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1,146 Repositioning Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise primarily for itinerary. Having done the Med a few times before, we were very interested in the transatlantic portion, and being able to relax after our hectic pace in Europe. As we love Rome, we chose to fly in a few ... Read More
We chose this cruise primarily for itinerary. Having done the Med a few times before, we were very interested in the transatlantic portion, and being able to relax after our hectic pace in Europe. As we love Rome, we chose to fly in a few days early and spend 3 nights there. Stayed at the Artemide which was local walking distance to everything and was fantastic. We then took the train to Venice, to spend one night there prior to boarding the Ruby. Unfotunately our train ride was more eventful than we liked. We traveled with another couple, and sometime during the 4 1/2 hr ride from Rome to Venice, our friends camera bag disappeared right from under his seat! The camera wasn't the big worry, he had three weeks worth of medication in that bag!! To make a long story short, a very wonderful pharmacist in Venice was able to replace the meds in 24hrs. Whew! After staying at the Locanda Vivaldi one night prior (fab hotel) , we boarded the lovely RubyPrincess late afternoon on the Wednesday. At that point, we stayed on board to wander and explore. We used the Princess Water Shuttle tickets provided to go back into Venice the next morning. We had a minisuite on Dolphin deck. Enjoyed having the extra room but can't seem to get used to the totally exposed balconys on this class of ship. Common/Public Rooms Lots of places to meet and mingle, nowhere seemed crowded except the ever popular International Cafe. Adiagos, Crooners, Wheelhouse, all great spots to linger with a drink. We enjoyed the outside area of Adiagos where you could sit and stare out to sea. Beautiful. The Princess Theater is a little small, and I guess that's why they repeat the Production Shows over 2 nights. The casino was nice, we didn't spend alot of time there. Dining We had second seating and had fabulous staff. Meals in the dining room were usually good to sometimes great. Unfortunately it was the only time we could say that. The Horizon Court was a huge disappointment. Very little selection in my opinion for lunch. Soggy sandwiches wrapped in saran wrap (I've never seen this before!)At least you could get a decent salad. We tried the dining room for lunch one day and again experienced the soggy wet bread. Specialty Dining Had a nice meal in the Crown Grill. And the Ultimate Balcony Dining was the best experience, would recommend to anyone. Sabatinis was a disappointment though. Entertainment Production shows were well done. I thought for 18 nights they could have squeezed an extra show in there - we had three. There was a pretty good comedian. MUTS had lots of good movies to choose from, but we only went once. They had the White Hot Deck party and Ruby Ball also. Ports The magic of Italy, what can I say. We loved Venice, and having spent time in Rome prior, we chose to go to Tivoli the day we docked in Civitavecchia. We enjoyed Tivoli very much. In Naples, we did a private tour to the Amalfi Coast and it was outstanding. Certainly a highlight of the trip. In Florence we walked around on our own in the pouring rain, the only bad weather day in the trip. We missed Marseilles due to high seas and winds, so had an extra sea day. Barcelona is beautiful and we enjoyed Gaudi's as well as strolling Las Ramblas. Lisbon - oh how disappointing to be there only a few hours, how I wished we had more time there. And Azores was a quaint beautiful stop before we headed out to sea. The transatlantic portion was 6 days, and that meant about 2 too many for us. We got a little restless by day 4. There were activities on board during the sea days and venues seemed to be busy most of the time. As the weather was beautiful for the crossing, with calm seas and sunny warm days, we were able to enjoy the outdoor areas, by the pool, mini golf, etc. We overall enjoyed out trip, but I don't think another transatlantic crossing is in our future!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
First time with MSC on repositioning cruise. The MSC homepage offered a going nuts in Brazil promotion and many people had taken advantage of the ridiculously low price. I booked cruise only and flew London Gatwick to Venice the day ... Read More
First time with MSC on repositioning cruise. The MSC homepage offered a going nuts in Brazil promotion and many people had taken advantage of the ridiculously low price. I booked cruise only and flew London Gatwick to Venice the day before. Nice hotel and stay, then next day went to Piazzale Roma bus station for free shuttle to ship. I had used the express booking online and found this a complete waste of time, the queue was slow , it was quicker in the regular check-in. On the ship by 12.30 p.m, the cabin was ready, and was instantly impressed by the ship's condition, the cleanest one I've ever sailed on. This is an account of what happened next. Went for lunch and there was no tea or coffee just water. At tea time there was no tea or coffee just water. Had 7 course dinner no tea or coffee you're getting the picture. MSC wanted you to buy tea or coffee the whole of the cruise. This infuriated very many of the passengers I can tell you. They also wanted you to buy bottled water with all your meals. The prices for these extras was extortionate There was water and ice available from the drinks area so most people filled their own bottles. Tea and coffee were available at breakfast and tea time only At the end of these times around 10.30 a.m and 4.45 p.m drinks machines were closed. Then later completely drained of the hot coffee,water, and milk this was in most people's view despicable Why didn't they let passenger drain it off. This one action was the constant topic for most of the British passengers. The other minor irritation was the announcements in 7 languages I was prepared for this however going to the theatre for 7.15 p.m became 7.30 on most occasions. The shows were OK but I've seen much better. Coming back to the ship cleanliness it bordered on the paranoid and one day at buffet lunch with not many diners the waiters outnumbered us and cleaners were around our table during our meal I don't want my meals with the cleaners thank you can't it wait till lunch is finished. I've devised the MSC mission statement as follows " Cleanliness before customers" I've not had this irritation on other cruises MSC are 3 star against RCCL/Celebrity/Princess/NCL (only my opinion) If there was another repositioning bargain I might be tempted but I think I'll stay with the above cruise lines In case I forget the weather was fabulous all the way I've had a summer holiday in October/November GREAT Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
We decided to try the new Dream as it was to be the "Pride of the Carnival Fleet" and because it was a trans Atlantic we thought it would have a seasoned, mature passenger group. On the point of the passengers, we were correct. ... Read More
We decided to try the new Dream as it was to be the "Pride of the Carnival Fleet" and because it was a trans Atlantic we thought it would have a seasoned, mature passenger group. On the point of the passengers, we were correct. Many were die-hard Carnival followers but a large group were multi line cruisers and all that we met personally were very nice, interesting and well traveled people. They are what made our cruise enjoyable. What was disappointing was the staffing, activities, and the overall engineering of the ship. Staffing: In order to cut cost Carnival has eliminated the "head/section waiter" in the dining room. This results is overworked, confused and less productive wait staff. There is no guidance and lack of training shows. Not once did I see a pepper mill or the table cleared in the proper manner after dinner and before dessert. Many nights orders for drinks were either never taken or when they were the drinks were not served until the meal was about over or not at all. On the Lido this really causes problems. Tables are left uncleared as waiters stand about talking with each other, in some cases for 30 minutes or more. The "guest services" personnel were easily confused unless asked a very simple question. They apparently were programed to answer only certain questions and if your question was not on their training list they were at a loss. Some tried, but most did not. Our steward did the minimal as did his first assistant. His second (a lovely young lady) however was excellent. When she joined him about day three, suddenly our throw pillows resurfaced and the ashtray on the balcony was cleaned. Until then I had been cleaning this myself. By day 10 there was a shortage of facial tissue for our room yet our table mates had half a dozen boxes each. We did have a large supply of bath tissue so we had a tissue swap. We found the CD Todd and his assistant Jamie to be the worse we have ever had on a cruise. They were much too busy socializing with family and friends to be bother with passengers and activities for them. If we (hundreds of us) had not been self starters we would have jumped ship out of boredom while crossing the Atlantic. And to on a 16 night cruise with only two production shows is unacceptable. They certainly under utilize their entertainment staff, but the staff does take full advantage of all the ship's venues. The ship has many engineering problems among which are the venting and lack of venting in one case. The Piano lounge which showed a designated smoking section in the rear of the lounge turned into an all smoking lounge by night 8 or so. But trust me that even as a smoker this was not enjoyable and I felt very badly for non-smokers. It was so bad I even stopped going in some nights because of the clouds of smoke that hung in the air. There is no venting system in the lounge and in this day of electronic marvels there is no reason for this "oversight". Many ships and airports (in Europe) have fantastic air systems that make it near impossible to see or smell the smoke. The other venting problem is the exhaust from the ship's funnel being sucked back into the cabins (deck 6 port) and the poor air conditioning system which leaves areas of rooms either very cold or hot, no even temperature,. Even the control in our cabin was a challenge. Many have complained about the lack of lounge space for the comedy shows. True, there was a problem, but it could have been easily solved by moving them to the show room and putting the passenger shows in the Burgundy. There was also very little use of the Disco and this was more than likely due to the floor which would be dangerous to dance on because of its slick surface and the DJ who preferred to stick to his programing and not take request from those who did venture into "his" room. We found the dinning room food better than expected but some meals were inconsistent from person to person. Desserts were lacking in imagination and taste; soups when good were very good but when not were cold and tasteless. They did try to pass off watered down tomato juice as they "were running out" -so we were told. Why not just take if off the menu? The poached eggs are made in oil, thus answering the question as to why they were like rubber. The Lido was not worth the battle as the set-up is not for large crowds. The Tandoor food was good but the staff was not customer service trained. Thank goodness for the Deli and its great staff, never a disappointment. I did meet up a few times with the engineers that were trying to fix the venting and hot tub problems and they said the ship was not ready to sail. Makes one wonder why it did. If Carnival plans to make more of this class ship, I strongly suggest they get the bugs in this one ironed out first...and there are bugs whether Carnival wants to admit it to themselves or not. This is not the ship it could be and as it floats today, not one to be proud of. One odd little item. Deck 4 Port side men's room opens the wrong way. Any gentleman standing there is in full view of a passerby when the door is opened. Smile! Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Embarkation/De-Embarkation. Carnival had this down pat. We (Dennis and I)were at the pier at 12 noon, on this ship at 12:10pm and in the lido area by 12:15pm. We were pleasantly surprised. Cabin - Large, spacious but needed ... Read More
Embarkation/De-Embarkation. Carnival had this down pat. We (Dennis and I)were at the pier at 12 noon, on this ship at 12:10pm and in the lido area by 12:15pm. We were pleasantly surprised. Cabin - Large, spacious but needed attention. Phone didn't work, light switches that did nothing. We did miss the room controls for air/heat that other lines provide. Instead on the air vents in the ceiling are the flow valves to increase or decrease the amount of air you got. Ship - Overall it was OK. You can see and feel the age (10yrs) of the ship. We wish the hot tubs worked but all were closed off the entire trip. We felt that as a first time cruiser who has nothing to compare the experience with you would be happy. For seasoned travellers not so much. Corners were cut. Spa - This unfortunately was the worst portion of the trip. We walked into the treatment room and as you lay face down you see the tiles from the walls all separating from the wall. It looked like a basement bathroom that was being forgotten. Also, camp O is right above you so as that relaxing music is playing the teens are screaming, slamming the B-ball on the ground, and having a great time while you cannot enjoy the massage. The staff of the spa however were very nice and professional. Casino - Pleasant Shows - Entertaining. Nothing bad nothing outstanding. Dinning - Avoid the Lido at all costs. Just order room service and stick with the main dinning rooms. Unless you have children then by all means head to the lido. Because that's where you will find 1000 other children (No joke. Brad cruise director announced it on the overhead that this ship had 1000 registered 17 and under children) Lido food was not good, the ice tea machines didn't work and we watched as parents screamed at their kids to find a table for them. Main dinning was tasty food and excellent service. Pros's - Embarkation,de-embarkation, St. John (I think this is an underrated port.) Staff attitude and service. Con's - General Maintenance, Lido deck, Poor Spa facility Overall If you have children from 12 and under this may be a cruise for you. Camp Carnival seemed to keep the children very happy, entertained and busy. If you are going thinking you will relax ( As I did ) then avoid the ship. We had children running up and down the halls at 3am just banging on the walls and some peoples cabin doors for fun. Cruise Director would come on the PA in the mornings to remind people to be courteous but that did nothing. This was one part of the trip that I couldn't fault Carnival on. Carnival promotes fun for the family and that's what you should expect. They also will do whatever they can to get you to charge anything to your room. 6 drink servers asked myself and a few others within 5 mins if we wanted a drink. (i know they are on rounds but c'mon) We tried to avoid most of the sun decks and public areas and hang out on our balcony. With the weather so beautiful the entire trip this was the saving grace of the trip. I hope this review helps. Oh the reason why I went with carnival was that it fit the bill at the time. Needed a quick 4 day escape and they had the itinerary and embarkation port that worked for me. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
About us: This was our second cruise. Our first one was about 10 years ago - Western Caribbean on the Celebrity Infinity. We're a 50ish married couple. Hotel: We stayed at Clairidge's. This was our first time in London. We knew ... Read More
About us: This was our second cruise. Our first one was about 10 years ago - Western Caribbean on the Celebrity Infinity. We're a 50ish married couple. Hotel: We stayed at Clairidge's. This was our first time in London. We knew it was pricey but did not realize how much! We read in a review about the hotel that if you have to ask how much, don't stay here. Our 3 night stay with room, food (we ate dinner in the hotel each night), drinks and taxes was almost $4,000 USD. The exchange rate did not help (the US dollar is worth very little in the UK and Europe). The room was a decent size but rather dark with no view. The marble bathroom was updated and had the most fantastic shower and toiletries. Getting to the boat: We were in shock to find out Southampton (the embarkation point) was a 2-3 hour car ride from the heart of London depending on traffic. After calling several cab companies we found out it was ~$500 USD for a taxi or ~$800 USD for a private car from our hotel. A couple we spoke to on board the QM2 said they purchased the transfer from Cunard and it was ~$500 USD but a nightmare. They were sent to the train station with all their luggage and had to wait around for hours, then board the train where there was little room for your luggage. They were quite grumpy by the time they arrived aboard. By contrast, although quite expensive, we had a smooth and pleasant trip from the hotel to the ship. Embarkation: Had to wait a bit but was very smooth - no real problems First impression on boarding the boat: Not impressed. Expected a fabulous and glamorous entry / lobby. But it was sort of blah. Room: We had a Queen's Grill Suite (Q6). Very spacious room, nice sized closet, nice sized bathroom. The balcony was a good size (not as small as we had feared) - you could stretch out on a chaise lounge at a bit of an angle. On arrival, a chilled bottle of champagne with chocolate covered strawberries awaited us. The cabin butler greeted us, showed us the contents of the mini-fridge which included another bottle of complimentary champagne, canned soda and bottled water. She indicated that we were entitled to two bottles of wine and offered us a choice of red, white or both. This was a very pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, it was downhill from there. The king size bed had no mattress on it. Instead it was a 2" foam pad over the box spring. When you tried to sleep at night, you felt the steel from the box spring in your back and a quite noticeable gap between the two sides of the bed. In the cabin, we heard a ship structural snapping and cracking noise in one wall. It sounded like the ship was going to come apart. We complained about the bed and the noise. They brought us 2 more duvets to put under the fitted sheet which helped but not enough. They told us the noise was normal and in all the rooms. We later learned that the cabins were constructed in modules with lots of plastic. When the ship twists / bends with the motion of the waves, the plastic in the walls creaks and snaps. The TV in the room was a modern flat panel. They played some great, newer movies around the clock at no charge. Room service was great. The butler and her assistant were friendly and attentive. We forgot to think about what side of the ship we should request a cabin. On these transatlantic voyages, one side of the ship is facing south the whole time. That is the side you want. So, go for port on Westbound and starboard on Eastbound. Food: The Queens Grill atmosphere was not the greatest. The food and service, however, was phenomenal. Plenty of choices on the menu, half of which changed daily. If you wanted something not on the menu and they had the ingredients available, you got it - no extra charge. In the Queens Grill, you do have an assigned table but no assigned time. You just show up during the dinner hours (I think they were 6-10) whenever you are hungry. Same concept for Breakfast and Lunch (same table). Each night, the cabin butler left us the next day's menus to preview. You can order as many appetizers or desserts or anything on the menu for that matter. No questions asked. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. Strongly recommend the Dover Sole and the Short Ribs. The wine and liquor are reasonably priced. If you don't feel like eating at the Queens Grill the buffets were also pretty good with a nice variety of offerings. You can also bring your own bottle of vintage wine or champagne (brought from home or bought on board) to the Queens Grill for a nominal corkage fee. Bars: Our favorite was the Commodore which was just down the corridor from our cabin. It occupies the front of deck 9 and is a great place to view during the day. At night, there is a piano player. Nice, upscale bar. They also have an enclosed, ventilated cigar room. If you are a smoker, this is one of the few public areas where you can smoke. The cigars for sale there were mostly stale (not fresh) so recommend bringing your own. We also tried the Queens Grill Lounge but didn't like it as well as the Commodore plus it was at the other end of the ship from our cabin as well as being 2 decks below. Every time we decided to try one of the other bars, they were too crowded. Entertainment: We didn't go to any of the variety shows at night. We enjoyed some of the afternoon lectures and really liked a classical guitar concert offered. They claim to have the largest library at sea and it does have a good selection. Our cabin was one floor up from the library and very convenient. They also have a book club. Prior to the voyage, they will announce the book on the Cunard website. Or you can pick up copies in the library (purchase or borrow) when you board. Near the end of the voyage, they have a book club discussion. If you want to see a planetarium show, you have to pick up your tickets that morning. There is an observation deck where you can watch the Captain and crew "drive" the ship. Very interesting! If you want to use the golf simulator - book immediately. They fill up fast. One of the things we most enjoyed was simply walking around the deck. Be careful though, it can get very windy. If the winds come up it gets quite strong (if the ship is travelling about 25 MPH and the wind is 25 MPH in the same direction = 50 MPH effectively). Internet access: If you bring your own laptop, you can pay by the minute or buy a package. If you want to just check your email or don't have a laptop, there are computers in the library or in the computer center you can use. Same thing, either pay by the minute or buy a package. Cell phones: We didn't realize that they would work but they do! Had a signal most of the time but the per minute charges while away from shore can be pricey - I think they said it was $10/minute. While you are near land, you just pick up the normal cell signals. We had considered renting a satellite phone (for emergencies) but are glad we didn't'. Formal nights: There are 3 on the transatlantic and really are formal. Pets: There is a kennel on the top deck near the rear of the boat. They have a fenced area outside for them to run around in. We saw quite a few dogs and they looked like they were having fun. Casino: Was smaller than we expected. They did have a special table for Texas Hold 'em which is automated and there were plenty of tournaments if you like to play. Plenty of slot and bingo tournaments too. Ship: This ship is built for the transatlantic voyage. It is smaller than many other cruise ships for this reason. Very stable. You almost never feel the motion. If you are worried about being seasick, stop worrying. The length of the ship is dictated by the docking area in Southampton and the room to turn there. The height is dictated by the Verrazano Narrows bridge in NY (had to be able to sail under it). In general, the ship is looking a little outdated and is in need of a remodel. The passengers: This is an adult ship. We saw some kids but not that many. You don't need to worry about seeing a bunch of kids everywhere. The age group was mostly 45-80 years old although there were some younger couples. The mix was mostly UK citizens (about 2/3), followed by US citizens and a few from many different countries. Many of our fellow passengers were repeat customers. Definitely a gay friendly cruise. Tipping: They automatically add $13/pp per day for "service" (tips) and gratuity charges for liquor were 15%. But, on your check in the bars and restaurants they still have a line for tips. All of the staff are definitely looking for an additional tip the last day or so of the cruise. Disembarkation: Queens Grill passengers are one of the first groups off the ship. If you want to, you can not put your bags out the night before and leave the ship whenever. If you opt for a transfer, you report to the theater and are called in groups for your transfers. We did this. The cost was reasonable but our bus drive appears to have never been to JFK before and didn't seem to speak English. I think we drove around the airport about 10 times while he tried to figure out how to get to the terminal we needed. Note: We emailed Cunard after returning home regarding our uncomfortable bed and the noise in our cabin. We never received a reply. Although Cunard seems British, they are now owned by an American company. The attitude seems to be if you don't like it, go pound sand because they aren't changing. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
My husband and I sailed on the ms Statendam, May 5th through May 10th. We were in a veranda stateroom. I had previously notified, via our travel agent, that we are vegans. When we embarked, we made our first night's dinner ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the ms Statendam, May 5th through May 10th. We were in a veranda stateroom. I had previously notified, via our travel agent, that we are vegans. When we embarked, we made our first night's dinner reservation, and I told the person handling that about us being vegan. He told us that there was nothing to be done for that evening, but our restaurant steward would give us the vegetarian menu for the next night. I was very dismayed to discover that over 75% of the items on the vegetarian menu contain eggs and dairy products. This left me with a small number of items to select from. I was even more dismayed to discover that this one menu was meant to meet my dining needs for the entire cruise. When I asked about a small change to an item, I was informed that such changes were not possible. So, not only was there just the one menu, but for the entire cruise I would be selecting from 5 items. The food was obviously steam tabled for an extended period of time, with very mushy, overcooked vegetables, and dried out breading on items. Since we had dinner reservations, the cook staff knew when we would be there, and could have prepared our food accordingly. We tried the Lido, as well, as I figured I could put together something tasty from the buffet. No. If there was a "vegetarian choice" on the Lido, it contained eggs, dairy, and once, even bacon! I'm not sure who their head chef is, but this person apparently does not have a clue about what vegetarian means. There was basic lettuce mix, without any sort of variety, and a few salad items, like tomatoes, green peppers, and onions. I could not even get oil and vinegar on the Lido buffet. This is totally not acceptable. When we go on a cruise, fine dining is part of our experience. This was lousy dining. We sailed on Princess last fall. Every evening, the head waiter would bring the REGULAR menu to our table for the next evening, go over it with us, and make note of all the changes required to make our meal vegan. We had an amazing variety of food, freshly prepared, and did not feel in the least that we were settling for less than what others enjoyed. Not so on the Statendam. I felt like I should have brought my own sack lunch. After dinner, I asked for a soy cappuccino. I was told that I could not get soy. Excuse me? Later, our steward decided that we could, indeed, get soy milk in the dining room. Oh, and when asking for things at dinner, the stewards do not repeat back what you said. This allows a fair amount of mistakes. Our steward would not repeat back "soy cappuccino". He would only say cappuccino. How do I know that he comprehends that it must be soy milk? I was less than impressed with service on HAL. While there seemed to be a lot of staff, they apparently will not go one single extra step to provide service. I asked for coffee at one of the bars (my husband was getting a mixed drink at the time), and was told to go get it from the Lido myself. This shocked me. On Princess, when my husband ordered a drink, coffee was provided to me, without complaint. What really surprises me about this, is there are coffee-based drinks on the bar menus! How do they manage to make those, if there is no coffee? There was no attempt made by any server on board to learn our names, or our preferences. I was also a bit disturbed by the Explorations Cafe coffee bar. While there is a lovely barista machine, with proper cups stacked on it, whenever we would go there for a coffee, the espresso was obtained from an automatic machine instead, the shots allowed to go sour before the soy milk was added, and the drinks were served in paper cups. Paper cups? Well, I suppose the quality of the espresso drinks only deserved the paper cups, but it did seem rather cheap and tacky to me. The barista machine was, apparently, only for show. I did not have a great cruise on HAL. The service levels were really substandard, and the food was of poor quality, and extremely limited selection. I will go back to Princess, where I will be able to enjoy truly fine dining, and the personal service. Princess coffee bar staff know how to use a barista machine, too. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
The Jewel did not appear to have comfortable places to sit & read - a frequent activity of transatlantic cruisers. Even the library chairs were uncomfortable.  With the very cool , windy weather, lounging on the pool deck was not an ... Read More
The Jewel did not appear to have comfortable places to sit & read - a frequent activity of transatlantic cruisers. Even the library chairs were uncomfortable.  With the very cool , windy weather, lounging on the pool deck was not an option. The entertainment was good , as well as the food in Tsar's Palace(free) restaurant. Freestyle dining made it possible to catch the shows twice, which we usually did. The first production show, Band on the Run had excellent singing & dancing. The 2nd production show had a country music format. The 3rd was entitled Cirque du Soleil & included breathtaking gymnastic feats. The cast did a fantastic job on all 3 shows. We thoroughly enjoyed The Skinny German Juggle Boy, who not only was a tremendous juggler, but also VERY Witty & amusing. The Hypnotist was entertaining , as well as informative. The comedian was funny & incorporated the audience into his act.  The soprano, Jennifer Fair, had a well trained voice & pleasing personality. The ship's crew presented their talent as one of the shows.  The cabin stewards worked efficiently as a team & did the usual towel folding thing.  The lack of formally scheduled lecturers was a HUGE omission for a cruise with so very many sea days.  At least Rich, the cruise director, responded to our disappointment by rounding up a few passengers to give lectures by the 3rd sea day. They were well attended attesting to the need for intellectual stimulation in addition to the "beer University" and other similar type activities.Embarkation was somewhat slow compared to other cruise lines, especially COSTA. Debarkation, on the other hand, was well done.The incessant hawking of "CRACKERS" - pull tabs, was annoying & done 15 mins. before each show in the Stardust Theatre. Bingo was another rip off, with handsets selling for $ 49 & up for a prize of $100 to start with. There did not seem to be many folks paying extra money for the specialty restaurants which probably was a reflection of the value seeking consumers who paid a very reasonable price for this cruise.We have been cruising for many years on over 45 cruises on the popular cruiselines and will have second thoughts about choosing Norwegian again. Not having to dress formally was a plus , but not having comfortable seating & incessant quests for the passenger to pay extra for so many activities was a definite minus. Shore excursions were expensive & there was so little time in the Azores & Vigo that going too far afield on your own was prohibitive.  More time should have been allotted to these two ports as we were near the final port of Dover many hours before the official docking time of 5 AM.For those within driving distance of Miami , staying at a nearby motel, such as the RED ROOF INN or Las Quintas proved to be a good value .  They offered parking for up to 14 days @ $4 per night & a reasonable room rate ($79).  Included was a free ride to the port offered at 1 PM and a shuttle from the airport every half hour, also , at no charge. They also offer "breakfast" of coffee,tea, juice, bagels & individually wrapped danish.NCL had no control over the weather , however, the ship was rocky only a few minutes out of Miami- most unusual . Due to the windy weather, the first 3 or 4 days were also rocky requiring meclizine for some of us.In conclusion, there were positives & negatives on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
This was a honeymoon cruise.  I am 28 and my wife 27.  Having never cruised before, I picked this transatlantic crossing because of its great itinerary and ability to relax during multiple days at sea.  I  booked my penthouse suite on ... Read More
This was a honeymoon cruise.  I am 28 and my wife 27.  Having never cruised before, I picked this transatlantic crossing because of its great itinerary and ability to relax during multiple days at sea.  I  booked my penthouse suite on deck 9 almost a year prior to the cruise.  I read multiple conflicting reviews about the Gem and NCL in general.  Being rather easy going people, my wife and I decided to give the cruise a try.  We are certainly not affected by minor nuisances and felt we could deal with any little issues, not allowing them to ruin the trip for us.  After all, 8 great ports sounded stupendous.Embarkation at the Manhattan cruise terminal was easy.  We arrived at 11 am, left our bags with the loading area attendant, and were quickly ushered to the check-in counter.  The VIP area was basically a holding area away from the other 2,400 or so passengers on the ship.  We thought the snacks provided were thoughtful and weren't very put off by the fact that they weren't particularly tasty.  We had no idea how many other bad food items we would have during this cruise.At 12:40, the concierge (Alex), started calling groups to be escorted onto the ship by their different butlers.  Ours was Andrew, and he was very nice.  We were lucky to meet another nice honeymoon couple that were in the suite right next to ours!  Andrew took us to our suite and gave us the rundown on the different channels, the portable phone that worked all over the ship, how to contact key people, etc.  He then gave us some free time to get comfortable while our bags were delivered (at around 5 pm we got all 3).  We were so pleased to find that we had a huge balcony right at the bow of the ship.  I had researched it, but never imagined the balcony was so big.  We then met up with our new fellow honeymooners and went the Cagney's steakhouse for a VIP-only lunch.  Everyone had the 10 ounce steak and I had the fish.  They were good, but not particularly stupendous.  This was now 2 mediocre meals in 3 hours time!  We left port at 4 pm and truly enjoyed the view of the city from our balcony.  Complimentary bubbly was included, which we enjoyed greatly.We had 5 days at sea at the beginning of the cruise, which proved to be a great time to make up for all the sleep we've lost during our regular busy lives. It was too cold and windy to really spend time on our balcony or on any deck, so we mostly stayed indoors.  Seas were relatively calm, and my motion sickness-prone wife had no problems the entire cruise.  Being suite guests, we had a selection of 100 DVD's to choose from, which were delivered by Andrew as needed.  We enjoyed relaxing in our very comfortable bed, just watching movies or visiting with our new found friends.  Something we did find bothersome was the frequent announcements made on the overhead PA system, which were easily heard inside staterooms from the hall.  These tended to interrupt our sleep early in the day, but weren't truly an issue.  Our suite was very comfortable for 2 people.  We had a full-size tub, a nice closet with hangers, a nice table with 4 chairs, a CD/DVD player, a loveseat, and seating for 7 people on the balcony.  Our only issue with our suite was the strong odor of smoke.  We are not smokers and were really put off by it.  Our steward, Felipe, sprayed some chemical all around the room, which merely masked the odor for a few hours.  We couldn't understand how smoking was permitted inside staterooms.  After a while, we got used to the odor.We signed up for a "spa pass" that was valid the entire trip, for $330 for the both of us.  This gave us access to individual whirlpool tubs, steam room, sauna, a large unisex hydrotherapy pool, and an average size jacuzzi tub.  With the temperature in the 50's and 60's most of the cruise, the outside pools weren't really an option, so it was nice to have the spa pass.  We used it almost every day.  We used the gym a few times.  They had all the latest machines available, with individual TV screens.The ship, in general, is very attractive.  There are lots of public areas to keep your interest.  There are lots of colors and bold designs, and we enjoyed the decor immensely.  It seemed like you could always find something new to admire on the ship.  This being a transatlantic crossing, we knew it would be an older crowd.  This simply meant that the trendy areas, such as the Bliss Ultra Lounge, were all but deserted the entire cruise.  Shore excursions/ports:We had 8 ports: Ponta Delgada (Azure islands), Lisbon, Cadiz(Seville), Malaga(Granada), Ajaccio(Corsica), Civitavecchia(Rome), Livorno(Florence, Pisa), Cannes(Monaco, Monte Carlo).  We took shore excursions in 7 of 8 ports.  We didn't take one in Ajaccio (I knew from reviews that there wasn't enough to see for a shore excursion, so we took a little sightseeing train available 2 blocks from the terminal).  We could have done without an excursion in Cadiz, as there is lots to see right in town.  We booked all the excursions through NCL, as we like to play it safe, trying to avoid independent tour operators.  Once we hit Ponta Delgada, getting lots of sleep was over.  We had to be up early in almost every port to be herded onto buses for the excursions.  Be aware that almost every major excursion requires an hour and a half bus ride to the location (e.g. Granada, Rome, Florence, Pisa, etc.)  We didn't mind it, as the sightseeing was nice.  Every tour guide was excellent, except for one in Cadiz that seemed to barely speak English.  We didn't know how she was allowed to conduct the tour.  Fortunately, the tour was mostly a view of the countryside, so we didn't mind it too much.  Overall, our excursions were great.Food:I could probably write a small book about our dining experience on the ship.  There are 2 main dining rooms open for dinner (Grand Pacific and Magenta) and one for lunch (Grand Pacific).  The buffet (Garden Cafe) is open all three meals.  The Blue Lagoon is a table service restaurant that was open 24 hrs. a day with a very limited menu (no fee required).  For suite guests, Cagney's Steakhouse has breakfast and lunch available.  There are several specialty restaurants, which all charge a fee of $10 to $25 per person.  In addition to the fee, some restaurants charge an additional fee for specialty items like lobster.  We found these fees to be excessive, surely a terrible value for what you received.  This being a "Freestyle" ship, the dress code was lax.  You could wear just about anything to eat, except all table service restaurants required pants and Grand Pacific did not allow jeans after 5:30.  Being casual people, we enjoyed the dress code.  80% of the food on the ship was mediocre.  10% was excellent, and 10% was not fit for human consumption.  They couldn't even get simple food items right.  The room service chocolate cake and brownie were the worst I've ever had.  My elementary school cafeteria was a gourmet eatery, compared to the room service menu items we had.  The bread in my club sandwich was stale/dry.  My wife had a chicken noodle soup that was simply some broth with a single noodle and piece of chicken.  We felt guilty leaving food uneaten, but we simply couldn't' stomach so many items we had.  The buffet was very average, but the bad food was only made worse by the fact that you could only find a table if you got there as soon as they opened.  After a while, we came to realize that people would send a single person to sit at a table before food was available, just so that they could have a place to sit.  Often times, there would be only 1 or 2 people sitting at a table that could hold many more.  One woman actually refused for my wife and I to sit at an 8 person table with her and her husband.  The nerve of some people!  Often times, we noticed single people simply reading a book at a table during peak eating times.  They really need a person to facilitate this area to move it along better.  The worst meal we had was at the italian restaurant (La Cucina) with a $10 cover per person.  Just about every item we had seemed like it was from a TV dinner box, and not a very good brand at that.  I had lobster ravioli which tasted like the only part of the lobster it contained was the shell.  Simply awful and fishy tasting, and I love seafood!  The maitre'd admitted that they bought the ravioli pre-made from Sysco.  This was the only place we complained, and they only comped half of our fees.  Incredible!  Le Bistro (French) was quite good.  I had a wonderful beef tenderloin, and my wife had the lamb, which was also delicious.  Tequilas (Tex-Mex) was quite good.  Cagney's steakhouse was quite average, with the lobster certainly not worth the extra fee on top of the cover.  The Teppanyaki was good (akin to Benihana).  Orchid garden (Asian fusion) was average to poor.  They couldn't get even the basics (chicken lo mein) right.  I had a lobster which tasted like it was cooked in fish head stew.  Awful!  The highlight of the food scene on the ship was the sushi restaurant.  The sushi was absolutely delicious!  We enjoyed sitting at the sushi bar and talking to the chef, John.  It was a great value, but was nearly deserted at all times, even at peak hours.  Most specially restaurants were half empty, but they never offered an incentive, such as half-price or buy one/get one.  Also, service at the table service restaurants was spotty at best.  Once we waited 20 minutes after sitting to have someone greet us.  Often, servers would forget to bring you something you ordered.  Drinks were not refilled, and sometimes appetizers and entrees would come out all at the same time.  I could go on and on about the food, but suffice it to say that it was simply a disappointment.  Without a doubt, food is the one area that will keep us from cruising with NCL again.Disembarkation was a bit confusing at first, but it actually worked quite well.  If NCL booked your flight back home, they delivered luggage tags to your cabin the night before disembarkation.  They were color coded, in relation to the time you needed to be of the ship to make your flight on time.  We received VIP tags, which didn't seem to serve any purpose.  You still had to carry your own luggage to the transfer bus.  We were really upset at the airport.  NCL booked our travel, so the airline had NCL's contact information instead of ours.  This was an issue, as our flight was changed while we were on the cruise, putting us home 4 hours later than we were supposed to be.  NCL should have communicated the change to us.  We only found out after waiting in line at the airport for an hour and having the agent tell us that our reservation was cancelled!  I then had to wait in a second line for a ticket agent to clarify the mix up.  Very frustrating.  We then had a 5 hour layover in Madrid, while waiting for our flight to Miami.All in all, we greatly enjoyed the physical ship.  The itinerary was excellent, if not exhausting, but we enjoyed seeing so many different things.  Food quality and service really need to be examined on this ship.  Were it not for these glaring flaws, we would likely cruise on NCL again.  We will definitely try another cruiseline in the future. 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Sail Date April 2009
I'm a 29yr old male who chose this cruise and brought my girlfriend as well as went with another couple of the same age.  The price was right (~$750pp) for a balcony which was then upgraded to a mini-suite due to additional ... Read More
I'm a 29yr old male who chose this cruise and brought my girlfriend as well as went with another couple of the same age.  The price was right (~$750pp) for a balcony which was then upgraded to a mini-suite due to additional reductions in price.  No matter what is said below - you can not beat the pricing of this cruise; inside cabins went for as low as $339pp.I booked online and while they were easy to get a hold of, very accommodating and gave better pricing than NCL themselves - I found their service not to be forthcoming with information and when they did information, it was not always correct.  One example would be that I asked which airport was closest to our disembarkation port of Dover, England.  I was told Heathrow which is not true - Gatwick is 30 minutes closer but I did not find that out until I was on the ship (after I had already booked my return flight home).  They were also unable to tell me when we would be getting off the ship in Dover and NCL would not talk to me because I had booked online.  I had to guess when to book my flight and ended up in a bit of a time crunch when heading to the airport.Now on to the cruise.  Getting onto the ship was relatively painless since we did receive some special treatment due to having a mini-suite.  However - NCL's efficiency at routing lines and placing signage is very poor.  For example - they had two lines going into the port, both of which needed to go through metal detectors.  When you got to the end of the lines, there were three metal detectors off to the left and only one off to the right.  The guy directing the lines would let three people from the line on the left go over to the three metal detectors on that side and only one person from the right line go over to the metal detector over on the right.  This resulted in the line on the left moving 3x as fast as the line on the right.  Would it not make more sense to simply alternate the lines and send two people at a time from each line to occupy all four metal detectors instead of only allowing people from the left line head over to the three metal detectors on the left while only letting people from the line on the right go over to the metal detector on the right?  Such a simple concept but the guy directing traffic simply smiled at me when I suggested this to him and continued to allow the left line move 3x as fast.I was very surprised at all the additional fees on the cruise.  I had not cruised with NCL in the past, only Carnival.  Some of these fees included $12/day for gratuities for cabin stewards and waitstaff and $7/day for soda.  Personally I prefer a price with everything included however, I did not find out these fees until well after I had already purchased my tickets for the cruise.  I was also under the impression there were laundry facilities on the ship which were available to guests.  This was not the case - we could only have our laundry cleaned if we paid for a service.  This was a bit upsetting because something as simple as a white undershirt would cost $5 to have washed while it cost me less than that to purchase in the first place.Due to being a transatlantic cruise, we had a couple of rough days at sea  but it was not too bad.  However, we always had high winds so the pool deck was barren.  The pools were closed on several days and very few people were out on the deck, in general.  This led to my group paying close attention to the events available on board.  Unfortunately we could only endure trivia, bingo, social cards, etc so many times.  I would say we ended up spending most of out time in the casino.  I did well in the casino but not everyone in my group had the same good fortune.  However, none of use had a good experience in dealing with the dealers.  The dealers were very impersonable and showed no consideration for their players.  From neither smiling nor conversing to not saying "Thank you" when players gave them tips - the dealers proved to the the least friendly staff on the entire ship.  The single best casino employee was a guy named "Louren" who was a "Slot Attendant."  He remembered names, went out of his way to build rapport with guests and generally had a pleasant demeanor.  Also - be wary of the progressive blackjack tournament.  They raked in over $2,000 across 11 days and only paid $500 to the winner.  2nd-6th place received a Tshirt and 2nd & 3rd received a bottle of champagne which I felt was insufficient considering the money they had pulled in.Some bartenders were "ok" while other bartenders were very unaccommodating.  The waitstaff was decent in the main dining rooms but did not compare to the quality of the waitstaff in the majority of restaurants that required a cover charge.  The absolute best staff/crew on the entire ship were the cabin stewards.  Not just mine but the stewards for my friends as well proved to be extremely accommodating and excellent at making guests feel at home.The entertainment was decent.  From a comedian, to hypnotist, to dancers - the big show each night had something to offer.  However - the best attraction was the "Skinny German Juggle Boy."  This guy was hysterical and extremely entertaining.  He ended up doing two shows which were different from each other and both were worth attending.I preferred the food setup better on Carnival.  While Carnival may set dinner times, they also offer a lot more options all day and late at night than NCL's alleged "freestyle" cruising.  The buffet was almost exactly the same day after day and the food quality in the dining rooms was sub-par on most nights.  Another aspect of this cruise to be careful of is the demographic.  I believe I only ran into ONE unpleasant person so everyone was friendly and happy to converse.  However, this was a cruise for retirees and other people in that age range.  While I thought the low price would attract a younger crowd - it turns out this cruise was quite the opposite.  I heard somewhere that the average age on the ship was 57 but I thought it was actually higher than that.  This resulted in very early ending nights.  The casino would close around midnight because of a lack of players and while there was one lounge scheduled to have events as late at 11:30pm, almost nobody showed up.  I am more of a night out so we spent many late nights awake in our cabin watching movies.  By the way - the movie selection offered on television was fantastic.On to our ports of call - we only had three including Dover, England where we had to get off of our ship.  This was a  minimal # of ports considering the length of the cruise but certainly acceptable considering the price.  However, we only spent 5 hours at the first point & 7 hours at the 2nd port but we got off the boat at 7am when there was nothing to see and had to be back on in the very early afternoon.  This was okay in the Azores islands but we stopped in Vigo, Spain on a Sunday so it was not until it was almost time to get back on the ship that any stores or restaurants actually opened.  I highly recommend avoiding a cruise that arrives in port in the morning, while only staying for a few hours on a Sunday.  The shore excursions were not very enticing although I did hear mediocre feedback from those who did sign up for them.One last item to note is that we were required to go through the immigration process a day or two prior to actually disembarking from the ship.  If you followed the schedule provided, you had to wait in line from 45min to 1.5 hours.  If you simply waited until the end of the day, there was virtually no line at all and you could breeze through.  Regardless - this was a MUCH better experience than having to go through the immigration line during your actual disembarkation.Overall the price for the length of the cruise was unbeatable but the quality of the cruise was sub-par.  This is great for anyone who is looking to do a long cruise on a budget and does not require luxuries such as drinking soda or eating good food.  Also keep in mind the age demographic - older folks know this type of cruise attracts and older crowd which is great but if you are looking for a younger crowd to stay up with you late at night - this is not the cruise for you.  Good luck and happy cruising. 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Sail Date April 2009
This was a repositioning cruise that left Ft. Lauderdale on April 19th and ended in Rome, Italy on May 4, 2009 on the Celebrity Solstice. This was our third cruise on Celebrity, most of our dozen cruises have been on Princess and ... Read More
This was a repositioning cruise that left Ft. Lauderdale on April 19th and ended in Rome, Italy on May 4, 2009 on the Celebrity Solstice. This was our third cruise on Celebrity, most of our dozen cruises have been on Princess and NCL ships. We found the Solstice to be modern and clean and,certainly, in its physical appearance, a very nicely arranged ship with the public rooms very attractive. However, the cruise overall was disappointing; after a few days at sea, it really became quite boring. There were a lack of activities on the days at sea, and considering that the cruise began with five straight days at sea, this lead to boredom as far as we were concerned. There was a lack of interesting lectures and most of the ship's activities at sea consisted of bingo and trivia games. Movies were shown at inconvenient times and speakers, too few in number and variety, were scheduled also at inconvenient times and in rooms that were frequently too small and noisy.The food selection for dinner was also disappointing. Unless you went to the scheduled dining room dinners, there was really little alternative dining available. The specialty restaurants, three in number, was all tried by us for dinner,and they were very good, but at forty and fifty dollars a couple for dinner, could not be a daily alternative. The dinner buffet was sorely lacking in selection; having the same food every evening. It should be noted that distinguished from the breakfast and lunch buffets, the dinner buffet was reduced in both the selection and amount of food available. The Ocean View Buffet room was only partly utilized for dinner, with about half of the food stations being completely empty.We think that the problem with Celebrity, in general, is that their cruises are meant for people who like schedules and little flexibility. We are sure that many of the passengers who like traditional scheduled dinners, with few alternative dining choices available, were very happy with the dining on the Celebrity Solstice. Likewise, people who like their bingo and trivia games were probably also happy with the ship's daily activity schedule. However, for people like ourselves, who prefer a more flexible, independent cruise, this ship was lacking in choices,specifically the variety of food and activities. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Norwegian Sun Repositioning Cruise LA to Vancouver BC - May, 2009 A group of friends and family joined the Norwegian Sun for the three night repositioning cruise from LA to Vancouver BC.  Below are some thoughts on the ship, and on ... Read More
Norwegian Sun Repositioning Cruise LA to Vancouver BC - May, 2009 A group of friends and family joined the Norwegian Sun for the three night repositioning cruise from LA to Vancouver BC.  Below are some thoughts on the ship, and on repositioning cruises. EMBARKATIONBecause of the swine flu scare it took longer than normal to embark.  We arrived at 11:55 and were not on board till 2:10 PM.  This would have been OK, if we had been given better information about the reasons, and also better direction when we were in the boarding area.  Direction in the boarding area consisted of one security guard yelling at people to stay back from the boarding line until your group number was called.  The few times he used the public address system he bellowed into it.  An NCL representative could have given the directions, and would likely have done so with more grace and charm. NORWEGIAN SUN - THE SHIPWe had previously taken the same journey aboard the Norwegian Star, so it was fun to compare the two ships.  The Sun is a smaller ship, which gave us more of a "homey" feeling, and made it easy to find our way around.  The downside is that there are fewer venues, so there is less variety.  The shopping on board was also more limited.  The ship was clean, comfortable and well maintained.  The cabin was nice, standard sized (balcony on the Fjord deck).  Bathroom was smaller than I've experienced in other ships, but was very efficiently laid out with an innovate circular design.  Certainly enough room to do everything that was needed. ENTERTAINMENTThis was probably the best aspect of the trip for me (apart from just being at sea!).  The Jean Ann Ryan Company was very good, with a Cirque de Soleil style show.  The comedian was funny, thinking well on his feet. The magician was also very good. Two things which could have done with improvement were the Martini "lesson" at "NCL U" where the staff member was difficult to understand, and the staff seemed unprepared for the number of people who turned up.  A passenger, who had taken the same "course" on board another ship said they did a better job, and had actually been able to mix the drinks themselves and so could learn more. The other demonstration was the towel folding, which was fun but again the staff member was difficult to understand. FOOD The food was very nice.  If you like to have a sit-down lunch when you first board, then check the various full service restaurants.  I was told by one crew member that no full service restaurant was available, but walked to Seven Seas and found they were serving lunch.   Similarly, if you like a full service breakfast check around.  On our trip they were serving full service breakfasts in the restaurants.  However, you had to check the daily paper, since they would direct you to a different restaurant if you were not in the one which was assigned to your cabin. STAFFStaff were very friendly, and dealt promptly with problems and concerns.  We noted that a lot of new staff came on board for our trip, and they were not fully up and running on how things worked.  We wondered if this partly due to this being a repositioning cruise.  Also, restaurants and housekeeping seemed to be short-staffed at times.  However, the staff's can do attitude made up for a lot. One thing which we appreciated was that the number of announcements over the public address system was limited.  The Captain spoke once a day (around 10:00 AM), and the Cruise Director made some announcements, which were not piped into the private cabin areas, which we very much appreciated. SERVICEService at times was sporadic.  For housekeeping, errors were made in each of the four cabins which we had.  Examples include: coffee makers weren't present, informational binders were missing, mattress toppers were not on the bed despite being requested, soap wasn't provided (despite two requests).  One cabin was not made up till about 3:00 PM, and the cabin steward apologized saying that his partner was at training that day. One complaint often heard is that you are continuously pressed to buy drinks on the mass market ships.  We actually found that this wasn't the case, except for the evenings in the Dazzles Nightclub. One notably poor area of service was the East meets West Steakhouse, where other diners were getting up to try and get the servers' attention.  The food there was wonderful however. FINAL THOUGHTS & REPO CRUISESDespite the issues raised above, we enjoyed our three nights aboard.  My cabin was a balcony on the Fjord deck (Deck 9) which was very quiet.  This deck is sandwiched between two other accommodations decks, which I try for, since I believe it makes for a quieter cabin.  Fellow Cruisers - A mixture of people and ages.  A think the destination, lack of port calls, and cooler weather made for a mellower crowd.  Still fun, and folks were having fun, but it was not a "booze cruise," which we appreciated. We also very much liked that there was no enforced "formal night" aboard.  Norwegian Cruise Lines' "Freestyle" cruising ethic means that you can dress formally if you wish to, but it is definitely not required.  NCL is The repositioning (repo) cruises make for a nice short break, and are a good way to try cruising if you just want to get taste.  Be advised that these types of cruises do not focus as much on port calls. Our trip did not have any intermediate stops, so we were at sea from Thursday evening till Sunday morning.  Also, some aspects (such as midnight chocolate buffet) which you might get on a longer cruise, are often not provided. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
For years when asked by friends - which cruise line should we sail on? - I answered Celebrity, which is the only cruise line I sail on.  olstice Transatlantic to Rome. The ship was beautiful, the rooms good size, transfers to Rome, ... Read More
For years when asked by friends - which cruise line should we sail on? - I answered Celebrity, which is the only cruise line I sail on.  olstice Transatlantic to Rome. The ship was beautiful, the rooms good size, transfers to Rome, embarkation and disembarkation flawless and the entertainment was above average. So much for the pleasantries.  The dining room experience was terrible.  Food was bland, and lukewarm, not up to the quality of Celebrity.  The menu had Kobe meatloaf one night and spaghetti and meatballs another night at "dinner".  Food was either rare or well done when ordered medium.  Waiters no longer provide fresh ground pepper and the sour cream was offered fifteen minutes after the baked potatoes were delivered.  I tried to get coffee with the meal but it was too hard.   The waiters seemed scared of the matre'd staff.  The elegant tea looked beautiful but service was so poor you couldn't enjoy it. Sanitation needs work; dishes and silverware were at times soiled.  One morning I watched as the buffet workers moved a cart of clean  bowls from the dishwashing area to the buffet.  One bowl fell off and landed upside down.  The worker put the bowl back with the clean and continued on, unsat! The islands in the cafe buffet were great, no long lines.  The lack of trays made for multiple trips where you must get drinks and salad or soup before the entrEe or the food would be cold.  Food was seldom hot due to electric heaters vice the old steam tables.   Room service was horrendous.  The first order didn't show up.  I called and they acknowledged they had the order and would deliver it, fifteen minutes late.  The second time, all the food was cold, eggs, hash browns, and french toast.  Two nights we had friends join us in the evening and I ordered snacks and drinks for four.  Each time they brought an order for two, two glasses and two napkins with silverware. The theater's rows are too tight.  Seats were broken, two in one night and the lack of tables is a step down.  The art auction area is too small and the auction company personnel were not friendly - go back to Park West! The consignee was also unfriendly and useless.  The ship refused to honor the no saving of chairs by the pools.  Chairs would sit for hours with a shirt or book on them but no one using them. Get rid of the grass, people looked at it once and never went back. The glass show was excellent. The timing of Elite members events i.e. (senior officer's party) were normally in the morning, 11:15 A.M.  This is too early, especially when losing an hour most days. We haven't decided if we will sail on Celebrity again.  Maybe once the Soltice bad taste is out of our mouths.    Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
As we boarded at F.L.on 23rd April 2009,we were still "virgin"cruisers!meaning to say we were ignorant of what went on on arrival aboard.Thus to our surprise of the LIRICA about a late with the tranfer from Miami we saw some ... Read More
As we boarded at F.L.on 23rd April 2009,we were still "virgin"cruisers!meaning to say we were ignorant of what went on on arrival aboard.Thus to our surprise of the LIRICA about a late with the tranfer from Miami we saw some passengers doing the boat drill at about 17.15hrs;Having been ushered to our cabin by a polite steward-then,but as time went on waiting for our baggage the steward kept pressing whether we were going to dinner-not thinking of the significance of it at the time;After the wife had put most of the contents of the baggages we eventually arrived at the restaraunt and encountered a barrage of remarks from waiters and Maitre de that were we late!After pleading with them of our ignorance of the strickness of the dining timings rules-ON OUR FIRST DAY OF THE CRUISE he relented and actually allowed us to sit down but only for this time.My point it appeared that the cruise ship crew and officers assume that one has been on a cruise before.At no point was a constructive level of information asking if one a is a "virgin" cruiser they would be able to assist in procedure etc;Our second gripe was  that we was given to believe that is was ocean voyage and only partial Caribbean therefore assumed as the ship was Italian owned that Euros would be dominant currency and only Puerto Rico would be in Dollars for excursions and the remainder ports in Euros as Martinique was French and dealt in Euros.But no ALL excursions including Madeira,Portugal,Spain and France plus Dover were in DOLLARS.We were given to believe that the time of five days at sea after Martinique would be filled when NOT TO MISS ENTERTAINMENT!-Not so,by the time then third day arrived my wife and I saw the same entertainers at the Broadway theatre in different guises and giving the similar themes of show titles.The ship was absolutely spotless every day and night we even saw a rather tired but polite worker polishing one of the many stairs at 11.30 at night!We found that the crew above the waiters and other lowly workers seem to think they were above our station and wasn't prepared to consider and compramise any our queries.Our last gripe was the day of the  disembarkation at Dover;we were herded into the Broadway Theatre-rather the corridors leading to it for over an hour so that the British customs would assess our documents-then a further 45 minutes to get off the ship.No crew were at hand to assist but only aftera near riot erupted with some disabled passenegers unable to get out of lifts.Meals were average-only that our waiters were helpful and guided through most complicated menus we ever imagined after pointing out of our "virginity"!We think that the 15% charge on at the bars for drinks paid the CAPTAIN'S COCKTAIL EVENINGS twice on TWO evenings during the voyage.Ouir last gripe was that we had to wait for 8 hours at Heathrow for our a RETURN  flight to Manchesteralthough having asked the T.A.to ask why on our behalf they were told as it was on a Transatlantic Voyage we could encounter some kind delay!Absolute rubbish-There already a excursion list given for Dover giving options on passengers tranfering to Heathrow on flights after 5.30pm for an excursion to London or Canterbury on would be dropped off at Heathrow at a cost of 93 dollars!But we were not put off cruising in the near future we like it but not with MSC ever-space does not allow us to go further in our criticism. All the ports we visited were superbly situated and suited us greatly excepting Le Havre which is not on  the port choice-it was quite a walk from the terminal to the City-and were offered free travel by the city council-it was on a Friday and it was day of "Bank" holiday and the streets were virtually deserted and very few if any shop open! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Veranda Cabin on the 8th deck. Captains Club member There is a problem with the air conditioning on the ship. Either that or they are cutting the AC use to save money. The cabin area hallways are hot. I even thought the AC was shut down in ... Read More
Veranda Cabin on the 8th deck. Captains Club member There is a problem with the air conditioning on the ship. Either that or they are cutting the AC use to save money. The cabin area hallways are hot. I even thought the AC was shut down in the middle of the night. Everyone I spoke to woke up in the night, hot and thirsty. The dining room was hot, the buffet area hot, and most public areas were warm. The hot water is having a problem and according to one of the staff they have no idea what is the problem. Hot water disappears for days and then comes on. Hot in the sink and cold in the shower! Guest relations said they would send a plumber. On deck 2, 3, Constellation Lounge on 11, and the spa area had terrible sewage smells. Bring your own hair dryer if you can't use the vacuum hose type the ship provides. Our preboard package said - boarding at 2pm. We met people in our hotel in Santiago and they said we could get on at 1pm. In fact our van (travelling with another couple) got us to the pier, and we were on the ship at 12:30. We went right over to Guest Relations to ask about upgrade availability. Mr. Gomez - "the ship is full." AT 4:00 my husbands went back to GR to inquire about missing luggage and another GR person was telling another passenger - yes, there are upgrades, but now they are all taken - would you like to be on the wait list? We were #8. The one time , we had a chance because we were early it got screwed up! I wrote a note to the head of GR and never heard back during our entire cruise! You think they care. Cabin is very comfortable - good mattress and nice sheets, duvet and pillows. Our soap and toiletries not replenished automatically. Public address system is not good - I don't know if it is technical problem or person using the system. It is not loud enough. Hard to hear and understand announcements and the lecturer as we were going through the canal. The woman I was standing with as we went through the 1st locks even called the bridge to see if the PA could be made louder. There is lots of space in the public areas, we never felt crowded. Lounges are decorated with artificial flowers, a bit tacky, all our ports had great fresh flowers for sale. One sad sprig of bloom at dinner and it stayed there until it was dead. This is a another way to cut expenses. Another very big concern - the lifeboat drill held just after we sailed was a disaster. We all meet in the Rendez-Vous Lounge - every chair taken and standing room only. The staff split the gathering up and then we filed outside - no order, passengers filling the doorways and not moving, no one really sure if they should go out this or that door - not assigned to a specific numbered life boat, chaos and lots of chatter. I had not confidence is this group running as area. Disembarkation was also a fiasco. We assembled in the theater for 8:30 call. When we finally got off the ship our luggage was all alone, our tag color must have been called before the allotted time. The crew member in charge never reviewed the previously called colors just in case you came late. We were on time and sat until 10:30 - all other tag colors not called. And breakfast on our last morning was terrible - no yogurt, no butter, no fruit , no mugs, paper napkins, little silverware, empty coffee pots......I think someone forgot to order supplies. Breakfast and lunch buffet - No imagination, after the first few days it is same old, same. There are lots to eat, many choices, but there is poor layout and presentation. There is no presentation, just bowls plopped into ice, some Chinese lanterns and other items just in piles. Salad bar has minimal choices and the location is in the middle of hot food. Plates for the salad are hot, in fact some days you can't get a plate, big or small, or even a bowl for soup or cereal. Grab a mug as soon as you see it, they are scarcer than hens teeth. Aqua cafe was a nice change along with the dining room. Cafe was less salty and fresher tasting. Upholstered chairs in the buffet area are dirty and worn. Sitting area is tight and difficult to move around during peak eating hours. Ice cream bar is open all day and is a nice touch. Choices change each day and you can pick toppings and candy. But again, the bowls are hot right from the dishwasher! Dining room - we had the late sitting, and did not realize it was for 8:45. We tried this time for the first week, but changed to the earlier 6:30 seating. If you really like something on the menu, pre-order it for the next evening. You can even get a peak on the next evenings menu. The last formal night, with the seafood medley (tough rock lobster, couple shrimp and scallops) might be as good as it gets. Forget dessert - save the calories - have ice cream. Both waiters and helpers were attentive and remembered our preferences. Food is very salty. Other women I met were complaining about swollen hands, couldn't get there rings off, ankles swollen also. I think this was from the salt. Salads are meager with warm, wilted lettuce. (order a double) most appetizers are small, a bite or two. Rib lamb chops are 3 thin ones, double up on this entree. Steak on the items available every day is a good size, a bit tough. Our waiter told us all meat and fish, in fact every thing is frozen. Fruit, don't think because you are going to places that have great fruit the ship will have it. 14 days of watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe - some days pineapple and soft grapes. All the berries are stewed, soft overripe whole kiwis and spoiled plums. Never saw a mango or papaya or avocado. Room service - only what is on the television menu. They will not make any concessions. What you see if what is available. One evening I was not feeling 100% so I ordered soup (2 choices - chicken or New England clam chowder) and asked for a roll with the soup. "Rolls are only available at breakfast." The menu is sparse for breakfast. I realize they are feeding 2000 passengers, but the food is not good. If it was a restaurant, we would not go back. Cova Cafe and Tea Room - little snacks at different times - nice idea - not bad little sandwiches, cookies. The have lovely china tea pots and dishes. The pot holds at least 4 cups of tea. The food is free but the drinks are extra. With all this "tea room" setting, why can't they make a proper cup of tea. Waiter brings the teapot filled with water, cup and saucer and then comes back with 1 tea bag for this 4 cup pot. No heating the pot, not steeping the tea, and the pot needs more bags. Same at dinner -water then 5 minutes later the tea bag. There is music in this venue, very nice guitarist or string quartet or trio. It is a nice place to sit and listen to the music, if the other guests would not chatter or the help talking to each other. The staff lacks training - they are only trained to push up the bill. The service is good, efficient; it is just not FINE service. Shopping arcade - Coach store is full price, you only save sales tax. Bijoux Ternier is from airports - costume jewelry and evening bags - if you left someone home you may be able to get it here, not great. Cosmetic store is the same one from the outlets here in the US "The Company Store" again you only save sales tax, no bargains. Liquor is the best buy. I would have liked to have bought "Panama Canal" tee shirts on the ship, but they only had petite and small. Poor planning again. Just before the end of the cruise they had a laundry special, fill the bag for $29. I used the laundry before, and was satisfied. But this bag, said no ironing, I thought it was for dry cleaning, but they mean no ironing for all the laundry and they would not honor the miserable 10% off coupon from the Captains Club, there were no exceptions listed on this offer in the daily newsletter or on the coupon. Thankfully we had a veranda. Every morning, no matter how early I went to pool area, lounges were saved. The staff never enforced the "no saving chairs" policy during the entire cruise. During mealtimes quests put tables together in the seating area to play cards. Men used the dining tables in the whirlpool area (quiet zone) for a dice or tile game - loud cheering, cursing, security was called but nothing was done. Don't get me wrong. The trip was great. The canal was great and the small ports of Manta and Arica were also great. Lectures were good and info about ports was also very good. We met great people from Canada and Florida. Our ship had a large number of Europeans from Germany and some from England who did a back to back. Some of these guests were loud and obnoxious, while others were charming and gracious. TIP: For transfer from the airport to our hotel in Santiago on Friday, and then transfer from hotel to pier on Sunday for 4 people with lots of luggage in an AC van was $221 total - reservations made online with Santiago Adventures - check out website. They were on time and had a bit of a tour while driving to the hotel. TIP: Booked Intercontinental Santiago online - prepaid, guaranteed - $150 a night. Great hotel located in a great area, lots of local restaurants in walking distance and OK Market around the corner for water and snacks. Breakfast at Cafe Melba for great coffee and breakfast (5 minute walk - get address online). We booked this cruise because of the itinerary, dates and the price. I would have to have a very big incentive to cruise on Celebrity again. I do not know how they can keep a rating of 4, this cruise line has lost it glamour, prestige and class. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
We have just returned from 3 weeks on the Costa Classica sailing from Dubai to Singapore. It was a bit like the Curate's egg - good in parts. We have cruised with Costa before, but on a newer ship and we found the Classica very basic ... Read More
We have just returned from 3 weeks on the Costa Classica sailing from Dubai to Singapore. It was a bit like the Curate's egg - good in parts. We have cruised with Costa before, but on a newer ship and we found the Classica very basic and ferry-like (definitely not Italian-style!) and not really suited to expectations of modern cruising. The main plus points were the itinerary - fantastic (see more below) and we liked the evening entertainment (except for the few nights that they showed videos!). They had a good classical duo, two acrobats/aerialists, an illusionist, a ventriloquist, various singers, and excellent crew show and a couple of production shows, which were OK but a bit thin with just one singer, three male dancers (until one got injured and then there were just two!) and six female dancers. BUT - the air conditioning in our cabin, along with many others we heard of did not work properly, despite repeated complaints and efforts to repair it, which made for a very uncomfortable time indeed in such a warm climate. It was probably because it was an old ship, but apparently there have been problems with cabins in some areas for months and (since it wasn't fixed) these will doubtless continue as Classica does her Far Eastern itineraries. Some cabins on our level (Deck 4) got flooded - at least we escaped that! The food was generally poor, and I am not a fussy eater! The buffet was also totally inadequate and poorly designed, and overcrowding in the area was exacerbated by maintenance that shut one of the two exit areas for most of the cruise. There was also no food available after 9 pm apart from pizza on Deck 9 and room service (at a charge). Also no free tea, coffee and water after 9 pm, which is totally outrageous. The service in the restaurant was very poor and the food was badly presented and sometimes poorly cooked. Our waiter was the worst we have ever had (and since 'gratuities' are compulsory there is no opportunity to reflect that in your tipping!). His English was poor, he got orders wrong and then argued with you, then went off and argued with the assistant waiter, and some evenings was in a real strop, while other times he appeared to be high as a kite. The cost of drinks was prohibitive; we bought a package of wine and water and got a 20% discount with our Costa Club membership, but it was still a very high price for very indifferent wines. My husband also had one beer, costing EUR5.18 (including compulsory 15% service charge). The sun lounger issue was the worst I have ever seen. We went up on deck very early (cabin too hot!) and one morning at 6.20 there were 12 loungers already reserved in our favorite shady area, although they remained unoccupied for hours. By 7.30 you were lucky to get a lounger in a shady spot, although there were very few people actually in occupation! Guest Services, with a few notable exceptions, were pretty unhelpful, as they tend to be on Costa. We had a problem with the disappearance of my husband's spectacles (which I am putting in more detail in the Answers section). The English Speaking Host, who was Italian, was rude, aggressive, unhelpful and unreliable, although at least he made Guest Services look relatively good! The excursions were very expensive for what appeared to be pretty mundane trips. The port information for those looking after themselves was diabolical - the so-called maps had no scale, no indication of where the ship would be and one (Fujeirah) was actually incorrect. Any request for information once we left the Middle East was met with 'We have never been here before, we don't know'. Isn't it there job to find out if they don't know? Plus there was a port shuttle in a couple of places, but Costa didn't seem to know that, or if they did, didn't see the need to inform passengers!! Anyway, back to the destinations, which were the real highlight! We mainly did our own thing - and it is the first time we have taken no ship's excursions in all our cruising trips! DUBAI. We flew to Dubai for one night prior to embarkation. Having read on this site that you weren't allowed in your cabin until 8pm on the day of embarkation we booked an evening Desert Safari trip via the Internet and that was really good. By the time we got back at 9.30 pm we were able to embark immediately with no waiting. The next day we took a taxi back into the city to look at some of the museums and shopping areas that we missed the previous day. FUJEIRAH. Really not much to see here. Paid EUR6 each for a shuttle to a local shopping centre (one supermarket, a cafe, money changing and a few shops). We walked to the fort and museum from there, which wasn't too far, except that Costa's map was wrong! MUSCAT. Took a taxi tour with a Russian couple and the highlight was the Mosque (one of the biggest in the world). We also saw the royal palace, a fancy hotel, a couple of viewpoints and were dropped off at our request at the souk, which was within walking distance of the ship. MUMBAI. I have to say that Costa's organization of our immigration here was first class, with limited queuing, although how people managed to get that far without an Indian Visa I am not sure? The first day we walked to the Taj Mahal hotel for a drink, found an optician to make my husband a new pair of glasses (the English speaking host Nick was supposed to have found out about local opticians, but obviously hadn't and disappeared on a trip instead.). We then took the ferry to Elephanta Island, which we really enjoyed, came back and went the the Prince of Wales museum (which isn't called that anymore) and then had another drink at the Taj Mahal while waiting for the glasses to be ready. We then walked back to the ship. It was too late for our first sitting dinner, so we went to the buffet, which didn't open until 8 and then was overcrowded with people and not enough food or staff. The second day we took a taxi (driven by the very helpful Tony) to see the other bits we wanted like the Queen's Necklace, Ghandi's house, the hanging gardens, Dhobi Ghat, etc. An excellent trip. GOA. Filthy port, probably the worst I have ever seen. Bulk coal and brown stuff (that turned out to be sugar) were in great piles on the dock . It had rained and the mixture of water and what I presume was coal dust did not do much for our clothing. We got a taxi to a nearby beach and hired a boat to take us snorkeling, which was very enjoyable, even if visibility wasn't fantastic. THE MALDIVES. Beautiful! Tendered ashore and then avoided the expensive boat trips to tourist islands, took a $2 taxi ride (with a group of 6 Australians) to the other side of the island and took a ferry (USD1 for four people one way) to a local island. As it was a local beach, we had to cover shoulders and thighs, which was a bit odd, but the sea was beautiful to swim in with coral and loads of fishes. COLOMBO, SRI LANKA. Took a taxi tour of the city and area with a couple from Belgium, including a stop at the Galle Face hotel for a beer (less than half the price on the ship!) PHUKET. First day we stopped at Patong and tendered to the beach. It was a bit late to organize trips as we didn't arrive until the afternoon. We hired a couple of sun loungers and had a swim (and another beer - even cheaper!). We then had a walk round the shops and bars before going back to the ship. The ship moved overnight to an anchorage at Deep Sea Port (to the east of the Island) and we had to tender ashore again. We took another taxi tour with our new friends from Belgium, including the Wat Chalong temple, Phuket Town, Chinatown, shopping, Cape Promthep viewpoint and a stop at a beach for a swim and another beer. PORT KLANG. We weren't actually in Port Klang, but in the Star Cruises terminal about 20 minutes away, which rather sabotaged our plans for the day. The fact that there were no money changing facilities didn't help either (none on the ship for currencies for most of the places we visited). But it was nice to have the ship nearly to ourselves for an afternoon to swim and take our choice of sunbeds! No food was available between 2.30 and 4pm, however, which was a blow as I hadn't had any lunch before I briefly went ashore! We were threatened with a EUR1000 fine if we were late back (allegedly by the port authority, according to Costa), but I noticed the excursions were well over an hour late back, and I rather doubt they were all fined - so what was that all about? SINGAPORE. Spectacular arrival in Singapore and we moored under the Sentosa Cable Car. We had a whole day and night before we had to disembark and we took advantage of our position to spend the day on Sentose. I visited Singapore on business in 1995 and I couldn't believe the changes in the place. Sentosa looked like a huge building site! We went to Underwater World, Dolphin Lagoon (worst dolphin show we have ever seen, although the pink dolphins were lovely), the Merlion and had a swim. Disembarkation the next day was very easy as we were on our own and going to a hotel; we just had breakfast, collected our hand luggage from our cabin, walked off through immigration, collected our luggage, went through customs and into a taxi. We then had two more nights in Singapore before we came home. Hope I haven't waffled on too long. In summary, we saw some amazing places all of which we enjoyed. If the ship had been comfortable it would obviously have been even better!! Would we travel with Costa again? Don't know. Certainly not on an older boat, unless the itinerary was truly unique, when we might consider it I suppose. And at least I had no problems with gaining weight because the food wasn't good - I have actually lost weight! Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
this was our first trip with MSC and sadly it will be our last one. We have cruised before half a dozen times, with royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Princess. and have really enjoyed these and have spent more than one holiday on each. we ... Read More
this was our first trip with MSC and sadly it will be our last one. We have cruised before half a dozen times, with royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Princess. and have really enjoyed these and have spent more than one holiday on each. we thought that we would give MSC a try. The itinerary was great and the time at sea and of course the crossing to brazil. to start with before we had left home, no tickets had arrived, or baggage tags for embarkation. the night before we left home, i had to get my agent to email to me the tags, and i printed them off , and we took tape with us to stick them on when we arrived in Venice. Embarkation was a nightmare. i had book in on line, and had a boarding pass for my husband and i. This was a complete waste of time. We stood in line for hours, without drink or food, there just was no organization at all. before that we arrived at the port and had to get our luggage from the coach, and move our suitcases to the warehouse to be put onto the ship, no one helped and there were no trolleys. Onboard the ship, our cabin was good, and spotless, the service in the cabin was great. although there are no provisions for 24 hour nourishment. the ship is beautiful, the pools spotless, and plenty of deck loungers. but not well organized. on the upper deck it is difficult to walk round the deck as it is too narrow. There is smoking all over the place, one side of the deck and one of the bars and wherever you walked you smell cigarettes. There was buffet breakfast, which was not bad, and also restaurant breakfast as well. Lunch was very good, but no juice, or coffee, only water. the waiters had very little English, but tried. dinner was not good, we had great table companions,which made the trip, bearable. There were no jugs of water at table, after the first night we were told that the captain had said that only bottled water which had to be paid for was to be served. this was also the case with coffee, no after dinner coffee. The menu looked ok but the food was cold, and often not very good. There is no buffet alternative on this ship for evening meals. they do have a place where you have to pay $30 each cover. There are no drink stations onboard, only at breakfast and for one hour at tea. There is no free ice cream, on an italian ship, we thought we would be on pizzas and ice cream both of which had to be bought, one scoop for $2.50 we did not find out where the pizza place was. entertainment was good the team really worked hard, and it showed. the shows were probably the best we have seen. The excursions had to be booked onboard, and they were all good, with the exception of the last day when the coach went without us. disembarkation was a nightmare. even worse than embarkation. we had to be out of the cabins for 7 am even the ship did not dock until 9am as planned. because we were going on an excursion we were to be off the ship early. however it was after ten thirty, before we could start coming off and then everyone was off the ship in one go. it was bedlam. We lost a case which had been put in the wrong color section, so spent an hour looking for it. all in all it was not an expensive cruise, but they need to have trained staff, and for english people the language is a major problem, as they announce each language and it takes forever. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
My wife and I are 50 year olds in good physical standing and have been on 20+ cruises on HAL, CCL, NCL, and RCCL, as well as a few others. We were on the first sailing of the Zuiderdam out of Fort Lauderdale cruising to the Panama Canal, ... Read More
My wife and I are 50 year olds in good physical standing and have been on 20+ cruises on HAL, CCL, NCL, and RCCL, as well as a few others. We were on the first sailing of the Zuiderdam out of Fort Lauderdale cruising to the Panama Canal, Nov 9-19. This was to date our most expensive cruise and our second on Hal and we were expecting a lot. Our first Hal cruise was on the Westerdam to Alaska and it was possibly our favorite cruise of all we had taken. We enthusiastically encouraged our close friends to join us on the classiest line we had experienced. We started to worry as we heard that 7+ day cruises in the school season had a large percentage of elderly couples and the entertainment was geared toward them. We found this to be true and the average age of our fellow guest had to be in the 70's. Ok no problem...we like older people too, though the ship rolled up its sidewalks precisely at 10pm. We were often one of 2-3 couples in the nightclubs. The previous sailing from the Mediterranean to Florida had serious norovirus issues and this started our dream vacation on a very sour note. Our cruise would be delayed until 12 at night while the crew scoured the ship, we would have to find entertainment for 4 in Florida. Our travel agent never told us of any problem, but I had heard of the problem thanks to Cruise Critic. Many fellow cruisers were unaware of the delay as well. There is no reason HAL could not have sent an email directly to me, they have my email and they have shown no problem in the past inundating me with sale ads and junk mail. Why on the most important aspect of my cruise would they not communicate direct? When we got to Fort Lauderdale an HAL agent told us check in would begin at 7 pm. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale at 9 am and proceeded to spend the next 10 hours in a rental car and a local casino. Upon arrival at the port we were informed they were running a bit behind and that we would be bused to a convention center where 1400 of our fellow guest had already gathered. These people were unbelievably patient and waited over 2 more hours until the first busses were called for guest to be brought back to the ship. Some guest had been there 14 hours before they finally headed back to the dock. For us the wait would continue as a very disorganized transfer of the 1400 began. We had bus 32 and it would be after 12:30AM before we would finally make the ship. We were happy to hear the lifeboat drill would take place the next morning, unhappy to hear that we would miss our first port, Half Moon Cay. We were given a $75 per person room credit for our troubles. Finally at 2 AM we hit the bed having been up 22 hours. The ship was nice and laid out well, very easy to navigate and our room was centrally located 2 doors form the main elevator bank. But unfortunately lines were to be a problem for the first half of our trip. Code red handling procedures were in affect, which meant hands off most things for the passengers. In the buffet the lines were horrible, the food mostly overcooked I presume to minimize food borne problems and with so many elderly needing help with getting to their table, very understaffed. In fact the singers and dancers and even one of the ship staff's wife were called into service. While most seemed happy to pitch in, I heard several say this was not what they signed up for. The crew worked their butts off for 5 days and who knows how many days before and we appreciate their efforts, however its not what I paid for us premium dollars for. It was 5 days before I saw a medium rare cut of meat, saltshakers on the tables as well as any other condiment, or the buffet without long unmoving lines. So now we have a bad taste in our mouths so to speak, it becomes very difficult to see this cruise as anything other then a mess. The spa was closed, hot tubs, the library, the ping-pong tables, the basketball court.... many things but not the casino!!! Are you telling me I'm more likely to get sick from handling a basketball them I am from sitting in a casino, handling chip, slots, close quarters et al. On the 2nd day we are informed that one of the guest has taken ill and will need to be removed by helicopter back to land. We were on the top deck as the Coast Guard crew flew a helicopter right to the front of the ship, hovered for many minutes as a crewman was lowered to the deck and then the patient elevated to the copter. This was an example of our finest working with civilian ships and executing a difficult maneuver with hundreds watching. Well done by both air and ship personnel. On the 3rd day, at 3am, a loooong blast goes off in my ear, finally the Captain comes on and say this is not a drill.... there is a fire in the forward boiler room...oh boy now what, do we prepare to abandon, do we roll over, do we get our life vest out and on.... we chose to roll over. No sooner do I fall asleep and second blast goes off.... the fire is in the wind box and there is not supposed to be fire in the wind box, but the fire crew is on the scene, passengers are not to worry yet, he will get back to us. I roll over again, fall asleep again, and am blasted awake again to be told the fire is under control, and we can go back to bed. The next morning no more is said, that I heard, about the fire, except that many passengers never heard anything.... how that was possible I will never know as the speaker was literally at the guests head. Good things, yeah there were a bunch as well. The ships dancers and singer were excellent, some of the best we have seen and the 3 production performances were wonderful. Paul Tanner, an impressionist was a breath of fresh air and finally brought some life into the crowd. The comedian was forgettable. The guest talent show had heart if little talent. There was but one band that we could listen too and that was Jenny and the Halcats who performed daily and followed a theme for most nights, Motown , 60's, 50's etc. The trio was just not for me, Moon River and all, nor many others it seemed judging by the crowd, and while the piano guy could play...he sure couldn't sing and that made me uncomfortable. We really like the ports being younger we were able to do thing our fellow guest were not. Aruba we horseback rode with Rancho la Ponderosa, we were picked up at the ship and returned at the end of the excursion. Our trail took us over the mountain and down to the water on the rough side of the island, it was beautiful and took 2-3 hours on the trail 4-5 hours overall. The cost was $55 per person if you booked online. The horses were allowed to run many times and the views spectacular. We were given a local beer upon finishing the ride, with the tips we paid $130 total. Curacao we rented a car from Avis right at the port, $55 for the day we were two couples so reasonable. We went up the coast towards the Westpont and stopped at a resort and scuba dove, a shore dive, as Curacaos coast is perfect for this. The cost was $40 for 2 tanks, and gear for one. We had brought one set. The other couple paid a $5 fee, which allowed use of the facilities and chairs etc, it was near Santa Cruz. Diving was very good, and snorkeling was also. In Gatun Lake we had the highlight of our trip, which was a ship excursion to a Embera indigenous tribe via bus and then dugout canoe. This is a tough excursion due to a 45-50 minute dugout ride and slippery walking in several places, but if you can handle it, it may be among the most incredible events of your life. The village is legit, not faked and the people really live there and for the most part live off the land, there apparently are several villages that may be used, and you may not get ours but the simple lifestyle was evident and a loving people made us feel very welcomed as we entered their world. The most beautiful children you ever saw, and the 70 or so who made this trip would all be quick to bring them back with us if we could. This excursion was $99 and well worth the money, the canoe ride alone was worth it. As we pulled in the ladies of the village were cleaning tilapia along the riverbed, this was to become our lunch along with fruit and fried plantains...it was fantastic. In Costa Rico we prebooked with Oscar Brown and went Zip lining at Jungle Resorts. Along the way Oscar shared his culture with us and stopped several places to show us views, sloths, fruit and other sights unusual to Americans. He did a good job and we felt safe with him in what may be for some an unsafe feeling local. This was $70 per person including the zip line. The zip line was fabulous, 12 lines vary lengths from 75 yards to 270 yards. This took 4-5 hours and I would do it again. We saw sloths and very small red frogs as well a thick lush jungle, both from below and above. He has a website called oscarbrowntours. Total with tips was $160, although other tours only were much cheaper, we really wanted to try zipping. Our room was a nice obstructed view with a sitting couch. The shower was good with no smells and although the flush had a mind of its own and seemed to go off when it wanted to we had no real problems. The small refer kept nothing cold, only cool. The AC worked great. We had 2 stewards who had 32 rooms and worked very, very hard. They kept the room clean and organized and we saw them doing the little things like sanitizing door handles and wiping down handrails in the hall. I don't know how they kept up with 32 rooms. Richard Dietrich provided information most days and we found them and him quite enjoyable. His help was appreciated on the Embera excursion and the info he provided on each port and its history was great. While we didn't make many of the actual talks we listened to them conveniently in our room. Our waiters and assistant were good and they tried their best in trying situations. But for the first 5 days the food was poor, over cooked and dry, no seasoning and salt and pepper was rationed out in small square packets, the kind you get in a picnic pack. No bread on the table, no butter, no sugar or cream. The selection seemed limited, being a beef man the lack of good steak or roast was a serious concern for me. There was a strip steak on the alternative menu, but for the first 5 days our waiter shied us away from it stating they were not good so far, I suspect because they had to serve it well done. It had been 2 years since our Alaska cruise and the food was among the highlights of the trip and we had bragged extensively to our friends about what to expect. What a disappointment and with 20 cruises themselves they said they couldn't wait to get off the "dam" ship. In fairness the food did get better the last 5 days but first impressions are so very important and theirs was not good. Disembarkment was chaotic and the line wrapped around the whole ship for the 9:00 - 9:30 times. Our luggage tag was blue but was located under the pink tag color, so who knows, maybe someone's colorblind. We heard through others that HAL had offered a refund or a different sail date to those who chose not to go on this cruise, we were never offered this. Given an opportunity I'm sure I would never want to follow a norovirus cruise again, there was just to much frustration involved for a guy who hates lines. The price we paid was for a premium cruise of a lifetime, what we got was far less and if not for a few of the staff and the ports it would have been a complete failure. For now, both couples are turned off on HAL and will stay away. Of course if a good prices comes along I reserve the right to change my mind. I suspect the following cruises will be fine and the experience will be better for most. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
We decided to splash out on an Owner's Suite for this crossing and paid a significant premium for the privilege. Perhaps I should say up front that we had a really good time aboard Navigator, despite the somewhat critical comments ... Read More
We decided to splash out on an Owner's Suite for this crossing and paid a significant premium for the privilege. Perhaps I should say up front that we had a really good time aboard Navigator, despite the somewhat critical comments that will follow! For us, the lesson was that if one wants a cruising experience commensurate with an investment of some $6000, then Navigator (and RCI) is not the appropriate choice. For a fraction of what we paid, we could have had just as good a time in comfortable balcony accommodations. Check in was effortless, and very efficient. We were very impressed that RCI was able to process almost 3000 passengers without long delays. Arriving on board, there was no assistance offered in finding our suite; neither were any welcome drinks offered. The ship is beautiful, and well maintained. Despite its size, it is easy to "navigate" one's way around without getting lost. Our suite, the Fiji Suite, was nicely appointed, and really spacious. There is enough closet and packing space for a household! The bathroom was stocked with premium toiletries, and a bowl of fresh fruit was awaiting us on the dining table. A bottle of complimentary mineral water was placed on the bar counter. Neither the fruit nor the water were replaced during the duration of the 12 day cruise, and on one afternoon, we received a cheese plate that was available from the room service menu. We received an access card for the small concierge lounge on Deck 9, and an invitation to the daily complimentary cocktails and snacks in the Ixtapa Lounge on Deck 5. This was the sum total of the privileges we received for booking an Owner's Suite. Our greatest disappointment was the level of indifference with which we were treated. We most certainly did not wish to be fawned upon, but some personal interaction with senior crew members would have been welcome. The "concierge service" throughout the cruise was lacking. One one occasion, we entertained guests in our suite, and asked the concierge to arrange some snacks (from the complimentary room service menu). We were informed that this would cost $350, despite the fact that we ordered wine and drinks from the ship's bar! Eventually we called room service ourselves, and our order was delivered at no charge! The concierge, Xavier, seemed disinterested and not inclined to make any effort - maybe fatigue from a season of cruising in the Mediterranean. Food...The food was of a reasonable standard (but not remarkable), in both the Windjammer Cafe and the dining room. We never had difficulty finding a table in the Windjammer during breakfast and lunch. The lunchtime menu and made-to-order salads in the dining room were excellent - perhaps the best meals we had on board. Dinner menus were somewhat repetitive in the dining room, but the food was palatable. Our waiter and assistant waiter (Glennifer and Serdar) were excellent,and were willing to go to great lengths to please. The Head Waiter, Ashton, was also wonderful. Standards have slipped, though - but quite understandable given the massive global food price increases over recent times. Getting tea and coffee outside Windjammer opening hours was a challenge and an irritation - getting early morning coffee meant a trek to Deck 5 (if we did not make our own in the suite). The star of our cruise was the bar waiter in the Ixtapa Lounge, Mark Lyttleton, who is a shining example of outstanding service. Activities and entertainment...We saw all three production shows, which were good. The highlight, though, was the special performance of "Ice Dancin'", the ice show, for Platinum and Diamond Crown & Anchor members. Wow! It was great. We enjoyed the gym facilities. Other activities were quite low-key, and influenced by the awful weather conditions across the Atlantic. (For "operational reasons" RCI decided to change our route from what was originally advertised when we booked, and the more northerly route resulted in a cold and windy crossing). We found the Cruise Director and his Assistant to be rather indifferent, and the daily video clips advertising activities on board to be reminiscent of a Butlins Holiday Camp (UK members will know what I mean). The activities staff didn't show much initiative or innovation in tailoring activities in the light of the bad weather. On a positive note, The ship's master, Captain Bang, was visible around the ship throughout the crossing (including in the gym), and communicated regularly. It would have been good if his officers had followed his example. During the cruise, it transpired that our rather bumpy ride was exacerbated by the fact that one of the two stabilizer sets on the ship was out of action. The motion caused one of the large closet doors in our suite to come off its hinges, and we were kept awake on several nights with drawers banging. In conclusion: we had a very enjoyable 12 days, but mainly due to the company of great people, and the hard work of a few outstanding crew members. It was most certainly not value for money, and although I steadfastly refrain from making comparisons with other cruise lines, RCI's premium category services are very poor indeed, by any standards. It lacks finesse and attention to detail, despite pricing that compares with premium cruise lines. Maybe a mid-priced balcony cabin in future, but never again a suite! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Personal Background We are a couple in our sixties, who have cruised 13 times, using Celebrity, Costa, Festival, Royal Caribbean, Airtours, NCL and MSC covering The Med, Caribbean, canaries and the Baltic. After a great Caribbean cruise ... Read More
Personal Background We are a couple in our sixties, who have cruised 13 times, using Celebrity, Costa, Festival, Royal Caribbean, Airtours, NCL and MSC covering The Med, Caribbean, canaries and the Baltic. After a great Caribbean cruise on MSC Lirica, we were really looking forward to our first transatlantic crossing, and first visit to South America. Travel to Port Flew to Venice, Marco Polo with BA. Good flight. Embarkation Embarkation was an absolute nightmare. Not all passengers from the flight to Marco Polo airport at Venice were able to get onto the first coach. We were successful, leaving the airport at around 11.30am, reaching the port terminal some 30 minutes later, we joined hundreds of passengers waiting to hand over their luggage to porters. This took around another 30 minutes. This was the easy part, as when we reached the main terminal building to check onto the ship, there were even more people! No organized form of queuing, just every man for himself. We eventually got onto the ship at around 2.30 pm. Stateroom As we got onto the ship we were escorted to our cabin. The cabin was fantastic in every respect. Bright, well lit, comfortable, very clean and with a nice balcony. Our cabin steward introduced himself and I raised a couple of issues, regarding no facecloths and frayed handtowels. (NB Bath sheets were first class). Flatscreen TV, but only 4 channels, although you could pay for English language films. NB During the transatlantic crossing there was no reception of any TV broadcasts.! Ship Info The ship was beautiful in all respects, lounges, theatre and pool decks. Modern, colorful and spotlessly clean. Dining We used the cafeteria Gli Archi for a late lunch and were surprised to find the only drink available was iced water. Coffees or tea had to be purchased from the bars.NB There were drinks machines, but they had been covered up and taken out of use! Modern colorful and spotlessly clean! Lifeboat drill was carried out on the second day of the cruise in Bari at 6.00pm, although we were not due to sail until 7.00pm and passengers could still have been ashore. We were happy that we had been allocated to main seating for dinner in the L'Oleandro restaurant. Main seating was 6.30 pm, with second seating at 9.00pm which was too late for most of the passengers that we spoke to, as the show in the main theatre was always after dinner, at around 11.30 pm. The food was generally pretty average, and main courses generally disappointing! The menus read well but often the food fell short. We like hot dishes to be served hot, and our regular dinner waiter and assistant always obliged, but during open sitting in the restaurant for breakfast and lunch we had to demand that our food be hot! On the Lirica, we took advantage of the wine package, which was any 10 bottles from a list of 14 different wines. On Musica you could buy a package of 7 wines, one each of the 7 listed, so we went for the wine list. There seemed to be a high percentage of new Brazilian staff on the ship, who appeared to be still under training, this meant standards at breakfast and lunch were very variable. For example, when offered fruit juice at breakfast I asked for tomato juice, only to be met with blank stare. I was eventually brought two glasses of passata (Tomato cooking sauce). The assistant maitre D' remedied the situation. At dinner on the first evening we asked for a jug of iced water. This was duly supplied and we served ourselves. On the second night we requested the same and were told by our waiter that he was not allowed to bring us iced water. I asked for the asst maitre D' and he told me that he was following the instructions of the new Maitre D', that there should be no "jugs" in the dining room. I requested a meeting with the Maitre D' at the reception desk. I was told that he would contact me. Failing to be contacted by him, I approached him in the dining room, and asked whether, "no iced water" was his policy, or the policy of MSC. He told me that it was MSC policy. I also asked the policy on tea and coffee after lunch/dinner, as we had been requesting and receiving tea or coffee after meals but many fellow passengers were being refused. He said that tea and coffee should be available. (NB espresso and cappuccino had to be paid for) Several days into the cruise the issue of iced water, and some passengers not being offered or in fact refused coffee and tea after meals was still a major bone of contention amongst the English speaking passengers, so I asked if reception could email these issues to MSC head office in Naples. The receptionist was concerned by my request and suggested a meeting with Giuseppe Pane the Hotel Manager. I met signore Pane on the 7th day of the cruise, along with his assistant and the Maitre D'. He confirmed that it was MSC policy that no jugs of iced water were to be served on Musica and that no tea or coffee should be served after meals. The MD' confirmed that in fact tea and coffee were being served, and they continued to be served throughout the cruise. S Pane also confirmed that the MSC Lirica was in the Caribbean, and would be offering jugs of water, and free iced tea, fruit juice, tea and coffee. So the MSC offer appears to be inconsistent! Many English speaking passengers said that they would never cruise MSC again, and daily visited the accounts desk to cancel their tips. They were eventually able to do this when the ship reached Brazil. The only alternative dining venues in the evening were Il Giardino and the Sushi restaurant and they were invariably empty. Our table companions booked Il Giardino for 7.00pm. When they got there the restaurant was locked and a team meeting was taking place. They got in, and were the only couple dining that night. They enjoyed their meal, but at a supplement of $30.00 each, and with the same wines as the main dining room, but at a higher price. Entertainment The La Scala theatre was beautiful, we enjoyed 3 classical concerts, 3 bigger shows, and an illusionist. There were many lounges with live music. The Delicia Quartet were excellent. The entertainment team were busy during the day with simple deck games and quizzes, and at night with fairly juvenile competitions in one of the main lounges. There were four formal nights, with two of them preceded with a captain's cocktail party. Crossing the Line Ceremony was carried out the morning after the actual crossing. And involved around 100 passengers being christened with Champagne, tomato juice, milk, cream, flours and raw eggs. So be warned! Shore excursions We generally did our own thing, and enjoyed visiting, Bari, Malta, Malaga, Madeira and Tenerife. We were only in Recife for a morning, and that was long enough! The old town was very very poor, ruined buildings and people living on the streets. Salvador was smarter, the old town was quite attractive, but a couple of people had chains and watches snatched. We took a ship organized tour of Rio as we were disembarking that day, visiting the statue of Christ the Redeemer and the beaches. Unfortunately the weather was very wet. Disembarkation We took the tour of Rio in the morning, as we had to transfer to Rio International Airport in the afternoon. We were told that our luggage would be kept separate and secure in the Port Terminal building, but that we could check our luggage before joining the tour bus. In fact we were taken directly from the ship to the tour bus. Fortunately when the tour was finished, we found our cases safely in the terminal building. We then had to carry our luggage a couple of hundred yards to the transfer coach through a wet and puddled car park. A couple of ships porters with trolleys would have been appreciated. Summary Would I cruise with MSC again? I doubt it! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
After our last Princess cruise, we swore we wouldn't cruise one of their big ships again, convinced that the onboard experience just didn't meet our standards. But we had reckoned without the one thing Princess does better than ... Read More
After our last Princess cruise, we swore we wouldn't cruise one of their big ships again, convinced that the onboard experience just didn't meet our standards. But we had reckoned without the one thing Princess does better than any other line: offer fabulous itineraries at very attractive prices. So here we were aboard Grand Princess for back-to-back cruises, 12 days roundtrip from Rome on a voyage which included two Egyptian ports followed by 21 days touching on three continents before landing in Florida. Heck, we figured, we can survive the line's weaknesses better this time because we know what to expect. Here's a summary of our impressions: Air arrangements: We used the Princess air program; our Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt was cramped and uncomfortable, the connection time was alarmingly tight, but the hop to Rome and bus to the pier were efficient and comfortable. Getting on and off: Embarkation was smooth. Disembarkation 33 days later ran about 30 minutes late, the baggage hall was chaotic and the lines for Customs very long. Port Everglades is not a customer-friendly place to get off a ship. The Grand Princess: Lots of rust showing around the balconies, carpets and chairs were worn, at least one leak develop in the ceiling of the Promenade Deck, our shower died during the trip our cabin heat got stuck on 'cool.' The ship was kept clean, with two exceptions: Horizon Court windows (on Deck 15) were left salt-encrusted and not cleaned for six days after we went through a storm, and there were frequent smells of garbage and sewage in the aft end of the Princess Theatre. Itinerary: Superb. Going ashore: We took ship-sold tours in all but three ports. The chance to see the pyramids of Giza was perhaps the number one reason we chose the cruise and we were happy with the result. We booked the ridiculously overpriced Princes Grand Cairo overnight tour - $799 per person. (We now know why it's overpriced: people like us are willing to pay that much. However, unless you're planning another visit to see Egypt's fabled attractions, it's worth it). The tour gave us the usual places - Sphinx, Giza pyramids, Egyptian museum - plus the sound and light show, the step pyramid at Sakkara, a breakfast cruise on the Nile and a night at a luxury hotel. It was marred by a typical example of Princess sleight-of-hand, the Water Scam, wherein you're repeatedly told to buy bottled water on board only to discover it's freely available on your tour. We noted how well the tour staff mustered passengers to go ashore on all our tours, but they were virtually clueless when asked details of the tours they sold. Many passengers refused to buy tours, went ashore on their own, and discovered they really weren't ready for exotic third-world places. The food: Dining room food quality was good, though freshness began to suffer as we neared the end of our journey. In the Horizon Court, I sensed the budget had been reduced: both quality and variety were down from our last cruise. At the The Painted Desert extra-cost steak house we paid $20 each for the worst service I've ever had on board a ship. The service: Other than that, excellent. On-board management: I made a list of about 20 glaring instances of sloppy management or inattention to detail, from poor training of front-desk staff to constant mistakes in the Princess Patter to poorly programmed elevators to Internet-center chairs exactly one inch too wide for the under-desk space into which they should have fit. We heard of several instances where the ship lost passenger documents or otherwise screwed up. If I'd performed that badly as an executive, I'd have been fired. Entertainment: Mediocre, with some exceptions. There were some good comedians, and the singer/dancers (who seemed to be in practice mode) tried hard, but most shows of all types featured constant hectoring of the audience to applaud more often and more loudly, as if the performers were amateurs at a kids' camp and not paid professionals. One of the lounge bands had difficulty singing on key. Cruise staff: Enthusiasm and dedication were outweighed by a belief that passengers need to be badgered several times a day with obnoxiously loud promotional announcements. The Deputy Cruise Director, the main miscreant, appeared to think none of us had been at school long enough to learn to read, thus requiring his bellowed exhortations to show up at one event or another. The deputy's boss seemed to have no control over his subordinate. Safety: For the first time in 38 cruises, I was left with some doubts. On our last night before getting back to Rome, driving hard through a gale, the ship was struck by a "freak wave." There were three loud crashes followed by complete loss of power with the vessel drifting in the swells. Power was soon restored and we limped toward port at seven knots, arriving nearly nine hours late. Beyond a reference to the freak wave, no real explanation of the crashes was ever given. We saw days later a large patch on the bow above the anchor; the captain was replaced when we reached Gibraltar: "normal rotation," we were told. Overall: As long as you accept that Princess is a second-class cruise line with very low basic fares to go with its outstanding itineraries, you won't be disappointed. This is our last Princess cruise, unless, of course, we see a trip that's dirt-cheap with ports that are irresistible. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Observations on this cruise: • Our waiter was just not up to par. We never really got to know him very well. He brought breakfast to our room on day 7 and did not even recognize us! In the past we wanted to take home the ... Read More
Observations on this cruise: • Our waiter was just not up to par. We never really got to know him very well. He brought breakfast to our room on day 7 and did not even recognize us! In the past we wanted to take home the waiters/waitresses. This time we hardly know them! • Our assistant waiter was never introduced and we still do not know his name. • All food seemed to be a lower grade than before. • Very little variety in food. • Food only marginally good. • Food better in Windjammer. • We were always last to be served. • Cold coffee was served to the entire table. • Once I ordered a steak medium-it came raw! They offered to bring me another but by the time they brought it they had all left to go off and dance for everyone. Of course, that meal was a total disaster. Three times I ordered beef-all three times it was chewy and lacking in flavor while the menu said it was Black Angus. It certainly was not the Black Angus I am accustomed to. • Window in dining room creaked continuously so loud that sometimes we could hardly talk. • Too much begging for approval rather than more attention to service. "Give everyone a big hand!" When the applause was not good enough they said we are giving you another chance for applause!!! I feel applause is earned not begged for. When you see a good show or receive good service praise becomes automatic. • Entertainment was only mediocre. In the past the shows have been wonderful, some even spectacular. This time we felt as if were in a local night club-very routine... • Our room temperature was perfect until the 7th night of the cruise. Then suddenly it became so cold we could hardly sleep. We had NOT touched the temperature dial but it was frigid. We called maintenance and they came to work on it. After that it became unbearably hot! We called again and they returned and worked on it. It was operational for about 12 hours then turned to cold again. We had no ability to adjust it... Finally, after five trips to our cabin they informed us that it was a problem with the door switch and they would not be able to repair it until the next day-our day of arrival in Tampa!!! • It was very difficult to get the daily news paper. The USA version was out within a few minutes; however, if you wanted a Canadian or British version there were always stacks of those. After a couple of days you would think someone would start to see a trend or maybe, just maybe someone would realize that this ship was full of US citizens... • Each morning the cleaners would start work around 5:00AM. Our cabin was directly below them and it was very noisy. We spoke to the desk about this and their reply was to get up and call us the next time it happened and they would speak to the cleaners. Why not just speak to them? Why did they want us to get up and call? Our overall observation was that this was a "watered down" version of RCCL-at least that is what we hope. It certainly was not what we had become accustomed too. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008

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