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Sail Date: November 2014
Have just returned from this cruise, billed to visit New York and Bermuda (both with overnights in port) before finishing at Port Canaveral, then Miami. We were diverted because of bad weather on the Atlantic, calling first at Madeira ... Read More
Have just returned from this cruise, billed to visit New York and Bermuda (both with overnights in port) before finishing at Port Canaveral, then Miami. We were diverted because of bad weather on the Atlantic, calling first at Madeira instead, then New York (2 days late), missing out Bermuda altogether. It's my guess that the majority of passengers booked this cruise on the strength of it visiting Bermuda; most people from the UK have been to Madeira (probably a number of times) so an afternoon call there (because that is all we got) was no substitute for the loss of an overnight in Bermuda. The first mistake Celebrity made was that a few passengers were actually notified of this change in itinerary at check-in, although what good it did is anybody's guess because they didn't say we could cancel and get our money back! Most passengers didn't even know of the itinerary change until they learned it from others once on board. The 2 day delay in arrival in New York meant that we lost money on theatre tickets and Top-of-the-Rock tickets we had pre-booked. I make no suggestion that Celebrity should have compensated us for this loss but I found out later (when it was already too late) that a number of passengers who ranted at Guest Relations on the first day were allowed to use the telephone on board to re-arrange their theatre tickets etc. No-one told us we might do this. Mistake no.2. The third mistake Celebrity made was that, even though the weather is not their fault, it has been a tradition on cruise ships that, if passengers are disappointed by not making a port, something is done on board to make them feel a bit better about it - like a special party, free drinks, or (dare I even utter the words) a nominal refund! They did nothing extra, apart from announce proudly that our stay in New York would be extended by 2 hours until 8pm the second day - no use whatever to go to the theatre for instance. Midnight would have been worth something but no. We've travelled on Eclipse twice before and had a wonderfull time; Equinox too, twice. But this time, the food was just the same as before - the menus haven't been changed in at least two years (and then, not for the better) and the regional additions to the Favourites Menu included Irish Stew and Chicken Tikka Masala - hardly what you would associate with sophisticated dining, since you can order them in any pub in the UK! Even the lamb was lacklustre - even tough and grisly at times - but even an expression of discontent was not enough to get the Assistant Maitre d' to visit our table. In the past, the faintest whiff of unhappiness with the food would have them in fits to please you but not this time. Mistake No.4. We dined in Murano one night. In the past, we've thoroughly enjoyed the food and skilled service but on Eclipse, the service was inexperienced and as if learned from a script. A potato croquette was served in a upside-down plastic glass as an "amuse bouche" and we nearly laughed out loud. I have a whole bag of them at home in my freezer! Even the pastry around the Diver Scallop Wellington style was soggy. Sadly, not an experience I want to repeat. Mistakes Nos 5 & 6. Poached eggs cold in middle and improperly cooked in the Oceanview Cafe on three occasions. Again, a complaint brought no follow-up from Guest Relations, as it would have done in the past. Mistakes 7 & 8. One upon a time, I used to say that the thing that marked out Celebrity from other lines was that, if a passenger complained, provided there was some justification, they would not be content until that passenger was pleased again. It seems to me that the bean-counters have been at work, trimming things here and there, cutting corners and changing the protocols regarding how to be "nice" to a disgruntled passenger. Is it time to start looking elsewhere for the quality and standards that Celebrity claim to offer but repeatedly failed to do on this cruise? Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
This was our first ever cruise and I must say it was an experience of a lifetime and it won’t be our last. If you have never cruised before there were a number of things to consider before booking the cruise. Type of Cruise The biggest ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise and I must say it was an experience of a lifetime and it won’t be our last. If you have never cruised before there were a number of things to consider before booking the cruise. Type of Cruise The biggest decision you must make is to determine the type of cruise you want. This 15 night “Caribbean Isles – Southampton to Barbados” cruise involved 9 days at sea and 6 days visiting 6 Caribbean islands. If you would prefer more than a few hours on the beach or maybe an overnight stay on an island this trip is not for you. Daily, when docked, you exited the ship at 8 - 9am but had to return by 4.30 – 5.30 pm as the Azura sailed by 6.00pm at the latest. Rough Weather Another point to bear in mind is that sailing from Southampton, even in this huge 150,000 ton ship still meant the risk of stormy weather and at times a heaving ship. I passed on one evening meal on day 2 and my wife felt poorly until Day 4. During this time the ability to walk on deck is limited. The Azura has a promenade deck on deck 7 but hasn’t any deck that allows you to walk completely around the ship. Sun and heat Sunbathing was not an option until Day 6 and our departure from the Azores so if sunbathing is you “raison d’etre” then be aware of this limiting factor. Booking We booked the cruise only 3 weeks before departure. We were reeled in by the good value on offer but by booking late we could not chose our deck or cabin, we gained no onboard spending credit and lost the ability to chose where we ate each night, an option called “Freedom Dining”. Medical P&O site gives little guidance but recommends you visit the UK Government website dealing with foreign countries & their specific diseases. I rang P&O customer services are they said there was no mandatory requirement to protect yourself for this cruise. I decided to get jabs for protection against Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid and as these can last up to 15 years or so if they are not of use on this cruise I will find them useful for future travels. What to bring A shower cap, toothbrushes & toothpaste and a corkscrew bottle opener are recommended. P&O unusually for cruise lines allows passengers to bring drink onboard from the islands the ship visits but few shops sell corkscrew bottle openers. Flip flops, sun hats & glasses and swimming trunks are a good idea but like sun tan lotion, after sun, antiseptic creams and most other things, are available at normal prices on board. Cabins We booked a cabin with an outside window and were delighted with the allocated cabin, a mid-ship cabin P248 on Deck 7. I’d like to thank our hard working and very friendly cabin steward Michael who cleaned twice a day and delivered fresh crisp towels, the ships Horizon newsletter and chocolates nightly. In hindsight I’d probably pay the extra for a balcony next time but several of those travelers with balconies claimed not to use them much. Laundry is self-service and there was a room on Deck 7 with a washer, a drier, iron and ironing board. Powder tablets are sold in a shop on board for 60p. A payable laundry service is also available. Meals Breakfast & daytime eating Food is available 24 x 7 at self service restaurants on deck 15 where it alternates from the Venezia to the Verona and back, as they close, clean, re-stock and reopen them. The Peninsula Restaurant provides a waiter served, open seated, breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea if that’s what you’d prefer. Open seated means that as you enter they staff check if you are prepared to share a table and just sit you with the people around you in the queue. The Aqua Bar & Pizzaria provides snacks, pizzas, chips etc by the pool on Deck 15, all at no extra cost. Evening Meals – the Peninsula Restaurant We were delighted with the food and service we received in the Peninsula restaurant, where we sat on a table for two. Yes, we missed the banter the travelers enjoyed with each other on the eight seat tables but on the plus side it allowed us to focus on the food which nightly was varied and of the highest quality. The food was beautifully presented and served piping hot and within minutes of ordering. We had a great relationship with our waiters Welber & Alvin, not to mention our wine waiter Lester who made us feel rather like a “lord and lady” rather a “Mr and Mrs”. I compared the eating experience, to our family, on our return as similar to sitting down to the office Christmas evening dinner for 15 nights on the trot. We were allocated a second sitting slot by P&O but the Peninsula’s Manager managed to amend that to a first sitting by Day 3. It’s a numbers game for the restaurant management as people allocated sitting seek to switch times in both directions. On this occasion they were able to facilitate us. The first sitting was 6.30pm while the second is 8.30pm most nights. The only extra charge for the evening meal was the wine which we drank nightly and cost between £15 -20 per bottle and came chilled. If, as many nights we didn’t finish the bottle it was kept for us to enjoy the next night. I’m no expert but I thoroughly enjoyed Chilean white Chardonnay Reserva, Vina Mar, Casablanca Valley (£15.95) and it become our wine of choice for most of the cruise. We saw no need to use the two restaurants where you had to reserve a meal and pay extra to visit. “17” costs an extra £28 per person and Sindhu costs £15 extra per person. The standard and quality of the food in the Peninsula was fine for us. Black Tie Dinner Events The cruise involved four Black Tie dining evenings which all took place before we reached the Caribbean and are optional though most passengers partake. We found it fun to get dressed up and P&O uses the event as an opportunity to sell photographs. Throughout the Atrium and the restaurant’s the ships photographers seek to capture that magic moment when you both look at your best. One can view the picture at £11.80 as a snap that on its return to land will rarely see daylight or you can view it as a cheap way to get a portrait shot of both of you “glammed up and looking hot”. We bought two pictures over the course of the trip but I’d guess the photography team took as many as 30 snaps. If they halved the price I’m sure they’d sell many more pictures. God knows they must shred 95% of all pictures taken at the end of the cruise. Also why not supply a soft copy with/ instead of the hard copy? It’s of no further use to P&O once the cruise is over but people would probably show it to their family & friends on Facebook which might provoke more interest in P&O cruises. Throughout the cruise we had Sailaway parties as we left each port and a Caribbean night in the restaurant when even the waiters went Caribbean. At Antigua we left port, in the gathering darkness, with a US ship alongside and the “Best of British” sailaway party saw the upper deck festooned with Union Jack bunting, hundreds of passengers waving Union Jack flags and singing songs from Ireland, England Scotland and Wales. It was similar to the atmosphere and scenes captured on the “Last night of the Proms”. Quite what the bemused Americans made of it was anyone’s guess but we were partying away and singing loudly until the island and its US boat became a distant glint on the skyline. On Board Activities We found the days at sea just perfect for us. Our routine was to rise by 7.00 am, have a hearty breakfast and join at 8.00 am a group of fellow passengers for a one mile walk round the ship which took about 20 minutes. We then took coffee & a croissant in the Peninsula restaurant where we chatted away to fellow passengers, all more experienced cruisers than us, before enjoying a bit of sunbathing. By 12 noon you could have found us gathered in the Planet Bar on deck 18 where an Azura choir (circa 50 passengers) was formed on Day 1 and rehearsed an hour a day until performing in the ships atrium on Day 8. The Azura Choir I must pay special tribute to Ms Emma Alexander, Assistant Entertainments Manager who along with Robert, the Azura pianist made our cruise experience entirely special by investing their immense talents in the voices of this bunch of knackered older singers. Emma chose and led us through 12 songs that ranged from touchingly sentimental to stridently regimental, from loud to soft, from solo to four part harmony. Standing on heaving decks and tilting furniture Emma displayed incredible control and brilliant communication skills and really took the choir to tackle arrangements we had no right to attempt. I believe she is moving onto the new liner Brittania in 2015 and will be Azura’s loss. Other Activities Similarly the ships entertainment team organized an Azura’s Got Talent competition which involved rehearsals and a show as well as an Azura’s Strictly Ballroom competition, firmly based on the BBC format. Both led to passengers getting a chance to perform on the Playhouse stage and watched by an audience of several hundred who applauded warmly their efforts. Still more daily activities were football, golf and basketball on Deck 19, line dancing, ballroom dancing, card sessions, art classes, lectures on the islands yet to visit and of course work outs in the gym or spa sessions in the Oasis Club. The casino & one armed bandits in Brodies provided alternative options for people with different interests. The library on Deck 6 also provided WIFI at a price and a table in that area offered free books left by other passengers. A book & magazine shop on deck 6 provided fresh reading material and the ship publishes a daily UK/ World newspaper which you could collect for free from that area. The Playhouse theatre, the Malabar and the Manhattan on Deck 7 all hosted daytime sales sessions that P&O portrayed as educational sessions. For example a 10.00 am session on “Arthritis & Back Pain Solutions” in the Malabar bar is actually an opportunity for the Oasis Spa Acupuncture therapist to sell her skills to passengers. Similarly the information sessions on the various islands are hosted by the Sales Team members who seek to inform / sell you the P&O trips available and press home the fear of missing out as trips may be fully booked when we reach the island in question. However there were events of a purely informative nature with interviews with the ship’s captain and other staff along with “behind the scene” visits to the kitchens or staff-only areas of the ship. Sunday Service On both Sundays the ship’s Polish captain led the Church Service which was held in the Playhouse Theatre. A broadly Christian affair it was a mixture of readings and hymns and was particularly moving on the Sunday before Poppy Day when we reflected on our good fortune to be alive when sailing the seas was for pleasure and not for country. We finished each service with the first verse of “God Save the Queen” which reminded both of us of the British’ness of the P&O line and actually added to our enjoyment of the experience as we are from Ireland. The on board shops had rolling sales events focusing on watches & jewelry one day, clothes the next, alcohol and cigarettes another day and so on. The ship has an art gallery and art to sell at prices from a few hundred pounds to several thousands and they ran a few seminars on aspects of art for those interested. Evening Entertainment The Evening Entertainment was varied and each night multiple activities were on offer. Jazz in the Planet Bar and the Glass House, West End style shows with the excellent Headliners, Comedians, ventriloquists, impersonators in the Playhouse, singers in the Malabar Bar, movies up on the large outdoor TV screen on Deck 15 & 16, Ballroom dancing most nights in the Atrium and more we never got to! We found several performances in the Playhouse of visiting performers got filled quickly so we tended to arrive 20 minutes before the show to get seats. You cannot reserve seats. It’s all a first come first served basis. Newspaper Each night a Horizon daily activities ships newspaper was slipped under your cabin door which detailed the numerous activities going on the next day. It was more than sad not to receive it on our next to last day as it signaled P&O’s lack of interest in us as passengers even though we remained such for another 14 hours. P&O Trips The P&O Trips Ashore which we took were a major disappointment in two of the three occasions. Pass to Fairview House, St Kitts - £19 each. The driver was excellent and told us about the buildings we passed on the 15 minute drive and the house upon arrival was a restored plantation owner’s house. The guide spoke for about 10 minutes in the reception room and left us all to wander for the next 3 hours. Truthfully we looked forward to the tropical gardens but there just wasn’t that much to see. Some exhibits detailed on a sign the full latin name of a plant or shrub but behind the sign only a stump stood! The sugar cane example was dead. The whole garden took about 10 minutes to walk around. Perhaps the time of year might have meant less was in flower but there wasn’t much of a garden anyway. My own was bigger! Waterfall & Gardens St Lucia £45 each was an even bigger disappointment. We travelled in a packed coach with tiny seats and a struggling air conditioning unit for over an hour and a half around hairpin bends and up and down hill and dale to reach a very ordinary waterfall. The fall of 30 feet is far from spectacular and the appearance of concrete and chicken wire as part of the waterfall made it almost un-photographic. The pool it fell into was tiny and tricked away into a stream heading off to the right. Hundreds of other tourists streamed in and out as we struggled to understand why we had been taken to this location. A few donned swimwear and stood in the small pool while the water fell on their heads & shoulders. It was a massive disappointment. However the “Garden” was equally unimpressive when we got to it. Owned by the restaurant owner we were about to visit it consisted of a path past some thoughtful religious quotations which weaved its way down and up a small incline and contained some wooden structures and a pond with fish in it. Less than a minute away was the restaurant and its owner who provided what has to be the smallest and meanest subsistence I have ever received on any tour. The small plastic plate was no more than the size of a saucer and its contents were 4 in number and paltry in content. One chicken wing each was part of it. The drink was a very watered down juice of some sort. He invited us to buy beers and drinks but I don’t believe he got any takers. There were only one photo stop where we could exit the coach just to take pictures and the other photo opportunities were only accessible if you sat on the right side of the coach. Taken in its entirety the £90 paid for a bone rattling 3 hour journey to/from a non-site and be fed morsels of food was a complete rip off of £90. No sales staff appeared at the sales desks that night that I could find and probably just as well. I completed my customer questionnaire and invited contact but have not had any to date. Coast to Coast Tour – Barbados £39 each proved to be a reasonably good tour in that it did what it said it would and took us across the island visiting the beaches (10 minute stop), a church (20 minutes) and a refreshment/ photo stop where at 10.30am we drank a rum cocktail. The driver was informative and good humored and we enjoyed the 4 hour outing. My Cruise DVD - £16.95 I purchased the DVD but would not advise others to do so as the DVD is largely a marketing tool for P&O including pre-recorded clips on the ship & the islands. The unavailability of the DVD until the second last night of the cruise is a mystery as so little of the actual cruise is included in the end product. Very little of our actual cruise features in the DVD. There are some video clips from the Sailaway parties but largely of the back of people’s heads. The captain’s speech is given prominence with again the back of people’s heads. The excellent stage shows are shown without actual audio but a homogenous general overriding music track. The Azura Choir’s performance of 40 minutes is brutally edited down to 8 minutes and leaves out all the four part harmony and several decent performances.It also excludes the thanks given on camera by the choir to Emma and Robert. This is despite me being told by the Photography Team on their desk that it would all be included but as an extra on the DVD. Not so. Flight home from Barbados We were coached from the Azura on Saturday at 12.30 to the airport and flew to Manchester on a Thomas Cook A330. The plane sat three rows of three passengers across the main body of the craft. The width of the seats was extremely narrow forcing passengers to crush together. The flight was 8 hours long. No headphones were provided as, apparently the Manchester to Barbados customers had taken the headsets with them. We’d paid for two allocated seats in a two seat section when we booked the cruise as my wife has severe back problems and would need to walk about but Thomas Cook changed the plane type so we were trapped by a third person who fell asleep snoring loudly and restricted us to our seats. In summary we had a fantastic holiday and were sad to be going home. There were opportunities for P&O to make it a perfect holiday but though they fell short I’d give them another chance.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
We were fortunate enough to sail on Oasis of the Seas' first transatlantic cruise. The weather and seas could not have been better. Many have already commented that the ship is so large one can always find a quite spot in spite of ... Read More
We were fortunate enough to sail on Oasis of the Seas' first transatlantic cruise. The weather and seas could not have been better. Many have already commented that the ship is so large one can always find a quite spot in spite of 5000 passengers and 2000 crew sailing along with you. Our spot was after if the ship on either decks 11, 12 or 14. We found that the various food venues affered a variety of foods and dining experiences. We generally preferred the dining room when we just wanted a leisurely meal; although we ate at several of the other venues. The Park Avenue Cafe was usually crowded and had the feel of a cafeteria. The Wipe out cafe and the a solarium Bistro had the advantage of sitting outdoors in one's bathing suit. Personally I found the food selection in the dining room to be less appealing on the Oasis compared to our cruise in March '14 on the Freedom of the Seas. The Windjammer also had a very different setup from Freedom. There were plenty of choices, but it took a while to figure out where the foods were that we preferred. It was not our favorite place to eat. Because we were traveling east, we had to account for 6 hours of lost time before we reached Barcelona. The hours were subtracted for 6 consecutive days at noon. Everyone was relieved to get that extra hour back before the end of the voyage. We went to just about all the evening entertainment and found it to be top notch. Only one night would be considered typical cruise entertainment. I assume because this was Oasis' first transatlantic there was a great deal of confusion with scheduling reservations for shows. Hopefully they have their system worked out for the return trip in Oct. We had signed up through roll call to sit with a group of 15 people for our evening dining.. After about 6 days we decided we wanted a quieter venue and was able to change our table to the main floor next to the piano. This was a good move for us since we finished out a table for 6 which allowed for easier conversation. We only docked at one port on our journey. That was Malaga. We chose to stay in port and ride the hop on hop off bus. It was easy to find since one of its stops was just a block north of the location the dock shuttle stopped. Purchase of tickets was at the stop. Because my husband uses a walker we did not get off at any of the stops, but ther seemed to be several that would have been interesting. Our cabin was very adequate. We found the storage space ample, and with the entry door opening out, we were able to leave my husbands walker near the door and out of the way. We had a balcony on the starboard side. We didn't want to sit in the sun, so that worked fine for us. We had shade a good deal of the day because of the overhang above the 14th deck. Embarkation and disembarkation both went very smoothly. The longest wait we had was waiting for a taxi in Barcelona getting off the ship. My husband simply sat on his walker with the luggage near the taxi stand, and I walked through the queue. All in all, it was a great cruise. The ship is beautiful with lots of activities to keep one occupied for so many days at sea. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
Royal Baltics and Transatlantic 9/2/14-9/27/14 Embarkation We got on the ship quickly with plenty of time to settle in and explore before muster. The ship was the same as it had been last year when we spent a month on it; large and laid ... Read More
Royal Baltics and Transatlantic 9/2/14-9/27/14 Embarkation We got on the ship quickly with plenty of time to settle in and explore before muster. The ship was the same as it had been last year when we spent a month on it; large and laid out well but still lacking a full promenade deck outside. We went to trivia and quickly found some partners who were good, although Ken was the star player. We won our first trivia and got water bottles, I figure by the end of the cruise we might be able to build a raft of water bottles! Muster was quick and very small and I was surprised how few people there were at muster, not realizing what a small number of people were checking in from Berlin. This was a weird cruise in that it was sold many different ways. Some people embarked in Copenhagen three days before Berlin, some in St. Petersburg, and many embarked in Copenhagen 9/10/14 for the transatlantic. Our dinner was OK, in spite of asking for a large table for 8-10, we were put at a table of 4 and ate alone since our table mates were off in Berlin. We didn't leave Berlin until 10:30 PM. The following day we changed our table to a larger one for 8 and all of our friend joined us at early seating and this became the highlight of the cruise in many ways. On turnaround day we changed our table of 8 to a table of 10 and that undoubtedly became the highlight of everyone’s cruise. We all looked forward to dinner each night, and maybe gained a few pounds too, afte rall food taste better when shared with good friends Problems in the Cabin I Woke up the first morning ready to embrace the day. I had been on the Royal last year for 30 days and experienced some issues so I was ready to embrace a new and improved ship. This was not quite the experience I had. The toilet in my room (A718) was clogged first thing the morning, and you know how that goes when you are traveling. This caused extreme discomfort to us and I spent the morning calling for help. Just like last year, nobody came to fix the toilet until I called 5 times, not my favorite way to start a cruise. We had to vacate the room and race to use the public bathrooms, then to the front desk to ask for help in person, this being the most effective method of eliciting help on this ship. Good grief, I swear I am not doing anything different on this ship than I do on others so I don't understand what the problem is. Could it be related to the power blackout we had yesterday right after we boarded? Problems on the ship Some cruise critic friends took my rear facing deluxe balcony C743 (from last year’s cruise), the infamous soot room, and were beside themselves with how bad it smelled, how much tar was on their balcony, and how unusable it was. Please beware that the issues around the sooty aft cabins, and the plumbing problems still exist. If you have booked any of the aft cabins beware that there has been no fix. Laundry service was another problem, taking 3+ days from the beginning of the cruise, and throughout the cruise the time grew longer, usually 5-6 days. Having spent 10 nights in Berlin pre cruise, I had lots of dirty clothing and was not expecting to encounter this kind of delay. To add insult to injury, close to the close of the first segment of the cruise (the Baltics) they offered a “stuff a laundry” bag promotion where everybody could get as much laundry done as they could fit in a bag for $20. This probably caused more delays for us elite members who were getting our laundry done as a benefit. I refrain to call it free because we spend a lot of money taking a lot of cruises to gain elite status. Trivia and other Games Otherwise the Cruise staff was excellent. The Cruise Director Lisa Ball was fantastic; she was very involved in all aspects of the shipboard activities and even called trivia. We really enjoyed her presence and appreciated how involved and active she was, truly a team player and in no way full of herself like some CD’s can be. Lisa really set the bar high for me! Food/Dining experiences-- Main Dining Room We had the best dining table ever, seating for 10--infamous Table for 10 group--and we were close to the back with decent views of the water. Our table was filled with good friends, people we have cruise with before and got along with well, my dear friends joined us for the Transatlantic portion and they got along fabulously with the rest of the group, becoming instant family. I cannot tell you what a difference the right mix of people make for a successful dinner group. So what if we were loud and raucous every night. We spend each night laughing till our tummies hurt (really) and generally being so jovial that we were infectious. Most of the tables around us became louder and looked like they were having as much fun as we were. Laughter was breaking out all over the place. Yes one of our neighbors look like they were suffering being close to our loud and joyous table, and they looked grumpy and bent out of shape much of the time but I suspect this was how they were all of the time, independent of our proximity. ☺ Our tablemate B (not his real name) started this kleptomaniac routine, which he performed throughout the entire 25 day cruise. He was imitating some lady we had talked about who was on a world cruise and had tried to steal all of the dinnerware, utensils, and whatever else she could get her hands on until she got caught. B would casually start stuffing utensils, sugar containers, plates, glasses, and more, often while the head waiter Arkie (short for Arkadius) stood talking to us about what we did that day, or any special orders we asked for. We laughed and laughed every time Bob did this shtick, as he slowly and surely made all the dinnerware disappear. Then he would stand and all the stuff would fall from his clothing causing all of us to squeal with joy and laughter! No matter how many times he did this, we could not stop laughing at it. B should be a comedian! Our waitress D (short for Dorota) was fantastic, as was her assistant waiter Zoran. Zoran was not around as much as D, I guess he was getting the food all the time, Princess has changed the way the wait staff works and I was told its normal to not see the assistant much. D really put up with us in such a perfect manner; sometimes she faked being stern when we were having food fights, or just being loud and noisy, and other times joining in as if she was part of our group and she was! Our neighbors had appointed her “Queen” of the dining room staff and she regally wore her the crowns they brought for her. She was incredible in her manner and perfect at negotiating large, loud groups! We all loved her dearly. I always order extra vegetables for each night. Initially I had grilled Asparagus and Spinach steamed with garlic brought to the table every night. My tablemates were quick to agree that this was a very good thing, generally the dinner plates do not have many veggies on them and we all loved the extras. As the cruise went on they first ran out of Asparagus, then they ran out of Spinach. I asked for Broccoli instead and it always came steamed with garlic, I think garlic makes everything taste better. During the Baltics portion of the cruise our fixed dining time was 6pm, and during the transatlantic portion, we were supposed to come at 5:30, although we always showed up between 5:45 and 6pm. The only negative to dining at the traditional early seating is that we always missed sail always. The trade off was well worth it, late dining was between 8 and 8:30 and that was just too late for all of us to eat, digest, and get to sleep for early ports. Sabatini’s We went to Sabatini’s to celebrate our friends wedding anniversary on one of the formal nights. We actually dressed for it, although you don’t have to dress formally on formal nights to dine here. We had our infamous Table for 10 group and started at 7pm and we did not finish until close to 11PM, that’s how much fun we had! The food was excellent, with a few exceptions, and service was great too. Food always tastes good when accompanied by good friends and good service. Horizon Court Buffet At the beginning of the cruise the HC is incredible, do try to make it up there on day one for lunch because you will be amazed at the variety they have there, including 4 carving stations. We often went up to the massive buffet at 11:25 am, a perfect time for Ken to grab breakfast and me, lunch, timing being everything here. I always grabbed some yummy grilled veggies, wild rice and asparagus, some lean brisket or other lean meat, Roasted Chicken, and a veggie salad with lo cal dressing. There were many healthy options in the Buffet, no need to feel deprived if dieting. I really enjoyed eating at the HC for Breakfasts and lunch, but really hated it at dinner. The dinner options were far less abundant than the options during the day. Half of the Horizon Court was closed, or refashioned for Fondues or the Crab Shack. The grill area was always closed, no yummy fresh grilled veggies or meats for dinner were ever available, although they always has several carving stations opened. At dinnertime nuts and dried fruits and lot of veggies and meats were plentiful but as the cruise progressed they seemed to run out leaving less options. I tried to make a trail mix to take with me on port days as a snack, don’t forget to bring ziplock baggies for this. At 5:30 pm there is always an array of deli meats and sandwiches which can be used to make sandwiches for the next days port visit, if you are so inclined to do that this is the place. On several occasions we brought the infamous table for 10 group to the HC, we even found a table for 10 and this became our alternative dining spot although we only ate here twice because of late port visits or because we wanted to see a sail away. Formal Nights On our first formal night, we dressed for it but hated to as we always do! I noticed that lots of people did not dress for formal nights, many choose to eat at the Buffet. I think we ended up dressing for every formal night except the last, mostly because one of the 10 enjoyed it so much and we wanted to make her happy! Man Overboard During one of the last sea days there was a surprising “man overboard” announcement and we were all asked to go back to our cabins for a head count. Everybody did this pretty quickly and mostly hung over the balcony railings looking for whomever had jumped ship. Our room Steward came by and noted we were in our cabin. Meanwhile I noticed a beach ball like red thing floating in the water off the port side of the ship, by this time Captain Sagani had turned the ship around and we were heading back the way we came. A tender boat was lowered into the water and I saw it heading straight for the red ball then suddenly it turned and started going away from it. I could not believe this, I grabbed the phone and called passenger services and told them to tell the captain that the red floating thing was off the port side at 11 o’clock. After a few minutes, the tender boat turned and headed straight for the red thing and in quick time they determined it was nothing more than a fishing marker. Captain Sagani came on and told us that the passengers and crew were all accounted for, complimenting us on one of the quickest counts he had ever seen, and also thanking the passenger who called and directed them to where the red ball was. I hope I was not the only person who called. Meet and Greets (2) We had two M&G’s, the first one was during the “Most Traveled lunch” and only one staff member showed up and he was very late. That staff member was the Safety officer and he was hijacked by several people who were having soot issues, poor guy he did invite questions! The second M&G was more crowded and a few more crew members attended including the CD. Both were in Club 6, not terribly conducive large groups and lots of folks had to stand or sit on the floor during the introductions. I know I missed this because I was sitting in the center part of the room and all the activities took place close to the bar area, which is also the smallest area! Ports and Princess Tours We did one Princess tour during the 25 day cruise, and this was in Kristiansand, Norway. We did a cruise through the Blindleia Passage to Lillesand, a cute and charming little town which was quite scenic. The cruise was nice but the guide was not very exciting and I just didn’t feel any passion or love from him, something I notice that good guides always have. The town was mostly closed, not only because it was early in the day but also because it was late in the season and most residents were there for the summer only. Finally, we only had a half hour to visit this place and it was not enough time to walk through the narrow lanes of the town, so we didn’t see much of it at all. The excursion was not worth the money we spent on it at all! Other than that, we only did private tours. Disembarkation Disembarkation was quick and easy, especially since we booked a transfer to the airport with Princess. We left our room by 8:30am and waited no more than 20-30 minutes in our appointed meeting place before we got off the ship. Immigration was quick and easy, and our luggage was neatly placed in its proper area and we found a porter who hauled our 3 pieces to our transfer bus and off we went to La Guardia. Unfortunately our driver was unable to take us to the departure area of the airport, he grumbled some excuse and dumped us at the arrival terminal and we had to schlep our luggage upstairs to find the proper check in area. This was a mess and most of the folks just grabbed their luggage and dragged it up to the proper place, like us. I did notice that the excuse our driver made, that his bus was too high, there were no restrictions on height up at the departures area and we had been duped by a lazy, know-nothing bus driver!   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
Our on board experience was a huge disappointment and afar cry from their adverts and brochures. Indeed even a far cry from past on board experiences. The ship looked badly worn and neglected, especially carpets and furniture. Sewerage ... Read More
Our on board experience was a huge disappointment and afar cry from their adverts and brochures. Indeed even a far cry from past on board experiences. The ship looked badly worn and neglected, especially carpets and furniture. Sewerage smells seem a recurring problem. Service in the Britannia Restaurant was below standard. Service was very slow and meals took over 2 hours from start to finish with long gaps during which they tried to keep diners happy with endless bread rolls. The dress code was not enforce and at night we encountered many passnegers who dressed like from a Council Estate. Staff appeared demotivated and and in a bad mood. Ship felt like Titanic. A museum piece rather than a luxury vessel. Please don't waste your money on Cunard. Try Celebrity Cruises instead if you are looking for a luxurios experience. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
Summary: First ever Atlantic crossing for us, was serviced well on a nicely appointed ship. Seeing the open ocean (versus Caribbean) from a low deck ocean view cabin was breathtaking. Recommended. Detail: We'd sailed twice before with ... Read More
Summary: First ever Atlantic crossing for us, was serviced well on a nicely appointed ship. Seeing the open ocean (versus Caribbean) from a low deck ocean view cabin was breathtaking. Recommended. Detail: We'd sailed twice before with Celebrity with no disappointment. Although at the end the length became slightly monotonous, we love days at sea (versus in port), so it was fine. The weather was much better than expected for early May (chilly on deck, but the solarium (covered pool) made that nearly irrelevant). On board activities (other than a moderately interesting historical lecture series and a few recent movies) was as tedious as ever, but we seldom pay attention to those things, anyway. Main dining room service was impeccable, meals there and elsewhere on board were good. Price was excellent for the length of cruise, ignoring the need to pay for an air return to the U.S. from the U.K. Only real negative was the constant emphasis on hand sanitation and denial of direct access to beverage stations, forced by an outbreak of novovirus aboard during the prior leg. After a federal inspection, beverage station access was relaxed, however. Loved the ship -- considerably better than for the two Carnival cruises we've taken. The transatlantic itinerary ensured that there were very few children (mostly middle-aged and older couples, with a surprising number of older singles) -- which appealed to us enormously. No water slides or splashing around in the hot tubs. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
The Constellation sailed on a 15 day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Amsterdam. The intermediate ports were Lisbon, Le Havre, Dover, and Zeebrugge. We enjoyed the smaller ship and thought the Connie was in good shape for its age. The ... Read More
The Constellation sailed on a 15 day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Amsterdam. The intermediate ports were Lisbon, Le Havre, Dover, and Zeebrugge. We enjoyed the smaller ship and thought the Connie was in good shape for its age. The weather was windy and rainy as we hit the northern ports, so that detracted some from our enjoyment of the cruise. The big difference between this cruise and the other six transatlantic cruises we have taken was the entertainment. On those other cruises the entertainment has been fair at best, but this one was different. We had two very good male singers and one good female singer from London's West End. The comedian was funny and the comedic juggler was a stitch. Singers and dancers were good, but the best shows by far were the classical music shows (even though I am not a big fan of classical). The concert pianist was Brooks Aehron from London. He was not only great on the piano, but was funnier than the comedian. He let us know at his second show that Celebrity was trying something new - the presentation of a young future star of the classical music world. On this cruise he accompanied Andrea Amat, an incredible young flute player. Her "Flight of the Bumblebee" was amazing. Hope that Celebrity keeps this program going. The only shows we did not enjoy were the magician (standard stuff with no comedy) and four girls who did Beatles music (they were OK, but would rather have four men). We missed the violinist but were told that he was very good.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
My husband and I had the worst cruise in 25 years of cruising. We were due to leave Southampton on 20th December but the Captain announced that due to heavy storms we would have to stay in port overnight and leave the following afternoon. ... Read More
My husband and I had the worst cruise in 25 years of cruising. We were due to leave Southampton on 20th December but the Captain announced that due to heavy storms we would have to stay in port overnight and leave the following afternoon. We have subsequently discovered that we believe the delay was due to technical problems with the ship, bearing in mind this ship had a 2 day breakdown on the previous cruise, and a further breakdown on the following cruise. So because we were late leaving, our stop in Madeira was cancelled and our first stop would be Barbados after 11 sea days. We actually sailed past Madeira half a day later than scheduled so we could have had a stop there. The P&O ship Aurora left Southampton on the day we were due to leave so how did that ship weather the storm.? We could have left on time we were sure if the ship was mechanically fit. The first week onboard was a nightmare, the weather was awful and a lot of passengers were seasick, me included, I couldn't wait to reach a port, any port. The captain announced that we were only going to be able to have three and a half days port stops instead of the scheduled seven stops. We emailed Fred Olsen to show our disappointment and eventually the port stops were extended a bit, but still only 4 and a half days, everyone was disgusted. On top of all this people were so upset at having to pay £2 a day to have their dining time changed, it is an absolute ripoff. People should ask for the opposite sitting to the one they want because it is a money spinner for Fred. Then they closed one of the bars for 4or5 daysto redecorate it, can you beleive this. The next bombshell was workmen turned up and started moving a companionway on two decks. There was drilling and sawing all day for days on end, and tarpaulin coverings which looked so shabby, So many people complained that they stopped daytime work and started nightwork on both decks.You couldn't make it up. So many people couldn't sleep with the noise that the workmen went back to daytime work. It was so disrespectful to all the passengers onboard, no compensation was offered, not even a complementary bottle of wine on each table. Can you imagine it, sitting on deck, or eating lunch on deck and looking at men working on your deck and the one below, I could go on and on about our total disappointment with this cruise, the food was very average, not up to previous Fred Olsen cruises. We have cruised with P&O, Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Princess and never ever experienced anything like this. We have used Fred Olsen cruises for years, we are gold members, and have always recommended them as good value for money and really lovely waiters, cabin crew and reception staff, in fact all the crew have always been exceptional, but since old Fred handed over to young Fred it has all gone to pot, it is such a shame. I really think because of all these cutbacks and lack of consideration for their passengers enjoyment that their days are numbered. We are very upset by this and so are many other Fred Olsen passengers that we know. Bring back original Fred please. I would never cruise on the Black watch again. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
Overall I found the Celebrity Reflection a very nice ship - modern, clean with a lovely, soft-toned décor. With regard to the food, I enjoyed the variety and freshness of the food in the buffet. The times we ate in the dining room I was ... Read More
Overall I found the Celebrity Reflection a very nice ship - modern, clean with a lovely, soft-toned décor. With regard to the food, I enjoyed the variety and freshness of the food in the buffet. The times we ate in the dining room I was less than impressed - each meal I had was so-so, nothing to write home about. (However, as anytime diners we never waited long to get seats in the dining room which was good.) Consequently, my preference for a lot of meals was actually the buffet - fresher and more variety as I have said. We didn't try any of the specialty restaurants. I found the coffee everywhere onboard terrible!! There was plenty to do onboard. We played trivia a few times and enjoyed it but thought that more effort could have been made to organize groups of six - sometimes people are reticent to go up to strangers themselves and ask to be part of a group so maybe staff could help coordinate this a little more (if some folks don't want to be part of a group they could just say so and remain apart but I think it's more fun to be part of a group.) I have been on other cruises where miniature golf is offered and I missed not having that option on this cruise. There is so much grass on the Reflection you would think some of it could be used for a small golf course - it gets people socializing and is a lot of fun. As mentioned above, I think there is actually too much space allotted to grass on the Reflection which could be used for other activities (e.g. miniature golf, etc.). Also I could not understand why so much space is allotted to a basketball court - it was hardly used on the cruise as far as I could see (I am a walker and passed by it several times each day). I would say the average age on our cruise was 60 years and older - hardly the demographic that plays basketball! Again, a wasted use of space as far as I could determine. I was bothered quite often in certain areas of the ship by cigarette smoking. I do not think it should be allowed at all on any ship for safety reasons let alone in as many areas as it was permitted on the Reflection - I am sure not every smoker onboard is totally responsible and the possibility of a cigarette starting a fire is a real possibility - for this reason plus the offensive smell I think it should be completely banned. One thing I found strange in the buffet was the cutlery which was wrapped in dark blue napkins - it consisted of a knife and fork of normal size plus a huge spoon. Why not a normal sized spoon that can be used for stirring coffee, eating desserts such as ice cream and so on. This was a small thing but something I found very peculiar. Every day I had to look for a smaller sized spoon to aid with eating my meals. The only thing a large spoon is really good for is eating soup so it would be good if a smaller spoon could be included in the blue napkin cutlery. As mentioned in my first paragraph, overall I really enjoyed the ship, especially the spaciousness - never overcrowded in the elevators, always fairly easy to find a lounge chair on deck in a good area. I also found the staff very courteous, pleasant and hard working. If the negative points I have outlined above could be improved upon,8121 I wouldn't have had much to complain about. Thanks for a lovely cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
OK, well, there was nothing really bad about the QM2, but I still came away from the cruise feeling dissatisfied. I am 60 y/o. I would guess the average age on this ship was probably 80 y/o. I mean there were probably 90 year olds plus ... Read More
OK, well, there was nothing really bad about the QM2, but I still came away from the cruise feeling dissatisfied. I am 60 y/o. I would guess the average age on this ship was probably 80 y/o. I mean there were probably 90 year olds plus roaming around this ship....no kidding. That's great, because when I'm 90, I hope I'm still inclined to jump on a ship and travel across the Atlantic. So, not really knowing whether my problem with this cruise was the ship or the itinerary, I thought I'd just give you my impression of the QM2 and leave it at that. First, the ship is laid out in a way unlike any other cruise ship I've ever been on. Yes, there's a small central atrium, but most "go to" spots are at either end of the ship or on deck 7, 3, 4, 9, 10 or 11. Get the picture? That's right, it's kind of spread out and almost hidden in a way. Get off elevator A on deck 9 and walk around to the right and "presto" you're in the Commodore Club. There's no real special entry or sign there to let you know it's there. In fact, if you had turned to the left, you'd have been walking past staterooms. For those of us who've cruised on other ships (including Cunard's Queen Victoria), the lay-out of the Mary is unusual. That doesn't mean it's bad, mind you, just, let's say, different. It's obvious that the QM2 specializes, and expects you to take advantage of, the regular dining rooms for all meals. The buffet seemed to be an afterthought on this ship, and somewhat of a disappointment. They only open one or two of the food stations every three hours. So, if you are used to finding food at one corner of the buffet, you may find it closed the next time you visit the buffet. The food was OK both in the dining rooms and the buffet, but they still seem to be stuck in that old, bland British fare that, fortunately, the UK is pulling itself out of. Still, with an older clientele sailing on this ship, I'm sure the Chef would get more complaints if he tried to "rock the recipe boat"(pun intended) and introduce more contemporary offerings. They had 2 soft-serve ice cream machines in the buffet. One that didn't work well and the other that didn't work at all. I think the highlight of the buffet was the "Chef's Galley". This is a specialty sandwich area of the buffet that serves really decent burgers, hot dogs and designer sandwiches throughout the lunch hour. Service....what can I say. It's the Cunard. How could you ask for better service? The crew that work on these ships seem pleased to be there. They are happy to help in any way they can, and genuinely care about you while you are a guest on their ship. I have yet to find a Cunard crew member that is anything less that professional and congenial. With that being written, let me just mention a crew member on the QM2 that, I feel, is truly exceptional. His name is Atilla (from Hungary) and he is the Assistant Dining Room Manager. The man is a machine. I mean he never, never stops. One minute you'll see him on the lower dining room floor picking up dirty plates, and (honestly) literally, the next minute he'll be seating some people at the table next to you. He is, without question, the most phenomenal worker I've ever seen on any cruise ship. What's more, the smile never leaves his face the whole time. He will absolutely captivate you if you are at all into noticing how hard service people work on these ships. We are not keen on attending the shows in the theater on any ship we sail. They seem to all have the same idea of what's entertainment, and I think another Cruise Critic reviewer said it best when he described it as one step above a high school musical. This transatlantic voyage, however, had 3 or 4 lecturers on board during the daytime, that seemed to captivate all travelers across the age spectrum. Kudos to Cunard for choosing people to speak that so many of your guests would love to hear. Cunard is known for providing laundry rooms on each deck for its passengers(unlike Celebrity and Royal Caribbean...booooooo to you).Thank you, Cunard! These little rooms have 2 ironing boards and 4 washers and 4 dryers (all for free including detergent). OK, so why did I have this feeling of lack luster after the QM2 cruise was completed? I'm thinking that the journey was really one of utilitarian nature. I was sailing from one place to get to another. I should not have expected to be mesmerized by the ports of call, the scenery or tropical weather any more than I would be taking a commuter train between New York and Washington,D.C. This cruise got me whare I wanted to go in comfort and without distress. What more could I ask?   Read Less

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