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5,882 Repositioning Cruise Reviews

This was my very first cruise back in 1997. I noticed that they didn't show the port we embarked at which was Puerto Rico nor was they year available but I was determined to see St. Lucia's Marigot Bay where they filmed the ... Read More
This was my very first cruise back in 1997. I noticed that they didn't show the port we embarked at which was Puerto Rico nor was they year available but I was determined to see St. Lucia's Marigot Bay where they filmed the 1960's version of 'Dr. Dolittle' with Rex Harrison (after attending 6 yrs of vet med and dreaming of becoming a doctor since I was 5 and when the movie came out...I was about 7 and knew it would be a veterinarian because of it lol.) We drove from New Orleans to Miami to visit family before we fly to Puerto Rico to board. This went well enough but living in Vegas for a year...my first impression was that it was as gaudy as the casinos :P No matter. It was about the ports of call and although I felt like a kindergartener getting off a bus for a field trip...I was pleased by all the different places you could see in a 1 or 2 weeks on these things! As bikers, we are used to a lot of freedom so being cramped in what we called a sardine can and having to dine at the same place at a certain time didn't appeal to us. Nor having to come in from play at certain times but all in all...the trip to St. Lucia with its Pitons, Harley rentals in Guadeloupe, and the spice island of Grenada (which also had a vet med there) was worth it (we didn't care for the us virgin islands or other places...we are rain forest, hiking trails, waterfall buffs. I had a beach house anyway so laying on a beach wasn't a vacation to me at that time). I didn't cruise again until last year. Twice. Now it will be twice this year! I am gaining more knowledge on how to use the ship's facilities, book my own excursions if they are sold out or have nothing appealing, make sure we are in a large balcony at minimum, and dining alternatives (although the busy carpeting is an eye sore lol) and realizing the value of these types of vacations!!!! You can't stay at the holiday inn down the road and eat at fast food joints for these prices!! And really....although bikers will say that it is all about the journey....sometimes I'd prefer to dig the destinations :))))) All in all...I wish I did these cruises more when I was younger. I am partial to carnival because of the king bed and a bit larger rooms but would like to try other ships. I believe for the value though...I'll always be loyal to Carnival :) Looking back now that I am older and wiser now Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
My wife and I were married this past August. We had been planning our honeymoon for over a year before I even proposed. Of course we had planned an amazing month long adventure with the crossing only being a small portion of it. As thing ... Read More
My wife and I were married this past August. We had been planning our honeymoon for over a year before I even proposed. Of course we had planned an amazing month long adventure with the crossing only being a small portion of it. As thing came closer to needing to finalize what we going to do, most of our trip had been eliminated for various reason, and the crossing became more of the reason to go to London than anything. After reading alot of the reviews on here we decided to take the crossing from Southampton to NY as we'd get just a little more time on the boat (an extra hour a day). After dealing with some transportation headaches getting to Southampton, and a horrible hotel stay the night before our voyage, we arrived at the dock. Not much to look at there, but you're not expected to. Our boarding time wasn't until 3pm but needed to be out of our hotel room by 11am so we figured we'd hang around the dock and maybe take a stroll into the somewhat nearby city for lunch. Didn't have time for that however as we went to check in and they sent us right on into the boat. That was a very nice little bit. Neither of us were really ready for the photo that was taken right before boarding the ship as we had that horrid night sleep and just disheveled. As soon as we set foot onto the ship it was breathe taking. Really big WOW factor. We were ushered to an elevator by some nice porters, and directed to where our room was when we reached our floor. The room was amazing for the amount of money we paid (I think it was $2k with a non-obstructed balcony for each of us) with a good bottle of champagne chilling in some water. We ha just stepped out to look at the port from out balcony when our porter knocked on the door with our luggage. This really countered a lot of other reviews I had read here. Once unpacked we headed down to the Golden Lion Pub to grab our drink cards (seriously a must for those who drink a lot of soda), which don't count for in room soda's by the way. There we met Sydnee who pretty much became our bartender from that moment on. Great guy with a good attitude. ~Dining~ When time for dinner came, we got dressed up and headed down to the dining room. We opted for the second dinner as we are both late people and the early dinner was just too early for us. That first meal honestly put a proved alot of the negative comments I've read here about the service. My wife and I showed up on time but were forced to wait until our table mates showed up to order. Normally not an issue, but they showed up right before the stopped taking orders (about an hour into dinner). We decided that we wouldn't be doing the dining room again at that point. The food was pretty darn good, but the wait staff was just too over worked. The Kings court was actually one of our favorite places. It was great for breakfast and afternoon tea. Occasionally we had lunch there and one night we did the "Chef's Galley," where they close The Grill and turn it into a demonstration kitchen. You have to make reservations for this, so do it as soon as get in your room. The menu is themed and different every night. My wife and I went to the Indian night, at which point we realized we didn't really care for indian. We tried to make reservations for the next night but it, and every following night, were completely booked. Another option is the Kings Court for dinner where they close off the different sections, except one which still offers buffet style, and they become small restaurants. We made a reservation for one of these but ended up not caring for the menu that night and went on to try the dining room again. This time the service and food were much better. The wait staff had even realized we were gone and apologized for the service the first night. We ended up eating in there every night after that.~Fun~ Being as we are both fairly young, it was somewhat hard to fin stuff to do during the day. This wasn't too much of an issue as we are both late sleepers. When we did wake up we would go to the pub, look through the shops (which are pretty good), go to the planetarium and/or a movie, or just explore the ship (I took about 800 photos) which is massive. The movie experience wasn't great. They were all movies one could get on dvd (and they were DVD's), and they had some issues getting it to play right from time to time. The casino was pretty fun for those that are into that kind of thing. My wife and I had more fun with the coin push machine more than anything. They seemed to have alot of gambling related events which might have been fun if our pocket books were fuller. Either way it was a good place to hang out, have a cigarette, and look out onto the waves. ~Weather~ The weather wasn't too great for outdoor events most of the time. It was cold and rainy and a few days into the journey we hit a terrible storm. Almost the entire ship stayed in their rooms that day. We had severe grade wave that rocked the ship pretty bad. Aside from that, as we were told my many that kind of storm was extremely rare, the sheer speed that the ship travels makes it hard to do much outside. Once we came close to the U.S., the weather warmed up pretty quick and sitting in the pool became reasonable. The theater shows were really much better than I had expected. The rock/opera medley they did was extremely good. The dance review was also great. We both wished they offered more though. The Golden Lion was another great place to hang out. We didn't have much of a chance to visit the other bars though as we had grown too fond of the Golden Lion. Like one of the other reviewers said, the Commodore's Club looks very much like 10 forward from Star Trek TNG. One night we ended up in the pub during a Karaoke night. Initially we were put off by it, as we aren't karaoke people, but a few minutes into staying there, we were singing along with everyone. It was honestly one of the best moments of the voyage. ~Cost~ The cost of onboard things was what we had expected. Generally it was over priced, but so is everything at Disneyland. The stuff at the duty free shop was pretty well priced though, and I regret not getting more stuff. The souvenirs weren't too bad. Buy them later in the cruise and you'll save a few bucks. The photos and dvd from the journey were pretty horrible though. Especially when you know they're just digital photos. If you buy multiple things though you do get a small break. If you are a smoker, the cigarettes are amazingly cheap (especially if you're from NY or CA). The booze was pretty pricey though, though not as baas I had expected. My wife doesn't drink or drive so I rarely have the chance to enjoy a drink while we're out. This was something I had been looking forward to while on the ship. I didn't get to do it too much though because the cost of a drink was a little high, aside from beer which I don't drink. We were worried after reading a lot of the reviews that our budget might be too small for the ship, but we walked away with only a bill of under $100. It can be done cheaper if you don't get the drink cards, $34 each, don't take any sodas from the in room fridge, go up to the purser right away and take off the automatic daily gratuity, don't charge anything to your room, and don't drink. Granted all of that is hard, but it can be done.~Final Thoughts~ All in all we both had the time of our lives. We knew we were going to need the relaxation of the voyage after our few days in London, and were very right on that fact. There was no real rush for anything. Initially I was pretty concerned with the dinner dress code thing, but that's really not that bad. All the staff was really great and friendly. The decor of the ship and rooms was fantastic. We are already planning another trip aboard the QM2 for this summer. The key to enjoying this voyage is to just enjoy it. Not many people today get the chance, or want the chance, to take this historic crossing. If you find something that does not appeal to you, find something else to do. A lot of people, including ourselves, get hung up in one area of the ship and forget that the thing is huge. Explore. As a final thought, don't let the adds fool you. There are plenty of younger people on the boat. We believed that we would be surrounded by 50+ year old people, but that was not the case. It was a good mix of ages, though yes, leaning towards the older crowd. There is a limited amount of purely young person activities though, but that is not this ship's target market. There is an arcade (remember those?), though we never were able to find it. -Jim Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
HAL used to be our favourite Cruise Line. We have cruised 9 times, last 3 of those with HAL. When we boarded ship in Copenhagen we noticed at once service had changed for the worst: we were the charges of very green (or very lazy) crew ... Read More
HAL used to be our favourite Cruise Line. We have cruised 9 times, last 3 of those with HAL. When we boarded ship in Copenhagen we noticed at once service had changed for the worst: we were the charges of very green (or very lazy) crew members. The once excellent food was pathetic, many "guests" were returning dishes after just tasting. Of course when something is bad there is a tendency to make you believe it's good by just saying so, and they told us ad nauseum how great the cheff and the food were. Only the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. The attendant kept on serving "guests" the wrong dish and his supervisor got mad at the "guests" not the attendant! The cabin attendant only changed bed linens under duress but was imaginative to invent excuses. As for Shore Excursions, they messed up ours for Scotland. And then,after crossing the No. Atlantic... along came Bill. Hurricane Bill, which was tame enough when it got (almost) near the Eurodam but was qualified by the Skipper as an active "force 5". Soooo, all excursions were cancelled and the beautiful Eurodam took us to small Canadian villages whose charms were either a shopping center or two blocks of shops. They were also cheap ports to dock in... We were told every day that everything done had been done to protect crew and "guests". In fact the overprotected was the ship which is really gorgeous: we "guests" (that helped pay for it) are proud of our deed. The Skipper skipped Sydney but allowed us a taste of modern Canada in lovely Halifax. With one day at sea before port and one after. When I say "the Skipper", I include the line which gave him his instructions. And we have already booked our 2010 cruise... with another line. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
This was my second repositioning cruise and it was great! I opted for the 30 day version thus allowing me to really see Europe. I flew from SFO to Frankfurt Germany to visit some friends in Germany (which was great), I then took the ... Read More
This was my second repositioning cruise and it was great! I opted for the 30 day version thus allowing me to really see Europe. I flew from SFO to Frankfurt Germany to visit some friends in Germany (which was great), I then took the train to Montpellier (I love the 200mph trains!) to stay with some other friends in a little town called Aspiran in the South of France. From there I took the train to Barcelona the day before getting onboard the Emerald Princess. I stayed at the Grand Marina Hotel which is right on the water at the cruise ship piers, it's a 5 star hotel and it's beautiful! The week that I was there the city was having the end of summer festival which was great, there were live bands playing right in front of the hotel, lots of great music and culture going on. The Emerald Princess was (the Ruby Princess has just been launched, November 2008) the newest of the Grand class Princess ships being built in 2007 and its beautiful! Most everything was clean and shiny. The only area that looks worn is on the top deck where the golf course Astroturf is a bit worn. I had an outside cabin on the Emerald deck with a great view between 2 life boats and it was clean and well maintained and the cabin steward was great. The public rooms are great and the ship is easy to navigate. The Princess Theater makes watching the entertainment great wherever you may be sitting. I used the internet cafe almost everyday and rarely had to wait for a terminal. The Food Since I have food allergies I eat both breakfast and lunch at the Horizon Court everyday. For breakfast I usually have fruit and hot cereal of which there is always an abundant supply of fruit, my favorite being the papaya of which you may have to ask for. The fruit was always fresh, ripe and delicious. For lunch I made a huge salad of which there was always a great selection of veggies to choose from. I like to put cranberry sauce on my salad and the Horizon Court staff always made sure I had some everyday. One thing I have found on cruise ships is that you can ask for almost any food item and the staff will get it for you, they almost never say no! One of the great things about this style princess ship is that the Horizon Court is in the back of the ship with plenty of inside seating as well as on the very back you can sit outside on the deck overlooking the pool and the ocean while eating on the bar/railing that has built in stools to sit on. As long as it isn't raining I dine here for every breakfast, lunch and snack for the whole cruise, it's wonderful and scenic (I was on the Golden Princess out of San Francisco on a Mexican Riviera cruise and did the same). For dinner I have always eaten in the Botticelli restaurant at the later seating. This way I don't have to rush to dinner and have the same waiter and table mates each night. All the dinners were great every night. I order a special salad, sautEed vegetables and a yam for each night, while choosing between the various fish, lamb and chicken items. For dessert I either had a bowl of berries, chocolate cake (that they made without eggs for me) or they made me an Apple Tart Tatin. Like I said if you ask they will make it for you. The head waitress and crew were always friendly and efficient, getting me everything I asked for. The Service I found the staff to be very helpful - it seemed every time I turned around there was someone with a name badge asking if they could get me something. Everyone from the Passenger Services Desk to the Deck Crew was willing to go the extra mile to help. My cabin steward had my cabin clean and well stocked all the time and she was always around most every time I was going to or leaving my cabin. The Entertainment The Emerald Princess Dancers did a good job with their shows and the impressionist, special singers, comedians, Lester and Willy (I've seen them on 3 other Princess cruises) and magicians were fabulous! The theater is great from just about any seat and one should be aware that if you sit up in the very front, of which I did for the magician, you have a chance of being asked to come on stage and participate with the performer. The other entertainment was in the Explorer Lounge where I saw the juggler, a comedian and the singer, all the shows were great. Lotus Spa and Gym I hit the gym almost every afternoon - I lift weights rather than do cardio so there were no real problems waiting for the machines. The equipment was enough for me to do maintenance workouts. I was there at 4-5pm and there was never any waiting for equipment. Everything was clean and worked! In the mornings I walked the Promenade deck for an hour everyday at sea to burn some extra calories so I could eat more chocolate cake and since I never use the elevators, I didn't gain a pound on this trip! Excursions I booked tours through Princess for peace of mind regarding schedules and getting back to the ship on time. If it's a Princess tour, they'll wait for you if it's late getting back to the ship. We were always right on schedule, arriving spot on time at every port. We only tendered at one port (Cannes) and it was a breeze, no waiting in line. We were given assembly times for our pre-booked tours and they were orderly and we got off the ship without too much delay. All in all the process was organized and smooth. Disembarkation On the mornings of disembarkation I usually get up eat breakfast and find a nice lounge chair either on top deck if it's nice or down on the promenade deck and wait there for my time disembark. Princesses new disembarkation procedure works beautifully when CUSTOMS has their act together, which they didn't at all. They showed up with 2 agents to handle 3100 passengers. Then they stopped all disembarkation to check some luggage, they finally got 2 more agents and got things going, although it was slow. We all ended up getting off the ship 2 hours later than scheduled, fortunately my flight was at 12:40pm so I had about 45 minutes of time to spare. I heard some people saying they were going to miss their flights because of the delay. I always make sure my flights are later than earlier on disembarkation day. Summary Being on the ship for 30 days was wonderful! As with all other Princess cruises that I have been on, this one was equally enjoyable, you know what you're going to get on a Princess cruise. The staff is always helpful and friendly, the ships are always clean and nice, the food is always great, the atmosphere is always casual and relaxed, the entertainment is always professional and varied, everything is usually always on time and the price is always competitive. I'm already planning my next few cruises (Hawaii in January on the Golden Princess, South Pacific in September on the Star Princess) and yes I will definitely cruise with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
We decided to look for a cruise either to or from Australia in 2007. After searching several sources we decided to book the 30 day cruise on Dawn Princess from San Francisco to Sydney. Even though it was a year in advance the cruise ... Read More
We decided to look for a cruise either to or from Australia in 2007. After searching several sources we decided to book the 30 day cruise on Dawn Princess from San Francisco to Sydney. Even though it was a year in advance the cruise critic roll call had already been very active with a group that had booked a cruise from Australia to the US that had been cancelled. By the time the ship sailed we had some 100 cruise critic folks chatting on line. I volunteered to obtain meeting space and time on the ship for the group to gather 4 times during the cruise. The group name was DAWN DOWN UNDER and we had some name tags and pins available for purchase. To say this group created a lifetime of memories would be an understatement. Our portion of this trip consisted of recruiting 6 other local couples to travel with us. These of people we have travelled with in the past at one time or another. The plans for the trip included a 3 day visit to San Francisco and the surrounding area. I had researched a wine tour that several DAWN DOWN UNDER people booked that they told me they enjoyed. Since my sister-in-law who lives in California is dating a native of the San Francisco area we arranged to have a special sightseeing period with them. The highlights included lunch outside of Sausalito, dinner on the pier at Scoma's, walking the "hills" with stops along the way for wine and Irish Coffee. One afternoon we had lunch in Chinatown. We even got to have drinks at the Top of the Mark with a friend who was in town on business. One of the original organizers of the DAWN DOWN UNDER cruise critic group had booked rooms at a small hotel for less than $100 per night that included meal credits. Since this was during the Oracle convention it was an incredible bargain. She also arrange for a tour bus to take us from the hotel to the pier for a nominal cost. The sail away was picture perfect. After 2 days at sea we had the DAWN DOWN UNDER gift exchange. Some 30 couples from all over the world gathered at 4 PM in the bar reserved for our group. A great time was had by all. After 5 sea days we arrived in Honolulu. We spent most of the day on board ship as we planned to spend two weeks after the cruise back in Honolulu. We did arrange to have dinner with friends of our daughter who was in the Army in Honolulu. They took us to the time share we would be staying after the cruise so I could drop off some very heavy luggage for them to store until we arrived. We had one couple in our group who convinced us to sign up for something Princess calls Chef's Table later in the cruise. This turned out to be one of the highlights of this cruise. I just read another review in cruise critic and this is what prompted me to chime in with our highlights. The next port of call was Kona on the big Island of Hawaii. This is a place where we own a time share and have spent time there almost every year. We have a reservation to visit there in October of 2009 for two weeks so we just walked to the local outdoor Olympic size swimming pool and spent the day swimming in the fresh water. At dinner we all discussed what activities we had participated in during the day. Everyone seemed to enjoy their choice of shore activities during the entire trip. We shared photos and stories a lot. The next stop was supposed to be Christmas Island (Kiritimati) but the Captain explained that the harbor had not been dredged and marked and the docks had not been repaired and refurbished and he was NOT taking a chance of having tenders stuck on sandbars so we did a sail around. We brought along binoculars so we were able to see the deserted beaches with only a few people in isolated areas. The weather was beautiful. The Captain did "spin" the ship around so all passengers could view the small island. Five days from Kona we were on land again in Bora Bora. This was one shore excursion we felt was worth more than we paid. We did a helmet dive. We were the morning group and I understand that was the best choice. We were up close and personal with sting rays and hundreds if not thousands of beautiful fish. We bought the videos the underwater cameraman took even though we had purchased a top of the line Olympus underwater digital camera which had many still photos. This is one port we would love to visit again for a week or two. My wife prepaid for all the Pilates classes and went to most if not all of them. I went to a few free stretch classes with her and walked a lot of laps around the deck with her and walked the steps instead of the elevators to keep from gaining too much weight but still managed to go up a few pounds. The next port was Papeete. We wound up walking around near the ship to an internet cafe because I refuse to pay 75 cents a minute to use the ships internet. We decided on the spur of the moment to take a local cab around the sightseeing spots. A German couple had been waiting for somebody else to join them and share the cost of a sightseeing van. He spoke very good English and in fact worked for the American Military in a place the Army calls K town. His wife spoke very little English. We enjoyed sightseeing at our leisure and got to see a lot of the sights. Next was Moorea. We took the launch into town and then hired a cab to take us to a nice beach where we could snorkel. We brought our own snorkel gear. He arranged to pick us back up at a set time later that day to take us back to the docks. We met some very nice folks that were staying at the resort next to the beach and snorkeled the day away. Not quite as spectacular as the Bora Bora helmet dive but very nice. The next port was Raratonga. We signed up for a stroll through the woods searching for the rare Raratonga flycather. Our guide was the Park Ranger. He was a delight. We hiked up and down all the hills but never spotted our bird. Part of it may be because of some rude Germans who insisted on shouting and calling out all along the way. The nicer Germans we met insisted they must be East Germans!! Pretty bad when even your fellow countrymen are willing to classify rudeness as being a trait of a minority group! The next stop was American Samoa. The on board lecture was done by a very knowledgeable woman who had been there when the natives would shower the cruise ships with flowers from a gondola that travelled from on side to the harbor to the other high up in the hills on either side of the pier. The gondola is now just a rusted out pile of machinery. We had bowled with friends back home from Somoa and enjoyed seeing the sights. We walked all over. We stood outside one of the churches where we heard the children singing beautiful songs. As we left the church we saw a group of men preparing a fire pit to cook the meal after church. They had fish and breadfruit in the pit covered by wet leaves. They were dressed in the native dress (men in skirts?. We have photos standing around the firepit. We did a little shopping with US dollars. In Suva Fiji we opted to join several DAWN DOWN UNDER folks for a trip about an hour away at a resort with a nice beach. They had fresh water swimming pools. You could also rent boat rides and other activities. They had a nice open cafe with decent food and drinks. They arranged for a group of strolling musicians to parade around and serenade you. A nice lazy day. We did see lots of poverty on the ride out and back. The New Zealand stops were Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and the Fjordlands. We opted to take a hop on hop off bus to see the museum and other sights in Auckland. Windy Wellington we ate a wonderful lunch at the revolving restaurant in the highest building in New Zealand. What a view. We stopped to buy a couple bottles of New Zealand wines. We walked and took a cable car up the mountainside to a beautiful garden area. Christchurch was one place I had visited almost 40 years ago while I was single and in the Army. All I saw was the golf course and the airport! This time our group opted to visit the Antarctic center. It made for a very enjoyable day. We then strolled along the tiny river that runs through the center of Christchurch. What an unspoiled English speaking spot. I would love to revisit and spend more time there. The gardens are incredible. Every home has a flower garden. The weather was perfect. Denedin was a place our group booked a train trip out and back. We were late finding the train and got separated from out friends but got reunited at the various stops. The countryside was rugged and beautiful. The people were as friendly as anyplace in the world. This was the most expensive excursion we took but was fairly priced for all we got. Food and drink and sightseeing. The Fjordlands weather was perfect which we understand is unusual. It reminded us somewhat of the inside passage in Alaska in spots. Our arrival in Sydney came after a very calm crossing from New Zealand which is unusual. We had created a land travel package that included 3 nights in a hotel in Sydney with our friends and sightseeing to the Blue Mountains and around the harbor on a sightseeing boat. Now to describe "Chef's Table". One other couple in our group booked the same night as us. They are good friends we have travelled with often and in fact the wife is probably my wife's best friend. The other 6 people who joined us met at 7 PM with the Maitre De Neville. He gave us white smocks to wear in the kitchen and introduced us to our wait staff for the night. One of the best waiters on the ship if not THE BEST. As soon as we arrived in the kitchen we were given a champagne flute and the first of several appetizers. Almost before we could take our first sip we were informed the champagne was NOT up to the standards of the Maitre De! He immediately had a better champagne served. We were introduced to the head chef who remained with us for the next 3 hours. We watched the kitchen in action preparing to serve literally more than one thousands diners. When we left the kitchen area we were escorted to a table for 10 that was our home for the next 2 1/2 hours! We watched as dish after dish of food was presented to us and the Maitre De poured a variety of wines to match each dish. A whole lobster tail was an appetizer! The chef and his assistant prepared veal in front of us. We were offered a variety of sauces for the meat. Dessert was over the top. We were given photos that were developed while we dined. Each couple received a special hardbound cookbook from the chef. The chef pulled up a chair after dinner and drank an Alaskan beer!! He said it was almost as good as some German beers. (The ship had done an Alaska cruise just before the repositioning cruise). It turned out there had been a crew turnover of about 75% between the Alaska cruise and the repositioning cruise. Some other memories of this cruise include the fact that buying a coffee card was the best deal on the ship. You were entitled to a set number of specialty coffees (lattes, cappuccinos etc) but unlimited fresh brewed coffee. The coffee anyplace else on the ship was a poor excuse for coffee. We attended many of the lectures given by a young man from Tazmania. He entertained us with his jokes and lecture style. One of the best lectures was given by the ships Captain. He used slides from the Hubble telescope to take us on a journey through the Universe. The woman who provided information on each port of call was very good. The ship offered a variety of entertainment to satisfy almost all tastes. We were offered almost too many choices of activities during the entire cruise. Even the sea days could be filled with a variety of activities but of course you could choose to do nothing!! The average daily cost of a repositioning cruise is such a bargain that we may look for noting but repositioning cruises in the future. Read Less
Sail Date September 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
Background: Married, early 60's, numerous annual cruises on multiple lines from Carnival to Seabourn. We took a standard suite. There really are no Balconies. Short version: Positives: Best food on the sea's, spacious ... Read More
Background: Married, early 60's, numerous annual cruises on multiple lines from Carnival to Seabourn. We took a standard suite. There really are no Balconies. Short version: Positives: Best food on the sea's, spacious beautiful suites, good entertainment, all wine, spirits, or sodas are included anywhere onboard. Negatives: Very poorly designed, old ship (see more below). Dining service was poor both in delivery and charm. Old and very stuffy clientele. This ship is for a certain type of person (see summary). They advertise WiFi but it is unusable. Details: Boarding: Very good, but not quite up to other premium and luxury lines. We boarding in Europe which is always faster and smoother than in the US. Stateroom: It is an all suite ship. There are no balconies on this ship. Balcony means your window opens with a bar so that you not fall out. The suites are all the same except a few special suites. They are large, well laid out and are in excellent condition. Certainly the nicest physical aspect of the ship. Service: Friendly and excellent, but do not expect the nice mix of nationalities seen on other lines. They are almost all white and mostly European. Generally they lack that polished professional service touch, but are trained to attend your every need. If you enjoy the variety of personality of the staff and talking to a staff from various origins, this is aspect of cruising just does not exist here. They also have an "aristocratic air" that they share with huge number of repeat customers. Dining: There is no question that this is the best food on the seas in the main dining room. They use nothing but the highest quality products and have an incredible chef. Oceania is only line with Chef's as good or better, but they do not have this food budget. However, the service was irratic at best. Only rarely did they bring the correct items for every course, and many on the staff have an attitude that the British seem to like, but it will appear very stuffy to many Americans. There appear to have plenty of service members, but they wander about somewhat chaotically resulting in a very irratic performance. Do not expect the polished waiter you are used to on your favorite line. But in the end, the food overrides everything. Entertainment: Actually very good for such a small ship. Good guest entertainers, excellent enrichment speakers, and very high quality ship entertainers. Active daily activities. Ship and Common areas. It is an old ship that is poorly laid out. Very low ceilings throughout (less than 8 feet) which means if you are 6'4' you have to duck in the hallways. At 6' I could not use the treadmill without touching the ceiling. Low ceiling in the large dining room is particularly unattractive. The lounges are nice and the open bar on the top deck is inviting. Remember that it a very small ship, so there is no wandering about. The pool area was never used by anyone because of design. Very high exhaust noise on back half of open decks with noticeable diesel odor. Family: Strictly an adult ship. Best if you fit in the average age of mid to late 70's. Value: Fair, but some of what you pay for is just to keep "Joe six-pack" off. There is no added value to selecting a suite above the lowest 4 level suite that I could detect. If you are will to pay to travel with older people with a very aristocratic air about themselves, the value goes up on this ship. Key Question: Will we take Seabourn again? Probably, but not until a try a few other Luxury class lines. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
I am a Diamond, almost Plus, member and cross regularly on RCCL's larger ships and the QM2. I decided to cross the Atlantic on the Independence of the Seas rather than the Navigator, my favorite ship, because it was a first time ... Read More
I am a Diamond, almost Plus, member and cross regularly on RCCL's larger ships and the QM2. I decided to cross the Atlantic on the Independence of the Seas rather than the Navigator, my favorite ship, because it was a first time crossing for this ship and I thought it would be fun seeing all the new stuff RCCL has put on this basically English market outfitted ship. The Independence is very large but so well designed that you do not notice the large numbers of people. It is a new ship with large flat screen TV's and unique to the Independence, a very good hot water kettle in the room with tea and coffee. I do wish RCCL would put such a quality kettle in all the rooms on their ships. I had a rear facing D1 balcony cabin which was just wonderful. The same size as most D1 cabins, the rear facing cabins have, generally, a balcony three time the size of traditional balconies. I was on the 10th floor and right next to me were two wonderful regular RCCL travelers from Florida. We enjoyed talking a lot on that crossing. The advantage to being a Diamond on RCCL is that they do a lot for those who are loyal to this ship line. No other cruise ship line does as much as RCCL for in the mornings they have a lounge open specially for Diamonds and those Plus which has a great breakfast. The two concierges they have on the Diamond level try to work issues out and do the best they can when sometimes very arrogant Diamond members make unreasonable demands. RCCL also has a cocktail time from generally 5-8:30pm where Diamonds and Diamond Plus members can meet and have a good time while having a drink or two provided by RCCL. No other Cruise Line comes even close to doing this for their loyal customers! I so hope RCCL never changes this policy for it is the primary reason so many of us return to RCCL given some of the manifest other issues they do not seem to be able to address such as the lesser than average food in their dinning rooms, etc. The primary reason I am writing this is to send along a compliment to RCCL for so many times all I hear are stories finding problems with the cruise lines. On this crossing the ship stopped in Vigo, Spain, and against better advice I ate oysters on shore. I thereupon, a day later, became so ill that for the first time, ever, I called the medical facility on the ship at 2am and said I was so bad I could not ever walk down to their facility. They immediately sent someone up with a wheel chair and brought me down to see the nurse and the Doctor. The nurse was from Romania and was just wonderful and the Doctor was Canadian and really knew his business of taking care of very sick travelers. They gave me fluids via intravenously and a shot, etc. After a period of two hours I was well enough to go back to the room and because RCCL is very conscious of the virus that can become a problem with other travelers on the ship, I was quarantined for two days. I was fine with being quarantined because even though I thought my problem was food poisoning the Dr. wanted to make sure I had nothing else that could cause problems with everyone else on board. For the next two days they sent my meals to my room, called me regularly from the infirmary, from guest services and from the Diamond lounge to make sure I was ok and doing better. They sent free of charge all the gatorade, bottled water I needed and gave me free Internet wifi in my room for my laptop and I watched all the movies I wanted as a gift from the ship. I am somewhat discerning about medical care and I can tell you that rest easy if that is something that causes you concern about going to sea. If you are on a RCCL ship, their standards are very high and they take that responsibility seriously. RCCL also sent me a cruise credit for a future cruise because I missed part of my crossing being quarantined. Cruise credits are nice things to have for you keep being rewarded by RCCL the more credits you receive. So, what started out as a short note seems to have gone on but if anyone wants to ask me any questions, please just email me at: rennyga2000@yahoo.com Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Seventeen days on the Zuiderdam - a very nice experience. There have been several reviews of this cruise, so I will try to comment on just a few pertinent areas. First: The noro virus. Some people have written that the ship remained ... Read More
Seventeen days on the Zuiderdam - a very nice experience. There have been several reviews of this cruise, so I will try to comment on just a few pertinent areas. First: The noro virus. Some people have written that the ship remained silent about this problem for the first week or so of the cruise. I remember it differently. I specifically remember an announcement on embarkation day that there had been some cases of intestinal disorder on the previous cruise and advising passengers to take the appropriate precautions. There was also a written note to that effect in our suite. After 3 or 4 days, it became clear to the medical staff on board that the virus was still with the ship. There were announcements every day from that point on about the situation and reminders to be sanitary, wash hands, etc. I spent a day and a half in quarantine and felt that I got excellent, professional treatment. Every member of the crew pitched in and helped, particularly in food service where, because of the virus, passengers were not allowed to touch anything until it was on the plate. This was particularly cumbersome in the Lido Buffet. As a result lunches were not very enjoyable. I thought the officers, crew, and medical staff did everything they could to deal with this problem. The CDC calls this virus the second most common contagious disease(next to the cold.) The presence of such a virus in an enclosed environment presents most difficult challenges. I applaud the crew for their hard work and great attitude while dealing with this problem Two highlights: The quality of food at dinner time on this ship was as good as, or better than we have experienced in something over a dozen cruises. I have always thought that Holland America provided good, but not great food. They exceeded my expectations on this cruise. Every evening meal on this 17-day cruise was excellent! We enjoyed the meals in the main dining room and had three dinners in the Pinnacle Grill. The food in either venue was consistently outstanding. The Pinnacle Grill quality was slightly better and the service there was as good as I've seen. We have enjoyed wonderful meals on Crystal and Regent. Our experiences on this cruise were just as memorable. What a great surprise! The other highlight was the quality of the singing and dancing troupe on the ship. These young folks were more talented than any I have seen on a cruise ship. In a cast like this, I usually find one singer with great talent while the rest are just supporting. This cast had 4 singers, and each one was tremendous. The dancing and showmanship of the entire cast brings a smile to my face even now. One "lowlight": "As You Wish Dining" doesn't work very well on Zuiderdam. Indeed, we began to refer to it as "As the Zuiderdam wishes dining." We tried advance reservations. (They don't take reservations during the most desirable dining times - so if you want a reservation you must eat before 6 or after 8:30.) We tried showing up "when we wanted to dine with whom we wanted" (as the ads say). Each appearance at the restaurant was an adventure. We were shown to tables that were already occupied. We were told that there were no tables for four, only to get to the room and see several empty tables for four. Then, on other nights everything worked very well. There may be a way to make this system work. If so, Zuiderdam hasn't discovered it. Although a problem, it was overcome by the outstanding food we enjoyed once we were seated. One final comment. I'd read in various reviews that the decor of the Zuiderdam was rather gaudy. This must have been mitigated in the ship's most recent drydock. We felt that the ship was very tastefully decorated and had no complaints at all in that regard. Summary: The cruise was excellent despite the nagging presence of the noro virus. The outstanding attitude and amazing hard work by the crew is what made the cruise enjoyable despite the big challenges they faced. 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
Panama Canal November 2008 Background info - My wife and I are in our mid 50's. We have been on 26 cruises on various lines with most having come on Royal Caribbean. This was our second Celebrity cruise. This was our second full ... Read More
Panama Canal November 2008 Background info - My wife and I are in our mid 50's. We have been on 26 cruises on various lines with most having come on Royal Caribbean. This was our second Celebrity cruise. This was our second full transit of the Canal. We left from DFW on October 31st on American Airlines to San Diego. We were on time leaving and arriving. On thing that was notable to me, on arrival in San Diego our luggage actually beat us to the carousel. Precruise: We stayed in the Holiday Inn on the Bay while in San Diego. We had a room that overlooked the bay and had a good view of the cruise terminal. The staff was some of the best we have ever dealt with, very knowledgeable and helpful. As we had arrived in the early morning our room was not ready the hotel kept our luggage. We found most everything we needed was with in walking distance from the hotel. Our room location afforded great views of the cruise ships sailing out so we had a sail away party each evening. We ate dinner at Anthony's Seafood, which was just across the street from the hotel. It was some of the best seafood I have ever had. On our second day we took the Old Town Trolley tour. We loved it. The drivers were all great and had very good presentations. We chose this tour because you could hop on and off at different places. You really had a good look at what San Diego had to offer. It was a great way to decompress before the cruise. Embarkation: This is an area that really needs some work. It took approximately an hour and a half to get on the ship. We experienced extremely long lines and a very slow line to get on the ship. And this after we had gotten our Sea Pass card! The glass of champagne was of course enjoyed as we came on the ship. Sail away was very enjoyable on this cruise as we had family watching and waving from a neighboring pier. Ports and tours: Cabo San Lucas - This was a tendering port, that of course, makes things interesting at times. Our shore excursion was to Todos Santos. It was a long trip, with the highlight being lunch at the Hotel California. This is the hotel of the Eagles song fame. Had one of the best meals of the entire trip. But, that was not worth the trip. We were late returning so there was no chance for any shopping. Acapulco - This was our second time to be in Acapulco. It will be our last time. We saw the cliff divers and visited a silver shop. This port has lost its charm and IMHO this port needs to be replaced. Huatulco - This was the biggest surprise of the trip. We had no excursion planned and just walked around the port shops. It is a beautiful little town with beautiful beaches. Punta Renas - We love Costa Rica! This was our 4th time to visit this wonderful country. And it didn't disappoint us. We took the Ultimate Costa Rica shore excursion. It was a wonderful tour. The bus driver and guide were the best we have ever had. This was a tour of the Cafe' Britt coffee plantation and roasting facility. The Britt guides were fantastic. We loved their presentation. We had a great lunch and their coffee is great. As we left to return to the ship it began to rain. This was the only time on this cruise we any weather at all. It is an all day excursion but very much worth it. Panama Canal - This was a great day. We spent the day sitting on our balcony and watching. It was beautiful weather for cruising the canal. And it helped that we were on the shaded side of the ship. We were lucky that we had a ship going through the locks at the same time as we were so we were able to see much of the workings of the canal. We had a great narrator as well. We later were told that people were up and sitting in the Constellation Lounge at 4:30 a.m. This was the day that we had the Celebrity Brunch. This is the replacement for the Midnight Buffet, or so I was told. It was a big disappointment. I guess my expectations were set too high as it seemed to be very hard to get around and the food was nothing spectacular. Cartegena Columbia - We did the Best of Cartegena shore excursion. This is a beautiful city, but, not one that I would like to go back to. No matter where you went the street vendors were there in droves. If you made eye contact you couldn't get away. They literally hounded everyone. It was incredibly hot here. We had come prepared with bottled water from the ship, but it was not enough. Take lots of water if you go. Disembarkation: We used the Celebrity Luggage Valet service. This was well worth the price. Total time from the call for us to get off the ship until we were in the bus to the airport was a whopping 20 minutes. Everyone in Ft Lauderdale was on their A game. Very quick and easy. Our flight home to DFW on American Airlines was on time. Overall impression: The Captain ( Capt Demetrius) is fantastic. This was our second time with him and it was great. He has a great sense of humor and it really shows. The crew was great as well. Extremely friendly and very professional. We had a Concierge Class cabin back amongst the big suites. Our room stewardess, Myla, was the best we have ever had. We are not the most demanding people, but we never wanted for anything. She was fantastic. We used Room Service several times. They were very prompt and the food was good. Food in the Oceanview Cafe was varied and very good. No issues at all. However food in the dining room was not quite up to our expectations. Mind you we never went hungry, but, the menu choices left a lot to be desired. Our waiter, Alvin, was very good. But his assistant, Natividad, was not very much help. Ship: We loved the Infinity. This was the last cruise before dry dock. It really needed it. It was showing lots of wear and needs some TLC. Hopefully it will get it. The entertainment was the best we have ever had on a cruise ship. The Celebrity Singers and Dancers were phenomenal. The fly in entertainers were wonderful also. We hated for this cruise to end. It was great. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
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
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
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
We cruised from Southampton to Ft. Lauderdale on this mega-ship's first Transatlantic crossing. The Independence had been in Europe since being put into service in May '08, and was still as good as new. Our midship balcony ... Read More
We cruised from Southampton to Ft. Lauderdale on this mega-ship's first Transatlantic crossing. The Independence had been in Europe since being put into service in May '08, and was still as good as new. Our midship balcony stateroom on deck 8 was fine, with the practical and pleasant layout and abundance of storage found on most newer ships, kept tidy by a friendly attendant. In general, it's a well laid-out ship, and despite its huge size easy to move around on. It's fun to walk around the multi-story center "mall", which provides a community feeling, no matter how temporary it may be (although the shopping opportunities are not better than on less extravagant vessels), and it's also a nice stage for some of the cruise staff's elaborate evening parades. The ship offers very good sports and workout opportunities; I especially loved the Flow-Rider surfing machine and couldn't get enough of it. (I'm 61 and had never surfed before.) However, the dance floors are much too small, especially in comparison to Princess and Cunard ships with the exception of the temporary dance floor which sometimes covers the ice skating rink; it's of good size but very sticky and, therefore, uncomfortable to dance on. This was a shame because there was a decent band playing ballroom music as well as a good Latin band. Also, far too few dance lessons were being offered by the excellent professional Russian dance couple (3, on a 13 day cruise with 10 days at sea). Dinner service as well as room service were good, food quality average. We attended a Crown & Anchor wine tasting, and I would strongly recommend against it: The four wines presented were of sub-par quality, and the wine steward must have been the worst presenter on board; he dragged out for an hour what could have been explained in a few minutes. My wife and I consoled ourselves by digging into the accompanying cheese platters. The variety shows in the theatre were uneven two excellent ones, others less so. Both ice shows were very good, with highly professional skaters who, to our surprise, also doubled as rink attendants during passenger skating hours as well as support personnel in the ports. The cruise director was possibly the best one we've experienced over the 13 cruises we've taken in the past dozen years; all his people were very personable, and there were plenty of activities for every taste, including the famed Quest, which we, contrary to our preconceptions, enjoyed enormously. There was only one truly weak spot on this ship, at least for us: Customer / purser service did not live up to our expectations and was considerably below what we've experienced on other cruises most recently a Transatlantic crossing on the QM2 and a Transpacific crossing (Alaska to China) on the Sapphire Princess. Calls to their "0" number were often not answered (ring-ring-ring forever), and several times we were given outrightly false information worst in Funchal, Madeira, concerning car rental opportunities: We were advised to purchase RC's bus tickets from the dock into town, where there would be car rental places nearby. This proved to be completely wrong: After taking that bus and losing nearly an hour asking around ("no, there is no Avis or Hertz or you-name-it here"), a rare cab driver who did not try to convince us that he was the only "car rental" in town ferried us from the city center in the opposite direction to the Lido area (which we could have gotten to from the ship's dock in under 5 minutes by cab or maybe 20 minutes walking), where one can find every car rental agency imaginable, all near each other and priced very reasonably. When, upon our return to the ship that evening, I complained about the wrong information that had caused us to lose time and spend extra money, the person at the purser's desk (not the same who had given us the faulty info to begin with) told me they hadn't known, and she would see to it that we were at least reimbursed for the unnecessary bus trip into Funchal's city center. The reimbursement never materialized (and I didn't want to lose more time by again standing in line at the purser's desk to follow up with a complaint). Also, their feigning ignorance with regard to the location of car rentals in Funchal is not very believable, considering that RC and the Independence of the Seas have been regulars in that place. Otherwise, we enjoyed the crossing, including the three first days of cool mist and rain (Southampton to our first port: Vigo, Spain) and, of course, the magnificent weather and mostly calm seas from Madeira to St. Maarten and finally Ft. Lauderdale. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
We just returned from 15 spectacular days aboard Silver Shadow. Everything was in top shape. We embarked at San Pedro, CA, essentially the cruise terminal for Los Angeles. We had chosen early embarkation since we had to vacate the hotel at ... Read More
We just returned from 15 spectacular days aboard Silver Shadow. Everything was in top shape. We embarked at San Pedro, CA, essentially the cruise terminal for Los Angeles. We had chosen early embarkation since we had to vacate the hotel at Noon anyway. Arrived at Shadow about 12:30 and our cabin, a Silver Suite, was ready. And it was lovely. Clearly showing the recent renovation, it had new carpeting and drapes, as well as upholstery and new flat screen TV's. We enjoy the extra space a Silver Suite provides, and on a long cruise such as this one, especially with most days being sea days, it is well worth the extra expense. We had dinner twice in La Terrazza and twice in Le Champagne. The other nights we ate in the Dining Room. All the meals were quite good. The new arrangement, apparently an experiment, in Terrazza has a guest chef presenting their cuisine. The chef for this cruise was Suzanne Tracht from California and, frankly, her cuisine is nothing special. On the second night we dined there, they also had the Terrazza favorites side by side with the guest chef's concoctions and that was a welcome change. Le Champagne is intimate and worth the extra cost, but just barely. The Dining Room food was creative and well presented, and our waiters - Sabi and Dennis were outstanding. We ate in their area each evening we dined in that venue. Breakfast and lunch we usually had at The Terrace cafe (the name for La Terrazza during the day) and that buffet was well done. Also ate at poolside several times and had the world's best hamburgers there. Because this cruise was a re-positioning cruise and the highlight was transiting the Panama Canal, port stops and shore excursions were nothing special with stops in Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta, Guatemala and Colombia. Again, nothing to write home about, but that was not the point of the cruise. The transit through the Canal was fascinating, accompanied by expert commentary and cooperative weather. There was quite a bit of entertainment, including dancing productions that were quite well done. And on the farewell evening, when the Captain indicated that he knew folks would be back on Silversea and he introduced the crew - about a hundred of every occupation on board paraded in to a rousing standing ovation. He's right; the essence of Silversea is its remarkable crew members. That's what has kept us coming back for this our third cruise on Silversea. They get it right, down to the smallest detail. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Although I'd heard the phrase "crystallized" many times before our cruise, I did not truly capture its meaning until we were back at home in Vancouver and shocked into reality. By way of background, we are in our forties, ... Read More
Although I'd heard the phrase "crystallized" many times before our cruise, I did not truly capture its meaning until we were back at home in Vancouver and shocked into reality. By way of background, we are in our forties, fairly well traveled and this was our 5th cruise in less than 3 years. Our previous cruises were with HAL, Disney (with our young daughter), Carnival and Cunard. Our expectations were high but they were all fully met or exceeded. To exemplify this, our special story about members of the staff and crew who will go out of their way to satisfy a request: Halfway through the cruise my husband decided to purchase a set of shocks for his car through a specialty store in LA (don't ask me why). The idea was to have the box delivered to the terminal so that we could fly it back with us to Vancouver. We spoke to Gabor, the Concierge, who not only suggested the best way to accomplish this, but took it upon himself to make all the necessary communications with Crystal's agent in LA and arranged every aspect of it, including following up to update us on the progress. The end result, the box containing four shining high performance shocks was delivered to us on board the morning of disembarkation. Many thanks to Gabor and his team who passed the test with flying colors! Embarkation and Disembarkation We arrived at the terminal shortly after 12:00 noon. We were shown to a waiting area set up with chairs and given a color card. Wait was approximately 40 minutes. Once on board we were greeted by Susan who walked us to the dining room. All in all painless and the beautiful Salmon entrEe with the glass of C Champagne were a great introduction to what was to come. Disembarkation morning - everything was going smoothly until the paging started for a couple of ladies who apparently did not know they had to go through the customs inspection before they would let anyone off the ship. Apparently one of them had to be fetched from her cabin where she was still asleep! It took a while to get that done and by the time we were allowed to leave the ship there were more than a few nervous people who were afraid of missing their early flights. This created a long line and substantial congestion. The Ship The Symphony is a beautiful ship which is constantly being cleaned and maintained to the highest standards. The maintenance crew is efficient and unobtrusive -case in point: the entire midship staircase carpet was replaced in a few days in a way that was not disruptive to the passengers. The affected areas smelled of the carpet glue for short periods of time but the installers worked quickly and without interfering with the comings and goings of the passengers. The public areas are beautiful and decorated in understated good taste to please the majority. One area that could be improved upon is the Starlite Club. There are a few too many club chairs there and trying to move them or reorient them is a bit of a challenge, mostly when there is a full house. Also, the fact that the open side of the lounge is a thru way results in the performance or lecture taking place being disrupted by peoples' chatter and laughter as they go by. The Avenue Saloon is one of my favorite venues, particularly due to Colin Salter's piano. The downside is that smoking is allowed and when there are more than a couple of people lighting up the air becomes a real problem for non-smokers. We are not fussy and can tolerate some smoke but had to leave on a couple of occasions because of it. On a side note: thanks to Colin for playing "my" song every time he saw us come in. There are no crowds or lineups anywhere although some of the venues are very well attended depending on what's going on and you might have to look around for an empty seat. Our cabin on Deck 8 was adequate in size and we had the small sofa as a bit of a bonus - I understand how the sofas are missed by many. The closet and drawer space was also adequate and by moving the life vests off to the back all our clothes fit well. Here is the one and only gripe: the HUGE obstruction. There simply is no view at all from that cabin and we will not choose this type of accommodation ever again. Having an unobstructed view (if a balcony is not possible) is a must for us. In addition, the humongous tender hanging outside the window was routinely being maintained/worked on so we had to continuously close our curtains to avoid having a maintenance person looking in on us! This severely impacted our enjoyment of time spent in the cabin. Caveat emptor, the cabin was described as "limited or extremely limited view", the reality is that there was NO view whatsoever and the cabin was very dark. I do take some responsibility for having chosen this type of cabin knowing that there was an "obstruction" but we ended up with what must have been the worst of them all. We made our feelings known to the concierge in that not all E cabins are equal and that there is a certain amount of misrepresentation by Crystal in that regard. The Food We live in Vancouver, a city of Foodies with a strong, international cuisine atmosphere. There is one comment I make to everyone I tell about our cruise. Food on each and every Crystal venue is of the highest quality, be it the Lido, the buffets, the main Dining Room, Prego, Silk Road, tea, etc. It is all about choices and you can do no wrong. We had not one bad meal, anywhere on board. By the way, I have tried to replicate the burgers from the Trident Grill - so far unsuccessfully I might add. We did dine at Prego twice - the Beef Carpaccio is to die for, so is the famous Mushroom Soup. Tiramisu, the best I've had on land or water. Tea in the Palm Court or at the Bistro was very enjoyable, particularly the Amadeus Hot Chocolate. The Service There is nothing I can say that has not already been said on this board about the level of service. From our friendly, efficient room stewardess Kristel who brought ice for us each night after one such request, and badly needed band-aids from her own supply thus saving me the trip to the shop one evening, to spotless service from our waiter Gabriella, assistant Henri and wine steward Johannes. Worth a special mention, Ivo our Head Waiter, who went out of his way to create a memorable Chinese birthday dinner for my husband and who makes the best Spaghetti Bolognese I've ever had (tableside or not). Needless to say, the Crystal experience would not be the same without the Lido guys - Sonny, I really didn't need the 4 Margaritas you brought me during sailaway from Cabo but I sure enjoyed them! Entertainment Varied and rich, thoroughly enjoyed the production shows but loved the entertainers. What a great new talent Philipa Healey is, Jimmy Travis is a hoot. Full Sail is great and I'm still trying to figure out how mind reader Marc Paul knew what he knew…just to name a few. The special interest lecturers were knowledgeable and personable, always at hand for a chat. Andrew Steigman kept us informed about the history of the places we were seeing and his recount of the history of the canal was very interesting. Nigel West had spot-on, timely talks. Sorry we did not catch any Fred Plotkin's lectures but we did attend the Wine Tasting events - Sommelier Pasquale outdid himself when the anticipated 30 participants turned into almost 150. Fellow Passengers We met many lovely people including our sponsors Jackie and tablemates. As has been said in this board, the Matre D' does a fantastic job matching people up for dining. We also had the pleasure of sharing our table with Steven and Stacey (dance instructors) one evening and with Nigel West another one. We were almost too late for the CC cocktail party as I was not feeling well for a short while but had the pleasure of meeting a few fellow CC'rs. It came as a surprise that the vast majority of the passengers were repeat Crystal cruisers but I'm not surprised anymore as I hope to become one myself soon. It's worth noting that given the size of the ship you are bound to see people you've met all the time. Ports of Call Old Cartegena is a lovely, well preserved town with many, many street vendors; we took a tour of the cathedrals and the guide was knowledgeable and spoke good English. It was a holiday in Colombia that day so many commercial establishments were closed and there were not too many people around. The Canal was obviously the highlight of the cruise; a tremendous feat of engineering and ingenuity - we wished Crystal made stops in Panama City, a sentiment shared by others we met but there may be good reasons not to. Acapulco and Cabo. We decided not to take any tours as we usually like to get the lay of the land by walking around whenever we are new to a place. In this case we feel it may have been better to take the excursions as there is very little to do/see in the port areas. We also had an unpleasant encounter with a man who acted very aggressively toward my husband when told that we were not interested in what he was selling. He threatened my husband with calling the police so that he would "know what Mexican jails are like" and with calling his buddies to teach him a lesson. We walked away from the situation and made our way back to the ship. Memorable Moments Too many to list but to name a few: walking around the Promenade deck in the afternoon hand in hand; breakfast on the Lido Terrace aft deck; dancing and sipping Champagne Bellinis in the Starlite Club; contentedly napping on a lounge chair on one of the aft decks; all in all wonderful memories and experiences. We'll sure be back for more. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Having previously sailed on Symphony and posted a review, I decided to file a follow-up of the differences from our previous experience. It's said that there is only one chance to make a good first impression. This is true, but our ... Read More
Having previously sailed on Symphony and posted a review, I decided to file a follow-up of the differences from our previous experience. It's said that there is only one chance to make a good first impression. This is true, but our second impression was equally good. We signed-on to this voyage for the obligatory "bucket list" transit of the Panama Canal, and were not disappointed. I selected cabin 8001, which is the most forward one can get on the starboard side. From the photos of Symphony, I noticed that its balcony partition seemed to be cut to provide a forward view when standing at the rail. This is true and provided great vistas during the passage. I had some concerns about wind, and it was breezy at times. However, the aerodynamics of the ship appears to result in an interesting phenomenon: Cabins aft of us were windier and, in fact, their verandas got wet during an intervals of high seas and rain ... 8001 did not. I would recommend 8001 to other Panama Canal bucket-listers. We were lucky because the Symphony made the passage through the port channel. This provided us with a view of the central area of the canal and the large container ship accompanying us in the starboard channel. The (I believe) HAL Zuiderdam preceded us in the lock ahead, but stopped in Gatun Lake and headed back in the afternoon. There was a Society of Wine Educators lecturer aboard who presented a series of three tasting/lecture sessions. The sessions were listed as limited to 50, but when the waiting list expanded the number to 120, they just opened it up to everyone. Pasquale, the sommelier, and his staff had to work hard for these events ... the arithmetic extends to more than 400 wine tasting glasses to set-up and pour (followed by clean-up). It was excellent, and the price was right ... gratis. We had a nice laugh with Pasquale about what became a somewhat "lively" evening at the Vintage Room on our prior voyage. A tip from Pasquale: He gets a budget for these events and can and will arrange it the way you want. Therefore, if you tell him to, he will ease-up a little on the cuisine and put the emphasis on better wines ... something to remember if you are an oenophile. Having booked the voyage to visit the canal, we had no expectations for the ports of call. Cartegena was a pleasant surprise, the old town being quite well preserved and attractive. We were not disappointed with the ports of Grand Cayman, Acapulco, and Cabo because they pretty much met our expectations ... none. To be fair, we live where many folks come to lie on the beach and buy tee shirts and tacky trinkets ... but we did this anyway. Heard in all ports: "Prices coming down ... almost free". After the wives went back to the ship after a morning of hard bargaining in the Acapulco Artisan Market, the husbands continued wandering. We were approached and asked if we wanted to visit a "Happy Hotel". When told the wives probably wouldn't approve of that, the response was "you don't have to bring them" ... yikes, time to get back to the ship! Having experienced the Crystal "never say no", I had planned to special order Clams Casino. This resulted in the only major disappointment on the cruise when the answer was no, all clams are allocated to Prego where, incidentally, Clams Casino is not available. Oh well, there were certainly many other excellent dining options. The cuisine highlight for us was the Silk Road. Earlier this year my wife took me to the local Nobu's for my birthday and the small sampler menu totaled about $100/person. For the amount we "sampled" in Silk road on our three visits there, at "retail", the cost of our voyage was very well "subsidized". Now, they aren't trolling for Ahi from the stern of Symphony as we sail, so the fish was not alive on the morning of our meals. However, it was still as excellent as it could be. We were joined in Silk Road by our "Table 84" mates from Central Canada, where the fish is only raw when hauled over the stern of their boat. They were terrific sports and made it through the entire meal with chopsticks. We hope to reconvene with them in Silk Road at some time in the future. Crystallization Status: The crystals are larger, but not set. Crystal is the best cruise line we have experienced to-date but don't feel parochial enough to declare that it should be sailed to the exclusion of all others. 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
Background There was 5 of us on this cruise, myself, my wife and 18 year old daughter, plus my in-laws. This was our 5 cruise and third Transatlantic cruise. We had a outside stateroom on deck 2 mid ship and my in-laws had a balcony ... Read More
Background There was 5 of us on this cruise, myself, my wife and 18 year old daughter, plus my in-laws. This was our 5 cruise and third Transatlantic cruise. We had a outside stateroom on deck 2 mid ship and my in-laws had a balcony stateroom on deck 6. Travelling & Embarkation We travelled from Edinburgh to Barcelona via London City airport. It was a very early start with a 6:30 flight out of Edinburgh, but we all seemed to get up with spring in out step as it was holiday time. We arrived in Barcelona at 12:30 and were met just outside baggage collection by the RCI rep, who pointed us in the right direction of porters; this was the last we saw out luggage until we were on the ship. There was a short 20 min bus ride to the port where we were sped through the check in process. Having now attained Platinum status we were very lucky to join a very short queue and within 30-40 mins we were on the ship. After a getting slightly lost, we found our stateroom which was still in the process of getting ready. Sammy our stateroom attendant met us, what a nice guy. Nothing was a problem for him, and always seemed to be smiling as we met him coming and going. The Ship & Crew Having been on both the Mariner and Explorer; we all had a basic idea of the layout so it didn't take us long to to figure out where everything was. We knew that the Windjammer was going to busy so we headed for the Promenade Cafe on deck 5 for a few snacks. The ship it's self is still looking like it just came out the dock. Everywhere we looked someone was polishing or cleaning something. We can't praise the staff and crew highly enough, everyone we passed in the corridors had a smile or a nod to acknowledge we were there. I'll give a special mention to our Waiter, Judith and her assistant (who for the life of me I can't remember his name), plus Ray our Head Waiter, honestly the best Head Waiter we've ever had. Normally in the past we've found they only show face, smile and move on, but this guy took the time to speak to all of us. We would regularly meet him in the Windjammer always taking the time to chat. I'll also mention the bar tenders we got friendly with. Richard in the Theatre, who only after the second night knew what we were all drinking. One more was in Vintages (and I'm truly sorry I never got his name). Again he knew what I was drinking and before my bum was on the seat he was over handing me my drink, now that's service. At this point I'll mention our Cruise Director and his staff, Kieron Buffrey was for me just about right. Not in your face and subtle, which I don't think went down well with our American friends. Once again thank to the CD staff who after my wife wrote to Kieron arrange for my daughter to do a backstage tour as she is studying stage management and lighting in the theatre at collage. He had a great partner in Cuddy who managed to bounce off Kieron just nicely. I hope he makes a CD in the future. For me the only cloud on the silver lining was Captain Bang, for us he was as dully as dish water. His daily announcement were tedious, all we seemed to here was hear was his name then a became garbled with long periods of silence. I'm sure in person he's a very interesting person but on the stage of pubic speaking a small improvement is needed. Ports We didn't have many ports of call on this cruise, which is one of the reasons we choose it. The first up was Cartegena in Spain. The ship had never been docked here before so it was bit of an adventure for guest and crew alike. We did manage to get on an open top bus trip for €13 each, taking about an hour for the tour. Very nice and condensed city full of naval history. After the tour we took a stroll up to the shops. After 2 days at sea we arrived at the port of Ponta Delgada in the Azores, where we had 16 hours to kill. We've never organized a tour via the ship as we can normally find something to do. With this port we really struggled. The tourist information desk should be done under the trade descriptions as they weren't helpful at all, telling us most of the buses were off or broken. So we had to fend for ourselves. The town it's self is very compact and we managed to wander through the small streets taking in the all the sites and sounds. After returning to the ship for some lunch and a change we went back off the ship and struck lucky. It seemed we were there on the day all the Christmas lights were being switched on. It truly magical place, full of marching bands, Santa and kids playing. Our last stop came after 6 days at seas and we arrived in the port of Nassau in the Bahamas. After a small delay waiting for another ship to dock we got off and headed for the hotel Atlantis. Having been to Nassau in the past we knew where to go and how to get there so no time was wasted. We wandered round the hotel checking out the aquarium and casino, then headed back to the main town for a drink at the local Hard Rock Cafe. It was then back to the ship and prepare for the big off load at Fort Lauderdale the next morning. The Sea Days As I've said before we choose this cruise because of the amount to days at sea, which for us the must relaxing time you can have. In total out of the 12 days 8 of them were spent at sea. The only down side to this was the weather wasn't the most favorable, it was warm but for the most part overcast. To say the sea was lumpy would be a small understatement, for at least 2 days it was pretty rough, so much so when we looked our stateroom window it wasn't unusual to see the sea hitting it. We did spend this time doing all the stuff around the playing golf and roller blading and ice skating etc. The rough waters didn't stop us have a great time; sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth. We were just lucky on all the port days the sun was shinning. Entertainment This was a real mixed bag for us. We though the RCI dancers done a good job working under the conditions they do. However some of the star turns were a bit poor. Darren Day was really bad and never seemed to connect with the audience. Brenda Cochran tried very hard and has some real talent but I don't think the theatre was big enough for her voice. The real star turn was Mr Nobody (Yacov Noy). His three legged man was just classic. We did manage to see 3 showings of the Ice Dancing and we all still watch with open mouths how these people to do the things they do. With leaps, jumps and back flips it's all very cool. We just managed to stand up on the ice when the ship was moving all over the place how they do it is beyond me. Food I can't really do a review without mentioning the food. Overall it was really good. The choice within the Windjammer is amazing, if you can't find something you like you must be a very picky eater. Somethings could have been hotter. I do feel like people behave extremely badly and can be very rude within the Windjammer. Pushing in when queues have been formed, loading plates up like all the food is going to run out. I've always subscribed to you can go up as many time as you like, don't waste good food. We ate every night in the main restaurant, and there wasn't a night gone by that I couldn't find something to eat. The steak was always done the way I like it. I never walked away thinking hmm I need more to eat. In fact most nights I thought that was a lovely meal, and I don't have to do the dishes. Disembarkation We were very lucky that managed to be one of the last one off the ship, and also being Platinum member we had access to the our own waiting area, which was in the restaurant on deck 4. This made for a more pleasant experience than sitting in the theatre. By the time we got off the ship there were only a few cases left in the hall so we could spot our luggage without any problem. Clearing immigration was only a problem as some people seemed think it was a good idea to fill in their green cards when they arrived at them immigration officer. On the whole we were on our way to the airport within an hour from getting off the ship. Overall In conclusion this was a very enjoyable cruise, well worth the money we spent. Will we be doing another cruise, you better believe it, and will we choose Royal Caribbean, most defiantly yes, they tick all the right boxes for me. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
My husband and I booked this cruise nearly a year earlier because we planned to take our 10 year old grandson with us and we live in Texas and he lives in New Jersey. After we worked out the logistics, we booked a mini suite and looked ... Read More
My husband and I booked this cruise nearly a year earlier because we planned to take our 10 year old grandson with us and we live in Texas and he lives in New Jersey. After we worked out the logistics, we booked a mini suite and looked forward to an enjoyable cruise. After making our final payment we watched in dismay as the cruise prices tumbled. What started out as a much looked forward cruise was turning into a nightmare. Prices continued to drop and our aggravation and anger continued to grow since NCL seemed oblivious to our complaints. Finally, after much negations between us, the line, and our travel agent, and a reasonable upgrade fee, we were reassigned an AB Penthouse, two bedroom, two bath with butler service. Now we were in the right frame of mind for a cruise. Having arrived in Barcelona a day early, we took a cab to the dock and our luggage was immediately portered away .We were directed to the embarkation area. Although there were lines for regular cabins we went straight ahead to suites and VIPs and were attended to right away. After receiving our key cards we were escorted to an anteroom where we were greeted by the concierge, met the Hotel Director, and our Butler showed us our way to our suite. Best embarkation ever!!!! STATEROOM Our stateroom was great and provided all three of us with privacy. This would be ideal for a family since the second bedroom sleeps three and the living room/dining room combination is quite roomy. Our stewardess and steward kept our quarters neat and clean and always stocked with fresh towels and toiletries BUTLER We thought we died and went to heaven. What can you say about someone who anticipates your every wish? Ice, drinks, snacks, whatever. And our grandson was ruined for life with cookies and milk before bedtime, movies for the DVD player and juice and soft pretzels for his snacks. TREETOP KIDS CLUB Our grandson (10) couldn't have been in better hands. There were several counselors on staff and always being with the kids. They played tons of games, had dinner together occasionally, saw shows, and even had a pajama party. On sea days they were open from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Our grandson had the best time ever and never wanted to leave. DINING and RESTAURANTS Suite guests have the availability to breakfast and lunch in Cagney's, the steakhouse. The menu is diverse and the food delicious. The Garden Buffet was always busy with good reason. The food was very good, with great variety and presented well. The Blue Lagoon was good too, with the promised "comfort foods". All the other restaurants were "extras" at $15 to $25 each. They did run promotions of ½ price, but this was not advertised, you had to ask each day. The Bistro, French has been and continues to be excellent. Cagney's steakhouse for dinner was also a very pleasant surprise. It was also excellent. We enjoyed the food at La Cucina (Italian) and the Tapas bar is fun and very good value, with complimentary appetizers provided with your drinks. The Japanese Teppanyaki was noisy, and not worth the $25 charge. The food was bland and disappointing. Room service was very prompt and hot and tasty. ENTERTAINMENT Ray the Cruise Director, was one of the best in this position we've met. He was personable without any "haughtiness" and his entire team exhibited a true camaraderie. This attitude infects the passengers with a great experience. The Big shows were also a big cut above the others ships we've sailed. The entertainers' voices were very good and the dancers were excellent. The other shows - Comedians, 2ndCity, Vocalists, and instrumentalists were OK. PORTS Ville France is a charming small French coastal town. Its main allure is the ease to get to Monte Carlo and Nice. We took the local bus (1 euro) to Monaco (about a ½ hour ride along the coast). Just walking around Monte Carlo and seeing the Casino, the Hotel Paris and all the designer shops are worth the visit. Livorno is the gateway to Pisa and Florence. We visited the Leaning Tower and a few other churches in Pisa then off to Florence. We got great photos of the city and visited the Museum Academia (Michelangelo's David, It is Magnificent!). After Several more churches and a little shopping, we stopped for the best gelato we ever had, then back to the ship. Civitavecchia is the port for Rome. We were there on Wednesday and were able to arrange to be at the Pope's audience at St. Peter's. Then after hitting the highlights (Trevi, Spanish Steppes, Coliseum and much more) we visited the Cappucine Monastery. If you've never seen this, you must. It is a VERY different sight you'll never forget. Corsica is the birthplace of Napoleon. It is a quiet city (Accacio) and was a welcome respite after the non-stop tours for the first three days of this trip. Malaga was also quiet. We arrived early and most shops were still closed. It was pleasant to simply walk around the downtown area and get a feel for the local culture. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008

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