as you get off the ship you can bargain for and are the same exoerience. The islands do take AUD but bring small change for Isle of Pines, Fiji and Mystery Island as they tend to not always have change. Celebrity only deals in USD so be prepared .. they do take AUD but when you cash in your credit at the end of the cruise (if dealing with cash) you might be left with a couple of USD in your poket. Teens club was great, my teen boys had a ball and have made great friendships.... All in all the best cruise we have been on and all thanks to the high standard of service and friendliness of crew. Thank you Century Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Background We cruise often, and usually during the holidays. We're all 3-star HAL Mariners, even our 9 year old. We're in our 40's; husband's parents in their 60's. We've also cruised Celebrity 3 times, and ... Read More
Background We cruise often, and usually during the holidays. We're all 3-star HAL Mariners, even our 9 year old. We're in our 40's; husband's parents in their 60's. We've also cruised Celebrity 3 times, and Princess 3 times (in-laws have cruised Princess 5-6 times) and RCCL a few times as well. But most of our cruising is with Holland America. We prefer mid-size/smaller ships. We booked this cruise VERY last minute, directly with HAL, therefore we were wait-listed for everything: dining, upgrades and even getting a cabin on the ship in the first place. We ended up with a Cat. B Vista Suite and my in-laws got the smaller Cat VQ Spa Verandah, both on Deck 9, Verandah Deck. (I will be making a lot of comparisons to Princess in the review because we have cruised most recently with Princess. We were considering switching from HAL to Princess as our preferred cruise line after we had a disappointing experience with HAL, not with an actual cruise, but with how a future cruise deposit was mishandled by the corporate office. HAL eventually made us whole on the issue, and we weren't completely swept off our feet with our Princess experiences, therefore we'll cruise either line now depending on price & itinerary) Embarkation and disembarkation in San Diego was easy, quick and efficient. We live in Los Angeles, and we drove down on the morning of embarkation, parked (pre-paid parking online) at the Wyndham (formerly a Holiday Inn) across the street from terminal for $65 for the entire week. My in-laws had flown in from Canada a day or so earlier and had stayed at that same hotel. They were very pleased with their room there. I think we were on the ship by 11am, well in time for the Mariner's Welcome Lunch in the dining room. The Ship This is our 2nd time on the Veendam. We did a Bermuda cruise on this ship, summer 2010. We really enjoyed that cruise, and thought the ship was in good shape then, but they've spiffed up the soft goods (carpet, upholstery, window treatments, etc.) even since that cruise. They also improved the one thing we didn't like about the ship in 2010 -- that silly "retreat" thing. Remember when HAL had that really bad, and thankfully short-lived idea to replace all of the aft pools with that retreat concept? Which was basically some loungers standing in 3 inches of water and some other poorly executed water features? I think they were trying to compete with RCCL's H20 zone, and HAL really missed the mark on that one. Anyway, it is still called "the retreat" on the Veendam but it is now two large hot-tubs and two plunge pools. We'd still prefer another pool, but this is much, much better than their first retreat concept. At first, I thought I was confusing the Veendam with another ship, but I pulled up our Bermuda cruise pix on my Flickr account, and sure enough, the Veendam aft "retreat" in summer 2010 looked entirely different, even the tiling is a different color. The outdoor teen Oasis area above the kids club appeared to be closed for the entire cruise. We have a tween, therefore this really didn't affect us, but if she were a teen, she would have been really disappointed. She has cruised HAL many times, and is really looking forward to the day she is able to use the Oasis. Our cabins were forward, but I noticed a slight sewer smell on the stateroom decks towards the rear of the ship. They placed long auxiliary dining tables perpendicular to one side of the pool on embarkation day; we've seen that before but usually it's temporary for embarkation dining or later on in the cruise for a BBQ. But they remained there for the entire cruise, and that not only displaced loungers by the ship's only real pool, but it also compromised the ambiance of the pool area. But the ship was in amazing shape, especially for an 18 year old ship! Cabins We had B123, which is a Vista Suite forward. Our cabin was almost perfect, except that it was rather creaky while sailing. That was the ONLY thing in the entire cruise that revealed the ship's age. The first night was really noisy and kept us awake. But then we either got used to it, or it wasn't as noisy later on in the cruise. The cabin was spotless, and the carpet and other soft goods in the room looked brand new. Our steward was very pleasant and took good care of us. Plenty of room and storage for the three of us. Although my daughter, who has slept in many cruise ship sofa beds, said this sofa bed was the most uncomfortable one. We really like the verandahs on HAL much better than Princess. HAL's teak flooring looks more upscale than the blue rubber matting on Princess. But what really makes a difference is that HAL's decks are far more private than what we have experienced on Princess. My in-laws had the smaller VQ Spa Verandah, room 106. They had a recurring problem with brown water coming out of the sink, shower and tub. This happened several times throughout the cruise, and they never seemed to get it fixed. We had smokers next to us who smoked on their verandah often, as they are allowed to do on HAL. In theory, smoking in not allowed on Princess verandahs, but they do it anyway. Dining The food in general was better than we have experienced on our most recent HAL cruises. We try to take as many meals as possible in the dining room, including breakfast lunch. We like set dining, late, but since we booked the cruise last minute, we got "any time" dining, which we do not like at all. At the Mariner's Welcome lunch on embarkation day, my mother-in-law asked the maitre d' about providing us with a standing reservation at the same table around 8pm, but he said he couldn't do it. Later on, I happened to stumble upon Fauzi, who was at the pool and taking dinner reservations. I really think Fauzi made this cruise for us and restored our faith and loyalty in HAL. I explained to him that we liked traditional, set dining, with the same table and waiters every night, and this was very important to our family's overall cruise experience. And he made it happen! (With the exception of one night, which was partly our fault because we were late) He was also our waiter, along with his assistant Yo and Madonna the sommelier, and those three really made this cruise for us. We enjoyed everything we ate in the dining room. It's not Michelin star-rated cuisine, but it is really good. Also, we did have a few meals in the Lido, and the pastas were the best and the sushi isn't bad for a cruise ship. We had one lunch in the Pinnacle, and it was very good. I had the crab cakes. Children's Activities Our 9 year old daughter went to the Kids Club every night and enjoyed it very much. She is a seasoned cruiser, and gives Princess a slight edge on Kids Club, but she really enjoyed the activities on the Veendam. This was her first HAL cruise in the tweens program. Also, HAL had no children's books in the library (Princess has a nice selection of books for young readers.) We were told that the kids books were in the Kids Club, but my daughter said it was baby books and Harry Potter and nothing else. Not a big deal; we'll just remember to bring more books for her on our next cruise. We're an interfaith family, and we appreciated that HAL had both Christmas and Hanukkah services/activities onboard. We even had a Rabbi to lead services. Santa visited the Showroom on Xmas Day. As I mentioned previously, the teen outdoor Oasis was closed for the entire cruise, but they did have their indoor Loft space. Entertainment Overall, very good entertainment on this ship. There were more actual vocalists in the cast than I was expecting for a ship this small. The first night was a short show that gave us a preview of all of the entertainment around the ship. Second night was the Bob Mackie Broadway tribute which we've seen on other HAL ships, but it holds up. Third night was a magician that was just OK. One night was there was a show called (I think) Encore, which primarily features just two of the vocalists and it was AMAZING. We usually had our pre-dinner cocktails in the Ocean Bar or Explorer's Lounge around 7:45pm, and it seemed that our timing was bad as the entertainers always went on dinner break shortly after we arrived. However, what we did hear in the Ocean Bar was good and the Adagio (classical violin and piano) duo on the Explorer's Lounge was exceptional. Ports This was our 3rd Mexican Riviera cruise, and I have been reluctant to get off the ship (except in Cabo) because of all of the reports of incidents with cruise passengers in the other Mexican ports. My husband doesn't share my feelings and always gets off the ship and usually schedules his own private surfing or diving excursions. This year, I vowed to my family that I would make an effort to get off at every port. We did our usual in Cabo: Tender into the marina, then take a water taxi over to Mendano Beach, walk down the beach past the loud party spots and post up in front of the Pueblo Bonita resort. It's just a day at the beach, and that's fine with us. Mazatlan was a delightful surprise. There's a huge ex-pat (Americans, Canadians) community there who have organized as a volunteer group with the goal of making cruisers and other tourists feel welcome, informed and safe. They greet the cruise ships passengers with maps and are available to answer questions. We walked from the ship to the town center that was very charming, and then walked out to the beach area where the cliff divers are. In Puerto Vallarta, my husband went surfing and my daughter, my in-laws and I took a taxi into town. We walked around, went into a few shops and also visited the Cathedral. We ended up at a restaurant (The Blue Shrimp) on the Playa de Los Muertos for some beers, snacks and wi-fi. I feel a lot better about ports in Mexico now, and I'm also inspired to brush up on my Spanish. Service I think service, in general, was better on this ship than our most recent HAL cruises. However, if you needed anything, you have to go to the front desk where there was never a line and everything was dealt with efficiently and satisfactorily. But they never, ever answered the phone extension # that is for service or questions. Spa I purchased the thermal chair package for my husband and me ($149) during open house on embarkation day. Because there are only 5 chairs, and the ship was completely sold out, I was skeptical about being able to actually use them. The spa manager assured me that I wouldn't have any problems with availability since they sold only 20 "passes" per cruise. Technically that may be true, but you also have to account for the people who are having spa services done at any given time as they have access to the thermal chair suite and there are other types of packages that include access. And then there are those tacky passengers who buy one pass but then let their entire family in and camp out there for hours on end. The first time I tried to use the thermal chairs, the suite was packed. A family of 4, who were very open about the fact that they were sharing just one pass between them, was reserving all of the chairs, even if one of them went into the steam room for 20 minutes or so. HAL cannot prevent this behavior, of course, but they need to better about policing it. One of the steam rooms wasn't working. And the water jets in the hot tub NEVER worked for the entire cruise. When I asked, I was told it was just a hot tub, not a Jacuzzi. So why did it have the water jets? To be fair, every time my husband went, he had no problem getting a chair and I was also able to get a chair on subsequent visits, and the steam room was eventually repaired. My husband went every day and I went 3-4 times. I got a massage that was very good. Meant to go back for the hot stone massage but never got around to it. In summary, the spa is lovely and has a lot to offer but was understaffed. They needed more than one person on the front desk, checking people in, booking appts, etc. And they need to have some one checking in on the thermal suite to make sure everyone is in compliance with the rules. Odds/Ends I have been on nearly 20 cruises and never gotten seasick until this cruise. The weather wasn't bad (have sailed much rougher waters) but I got a mild case of nausea on our last (at sea) day. My mother-in-law, who is prone to seasickness, was violently ill for the last 30-36 hours SOLID of the cruise. Not sure why. Our cabins were pretty far forward, and we usually try to get aft or mid-ship. Not sure if that had anything to do with it. But it was definitely seasickness, as opposed to something viral, because we all felt better when we reached San Diego. Very limited on board duty free shopping in terms of cosmetics and fragrance but costume jewelry for days! Never a line at the Explorations Cafe for coffee, but it was more expensive than Princess' International Cafe, even with my 3-star Mariner discount. BE CAREFUL when signing up for the internet package. It's easy to accidentally sign up for a $250 plan when you didn't really mean to. They took it off of our bill and said that it happens a lot since they've switched platforms. I was impressed with the depth of the cruise director's staff for such a small ship. The Veendam has a full time librarian, a future cruise consultant, a port shopping expert, a port/location expert and others. And they always seemed to be available. And make sure you don't get the ship's little blue fabric laundry bag mixed up in your things and accidentally bring it home with you because they will charge you $15 just like it says on the bag. Believe me, a used dirty laundry bag from a cruise ship was not an intentional souvenir on our part! The captain was approachable and very visible. Summary We cruise often and none of these minor shortcomings I mentioned here had a significant impact on our overall enjoyment of the cruise. The crew on this ship really had it together both in service and operations. Ran like a top. It was a lovely cruise, and we're definitely keeping HAL in our future cruising options.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My Background: Over 30+ cruises - All major lines. Positive about the industry. A bad day on the ship is better than a good day at work. Cruising is the way to travel on a budget! Pre-Cruise: Charleston is a wonderful City to embark ... Read More
My Background: Over 30+ cruises - All major lines. Positive about the industry. A bad day on the ship is better than a good day at work. Cruising is the way to travel on a budget! Pre-Cruise: Charleston is a wonderful City to embark from. Charleston has a wonderful southern flare that can be a vacation all its own. Several wonderful restaurants encompass this beautiful historic city. We really enjoy the Charleston Crab House. Our favorite location is on Jamestown. Carriage rides, souvenirs, ghost walks, and historic sites are great ideas for your stay. If you stay downtown, you will have access to even more things to do. There are several hotels and bed & breakfasts to stay at in town. I highly recommend Vendue Inn. This is an elegant place to stay that is right on the park and battery. If you want to stay at a chain hotel that is relatively close, I recommend the marina view of Marriott's Courtyard Harbor. It's about a 10 minute drive to the port. Embarkation: Charleston is an interesting port. Many of the people that live in town are opposing the ports existence. Even thought the port has been there from the 1600's, they feel threatened by the footprint they believe the ship leaves. Due to current restrictions, they generally allow one ship at a time. The Carnival Fantasy is allowed to be here year round. I am not sure where the local governments stand right now with adding more to this port. Keeping this in mind, the port feels very retrofitted for the task at hand. I have left out of this port previously on the Carnival Victory. I knew what to expect. It has improved some over the past 11 plus years the port has been used for cruise ships. It still has a long way to go to be considered a great embarkation port for this reason. You will be asked to show up after 12:30 noon. While they will allow you to line your cars up outside of the port, you will not be allowed to go in. They will allow you to drop your bags off early, but you can not park. I definitely recommend that you do not show up early. Enjoy the town during this time. If you are parking, they will ask you to pay for the parking up front. The cost for parking was $119.00 if I remember right (7 night). If you have someone in your party that is handicapped, they will not charge you parking. This happened with another couple in our party that needed extra assistance. You will park your car in a covered warehouse. It is actually one of the safer feeling places I have parked. You will need your cruise information during this process of dropping off your luggage and heading to the lot. After you park your car, you will to a quickly moving line that will load you on a bus. The bus will take you directly to the cruise terminal. Once you enter the terminal, you will complete your check-in and get your cruise cards. One thing we noticed is that we were able to get to our rooms right away. Our luggage was delivered quickly since we were considered priority with our Platinum status and mini-suite room selection. The staff at the port was very nice. We were able to get on the ship with ease. Elevators were available. The Ship: The ship is one of the "fun ships" that Carnival has become famous for. The Fantasy is a 70 thousand ton "tion" ship. It is a money ship for Carnival. It has been improved over the years. They have not completed the 2.0 enhancements, nor have they added a steakhouse. The ship is well built, and per the customer service staff, they expect it to go back into dry dock in the future for more upgrades. There are no expectations at this time for the ship to be sold. The common areas are silver, blue, and neon. The old flash of the Carnival's past is evident around the ship. Accents have been made to give it some modern feel. You can see this most on the pool deck and in the staterooms. These areas have been improved over the years. The extra added balconies that you see on some of the other funships, such as Imagination, are not present. The ship is freshly painted. The wear has been covered some which makes the ship feel newer than it is. The dining rooms have the low ceilings that you do not see anymore. Both dining rooms are one story. The theater is flatter than the newer ships which causes more seating to have restricted viewing. If there is a particular show you want to see, be sure to get there about 20-30 minutes early to get a better viewing seat. The pools seem to be maintained and actually the pick-up service seemed to have the ship under close control. This is something that all cruise lines seem to have a challenge with. Very few times did I see plates stacked or drinks just sitting around for a long time. The piano bar, game room, and club rooms are really nice. The only room that could use a little update on decor is the back room where the comedy shows take place. I would like to see it look more like a comedy club basement look. Still, the ship is well maintained and looks good. Staterooms: I can only speak for the V-17 balcony that we had on level 11. The room was very nice for a balcony. The actually balcony matches the width of the standard balconies, but is very narrow in depth. It is only about three feet from the door to the railing. It sits high up above the rest of the ship. The four balconies on either side towards the center of the ship have obstructions due to life boats. V-15,17,19 all had good views with little obstruction at all. A bonus, these rooms have a lot of privacy since they are in their own little area. Very little hall noise! Nothing above or below to distract you. The Grand Suites in the middle of the ship are HUGE! My mother and father and law stayed in those during a previous cruise. The noise is much higher, the view is lower to the water, but the rooms are great! Back to V-17... The flat screen TV's are fine, plenty of storage, great lighting, and decent size showers. As most know, Carnival's rooms are generally bigger than matching categories on other lines. Dining: Dining options are more limited in regards to places to grab a bite, but they seem to be more available to serve throughout the day. Room Service is very fast! Pizza 24/7. Nice deli on the back of the ship in the lido deck. The Lido offers different choices each day. The place is kept up well. I love the seating off the back sides. Wonderful place to eat. There are two TV's in the lido deck that were popular during the college bowl games. The bar service is great unless we are in port. Since many of the staff may have leave, you may have to hunt down a few. I recommend that you tip on-top of the automatic 15% gratuity. 1$ per order will go a long way. They will remember your name and be there for you more. Remember, all Lido food on all ships have pluses and minuses. You can find something you like. If you do not like the lido deck food, then you may want to eat in the dining room for breakfast or lunch. Breakfast in the dining room is the only way to go - it is the best. Great service and the food tastes even better. Alright folks.... this "anytime dining" is really getting the raw deal. I always recommend eating at a set time each night. Early or late... The anytime dining is a huge line that means you have to wait. You can do that at home. A little secret. If you want a specific time, talk to the Matre'd. See if he/she can set up a time for you and your family that works each night. They can even have the same waiters for you if you want. This way you get a time you want, and you do not have to wait in line. Stick with the set early or late times, and you will not have a problem. If you like something at dinner - brag on it. They love this. If you do not like something - nicely tell them that you did not like it. This helps them out a lot! A steak comes out overcooked, tell them... give them a chance to make it right. The dining room staff take their craft seriously. They work very hard to get these positions. A shout out to Assistant Waiter Puthut and Team Waiter Maryna at table 370. Excellent team. The Matre'd helped us on the first night by getting us a better seat with them. They were magnificent. They really cared about the customer! They went the extra mile! The meals were excellent. Will you like everything? No! Try other things then! Don't just say the food is bad. Tell them what you like and you will be surprised. I am a picky eater, and they did wonderful! I actually like Carnival main dining over RCCL, Disney, and Celebrity. They need a steakhouse like they have on all of the 90k ton ships+. I am sure they are working on that. You can order specialty steaks/lobster for $20.00 currently on the Fantasy. They also need a Guys hamburgers. Entertainment: Carnival has always had a strong schedule for ship entertainment. They currently have a cast of 8 men and women who not only dance, but can ALL sting. They did not have a live orchestra. They are singing the program shows such as "Motown" and "The Brits." I have seen these shows on different stages. The Fantasy staff performs their shows really well. They have some very strong singers! The magician and George Lopez comedy club comedians are always packed and fun! I have seen these comedians before. The adult shows can go over the top some. Just because you can say cuss words does not mean the whole show needs to have them. A few perfectly time cuss words can make the impact that audiences are looking for. RCCL and Carnival have the entertainment part covered. Great piano bars and live music around the ship. Again, not stage band for the productions shows on this ship. Itinerary: Day 1 - Leave out - Safety drill is a little longer than some ships. Some of the groups need to be walked to their assigned life boats. This is due to recent changes and the design of the boat. 20-30 minute process. A little long, but not a big deal. Always much better than wearing the life jackets like we used to about 5+ years ago. Day 2 - Sea Day - go to the Spa - sleep late - hangout on the Serenity deck on the back below the lido. Day 3 - Sea Day - repeat Day 4 - Grand Turk - Yes, they have excursions... but why waste the money. Go to Margaritaville right at the docked port. Have some food and drinks and swim in their huge pool. Have fun with the great DJ there. If you want to swim in the ocean, it is right there at the port. Take a Taxi to the even nicer beach on this very small island. Day 5 - Half Moon Key - Hard to beat when cruise companies have their own private island. Beautiful beach, music, and fun awaits. The food is included. Drinks are not... not part of beverage plan either. You actually pay a round a dollar more for drinks. The food is free though. The only real downside, you have to tender. The use the big boats that lows up to 250, so the process is actually pretty smooth. Great stop as always. You can rent water equipment at the beach. They do have excursions here.... but why? The horseback riding did look pretty cool though. Day 6 - Nassau - Here is where I recommend taking a nice excursion. I also recommend you shopping here. They have added a VAT "Value Added Tax" starting this year. This does not apply to watches and jewelry. The stores may require you to pay a small refund fee for the VAT, but they have ways to negotiate with you on that. Reduce the price by the few dollars it costs. We love Venetian Jewelers on Nassau. Vince, the manager there is always great with us. Hard rock and other restaurants have free wifi. The ship wifi has not received the upgrade yet... it is slow. Go to a restaurant that is not that crowded, and you will have the faster connections. They will give you their password if you are eating or drinking. Atlantis is nice, but very expensive. If you been to Vegas, the resort will be a letdown. The beach is nice, but there are better ones you can see outside of Atlantis. Day 7 - Sea Day - do your thing! Pack Day 8 - Debarkation This is the area of biggest improvement for me. This was so awesome. The self assist platinum folks meet in the Piano Bar. At 7:20 ish. They will pick you up and hold elevators just for you to go down to the proper floor - 3. You will disembark , got through customs, and take your backs to the truck that will load your luggage and take you to the garage where you parked your car. I dreaded this process, but they have it down. Minimum wait. The driver was very friendly. To get out is very easy. I expect that the other folks leaving may experience some of the same. They will not allow you to roll your bags from the ship to your car like we used to. Again, the process went very well for us. In Conclusion: I really enjoyed this relaxing cruise. That is what we wanted. We had set our expectations appropriately which created some pleasant surprise moments. Veterans of cruising that are positive will find this ship to be nice. High expectation folks who have never cruised or have not been on Carnival may not be 100%. New cruisers reactions may differ depending on their expectations and the people they are with. Generally, most will take this vacation to be something very nice. New cruisers - this is an older ship - you will feel some movement that you may not feel on larger ships. Take a non-drowsy Dramamine, patch, or wristband, and you will be fine. It is very light. I heard very little concerns about this from the different first time cruisers we talked with. Don't let seasickness fears ever be an excuse from having fun. If Charleston is your call, then go for it!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This is the first time we have sailed RCCL. This was my 12th cruise and over the past 22 years I have sailed on NCL, Princess and Carnival. The ship is elegantly designed, beautiful and amazing! It never felt crowded to us (wife, 17 yr. ... Read More
This is the first time we have sailed RCCL. This was my 12th cruise and over the past 22 years I have sailed on NCL, Princess and Carnival. The ship is elegantly designed, beautiful and amazing! It never felt crowded to us (wife, 17 yr. old daughter and 14 year old son) and we found the entire ship very easy to navigate. Our fellow cruisers were very friendly and well-dressed. We met lots of friendly people and always got a warm welcome throughout the ship. While we did hear stories of displeasure with the ship’s IT, dynamic dining, etc., overall most were really upbeat during this New Year’s holiday sailing. Boarding – we arrived to the port at 10:15 a.m. and I dropped off our luggage curb side, parked the car, checked in and we were on the ship by 11:30 a.m. Our boarding was delayed because they were only allowing “special” Royal Caribbean’s most elite passenger classes to board first (i.e. Diamond, Crown, Gold). It was very apparent that this ship still has some “new ship” kinks that are being addressed, modified and improved on a daily basis. The very first thing we did after boarding was to schedule our 1-minute complimentary RipCord flying experience. However, it took over one hour for the two families ahead of us to successfully book their reservations with the RipCord attendant because none of their tablets were functioning properly. We were soooo glad that we booked RipCord when we did because by the end of Day 2 they were completely booked solid to the end of the cruise. You should definitely try your best to book RipCord in advance of your cruise – this is definitely a fun “bucket list” activity to do and it is very safe. We were pleasantly surprised that our luggage arrived to our staterooms by 1:00 p.m. Cabins – We had two adjoining large interior virtual balcony rooms (11275 & 11277), which provided ample amounts of storage and lighting options. The virtual balcony was working as designed and provided high definition real time exterior images, including beautiful sunsets. The bathroom is even equipped with an automatic night light when the main bathroom light is turned off. We were also impressed with the clear glass curved shower door and the never ending supply of very hot water to ensure a pleasurable shower experience. We slept very well on the comfortable beds and the large flat screen TV in front of the bed was the icing on the cake. After reading other member reviews, we brought extra credit cards to leave behind in the interior slot near the cabin entrance door so that the air conditioning system in the cabin would remain on when we leave. This enabled the room to maintain the desired temperature instead of waiting a while to cool down the room. Dynamic Dining - After reading many negative Cruise Critic member reviews prior to our cruise, we thought we were not going to have a great Dynamic Dining experience. We happened to have been lucky and we enjoyed it. We did not have any issues with any of the reservations we made before boarding or making new ones after boarding. On the morning of Day 2, passengers were given the opportunity to change their dining room reservations. As such, we changed our reservations for three different nights by simply speaking with a restaurant representative at the entrance to any of the complimentary restaurants. Chic was hands down our favorite of the complimentary restaurants and Jamie’s Italian was definitely worth the $25pp fee for dinner and $15pp fee for their “first come – first served” lunch option. We found the overall quality of the food to be just cruise industry average in the complimentary restaurants and a few of our waiters/waitresses stood out as being more superior and attentive compared to the others (Lenuta in The Grande and Vishaw in Chic). The freshly baked cookies in the Windjammer were out of this world, but overall we found the desserts not to be very appetizing. We preferred to eat most of our lunches in the Two70 lounge, where they serve the “got to have” delicious hot roast beef sandwiches as well as an assortment of salads, sandwiches, wraps, panini’s and desserts. We also found the seating choices, atmosphere and views in the Two70 lounge to be more relaxing and pleasing compared to the other lunch venues. Nightlife – We found an abundance of top notch “live” musicians, bands and DJs on a nightly basis. The Daily Planner provides a long list of music and dancing venues to choose from throughout the day and night, with at least five venues to choose from commencing after 10:00 p.m. and ending “late”. Our favorite band was the calypso band, Hot Spices, which we enjoyed their performances throughout the cruise at pool side, Two70 lounge, Boleros and on the island of Coco Cay. We also enjoyed listening to the U2 Tribute Band – L.A. Vation as well as watching the hilarious show - Love and Marriage Game Show. We spent most nights in either the Music Hall or Two270 dancing the night away. The variety and quality of the music was great. We never went to back to our stateroom before 12:30 a.m. on any night, as we immensely enjoyed the nightlife provided. Shows – Mamma Mia!, Starwater and Sonic Odyssey completely exceeded our expectations and all are MUST SEE performances. Additionally, don’t miss the extreme juggling act, The Passing Zone, as it was extremely funny and entertaining. Comedian Jessica Kirson was so hilariously captivating that I can’t recall when the last time I had laughed so uncontrollably long and hard. We saw Mamma Mia! twice on Broadway and found this production to be just as entertaining. You should note that this is the full 2½-hour Broadway show production. It is the unabridged performance utilizing the identical costumes, sets and music score as the original Broadway version. Starwater is a wonderful blend of technology and live performers. However, it lacks an identifiable theme or purpose other than to WOW you with great singers and musicians performing while suspended in mid-air, acrobatic performers emerging from the ceiling and floors and providing high-tech back drops and unique special effects. We were very fortunate to see William Close (creator/producer/performer) perform on his Earth Harp in Sonic Odyssey, as he informed us that he will be leaving the show in two weeks to work on his Super Bowl appearance and he will be replaced with a comparable performer. The Royal Caribbean singers and dancers were simply incredible! I suggest that you arrive at least 20 minutes prior to all show times, as the good seats always fill up very fast and one designated family member always arrives earlier to save/hold seats for their entire party. New Year’s Eve Celebration - this was “the” New Year’s Eve to always remember and it will be very hard to top it when comparing entertainment options, partying atmosphere, fun and excitement. Passengers were provided with a long list of partying options that included a Family Glow party in the Sea Plex, a Times Square Pool Deck Dance Party with CNN’s global countdown broadcasting LIVE from the Quantum of the Seas with Cathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper, a Reggae Caribbean band playing in Boleros and the big band sounds from the Quantum of the Seas 10-piece orchestra in the Music Hall. There were balloon drops all of the ship and everyone was in a partying mode throughout the early morning hours. Activities - we enjoyed lots of the other activities such as working out in the Vitality Fitness center every day, driving bumper cars, playing air hockey and foosball, taking a ride in North Star, rock climbing, surfing and boogie boarding on the Flowrider and relaxing in the hot tubs. There was always something to do and many activities to choose from. Service - In general, we had hardly any complaints with the personal service from any cruise staff member that we interacted with. Service was friendly and professional; we never encountered a rude or unhelpful person. All were smiling and accommodating. Our stateroom attendant, Mary Joy, was exceptionally pleasant, friendly and was very visible throughout our cruise. The only issue we experienced had to do with the shore excursion contractor at Cape Canaveral, where hundreds of cruise passengers had to wait over 45 minutes just to take a bus back to the ship. This delay caused tempers to flare as several passengers were about to miss their dining and entertainment reservations. The worst part was the lack of communication from the transportation employees in providing the status of the delays and there wasn’t a “supervisor” or responsible person to voice our concerns with at Cape Canaveral; no one seemed to be IN CHARGE. Disembarkation - we opted to participate in the self-assist program, where you leave your luggage in your room on the last night and then walk off the ship with your luggage in tow the next morning without any crew assistance. We finished breakfast at 8:30 a.m. in the Windjammer, went back to the room to pick up our luggage, took the elevator to the 5th floor and just walked off the ship around 9:00 a.m. Once off the ship we flew through customs and headed to the parking to get our car. The process was effortless. The positives definitely far exceeded our negatives on this cruise, as the negatives were just minor hiccups that we quickly got over and accepted. We had an awesome cruise on board a very advanced, state-of-the art, high-tech ship. Overall we had an amazing cruise and would have no hesitations to book on the Quantum Class again.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
It was my first time cruising with family, son, daughter-in-law, granddaughter 16 and grandson 10. Having cruises previously with different cruise lines, it was my first time with MSC and they did not disappoint. From the moment the music ... Read More
It was my first time cruising with family, son, daughter-in-law, granddaughter 16 and grandson 10. Having cruises previously with different cruise lines, it was my first time with MSC and they did not disappoint. From the moment the music started in Bar Duomo each night, I was danced off my feet by the wonderful entertainment team. Can't wait to get back on board!!! The ship was beautifully decorated for Christmas with Festive music playing in the background. The staff without exception, were wonderful and friendly. I didn't see a sad or lonely face at any time. Embarkation was very smooth and we were on board within 10 minutes. Bags were delivered within the hour. My cabin was a balcony cabin which was really adequate for only 1 person, and the balcony was on the small size. There was plenty of storage space and my bag slipped under the bed quite easily. The bathroom was small but everything worked and I had plenty of hot water at all hours, with good pressure in the shower. I was glad to see that I had a shower enclosure instead of the dreaded curtain! The bed was just as comfortable as my own, with pristine white linen and the whole place was clinically clean. There were plenty of sun beds on the upper decks and in the adult areas. The only fault that I found was in the Marco Polo dining room. The food let the ship down! It was beautifully presented by wonderful waiters, but left a lot to be desired. However, in the buffet there was plenty variety and I was never hungry. I purchased the drinks package and gave that a good rattling!!! However, I did come off the ship 3lbs lighter. My teenage granddaughter joined the teens club and made some nice friends, with whom she had a blast, and the grandson was like a little gentleman, strolling around, using his card!!! At night the entertainment was varied and good, with a few different little bands playing in different bars and venues. We didn't take any of the shore excursions as we had holidayed on each of the islands, but did get off in Funchal which was magical, and went to Church on Christmas day in La Palma. Disembarkation was in turmoil, I got separated from the others, with the result that they were waiting on the pier for over an hour, while I hunted throughout the ship for them. Eventually a phone call or two by one of those lovely young Italian gentlemen and all was sorted!! All in all, it was a fabulous cruise and I can't wait to get on board again! A Beautiful ship with a wonderful crews. Thank you all. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We chose to spend our Christmas on msc Armonia, and we had a wonderful week. First let me point out the not so good aspects: the transfer and flight we had from Rome was very bad: time, transfer and flight itself with Meridiana from Rome ... Read More
We chose to spend our Christmas on msc Armonia, and we had a wonderful week. First let me point out the not so good aspects: the transfer and flight we had from Rome was very bad: time, transfer and flight itself with Meridiana from Rome were extremely unconfortable and ill planned. Also, the entertainment was below the average we have come to love on our cruises: of the evening shows, only the spanish dancers were superb. Apart from that, the cruise was perfect: great service at dinner (thanks Mohammed), our cabin was kept perfectly clean at all times, the ship facilities were always a pleasure to use: I particularly enjoyed the gym and the spa, both with a wonderful sea view. The itinerary is great, and we loved the night stop in Madeira, with plenty of time to visit the beautiful island both during the day and at night. I really cannot understand people complaining about the food and service: we beleive both are far better than NCL and Carnival, which we tried before. Every single crew member was friendly and helpful (by the way many many thanks to Giusy at the reception, if you read this, you were great!) The ship never felt crowded, and even if it's true that sometimes we felt some movement while at sea, we never found it terribly disturbing.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This year for Christmas my kids decided instead of gifts they would rather go on a cruise. So I booked one on the Triumph. We all had a great time, I am a single mom and it was a total blast, my son's ages are 11, 12, and 13 and there ... Read More
This year for Christmas my kids decided instead of gifts they would rather go on a cruise. So I booked one on the Triumph. We all had a great time, I am a single mom and it was a total blast, my son's ages are 11, 12, and 13 and there was plenty to keep them busy. The day we left it was cool but it was still a great time. They have the 3 pools, 5 hot tubs, and the water slide. One thing about the pools, they change the water daily with water from the ocean/sea, so they were pretty cold. There is a basketball court, mini golf, ping pong, plus the kids clubs where they can play games. They do have an arcade and that is a bit to be desired and they do have to use their Sail and Sea card to play in the arcade, plus the games are $1.10 and up. The food was fantastic, my middle son tried many new foods on this trip like alligator. The sea day brunch is a must do, they have things like funniest french toast where they dip the french toast in different cereal like frosted flakes, or fruit loops, and they also have mac and cheese mixed with bacon. The MDR was always good too, plus the dining staff gets to know you, our drinks were always on the table waiting for us when we got there. The lido buffet is a good option too if you don't want to go to MDR and I can't forget Guy's Burger Joint, they have amazing burgers. There was Blue Iguana's Cafe, the burritos were excellent there as well. There is also 24 hour pizza and soft serve ice cream and FROYO. We had a balcony room and it while it was small it was sufficient, the room was cleaned once in the morning and then again in the evening. They will also bring you clean beach towels, which they do provide. If you choose to take them off the ship with you though make sure you bring them back because they are $22 a towel. For our excursions the first one we did an excursion that was not through Carnival, but it was an all-inclusive beach/resort excursion in Progreso and it was a great day. The water was super cold, but still a nice day. Although we had to take a shuttle away from the terminal off the pier meet up with our tour guide, and when our excursion was over the bus took us back to that point and we had to take the shuttle back to the pier again. Just a small annoyance, nothing major though. Progreso seemed like a very poor town to me, but next time if we go to Progreso I think we will do the Mayan ruins. The next day we did an excursion through the cruise line we did the family friendly all- inclusive Pasion Isla, it was amazing. It was another beach, food, and drink package. They had water trampolines for the kids to play on, they had hammocks in the water, they had hammocks that weren't in the water, they had volleyball, soccer in the sand, kayaks, water bikes (had to rent theses). It was an gorgeous day. We took a boat out to it, on the way back people were singing and dancing in the aisle. There was another option where you can take a twister roller coaster boat out to it too. Oh there is a ton of shopping right off the port in Puerta Maya. Our trip was amazing, it was our first cruise we had a blast. Oh and we did not have passports we used our birth certificates and it only took maybe 15 minutes to clear customs. Though we did self-assist to disembark (it means we took our own luggage off). Only down side that I can really think of are the pictures they take, the pictures are awesome but trying to find your pictures is a nightmare. I really wish they had a different way to find your pictures. We also purchased Faster to the Fun, well worth my money. Our room was ready when we boarded at 11:30, our luggage arrived about 12:30. If we had choose relaxed disembarkation we would have been Zone 2. It was awesome. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
The Ship: The ship is wonderful. The retrofit changed a few things, so i recommend you also try the Maasdam to get a feel for the smaller ships. The Atrium is wonderful and still all the decks and spaces are so wondrful. The artwork is ... Read More
The Ship: The ship is wonderful. The retrofit changed a few things, so i recommend you also try the Maasdam to get a feel for the smaller ships. The Atrium is wonderful and still all the decks and spaces are so wondrful. The artwork is also wonderful. They changed happy hour times, but that is okay, we still made a few of them. We danced in the crows nest late one night and had a blast. I recommend you check out the deck plans. We always to scour them before we sail. The crew:The crew was amazing. Arthur and Gabriel of the front desk! They need a raise. Cyn of the spa, she was great. Our room stewerts were also amazing. The Entertainment: The on location stuff by Kinoa was amazing. His knowledge , his humor, his open heart full of aloha was so refreshing. This guy is so informed, a true native that you simply cant stump him. Dont miss his presentations. I even took some of gradma's jewlery to him, and he knew all of the hawaiian origins. The show Airborn was hilarious and inspiring. the singing and costumes were really good. The movies were all latest realeases. They show them the next day on the TV or in the Gym, so we saw alot of them. There is so much going on, dont fall prey to sitting in a lounger all day. Walk the decks, go to the cooking presentations, take the galley tour, go the library and just do it. It is nice to see Officers and the Captain enjoying a show or two some times too. The Dining: Prior to this cruise we always booked late seating. This time, due to negative people at our table, we jumped ship and switched to open seating. We found others of like mind that love their surroundings and love cruising and are generally happy with themselves to be fun to hang out with and did what we would normally do with our tabelmates. We ate at Canaletto together, went offshore together and got time to have a bite and talk. The dining was wonderful. For an 18 night cruise food did not repeat itself and was always fabulous. The soups were killer and we got to meet the saucier or soup guy and tell him so. The dining staff on this ship is top notch and clearly they have fun at work. They laugh and joke with us and each other and one night after dinner (we usually shiut the dining room down) they were celebrating a coworkers birthday at the very end of the shift with a with a pie in the face and icewater on his head. we all laughed and clapped at this rare human moment from folks who work so very very hard. The Gym: There is a good deck on the gym floor in which to take pics as most do, but also give the gym a try. We wend there everyday. It is free and they have good equipement. Just bring headphones so that you can also catch that movie you missed the day before , because they have screens and plug ins. The Spa:This is limited to 20 couples on this size ship and is a must do with 12 sea days. I am expecially glad we did, as the mineral tub was so ralaxing with a sea view and the ceramic hot beds were our daily moment of zen. There are also showers, steam rooms, two of them, one cooler one hot. If you can possibly afford it, just do it, and you wont regret it. The pools and hot tubs: THE pool (only one) was refilled with nice warm water that just got colder and colder each sea day. Very motel 6 like. The hot tubs, never hot, the jets are on day and night no option to turn the jets off. The jets are just blasts of cold air the water bubbles six inches high. On the back deck at The Retreat , the wind takes the bubbling water to be shared by all on the deck, and in your face too. The rectangular hot tubs at the Retreat , when they were filled, which wasnt all the time, were oddly the hottest pools and hotter than the hot tubs. They also had motion and jets to them, but were simply hotter. they are shallow, but wonderful. They just simply dont travel well at sea, so they are netted and empty most of the time as most of the water sloshes out across the decks. poor planning. The Room: We booked a oceanview on the promenade deck next too an exit to our "veranda". Loved the fresh air that would blow in when doors on this deck would open and close with people going in and out. Stateroom 327, just steps away from the promanade, providing fresh air, a feeling like it was our own viranda at half the price of the lanai. close to elevators and the atrium, and the lovely atrium steps. The Excursions: We had these stops: Oahu, Maui, Kuai ,Kona and Hilo. On Oahu (this was our overnight stop) we got together with friends for dinner and drinks, but the next day we took the city bus to Hanauma Bay and went snrokeling. I recommend this very much. Clear warm waters and huge fish. We have been to Oahu before so, this was perfect for us. On Hilo we got a rental car and drove to Volcanoes National Park and spent a time there walking trails. On a prior cruise we took the crater hike and it was wonderful. This time we drove to key spots and then drove also to Akaka Falls. This is a very spectacular fall on a very very short walk. Do this is you are pressed for time and want to squeeze in one more side trip. It is worth it. on Kaui we took the Seafun Kauai Shore Snorkel excursion form the ship. This is the best trip! You start in a van with a very short ride to suit up in a short wet suit, which keeps you warm and bouyant enough, so that you dont need a vest as on other snorkel trips. Once at the shore, the guides help you get situated, so dont let the rocky shore worry you. If you are lucky you will get the guide named Paul. We have gotten him twice now. This guy lives in the ocean and knows it like the back of his hand. He always produces a good find. Last time it was a Nerf Shark and Turtles and too many fish to describe. He will even offer to dive with your camera and get a good pic for you. This time he found an Octopus and we took turns holding it with his guidance. He also points out everything so you want to follow him, and he is good at keeping you close if you stray. We saw eels, sea cucumbers, turtles and a million dish. The Octopus was the star this time. The Kona Sail & Snorkel was a Snorkel excursion form the ship. This was a tender port, so this wonderful sail snorkeling excurion starts with a short drive in a van to the Kaloko Honokohau Marina. Then you travel south by catamaran to a sheltered cove. This was a small and intimate catamaran. Good lunch and treats and beer if you want it. The fish were wonderful and we always see some species that we haven't seen before. This location had a beautiful view of a beach that only native hawaiians can go to, but it was also close to a nice drop off.The water is thirty feet deep where the boat ties off to an anchor point. The water is very clear visablity is 120 feet. Along the shore are blocks lava that are plentifull with marine life and unbelievable amounts of fish. This was one of the few locations that we saw schools of fish. This is not for first time snorkelers or weak swimmers. The guides are friendly and very knowledgable of this pristine spot. West Maui Snorkel Cruise snorkel excurion from the ship:This the second time we have taken this excursion and was just as great as the first time. The crew is fun and friendly, very helpful for first time snorkelers. The water is about 20 feet deep, coral heads rise off the bottom at least 15 feet. Marine life covers the coral heads that attract the fish and turtles. The water is very clear you can see for 60-80 feet, fish are very abundant swimming around the coral heads. This spot is south of the ship tender close to Olowala state reserve on shore the water is very calm.The sail back to port is mostly by motor, the crew tries to sail but the wind has other ideas, take lots of pictures going to and from this location. The good: We love cruising and love our surrounding both at home and on a ship. Not much can dampen our day. One sweet highlight was seeing a storm petral and an albatross on the water. The bad: People who think that they are royalty; one day a woman stuck her pronged cane in the elevator while it was closing. It clamped down on the end and she was stuck on the outside with the rest of her cane and i was stuck on the inside with the end of it. Naturally it shut down the elevators and i had to pry open the doors. It put the elvator out of commision for a day. This might work in a city, not so much on a cruise ship. The ugly: Buzz kill negative people who hate their surroundings should not cruise. This sucks the life out of those of us who do. If you run around and take bowls of cheese or all the almonds you are selfish. If you complain that the soup is cold when there is steam clearly rising from it, you are ignorant. Leave cruising to those of us who know how to do it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
The Breeze is a nice ship, this is my 16th cruise and 10th on Carnival so I am famaliar. You know what you are getting on Carnival and since we do pay lower prices, you have to expect some differences. Main changes I saw from the 3 cruises ... Read More
The Breeze is a nice ship, this is my 16th cruise and 10th on Carnival so I am famaliar. You know what you are getting on Carnival and since we do pay lower prices, you have to expect some differences. Main changes I saw from the 3 cruises I did last year overall from a Carnival standpoint are: - The cut back on wait staff in dining so it takes much longer. It's not the waiters fault, they can only do so much - Sure portions are smaller but that's good, if you like more, order more, you can order as many as you like - Bartenders at bars, not all that impressed, and cut back there too. We always find a guy, keep tipping and we always have good service! Sean from Philippines was great - Pictures - same but they need to do was RCL does with face recognition where you can order all at once and hire less photographers and more waiters - Matt was cruise director and he was FANTASTIC. Always approachable, fast on his feet and really funny! - Piano bar guy was GREAT! His voice would get raspy towards end of night but he was fun and bartenders there were great - Embark/Debark fast and easy - we were FTTF. Had a 10:15 plane and were sitting waiting at the gate 8:30! (we did self-embark) - Aruba stop was lonely as several stores were closed but it was Xmas (ships should stay at sea on holidays!) - Chair hogs always out, I'm one but I stay with my chair. Have to be up and out by 8AM. They did not remove towels - Only did 2 shows so not too much comment - Comedy was fine - Drank to hearts content but did not buy pass. With 4 port days, we would have overspent. Trust me we drank a lot ($1K) but not enough to cover buying it for 3 even 4 adults. Had a great trip, met great people and hope to keep in touch with them too!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Our family had a great cruise on the Jewel. We were traveling in a group of fifteen, so we were a large group. Embarkation was fairly easy. Once we got on the ship, our staterooms were already open which was a nice surprise as that was not ... Read More
Our family had a great cruise on the Jewel. We were traveling in a group of fifteen, so we were a large group. Embarkation was fairly easy. Once we got on the ship, our staterooms were already open which was a nice surprise as that was not the case on our previous NCL cruise. Dining: First off, the buffet area exceeded expectations. It lacks any ambiance, but it was a staple of ours for breakfast and lunch. There is really an amazing variety of food (Grill, pasta, pizza, stir-fry, Indian, bread, fruit). At breakfast there's all kinds of eggs and breakfast meats, and omelette stations. I was pleasantly shocked that there was always seating available in the buffet (I expected it to be a popular choice and swamped). It always seemed to be close to full, with always a few tables empty. The staff was amazingly attentive, clearing plates within seconds of you finishing your food. For dinner, we ate in the main dining rooms most nights of our cruise. The two dining rooms have the same menu, however it is a large menu and changes from night to night. The service was impeccable, probably because each waiter only takes care of 2-3 tables at a time. On a typical night it's a three course meal (soups/salads, main course, dessert). We liked that it was not a fixed menu, and we could each choose our own entree from a good list of options. The food never took to long to come. A small but important detail: the coffee is very good on the Jewel. We were slightly bothered by the fact that soda was not included in your cruise fare; you could pay $2.10 per glass or buy an expensive package. I just steered clear (water, iced tea, and all juices were included). Complimentary room service was a nice touch, but the menu was limited and there wasn't really any eating space in stateroom. Stateroom: We had a balcony stateroom. The bed was extremely comfortable. The balcony was well worth the extra cost-- It was nice to sit out there in the late afternoons and early evenings (the period of time between sun-bathing and dinner) and watch as the ship sailed out of port or in the open water. The bathroom was tight, but perfectly functional. Our steward was outstanding. Not only did he do a room make-up each morning, and turn down each evening, but he always did it when it worked for us. It seemed like he tailored his busy work schedule around when we felt like being in our stateroom. Our daughter required the pullout couch-- He stowed it for us each morning and made it up again each evening. Great touch. Amenities-- We were overall satisfied with the pool deck experience. The pools were a bit small, but we didn't wish to go for long swims, just quick ones to cool off. Usually the deck chairs right down by the pool are all taken. Up on the upper deck, however, there were usually some chairs open. That was actually nicer because the loud music of the pool deck wasn't right on you. For a quieter time, try the upper sun deck at the front of the ship (only accessible by stairs). Entertainment-- I'd give it a 6/10. We hardly ever found the options extremely appealing, but we gave them a bit of a pass because it is impossible to please everybody on a cruise. the productions were occasionally impressive and sometimes purely mediocre. Ports: Cozumel-- Cozumel was the only port we docked at, making going ashore very easy-- you could just walk off. We did the three reef snorkel by boat. The boat crew was very friendly. I felt that the tour group was a bit big and the water was a big crowded. Overall it was a cool experience. The excursion ended in time to venture into town for lunch. Belize City-- Book an excursion or don't get off the ship. Belize city was a depressed area and maybe dangerous. We did the Altun Ha Mayan ruins tour. The tour began with a bus drive through tour of Belize City, which was a very depressed city. The bus ride to Altun Ha was bumpy, and excruciatingly slow (it took over an hour one way). Can't fault the tour company for that though. The tour guide in charge of the Altun Ha part of the tour was weird and very hard to understand, so we got virtually no supplemental info on the ruins. The sheer wonder of the ruins was enough to make it a cool experience, though. Banana Coast-- This was obviously a makeshift port of call. The cruise was originally scheduled for Roatan, and changed the port of call after we booked. What's more, The Jewel was the first ship to ever call in Banana Coast. What's more, the cruise port was still under construction. They had to use the ship's lifeboats to tender us to shore. We didn't book a tour, rather we walked into town and explored. Good if you like seeing new places, bad if you like adventure. Beautiful scenery and mountains. Overall the Jewel was comfortable, we were well fed, and I can't say enough about the crew. They were attentive, eager to help, and ALWAYS smiling and friendly. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Here’s my review of the December 27th sailing. Just letting everyone know in advance that it is a little long, as I am trying to include every detail I can think of to help those of you who are traveling on her in the future however, ... Read More
Here’s my review of the December 27th sailing. Just letting everyone know in advance that it is a little long, as I am trying to include every detail I can think of to help those of you who are traveling on her in the future however, everything I write is just my opinion and may differ from others. Prior to the cruise we completed our online check-in with our photos and everything. We also booked a restaurant for every night, booked the three shows Mamma Mia, Sonic Odyssey, and Starwater, booked the entertainer, booked all of our excursions, drink packages, and iFly and the character breakfast. Our time slot to arrive at the pier in Jersey was 10:45-11:15. We arrived at 11:30 because we had to stop along the way to buy things I forgot to pack (oops). My boyfriend dropped me off at the curb and a nice porter helped us with our luggage. We unfortunately did not print the luggage tags from home because about two months before the cruise we changed our room # and the luggage tags on the website never changed from our old room number to our new one. The luggage porter grabbed some blank tags wrote our current room number on them and off we went! My boyfriend parked the car and took the shuttle bus back and we met each other at the entrance of the terminal. Once inside the terminal there were a couple of employees with ipads swarmed with people and then we saw the security line. We asked a security guard if we were supposed to check in before going through security or after and she said it didn’t matter so we went through security first. That was a breeze. Then we saw more employees with swarms of people around them trying to check in so we decided to just get on a check in line. These lines were not moving at all. I saw a designated area for emerald guests and gold guests to check in but didn’t see platinum (which is me) so I just stood on the gold line. After a few minute I noticed all the employees that were in the middle with swarms of people around them were walking away. We found out that their systems went down and they couldn’t help anyone. At this point we knew this was not going to be curb to ship in 10 min! Finally the employees came back out and a nice woman helped us check in on our ipad. We then went up the escalator and onto the ship The first place we went on the boat was to our rooms, but the hall doors were shut and said they would open at 1230 so we decided to go up to the spa to book a hair appointment for me for new years eve and a shave/facial for my boyfriend on new years eve. Then we went back to the rooms and the door was still shut but we saw some families opening the doors and going to there rooms so we decided to follow. Our room key was waiting right above our room number in a sealed envelope. We put our carry on bags in the room and headed up to the windjammer for lunch. Surprising there wasn’t huge crowds there and there was no problem finding a table! They had fresh mozzarella balls that day and only that day which we loved! (Every day we looked for them but one of the workers said they wouldn’t have them for the rest of the cruise ) The pasta pasta station had a cook prepare your pasta fresh for you with whatever toppings and sauces you wanted. It was delicious!! That day they had two of these stations, but for the rest of the cruise there was only one station and a very long line! After lunch we went back to our room to see if any luggage had arrived (because our RFID tracking wasn’t showing up on the app). We got ready for the muster drill which was in michael’s pub and got there a little early to make sure we had a seat. We had dinner reservations that night at devinly decadence. The restaurant was empty!!! There was maybe three tables of people and that was it. When we walked in the hostess asked for our room number and I gave it to her and she said she couldn’t find any reservations. So I gave her our old room number and the reservations showed up. (It was like this for the rest of the cruise so I’m not sure if the people staying in our old room didn’t have any reservations or just couldn’t see ours). Instead of bread at this restaurant they brought us veggies and dip We also ordered the chicken satay and the flatbread pizza half bbq half buffalo. We liked the chicken satay better than the flatbread. For dinner my boyfriend had the chicken enchiladas and I had the cowboy rubbed beef tenderloin. He liked his entrée and mine was just ok. For dessert the gooey brownie was very rich, but the shot glass pumpkin cake was very good! Since we had the drink package we ordered three drinks between the two of us. I don’t remember their names but the strawberry one we did not like at all, but the blueberry margarita was tasty! Every night in the cruise compass they advertised for this restaurant and I began to wonder if it was because it wasn’t doing so well. Also, when you make reservations online for dinner it blocks out a two hour window, and dinner never took us two hours. We went to Mamma Mia that night in the royal theatre and that show was excellent!! The seats in front of you blow out very little air conditioning but we always found the theater to be very warm. The second day we were at sea all day and we did the selfie scavenger hunt, played bingo, ate, and took a nap lol. Lucky Lizzy the bingo host made bingo enjoyable!! She was always full of energy and had a smile on. There were three different bingo packages to choose from and if you bought the bingo stuffed animal and t-shirt you received extras bingo cards every time you brought them to a game. I one bingo and split it between two other winners! We had dinner reservations at chops grille which was the only restaurant the entire cruise that made us wait an extra 15 minutes, which was no big deal. For appetizers we had onion soup, warm goat cheese salad, crab and shrimp cake, and the black pepper bacon. Let me tell you, for the rest of the cruise all I talked about and wanted was another warm goat cheese salad! It was amazing. The onion soup was very good also and was different than the one they offered in café two70. We both had steak, which was good, and for dessert I had the molten chocolate cake, which was the only chocolate thing on the cruise I had that tasted to me like regular real milk chocolate. This was definitely my favorite restaurant. The third day we were in port Canaveral and we took an excursion to Disney world. We knew that we weren’t getting back to the boat til around 1015 at night so we didn’t make dinner reservations that night. The Disney excursions and the kennedy space excursions all met in the royal theatre and we sat according to excursion group. Getting off the ship took a long long time. But once off the ship, we boarded an air conditioned coach bus and took it to Disney. They dropped us off at Epcot and told us to be back on the bus by 830 that night. We went to Hollywood studios and magic kingdom that day. When we got back to the boat we ate at the wind jammer and then went to sorrentos to make our own personal pan pizzas. The pizza place was very good! The fourth day we were in Nassau Bahamas. Getting off the ship went a lot smoother and quicker. We chose the shallow water dolphin excursion at atlantis. This was an awesome excursion and requires you to wear a wetsuit provided by atlantis. If you choose to do this excursion do not wear any jewelry including earrings because they make you take it off. They provide towels and lockers for you to use there and they do not permit you to take any cameras with you even if they are waterproof. They have professional take pictures of you and you can purchase them at the end if you want. We had dinner reservations at Jamie’s that night and we said outside in the enclosed glass area of the restaurant. We ordered the Italian bread basket, crispy squid, and rice balls. All were excellent! We split a bowl of penne carbonara and I asked the waiter if he could leave out the pancetta but he said its already in the sauce (no big deal). I had the eggplant parm and he had the chicken al mattone. They were very good! That night we saw the jugglers/comedians in the royal theatre who were incredible! They pulled audience members on stage and did tricks with them and they were very funny. The fifth day was in cococay and we went shopping as soon as we got off the tender ship. We booked snorkeling and jet skis for the day and I forgot to pack my underwater camera so I had to buy one there. $20. A t-shirt there is $20. A tank top $20. A starfish $20. $20 seems to be the magic price there lol. We walked to barefoot beach where I heard there wouldn’t be such a crowd and they were right! There was plenty of chairs but we couldn’t snorkel or swim there because no matter how far you walked out the water was never past your knees. So then we walked back and struggled to find one chair. A lady was nice enough to give us one of her chairs that her child wasn’t using and we put on our snorkel stuff and headed to the water. The rocks were unbelievable and killed our feet. So we needless to say we never actually snorkeled. The bbq on the island was very good but the ribs were tough. The jetski tour gave us about 50 minutes on the water which was awesome but you had to stay in line and follow the person in front of you. The jetskis went up to 41 mph. We had dinner reservations at the grande however I didn’t realize we were online for chic. I didn’t think it mattered which podium we went up to since the restaurants are right next to each other. When the guy asked for our room number I gave it to him and he sat us down in chic. I realized it wasn’t the grande when I saw people around us sitting there in shorts and sweatpants with sneakers and hats. I went back up to the podium to explain what happened to the guy and he told me do you how long the line is? It doesn’t matter where you eat because it is the same menu everywhere (because it was new years eve). I was a little annoyed about the way he handled it but I wasn’t going to make a fuss. New years eve was done very nicely on the ship they had balloon drops in the royal esplanade and two70. They handed out party hats noise makers and bead necklaces. After the ball dropped, the employees cleaned up everything very quickly! The sixth day I did ifly and that was my favorite part of the entire cruise! They give you earplugs, goggles, helmets, and a suit. You watch an instructional video for about 10 min and then the instructor comes to gives you tips. They take professional pictures of you as you are flying. We also did the northstar that day which was amazing! You don’t realize how high you are until your up there. The views are breathtaking. We had dinner at silk and we ordered the eggrolls, crab Rangoon, and tacos. Everything was very good! Sonic odyssesy was very cool! The seventh day we went to the character breakfast and the menu was big. They only had shrek, Fiona, and puss in boots come out though, which we were surprised. We thought there would be more characters. We saw starwater which was probably my favorite show because I loved all the dancing. Here’s the extra stuff that didn’t pertain to a specific day: We receive a towel animal every other day in our stateroom, our stateroom attendant was very efficient and friendly. I honestly liked the dynamic dining. The only thing I didn’t like was eating at a different time each night and having to either remember or look up where and when you are eating compared to just showing up to the dining room for the early or late seating. I did miss the relationship you build with the same waiter every night. The best seat in two70 to see starwater is upstairs. Two70 doesn’t have an age restriction at night like music hall does which caused it to be filled with teenagers at the bar ordering sodas. If you are planning to order the photos, order then early in the morning on the last full day (around 830-930am) and the photo place is empty!! In the afternoon and at night it was mobbed with people. Bring pen and paper with you if you are one to write stuff down because there is none in the room. If you plan on doing the bumper cars, arrive a half-hour to twenty minutes early to avoid the line that forms all the way around the court. Bumper cars are fun! The ride time is a long enough ride. They cannot apply visa gift cards to your account. They will tell you to go to the atm and get the cash and bring it to guest services (hopefully that will avoid you standing on line twice at guest services). Take advantage of the sales they offer for booking your next cruise onboard! Everywhere around the ship we always saw employees cleaning which was nice to see! Towards the end of the cruise, the cocacola freestyle machine flavor choices were very very limited and they said they have to wait til they get back to jersey to refill it. The #1 tip I can give everyone is reserve everything you can before you board the ship. I can’t tell you how many people were turned away from the spa or restaurant of their choice because it was booked solid or the stand by line/waitlist was extremely long. 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Sail Date December 2014
Just got back from another fabulous vacation on the Pearl. This was our 2nd NCL cruise, both on the Pearl. We loved her and her crew so much when we went to Alaska 7/14 that we booked her again for the Christmas/New Years cruise. The only ... Read More
Just got back from another fabulous vacation on the Pearl. This was our 2nd NCL cruise, both on the Pearl. We loved her and her crew so much when we went to Alaska 7/14 that we booked her again for the Christmas/New Years cruise. The only complaints I have is perhaps the 2hr debarkation, but even that was more because we weren't in a hurry and waited for the line to die down before trying to get off. Another thing was I smelled something bad(sewer?)at the New Years party at the pool deck, but that came and went depending on how the wind was blowing. I could have moved, but I had a good seat, so not a big deal. Prior to NCL, we mainly(hubby, ds14, ds 11 and me) cruise Disney. We are very simple, laid back people, so freestyle works well for us. We like packing light and not messing with the whole dress up thing. We like going to dinner whenever we want and we don't always want to deal with eating with other people. I like socializing, but I'm not always in the mood to make conversation with people I don't know, at dinner. So that in itself makes NCL a good fit for us. If you enjoy more traditional cruising with formal dinners and tablemates, then NCL may not be the product for you. If other people going casual bothers you, then it's best to choose another cruiseline. Also no lobster, so don't think you will find it in the fee free eating establishments. They have a pasta that's suppose to have lobster in it, but finding the lobster is a game in itself. On Alaska, we had escargot, but i did not see it offered in the MDR this time around. None of that was an issue for us, but I figure this kind of info might help other cruisers decide if NCL is right for them. We did not go to any pay restaurants and ate every night in the MDRs. The menu was fine. Most nights dinner took 1 1/2hrs, but we allot 2hrs before we have to be anywhere. I always looked forward to trying the chef's special. My husband's favorite was the chateaubriand and prime rib. My 14yo had 2 entrees every night and the servers brought him whatever he wanted. My 11yo has multiple food allergies so we pre-ordered his dinner the night before and never had a problem. One evening, they did not find his order and the maitre'd got involved to get the meal done quickly and made sure she herself took the order for the next day. I brought my own desserts from home for him because I knew allergy friendly desserts were extremely limited. I'm not much of a red meat eater, so it was usually the seafood pasta or indian or vegetarian option for me. The fish choices where probably the most blah of the bunch. The buffet was plentiful. I thought the variety was good for both breakfast and lunch. Certainly I wouldn't have this many options at home. I was able to find something good to eat everyday. I found myself doing my daily walk through from the Garden Buffet to the Great outdoors and sometimes to the pool side bbq, just to see what was being served. There were theme nights, including Bavarian, Mexican, Caribbean and USA. Beer was reasonable with the self serve machine @ 30 cents/oz. Since this was a holiday cruise, the atrium was decorated with a large gingerbread display, garland down the stairs/railings and christmas trees. Every restaurant had their own tree and small gingerbread display and a larger one at the Garden Cafe. There was a Christmas show the evening of the 25th. Several sessions of a Christmas sing along led by the crew(24th and 25th), Santa and elves were available Christmas morning(7-9am) to give gifts to the kids and take pictures, but we missed it because we are slow risers. I remember hearing Christmas music in the background in the restaurants and sometimes in the halls. There is no crew led religious service, so if you need that, you'll need to arrange something for yourself. There was a big party New Years eve by the pool. Free champagne was passed out about 15 minutes before the countdown. Many crew members were able to take some time out to celebrate and it was nice to see so many of them socializing. They really seem like a family My boys enjoyed the kids club. No surprise that there were alot of kids on this sailing. His 10-12yo group had to overflow into conference rooms for some activities which made it not as fun as when we were in Alaska. He still made lots of friends and had a great time, always eager to go to the activities. My 14yo had a much better time in Entourage, this time around, compared to our Alaska cruise. The counselors really worked hard to include everyone in the activities, so my shy son spent a good amount of time and met some really nice people. This was a perfect itinerary for us. The weather was perfect, the sailing was smooth and we all stayed healthy. It was the perfect balance of 5 sea days and 5 port days, starting from less developed to more developed islands. I would not change anything. We went to the shows in Stardust every evening. We went to the game shows in Spinnaker almost every night. Made our donation to the Casino. I'm not a mega ship cruiser, so the Pearl is perfect size for us. We love the many public spaces with large ocean views, especially Spinnaker lounge. Pearl does not have some of the bells and whistles like other ships, such as no water slide, no mini golf, water park, ropes course, flow riders and ice skating rink but we still found enough things to do. The rock climbing wall was out of commission, but my kids did not miss it. Others may have been disappointed. Many of the crew had changed since our last cruise, but equally as friendly. Everyone we met was wonderful. Asst hotel manager came around to ask us about our cruise one day when we were sitting at Garden buffet and the next day we received some hand made chocolates in our stateroom from her. What a lovely thing to do. Can't say this would happen again, but it was a nice touch. We loved Bernardo, one of our servers. He always remembered our names and stop to ask how our day was going when he saw us around the ship. My son took a tumble in the kids club and guest services gave us all the bandaids and creams and wipes we needed. Very polite. Of all the things on the ship, we love the crew the most. Maybe we were just lucky, but that's 2 fantastic cruises in a row for us, so I hope to go on the Pearl again. We found the cruise was of good value for the money we spent.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
After reading many reviews lambasting Carnival for their shoddy em/de barkation procedures and abysmal tender offload in Cabo, we were a little concerned about what to expect. Perhaps we set our expectations really low but we were ... Read More
After reading many reviews lambasting Carnival for their shoddy em/de barkation procedures and abysmal tender offload in Cabo, we were a little concerned about what to expect. Perhaps we set our expectations really low but we were pleasantly surprised by the cruise and their procedures, in our experience most of the problems were caused by inconsiderate tourons. Embarkation Arrived at the port at 1:00 p.m. and was surprised to find the parking structure almost full. Waited in line for about 45 minutes and got checked in. We would have been onboard in 60 mts but we had to visit the ship doctor to get our son signed off and that tacked on another hour to our process. Regardless, we were were in our room by 3:00 p.m. Departure was delayed almost 90 minutes because of some CBP issue which put us into Cabo 30 minutes late (1:00 p.m. instead of 12:30 p.m.), they postponed departure that day by 30 minutes to make up for the delay Tendering in Cabo There were over 2000 people on board, so we were told that the tendering process would be organized so that people that booked excursions would get priority and then the rest would have to line up for tender assignments. People that lined up significantly after 10: a.m. got numbers as high as 40, do the math, about 50 pax per tender. There was another ship in the harbor but the tenders were quite efficient, at 2:30 they announced free boarding for tenders, we chose not to go into port as we had the ship all to ourselves. The next morning, we took an 8:30 a.m tender into town and there was no wait. PV was no problem, arrived on time and left on time. Debarkation We got zone 21 and we were off the boat around 11:30, that took a lot longer than expected, but it turns out the delay was because passengers were going down regardless of their zone number and it was causing gridlock in the terminal. We stayed on the lido deck enjoying our coffee and the view   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We sailed aboard the Celebrity Silhouette December 21-28, 2014, and had a great time. The embarkation process was surprisingly easy. We received a voicemail several days before, letting us know when the best time would be for us to ... Read More
We sailed aboard the Celebrity Silhouette December 21-28, 2014, and had a great time. The embarkation process was surprisingly easy. We received a voicemail several days before, letting us know when the best time would be for us to arrive, based on our cabin location. We arrived between 2:00P and 2:30P and sailed through. Once on board, we went to make dinner reservations. Unlike other cruise lines that we have sailed on, if you want to make dinner reservations before the ship sails, you have to pay for them in advance. We wanted to use our shipboard credit to make these reservations, but we could not use it to pay for anything until after we boarded. So, although we made reservations first thing after boarding the ship, we could only get reservations between 5:30P and 6:30P, and even that took a bit of work, as we had to see which restaurants could fit us in on which days. It would be nice to be able to make dinner reservations in advance without having to pay for the upcharge until after we ate the actual dinner. We ate at the Lawn Club the first night. Although Celebrity bills the Lawn Club as a “cook your own food” destination, we did not have to do so. We had salad, pizza, (which they call flatbread) and the rib eye. We really liked the pizza, and found it to be excellent throughout the ship. Our waiter was super. We had lunch at the Porch the next day. It was nice to be outside and my husband and I really enjoyed our paninis. The service was slow, but they only had one person working up there, so that might have been the reason. Monday night we ate at Qsine They offer their menu via iPad, which is more of a gimmick than anything useful. Qsine is basically a tapas place, where you can try many small plates. I enjoyed the crab ball best. My husband liked the Mediterranean lamb chops. Once again, our waiter was super. When we followed his suggestions, we ate very well. Tuesday night was our first foray into the Main Dining room. It was a very pretty space and the food was fine. The sommelier that night was outstanding, guiding us through our beverage choices and ensuring that our glasses were never empty. Wednesday night, Christmas Eve, we decided to have dinner at Bistro on Five. Salad and crepes were just what the doctor ordered after hiking all afternoon. Once again, our waiter was very friendly and accommodating. And, we both really liked the crepes. Christmas night we ate in Murano. We decided to try to wine pairing dinner. The service at this particular restaurant was the best on the ship. We really enjoyed our dinner, although at the end of five courses, we were extremely full! Friday night we ate in the Tuscan Grille. While the food was very good (my husband’s favorite meal), the service was disorganized and chaotic. It took a while before anyone came to our table, and then we were asked to order food before drinks. When we said that we wanted to first order drinks, we were offered only one glass of red wine (we had the classic beverage package – more on that later.) Someone else finally showed up and informed us of our various wine choices. Saturday night we were back in the Main Dining Room. That night, they had a Top Chef menu to order from. The food from that was fabulous! We ate all of our breakfasts and many lunches in the Ocean View restaurant, which offered a buffet. Breakfast was lovely. Most of the lunches were fine, but somewhat crowded. The last lunch of the cruise was a mad-house. There were specialty items, ice sculptures, tons of desserts and huge crowds. If we sail on Celebrity again, we will go to a specialty restaurant for lunch that day. We had the classic beverage package, which allowed us to enjoy all non-alcoholic drinks offered on board, along with beers up to $6 per serving, and wine-by-the-glass up to $9 per serving. It also included cocktails, but we did not partake. The wines by the glass were fine: the cab and the pinot grigio being quite good. The beer choices, however, were skimpy: we could only get Budweiser, Heineken and Corona. That being said, it made the trip easy not having to think about paying for any beverages. However, the beer choices could be better. We had a forward cabin with a balcony on the 7th deck, which we loved. Our cabin attendant, Viviana, was wonderful! She answered any and all questions and took very good care of us. Our cabin was always clean and we really appreciated our own outside space. We spent a good amount of time on our balcony. We were concerned that the boat might feel too crowded, since it held over 2800 passengers. However, the only times it did seem crowded were around the main pool area and at the last lunch. As we had our own balcony, we did not have to wrestle for a chaise lounge by the pool. We heard complaints from other people onboard that is was hard to get a chair and that others would “save” chaise lounges for their friends and family members, even when they were not there. We were lucky not to have to deal with that. We tried to use the jogging track, but unless you want to get up very early, forget it. The track circles the pool area, so people were constantly in the way while setting up their chairs, getting drinks, climbing in and out of the pools, or going somewhere else. Celebrity should really think about repositioning their jogging track for people who want to get some serious outdoor exercise. Although the adults-only pool was advertised as a lap pool, it is not. It is way too small (short and narrow) for any serious lap swimming. However, it was a nice respite from the main pool area madness. We also used the treadmills in the exercise room. It was nice to look out over the ocean as we “walked” along. One of the ship’s engines was out, so we were not able to make San Juan, Puerto Rico, the first scheduled port of call. We heard about this before we boarded through our travel agent. However, it seemed as though quite a few people did not know about this change until they were onboard the ship. They were understandably upset. With all of the pre-cruise emails that we received from Celebrity, asking us to buy things in advance, the cruise ship line should have been able to email most of its passengers to let them know of this change. With the exception of the last day, we booked our excursions with independent operators. We hiked in St. Maartin with Tri-Sport, which was great! We toured St. Kitts with Thenford Gray, which was also fun. We like the smaller groups and more activity, so both of these excursions worked well for us. The last day’s ship excursion (Ft. Lauderdale Land and Sea) started off somewhat dubiously. We had to wait in the bus-loading/parking area for 30 minutes before our bus arrived. However, once aboard, we had a good time and the cruise through Ft. Lauderdale’s canals was super. The boat itself was very well designed and quite beautiful. There was a large open lobby area mid-ship, with two banks of glass elevators. The space was open from the 3rd to the 12th or 14th decks and was spectacular. The ship’s signage and maps were very well done, ensuring that people could get around very easily. And, the displayed art was well-chosen and a super enhancement to the décor. The ship did decorate for Christmas, but it was not over the top and only in the main public areas. We were impressed. All in all, we had a great time and would sail on Celebrity again.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We sailed aboard the Celebrity Silhouette December 21-28, 2014, and had a great time. The embarkation process was surprisingly easy. We received a voicemail several days before, letting us know when the best time would be for us to ... Read More
We sailed aboard the Celebrity Silhouette December 21-28, 2014, and had a great time. The embarkation process was surprisingly easy. We received a voicemail several days before, letting us know when the best time would be for us to arrive, based on our cabin location. We arrived between 2:00P and 2:30P and sailed through. Once on board, we went to make dinner reservations. Unlike other cruise lines that we have sailed on, if you want to make dinner reservations before the ship sails, you have to pay for them in advance. We wanted to use our shipboard credit to make these reservations, but we could not use it to pay for anything until after we boarded. So, although we made reservations first thing after boarding the ship, we could only get reservations between 5:30P and 6:30P, and even that took a bit of work, as we had to see which restaurants could fit us in on which days. It would be nice to be able to make dinner reservations in advance without having to pay for the upcharge until after we ate the actual dinner. We ate at the Lawn Club the first night. Although Celebrity bills the Lawn Club as a “cook your own food” destination, we did not have to do so. We had salad, pizza, (which they call flatbread) and the rib eye. We really liked the pizza, and found it to be excellent throughout the ship. Our waiter was super. We had lunch at the Porch the next day. It was nice to be outside and my husband and I really enjoyed our paninis. The service was slow, but they only had one person working up there, so that might have been the reason. Monday night we ate at Qsine. They offer their menu via iPad, which is more of a gimmick than anything useful. Qsine is basically a tapas place, where you can try many small plates. I enjoyed the crab ball best. My husband liked the Mediterranean lamb chops. Once again, our waiter was super. When we followed his suggestions, we ate very well. Tuesday night was our first foray into the Main Dining room. It was a very pretty space and the food was fine. The sommelier that night was outstanding, guiding us through our beverage choices and ensuring that our glasses were never empty. Wednesday night, Christmas Eve, we decided to have dinner at Bistro on Five. Salad and crepes were just what the doctor ordered after hiking all afternoon. Once again, our waiter was very friendly and accommodating. And, we both really liked the crepes. Christmas night we ate in Murano. We decided to try to wine pairing dinner. The service at this particular restaurant was the best on the ship. We really enjoyed our dinner, although at the end of five courses, we were extremely full! Friday night we ate in the Tuscan Grille. While the food was very good (Tim’s favorite meal), the service was disorganized and chaotic. It took a while before anyone came to our table, and then we were asked to order food before drinks. When we said that we wanted to first order drinks, we were offered only one glass of red wine (we had the classic beverage package – more on that later.) Someone else finally showed up and informed us of our various wine choices. Saturday night we were back in the Main Dining Room. That night, they had a Top Chef menu to order from. The food from that was fabulous! We ate all of our breakfasts and many lunches in the Ocean View restaurant, which offered a buffet. Breakfast was lovely. Most of the lunches were fine, but somewhat crowded. The last lunch of the cruise was a mad-house. There were specialty items, ice sculptures, tons of desserts and huge crowds. If we sail on Celebrity again, we will go to a specialty restaurant for lunch that day. We had the classic beverage package, which allowed us to enjoy all non-alcoholic drinks offered on board, along with beers up to $6 per serving and wine-by-the-glass up to $9 per serving. It also included cocktails, but we did not partake. The wines by the glass were fine: the cab and the pinot grigio being quite good. The beer choices, however, were skimpy: we could only get Budweiser, Heineken and Corona. That being said, it made the trip easy not having to think about paying for any beverages. However, the beer choices could be better. We had a forward cabin with a balcony on the 7th deck, which we loved. Our cabin attendant, Viviana, was wonderful! She answered any and all questions and took very good care of us. Our cabin was always clean and we really appreciated our own outside space. We spent a good amount of time on our balcony. We were concerned that the ship might feel too crowded, since it held over 2800 passengers. However, the only times it did seem crowded were around the main pool area and at the last lunch. As we had our own balcony, we did not have to wrestle for a chaise lounge by the pool. We heard complaints from other people onboard that is was hard to get a chair and that others would “save” chaise lounges for their friends and family members, even when they were not there. We were lucky not to have to deal with that. We tried to use the jogging track, but unless you want to get up very early, forget it. The track circles the pool area, so people were constantly in the way while setting up their chairs, getting drinks, climbing in and out of the pools, or going somewhere else. Celebrity should really think about repositioning their jogging track for people who want to get some serious outdoor exercise. Although the adults-only pool was advertised as a lap pool, it is not. It is way too small (short and narrow) for any serious lap swimming. However, it was a nice respite from the main pool area madness. We also used the treadmills in the exercise room. It was nice to look out over the ocean as we “walked” along. One of the ship’s engines was out, so we were not able to make San Juan, Puerto Rico, the first scheduled port of call. We heard about this before we boarded through our travel agent. However, it seemed as though quite a few people did not know about this change until they were onboard the ship. They were understandably upset. With all of the pre-cruise emails that we received from Celebrity, asking us to buy things in advance, the cruise ship line should have been able to email most of its passengers to let them know of this change. In their favor, Celebrity did provide us with extra on-board credit for the missed port. However, that just showed up on our account without explanation. We had to ask what it was. With the exception of the last day, we booked our excursions with independent operators. We hiked in St. Maartin with Tri-Sport, which was great! We toured St. Kitts with Thenford Gray, which was also fun. We like the smaller groups and more activity, so both of these excursions worked well for us. The last day’s ship excursion (Ft. Lauderdale Land and Sea booked through Celebrity) started off somewhat dubiously. We had to wait in the bus-loading/parking area for 30 minutes before our bus arrived. However, once aboard, we had a good time and the cruise through Ft. Lauderdale’s canals was super. The boat itself was very well designed and quite beautiful. There was a large open lobby area mid-ship, with two banks of glass elevators. The space was open from the 3rd to the 12th or 14th decks and was spectacular. The ship’s signage and maps were very well done, ensuring that people could get around very easily. And, the displayed art was well-chosen and a super enhancement to the décor. The ship did decorate for Christmas, but it was not over the top and only in the main public areas. We were impressed. All in all, we had a great time and would sail on Celebrity again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Let me first say that we have cruised out of every cruise port in Florida on alomost every cruise line and I have to say that the embarkation from Port Everglades on this ship was one of the smoothest we have ever encountered. That does ... Read More
Let me first say that we have cruised out of every cruise port in Florida on alomost every cruise line and I have to say that the embarkation from Port Everglades on this ship was one of the smoothest we have ever encountered. That does not mean that there were not lines inside the terminal, but that things flowed quickly and efficiently. The staggered boarding times probably helped with this process. Also, with boarding after 2pm (as we did) our staterooms were all ready and our bags quickly arrived and put in our cabin by our cabin steward while we explored the ship and searched out the best places to grab a drink and a snack. I would suggest ignoring the urge to be one of the first to board the ship and either enjoy Fort Lauderdale in the morning or start your journey from your home distination a little later in the morning (in our case about a 3 hour drive). As a family traveling with two boys (18 & 9) we found that this ship provided lots of options for everyone. Although it is a large ship with lots of passengers, other than dining in the Windjammer buffet and the New Years party on the Royal Promenade, things were not what I would call "overly crowded". On the first couple of sea days the pool decks were near capacity with sunbathers but chairs were still available. There were some lines at the Flowrider, Zipline and on the Sports Court, but about what you would expect on any other cruise line. The "Neighborhoods" provided lots of different options during the day. - Decks 15 & 16 - sun, pools and sports - Royal Promenade - a a nice climate controlled place to people watch, shop, get a drink or a snack. There are a number of street parties that take place here in addition to the big New Year's Party that was on our sailing. - Boardwalk - a place where you feel the breeze and hear the waves and where you can to watch people on the rock climbing walls, watch the big screens (which had a lot of football games during college football bowl week and NFL playoffs) or snacks and drinks at Ritas or Johnny Rockets. It seemed to me that the surcharge kept people out of Rita's unless they were going there for food, although it was a nice place to watch all of the activities on the Boardwalk. Except for when events were going on at the Aqua Theatre (football or show) this was a quite place with lots of families with smaller children. - Central Park - a very nice, quiet location with a couple of boutiques and dining locations. During the day, the Park Cafe was a good location for a snack. Also a nice place to sit and read a book. The park like atmosphere is pretty unique to a cruise ship. Although open the the elements if it is raining the spot is pretty quiet during the day and then a bustling dining hotspot at night. - Solarium - a nice covered adult only area with its own pool, jacuzzis, bar and bistro. While this adult only ahea usually feels cramped on most ships, We did not feel that way on this ship. The area covered multiple decks and had several more different sections if you wanted away from most people. The upper area also became a dance club late in the evening on a couple of nights. Overall, we felt there was something for everyone. For example, out kids never saw Central Park until we took them for dnner there one night. We finally broke down on the last day and told them about the awesome prime beef sandwich that they have offer during the day. Our cabins were on deck 7. We found this as very convenient for everything except going to the pool and sports decks. Since we prefer to use the stairs instead of the congestion of the elevators most things are a short up or down from deck 7. - down 1 deck to to the Boardwalk - up 1 deck to Central Park - down 2 decks to the Royal Promenade - down 2 decks to dining in Adagio (My Time Dining Option) - down 3 decks to the Amber Theatre or Ice Theatre - down 3 decks to the Casino The only times that we utilized the elevators were trips up to decks 14-15. Let me just mention the dining time options. All but two of our dinner meals were in the main dining room, We chose the "My Time" option and set the reservations prior to departure according to our expected ports or entertainment options. The time varied each night but each night we started in the Adagio deck 5. When we ate early (arrive between 5:30 and 6:30) we were seated with the same waiter and assitant waiter and did not have to wait to be seated and dinner flowed smoothly over an approximate 1 1/2 hour period. When we ate late (after 7pm) we would have to wait for a table assignment and may have been asked to move to Adagio 3 or 4 for dinner. Not a problem, but the dinner seemed to be more rushed as they were trying to get you out before the late dinner seating. Ultimately I liked being able to set my own time for dinner. I did feel like I was being "nickled and dimed" a little bit with all of the premium charges. Even when we ate at Chops, the option for a dry aged steaks was an up charge, which seemed rediculous after paying $35 per person already (one of which barely ate anything other than the bread). The regular filets were great anyway. I also thought the prices for the photo's rediculous, but of course bought 1 or 2 anyway. I had a couple of trips to Guest Services, and there was always a line with a 10-15 minute wait. I found the staff as courteous and helpful. We had noticed that our RCI onboard credits had not been applied. As it turned out th problem was with the paperwork the travel agency either processed or failed to process and not necessariely RCI. Ultimately, the travel agency blamed us for not completing all of the paperwork (their job I thought), but agreed to refund the credit amounts to our credit card. I mention this only because I have never had it as my responsibility to "redeem" cruise line onboard credits so you may want to watch this on your own booking. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Travelled on the Celebrity Silhouette on December 28, 2014 out of Fort Lauderdale with stops in Mexico, Grand Caymans, Jamaica and Labadee, Haiti. We were travelling in a group of 12 people, with ages ranging from 20 to 80. Arrived via ... Read More
Travelled on the Celebrity Silhouette on December 28, 2014 out of Fort Lauderdale with stops in Mexico, Grand Caymans, Jamaica and Labadee, Haiti. We were travelling in a group of 12 people, with ages ranging from 20 to 80. Arrived via plane to the Fort Lauderdale airport on Sunday morning, and we were met by the Celebrity group at the airport - transferring to the ship was easy and only a 10 minute bus ride. We got in line at the terminal to go through security and to check in/obtain our Sea Pass cards and waited over 2 hours. This was one of the worst experiences of the trip. At some points, we were standing in line waiting to go through security and the line up to get your Sea Pass card was so long that they weren't taking anyone through security. No one from Celebrity made an announcement to thank us for our patience, or tell us that something was wrong. All we wanted was a little communication, but nothing came, so our entire group was extremely frustrated. It really put a damper on the beginning of the trip. We finally were on board with our Sea Pass card (which is like your ship credit card - you use it as your room key, way to buy things and drinks on the ship, as well as to get off/on at the ports), and ready to go. The ship is gorgeous, and we hardly ever felt the ship move, only in some of the rougher seas. On our days at sea, we spent it lounging on some lounge chairs on Deck 14 (one above the pools). We would usually get there around 9am and didn't have trouble getting 12 lounge chairs. They will move your towels if you try and get up early to reserve chairs, but we found there were lots of chairs. Only swam in the outdoor pools once - very crowded with kids during the days at sea, but perhaps that is just because of the time of the year. We usually would walk down to swim in the indoor pool which was so nice - perfect temperature, just a great spot to hang around and pretty quiet. The Mast Grill was a favourite to eat at for lunch - delicious hamburgers!! We would then usually go up to the Sunset Bar for drinks later in the evening. Ari and Dev are the bartenders there and I cannot say enough good things about them - very helpful and friendly and made us feel at home!! We ate at the Porch one day for lunch ($7 charge) and it was delicious. We did not eat at the Lawn Club Grill or use the Lawn area, but didn't feel like it was taking away space like I have read in other reviews. We used the fitness area every morning, which had lots of equipment. The walking track was on one of the main floors so unless you were walking at 7am, there was a lot of traffic from general people. The food was delicious everywhere. We had reservations at the Tuscan Grille one evening ($45/person) and it was well worth the money – beautiful spot with nice views off the back of the ship. You can literally eat anything and everything you want on the menu. Our waiter was so nice, everyone ordered meat for the main course and he brought out a bunch of different pastas for the tables to try. We ate at the main dining hall for the other nights – the staff was extremely friendly, the service very quick and the food was delicious. We also upgraded to the premium drink package before we went which I highly recommend, as we didn’t have to worry about signing for drinks everytime we wanted something. As well, you can get basically any drink you want with this package. People have mentioned about the staff trying to upsell them into specialty restaurants, etc in other reviews and I never once felt like the staff tried to sell me anything except asking to get my picture taken. We tried to have a drink at every bar, just to get a feel for them. The Martini bar was our go-to meeting spot, great location and good drinks. People mentioned in other reviews/descriptions of the cruise that Michael’s was a great spot with TV’s and beers on tap and this was not the case. Only people with elite status or those staying in suits’ could access this spot, so there was no bar with TV’s (only the Casino bar that sat like 8 people), and no beers on tap (other than the standard 2 that most bars had). Cellar Masters had a lot of different beers/wines but the bar definitely had the upscale feel and didn’t feel like a spot to hang around with your buddies. We attended 2 shows in the theater – Broadway Nights (musical, song and dance from the popular songs on Broadway) and the last night they had a Ventriloquist who was so funny and very good. Loved the 2 shows we went to! We had excursions booked in Mexico and Jamaica through Celebrity. In Mexico we did the Dolphin Push, Pull and Swim which was great – you got to interact with the dolphins, and then we lounged on the beach afterwards. In Jamaica we did the Dreamer Catamaran, which was amazing, and got to go snorkeling. Can’t say enough good things about both excursions – good for every one of all ages as everyone in our party of 12 took part! Getting off/on the ship at port in Mexico and Jamaica was a breeze, but a completely different story in Grand Cayman and Labadee. In Grand Cayman, the ship was about 30 minutes late to drop anchor (apparently the ship’s engine was not getting to full speed which may have caused the problem), but no one ever made an announcement to say we were late. Then the tendering process was ridiculous. You are told that since we don’t have an excursion booked through Celebrity, you have to go down at 10am ready to go to get a tendering ticket. We went down right at 10am and got ticket #19, so people were lined up well before 10am. Then when the tendering process started, it was extremely slow and our ticket was not called until 1:30pm. Just disappointed there was no communication on this by the staff to explain the process – the other people in my group who had been on many cruises that had tenders said in previous experience with a large cruise ship it never took any longer than 20-30 minutes to get off the ship. We ran into people who had tender tickets up to #42 so I can only imagine how long they waited. In Labadee, everyone was on the 3rd floor waiting to get off the ship, there was no order to the process and one of the officers told us it would only take 5 minutes and we stood there in a giant line for 25-30 minutes before we started moving towards the 2nd floor and off the ship. In both spots, we just went to the beach where we lounged and swam. Overall it was a wonderful experience, the staff, the food, and our 2 excursions were the highlights for our group. I would recommend the Celebrity again, but would try to do it to a location that didn’t have a tender.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
"Oh, you are the Hammann's? You have been upgraded!" OK. I'm not an idiot. I realize that getting upgraded is fairly standard. However, don't we all love to hear that phrase? It put a smile on my wife's face ... Read More
"Oh, you are the Hammann's? You have been upgraded!" OK. I'm not an idiot. I realize that getting upgraded is fairly standard. However, don't we all love to hear that phrase? It put a smile on my wife's face as well as mine and set the tone for our 20th wedding anniversary cruise. We arrived at 2:00 as suggested by our boarding pass. It literally took about 5 minutes to get through the check-in process. We stood for about three minutes behind on family and then was instructed to move to a quicker line by an attendant. We were greeted, given our cruise cards and moved on to the ship. Quick and easy! We had reserved an obstructed view stateroom and were upgraded to a balcony stateroom. We were excited to see our room. Both of us had never cruised before so we were enjoyed each and every step of the process. From the name tag on the room to the greeting from Jeffrey, our steward, we were amazed at the service. The food and food service was top of the line. We loved our meal times. Not only were we served amazing food, we established some great relationships with the servers who come from all corners of the world. While I haven't been on other cruises so I cannot compare, I suspect that it would be hard to beat what Princess offers in this area. We dined using the anytime dining package which offered a great amount of flexibility. The balcony cabin we were booked into was amazing. It offered amazing views. The bed was comfortable. Our steward, Jeffrey, was efficient and stealthy! It took some getting used to the two a day service plan on our rooms but once we had the system down it was great. The 2015 New year celebration was great. We had a great time hanging out with people of all nations. This was a memory for a lifetime. I certainly would sail Princess again! Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We sailed Regal Princess Christmas week 2014. The ship was full with 4000 passengers. This is my 5th Princess cruise, 7th overall. My BF has sailed many more times than me on both Princess as well as other cruise lines. We are both ... Read More
We sailed Regal Princess Christmas week 2014. The ship was full with 4000 passengers. This is my 5th Princess cruise, 7th overall. My BF has sailed many more times than me on both Princess as well as other cruise lines. We are both Princess Platinum. We are 43 and 42. I will start by saying we had an absolutely wonderful time and would love to sail Regal again in a heartbeat. I only had a few minor criticisms. Embarkation was a breeze. It took 10 minutes or less to check in, we were onboard by noon and our room was ready. The ship is truly beautiful, elegant, lovely in every way. The online pictures do not do the Regal justice. The atrium is much more beautiful in real life, as is the whole ship. Although the ship was fully booked we never felt crowded anywhere. It was kind of strange! Room: We had a mid-ship mini-suite A407. The room is very spacious and well laid out. There is plenty of storage. I’m a heavy packer and there were still some empty drawers. The bathroom is lovely with a large tub and plenty of storage for your toiletries (and I have a lot). The balcony was nice. It’s perfect to sit out with a glass of wine and enjoy the sea air. The size was not an issue for us. We were a few decks down from the Seawalk, and it was slightly off to the side. You can see up into it and those above can see you on your balcony, if that matters to you. For me it didn’t. Most people on the Seawalk are oblivious anyway. Pools: This is where I have a criticism. I wish there was another full size pool that was quiet. The MUTS pool is too loud. If you want quiet you must move to an area away from the main pool and hot tubs or go to the Retreat Pool. The Retreat pool is lovely, IF you can get a lounger. Lounge hogs were in full effect everywhere, especially the Retreat. I was happy to see deck attendants taking their towels away after a while. All pools are colder than a frozen margarita, seriously. The aft pool is far too small. I also feel the fountains are a waste of space. That being said we enjoyed our poolside time very much. Spa: We had a nice couples massage and it was great. The new location of the Spa near the Piazza is fantastic. Yes they do try to sell you stuff but not too forcefully. I wish they would stop doing that. Entertainment: We only saw 2 theater shows: the Beatlemaniacs which were fantastic, and “Spectacular” which was not so…spectacular. (They tried, it’s just not my thing.) The bartender flair show at the Seawalk bar is not to be missed! Get there early for a good spot. There was an excellent quartet (Rick Kilburn) that played in numerous venues, we enjoyed them a lot. There was also a comedian who was pretty good. Princess Live is a very cool venue, check it out. It’s something different and fun. Overall, the entertainment everywhere was good quality and varied. There is plenty of time to see the theater shows every night, they run 3x per night. Food: Horizon court is AWESOME. You will never have the crowds and people in your way and in your face. It’s so large and well laid out. The food is overall very good. There is plenty of seating as well. Don’t miss the Crab Shack ($20 pp) at night, we loved it (happens 2x per cruise). The seafood is delicious and abundant. Sabatini’s and Crown Grill are fantastic as always, we ate here 2 times each. MDR leaves much to be desired, the waitstaff are very overworked and therefore cannot pay proper attention to the guests. They forgot a course one night and on another night couldn’t deliver our drink order in a timely fashion. This is why we prefer the special restaurants. The price is good and the food and service are top notch. They want you to try everything so don’t be shy. Get those extra lobster tails or have 3 appetizers! Alfredo’s Pizzeria makes fantastic pizza, it’s a step above Prego pizza at the pool and very nice environment to dine in. It gets busy on sea days so be prepared. Trident grill and Prego Pizza are good as always. Service: All around excellent. Everyone says hello and smiles, even when just walking past them. Wait staff are all around excellent. Room steward did an excellent job. Drink package: We did the all-inclusive beverage package. It was well worth it. Both people in the cabin do NOT have to buy it. Note that you cannot work it to serve 2: they will only give you one drink at a time. Even if you want bottled water and a cocktail you must wait and get them one at a time. However, you can get cocktails or wine at dinner as well as a bottle of sparkling or still water for the table. We made full use of the package and probably came out ahead. It includes all your alcohol by the glass below $10 (vast majority of drinks) as well as sodas, bottled water, coffees, gelato, juices, mocktails, basically everything. Buy it at any bar when you get onboard. Other notes: - Bellini bar is lovely, it’s a good place to watch what’s happening in the Piazza in the evening and the cocktails are good. We did not try the Ocean Terrace Seafood bar but it looks similarly nice. - The lack of a mid-ship staircase makes no difference, in fact it was better: we just took the elevators instead of hoofing it! There are 6 elevators in one place, you never have to wait more than 1 minute. And this was on a full ship. There are so many complaints about this it makes me feel that CC readers have been brain washed to believe it’s a problem when in fact it’s not a problem at all. Haters must hate, I guess. - Don’t miss sailaway on the top deck, they play the Love Boat horn and it is AWESOME!!!!! Overall this was a perfect vacation with just a few little complaints. I highly recommend this ship and hope to sail her again someday.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I will begin this review by saying we are not fly by night cruisers or first timers – our latest cruise on the Serenade was our fourth RCCL cruise with 5 cruises total under our belts. We have sailed on Oasis – Freedom and twice on the ... Read More
I will begin this review by saying we are not fly by night cruisers or first timers – our latest cruise on the Serenade was our fourth RCCL cruise with 5 cruises total under our belts. We have sailed on Oasis – Freedom and twice on the Radiance Class Ships with RCCL and one Holland cruise comparable to the Voyager Class of RCCL. So here is my review of the Serenade. Our first cruise was on RCCL Jewel of the Seas which was phenomenal however after experiencing the Oasis and Freedom Class ships the Radiance Class Ships didn’t seem to be as exciting. But I would highly recommend Radiance or Voyager class Ships for First or second time cruisers. I will break this review down in segments and give it a 1 -5 Rating (5 Being the Best) Port of Departure New Orleans (Rating 2.5) In my opinion this port is very congested and wildly disorganized we have sailed out of Port Canaveral / Ft Lauderdale and Tampa in the past and if I had to compare I would sum it up like this – The security in New Orleans ports are very laid back, understandably we all complain about the added security measures when traveling but there is peace of mind that comes with it. For example at the Florida terminals the customs and security are checking Ship Reservations / IDS and Passports prior to entering the Ship Dock Area – in New Orleans your first Security check comes inside the building which is fine, but Being ranked #6 among American cruise ports (I) you would think it would be a little more secure. However once you get past all the uncertainty and ciaos things seem to move rather fast The parking areas are scattered around the port so you have a choice to park your car just about anywhere, however you will be walking a great distance to the port or trying to catch a shuttle or cab to the main entrance – which promotes another problem, there is only one lane traffic so if there is a traffic back-up you are paying a cab fee for sitting. My only suggestion is you park your car at the terminal parking area which is adjacent to the port terminal but still a 5-10 min walk depending how far from the door you are. You can leave your bags with a porter before parking but keep in mind whatever luggage your hand carrying on board you will have to walk with through all the security check points and onto the ship. The other down fall of leaving out of New Orleans is that it takes approx. 5 Hours for the ship to get to the Gulf and an additional 4 Hours before Casinos and Stores are open – In our case the Ship left the dock at 4pm and the Casino and stores opened at 10am the next morning, this is just an FYI. This is due in part because ships have to follow duty free laws and duty free generally goes into effect approx. 4 hours off any U.S Mainland. Lastly if you are looking for the cruise port terminal on your GPS – Verify where it is – we typed in Port of New Orleans with the address and it took us to a restaurant on the opposite side of town, so do some research on this one first and please note you are looking for the “Julia Cruise Terminal for RCCL”. Luggage and Room (5.0) Upon boarding we headed to the windjammer for lunch which was open and ready for service – we were told through the grapevine staterooms would not be ready until 1:00pm and luggage to soon follow, so with past experience we figured about 2 – 2:30 but to our surprise the doors opened at 1:05pm and our stateroom was ready and low and behold our luggage was outside the door waiting for us too. So this is an advantage to a smaller vessel for sure. – We actually had time to unpack, get our room situated and get ready for dinner. So this was an absolute plus. Nice Job RCCL Crew State Room (Rating 4.5) We stayed in State Room 4536 which was down the hall from the Centrum and Customer Service desk this room had its pros and cons. The room was quiet and we rarely heard any noise from the Centrum. In fact we heard a lot more noise above us. The noise we heard were kids running around see as we were on Deck 4, I can only assume these were kids running along Deck 5 which is the outside walk way but this was sporadic and didn’t last long maybe 9-10pm if I recall. The Centrum as aforementioned was located down the hall from us although surprisingly you didn’t hear any noise it is the central area for shows and ship gatherings. I can only imagine if you were closer you might hear some noise but I was extremely surprised we didn’t hear anything from our Stateroom that involved the Centrum Activities. However, if and when there was activities in this area the access to your stateroom was compiled with getting through crowds of other passengers or you could walk to the elevators located at the front of the ship and bypass all the extracurricular activities which again was not a big deal just kind of annoying because other guests assumed you were trying to get the front line of the venue and you had to keep expressing to them you wanted to get to your State Room. Hence the reason I rate this a 4 out of 5 Main Dining “My Time Dining” (3.5) We went to our “My Time Dining” our first evening out to meet our waiters and well I was somewhat disappointed. We generally do this so we can meet the waiters and get a feel on the service and activities in the main dining room. We were welcomed by are main waiter and his assistance, the food was ok but the service and wait time was more than I would deem acceptable. I will go on to say that we met another couple on board and even tried a different area of the “my time dining” and the service was no different so I am not exactly sure what the issue was but it was slower than I expected. Overall I have to say we only seen our main waiter one time and for the life of me I can’t remember his name or even remember if we were introduced – However his assistance Moncef was incredible and an asset to RCCL he was always around and always lending a helpful hand to us during dinner / Lunch and Breakfast. Windjammer (4.8) We always enjoy the windjammer – I am not sure if it is the ability to come and go as you please and experience the different types of food or the friendly one on one with the waiters / waitresses but never have a complaint here Windjammer Buffet Food (4.0) I will not sugar coat this – buffet food is buffet food with our many travels on cruise ships and dry land buffets I don’t think I have ever had one better than the other – If you are cruising because you heard the food is out of this world please don’t be naïve – the only difference is there’s more of it and you can have as much as you want. Now with that being said here are a couple things to keep in mind first and foremost the Serenade offers fresh cook specialty meals in the Windjammer every night I am partial to the pasta night as they will make your dish to order – they also had Stir Fry night / Fish Night and Pork night, these dishes were great and freshly made and yes you can go for seconds or thirds. The buffet was not bad it’s all about preference and what you like – for example the pasta sauce is more tomato tasting then what I make at home but it was still enjoyable. So seeing as you can’t please 2500 people take it with stride. I heard a lot of people in the past mention how bland the food is – well again cruisers think about the 2500 people on board, it is easy to add spice / salt or pepper to any dish to exact it the way you like – it’s impossible to take these ingredients out when there is too much for someone to consume. So to error on the side of judgment it is safer for any Chef or Cook to leave the pallet open and keep the spice / salt / pepper etc.. down to a minimum. Over all depending on the food you like I still think that it was pretty good food On Board Live Entertainment Headliners (5.0) The on board entertainment shows were great we seen the Performances by “Finis” a musical genius and impressionist if you ever get an opportunity to see him do it. We also seen “Horizon” a Detroit Michigan based 4 Man Mo-town group – again this was a great show. I can’t speak of the other shows like Love and Marriage etc.. But heard no complaints from anyone on the ship. On board Entertainment / Pool Deck (3.5) I do think that there were enough afternoon festivities on board i.e. trivia games at the lounges etc.. The live band playing on the pool deck was extremely loud – I am no stranger to music as I dabble with playing my drums on occasion and loud music doesn’t bother me however, when you have to literally scream your drink order to the waiter and or scream to talk to other people that are seated inches from you then it’s entirely too loud – that also applied to the late night TV I finally had to tell someone to lower it down – there was only 10 people on the pool deck and I couldn’t hear my self-breathing let alone the conversation at hand in my opinion this was a gross oversight by the Cruise Director and his or her assistance. Being a Christmas cruise we were impressed that the crew celebrated Christmas with a Santa Claus visit for the children that was really nice – and the passenger Christmas sing along was also and additional feature that we enjoyed very much, however we were a little disappointed in the decorating of the ship for Christmas although Hanukah was very noticeable on board, Now please don’t take this the wrong way I am no way saying Hanukah should not be celebrated in fact I am very much happy to see it was, however the vision of Christmas décor was not apparent on the vessel which was more of a surprise than a disappointment. Shops onboard (3.0) The Shops are located on Deck 5 and are pretty standard: liquor, jewelry, Serenade Wear, perfume. The stores were never crowded and much of the logowear went 50% off on the last day of the cruise. These are pretty basic – again being a smaller ship these venues are suitable for their needs. Specialty Restaurants (2.9) The specialty restaurants included Rita’s cantina / Giovannis / Izumi Asian / Chops Grill and Café Latte-tudes which is a coffee house – We visted Rita’s Cantina and although the food was mediocre at best the service was slow and honestly the few dollar cover charge didn’t make for anything spectacular, the Lattitudes specialty coffee is always great to me as I am a big coffee consumer however the wait time was very disappointing – there always seemed to be a long line and only one service employee – definitely something RCCL needs to improve on – this is an additional cost of course but I seen just as many people walk away from the line as there were in line so in essence this was lost revenue for RCCL Staff (5.0) Like any cruise we have ever been on we certainly can identify with specific people and crew members and this cruise was no exception Michael Martin – Our room steward was excellent – always there when we needed him and always smiling and making sure we had everything we needed even when we told him we needed no special treatment he went above and beyond Moncef – Was our dining steward in the Windjammer and Mytime Dining He was beyond his professionalism – smiles and service was beyond our expectations this man is a definite asset to RCCL. He is the nicest person we have met on our cruise endeavors he was very personable and always smiling and even found time to stop us in the windjammer to see how we were doing and if there was anything he could do for us A+++ if any one travels on the Serenade ask for Moncef (He sort of resembles Dwayne Johnson “The Rock”) and is and exceptionally great person to be around. Shusant – The Chef in the Windjammer was always there to greet us in the mornings or afternoons smiling and ensuring our meals were top notch, again an absolute gentlemen and professional. Michael Martin – Our room steward was excellent – always there when we needed him and always smiling and making sure we had everything we needed, We even advised Michael we didn’t need any special treatment we were easy going yet he still went above and beyond. Aninke Van Antwerpen – The guest Services Officer Was beyond our expectations – She is absolutely wonderful – We only visited Guest Services a few times during our cruise but we always waited to ensure she was on duty and we could get her assistance even if it meant waiting longer in line and she would always smile and acknowledge when we were in line. All of these people exceeded our expectations and we hope RCCL will acknowledge their excellent work ethics and customer service – They truly our why we continue to cruise with RCCL Conversely and only to be fair, I will say overall the crew seemed to be over worked and looked extremely tired, rumor was Royal Laid off 300 Employees – Honestly with the type of revenue cruise lines make - I can’t see where cutting jobs adds to customer service. Hopefully this is not true but if it is RCCL may want to reconsider. Serenade Cruise and Activities Director (2.5) Based on other cruise directors onboard RCCL I rate this one a (2 out of 5) – although this may vary from passenger to passenger this is my opinion – It seemed to me that this cruise director (John Blair) had to force himself to smile – acknowledge passengers and or entertain the passengers, Now I don’t mean this is a terrible way – I mean this in a “Not a very personable person / his personality does not fit that of some of the cruise directors we have had on the past” the best being Allan Brooks or Joff Eaton. Now to sum it up, in the mornings when I seen him it appeared to me that he just woke up, dabbed some water on his hair put on the same Serenade of the Seas Sweat Shirt he wore the day before and pranced around the ship (hence the reason why I didn’t purchase one) and he wouldn’t make any eye contact with passengers unless the passengers reacted to him first. Now I am not saying he must engage with all passengers but the reality is, it’s his job to keep the entertainment alive on the ship not when it’s a convenience, and further I found it a little uncouth for him to have to mention in one announcement that his assistance was his wife, in my opinion that was TMI. The only real entertainment I seen from him was during the time he was trying to set up the Charity walk on the pool deck – it was a side show watching him and the others try to arrange tables and chairs during a windy day – again it seemed very unorganized but yet it was entertaining to say the least. The Serenade Ship (4.7) Overall the Serenade is a nice ship – It was well maintained and very clean – the only complaint I have which again is rare – was the crew was Wood Staining the Deck 5 hand rails and failed to put any signs up so passengers including myself would come out and naturally lean or hold onto the rail and yes you guessed it – either their clothes stuck to the rail or the varnish stuck to your skin. As aforementioned although the Serenade is a nice vessel we would be more prone to cruise on the Oasis or Freedom class ships from now on – this is our preference. If you enjoy a more intimate one on one ship and mixing and meeting with other cruise passengers and by far more personable the crew then this is absolutely the ship class for you, as I said we have never had bad experience on RCCL ships with the crew although bigger ships may be a little less personal with the crew members we always find a few stand outs that we get immediately attached too and vice versa. The one huge difference we missed on the Freedom Class Ships that the Radiance Class Ships don’t have is the “Promenade Deck” it makes the ship seem like so much more with a lot more room to move around and more people to meet. Overall I would give this cruise a 4.15 out of 5.0 this does not include the Port of New Orleans as I feel the Cruise Line has no control over this operation   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was a challenging cruise for us because my wife developed a raging cold in the middle of it. In retrospect, it was a very good test of the ship's staff, and how they deal with passengers who are under the weather - but not ... Read More
This was a challenging cruise for us because my wife developed a raging cold in the middle of it. In retrospect, it was a very good test of the ship's staff, and how they deal with passengers who are under the weather - but not contagious. For us, the staff of the Norwegian Pearl passed with flying colors. Elvina, our concierge, (who was always available) helped re-arrange our bookings when needed. The Shore Excursions desk helped change (and then cancel) excursions when it became obvious that my wife couldn't make it. Pablo, our room steward, asked me how my wife was doing every day, and he managed to work around us since we spent much more time in our cabin than usual. Room service brought pitchers of iced tea since she needed lots of fluids. Dr Santana and the medical staff took good care of her and prescribed antibiotics as required. (I have paid a lot of money to take my wife to the ER over the years, but I would much rather go to Deck 4 and have a Norwegian Cruise Lines team help her feel better. It's cheaper, too.) The Pearl team turned what could have been a really terrible vacation into one that was still quite enjoyable, even though we were incapacitated for parts of it. Some Random Thoughts This was an interesting cruise because it covered both Christmas and New Year's Eve. Unlike one earlier cruise over New Year's, when we arrived back in Miami on New Year's. this time, New Year's Day was our last sea day, so we didn't have to celebrate at midnight and then get off the ship first thing in the morning. Christmas was not as emphasized as on some earlier cruises (the music on the TV information channels wasn't all carols or Christmas music, for example) but the ship was still decorated for the holiday, and there were still carols sung in the atrium on Christmas Eve and Christmas. Boarding was as painless as could be hoped. We arrived early to the port, so we were in the second boarding group. The main dining room was open for lunch by the time we boarded, so we ate lunch and waited for the rooms to be ready. By the time we had finished, the rooms on our deck were ready, so we went to our room. Bags were delivered promptly, and I think we were unpacked before the lifeboat drill. An interesting note about the lifeboat drill on a longer cruise - the audience is older, and they all know the elevators will be turned off during the drill. There were a lot of early arrivals at the drill, including us. Some of us arrived before the staff. We docked at every port, so getting on and off the ship was easy. Since we were on ship-sponsored excursions, we gathered in the theater before being sent to the gangways. I'm pretty sure the only reason you have to go to the theater is to throttle the elevator traffic to deck four, and to pace the number of people getting off the ship. Disembarkation was relatively smooth, as well. Customs and Immigration went quickly, probably because we had priority disembarkation, so the line wasn't too bad. Get a porter in Miami. They can find shorter lines and they can get cabs for you quickly. We flew out of Fort Lauderdale, so we ended up spending a lot of time at the airport since we couldn't get an earlier flight home. Next time, we'll book an excursion to the airport to absorb some of the extra time. FLL is not the most exciting place to spend an afternoon. On-board, we were in an aft-facing handicap balcony mini-suite. The last time we were aft, we went forward for the sail-away party, but this time, we just stayed on our balcony, and watched Miami disappear into the sunset. (An aft-facing room is a great place to see the port as you're leaving.) Our first two days were sea days. While the Jewel-class ships are not as packed with entertainment options as the larger ships, they feel much cozier to me. Since we had been on the Pearl before (and on the Jewel), it was a bit of a homecoming - I felt like I knew where everything was already. As long as I can find the Java Cafe in the morning, I'm fine. I had an Express Shave in the spa, which is the one pampering ritual I have on-board, mainly to prepare for Christmas photos. My wife had a manicure. Her nails still look good, and I'm getting a scruffy beard, so hers may have been a better investment. St Thomas and St Kitts were islands we had visited before, so we found new excursions. We visited Coral World in St Thomas and took a cooking class (more of a demonstration) in St Kitts. In St Lucia, we went deep sea fishing (not catching.) In Curacao and Aruba, my wife wasn't feeling up to excursions, so we just wandered around town and went back to the ship. The sea days back to Miami were very relaxing. We had the Unlimited Dining Package (UDP), and booked all of our specialty restaurants in advance. The only hiccup was on Christmas Day, when we had reservations in La Cucina, but when we arrived, our reservations had been moved out an hour because they were serving the special Christmas dinner in the specialty restaurant as well to handle overflow from the main dining room. They had called to tell us, but the phone in our cabin was broken - the ringer did not work. (This also explained why I didn't hear our wake-up call. It was fixed promptly.) So, we had the Christmas dinner, rather than waiting for an hour to have Italian food. It was a good dinner - Beef Wellington, which I had not had before. Le Bistro, Cagney's and Moderno all lived up to our usual expectations. When we revisited La Cucina, the Italian food was great - try the Osso Buco. I think the Osso Buco is probably the best dish on the ship. Teppenyaki was fun as always, although I'm convinced they've squeezed more tables into the restaurant. It is the one place you are going to have to interact with other passengers at dinner, so if you're going Freestyle to avoid other people, go elsewhere. We've always had fun. The only issue with the UDP is that if you have free specialty dinners available - from your Latitudes status, for example - there is no way to cash in on them. You can't have additional free dinners if you have the UDP. We didn't really push the issue because we don't drink wine (which was included with our Latitudes free dinner) but it was an interesting revelation. We did cancel our reservations one night and just ordered room service, when my wife didn't feel like going out. The BLT is pretty good. Order two - they're not that big. I think this is the first cruise where we never ate in the main dining room, other than the first day lunch. The UDP will make you skip the dining rooms for the specialty restaurants. O'Sheehans is still being renovated to bring it up to the visual standards on the other ships, but the menu is the standard menu. It is a good place to grab a snack almost any time. They also serve breakfast in the mornings, including a breakfast buffet - which we didn't try. So, if you don't want to go to the buffet for breakfast, you can go here. Service there can be slow at times - they get slammed at fairly predictable intervals (in the morning, after each set of excursions return, when the shows let out) - but it is faster than room service. You can also ask for food to go, which is basically self-serve room service. I miss the Spinnaker Lounge when I'm on a ship that doesn't have one. It's a very nice space that's used for presentations, shows and during a sea day, it's a great place to watch the ocean go by. The Mojito Tasting was a lot of fun. I had attended Scotch tastings and beer tastings on other cruises which tried to give some history, but I think the bar staff has learned people don't pay much attention to the educational portions. This was really just a tasting with some history to start - five different (small) Mojitos. Apple Mojitos are pretty tasty. The margarita tasting was immediately after the Mojito tasting, but I wisely skipped it. (The ship has a Mojito bar by Moderno, but we never made it there.) Capt. Paul and HD Tony were very visible (and friendly) and we seemed to run into Joel, the Cruise Director and Joey, his assistant, constantly. Go to the Q&A sessions. There is usually one for the Hotel side of the house and one for the technical side. You will hear some of the same questions over and over, but you will learn something. In all, this was a very good cruise - and one of the longest we have taken at 11 days. I liked the mix of sea days and port days, although I know that's a function of geography more than planning. Because my wife was under the weather, we didn't get to do everything we had planned, but the staff made sure we enjoyed the time we had on-board. A bad day cruising is still better than a good day at work! Cruise Critic Note We had a Cruise Critic meet & greet which was attended by senior staff and over thirty fellow cruisers. Tony, our Hotel Director, mentioned at that meeting that he wanted to have a follow-up meeting with all the Cruise Critic members on the last sea day before disembarked to make sure there weren't any issues that needed to be addressed. I had not heard of a follow-up meeting before, although someone mentioned they had attended one on another ship. I appreciated his efforts, and he did address (or tried to address) all of the compliments and complaints he received at the follow-up. I think some of the issues could have been raised earlier, but he did take each one seriously, and I appreciated that he asked us to come back and report on any problems we had. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My wife and I cruised on the Norwegian Star over New Year's 2015. I read all of the reviews before the cruise. I have to say the Star is in excellent shape, it is a beautiful ship. This was our 8th cruise overall, the 3rd on NCL, we ... Read More
My wife and I cruised on the Norwegian Star over New Year's 2015. I read all of the reviews before the cruise. I have to say the Star is in excellent shape, it is a beautiful ship. This was our 8th cruise overall, the 3rd on NCL, we sailed on the Breakaway and the Epic before. The Star was just as good, if not better for many reasons. I have to assume that the negative comments some people posted had to have been related to some individual bad experiences, because I saw no stained carpets, no outdated things, etc that some people wrote about. Even though the cruise was full, you didn't get the sense of overcrowding on this ship like you do on some of the larger mega ships, it was perfect size for the amount of people aboard. As with all NCL cruises, I would recommend the Ultimate Dining Package, the food in those restaurants are EXCELLENT. If you don't get it, then you have to wait in lines for the main dining room or buffet, where the food also is kind of mediocure at times. But NCL's specialty restaurants definitely beat the food on Princess or other lines we have been on. The cruise director Ian on this ship is the best ever, he is everywhere, i don't know how he does it. Really good attitude and they put in some nice personal touches on this ship that i didn't see on other NCL cruises, such as a thank you performance by the crew at the end, which was a really nice touch. The entertainment in general was very good. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We did back to back weeks during Christmas/New Year's 2014-2015 in the Caribbean out of San Juan. We had been on the Summit before. Somehow, the ship's infrastructure has declined considerably. The plumbing was malfunctioning ... Read More
We did back to back weeks during Christmas/New Year's 2014-2015 in the Caribbean out of San Juan. We had been on the Summit before. Somehow, the ship's infrastructure has declined considerably. The plumbing was malfunctioning continually, creating a pervasive odor on many decks. While we had a good time and enjoyed ourselves, we have to remark that this ship needs extensive refurbishment. The staff was usually great. However, the wait staff in the main dining room needs polish and additional training. Rarely did we have a complete set of flatware and glassware. Although they were eager to please, it seemed that setting a table is beyond their training. Other than a dinner fork or salad fork, we rarely got the correct implement on the first try: example- no cocktail forks for the shrimp cocktail without delays until they could find one upon request. And while that may seem trifling, not getting a teaspoon for the coffee without asking is irritating. Getting a paper cup of espresso from the coffee bar at dinner because the coffee bar would not let its china cups into the dining room was hilarious. Nor could the waiter envision taking a dining room cup to be filled at the coffee bar. Having to ask for a steak knife for steak was a chore. Reaching across a table to refill a water glass rather than walking around to fill it was interesting table etiquette. Having to get up and ask for coffee refills or raising one's hand because the staff will not check if you want a refill ...every single meal ....was not understandable. Not the end of the world, but...Sorry, that is not fine dining. We did an African safari in tented camps where the Masai managed to set the table correctly and served beautifully. So why not a cruise ship?   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014

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