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

999 Holiday Cruise Reviews

As background, my wife and I have just recently entered our early 60s, we've been married for 32 years, and we've cruised fourteen times since 1977. Our first ten cruises were on progressively "smaller" ocean-going ... Read More
As background, my wife and I have just recently entered our early 60s, we've been married for 32 years, and we've cruised fourteen times since 1977. Our first ten cruises were on progressively "smaller" ocean-going vessels, and the last four, (one in each of the past four years), have been Europe Uniworld river cruises. Although we really liked each of our ocean cruises, we've decided we really enjoy the Uniworld format/product the best. (Note: From what I've researched online and read on CC, I'm pretty sure most of the Europe river cruise companies that market to Americans are pretty similar. We've always decided upon our itinerary first, then availability/included amenities and excursions/pricing, with an extra nod to Uniworld because we know the product. In the final decision, we've chosen Uniworld each time). We booked our own air, on Air France, so we could pick our departure/return/routing. Both outbound and return flights were direct between Washington, DC Dulles and Paris CDG. Our outbound flight departed (as something different for us) at 10:00 PM, and arrived around 11:00 AM the next morning in Paris. (No wondering what to do at our Europe ship-departure destination like we've had upon arrival at 07:00 AM on prior cruises, with ship cabin availability not until mid-afternoon). Uniworld includes no-extra-charge transfers to/from the ship if you arrive and depart within a reasonable window on the same day of arrival/departure along with everyone else. As we've experienced before, one of the most frustrating parts of any cruise is the gathering-up of passengers from different arriving flights, walking to the transfer bus with luggage, and then waiting aboard a stuffy, non-running bus until enough passengers fill up the bus to make the drive to the ship. The bus delivered us to the ship in less than thirty minutes, with the ship moored on the Seine near the Citroen Quay, with the Eiffel Tower on our side of the river in plain view from the ship. River Baroness is very well maintained, and was quite up to our expectations compared with our prior Uniworld cruises. All of the public spaces were decked out in Christmas decorations, including individual Christmas stockings hung on every cabin door. There are two main/indoor passenger decks, accessible by either a fairly-steep straight staircase between the decks, or a second spiral staircase between Reception on the main deck and the dining room below. There is no elevator, but there was one of those motorized gliding stairs chairs between the two indoor decks, and another outdoors between the main deck and the upper Sun deck. It was so cold this week, not many people went up on the Sun deck to sit or even to stroll or exercise. There is a fairly large protected/covered area up on the Sun deck, immediately behind the wheel house. Passengers are only permitted to smoke on the Sun deck, so the covered area was rarely utilized by non-smokers because this was the area where the few cigar and cigarette smokers congregated. The ship had Internet access available on one PC in the area between Reception and the coffee bar, and wireless capabilities in the public rooms if you brought your own netbook. At the beginning of our week, the Internet access was described by staff as sporadic, so it was no-extra-charge for the week. I found it to work pretty well when the ship was stationary, but slow and/or unreliable underway. When we first walked into our cabin, (they're all identical on both passenger cabin decks of Baroness), it seemed very "compact" compared to our standard cabins we'd had previously on River Duchess and River Queen. Turns out it was an optical illusion. After unpacking our two behemoth checked soft side cases and carry-on cases, there was a place for everything. There are shelves on both sides of the bed, running from the floor to the ceiling. There's a small (at most three feet wide) closet for hanging garments with three drawers in the bottom, and a small cabin-key-lockable safe for valuables. Along with a large drawer at the foot of each side of the bed and a long shelf over the entire width of the bed, we were easily able to stow everything we brought. We were comfortable in no time. The bathroom was also "compact", especially the shower. Although the shower had terrific water pressure and nice amenities, (and I'm of "average" height/weight), every time I was in the 24" x 32" shower, I remembered the scene in the movie "Tommy Boy" when (huge) actor Chris Farley was trying to change clothes in a tiny airplane bathroom. We really had no problems getting used to our cabin at all. If there was one minus, though, it would be the slab hard foam mattresses on the hotel-style beds have not been upgraded to the same mattresses as we remembered from our other two Uniworld ships. (Note: We had supper with a couple who were seated at the Captain's table for the Captain's Welcome Aboard dinner, and they told us Baroness is headed to dry-dock in 2010 for a major facelift). We were not disappointed with any of the food in the main dining room, located on the lower level. Of course, this is always a subjective opinion, plus my wife and I aren't "foodies". By my observation, though, I never did notice anyone ordering the stand-by, always-available alternative chicken breast or steak if someone didn't want any of the menu's three main entrees at supper. To me, that's always a good sign. The generous buffet breakfasts, along with available specials-of-the-morning offerings brought by wait staff or made-to-order omelets, were excellent, and the lunch buffets had new, fresh offerings every day. The desserts were also very good. Supper portions were perfect. Between the portion sizes and daily walkabouts, my wife and I came home weighing-in just slightly less than when we left home. That's terrific. The wait staff was attentive, happy, friendly, obviously got along with each other, and were always eager to please. The included house wines with supper were nice. The ship's keyboard musician in the lounge was good, and he played until the last passenger left at night. There were local musicians also scheduled to come aboard some evenings, but when our itinerary was altered en route, (see below), the local musicians weren't able to transport themselves to meet the ship. Our week's Cruise Manager, Emmanuelle Bonneau, was absolutely splendid! We've enjoyed every one of our previous three Uniworld cruise managers, but my wife and I agreed Emmanuelle was the best. She is a perfect combination of cheerfulness, competence, helpfulness, and just a pleasing, amazing personality. All week long she had to work behind the scenes to reschedule excursions and work with local guides and bus companies to add or modify plans so we had a wonderful experience. She accomplished all of this without coming unglued and while keeping a smile on her face. Well done! Our first full day aboard (Monday) went as-planned, after the ship's departure from Paris towards Les Andelys on Sunday night. We enjoyed our morning tied up in the center of Les Andelys. It was sunny, but pretty cold and windy. (Note: Although the castle is quite a hike uphill, buses are provided for those who don't think they can make the climb. Do be advised, though, the hike back down the hill from the castle seemed very do-able. We witnessed a few passengers, who walked with canes all week, did take the bus up the hill, but made the return hike on their own, and they said they enjoyed it. You might consider that alternative if you choose to take the bus up the hill). Les Andelys was a small, sleepy village, with a nice church, but almost everything was closed as it apparently is every Monday. When we re-boarded the ship after our morning walkabout with local guides, the ship's staff gathered us all to discuss a change in itinerary. We were told the captain had learned about an imminent Seine River locks total work stoppage (aka "strike"). After weighing alternatives among the ship's senior navigation and activities staff and Uniworld headquarters, shipboard staff made a decision to not proceed up the Seine in the afternoon, going farther away from Paris to our next day's stop at Rouen. A determining factor seemed to be the Captain could not guarantee we would be able to make it back up the Seine to Paris, and through the last set of river locks before the work stoppage began. Although we were disappointed to miss Rouen and its cathedral and Christmas market, most of us agreed we wanted to be tied up in Paris for the original itinerary of four days at the end of our week, rather than being stranded somewhere between locks on the river and away from Paris. (The lock operators did indeed go on strike, so it turned out the "correct" decision to alter our original itinerary was the right one). On our way back towards Paris Monday afternoon, we stopped in a slightly larger village, Vernon. It, too, was mostly closed down because it was Monday, but it was a nice opportunity for walking about on a sunny cold afternoon, enjoying the town and its Christmas decorations. The next morning, (Tuesday), again sunny but very cold and breezy, we were tied up in the town of Conflans. It's non-official claim to fame is it's where the Seine river barges come to rest at the end of their usefulness as commercial vessels, and they become on-the-water residences. There was a newly-arranged ship's bus excursion offered to Auvers sur Oise for a two-hour walkabout, but my wife and I chose instead to enjoy our morning walking the streets of Conflans with the locals as they went about their daily shopping for their meat, vegetables, breads, and pastries. There was a small waterfront market, too, with fresh fruit and vegetables. The ship departed Conflans after lunch, and headed back towards Paris, where we tied up after supper. With the change in the week's itinerary, the on-board activities staff modified the sequence of the Paris days' excursions. We all happily accepted the Paris city tour by bus this morning, (Wednesday), with a walkabout stop at Luxembourg Garden and at Notre Dame cathedral with our local guides on another sunny but cold day. Then it was back on the bus to the ship for lunch, or as an alternative, you could stay in the city and make your way back to the ship on your own. After lunch, another set of buses dropped us off at the Arch de Triumph, and we left on our own to walk down the (luckily all downhill) length of the Champs Elysees at our own pace, and then through the Christmas markets, to Concorde Plaza, where we could meet the ship's shuttle buses back to the ship. On Thursday morning we awoke to see two-to-three inches of new-fallen snow everywhere! Although we enjoyed how Paris looked in its snow coat, a lot of those commuters into the city had a heck of a time riding their scooters. We were told Paris usually doesn't get snow this early in the season, and they certainly didn't look prepared for making the already-frozen roads any easier to get around. We boarded buses with our local guides for a non-original-itinerary trip through the Louvre. Happily, for whatever reason, the crowds at the Louvre were minimal, and it was nice to see some of the highlights in only a few hours with a terrific local guide. Of course, you can spend weeks and weeks going through the Louvre and still not see everything. After lunch, the ship provided shuttle buses into the city for a drop off at either the Trocadero Christmas market across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower, or at the Opera House and its surrounding shopping district, with return shuttles from the Opera House back to the ship before an early supper. The only "optional" excursion this week, to "The Lido" show, was offered this evening. It seemed less than half of the ship's passengers chose to join this excursion, mostly because (even at its "reduced" last-minute price) it was the Euro equivalent of more than $210 per person, including the round-trip transportation and a half-bottle of champagne during the show. The next day, the feedback we heard from some who attended wasn't all positive. Several people complained they discovered the ship's price was way out of line compared to others (not from the ship) at their table at the Lido. They did enjoy the show, though. Friday morning, overcast and grey, was lazy, with a special "brunch" provided in the dining room. Our wonderful cruise manager, Emmanuelle, gave a "France today" presentation in the lounge. The day's plan was to have the ship provide shuttle buses to Concorde Plaza again, and later return shuttles back to the ship, but the first outbound bus wasn't able to get to the ship because of the slippery roads, and had to cancel. Rather than wait thirty minutes for the next bus to arrive, my wife and I decided to adventure out on our own, and we walked to the near-by RER station. We took the "C" train to the D'Orsay Museum just five stations away, towards the Eiffel Tower. This turned out to be a good decision, as we had no problems using the RER (with tickets purchased from the ship's front desk). This was an amazing museum, inhabiting a huge beautifully restored train station. It had an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, and displays over five floors, although there were no in-service escalators or elevators in the whole museum, which meant lots of stairs. (No American ADA compliance in Paris?) Back on the ship, before supper we had the always-disappointing "disembarkation briefing" in the lounge, meaning our week was sliding towards its end point. After dark, we boarded buses with local guides for a beautiful Paris evening illuminations coach tour, with a jump-out stop at the top of the Trocadero (with very very cold temps and strong winds) to watch the Eiffel Tower twenty-minute light show. Then it was a scramble back onto a warm coach, and a continuing wonderful drive past more of the illuminated sights of Paris. A really nice evening, complemented with hot glud wine and snacks in the lounge when we got back to the ship. Saturday morning again dawned bright, sunny, and very cold. We were off on coaches with local guides on a thirty-minute drive to Versailles. Again, for whatever reason, either the time of the year or the snow and ice on the ground, the bus parking lot was almost empty. Minimal crowds, so we were able to enjoy our tour through the palace and grounds without crushing crowds of tourists. After the palace, we were provided tickets to the adjacent Royal Equestrian stables to watch a rehearsal and demonstration of dressage and quadrille, and then a walk through the stables before boarding the coaches back to the ship. The afternoon was on-your-own, but my wife and I decided to be lazy and stay on the ship, and also to begin to re-pack for our departure the next morning. We had the Captain's Farewell dinner this evening, and finally we said our good-byes to new friends we'd made during the week. Disembarkation onto buses early Sunday morning after a full buffet breakfast was uneventful, and the transfer back to CDG airport was congested but tolerable. The terminal was a complete and total zoo. Part of that might have been because of delays getting to the airport in the morning's Paris snow storm, or because of flights rescheduling from the major snow storm that had paralyzed most of the eastern seaboard in the US. There were no signs in the terminal in any language directing people to where they needed to be, and no airline representatives to be seen. There were thousands of travelers all looking as puzzled as we were, and the lines were outrageously long. We finally found the right line, and got through security and to our gate with time to spare. Once we boarded, almost an hour late, we sat at the gate awaiting several groups of delayed incoming-connection passengers and their luggage to get aboard our plane. Then our plane got in line for the de-icing stations while we watched the airport maintenance crews continue to scrape the runways. We were thankful to finally get airborne just short of three hours late, not realizing how lucky we actually were to be getting back to the US east coast at all after the previous day's debilitating heavy snows that had canceled more than 50% of the incoming and outgoing flights the day before. (If I haven't put you to sleep already with waaaaay too much detail),... In summary, we considered this cruise one of our favorites ever. No complaints. Will we cruise with Uniworld again? YES! Absolutely! I can't think of a reason why not. We liked this ship, the staff, the (modified) itinerary, our cabin, housekeeping staff, the other passengers, and the food. Were we disappointed we didn't get to see Rouen? You bet. But that happened because of something out of the control of Uniworld. Plus, now there's a good reason to go back to France to pick up the places we missed on this cruise. Bon voyage!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Wow. Wow. Wow. And wow again! We got home last night. I'm convinced cruising is THEE way to travel. MUCH preferable to flying hours into a single destination, spending a few days then flying hours back home. I read many of the ... Read More
Wow. Wow. Wow. And wow again! We got home last night. I'm convinced cruising is THEE way to travel. MUCH preferable to flying hours into a single destination, spending a few days then flying hours back home. I read many of the negative reviews and some of the positive reviews before we left and again after we returned last night. The specifics are well explored on this website, so I'll just comment on our impressions. Dining: For "budget cruisers", for free meals (i.e. included in your cruise price) you have your choice of a fun diner (Blue Lagoon), the main, double-sided buffet-style dining hall with floor to ceiling windows (Garden Cafe) and The (beautiful, elegant) Venetian for those times you want a more formal dining experience. We thought the food in each was delicious, hot and varied. The NCL-Dawn also has 4-5 "prix-fixed" restaurants...you pay $10 to $25 per person (depending upon the restaurant) and choose anything you want from the 4-6 course menu. Half the menu doesn't change and the other half changes daily. We tried Cagney's (steakhouse), Salsa (sort of Tex-Mex) and Le Bistro (French) and had delicious experiences in all three. We didn't "find" The Venetian until the last night on board, the ship is so big! Service: we didn't need to ask for much. Our room was made up and towels refreshed when we returned from breakfast. Our stateroom was freshened again while we were out for dinner and entertainment. Our coffee pot didn't work. Our steward exchanged it for another within 30 minutes of our calling for service. Another day we discovered our door had stopped locking upon closing it. We called for service, received concerned attention to it, and it was repaired by the time we returned from our excursion (shore trip). Everywhere we went on the ship, there is always someone there to bring a drink. Entertainment: was good. The entertainment IS, however, "white bread"...not very diverse except for those of Anglo, light-skinned Latin and Asian decent. There is one "watered-down" reggae band. I was surprised that not a single African-American singer, dancer, comedian was anywhere to be found. There were two on the Cruise Director's staff, but they weren't performers. Bingo Boy is silly. David Heenan, the comedian, was funny. The various singers were good. However I was most impressed with the production company of singers and dancers that did the nightly shows. The very hard-working dancer-singers were obviously ballet-trained. A different show each night. The Ballywood show was amazing considering the rocking ship could have caused an injury, yet the dancers were as acrobatic as I've seen on land. My hat is off to the Cruise Director, John. He's quite sharp and he runs a well-oiled operation, a testament to his 11 years with NCL. But he can certainly improve racial diversity amongst the entertainment. Dallas, Texas alone has world-class African American singers and dancers - they're out there...improve the recruitment process. Shore excursions: We preferred sight-seeing combined with historical information about the island. NCL offers many, many excursions in each port. But we found we could duplicate the excursions NCL offered for about 33% to 60% of the NCL price. At every port there are scores of taxi drivers that are sanctioned by the local tourist bureau just outside the Tourist Information desk area. In most cases the Tourist Info desk personnel will direct you to a specific taxi driver. The drivers have vans and some have cars. When the driver has a van, he or she will need to get at least 6-8 people to make the trip cost effective and you can pick which trip and the van you want to ride in. When the driver has a car, you get to make up your itinerary and he still narrates as you explore. We negotiated a price that covered the sights we wanted to take in, making it clear what time we wanted to return to the ship. You don't pay the driver until you get back to the ship. Though we could have done the same when we decided to enjoy the island train excursion on St Kitts, we chose to book through NCL for that one excursion. We have incredible video from our excursions on each island. Email me if you'd like our driver's cell numbers. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Our Christmas Cruise aboard the Carnival Dream was great compared to some of the other recent reviews on the Dream. No, I am not a first time cruiser either. This is my 14th cruise, the 7th Christmas Cruise and the 4th cruise on Carnival. ... Read More
Our Christmas Cruise aboard the Carnival Dream was great compared to some of the other recent reviews on the Dream. No, I am not a first time cruiser either. This is my 14th cruise, the 7th Christmas Cruise and the 4th cruise on Carnival. The ship was beautiful and reminded me of other Carnival ships, most similarly the Glory. The decor was muted for Carnival, which was a sensory respite from the "whimsical" decor on other Carnival ships. Yes, there were long lines; yes there were too many people. Yes, you can figure out ways to avoid the lines and even get a deck chair too! Embarkation at Port Canaveral is usually pain free for our family as we have a wheelchair user and get special assistance from the embarkation staff. Honestly, the special assistance that we receive at Port Canaveral from Carnival is better than any other cruise line we have used. The basic design of the ship forces one to utilize the elevators more than other ships. This can become a problem if you or someone in your party is using a wheelchair. We had two wheelchair users in our family, so we had to be a bit assertive to get the elevator space that we needed. Our cabins were traditional sized outside cabins on deck two aft. One good thing about the cabin location was that they were off of the main path and tended to be fairly quiet. Being on a lower level and in the aft can also bring excessive engine noise and vibration, but we were not surprised by this. I need to comment on the number of passengers traveling aboard the Dream on Christmas week, 4600, which is about 1000 passengers over full capacity. Due to the overflow, we were forced to eat in an overflow dining room off of the Crimson dining room. At first we were put out about this as, it felt like we were eating in the "time out" room. The main complaint about the overflow room was that the lighting was too bright and we could not see the "show" that the dining room staff put on. Other than that the food and service were equivalent to any of the other Carnival cruises we have taken. We did find that the lines in the Lido were long; however they were no longer than the lines in the Lido on the Glory during an overcrowded spring break week. The Dream does offer some options to vary the lunch experience. We enjoyed the pasta bar which was a little less hectic than the main lido. Also, burrito bar turned out to be a shortcut to the long lines in the lido. On deck 5 there was a barbecue for lunch, but we found the hamburgers to be undercooked and there were no drinks other than bar drinks available. For breakfast we enjoyed going to the Scarlet Dining Room for a full service (no line) experience. We were impressed with the quality of the wait staff during breakfast in the Scarlet Dining Room. Our favorite spot on the ship had to be the Spa. We purchased a week's pass to use the spas which included: a refreshment room, a heated tile lounge room, an aromatherapy room, an oriental steam room, a Turkish bath, and a thelassotherapy pool. This was a wonderful way to wind down each day and was definitely worth the extra cost. I mentioned getting a deck chair. If you are not one to go grab chairs at 6:30 in the morning, head to deck 5 where you will find many deck chairs, enough quiet to read a book and several hot tubs to choose from. The entertainment was excellent, particularly the lead singers and the dancers. We especially enjoyed the Tribute to Rhythm and Blues and also Dancing in the Street. A word of warning, get to the Encore Lounge early as seats fill up quickly especially for the early sitting. The quality of comedians and other entertainers varied quite a bit, some were really good and some weren't. We missed the traditional Captain's Welcome Aboard Party as they have become cheap and are now offering $1 or $2 off drinks. We did attend the Past Guest Party where the drinks and appetizers were complimentary. We enjoyed the band and the lead vocalist sang a few songs to entertain us during this party. Overall, I would book another cruise on the Dream. There were some kinks to be worked out, but in time this Dream should shine. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Embarking/Disembarking Procedures - Magnificently organised. Luggage left us at Manchester airport and was next seen in our ships cabin on arrival in Barbados. You step off the plane in Barbados, straight onto a bus, and straight to the ... Read More
Embarking/Disembarking Procedures - Magnificently organised. Luggage left us at Manchester airport and was next seen in our ships cabin on arrival in Barbados. You step off the plane in Barbados, straight onto a bus, and straight to the ship. No customs or waiting around which is great after a long flight. Return journey is very much similar. Luggage is taken from you night prior to departure and you see it next in Manchester. No customs to go through as you go straight into departure lounge. Food - Quality of a very high standard. You would pay a high price to eat in a top restaurant in England for what was served to us. Drinks - Far from cheap. A beer costs $7-13 including service charge, so if you are a budding alcoholic this is not the place for you. Top advice is to buy a soft drinks badge on arrival on board the ship, this entitles you to as much as you like in soft drinks throughout your entire cruise. Cabin - We had an inside cabin with a double bed, and although small it was comfortable for us as we had little intention in staying in the room for long periods of time. Ship - The ship is modern, comfortable with 14 decks. Staff - Very helpful and polite and can't do enpough for you Entertainment - This was the main let down for us as we found it poor in quality, dated (aimed mainly at the wrinkly's)and amateurish. How some of the entertainers pasted auditions is beyond belief. Conclusion - We had a magnificent time and would do it again. Everything was not perfect, but we visited some magnificent places, was looked after by the staff and ate like Kings. This holiday is a bargain. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
CHRISTMAS ONBOARD EURODAM. BACKGROUND INFORMATION. We are a party of three well-traveled individuals; DH and DW (60) and DS (20), who have chosen ms Eurodam for our Christmas cruise with Holland America Line. Previously, we have sailed ... Read More
CHRISTMAS ONBOARD EURODAM. BACKGROUND INFORMATION. We are a party of three well-traveled individuals; DH and DW (60) and DS (20), who have chosen ms Eurodam for our Christmas cruise with Holland America Line. Previously, we have sailed on 13 cruises with Holland America Line, Cunard Line, Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises, and Carnival Cruise Line. To date, Cunard Line has provided an experience that bests suits our needs while cruising. We have discovered that Holland America Line offers a very close second among the cruise lines we have experienced. Please keep in mind this is a review of our experience compared to the other mainstream cruise lines, not luxury lines such as Crystal. This was our second cruise on the Eurodam; the first was in March, 2009. EURODAM 7-DAY SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN. We elected to sail on the December 19, 2009 sailing of Eurodam from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Ports of call included Oranjestad, Aruba and Willemstad, Curaçao. The itinerary included three sea days, with a fourth unplanned sea day due to a missed port call at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. PRE-CRUISE. Before departure, we stayed for three nights at the Hyatt Place Hotel on 10th Avenue and 17th Street. The hotel was satisfactory and provided on-site parking for $10 per day. We required a room change one night due to noisy neighbors, and were thus credited $70 for a week of free parking. This was more than sufficient compensation, as the problem we encountered was not the fault of the hotel. The customer service representatives at the Front Desk were very understanding and helped us move to our new room. We were also accommodated when we requested a room on the rear of the hotel to view the cruise ships in the morning. We spent our evenings out, strolling and dining along the famous Las Olas Boulevard. Due to a snowstorm in the northeast, at least 27 parties missed our departure in Fort Lauderdale, and either met up with the ship in Aruba or cancelled entirely. We recommend that any travel to the port of embarkation be completed a least one day before the cruise. EMBARKATION PROCESS. Our party arrived at the Holland America Line terminal, pier 26, at 10:15am. After giving our baggage to a porter, the check-in process took less than 20 minutes. This was one of the most efficient embarkation processes we have experienced to date. Guests were quickly directed through security to a preliminary waiting room, then to the check-in desks in the main terminal. After completing the H1N1 and Norovirus questionnaire, we were issued boarding group numbers and preceded to the upstairs waiting room. Cookies, coffee and apple cider were served by wait staff in the terminal. Ship ID photos were taken at the check-in desk rather than at a separate checkpoint. We were onboard Eurodam by 11:15am. It has always been our preference to arrive at the cruise terminal early to avoid the long lines and delays that affect guests who arrive in the afternoon: we take a taxi to the port and decline free hotel shuttles. The lifeboat drill was help at 4:15pm on deck three. For the first time ever we were ordered not to bring or wear our lifejackets to the drill. This is due to "safety reasons," so I am sure that a slip and fall lawsuit is to blame. SHIP CONDITION. The Eurodam is less than two years old and is in excellent condition. The crew is constantly polishing the brass accents in the atrium, the stairways and in elevator lobbies. The carpets in the elevator lobbies did not show excessive wear or appear to be water spotted as on some ships, but looked a bit more tiresome than they did in March. EURODAM DEMOGRAPHICS. Upon embarkation, we noticed that the passenger makeup for our cruise included many families, multigenerational groups, single travelers and couples both young and young and heart. About 150 minors were also present on our cruise. Holland America Line is not a party cruise line, and is known for catering to more mature, well-traveled individuals. If you are seeking a very young, very active passenger demographic, Royal Caribbean International might suit your needs better than Holland America Line. SHIPBOARD DÉCOR. The Eurodam is one classy ship! Second to the Queen Mary 2, Eurodam is the classiest ship we have sailed on. The dEcor surpasses any Princess or Royal Caribbean ship. The atrium is very quaint and intimate, providing a feeling of exclusivity. It is nice to experience a small; three level atrium, rather than the usual eleven-story monstrosity found on megaships. Fresh flowers are placed all around the ship in large, stunning arrangements and in small bowls on tables in the public rooms. Red poinsettias adorned the tables in the Lido Restaurant in place of the typical orchids. Plants could also be found in the elevator lobbies and by the Lido Pool; where two small olive trees have been added since March. We could immediately smell fresh flowers upon embarkation, something we did not even notice on the QM2. The furniture onboard was elegant, although some chairs, especially those in the atrium, lacked proper lumbar support. We were glad to see the absence of neon lighting and flashy Vegas-style dEcor. The Silk Den lounge and the Crow's Nest provide great views and are furnished with interesting dEcor and wonderful lighting fixtures. Eurodam gets top marks for the easy layout, pleasant dEcor and classy ambiance. ACCOMMODATIONS. Our stateroom was large and functional. Everything that was provided had a purpose. Stateroom corridors open at 1:30pm on embarkation day. The armed reading lights by the bed provide wonderful ambiance lights in the evening. Our stateroom was number 5072, a VE grade deluxe veranda stateroom. The cabin had a small sofa with accent pillows that doubled as the third passenger berth. The bedding exceeded our expectations, as it did in March. The mattress was rather firm, which we prefer. Given the bathtub, the bathroom was larger than those found in similar grade cabins on Royal Caribbean and Princess ships. Convenient was the magnet positioned opposite the bathroom door, which allows the door to be held open to walk in and out. The cabinets above the sofa were very useful for the storage of laptop bags, towels and souvenirs. The wicker basket provided in the closet was perfect for storing socks. The balcony was sufficient and offered two chairs, an ottoman and a small table. The lifeboats are positioned one deck below deck five, but did not obstruct any views. As always, we used Lysol to clean the cabin upon embarkation. We pre-ordered a plate of chocolate covered strawberries and the Christmas "Snowman and Drum" floral arrangement to be delivered to the cabin. Both gifts were in the stateroom upon arrival, and both exceeded our expectations. CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS. Holland America Line truly put their best foot forward to make this Christmas cruise very memorable. Upon entering the ship, Christmas garland and colorful ornaments adorned the railings in the Atrium Lobby. The ship's primary Christmas tree was also located in the Atrium, and was very well done. Captain Mercer held a tree lighting ceremony on embarkation day at 7pm. This was a very festive way to begin the cruise. The lamps found on the end tables in the public rooms were decorated with seasonal greens and red ribbons: a very nice touch. Additionally, garlands and ornaments adorned the pillars in the Rembrandt Dining Room. Poinsettias were also placed in the dining room, and elsewhere around the ship. Gingerbread houses were showcased in the Explorers Lounge and at both entrances to the Rembrandt Dining Room. Additional Christmas trees were placed in the Ocean Bar, the Mainstage Theatre, in the Exploration's Cafe and in the Crow's Nest Lounge. A festive wreath was placed on every stateroom door, and candy canes were made available at the Front Office and in the Exploration's Cafe. These were nice Christmas touches that we did not find on our Princess and Royal Caribbean Christmas cruises. Special Christmas menus were provided at dinner for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Seasonal favorites included Italian Seafood Penne, English Roasted Prime Rib, Braised Pheasant, Slow-Roasted Christmas Turkey, Orange Glazed Ham, Plum Pudding, Pecan Pie, French Yule Log, and Eggnog Ice Cream. Christmas cookies were served with coffee and tea. Red and green ribbons were draped over the tables in both the Rembrandt Dining Room and the Lido Restaurant on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. CHRISTMAS FESTIVITIES. Christmas carols were sung in the atrium on Christmas Eve, preceding the evening's production show. We have come to the conclusion that Holland America Line likes to clean up confetti, because it was used at so many onboard events. At 11:00pm, the Holiday Concert Choir showcased Christmas traditions in the United States, the Philippines, and in Indonesia. This was truly a wonderful experience. The Holland America Line singers and Dancers also sang traditional Christmas carols. Midnight Mass was offered for Catholic guests, followed by the Taste of the Nations Street Fair. This street fair consisted of traditional foods from the Netherlands, China, and Mexico, and stretched all the way from the Mainstage Theatre to the Explorers Lounge on Deck two. Interdenominational services and Jewish celebrations were also available during the cruise. Santa arrived on Christmas morning in the Mainstage theater bringing gifts for all the children. Captain Mercer made several announcements on Christmas morning to update the children of an unidentified object spotted on radar. Christmas Day was as beautiful as ever, with still, blue water, light breezes and plentiful sunshine. Champagne was offered at Christmas Dinner, and Eggnog was offered at the Christmas show. Holland America Line did so much for Christmas, and it was truly, truly memorable. If you desire a Christmas cruise with all the festivities and trimmings, Holland America is your best bet. ONBOARD HOLIDAY SPECIALS. Due to the Christmas holiday, Internet service was offered at $8.25 for 15 minutes. Grey Goose Martinis were also offered at $3.75. Onboard bookings or 2010 Christmas cruises received $500 onboard credit and a bottle of free champagne. REMBRANDT DINING ROOM. The quality of the food served in the Rembrandt Dining Room was excellent. The service was also very good. We chose the late 8pm seating for dinner, and were accompanied by delightful dinner companions. Our dining room steward and assistance dining room steward always smiled, and provided good service. We were served faster on some nights than on others, but we made up for it with interesting conversation. The overall dining experience was very similar to that in March, but we noticed some differences. Several of the menu items have been renamed, but consisted of the same entrEe. For example, the Island Pepper Pot Soup is now Caribbean Pepper Pot Soup. Some highlights of the dining experience include the following, and are not to be missed: Filet of Beef Wellington, Sweet Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella, Oven Roasted Beef Tenderloin, Pina Colada Crème Brule, Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast and of course the lobster and escargots. Unfortunately, the French onion soup, which is available daily, did not have as much melted cheese as it did in March, and some of the Dinner rolls were stale at times. One should not compare the Rembrandt Dining Room to world-class luxury restaurants, but you will definitely enjoy the food and service onboard Eurodam. The Maitre'D never once came over to our table begging for a tip, and bar service was unobtrusive, yet available. We enjoy San Pellegrino water with dinner, and a bottle was always close by for our consumption. Our waiters were friendly, but did not call us by name as they did in March. It is rather hit and miss, in our opinion, to be booked into a section of the dining room with the best dining steward team. On some cruises, you may be lucky to have the best team, and on others, you may have a less than perfect team. These situations need to be taken with understanding and need not ruin one's cruise. The chairs were dressed in white linen on formal nights providing a more upscale atmosphere. The YumYum man was always stationed outside the dining room providing figs, dates and candied ginger, another very nice touch. When compared to the dining experience on other mainstream cruise ships, such as Royal Caribbean and Princess, Eurodam earns top marks. DRESS CODE ADHERENCE. A sign was always posted at the entrance to the dining room reminding guests of the evening's dress code. Although we did not specifically look for fellow passengers out of dress code, the majority of passengers adhered on the formal nights. Almost all men wore tuxedos or dark suits on formal night, and ladies wore dresses or formal attire. We did not notice shorts or jeans in the dining room during smart casual nights, but again, we were not specifically looking for these infractions. Overall, we feel that the majority of guests adhered property to the dress code. We feel that a classy cruise liner deserves proper dress in the evenings out of tradition and ambiance for fellow travelers. One interesting note: Christmas Day was a third formal night, even though it was the last night of the cruise. Usually, seven night cruises have only two formal nights. THE PINNACLE GRILL RESTAURANT. We did not dine in the Pinnacle Grill Restaurant because the Rembrandt Dining Room suited our needs. Next time, if the cruise is longer than seven nights, we will try the Pinnacle Grill. We have eaten in the specially restaurants on Royal Caribbean (Chops Grill and Portofino) and Princess (Bayou Cafe and Sabatini's) and found that the food and service in the Rembrandt dining room to be on par with these restaurants, with just less frill and more manageable food portions. LIDO RESTAURANT BUFFET. The Lido Restaurant was just as impressive as that on Queen Mary 2. In fact, the layout was easier to manage, and the food selection was very comparable. During peak dining times it was necessary for one person in our party to sit at a table while the others got food. This has been the case on most of our cruises and does not bother us for that reason. There is hustle and bustle in every lido restaurant on every mainstream cruise ship, and this simply must be accepted if you choose to use the venue. Waiters were always pouring glasses of water and iced tea so that guests only needed to walk up to the station and grab a drink. Beverage carts were also pushed around the Lido Restaurant, like on Princess Cruises. The coffee was decent, and a variety of Bigelow Teas is available. During breakfast, freshly squeezed orange juice, cranberry juice, guava juice, pineapple juice, apple juice, V-8 juice, lemonade and a few others were available for free, a welcomed touch that not even the QM2 provides. These juices are pre-poured and can be found in refrigerated cases in the center of the Lido Restaurant. Trays have been removed from the Lido Restaurant since March to cut down on food waste. While inconvenient, it just means an extra trip to get beverages and a fruit bowl. All entrEes were put on your plate behind the counter, and were handed to you at the end of the line. This seemed to promote onboard health and quicken the process, as the lines move at a very decent speed. In our opinion, these are premium touches not found on Royal Caribbean, Princess, or similar cruise lines. Glasses and proper dishes were used in the Lido, along with proper spoons for stirring coffee; not plastic or wooden substitutes. Not even on the QM2 were proper spoons provided at the coffee station and a receptacle for used spoons and used sugar packets. Food quality and taste in the Lido Restaurant was excellent. A main entrEe line was available for lunch each day in addition to an international station that changed daily. The Japanese day was fantastic, and the sushi was very good. For breakfast, the made to order pancakes, waffles and berry compote were very nice. We were very impressed with the Lido food for a casual lunch or breakfast. Pizza is located on the aft deck and a grill is located by the midships pool. We did not find time to eat at Canaletto or Tamarind. GENERAL ONBOARD SERVICE. The general service onboard was very good to excellent. Our cabin steward always called us by our last name, or addressed that we were staying in "72," referencing our cabin number. Something as simple as remembering your name really makes a difference. The crew always spoke in cabin corridors and in elevators. It is amazing how much of a difference this made in our cruise experience. On some of our other cruises, excluding the Queen Mary 2 and one of our Princess Cruises, crewmembers rarely spoke or smiled. We found the crew to be very friendly and helpful, always smiling and asking how our day was. This is not Ritz Carlton service, but excellent mainstream cruise ship service. Especially on Christmas, the crew were very talkative, and asked about our Christmas traditions and shared information about their families. PORTS OF CALL. Unfortunately, we could not go ashore in Half Moon Cay due to severe erosion on the beach. Eighteen-foot waves caused damage to the island the previous week, making it uninhabitable by a ship full of passengers. We enjoyed the island in March, and noted that it was nicer than Labadee or Princess Cays. We received a glass of champagne at dinner, a letter from the captain and reimbursement for our port charges as compensation for the missed port. Due to the early departure, we arrived early at Oranjestad, Aruba. We went shopping in the morning and enjoyed time at Eagle Beach and the La Cabana Hotel during the afternoon. We do not gamble, and did not visit any of the casinos. We loved Willemstad, Curaçao for its historic city and colorful pastel buildings. The Eurodam docked inside the floating bridge, right in the city center. We walked across the floating bridge, an experience in itself due to rough seas in the harbor, and spent time at the Renaissance Hotel. The entrance and departure in Curaçao is among the most picturesque in the Caribbean, similar to an arrival in Sorrento, Italy. Curaçao was the highlight of our cruise. WEATHER AND SEA CONDITIONS. Among our thirteen cruises, this Southern Caribbean cruise was our smoothest sailing to date. Unlike our previous cruise on the Eurodam, we rarely, if ever, felt the ship move. We learned that calm seas are characteristic of the deep Southern Caribbean and the sea to the west of the Bahama Islands. Last March, on the Easter Caribbean itinerary, which cruises the unprotected waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Eurodam was affected by 15-foot waves for the entire cruise. It was a nice change to never feel motion, but I must admit, we missed the excitement of a rough evening at sea. The outside air temperature was consistently between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit for the entire cruise, and the sun was always shining. ENTERTAINMENT AND SHOWTIME. The two production shows, Nightlife and In Concert, were very good, but we missed having three full production shows as we did in March. Holland America Line isn't known for the best production shows at sea, but the Holland America singers were better than on many cruises. Some of the songs performed at the productions shows included Let Me Entertain You by Robbie Williams, Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones, Piano Man by Billy Joel, Candle in the Wind by Elton John, What'd I Say by Ray Charles, Because You Loved Me by CEline Dion, Yesterday by Paul McCartney, Who Loves You by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, I Saw Her Standing There by The Beatles, The Darkest Hour by Dwight Yoakam, The Music of the Night by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Con Te Partiro by Andrea Bocelli, You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban, If I Could Turn Back Time by Cher, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy by Bette Midler, You Don't Bring Me Flowers by Barbra Streisand, Proud Mary by Tina Turner, All You Need is Love by The Beatles and many, many more. On other cruises we noticed that the singers did not always wear microphones, but it was obvious on this cruise that the four singers sang all of these songs without lip-syncing. The shows are more reserved than Carnival or Royal Caribbean, and are more along the lines of Princess Cruises. Focus is put on the show in its entirety, not on a costume change every five minutes. Other entertainment included late night comedian Chris Alpine, Las Vegas Magician James Cielen and Italian vocalist Vincent Talarico. Holland America Line actually hires professional entertainers, not the traditional headliner magician or juggler like other cruise lines. Magician James Cielen was incredible, and lives with his wife and two sons onboard the Eurodam. He has two dogs and several birds that also live onboard which he uses in his magic show. The entertainment was very well rounded with something for everyone. A final show included a wrap up of the entertainment offerings, which was a nice look back through the week. The piano bar was just as lively as it was in March, however the piano was too loud for us and often masked the singing of piano man Les. The HAL Cats were great as well, considering we are used to a horrible poolside reggae band that doesn't know how to sing or play music. The entertainment on HAL is very refreshing! SHIP SIZE. We love the size of the Eurodam. We think that ships of 85,000 GRT are perfect, as they are large enough to include all the amenities of the large ships, but with fewer passengers. We have not yet sailed on ships the size of the non-vista HAL ships, so we can't compare the big ship experience with the small ship experience. However, there were hardly ever lines or crowds on the ship. Elevators we always a minute or two away, and the only obviously busy space onboard was the Lido Restaurant. It was never hard to find a lounger in the sun, since we went to the top deck by the funnels. It was a bit harder to find a poolside seat, but tables by the pool were usually available. It was also nice that the ship is small enough that pool towels are made available on the pool deck and headphones are complementary in the gym; two items strictly controlled on megaships. Eurodam is the perfect size because you don't get exhausted walking from the forward to the aft elevator lobby like on some ships. SMOKING POLICY. The guests who chose to smoke onboard were very considerate of Holland America's smoking policy. With the exception of the casino and the piano bar, we did not notice the smell of cigarette smoke in the public rooms. Also, we did not notice the smell of cigarette or cigar smoke on our balcony. As we received in March, Holland America distributed a smoking questionnaire with the comment forms on the last day of the cruise. The questionnaire simply asks if we would cruise with HAL again, should smoking be prohibited onboard. DISEMBARKATION PROCESS. Holland America is the first cruise line we have experienced that allows you to choose when you disembark. Never before have we been able to request a specific time to leave the ship without doing self-disembarkation. We signed up for the 9:00-9:30am silent disembarkation time, had a leisurely breakfast, relaxed in the cabin until 9:15am and then exited the ship. The process was fool proof and easy, and much better than calling colors and numbers all morning long. CAPTAIN JONATHAN MERCER. Captain Jonathan Mercer was excellent. He is extremely professional and is ever-present in the public areas of the ship. He travels with his wife, who also mingles with the passengers and crew. We have never seen a more visible captain onboard any cruise ship. CRUISE DIRECTOR J.T. WATTERS. Cruise director J.T. Watters is unobtrusive and very good at directing onboard activities. He is the youngest cruise director in the Holland America fleet at age 24. He kept announcements to a minimum, only addressing the ship after the captain's daily 1pm announcement and to announce shore side clearance by local officials. THE BOTTOM LINE. We loved our trip on the Eurodam, and the value of the cruise could not be beat. This cruise was one of our most enjoyable vacations ever, and was also one of the most inexpensive cruises we have taken. We always travel with an open mind, not expecting the Ritz Carlton, but not expecting the Hampton Inn either. Eurodam satisfied our needs for a Christmas cruise on a mass market/premium cruise line. It is obvious that Holland America Line is not a luxury line, but HAL does provides some special touches that make you feel like more than just a number. If you enjoy a more mature, well-traveled passenger makeup with only about one hundred minors, this is a cruise line for you. We don't generally participate in scheduled activities to keep busy on a cruise, so we were very pleased with our relaxing trip on the Eurodam. We highly recommend the Eurodam to anyone wanting a quieter; more refined mass market/premium cruise experience. There is a huge difference between a cruise ship with a 3,700 guests, a rock climbing wall and an ice skating rink, and a cruise ship with a 2,000 guests, a intimate lobby and quaint public rooms. We will definitely sail with Holland America Line again! CONTACT INFORMATION. Please feel free to direct questions or comments to qm2cruiser@hotmail.com. This inbox is checked weekly. We are more than happy to answer any questions or provide any additional information about our Eurodam cruise, or about any of our other cruises. Thank you for reading! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
My family and I (11 of us) spent 12/19 - 12/26 on the 3rd cruise on the new Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas. It was simply amazing. This cruise was the 14th that we have taken, mostly on RCC. Not to bore anyone with info that they can ... Read More
My family and I (11 of us) spent 12/19 - 12/26 on the 3rd cruise on the new Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas. It was simply amazing. This cruise was the 14th that we have taken, mostly on RCC. Not to bore anyone with info that they can read on the RCC website but most days on the ship, you would be very hard pressed to believe that you were on a cruise ship. We had dinner at Chops one night (which was fantastic). Chops is on the deck with the Central Park which is to the sky. Sitting is Chops, we looked out the window and saw trees, bushes, and flowers blowing in the wind....increadible. This is a ship where the ports really don't matter because you really don't need to get off the ship. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze. We carried our luggage off and from our room to the car, going through Customs, wasn't even 10 minutes. Also, the only line of the ship that I ever saw was for Bingo. In short, the Oasis has reset the bar for cruising. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
It was with a lot of trepidation that we booked an Xmas cruise on SeaDream this year. We are not cruise people, we like sophisticated, unpredictable travel. We don't like things to be safe, and canned and sanitized. We decided to give ... Read More
It was with a lot of trepidation that we booked an Xmas cruise on SeaDream this year. We are not cruise people, we like sophisticated, unpredictable travel. We don't like things to be safe, and canned and sanitized. We decided to give it a go because we spend the holidays with my mother every year and this year she had foot surgery that made more active trips unpractical. It was a strictly on-off event that we were going to take with a grain of salt. Boy, did we get a surprise. It turned out to be the most perfect and relaxing family holiday we have ever taken. So much so that we rebooked before getting off the ship something we have never done in any of our other travels. We cruised the Caribbean (and some fairly uninteresting islands they turned out to be, if you compare these destinations to some of the places we have been in South America, Asia and Africa, but the mix of the other guests, the out-of-the-world staff (sweet, efficient, genuine), the understated 'rightness' of the ship's appointments, the very very good food and drinks all contrived to make the trip unforgettable and completely addictive. We have been in touch with the other passengers we clicked with and they too are similarly bereft at being back in their real life. We all want to dream on. This is really the only way I could ever imagine going on a cruise even though other lines have clearly more interesting routes and more route variety. Next trip for us will be the Med from Dubrovnik to Istanbul. You always read people gushing about their trips and one can't help being skeptical but this is one time when I feel my superlatives really don't do the experience justice. Go! Find out for yourself!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Traveling as a young couple in our late 20's with no children the Nooradam had an interesting mix of people onboard. In general we love the cruise, and enjoyed the attentive & friendly staff. Since it was a Holiday Christmas ... Read More
Traveling as a young couple in our late 20's with no children the Nooradam had an interesting mix of people onboard. In general we love the cruise, and enjoyed the attentive & friendly staff. Since it was a Holiday Christmas cruise every public space had a Christmas tree decorated, holiday cookies in the dinning rooms, carolers and even Santa came to visit for the kids! :) Population Mix for our trip: I have to say approximately 70% of the people were singles/couples between the ages of 55-85, Couples/Familys age 30-45 & children ages 7-16 were approx 20% and finally young couples like us were very rare. The only ones we saw/met were honeymooners. OnBoard & First Day: We flew the day of (it was smooth traveling but stressful & probably wont fly day of again) and arrived in FLL airport at about 12noon, we took a cab to the port (about 2 miles) which cost $18 total for both of us. We had no wait, and literally walked through each check-in area, which took about 10-15 min maybe at most? had our picture taken, ID card given, and headed straight to Lido Deck for some lunch. Ship was due to sail at 5pm (all aboard 4pm). We originally booked an inside room (I think N or M?) as "GUAR" (meaning no assigned room #) since it was cheaper. On our first day upon checkin, we got bumped-up to an obstructed view outside cabin GG... much larger & nicer than our original room. I was so Exciting! Located in the middle of the ship on deck 4 which worked out wonderfully. Even though it was obstructed by the lifeboats, it had floor to ceiling windows looking out over the lifeboat/water, the good part was it was the kind of lifeboat they used to transport passengers to and from Halfmoon Cay... so it had windows on it which you could then look through & see the water. Also on Grand Turk & HalfMoon Cay they were lowered and removed either for drills or transportation... so we had a full floor to ceiling view of the islands! I will always book middle of the ship from now on it was Great!! The only downside was, since we were upgraded, we didnt receive our luggage until about 3-4pm, also we got the other couples luggage but they came by to get it...since they figured it must have been sent to their old room # (now ours) oh and they got bumped-up to a balcony! Cabin: Larger than I expected, with 3 floor to ceiling closets, vanity/makeup area, hairdryer, fridge, robes, flat screen tv, dvd player, free roomservice, small table & couch. Everything an upscale hotel would have. Located deck 4 midship, it was just steps to the elevator. The room was quiet, but you could hear the faint sound of music... but i had no trouble & I'm a light sleeper. Daily Activities: They had 3-4 categories, Culinary arts focused (wine tasting, mixology, cooking sessions), Daily Events (Exercise, yoga, ping pong challenge, belly flop, and Trivia with prizes), Technology information sessions (how to send pictures, setup website, make videos), Spa related, or the Evening Show. Food: Lots of options, but we liked Lido deck with its typical buffet style dinning, although it was difficult to find seating, the waitstaff was lighting fast in turning the tables for the next person. The food was very good. Vista Dining room was more upscale typical fine dinning restaurant. We went to lunch at Lido and dinner at Vista every day and loved it. We opted out of the Pinnacle Grill due to the cost,and we wanted something more relaxed. Vista Dinning room also had afternoon tea around 3-4, which had the best desserts on the ship! Ports: Grand Turk, San Juan, St.Thomas, Half Moon Cay Grand Turk, was still destroyed from the Hurricane, so the only really nice area was the small shopping area & Margarita-ville directly off the ship. Also we choose Governors beach to swim & snorkle, the water is crystal clear even though It rained the day we were there. The people are very nice & I felt safe. I would not visit again only due to destruction & lack of things to do. San Juan, 4 cruise ships were in dock the same day. It was a beautiful sunny day, we took the free trolley around old San Juan and visited the old forts. Great Day! Although vendors product pushers were directly off the ship the Police were everywhere to keep things in order. I would visit again & maybe go further inland to rain forest or beaches (with a group of people) St.Thomas, Beautiful! we went shopping, and took a local tour around the island. The landscape is just breathtaking! Would come here every trip :) HalfMoon Cay, cute small island, their developing it nicely. Its strictly a beach day, so not much else to do besides swimming and watersports. They have a great Free BBQ. The water is a beautiful teal color but not clear enough to snorkel. Overall I loved the trip, will definitely cruise again... but I might choose another ship with a slightly younger crowed :) Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We are a family of five that traveled on the holiday cruise from December 19-26 and had a great time on the ship. We love to travel- our 2 kids are 20 and 14. Last year was a cruise on the Disney Wonder, this year the Carnival Dream. The ... Read More
We are a family of five that traveled on the holiday cruise from December 19-26 and had a great time on the ship. We love to travel- our 2 kids are 20 and 14. Last year was a cruise on the Disney Wonder, this year the Carnival Dream. The embarkation process was easy and fast, we arrived at 11am and by 11:30am we were on board. The buffet was crowded but not unbearable, the buffet had a variety of food and very tasty. At 1:30pm our room was ready. My husband and I were in a spa balcony room on deck 12- our 2 kids and mother were next door also in a spa balcony cabin. Both cabins on the spa deck were amazing, nice size, well worth the money. The beds were so soft and cozy. With the spa room came a few spa perks, so we spent a lot of time there and our 14 year old son loved the gym. The spa deck has only 20 rooms so the deck was peaceful, the rooms came with robes and slippers that we wore from our room to the spa "very convenient." My husband and I had breakfast, brunch and dinner in the Scarlet dining room the food was delicious and the service was above par. Anything we wanted our server was happy to take care of us, he even brought us many different types' of desserts to taste. Our table sat 10 so we had shared the table with a wonderful family of 5. We looked forward every night to meet up with them at dinner. The kids ordered room service every morning and at night for a snack and their order arrived every time within 30 minutes. We ate at the buffet and the grill a couple times and did find the lines long but the lines went fairly fast. The pizza, hamburger and fries were worth the wait. We liked the entertainment the comedians, ventriloquist and the show Dancing in the Streets were pretty good for a cruise. The lead female singer did seem like she would yell into the mike when she sang- it annoyed me but what do you expect? It's a cruise not Broadway! The ports we visited were beautiful and fun. Booking shore excursions from the ship were expensive. So, before our trip I searched the ports. St. Thomas we took a taxi to Coral World. We swam with sharks and with 300lb green sea turtles "Duncan and Tortuga." The beach water there was crystal clear blue. A little cold but clean and crowd free with many varieties of fish for snorkeling. St. Maarten a local told us to try Coki beach. The beach was at a resort which no cruise ship tourist seems to know about. There were maybe 30 people there. The cost was $5.00 for a chair and umbrella. At the beach they gave us towels we used the showers and (internet $3.00 for 15 minutes,) shopped and ate lunch. The beach was beautiful we snorkeled in the clear blue water. At the resort they have a pet parrot named "Gizmo." This bird talked was very friendly and loved our boy. We did notice a bad smell near the miniature golf area and trying to find and empty lounge chair during the day was impossible. But many chairs were available evenings to watch the laser show or the movie on deck. Overall, this was a great cruise for us. I'm usually hard to please but I loved this cruise- we all loved the Carnival Dream and we will be back next December... Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Background Info: This was my 7th Cruise and first official cruise with Princess but we are Captains Circle members due to a previous cruise with Sitmar in 1984, and they were taken over by Princess. Our other cruises were on NCL, RCI and ... Read More
Background Info: This was my 7th Cruise and first official cruise with Princess but we are Captains Circle members due to a previous cruise with Sitmar in 1984, and they were taken over by Princess. Our other cruises were on NCL, RCI and Carnival, so I will make comparisons where I see fit. Travel: We used the Cruise Air and from Winnipeg so the air travel is the day prior with a forced overnight hotel. We got our flights around 6 weeks prior with Northwest, with one stop in MSP en-route. The flight times were excellent and not going east protected us from the major snow storms that caused many to miss the departure. Hotel: The Marriot North is a little off the beaten path but after a long day of travel it has everything you need to rest up before the cruise. There are many restaurants just a few short blocks from the hotel and I understand that the hotel will even provide a complimentary shuttle. Transfer to Port & Embarkation: The Princess rep met us in the hotel lobby after 11AM and gave us the new health questionnaire that must be filled out declaring that you are not actively ill. This is a new procedure to me that attempts to eliminate passengers from bringing illnesses into confined spaces. The bus left at 12 noon and after the 15 min bus ride we were at the port. Embarkation went very fast and if it wasn't for a couple of passengers, that happened to be in my line, who hadn't filled out their on-line boarding pass info, we would have been on board in less than 15 minutes. My suggestion to Princess would be if someone arrives without their ship boarding info completed, they should send them to another table or computer terminal to complete it rather that holding up the line. Ruby Princess: The ship is stunning and very tastefully decorated. It follows a more traditional promenade, lido & sun deck design, with the Grand Piazza as a gathering spot. It can be more confusing to navigate compared to the RCI ships with the multi-story Royal Promenade. It was comical to see the looks on people's faces when they suspect then realize they are going the wrong way. My suggestion here is for Princess to have the hair of their Sea Witch always trailing to the rear. We had a BD balcony for ourselves and an inside JJ with twin beds for the boys across the hall. Both rooms were spacious enough and I liked the open closet layout that eliminated always having to open another door. The washroom was compact but efficient. This was our first experience with the tiered balcony's that you look down on from Baja. Caribe deck rooms are the same size and the balcony is twice the size, with half covered and half exposed. Dolphin deck has the mini-suites and their deck is fully exposed so if you plan on "hanging out" on your balcony sans clothing you had better request a robe. Public Rooms: All lounges and dining facilities were tastefully decorated and well staffed. Club Fusion and Explorers Lounge had similar entertainment of singing, dancing and smaller comedy games/acts. Crooners Lounge was the main piano bar and Heather was an excellent classical pianist and singer. I found that the ship needed another piano bar or guitar player that was less formal and interacted more in a sing-a-long way. The Pianos in both Crooners and Adagio (at the back by Sabatini's) was at the end of the room more like a performance, rather than an interactive intimate setting. The Piano Bars I have experienced on all other cruise lines were more interactive and fun. The Wheelhouse bar also had some jazz type performances and maybe this could also be another venue for raw sing-a-long pub style entertainment. Skywalkers night club, at the top of the ship, is where the late night DJ music happens but when I say late night it doesn't really get going until after 11PM and then some. Princess Theatre and Shows: When I first walked in I was looking around to see how the balcony opened up but there was none. While waiting in there for the tenders I found out that it held about 850 people so for a ship of 3200 + passengers they have to run the production shows over 2 nights for everyone to have an opportunity to view it. Their two production shows Broadway Ballroom and Once Upon a Dream, were very well done. The singers and dancers were some of the best I've seen and the shows were awesome. The special effects used for once upon a dream projects the sets onto movable walls, providing great flexibility and eliminates the need to store large sets. The other Comedians, Hypnotists', Jugglers, Singes helped to pass the time. We didn't catch all the games because we were just too busy. Pool Decks: I saw the sanctuary area but don't go for the pay and pay as you go cruising. You could still use the pool in that area that has the swim against the flow feature and it was very refreshing. The aft pool was a protected and enforced adult pool. The chair hogs were out in force around the main pool and around the MUTS pool. I really wish they would develop a system of marking vacant seats and removing the personal belongings that get more sun than their owners. Some people have take to removing items on their own and taking the vacant seats. This is a universal problem to all ships as I do not think the cruise lines like the idea of confrontation with the passengers. Dining: We opted for traditional First Seating in Botticelli Dining Room. I like the fact that they now offer the option for Anytime Dining but I miss the elaborate multi floor open dining rooms found on RCI and CCL. There are many options for snacking from Pizza and Burgers on the pool deck to the nice selection of salads, sandwiches and treats at the international cafe. The international cafe needs to set up line cues for the busier times as people come from all directions and it is difficult for the servers to keep track of who is next in line. Like the chair hogs, some people feel they have a sense of entitlement and that their time is more important than anyone else's. I also found the Sushi bar very confusing because they have it so far back into the Vines Wine bar they make it intimidating for you to approach the counter without feeling you have to sit down and order a drink. Service: This was fine everywhere and we did not experience the up-selling pressure that others have complained about. Our Waiter and Asst Waiter Surrey and Don kept us entertained and fed. Elmar our stateroom attendant was the ultimate ghost who got everything done without you knowing he is there. Ports and shore Excursions: I really liked doing the time change when leaving and returning to FLL. It helped keep us on local time and I never missed a sunset prior to first seating. Antigua: Went on our own to Dickenson's Bay at Sneaky Pete's for cab fare and chair rental. Barbados: Our shipwreck & turtle snorkelling with the ship was cancelled and we went to the beach at the Boat Yard that includes chairs, a drink and a shuttle back to the ship, all for $ 10 pp. St Lucia: We did the best of St Lucia Land and Sea and highly recommend it. The tour was awesome as were the guides who spent the better part of their Christmas Day catering to our every whim. St Kitts: Went to Ziggy's on S. Frigates Bay for a great day on the beach. St Thomas: Did the Ship Discover SCUBA at Coki Beach. This was a PADI sponsored tour that was well run with the correct balance of briefings and dive time. They also had the option of purchasing an HD Video of your dive for $ 60. Since it was the first dive for me and the boys we got it and the picture and sound quality was to a high standard. Thank goodness you don't have to get up early to go through customs like you used to prior to leaving the ship. Princess Cays: They have a spectacular set up that would be perfect if it were not for the tendering process. The fact that they use their life boats to tender assures you they work but they really bob around like corks with only a moderate chop. I feel sorry for the poor guy who got soaked because the front window was not properly sealed. Disembarkation: This was by far the best experience we have had for all the cruises. We had the proper tags and were directed to a lounge to wait to be called. When we were called we were off and through customs in less than 15 minutes. Pet Peeves': - Chair Hogs and Line jumpers require control mechanisms since they have none - The up and down elevator lights are red so everyone is always asking which way the elevator is going - Need more indications of Forward and Aft - Princess does not organize a Meet'n'greet for Cruise Critics members but hats off to Princess for providing a room and for Cruise Director, Lisa Ball, for taking time to spend with us. Thanks to Umbargar for doing the work to organize ours. Summary: I do not have a Favourite Cruise line because all the major players have their own Niche and Princess is no different. She is a classy cruise line with a hard working staff that looks out for our every whim. Sure we all have likes and dislikes but that will happen with any major operation. I would sail any of the major Cruise lines again including Princess, based on their itinerary and value for the $. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Our family of 4 (2 teen sons) booked this cruise because of the price. Period. Went to vacationstogo.com around August and searched for Christmas time cruises for less than $500 pp and this was the only one. We had done this itinerary ... Read More
Our family of 4 (2 teen sons) booked this cruise because of the price. Period. Went to vacationstogo.com around August and searched for Christmas time cruises for less than $500 pp and this was the only one. We had done this itinerary before on NCL and loved it. Loved the ports, loved the weather, and loved the Free Style dining. This time around we were cruising with Brother, Sister-in-law and 2 teens. We got a phone call at home a couple days prior to sailing from Carnival telling us to be at the New Orleans port between 12:30 and 2:30. I had done lots of Cruise Critic research leading up to this cruise so we did not heed their advice. The 8 of us had flown in the night before, so we headed right to the port after a leisurely breakfast, arriving around 11. Was a crazy cab ride from the airport area -- I swear our cab driver's name must be Helen because she was "Hell-on" wheels! She proceeded to form a 3rd lane of traffic into the port drop-off area barely sqeezing in between the 2 lanes already formed. It was chaotic once we finally got to the unloading zone as passengers were still coming off the ship. We breezed through security and check-in and were on the ship by 11:45. We were within the first 50 people on the ship. Did some exploring, snacked from the Lido deck buffet and had no lines to deal with. Did not get our luggage until about 5:30 that evening, which was no big deal. Had access to our cabins by about 1:30. We had 2 cabins, side by side with the boys sharing a cabin. Realized quickly that I should have asked for a key to their room at check in, but was able to do that at the Information Desk the next morning in just a minute or 2. Got our Coke stickers right away and were glad we did as wee saw long lines later that day and the next. Should have signed the kids up for their Teen Clubs then but did not and experienced a line too long to bear the next eve. What did we expect with 1100 kids onboard? Ended up not officially enrolling the 14 year olds in their group, which did not seem to be a problem for their hit and miss participation. Evidently, the 17 year olds did not need a parent to enroll them and they came away with a couple gifts by attending the club on their own. Found the boys in the club area several times, which I liked -- seemed like a positive environment. Muster Drill was painless as we were not required to bring life vests along. Is a good time and place to mingle with people that will will run into over and over during the week. We had been assigned to the Lower London Dining Room for the main seating and immediately took a liking to our waiter, Alexis from the Philippines. We ate dinner there every night and ended up tipping him extra (with cash) the last night -- more about that later. Food was excellent, presentation was awesome, and menu choices were vast. Niece wanted chicken breast and fries most nights and even though not on the menu, was able to order without a problem. We were too exhausted to go to the show that night, but wish we would have to hear Jorge, the cruise director, as we heard bits and pieces from him later and liked his sense of humor. Sunday: Day at Sea: It was a nice enough day that we sat on the upper Lido deck in shorts and long sleeves and just enjoyed the day with a lot of people-watching. Went to the show that night -- Wonderful World. It was kinda slow, but had some numbers that were really entertaining and worth attending. We became "Brian" groupies and went to the Casino Bar a lot to hear his "Rockin' Guitar Music". He has a playlist booklet -- ask him for it and he will play what you want to hear. This was our favorite place to hang at night. Ended up getting in on the ship's "Fun Patrol" Free Hug Session. What a blast! They had "Free Hug" signs and were standing in the Casino Bar in front of Brian which is kind of a galley-style area with a lot of walk through traffic. Was so fun to watch the people's reactions and interactions, and in some cases, the lack of! Lighten up, people and fee the love! Day 2: Day at Sea: Love sea days. The only expense is your drinks if you so choose. Was chilly and overcast in the morning so we were in the back pool area then later moved out to upper Lido when it warmed up and the sun came out. It was nice enough for us Coloradoans to sun bathe, but our Arizona cohorts were a bit chilled. Another day of total relaxation very much enjoying doing nothing but enjoying each other's company and checking on the kids. Went to the show that night. An impressionist that is Female. Can be misleading to call her a Female Impressionist. We really enjoyed her show. She nailed Cher, Celine Dion, Tina Turner, etc. Day 3: Belize: Weather was so-so. We did not book an excursion since they had done the ruins before and we had done the cave-tubing and we kinda wanted to hang out together. We ended up shopping for a bit, with no real bargains to be had. Three of us ventured out of the port shopping area, having to pass through a guarded gate, but found no better bargains out there so came back through fairly quickly. The show that night was the New Wave Magic Show. I liked it. Got a negative vibe from the crowd in the theater that this was not their thing. It was different. Loved the music and costumes more than the magic. It was mostly the switch-aroo and making things appear and disappear. CDs and DVDs are available for sale after the show. Do not be fooled -- the $5 CD does NOT include the music from the show in a format that you can download to your mp3 or listen to on/in a stereo. You can watch the show on CD on your computer which has the music playing and the CD includes a list of the songs available for download. So i guess it was worth the 5 bucks, but I thought I was getting the actual playlist. We also attended the R Rated Burlesque Show later in the Rio Lounge. No one under 18 admitted and do not know why. There was a penis joke, but no nudity or other inappropriateness. Would have been comfortable with our 4 teens there, but probably not with kids any younger. LOVED THIS SHOW!! My eyes were glued to the effects and costumes the entire show. I liked the intimate atmosphere of being up close and personal to the stage. This show included the girls from the theater group and the magic show duo, Kevin and Caruso. This was their debut and this show too, seemed to have a lukewarm response from the audience. I was so glad I stayed up late to see it. Would have loved to have had the music from this show, too. Day 4: Roatan: For us, getting off the ship is the expensive. Organized excursion fees are costly through the ship and not, plus all meals and drinks (pop, tea, alcohol, etc) really add up on shore. We had talked about going to Tabayana Beach because we were not aware of the new port here and the new Mahogany Bay beach. Pleasant surprise! What a cute little village of shops, etc. We were told that this new Mahogany Bay was a man-made beach, which was initially kind of a turn off, but the lure of the $5 chair lift ride to the beach from the pier was irresistible. Rides are unlimited for the $5 wristband and is a nice leisurely 15 minute ride. We were so glad we opted for this beach. What is so man-made about all natural sugar white sand and the crystal clear ocean splashing up to shore? The lounge chairs and shade were plentiful as was the opportunity to eat and drink all day on the beach. Were told we had missed the last 4 days of non-stop rain and cold so felt very fortunate to have high 80's and clear blue skies -- which resulted in 8 slightly sun-burned beach bums. Happy beach-bums, as we were there for the sun. Went to the Jazz Man show (comedian) and considered it a great way to spend our evening. He was funny, with the typical cruise passenger jokes and other fare. Day 5: Cozumel: Went to Paradise Beach which is free -- yeah, right! Expensive cab ride to and from and the food and drinks are high. It was fun though and the $20 pp water toys provided entertainment for the kids. Cost for parents watching their kids play in the ocean on Christmas Eve Day? Priceless. Went to the Big Easy show and were embarrassed for all the people walking out on the show. Honestly don't know what their problem was. It was a bit slow, but so what? Sit down and relax, people - don't be rude and show some respect to the performers. We later attended Christmas Eve Midnight Mass. Even though we are not Catholic, we felt it was important to incorporate some type of family tradition by going to church while on this cruise. It was a very nice service. Day 6: Christmas Day at Sea. OMG!!! Rough water is an understatement. 12 to 13" swells. You would think that on a boat that size it would have little effect, but no. We sat in the back pool area all day where they had the roof closed blocking the wind and watched people TRY to walk through the area. I could not walk without holding on to something. All 8 of us got along fine and experienced no sea sickness. We liked the motion of the ship and knowing we were on the ocean. What we really wanted to do was clear the deck and get chairs on casters to roll around in all day, but were happy to enjoy another day of people watching and napping from our comfy lounge chairs. Went to the Christmas show that night. The younger club kids went up on stage for the show for sing-alongs and Santa made a guest appearance. It was short and sweet. Day 7: New Orleans: Did self-assist disembarkation and don't think we were any better off (quicker) than those that checked their luggage the night before. The only advantage being that we did not have to check our luggage the night before! I don't like parting with my stuff that early. Note: the 4 of us did all carry-on luggage for this trip as we had flights from hell to and from Colorado (plane changes and lay-overs). It was a breeze. Still took along clothes that I did not need/wear). Did lots of sight seeing on foot while in NOLA, taking in Bourbon Street, beignets, and a muffalata from Central Grocery during the day with the kids and finding a local restaurant (Daisy Dukes)near our hotel on the outskirts of the French Quarter that night. Went to Mothers for breakfast the next morning. That was a hoot. Great, homemade food and the waitresses treat customers like gold. Worth waiting in line to get in. General information: We ate breakfast each morning at the Lido deck buffet. Yes, there were times of long lines. It was not that big of a deal. If you wanted just one boiled egg and nothing else, people were very accommodating to let you reach in a grab one quickly. Others had the attitude that they were not going to get their fair share and would literally reach around in front of you for food that was ahead. We also ate at the pizza place, burger station, the Hong Kong Noodle Co, and the New York Deli. All was delicious and these lines moved pretty fast. We missed the Free Style dining like on NCL. With our excursions and getting back on the ship late afternoon before eating lunch, it did not jive with our 6:00 dinner time. My point being that I wish all lines would move toward Free Style. To get back to our waiter and the extra tip: cruising on Christmas was bittersweet for us. Here are 1000 + crew members working away from their families, greeting you with Christmas wishes with a hint of a tear in their eyes. We were sad for them. Our kids wanted to be with their friends and not us which is so anti-Christmas in our family. While it was great to be on the ocean (and not in blizzardy - frigid Colorado) during this special day, it just wasn't Christmas to us. CCL did a nice job decorating with a classy touch and we appreciate that. All in all - I give Carnival a big thumbs up. We had a great time a developed lifelong memories. We would do this exact same trip again - just not on Christmas. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We booked the Dec. 5th sailing of the Carnival Spirit to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We had sailed this exact same itinerary in 2005 and enjoyed it very much. Living in southern California, San Diego is a very convenient ... Read More
We booked the Dec. 5th sailing of the Carnival Spirit to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We had sailed this exact same itinerary in 2005 and enjoyed it very much. Living in southern California, San Diego is a very convenient departure port and we like that it is an 8-day cruise - it's always nice to have one more day on a cruise! Because this was a special celebration, we decided to splurge and booked one of the corner aft suites with the wrap-around balcony. We decided to stay at a hotel in Oceanside, California on Friday evening. It was not as long a drive for us, since we didn't leave until after work that day, and yet was close enough that the drive to the San Diego port the next day was a quick one. We pulled into the port around noon and unloaded our luggage and hubby stayed there to arrange a porter while I parked the car. There is a long-term parking lot directly across the street from the port, very convenient. There were plenty of spaces available; I parked and walked across the street and joined my husband. Going through security was normal. Once past security we found the check-in room for Carnival. Since we are Platinum, we went into the VIP check-in line (I believe that we'd have been in that line even if we weren't Platinum because we were booked in a suite), which was super short. I think it might have taken 5 minutes total, even with their computers down! We were on the ship as fast as we could walk! We like the Carnival Spirit. This was our third cruise on her (in 2008 we made the Vancouver/Hawaiian Islands cruise). The staterooms were not open, yet, so we made our way up to the Lido Deck for a bite to eat and then explored the ship again in order to re-familiarize ourselves with the layout. By that time we checked to see if the hallway that led to our stateroom was open yet, and it was. Woot! We would finally get to see our suite! We loved it. It had a separate living room and bedroom, each with its own TV. Hint for those planning to book one of these suites: if you have any VHS tapes you especially enjoy, the TV's have built-in tape players...but there is no library of tapes available on the ship. There was also a separate vanity area, and a large bathroom, with double sinks, and a Jacuzzi bathtub with shower doors. The bathroom may have been the biggest luxury - it was so wonderful not to have the little corner shower with the shower curtain that sticks to you! There was also a walk-in closet. In fact, there was so much storage space there were actually a few drawers and shelves that we never even used and, as usual, we over-packed! We really enjoyed our balcony, which was an extended width - room for two chaise lounge chairs, as well as two chairs and a small table. There were also floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the living room and bedroom, looking out toward the aft and side of the ship. We initially had booked late, assigned dining, and we loved our tablemates immediately! But we found that by the time we were finished with dinner, we had missed the first half hour of karaoke, which is one of our favorite evening activities on ship. We decided to try Carnival's "Your Choice Dining." We've always enjoyed assigned dining, and were unsure if we would like this, but it worked our perfectly for us. We were generally seated in the same area, so we often had the same wait team, and met many wonderful tablemates! We will probably choose this dining option again. The food was good. I thought it was a little bit better than on the same ship the year before. We did not get off the ship in Acapulco. Having sailed this itinerary before, we didn't care to disembark. I think this is the first time we have stayed on the ship while in port, and it was very nice! It is very quiet, and you feel as though you have the ship to yourselves! We enjoy both Zihuatanejo and Manzanillo. On this trip, we took a taxi to Ixtapa from Zihuatanejo. We went to one of the large hotels there, and were welcome to use their beach chairs and umbrella. There was a lifeguard station right there, but we did not go into the surf, as the black flag warning signs were out. There were a number of parasail vendors out (I don't know what else to call them). For $20, you could get a short flight. I used to say that I wanted to do this, but over the years had developed something of a fear of heights. But...I have reached an age where I feel that I should occasionally go beyond my comfort zone and just "go for it" before I die! Bucket list, and all that! And, it was only $20, so.....I did it. I'm very glad I did it, but I will never do it again! We had lunch at the hotel restaurant....not particularly good, overall, although their salsa was good! In Manzanillo, we shared a taxi with another couple from the ship and went to the long stretch of beach north of the port. This beach also had lifeguards, but the flags showed that it was safe, so we enjoyed swimming in the surf. The water is as warm as the Caribbean, but not as blue! We thought that the service and crew were something of a "mixed bag" this trip. We really enjoyed the karaoke host, Vinz Brown. We thought he was as funny as the comic that appeared at the Pharaoh's Lounge! We loved the assistant maitre 'd, Ekaterina, and the wait staff we encountered in the dining room. We thought that the cruise director, Stu was good when he was not dealing with passengers one-on-one. However, every time we encountered him or witnessed him in a one-on-one capacity we both got the impression that he was too busy to bother with the passengers, at best, and, in fact, was inappropriately harsh during debarkation. Granted, we realize that debarkation day is stressful and that he has to deal with passengers acting inappropriately, but we both felt that he could have acted in a more professional manner than we witnessed. He was at his best either on stage or making announcements over the PA system - and at that he was absolutely marvelous. Debarkation is always somewhat chaotic. As Platinum cruisers, we met in the Club Cool lounge and were to be escorted to the debarkation point. It didn't quite work as planned, but, still, it did not take an inordinate amount of time to disembark. Once we gathered our luggage, I left to get the car and my husband arranged a porter to assist him getting the luggage to the pick-up point. I paid the parking fee (note: they did not take American Express, so have either cash or MasterCard or Visa with you), and zipped around the block and into the port area. We loaded the luggage and we were headed home. All in all, it was a very nice cruise, and we are still fans of the Carnival experience! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We just got back from our 7 day western Caribbean cruise on carnival's Dream. Before we left i was a little nervous after reading these review. My fears were unfounded! We had a wonderful time. This is our forth cruise. We have been ... Read More
We just got back from our 7 day western Caribbean cruise on carnival's Dream. Before we left i was a little nervous after reading these review. My fears were unfounded! We had a wonderful time. This is our forth cruise. We have been on Disney's wonder, Royal caribbean's mariner of the seas and the princess coral. I traveled with my husband, two boys 12 and 15 and my mother. We used 2 cabins. embarkation... a breeze. We were on the boat in 30 minutes. there were some long lines for the first lunch on the lido, but if you continue walking towards the back of the ship, there is another buffet area, pizza and sandwich area with plenty of seats. We had first dinner seating, 6pm. Our waiters were very attentive, food was hot, with nice presentation. Great menus. the shows were spectacular. The only thing we didn't like was the singers volume.. just a little loud for us. Get a drink then go to the theatre 30-40 minutes before the show to pick the perfect seat Room was very nice. Lots of storage. Three closets, 4 drawers, nightstands with storage, fridge and plenty of bathroom storage. My tip: bring a strip multi-plug extension cord, and a clock . I also put a collapsible hamper in one closet. Room attendant is always visible. Bed and linens are nice quality as well as the down pillows No problem bringing a medium quantity of wine, liquor, or soda. OJ, cranberry juice, tomato juice is free from room service, by the way which is very quick. Bonita in the perfume store is excellent. She took a lot of time to help me find the perfect cologne. Lloyd at the computer hub surprised me by having a power cord for my new Sony e reader! We never really had a sense of overcrowding, even on new years eve. we were on the top deck looking down. other people write of a sewer smell.. this is true.. but it is sporadic, transient, can be noticed on different parts of the ship at different times, but we also noted it on other ships as well. Debarkation was very smooth we had breakfast at 7am, they called us at 740 and we were driving out of the terminal area by 8am. a wonderful experience.. don't be afraid to go on this beautiful ship, look forward to it! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Arrived at Galveston in the rain about 2:30. Parked at Lighthouse, and off to the terminal. We didn't realize that the ship had docked late until we hit the line in the terminal, but even so, it was an hour and a half from the parking ... Read More
Arrived at Galveston in the rain about 2:30. Parked at Lighthouse, and off to the terminal. We didn't realize that the ship had docked late until we hit the line in the terminal, but even so, it was an hour and a half from the parking lot until we were onto the ship. Once again, a word of thanks to whoever is responsible for the greatly improved atmosphere in the terminal. Even with the long lines, everyone was pleasant and courteous. What a change from March. This was our second time on the Ecstasy, so we had no problem finding our way around. I think this ship is easier to get around than the Conquest. We were late sailing, they made an announcement about the channel being closed, but if you looked over the side, you could see they were still taking stores. About 6:30 they announced the channel was still closed, about the same time the pilot boat showed up and dropped off the pilot. We were off about 10 minutes later. It was rather a rough night, seemed like a lot of people disappeared pretty quickly. By the next morning, everything was improving, the sea had calmed and the temperature was warming up. Checked out the jogging track and the gym and worked off some of the dinner from the night before. We were on any time dining, we would go between 6:30 and 7:30. Never had to wait for a table. In the five nights, we only had two different wait teams, and both of them were excellent. The food always arrived hot, and with the exception of the prime rib which was tough, it was always good. The buffet on the Lido Deck was good, you could always find something to hit the spot. Make sure you don't miss the deli at the back of the deck, the sandwiches are excellent. The Room Steward was Sunny, very seldom ever saw her, but the cabin was always taken care of. No complaints about the cabin itself, plenty of room and storage space. Except for some banging early one morning from the galley on the next deck up, it was always quiet. The entertainment on board was good, we passed on the big shows, but hit a lot of the smaller stuff. Had to pass on the Piano Bar, way to smokey, which was a disappointment. Tried the trivia which was a lot of fun. Still don't understand why they closed the bar on the no smoking side of the lido deck at 4 every afternoon. Last day the weather got bad, force 8 gale, cleared the decks again. Too cold to hit the jogging track, but the gym was warm. Disembarkation was the normal zoo. The ramp that hits the empress deck was out of action, so you had to go down to the crew deck to get off. Like normal, half the elevators were out of action, all the others were packed and you couldn't get on. Hint: if there is an elevator going up, get on it. When you get to the top it will take you back down. Once our deck was called it took an hour to get back to the truck. All in all, this was a really good cruise. The crew is good and go out of their way to be helpful. Would I cruise on this ship again - absolutely. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
This was our third cruise on Carnival, the others being the Spirit and Legend. Dream is new, big, and still working through a few kinks, but the cruise was a lot of fun, and much better than the other reviews might lead you to believe. ... Read More
This was our third cruise on Carnival, the others being the Spirit and Legend. Dream is new, big, and still working through a few kinks, but the cruise was a lot of fun, and much better than the other reviews might lead you to believe. This was the New Years Cruise, and the ship was packed, 4400 passengers. Never had long lines though, although finding chairs was not easy, often went down to Deck 5, where chairs were easy to find, and much quieter. Food good, all locations, pasta good, pizza good, buffet good for a buffet, love the ice cream, never trouble getting service quickly, even when 2000 of us were packed onto the lido deck for new years celebration. Carnival provided free champayne, a nice touch. Ship is big, but Deck 5 provides a nice area for walking, two laps almost a mile. Ship does vibrate quite a bit, in rough seas especially, and a few folks suffered sea sickness one night. Lots of kids on the ship, many out of control, but I blame the parents for that, not the crew. Captain was out and about a lot, at the clubs, sometimes on the deck sunning with his family who were along for the holidays. Shows were great, including the comedians, although Jeff the fun dude is not funny, but the rest were funny. Would I do this ship again, yes, although travel to a from Florida from Colorado takes too much time, and blows a day each way. Port Canaveral was good, very organized, although our prearranged transportation from Orlando Airport to and from the Port, with Sunshine Limo, did not go smooth, they were late and rude, use someone else. Stayed in a suite on deck 7, very nice, still small, but nicer than regular. Free beach at Roatan very nice, and no extra charge. Beaches on Costa Maya very fun, very local, nice boardwalk. Belize fun to go to port and see the shops, not much else unless paying for an excursion. Cozumel was least fun, although typically mexican, what you expect to see. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Having cruised with Carnival before, I had high hopes for this New Years cruise on the Liberty. We were glad to see that we would be cruising the Eastern Caribbean and not the Western. I will break down different topics of this great ... Read More
Having cruised with Carnival before, I had high hopes for this New Years cruise on the Liberty. We were glad to see that we would be cruising the Eastern Caribbean and not the Western. I will break down different topics of this great cruise below: Cabin: Upper deck, inside cabin. We LOVED the location of our cabin. Was a little worried about the cabin being next to elevators and above the casino, but we heard very little from anything below us. It seemed that the slot machines were on a lower noise level than the slots in Vegas. The ringing was not loud at all. Cabin itself was great. Plenty of space for two people. Our cabin steward was also great and making up the cabin twice a day. Food: WOW!!! We did not have a bad meal on Liberty. We ate in the dining room every night except for the night that we went to Harry's Steakhouse. We were placed at a table for two in the Silver Dining Room. Our waiters were great and quite entertaining. You must try the chocolate melting cake for desert. It was fantastic. Harry's Steakhouse was a nice experience. It is $30 per person and the dress is elegant. The steaks are to die for. Very large cuts of meat and both of our steak were cooked to perfection. Great service here also. The lido deck buffet is where we ate all breakfasts and lunches. Buffet lines moved quickly and food was top quality. Ate at the deli many times, but never tried the burrito bar. Always a LONG line for the burrito bar. Lots of seating upstairs and downstairs. Entertainment: We just loved the cruise director Butch. He was very entertaining and always kept things interesting (and funny). If you get a chance, take his disco dance class. It was great fun! We also participated in the Thriller dance class. Lots of people came to this one and it was very easy to learn. Butch told us that the Liberty has been rated the #1 ship for service and entertainment. It was easy to see why. The Carnival Caper (daily activity newspaper) was always full of a variety of things to do. You will never be bored! Did play the slot machines, and found the winnings to be more on the first day of the cruise. The slot machines seem to become tighter as the week progressed. Get involved in the activities! You won't regret it. Pools: With this being a very full cruise, deck chairs were very hard to find after 10 am on sea days. The annoying chair savers were abundant. Towels, books and shoes placed on chairs everywhere. The one place I always found an empty chair was on the spa deck at the back of the ship. It was windy, but great view! Went down the slide once. Fun ride! Ship: I liked the decor on the ship. I know many people that do not, but I found it to be tasteful. They had Christmas decorations up for our New Years cruise. The ship was easy to navigate after the first day. Most things you will need to find are on deck five (Promenade) or deck nine (Lido). Ship is VERY clean and you will always see someone cleaning something. Many germ-x stations located around the ship for the passengers to use. The theater could use more seating as it became very crowded on the nights when there was only one show. Movement: The ship sure did move with the wind. For ship to be that large you could feel the movement. Butch told us we were caught in the low pressure system and the winds were very strong. It didn't bother me at all. I took along ginger motion sickness gum and chewed it whenever the motion became strong. We also had a cabin mid-ship so I believed that helped. Overall, my husband and I had a great time on the Liberty! We are looking forward to our next Carnival cruise on the Victory in June. It was a great experience for us! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We cruised on the Gem this past week(12/26-1/3) and overall were not disappointed. Pros: We breezed through registration and embarkation with ease. The pink princess had a great time at the kids crew program;she met a lot of great ... Read More
We cruised on the Gem this past week(12/26-1/3) and overall were not disappointed. Pros: We breezed through registration and embarkation with ease. The pink princess had a great time at the kids crew program;she met a lot of great kids there. We spent time hanging out with fellow passengers shooting the breeze,playing bingo and trying the restaurants. Made it to all but Cagney's & Le Bistro, didn't have a bad meal. Tepanyaki was a blast. New Years Eve on the Pool Deck was off the hook. Cabin stewards were very attentive. Cons The coffee in the buffet was far better than in the restaurants. Couldn't add a passenger to our cabin 5 days before cruise due to homeland security,or so the NCL cruise consultant said. No more chocolate at turn down Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We just got off the New Years sailing. It was WONDERFUL!! After the 19 inches of snow the weekend before Christmas, we decided to go someplace warm and the Destiny was the best deal. We got a "Night Owl" inside cabin for 499.00 a ... Read More
We just got off the New Years sailing. It was WONDERFUL!! After the 19 inches of snow the weekend before Christmas, we decided to go someplace warm and the Destiny was the best deal. We got a "Night Owl" inside cabin for 499.00 a person. Pretty darn good for a New Years Eve cruise. I would not specifically book the NO cabin again unless it was a super good price. We did hear the bass boom each night, but it wasn't too awful. It would wake us up a couple times, but we just fell right back to sleep. The ship itself was beautiful and roomy. I love the food options on Carnival much more than the other lines. I do wish they had the Supper Club, but no biggie. All the food we had was excellent and they had the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake available every night in both the MDR and the Lido Buffet, so I was happy. We did anytime dining and it was good, never had to wait for a table. This was our first time to Half Moon Cay and it is my new favorite private Island! Absolutely gorgeous and the sandy bottom in the water was great! Grand Turk was also gorgeous. We rented a golf cart and drove to the lighthouse at the other end of the island, cruised around, watched the donkeys and ended up at Governor's beach. Very nice! No rocky bottom like at the port beach. We spend lots of time in the casino and it is so open and roomy. I actually ended up ahead for the first time in a loooong time..... We spent most of our time onboard in the aft pool area. Very relaxing and calm. The main pool area always looked like Times Square on New Years Eve..... Love the ice cream machines everywhere! On RCCL, there is usually only 1 and it is only available for short periods each day. Pizza was good... And the best thing is Carnival (and Princess) let you bring your own wine onboard. I've pretty much stopped cruising RCCL because they confiscated my wine on our last cruise with them. As well as a bottle of Hazelnut coffee syrup...... We will definitely look at booking the Destiny again!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We sailed on the Celebrity Solstice for the second year in a row for New Years. We traveled with 3 other couples who have done the same. Overall it was a good cruise, but compared to last year, last year was better. Why? too many kids on ... Read More
We sailed on the Celebrity Solstice for the second year in a row for New Years. We traveled with 3 other couples who have done the same. Overall it was a good cruise, but compared to last year, last year was better. Why? too many kids on the ship and no parents at all to watch or control them. The security staff on the ship no way enforced the rules of "Adults Only" in the solarium pool area as well as the late night comedian and the bars. I would recommend the rules being enforced and changed to 18 years or older only. Individuals in the suites and Aqua Class such as ourselves should have priority for tables and sitting on New Years Eve around the outside pool and deck area where the New Years party was held. And again NO ONE UNDER 18. There should be more security concerning out of control teenagers and there should be NO GLASS of any kind used upon the deck during the New Years Eve party. Other than these few issues, our stateroom attendant was excellent as always, room service very good and on time, the ladies in the Aqua Spa were great, and the Blu Restaurant and Waiter were outstanding. The food and service excellent overall. Need to consider adding a sports bar where there is room to sit and watch the ball games. Too many people crowded into the Casino to watch the games and not enough room to accommodate. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Hello everyone, i just returned from an amazing cruise with my family for new years on the NCL Pearl. Great great great!! We are major cruisers ... we have been one one Princess cruise, one Carnival cruise, one Disney cruise and two ... Read More
Hello everyone, i just returned from an amazing cruise with my family for new years on the NCL Pearl. Great great great!! We are major cruisers ... we have been one one Princess cruise, one Carnival cruise, one Disney cruise and two Norwegian cruises. We love freestyle. Traveled with my hubby, and two kids 13 and 11. We traveled here from Ontario, and we flew in to Bonita Springs (so much cheaper then flying into Miami!) and we drove two hours to the cruise port the next day. EMBARKATION: Disaster!! This was probably the only bad thing about our cruise. Tons of people everywhere in mish-mash lines. They had specific lines (i.e. suite people here, latitudes members here etc) but that was completely ineffective. Took us almost 30 minutes to get through that line! FOOD: The food was mostly amazing. We ate at the Summer Palace 5 nights (it was our favorite), Indigo one night, and Mambo's one night. Mambos was okay, but not worth the $10. I have heard that the other restaurants were good though. Summer Palace had amazing decor and friendly staff. Indigo was also nice, but it was a bit slower, and kind of dim and creepy. Each night they had a different menu, but with the "always order" selection (Caesar salad, steak, ice cream etc). My favorite was the gnocchi. It is amazing, if you see it order it. The buffet was pretty good, as far as cruise buffets go. Italian, Asian, Breads, Salads, Grill there's pretty much everything. There is hard ice cream and soft ice cream in the buffet, unlike other cruises that just have one or two flavors, NCL has 10+! PUBLIC ROOMS: Bright, colorful and cool. The main lobby area is only two levels, but it is still really nice. Big screen, and funky furniture. Loved the decor! They had lots of fun areas and lounges, my personal favorite the Spinnaker Lounge. It was on the 13th deck at the front of the boat with floor to ceiling windows and fun furniture like funky beds. There is also a stage in the middle for lat night shows. The pool was nice, the slide moves a bit slowly, there is a family pool and an adult pool. There is also a bowling alley, which is $5 per person. SHOWS: Only saw one, the comedian, he was very funny. They also have Second City, which we saw on our previous cruise, and they are funny aswell. CABINS: Very nice. We had an inside for the kids and a balcony for us. Our balcony was a little small, but bright and fun. They had these wheels outside of your door, and you could turn it asking them to clean your room, or not to disturb you. We were surprised at how big our kid's inside cabin was! They also left towel animals each night. On our Spirit cruise last year they left pillow chocolates, but not on this cruise. Hmm ... SPA: Busy busy busy! Our cruise was full, and when my daughter and i went to that spa at around 5pm on the first day and pedicures were COMPLETELY sold out for the whole week, except for 8am one day and 6:15 pm one day. They had a tranquility room: cold plunge pool, main pool, loungers, hot tubs etc. $15 a day, didn't get to try it but it looked good. DISEMBARKATION: Just as hectic as embarkation. Huge masses of people coming off, packed at almost every hour! We had breakfast at the Summer Palace, it was nice and not many people, and we got off the boat at around 9pm, and it was insane. At the Miami port, getting a taxi is impossible. Many fights broke out trying to hail a cab, as 4-6 cruises are there at a time. Overall, a lovely cruise. I definitely recommend it! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We sailed on the Golden to Hawaii from San Pedro departing on Dec 20, 2009 and arriving back on Jan 03, 2010. We booked his holiday sailing over Christmas and New Years in May 2008, so we had quite a long time anticipating this cruise. ... Read More
We sailed on the Golden to Hawaii from San Pedro departing on Dec 20, 2009 and arriving back on Jan 03, 2010. We booked his holiday sailing over Christmas and New Years in May 2008, so we had quite a long time anticipating this cruise. We've sailed Princess 3 times prior to Mexico (twice) and Panama Canal (5 other cruises on other cruiselines). Over the period of time awaiting for the cruise dates to arrive, we anticipated a wonderful time at sea on the Golden (sailed once before to Mexico) and the 4 stops in Hawaii. Since it was a holiday cruise we were also worried about the crowds and number of children onboard that might take away from enjoying the cruise itself. That being said, now that we are back home, I have to say this cruise ranks up there as one of the best cruises we've been on. EMBARKATION: We arrived the terminal at around 10:45AM - I knew there would be 2 other cruise ships docked that day so was worried about getting in the terminal - dropping off bags and then getting a parking spot. Although there was congestion, we arrived in front of the Golden's drop off point relatively smoothly with a porter coming to us before I even got out of the vehicle. Bag drop off went smoothly and found a parking spot easily. As we walked into the terminal we were greeted by many Princess reps who were all congenial, friendly and helpful. We had about a 2 minute wait in queue to check in. Our check in representative was extremely friendly and courteous. Obviously profiles are shown on their screens during check-in as he made mention of our previous Princess cruises. After check-in we walked to the security area and had about a 15 minute wait before our group number was called to board - another 15 minutes and we were on board! CABIN: We originally had booked an AB category mini-suite (back 1/3 of ship), however as I watched pricing changes over time, Princess had a AA category 'sale' which made upgrading location to mid-ship actually cheaper than our original choice. Mini-suite is spacious, has a nice "sitting" are with small sofa, 2 flat screen TVs in the room (one facing bed area, one facing sitting area). Bathroom has a full tub with shower. Balcony is spacious with 4 chairs and table - completely open (not covered at all) and the Golden balcony's "cascade" downward so all balconys above look down on these Dolphin Deck mini's. DINING: We had 1st dinner seating confirmed. On our card key, we were assigned one of the Anytime Dining rooms (BERNINI) but we had a table number assignment (56). This concerned me, I went to the Passenger Services to ask about this and they sent us to see the Head Maitre-D who was taking questions in the SABATINI Specialty Restaurant. This wait was fairly long (about 45 minutes) as each person was held at the door, and when it was your turn you were escorted into the restaurant to the Maitre D seated (I felt like I was being brought to the "King" who was holding court!). The Maitre-D could not have been nicer assuring us that although we weren't assigned in the traditional dining room we had a reserved table for 2 (as we requested but knew couldn't be guarantee'd). True to his word, the fellows in the "white coats" who sat folks in our dining room had our names (and those of a few others) and our table 56 was waiting for us when we arrived each day (shout out to our wait staff David and Abraham from Mexico who were excellent and fun). Menus varied throughout the 2 weeks and the selection pretty good with a group of foods "always available" everyday in case nothing for the day interested you. Food quality was good and always came to the table looking appetizing, most tasted good (hey you cant get everything right 100% of the time) although I thought more spices could be used but understand they are cooking for 3000 people not just me. TOURS: We took tours on 3 islands (Honolulu was on our own) and had very professional, knowledgeable guides everytime which made the tours that much more enjoyable. Princess has done a very good job in their selections here. Tours were as described except our Lanaii adventure which is more of a "discover Lanaii" tour than a "4X4 Trekking Adventure." Very enjoyable tour and our guides there were concerned that most people would shy away from this tour due to what they call it. OVERALL: As stated we rank this trip as one of the best cruises we've been on. The kid situation did get dicey toward the end of the 2 weeks (kids running races down the hallways, all the floors buttons pushed in the elevators when you got in, that sort of thing). All the folks who work at Princess that we experienced on board and ashore were friendly, fun, professional, and obviously tried to do anything possible when special requests were made. Since this is a 14 day cruise with 5 sea days each way, I would recommend this to people who've cruised before and know that sea days fit into their particular interests. This cruise was great and we plan to do it again in a couple of years. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
My husband and I knew that we wanted to go somewhere to start our Christmas holidays, we just did`t know where. We are on a limited budget, so wanted to get as much for our buck as we could. I signed up for many web sites with all ... Read More
My husband and I knew that we wanted to go somewhere to start our Christmas holidays, we just did`t know where. We are on a limited budget, so wanted to get as much for our buck as we could. I signed up for many web sites with all inclusives and cruise lines for emails with vacation specials. I practically lived on the computer for the months of October and November reading all the specials on the emails I was receiving. I have always wanted to go on a cruise, but hubby wasn`t too excited about spending a week on a boat. Boy, was he mistaken! When the last day came, I think he was more depressed than I was and I was pretty bad. He now wishes I would have talked him into a longer vacation. The balcony we had was sooo much bigger than I thought it would be. It was clean and set up very professionally by the stateroom stewards. The service was impeccable starting with the people at the call centre when I called to book, the bar stewards, the cooks and servers in all the restaurants (and there was lots to pick from), the captain, the great and funny entertainment. I know I am rambling, but their was so many things that were just perfect! Our first port excursion was the Grand Bahama Island and we went on the Caves and Beaches tour. What a let down! The caves were just holes with water in them and the fish we were suppose to be able to feed were little minnows and we could not feed them. The beach was ok - a little raw - no buildings, no bathrooms, not very nice. Although the water was beautiful. Then we get back on the bus and go to lunch which you had to buy and spend one and a half hours at lunch and another beach. Well we just came from an hour at another beach. The lunch was not cheap, the food on the boat is free.........It was a waste of time. I wished we would of just walked around town and looked at the local shops. Will know better next time. Great Stirrup Clay was sooo nice. We decided to try the snorkeling, which we had never done before. The only complaint I have is that there is no one to give you a lesson on what the heck you are doing. My husband got the hang of it pretty quick, but I had the can`t breath problem. But the water was perfect temperature and beautiful. The boats were taking passengers back and forth all day, so you could go as early as you want and stay as long as you want. It was a great time. Only next time I think I would save the money and pass on the snorkeling and just go for the beach and swimming. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
This was our 8th cruise but first one in 13 years. We really enjoyed Holland America and the Oosterdam. Embarcation in San Diego was a breeze. Our cabins were ready by 1:00 so we quickly left our carry one and then headed to the Lido ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise but first one in 13 years. We really enjoyed Holland America and the Oosterdam. Embarcation in San Diego was a breeze. Our cabins were ready by 1:00 so we quickly left our carry one and then headed to the Lido buffet. We found the food on board to be very tasty and lots of variety. We chose the as you wish dining and we had no problem walking up and getting a table whenever we wished. We were willing to sit at any size table so I think that helped. We also ate at the Italian and then Pinnacle Grill. The Pinnacle was awesome and very worth the money. Service was great and food was yummy. Being a cruise critic member helped get aquainted with some very nice people. We took in the Webcam wave and then the meet and greet on the first morning at sea. Our cabin was awesome, it's the first time we had a balcony and that was nice to go outside from your cabin. We enjoyed that many times especially coming into and leaving ports. There's so much storage space in cabins now, we actually had drawers that we didn't use. We liked the elevated beds as that was a great place to store our luggage. We used room service serveral times. We found them easy to reach and very prompt. We used the breakfast card serveral mornings and the food arrived on time and alwaYS HOT. The entertainment on board was top notch. We especially enjoyed the strings quartet. We tried to listen to them each evening. The Ship planned a very nice Christmas morning with Santa and everything. That was a big hit with the kids. We enjoyed the 3 ports. The only negative I could list is the photos onboard the ship are very expensive and possibly people would purchase more if they offered smaller packages. We purchased 2 photos and only wanted one photo of each, the rest were wasted. We also believe the onboard tours are very expensive. With the internet you can purchase tours from local guides for alot less money. The local guides know all the ships scedules and they make sure you're back on board in plenty of time. This was a great trip and a really fun way to spend Christmas. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Ok, first off let me say that both me and my boyfriend (23, 26) are first time cruisers. I also read a lot of reviews, and posts on the boards before I went (he did not) so I was incredibly prepared. Overall, I enjoyed myself and plan on ... Read More
Ok, first off let me say that both me and my boyfriend (23, 26) are first time cruisers. I also read a lot of reviews, and posts on the boards before I went (he did not) so I was incredibly prepared. Overall, I enjoyed myself and plan on getting back on a boat ASAP, as for him, not so much (it has nothing to do with Carnival, he just decided cruising was not for him) First, embarkation went extremely well. We were not VIP. However, as we were checking in a security guard asked if we would help run a test and we agreed. After they ran the tests, they put us in VIP. We got there around 11 and got on the ship at 11:45. We had an oceanview stateroom on the riviera level and loved it! I liked having the window (except for when we were feeling the motion). The water was incredibly choppy for most of the cruise, so we rested a lot in our room, and found it comfortable and provided enough room. Our steward was great, although I do not remember his name. He always had the room cleaned and our cooler filled with ice. The MDR staff was the best part about the cruise (I also forget their names)! Our waiter and his assistant were incredibly attentive and made the experience great! We also had great tablemates. Carnival did a great job matching us up with people. We actually ended up hanging out with our tablemates (there were 8 of us all together) several times outside of dinner through out the cruise! It was too cold to enjoy the lido, but we did hit up the buffet there and the coconut grill a few times and it was just fine, nothing special but definitely not horrible. We also did not attend many activities on the boat, as there were tons of football games on, so we hung out at the casino bar watching them, and playing in the casino. We did watch the performance of Hey Mambo the first night, and did not like it. New Years Eve was great! Carnival did a wonderful job making the evening special for everyone. There was free champagne, music, lights, hats, noisemakers and a party. Debarkation went smoothly. We were in the car by 8:30 am. We didnt do much on the ship the whole time, layed around a lot (since the weather was not to great), and watched a alot of football and movies. However, I had a great time on my first cruise and am already planning my second! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We were on the Poesia for the Christmas cruise and we had a blast. Let me start by saying that this was an absolutely fantastic cruise. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Our embarkation was bad only because the man we went thru to get checked ... Read More
We were on the Poesia for the Christmas cruise and we had a blast. Let me start by saying that this was an absolutely fantastic cruise. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Our embarkation was bad only because the man we went thru to get checked in was about 80 years old and had no idea how to work a computer. I don't fault MSC for that I fault the port for that, they should put their people thru training before sending them to the trenches. We renewed our vows on Dec.21st. and it couldn't have been better. The staff was absolutely wonderful. We were told by our travel agent that we would be having an open bar with dry snacks.(ie:potato chips and pretzels). Were we ever surprised to see the "dry snacks". They were small petit fours with everything from cheese to salmon to caviar on them. They were fabulous. The bar staff and waiters were very attentive to our every need and whim. Our party planner Marianna was there for most of it and also the head of the Group Entertainment department was there also thru most of it. We were all treated like royalty all afternoon. They let us come in and the grand-kids got to decorate the room before hand for the party and the staff were very gracious and helped them out. I really couldn't have asked for anything more I don't think. Our cake was the Italian wedding cake and it was so good. I highly recommend it. What we didn't eat at the ceremony they brought to our tables for dinner and everyone got another piece. To give you an idea of how far above and beyond that they went for us, we had forgotten our cake knife and server on the cake plate. When we told Marianna the next day she hunted it down had it cleaned and delivered it to our cabin that night. I was very impressed with that as I figured they were lost for good. The food was absolutely fabulous and the service couldn't have been better in the dining room. We got good service for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room. We eat at the buffet a few times and absolutely loved the food. And the Midnight Magnifique Chocolate Buffet was absolutely fantastic. The sculptures were magnificent and the food was great. Yes there were many people with big huge plates of food that they left on the tables. In fact we saw 1 couple take 2 huge plates and try one thing and complain about it and left the food there. Such a waste. The only other problem we had was with a few and I do mean a few very nasty and obnoxious American(yes American) passengers who felt that they were being cheated because they had to get up from their chairs and go get another drink. Most of them were so plastered they couldn't walk. Most of the time all anyone had to do in our party was wave and a bar staff was right there to take their order. These same people were very noticeable around the ship. One of the men even tried to come to dinner in the dining room with his swim trunks on for the first formal night and got very nasty with the Maitre'd for not letting him in the dining room. As far as the ports went we knew in advance of the times that we would be in port and were happy with that. The nice surprise was that the Captain got us into port early on almost every port so we got to have extra time in each one. Again, in my opinion, above and beyond the call of duty. As far as activities went, they had them all day long it just wasn't announced every 5 minutes what was happening. The crew treated you like grownups and if you wanted to do something it was up to you to read your daily program and figure out where it was and at what time. As far as the staff being rude--I never saw that at all. One of the couples in our group was in the karaoke bar and the Captain walked thru and Tammy was in awe that he actually stopped and talked to her and her husband and had a picture taken with them. Many of the staff on board were on the Lirica 3 years ago and on the Orchestra in Jan. when we were. It was great to see Laverne again and to think she recognized us immediately when she say us. She was kind enough to sit and talk with us for quite a long time while she was on duty. That was so special to me to think that she would do that. The ship was super clean, the crew was always cleaning it. The ship was very easy to get around in and was absolutely beautifully decorated. Real marble and Real wood everywhere on the ship not the fake stuff on some ships. And the brass---OMG it was always so shiny and beautiful. We had a superior balcony cabin and it was plenty big enough for the 5 of us. We always had an extra grand-baby in our room at night. Yes the pools closed down about 7 pm. and yes the pool guys put towels on the chairs very early in the morning,they also let us know that if the towels were folded and the chair tops were laying on the towels that it meant you could use those chairs. They were not being saved for anyone they were just putting the towels there for your use. I thought that was a very nice touch since we usually had 6 grand-babies with us each time we went to the pool and it saved me time getting each of them a towel and then finding a chair for them to share. The night shows were absolutely fantastic. We went to all of them except the Las Vegas review one. I had seen that on the Orchestra and didn't feel it was appropriate for little kids. I personally didn't see the magic show but the kids went with my husband and they just loved it. My daughter said it was a little weird and dark but that it was ok and she is even worse about censoring things for the kids then I am. They also had a Tribute to Michael Jackson show that was fabulous. It brought the house down. I would highly recommend this cruise line to other people. I would however let them know that they aren't going to be pestered every 2 minutes to buy a drink and that they won't always be hearing announcements about the hairy chest competition, the belly flop competition and bingo and etc. on the intercom all day long. If this is what they cruise for then they won't like MSC but if they are cruising for a more refined, classy, and a much cleaner ship then MSC is perfect for them. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click