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

2,163 Holiday Cruise Reviews

Just returned from the Christmas Cruise on Carnival Legend today. It is early in the morning (6:30 AM) and my thoughts are fresh. This was our second family Holiday cruise and our sixth overall and the consensus was that we would do it ... Read More
Just returned from the Christmas Cruise on Carnival Legend today. It is early in the morning (6:30 AM) and my thoughts are fresh. This was our second family Holiday cruise and our sixth overall and the consensus was that we would do it again but we have some criticisms compared to previous cruises. I have two older sons; 23 and 25 and we all stayed in an extended balcony stateroom. It was comfortable and roomy enough. Money saved here was spent on excursions. We booked our own excursions in Jamaica saving almost twice the cost of similar Carnival excursions. Once docked in Jamaica, we went out to negotiate with tour guides early morning while our sons slept. We found a fabulous guide that took us to all the highlights of the island and also to Dunn River Falls, a must see. Walking up this textbook Jamaican waterfall was worth the entire tour. We booked another excursion with Carnival for Grand Cayman Island to snorkel the reef and play with the stingrays. The stingrays are a must see. However, Don Foster's tour to the reef was a disappointment. Our boat driver, Wayne from South Africa was rude, lazy and essentially non-accomodating to the guests. The coral garden reef was anything but that, colorless with few fish. We found out later that Cayman Island reef is beautiful and colorful but our boat captain didn't want to take us to that area as it was a bit further out. Imagine our dismay when this was a long awaited and planned part of our cruise to see this beautiful reef and paying twice as much through the Carnival excursion than booking this privately and then to have a boat driver that didn't go the distance. This was a huge disappointment. Do Not book with the ship. Several families googled excursions for this port ahead of time and had better experiences both in quality and cost. Other disappointments: The Cruise director, Wee Jimmy needs to go. He is obnoxious and rude to the guests. My two boys were even appalled at how often he disrespected guests to get a laugh. The drinks are watered down and extremely expensive. Carnival doesn't want you to bring alcohol on board to encourage buying their alcoholic beverages. What they actually encourage is ways for people to sneak alcohol on board to bypass the poor quality and quantity of drinks. Also while the food is still good, it is often cold, dry and there is less variety than in the past. However you still cannot beat the service. While my review includes several negative comments, we still had a great time. But then again I believe I would enjoy any cruise that offered a chance to get away from Christmas decorating, buying, wrapping, cooking and baking and cleaning. I was able to truly concentrate on the important things; celebrating family and life. Carnival did help to make that happen. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Travel to Port of Embarkation: We took a local taxi service to the port and found them to be just fine. Unfortunately, the van we were in broke down on the way to the port. Nevertheless, the taxi service had another van there within 5 ... Read More
Travel to Port of Embarkation: We took a local taxi service to the port and found them to be just fine. Unfortunately, the van we were in broke down on the way to the port. Nevertheless, the taxi service had another van there within 5 minutes and off we went to the port. Hotel Info: Stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites at the blue lagoon area. A decent hotel that was clean and met our needs. Pool area was small but relaxing. Breakfast buffet was terrible. Embarkation: We were VIPs with Carnival Liberty. Carnival's Miami embarkation process sucked! Last time we sailed Carnival Glory out of Fort Lauderdale and the process was very smooth and professional. In Miami, being a VIP customer gets you to the gang way quicker than non-VIP customers, but not on board ship any quicker. There was no VIP line to board the ship so we waited another 30 minutes to gain ship access. The Carnival employees at the VIP station were rather uninformative about the process. They just asked for your VIP paperwork and told you to wait. There were ~ 30 people told the same as we were told and had no idea when they would get their sail pass. So after a few minutes I went up and ask the ladies at the counter. They said they would call you over when you paper work came to the top of the stack. They just yelled your name out and if you didn't hear your name, you could just be sitting there for hours. I told everyone you have to listen for your name to be called. Nobody was happy with this experience. Essentially, all VIPs who were boarding the same time we did (noon) were herded like cattle. Stateroom: We had an ocean suite and were happy with the size, cleanliness and comfort of the room. Stewards were very good. We tipped them extra for such a good job. Ship Info: Ship is large, clean, with many elevators. One drawback is there no one floor that goes completely around the ship. Carnival's design lacks this one amenity which many cruisers like. Dining: Buffet food was at best subpar! The food during lunch and dinner had little flavor and many times was overcooked. The breakfast buffet had an omelet and eggs station which was a plus, but you better get there early or the wait was terrible. The dining room was average. Service was slow one night and fast the next. Absolutely no consistency in service. Food was average in the dining room. Nothing special. Our table was stuck in the middle of the service lines where all the waiters and customers traveled to either serve or dine. Guy's burgers, the Mexican cantina, red frogs and other funship 2.0 changes were good, but nothing special. Pizza was below average and served as gut filler for a desperate moment of hunger. We went to Harry's steakhouse twice and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. Service, food and atmosphere were superb, but keep in mind you are paying extra $30 per person for this amenity! The head chef at Harry's steakhouse came by and spoke with us. We gave him high accolades for the food and dining experience. We joked how the main dining room should provide such excellent service. He just laughed, knowing they cannot meet the demand! Activities: Plenty of activities but plan ahead because it's a free-for-all and first come first serve. Its football season and obviously there are a lot of games to be played. Well, Carnival blocked all the games in your room, pushing you to the only one sports bar to view the games. OK, so Carnival must have thought that was a great marketing ploy for bar revenue, however the sports bar was so small it only could take on 150 people or so. They wouldn't even show a game on the big screen at the seaside theater, where the population of sports enthusiast could quadruple, along with their bar revenue. This was disappointing to say the least. Staff & Service: Overall staff was attentive and courteous. Bar staff mixed good drinks and were very nice folks, but they pushed expensive drinks all the time. Entertainment: We did see a show in the main theater and was enjoyed it very much! The comedian was very entertaining as well. Shore excursions: We did not do any shore excursions, but enjoyed walking the cities at each port in our own way and time. Disembarkation: Debarkation went much better. Hey they got your money and now they want you off the ship! Summary: Overall, it was a very nice vacation because we made it a fun and worthwhile experience. Carnival delivered well on only a few things (rooms and stewards and an extra fee dining experience). The people on the ship were great, but obviously there were a few knuckleheads who lack common courtesy. We explored some really nice stops (San Juan, St. Thomas and Grand Turk), met some real nice people! However, we are taking Carnival off our list of cruise lines. You get what you pay for with Carnival and we have truly experienced better service, food, entertainment, and an overall cruising on other cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Sorry for the long review We usually sail on Carnival, but went with Holland American this time because of the itinerary and deal. Brooke, our travel agent, knows exactly what we like and do not like but took a chance on booking us a ... Read More
Sorry for the long review We usually sail on Carnival, but went with Holland American this time because of the itinerary and deal. Brooke, our travel agent, knows exactly what we like and do not like but took a chance on booking us a VH guaranteed room at a great price. A week before the cruse we were assigned a room and it turned out to be a VB room aft. What a great room. Holland American has a great selection of items that you can pre-purchase. From drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) to on board credit, coffee cards, soda cards and even casino chips. This was great in pre cruise preparations. We were able to purchase our soda and coffee cards along with a picture package and not have to worry about having it on our final bill. We didn't use all of our speciality coffee card and the balance was credited to out final bill. this was sooooo nice, The cards wre waiting in our stateroom as soon as we arrived. Amazing! We traveled the day before the cruise and stayed at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott North. The hotel was easy to find, right off 95 and 15 minutes from the port. We had a vey nice room with a king sized bed. Plenty of restaurants within driving distance and the staff were very helpful in providing directions to the local drug store and grocery store for last minute supplies. We had breakfast at the Moonlite dinner, just up the road from the hotel and went to the port. Not knowing how long it would take we left about 9:30 and arrived at the Park and Go in fifteen minutes. The Staff at Park and go were extremely helpful and courteous. I reserved the parking on line and received a coupon for $8.99 per night. Out of the car, on their bus and 5 minutes to the ship. Check in was easy because we were one of the first people their. They began boarding and we were in our room at 11:30am. No kidding, the room was available at 11:30, it was great. Being used to Carnival, I was in awe of the Westerdam. It was beautiful and elegant. Everyone was friendly with a hello or good morning and they were all eager to help. My fellow Cruise Critics were helpful when they said that it would not be stuffy. It wasn't. Lido resturant was excellant, like a fine dinning area. The first 48 hours the staff will serve you. this is to help cut down on cases of Norovirus. I understand and completely agree. It only slows down the service a little. You get your food and grab a seat, the waiters come by and will bring water, coffee, tea, iced tea. Another waitress will come by to see if you want someting from the bar, soda or other selections. Tables are always kept clean. It was excellant. Christmas Eve dinner was formal and was great. All the dinners were great. Smart casual was the dress, polo shirt and pants. Formal was suit and tie. For the people who didn't want to dress up the Lido restaurant was great and nicely made up. Not like what you would see on Carnival. Holland American does "On Deck for the Cure". A 5k walk to support brest cance research. A good crowd took time out of thier day and did the walk, it was great. There were also religious services almost daily. We had midnight mass on Christmas Eve and a Christmas Day mass. It was really a nice way to help celebrate the holiday. All I can say is Amazing!!!. The ship, the crew, the atmosphere everything AMAZING! Even departure, We filled out our intentions the first few days onboard and received out directions the night before. You are assigned a 15 minute window and a colored tag. It made it go so smooth. We were assigned 8:30 -- 8:45, got down to the gangway at 8:30, the Park and Go bus was there as soon as we stepped out of the terminal and we were on I595 going home by 9:00. Amazing cruise! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Our family of four decided to spend Christmas on a three day cruise this year. Our son would have just turned 21 and it would be the first time he could enjoy a DOD! Although it was quite expensive we booked a Grand Suite as our Christmas ... Read More
Our family of four decided to spend Christmas on a three day cruise this year. Our son would have just turned 21 and it would be the first time he could enjoy a DOD! Although it was quite expensive we booked a Grand Suite as our Christmas present to the family. About a week or two prior to our cruise I was contacted by Carnival and asked if we would like to upgrade to the Owners Suite after some discussion we went for it, after all it was Christmas and it might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. We arrived at the port early, who can wait to get on the ship? Because the owners suites aren't on all of the ships the VIP area was having trouble printing our key cards. After several attempt the agent we were working with escorted us onto the ship and made sure the keys were printed and that we set. She was very pleasant and went out of her way to help us. Just what I have come to expect from Carnival. Once we got on the ship we went to our suite and were blown away. It was so much more than we had expected. We had a seating area with a couch that made into a double bed and chairs that made into a single bed, this made the kids happy since they wouldn't need to share a bed. The bed room was also quite large with a flat screen T.V. and a recliner as well as a large bed. There was a walk-in closet with plenty of hangers, two sinks in the vanity area and a jacuzzi tub and toilet in a separate room, and lots of power outlets!!! We were very happy we had splurged for this special cruise. Mark our steward was very pleasant and efficient making sure we had everything we needed. We had lunch from the deli and then spent sometime wandering the ship. We had chosen the anytime dinning for this cruise, it would be our first experience with anytime dinning. The first night our waiter introduced himself to us and was friendly and helpful and the bar service was good although the food selections were disappointing as were the portions. The next morning we decided to eat on the Lido deck, our son had been looking forward to the omelet station. We then got ready and headed into Ensenada where did a little shopping, had a few drinks and some lunch then headed back to the ship. That night was formal night, so we all got ready and headed down to the dinning room. Unfortunately the service wasn't what it had been the previous night I have no idea what our servers name was, or who was supposed to be her assistant waiter. I felt like I was more of a responsibility than I was a guest, although I could see she was quite busy, that isn't an excuse for rudeness. I was disappointed in the food also, if the lobsters get any smaller they will need to call them Langostinos! My daughter and I went to the 10:00 pm comedy show which we enjoyed, she went on to the casino and I went back to our room. Christmas morning after seeing what Santa had brought we had breakfast in the dinning room. Once again we received the wonderful service we are used to on Carnival our waiter and his assistant both introduced themselves wishing us a Merry Christmas. We had a full table that morning and really enjoyed our fellow guests and our servers. We spent Christmas day relaxing and enjoying our family, my daughter and I went to the sauna. We decided to order room service for lunch, after calling in the order we waited well over an hour before I called to see what the problem was, it was another 20 minutes before our food arrived. It would have been nice if when I placed our order they had mentioned that they were backed up and it was going to take along time. Dinner that night was even worse than the previous night, the service was slow, the portions were small and the quality was poor, my husbands Filet was over cooked and not even the size of a hockey puck. The only bright spot in our evening was our hostess,she was friendly and made us feel welcome as we waited for our food we watched as she sat other guest making them feel just as welcome has she had made us. Our last night on the ship was spent packing our bags and cashing out our players bank, the kids went back to the comedy club and my DH and I relaxed in the cabin, we spent a lot more time in our cabin since it was so nice. The next morning we once again went to the Dining room for breakfast, this time we were seated at a table by ourselves, the dining room wasn't overly busy but the service was worse than ever. After waiting over 20 minutes for our orange juice, which was sitting at the serves counter, my husband requested it again and was told by the server that we were the fourth table and he would get to us. I waited tables for years and often had up to six tables at a time, there is no excuse for taking that long to pour juice, and you never talk back to a guest, you apologize and do what the ask. It may not sound like it but I am a loyal Carnival Cruiser, it is the only cruise line I have ever cruised with. One of the reasons I love Carnival is that they have such wonderful crews. Even this cruise, other than in the dinning room, everyone was great, very friendly and helpful. I don't know if it was the anytime dining that was the problem or what but I was very disappointed in the wait staff. As for the food, over the years it seems to have gone down hill the portions and the quality aren't what they used to be. Not only do they need to have new items but they need to be quality items. We tried the alligator fritters, there was meat in them? they were more like hush puppies. I am afraid that if Carnival doesn't improve the quality of the food in the dining rooms it will start to loose guests. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
after a long flight we arrived in Miami airport. after 30 mins we were through customs control and on our way to our Fort Lauderdale overnight hotel. we had the most amazing meal at a steakhouse with friends. the next day we were in the ... Read More
after a long flight we arrived in Miami airport. after 30 mins we were through customs control and on our way to our Fort Lauderdale overnight hotel. we had the most amazing meal at a steakhouse with friends. the next day we were in the hotel foyer at the allotted time but we did not board our bus for another 90mins due to a football team staying in the hotel. we had to wait until their buses left the hotel before our buses were allowed into the hotel forecoat. our bus driver was very funny and informative re Fort Lauderdale. check in went smoothly. it took approx 30min from arriving to boarding the ship. our cabin was not ready so we had a wee wander around the ship after we had lunch in the buffet. our suitcases arrived at our cabin about 2 hours after embarking, the quickest yet. our cabin was an inside on deck 8. the cabin was kept clean by our cabin steward and assistants. they carried out their duties quietly and efficiently. nothing was too much bother. all areas on the Constellation were kept spotless by the hard working staff who were always cheery no matter what time of day or night. the food in the MDR was as usual very good. we were on anytime dining which we enjoyed. we shared our table with our friends, and sometimes with more people. everyone we shared our table with were so very nice. we ate in Ocean liners twice. the feed and service was excellent as usual. our friends ate in Ocean liners and Tuscan grill. they enjoyed both meals enormously the entertainment was Celebrity's usual.........so so. the singers and dancers shows were very good. the comedians were just OK. Sue Dennings, the entertainment director, one woman show was excellent, as was the staff and passengers talent show. some of the staff in the show were far better than the entertainers that Celebrity had booked and paid for. we had heard mixed reviews about Perry Grant who is based in Michaels club in Constellation. we did not go to see him in Michaels club but did go to his show in the theatre. we are glad that we did, yes he is not a great singer but he is a great showman and entertainer. he kept us entertained from the start to the end of his show. entertainment in the bars were not that great. I enjoyed all of our port of calls but eventually all the islands blended into one. we took either a taxi or bus to take us on a tour of the islands who we shared with our friends. however if in Granada and wanting a taxi you can get one at the port but remember to ask for Ambrose. he was very informative and courteous taxi driver. Ambrose did not want payment for our island tour until the tour ended. we asked to be dropped off in the town instead of the dock but wish we hadn't as the town not very nice. we only spent 30mins in town. by the time we arrived in our last port, St Thomas, I was fed up looking at jewellery shops. ok, ok I know I am not a shopper. Barbados was our least favourite island. we did not take a taxi but just went into town which did not impress us too much. we took the ships tour of the rainforest in St. Lucia. what a great tour. it felt cool and very quiet in the rainforest. I also managed to have a bushwhacker cocktail in St. Marteen........loved it. we did see some light rain in our first few days and very heavy in Barbados, but the average temp was still approx 85-90 degrees with high humidity. a wee bit too hot and humid for me. the first leg of our BA flight home was delayed for about an hour. at the end of our flight we were asked to fill in a form informing us that we had been incontact with a dangerous infectious disease!! there were two people with the D&V bug ?noro virus. at least one of them had been on the Constellation. I feel that the infected people should not have been allowed on the flight as their illness put every pax at risk. poor show on both BA and the people with the illness. it showed little regard for everyone else on the flight. all in all I loved my cruise but don't think I will be rushing back to the Caribbean in the near future. the only bad bit was the flight home fiasco. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Boarding the ship was a breeze and access to our stateroom was almost immediate. The room was beautiful and spacious. Getting lunch after we boarded was more difficult. The Windjamer buffet is simply not big enough for everyone who ... Read More
Boarding the ship was a breeze and access to our stateroom was almost immediate. The room was beautiful and spacious. Getting lunch after we boarded was more difficult. The Windjamer buffet is simply not big enough for everyone who wants to eat there. So, we had to search out other options. While there are several other "free" places to grab a lunch, these are quick food places--pizza or sandwiches and have very limited seating. Getting oriented to the ship and finding your way around was very easy because of the interactive screens on each floor. You simply "touch" for directions to a place or to find out what is going on. The technological perks on the ship were quite amazing. With 6,000+ on board it is easy to see why RCI incorporates the technology. The elevators do not seem to adequately serve the amount of people on board. Over 80% of the time we waited for more than 2 minutes for an elevator. There are plenty of free activities on board--ice skating, zip line, etc. and despite the number on board, the wait time was very short or non-existent for the activities. There also seemed to be plenty of deck chairs for everyone. But all that glitters is not gold. The food in the main dining hall was just awful. And I mean terrible on every night. We joked that RCI must want to force people to eat at the "for fee" places. I can understand if I was the only one complaining about the food--but all four of us in our party thought it was super awful. The starters are ok, but the main courses...well I hope you enjoy a sandwich late at night. We found ourselves roaming late at night for snacks because we were still hungry. Overall, the menu selection for dinner and breakfast was limited. The options simply were not there. The bad food includes the desserts and breakfast. I had biscuits and gravy one morning and couldn't stomach it. I can't emphasize how bad the food really was. The push to sell alcoholic beverages was non-stop. There is always someone with a tray of made drinks trying to sell one to you. And, for every single purchase (including alcoholic drinks) you have to sign a receipt. Naturally, that receipt prompts you for an additional tip. It gets irritating have to sign for every drink you buy. For the major entertainment, you have to have reservations. Most of the shows were full by the time we boarded. So, thank goodness I had made reservations two months prior to leaving. But the shows themselves were good and the costumes and scenery great. Overall, the ship is very pretty and many times I just felt like I was at the mall. Some of the neighborhoods RCI highlights, like Central Park, and the Boardwalk are really not as big as you think they are. My biggest complaint is that RCI sacrificed ocean views in order to fit in everything. Really, you have to be outside on the top floors in the pool/activities area in order to see the water. All sorts of people were on board and it's a very international crowd but it was also "Scooter Nation". Even Ken Rush, the cruise director, joked about the number of people who were on those scooters zipping around the ship. The area outside of the dining room looks like a scooter parking lot! I have been on lines that are known for a more mature crowd, but this was so much more that I would have expected. How many times did my toes get squashed? We paid more for this cruise than for any other we have been on. Yet, no nice soap/shampoo in the bath, no dressing robes in your room, fresh orange juice will cost you $2.25 (the other line gives it to you for free), the pastries are fresh on Monday but by Thursday they are all just hard, and then there's a few places that you can't even enter unless you are a "diamond" member. And, then there's the public spectacle of handing out the tips at the end of the cruise--just plain uncomfortable. The spa was also a huge disappointment. My husband and I were eager to book the room with the heated lounge chairs and steam rooms for the week. We had done that with another cruise line and loved it. Yet, this one was so disappointing. Only four or five lounges. No, hot tub/whirlpool and no views whatsoever. We felt so claustrophobic on the tour. It is not worth the money--other cruise lines have the lounges, steam rooms AND a hot tub with gorgeous views. Alas, as I have mentioned, there just are any views in the common areas and very limited in the dining room or Windjammer. Kids will love all the cute animals running around and teens will love the activities. I missed the perks that make this a truly relaxing, luxurious cruise. The service was fantastic and I loved our room, but I will not be sailing on the Oasis class ships again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was our sixth cruise as a family, and were all excited and had high hopes for the Carnival Magic. For the most part, the ship met our expectations. First we start with EMBARKATION Very quick and handled well by the staff. We ... Read More
This was our sixth cruise as a family, and were all excited and had high hopes for the Carnival Magic. For the most part, the ship met our expectations. First we start with EMBARKATION Very quick and handled well by the staff. We went from curbside to the ship in just under 20 minutes at around 12:30, but our cabin wasn't ready until 1:30. It definitely is a head-scratcher why Carnival chose Galveston as the Magic's homeport because of its lack of proximity to Caribbean ports, but nevertheless, embarkation was a breeze. Overall rating: A- ACTIVITIES ON BOARD On the top decks of the ship, activities were at a plenty. The SkyCourse was a blast, but not quite as fun as I had expected. The whole SportsSqaure idea was great, but very childish and only 1 ping-pong table for 4,000 people? Really?? The outside workout areas were a great idea, and I did use them quite often. Basketball court was fun, and the movie screen was a great way to pass the hours with great sound quality in comparison to Princess' MUTS. The waterpark, I must say, was amazingly fun, and the kids loved the spray area. The Lanai was great, with a bbq during days at sea that consisted of burgers and hot dogs that were actually quite good. Inside the ship though, during the day, the amount of activities was disappointingly low. Not much to do inside during the day, not much to do outside at night. Overall rating: B- FOOD The food was without a doubt INCREDIBLE. Great food in the dining room, the Cucina de Capitano, RedFrog, and amazing food in the Steakhouse. Breakfast was mediocre, but we had room service mostly. I have no complaints in regards to the food. Overall rating: A SERVICE Service was also amazing.....Everyone said hi in the hallway, and our waiting staff was always friendly and at our service. Just great. Overall rating: A+ SPA All I'm going to say is......most relaxing experience of my life. Overall rating: A+ ROOM Our balcony room was nice, but we had traveled in suites on our previous 2 cruises, included a loft suite on Oasis, so it seemed small. It did it's job, and having a balcony to me is a necessity. Beds were very comfortable, and there was enough room for the three of us in the room. Key word is enough. Four people in one balcony room would result in one person keeping some of their clothes in the luggage. Overall rating: B Costa Maya Easy on and off, great Chacchoben ruins, and I HIGHLY recommend booking with Native choice and doing the Ruins and Kayaking with lunch and the BACALAR LAGOON. Belize Not easy on and off, and actually had to miss our zip lining because of it. Cave tubing and ATVING was a blast, but even though cave-tubing.com was more chaotic then booking with Carnival, it was MUCH cheaper and I would recommend it. Roatan Personal favorite port, and we horseback rode on the beach with a visit to West End. If you go to Roatan, you NEED to go to West End. Great restaurants, beach and amazing snorkeling as I found out. Cozumel You can never go wrong with Cozumel. We sailed here on the America's Cup tour, and it was a blast. I highly recommend this tour and is actually a great workout. Nick Nacks Bathrooms far and wide. Serenity next to waterpark? Um, really? Low ceilings-over 6'4 you're going to be ducking inside. Not easy to get around the ship. Must pass through casino on deck 5. Ship would completely shut down after 1:30-nothing to do at all afterwards. Overall thoughts on the ship: A great ship with a lack of activities to do inside during the day and outside at night, but great food and service make it a ship I wouldn't mind cruising with again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
My family of 4 (two adults, 15 and 12 year old) and my in-laws from Texas just came back from a holiday cruise on the Mariner of the Sea out of Galveston (sail date Dec 18th - 26th). Overall, the vacation was okay, but it was seriously ... Read More
My family of 4 (two adults, 15 and 12 year old) and my in-laws from Texas just came back from a holiday cruise on the Mariner of the Sea out of Galveston (sail date Dec 18th - 26th). Overall, the vacation was okay, but it was seriously marred by poor management of the ship and crew. The trouble started when we tried to board on Dec 18th. As mentioned in a previous post, the ship had a high rate of flu-like disease in the previous sailing. Unbeknown to us, this virus onboard meant that the ship needed to thoroughly cleaned before boarding could start with new passengers. Boarding was supposed to be between noon and 4 pm. Our group of 6 arrived at the terminal at 1:30 pm and stood in a line that didn't move for over 2 hours! During this time, we got ZERO information from RC personnel, and only had some hearsay from the luggage porters about the virus cleaning situation. As we moved forward in the line after waiting, we realized that everyone was being loaded onto buses and being taken to the Galveston Convention Center for check-in. Fortunately, my in-laws are RC Platinum members so we averted a very long line at the convention center and checked in quickly. We then were given a bad cold sack lunch (it was around 4:30 pm at the time), and a number for a return bus. Our bus number was 48 and they were currently only loading bus 14, so we paid $20 to take a cab back to the ship and were able to board without further delay. The poor communication didn't stop there though. There was no posted or circulated updates to the ship's schedule for the first day. This lack of communication meant that the mandatory lifeboat drill happened right as our dinner was being served during our dinner. There was no update posted or distributed about revised activities and the kids clubs were closed but no notices were posted (the staff cleaning inside simply shooed us away). Regarding the rest of the cruise, I would best characterize it as "mediocre". The food in the main dining room and buffets were mediocre - consistently under-seasoned and rather dull. The food from Chops was outstanding, if you want to pay the $30 cover charge (or $15 for the filet entree in the main dining room). Other reviewers seemed to like Portofino's but I found the food to be on par with a chain restaurant like Macaroni Grill or Carraba's. The waitstaff was inconsistent - some were excellent and attentive, other times orders took exceedingly long or you got your beverage after you finished your meals. Especially annoying were the bar waiters and deck beverage staff who ignored or delayed requests for sodas on the pre-paid cards. When asking for a soda with "light ice" I consistently got a glass only 2/3 full and once I even saw the bartender dilute the drink with soda water. Another disappointment was the lack of holiday decorations and holiday related activities on this cruise. A few years ago we sailed New Year's on a Disney Cruise and found the environment to be much more festive and celebratory. On the Mariner, I felt that it was mostly business as usual. There was very few holiday related activities - a few religious services, a holiday trivia game and 15 minutes of Christmas Caroling. Decorations were pretty much confines to the Promenade area only. They did have present from Santa, where kids under 18 were given a wrapped present containing a small backpack or blanket. Also, there was a nice touch on Christmas morning when they had eggnog available. But again illustrative of poor communication with their staff, when we arrived in the dining room and asked for eggnog, the waitstaff (mostly from India) had no idea what eggnog was. Then just a few minutes later someone comes in with a trayful of the stuff. The onboard entertainers were also very disappointing, most of them with a target audience of 65+. You would think that RC would realize that a holiday cruise would have a lot of families and kids on board and adjust accordingly. The disembarkation process almost as equally chaotic and poorly communicated as the boarding. We were made to gather all of our luggage before joining a ill defined line for Immigration and Customs clearance. Evidently, the line moved half as fast if you toted your own luggage rather than use their porter service. We were supposed to disembark at 9:15 am, but did not clear customs until 11:15 am. When I asked several of the security officers in the terminal if this was common, they all admitted that this was an RC phenomenon, and did not happen with other lines out of Galveston. Overall the experience very much soured us against Royal Caribbean and we will be looking for another alternative for spring break. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
First, a little background. DH and are in our early 40s and have sailed about 7 or 8 times before, previously on RCCL and Princess. We did the 2 night cruise to "nowhere" on Disney's Wonder in February 2011, and it was a ... Read More
First, a little background. DH and are in our early 40s and have sailed about 7 or 8 times before, previously on RCCL and Princess. We did the 2 night cruise to "nowhere" on Disney's Wonder in February 2011, and it was a disaster. BUT, we had this special 8n holiday cruise to the MR booked already (some 2 years ago) and we decided to keep the reservation and see what a full cruise would be like on the Wonder. Our 2 DD's are almost 12 and 7 and have been on 3 other cruises with us. First the great things about the ship: it's smaller, which means much less walking from place to place. Our suite was located forward of the midship elevators and there is a reason why the most expensive suites are there. The forward elevators are the quietest and have the best access to the theater, the lounges and other frequently visited places on the ship. The midship elevators are very busy but take you just about everywhere including the kids clubs, the theater, the shops, and Tritons. Midship is also the most stable on the ship as far as movement, which was key for my younger DD, who sometimes gets a little seasick in rough waters. Our cabin, the Walt Disney suite, was beautiful in its appearance with whitewashed wood everywhere. Tons of storage space too. The layout was very clever with a separate bedroom for the kids (sleeps 4 with 2 pull downs) and a dining room that easily sits 6, plus a living room area that we hung out in a lot. The "reading room" has 2 huge chairs to sit in, which I used often to stare out the huge bay windows into the deep blue sea. There is a large murphy bed in that room too that the stewart lowered for my older DD every night. Then there is the master bedroom and bathroom, which are not huge but very comfortable. It's the best use of about 1200 square feet I have ever seen, and I think you can easily fit 6 people into the room at least without being on top of eachother. The suite had the wonderful gift of having free Palo delivered to your room every night if you wished. Our room stewart (the same one each night we ordered) was superb and set up a white linen tablecloth and all the dishes, etc about 30 minutes before our food was to be delivered. Sometimes we ordered in as a 3 course meal, sometimes we had them deliver everything all at once if we were in a hurry to do something. It was the best part of the whole cruise. We also had brunch at Palo (not free and not in our room) and it was FABULOUS. The views from the top deck are to die for. I would recommend brunch over dinner, actually! The seafood spread was amazing and absolutely delicious. Worth every penny. The entertainment on the ship, for both adults and kids, was incredible. We are talking broadway quality shows for Disney such at Toy Story (basically the first movie acted out), Dreams (princesses) and Golden Mickeys. The talent and sheer imagination that goes into these shows is beyond any other cruise line's. The kids and adults all enjoyed the entertainmnet. We also had a wonderful comedian/ventrilaquist on board as well as a magician. They made stops in the kids clubs before going to perform in the huge theater, so the children got a more intimate "show" each time. At night, around 9:30, the houseband (Speakerbox) played a set for about 45 minutes, followed by 45 minutes of either adult comedy or 80s theme night or 70s name that tune or whatever. Then Speakerbox came on and played again till around midnight. It was a wonderful way for adults to enjoy the evening after late seating dinner. The weather and ports were great (Cabo, Cabo, PV and Manzanillo) and we did all Disney excursions for the convenience (and safety). The family enjoyed every single one. In Cabo, we did the dolphin swim on D1 and a snorkeling excursion to Santa Maria on D2. The waters were cold so be prepared (we had 1/2 wetsuits). In PV we did the Paradise Beach getaway and it was the best excursion we've done in the MR ever (in 5 cruises!). In Manzanillo, Elephant Rock snorkeling was a huge hit with totally calm and warm waters, lots of fish and great coral. Now the bad. Disney does NOTHING for adult entertainment during the day, either in port or during sea days. On the Navigator it may look like there are "lots" of activities but they are all sales pitches (DVC presentations, how to get a flatter stomach by eating a lot (buy spa products), how to relieve all your pain through acupuncture (at the spa), etc,). OR, you can pay money and do just about any alcohol tasting. Beer tasting, margarita tasting, wine tasting, tequilla tasting, etc etc. They all cost money and they all try to sell you stuff. There would be about 3 of these alcohol tasting events on the navigator every day! Otherwise, there were literally NO events of any kind. No Bingo, no trivia, no educational talks about animation like I had hoped, nothing. Princess and RCCL do a way better job in daytime activities for adults! The kids clubs were "Open House" during port hours too. You know what that means? That means a parent must stay with the child at all times as it's all unsupervised. So basically you get to use the club to babysit your children. Talk about cheap! THis would go on for almost 6 hours a day! Most other cruise lines still offer some childcare if you don't want to take your kid to port or just need a break. Can't believe Disney does this. Our cabin was also unbelievably loud. Talk about snap, crack and pop constantly, and we had the most calm seas I have ever sailed on the Pacific! I think here the Wonder really shows her age. Soundproofing is aweful and you can hear people walking above you and in the hallways all conversations filter right in. Just be prepared and bring earplugs. The noise in the Disney suite with all that wood was just crazy! We called it the Rice Crispy Suite. SPeaking of motion, this ship is also I think a bit dated when it comes to stabilizers. Even in the completely calm waters we sailed in all 8 days, the ship swayed back and forth. Now I love being at sea and I don't mind, but quite a few others remarked on the constant swaying sideways and uncomfortable. More modern ships we've been on have somehow managed to eliminated this sway, even in more turbulent waters. Our family didn't mind but if this is your first cruise, consider it. Last gripe (and a big one) is one I had on the 2n cruise too. The food is just not good! Think of your local sit down chain restaurant (Red Robin, Denny's, etc) and then take it down 2 notches. That's the food in the main dining rooms. Tritons somehow was better than AP and PC but really, all 3 were bad! Everything is preplated so unless you ask for special things 24h ahead, they literally cannot give you a plate of steamed veggies on the side or a sundae without nuts! They cannot make anything special in the kitchen at the time of your meal. You have to review the menu ahead of time and ask for it the day before! Good grief. Now Palo is of course and exception and having the Walt suite saved the day for us because 4 nights out of the 8 we ate in our room and avoided the dining rooms entirely. We had awesome, made to order food there and it was all included in the pricy suite! Only the top 3 suites allow this though, not all, so check which they are. Also, the buffet has the most limited hours of any ship I have ever been on. It closed every day at 2pm. At 2:05, the serving spoons disappear from the buffet so even if you are wanting seconds, you are out of luck. One day we returned from an excursion at around 1:50 and about 100+ people raced up to the buffet to try to catch lunch. They literally turned away about 1/2 of the guests, saying it was too late and they couldn't eat! Unebelievable. So then your only choice is lousy, soggy and fattening hamburgers or hotdogs at the grill or soggy wraps that the kids just don't eat. Or, you can order room service, which serves the same hamburgers/hotdogs/wraps, just to your room! You basically are out of luck until your sit down mealtime at 5:30 or 8:30. Try explaining that to your starved preteen after a long day of swimming at the pool! I have literally never sailed on a ship with less buffet hours in my life. Very cheap of Disney to not have a 5-8pm time for the buffet or something like that. Most cruise lines go from 6am to midnight, if not 24 hours! So while we had a great time on this holiday cruise thanks to the wonderful activities, shows and excursions, we just can't see sailing Disney again. The prices are outrageous, almost 2x that of Princess and almost 3x that of Carnival, with simply not enough things going for the ship or the food or the activities to justify this cost. If Disney truly was so far above and beyond that of other lines, I could understand paying more. But they really aren't. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
I couldn't wait to get on the boat. It had been many years since my last cruise, and the fact that I was so close I could see the captain in the bridge from the shore made me all the more annoyed that I couldn't get on the boat ... Read More
I couldn't wait to get on the boat. It had been many years since my last cruise, and the fact that I was so close I could see the captain in the bridge from the shore made me all the more annoyed that I couldn't get on the boat for another three hours. My family and I had chosen to go on a cruise over Christmas with the recent passing of our father. We decided Christmas at home would be too much to handle, and we decided to get away for the holidays to distract us. We arrived in Galveston Texas on Sunday, December 18th to board the Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas en route to the Western Caribbean. That excitement was soon quelled when we were told there was a Norovirus outbreak on the ship during the cruise just before ours. We were told we had to wait an addition three hours before boarding. I wanted so desperately to get angry and annoyed, but RC was doing their job. They had to clean our boat so we wouldn't get sick. They shuttled us all to a convention center where we could register for the cruise, and provided us with sack lunches. Ham sandwich with chips and an apple, or vegetarian. There were some scattered sodas, but overall the appearance was awful and lacked professionalism. I'm sure it was the best they could gather in such short notice, but I feel like there is a plan arranged for scenarios like this. Either way it was a mess, and there were countless annoyed and angry customers. Once on the boat, the annoyance seemed to disappear. RC has a beautiful ship with the Mariner of the Seas. It's truly a spectacular ship, and fun to walk through. I was impressed with all the boat had to offer, and the ship itself was the highlight of the cruise from RC's side. The ports are in their own category. The first thing I noticed about the ship was the abundance of alcohol. I've heard cruises are like going to Vegas on the sea. If you don't gamble and you don't drink, it's probably not the best experience. I would have to agree. I don't drink or gamble, and constantly felt like an outsider. There was a "compass" set out for each day's activities, and I was pleased with the number of activities that could occupy my time since drinking wasn't an option. I quickly observed that the majority of activities were geared toward the teens in their own three floors of the boat specifically for them, or "name that 70's tune" and other older generation games. Being in my late 20's, I felt a little left out. Next there's the food. I must say that even though I had a great time with my family the food was a HUGE disappointment. There were three places to eat that were included in the purchase of the cruise: The Cafe Promenade, The Windjammer Cafe, and the main dining room. I was constantly disappointed by all three. The Cafe Promenade was open 24/7 and had a great assortment of sandwiches and desserts, but everything was quite average tasting. Expected for a mass-produced all-night cafe. The Windjammer was the buffet-style dining area where you can go and eat as you please. I had breakfast there once and never went back. The food was so terrible there I never ate there again. It was truly remarkable. People like to eat on a cruise and have comfort food, and so far I was 0-2 with my eating options. Lastly is the main dining room. The courses were average at best with a few winners, but overall I LOST two pounds for the duration of the cruise because I didn't want to eat. I was terribly upset at how bad the food was. The staff was very pleasant and kind--always there to greet you and assist, but there was a huge language barrier. I didn't meet a single waiter who spoke fluent English, and I had the hardest time finding someone who could help a family member order vegan and gluten free. They tried so hard, and were so great to give so much effort, but the language barrier was ultimately too much to handle and my family member couldn't eat a whole meal a lot of times. Our stateroom attendant didn't speak much of any English, and it seemed almost comical at times that we couldn't communicate with a majority of the staff on the boat. My brothers and I are sports fans and were so excited to learn there was a sports bar on board. Unfortunately, RC's idea of a sports bar is just another bar with three TVs that are turned to a sports channel. We were cruising over the NBA's opening weekend with several other NCAA college football bowl games and the ship didn't carry any of them. We didn't see any sports except for brief recaps on the ESPN Caribbean channel. My feelings on this are as follows: If your ship is full of 88% North Americans why on EARTH would you not carry American ESPN channels? That was also very disappointing. Overall, the ship was great. The delay in departure meant we had to speed up to account for lost time, so the ship was going quite fast the first few days. That meant a lot more wind, and it made it uncomfortable to stay on the outer deck. Like I said earlier, the ship was the highlight of this cruise. Not the food or staff or anything else. The ship itself was marvelous. If you like to drink and you don't mind a hefty bar tab, and you don't mind eating EXTREMELY average to below average food, this may be a great cruise for you. I, on the other hand, didn't enjoy paying $1,200 to eat terrible food and read my book while others got slobbering drunk. I can do that for free at home. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Pre-cruise Hotel was Fairfield Inn and Suites-Tampa Fairgrounds and Casino. It was very clean and a perfect choice for a pre or post cruise stay. It had free breakfast, free shuttle to and from the cruise terminal and other nearby points ... Read More
Pre-cruise Hotel was Fairfield Inn and Suites-Tampa Fairgrounds and Casino. It was very clean and a perfect choice for a pre or post cruise stay. It had free breakfast, free shuttle to and from the cruise terminal and other nearby points (cruise terminal was about 15 minutes away). Make sure to sign up for a shuttle time when you check in (we were on the 11 AM shuttle). It was a very quiet location and the staff was wonderful. If you want lots of stuff around the hotel to do though, this location was not the one for that. We drove to dinner at Maggiano's Italian Restaurant at the Westshore Mall. Had a short wait to sit on the patio and had wonderful food! Embarkation--We got to the terminal at about 11:15. The porters were helpful and surprisingly non-aggressive. The terminal staff was very nice. An older gentleman working outside the terminal doors saw us in the regular line with our 3 year old son and let us go in the VIP line to get in the building. Once we got in, they were basically doing open boarding on the ship. Minus a short delay due to a difficulty with the computer scanning my passport, we got through in lightning speed. Fastest time ever...start to finish, it took a grand total of 25 minutes. Not sure if it was the Christmas spirit or what, but everyone from staff to passengers were incredibly kind and friendly. First day--walked on and had a quick bite of lunch. My husband and I had Chinese, which was very good. We checked out the ship a bit and headed to see if our cabin was ready, and it was (at 1:15). We were in cabin 5179. It is an obstructed view balcony. We paid less for it that it cost for an oceanview. If you want a good deal, it's a good cabin. If you look down, you see a lifeboat. If you look out, you see water. It's important if you book one of these to choose the right cabin though. The first 3-4 lifeboats come up much higher and would obstruct your view more. We would definitely book this cabin again for a 2nd cruise in one year (or maybe even our summer cruise if the other balcony cabins were too high). Something unusual for us at the beginning of the cruise was how cool the temperature was. We are so used to cruising in summer that the cool temps made shorts feel a little chilly and nobody was swimming (checked the water out with my toe and it was ICE cold). A neat new thing we had never experienced was that they had complementary glasses of champagne available and you could pretty much have as many as you wanted. It was a very nice touch. I entered the spa raffle with no success. We went to the Camp Carnival orientation meeting. Next we did Welcome Aboard trivia and won our first ship on a stick. We went up to the Sun Deck just in time to see us passing under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge which is a sight not to be missed. This was our first time doing that at night and it was very pretty with the bridge all lit up. We went back down and got sushi (which is always great) and played Holiday Trivia and won yet another ship on a stick. Next we got dressed and went to dinner. We had a table for 4 which was perfect with our 3YO. Our headwaiter's name was Win from Myanmar. We had cream of tomato soup, chicken tenders, and a lettuce wedge for appetizers and sweet and sour shrimp for our main course followed by black Forrest cake and crème br'lée for desert. The little guy had fruit, Mac and cheese, and carrots with orange sherbet. The food was tasty but nothing outstanding. I would say that summed up our overall reaction to the dining room food. Okay, but not spectacular. And we were not huge fans of the new menu. Some nights it was tough to pick something you really wanted. After dinner, we went to the Welcome Aboard show for a couple of minutes and decided to turn in for the night. We had our customary towel animal and chocolates left by our cabin steward Saimon. Overall throughout the cruise, we found him to do a great job but he wasn't as personable as most stewards we have had before. Key West---We started the day with breakfast. It was standard buffet fare. The omelet station, as always, was our favorite. We took the little guy to Camp Carnival and went to spend some time in the Serenity area, which had been added since our last time on the Legend. It is truly one of Carnival's best ideas. We had booked the City View Hop on Hop Off trolley through Carnival. Our tickets had us meet in one of the lounges at 10:30. The ship wasn't even scheduled to dock until 11:00. Not sure why we had to be there quite so early but I guess there was some reason. They had all Carnival tours meet in that lounge. Passengers getting off the ship on their own had to go into the main lounge and get a trolley ticket. They could not leave until all the Carnival tours had left...so one bonus for booking through Carnival. We got on the trolley at about 11:15. There were 8 stops and you could hop off at any of them you liked. The trolleys supposedly ran every fifteen minutes, but twice during the day we waited more like 25 and then saw two come virtually back to back. We got off the trolley three times. Once to do some walking/shopping/browsing on Duval Street, one to take a picture of the southern most point in the continental US, and once to stop at Kermit's Key Lime Shop. Duval Street was quite busy...lots of shops and even more bars. I am sure it would be nuts at night. The southernmost point was a little anticlimactic...too many people waiting to take their picture in a very small space. We just decided to snap a quick pic without us in it so we could keep going. The stop at Kermit's was well worth it. Lots of yummy stuff to taste, and the key lime pie was very good. The key lime pie dipped in chocolate was a nice twist. My hubby was very excited that he got his picture taken with Kermit, who we had seen on the Food Network. He was such a nice guy. Overall, the trolley was a great way to get an overview of the island. All in all, we took about 3 hours on the excursion. The island itself was very nice...beautiful landscaping, neat architecture, and lots to do it seemed. Definitely worth a return visit. On a side note, it was VERY windy. The Legend and the Valor were both import. The Holland America Ryndam was also supposed to dock, but had to cancel because they could not dock in the high winds. Upon returning to the ship, we grabbed a bite of lunch and went back to our cabin for a nap. We woke up in time to catch sail away. It was a great one. You could see folks starting to party at seaside bars, lots of sailboats on the water, and the last remains of a beautiful sunset. We caught a family friendly comedy show by Diane Ford (who I would say was moderately funny) and then went to the Motown show featuring Marcus Anthony in the Follies Lounge before dinner. He is fabulous and helps the audience have a great time. Dinner was good as usual. Again, good, but not spectacular. My husband had seafood pasta with tomato cream sauce and prosciutto ruffles for starters, I had French Onion soup and a field green salad, and our son had his nightly mixed fruit. For main course, my husband had the jerked pork which is one of his favorites. He mentioned it wasn't as spicy as normal. I had the short ribs which were very tasty...though I thought they pretty much tasted like pot roast. Both of our meals came with fried rice (which was not great) and some type of fried eggplant (which was very good). Our son had a hot dog, French fries, and carrots. For desert, I had warm chocolate melting cake, which was amazing as usual. My husband had cheesecake and our son had ice cream as usual. After dinner we headed back to the cabin, watched a little TV and turned in for the night. Sea Day #1---We began the day with a typical buffet breakfast. Let me pause here and say that they have the Lido deck food options figured out better on the Spirit class ships than on Conquest class ships. There is just never a very lengthy line. We sailed the Freedom this summer at full capacity and the Legend was at capacity and the difference in wait times on the Lido deck was very noticeable. After breakfast we took the little guy to Camp Carnival and we proceeded to head for a hot tub. We went to Serenity and found the hot tub had a sign on it that said Temporarily Out of Order (had previously said chlorination in progress). Seeing no clamshells available, we went to the spa and used the hot tub in there since the other two on Lido were pretty full. We went next to the cooking demo in the steakhouse, where they made spinach and mushroom salad, beef stroganoff, and cheesecake with berry sauce. It was all very good. The microphone kept going out during the demo so it wasn't very helpful as a demo (but we got recipes to take home). After picking the little guy up from Camp Carnival we went for lunch and got him back for a nap. During nap time, I went to the Murder Mystery in the Follies Lounge (which I never followed up with) followed by Bingo. It was cash craze bingo, and you got two cash craze cards or each bingo card you bought. I wound up winning $5 on a cash craze card so it wasn't a total loss. I hung around at the shopping talk for a bit (which was the usual unveiled attempt to promote the stores Carnival partners with) then met up with my husband for tea. This time it was in the dining room. It is a nice few minutes that many don't even know is available. My husband was disappointed because they ran out of his favorite chicken salad sandwiches before he got one. The chocolate tart and scones were particularly yummy! After tea we did a little shopping in the stores and then went back to the cabin to get ready for dinner. We went to do some pictures before the show and found that virtually all the photographers were on break during this time. Poor planning on Carnival's part IMO...the late dining folks who want to do the show would probably like to do pictures then. Fortunately we found a couple taking pictures and got some taken before going to the show. The show was Jazz Hot. This was the 3rd time we had seen the show. In general, the show was good. We are both musicians so we are probably critical of things most wouldn't be. The costuming was great and the dancing was good. The orchestra was pretty good as well. The singers had hit and miss moments, particularly missing when all four of them were singing together. Also, the sound crew seemed to be a little off this cruise. During this show and the Motown show, there were sound problems. Nevertheless, for cruise ship entertainment the show was pretty standard fair. I'm sure most folks probably thought it was just great. We got one more set of pictures taken and then went to dinner. It was the first formal night, so of course lobster and shrimp were the highlights (which is what my husband and I both had for our main Course). We had alligator fritters (which were very mushy inside), stuffed mushrooms, and spaghetti carbonara as starters. For desert it was ice cream and cherries jubilee (which was basically ice cream with cherry sauce). The waiters did the first entrainment, and Win was great at getting lots of the guests up to dance. After dinner, it was back to the cabin for an early night so we would be rested for Grand Turk. Grand Turk---we got up and put on swimsuits since Grand Turk was going to be a beach day. Hubby noticed a ship near the island that appeared to be repeatedly changing directions...and as we found out later, it was. Just as we were about to head to breakfast the captain came on to make an announcement that the ship we had seen had tried twice to dock and had aborted its approach twice due to high winds. It was trying again so we were going to be delayed at best (in order to wait and see if the winds would die down) and might have to skip the port in the worst case scenario. We turned on the channel that shows conditions and location of the ship and saw the winds were 35-40mph. Needless to say we were not optimistic about making the port. As soon as we got up to breakfast, the captain got back on to say that we were going to have to miss the port in interest of our safety and the safety of the crew and ship. We were bummed, needless to say. Wee Jimmy (the CD) came on to say we would be updated with information as it came in and new activities available throughout the day. We saw on the TV by 2 hours later, we had already been refunded $14 and some change each for the port tax since we did not dock. At this point, we were becoming concerned this might not be the last port we missed, especially since Grand Cayman is often missed due to high winds. After about 2 hours Wee Jimmy came on to give the schedule for some of the added events for the day and said a new Fun Times was being printed and would be delivered to each stateroom. They added movies in the Firebird Lounge all afternoon, a half price 10 game bingo, and a matinee show featuring the Motown guy and the two comedians who had been on board (all of whom were supposed to be getting off the ship in Grand Turk). With our son in Camp Carnival, I went back tot he hot tub in the gym and watched some TV in the cabin with my husband. We picked up the little guy and got him lunch and a quick nap. After dropping him back at Camp Carnival (which he absolutely loves) we went to Bingo and the matinee. After picking our son back up, we went and grabbed some sushi and then killed some time walking around the Promenade deck. We went back to the cabin to try to get our son some more nap because they were showing Polar Express in Follies at 10 PM. Next we got ready and headed to dinner. This was a menu we did not remember from previous cruises, and it was kind of hit or miss. I got pea soup and a mixed green salad for starters. I would definitely not do the pea soup again. My husband and son did fruit as starters and it was very good. My husband had blackened tilapia and a burger for his main course and liked them both. I got a strip steak which was pretty good, especially for mass cooked beef. I ordered it medium rare, and it was cooked correctly. The potatoes on the side were just okay. We both had white chocolate bread pudding for desert and it was wonderful! After dinner we went to Follies and caught the end of the Marriage Show, which was hilarious and then waited for Polar Express to start. They were already about 10-15 minutes behind and then it became apparent they were having technical difficulties. Let me say again, we were not impressed with the tech crew in Follies on this crew. Wee Jimmy came out and kept us company and did a Q&A while we waited. We both agreed he is our favorite cruise director of all the ones we have had. He told us he had worked for Carnival for 12 years and said that he had only missed a port a dozen or so times. He was extra bummed about missing Grand Turk because he had never been there. After waiting 20-25 minutes, my son and husband were both falling asleep, so we gave up and came back to the cabin. It was disappointing to miss Grand Turk, but understandable because the wind was just crazy. The crew seemed to do everything they could to make the day enjoyable though, and as far as we could tell, most guests were like us, disappointed but understanding. I am sure there were those fussing a lot, but I think they were in the minority. We went to bed hoping the next day would bring better weather, less wind, and calmer seas. Sea Day #2 (well, actually 3) ---we woke up well rested and got ready and went to breakfast. The weather and seas were a totally different picture from the last two days. The seas were calm, winds only about 7mph. There was bright sun and it was HOT! After breakfast, we dropped our son off at Camp Carnival and my husband and I put on swimsuits and headed up to Serenity. Of course, every chair of every kind was taken, so we put our legs in the hot tub, which was finally working. After a few minutes, we braved sticking our feet in the pool and then even wound up sitting in the shallow water around the sides of the pool. The pool was very popular, and the slide was open for the first time. You could tell everyone was excited about the great weather. It was so hot we wound up heading back to the cabin and chilling on the balcony in the shade for a while. After picking up our son from Camp Carnival, we got him into his swim trunks and headed back up top for some much awaited swim time for him. After that it was back up for lunch, where they featured French food (previous days had featured Italian, American, and Caribbean). After lunch was bingo (yet again unsuccessful), nap, and then we got ready for the past guest reception. The past guest reception was packed. We were having trouble finding seats and one of the entrainment staff showed us to the front, where there were several left. The canapés and drinks were similar to what had been served in years past, though new to the party for us was rum punch, and it was a nice addition. It did seem that the area where we were sitting was having a little trouble getting served, particularly with drinks, but that was partly because the staff would get waved down by someone else before they could get to us. We just kind of went with the flow, but others around us were a bit testy. Some folks nearby were just flat out greedy. We watched a guy get about five or six drinks at a time for himself. It was like people forgot it was a gesture of thanks and just went crazy. The band played some dance tunes and they did a drawing for some champagne and a free dinner at the steakhouse. They also sold the win a cruise raffle tickets at 20 for $10, a rate which would only be available at the reception. After the reception, we killed a little time, and hubby won $40 in the casino. We skipped the show, The Big Easy because it's really not our favorite and we had seen it the past 3 cruises. Then it was on to dinner. For starters we had fruit, Tom ka gai soup (which was better than I had gotten this past summer), and spinach salad with bacon, portabello mushrooms, and blue cheese dressing (very good). For main course we both had beef stroganoff, which was good and was a very large portion. For desert, we both had bitter and blanc, which was also very good (though interesting they would serve it the night after they served white chocolate bread pudding). After dinner it was back to the cabin for an early night since the next day would be a busy one as we called on the port of Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Ocho Rios---We started the morning as usual with breakfast on the Lido deck. Then it was back to the cabin to don swimsuits. We had prebooked the Cobaya Gardens and Dunns River Falls excursion. We have often booked excursions independently, but the little guy has been free with Carnival (until he turns four in April), so we have enjoyed the simplicity and reliability of doing Carnival excursions. I am sure we will go back to mixing in independent excursions on our next cruise. We got off the ship and preceded down to the end of the pier (a decent little walk) to meet up with our tour operator. After a brief wait in a covered holding area, we were shown to our bus. The bus was pretty nice and air conditioned...better than many we had been in on similar tours. We were taken first to Cobaya Gardens, where we had a guide who walked us around and told us about many of the native plants. The gardens were very nice, with easy walkways and several pretty water features. We also saw a chameleon, green lizard, and a hummingbird that had a very long tail. After walking around the gardens, we were allowed to browse the shops for about 10 minutes, which was about 5 minutes too long. Then we were walked down to a nice waterfall at the gardens and took some pictures. Our guide made sure we knew it was okay to tip before taking us back to the bus. Our bus went from there to the Taj Mahal shopping center, where we would have thirty minutes to shop. Our guide showed us the best shop to sample blue mountain coffee, rums, etc. and where we would be able to bargain for prices. We went in there and sampled some coffee with rum creak (very strong coffee) and a couple of different rums. We wound up buying coffee for family members, some jerk seasoning, and a T-shirt for my husband. Next it was on to the highlight of the day, Dunns River Falls. When we got there, our tour guide took us inside the park where we were given our park admission wristbands. Once we went in the gates, she took those who were actually climbing the falls to where they would meet their climbing guide. We had one hour and fifteen minutes at the falls and they said it would take forty five minutes to climb. We opted against it, especially with the little guy. She then took the rest of us and introduced us to another guy who kept saying "I'm Mike, alright? I'm gonna take care of you and show you lots of places. Just make sure at the end you take care of me." He did take us down the stairs along the falls and showed us one landing where we could get in the water (about thigh deep for me) and take good pictures of the falls. The little guy could have stayed there the whole time, but we wondered what might be down closer to the bottom. We went to another spot where you could get in, but we didn't like it quite as much. It was a little rockier. We went on to see the beach, but when we saw it opted to go back up to the first landing. The beach looked okay for a small strip of beach, but we just wanted to be somewhere we could really enjoy the beauty of the falls. We gave Mike a couple of bucks, despite his aggressiveness, and told him we were going back up. Not sure why we really needed anyone to take us to the landings or the beach. We would have found them easily. The falls were simply amazing. The water was cold at first, but felt great once you got used to it. We were glad we didn't attempt to climb with our son but definitely will plan to do it if we go back when he is a little bigger. We had to pass through several craft/souvenir stands on our way to the bus. I will say that lots of folks in Jamaica were fairly aggressive trying to sell you something or constantly trying to get a tip (and I understand that's what they depend on for a living). That being said, we didn't have a problem after telling them no. When we got back up to the bus, we had to wait about fifteen minutes past our scheduled departure time for a family who had been late at every stop all day. Our tour guide had to actually go find them. It is amazing how unaware folks are sometimes. Once they finally got back on the bus, we went back to the dock where the ship was. We took a short walk over to Margaritaville so could get a shirt, since I am a diehard parrot head. After that, we got back on the ship, changed, and went back for lunch. After lunch, it was time for nap. My husband and I got up in time to watch sail away. I then got ready for the evening and headed to Bingo followed by the evening show. In the meantime, my husband took our son up to Lido for dinner and then to Camp Carnival since he hadn't been that day and because they were doing pirate themed activities...which is right up the little guy's alley. Bingo was a really small crowd. There were probably only twenty people playing. I was only one number away from Bingo when someone won. After Bingo was over, I went and grabbed sushi and waited for the show to start and watched for my husband, who was meeting me down in Follies. The show was called "The Physical Comedy of Dana Tison." It was basically a juggling act. He started strong and ended strong, but it got a little slow in the middle. Some of the juggling stuff he did at the beginning and end was unbelievable. We then headed to dinner and were quizzed by everyone there about where our son was. For starters that night we had fruit, a green bean salad with Roma tomatoes tossed in a vinaigrette dressing (not bad, but would have been even better had tomatoes been in season), the seafood sampler (which had smoked salmon, ahi tuna tartar, and shrimp), and escargots. It was a pretty nice night of starters. For the main course we both had grilled shrimp, which were cooked perfectly. Finally, for desert the hubby had warm chocolate melting cake and I had the amaretto cake. It was okay...cake was a little dry, but very chocolaty. I didn't detect very much almond flavor at all. After dinner, we picked our son up from Camp Carnival and took him up to Lido for an ice cream cone. Then it was back to cabin to get ready for bed. Grand Cayman---We got up and headed to Lido for breakfast then back to the cabin to change into swimsuit for the day's excursion. We had booked the Cayman Pirate Encounter excursion through Carnival. The tickets said catch a tender 45 minutes before the tour departure time of 10. We were a little puzzled as to why we had to go quite that early since it is a short tender ride at GC. Nevertheless, we got on a tender about 9:05. We were reminded that the tender doesn't leave until it is full, so there is some time to wait if you're the first on a tender. Once we tendered to port, we looked around for our tour sign and didn't see one, so we asked the CCL Shore Excursion rep and he said we wouldn't need to meet until 9:45. That left us 20-25 minutes to look around the shops n the terminal area. At 9:45 we found the sign for our excursion and waited until the whole group was assembled (which was about 16 or so). The tour rep led us on a short walk to the pirate ship (the Jolly Roger). We boarded and the crew began assuming their pirate personas. We were offered water, soda, fruit punch, or rum punch throughout the voyage. My husband and I had rum punch, which was so-so, but refreshing n the heat. They started by loading shells into the "cannon" and firing on the Legend in an effort to sink the ship. They told us we would be sailing for a bit before getting to our swim stop. In the mean time, they called all the kids together in the center of the ship. On our ship, there were only 4 kids. Our son was by far the youngest. The others were probably 9-13 or so. They did lots of "pirate talk" with them (never heard so many ARRRS! In all my life). They gave them brushes and had them swab the deck. Then they threw water on the deck and had them keep swabbing. While they were busy swabbing the deck, they started throwing buckets of water on them. After that, they asked the kids which of the parents was the mean parent, and they got them down near the kids (fortunately my husband got nominated). They had them to stand side by side in front of a pole in the center and tied them all together around the pole. Then they asked if they liked diamonds. All the mom's replied yes and my husband answered that his wife did. Next, one of the crew dipped ice and water out of a cooler and showed them that those were pirate diamonds. They then proceeded to throw the ice cold water all over them. It was funny, but at the same time a little surprising they would do that. They renamed them all "Mommy and Daddy Spankbottom" and made them all promise to buy the kids ice cream when we got off the ship. The kids all got a huge kick out of this. Soon, we were at our swimming spot where they tied the boat up and gave us all a life jacket to swim with. We could either get in the water via a ladder or by jumping off the side of the ship. Being a weenie, I opted for the ladder. The water was cold at first, but felt great after a couple of minutes. Our son loved it, except not being a fan of the salt water part. My husband did a couple of nice cannonballs off the side. About 20 minutes or so after we got in the water, one of the crew cautioned everyone that there were jellyfish in the water and we should be careful. I had no intention of getting stung, so we all got out. Pretty much everybody got out for a while, though some got back in about 20 minutes later. After a while we headed back to the dock. I can't say enough about how nice the crew was. One of them even gave his pirate skull cap to our son as a souvenir. I would highly recommend this excursion to anyone with kids, especially younger kids. But even adults would enjoy the sail out and swimming and free drinks. The whole excursion took about 2 hours. After getting off the pirate ship, we walked a short distance to buy Blackbeard rum cakes (our favorite in the Caribbean so far) and Big Black Dick rum (very good, and so far have only seen it in GC). We also picked up a pirate T-shirt for our son and we bought a GC Christmas ornament. Then it was back to the ship where we changed and took our son to Camp Carnival. I took a short nap because I had a killer sinus headache. I had actually had sinus and allergy problems for the past three days (first time that had ever happened on a cruise...not fun). After our son got back, we went up to Lido for lunch and then went back to the cabin. I read and worked on getting laundry done s we wouldn't go home with so many dirty clothes. It is $3 each to wash and dry. But for the second time, the dryer didn't thoroughly dry everything in ne round. So each load cost a total of $9 to get washed and dried. But I would be glad it was done when we got home. I then got ready to head to Bingo and later to the show. My husband and son were to meet me for the show. It was my lucky day....I was the only winner at $500 Bingo. My hubby and son were late coming down for the show. It was the Holiday Show and there was only one show time, so it was beyond packed. You couldn't even find a seat in the first level of the balcony. We heard and saw a little from the back and decided it wasn't worth it since we would have to leave early for dinner. I will say that it was a nice concept, but once again, there were sound problems and this show was obviously less comfortable for the orchestra and singers...there were some issues to say the least. For dinner, we had fruit, crab cakes, and a portabello mushroom salad (very good) for starters. I was very disappointed to see lobster bisque not on the new menu. For our main course, we had prime rib (not bad at all), fettuccini Alfredo with grilled chicken, and panko crusted shrimp. For desert, we had ice cream and Grand Marnier soufflé (just so so). Of course the waiters did their evening entertainment, inviting guest to join a conga line around the dining room. We have really grown to like our dining service team, Win, Marcellus, and Jennifer. They were all personable, particularly with our son, and learned our preferences and tendencies very well. After dinner, we went down to Guest Services to find out if we could go ahead and cash out my Bingo winnings. We have the Carnival Fun Points MasterCard, and it is to our benefit to actually leave a balance on our Sail and Sign account because any dollars spent with Carnival earn double points. They quickly gave us the $500 in cash and we were thrilled. We contemplated going from there to go watch Polar Express, which they were attempting to show again in Follies, but our son was very tired. So he and my husband headed to the cabin to get ready for bed. I went to the shops to do any last minute shopping on behalf of Santa and then joined them in the cabin. Sea Day #3 (well, actually #4) ---we got up and woke up our son so he could see what Santa and his "helper" Freddy had brought him. His stocking and gifts were actually out on the balcony. It was fun watching him look for them. He opened things and seemed genuinely pleased with what he got (which was generally small items, for obvious reasons). Santa did leave a note that he needed to check under the tree when we got home for a couple of things he couldn't get on the ship. Next we headed to Lido for breakfast and then back down to the cabin before taking our son to Camp Carnival for the morning. He thoroughly enjoyed every minute he spent there over the course of the cruise. They have really figured out how to entertain kids, particularly those of the 2-5 age group. While he was away at CC, my husband and I went to the Firebird Lounge for the future cruise travel talk. This is where the cruise loyalty expert explains the different ship classes, various itinerary options, cabin selection tips, etc. We have been to this talk before, so we had no need to go hear what we already knew. However, they have previously raffled off $50 in OBC at the end of the talk. This time...not so much. So we wasted 30 minutes, but hey, we had nowhere we needed to be. Next we went to the casino and blew $40 on slots and poker machines. I would say that we either broke even for the week or were down just a bit, but no major losses. My husband thinks they need more quarter slots and I wish they had more non-smoking stations. After casino time, we went to the Legends Cafe and did the "Rudolph Scavenger Race" which sent us all overt the ship looking for answers to questions like how many steps were on the see-through staircase leading up to the steakhouse. We won and captured our fourth ship on a stick and our 2nd medal. After that, we chilled in the cabin before picking up our son. We went from Camp Carnival to try to play mini golf since we had not yet made it up there. However, we learned that it was closed due to high winds (and it would be for the rest of the day). That did not go over well with our son, which triggered a mini-meltdown. That prompted us to head back to the cabin for an early nap. While he was napping I went to play 10 game Bingo. I figured lightning wouldn't strike twice...and it didn't... But I was one number away four times. After Bingo, I headed back up to the cabin and met my boys before heading up to a late lunch at the grill and deli. We missed the chocolate buffet, but we were both kinda in "been there, done that" mode on the chocolate buffet. While were at lunch, they were having caroling in the lobby and it was snowing. Yes, snowing. On Christmas Eve and again on Christmas they turned on snow machines between the lobby elevators around deck 7 and it snowed in the lobby. It was a really neat touch. They also had egg nog on the Lido deck all day on Christmas and many of the staff wore Santa hats. The general mood on the ship was definitely festive. After our late lunch, we killed a few minutes in the cabin before heading to the Fun Farewell in the Firebird Lounge. The band was playing dance tunes and one of the singers was performing with them. The free drinks flowed very freely at this party, a bit unlike the past guest reception. But then again, that is probably because there were only about 100 people there. Carnival does a pretty good job of hiding that event though. It is merely mentioned once in the Fun Times with no explanation of what it is and I don't recall it ever being mentioned in any announcements throughout the day. The drinks were the same basics as at the Past Guest reception (red and white wine, screwdrivers, whiskey sours, rum punch, etc) but it appeared folks were able to request some basic substitutions. So I gave it a try and asked a nice waiter for an amaretto sour and he brought me one with no problem. We met a couple from Kentucky who recognized our picture from Cruise Critic. We really enjoyed talking with them. In fact, we met several really nice folks we chatted with throughout this cruise. Call me crazy, but the general disposition of the cruisers was friendlier than the last couple we had taken (and maybe a few less kids??). Perhaps it was just the Christmas spirit? After Fun Farewell, we went up to the cabin and got our son ready for his last time in Camp Carnival. While he was there, we took a quick power nap and got ready for dinner. We picked up our son, turned in our Camp Carnival phone, and gave them a tip. He really enjoyed all his time there, and all the counselors couldn't have been nicer. For dinner, they had a Christmas Gala dinner. There weren't too many out of the ordinary items, but they did have some things like turkey and stuffing and a glazed ham choice. For starters, we got fruit, tempura shrimp, Christmas salad, and potato cheese soup. For main course, we both had grilled shrimp again (none of the other choices blew us away). For desert the boys had ice cream and I had the pumpkin and gingerbread cake (the only choice on the menu not offered every day). It was nice, but could have been more flavorful. One of the nicest things they did for Christmas was that night after dinner. The maitre'd said they appreciated us sharing our families with them while they were away from theirs on Christmas. Then several of the headwaters, representing various countries of the dining staff said Merry Christmas and/or Happy New Year to us in their native language. It was just a touching moment. We said our goodbyes to Win, Marcellus, and Jennifer and got some pictures of our son with them then said goodbye to the neighboring tables we had really enjoyed talking with over the course of the week. We had the best of both worlds in the dining room. We had our own table so moved at our own pace, but we were also close enough to other tables that we could enjoy their company as well. After dinner, my husband went to the Win a Free Cruise raffle while I took our son up to the room. Sadly, we didn't win the cruise. We had the first four numbers right, but the last two didn't match. But hey, I am perfectly happy with $500 at Bingo! Back in the cabin, we got everything packed up and put our luggage in the hall. We couldn't bare the thought of self assist with four suitcases, various carry on pieces, and a three year old. We got zone 14 tags, so we knew we would be in for a wait in the morning. After putting the luggage out, my husband went for one last go at the casino and for a last piece of pizza. Disembarkation---we got up to find that it was extremely foggy outside. You could barely see and the ship's horn blew from the time we got up until we were almost docked. We probably wound up docking about thirty minutes late. We went upstairs for our last breakfast on the ship. After we got done we went back down to the cabin, collected our things and went to wait for our turn to disembark. We went to the top part of the balcony in Follies to wait. Unfortunately after about twenty minutes, they kicked everyone out of the lounge, saying we couldn't wait in there. Not sure why...always have been able to on every other cruise we've been on. So we just waited by the elevators and stairs on the fourth floor till our number was called. From the time we docked until we got off the ship was about 2 hours. We swiftly collected our bags and passed through Customs. Once outside, we stopped to put our passports up. One of the port workers was very rude, yelling at my husband to keep moving. We were stopping for all of one minute, out of the traffic flow I might add. We went across the street to the parking garage to wait for the hotel shuttle. Unfortunately we got to watch it as it was leaving, already full of folks. So we wound up waiting 30-35 minutes for it to return. That was painfully long when you just got off the ship and have an eleven hour drive ahead of you. Once back to the hotel we moved our bags to the car and began the long journey home. We had a fabulous time. We really love the Legend. It is like our home away from home now. Some will probably not love the cruise as much as we did, but we just really enjoyed ourselves. We can't wait to go back aboard a Carnival Fun Ship! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
In early December we had our first transatlantic cruise on the Thomson Dream (02-12-11 to 18-12-11) to the Caribbean. We had a fantastic time, although we are aware that there were others on the ship who would not agree with us. There did ... Read More
In early December we had our first transatlantic cruise on the Thomson Dream (02-12-11 to 18-12-11) to the Caribbean. We had a fantastic time, although we are aware that there were others on the ship who would not agree with us. There did seem to be some serial moaners on the ship who were looking for issues to rival the problems the ship had on the 2010 transatlantic crossing. We had an outside plus cabin on deck 9 which was very good, plenty of room and a nice sized bathroom and clean. It also gave us good access to the ships amenities on all decks. As we are not ones for sunbathing much so we decided to have a pretty full itinerary of excursions when we reaches the Caribbean. These included swimming with dolphins, swimming with turtles, horse riding and snuba diving. The Excursions Team on board the Dream were excellent particularly Ruth and Adrian. We also found that getting a local taxi (not those at the port) was a great way to see the islands. These tend to be at a fraction of the price of the tours and you get out what you put in. Transatlantic sunsets and Caribbean sun rises are quite magnificent; this coupled with flying fish almost all crossing certainly and making new friends made it a most memorable holiday. The islands visited were all gems in themselves and each had unique character. The locals are exceptionally friendly (again some people will differ with this view) and will accept a polite no thank you if you don't want bothered. Just remember they rely on tourism. Our highlights are as follows (could go on and on for hours):- St. John's, Antigua (great if you want diamonds or sample the local brews. Horse riding through the surf!) Philipsburg, St. Maarten (two flags Dutch and French island tour very good) Road Town, Tortola, British virgin islands (Dolphin swim.........just excellent) Basseterre, St. Kitts (scenic railway was a great way to see a lot of the island, despite what the locals said) Portsmouth, Dominica (great rainforest, watch out for the snakes) Castries, St. Lucia (snuba madness and the views on Pigeon Island are just stunning) Kingstown, St. Vincent (dolphin and whale watch. A pod of 40 dolphins swimming beside us for 30mins) St. Georges, Grenada (taxi island tour with monkey encounter, cliff divers and local artist) Scarborough, Tobago (the glass bottom boat, Buccoo reef snorkelling and swimming in the Caribbean) Bridgetown, Barbados (swim with turtles, sail on a catamaran and rum, what a way to finish) The food on board was OK, I would not say spectacular and not as good as the Thomson Celebration food. We ate at the Orion Restaurant most nights as my wife has a gluten and diary free diet. The Celebration had a specific gluten free menu but the Dream does not. Once we explained this to the Restaurant staff everything was cooked specifically for her (a special thanks to Elmer, Hotif, Rey, Archie and Dion as without their help the holiday would not have been the same). The staff in general were excellent and very friendly, especially Monika and Fairy who worked extremely hard all hours of the day and night to make our experience all the better. The entertainment on board improved as the trip went along. This was the first time many of the artists had performed in front of the public as a group. The piano bar was great and there were a number of other activities from the gym to quizzes, lectures, guest speakers and demonstrations to keep one occupied. The Cruise Director Stephen Guy was excellent and had a presence on stage with a fantastic voice. The majority of the entertainment was based within the Medusa Lounge which did not have enough seating for the demand. There was a distinct feeling that the transatlantic cruise was being used to gear the ship up for the winter season in the Caribbean. Apart from the main entertainment show being disjointed there was far too much maintenance going on. Doors were being varnished, areas being painted, rust was being scrapped of deck 10 which meant that areas of deck 9, the main promenade deck were isolated and the hand rail along most of the port side of deck 9 was had a barrier preventing access for four days. The funnel spewed soot at regular intervals and this ended up on out clothes when we were at the stern; one gentleman had his breakfast spilt over him due to a large piece of soot debris hitting his tray. There was constant disinfecting of the ship due to the presence of norovirus (some people were quarantined after succumbing, however others failed to follow the ship's strict hygiene policy - deliberately). Our disappointment regarding this matter relates to the lack of information and honesty over the extent and whether the ship should have sailed or not from Tenerife. Our air conditioning and hot water failed for three days and the head of the customer services was rude and abrupt to both my wife and I regarding this. No hot water = poor hygiene on a contaminated ship. The only other gripe is that on two occasions our towels were not laundered and put back on the racks. There were not enough sun beds which resulted in the fanatics out at 05:30 each morning to claim their spot. When we did manage to get sun beds together we had to go for meals separately to avoid the circling vultures claiming the spoils. The last paragraph were the things that took the shine off the holiday a wee bit. We will go back to the Caribbean and will do a transatlantic cruise again but I think not on the Thomson Dream. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
My son and I have cruised 20+ times in the past and Celebrity has always been our favourite. WE are Elite members and have sailed on Solstice two years ago. At that time we had enjoyed our cruise very much and we were looking forward to ... Read More
My son and I have cruised 20+ times in the past and Celebrity has always been our favourite. WE are Elite members and have sailed on Solstice two years ago. At that time we had enjoyed our cruise very much and we were looking forward to have the same experience. Unfortunately this time the cruise did not turn out to be up to Celebrity standard. It seemed like I was on a totally different ship. Starting from below average food quality (both in the main dining room and upstairs buffet) and continuing with very poor entertainment. I can't believe that Solstice cruise director Stewart has worked for Celebrity for over 10 years and nobody fired him yet!!!! Overall, entertainment crew appeared to be not motivated, and often they looked like they didn't want to "be there". I saw the same shows two years ago and what a difference! As Elite members we took the backstage tour once again. I invited one of the ladies from our dining room table to join as as she was an artist. I bragged to her prior to the tour how exciting it was going to be and how much she is going to learn about show productions. And you have no idea how embarrassed I was after we took the tour! For first half hour we listened to cruise director Stewart how fabulous he was (and he wasn't even supposed to be there!) and after they just walked us through the back (it took literary 1 min) and sent us on our way... This brings me to the subject of consistency... Consistency with previous quality of food and service on Solstice as well as consistency of food and service on the current cruise. Every drink, every cup of coffee I ordered tasted different from each other. I really can't understand why. There was also a problem with consistency of information received from the crew. I had an issue with shore excursion stuff in relation with my extended stay excursion in Ft Lauderdale after disembarkation. When I went to shore excursion desk to inquire what exactly is involved in the excursion one lady told me that we get dropped off "somewhere in the city and it was my responsibility to take a taxi if I wanted to go to the beach". She became very argumentative to the point of being rude when I asked her to double check this info as the description of the excursion in the paper was totally different from what she was telling me. She also stated that the manager was unavailable to answer my questions. I then spoke to another shore excursion officer who told me that we in fact get dropped off at the beach (totally opposite from what the first officers told me). She was even be able to get the manager on the phone to confirm this information. And last but for sure not list.... My BIGGEST issue with this cruise. If I only read the reviews of past passengers that sailed on Solstice earlier the same month.... I would have known that the ship had to be thoroughly cleaned several times (in fact, there was a huge delay with embarkation early December) due to noro (or Norwalk) virus. NOBODY from the crew bothered to tell us that this problem existed. I actually remember that once when I sailed with another cruise line they sent out a letter prior to the sailing day notifying passengers about the virus. NOT THIS TIME. If you read this and you are about to sail on Solstice please, please, take the precautions!!!!! they for sure would not care! I always wash my hands, so does my son. We have not been sick in years. ON Christmas night, the night before disembarkation, my son fell very ill (I will spare you from the details, but I can tell you it was awful). I followed in the early morning hours as I obviously was in close contact taking care of him. In the morning both of us could not even move. And as you all know on the morning of disembarkation all they wanna do is to get rid of the passengers as soon as possible so they can start with the new ones. It is very hard to explain in words how you would feel if you had this virus, but all I can say that you just wanna die. Of course, you would not be able to think straight and the fever does not help at all. I knew we had to get out of the cabin, my son wasn't even moving though. All I could think was to go to the guest relations desk for help, and also it was the closest place to our cabin (I had difficulty walking at that time). When I told the officer from the Guest Relations desk that my son and I are very ill SHE SAID "so what??" I could not believe this response. I further told her that I thought they wanna know as other passengers may get sick as well. She did not seem to care. She did say that she will get a nurse to call my cabin. At no time did she ask if we needed any assistance to disembark or anything else for that matter. Unfortunately by the time I returned to the cabin the nurse already called and spoke to my son. Not sure what she was able to get out of him as he was half unconscious.. As the room attendants were already knocking on our door asking when we were leaving (to give them credit they had no idea how we were feeling and they were just doing their job) I had to get my son up, grab our bags and crawl out of the room. For me it appears that nobody on board really cared. Needless to say that the rest of the day was pure hell... Upon arriving home we received emails from several other passengers that we met on this cruise who fell ill as well. I immediately contacted Celebrity to notify them that they might have a problem. The operator didn't seem to care and quickly tried to judge the steps that I made and blame me for not going straight to the nurse. It is probably very difficult to understand the state of mind I was in without experiencing it. I did state to the operator that the reason for my call was not to get anything out of this but to alert the cruiseline of the potential problem on board Solstice. I hope those of you who are planning a cruise on Solstice will find this information helpful. We may be considering another trip with Celebrity but for sure not on Solstice and most likely not on "S" class ships Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
After years of cruising the Caribbean, we've seen a lot of ports and islands. A cruise is all about experiencing something new. So it was great to visit four new ports on this cruise. And these islands did not disappoint. Some ... Read More
After years of cruising the Caribbean, we've seen a lot of ports and islands. A cruise is all about experiencing something new. So it was great to visit four new ports on this cruise. And these islands did not disappoint. Some people complained that the islands looked alike; but not to me! They were quite the mixture of volcanic and coral islands, of regimented and laid-back islands, of populous and lightly peopled islands. Kudos to NCL for putting together a great itinerary. And the price was excellent. Friends ask if I got a good deal on a cruise. Yes -- if I'm going, I got a good deal. This time, it cost about $47 per day per person for an ocean view cabin (including the on-board credits.) A cruise from a gulf coast city would be more convenient; but even paying for flights to Miami did not make this an expensive vacation. If I'm going to Miami, I'm also driving south the day before my cruise. We rented a car from Enterprise. Stopped in Florida City to visit a great fruit stand called Robert Is Here (it's on the road to Everglades NP); got some weird tasting fruit this time, but I would never find anything like it at my hometown supermarket. Drove further south to Key Largo, and had dinner at the Fish House restaurant; wonderful fresh Mahi Mahi. As it was already dark, we spent the night in an inexpensive road-side motel. The next day, Enterprise gave us a ride to the cruise port; and the rental charge for the car ($25) was less than the price of a taxi from the airport ($40). Got to the cruise port about 12:30. The line was already backed up way around the terminal building. But it moved fast. Here's some free advice to those people who complain how slow it all is -- fill out your documents on-line (yes, duh). How strange it is to see people arguing with the gate agents when they should have already known what to expect. Anyway, we were on the ship by 1:30 but the rooms were not ready. So we went to the Venetian Restaurant for a leisurely (and tasty!) lunch. By the time we finished eating, the rooms were done, so we dropped off our carry-on luggage and went in search of an umbrella drink. First sea day, attended the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet. What a great bunch of folks! Of course, I felt like we were already friends after talking with them on the CC Roll Call board and on the FaceBook group that somebody started. Once you book this cruise, get on the Roll Call and make some friends. I saw most of these CC & FB folks many times during the cruise, and it was great to skip the meeting rituals. FOOD SERVICE Wish I could remember every meal, because most of them were great. We almost always ate in the Venetian Restaurant. Never ate at a pay-extra restaurant. Went to the cafeteria for lunch a couple of times. Food everywhere was consistently good, though the selection left something to be desired. The Venetian was sometimes very slow for dinner -- we had a half hour wait in the bar several times. Each dinner included a mystery entrée - it was supposed to be representative of food on the island which we were to visit the next day. The fish dishes were good, though definitely not as good as fresh fish. Only one day was I badly disappointed; we must have been going to the home port of Mrs. Paul, because we were served fish sticks. Yuck. However, this was my fifth cruise on NCL, and it was the first one where the desserts were mostly good; but really, NCL -- lose the recipes that involve gelatin. Food service was excellent. The wait staff was always good, especially the younger waitresses who spent the time to talk with us. NCL: if you are reading this, these waitresses are an asset; they reminded me of a couple of assistant waiters on the old and incredibly lamented SS Norway. I appreciate efficient service, but friendly service is even better. One complaint -- the people who seated us were unable to arrange shared tables (we like talking to people we have just met). One time we were paraded twice from front to back of the dining room while the host looked for a table. But we discovered that if we ate breakfast as soon as the restaurant opened, we would almost always be seated at a table next to people who arrived there at the same time we did. One breakfast treat that I am happy to have stumbled across. On the Tortola day, the Venetian opened early. We sat at the back, near the huge windows. The captain took the ship on a winding excursion between islands. Breathtaking! Thanks to the Venetian staff who tried to keep the place a little more upscale for dinner. If you want to wear shorts and a tee shirt, there are other options. Please don't try to browbeat the manager into making an exception for you. I felt really bad for a young man when his father claimed he was twelve (twelve and younger kids are allowed to wear shorts). The manager looked up his picture and told the father that the kid was fourteen. The poor teenager -- he was mortified by his father's lie. Best dinner of the cruise was Christmas Eve. Finally -- a good selection of appetizers and entrées. Rating for food service -- four out of five stars. PORTS I recommend the review of the NCL Dawn posted by Sea Dawg (November, 2011). If you are on a budget, or just like the bragging rights on saving money, check it out. Personally, I'd rather have a great tour than the absolute cheapest price. If you've got one thing on an island that you want to do, the public bus may be your best bet. Regardless, the Dawg is a great resource on what you should have to pay. I printed out his review and read it each day that we were stopping at a port. Samana. Tender port. Got a free tender ride to Cayo Levantado and hung out all day on the beach. NCL may start charging for this in the future. They really should treat this like a private island, and offer ship's lunch on the beach. Tortola. Decided at the last minute to take a ship's tour on a catamaran with a stop to snorkel and a beach break. Well worth the $70. People with more expensive snorkeling tours also went to Norman's island. Great beach with sting rays, large fish, diving pelicans, Boobie birds, and a bar right beside the water. St Martin. Been there, done that (many, many times). So we just walked to town and hung out by this bar that had dollar beers. Walked all over town looking for sunglasses. Local group was doing a living statues thing - it was oddly entertaining. And free. Antigua. Went shopping, looking for a musical instrument store; lots of rumors, but no instruments. There were many stores (not necessarily duty free). Finally gave up and joined a $30 ship's tour to a private beach with unlimited rum punch. Dominica. My favorite island. I had arranged a tour with Bumpiing Tours ($60, all day). There was a tender ride from the ship, which most people didn't know about, and which caused them (and us) to be late. We took a six mile hike up and down steep hills, through the rain forest -- rained the whole time, thankfully -- to a spectacular waterfall. Then drove to a narrow canyon for a swim to a waterfall in a cave, and got to jump off the waterfall and float back downstream. And then drove to a hot spring which was way too hot for my tastes. And finally went swimming on champagne reef. I am still worn out from this tour. If you are fit, do this one! Nothing better in the Caribbean. Barbados. Way over-populated island with lots of rich people and ostentatious houses. Still, driving tour was inexpensive. We had several children on the bus, and they wanted to see the monkeys. I paid the fee, just so I wouldn't be sitting around waiting for them. And surprise, the monkeys were great. They are free to roam, and visit the facility for food. They run between your feet and chatter from trees right beside your ear. Fun! The rest of the tour was not so much fun. Yams and sugar cane only go so far. Still, if you are impressed with homes of the rich and famous, your driver will be more than happy to show you each and every mansion on Barbados. St Kitts. We wanted to go to the beach, but the water looked a little rough. So we prowled through town and finally joined a $15 tour around the island in an open-air safari truck. Our driver must have watched too many Steve McQueen movies -- he careened down narrow paths on two wheels, narrowly missing people, animals and other vehicles; my wife left finger indentations by tightly gripping the roll bar. But this tour took us to good stuff - a beach with lava formations and an old mansion with a great botanical garden. We even went to a beach lined with little bars. And we arrived back at the ship in one piece. My wife gives this tour a white-knuckled, thumbs up. Rating for islands -- five out of five. THE SHIP Cabins. We had an ocean view cabin with a picture window. Very cramped, but it did have adequate closet space and dresser drawers. Hard to get into bed without crawling (no way was there room for a third passenger). Shower was adequate, sink and counter okay, toilet stall was miniscule. NCL put a sliding door between toilet and counter; I had to squeeze through the opening. No room to shut the door; but why would you want to shut a transparent glass door? We try to walk up stairs instead of riding the slow elevators (except for the day after our Dominica tour), and let me tell you it is a looong way from deck five to the swimming pool on thirteen. Public facilities. Always crowded. I guess nobody wanted to stay in their cabins. Somewhere I read that the room with best view on the ship had been converted to cabins; I would have liked to have hung out in some place like that. Pools were also very crowded. Why only one adult pool on a ship of this size? Mistake! Nice kid's pool, except the kids all went to the main pool. Hot tubs always crowded. No reason to put up signs saying "six person maximum" or "adults only" when the kids can't read English. Ship music. Lots of piano players and singers. But for some reason, most were finished by 9:00. I would have liked some music late at night (guess that NCL thinks this would detract from the casino.) Most of the singers were not bad, but one evening of listening was plenty. Dawn Show Band is excellent; even if you don't like jazz bands, you can appreciate their musicianship. Pool band New Seasons was way too good to keep by the pool, and in fact they played in indoor venues at night; their reggae is great, but C&W music is not their thing; they did a couple of instrumental sets, and these were excellent. Lobby singers Lucky Duo were pretty good; but female half of duo quite obviously likes some songs better than others -- she really sells some music and kind of frowns her way through others. Comedian on board was really an excellent singer -- I wish he had done more songs and less humor; he was probably a good comedian for old people from New York and Boston, but by the time this Midwesterner had translated his accent, the joke was past and the comedian was complaining that nobody was laughing. Ship entertainment. The singing and dancing shows were excellent. By all means, don't miss the production called Bollywood. Magician was impressive but even his spectacular magic (making a helicopter appear on stage) was not real impressive; I don't know why this was. Hypnotist tried to bore the audience to sleep (I guess this is part of the technique, but surely there's some way to make the first half hour a little more entertaining.) Boy band from Branson was energetic, but relied more on audio effects than on their own singing; at one point they asked the audience to stand up, so I stood up and walked out. British singer/pianist lady is a very accomplished musician, but needs a few more cruises to learn how to entertain an audience. A male singer and impressionist was quite good at singing, though his impressions were not always spot-on; still his songs were very well done and were quite a lot of fun to listen to. Second City troop was outstanding -- especially their late night show; I would go see them every night if they would perform that often. Casino. I didn't gamble, but did walk through a couple of times. The place was like a morgue. Nobody smiling, nobody winning. People on the ship did not brag about winning big. Even the bingo and ship lottery had no winners. Weird. Rating for the ship -- three stars out of five. IN GENERAL. Best thing -- food workers; it is amazing that restaurant staff will work so hard without reward from their customers, I credit the workers themselves and the supervisory staff. Poorest thing -- NCL management. It seems they take every opportunity to make a buck. So many extra charges. Other cruise lines take opportunities to build customer loyalty by offering some things gratis. Well, the ice cream bar was free, but a pizza oven in the buffet restaurant would have added to the friendliness of the ship. Confusion -- hotel management. One day, our cabin steward ran out of beach towels. Since we were going to a beach the next day, we called housekeeping. Somebody came and brought us a towel. Then somebody else brought us a complete set of bathroom towels. Then the steward stopped by the next day to apologize. We were not upset, the first guy with a beach towel fixed the problem. The Norwegian Dawn needs to communicate better with itself. Confusion -- restaurant management. I'm irritated that it was so difficult to share a table with somebody else. We volunteered to do so at every opportunity, to no avail. Other ships, even other NCL ships do it better. A couple of years ago on the Norwegian Sun, the host each time asked it we were willing to share a table, and always found us a table to share with another English speaking couple. Free style? They must mean expensive style, since the cost of most of the restaurants is in addition to the cost of the cruise. Free would be if you could just sit down in a restaurant, at the time you previously agreed on, without paying anything extra. Just about everybody I spoke to likes the so-called free style, so maybe I'm different than the main stream cruiser. Other lines do it better by offering both assigned seating and the option for other restaurants. Bad-on-ya, Norwegian Dawn, for not taking reservations at the main dining rooms and for making us wait so long for a table. Most unusual thing - pub crawl. We got 5+ drinks for $25, played dumb drinking games, and went around the ship acting drunk and trying to annoy our fellow passengers. Kind of fun. I felt like a twenty-something. Overall rating -- four stars out of five. This cruise was better than I had expected. Wouldn't take much for me to give the ship a much better score. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Embarkation: Got to ship around noon and embarkation was a breeze. Was on board in less than 30 minutes. Lines moved fast. The Ship was nicely decorated and looked great. Since we were on the Lido deck our room was ready so we could ... Read More
Embarkation: Got to ship around noon and embarkation was a breeze. Was on board in less than 30 minutes. Lines moved fast. The Ship was nicely decorated and looked great. Since we were on the Lido deck our room was ready so we could drop off carry ons and explore. If you have been on any Carnival ship you will have no problems finding your way around. Food: This is the only area that I found lacking. I have been on carnival before and found that there food service has gone down. They seem not to have enough waitstaff in the main dining room and some nights it took forever to get service. The Steakhouse was well worth the extra money. The food and service were exceptional. However the Italian restaurant I would definitely skip. Eat there free for lunch if you want but do not spend the extra dough to go at night. The food on Lido was overall good. Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Pizza and Sandwiches. Some lines did get long during peak times but that is expected. Crowds: This was a holiday sailing and we were completely full with lots of kids. I never felt crowded though. I will say that we did not do any shows so I do not know about the crowds in the showroom. We never had a problem finding a chair. Never saw a lot of chair hogs. Not even a long line at the slides when we went. Kids Clubs: My son is 15 and before we left he said he would probably not go to the club. Well that definitely changed. Could not keep him out every night after dinner. He was usually in Club O2 until closing. He net a lot of new friends and even my shy son did karaoke. Staff: Always friendly and remembered our names and usual drink orders by day 2. I will say that they do seem to need more staff. One night they only had one server on Lido as we watched a movie and we always seemed to have to ask for waitstaff in the Casino. Our room steward was great. Always friendly and we had towel animals every night except the one night he rolled up the beach towels with my tennis shoes on the ends and had them sticking out from under the bed. Make me and my husband almost spit a drink out of nose when we saw it. Had to call everyone one to see. Behind the Fun Tour: This was the first ship tour I had ever done and since it was a new ship and my son wanted to do it we did. It was a great tour. A wealth of information. Great to see how everything works on the ship. The only problem with this tour came when they were suppose to send some stuff to our cabin. A group of us went so one person bought the tickets and even though we went through the steps of setting up which rooms and which person with the excursion desk and with the tour guide still took 3 phone calls and 2 trips to guest services to get this straightened out and was not resolved until last day of the trip when the tour happened on the 2nd day. Rooms: We had handicapped rooms 10202 and 10210 due to my spouse. Our room was 10202 which is a 4J. Loved the room. Enough space for our needs. And the view was great. However there is a lot of movement on this ship. More than I have felt on any ship. And forget sleeping when they turn on the thrusters. The other room 10210 was also a HC room but it was so small. I would not get this room if you are confined to wheelchair or use a power chair. Overall: Great cruise and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. We would do it again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Embarkation: San Diego was smooth, parked at airport parking lot about 1 mile from cruise terminal free shuttle to terminal. Cabin: We had a veranda balcony room seemed somewhat smaller than we had on the Maasdam. Limited storage space ... Read More
Embarkation: San Diego was smooth, parked at airport parking lot about 1 mile from cruise terminal free shuttle to terminal. Cabin: We had a veranda balcony room seemed somewhat smaller than we had on the Maasdam. Limited storage space for 14 day cruise. Service was very good and timely. Entertainment: Production shows OK but music is getting stale. Would be better if newer music was introduced into productions. Movies were provided in the "Screening Room" daily which proved to be useless with only 30 seats available. Considering that this cruise occurred during the Holiday Season and to Hawaii was amazed at the lack of Christmas and Hawaiian music or Hawaiian themed activities. Thankfully HAL did have Kaimoa who represented the Hawaiian culture and provided a lot of good information on Hawaii. Without his presence there were few if any Hawaiian activities. Needed more activities on ocean days and more interaction from cruise director. Food: We had open seating and overall the food seemed better than we have had in the past. Pinnacle Grill excellent and well worth the extra charge. Should continue to offer flavored coffee in Lido. Ports: All very good, was surprised how crowed and cosmopolitan Waikiki had become. Would skip in future. Debarkation: Slow Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We went as a family who had never cruised before - Dad, Mum and 15 year old daughter. Having read some reviews, good and not-so-good, we were unsure what to expect but went with an open mind, not expecting an utterly luxurious ... Read More
We went as a family who had never cruised before - Dad, Mum and 15 year old daughter. Having read some reviews, good and not-so-good, we were unsure what to expect but went with an open mind, not expecting an utterly luxurious top-of-the-range experience, and we really enjoyed it! Our cabin was on deck 8 and had a window. I would describe the cabin as "perfectly adequate". The drawers and cupboards were quite old and tired, but they held all our clothes just fine, so what more could you ask?! The shower and toilet worked fine. Our 15-year-old daughter soon got involved in the teens HQ+ centre, and enjoyed herself immensely. Not all the events were to her liking, not being a PS3/Wii fanatic, but she made friends with a bunch of other teenagers and had a great time. The food was fine. We generally ate at the buffet "Plantation" for breakfast and lunch. Yes there was sometimes a queue, but it moved quite quickly and I didn't see anyone getting annoyed at the 5 minute delay. There was plenty of salads, fruit, hot food - I think the variety was good for a 10-night cruise, but I could see myself getting a little bored if I was on the cruise for a month. But then many people went to the burger place just outside on deck 12 for a burger or hot-dog, which probably adds to the variety. For dinner we preferred the more formal "Waterfront" restaurant, where the menu and the food were lovely - not Michelin-starred restaurant exquisite, but I had no complaints. There were two evenings where the food was not quite as good as I would have expected, but overall it was very good. One of the very few complaints I had was that when we had a bottle of wine saved from the previous night, they had a lot of difficulty finding the bottle the following night. One bottle was lost (but it only had maybe half a glass in it, and the supervisor presented me with two full glasses for free so that was okay), one bottle was brought out half way through the meal, and one bottle wasn't located until after we had finished our dinner, which was a bit pointless. The shows were top quality. We thoroughly enjoyed all the evening shows and found the dancers and performers to be highly professional. There was one comedian that my wife went to and found not to her liking, so she left after 10 minutes. But honestly, one bad show out of around 15 - 20 is not bad (and you've already paid for them as part of your cruise ticket, so we figured we would go to all the shows and just leave if we didn't enjoy one). The Marquee is not perfect - if you choose the wrong seat then you'll be sat behind a pillar and unable to see anything - but the secret is get there in plenty of time to choose a good seat. If the 7:30 show is packed, just go to the 9:30 show. Ports: We visited four ports. We booked a shore tour at Nuku'alofa, which was good. Vava'u was pointless - the town was grubby and litter everywhere, I don't think the locals wanted us there - apart from the people selling crafts in the stalls on the dock who were VERY pushy. Dravuni Island was magical - we walked along a gorgeous beach, went snorkeling in crystal clear water, it was fantastic. Suva in Fiji, we just went for a walk through town and visited the museum which was interesting - we did have to beat off the taxi drivers though. The 15-year-old did a Flying Fox tour (which is really more of a Zip Line) and loved it. In summary, we found this cruise very enjoyable. No, the Pacific Pearl is not a 5-star hotel, and it is not a Michelin-starred restaurant. But we enjoyed it and would recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clause if you believe or perhaps you are a newbie to RCI! With a fare too good to be true and not having to fly, we booked a last minute inside guarantee on Brilliance of the Seas out of Dubai during the ... Read More
Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clause if you believe or perhaps you are a newbie to RCI! With a fare too good to be true and not having to fly, we booked a last minute inside guarantee on Brilliance of the Seas out of Dubai during the holidays. We will be three star Mariners on our next HAL cruise and have also sailed Celebrity but we're looking forward to an RCI experience...... especially having had the sea call me on the new shell phone......I love that ad! We used our usual online agent and to my surprise within the week our RCI reservation was assigned a Superior Ocean View Balcony Cabin on deck nine, mid-ship! I kept checking every day waiting for it to be a mistake. We have never booked a guarantee before in any category and this good fortune probably doesn't happen often. For those of you contemplating a cruise on Brilliance but concerned about it being an older ship lacking the bells and whistles of the bigger classes, don't delay. The ship was in great shape and looked festive with all of the holiday decorations. There were no plumbing issues, the carpets and furnishings looked fine, and all of the surrounding glass sparkled from the continuous cleaning. Liked a Lot: being able to see the pre-booked reservations that you make on the RCI web site for your specific cruise; being able to view your account from the cabin TV quick response from the RCI dining team regarding my wait-listed MTD status (thanks for the tip CC) the planner on Day One that lets you know in advance the formal nights, drink of the day, activity times for the week, special sales each day; the inclusion of all of the port information in the first daily compass, providing information even if you were doing a port on your own instead of a ship tour The Captain's sense of humor and friendliness of the crew. Always being greeted with smiles and doing everything they could to make you comfortable The outdoor seating area by the Seaview Cafe deck 12 that seems luckily undiscovered Seaview Cafe panini sandwiches-wish it was open earlier than three pm The layout of lounges in the Colony Club; being able to go from the Champagne bar to the piano bar, and dance floor without the music overlapping Solarium was a peaceful pool retreat with an exotic Indian theme, wooden loungers with thick pads to relax on, the convenience of both a bar and cafe Room Service-arrived on time and with everything you ordered! Entertainment -a wide variety through out the day and into the night; classical music, Latin music, big band orchestra or R&R to dance to, piano music to sing along with, classical guitar, disco and karaoke; theater shows included guest singer Tracey Shield performing like Celine Dion, Rat Pack tribute, and Tango Buenos Aires Dining & Drinks Chops Grill-Great and worth the money; excellent service and they even decanter your wine by the glass; the steak melted in your mouth and was cooked as ordered; sides were good also-mushroom and leek combo, potatoes with prosciutto & cheese, onion rings, green beans or buttered asparagus; desserts included mud pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for us chocolate lovers; Portofino-originally reserved the Wine & Dinner series but unfortunately not enough people so it got canceled. We substituted a regular dinner reservation and enjoyed it very much; really liked the variety of breads to get you started; we ordered veal saltimbocca which was good though a little salty; desserts were very rich-I had a double dark and white chocolate dessert which was heavenly but best shared MDR-we were able to switch from the early seating to MTD and liked being able to reserve ahead of time; The staff did a superb job of handling this style dining and we always got a table for two without waiting and in the same section though didn't have to request it. They easily accommodated guests configuring the table sizes from 2-6. Even the larger oval tables for eight appeared more conducive to conversation than the huge round tables you so often see in banquet settings; our waiters Alex and Alok were a great combination and it helped that they were also able to serve you the wine as you didn't have to wait for a wine steward; the special holiday dinner offered traditional turkey which was very good; nice assortment of breads each night, delicious lentil and sun-dried tomato soup, excellent presentation; food was hot; stayed away from the steak(Chops reservation anyway) but have to say I ordered sea food three times and twice it was overcooked and once it was cooked to perfection but full of bones! As was my husband's and the gentleman at the table next to ours. Need to schedule more filet lessons Windjammer-typical cruise buffet; no problem finding a table, friendly service and hot food, some items really good (danish pastry, sweet & sour Indian dish, cooked to order omelets) others take or leave but you won't go hungry Drinks-Drink of the Day was $6.95; Bottle of Heineken was about $5; we thought bottles of wine outside of the wine package were slightly higher or what you might pay in a larger city in the US (but less than a hotel in Dubai!) Most cocktails were in the $7-$8 range but Margaritas and the like were a sobering $10-$11. The drinks were all good---not watered down; enjoyed the revolving bar at Starquest and the live entertainment every night at the Lobby Bar; medium size bottled water in your room was $4----yikes! Liked a Lot Less: Sun lounge chairs crammed together-we didn't like the design of the pool area and placement of the chairs on the outside decks at all. An average amount of towels covered vacant chairs but not excessive however the chairs were so close together they took economy class to a new level. Many of the chairs were also lined up on the upper decks against the wall and often had a ceiling overhang that blocked the sun or ventilation fans blowing. There was a special area designated for either suite or diamond guests but the area wasn't utilized much whenever I walked by. There is also a lot of deck space allocated to the water slide and sports activities which I guess that "prime real estate" aspect depends on your interests......but you do have the solarium alternative to escape to. Cabin- Showers-sure are tiny! Spoiled by the HAL shower/tub combo in all of their balcony cabins so no thumbs up here; plenty of storage space and hangers, comfortable beds (liked the curved edges) and the sconce lighting with a reading light; needs flat screen TV, built in international plug adapters, and some new balcony furniture but I'm sure these will be taken care of in a future dry-dock and not a major concern Odds and Ends: A good balance of service throughout the ship. Waiters were available when you wanted a drink but didn't pounce on you as soon as you finished one or before getting settled in a new venue. Photographers unobtrusively captured candid shots or were scattered at various places in the ship to take your photo without having to be scheduled in advance. With the beautiful decorations even we couldn't resist buying an 8x10 for $19.95. The in-house news show hosted by Paul the Cruise Director was a clever way to inform you about what was going on and what you needed to know. There were two formal nights and one theme night. The White Night had many crew and guests donning Middle Eastern dress and posing in the Arabian tent and around the camels. The obvious good time being had relinquished my impulse to call the Cultural Wizard when I spotted them with a drink in hand! Port Tips-This Middle East itinerary is a great way to explore a part of the Gulf region. They are all industrial ports so factor that into your "view expectations" while sitting on your balcony in port. Friday is the holy day and except for the malls most things will open later in the day. Visiting the mosques-in Abu Dhabi all women will be given an abaya to put on and a shayla for your head if you don't have a scarf. Men will be provided a khandora if wearing shorts; in Muscat women must have long sleeves to your wrists and a head covering. Men need long pants. You will remove your shoes before entering the mosque. I didn't wear socks in Muscat, it was not a problem (though I would have felt better if my toenails weren't painted red.) In the shopping areas it is respectful for women to cover shoulders and knees---think short sleeves and capri pants, though in Dubai people digress! Dubai-add a day or two pre or post cruise if this is your first visit. There is so much to see and do here even after you shop! The cream colored taxis with different colored roofs are plentiful, metered, and inexpensive. You will see many lined up at the port entrance; HOHO busses were also at the cruise terminal as were free shuttles to a couple of the malls....I believe one was Dubai Mall but not positive; there were also many 4x4's waiting to take people on their scheduled desert dune bashing experience (if you are prone to motion sickness you may want to take some medication before hand) Abu Dhabi-Free shuttle to the Marina Mall where you can get a taxi if not on a scheduled tour; Sheik Zayed Mosque is beautiful and free tours are given in the morning; Falcon Hospital is an interesting alternative if you have been to Abu Dhabi before. The staff is welcoming and provides a lot of information, you get to see falcons being treated in the "spa" and even have one perched on your arm for photos Muscat-Free shuttles to the port gate in Muscat were provided. There is a large sign outside with posted fares to different places. Gives you an idea for your taxi negotiations; Some drivers will interpret the rate to be pp. We agreed to pay 15 OR for both of us for a roundtrip to the Grand Mosque and have the driver wait for us. He had wanted 20 rials for the 30 minute ride each way. He explained areas as we drove through the city, after our visit he brought us to a reception area in the mosque for tea and dates, took some pictures for us etc and in the end we felt he earned the extra amount and tipped him the difference You can walk to the Mutrah Souk in about 10 minutes from the port gate; Bait al Zubair and Palace area are about 3km from the souq. If you are energetic you can walk to it in about 50 minutes along the beautiful sea promenade or corniche. The four buildings offer a wealth of information about Oman, there's a beautiful jewelry exhibit for the women and handsomely crafted swords and kanjars for the men, a cafe to order coffee or tea and try the Halwa sweet treat of Oman, stop in the gift shop where you can also spritz yourself and make a splurge purchase of Amouage, the Rolls Royce of perfumes of the world made in Oman. If your ship is docked overnight, check to see if there is a performance at the new Royal Opera House http://www.rohmuscat.org.om/ It is a beautiful building and offers not only opera but ballet, symphony, jazz and other performances. The new season begins mid January through March and tickets sell out quickly so if you are interested, don't hesitate. Fujairah-plan a tour, dhow cruise or stay onboard and enjoy the ship; the shuttle to LuLu's is like a trip to Carrefour or Walmart SuperCenter Passenger mix was at least 75% Europeans from all over the continent, some North Americans and everyone in between. Daily program guides were offered in a variety of languages. A number of children and teens on board and an equal number of activities to keep them busy; yes, even Santa came aboard Christmas Eve Embarkation-moved along quickly Passport Retrieval-effortless; also US citizens- ship arranges Oman visa/ charges $13 to your sea account-probably others too but not sure which countries so won't comment Disembarkation-Our tag number gathered in the Schooner Bar at 8 am and I was home making coffee at 8:30 am after a 10 minute taxi ride-as close to a Florida perk as you can get! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We cruised 19-26th December 2011 and I can tell you, we will not be staying home for Christmas any more. For the first time we paid for embarkation and city tour (we usually do this on our own) and it showed up to be a great idea. After ... Read More
We cruised 19-26th December 2011 and I can tell you, we will not be staying home for Christmas any more. For the first time we paid for embarkation and city tour (we usually do this on our own) and it showed up to be a great idea. After breakfast and check in in Hyatt we were taken to city tour, which gave us basic orientation of Dubai, UAE and the culture. This helped us to plan our two Dubai days at the end of our cruise. In Fujairah we did the East Coast tour which was great value for money (30 Eur for 4 hour trip). The city itself is boring and this was a great choice. We did Muttrah/Muscat on our own, the ship organised free shuttle (in every port but Dubai) and we walked pretty much all day and evening all over the interesting sites. In Abu Dhabi after "must see" mosque we went by taxi to Yas island and stayed whole day in Ferarri World (awesome), the taxi was 25 USD each way (considering this was about 60 km this was great). And finally in Dubai we did Hop on bus day and night, which was good value for money since they took us straight from and to the ship. Burj Khalifa experience, Aquaventure, Souqs, Wafi light show.. just name it, we did it :o) So I must say the ports of call were great. The ship was ok, not stunning but clean with great Solarium, billiard tables, cinema and standard RCI features. I can not say one bad word about the ship. We ate 3 night in Dinning room (including great Christmas Dinner) which served good meals and we were glad to have Robert from Hungary as a waiter since he was polite and quick and not too familiar ( I really hate this in a waiter). Other meals we ate at Solarium, Seaview Cafe and Windjammer, food and service was great as usually, I was thrilled to eat Duck-dumplings which is traditional for my country in a great quality. Our room was standard interior room on 10th floor (great location). Room attendant was awesome, helpful and polite. One incident was disturbing.. in next room an old couple would bang on wall ( and I mean really loudly) if we made a beep after 8.00 pm. Come on people, we were just talking not having a party, if you want to sleep 8.00pm-6.00am stay at home or pay for extra large room, you will reduce the noise. In the morning the old lady would give us an ugly stare and complain but since we really did not do anything unusual(in fact we are quite boring, we usually go to bed before midnight, we do not drink at all and when coming back to room in the evening we try to be quiet) and no one else has ever had problem with us, this did not ruin our day. I just feel sorry for people who destroy holidays not only for themselfs but also for others just because they expect that by paying for the cheapest cabin they can act as they own the ship. I loved the atmosphere on the cruise, Santa showed up (yeah, he was skinny and he used our safety boats to come but it was nice anyways). I also liked the carolling (did I spell it right?), Christmas dinner decoration, the "pull and it will pop" toy we all got and so on. The decorations on the ship were nice but not too much, just the way I like it :o) So, to sum up the cruise was great and the timing made it awesome, so I can only recommend. Just wondering where we will go next Christmas :o)) Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Embarkation in Barbados was long winded and we feel a drawn out process. You had to wait far too long to get access to your stateroom. tateroom was very spacious and exceptionally clean. Rio the steward was excellent, excellent, ... Read More
Embarkation in Barbados was long winded and we feel a drawn out process. You had to wait far too long to get access to your stateroom. tateroom was very spacious and exceptionally clean. Rio the steward was excellent, excellent, excellent. Trouble with loudspeaker is that you cannot her announcements in your room. The food onboard was excellent but the buffet restaurant was an eye opener. I don't think I have ever seen people eat so much in all my life, gluttony was the name for the day!!!!!! Carnival do need to train their staff properly though. My husband and myself were given bar credits to use by our sons, you can use these towards a bottle of wine at dinner. Unfortunately the second night we tried to use them foir this the waiter did not know anything about them nor did the Maitre D. Really embarrassing moment so much so that we left the restaurant really upset. Complained to guest services who really weren't interested. Tried again third night with a different waiter .... no problem!!!!! So come on Carnival get your act together please. On the subject of the Maitre D, without wishing to be rude he is grumpy, unpleasant and acknowledges no one!!! The waiters on the whole are excellent , especially Dec. The ship is geared for Americans rather than any British holidaymaker. This is because the ship is loud and well you can gather the rest................. The ports of call were good but you could have done a lot of them yourself without the expense. As I said the loudspeaker system doesn't work in the staterooms so you do not always hear the messages. On disembarking in St Thomas we did not have our passports with us as we were not aware you needed them (you didn't need them in any other port apart from San Juan which is also American) and we tried to reboard but an officious twenty something American official would not let us on and proceeded to be rude, arrogant and totally up herself, in the end I had to say "well are you going to let us off or not?", she let one of us board to get our passports. We then went shopping and went via the other American official further up the port with no problem at all and a really pleasant young man! Whilst on the subject of American ports, San Juan is a nightmare. You are rtold by Carnival that it isn't a problem and you just get off for a while and then you can come back on without having to queue with all the new guests coming onboard - do not believe them this is totally untrue. The queues are unbelievable and even though you are a guest intransit they, the officials do not recognise this and are bolshey and rude. At this port Carnival also check you in differently, I myself wasn't going to be allowed back onboard as some young man didn't know what he was doing and although I had been onboard for 3/4 days already he wasn't doing his job correctly and had to ask for help, along comes a woman who knows what she is doing and states I am a guest intransit and was allowed to reboard. What a complete nightmare!!!!! The drinks are overpriced but the bar staff are brilliant, especially Simona and Hendrich!!!! If you intend to drink onboard buy credits its far cheaper. Regarding dining if you would like to be seated as a couple then firmly state it otherwise you will be placed with rather loud people!!! Also elegant night doesn't always mean elegant night, people wearing t shirts, shorts and polo shirts were allowed in the restaurant despite announcements to the contrary. Although it was our first cruise and we had problems it hasn't put us off cruising, we just wouldn't go with this company again as the English are made to feel in the minority. The company leaves a lot to be desired, lack of information, not being able to purchase bar credits online as they do not recognise our postcodes etc. If Carnival would like more English guests then they need to move up a notch. As we were going through immigration again in Barbados we heard the vast majority of our fellow cruisers were not enamoured with their experiences and were quite vocal about it, indeed one comment was "we will cruise again but onboard one with a little more intellect"!! As I have said it hasn't put us off cruising but would definitely try a company with a little more elegance. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Having read a lot of reviews regarding the MSC Magnifica, we decided to go on the cruise with an open mind; and on the whole it was a very enjoyable cruise. The ship does live up to its name and is constantly kept clean and tidy, the staff ... Read More
Having read a lot of reviews regarding the MSC Magnifica, we decided to go on the cruise with an open mind; and on the whole it was a very enjoyable cruise. The ship does live up to its name and is constantly kept clean and tidy, the staff work very hard and are always pleasant. We stayed in a balcony cabin, though not as large as some we have stayed in it was big enough for 2 with enough room for our clothes and space under the bed for the cases. The room was kept clean though the balcony was not swept during our cruise. We mentioned this to reception and it had a cursory clean. The food on board was quite good, there was a lot of choice on the buffet breakfast and if you wanted to be waited on you could use the restaurant. Lunch in the buffet was very much the same every day unless you found the "ethnic" section this changed every day from Indian to Chinese etc. with pasta each day. Evening meals were of the Italian style (what else it's an Italian ship) and were varied each day served in 5 courses. Entertainment was provided in several venues, music and dancing, easy listening and a show in the theatre. The latter again being of the Italian style did seem a bit dated very much like the (Sunday night at the London Palladium)singers dancers and acrobats. The days did lack a bit of interesting entertainment leaving you wandering around on sailing days, though this was a winter cruise so may be in summer it will be different. This was a Christmas cruise but other than Christmas songs being played all day there was very little to tell it was different from other days. The parts we did not like were personal dislikes so you may find that these are things that you do like: Embarkation was very poor they dealt with our cases very well as soon as we arrived; we made our way to the upper level of the terminal without any explanation what to do and were given a ticket with a number on. At this point you need to join the line to check in and get your cruise card; you can register your credit card then to save time later. We still had our number and were told to wait until it was called. The ship is tantalising looming through the window but you can't get on. We waited 2 hours with no refreshments until our number was called and we could go on the ship. Having gone through the process I think I would have left the cases and gone round Venice until last moment and not had the problem of waiting in the terminal. The smoking policy we found to be quite unacceptable and the rules against it are constantly flouted with no action taken by the staff. you can smoke freely in the casino so if you don't smoke this is a no go area meaning if you want to traverse deck 7 you will need to go up and down via deck 6. On deck 6 in the Topazio bar there is a section on the port side for smoking but this is not divided off so the smoke fills the room and some of the shops. you are requested not to smoke in rooms and on balconies, but nothing is done to stop it I had a cigarette stump and ash landing on me from balconies above, not very nice. Again nothing was done about it. Smoke gets into the corridors from rooms, according to one guest in an inside cabin, the smoke from next door filled their cabin as there was no way to ventilate it. Children have a lot to do during the day but some are left unattended at night running around unchecked. Parents of some children encourage them onto the dance floors in the evenings, making it very dangerous to dance in case you knocked one of the children over onto the hard floor; so in a lot of cases you just give up and leave it to big soft dads standing on the dance floor grinning at their precious little darlings spinning round and sliding across the floor. But it was about 4 families who spoiled it for others keeping babies up until the early hours of the morning. A lot has been said in other reviews about the price of drinks and tips but we knew this before cruising and it was not a surprise. The cruise is not as expensive as some other lines so the price of drinks was compensated for. If you are a big drinker there are all inclusive packages you can use. The prices were not a lot different from other cruises and hotels I have stayed in, though the prices in the shops on board were over priced so I don't think they had a lot of custom. All in all it does seem a bit of false economy and if they lowered prices they would have a lot more sales. Would I sale with them again? Yes if the price and package was right. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
My husband and I have taken many cruises with one other being on a MSC ship so we were not surprised at the differences on this Italian ship versus other American geared ships. We live in Florida so it was a drive down to the port. We ... Read More
My husband and I have taken many cruises with one other being on a MSC ship so we were not surprised at the differences on this Italian ship versus other American geared ships. We live in Florida so it was a drive down to the port. We parked in the port parking but I think next time we will go the night before and spend the night in a hotel and leave our car there. From other passengers it seems this is less expensive and convenient. We boarded the ship quickly and were escorted to our room by a friendly crew member. Our room was 11040 with balcony and was spotless. Our room steward greeted us with a smile. Up to the buffet for the first meal of many. I am not a huge fan on buffets in general for it seems the people that complain the most about food and selection are the same ones that pile their plates a mile high, go back for seconds and whine the whole time. I found the food to be varied, plentiful and good in the buffet the first day and the other few times we ate there. I also found the waiters to be very friendly and courteous. The ship is very pretty and laid out well. I also found the ship to be spotless as well. It seems someone is always shining something. Our whole cruise I didn't find one crew member that didn't smile and have something nice to say. We had a table for 2 in late seating and once again our table steward and his assistant were efficient and friendly. We enjoy the Italian cuisine and although not every selection was my favorite, we enjoyed our meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner. MSC is different than most cruise lines in that the dining room is open for all meals whether at port or at sea which I like. I try to avoid the feeding frenzy buffet as much as possible even though the food is good. My favorites on the menu are appetizers and desserts. My husband loves soups and this ship did not disappoint. The wine selection this cruise seemed to be better than the last. We went to a few shows which are great on this cruise line. It doesn't seem that the shows are cheesy like many other lines in general. We loved the Italian based shows and the music and singing was wonderful. Most evening after dinner or before we went down to the main area and enjoyed the piano and violin which was fantastic. The zebra lounge seemed to be hopping at night and the place to be if you wanted action and dancing. We took this cruise to relax and that we did. The spa area is really nice. They have 3 free spas in the spa area with chairs overlooking the water which I loved and took advantage of quite a bit. I also got great deals on 2 massages that I loved! We had been to most of the ports of call so we only took one tour on our own which we enjoyed. I was disappointed that our horse riding tour in the rain forest in PR was cancelled for lack of enough people but we went to the rain forest on a tour we found on our own and loved it. It was very reasonable even though it is a 50 minute drive to get there. Shopped in St Martin and got a pretty ring. The ship seem to have good prices on liquor so just bought it there. Grenada downtown was a rat race but I am sure the tours were much better. So many people complain about the announcements in 5 languages. Too that I say "get a life". I actually find it interesting and amazing that so many people speak so many languages. We Americans lag way behind in this area in general. I love the fact that you are not hounded continually for drinks when laying out on the deck. I also like that the make up of the ship is largely European for I like the diversity. I get American and Spanish at the local mall. It is nice to meet Italian, French, Dutch etc. To sum it up.......the ship is beautiful, our room was spotless at all times, the food was good and I never walked away from the table hungry, the entertainment was classy, the staff friendly and helpful, and the price for our balcony was great. My husband loves to sit and relax on the balcony and the weather cooperated for his pleasure. An added unexpected plus was it was an old timer baseball cruise. He got to see and go to question and answer times with 5 great retired baseball players and free autographs. He remembered all of them from his childhood and loved this time during our cruise. I do wish that this cruise line would offer pizza continually like other ships especially since it is an Italian line. Some times it is nice just to grab pizza and enjoy on the balcony at different times of day. I would say that if you are looking for a cruise ship with a party atmosphere and lots of action this cruise line would not fit that bill. But our lives are hectic and we wanted time together relaxing and catching up and this fit perfect. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We where in Crown Princess the week of 17th december 2011. We where with two friends an for them it was a first time with Princess but they sail many time with other company an they said it is the first an the last...We said it is not like ... Read More
We where in Crown Princess the week of 17th december 2011. We where with two friends an for them it was a first time with Princess but they sail many time with other company an they said it is the first an the last...We said it is not like the other cruise we took with the same compagny... the embakation was disturb because the other cruise had novovirus on so the disinfects an the sanitising so we understand it is longer to embark but after that many things is not the same the same. Nevertheless it is with this company that we developed the taste to make cruise... We realized that it is not this cruise which could give taste to one to make another cruise for a new cruiser. CABINS: The cabins was good but if you choose more in front of the ship it could be noisy because training center is just in front so I heard from people who was in front they had a lot of noise because the trademills but not us it was de L253 if perfect near pool, lunch on the deck 15. But if you have the seasickness maybe it is a bet high because we had a big wave about aft of the week 7.5 to 12 feets...they made an announcement to secure dentures for those who have one... so we had waves...but is it not the fault of the company. For Seasickness choose lower level. Excursion: Excursion was ok but to get out of the boat ... what a mess... long line anywhere they would have advantage has to find another way of functioning as the one we we had set previously in Oasis of the seas. So disembark late every time to much time to go ashore. We where late to take the excursion they had to wait for passengers because the disembarkation. We too caribbean Princess an it was not the same, whe where waiting on a theater an the call us by tout an it was on time. Breakfast At buffet it is ok not more an we took breakfast at the Dinner place but it was not what we expect an not very good The dinner It was good like the one we took before the Caribbean Princess. Pool Many pool it is very good but a lot of them where cloosed many time. Tne entertainments It is basic , nothing nothing nothing to compare to Royal the Oasis The boat is nice, the café international is perfect, pastry an coffee capuccinno woaw! buy a coffee card it worth the price for a people who love special coffee. Right now ,we will take Allure of the seas this summer an to take Princess another time we dont say no but we will try other compagny before Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We enjoyed ourselves immensely. It was fun watching all the families celebrating together. We were blessed to be seated with dining companions in our age group and all of us with common interests. We don't understand why Carnival ... Read More
We enjoyed ourselves immensely. It was fun watching all the families celebrating together. We were blessed to be seated with dining companions in our age group and all of us with common interests. We don't understand why Carnival is afraid to enforce their dress policy, however. Why publish Cruise Elegant guidelines if you're going to allow a guy in a baseball cap and a guy in shorts to dine in the Northern Lights on Cruise Elegant nights? This is just disrespectful to the other guests. Also, we did not understand why unaccompanied children were allowed to sit at the bar in the Red Frog Pub, then hop from table to table. The ship provides plenty of kid's spaces, so why are they allowed in the bar without parents? The bartender informed us he did not want to offend them by asking them to leave. The food in the Prime Steakhouse was excellent, although the portions were overwhelming! Service was fantastic! Can't say the same for the food or the service in the Northern Lights, though. In fact, the last night of our cruise, the food was so bad that no one at our table even ate it! Overall, we'll stick to the smaller cruise lines from now on. Having said that, we still would not have missed this opportunity to sail on such a beautiful ship! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was our first booking in an inside cabin (we've previously booked in both Oceanview and Balcony). We chose one on the Lido deck as we thought it would be more convenient for the pools and the buffet. It was, but we also had to ... Read More
This was our first booking in an inside cabin (we've previously booked in both Oceanview and Balcony). We chose one on the Lido deck as we thought it would be more convenient for the pools and the buffet. It was, but we also had to deal with being on the 10th deck and the ship movement up there. Probably will book a lower deck next time. Biggest change for us was the new style bathroom. The shower stall is much smaller than the ones on Conquest or Ecstasy - fits snugly into a corner. If you have a large girth, it could be tight. The decor is a bit subdued for Carnival and everything is so fresh and new - no covered pool however, which I thought was a bit risky for the Western Caribbean. We had some rain showers during our trip and just had to get under cover and wait them out. We also tried Anytime Dining for the first time. No problem with getting a table - longest we had to wait was 15 mins and that only happened twice out of 8 nights. Tables for 2 in Anytime Dining are not very good however. There's no privacy at all - the tables are either at the end of a table for 4, or alongside another table for 2 - maybe 12 inches between them ! I checked the set dining time areas and the table layouts there were much better. Quality of food was very good and the service was excellent. We did not use the speciality restaurants so can't comment there. We visited Costa Maya, Belize, Roatan and Cozumel. Stayed at the port area in both Costa Maya and Belize. Went on a beach excursion in Roatan to Tabyana Beach and really enjoyed that. Beach is well set up with waiters, security staff to watch your belongings while you're in the water, showers, snack bar, lockers etc. Went off by ourselves in Cozumel. This ship is large but the layout makes things feel less crowded. The Sports Deck and the new ropes course was always busy. We used the Serenity (adults only) area once and enjoyed that. The sun beds are geared towards couples and some have awnings. 2 hot tubs and a bar up there too. Embarkation was a breeze. The new security set up in Galveston (5 or 6 stations instead of only 2) made this the smoothest embarkation ever for us. Almost no waiting despite this being a fully booked Christmas cruise. We did self-assist debarkation and again, absolutely no waiting, fuss or bother. In fact we were in our car and on the road by 7:45am ! Recommend the ship but I think the Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel route is better. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click