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561 Repositioning Cruise Reviews

The Grand Princess is more than an OK ship. It's not really that grand, but despite what others have said, it is in good repair (we saw none of the worn carpets and other things folks here seem to have written about) but the crew and ... Read More
The Grand Princess is more than an OK ship. It's not really that grand, but despite what others have said, it is in good repair (we saw none of the worn carpets and other things folks here seem to have written about) but the crew and the ship line need some help fast and badly. The worst part was they were ill-prepared for six sea days between Bermuda and Greenock (Glasgow) and left passengers napping or twiddling their thumbs. The cruise staff was purely awful. Most didn't REALLY seem to care about the passengers, the cruise director was like one out of the 60s with "we know you will want to go to..." this or that in his too-frequent announcements, and the daily ship's agenda has an idiotic name (Princess Patter) and even less information than the name implies. It tells little or nothing about activities aboard-problem is there really aren't many or any that most would participate in. We got so desperate we did origami and took a lot of naps. The biggest reason was the ship did roll a BIT. We have been on other lines a total of 12+ times, so we'd know rough if we felt it. This was NOT rough. But the staff immediately closed all swimming pools, most decks and essentially assigned all of us "to quarters". Problem is the Princess folks don't print any daily news sheets, and the TV had no outside broadcasts for days - only rolling notices saying they couldn't get any. No pool, no major walking on the promenade deck (which was closed partly after dark, anyway) and no news or TV and you begin to see why we often felt we were on a prison ship and not a luxury cruise! Events like the daily afternoon tea were a shambles. Never mind the white gloves of Cunard were gone, but the dining staff didn't anticipate 200-300 of the 1600 of us (not but 1/2 to 2/3 full, depending who you believed) would show up. Of course, when you have no pool, no TV and nothing else, why not?   They wanted to serve the sweets first, used Lipton tea and looked astonished when we asked for real Twinings or English Breakfast or Earl Grey. In short, they apologized a lot, but were clueless as the cruise staff was. Were there good parts?  Yes for sure. The waiters we had were excellent and got an extra tip for their efforts, and the staff at the Purser's Desk tied their best to please. Meanwhile, the room steward (Edwin) should have been chucked overboard as he never did get the hang of our use of late seatings, showering before dinner and always calling my partner Mark when he asked to be called by his usual name of Ivan. Mark is his legal first name but it's only on passports and tickets, not ever used. You'd think in 15 days Edwin could have gotten it right after repeated askings.  The odd thing was he was OVERLY friendly, but never cleaned, dusted or did his JOB. In short, he needs to be fired, though the purser's staff looked at me oddly when I suggested that. I wasn't joking. The other problem - this was our first time on Princess - was that they were on a 15-day sales pitch. Next time (there won't be one on Princess, but if there was) I'm getting a T-shirt that says "NO" on the front and on the back "Pictures...sales pitches...soft drink cards or fresh pepper on anything I am eating unless I ask you for it!"  The trip was sales pitch after pitch. The first day after the 3rd person looked shocked I did NOT want their Coke promo glass for "only" whatever price I told the 4th and 5th "look go away...scram. I have told 3 people NO THANK YOU already!"  They never did get any of the hints nor the direct approach....sigh.  I'd have paid dearly for some CNN or a ship's daily bulletin, but none of those were offered much of the trip! The quality of the food was good to excellent, the portions were ginormous (that means huge) and the staff there wonderful.   What to say about our fellow passengers? Mainly RUDE RUDE RUDE Americans, a handful of Brits and one or two Germans. It was like being in a Florida retirement village with all worn out New Yorkers.  Again, very close to the hell we imagine being sent off to Australia was like for the British when it was a prison colony. If we were shoved and treated rudely by one passenger, we were treated that way by 51. It's little wonder we generally go with Cunard, which have a more international passenger list and polite folks. They definitely were NOT on this cruise anywhere at all. Even our table mates (newlyweds who married on the ship) came three nights and informed us "We won't be back...it's too much trouble to dress up and be here on schedule. We are going to eat in the Lido (Horizon Court)..." and they were never seen again, leaving the two of us and a friend we were travelling with alone at a table for six. So much for new friends, huh? Finally, a word about Fort Lauderdale as an embarkation port: don't. I have now done it several times and find their staff (all retired over 65s) rude, nasty and downright control freaks. One yelled at some poor man waiting to board because his cell phone rang and threatened to not let him on the ship! We are talking extreme here!  There was also a LONG delay to board, and we sat in what looked to be a former warehouse with airplane terminal benches. What a way to begin what was billed as a luxury cruise. Finally, the rules...NO swimming "for your safety" when it wasn't totally smooth...had to sign a release to get a rare burger for lunch "for your safety", etc etc. Totally BS and worse.  Look elsewhere for our review of Queen Mary 2, which we took back home several weeks after Grand Princess brought us to England and you will see how it should be done. This line and this ship don't have a clue, which is why we won't be back. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
My wife and I sailed on the April 3 FLL to Rome cruise aboard Noordam.  Our accomadations were spectacular.  The room spacious, the bathroom huge and the wrap around balcony incredible!  Going West to East on this TA, we chose the SW ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the April 3 FLL to Rome cruise aboard Noordam.  Our accomadations were spectacular.  The room spacious, the bathroom huge and the wrap around balcony incredible!  Going West to East on this TA, we chose the SW corner aft for our suite and it paid off in spades.  We had sun everyday from 9am until sunset on at least some part of our huge balcony.  I would have to describe this suite and its location as being a private yacht. Luxury & Location.Now the bad news.  The crew was incompetent and the officers didn't care.  The Pinnacle dining room was a joke. 2 of the 3 steaks that I ordered were woefully over cooked.  They crow about having a 1600 degree broiler. Now they just need someone who knows how to use it.  Chef Rob had attitude like you would not believe. Nose in the air and out of joint.The hotel manager aboard ship, Rene, informed me that I was only 1 of 2,000 passengers. So deal with it.  Thank you Rene! I had only paid $7,300 for the privilege!One gets tired of all the cute "Dam Ship" t's, caps, mugs, etc.  What they need aboard Noordam is "We don't give a Dam!" apparell for the officers to wear.Only after I lowered my expectations to the point of; short of sinking the ship I expected nothing from the crew, did I begin to enjoy the cruise.  The service was that bad.We have received a nice form letter for HA but nothing else.  Put up and shut up is the working model at Holland America - and that is for the paying guests! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We are not novices to cruising as this was our 39th cruise. We are gold card members of the MSC line. Until this sailing, MSC has been our favorite cruise line. Unfortunately the service made us feel like unwanted relatives on the ... Read More
We are not novices to cruising as this was our 39th cruise. We are gold card members of the MSC line. Until this sailing, MSC has been our favorite cruise line. Unfortunately the service made us feel like unwanted relatives on the Orchestra. We have had better and worse embarkations thus nothing worth writing about. It was upon entering the ship our problems began. Our adult son came with us since this was a Christmas and New year's vacation. Upon boarding he went to the Receptionist Desk to give them cash so he could open up his onboard account. When he tried to tell the receptionist what he wanted to do she told him "if he would shut up and listen." I was standing by him or I might not have believed a customer relations person would talk that way to a passenger. We are loyal past passengers and get treated this way. Strike one within ten minutes of boarding. Other cruise lines show you to your cabin and some even offer a glass of champagne. None of that here. You are on your own to find your cabin. Being hungry we went up to deck 13 for something to eat. Another disappointment. The food was tasteless and all the salads looked and tasted the same. There were only two variety of cakes for dessert. Little did we know this was to be the case for the entire cruise. Our first dinner foretold what was ahead for the next 17 days. We never saw a steak the entire trip. Fish served every meal but over cooked and quite dry. Chicken every meal and again over cooked. We ordered pasta the first night (remembering how wonderful the pasta was on the Opera.) To our surprise it was tasteless except for a rancid, metallic taste. No one at our table could eat it. In 17 days we had truly good pasta only two times. Service in the dining room was bad to pitiful. We were at a table for 6 and one person would get their dish while the rest would wait 10 to 15 minutes. Sometimes we were served the wrong orders. Other times we never got what we ordered. Sometimes we would get our food but have no silverware to eat it with. Dinner always took around two hours. Everyday except for three we went to the "formal" dining room for lunch. Imagine our surprise to have to go through a cafeteria line (buffet) at lunch in the formal dining room. No menu service. Again the food was tasteless. In all our cruises this was a first. Christmas Eve we could have "prime rib" or lobster. Everyone at our table and next to us agreed the "prime rib" was merely a small piece of over cooked roast beef. The lobster was soooo large we took three bites and it was gone. Also, I was told fourteen passengers ended up in the infirmary ill after eating the lobster. Unfortunately the food never improved the entire cruise. I had occasion to speak with Marcello, the Guest Relations manager. He told me he was a "chef" and that Italians do not cook with spices. I wondered if he thought I had dropped here from another planet. Especially since my husband is 1/2 Italian. Day two we slept in and did not leave our cabin until 10:10 am. Imagine our surprise to find it was not possible to find anything to eat on the ship until noon. The restaurant closed at 9:30 am everyday of the trip. The deck 13 cafeteria (buffet) closed at 10:00 am. No rolls, croissants, nothing. Our cabin was always very clean and our room steward had a handicap as our adult son would stay out quite late and thus get up very late. Our steward never complained and graciously worked around our night owl. We were quite happy with our service in this area. The productions shows were good and the costumes were beautiful. The were four African men who were acrobats. They were truly wonderful. The magician and illusionist were acceptable. One night there was no show at all and three nights the show consisted entirely of groups which played every night in the atrium lounge. These three nights were poorly attended since we saw them every night anyway when passing by the atrium. The Entertainment (Animation) Team on MSC really work hard and extremely long hours. These young people were no exception. They danced with passengers every single evening until 1 or 2 am. They had Italian lessons, trivia games, crazy games, dance lessons, etc. From nine in the morning until two am they were very visible and working hard. They truly made this voyage bearable. The cruise director on the other hand was very aloof and seldom said anything to the passengers. The ships lounge performers were generally good. We especially liked the Popcorn Band and their singer, Romanica. She has a truly lovely voice and is very friendly and outgoing. On the Opera you could not get on the ship or go into an eating facility without a crew member squirting you with hand sanitizer. Imagine our surprise when we cannot even find the sanitizer on deck 13 four four days. It was behind a door. Quite often when getting back on the ship or entering the dining room the hand sanitizer was empty. There was never any crew in sight the entire trip checking on this. Something we have never seen before was that none of the ships shops were open until the fourth day of our cruise. Christmas decorations (such as they were) did not appear until day four and five of our cruise. We heard several passengers complain because the ship never put up a Menorah even though we were cruising during Hanukah. There were never any Christmas Carols, no egg nog, no special Christmas show Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. A passenger chorus sang prior to midnight mass which was held at 11:00. Other than Santa for the children Christmas Day might as well have been any other day of the year. Get this the Orchestra had a Friends of Bill W. meeting in the Savannah "Bar." Our past passenger party was not until December 28 which is when we got our "welcome cocktail." It took three phone calls to get the invitation which we finally received 10 minutes prior to the party. Only ONE cocktail is permitted per passenger. No canapes. Since Saint Thomas is the first U.S. port this is where the immigration procedures were done. What a mess. We got a paper which I am quoting "instructions for passengers NON USA and Canada." We get a knock on our door and were chastised for not going through customs. I showed the person our form and he said we did not know how to read and must go right away. We stood in line for one hour to have a ship officer glance at our passport and put a sticker on it so we could get off the ship and go into town. The last week of the cruise many of the passengers and some of the crew got a hacking cough, sore throat and fever. My son and spouse both had to go to the infirmary for medicine. They were told there was not an outbreak of illness. However, the ship sounded like a T.B. ward. A couple of passengers said they had contacted the Center for Disease Control because of the ships denial and the lack of sanitization. We have cruised so many times, we know there are always a few disgruntled passengers but we have never talked to so many people who were so angry. People from nearly every country we spoke with expressed their displeasure with the Orchestra. We only met three people who seemed happy with the cruise. We found out they were on their first cruise. Disembarkation was truly a nightmare. Everyone had to be out of their cabin by 7:00 am. Breakfast was closed at 8:30 am. Nobody was allowed off the ship until after 10:30 am. There was an announcement about 9:00 am blaming the Immigration Department for the hold up. Since we had a 12:30 train home we were getting quite nervous. I went to the Receptionist and she said she could not give me a different colored tag. (Ours was over half way down the list to be called.) She then said they could not "force" anyone to stay on the ship. We spoke with some people sitting near us and they had 7:00 to 8:00 evening flights and had the first colored tags to be called. We slipped in line when the first tags were called and upon reaching the baggage area off the ship found our luggage had not even been taken off the ship yet. We spoke to someone in Immigration and were told they were ready by 9:00 am to clear the Orchestra's passengers but the ship is under staffed and that was why it was taking so long. Many a time I have gone on Cruise Critic to defend MSC, telling the detractors how wonderful MSC is. I now feel a need to apologize to my fellow Cruise Critic's for misleading them. What has happened to my beloved MSC??? Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
The MSC Cruise line is for the birds. If you plan a cruise DO NOT CHOOSE MSC CRUISE LINES. It is a very boring place to be. The food was terrible-horrible-everything was either undercooked or overcooked....they even screwed up corn ... Read More
The MSC Cruise line is for the birds. If you plan a cruise DO NOT CHOOSE MSC CRUISE LINES. It is a very boring place to be. The food was terrible-horrible-everything was either undercooked or overcooked....they even screwed up corn flakes (I lived on French fries and tomatoes for 17 days)...... there were no trained crew members everybody was new and spoke very little English if any at all....there were 16 decks on this ship and 2...yes 2...Christmas trees..no decorations.........no Christmas music......they had no planned organized fun things to do except stretching exercises and bingo and that was ill organized........Bingo cards cost $10 for one card......I paid extra for a smoking balcony and they did not allow smoking on balconies.......they charge 3% for cashing travelers checks.......the only deck party they had was New Year's Eve....no ice carvings and grand buffet on the last night as ships usually do...the nightly shows (except 2) were all operatic and classical.....no religious Christmas services except for Catholics.....the first and second days they had no night time buffet so you had to eat in the dining room whether you wanted to or not, then they had so many complaints that they had to open a buffet at night.....you had to pay for pizza...you had to pay for ice cream...one man had to pay $3.50 for a glass of crushed ice.....there were two big fights on the ship....no movie theater or free movies....the first few days they had 10 free movies but so many people were so bored they were staying in the cabins watching them so they took them off.....one couple got off in Casablanca and flew themselves home and another two couples got off in San Juan....... We had to beg for bananas...beg for doughnuts...they kept these things under the counter...... they did not ever have any milk although people were asking for it....until about 5 days into the cruise after thousands of complaints we didn't even get coffee except at mealtimes and on every cruise I have been on there are coffee and juices 24 hours a day.... One more thing...there were no hand sanitizers until we got to American territory and inspection time. They were hidden under the counters too. A lot of people caught colds and were in bed for a period of time....Clarence was one of them for 4 days. There were about 3K + travelers on this cruise and 2900 of them swear they will never go on another MSC Cruise Line. Everybody was complaining from all countries. If you sat down at a table or somewhere with a complete stranger, all that was talked about was how bad the ships crew, the service, and the organization was....especially the food. Everybody was teed off because the only vegetables were cauliflower, broccoli, and shredded carrots. We finally got some potatoes. They were also upset because all the deserts were the same with just different colored icing. The food was horrible in all restaurants because we tried them all trying to find something fit to eat. This is the only cruise line we have ever been on that we LOST weight. The productions shows were good and the costumes were beautiful. The were four African men who were acrobats. They were truly wonderful. The magician and illusionist were acceptable. One night there was no show at all and three nights the show consisted entirely of groups which played every night in the atrium lounge. These three nights were poorly attended since we saw them every night anyway when passing by the atrium. The Entertainment (Animation) Team on MSC really work hard and extremely long hours. These young people were no exception. They danced with passengers every single evening until 1 or 2 am. They had Italian lessons, trivia games, crazy games, dance lessons, etc. From nine in the morning until two am they were very visible and working hard. They truly made this voyage bearable. The cruise director on the other hand was very aloof and seldom said anything to the passengers. The ships lounge performers were generally good. We especially liked the Popcorn Band and their singer, Romanica. She has a truly lovely voice and is very friendly and outgoing. On our other cruises you could not get on the ship or go into an eating facility without a crew member squirting you with hand sanitizer. Imagine our surprise when we cannot even find the sanitizer on deck 13 four four days. It was behind a door. Quite often when getting back on the ship or entering the dining room the hand sanitizer was empty. There was never any crew in sight the entire trip checking on this. At one point I asked a crew member for the hand sanitizer, he sent me to the toilet. It took about three hours to get onto the ship and nearly six hours to get off. They ran us out of our rooms at 7AM (which was a first for us) and gathered all 3K+ into two small bars and then the Captain did not have some type of paperwork that America requires and we waited nearly six hours to get off. That is with no water, food or anything else and no place for all of us to sit. We were sitting on the stairs, laying in the floor, sitting on the bar and nearly hanging from the rafters. Children were irritable, crying...it was a fiasco. and I could go on and on but I bet you are tired of reading by now. However, the itinerary was great and off the ship we saw a lot of good stuff. We made several good friends and they helped to make the trip from becoming a complete disaster. So if you want to punish your friends and get even with your enemies..send them on an MSC CRUISE LINE FOR A FEW DAYS. Not us though, we will never cruise MSC again. The nicest people on the ship were both working on Deck 13. There names are Arie from Bali and Miriam from Peru. This was our first MSC Cruise and although we cruise at least twice yearly and sometimes more. This will be our last MSC Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
We are a Brazilian couple ,mid 50', restaurant owners in Rio who loved to work and sail. This sail with MSC Musica ,Transatlantic (Venice-Rio de Janeiro november 08) was ours 26th cruise , the first and the last with that company . ... Read More
We are a Brazilian couple ,mid 50', restaurant owners in Rio who loved to work and sail. This sail with MSC Musica ,Transatlantic (Venice-Rio de Janeiro november 08) was ours 26th cruise , the first and the last with that company . Since Rio is a bit far from Europe we normally traveled some days before to have a car looking for scenic drive to the ports we will sail , so this time we came from Munich and drove to Sirmione ,Italy and then San Casciano in Tuscany for 6 days trip trough these beautiful parts of Italy. On the last day we drove from San Casciano to Venice ,2,5 hours drive , We arrived on the day before in Mestre (beside Venice) at Novotel(EU$95) Mestre is less than 7 miles from Venice, returned the car easily near the port at Piazza Roma . Embarkation- i never forgot a maxim I've heard " you never had a second chance to cause a first impression " and embarkation was CHAOS . We arrived 11,30hs and there was thousands of people waiting on huge unorganized lines , checking was suppose to start at 13,00hs,then we decided to leave ours hand luggage on a locker at the pier and return to Venice to enjoy of this marvelous city ,Venice. We return at 16,00hs and waited another half hour on line, and we heard the history of people fainting , carnal foughts, the worst checking we ve ever seen ,every guest we`ve met was horrified with that poor service. Ship and cabin- No one took us to our cabin , our cabin was on the very best of the stern ,small and dirt balcony ,average bathroom size , small and few wardrobes, outworn carpets, and chairs , shampoo and soap , no conditioner , no moisture cream. robes were available good ones, 20`LCD Tv, and a mini bar, decor was not bad . The ship does not have a nice atrium , only 3 floors high ,with a piano on the middle , stores were little and unfriendly (no refunds , no exchanges). 2 pools (salt water) was ok ,with 4 dirty jacuzzis , small area for mini golf ,sports, excellent chairs with shades for faces, but again you had to wake up early in order to reserve your chair ,specially when you travelled with German people . Ridiculous Gym academy , 6 trades mills for a 3600 passenger ship !2 bicycles , but a big saloon for paying activities , small audience for that, no sauna unless you pay a us$ 30 a day for use the spa facility , sauna , Turkish bath , and 2 small private jacuzzis . Theater was ok , not the shows ! restaurants was nice , 2 different decors , there were 2 specials restaurants us$ 30 cover charge pp, one Chinese always empty , and another "Italian" on the same place of the buffet is served on lunch !always empty too. some "nothing specials lounges" and thats it , not too many places to go or stay , minimum library, minimum cigar room ,12 computers for internet , small casino and a very classic decoration , which you will forget on the next day you will disembark, the common areas were well maintained . Service- As i said no one took us to cabin on embarkation, than on the very first day in the dining room the waiter and his helper did not salute us , not even a good evening ! then we decided to change table , a better waiter helped us during the cruise , we ve heard that more than 50 waiters embarked with us in Venice , and the cruise director and others managers embarked in the next day ,since the old ones quit ! The day we ate at the special restaurant we ve waited 3 hours to be served , there was only 2 tables to be served ! ours room steward need 4 days to understand that we wanted ice in the room ,more hangers , and more blankets , after that she only forgot small details as soaps, towels etc. we had to call twice reception for help with her . Reception desk was ok depending who attends you , lotto for a nice person to help you. I wrote a letter for Mr Franco a food and beverage manager and got no answer, although the Maitre D´assure he received the letter , so this was service. Food and Beverage- Would you believe they prohibited waiters to serve water on the tables!!!! in order to sell mineral water , I've never saw a small attitude like that in any ship we've sailed , people were offended with this. Breakfast was the same , bread , eggs, omelettes ,cold cuts, fresh fruit (good), but no salmon , milk and coffee needed to be served by waiters, I've heard people complaining about the milk quality . lunch in the main restaurant was less worst than in buffet , 3 salads plus tomatoes , lettuce and carrots thats it, sometime some cucumber. hanburgers and hot dog fries,and some hot stews, everything second class quality . dinner was better although rarely beef or a steak , everyday they said you can have salmon , chicken or beef , made me laugh when we ordered beef , it was like a"carpaccio" so thin it was , no comments. bread and butter was the best part , desserts and ice creams were surprisingly good . There was also a midnight buffet , we only attended the chocolate one , it was good , also they served tea , with 2 kinds of sandwiches ,and some sweets, no tea available during the day . also room service was charged and with small selection too. Ports- Were ok , Bari, Tenerife, Malta, Funchal, Malaga, Recife, Salvador we did not took any excursions since we ve been before to those places , excursion were an average of us$ 130 ! Shows and entertainment- No live orchestra , only play back ! , same show always ,6 females dancers and 4 mens , 45´minutes shows, second sitting shows at 23,30hs . No live band on pool although weather was fine, plenty of live music on board in internal areas , good brazilians musicians playing. Entertainment were led by a transvestite looking boy would you belive it ? Kids games on pool ! some stretching classes and dancing lessons too. There was a huge Screen showing only MSC ads ! instead of films and shows . Also you have too pay to watch movies on your cabin , during the 5 days transatlantic crossing we had nothing to watch on tv except companies ads, not even music ! Disembarkation- It was surprisingly good , no cues ,we easy found ours luggage, on time too . Conclusion- If you have ever sailed with Celebrity,Royal Caribbean, holland or Princess and also Carnival you will be extremely disappointed with MSC , although theirs prices are almost the same , don't go , but if you are a first timer and had no point of comparison ,than you will not probably notice those points I've mentioned and could enjoy more than we did. For us never more MSC. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
The ship is absolutely beautiful. The public rooms are simply and tastefully furnished, sleek and very stylish. There are a number of delightful bars and lounges throughout the ship, some bars have music; others offer peace and quiet. ... Read More
The ship is absolutely beautiful. The public rooms are simply and tastefully furnished, sleek and very stylish. There are a number of delightful bars and lounges throughout the ship, some bars have music; others offer peace and quiet. There are a few shops, but the choice of the merchandise is poor and expensive. There are two main restaurants and two á-la-carte restaurants. There is a large theatre on two levels. The seats are spacious and comfortable and wherever you choose to sit the view is good. The Musica is a dream to travel in - there is hardly any motion as she glides effortlessly through the ocean. Health/Safety/Hygiene - this area concerned me greatly - the safety drill was a nonsense and did not appear to me to be taken seriously. The event was planned half an hour before the first sitting dinner on the second day. Several guests left before the drill was finished, no doubt to get ready for dinner. Others appeared to be falling asleep whilst the drill was conducted in 6 languages and others just chattered amongst themselves. I dread to think of what chaos and mayhem there would have been in the eventuality of a real emergency. There was a big outbreak of a chesty type flu on board, passengers were going down with it from quite early in the cruise. This was a particularly nasty bug, both myself and my husband were affected by it in the last few days if the cruise and two weeks on we still both have it. The speed this virus went around really opened my eyes to the importance of hygiene standards. To help reduce the spread of viruses and infection I think that there could have been better use of hand sanitizers. The ship was equipped with hand sanitizers, but not enough of them. For instance they were not located at every entrance to the restaurants. We have been on other ships where it has been obligatory to use the hand sanitizers on entering the ship from port and entering any eating area. It is my feeling that MSC were only paying lip service to any ruling that states that they must provide hand sanitizing units. Dining - this was without doubt my biggest disappointment. The food was the worst I had encountered on any cruise ship. I was not looking for haute cuisine or fine dining just good Italian tucker, similar to what we had previously experienced on the Opera and Lirica. The food style on the Musica is not Italian; it was a multi cultural mish-mash - one night Oriental, another Spanish, another Mexican and so on all intermixed in a European fusion, for instance one night a choice was sweet and sour pork served with mashed potato. Meat was generally tough, on one occasion the waiter asked why I had not eaten the pork,I told him it was too tough and he said that I should have killed the pig first! Another time the waiter agreed with us that the steak was only fit for shoe leather. Generally speaking the food was not cooked well, it was always served tepid and with a total lack of presentation. The only thing that made going to dinner worth while was our delightful table companions who always seemed to make us laugh, usually about the food. I still have the picture in my mind of an escargot starter, it was unimaginatively called escargot in pastry and when it arrived at looked like a Cornish Pasty, only instead of the meat filling it had two lonely snails tucked in the pastry. The service in the restaurant was also poor, although there were a few waiters who were worth their weight in gold. We found one Romanian waiter who was great and we aimed to get a table in his area for lunch and breakfast when ever we could. A vast number of the waiting staff were new with little or no silver service experience. We were also told that some of the chefs were new - this may explain the poor food but does not excuse it. The food in the buffet was just ok in as much that you could help yourself to exactly what you wanted, but it was always cold by the time you got it back to your table. The buffet was always busy and generally a complete bun-fight. We did not try any of the á-la-carte dining options, feeling that if the food was in general poor was it going to be any better if we paid $30 a head extra for it? Activities & Entertainment - The entertainment team worked very hard organizing stretching exercises, aerobics and various games and demonstrations throughout the day. In the evenings there was plenty going on to cater for all musical tastes ranging from classical to rock. There were also a number of fun events, Miss Musica, a Grease evening, tropical parties on deck, etc. The shows in the theatre were not to my personal taste but a lot of people that I spoke to really enjoyed them. Excursions - There is an excursions office on board where you can book tours. The staff have very little knowledge about the tours or the destinations that you are about to visit. On the whole the excursions were very expensive, especially in the Europe. We were familiar with most of the European ports and were happy to do our own thing. Some destinations had a hop-on hop-off bus: we always find that these tourist buses are a good way of familiarizing yourself with a new area. They often go to the same places as the excursion bus and are a fraction of the price. The South American ports were new territory to us and we felt that we would be safer to go on the organized tour. We booked half days trips for Recife, Salvador and full day trips for Rio and Sao Paulo. The only tour worth doing was the full day in Rio which took in all the main sights (albeit in the pouring rain) - The half day tours in Recife and Salvador were poor value for money. Disembarkation at Santos was embarkation in reverse - complete mayhem. We had to vacate our cabins at 7am. At 11am we were still waiting in one of the ships lounges to be allowed off the ship. By 11.30am we were pushing and shoving with everyone else to find our luggage, there were people trying to get from one end of the baggage hall to the other, all going in different directions struggling with cases (no trolleys). As our flight to London was not until 18.15 we had decided that it would be a good idea to book a full day Sao Paulo City tour with lunch which would terminate at Sao Paulo airport in time for us to check in for our flight home. The excursion bus did not leave the cruise terminal until almost midday, the guide told us that there would not be enough time for the tour, she would take us to a restaurant for lunch and then straight to the airport. Having paid $75 each for this excursion we will be expecting a refund from MSC. In summary this was a 19 day repositioning cruise starting in Venice and calling in to Bari, Malta, Malaga, Funchal and Tenerife, Recife, Salvador, Rio and finishing in Santos. We were attracted by the interesting itinerary and the 6 day Atlantic crossing. Being a repositioning cruise at a good price we expected there would be some new staff joining the ship but we had no idea that it would be so many (rumor has it that it was 400+) and we did expect them to have had some basic training. It seems that the 19 day cruise was their training. The ship although too big for my own personal taste, is elegant and beautiful and extremely comfortable. The big let down for me was the food and service, which was just not good enough and therefore although the actual cruise was good value for money the food and service spoiled the holiday. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
We traveled from our home to San Diego by car and flew out to Ft. Lauderdale on Sat. We spent the night in a motel and the next morning we were met by our daughter who lives in West Palm Beach. We spent the morning with her and then ... Read More
We traveled from our home to San Diego by car and flew out to Ft. Lauderdale on Sat. We spent the night in a motel and the next morning we were met by our daughter who lives in West Palm Beach. We spent the morning with her and then shuttled to the ship for boarding. When we got to the Infinity there was a huge line down the street and around the corner of the building. We checked our bags and got in line. After 2 1/2 hours of standing in line and moving at a snails pace we finally boarded the ship. We initially booked a balcony room on the 6th deck but had upgraded to the 9th deck a week before the cruise. We entered our cabin 9197 and were pleasantly surprise as to the large size room we had and huge veranda. The room was the last one on the port side at the rear of the ship. Whatever you do, do not take a room on the 9th deck at the rear of the ship. The deck above us was the restaurant with a wooden deck and from 5AM to 10 PM the noise was terrible from the scraping and banging from the chairs and tables. After complaining for five days they offered us another room next to ours. (Our neighbors next to us also were moved to another room.) This room was much smaller so they finally said we could sleep in the new room and use the big one for day use and the large veranda. This worked out fine. The veranda provided an excellent location for going thru the Panama Canal. Our first port was George Town, Grand Cayman and we took a tour that we booked thru the ship. It was an excellent tour of the Island and we learned a lot of the history of the island. The tour was The Best of the Caymans. The next port was Cartegena, Columbia. We went ashore there and only did a little shopping and was back aboard ship in two hours. I purchased a Panama Hat which I had wanted for some time. From there we headed for the Panama Canal. I had gone thru the canal years ago from the Pacific to the Caribbean so this was the trip in the opposite direction. We spent the whole day on our veranda taking pictures and thoroughly enjoyed the passage in spite of some rain squalls. If you have not been thru the canal before I highly recommend it. It is a fantastic sight and the history is wonderful. On to Puntarenas, Costa Rica. We took an outstanding tour, The Pacific Train, Boat and Bus Adventure. The highlight was a boat ride on a river to see the crocodiles and birds. The train ride was aboard one of the oldest small trains in Costa Rica. It was a noisy bumpy ride but was a lot of fun. We saw the back country and back yards of number of shanties. Huatulco, Mexico was our next port. We went ashore and walked around town . We came across a street restaurant with an open kitchen to the eating area and stopped in. The food was excellent and so was the cerveza! Two more ports, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas where we went ashore for a little shopping but did not do much. Back to ship. Rating the meals in the main dining room, I can only say fair. Most of our meals were only luke warm and one dinner the fish was half raw. We had lobster one evening where they only gave us 1/2 a tail and some of the lobster at our table was very soft like mush. This was our 8th cruise and we were not happy with the main dining. We did eat twice in the specialty restaurant, S.S. United States. The food there was outstanding along with the personal. The room stewart, waiters and all the people working on the ship were outstanding. I didn't go to any shows but my wife did and she thought they were excellent also. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Sanitation: poor. We departed Venice on Oct. 23, 2008, for the 17-day cruise and it wasn't until Oct. 27 that passengers were notified the GI virus had infected passengers on the preceding cruise. By that time the virus was ... Read More
Sanitation: poor. We departed Venice on Oct. 23, 2008, for the 17-day cruise and it wasn't until Oct. 27 that passengers were notified the GI virus had infected passengers on the preceding cruise. By that time the virus was spreading on our cruise and hundreds of passengers became ill. The extensive but belated efforts to encourage hand washing should have been initiated the first day we boarded and passengers should have been IMMEDIATELY informed of the virus danger. Being sick or weak from the illness for nearly one-third of the cruise took much of the enjoyment out of our trip. And it was insulting to hear the repeated announcements that such shipboard virus outbreaks are common. They are not, and this was the first cruise we have been on where there was such an outbreak. It was amusing that we were diverted from our scheduled port stop at Half Moon Cay because another Holland America ship was there, and instead docked at Nassau, where four or five cruise ships from other cruise lines were docked. Apparently infecting them was of no concern. Food: inconsistent quality. Sometimes the beef was wonderful, other times it was so tough it couldn't be cut with a knife. The veal would be good one time and awful the next. The baked goods (as cookies) were only fair. The dining room food often arrived cold (as did the room service coffee) and service was very slow. Overall the food quality was not nearly as good as on our previous cruises. Passengers: there were more poorly dressed passengers than we have ever seen before (such as one man wearing a tee-shirt in the dining room on formal night). Perhaps because of airline luggage restrictions cruise ships may have to entirely give up on any dress code. There seemed to be less courtesy among the passengers than usual, perhaps because of the virus. Entertainment: very good variety and quality. Embarkation/Debarkation: Both were very poorly organized. Hurriedly dumping 1,800 passengers into a processing building which had only two immigration inspectors to handle us was ridiculous. Apparently Holland America wanted to begin a belated thorough disinfecting process ASAP before the next cruise passengers boarded. One report was that their scheduled morning boarding was delayed until 11 p.m.! (I wonder if the cleaning helped?) Laundry service: slow, and my $80 shirt had a hole punched in it. The cost for unlimited service was $120! But with no self-service laundry, there is not much alternative (unless you enjoy wearing dirty clothing or spending a lot of time washing in your cabin). On-board shops: average. Prices of course are almost always better for the same items in the ports, if you can find them. Cabin: The heating/cooling vent in the ceiling blows directly in your face, and if you have sinus problems this can be very uncomfortable. We taped it partially shut to divert the airflow. Our cabin was on the Navigation Deck, immediately below the Lido Deck swimming pool and outside bar dining area at the stern of the ship. The deck of our balcony was constantly soaked with water, apparently from the crew washing the deck immediately above us. The noise from the cleaning crew moving tables and chairs on the Lido Deck woke us up daily between 5 and 7 a.m. I would not recommend this cabin location, and wave motion would have been less felt on a lower deck. The cabin furnishings were worn, dirty and needed replacing. The bed was very comfortable. The day before we docked two crew members (not our room steward) knocked very briefly and then barged in on my wife in bed before she could reply, to empty the refrigerator. Interior stairways: They only have about a 10.5 inch horizontal surface, and can often cause mis-steps/falls. Poor design. Port stops: Average; it would have been nice to have visited Mykonos, Rhodes or Santorini. But of course we knew the itinerary in advance. Venice was great as always. Crew courtesy: excellent, under difficult circumstances. Both the cabin and dining room stewards are greatly overworked, probably another sign of cost-cutting by Holland America. Our hard-working cabin steward, for example, was responsible for about 30 cabins. Summary: Will we cruise Holland America again? Doubtful; probably back to Cunard. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
We sailed HAL for the first time on the Zuiderdam, transatlantic, Venice - Ft. Lauderdale. It was the cruise from "Hell" for us. Embarkation of 1800 folks was chaotic.. hurry and wait, hurry and wait.. Just imagine folks ... Read More
We sailed HAL for the first time on the Zuiderdam, transatlantic, Venice - Ft. Lauderdale. It was the cruise from "Hell" for us. Embarkation of 1800 folks was chaotic.. hurry and wait, hurry and wait.. Just imagine folks in a warehouse with 10 - 20 counters checking you in and my wife and I with advanced "registration". The number of people on canes, walkers and "scooters" was impressive although we are not of that disability.. we appreciated the older folks who dared the transatlantic crossing. Our basis of comparison was six other cruises, including a transatlantic cruise on the QE II before she was purchased as a hotel. We even bought Carnival stock during the cruise, thinking that we would take advantage of the rumored discount if you owned Carnival stock for our future cruises. As we finally entered our stateroom (not ready when we boarded - but Lido Buffet allowed us to sit and have lunch and buy the $200 wine package) we noted, casually, a letter of "welcome" telling us about previous incidents of "norovirus" and advising us to wash hands frequently from day one. By day five, the buffet had saran wrap closing it in, all trays, silverware, etc. were handed to the guests by ship employees; all salt and pepper was removed and meal service in the dining room slowed to 1 1/2 to 2 hours (including breakfast).. public restrooms were considered off limits and "code red" was in effect. Our $250 thermal package which included the spa pool and thermal rooms were closed and we watched them scrub and clean these areas due to an out of control virus.. Rooms that reported the norovirus were specially handled with masked employees - cleaned and sanitized.. it was reported there were 300 passengers who fell to the virus. Our problems occurred when my wife was tossed into the bathtub during the one day of rough seas with "possible cracked ribs" according to the ship's doctor and the last six hours of the cruise when both of us contracted the norovirus. The nurse came twice during the night, administered a shot and medication to me and scolded my wife for waiting so long to report the symptoms. The virus was a severe case of "Montezuma's Revenge" that I've had in Mexico. It was as if a hand was grasping my intestines and squeezing them with the resulting diarrhea and vomiting for 4 hours. Since it was at the end of the voyage our stateroom was quarantined prior to disembarkation and we were gather with others separately and I was wheeled off the ship, through immigration, customs and onto the bus to Ft.Lauderdale airport where I was wheeled through Ft. Lauderdale, Cincinnati and St. Louis Missouri airports. I was absolutely debilitated and I had trouble holding up my head. We followed up with HAL in Seattle. We had already deposited and schedule our transatlantic crossing on the Eurodam for April, 2009 and have requested full refund of our deposit and reimbursement for costs of getting to departure gates at the various airports in November, 2008. We're anxious to see how HAL recognize our "pain and suffering" during out sixth cruise. We did find many experienced travelers on HAL, the ones we interacted with, were disappointed and said this was not up to HAL standards. Perhaps staff is less available given the cost cutting. Our cabin person confessed that he no long was responsible for 15 cabins but rather 30 as of this crossing. Our stateroom was cleaned and readied by 4 p.m. daily. I'm afraid that this Zuiderdam experience has queered our future sailings. We will think long and hard before we take any other cruise during our lifetimes. We have heard recently that the Regency Cruise Lines is expensive but worth the extra - no "nickle and dime" pestering for drinks and extras as we felt was the case on the Zuiderdam. Our ship board charges amounted to over $2,000 in addition to the cruise and air costs. We learned that many others paid far LESS for similar ship accommodations which was disappointing since we had deposited and reserved six months in advance and thought that we had be treated well. Little did we know that certain charter groups from Canada especially, were attracted by extreme bargain cruise and charter air prices. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
First, I must say that this is only the second time we have cruised on Carnival.The first time was out of Miami some years ago. Carnival at that time had a reputation for appealing to the masses,rowdy/less discriminating crowd and on that ... Read More
First, I must say that this is only the second time we have cruised on Carnival.The first time was out of Miami some years ago. Carnival at that time had a reputation for appealing to the masses,rowdy/less discriminating crowd and on that cruise they lived up to their reputation.Enough said,we avoided sailing with them,and cruised many times with other cruise lines. In Oct 2008 we booked a Carnival Cruise thinking that since this was a transatlantic cruise things might be different.They were as far as the passengers go.We were right as far as avoiding the loudmouth crazies but the cruise left much to be desired. The best things first : Our Spa suite on deck 10 was very nice & spacious. One deck below the spa/gym/health facilities and our cabin staff were very good.But after so many days the same asian ethereal theme music which was even piped outside to the adjacent sun deck became a bit too much. Overall ship decor is OVERWHELMING to say the least, garish......It looks like someone went wild designing on a pink & black LSD trip , parts look like the decor in an old fashioned Chinese restaurant. Dining rooms as well. Wait until one sees the gigantic asian mythical creatures hanging over the spa pool! Speaking of dining.....we had requested early seating and were assigned late seating.It was a BIG hassle to get it changed. Food.....breakfast.....lots of stuff prepared ahead of time...poached eggs came out of a machine cookie cutter and were cool each time. Food...lunch.....none!! well,not quite....dining room is not open for lunch.....only the buffet... and not all parts are open for the buffet at the same time. In fact the buffet is openly encouraged for ALL meals.I suppose it's easier to have the passengers feed themselves rather then wait on them.Be careful walking if there is any moisture on the marble floors in the buffet..... Food..dinner...some very good,some just mediocre , nothing really excellent .....enough with the flat iron steak..tasteless, Tomato pasta sauce much too salty....not enough variety,too much repetition in the menu. The last several days of the cruise the dining room starting running out of stuff.....orange juice, grapefruit juice etc. The wait staff was satisfactory. Entertainment........DULL DULL DULL......Just one decent show. The others were nothing to write home about....the Cruise Director was a very young fellow named Goose..very obvious he had zero experience in that capacity. Give Goose the goose! It became obvious after several days that we didn't have to read the daily activity paper.Activities were the the same every day and repeated day after day on the cabin TV. The niteclub/bar music was ok,just that..ok Few areas on the ship to get away from noise.If the center skydome was open,the giant movie screen/music permeated out to the sun decks. BTW ...decking extremely slippery when wet...need some nonskid paint..maybe after the first lawsuit. Never saw the captain....the officer staff seemed to be non-existent. We'll stick with Celebrity Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
First, I must say that this is only the second time we have cruised on Carnival.The first time was out of Miami some years ago. Carnival at that time had a reputation for appealing to the masses,rowdy/less discriminating crowd and on that ... Read More
First, I must say that this is only the second time we have cruised on Carnival.The first time was out of Miami some years ago. Carnival at that time had a reputation for appealing to the masses,rowdy/less discriminating crowd and on that cruise they lived up to their reputation.Enough said,we avoided sailing with them,and cruised many times with other cruise lines. In Oct 2008 we booked a Carnival Cruise thinking that since this was a transatlantic cruise things might be different.They were as far as the passengers go.We were right as far as avoiding the loudmouth crazies but the cruise left much to be desired. The best things first : Our Spa suite on deck 10 was very nice & spacious. One deck below the spa/gym/health facilities and our cabin staff were very good.But after so many days the same asian ethereal theme music which was even piped outside to the adjacent sun deck became a bit too much. Overall ship decor is OVERWHELMING to say the least, garish......It looks like someone went wild designing on a pink & black LSD trip , parts look like the decor in an old fashioned Chinese restaurant. Dining rooms as well. Wait until one sees the gigantic asian mythical creatures hanging over the spa pool! Speaking of dining.....we had requested early seating and were assigned late seating.It was a BIG hassle to get it changed. Food.....breakfast.....lots of stuff prepared ahead of time...poached eggs came out of a machine cookie cutter and were cool each time. Food...lunch.....none!! well,not quite....dining room is not open for lunch.....only the buffet... and not all parts are open for the buffet at the same time. In fact the buffet is openly encouraged for ALL meals.I suppose it's easier to have the passengers feed themselves rather then wait on them.Be careful walking if there is any moisture on the marble floors in the buffet..... Food..dinner...some very good,some just mediocre , nothing really excellent .....enough with the flat iron steak..tasteless, Tomato pasta sauce much too salty....not enough variety,too much repetition in the menu. The last several days of the cruise the dining room starting running out of stuff.....orange juice, grapefruit juice etc. The wait staff was satisfactory. Entertainment........DULL DULL DULL......Just one decent show. The others were nothing to write home about....the Cruise Director was a very young fellow named Goose..very obvious he had zero experience in that capacity. Give Goose the goose! It became obvious after several days that we didn't have to read the daily activity paper.Activities were the the same every day and repeated day after day on the cabin TV. The niteclub/bar music was ok,just that..ok Few areas on the ship to get away from noise.If the center skydome was open,the giant movie screen/music permeated out to the sun decks. BTW ...decking extremely slippery when wet...need some nonskid paint..maybe after the first lawsuit. Never saw the captain....the officer staff seemed to be non-existent. We'll stick with Celebrity Read Less
Sail Date October 2008

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