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5,971 Repositioning Cruise Reviews

As this was our first ever crossing on the QM2, we had no plan to write a review at first, especially after seeing Liz McGregor's article. She must be one of our fellow class mates learning to play Bridge during the six day crossing ... Read More
As this was our first ever crossing on the QM2, we had no plan to write a review at first, especially after seeing Liz McGregor's article. She must be one of our fellow class mates learning to play Bridge during the six day crossing and, furthermore, we utterly and fully endorsed the fair comments in her unbiased review. That was until we saw the grossly inaccurate and untruthful contents in a review by Settle2000. Whatever the reasons, we can only assume they were sour grapes after not receiving a price reduction or free upgrade. Bathroom toiletries in our state room 4195 were always plentiful and repeatedly stocked up. We chose to have our breakfast and lunch each day at the Kings Court, saving the evening dinner (2nd sitting) in the Britannia Restaurant, where the same table was reserved for us throughout with no specific reservation or prompting. Wherever we ate we always found a wide selection of mouth watering dishes to choose from. Indeed we have saved all six menus at the Britannia Restaurant as souvenoir and we would be delighted to prove Settle2000 wrong by getting them printed if CruiseCritic would allow us to do so. We were amazed by the degree of unbelievable artistry displayed by the talented chefs in Kings Court, ranging from sculptures made of butter, ice or chocolate to flowers made from vegetables. We only went for the Afternoon Tea at the Queens Room served by waiters in white gloves, on just one occasion. That was ok by any standard, but of course we have had the fortunate experience previously to enjoy a ritualistic Afternoon Tea at the Penninsula Hotel, Kowloon, Hong Kong. There were many activities held each day to satisfy all walks of life, from Bingo or Quiz at the Golden Lion, gambling in the Casino to educational lectures, musical performances and cooking demonstrations. All the staff, whatever the time of night or day, were noticeably courteous, attentive and efficient. From the Matre'D to the Ship's Captain, they were all easily approachable. We particularly enjoyed the Captain's humorous, nautical daily announcement at noon, with a pinch of salt, in conjunction with his friend Patrick O'Shaughnessy! To coin the old saying "we'll be back", we have enjoyed so much our first experience on board QM2 that we have already booked the next cruise from Dubai to Southampton in April 2011, within the same category and in the same stateroom. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We are a couple in our mid forties from Australia who undertook this cruise at the end of a two month trip through Britain and Europe. We were originally looking for an alternative way home from Europe that didn't involve another long ... Read More
We are a couple in our mid forties from Australia who undertook this cruise at the end of a two month trip through Britain and Europe. We were originally looking for an alternative way home from Europe that didn't involve another long tedious flight. Unable to find a cruise from Europe to Australia that fitted in with our time frame we settled upon one that would get us as far as South America which would leave us with 'only' a fourteen hour flight home. Whilst researching this ship and company we did come across a lot of negative comments but as our first priority was the actual voyage we went ahead with the booking anyway. So here, dear readers are the results. The cruise commenced in Venice on the 15th of November at what is essentially the end of the Mediterranean cruise season. Therefore this ship was being repositioned to South America providing us with an interesting itinerary. The ports of call where Dudrovnik, Tunis, Malaga, Casablanca, Las Palmas, Recife, Buzious, Salvador de Bahia, Rio De Janeiro and finally, Buenos Aries. In all a total of twenty one nights with ten sea days. Boarding went ahead with no real dramas so far as we could tell but as this is only our third cruise we don't have much to compare it with but the process was no better or worse than the other two cruise lines that we've travelled with. The ship itself was launched in 2001 making it one of the oldest in MSC's fleet. However we heard that it had just spent a month in dock prior to this trip so had obviously undergone a great deal of work. Apart from the a complete repaint our cabin appeared to be brand new with not one bit of wear and tear on any fittings or fixtures....no scuff marks, scratches or anything! I do not know whether this applies to all cabins, it is hard after all to imagine a complete revamp in only four weeks, or whether this is part of a gradual overhaul. Anyway we were very pleased when we first set foot in our cabin which was located on the 10th deck on the port side near the stern and had a window. We did originally try to get a balcony cabin but as this is an older ship it doesn't have as many as the newer ones so subsequently they were booked out early on. The overall condition of everything else was very good and everything was spotlessly clean. As I inferred before we had heard quite a few negative comments about MSC with one recurring thing being the rudeness and helpfulness of the staff. I also read recently that MSC had made a major effort to rectify this. That being the case well let me say that they did a good job as all our experiences with staff at all levels was nothing but good with happy smiles everywhere we ventured and all queries and requests dealt with without us feeling in the least bit as though we were just bothersome creatures interfering the the efficient running of the ship. Where this ship did differ from our previous experiences, which were with Princess and Carnival, is that in being a European line, MSC obviously cater for a predominantly European clientèle. So if you expect everything to be run along the same lines as American ships then you might be disappointed. As we had just spent some time in Europe then we were already 'tuned in' to some of these differences. Firstly the meal times were rather late by our standards. The first sitting was at 7.00pm and the second not until 9.15pm! So if you don't like eating late then get in early. This is however the way they eat in Italy and it is after all their ship. Another thing was coffee and tea not being available at all hours unless you bought one (quiet inexpensive) at one of the cafes or bars on board. Coffee was available at breakfast and during afternoon tea but not even offered at the end of dinner. We did ask for it at the end of dinner on the first night and was brought one without so much as a funny look so can't really complain there. We did read in an earlier review that this situation depends on what part of the world the ship is sailing in and this situation does change according to the market being catered for. Water is the only thing free all day to drink. Again at dinner only expensive bottled water is on offer. We did, however, ask for tap water instead and were initially told by our waiter that he'd have to ask his boss. He did come back and say that this was no problem but would have to take the glasses away to fill them and couldn't leave a jug of water on the table....possibly so as not to let other passengers see what we were drinking. To their credit however they did put a glass of tap water on the table just for us each night without us having to ask for it again. This is obviously a multilingual ship and as English speakers we were definitely in the minority. We were able to speak with most staff though and all the daily programs etc provided in our cabin were written in English only. All the announcements made on the ship were in five languages but mercifully most days none were made at all and rarely more than one or two. This was in contrast to carnival who seem to delight in providing constant and unwelcome announcements on everything possible making prolonged conversation impossible! Although the ship is Italian, the majority of the passengers where Argentinean with the second biggest group being German. When I said that being English speaking put us in the minority I wasn't joking with our group only numbering about 50-60 out of 1700 odd. Maybe a dozen fellow Australians, very few Americans and the rest from Britain that I know of. They did sit people at dinner according to language so don't let this worry you. The only problem this caused on our cruise was that many of the shore excursions were cancel due to lack of numbers but they did attempt to put you on an alternative tour with English commentary or as we did, join a tour with the Germans and have fun anyway. Just be sure to read about what you will be seeing beforehand. Remember also that you don't go to Europe expecting to be catered for at all times in your native tongue, yet we still go and have a great time and cruising like this is no different. Now the thing on most peoples minds, the food. Well put simply we had no complaints here. We stuck with the buffet for breakfast and lunch. Of course there were the options of one of the restaurants for the same meals but we forwent the formalities. There were also other options for lunch such as pizza bars etc. One important point to make is that there was no alternative to the evening meals aside from your allotted restaurant sitting. No buffet or anything else. This was fine with us as we enjoyed the evening meals but if you don't have any formal wear for the gala evenings then there's no escaping unless you don't want to eat. The food itself was good and plentiful. Tremendous variety, many healthy options and the food was always hot enough. There was one night where three people at our table ordered roast beef which was too tough to cut, let alone eat but these meals were immediately taken away and replaced with no fuss what so ever. Laundry on board was a bit of a problem however as there was no self service facilities available. The only options were the rather expensive ships laundry or to do your own in your cabin with obvious limitations. It's a bit hard to blame MSC for this as this ship was taken over by them from another now defunct cruise line and I guess it's a bit hard to add one later on. I've no idea whether the newer ships commissioned by MSC have these facilities or not. What could be provided but is not are ironing facilities. These are not provided except for by again an expensive service provided by the ship so unless you have deep pockets it's best to bring travel clothes that don't require ironing or even bring a small travel iron to use in your cabin. The alcohol served on the ship was quite expensive and you are not allowed to bring any on board. A few passengers did smuggle some on though but if you are caught it's put in storage until you leave the ship. There were a number of drink packages available which brings the price down a bit but these don't suit everyone. The duty free alcohol available to buy on board is reasonably priced though so if you are happy to drink in your cabin then this is a much better option. A 900ml bottle of Baileys for instance was the same price as three 4cl glasses bought at a bar. Most other services on board are also expensive such as the ridiculously overpriced spa facilities but this is always par for the course and we never bother anyway. We did get haircuts which was easily double what you would pay for a (mans) haircut ashore. Strangely, a plain womans cut was cheaper than a mans. Again easily avoided if you get one before the cruise. The gym facilities are fine with good equipment. If you are into running you'll find the lack of a proper jogging track an issue and treadmills are only for guinea pigs anyway. The lifeboats decks are fine for walking along and good for avoiding the crowds. Another good way to get exercise is to always use the stairs as we do. This is great as everyone is so lazy that they only use the lifts so you mostly have the stairs to yourself. Like most ships there's always a quiet bar or lounge area hidden away somewhere when you want some peace and quiet during the day and the Starlight Disco on deck 12 is good for this. If you want lot's of entertainment put on for you then there was usually something happening somewhere. Plenty of live music around the ship and shows most evenings. We didn't go to many of these as In typical European style they were on quite late, well past our bedtime anyway. The disco for instance didn't kick off until 11.30pm as did a lot of other events such as Mr Armonia and that type of thing. The pool area was very crowded and noisy during the day but the various sun decks scattered around weren't too busy and nice and quiet. There is no movie theatre on board but movies (in English) were shown on your television continuously throughout the day. Maybe not current releases but not too old either. There's one thing that I would advise against and that's the onboard wifi service. We signed up for one hours worth of access as we had our own notebook, This was not only very, very expensive at 20 Euros but was as good as useless. We used up almost our entire hour attempting to download 19 emails and only succeeded in downloading 8! If you want to try opening a webpage then you really need to have loads of patience and very deep pockets. MSC must be making buckets out of this service as you can order a daily newspaper from your home country which they obviously download each day and it only costs you a couple of euros and is nicely bound to boot. So the download cost for them must be minimal. This is a good service by the way. What we did do though was to sit on deck and try hooking up to an unsecure wifi signal in various ports and succeeded in Rio de Janeiro, managing in a fraction of the time to do more emailing for free than we managed in our paid hour on the ship! The ever present threat of those self destructive people, yes the smokers, is not as bad as one might image it to be on a European ship. Smoking is confined to certain areas both within and around the ship and are easily avoided. It's odd though that smoking is discouraged in the cabins but not banned. To sum up then, although we had quite a few reservations prior to this trip most of them were unfounded or of no real consequence. Would we travel with MSC again? Quite happily. Was it the best cruise that we've been on? No, we loved the Sapphire Princess most of all but then our experiences are limited and this wasn't too far behind. But we will always choose a cruise based on itinerary rather than cruise line or ship so if the MSC Armonia is going somewhere that you want to go and you can accept that there are other ways of doing things other than the American way then jump on board. You'll have fun! Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We have just returned from a 12 day canary island cruise on the Cunard Queen Victoria.The water was a little rough for about 8 of the days and the ship really cant handle it.There was a constant rolling motion and loud banging throughout ... Read More
We have just returned from a 12 day canary island cruise on the Cunard Queen Victoria.The water was a little rough for about 8 of the days and the ship really cant handle it.There was a constant rolling motion and loud banging throughout the night.We dont get seasick but many people on board were ill for most of the trip.We have been in rougher seas on other ships and never had this problem,so there was much speculation amongst the passengers as to why a big newer ship would be like this.The cabin was of average size,but I thought the bathroom was tiny even by cruiseship standards.The food was just Ok.I cruised on Celebrity Constellation last year,and thought the food was by far superior on Celebrity.It seemed to be an even older crowd than most cruises we have been on and needless to say any excursions we booked that indicated a little adventure,were cancelled due to lack of interest.In all fairness this happens a lot on the cruises we have been on.Due to a passenger having a medial emergency and the rough seas we were behind in schedule and one of our ports of call had to be cancelled,which was a disappointment but not the fault of Cunard.In Cunards favour ,their staff are very efficient and attentive and embarking and disembarking are the best of any cruise line.Their entertainment is top notch and varied.In closing I guess with Cunards long standing reputation,I really expected more but I found them only average compared to other lines Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We took the Thalys from Brussels to London and then a bus to Southampton the day before embarcation.We were two of the 4 Belgians aboard. Access to boarding on departure in Southampton was easy. We stayed overnight at the Ibis hotel and ... Read More
We took the Thalys from Brussels to London and then a bus to Southampton the day before embarcation.We were two of the 4 Belgians aboard. Access to boarding on departure in Southampton was easy. We stayed overnight at the Ibis hotel and walked to the departure terminal. The waiting there was of an acceptable duration. Our cabin was quite comfortable and spotless. During the cruise we had many reasons to commend our steward Kenneth. Dining "on our own time" led to some confusion at the beginning but was a most convenient system for us allowing reservation of a table for two at requested hour for dinner at midday. We thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment which we judged to be of a high quality.The MC Joff is the best we've seen on any cruise. Of the four stops : Le Havre : depressing Stalinist architecture/ Cherbourg : more typically French but really not worth a visit. We surmised that these stops were intended for Americans wishing to visit the 1944 landing beaches and Paris. Vigo : we took the well organized tour to Santiago de Compostella. Interesting but not overwhelming. Madeira : this was the best day of the whole cruise for us. Beautiful island and very agreeable walk in Funchal. We took a bus to the Botanic Garden and enjoyed the splendid variety of plants and flowers. One negative is the loud music played in most public areas. It is clearly chosen by people of another generation than 90% of the passengers. Too trendy ! Another negative is the faulty billing of wine and drinks. Very difficult to correct and finally fixed after many unkept promises.(5 days) My wife was worried she might get seasick. This crossing was remarkably smooth or it could be a combination of that and excellent stabilizers on the ship. And then : the big spoiler ! Most probably not to be attributed to the ship or the line but to the U.S.A's obsession with security. We stood in line for THREE HOURS to get through immigration.And then another hour's waiting for the car rental shuttle because the driver assumed there would be no more customers after such a long time. This authority has obviously not adapted to the huge number of passengers on recently built ships and is responsible for spoiling our remembrance of this cruise and our loss of half a day vacation-time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We arrived at JFK Airport with plenty of time to spare. We flew Aer Lingus to Dublin, where we changed planes to fly to Malaga. The Dublin Airport is an amazing place. We arrived there at 4:30 in the morning and EVERYTHING was open and I ... Read More
We arrived at JFK Airport with plenty of time to spare. We flew Aer Lingus to Dublin, where we changed planes to fly to Malaga. The Dublin Airport is an amazing place. We arrived there at 4:30 in the morning and EVERYTHING was open and I mean everything. Every shop and restaurant was open and ready for business and very busy. There was even an open nail salon. Imagine, getting your nails done at 5:00 a.m. in an airport! After changing planes, we arrived in Malaga at about 11:00 a.m., local time. We followed signs in several languages directing us to luggage claim. We stood at the carousel until all the luggage came out except ours and that of about half a dozen couples, all of whom had changed planes at Dublin. We went into a room labeled "lost luggage." Everybody's luggage was there. Before we were permitted to claim it, we had to run it through a scanner. After we claimed our luggage, it was easy to find a cab and after we finally got our driver to understand our very poor Spanish, we arrived at the Don Curro Hotel. This was a small, exceptionally clean hotel that supplied a delightful free breakfast every morning. This hotel was located in an excellent location. It was near shopping (very high end) and a lovely park and botanical gardens. There were interesting statues in the park, and interesting buildings along side. Around the corner from the hotel were a plaza, shops and restaurants, which ended in a large square with a fountain and several restaurants. We took a hop on hop off touring bus. There were only two things of real interest. One was a magnificent cathedral, and the other, a fort on a high, high hill. The cathedral was easily walkable from the hotel; the fort was not. It might be more economical to take a taxi to the fort, rather than pay for the bus if you stay in that general area. I have to warn you that Malaga is NOT a safe city. We met several other couples from roll call at a tappas restaurant, Pimpi's. We reached this by walking through the plaza and then going off on a side street. The restaurant was mediocre, and the service was poor. As we left the restaurant, my husband was approached with a man bearing a large knife. He said, in English, "Give me money." I started to scream, "Help us, help us" and started to run back into Pimpi's to get help. The man ran away. Later we learned that another couple was attacked, at the fort, in broad daylight. The woman has to be at least seventy years old, about 4'10" and ninety pounds. The next day we boarded the ship. It really is beautiful. There is a promenade with stores and clubs, including a 24-hour cafe, where cookies and sandwiches are always available. The casino is decorated with a jazz theme (New Orleans) and is really innovative. The pool deck is gorgeous, (although it has not been warm enough [as of November 11] to use it). The dining rooms, theater, and nightclub are beautifully appointed, the theater and nightclub designed so there are no bad seats. The first day was a day at sea. The day was chock full of activities. The second day we docked at Madeira. There were lots of tours offered through the ship, but we decided to do it on our own, mainly because hubby has difficulty walking. We took a tram ride up to the top of a mountain, where the view was magnificent as were the gardens. It was all very lush. Back to the ship, change for dinner (the show for late seating was before dinner), run from the show to trivia, run from trivia to dinner, run from dinner to a game. Listen to some great music after the game, and so to sleep. I do have some complaints about the activities. The Cruise Director, Kieron Buffery, is not, in my opinion the greatest. He continually scheduled late seating shows at 7:15, and trivia or name that tune at 8:00. The shows did not get out until after 8:00, making it impossible to enjoy both. We usually chose not to go to the show, inasmuch as most of the entertainment was not the greatest. However, the production shows, featuring the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers were excellent. There was also a late-nite show featuring these very talented people singing standards and jazz. This was probably the best show offered the entire cruise. The ice show was excellent also. There were two stops in the Canary Islands. Again, due to the hubby's problems, we didn't do much. The first island, Tenerife, was rather lively; we just walked around the down town area. Had lots of stores and cafes, a large square with a fountain, and interesting statues. The second island, La Palma, was very small, and there was not much to it. We took an excursion that was for people with walking difficulties. We were taken to a volcano site. Most people (not on our tour) walked to the top; we were not able to do that (the hubby anyway). After the tour we looked around down town. Really nothing to see. The next six days were days at sea. The weather was fine, and there were the usual shipboard and poolside activities. However, the shows for late seating were continually at 7:15 which conflicted with trivia and "Name that Tune". This went on throughout the cruise. The next port was Nassau. There was a horrible situation there. It seems that on a Segway tour, the group was attacked by men with machine guns who took their money, cameras and passports. I was not on this tour, thank goodness, and it was not talked about on the ship. However, there is a thread on Cruise Critic about it. Evidently, there were people on this tour not only from the Navigator, but also from the Disney Wonder. The Disney staff came to the site after the armed holdup, nobody from Royal Caribbean did. This is only hearsay; I was not there. Getting off the ship was a disaster! We are diamonds and supposedly were given priority. Well, if this is priority, I can't imagine what other people had to endure. We were directed to go to the 4th deck dining room. There we sat for about an hour. We were then told to line u p. We stood for approximately two hours. We did not move. The lines for immigration were long, and they did not separate the US citizens from the non citizens. This made our line extremely long and slow moving. When I requested a wheel chair for the hubby, I was told that inasmuch as I filled out the custom form, he couldn't have a wheel chair—if he had filled out the custom form, he could. All in all, we were somewhat disappointed with this cruise, especially, since we had a wonderful time a year ago, when we crossed on the Independence of the Seas, with Alan Brooks as the Cruise Director. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
This was our second crossing on the Independence of the Seas, having done the Eastbound this past April. We came in the day prior and stayed at the beautiful Sofitel Hotel at Heathrow where we had stayed after the Eastbound. The flight on ... Read More
This was our second crossing on the Independence of the Seas, having done the Eastbound this past April. We came in the day prior and stayed at the beautiful Sofitel Hotel at Heathrow where we had stayed after the Eastbound. The flight on British Air was uneventful, but one of those awfully long flights. We, once again, used Woodford Chauffeur Cars for our transportation to the port, sharing with another couple from our Cruise Critic roll call. Woodford was nice enough to let us stop at a supermarket for some supplies for the crossing. The Indy is a beautiful ship and so far, our favorite one. We were happy to hear that Capt. Teo was once again at the helm for the crossing as there is a certain comfort level with him. He has a great sense of humor, too, and we enjoyed his noon announcements. We enjoyed our cabin on the "hump" which was perfect. You could see both forward and backwards from our balcony. We had the luck of a great room steward the last crossing (Stevie) who apparently is now on the Oasis. The gentleman we had on this cruise was Erwin. I was initially worried about him as he was very quiet, but he became more talkative as the cruise went on and he was very, very good. We appreciated his hard work. Once again, as far as dining goes, it was the usual, same RCCL food and menu, ranging from poor to good but nothing outstanding. We actually found that the Windjammer had much better food on occasion and the Windjammer staff was very good and attentive. We were not as happy with the dining room staff. We had a wonderful table by the window in the McBeth (4th floor) dining room. The waiter, Rohinton (Rocky) was ok. Nothing special and no extra touches that we have had on previous RCCL cruises. Beverly, the assistant, was hit or miss, but did try to please us. We are pretty convinced that the best ones went to the Oasis and it shows. We booked this cruise for the ports and we enjoyed them very much. In LeHavre, we called (from the desk in the cruise terminal) for a taxi with an English speaking driver. We had emailed LeHavre taxi when researching the cruise and the taxis are independently owned and operated. They have several circuits for set prices. We were very lucky as we had Daniel Pain as our taxi driver (pain-daniel@orange.fr). We could have chosen any circuit, even Paris, but we just wanted a half day tour of Honfleur. It was very picturesue and we enjoyed our time there very much. He offered to show us more, but it was getting dark and we wanted to go back to the ship. The morning was spent on our own at the Coty Mall shopping at Monoprix supermarket for French goodies to bring home. It is a beautiful mall and we have been there several times before. This time, it was all decorated for the holidays and so beautiful. The next port was Cherbourg and we rented a car from National Car Rental with another roll call member to tour the Normandy Beaches/D-Day sites. It was very emotional and the highlight of our trip. My husband was the driver and the other gentleman was the navigator. It was very easy and we would certainly do it again. The other ports were Vigo, Spain and Funchal, Madeira, both of which we have visited before. Madeira is one of our favorite places and just beautiful, but two of our four visits there have been on sundays when things are closed (cruise lines, are you listening?. Anyway, I have to mention two other highlights of our cruise. One was the progressive trivia with Joff Eaton, cruise director. I was initially disappointed that we did not have Graham Seymour again. However, Joff made the cruise. He was hilarious and I think he is the best cruise director we have had!! No one could top him! There were so many people at trivia that you had to get there an hour and a half early just to get enough seats for your group. I usually don't do trivia, but I did it because Joff made it so much fun. The other thing that made this cruise special was the enrichment lectures with Ronald Bowers, the former DA of Los Angeles. Usually, enrichment lectures tend to put me to sleep. His were so fascinating that both my husband and I went to all of them. This was truly a treat and RCCL would be wise to book him for all of their crossings! He spoke about famous murder cases (Marilyn Monroe, O.J. Simpson, Ennis Cosby, etc.). He revealed things not known to the general public. One thing I was a bit concerned about was the weather for the crossing and the wave heights. They were having gales and I am prone to seasickness. However, the Indy handled the waves very well and it truly became a non-issue for me. Would I go on the Indy again? Definitely! One wish, though, would be for RCCL to get rid of the "filet of beef shoulder" from its menu. It appeared several times and it is something to be avoided. Also, just as on the Eastbound crossing, they ran out of the tea concentrate. Easy to remedy with tea bags but why not carry enough for a 2 week cruise? RCCl does need to change its menues. They have been the same for several years now. All in all, this was a good cruise. We just wish the Indy was not going to come back to the USA after the spring 2010 crossing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We have heard of repositioning cruises for years. When we heard of this one and the great price we jumped on it. We spent two nights in Barcelona. We loved the city and will go back. We were some of the first to check in and we had to ... Read More
We have heard of repositioning cruises for years. When we heard of this one and the great price we jumped on it. We spent two nights in Barcelona. We loved the city and will go back. We were some of the first to check in and we had to stand in line before they would let us board. Once aboard we were not supposed to go to our cabins until 2pm. We did sneak in and dropped our stuff off. We went to the Windjammer which was not crowded. We made three ports of call before we headed across the Atlantic. All were enjoyable. We were six days on the open seas. The weather was great. We enjoyed the flying fish. We also enjoyed the forensic lectures. There wasn't much else to keep up busy so we got a little bored. We probably won't do another one of these until we get older. Our cabin steward and waiters were great. I'm not sure why we have to tip the head waiter. He was nice enough and dropped by our table every night but I didn't see him doing much else. We probably will not sail with Royal Caribbean again. I don't care for the two class system on their ships. If you are not double diamond or higher, i.e. first class, you get treated like second class citizens in certain situations, e.g. seating in the theater. We just completed our first cruise on Holland American in Sept. We felt like we were first class even though we were in one of the least expensive staterooms. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Our transatlantic crossing was a thrill and a treat for the weary soul. After a long hard year the perfect vacation was at hand. Solstice met all of our expectations. All the amenities were there and more. If you cruise this ship ... Read More
Our transatlantic crossing was a thrill and a treat for the weary soul. After a long hard year the perfect vacation was at hand. Solstice met all of our expectations. All the amenities were there and more. If you cruise this ship don't miss the specialty restaurants as the food is superb and the service second to none. Well worth the minimal up-charge. The Bistro on 5, a crepe and panini restaurant ($5 cover) is perhaps the best kept secret on the ship. Fabulous food great service and a wonderful view. Ate there four times and loved every moment. The molecular drink bar has to be experienced. A whole new twist on drinking. Best Ginger Mojito I have ever had and I don't like Mojitos. A fabulous drink served by comedienne servers Lily and Marianna. They are worth a visit. Ports of call were great but its the cuising that we loved. All the humping and then six days of relaxation. I will give 5 stars to the excursion to Funchal, Portugal and the ride on the gondolas. An experience not to be forgotten. A great trip on a beautiful ship! To close I will use the workds of our imortal Captain.................O U T Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Wow, how to summarize 14 days in just a few paragraphs? Note to self: thank the weather gods for their work--every day was beautiful! Three of us boarded VOS in BCN Nov 29th, bound for Galveston. Back in the day, ship's staff ... Read More
Wow, how to summarize 14 days in just a few paragraphs? Note to self: thank the weather gods for their work--every day was beautiful! Three of us boarded VOS in BCN Nov 29th, bound for Galveston. Back in the day, ship's staff and crew worked hard to accommodate special passenger requests on the spot. Now that the ship emails 'Miami' with every complaint and request, no one on board is responsible, and there is a lack of creative and on-the-spot problem solving. Accommodations: We lodged in a Junior Suite on Deck 9 just forward of the 'bulge,' an excellent location near the rear stairs providing quick access to all food and pools. A shout-out of thanks to Dennis, cabin steward, for working with us in overcoming RCI's limitations. A note here on sleeping arrangements: I was lucky to get one of the suite's broken-down, 10-year-old, twins. One of us ended up on the new 'sofa-bed,' just installed in April while the ship was dry-docked. Clearly, no one in Miami has ever sat upon, and certainly never slept upon, this new contraption. By day, the 'sofa' is about as comfortable as a seat on the Barcelona Metro. By night, a bed of nails would be more comfortable, as this 'bed' is nothing more than a sheet of plywood with 1" of cheap foam stapled on. The 'bed' is actually the back of the sofa, which folds down and forward to make a flat surface upon which the cabin steward places sheets and comforters. You think I'm kidding, I know--I still cannot believe it myself. Well, somewhere on the ship, two crew bunks were without mattresses, because they ended up on the floor in our Suite. Also, a note to future designers: the room is too big, in proportion to the bath. A split bath, with separate WC would be lovely. Dining: The food in the Magic Flute was good, a 7 or 8 most nights. Lobster, not so much. The service started off poor--disorganized--lacking any teamwork. Waiters and Assistant Waiters are not paired on the same tables; the resulting lack of service was laughable. Apparently, neither of our Waiters have ever dined in a quality restaurant. Service improved after some 'training' on day four, though by day twelve, it had slipped right back. Entertainment was provided by the trolleys: plastic and wire affairs (same as used at my carwash) laden with filth and garbage recently scraped from other tables in the room, piloted at breakneck speed by Assistant Waiters hell-bent on terminating the shift as quickly as possible. 'Miami' ended the old-fashioned and dangerous trays. The Windjammer was passable, and as others have commented, boring, same thing day after day. Seven days would have been about right; fourteen was too many. There is never a clean table waiting. Be prepared to bus your own table, get your own drinks, and you will be fine. Likewise room service: that the fruitplate was exactly the same all 13 mornings, right down to the one day over-ripe pineapple and one day under-ripe cantaloupe, was amazing. What was really missing was an outdoor venue. It was 78 degrees at lunch everyday, and everyday we were obliged to go inside to eat. Johnny Rockets (at sea) was a bitter disappointment. The burger was essentially the same as upstairs, as were the fries. We went for the chocolate malt (extra charge) and onion rings. The chocolate malt (delivered to the table not before, but after the food) was undrinkable through the tiny, thin straw, and the onion rings were like the old Burger King version: half-fried rounds of machine-extruded, frozen, onion-flavored dough. 'Miami' authorized the switch from fresh, breaded onions to this. Entertainment: We were blessed with a good CD, Mike S, just back from hiatus. Another poster said entertainment was geared to folk over 45. Well, we are aged 50-57, and we felt it was geared to folk older than us (though not so old as on HAL). Because the VOS band performs at just about every show, just about every show seems the same. How about giving the Salsa Band or the Classic music the showroom and giving the swing-band high-hat cymbals a night off? And a note on The Vault: why hire a homophobic DJ? Aren't the queers the ones up late, running up the big bar tabs? This DJ spun the same ten urban funk-rap-hip hop undanceable tracks all night, every night, to keep the gays and their friends from dancing. What do we care if two guys want to dance? And can't you get the multiple video screens to show the actual video spinning? Activities: Never have so few had so many, and we did them all, ice skating, inline skating, mini golf, rock climbing, basketball, gym and sauna. The only grip was the swimming pools--three, two large enough to swim laps in, but all heated to only 22 degrees (72). After much complaining and a meeting with Guest Relations, the heat was increased to 26 degrees (79). That might be enough for the Norwegians, but a bit chilly for the rest of us. 'Miami' limits the heat to 26 degrees. Fellow Passengers: Many really nice, friendly people. Due to the worthless dollar, more than half the passengers were non-US (I think the inside cabins were about 5 euro/pp). HOWEVER, what is with the behavior of some passengers? Shoving at the buffet? Shorts in the main dining room? And drinking like it was Carnival. Ugh! People, please, if you don't want to play nice, just stay home! RCI, if you have a sign and a policy, honor the other 3000 guests by enforcing it. No slacks=no food. Simple! Captain, you've got a brig on board--use it! 'Miami' wants everyone to have a good time. Debarkation: The worst!!!!! Port of Galveston and US Customs authorities were in part the cause. Though we arrived at 7:00 am, Carnival beat us to Galveston, so their 1800 passengers debarked while we 3000 passengers and 1100 crew waited. The first group was called about 9:30; our group was held until after 11:00. When we reached the baggage claim, the problem was obvious: a 2 1/2 hour line to speak with a customs agent. NO LIE: it was after 2:30 (no food, no drink) before we boarded the airport shuttle. Galveston--never again. Ft. Lauderdale and Los Angeles are staffed for large ships; Galveston is not. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Booked this transatlantic cruise nearly a year ago and began building expectations since then, so by the time the big event arrived, they were pretty high. Incredibly, even these lofty expectations were exceeded. Embarkation... ... Read More
Booked this transatlantic cruise nearly a year ago and began building expectations since then, so by the time the big event arrived, they were pretty high. Incredibly, even these lofty expectations were exceeded. Embarkation... smooth, friendly and less than 20 minutes from drop off at pier to entering our room. Ship... stunning in all respects. Innovative, fresh and the contemporary decor appeals to our tastes. Rarely did we ever feel like there were thousands of people on board and lots of places (look beyond the deck chairs around the pool) to get your own space if thats what you needed. Great and efficient layout. Food... avg to good in cafeteria... consistently excellent in main dining room. We usually skip main dining but on this cruise, the high quality brought us back most nights. Service also consistently excellent (thanks Ceril). Diner at Murano's requires superlatives for food and service. The best dinner you'll ever have for 30 bucks... and as good as any dinner I've had at any price (and i've spent a lot LOL) Entertainment / education... far superior to the mediocre to good performers i've seen on other cruises. Singer, violinist and piano player all outstanding. Hot glass show informative and fascinating, time after time we saw it. Art and architecture lecture series highly informative. All other entertainment consistently good or better. Crew... always friendly and engaging. Made even a cynic like me believe they really enjoyed their jobs. They certainly were good at them. 2 minor hiccups... one having to bypass Livorno (i think the crew did as well as they could under circumstances beyond there control). Hard to understand why some people react as if the cruise line or staff planned to miss the port on purpose... Second hiccup the idiot who stole my deck chair and threw my cloths on the floor after I left my spot for less than 5 minutes to go to the bathroom (and then wanting to fight about it). I hope that brainless idiot is reading this. But his stupidity did nothing to ruin our unqualified enjoyment of this outstanding cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Dining - We dined at all of the specialty restaurants and they were excellent. As other people have mentioned the Bistro on Five is a real delight. In the Epernay Restaurant we found ourselves ordering from the everyday menu more than ... Read More
Dining - We dined at all of the specialty restaurants and they were excellent. As other people have mentioned the Bistro on Five is a real delight. In the Epernay Restaurant we found ourselves ordering from the everyday menu more than the chef's menu. It's nice to have the standard everyday menu and it's hard to please everyone when it comes to food! The Oceanview Cafe was excellent. Overall the food was above average. Public Rooms - The ship was beautiful and well appointed. The Martini Bar was particularly attractive and drew a crowd especially before dining times. The shops are varied and plentiful. It's almost impossible to get lost! Cabins - We had a C2 cabin with the bed next to the verandah. It was one of the nicest, well appointed cabins in it's class that we have had at sea. We especially liked the sliding glass door going to the verandah. Entertainment - We attended more shows than normal probably due to the length of the cruise and the sea days. They were all above average, especially Solstice. The Glass Show is really fascinating. Spa & Fitness - Not Rated Family & Children Not Rated Shore Excursions - The shore excursions were good; it was tendering, staging and dis-embarking the ship that was the problem. We had to use LaSpezia as an alternate port for Livorno due to the weather. Instead of just telling everyone there would be a delay we were told to be patient. I heard the following dialog: "You need more patience!" "No I don't. I'm not a doctor!" By the way, the weather was great for the rest of the cruise. Embarkation and Dis-Embarkation - Very prompt. Very good. Service - Excellent from the crew in general to our cabin steward and waiter. Value-for-Money/Rates - One of these days people are going to discover the real value of relocation cruises and ruin a good thing! Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Food and Service: Food Quality was generally Average to poor. Hot food was served cold most of the time. Critical food items such as sauces and meats were just warm. This concerns me cause bacteria can build at warm temperatures. ... Read More
Food and Service: Food Quality was generally Average to poor. Hot food was served cold most of the time. Critical food items such as sauces and meats were just warm. This concerns me cause bacteria can build at warm temperatures. Portions were very small food was bland and at times disgusting. The service staff for the most part were not trained. Service was slow to no existent at times. Service was diner style. No service from the left with the left hand. Usually an elbow across your face and water being dripped across your plate and the table. Tex-Mex restaurant was terrible... 2 1/2 hours and never got to dessert. Service terrible. When food finally arrived they tried to put it on the table. I advised the waitress that she need to clear the table first before serving the next course. Cabin: Very nice. Clean. Nice floor plan. Excellent room steward. Dislike sliding door opening by itself. Even with a board wedged in the handle. Professional Entertainment: Good most nights Ships entertainment staff: Average. Same games several times a day. Need more variety. One more bingo event and I think I would jump ship. :) Ship areas: Nice, comfortable. The amount of living space for the passengers is not adequate. Passengers where stacked up everywhere since the lounges did not have enough capacity for the passengers. Many areas where always full. This ship would be fine for warm weather cruising when more passengers would be up on deck. Sell Sell Sell: This is a Freestyle cruise but there isn't much free. All the specialty restaurants have cover charges of $10.00 to $25.00 per person extra. Plus and extra fee if something special was ordered on the menu. Bingo for those who play was $70.00. Ship tours are extra. They push the rewards special every time they have a chance $250.00 paid on ship gives you a $100.00 credit to be used on board with restrictions. Lottery tickets. I soon expect that they will have video poker machines built in to the dinning room tables and Ladies running around yelling Keno anyone! :) Ports: Ports are OK. Do your homework first. It takes a long time to get to Rome for example. So don't expect to see Rome in a day. :) Tenders: Cannes tendering and disembarkation was a disaster. We arrived at 10:00AM as scheduled but could not get off until till 11:30. I think more than one tender location should have been set up. So we stayed in Cannes and did not rush to any other local towns. Embarkation and Disembarkation was smooth and speedy. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Transatlantic cruise . . Celebrity's MV Century . . Barcelona to Miami . . 11/28 - 12/12/09 This was our 21st cruise overall, our 8th on Celebrity, but only our 1st on Century. I will preface this review with the following: ... Read More
Transatlantic cruise . . Celebrity's MV Century . . Barcelona to Miami . . 11/28 - 12/12/09 This was our 21st cruise overall, our 8th on Celebrity, but only our 1st on Century. I will preface this review with the following: The thoughts and opinions expressed here are strictly mine (and my wife's) unless otherwise noted. You may or may not agree with what I am talking about. Some on the same cruise may have differing opinions and that is to be expected. Pre-cruise: I started planning for this long anticipated transatlantic cruise late last winter. My wife had just finished up a year's worth of chemotherapy and was in remission from a blood disease. Although she was still not 100%, by the fall she would be (or so we thought). She was raring to take another cruise and although looking forward to the transatlantic was worried about being bored on the 7 day crossing. By mid-April I quit my dithering and decided on this cruise. I e-mailed my long time travel agent (t/a) and asked him to book us an outside cabin with the stipulation that it had to be amidships. I also asked him to book air and a pre-night stay in Barcelona. I then went to the Cruise Critic (C/C) website and found an already engaged roll call for this sailing. I joined the group and was warmly welcomed by members who were about to become friends. (This was one of the best decisions I made). My t/a emailed me a confirmation within hours. We had been assigned cabin 4092. Although, we have cruised extensively, we had only flown to our 1st two cruises back in the early 90's, so I was not familiar with the ins and outs of Celebrity's air deviation program. There was talk of this on the roll call and I discovered because of my cruising status (Select) with Celebrity, I could pretty much make my own arrangements thru the air deviation program without charge. After being advised on good routes from Boston by a roll call member who is a flight attendant, I called my t/a and asked him to see about getting me a specific flight. He quickly did so, and we were booked on Lufthansa, Boston to Barcelona via Frankfurt to arrive a day before the cruise. In late May there was some chatter on the roll call board aboard about a significant price drop. I did some checking, called my t/a once again and asked him to check into the possibility of changing to a concierge class veranda and if so to book one, with the same amidships rejoinder. He called back within the hour and told me we had been reassigned to a concierge class veranda (9147). This upgrade cost me $140 p/p ($10 per diem). Finally as the days got closer the roll call group grew and most seemed to be staying at one particular hotel. Our pre-arranged hotel through Celebrity cost $454 for one night. I checked online with the hotel (Hotel Jazz) and found out I could get a room there for about $120 per night. Back to the t/a and asked him to cancel (without fee) our pre arranged stay. He graciously did so. Then, in July disaster struck my wife (and I). While on vacation, my wife fell and broke her ankle and shattered her shoulder. Both required surgery. I decided to wait until the last minute before canceling all our plans. Her follow-up with the surgeon was scheduled a week or so before final payment. The appointment went well and we specifically asked the doctor if her rehab went as planned would she be able to travel and make the cruise. His answer was absolutely. My wife worked hard at her rehab, so having purchased insurance, we made final payment. Two weeks before the cruise, the doctor gave the final go-ahead. We left our home in Maine the day before Thanksgiving and drove the 4 hours to Boston where we stayed at the Embassy Suites Airport (it was a park/sleep/fly reservation - 14 days free parking). The hotel was excellent and an excellent buffet breakfast was included in the price of admission. On Thanksgiving day we checked out at noon and took the hotel's free shuttle to the airport. We had to sit around for a couple of hours before the check-in was opened. We checked two large pieces of luggage, then I was told I needed to weigh my check-ins. No matter how we re-arranged stuff, one still remained overweight and after taking all essential items out (meds/electronics), we checked that (without a lock). I wasn't prepared for that, but it was my fault as I had not carefully read the airline's luggage rules. The flight on an Airbus 340-600 pulled away from the gate exactly on time. As we were flying on Thanksgiving day there were about 75 empty seats. Immediately on getting to altitude, I moved back a few rows to an unoccupied row, leaving my wife with a window/aisle seat combination. Soon into the flight, complimentary drinks were offered, followed by a delicious meal (turkey/trimmings for me), followed by a choice of after dinner drinks (cognac or Harveys). A light breakfast was offered a few hours later. Because of an unsupervised child sitting directly behind my wife, she only was able to grab some sporadic sleep. I never seem able to sleep, but was very comfortable. We landed in Frankfurt ahead of schedule. Because I was unfamiliar with the airport, I had requested a wheelchair for my wife in Frankfurt. We were met by a nice young lady driving one of those carts. This was another good decision on my part as the walk between gates would have been impossible for the wife. The flight from Frankfurt to Barcelona left on time. Once again, an unsupervised (screaming) child sat right behind us. In Barcelona we were met with a wheelchair (which I had not requested, but Lufthansa followed up with). Picked up our luggage. As we were walking out, saw and heard my name being called by a roll call member whom we had arranged to share a ride to the hotel with. Hotel Jazz - Barcelona. The hotel was probably a 30 minute ride from the airport and we arrived there about 10 a.m. Another roll call friend who had arrived a day or so before was going to be touring that day had graciously offered us the use of his room until ours was ready. Fortunately, this was not necessary as the hotel had rooms available and we were immediately given one. The room was pleasant, clean, nicely appointed and faced in to a courtyard. My wife immediately laid down for a nap while I headed back outside to do some exploring. I explored for an hour or so, then decided to take a nap. Afterwards we met up with the other people from the roll call and headed out for tapas and cava at a really nice place called lonja de tapas (located at Pia del Palau 7, Barcelona). Many different tapas were tried and enjoyed along with much cava. After walking back to the hotel my wife (whose back was hurting) went to the room for the night. I had a couple of beers before I succumbed to a good night's sleep . . . . until 4 a.m. (jet lag). I got up, went to the lobby and read until 6:30 or so. Joined up with Xcruiser and his wife and headed off to Starbucks for coffee. One of the roll call members (raudacruise) had arranged for transportation from the hotel to the Century and at about 11:30 or so we headed to the lobby and to the 2 large vans. After some careful packing and seating, we were off to our long anticipated cruise. Embarkation: A A twenty minute or so drive from the hotel and we caught our first sight of our home for the next two weeks. It was docked just aft of Celebrity's Summit. We were dropped off at our terminal and turned our luggage over to the local porters. The embarkation process was quick and quite painless. Different lines were set up for Elite members/Suite passengers, Select members, and others. We got in the appropriate (Select) line, were handed a health questionnaire to fill out and were quickly processed through. All the lines seemed to move smoothly and at the time we processed, there were no apparent bottlenecks. After getting our room cards, we headed to board the ship via duty-free shops. What, oh yeah, one could buy wine and liquor and because the bags had already been through security, take the stuff aboard. I picked up some wine and liqueur, rearranged our carry-on's to accommodate the stuff and headed towards the gangway, where if memory serves me correct, our pictures were taken for the room cards. Once onboard, we headed to our rooms. They were not ready for occupancy, but we were able to leave our carry-on's in the room. We then headed for the Islands Cafe where we met our dear friend Judy (craftgramma) and enjoyed a welcome onboard buffet. M/V Century: B The Century was launched in 1995 and underwent a major refurbishment in 2005. So, by current cruise ship standards, she is old. She is certainly showing signs of her age, but I can best describe it as cosmetic. She has basically reached middle aged, shows some wrinkles, but IMO has aged quite gracefully and is still quite a beautiful lady. One doesn't have to look hard to discover these signs of her aging, but when put together as a part of the total cruise package, her faults can be easily overlooked, some not. But none of these faults led to a lessening of the enjoyment she provided me. Her crew works continuously to maintain her cleanliness and they do a good job doing so. Our Room: B+ We had a concierge class cabin (9147) on the Vista deck, port side, amidships. The room is nicely appointed, comfortable and extremely clean. Only two not positive comments. First, the bed . . I am a rather short guy at 5' 7", yet unless I put my head up against the headboard, my feet would extend over the end of the bed. (Not sure how a 6' plus individual could be completely comfortable). This has to do with the room configuration post refurbishment. Prior to that refurbishment, there was no verandah, so the bed was placed with the head at the out bulkhead and a longer bed was used. With the verandah added, the bed is now placed with the head at an inner bulkhead. The bed itself with its' duvet was more than comfortable. The second thing was a bit bothersome. Room temperature. We like to sleep in a cool room. Unfortunately, we were never able to achieve this desire. It became uncomfortable, was checked out by maintenance, a some improvement was noted, but it was never a cool comfortable environment. We had flowers and fresh fruit in the room and these were changed/replaced throughout the cruise. Two double-thick frette robes were provided along with a key card holder and a tote bag. A pair of binoculars and umbrella were available in the room for our use. Also there to greet us on the first day was a chilled bottle of sparkling wine. Room stewardess: A++ Rosa, our room stewardess was without a doubt the best we have had in our 20+ cruises. She introduced herself within a half hour of the room becoming available on embarkation day. Never once, throughout the next two weeks did she fail to acknowledge us by name (Good morning Mr. B***, good afternoon Mrs. B***, etc.). Upon meeting her I had 3 or 4 requests (bed arrangement, fresh ice each afternoon, etc.). Never asked her again. One night early in the cruise, my wife became a little seasick (hasn't happened since the first cruise). I took her back to the room, spotted Rosa in the passageway and asked her if she could get the wife some Meclizine. She said she had some at her work station, but before giving it to me questioned me as to the wife's ability to take it, etc. After giving my wife the medication, I went back to dinner. While I was at dinner Rosa checked in on my wife twice to ensure she was OK. She then followed up by inquiring of her health the next morning and a couple of days afterwards. There were many other things Rosa did, without asking that made her stand out amongst all our previous room stewards/stewardesses. I wrote a nice note and personally gave it to the Chief Housekeeper along with my verbal thanks. Additionally, I gave her special kudos on the final comment card along with a substantial gratuity. IMO she needs to be put in charge of training all new room attendants (and I so stated). Dining and food: A In my opinion, food is too subjective to truly comment on. I will say that I did not meet a meal on this cruise that I did not enjoy. My original thought was to keep my already overweight being in check, I would take breakfast and lunch in the Spa Grille. This lasted for two days. Unfortunately, the word appears to be out on this place as it was usually quite crowded. The food here was quite good and all quite healthy. I would occasionally stop in here throughout the cruise. Spa Grille: A Island Cafe buffet: Breakfast and lunch here was quite good. Plenty of choices, both American and European were available for breakfast. There were two omelet stations available and one station for poached/shirred eggs, a waffle station. For lunch if one couldn't find something to their liking in the buffet there was a hamburger/hot dog/taco station set up on the pool deck, just outside the cafe. In my experience, hot foods were always hot, cold foods, cold. Lemonade, iced tea and water were available from dispensers and beer, wine and drinks were, of course, available. There were more deserts available than should be allowed (lol). This area was also available as an alternative dining area in the evening. A group of 20 or so gave our MDR waiters a break one evening and enjoyed the meal provided up here along with in-training waiters, assistants, and sommeliers. Unfortunately, the one thing that Celebrity used to do that set it apart from other lines was have waiters available to take the trays of ladies to their tables . . . . this no longer is done. Buffet: A- Main Dining Room: We were seated at table 501 in the MDR. This was a 10 person table located all the way aft on the port side on the lower level of the dining room. A great location (I thought it was quieter than other areas of MDR's we had eaten in . . . at least one of our tablemates completely disagreed and said it was the loudest). Our table consisted completely of people from the C/C roll call. George (raudacruise) and his wife MaryBeth, Jen (Janca) and her dad Kevin, Joel (Xcruiser) and his wife Colleen and our dear friend Judy (craftygramma). An interesting, small world coincidence, occurred at the table. It seems that years ago Judy and her late husband had cruised with George and MaryBeth. Neither knew the other was on this cruise until the sailaway party. We had a very efficient waiter (Anak) and competent assistant waiter (whose name escapes me). Anak was very good at his job, but IMO a bit stiff in his presentation. He loosened up only a little during the cruise. (He may well have been new at the position). The assistant was friendly, but IMO a bit careless. He twice dribbled salad dressings on me and once on my wife (certainly not a big deal, just bothersome). Our sommelier was the hardest working sommelier I had ever run across. I am not sure how many tables he was covering, but he was constantly on the go and doing a great job of it. Unfortunately, I never got his name. I gave both the waiter and sommelier a little extra at the end of the cruise . . . they certainly deserved it. As I said previously, food is subjective, so just a couple of comments. The first night a couple of tablemates commented that the prime rib was rarer than they ordered and sent it back . . . . one came back so overdone that the tablemate just did not eat it. Another night there was another steak meal on the menu. My wife ordered it. When it came, she had a hard time cutting it . . . because of her accident she has limited use of the left arm, so I volunteered to cut it for her. It was the toughest piece of meat I have ever experienced in all our cruises. Once cut, it was tasty and she enjoyed it. Finally, and IMO, the quality of food offered on Celebrity has declined over the years. I believe a lot of this has to do with the ending of Michel Roux's contract with Celebrity. The rest has to do a bit with cost cutting. I will also state that although there may be a decline in the quality, it certainly beats anything we ever prepare in our home (although I do a mean prime rib at Christmastime) and beats most anything we can get at local restaurants. I do not think I heard one complaint about any of the desserts that were offered throughout the two weeks. I, personally, avoided desserts like the plague . . . . . because they are now and always have been my downfall. I did have two though. First night . . crème brulee because I have never had it before and later in the cruise a chocolate volcano (chocolate syrup in a chocolate cake covered with warm chocolate syrup) because I can never, ever pass that up. lol Main Dining Room: A Brunch: Once each week on this cruise a brunch was laid out in the Main Dining Room. This was absolutely decadent. Breakfast foods (omelets, meats, waffles, etc.), luncheon foods (meats, fishes, sushi, etc., etc.). Desserts (you name it) Enough food to feed a small army. Just decadent. Brunch: A++ Lounges/bars: A I had purchased a bar set-up for the room. Tangueray (1.5L bottle) along with my choice of mixer (tonic) and a nut tray were provided. I was able to enjoy a cocktail in the room in the late afternoon without running up to a bar and get one. I also had the wine I had purchased in Barcelona. I would have a beer with lunch (usually) and my wife and I would meet up with our friend for a pre-dinner cocktails in Rendez-vous Square. The three of us always shared a bottle of wine at dinner. Of particular note was a young waiter (Raymond?) in the Rendez-vous Square. From the second night he remembered our drinks and made it a point to greet and serve us. I think Judy wanted to take him home with her. One night my drink seemed weak, I mentioned it to Raymond, he took it back . . . never had the same problem again. Throughout the ship all the bartenders and waiters were friendly and efficient. Never had to wait for a drink and we were never bothered with drinks being pushed. Entertainment: B I/we are not much for production shows. We saw just one on this cruise and it was quite good. We missed most of the other entertainment as it was before dinner for our sitting. It was just a little inconvenient for us. Most of the entertainment was good . . . just nothing really exceptional. IMO, this area has always been a weak spot with Celebrity. Some of the nightly entertainment in Rendez-vous was pretty good, others not so good. The acapella group was quite good. Cruise director and his staff: A I am never sure exactly what it is that makes a good cruise director, but I really enjoyed Rich Clesen(?) on Century. The first morning of the cruise, I was enjoying a cuppa and reading my Kindle at the Cova cafe when a crewmember came up to me and started a conversation about the Kindle. I saw his name and the fact he was from the United States on his name tag. I didn't ask him what he did on the ship and am glad I didn't. I learnt later that day (on TV) that it was our cruise director. Not a day went by throughout the whole cruise that I did not see him someplace on board ship and he was ALWAYS engaged with a passenger. Quite an affable fellow, he wasn't obtrusive as other cruise directors I have experienced. His 2nd in command (I believe) was a young lady by the name of Esmerelda. An attractive, young, extremely personable woman, (I believe) she ran Bingo as well as some of the trivia games on ship. She was just as outgoing as was Rich. Other members of the cruise staff were just as good. They made the cruise enjoyable. Captain's Club: A++ The Captain's Club host was a gentleman by the name of Chandru Advani. And, what a host he was. Once we got into the sea days part of the cruise, there seemed to always be a Captains Club function of one sort or another. I believe because of the large numbers a lot of the functions were limited to Select and Elite members. We had invites to tours of the bridge, engine room and galley. There was a dedicated Captains Club meet and greet with the Captain and senior officers. Additionally, spread out over two separate days (due to the large numbers) there was a luncheon buffet held in the Crystal Room. Again with the Captain and some of his senior officers in attendance In addition to the food free drinks (mainly wines, champagne, etc) was available and unlimited. He also hosted the nightly Elite gathering in the Crystal lounge. Being one credit short I was unable to attend these functions, but from the comments from those who were Elite members (along with the occasional glassy stare) these were well attended and appreciated functions (keep it up Celebrity). Cruise Critic Connections party: A++ Without a doubt, this was the best we have attended. I believe there were 105 or so Cruise Critic members who signed up for this get-together. Probably 60-70 showed up. If my memory serves me correct (and senior moment does apply here) it was held the second full day of the cruise, our first at sea day. I was sort of expecting another, coffee and crumpets get together with a member of the cruise director's staff. What a surprise. Not only did the cruise director, Rich, host this event, but the Captain and some members of his senior staff were also there. And for the first time ever (for me) alcohol was served at this event. I believe the drinks were limited to Mimosa's, Champagne and Bloody Mary's, but alcohol nonetheless. Ship's Officers: A+ A recurrent theme in this review has been the availability of the Captain and his senior staff. They not only showed up at the functions described, but I constantly observed them individually or in groups around the ship. Quite often they were engaged in conversations with passengers, but at other times just walking around observing (staff and passengers). It was a different experience for me. I realize that the Captain has one function on the ship (and that is to run it) and this may well preclude him walking around the ship making small talk with passengers, but some members of the senior staff should be visible by their presence. Disembarkation: A Of all things regarding this cruise, the one thing I looked forward to the least was the last day, disembarkation and its normal foul-ups. I went to the disembarkation lecture just to see if anything would be different. Basically, the answer was no. However I did discover something new (after 20 cruises). I found out what the number in your disembarkation code meant (the row your luggage would be found in the color coded area of the "barn"). We were give a disembarkation designation of Gray-4 and instructed to be in the Rendez-vous Lounge NLT 07:45. My thought was yeah and sit until 09:30 or so waiting to be called. Because I did not want my wife standing around for 2 hours waiting to get off, we went to the lounge by 07:10. Good thing. At precisely 07:30 our code was called. A little slow from there, but knew that would happen at immigration. Once through immigration we headed down the escalator to find our luggage. Oops, luggage was not lined up, but instead came through on a luggage carousel . . . . so much for the newfound knowledge of what the number meant. Found a porter, got our baggage, headed to the bus (transfer) and were at the Miami airport by 09:30. Checked in our luggage curbside, found our gate (seemed like a mile away) and sat down for a 3 ½ wait for our flight. The flight to Boston was (gasp) off on-time, comfortable (no screaming kids), full and even landed early. I had fully anticipated an hour or so to get from the plane to on the road. Not so. From the time we de-planed, got our luggage (and porter), the hotel shuttle and got the car out of the garage parking, no more than 30 minutes had expired. Could not ask for a better, more comfortable debarkation day. The itinerary was a great one. Early on there would be two port days, a day at sea, three port days followed by a seven night voyage across the Atlantic. After leaving Barcelona we would visit Cartegena, Spain, Gibraltar, a sea day, Funchal, Madeira, Tenerife and the Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. I had planned a tour for Madeira for 21 other Roll Call members, Kathy and myself. I had also signed onto a tour arranged by Janca in Las Palmas and was going to play the other ports by ear. Unfortunately for us, it was not to work out that way. My wife's back had been bothering her since the start of the trip and quite early on (in Barcelona) we discovered that she would not be able to walk any long distances without resting frequently. Our first port visit in Cartegena confirmed this. Cartegena: My wife, Judy and I got off the ship with the thought of just walking into the nearby town and perusing its' shops and buying some souvenirs. As we were leaving the port area people were passing out flyers for things to do and a couple of folks were giving out sample bottles of Cuarenta Y Tres Licor 43, a vanilla liquor made in Spain. These were basically the size you would get on an airline. Putting them in my pocket, we headed out to town. Within 3 blocks we had to stop and rest for the wife. This was pretty much the way it went. Walk and rest. Kathy was a trooper and as long as she was able to rest her back for a few minutes she was able to continue on. Being a Sunday, some shops were open, so we were in and out of shops, picking up a few souvenirs along the way. The day was chilly and there was a brisk wind. Putting the bottles of 43 liquor in the bags, we headed slowly back to the ship. As I suspected, nothing was said about those tiny bottles. We decided that touring would be out for us this cruise due to Kathy's problems. I told her and Judy that I would get with Xcruiser and have him take over responsibility for the tour in Madeira but Judy said no, she really didn't feel like going without Kathy, so she would drop off. We did have a couple on a wait list for this tour, so I informed them. Gibraltar: We were able to catch a bus (€3 round trip p/p). Once again it was walk a bit, rest a bit, shop a bit. Kathy found some nice Gibraltar crystal pieces and Judy a nice bracelet along with the usual magnets, etc. We ate at a pub. Both the ladies had fish and chips and iced tea while I enjoyed a real good Irish stew and a couple of pints. Madeira: I had long been in touch with a lady who along with her husband owned a taxi/tour company. Originally I had set up a tour for 8 but that soon increased so that we finally settled on a 23 passenger van. The van would pick us up at the ship. We would have a 4 ½ hour tour of the island and we would either be left off in town to shop or be taken back to the ship at the end of the tour. We would see Pico dos Barcelos, Curral das Freiras, Camara de Lobos (winery/wine tasting), Cabo Girao and Monte. At Monte people had the choice of either taking the sleds (here is a youtube video of that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BNPc9pZkO8 ), riding the cable car (here is a youtube video of that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCo4Z7Om8ig ) where they would be met at the bottom of the respective rides, picked up and taken to town or back to the ship. If neither was desired, they could ride the van down. The price of the tour was €20 p/p, plus tip. The rides were an additional charge of around €10. Having made these arrangements via the internet with a perfect stranger gave me just a little angst. But everything was delivered to us just as promised. The van, drive and guide were on the pier at the arranged time. After the tour I received many compliments on the tour and absolutely no criticisms. I can only assume that all enjoyed this tour as much as I did. Meanwhile, back on the ship Kathy and Judy had purchased transfers (I believe for $10) that allowed them transportation back and forth to the downtown area of Funchal where they could and would shop to their hearts content. My wife rarely drinks alcohol of any kind. However, in Funchal they sat down at a cafe. When the waiter came Judy was first and ordered an iced tea. When asked Kathy replied, "I will have the same as her". Something got lost in the translation because when their drinks arrived, Kathy was given a nice cold cerveza. She said she never skipped a beat, just drank it. We would enjoy a beer/drink in each port after that. Kathy and Judy headed back to the ship around 1 p.m., where they had lunch and enjoyed a visit to the jaccuzzi. All in all this was a good port. In port with us that day was the Voyager of the Sea. Tenerife: We had arranged to meet some old friends from previous cruises who were on the Voyager of the Seas for some drinks and chitchat. There is a beautiful statue and fountain (Plaza de la Candelaria) where we would meet. We arrived a bit early and rested on a bench. There was some sort of political/union rally taking place. Lots of noise and flags. I would get up every few minutes, walk around and try to spot our friends. Eventually, on one of my sojourns, I met Richard heading toward us. He and his wife, Owen, were sitting at the opposite end of the fountain. We found a cafe and enjoyed a couple of hours of "catching up". They are frequent cruisers on RCI, but were not too impressed with some of the things that were taking place with that line and the Voyager in particular. One of the things she mentioned (and I admit to it being 2nd hand info as I tell it) that irritated her to no end was the ships' security had confiscated their little bottles of liquor 43 that had been given to them when Voyager visited Cartegena. She had some other (not so minor) complaints about the Voyager that made me glad I was on Century. After our get together, we did a little shopping before siesta. Kathy bought a beautiful table doily. Unfortunately, I inadvertently either threw it and some other souvenirs away or neglected to collect that bag from under the bed when I was packing up at the end of the cruise. She is just now, a week later, starting to forgive me. Besides the Voyager of the Sea, the Costa Serena was in port with us. Las Palmas: Pretty much, more of the same. We took a free transfer bus off the pier (a hefty distance) and then walked a short 2 blocks into an area of cafe's and shopping. We had signed up for a tour arranged by Janca, but backed out because Kathy's problems. Her tour was centered around some of the islands wineries. I was sorry to have missed it. There were no other cruise ships in port here, but there was a large ferry. I was saddened for my wife that she was unable to do as much as she wanted to, especially after her medical experiences of the past 2 years. However, this cruise was as much about relaxing and rejuvenation for both of as it was a chance to see part of the world we had not previously seen. We are happy and thankful that we were able to do just that. Hopefully we can do this in the near future when Kathy is back at 100%. Las Palmas was our last port of call before heading out to sea for 7 days crossing the Atlantic to Miami and what a grand 7 days it would turn out to be. The weather was fantastic. The temperatures got warmer and warmer as we crossed. For most days there was nothing but sunshine and calm seas. Sometimes the seas were as smooth as glass (even with a gentle swell to them). As a retired sailor, in actually got a bit boring and I was asking the sea gods to mix it up a bit . . . . . they didn't. The worst day of weather we had was the last full day at sea when there were intermittent showers and the skies were overcast all day. There were plenty of activities to keep oneself occupied. Everything from the usual Bingo games, to cinema movies. Trivia games, invites to the bridge, etc., etc. There were two lecturers on board. I neglected to write down either of the lecturers names. One lectured on the geology of the Atlantic (volcanoes, tectonic plates, etc.) I went to his first lecture and promptly fell asleep. I am sure it was interesting stuff to some people (always seemed to be a good crowd), but to save myself embarrassment, I did not attend anymore of his lectures. The other lecturer talked about explorers (Atlantic). This was more interesting to me. Unfortunately, I only attended 1 ½ of these lectures as they always seemed to coincide with either a Captain' Club function or a Roll Call function. I even did not participate in a couple of the Captain's Club tours for the same reason (engine room and galley). There were more than enough things to keep oneself occupied. I had been determined that come hell or high water, I would set aside 2-3 hours a day just for myself and catch up on some reading. I did so and read through 2 good books (on my Kindle) during the cruise. The ship has quite a good library with lots of fiction (in various languages) and non-fiction reading. The library is small and intimate with comfortable seating. In addition there are many other quiet areas for reading, both inside and outside throughout the ship. Around 10 each morning, the ship would set out the daily newspapers (in 5 or 6 languages/countries). There was a daily breakdown of news, business and sports, albeit a day in arrears. Finally, I would like to mention our Cruise Critic roll call group. It was the most active group I have been involved with ever. raudacruiser and Xcruiser were the driving factors behind its success. Many activities were scheduled and all were well attended. We started out with a sail-a-way party in raudacruise's suite. There was also the ship's sponsored Connections party. We had a dinner gathering in the Island's Cafe, a slot-pull and a gift exchange. A lot of us were paired with each other at dinner tables and we even toured together. Our ages varied from the 30's to the 70's. All in all it was a great bunch of cruisers to share this wonderful experience. Hopefully, we can all get together and do another cruise together in the future. Was this cruise absolutely perfect. No, nothing is. The warm room could have been a problem, but it wasn't. I ran into one (and only one) rude staff. Guess where . . . . you got it . . .guest relations. First night, the rented tuxedo hadn't shown up in the room. I went to inquire and met with Godzilla's bride. She very curtly informed me that she didn't have time to check on it then, but would do so and get back with me by the morning. She pointed to the next in line and said, "next". I politely asked her how she was going to inform me in the morning as she didn't know my name and stateroom. She literally chucked a piece of paper and pencil at me and said write them on here. As expected I did not hear from her in the morning. I did however address the problem with the concierge (where I would have the night before, but it was after her work hours). She promptly made a phone call and checked, told me not to worry that, because the first formal wasn't until the next day (Day 3 of the cruise) they wouldn't be delivered to the room until later that (2nd)night, but she could assure me mine was indeed ready to be delivered. It was delivered later as promised. There were some things that could have been better, but for the major percentage it was all good. Century needs some TLC, but she is still a lady and she still delivers a great product. I have posted a couple hundred photos (culled in half). They can be found here: http://picasaweb.google.com/usnretdocb/12162009# Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Embarkation was simple. Actually we took back to back cruises and was pleasantly surprised. The Solstice is a sleek, well-maintained ship with a crew that works hard to please. Overall the service was good and the staff accommodating and ... Read More
Embarkation was simple. Actually we took back to back cruises and was pleasantly surprised. The Solstice is a sleek, well-maintained ship with a crew that works hard to please. Overall the service was good and the staff accommodating and friendly. We spent a total of 23 days cruising the Med and each port was interesting. Shore excursions were arranged well but in Barcelona the tour guide was especially unpleasant and obviously not interested in being a guide. That being said I would recommend this ship and crew. Our stateroom was spacious with plenty of storage and a shower that could accommodate two people at the same time. The steward and his assistant were pleasant and aimed to please. We found that the main dining room served mediocre food much of the time. However our waiter and his assistant did everything possible to make dining a pleasant experience and provided excellent service. Probably the best place to eat was the Ocean Bistro on 14 or one of the speciality restaurants (which may charge as much as $30 per person additional). Overall the entertainment was average but the specialty guest performers were quite good. Disembarkation was painless. Would cruise again on this ship and on Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
The Summit has more going for it than not, but our cruise was negatively colored by illness aboard and a huge culture clash of passengers. First the good: the crew aboard the Summit is exceedingly well trained to provide outstanding ... Read More
The Summit has more going for it than not, but our cruise was negatively colored by illness aboard and a huge culture clash of passengers. First the good: the crew aboard the Summit is exceedingly well trained to provide outstanding service. It never varied from the most congenial, polite and gracious service in every venue. Even the public restroom staff were apparently trained to greet and chat with passengers. The restaurant staffs were a bit more subdued and harried toward the end of the cruise when longer hours and additional work were added to their already tough schedules due to the norovirus. Our cabin, a concierge class veranda, was perfectly designed for relatively spacious comfort. It did have the usual tiny bathroom, which was very ordinary with nothing to indicate the premium cabin category. There was a frig, which needed to be unlocked by request or was unavailable otherwise. I would like to note that the ship's review is quite incorrect on several points, such as internet availability in the cabins, the cost of internet (max was 65 cents per minute) and other points. It needs to be updated. Food was not up to prior standards of Celebrity, which we attribute to the downturn in pricing aboard any/all cruise lines. They simply cannot afford to provide costly meals at the prices charged for a cruise now. However, the prep was terrific, the quality good and the variety excellent. Of note was the unbelievable accommodation made for my gluten and dairy free diet. It was amazing how well they handled it and with complete grace. Kudos to them! Staff was very well informed about ingredients, which I found amazing. Again - Celebrity or the Summit in particular must train their staff very, very well. Very unusual for us: we took two shore excursions. One was to Provencal villages out of Marseilles and the other was to Alhambra from Malaga. They were both done very well and for very fair prices. The ship's design is user friendly and is chock full of public spaces. The interior design is very elegant and not glitzy. It is a beautiful ship. It is aging, which was only of note on the exterior (veranda, and when viewing the ship's hull). All exterior public spaces are still looking great, though. We felt that food safety and sanitation could have been handled a lot better from embarkation on, which probably contributed to the spread of illness, pegged as a norovirus as per a letter in each cabin from Captain Berdos. I hate seeing serve yourself buffets as any germs from passengers are transmitted via serving pieces and beverage stations. That stopped, with staff handling all food and beverages, once the illness was announced. How widespread the virus was, we will never know. It didn't affect our group of 4 but we are scrupulously careful about hand washing, touching public door knobs, elevator buttons, banisters, etc. Being sick on vacation is lousy and we go to extremes to avoid it. The culture clash aboard the Summit was our second episode this year. Celebrity dumps their unsold cabins in Puerto Rico. There were 900 Puerto Ricans aboard, 1/2 the passengers approximately. They do not mix well culturally with N. Americans, the vast majority of the usual passengers. Enough said except that everyone we spoke with to a person, including loyal Celebrity cruisers, said it was the last Celebrity cruise they would take. Celebrity needs to take note as it was a huge problem and one that staff was unable to handle any better. We will be writing a letter to Celebrity with our concern but don't expect any apology. A couple we met had taken a lengthy S. American cruise over Christmas 2008 and said that Celebrity had sold the ship out to S. Americans, which caused another huge culture clash. They are very well traveled, frequent Celebrity cruisers, and mild mannered people. The response they received from their letter to Celebrity was that since "they are Canadians, they are quite sheltered and unaccustomed to other cultures." It was a huge insult to them and they will never again sail Celebrity. We concur. We are sorry because we love the staff, the ship and the service. But, never again. Don't anyone accuse us of prejudice or intolerance or lack of worldliness. Not true on any count. It was simply a mix of cultures that aboard a ship does not work. It was felt by everyone, including the Puerto Ricans, who were vocal in their complaints also. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We embarked in Barcelona and were looking forward to our return to the Century. It was to be my third Transatlantic cruise on this ship, rather like returning home again. We immediately learned that Celebrity no longer was providing bridge ... Read More
We embarked in Barcelona and were looking forward to our return to the Century. It was to be my third Transatlantic cruise on this ship, rather like returning home again. We immediately learned that Celebrity no longer was providing bridge instructor/director's on their long sea day cruises. We were perhaps sixty passengers who had planned on playing organized bridge as has been the case on all of my past crossings (9 so far). After a non-productive meeting with the cruise director who could not explain Celebrity's decision, we self organized 8 days of bridge. I cannot fathom Celebrity's decision nor could my fellow players. The majority sentiment was no bridge directors, no Celebrity cruises in our future. Otherwise, the cruise went well with perfect weather the entire trip. The "new and improved" Captain's Club program was an improvement. The food is reasonable except for the fish dishes which are to be avoided. The ship itself is beginning to show some wear and tear as in soiled cabin carpets, broken fittings and trim particularly in the bathrooms. The entire crew is marvelous, always friendly and accomodating. And the passengers are wonderful, interesting, and a joy to sail. So, Celebrity, please bring back the bridge director program so that my partner and I can sail with you again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We loved this cruise. The food was wonderful. Mike Szwajkowski was the CD and he was fantastic. Unlike other CD's we've had experience with, Mike was always visible not just at the show in the evening. He has a super personality ... Read More
We loved this cruise. The food was wonderful. Mike Szwajkowski was the CD and he was fantastic. Unlike other CD's we've had experience with, Mike was always visible not just at the show in the evening. He has a super personality and made everything fun. His staff was fantastic. With so many sea days, it was important to have a good CD and CD staff and these kids were just super. This cabin is on the starboard side on the aft end of the "hump" or bump out of the ship. It had a much larger than usual balcony with full bulkheads to the top making it very private. It was also in the wide part of the hallway and within easy access of the elevators and the library. Though a lot of people had to pass our cabin, the hallway was quiet. I wish I could get the same location on our next cruise. I thought the food was very good and especially enjoyed the little rib lamb chops which were unexpected. We had them twice! Our waiter was wonderful and our table mates were great folks whom we hope to cruise with again. The only thing that was wrong with this cruise was the fact that we are Platinum Crown & Anchor members and the ship had over 600 Diamond and Diamond+ members on board. Because of this large number of D a D+ members, the rest of the passengers lost an important venue and the ability to have a dance and a drink before dinner. There were so many of them that they took the Cleopatra's Needle over every day for drinks and dancing. There was staff at the door to "card" other guests so they could not get in. We didn't want their free drinks, and would have paid for our own beverages for the privilidge of being able to have a few dances before early dining. Towards the end of the cruise, they gave the early diners 15 minutes of music in the lounge on deck 14 but it was too little and too late. The Platinum members lost their luncheon, too, because of the number of D and D+. We need one more cruise to be Diamond, so we have cruised a lot on RCI and this is the first time that we felt unwelcome and unwanted because we weren't Diamond or Diamond Plus. Other than that, it was a great cruise with awesome weather and fantastic memories to treasure. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
My husband and I (along with my parents) were just on the Summit going from Barcelona to San Juan. My husband and I were probably one of the younger couples on board being 29 and 35. My parents are in their 50's. We did not book a ... Read More
My husband and I (along with my parents) were just on the Summit going from Barcelona to San Juan. My husband and I were probably one of the younger couples on board being 29 and 35. My parents are in their 50's. We did not book a hotel through Celebrity in Barcelona as we booked it on our own because it was way cheaper. Embarkation was a breeze both my husband and I, and my parents were in CC class, no line and we were on the boat in probably 1/2 hour, we also stopped to change some money which took more time than anything else! The ship was great! We have only been on Celebrity one other time and that was on the Galaxy on a transatlantic 3 years ago. This time (and last time) we had a balcony in CC class. I loved the room, thought the bed was comfy, everything was very clean and nice. I loved both of these ships the Summit however has a great indoor Thalassotherapy pool which was wonderful, and warm, which the Galaxy didn't have. Though I liked the buffet set up better in the Galaxy, either way both were/are great ships. Even more fun this time of year the Summit was decorated for Christmas! I really liked Celebrity's enrichment and learning programs. My husband and I went to dance lessons, all four of us went to the lectures which were very informational, one Smithsonian speaker on Oceans and the other on Africa. The on board ship entertainment (dancers and singers) were excellent! Having last been on NCL where I refused to go to the shows because they were so bad this was a welcome and wonderful change! The entertainers they brought on board were also very good. We did two shore excursions one in Agadir, and one in San Juan. Both were very good. My parents did an excursion at almost every port and they enjoyed all of them. My favorite places had to be Valencia and Malaga Spain. Both cities were very interesting. I managed to find a tack store (horse store) in Valencia where I could buy gifts for all my friends (most of them including me have horses). Malaga had a small Christmas market and they had a ton of Christmas lights hanging at almost every street, and each street had a different lighting theme. One street was all snowflakes, one street was a red and white design, one was music notes, all were very pretty! The food was fantastic, just as good as I remembered on the Galaxy. The buffet was always good, though I think the newer ships with the "pods" would work better than the old buffet line, as we had a number of people on board who didn't understand the concept of standing in line, and always tried to line jump. We also had the best waiters in the main dining room, very nice, professional, and helpful, they were excellent I can't say enough good about them. We also at the Normandie (twice) which was absolute wonderful. I wasn't sure how they could improve on the food and they did. It was so good that we went back the next night and took my mother. I am not a big fan of specialty restaurants (mainly because I don't want to pay extra) but this one is well worth it! I would definitely sail on Celebrity again, and we are currently looking for another cruise! Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We boarded the Navigator in Malaga, which was a wonderful start for us as it is only about an hours drive away from our home. We had arranged to leave our car at SP Parking, which is an off site airport parking and that they would take us ... Read More
We boarded the Navigator in Malaga, which was a wonderful start for us as it is only about an hours drive away from our home. We had arranged to leave our car at SP Parking, which is an off site airport parking and that they would take us down to the port in their transportation. This worked out perfectly for us and no sooner had we arrived that we were in their taxi van and on our way - about 30 minutes drive from the airport area to the port. Navigator looked superb in the sunshine and we weren't to be disappointed. Malaga port is undergoing major construction work and the ship was berthed a long way from the port entrance, it seemed a very complicated route that the driver had to take to get us to the ship and I would have hated to try and get there under our own steam. We had read many horror stories about embarkation at Malaga during the series of 5 night cruises prior to our Transatlantic, however we were pleasantly surprised. Porters were readily available to take the luggage and we entered a short queue for security and were checked in very speedily. Lots of check in staff were available and there were some shops, including a duty free shop after the baggage scanner for any last minute purchases! It took an hour from us arriving at SP Parking at Malaga Airport to boarding the Navigator - we were on board by midday - and as usual cabins were not available until 1pm - so we headed to the Windjammer for a light lunch before going to the main dining room to check out our table allocation. We were delighted to find that we had got our table for 2 , as requested, in the 3rd floor Nutcracker restaurant. Our cabin was 7620, which was a mid hump E2 category - the location was superb for us and our cabin steward Andrea was efficient and attentive. Once on the crossing we had the sun on our balcony from morning until night and we used the balcony frequently to sit out and read. We were truly blessed with the weather on this cruise. The second sea day on the crossing was somewhat rocky, but apart from that, we had beautiful sunny, calm days. We loved the entertainment on this cruise, we felt the guest acts were by far the best we had experienced on board ship. The highlights for us were the Backbeat Beatles (my absolute favourites), Gary Lovini, Jeffrey Allen (Elton John Tribute Act) and the 3 Tenors. We also enjoyed Bob Arno (the pickpocket act) and passed many a pleasant evening singing along with Darren Bethell in the Schooner Bar and Christine McCann, who entertained in the 2 Poets pub on the last evening. I much prefer that the late show is after dinner and not pre dinner but for some reason Cruise Directors seem to love having the show before dinner for the late dining room sitting. Having said that we liked Kieron Buffery as a CD and he was always visible around the ship and happy to chat. The Navigator dunes mini golf was in pretty poor shape and is in urgent need of some TLC however generally speaking the Navigator was in good condition. My husband is a smoker and we found the Navigator to be much more smoker friendly than our previous experiences. We loved the 2 Poets for our pre dinner drinks and the Schooner Bar for after dinner entertainment. We also used the 19th Hole during the day time for reading and card playing - the bar staff were all attentive and very friendly. My husband played for a while in the casino every night but lady luck did not smile on us at all during this trip! He also frequented the cigar bar on most evenings. The food in the main dining room was generally good, it would be nice to see a little more selection, or maybe more specials on offer, on longer cruises. We normally used the Windjammer for late breakfasts, which was fine and the Promenade Cafe for a light lunch. We did have lunch with our Cruise Critic group in the main dining room on one occasion, which I thought was fine. I did hear that the Windjammer was very good in the evenings but we never went there, and we did go for one afternoon tea there, which was lovely. There were several midnight buffets offered but we only attended once - more out of curiosity than hunger! We did use the spa on this trip, which was a first for us and we found it to be a relaxing experience. Our first port of call was Madeira - we had pre arranged a taxi tour with Daniel, which was interesting and informative. Our second port of call was Tenerife - we pre booked a hire car with holiday autos and went to Mount Teide, a lovely day trip. Our third port of call was La Palma - we took a taxi from the pier to visit a cigar manufacturer - we bought some great cigars there - and then we went on to visit the volcano site. A very interesting day, we later strolled through the charming small town and did a little shopping, wanting to make the most of our last day on land before the crossing. Our last port of call was the Bahamas - we took a taxi to Atlantis and we purchased tickets to visit the digs. We spent the whole day at the hotel, visiting the casino and having some lunch. Disembarkation was chaotic to say the least - we were delayed by immigration for over 5 hours. We had a 9.15am disembarkation, which would have been perfect for us but unfortunately we were still in the theatre at 1pm waiting to be called. We had a long drive to Savannah in front of us and this made it a really long, tiring day. This was not enough to mar our trip, just a bit of a blip, only really an inconvenience in the whole scheme of things. On the whole a great cruise, yes we would do a transatlantic again and we would certainly travel on the Navigator again if the right trip were to present itself - a great ship with a lovely crew. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
.....We stayed the previous night at the Holiday Inn close to Dock Gate 8 Southampton who do a cruise package of one nights stay, breakfast and up to 3 weeks parking (we paid for an extra night parking as our cruise was 22 nights) with ... Read More
.....We stayed the previous night at the Holiday Inn close to Dock Gate 8 Southampton who do a cruise package of one nights stay, breakfast and up to 3 weeks parking (we paid for an extra night parking as our cruise was 22 nights) with complimentary taxi to the terminal...this cost less than the parking provided by CPS in the dock. We were informed by text message the day before the cruise that Oriana would be berthed at City terminal rather than the planned Ocean terminal (our taxi driver told us that if its windy they can't use the 9 million pound Ocean terminal!!) Embarkation was quite slow, we arrived about 11.30 ish and it was over an hour before we got onboard. We made our way to our cabin and asked our steward if we could leave our hand luggage there as it was made up...he agreed and we went to the Conservatory buffet restaurant where we had a bite to eat and then explored the rest of the ship. There was a team around the ship putting up the Christmas decorations which were quite tasteful and not overpowering. We were allowed into our cabins at 2.00 pm...ours was c144 and was quite sufficient for our needs although the wardrobe rails were front to back x 3 which didn't give much hanging space, plenty of drawer space, a fridge and a safe. The air con was very efficient. The bath room was pink with bath with shower over and plenty of storage We sailed at 5.00 pm and once we rounded the Isle of Wight the force 8 winds were quite evident ...these strengthened to a force 9 over the next day and night and the first of many Stugeron tablets passed my lips ! Our first port of call was Vigo where it was a grey, rainy day we were slightly late leaving as they had put a tender boat down and couldn't retrieve it as it was too windy...as we left they turned the ship and retrieved it in the lee of the ship..the Captain later told us that it was a force 11 wind as we left Vigo and we had our third noisy bumpy night in a row. He made the decision to go south of the Azores to try and find some calmer weather...but it was our fourth day before we could go out on deck and sit in some warm sunshine...the outside decks had been closed before then. We had one more wet and windy day confined to the interior of the ship before we arrived in St Maarten .Next was St Kitts, then St Vincent, St Lucia, Grenada and Barbados.... We then had five days at sea ...two sunny, one cloudy, and two not so sunny ....our planned stop at Madeira was not possible as it was a tender port and the sea was much too rough and wind and rain prevailed. Disappointing for a lot of passengers but the Captain had no choice in our opinion....the comedians and singer had to disembark by rope ladder onto the pilot boat which must have been scary...Gary Rhodes who was due to join us there was unable to fly in because of the weather.....so after two hours treading water off the harbour we set off for Southampton and what would be eight days at sea. It became noticeably cooler as we travelled further north and our entry to Bay of Biscay was very rough ... the exit was calmer and we arrived at Southampton on time. Disembarkation was quite chaotic...I think they disembarked too many passengers too quickly (we left half an hour earlier than anticipated) and there was a mad scramble to find suitcases and then a huge queue for customs....however we emerged unscathed from the terminal at 10 am ish... Ports of call Vigo - it was pouring with rain here - we did walk up through the town , into the church - then around in a big circle and through the shopping mall near to the terminal where there were some quite nice shops including a huge electrical retailers which we thought was amazing (and useful as we needed a new mouse for the laptop!) St Maarten - we were late arriving here because of the bad weather on the way down....but we didn't leave until 11 pm ...we got a water taxi to the shopping centre $6 return....this is the place for cheap cigarettes £20 for 400 Marlboro ....nowhere else had them cheaper. We started to walk to the salt ponds area to see if there were any unusual birds but we felt a bit uncomfortable after a while as there were no other tourists anywhere to be seen....so we returned to the shopping area. 84 degs here ! St Kitts - we did a trip here 'Best of St Kitts'. It was a quite good overview of the island visiting an old sugar plantation Romney Manor and a Batik factory shop and then we went to Brimstone Hill fortress National Park. 82 degs here ! St Vincent - we did a trip to some Botanical Gardens here - Kingstown where there were nice lawned areas and trees and shrubs and then our favourite Montreal gardens which was 3000 feet above see level in the rain forest area...there were lots of beautiful flowering shrubs and plants here and paths down a little valley to a fast running stream it was lovely. St Lucia - we did a private tour with Cosol tours here which was excellent...saw lots of the island with some super photo stops, visit to the sulphur springs inside a volcano, waterfall and botanical gardens, and got a water taxi to the beach between the pitons travelling there in a torrential tropical shower at great speed!!!!! Walked into the water and was immediately surrounded by a shoal of yellow and black striped fish!! Then we had another torrential downpour before returning to Souffriere in the water taxi via the bat cave full of fruit bats. Had a typical Caribbean breakfast in a private house and hot bread baguette type things with cheese for lunch along with a couple of rum punches.... Grenada - we just wandered the Port complex of shops here as we were quite tired so decided on a day off! Barbados - we did a trip here which was a bit disappointing just a photo stop in the Highlands area and then a drive to Dover beach where we had two hours use of sunbeds and sunshades. The beach was very nice but the sea was quite rough with a strong current so I didn't feel safe to swim. We were disappointed because we actually berthed at the 'flour mill' dock and this was within walking distance of a nice looking beach with much calmer water which we could have enjoyed for free !!! Madeira - we did not go ashore here as detailed above. Entertainment The Cruise director is Gary Glading who did a fairly good job - he did wonders with the passenger choir who performed a concert of Music from the Films which was excellent. The Headliners Singers and Dancers were good - if a bit too energetic - one singer Lisa stood out - she was excellent. There were up to date films in the Cinema and some older ones on cabin TV . We felt that the cabin TV was underused and that there could have been a music channel all day - especially when there were no satellite signals. We also felt that the Cruise director could have appeared on the TV and summarised the days activities, especially as there were so many sea days on this cruise. Martin Daniels (son of Paul Daniels) was on twice in the theatre and was the best of the individual entertainers (in my opinion). Singer called Mark Porter, Elaine Delmar, singer, a Welsh comedian who we didn't see but heard not so good reports on, another comedian Kevin Devane who was quite funny, a couple of young lads who did two concerts one of Beatles songs and another of 50s and 60s songs, they were excellent musicians but a bit nervous, however we did enjoy them. Bobby Crush was also on twice but we gave him a miss. We also had Diana Moran, the Green Goddess, on board for the duration, who gave five talks I think....we just went to the first one. There were also talks by the Tate gallery, a fingerprint expert, Philip Hobday ex BBC, the Captain Paul Brown, Executive Purser Kathy Jones, and Second Officer Wendy O'Donnell. We went to the last three and they were very interesting. We weren't impressed with the young 'Future Cruise sales manager' who did a presentation in the Cinema. Food We ate breakfast and lunch in the Conservatory (buffet) and dinner in the Peninsular restaurant. We had some good food, but it was not always easy to find something that we liked, especially in the Conservatory at lunchtime. We did have to resort to the alternative of Chicken Breast, or Sirloin Steak in the Dining room on more than one occasion. The meat was very good but we never had good roast potatoes, they were always hard and anaemic looking ! There was always a good variety of vegetables in the dining room. We liked the size and style of the ship...there was always space to sit somewhere quiet if we wanted....we used the gym which seemed quite well equipped....we also used our laptop in the internet room to send emails (30p per minute pay as you go)...there was a nice library with a good selection of books. The age range was quite elderly...(I felt young at 62) but there were a dozen or so school age children and also several babies/toddlers in pushchairs. It seemed to cope well for the disabled passengers with several motorized and manual wheelchair users. We felt the ship generally handled well in the rough weather but our bed was positioned under the window so was side to side of the ship rather than front to back and when seas were rough it felt like we would fall out of bed ....but we didn't ! It was the noise of the ship hitting the waves that kept us awake at night. All in all we enjoyed the cruise very much...in spite of the rough weather ...and the resulting 8 continuous days at sea! We covered nearly 8500 nautical miles in three weeks. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Jezebel's Master was spot on. I was expecting much more in the way of quality from what others had told me about this cruise line. The food was not as good as on my cruise with Carnival Spirit in September. The waiters were about the ... Read More
Jezebel's Master was spot on. I was expecting much more in the way of quality from what others had told me about this cruise line. The food was not as good as on my cruise with Carnival Spirit in September. The waiters were about the same. I've had much better food and service on NCL as recent as last year. I talked to many passengers who said the quality of this cruise had slipped considerably and these were seasoned Royal Caribbean cruisers of which several said this was there last time with this cruise line. About half of the evening entertainment was good but the rest was of lounge show quality not headliner type. This is compaired to NCL. Housekeeping sucked more than their vacuum cleaner. It was when I was going to start packing and pulled my suitcases out from under the bed that I found a 2euro coin just under the edge of the bed on the floor. Down on my hands and knees I found a tube of hand creme and hair and debris every where. Had I known how dirty is was I would have said something. Galveston shuttle was a little scary. We had purchased tickets on board with a exit time of 8:30-8:45. We were told we would be on the first or second bus and it would wait if we were late in getting off the boat. When we were finally released at 9:35 we had another long wait to go through customs. On other ships we have had customs on board ship to do the paperwork. By the time we made it to the shuttle area we were told that the bus had just left. They finally found another bus and we were the first ones on. We had to wait an hour until the bus filled. We were told by RCI that we could book a flight after 12 noon, ours was at 12:05. The bus people told me that it should be after 1:00. We finally arrived at the airport 14 minutes before take off. Since we were the first on the bus our luggage was buried. I had to throw out about 15 suit cases before I got to ours. Running into the terminal at full speed, the people at Southwest were wonderfull. They rushed us through but of course the gate was 2nd from the end of the building. They let us on without boarding passes and the door closed right behind us before we could find a seat. But we made it! We have cruised a dozen times in the last 9 years and plan to continue in the future. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We decided to use the opportunity of the low cost of cruising in 2009 by booking 4 different cruises on 4 different cruise lines in the Mediterranea in November and December. It took a lot a research,but finally we booked consecutive ... Read More
We decided to use the opportunity of the low cost of cruising in 2009 by booking 4 different cruises on 4 different cruise lines in the Mediterranea in November and December. It took a lot a research,but finally we booked consecutive cruises on the Costa Victoria,the MSC Splendida,the Azamara Quest and the NCL Gem. Even though at first sight these ships seem to fall in different categories,the daily price for a balcony cabin on a Med.cruise was very similar, so direct comparisons between these ships were realistic.The cruise on the Gem was the last one and we started it in Barcelona after flying from Athens where the Quest had left us . The embarkation process started fine; there were many attendants (20+) to look after the check-in and we were quickly aboard the ship ! It was still early and the cabins were not ready,so we were given glasses of sparkling wine or juice while waiting ! The problem started when the number of passengers increased : we quickly ended up being over 200 waiting in the lobby,being told that the restaurants would open only in one hour and rooms available in two hours ! Only when I enquired for a place to drop our carry-ons did we learned that the restaurant in the Garden Cafe was open for service and in fact had been for a while ! There had been a lack of communication within the staff ! Rather than waiting for our luggage in the cabin ,we decided to go out and visit Barcelona for the remaining of the afternoon. The first impression of the Gem is surprising ! The decoration on this ship is quite different from what we we had seen on the Victoria,the Splendida and the Quest: it is a kaleidoscope of colors and every corner of the ship seems to have its own decor and style ! It is definitely very original and generates different reactions ! The public rooms are very spacious,easily accessible and spread all around the ship. There are numerous bars, all quite distinctive and with comfortable seating ! The Stardust Theater is located at the back of the ship and has a lot of seating space without any obstruction for viewing ! The sound is excellent and it is an area not too affected by the rocking in bad weather !The Fitness Center is very well equipped and located at the front of the ship where the view could be impressive ! The library is too small for the demand but it has a good choice of books ! There is a choice of 4 restaurants where service is free and 7 specialty restaurants where they charge a cover for what you get ! Each restaurant has its own distinctive decor ,with varying taste but seating is excellent ! It was our third experience with Free Style dining and we found it well organised for the size of the ship ! Dining was average,no more ! We took most of our breakfasts at the buffet at the Garden Cafe and found the choice to be very wide, food warm enough ,seating available but coffee worse than tasteless ! The cappuccino machine would work for a couple of hours each morning but after 8h30the tasteless brew would be the only type available! Lunches and dinners were average with a good choice that included Indian, Chinese and Thai cuisine mixed with an Italian pasta bar and North American food , the only problem being with the temperature of the food that would vary in time ! Meals taken at the Grand Pacific and the Magenta restaurants were generally very good with a varied selection of courses ! Specialty restaurants were of a mixed breed : the Tequila offered Mexican chain food in a nice decor; the La Cucina had a good choice of pasta and pizza but the meat and fish proved to be average,no more; only did the Cagney's Steak House offered excellent choice and cooking but at an additional cost of 25$ ! We did not try the other restaurants but got mixed feedback from friends ! The cabin was of average size,nicely laid-out with a lot of space for luggage , enough space for movement and the decoration was more sober than the rest of the ship ! It was kept clean for the duration of the whole voyage,was not noisy and we did not feel too much the rocking of the ship. The service was very good from all groups of the crew ! What requires a lot of improvement on this ship is the entertainment ! The shows presented at the Stardust Theater were on the average of better quality and more original than what we had seen on Costa,Princess,Azamara,MSC and even HAL but this is where the + ended ! There was only one enrichment program,with seminars that lasted 40 minutes each for 5 days , this is not much for a 13 days cruise that had 7 days at sea. The problem increased when the ship got in the Atlantic ! The sea got very rough and for 5 days the passengers experienced the effects of gusty winds with waves of close to 30 feet ! The Spinnaker Lounge where most of the morning and afternoon activities took place got to be the least comfortable location on the ship making it difficult to attend morning exercises,dancing classes,trivia,even the seminars.. The staff refused to transfer these activities at the Stardust Theater since it was reserved for performers for practice sessions 9 (2-3 hours). There were two movies projected in the Main Lobby which has a capacity of less than 200 for 2300 passengers , again this could have been transferred to the Theater ! With the pool areas close due to the bad weather,the Spinnaker Lounge being very rocky,the Library being very small and the Gym being at the front of the ship where using the treadmill was hazardous,let alone the weights it became apparent that cabins were the place to be ! The television screen was of a good size but did not show very much !There was a Fox channel discussing about politics (perceived as being anti-government for a non-American),an ESPN broadcast of old sporting events, a channel showing pre 1960 movies and only on day 10 of the cruise did we get access to a Movie channel! There was no daily news bulletin delivered to the rooms like we had on the Costa and Azamara ships and we had to buy newspapers to get in touch with the rest of the world ! This was a trans-Atlantic cruise and there should have been some alternatives planned in case of bad weather ! We have to give a big+ though on the way the Gem handled the bad sea and the crew has to take some benefits! The last time we had seen waves of this size was on the Cape Horn, ! We did not see anyone being sea sick,a lot of people wearing ear patches and bracelets and less people circulating in the public areas ! The itinerary in Europe was very interesting with ports of call in Cannes,Livorno,Rome Ajaccio and Malaga. Information provided by the ship proved very useful for passengers visiting on their own and getting out and back on the ship was easy ! The disembarkation process in New-York was slower than expected and this was probably due to the freestyle process where everyone selects its own time of disembarkation so that the first groups were overcrowded and the others late. Overall, this cruise was the least expensive cruise of the 4 we had taken and we got what we had paid for ! It was not a disappointing cruise but we had expected more from NCL ! Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
After some time in Barcelona, a wonderfully exciting and interesting city, we took a taxi from our hotel to the pier. The embarkation was the easiest we have encountered. The ship was clean and already beginning to look a lot like ... Read More
After some time in Barcelona, a wonderfully exciting and interesting city, we took a taxi from our hotel to the pier. The embarkation was the easiest we have encountered. The ship was clean and already beginning to look a lot like Christmas, with the huge Christmas tree in the center of the Promenade Deck. Ports were interesting, sea days were great, and we enjoyed the shows. The Broadway Music by the ship's singers and dancers was terrific, ice show was good, and we adored the young musical impersonator, Sean O' Shay. He was totally captivating and his show was sooo enjoyable. We met so many old and new cruise friends. Food is always an issue with many people, but it is not our priority. We found it adequate to good, not superior. Of course, Portafino's and Johnny Rocket's are always nice alternatives. We love the RCI ships. They are pretty and their layout is easy with which to become acquainted. This was a totally wonderful cruise. Transatlantic cruises on a Voyager Class ships are the best! Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Overall C- About us: My wife and I are around 30 and took our 2 year old daughter This was our 4th cruises so far, all exclusively with NCL. It had been 4 years between our last cruise and this one. We have been on the Majesty twice ... Read More
Overall C- About us: My wife and I are around 30 and took our 2 year old daughter This was our 4th cruises so far, all exclusively with NCL. It had been 4 years between our last cruise and this one. We have been on the Majesty twice and the Sea. Embarkation: A Went through the security checkpoint and got in line for check in. We had gotten in early and waited for the staff to open check in, we were through check in, and they cut the corner of my wife's card but thought nothing of it. The ship: C+ Clean, well maintained, nice. We were both pleasantly surprised that the colorful decor really worked. Looking at the photos online it looked loud but it was not to much. Each separate area of the ship had its own unique personality, and as you walked from one section to the next the carpeting and/or walls change from one scheme to the next. The dolphins on the cabin levels swim to the front of the ship that helps as the elevators are not all on the same side. The giant Wii screen in the atrium was not use enough. Most of the time there were just photos being shown on this screen or lines moving to the music. The stairs go up to the Blue Lagoon and Tequila Restaurants 2 of the 4 landings are in the middle of them. Bowling, golfing, rock climbing etc. not really used by anyone the bowling was about the only thing that could have been done on sea days but was very empty and price should have been lowered. Need to walk through the casino to get to the theater but it was always filled with people smoking at the exit area NOT playing just looking for a warm place to smoke but this is a main passage and not a good design for a ship build after smoking being ban in most buildings in the USA. "Bar City" gets a big F; you lost the charm of the little hangout each bar had on the other ships with different themes going on. It is a pain to get to the spinnaker lounge where most of the nightly entertainment started White party, 70's etc, need to walk outside or go down a level and wind through the shops. The Captain D Would have been an F but we made it I don't understand how he could not chart a course that would have given a day or 3 of somewhat smooth days 30 foot waves and 90 mile an hour winds was just crazy was always saying it was going to get better and it gets worst. The cabin: B+ (Our first Balcony) We were in a balcony cabin category BA, AFT 9174. The cabin was smaller than were prepared for but we got used to it. It should be fine for 2 and a 3rd as long as you don't plan to use the balcony after the single has gone to bed. The bed was Medium-firm not a rock but you stay on top of it, you also could not tell where the 2 "twin" mattresses came together. (Two twin make I king this was just a queen at best) Storage space was adequate. If the closet doors were open the bathroom door could not be opened without banging into them. The bathroom was wonderful. As you walked in you were facing the sink, to your right is the toilet area with a sliding door that could be closed for privacy, to the left was the shower. My wife and I are not small people but the shower was roomy with an adjustable height shower head which could also be removed and used as a handheld. The water pressure could be adjusted as well as the spray and temperature. It was always hot I couldn't get it to run out. The Balcony was nice and made for a few great photos. The crew: A Super, friendly, nice Andy, Ashtin, the whole Cruse director staff, kid's crew, reception desk staff ,right down the line all staff that had face time was very friendly and very helpful I don't have the names here with me as I write this. The casino: C The slot machines were no much fun little selection for fun games money went fast. Most of the time when I sit down to a machine I expect to lose but I also expect to be able to play for 10 or 15 minutes. The machines just seemed to be tight by the middle of the week; the casino was mostly empty except for smokers and stayed that way for the remainder of the cruise. The entertainment: C Headline shows B+ but the sea days had little going on before 5 pm not much choice do this or nothing so outside of ShowTime it was a D The food: D Main dining room was service was slow, I think it was intentional, but friendly the food was ok nothing great I had a good sirloin and a very bad one The ½ lobster tail was ok nothing great. The food over all was on par with a Denny's Specialty Restaurants: D+ Food not service Blue Lagoon was the 24 hr eatery so no cover charge but the menu was small after dinner wings not hot and soggy, burger was ok and cheese cake was good but no real choices. La Cucina Italian Restaurant Dinner was just ok and not worth paying extra then I woke up around 3am, about an hour after going to bed, with nausea, cramping and diarrhea. By 11:00 the vomiting stopped and it took me in a good 7 hours of sleep to get back on track. I'm convinced it was something I ate, as my wife and daughter never experienced any symptoms at all. Tequila Latin/Tapas Restaurant was bar far the best food we had, that's not really saying much. I don't think it is worth the extra money think Applebee's meets Taco Bell. Disembarkation: A We roamed around in lobby bliss area waiting for our color to be called. We were off the ship, gathered up our luggage, and thru customs in less than 15 minutes. Again Andy was right there checking with everything letting people know about the delays at the start getting luggage off the ship. With the Baby We ended up walking to Bliss Lounge to hang out too we had a rental car that I needed to walk a mile or so to get but didn't need to be there till noon so we had the last color, while in the bliss there was Andy looking for a couple he sent there to wait because the seats in the lobby had filled up but he was not sure the announcements would be heard so he was checking after making the first one. In Summary: This is the NCL "it" ship now the newest etc.. but food and entertainment has dropped off the past 4 years Food was limited and lacking quality, Caption was unable to avoid any ruff sea days driving into 30+ foot waves and 90+ mph winds. NCL not picking up the cost for required shuttle in Livorno, a cover band of a cover band is sad to be on the main stage. These things would give the cruise a very poor rating. Cruise Director Andy and his staff were great along with the Gem production cast. Gary Lovini, Paul Adams, Charlie Peachock all very good and should have been main shows. Brenda K and Lost Locos both good but not main show quality. local folkloric show from Malaga just as good and this is same time slot the other 2 should have had. 1pm 4pm or 11 pm type shows Second City and Stephen Kane slightly better then il divo fourever I think Rondo the nightly guy with guitar was on par or better then these 3 acts. Again not Showtime quality 1, 4, or 11pm slots would have been better. I really can't say enough about the Cruise Director staff, they were fantastic. Dining service was always given with a smile and everyone seemed to really enjoy working on this ship. when not suffering with sea sickness The food just was not good it was not even ok most of the time. We will be cruising with another cruise line in the future. The people can't really be cut back on as much as quality of food has been. We had decided that we would take a break from NCL but did buy the credit to be used within the next 4 years; we will look at what ship Andy is on as a first choice. As he will not be on the gem when sailing out of Italy in the summer 2010, also willing to give epic a try. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
This was our 8th Transatlantic crossing but our first on such a huge ship, our previous cruise experiences with RCI have all on Vision class ships at half the size, but its not too big, yes its big, a five minute walk from the theatre to ... Read More
This was our 8th Transatlantic crossing but our first on such a huge ship, our previous cruise experiences with RCI have all on Vision class ships at half the size, but its not too big, yes its big, a five minute walk from the theatre to the restaurant, and the Olive and Twist bar is on deck 14! a long walk from boarding on deck 1. We never found anywhere crowded, tables were readily available every time we went to the Windjammer and we always found a sun lounger on deck when we wanted one. We had previously visited all of our Ports of call but we still enjoyed browsing about Le Havre, Cherbourg, Vigo and Funchal( Shame that this latter was on Sunday, it was very much closed) The weather in the early part was not good but was improving by the time we got to Vigo, Independence was very comfortable at all times, you did not know you where at sea siting in the Pub on the Royal Promenade. Entertainment was generally good and the ice shows great, one act 'Teatro' stood out as exceptional, one evening in the theatre and a second performance in the Royal Promenade, hits from musicals, my kind of music. Food seems to cause much comment in these reviews but we found the food throughout the ship was very good and varied and there was very little we could fault but I would agree that the restaurant menus need a revamp. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009

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