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309 Repositioning Cruise Reviews

4th January 2010. Queen Victoria, Southampton. We arrived at around 1330hrs at the cruise terminal, it was in chaos from the start, it took almost 3hrs before we embarked, there were no refreshments laid on apart from small canteen serving ... Read More
4th January 2010. Queen Victoria, Southampton. We arrived at around 1330hrs at the cruise terminal, it was in chaos from the start, it took almost 3hrs before we embarked, there were no refreshments laid on apart from small canteen serving tea and stale sandwiches which was over priced. The first night on board was as expected allowing passengers to settle in and the first dinner in the Britannia was OK but nothing special. I spent the evening in the casino and retired around 0130hrs and the next morning went to the "Lido" on Deck 9 for a self service breakfast 1015hrs. Dinner that night was undercooked and lukewarm, the only good thing was the service, the staff in the Britannia were great. It then came about that there was a virus on board and the "Lido" was to close (Not really surprised being served partly raw meat) It should be mentioned that MANY passengers eat in the "Lido" You could obtain tea & coffee but you had to queue and this could be for over 40minutes, if you went to any of the bars for tea or coffee you were charged. The Britannia restaurant for breakfast & lunch only opened the lower deck and ended up with large queues and only after a lot of complaints did they open the upper deck, again, the food was sub-standard as this was supposed to be a luxury cruise ship. (This continued throughout the cruise) I, being one of the fortunate ones did not get sick but those who did were charged for the privilege. Some of the staff in the bars were completely rude. The entertainment on board was at least mediocre but there was a couple of good shows. Disembarking was more chaos as the tannoy system was turned off in the cabins so not many people new what was going on. This is ONLY A BRIEF DISCRIPTION as there is MUCH MORE I must mention that I did the same cruise last year and it was FANTASTIC. In my opinion This cruise was a complete disaster and despite what "Cunard" might say, MANY passengers were and will be complaining as they certainly did NOT get what they paid for. Almost forgot to mention Room Service, 49minutes on the phone then gave up, cabin next to me said he was on the phone for over 1& half hrs Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Introduction and Background of Newbie Passengers. I am almost retires; we have traveled extensively throughout most of the world (as top elite member of many hotel and airline frequent flyer programs). I would think this is the profile of ... Read More
Introduction and Background of Newbie Passengers. I am almost retires; we have traveled extensively throughout most of the world (as top elite member of many hotel and airline frequent flyer programs). I would think this is the profile of potential cruisers that may be attractive to a cruise company. This was out first significant cruise. We researched many cruise lines and options using Cruise Critic and other web sites. We selected Azamara and Oceania as the best fit of us based on 1) limited onboard smoking policies and 2) not formal dress requirements (and for Oceania only, advertised luxury hotel quality beds). After this research and studying both the positive and negative comments of Both Azamara and Oceania, we decided to book one cruise on each line on our personal journey [pun intended] to make this comparison for ourselves. We were looking to see if either or both cruise lines could meet or exceed our cruise expectations. We will post our own comparison results (your mileage may vary) after completing both cruises. We had cancelled a previously booked Celebrity cuisse. Booked Own Air to BCN. Would book own air in an instant, but I have booked my own international air for many years. AMERICAN Airlines coach (ugh) Las Vegas to JFK, then JFK to Barcelona. The seat gods were with us (with a little help from Seat Guru and AA online. We had an empty middle seat between us on both flights. At $5 and 30,000 AA miles per person total cost one way Las Vegas to Barcelona this was a great deal! Frequent flyer one way awards are available on AA for half the mileage of a round trip award (maybe some day United will catch up). Pre-Cruise BCN Hotel. BCN free shuttle to the Airport Renaissance Hotel. This hotel was fine for one night airport location (both positive and negative comments on CC for this hotel). The 10 Euro per person ship transfers were very convenient and easy (but convenient and easy ended once you get to the pier). As a Marriott Platinum, class greeting and free lounge access for breakfast (typical, OK) and evening tapas (poor). For a one night airport stay, we would return. N Having been to Barcelona many times, we did not need to spend extra days in the city. Ugly 1 - The Smoking Cabin. Azamara does not enforce their advertised policy of not smoking in the cabins! After we boarded in Barcelona and cabins were announced as available, we encountered a smoke filled cabin. After reporting this to three people and after way too much elapsed time, we were moved to another cabin (same category, less desirable location). I have uncounted this situation a few times with hotels around the world, but they usually have us moved within five minutes. As we were waiting for any action by Azamara, we were already planning our immediate cruise cancellation, departure from the ship and our Barcelona hotel before returning home. When a new cabin was finally offered, I asked what if the replacement cabin had also been smoked in on the previous cruise. This question was just brushed aside as they did not understand how this could even be remotely possible. This has also happened to me in a hotel (but again, promptly corrected), so I considered it a very valid question. Way too much time was wastedoffer9ing to deep clean the assigned cabin and convert it back a non-smoking cabin (this was not an acceptable solution to us, Azamara said they had done it before and it would work). In retrospect, housekeeping had to know that the previous occupants were smoking in this cabin. We later ran into another couple on the journey that had encountered the same problem and had also changed cabins. How did this happen? The excuse was that the butler in this area smoked and did not know that the previous occupants were smoking in the cabin. I find this totally unacceptable; Azamara advertises that it does not allow smoking in the cabins. If they choose to not enforce this, then this is false advertising. If they choose to not enforce this, then we choose to cruise elsewhere. Big deal? To us, yes! This incident was handled on board to our satisfaction, but just barely. Ugly 2 - The Aquilina Restaurant; From Great to Ugly on the Third Try. After less than expectation meeting experiences in the MDR and the buffet, we enjoyed a truly great dinner in the Aquilina. Great service, great food and greeted by same (as should be). We enjoyed the experie4nce so much, that we booked a second time (after a negative attempted booking experience with Prime C), and enjoyed another great dinner. On our third (should have quit while we were ahead, but the other choices weren't that good) dining experience in Aquilina, my wife chewed on and swallowed glass that was present in the Raspberry sorbet. We immediately reported this to the table side staff and provided them piece of the glass. The glass actually cut my wife's tongue. My wife reported this to the medical office, but she was promptly brushed aside in a very condescending manner that if she swallowed glass it would pass naturally. We did not return to the Aquilina after this experience. Digression - I left an above minimum suggested tip on all three Aquilina dining occasions. Only a couple of other times on the cruise from specific bar servers was I inclined to do so. Azamara - look as the additional tips by server - these are your stars. This incident was not handled to our satisfaction either on board or after the cruise. Bad 1 - The Barcelona Boarding Process Not Very Friendly. We checked in reasonably early, around 11:30am. We asked for a second holder for the Sea Pass cards, two cards issued, one holder issued. The curt response was that this must be obtained from Guest Relations when onboard. OK, but why? How simple is this? How tacky? We were later informed that additional holders had been supplied to the pier prior to boarding. We were also "required" to present a valid credit card on the pier prior to boarding. This even though we had a $500 on board credit balance. I was not prepared to do this. I think that this is an unreasonable request. Next time (if there is a next time) I will just say I am a cash customer (I wonder how much cash they will then want to collect on the pier). Bad 2 - The MDR First Night. The first night MDR service was not very good; food OK, service OK, order not correct. Bad first impression. Not acceptable for a land restaurant, such that we would have never returned if this were a land restaurant. The French Onion soup had an "off" taste to it - would never order again. The New York Steak did not come with the ordered sauce (it was on the menu). As it was, it took many days for us to again retry the MDR (thank goodness for the buffet). This was our first example of many of lack of attention to detail by the staff throughout the voyage. Bad 3 - The Beds. Very well used mattresses provided little or no support. Fortunately, our butler was able to make this satisfactory with additional foam padding for my wife and a board to make mine firmer. Bad 4 - Bingo. How can you mess up bingo? The bingo buy in included a "free "bingo card to be used at any future bingo game. The only other bingo game was cancelled for lack of cash customers, so there was no opportunity to use the free bingo card. Maybe if the cash buy in was not so high it would attract more players. We were very surprised by the lack of bingo on a trans-Atlantic crossing. Bad 5 - Outrageous Internet Access Prices. Knowing this in advance, I did not bring a laptop. At a more reasonable price, I would have been willing to purchase the service. I choose to not even check email at these prices (and I am a computer guy who lives online). Bad 6 - On Board Future Cruise Sales. A real lost opportunity. A totally non-responsive, non-customer oriented person staffed the future cruise sales desk. I could not believe this. This person was not sales or customer relations oriented. Criminal for a company that wants to sell cruises (my assumption, I may be wrong). A thirty second conservation with this person has cost Azamara the cancellation on one of two future cruises we had already booked before this cruise. She just quoted the Azamara rule book - end of conversation. Before sailing, we had booked two additional Azamara Cruises due to the pending Azamara Club announcement with the knowledge that we could cancel if we were not satisfied with our first Azamara cruise or the new Azamara Club announcement. This person declined the opportunity to offer (or request Miami to offer) us any onboard booking incentives to further confirm or even save these bookings. I was totally taken aback by the total lack of responsiveness. Now after the cruise with Azamara Club pricing announced, Azamara should just eliminate this onboard function. Bad 7 - Clean the Chairs. The tops of the chairs in the buffet were all sticky, probably from various foods. These chair tops need cleaning. Bad - Buffet Organization. No attention to detail here. The pitchers of milk and skim milk are placed in trays with cartons of milk and skim milk. The cartons are easy to read to see which is which, the small labels on top of the pitchers are not - one would think that the pitcher in the tray of skim milk cartons would also be the pitcher of skim milk - not always. Not consistent, you have to get your glasses out to read the small label on top of the pitchers (or just use/waste the more expensive milk cartons). One pass through the toaster oven does not toast an English muffin. After first experience of being offered a one pass toasted English muffin, I had to ask most of the time for a second pass through the toaster. Ask? Bad 9 - Computer Clocks. Have the computers in the lab pick up the current date/time from a time server? How hard is this? Bad 10 - Hosted Cruise Critic Meeting. Thank you for the opportunity to meet some of the Azamara staff. This was in fact how we got invited to the bridge, engine control room and galley tours. At the CC reception, I declined the offered wine/sparkling wine and went to the bar and ordered a drink and presented my Sea Pass. The nearby waitress comped the drink. Later, my wife asked a different waitress for a drink, only to be abruptly told that it would be billable. I was perfectly willing to pay for both drinks; the attitude and inconsistency were not desired and turned me off. Bad 11 - Additional Specialty Restaurant Reservations. Another bas experience here. On boarding, we booked one evening each in Aquilina and Prime C. We had to cancel the Prime C on the day of the reservation due to my wife's illness. When cancelling, I asked for an alternate date - only to be curtly told that only 9pm was available on all the remaining days. There was absolutely no effort made to offer a standby list if others cancelled or any other option. Needless to say, we never went to the Prime C (but our butler had no problem booking us in the Aquilina for another night, I bet he could have even booked the Prime C). Bad 12 - Interactive TV Menus Do Not Match MDR Menus. On two occasions we noticed that the in room interactive TV menus displayed did not match what was actually on the MDR menu and being served that night. The first time was just the type of pasta used in the nightly pasta dish. By the way, never order pasta in the MDR - it was always starchy. A later night (lobster night) the complete wrong menu was posted. So you look at the TV menu during the day and decide if you want to go to the MDR that night, but then you get there and it's not the right menu and no lobsters. So you leave, go to the buffet, and try again another night. No attention to detail. There are people that would love to be employed to update the TV menus - this could be done from an where in the world. OK 1 - Bar Costs. After other CC reviews, we were concerned about the hi9gh cost of drinks on board. From experience, one can of Coke $2. Glass of Wente Sauvignon Blanc $6. Glass of Benedictine $6. Specialty martini $10. All plus 18%. Tom us, this was on the high end of reasonable, but not unreasonable. We were OK with these prices only because we do not drink many soft drinks. OK 2 - Room Numbers. Almost the entire crew referred to cabins or staterooms by room number. I thought on a ship rooms were called cabins or staterooms. Hotels offer rooms. Good 1 - New Friends. We met many passengers and made friends from people from several countries. Most of the passengers we met were not aware of Cruise Critic. Good2 - Calling on Gibraltar on Sunday. On Sunday, the UK high street shops were all closed. This saved me a lot of money! Although I was looking forward to some British shopping. Good 2A - Calling on Funchal on a local holiday when most shops were closed. Again, saved me some more money. Good 3 - Minimal Public Address Announcements. The daily captain update was good. Also better was the absence of PA announcements selling the ships offerings. This was appreciated. Good 4 - Shipboard Medical Service. Unfortunately, both my wife and I has to use this service. We both found the medical care highly professional. Good 5 - Virtual Games. These were fun. Great 1 - Butler Experience. Although we did not know our butler's name for the first three days (due to the stress and trauma of boarding, not his fault), Apostolos and Jose provided outstanding cabin services. I( had very low expectations of this from reading CC, but I can say that this is the only one area that our expectations wet met on the entire cruise. Great 2 - The Ship Size. We loved the size of the ship, and meeting new friends from around the world. Suggestions to Azamara (and other lines) to improve the Cruise Experience. Here is our list from this cruise experience. 1. Add a more extensive list of liqueurs to the bars (Chartreuse si vous plait). 2. Add a flexible mirror in the cabin bathrooms. Ladies like top be able to see the back of their hair in a mirror without having to hand hold a mirror (deluxe hotel room configuration 101). 3. Configure all of the computers in the computer lab for guests the same. Only one or two had MS Word, where I was able to compose the original version of this document long ago sent to Azamara. Even an old copy of MS Office. Or even Open Office would be fine. Seems they would be easier to maintain if they were all the same. I have since the cruise purchased a netbook for leisure travel cruising (I have not needed this for leisure travel in hotels as most provide free internet and computer usage to their elite customers). For business travel, I have lugged laptops around the world. 4. Please dump the photographers overboard. He had just enough pressure to be annoying. 5. Please dump the art auction overboard - what a waste of precious ship space. 6. Please dump, Alicante as a port of call (with apologies to those we me that lived there). I suggest Malaga, Valencia, Seville, Palma d Majorca or even Marseille (I know, wrong direction) as better/more interesting/places-we would-like-to-see ports of call. 7. Pleas dump Coco Cay as a port of call. We will NOT sail on another cruise that wastes a day at this "port". A total waste. 8. Have your own mystery shopper dine in the MDR and the buffet and listen to the cruisers conversations about the ship - we heard many. If you really want to get the pulse of the ship, have someone do laundry and listen to the conservations in the laundry room. You get more information (or misinformation) there than from any of the crew. 9. Open the specialty restaurants earlier at 5pm or 5:320pm nightly. This is an early crowd on this ship - evidence by th3e fact that 9pm reservations always seemed to be available. Close earlier. After the Cruise. We have cancelled one of our two future Azamara cruise bookings (at pre-Azamara Club prices). We are looking forward to cruising Oceania and will report here on CC that experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
First the good... The ship is almost new and in good condition, clean and sort of attractively decorated. The service is excellent, the crew does speak english for the most part and they appear very polished in starched white uniforms. ... Read More
First the good... The ship is almost new and in good condition, clean and sort of attractively decorated. The service is excellent, the crew does speak english for the most part and they appear very polished in starched white uniforms. Service staff always greets passengers and they are warm and accommodating. Cabins are OK, not great. Now the so so... Entertainment and activities are below average to poor. Deck space is crowded and lounge chairs are in short supply with most chairs sitting for half the day "reserved" with a towel on them and no passenger in sight. Bottle necks are everywhere, especially in the "cafeteria". The mens and ladies steam room and sauna area are very European in their layout with clear glass doors offering full views of nude passengers of the opposite sex. Alcoholic beverages are insanely expensive, with a mixed drink at $10 and a beer at $9. The big problem... THE FOOD!!! Do not fall for the oh it's Italian food line. I'm Italian and please let me assure you that this food is no more Italian than McDonald's. Sadly enough the food served by MSC is just plain cheap, nasty food with very little choice period. You know you're in trouble when every day the lunch buffet begins with sawdust dry burgers and hideous pink hot dogs and then it goes down hill from there. For dinner the dining room is your only choice for dinner. There is NO "Lido Deck" buffet option. Please get this straight. Everyone at their assigned table for dinner every night with night after night of inedible food. Perhaps this is where I should tell you I am not some picky gourmet type. Yes I like great food, but hey if I'm hungry average will do the trick. MSC's food is just plain BAD and if you think you can make it through a cruise that appears to be a "deal" by compromising food, think again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Having thoroughly enjoyed several previous cruises, including trans-Atlantic "repositioning" cruises, we booked a 17 day repositioning cruise on the Poesia without a second thought. In researching the port itinerary for the trip ... Read More
Having thoroughly enjoyed several previous cruises, including trans-Atlantic "repositioning" cruises, we booked a 17 day repositioning cruise on the Poesia without a second thought. In researching the port itinerary for the trip we came across numerous reviews on Msc generally and the Poesia in particular - practically everyone of which was strongly negative. We sailed in October 2009 and, with negative reviews spanning the period from May of 2008 (launch date) through September of 2009, went sought refuge in denial - "It can't possibly be as bad as they say", "They must have improved that by now" and so on. Denial of course, turned out to be wishful thinking. I cannot think of a single negative comment contained in other reviews that we would not emphatically endorse although that is not to say that everything was bad. The ship itself was and is excellent and our balcony stateroom was on a par with other carriers we have experienced. Cabin housekeeping and service likewise were both excellent and, if these items were all a cruise offered, we would rate this a four or a five. Unfortunately, every other aspect of the package was somewhere between mediocre and downright awful. We like to walk, especially on sea days. If your pleasure is to treadmill at $30.00 per hour then the Poesia might be just what you are looking for. The Promenade Deck (deck 7) was available on just one day of the trip. Every other day parts of it were closed off for bunkering the lifeboats, washing the deck, painting and other obscure maintenance tasks. In any event the, the deck does not go completely round the ship and requires either a repeated U shaped walk or cutting through the rear stairwell to complete each circuit. The Jogging Track on deck 14 was a travesty. By 7:00 am it was so littered with sun-chairs and bodies, staking their claim for another day of cancer cultivation, that it was impossible to walk around without having to step over such obstacles or waiting while a deckhand, with a fresh stack of sun-chairs, threaded his way between the broiled bodies. Unless you are a tour fan, don't rely on Msc providing any assistance whatever on the port stops. No information in the daily sales promotion sheet delivered to the cabins, no maps, no list of features, no restaurants, no highlights, nothing at all except a flat "No." to any question asked about off ship activities. Moral: Expect to be treated like a second class citizen if you intend to do your own thing in port. Worst of all however, is the entire food service management or, more accurately, mismanagement. Wrong orders, room temperature milk for cereals, strange 15 to 20 minutes total lapses in service, slow water refills if you were one of the lucky ones that received water in the first place, undrinkable coffee, uncooked potatoes, meats that seem to actively fight back, salads awash with half a cup of water and on and on. Soups were generally passable to good and we did have one good dessert. Msc is a proponent of Fixed Dining - that is to say, you are expected to dine with the same folks every evening for the duration of the trip. All we typically wanted was a main course choice and possibly a dessert. with eight people on the table debating their wine choices and then discussing each of the five or six courses that seemed necessary to their existence, dinner typically took two hours and was simply an appalling experience. The only alternative to this zoo is "Slices of Pizza" from the buffet that is otherwise shutdown for the day. After three seemingly interminable nightmare dining experiences in the restaurant, we opted to live on pizza for the rest of the trip. Ironically, there was an upside to the astoundingly poor restaurant operations - we both lost two pounds on the trip! Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
EMBARKATION We boarded the Emerald Princess in Copenhagen. The boarding process was simple and efficient, considering the number of passengers involved. The total time to board was around one hour. One annoyance was that Princess ran out ... Read More
EMBARKATION We boarded the Emerald Princess in Copenhagen. The boarding process was simple and efficient, considering the number of passengers involved. The total time to board was around one hour. One annoyance was that Princess ran out of coffee and water in the waiting area. We were able to access out cabins as soon as we boarded which was a pleasant surprise. CABINS Our cabin was an interior on the Baha deck. From the time we arrived there were problems. The suction for the commode did not work. It was repaired on four different occasions. We experienced a loss of ventilation for a twelve-hour period during the second night on board. After four days of problems and numerous calls to customer service, we were able to reach someone in authority who moved us to another cabin on the Aloha deck. The new cabin had no problems. Talking to other passengers we discovered that numerous cabins had problems with their commode suction. The Emerald Princess is a new ship. Problems as described above should be a rarity. SHIP LAYOUT/CONDITION One of the most egregious problems encountered during our cruise was the ship's lack of public area spaces. With over 3200 passengers on board and the inability to use the outside decks due to weather, there were people everywhere. The public areas seemed to be the same size as the Diamond and Sapphire Princess. Both of these ships have 750-800 less passengers. In order to get a good seat for shows and lectures in the Princess Theater and the Explorers Lounge, one needed to arrive a full hour prior to the event. On other ships that we have sailed, arriving thirty minutes ahead of time was more than adequate. One last observation: getting to the Bottecelli Dining Room was nearly impossible. Many folks needed the entire cruise before they found their way to the space. Poorly laid out at best. Finally, the temperature inside the ship was far too warm most of the time. I heard more than a few complaints about the heat. SERVICE The ships crew was staffed by people from 42 countries. Cultural differences were evident. Our cabin attendant and dining room waiters (Philippines) were superb. Friendliness and service was consistently excellent. This cannot be said about the Horizon Buffett. Many of the wait staff were form Eastern Europe. Service ranges from excellent to downright poor. Many staff members displayed "attitude", especially during the breakfast time. Many days we had to get our own coffee and juice while the waiters stood around and watched. ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment offered was poor at best. The production shows were definitely not geared to mature audiences. We walked out of two of the three shows presented. There was an opera singer who was OK and the requisite Magician. The only saving grace was the comedy and (lecture) of Kevin Hughes. He was excellent! Other lecturers put us to sleep. The lady who did the port lectures spoke at length on the history of the area but offered little practical advice (i. e. where to exchange money, transportation, shopping etc.) PORT CALLS The ports selected (Oslo, Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin, Reykjavik, Greenland, and Newfoundland) were excellent. However, the time in many of the ports was so brief, that there was little time to explore on one's own. Additionally, tendering in Edinburgh and Greenland was an adventure by itself. We waited over an hour in line waiting to tender back from Greenland. Due to weather, we missed St. John's Newfoundland altogether. While severe weather in the North Atlantic is not unusual this time of year, Princess might have had a contingency plan in place such as maybe a stop in Bermuda or Princess Keys. FOOD The food on board was not up to Princess standards. We cruised on Golden Princess to Alaska in July, and the food was noticeably better. The main dining room vegetables were consistently undercooked. Desserts ranged from outstanding to not editable. The Horizon Buffet was average at best. A noticeable exception was the Pizza Bar and Hamburger Line. Both were very good. However, since both places were exposed to the elements, one didn't eat there very often. DEBARKATION The debarkation process could have been improved by placing a crew member in each assembly area to keep traffic flowing and passengers under control. There was a great deal of pushing and shoving in assembly areas. We were told to be available for leaving the ship at 7 AM but were not allowed to go ashore until 7:45 AM. OVERALL IMPRESSION We will cruise Princess again but never on Emerald Princess or any other Princess ship this large. It just wasn't worth the hassle. Other smaller Princess ships are more to our liking. I do not recommend this ship to anyone that is uncomfortable with large crowds. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
A new cruiser and new-ish to these forums, this is my review, for good or bad! For me, like the curate's egg - the cruise was good in parts. Ports of call: I booked the trip based on the itinerary published in the brochure. This ... Read More
A new cruiser and new-ish to these forums, this is my review, for good or bad! For me, like the curate's egg - the cruise was good in parts. Ports of call: I booked the trip based on the itinerary published in the brochure. This was subsequently changed and substantial port changes were made from 14 - 27 October. F.O wrote that the Canadian authorities had advised that this sector was in breach of legislation protecting registered ships engaged in coastal trading. They had apparently vigorously disputed Canada's interpretation but said that they were not able to gain any concessions from the authorities. This did make me slightly concerned about how a company with F.O's reputation and experience could be caught out by such legislation at such a late stage in the process, how could they get it so wrong? After all, this had been planned for how many months. Bite the bullet, I thought, and make the best of it. I enjoyed most of the ports of call that I was able to go on, norovirus and ports cancellations preventing me from going ashore at Shelburne, Sydney, St Pierre and Miquelon and St John's, NF. Overall as some of the smaller ports of call had 'closed down' for the winter, more judicious planning would have given us more shore time at places like Bar Harbour, Oak Bluffs and Lunenburg where there was a lot to see and do. Sunny and warmer weather certainly would have added to the small town charm of the smaller ports in Canada - Cornerbrook, Baie-Comeau, Gaspe, Digby - though the welcome and hospitality of local people, waiting to host us even in cold and breezy conditions, was really heart warming. Tendering procedures were sometimes tediously long with F.O booked trips taking priority over we lesser mortals who had privately arranged our own excursions. So I missed one early and privately pre-booked trip in Bar Harbor and a planned bus tour of Martha's Vineyard was curtailed. I got ashore early at Lunenburg by booking a F.O tour at the last minute. I think it was here that others, who had to wait for tenders to get them into this beautiful area, were not called until early afternoon, then they had to be back on board for a tea time departure so they decided not to leave the ship. What a shame as this is a stunning area to visit. Maybe the cruise would have found better weather and sea conditions had it been possible to maintain the original schedule and if it had started a few weeks earlier. Public areas on the ship: Public areas were very clean, good looking - if in somewhat 70s' decor - and well maintained though at times it was difficult to get a 'window' seat in the library or the walk through area to the Morning Light pub - first come, first served! The Morning Light pub? A bit lacking in character and somewhat divided up by high backed benches and all 'curtained in', claustrophobic given the large area, but there was generally plenty of room there for a sit down. There were other areas on Deck 7 where sofas and easy chairs were available and the library of course (if you didn't mind snoring!) And it was enjoyable to hear the Trio playing in one of the seating areas there. The bars I used the Lido and Observatory bars mostly, sometimes used the Marquee Bar for afternoon tea. The Lido and Observatory both have a reasonable view of the outside world. It is a bit of a do to get to the Observatory and Marquee bars if you are at the 'wrong end' of the ship. Staf:. These lovely people made my time on board. I was really impressed with the ship's wait-on, bar and cabin staff, and pay particular commendation to the 3 waiters on table 107 in Ballindaloch, the Palms staff, the Lido and Observatory bars staff and my cabin stewardess Ong. They were really great, always friendly, cheerful and caring as were the majority of staff engaged in day to day chores around the ship. Reception staff were rather less cheery, a little bit forbidding, maybe instructed to maintain a certain distance and reserve, as was one of the senior European staff I had dealings with, whose manner was brusque and intimidating, perhaps to bat off complaints? Who knows? Entertainment: What I saw of the evening entertainment was good and varied but some performers had the edge. What stood out for me was the Balmoral Troupe and the Crew's Show - excellent. What a talented crowd they are! Day time entertainment, card games, darts, deck games, carpet games, quizzes and lots of people were participating and having a good time. A personal preference on my part is not to do games but I was quite happy with a book and a people watch! But there were some interesting lectures and the Arts and Crafts classes seemed well patronised as did the dancing. For singles travellers: I am very used to solo travelling, others less so, so my comments here are based on chats with other singles who were looking for introductions to like travellers. Not all of these have access to PCs so please bear with me if I am reporting their views. Arrangements would have benefited from a little more forethought and care and attention. After all, this line prides itself on being 'all about the people'. The growing demand from singles in the holiday market should be one that companies might respond to in a positive way. Several basic and achievable proposals were brought to the attention of the Entertainment/Cruise Director to try to introduce single travellers, maybe just to dine or maybe to team up for outings. (What was in place was not working). He agreed but nothing changed during the course of the 6 weeks. Maybe it was out of his hands but several passengers remarked that they felt rather let down by the apparent lack of care and cohesion especially when it was part of programmed events in the Daily Times. It was also remarked that cruise hosts should be more 'age appropriate' to the average age of guests, it could be too much like Blue Peter. Food and Drink: I am a real foodie. The food was OK overall but the main restaurant served tiny portions from the menu except for a number of notable occasions, such as the lamb shank and Beef Wellington nights. The buffet was more generous. It was rather less exciting than I had been led to expect but mass catering and economic constraints are undoubtedly a factor. Cruise food always had a reputation of being excellent, maybe that was in the good old days or maybe my expectations were too high. It sometimes looked better than it tasted. It didn't stop me eating it though as anyone else doing the cooking is a bonus! For me, there were some high spots in the 2 restaurants where I ate most of my meals. I loved the roast dinners and the Palms Buffet nights where the staff dressed up in costume. The stir fry cook there made some great dinners and there was sometime a queue for his cooking - your meal could be cooked to your taste and I thought that was super. The fresh omlettes were delicious in the moring as were the late supper fish and chips. Drinks prices were reasonable too without the surcharge sometimes levied by other cruise companies. Accommodation: The ship, whilst common areas are a bit spiffy, still has some shabby and well worn cabins, one of which I was allocated. I did not think that this was worth the money I paid, nor would I expect my B&B guests in my home to occupy such poorly re-furbed bedrooms. I had an older cabin on Deck 4. It had new-ish soft furnishing but was well worn in the bedroom and the bathroom with really poor refurbishment of the fixtures and fittings, screws holes left un-Polyfilla'ed, bathroom shelf rails loose, the bath really looked unwholesome with a stained bottom and anti slip strips that were partially peeled off, paintwork that had been given a lick and a promise - all things that would have taken a couple of hours at most to fix and look well cared for. Sickness: Infections can and do occur all too frequently in establishments where large numbers of people congregate for any length of time but on this ship Norovirus made its presence felt again after having been on board on the British Isles cruise earlier in the month. There was also a nasty throat and chest infection that has followed people home, with serious repercussions in a couple of cases I heard about. As well there is what seemed to be a viral ear infection (or streptoccocal bacterial infection, take your pick) that continues to plague us, I now have both of those a week after coming home. All part of the risk of travelling with so many people at such close quarters, I know. Regarding NV I think that any efforts made by management to restrict the spread - isolation, hand washes everywhere, closure of self serve buffets, washing down of banisters, lifts' handrails etc and the fumigation of cabins after release from 'custody' - might have been somewhat snookered by the less than hygienic habits of some passengers. I'll leave that to your imagination. It has been suggested elsewhere on the forums that we oldies are less than careful in our personal care -not me, matey - but I now understand why such comments are made. I lost much of the third sector of the cruise to sickness, isolated for over 48 hours and then a further self chosen isolation for a further 20 hours. Believe me, the after effects of the virus are enough to dampen one's enthusiasm for partying so I was rather glad to get some air at Cobh and to arrive back home 2 days later. To add insult to injury the coach driver on the way back from Dover - Victoria locked the toilet and said it was for single use only - we weren't sure if he meant that was only for one person to use or if it was only for Number 1s - who dared ask after that? God forbid that one of us really DID need to use it! Noxious fumes in cabin: What really made me anxious - as a single traveller - was not only contracting NV, though that was bad enough, but what happened in my cabin in the first week of October. I had the heating switched on and fell asleep whilst reading, then awoke briefly and registered this smell, fell asleep again (at least I hope it was sleep), woke again and the smell was stronger, enough to get me off the bed with a pounding violent headache and dizziness, the former lasting for a number of days. It was coming through the aircon vent. I switched it to the cold position immediately. I reported it to reception by phone, checked to see that the couple in the next cabin was OK, went on deck to get fresh air, then went to Reception in person and demanded that they make a log of it. I heard nothing else so eventually went to see the Guest Relations officer. You can take your pick of the reasons given for the fumes: 1) It is caused by routine maintenance, the engineers say it will clear soon (reception) 2) the engineers know there is a problem and are working to fix it (reception) 3) the ship was bunkered the day before in port (?was it) and the fumes were as a result of that and/or (GRO) 4) the fumes were not in your cabin, they were in the corridor and this happens when the door to the engine room is left open (GRO) This problem, as I reported it, was denied verbally and in writing by the GRO, who inferred that I was making it up to get a free upgrade. (I should add that I had asked for an upgrade when I went to see him on the first occasion and even offered to pay so that I could get a fresh air flow in the cabin - he said that no upgrade was available, unpaid or paid. Instead he offered me a cabin on deck 5. I saw no benefit in going from one sealed box to another so declined). Make what you will of that. This has happened on the Braemar too, according to another poster, so maybe it is an accepted part of being aboard a ship. If it is, it's potentially very dangerous, the immediate and long term ill effects of exposure are well documented, especially from bunker fuel fumes, as I have since discovered. My overall review is this cruise varies between excellent and downright frightening! As I said, I was a first timer - would I go again? That is very doubtful. I am quite put off. I am not a whinger about the smaller things in life, but this was a substantial investment for me in terms of money and time, having got over a health scare earlier in the year, I was determined to try to push into life all those things that I never had an opportunity to do before - but it didn't come up to the mark. As a single passenger I paid a lot of money for this cruise, £6000, and certainly expected a 4* service, if not a little more, judging by the Fred. Olsen brochure's description and many passengers' complimentary reviews. The fact that I was subsequently offered the cruise for £3400 does grate. Was it value for money at £6000? For me, definitely not! Nor would it have been at £3400. I am disappointed by parts of the cruise (maybe the ship/itinerary planning more than the 'cruise') but the port days were very enjoyable in the main and I met some really pleasant travelling companions. I had anticipated cruising - and with F.Olsen for their UK departures - as a new holiday-ing phase in my life as I get older and less enthusiastic about DIY flights and touring. I am having to think again. I know that there will be many who had a great time, I only wish I had been one of them. My overall marking is 1 and the reason for this is based on GRO's lack of care and concern over the 'fumes' incident and the his intimation that I was making it up to get a free upgrade. This is a pity as it detracts completely from other areas where far higher grades have been awarded and the overall mark suffers as the result of one man's action Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
Our first cruise in 1999 on the QE2 was a 5 day cruise around the Caribbean. We liked the ship but the stops were uninteresting and the land tours overpriced. Our next cruise was just after 9/11 from Boston to Southampton. We enjoyed the ... Read More
Our first cruise in 1999 on the QE2 was a 5 day cruise around the Caribbean. We liked the ship but the stops were uninteresting and the land tours overpriced. Our next cruise was just after 9/11 from Boston to Southampton. We enjoyed the voyage but decided that it was better to travel from East to West as then the clocks were moved back each night rather than forward, which made for a more relaxing journey. We sailed quite often on the QE2 from Southampton to New York and then also on the maiden voyage of the QM2 from Southampton to New York. Our latest (and probably final) cruise was from Hamburg to New York. In the 'old days' on boarding a white gloved member of Cunard personnel was lined up ready to take one to one's room. After boarding for this crossing, on asking to be shown to our room, we were advised that the first concierge was busy and the second concierge was at lunch (when the passengers were boarding!!). So we had to sit down and wait for 5 -10 minutes until we were shown to our room. In good 5 star hotels, on arrival, one is shown to one's room by a receptionist. It seems that Cunard thinks otherwise. PRO s: We had been upgraded to a penthouse. A nice spacious room. The room was always cleaned and made up while we were at breakfast and turned down while we were at dinner. A very good breakfast with plenty of choices. CON s: After we had settled in the room, our white gloved butler bustled in talking on his mobile phone. He asked which 'free' bottles of spirit we would like. We said we would just like a bottle of Campari. Later he returned to say, sorry, not possible. Luckily we had brought a bottle of Campari aboard. We already had ice but asked for a couple of swizzle sticks................. with no result. On the first formal night we asked our butler if he could tie a bow tie. He said he couldn't, but would find someone who knew how to do it............no result. Cunard's cost cutting is very evident in the menus. Less or no luxury foods (eg: foie gras, souffles, table side cooking etc) Less desire to offer more rolls, cheese course and so on. Less petit fours. Dining room staff generally met expectations but never exceeded them. The auction/sale of 3rd rate junky paintings has become old hat. The shops on board are similarly selling either junky stuff or overpriced items. SUMMARY: Previously we considered Cunard's transatlantic crossings fair value compared with first class air travel plus 5 or so nights stay in a 5 star hotel. But at over $12,000 for 2, with only 3 star service they are no longer competitive. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
This is my 3rd sailing on NCL and after 3 so-so cruises I have decided NEVER to cruise with them again after this cruise.  It is simple really, they nickle and dime you to death and the service you get in exchange for it is just mediocre ... Read More
This is my 3rd sailing on NCL and after 3 so-so cruises I have decided NEVER to cruise with them again after this cruise.  It is simple really, they nickle and dime you to death and the service you get in exchange for it is just mediocre at best.  There are other cruise lines out there that are so much better that what little money that you think you are saving on NCL you really are not.  Spend the extra and go on Carnival or RCCL or Princess and have a good cruise.  Here is why.Check in:  got to the port at 1:00 p.m. - got on the boat at 4:45 pm!  I have NEVER had to wait so long in my life to get on a boat.  No explanations, just get through this line and wait in another.  It was madness.  This was a 3-day cruise on a small boat.  Come on people.Cabin - standard balcony cabin - but get this I wanted to take a shower and our bathroom wasn't stocked with any bathroom stuff.  I had to borrow a shower cap from my friends next door.  This was the way it went all weekend.  On the 2nd day we had to ask for new towels because we weren't given any AND there was so much dust on top of our tv set that you could write your name in it.I saved the best for last - we made reservations for 8:00 for 6 at the LeBistro (a specialty restaurant) cover charge of $15 per person.  We arrived at 8:00 and were promptly seated.  At 10:10 p.m. we were eating cold food on extremely hot plates.  The food had been under heat lamps for so long that my friend's steak that had gravy on it had "jellified" (not really a word but you get the picture).  Two hours and ten minute wait to get cold food AND to pay extra to get it????  We asked to speak to the head waiter who happened to be a itty bitty thing who came to the table, gave no explanation or apologies and they took off two of the $15.00 cover charges.  Well I was having dinner with a table full of attorneys and this just didn't cut it with them - the poor girl didn't stand a chance - needless to say, we got all of the cover charges removed from our bill.  All around the ship we heard people complaining about service - albeit it was a cheap cruise - I guess you do get what you pay for - but I won't be found on a NCL ship anytime soon. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We did try to find something good to write about this dreadful experience but apart from looking out over the lovely seas that was it! It was 17 days cooped up in a tin can. Toward the end it felt like prison and one person actually ... Read More
We did try to find something good to write about this dreadful experience but apart from looking out over the lovely seas that was it! It was 17 days cooped up in a tin can. Toward the end it felt like prison and one person actually kissed the ground when we reached Fort Lauderdale. I stood and breathed a sigh of relief as I was halfway across the elevated walkway. I was back in America where things work and people are good mannered. Embarkation in Genoa Very poor with little organization. The small door where you can deposit your luggage was was obscured so I struggled with the cases right down to check in. Mind you that could be because we had two cabin numbers instead of the one we had booked months ago. OK we went back out in the pouring rain and sorted it out. Passengers could not get on board as they were pretending to board by numbers. Walking to the front of the queue we found the real problem. The photographers were stopping everyone to take their photos. This was the not wanted by many but it held the line up for ages. When we bypassed the photographer we found the security line completely empty. On board nobody showed us where our cabins were. Just told we couldn't go to them until 1.00 p.m. We just ignored that and found our cabins. Lifeboat drill Basically this was a farce for something so potentially important. The passengers arrived on time and in good order. Not so the staff. They arrived after us. The muster station was on deck 7 and it was awash with rainwater. We stood there while the staff were sweeping an inch of water away. We could not hear a single word from the Public Address system so we politely stood in line for about 30 minutes and then wandered off. It was that casual. (dangerous in an emergency). Restaurant Our table was suitable for two people but set for four and placed in a throughway for all the waiters. My head and chair was hit everytime they walked past. The noise was overwhelming as the deck height was very low. So many people were crammed in and so close together it was a miserable experience. People were complaining on the first night. We managed two nights only and then gave up eating bad cold food. Without asking the waiters started to pour bottled water. Fortunately we are experienced cruisers and we had already checked the price list and knew it was $4.50 a bottle. (Do the math for 17 days of bottled water!) We asked for a jug of iced water, which is normal. This was reluctantly brought to the table. Other passengers went four or five days before realizing there was iced water available at no extra charge. Coffee was not available without an extra charge. This was changed after the first round of complaints. The Maitre 'D told us that this was going to be the first cruise that MSC would give FREE coffee and water. Those asking for iced tea had to pay for a small tin of sweetened ice tea. There was no option. Those of us who actually had the cheek to ask for a decaffeinated coffee were provided with a cup of hot water and a sachet of instant nescafe. Should you want cream or milk you would have to wait. However to be fair the nescafe was the smart option because the regular coffee was dreadful. Having given up our evening meals, we had to review our options. At first the 13th floor cafeteria was not open in the evening. This did open after considerable complaints to the staff. We decided to eat our main meal at lunchtimes in the restaurant. As we had 17 days of complete boredom it did not really matter that it took one and a half hours for three small courses which included one or two cold starters. The food was rarely up to standard, rarely hot and not always completely cooked. For instance, we understand al dente but we do not understand three quarters cooked pasta. I did ask the waiter why the food was cold. He said it was cooked hours previously and left to keep warm. We felt that the staff resented our presence in the dining room. Not a smile until the last day when they were looking for tips. 13th floor cafeteria Had to open in the evening because so many people refused to eat in the restaurant. By the end of the 17 days it was packed. The food was mediocre and the same day after day. There might be one new item each day. We lined up for hot french fries which were about the only hot thing to eat. (in the dining room they were half cooked and warm, at best) The flow in the cafeteria was dreadful. We have no idea how electric wheelchairs are supposed to use the circular food stations which were surrounded by pillars. Half of the evenings we collected small rolls at 4.00 p.m. and ate them in our cabin. What a cruise! One passenger asked for a donut which was under the counter. She was told that they would all go if he put them out! Noise levels - We did not need an alarm clock. At 5.30 a.m. every morning the sunchairs and other equipment was thrown across the deck above our cabins and we were awake for another long day. MSC made sure were enjoyed the maximum number of hours we needed to be awake. Twice a week they scrubbed the deck at 1.12 a.m. to give us more time awake. Our written formal complaint was responded to well by the Guest Relations Officer. He said that it was not the way we told them to do it, if they don't stop we will put them off the ship. What a thing to say to the customers. How unprofessional and the noise never stoppped. The walls between the cabins were paper thin and everytime the person in the adjoining cabin shut their door our wall bounced. It was a very thin ship. Sanitization - Dispensers - often not there, often empty. Arrived one lunchtime at the restaurant to find no dispenser, asked Maitre 'D where one was and he told me rudely to use the toilets. I was also told by the same person that I should not speak in German to some ladies as I was English. Yep, we are still working that one out. Billing and Interactive TV - Not working three or four days. Reception comment it is a general problem - attitude - go away. Our billing was correct on screen on the last evening. The paper bill at 6.08 a.m. and every item had been entered twice. Spent 45 minutes in line to have a correct account issued. No apology, just a joke to them. During this time we should have left the cabin by 7.00 a.m. Cruise details prior to boarding said all transactions would be in euros. Confirmed by check in so we provided a euro credit card. Ship changed to dollars without advising people. Sports - All sports equipment could only be obtained by going to the 5th floor reception and signing for one tennis ball and the minigolf clubs and ball. Then go back to deck 15 to play before going back to deck 5 to return them and sign for the one ball and equipment. What a joke. New Year's Eve - Health and safety - Many of the passengers were on the outside deck. Not enough chairs were set out for a New Year's Eve buffet so passengers were obliged to remove every single chair in the cafeteria and take them outside. Good job that most people were sitting as the lights went out and the deck was in complete darkness. There was no safety secondary lighting. It was very dangerous. Premium Restaurant - Friends of ours had a meal costing $25 each. At the end of the meal they received the bill and found they had to pay extra for bread and coffee. Unbelievable. Attitude of staff - If they could understand or speak English we didn't find out. Just told it was the Italian way, take or leave it. They need to be advised that the Italian Way would be great but only if it is superior, or at least equal, to the competition. We asked to see the Hotel Manager but he hid in his office the whole cruise. Disembarkation - Words cannot describe the chaos that ensued. We docked at 7.45 a.m. and finally got off the ship at 11.30. We did not wait for our correct color tag to be called as our transfer bus would have been long gone. We finally got away from the port at 1.03 and could see the lines and lines of people trying to get on. How we felt for them not knowing what they were about to experience. In conclusion, I could go on and on with our complaints but what is the use? MSC were not interested in anything to do with passengers and our only way to express our disgust with the staff and management was not withhold payment of tips. The lines of people holding pink no-tips slips was a sight to behold. On other boats we have occasionally withheld a few of the tips but it was always done discretely. On this ship you could see people walking round with the pink slips and discussing it with others. Do not go on this ship, it was nickel and dime and they could not arrange a party in brewery. A complete waste of time and money. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008

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