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Sail Date: December 2014
Just finished up a 7 day Norwegian Star cruise to the Mexican Riviera... This is my 3rd cruise on the Norwegian Star, my 10th cruise altogether. Embarkation as a suite passenger was fast (less than 30 minutes) however it took 5 hours for ... Read More
Just finished up a 7 day Norwegian Star cruise to the Mexican Riviera... This is my 3rd cruise on the Norwegian Star, my 10th cruise altogether. Embarkation as a suite passenger was fast (less than 30 minutes) however it took 5 hours for our bags to reach our room. In contrast: On a 4 day Carnival cruise (Inspiration out of Long Beach) taken just after this cruise, our bags arrived at our stateroom within an hour of boarding. Being a foodie and having cruised on the Star in the past, we opted for the ultimate dining package so we could "go crazy" at the specialty restaurants. We didn't dine at the MDR for any dinners in hopes of making the most of our unlimited package. Here's a summary: Cagney's steakhouse: We ate here 4x because of the high quality of food and service. This is "surf & turf" type fare in a romantic setting. The restaurant exudes "expensive" but isn't hoity-toity, the food was consistently very good. Le Bistro: A little more romantic than Cagney's and a great excuse to get dressed up- if that's your thing. The french food is solid, not the best I've had, but still good. The service was excellent, the Coq au vin was a tasty choice. Moderno: A fun dining option for carnivores. A semi-romantic setting overlooks the atrium. Pasadores (meat servers) bring freshly grilled skewered hunks o' meat to your table. There is also a yummy salad bar that includes olives, meats, soups, ceviche, and prepared salads. Hint: arrive early (6-7:30) when the restaurant is busiest to get the freshest cuts of meat. The non-specialty (read: no fee) restaurants included: The Buffet: The absolute worst on the high-seas, avoid at all costs, has high-school cafeteria type seating. The Blue Lagoon: A 24 hour cafe with simple basic food. Great views. Versailles: MDR serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The dining room is handsome, a francophile's dream touting tall ceilings, lots of mirrors, paintings, gold filigree, and heavy drapes. The service was consistently good, the food was standard cruise-fare: fancier than Golden Corral, but most definitely not the Ritz. Aqua: A more modern and glitzy dinner venue than Versailles but serves the exact same menu. The ship: The ship itself is looking a little dated although it appears to have just received a fresh coat of paint. It is in good repair with the exception of: -worn out chaise loungers -broken/tacky looking fountains in the atrium -a buffet that has less charm than most hospital cafeterias I typically don't go to shows on cruise ships due to low production quality, so I have nothing to report in that regards. The only "planned activity" I participated in were Latin exercise/dance classes in the Spinnaker lounge, which were a mix of Zumba and aerobics, but nonetheless got my heart pumping. I walked the promenade daily for my 10k steps, played a little golf and ping pong with my husband. There was a very good R & B band from Trinidad/Tobago that were very enjoyable, however I didn't much care for the Spanish folk-singers or the Asian 50's greaser band. However, my opinion is likely entirely due to my age (early 40's). The common areas were all very clean, the staff was very friendly and helpful. The ports: Cabo San Lucas: Here we took a boat cruise of Lover's beach and El Arco. Mostly we just killed 2 hours, as the tour was not very interesting, the pre-recorded Jacques Cousteau presentation was b-b-b-boring. After the tour, we walked the pier into town and went to Los Barriles. There we had a fantastic lunch platter with lobster, filet mignon, prawns, sea bass, and crab. What a feast! Our server (Nestor) was fast, efficient, and friendly. The guacamole prepared tableside was simply delicious. Mazatlan: We booked an excursion onboard that included a city tour which took us to watch some cliff divers, from there we went to a shopping district (Zona Dorada), then to a resort (Hotel Playa Mazatlan) for lunch, entertainment, and lounging on the beach. A ho-hum excursion until the resort, which would've been awesome if the weather had held up. The hawkers were very aggressive on the street and at the beach, however a simple "no gracias" always worked for me. Puerto Vallarta: We took a Jeep Safari excursion which wasn't much of a safari at all, instead a drive through the countryside & through many poor villages. It was very educational to see how the "real Mexicans" live, however I didn't appreciate being pressured to buy stuff at the hat or tequila factory. $65 USD for a bottle of tequila is NOT a good deal! At the end of the excursion we were taken to a beach where we were only allowed 30 minutes before having to return to the ship. Debarkation was the fastest ever. The concierge escorted the suite passengers to customs, we were off the ship in less than 30 minutes with bags in hand. Overall: A very enjoyable cruise. Not the fanciest, not the prettiest nor most modern ship, but an organized and friendly vacation brimming with lots of great food and smiling faces. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
What a disappointment! I booked with Celebrity due to its reputation as a high-quality, excellent line. My experience, however, was merely average and therefore disappointing. I have sailed twice in the past - the first with NCL Gem and ... Read More
What a disappointment! I booked with Celebrity due to its reputation as a high-quality, excellent line. My experience, however, was merely average and therefore disappointing. I have sailed twice in the past - the first with NCL Gem and the second with Carnival Splendor. Each of the prior cruises had highlights. NCL Gem had excellent food and an engaging cruise director, Sinan Ulucay, and the Carnival Splendor had some of the best stand-up comedian entertainment I've seen with "The Punchliner" series. Each of the above also had a variety of entertainment outside of the main theater. In contrast, there were no highlights on the Celebrity Reflection. Pros: 1. The ship is very clean, and the staterooms are the cleanest we've experienced. 2. The guest entertainers were good. Antonio Salci, Kyle Knight & Mistie, and Claire Vinkestejn (apologies if misspelled) were very talented, professional, and entertaining. As an aside, I often wonder why cruise lines continue to push the pseudo-Broadway experience instead of opting for more instrumental/orchestral music, other non-singing performers etc... 3. The dancers/aerialists were impressively excellent. 4. Everyone who works on the ship clearly works hard, and it shows. Slobodan, the guy who runs the buffet, is a workhorse. Cons: 1. There is very little entertainment on the ship. On other lines, including NCL and Carnival, the daily itinerary is chock full of activities like dancing, games, lectures, etc to the point that one needs to sacrifice certain activities to attend others. For instance, on the NCL Gem, there were something like two trivia games a day and a whole bunch of guest game shows, whereas on Celebrity Reflection there were approximately five trivia games and two game shows the entire cruise. Fun things to do, besides laze by the pool, were few and far between. Which leads me to my second point... 2. The majority of the itinerary consists of either shopping events or pay-to-play activities. Given the relatively high cost of the fare, I had incorrectly assumed that daily entertainment would be largely complementary as it is on other lines. How I was mistaken. Rather, the main focus was on being hocked "low-end high-end" items like Michael Kors bags and Invicta watches and paying $20 to do simple things like paint. For example, the majority public real estate of an entire deck, deck 5, consists of shops and specialty restaurants. Other decks aren't much better. 3. The food in the Main Dining Hall is average, slightly better than Carnival but certainly not worth the extra cost of the fare. It pales in comparison to the food on the NCL Gem. This is supposed to be a higher-end line, so I expected higher-end food as the default. Instead it seems that the food is made to be palatable but not special so that passengers are more likely to spend money on the specialty restaurants. The buffet food left a similar taste in my mouth, pardon the pun. 4. The entertainment is standard cruise fare, with shouting-with-tone Kelly Clarkson-style female singers, hopping agile dancers and poppy tunes. Not really a con, but not a pro. 5. Why is the library overlying the main foyer where the loud music comes from? It defeats the purpose... 6. The destinations, while good, were not timed optimally. Landing in San Juan at 1530 and leaving at 2200 doesn't leave one much time to enjoy non-Celebrity-arranged excursions. 7. The dining halls are closed when at port. I don't remember this happening on the other cruise lines. 8. In the games room on deck 9 there is an abundance of Mahjong sets but no Backgammon, and far too few decks of cards. Overall, my cruise felt like a shopping mall with an exorbitant cover charge rather than a truly entertaining vacation experience. I will not recommend the floating shopping mall, Celebrity Reflection. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
We cruised for the fourth time the week of Christmas on Freedom of the Seas. We have cruised other lines as well as other RC ships. Honestly, if this had been my first cruise it would have probably been my one and only. This was not the ... Read More
We cruised for the fourth time the week of Christmas on Freedom of the Seas. We have cruised other lines as well as other RC ships. Honestly, if this had been my first cruise it would have probably been my one and only. This was not the same Freedom of the Seas we have cruised 3 other times. We were made aware of the propulsion issue and change to itinerary when we checked in at boarding. A little late to decline the cruise at that point. We did receive room credit for any inconvenience. It was a decent amount but quite honestly not enough to compensate in my opinion. We were late arriving at San Juan due to even slower ship speed from rough currents. Therefore our already shorted day was even shorter. RC would have been smarter to have deleted Labadee stop hence allowing enough time to arrive at San Juan and St. Marteen. Additionally, being Christmas Eve and Christmas day in San Juan and St. Marteen respectively there was little to do in port anyway. We were okay with that since we have been to both ports previously. We respect the businesses for closing. Just something to think about before booking the week of Christmas. The propulsion issues also created a heavy vibration felt all over the ship. We noticed it most in the MDR and in the Olive & Twist lounge. We actually stayed in the same balcony cabin we had cruised in before. The cabin still (a year later) had all of the maintenance issues we experienced in it before. The balcony door vibrated loud enough to keep you awake at night and even worse with the propulsion issues. The showerhead was still not spraying properly. Our room attendant was fabulous as always. The MDR seemed to have confusion every evening. We were moved to three different tables one night before they figured out where they wanted us and yes, we had a reservation. There seemed to be a language barrier with the wait staff that I have never noted before. The demographic was very different as well on the cruise. Perhaps because of the week of Christmas?? Mostly families with unsupervised rude children running amuck. I do not mind children I have 2 of my own (young adults now) but I do find rude children and their parents offensive. This is not in RC's control I understand just a cruise downer. Karaoke most nights was preteenagers trying their hand at Taylor Swift. The usual adult only safe zones were riddled with children of all ages. Obtaining a chair on sea days was horrendous probably due to the mounds of broken chairs not able to be used. We have cruised on FOS with a full ship before and did not encounter this problem. Also, the saving of seats is not monitored as FOS posts in the Cruise Compass that it is. There were chairs that were empty for hours with only a towel. It would have been nice to have been notified of our toilet was not working and also that the public restrooms in specific areas were not affected. We woke to discover that issue. Yes, I had visions of the Carnival stories in my head until I found out it was not ship wide. Apparently, someone flushed something forbidden and the problem was resolved. All in all it was a wonderful trip with my family. We didn't allow these hiccups to ruin our family vacation however we all left saying, "that wasn't the cruise experience we are used to" We have booked our next RC cruise (not on Freedom however) so we are not soured with RC. They do have some work to do to redeem themselves.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
This cruise was over Christmas and New Year. The cruise went to 8 of the Caribbean Islands, (Aruba, Curacao, Grenada, Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, St Kitts and St Maarten). Overall the cruise was up to Celebrities high standards. However, ... Read More
This cruise was over Christmas and New Year. The cruise went to 8 of the Caribbean Islands, (Aruba, Curacao, Grenada, Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, St Kitts and St Maarten). Overall the cruise was up to Celebrities high standards. However, the Ultimate Dining Package, which we have used in the past, had been withdrawn for this cruise. The excuse given was that this was done to allow all passengers the opportunity to dine in the specialist restaurants. However, everyone had had the opportunity to book specialist dining prior to cruising either on Celebrity's web site, direct with them or via their travel agent. We had booked for every night prior to the cruise, costing an equivalent of $1180. The normally available Ultimate Dining Package gives a discount to this plus other benefits, lunches, coffees being some off them. The withdrawal of this package for this cruise should in my opinion have been mentioned on their web site, so as not to have tarnished the cruise slightly for us. The staff in all departments were again excellent, particularly Marion (the Maitre'D), Christian, Micha and Alicia in the Murano restaurant especially. The cabin staff Muhamad and Brian kept our cabin tiptop and Tanishia looked after us in the bar. The ship was decorated out for both Christmas and New Year and the majority of entertainment was very good. The shore excursions we took took were generally very good, particularly the catamaran cruise from St Kitts to Nevis. Hopefully the management staff of Celebrity will in future give consideration to their loyal customers!   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
We sailed on the Carnival Conquest December 2014 over Christmas and needless to say it was below par. Boat is outdated Not kept very clean Kids clubs are horrible if you have tweens. Shows consist of a person singing with a digital ... Read More
We sailed on the Carnival Conquest December 2014 over Christmas and needless to say it was below par. Boat is outdated Not kept very clean Kids clubs are horrible if you have tweens. Shows consist of a person singing with a digital background behind them. Food was horrible. Not kept properly cooled or heated. Food staff were not friendly. Long lines for food. Took forever getting off the boat at ports because they wanted to take a picture of every person getting off - never been on a ship that was so desperate for money that the tried getting photo opp's getting off the ship. I don't recommend going on this ship. Maybe their newer ones are better, but Conquest was a dive.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
This was our tenth cruise,5th with celebrity twice on Solstice.Did this same so called Christmas cruise 2 years ago.Last time it was very good this time terrible.Did not mention FATHER CHRISTMAS ,who is this CRINKLEBUM that so called ... Read More
This was our tenth cruise,5th with celebrity twice on Solstice.Did this same so called Christmas cruise 2 years ago.Last time it was very good this time terrible.Did not mention FATHER CHRISTMAS ,who is this CRINKLEBUM that so called cruise director JC was always on about?Did not see FATHER CHRISTMAS giving gifts to children as was the case on the other CHRISTMAS CRUISE.The CHRISTMAS fare on Christmas day for lunch and dinner was non existent. There were no party hats, bonbons,tinsel or anything on the tables, PITIFUL. Regarding food, Epernay dining rooms food was very average but staff as always were very good,food deck 14 Oceanview cafe was less than inviting with little choice and variety, 3 food bays with same food on all. In my humble opinion JC is not employing quality entertainers( AUSSIE BOYS AND NEIL DIAMOND ENTERTAINER) excepted.There were other issues, these were the main ones. Many other passengers commented about the lack of Christmas cheer. If u are not going to celebrate CHRISTMAS, then dont advertise it as a CHRISTMAS cruise!!!!!!!! We have friends two couples, who are contemplating this cruise next year, will advise them to think again and check if SOLSTICE will celebrate Christmas next year. Standards on Solstice have definitely dropped. THE BEAN COUNTERS ARE CERTAINLY ABOUT. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
What a lovely way to spend Christmas and New Year's Eve. Out first time with Cunard but definitely will not be the last. The ship is magnificent, (bit warn in places) stateroom more than adequate and we found the staff to always be ... Read More
What a lovely way to spend Christmas and New Year's Eve. Out first time with Cunard but definitely will not be the last. The ship is magnificent, (bit warn in places) stateroom more than adequate and we found the staff to always be pleasant and more than helpful. Dining room experience was up and down but fortunately we shared a table with excellent company which took away from the pain of poor service. Did not see any of the artists or night time entertainment as we thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment in the Golden Lion and ballroom. Pub lunches were excellent as were the trivia quizzes. Excursions are overpriced and we did the snorkelling with the turtles in Barbados which we were very disappointed with. I may be bias having spent many years living in the U.K. But this trip is high on my list of very memorable holidays. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
We are seasoned cruisers having been on 38 cruises. We booked the thanksgiving cruise with our two adult children and their wives on the 5th floor with windows. We had been on the Dawn when she was new and enjoyed it but this time was very ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers having been on 38 cruises. We booked the thanksgiving cruise with our two adult children and their wives on the 5th floor with windows. We had been on the Dawn when she was new and enjoyed it but this time was very much a disaster. Our wing with rooms 5232 and 5236 always smelled of sewer. Our steward was great. The room was clean but even on the first night we had lots of noise. We found out the galley was above us and below us were loud broken stabilizers. :(. We had some rough seas and about every 5 seconds we heard loud banging and vibrations. It was un bearable. We called three times asking for help. Nothing. The next day we went to guest services asking for a room change. We said we would take an inside room or just about anything to get sleep. Finally after begging them to come listen we got moved on a Thursday. We found the ship to often smell moldy and mildewed especially in dining areas and gathering areas. Drinks were awful. Very weak. The spa charges were horrendous with 18% gratuity and they wanted you to also tip! TV was not good. Our power went out in our new room and it took three hours to get it back on. The food was not good either. The thanksgiving dinner was the worst. Mushy dressing and very slow service. No pumpkin pie. Desserts were poorly made and tasteless. Embarkation was the worst we have experienced. It just was very disappointing. Workers told us that the clanging noise on that floor has been a problem for years and they were so apologetic. Anyway if you have a room on that floor be prepared to not sleep. NCL did away with the adult spa area and now charges!!! It is just not quality. We will not sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
Even though we've been on 15+ cruises (including 3 Thanksgiving cruises), this was our 1st Christmas cruise.The ship was lovely - decorated with a lots of poinsettias and a huge tree on the promenade deck and greenery in the MDR, but ... Read More
Even though we've been on 15+ cruises (including 3 Thanksgiving cruises), this was our 1st Christmas cruise.The ship was lovely - decorated with a lots of poinsettias and a huge tree on the promenade deck and greenery in the MDR, but that's where it ended. We've never seen such grouchy RCI crew members. They were sad and grumpy - obviously not wanting to be working on a holiday cruise. A crew member told me that she would prefer spending Christmas with her family than working. That was probably a very true statement, but I really didn't want to start feeling guilty for making her work during the holiday. While walking through the MDR on Christmas Day, I said " Merry Christmas" to a ship officer. The reply given was a very loud GRUNT! Thankfully our room steward, head waiter and assistant waiter in the MDR were very friendly and welcomed us with smiling faces every day. We didn't feel that the on-board activities were anything special for the holiday - just your usual belly-flop contest and disco parties. The trivia contests were the usual topics like 80's music and Michael Jackson music. The ship did offer a Christmas carol sing-a-long, but it was held at 11:00PM. I don't know about you, but I'm usually winding down by that time of the evening. Then, if you were lucky enough to be walking through the Promenade deck at 7:45AM on Christmas morning, you could grab a drink of spiked eggnog. Santa came for a visit on Christmas day but they hid him on deck 3 in Studio B. And if you didn't get the kids there before 11AM, you missed the whole thing. There was "ask the captain questions" time on Christmas day, so we asked why there was no Christmas music played on the ship. The answer was that they didn't want to offend anyone, Isn't that why people go on a "holiday cruise" during Dec 25th - - to experience everything the season offers The whole world celebrates Christmas in one way or another. It's a shame RCI felt it offensive to offer some Christmas spirit/cheer on Christmas! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
I have read many times on CC that cruising over Christmas is on many cruiser;s bucket list so I thought I'd do a review specifically about being on board for Christmas. We boarded the Rhapsody on the 19th December, She is a beautiful ... Read More
I have read many times on CC that cruising over Christmas is on many cruiser;s bucket list so I thought I'd do a review specifically about being on board for Christmas. We boarded the Rhapsody on the 19th December, She is a beautiful cruise vessel and looks even more beautiful with her Christmas decorations up. (I believe they go up late Nov) There is large glittering Christmas tree in the Centrum, pots of red Poinsetta spread around the balconies on each level of the Centrum. There was a buffet display of Gingerbread in the Windjammer (Buffet Restaurant) and on Deck 4 or 5. Both looked absolutely gorgeous and were very tempting but sadly we were not allowed to eat. It was there for display and photo purposes only. The entry to our Deck has a small Christmas decoration on the wall. I put up two lovely cardboard decorations on our cabin door which got lots of favourable comments. Several others put up small red stockings on their cabin door but majority of people on our deck did not decorate their cabin door. Being a Christmas cruise, my fellow passengers were smiling, relaxed and happy. Everyone said hello in the lifts which was very nice. Christmas Eve was a port day and we were in beautiful Champagne Bay, Vanuatu. On disembarking our tender, we were met by a crew member dressed as Santa and you could have a professional photo ($16.95 AUD) taken with him on the beach. He was there until about 3.30pm. My teen had this done and it was her favourite photo of the cruise. Most of the Christmas activites seemed to occur on Christmas Eve. Our Cruise Compass came with a blank RCCL christmas card and a candy cane. Many of the guests were Christmas gear - hats, t-shirts and illuminated decorations! The movie of the day was "A Muffet Christmas Carol" (!) 8,00pm we had Christmas Concert in the Centrum with the Royal Carribean Singers. 2 male and 2 female leads from the Production Shows, dressed in formal wear, sang on the steps of the Centrum. This was excellent. Headliner Show was Patrick McMahon singing Kenny Rogers, Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash. this was not "Christmassy" so I did not go but my teen did and she loved it - even though she did not get "the old people jokes" between songs - her words. 10.00pm Christmas Champagne in the Centrum Free glass of red, white or green "coloured" champagne in the Centrum followed by the Cruise Director at 10.25 reading "Twas the Night before Christmas" Very nice. 10.30pm Christmas Carolling with RC Officers, Crew and Production singers. We were all given song books. Officers, crew, and Production singers in long gold gowns on the steps of the Centrum All guests joined in singing the carols Loved this. Followed by a spectacular aerial performance in the Centrum to Michael Buble music. Loved this! Midnight Mass was held in the theatre. There also appeared to be face painting in the centrum as many of the young kids were "rudolph" etc. CHRISTMAS DAY Was a sea day. Staff in Windjammer welcomed us all wearing Santa hats (this may have happened on Christmas eve as well but I can't remember. "Santa" was in the Centrum from 9am-11.30am. Handing out a free RCCL gift to each child. He sat on the traditional red chair and you could get a professional photo if you wished. Teen gifts were RCCL towel or drink bottle for boys. Scrapbooking/cardmarking for girls. Your child was ticketed off a list - so no double dipping! Rest of the day was very quiet. Teens a bit disappointed. But if you were cruising in a big family group I am sure you would have a lovely day. The "Mens Belly Flop" was re-scheduled to Christmas Day and the teens enjoyed this and it attracted a big crowd but this would not be normally held on Christmas Day. Christmas Movie was "A Christmas Story" - bit dated to say the least. In the MDR for dinner, we had Christmas crackers on the table (one per guest) and some Christmas items on the menu. Food and service excellent as always. Production Show was "Ballroom Fever" - again not Christmassy but again my teen loved it. At 7.30pm The Big Band played Christmas music. This did not attract much of an audience. Boxing Day - sea day - no cricket - teen disappointed. 27th Dec - we were "near" Australian coastline so Boxing Day test on room tv and pool tv - teen delighted. This Christmas Cruise was my first cruise. I loved it. it was a full ship but it never felt crowded. Always could a find a deck chair or seat. Buffet ran smoothly. Never crowded or too busy. Calm seas and beautiful weather There were kids on board but you didn,t see them until Christmas Day (they must have spent most of their time in kids clubs). My teens were disappointed by Christmas on board but they loved the cruise overall and want to cruise again - soon. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This was our seventh cruise, first time on NCL. We previously sailed on Carnival (once), RCI and Celebrity. embarcation - horrible, never expirienced anything like that, it took us 45 minites and it took 2.5 h for our friends to get to ... Read More
This was our seventh cruise, first time on NCL. We previously sailed on Carnival (once), RCI and Celebrity. embarcation - horrible, never expirienced anything like that, it took us 45 minites and it took 2.5 h for our friends to get to the ship. comparing to RCI/Celebrity from Bayonne - was about 20 minutes to get to the ship... The ship is big and beutiful, but the design is poor in my opinion - long narrow corridors, no Promenade, strange buffet design (you need to "make laps" again and again...). in general, having a long corridors and no wide open space on the ship creates a feeling of overcrowded supermarket... Food - very good in general , but i would prefer assigned seating and cafe promenade instead of the irish pub they have on Breakaway. also, the menu is VERY similar every day and almost NO seafood... Casino - too much smoke, it is absolutelly insane! Was too smoky even for smokers! entertainment - great, especially liked Rock of Ages, disco music on deck 16 (evenings) and fireworks. Stuff - person who cleaned our room was great, but there were so many rude stuff members on the ship... Not much smiling and almost like giving you a favor for every thing you would like to get from them - especially stuff working in buffet... In general, Free Style was the idea for some stuff members to do the leaast they could - giving you hard time when you ask them to repead something etc. for example; the rere was soccer tournament there (sports deck) - the guy showed up, gave a couple of instructions and left... great tournament... To finalize - i prefer assigned seating so waiters know me well to know what kind of food i like and could do something special to make me and my family feel good instead of new waiters every day 9and some of them showed no interest in pleasing you at all; i prefer a little more "formal" atmosphere so you actually feel you are on a cruise instead of feeling you are in Wallmart. I guess I am not a Free Style fan! Would I sail on NCL again? Only if no RCI or Celebrity is around... Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
Our small family scheduled this trip almost a year out, never having been on Cunard before. We then travelled on Cunard in September 2013, however it was too late to cancel this cruise and get our money back. There was a long traffic line ... Read More
Our small family scheduled this trip almost a year out, never having been on Cunard before. We then travelled on Cunard in September 2013, however it was too late to cancel this cruise and get our money back. There was a long traffic line getting into the embarkation area in Brooklyn. When we did enter the terminal, a blond middle aged woman directed us into a line. We waited patiently while she started yet another line which moved much more quickly. Finally, after standing in a hot terminal for over an hour in our winter clothes, I spoke with a supervisor named Fran who explained that the monitors in our area were not working properly. Um, perhaps take charge and redirect the line. Unfortunately, this indifferent service was indicative of the entire 12 day cruise. When we ate in the Britannia DIning room, main seating, table 100, for the first two nights we had an extra chair at our table. No one appeared to eat there and it impeded conversation with our table mates. Twice I asked to see the maitre'd about having it removed. This is true: I was told he was too busy! I then went to the Purser's office (Cunard guest relations) and put it in written request to see him about the chair. Also true: I NEVER RECEIVED A RESPONSE. Toward the end of our cruise the maitre'd appeared at our table to ask how things were. He did not mention my previous request. I asked about more of a selection with regard to vegetables and said that our vegetables had not come that evening. He seemed put out to have someone actually request something from him. Our vegetables came with our coffee. Three people were served and the waiter left. We had to call him back to serve the remaining people who wanted vegetables. The wait for a sommelier was long. Service was lackluster. She seemed over worked. The staterooms were ok. Our steward left a room service tray outside on the balcony overnight. Seemed a bit lackluster again. I had to ask for more soap and a clean robe. The saving grace was/were our dining companions who were lovely. On December 27 2013 the trivia person/entertainment staff gave a wrong answer. We looked it up in our Almanac and spoke to him about it. He was kind but did not seem to want to know additional information about his professional area. The ship held various celebrations for the Christmas holiday. All were well done, especially the Christmas caroling. We took one excursion which was the Nevis sail away. The day was lovely. I spoke with the crew and mentioned that they could chafe the music played to be more in tune with the composition of their guests (puns intended). The crew was great. We ate in the Golden Lion at lunchtime on New Year's Day. The staff was so 'off' that day. We had to ask for service (my husband went up to the bar to ask for a waiter or waitress to come over) and then still waited. I saw an older couple voice their frustration to the staff. Although it made me uncomfortable, I had to agree with them. The service that particular day was appalling. Cunard should be ashamed. We were staying on the ship until Southampton but changing rooms. I checked on this periodically, being anxious about Cunard's lack of professionalism. I was told twice that housekeeping would move everything for us except what was in the safe. I was also told the new room keys would be delivered the night before. The morning of the change of course no new room keys were delivered. I called the Purser and was told to come down and get them. I asked for them to be delivered, as promised. I was told that they were too busy but would deliver them when they could. After 2 hours I went down to the Purser myself to get the keys. There I was advised to pack up everything in the room except what was on hangers in the closet. What a rush to pack! The review will continue as we change to Queen's Grill for the crossing. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This was advertised as a Christmas and New Year Cruise aboard the Marco Polo. We booked this cruise on the basis of our first experience on this ship in September 2012 when we enjoyed the 'Round the Islands Cruise', we could not ... Read More
This was advertised as a Christmas and New Year Cruise aboard the Marco Polo. We booked this cruise on the basis of our first experience on this ship in September 2012 when we enjoyed the 'Round the Islands Cruise', we could not have wished for a more comfortable and enjoyable time with first class service and food. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of this one. Not an enjoyable cruise by any standards. This ship isn't furnished or fitted for very bad weather, furniture is not fixed and in very bad weather, as we experienced, and all furniture in the public areas was flying everywhere, and I do mean flying, and some passengers were seriously injured as well as many minor injuries. In the 'Gym' the majority of the equipment was out of order. Other activities, such as quizzes and other games and activities were good. The service was absolutely disgusting, On our first night, Sunday 22nd December I ordered soup which did not arrive even though I complained. Waiters dress appearance was poor with collars unbuttoned and ties pulled down. long wait to order wine (25 minutes on first night), better after complaining. All food, without exception was poorly presented and just warm with some main courses leaving much to be desired. (Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce was one of the main courses on three occasions, irrespective of what they called it) Service in the 'Captains Club, the main bar, was slow and the waiters appeared not to care less; some were downright rude. When I complained of the service and treatment I was told by one of the management team that 70 percent of the crew was new and had received 5 days training ashore before joining the Marco Polo for this cruise were mostly from Eastern Europe. This was marketed as a 'Christmas and New Year Cruise' No real Christmas celebrations were organised, no Christmas decorations, not even a Happy Christmas banner and virtually no decorations. Not even a decent Christmas dinner in the evening, our table had not been laid and we had to complain that we had not had our main course when they started serving tea and coffee Except for two occasions, the 'Cruise Director' was nowhere to be seen, and when he was seen he was scruffily dressed, not befitting that of a senior representative of Cruise and Maritime Voyages. Our cabin, a Junior Suite, was ok but the furnishings were poor and so was the plumbing. Our Cabin Steward was superb. Entertainment was excellent and very professional. Disembarkation was swift and one of the highlights of the voyage. So many passengers were dissatisfied that a large percentage, including my wife and I, had gratuities removed from our final statement. BAZZER   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
We were three families 6 cabins. We did our Xmas/New Year’s Eve (14 nights back to back) cruise on Holland America’s (HAL) newer ship the Nieuw Amsterdam this year 2013/14. We switched from Princess to HAL a few years back because HAL ... Read More
We were three families 6 cabins. We did our Xmas/New Year’s Eve (14 nights back to back) cruise on Holland America’s (HAL) newer ship the Nieuw Amsterdam this year 2013/14. We switched from Princess to HAL a few years back because HAL is one of the few remaining cruise lines that allows you to have a smoke on your balcony otherwise we would still be on Princess. I just heard RCCL has also “outlawed” smoking on balconies also! I find this sad they cannot accommodate smokers in some manner in allowing balcony smoking. I guess the remaining cruise lines left to harvest of vacation dollars other than HAL that allow smoking on balcomies are the mother ship cruise line, Carnival and now NCL which we are happily exploring again as options. We have many cruises under our belt, maybe 50 since 2002. Cruising has been as very good vacation value over these years for us. Usuallly the airfare is the bigger consideration in determining whether we take a cruise. Let me get back to this cruise. This year was a cheap year for a holiday cruise. It must be the ecomony. The cabins were going for more than 65% off for the last few months before sailing. I find Holland OK but an older crowd for sure. I should say that I am 59 years old. I get the feeling (talking to the people in the casino) that most of the younger families with small kids on these Holland cruise, were there as invited guests of the grandparents and that is fine. It’s too bad the HAL cruise line would never give a thought to having one on the many countdown locations, for New Years Eve, on the open-air Lido deck. I still remember on our first New Years Eve cruise years back on Carnival’s Spirit(2003) what a great party atmosphere under the stars. I imagined at the time it was as good an atmosphere as being NYC in time square. I am so excited for the new NCL big ships that are coming out, having fireworks every cruise. What a simple marvel idea! The drink packages are a great NEW idea for those wishing to sign up for it. Obviously some young business analyst pointed this out to the finance people in the cruise industry. I think a no brainer as they say. Other than the other mega cruise conglomerates, the all inclusive resort competition is providing a holiday package where the cost of drinks is off the table. It is included! Worse than that when you think about it, booze on the high seas is tax free. That average drink they charged $8 for, cost them probably less than 20 cents gross before other expenses. Also missing on HAL is any late night adult entertainment as other cruise lines are often providing. Other than that, the chef’s, dining area/room and cabin steward staff is top shelf as they normally are with all cruise lines I have found. And that is the major reason today a cruise is better than an all-inclusive vacation. The 2nd reason is the casino staff experience is still better than anything at an all-inclusive. Watch out once they figure that out. Tip to HAL: take the lido deck extra tables you have tried squeezing in and have been placed in the walking pedestrian area in the lido desk out! Nothing worse than bumping into and walking around dazed people every single day of the cruise in the lido deck when it gets very busy. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
My husband and I had the worst cruise in 25 years of cruising. We were due to leave Southampton on 20th December but the Captain announced that due to heavy storms we would have to stay in port overnight and leave the following afternoon. ... Read More
My husband and I had the worst cruise in 25 years of cruising. We were due to leave Southampton on 20th December but the Captain announced that due to heavy storms we would have to stay in port overnight and leave the following afternoon. We have subsequently discovered that we believe the delay was due to technical problems with the ship, bearing in mind this ship had a 2 day breakdown on the previous cruise, and a further breakdown on the following cruise. So because we were late leaving, our stop in Madeira was cancelled and our first stop would be Barbados after 11 sea days. We actually sailed past Madeira half a day later than scheduled so we could have had a stop there. The P&O ship Aurora left Southampton on the day we were due to leave so how did that ship weather the storm.? We could have left on time we were sure if the ship was mechanically fit. The first week onboard was a nightmare, the weather was awful and a lot of passengers were seasick, me included, I couldn't wait to reach a port, any port. The captain announced that we were only going to be able to have three and a half days port stops instead of the scheduled seven stops. We emailed Fred Olsen to show our disappointment and eventually the port stops were extended a bit, but still only 4 and a half days, everyone was disgusted. On top of all this people were so upset at having to pay £2 a day to have their dining time changed, it is an absolute ripoff. People should ask for the opposite sitting to the one they want because it is a money spinner for Fred. Then they closed one of the bars for 4or5 daysto redecorate it, can you beleive this. The next bombshell was workmen turned up and started moving a companionway on two decks. There was drilling and sawing all day for days on end, and tarpaulin coverings which looked so shabby, So many people complained that they stopped daytime work and started nightwork on both decks.You couldn't make it up. So many people couldn't sleep with the noise that the workmen went back to daytime work. It was so disrespectful to all the passengers onboard, no compensation was offered, not even a complementary bottle of wine on each table. Can you imagine it, sitting on deck, or eating lunch on deck and looking at men working on your deck and the one below, I could go on and on about our total disappointment with this cruise, the food was very average, not up to previous Fred Olsen cruises. We have cruised with P&O, Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Princess and never ever experienced anything like this. We have used Fred Olsen cruises for years, we are gold members, and have always recommended them as good value for money and really lovely waiters, cabin crew and reception staff, in fact all the crew have always been exceptional, but since old Fred handed over to young Fred it has all gone to pot, it is such a shame. I really think because of all these cutbacks and lack of consideration for their passengers enjoyment that their days are numbered. We are very upset by this and so are many other Fred Olsen passengers that we know. Bring back original Fred please. I would never cruise on the Black watch again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
We have just returned from our first cruise with RCL which we booked because of the wonderful itinerary.From the moment of boarding we could see that there were very big differences compared to the cruises we'd enjoyed with ... Read More
We have just returned from our first cruise with RCL which we booked because of the wonderful itinerary.From the moment of boarding we could see that there were very big differences compared to the cruises we'd enjoyed with Celebrity:No welcome - No staff member or anyone to welcome us - compared to a drink & smile by Celebrity.We asked one of the entertainment staff to orientate us to where we should go, but they were not very helpful.On entering our stateroom (balcony stateroom) we were not supplied with toiletries other than liquid shampoo in a dispenser & bars of soap. Towels were small & poor quality. Beds were comfortable with lovely sheets & well planned for storage wardrobes.We found the staff excellent, giving us a really good service in all areas of the ship & stateroom of course.We had no hot water several times but inspite of visits from maintence we continued having this problem.The My Time Dining worked very well & throughout the cruise we had excellent service & fairly good vegetarian options. Portions were generous & variety was good.The areas that we noticed the big differences were those of entertainment - there were only two big productions. Both shows were good. Guest performances were by "has beens" or "wanna bees". & many other cruisers felt the same that the shows were poor/average.The last night there was just one performance of a brief & terrible show. We were so disappointed that we had rushed our last evening meal to witness a poor show. We had expected a lot more to end a wonderful holiday but the opposite was the case.The CENTRUM - what a waste of space. There were 3 ariel spectaculars performed here.However, with very little seating available & guests trying to peer from the various balconies on different levels few people were able to see these performances. To add insult to injury during formal evenings the photographs were occupying parts of the area around the Centrum preventing guests right of way causing them to wait & gawk whilst the photographers were taking photos.Several of the Movies that were screened were really not recent - Mama Mia & Skyfall !!!!!On the few sea days, there were no interesting workshops or talks to attend.Overall IMHO I felt that the use of low quality toilet paper, no flowers in public bathrooms, no chocolates on the pillow, no wet towels & cold drinks to greet weary cruisers returning on port days etc etc showed the lack of attention to detail that we so enjoyed on our previous cruise. I am a little reluctant to book RCL in the future although have been told that Oasis Class or other cruise ships are amazing. As we usually chose our cruise because of itinerary, this could be a problem.I like several of the itineries but would not like to sail on Serenade of the Seas again. I would also like to be assured that the entertainment would be much better than it was. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
I had originally seen this cruise advertised last year as a re-positioning cruise from NYC to Vancouver, including the Inside Passage so made a note to keep an eye out for this for 2013. When it was advertised, it wasn't posted as a ... Read More
I had originally seen this cruise advertised last year as a re-positioning cruise from NYC to Vancouver, including the Inside Passage so made a note to keep an eye out for this for 2013. When it was advertised, it wasn't posted as a re-positioning cruise and we were told that because of the Jones Act (Law) we couldn't cruise past LA if it wasn't a re-positioning cruise. Then, after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between NCL and the travel agent, we were told that because the ship was going to a foreign port (namely Cartegena) we could sail to San Francisco. You can imagine my anger when we got on board to have the cruise advertised as a re-positioning one There were three of us travelling, so we chose a mini-suite with balcony on deck 11, being told it was a bigger cabin. The three of us have travelled together before and have had no issues with the third bed. Embarkation was quite simple but we were dismayed when we saw the size of the cabin. The interior one we'd had on deck 5 with Holland America on the last trip was just as big. Of greater concern was the third bed. It was the lounge which was as hard as a board. It took 4 days of asking for more padding before the bed was comfortable enough. The one layer of well-used foam that was put on the first night was insulting. If you are going to sell a cabin as being suitable for 3, make sure the bedding is suitable. Even if a child is the third passeger, they deserve better than what we got. Of great concern also was the state of the cabin. It was very dusty, and we found evidence of a previous occupant with trash left in the wardrobe and one drawer, and also a very dry remnant of a coffee bag in the coffee maker. We waited for three days before we asked for it to be removed. The first night we went to the Azure Dining Room, waited for a long time for a meal which was a bit hit and miss. We subsequently found out that we had a substantial number of new wait staff on board, none of whom are given any pre-training re serving, just given a manual or two. Then we tried the Tzar Dining Room and faced the same issue. I don't expect silver service in a dining room unless I've paid for it but I do object to servers reaching across my face to deliver a meal or remove a plate. We took advantage of having our bottles of wine stored each night, and on the third night, one party member was told her wine was finished. This wasn't the case, it had at least one glass left. We really had to insist, speaking to a senior staff member before the bottle was replaced. The next night, another bottle was obviously off. It had a screw cap which was faulty and didn't close properly so the wine had gone off. We were told that wine should be drunk on the same night, and what could we expect with a screw cap. Once again we insisted and had the bottle replaced. Unfortunately, this sort of experience didn't end there. We had cold food served, had to send several dishes back when meat was stringy or tough or had a very strange taste. We had chocolate dipped strawberries delivered to our cabin on two occasions as an apology and were given a free bottle of wine because of problems with food. Two nights it took 90 minutes before we left the dining room, with waits of up to 20 mins for the entree to be served. Some problem had occurred in the kitchen. The final night I had duck salad which tasted delicious, only problem was it contained only one piece of duck measuring about 1 inch by 1/4 inch square. The Lamb Shank dish the same night tasted very nice also, but it was a pity that whoever served it had slopped the sauce all over the side of the dish and then wiped it with a very greasy rag. I should have sent that back but by that stage was over it. We ate a number of times in the Garden Buffet and were satisfied with the offerings, but it would be nice if the fruit provided was ripe. Couldn't help wondering why staff weren't rostered on earlier on shore days. We had to wait for cups, plates etc to be replenished. Staff seemed to be astonished that all these passegers were milling about - what are they doing here? And could someone mentioned to all serving staff that a soup spoon is for soup and a dessert spoon, used for cereal, dessert etc. We complained about the lack of entertainment during the day which is available on other ships. We were told by the entertainment director that budget cuts meant that information talks were't offered any more. We turned up in the Showroom for a talk on the shore excursions to be told they weren't being held as only one staff member had done the Panama trip before. Then we were told that they would do one only after passengers boarded in Miama. Yes, it was held, but not all the printed information on each of the ports was available and we were given information on a lot (but not all) of the excursions which was too much to take in. Yes, they ran in on the TV but we got the whole talk even up to the last day of the cruise. We figured out that things like deck games, beanbag throw and talking to entertainment staff cost no extra for the cruise line, so that is what we got. Thing is, not everyone can do or is interested in the activities that were available. The movies that were available on the big screen were for the larger part not late release, with offerings like Pretty Woman. Was it just coincidence that half way through the cruise suddenly we were offered Les Miserables, Jack Reacher and Lincoln? Or did we all complain. I question the wisdom of showing a kids movie, Wreck-it Ralph, when only 17 children were on board. Another reviewer mentioned the poor offerings on the room tv and I must agree with them. Re-runs of the movies shown in the theatre, and re-runs of the same tv shows shown over and over. Plus of course the remote that didn't work unless it was held right in front of the on/off light. We did do excursion off the ship, and mostly they were quite good. I do object however, to be taken as an almost captive group to jewellery stores with enormous pressure brought to bear to buy. The offerings in the shops on board were quite good but as others have mentioned, over-priced. And I can never understand why people will pay thousands of dollars for jewellery that had no valuation offered with it. We did go to the Art Auctions but by the last one were more than a little jaded by the same old information. I've never heard of a ship tour that cost money (don't think we were ever told how much). We though we had pretty much seen it all but on the last day the organisers (????) excelled themselves. We were all told what bag tags we needed and where to be at a certain time. We turned up where we were supposed to be to be asked if we had been through Immigration? No, we didn't know we needed to. Though it must be on shore. So round we turned, walked from the front of the ship, all round the deck to the other side of the ship to join the queue for Immigration. Then when we got back to the front of the ship where we were before, got our amusement from all those who came after.and who didn't know either. Felt sorry for the staff who had to bear the brunt of passengers anger. Comments from other passengers who have cruised before with NCL but not on the Jewel, said there was no comparison between it and the other liners and they would not cruise on the Jewel again. Came to the conclusion that Freestyle cruising is just another term for sub-standard offering. If passengers don't want formal nights, why do so many make the effort to get dressed up night after night. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Just getting around to posting my review of the Norwegian Gem cruise from Dec. 13 to 22nd. First, let me state that the overall experience was very positive. Norwegian seems to aim at a younger crowd and the entertainment factor was ... Read More
Just getting around to posting my review of the Norwegian Gem cruise from Dec. 13 to 22nd. First, let me state that the overall experience was very positive. Norwegian seems to aim at a younger crowd and the entertainment factor was outstanding. However, a couple of things to watch out for and had they been different I would have had a much better overall experience. Embarkation - Took the shuttle ride from Laguardia airport to the pier. Remember to factor in the fact that it is Thursday near lunch in Manhattan. The ride took almost two hours (11:00am to 1:00 pm), so factor this is to your calculations. Found out later that although further away, Newark is a much easier arrival. Once at the pier I was greeted by a disaster. I still have less then 10 cruises on my resume and have split them amongst different lines to see what I like about each cruise line. However, this meant that to Norwegian I was only a Bronze Member and had to wait in the longest line I had ever seen for boarding. After a one hour and 50 minute wait I finally got to the desk only to be greeted with surely service. It didn't seem to be just me either as I could hear other passengers having the same problem. No customers should be exposed to that experience!!!! Way too few service stations to handle this load. By the time I got onboard my room was ready and it was quiet nice. I tend to book an interior cabin as I spend very little time in the room. Overall rating for the room and cabin stewards was 8+. Surprisingly, the first two days in the Buffet you had to stand in line as all food was handed out individually. The first morning I had to wait for over 10 minutes for my coffee as my eggs got cold. When I asked one of the servers why this was taking place, he replied that they wanted to make sure that the passengers did not burn themselves on the hot coffee :) I found out later that this was because the previous cruise had a serious flu epidemic and they had to put extreme measures in place until they were sure they had this under control. However, none of this was communicated to the passengers which could have eased the frustration level for all involved. Entertainment - Okay, on to the good stuff!!! Ever night there was a choice of two fabulous shows at the main theatre. Singers, dancers, Second City comedy, A Cirque de Soleil show, Hypnotist and Comedian. Seriously, what other ship offers anything close to this!!!!. As well, the lounge entertainers were awesome. Laurie on Piano and Pablo on guitar were fantastic. As well, there were two bands which played near the pool on several days (an throughout the other lounges at various times). Both were outstanding and could have headlined on another Cruise Line. The White Nights event at the disco and the Chocolate Buffet and the first day Pub Crawl were all great. All three are can't miss. As well, one of the bar's featured a "Flight of Patron Tequila". For $12 you got 3 shots (Regular, Silver and Gold). I don't know about prices where you live, but this might have been the best deal going onboard. Add this to game shows and trivia and other daily activities and I found myself sometimes hustling to get from one to the next. If you are bored on this ship, you probably have to blame yourself. Dining - Food in the buffet and Main sit down dining rooms was average (but acceptable). One night I ordered a strip loan steak off of the main menu and it came out grey. Service in the dining room was also quite average. Twice I had to ask for bread for my table. In all it really seemed that the push toward the "for pay" restaurants and the guaranteed gratuity has definitely reduced the normal dining experience. The 24 hour restaurant (Blue Lagoon) was hit and miss. The chicken wings were quiet good while the fish and chips were terrible :). Pizza was available as well from room service for a $5 charge. A huge meal which could feed 6 people. An option for a smaller serving or a 24 hour pizza station as with other lines have would have been welcomed I used the workout room every morning and the facilities were very good. Especially on port days it was uncrowded and the equipment was all in very good shape. Didn't do any excursions, but did get off the boat for shopping. San Juan and St. Thomas were disappointing (run down and very expensive respectively). St. Maarten was wonderful. The last port was a private one in the Dominican Republic. Although I didn't go, the beach was reported to be wonderful. However the rest of the area is undeveloped and you may be disappointed if you try to do anything else. Remember this is a 9 day cruise for a reason. Leaving from New York in the winter means you lose at least one day in each direction where it is too cold to be outside:) As well, expect some rough Seas as when the hot and cool weather meet the storms tend to appear. The last day at Sea on the return had more then a few people looking quite green. So, to summarize, I will return to this line, but will probably try another competitor first before going on Norwegian again. I will definitely avoid a New York departure as even stowaways should be treated better the the port staff handled us. With a couple of small changes this cruise could have been fantastic. Still, value for money was quite high and on the whole it was a great time on board. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Please keep in mind we went into this reasonably informed with very low expectations. I'd read a few terrible recent reviews and hadn't found one good review. I hoped the ones I found were by stuffy people with high expectations. ... Read More
Please keep in mind we went into this reasonably informed with very low expectations. I'd read a few terrible recent reviews and hadn't found one good review. I hoped the ones I found were by stuffy people with high expectations. My hopes were dashed almost immediately. I cried in Cozumel (our last port) because I didn't want to get back on this horrid boat. Even at a discount this was the most expensive cruise I've been on (including Princess, Royal Caribbean* and Disney). Good Big comfortable rooms Awesome stateroom attendant Beautiful gym Acrobat guys in the shows Photo organization and help at the shop The three waiters dance was really good one night in the dining room The shop keepers were nice and had a good selection of necessities and souvenirs at reasonable prices. Bad -Have customers tip on their own- personally so your staff has some incentive to provide decent service. E.g. The air hockey table stole 2 tokens from us and didn't work. I asked a waiter about it and he said to ask another waiter. I asked the guy after a long wait... He basically shrugged and ignored the problem. Gave up. Again. - DO NOT RUSH US. We're on vacation. -Hire a charismatic, entertaining cruise director. (Example: Royal Caribbean Explorer. Everyone loves that guy!) -Not enough lounge chairs and people don't know they can take chairs with only towels on them... Don't put towels on all the chairs. It confuses people. -The jacuzzis are almost COLD and I'm sensitive to both hot and cold water. -There were always kids in the "adults only" area. So much for outdoor peace and quiet. -The shows are badly done to the point of disturbing. I was embarrassed for the performers. The dancers aren't in sync. The singers are ok but don't know the words to the songs half the time. The costumes are falling apart. -The ship is old, dusty and in need of some serious remodeling, cleaning and repair. It's very gaudy, busy and European. Ugly -The food was wretched to the point of being inedible. The desserts were all flavorless hunks of flour. The plating was simply gross. Bowls of grey mud with a mint leaf thrown on top? Really?? Even the Tiramisu... flavorless! You have the ingredients to make amazing food ! The 'cheesecake' was yellow paste cooked without cheese! The meat was almost all cooked from frozen. The fish was old and very fishy. The other meats were all fat, gristly and over cooked/dry. After 10 days I'd say the best food we had on board was the pesto pasta and the banana ice cream. Breakfast was disgusting - milky, watery, undercooked eggs. No variety. The corned beef hash was soup. The only way I cold get anything worth eating was to bring ingredients from other areas to the omelet station and ask for no watery, flavorless oil (they makes the eggs swim in the stuff), fresh eggs and give them the ingredients I'd collected. Teach these people to make an omlette or call it a scrambled egg pancake station. And please teach them to fully cook the eggs! There was NO variety in the breakfast buffet and barely any in the lunch buffet. Use seasoning people!! Taste the food you're serving! Watch the cooking channel. Fire your dining room and cooking managers. The plates had old hard stuff on them that had been done previously and stored. The dinnerware was dirty half the time. Doesn't ICE commonly occur in Iced Tea? The coffee was horrid. Old and burnt. Even the espresso and cappuccino was only a tiny bit better (not worth the $3-4 additional charge for less than a cup for sure). The free drinks are coffee, iced tea and water. No punch or lemonade... There was juice (apple, grapefruit and orange) for breakfast. Load up for the rest of the day if you want something other than the freebies. - The daily program. There's nothing to do on this ship if you don't dance or enjoy sales seminars. There was volleyball twice ... That's it for sports people! Go to the gym! I dance and did enjoy the variety of music. I brought home the daily programs so I'll try to post the 'highlights'. lol - Service please? I stood at a bar with one other cruiser (who already had a drink) for 10 minutes watching the bartender walk by less than 2 feet away from me 4 times and not even acknowledge my existence. When a 12 year old walked up beside me and got served immediately ... He still acted like I was invisible... I gave up and left. That was the one and only time I tried to get drinks at a bar on the ship. Thank God really... the mixed drinks are over $9 each once the 'service charge' (lol) is added. There were maybe 6 staff members who really seemed to be making an effort to please people. Our wonderful stateroom attendant told us he "wanted to make our cruise experience the best he possibly could" on the second day. He meant it. The entire staff should have this attitude with every cruiser. -If there was a Christmas celebration I think I missed it.. Oh wait maybe that was one night in the dining room with loud music where the staff held sparklers. Anticlimactic to say the least. -I'm a smoker and by the last two days of the cruise the smoke everywhere (even on all the top decks in the wind) was making me ill. If you're dieting and want to sleep all day in a comfortable room on a ship for 10 days... Or if you've been to Italy (I'm Italian by the way) and enjoy the rude people and typical tasteless food... This ship could be perfect for you! For the record, I'd be willing to be paid to go back on this boat and straighten it out in order of importance. Costa has the ability and resources to be an excellent European flavored cruise line with the right management. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
My husband and I decided to splash the cash and have a Christmas to remember but this was one I would happily forget. Having previously sailed on the Thomson Destiny we were expecting the same high standards, however our experience on ... Read More
My husband and I decided to splash the cash and have a Christmas to remember but this was one I would happily forget. Having previously sailed on the Thomson Destiny we were expecting the same high standards, however our experience on the Thomson Dream was so upsetting we are considering never cruising with Thomson again. The food in general was the standard of school dinners. The self service restaurant was staff served for the first half of the holiday until people complained about the small portions (on one occasion I asked for more and felt like "Oliver"). There were 1700 guests on board split into 2 sittings for Christmas Day. We opted for 2nd sitting following the Captain's cocktail party. The Captain's cocktail party was a joke. We were taken to the main show lounge and given 1 glass of wine (no canapes ). After listening for what seemed an eternity to a violinist on stage we (850 guests) were shepherded to the dining room for dinner but it wasn't open. We queued on the stairs to get in for 40 minutes and the queue was escorted round and round the restaurant trying to find available seats. People were squashed in wherever there was a gap and after were eventually seated then came the big wait for food. Getting a drink was difficult, getting food impossible. I was expecting a nice sparkling wine with my Christmas meal but it was the usual white, pink or red table wine but to be honest any drink would do. I ordered Waldorf salad and got 3 pieces of apple and half a walnut on lettuce. We saw our main course delivered to the service station but no-one brought it over. My (cold) turkey dinner consisted of turkey and stuffing -- ok, 1 rosette of mashed sweet potato, 3 frozen sprouts, 1 piece of carrot and 1 piece swede. Other people had Christmas crackers but we had none. We asked many times for crackers but were just given excuses. I eventually went to get my own. We paid £200 each for 1 week's drink package and were so angry when we found out that we had to buy a bottle of drinking water for our room. I don't like rola cola but real cola had a supplement of .95p per can as did Sprite and Fanta. We were also miffed to find that once on board there were drink offers such as buy one get one free on cocktails and we could have saved a fortune by buying our drinks onboard. All in all we felt ripped off. The entertainment team was adequate but certainly not the standard we had seen previously on the Destiny. A comedian was brought onboard for one of the evenings but his 30 year old jokes were offensive and not pc in today's society. I also felt deeply embarrassed by his attempts at crooning. The holiday was a disaster even before we left Manchester. Our booking documentation stated that we had to go to the Thomson cruise desk to have our bags sealed before checking in but when we arrived there was no cruise desk. We were told to go to the normal check in desk and a Thomson rep was frantically running up and down the queue sealing baggage and distributing labels. The Thomson rep was holding up the checkin staff who were waiting with empty desks whilst she was messing around with bags. It took us 70 minutes to get through checkin and because of this delay we were unable to take full advantage of the Servisair Lounge we had paid extra for. All in all a very disappointing holiday. Thank you Thomson for spoiling our Christmas. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
The ship was okay. Very clean and the staff helpful but I was left with a very poor image of the Company - Cruise and Maritime. Christmas was a big non event. The ship was barely decorated for Xmas. New Year was slightly better but not ... Read More
The ship was okay. Very clean and the staff helpful but I was left with a very poor image of the Company - Cruise and Maritime. Christmas was a big non event. The ship was barely decorated for Xmas. New Year was slightly better but not much. The ship advertises for the 60+ age group but realistically it is aimed at 80+ and all the events on board are aimed at this age group. To say we were disappointed is an understatement. I have not approached the company as I do not want recompense for my trip. I just want others to know what it is really like. The entertainment was average to poor. Imagine on New Year's Eve at 55 years to be given a song sheet from the first World War. A woman in our group nearly cried! I was not the only person feeling like this. I was told that 26 people had left the ship at various destinations on route. Some were ill but I was led to believe that most just could not stand it any longer. I met many people on the cruise and very few had a good word to say about it. Some may argue that I am moaning for the sake of it. No - I still work and work hard for my money and my time out, as does my partner. I have never been on a holiday before and not only wished the days to pass quicker, but did start to feel depressed and would have preferred being at work. If you are looking for a holiday with good food and entertainment, LOOK ELSEWHERE! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We did RCL's New Year's Trip RT out of New Orleans. We live in the area right now, so we drove to the port. We have left out of 3 other ports including 1 outside the US and this port was the worst the leave out of. It took us a ... Read More
We did RCL's New Year's Trip RT out of New Orleans. We live in the area right now, so we drove to the port. We have left out of 3 other ports including 1 outside the US and this port was the worst the leave out of. It took us a long time to get to the parking lot, we then had to wait in a very long line (even as Gold members), and it took nearly 1.5 hours just to get on the ship. We spoke with other travelers who have experienced other ports and shared the same frustration at embarkation in NOLA. It seemed they had much fewer guest service people checking everyone in, since we sailed thru security rather quickly (once we got to that point!). The ship was decked out in holiday regalia. We absolutely hate the holidays and often try to escape to a non-christian country to avoid the cold, Christmas caroling, and what not. We were pleased that even though the ship was dressed to impress for the holidays, we did not hear any Christmas music and it was toned down the further we got into the cruise. The 3rd night, the main dining room was free of Christmas stuff entirely, and by the end of the trip the only item left visible was the tree in the Promenade. We were so grateful for that!All our days at sea were crappy weather. I know the cruise lines cannot do anything about this. They moved the majority of events from the outside into the inside or cancelled them all together. We never had a lack of something to do onboard, but would have appreciated 1 day sitting by the pool, but alas it was beautiful once we were down in the Caribbean! Our cruise directors were hilarious, personable, and we had a great time on 70's night, NYE party, and a few sail away parties camped out in the outdoor hot tubs watching the sunset. We did go see several of the shows, the Platters brought down the house! Not a dry eye in the place! The juggler was okay, the comedian was mostly funny (we were both sober, so maybe some alcohol helped). Formal nights were fun and orderly. I took 1 of the photography classes while onboard and the staff down there were wonderful. Two of the photographers were very gifted and we bought all the photos these 2 took, with the rest being rather lack luster. We really enjoy the portraits as they are framed fun memories of our adventures. The people onboard were by far the friendliest we have encountered. We met many people from all over the US. I met a fellow photographer onboard and we spent an hour on the pool deck showing me how to work my new fancy camera. We met another couple NYE night in Boleros bar near midnight and had great conversation, laughs and dancing. The celebrations on the Promenade were fun to be had by all and even though it was insanely crowded and loud, people were still nice and willing. We tolerate the Windjammer when we are too tired or don't want to think about where to round up food. (Isn't the point of a cruise to not think for a week?). Some things in the Windjammer were good, others awful, you just kind of learned what to avoid. The hand santizer guy at the Windjammer won employee of the month for his insane amount of enthusiasm in the morning getting everyone to sanitize their hands. He was awesome to wake up to every morning! We buy the soda package on these cruises and between him and the caffeine, you were moving in the morning! We did eat at Johnny Rockets 1 day for lunch, we didn't need to eat anything till our 8pm dinner and even then we weren't really hungry. Johnny Rockets is so much fun, loud, and food is good for diner food. Love the cheese fries and chocolate milk shakes. I would eat there every day just for those two things, but I would have gained 10 pounds on a weeklong cruise doing that! Lol. We also ate at Chops Grille on NYE night. We had a 6:30pm seating, and the place was empty when we got there with a few couples wandering in by 8pm when we rolled ourselves out of there. Our steaks were good, dessert phenonmenal, and we even got funky hats for NYE celebrations later. Our waitress was nice but not super informative. The very first time we had Chops on an RCL line (Serenade of the Seas in 8/09), we got "the steak talk" from our waiter. They went over the kinds of cuts, how best to cook them, etc. We have not been able to get "the steak talk" since then, and only for that reason would not rate it as the best Chops experience we have had. I would have enjoyed more interaction with our server, the host was very friendly and pleasant and spoke with us several times throughout our meal.Now the main dining room. We had the best waiter we have ever had on any ship, ever. Volcun (seriously, that's his name), was happy, energetic, happy to talk to us, polite, joked with us, and overall just a wonderful person. We never wanted for anything. We were in a back room from the main dining room, which we were initially upset about, but he more than made up for it. After we found out that RCL no longer does the Caribbean dance through the main dining room with the waiters dressed in kitchen accutreman, it didn't matter we were not in the main dining room. Our table only had 1 other couple at it, and they too helped make dinner very enjoyable each evening. We had so much fun talking to them and learning about each other. We made friends with them, and took them to the airport when we disembarked. Again, total blast for the dining room. The food on average was ok. I feel the quality and most certainly the proportions have declined. But if we didn't like something, our waiter quickly brought us something else. We would order different desserts and our waiter would bring us everything on the list just to truly each night since we had an 8 person table with only 4 people at it. I was very unhappy to find out RCL no longer prints the Gratuity Coupons to go into your envelopes on the last night onboard. We have always prepaid gratuities and If we got special attention we would throw some extra cash in there. We always enjoyed passing around the envelopes on the last night, but since we got ho-hum service from everyone except our waiter, he was the only one who got additional cash. I asked the guest services desk if the employees are told who did pre-paid gratuities, and she said no. So we wrote on our envelopes that we did not put cash in "We prepaid your tip and RCL will not print a coupon". So we were rather disappointed at that. Knowing that in the future, we will not prepay our gratuities and do strictly cash for everyone. I don't know if that was RCL's goal or not, but that is what it resulted in.Please DO NOT book excursions through Royal in Grand Cayman. We routinely buy excursions thru the cruise line and pay the higher price largely for the "idiot factor" of not having to think or worry on our trip. Grand cayman is beautiful, civilized, and the port is built to have ample opportunity to get a tour from a vendor there on site or even take a taxi to a local beach w/o a fuss. Our guide here was half an hour late, literally read road signs of local businesses to us for our tour, then rushed us through places to get back on schedule because the boat left at 3pm. Our travel agent warned us against doing a cruise ship sponsored trip and she was totally right. We loved Grand Cayman and cannot wait to go back and "do it right". In Jamaica (our first port day on New Years Day), we signed up to do Dunn River's Falls and Green Grotto Caves. First off, that was a mistake to sign up for 2 very physical activites right after New Years night. We don't drink, but we were still up late and had to be off the ship by 8am for this tour. We were dragging all day. Dunn River's Fall was ok, not sure I would do it again. The perpetual hounding to buy something got very old very quickly. The Green Grotto caves were very neat to see. In Cozumel we chose to go mudding in a dune buggy to the Jade Caverns. Fun, but again not what we expected. We spent a lot of time broken down and only got about 5 minutes at the caverns. They try for these corny photo ops holding an alligator, next to parrots and hawks and the like, but they are far from good photos. Half of them didn't even show up on the screen at the end of the tour anyway. I believe it was termed an X-rails adventure. Bring a bandana, wrap around sunglasses, towel, and a change of clothes. You will get COATED in mud (which is what we wanted). We would do this tour again if given the chance. The facility was nice, the people friendly, and they provided taxis back to the pier (about a 10 minute drive). The pier in cozumel is great for shopping. We went back to the ship, grabbed a quick shower, and went back off to go have lunch at Senor Frogs along the water at the pier. I recommend Senor Frogs! Fun party atmosphere, all their drinks come in tall obnoxious plastic glasses, and the food was really good. I bought a tanzanite ring from Tanzanite International on the pier here, they love to haggle, so never pay the first price they say!After Cozumel we cruised back to New Orleans. We had a wonderful trip even though the weather was awful (cloudy, 70 knot winds on deck, all outdoor activities this day were cancelled including the dodge ball tournament we were looking forward to watching). Next year the ship will be something else and it will go to different ports out of NOLA. We are seriously considering doing another New Years trip out of this city, and would happily return to this port to do more in the future once we are platinum or higher guests because they got on very quickly. The people onboard this cruise were super friendly and we had a great time doing a wide variety of activities! Our room attendant was good, not great, but he did his job. We enjoy inside rooms because they get totally dark, have always been very quiet for us, and we are hardly in the room if we are awake! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
I was worried about choosing the Maasdam, because it is the 2nd oldest and 2nd smallest of HAL's fleet. Let me tell you, for cruises, SMALLER is BETTER! The personal attention we received was amazing, and only once did we have to ... Read More
I was worried about choosing the Maasdam, because it is the 2nd oldest and 2nd smallest of HAL's fleet. Let me tell you, for cruises, SMALLER is BETTER! The personal attention we received was amazing, and only once did we have to wait in line for anything! Typically, on ships with 2,000-3,000 passengers, it can be a chore trying to get to the showroom early to find a good seat, or even find a lounge chair on the deck on sea days. Not on the Maasdam! I never had to look far for an open chair, the showroom was over half empty every night (and not because the entertainment wasn't good), and only once did we have to wait for dinner. It was Christmas Eve, and a formal night, on a port day. Typically, ships do not do a formal night on a port day, but they did in this case because of Christmas Eve. They also pushed the entertainment up one hour (to 7:00 & 9:00 shows, instead of 8:00 & 10:00) in order to fit in a Christmas show at 11. Well, no one showed up to anytime dining at 6:00, but everyone showed up at 7:30 or 8:00, which means half of us had to wait over an hour to be seated after 9:00. Aside from that, everything was walk-right up, and there were no lines anywhere. I will now always look for the smaller ships whenever possible. The only ammenity I missed from a slightly larger ship was a larger thermal suite area. Oh, well. I was worried a little bit about rough sees tossing such a small ship, and we did have 2 rough days out of 14, but I survived. I will definitely do a smaller ship in the Caribbean. Don't know yet if I'm willing to try a smaller ship on the Pafific! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
My husband, myself and our 14 year old daughter were a bit hesitant going on this cruise as we were told by many that it was for the more mature traveller (over 60), but we turned our smile upside down and decided to make the most of it. ... Read More
My husband, myself and our 14 year old daughter were a bit hesitant going on this cruise as we were told by many that it was for the more mature traveller (over 60), but we turned our smile upside down and decided to make the most of it. Basically, we had a ball. Our daughter was glued to our side for the first 48 hours but then met some lovely teens (14-18) and basically we didn't see her after that. She met others from around the world and given her personality, made some great friends.Yes, the demographic on the boat was that of an older genre but in general, we didn't go on the holiday to meet people, it was about us spending quality time together as a family as we work long hours and needed family time. The room was fantastic and Benjamin who looked after us, always had a smile and he couldn't do enough for us. He treated us all with respect as we did with him. All staff went out of their way to make our time on board very enjoyable so there were no complaint in this regard.The food was plentiful and very tasty. Again, no complaints.The shore tours that we booked were fun although expensive. At other ports, we just hired our own car and "went for a drive". The teen club was not used very much by our daughter - the group of friends she made just hung out around the pool, at the ping pong table or dinner table and generally just did their own thing. The entertainment for our age (late 40s) was very mediocre. We found that after doing shore tours all day, the last thing we wanted to do was get back on the ship, dress, have a formal evening and then party. The only negative in this respect was that everything on the ship started so late (11.00pm). The only one night that I was looking forward to going out was an Abba night in one of the nightclubs but I was too tired so didn't go.I also found that the majority of the night entertainment as mentioned above, only went for a couple of hours at the most. So by the time you were just "getting into it", the evening came to an end. Probably good though - didn't wake up with a headache at all!!!!The main issue we had on this cruise was the arrogance of the passengers onboard. Yes, it is only a few that make a name for the majority but the mannerisms that we witnessed and the way that some of the staff were spoken to, was just disgusting. You should be ashamed of yourself.!!!The formal nights we also felt were too over the top. When holidaying, we didn't want to be dictated to in what we could or could not wear so found this a little intimidating. Would definitely do this cruise again - highly recommended. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
A nightmare before Christmas... Breeze dec 22-30th - cruising with kids... Now here I go starting off negative like others To be honest though it really was not that bad. Everyone needs to lighten up including myself Hey we are on ... Read More
A nightmare before Christmas... Breeze dec 22-30th - cruising with kids... Now here I go starting off negative like others To be honest though it really was not that bad. Everyone needs to lighten up including myself Hey we are on vacation on a gorgeous new ship traveling to new exciting destinations other than the typical east/west itineraries. So here is my take on it all. A very rocky start (literally) that did improve over the duration of the cruise. New to carnival but past RCL and NCL cruisers. New Yorkers with grandparents and kids in tow age 4-8. Ship is immaculate! Pools are warm and the jacuzzis are hot! It makes a difference because it keeps the kids swimming. First two sea days. Windy, Rainy, rocky. ** bring sweatshirts**. The water park and skycourse ropes course were closed as well. Pre-cruise- stayed at the foutainblu miami, tresor tower. Love it here. Rooms rental by owner getting a huge 1000sq ft suite, full kitchen with magnificent views at less than half rack. No resort fee but maid service is extra . Heated pools, plush towels, attentive staff, delicious food (fish tacos), inv entive cocktails, great kids meals. Quick taxi to Lincoln road. Past serveral years Always dine at Rosinella for homemade, inexpensive authentic Italian. Embarkation - left after lunch. Taxi $40 about 20 mins. Left hotel at 1:30, stopped at Walgreens and were onboard by 2:30. Fastest ever!! Not one line. Quick and easy as could be! Brought 2 bottles of wine in carryon. Cheers program - purchase by atrium bar as soon as you board. Gratuity added but I still tipped $1-2 each time. Throughout the cruise Lots of Charge errors - Definitely have to watch bill. Servers made mistakes. Ie. drinks over $10 are 25% off, Perrier 25% off. If I bought say a water and wine sometimes wine was charged and soda was 25% off. Husband and I in separate cabins so only one of us purchased and no issues getting say 1 drink from 1 bar and then another drink moments later from a server. Top shelf liquor some very good drinks - grey goose martini, chipotle passion, carribean colada, perfect margarita. Yum! Cabin- 8th floor, connecting balcony near atrium elevator. Port side. Amazing sunsets. Great location. Easy walk up to lido. loved having the connecting rooms. Opened up balcony partition. *make sure you unhook shelves in closets. I didn't figure this out at first! Ordered the Bon voyage for kids room and kiddie goodie bags from carnival. Room Stewart's were warm and very attentive. Rooms always tidy. *tip extra in the beginning. It makes a difference. We also had an extra child registered to the grandparents room stay with us and it was not an issue. We decorated our door /cabin for the holidays. ! Entertainment/activities Seaside movies under the stars **was a favorite for our group. Huge screen. Different themes - date night, family, superhero, James bond. After very hectic days, it was nice to relax under the stars. Supersoft blankets available in the towel hut and popcorn by the bar. Waterworks - when it was hot out and skycourse when it was finally open were a huge hit with both kids and adults. The attendants there told me people were very angry but note it was closed because of high winds! It was a safety issue. The sports square kept us busy with mini golf. The kid also loved the basketball court and the outside exercise equipment. Thrill theater- go right away and get the unlimited pass. I have no idea why we waited until the end but my kids loved this. Disney like and a nice break from the sun. $7.95 for one show and $14.95 unlimited. They don't charge for lap children. Dj - I liked the dj. Played a eclectic mix of music. At first I too missed the carribean band but some afternoons they had solo guitarist playing and he was outstanding! Cruise diectors - Butch & Amy 6'3" we're energetic and visible! From their morning show broadcasted by the main pool a clever way to hear about the ship/port happenings. To the night deck parties and Christmas show. 5th floor promenade walk had a nice flow from venue to venue. Punch-liners - funny comedians. I know others complained about the venue being small but I thought the size was appropriate and if you can get seats if you showed up 10/15 mins early then passing Piano bar Ron always had a full house as well as the Souljaz band in the lanai. Ovation theater - divas Brits and Latin nights all entertaining though short. While not broadway like, they held our attention and digital stage back drips were incredible. Latin nights was the most entertaining. Food/bars This was a late crowd. Very quiet before 9am and after 10 packed!! Lunch 12-1 the marketplace had HUGE lines. In the evening 7:30ish the lines for photos were long! LUNCH/DAY 2 bars near main pool - red frog busier. Tequilla bar quiet. Guy fiery burger - Long lines in the early days of the cruise. 2 lines and the one starting in the buffet was shorter/went faster. Burrito bar - eggs wraps were delicious! Mexican eggs with The works. Line always went fast. *** no chips by salsa bar. Maybe bring some to eat with all the salsa choices. Food layout for "typical" kid fare was a nightmare. After the second day I saved bagels from breakfast for lunch. ** Burger- Guy Fieri main pool, Chicken nuggets- comfort food station, Pizza - aft made to order, Hot dog - 12 by mini golf, Pasta - 11 fill out order ticket cucina del captain and sit NIGHT Sapphire dining upper level early seating *** least favorite dining experience. For us it wasn't that the service or food was so bad or cold. I thought the staff worked very hard. It was the atmosphere. It felt like a diner. We barely made it by 6:30 for a 6pm seating. it was also freezing inside. The blush is clearly nicer though the aft for sure is rockier. So choose your evil here. Lobster served first elegant night. Blush restaurant offers 3pm tea on sea days Sushi- located on 5 fresh an tasty. Never busy. Had a snack there. Red frog also never busy. Cucina del captaino - made advance dinng reservations by emailing B@carnival.com Best family meals here, relaxed, great service, fresh made to order. One of the waiters sang Italian songs. ** this was our favorite dining experience. We ate dinner here twice, Lunch 2xs Fahrenheit - also made advance reservations by emailing BRSUPPER@carnival.com it was sold out except for the first and last night. I started emailing just over 3 weeks before sailing. We dined on The last evening and I had a nice lobster bisque, filet and apple crisp. ** we brought an uncorked bottle of wine and were charged a $15 corkage fee. We also asked to have the lobster ravioli as shared appetizer and that would be an extra $20 fee. Whatever. Honestly by the last night we were tired of eating and were surrounded by empty tables. I couldn't figure out why getting a preferred reservation was so difficult. Chef table- sold out 1 month before sailing Christmas activities Garland decoration around the atrium balconies Various trees placed throughout the ship Christmas eve - special show that camp carnival children participated in Sang Christmas carols, entertainment staff dressed in Santa suits. Gave out candy canes. Captain made an appearance and ended with a visit by santa each child could sit on his lap and take a photo. Christmas day there was a non denominational service. Christmas dinner menu included beef tenderloin etc. Seaside movie shown was elf. Camp Carnival/kids activities Considering the amount of children on board, camp carnival never seemed busy. Many children spend the cruise only with their family. I spend plenty of time with mine too but I found the program phenomenal. I have kids in the 2-5 and 6-8 age range. ** the answer to the big question is there flexibility to move between the age groups and the answer is YES. Clearly it's at the discretion of the staff. In my case they would have happily moved my almost 6 year old boy up. Guess what though.. He didnt want to go. We tried for days. He was perfectly content staying with the younger kids. The older group was a little too intimidating for him. He wanted to stay with his younger brother instead of his older sisters. The camp us social, education. The kids play games and participate in arts and crafts. There is free video game time. One day there was a magician Kids don't get bored! They have a couple of late nights for an extra fee. For the 6-8 year old fun till one party only had 15 kids! Another night owl party age 2-11 had more than 50. The kids are also given a napsack filled with goodies (flashlight. Toothbrush, etc) Kids can eat lunch and dinner there (mine did not). The spa also offered on 12/27 Aruba day a little kid (age 3-10) spa(mani/pedi) ice cream sundae party fom 5-7. If we had more notice we would have participated. I've done it before on another ship and the girls just love it! Debarkation - also very quick. It's done by zones and we happen to be zone 8 (7:30-8). They were running a little lateand we decided to leave around 8 and got off very quickly. We had to wait 20mins for our bags to come and customs did not have a line. Post cruise - 20 mins to the Westin Diplomat. Packed hotel sponsors of the Orange Bowl. Kids love seeing the football players. Room not ready until after 5! PORTS - we chose this cruise based on it's ports of call so I may as well comment/post our experience. GRAND TURK - missed due to high winds. Unsafe to dock. Of course we were disappointed buy want to be safe. I think people need to realize this is a different island than provinciales Had a private horseback riding excursion booked and emailed back and forth a few times: www.sunsetridesandtours.com This was the info I received from them but because I didn't actually get to go on the excursion, I cant comment how it is. They told me the beach ride is $75.00 usd adults and $60.00 usd children. the duration of the ride is 1.5 hrs. and we are very close and will have ample time on the beach. "We provide full round-trip transportation to and from our facilities unless requested otherwise, and we are only a 7 minute drive from the cruise pier. We pickup just outside the main entrance gate to the cruise center. (This for you would be the exit gate outside the parking lot, if you were heading into town). We have a tour scheduled for a 9:00 am pick-up on that day, so we can go ahead and schedule your for the same time. We are currently only accepting cash payments, which can be paid on the same day of the tour, before or after we ride. (Your preference) We also provide drinks (water and sodas) for our guests." .Also emailed bohio resort info@bohioresort.com "Thank you for contacting Bohio!You are most welcome to visit us the for the day, there is no charge.We have a great restaurant, beach bar and a lovely beach with good snorkeling.We do rent sun loungers ($10), snorkel gear ($20) and kayaks ($20), paddleboards ($30) all upon a first come , first served basis, depending upon our in- house guests and availability.We also run several "Snorkel on the Wall" boat trips per day to seeGrand Turk's famous coral reef and fish life, weather permitting. Cost is$40 per person, including snorkel equipment and is approximately 1 hour. Youare welcome to arrive at Bohio and arrange once here . There are no set times of departure as this excursion is dependant on ship time, so please let us know if you are interested. To reach Bohio, please take any taxi from the cruise ship terminal, the cost should be no more than $8 per person one way. We look forward to welcoming you soon. Kind Regards, Ginny & Tom" Dominican republic * we loved it here and never for a second did I not feel safe* Arrival at 8am and barely anyone got off. That is 9am DR time. We walked outside the gate and there were dozens of taxis lined up. Totally safe professional. We had a day pass planned at dreams la romana. The taxi was $40/50 I forget for 8 of us. We never get round trip. Taxis are easy to get when you are visiting a resort. The one hiccup we had is he by mistake took us to beach next to the Wyndham Dominicus Beach ( by the way looked very nice!). He apologized and we were at the dreams in 5 minutes. So distance from port to dreams was 16mins (22mins back) To the wyndham about 25 mins. The dreams hotel provides towels and a cold drink when you arrive. Warm friendly smiles. A little bit of a language barrier but good service and strong drinks. The kids had a blast on the ocean trampoline and pool rock climbing wall. There are a ton of empty chairs to the left you can bring over to when you first enter the beach. Buffet lunch with many choices. Crowd was mostly European. Some topless. Lots of activities, dance lessons, water aerobics. It was Christmas and the kids club set up a game where the kids could dig in the sand for presents (a bag filled with ballons and candy). Also a huge set up for Santa. "Here is the info from dreams: wrote: Thank you for selecting our resort to spend the day while in the beautiful port of La Romana! We take this time to inform you that a day pass costs $60.00US per person. Children 11 years of age and under will receive a 50% discount. The pass is valid from 10 30am until 5pm and gives you access to our beach area as well as provides you with unlimited food & beverages within the All Inclusive plan. As our resort does not provide transfers of any kind, please see the taxi service at the port directly regarding all information about pricing. The port is approx. 25 minutes away from our resort. If you wish to reserve a day pass please send us an email 10 days prior to your arrival providing us with a list of all names in your party. The day pass must be paid for upon arrival, in cash, directly at our main reception. Please note that all will need to provide proper identification when entering the resort. All the best, Kerry Consentino E Concierge Dreams La Romana Playa Bayahibe Tel:(809)221 8880 Fax: (809) 221 8881 econcierge.drelr@dreamsresorts.com Curaçao Booked a private tour with someone I found online - Diana Meyer. I booked simply because she had a website with her photo. Www.meyertransfers.webs.com. To be honest I'm a little paranoid at times getting in a foreign taxi with my small children. We were more than happy with Diana and our tour. I basically told her what I wanted to do. We arrived at 1pm ship time which is 2pm local time***. I didn't realize that but luckily our guide did and did not wait an hour. What this means though is you have *** limited daylight hours. The sun set around 6. She drove us around town highlighting all the top sights around town, passing store llined cobblestone streets (most were closed 12/26) and then over the high bridge. Quick stop Bon bini for liquor tasting. Then to the ostrich farm. She had never been but we /kids loved it! Definite recommend if you want to do something different. It wasn't far from the port. Maybe 20mins. Cost I think was $12 each but we always said our youngest child was under 3 and never had to pay for him.. We drove with a guide in an open air truck learning all about them and this ecological farm. There were other animals, even crocodiles to see. Another highlight was feeding some young ostriches. The babies were due in Jan so this was the only miss not being able to hold them. If you want to ride an ostrich you have to go before 3pm and age is over 18. It was too late after to go to the caves so instead we went to cabana beach for a quick swim. A very happening beach with DJ and lounges. Many Europeans. Watched the sun set. We ended the tour at the restaurant I made dinner at cafe gouverneur rouville - a historic building with a magnificent view of Punda. I made advance reservations by emailing (info@de-gouverneur.com) Mixed thoughts about this place. Amazing balcony table with stunning view. Mediocre food and slow, slow, slow service!! Quick easy walk through the fort (many restaurants, live music) back to the cruise ship! What a day! ARUBA Our plan was for this to be a lazy beach day. Researched about getting a day pass and the radisson and holiday inn do not offer them in high season. The rui was $110 for the day. Instead I took a quick 10min cab ride for $14 to Palm beach. I asked to be dropped off in between the radisson and the hyatt and there was a watersports place with $5 chair rentals along with umbrellas or whatever else. It was a picture perfect beach day. Walm cAlm waters perfect for children and watersports. Aruba is just gorgeous! We rented jet skis $65 and the kids had a couple of chair tube rides $15. Each. We had lunch at the pelican pier. It was packed! We left by walking through the hyatts lush gardens and waterfalls looking at many iguanas a and parrots. Back near the port it seemed people were going on shipping sprees. I saw many cruise passengers with armfuls of shopping bags. A little bit of a line getting back on board. Other tips - Pack less, pack less, pack less. Boy is it tight in those rooms - jumbo size ziplock bags definite helped organize bath suit, socks, underwear - limited hangers in the closet could def help to bring some - brought kids robes I used daily - beach towels clips to keep towels in place - remember islands are 1 hour later when booking private excursions - we travel with strollers to at least help with the bags of stuff! Have fun!   Read Less

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