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Sail Date: December 2014
My wife and I travelled with our family - children and grandchildren - we had cruised before but none of the others had.  The cruise was terrific in that the grandchildren were well catered for - food, entertainment, port activities - but ... Read More
My wife and I travelled with our family - children and grandchildren - we had cruised before but none of the others had.  The cruise was terrific in that the grandchildren were well catered for - food, entertainment, port activities - but you MUST remember to take you own reef shoes, goggles, snorkel and flippers - thankfully they did.  The adults enjoyed the experience and the benefits of cruising life - including the kids club and kids entertainment/activities.  Our reading said the ship had a re-furb in 2011 - our daughter suggested it was a 'soft' re-refurb as there were parts of the ship that still looked 'tired'.  Staff were polite and reasonably friendly but seemed to lack the 'zest' for their jobs - it was like they were going through the motions.  Having said that we were super impressed by our waiters in the Cascades Restaurant - they were brilliant - they were patient with the children and attentive, knowledgeable and courteous with the adults.  The same could not be said for the fee-for restaurant Chops Grille - the meal was quite good but the service left a lot to be desired, mainly due to being short staffed, very short staffed - I had no qualms about tipping in Cascades but didn't even consider it in Chops - give it the Chop.  We had anytime dining but because of the size of the group were able to secure a regular time slot but our observations were that there was always a wait to be seated if you didn't have a booking - no matter what size your party was - at better choice may have been set time where the dining room/area seemed to be slightly better - but we did have the best waiters/servers you could ask for.  My wife and I continually compared this cruise with the cruises aimed at the adult market and we did find that it didn't compare but we were there for a family holiday and in that sense - mission accomplished. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
* This is my 4th cruise, 2 with Royal Carribbean and 2 with Norwegian * First time staying in a Studio Cabin, it was a great space for me with lots of storage. If you're claustrophobic you won't like it. If you are a large ... Read More
* This is my 4th cruise, 2 with Royal Carribbean and 2 with Norwegian * First time staying in a Studio Cabin, it was a great space for me with lots of storage. If you're claustrophobic you won't like it. If you are a large person you won't fit or will be extremely uncomfortable in the stand up shower nor in the separate toilet area. * My cabin number was 10523, this cabin was very noisy due to a design/engineering flaw. The black water pipe along with other systems are located right next to this cabin and you will hear a constant crashing/thunder type sound. This noise goes on all day long, overtime someone flushed the toilet or uses the water system. It's terribly loud. The room attendant and maintenence staff are very aware of this issue and there is nothing they can do. Avoid this room. I did bring it to managements attention and they acted as if they were surprised (but everyone else knew about it), they did offer to change my room among other things to ensure that I was satisfied. My only disappointment was that I had to escalate the issue all the way to the Guest Services manager and also not take no for an answer. I believe that customers shouldn't have to go through layers in order to be heard or have a known issue rectified. That was a little insulting to me. The issue was finally rectified to my satisfaction and I did enjoy the cruise. DO NOT STAY IN THIS ROOM. 10527 was also very noisy. * The Solo director Sharon was fantastic at organizing different activities and ensuring that we fit in all the shows and free dining areas. She is very flexible and can pretty much organize anything that the group would like to do. * Anything that you book in advance can be switched around if you decide to do the activities with the group. * I travelled from Dec 20th to the 27th. The boat was more than full, with large groups, a lot of children and families. It was virtually impossible to get early reservations at the restaurants. This was a problem especially for those that bought the dining package. Teppanyaki must definitely be booked in advance. We were not able to get in for the entire 7 days. * The food in all of the restaurants was good. I was not fond of the Garden Cafe (buffet) but i'm not a fan of buffets overall. I would say the best restaurants were Moderno the Brazilian Steak House and Cagney's. For some reason I didn't really have a lot of seafood on this ship there seemed to be more steak offerings. * Burn the floor is an amazing show!! 2 thumbs up. Legally Blonde was good too. To be honest, all the shows were good and a great night out. * Getting on and off the vessel was fast and organized. * The B.O.S.S underwater adventure in St-Thomas was an amazing experience and I'm not a strong swimmer. The ATV excursion in St-Maarten was smooth and easy. The Blue Lagoon beach break in Nassau was very relaxing and the lagoon beach was beautiful with clear water. * The pool and hot tubs were always filled with children, even the 18+ areas. * This is a great boat for children, with Nickelodeon characters, 5 water slides, arcade, teen club, splash pad, mini golf, bball court and more. * The Gym was small and always packed. They need a bigger gym. There was no floor space to exercise and the wait time was very long for the equipment. Overall the ship was amazing and I would definitely go on this ship again. It's spacious and has an infinite amount of things to do. You really cannot do everything in 7 days. Initially I was worried about having 3 sea days but they go by really quickly. The staff as usual was fun and ensured that you had a great stay. I saw a few familiar faces from the Norwegian Sky. This is my first time experiencing a completely full boat in addition to traveling during peak season. I made a wise decision to stay in the studio area as there were no children allowed and the general area was very quiet in addition to having access to a nice lounge with great espresso. The boat in general during this time had a lot of children, it was hard to book excursions and restaurants and the elevators were always full and took a while to get to you. Just a few things to think about when booking during peak periods.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
We surprised our grand daughters (whom we are raising) with this as their Christmas present! Emma, age 16 and MC age 8 were ecstatic! We were on our 25th cruise, but only the third with Carnival. Years ago, we went on two short cruises on ... Read More
We surprised our grand daughters (whom we are raising) with this as their Christmas present! Emma, age 16 and MC age 8 were ecstatic! We were on our 25th cruise, but only the third with Carnival. Years ago, we went on two short cruises on Carnival's older, smaller ships, and were not impressed by comparison to the Royal Caribbean and Princess cruises we had previously gone on. BUT, since the four of us could drive, thus savings $$$ in airfare, and because the Dream was so much larger and newer, we thought we'd give it a try. We had a great time, the girls loved their various activities, MC wanted to go to Camp Carnival every day. Emma was shy about going to Club O2 by herself the first night, but then met a few kids, and they ran around together in a pack all week. We had a very good cabin steward, he was in there at least twice daily, keeping the ice bucket filled, bringing us fresh beach towels, robes, and anything else we requested. Our main dining room servers were super friendly, remembering us by name each night. The food was typical cruise ship quality, mostly very good with a few exceptions each night. We were surpised to see that Carnival still serves lobster and escargot, and some other "fancy" foods that some of the lines had cut out. We dined one night at the Chef's Table steakhouse, and it was superb. Emma ordered lobster and it came with not one, but three tails! The desserts were to die for. We thought the production shows were good, but not over the top. The dancers were talented, the male singer was quite good, female just OK. And, yes, "family friendly" is a matter of opinion...a lot of sexy dancing in very skimpy costumes. The entertainment around the ship was sub-par, the singers in the atrium were pretty terrible and they were LOUD. We didn't care for the comedian either. I don't understand why, what with all the fantastic talent out there, the cruise line would hire such marginal acts. We did Faster to the Fun, and would do it again...for 50.00 for the whole group it makes embarkation a whole lot easier, and, on the last night, we went down to guest services and there were about 30 people in line but the FTTF line had only two ahead of us. There was a lot of smoking on this ship, the whole deck five around the casino area reeked of it. The kids loved the water slides, the mini golf, and we all watched a "Dive'In" movie, that was pretty special! All in all, a good cruise for our family, but if it was just the two of us, Carnival would not be my pick. This ship was VERY crowded and we like a more elegant atmosphere. (They actually announced in the dining room, that, on "elegant" night, men were not allowed to wear flip flops and wife-beaters, and no ball caps!) One other tip: If you are driving to the port, park at the Fulton Street garage, it was less than half of the price of the one at the port! It is only two blocks away, and they have a shuttle bus with porters to help with your luggage.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
We were on the “notorious” Christmas Markets in Amsterdam Cruise on MS Queen Elizabeth. This was our first cruise, chosen so that we could sample the Cunard experience. The ship could not dock in Amsterdam as planned due to adverse ... Read More
We were on the “notorious” Christmas Markets in Amsterdam Cruise on MS Queen Elizabeth. This was our first cruise, chosen so that we could sample the Cunard experience. The ship could not dock in Amsterdam as planned due to adverse weather conditions. Complaints from just five passengers were the basis of a Daily Mail report which stated, “Around 2,100 passengers on board the Queen Elizabeth were furious at the decision to turn back”. This claim that all passengers were furious is an utter lie. The photograph of the so-called mutiny at Reception shows less than 30 people, around 1% of the 2,100 passengers. We were completely unaware of the demonstration at the time and certainly would have avoided it if we did. So, what was our view of the cruise? We liked the service and food. That in the Britannia Restaurant was very good; our special meal in the Verandah Restaurant was absolutely superb. Our basic inner State Room was well-appointed and spotless and our steward was very helpful and friendly. We enjoyed lectures by Martin Bell and Michael Whitehouse plus entertainment by The Beatles Experience. However the “Royal” Cunard Singers and Dancers were not our favourites. We disliked all extras being charged in US dollars. Charges were fairly expensive anyway and more so due to tourist exchange rates offered by banks and credit cards. I disliked the sale of low-cost ex-demonstration watches on board, which I thought cheapened Cunard’s brand image. We did notice the unpleasant smell of oil in the Golden Lion Pub. We do not know whether this was diesel or heavy fuel oil, but neither aroma goes well with your pie and a pint. Of course we were disappointed when Captain Alistair Clark announced that the ship could not dock at Amsterdam, but we accepted that this was due to bad weather. Perhaps the ship could have made it into the port but not sailed in time when the weather worsened, thus delaying the lucrative Christmas Cruise to the Canaries that followed ours. Who knows? In any event we were satisfied with the Captain’s announcements and pleasantly surprised when 75 dollars per person was deducted from everyone’s on-board bill. Our Clot of the Cruise award goes to the Entertainments Officer. On the morning that we did not dock in Amsterdam his TV programme welcomed us to Amsterdam and warned us to take umbrellas on shore due to the weather forecast. Maybe this stupid error contributed to the “mutiny”. We have learned two lessons on this cruise: 1. Do not believe anything you read in the Daily Mail. 2. Give P & O a chance next time.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
We have just returned from our Christmas Cruise on Queen Victoria to Madeira and the Canary Islands. We travelled to Southampton the day before and stayed at the Meon Valley Marriott Hotel. This included a nights stay and car parking for ... Read More
We have just returned from our Christmas Cruise on Queen Victoria to Madeira and the Canary Islands. We travelled to Southampton the day before and stayed at the Meon Valley Marriott Hotel. This included a nights stay and car parking for the duration of the cruise, transfer to and from the ship and the cost was £70 per person. A lovely Hotel and golf complex. The first day at sea was very rocky across the bay of biscay and 3 out of 4 of us were very unwell. We did get some bands and sea sickness pills from reception which thankfully helped. The ship is very elegant and especially so at Christmas. Food in the Britannia restaurant was good and we used it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Service on Cunard is very good and much better than a lot of other ships. The first 3 days were at sea until we arrived in Madeira. This is a lovely island that we had been to before and really enjoy. We did our own thing here and it was easy to get a taxi. Our driver charged $20 each and took the 4 of us to Monte Gardens which is well worth a visit (very hilly) we spent an hour and a half there and then the taxi took us to the ride in the basket down 2k of steep hilly roads.It was great and at the bottom we purchased a photo taken halfway down for just 10 euros. We were met again by our taxi and taken on a lovely ride to the other side of the island to a new viewing point where you stand on glass very high above the cliffs. Then on to a lovely fishing village where Winston Churchill stayed and did a lot of his paintings. We returned to the ship after about 5 hours. This was a great way to see a lot more of the island and far less expensive than the ships tours. Tenerife was the next port and we did do the ships tour to Loro Parque. Again we had been there before but enjoy it each time especially the penquins and sea life shows. La Palma is a very small island and here we did our own thing and just wandered around the town and sea front which are only a few minutes walk from the ship. Lanzarote was to be the next port of call however, according to the captain the wind was too strong to get us into port safely although 2 other ships had beaten us to it. So another day at sea. La Coruna in Spain was the last port of call. Here we did a ships tour to Santiago de Compostillo. About an hour in the coach to this very old Spanish City that is a pilgrimage site 3rd only to Jerusalem and Lourdes. Very rough again across that wretched bay but the bands and pills did there job! The entertainment on the ship was very good. The Singers and dancers in the theatre were brilliant and I would go as far as to say the best we have ever seen on a ship. The Opera Boys were wonderful and 3 girls from west end shows were great. There was always something to do during the days at sea and 2 of us did the Watercolour Art classes which although not very good at it I really enjoyed and went to five 2 hour classes. Patricia was a great teacher. The evenings in the Queens room were a little disappointing as they had an American singer who sang dreary jazz type songs and we found it boring but that was just our opinion. It is wonderful to have a full size dance floor on a ship. Don't dance but love to watch. Now for the gripes - The price of photos was the highest we've ever seen. $34.99 for formal evening photos and $24.99 for all the others. Didn't buy any. The most annoying thing of all was the lectures about Concorde had been really great and we had seen 3 of them. We were looking forward to the last one which should have been on the last sea day and was to be about the crash and the reasons behind taking it out of service. It wasn't shown! No explanation and despite several enquiries including to the entertainment manager who looked suprised when we asked (surely she is in charge) I told her it was like reading a book and finding the last chapter ripped out. Most annoying. It was a good "voyage" as Cunard prefer to call it but 7 days at sea out of 12 rather too many. We met some lovely people and enjoyed our Christmas break. Lastly, on arriving at Southampton we should have disembarked in groups according to your luggage label colour and ours was 9am. However, there was an announcement that there was a 20 minute delay and that was actually an hour with no explanation whatsoever. People were getting very twitchy with taxis booked etc and would have understood the situation had been explained. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Royal Caribbean is still our preferred cruise line. However, Explorer of the Seas is in need of some attention and it is my understanding that the ship will go in for enhancements starting early spring. But, in general, the entertainment ... Read More
Royal Caribbean is still our preferred cruise line. However, Explorer of the Seas is in need of some attention and it is my understanding that the ship will go in for enhancements starting early spring. But, in general, the entertainment was very good, the food on par and the staff attentive. For some reason, we were not required to check-in/out towels which caused two problems. One, is you didn't know if someone was coming back to a chair or not and two, the pool deck looked very sloppy with all the used towels laying around the deck. We will continue to cruise on RCI, but will make sure the ship is one of the top three classes and that the ship is not too old or has had enhancements. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Never knew there was such a group as Cruise Critic even though we have sailed before. My Son found the group and I must say it has made our trip so much more enjoyable. Thank you, Marcia, our fearless leader! It was such fun doing the ... Read More
Never knew there was such a group as Cruise Critic even though we have sailed before. My Son found the group and I must say it has made our trip so much more enjoyable. Thank you, Marcia, our fearless leader! It was such fun doing the Secret Santa. Met so many Canadians too. One of the best thing was when on the ship we met members of the CC while walking along or eating etc and it made us feel that we had a family on board. Although there were four of us, it was ever so nice to be on excursions with fellow Members. We met many lovely people and are going to socialise with a lovely couple who lives in the same City. I must say that we had a great time with our guide, Rey with Ricky Ricardo in Costa Rica. He was simply marvellous, tried so very hard to show us all he could and he remembered our likes too. For example I lamented that it was a pity we couldn't visit an orchard farm, he stopped at a house and asked for a couple of orchid flowers just for me! Nest were Andy & Jorge from Cave Tubing Company in Belize. Andy was charming while Jorge the strong silent type was very knowledgeable especially in the rain forest. Had a great time and thanks for the pics, Susan! Other excursions were interesting but these two stood out with that personal touch.   So, I have finally registered myself with CC and am looking forward to receiving and reading all info from Members. Thanks! X X X Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
Thomson Majesty – (Old Smokey) Sailed on the Majesty from 19th to 26th December - Canary Islands. We joined the ship in Tenerife but unfortunately several hundred other passengers arrived at the same time as flights all came in ... Read More
Thomson Majesty – (Old Smokey) Sailed on the Majesty from 19th to 26th December - Canary Islands. We joined the ship in Tenerife but unfortunately several hundred other passengers arrived at the same time as flights all came in together, so we had a long wait to be processed before embarking on the ship, complimentary refreshments were offered to those waiting in line. First impressions of the ship was not a wow, but it seemed clean although dated and in need of upgrade. We paid extra for an outside cabin on Deck 8 and it was the smallest cabin we have every been in, even the toilet and shower area was extremely small, with no bathroom cabinet or shelves for toiletries. Wardrobe space was sparse with no space for shoes. No fridge. The room however was clean and housekeeping could not be faulted, other than she folded our wet towels and placed them back on the shelf when we had left them hanging up to dry off. When we first started cruising with Thomson the safe deposit box in the cabin was free, however it now costs £15 per week. Self service buffet on Deck 10 was disappointing, little choice of food, salads pre plated in cereal bowls and “hot” food was usually luke warm. Breakfast was the best meal of the day with the egg station offering fresh omlettes, waffles and pancakes, however this was suspended during the week due to norovirus outbreak. We attended one gala, formal evening and were disappointed with the meal as it appeared to have been pre-plated and then reheated. Nothing really special about the meal other than passengers made the effort and dressed up. Waiters seemed to be rushing us through and we had to ask for coffee after waiting quite a while after our meal. Entertainment was typical Thomson, and I say that as someone who enjoys the entertainment on Thomson cruises, however the standard on the Majesty was not as good as we have experienced on Celebration or Spirit. The entertainment team on the Majesty were not as approachable and friendly as we have experienced on other Thomson ships. Sun loungers were marked with black soot from the ships funnels and this marked clothing if you did not notice or did not wipe the sun loungers before sitting on them. There always seemed to be really dark smoke spewing out of the funnels. The general ambience of the Majesty was poor and only saved by the fellow passengers who were friendly and always up for a chat. If this had been my first cruise I would have been very disappointed and would have been put off cruising. Would we sail on Thomson Majesty again, no, but we would sail with Thomson again on the Celebration or Spirit. We would also be open to trying The Dream at some time in the future. Thomson Cruises offer value for money, are British based in their clientelle, food choice and entertainment and they do not charge daily gratuities so we would recommend Thomson Cruises for those who do not want to share the ship with 3,000 other passengers and listen to announcements in 3 different languages before paying daily gratuties and 15% service charge on every drink you buy. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
This was our second cruise with Royal Caribbean, but our first from Australia. We have previously done a European Cruise on a Voyager Class and a trans Pacific with Celebrity Cruises. Boarding was straight forward, we arrived at about 1pm ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Royal Caribbean, but our first from Australia. We have previously done a European Cruise on a Voyager Class and a trans Pacific with Celebrity Cruises. Boarding was straight forward, we arrived at about 1pm and only had to queue for about 5-10 minutes to check in, but the line was moving constantly. Passport control was straightforward and we found ourselves on the ship in no time. Rooms were available when we boarded so we went to check out our cabin. We had booked an aft corner balcony 8168 on deck 8, and it was fantastic. It is a normal balcony room on the inside, but the balcony itself is at least twice the width and half as deep again as a standard balcony. It is set up with 2 lounges as well as 2 chairs and a table. It was great sitting here on sea days watching the wake, and seeing the Islands slide by. The only negative would be that because it doesn't have much of an overhang above, it's quite exposed to the elements, so it got very wet when it rained and quite hot on sunny days. Our cabin attendant was fantastic, very friendly and new our names right away. He did great towel animals too :) We had my time dining, and with just the 2 of us we were always able to get a table with only a few minutes wait. We usually ate at about 7pm most nights when we went. I had heard from other people they were having issues getting seated but we personally didn't have an issue. We tried all of the specialty dining except chefs table, and as a whole enjoyed it, although I found the quality of the paid restaurants is no longer so much better than the main dining room, so found the extra fee a little steep. I probably wouldn't go to them again next cruise unless I had OBC. They have also recently changed the menus and they are much smaller than I remember. I found the General layout of this class ship confusing, I know it's a smaller ship than Voyager class but I found the shops area very cluttered, the flow of people around the ship very restricted and some things plain hidden away. For example the pub could only be accessed from midship by walking through the casino, Rita's Crabshack and Izumi were wedged up the back of the windjammer and you had to walk through them to get to the outside seating for windjammer. But then they have a huge space for a hotdog stand and another restaurant on an upper deck where you have to go outside to reach. I much prefer the layout of Voyager. Entertainment I found pretty good, I enjoyed going to the different trivia but did sometimes find them scheduled at a time when most people were at dinner. Martin was a fantastic trivia host, but there was an American guy who sometimes did it and I didn't like his style. And I often found the questions very American at times, even though there were only 200 non Australians on board. I also found the lack of a good communal space difficult for some events, on Voyager there is the ice rink area, on Radiance anything large was done in the colony club which only has a small amount of seating near the central area, otherwise you are sitting quite far back with lots of columns and balustrades in the way, it made participating in lots of things impossible. Ports were very good, I loved all the islands and we just organised our own thing in each port, which was very easy to do. Just make sure to bring your own snorkel equipment if this is what you want to do. The day we were at mystery island it was horrible weather and the crew did a great job of putting on extra activities to cater for most people staying on board. On a whole I enjoyed this cruise very much, there were some minor things wrong but nothing to ruin a holiday. I would cruise on Radiance again but I do prefer the Voager class a little more. But the things I didn't like about Raidiance is probably the things another person would love, it's just a personal preference I guess. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
Navigator of the Seas, December 21 – 28, 2014 Route: Seven day cruise: Galveston-Cozumel-George Town-Falmouth-Galveston. 1. General Comments: A pleasant Christmas cruise. We are regular cruisers and were last on this ship in August. ... Read More
Navigator of the Seas, December 21 – 28, 2014 Route: Seven day cruise: Galveston-Cozumel-George Town-Falmouth-Galveston. 1. General Comments: A pleasant Christmas cruise. We are regular cruisers and were last on this ship in August. Purpose of this cruise was to just RELAX. We booked a junior suite on the ninth deck. Details below. We also used “My Time Dining,” and it worked despite a hiccup (below). The entire top level of the three level dining room was for this type of dining. We had the same wait staff for the entire week. Ordering “gifts” on the RCL website for the cruise were hit-and-miss. First, orders cannot be made totally on-line. You look at the website and either phone an 800 number, or print off an order form and fax it to RCL. Our order for a bottle of champagne to be served in the dining room on a specific day worked perfectly. Our order for a two-foot tall Christmas tree from the flower section of the website went no-where. In my first phone call, the clerk could not bring up the item on her computer screen. She finally gave up and told me to try later. In my second call a few days later, a different clerk was able to bring up the tree on his screen, but then he put me on hold. On his return, he told me the tree was “sold out.” Our cruise agent was equally unsuccessful to make an order. Our assumption is that the little tree was not available in Galveston, and RCL just did not want to admit that it could not supply it. 2. Embarking: We left our Galveston hotel at 10:30. Despite detour traffic throughout downtown due to a walk/race in progress, dropping my wife and bags at the terminal, parking the car, taking a shuttle, getting through security, and checking in, we were on board around 12:15 and in our cabin by 1pm. Suitcases appeared at our door before 2pm. 3. The Navigator of the Seas: The junior suite is the way to go. Plenty of space, and plenty of storage space, including a walk-in closet. Suitcases fit well under the bed. A tub shower in the bathroom. The cabin has a small safe and a small refrigerator (never used it). There is a TV that receives movies, CNN (International only), ESPN, shipboard activities, and other channels. You get a daily planner in your cabin the night prior. You need to read it carefully as there are very few announcements on the PA system. While you get a daily planner, there is no newspaper. You have to get your news from the TV. It takes a while to get a handle on what is where on the ship. Maps and interactive “help” panels are at each elevator lobby. There is a large children/teens area and programs for them. 4. Meals: Food in the Windjammer buffet - which almost everyone uses for breakfast and lunch - is good. There are plenty of choices at both meals, and you can eat as much or as little as you want. It is a bit hurried, though, and not a place for a slow meal. The dining room’s food was good but not imaginative. The Christmas turkey dinner was fine, but certainly nothing special. We only used the dining room for dinner, although it is available with open seating at breakfast and lunch. Food portions are of respectable size, and if you don’t try to eat all the courses everyday, you should not do bad weight-wise. Wine steward duties were handled by our assistant waiter. This meant having to tell him what we wanted by the item number on the wine menu. Arranging My Time Dining on-line was a pain. For the longest time, the dining page on the RCL website did not work. The website posted an apology; even our cruise agent was only told that there were “computer problems.” Only on December 10 was our agent able to get My Time Dining time for us – 6:30 – as our requested time of 7PM was not available (!). We were advised to try to change the time after boarding. We did, and the staff person handling the times very quickly and efficiently adjusted our reservations to the closer time of 7:15. That this could not be handled on-line remains a puzzle. We had made reservations on-line for the Izumi specialty restaurant. A very pleasant meal with good tempura and sushi. There are other food outlets around the ship as well as a goodly number of bars including a pub, and a wine shop. You cannot go hungry or thirsty. 5. Dressing for meals: For this seven day trip it was two formal, and all the rest casual. Formal attire for men appears to be defined by age: seniors are in tuxes or suits; next generation is in jackets and maybe a tie; youngest generation is in pants, shirt, and tennies. Maybe it’s time for RCL to drop the “formal” category. 6. Fellow Passengers: As this was a Christmas cruise, the ship was full (over 3,500 passengers). There were many large multi-generation family groups, both from the US and Latin America. There were a few announcements reminding parents they were responsible for their children’s behavior, indicating there were some issues. 7. Shore Excursions: A word of advice: make your shore excursion reservations on-line! Otherwise you will either have to use the not-so-user-friendly on board TV system to make your reservations or stand in line at the excursion counter. The on-line billing goes direct on your credit card and not on your shipboard account. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you don’t need the ship’s tour office. RCL’s tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through RCL, you have support when there is a problem, eg, the ship will wait for you if the tour is delayed. As the captain announced, “Be on time. If you are not, you will be able to take that rare photo of the departing ship.” As we have been to these ports before, we only poked around the pier areas and otherwise enjoyed the quiet ship. We were six ships in Cozumel, and we were another six ships anchored at George Town. George Town was especially crowded with cruise passengers. We were the only ship in Falmouth. 8. Shipboard entertainment: The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes including the surf rider, the rock climbing wall and the ice skating rink. We did not see any of the shows. The casino was of good size and the payoffs did not seem to be much worse than Las Vegas. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to have your picture taken by the ship’s photographers--pricey, but a good souvenir. There are various venues for night owls. Sing-alongs with Phil Anderson in the Schooner Bar are always popular with C&W fans. The former separate library and card room are now merged into one, resulting in many card and domino games being played and very few books on the shelves. Want to read on this ship? Bring your own material. 9. Tipping: Not a problem if you sign up for the recommended amounts (for cabin steward, waiter, asst waiter, and head waiter). The amounts are charged to your shipboard account, and the tips are taken care of electronically with the staff. If you use My Time Dining, you will be billed the full tip amount when you book your cruise. You only need to tip separately (cash) the person who brings you room service. Your bar bill automatically adds 15 percent. 10. Settling of Accounts: During your cruise, anything you purchase on board is punched into a computer; you sign one copy of the ticket and you receive a copy. You can track your account on the ship’s TV channel. On Sunday morning you receive a paper final statement of your account. 11. Disembarking: On Saturday you will receive luggage tags with numbers. You also receive a sheet of paper telling when that number will be called for disembarking and where you have to be waiting in order to hear the announcement when your number can leave the ship. Your bags have to be out by 11PM, breakfast is early, and you have to be out of your cabin by around 8:30 and in your designated waiting area. Again, you will only hear the announcements in the waiting areas. This cruise turned out to have the fastest disembarkation we have ever gone through in Galveston. We left our departure waiting lounge at 8:40 (20 minutes early) and were out of the customs and immigration hall with our bags at 9:20. We drove out of the parking lot at 9:35. Texas Taxes: After going through immigration and customs, we did stop at the Texas TABC table to declare our one bottle of booze. We paid $3.75 ($3 administrative fee and 75 cents tax), received a tax sticker for the bottle and were on our way. 12. If anyone has questions, send me an e-mail at LTC519@satx.rr.com. Fred Groth San Antonio, TX   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
We were on the 7 day Holiday cruise on celebrity Reflection.. As expected the ship went out full so there were lots of family groups, all ages and nationalities. The children were well behaved, there seemed to be lots of activities ... Read More
We were on the 7 day Holiday cruise on celebrity Reflection.. As expected the ship went out full so there were lots of family groups, all ages and nationalities. The children were well behaved, there seemed to be lots of activities organised for them. in general the ship was well prepared for sailing at full capacity. We did not have to queue long at any bar. Since Celebrity no longer have trays in Oceanview cafe buffet, there were not lines either at any food station as you can only fit so much food on one plate! Crew were pleasant and helpful, there was a lovely spirited atmosphere on deck 14 around the pools and the sun beds were quite close to each other. However the pool butlers were doing a good job in removing towels from vacated sun beds and there were plenty of quiet spots on deck 15 away from the loud music and party atmosphere around the 2 pools. Food in Blu was really good and we had an exceptional meal in sine though we were a party of 2. Our choices were scaled down in proportion so we did not overeat and chose 6/7 dishes. We also ate in Murano on a formal night and loved it though we preferred Qsine overall. We did not try Tuscan grille as we'd both indulged enough with the New york Strip in Blu restaurant on a night we didn't fancy any of the Entree options. The gym was overcrowded at peak times, and so were the fitness classes/zumba, but all in all we had a lovely time. 7 days on a crowded boat was enough though, however good it was! We only did the island tour in St Maarten which was very interesting and gave us time to explore the beach and shopping streets on the dutch side when we returned to the ship. Entertainment onboard was varied and quite good. the aerial acrobatics are excellent Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
My husband & I just got home from our Viking Christmas Rhine Cruise. We're experienced travelers in our 60s who used to do most of our European travel by train, limit our itinerary to 3 cities at most & stay at least 2 nights ... Read More
My husband & I just got home from our Viking Christmas Rhine Cruise. We're experienced travelers in our 60s who used to do most of our European travel by train, limit our itinerary to 3 cities at most & stay at least 2 nights in each city to minimize packing & unpacking. However now that we're older my husband wants to take more cruises because the tour companies handle luggage & airport transfers for us. This was our 1st Viking cruise. (A yr & a half ago we took a Tauck French Art cruise. The price for our Viking cruise was much less than the Tauck cruise.) Overall our Viking cruise was enjoyable & went smoothly, but there were a few things that could have been improved. We took a 3 day Brugges, Belgium extention, which began when we landed in Brussels. Unfortunately no one was at the airport when we arrived to take us to Brugges. We waited 45 mins. & the driver eventually showed up, said he was in a traffic jam due to rain & apologized. When we arrived at our hotel, the Duke's Palace (a real Medieval palace in the center of Brugges) at 11 am. they said our room wouldn't be ready until 3 pm. They had a rigid policy & refused to let us go on a waiting list if a room became available. We were exhausted from our flight, but we knew of a nearby reastaurant, Lizzies that serves excellent waffles, so we had lunch. Then we returned to the hotel lobby around 12 noon & met up with 3 other couples from our tour. We got acquainted & then commiserated about having to wait so long for our rooms. Eventually all 4 couples fell asleep in the hotel lobby on the sofas & armchairs. In all other respects the hotel was very nice including their bar & restaurant. Finally at around 2:45 pm 4 rms became available all at once. The hotel clerk tried to give us a room opposite an elevator, but the desk manager eventually found us a new room. It was nice with copies of old Flemish portraits & had a hi-tech bathroom with a huge shower. So we fell asleep, caught up with our jet lag then had dinner nearby later. The 2nd day an excellent guide took us on a walking tour of Brugges & the following was a free day. The last day we were loaded on a bus with an amusing guide who told us all about Belguim & Holland. We arrived in Amsterdam at the Bragi around 5 pm, so we didn't get to do any Amsterdam sightseeing, but we were tired, so it didn't matter. The weather was unseasonably warm, in the 40s & down around the 30s for the rest of the cruise, except when we were in the Black Forest on Christmas Day when there was a pretty snowfall. The passengers were a mixture of people on their 1st European trip & travel veterans. The majority were in their 60s, but there were a few college-aged, some as old as their 80s & a few disabled people traveling with family members. (Viking does a excellent job of accomodating for the elderly & disabled.) I would guess that most passengers were middle & upper-middle class with a good number of teachers, college professors, ex-military & civil servants. Since the theme of the cruise was Christmas Markets we visted cities with markets & took walking tours of Cologne, Heidelburg, Strasbourg & an optional tour to Colmar. Along the way we saw castles on the Rhine. Viking offered optional tour groups for slower walkers & photograhers. There were other tours & attractions as well, but jet lag & short, dark days made me feel lazy & require an afternoon nap, so I took a pass on some of the scheduled afternoon events. At night there was a fantastic pianist, Emil who could play just about any request. On Christmas Eve there was a sing-a-long of Christmas music & some people got up & danced. All our meals were provided on the boat, which was convenient, helped save money & the time required to figure out where to eat while ashore. At breakfast they served a buffet with all sorts of sausage, cheese, fruit, potatos, breads, veggies etc. plus omlettes & French Toast. At lunch there was a choice of soup, cooked dishes & a fantastic salad bar. There was also a casual dining restaurant in the bar with soup, sandwiches & a less extensive salad bar. At lunch & dinner there was always nice dessert choices. There was a free coffee bar with cocoa, espresso & afternoon cookies. Dinner was a multi-course, more formal event. Many fellow passengers raved about the refreshments at the Christmas Markets, such as Gluwein but I was more focused on chocolate & marzipan. Most passengers we spoke with agreed that the food was somewhat bland, became repetitive by the end of the cruise & was often not hot enough. The wine was good, but they kept serving the same red & white with each dinner. Some variety would have been nice. I think the Christmas tour is more of what I would describe as a "beginners" tour--more low-stress for people who are timid about mixing in with real Europeans, but it was great for people who like to sit on the boat & watch the scenery. Life on the boat is like living in a North American bubble & I felt cut off from real Europeans, except for the Viking staff. I love art & had to break away from the tour & go on my own at one point, so perhaps this wasn't the best cruise for me. I think I'd do better on a specialist art tour, but If you just want some jolly Christmas fun & a chance to make some new friends it was great. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
This was our second time on the Glory. The ship has the 2.0 upgrades and we enjoyed the new bars and places to eat. Guys Burgers and fries is such a AMAZING addition to these ships. The food was wonderful and we ate there each day. Buffets ... Read More
This was our second time on the Glory. The ship has the 2.0 upgrades and we enjoyed the new bars and places to eat. Guys Burgers and fries is such a AMAZING addition to these ships. The food was wonderful and we ate there each day. Buffets were just buffets and nothing to write home about. Kids ate at the Qdoba like place and said it was ok just not Qdoba. We always love the pizza place.....Quattro pizza there is the best. This was the first time they made to order the pizzas and I was not impressed with that. The wait was TOO LONG and staff there not to friendly. However, the pizza was good. This trip let us down with both service and dining room food. Very disappointed but were able to get pizza if we needed it. Deli was delicious each time we had it . I normally love the piano bar, the new entertainer was on his second week...... He was below average. I was super disappointed with him, he wasn't too friendly and wasn't engaging. Oh we'll, plenty of other music around the ship. Loved Jess I think her name was. She played acoustic guitar and sang all over the ship. She was good and played plenty of requests. There was also a GROUP who played in the casino bar often that were very good as well. Wish I could remember their name. Not impressed with shows. Comics were funny :) Favorite place to hang was the EA Sportsbar. Be sure to visit Andrei he was awesome. They have xbox games available for the teens and young adults. Enjoyed time in the casino as always. Personally we dislike all the smoke at the casino bar........YUCK!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
This is my 7th cruise and 4th with RCI. This is my first time on the Adventure of the Seas, but my second on a Voyager class. The other RCI I've been on was the Allure. We arrived in San Juan the Friday before embarkation because ... Read More
This is my 7th cruise and 4th with RCI. This is my first time on the Adventure of the Seas, but my second on a Voyager class. The other RCI I've been on was the Allure. We arrived in San Juan the Friday before embarkation because this was our first time in Puerto Rico. We stayed in a condo in Condado, just outside of Old San Juan. On Saturday, we toured Old San Juan's two fort, San Cristobal and El Morro and had dinner close by. In San Juan, RCI's ship dock by the city's smaller airport, SIG, and no in Ols San Juan port. There is really nothing around the port. The best way to get to the port is by taxi and most driver will know where RCI docks. Since we booked a JS, we were allowed to embark any time between 11AM - 7PM. We arrived at the terminal around 1PM and were a lot of people already in line. As we had only three pieces of luggage, we decided to carry on our own bags. The whole embarkation process took about 20-25 minutes, and our JS was ready when we got onboard. Our cabin, 9628 JS, was on the port side close to the rear elevator bank. We were very happy with our cabin and everything worked fine. Please see our separate cabin review. Our cabin steward, Keithly, took care of us very well and we never had a problem with his service or the cleanliness of our cabin. We selected early seating in the MDR for this cruise and we found ourselves seated on table 318, in the Vivaldi dining room on deck 3. This table, a table for 10, was located in the middle of the dining room under the main chandelier by the Captain's table. I thought we would see the Captain once or twice during the cruise, but he did not dine in the dining room during the whole cruise. Our main waiter in the dining room, Syvester, was really good and he got to know us by the third night; no wonder, he has been with RCI for seven years. We dined at the MDR all week for dinner and we were very happy with the quality and quantity of the food. We had one or two dishes we didn't cared for the whole week, but everything else was cooked perfectly to our order and taste. The ship was decked out for the holidays with a huge Christmas tree forward on the Promenade. There was definitely a Christmas feel throughout the ship and even the crew was into the spirit. Since my last two cruises were on the Allure, the level of entertainment was just not the same, and I didn't expect it either. But our cruise director, Mercedes, and her staff did their best. The song and dance shows were more than acceptable, the comedians were funny, Alan Chamo, the Mental Magician, was entertaining. The ice shows were up to par. But most of all, we really had fun with Matt Yee at the Schooner Bar every night from 9:45PM till late with his adult sing along show. There was even a Christmas carol sing along on the Promenade deck on Christmas Eve. Even though the ship was full, we never felt crowded and we found good seats at every show. This cruise was so enjoyable, we decided to rebook for Christmas 2015! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Fascination Christmas cruise 12/24/14 for myself, wife and three daughters. All experienced cruisers. Due to differing work schedules we only had time for a 5-day cruise. We also needed non-stop flights from three different cities. ... Read More
Fascination Christmas cruise 12/24/14 for myself, wife and three daughters. All experienced cruisers. Due to differing work schedules we only had time for a 5-day cruise. We also needed non-stop flights from three different cities. Jacksonville worked out best, so off we went on Fascination. Embarkation. Jaxport is a one-story tin-roof warehouse affair that looks like it was thrown together in about 3 months for $100,000. Extremely no-frills. But from the time we arrived at 11:30, dropped off our luggage with the porters, parked in the fenced-in lot ($75 parking fee for 5 days) and made it through check-in, we were on the ship in less than one hour. With that kind of performance, I couldn’t care less if the facility is made of sticks and a thatched roof! The Ship. Fascination is the forth oldest in the Carnival fleet. We’ve sailed on Fantasy class ships before, so we knew what we were getting. On the plus side, the ship is in great shape for her age. Clean, little sign of wear and we don’t mind the smaller size. The crew was constantly cleaning, polishing and maintaining as always. All that said, this ship is in desperate need of the 2.0 upgrades. Aside from the last dry dock where they glued a bunch of balconies onto the hull, cruising Fascination is a lot like cruising in the 90’s. The décor is noticeably dated. We missed things like Guy’s, Red Frog and Alchemy. The Serenity Deck has no bar and no restrooms. Again, we picked this ship because it best met our needs and knew what we were getting. Fascination heads into dry dock in March 2015 for the 2.0 upgrades and that should make it a much better experience. If they could only do something about that ridiculous design flaw on every Fantasy class where the lifeboats totally block the view from the pool decks . . . Cabin. We had two interior cabins on Deck 6 (Upper.) We stopped buying balconies a few years ago when we realized we never spend any time in the cabin and the dollars could be better spent elsewhere. Typical Carnival cabins. Spacious enough with plenty of storage. Temperature and maintenance both fine. Our cabins were both in a “sideways” configuration where you enter on the long wall rather than the short wall. This is a little bit awkward and the beds didn’t fit quite right, but who cares? Crew. Pleasantly impressed. This crew was among the best we’ve experienced on any Carnival cruise. Universally friendly and attentive. Our cabin steward Oscar introduced himself in the first hour, kept the cabins neat and greeted us in the hallway by name. Our dinner waiter Hugo (late seating; Imagination Dining Room) was also excellent. He knew our names and our likes on the second evening. His two assistants were also pleasant and efficient. The bartender in the Atrium Bar, Andreea, was maybe the overall best Carnival employee we’ve ever enjoyed over the years. Food. Again, pleasantly impressed. We ate breakfast each morning in the Sensation Dining Room. Good service, better food and no lines (the line for omelettes in the Lido Buffet was always 20 people long.) More folks should take advantage of the fancy dining room for breakfast. The Sunday Brunch steak and eggs was the single best meal I had on the ship. We never once sat in the Coconut Grove Lido buffet. Grabbed a snack here and there and ate by the pool or on the Serenity Deck. Dinner ranged from OK to very good. Appetizers always interesting (small portion size, but they’ll bring as many as you want.) Entrees were hit and miss. I had a filet from hell one night, but an excellent Chateaubriand the next. If your waiter offers advice on what to eat and what to avoid, take it. Hugo was always spot on. Drink. All five of us bought the Cheers program. The initial price is a bit of a punch in the gut, but we figured we’d break even at about 6-7 drinks per day. Since we enjoy a drink before dinner, a glass or two of wine with dinner and a cocktail before bed, breaking even is not difficult. Maybe the best thing for us is that Cheers allowed us to try drinks and wines we probably would not have tried otherwise. Don’t like it? No big deal. Wait five minutes and order something else. If you enjoy drinks on your cruise, Cheers is worth the cost. Shows and Such. None of us attended a single show. Hate them. The girls went to one late night comedy show and gave it a C-. The lobby bar entertainer Robbie was talented, but his classic rock repertoire did not fit the venue. One major complaint. We’re finding the increasingly urban hip-hop vibe on the pool deck (DJ Irie, Carnival calls it) not to be to our liking. We all agreed that alone would be enough to seriously consider another cruise line when we next have time for a full 7-day adventure. Cruise Director. I’ve never understood the absorption with cruise directors and couldn’t care less about them, but this guy (Jason “Jase” Apps) was more annoying than usual. Extremely frequent and painfully long announcements. Must be getting one beauty of an incentive on Carnival MasterCard sign-ups because he talked about it all cruise long. Just wished he would jump overboard. Ports. Spent a couple of hours on Half Moon Cay just to get our toes in the ocean. Tendered over, walked the entire length of the beach (about three miles round trip) and tendered back. Did not eat there or use any of the amenities. Our other stop was Nassau (our 6th visit to Nassau at least) but the girls had been only once before. We walked to the Queen’s Steps, then all the way over to Fish Fry for lunch (Goldie’s – excellent,) then to John Wattling’s Distillery. That’s more than 5 miles of walking, but we’re a pretty fit bunch. Never once felt unsafe on Nassau. Keep your wits about you and stay on the port side of the hill and you should be fine. Overall. A good cruise. We’re a tight-knit family and usually have a good time anywhere we go. This cruise was no exception. The time we got to spent together was in and of itself great for us since our family is now geographically spread out a bit. Carnival continues to offer a good value, plenty of home ports and a nice variety of cruise lengths. Without Carnival, a cruise would not have been possible for us this Christmas. That said, as our family grows older we decided we’re going to branch out a bit. My kids loved Carnival as teenagers, but we think other lines may better fit us at this point. We’ll see. But we would recommend this cruise – and Carnival – to anyone.   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
this is the second year that I've been fortunate enough to spend the holidays on the QM2. My mother does not like to fly to get on a cruise ship so we are limited to ships that sail out of New York in the winter. Our cruise was ... Read More
this is the second year that I've been fortunate enough to spend the holidays on the QM2. My mother does not like to fly to get on a cruise ship so we are limited to ships that sail out of New York in the winter. Our cruise was relaxed and low key, plenty to do if one wishes. The entertainment was a mixed bag. I particularly enjoyed a group of soul/swing/Motown singers~the Flywrights~who were terrific~and the juggler. Beyond that the acts were just OK. The enrichment speakers were excellent, in particular, Dr. Jon Bailey, who presented four fabulous lectures analyzing Broadway musicals and Angela Schneider who spoke about different aspects of the Caribbean,including the devastating effects of the sugar trade. Having Ms. Schneider speak was important, I felt, giving travelers a more nuanced understanding of the history of the islands they'd be visiting beyond shopping and beaches. I enjoyed the food for the most part, especially considering the number of people they feed around the clock. I'm a pescetarian, and there were always plenty of options beyond meat and poultry dishes. That said I am not a picky eater and simply feel blessed when someone else is doing the cooking. The coffee leaves something to be desired. I love the Brits but they just don't know how to make good coffee. High tea in The Queens Room is a lovely indulgence. I'm already having scone withdrawal. The pools on the QM2 are a tad odd, probably because it's an ocean liner, not a cruise ship. For an older or less mobile person, they are very hard to get in and out of, having only ladders. I did indulge in a full pass to the aqua therapy center and used it to full advantage. It's not very large and it definitely needs some updating but I enjoyed the hydrotherapy pool, two saunas and steam room. We had cabins with protected balconies which I've heard some folks don't like because they "can't lie in bed and look at the ocean" pffft, get your butt up and quit complaining. Worked fine for us and our steward very promptly opened the partition so that my mother and I could go back and forth between our cabins on the balcony. The ports were great! St.Thomas which is well, St. Thomas. I don't bother, I just take a ferry over to St John for a much better USVI experience. Dominica, which I've visited before, and just love. They are stepping up their emphasis on eco-tourism and it's really a lovely island. St. Lucia was new to me and I visited the rainforest and did an aerial tram ride and a short hike. Gorgeous. Next on to Barbados which I'm lukewarm on. At the last minute I joined a snorkeling with turtles excursion which was rather lame, we did see plenty of turtles but also saw way too many people. The last port was St. Kitts which I also love, I did a great sail and snorkel excursion. Most snorkeling excursions don't allow enough time in the water for me but this one was long enough I was just starting to get cold when they blew the "come back" signal. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly, plenty of porters, and as I was using a Cunard transfer to La Guardia, was off the ship very early. NO line at customs. All in all, it was delightful. I spent many hours in a chaise lounge reading and gazing at the ocean, Some folks might want more from a cruise but if relaxing is what you are after, the QM2 provides. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
This was my first sailing with Royal Caribbean and compared to Carnival this ship lacked a few things but over all it was a good time. We had the my time dinning option which given the chance i will not do again. I like the consistency of ... Read More
This was my first sailing with Royal Caribbean and compared to Carnival this ship lacked a few things but over all it was a good time. We had the my time dinning option which given the chance i will not do again. I like the consistency of the same waiter every night they get to know you and your needs are met very quickly. Having a different server each night they do not have the personal time with you i would like i felt very rushed at times because they had so many other diners to attend to. We did not get to see any of the shows because we were always at dinner and they only had 1 a night i did not like that at all. As for on board activities i felt they were non existent as well. Especially on days at sea they did not have anything going on . I will say that the food was delicious and the on shore excursions we did were the highlight of the trip. The port of Tampa is by far one of the easiest ports to get in and out of and the porters were very helpful with getting our bags to and from the ship. Over all if i had never gone on any other cruise i would have thought this was fantastic but i had 5 other carnival cruises to compare with so i found it a tad disappointing. The ship size was good not to crowded but the room size and the lack of activities left me wanting more. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
My husband and I wanted to do something different for Christmas, like not spend time with our family this year and do our own thing!!! It was our second cruise we have ever been on. I am going to list the pros and cons. Pros: The pizza ... Read More
My husband and I wanted to do something different for Christmas, like not spend time with our family this year and do our own thing!!! It was our second cruise we have ever been on. I am going to list the pros and cons. Pros: The pizza was AWESOME!!! Always fresh, hot, thin crust, nice sized pieces, and there was always cheese and pepperoni available along with a special for the day. Great selection of alcohol under 10$ which was included in the all-inclusive beverage card. The bartenders did not skimp on the amount of booze in the drinks. Our stateroom attendant was great! She was very attentive, our room was always clean, and available to meet our requests/needs. Deck 7 was our favorite. It is an open deck and we would walk around the ship a lot. There were several places throughout the deck to sit, read, and relax. They had a British Lunch a few times during the week and the Fish and Chips were GREAT!!! The disembarkation was very well organized, smooth, and efficient. Recommend letting cruise line get you to where you need to go (for us LAX). We paid 20$/person to go to the Crab Shack and it was worth it!!! Delicious seafood and portions! For entertainment we enjoyed Movies under the stars, bingo, and the exec chef demonstration. We were GRATEFUL that they televised the NFL games on the big screen Sunday and Monday night. We appreciated that they hand sanitizer throughout the ship and at the entrances of food stations. Although we didn't have kids with us, It was a nice touch that they had Santa circle the boat on the tender on Christmas day for the kids. Overall, service was great and employees were friendly. CONS: Food in the Horizon Court buffet was so-so to below average. My husband had a piece of andouille sausage that he said tasted like throat spray.....and he eats everything! For a cruise in the Mexican Riviera we were surprised there wasn't more Mexican food? We wished our time in Cabo was all day instead of just 1pm... The tender took some time getting to and from the shore. The internet packages were overpriced so we opted to just quickly check our e-mails paying 80 cents per minute!! If you purchase the all exclusive beverage package you better drink! Doing the math, it equates to drinking $50/day whether it be booze, soda, specialty coffee, etc. We did make good use of getting large bottles of water which were $3.50 each. We expect it to be crowded when there is >4,000 people on a ship but...It seemed like there was never anywhere to sit for meals and there was always a long line when waiting to be seated for dinner (we were anytime dining). Overall we had a good time!!!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
We just returned from the Dec. 20-27 cruise on the Jewel: my wife and I (both 53), and our 20 year old college sophomore daughter and 18 year old high school senior son. These longish, idiosyncratic reviews helped us, so here goes. Just ... Read More
We just returned from the Dec. 20-27 cruise on the Jewel: my wife and I (both 53), and our 20 year old college sophomore daughter and 18 year old high school senior son. These longish, idiosyncratic reviews helped us, so here goes. Just to put us in perspective: fairly well travelled (couple of weeks in Europe every other year, a week in the Caymans most years, and a few weeks on Kiawah most summers). We have never cruised or done package tours; even out of the way Greece, Turkey, or Italy we plan ourselves, albeit at mostly higher end places. My wife is concerned that as the kids' schedules get more hectic, family trips will be harder. (I suspect the lure of free vacations will take care of that.) Anyway, we decided to try a cruise (and to not host Christmas for the first time in many years). Worked with a great TA, researched on Cruise Critic, and decided on NCL Jewel as a good balance of ship, itinerary, etc. We live outside D.C., but it is an easy direct flight to Houston. We had an aft suite (I could never figure out if it was a penthouse or not, but it had the butler and concierge, so not sure it mattered). We had the kids share a balcony room next to us; they haven't shared rooms when we travel for many years, but we were--needlessly, in hindsight---concerned about security (not really concerned, but never having cruised....) that we put them together near us. They were good sports about it, and the steward made some tweaks to give them more privacy. Bottom line, had a great time. Different than what we were used to, but a lot of fun. Bunch of comments and observations below: 1. Food: we ate in the specialty restaurants every night. Just our preference, but food quality is important to us, and the supplement seemed reasonable (did the package). LOVED Moderno for breakfast and lunch; much better than the couple of times we ate in the Garden Café for those meals. Best meals: Cagneys (ate there twice, once much better than other time): not up there with Palm or high end steakhouse ashore, but good. Also really enjoyed La Cucina--limited menu but well prepared. Enjoyed all of the others, but food was nothing really special (I enjoy almost anything with my family on vacation) 2. Other food observations: found service slow at specialty restaurants, even when not that full; my sense was that the servers were stretched a little thin. Felt that there could have been a higher high end on the wine list; it topped out at about $65 (except for the Champagne). Not much of a mark up, which was nice, but even a small "reserve" list would have been nice. Had the butler serve breakfast in the suite a couple of days: very nice, and he was happy to get off menu items. 3. Steward, Butler, and Concierge (Florentia) were outstanding. Helpful, always there but not obtrusive, friendly. Could not have been nicer, and a major part of the trip being great. 4. From what we saw, the priority boarding and disembarkation made a real difference. We breezed on and off in just a few minutes, and missed the customs lines when we returned. 5. The bars were nice, well staffed, and I thought well priced. They could all make a "real" drink (martini, Manhattan, etc.) as well as the various specials. 6. We really enjoyed the various "small" musical acts, generally at Magnums (one of the bars). Fun hearing Italian piano players and Brazilian guitarists playing and singing classic rock, folk rock, etc. Not being sarcastic--really enjoyed it, and we wished they stayed open past midnight. 7. We found the back of the boat suite very quiet, with no foot traffic past our rooms. Folks we talked to in the other suites, including Haven, said it was often "noisy." No personal experience, just repeating a couple of comments. 8. We all enjoyed the spa. My wife and daughter both had facials and massage(s), and said they compared favorably to higher end day spas in and around D.C. I had a shave--full hot towel, face massage, etc. like in the old time (and new!) barber shops, and it was great. We got the week passes to the steam, whirlpools, sauna, complex (with great views!), and found them both very nice, and usually pretty empty. Gym was ok, a little crowded for my taste but pretty nice. 9. Wifi was confusing and slow, but usable if you need to stay connected. 10. All of our excursions were through the ship. We did the Mayan ruin trip in Cozumel (ok, a little too commercial but Angel was a great guide). Son and I did the already-certified scuba dives in Belize and Roatan (outstanding in both places; professional, well run, good equipment, great reefs and wall dives). Wife and daughter went to animal preserve/beach day in Roatan and had a great time. Daughter (budding classics/archeology teacher) did another Mayan ruin in Belize and found it great, much "better" than Cozumel in scope and depth. All well run; no standing around waiting (except for a short weather delay in Belize). 11. I didn't see many (ok, any) of the "big" shows, but wife and daughter enjoyed them. The "risqué" ship-run programs (think PG-13 truth or dare) were fun, and good natured, and the cruise director said several times before they started that they were really for those over 18. Nothing explicit, all double-entendre stuff. Fun, and funny. 12. I thought the dance bands and/or DJ in Spinnaker at night were good, but hampered by the age rang from 18-65 all together. Motown followed by hip hop followed by 80's hair bands: hard to please everyone, but they did their best, and most people were able to dance most of the time. 13. Bars were a great place to people watch, particularly the row of bars in "bar city." 14. Kids, as kids do, found groups of other 18-21 year olds, and had fun by themselves, which was fine with us. We signed the beer and wine waiver for them (they have the occasional glass of wine with dinner at home, and we let them follow local laws when we travel), and they were reasonably responsible. 15. Initial thoughts: we would cruise again, although not necessarily right away, and would probably go NCL again for a family cruise (but kids could have their own cabins next time). If it is just my wife and I, we would probably try to go a little more "luxury," although I get a little confused about all of the labels. But if it is just us, not sure I would do a week cruise vs. a week in Tuscany or France. But will probably try it at least once more. I am sure I will revise those opinions a few more times as the experience percolates. Hope folks find this useful. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
This was our 13th cruise during Xmas/New Years. This year we did Xmas week. We arrived in San Juan on Saturday a day before our departure. I received an email prior saying we needed to arrive no earlier than 1pm. We left the hotel about ... Read More
This was our 13th cruise during Xmas/New Years. This year we did Xmas week. We arrived in San Juan on Saturday a day before our departure. I received an email prior saying we needed to arrive no earlier than 1pm. We left the hotel about 12:15 and arrived at the port. There is a line for Diamond Members to drop their bags. We stood in a long line due to only have 1 machine to put your carry on bags thru. That was a little crazy and they were letting people on. Why send the emails/texts then? We were able to get into line for the Diamond Members and quickly checked in. I liked the fact that they took your picture right when you were checking in than later. We made our way on board and went to the Windjammer for lunch. After lunch we were able to throw our bags into the room and went back to the kiddie pools on 12. The water in the kiddie pools was freezing cold. A few observations that I noted that need to change. If you have a kid not potty trained then they can't use the pools even with swim diapers. You tell me what 3 yr old is not peeing in the adult pools? I think a swim diaper catches everything vs a little kid. The only thing my 20 month old great niece could go in was the shower on deck 12. Seems odd. There is a lot of shade on deck 12 in the back by the kiddie pools. Why not get more in the sun? We got a balcony this time around and it was nice. My sisters complaint is they don't get the room set based on who is staying there. i.e. a double bed was made when twin beds were needed. She had to ask for her bathrobe also. Our bags came quickly. Mine first along with my nephews/wife/babies bags. I quickly unpacked about 3 in the afternoon. The other 6 in our party came a little later about 4. The food was fantastic on the first night. We always joke about the onion tart being on the menu and we were all surprised it was not. The food the first few nights were great. Then by Wednesday it was taking longer to get food out. We know it wasn't our server so it had to be the kitchen. We started to ask for her meal immediately so she didn't fuss. Domingos was our waiter and he gets a double thumbs up. We loved the ports and went to new beaches this trip in Aruba and Curacao. We wish that there were more ships leaving out of San Juan. The weather is better leaving further south than out of Florida. We wish in all public bathrooms there are toilet seat covers available. That would be nice. We booked again for next year but a little unhappy about some of the ports they are picking. i.e. Martinique, Grenada to name a few. We are booked on the Celebrity for next year. I hate the fact they changed the itinerary for 2 days back to back at sea. Hopefully this will change. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
So this was my 2nd time on the Norwegian Epic. Sadly to say, I really don't recall too much of Epic the 1st time I took it as my experiences were marred by a bad sunburn at the beach. Basically, this time was me wanting to re-do ... Read More
So this was my 2nd time on the Norwegian Epic. Sadly to say, I really don't recall too much of Epic the 1st time I took it as my experiences were marred by a bad sunburn at the beach. Basically, this time was me wanting to re-do Epic. Embarkation was pretty simple and hassle-free at like 11:30am in the morning although being Latitude Gold also helps as you get your own line. However, we all must have arrived too early as we had to wait like 10 minutes while they called out a group number to board the ship. We have a mini-suite this time (we had a balcony last time). The obvious main difference is that the mini-suite is a lil bigger than the balcony. The mini-suite has a bath tub (as opposed to just standing shower in balcony rooms) while the sink is next to the sofa bed or king-sized bed (depending on layout of the room) as opposed to being in front of the bed. Having recently been on the Getaway, I definitely don't like how the sink is very small on the Epic while the sinks in Getaway mini-suites are humongous. Yes the toilet and showers are separated on the Epic but you get used to it pretty fast. I, however, still prefer the bathroom to be enclosed. The room does have a lot of storage but I am not sure if I am a fan of the curvature design. Unlike the Getaway mini-suites though, the balcony on the Epic mini-suite is easily twice the size of the Getaway mini-suite balconies. Despite the spacious balcony, I don't think I spend more than 10 minutes total on the balcony throughout the entire trip. Not sure if people know this (or maybe they do?). for the sofa bed, because the curvature of the couch takes away space, simply pull out the bed more to get more space. Like the Breakaway and Getaway, Epic also requires you to insert a key card (or whatever card) for power in the room. Instead of using your room key, you can use a previously used hotel room key or something similar. I thought the food was decent. For seafood night, unfortunately there were no lobsters. However, they do have lobster & shrimp pasta so if there's no one immediately behind you, you can take your time shamelessly picking our the lobster. I also really enjoyed the Asian soup station and I had that every lunch (it's not opened for dinner). Shrimp, chicken, egg noodle with soup tasted so good. One of my favorite things about the bigger ships (like Epic, Breakaway etc) is that they also have ice cream along with frozen yogurt. I really love the varieties of flavors they had every day. I particularly enjoyed their banana, dulce de leche, and peace flavored ice cream. Quick note, if you want ice cream in a cone, you had to go get the cone first for the ice cream server as they don't have a supply of cones on their side. I also noticed that after seafood night, they had shrimp in some sort of a new dish every dinner. Because I love shrimp, this was a pleasant surprise for me. I also love their grilled night on the last day as they had grilled shrimp, grilled steak, chicken and etc. O'Sheehans always makes for a nice midnight snack. I really like that the menu is the same as the day time unlike in Breakaway or Getaway in which the menu is limited at the wee hours of the night. I really enjoyed the chicken wings, fried mozarella sticks, and country potato soup. However, the service can be a hit or miss. I remember one night, I had to sit on the other side as O'Sheehans was full. I sat there with my menu for a couple minutes but no waiter ever came by. That was fine and all until I saw a group who arrived after I did got their orders taken first. I thought that was pretty bad and definitely ticked me off so I simply left. Sometimes I feel that the service at O'Sheehans needs to improve. I have gotten ignored at the podium a couple times on different ships while the waiters just kept walking back and forth and never greeted me. As for specialty restaurants, there were positives and super negatives. I enjoyed teppanyaki and Moderno. We have always gotten teppanyaki on NCL so it's same old although our chef this time seemed a little noob-ish compared to past teppanyaki chefs. If you really want lobster, just order the seafood meal as you get lobster, scallop, and squid. The service was kinda slow as we didn't get our salad until the chef had begun cooking. I also noticed the waiters had a tough time walking to the kitchen as there weren't a lot of room. They were also squeezing through (makes me wonder if guests noticed this and would moved their chair in a little?) and were probably like 5 seconds away from dropping what they were carrying. For Moderno, it's all about going hungry, pacing yourself, and avoid stuffing yourself at the salad bar. For me, I get some quick chicken salad, soups, and some mushroom before the meats officially come. Even with the side dishes like mashed potatoes, fried bananas, rice, and beans, I would eat some with my meat but my focus was still on the meat. I LOVE their lambchops, filet mignon, and cinnamon-flavored pineapple. The roast beef and prime rib (tasted like prime rib) were okay. I wasn't particularly awed by the prime rib as you can get it in Garden Cafe or O'Sheehans. The biggest native was Cagney's. This was my first time trying Cagney's and it just wasn't a great experience. It took 15 minutes to even get our orders placed (AND by someone working from O'Sheehans instead of our actual waiter wearing white) and then another 60+ minutes to get our main dish. We never once got a "Hey, be right there with you guys!" from the waiter before ordering. We eventually had to complain to the maitre'd after having waited for 15 minutes. The shrimp cocktail was delicious and you can order 2 of those or even 3 or 4 I imagine. The biggest disappointment was the rib-eye steak. Don't get me wrong, it tasted good but I feel as though the steaks from the free dining rooms (be it Manhattan on Epic or Breakaway or Tropicana on Getaway) tasted just as good. It was like...wait, so I waited 1.5 hrs total to eat a steak that tastes only as good as the free steak in the free dining rooms? This was a big waste of time. Next time I want steak, I will stick to the main dining room. Out of all the NCL cruises I have been on, Epic's gym is my absolute favorite...especially compared to Breakaway/Getaway's small and separated gym. I really like the different equipments the Epic gym has and how spacious it is. I have never been a fan of Breakaway's gym being separated (making it seem small) so Epic's gym is just a great sight. I really do wish they open up the TRX ropes room as they do make for great body workouts. Pointless complain here, I also wish the TRX training classes are free as they would help a lot of people. I know I know, it's a business. For entertainment, I only went to Blue Man Group and I enjoyed it a lot despite having seen it twice on the Epic. The show was like 90% same as last time I was on Epic but still very entertaining. I really like how they interact with the audience. Don't forget to attend behind the Blue Man event as you get to meet the Blue Man members and they will answer questions you have. They all have a wicked sense of humor. As for the rec staff, I didn't get a chance to really interact with any of them. Only person that really stood out to me was Nacho, the assistant cruise director from Mexico. The cruise director Armen seemed meh and he also seemed really standoff-ish at the events I attended. I think it may be because I have been spoiled by Joel Sanchez on the Getaway. I really like it when the rec staff tries to include everyone in an event and tries to get people to participate. Yes, you cannot avoid walking through the ship without walking through the smokes of the casino. I spent a decent amount of time there playing the coin pusher machine. For some unknown reason, I seemed to always draw a crowd of people watching me play but I digress. Do note that if you are playing at the coin pusher machine (aka not playing at a slot machine or a table), bar service folks aren't going to approach you to ask for your drink order. You will have to be on the lookout to stop them and get your drink order in. Tipping there is always a nice gesture as well. I did find some of the cashier staffers to be a bit rude. Because I do win bills from the machine, I would get change as I don't want 10 ones, 5 5's, 6 20's in my wallet as I do play slot machines too. At times, it would seem as though I am burdening them with me trying to get change. It's one thing if I am holding up a long line but I wasn't as most of the time, there was no one lining up behind me. For the port of calls, Dunn's River is a must visit although it can get congested and can be a bit dangerous. You will get very wet so make sure to get water shoes and go in bathing suit only (meaning no phones!). Grand Cayman was nice but some attractions were meh. Hell was extremely overrated and besides the rock formations, it was just a gift shop with a guy dressing up as the devil. I supposed I went so now I can say I have been to Hell and back along with all the other puns. The rum cake was very good though!! Cozumel was nice too and it was our 2nd time there (previously went to Tulum ruins). This time, we just chilled at a restaurant (yay wifi!) and walked around. Overall, I enjoyed the cruise and it was my first New Years cruise. I really enjoyed the countdown events as a lot of people attended and they made it fun. I know I also talk a lot about customer service and the lack of it in my reviews and this is only because I work in customer service and great service is always a plus. I feel the same way even if I didn't work in customer service. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
I've read a lot of reviews about this ship prior to our departure so I was prepared for some not-so-perfect adventures. Firstly, the ship is beautiful. I mean drop dead awesomely beautiful. I have never been on any ship like it ... Read More
I've read a lot of reviews about this ship prior to our departure so I was prepared for some not-so-perfect adventures. Firstly, the ship is beautiful. I mean drop dead awesomely beautiful. I have never been on any ship like it before. This is cruise 20 for us. State of the art stuff, wonderful finish details (I love walnut) and our state room (balcony) was very nice. The crew was fantastic, the captain, Captain Anderson, was a seasoned pro. With beauty like that, it made many of the bad experiences be forgotten for a while. Despite doing all the online check in stuff, scanning the pictures, etc, etc, etc, we still had to line up because for some reason we didn't have two set sail passes (make sure you print one for each passenger in your party). We ere directed to the "Reprint Set Sail Pass" to "simply print another SSP for me". Simply....ha. When we got to the line, despite a sign that CLEARLY stating "SET SAIL REPRINT", we wondered why on earth was this taking so darn long. Well, turns out that although the ship is mart, people are dumb. There were 5 families in front of us, They were not there to reprint a SSP...they were doing ALL he online check in...you know the process that takes you at home on your own computer about an hour or so? Well they were doing it. The RCL folks doing the check in kept saying that if people need to check in this is not the line for it, but THEY NEVER TURNED ANYONE AWAY!!!!! Instead, they told them that they shouldn't be in that line and proceeded to go through the arduous and pain staking process of doing the complete check in. GAWD! After an hour and a half of that, we finally saw an empty Check-in kiosk and asked if they would do a SSP reprint. They said yes and we were printed and done in 30 seconds. I swear to God some people are so dense. We the were able (after about two hours from arriving to the terminal) to get on the ship. Did I mention it is beautiful? We encountered many issues, especially the waits for reserved dinner. It didn't matter if you had a reservation, you had to wait 30-60 minutes to get a table. There were many, many upset people. RCCL needs to sort this out...it isn't working the way that some engineer said it would. The ship does fine when it is two seatings but this dynamic seating has really thrown a wrench like they have severely underestimated the time that people take to eat. Out of the seven dinners we had, 4 were outstanding and the rest were so-so. Jamie's was really good (cover charge), as was American Icon, Silk and Michael's Genuine Pub. Chops is always Chops...cant go wrong there. The service was impacted by the crappy reservation system. The waiters worked their tails off but were unable to keep up with the pace and kibitz with you during your meal. We really missed the dining room experience with a large table that we shared with the same people night after night. We missed that we couldn't get to know your waiter and assistant waiter like on a 'regular' cruise. I dont think we will ever get over that. There were many "software" issues. Not surprising given the reliance on technology that this ship has. It's nothing that cant be fixed, but in the meantime there will be many steamed heads. We are back on the ship in March so we hope that things will have been somewhat ironed out by then. Bumper cars, iFly, Northstar, Robot Bar...all cool things. The shows were out of this world! Mama Mia was fantastic! You need to also see Star Water and Sonic Odyssey....fantastic. No Quest though, due to safety of guests. These were the things that made us forget the frustrations. All in all, we would do it again, and we are and glad at that. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
We recently returned from the December 26th New Years Eve cruise on Getaway. I am a diamond cruiser on RCL and have also sailed on NCL Gem and Carnival Pride so I've had a fair amount of cruise experiences. Embarkation out of Miami ... Read More
We recently returned from the December 26th New Years Eve cruise on Getaway. I am a diamond cruiser on RCL and have also sailed on NCL Gem and Carnival Pride so I've had a fair amount of cruise experiences. Embarkation out of Miami was smooth and easy. The line was long and tad slow but the staff worked diligently and there were no real issues. Do I think RCL moves faster - yes I do, but this wasn't a big deal. The terminal in Miami was fine... nothing special but who really cares about that. Boarding the ship you are immediately impressed but he decor and cleanliness. Getaway is only a year old and she still looks brand new. The crew obviously takes pride in maintaining her. This was a full cruise with lots of kids and I expected the ship to be crowded and it was. Typically the first evening on a cruise a ship is a bit congested as people are finding their way about, making reservations and booking spa treatments, etc. By the next day things open up as people settle into a routine. This was never the case on Getaway and it always seemed crowded and congested. This is in distinct comparison to my sailings on RCL Allure of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas. These two ships, bigger by the way, never seem crowded. After much consideration I came to the conclusion that the layout of the ship - and the Gem in the past - creates many pinch points and narrow passage ways. This is largely because they are trying to cram in all those restaurants for Freestyle Dining. RCL on the other hand has restaurants but not as many and this frees up space for larger public areas. While I am on meals.... food was quite good, better than RCL in my opinion. The problem for us was service. With Freestyle Dining you do not get the same waiter and that intimate relationship you get in a more traditional setting. As a result I found that service was impersonal. To be honest I really felt that dining room service was rather incompetent at times. Oh, and they really need to upgrade their wine list and get wine stewards!! The ship did a real great job on New Year's eve. High energy, and we all had a blast!!!! Ok... hits and misses.... Hits: Entertainment Cruise Director and Staff Ship leadership team visible and engaged. Kudos especially to the Asst. Hotel Director Errol. The guy is a star!! Beautiful ship over all Lots of food choices Cheap wine price (but see below....) Lots of activities and slides, etc for kids Disembarkation the best ever!!! Good food quality Many food venues to choose from. Cabin stewards did an awesome job! Great energy at every port when coming back on board Well appointed cabin. Great bathroom and lots of storage Misses: Poor wine list - nothing decent or midrange - low quality with a couple of wines that are too expensive. Poor ship flow - very narrow choke points and gets a crowded feeling. Dining staff service as discussed above impersonal and not particularly competent. You can feel a lot more movement on this ship compared to RCL ships. Made me dizzy for the first time ever. Poor water pressure Small balcony Ice bar???? really???? why did I do that??? That's about it... feel free to email me if you have any questions at dkmiller3356@gmail.com   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
The embarkation process really sucked. You pass through security and then you go into the great hall and wait for someone to arbitrarily give you a zone card, we never did get a zone card and had to force our way into line behind a group ... Read More
The embarkation process really sucked. You pass through security and then you go into the great hall and wait for someone to arbitrarily give you a zone card, we never did get a zone card and had to force our way into line behind a group of aggressive Americans who obviously knew the system better than us. If we had waited around for this stupid zone card thing then we would have been last to board. They should give you a number as soon as you get through security , just like a deli, would have been less frustrating. The ship is huge with lots to do and see and eat. If you do not find something to your liking on this ship then you are a real Stiff and have no one to blame but your self. We where with a group of 20 and found the public areas to be very accommodating and well served. The News Years party was amazing with thousands of guests filling the main decks, free champagne for all was a great touch. The Cruise director Matt Mitchum really made the public functions rock, this guy is so talented, he got the crowds to sing and dance along. The service at the main seating was slower than usual but it did give time to discuss the day with our family. The one thing I really liked was that Carnival was Enforcing its 45 minutes or lose it deck chair policy. If you leave your chairs unattended for more than 45 minutes then they take the ``save - zee `` stuff off and give the chair to people who will actually occupy them. I just loved it when some goof ball family would leave there stuff on a chair at 6:30am and come back at 10:30am thinking it was still there for them, only to find another family there. ``hey where's our stuff`` , ``we where since 6:30am`` , Get lost goofs. I loved it. Bravo Carnival for enforcing the policy and it is the main reason I am a return cruiser. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
We sailed on the "Balmoral" on 21 December. The "meet and greet" parking at Southampton was very courteous and efficient. Although the City cruise terminal was being renovated the temporary departure lounge was ... Read More
We sailed on the "Balmoral" on 21 December. The "meet and greet" parking at Southampton was very courteous and efficient. Although the City cruise terminal was being renovated the temporary departure lounge was satisfactory. Boarding was very swift (aided greatly bt membership of the "Oceans Gold" club). The ship looked in good condition as it had only come out of dry-dock two days earlier. We has accommodation on Deck 6 (main deck) which was fine. There was sufficient storage space and the air-condioning was effective. The picture window added to the overall aspect of the cabin. Overall it was in good condition. We were fortunate enough to have calm seas throughtout the whole cruise save on the final day when it was a little choppy. The weather was good which is not always the case in these climes in mid-Winter. The ship was beautifully decorated for Christmas and the "gingerbread town" was a triumph. We selected the Spey restaurant for dinner and the food and service was up to Fred. Olsen's usual standard. We took other meals in the various other restaurants and the standard of food was equally good. The Chinese and Asian speciality nights were particularly enjoyable. The staff and crew on board Fred. Olsen's ships are a key selling point and on this cruise it was no exception. We had port calls in Lisbon, Funchal, Santa Cruz (Tenerife), Las Palmas (Gran Canaria), Arricife (Lanzarote) and Gibraltar. All had their good points but the boat trip in Lisbon and afternoon tea at the gorgeous Reid's Hotel in Madeira were perhaps the best. Christmas Eve was was celebrated with a cabaret show, carol singing and a Holy Communion service at midnight. Christmas Day was also well celebrated althought afternoon was a bit lacking in entertainment and a little flat. Dinner that night was traditional and excellent. New Year's Eve was most enjoyable with an excellent dinner (including haggis and a "wee dram") and a deck party. Although the fireworks in Gibraltar were ok they didn't compare with Madeira. Also it was rather chilly. I don't think this is the ideal port for a New Year call. Although this was a pretty good cruise I do have a few gripes, 1. The ship was just out of dry-dock but there was a great deal of maintenance and painting going on which was, at time intrusive. When the reception was asked why this was necessary we were told that the ship had to be in good condition for the upcoming "long cruise". This is quite unacceptable. 2. The "Balmoral" orchestra plays at every possible occasion eg cocktail parties, receptions and "shows". The volume is so hight that normal conversation is virtually impossible. Thsi is an on-going problem which FOCL really should investigate. 3. As the weather was pretty good it was a pity that the swimming pool on deck 7 was so often closed. 4. The lecture weren't very good with the exception of those concerning millionaires. I would describe most as "minority interest talks. They was certainly not up to the normal standard.   Read Less

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