1. Home
  2. Cruise Styles
  3. Repositioning and Transatlantic Cruises
  4. Repositioning Cruises Cruise Reviews

1,779 Repositioning Cruise Reviews

This was a 27-day Mediterranean/Aegean cruise including a transatlantic crossing (from Fort Lauderdale to Rome and then Rome to Rome, including Egypt, Turkey, and Greece). We stayed, pre-cruise, at the Embassy Suites in Fort Lauderdale - a ... Read More
This was a 27-day Mediterranean/Aegean cruise including a transatlantic crossing (from Fort Lauderdale to Rome and then Rome to Rome, including Egypt, Turkey, and Greece). We stayed, pre-cruise, at the Embassy Suites in Fort Lauderdale - a very nice hotel with a relatively new shopping center containing restaurants and a grocery store just out the back door of the hotel. Transportation to the port was provided by the hotel (for a fee). We had used reward points to stay at the hotel and not used Princess Cruises for the hotel (thus we could not use the port transfers that Princess offered). We arrived at the port around 11:30 a.m. It took about 45 minutes to get through the embarkation process and get to our cabin. We choose a mini-suite because we wanted a room with more space, a sofa, a bathtub, and a balcony. We had more than enough closet and drawer space. The bathroom was larger than we anticipated with adequate space for our necessities. We had read reviews about the balconies in the mini-suites being uncovered and viewable by passengers on the decks above. However, we used the balcony (which had 4 chairs and a table) a lot and never felt uncomfortable because of the openness. If you sit back toward the cabin and not so near the rail, you are hardly visible to those above you. Our only complaint with the balcony was that cigarette smoking from other passengers filtered onto all balconies. We appreciate that Princess Cruises has banned smoking in rooms and balconies beginning in January, 2012. When we first got to our cabin, we emptied the mini-refrigerator and placed those items on a shelf out of our way but in full view so the cabin steward would know we were not using them. Then we placed our own items in the refrigerator. It did take several hours for the luggage to be delivered to the cabin. We were a bit disappointed with the library on the ship. There were a few hard cover books, but very few paperbacks available. There was no book exchange for paperbacks and passengers were not encouraged to turn in their paperbacks at the end of the cruise. The library, with 2 chairs, was sandwiched in on one side of the computer room. This was not a comfortable, quiet, well-stocked library. The information we received prior to the cruise indicated that wireless internet would be available in the cabins. We tried many times to access the internet from our cabin and were unsuccessful. On the few times that it would work, the signal strength was "poor". We had to take our netbook to deck 5, near the computer room, in order to fully take advantage of the wireless internet connection. Also, AOL access was not possible unless you went through another provider. Even then, at times, you could read your email but not send emails. We did appreciate the free minutes of internet access provided to past passengers (our credit was 500 minutes). We enjoyed the whirlpools at the back of the ship. However, we thought the Sanctuary was a bit overpriced. It should have been open (without a fee) to all adult passengers who wanted a quiet refuge besides their cabins. Self-service laundry facilities were available in six places on the ship. It was easier to get a machine if you waited until 8:00 p.m. There were ironing boards as well as washers and dryers and the laundermats were kept very clean. The transatlantic crossing was extremely smooth with beautiful 75°-80° weather every day. After we left Egypt there was an intestinal virus of some sort going around so crew members were positioned at the dining areas to remind passengers to use the hand sanitizers before eating. Also, as a precaution, crew members began serving the food in the buffet line (and the drink area) instead of letting passengers serve themselves. The food on this ship was OK - but not memorable. There were plenty of alternative choices to the main dining room and many people chose those alternatives. We appreciated the 24-hour buffet because you could always find something to eat whenever you wanted to. Disembarkation was smooth and luggage was easily found once we left the ship (however, we were in the first group to leave the ship at 5:45 a.m.). We had more than enough time to catch our 10:30 a.m. flight back to the U.S. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
I had never been on a cruise before, although my partner had. We found the boarding process (in Rio) to be as efficient as could be reasonably expected. The ship itself is large and it was easy to get lost! But it's very clean and ... Read More
I had never been on a cruise before, although my partner had. We found the boarding process (in Rio) to be as efficient as could be reasonably expected. The ship itself is large and it was easy to get lost! But it's very clean and well maintained, staffed by (generally) helpful crew. Our cabin (on deck 5)was larger than expected. The only cabin gripes I had were the lumpy (and with noisy springs) mattress plus a pretty ordinary choice of free to air television. Whilst the vast majority of passengers were Germans, I understand that MSC is attempting to lure more English speakers to their ships. If they REALLY want to succeed in this, they would help themselves by improving the TV channel selection. I would suggest BBC World, Euronews (English service), perhaps Aljazeera (English service) and for the Americans (groan) CNN. I believe that this may be difficult at times, due to satellite signal availabilities. We did a 3 weeks-long trip from Rio to Venice which included 5 days non stop at sea whilst crossing the Atlantic. Naturally, there was plenty of time for reading. A pity there was such a small amount of English language books in the ship's library. To borrow a book is free, but I suspect that despite the (relatively) small number of English speakers on board, books were hoarded, which made it really difficult to find a decent selection. TIP: Take your own book/s. TO SUMMARIZE POSITIVES: Cost of alcoholic drinks is inexpensive. The coffee is excellent. You can even order a current copy of most major newspapers from around the world, delivered to your cabin for only $2.50! The gym is pretty good, although there was usually one or two machines not in working order. Food is generally good, lots of variety and plentiful (awesome ice creams in the restaurants at lunch & dinner!!! But none available in the Gli Archi buffet). Cabin staff are very efficient and helpful without being intrusive. Currency conversions are easy to organise at the Accounts Desk, with very fair exchange rates. The MSC cashless 'Credit Card' system is easy and convenient. TO SUMMARIZE THE NEGATIVES: Staff are reluctant to help with information on 'Do-it-yourself' options for port visits. Naturally, they want to sell their own shore excursions (not always great value) so they don't seem keen to offer practical advice such as taxi fare $$$ estimates, things to do etc. Take your own healthcare basics, such as flu tablets, cough liquid, throat lozenges etc. People were coughing, sneezing and hacking all the time, so chest/throat infections spread quickly. At one stage I spent 3 days in bed, and it wasn't due to seasickness! There's an on-board doctor, but that'll cost you $$$'s. Also, the daily programme, slipped each night under our cabin door, was not well designed. For example, the weather forecasts were useless and instructions for altering watches/clocks back and forth to adjust to new time zones were confusing. My final gripe is the amount of time it took to disembark. With about 3,000 souls waiting to finally get off the ship, I realise it's impossible to do it in 5 minutes flat. But it took forever and passengers were getting irritated. Some entertainment and/or refreshments in the theatre (where passengers wait for disembarkation) would be a smart idea. It would certainly leave a more positive impression during passengers final moments on board M.S.C. Musica. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Celebrity Eclipse is the loveliest ship we have sailed and we have 40 plus cruises with 10 different lines. We are in our 70's and mid 80's. It was not the best cruise experience we have had but all cruises are wonderful in some ... Read More
Celebrity Eclipse is the loveliest ship we have sailed and we have 40 plus cruises with 10 different lines. We are in our 70's and mid 80's. It was not the best cruise experience we have had but all cruises are wonderful in some way. Yes, we are addicted to cruising. This was our first experience with Celebrity and after encountering much difficulty with Customer Service representatives and Specialty Dining agents on the phone prior to the sailing date we flew to Miami expecting the worst. No one could book a reservation for us or give us a reasonable answer as to why they couldn't handle a simple request for a birthday celebration on Day Two when we furnished the names, cabin numbers, and booking numbers for the guests. The April 16th sailing started with a quick shuttle to the Port of Miami and we immediately hit a long line outside the terminal. Inside was bedlam with lines going everywhere and rude people cutting in and then stopping the process while they filled out paperwork. We paid a premium for Concierge Class and there was a 'special' line which moved so slowly that several members of our party booked in regular cabins checked in and were on the ship ahead of us. More about the so-called advantages of Concierge Class later. It took 45 minutes to get on board where we were handed a 1/3 of a glass of warm wine. We were pleased with the overall appearance of the ship. The Eclipse is really lovely and it was hard to believe that it was almost a year old. You had to have a keen eye to spot rust and I never saw dirt. Our cabin was ready and we dropped off our carry on bags before exploring the ship. The cabin was very small with minimal storage especially for a two week voyage. The extra low ceiling made the space appear even smaller. The oddly shaped bed was unsettling. I am not tall but my feet hung off the end of the bed most nights. The bathroom was roomy but lacking a bathtub, magnifying mirror and decent hair dryer. There is no drying line for hand washables. The shower head was stationary but the foot rest for shaving legs was a nice touch. The towels and robes were very heavy. The lighting was inadequate for reading and make up but the bathroom nightlight was just right. The balcony was small but had twp nice chairs, footstools and table. We had very considerate neighbors who spoke softly when they were outside. Our cabin attendants did an adequate job but one of them did not understand English very well and could not fill a simple request for a foam pillow. He became frustrated and would raise his voice when he didn't understand what I said. I think I saw him smile once in 13 days. The dining experiences on board were a pleasant surprise. I read mixed reviews on the quality of food but I think the Eclipse did a superb job. Due to our problem with making reservations pre-cruise, we ate most meals in the main dining room. We had a fun table located in a small niche that was uncrowded and quiet. Our waiters were attentive and the wine steward, Nevis was outstanding. We tried Qsine and it was a fun experience. Ordering off the IPad was interesting for a technically challenged couple of super seniors. The buffet was crowded and confusing but after a few days we got the hang of it. The selections were varied. The coffee shop was nice and a good spot for tea in the afternoon. The extra charge Bistro was a quiet haven on Deck Five. That would be a good place to eat lunch on embarkation day and well worth the $5 charge for space and service. We tried breakfast in the room but without a call to alert us that the order was on the way it was just too hard to guess when they would show up. And the orders were usually double what we thought we had ordered. Be aware that room service is not available on disembarkation day. That is too bad because it really makes it easier to get ready to get off the ship quickly. Beverage cards are available and if you like a drink or two before dinner and maybe something in the showroom later it can be a good deal. If you order a classic package you need to drink 5 or 6 drinks a day to come out ahead. But if you like specialty coffee drinks, fresh squeezed orange juice or bottled water you will be enjoy the packages. The classic package is $39 a day, and the premium is $49 a day. No sharing is allowed. The weather was surprisingly cool even in Miami. The Atlantic was mostly calm with a few windy days. We had very little rain but there were not many opportunities for sunbathing. That was probably the reason that we didn't find the pool areas crowded and there were plenty of loungers available. The cruise director, Que was much in evidence and put together a varied mix of entertainment. With six straight sea days there was lots of the usual cruising activity offered. The enrichment speakers were not the same caliber as some other lines. The entertainment was spotty. But there was something for everyone at one time or another. The movie theater had some great films but did not show anything early in the day. The 5:30 show interferred with dinner or cocktail hour. We did not watch movies in our cabin. It took us a week to figure out how to work the television. There was no written guide to any of the technical equipment in the cabin; lighting, heat, air, TV, etc. The Guest Relations staff was absolutely the best I have ever encountered. They listened and really tried to find solutions to whatever issue you presented. Kudos to them and their supervisor. The officers of the ship were aloof and not engaged with the passengers. This was our first time on Celebrity and while we didn't expect any special treatment it would have been nice to at least felt welcomed and appreciated. Not one staff or crew member said welcome aboard and/or we are glad you choose to cruise with us. The ports on a transatlantic crossing are not the primary reason for choosing this particular cruise. The ship excursion staff gave us wrong information on more than one occasion. Most of our port calls were around Easter weekend so the opportunities were more limited than usual. A few comments about Concierge Class on Eclipse. Don't waste your money unless a fluffier robe, bigger towels and pitiful appetizers in the afternoon are essential to you. We didn't embark or disembark any earlier and the amenities offered are minimal. There is no dedicated Concierge staff or desk. The cabins and balconies are no larger but if location is critical you might want to pay the extra bucks. When you are choosing the location of a cabin remember there is no aft elevator or stairwell. We had a pleasant cruise experience but a ship this large with 2850 younger passengers was not our cup of tea. We will return to our tried and true smaller and more boring ships. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We are two friends in our early 60's. This was our second transatlantic cruise with NCL. First was on the brand new Gem 4 years ago, so it is not fair to compare the older Sun to the then pristine Gem. That being said, the Sun was ... Read More
We are two friends in our early 60's. This was our second transatlantic cruise with NCL. First was on the brand new Gem 4 years ago, so it is not fair to compare the older Sun to the then pristine Gem. That being said, the Sun was a bit shabby, but certainly in good enough condition that I have no complaints except for one. After about a week, our balcony was covered in salt, which we kept tracking into our cabin. The grit from the salt detracted from the pleasure of being on our balcony, which was a bit rusty and in need of paint. But, any balcony is better than no balcony!To get to Port Canaveral from the Orlando airport, we used the "Cruise Xpress" shuttle. Absolutely fantastic service for about half the price of the other bus shuttles I found on line. I was a bit hesitant to use a company that charged so much less than the others, but I was very pleased with the service and highly recommend Cruise Xpress.Embarkation took about a half hour (we got to the pier at about 1:30 p.m.), and that was with being able to use the Latitudes line. No complaints - and, our luggage was delivered to our cabin by late afternoon, so that was a plus.Balcony cabin was fine - again, a little shabby. The cover on the couch looked old, worn and a bit dirty. Tiny TV, but I was still able to enjoy watching William and Kate's wedding on the small screen. We had the bed separated into twin beds, which left about 7 inches between the end of one bed and the cabinet, so one had to be careful when maneuvering about the cabin. However, I found that there was ample space for luggage and one's belongings. Plenty of drawers and other spaces for clothing and other items. The bathroom was quite small, but big enough for what one needs a bathroom for. I flooded the shower stall only once on a 15 night cruise, and that was when I took a long shower to wash my very long hair. Always had plenty of hot water no matter what time I showered. If you are fussy about soap/shampoo, bring your own rather than use the "mystery" products in the dispensing containers in the bathroom. It seemed that the gap at the bottom of the cabin door was a bit bigger than other ships I have been on, which allowed for noise in the hallway to be heard in our cabin at times.Our cabin steward, Mark, kept our room very clean and tidy, and he always responded to our simple requests efficiently. Mark was always smiling and we were very happy to have him for our cabin steward. It seemed that the majority of the crew on this ship was from the Philippines (as Mark was), and they all seemed friendlier and more helpful than the crew on my last two NCL cruises.The entertainment left something to be desired, but I don't cruise in the hope that there will be fabulous entertainment every night, so I wasn't disappointed as I didn't have high hopes. I'd seen the juggler, Romano Frediani - billed as "one of the most popular shows in NCL history!" - on my previous cruise, the NCL Production Cast performers were better at dancing than singing, the faux Beatles were fun - but not vocally great, and the hypnotist TerranceB was dreary. Maybe other acts were better, but we didn't go to the show each night as we didn't enjoy them all that much. FourEver, the Il Divo knock-offs, were actually quite good. The lounge/bar entertainment wasn't stellar enough to make me want to sit down and order a drink. On the Gem cruise, there was a group called the Alambra Trio (?) whom I listened to at every opportunity, and I missed having an enjoyable lounge band on this cruise. Frankly, the crew talent show was the best entertainment on the Sun transatlantic cruise. The art auctions were entertaining in their own way. I was amazed that there were so many repeat buyers on board. Well, as a friend of mine has to constantly remind me, "there's no arguing taste," or lack thereof. If over-priced Thomas Kinkade and Peter Max items are your cup of tea, by all means, DO NOT miss the art auctions. I attended them simply because I was fascinated that so many people were buying what was offered, and doing so happily. Watching the auction staff operate is another form of high entertainment, and provides a fine example of P.T. Barnum's proclamation that there's a sucker born every minute.The most disappointing thing on this cruise was the lack of educational programs. This was a 15 night cruise, populated primarily by retirees, and the trivia contests were packed. We needed more mental stimulation! On the Gem transatlantic cruise there was a fantastic nautical lecturer who was the highlight of the cruise. The Sun cruise would have been much improved by adding some intellectual entertainment. If nothing else, couldn't NCL have dug up crew members from the ports we were visiting to teach us basic words/phrases in the native language? We were treated to Spanish lessons (though we went to no Spanish speaking countries) by J.J., who was a very good teacher and one of the more entertaining crew members - along with Rommel. They were both very funny and I enjoyed attending the activities they were hosting.The food on this cruise was much better than the food on my other NCL cruises. Yes, the Garden Cafe was crowded, but the crew was very efficient with the clearing of tables, etc. There was a fairly good selection of buffet items available, and most of it was quite tasty, except for the desserts, which were gelatinous and tasteless for the most part. I was very pleased to discover that in the morning the Moderno Churrascaria served healthy breakfast items. I don't eat eggs or meat, and the food available at Moderno - salad, yogurt, fruits, etc. - was just what I wanted to get my day started. The fellow from Romania who manned the Garden Cafe ice cream station in the evening was wonderful - always asking if we were enjoying the cruise, and scooping ice cream as though it was the best job on the ship. His enthusiasm for making sure the ice cream eaters were happy was remarkable, and we always looked forward to seeing him in the evening.We didn't eat in any of the specialty restaurants, as we didn't want to part with any more money after having paid $130 more each for our balcony cabin than balcony cabins were priced two weeks after we paid for our cruise. My request for an on-board credit for the difference was refused. I was disappointed that the two main dining rooms served the same food. However, the food was very good - significantly superior to other NCL cruises I've been on. There were interesting appetizers and a good variety of choices on each nights menu. Portions were rather small, but if you were still hungry, you have ordered another meal! Personally, I preferred the somewhat small portion size, as it is easy to gain weight on a cruise with food being available all of the time. The dining room desserts were not very good, so after trying them a few times, we stuck to having ice cream at the Garden Cafe at the end of our evening instead of having dessert in the dining room. My only complaint about the dining room food was the "international cheese platter" that was offered every evening. The blue cheese was edible, but the other selection (two portions of the same thing) was an awful tasteless mass of hard white cheese. The dining room staff was wonderful every time we ate in one of the main dining rooms, with the exception of one night when we dined relatively late and our server seemed anxious to get the evening over with. I hate feeling guilty for holding up the dining room staff on the rare occasions when I dine shortly before the dining room closes. Overall, the dining room servers and their assistants were excellent. We ate in the Sports Bar a few times. The food and service there was very good, though there was a chilly wind tunnel effect in the Sports Bar, as the servers had to go outside and bring the food in, so every time the door opened, we got hit with a cold gust of wind. In the late afternoon when the Garden Cafe was closed, there was an area with a small buffet with snack items on the pool deck. Enough items were offered to hold one together between lunch and dinner! Curiously, even though they make their own pizzas on board the Sun and have a pizza oven, the pizzas are NOT very good. As pizza is the world's most perfect food (when properly prepared), I wish NCL would lure a pizza chef from MSC, and then a cruise in the Sun would be close to perfect! Plus, beer or wine are the perfect companions for a great pizza, so NCL would make more money by selling appropriate beverages to with their pizza. Truly, the pizza ovens are Sun are being wasted, and it is a shame they can't make good pizzas.When disembarking, we chose to take our luggage with us instead of having it unloaded for us. When we disembarked in Copenhagen (we left the ship at 9:00 a.m.) it was the most efficient disembarkation I've ever experienced. The luggage for the other passengers was orderly and in well marked areas, and the lines waiting for cabs were not that long as there was a steady stream of cabs available. Since the disembarkation area was rather small, the ease of getting off the ship and into a cab was remarkable.All and all, the transatlantic cruise on the Sun was pleasant and relaxing. As I smoke two cigarettes in my cabin each morning with my coffee while I watch the news, I am grateful that NCL still allows smokers to do so. Would I take another NCL cruise? Absolutely - casual attire and a lack of formality is what I am looking for in a cruise vacation. Just a little more to occupy our brains on a transatlantic cruise with all the sea days, please! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Our longest previous cruise was a 13 night transatlantic only this time we went far better. Started in Miami and boarded the Navigator of the Seas(RCL) and went 14 days to the Canary Islands, Barcelona, Nice, Liverno and ending the first ... Read More
Our longest previous cruise was a 13 night transatlantic only this time we went far better. Started in Miami and boarded the Navigator of the Seas(RCL) and went 14 days to the Canary Islands, Barcelona, Nice, Liverno and ending the first leg in Rome. Outstanding service and the most conscientious Head waiter we ever had. Ship has a cafe promenade--great for a quick snack and meeting point before retiring for the evening. Port stops excellent although we did not see Liverno due to the torrential downpour at the time. We enjoyed the ship. Entertainment keeps picking up and we rated the shows above average. Since our son is a dancer we felt the dancing was satisfactory--to good. Choreography does not use all the talents of the dancers and singers put their heart into it and were good. Worth seeing. Second leg was a 12 night cruise and involved the ancient world visiting Pompeii, Athens, Rhodes, Ephesus,Egypt and Sicily before returning to Rome. Ephesus is a must see. Near the ruins of Ephesus we visited what is thought to be the last home of Mother Mary which was a most peaceful and relaxing place. Small, modest and spiritual. Visited St. John Basilica where tomb of John the Apostle rests and saw the site(nothing left in some cases) of 4 of the ancients wonders of the World. Awesome! Then there was Egypt. Pyramids breathtaking. Alexandria and Cairo were the dirtiest cities ever visited with the rich keeping their money and the many poor with no hope and nothing to do. Dead animals left, polluted Nile cruise had 300 people quarantined on their return to the ship once sick and identified. That was not fun for them but RCL did an outstanding job of protecting the other cruisers. Stay away from the Nile cruise as an option. Reported a dead horse in the Nile by those that took it.(I did not see it but they were definitely sick). Stay in public areas in Turkey and Egypt as they see tourists as wealthy--but it is like that everywhere but you are safe as police in Egypt are everywhere as tourists are their life support. Government is a disaster keeping all the money and not paying people to clean up. Even our tour guide admitted as much. Bit of a hassle in Turkey. Use reputable tour operators or RCL as you are safe with them. We booked Ramses tours in Turkey with excellent service except for one thing which turned everyone off.Stay in the main areas and use reputable tour operators or RCL as you are safe with them. We booked Ramses tours in Turkey with excellent service except for one thing which turned everyone off. The last stop is not scheduled but ends at a carpet factory where they show you beautiful silk rugs and don't want to let you go until you buy something. They offer you a drink hoping this convinces you to buy something. Fortunately you may walk to the peer from there and the guide lost more than half of the tip from many of us with this neat little trick we were not expecting. Great trip, amazing ports and a truly highlight vacation. We have travelled on this size ship and consider it a great size with many activities (full size basketball court which allows for soccer as well--many Europeans on board)to enjoy the transatlantic crossing). We will likely do another transatlantic in 2012. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We prefer HAL and were new to the Ryndam, chose this cruise because we wanted to be in England early May. I would not choose the spa room category again, thought it was a waste of money, a water feature took up a lot of space and splashed ... Read More
We prefer HAL and were new to the Ryndam, chose this cruise because we wanted to be in England early May. I would not choose the spa room category again, thought it was a waste of money, a water feature took up a lot of space and splashed our "stuff" on the desk area. We normally go for verandah but this ship goes from ocean view to suite category and a huge price difference. Our 21 day voyage began with a stop in the Bahamas and then off to Madeira we thought. To miss a bad storm we headed south of the Canary Islands and up the inside passage, well worth missing Funchal, we were a small ship,been in storms. Canary's were amazing, Lanzarotte, our second stop was volcanic and was like a moonscape, we will return. Perhaps same time next year. The ports of Cadiz, Spain, Lisbon, Portugal, St Malo and Cherbourge, France and Zeebrugge, Belgium were very special too. We took ships tour in Cadiz, to Jerez de la Fronterra, mainly because it was Eater Sunday and the city was closed-up. Lisbon we had toured previously so we chose to walk to the Fortress. Vigo is Vigo, we had toured there before, spent our time window shopping. St Malo is a walled city with lots of charm, tendered out here and again walked the walls. Seeped in history. Belgium is almost perfection, having toured Bruges, we chose a ship's tour to Ghent, included a canal tour, brilliant educated guides, perhaps best ever. Embarkation and Dover disembarkation ran very smoothly, Sunday morning, May 1 after the Royal Wedding weekend, we were in Heathrow before 10 a.m. for the flight home. Of course it's a very short run across the Channel from Belgium. This was our 4th transatlantic, last year on Norwegian Sun and on the inaugural Noordam voyage to Rome. In 1967 we were on the old Constitution to Gibralter in a hurricane, navy duty station transfer, it took a lot of courage to get back on a ship but it has been well worth the effort. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We agreed to join some friends on this cruise from Barbados back to Southampton as we hadn't tried a relocation cruise before with its many days at sea. We were slightly concerned by some of the comments about the ship looking tired ... Read More
We agreed to join some friends on this cruise from Barbados back to Southampton as we hadn't tried a relocation cruise before with its many days at sea. We were slightly concerned by some of the comments about the ship looking tired and in need of a refit but need not have been. It sounded from some of the views to be like a floating shed but honestly there were no threadbare carpets or second rate feel to it but was lovely throughout. Probably the most obvious area is the carpet in The Plaza restaurant area which was stained in many places and needed a deep clean though when it can be done would be difficult as this area is in use about 18 hours a day. Indeed, we thought that this was probably the best designed and run ship we have ever been on.The flight out using Thomson in Premium seating was very good (except they ran out of a choice of meals which is one of the features of Premium) and we arrived at Barbados totally relaxed having had the extra legroom, though the temperature was a bit of a shock having been scraping ice of the windscreen in the morning. Bags went straight to the cabin with no queuing for immigration only an amazingly efficient boarding system and we were onboard in no time and off to find a drink until our cases arrived.We only had an inside cabin but it had plenty of room for us, sparkling clean en-suite and a lovely steward, Grazie. Once I worked out that the corner shelves in the wardrobe folded up, there was plenty of hanging space and so many drawers in the beside cabinet and desk unit that we did not fill them all. The cabin was quiet as far as ship noise was concerned though the air conditioning unit had air flow noise and the thermostat needed to be put up as it was chilly.We would have rated the ship excellent but for the draughty and erratic air conditioning in the public parts of the ship. It tended to blow cold air down on you (one day the lady in front was wearing her NorthFace fleece in the theatre) and this could be in the restaurants or other venues, but another day it would be off and hot. It also seemed to me to be obtrusively noisy in Starlight or Footlights for lecturers and piano concerts so the AC is an aspect that needs attention. Remember that it can be cold and take a wrap.There seemed to be an amazing number of spaces on the ship to sit, not quite all with a bar attached. The library was small, no doubt to make space for the cyberspace area. Deck space was also large and split up into many smaller areas with lots of loungers. Despite some very hot days early on, I never saw all the areas full though there was competition around the central area. This was the area used for the sailaway party which seemed to me was something out of Butlins but I happily accept that it is not my thing and on the ship of its size easily avoided. This brings me to the entertainment. The Headliners, the ships song and dance company of 13 very fit boys and girls performed routines of a good standard and were enjoyable. However, the other cabaret acts were less good. Andre, the comedy magician, had some inappropriate material for the age range in the audience and you can always tell when the audience is not happy with it by the slightly nervous laughter. The age of material was largely ancient - I could not believe he used the gag of a message for Joe who is 111 - Oh no, he's ill. That must be circa 1956. He also used some Tommy Cooper routines eg the wooden duck choosing a card but he does not come near to Tommy Cooper but sounds like Jim Davidson mucking about with old tricks.It did not get better with the singer Rob Linacre. I sat spellbound as to how anyone could be so bad and be paid. It was like watching Adrian Chiles singing with his face screwed up with his eyes like slits with someone holding his privates to get the higher notes - indeed as he tastefully put it "To reach those notes my bum cheeks were so clenched you couldn't get a credit card between them". I couldn't take much of the female singer Jessica Lloyd either though part of that was the sheer volume that was coming at me. The classical pianist Simon Weale was competent and pleasant giving perhaps rather perfunctory performances some of which did not even manage 45mins. The guest lecturers were Professors, one specializing in Conspiracy theories and cover-ups who was good and popular and the other going into the history and structure of crime fiction who was interesting but a minority taste. I did not see Eddie the Eagle's after dinner talk. These are of course only my opinions and to others the acts were obviously popular.The weather stayed generally calm for the crossing and indeed the ship rode well up to the Force 7 we had, though there was more cloud and rain than we hoped. The sea days passed easily and the holiday did what we intended it to be as a relaxing break and back for spring. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Overall, the Costa Atlantic is a great ship that is well maintained and well designed. Their is plenty of live entertainment throughout the evening in multiple locations, lots of planned activities, and a lively crew that tries very hard ... Read More
Overall, the Costa Atlantic is a great ship that is well maintained and well designed. Their is plenty of live entertainment throughout the evening in multiple locations, lots of planned activities, and a lively crew that tries very hard to make your trip enjoyable and fun. The food options/quality aren't the best but aren't terrible either. The cabins and cabin stewards are great. The port of calls for the trip were the most I could find for a transatlantic cruise (but some ports had a very limited amount of time alloted). While the drinks were very expensive (7-11 Euros/drink) you were able to find a happy hour somewhere on the ship for two for one drinks from 11-noon and 5-10 PM which helped. For the transatlantic itinerary, you are forced to pay in Euros for everything on the ship, but the ship simply switches all dollar prices into euro prices (i.e. a $10 watch is now 10 Euros, which would be about $15 currently). They also had just informed the crew the first day of the cruise that their wages were going to be paid in dollars now instead of Euros. The crew was NOT very happy about this and it showed in some of the crew members. A $40,000 wage is not nearly as nice as a 40,000 Euro wage. As for the passengers... we choose the Costa line since it had been reviewed to have a younger passenger set. This may be true for most Costa cruises, but apparently not for a 20 day cruise. There were 2 teenagers on the ship, ~18 children, and I would guess 30 people under 50. Of those 30, I would venture only 10 spoke English. For a 2,000 person cruise, that is not a large population of passengers. The crew did notice this and held separate "under 40" nights in the disco to help us find each other. Costa's "Stolen Item Protocol" sucks! I brought my iPhone with me on the cruise just in case I may need it, but I turned it off and left it in the cabin the entire time. On the 5th day of the cruise, I looked for it in the cabin and couldn't find it. I told my cabin steward (who was wonderful and I 100% believe that he would never take it) and he helped look for it. He told me to inform security and they would look in the cabin as well. Thinking this a good idea since the iPhone could have fallen into a crack and the security may know of little hiding places it may have fallen, I filled out a security report. I knew they would search the whole cabin so I placed some personal items in a bag beforehand. The security officer shows up with 3 other personal (I'm not sure what their job was other than stand there and watch). The security officer looks through every single article of clothing and underwear. He didn't look in any other special nooks or crannies it may have fallen, but then demanded to look through my personal items I had placed in a bag. I told him the phone was not in there and the items were personal. He then accused me of hiding something and demanded to look through the bag. This is when I realized the "search" was an "interrogation." He questioned my story several times, and demanded to see the phone's charger and ear piece. They told me only the room steward had access to my room. I KNOW this not to be true. I had walked into the room when someone other than my room steward was walking out and had replaced our fresh fruit. After lying to me, searching through all my personal items and feeling completely interrogated, they didn't contact me again for a week. I had to contact the front desk to find out the situation of the incident. The front desk (which I had always found to be rude and unhelpful) made the situation even worse. I regret ever reporting the incident, and this situation really tarnished how I view the cruise line now. Because of this, I will most likely never cruise Costa again. There are far too many other options that don't treat their customers like criminals. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
2011 Transatlantic Cruise4/2/2011We had planned to wake up at 320am but like that kid in the Disney commercial "we were too excited to sleep." Around 1230 we called it quits and got up. I folded the laundry and we got ready for ... Read More
2011 Transatlantic Cruise4/2/2011We had planned to wake up at 320am but like that kid in the Disney commercial "we were too excited to sleep." Around 1230 we called it quits and got up. I folded the laundry and we got ready for the day. We had some time to kill so we thought we'd do breakfast at Waffle House. Apparently 3 in the morning isn't "getting up early for breakfast"-time but rather "dragging your butt home to bed after eating a waffle-beer sponge"-time...We ended up going to Denny's [shudder]. I have never seen so many drunk guys and pant-less women in all my life... We ate in a hurry and got the heck outta Dodge. Next we visited The Parking Spot and took their shuttle to our gate.We were hoping for an upgrade on American but no luck. I squeezed into a window seat and Robin got crunched in the middle. We landed without a hitch in MIA (so hitchless in fact that I didn't even realize the plane had landed...). All of our bags made it and we hopped on the bus for the Port of Miami. Boarding took awhile but we were in the Suite Priority line so we actually made it onboard faster than lots of folks who had been in front of us at the airport. We couldn't go to our cabins yet so we made our way to the Windjammer and ate in Chops. Most of the buffet line was pretty standard first day fare but we did find one station that had honey stung chicken in whole form rather than the normal bite-sized cubes. Liberty also has Strawberry Kiwi sugar free "juice". It tasted like Kool Aid but I drank it anyway.Muster Drill was at 4 o'clock. We had gone to the cabin after lunch and taken a nap so I was grateful for the cruise director's announcement of muster. No life jackets required, just seapass cards that they scan. We had to walk down 6 flights since you can't use the elevator but it was over in about 20 minutes. All of our luggage came while we were napping earlier so we unpacked and met Sonia, our cabin steward. We told her the plants needed watering and she almost believed me (they were plastic). She said the last guest broke the soap holder in the bathroom but that they were planning on buying one when we got into port. We unpacked our luggage and changed into clean clothes and headed out for free booze. Later in the evening after dinner she had replaced the empty hole with some kind of saucer that sort of fit the soap dish-hey it was better than the box I used originally..Next came the Concierge Lounge, followed by the Diamond Lounge, followed by the Diamond Event. The bar didn't have any Triple Sec nor Sprite Zero for Robin's Lynchburg Lemonade but Mario, the Concierge, said he'd get some for tomorrow. The CL was pretty crowded even though it was only for D+, Elite, and Suiters. Because there are so many Diamonds on this cruise the DL nightly event was moved to the Sphinx Lounge for the free booze. We tried to get served but couldn't since there were so many people there.Dinner was at 6PM-early seating. We were at an 8-top next to the Captain's table. Four of the folks were no shows but we met Reah and her mom Nancy. We had a lovely conversation with them and it turns out that Reah works at the Canadian Consulate in Dallas. Lyndon was our waiter, assisted by Victor. My wife Robin had the Vidalia Onion Tart which is now more like a small quiche instead of a tartlet, and the alternate boring grilled chicken for her entrEe. I did a simple Caesar salad and and I had the pork medallions for dinner. Both our dishes were good but certainly nothing to write home about and we left before dessert, leaving our tablemates to fend for themselves. We went back to the DL and managed to get a way-too-strong LL. We sat with a lovely German couple who only wanted a couple of glasses of wine and had the worst luck getting served.I'm on vacation so I didn't pay much attention to the days of the week but apparently we're in Nassau tomorrow so that means ATLANTIS! We had planned to go to the welcome aboard show to meet the CD Gordon but putzed out and just got our stuff ready for Sunday since we had a full morning planned.04/03/2011Nassau, The Bahamas.We went to bed sometime around 9-930 range, having been up since 2AM the day before. We slept with the balcony open (and before all you haters start flaming me, we adjusted the thermostat so we weren't air conditioning the entire Atlantic.Robin had said that she wanted to get up at 6AM everyday to go walking. I managed to convince her to hold off till 7... and then I woke up at 330 anyway. I puttered around the cabin for a bit then went out on the balcony to blog a bit more around 5 o'clock while watching the stars, listening to the waves, and feeling the ocean breezes blow away all the cares in the world.We went walking up on deck to see the sunrise. I did a bit over a mile in 31 minutes. Jessie Owens ran that far in 4 minutes-yikes!We had breakfast in the Windjammer (ate in Chops). They do the egg station by # so it was a bit weird. I opted for scrambled eggs with bacon, toast, and spuds (with HP of course).At 10 we headed out for The Blue Lagoon which for some reason I thought was supposed to be Atlantis. We walked along the pier and boarded a two-level party boat which took us to the Blue Lagoon. After a brief instructional chat we donned life vests and headed to a platform. We saw our dolphins swimming under our feet. The trainers came by and introduced themselves to us and had us hop in the water. We spun around waving our hands above the water while the dolphins did the same. The trainers joked that they just did that to amuse themselves. The rest of the interaction proceeded in much the same way with the dolphins doing fun things and the trainers cracking corny jokes. I was a lovely afternoon. The grand finale of the tour was the dolphin push. You are face down in the water, lock your knees, and the dolphins come up from behind and propel you through the water. Robin had a great run and I did just fine too. Unbeknowst to me, one of the dolphins scraped Robin with his dorsal fin at the end of her run and cut her pretty badly. She was bleeding after the swim and we went for medical help. They taped her up and took a report and then we went off to struggle with the photo people. Considering they do this every day it seems pretty odd to me that in the three times we've been to this place something screwy has happened with pictures each time. We got everything straightened out and headed back for the boat with pics and DVD in hand. The boat took us back to the ship where we cleaned up, rebandaged Robin's cut, and headed to the lounge.We managed to find a seat and tried to get a drink but Mario failed to come through-no triple sec tonight. We schlepped back to the Diamond Event and tried to get a drink from the bartender. He said "no" too so we grabbed an officer and explained the situation to her. One of her Juniors overheard our discussion and took care of it for us and got Robin a drink. We sat with a lovely Belgian lady and her husband who now live in Spain.Dinner was a so-so menu. The other folks were still no shows. Robin didn't like anything on the menu so she got pasta with butter and garlic. I had beef stroganoff which doesn't actually taste anything like it was supposed to. We had sugar free ice cream for dessert and came up to the cabin to get gambling money. Robin had found a $10 when we were in line to come aboard. She parlayed that into $25 and then played on another machine where she bumped it up to over $50. I did badly at roulette and quit when I was $5 ahead.We skipped the singer and played shuffle board instead. It was a bit windy and a guy was smoking a cigar nearby so we took off once Robin beat me by 8 points.The Meet & Mingle was supposed to be tomorrow but we haven't received any tags yet. Sonia is looking into it but can't get confirmation from anyone. 04/04/2011Day at SeaWe set a wake-up call for 7AM but were both awake by 6, having gone to bed relatively early. We got our walkin' clothes on and headed up for deck 12. It was pretty windy as we walked Eastward but when we rounded the bow and headed back the other direction, the wind really made itself known. I knew this would never do so I cut through a short cut behind the movie screen to catch up with Robin. We headed down to the gym one deck below. I haven't been in a modern gym for years so it took me a few minutes to figure everything out. We walked on a treadmill, ironically watching "Flushed" which is a story about a mouse stuck in a cage with a treadmill who desires to get out into the real world and learn what it's all about. I walked a mile and did a few reps with a weight machine. There were a lot of old people in the gym. Old people who looked like they could snap me like a twig without giving it a second thought...We decided to do breakfast in the main dinning room this morning which happened to also be the Dreamworks Breakfast. We arrived to a big line of people since the dining room opened late. We managed to get seated at a 2-top but they no longer have the private area for diamond members. There seems to be a lot of trainees aboard this go-'round and we certainly got stuck with one. It took us over a hour to get served! One of the station heads came over and apologized for the wait and then said it was because we did a special order.We headed down to sickbay to see Dr. McCoy for Robin's dolphin injury. Then raced up to deck 8 for the internet cafe, then back to the room for wireless which didn't work due to the lack of IP Addresses. Robin did discover that the M&M was at 10AM in The Sphinx and that our names weren't on the list. They let us in but they had cancelled the gift exchange. We got the little writey kits but didn't win any of the door prizes. Afterwards we checked email on the RC machines and that worked fine, although we spent $9 for just a couple of minutes. I stopped off for coffee in the CL and ran into Maria from Mississauga. She and her husband live in Malaga and have another home in Nassau. She was trying to get logged on her IBM Thinkpad and wasn't having any luck either. She chastised me for not letting Robin buy shoes in Barcelonia.We had planned on doing trivia at 2PM but took a nap instead. Room service came by in the afternoon with cheese and crackers - a good thing too since we had really fallen asleep. We got dressed for dinner since it was the first formal night. Robin looked gorgeous in her purple gown and I was in my suit with one of the new ties Robin purchased for the trip. We went to the CL expecting the worst but Mario finally was able to get some triple sec for Robin's LL so she was happy. It was pretty crowded but we chatted with a couple from Houston and another couple from Scotland.We went down to dinner-the other folks didn't show again. Nancy had made a little bag at arts and crafts and made one for Robin. She's always needing little pouches for her watch or phone or glasses so it'll come in handy. Victor took our pictures as did the ships photographer. Robin had chicken again and I had the duck. I always get the duck-not because I like duck but rather the potato croquettes that are served with it. I got a double order and did ok right till the last bite when I dropped marinated red cabbage on my white shirt-that stuff doesn't come out. We headed back up to the CL and sat with a morose German guy who didn't want anyone to know he was from Germany and another Scottish couple who were at late seating. He has a friend who works for IBM Scotland so I said I'd look him up when I got home.We skipped "In the Air" and changed into bathing suits instead. The cantilevered whirpool is just above our cabin so we went up there and were surprised that the solarium and whirlpool were deserted. I floated around on my back and Robin squirted me with water. It was a heavenly way to end the evening.04/05/2011Day at SeaRobin booked an acupuncture treatment at the spa (eww) but I managed to convince her to opt for a hot stone massage instead. We got up at 6 to go walking. We headed straight for the gym rather than the deck. I did my mile at a slightly faster pace and then did some weights. Robin did about a mile more than me. We got ready for the day.Robin headed for the spa and I to the dining room. Not wanting to repeat yesterday's hour-long wait for breakfast I opted for the buffet. I had intended to sit by myself but they put me at a big table. Two other couples were there from Romania and they thought it was funny when I told them my grandmother was from Bucharest that we all ended up sitting together. One of the older ladies had been a ping pong champ in her younger years but somehow had never received the entry to the finals. She suspected her first husband of tossing her letter of entry thereby sabotaging her chances. Who says breakfast isn't filled with intrigue and international mystery? She was going to give the sports deck a try-I told her they only had one ping pong ball up there and that if she shot it over the side she'd have to dive in after it.Gordon's coffee chat was next. I got there a bit early and read up on the NEXT CRUISE options while I waited for Robin to finish her massage. Apparently she got a bit more of a sales pitch than a massage and wasn't too happy, especially since it was almost $200. Gordon came by and told some funny stories about the various ports he's been to over the years. Two seasoned cruisers with Ship Shape gear dominated a lot of the conversation but they were nice folks so it wasn't too bad. We took off a few minutes early to make it to the next venue on time. I walked us in the wrong direction but eventually found the napkin folding class in the Schooner Bar. I was messing around while they were getting ready so the instructor made me get up and teach everyone how to fold "the candle." Nine cruises and it is the only fold I can remember... We made "the rose," "the pyramid," and some weird trapezoid thing that ended up looking a bit like a crown. Coffee in the DL was next, followed by lunch in Chops.Robin checked in with our pet sitter and the cats are all doing fine. I decided to forgo the baggo tournament and do the ice show at 3 instead. Because we're in a suite we didn't have to stand in line for tickets. On Voyager they handed out tickets in the CL but apparently on Liberty CL folks can just show up to any of the four ice shows and get in the reserved seats. Robin is on a bit of a winning streak so she went down to gamble while I stayed in the cabin to blog about staying in the cabin...I headed down to pick up my wife who was busy separating the casino from their money. We went down to the ice show early to get a good seat and there was already a huge line. We waited till they opened the doors and we headed for our reserved seats. They turned out to be way on the sides so we opted for front row center. The show was called "Encore" and had a Broadway Revue type style to it. All the skaters were great, particularly the men.We got out of the show and waited for the crowds to thin a bit before heading up to get changed for dinner. The shirt I was originally planning on wearing was missing a button so I sewed on a new one but we only had the emergency sewing kit so the button didn't really match. I wore the white shirt I spilled indelible red cabbage on and the stain was miraculously gone. Some folks who were in the same boat as us at dinner joined us (their table-mates were no shows too). Robin opted for plain pasta with butter and garlic while I chose ravioli in a seafood sauce. Robin wasn't feeling too well after her third LL of the evening so she went back to the cabin. I went down to the theater to save us seats in the hopes she'd wake up and decide to join me. Gordon opened the show with a rousing rendition of "Tonight" from West Side Story. Elliot Finkel was the evening's entertainer. He is a passionate piano player from Brooklyn, NY. It turns out his dad is Fivish Finkel who was on Boston Public with Jeri Ryan. Mr. Finkel was a bit older than his picture and no stranger to cruise ship entertaining but he could certainly tickle the ivories and got a standing ovation at the end of his show.I came back to the cabin after the show and Robin was sound asleep. I got changed for bed and snuck out onto the balcony to finish the day's blog. All-in-all a fun day. Robin was a bit down all day-I think from the lackluster massage therapist who seemed to cast a pall over her whole mood. Well tomorrow is another day!04/06/2011Day at SeaI decided after the rough day Robin had yesterday that I wouldn't schedule a wake up call and just see where the morning took us. Well apparently my dear wife was well rested because she got up at 4AM. She went to Cafe Promenade and oddly enough there was no one there at 4 o'clock in the freaking morning! She was nice enough to bring me coffee but I wasn't nice enough to actually wake up for it. She went up to the gym around 6:15 and I languished for another half hour or so. I dragged my butt outta bed, had a banana for the potassium, and went up to join my wife who had already done a mile by the time I got there. Chicken run was playing on my treadmill and I watched it while wearing my iPod.We went up to the DL just to see what was there and then down to breakfast in the main dining room. Shrek and Puss were already there entertaining the kiddoes. I decided on the buffet and made some well-done English muffins for us. Robin had ordered a simple cheese omelet and it took about ½ an hour for it to arrive. In my opinion, the breakfast service in the dining room has really gone downhill. It might make more sense for us to just order room service.I tried and tried and tried to log on to the internet. No luck. I turned the computer around and Robin announced, "I'm on!" She has the magic touch I guess. That's why I love her so! We were supposed to go to the lecture on Spain but didn't really make it. Napkin folding was an hour later so we decided to go to the Advanced Class. We showed up a few minutes early and sat at our customary place at the piano. The snooty cruise staff guy running the whole thing showed up, chastised Andrea for only having a couple of books then wagged his finger at me and told me to move. WHATEVAH! He didn't teach well and the napkin folds were a bit trickier. We decided to leave early and grabbed a couple of books on our way to Wii. Apparently on Wii is really popular. On Voyager they had about 2 or 3 people show up. There must have been 25 or 30 people in On the Air which is where they had Wii Bowling set up. We headed back up to the cabin and were going to nap before Bingo. 2:30 came and went but Bingo didn't really start till 3. By 3:25 we didn't have a prayer so we snoozed some more. I finally woke up around 4:50, just in time to make it to the CL for drinks. We didn't snack tonight so we had room for dinner. We sat with a couple from Orlando who cruise all the time but I don't think they've ever had a day of fun in their lives. We left early just to get away from them. I'm a generally grumpy person but this guy was making me look like a saint. "Oh you'll get murdered by gypsies in Pisa, and pickpocketed in Spain, and all the stores in the Caribbean are garbage." Dude-chill out, you're on vacation!Dinner was another "meh" night. Robin had Caesar salad and then chicken from the alternate menu again. I had a yummy creamy chicken soup and then lamp chops with ratatoullie. We headed for the casino and the non smoking table was open. I always seem to have better luck with Romanian dealers. She was fun and engaging and I won $50, including my match play certificate and one of the $20 bets I made. So far I'm only down $30 on roulette so tonight bolstered my spirits. Robin, of course, won her roulette match play and then won keychain on the free pull (I tried to be the keychain on 35 black but the dealer wouldn't let me-she didn't have enough keychains if we won...). And if all that wasn't enough, she won another $15 on slots. She's ahead around $30 or $40 dollars so far.We went to the theater early to get a good seat. On the way I ran into Elliot Finkel from the night before. I told him Jeri had sent me the pic of her with his dad and that I did her website for her while she was on Star Trek. He apparently knew her well and we chatted about Jeri and Elliot's dad and then about his show the night before. I gotta say, he was a very charming guy and I wish him all the success in the world. Bob Arno was the entertainment for the evening. He is a professional legal pickpocket. He just went through the audience and stole about 10 watches from the audience. He did a few more fun stunts then showed a film about real pickpockets and how to spot them. He does a lot of work with the Las Vegas police department and just filmed a show for National Geographic. He was very funny and engaging and frankly the hour was up before I realized it.We went browsing in the jewelry shops and stopped in Sorrento's but nothing looked great so we just went to the CL for coffee then to the cabin to plan for tomorrow. Robin decided she was going to give us a day off from walking (yeah!) and that we'd do room service. Normally they don't bring the suite breakfast until after 8AM and we asked for it at 7:30 so weren't not sure if we're going to get it on time or not. I said we needed to get up early and be ready but she wants t be decadent and be in jammies and the comfy robe they gave us and eat on the balcony.We put our order out on our door and watched my favorite episode of Castle on DVD. It's the one where he shows up in the beginning in his Mal Reynolds costume from Firefly. "Dad, didn't you where that like five years ago?" his daughter says. "It's time to move on..." Classic!04/07/2011Hey we're still at sea...Room Service called at 7:30. Guess what? We were still sound asleep, having stayed up well-past midnight the night before. We tossed some water on our faces and made ourselves presentable. The RS guy showed up about 5 minutes later and set out our tray. Robin's omelet was huge and my eggs were still hot. Very yummy.Today we're taking things easy. Hot Tubbing is in our plans I think...10AM was the T-Shirt sale but there wasn't anything too exciting so we didn't get any of them. There was a $70 hoodie Robin liked at 50% off but they didn't have her size. Having been treated badly at Napkin 301 we opted to skip the Advanced Class and played Shuffleboard instead. Robin beat me of course. We also went to the helipad and I did my best Leo DiCaprio "King of the World" pose at the apex of the bow.We had a late lunch in the WJ, missed Wii Bowling, the Black Light Show, and Shrek pics. Still, we had a lovely, restful day. We downloaded the flip videos as well as all of Robin's pics so far, and I did screen caps from the dolphin video.We changed for dinner and got to the CL early to get a seat. We met a couple of gals who were staying in the Presidental Family Suite-it sleeps 14 but there were only 4 of them-I asked if they'd adopt us for the week... They had only gotten up at 1PM that day "Did we miss breakfast," one of the ladies asked... I wish my first cruise could have been a transatlantic in the PFS. We went to dinner and I had a lovely breaded turkey dish with extra potato croquettes. I was so stuffed that I had no room for dessert. We went to the casino and I was up $20 and then lost that in the slots. I had broken even so I tried my hand at roulette again and lost $50. Robin didn't do well either. Not our night for gambling... We got into our suits and went into the hot tub overlooking our cabin.The disco dance party was going on so we couldn't go for snacks so we just opted for coffee from the CL which was pitch black except for the light coming in the frosted windows from outside and the glow of the coffee machine.O4/08/20117 days at sea makes one week...Totally planned to get up early and go walking... Yeah, that's the story, that's what I'm telling the cops... Okay so there are no cops in this story, just Sonia trying to get our room clean and us not getting up till 9. Robin went to shower and didn't feel like going up for breakfast so I grabbed a quick bacon and egg breakfast and went down to the CL for an English muffin and coffee for Robin. When I got back to the cabin she was in her robe on the balcony blogging. I also brought some fruit back and she scowled at me but you need your vitamins right?We missed the Malaga lecture (Are you sensing a pattern here? We really did intend to do all this wonderful stuff but sometimes you just have to take some time off for yourself and relax). We're hoping to get to the 11:15 towel folding demonstration which is being held in the ice rink and hosted by the Cruise Director-are these magic towels I wonder? We watched the end of the ballroom dancing class-they were doing the Tango to "Goldfinger." Gordon showed up with eight or so room attendants with big bags of towels. They folded elephants and dogs and monkeys. One lady even showed Gordon how to make road kill (just bunch it up and throw it on the floor).We tried to do a coupon for the internet but the guest services person kept telling us different things and several computers were down. We gave up and went to lunch. After eating turkey and salad we headed around the ship with cameras in tow. We took tons of silly pics and video'd the flowrider show. We tried the internet again but gave up.Dinner was really yummy for a change. I didn't actually get the lamb shank because they were serving scallop risotto. I'm not really a creamy rice kind of guy but they do it right on RC. I had 3 orders and skipped dessert. We had a long day so we retired to the cabin early. Room Service came by with a chocolate tray for us on the house. Robin woke up around midnight and blogged for a couple of hours then it was my turn to be awake. I tried quietly tidying up since the cabin crawl is in a few hours. 04/09/2011Past the Halfway MarkAfter a weird night of wakefulness and dogged tiredness we got up with the wake up call at 6:15. I straightened up some more of my junk, showered and got ready for the morning. We vacated early to let Sonia clean the room. She found a soap dish and swapped out the cream saucer we had been using.We went up to the WJ for breakfast. The guy who did my eggs didn't have a clue how to cook eggs and they were pretty bad. Robin didn't have much luck with him either. The Chops staff wasn't in yet so I had to get my own coffee (the horror!). Apparently the side I went up was closed and the section manager chased me down-she was trying to be polite but just came across snarky. We ate alone and a waiter finally showed up. He was nice and chatted with us for a bit. We went up to the computer room since neither one of us could get the cabin internet to work. Apparently we had a bunch of minutes left (even though it said $1.50 credit remaining yesterday). We then went down to the library to read Goodnight Moon in Spanish-there's no way to make "mush" appealing in any language. We grabbed another coffee in the CL and headed back to the cabin. Mario and the room service guy showed up at 9:45 with some cookies, a cheese tray, and some canapEs. The Crawlers showed up shortly after 10 and seemed to really like our room. This year they split the crawl into two groups so everything wasn't so crowded. The second group showed up a few minutes later and everyone seemed to really like the room. Some folks asked if we could rent out the bathroom for $5 a bath...We watched Toy Story 3 on TV and ate some of the leftover cookies and grapes. We headed down to Guest Relations to hand in our departure slips so we could get to the airport in time when we finally dock in Barcelona. Robin perused the Promenade for a gift for Brittany for watching the cats while we're gone. They were having a $20 sale but nothing caught her eye (especially since they were all marked $99.99). I had some pizza and played roulette a bit and then we came back to the cabin to put away my losing's from the casino. We didn't have a time change today and the weather was lovely so I blogged on the balcony for a bit. We had decided not to go to the CL for pre-dinner drinks so that gave us plenty of time to relax and get dressed at a leisurely pace, so leisurely in fact that we were ready 40 minutes before dinner. We popped into the lounge and had a quick R&C for me and a Sprite Zero for Robin. Our tablemates were holding their own with the downer couple we'd been stuck with a few days earlier. They looked like they were doing very well but at dinner they revealed they had had as bad a time as we did. Dinner was lobster tail and shrimp and Lyndon brought me two so I was very happy.I won back some of my money at the casino later on and then we headed down to the ice rink to watch The Quest. This adult scavenger hunt is always well attended so we got there early with coffee in hand. The Presidential Suite gals were there, all decked out in their blingy attire. One lady had a beautiful red dress on that had a golden snake holding her dress together in the back. During the later portion of the game they ask for a guy with two bras and it can't be from a bag. They lady in my row who was in a form fitting dress already started to take hers off but our team captain already found a pair. It's crazy the things some folks will do for a keychain... We headed back upstairs and marked up the compass and set out our room service request for breakfast. and it can't be from a bag. They lady in my row who was in a form fitting dress already started to take hers off but our team captain already found a pair. It's crazy the things some folks will do for a keychain... We headed back upstairs and marked up the compass and set out our room service request for breakfast.04/10/2011Still at SeaI rolled over in bed and saw a blinky light on the phone which meant that I had slept the whole night for a change. Mario leaves his "beautiful people" message between 7 and 7:25-sure enough it was 7:24 when I looked at my watch. Room Service would not be far behind. In the past when we'd ordered room service it'd take 45 minutes or so and always be late. We discovered however that suite guests tend to get served at the exact time they request. Even though our breakfast had a range of 7:30-8AM, the phone rang at 7:30 to say it was on the way. I pulled on my trunks (they were dry and handy) and Robin dashed into the bathroom. The guy showed up about 2 seconds later as I was pulling up my trunks (no one wants to see the moon in the daytime) and I let him in. We ate a leisurely breakfast and then Mario called again to let us know the Bridge Tour would be tomorrow in Tenerife. I went out onto the balcony to blog and there were some low-hanging clouds that looked as if I could reach over the balcony and touch them. At sea, everything looks different. Even though these were run of the mill nimbus clouds you could see over and around them with sunlight above since the ocean is so vast and you can see for miles.We got ready for the day and browsed the shops and got a nice little necklace for Brittany. We went to the Sodoku Challenge and some guy did it in 8 minutes - he won a hat. Robin finished and got them all right. I did about two rows and threw in the towel. Robin played slots for a bit before lunch then it was off to Michelangelo for our Welcome Back lunch. We had potato soup in a teeny tiny little cup and some beef tenderloin. A couple of officers sat with us because we were all by ourselves. This was their first transatlantic cruise and they were looking forward to spending a couple of hours ashore after so many sea days. I went to the casino after lunch since the tables hadn't been open earlier in the day. I won $35 and quit while I was ahead. I am only down $52 now and hope to bring that total up by day 14.We opted out of the olive oil lecture and the guest talent show but did go up to the deck to see dodge ball. Folks were getting out pretty quickly so the games only lasted 2 or 3 minutes. Robin had left her RC Hoodie up on deck 14 so we went back (on deck 13) and had a guy toss it over the rail. He was worried it would blow away since it was pretty windy. Turns out he was right-it went blowing away and even though I was only a foot away from him I couldn't catch the shirt. Robin however is much better at such things and caught her shirt. We went down to the Arts & Crafts and made paper mini wallets and completely useless flower thingies that were a prelude to Tuesday's class. We decided to skip the ice show, trivia, Mamma Mia (outside), and fact or crap and opted for relaxing for an hour till booze-thirty. Mario needs waivers for us to tour the galley so we filled those out and brought them to the CL.Dinner was lovely although all four of us were plowed from drinks in the CL. I had veal oso buco which fell off the bone. Tomorrow we're doing a bridge tour at 6 so we won't be at dinner. Robin decided to skip the magician but I really wanted to go see him so I went. His tagline was the "wit & wizardry" but he wasn't very funny nor were his tricks very good. He did some card tricks and linking rings and cut & restored newspaper. I was pretty bored and decided not to stay for Love & Marriage. Robin was up when I returned so we watched Castle.04/11/2011Tenerife, Canary Islands.Robin woke up early and was creeping about trying to be quiet so naturally the noise woke me up. I joined her on the balcony and watched the Canary Islands come into view. It was still dark out but the city was blinking like a Christmas tree from the harbor all the way up into the mountains. Tenerife is a compact city with everything radiating out from the port. We ate early and headed down to Studio B which was a departure point for Loro Parque. The place was packed since it was also the departure point for over 25 other tours as well. Things went pretty swiftly with people coming and going all through the morning. We were bus 16 but there were actually only two morning tours to the park so when we got there the place never felt very crowded, even with the local school field trips.A German businessman started Loro Parque as a parrot refuge in the 90's. There are over 4,000 species of parrots there. Over the years, the park has expanded to include tigers, gorillas, penguins, lemurs, as well as dolphins, orcas, and sea lions. Our tour guide Andy told us we had two options for visiting the park. We could follow him and he'd take us to three shows-the dolphins, the "sea 'awks," and then finally the sea lions or we could just wander around on our own and meet up with the bus in the afternoon. We decided to be safe and stick with him. We made good time passing by many parrots cages so he was able to get us into an extra show-the parrot show. We had thought it kind of strange on the bus that we were going to "Parrot Park" and we weren't going to see any parrots so we were glad he was able to fit the extra show in. The doors were closed and music started playing. A tiny hatch opened in the wall and a white parrot flew out and soared over our heads. Two green parrots came out next and flew all around the room. Eventually there were a half a dozen birds swooping and diving in formation, just inches from our heads, the breeze from their wing beats rustling our hair. The birds did some cute tricks like driving a car, doing math, and getting drunk on beer they bought from a vending machine. The finale had a bunch of smaller birds come out, flying with their larger cousins while Nessun Dorma played in the background. We shuffled out and walked over to the dolphinarium. On the way, we passed Tiger Island. A magician donated a rare white tiger and its mate when they got too old to be in his show any longer. The island was beautiful and well maintained but it really was too small for such a large animal. The male was pacing a great deal and his mate seemed to follow him to calm him down. We entered the dolphin arena and it was already half full. We grabbed some seats on the side and the place quickly filled up. There were about 10 Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins in the act. They came out and swam around the huge tank. The trainers entered and the show got underway. They flipped and waved and danced, much as we had seen in Nassau up close and personal. The trainer dove in and surfed on one of the dolphins. They did foot pushes vertically out of the water, while another jumped over him. We were really impressed with how well attuned the dolphins were to their trainers. At one point they put a little kid into a boat and one of the dolphins towed him around the tank, while a half dozen did spectacular leaps behind him-the kid had no clue what was happening but the audience loved it. The dolphins did a few more tricks then the show was over and we shuffled out. The dolphins were allowed to swim around as we exited and they seemed curious about all the humans as we shuffled past them.The "sea 'awk" show was next. We had no clue what Andy was talking about. It turns out that he was saying Sea Orcs-meaning Orcas or Killer Whales in English. The upper seats were packed so we sat off to the side near the front. We soon found out why with so many people there we were able to get such good seats. We were in the "splash zone!" This wasn't just a "teeny tiny drop might hit you" area but rather "dude yer gonna get soaked!" Robin bought a 3 € poncho-she says it was the best 3€ she ever spent in her life. The show starts with a large video screen doing standard safety rules but then the guy says in Spanish with English subtitles, "We are using video to record this. If you are here with someone you shouldn't be then please leave" It was all done in fun but I thought that was a weird joke at the beginning of a show. They filmed the audience and put up funny word balloons on the screen. They zoomed in on this old guy and said "I'm lost." Throughout the presentation they kept going back to this same guy and picking on him-it got to be pretty funny after awhile. They did a kiss cam and Robin and I saw ourselves down in the corner at one point. The Ocras finally came out and glided through the water. They did leaps and jumps and got fed lots of fish. The trainers did a great job of playing to the middle and the sides of the huge area. The whales did a fluke splash about ten feet from us and we got drenched. Robin was laughing as I spit cold salty sea water out of my mouth and slicked back my hair. The audience roared with laughter as our whole section got splashed over and over.After some more leaps and inspirational videos of the first captive birth at the park it was time for us to drip out of the arena. Robin and I both tried to dry off a bit using the bathroom hand dryers but we weren't very successful. We decided to venture out on our own for a bit, rather than go to the sea lion show. We went to the penguin habitat, which had a slide-way so you could just stand in place and you were conveyed all along the exhibit. What a great way to alleviate congestion and keep the crowds moving along. We got to see them above and below the water. At the exit there was a huge cylinder of fish-it looked over crowded to me-and all I could think was that these guys were probably lunch for the Orcas and dolphins. The gift shop had these tiny penguin-shaped cutouts in the Plexiglas wall that kids could slide down. I wanted to go but Robin's wisdom prevailed so as not to get my butt stuck in a penguin. We went to the aquarium next. The tanks were filled with rays, and sharks, and sea turtles. They had a domed walkway with sharks swimming overhead. It was a really fascinating way to look at these majestic creatures of the deep. We were feeling a bit peckish, not realizing how appropriate that word was. As we made our way to the food area there were these two huge heron-looking birds just standing by the side of the stairs, up on an elevated grassy area. They let us get very close so I put out a hand to pet one. They didn't seem to mind so I turned around so Robin could get a picture of me with the birds. He started to tug at my hair and then pecked my head HARD! We left the birds to their own devices and found a really neat little pizza place. They made Spanish style pizza-all from scratch. For 15€ we got two pizzas and a Pepsi Light - the US could really learn a thing or two about park concessions from these guys - the food was great and the atmosphere was relaxed. We had really good timing too. The sea lion show that we skipped was right next door and 1,000 people swarmed the little pizzeria when the show let out. We wandered around a bit more and headed for the front. Our parrot pic was there and it was only 6€ so we went for it and got the thing. We went back to where the picture was taken and played with the birds a bit. Robin took some sneaky pics until the girls told her not to take any. We went out and found a bench to sit on to wait for the bus. We drove back to the ship-a little girl would not shut up! She had been yacky on the way to the park but even worse on the way home. I really wanted to yell at her but just went to my "happy place" and made the best of it. We were scheduled for a Bridge Tour right at dinner time. We went up with our group. It was a bit odd since the bridge was roped off and we could only view from a distance. It was pretty fascinating watching them take the ship out-they made it seem so simple. The Captain came over and chatted with us a bit. He said the hardest thing about his job was holding the ship's court and having to kick crew members off the ship. He's been around awhile and has seen everything from man overboard to Force 4 hurricanes. We got to take our picture with him and then left for dinner since we were 40 minutes late by that point. Lynford and Victor took care of us. We had cannelloni and pork medallions and split our entrees with each other. Dessert was chocolate banana strudel and I also have butter almond ice cream. We skipped the violin virtuoso in the theater and opted to gamble some more. I won $15 and am only $17 down-my goal is to break even slowly. We were both done pretty quickly so had time to hot tub. The wind was so cold and strong that it was more like "warm tub" but we still enjoyed ourselves. There were two other couples there. One was about our age who were behaving themselves and an older couple who just seemed to be bouncing up and down on each other without a care in the world. It's great that they were still in love after 152 years of marriage but people-get a cabin! We headed back for the cabin and were going to go to Sorrento's for a snack but opted for room service instead. I got a steak sandwich and was expecting a Philly Cheesesteak but got a whole steak on a bun-for FREE! Man I love cruising! We watched Castle while munching our freshly baked cookies and turned in around 11PM.04/12/2011Final day at SeaAfter all our walking yesterday we decided not to have a wake up call. I woke up around 8 and went out onto the balcony to write when I discovered that I hadn't even finished the 10th yet. I did that write-up and then proceeded to figure out the parrot park adventures. Robin got up about an hour later and I ran down to the CL to get coffee. "Get Coffee" is my code for muffins, Danish, fresh fruit, toast, jam, and anything else I can manage to carry back to the room-and oh yeah, coffee too. A few days ago I saw a guy getting coffee with a thermal carafe. I thought the guy was pretty smart to bring it on board and then I realized that it is the room service carafe. Since we had coffee the night before, I just washed it out and took it with me. I brought back a bunch of stuff and we noshed while wiping the cobwebs from our eyes. We decided that we didn't really need breakfast after all the stuff I brought so we just sat and talked and drank coffee. Robin had checked her email and my computer downloaded all my email for me. We logged off and I read my mail offline. Apparently there was a big storm in Dallas with power outages, blown over trees, lost dogs, and houses falling on old ladies. We got ready for the day and had a voice mail from Mario to let us know there was a food display at 11 on the Promenade. I guess it was a good thing I didn't have a big breakfast today...We went up to the Promenade while they were setting up. They had some interesting dishes I hadn't seen on cruise ships before-things like meat pies (next to the English pub of course), and pecan pie squares. Robin wanted to gamble so we went down to the casino. It was before noon so the tables weren't open yet. I watched her play for a bit and got bored. She tends to win big then put it all back into the machine. She switched machines so I headed out to the bar to hang out. I read the Bolero's menu (which is now renamed "Mario's" in honor of Super Mario). I guess I fell asleep because when I opened my eyes Robin was sitting across from me. We had originally planned to go to the buffet but neither one of us felt like fighting the crowds for food then for a seat. Instead, we headed up for the pool deck to see if there were any Wishes at Sea shirts left. We did a lap of the pool deck but alas, the sale was over. The sun worshipers were all out in all shapes and sizes and levels of crispness. We went to lunch in the WJ and sat in Chops. The tables were open now so I headed in to gamble while Robin went up to the cabin to get more money. I sat next to a nervous looking guy who was betting $25 chips on the two-to-one row. He was picking "bottom third" only and lost about $75 in 30 seconds. He sighed and pulled out another chip-a black $100 one and put it on the square again with the remaining $100 he had in play while I bet $10 each on column 1 and 2 (that's my oh crap bet I make when I've just lost the previous hand). The dealer spun the ball and we held our breath. It hit and I won $20 and he got $400. I asked if he wanted to switch chips... He said, "It's my cardio for the day!" He played some smaller 50-50 bets with $5 chips for a couple of minutes while the small-fry played two or three corners. I was up to my $100 bank with two more chips on the table. I cashed in the $100 for a black chip and put it away and hoped to play for awhile on the two remaining $5 chips on the table. I won the first spin but lost the second so all I walked out with was $5. The guy who had been playing the big bets was in front of me at the cashier's and had ended up with $900 by the time he stopped. I'm not sure how much he started with but I don't think it was much more than $200. I found a quarter on the floor by the quarter pusher machine so all-in-all I'm up to $11.74 down for the cruise (if you can follow that logic). I'm planning on playing conservatively for the rest of the cruise so as to come home with more money than I started with. We still have $10 credit left on our account but I'm sure we'll find a picture we want or something similar and that'll be gone by the end of the week. I walked through the smokey rows of slot machines looking for Robin but couldn't find her so I headed back up to the cabin. Apparently she had been doing the same thing and found me blogging on the balcony.We attended arts & crafts with Janet and made origami picture frames. We also did a big version of the flower we had made earlier in the week. While Robin was working on that I ran up to the cabin to get the little versions to glue in the middle of the big ones. Robin made two of them in purple and orange and added a pin-back to them so we could wear them (for formal night some folks joked). It was 4 o'clock by the time we were finished so we dashed back to the cabin to change for the final formal night. Robin looked lovely in a black and white dress embellished with purple flowers. My tie had flecks of purple in it so we matched. We sat with the Scottish folks in the CL and had a few strong drinks, some chicken wings, and I ate two coconut macaroons. We've been joking that "Fred's Tropical Supply Co." must have had a sale in Miami-there's been coconut and pineapple in everything. Dinner was lovely. Robin tried the Asian Noodles which was a vegetarian dish so I shared my southern fried chicken with her. We took lots of pictures at dinner with multiple cameras and then Robin and I did some formal pics with the ship's photographer. We dashed up to the cabin for our third set of clothes today and went down to see Jonathan Kane's show. He's an Elton John imitator and he does a fantastic job. You really feel like you were at Elton's show-minus the $100 ticket. He did Crocodile Rock at the end and we got up on stage and danced. After the show people kept coming up to us and saying, "You guys were great!" We headed back to the cabin to get jammies on and plan out our day for tomorrow in Spain.04/13/2011Cadiz, Spain (near Seville)I woke up early and peeked out over the ocean. A few blinky lights on the horizon from sea going vessels told me we were nearing land. The fog and mist dissipated as we got closer and closer to mainland Spain. Looking at a world map, Cadiz looks like a tiny little bump on the south end of Spain but when you get here you can see why the ancient Phoenicians were so enamored of the area. Rocky islets jut out from the shoreline, creating a natural harbor. Ancient stone fortresses mix Spanish, Moorish, and modern architecture and technology into a functional beacon to this ancient city that has been inhabited for for over 3,100 years and claims to be the oldest city in Europe. Columbus was pretty smart to start two of his journeys here. The well equipped port was just as efficient in the 1490's as it is today. We passed stone minarets and rock solid battlements as we slowly pulled into the narrow harbor. This was a rich trading city in the 15th century and its rich architecture and many churches reflect the opulence that gold and silver pouring in from the New World provided. I wondered if we were viewed as modern equivalents of treasure from the Americas with our fat wallets and shiny VISA cards. The pilot guided us in alongside another cruise ship while multiple smaller vessels darted about in the harbor.The boat docked on time and we were quickly cleared. We walked into town and I found 5¢ (getting closer to breaking even). We walked past statues and monuments, government buildings, churches, tapas bars, bakeries, guys with dogs, and girls in very short skirts. Cadiz is a lively city and totally opposite of what we experienced in France several years ago. The shops and locals are very welcoming and friendly. We rested on the sea wall for a bit and continued on. We found a shop that sold plaster cats that were made to look carved-it was only 11€ so we got that. Apparently Cadiz also has Bruhas or witches for everything - good luck, job success, safety, love - you name it, there's a witch for it. We continued on and saw tons of parked cars inches from one another, all there bumpers horribly mangled. We decided we'd gone far enough and crossed the street near an ancient tree and discovered that we had walked clear across the peninsula. We were at the beach at the far end of town that earlier in the day we had joked, "if we get to the beach we've gone too far." It was a long hike back to the ship and I wanted to take a cab but Robin wanted to walk. We mapped out a route and I screwed it up at the first intersection and got us lost. We stumbled up the central market with fresh fruit, poulterers, butcher shops, cheese merchants, and wonderful smells everywhere. Outside the market were vendors with trinkets for tourists, watches, wallets, flowers, and lotto tickets. Robin and I got recognized for our Elton John dance performance several times. We debated stopping for paella or baked goods but since we were so close to the ship we opted for lunch in the WJ. Because we were in port so long the ship was pretty empty. We grabbed a quick bite and changed into our bathing suits and went up to the whirlpool to soak our aching legs. The pool deck was pretty full of very leathery looking people-I just don't get sun worshipers... We went up to the reserved deck and sat out for a bit. I got a yogurt cone and ate it in the pool while Robin napped in the sun. We headed back to the cabin around 3 and collapsed on the bed. Our balcony door was open so we heard various announcements on ship and off as we drifted in and out of sleep. Robin woke up at one point and I opened an eye to see what was happening. She was intently looking at the clock on the phone trying to convert military time to 12-hour and announced, "Hey! We're late for dinner-it's eight to six!" I dashed up and changed out of my bathing suit, which I still had on and we ran down to dinner. Our tablemates were already there and we quickly ordered. After dinner we went to the shore excursion desk and booked a couple of tours since there was no way we were doing all that walking again. Then if was off to the photo lab to get a couple of shots with our free coupons - we do clean up well as Robin likes to say.We headed back up to the cabin to put the pictures away and Robin looked out on the balcony and said, "Hey they moved us!" The pier was gone-then we realized that the ship was moving and it was time to head back out into the ocean before going through the Straits of Gibraltar and on to Malaga in the morning. The ship pulled out slowly and we headed away from the coast as the sun set slowly ahead of us. Later, we returned to the casino. Robin was out of gambling money so she watched me play for a bit. I got pretty lucky and was on a winning streak. I was $30 up for the day which put me at $28.28 up for the cruise. I may leave it at that and not bet anything else. There was a "midnight" buffet scheduled for 10:45 PM. We went up on deck and saw bowls and lids flying away in the heavy winds. It was a bit chilly so we dashed down to the cabin to get warmer clothes. We headed back up on the pool deck and took pictures of the wonderful fruit carvings. Folks were placing bets on when the pineapple towers were going to blow over. By 11PM the sternos were still not lit and the cruise director's staff and the band had given up on dancing and playing. The DJ turned up the music volume to drown out the wind. At that point we figured it wasn't going to happen. Even if they decided to move it inside it was obvious the midnight buffet may actually take till midnight to get set up. Robin and I headed off for Sorrento's for a pizza snack and then headed to the cabin to pack some of the stuff we weren't going to need for the remainder of the cruise.04/14/2011Malaga, Spain (aka "Hola!")I woke up to the blinking light of Mario's "Good Morning beautiful people" message and was surprise to see city lights out on the balcony. On a cruise you tend to lose track of time so I was surprised to see city light outside our window at 7AM-I thought we were getting in at 10AM which of course makes no sense since we had a 9:15 tour. I went out onto the balcony and saw another cruise ship called "Marina." I didn't recognize the logo but it was pretty close to our size and the balcony doors shimmered iridescently in the morning light. The vessel appeared to be leaving and was trying to do a 180° turn but after a few minutes I realized it was just rotating the ship in the narrow harbor entrance to dock at an angled dock adjacent to us. It was almost 7:30 by this time, which meant folks would be going ashore shortly so I decided to get ready for the day, hoping my rustling about would wake Robin gently. We went down to the main dinning room for breakfast and were served by a wonderful girl from TDad'Tobago. A lovely contrast to the surly waiters we'd had the day before. After breakfast we headed to Studio B to wait for our bus to be called. We were #22 and apparently 1 thru 20 had already left and the place was almost deserted. It was only a couple of minutes and we were off. As we got to the gangway Robin realized that she didn't have her Seapass card. Tolga said he'd hold the bus for us as we dashed up 10 floors to search our cabin. Robin found her card in the pocket of a pair of jeans in the laundry which she had used the night before for the non-existent midnight buffet at 10:45ish. We Seapass in hand, we ventured off the ship and onto the bus for Malaga. We passed through the city, taking pictures, as our guide pointed out features from history, botany, architecture, and modern day city life. We drove up the mountains to an old Moorish fort - Gibalfaro. It was once an old lighthouse and garrison for troops over the centuries.Following a short visit, we drove back down the mountain. We saw several churches and government buildings and drove past Picasso's house. We also learned that Antonio Bandaras is from Malaga - You learn something new everyday - I always thought he was from Mexico. We disembarked by the cathedral (which has been under construction for over 300 years and is still not finished). Our guide walked us through a lovely pedestrian mall that had been built by 19th century gentry to enjoy on Sundays. Over the years it has become a fashionable shopping promenade and the only straight street in the entire city. Every Easter there is a huge processional with floats weighing up to 5 tons, carried aloft on the shoulders of 300 men. These local Brotherhoods vie for places in the parade and are somewhat akin to fraternal organizations like the Masons or Lion's Club in America. There's even one all-female Brotherhood and they often outdo the men in the parade. We stopped at Mariano's and had a glass of wine and some peppers and onions. I thought we were done but then they brought out a lovely little dish of paella. Then it was on to the second taverna for more wine and little sausage sandwiches with paprika and Russian salad which was somewhat like coleslaw with tuna. We walked a few blocks to the third place, which served us potato chips followed by wine, and then ham sandwiches with tomato puree.We made a big circle to come in front of the cathedral which is flanked by a Cheers Tavern on Norm's Street. We did a bit of shopping and popped into a bakery then it was time to head back to the bus. We petted a few of the horses who were waiting to take folks on carriage rides. We took the short bus ride back to the port authority and quickly cleared the agents there. Another bus took us the last mile to the ship and we were some of the last folks to get onboard. We headed up to the cabin and dumped off our goodies and drank copious amounts of water. The ship soon departed Malaga and we were once again on the open sea. I watched the pilot boat help us out and Robin got a picture of the pilot hopping off our ship. We downloaded some pics and blogged and then Robin brought me some "American Tapas" - Fruit Loops in the lid to our glasses... Next it was time for our galley tour at 4 o'clock. We arrived a few minutes early and chatted with some New Yawkahs about the demise of Park West. The chefs came out and took several Germans on an exclusive tour while the English speakers went with that anative English speaker, Ivan from Chile... He showed us each of the stations and told us how they prepare 5000 meals over three times a day. The kitchens are hosed down four times a day including the ceilings. We passed the dessert area and there were multiple trays of cookies but alas, Ivan offered us none. Robin recorded the whole thing on video and we showed it to some folks in the CL before dinner. Tonight's menu was the best by far. We both had Chicken Cordon Blu and I added a lobster tail to mine. Robin got Boston Cream Pie for Dessert and Lyndon was happy he finally had something for her to eat. I had a double portion of Spanish Rice Pudding and then we said good night to Lyndon and Victor. Outside the dinning room an elderly couple were doing the casual photo ops and the photographer had them lying on the floor surrounded by multicolor pillows-they were so cute! We headed up to pack our dirty clothes for the trip back to Texas and plan out our final day in Valencia. We flipped through channels for a bit and watched "The Other Guys" which is a weird movie and frankly, not very good.04/14/2011Valencia, Spain (Last Day)I woke up a bit before 6AM and it was completely dark outside still. The Mediterranean Sea was much calmer than the Atlantic had been so I sat out on the balcony for a bit, writing and soaking in the sea air. We headed for the main dinning room for breakfast and I tried my luck at Eggs Benedict again, alas earwax as Dumbledore would say. I'm not sure why this ship hasn't figured out how to make eggs?We pulled into Valencia harbor around 10AM and docked on the extreme far side of the concrete pier. It was several miles around the docks so if you weren't on a tour it was $8 for the bus. There only seemed to be about a dozen tour busses waiting so either everyone's tour was later in the morning or this just isn't a popular place to see. There was a band and some local dancers to greet us but the Captain decided to rotate the vessel to the port side so they were quickly hidden from view. We were going to the Arts & Sciences Museum and had a few minutes before we had to head to Studio B to gather with our tour mates so we relaxed in the cabin, sipping coffee, until it was time to leave.We took the long walk off the short pier and eventually made it to our bus-lucky #13. CaesarE was out tour guide and he couldn't really speak English too well. The mic on the bus didn't really compensate for the A/C so no one could really hear him. We had wireless earbuds for the walking portions but those were pretty staticy and he didn't wear his headset on his head but rather around his neck so the mouthpiece was never in the right position. He quickly took us past churches and squares and Roman remains where there used to be something 1000 years ago but not any longer because they took all the stones to build the addition to the church tower next door... This went on for several hours until we had a 10 minute pit stop at McDonald's of all places. We reboarded the bus and headed to the other side of the river (which isn't a river any longer) and went to the City of Arts & Sciences. The Architecture was stunning but at the end of the tour I felt about it the way I felt about Valencia itself-it was full of sound and fury and signified nothing. The jumble of buildings and Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
We just returned from a great Trans-Atlantic voyage from Barcelona to Galveston on the Voyager of the Seas and wanted to share some of the high points, as well as a few low points about the experience. We had an online package deal that ... Read More
We just returned from a great Trans-Atlantic voyage from Barcelona to Galveston on the Voyager of the Seas and wanted to share some of the high points, as well as a few low points about the experience. We had an online package deal that included air transportation, a hotel for two nights and the cruise. The air portion from Houston was uncomfortable on a packed Lufthansa 747, but uneventful. The transfers were smooth and the hotel (H10 marina) was comfortable although the air conditioning had been turned off for the season a little prematurely. Embarkation on the ship was chaotic with the terminal seeming more like the Calcutta railway station than a cruise terminal. There was no discernable organization or prioritization, with passengers being assigned random boarding groups. Although we were diamond status in a junior suite, we were given priority 12, while some new cruisers were given priority one or two. Our boarding agent was clueless about any special waiting areas for Platinum and Diamond Crown and Anchor members, and directed us to a room that turned out to be the isolation ward for passengers suspected of having communicable diseases! We then beat a hasty retreat from the area and took refuge in a baggage holding area. After waiting for about an hour or so, we boarded but were not allowed in our cabins until 2 PM. The ship is about 137,000 tons and I conservatively estimate the 3,100 passengers' median weight at 250 lbs., without luggage, adding about another 400 tons to the ballast. The majority were from the U.S, U.K. and Canada. We met many new friends and found that almost all our shipmates were mature, friendly folks who had experienced successful careers and had led interesting lives. Except for two days of rough seas near Gibraltar, the weather was gorgeous. It was more like a Caribbean cruise, than an Atlantic voyage, with the temperatures consistently in the low 80s F. The ports of call were very nice and we particularly liked Madeira. We booked tours through the ship and thought they were well worth the money. Regarding food services, we mainly used the dining room for breakfast and dinner and grabbed sandwiches from the Windjammer or the Snack bar on deck 5. The Windjammer was so crowded, it was almost impossible to find a seat unless you went very early or very late. We had My Time dining and thought that the food was very good. Although you don't get to bond with the waiters as you do with fixed dining times, you get to meet a wide variety of fellow passengers. The entertainment was consistently good with the usual variety of cruise shows, and the vivacious Argentinean cruise director, Mercedes, did her best to keep us busy and happy. I found her somewhat fractured English to be utterly charming. Our junior suite cabin was roomy and well appointed and our cabin attendant (Faru) did a great job. The TV channels were disappointing, as there was no channel showing the present position or weather. Instead, there was a continuous loop of a guy explaining how to wash your hands. This got really old after two weeks. Beverage services were good, although they lost a half bottle of wine I had left over from the previous dinner, claiming I had drunk it all. After I had purchased another bottle, they finally found it so I had two open bottles. On the positive side, this was our first opportunity to enjoy the diamond level events and we enjoyed the nightly complimentary wine/champagne very much. There were lots of activities on board, including very interesting lectures on art, history and aviation. The Trans- Atlantic experience also provides a great opportunity to catch up on all those books that you have been meaning to read. Disembarking was quick and easy, especially for us who dragged our own luggage off the boat. The only negative was that they shut down the internet services that last morning so I was unable to use up my $30 credit from the package I had purchased (and I didn't want to wait in line at guest services behind all the thrifty Scots protesting their final bills). In summary, we had a wonderful time, despite a few glitches and would do the trip again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
"Pacific Princess" Mediterranean and Transatlantic Cruise 23 November to 22 December 2010 We know the "R" ships well, having sailed on Insignia, Journey and Quest, and we like the size and design. We were ... Read More
"Pacific Princess" Mediterranean and Transatlantic Cruise 23 November to 22 December 2010 We know the "R" ships well, having sailed on Insignia, Journey and Quest, and we like the size and design. We were not disappointed with Pacific Princess, the library had been left as a library, with a good selection of books, and somewhere quiet to go for a read, and plenty of space in the other public areas. The itinerary was : Athens, Santorini, Patmos, Kusadasi, Haifa, Ashdod, Port Said, Sorrento, Civittavechia, Livorno, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Ceuta, Casablanca, Ponta Delgada, Bermuda, Fort Lauderdale. Rather than write a travelogue, I thought I would mention the high and low points of this trip, so here goes...... High Points: The main dining room was excellent, first class staff and the food of an unfailingly high quality. So good we did not venture to the specialist diners! Cabin service was also exemplary, from the routine through to specialised when I went down with the dreaded tummy bug. Medical services were also top rate. The Cruise Director, Sammi, and her staff we also good, organising and participating in many activities to keep us all amused. The resident entertainers, mainly young Australians, did an excellent job. Kusadasi and Ephesus - we booked a private tour with Ekol travel, truly wonderful! Guide and Driver were brilliant, we were able to wander through the site and the terraces at our own speed, so we really enjoyed the day. The design of the viewing platforms inside the Terraces site was superb, and our guide knew all the best vantage points from which to take pictures. Alexandria - Four of us took a taxi to the Library, which is stunning! We went downstairs to a variety of other demonstrations and exhibits, and explored the Museum of Antiquities Civittavechia and Tarquinia - Short rail trip North to Tarquinia, a walled town. Shuttle bus from the station to the Town gate, and a very unspoilt place for a gentle Sunday stroll. Livorno, Pisa, Lucca and Florence - we were lucky enough to hook up with a party using "RomeinLimo" for this trip, and again it was wonderful. Ponta Delgada, Azores - What a delightful surprise this Island is! We went walkabout on our own, and took advantage of the local tourist board staff who provided us with maps and advice as soon as we had disembarked. We speak no Portuguese, but the friendliness and courtesy of the local people made us feel very welcome. Low Points: We used a Princess organised tour to go to Jerusalem - mistake, it was poor! We saw very little, we seemed to hang around for long periods doing nothing, and the Guide was not good. The Internet service was appalling, expensive and slow. As an ex professional in that field I know it could, and should, have been better. Finally, the Front Desk staff, specially trained to pat you on the head (metaphorically!) and send you away without doing anything other than the simplest of tasks. For example, we were delayed by bad weather between Bermuda and Fort Lauderdale, and it was obvious that most of us would have to rearrange our onward travel. Whilst I accept that there is limited capacity on the ship - to - shore phone, that capacity could have been better utilised had accurate information been forthcoming. It took me five visits to the Desk and four hours of frustration before I was given the correct phone number for my airline. Further, it is now over four weeks since we landed and I am still, despite repeated requests, awaiting a copy of my final account. The disembarkation was also poor; the need to get us off the ship quickly sometimes overwhelming both front desk the shore side organisation. We did manage to get to Texas to stay with our family and spent a wonderful Christmas and New Year with them, and we are now back in the UK planning the next trip, though it will not be with Princess...... Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Embarkation for the trip was in Rome. The ship had an outbreak of norovirus on the previous cruise so they were sanitizing the ship so they did not want to start boarding the ship until after 2 in the afternoon. I had purchased the HAL ... Read More
Embarkation for the trip was in Rome. The ship had an outbreak of norovirus on the previous cruise so they were sanitizing the ship so they did not want to start boarding the ship until after 2 in the afternoon. I had purchased the HAL transfers and they handled it very well. Instead of taking us to the port and letting us sit there for 6 or 7 hours HAL put all of us on the transfer bus and gave us a mini tour of Rome while we were waiting. To those who hadn't been to Rome before I'm sure it was a real treat as they covered a lot of the highlights of the city. Obviously we couldn't stop and tour but it was much better than sitting at the port for a long time. The ship was on code red for the first week of the cruise, but the staff handled it very well, serving everyone at the LIDO, and the service staff bent over backwards for the guests making it a good experience. Ports were Ajaccio, Corsica, Barcelona, Cartagena, & Malaga, Spain, Tangier, Morocco, and Funchal Madeira. I did a ships tour at every port but Funchal as I had been there before and was comfortable on my own. Excursions were fine and were worth the price of the tour. The food aboard ship was good tasting but I think the variety has slipped a little on HAL. I realize you are going to have repeats on a 15 day cruise, but it was not as diverse of menu as it used to be. Pinnacle Grill was excellent, and the food in the Canaletto was good, but I thought the service was a bit slow. I did not go to any of the shows in the showroom because none of the shows really appealed to me. The explorations staff offers a diverse mix of things to do, but I did not partake in many of those activities so I can't comment on them. The weather was rainy while crossing the Atlantic but there is not much you cn do about that and its certainly not HAL's fault for bad weather. The ship had gone off code red by the time we started crossing the Atlantic so with the library reopened that helped a lot. HAL has one of the better libraries at sea in my opinion. Over all it was an enjoyable trip, but the ship is starting to show its age a little, although the public rooms were very nice. The retreat in the back of the lido deck was not utilized too much as I only saw a few people in the wading pool and almost no one out there for the evening concerts on the big screen. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
I'd read complaints about the food not being very good on this ship, and the buffet area being short on seating, so I pleased to experience the opposite. My husband and I did not love every dish we tried, but over all the food was ... Read More
I'd read complaints about the food not being very good on this ship, and the buffet area being short on seating, so I pleased to experience the opposite. My husband and I did not love every dish we tried, but over all the food was good. The fish was always good. I was pleased with the variety of choices offered in the buffet at lunch and supper. Some days we ate every meal at the buffet and we never experienced a lack of table availability. I was surprised and pleased that both soft serve and regular ice cream was offered free. We tried two of the "pay extra" restaurants. The Italian place was just OK, nothing special. The Steak place served a very good shrimp cocktail. The 4 of us were pleased with the steaks. However 2 of us ordered "medium" and received WELL DONE. It took 3 tries to get my tenderloin done MEDIUM, (first one was dry - too well done, and second one was much too rare) The staff was very concerned about getting it done right, so we were impressed by their effort to please. Our room staff was very friendly and accomodating. No complaints about the room - the bed was fine. They could provide an option to the comforter. I found it much too warm for use most nights even with the AC turned up to the max. I asked for something less heavy, but nothing was substituted. We had a balcony room on the 10th level, slightly aft. The entertainment could have been better. Not enough choices during the day hours, and the evening music/dancing options were too late. We'd have liked some live music in a lounge area at about 7:3o so that if we did not care to go to the floor show, we'd have had an option for after supper. The TA part of the trip was fine. We had to skip a port due to a storm in that area, so too bad. Better to miss the port than sail into a storm, yet we heard complaints. The Carib. part of the cruise had major anoyances. In Port Canaveral getting off and on the ship was the most difficult I've ever experienced. The EASY OFF -take all of your luggage with you and walk off sooner than the other folks, was NOT easy. My husband lost one and a half hours of his excursion time due to not being able to get off at the time told to us. People gathered in the atrium area and became aggitated over standing in a long unmoving line. On our dis-embarcation day we were told that a pasenger fist fight broke out in the atrium over a line-jumping issue. Also there was a very badly handled line problem at the KEY WEST port. We were gine a notice that we had to come down to the Stardust by floors, starting at about 6AM. Then another notice came and said 7 AM. When we showed up at 7:25, we discovered no line movement had happened. We stood in line for awhile and then decided to go to breakfast. After breakfast the line was amazingly long! Some folks stood in that line nearly 2 hours! The staff should have used the PA to tell people to stop coming down, and/or told the early birds to go back to their rooms and await another anouncement to come down. Only two "officials" were doing the document checks, and they had arrived later than expected. Getting up very early, to stand for a long time in an unmoving line, is not a good way to start a day! In any large group of people there are those that do not care if their behavior is offensive. We experienced some of those. I would not have wanted to be on the Carib. portion of the cruise with children, due to the behavoir of some adults in the pool area. Too bad the SUN is not large enough to have an ADULTS ONLY pool area. Over all we had a good time, but it was not the best cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
I am a 63 year old professional who traveled with her 12 year old granddaughter. GD's first cruise, my seventh, second TA. We spent four days before the cruise in Rome. We stayed at the Hotel Melia Antica which is actually in a suburb ... Read More
I am a 63 year old professional who traveled with her 12 year old granddaughter. GD's first cruise, my seventh, second TA. We spent four days before the cruise in Rome. We stayed at the Hotel Melia Antica which is actually in a suburb of Rome. The hotel shuttle bus took us into the Vatican City every day and picked us up. We had Roma passes which were wonderful-all the public transportation and entry into Museums and other attractions either free or half price. I would recommend the Roma pass.Transfer from the hotel was smooth and so was embarkation. Cabin wasn't ready yet so we went to the Windjammer and found that it was too crowded--this was consistent through out the cruise, not enough spaces and too many people. Jade section was disappointing most of the time but when they hit it right they did an excellent job, just not consistent. Our ocean view cabin was spacious and clean and our room steward was excellent. Lots of storage space and I really appreciated the sliding doors on the shower as opposed to the curtains. The cabin was surprisingly quiet given we were down the corridor from the Dungeon bar. We had two days of high seas during the trip and the movement in the cabin was very minimal, a very smooth voyage. We did not take any of the ship's excursions in any of the ports because most places had tourists in mind with hop-on/hop-off buses and excellent public transportation. We did not get off the ship in France because of the troubles. My GD very much enjoyed the teen center and loved the counselor, Fabi from Brazil. There weren't that many children on board and the teen center kept her busy and happy. She made friends, played games, watched movies and was generally in teen heaven. Initially I was concerned that the adult pool, the Solarium, did not have a cover but the weather cooperated and I was in the pool a lot. It was wonderfully warm, all the pools were. The hot tubs weren't that hot, though. I was disappointed that the library was so meager (glad I had my Kindle), the slow internet connection, no passenger laundry (getting clothes clean was hideously expensive), the morning stretch class was excellent but too crowded and getting into the ice skating show was very poorly done. The dining room (we had my time dining, the only way to go) food and service were on a par with every other cruise I've been on. Ordered room service a couple of times and they were prompt and always got our order correct and the menu wasn't extensive but was surely adequate. I really enjoyed the cafe promenade for early morning coffee before the GD got up and loved the space in the very front of deck 5 on the helipad where you could watch the sea at all times and the stars at night. We also enjoyed the miniature golf and the movie theater. GD enjoyed the basket ball and volley ball,rock climbing wall and ice skating. Went to the spa once and enjoyed the service but not the sales pitch. Appreciated the sauna and steam room, also. This is a great ship if you are traveling with kids. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We have been on many cruises but had never before experienced the thrill of a transatlantic voyage. I was afraid 7 days at sea would be a bit boring, but this was not the case at all. I enjoyed every minute - including the extra hour we ... Read More
We have been on many cruises but had never before experienced the thrill of a transatlantic voyage. I was afraid 7 days at sea would be a bit boring, but this was not the case at all. I enjoyed every minute - including the extra hour we had most days due to the time change! The Navigator of the Seas is a beautiful ship and the service was top notch throughout. Captain Patrick was the most personable I have every encountered, even walking around the dining room to say hello to everyone during dinner one night. We enjoyed the food in the dining room and never felt we had to go to the specialty restaurants. Also the food in the Windjammer was very good with many choices available for lunch. There was usually somewhere to sit, as long as you didn't mind sharing someone's table. We always do this and most people are happy to share if you ask. You get to meet more people that way. There was a great variety of entertainment and surely something to please every taste. The ice show was spectacular although we did have to line up 45 minutes in advance to be assured of getting seats. Which brings me to my one complaint about the ship. For 3000 passengers, many of the public rooms seem too small. We never could get into the movie (which only seats about 100 people) even though we went there 30 minutes before each show. If you wanted to play trivia in the Schooner bar, you had to go at least 45 minutes early to get a seat. And if you wanted to hear the piano player there after the show, you had to stand at least until the first set was over. Many people were also closed out of the lectures in the conference rooms due to lack of seats. Even the showroom, which seems huge, filled up rapidly for the early dinner show and we had to go there directly from dinner every night and wait 45 minuted for the show to start. The only other problem was the disembarkation in Ft Lauderdale, which was terrible. The long slow walk from the ship to the baggage area led to chaos in the baggage room and too few customs agents. However I don't know if this was the fault of Royal Caribbean, the customs officers or port authorities. We did have a wonderful time and I would not hesitate to sail on the Navigator again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
2nd time on the Ventura 1st time was on the Med, this time transatlantic to the Caribbean. Over all it was an enjoyable cruise just a couple of grumbles. But first the good points. Our cabin was an outside and was very comfortable, ... Read More
2nd time on the Ventura 1st time was on the Med, this time transatlantic to the Caribbean. Over all it was an enjoyable cruise just a couple of grumbles. But first the good points. Our cabin was an outside and was very comfortable, and the cabin layout was great, we particularly liked the open plan wardrobe, it gives you lots of space for cases etc, The in cabin entertainment was wonderful, with a great choice of free tv and free movies. The food was wonderful, the entertainment was amazing in quantity and quality, the cruise director Leon de Ste Croix was excellent. As were the guest speakers among which was Duncan Mckenzie who did a few wonderful talks and a very entertaining Q&A session in the theatre. We had about 5 comedians on the cruise 3 singers 2 groups and a classical pianist, so as I said amazing entertainment. Bar prices were excellent, UK pub prices in fact Also the ship its self is beautiful and well maintained. The minus points were, some of the passengers :-( P&O had drastically reduced the cruise prices just before the sailing date, so much that some of the passengers were from the lower end of the passenger scale and would have been better suited to "Butlins or Pontins". That may sound snobbish but i'm far from a snob (from a Liverpool council estate originally) but I have done 20+ cruises and I do know how to behave with people and how to consider other people. Anyway on with this review, most of the time it was not possible to get a sunbed with people reserving them from early morning 6 - 6.30am in some cases. One last thing was some of the staff in the waterside in particular the lads who were clearing tables, they were not as friendly or efficient as they usually are and were very very slow to replace cups and glasses in the drinks areas, quite often none of the drinks areas had any cups or glasses and you had to ask for them and then eventually got them. All that said it was still a good cruise and we did enjoy it. One last thing I must commend P&O for their transfer organisation it was brilliant both getting to the ship by coach from Manchester and getting to the airport in Barbados, one great thing was putting your bags outside the cabin on last night and not seeing them till Manchester airport, OTHER CRUISE LINES TAKE NOTE !! :-) Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Flew into Venice one day early to rest up for cruising. Stayed out in Quatro d'Altino which was fine. Have been in Venice before so knew we would save the city for our port day. Embarkation was easy. Was glad that we could sign up for ... Read More
Flew into Venice one day early to rest up for cruising. Stayed out in Quatro d'Altino which was fine. Have been in Venice before so knew we would save the city for our port day. Embarkation was easy. Was glad that we could sign up for spa while waiting to board as that is a priority for us. Loved all the ports on the Greek portion. Did things on our own everywhere except Santorini where we took the ship's tour that including eating, dancing and breaking of plates. Great fun. All the ports: Split, Mykonos, Iraklion, etc. were easy to get around and had so many things you could do. The transAtlantic portion was equally good and we had better weather in Spain and Portugal. Again, we did things on our own. Don't miss the Alhambra. Cadiz is great to do on foot. Loved Lisbon. Would love to return and spend more time there. Only other NCL tour we took was whale watching in Ponta Delgado and that was cancelled because of weather. Nice town for walking though. Wish we had more time on Crete. This was our first balcony room on deck 10 midship. We were on port side and that was perfect for all our ports. For the first time we used doctor's services--for back problems not related to cruise. Saw 3 different doctors. All had different ideas. Despite many tests and medications nothing worked. Hours are not adequate for this large a ship. Ship's store ran out of cough drops, tylenol, etc. You could get tylenol at main desk, but it's not strong enough. We had no problems with any of the restaurants. Usually Cagney's is our favorite, but on this ship it was Le Bistro. We used the main dining room and buffet a lot. Had no problems with waiting or food quality. One time I didn't care for what I ordered, but that was not their fault. It just wasn't my cup of tea. They offered to replace it, but I ate it and just knew that wasn't what I would get next time. Everyone was polite and really aimed to please. Loved Asian restaurant too. Being a Latitudes member helps with those extra charges. Would have liked to have done Teppanyaki, but never had a special for it. NCL has listened. We didn't see near as much selling in the shows and we try to attend all of them. Also, did not hear as many announcements of what was going on. They seemed to just do it all at once. Most of the entertainment was good. Just missed two of them during the storms. Gem band is really good. I thought all staff were incredible under difficult circumstances. They were trying to cover restaurants they don't normally work in and running room service too. It was obvious that some were overwhelmed, but who wouldn't be. The storm didn't effect us as much because we were midship on 10. NCL might consider opening up other restaurants for lunch if something like this happens again. We would have loved to have eaten Asian or TexMex for lunch on those days. We made good use of the library and also used the gym this time. Debarkation was not good. We were glad we had a late plane trip. Would we sail NCL again? Yes, we can afford it. The ships are beautiful and the itineraries are good. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
My wife and I just completed a 14 day Transatlantic cruise on the Silver Spirit out of Lisbon and wanted to share briefly some of our expectations that were met and not met by Silversea. This was our first Silversea cruise and looked ... Read More
My wife and I just completed a 14 day Transatlantic cruise on the Silver Spirit out of Lisbon and wanted to share briefly some of our expectations that were met and not met by Silversea. This was our first Silversea cruise and looked forward to it very keenly based on the many positive reviews we read and talking to our cruise consultant. In summary from my first touch-point with the cruise line: 1) the website is cumbersome and tired for an upscale cruise line. In fairness it has undergone an update but still lags other. 2)Booking spa treatments before the cruise is a nice plus other lines don't offer but 3)we find it maddening that one cannot book the specialty restaurants before hand as most other lines allow. If one wants to make sure they obtain their choices they need to rush aboard and run around the ship to each restaurant and book since it is not automated but manual lists are kept 4)beverages and gratuities included in the tariff is a major plus especially on a 14 day cruise 5)embarkation was smooth but again manually performed? 6)upon boarding you can have lunch in the Restaurant or (not publicized) in La Terrazza before departure 7)Staff is attentive and by mid cruise most remember your name 8)the Butler service is spotty compared to past ones we have had 9) the ship is new obviously but somber and almost non-offensive in its color palette and uses of woods. The narrow cabins and funky sink are well documented and accurate. Storage is ample 10)The Restaurant and La Terrazza are the 2 best with no surcharge restaurants aboard. Seishin was very poor in every respect. The concept needs to be rethought. La Champagne was tried 3 times and was fine in food quality but not worth $300 with wine. Stars was fun with its tapas concept and music but once the music started the diners were asked to be quiet while everyone listened to the "concert". Hot Rocks was intriguing as it is on the outside upper pool deck and everything is served for you to grill. Some nights can be gusty indeed and the heaters are rolled out. 11) Getting a poolside perch was not difficult during the cruise. 12)The average age of cruisers was older then we thought and certainly much older then we preferred. If I were to guess I would say in the 70's. This had a tempering effect on ALL activities on the ship. 12) By 10:00pm or so the ship save for a hearty 20 to 30 of us "goes to sleep". If this is your style this is your ship. 13)The Casino is small but adequate as we used it nightly. 14)The internet worked beautifully as I had to use it quite heavily for business 15)The shore excursions were simple and thoughtfully geared to touring for the older audience. 16) debarkation was simple and felt not rushed. So, in conclusion if I haven't lost you yet the key question is would we cruise Silversea again and would we do it on Spirit or on one of the smaller "clubby" other Silversea ships. I honestly don't know. We purchased a refundable trip for the future and gave them a $1,000 deposit to save 5% off on a future cruise. We have 12 months to let this one sink in and regroup. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This was our first Silversea cruise, and we were very excited to "step it up" to a luxury line. The following details our experience as honestly as possible: Embarkation: Very easy. Just walked aboard after checking in. No ... Read More
This was our first Silversea cruise, and we were very excited to "step it up" to a luxury line. The following details our experience as honestly as possible: Embarkation: Very easy. Just walked aboard after checking in. No line whatsoever. Were greeted with a welcome champagne (Drappier in contrary to the brochure Pommery) and our carryon was taken from us after we had our photos and passports taken. We were escorted to our midship veranda suite by a friendly lady. Suite: The midship veranda suite was very nice and perfectly adequate space for a 14-day cruise for 2. As other's have mentioned, the suite is very narrow and long, and there is an ackward makeup desk/mirror 1 foot in front of the bed which made it quite difficult to walk by while my fiancee was getting ready. The bathrooms were nice with marble and wood highlights. The bowl sink was ok and large enough for 2 to use simultaneously but the faucet did spray water everywhere if not careful. The separate shower and bathtub were nice and the water pressure was excellent in the shower. We appreciated the choice of bathroom products and tried all of them including the heavily perfumed Bulgari, the lighter Ferragamo, and the nonscented Neutragena. The walk-in closet with armoire were good storage. The bed was very comfortable and the choices of pillows were fun. We tried buckwheat for the first time and enjoyed them. The sitting area of the suite was spacious enough for 2 and the convertible coffee table with top made in-suite dining convenient. The balcony was decent size, and the outdoor furniture was nicer than most cruiselines. We had a strange loud squeak from the wall of our suite that made it very difficult to sleep while at sea, but as soon as we complained about it, it was fixed. Butler: Our butler was very conscientious and worked hard. He occasionally missed things though esp with breakfast but always got our special requests right. For special occasions (Bday, romantic evening, etc) he did an awesome job with candles and special surprise desserts. He even had cheese and snacks waiting for us after we returned from a long shore excursion. We were especially impressed when our butler brought us a 1 liter bottle of Baileys for our room when we asked. Service: As a whole, the service was great but not as personal as I have heard about Silversea. There were a few people who knew our names, but not many. The service in the main dining room seemed rushed and they seemed overworked. Service in the other restaurants was much better. It was nice having gratuities and alcohol included; we were not hounded by servers trying to sell drinks and we didn't feel guilty to have a drink by the pool. Food/Wine: Food as a whole was some of the best cruiseship food we've had but it did not rival restaurant-quality food (except for Le Champagne). The food in the main dining room was always artfully presented and usually quite good but not as amazing as we were hoping for (we are foodies). Every dinner was accompanied with complimentary white and red wine most of which were quite good. We never felt the need to order from the Connoiseur's list. Le Champagne was outstanding but $400 inc wine pairing was steep. It did rival some of the Michelin 3-star restaurants we've been to. Seishin was somewhat disappointing eventhough the food was presented nicely. The sushi was ordinary in comparison to Nobu or other creative Japanese restaurants. Hot Rocks was excellent and we ate there twice. Cooking beautiful filets on 500 degree stones was fun. Stars was a great concept and the tapas were nicely done and well presented. La Terraza for dinner was excellent especially the filet course with a truffle sauce (we ate there twice). The decor in La Terraza seemed more intimate and inviting than the main dining room, and the service was better. La Terraza for lunch was decent though we prefer food cooked to order rather than buffet. Entertainment: As a whole, the ship seemed to go to sleep just after the main 10:15 show for the evening. We did not go to the casino, and we went to the disco once (only to find 5-6 people there). The production shows were decent but not extraordinary; definitely less impressive than other cruises. The other acts (a multiinstrumentalist and a pianist) were not very good. The ship band was pretty poor as a whole. The best entertainment was a female jazz singer and her accompanying pianist. We enjoyed them very much in Stars and their one show in the main lounge. Ship as a whole: The ship was immaculate, new, and intimate. The overall design was good except for the boutiques and casino which were hard to find. Also, the observation lounge was hard to get to. The ship was nicely decorated though art deco wasn't really our preference. Itinerary: The itinerary was excellent, and we experienced a lot of diversity over the 14 days: western europe, Morocco, Canary Islands, 6-days of doing nothing across the Atlantic, then Antiqua, Dominica, and Barbados. St Lucia was cancelled and we were rerouted to Dominca due to hurricane damage. Weather was sunny and 70's for most of the trip except for severe rain in Antiqua. Excursions: Ship shore excursions were better than others I've been on. They seemed to be well organized and interesting. We were able to find some more active excursions in the Caribbean including speedboating and snorkelling. Ziplining was offered but it was cancelled due to hurricane damage. Fellow passengers: This was our only complaint- the average age (physical and mental) of the passengers. It seemed like most people were in their 70's with some in their 80's. We were the youngest couple on board BY FAR. We enjoyed the lack of screaming kids (there were NO kids on board), but we would have liked to hang out with some more energetic and fun people. There were times where we felt as though we were on a floating nursing home, but as a whole everyone dressed elegantly and seemed polished. Would we do it again: We both enjoyed the luxury of Silversea but at our current age, I'd say NO. There are other cruiselines we'd like to try before returning to Silversea. Perhaps in 20-30 yrs, we'll be back. Who knows? :) Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Our flight was on Alitalia non stop from Chicago, after all the bad that I had read about this airline it was a pleasant surprise at how well our flight went, only 70 people on board the whole plane and it was my first time that coach was ... Read More
Our flight was on Alitalia non stop from Chicago, after all the bad that I had read about this airline it was a pleasant surprise at how well our flight went, only 70 people on board the whole plane and it was my first time that coach was comfortable. Everything was good, would fly this airline again in a minute We stayed in Rome at The Albergo Del Senato which was lovely and Rome is absolutely wonderful. Had a great pre cruise, great food, great things to see, even though our tour to the Vatican happened to coinside with the Popes annual mass for the school children of Italy 200,000 children were in the square for mass, that day was rather hectic to say the least but we survived. We had a driver pick us up at the hotel to head for the ship, arrived about 11:30 a.m. embarkation was a breeze. Up to the buffet for a leisurely lunch at about 1:00 they announced our cabin was ready. We were in 1075 large hump balcony. I must say this was the nicest cabin I have stayed in other then a suite. Plenty of storage space, the bathrooms are the best for storage and the shower is wonderful, no more shower curtain. The beds were comfortable and the balcony was quite large, although I do miss the old lounge chairs that you could get from the pool area when requested. The chairs are just not comfortable. The TV is great too. We had a fantastic cabin steward, Bernadette from the Phillapines. Very efficient and always smiling. Now to the not so good, we had late seating and our waiter Gorun and assistant Mickey, were the worst wait staff we have ever encountered. We ususally bond very well with our waiters, and look forward to dinner each evening. They were so slow, forgot who ordered what on some nights, water was not refilled etc etc. Our food was not good, we don't know if we were getting the last of the food available in the kitchen or what as we were always the last ones leaving the dining room. We mentioned once that our food was a c+ at best and the waiter had the chef come out to our table. Very embarressing. Anyway, we requested to be moved to early dining which was accommodated and our waiters Roden and Ivan were great, the food improved although I must say I was not impressed at all with the menus. Lamb almost every night, duck, fish in phylo dough, not the high quality of beef that we have always experienced on Celebrity in the past. We were never hungry, I must clarify that but we just did not look forward to dinner and were not impressed as in past celebrity cruises. Tuscan Grill was the best, not one bad thing to say, the food was delicious, the service the best walked out of there completely satisfied. Murano was not as good of an experience. The appetizer escargot tortellini was just fair, (I did not like eating green foam) the Lobster Bisque I could not even eat, after a few tastes, that was it, my husband got the mushroom soup and so did our table mate, and those two who eat anything, could not even eat the soup, my husband said it tasted like mushroom water again foam topped. The bread was good, the salad o.k. our main course was very good surf and turf, and the dessert sampler just o.k. I would not do murano again, but Tuscan grill I would do more then once. When I booked this cruise through Celebrity, I was given $100 shipboard promotional credit, before the cruise I also purchased $200 shipboard credit after a couple days on board I checked the TV to look at our bill and only the $200 shipboard credit was showing up. I went to guest realations and they said they had no record of the $100 from Celebrity. They do nothing about this by the way, and I had to go back and forth with their main office for about 4 days, before finally getting my credit. Then my daughter in law texted me to see if my husband had received the shipboard credit that she and my son had purchased as a birthday gift for my husband....again.....no, so I am back to Guest Relations again, no record, and no help. So my daughter in law had to go through the same headache as me to get this straighted out. It rather ruined the birthday surprise. My husbands birthday was forgotten in the dining room also, upon leaving the dining room, I told the maitrede' that his birthday was in my reservation and everyone around us who had birthdays were being sung to and given a cake, we were forgotten, he quickly looked into his computer and said "you are right there should have been a celebration", too late now, we left with yet another Celebrity disappointment. All in all this cruise was not up there with one of the best, the ship is beautiful, but I don't know if I would return as the management on board seemed to not know how to manage. Also, there was not much to do during the long sea days, disembarkation was a total nightmare thats another story. I usually love Celebrity, they are my first choice in cruising but I may return to Princess for our next cruise just to try and forget the lack of "Attention to Detail" that Celebrity seems to pride itself in. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We recently returned from Celebrity's Equinox after our first Transatlantic Cruise. We are fairly experienced cruisers, having cruised some 21 times with 8 different cruise lines. Most of our experience in the past 10 years has been ... Read More
We recently returned from Celebrity's Equinox after our first Transatlantic Cruise. We are fairly experienced cruisers, having cruised some 21 times with 8 different cruise lines. Most of our experience in the past 10 years has been with Celebrity and we are Elite Captain's Club Members with them. We were fortunate to have been part of the Equinox Hobgoblins ( our Cruise Critic Roll Call) and this was just a wonderful group of people to with whom to travel. Ir was a true pleasure to meet them all and to be part of the group. This was our second cruise on the Equinox. We found the Equinox to still be in like new condition; everything worked in our stateroom and our outstanding attendant kept everything spotless. The public areas in the ship are well designed, colorful and pleasant, albeit a bit nosier this time. Despite the fact that there seem to have been reductions in the crew, the ship itself is immaculately clean, and the crew continues largely to be pleasant although busier. We were in a 1B veranda cabin, located close to the elevators. We found that the sliding glass doors to the elevator lobby were very effective in preventing noise and the cabin was very quiet and conveniently located. As I mentioned, our stateroom attendant and his assistant were outstanding, despite having more cabins to take care than did our Attendant on our March cruise. We ate all of our breakfasts in the buffet restaurant and found the choice of dishes and preparation to be excellent. The coffee was strong and tasty. By and large, I find the layout of the Solstice Class Buffets to be superior to the M-Class ships and it is easy to select your meal and find a table. We also ate lunch in the buffet and enjoyed the fresh salads, soups, and hot options. Celebrity's Ice cream continues to be superior. Dinner in the buffet, which we did when we wanted a quieter, lighter meal than offered in the main dining room was also good. The sushi, while excellent, was more limited in variety than before, and it appeared that servers in the buffet were some of the less experienced staff members. Still and all, the evening buffet is a viable alternative on the Equinox. We also ate in two of the specialty restaurants, Silk Harvest and Murano, and enjoyed both very much. Their menus are on a level with what Cruising used to be all about and are very much up to the best of Celebrity Standards. We elected to do Select Dining in the MDR rather than eat at a fixed time, early seating being too early and late seating being too late for us. This turned out to be a mistake as Select Dining was crowded, noisy, understaffed and over-subscribed. The main priority seemed to be turning the tables over; water glasses were often unfilled, the waiters and assistants clearly had too many tables to supervise. It was not unusual to have one waiter take your order, and a different waiter to serve each course. Because they were too busy clearing or setting tables, the Maitre D's had little time to check on food quality or to speak with diners as they have in the past. There has been a noticeable decline in quality and choice in Celebrity's Main Dining Room, in my opinion. There are fewer choices, portions are smaller ( this is a good thing in my opinion), food is less likely to be hot and I had one terrible main course that was simply inedible. No, I didn't starve, and I don't want to be misunderstood, but historically, Celebrity has made its reputation on it's cuisine, and I have to say that it simply is not what it was six months ago, let alone several years. Bad food, No. Not as good, yes, unfortunately. There has clearly been some effort at cost containment and it does show. The first part of the itinerary was very nice, only Livorno and Barcelona were repeat ports for us although we had been to Nice by car some years ago. We found something interesting everywhere we went and did enjoy that part of the trip very much. We arranged four private excursions, taking no ship's tours this time. This was our first Transatlantic Cruise and we wondered how we would handle seven consecutive days at sea. The answer is that we both had readers, we read a lot, enjoyed our veranda and went to most of the lectures and the Hot Glass show. We did find that the scheduling of the various events could have been much better: there were too many conflicts where you had to pick and choose between equally attractive options, and with seven days at sea why are the Captain's Club events being held in the mornings? But overall, the weather was warm, the ship was nice, and you can't complain when someone cleans after you and puts chocolate on your pillow at night, can you? Disembarkation was the worst we have ever experienced. The ship was assigned a berth at one of the smaller Port Everglades Terminals, the "new" ( cheaper)luggage tags don't stay on the bags as well, there was not sufficient space for the luggage and it was overall scrambled as though either the stevedores either could not read or did not care. There was no one from the Ship on the pier who was in charge of the operation and there should have been. It took us two hours from the time we left the Departure Lounge until we were in the line for a Cab to the Airport. I view this as unacceptable. Overall, a good cruise, not a memorable one. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Arrived in Barcelona 2 days before the cruise and stayed at the Hotel Universal. 4* property and properly rated, excellent staff, great breakfast buffet, terrific location (metro and bus stops in front of the hotel, 1/2 mile to Las Ramblas ... Read More
Arrived in Barcelona 2 days before the cruise and stayed at the Hotel Universal. 4* property and properly rated, excellent staff, great breakfast buffet, terrific location (metro and bus stops in front of the hotel, 1/2 mile to Las Ramblas and 3/4 mile to the port.) great rooms, free internet, nice bar, roof top pool and terrace, the complete package. Barcelona the city is interesting but over-rated, great history, terrific restaurants, good public transportation, but petty crime is a major problem. Embarking at 12:30 was a breeze and staterooms were available upon boarding. Luggage arrived before 2:00. Beautiful new ship in perfect condition. Loved the decor and extensive art work. Others have been critical, but we thought it was well done, tasteful, understated and set the tone we were looking for. The stateroom, a VD had plenty of storage space, was well laid out, nice use of color, wonderful bed and deep veranda. Temperature controls worked well. We had 2 excellent stewards (Irwan and Abdul), no issues the entire 20 days. Won't spend any time on the ports, all interesting in their own way, no negative issues. Liked Valencia and Lisbon by far the best, others will have a different perspective. The staff in every area met or exceeded our expectations. Although we were in open dining we had the same table in the MDR each night and the 2 guys (Kerti and Pande) were perfect. The bar staff knew us after a couple of days and were always on the case. The issue that really put a damper on this cruise was the Code Red the last 12 days. (9 of them sea days) A complete pain. This greatly impacted our enjoyment. The Spa was closed, no hydro-pool, no hot tubs, steam/sauna rooms closed, library closed etc. The Lido restaurant was a complete foul-up. Never had a hot meal because of the congestion, multi-station trips for silverware, beverages, everything being hand served by staff, over-crowding, just poor in every area. We could never get out of Code Red, the staff worked long hours cleaning everyday but the cases kept piling up. The senior management staff on the ship starting with the Captain did a poor job of communication, gave false information, failed to enforce the rules of containment and became invisible near the end of the cruise. This cruise had the potential to be a "10" ended up being a "7". Will we sail HAL again, yes, but not short-term. Far too many of their cruises go into Code Red, they need to figure out why and correct the causes. I know that Noro/GI is common in the general population, but this was one sick ship with 200+ passengers confined to their staterooms and at least that many more with acute cold like symptoms. We did not get sick by the way, no colds and no other problems. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Route: 14 day cruise starting in Harwich, England - Le Havre, France - Cherbourg, France - Cork, Ireland - Akureyri, Iceland - Reykjavik, Iceland - Sydney, Nova Scotia - Boston. 1. General Comments: An interesting cruise through the ... Read More
Route: 14 day cruise starting in Harwich, England - Le Havre, France - Cherbourg, France - Cork, Ireland - Akureyri, Iceland - Reykjavik, Iceland - Sydney, Nova Scotia - Boston. 1. General Comments: An interesting cruise through the stormy north Atlantic. This was the ship's repositioning cruise from its Baltic runs to its New England trips. Our itinerary was to include St John's, Newfoundland, but a "regular Arctic low pressure storm" formed on the route we were to take from Iceland. This made for a 250 mile detour around the storm and an early arrival in Sydney. My wife and I are frequent floaters and were not bothered by the stormy waves and winds, but enough was enough. The Caribbean it wasn't. The ship was nearly full with 2,046 passengers and 850 crew. While the majority of passengers were American, there was a good representation of European countries. There appeared to be very few first time cruisers. As this was school time, few children were on board. We booked a junior suite on the tenth deck. Details below. We also used My Time dining, and it worked perfectly. The cruise wound up with seven, instead of six, sea days. The Captain announced when we could see whales; a few of us did (I saw two). Remember that this is an Atlantic crossing. We had to change clocks forward one hour for France and turn them back six times enroute to Boston. 2. Travel to England and Embarking: We made our own plane arrangements and arrived in London three days before the cruise. We did use an RCL hotel (Guoman Tower) and the RCL bus to the port in Harwich (a 2 hour trip). You must stay in an RCL hotel if you want to use their bus; otherwise, you are on your own to get to Harwich. The hotel was fine, close to subway and next to both the Tower Bridge and the Tower. An RCL representative was available for some hours starting two days before the cruise. Having done Sea Pass check-in on-line got us through the check-in procedures very quickly. We were on board by noon in time for the usual lunch in the Windjammer and in our cabin around 1PM. One suitcase was waiting for us in the cabin; the other did not arrive for a couple hours. 3. The Jewel of the Seas: An attractive ship. Our junior suite was perfect for the two weeks. Plenty of storage space and nooks, a walk in closet, and bathroom with a tub shower. The cabin has a small safe and a small refrigerator (mini-bar, which we did not touch). There is a TV that receives movies, CNN, FOX, ESPN, shipboard activities, and other channels. You get a daily planner in your cabin the night prior. You need to read it carefully as there are next to no announcements on the PA system. The Captain does his noontime report from the bridge, and there may be one announcement in the afternoon about the evening's show. There is no newspaper; you have to get your news off the TV. There are maps at each elevator bay. The elevators are quirky; often you push the button and watch the elevator go right past your floor. There is a huge children/teen area and programs for them. I defer to others with children to comment on this part of the ship. 4. Meals: Food in the Windjammer buffet - which almost everyone uses for breakfast and lunch - is good. There are plenty of choices at both meals, and you can eat as much or as little as you want. It is a bit hurried, though, and not a place for a slow meal. The dining room's food was very good, well-prepared, and well-served. We only used it for dinner, although it is available with open seating at breakfast and lunch. Again, you have to pay attention to the daily ship's program concerning where lunch is served. The Windjammer or the dining room may be closed, or they may both be open. You have to read. We used My Time dining - 7PM - and RCL got it right. The area for this dining was organized with plenty of tables for two, besides the usual tables for four and more. We would arrive pretty much on time and were always seated immediately. While we were shifted around a bit, we had only three sets of waiters for the 14 days, and this was all in the same area. Thus, the waiters did get to know their guests and their preferences. Our waiters would advise us when they thought dishes were not up to par. Food portions are of respectable size, and if you don't try to eat all the courses everyday, you should not do bad weight-wise. The wine list is respectable, and wine is available by the bottle or glass. We had made reservations on-line for the Portofino specialty restaurant. Excellent food, wine, and service. Well worth the extra charges. There are other food outlets around the ship as well as plenty of bars; you cannot go hungry or thirsty. Because of the mob scene in the Windjammer one noon, we lunched in the Seaview Cafe. Sandwiches and fries were not bad; no extra charge. At the session of "ask the Captain and his staff," we learned an interesting item. RCL ships usually only resupply at the beginning of their runs; in our case it meant that we loaded up in Harwich and had no resupply for 14 days which, according to the hotel director, is about the maximum number of days a ship can go. So, bananas ran out, pineapples became iffy, and margarine ran out. Even the Schooner Bar ran out of Drambuie. 5. Dressing for meals: For this 14 day trip it was three formal nights. A good number - perhaps half - of men at formal nights were in tuxedos or suits; some who did not want to dress up just did not appear for these meals. Considering how the ladies dress up for these meals, I suggest more men who served in the military obtain miniatures of the medals they were awarded and attach them to their tuxes. It's permissible to do so, and the medals do add some color to our basic black tuxedos. Scheduling of the formal nights was odd. We expected they would all be on sea days. Wrong! Two were on port/shore excursion days, and only the third one was on a sea day. 6. Shore Excursions: A word of advice: make your shore excursion reservations on-line! Otherwise you will either have to use the not-so-user-friendly on board TV system to make your reservations or stand in line on board at the excursion counter. The on-line billing goes direct on your credit card and not on your shipboard account. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you don't need the ship's tour office. RCL's tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through the ship's staff, you have support when there is a problem. When making my on-line reservations I ran into one tour that was marked "check on board." I went to the tour desk right after we boarded. Yes, the tour was running. I was able to change around a couple of tours with no problem. These charges and adjustments all appeared on our ship's account. The adjustments for all the cancelled shore excursions when we did not stop in St John's were quickly added to the ship's accounts. There was an Icelandic gentleman on board who lectured on all aspects of Iceland (history, geography, etc) before we arrived. His first session was so interesting that for his second session the theater was packed. Everyone commented on how pleased they were to have heard some, or all, of his lectures. 7. Shipboard entertainment: The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes: sports, lectures, bridge, bingo, etc, etc. Don't forget the rock climbing wall, though because of our weather, I don't know if it was ever open for use. Most days the poolside chairs were lashed down. Some hardy souls continued to use the hot tubs and the pools. On the other hand, the adult solarium pool was quite busy, possibly because it is enclosed. The bits of the evening shows we saw were fine; we heard good reports about them in the Windjammer. The down side appears to have been that the theater was packed every night, and seats were being taken up to 45 minutes before the show. Park West, the bane of many cruise ships, did not have its contract renewed by RCL. Thus, there were no art auctions. This was not a problem as the ship has plenty of art all around the public areas. Instead of art, though, there is plenty of advertising by the ship's spa, which appears to be a franchise. The casino was of good size and the payoffs did not seem to be much worse than Las Vegas. Duty-free liquor on board was reasonable; you order your liquor and it is delivered to your cabin the day before disembarking. If you are flying, though, how do you take it home? There will be plenty of opportunities for you to have your picture taken by the ship's photographers--pricey, but a good souvenir. There are various venues for night owls. 8. Tipping: Not a problem if you sign up for the recommended amounts (for cabin steward, waiter, asst waiter, and head waiter). The amounts are charged to your shipboard account; you receive vouchers and envelopes before the last night on board. Put the vouchers in the (pre-addressed) envelopes, and hand them out. You're done. You only need to tip separately (cash) the person who brings your room service. Your bar bill automatically adds 15 percent. My Time dining raised a question that the Guest Services desk did not really answer. I asked how we tipped the wait staff when we had different staffs. Their solution was for us to tip the staff that waited on us at the last night. "They will take care of it." I hope so, and it may be so. Our nightly table was recorded in the computer, so it would not have been difficult to determine how often which wait staff waited on which passengers. 9. Settling of Accounts: During your cruise, anything you purchase on board (drinks, souvenirs, tours, duty free items, photos, etc) is punched into a computer; you sign one copy of the ticket and you receive a copy. You can track your account on the ship's TV channel. On the last morning you receive a paper final statement of your account. 10. Disembarking in Boston: Your bags have to be out at 11PM, and breakfast is early. You can wait in your cabin until it is time to leave. We ran about an hour late because the customs/immigration officers were late. Added to that was that pier side safety regulations prevented passengers from moving in the baggage area while baggage was still being unloaded and stacked in the building. Immigration procedures were handled on board in the dining room, and customs was handled pier side. Once the officers were set up and the baggage handling was completed, disembarking went pretty quick and smooth. 12. Conclusion: This was an interesting trip. We had a great time in London adjusting to the time difference; the weather was sunny and pleasant. Stops in France and Ireland were equally pleasant. Iceland was fascinating, cold, and a bit wet. Yes, we have our certificates for having crossed the Arctic Circle. As I mentioned at the start, the trip from Iceland to Nova Scotia was long and windy, with high waves (and that was *not* going through the storm!). Nova Scotia was wet. From there to Boston we had to go through another storm. Sigh... Are we glad we made the trip? Definitely yes. Would we do it again? Probably not. Would we take the Jewel again to someplace calmer and warmer? Yes. If anyone has questions, send me an e-mail at LTC519@satx.rr.com. Fred Groth San Antonio, TX Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We found that this experience was both more and less than expected. Good stuff--Crew were fabulous!! Best ever Soda free- but not mixed correctly in fountains. Big shows were fabulous. Cold refridgerators in stateroom-no minibar stuff in ... Read More
We found that this experience was both more and less than expected. Good stuff--Crew were fabulous!! Best ever Soda free- but not mixed correctly in fountains. Big shows were fabulous. Cold refridgerators in stateroom-no minibar stuff in the way. Not so Good--- VERY noisy ship. Everything creeks and groans more than any ship we have been on. The officers do not seem to consider the comfort of the passengers when it sets it policies for maintenance. Every night loud banging and water spray noises from pressure washing etc. We were told they would not stop even though we could not sleep. We were moved to another part of the ship but there were other sounds there so we ended up with a separate inside sleeping room...Not the ship for those with sensitive hearing!!!Also, twice they had a loud get together in the central atrium area which you could hear all the way up the lift shaft at 11pm . We use a scooter and for the tour we couldnot take it so I asked for an electric cart to take my husband down the long pier to the snorkel boat in St. Maarteen. The shore staff person told me there was no help and that we were on our own. After we got to the boat we were told that there is a service by the port for $1.00! She should have known that, it is her job after all. That walk was a struggle and very exhausting for my spine damaged husband. We also found out that we could have borrowed a wheelchair so that I could push him! Food---The gourmet menu in the rotation dinning was basically the same stuff but with slightly different seasonings etc over and over. Also the waiters fuss over you way too much so we ate at the buffet most nights. Problem is it is not a buffet for dinner! It is also only open for two hours and if you want to see the early show and not eat late you have no choice but hot dogs or room service! At least that was good, though limited in choices. Deck 3 and 4 have narrow bottlenecks where there are bars and photo shops in the walkway. Daytime adult fun was limited. We had trivia and game shows but only a few days...TV in the room showed the same movies and comedies both weeks. A change on the second week would have been nice....   Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We booked this cruise for 23 days, but Princess considered it two back to back cruises. That had its advantages and disadvantages. The first cruise, on the 18th of Sept, that went to Vigo Spain, Lisbon Portugal, La Rochelle France, and St. ... Read More
We booked this cruise for 23 days, but Princess considered it two back to back cruises. That had its advantages and disadvantages. The first cruise, on the 18th of Sept, that went to Vigo Spain, Lisbon Portugal, La Rochelle France, and St. Peters Port embarked with no problems. We had sailed on the Grand before, but still wanted to familiarize ourselves with the ship again before heading for the Horizon Court for lunch. It was like coming home. Later that day and all the next day I noticed that there was a long line at the purser's desk. I asked what that was about and was told that they were all cancelling their automatic gratuities. Talking with our room steward, he said that is a common occurrence when the ship leaves Southampton (the Grand's homeport). I just wonder how many people under-tip or don't tip at all. Anyway, the stops were great except for St. Peter's Port which was cancelled due to high winds. We encountered some strike problems (nothing violent) in La Rochelle, but the tours finally went on. One returning bus was delayed by the strikers and didn't get back until 2 hours after our scheduled departure. I expect the Captain wasn't very happy! On the 25th we departed for the crossing to Ft. Lauderdale...the second back to back cruise for us. Most of the Brits had disembarked and were replaced by primarily Americans and Canadians. We stayed on board to avoid the embarking crowds. I guess the embarking was a nightmare with down computers and too many people arriving at the terminal at the same time. The ports were the main reason we booked this cruise. We went to Bergen, Norway, Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, two stops in Iceland (we swam in the thermal pools there!), and on to Sydney, Nova Scotia. It rains 300 days a year in Bergen, but not that day. The only rain we got was in Nova Scotia. INTERNET: Those of us who get free internet were told that we were supposed to get 500 minutes of internet, but in actuality, we only got 400 minutes and even that was a struggle as the system deleted any usable minutes when we started the second cruise and then deleted the entire account. We worked, without much success, with the manager of the Internet Cafe and the Captain's Circle manager, Lola. It was very frustrating, to say the least. DINING: We had traditional dining in the Botticelli dining room with some great table-mates. The service was impeccable, but I found that the food selections had gone downhill from the Princess cruise we took last summer and the eight others that we had taken in the past. As the Grand is usually home-ported in Southampton, maybe the menus changed to accommodate that clientele. Not sure. The food in the Horizon Court was good, but it is always a hassle to find a table. LOUNGES: Our favorite lounge was the Wheelhouse Bar. The place is quiet, intimate, and with great service. They also make great martinis! I just wish that they could have found more peanuts to put on the table. The Skywalker Lounge was a great place to read and just watch the water go by. It was quiet during the day and I understand it was even quiet at night on this trip. Every evening they served tapas and discounted drinks of the day to Platinum and Elite members. Loved that. STATEROOM: Our stateroom, this trip, was an inside one on the Baja Deck. It was perfectly adequate, but we had to ask for a blanket as just the sheet was too cold and the comforter was too warm. Edgar, our room steward, provided great service. ENTERTAINMENT: We passed on some of the entertainment. A couple of times the cruise director, Billy London, had to cancel performances due to the rocking of the ship and schedule something else. Most of the entertainment was adequate to good in my estimation. The ship is old and falling apart. The maintenance crews were busy, but nothing was down enough to inconvenience anybody. You can see lots of wear and tear which is why the ship is scheduled for a 6 week, $60 million dry dock this spring. The Captain stated that we will not recognize the ship when she comes back out. We are looking forward to the first trip out of dry dock. I believe it is scheduled to head back to Southampton on 5 May. NOTE: I noticed that there were more short-tempered passengers on this cruise than on others that we had taken. Spouses were at each other and even strangers were getting testy with other strangers. Most of the passengers were veteran cruisers so there was no explanation (or excuse) for it all. The "Walk-off's" had congregated in the Michelangelo Dining Room for debarkation. When they finally allowed the first group to depart one older man pushed his way to the door and someone pushed him. He came up swinging and apparently connected with the person who pushed him. The fight only lasted seconds, but seems to be typical of the temperament of the people all during the crossing. Maybe these people need to fly next time. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click