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Sail Date: December 2012
Arrived in Ft Lauderdale on Fri..Took GO Shuttle to Days Inn Airport in Miami because they offered free shuttle to the Port. Decent Hotel - Had bar and small restaurant - Booked cruise package which included a free drink Fri night and ... Read More
Arrived in Ft Lauderdale on Fri..Took GO Shuttle to Days Inn Airport in Miami because they offered free shuttle to the Port. Decent Hotel - Had bar and small restaurant - Booked cruise package which included a free drink Fri night and Breakfast on Sat morning. Shuttle from the hotel left for the port at 9am..I was a little apprehensive as to the time (thought it was too early) By the time everything and everybody from the hotel was loaded up, we left around 930am. Arrived at the port, got everything unloaded and headed into the terminal. There was no line and I thought we would have to wait a long time. We walked in, got our cards and settled down for the wait (Zone 2). At 1030, they called Zone 1 - FTTF and we were called about 10 min later. So if you can get there early, definitely do not pay for the FTTF. We were pleasantly surprised because I had heard embarkation from Miami was a nightmare. We were on the ship and having lunch before 11am. Went to the cabin after lunch. It was ready, and our luggage was already being delivered. Spent the afternoon on the deck in the sun reading until the sailaway. Saturday - Our first day at sea - Had breakfast at the Cantina - Burritos, Arepas and Huevos Rancheros. All were excellent. This is a great addition to the ship - all the comdiments and hot sauces you can think of. Spent the day on the very top deck of Serenity in the hot tub - Yes, no kids, just peace and quiet. Very relaxing....Lunch at Guy's Burger Joint (Best burgers I have ever, ever had in my whole entire life of eating burgers ! ! Only problem is now I want them at home... Sunday - Nassau - We had been there before - Nothing to see - Didn't want to go to the straw market again so we stayed aboard. Just relaxed with a book and in the Serenity hot tub again. Today we tried the buffet for breakfast - Omelets were really good as was the hot chocolate. If you want watermelon, you have to go out to the Cantina - it is on the condiment bar. Strange? Lunch was the fish & chips place - Excellent - Had Fish/Chips/Ceviche - Excellent food... Dinner again in the dining room Monday - At Sea - Explored the ship, did the pool and hot tub...read our books in the Sun..Relaxing day - Shopped on the ship - Lunch at Guys again... Tues - St. Thomas - Did a little shopping and Megans Beach was fantastic. Lunch and drinks at Senor Frogs - right on the Boardwalk by the ship great guacamole and chips - good tequila drinks and jello shots...Couldn't find the butterfly house and then realized it was right behind there so we missed it.. Wed - San Juan - Took the free tram into the middle of town - Had lunch at Cafe Mallorca - Grilled Ham & Cheese on a sweet round roll and dusted with powdered sugar and hot, strong Puerto Rican coffee. Would definitely recommend this...Sounds strange but very good..Even hubby liked it. Drifted thru old town since we had already been there and done the forts and Bacardi plant. They are well worth seeing though. Thurs - Grand Turk ... Very small area with a few shops...We had rented an air conditioned cabana at Margaritaville...Between the beach and the pool it was a wonderful day. Left our stuff in the locked cabana and wandered thru the stores - Bought a couple small souveniers. Had the conch fritters and Turks Head beer at Margaritaville...Watched the guys on the wave rider...Very enjoyable day... Fri - At Sea - More relaxing and exploring on the ship Food - Standards seem to have dropped on the food - The service was not that great with our waiters either - No more escargot in the dining room or decent steaks...Some nights I couldn't make up my mind what to eat because nothing appealled to me...But there is always the warm choc melting cake - Absolutely wonderful ! We also did not like the Taste Bar - It's only open a couple of times during the cruise an seemed like a waste...We really missed the sushi bar since we stopped every night before dinner on our last cruise and had sushi before going to the dining room. It seemed really popular and I am surprised that it is gone. We didn't do dinner in the upper dining room with the service charge because we had done that before and I really wasn't impressed... The best things in the dining room were the lasagna bolognese, the lobster and the creamed spinach that came with the prime rib...I'm not that fond of prime rib but hubby said it was good. Good Things - Guys Burger Joint - Blue Iguana Cantina. We checked out the all you can drink deal and it seemed like a lot to me $42.95 per day and normal drinks/beer around $5 - we wouldn't drink 8 of them so we passed on that. Embarkation - Quick - Nice to have your luggage on a carousel instead of piled in the middle of the floor. The only problem we had was that we had paid for their travel back to Ft. Lauderdale - one way only. When we didn't get tickets like normally, i went to Guest Relations the day before and was informed they don't give voucheres any more - that our names would be on the list. Well, when we got outside with the porter and over to the bus going to Ft. Lauderdale the carnival rep asked for my vouchers. He told me to go pay for them at the transfer booth - Luckily, I still had the booking summary and showed him where I had already paid because our names clearly were not on his list. He blustered a little bit but had to finally let us on. Would I sail Carnival again....Definitely yes for the price...There are a few things that I miss or don't care for but that is everywhere - not just here. Your vacation is what you make of it and we had a wonderful week. I look forward to the next one.... Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Hi everyone, I just returned from my second cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas, I first sailed on her in November 2011 before she was refurbished and then again in December 2012 on the Christmas Cruise for 10 nights travelling to the South ... Read More
Hi everyone, I just returned from my second cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas, I first sailed on her in November 2011 before she was refurbished and then again in December 2012 on the Christmas Cruise for 10 nights travelling to the South Pacific, my wife is partly disabled and can't walk for long distances and needs to use a wheelchair as well as being large, so a standard stateroom is too small for her so we booked disabled stateroom 2102 on deck 2. THE STATEROOM This was a category F, lower class stateroom on Deck 2 with a window. We really liked it, it was large at 254 square feet, about 20 square feet smaller than a junior suite but without a balcony. It had plenty of room for a wheelchair and walking room around everything, features a queen bed ( 2 singles joined together which felt more like a king size bed ), ample room but the mattress was a little too firm for our liking and the pillows felt like we were sleeping on rocks, hence we had stiff necks in the morning and sore backs but for what its worth, any bed outside of your home will never be like your sweet home bed. The bathroom was very spacious featuring a large disabled shower, with a shower chair that folded down on the wall as well as a free standing shower chair, flexible and fully adjustable shower head and outstanding water pressure and temperature control, I only wish our home shower was this good. We had a fridge in our room but we had to request that at the time of booking so I could store my insulin as I am diabetic, lower class staterooms on Rhapsody do not come with fridges but they give you a minibar featuring the coca cola range and spring water WITHOUT A FRIDGE in low class, I think that's ridiculous without a fridge as standard, I mean who wants to drink warm coke! We had a Samsung 24 inch flat t.v panel in the room which was part of the ships refurb which was excellent, first cruise we did on Rhapsody we had this old 12 inch boxy Sony trinitron old school crt television which you could hardly see a thing on, the new T.Vs are a definite improvement and the channel line up was better featuring several channels plugging Royal Caribbean programming and propaganda as well as an action movie channel, Turner Classic Movies TCM, a news channel, ESPN sports, Australia Network,a channel featuring American CBS network programming which included Hawaii Five O, Cartoon Network, another movie channel and a few useless french channels, the movie channels ran in a loop replaying the same line up of movies each day, on this cruise a few Christmas themed. The channel line up and variety could be improved,but then you are meant to be out of your cabin a lot. Our stateroom attendant, "I made", a native Philipian was excellent, he could not help us enough and at times my wife was sick with back and muscle problems and stayed in the cabin, he always checked on her while I was out and about and always ready to help us. THE SHIP AND ACTIVITIES On this cruise the ship was packed to cpacity, 2260 passengers, it could get rather crowded in the Centrum, the central area of the ship which starts on Deck 4 and is 6 stories high and is the main activity hive of the ship for music and demonstrations on cooking etc. I found there was excessive art auctions on this cruise occupying the Centrum during the day, where really you wanted to sit in quiet and relax, I found the auctions annoying, there were other areas of the ship such as one of the dance lounges where this activity could be tucked away out of sight, for the record most of the auctions I heard were passed in and nobody bought the art. The Centrum was one of the main areas that was refurbished and was very nice, featuring colour changing lighting and an area above were trapeze artists from the crew perform, on this cruise they performed 3 times briefly but you really did not see that much of them. At night the Centrum was a hive of activity with dance contests and live music/singers and it was very crowded, impossible to get a seat there most nights so we went back to our cabin to relax. On the pool deck, Deck 9 another refurb was the giant movie screen above the main pool, they only played one movie on it the whole cruise at night "Finding Nemo" and the rest of the time they played tropical and ocean scenery in a continuous loop day and night. THE NEW SPECIALITY RESTAURANTS - THE THINGS THAT DON'T COME FREE Rhapsody had 3 new restaurants aboard her, Giovanni's Table, Izumi, and Chops Grill. We were fortunate enough to dine one night ( it was our 4th wedding anniversary ) at Giovanni's Table, a 50 seat Italian Tuscan style restaurant that costs $20 USD EXTRA PER HEAD TO DINE THERE. We found this well worth it, not only was the food excellent, there was mountains of it, we dined on a 5 course meal and our stomachs were bursting at the seams well before the finish of it. We recommend Giovanni's Table, its worth the extra you pay for it, its food is well above the standard of the main dining room and the buffet and we advise pre-booking this before you board the ship to get a seat as it only serves lunch and dinner ( the menu's are different for lunch and dinner ) and can only hold 50 people at a time, its located on Deck 6 at the back of the Schooner Bar. THE ON BOARD ENTERTAINMENT We found apart from the new carpet, the 1200 seat Broadway Melodies theatre on 2 levels on Decks 5 and 6 at the front of the ship had not really changed that much, as for the shows, they had several guest entertainers, the second night we had a U.S artist buy the name of Bruce Parker who sang tributes to the great crooners such as Frank Sinatra and songs from the 50's and 60's mixed in with a bit of comedy, he was really good and has worked with famous artists such as Michael Jackson on background vocals etc., that was a good show. Then there were the standard Royal Carribean dancers and singing troupe with their headliner shows which had not changed from our previous cruise, with themes such as country and western and 50's rock and roll, they were good but when you have seen it all before it can get a little tedious. Overall there was a mix of other activities during the day aimed at the older age group 30 to 60 such as scrap booking and jewellery making which my wife did, trivia contests, bingo which at $32 for 4 games was too expensive to play, belly dancing, those pain in the butt art auctions etc. I am 48 year old man and got bored on the ship and started hanging out in the casino too much but fortunately my wins mostly balanced my losses and I only ended up loosing $100 for a 10 day cruise which was not bad but the casino can be very costly and my advice is stay out and find something better to do if you can. THE FOOD Well its American style food cooked in the American Way, I had my mother-in-law with us on this cruise and she complained she did not like any of the food, the woman is a very fussy eater and whined when the meat was rare and underdone and I could have pushed her over the side as she whined too much, the food is okay, it will never win any Michelin Stars and get bagged by Gordon Ramsay but this is a middle of the range cruise line and your not paying for paying to eat top class food in a top class restaurant, its suites most peoples tastes, the Windjammer buffet can wear you down thin with the food range some nights and the fine dining in the Edelweiss Restaurant, although being better quality food, it serves a la carte small size portions that leave you wanting for more at the end but if you were still hungry after eating at fine dining, you could always go to the buffet or get room service and have a Bistro Burger which was a pretty okay hamburger that was bought to your room free of charge,its part of the complimentary food that comes in your package. As for drinks, we strongly recommend you pre-purchase the unlimited soda package before you board the ship, the packages come out about 2 months before your cruise date and can be paid online at Royal Carribean and added to your cruise. The Soda Package for our 10 day cruise was $72 USD a head but it gave you unlimited soft drink from the Coca Cola range of beverages, it was money saver for those hot tropical days when you got really thirsty. The alcoholic drinks, the cocktails ranged from about USD $7.50 to about $12 plus they automatically add a 15% gratuity or tip on each alcoholic drink you buy, this also applies to soft drink if you don't buy the soda package. Wine is very expensive on this ship with the cheapest glass at USD $13 and bottles are from about USD $50 to $295. Beer is reasonably priced, a 330 ml Corona Extra costs $5.50 usd and a 750 ml Foster's oil can costs $8, a huge beer that you can share between 2 people. OVERALL CRUISE RATING AND EXPERIENCE We did enjoy this cruise but found it a little crowded at times but as it was a peak season Christmas cruise we expected this may be the case, some things were repeats of our last cruise including part of the cruise destination itinerary, it was a good cruise but after 10 days we were a little weary of it and we need to change to another ship/cruise line and itinerary. Rhapsody is a good ship, most people will find little to complain about, the crew must be the friendliest on the seas, they perform their jobs with enthusiasm and it appeared to us they like working on this ship Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
This was our first cruise with Celebrity, and overall we were pleasantly satisfied with the experience. Here's a lengthy review: Embarkation: Our cruise was set to depart at 4:30pm. Our flight arrived in Miami early - around ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Celebrity, and overall we were pleasantly satisfied with the experience. Here's a lengthy review: Embarkation: Our cruise was set to depart at 4:30pm. Our flight arrived in Miami early - around 8:45am. We hopped in a cab and arrived at the Port Miami by 9:30am. The $25 flat rate fare is nice, considering our cabbie was new and didn't know how to get there. But, since we were early, we had plenty of time, so it wasn't that big of a deal. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 9:15am, and the porter took our bags and informed us that they would start checking in passengers "between 9:30 and 10:00". We meandered over to the check in area around 9:45 and they said "Not yet. Come back later." Around 10:15, we saw people lining up quickly, so we got into line. We all waited in that line for over an hour before they finally started the check-in process. Once the process finally started, we got on board smoothly, without issue. There was a lunch buffet served up on deck 10 when we boarded, but before the rooms were ready. However, because we followed a tip from a previous review on cruisecritic.com, we didn't go to the lunch buffet. Instead, we went to deck 5 to Bistro on 5, paid the $5/pp cover charge and ate a delicious meal. We were the only ones in the restaurant the whole time, and we sat there for hours in total comfort and peace & quiet! It was completely worth the $5/pp. The room was ready around 2pm. Stateroom: We were in a C2 cabin (#8074), and it was good. Relatively small, in the grand scheme of things. I can't imagine how small the inside staterooms are. But, we had sufficient storage space. We upgraded so we could have a nice balcony. The balcony was satisfactory - a little small, of course. Just large enough for 2 chairs and a small table. The bathroom was good, and the shower was nicer than I had expected. If the shower had been 6 inches wider, that would have been nice. Good water pressure, and I never ran out of hot water. A nice quiet location.... decks 9 and 7 are both for staterooms only, so we didn't hear any of the foot traffic or music from deck 10. Staff: Our cabin steward, Peter was good, for the most part. We didn't want the contents of our mini-bar, but wanted the space to store our own drinks, and asked him to remove the mini-bar contents, and he told us to just move the other things aside, to make room for our own drinks. On embarkation day, there was a bottle of champagne in our room, which was warm by the time we got to our room. We asked Peter to remove it, and he said that he would, but he didn't. My husband ended up pouring it out on our 2nd last day. The waiters and bartenders were all excellent. They always seemed to remember our preferences for drinks, etc. They often recognized us and some even remembered our names by the 2nd day, which was quite impressive. For the most part, I was called "Madame" or "My Lady". Anytime you walked past a crew member, they always said hello, or asked how you were doing, if you needed anything, etc. Very professional and friendly. Dining: MDR - We only ate in the MDR (San Marco Restaurant) on 2 evenings - both were satisfactory. We were on the early fixed seating time (6pm). Our waiter, Ronald was fantastic. The MDR is noisy, and the food quality is ok. We had read reviews that the MDR didn't do beef very well, but I had steaks both nights and they were good. Tuscan Grille - For Christmas Day dinner, we made reservations at Tuscan Grille, which was excellent. The restaurant is dimly lit, with large comfy chairs, making for a more intimate dining experience. I had the crab cake as a starter, which was ok. I was nervous that it would set the tone for the remainder of the meal. But, the Tuscan onion soup was incredible. So cheesy, so rich, so decadent. My filet mignon was cooked perfectly. My husband's ribeye wasn't nearly as good as my filet. Our dessert of creme brulee was delicious. They put pop rocks on it, so it tingles in your mouth and takes you on a bit of a nostalgic trip to your childhood. Very lovely. Ocean Liners - Totally disappointing. We went for our last night and wish we hadn't. It took them 45 minutes to bring me my cocktail that I had ordered (and never offered me a 2nd one). It took over an hour for our appetizers, which were not very good. Well, my goat cheese souffle was lumpy and grainy, but my husband's risotto was yummy. I couldn't eat the souffle, so I chose another appetizer...the crispy pork belly. It was better, but certainly wasn't delicious. (It took them over 30 minutes to bring the 2nd app). We both ordered the 3 petit filets, and both of our orders were way overcooked. It seemed like they had been sitting under a warming tray for a while (they probably had, since it took nearly an hour for our entrees to come after our apps). The waiter came by and asked how everything was, and I mentioned that our steaks were overcooked. He immediately brought over the manager, who apologized profusely. He said it was a very busy night (as my husband and I looked around and saw several empty tables...) He asked if he could get us anything else instead... by this time, we've been there for several hours, and we kind of just wanted to get back to our rooms so we can pack for disembarkation the next morning. So, we politely declined but he talked us into staying for dessert. He personally cooked my tableside flambeed crepe, and it was delicious. After all of that, he comped our whole meal, which was nice. Paying $40/pp for that meal/experience would have been unacceptable. Seaside Cafe: Lots of options, lots of people, lots of food. The pizza station was definitely popular. As soon as a pizza hit the station, poof - it was gone. People stalked it like vultures. The asian food station was yummy. The breakfast buffet had a really nice poached egg station. Very delish. We always sat outside on the aft sunset bar. Breezy, comfy and the staff there were great. Room Service: Severely lacking. We were hoping that we could sit on our balcony and have a nice quiet breakfast. However they often forgot items that we had ordered. One morning, my 2 fried eggs arrived, but my husband's omlet was nowhere to be seen. Instead, they gave him some cereal...but no milk. Food was cold and late. With so many other food options available, I wouldn't recommend the room service. Ports: Falmouth, Jamaica - A very nice gated community. Not a true representation of the Jamaica experience. Lots of high end shops for jewellery, diamonds, etc. You can tell this is a new port and was designed specifically for cruisers. The entertainers on the street were not pushy, and we weren't bombarded by annoying merchants. However, once you stepped into one of the jewellery shops - watch out! They start laying jewels and watches and all sorts of gorgeous and incredibly expensive things on you, trying to convince you to buy. They are pushy, but back off once you tell them no. Grand Cayman - A beautiful island. The tendering process went smoothly. However, when we were there, there were six (6!!) cruise ships tendering at the same time. It was crazy. Approximately 20,000 cruisers descended upon the same very small pier area at the same time. We waited for a long time for our excursion, which ended up getting cancelled. We were told that there were 3 different buses that were in accidents, so they had to cancel. We immediately went back to the ship. It was far too crowded and chaotic there to be comfortable. I think 4 of the cruise ships were Royal Caribbean. Seems like poor planning to schedule so many cruise ships at the same bloody time. Other: The ship was decorated in fine Christmas spirit. Lots of Christmas decorations helped keep you in the mood. In the tropical setting, it was easy to forget that it was Christmas time.... apart from the continuous Christmas music playing. As I mentioned earlier, we often sat at the Sunset bar on deck 10, and they kept playing the same Christmas CD over and over. It must have been "Destiny's Child Christmas album", because now Beyonce is haunting my dreams.... Don't get me wrong, she's got a lovely voice, but I don't know how the bar staff could tolerate her voice all day and evening every day. At any rate, the ship was kept very clean at all times. The pubic restrooms were immaculate. I had read reviews that the ship seemed old or antiquated, but I thought it was lovely. Yes, you'll see a few rust stains across a railing here or there, but the ship is traveling through salt water constantly. Rust is inevitable. The elevators move very quickly, but the stairs are roomy and wide, and are a good alternative for a quick bit of exercise amidst so many calories. The casino was nice, although some blackjack tables with lower min bets would be ideal. Disembarkation: Went very smoothly. We opted to take our own luggage, so we didn't have to follow the ship's schedule. It was nice. We woke up, finished packing some last minute things, and just walked off the ship. Very easy. Overall, it was a nice relaxing Christmas holiday. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We went on our first Christmas Cruise in December, 2012. We left on Christmas Eve from Tampa, and returned 5 days later. Since we live in Tampa, we drove to the port. We arrived at about 11:30AM. This seems to be the perfect time to ... Read More
We went on our first Christmas Cruise in December, 2012. We left on Christmas Eve from Tampa, and returned 5 days later. Since we live in Tampa, we drove to the port. We arrived at about 11:30AM. This seems to be the perfect time to arrive at the port, TSA security was less than 5 minutes, and check in took nearly no time at all. We were on board by 11:50. Note that you board this ship in Tampa on level 7 (Empress deck). With the exception of a few cabins on the Veranda deck, this is the highest level with rooms. Above us was a conference room. Cabin: E240. This is an aft cabin on Empress deck. The window had a 2 foot shelf before it, which was very useful as a place to store "stuff". A great extra. The room did not have a refrigerator, something we have never experienced on a cruise ship. In addition, in the corner of the room, there was a 3 foot by 3 foot by 3 foot box, which held the life jackets. To get out of the bed on one side, one had to crawl over the "box" to get out. I don't know why the life jackets aren't kept under the bed, or in the closet. The room also had 2 small end tables, and a single chair. No sofa. It had a large screen TV. The shower was a full size shower, the largest I've ever seen at sea. I mean a real shower. We had no trouble with water temperature variation when taking a shower. Storage drawers in the room were limited, as was the number of hangers. Adequate for a 5 night cruise, if you don't pack to heavily. The room was tired, but clean. Our steward operated in the background, and did a great job. The room was quiet, we heard no one. We generally try to be under something that doesn't have a lot of night time activity, and were successful.Food: This is a cruise, lots of food, of generally OK quality. I'm on a low carb diet, and they were unable to offer me food with low carbs. They simply brought the carbs, and told me not to eat them. For example, I don't eat potatoes. I couldn't successfully request to "hold the potato, substitute additional veggies". They simply brought the extra veggies. A waste. Our wait staff made the extra effort to get to know our preferences (decaff coffee) and the like, and were quietly efficient. We had the early seating, and everything went smoothly. Note that one member at our table was on a gluten free diet, and had arranged for this special diet ahead of time. This need continued to mystify the wait staff, I don't believe any meals were served without some sort of problem. Lido deck food was good, lines were never bad if the peak time was avoided. Cruise Director: Steve Cassel was the best cruise director we have ever had the pleasure of sailing with. He was excellent! He also plays a mean fiddle! I'm not sure what he is doing on a small ship like the Paradise, but he was everywhere on the ship, doing his best to make everything fun. Entertainment - Main Shows - Excellent. We were on the Carnival Freedom in September, these shows were better. The performers seemed to be having fun, which came through on the performances. The Cruise Director also played the fiddle in one of the shows, adding another dimension to the entertainment. Entertainment - Comedy. we went to only the adult comedy, both performers were sub-par compared to what we had seen on previous ships. Funny and "R" rated is OK, but just "R" rated is just dumb. Maybe we hit them in the wrong mood, normally we really enjoy the comedy. Entertainment - Live Karaoke - Absolutely terrific. This is a must see. Karaoke with the house band playing instead of a CD. The band was great, and the singer was excellent. One of our table mate performed, and the band got into it. This is a really good time. Casino - We never went. Other Entertainment - My only grip is that things seemed to be clustered together. Shows and comedy were on the same night. We did not go to the guest talent show, I cringe at Karaoke taken to the next level. Ports - Grand Cayman - A great port. We snorkeled at Eden Rock, a 5 minute walk from the tender port. $5.00 for a locker (we bring our own equipment) for some of the best snorkeling in the area. If you are a first timer, Stingray City is a must visit. We have done that multiple times. Grand Cayman is a clean, safe place to wander around and explore. We were only there from 8AM to 3PM, a bit short. Ports - Cozumel - We arrived at 11AM and left at 8PM, a bit strange. We went snorkeling with Mystic Divers, and Rosie arranged for us to snorkel the Columbia and Palancar reefs. We have been to Cozumel many times, and the snorkeling from the shore isn't very good The best we have found is at the Money Bar, that is OK at best. The the offshore reefs were fantastic. Lots of large fish, and very beautiful. For $70.00 each we received a small boat tour. From Carnival a similar tour was available for about the same price, but there were close to 200 folks on the boat. We had 2 people. The Carnival tour included booze, Rosie's did not. Fitness Room - Tired. Everything worked but it was old equipment. It was clean. Ship - When we get on and off the ship,there is rust streaming down from the portholes. This concerned me, as it indicates a lack of maintenance. Our cabin window was also filthy (from the outside). It seems like they are saving money on the little things, kind of sad since the cruise was so nice. Conclusion - This cruise was fun, and well worth the money! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
This is our fifth cruise and we have sailed previously on Royal Caribbean, NCL and Disney Cruise Lines. I travel with my husband and teenage daughter. I had high expectations for this cruise and some were definitely satisfied, but other ... Read More
This is our fifth cruise and we have sailed previously on Royal Caribbean, NCL and Disney Cruise Lines. I travel with my husband and teenage daughter. I had high expectations for this cruise and some were definitely satisfied, but other expectations were not met. Embarkation and Disembarkation were simple and well organized. This was the best among all the cruises I have taken and we were checked in and on the ship within 15 minutes. We took a cab from the airport which cost us $21 including the luggage. The ship is beautiful. It is comparable in size to the other ships we have been on (Norwegian Stat and Serenade of the Seas), but it is laid out to have more intimate spaces. I really like Promenade Decks and Deck 4 on the Summit does not go all the way around the front or back of the ship. The port side of Deck 4 has the smoking area and we were in a cabin below on Deck 3. There was definitely a smoky smell in our corridor. The best part if this cruise was the service and the food. The wait staff was amazing. We had Celebrity Select dining. They recommend you make reservations for the restaurant, but the only ones available were very late. So, we showed up around 6 pm every evening and were seated right away. The majority of the time, we had this amazing waiter named Hamilton and his recommendations on food were fantastic. Between Hamilton, Denisa (the Assistant waitress), Ronny (the sommelier) and Norris who brought us drinks, we felt pampered, happy and well fed. Ronny was especially amazing at selecting wonderful wines with dinner. We bought a 3 bottle wine package and the premium non-alcoholic package for my daughter. I believe these were quite a good value as we used both packages and the non-alcoholic premium package included bottled water, soda, mixed drinks and premium coffees. The entertainment ranged from okay to wonderful. The featured guest entertainers included a comedian/impersonator, a Latin guitarist, a piano/vocalist and an a Capella group who were awesome. The shows featuring the singers and dancers were unique and a bit bizarre. The performers were okay, but the shows were confusing and strange. The first show was about the movies and at the beginning appeared to be a chronological review of music in the movies. Unfortunately, it ended up jumping around the decades and ended with a review of Abba music. Sirens was an even stranger show. Who thought Sweet Caroline, My Heart Will Go On and Dreamgirls music should be in the same show??? Who singe song from the movie Titanic on a cruise ship? Very strange. Our cabin was small, but well organized. The beds were hard and terrible. Everyone ended up with a back ache! This was very disappointing because Celebrity is related to Royal Caribbean and Royal Caribbean have the most wonderful beds we have ever experienced and I am considering buying one from home. Another disappointment were the ship activities. There were only 2 Bingo sessions for a week long cruise. The arts and crafts were great, but the timing for many interesting activities coincided with shore times or dinner hours. I am not a party animal, but this was much too sedate. There isn't even karaoke. Our cruise went to St. Croix. We had booked a snorkeling tour of Bucks Island which was cancelled because of poor conditions. There isn't much to do on this island near port, so it was a waste of a day for us. We hired on onshore tour on St. kitts which was very good and ended up staying on Friar's beac for several hours. It was a very nice day and the Green Vervet monkeys are so adorable! We took a shore excursion to Trafalgar Falls on Dominica and had a great time on this beautiful island. Our guide, Leon, was exceptionally knowledgeable about the island flora, fauna and history. I can't wait to go back here! Our next stop was Grenada, which was more developed. We took the West Coast and Spice excursion and our guide was not very good. When we went to the plantation to see the spices and cocoa beans, he stayed on the bus and other guides showed us how all the spices were processed. Our final stop was St. Thomas, where we went to St. John's on our own. Overall, my family enjoyed the cruise, but would prefer Royal Caribbean or NCL in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
My Wife and I decided to try this new ship. Boarding was easy as we passed regular cruisers in the VIFP line and got on the ship in 10 minutes. The food was great on the ship. The buffet was good but always very busy. The Red Frog beer was ... Read More
My Wife and I decided to try this new ship. Boarding was easy as we passed regular cruisers in the VIFP line and got on the ship in 10 minutes. The food was great on the ship. The buffet was good but always very busy. The Red Frog beer was good and so was the snacks offered for $3.33 . The only negative comment about the cruise was how rough it was sailing out of Galveston. The day and night sailing back was no better with high winds and seas. Our room was 7235 FWD Portside. The waves crashed against the side of the ship making it very difficult to sleep with 90kmh winds and sea spray that reached our balcony. Montego bay is a poor place to visit. At the port there is little to see other than the port terminal with 4 stores in it and a bar. The shops next to the terminal are no longer in use and empty. You have no choice but to take a cab downtown to see more. The last day of the cruise we had to vacate our room at 830 am so it could be cleaned. The buffet was packed and the Southern Lights restaurant had a lineup. We were given tags #3 and had to leave the ship at 9 am. Our flight to Toronto was not until 520 pm. It was obvious someone goofed. We will never sail out of that port again or across the Gulf of Mexico due to the rough seas. Also the store on the ship had a small amount of liquor available. They were out of Tequila 2 days before end of cruise so we ended up buying it at the airport. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2012
Embarkation: We arrived around 1pm and parked at Galveston Park N Cruise. It was advertised as being right "across the street" from the cruise terminal and so doesn't provide a shuttle. In reality, it was a 3-4 block walk. ... Read More
Embarkation: We arrived around 1pm and parked at Galveston Park N Cruise. It was advertised as being right "across the street" from the cruise terminal and so doesn't provide a shuttle. In reality, it was a 3-4 block walk. The traffic around the terminal was crazy and I didn't want to make DH navigate it, so we walked and hauled our stiff. Next time, I'd pick a parking location with a shuttle. Once we arrived at the terminal, luggage drop-off was a complete zoo. Disembarking passengers were tying up the porters and it took a good 20 minutes to find someone to take our luggage inside. At that point we went to the check-in line and it was crazy long. We decided to go get something to eat and come back, hoping it would improve or at least that we wouldn't pass out from hunger while waiting to board (DH is diabetic, so this is a serious concern). We returned around 2pm and found the line was even worse. It took us two hours to get through the line, check in, and board. We had just enough time to drop our carry-ons in our cabin before being rushed off to the muster drill. The drill was held up by all of the people behind us in the line who were still waiting to board. This wasn't their fault, but it was hot and miserable standing around for 30 minutes waiting for the drill to begin. Cabin: We decided to splurge on a balcony cabin. The cabin itself was a good size and had plenty of storage. We found the bed and pillows uncomfortable (too soft for our liking). Our room attendant was great, aside from an unfortunate incident on the last morning when I emerged from the bathroom partially clothed to find him changing the sheets. I am someone who can laugh such things off, but I think he about died from embarrassment. The wind was terrible on our sea days, which limited our use of the balcony. It was nice to have, but I could go back to an OV or inside and not miss it. Sea day activities: This was our first RCL cruise. We'd cruised Alaska with Princess and wanted to try another line for comparison. We thought RCL would offer more activities, which may be true but, at least on this cruise, they were focused on families. Tons of kids were aboard, so I get that two adults sailing alone weren't the main focus, but we didn't find there was much of interest for us to do on the sea days. We aren't big drinkers and don't gamble, and those were the main adult-focused activities. We enjoyed relaxing in the solarium and walking around the ship, which was decorated beautifully for Christmas. We went to the nondenominational service on Christmas day, the ice show (which was great) and watched a movie poolside, but beyond that we didn't find any activities we wanted to participate in. By contrast, when we sailed Princess we often had to make a tough decision about which activity to do because there were several of interest happening at the same time. Food: We ate nearly all of our meals in the MDR. We had first-seating dining and were given a table for two, which was a surprise. I wouldn't have minded sharing a table and enjoyed the people we met while sharing a table for breakfast and lunch. We found the Windjammer breakfast and lunch not to be very appetizing the one day we went there instead of the MDR. Lunch in the MDR on sea days was very good, especially the salad bar. Breakfast was hit-or-miss in the MDR, which seemed to suffer from inconsistency. Sometimes the eggs were spot-on the way we ordered them, sometimes not. One day the French toast was amazing, other days it was dry from not enough time in the batter. Our dinner serving team, Anisha and Michael, were beyond wonderful. We got to know Anisha quite well as she often came to chat with us between courses. Michael was attentive and playful, giving us toothpick puzzles to solve over dessert. Anisha also provided good suggestions on food choices and we enjoyed nearly everything we were served. We dined at Chops for the Wine Pairings Dinner on the last night of the cruise and didn't enjoy it. The food and wine were just OK and not worth the $75/person charge. Ports: We booked a private excursion in Ocho Rios to Dunn's River Falls and the Cayoga Gardens. It was a crazy, busy day in Ocho Rios (Boxing Day, a national holiday) and DRF was crazy, but we had fun. If you go, avoid all eye contact with the vendors in the craft market unless you really plan to buy something. We had a bad experience here of letting ourselves get swindled when a vendor sucked DH into looking at his items. In Grand Cayman, we were a bit leery of scheduling anything due to the tendering situation, so we just shopped and walked around town. In Cozumel, we took the Chankanaab excursion through the ship. There were 6 or 7 ships in port that day and the terminal area was a mad house. Once we got out of there and over to Chankanaab, we had a wonderful time. In retrospect, we would have had more time there if we'd taken a taxi on our own and would have spent less on the excursion. Debarkation: Getting off the ship was almost as unpleasant as getting on. We spent an hour in line after our number was called. I don't really understand why they called us given that there were so many people in line ahead of us. I guess they needed us off ASAP. Other notes: We are big college football fans and were very pleased that many of the bowl games were shown on the poolside screen and in-room TV. That constituted our evening entertainment since we aren't much on going to shows. Overall experience: We might cruise RCI again, but wouldn't do a Christmas cruise. We had hoped for more holiday activities that weren't focused on families with small children. The ship was unpleasantly crowded and given the upcharge on the cruise over a non-holiday week, we felt we didn't get our money's worth in terms of activities or the onboard experience. I'm sure many of those with children or large family groups might find it worth it, but in general I felt like we paid extra to subsidize activities we weren't invited to participate in. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Our 18 year old daughter went on a Royal Caribbean cruise with her friend's family last spring, and she made it her goal to finally get us to agree to a cruise. We had considered them in the past, but the potential sea-sickness always ... Read More
Our 18 year old daughter went on a Royal Caribbean cruise with her friend's family last spring, and she made it her goal to finally get us to agree to a cruise. We had considered them in the past, but the potential sea-sickness always scared us away. However, she was able to win us over, and I booked a Christmas cruise on the Valor. The cool thing was, I had accumulated enough Amex points that the cruise was paid entirely with points. We arrived in Miami on the evening of 12/21, after a traffic-filled 11 hour drive from Charleston, SC. Note to self: the Saturday before Christmas is probably NOT the best day to drive I-95 South. Oh well, it wasn't TOO bad... We had booked a one night stay at the Hyatt Place Miami Airport/ Doral through www.stay123.com. I highly recommend both Stay 123 and the Hyatt Place. A very nice suite type hotel (two doubles, with fold out sofa bed/ sectional and free breakfast/ wi-fi). The hotel offers free parking for cruisers, so we were able to leave our car there and not have to deal with parking at the port. The hotel also provided transportation to the port via a third party company (Doral Transportation), of which, 2 of the tickets were paid by the hotel. So, we had to pay for 2 of us to get to the part and back. I think it was $12 per person per trip. I was able to park right in front of the hotel so I wasn't worried about anyone breaking into my van. The driver took us right to the front of the cruise terminal and the porters took our luggage from there. There was a line to get through the passport and security areas, but it moved along pretty quick. Same thing upstairs at the check in area. Busy but not unbearable. This was sometime around 12:30. Our cruise was a 7-nighter and went to Nassau, La Romana in the DR, San Juan and Turks and Caicos. Here are some of my observations, being a first timer: 1- I had heard so often that cruise guest rooms are tiny and not very nice. I was pleasantly surprised. My husband and I had plenty of space and the room was homey. Shower had nice, hot water. Closets provided plenty of room for clothes. Our steward, Paul, was EXCELLENT. Went out of his way to always keep our room and our daughter's in tip-top shape. We gave him a nice cash tip on top of the pre-paid gratuity. 2- Food was "okay". Plenty of it, no doubt about it, but all desserts tasted the same, too many repeat items on the buffet and missing some basics I would've thought would be there. How about spaghetti with marinara or meatballs, macaroni and cheese??? I waited in line 35 minutes one day for Mongolian Wok. It was good but the line was ridiculous. Burrito bar was decent, didn't try the burgers at the grill, but hubby said they weren't very good. They had two nights of Italian (with weird dishes), two American and two Caribbean. One french night too. What about Mexican? They shouldn't repeat ANY of the nights. 3- Ship was clean and service staff was extremely attentive and on the ball. 4- Hot tubs were cold and pools too for that matter. Which was strange because it was in the 80s during the day and didn't cool down too much at night. 5- Waited til the last minute to book our excursions. Two of them were actually sold out, but the excursion manager opened up more spots for us, which was really appreciated. We had a great time on the speedboat right in DR, the ziplines in San Juan and snorkelling in Turks and Caicos. Excursions were expensive but we wanted to go all-out for our first cruise. Next time I will know that Turks and Caicos has it's own free beach and we can hang out there. 6- I love to play Bingo but it was very expensive and they often only paid one game. So, you pay $20 and you literally play 5 minutes. I wish they would have bingo less often, but for a two hour timeframe. I would be happy to pay more than $20, but you at least want to feel like you have a chance to win. 7- Our cruise director, Felipe, was FABULOUS, as was all the entertainment staff including Peter, Assistant CD, Marie "Yeah Baby" bingo gal from New Zealand, Caitlin, Jenna the Princess and the super hilarious dance instructor (don't know his name but his Latin dancing class was one of the funniest and happiest things I've ever witnessed). 9- I wish there were more activities between 4-7 pm. Once 7:45 pm hit, there were tons of things to do, often overlapping, so you would have to choose. Not all of us are night owls. I was bored between 4-7 when there was very little going on. 10- Wifi is SLOW and not worth the money. My girls paid $30 for I think 30-45 minutes and it was so slow that they really only got 15 minutes out of it. We are already planning our cruise next Christmas, but I think we will go out of Port Canaveral on the Dream. First off, it shaves 4 hours off our drive and we want to see what the Dream series is like. We couldn't have been happier with our first cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Good points: -Zaandam much better than the Oosterdam in decor, service and company response to problems. Had a bad leak in my suite ceiling that took days to correct, but received a very generous shipboard credit and a cookbook plus ... Read More
Good points: -Zaandam much better than the Oosterdam in decor, service and company response to problems. Had a bad leak in my suite ceiling that took days to correct, but received a very generous shipboard credit and a cookbook plus apology note as compensation. Compared to the Oosterdam, where I had worse problems with cabin and an injury caused by HAL and I got no compensation or apology. -Shore excursions were excellent -Food was pretty good, Pinnacle Grill filet was outstanding, La Cirque fantastic -Entertainment at times was excellent -Embarkation and disembarkation very smooth -Hotel the night before, booked through my travel agent, Sheraton Marina in San Diego very good (not necessarily affiliated with HAL.) -Although I had a very bad spa experience with a too-young and experienced staff person, the spa manager quickly refunded the hefty sum I had paid in advance. -LOVE the Thermal Suite on HAL, though this one was WAY small. Pool was the size of a hot tub. BUT there was rarely anyone in the room, and what a way to relax! -Explorations Cafe really spacious, comfortable, and service was good there. -HAL continues to have the best guest to tonnage ratio, with lots of space and non-crowded atmosphere. However, at times this could be a negative for a solo traveler! Not so good points: -Service was not up to par for the price and supposed reputation of HAL Dining room staff seemed worn out or overworked, repeated requests needed for simple items like iced tea, etc. Chaotic, unacceptable situation with dining room seating. Some sort of "reservations needed" policy we were never notified about- "on your own" dining turned out to receive annoyance from restaurant manager, no table or a very long wait, and never could figure out what kind of system or lack of they were using. Many people annoyed, very long lines. 75% of the time, service overall could not in any way be described as "luxury," "gracious," or "outstanding." -Even though the restaurant food was good, the room service food was HORRIBLE. Unacceptable, poorly presented, served with resentment, and hardly edible. -Cabin steward(s) just okay. Just doing their job, and since you pay $11.50 per day for tips overall, felt underwhelmed so didn't tip them more. Was slightly put off by Cruise Director's heavy pitch on the last day for tips to the staff, when indeed, no staff member stood out for doing anything other than their job. -Unavoidable but still annoying culture/ language gap makes trying to complain or explain needs met with blank looks, non-responsiveness, or incorrect/ poor resolution, if any. Tendency to insinuate blame on the guest and a constant theme of NOT showing the kind of gracious, over the top service HAL advertises. A big gap here! -Very unclear when formal nights were- advance notice was the typical 2, but turns out there were 3, with hardly any advance and not clear notice. How are you supposed to pack or plan for that? Lack of enforcement of dress code for formal nights. -For the price I paid for my verandah suite, it was a rip-off. Very small, the bathroom was tiny, and the "jetted" tub was a disgrace. Not big enough for an adult, and all the jets didn't work. -The Zaandam is looking a little shabby, and for the price of my cruise, would expect stain-free carpet and not to see taped-together wood in a couple places. -This is the nature of HAL, so is more a mis-match for me as a youthful solo traveler, but a total lack of fun atmosphere. No club to dance, people my age acting much older, grumpy (how can you be unhappy when you get to go on a cruise???) and not everyone was unfriendly, but almost everyone seemed confused why someone would cruise alone. -NO gathering for solo travelers as I had seen on the Oosterdam schedule!! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
I have been on many cruises, but never a river cruise. When I saw an add for Viking's 2-for-1 special I knew it was a perfect opportunity. As far value for the money goes, this cruise couldn't be beat. We saw Switzerland, ... Read More
I have been on many cruises, but never a river cruise. When I saw an add for Viking's 2-for-1 special I knew it was a perfect opportunity. As far value for the money goes, this cruise couldn't be beat. We saw Switzerland, Germany, and France for a fraction of the cost. Every morning we woke up in a new port and got ready for an 8 am tour. While most people like to sleep in on vacation, it was definitely worth getting up. The tours were led by local guides and they were wonderful. They all spoke English very well and provided us with all sorts of detailed information about every town and village we happened to be in. The tours were a huge part of why this cruise was so wonderful. As far as the ship goes it was very nice. The cabins were larger than those on the ocean ships, and very comfortable. Breakfast was always buffet style in the dining room, but they also had a small menu that you could order waffles or omelets from. For lunch we were provided with 2 options, a buffet in the lounge, or table service in the dining room. Dinner was served everyday at 7 in the dining room and the menu always had a local dish so we could try foods from the region we visited during the day. The only bad thing I can say about this trip is that there was some sort of virus traveling around the ship and the staff neglected to tell us. We had 8 people in our group and 5 of us came down with this norwalk-like virus. I became so ill that I was unable to get ashore in Cologne, which should have been the best Christmas Markets on our trip. I also overheard other passengers commenting on being in local emergency rooms because they had become ill. It would have been nice for someone on the ship to mention that something was going around so we could take extra precautions, or for the staff to have been out disinfecting every surface like they do when viruses are detected on the larger cruise ships. If not for this illness this cruise would have been a 10 out of 10, but despite this setback I would still recommend Viking because of the great value. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We were excited about taking a Christmas Cruise, believing that it would be special. However, in our opinion, it fell far short of anything special. Christmas Day at sea was incredibly flat and we truly were disappointing. There were four ... Read More
We were excited about taking a Christmas Cruise, believing that it would be special. However, in our opinion, it fell far short of anything special. Christmas Day at sea was incredibly flat and we truly were disappointing. There were four of us travelling together and our ages varied from 37 to 71 and although we enjoyed our trip, we all felt it wasn't as exciting as we had envisions. We took an Alaskan Cruise last year and everything about that cruise was 90% better than this one. Please be advised however, that we only have that particular cruise to compare with - although one of our group members has other cruises to compare with. We will stay at this point that we will cruise with Princess again but likely will try others. The issue is, however, if you stay with one cruise line, you build up perks for the next cruise - so it becomes more difficult to change to another cruise line. Question to ask is whether this is important or not and if it is, how important is it. Embarkment: Booked transportation from the hotel through the cruise line and won't do that again as it took an incredibly long time to board the buses (3), load luggage, travel to the ship and line up to embark. It reminded us of the long lines at Disney World! We believe it would be faster (much) and cheaper to take a cab to and from the ship and to do it on your own. Cabin: on 10th floor and we were satisfied with our cabin and very large balcony. Our Steward kept the room spotless and did everything he could to make sure we were well equipped with whatever we needed. He was warm, gracious and happy and always interested in our day. The job is a thankless one and I think we all should give more attention to them as persons and as well to express our gratitude for what they do...if they do a good job. Service: Some really great and some not so much. Activities like games, flash mob dance, etc. were led by excellent and enthusiastic people. Personnel Devinci were excellent, from Michelangelo's not as much, from Horizons was really mixed and other areas relatively good. As mentioned, our steward was truly wonderful. Food: The food was hit and miss with some exceptional items and some not so great. "They" say people gain a couple of pounds a day (?) but my husband lost 4 and I remained the same. So if you don't make food the central part of the cruise, you needn't worry about putting on weight. a. Michelangelo's Dining Room (where any time diners could eat prior t0 7:30 p.m.)was extraordinarily slow and on some nights, some of us just got up and left. b. DeVinci Dining room (fixed dining time) appeared to be more efficient without rushing you, and appeared to have better quality of staff. We had any time dining but when they were too busy at Michelangelo's, they would bump us up to DeVinci. c.The Horizon Buffet wasn't the best although there were lots to choose from. Personally, I primarily ate the fruit, porridge and salad because I found the other items too greasy to consume. Will admit the buns were good! d.Other areas: We didn't eat at the speciality restaurants that cost $25.00 extra per person so can't comment on the quality of food there. Near the pool they offered pizza which we didn't try and ice cream that believe it or not, didn't care for. We did like the bakery in the piazza but tried not to indulge there too much. What we didn't like was that we had to pay for a so called better cup of coffee if we wanted to have a coffee with our dessert item from the bakery. Drinks from the bar were expensive. Entertainment: We all thought that the entertainment was very flat and frankly boring. a. Theater - The Princess Cruise Productions were very antiquated and although we don't fault the singers and dancers, we do question the producers thought process in creating these productions. We did, however, enjoy the comedians and the some of the Christmas program that included letters to Santa and Santa's 'response'! b. Piazza - truly a hit and miss! We enjoyed the steel drums but then when he appeared over and over again, it became a tad repetitive. Enjoyed the dancers but it was too short and they left the ship. The piano player (over and over again) was very uninspiring and not great. A cruiser took to the piano one day and was fabulous. Should have hired that person. Other areas: illusionist and others were nothing to write home about. Activities: Games and Mob Flash Dance were fabulous and helped make the cruise much better - thanks to those cruise members who had energy, humour, laughter and creativity! Excursions: Personally, we don't like to book excursions through the ship. On this trip one of our party did at the last minute and it worked out but it still was more expensive than if they had done it on their own. We find the ship excursions are too crowded, too expensive and too impersonal. If you do your research, you can find great tours before hand on your own. Also, you can find approved tour guides at port side and should be less expensive, more intimate and more relaxing. If you do it this way, I think the key is to book through approved people at the countries information center....at least that is our experience. Shopping: Well this is a dicey subject! For those who are interested in buying expensive jewellery (get it less) than you likely will appreciate what the ships and ports have to offer. You likely also will appreciate the information sessions offered on board for onboard and port shopping. However, we quickly got tired of it and as it wasn't high on our priority list, we bypassed as much as we could. We did like the clothing offered on board and purchased a fair number of pieces and were very happy with that. Costs: The cost for the trip was quite good but we didn't appreciate the nickel and dime approach to some areas. All inclusive resorts (and we have done many) include alcohol in the package but on the cruise ship are charged for and are expensive. There was also an up charge on coffee and soft drinks outside of the restaurants and of course the specialty dining rooms to the tune of $25.00 each. I mention this because people should be informed if they haven't cruised before. One irratating aspect of cruising is that they take photos for every occasion, post them and encourage (lol) the purchase of them. You constantly pass them on your journey somewhere else and at the end of the day, if you don't buy them, they are thrown away! What a waste and we found the costs for the pictures very expensive. We suggest that if they reduce the price, they likely would sell more and there would be less waste. Personally, we would be willing to pay a bit more for the cruise if there was less nickeling and diming involved. Appearances of Public Rooms and the Piazza: Excellent Overall: We were a tad disappointed but we believe life is what you make it and we are people that choose to have fun so that is just what we did. We met wonderful people including crew members, we participated in whatever we could with great energy and humour and we embraced the journey - worbles and all. We will do it again so please use our comments as a guide, only, to make your trip even better. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We cruised the week of December 16 through 23, and I have a number of observations that I'd like to share. Rather than a blow by blow review, I thought I'd address many of the controversial topics being discussed here on Cruise ... Read More
We cruised the week of December 16 through 23, and I have a number of observations that I'd like to share. Rather than a blow by blow review, I thought I'd address many of the controversial topics being discussed here on Cruise Critic. This was my 9th cruise, with previous cruises on Holland America, Carnival, Commodore, MSC, and Royal Olympia. My most recent cruises have been on Freestyle NCL, so comparisons will be mostly with Norwegian. Food Although the MDR fare is less gourmet that was previously experienced on Carnival back in 2002, we were pleasantly surprised by the overall flavor and temperature of our food. It is my feeling that many will enjoy the more approachable menu now featured. In no way is the MDR food comparable to Applebees or any other mass-market chain back on land, nor is it comparable to higher-end establishments. It fits somewhere in the middle. We did not enjoy breakfast in Red Sail (Lido buffet area), as the offerings were cold and didn't seem as fresh as they could have been. We also did not care for the processed eggs that were offered. Guys Burgers, the burrito offerings, fish and chips station and the pizza were all excellent, although we have some gripes about availability and wait times. Carnival has replaced MDR breakfast and lunch on sea days with a brunch, and we found no MDR lunches available while in port. This resulted in long lines in the buffet and other alternative dining establishments, especially when passengers return from shore looking for lunch or an afternoon snack. Carnival should better coordinate the availability of food venues with the times passengers return from ports of call to avoid excessive crowding. Service This is where Carnival shines, in my opinion. Most of the staff were smiling, greeting customers and seemed happy with their jobs. Service was both fast and efficient and at a level not experienced on 8 other cruises. Carnival gets 5 stars, in my book, for excellent service! Funship 2.0 We very much enjoyed the new food and drink venues, especially the Alchemy Bar. The creative cocktail concoctions are very well made with high quality ingredients. Drink prices around $9.00 are quite a bargain for upscale and robust cocktails and are a better value than those found on land. Activities and Music There seemed to be activities and live music at all times on the ship; it was a high-energy cruise, and everyone seemed to be having fun. We didn't find a lack of music or entertainment, especially in the evenings. While in Grand Turk, I had the opportunity to view the Sapphire Princess which was pulled up along the other side of the dock, and I was astounded by the lack of anything going on aboard that ship. It was really crickets on the Princess Ledo deck, as compared to the party going on aboard the Glory. Faster to the Fun This worked out great for us. Upon arrival at the terminal and clearing security, we were ushered to the front of the line, thereby avoiding a long queue of at least 100 people. We then waited for about 10 minutes before VIPs were allowed on-board, and we boarded approximately 5 minutes later. Having priority at guest services is also a big plus, especially the last night of the cruise. Cheers So, this was the first cruise on the Glory offering the Cheers program, and we signed up immediately. While we enjoyed the care-free aspects of this program, I can't say that I would sign up for it again. Mixed drinks on carnival average around $9.00, so we figure we'd have to enjoy at least 5 per day to break even. We soon realized that the Carnival's cocktails are stronger that those found in land-based bars, so we didn't always need or want to reach the 5 drink mark. In hindsight, perhaps sticking with bon voyage liquor plus one or two alcoholic drinks around the ship would have worked better for us. Carnival vs. NCL Although the service on Carnival was outstanding, I really missed the Freestyle cruising to which I have become accustomed on NCL. There are simply more dining options with fewer lines and hassle on Norwegian. I really HATED having to wait until 8:15 for dinner, as we were often hungry much earlier, and we didn't want to wait in line at the buffet. Freestyle is less regimented, more predictable and makes for a more relaxing experience, in my opinion. Scary Reviews on CC Based on my recent Glory experience, many of the extremely negative Carnival reviews are utter nonsense. Did we enjoy all aspects or our cruise? No, but we also managed to have a good time, and we feel we received a great value on Carnival. My advise to CC readers is to take all reviews with a gran of salt, then form your own impressions. Don't be held hostage by some of the outlandish opinions of others. Go and have fun! Overall Overall, we had a great cruise, and we would certainly recommend the Carnival Glory to others. That said, we are still exploring options on other lines including NCL and possibly Celebrity. The new Celebrity Reflection looks absolutely stunning, so perhaps we'll giver he a go next time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
Generally, it seemed to me that most people were very happy with their cruise but based on reviews, unhappy people are more likely to post. We went on the Xmas cruise from Dec. 22nd and off on Dec. 30th. This was a busy cruise with over ... Read More
Generally, it seemed to me that most people were very happy with their cruise but based on reviews, unhappy people are more likely to post. We went on the Xmas cruise from Dec. 22nd and off on Dec. 30th. This was a busy cruise with over 1600 children (under 18) and 4600 guests so much more than average. I would guess that they did not hire any extra staff for the extra people and that would be the cause of the few issues we had with the cruise. Embarkation: couldn't be easier. We were told not to show up before 1:00 pm so we didn't. Most who complained that I heard showed up early and had to wait either for their room or to get on board. We showed up at 12:55pm, walked right on very easily and our room was ready at 1:30 pm. Some were not ready so if a person chose to go in before it was ready, then they shouldn't complain if they are missing items. Room: cove balcony which we loved. We find them quieter and more private than the higher levels, plus we like being close to the ocean to see the waves and get some ocean spray on days that are a little rougher at sea. We were between life boats so we had sun for part of the day - less than a higher balcony but some sun. It was easy to get to the dining room and much of the activity is between decks 3 to 5 we found. Lots of storage space for the 3 of us. A recurring theme is that we felt the staff were over worked and had some trouble keeping up but we just had to ask if we needed something and it came on a timely basis, ie, towels. Maybe not quite as attentive as some other cruises but nothing to complain about - the staff knew us by name. Children - this impacted a few of the services, I think. Overall the kids were well behaved, didn't cause us any trouble and just added to the energy on the ship. I think it's obvious that adding a thousand extra people would add work for the crew and that's what we noticed. It was tougher for them to keep up overall though I wouldn't say it was because of kids since I saw a lot more whiny adults than kids. Drunk adults were a bigger nuisance than the kids of all ages. Entertainment - not as many shows as on previous cruises - 3 shows and one novelty act (juggler/comedian). We went to all and enjoyed them all but would have gone to more. We liked the old singing/dancing shows so i would have liked to have seen a couple of those thrown in. Lots of comedians and show times though the family ones were crowded (due to Christmas obviously). I would like to have seen graduated shows, ie, family, then maybe pg13 and then adult. I would go to the PG 13 but not the adult. We loved the entertainment, but really would have liked one or two more. Maybe we're spoiled... We like the daily trivia and games they have around the ship so we do those as well. Some people get carried away with this and overly competitive. I felt sorry for the staff person more than once. Big screen movies - always fun. Just don't go expecting popcorn because it took us over an hour as they were making 6 containers at a time. Ridiculous and avoidable. A small thing,but to the kids who were looking forward to it, it was disappointing to spend half the movie waiting in line. We didn't complain about not being able to dock at Grand Turk because that's not avoidable but this was a simple thing to fix. Deck parties. Personal choice. We did one cruise that had a competition between colors and that got everyone involved. This one was all dancing and drinking or so it seemed to me. If I knew how to do the line dances, I would have maybe participated more but the times for the lessons didn't work for us. Obviously, though, many people like this as it was very busy. No biggie - good time for a quiet walk around the ship or a movie in your own room. Kids groups/clubs. Some people do seem to just dump the kids into the camps and clubs and some kids really enjoy them. That works for some kids but not all. If it works for your kid, good for them. Use it. My daughter preferred to hang out with us and that was great for us. Dining. So, I'm not fussy. I didn't have any complaints but particularly liked Guy's burgers, La Cucina ( went twice) the pizza and then the dining room for breakfast and the evening dining. My hubby, though, said that he felt the buffets were lacking especially the breakfast buffet. He found it cold and just okay. Everything else he really liked though. Evening dining was very good in our opinions, except that if you wanted a beverage other than alcohol, it either didn't happen or took a long time. We just started getting one ahead and bringing it in with us. Lots of variety, healthy options if you wanted them and lots of grease if you wanted that. Desserts were a highlight all over the place. I believe Carnival does an effective job at keeping prices down by having good food and then offering options for a fee if you want a better quality (like the steakhouse, italian place, sushi) or you can always eat at port some days. I don't care enough about food to pay for a more expensive cruise so this works for me. If you are a real "foodie" then you might prefer a different/smaller ship that caters more to individuals. Carnival is about family, affordability and fun. Staff - worked their butts off from what we saw. Overworked with so many people but still smiling and doing their best. The energy these people must have amazes me. I saw the same people over and over in so many different places working what seemed to be horrible hours. We left some extra tips as did others at our table. Well deserved. Ports - Awesome! Loved Aruba and Curacao and will post reviews of those on trip advisor. Didn't get off on La Romana but it looked nice and I saw port staff helping drunk passengers get back on board safely with all belongings. We like to stay on board one port and have no lines. Did the ropes course, suntanned, thrill theatre, ping pong, trivia....all with no lines. Grand Turk - too windy to dock. Handled very well by the staff, all fees were refunded and we just went back to sleep. Woke up to a new fun times with added activities. Cruise director and staff are awesome!!! Kudos to them. No point complaining as no one can control the weather. Debarkation. Walked right off and got our luggage within minutes. There was a brief pause at one point when customs couldn't keep up so people just stayed on board a little longer. Well announced and not a big delay. We rented a car both before and after the cruise and stayed in Fort Lauderdale so we used the free shuttles offered by the rental companies to get to/from the actual port. Just make sure you confirm your rental registration and have the info - phone numbers, confirmation numbers to speed up the process. Some people didn't and that seemed to cause problems for them. A GPS is also worth its weight in gold for getting around Miami and area. We drove into Miami from Fort lauderdale twice and back so 4 trips. The time ranged from about 35 minutes to over about 75 minutes so allow for that. Ship - beautiful! I found it clean, fairly easy to navigate and could always find quiet areas if you wanted them especially at night. Deck chair hogs are alive and well and CArnival is working on that. I think an announcement that you do not own a chair would be helpful. There would be lots of space if people used what they needed instead of leaving towels all day. The number of people who felt entitled to do this surprised me as it's incredibly self absorbed. My suggestion: if someone leaves their towel on a chair long enough to be tagged and then removed, they likely do this all the time and they likely have been gone a lot longer than the 40 minutes. Keep the towel and they can pay for it when they disembark or pay to get a new one. These are the same people who don't tip, who complain about everything and without whom the cruise would be more fun. I would go again tomorrow if I could - we loved it. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
After trying other lines for the past 12 years, we decided to give NCL another try. We had only carry-on luggage so we opted to take the train from New Jersey, then a taxi to the port. We arrived at 10:00 a.m. and was pointed to a line. ... Read More
After trying other lines for the past 12 years, we decided to give NCL another try. We had only carry-on luggage so we opted to take the train from New Jersey, then a taxi to the port. We arrived at 10:00 a.m. and was pointed to a line. Shortly thereafter we were lined up to go through security, we were then seated in a waiting area. We spent approximately 90 minutes waiting before actually checking in and boarding. Our pictures were taken while checking in which was great as we avoided waiting on line to enter the ship. My first impression was that NCL has lost the Midas touch. Before the line was sold, we were always greeted with a white-gloved waiter with a welcome drink and thereafter we were guided to our cabins. A very cold greeting indeed. Unlike other cruise lines, access to all staterooms was blocked so you had to go directly to the buffet or restaurant for lunch. We dragged our luggage and opted to go to the Grand Pacific where we had a wonderful lunch. They offered an option to drop carry-on luggage at the Bliss lounge but we declined. A little after 2:00 p.m. we received an announcement that our rooms were ready. The stateroom was quite small and very difficult to move around in and, for someone with long legs, it was a challenge sitting on the commode comfortably. We requested one large bed but got two small ones which were quite comfortable so we left them that way but again space was very limited to move around. I was also disappointed that conditioner and lotion was not provided as I did not bring any since it was always available on other lines. I did not like the fact that everything was in a dispenser. Sort of cheapened the experience. They also did not provide a beach bag, which is customary on other lines so I had to ask the room steward to try to find a couple for us since we did not bring one. Meals and entertainment were quite good and I didn't see the need to pay for a specialty restaurant. The Groove International band was outstanding and very versatile. We had the pleasure of meeting the Executive Chef and Assistant Housekeeping managers. They were very professional and did their best to ensure that everyone was well taken care of. They are an asset to the company for sure. Our room steward, Christian, was also a gem. He did an excellent job taking care of our room. Once we experienced a few waiters the first couple of days, we asked for the same waiter, Norman, for the rest of the cruise as he was the best at what he does. The cruise director and his assistant are very good and quite personable but I have one comment about the Fountains show. It may have been entertaining for some but watching people exchanging bodily fluids by spitting on each other was not my idea of good entertainment and I thought it was a tad raunchy for the number of kids at the show. I did, however, enjoy his Beyonce Single Ladies performance. No paper and pen was provided in the room nor was there a daily news synopsis available, like on other lines, and the TV was very limited. Unlike other cruise lines, there was no form to complete indicating your disembarkation arrangements. You had to go to the front desk to inquire. Disembarkation was a nightmare and very disorganized. The worst I have ever encountered. They need more staff to guide people around and monitor the lines as people getting off the elevators were cutting the line which extended out into the cold. I was definitely happy to get off at that point. Overall it was a good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We occupied three staterooms, and Celebrity has been our line of choice for three of our first five cruises. First time on Princess for all of us. The Sapphire is a beautiful boat and our whole family really enjoyed the whole ... Read More
We occupied three staterooms, and Celebrity has been our line of choice for three of our first five cruises. First time on Princess for all of us. The Sapphire is a beautiful boat and our whole family really enjoyed the whole experience. I guess I'll start in the usual way; Embarkation. It was nice to utilize the Elite line for check-in as we had booked a suite. I can see why having this status makes life easier. Princess was very accommodating regarding check-in and the actual ship-boarding toward our children who were booked in balcony and inside cabins. When it was time to actually board the ship, they again made it very clear that we should all board together. First stop; the Sanctuary where we booked two spaces for the week. Even on the colder, windier days, we utilized our space from about 10AM to 2PM. It was nice to work on my iTunes inventory, while DH worked on creating a software program. If it was cold, they piled us with blankets, so the weather was not a problem. We would have been OK socializing if we had been approached, but it really was extremely quiet and peaceful. We did avail ourselves of the cabana couples massage and it was therapeutically enjoyable. I read it here on cruise critic, and I thought I understood the idea of an aft cabin, but MAN, what a walk! With the aft walking and really enjoying the fully covered promenade (with steps), it was great to find upon returning home that I had actually gone down two pounds! It was also sure nice to get familiar with the carpet colors so that we could distinguish starboard from port. Thanks again cruise critic. Hubby and I had a beautiful PH aft suite C757; category S3. The reason I mention the number is that we got to know our neighbors next door who had the same PH, but category S6. While the layout was the same, our cabin was a bit wider. We had a two person loveseat with a full size desk/lamp set-up in the living area, while the other cabin, C755 had a full size sofa, with no desk. The bedroom portion along with bath area was identical. Our balcony was wider as well. I'm not sure what to say about the mattress.... It was comfortable and the mattress itself was fairly normal, but the nice dense "pad" that aided in combining the two twins was extremely helpful. We did bring our own memory foam mattress pad, and then the bed was exuberantly comfortable. Large Jacuzzi tub was pleasant, and the shower head provided plenty of hot water and a good constant pressure. I really would have liked a handheld version, though. It measured about 32" square, so only enough room for one, and it was necessary to position the showerhead every day off to one side to avoid being sprayed when turning on the water. Oh yes, the mini-bar set up. We traded almost all of our liquor for water, because we forgot to bring some, and the trade in ratio was one for one, no matter what the beverage was. We had to call room service for this. Our room steward was named Jefferson (Jeff) and he was a great steward who cleaned up after us and efficiently kept our room ship-shape. We had started to utilize his services somewhat like a butler, but Jeff was very adept at channeling our needs to the specific person or department necessary. i.e. dining, shore-ex, ship's tour res, etc.... Being that we signed up before the deadline, we did receive free internet and although I never got kicked off, service was rather slow. Having free laundry was a relief because I forgot to pack a few things, and needed the laundry to keep up with our general usage. Also, DH spilled something greasy on his wool trousers, and sending them out for dry-cleaning was no problem at all. I also sent out a silk/satin top that needed pressing and it came back very smooth. Dining with Anytime Dining was a tad uncomfortable at first, but things did work out eventually. More on that later. First night was in Sabatinis because it was complimentary, and also we wanted to try it. It did not disappoint. Since there were six of us (yes, we did have to pay the cover charge for the kids), we were able to try and taste a good portion of the menu. Tender calamari; perfectly prepared filet, lamb, pasta samples, ....Fabulous. Anyway, more about Anytime Dining. Hubby and I prefer dining a bit later, so it never would have been a problem for us, but family really wanted it earlier. On this particular ship and /or sailing we were not able to book a standing time/table through the dining line, but the matre de at Savoy was able to get us a standing table for the last four nights of the voyage. Anyway, the system really is not effective and one cannot just saunter in and score a great table in prime time dinner hours. I witnessed many a scurrying crowd elbowing forward vying for attention. On the evening that we dined in Vivaldi, which was the first formal night, service was inconsistent. The waiter could not understand nor convey my daughter's wishes for a plate of vegetables. Yes, vegetables. After repeating the word back and forth so much that a stutterers voice comes to mind, she just said that whatever he brought would be just fine. Yes, we were laughing quite a bit, albeit under our breaths for quite some time. We all ordered the infamous Fetuccine Alfredo at one point or another and shared bites were usually requested. French Onion Soup, lobster tail, peppercorn steak, veal raviolis, baked chicked, fried chicken, all were good. Was it 5 star? Not really. But we were really having so much fun, that it did not matter so much. We also brought most of our wine with us, and we very happy to pay for corkage fees. Next comes Alfredo's Pizza. Well, the pizza is amazing, and after some awkward moments, the waiter finally managed to open our wine. Again, with the six of us, we ordered a real olio of combinations and it was very tasty to try everyone's concoction. Huge bummer not to be able to take it out of the restaurant and the menu could certainly benefit from a few sides and desserts. I heard other folks commenting about the same thing. It would have been fabulous to have it while we were enjoying wine pairings, wine tastes, bottles of wine, and even just a glass (or two) in Vines. I will get to Vines a bit later. OK, on to Savoy, where we spent three super wonderful evenings under the care of Allen. He was funny, clever and a great waiter. He listened when I mentioned a particular arugula salad, and then handed me a pad of paper and said to write exactly what I wanted. Even the orange vinaigrette was to my exact specifications, and from then on it was "my" salad, that was brought to me in the usual dinner course. He engaged my teenage son (17) with some clever magic tricks, and indulged my older son in his quest to consume the entire menu. Allen was nice enough serving our wine, but we did get the sense that he was quite unfamiliar with general wine service and could have used a bit more training in that area. A bit nicer stemware would have been appreciated, but was not a deal breaker. Two of my children enjoyed the afternoon tea service regularly, and were very happy with it. Also, they enjoyed the pub lunch immensely, and commented favorably about it. Ironically, Dear Husband and I seemed to find our way back around 2PM to our aft balcony to enjoy a luxurious room service lunch. Suite guests can order whatever is on the dining room menu and at one point, the lady on the phone asked for more time because she would need to visit more than one dining room for our request. We usually started the evening in Vines, and we participated in four wine pairings. New world, Old world, white wine and sushi, and lastly Champagne and chocolate. 10 people would gather at the big table and the sommelier would guide us along (loosely) and disseminate information and whatever witty wine gossip he knew. The server was named Florian, and he was the nicest most congenial man we had ever met. Funny, accommodating, never patronizing, tons of wine knowledge, I could go on and on. OK, he was quite good looking as well. There, I've said it. Anyway, we met quite a few nice folks there and by the end of the trip, it was quite nice to wander in and hear, "Hey! The Smiths were looking for you, they said to come back after dinner, they'll be here." All three of our children had a marvelous "night life." At the Ultimate Deck Party, it was hilarious to spot them one by one, moving to the music. We tried to discreetly boogie away to give them some space, but then bumped into another. It was great fun to talk about their previous evenings at dinner and to hear the ship's gossip. It is nice to see the current Facebook posts with all their new friends' names. DH and DS took the Ultimate ship Tour and really loved it. They were so excited with all of their new-found knowledge. They talked about the fueling delay and what it cost the ship in utilizing extra fuel to get to our next port on time. They both adored the bread machine that made all of those delicious dinner rolls. (I had at least two every evening). They also spoke about the different kinds of fuel that the ship can use depending on the Coastal regulations in effect. One last thing. It gave me immense pleasure to see the restaurant Vivaldi actually turn away a guest on the first formal night who was wearing a plaid farmer's shirt,jeans,and flip-flops. His significant other was ashamed of him and continued to grab his arm to get him out of there. She was dressed up a bit, although by no means formally, and really tried to get him to leave. He was not drunk as far as I could tell, just stubborn and well, whatever, you get the point. After a third manager had been summoned, they finally left. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
5 of us (all sister and brothers-in-law) spent 2 weeks on Christmas cruise. We enjoyed it and would recommend the ship but not for Christmas, as it was very limited in Christmas spirit. The ship was lovely - nice public areas, lovely ... Read More
5 of us (all sister and brothers-in-law) spent 2 weeks on Christmas cruise. We enjoyed it and would recommend the ship but not for Christmas, as it was very limited in Christmas spirit. The ship was lovely - nice public areas, lovely spacious stateroom. We had a balcony with obstructed view which reduced the cost and I would strongly recommend. The view was good - the only restriction is that you cannot see straight down into the water but that was little or no limitation bearing in mind that it was much cheaper!! The staff were the highlight of the cruise, friendly and efficient and helpful. Not just your cabin attendants were friendly but everyone - every member of staff you encountered or just passed in the corridors smiled and greeted you. Any small issues (and very few of those) were handled quickly and efficiently. We sat at the same table every day (although we used Select Dining) and the 2 waiters and wine waiter were superb - funny, friendly, and did their jobs excellently. Food was mixed - excellent in Oceanside buffet restaurant which was the best buffet eating area I have seen on any ship, with great food and good layout so few lines developed. Mixed in Moonlight Sonata main restaurant - some food very good, some good but not as described in menu, and some poor offerings - eg cheesecake which I literally had to spit out!! Steaks uniformly excellent. Enrichment excellent - great talks by 2 external speakers - one series about science (speaker was excellent) and one about geology. Also great talks by crew about navigation, engineering, and environment - they made the subjects very interesting. The main downsides were :- Sell, sell, sell !!!! - we always felt as if the staff were on commission - trying to sell you drinks, trips, spa treatments, items in the shops - it felt like a very hard sell operation which was tiring Christmas spirit - very little. There were nice decorations in the foyer and there was a Catholic priest who gave wonderful masses, particularly Midnight Mass on Christmas Day. But that was it!! No decorations on your tables, nothing to mark out Christmas Day except a carol concert which lasted precisely 7 minutes - enough time for 4 short carols. Also, a carol concert on Christmas Eve in the Grand Foyer which was absolutely packed (showing that there was a demand for such a thing!). It lasted 15-20 minutes!!!! Embarkation was well organised but desperately slow. However, that was great compared to the slow, disorganised chaos which was disembarkation - 30 minute delay in leaving ship followed by ages standing in line with no explanation. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We sailed the Southern Caribbean on the Breeze over Christmas, 2012. It was a pleasant cruise without many surprises. It was a nice, new, clean ship. And we all had a great time. OK...here's what you really want to know: 1) ... Read More
We sailed the Southern Caribbean on the Breeze over Christmas, 2012. It was a pleasant cruise without many surprises. It was a nice, new, clean ship. And we all had a great time. OK...here's what you really want to know: 1) Food. Overall, it was good. Indian, pizza, burgers, BBQ, main dining (be patient here, as is the case on all ships), and the buffet. All acceptable. If you are expecting gourmet (which some cruise critics seem to be expecting), don't bother getting on any ship, anywhere. Gourmet is back on land, in LA, San Fran, Chicago, ad NYC. One note: the sushi bar was kind of silly. Even the "basic" stuff they served wasn't like real 'basic" sushi / rolls. Piano Bar was cool. Red Frogs was cool. Outdoor bars were fine / small. 2) Active Pursuits. The kids on the ship seemed to love the rope course on the top deck, and the slide (my kids are 16/20, so they chill with the adults now). The gym was nice, but heavy emphasis on cardio....almost no free weights. Oh well....deal with it! The outdoor big screen is great. Mornings feature Lucy, Cheers, Honeymooners, and Happy Days. It's a trip down memory lane for us 40 something's. At night they show movies. You sit out on a warm deck, munch popcorn under the stars, and fall asleep watching a big flick. Loved it. Bball was on top deck, and the court is home to both roundball and soccer "tournaments." Also loved the The Library - chess, games, and a glass of wine. Casino was fine.....new, clean, the usual games, etc. Had 2 digital poker tables too....with scheduled meeting times for players that were interested. The shows were ok. 2 were decent / 1 pretty lame. Again, remember this is a cruise ship. It's not Broadway (Les Mis, Rent, Spring Awakening, etc). Make it a good time.... 3) Cabin. We had a cove balcony 2317. It was quiet - the only sound was the ocean going by. Room had ample space for a fam of 4 adults. Bed was very firm, but surprisingly, I slept like a baby. Maybe my bed at home is too soft? And yes...the stewards still offer "towel animals" to greet you at night. 4) Personnel. We found most all Breeze team members to be extremely nice. A big shout out to Anil (from India) in the Sapphire dining room (he was our official waiter even though we did not have a reserved seating assignment) and to Alexandria (from Serbia). 5) Ports. Alas....we were saddened because the stop at Grand Turk was cancelled. It's my understanding that this isn't the first time that this has happened. Something about the the dock not being stable enough to handle the boat if the chop is too much? I suppose it's easier said than done, but Carnival guys, why don't you build a better dock? It's essentially a cruise line dock, right? In the Dominican we went snorkeling on a CAT (sailed out to Catalina Island).....I don't recommend it. The snorkeling just isn't that good. We would have inked a different deal, but it was Christmas, and much of the island was closed. In Curacao we did an island tour with a beach stop at the end. It was OK. Aruba? Forget about it. LOVED IT. The water was awesome, snorkeling was great, and sand was powder. I'm ready to pack up and move there. Overall.....I recommend booking ALL excursions pre-cruise with private operators, or after you get off the ship. EVERY port has cabs and tour operators at the dock. Ship personnel may try to scare you with the Dominican stop....don't let them. While it's true you can't "walk off the dock and into the city," the port "compound" itself has cabs and city tours available, and cost is wayyyyy less than with the ship. 6) Embark / debark - awesome, easy, fastest of any ship I've been on (about 10 so far). Also, just wanted to mention that this week the ship was full since it was Christmas time. 4000+ passengers and 1300+ crew. And yet the crowds just weren't. It felt crowded almost nowhere. I couldn't believe it. What else? I saw people complaining on the ship, just like here on the cruise critic boards. Give me a break. These trips / cruises are what you make of them. Go in having fun, with a laid back attitude, and, knowing NOTHING can spoil your trip, and you will enjoy your vacation. If you are expecting ground breaking service and food, ports that are fairy tales, and the ultimate that life has to offer, you should stay home in bed, with your head on the pillow, and keep on dreaming. I'd take this cruise again.....peace out. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We enjoyed a one week Christmas Market cruise on the River Beatrice, going from Passau to Budapest December 2, 2012 Ship: The ship is well designed and very nicely appointed. The public areas are beautifully decorated and comfortable. ... Read More
We enjoyed a one week Christmas Market cruise on the River Beatrice, going from Passau to Budapest December 2, 2012 Ship: The ship is well designed and very nicely appointed. The public areas are beautifully decorated and comfortable. The dinning room could use more small tables, as most are tables for 8 and you almost have to shout to talk to someone across the table. The overall noise in the dinning room is louder than the River Countess or River Duchess. Staterooms: This is where the ship really excels. We had a suite and it was superb. The room was large, and well designed. There was an abundance of closet space. The decorating was top notch. The bed and chairs were both very comfortable. The bathroom was of a nice size and well designed. Shower was larger than any river cruise boat, though the water pressure was terrible (more latter). Staff: We experience inconsistent service. The Captain (Tom Buining) and the Hotel Manager (Mario Mirao) were outstanding. They were both always present and very approachable. The Cruise Manager (Markus Schindelegger) was one of the best we have experienced. He was very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. The service in the dinning room was somewhat disappointing. Once the main course is served, the waiter rarely checked back to see if everything was satisfactory. On the nights the Captain dined in the room, we never would see our waiter between the main course and ordering desert. Our waiter (and others) would spend all their time at the Captains table. The overall service in the dinning room was not as good as on the River Duchess or River Countess. The worst overall service was on the last night and several guests commented that that was not a way to leave a good impression. The consensus at our table is that they need more wait staff. The other disappointment in the staff was the "Butler" service for the suites. I put the term in quotes, as I would not use that term to describe was service (or lack thereof) we received. When we first arrived on the boat, the "butler" took us to our room. His information about the room amenities was very limited and he only brought in one of our suitcases, leaving the other in the hall for me to retrieve. Except for when we first arrived on the boat, we only saw out butler in passing in the hallway, in the specialty dinning room (were he serves dinner) or serving the Captain's table in the main dinning room. We have had butlers on other ships and have found them very responsive and they seamed to anticipate our needs; but this was not the case here. We were never asked by our butler how things were going or if we needed anything. I don't feel we should have to run him down to obtain assistance (and even when we did, he did not do anything). Our assistant butler was very personable and always gave outstanding service in the dinning area, but we rarely saw him otherwise. When we experienced an issue with the lack of water pressure in our shower, I first contacted the front desk to report it. After a day of no action, I contacted our butler and asked him to have it addressed. After yet another day of no resolution, and no communication from either the front desk or our butler, I contacted the Hotel Manager directly. The situation was rectified in about an hour. He also checked back with us the next day to ensure it was working properly. The response from the front desk and the butler is not the service I would expect on a Uniworld ship, especially in a suite. Food: This is where the ship slipped a bit from our other River Cruises. The main issue was the menu choices. In general the food quality was good to very good. Unfortunately, the steaks were never cooked correctly (we asked for medium well and the steaks were medium rare at best), and we could not get our waiter's attention to exchange them until everyone at the table had finished dinner and he returned to see what we wanted for desert. The chef is trying to be too fancy and needs to have a menu that appeals to a wider number of persons. On one night, the choices were duck or fish. Half of the table did not like either choice. (I heard this complaint from several others on the cruise) Lunch was usually the best food. The soups were excellent, as were the vegetables. There was always a nice selection of main courses to choose from. There is a specialty restaurant at the rear of the ship that seats about 24 persons. They served 3 specialty dinners (fixed menu) in the room that you could sign up for and one for suite guests. The food and service in the special dinning room was excellent both nights we tried it. All lunches and dinners included a limited choice of free beer and wine which were usually very good. In short: Raves: Wonderful ship design with great furnishings, outstanding cabin, Captain, Hotel Manager and Cruise Director, Lunches, Itinerary, Daily Laundry service in suites Disappointments: Dinner Menu selections, "Butler" Service, Overall dinner food service in main dining room, allowing children to run in the hallways Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2012
My DW and I made a last minute decision to try and get a New Years Eve cruise booked. Given the cost of last minute flights, we looked specifically at something that was within an 8 hour drive from our home in Toronto, which pretty much ... Read More
My DW and I made a last minute decision to try and get a New Years Eve cruise booked. Given the cost of last minute flights, we looked specifically at something that was within an 8 hour drive from our home in Toronto, which pretty much limited us to Baltimore! We were able to find an Outside Cabin on the December 29 departure and booked it via an online agency. Our drive down was rather uneventful. We came in the night before but did not take advantage of the numerous 'stay and park' offerings in the area as we were staying on points. EMBARKATION DAY The cruise ship terminal is located just off of I-95 and was easy to find using the instructions on Royal's website. Parking was straightforward ($105 for the week paid upon arrival) but was a little time consuming as the port authority had only two kiosks open, and neither of the parking attendants were in any hurry. We arrived at a little before noon and had about a 10 minute wait to go through the security check, followed by another 10 minute wait to check in. most of the delay at security was due to passengers not paying attention to requests to remove metallic objects, etc. resulting in an alarm and subsequent additional inspection. Once checked in, we were able to head straight onto the ship...but were not allowed to go to our rooms. This is not the first time that we've had this situation and we've gotten quite good at lugging our carry on luggage around but nonetheless it makes for a crowded lunch up in the Windjammer buffet. Before I go on further, just want to mention that this was our third cruise this year; with earlier cruises being on Celebrity and Disney. THE SHIP I had heard that the ship was getting on in years but we found it to be very well looked after. The recent drydock refurbishment showed, with new carpets in many areas, flat screen TVs in the room, touchscreen displays in the common areas, and redecorated cabin bathrooms. The centrum is fantastic looking. The ship was still decked out for Christmas with a large tree in the atrium along with a display of gingerbread houses. Even though the ship was very full (2490 passengers - much higher than the double occupancy rate) we never felt crowded outside of the Windjammer cafe. One major disappointment was the solarium. It was advertised as an adult only oasis but, due to the inclement weather for 3 days of the cruise, the non-existent enforcement of the rules, and the location of the Park Cafe in the solarium, there were kids everywhere! We were looking forward to a quiet oasis for at least some of the cruise. The crew kept the ship very clean during our cruise. THE CABIN We had a Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom on Deck 4. We typically go for a balcony but none were available at the late time that we booked. The room was clean but much smaller than what I was used to on Celebrity and Disney. Not a big deal for us but I am sure families would have had issues with this cabin. Our steward, Humberto, made at least three visits a day to keep things clean and well stocked. FOOD AND BEVERAGE We were only able to book My Time dining as both the early and late seatings were full. The My Fair Lady dining room has two levels, with the upper level now dedicated to My Time dining guests. We have the same complaints as others -- service can be indifferent! However, we did find a waiter we liked on the second night and arranged to be in his area for the remainder of the cruise. I strongly suggest doing the same if you are doing the My Time dining. I did get a chance to talk to our waiter (name withheld - I'd hate for anything to come back on him) about the My Time dining. It's a much different process from the assigned dining. With the assigned dining, waitstaff are able to collect orders 'all at once', submit them, and then spend some time with diners. Again, once the course is delivered, the waitstaff has time to follow up and find out if there are any issues. As well, since they have the same guests every night, they can make better suggestions regarding menu choices. The My Time dining results in waitstaff having people coming in at all different times. Couple that with no reduction in the number of guests served by a waiter and there is less time to interact due to the less efficient process. If you could get assigned to the same waitstaff every night it did get better but you certainly didn't get the same experience as the set dining times. One final item: the EOS has two galleys in the MDR. The upper galley, servicing the My Time diners, closes at 9:00 pm, resulting in added effort for the waitstaff as they need to traipse downstairs to the lower galley to get meals after 9:00! Royal really needs to do something about this! The MDR food was hit and miss. My wife is a vegetarian and, like most cruise lines we've been on, Royal has poorly executed vegetarian entrees. We were quite disappointed that the many curry dishes that used to be on the menu had disappeared with the redesigned menus introduced last month. The Windjammer cafe was a typical buffet. Okay food and lots of people! The layout made for plenty of traffic jams! However, you could easily avoid it by eating a little later (after 1 pm). The Park Cafe is a new addition to the EOS and was a pleasant surprise. They had a nice selection of sandwiches, desserts, and a build your own salad station. We didn't try the added fee steakhouse as we heard a number of comments that it was basically the same as the MDR, just with larger portions. I would have liked to see Royal put an Italian or French dining experience in place. Royal was offering the 'all you can drink' package on this sailing - not sure if this is the first time for the EOS. There are a couple of drawbacks to the package. First off, everyone over the age of 21 in the cabin must purchase the package. Not useful if one person doesn't drink, as is the case for us! Secondly, and more importantly, we saw a few people who were doing their utmost to make sure that EOS lost money on their drinking! This did ruin the atmosphere some nights in the dining room. I did find the soda package to be a good deal. It was nice not to have to pay every time I ordered a coke! ENTERTAINMENT The EOS had a wide variety of entertainment for cruise, with one exception that I will come to shortly. The headliner shows were a mixed bag. We went to all shows except for the trio of Broadway singers (really not our thing). The stage productions were mediocre at best, with the "Can't Stop the Rock" show on day 6 being downright awful. The magic show (Haines Magic) was fantastic - easily the best show of the cruise. Additionally, the do a 'behind the scenes' lecture in the daytime that is terrific. The husband and wife juggling team was very good as well. They were very passionate about their craft and it showed. Both comedians were mediocre. Neither were able to really connect with the crowd and, other than the headline shows, were pretty much invisible. We tried to take in most of the Trivia contests (there were at least 3 each day). They are a lot of fun but a few of the crew had trouble with English so the flow was poor. Luke, the cruise director, was much funnier than either of the comedians on board and we looked forward to his appearances. I did mention one exception to the variety of entertainment: on the last full day (a sea day) there was a dearth of things to do. I expect Royal was thinking we would be out on the deck enjoying one last day of sun...which isn't going to happen in the North Atlantic in January! Many cruisers mentioned that there was very little in the way of planned activities on the last day. THE PORTS The ports visited was probably the weakest area of the cruise. Port Canaveral has very few options - we took a shuttle to Cocoa Beach and hung out for the day. Some cruisers went to Disney World even though they were warned about extremely long lines. Royal really should consider doing something else than visit Port Canaveral. We arrived at Nassau on New Years Day to a deserted town! Seriously, there might have been ten stores open. I've been there a number of times and always found it hectic...except this time. My wife was prepared to do a lot of shopping and was, needless to say, disappointed. Coco Cay was the best port visited. The island was quite nice even with two ships visiting (Majesty of the Seas was there). We tendered out early in the morning, grabbed some sun, and headed back to the ship for lunch. We then went back out in the afternoon after refreshing ourselves for a while on the ship. The tendering process was well run - you obtained a tender ticket and headed to the tender when your number was called. OVERALL Generally a pleasurable cruise experience! We found the ship to be in much better condition than expected. Service in the MDR and the cabins was excellent; other areas tended to be somewhat indifferent. Given that I was on Disney and Celebrity earlier this year, I would rate Royal as having better food than Disney, but worse than Celebrity. Disney and Celebrity had much better service than Royal. Interestingly, we never saw the 800 kids on our Disney cruise but the 400 kids on this cruise were very apparent! Royal could take some cues from Disney on how to keep the little ones engaged and entertained! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
For the past several years, we've opted to cruise for New Year's. Usually it's been a 3 to 4 night cruise, this time we opted for 7 days. Although it was a great getaway, I have a few comments to share if you plan to go next ... Read More
For the past several years, we've opted to cruise for New Year's. Usually it's been a 3 to 4 night cruise, this time we opted for 7 days. Although it was a great getaway, I have a few comments to share if you plan to go next year to be aware of. Let me start by saying, I have 2 sons, so it's not that I don't like kids, I just don't like spoiled rotten kids. I like Princess because it's usually a cruise line with mostly adult travelers and even when there have been children, it's usually not a problem. This time around, we were not happy with the amount of children running around EVERYWHERE. What do I mean by everywhere, I am referring to kids going to the middle of stage during performances at the clubs. Parents just did nothing to prevent this from happening. This happened a couple of times and then during the production shows the kids were just plain obnoxious and the parents thought their behavior was funny! Did this spoil our week, absolutely not, but it did disappoint me to see parents being so unconcerned of others. Therefore, if you are going during vacation times: Spring Break, Summer, Christmas or New Years, know you will definitely have more kids than usual. Now to Ruby Princess -- the service level has decreased a little in the Restaurant, although the cabin steward and others were great. We were in the Botticelli Restaurant and we had to wait for services that are usually pretty standard, like refilling your water glass. The food was very good and there is really no need to pay for the specialty restaurants. What I find is that most cruise lines, including Princess and with the exception of Disney, are trying to nickel and dime you for things that are a little silly. What I mean is you have a "coffee" card for specialty coffees, for example, for a cappuccino at dinner, which previously was included. You pay and get 15 coffees. I find that a little silly and unnecessary. The Coke cards are expected and reasonable around $4/day/person and the smoothie card $7/day/person. We purchased the smoothie card for my husband. Looking back on it, how many smoothies can you have a day? To me, it was not worth it. Back to nickle and dime you: In the Piazza they have an area with fine pastries and nice snacks and salads at no cost which was extremely nice, especially when we arrived from the tours and don't really want to eat something too heavy but something to munch on until dinner. Then, you find a sign right next to this, $1.50/scoop for ice cream, which I find ridiculous! We opted for the second seating, which is the way I always go. Nevertheless, I found out waiting to disembark, that even if you choose anytime dining you can arrange a reservation at the same time every day and if you like your waiter, you can request that they serve you. I have to give them a kudos, they have made more table for 2 persons available, which is great if that's what you prefer. Fabio, the Matre'd at the Botticelli, was wonderful. Overall, we had a great time. Would I do this cruise again? Absolutely, but this time around, we will be better mentally prepared of what to expect and what to and what not do. Shopping, we found the best prices for tablecloths and jewelry in St. Maarten, don't wait until St. Thomas, I found the things more there more expensive. I didn't check the price for the liquor to compare, and we bought the liquor at St. Thomas. I felt very safe everywhere, which was great. Transportation: St Maarten, $7/person to get to downtown, roundtrip unlimited times St Thomas $4/person from pier to downtown, worth it Grand Turk none needed all is right there for beach Princess Cay none needed either Coke card does not work at the beach, but the cruise card does work to charge you for whatever you drink (water, soda or liquor) at the same price as in the ship. No cash is accepted for drinks only cruise card. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Had a wonderful Christmas holiday with the family on board the GP. Food was fantastic, MDR, HC, and Crown Grill. We did anytime dining and never waited more than 3 minutes for a table even though there was usually 7 of us, and this cruise ... Read More
Had a wonderful Christmas holiday with the family on board the GP. Food was fantastic, MDR, HC, and Crown Grill. We did anytime dining and never waited more than 3 minutes for a table even though there was usually 7 of us, and this cruise was at full capacity. The shows were all very entertaining, and considering our group ranged from 13-67 years old, that is really saying something! We had a balcony room, E201, which is right at the front of the promenade deck. You can see peoples heads (through the glass) as they walk by, but the glass is mirrored so they can't see in and that portion of the promenade is closed at dusk so there is no traffic at night. The only complaint we would have is that the youth program (13-17) is poorly run/supervised. On Christmas Eve they had a movie night, which is fine, HOWEVER, the movie they ran was a horror flick called The Ring. My 20 daughter and 18 year old son told us they had seen it at a friends house several years ago, (unbeknownst to us), and they both said it had freaked them out for several weeks afterward. Needless to say that as soon as we found out what was playing, we phoned to complain as our youngest is only 13, besides which, it was just a bad decision to play that genre of movie on that night! The initial response to our call was that it was a "company approved movie" that had been voted on by the kids. My wife informed the person that she was talking to that sometimes the "adults" have to make the right decisions and she would be sending a written complaint to the company with a copy to the Captain. 2 minutes later we got a call back from the program director apologizing for the movie choice and saying that they had shut down the movie. Other than that one incident we can't wait to go again! Just have to get the bank account fattened up a little! Like my waistline:( Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We booked this New Years Cruise on the Carnival Splendor over a year ago; we got a great price and a free upgrade at the last minute. Overall, we had a very enjoyable cruise that we would not hesitate to do again. My huband and I are ... Read More
We booked this New Years Cruise on the Carnival Splendor over a year ago; we got a great price and a free upgrade at the last minute. Overall, we had a very enjoyable cruise that we would not hesitate to do again. My huband and I are experienced cruisers; however we are not particualry loyal to any cruise line. We are Platinum level past guests with Carnival. Over time, we have noticed a lot of changes within the cruising industry; cost cutting measures mostly that have affected Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Carnival - the cruise lines we cruise with the most. Although some of my comments reflect my disappointment, it's mainly due to the fact that I know what it was like before. If you are new to cruising, my issues shouldn't phase you. And if you and I are in the same boat - well then, don't let the little things bother you! I certainly didn't. So please take what I say with a grain of salt, and just know it's my opinion and what it's based on! Enbarkation We spent the night at the Hotel Maya and took the 10am shuttle to the ship. I checked in with my husband and waited in the enclosed VIP area at the Long Beach Pier until we were escorted to the Priority Boarding Line around 11:15am. We then went through security and onto the ship. Cabins were ready around 1pm; until then, we had lunch on the Lido deck. Stateroom 2360 - Ocean View We originally booked the least expensive inside cabin over a year before the cruise; the Friday before our departure, I received a call notifying us that our stateroom was no longer available; however, we would get a cabin a few doors down - with a window! We were not given a choice, but we were pleased as we went from an inside to an outside stateroom. The only downside was the the fact that our Stateroom Attendant was not notified that we were Platinum Guests, therefore, we had to constantly ask for our ameitities - the free drink coupons, the party invitation, the free gifts, etc. Dining We had Anytime Dining. It worked out very well for us - we ate early some evenings, late others. We never had to wait for a table. Food quality good; we generally found what we liked and never went hungry. I especially enjoyed the salmon. I ate in the buffet one evening, and it too was okay - same quality - no better or worse than what was available in the dining room. No fine dining by any measure, but not bad. Food was served warm and service went well. To our surprise, they still sing and dance every night in the Anytime Dining Area in the Black Pearl restaurant - on other ships, the anytime dining rooms are spared this annoyance. We ate dinner the first night up in the Pinnacle Steak House; the meal was excellent (though not gourmet) - typical of what meals in the dining room "used to be". We appreciated the free bottle of wine (something you get when you book the first night). Although $80 ($70 plus $10tip) seems at first steep, we felt it was a good value considering it included a bottle of wine. Entertainment We never give Carnival high marks for entertainment; we find there isn't much to do on sea days and evenings. We did however find a rock band towards the end of the voyage that was fun to listen to. We also thought one of the comics on the ship was funny, but we got to see him only once. The shows in the theater weren't too good, but if you have never been to this sort of show, I am sure you would find it enjoyable. Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta Ports of Call We booked two scuba diving excursions through the cruise lines in both ports of call; water temps were in the low 70's with poor visibility, but it was fun getting wet. Dive operators were fine; no better or worse than what you could do on your own. Due to limited number of dive operators in both ports (little competition) booking your own dives would not have saved us any money. Neither location in December or January proves to be great for diving or snorkeling, but as certified divers, it's something to do. Conclusion The Splendor was a beautiful ship, still in tip-top condition and a great choice for the first time cruiser or the budget conscious family. Pricing is very competative, but as is often the case, you get what you pay for. As long as you are okay with saving money and you are willing to give up a little in food quality and entertainment value, you should have a great time. We knew what to expect, and felt Carnival exceeded our expectations (afterall, we got a very generous free upgrade). Service was good - we noticed cuts here too. But we are easy to please. We had no trouble bringing boxed wine in our checked bags and enjoyed it all week long. We met a lot of nice people from our Roll Call here at Cruise Critic, so despite a few short comings, we managed to have a great vacation, and would not hesitate to do it again. Thanks for reading my review. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
Let me begin by saying it has been several years since we have chosen Carnival for our cruise vacations. Why? In 2007 I reached out to Carnival for a quote on a sailing for my family of 22 persons out of New York! Never got a reply! We ... Read More
Let me begin by saying it has been several years since we have chosen Carnival for our cruise vacations. Why? In 2007 I reached out to Carnival for a quote on a sailing for my family of 22 persons out of New York! Never got a reply! We eventually chose a cruise on NCL. A $25,000.00 cruise that Carnival didn't seem to think was worth calling me back about! My experience with NCL has been documented and, let's just say, we will not be aboard any of their ships in the future. That's a different review published here on Cruise Critic 5+ years ago! Back to the Carnival Conquest. We left NJ on 12-23-2012 at about 7:45AM and flew to New Orleans where we were met at the airport by a representative who was quite nice and she immediately got the two of us and our luggage to the "Transfer Station" around 11:00AM NOLA time. About a half hour later we were on a bus ride to the New Orleans Cruise Terminal. The driver ( I wish I remembered his name ) was a self appointed tour guide and "football analyst" along the way! A really nice person who made the trip both relaxing and somewhat comical as well. The New Orleans Cruise Terminal experience was somewhat typical of any we have experienced over the years. No problems at all. We were checked in, given our key cards and waited about half an hour until we were able to board the Conquest. Again, all went well! It took less than an hour more and at about 12:00PM we were in our cabin with luggage arriving there in less than 20 minutes or so later. Staeroom 9284, Lido Deck, is a balcony cabin on the Starboard side of the ship. Really quite close to the Lido Pool area and Cezzanne buffet as well as Guy's Burgers and a couple of bars and The Blue Iguana taco stand. I generally look for this location on any cruise since I love to just walk out and wander around and my darling other half usually prefers lounging with a book near the main pool area of any ship. It's also nice to be able to go for a cup of coffee, light breakfast, ice cream or a refreshing glass of lemonade without having to travel several decks by elevator or stairs. Well worth the nominal upgrade cost associated with this class of stateroom. The Lido area is also home to the "Seaside Theatre" which had something showing 24 hours a day. And, yes, they actually showed somewhat current movies in the evenings. The stateroom itself was "tired" to put it nicely. Stained carpeting and couch. Chipped wood on the vanity and closets, which there were plenty of. Just a general lack of upkeep seemed to be the problem even though this ship was refurbished not that long ago. We had chosen "Your Time Dining" which was restricted to the Renoir Dining Room, lower level. This presented no problem at all. Dining began at 5:45PM and there were no real lines any evening. We ate there 6 out of the 7 nights. Wait staff was excellent overall with special kudos to Rena's team. We were served by them on five occasions. Now, the little woman almost became actual friends with the bar waitress, Agata. This young lady from Poland had only been working aboard the Conquest for about 4 weeks. No prior cruise ship experience! But, believe us, you would never have known that. She was excellent! The menu was lacking in any variety of selections and the food was not of the caliber once served on a Carnival ship. Something that had changed since our last cruises with Carnival. A downward trend in dining experience! We will now take a look back at the shows we saw in the Toulouse Lautrec Lounge. Granted, we only went twice but it appeared that there were only three productions you could have seen. They just kept switching the show times around so that one was early and one was late each evening. The group of performers tried really hard to be as entertaining as they could be. Some were somewhat accomplished but, overall, the shows lacked any real appeal. The background sets were phenomenal. We did attend the early "Family Friendly" comedy shows in the Degas Lounge "Punchliner Comedy Club". Two very excellent comedians that kept the audience laughing for the 30 or 40 minute shows they did. We never went to the later shows which were adult oriented. Probably just as good I would think! The Conquest offers 24 hour pizza, soft drinks and ice cream. Some of this is available aft on Lido deck adjacent to the Sky Pool & Bar. The "Fun Shops" are stocked nicely with a variety of toiletries, liquor selections, apparel and jewelry as well as many souvenirs. Shore excursions are plentiful, as they are on any cruise. And just as pricey as always! There did seem to be a lack of coordination by the Carnival Excursion folks. They directed us one day to meet in The Toulouse Lautrec Lounge prior to them escorting us to the tenders that would bring us ashore in Grand Cayman. You guessed correctly if you thought that there would be no one there when we arrived. We found our own way to the proper deck and boarded one of the many tenders needed to bring people to land. In retrospect, all of the shore excursions were OK except for the outrageous pricing! But, in order to be assured you were not left in any port due to tardiness on your part, it is advisable to use the cruise line tours. The wife did get to do something she wanted to do for years. She rode a dolphin in Cozumel! That particular site was extremely professionally run! Debarkation was a dream! We were off of the Conquest about 45 minutes prior to the scheduled time we were given. Quickly got our luggage and were through Customs and out to a cab within 20 minutes. We were staying in New Orleans at The Hilton Riverside Hotel, about 4 blocks and a 5 minute cab ride away. Arrived at the hotel around 10:00AM. Outstanding! Carnival Cruise Lines did let us down on this vacation to some degree, but overall, the cruise went well with no disasters of any sort. Would we return to Carnival. Possibly! But future cruises may, perhaps, be with other cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We travelled down from Lancashire the day before sailing and stayed in the Holiday Inn at Eastleigh. This was a comfortable hotel and a relaxing start to the cruise. Boarding was stress free as we had priority boarding and we were on ship ... Read More
We travelled down from Lancashire the day before sailing and stayed in the Holiday Inn at Eastleigh. This was a comfortable hotel and a relaxing start to the cruise. Boarding was stress free as we had priority boarding and we were on ship before noon and enjoying the complimentary champagne and lunch in Carmens. We had our hands squirted with gel 5 times before we actually got into Carmens. Cabins were ready for 2pm and we were pleasantly surprised by how clean it was and the amount of storage. It is a few years since we last had an inside cabin but as the balconies on this ship are at a premium we decided to book inside. The cabin was compact but it did fit everything in and we had taken a lot. Our cabin steward was friendly and professional as were all of the crew we came into contact with. The Captain Neil Turnbull was a character and probably the most informative Captain we have sailed with. His influence on the crew was apparent and it was a happy ship. Lots of different venues on this ship with many choices of entertainment. Large Cinema, theatre, show lounge, nightclub, crows nest, and various bars. We sampled them all during the 22 nights we were on board. The show lounge Carmens has a super dance floor and most nights there was ballroom dancing in there to a live group or CDs. The theatre shows were very energetic but this is an older ship and the theatre productions were more limited than on the newer ships. The Cabaret artistes were varied but no big names for a Christmas cruise. We had booked 1st sitting dining as we enjoy the evening entertainment and find there are more choices for early diners. We ate in the Alexandra restaurant on a table for 6. Great table companions and the food was probably the best MDR food we have encountered. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the alternative dining restaurants. These were very mixed in our opinion and not up to the same standard as the other ships in the fleet. The weather was rough up to Madeira and the ship hit many pot holes. I am not a good sailor but managed okay with over the counter medication. After Madeira the weather was sunny and got warmer each day. There were many sea days and lots of activities around the ship. We wanted a lazy relaxing cruise so didn't attend any of the day time activities. The pool areas were quite small for sun worshipers but the aft desks make up for this with lots of spaces for beds and chairs. The prom deck is wide which is also a bonus. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were very special with carol services, and the children watching out for Father Christmas. The Christmas Eve deck party was great fun with live music and dancing. Nothing better than spending Christmas Day on a sun lounger with a bottle of Champagne. At the ports of call which in the Caribbean were Barbados, Antigua, Tortola and St Maarten, we did our own thing. The trips were expensive and as we had been to all the islands many times decided to DIY. New Years Eve there was a deck party again. This was well attended and the Captain counted in the New year. Not sure what time the party went on till but early hours of the morning. On the return journey the weather was warm and sunny right up to the day before Southampton. We should have called at the Azores but this was changed to a 1/2 day call in Madeira due to a passenger becoming seriously ill after we left the Caribbean. Overall we liked the Aurora but it is in need of some TLC. There were strange smells in the corridors and buckets made regular appearances to catch water dripping from the light sockets. We were on C deck so not sure if this is the only deck with this problem. I think that we prefer fly cruising as this means more port of calls but this was certainly a relaxing cruise. Disembarkation was a breeze because we had priority and were off the ship by 08:30 collected the luggage without problems and car from CPS and were on the road before 9am. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
This was a family trip. Myself and my husband and my sister and her husband and their (adult) son. Except for the son, the rest of us are over 50. This was the first cruise that we all did that had a pretty aggressive list of port ... Read More
This was a family trip. Myself and my husband and my sister and her husband and their (adult) son. Except for the son, the rest of us are over 50. This was the first cruise that we all did that had a pretty aggressive list of port visits. I will describe our trip in three categories: The good, the bad and the ugly. THE GOOD: Ship was in ship-shape. All the public spaces were in great condition including the staterooms. Nothing threadbare. The food was fantastic. The wait-staff were well seasoned. We booked the 'Mystery dinner theater at Portofino's'. The mystery was hokey (but fun). The company (others at our table) was delightful and overall it was worth the $60/person charge as the champagne and wine flowed freely as part of the package. The Tiramisu dessert packaged in a dark/white chocolate swirl cup was awesome! We booked one shore excursion (we're cheap). It was a beach trip to Orient beach on St. Marteens. It was very well coordinated. Our hostess was delightful, very informative about the island, the beach and various bits of information and made sure that we all got back on the bus to return to the ship. We sincerely regret not booking beach trips on the other islands. Though we did enjoy exploring Barbados, one of the stops, on our own. Some of the other islands were pretty depressed areas once you get beyond the main tourist shopping areas. Better to go to the beach. The New Years celebration was totally the best!!! We celebrated on the Promenade which included unlimited champagne, balloon drop and the cruise director AND ships captain doing the countdown. This so beats going to any other (northern) New Year's celebration where you have to stand in the cold. The ship shows were really good. The best was Beetlemania! I would have spent a friggin' fortune to see this show on land! It truly was a wow! I've been on other RC cruises with the ice rink and AOC ice show was ho-hum. Nice and worth seeing but ho-hum. THE BAD: Our stateroom attendant was overbearing and self-serving (her only goal was to beg us to give her an excellent review so she could get her bonus). We were surprised to find a pair of men's briefs in one of the drawers. She obviously didn't check all the drawers in the stateroom in prep of our arrival. I have a feeling she won't be around very long. RC is generally very good about stateroom service. THE UGLY: For us nothing. It was a totally awesome trip and we will continue to cruise RC. We did have breakfast with another couple who had booked their cruise while they were on a prior cruise and booked the special romantic package. RC dropped the ball and did not provide the perks of the romantic package and couldn't find their original booking info when the couple complained. The help desk was not very helpful to them and apparently were not very pleasant to these poor folks. Sadly, their customer-no-service lost them two repeat customers. My experience with the help desk was very positive and this included that hectic last day where everyone had questions about their bill, myself included. They had a floater who went up and down the line working to solve problems. And magically (the guy was good!) the line went from 30 people to 6 who actually had questions requiring help desk help. I was therefore in line for only less than 10 min and my question concerning my bill was quickly and satisfactorily answered. Rosietomato Read Less

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