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2,163 Holiday Cruise Reviews

By 12.15am every night the only place with any music playing was from a disc in the disco!All the bars closed down by before midnight or 12.30 in the Casino and the only place to get a drink was in the disco where there were never more ... Read More
By 12.15am every night the only place with any music playing was from a disc in the disco!All the bars closed down by before midnight or 12.30 in the Casino and the only place to get a drink was in the disco where there were never more than a couple of dozen people. And this was a Christmas Cruise!!! After the last performances in the Footlights theatre and Starlights Lounge ended at latest 11.30 the ship died. By midnight every night there were about 20 or so in the Yacht and Compass bar, most of 10 in the casino,and a handful of people dotted around the beautiful Atrium. With no drinks being served, no late night piano being played passengers went off to bed! Mind you the average age was well into the late 60s but even us older ones want a bit of sparkle and a late night chat/entertainment. The Entertainment Team were brilliant and did their best to get some atmosphere going but they were thwarted mainly by the layout of the ship itself. With no large floor area, like a level show lounge or dance floor, it was not physically possible to engage a large enough gathering on one level floor, hence things like carol singing etc took place in the foot of the Atrium with passengers having to stand on different deck levels and on the stairs! The speed of embarkation and disembarkation was very good. Our balcony cabin was by far the smallest we have ever had and the bathroom was crazily small. It was nigh impossible to turn round from the sink to the toilet to the shower or vice-versa. And if you wanted to partly dress in the bathroom, like put on your underwear, then you had to be a contortionist. The decor was fine and the service of the cabin steward was excellent. The food generally was very good. As we have always tended to gear our eating round the shows, we take advantage of the buffet and this was on deck 14 with panoramic views. Whilst the food was very good, the ambiance also good, the two important things to me which let it down was 1.About 50/60% of the various foods/dishes on offer were not labelled and you had to guess what they were . 2...Very many times especially at dinner, the napkins were 1/2 ply cheap and nasty paper ones! Not good.The food in the main dining room was excellent as was the service. However, one evening we ate in the so called Marc Pierre White restaurant which was located on deck 8 in the Cafe Jardin. Lovely ambiance, wonderful quality service. There was a £6.50 supplement to dine there and then another supplement if one wanted the 21 day reared rib eye steak. Well I have had better down my local pub for £6.99, better taste, better cooked and better presented. Such a let down. The entertainment generally was very good. Broken down into: duos, pianists, trios; guest artists and the Headliners Theatre Company. One particular duo was Serendipity who were very talented indeed. With Lyn playing the tenor and alto sax, the flute, the clarinet and can also play piano, guitar and bassoon. She also has a great voice too. Stewart on the keyboard and guitar was brilliant. The pianist were ok but nothing special and were not seen playing very much. Would have been lovely to have some late late night music or even a sing song, especially as this was billed as a Christmas Cruise. The comedians on the first part of the cruise were pretty awful but another Steve Tandy was very good as was Maxime Mazunder who did a Lulu tribute one night and a Dusty Springfield another. A lovely voice . However the group of young guys and girls who were just fantastic were the Headliners Theatre Company. They performed six DIFFERENT shows over the 12 nights, playing three times on those nights. The energy was outstanding and the quality of the two main dancers Darren and ? was superb as were the vocalists. Each show as a knock-out and saved the day as far as the overall cruise was concerned. The Cruise Director Leanne was lovely, so natural, so easy, so friendly and caring too. He Assistant Paul had a beautiful velvet voice when they did their spot one night, with him singing a Michael Buble number...great voice Paul. The overall cleanliness of the ship was very good, but then the cleaners had a clear run from just after midnight!!!! One slightly irritating thing was the slowness of the lifts. Somehow for most of the times we used them they were all either up or all down and a bit like the No.10 bus you wait for, for ages then two or three come along. Now to the weather! Within about 12 hours of leaving Southampton we started to encounter very rough seas which gathered pace for almost 36 hours culminating in a Force 9/10. The ship became deserted with many passengers being frightened to venture out of their cabins for fear of falling. There were casualties and a cabin window blown in. A lot of sickness of course, but fortunately I was not affected and in fact I quite enjoyed the experience as this was the first time in some 20+ cruises when it has not been calm seas. We only took one shore excursion and that was down to Playa de Americas in Tenerife. The other ports of call we did our own thing. P & O are very good with their shuttle buses as they do not charge for this useful service. The prices of drinks was very good compared to those on Royal Caribbean for example. P & O also play down the "gratuities" and have a very relaxed attitude towards tipping again compared to Royal Caribbean which thrust it at you several times in a cruise (One cruise of 10 nights on RCL the reminder about gratuities was mentioned 9 nights in the daily news letters, once by the cruise director and once by the two dining room waiters)...so well down P & O. Overall we enjoyed the cruise, me more than my wife, as I wanted to escape Christmas as much as possible. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
The main reason for booking this cruise was that several Australian friends we met on the Dawn Princess were also doing Singapore to Sydney, so we decided to join them. Good choice and lots of fun and laughter, especially at meal times ... Read More
The main reason for booking this cruise was that several Australian friends we met on the Dawn Princess were also doing Singapore to Sydney, so we decided to join them. Good choice and lots of fun and laughter, especially at meal times and trivia. Needless to say, we had a great time overall, but from a purely personal perspective, my cruise was totally ruined by the inconsiderate heavy smokers in the adjoining cabin. By day two, the smell of smoke through the adjoining door and wafting in from the balcony day and night was enough to upset my somewhat sensitive sinuses, to the extent that at one point, I spent a day and a half in bed with the worst dose of sinusitis (and persistent cough) for almost 30 years. A verbal complaint to the front desk (that was also smoke infected from the open doors to the casino...) elicited the simple and dismissive response "there is nothing we can do." A written complaint later elicited no response whatever, so I am one of many I suspect, who welcomes Princess's "no smoking in staterooms and balconies" policy, effective January 12th 2012. Apart from that, the cruise lived up to expectations and regular Princess cruisers will know what that means. Good (but not spectacular) food, brilliant staff/crew and plenty to do. Regulars will also know that the Princess tours can be a mixed blessing. Classic example was the Nong Nooch (I think I spelled that correctly!) gardens that included probably the best cultural show I have seen in any country, followed by an equally entertaining elephant display. As we were there early, we had a mere 20 mins to explore the 500 acres of gardens before the show and we were herded back onto the coach almost as soon as the show had finished, which was a shame. We chose this tour as it was only about 4 hours. The mixed blessing was the so called shopping stop afterwards. This consisted of the usual high class/price emporium, in this instance, selling jewellery. Now as we all know, given the choice between 45 minutes here or even more time at the gardens or even a local shopping centre or market, the gem place would be in last place - particularly for the men. A shame really as I am sure Pattaya beach shops would have been preferable. Tours within Thailand and Vietnam were fine and we did our own thing at Bali and the Australian ports. (We had to cancel the skyway/railway trip in Port Douglas as I was just too unwell to chance it.) Back to the Diamond Princess. Having spent almost 3 months on the Dawn earlier in the year, comparisons were easy. Overall, we'd opt for the older but smaller Dawn every time. The major advantage of the Diamond is the central Calypso or Conservatory swimming pool, as this is totally covered and is deep enough to enjoy a proper swim - as long as there weren't too many kids in it of course! The Vista lounge on the Dawn is much better for cabaret shows as it is tiered, unlike Club Fusion and the Explorers lounge, which are not. They are also very dark. Most of the entertainers and even the shows, we had seen on the Dawn, so that was little disappointing. The morning Wake Show was not as silly or as much fun as the World Cruise and we understand that Princess want it to be more serious. Don't they realise we are on holiday and we want fun and laughter - including stupidity? Probably the other downside was that the buffet is trying to cater for 50% more people, but the buffet servery is about the same size. Princess seemed to have changed their policy as THERE WERE NO CHOCOLATE DOUGHNUTS, nor jam filled doughnuts. I am not a fatty, so if this is an attempt to counter obesity, it doesn't work! Disembarkation wasn't a problem as at the last minute, a matter of days before we sailed, we extended our on board experience from Sydney back to Auckland. All we had to do was wander off the ship and enjoy a day in Sydney and hope that the smokers had departed. Without our fun friends, how would we enjoy it? Another review later for that part of the cruise - with a different cabin... Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Day 1 23rd Nov The Radisson was an excellent place to stay prior to a Manchester flight it cost '£89 thro Holiday extras, hotel for one night and APH parking for 28days a bargain. Easy check-in and walk straight into the terminal ... Read More
Day 1 23rd Nov The Radisson was an excellent place to stay prior to a Manchester flight it cost '£89 thro Holiday extras, hotel for one night and APH parking for 28days a bargain. Easy check-in and walk straight into the terminal undercover in two minutes Day 2 24th Nov. We flew with Singapore Airlines, Manchester to Singapore with a short stop for fuel and some more passengers in Munich. Excellent service and food, the seat back entertainment was exceptional over 50 films + comedy shows+games and TV programs on a 10inch screen. Easy on-line check-in 24hrs prior to flight. Day 3 25th Nov .The pick up from the airport was excellent a gent with a board with our name was there, he showed us where to wait whilst he went for his brand new black Mercedes and took us straight to The Traders Hotel, the room was small, as reports had said but was adequate and aircon was good, the pool was excellent, shopping in Orchard rd, shuttle bus to town and routes, we did [a groggy "Orchard Road"] The shops in this city are awesome [not cheap] and everywhere they have Chrissy decorations up, it all looks so good!! Spent some time by the hotel pool in the sun at lunchtime until it clouded over and p-----d down for an hour! Had a meal in Tanglin Mall [attached to the hotel] and bought some food and wine for the evening Day 4 26th Nov. Hippo Bus tour, got over the journey, now up at 7am, today we are doing the hop on hop off bus around all the tourist spots for a quick view of Singapore! This was an excellent way to see the sites in a very short time with a running commentary as to where you were and what to see. We booked this via Viator on the internet and paid '£11pp on the day it would be $S23 It takes 1hr to do each of the two routes, then you can choose where to go and get off at that stop, then rejoin the trip when ready. We had an exceptional meal on Clarke Quay whilst on the route and even though it rained we were under cover and had excellent service and views, had a take away in the room that night and crashed out. Day 5 27th Nov. Lounged in the hotel in the morning chatting to the friendly staff and other people who were going on the cruise, There was one thing to mention, the maid had put a Kitkat on our bill, so we spoke to her and she said we had taken it and that she found the wrapper in the bin! {WE DID NOT HAVE THE KITKAT] so reception removed the charge, as we left the Hotel the next day we noticed a Vodka and Tonic had also disappeared!! Make your own assumptions, then the Taxi to the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre to book in for Transfer to ship [only S$10], this was poorly organised we are Elite so we are supposed not to have to wait but wait we did, in a grotty hall on uncomfortable seats until a bus took us thro a massive container port about 25mins drive away to join the ship, we then booked into the ship had a meal and relaxed. We went for dinner 2nd sitting looking forward to meeting our new companions, they were a gentleman of approx 90yrs by himself and a family of 4 mum, dad and two boys one 9yrs and one 10yrs all from Auss. During the meal the 10yr old was unwell and mum went out with him twice on the 3rd occasion they came back he had the waste bin from the cabin with him! Within 5mins he was being sick in the bucket at the table!!! We resolved to move tables the following day. [And did!] We went to see the show and enjoyed the performance and went to bed! Day 6/1 28th Nov. Day at sea had breakfast on the balcony [room service Free] then decided to spend some time in the sun. It was partial cloud all day so we had a lazy day on deck but unfortunately got a little sunburn. The evening was formal night and Champagne fountain plus our new table [what will we get?] We also had a meet and greet with our friends in the Cruise Critic group at 11am to 12pm for drinks with the Captain, Cruise Director and staff which was good fun followed by another meeting some other good friends we had met on Facebook Rollcall and had had some Video chats with prior to the cruise at 6pm, this went on till Dinner at 8.15 and was an absolute brilliant party!! Then off to dinner at the new table, we couldn't have been more pleased we had a lovely lady from Sydney Sue, and her husband Max[who was Italian and was fluent in many languages] they where a joy to be with. Then another couple from Yorkshire turned up and the table was a delight, pleasant intelligent conversation with a bit of banter all night, then off to the show again till late, then bed. A thoroughly brilliant day!!! Day 7/2 29th Nov Ko Samui. Tendered to the shore for 9.15am which was poorly organised and time consuming then a mini-bus to Chaewang Beach, left to ourselves from 10am to 12am $29 each with Princess. The beach wasn't exceptional, many in the Caribbean and Med are much better, swam and enjoyed an expensive beer and returned on time. Had lunch with some people we had met in the Singapore hotel, it was to hot to sunbathe so we chilled out in the room with a few drinks. Went to dinner enjoyed a pleasant meal with good company then crashed out with a Baileys and brandy. Day 8/3 30th Nov. Bangkok/ Pattaya Took the FREE shuttle bus to Pattaya 45mins, what a brilliant place great shopping right on the beach [not sure about swimming though] spent most of the time spending money and choosing clothes great fun, Sandra bought a silk dress and I bought a pair of trousers. Shuttle back to the ship, crash out and relax with a drink!! Very happy with Pattaya went for dinner with our four companions Sue and Max, Sue and Allen, we have a great time with in depth conversations about just about anything, and we are always the last people out of the dining room. It's a relief to have such good company. Received our first laundry back today all properly cleaned and pressed and free!!! Day 9/4 1st Dec. Day at sea. Woke up this morning the sea is like a millpond not a cloud in the sky, we tried to buy some sunscreen yesterday on the ship but they only had factor 4!! Breakfast on the balcony Spent the day in the sun watched a Movie "Cowboys and Aliens" funny! A few drinks plenty of relaxing. Time for evening meal enjoyable as ever, then off to bed!! Day 10/5 2nd Dec. Vietnam. Decided the 2.5hr drive to Saigon would be to boring [which was confirmed later by people that went] so we took the free shuttle bus to a small town market 45mins away, what a treat, started at a decent supermarket then thought there must be more to see so we walked 2 blocks and found this huge 3 story local market with a food market next door, spent ages routing around clothes shoes belts everything you could think of, all genuine designer goods [not!] I bought an Armarniish belt! Ha Ha. Then off to the food market, OMG fish drying out in the dirt on the pavement, what a stink and flies everywhere, next the Veg. Market what a difference beautiful food everywhere the vendors were the classic ladies sitting amongst the produce sorting, cleaning, peeling and posing for photos, so friendly, indeed everybody was friendly, giggling as we tried to talk to them [apart from the occasional guy pushing sunglasses at you on the street]. A great morning out [except some poor cruisers didn't walk the block and missed all the local stuff, we told a few when we got back to the bus and they them went off to see the local market!] Bought a bottle of wine and twelve cans of coke and tonic with the rest of the Dongs and went back to the ship. Enjoyed the sun and the peace as most had gone to Saigon and we almost had the ship to ourselves! Excellent dinner, had a little argument with Sue who was a NHS worker supporting the strike! So I couldn't let that go and we had a ding dong [which I enjoyed but I don't think she did!] Day 11/6 3rd Dec. Day at sea Late breakfast in bed [ Chillin all day!!!] Dinner, atmosphere was ok all forgiven! Day 12/7 4th Dec. Day at sea Late breakfast in bed [chillin all day!!!!] Day 13/8 5th Dec. Day at sea Late breakfast in bed [chillin all day!!!!] Day 14/9 6th Dec. Bali Elephant Safari This was great fun, up early tender to the shore was 40mins and it poured down with rain, the people who got on first where on the open top of the tender and got totally soaked!!! Then a 1.5hr drive to Elephant park in the mountains of Bali. First we fed them then had a half hour+ ride on them thro the jungle, it poured down for 10mins, but they gave us capes for that and there where huge spiders all around us in the trees, then an Indonesian meal [not me normally!] but it was very enjoyable! Then an hours drive to a local market [just sold crap!] and back to the ship. A good day out and very enjoyable. Great meal that night and good company, we were late as usual. Day 15/10 Wednesday 7th Dec Day at sea Lovely hot day, too hot went to the room for a drink at 2pm and stayed till 3.30pm sunny on the balcony. Tonight is Captains Circle night so Formal and free drinks should be good!! Plenty of free drinks; the most cruised person was an Aussie who had done 1500 days at sea [over 4yrs at sea] now thats a lot!!! A good meal we don't bother with shows, so a walk around the decks and off to bed! Day 16/11 Thursday 8th Dec Day at sea Getting hotter as we reach the equator, Had to do Aussie customs today before Darwin tomorrow, all done by midday, sunbathe, but so hot, always above 30C we had to retreat to the spar for a break. Day 17/12 Friday 9th Dec Darwin 37C walked off the ship, passed the protected beach [protected from Box jellyfish] to a lift which took us 5 storeys up to the road into town. Walked into town and explored the shops, very pleasant, with lots of shops. Went to buy some wine in Woolworths, they wouldn't let us as we didn't have photo I.D. a friendly Aussie bought 3 bottles for us and we paid him [ace] Day 18/13 Saturday 10th Dec Day at sea Late breakfast in bed [chillin all day!!!!] Day 19/14 Sunday 11th Dec Day at sea Late breakfast in bed [chillin all day!!!!] Day 20/15 Monday 12th Dec Port Douglas, The Great Barrier Reef We where taken to the port by local tender to join the high speed catamaran for the journey to the Outer Barrier Reef [approx 90 mins] where the boat tied up to a pontoon above the reef, we were then given any equipment we needed [$5 for a latex stinger suit ref the Box jellyfish] and were then free to snorkel in the large protected area. The visibility was about 10 metres, there were plenty of fish large and small, We then had a semi-submersible ride around the reef for about 35mins, next we had a pleasant lunch on the pontoon or in the cat. We the returned to Port Douglas and due to time we where transferred straight back to the ship and missed Port Douglas itself [shame]. A long enjoyable day on a trip that has to be done. Day 21/16 Tuesday 13th Dec Airlie Beach, Daydream Island Resort, The Whitsunday Islands we arrived at 10am and had a right mix up with the tenders from the ship, it seems that they didn't have enough Auss customs officers to do both sides of the ship so we were delayed, we finally went to this beautiful island by cat arrived 12pm and watched the hotel staff feeding the fish on their living reef, it was very hot! We had a look around the 7 pools, it was now lunch time at the Fishbowl Restaurant after 30mins it started to rain slightly, we were sitting with a Scottish couple having a good natter and the wind suddenly changed direction. A mini Cyclone went straight thro the whole resort, smashing tables, glasses, chairs, and taking down a number of large trees, one landed on some sun beds crushed them and fell into the pool!!! It was one of those times when you say Wow! that could have been deadly. Luckily nobody was hurt and the sun came out and we enjoyed the rest off the day, 5pm to 7pm with low cost cocktails $3.99 in Skywalkers, "Rob Roy" was the best [Chivas Regal base] Day 22/17 Wednesday 14th Dec Day at sea This was a lovely day slightly cooler than all the others [we are heading south out of the tropics] still very sunny and warm, sunbathing and a few drinks, we then had a goodbye party with the Facebook crowd at 4pm, till 5pm and cocktails in Skywalkers [Cocktail was "Chairman of the Board", Bombay Sapphire base] next changed for the formal night and free drinks at the captains farewell party, superb beef wellington and great company till late. Day 23/18 Thursday 15th Dec Day at sea Last day of the cruise, weather changed as expected, a lot cooler 20C and cloudy, packing has to be sorted as they take the cases tonight after dinner [or before if you want] sort out all the admin. Day 24/19 Friday 16th Dec Sydney, The Sail into Sydney Harbour to Circular Quay was amazing with fantastic views of the city, the opera house and the bridge! Disembark and get a taxi to the hotel [ only $A15 The 4 Points Sheraton Hotel, This is a lovely hotel, check in was perfect, no effort, bags taken to room. The room was a harbour view with a large picture window overlooking Darling Harbour excellent! That morning we chose to buy a joint ticket to The Aquarium, The Wild Life Adventure and The Sydney Tower. The Aquarium was brilliant with lots of exotic sea creatures that you don't see in the northern hemisphere, The Wildlife Centre was just what we wanted, we stroked Kangaroos, saw a Duck-billed Platypus, a giant crocodile, a Wombat and best of all we cuddled a Koala. Next a short walk, to the Tower fabulous 360 views of Sydney. Finally an evening having a meal and a walk around Darling Harbour, this was amazing, Christmas Tree, Carol singers and buzzing with loads of people having a great time in all the bars, a great day all round. Day25 Saturday 17th Dec Sydney Today we had breakfast in a Restaurant on Darling Harbour, the weather was a little cloudy but warm. At lunch time we decided to take the ferry from the harbour to Manley Beach. This was so easy $13 return every 20 mins, about 30mins to get there, the weather was now brilliant and hot, we were surprised how beautiful the area was, lots of shops, a beautiful prom and a fantastic beach, loads of surfers, people having barbecues on the beach, a market, lots and lots of things going on everywhere! That night we went back to harbourside and had a meal, It was Saturday night and was all set up for a fireworks display so we went back to the hotel to watch from our grandstand view room. It was a brilliant display especially with some chocolate and a bottle of wine. Prior to this we had to call our pick-up for the airport the following day to confirm, when we did we couldn't get thro' so I asked the Concierge to help, he tried and said they were closed, however, he went onto the internet and looked up their web-site, got an out of hours number and confirmed our pick up with them [all without me asking him to do it] absolutely excellent service!!. We then needed to check in to Singapore Airlines and print our boarding cards, I went customer services at the hotel and asked about the printer and the girl on the desk offered to do the whole job for me!! I gave her the flight details and she sorted everything out and printed the boarding passes!!! Another example of fantastic service by the hotel staff. Day 26 Sunday 18th Dec Fly home, We had the morning at leisure as our flight wasn't until 4.15pm, so we strolled around the harbour, had breakfast and did some last minute shopping. We were picked up on time by a company called Sunbuses and taken to the airport. Dropped the bags off waited for the flight to Singapore on the Airbus 380 8hrs, then a 2hr wait in Singapore for a flight to Munich 12hrs, then stay in the plane for an hour whilst some passengers left and others joined and the wings were de-iced then a 2hr flight to Manchester. Day27 Monday 19th Dec collect car Arrive at Manchester call APH, they sent a bus to transfer us to the car park. The car was parked ready to collect then off to home 40mins Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Carnival Dream November 5th to 12th, 2011 This was my fifth cruise, fourth on Carnival. First let me say with the financial situation of the last several years I understand that economies of scale are required and over all the ... Read More
Carnival Dream November 5th to 12th, 2011 This was my fifth cruise, fourth on Carnival. First let me say with the financial situation of the last several years I understand that economies of scale are required and over all the Carnival cruises are an excellent product for its price. I had already booked a cruise with a local travel club for myself and friend for February 5th to 11th, 2012 on the Carnival Freedom prior to this trip. A few people to whom I mentioned this told me they felt the Freedom design (lay out) worked better than the Dream for such a large group of passengers. I will see.... For their first cruise I recommended to my daughter-in-law's parents a 5 day Carnival Ecstasy cruise to the Bahamas on December 5th, 2011 and they enjoyed it. We have neighbors who are taking the Carnival Legend from Tampa in January and asked us for our experience and suggestions. I told them we had a great time and gave them some cruise tips we have discovered for ourselves over time. Finally this was my husband's fourth Carnival cruise and he so strongly disliked it due to the long lines and poor design. He has asked me to book with another cruise line for our next cruise together. It was lovely to see so many young children, babies and toddlers on board; we have never experienced any problem with children on a Carnival cruise. Parents have reported to me that they find it very child friendly. I was happy to see several adults, teens and children with developmental disabilities on board; they reported excellent experiences and accommodations. The High Tea during sea days: The ambience was poor; it took place in the Dining Room, not a Lounge as on other ships. There was neither piano nor any other live music. On three previous Carnival cruises when there is a full day at sea, the High Tea is held in a lounge with a piano, cloth covered coffee and side tables with the rolling tea carts. At very least if must be held in a dining room have a piano and pianist playing classical music as on the Royal Caribbean. As a person with diabetes they had a good range of options, several of my companions reported delicious pastries, and I had the smoked salmon and strawberries. This is a lovely informal opportunity to meet fellow cruisers. Lido Deck Buffet: As a diabetic there is never any sugar-free Jell-O or custard type dessert; only cakes which of course are too high in carbohydrates for a diabetic, sugar or not. However there is sugar-free ice cream at dinner and although again the cakes and pies have too many carbohydrates, they did have a tasty sugar-free cheese cake one night. I have never seen lines like this on any previous cruise at any time. The Lido Deck Buffet did not appear one iota bigger than ships with far less passengers. Design relative to a large passenger capacity: It appeared that the ship was enlarged to contain more cabins however the public areas were not increased proportionately. Everywhere on board there were long lines. At dinner although the wait staff were excellent, the food took much longer to come out of the kitchen. We were finished our dinner and dessert and the other side of our dining room (friends over there) were only being served their entree! Many times during the cruise whether on the Lido deck, at Tea, chatting to others on the decks, veteran cruisers complained about never seeing such long lines before and the poor design of the public areas. I'm sure some people thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this cruise. Breakfast was very hit or miss each day. On our second morning our breakfast was worst meal of my five cruises! We arrived at 8:30am and waited until 8:45 to be seated in the upper level. We were not approached for our choice of coffee, juice, etc. until 9am. We ordered and did not even get coffee until 9:15. At 9:30 we got part of our breakfast order. Also I was told the Norlander bread on the menu was only on special order. I told them I had it the day before for breakfast that it was listed on the regular menu as low carbohydrate bread. After three rounds back and forth with the asst. waiter, waiter, and head waiter to no avail, my husband said, "Get up, we are leaving". It was 9:40 he had never gotten his juice or cereal only his eggs and I had not gotten my bread. That evening at our dinner table the couple who shared the table with us told us that the husband had ordered the same bread off the menu both mornings. When we were leaving the asst. maitre d approached us out of the blue and said the bread would be available for me the next morning. However my husband refused to go to the dining room the next day. That evening she approached me and I told her my husband had refused to go he was so upset and I would try again the next morning. The following morning we refused to sit upstairs and were seated on the main floor. The waiter returned to me after our order to say the Norlander bread was a special request and we needed a special slip to obtain it. I replied that I didn't know why it was on the menu if it was a special request and that the matre d had said it was alright. At that he went back to the kitchen and gave me the bread. At dinner that evening our table mates said they had ordered this bread off the menu again that morning. Yikes! Entertainment: Our primary enjoyment in the evenings for my husband and is the live bands we both enjoy Jazz, Rock, Folk, Country, Latin Jazz, Big Band and Classical music very much. We have found the live bands excellent although we have noticed there is less offered over time on the cruises and assume this is due to the economies mentioned above. We enjoy both dancing and listening to the bands in the evenings. We have no interest in the disco. As for stage shows we come from a big city so are used to big productions and since the first night of our first cruise we do not attend the stage shows. As for comedy shows we found the comedians even the early act really stupid on two previous tries on earlier cruises so do not attend them either. Our cabin stewards and dining room dinner staff were excellent. Staff on the Lido deck appeared exhausted (other cruisers also commented on this independently) although 99.8% had excellent attitudes. Activities were very skimpy for so many people on board this ship. Arts and Crafts: I enjoy the Arts and Crafts sessions held when there are two consecutive days at sea. On the Miracle to the Southern Caribbean I thoroughly enjoyed the four sessions. one on each of the two consecutive days at sea. I was looking forward to the same on this cruise. I couldn't have been more mistaken. When our first day in Nassau was canceled due to weather we had two days at sea, there was no arts & crafts; there should be contingency plans for such a situation. On the two last days at sea I arrived at the appointed location and looking around saw nothing and no one in charge. I asked the first Carnival crew I could find where the arts and crafts leader was. She pointed a Carnival staff person sitting on a nearby couch. I asked her where the Arts & Crafts instructor was and what was the project. She pointed to the piano bar and said, "Oh, there are just those things on the piano bar. This is usually called scrapbooking." People were arriving, looking at this and leaving shaking their heads. I said, "I'm not complaining to you personally but this is ridiculous. On the piano were stacks of plain white printer paper sheets on which were Xerox copied shapes of circles, squares, rectangles, diamonds, stacks of colored construction paper, scissors, glue, and bottles of glitter. "It is insulting to present this to passengers; my four year old grandson has better projects in preschool. Please tell you supervisor not to put anything like this on the schedule again as Arts & Crafts or even Scrapbooking." Port Canaveral Carnival Cruise Terminal: Was much too small for such a large passenger ship. The aisles between the rows of seats were so narrow that we had to stand to allow anyone with luggage, with a stroller or wheelchair to pass by. The ship had returned late due to a passenger's illness and unexpected stop in the Bahamas. However I had been on a Royal Caribbean cruise from Port Canaveral earlier in the year and a ship with less than half the people had the same size terminal and seating. Therefore the lack of enough seating despite the cramming of people into these narrows and the rows of people standing the length of the terminal was more due to the improper sized terminal than the late arrival of the ship. And did we have to listen for two hours to the incessant obnoxious "Fun" banter like we were a ship of fools! In final report I will say I have thoroughly enjoyed my previous Carnival cruises and would cruise on Carnival again just not on this ship which was not a Dream for us. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
My family booked this cruise to see the Christmas markets a year ago and were so excited to go. We received a email the night we flew to Nuremberg and arrived on the Prestige that because of low water in the Danube we would be bused to the ... Read More
My family booked this cruise to see the Christmas markets a year ago and were so excited to go. We received a email the night we flew to Nuremberg and arrived on the Prestige that because of low water in the Danube we would be bused to the different destinations and different ship and then hotel. We sort of thought this would be a good adventure and instead had the worse experience of any cruise line I have ever been on. You would have thought that Viking would have uped their game knowing this was not what people payed for but they totally dropped the ball and instead from my first experience to my last I felt they knew it was not going to be good so they just did not care . Starting: upon arrival and throughout the cruise the public toilets had receptacles over flowing with paper towels etc...yuck. You had to hunt down housekeeping to get shampoo etc...it was never replaced as used. Going to the front desk with a question I was informed any problems were to be addressed by writing customer service when we returned......really This was the worst food service bar none. Upon arriving at lunch that was billed from 11:30 till 1 pm there were only clean places scattered thought out the dirty setting and we requested to eat together...this was a major accomplishment to get them to set 6 clean places together. The food was cold , left over and picked over and when we asked if there was anything hot we were told we should have come earlier. I do not understand at meals why they set the whole table and then leave dirty places as people leave and you have to hunt for clean tables and clean place settings even during breakfast. Upon busing us to the different cities we would have to eat at a local restaurant of their choice with one option> vegetarian or meat. My daughter being a vegetarian was told they had to serve everyone else before they could serve her. We waited 30 minutes for her food to arrive while we waited and ours was cold and congealed...unacceptable. The whole dining experience was so substandard it is hard to describe the issues. Buses were either too cold or too hot and if anyone mentioned a temperature change they were told there was nothing they could do. In contacting Viking they told all they would give a credit toward a future cruise. I would never step on a Viking ship again and highly recommend to all my friends, family and anyone I can not to book on this cruise line. We have been on over 10 cruises and I have never written such a bad review..most are wonderful and we have had some great experiences. I feel Viking missed the boat here. Too many issues to waste your money on. Complete lack of care by customer service Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We were warmly welcomed in Nuremberg and taken to the beautiful Prestige ship. Our room was just lovely and there was a tray of Christmas cookies and candies. The ship was very nicely appointed and the staff was friendly. It started out ... Read More
We were warmly welcomed in Nuremberg and taken to the beautiful Prestige ship. Our room was just lovely and there was a tray of Christmas cookies and candies. The ship was very nicely appointed and the staff was friendly. It started out real well but we soon learned that the Danube was very low and that we would travel to certain point then have to get off that ship and get on the Legend to continue. Apparently there was a part of the Danube that was impassible. Then, from Vienna we had to travel by bus to Budapest cutting short our time there. We did make all the Christmas markets that were promised. To make up for the inconvenience, we were treated to a beautiful musical show in Vienna that would normally cost around $80 and also we were put up in a 5 star hotel in Budapest for one night. Then, when we got home, we got vouchers to spend on future cruises. This did not discourage us from booking another cruise and we are going from Moscow to St. Petersburg this July. The Christmas Markets are fabulous!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Itinerary was Half Moon Cay, Turks, Samana, Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba. Wind too strong at Half Moon so we moved on to Turks. Docking was on the starboard side but those with cabins on the port side got the best view of the beach and the ... Read More
Itinerary was Half Moon Cay, Turks, Samana, Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba. Wind too strong at Half Moon so we moved on to Turks. Docking was on the starboard side but those with cabins on the port side got the best view of the beach and the island itself. The port duty free stores were right at the end of the dock and included a Margaritaville restaurant/pool/bar area serving way way overpriced drinks. free wifi here though. Beautiful free beach and loungers within 100 yds. of the ship HA allows passengers to bring aboard bottles of wine for their own consumption. Buy some as the bottles offered on board are triple the price offered than those at the end of the dock. Moved through the night to Samana Tenders moved passengers to shore during intermittent showers and high humidity. we choose to relax on board as the reviews on shore excursions were depressing. Another night sail followed. A slow southward sail to Bonaire amid rising temperatures ( 24-28C)melted away any stress we both had. Docked on port side Bonaire the first of the ABC islands or the Dutch Antilles had no stores at the end of the dock but both indoor and flea market stalls were within walking distance. Free wifi downtown at Lily's ice cream shop. Wine cheap downtown. Took HA sponsored 4x4 tour here. Not worth the time or money unless you want to see, garbage, litter, beer bottles and beaches plastered with plastic flotsam of every shape and size Short night sail to Curacao with docking on port side. Beautiful port with shops within walking distance. Free wifi at Edy's ice cream shop in the nearby fort. Follow your crew members with their laptops, they know where the wifi hotspots are. Aruba next, another beautiful port with docking on the port side. starboard cabins look off shore. Dock shops 30 ft from gangway with more expensive shops downtown. (approx 500 yd. walk) Free wifi in the Renaissance Mall Two day sail back to Fort Lauderdale with a short interruption to rescue 2 small fishing boats off the coast of Cuba. They were separated from their mother ship at dusk and were pointed in the right direction by our helpful Captain and crew. My wife and I took the 4 hour tour of the Noordam hosted by the Marketing Manager along with 9 other intrepid souls. Well worth doing once in your cruising life. Visited the engine control room of the ship, the back stage in the Vista Lounge and the bridge too.Food lockers waste collection area and the laundry were also included. Entertainment each night was packed. Some shows were the same as last year prompting us to look at another HA ship for next year's trip. Want to relax and enjoy quality time with your significant other try a 10 day trip on this ship. You will smile too Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
There were a number of issues which could have put a damper on our recent southern Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Summit, but we still had a really good time. The ship is due in for refurbishing and did show its wear and tear and ... Read More
There were a number of issues which could have put a damper on our recent southern Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Summit, but we still had a really good time. The ship is due in for refurbishing and did show its wear and tear and datedness. We had sailed on the Solstice in January, so there was a contrast. However, we did enjoy the size of this ship. We had a concierge balcony on the 8th floor which was identical to our cabin on the Solstice in size. The buffet area suffered the most in comparison as the Summit does not have the different, separate and easily accessible stations at which you can serve yourself and not be served from an attendant behind the counter. That said, the dinners were very good in the main dining room and exceptional in The Normandie specialty restaurant. We enjoyed the entertainment very much, especially the Sirens show. The itinerary was what attracted us to this cruise, and we did enjoy going to the five ports included. We had rain every day except the one day at sea, but it really didn't hamper anything as the temperatures were warm and we did get at least some sunshine each day. We snorkeled, swam, climbed and toured all over in light to heavy rain. The staff, with the exception of our cabin steward and head waiter who were really nice and attentive, was very different than in past cruises. I heard remarks regarding this throughout the trip. I understand that waiting on a constant parade of weekly tourists cannot be enjoyable, but this was the first time in nine cruises I saw evidence of boredom and almost disdain from the staff. It didn't really bother me but it was evident. I wondered if working on an older, less modern ship was less interesting or exciting than a beautiful new and state of the art vehicle. Everyone got their job done, but it was with much less enthusiasm than I had experienced in the past. However, my husband and I really had a great time with good tablemates, good excursions, good food, and good entertainment And I would definitely sail Celebrity again as we have the past three times. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
I can honestly say that this was one of, if not THE, best cruise that we have taken in about 20 years of cruising. For us, this cruise brought us many firsts, including our first out of LA/Long Beach, our first along the Mexican Riviera, ... Read More
I can honestly say that this was one of, if not THE, best cruise that we have taken in about 20 years of cruising. For us, this cruise brought us many firsts, including our first out of LA/Long Beach, our first along the Mexican Riviera, first through the Panama Canal, and first 14-day sailing. We have cruised The Carnival Paradise several times when it sailed out of Miami into the Caribbean and have always enjoyed this class of ship. As expected, we were amongst the minority on this sailing, that is to say that we are not yet retired and still "work-to-cruise". I can also say that we made some great friends on this sailing and hope to cruise with them again in the future (both through CCritic and people that we met on the ship). While the Carnival Paradise is an older ship and will be going into dry dock in early 2012, everything worked as expected, hot water was hot, cold air was cold, and everything was clean and neat for a ship of her age. What I would really like to point out are the officers, crew, and staff, of the ship. They were in one word amazing. From the officers to the maintenance workers, they all had smiles and seemed sincerely glad that we (and even they) were on the sailing. Maybe it was the change from 3 and 5 days party cruises to the 14-day canal transit or maybe it was that Carnival is going to great lengths to put customer service into everything that they say and do. I suspect that it might be a little of both. It did not matter if the crew members were assigned to our MDR table, our stateroom, or if we saw them daily, they all truly seemed to enjoy what they were doing and it showed in how they talked with us in the halls, on the lido, the bars, or anywhere. The Paradise is using the new Carnival MDR menus and the food was always hot and exactly as ordered; I like my beef rare (almost moo-ing) and that was never a problem. We had 6 (three couples) of us at a table for 8 and the wait staff were attentive and friendly throughout the sailing. One night we did the Chef's Table (as this ship has no private restaurant/steak house/etc) which I would highly recommend anyone who would like a fantastic 4-hour meal and discussion with the ship's head chef and several members of his staff, it was well worth the cost. The food in the lido was as expected and the lines were never a real problem for us, even during the busiest times of the day. Then again, we seldom let lines or such bother us when we cruise. On entertainment - we are very limited here given our enjoyment. We did the comedy club once or twice and it was great both nights. The selected comics were on target with their bits and the audience that they had that night. I can not say anything about the shows since this is just not something that we tend to watch. We are Piano Bar Flies and on this cruise - we closed the place down most nights - although often we and one or two other couples were the only ones there. I think that part of the issue here was the age of the cruisers, most nights by 12mid, the ship would be very quiet everywhere including the PB. We had a great time with the piano player who is a local from Florida and who we hope to see again - or a ship, in a band, or walking the beach in sandals. I know that there is much more that I should be writing and am sure that my wife would add a lot as well. If anyone has specific questions, they can find me on the cruise line boards and I'll be glad to offer more. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
For the most part, the dining room was great. We had wonderful servers who had vast amounts of experience. I would warn beef lovers to skip the steaks which were overcooked and tough. The soups were pale and weak. All we had to do was ... Read More
For the most part, the dining room was great. We had wonderful servers who had vast amounts of experience. I would warn beef lovers to skip the steaks which were overcooked and tough. The soups were pale and weak. All we had to do was to skip those items and everything was great! The evening production shows were very good. The specialty acts were unusual and fun or in the case of the 'Las Vegas Voices', really, really good. What made the cruise so great was the Cruise Director, Carly. Also, her assistant, Becky, is a Cruise Director in the making. We were very fortunate to have them and their staff directing our fun and games. Love the movie theater and the main showroom. Also, it should be noted that the guests range in age from young to old, but with a majority in the middle ages. This is a lively ship. Disco Night was a blast. We noted the loyalty displayed by the guests who proudly wore their RCI pins every day. We will surely join them in being regular cruisers with RCI. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We loved the Eclipse. The ship is beautifully designed with lots of bars (of all kind), very good food-even in the beautiful and spacious buffet and especially in Blu where the staff was terrific. Boarding-We arrived at the terminal at ... Read More
We loved the Eclipse. The ship is beautifully designed with lots of bars (of all kind), very good food-even in the beautiful and spacious buffet and especially in Blu where the staff was terrific. Boarding-We arrived at the terminal at about 12:30pm and boarded right away with very little wait. We had carry-on luggage and went right to the buffet for lunch. Our room was ready shortly thereafter. Cabin-we were in Aqua Class, cabin 1631. It was very nice but a bit smaller than we're used to and less drawer room than we've found on other ships. Nonetheless it was fine. The veranda was large enough for a small table, 2 chairs and two ottomans--all very modern furniture. The bathroom was also nice with enough storage room, but again small with no tub. (The best bathroom we've ever had was in a veranda room on the Niew Amsterdam earlier this year-it was huge with separate shower and tub). Thankfully, the cabin was very quiet and we were glad we booked a cabin below other cabins as v. a public area. We're convinced, after several noisy experiences, that a cabin between other cabins is the best choice. Restaurants-The dining room reserved for Aqua Class is Blu. It was wonderful-great, healthy food--but not bland, just well cooked and not enormous helpings. If a food was not on the menu, staff did its best to get it for you-like a certain vegetable. On the subject of staff, they were great and eager to please. Blu was open for breakfast and dinner only so we either had lunch at the buffet or on deck 12 at the healthy spa food area. The problem with the buffet was that there were so many choices, arranged in multi-stations, that we tended to overeat there. We also experienced the usual rude passengers who acted like they hadn't eaten for days!! We also ate at Qsine-one of the specialty restaurants. It's menu could best be described as ecletic tapas--very interesting and worth at least one try. The other restaurant that we paid extra to eat at was Murano. We were looking forward to it based upon positive reviews on this site. However, it turned out to be our worst meal. The service was okay, but the lobster was horrible--very small, dry tails almost like a langostino, but not billed as such. After one meal was sent back and another one just like it arrived, Tony, the maitre d' came over to ask me what the problem was. I told him the food was "horrible" and he started arguing with me in front of everyone about how I could use the word "horrible" to describe my meal. I was mortified and I told him I'd take up his attitude with the hotel manager-which I did. The manager apologized and I hope that no one else experienced what ruined the evening for us. We had room service several times-for early morning coffee. It was great-on time and hot coffee. Entertainment-We went to two shows-both were good-not spectacular, but fine. We also attended two lectures-on the history of pirates (which was very boring) and on baseball (which was okay). We also went to one afternoon movie. Bars-The Martini Bar was the most entertaining with very talented bartenders who used a very generous pour. We also had wine at the Wine Cellar. The Cellar had a unique way of purchasing a glass--you buy a card there, insert it at a wine "station" and then select the amount of wine you wish. There was a tremendous variety of wines and delightful staff to help. Gym-The ship has a large gym with newish equipment (since the ship is a little over a year old). Very nice facility with the usual very young staff not too interested in helping you unless you're buying their services. Disembarkation-It was a breeze. We left the ship at 8am and were at the Miami Airport by 8:30am. Since we had carryon we just walked off the ship when we were done with breakfast at Blu. P.S. Ports-The 3 ports were essentially the same. They were Puerto Rico (good to get off ship to cross street to go to CVS), St. Thomas-the usual tourist spot with tons of jewelry shops, and St. Maarten/St. Martin. On this last island we took a van tour with 3 other couples-got it outside the port for $25/pp. It took us around the island-both sides-and was very good with an entertaining guide and a very good price as v. the ship's tour. The most interesting thing in St. Martin (the French side) was the Sarafina Pastry Shop-pastries and coffee tasted like Paris! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Sailed from Sydney on the 4th of December. The boarding experience was good considering fairly poor facilities at the Sydney International Terminal. Our cabin was ready well prepared and in good condition. Our cabin attendant appeared ... Read More
Sailed from Sydney on the 4th of December. The boarding experience was good considering fairly poor facilities at the Sydney International Terminal. Our cabin was ready well prepared and in good condition. Our cabin attendant appeared almost imediately and was available and helpful for the entire trip. We booked late sitting dining and were seated with for other couples of similar age and were enjoyable company to be with. Our table was near the Captains table on formal nights which was nice. Unfortunately next to us was a table with a young couple and a child under two who cried most nights or knocked wine and food on to the floor this tended to detract from the experience. In addition the father regularly contravened the dress code for the dining room and wore shorts and sometime T-shirts. This attire was tolerated for the entire trip by the Dining room Maitre D despite being brought to his attention by our table supervisor. The dining room dress code is clearly displayed on boards at the entrance of the dining room. The Maitre-D did not support his staff and allowed ships rules to be flagrantly floughted. We wondered what other rules might be allowed to be ignored on the ship. Our wives and most of the ladies brought outfits to dress up and it is dissapointing to see standards being lowered. Our table staff in contrast were fantastic and were 5 star plus. If a rule is not going to be enforced change it, get rid of it! The food was good but a limited selection in the main dining room. One gets the feeling you are being encouaged to go to the pay extra restaurants. The food in the Buffet was also good with more variety though finding tables at times difficult. Generally we organised our own tours ashore as they were much cheaper. We did book a ship tour at the Bay of Islands which we missed as poor weather caused the called to cancelled. We struck fairly rough seas but the Captain did a good job minimising the discomfort and skirting the biggest seas. It was good to be on a 90,000 tonne ship with stabilisers. Unfortunately the American idea of good coffee does not meet the Australian idea of good coffee. The coffee is starbucks in cardboard mugs. Starbucks had to close a lot of their stores in Australia. The Cappuccino is particularly below what Australian's are used to in any of our capital cities. There are little signs that the accountants have been in, no daily news update to the cabins with the daily Cruise Compass, great emphasis to try and encourage passengers to go to the pay extra restaurants. It was however a very enjoyable cruise because of very good attendants, good company and a good itinerary. Special thanks to Jimmy Archer in Tauranga. Would we cruise Royal Caribbean, as we said in the onboard reveiw maybe, maybe not as two of our first considerations are itinerary and the calender dates. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Pre Cruise: After a really nice cruise on Radiance of the Seas earlier this year, we wanted to try another ship of that class. Luckily Royal Caribbean was nice enough to put Jewel of the Seas in Tampa this season. Two friends of ours ... Read More
Pre Cruise: After a really nice cruise on Radiance of the Seas earlier this year, we wanted to try another ship of that class. Luckily Royal Caribbean was nice enough to put Jewel of the Seas in Tampa this season. Two friends of ours accompanied my wife and me. Additionally my wife's parents and both sets of our friend's parents came along. We all drove down to the Port of Tampa on embarkation day. Embarkation: We arrived at the pier around 11:30 and found the crowds in the terminal to be very light. We got checked in immediately and walked right on board. The whole process took about fifteen minutes. It seemed like we were all good to go. Everything went totally sideways about an hour later. One of the people in our group is not a US citizen but has a valid green card (an older non-expiring type). My wife and I helped his family in doing lots of research before we went. We even went so far as to ask a Customs Officer about the situation last month as we debarked from Allure. Everyone said that he would be okay to cruise with his birth certificate, ID and green card. The pier agents checked him in without any problem and we got on board. Later in the day he was requested to go to the Guest Relations desk. They said that Customs needed to speak to him in the terminal. He had to go back ashore and was told that the regulations were recently changed (within the last few days) and that he would not be allowed to go. The Customs Officer didn't have a copy of this regulation since it was so new, and said it wasn't even on their website yet. The customs officer told them that there is some type of a certification form that is required now which you cannot get with an older style green card. Obviously a new card (with this new form) could not be obtained in one day at the pier. No exceptions could be made and no amount of arguing helped. RCI was equally unhelpful, simply blaming everything on Customs. There was another couple (with green cards) that had flown in from Italy and they were also being denied boarding. His family members decided to still go on the cruise, but the trip was understandably tarnished for them. RCI did allow his wife to call him for free from the GR desk but offered no other compensation or reimbursement. The Jewel of the Seas: Aside from a few décor items, the Jewel is nearly indistinguishable from her sister the Radiance. Thankfully Jewel has not yet had the massive renovations scheduled for all the Radiance Class ships. During this remodel two of my favorite spots on board are removed: the Sea View Cafe and the Hollywood Odyssey Cigar Lounge. The Sea View makes way for a pay-extra eatery, and the cigar bar is converted into a Concierge Lounge. No sense in dwelling on her darker future though, her present is still very bright. Starting on Deck 4 we find the main lobby that is home to the Guest Relations desk and a small bar. There is also a dance floor that is used for nightly live music and dancing. The lobby is the bottom floor of the ships expansive atrium, which is the centerpiece of the ship. Also in the Lobby is the lowest landing for the ships 5 glass-enclosed elevators. Two look into the atrium, the other three look outward onto the ocean through a gigantic wall of glass. Aft on Deck 4 is the bottom floor of the Tides main restaurant where most guests enjoy their meals. All the way forward on Deck 5 is the Coral Theater, the ship's main show lounge. Also on that deck is the Photo Gallery and the shopping area. "Lattetudes" is a specialty coffee bar and Internet café located in the Atrium. The upper level of the Tides dining room is aft on Deck 5. The entirety of Deck 6 is dedicated to entertaining guests. Forward is the balcony of the Coral Theater. Just aft of the theater is the ship's cinema room with stadium seating for screening feature films. Next to the cinema is the Pit Stop sport bar, a NASCAR themed room with several televisions and seating for watching the games. The casino is located between the sports bar and the atrium. The Champagne Bar, a Royal Caribbean staple is found in the atrium with large glass windows that offer great views. The aft third of Deck 6 is the beating heart of the ship. Guests first enter another Royal Caribbean institution, the nautical themed Schooner Bar. It is a cozy lounge with leather seating and wood paneling that is very inviting for folks looking to relax. They also have live piano music in the evenings. Adjacent to the Schooner Bar are the ships two specialty restaurants, "Chops Grille" steakhouse and "Portofinos" Italian dining. Both carry a cover charge over and above the standard cruise fare. At the very back of Deck 6 is the Safari Club complex. It is a mixed-use area consisting of a card game room, a show lounge, two bars and the room housing the self-leveling pool tables. Decks 7, 8, 9 and 10 contain mostly guest cabins. Deck 11 has the ship's two main pools. One is located mid ship and is for everyone to use. It has two hot tubs, an area for live musicians and it's own bar. The other pool is located in the adults-only Solarium. This area is themed to resemble an Asian jungle temple. Thankfully it has no piped in or live music, and only has soft bird sounds playing in the background. The pool is very nice and is accessed via a staircase instead of the typical ladders. The Solarium has it's own bar and a café offering sandwiches, wraps and pizza. My only complaint about the Solarium is it's lone hot tub. On sea days it is usually full, and sometimes grossly overpopulated with bathers. There really should have been two tubs. At the very front of Deck 11 is the lower level of the ship's spa, which has the treatment rooms, steam baths, saunas and massage suites. Opposite the spa, at the very aft of Deck 11 is the "Windjammer" buffet. It has several stations set up offering decent cafeteria-style food options. Forward on Deck 12 is the upper level of the ship's spa and gymnasium. The jogging track also wraps around the front half of this deck. Mid ship on Deck 12 are the children's and teen facilities. There is also a video arcade in the area, and a dance club for the older teens. A children's pool is in this area that has it's own water slide. The sports area is located aft on this deck. There is a basketball (half) court there, and golf simulators; a mini golf course is located one deck above. The biggest attraction for me on Deck 12 has to be the lovely Sea View Cafe. It is a small eatery with a selection of made to order sandwiches, salads, soups, fried chicken and much more. It has both interior and exterior seating. The café is a great alternative to the often chaotic and crowded Windjammer. Unfortunately the Sea View is one of the great things that will be on the chopping block once Royal Caribbean does renovations to the ship. It will be replaced with a pay-extra restaurant. I think it is disgusting that they are eliminating a great free dining option to make way for one with a cover charge. Cruise lines are becoming so petty with their constant nickel-and-diming of customers. This is yet another example. Deck 13 is the highest guest accessible area on the ship and is where the "Viking Crown Lounge" is located. The VCL is the signature feature of all Royal Caribbean ships. It is a great place to relax and enjoy drinks while enjoying the sweeping panoramic views it's huge windows offer. On the Jewel and other Radiance Class ships, the VCL does double duty as the ship's dance club at night. The "Hollywood Odyssey" cigar lounge is adjacent to the VCL. It has a dedicated bartender after 9:30 each night, and has a small humidor with cigars for sale. There were many guests enjoying drinks and fine cigars in the lounge each night. It is such a shame that they will be converting it into a private lounge for concierge level guests. I don't have a problem with the cruise lines offering lounges only for suite guests or frequent cruisers. I do have a problem with them replacing well-used public spaces with those private areas. Day 1, Tampa: After embarkation and the problems with US Customs we went to our cabin, #7174 that is at the very aft end of deck 7. We were originally booked in an ocean view room, but upgraded to a balcony after a price drop. The cabin had a spacious aft-facing veranda with two loungers, two upright chairs and a small table. The room itself had a full size sofa, an older style tube TV and a safe. I was happy to see that the shower had the sliding doors versus the nasty shower curtains used on other ships. Before dinner we watched sail away from the Viking Crown Lounge and stayed there for the Diamond Event. It was lightly attended, but the free wine and sodas were nice. After that we had our first dinner in the main dining room. Our serving team was pretty slow but the quality of the food was high. A buddy and I finished the night with some cigars and drinks in the Hollywood Odyssey. Day 2, At Sea: Our first full day on board began with breakfast in the main dining room. Their eggs benedict were excellent. I always appreciate it when they don't overcook the eggs, the yolk is supposed to be runny! The rest of the morning was spent in the Solarium swimming and soaking in the hot tub. That afternoon we had lunch at the Sea View Cafe. The food was very good, but the sandwiches were much smaller than the ones we had on Radiance. Later that day we watched "Super 8" in the Cinema. It fills up quickly, so anyone wanting a seat should arrive about twenty minutes early. The second evening was the only formal dress night of the cruise. We met in the lobby for formal portraits and waited in line to be photographed on the glass staircase. When we finally made it in front of the photographer we had the displeasure of encountering the rudest (or dumbest) people I have ever seen on a cruise. Just as the photographer was getting us into poses an older fellow walked up to him and interrupted with a question. After his question was answered he proceeded to walk right between my wife and her mother who were the two in the middle of the shot. The moron then stopped about half way up the staircase and began yelling to his wife who was still standing in the lobby. Instead of walking up the main stairs that were about twenty feet away, she began to walk toward the glass staircase as well. She almost made it. A loud "UUMM NO!" and a finger snap from my wife diverted her from her course of stupidity. She stood there dumbfounded for a moment with an odd look on her face before walking off toward the main stairs. It's a sad comment on the state of society when the photographer is afraid to say something to rude or clueless passengers for fear of being complained about. After a few more portrait stops we made our way into the main dining room for dinner. As with the first night the food was very good. I have a few orders of escargots bourguignonne, which is my favorite dish on Royal Caribbean. The service speed was again very slow. We had drinks at the Diamond event in the VCL after dinner. At midnight I went to the adult comedy show. The comic was okay, but not outstanding. Day 3, Cozumel: My wife and I slept in late this day. We didn't even leave the room until around 11:30 am. After a breakfast in the Windjammer we headed ashore for some shopping. We have been to Cozumel many times, so after shopping we just went back on board the ship to enjoy the nearly empty pool deck. After some swimming and hot tub soaking I went to the bow to watch the Carnival Triumph cruise into port. I then met the family at the Sea View Cafe for lunch. I watched the Liberty of the Seas leave port before we headed to the Diamond event for some pre-dinner drinks. The service at dinner this night was very much improved. After dinner my wife and I went to the top-tier Crown and Anchor reception. They served free drinks and had live music. Later in the program the Captain spoke to the assembly, as well as the Loyalty Ambassador. She screened the new "Shell Phone" TV ad. I thought the commercial itself was silly and tacky. But I think the new tag lines "The Sea is Calling" and the longer form "The Sea is Calling, Answer it Royally" are actually really good. Classy and simple like the old "Get Out There" campaign. I later met up with some of our friends at the Coral Theater for the Gaucho show. The show is very funny, and the stunts the gauchos perform are impressive. I highly recommend the show. Afterward we had cigars and drinks in the Hollywood Odyssey before retiring for the evening. Day 4, At Sea: After another sleep that lasted until noon we went to the main dining room for the excellent salad bar they set up on sea days. There is just about any component that one could want in their salad made right in front of you. I also had an order of the delicious gnocchi. We attempted to see "Thor" in the Cinema but were too late to find seats. So we instead went to the Solarium for more swimming. We had afternoon snacks at the Sea View Cafe and then stopped by the photo gallery to look at our pictures. We visited the Diamond Event one last time and made sure to tip the friendly wait staff before leaving. After dinner we smoked our final cigars of the cruise and left to watch The Quest. The Quest is a must-do on a Royal Caribbean cruise. It is so fun to watch and take part in! Debarkation and Conclusion: We had breakfast in the main dining room before leaving the ship. The process went very fast and we were driving away about a half hour after leaving the dining room. In spite of the rocky first day we all still managed to have a good time on this cruise. The ship is in very good shape. I am glad that I got to cruise on the Jewel before they renovate her. I am looking forward to our next cruise on her in March of 2012, our Spring Break cruise! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Our family decided to take a pre-Christmas cruise as a Christmas gift to the family. There were the 3 of us and my MIL who has never traveled anywhere. My hubby and I had been on previous cruises with Carnival, so we chose them due to ... Read More
Our family decided to take a pre-Christmas cruise as a Christmas gift to the family. There were the 3 of us and my MIL who has never traveled anywhere. My hubby and I had been on previous cruises with Carnival, so we chose them due to some past guest discounts we received. We decided on the Liberty because we liked the itinerary, and it appeared that there would be few if any other cruise ships in port the same day we were. We flew from Colorado on a redeye to Ft. Lauderdale on Friday/Saturday (12/16-17). Our flight was late departing Phoenix, so we didn't get into Ft. Lauderdale until after 7AM Saturday morning. We had scheduled a transfer with SAS Transportation, so we called them after we arrived and told them about the large delay in our flight. They already knew about it, so we told them we wanted to eat at the airport before we headed to the cruise ship, and they delayed our pickup until we were ready to go. Another group was in the same situation, so we shared a van with them to the Port of Miami. We were dropped off at our ship and then proceeded through embarkation which went very quickly since it was only 10AM at the time. I didn't check the time, but we were up on the Lido deck enjoying lunch before we knew it! We took naps by the pool while we waited for our room and proceeded to get our first round of color. When our room was ready, we went and unpacked everything before taking another nap! It was a very LONG redeye flight with a crying baby. 'Nuff said... We slept through the CC meet and greet unfortunately, as we woke up in time to do the muster drill. After muster drill, we proceeded to check out the ship. The 2.0 upgrades are nice. My family loved the Guy's Burgers. They don't look pretty, but they tasted wonderful. Especially enjoyed the chipotle sauce on both the burgers and the fries. Even my finicky son loved the burgers! We had the late dinner seating, so we sat out on our balcony and watched the ship leave Miami. Dinner was Cruise Casual, and I must say the dress was the most casual I have ever seen on a cruise. My husband remarked that he wouldn't even wear some of the outfits to a workout session. Our table staff (Arnel, Iwayan, and Adita) were wonderful and made the cruise even more enjoyable. DAY 2: Sea Day: We played in the pool, played mini golf (difficult when the wind is blowing!), and laid out in the sun. Still recovering from that redeye! Dinner was Cruise Elegant so we got dressed up and went to have formal pictures taken. The gentleman who did our photos was very meticulous and detail oriented, so all of our pictures turned out beautifully. Yes, we had to buy them all! The dinner was lobster tail and prime rib, so we indulged in both. We also had to have the Chocolate Melting Cake. This became a must every night! The dress in the dining room was better, but still not anywhere as nice as I have seen on previous cruises. This was a full ship, so there were nearly 1,000 kids on board. DAY 3: Cozumel: We had been to Cozumel on several earlier occasions, so we just went to Chankanaab Park and laid out in the palapas for the day. My MIL is a huge fan of dolphins, so we walked around and learned a little bit more about the dolphins, manatees, and sea lions. We snorkeled in the water while my MIL enjoyed the warm weather (it was -1 degrees when we left home!). The beach was pretty empty as we were the only ship in port that day. The rainy weather moved in late in the afternoon, and it made for a rougher ride that night on the ship. DAY 4: Belize: We tendered into the port here. We had scheduled a tour outside of the cruise line, so we had to get in line early in the morning to get tender tickets. The line was long, and most people were polite and friendly while waiting in line to get tickets. The upsetting part was the fact that people just jumped in line when groups were being taken down to the tenders, and they hadn't waited in line for tender tickets. The people who waited were pretty upset that these "cutters" just walked on without having to wait. Nobody really checked to see if people had tender tickets. We went ashore and found out tour. We then had an amazing day in Belize. The weather had been rainy for several days, so we lucked out that the weather was absolutely beautiful for us. After dinner, we decided to go to the show in the Venetian Palace. The show was very loud, so my ears rang for a long time afterwards, but the actual show was just an average one. We weren't overly impressed. DAY 5: Roatan: We booked a tour through Carnival for this port. My son wanted to see the monkeys and birds at Gumbalimba Park, so we chose that one coupled with Tabyana Beach. The ship was late getting into port as the wind was blowing and the ship's channel is so narrow that we couldn't go in. We had also been late leaving Belize due to a late tender, so that may have been part of the problem as well. The tour would have been more enjoyable if we had been able to hear the guide, but the group was quite large, and people were talking the entire tour. We tried to stay as close to the tour guide as possible so we could hear. The monkeys were interesting, but, once again, there were many people there, so the monkeys were put on leashes to keep them from getting flustered by the people who were being loud. Tabyana Beach was very nice, and we had a good time there. Roatan is a nice island, and one we have put on our list to visit again. We convinced our 12yo son to go to the show with us that night since it was scheduled before dinner. It was a juggling act with a gentleman named "Edge". He was highly entertaining (part comedian), and the juggling tricks he did fascinated us all. My son had to actually try some of them later. Dinner was good. More Chocolate Melting Cake for dessert.... DAY 6: Grand Cayman: We booked an outside tour for Grand Cayman. It was another tender port, so we got in line around 9 AM to make sure we would be on the first tender. There was already a line by that time. The tender ride is much shorter than in Belize, so we were on shore in a few minutes. We were early for our tour, so we wandered around through the little port shops and bought a few trinkets. We headed out for snorkeling and Stingray City with Moby Dick tours. They said the Stingray sandbar had been closed for the past week due to high winds, so we were fortunate that we got to go. My MIL had never snorkeled or been in the ocean before, and the crew on the tour were incredibly helpful and patient with her. We had a great time, then headed back to the ship to get a late afternoon lunch. Dinner was Cruise Elegant again, and delicious once more. We were worn out, so we went to bed after dinner. DAY 7: At Sea Day: We spent part of the morning laying out on the balcony before starting to gather all of our things. It's amazing how much stuff we managed to accumulate over the week. We played in the pool, did the Groove for St. Jude fundraising, and ate our last Guy's Burger. (They really were yummy!) We enjoyed our last dinner in the Main Dining Room before going to the Legends show that evening. The show was enjoyable (still too loud for my tastes), and the members of our cruise who sang did a great job.We had placed all of our bags outside our room, and they were gone by the time we returned. DAY 8: Debarkation: We got up and had breakfast on the Lido deck while we waited for our group to be called. When our group was called, we walked right off the boat to the baggage area, picked up our bags, and waited in line for customs. When we were on the gangplank, I called SAS transportation to let them know we were almost off the ship, and they said to call as soon as we were finished with customs. I called them once we were outside, and they drove right up and picked us up. We drove up to Ft. Lauderdale for our return flight. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
First Time Princess sailing view from a veteran cruiser: Crown Princess Review (Dec 17 -- 24) Background to this review: With our children grown and no longer cruising with us, we began booking suites for the extra amenities offered. ... Read More
First Time Princess sailing view from a veteran cruiser: Crown Princess Review (Dec 17 -- 24) Background to this review: With our children grown and no longer cruising with us, we began booking suites for the extra amenities offered. On this cruise, we booked a suite on Lido deck(deck 15 -- L106). This cruise was affected by an outbreak of the Norovirus on the previous cruise which impacted the embarkation process (will not comment on this) and I believe to some extent the level of service we received on our cruise. I tried to factor the effect of the Norovirus into my evaluation because the purpose of us taking this cruise was to evaluate Princess as a cruise line for future cruises. Overall Evaluation: (more detail comments appear below) - Crown is an elegant ship, well decorated for Christmas, clean, and relatively easy to navigate - Suite was comfortable but our location was problematic (see comments below) - Food quality was good, not great except for the Crown Grill which was exceptional - Dining room (Michelangelo, Da Vinci) menu variety not great, anytime dining reservation system is chaotic, and service level can vary greatly - International Cafe and Ice Cream and Pizza Bar (great pizza) were two of our favorite places - Entertainment variety was good and some of the special acts were exceptional, shows ordinary - Exercise room and spa were below expectation levels compared to other cruise lines - The staff was not as friendly and helpful on the Crown as other cruise lines. Of course there were exceptions. SUITE: DO NOT BOOK LIDO SUITES L106, L104 or cabins L104,L103,L102, and L101 unless you want to be awakened every morning at 7:00 by the sound of treadmills from the exercise room above. I booked suite L106 because the deck plans showed the Lotus Thermal Spa to be on deck 15 which looked easily accessible from our suite. However, the only access to the Thermal Spa is from deck 16 by going through the Lotus Spa and then back down. The deck plans also do not show the restricted view from the balcony of L106. Being in the front of the ship with a large curved balcony, I expected to have a good view of the front of the ship. This view was obstructed by the extended bridge and the top of the bridge. Therefore, this suite's view was nothing more than a good side balcony cabin. If you're a first time Princess Suite passenger, you better inquire about how to access the amenities offered because there is NO ONE to assist you such as a concierge or butler like on other cruise lines. This may have been the responsibility of the room steward on Princess but that was not clear to us. Nor was it helpful to receive inconsistent information from the front desk versus the printed material left daily in our room. One amenity that was useful to us was the COMPLIMENTARY internet service. The service on the ship, like any other, is slow so I spent over 500 minutes online. This would have been a $175+ charge if I had to pay for it. I did discover the speed is much faster early in the day rather than in the evening. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres are featured in Skywalker's lounge from 5:00 -- 7:00 pm for suite passengers and elite members on "selected evenings" according to a letter we received onboard. I inquired at the front desk for the definition of selected evenings and it was quite a task to discover it was any night except when the Captains Elite meeting occurred. Finally, I learned from a Princess Elite passenger that a "card" should have been placed in my room listing the evenings and the specialty drink of the day offered in Skywalker's lounge. All my problems would have been solved if the Front Desk knew of this card or the letter reference it. Priority tender tickets are a GREAT perk. The first day tendering to Princess Cay can be a chore with LONG waiting lines but if you are a suite passenger with priority tickets you are offered the seating on the next boat leaving from the ship. Go directly to the exit side of the Michelangelo staging area rather than getting in line or asking staff people because you may get different directions from various staff members. I finally just went directly to the dining exit area where people were leaving for the next boat when I found someone who actually knew how to direct me. ANYTIME DINING: We chose anytime dining because we enjoyed the flexibility it offers and had a great experience on NCL with this option. On Princess it was not as enjoyable because it wasn't as flexible as they advertise. Only the Michelangelo dining room is accessible entirely for anytime dining and Da Vinci after 7:30 pm. Michelangelo only allows a limited number of reservations for anytime dining and after that you are "invited" to wait on line to get in. Before making reservations, I always like to know the menu for the evening. The menu for the dining room is not easily accessible from your suite via interactive TV like other cruise lines and you have to actually visit the dining area to read the menu. If you decide the menu is OK for the evening, you better make your reservation EARLY or you will be told to come "wait in line". This is where ANYTIME DINING on the CROWN fails!!!! Heard MANY complaints from "ELITE" Princess cruisers about the lines and chaotic reservations system on the Crown. They tried to inform me that it was NOT this bad on other Princess Ships. I was not overly impressed with the menu in the dining areas. The food quality was acceptable but there was not a great variety of items I enjoy. Lunch in the dining room wasn't anything special. The buffets were just ordinary. Typical buffets. SPECIALITY DINING: Crown Grill a delight!!!! As a suite passenger we were offered breakfast daily in Sabatini's. The breakfast was good but the waiters were not overly friendly like the Crown Gill and the dining area. For that reason, we did not return to Sabatini's for dinner. However, the Crown Grill is totally different. The food is EXCEPTIONAL and the wait staff was very friendly and an absolute delight to experience. I don't know how anyone could complain about the menu, food quality or service in the Crown Grill. I do know people complain about the $25 up charge but I had the filet with "several" lobster tails and have NOTHING but complements for this dining venue. Don't miss the "fish and chips" in the Wheelhouse Bar at the pub lunch. INTERNATIONAL CAFe and PIZZA BAR: We opted for the beverage card when we arrived on the ship since we are not alcohol drinkers. For $49.00 you can upgrade to a the beverage card that allows you all the soda, fruit drinks (i.e. virgin pina coladas, strawberry daquires, etc) and milk shakes at the ice cream bar (delicious). The pizza bar was one of the MOST POPULAR places on the ship. Absolutely great "New York" style pizza. We would almost rather eat there some nights then the dining room!!! The other MOST POPULAR place on the ship was the International Cafe for deserts, sandwiches and salads 24 hours a day. We made many trips to this venue.....don't miss it. If you are a coffee drinker, one complaint with the Cafe is you have to pay for your regular or decaf coffee when the buffet lines are open. Just an inconvenience to walk to deck 15 for free coffee but have to pay on deck 7. Not very customer friendly!!!! EXERCISE ROOM AND LOTUS THERMAL SPA: This is one area of the ship I frequent often. The exercise room has the typical equipment but has ONLY TWO recumbent bicycles that are always in demand. This should tell Princess something if they are paying attention!!!!!!!! GET MORE RECUMBENT BIKES!!!! I really enjoy the Thermal Spas on the ships I cruise. Access to the Lotus Thermal Spa was one perk of being a suite passenger. The Thermal Spa has heated chairs and steam rooms accessible through the Spa area on deck 16. If you are not a suite passenger, there is a charge for access. There is a LACK of a nice relaxation area that I have enjoyed on other cruise lines. Areas that allow a view of the ocean, comfortable music, choice of various juices and flavored water, etc. This is missing on Princess. The locker room facility for the SPA is small and many lockers are visible from the hallway when the door is opened. Don't change in front of your locker if you're near the doorway!!!! The HOT TUBS outside the SPA area are more like heated pools....not very hot and not a lot of "jet" action. The one tub did NOT work the entire week we were on the ship. ENTERTAINMENT: This was hit or miss and a matter of opinion. A lot to choose among most nights, but not always great. The shows were OK but nothing spectacular but the comedians, especially Phil Tag, and the piano player (Kory Simon) were very entertaining. Of course, they may not be on the next cruise. Music and the gymnastic performer Li Liu entertained in the Piazza area by the International Cafe and were very entertaining. PORTS: Princess Cay was very relaxing. The beach area was nice with beach chairs available and access to a barbecue lunch. Curacao was a very colorful town with many unique shops on both sides of the inlet. Access to the shops on the other side of the inlet requires you walk over a pontoon bridge or take a ferry. When we were there another cruise ship was leaving and the pontoon bridge was not available. We took the ferry to the other side but I felt it was not worth the trip. In Aruba it rained the day we were there. Unusual but it did not damper our enthusiasm for shopping. We enjoyed our stay in Aruba and access the shopping area is a very easy walk. A nice change from other Caribbean islands is that we were not HASSLED or HUSTLED while walking from the ship to the shopping area. A very popular shop in Aruba was Dunkin Donuts. It seemed that many other passengers who love coffee seemed to agree that the coffee on the Crown Princess was NOT very good and we could not wait to purchase a decent cup of coffee. DISEMBARKATION: This turned out to be very quick and easy but as a first-time Princess cruiser trying to learn the night before what I needed to do in the morning was not so easy. As a suite passenger, I received information that I could go to the Club Fusion at 7:30 am for priority disembarkation. Since we were going to walk off with our luggage, the instruction sheet indicated we could only do that at 6:15 and 6:45 am. I went to the excursion desk to inquire if I could walk off at 8:00 after going to the Club Fusion lounge and they were not sure. I never got a definitive answer so I decided to do what was best for us..... visit Club Fusion and walk off with our luggage. As it turned out, disembarkation did not start on time and we went to Club Fusion for coffee and danish, walked off the ship with our luggage, cleared customs and were in a taxi within 30 minutes. NEXT CRUISE: I am still unsure about going back to Princess. We are scheduled in a suite on NCL very soon and from past experience have had excellent service and great accommodations as suite passengers. We also would like to evaluate Celebrity and Oceania cruises as alternative options. CRUISE CRITIC MEET AND GREET: I had worked with Princess to schedule our M&G meeting in the Wheelhouse Bar and Cruiselover57 (Laurie) did a fabulous job in organizing the meeting, the gift exchange, and printing name tags. This meeting allowed us to meet several new friends and arrange dinner and social gatherings together while on board. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We live locally so the morning of December 19th we awoke, finished packing and loaded the car for the 1 hour drive to Long Beach and the start of our cruise. We have never cruised in the month of December before. Our past cruises have ... Read More
We live locally so the morning of December 19th we awoke, finished packing and loaded the car for the 1 hour drive to Long Beach and the start of our cruise. We have never cruised in the month of December before. Our past cruises have been summer cruises - June and July - on either Carnival, Disney or Celebrity. We booked this cruise because there was no airfare required, it was the week before Christmas and we though a nice pre-Christmas get away would be relaxing. Because we had taken a big family trip over the summer - Carnival Dream cruise followed by one week in Disneyworld we booked an inside cabin for the 4 of us. Mom, dad and two teenagers age 13 & 15. Usually the kids sleep and that is it in the cabin. My husband and I usually hang out at various times throughout the day on previous cruises on the balconies so this would be a new experience for us in an inside room. Embarkation was a disaster but I don't know who was to blame for this. The computer system they use to check you in was not working at all. : ( Everything had to be done manually which resulted in long lines and longer waits. From the time we arrived in the parking lot until the time we boarded the ship it was 1 1/2 hours which is not normal for this port. Once we were on the ship we were greeted by Welcomes from many crew members and directions to get to the buffet for lunch, which is where we headed. After lunch the rooms were opened so we headed down to our room. We knew an interior would be a different experience for our family - we usually book balconies and only a couple times an ocean view room and this was an interior on the bottom deck midship. The room was very clean, had more than enough storage space to place our clothes and suitcases fit perfectly under the bed. We met Raul our room-steward who was great. We ran into him a few times during the cruise and the room was always clean, ice in the bucket and clean towels in the bathroom even though we hung the used ones up to save water. No complaints here. We explored the ship, got our bearings and then were ready for the muster drill. Ours was initially inside in the Rock and Roll Lounge and after discussing what to do we were all walked out to the life boats 'just in case'. Dining - We had anytime dining and the first night was the only night we had to wait for a table. We received a beeper and went to the library to wait. Our dining room was the Mardi Gras. After about 20 minutes we received our table. The remaining three nights we arrived about the same time however were seated immediately. Overall the food is fine. Not 5 Star but adequate for our family and always arrived hot and with attentive servers. We had breakfast on the lido deck buffet and lunch daily here as well. The lines moved a bit slow and the selection of hot items was just OK. There was a nice salad bar daily, deli sandwiches made fresh for you and a pizza bar opened 24 hours. The desserts in the buffet was just adequate and that allowed me to skip dessert at lunch. We did not use room service or eat in any other venue so I can only comment on the buffets and MDR. Shows - The first night we did not attend any welcome shows. We were tired and in bed by 9 PM! The second night and 4th night we attended the shows in the Paris Lounge with the dancers and singers. They were the usual Carnival shows, well done and with a million and one costume changes. The final day - our sea day - there was a children's holiday show where the kids on board could participate with the dancers and singers, it snowed on the stage and Santa came for a quick visit. Spa and Casino - walked through them but did not utilize any services here. Pools - it was cold so very few people were in them. No chair hogs this trip!Kids clubs - 13 year old daughter participated in Circle C and 15 year old son participated in Club 02. Both met other kids in their age range and enjoyed some activities on board. The kids programs on port days however don't open until after 3 PM for Catalina. Various activities were offered - Wii, scavenger hunt, trivia, karaoke, and more. Both kids received a cute t-shirt that their new friends signed. They enjoyed spending time with other kids vs. being stuck with their parents. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We sailed POA over this Christmas Holiday and had a lovely time. The ship is family friendly and, although clean and lovely, is definitely on the more casual side. We booked owner's suite 8500 - a beautiful, private and spacious ... Read More
We sailed POA over this Christmas Holiday and had a lovely time. The ship is family friendly and, although clean and lovely, is definitely on the more casual side. We booked owner's suite 8500 - a beautiful, private and spacious room. Separate living room and bar area with dining table/chair for 4 as well as couch and two armchairs had ample space for sofa bed to open and roll away bed for our two tween daughters. Balcony with private hot tub and two chaise lounges. The balcony view is somewhat obstructed by dividing and front walls, but once the ship was underway I understood the need for the walls. The wind on the front of the ship was quite strong (!!) and it was difficult to sleep with the very loud rattling of the two sliding doors. There are other staterooms of the same category that face the side of the ship and I would recommend those for that reason! The bedroom area was lovely and also had a sliding door to the balcony. The bathroom and closet areas were really fantastic. Double sink with large counter areas. Plenty of storage and hanging space. Large marbled walk-in shower and separate large jacuzzi bath. Well-stocked and maintained by our wonderful cabin steward who serviced the cabin twice daily and seemed to always be nearby and eager to help us. The perks of booking suite level accommodations were numerous and included access to one of the specialty restaurants for a more quiet, private breakfast each morning. The concierge was present at breakfast each morning and was very helpful and informative about the days events. Lunch was also offered. Also priority for tender in Kona as well as private area for arrival/check-in. Suites also come with daily water/soda service and three bottles of liquor for the cruise. We did not see our butler often. He did leave a little treat each afternoon when we returned from excursions and was available by phone but we did not really ask much either! We chose to have dinners in the specialty restaurants. Extra cover was $15-25 per person. They were all good, especially East Meets West. Sushi was available in East Meets West (and Teppanyaki) at an additional charge and was good. My husband loved the sashimi. Teppanyaki was so-so. Jefferson Bistro was the most formal and the food was good but not over the top. They have one night when they offer whole Kona lobsters which were delicious. I would recommend reservations in advance and early seating for that. Cadillac Diner was a fun place for lunch with great smoothies! My parents tried Liberty (main dining room) one night and liked it. It is the more formal of the two main dining room - no flip flops or shorts! The buffet was crowded and noisy but the food was decent.... but honestly the ship is always in port during the day so we were exploring and doing excursions at lunch time. The best thing about this cruise is the ability to easily visit and explore multiple islands. Embarkation is from Honolulu, overnight to Maui - Kahalui Harbor not Lahaina. The boat overnights in port. Maui is VERY easy to explore on your own. I would not bother with organized excursions here. There are free shuttles to the airport car rentals (5 minutes away). We spent one day relaxing on the beach at the Kea Lani in Wailea (30 minute drive) and the second in the upcountry on the slopes of Haleakala touring the winery, goat farm (really fun!), lavender fields and dinner at the Hailemaile General Store. It was gorgeous and easy driving. You can easily drive to the summit yourself. The road to Hana is more difficult and for that I would at least book a driver so that you can actually enjoy the scenery. Bear in mind that the port in Maui has no shopping or restaurants in the immediate vicinity, but you are staying overnight and a fun option is to go to one of the many great island restaurants instead of the ship. Hilo is the first port on the Big Island. It is an industrial town and it rains a lot!! We booked the Crater Rim Hike and Akaka Falls. Hike at Volcano is about 4 miles and although not strenuous the footing is a little tricky. You see steam but not lava. Stop at the museum is interesting. The Akaka Falls were just gorgeous..Another short hike on paved trail with lots of steps. It poured which just added to the beautiful atmosphere. Also stopped at Mauna Loa macadamia nut farm/plant which was fun. That night when the ship pulls out you sail past the lava flow in the dark. We were extremely lucky and saw rivers of molten lava flowing clear from the top and streaming like waterfalls into the ocean. It was an amazing and unforgettable sight. You may want to tailor your dinner reservations to lava sighting time! The second port on the Big Island is Kona. It is dry and makes a good beach day. Miles and miles of old lava flows. Kona is a tender port. Kauai is beautiful. Take the helicopter tour of the island which takes you over the Na Pali Coast. It was stunning. Probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Rainbows, waterfalls. Not to be missed. Boat docks within walking distance of resort (Hilton?)/beach/little shopping area with restaurants. Check out the chickens. The ship offers much more than we had time to sample. There is a gym with exercises classes and the standard equipment. You can do personal training as well. Who had time? There were shows and evening entertainment which people seemed to like, but we didn't have time (or energy!) to get to. Never went to the pool area but it looked nice. They will deliver food to your stateroom day or night and there are several bar areas. Overall this was a great vacation with enough variety of activities and accommodations to suit almost anyone. Our suite was pricey but worth it. The kids were worn out by the end of each day. My husband and I had a great time. The level of service was very good. My father-in-law has mobility issues and the staff were extremely helpful and prompt with wheelchair assistance. Aloha and have a great time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
The Good - Kids had a great time. - Teen program was an unexpected hit with my son. - Ship was decorated beautifully - Ice show was really well done - Ports of call were wonderful and the weather was really lovely - Service in the ... Read More
The Good - Kids had a great time. - Teen program was an unexpected hit with my son. - Ship was decorated beautifully - Ice show was really well done - Ports of call were wonderful and the weather was really lovely - Service in the restaurant was excellent. The food was also generally very good, but not spectacular in my opinion. - The staff on the ship was friendly and helpful, especially with the large numbers of kids on board. The Bad - The embarking process in Galveston was a disaster. The ship went through 'extra cleaning' and they wouldn't let folks board until several hours after the planned departure. The cruise line went to the trouble to charter buses to take all the passengers to the other side of Galveston island where we would wait at the convention center in relative comfort. However, the goofball who planned this obviously expensive work-around, couldn't calculate how many buses would be needed to do this. We waited in line at the port for more than 2 hours to simply get on a bus, to take us to the convention center where we would wait 2 more hours. No-one at the port could give any explanation for the long line -- it was only right as we got to the end of the line that we realized we were going to get on a bus instead of go inside the port terminal. Surely the cruise line could have sent an email even a few hours ahead of time telling people of the delay so we could have waited in comfort at home or the hotel instead of crazy-long line. - Food in the Windjammer was plentiful, but poorly prepared. I tried several items which were disappointing: watered down juice, tough and tasteless pancakes, overcooked hard-boiled eggs (the whites were brown and hard). After a while I learned to stick to sliced fruit and salads where the cooks couldn't ruin the food. The Mediocre - I got tired of the endless art sales. Easy enough to avoid, but still not of interest at all to me while on vacation. Just one person's opinion. - The ship photographers seem to be everywhere. I'd love to buy a few photos, but it's so hard to find them on the display walls that I usually gave up and went on to our next activity. - I am allergic to smoke and therefore could not enjoy several areas of the ship, including the casino. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
After much research & not many optioned with in our time constraint of planning a pre-Holiday vacation out of Miami with our three 14-19 children & one 19 yr. old girlfriend, I settled with Carnival's Liberty. I have to admit ... Read More
After much research & not many optioned with in our time constraint of planning a pre-Holiday vacation out of Miami with our three 14-19 children & one 19 yr. old girlfriend, I settled with Carnival's Liberty. I have to admit in spite of hours of research, & reading the boards & posting my own questions I immediately had buyers remorse. Where I anticipated concern & disappointment was exactly where I found it. These boards are true to form! The biggest Con was the food. Apart from Fun Ship additions the Mexican & Guy's Hamburger's...the best & greasiest-but most delicious I've ever had!!! on Lido I solely won't sail with Carnival because of the poorest food quality, menu & selections I've experienced yet on 3 cruises & multiple all -inclusive vacations. The set up of the buffet dining is insane. Single lines wrapped around interior hall ways & walk pathways. They need to consult Royal Carib on how this can be resolved, seriously. The crazy lines resulted in most of us eating Mexican breakfast burritos from the lido every morning, & hamburgers for lunch. I waited only once (45 minutes) for the Mongolian BBQ which was delicious, but not worth the wait. Fish & Chips seemed to never be open or also had crazy long lines. My DH waited & got some on our last day, it was greasy, but tasty with a thumbs up for the super spicy hot ceviche`. I had a calzone on the last day also, the dough was good with a light dusting of semolina, but under cooked as was all the cheese, & meats inside. The 8:00 seating was a good choice every evening but the food & menue was just unappitising by mid week. The same one & only Indian vegetarian entree offered every evening was literally disgusting. As for the chocolate melting cake that everyone raves about???? It's not suppose to be a ramekin of cake batter & it was just that. All but one evening was it even remotely cooked as it should be with an undercooked oozing center surrounded by chocolate cake. Each night someone at the table would undoubtably give it another try but it was always served like warm just off the stove chocolate pudding. I will add that most of the soups were delicious. Harry's & the added 30.00 each tab was delicious. The service was top notch, as was all the food served. However the daily normal fare became a recycling of foods from one day to create an entree or side dish the next was so obvious it became a can you guess it game everyday :) Service was fine, we found most everyone pleasant & accommodating especially our cabin Stewart Josico who impeccably cared for my DH & I along with two other rooms housing our children. Our balcony rooms on the lido were spacious as were the standard bathrooms. Plenty of storage with three side by side closets, a vanity with drawers, bar & cabinetry nooks & crannies throughout. The bed was comfortable but didn't compare to Royal Carib, nor did the linens. The drapery was a bit soiled & the faux leather sofa/bed was warn but a comfy addition for seating & lounging. The robes were comfy but a bit stiff. The balcony's were disappointing. Far too small for the money we spent! Our Emerald Princess cruise standard balcony was easy 3x larger. The ship (as it was our 1st Carnival experience) was a bit over done with it's outdated style. Over all maintained well, clean but showing signs of wear. Another Con was the photo's. Yes they came out beautiful & there were multiple photo opts on & off every port & throughout the cruise. Although there are no packages to be had here. Every photo is a la cart. The prices vary from 12.00 to 20.00 depending if they were on/off ship shots or evening dinner/formal photo's. We spent 140.00 on select photo's & that wasn't all of them. The entertainment on the ship was enjoyable. Butch & Amy 6'3" were the quintessential perfect Cruise directors; delightful, knowledgeable, gracious, & engaging. Lastly is my decision & biggest disappointment to book the Liberty Vs one of Royal's with more bells, whistle, & thrills so to speak of for the kids. Granted we only had two Sea Day's, but after a few times on the slide each, each Sea day there wasn't much more to do other then play over crowded Put Put. With 1 at 14, & 3 at 19, having a climbing wall, ice rink, wave simulator, etc would had definitely been more entertaining as they really didn't get into the shows other then the very late night 10:30-12:00 adult comedy venues (only the 19 yr. old's) The other was the fact that although they are famous for the BIG Screen on the Lido they don't play any movies on it until the evening, & pump out play somewhat too loud DJ music during the day. All in all we had a pleasant vacation together & the weather was great, but I can only say for Carnival is "yes I have but I won't again". Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Room #1544 AQ HOTEL: We did a 2 day precruise at the Hilton, Penn Station. We booked a 1 bedroom Junior Suite. The concierge lounge was not open on the weekend, but we were told that we would be allowed to eat at the breakfast buffet ... Read More
Room #1544 AQ HOTEL: We did a 2 day precruise at the Hilton, Penn Station. We booked a 1 bedroom Junior Suite. The concierge lounge was not open on the weekend, but we were told that we would be allowed to eat at the breakfast buffet since there was no breakfast service in the concierge lounge. We were given a coupon at check in, that allowed us to dine in the hotel's restaurant for breakfast. We enjoyed their buffet (normally priced at $17 per person) and found the service to be friendly and efficient. ***AVOID ONBOARD TOURS AT ALL COSTS WHILE IN NYC!!*** We were booked for their 'See It All Tour' and 'See The Lights (Holiday Lights) Tours'. Our booking specialist, Christa, assured us that OnBoard Tours has a special arrangement with the Hilton hotel at Penn Station in New Jersey, for pick up of their passengers. We were told to be downstairs, outside if possible (weather permitting) at 10:45 AM - 11:15 AM. At 11:20 AM, I knew something wasn't right. I called OnBoard Tours and was told that the driver was running late, but that they were on their way to pick us up. After numerous calls and endless run arounds from OnBoard Tours' representatives, we finally figured out that Christa had lied to us and in fact, there was NO hotel pick up service offered for the Hilton at Penn Station in New Jersey (and yes, we do have a printed email from OnBoard Tours, stating the name of our hotel with the pick up date and time, so we were clearly not the ones that were confused!). Embarkation: Per the recommendation of the bell captain at Hilton Penn Station, we used a town car service (booked at the bell captain's desk -- super easy!, to get from the hotel to Cape Liberty for boarding. The fare was approximately $47, including tip, for two of us with 9 pieces of luggage. The drive took about 25 minutes and was so easy! The reps at Bayonne that represent Celebrity, did a GREAT job of getting us checked in. We love the new process of getting your photo taken at check in instead of with the security guys. This speeds things up and is more pleasant. We were on board around 11:30 AM (did not really like having to take the busses from the terminal to the ship, but it wasn't a huge 'deal breaker', just annoying). We went straight to Bistro on Five. This is the best way to spend a leisurely afternoon, when you board early. You can easily spend 90 minutes enjoying lunch and GREAT service, for $5.00 per person cover charge! A bargain!! Cabin: We booked AQ 100% because of Blu. We had dined in Blu on our Solstice cruise, and even though we prefer a SkySuite or Celebrity Suite, we don't want to take the chance of having to go back to the MDR due to lack of space in Blu (Suite guests are on a 'space available basis' plus $5 surcharge to dine in Blu). That being said, we were semi pleased with our AQ standard balcony cabin. We are a mom/daughter traveling duo that do NOT travel lightly! Between us, we had 5 medium to LARGE size suit cases, plus cosmetics, plus all of our hair care stuff, etc...etc... You get the picture! The layout of the cabin was OK for us....The cabin is smaller than was expected and the storage is LIMITED, like all of the reviewers before me have stated, but you don't really appreciate how limited the storage is, until you and all of your luggage show up and the unpacking begins. Three drawers?! Celebrity, are you kidding?! The bathroom drawers are so small, that literally, you cannot even put your toothbrush in any of them, since it won't fit! Shower is nice (small, but nice). The showers in Aqua Spa are very nice, so if you find the cabin bathroom shower to be too tiny to deal with, then grab your robe and head up to the Aqua Spa. Showers are free and very nice/spacious. Linens in the cabin: FABULOUS!! Loved the down comforter, the crispy sheets, the squishy pillows (never did find the pillow menu!) and the great big bath towels. Service: Our cabin steward and his assistant were OK. I know that they are worked to the bone and I try hard to be respectful of that. Most days, our cabin was not cleaned until at least Noon. One day, we came back at 2 PM and our steward asked us to please give him just 15 minutes more, to get our beds made. Yes, it's not the end of the world...not even close, but it's a shame that Celebrity seems to have cut back on staffing so the current staff members are worked so hard. I do have to give a 'shout out' to Celebrity. We mentioned to our steward's assistant, Ping, that our zipper on a piece of luggage had been broken by the airlines. He said that he would take it to the ship's upholstery shop and would see if they could fix/repair/replace the broken zipper. Well -- two days later, the suitcase showed up and was in GREAT shape with its' brand new zipper! Thanks Celebrity -- that was a very nice thing for you to do (and for not charging me for it!). Dining: Well -- this is so subjective, that I truly hesitate to even comment. What I will say is that if you have simple tastes and don't like hoity toity / uppity menus, you will struggle in Blu (or the MDR). We were so discouraged, every night, with the menus. Not sure why Celebrity feels it's necessary to have menus that nearly require a dictionary or Thesaurus to interpret! I don't eat red meat/pork or much seafood, so it was a bit tough on me. I ended up doing some version of shrimp cocktails, chicken and veggies, along with French Onion Soup and Blue Cheese Wedge salads or Caesar Salads, Crème Brulee, most nights. On the very last day of the cruise, I learned from a fellow passenger, that Celebrity will deliver the menus from the MDR and BLU to your cabin, the night before, so you can determine what the best choices will be for you, if you are a picky eater. This is something that I would have appreciated knowing on Day 1, not on Day 13! Oh well... live and learn. Room Service: Very good (not the apple pie! That is the worst pie, ever!!! Avoid it all costs!). Service was fast (about 20-30 minutes and food, including French fries, arrived hot). Pastries/Sweets: OK... Am I the only living soul that detests Celebrity's pastries? These must be the worst, on any ship! Not sure if X just doesn't put enough sugar in them, or if the executive chefs just want us to avoid them all together, but they are truly awful... The cookies have the taste of cardboard and are simply horrible. On a happier and more positive note, the ice cream on X is so yummy! Princess has horrible 'bug spray tasting' ice cream, so I am appreciative that X gives us high quality frozen yogurt and hand scooped ice cream. Also, there is self service soft serve frozen yogurt (various flavors) available at the Mast Grill, Aqua Spa Cafe and the Ice Cream bar in the Ocean View Cafe. Speaking of the Mast Grill, if the not so friendly cooks tell you that they do not have turkey or chicken burgers, DO NOT BELIEVE THEM! I was told that it was hot dogs or hamburgers ONLY. Well, on day 12, I chatted with the head chef and politely asked him why X doesn't have turkey or chicken at the Mast Grill... he looked at me w/ this puzzled look and said that is absolutely not the case. The French fries at the Mast Grill are GREAT! A great snack when coming back on board after a long day of shore excursions!! Entertainment: Well... like dining, the opinion someone has re: the entertainment, is very subjective. I found the entertainment to be between a 'B' and 'A-' . The dancers/singers were new to the ship, and even though they didn't miss their notes, or the words to the songs, it just seemed like the performances were strained. The Cirque show was interesting. The theater fills up at least 30 minutes before the show starts, so DON'T BE LATE IN GETTING THERE TO GET YOUR SEATS, or you will be sorry (and standing!). Shore Excursions: We did the Swim with Stingray and Kayak adventure in Antigua. Excellent!! I do wish we had been told to bring our credit card or some $$$, since they had our photos for sale, but none of us had our money or credit cards with us, to pay for them. Bummer! The tour was great and Sting Ray City in Antigua is NOT to be missed, if you enjoy seeing these gentle giants in their natural habitat (aka the ocean!). LABADEE: We rented a private OVER THE WATER BUNGALOW. Matt (concierge on board) told us that our $200 fee would include a butler that would bring us our lunches, drinks and our swim mats. Well...that was sort of true. There was a butler. He did show up and told us where the cooler was that had bottled water in it. When lunch time rolled around, we asked him how we were supposed to place our order with him. He gave us the deer in the headlights look and said that we needed to go and get our own lunch. Not the end of the world, obviously, BUT, since our expectations had been set that we were paying for some seriously nice treatment, we expected a different experience. If you do rent an over the water bungalow/cabana, make sure that you reserve #4 or #3, or you will most likely NOT be over the water. Also, you need to reserve it immediately on embarkation, or you will not get one. They only have 4 of them, so they go quickly. Also, if you have an Ipod with music on it, BRING IT! There is electricity in the cabana/bungalow and having some music would have been great!! Also, the buffet was truly awful, the worst chicken shish kabobs ever, so you may want to bring some fruit and snacks from your cabin. I did hear from some fellow ship mates, that the hamburgers were some of the very best, however. There are NO blended drinks on Labadee, so if you have your heart set on a Pina Colada, it's not going to happen. ST. CROIX: The ship docks on the opposite side of the island from all of the major shopping, so you are forced to take a $16 per person taxi cab ride, if you want to shop. There are lots of 'flea market' type of open air shopping (tshirts/tote bags/inexpensive jewelry) at the dock/pier area. We did the Buck Island Snorkel tour/excursion in St. Croix. Ick! The worst snorkeling EVER! We snorkeled in waves that were approximately 4-6 feet high! We all asked the boat captain what was up with bringing us to this truly awful and unpleasant snorkeling place and he simply responded that this was normal and just basically 'get over it'. There was not one morsel of food, only rum punch. Well, after boating for an hour each way, a 30 minute bus ride, 60 minutes of terrifying snorkeling in huge waves, you do get hungry! Wouldn't it have been considerate of Celebrity to tell us to take some fruit or a snack with us, on our excursion? Yes, I know that lunch was not included, but a gentle reminder to bring a snack, would just be nice. Needless to say, after a boatload of us consumed too much rum on the way back to the pier, it made for an interesting bus ride back to the ship. On Board Shopping: Wow! I was (pleasantly) a bit shocked! We actually found the jewelry to not only be a fabulous selection, but the majority of the prices, were fair to very good. We are BIG shoppers of nice jewelry in St. Thomas and St. Marteen and know our pricing for gem stones/gold/etc... Well - the ship's jewelry shop did not disappoint. There was a very nice Effy brand diamond ring that they had priced for about $1800. The exact same ring at the Effy store in St. Marteen was nearly $2500! This was after negotiating with the sales rep at the St. Marteen Effy store. When I told him that the same ring was in the ship's jewelry store, for $700 less, he told me that it must be 'old' and they are just trying to get rid of it. Hello?! It's not milk or eggs... it's gold and diamonds... I don't think it really has an expiration date! Casino: Played the slots and went up and down. All in all, I probably either broke even or made about $20. We had fun and enjoyed our time in the casino, but like all casinos, it can drain you quickly, if you're not careful. I also participated in the Slot Tournament and that was fun. I did not win, but it was a fun way to spend an hour for $25.00 Bringing Wine/Alcohol On Board: I packed two boxes of 'Black Box' wine (Cab & Merlot), plus, three small to medium size rum runners with Baileys and Cherry Vodka. Fortunately, Cape Liberty isn't as 'nosey' as the port in Ft. Lauderdale and/or Miami... (have had to go to the naughty room on Deck 2 on our last Solstice cruise!) and the cocktails and wine made it on board w/o a hitch. Whew! I had already planned to buy the Beverage Package (nearly $800 for this cruise! Yikes!) if my rum runners had not made it on board, and boy oh boy, after the rough seas on our first 2-3 days where all I could stomach, was peppermint tea, I am so happy that I didn't buy the beverage package! Talk about a bummer... feeling sea sick and knowing the drink timer is running at nearly $60 per day and not being able to consume a cocktail. That being said, I would highly recommend to anyone going on a cruise where the seas might be a bit rocky, to NOT buy a beverage package until you are underway and see how it's going to go. I have been on a LOT of cruises and have never, ever been sea sick. For some reason, this cruise was very tough on me (waves were 9-15 feet on any given open sea day while in the Atlantic). Thank goodness X gave free sea sick tablets out at Guest Relations. Whew! SEE IT ALL TOUR ($150 PER PERSON) After doing this on HAL, we had high hopes for this 'behind the scenes tour'. We were met by Matt, the very friendly concierge, on the last sea day, at the Sky Bar at 10:20 AM. We were told that we would not be allowed to see the engine room due to security reasons. Ok...not the end of the world. Then, we were told that we wouldn't get to go to the mooring area due to high seas... OK, also not the end of the world. When we asked our tour guide, Sergio (hotel manager) if we would receive anything special (HAL and Princess both give lovely gift bags and presents!) at the end of our tour, he informed us that we would be treated to lunch in the MDR. Hello! It's a cruise! Isn't lunch already included?! No worries -- we were still happy to be on the tour, just a bit surprised that X did not research what the other lines are doing and follow suit. The 'See It All Tour' consisted of about 30 minutes in the bridge with the Captain and some of his officers. Then, backstage at the theater with the lead singer, Dante, for about 15 minutes, to tour their costume changing area, dressing rooms, etc. After that, it was down to the deck zero area that the crew calls 'I-95' (this references the long hallway that the crew uses to move all of our food and supplies from one end of the ship to the other). We were allowed to see the crew's library and internet room, as well as the crew bar and crew gym. We did not get to see any crew sleeping quarters for all of the obvious reasons. The tour also took us to one of the galleys, the liquor storage areas, a couple of different coolers and some type of engineering control room. It lasted about 3 hours including lunch in the MDR (Celebrity did include red or white wine by the glass at lunch). Are we glad we did it? Yes... Do we feel like we were over charged for this tour with NO gifts at the end? YES... $75 would have been much more reasonable for a price. Disembarkation: ICK! Bayonne and those busses are simply awful on disembarkation day! Also, not only do these awful busses add at least 30-40 minutes to the entire process, but there are basically no porters to help you with your luggage. We desperately needed a porter and honestly, there was not one to be found. We ended up schlepping our own bags (all nine of them!!) and vowed to avoid Bayonne at all costs, in the future, until they get rid of those silly busses and allow us to walk to the ship. Once we got through Customs, and boarded a shuttle to Newark Airport, things smoothed out. It takes approximately 15 minutes (without traffic) to get from the pier to the Newark airport. Also, the Newark airport is so friendly! If you need anything, just ask anyone wearing the red coats. The work for the airport and are truly nice people. Also, they will NOT accept any tips. Incredible... They helped us with our baggage when we flew into Newark, helped us with the Airtrain and with finding our hotel's shuttle service. Each time we offered a gratuity to our 'Red Coat Angel' they always politely declined. Wow... Overall, this was a nice trip. This was one of the FRIENDLIEST CRUISES I have ever been on. My fellow passengers were so sweet and nice & there was never a dull dinner conversation. People in the buffet and the theater were always quick to say hello and strike up a friendly conversation. Maybe it was the fact that we were on the ship together for nearly 2 weeks, so that made people more 'willing' to bond with you....or maybe it's just the large East Coast fellow travelers that are just nice to begin with, or a combination of both... Whatever the reason, I was so happy to see that the ship was filled with friendly, enthusiastic fellow passengers. Will I sail with X again? Yes... But, I am probably going to cancel my Reflection Cruise for 12/2012... Celebrity is a wonderful product, but we are going to try Allure of the Seas and see if we find the food to be better and more 'normal'. I know this makes us 'odd', that we don't get super excited about this high brow food / dining experience, but that just isn't our thing. We are sailing in the Grand Suite on Sapphire Princess to Alaska in Sept. 2012 and even though I know the food (and ice cream!) won't be as good as Celebrity, we are paying nearly what a decent balcony or Sky Suite on Celebrity would have cost. When you consider that Princess gives their suite guests such amazing benefits, the price is very fair. Wish Celebrity would spoil their suite guests a bit more like the other main line cruise lines do. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was our fifth consecutive Holiday cruise. We enjoy traveling as a family during the holidays, and booked two balcony cabins on deck 8, one for my wife and I, and one for our 19 and 21 year old sons enjoying a break from college. We ... Read More
This was our fifth consecutive Holiday cruise. We enjoy traveling as a family during the holidays, and booked two balcony cabins on deck 8, one for my wife and I, and one for our 19 and 21 year old sons enjoying a break from college. We have had many very positive experiences with Celebrity, both as a couple and a family and previously found Celebrity a step above similarly priced lines. We've enjoyed not being inundated with announcements all day, found the quality of the food quite good, and the service generally excellent. And while we loved our vacation because it gave us time to spend together, Celebrity disappointed in several areas. And while we'll probably cruise with Celebrity again, I hope they address some of the truly disappointing aspects of our trip. Our embarkation process was extremely easy, from taxi to ship in less than 15 minutes. This is consistent with our past Celebrity experience and so much more civilized than other embarkation processes we've experienced. We did stop for a quick lunch at the Oceanview cafe, and found the quality, selection, and layout to be generally very well done. The service of the waiters, however, was very weak, with plates stacked on empty tables for too long. Additionally, all the ice machines were down at one point, and some of the drink machines never worked for the entire cruise. We found the coffee much improved. After lunch we walked around the ship, and were in our staterooms when called by 1:45 or so. Our luggage arrived shortly thereafter and we found the space available well-designed. We enjoyed our room and found it well designed. The beds were comfortable and the deck furniture was nice. This was the first time we did not sail in Concierge class and while we missed the better towels, we agreed that our staterooms were fine and would not consider Concierge class unless it was a nominal upcharge of $50 or less. While the design of the room was outstanding, the service was the worst we ever experienced on a ship. For example, on several occasions, we were left with no soap or shampoo and had to request it. One day we had no toilet paper, but had 3 extra boxes of tissues! What we really didn't like was the number of different people in the room and the time it took them to do the service. On every other cruise, the attendants were friendly, hard working, and efficient. On this cruise, the quality was terrible, with them taking two hours to service the room in the morning and evening. They would do the towels, then return and do the ice bucket, then return and leave information packets... We never received our disembarkation information, nor our daily calendar consistently. While we appreciate the fact that the cabin stewards have a difficult job, Celebrity needs to provide the training so they can manage their jobs effectively and at least meet guest expectations. And the worst offense? leaving dirty cleaning microfiber cloths in our son's room. Given previous noro issues on this ship...this is the kind of thing that can certainly spread viruses and should be a basic expectation of hygiene. The entertainment was both outstanding at times and horrible at times. The English juggler was terrific, one of the best acts we've ever seen on a ship. And the production shows were professionally done. But the so called impressionist singer, Sean O'Shea was the worst act we've ever seen. And we don't understand why the sole comedienne only performed a single show and only at midnight? But, all shows were detracted by the horrible cruise director and his inane banter. This was also the worst cruise director we've encountered. He lacked engagement and failed to create a positive vibe on the ship. And Stuart, please stop singing! We did enjoy some of the activities. But we also enjoyed our time together playing a cruise-long card tournament that ended up leaving our sons $10 richer. The highlights of the activities included trivia and the glass show. We met a lovely couple from Palm Beach and thoroughly enjoyed meeting them for various trivia contests. We won 3 of the contests together, but seemed to have as much fun on the one's we lost as the one's we won! The glass show was a nice surprise. We found the commentary, especially by the young lady to be simply fascinating. The layout of the ship was terrific. We never really felt crowded and could always find a quiet spot to lay in the sun, or play cards. Well, perhaps not too quiet. While most of the children on this holiday cruise were very well behaved and pleasant, there were far too many who ran amok, with no supervision, and no manners. Parents, you know who you are, and you should be ashamed of yourselves. There were also a number of people who didn't seem to have "please" or "thank you" in their vocabularies. These folks work hard for us, and a smile or word of appreciation is always in order. We also believe Celebrity needs to either enforce "rules" or not have them. For example, many people smoked on balconies and in non-smoking areas. Children screamed in the Atrium pool all day, yet it was supposedly an adult-only area. And dress codes? Either have them and enforce them, or don't have them. We enjoyed open seating in the main dining room and found the service to be outstanding! The food was generally excellent, with only a few misses, but always nicely presented. We had three different waiter/assistant teams and all were excellent. However, the team of Rajesh and Roxana with whom we dined on the last 4 nights were simply outstanding, and reminded us that the old Celebrity service that brought us back to Celebrity still exists. Thanks to you both for such outstanding service. Note that we made reservations for dinner in advance of the cruise, and the reservations were honored immediately every time. We didn't sample the specialty restaurants. The ports were fine and we had a nice time in all of them. Due to heavy winds (35mph+) and high seas, we were about 3 hours late to San Juan, arriving just at sunset. An announcement was made, and an apology made, both by the captain in his announcement, and with a card in our staterooms. We found that a sincere gesture. We also found the captain to be very engaging and charismatic, with a great sense of humor...just what Stuart the cruise director needs! We spent a nice day at the beach and shopping in St. Thomas, a bit of the same in St. Maarten, and took a brief walk in St. Kitts, not our favorite island from previous visits. Disembarkation was easy as well. Overall, we had a great family vacation and enjoyed being together in such beautiful weather in a wonderful location. Celebrity enhanced that experience in many ways, and detracted in others, as mentioned above. So, will we return to Celebrity? Before this trip, I would have answered affirmatively. Now, I'm not that sure. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We had a roll call with Cruise Critic where several families decided to get together in Galveston the on December 17, 2011 for a lot of family fun at the Moody Gardens and an evening at Tortugas Mexican Restaurant. That was the start of a ... Read More
We had a roll call with Cruise Critic where several families decided to get together in Galveston the on December 17, 2011 for a lot of family fun at the Moody Gardens and an evening at Tortugas Mexican Restaurant. That was the start of a terrific vacation at sea. On Sunday we boarded the Magic where Carnival was welcoming us to their fun ship. Embarkation was quick with no problems - about 20 minutes from arrival at the terminal to the lido deck for a brunch. Stateroom check-in was ahead of schedule and about 1230 we had our room and ready to explore the spa deck. The cloud nine spa is just plain fantastic. We tried the hot steam room and quickly decided it was for the more seasoned folks but the cooler steam room, the thermal suites and the thalosoltherapy pool were great. Every evening after supper we would enjoy the spa for about an hour before winding down for the night. The ropes course and the miniature golf were fun. We did not try the tall waterslides as we were not that adventurous. I had fun with the ping pong table all though there was no tournament scheduled as there are on all the other Carnival ships we have been on before. The Chef's table was great. I don't know how to describe the seven course meal served in the galley and they would not allow us to take photos down there but if I were given the opportunity to go again my answer would be a resounding where do I sign up! Our room steward (Anatoli) was one of the greatest. He always remembered our names and had the towel animals and chocolates in place when we wished to turn in. The complimentary laundry service Carnival offers platinum guest is also mighty handy when you run short on time in one day. If there was a negative during the cruise it would have to be the tendering in Belize. The ship captain had us where we were supposed to be at the scheduled time but the tenders were running an hour and a half behind. We have priority tendering but because we booked our reservation through Carnival we had to stay with our group and almost missed our scheduled activity for the day. I checked with the Carnival manager Lazlo and he said Carnival is doing the best they can with what is offered. We were about an hour late leaving Belize while we had to wait for the last cave tubing tour to get back to the ship. We missed our port of call in Mahogany Bay due to high winds but we were able to dock at Coxen Hole. Those who booked their shore excursions through Carnival were refunded missed excursions. We were able to make our excursion with no problem. Cozumel was crowded on Christmas Eve as there were a lot of ships in port. The helmet dive and Atlantis Submarine were great excursions in Cozumel. We closed out Christmas Day with the Steakhouse. We could not have had a better ending to our cruise then to have chosen the steakhouse. The food was far superior then in the main dining room and the desserts were enormous. During the cruise we had a new program called "my time dinning". You go to the dinning room when you want to eat and they give you a beeper. You are then free to go about your normal activities until it sounds. The wait was usually about 15 to 30 minutes which gave us time to get pictures put into the kiosk for developing the following day so our scrapbooks would be kept up to date. This worked out very well for us each evening and we would use this opportunity again for dinning. The casino was new and exciting. The one drawback to the casino is that between the hours of 2 am and 4 am you are allowed to play the slot machines but there is no way for you to cash out your winnings as they close the cashiers cage two hours early. This caught me somewhat by surprise as I have never happened on this type of situation in a casino before. You can place your winnings on your sign and sail card and wait till the evening of the following day when the casino reopens to cash out. Overall we had a wonderful experience and we can't wait to go again. Thank you Carnival for providing a fun ship experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We went on a three day Christmas cruise filled with families and first time cruisers. This was our first cruise in nine years. We booked a porthole room which was adequate and the same size as the ocean view rooms. There is always a lot to ... Read More
We went on a three day Christmas cruise filled with families and first time cruisers. This was our first cruise in nine years. We booked a porthole room which was adequate and the same size as the ocean view rooms. There is always a lot to do and the "people watching' on the pool deck is always interesting.Shore excursion to Atlantis was OK.. too much money for what it was,, take a taxi and go yourself. The food was good, but my memory was that the food used to be a little more gourmet, but it was tasty and well presented. I felt the 6:00 seating was a little rushed for dinner. The late seating which we previously had was better paced between courses. One dining room had assigned seating which we had, and it appeared to have better organization. The other dining room was open seating and at times there were lines. Also the open seating dining room served breakfast and lunch. They appeared short staffed for the pampering I expected, with coffee cups not being refilled without asking. Some of the entrees for breakfast were like McDonald's food.. like the hash brown potatoes... but we learned what to order. At lunch we complained that our server had not approached us in over 15 minutes and the host took our order directly. buffet was good with long lines. The music was loud and we prefer quiet soft background lounge music, and we found a bar that met our needs. The shows were spectacular with the best dancing I have seen on a cruise.. Broadway caliber.The acoustics were too loud and need to be altered for the size of the room. The debarkation had some glitches in that we were not at the usual terminal.there was along wait to get our bags and we stood in line for a while, although we were traveling with VIP guests that were supposed to be the first to leave the ship. I assume they have ironed out the issues in operations. All in all, we had a great time, and I recommend the cruise, but don't expect perfection.. This is a nice, short cruise at moderate prices and good value, and you will like it with that attitude and approach. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
EMBARKATION: Easy peasy. We got there around 2pm - carried on our luggage. No fuss, no lines. Went straight to our room. Unpacked a little, grabbed our Fun Times and toured the ship. FOOD: Ate at the poolside grill - food was a huge ... Read More
EMBARKATION: Easy peasy. We got there around 2pm - carried on our luggage. No fuss, no lines. Went straight to our room. Unpacked a little, grabbed our Fun Times and toured the ship. FOOD: Ate at the poolside grill - food was a huge improvement from the Carnival Paradise. I'm talking 200%. Granted my cruise experience is limited to Carnival but this was my 2nd cruise and the Paradise had awful food. The Inspiration had a huge assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables. I ate pretty healthy all weekend. Our dining assignment was the Mardi Gras room. We switched tables the 1st night and ended up with a great group. I skipped Elegant night in lieu of sleeping off a bad hangover. Ate all of our meals in the dining room, everything was fresh and carefully prepared. Service was professional and efficient. It was such a different cruising experience from our first cruise. PASSENGERS: Since this was a Christmas cruise not everyone was here for Christmas. I'd say 80% of the passengers were Indian and Chinese. It made for a very pleasant time on board because many of the Indian women dressed so beautifully for Elegant night. Their saris and beaded dresses were exquisite. One thing I noticed is Indian and Chinese men do not step aside for women like American men. I found myself in an elevator with Indian or Chinese men and having a bit of an awkward tussle to get out of the doors first. Oh well, lesson learned. Again, lines were 4-5 people deep. The entire ship was decorated inside with festive wreaths and Christmas trees. Very tasteful. Nothing offensive. The Inspiration had a Channukah celebration too - there were quite a few Jewish families on board as well. Nice mix. Didn't see too many Americans but it worked out really good because there were so many families on board, the entire ship was asleep by like 9 am. SHORE EXCURSIONS: We did La Bufadora. We paid for it in Mexico and got stuck on a really ghetto tour bus. The driver "Yoshiro" was NOT Asian, he was a US citizen that married a Mexican chick and moved to Ensenada. He was latino but... born in LA. It showed. He was very distant and L-O-S-T. We stopped at the fricking gas station to get gas! Somehow we ended up on a bus where 9 of the 15 passengers wanted to go horseback riding AND to La Bufadora. It sucked. He couldn't figure out if he wanted to drive the Blowhole people up the hill first or drop off the horseback people, drive up the hill and come back and drive again. We ended up dropping off the horse riders and then going to the Blowhole and getting an extra hour up there. I got ripped off at Habana Banana AGAIN and wound up running back to the tour bus, 15 minutes late. Agh. CARNIVAL INSPIRATION CREW: Great people! Always cheerful, always friendly. At least on Main deck they did! Everything was clean, clean, clean. I smelled bleach all the time. I love that. The Empress deck midship was kinda sewer smelly though. I will continue to book Main deck mid or aft. There is no more tipping the stewards or maitre 'd. No aggressive sales pitches for photos or drink. It was nice. ENTERTAINMENT: The main shows were really good. The comedy was bland, both adult and family. The comedians couldn't find their rhythm because I truly believe the audience didn't "get" their jokes. Wrong demographics and it drained their energy. I left both shows about 10 minutes into their acts because it just was not funny. The clubs weren't fun either because there didn't seem to be enough young adults on board. Again, 80% of the ship was in bed by 9pm. The casinos were jumping though. Bingo was toned down, so were the raffles. I don't know why but everyone seemed really relaxed and the energy was at a very low decibel. Aside from the Christmas decorations on board (and my door) it didn't feel like Christmas. There was tasteful Christmas music playing all over that I really enjoyed. OVERALL: I had a great time. I am disappointed that the Inspiration only goes to Ensenada and not Cabo but I'm definitely going to book again in 2012. :) Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
My family all got together for a 7 night cruise with Holland America on the Eurodam. There were 5 of us and two rooms. I had been on a Royal Caribbean cruise in September that was my first cruise and was AMAZING! I was told that Holland ... Read More
My family all got together for a 7 night cruise with Holland America on the Eurodam. There were 5 of us and two rooms. I had been on a Royal Caribbean cruise in September that was my first cruise and was AMAZING! I was told that Holland America was a notch above Royal Caribbean. NOT! The first night in our room my aunt pulled back her sheets and found a bug. Not sure if it was a bed bug or not we called housekeeping to come check it out. They took the bug to determine whether or not it was a bed bug and while waiting my aunt pulled back her sheets so they could put fresh linens on the bed and she found pee stains. Not only was it on the first mattress pad but apparently they didn't remove the wet plastic mattress cover and just put the wool mattress protectors over the wet spot. It soaked the first blanket and they added a second blanket. It was the most disgusting thing I've ever seen! They came in and removed the mattress and gave her a new one but we could not get that out of our minds. The room was filthy dirty. It had not been dusted in weeks. My son slept on the sleeper sofa and we found dust on the top of the sofa so thick that it balled up on your fingers. Under the TV, on top of the coat hangers and also the head board of the other two beds. My aunt confronted the steward the next day and asked him to thoroughly clean the room. When we got back into the room nothing had been done. They had not even vacuumed. The bathtub was never cleaned the entire week. The same grime and dirt spots remained all week. I heard our stewart tell his helper one morning as he opened another cabin door "no vacuum needed." He hadn't even walked in the room. We purposly left little things on the floor to see if they would be vacuumed and they never were the entire week. The itinary for the ship is boring! Even my 90 and 91 year old grandparents who are active and like 70 year olds complained there was nothing to do. The shows were good but you can only see so many musicals over a weeks time. EVERYTHING shuts down at 11 PM on this ship. There is no midnight snacks, no late entertainment and only a few bars remain open. Unless you gamble there is not a single thing to do after 11. They even put away all the pool chairs so you can't sit on the pool deck. On the last night there is NO last night event for the adults. The ship rocks and rolls with the ocean everyday. We had a day or two of rough weather but even on the calm days you felt like you were walking drunk on the ship. Overall, I was very disapointed in the cleanliness, the entertainment, the buffet food was nothing more than going to Luby's Cafeteria and picking the same thing to eat everyday. I don't think I would take another Holland America cruise even if it was given to me as a free cruise. I would go back to Royal Caribbean for sure! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011

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