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6,047 Repositioning Cruise Reviews

We are two sixty-somethings who have been cruising since 2005. We have cruised on Carnival, Princess and are C&A Diamond Members on RCCL. This was our 4th transatlantic but first on RCCL (three on Princess) and our 24th cruise overall. ... Read More
We are two sixty-somethings who have been cruising since 2005. We have cruised on Carnival, Princess and are C&A Diamond Members on RCCL. This was our 4th transatlantic but first on RCCL (three on Princess) and our 24th cruise overall. We typically do 2 transatlantics a year to take advantage of R/T airfare. I will briefly mention prices throughout the review as many folks are interested in that information.We flew to FLL from Syracuse on Delta with no problems. We stayed at the Comfort Inn and Suites Cruiseport on S Federal Highway. We got a great rate through Skoosh ($80 per night) which included breakfast and free airport shuttle. The hotel offers a shuttle to the cruise port for $5 but we opted for a taxi ($10) as we wanted to get an early start. We arrived at the ship at 10:30 and were on board by 11:00. Embarkation was a breeze. Most folks head to the windjammer but our routine is a bit different. We head to the Pub on the Royal Promenade. I scoop the seats and order a couple of tall Murphys Red drafts will my DW goes to the Promenade Cafe and scoops the munchies. They offer sandwiches, pizza, sweets, cookies and fruit. It's never crowded and we avoid the pandemonium that seems a fixture of the Windjammer on embarkation day. Then we settle in and watch the people coming on board as they ooh and aah their way down the promenade. Rooms were available at 1 pm and our luggage arrived shortly thereafter. We were in a D3 #6360 on the starboard side. Our champagne was waiting but NOT iced down. This was soon remedied by a passing waiter. Our stateroom attendant, Jeanette, stopped by to introduce herself and we gave her our little list of immediate needs (feather pillows, robes, extra hangers, twin beds, extra towels, empty out the fridge etc.) and we gave her a nice tip for her prompt attention to our needs. Muster was at 4:00 and it was the shortest we have ever had. I still like the Princess way where muster is held in the lounges sitting down in air conditioned luxury. Sailaway found us toasting our new adventure on our balcony as we left Ft Lauderdale in our wake.We had a table for two in the Nutcracker Dining Room late traditional at 8 pm. Our waiter was Darius and his assistant was Jean. They were good but not outstanding. Our Headwaiter was conspicuous by his absence. He stopped by a few times but was less than engaging. We opted for the Diamond wine package and were pleased with the selections. I'm not sure what folks are expecting but at a cost of $25 per bottle with the package, we thought it was as good or better than typical restaurant selections and prices. We took a couple bottles to our stateroom to enjoy at sailaways. A word about the food on this cruise...GREAT!!! Once again, I'm not sure what folks expect from a mass-market cruiseline but we were quite pleased with the quality, selection and presentation. We had most of our meals in the dining room but took advantage of the extended hours in the Windjammer on days when we couldn't get to the dining room. We thought that the food was quite good there as well. We did dine at Portofino one night and it was delightful as usual. The shrimp risotto is just the best!To adjust for the time change, clocks were turned ahead at noon. this seemed to work very well.The library on deck seven was the most disorganized we have ever encountered. Nothing alphabetized and no method to the madness. We had brought several books with us and took advantage of the books left by our fellow cruisers for exchange.The Diamond Event was held in the Dungeon each evening from 4:30-8:00 pm. It's a bit dark and claustrophobic in there but after the second glass of wine, we found we could enjoy ourselves quite well thank you.We can't comment on the shows as we never attended a single one! We did attempt to see a movie in the Screening Room once but it was a fiasco. By the time the first-showing guests had squeezed their way past those pushing their way in to get the best seats, the movie had started and the only seats left were much too close to the screen. Points for Princess in this regard as their theater has more seats and allots few minutes between screenings to allow for an orderly transition.Ports visited included Tenerife, Mallorca and Ajaccio. We did no excursions as this was the first time we had visited these ports and we prefer to walk around the town and get the feel of the place before we excurse. We are visiting these same ports later so we'll consider excursions then. Tenerife was OK; Mallorca a bit more interesting; but our favorite by far was Ajaccio. We found a great little restaurant where we had a giant bucket of mussels, crusty bread, frites and house wine for the princely sum of 34 euros. Some might call that expensive; we thought it was cheap at twice the price.We arrived at Civitavecchia quite early and were off the ship by 7:45. We joined others for a shared shuttle into Rome (a big thanks to Chipper and Smiley for arranging this) and were checked into our hotel by noon. We stayed at the Hotel Katty, Via Palestro 35 which we had found through Venere.com. It's a couple blocks from the Metro stop so quite convenient. The price for a double room with bath, fridge and flat-screen TV was 89 euros per night which included breakfast (choice of coffees and massive cream-filled croissants) at a nearby cafe/bar. The hotel was spotlessly clean and we had the best room on the house (top floor corner with a nice view. The typically tiny (maybe ten square feet) elevator was an adventure. There are Internet cafes nearby for checking in for flights. The hotel doesn't offer much in the way of services but it was perfect for us.Our favorite restaurant in Rome is worth a paragraph itself. We happened upon it a few years ago and now it's the only place we eat. It's called Ristorante Pizzeria Carlo Menta, Via della Lungaretta, 101 in Trastevere and it's a 15 minute walk from either the Vatican, Piazza Navonna, the Pantheon or the Vittorio Emmanuelle monument. They offer a tourist menu (I know some folks sneer at these but this one is a winner) with 4 courses (10 euros at lunch; 13 euros at dinner) that is to die for. It starts with fresh tomato and olive oil bruschetta (2 giant hunks), pasta (4 choices; I personally recommend the penne Carlo Menta), a meat course (4 choices; I personally recommend the cotelette de veal Milanese style) and dessert (3 choices; creme caramel, house cake of the day [one day a chocolate cream tart; another an apple tart] and fruit salad [bowl of fruit sections]). We always order a liter of the house red wine (8 euros). There are, of course many other delectable items to choose from and the pizza is some of the best we've ever had. They offer a pizza marinara for 2 euros, pizza margherita for 3 euros and various specialty pizzas for 4-6 euros and they are larger than any other place we've eaten. If you want really good food at reasonable prices, this place is certainly worth a detour.We had opted for a transfer from the hotel to the airport arranged by a fellow cruiser but with time running out and no transportation in sight, we had the hotel car for a taxi and we arrived at the airport just in time to check in. The taxi was 45 euros and our driver was courteous and actually a safe driver!We flew Swiss with one transfer in Zurich and I must say we were very pleased with their aircraft, service, food and amenities. They fed us well and often, drinks (wine or mixed drinks) and movies were free and the service was attentive and friendly. We will certainly fly with them again.In closing, let me say that we had a delightful cruise with RCCL and the entire pre-cruise, cruise, and post-cruise experience went very well. We are now looking forward to our fall transatlantic on the Mariner and subsequent B2B to the Western Caribbean. Bon Voyage to all! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
This is the first cruise i have ever been on my partner has been on at least seven.Embarkation was so easy no messing around on within 15 mins. Champagne welcome on arrival which was a nice touch.Muster drill was straight forward no life ... Read More
This is the first cruise i have ever been on my partner has been on at least seven.Embarkation was so easy no messing around on within 15 mins. Champagne welcome on arrival which was a nice touch.Muster drill was straight forward no life jackets had to be worn you simply had to meet at your designated point and watch the TV screen.Bay of Biscay crossing was a nightmare gale force winds, the captain did warn us before departure but i did not expect it to be so bad i was terrified.In general i would say the ship is nice but too much focus is set on the specialised dining you really do not need so many. The Eclipse theatre was ok but the entertainment was awful i really don't know where they get these people from. one guy did some silly dance whilst removing his very unsavoury hawaiian shirt it was like he was entertaining a bunch of two year olds not educated adults.The main dining room is very nice and our waiter Albert was so lovely the staff could not do enough for you and where very polite.The cruise director was a nice chat but his end of talk chig a chig ah was naff.The food was nice and well presented but i never thought wow.Loved the fruit in the morning and the blueberry sauce.The sky lounge was always full of smoke so we could not go in as i hate smoking and do not like the smell on my cloths.The indoor pool area was very relaxing and probably my favourite part.The room was very nice and clean.All in all i would say it is a nice ship, my partner said it is the least stable ship he has been on.Oh and the soft drinks machine the tropical drink was nice a bit like J20 the lemonade was yuk very much like alka saltza. Would i go again on this ship yes despite the man over board and helicopter drama.Do they need to upgrade the entertainment defenitley yesAre the staff hard workers YES very hard workers Did i have a nice time yes i did. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We took a May transatlantic cruise from Fort Lauderdale ending up in Barcelona with a relaxing 6 straight days at sea. The passengers were mostly experienced 50+ couples with few children or younger people. Most of the passengers I spoke ... Read More
We took a May transatlantic cruise from Fort Lauderdale ending up in Barcelona with a relaxing 6 straight days at sea. The passengers were mostly experienced 50+ couples with few children or younger people. Most of the passengers I spoke with were staying in Europe at least for a few days after the cruise. The cost of a transatlantic cruise compares favorably with business class airfare and approaches coach fares.The ship is beautiful and the cabins very nice especially the enclosed showers. There are apparently lounge chairs for many thousands on the outdoor decks so there was never a problem finding an empty one. The abilities and attitude of the service staff was the best I've experienced in over 10 other cruises.Food was pretty good in the main dining room with exceptionally good service. I'm in the habit of tipping my cabin and dining room servers as I go along, I find it can't hurt. The lunch area has individual service islands which improve traffic flow greatly in my opinion. There was always a large choice of items from salads, pizza and pasta (available almost anytime) to sandwiches, carved meats, Indian, Mexican, hot dishes, etc. The fanciest dining option the Murano was very good, the Tuscan grill average and the Asian Silk Road poor.The on board entertainment was typical although the jazz trio was great. Port stops and tours were also typical.Embarkation at Fort Lauderdale was very quick. Barcelona port was a zoo apparently because 4 large ships arrived at the same time. I would advise pre-booking a port pickup if you are arriving in Barcelona.The bottom line is I enjoyed the cruise so much I booked the October return journey. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Embarkation:Swift, no problems. Usual queue for photographs. Warm welcome when stepping aboard.Staff:Helpful, always smiling, they seemed to genuinely enjoy working on the ship. Always courteous and attentive. Room steward introduced ... Read More
Embarkation:Swift, no problems. Usual queue for photographs. Warm welcome when stepping aboard.Staff:Helpful, always smiling, they seemed to genuinely enjoy working on the ship. Always courteous and attentive. Room steward introduced himself to us, showed us how to operate the TV and demonstrated everything in the room that we needed to know.Food:Manhattan Dining Room; Staff were very knowledgeable about the menu and wines. The food was very well presented but was lukewarm when it arrived, the food itself was fine but have sampled much better on other NCL ships and other cruise lines.Taste Dining Room: The menu was the same as the Manhattan but was always piping hot. We were given a tip that Taste was much nearer to the kitchens than Manhattan so the food was always hot. We ate here most evenings and never had to queue for more than 5 minutes.Garden Cafe: Not as well laid out as some of the older NCL ships but never any real queues for food or tables. The food was OK but not much variety. The desserts were very poor and again little variety, the same two hot desserts every day, just different fruits used in them.Le Bistro: Excellent. Food 1st class. Staff attentive and knowledgeable of every dish served. We couldn't make our minds up on the desserts so they brought one of everything. Worth the $20 cover charge. Ate here a few times.A little disappointed that we need to go to a restaurant with a cover charge to get first class food.Stateroom:Our room was excellent. Plenty of storage space. Everything we needed, even a filter coffee machine. Bathrobes were lovely and thick and of good quality. Toiletries were Elemis and were re-stocked regularly. We thought the layout of the shower, toilet and sink were very good, can't understand why some reviews thought it poor, if you needed privacy you just pulled the curtain across. We had problems with our shower tray over flowing but this was put right within an hour of reporting it.Flat screen interactive TV. Plenty of powere points.My only complaints are, not a lot of room between bed and vanity unit, sat using the hair drier (hair drier very good) didn't allow my husband much room to squeeze past. (we are not big people)We felt the furniture on the balcony could have been better. A larger table and reclining chairs.Entertainment:Good all round entertainment, plenty of variety with something for everyone. The trivia quizzes were great fun and always well attended. Murder mystery lunch was great fun, however the food was poor with no choice of start, 2 choices of main and no choice of dessert.The shows in the theatre were very good apart from the ventriloquist who's material was poor and outdated.Second City were great, very entertaining, very funny, enjoyed several of their shows.Howl at the Moon were amazing, spent many a happy hour listening to them. Sydney and Drew were the stars of the ship.The entertainment staff were very good and imaginative with the entertainment they provided.The casino had lots of variety and the staff were always willing to give lessons on the gaming tables.Pool Area:Plenty of sun beds available with staff willing to move the beds for you if needed. The whole area was always spotlessly clean. The water slides I'm told by my husband were great fun.Adult only area was great to relax in peace and quiet especially when the Nickelodeon crew were by the main pool.The spa was very restful, however you needed to get there early in the morning to get a bed.Overall we had the perfect cruise aboard the Epic. We met some great people who we hope to meet up with again next year.The whole experience from start to finish was perfect. The ship was only half full so whether our experience would be any different if it was full, maybe we will find out when we sail on her again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
First Timers sailing with Cunard Queen Mary 2 transatlantic from Southampton to New York. Absolutely faultless cruise from start to finish and can highly recommend.Booked Princess Grill but on day of embarkation we were upgraded to a ... Read More
First Timers sailing with Cunard Queen Mary 2 transatlantic from Southampton to New York. Absolutely faultless cruise from start to finish and can highly recommend.Booked Princess Grill but on day of embarkation we were upgraded to a Queens Grill suite on Deck 9 midships - delighted of course! The cabin was spacious with a walk in closet and very good sized bathroom with whirlpool bath. Well stocked fridge with soft drinks, water, beers etc all complimentary. In addition we were offered 2 bottles of alcohol in cabin, again free of charge. Fruit, nibbles replenished daily. Queens Grill dining perfect, very high standard of food and our waiters were just fantastic, very relaxed, friendly and efficient!! In fact all the Cunard staff were brilliant and we found the atmosphere extemely pleasant and welcoming. Seperate QG lounge for pre-dinner drinks and concierge lounge on our Deck which we visited daily for coffee and to read newpapers. Again a relaxing experience. Fantastic entertainment every night including 3 Balls, shows, dancing, guest soprano and the icing on the cake was the songwrting experience with Squeeze founder Chris Gifford and his musicians and not forgetting Roger Daltrey who sang with the band culminating with a marvellous jam session on the last night of the cruise in the Golden Lion Pub!! Not a fan of the Who myself but his performance changed my mind immediately!! Formal nights were as they should be, very formal with most cruisers donning their best bib and tucker ie dressed to the nines! I was thrilled to be able to wear my long gowns and felt glamorous! Previous cruises with Celebrity saw dress standards slip, not so with Cunard.My husband went to several lectures which he found informative and enjoyable, I retreated to the Spa which proved rather expensive but worth it.Overall a perfect cruise and one that we will repeat in the not too distant future sailing the other way around from New York to UK. If you are considering this trip - I can highly recommend. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We left Montreal the day before the cruise which was leaving Fort Lauderdale on May 2nd, 2011. After having checked the different option, we realized that this extra week at sea was like a bonus. In other words, it would not cost us ... Read More
We left Montreal the day before the cruise which was leaving Fort Lauderdale on May 2nd, 2011. After having checked the different option, we realized that this extra week at sea was like a bonus. In other words, it would not cost us more with airfare to spend this week being spoiled with wonderful food and shows than having organized one week in Europe with airfare! And what a wonderful way to unwind and cross the pond without having to suffer the jet lag. Embarkation went very well (smooth). Before we knew it, we were on the ship, waiting for our room to be ready. What a nice surpise. The room was elegant, well equiped and with this king size bed, we knew we would spend very pleasant time in our quarters. Our room (3110) was right under the Celebrity Central and for those who are worried about the noise, be advised that it was very quiet, maybe except for one night where we heard some voices (very lightly) but it was amazingly quiet all the time. As Celebrity always does, we had our glass of champagne right waiting for us as soon as we set foot on the ship. What a nice touch. For those who are still wondering what kind of clothing to take on a transatlantic, you can go from shorts to long trousers depending of the days. I always favor linen as it is so versatile: not too hot, comfortable and most of it, you always look ok (dinner or on excursion). A light raincoat is always very handy as place like Ponta Delgada can reserve certain rainy days. The food at Silk Harvest was absolutely amazing. We had to order all we wanted to sample right from the beginning so we had to cancell the sushi in the end as although we had asked for very small portion, we ended up being so full it would have gone to waste. The service was so nice, and the waiters always smiling. We were a bit disappointed not to be able to have a reservation at Murano, but as we ate so well in the main dining room, we just did not move fast enough. We were told by the maitre D that on the 3rd day after we left, it was already fully booked. So if you have any intention of going, do make your reservation early after embarkation. Going back to the main dining room food, it was absolutely wonderful. My husband does a lot of cooking at home and he is a foodie. He knows his stuff. And he will tell anyone who wants to hear it that Celebrity is top notch. As for the service, once again, you only had to express your desire and the your waiters would be going through all the motions to get you what you wanted. really, a great experience all the way. I can still remember the seafood risotto they serve with the lobster tail one evening. It was to die for. The creme brulee is as good as I had read on cruise critic, but the souffle (chocolate one night and Grand Marnier another night) was exquisite. The shows were of great quality. We have especially appreciated the violonist Nicola Loud, as well as the lady from London West End who was in the cast of Les Miserables as well as Evita. The pianist (Brooke) was also very very good, sharing not only his music, but his passion for it. Rare are the entertainers who can deliver such a history, captivating his audience this well. Thank you Celebrity for bringing such high quality entertainment. Furthermore, we had the great pleasure of seeing them again during matinee performance, organized by our cruise director Drew Pavlov. The 2 days we had brunch were, of course, very appreciated. So much choice, it is almost unbeleivable. Once again a great Celebrity signature. We did not attend the two High tea as we felt it would be ridiculous to pay $25 for a champagne tea at 2.30 as there was so much place to eat during the day. It is however an experience if you want to do it. Very civilized, of course! Ponta Delgada reminded us of Madeira and Tenerife. The Portugese influence shows in the architecture and we enjoyed every minute of it. We took the little train for 2 tours, one that took us in the city gardens (beautiful) and the other one was more historic. For 5 Euros each 45 minutes tour, you could not go wrong. (I think you can find the info on www.lagarda.com). You can take it on the street along the sea, not too far from where you see the landmark with the 3 arches. Toulon (France). A military port, Toulon has more and more an impression of being somewhere in Tunisia, with its market and cafes like Le Carthagene who reminded me of the visit in Tunis a few years ago. If you walk up towards the train station, you will discover the Place de la Liberte (Freedom Place) which is a nice square with little terrace to have a coffee or a meal. Personnally, I would recommend you organize to go to Aix en Provence or somewhere else. Toulon does not have enough to offer. We were told by the people there that we would not have enough time to go by train to Aix en Provence, but we found out there is a TGV (fast train) that would work with the time we are into port. Some Greman people had already bought their ticket on internet. That is if you do not want to buy the excursion from the ship. Our last reflexion: We came to the conclusion that after having experienced many cruise lines, we can safely say that our 2 favorite ones are Celebrity and Princess. If we could combine the 2 together, it would be the ultimate experience: Princess with its lively well thought of Piazza and its free 4 o'clock high tea and Celebrity with its top notch service and food... It would be heaven on the high seas. Thanks and see you at sea one day maybe. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Spent several days at the Port of Miami Holiday Inn on Bayside, as we had not visited Miami before. Very convenient for sightseeing and comfortable. Short taxi ride to the port .Embarkation in Miami was simple & efficient. In all, ... Read More
Spent several days at the Port of Miami Holiday Inn on Bayside, as we had not visited Miami before. Very convenient for sightseeing and comfortable. Short taxi ride to the port .Embarkation in Miami was simple & efficient. In all, about 30 minutes & we were walking aboard at 1pm.Cheerful welcome from the crew & we had our first meal in Taste.Staterooms were available after 1.30We had a Mini Suite ( MC), on deck 10 starboard aft.Very pleased with the layout, plenty of storage, nice layout with bed next to balcony, bath & shower, deep balcony, safe, bathrobes, coffee maker, flat screen TV, etc It appeared to be very clean & smelt new. Our stateroom attendant introduced himself and looked after us for the whole cruise with great service, & with a cheerful smile.We enjoyed our stateroom, it became our home.Slept well & the powershower & bath were a real bonus. Fantastic departure from Miami, sun was shining, two Celebrity ships left before us, and from deck 18, we had a great view of Miami Beach.This deck was great for relaxation and hardly used at all.First impressions of the ship were its size, how new everything appeared, spotlessly clean with smiling, friendly staff.Easy to navigate round, as most of the activities and services were located on deck 5, 6 & 7., or up on 14 & 15.With lift or stair access only forward or aft, I can imagine that some would have found the extra walking a little tedious, although there were stairs & an escalator connecting 5,6 & 7 midships.DiningBreakfast & Lunch. We ate each day in the Garden Cafe & found the choice extensive , well presented & very tasty. The salad bar was fantastic, curries superb, and just about every combination of food you could possibly want. Again staff were cheerful, and the chefs loved receiving compliments. (who wouldn't ?)!The added bonus are the views, as its located on deck 15 right at the front of the ship.Never had a problem getting a window seat. La Cucina on deck 14, just underneath the Garden Cafe and reached via a staircase, was open with additional seating. One tip, eat down here at least once for an amazing grandstand view. You really feel as if you are flying over the waves!!O'Sheehan's Bar and Grill on deck 6 for 24 hour comfort food. Good choice, & the chicken wings I loved. Again, great views of the sea just above wave height.Taste Restaurant on deck 5, one of two main dining rooms. Never experienced any delay in getting a table, service was prompt, & the menu contained a daily and permanent selection of choices. Meals were served promptly with plates warmed, & was well presented & cooked.Room Service. Ordered a continental style breakfast twice. Delivered promptly, & made a nice change, especially on the port day and disembarkation. We love the concept of being able to dine at different restaurants, sampling a variety of cuisine, so we did use some of the Speciality Restaurants, for a small supplement.All part of a holiday experience.La Cucina Italian Restaurant. Located on deck 14. Ask for a window table, wow.Attentive service, lovely menu, & carafes of Chianti on the wine list at 18$.Moderno Churrascaria on deck 7 is an experience. Superb salad bar followed by a choice of beef, pork, chicken, & lamb cuts, plus various sausages, served at the table.One tip, get plenty of sea air before dining here to build up an appetite.Shanghai's Chinese Restaurant. Deck 6 Loved it ! Good menu selection, service, presentation & tasty food. Le Bistro French Restaurant. Deck 5 An NCL classic, & always make a beeline for it.Wonderful selection, the mushroom soup being a favourite, followed by tenderloin.Washed down with a good wine, and Tiramisu to end. Extensive choice of bars. Our favourites were Shakers & Maltings Beer & Whisky bar.Got to know the barman & serving staff. Always a cheerful welcome.Prices were not unreasonable. (Besides it's a holiday !) EntertainmentVast choice, & something really for everyone.Personally loved the Blue Man Group. Very talented actors & a rather wacky show, but great fun. Can understand some not liking it, as it's a love/hate thing.(But why display bad manners by walking out disturbing those that like it....sorry just a personal gripe) Fat Cats, with Slam Allen. Spent many an hour in here. Wonderful music & interaction with the audienceDueling Pianos in Headliners, again great fun, with some fantastic improvised music. Had the audience with them all the way.Hypnosis. Thought the daytime seminars on various subjects were very good.Personally wasn't so keen on the evening show, that obviously centred around entertainment.And of course music everywhere from classical to guitar.Retail therapy consisted of a good selection of shopping, & various sales during the cruise.Stand clear when they are about to start, total madness !!Sports up on deck 17Played some soccer, organised at various times & basketball.Good for meeting people, getting some much needed exercise & lots of sea air. Views & Fresh airDeck 18 Forward, accessed via a lift from the Great Outdoors, or via the forward starboard lift to deck 17 then stairs. Plenty of sunbeds, & underused.Deck 16 sundeck, above the pools. Great views & numerous sunbeds.Deck 17 Sports deck, again wonderful views.The weather was really good for the first few days out of Miami, but got cooler as we sailed east. A couple of days either side of the Azores saw a swell build up, which the ship handled well. We took a daily sea sickness tablet as a precaution & did not have a problem. With the strong winds there were days when you needed to hold on to your hat.!Unfortunately there is no wrap around Promenade deck, a fault in my opinion on Epic. (We were told there will be on the new ships)Nevertheless, on deck 7, you can walk & jog the length of the ship, both sides, although views are restricted by the lifeboats, & its two-way traffic..There is a small library on deck 7, next to Shakers bar, and paperbacks were being left here for exchange as well.The Internet Cafe was useful, although obviously connection times were slower.The Casino was a hive of activity, & we didn't notice a smell of smoke, or were not aware of it as we walked through. Not an issue really.Our one port of call was Porta Delgada on the Azores.A morning arrival with low cloud, & a first sight of land for nearly 7 days. Two other cruise ships were in port, so it led to a lively atmosphere.Many locals out to watch the ship arrive, & bands played later on the promenade.Viewing our arrival from deck 16, you felt so high up.Later I was able to photograph Epic from landside & it is pretty impressive.Took an NCL excursion, & visited the east of the island seeing volcanoes, hot water lakes, steam from fissures, magnificent coastal & mountain scenery.(my only gripe is that boring wait in the theatre before excursions are called, does it really need to be that tedious & slow)Disembarkation at Barcelona was simple & quick. Off the ship at 8.30, having had room service, plenty of taxis available, & arrival at the airport at 9.30 Overall, a fantastic cruise. Loved the Epic & NCL's freestyle concept.Sure there were small problems, but you cannot fault the vast choice of entertainment, food, drink, & staterooms, plus a friendly crew, & overall value for hard earned money.I work in the hospitality industry & have exacting standards, but am always impressed with the attitude of staff on these ships, with of course the odd exception. Its great to chat with them, to compliment or return a smile. Plus our attitude is we are on holiday, so chill out. We would cruise again on Epic, as we will the mid size ships.Also looking forward to the new vessels.Hope this is helpful Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Though we're 60+ and were taking no children with us, we chose this cruise because we thought we'd like having the days at sea to enjoy the Disney experience and we were not disappointed. We booked air through Disney and they ... Read More
Though we're 60+ and were taking no children with us, we chose this cruise because we thought we'd like having the days at sea to enjoy the Disney experience and we were not disappointed. We booked air through Disney and they make the process from the airport to the ship and ship to airport very easy. We especially liked not having to pick up our luggage at the airport...Disney handled it and our bags were in our room well before dinner. We had a verandah cabin and it's the first time I've had more storage space than I needed. We also liked the split bathroom concept. We were impressed with the cheerful attitude of every crew member we encountered. Didn't matter if they were officers or maintenance staff they all greeted you with a smile and a friendly word and they all seemed to genuinely enjoy their job. Our table hosts, Romain and Oscar, were outstanding and the dining room staff worked together and helped each other when needed even it it wasn't their table...great teamwork. The entertainment is probably the best at sea from the 3D movies to the stage shows which have extravagant costumes and sets. Also, encountering Disney characters as you travel about the ship is lots of fun. No matter what your age I'd definitely recommend a Disney cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
WE'RE GOING ACROSS THE OCEAN IN A BIG, BIG BOAT Dad once asked me why I loved to travel so much. My answer was "there is so much world to see and so little time to see it". If I could describe the adventure that ... Read More
WE'RE GOING ACROSS THE OCEAN IN A BIG, BIG BOAT Dad once asked me why I loved to travel so much. My answer was "there is so much world to see and so little time to see it". If I could describe the adventure that Dianne Fossen and I experienced the past 20 plus days in a few words - it would be TOTAL SENSORY OVERLOAD! MUSIC The music on the ship was live - not canned - and good, from acoustic guitar, to Latin, opera, broadway, etc. What a joy. We took a tango lesson - and danced the merenge almost every night at Boleros! Ole! PEOPLE We met people from all over the world - and they all loved to travel. Our dinner companions were a couple from Virginia (Bill and Lynne), a couple from Canada (David and Bonnie) and a lady our age traveling alone - who lived in Washington DC (Helen). The captain said ours was the liveliest table. Our waiter was wonderful as he talked of family and home. David told jokes and Dianne F even got him to tell some Ole and Lena jokes. Our days and nights were filled with warmth and laughter... There are others we met and saw on the ship that stand out in my mind - like the elderly couple I saw at dawn, holding hands and walking quietly together...or the young man traveling alone in a wheelchair who did not let his handicap stop him from living... I sat and talked with him many times - he full of warmth and smiles. Or the young girl traveling by herself who had pink hair, pink nails, pink purse and pink shoes and clothes - I nicknamed her Pinkie of course and we would meet and talk almost every day on deck. OUR HOME AWAY FROM HOME Our ship was the Navigator of the Seas and after talking with many people - it seemed to be a favorite - because of the overall warmth of the staff and travelers. This ship offered lectures every day on various subjects - we went to one on the Straits of Gibraltar - and it was wonderful. They had an ice skating rink as well - which I tried - for five minutes! Unfortunately the skates were hockey skates and my ankles started screaming! The crossing from Fort Lauderdale to Tenerife, just off the west coast of northern Africa - was good. We did have a little rain and wind (35 mph) with approximately 15-20 ft seas - but it wasn't anything the Navigator could not handle. She was a big, big ship! It took us nine days to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Dianne F thought she might get bored - NOT!!!! There was so much to do and see every day, we couldn't do/see it all. Most nights we went to the stateroom early, tired but happy, intending to go to bed - but inevitably, we would stay up talking until midnight! Dianne went dancing one night with friends she had met, at a club called "The Dungeon" - and didn't come "home" till 1:00 in the morning! You go girl! PORTS OF CALL In Tenerife, our first port of call - we went to the top of Mount Teide - which is volcanic. The view was breathtaking and humbling. What a magnificent place. In Majorca we noodled through cobblestoned alleyways, up and down ancient staircases, got prints from a local artist for 4 euros (cheap), talked to Milo and Mom in the quiet beauty of an old Majorcan church.... In Ajaccio - we jumped on a tram that took us all over this small French island, along the beautiful coast and back again. We walked the streets that Napoleon walked as a boy - and while looking for an open bathroom found three wise old French women who pointed and said "NO TOILETTE - LE BUSH"!!!! Viva le France! There was a farewell party on deck that last night before Rome... sadly we said goodbye to all of the friends we had made and the wonderful staff who took such good care of us. Most, like us, were staying in Rome for awhile - or traveling to other exotic places. We were ready for the next chapter!! ROME We landed in Civitavecchia - which is the port to which all cruise ships must come. From there you can get to Rome a few different ways. You can take the boat excursion which would cost $91.00 per person, rent a cab at equal cost or take the train or bus for approx. 4 euros. We took the train! Picture us trundling our large suitcases over cobblestone streets to the train station. Then picture us slowly banging these suitcases up and down stairs trying to get to the right train before it left! Thankfully, some locals realized that if they were going to make their train on time they would have to pick up the back of our suitcases and push us up and down the stairs - which they did! And voilla! We made it! We got off where we were supposed to - the San Pietro station near the Vatican and took a cab to our B & B - ROMA VATICANA. (the weather in Rome was supposed to be a cool 65 degrees. NOT!! It was in the mid-80's and hotter than heck)! Our B & B was spartan and cheap - but the location was great. We spent first afternoon at St. Peter's Basilica - with our mouths wide open, looking at all of the beautiful art. We got to see the Beatification of Pope John Paul Exhibit there, which was wonderful. It rained a little but we did not care. We were in Rome. What did we do in Rome?? Everything. We got a Metro card which let us use the trains, subways, busses and trams - the whole while we were there. We visited every Piazza, Da Vinci Museum, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum, we got lost in the Borghese Gardens and best of all - we got to hear the arias sung from some of the major operas - at the Anglican Church near the Opera House. Amazing! -2- Dianne had young friends there in Rome that Milo and her met and spent time with while having an adventure on the Transiberian Railroad - and we managed to meet them in Trestevere on two occasions. The first time the four of us had dinner together in a wonderful restaurant near the Ponte Sisto and the second time they brought their two children with. Francesco and Julia - tre' bella!!! We spent five days and four nights in Rome and once again, the people we met along the way will stick in our memories... the ones who helped us navigate the trains, busses, streets and sites of this glorious city. My heart was full - but sad at leaving this ancient city. As I packed the last few things in my suitcase I heard the soft, plaintive sounds of a violin being played and went from room to room trying to find where it was coming from. I opened the bathroom window and the music soared up from the old airshaft below - music that mirrored my feelings so totally. I imagined a violinist from Rome's orchestra living in one of the little pensiones there, practicing for the evening's performance. Ah - the beauty of it all.... GOING BACK HOME Each of us planned very well - and I can honestly say that we both really only had one brain fart apiece! Dianne F was so busy looking up at the beautiful buildings that she fell off a curb - but thankfully, only skinned her knee. I lost our return tickets but luckily found them tucked in my journal! The flight to Dusseldorf, Germany was fine - the good night sleep we had at our hotel was even better (some people had to sleep at the airport). Air Berlin was great with good food, good service. Miami was hot and sticky (almost 90 degrees) and it took awhile for Leon to find us - but we made it home. We had our last dinner on Fort Lauderdale beach at one of my favorite restaurants named H20 - where an aging male model regaled us with stories of a modeling shoot he was on in Russia where he endured the sounds of a cross-eyed soprano opera singer in Moscow!!! It seemed the perfect way to end this wonderful adventure. My thanks to Dianne for sharing this incredible adventure with me - ciao for now dear family and friends, Wildbird Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
First, let me explain that we are a retired couple living in south Florida and that this was our 71st cruise. Last year our first Transatlantic was the Celebrity Equinox eastbound to Rome in April 2010 and we loved it so much that we ... Read More
First, let me explain that we are a retired couple living in south Florida and that this was our 71st cruise. Last year our first Transatlantic was the Celebrity Equinox eastbound to Rome in April 2010 and we loved it so much that we decided to try in again, this time on the Celebrity Solstice to Barcelona. We couldn't have had a better time on each cruise! We found the service, food, entertainment, ports and Beyond the Podium speakers on the Sostice to be excellent. We have sailed on each of the 3 ships (Solstice, Equinox and Eclipse) in this class and find the ships to be elegant. The design is simple, the look is upscale and yet is extremely functional and well thought out. We particularly like that the casinos on this class are always smoke free. The entertainment was first rate each night with one exception...the magician, who really was not at the same skill level as each of the other acts. The last of the 3 production shows "Solstice" was especially wonderful with the acrobatics interplaying with the singing and dancing. We were really surprised and impressed to see the Captain singing and playing the guitar on 2 occasions. He also participated in a cooking competition with the Cruise Director and was often seen around with ship talking with the voyagers. All of this really added to the wonderful experience of this journey. We were also fascinated by the at-sea day talks given by Nigel West on syping and counterintelligence. His breadth of knowledge and skill in presenting each talk without notes or visuals and yet capturing the audience was truly impressive. We enjoyed this cruise so much and we're now booked on the Celebrity Ecplise westbound Transatlantic this October. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Star Princess is a lovely ship. Well maintained. Service was excellent. Food was a little disappointing at times in the dining room. We really enjoy anytime dining. Most of the time had the same table for 2 and waiters. The dance and ... Read More
Star Princess is a lovely ship. Well maintained. Service was excellent. Food was a little disappointing at times in the dining room. We really enjoy anytime dining. Most of the time had the same table for 2 and waiters. The dance and singing stage shows wee very good, but some of the other acts they had were not up to par. Sad to see some things slipping, but I know it is cost savings for Princess. Hope they don't go too far off from their usually great cruises. Ports were: Tenerife, Canary Islands surprised at how nice it was, very scenic, Gibraltar was fun, took the best tour going to the top, seeing the apes, caves, tram ride to the top. Alicante and Barcelona Spain, what a beautiful country. Warm welcoming people. Marseille France, was OK. Rome of course was to see Vatican City, Colosium, so much history, was amazing Very long lines and crowds, so didn't get inside of the Sistine chapel. But it was wonderful to see it. Went to Pisa and saw the leaning tower and the other buildings in the field of Miracles. Great visiting where everything was in the same place. Naples was shocking to us, very dirty, but was told this is the way it usually is. Greece, Athens and Island of Kios. Again the history and buildings arches, etc to think of how they all have stood for centuries. Awesome! Turkey, Istanbul went to the Grand Bazara, so many people, just too crowded to enjoy it, but Turkey is beautiful and clean. Also visited Kasadasi,Turkey, to see Esephus. Egypt was our Bucket List to do. Awe inspiring to see the pyramids and sphinx. I got to ride a camel, and sit on the lower step of the giza pyramid. But also was shocked at how dirty everything was. Even the Museum in Cairo, was great but everything was so dirty even in the glass cases. We only took ships tours, and was very pleased with how much we got to see and do even on the shorter tours. A/C buses and great tour guides who were very informative. Glad we got to see mostly everything, and can take it all off of our Buck list. I know how so many people want to go back to these countries, but my DH and I said once was enough. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Ever since my cousins embarked for a year in the Middle East (Iraq!) in the early '60's on a trans-Atlantic cruise, and I had to get off the Italian Line boat before it sailed (when you could still do that!), I have wanted to ... Read More
Ever since my cousins embarked for a year in the Middle East (Iraq!) in the early '60's on a trans-Atlantic cruise, and I had to get off the Italian Line boat before it sailed (when you could still do that!), I have wanted to sail across the Atlantic. Finally, a last minute "sale," and other factors, combined to make such a trip possible. It is great that my husband has ended up being a fan too! We researched lines for about 6 months; and instantly most were eliminated due to the allowing of smoking, or not enforcing limiting rules, as reported here on CC & elsewhere. Picking a cruise, is like buying a car, you are never going to have everything exactly the way you might like it. Celebrity was one of the few left and we were very happy with the experience. We were later than we would have liked boarding, as we were scheduled on a late van from an area motel. Upon boarding the Constellation, we were immediately accosted by crew trying to sell us a specialty dining package. Not a good start! We broke free and made our way to our cabin, where our wonderful attendant, Victor, was a lot calmer & helpful. (The cabin was cleaner than clean, I'm thoroughly spoiled.) Then we made our way to the top of the ship, for the sail away in beautiful weather. Somewhat disconcerting was the every other night loosing of an hour as we traveled East. Thus to pick up that hour of lost sleep, life on board settled into a pattern of a late b'fast, lunch & dinner. Most breakfasts & lunch were at the Seaside Cafe/Grill. Having chosen the Anytime Dining, because we didn't want to be tied down to a schedule, worked out most times. The Maitre'D there performed a nightly juggling act very well, we thought. The only problem there, was except for the brunches (YUM!) we didn't get to eat on the main floor. Noise level was a problem, which was why we sometimes preferred the Seaside. We did the Tuscan Grill one night - service was excellent, one of us was pleased with our meal, the other less so. Late in the cruise we went to the Bistro on Five, and wished we had visited more often. Since this was our first big ship cruise, we really enjoyed the behind the scenes tours - galley, bridge & engine control room. We also liked popping in on the lectures, & sometimes caught up with them via in house video. We never seemed to connect when the Strings were playing and that was a regret. Overall the atmosphere on board was cheerful and pleasant. Thanks to all the crew for their hard work. Husband had 3 acupuncture treatments with Dr Woo, on an unhappy thigh area, and he credits these for getting him up Mt St Michel on a port stop. Although this was the first big ship, we have been on other boats from rowboats, to multi-night whale watches for 35, to large Canadian & Danish ferries. We thought the ship was very smooth, and actually enjoy the roll of the ship, if it is not violent. Some Bonine took care of one of us one day between the Azores & Portugal. Alas the sky's were often cloudy, so we missed seeing the stars we had hoped to. As for excursions, part of the attraction of this trip were the northern ports in France. Seeing, climbing, being at Mt St Michel & Monet's Garden will cast a glow for the rest of our lives. Thanks to the wisdom & knowledge of Susie, Bonnie and Mike & Clare, all contacts brought together here on CC before sailing, these private, small group excursions were beyond satisfactory. Lisbon was probably the most interesting port to sail out of, with the ship just squeaking under a bridge with the low tide. As for the plumbing troubles experienced by others on higher decks, all of us in steerage on the lower decks, seemed to obey the flushing rules, and had no issues that I know of. :-) The cabin signage should be a little more explicit & visible with instructions in this dept. Many people do not think of the disinfectant wipes so popular today as a problem for a ship's sewage system - they are. The crew should put the disposal baggies out in a more prominent location. At one point we had to ask our cabin steward for more bags, they were hidden in an under-sink cabinet. This is where experience with smaller boats & living on off-shore islands, had us well trained. Celebrity & other lines have got to get their act together with Internet access, if they wish to attract younger cruisers. At present, it's overly expensive, slow, poor service, etc. They need to install more 'lines' to the satellites for passengers. We liked the daily NYTimes news sheet. Found the daily reporting of the winnings in the casino amusing - with no info on the amounts bet! HAHA Our group experience with others at the beginning of the cruise, didn't encourage us to try again. Mistake on the part of the casino people. On the positive side, they shouldn't change their chocolate supplier or the onion ring recipe! We didn't want the cruise to end. We are looking forward to another cruise with Celebrity in the future - maybe on the Solstice, with the hot glass show, where you will find me fused to a chair to watch the magic! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
The Constellation is a first class ship and I have been on many. It is not too big and is still part of the elegance of cruising. No bowling allies, rock walls, or tractor pulls. Great shows, beautiful decor. I usually avoid the Buffet ... Read More
The Constellation is a first class ship and I have been on many. It is not too big and is still part of the elegance of cruising. No bowling allies, rock walls, or tractor pulls. Great shows, beautiful decor. I usually avoid the Buffet on all ships except for a breakfast or a snack but actually found it to be fabulous with an amazing selection and style of foods. Just look the the Yellow Pages under restaurants and they have covered all the types in the Buffet. For a quiet evening wait till every-one's in the dining rooms and then go to the back of the buffet at the grill where the grilled salmon is No.One with mixed grilled peppers and a carafe of wine for $10.00 and you not only have the best meal you have peace and quiet because nobody is there and you hear soft music you normally wouldn't notice, the lights are low and its wonderful. Going against the flow is always a good way to enjoy a cruise. I most split my dining between the two specialty restaurants...The Ocean Liner and the Tuscan Grill. $30. a pop but a discount if you buy in 3's. The fillet steak is like a tender soft ball ripped out of a cow...crab cakes amazing...flambe lobster, fabulous cheese selection and flambe strawberries. Too wonderful and please dress....its classy...no farm cloths. The main dinning room was very elegant but I found it so rushed...like a cafeteria...I only tried it twice and was too wound up when I left. I like to relax over my food then go to the theatre. The wine package was a pain in the butt...won't do that again. I kept ending up with wine that wasn't on my package and having to pay huge amounts...I prepaid 5 bottles and think I only used 4 so there goes any tiny saving. The $10. carafe was a better deal. The various stops were wonderful but be very careful in Lisbon as many of us were openly attacked and robbed by pick-pockets...I literally had to fight with three aggressive young woman to hang onto my money. Lisbon should put a stop to them or the ships to by-pass Lisbon. This ship is a bit smaller but so much better and as it was a repositioning cruise I had an outside cabin with a patio, flat screen TV with actual TV programing which I've never had before. I wish there was a list you could be on for last minute single offerings for seniors who could go in a few days notice. Thank you constellation. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Our objective in booking this cruise was to relax and visit ports that were new to us. This crossing took the southern route through the Caribbean, over to the Canary Islands and then north along the African coast. We found this route to ... Read More
Our objective in booking this cruise was to relax and visit ports that were new to us. This crossing took the southern route through the Caribbean, over to the Canary Islands and then north along the African coast. We found this route to be warmer and more conducive to enjoying outdoor activities such as the pools. It's wonderful that RCL celebrates days that are special to their clientele. This cruise had a large % of Hispanics probably in part because it departed from San Juan. RCL included a Cinco de Mayo pool party that we enjoyed even though we are not Hispanic. We highly recommend joining the Crown & Anchor Club. On this voyage, we were Emerald members which entitled us to an excellent reception. We also attended the Meet & Mingle reception where we were able to meet in person fellow travelers that had been corresponding with us on line. The hors d'oeuvres and raffle prizes were excellent. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
My wife and I ( both over 65) took our second transatlantic cruise on the Voyager of the Seas in May 2011. We had previously taken the Navigator on the TA in 2011 and will be taking the Liberty of the Seas in April 2012. That cruise will ... Read More
My wife and I ( both over 65) took our second transatlantic cruise on the Voyager of the Seas in May 2011. We had previously taken the Navigator on the TA in 2011 and will be taking the Liberty of the Seas in April 2012. That cruise will be our 29th. We now live in Phoenix and flew the night before to Houston. We met up with 3 other Voyager couples and took a limo to the Galveston Port. The cruise was excellent. We had My Time Dining and love it. We enjoy all the sea days by relaxing, reading, taking part in some of the activites and using the Fitness Center. The Solarium is our favorite place to relax during the day. The food was excellent, the show good - the entertainers were somewhat old, but varied and many were very good. The ice show was excellent. We are Diamond Members and the nightly wine reception prior to dinner was excellent. We toured on our own in the Azores, used the ship for tours in Cartegena and Barcelona and used Spanish Day Tours for a trip to the Alhambra from Malaga. Embarkation and Disembarkation was swift and easy. Travel to the airport at the end of the cruise was very easy. We shared a ride with other Cruise Critic passengers. We love RCL, have taken our last 10 cruises with them and are very loyal to them. Walt and Beth - Phoenix, Arizona Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
The Muster Drill Given the Costa Concordia tragedy, I will open with a few comments on the importance of the muster drill. As a former holder of a US Coast Guard Masters License I have observed these drills with a critical eye. In ... Read More
The Muster Drill Given the Costa Concordia tragedy, I will open with a few comments on the importance of the muster drill. As a former holder of a US Coast Guard Masters License I have observed these drills with a critical eye. In recent years I have cruised on Crystal, Oceania and Silversea and all ships had full muster drills prior to departure. Having only been aboard only a few hours, the muster drill gives the passenger the opportunity to locate their life jackets, get familiar with them and become knowledgeable with the location and procedures of the life-boat stations. A critical aspect of the drill is that the crew station themselves on the stairways and hallways to give directions to the passengers. Since everyone is wearing a life jacket, the crew ware brightly colored hats which distinguish them from the passengers. The crew on Crystal and Silversea took their duties seriously and were easily identifiable by their hats. On Oceania the crew were more casual about wearing their caps and often grouped together chatting. On our trans-Atlantic on the Whisper last spring the crew was superb in performing their responsibilities, but once on deck the muster officer in charge did not wear easily identifiable clothing or headgear. With his uniform covered by his life jacket he looked like any other passenger. I spoke with him latter and he felt that his hand-held radio on his belt ( where I have my cell phone ) distinguished him from the passengers. In a crisis environment the passengers would not have known which individual was in command. The ships officers need to be required to be easily identifiable, and if they object, the cruise lines should have them replaced. How to accommodate a passenger One of the guests on our passage was a delightful gentleman in the 80's who was confined to a wheel chair -- he need water/aerobic therapy and apparently had pre-determined that the depth of the pool would accommodate his requirements. Alas the pool was about 6" too deep -- but the ship engineers would lower it daily for his swim. Now that's taking care of a passenger! Bravo !! In contrast was the pool of the Shadow during our Alaska cruises in the Spring of 2010. The pool was seldom heated and was treated with chemicals which would quickly cause a skin rash. After complaints -- the Shadow's engineers found the answer to its passengers concerns -- they closed the pool. Dining on the Whisper We had a most enjoyable food experience with the exception the Le Champagne. The food and service in the Main Dining room was superb. The wait staff quick learned our names and special requests. The house wines were mostly adequate and the wine servers would offer alternatives if requested. There seemed to be an emphasis on South American wineries ( perhaps because of their price value ). With the exception of the breakfast fruit bowl ( mostly water melon with few berries) the La Terrassa was most enjoyable. They feature Italian cuisine and it never disappointed. The Hot Rocks was better than we anticipated and would repeat. Le Champagne To be disappointed one had to dine at the Le Champagne. The room has the charm of a morgue -- no carpet, white table coverings and the room is surrounded by glass doors of the wine coolers. We did a better job with the decoration of our high school gym for the senior prom. The restaurant features rotating menu each day and being aficionados of classical French cuisine, we choose the French experience "The Best of Burgundy" featuring escargot and Chateaubriand. Oh my! The escargots were not the classical bourguignon but instead were in a crusted pastry much like a chicken Kiev. Uggh. Chateaubriand was again not the classical French receipt which was originally created for Rene de Chateaubriand the French ambassador for Louis XVIII. Instead of being sliced was served Texas style -- a single chunk roasted meat on the dinner plate. The staff also missed an opportunity for a dining presentation where French table side service would be a special treat. The food was a disappointment and not worth the premium. The word spread quickly on the quality and lack of value of Le Champagne and on a typical night they had 8 or less diners. If the cruise had offered "ships credits" they probably could have filled the restaurant as they could actually being paying the guest to dine! Public Spaces The typical cruise ship is designed for dining/entertaining, sleeping and typically in port during the day. Only when one takes a multi-day passage ( trans Atlantic) to discover the inadequacy of the public seating areas. The library had only two chairs which were suitable for reading. The best chairs (largest and most comfortable) were in the smoker's lounge! Otherwise the only other comfortable seating was in the observation lounge next to the spa. The bar lounges and entertainment venues featured low back club style seating which was not where one would want to spend a day reading at sea. Perhaps the Whisper is better ship for port to port cruising than ocean passages. Bottom Line: With the short comings mentioned, the Whisper and its staff provided the ambiance and superior service for a most enjoyable cruise. We will return. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Flying from the UK to Florida and staying in the airport hotel meant we were off to a relaxing start. The Disney Cruise Line Shuttle was a great way to transfer from airport to port. We checked in by 12, had a low number (2) to board and ... Read More
Flying from the UK to Florida and staying in the airport hotel meant we were off to a relaxing start. The Disney Cruise Line Shuttle was a great way to transfer from airport to port. We checked in by 12, had a low number (2) to board and were soon announced on the ship. The preliminary look around included scoping the areas we have previously visited on our Baltic cruise. Not only did the children remember the counselors, the counselors remembered the children from 11 months previously. This was a great start and made the children feel wanted and welcome. Lunch, the buffet was delicious, eaten inside due to the swarm of 'love bugs' but this was fine. Before we knew it, after the lifeboat drill, we were sailing away. The 9 year old boy thought the Lab was the best part of the ship, the games were good and there were computers. Playing dodge ball and making chocolate chip cookies were highlights for him. Our 14 year old loved Vibe because right from the start, there was a cast member who lived three hours away from us, which was good. The intmacy felt between the young adults and counselors was evident from the word go. Not only were there English counselors who knew their home towns, there were American ones who broadened their minds. Not once did these relationships step over the mark. As for the adults, the time spent on deck 4 watching the sea, the birds and wildlife was fabulous. The calmness of the sea was spooky. The food was delicious and there were more than enough activities to entertain everyone for 2 weeks, without getting off in the ports. Castaway Cay was a highlight. Our 14 year old did the 'wild side' excursion. A teen experience comprising of snorkeling, cycling and kayaking, with lunch together enhanced the bonding of the group. Our 9 year old did the dig in the children's area facilitated by counselors wearing safari outfits. The meal at Cookies, a bbq self service restaurant was great. That evening, we had the proper sail away party outside to compensate for the indoor one the afternoon before. it was fun and full of energy. Dinner was in one of the rotation menus and as before all food was great. The next 5 days crossing the Atlantic was smooth and calm, a real chance to unwind and relax. By the time we reached Madeira, we were happy but not desperate to see land. In each port we repeated our ritual from the Baltic cruise; find an expensive place for coffee or beer and walk around to feel the ambiance. After Madeira it was Gibraltar, then Cadiz followed by Barcelona over night. in each port we felt the spirit of the place and made a few memories, not least was the port adventure in Cadiz, a trip to Jerez to Gonzales byez to see Sherry being made. After a fortnight we were still sad to leave and glad we have booked again. The Disney Cruise Line suits our family needs and as a family we have enjoyed all 26 nights onboard. We hope to have another 26 nights in the next couple of years................... Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
The Nieuw Amsterdam is brand new and classy. The Lido restaurant sets itself apart from the buffet restaurant of other lines - orchids on the table and table cloths at night. The Personal Computer classes and the culinary center were ... Read More
The Nieuw Amsterdam is brand new and classy. The Lido restaurant sets itself apart from the buffet restaurant of other lines - orchids on the table and table cloths at night. The Personal Computer classes and the culinary center were great, conducted by two competent and friendly individuals Ryan and Ashley. The cruise director Gene Young and the HAL performers were wonderful These instructors and the entertainment staff impressed upon the passengers that they genuinely love their jobs. Their enthusiasm enhanced a warm friendly atmosphere for the sailing - especially with a long stretch of 7 days. Salute to HAL for a great crew.       The food was good with great presentation. The soup is on the "salty side" to me, may not be for others. For a few nights, the fish was not at its best. Otherwise, there is a lot of variety and HAL lives up to its reputation.       HAL provided a travel expert with specific hours to answer questions. He was also available at shore sides too. Check the daily newsletter for specific times. This arrangement was in addition to scheduled port talk or presentations in the theatre. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We departed Miami on 16 April. Weather was nice, embarkation very organized and easy. Cabin and room steward were excellent. The ship is beautiful. Dining room service was excellent. Food ranged from above average to very ... Read More
We departed Miami on 16 April. Weather was nice, embarkation very organized and easy. Cabin and room steward were excellent. The ship is beautiful. Dining room service was excellent. Food ranged from above average to very good. Speciality restaurants. The Murano was excellent and the Tuscan Grill was outstanding. Sea days were very enjoyable and relaxing. The cruise service was among the best we had ever received. We booked two ship tours: (1) skegway tour in Lisbon was two hours of fun (we are in our 70s) and very enjoyable. (2) winery tour in Vigo was above average. In Cherbourg we booked a full day private tour of Normandy battlefields which was the highlight of the cruise. The tour was conducted by a retired Royal Marine LtCol who was very knowledgeable on the D-Day operations and his wife who was a Renaissance scholar and who provided historical background on the area. Their tour web site is www.normandy-battlefields.org I highly recommend them. The disembarkation at Southampton was well organized and went swiftly. This was our seventh transatlantic and one of the best. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
This was the first trans-Atlantic cruise for my wife and me after 30 years of cruising. We chose the Holland America Eurodam (also first cruise with Holland America) departing from Fort Lauderdale, FL primarily due to its itinerary and ... Read More
This was the first trans-Atlantic cruise for my wife and me after 30 years of cruising. We chose the Holland America Eurodam (also first cruise with Holland America) departing from Fort Lauderdale, FL primarily due to its itinerary and value. After leaving Fort Lauderdale we had two sea days prior to arriving in Kings Warf, Bermuda for a day followed by four sea days to Ponta Delgado, Portugal in the Azores for a day. After Ponta Delgado we enjoyed another sea day and arrived in Lisbon for two days followed by the ports of Portimao, Cadiz, and Malaga. After a final sea day we arrived at our final destination Barcelona Spain. We live in Orlando, Florida and rented a car to drive to Fort Lauderdale with our cruise companions in a vehicle rented from Avis. This worked out great since the car return was within a mile of the port and Avis simply jumped in our rental car and delivered us to the port. At the port we were greeted by baggage handlers who quickly took our checked bags to be delivered to our state rooms. Arriving around 12:30 we simply walked into the greeting area, filled out the required medical form and proceeded to the embarkation area. Again no line and within minutes we had our boarding cards and were on our way up the gang plank to our state rooms. As this was the first cruise out of dry dock our rooms were ready for us when we boarded. After dropping our carry-on bags off in our stateroom we proceeded up to the Lido deck for a lunch buffet which was the first of many fine meals (more to come on this). After our lunch we took a quick tour of the ship to get oriented and then back to our stateroom (5072) on deck 5, midship, to unpack. We did not find our baggage waiting outside our hatch as expected; instead both bags were on our bed on a leather mat which was unexpected. As always the state room seemed a little small but we quickly got accustomed to it. We found the head (bathroom) more spacious that on previous cruises and it also had a tub instead of a small shower. There were plenty of hangers to hang our cloths on and you could lower a shelf if you wanted room for full length hanging. My wife lowered the shelf in her closet while I kept mine in place. While there was plenty of room to place your garments there were no dresser drawers so you had to use the open shelves. We brought wine onboard and found that the desk bench opened and provided a perfect storage spot for it. The bed itself was king size with a very comfortable mattress. The TV was a small (approx. 20 inch) flat screen which was fine. We found the veranda to be smaller than expected but it met our needs. We had an adjoining room with our traveling companions and had the veranda separating door opened allowing us to socialize, drink wine and enjoy the views together. During the first day at sea Holland America hosted a Cruise Critic meet and greet that was well attended by ships staff. It provided a good opportunity for the many individuals from the forum for this cruise to meet prior to our independent shore excursions. Our cruise highlights include the food, ports of call and activities. We chose the open seating option for flexibility but ended up with a reservation for the same time each evening. We were hoping to get a 7:00 PM reservation in order to attend the 10:00 PM evening show. Although attempting to get our reservation immediately after boarding the best we could get was at 7:45 which proved to be problematic. To accommodate the older (more on this later) clientele on this cruise the show times were set for 7:00 and 9:30 which did not align with our dinner time. To our rescue the chief dining room steward. Not only did he hold our reservation for us until we got out of the 7:00 show (around 8:00) he reserved a window table on the fantail for us each night. The food itself each evening was nothing short of splendid. Each menu provided a good variety to choose from across all courses. I particularly enjoyed the cold soup offerings and desserts. All the food was served hot and as far as I could tell freshly prepared. I did not have one meal that I did not enjoy immensely. One night steak filet and lobster were offered as separate entrees, my stewart readily accommodated my request for surf and turf by adding a lobster to my filet entree. A second night to my pleasure steak and lobster was again offered. Our travel agent, AAA, gave us complimentary Pinnacle Grill reservations (along with $25.00 pp. drink cards and $50.00 onboard credit) to our delight. The Pinnacle is a superb specialty dining experience. Following a shrimp cocktail (4 large prawns) and an outstanding onion soup, I had a 22 oz. prime Porterhouse which was cooked medium rare to perfection. All of which was accompanied by a fine French Wine (extra). I do not even recall the two desserts I enjoyed that night. We also dined at the Tamarind Asian restaurant twice for lunch (free) and once for dinner ($15.00 pp. surcharge). The lunch was a multi course meal consisting of an oriental salad, followed by a superb hot and sour soup then an entrEe consisting of a variety of steam and fried dumplings. Outstanding condiments ranging from mild to sizzling were provided for the dumplings. For dessert a coconut cream ice cream. I added cold raspberry sake to accompany the meal. For the dinner menu you had a good selection to choose from for each course including sushi. My wife and I enjoyed all these meals greatly however our traveling partners were less impressed. Finally we tried the Canaletto Italian specialty restaurant (free) and found it to be very average Americanized Italian food. Although we enjoyed it there is a lot of improvement needed to turn this venue into a fine Italian dining experience. We found the dining for breakfast and lunch equally enjoyable. Our personal preference was to dine in the Rembrandt dining room as it was not crowded and our dining was more leisurely. The few times we ate in the Lido the food selection was good and well prepared. Holland America put together a fine itinerary of Ports of Call and we enjoyed each. Along with our traveling companions we chose to do independent tours at each port with the exception of Portimao. In Bermuda we hired a taxi driver guide (reserved ahead of time on the Web through Co-op Taxi Service). They provided us with an older gentleman by the name of Cubitt (pronounced Cupid) who was waiting for us on the pier. He provided us with a lively 6 hour tour of the Island. By his own admission he was the best guide on the Island and was certainly an icon as at every turn resident locals were calling him out by name or honking at us as we drove by. We drove through Hamilton, which we chose not to stop in as it looked like any other city, and experienced the western shore. In St. George we got out and took a short walk around the city. We stopped at the Crystal Caves which were ok but not great. We then drove the eastern shore and stopped at one of the pink sand beaches. We got a real taste for the Island and went away feeling the tour was well worth the money at $40.00 per hour for the cab (equivalent to a $60 pp. ship shore excursion). Following four interesting days at sea we found ourselves in Ponta Delgada. Again we chose a private tour this time from Ricardo Amorim found at www.amazingtours.se. Our guide was waiting for us on the pier as we departed the ship to begin a wonderful tour of the Island. The views of both the South and North shores were stunning. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable of the Island, its history and plant life (he reminded us many times you can grow anything on São Miguel). He made numerous stops allowing us to capture the many views of the Island. The highlight of this tour was viewing the multiple sites in the Furnas Lakes region. After another day at sea we arrived in Lisbon. The ship arrived at 2:00 PM and we were quickly off by 2:05. We had arranged to be met at 2:20 by a guide provided by Spain Day tours but did not find anyone waiting for us. Becoming impatient around 2:20 I called Spain Day Tours and simultaneously saw a gentlemen dressed in a suit and tie walk up with a sign with my name on it. He quickly noticed we were anxious and pointed out that it was 2:20 our agreed to meeting time and proceeded to escort us to our waiting Mercedes minivan. As it turns out Victor was extremely professional and provided us two tours second to none. His resume included driving and being a tour guide for numerous dignitaries and VIPs and we were very fortunate to have him. On day one he provided us with a 4 hour comprehensive tour of Lisbon and the surrounding areas. It was the exact overview of Lisbon we were looking for. On day two he again arrived at the exact meeting time for a tour of Sintra and coastal tour back to Lisbon. He was a driving encyclopedia of Lisbon and Portugal history and provided us all the information one can absorb. He was also very personable sharing many personal experiences and anecdotes. In short he provided us the insight and world view of life in Portugal we were hoping for. Our next port was Portimao, Portgugal advertised by Holland America as a small fishing village. I could not find a private tour so we chose the Holland America shore excursion Alluring Algarve. It was a good choice and we enjoyed the tour. We had considered staying in Portimao to walk this small fishing village on our own, turns out it was a rather large city and appeared to be a mini Miami with condos stretching far along the coast. We were glad we took the tour. The next day we arrived in Cadiz, Spain. Here we arranged a small group tour (16 individuals) to Seville again provided by Spain Day Tours. After exiting the ship we were met by our escort to Seville, boarded our mini coach and were on our way to Seville. Our escort was a young American on his first day on the job and did not provide much information along the way. However once in Seville we were greeted by a certified English speaking guide who provided a magnificent walking tour of Seville. The tour was exactly as advertised and all left the tour feeling the trip to Seville was well worth the time. Our next port Malaga turned out to be one of the major highlights of the trip. We had arranged another independent small group tour thru Spain Day Tours to Granada and the Alhambra. This tour exceeded all my expectations. Again we were met on the pier by Spain Day tours and escorted to our mini coach. This time we had an exceptional escort by the name of Debbie from the UK who was a long time resident of Malaga. On the two hour drive to Granada she provided a wonderful dialog of the local history and life around Malaga. Once in Granada we were again greeted by an exceptional certified guide who personally guided us through the Alhambra. She was very knowledgeable of the Alhambra and provided all the information one could ask for. Towards the end of our tour of the Alhambra our group became briefly separated and she was a real mother hen rounding us up and getting us together again. She wasn't about to lose any tourists on her watch. I cannot over emphasize to future cruisers to visit the Alhambra either on a ship tour or independent tour, it was simply magnificent. Finally after a final day at sea we arrived at our destination Barcelona. We had arranged a private full day tour by Spain Day tours and again were more than satisfied. We were provided a comprehensive tour by our guide Armando who was very knowledgeable of Barcelona architecture particularly Gaudi. On day two Armando drove us to Montserrat stopping to provide us with the most spectacular views of the mountain. At the end of our tour on day two Armando spent the time to help us plan the remainder of the day and our next independent day. On day three we spent the whole morning at the Sagrada Família, we got there early and had a little wait prior to getting inside. Do not leave Barcelona without spending a significant amount of time in this magnificent structure. I cannot over emphasize my satisfaction with Spain Day Tours, they delivered on all promises. All guides (private and group) were professional and knowledgeable. I would use them again without any reservation. Most important their tours are comprehensive, personable and fraction of the cost of the ship tours. Given the length of the cruise a little more information on our experiences aboard the Eurodam is warranted. All services were provided professionally and courteously. Our room steward kept our stateroom immaculate. Our dining room steward was a joy and quickly learned our likes and dislikes. In the Explorers Lounge the individual in charge of internet services was most helpful. While the internet service itself was slow he readily replaced minutes that I felt were wasted on numerous occasions. He never once questioned my request to add minutes back to my account, a big A+ to Holland America for this. The Captains announcements each day provided the necessary information but also included trivia that I began to look forward to. We took advantage of other activities such as Bingo, lectures, and cooking demonstrations. We learned that the ship made no money from the Bingo games (all fees went back as winnings) and if someone had won the daily jackpot it was 100% funded by Holland America. Shore excursion lectures kept to what you needed to know and did not try to sell the ships excursions. A point to note is that very little selling was done on this ship which I appreciated. Everything you come to expect on a cruise was offered but no pressure was applied to buy anything. Now for my only negative of the cruise, I was deeply disappointed with the entertainment. I was looking forward to the transatlantic crossing expecting good (not outstanding) entertainment and my expectations were not met. There was some good entertainment in two of the smaller venues (Adagio Strings & and a small jazz quartet) however the ship was essentially dead after 11:30. My traveling companions and I think it may be due to the age demographic that Holland America caters too. On our ship we estimated both the average and median age to be greater than 70, thus the limited late night entertainment. The last main stage show featuring the ships singers and dancers entitled Avalon was their only good production show (though we lost one show due to rough seas). From the main shows, the main singers and dancers, to the smaller venue offerings, all were less than I have come to expect on a cruise. Specifically Celebrity, Princess and Royal Caribbean all provide superior entertainment. I do not know if it was just the Eurodam or if it is Holland America fleet wide. In any event the entertainment has much to be improved. I was so disappointed I almost stated on my onboard comment card that the lead female singer should be replaced. You see better singers on American Idol and better dancers on Dancing with the Stars. One comedian Julie Barr bombed on the main stage but put on an acceptable adult show in a smaller venue. A magician was featured on the main stage that performed three tricks in 45 minutes, the cutting rope trick, a card trick and the bottles in the tube trick while wasting a lot of time trying to be funny. The exception was a ventriloquist who was exceptional, he did many things I had not seen before and related to the audience well. The problem here was they featured him once on the main stage during the entire 10 night Atlantic crossing. He could have been used in the small venues as entertainment was sorely lacking there. The ships band called the HALCats incorporated the Adagio Strings for the show called Avalon, renamed themselves the Avalon Orchestra, and brought the house down. Why they were not featured in this format earlier eludes me as they were really good. I could have listened to them late into the night in a smaller venue in this format every night. As the HALCats they were simply mediocre. Needless to say I was disappointed in the ships variety, quantity and quality of entertainment, they can do better. Also note that the ship is not smoke free. Smoking was allowed in the Casino which prevented me the pleasure of enjoying this venue, particularly on a 16 night cruise. Disembarkation was uneventful, very well organized with no crowds. We were able to disembark at the time requested and luggage was quickly found. So would I cruise with Holland America again? In short yes if the itinerary was as good as this one and I felt it was as good a value. The entertainment not withstanding I was very pleased with this cruise. The ship's crew from the Captain, primary staff, various stewards, and chefs all need to be commended for providing a memorable cruising experience. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Check in was efficient and fast by eleven o'clock I was in the stateroom. I found the room to been clean and all the necessary info was laid out on the coffee table except for dinner table assignment. On the main deck, I purchased a ... Read More
Check in was efficient and fast by eleven o'clock I was in the stateroom. I found the room to been clean and all the necessary info was laid out on the coffee table except for dinner table assignment. On the main deck, I purchased a drink package (in my opinion one of the best deals on board). The Captain's Club hostess was able to get me a dinner table assignment. So by noon I was settled on the pool deck with an adult beverage.As usual with Celebrity the baggage arrived about three o'clock and unpacking was very easy. There was plenty of storage space and an abundance of hangers. But unlike Aqua Class, A2 does not have the same high tech shower.Dinner in the main dining room was better than I had experienced with Celebrity before and continued throughout the cruise.I only have two minor criticism. The bar staffs were somewhat impersonal and the furniture in the Spa (adult pool)area was beautiful but uncomfortable. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
For years my husband and I have listened to our friends rave about cruises, particularly the transatlantic cruises, so finally we decided the time had come to see for ourselves what this was all about. If nothing else, we figured it would ... Read More
For years my husband and I have listened to our friends rave about cruises, particularly the transatlantic cruises, so finally we decided the time had come to see for ourselves what this was all about. If nothing else, we figured it would be a relaxing, comfortable way to get to Europe (we are Americans living in Brazil). And then again, we might just enjoy it!I won't beat around the bush, after just a few days on the cruise we decided to repeat the cruise, or take a similar one, next year. We had a wonderful experience, so far beyond what we had imagined (even feared!). My husband and I are both in our 60s, we don't need or like to be told what to do, where to go, we don't like the infantilization, but Royal Caribbean pretty much left us alone. We saw that if you don't want to participate, you don't have to. You can carve out your own cruise within the cruise.What impressed us most: Royal Caribbean's efficiency — everything went smoothly, from embarking at Rio onward; the efficiency and constant good humor of the staff, at all levels; the cabin, both in its cleanliness and its design (we had an oceanview stateroom); the food (in the Aquarius dining room) which was consistently excellent; the "something-for-everyone" approach to daily activities, allowing passengers to opt in or out, as they wished; and the medical facility, which we unfortunately had to visit, but they were so good we even enjoyed our short time there!My husband and I did not join any of the organized port excursions, so we cannot speak to them. We did not use the pools, the spa, the salon or the fitness room — and certainly not the Wall — so nothing to say there, either. We did walk around and visit these facilities, and the people all looked happy!There was only one big down side: our cabin was beneath the kitchen, and particularly a part of the kitchen where large metal objects were dragged, or rolled, or otherwise gotten from one place to another over the metal floor. This would occur sometimes at 2:00 in the morning, sometimes at 4:00 in the morning, sometimes as late as 7:00 in the morning. In other words, while we were trying to sleep. We were awakened from deep sleep over and over, every single day, by unbelievably loud, crashing, banging noises. We'll never again book a cabin under the kitchen, but Royal Caribbean ought to try and figure out a way to fix this problem. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We began this trip with 4 days in the Bellagio Las Vegas. Which is as stunning on the inside as it is out.My only complaint is that I'm sure that all of the hotels have been moved at least half a mile since our last visit (or my legs ... Read More
We began this trip with 4 days in the Bellagio Las Vegas. Which is as stunning on the inside as it is out.My only complaint is that I'm sure that all of the hotels have been moved at least half a mile since our last visit (or my legs have got shorter!)Our highlight in Vegas was the Elvis show in the Aria Hotel, this was arranged as an anniversary present by my daughter. Absolutely stunning I would gladly have stayed for the second show and paid full price. Any Elvis fan couldn't fail to marvel at the presentation I'm sure the King would have loved it.We had an early start (3am) for our flight to Miami (American Airlines)with overweight bags we had to perform a quick re distribution of contents around anything we could carry, thus avoiding any other charges.We were booked in a Celebrity Hotel in Miami for the 1 night.The Courtyard Marriott Collins Ave South Beach - wonderful location right on the beach.Clean bright room, which looked as if it had just been renovated.We had a meal in the attached Italian Restaurant, first class service and food, I would highly recommend both for travellers.We elected to take a taxi rather than use the bus transfer.The boarding process was straight forward and although they were trying to board visiting travel agents took about 20 mins from beginning to end.We knew what to expect, having sailed with Eclipse out of Southampton in August 2010. We are also firm Aqua class fans enjoying the intimate dining and very friendly and professional staff. Our sailing was delayed a while, when 5 police cars an ambulance and fire engine turned up. (appears a lady fell and I believe had to be taken to hospital) Then off into the Atlantic.We had a lovely welcome back to Blu from Akar and our favourite waiter Danni (his assistant Louala had been promoted to waiter status in Tuscan Grill - well deserved) there were a large number of the staff from August and we were very surprised by the recognition and welcome we received. Needless to say the service and food in this venue is first class.We have never spent a long time cruising before and had concerns that we would be bored after a day or two.This never happened there were so many places to sit and read, onboard activities, and wildlife to watch. (we saw flying fish, whales and dolphins)I have seen previous comments regarding lack of sun beds - this was never a problem, there were plenty in all areas, I suppose this problem will arise when you have a large number of sun lovers.We had a visit to the bridge, Captain Club receptions, and to be honest after Las Vegas we were happy to relax and read. The weather helped and I understand this is one of the best transatlantic crossings.The onboard music was as good as ever and we really enjoyed getting a seat in the atrium after dinner to see the band and dancing. I know its small but the atmosphere every night was brilliant. I was surprised that the ship was full and the mix of passengers didn't seem to favour any particular nationality. We met many interesting people, one poor lady from Texas who's luggage had not got to Miami. It eventually caught up with her in Lisbon.A lot of the passengers had arranged to stay a few days in London after the cruise. However this was the day of THE wedding and I still wonder how they all got on.One young Australian couple we talked to have sinced e mailed me to let me know that the got to London by 9am booked into the hotel then got a great position to see the happy couple.Sorry I have gone on long enough - suffice it to say Eclipse and the crew are a great team and I highly recommend Aqua class.I'm really glad we did the Vegas visit first (there are a number of trips where the vegas visit is after a cruise) will really find it difficult to fly back from the states after this experience Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We had quite a few worries before we arrived on board. I have to say that none of them were borne out. We enjoyed the trip immensely.We were a party of four: two elderly parents with two thirty-something offspring. Would there be enough ... Read More
We had quite a few worries before we arrived on board. I have to say that none of them were borne out. We enjoyed the trip immensely.We were a party of four: two elderly parents with two thirty-something offspring. Would there be enough to keep everyone interested? We took plenty of reading just in case. Very little reading was done; the on-board activities were many and varied. There was a show in the Royal Court Theatre every night - twice, actually: one for each dinner Sitting - and the standard of entertainment was high indeed. The Royal Cunard Singers, a close harmony group, were as good as you would find anywhere. We were really impressed. The dancers, too were excellent. Other acts, whilst making rather less of an impact on us, were also of high standard. The theatre itself is surprisingly large with none of the usual obstructions (pillars etc) we have seen on other vessels. Were it not for the gentle swaying of the ship you could imagine yourself in a medium-sized venue ashore. The ceiling is high and there are upstairs and downstairs seats.The ballroom is advertised as the largest afloat and I am prepared to believe it. Once again no compromise seems to have been made just because it is on a ship. It is a full-sized affair that would not disgrace your local venue. Here, in addition to the obvious balls, dancing lessons were given and the daily afternoon tea sessions took place: tea, sandwiches, and cakes served at table in typically English fashion. The third major venue is called "Illuminations." This is the world's only sea-going planetarium which doubles as a perfectly adequate cinema and theatre. Here it was we enjoyed "The King's Speech" - there was a different film every night: all up-to-date. Although there were some technical problems that delayed the planetarium presentations, we were astonished by "Cosmic Collisions" and "Search for Life" as we reclined on the special seating in almost total darkness. German guests had their own presentations. In was here, too, that the Cunard Insights lectures took place: talks on a variety of topics by expert speakers including astronomer Mark Butterworth and journalist Jerry Eskenazi.Especially enjoyable was the programme of events provided by the group from RADA. In addition to conducting an excellent series of workshops on storytelling, the group presented performances of "Canterbury Tales" and "Much Ado About Nothing" in the theatres, and read bedtime stories and ghost stories at other venues, as well as "Jazz Poetry" and "Passion and Piano" which we were not able to see: there was simply too much to do. Thus we did not use the pub, the casino, the Winter Gardens or the Chart Room, and spent only a little while in the Library. The youngsters spent quite a lot of time in the fitness room, and seemed pretty content with arrangements there.There was one major disruption to the programme of events on 29th April when the Royal Wedding was shown on TV in cabins and on the big screen in the Illuminations cinema. Many other events were poorly attended that day, which is not surprising. Most of the ladies loved it, and Cunard rose to the occasion with a special afternoon tea, dinner menu, souvenir menus, complimentary wedding cake for all guests, and special souvenir items on sale in the Mayfair shops. Dinner that night was Formal - an exception to the normal pattern. There are normally two formal nights when dinner suits are pretty well mandatory. On our trip, of course, there were three. It all adds to the overall atmosphere and fun. A few people let the side down by not adhering to dress codes, but then...We all love dining out and enjoy good food. The Britannia Restaurant did not disappoint. Far from it. The fare was consistently as good as our favourite restaurants at home. Furthermore, our special needs did not cause any problems. One of our party is vegetarian, and was able to select from an extensive vegetarian alternative menu daily - or select from the regular one. I am diet-controlled diabetic, and once more there was no problem. I did not need the special diabetic menu: the regular one had sufficient choice of suitable items.We were impressed by the overall standards of cleanliness, not only in the staterooms, but throughout the ship. We managed to get a glimpse into the kitchens. Absolutely shiny and spotless!A few grumbles: Internet access is expensive. So is the Hair Salon ($200+ for partial highlights: $120 quoted, but then a surprise $80+ for shampoo and blow-dry, as if there is any choice about this.) $11 per person per day is added automatically to your cabin account. No real problem there, the service was excellent and well worth it: I'd just prefer it included in the ticket price. But then another 15% gratuity is added to the price of drinks and some other services, and there is room on the payment slip to add yet an extra tip! A tip + a tip + a tip?A few tips:We discovered that getting a cab from Manhattan to Brooklyn can be a real problem around 3pm: the time that the taxi drivers change shifts. (We made our own arrangements in Manhattan.)There was no problem arranging for our cabin cards to open both cabins and getting different cards allocated to different credit cards.Laundry is not a problem. There are several self-service laundries with dryers and ironing facilities, and they are free to use but not available 24/7.You can get tea, coffee, snacks, etc in the King's Court just about anytime, and full meals most of the time - all free.Disabled access throughout the vessel is first-class. Lifts are provided wherever needed.Room service is free.We were glad we chose the early (6pm) sitting for dinner. Otherwise it's late nights if you want to include the shows.The clocks go forward one hour per day on the Eastbound crossing.There are phones located all around the ship and you can use these to ring you cabin. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
My wife and I have done 4 previous cruises on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises but they nowhere near compare to Cunard's Queen Mary 2 which I booked to celebrate my wife's 50th Birthday in April 2011.Yes being British on a ... Read More
My wife and I have done 4 previous cruises on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises but they nowhere near compare to Cunard's Queen Mary 2 which I booked to celebrate my wife's 50th Birthday in April 2011.Yes being British on a British ship (albeit American owned)made a big difference for me. I had read many negative reviews on QM2 and Transatlantic crossings and the only things that were true for us were that the weather at sea was miserable and the Kings Court (Cafeteria)was crowded, everything else was absolutely brilliant. The ship is marvellous and very impressive, very clean and very luxurious. The staff are super efficient and extremely polite and of course very smart in the best of British traditions. Formal evenings mean exactly that and everyone observes the dress code so don't expect to get served in the dining room on a formal night in your shorts and flip-flops.Being an Ocean Liner there is a great deal of activity on board from ballroom dancing lessons to Bridge lessons to computer lessons theatre shows competitions art exhibitions and much more. Just walking around the ship and looking at the various exhibits is an event in itself and after 7 days at sea we still had not explored everywhere.I read somewhere that the staff (especially the English) can be rude but this was certainly not our experience. Captain Paul Wright who we met in the Golden Lion was brilliant with us and wished my wife a very happy 50th, thank you Captain Wright.We are non-smokers and at no time did we observe anyone smoking anywhere at all even though smoking is allowed in a number of areas including cabins.The Golden Lion Pub and Sir Samuels offered an alternative lunch menu to either the Kings Court or the Britannia Restaurant at no extra cost. Drinks were reasonably priced compared to other cruise ships and certainly a lot cheaper than our subsequent hotel in New York.The QM2 is supposed to have a 40 year lifespan so I intend to save for a world cruise but hopefully I will be back on the Queen Mary 2 very soon Read Less
Sail Date April 2011

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