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1,779 Repositioning Cruise Reviews

We're Australians in our late 50s with only 5 previous cruises with which to compare (none on this line). Despite negative reviews of this cruise line we sailed with an open mind. As a large proportion of the cabins were balcony type, ... Read More
We're Australians in our late 50s with only 5 previous cruises with which to compare (none on this line). Despite negative reviews of this cruise line we sailed with an open mind. As a large proportion of the cabins were balcony type, there was not a huge premium for one of those. Also because we felt the cabins are fairly small on this ship and with the low price for transatlantic cruises, we booked a balcony cabin. This was the first time we had a balcony cabin and we loved it! On the first day out we met up with Cruise Critic members with who we had been conversing on this website for months before the cruise. As we enjoyed spending a lot of time during the cruise with these 5 couples, the many sea days on this cruise flew by. We also found a couple who wanted to play Samba - our favourite card game. Embarkation: We stayed at Bahia Mar Beach Resort which was conveniently located close to the port. We had a view of the ocean & the ship in the distance. Leaving the hotel at 11 am, we found we were early at the port at Fort Lauderdale. We had to sit for a short while but then the embarkation went smoothly. People who arrived later had no delays at all. Once on board, we found our cabin was ready so we left our hand luggage there and went for lunch. The Ship: The Poesia is truly a beautiful ship. This modern ship is kept spotlessly clean. The theatre was beautiful but had a design fault with the seating. The flip seat bases were sloping downwards causing us to slide forward. The ship is less than 2 years old but was going into dry dock after this cruise so hopefully they will fix the problem. Also the little leg room between the seats became worse in the tiered back section as there was also no foot room below the seats in front. Accommodation: Our balcony cabin on deck 10 was situated just aft of the centre of the ship. Being opposite a popular set of lifts and staircase, we found it handy and there was no noise inside the cabin. The overall size of the cabin is not large, but sufficient for two people and our luggage. The balcony was not large but even when sitting inside on a 2 seater lounge, we had a great view. We liked the convenience of the automatic light above the door which indicated to the staff if the cabin was occupied. Disappointingly at night there was no reading light to use when on the sofa. The space between the wardrobes and the ensuite could have been wider as the wardrobe doors could not be open when using the ensuite. The other let down was the clingy shower curtain. This could have been improved by inserting vertical rods as we have experienced on other ships. The small fridge was handy for keeping our supply of Coke cold. Food & drinks: One of the main criticisms of the Poesia in these reviews has been the food. Overall we found the standard of food and the service in the main dining room to be fine. We realise this is a personal thing but for the price we paid for the cruise we felt we got value for money. Timing the 1st sitting at 5.30 pm was a little early but we still preferred this to the 2nd sitting. We thought it strange that in order to enable all of their guests to experience a gala (formal) night there would not be an alternative offered. We thought that this should be the nights when people who didn't want to dress formal (or didn't have the space for extra clothes where this cruise was part of an extended holiday) could feel comfortable at the self-service buffet on Deck 13. We normally took most of our daytime meals in Le Fontaine restaurant, preferring waiter service to the bustle and noise of the self-service buffet. Also we found the food up there to be often cold and uninspiring. For example; one of our favourite items for breakfast is pancakes. These were disappointing as they were always small, cold, dry & tough at the self-service buffet. We enjoyed the cultural mix of daytime open seating in Le Fontaine - you meet so many interesting people. We certainly did not go hungry. There were several drink packages offered. We chose the soft drink package which consisted of 14 cans at 20% off. This wasn't as good as the Holland America 50% off deal we had previously but was better than other cruise lines. Using vouchers was very convenient and time saving. On this cruise there was always plenty of free water available at the table and tea and coffee was served after both lunch and dinner. Apparently these are not available on MSC cruises in Europe. Staff and service on board: Generally the staff were friendly and polite. Disappointedly the reception and excursion staff were only interested in selling their excursions. There was no port information or maps available, maybe this was due to the nature of a transatlantic cruise. There was a laid-back atmosphere on this ship. As opposed to the NCL ship we sailed on, there were no announcements except for general information from the bridge at 9 am - none of the annoying public address trying to get you to spend money on the ship! Due to the multi-national passengers, most announcements were in 6 languages - English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Lucky for us the largest number of passengers was English speaking so this was used first. Despite having over 2500 passengers, we were never delayed getting on and off the ship at the ports of call - usually there were 3 gangplanks. Service Charges: Like many cruise lines, MSC has a policy of adding a fixed amount per passenger per day, which is added to the bill at the end of the cruise. However, many passengers objected and after a week of the cruise people were given the option to adjust the service charge. The long queues of people at the front desk to have their gratuities amended can be avoided by waiting a couple of days. Entertainment: We enjoyed the shows in the main theatre as we have done on other cruises. These are the highlight of our evening. The types of entertainment are fairly limited on a multi lingual ship but something was offered every evening. The lighting and costumes were spectacular and the performers on the stage worked hard to entertain. With the shows being only 35 minutes long, we would have liked longer shows but they were fast moving with no time wasted. On a couple of nights classical music was presented. The performers were obviously talented but they did not interact with the audience. These show appealed to less passengers. The entertainments director, Anna amazed us with her ability to speak six languages. On one of the sea days we enjoyed a daytime meet and mingle with the entertainers in the theatre. Generally we felt that some of the activities offered by the activities team in the Zebra bar were a little juvenile; however these events were well attended - so in the end it's down to personal preferences. We joined with some of our fellow Cruise Critic friends to form a team with that name for a general knowledge quiz on the 5 sea days across the Atlantic. We enjoyed this activity and were quite successful! Shore Excursions & Destinations: We did not use any of the MSC Excursions as we felt that they were too expensive - as with all other cruise lines. At the ports of call on this cruise we were happy to do our own thing. Armed with maps & information collected before the cruise (supplemented with detailed free local maps picked up on land), we easily explored New York, Ponta Delgada Azores, La Corunna and Dover on foot and with local public transport. In Lisbon and Bilbao we joined with two other passengers whom we had met earlier and used a taxi to do our own tour. With the four of us, the cost was only a fraction of a ship excursion and avoided the delays experienced when on a full coach (and was great fun). At both these ports the ship offered a shuttle service which was overpriced. Disembarkation: This was very quick and efficient at Hamburg as we could just walk off the ship with no passbook checks. There was even a local band to welcome us. Conclusion: We enjoyed this Trans-Atlantic cruise as the positives far outweighed the negatives. MSC proves that you get what you pay for. The sea days were beautifully relaxing, the days in port were fascinating and most of all we had the pleasure to meet some very interesting and delightful people from all walks of life from various countries and cultures. In our opinion the ship itself is excellent and the food, service and entertainment generally satisfactory. Therefore this cruise did represent good value for money. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
This will be a two part review, actually three part. The first part is my review from April 2009 which was the trans-Atlantic on the NOS in April 2009 which goes into detail about the ship. You can read this by clicking ... Read More
This will be a two part review, actually three part. The first part is my review from April 2009 which was the trans-Atlantic on the NOS in April 2009 which goes into detail about the ship. You can read this by clicking http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=55529. This review will be an "update" on the ship and the ports of call. I will do the B2B Med separately. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale rather than Miami as it was cheaper and "bags fly free." Transport from FLL to our hotel, the Miami Marriott Biscayne, was $15 each with SAS (http://ridesas.com). I got the hotel on Priceline for $65 a night. That evening we rode the free monorail (or whatever it is called) to Bayside for a pre-cruise dinner with a group at Bubba Gumps. The monorail station is just a couple of blocks from the hotel. The next day, we took a cab to the port--$11 with tip. Embarkation was as fast as you could walk. Our cabin was an E1, Deck 7, port, forward near the elevators and stairs which is our preference. Our cabin steward was Lily who is probably the best we have ever had. I gave her my "punch list," namely remove things from the mini-bar, deliver two Compass' each night, keep my soft-sided six-pack cooler full of ice, and try to get me an egg crate. She was not successful with the egg crate but did put a blanket under the sheet to try and soften the bed a little because I find beds on Royal Caribbean are harder than I prefer. After lunch, I went to the library to try and get a book since I left mine at home. The library was as sorry as before and picked clean before I got there. However, one of the return book boxes does not have a lock and I got another couple of books later in the cruise by "dumpster diving." Good news on the muster drill. Because of our cabin location, our muster station was the Ixtapa Lounge, and we didn't have to take our life jackets and we could sit. The ship is in pretty good shape considering its age. Hall carpets are pretty worn. Elevators have not improved--still slow, indicator lights not working on a few so you depended on listening to the dings (one ding up, two dings down). Only problem was sometimes, you heard a ding but by the time you figured out which elevator it was, it had left. We, also, learned that the elevators on the starboard side midship were a little quicker than on the port side because only the port side midship elevators go to Deck 14. This requires more stops taking longer to make a "round trip." One elevator was out of order the entire cruise. Upholstery was worn in the public rooms. I wish I could say the food has improved. Steaks were still tough with the exception of the filet. Menus were the same as the trans-Atlantics the previous couple of years. It appeared to me that they have cut back on selections in the Windjammer but there was still plenty of food. They opened a separate dining room for Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Suites for breakfast which was very nice. You were seated as you came in and your order taken—did not have to wait for the table to fill. I think the ratio of servers to guests was higher, because it seemed to go faster than in the MDR. They have changed the breakfast menu with a "special" every day. No eggs benedict but they would get them for you if you asked. Specialty coffee was available gratis in the Diamond breakfast room. On the last day of the first half of our B2B, we were curtly told that the Diamond dining room was only available for suite passengers and escorted to the regular dining room even though there were only four people in it with several servers standing around picking their fingernails. We ate one meal in Chops and it was outstanding—so much food, so little time and "stomach" room (lol). Note: Ask for a table away from the greeting desk. Noise from the WJ filters through the thin wall. We requested a large table at late seating. We asked for late seating because the past couple of times they have moved the early seating up from 6:00 p.m. to 5:30 which is too early particularly if they move the clocks up at noon rather than at night which has also happened on the past couple of cruises. We were assigned an eight top by the window. They did move the seatings up, so our late seating was at 8:00 rather than 8:30. On our last few cruises, there have always been a couple of seats that were never occupied but assigned.. Again, we had Mr. and Mrs. Nobody at our table. Looking around, it was not unusual to see a table set for several but only one or two couples there. More and more people are opting for the WJ rather than the dining room. Our window seat did offer us a couple of nice sunset views. Our waiter and assistant waiter were very personable and capable. We wish we could have had them on the B2B, too. They had little tent signs in the WJ asking you to please release your table when you finished eating. On the previous TA they had the same thing only it said if you wanted to play cards, etc., to go to the Swan dining room. This time the sign did not say that so several tables were tied up with people playing cards or games. People are getting wise to the high entry fees and low pay outs in Bingo. They canceled the game one day when not enough people bought in to make the profit margin the ship wanted. The next day they only played one game, cover all, and guaranteed $100 prize money. They did not have hand-held electronic thingees so it was a more level playing field. I think it was $32. On the day they only had one game, they only charged $22. We are big trivia players. They had a progressive trivia game in the Ixtapa Lounge. Plenty of room for the teams of six. The host used power point which eliminated dealing with foreign accents, repeating of questions, and Power Point allowed visual questions which added to the variety and type of trivia questions which could be asked. The regular trivia games were held two or three times a day in the Schooner Bar which doesn't come close to accommodating all those that want to participate. You needed to get there at least half an hour early to get a seat, or, in some cases, standing room. Most of the evening games were musical. Prizes were not good. We gave most of ours away if we won How many luggage tags, pens, magnets do you need? They roped off the first three rows of the balcony in the main showroom for the suites. If they weren't filled when the show was about to begin (and they weren't most of the time), they lowered the ropes for everyone. People "in the know" would line up behind the ropes when they could see the seats weren't nearly filled. If you do this, go for the third row rather than the first two because the bar in front of the balcony can partially obstruct your view of the stage. We never had any problem getting balcony seats the few times we went and only once ran into a chair saver. The televisions were not flat screen and the programming was the pits. While they had movies for free (pay per view was available) you couldn't find out what they were or when they would be shown. It was catch as catch can. Same movies were shown over and over again. If you came into it in the middle, you could maybe catch the first part later. Ozzie and Harriet were back. The news programming was the same thing, repeats several days old in some instances, with only a little ticker running across the bottom with anything current. Forget about sports although I did catch the last two minutes of the final playoff game between the Thunder and the Lakers that was shown in a re-run at 8:00 a.m. Oh how I miss the daily news recap they took away. About the time change—an evil necessity on trnas-Atlantics. This time they moved the clocks up at 3:00 a.m. rather than noon which had been the case on our two previous eastbound TA's. The bar servers weren't real happy with losing an hours worth of tips when it was moved up at noon. I figure the ship losing an hour of "prime time" selling things to the passengers factored in to the decision, too. The losers were the crew that lost an hour's sleep every night. This cruise had a little different itinerary than our previous trans-Atlantics. Our first port was Tenerife, Canary Islands, which we have been to several times. We took public transportation to a delightful little town called La Laguna about half an hour away. It was Sunday so not much open but we enjoyed getting away from the hustle and bustle and on terra firma after a week at sea. Next port was Barcelona. We have been there several times so we opted for a ship's tour to Montserrat. I do not like ship's tours but couldn't find any takers for a private tour. This tour reminded me why I don't like ship's tours. A drive through Barcelona pointing out some sights (but not La Familia) and a pretty drive up to Montserrat which a good tour guide. Once there, however, time was very limited. The guide led us to the church and pointed out features along the way. The "highlight" at the church is a black Madonna. However, to get close to it was a long line (estimated time half an hour) so there wasn't time to do that. They said in the description you could opt to ride a funicular to the very top, but, again, not enough time. They, also, had a museum but—you guess it—not enough time to really give it its due. We should have taken the advice of several people on cruise critic and done it on our own. Much cheaper and we would have had time to do everything. I just get nervous when we get more than 30 miles out of town on my own for fear I won't get back to the ship on time. In Villefranche, I arranged a private tour for eight of us with Revelation Tours. It included a stop at the market in Nice, then on to St. Paul de Vence where we had time for lunch and to stroll the quaint streets and really nice shops—not your tacky souvenir stands. From there to Monte Carlo and Monaco and finally Eze. Our driver was excellent, spoke English fluently, and gave us a wonderful tour. The best part is the price was about half of what the ship wanted and we saw a lot more than any of the ship's tours offered. We paid 125 euros (approx. $156) a couple. The ship wanted prices of $159 per person and up depending on the tour and none went to all five places that we did. The last port was Livorno which was a jumping off place for tours to Florence and Pisa. Having been to both places and ready for a rest after the long day before, we did not plan anything other than to walk around the village, stretch our legs, and maybe find an internet cafe. Worked out well because the weather was not good—chilly and rainy. So, we got our shuttle tickets refunded and enjoyed having a sea day in port. Finally, into Rome or, more accurately, Civitavecchia, the port. There had been a great deal of anxiety among the passengers toward the end of the cruise because of the volcano fall out from Iceland. People had no idea whether their flights were going or not, delayed or not. The television reports were more "doom and gloom" than anything positive. The on-board internet connection was their usual slower than molasses in January if you didn't get thrown off just about the time you got to where you wanted to go. On the good side, most were staying in Rome or environs for a few days giving them a chance to work things out rather than arriving at the airport and finding their flight not going and hotel rooms not available. A friend of ours who had a flexible schedule inquired about continuing on the ship only to find that the price for an inside was half again what he paid for his balcony coming over. We were very glad that we had 12 days more on the ship which, hopefully, would give the volcano time to straighten things out. Note: the ship wanted $91 per person to get to the airport, he went with a group that arranged transport for $23. The group was formed while on the cruise so it wasn't a situation of having to book it out way ahead of time. While others were scrambling around, we took our dirty clothes to a laundramat in town and did wash, located an internet cafe, and hit an ATM. The weather was off and on drizzle. Other notes: On Sea days they had lectures on digital photography and genealogy. Unfortunately, the venues assigned were too small to accommodate all those that wanted to attend. Also, the timing was bad—late afternoon—which made it difficult for those that had early seating on formal nights. They, also, had a lady doing silhouettes for FREE. Really free, no little discrete sign saying "gratuities would be appreciated." Again, venue not really good and a lot of takers so not everyone could be accommodated that would like to have been. We ended up having to put our name on a list to be taken care of the following day. It was a nice souvenir to take home with us. I will continue the B2B portion in a separate review. Any questions, our e-mail address is whitlock@alumni.utexas.net. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Have cruised with Celebrity, R Caribbean, Costa and Princess, so have some reference points - ship is a bit tired, passengers almost entirely Brits, and although my wife and I had a great holiday, the frills were definitely missing. Some ... Read More
Have cruised with Celebrity, R Caribbean, Costa and Princess, so have some reference points - ship is a bit tired, passengers almost entirely Brits, and although my wife and I had a great holiday, the frills were definitely missing. Some good points - smooth crossing and reasonable weather; main dining room food and service excellent; usual stuff like newsletter of daily activities provided and quite a lot to do (essential of course for transatlantic) Lots of minor reservations on quality - self service food choice limited; speciality restaurant not impressive - more of a bistro; entertainment patchy in quality, and choreography/costumes for shows not up to competitors; staff attentive but glum; room service limited, often with extra charges; some localised maintenance lacking such as torn seats, toilet fittings and lights not operational, rusty spots on bulkheads on balcony, unvarnished handrails Just to add to things, there was a norovirus outbreak on board, with rigorous quarantine and sterilisation programmes from day one - all passengers in affected cabins (not just ill person)strictly quarantined to cabin for days - self service closed for several days. Anyone who had to visit the ship`s doctor was quick to express surprise at the level of (immediate)charges, and sometimes also the overzealous diagosis/treatment. This is not necessarily a criticism - better safe than sorry - but be aware. Computer system broke down for boarding, so long queues in a warehouse in the heat, after a wait in the bus due to multiple simultaneous flight arrivals. Balcony limited in size and is hole in bulkhead rather than glass like more modern ships. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Having made our own way to Sao Paulo, we caught up with the RCI rep at the airport and were advised when the bus transfer would commence. Although this was another hour to wait, the rep explained the choice was either to wait at the ... Read More
Having made our own way to Sao Paulo, we caught up with the RCI rep at the airport and were advised when the bus transfer would commence. Although this was another hour to wait, the rep explained the choice was either to wait at the airport or at the cruise terminal as boarding would not commence until 11am. The bus journey took just under a couple of hours but we were pleasantly surprised by some of the breathtaking scenery that appeared about an hour into the journey. They area is clearly busy, but the dual carriageway road network helped keep traffic moving well without impetuous drivers risking overtaking. This seemed commonplace throughout our various ports of call. Having pre-registered online, the check-in process was relatively quick and painless, although we had to fill in the credit paperwork manually, despite having done so online - one of those unnecessary frustrations after 18+ hours of travelling. We then were transported to the ship but could not access the cabins (or staterooms as they call them) until 1pm. Then there was the frustrating wait for cases to be delivered to the rooms. One suggestion would be to make sure that you access your cases before checking in and getting a change of clothes etc. We soon met our room attendant, who was very pleasant, as were all the staff. We reported a flickering light and were delighted to find it had been repaired by the time we returned later in the afternoon. We had a problem with the room safe later in the cruise, and this was sorted within 15mins. The attendant was always smiling, very efficient, and left varying towel decorations every other night. Wet/dirty towels were replaced twice a day whether you wanted then changed or not. Despite being due to go into dry dock next year, the 14 year old ship seemed to be well maintained, and there was always someone with a paintbrush in their hand! There was regular entertainment around the open air pool, and many people took part in the various games that the team arranged. The solarium pool generally seemed cool due to air conditioning, but at least it was guaranteed to be wind free. That said, it was popular and had its own bar and hot snacks area. We regularly used the aft deck for sunbathing, as it was generally shaded, and quiet, although the music was occasionally played when the climbing wall was in use. The top deck was well used by those undertaking their daily constitutional walk - 4laps/mile! There were several days when we were sailing into strong head winds which meant that there was a combined wind speed of 60+mph!! There was a good range of exercise equipment which was was very well used, especially on sea days. Each evening before dinner we enjoyed a cocktail in the schooner bar. The staff were very nice and chatty, and there was usually a guitarist, or pianist playing. Constantine arranged the my time dining table allocations wonderfully efficiently, and apart from the first couple of evening we just turned up as and when we were ready. We were free to choose to sit alone, or with English speaking guests. We were happy with the flexibility and with the people that Constantine sat us with, especially as we did sit with some of them more than once. The restaurant staff were very helpful and accommodating, the choice of meals fair, and well presented. One frustration that we had was having to sign for drinks as we ordered them, rather than waiting till the end of the meal. We commented on this on the mid cruise questionnaire, and were pleasantly surprised when it was commented on by Constantine and the head waiter. For the rest of the cruise we signed at the end of the meal! :) The meals in the buffet style windjammer restaurant were wide ranging and always freshly restocked. The biggest problem was finding a table at times, but turnover was quite quick. Occasionally there were lunchtime barbeques, or paella, around the open air pool and they always proved popular. The Captain made daily announcements about weather, sea conditions, and progress which were very informative. The six days crossing the Atlantic were not too bumpy, and broken up by passing archipelago Fernando de Noronha and Cape Verde. The only other thing we saw was a flock of albatross that flew alongside the ship till the equator. As for entertainment generally, it either suited or it didn't (a Spanish Elvis was not our taste!). It was always varied, and there was no show without Claudia, the cruise director! The shows in the theatre were always professionally presented. There was a lot of promotion of art sales, and bingo, neither of which appealed to us We did go on a couple of shore excursions which were well organised, but we did our own thing on Madeira, and enjoyed the experience much more cheaply. Tips were prepaid, and although there was supposed to be a 15% service charge added to each bill (we were still on Brazilian mode and didn't get charged), there was the opportunity to add a further tip when signing! All in all we thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and staff did everything they could to make sure that we did so. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
The embarkation was well organised and the Mini Suite was in line with most other cruise lines Balcony cabins. Good clean furnishings and attentive cabin staff, plus fresh fruit and chocolates on arrival. Cabin was on Starboard side past ... Read More
The embarkation was well organised and the Mini Suite was in line with most other cruise lines Balcony cabins. Good clean furnishings and attentive cabin staff, plus fresh fruit and chocolates on arrival. Cabin was on Starboard side past midships and closer to bow. There was more than ample storage space for a nearly three week cruise. Bathroom was shower bath combo and was roomy, Cabin was adequate with enough room for two. Would be a bit of a squeeze fro one or two extra guests using the fold out sofa bed. Balcony had room for two chairs and table -- not large enough to have a deck chair or chairs. Door was very hard to open and close. Soundproofing was good.Food was reasonable and 95% of the time quite tasty though did have problem with "chewy" meat on two occasions. Big upset for us, and the four others at our table was having to pay for bottled water with meals when other cruise lines supply copious quantities free of charge. There is no Coin op laundry on board which meant that majority of passengers washed in hand basins and hung up in bathroom or out on balcony. Reason costs through ships laundry pretty excessive. Breakfast was same foods every day, and the "bacon" was not very tasty and far too fatty. Other meals did have some variety and the chefs excelled with seafoods. The variety show each night tended to bore as was same artists revamped with emphasis on Classical music. With so many nationalities on board the announcement all in six languages. Alternative entertainment was limited but the Entertainment crew were very talented in creating some funny shows out of low cost props, and use of mime --overcomes all languages -- tremendous effort. This is a 3 to 3.5 star ship and consequently what you save on fare means less benefits than the higher star lines. MSC should advise passengers in their brochures that they do provide Transfers (at a reasonable cost)from Genoa Port to Genoa Airport, Milan and Nice Airports. Overall a value for money cruise. One area of discontent was the organisation of shore excursions. After purchasing excursion tickets we had to meet at certain areas on day of excursion to obtain Stickers with Tour No. then be escorted to bus/coach. At every port this was chaos with delays occurring. MSC seriously need to streamline this process by giving Tour No. stickers with Tickets as current situation too time wasting and frustrating to passengers. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
This was our first 'proper' cruise with P&O, we have previously cruised with Royal Caribbean (to the Caribbean and Alaska) and have done weekenders on the Oceana and NCL. Ventura is a beautiful ship. The staff are immaculate ... Read More
This was our first 'proper' cruise with P&O, we have previously cruised with Royal Caribbean (to the Caribbean and Alaska) and have done weekenders on the Oceana and NCL. Ventura is a beautiful ship. The staff are immaculate and very helpful and courteous. I felt she lacked the initial wow factor when we boarded, however she is modern, elegantly furnished and there are some lovely areas that have been very well designed. the Atrium was smaller than I expected having seen photo's but was a lovely place to wander and people watch! Ventura seems to do a good job at catering for most people most of the time. There is the Exchange 'pub' for quizzes, karaoke , bands etc for those who want a lively entertained holiday but also bars like Metropolis which is calm and sophisticated with a pianist at certain times. One of the weakest areas of the ship is the outside space (or lack of it). There are just too many passengers for the space available. There are just hundreds and hundreds of sun beds filling every single corner of available space, and as soon as the sun came out they were all full - or reserved!! There were no clear walkways so it was virtually impossible to get from one end to the other. You could usually find a sun bed, it was just a case of picking your way through the crowds. We headed right to the front and sat in the semi shade of the old sports court which was very pleasant. Another weak point in my opinion was the casino. It was just small and drab. There were a couple of gaming tables and a very small area with lots of fruit machines and stools all crammed in which was also a walkway through. It is also adjacent to the pub and when something was going on in there the noise completely dominated the casino. Not good. We spent very little time and consequently very little money in there because of this. Our room was lovely, clean and tidy, well fitted out and kept spotless morning and evening - thank you Pascoal. I was surprised on the rest of the ship about the lack of enforcement of the use of hand gels. There were a couple (some not working) in the self serve area and that was it. You were not required to do it entering the dining rooms, re-boarding the ship etc, no wonder we all had colds and coughs by the second week. The food was superb all over the ship. The self service was excellent, always something different to try, we tended to go outside peak times to avoid the queues. The Saffron main dining room was also excellent, Bonny and Peter looked after us very well. Lunch and afternoon tea were also very good, possibly a little rushed but very nice. East - the Asian fusion restaurant was absolutely outstanding. The whole thing was superb from start to finish. We went twice in the evening and once for a curry lunch. Well worth every penny of the small supplement. The White Room - the food was very nice, the service was good but it all just seemed to lack something. We ordered 'Medallions of beef with rocket' which in fact translated to steak with lettuce on top. It was a nice evening but I didn't really think it warranted the much larger supplement. I felt that the entertainment was a little regimented, it was always the same band in the same bar at the same time every night. They never rotated. the Entertainment Team for me were not very entertaining or visible. If you like doing quizzes with your morning pint you were fine! There was only two hosted sail away parties the whole two weeks - we were all up on deck - where were they??? Overall we had a good cruise on a nice ship. It was all a bit 'British' for my taste. I quite like the mixture of Americans and Europeans you get on other lines, it makes it feel more like a holiday. I would cruise with P&O again and possibly on Ventura but only to the Baltic's or Fjords where sun beds would not be an issue. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Ok, I'm giving this cruise 4 out of 5, so don't get my negatives below out of proportion. THE GOOD: Food (oh the food!), dining room service, the ship's "bridge" officers, bar staff, housekeeping. Cabin. The ... Read More
Ok, I'm giving this cruise 4 out of 5, so don't get my negatives below out of proportion. THE GOOD: Food (oh the food!), dining room service, the ship's "bridge" officers, bar staff, housekeeping. Cabin. The weather. Unbelieveable value for money (even the arranged flights were a bargain). The sea surface (a doddle). Embarkation. The ship: easily big enough, and beatifully maintained. Most ports of call: Maderia: clean, safe, beautiful. Santa Cruz: bustling Spanish city; get out of town. Recife: Now we're in Brazil. Keep your expectations low. Beach reminded me of Waikiki. Salvador. Loved it. Take the little ferry to the island with all the locals. Rio de Janeiro. More than I'd imagined - in the toursit areas, any way. Beaches to die for. THE BAD: Cruise director. Ugh what a pain, so out of her depth, she was nausiating. Final port: Santos / Sao Paulo. Don't go here if you don't have to. Nothing of merit, lots and lots of squalour and crime. Incessant on-board announcements of BEENGOH! Look, no-one was showing up, so do they cancel it? No, they bring it to the pool area! Puleeze! The UGLY: Without doubt the worst department, by far, was Guest Services. It would take me an age to list all the problems that they created / ignored / refused to fix / denied existed. Not just passengers were fed up with the Purser's office staff. I won't name them, but several crew had given up on these people by the end of the cruise. "You have to do this" "You have to do that". "It's not possible". You know the litany of cover-up phrases that inept people - a whole department - uses. "Oh, that form should have been delivered to your cabin". The times I heard that. I'm an accountant so I know how such an office should be run. But anything they got involved with was a shambles. The blatant erros in the daily planner, "Compass" became an ongoing joke. I hope the powers at RCI HQ get to read this. Please, do yourselves and your future passengers a big favour - dump the lot of them. Put someone in charge who can manage people and get things done - properly, first time. When you think that their work spills over into security: immigration forms that either didn't exist or were not needed, it starts to get a little frightening. Rant over. I'm now going to return to my overall score: 4 out of 5 (it would have been five but for you-know-who). Notwithstanding, we had a great time and have wonderful memories of all the friends we made on board - guests and staff. Thanks to you for making it a great vacation. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Azamara Journey Transatlantic December 4 - 18, 2009 Air: We were fortunate enough to be able to use employee passes to travel from Los Angeles to Houston to Amsterdam. The "non-rev" gods were with us and both flights were ... Read More
Azamara Journey Transatlantic December 4 - 18, 2009 Air: We were fortunate enough to be able to use employee passes to travel from Los Angeles to Houston to Amsterdam. The "non-rev" gods were with us and both flights were made in the forward cabin. Nearly 40 years of seniority does have its rewards. We spent two great days in Amsterdam (NH Amsterdam Centre Hotel) before again flying on passes on KLM to BCN. On board with had excellent service in the economy cabin on an immaculate airplane. Sandwiches and complimentary wine were served. We were were lucky enough to have a seat mate who lives in Sitges but who had worked for HP in the Bay Area for years. He gave us lots of advice on things to see and do in Barcelona. We hope to follow his tips for exploration beyond the city next time. Barcelona: Upon arrival at the stunning new terminal at BCN we fairly quickly picked up our checked bags and took the Aerobus into the city. Fare was 5 euros pp payable in cash to the driver. The busses are new and the service is fast and dependable. We got off at Placa Catalunya and had an easy two and a half block walk to our hotel. We had booked rooms online at Hotel Onix Ramblas. This hotel is a jewel located a couple of blocks above Placa Catalunya. It is a small property (perhaps 40 rooms) but the rooms are large and comfortable. A full buffet breakfast was included in the 80 euro per day rate (for a "Shhh" room located on the back of the hotel overlooking the terrace.). Breakfast included scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, pastries, yogurt, cerals, fruit, coffee/tea/cocoa. There was also free internet access in the room but no wi-fi. We used the red "Hop On/Hop Off" busses to get acquainted with the city. The blue busses run similar routes but the hotel had coupons that basically gave us a second day free on the red. We also booked a walking tour of the Gothic Quarter through the tourist service at Placa Catalunya. Our four days in this incredible city went far too quickly. We ate well, drank well, and saw as much as we could in the limited time we had. We will be back! Boarding: Our time in Barcelona came to an end far too soon but we were ready to head to the ship. Two friends joined us for what turned out to be a 45 euro cab ride to the port. That included asking for a mini-van, luggage charges, port charges and a tip. It was worth it! (As a bonus I finally got to speak some Spanish. I found that people in Barcelona either wanted to speak English or Catalan.) We arrived at the port at about 11:30AM and there was virtually nobody in the boarding area. Checking our bags (even without preprinted tags) took less than five minutes and the actual process of getting our Sea Pass cards took another ten. (Another reviewer had a problem with only getting one leather card holder. We had the nicer soft leather ones from Celebrity so were not bothered by this. We also were not bothered by being asked for a credit card to cover onboard charges. This is pretty much standard procedure with cruise lines or hotels world wide and is spelled out in the pre-boarding documents.) We were greeted by two ships officers and champagne. We were also directed to a desk where we were able to leave our carryons. They were delivered to our cabins later. We did a quick walk around the ship and were impressed by the maintenance and decor. This was our first time on a smaller ship and it felt much like we would imagine being on some wealthy person's private yacht. They were in the process of putting up Holiday decorations with two Christmas trees in the main foyer and a Menorah. We had a light lunch at the buffet and Bloody Marys and headed to our cabin when they were announced as being ready at 1:30PM. Cabin: We were in Stateroom 7020, a category 2A balcony on the port side just forward of the forward elevators/stairs. This was very convenient and we used the stairs more than we would on a larger ship and seldom had a very long wait for the elevator. We were usually alone in the elevators. That doesn't happen much on larger ships. We had been forewarned by friends who had sailed on Journey and by postings on Cruise Critic that the cabins might seem small. While they are smaller than what you might be used to they are laid out very well. We made a few small adjustments (put the balcony table crosswise and it works much better!) and were quickly settled in. The beds were comfortable, the service from our "Butler", Derrick, was unobtrusive, and we generally were as pleased as we have been in any cabin on any ship. There was a nice gift of a tote bag waiting for us and two bottles of Champagne. Neither had cards but we think we sorted it out. Main Dining Room: We had no trouble getting a nice table for four for dinner when we arrived at the Main Dining Room. There were a few glitches (Menus were not correct. The "Everyday" side was for the wrong day on two of the menus. This only affects the featured wines and this caused a problem with an inexperienced wine server.) The food that night and on subsequent nights was very good to excellent. We tended to end up with the same servers on many nights and they quickly knew what our tastes were. One of the sommeliers, "Mac" should be especially recognized. She not only knows wine and people but has a great sense of humor! We did note that there didn't seem to be a lot of coordination of service. On several occasions we had two different people ask us what drinks we wanted. The service areas didn't seem to be very well defined. (Inconsistency was a problem in other areas as well. At the CC gathering some people were able to get complimentary cocktails and others weren't . The "Loyalty Ambassador" didn't seem to have a clear understanding of what was expected at these events. You could ask two different people the same question and get two different answers. Perhaps there were staff that were new to the ship and the company?) A hint: We never had to wait long for a table in the MDR. The secret, we think, is to go at an off time, e.g., 7:15PM as opposed to 7:00PM or 7:30PM. And it doesn't hurt to establish a relationship with the folks at the front desk early on. Buffet: The Buffet at dinner (we tried it twice) was generally a disappointment. It seems to be a training ground. The staff was anxious to please but really didn't have a great deal of knowledge of food or service. Choices were limited with some being left over from lunch. It seemed to us that the only way to get good fresh green vegetables was to go to the stir fry station. There were, however, a couple of good wines offered as nightly specials at $5.00 a glass. We especially enjoyed the Portuguese Red. Lunch was usually good to very good. By combining choices from the Pool Grill and the buffet we never felt that we missed a good meal! Room Service: We used Room Service mostly for breakfast. The food quality was usually quite good but there was a real problem with getting the orders right. Much of the problem seems to be with ordering anything outside the "tick the box" menu. Each morning we ordered virtually the same thing. "Two orders of two poached eggs on wheat toast". Some days we got six eggs, some three, some days on toast, some days not. When we mentioned this we got an immediate call from the manager of room service and an offer of a bottle of sparkling wine in our cabin or at dinner. (We demurred but ended up with both!) We enjoyed sharing the wine but the eggs never were right.. Perhaps they need to go to an extended menu with places to check what your want as Celebrity does in Concierge Class. On two occasions we used the Interactive menu on the TV to order lunch/mid-day snacks. The service was very slow on one day (45 minutes to be delivered) but quick (20 minutes) the next. The food quality was excellent. We never used the interactive menu to order from the Main Dining Room menu and were not aware that that was an option. We did speak with one person who asked their butler to get them a copy of the main dining room menu and they ordered from that by phone. Specialty Restaurants: We ate in Aqualina once. it was a very good meal. Service was a bit confused but that didn't detract from the experience. We ate in Prime C four times and each time was outstanding. The food is wonderful and the service impeccable. The Bartender is from the "Old School". He knows his liquor and he knows what service and hospitality are. He also did a great job of keeping us happy during the morning cooking demonstrations. We never had difficulty getting into Prime C. One night we ate, by choice, at one of the bar tables. Spa: When we did a tour of the Spa area before sailaway my partner bought a package that was to allow access to the Spa, one of the 29 private lounges and use of a private whirlpool tub. It quickly became obvious that the tub was not working properly. Only one of the jets was working and it was never really hot. After speaking to three different staff members in the Spa an agreement was reached where they refunded the unused days (9). We spoke with at least one other person who had the same problem and was, finally, able to resolve it in the same manner. The Sauna was never turned on or hot until well after the Spa opened in the morning. Activities: We were, much like a previous reviewer, disappointed in BINGO. We ONLY play on ships! We played only one game on this cruise after we discovered that it would be $20.00 for a single game and that the prize would only be paid if a full black out was completed in 42 numbers or less. When I asked if all the games would be that way the only answer I got was "That's how we do it here". They need to see how things are done at RCL or Celebrity. More games and a few simple prizes bring in large crowds (and more revenue). We had a lot of fun playing Trivia on the sea days. There were, predictably, a few people who took it way too seriously. The staff, though, made it lots of fun and we made some good friends as we played. We also participated in several other games and enjoyed them. This was the first time we encountered the system of having an activity card signed to get prizes at the end of the cruise. Why not just give a few simple prizes (caps, key chains, pens, tee shirts) as other cruise lines do? I misplaced my card early on so don't really know what the prizes were. Entertainment: This is not a big ship so you really can't expect "spectacular" entertainment. There was some very good music and several good variety acts. Think "Cabaret". A real highlight was the staff talent show. Internet: We brought our laptop and used it to receive e-mail and then to send messages composed off line. We had no trouble at all using it in the cabin. The shipwide wi-fi worked well for us. We did not use the full amount of time we purchased. We did hear some people who were unhappy with the "free" minutes offered to Elite members requiring a purchase of time. My understanding is that this was waived on an individual basis. Ports: All of the ports, except Gibraltar, were new to us. We enjoyed each in its own way. We did a mix of independent tours and ship's tours. Probably the highlight was the ship's tour of Gibraltar which included a wonderfully gifted guide. She made the history and life of this "bit of England" come alive for us as we wandered through the tunnels and paths of "The Rock". Shopping is not high on our list of activities but we found places that were open in each port. The exception was probably Gibraltar where we were picked up at the entrance to the dock and returned there and really didn't have much time in the town itself. It was nice to have Coco Cay to ourselves. When the weather took a turn for the worse we were very impressed by the ability of the Captain and crew getting us all safely back on board early. Disembarkation: This was probably the smoothest we have ever seen. We were off the ship early and had our bags in hand in about fifteen minutes. Sadly, a serious weather front was moving over Miami and we, like many others, had substantial delays getting out of town. Over All Impression: This was a very good cruise and we want to thank the Officers and crew of Journey for being so visible and available. You made 14 days pass very quickly. Philip Herbert, the Hotel Director, is a true professional. Captain Theo is a Captain I would go anywhere with. Lisa and the galley staff do an incredible job of feeding some very demanding people. Richard, the Food and Beverage Manager is a remarkable young man. The size of this ship is probably its strongest point. It took us a couple of days to change our usual habit of leaving ten to fifteen minutes early for activities, dinner, etc. Nothing was very far from any location on board. The Specialty Restaurants which, at this time, were complimentary were especially enjoyed. We always doubled the suggested tip. That said, however, there really wasn't a tremendous difference in the service levels from what we have experienced on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Holland-America. It will be interesting to see what the new, "improved" Azamara Club Cruises is like. We would miss the complimentary specialty restaurants. The complimentary house wine at dinner and lunch will be a function of how good a selection there is. We are also interested in how the new "Club Voyage" (The name seems a tad pretentious.) compares with Captains Club. Will we still enjoy Elite Status? Will the onboard ammenities be raised to match those on Celebrity and the Diamond level at Royal Caribbean? Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We have never had a bad cruise and this one on the Equinox was no exception there were lots of things we thoroughly enjoyed and some things not so much. I suppose a Trans Atlantic cruise always seems like an adventure but this, our fourth, ... Read More
We have never had a bad cruise and this one on the Equinox was no exception there were lots of things we thoroughly enjoyed and some things not so much. I suppose a Trans Atlantic cruise always seems like an adventure but this, our fourth, more so as it was the first Trans Atlantic of a new ship, the Equinox, only the second in her class. To add to this sense of adventure an excellent lecture series on the voyage by marine historian David Perry focused around the Titanic, a ship lost on her first Trans Atlantic crossing. Till these lectures we never knew so many movies had been made about the Titanic, something like fourteen, I think, including "A Night To Remember", "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" and most recently "Titanic". Happily, there was no such drama on this voyage on a very southerly crossing far away from any possibility of icebergs; to the contrary it was smooth sailing, calm sea and fair weather all the way. However it made some of us pause, when on the last day of the cruise, the Captain in his noon announcement from "the ships navigational bridge" wished us "A Night To Remember"! We arrived in Rome by air the day before the cruise and had arranged for Rome Cabs to pick us up and take us to the port of Civitavecchia, this was our second time using this company and again the service was faultless. Our hotel, the Traiano was full with people sailing on the Equinox and one of our Cruise Critic group had arranged for them to provide a cocktail party for us which they did free of charge even though there were a number of fellow cruisers there who were staying at other local hotels. We were greatly impressed by the Traiano especially when, after the ship sailed, I realized I was missing some important documents. After searching everything again and again I e-mailed the hotel and they responded immediately that they had found my stuff and would mail it to our home. I thanked them profusely and offered to pay any cost but they wouldn't hear of it, the documents got home before we did. Hotel Traiano stands very high in our estimation and we would recommend it to anyone sailing from Civitavecchia. The hotel's free shuttle got us to the ship just on noon and we were on board with a glass of Champagne in hand before we knew it, our most efficient embarkation ever! By the time we had some lunch our cabin was ready and our luggage arrived shortly thereafter a good start and very efficient for such a big ship. Our cabin in Aqua Class (1599) had one of the larger hump balconies equipped with a table and two very comfortable deck chairs with foot stools. We liked the cabin layout a lot and not having the wardrobe doors opposite the bathroom is great as it saves a lot of collisions. Also the little extra width is nice as two people can pass at the end of the bed, which was comfortable. The new bathroom layout with sliding glass shower doors and non fog mirror is a big improvement. Our only minuses for the cabin was the lack of drawer space and the above bed storage which is less than convenient also the nice big couch was rendered virtually useless by being the only place to store four of our six pillows, four cushions and the bed mat. Does anybody need all those pillows? By the end of the cruise we had finally got used to the outward opening cabin door so, on our next cruise in January on a non Solstice class ship we will have to get used to inward opening all over again! The interactive flat screen TV with its multitude of music channels, ability to check your bill, order room service or photos and display the ship's position was nice. I believe news and on demand movies were also available but this is not a facility we use on vacation. Aqua Class comes with iced tea, bottled water, fruit basket and canapEs provided daily, all nice touches, but after a few days we began to think that by the end of the cruise we wouldn't be able to get in to the cabin as the bottles of water piled up! Interestingly the canapEs omitted the stale bread that we had previously experienced in Concierge class, a definite improvement. This first Aqua Class experience was chosen having enjoyed the Persian Gardens and the specialty restaurants on Millennium class ships and, equating Blu to a specialty restaurant, here was an opportunity to have both included in the price, sounded like a no brainer. When we booked Blu was offered as fixed seating only which we have previously enjoyed with a large table of people you got to know during the cruise. However this cruise became the first where Blu swapped to all flexible dining, this worked very well, we turned up when it suited us and never had to wait for a table. Although we were not happy with the change in all honesty the flexible arrangement was better suited to Blu as it is laid out with only two of the big round tables for eight that we like and the rest are mostly tables for two that can be pushed together for fours or sixes. Most of the tables for two are very close together which does not provide the ambiance that would be expected in an up market restaurant. We enjoyed breakfast in Blu and the wait staff was excellent always very willing to please. However for us dinner was a big disappointment, firstly because it was a less leisurely service than we prefer (usually out in less than an hour and a half), hot dishes at times were served cold and we also found more dishes we simply didn't like than ever before (very subjective, I know). Please understand there was never a problem having anything we didn't like replaced promptly and with good grace, but cold food in that sort of restaurant I find inexcusable. Our other disappointment was the Persian Gardens on this ship, none of the dim lighting and oriental atmosphere here rather very bright with big windows facing the front of the ship and very clinical blue and white tiles. The big windows worked in the main room which was equipped with sculpted individual heated loungers, unfortunately some passengers must not have had beds in their cabins as they chose to sleep there and the sound of multiple people snoring did impair the ambiance! The aroma therapy room and steam room also featured these big windows, to what end I am unsure, as they were constantly steamed up. A really nice feature that came with Aqua class or spa treatments was the relaxation room, with again big windows looking out the front of the ship, large very comfortable padded loungers hot and cold drinks and fruit. We are booked for the Eclipse maiden Trans Atlantic next year in a standard balcony cabin and thought our Aqua Class experience on this trip would spoil us for anything else but in fact, although there are attractive features, I now think we will be quite happy without them. The Equinox theatre, like those on other Celebrity ships, is beautiful and we saw some very good shows there. If you are a fan of ballroom dancing the opportunities are not as good as on Celebrity's smaller ships however it was available for periods in both the Sky lounge and the grand foyer and both the Celebrity orchestra and the party band (Top Secret) were good to dance to. Other live entertainment was available at multiple venues throughout the ship each evening and occasionally in the afternoon. This included an acapella group (Sound Decision), string quartet (Inspiration Strings), guitarist and pianist all of which were very good. Like on other Celebrity ships however our non dancing and late night venue immediately became Michael's Club which featured as usual a pianist/singer (Lloyd Baskins). Arguably the most impressive feature of the ship visually was the outsize "hole in the floor" with its six glass elevators, floating tree and view down multiple decks past the library, card room martini bar to the grand foyer, quite spectacular. The ship is equipped with two pool areas, one glass sheltered and the other glass enclosed both very nice for relaxing on a lounger it was a pleasant surprise that it was never difficult to find a free lounger in these areas. There were also loungers available on higher decks but with less shelter and since the ship was traveling at 22 knots most of the time it was more of a challenge to get out of the breeze on these decks. The loungers were for the most part positioned right up against one and other, consequently getting on and off was a bit of a challenge, there was nowhere to put a drink and you were pretty intimate with the person on the neighboring ones. Fourteen days was not long enough to let us try all the dining venues on the ship, we mostly ate breakfast and dinner in Blu, and did not try Bistro on Five, Murano or the Tuscan Grill. The Aqua Spa Cafe, a favorite of ours on other ships, on this ship was a big disappointment, tucked away in a corner of the solarium with far too few tables. We tried lunch in the main dining room which was good and had dinner at Silk Harvest, the Asian restaurant where the dEcor was very nice, the service excellent but the food unexceptional. The pool grill on this ship is on a deck above the buffet and although we didn't try it had a pleasant outdoor cafe look to it. The buffet was our usual lunch venue and had a large variety of food each day, I usually chose the Indian section, not usually available every day on Celebrity and my wife the salad bar both of which were good. The buffet suffered from overcrowding at peak breakfast and lunch times making it difficult to find a table and again we had the cold hot food problem here. The multiple island layout of the buffet worked well it was seldom necessary to stand in line for food. No trays here so getting food and drinks involved two trips which was a nuisance. The library was a nice area to relax and it had a better selection than we have seen previously, but get there early the good stuff goes fast! The lawn area was very pleasant with its own bar at the back of the ship, I didn't notice the lawn being used a lot so I wonder if it will survive for long. Service wherever we went on the ship was excellent and the usual smiles and friendly greetings were provided by all levels of staff from cleaners to captain. I will not discuss the intermediate ports on this trip as they were not a priority for us but we were pleasantly surprised by the lack of crowd problems getting off and on the ship. Debarking in Fort Lauderdale was the complete opposite from embarkation; an utter shambles which left a large number of us stuck in a hanger like building with no air conditioning or seats for the best part of an hour waiting our luggage. Apparently communications had broken down and passengers were debarked before their luggage. In total, this was another very enjoyable cruise experience for us, even with a few things that we thought were less than perfect, Celebrity continues to offer a very good product on this new class of ships. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We arrived at JFK Airport with plenty of time to spare. We flew Aer Lingus to Dublin, where we changed planes to fly to Malaga. The Dublin Airport is an amazing place. We arrived there at 4:30 in the morning and EVERYTHING was open and I ... Read More
We arrived at JFK Airport with plenty of time to spare. We flew Aer Lingus to Dublin, where we changed planes to fly to Malaga. The Dublin Airport is an amazing place. We arrived there at 4:30 in the morning and EVERYTHING was open and I mean everything. Every shop and restaurant was open and ready for business and very busy. There was even an open nail salon. Imagine, getting your nails done at 5:00 a.m. in an airport! After changing planes, we arrived in Malaga at about 11:00 a.m., local time. We followed signs in several languages directing us to luggage claim. We stood at the carousel until all the luggage came out except ours and that of about half a dozen couples, all of whom had changed planes at Dublin. We went into a room labeled "lost luggage." Everybody's luggage was there. Before we were permitted to claim it, we had to run it through a scanner. After we claimed our luggage, it was easy to find a cab and after we finally got our driver to understand our very poor Spanish, we arrived at the Don Curro Hotel. This was a small, exceptionally clean hotel that supplied a delightful free breakfast every morning. This hotel was located in an excellent location. It was near shopping (very high end) and a lovely park and botanical gardens. There were interesting statues in the park, and interesting buildings along side. Around the corner from the hotel were a plaza, shops and restaurants, which ended in a large square with a fountain and several restaurants. We took a hop on hop off touring bus. There were only two things of real interest. One was a magnificent cathedral, and the other, a fort on a high, high hill. The cathedral was easily walkable from the hotel; the fort was not. It might be more economical to take a taxi to the fort, rather than pay for the bus if you stay in that general area. I have to warn you that Malaga is NOT a safe city. We met several other couples from roll call at a tappas restaurant, Pimpi's. We reached this by walking through the plaza and then going off on a side street. The restaurant was mediocre, and the service was poor. As we left the restaurant, my husband was approached with a man bearing a large knife. He said, in English, "Give me money." I started to scream, "Help us, help us" and started to run back into Pimpi's to get help. The man ran away. Later we learned that another couple was attacked, at the fort, in broad daylight. The woman has to be at least seventy years old, about 4'10" and ninety pounds. The next day we boarded the ship. It really is beautiful. There is a promenade with stores and clubs, including a 24-hour cafe, where cookies and sandwiches are always available. The casino is decorated with a jazz theme (New Orleans) and is really innovative. The pool deck is gorgeous, (although it has not been warm enough [as of November 11] to use it). The dining rooms, theater, and nightclub are beautifully appointed, the theater and nightclub designed so there are no bad seats. The first day was a day at sea. The day was chock full of activities. The second day we docked at Madeira. There were lots of tours offered through the ship, but we decided to do it on our own, mainly because hubby has difficulty walking. We took a tram ride up to the top of a mountain, where the view was magnificent as were the gardens. It was all very lush. Back to the ship, change for dinner (the show for late seating was before dinner), run from the show to trivia, run from trivia to dinner, run from dinner to a game. Listen to some great music after the game, and so to sleep. I do have some complaints about the activities. The Cruise Director, Kieron Buffery, is not, in my opinion the greatest. He continually scheduled late seating shows at 7:15, and trivia or name that tune at 8:00. The shows did not get out until after 8:00, making it impossible to enjoy both. We usually chose not to go to the show, inasmuch as most of the entertainment was not the greatest. However, the production shows, featuring the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers were excellent. There was also a late-nite show featuring these very talented people singing standards and jazz. This was probably the best show offered the entire cruise. The ice show was excellent also. There were two stops in the Canary Islands. Again, due to the hubby's problems, we didn't do much. The first island, Tenerife, was rather lively; we just walked around the down town area. Had lots of stores and cafes, a large square with a fountain, and interesting statues. The second island, La Palma, was very small, and there was not much to it. We took an excursion that was for people with walking difficulties. We were taken to a volcano site. Most people (not on our tour) walked to the top; we were not able to do that (the hubby anyway). After the tour we looked around down town. Really nothing to see. The next six days were days at sea. The weather was fine, and there were the usual shipboard and poolside activities. However, the shows for late seating were continually at 7:15 which conflicted with trivia and "Name that Tune". This went on throughout the cruise. The next port was Nassau. There was a horrible situation there. It seems that on a Segway tour, the group was attacked by men with machine guns who took their money, cameras and passports. I was not on this tour, thank goodness, and it was not talked about on the ship. However, there is a thread on Cruise Critic about it. Evidently, there were people on this tour not only from the Navigator, but also from the Disney Wonder. The Disney staff came to the site after the armed holdup, nobody from Royal Caribbean did. This is only hearsay; I was not there. Getting off the ship was a disaster! We are diamonds and supposedly were given priority. Well, if this is priority, I can't imagine what other people had to endure. We were directed to go to the 4th deck dining room. There we sat for about an hour. We were then told to line u p. We stood for approximately two hours. We did not move. The lines for immigration were long, and they did not separate the US citizens from the non citizens. This made our line extremely long and slow moving. When I requested a wheel chair for the hubby, I was told that inasmuch as I filled out the custom form, he couldn't have a wheel chair—if he had filled out the custom form, he could. All in all, we were somewhat disappointed with this cruise, especially, since we had a wonderful time a year ago, when we crossed on the Independence of the Seas, with Alan Brooks as the Cruise Director. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We have heard of repositioning cruises for years. When we heard of this one and the great price we jumped on it. We spent two nights in Barcelona. We loved the city and will go back. We were some of the first to check in and we had to ... Read More
We have heard of repositioning cruises for years. When we heard of this one and the great price we jumped on it. We spent two nights in Barcelona. We loved the city and will go back. We were some of the first to check in and we had to stand in line before they would let us board. Once aboard we were not supposed to go to our cabins until 2pm. We did sneak in and dropped our stuff off. We went to the Windjammer which was not crowded. We made three ports of call before we headed across the Atlantic. All were enjoyable. We were six days on the open seas. The weather was great. We enjoyed the flying fish. We also enjoyed the forensic lectures. There wasn't much else to keep up busy so we got a little bored. We probably won't do another one of these until we get older. Our cabin steward and waiters were great. I'm not sure why we have to tip the head waiter. He was nice enough and dropped by our table every night but I didn't see him doing much else. We probably will not sail with Royal Caribbean again. I don't care for the two class system on their ships. If you are not double diamond or higher, i.e. first class, you get treated like second class citizens in certain situations, e.g. seating in the theater. We just completed our first cruise on Holland American in Sept. We felt like we were first class even though we were in one of the least expensive staterooms. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
The Summit has more going for it than not, but our cruise was negatively colored by illness aboard and a huge culture clash of passengers. First the good: the crew aboard the Summit is exceedingly well trained to provide outstanding ... Read More
The Summit has more going for it than not, but our cruise was negatively colored by illness aboard and a huge culture clash of passengers. First the good: the crew aboard the Summit is exceedingly well trained to provide outstanding service. It never varied from the most congenial, polite and gracious service in every venue. Even the public restroom staff were apparently trained to greet and chat with passengers. The restaurant staffs were a bit more subdued and harried toward the end of the cruise when longer hours and additional work were added to their already tough schedules due to the norovirus. Our cabin, a concierge class veranda, was perfectly designed for relatively spacious comfort. It did have the usual tiny bathroom, which was very ordinary with nothing to indicate the premium cabin category. There was a frig, which needed to be unlocked by request or was unavailable otherwise. I would like to note that the ship's review is quite incorrect on several points, such as internet availability in the cabins, the cost of internet (max was 65 cents per minute) and other points. It needs to be updated. Food was not up to prior standards of Celebrity, which we attribute to the downturn in pricing aboard any/all cruise lines. They simply cannot afford to provide costly meals at the prices charged for a cruise now. However, the prep was terrific, the quality good and the variety excellent. Of note was the unbelievable accommodation made for my gluten and dairy free diet. It was amazing how well they handled it and with complete grace. Kudos to them! Staff was very well informed about ingredients, which I found amazing. Again - Celebrity or the Summit in particular must train their staff very, very well. Very unusual for us: we took two shore excursions. One was to Provencal villages out of Marseilles and the other was to Alhambra from Malaga. They were both done very well and for very fair prices. The ship's design is user friendly and is chock full of public spaces. The interior design is very elegant and not glitzy. It is a beautiful ship. It is aging, which was only of note on the exterior (veranda, and when viewing the ship's hull). All exterior public spaces are still looking great, though. We felt that food safety and sanitation could have been handled a lot better from embarkation on, which probably contributed to the spread of illness, pegged as a norovirus as per a letter in each cabin from Captain Berdos. I hate seeing serve yourself buffets as any germs from passengers are transmitted via serving pieces and beverage stations. That stopped, with staff handling all food and beverages, once the illness was announced. How widespread the virus was, we will never know. It didn't affect our group of 4 but we are scrupulously careful about hand washing, touching public door knobs, elevator buttons, banisters, etc. Being sick on vacation is lousy and we go to extremes to avoid it. The culture clash aboard the Summit was our second episode this year. Celebrity dumps their unsold cabins in Puerto Rico. There were 900 Puerto Ricans aboard, 1/2 the passengers approximately. They do not mix well culturally with N. Americans, the vast majority of the usual passengers. Enough said except that everyone we spoke with to a person, including loyal Celebrity cruisers, said it was the last Celebrity cruise they would take. Celebrity needs to take note as it was a huge problem and one that staff was unable to handle any better. We will be writing a letter to Celebrity with our concern but don't expect any apology. A couple we met had taken a lengthy S. American cruise over Christmas 2008 and said that Celebrity had sold the ship out to S. Americans, which caused another huge culture clash. They are very well traveled, frequent Celebrity cruisers, and mild mannered people. The response they received from their letter to Celebrity was that since "they are Canadians, they are quite sheltered and unaccustomed to other cultures." It was a huge insult to them and they will never again sail Celebrity. We concur. We are sorry because we love the staff, the ship and the service. But, never again. Don't anyone accuse us of prejudice or intolerance or lack of worldliness. Not true on any count. It was simply a mix of cultures that aboard a ship does not work. It was felt by everyone, including the Puerto Ricans, who were vocal in their complaints also. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We embarked in Barcelona and were looking forward to our return to the Century. It was to be my third Transatlantic cruise on this ship, rather like returning home again. We immediately learned that Celebrity no longer was providing bridge ... Read More
We embarked in Barcelona and were looking forward to our return to the Century. It was to be my third Transatlantic cruise on this ship, rather like returning home again. We immediately learned that Celebrity no longer was providing bridge instructor/director's on their long sea day cruises. We were perhaps sixty passengers who had planned on playing organized bridge as has been the case on all of my past crossings (9 so far). After a non-productive meeting with the cruise director who could not explain Celebrity's decision, we self organized 8 days of bridge. I cannot fathom Celebrity's decision nor could my fellow players. The majority sentiment was no bridge directors, no Celebrity cruises in our future. Otherwise, the cruise went well with perfect weather the entire trip. The "new and improved" Captain's Club program was an improvement. The food is reasonable except for the fish dishes which are to be avoided. The ship itself is beginning to show some wear and tear as in soiled cabin carpets, broken fittings and trim particularly in the bathrooms. The entire crew is marvelous, always friendly and accomodating. And the passengers are wonderful, interesting, and a joy to sail. So, Celebrity, please bring back the bridge director program so that my partner and I can sail with you again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We boarded the Navigator in Malaga, which was a wonderful start for us as it is only about an hours drive away from our home. We had arranged to leave our car at SP Parking, which is an off site airport parking and that they would take us ... Read More
We boarded the Navigator in Malaga, which was a wonderful start for us as it is only about an hours drive away from our home. We had arranged to leave our car at SP Parking, which is an off site airport parking and that they would take us down to the port in their transportation. This worked out perfectly for us and no sooner had we arrived that we were in their taxi van and on our way - about 30 minutes drive from the airport area to the port. Navigator looked superb in the sunshine and we weren't to be disappointed. Malaga port is undergoing major construction work and the ship was berthed a long way from the port entrance, it seemed a very complicated route that the driver had to take to get us to the ship and I would have hated to try and get there under our own steam. We had read many horror stories about embarkation at Malaga during the series of 5 night cruises prior to our Transatlantic, however we were pleasantly surprised. Porters were readily available to take the luggage and we entered a short queue for security and were checked in very speedily. Lots of check in staff were available and there were some shops, including a duty free shop after the baggage scanner for any last minute purchases! It took an hour from us arriving at SP Parking at Malaga Airport to boarding the Navigator - we were on board by midday - and as usual cabins were not available until 1pm - so we headed to the Windjammer for a light lunch before going to the main dining room to check out our table allocation. We were delighted to find that we had got our table for 2 , as requested, in the 3rd floor Nutcracker restaurant. Our cabin was 7620, which was a mid hump E2 category - the location was superb for us and our cabin steward Andrea was efficient and attentive. Once on the crossing we had the sun on our balcony from morning until night and we used the balcony frequently to sit out and read. We were truly blessed with the weather on this cruise. The second sea day on the crossing was somewhat rocky, but apart from that, we had beautiful sunny, calm days. We loved the entertainment on this cruise, we felt the guest acts were by far the best we had experienced on board ship. The highlights for us were the Backbeat Beatles (my absolute favourites), Gary Lovini, Jeffrey Allen (Elton John Tribute Act) and the 3 Tenors. We also enjoyed Bob Arno (the pickpocket act) and passed many a pleasant evening singing along with Darren Bethell in the Schooner Bar and Christine McCann, who entertained in the 2 Poets pub on the last evening. I much prefer that the late show is after dinner and not pre dinner but for some reason Cruise Directors seem to love having the show before dinner for the late dining room sitting. Having said that we liked Kieron Buffery as a CD and he was always visible around the ship and happy to chat. The Navigator dunes mini golf was in pretty poor shape and is in urgent need of some TLC however generally speaking the Navigator was in good condition. My husband is a smoker and we found the Navigator to be much more smoker friendly than our previous experiences. We loved the 2 Poets for our pre dinner drinks and the Schooner Bar for after dinner entertainment. We also used the 19th Hole during the day time for reading and card playing - the bar staff were all attentive and very friendly. My husband played for a while in the casino every night but lady luck did not smile on us at all during this trip! He also frequented the cigar bar on most evenings. The food in the main dining room was generally good, it would be nice to see a little more selection, or maybe more specials on offer, on longer cruises. We normally used the Windjammer for late breakfasts, which was fine and the Promenade Cafe for a light lunch. We did have lunch with our Cruise Critic group in the main dining room on one occasion, which I thought was fine. I did hear that the Windjammer was very good in the evenings but we never went there, and we did go for one afternoon tea there, which was lovely. There were several midnight buffets offered but we only attended once - more out of curiosity than hunger! We did use the spa on this trip, which was a first for us and we found it to be a relaxing experience. Our first port of call was Madeira - we had pre arranged a taxi tour with Daniel, which was interesting and informative. Our second port of call was Tenerife - we pre booked a hire car with holiday autos and went to Mount Teide, a lovely day trip. Our third port of call was La Palma - we took a taxi from the pier to visit a cigar manufacturer - we bought some great cigars there - and then we went on to visit the volcano site. A very interesting day, we later strolled through the charming small town and did a little shopping, wanting to make the most of our last day on land before the crossing. Our last port of call was the Bahamas - we took a taxi to Atlantis and we purchased tickets to visit the digs. We spent the whole day at the hotel, visiting the casino and having some lunch. Disembarkation was chaotic to say the least - we were delayed by immigration for over 5 hours. We had a 9.15am disembarkation, which would have been perfect for us but unfortunately we were still in the theatre at 1pm waiting to be called. We had a long drive to Savannah in front of us and this made it a really long, tiring day. This was not enough to mar our trip, just a bit of a blip, only really an inconvenience in the whole scheme of things. On the whole a great cruise, yes we would do a transatlantic again and we would certainly travel on the Navigator again if the right trip were to present itself - a great ship with a lovely crew. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
.....We stayed the previous night at the Holiday Inn close to Dock Gate 8 Southampton who do a cruise package of one nights stay, breakfast and up to 3 weeks parking (we paid for an extra night parking as our cruise was 22 nights) with ... Read More
.....We stayed the previous night at the Holiday Inn close to Dock Gate 8 Southampton who do a cruise package of one nights stay, breakfast and up to 3 weeks parking (we paid for an extra night parking as our cruise was 22 nights) with complimentary taxi to the terminal...this cost less than the parking provided by CPS in the dock. We were informed by text message the day before the cruise that Oriana would be berthed at City terminal rather than the planned Ocean terminal (our taxi driver told us that if its windy they can't use the 9 million pound Ocean terminal!!) Embarkation was quite slow, we arrived about 11.30 ish and it was over an hour before we got onboard. We made our way to our cabin and asked our steward if we could leave our hand luggage there as it was made up...he agreed and we went to the Conservatory buffet restaurant where we had a bite to eat and then explored the rest of the ship. There was a team around the ship putting up the Christmas decorations which were quite tasteful and not overpowering. We were allowed into our cabins at 2.00 pm...ours was c144 and was quite sufficient for our needs although the wardrobe rails were front to back x 3 which didn't give much hanging space, plenty of drawer space, a fridge and a safe. The air con was very efficient. The bath room was pink with bath with shower over and plenty of storage We sailed at 5.00 pm and once we rounded the Isle of Wight the force 8 winds were quite evident ...these strengthened to a force 9 over the next day and night and the first of many Stugeron tablets passed my lips ! Our first port of call was Vigo where it was a grey, rainy day we were slightly late leaving as they had put a tender boat down and couldn't retrieve it as it was too windy...as we left they turned the ship and retrieved it in the lee of the ship..the Captain later told us that it was a force 11 wind as we left Vigo and we had our third noisy bumpy night in a row. He made the decision to go south of the Azores to try and find some calmer weather...but it was our fourth day before we could go out on deck and sit in some warm sunshine...the outside decks had been closed before then. We had one more wet and windy day confined to the interior of the ship before we arrived in St Maarten .Next was St Kitts, then St Vincent, St Lucia, Grenada and Barbados.... We then had five days at sea ...two sunny, one cloudy, and two not so sunny ....our planned stop at Madeira was not possible as it was a tender port and the sea was much too rough and wind and rain prevailed. Disappointing for a lot of passengers but the Captain had no choice in our opinion....the comedians and singer had to disembark by rope ladder onto the pilot boat which must have been scary...Gary Rhodes who was due to join us there was unable to fly in because of the weather.....so after two hours treading water off the harbour we set off for Southampton and what would be eight days at sea. It became noticeably cooler as we travelled further north and our entry to Bay of Biscay was very rough ... the exit was calmer and we arrived at Southampton on time. Disembarkation was quite chaotic...I think they disembarked too many passengers too quickly (we left half an hour earlier than anticipated) and there was a mad scramble to find suitcases and then a huge queue for customs....however we emerged unscathed from the terminal at 10 am ish... Ports of call Vigo - it was pouring with rain here - we did walk up through the town , into the church - then around in a big circle and through the shopping mall near to the terminal where there were some quite nice shops including a huge electrical retailers which we thought was amazing (and useful as we needed a new mouse for the laptop!) St Maarten - we were late arriving here because of the bad weather on the way down....but we didn't leave until 11 pm ...we got a water taxi to the shopping centre $6 return....this is the place for cheap cigarettes £20 for 400 Marlboro ....nowhere else had them cheaper. We started to walk to the salt ponds area to see if there were any unusual birds but we felt a bit uncomfortable after a while as there were no other tourists anywhere to be seen....so we returned to the shopping area. 84 degs here ! St Kitts - we did a trip here 'Best of St Kitts'. It was a quite good overview of the island visiting an old sugar plantation Romney Manor and a Batik factory shop and then we went to Brimstone Hill fortress National Park. 82 degs here ! St Vincent - we did a trip to some Botanical Gardens here - Kingstown where there were nice lawned areas and trees and shrubs and then our favourite Montreal gardens which was 3000 feet above see level in the rain forest area...there were lots of beautiful flowering shrubs and plants here and paths down a little valley to a fast running stream it was lovely. St Lucia - we did a private tour with Cosol tours here which was excellent...saw lots of the island with some super photo stops, visit to the sulphur springs inside a volcano, waterfall and botanical gardens, and got a water taxi to the beach between the pitons travelling there in a torrential tropical shower at great speed!!!!! Walked into the water and was immediately surrounded by a shoal of yellow and black striped fish!! Then we had another torrential downpour before returning to Souffriere in the water taxi via the bat cave full of fruit bats. Had a typical Caribbean breakfast in a private house and hot bread baguette type things with cheese for lunch along with a couple of rum punches.... Grenada - we just wandered the Port complex of shops here as we were quite tired so decided on a day off! Barbados - we did a trip here which was a bit disappointing just a photo stop in the Highlands area and then a drive to Dover beach where we had two hours use of sunbeds and sunshades. The beach was very nice but the sea was quite rough with a strong current so I didn't feel safe to swim. We were disappointed because we actually berthed at the 'flour mill' dock and this was within walking distance of a nice looking beach with much calmer water which we could have enjoyed for free !!! Madeira - we did not go ashore here as detailed above. Entertainment The Cruise director is Gary Glading who did a fairly good job - he did wonders with the passenger choir who performed a concert of Music from the Films which was excellent. The Headliners Singers and Dancers were good - if a bit too energetic - one singer Lisa stood out - she was excellent. There were up to date films in the Cinema and some older ones on cabin TV . We felt that the cabin TV was underused and that there could have been a music channel all day - especially when there were no satellite signals. We also felt that the Cruise director could have appeared on the TV and summarised the days activities, especially as there were so many sea days on this cruise. Martin Daniels (son of Paul Daniels) was on twice in the theatre and was the best of the individual entertainers (in my opinion). Singer called Mark Porter, Elaine Delmar, singer, a Welsh comedian who we didn't see but heard not so good reports on, another comedian Kevin Devane who was quite funny, a couple of young lads who did two concerts one of Beatles songs and another of 50s and 60s songs, they were excellent musicians but a bit nervous, however we did enjoy them. Bobby Crush was also on twice but we gave him a miss. We also had Diana Moran, the Green Goddess, on board for the duration, who gave five talks I think....we just went to the first one. There were also talks by the Tate gallery, a fingerprint expert, Philip Hobday ex BBC, the Captain Paul Brown, Executive Purser Kathy Jones, and Second Officer Wendy O'Donnell. We went to the last three and they were very interesting. We weren't impressed with the young 'Future Cruise sales manager' who did a presentation in the Cinema. Food We ate breakfast and lunch in the Conservatory (buffet) and dinner in the Peninsular restaurant. We had some good food, but it was not always easy to find something that we liked, especially in the Conservatory at lunchtime. We did have to resort to the alternative of Chicken Breast, or Sirloin Steak in the Dining room on more than one occasion. The meat was very good but we never had good roast potatoes, they were always hard and anaemic looking ! There was always a good variety of vegetables in the dining room. We liked the size and style of the ship...there was always space to sit somewhere quiet if we wanted....we used the gym which seemed quite well equipped....we also used our laptop in the internet room to send emails (30p per minute pay as you go)...there was a nice library with a good selection of books. The age range was quite elderly...(I felt young at 62) but there were a dozen or so school age children and also several babies/toddlers in pushchairs. It seemed to cope well for the disabled passengers with several motorized and manual wheelchair users. We felt the ship generally handled well in the rough weather but our bed was positioned under the window so was side to side of the ship rather than front to back and when seas were rough it felt like we would fall out of bed ....but we didn't ! It was the noise of the ship hitting the waves that kept us awake at night. All in all we enjoyed the cruise very much...in spite of the rough weather ...and the resulting 8 continuous days at sea! We covered nearly 8500 nautical miles in three weeks. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
This was actually two cruises, back-to-back. First, 10 days in the Greek Isles, Italy and Turkey, then 13 days Civitavecchia to Ft. Lauderdale.So,lots of sightseeing on first leg, lots of sea days on the last. The ship itself is beautiful ... Read More
This was actually two cruises, back-to-back. First, 10 days in the Greek Isles, Italy and Turkey, then 13 days Civitavecchia to Ft. Lauderdale.So,lots of sightseeing on first leg, lots of sea days on the last. The ship itself is beautiful and well laid out. The Lawn Club and glass blowing seem at first to be wasteful, but they were actually well used and make a unique addition. The cabin seemed a bit small, but there was ample storage, even for a long voyage. The lighting scheme is not good, not geared for reading either on the sofa or in bed, and no way to separate the bed from the rest of the cabin so that one person can read while the other sleeps. On the other hand, we liked the night light in the bathroom, the larger shower, and the rain shower head. Flatscreen TV was also a welcome feature. The food in the main restaurant,Grand Epernay, as well as the buffet, Oceanview Cafe, was quite good. We weren't overwhelmed by the quality of waiters in Epernay, but that could have been luck of the draw.We did dine at the specialty restaurant ,Tuscan Grille, but the food and service really weren't much better than that in Grand Epernay, and surely not worth an extra $50.So,we made it a one time event. Like almost everyone we talked with, we think 6:00 PM is too early for dinner, and 8:30 is too late. We look forward to "My Time" dining on future Celebrity Cruises. The new Elite Captain's Club privileges were truly enjoyed and appreciated. The cocktail hour, with new friends we made there, became one of each day's highlights.The extras like free internet and laundry were also great added attractions. Thanks to Celebrity Cruises for them. The entertainment and "enrichment" were the low points of the ship. The singers and dancers were the weakest we have come across on a cruise ship, and the choreography and songs were "odd". Most of the individual performers were OK, but not great. The most enjoyable entertainment for us was Dave,the piano player in Michael's Lounge. Service was very good all around, with lots of smiles and greetings. Good crew! Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
This was our third westbound crossing on the Voyager so this review will mostly deal with the shipboard experience since we had been to all the ports before. I'll be glad to answer any questions about the ports from previous cruises. ... Read More
This was our third westbound crossing on the Voyager so this review will mostly deal with the shipboard experience since we had been to all the ports before. I'll be glad to answer any questions about the ports from previous cruises. We are in our mid-60's and have done over 30 cruises over the years. We flew in a day early and stayed at the Hotel Continental where many cruisers were staying both for our voyage and two or three other ships that were in port. While the hotel is certainly not the Four Seasons, it is clean, reasonably priced (95 euro), convenient (on Las Ramblas), easy to get to from the airport via a bus, free food, wine, beer, etc., and about a 17 euro taxi ride to the pier. The rooms are small with an elevator about the size of a telephone booth but it works. Decorating is inspired by hot pink and florals. They have a "sister" hotel a couple of blocks away from Las Ramblas that is a little nicer but is around 35 euro more. Embarkation was quick and easy. They have a duty free shop AFTER you put your carry-ons through the scanner which sells alcohol. I had heard that another check of bags would be made prior to getting on the ship but it wasn't in our case. CABIN-7250 We have been getting E1/E2 cabins for several cruises. While we prefer Deck 6 forward close to the elevators, this cabin was on Deck 7. Good was that our balcony has glass below the railing while on Deck 6, they are steel. The glass allows a little more light into the cabin. We prefer Deck 6 forward because it is only one deck straight down to the Promenade Cafe, Cleopatra's Needle, and the Promenade business. It is two decks straight down to the Schooner Bar, casino, and theater balcony. Hence, we can avoid using the elevators except to go up to the Windjammer and pool deck. I like being close to the theater because if I need to use Ladies after the show I can get to the cabin quickly via the stairs and not have to wait on an elevator. The downside is that you walk the length of the ship to get to the feeding troughs. Hopefully, it will walk off some calories. Being on Deck 7, I found I was using the elevators more. Going down, not a problem: but, if I was on Deck 4, then I would take them to get back up to Deck 7. We have never been disturbed by noise from the elevators or the passengers using them. While on the deck plan it looks like they are right in front of your door, they really are "around the corner." Our cabin steward, Ronaldo, introduced himself and I gave him my "punch" list of requests. Empty the refrigerator, give us two Compass a day, keep my thermo cooler in the shower iced down daily, and see if he could find an egg crate for us. All were fulfilled before we turned in for the night. Cabin was in pretty good shape. The sofa had been recovered which was good—you could have grown crops on the last one we had in the fall of 2008. There was a big gouge on the bathroom door which didn't bother us but I was mildly concerned they may think we had done it. Apparently not because Ronaldo had them repair it the second day. They gave it a band-aid treatment putting some paper over it. There were splatters of paint on the glass of our balcony but nothing too great. The balcony walls were solid on both sides. In the past, our balconies have been a wall up one side and a partition on the other side. I liked this because, as one of those horrible smokers, I felt it kept smoke from "drifting" over to the neighboring balconies a little bit. Still, I always look at the neighboring balconies before lighting up to make sure they are empty. The walls gave us a little more privacy as you really had to lean over the railing to see on the next balcony. Our cabin steward was one of the best we have had. The first week, if he saw us coming down the hall he would hustle to our door and open it for us which hasn't happened in the recent past on our cruises. The second week, though, this didn't happen. He always greeted us by name and asked if everything was o.k. The only "complaint" I had was that he would service the cabin and collect the ice bucket but not return it until around 1:30 when he was replacing all of them in the cabins. So, if we wanted to nap, we knew not to do it until he had returned our ice bucket because there would be a knock on the door. I guess we could have put the "do not disturb" sign out but then we would miss the ice refill as he would be going off duty for the afternoon. The main "complaint" I had about the cabin was that the bed lights were over the headboard rather than to the side of the bed which they have been on previous cruises so sometimes it was awkward to read in bed. I noticed there was no stationery or pens in the desk drawer. Cost cutting?? Maybe Ronaldo didn't replace them from the previous occupant. DINING We were at late seating in the Carmen dining room at a table for ten. Our Diamond Plus companion is solo, so we had an empty seat. Our dining companions were just great and we had a wonderful time with them. Our travel companion did not join us for dinner after the first night but ate in the Windjammer so we basically had a table of eight. Our waiter and assistant waiter were not the best we have had but far from the worst. They served us in a timely manner, the food was hot, what we ordered and how we ordered it. I was impressed that he took the women's orders first and served the women first. I haven't seen that in quite a few cruises. I felt like the portions were smaller than in the past but never left the table hungry. Sorry to say, the food has not improved. Selections are limited. If you like chicken, salmon, pasta, then you will be happy. They combine the "always available" with the entrees so it looks like you have more selection than you do since half of the choices are "always available." We ate breakfast every morning in the main dining room. They have an "express buffet" set up where they had basics like eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, fruit, Danish, cereal, cold cuts. Seated, they came around promptly with coffee and took juice orders then the waiter came to take the breakfast order. We would order any hot items we wanted like pancakes, French toast, eggs benedict, omelet, oatmeal (no waffles), and then go to the buffet for "starters" like cereal and fruit. By the time we finished that, the rest of the meal arrived. If you don't want to get your own cereal, etc., they would bring it to you. One thing I liked about Royal vs. other lines was that the bacon was crisp--not still going "oink"--and if you tried to get one or two strips, it all stuck together so you ended up with a plate full like on other lines. However, on this cruise, it wasn't always so. I would get my bacon at the buffet where I could "pick and choose" but still had a problem finding crisp and not a bunch of it stuck together, some crisp and most not. Even if I ordered it from the waiter and asked for crisp, it did not always come that way. We enjoyed meeting other people at our table and being served without having to run to different "stations" while one person guarded the table like you do in the Windjammer. If you are not a social person in the morning, there were tables for two available. As a Diamond member, we were told in our welcome letter we could be served in the Seville dining room where they had full service and upgraded coffee available for free. Not being a coffee drinker, this did not appeal to me but I did peek in there and it was not set up for dining—in fact had computer paper boxes stacked around the perimeter. So I asked where the Diamond dining was and told they set off a section in the MDR for it. I didn't investigate that so I can't comment on it. We ate all our lunches in the Windjammer. I am a soup, sandwich, dessert person; husband likes to hunker down with a plate full of pasta or ribs so this was a happy medium. We never had trouble getting a table and they were pretty good about cleaning them and getting drinks if you asked. My friend that ate dinners in the Windjammer said the selection there was not nearly as good as on past cruises in the evening. In the afternoons at 3:00 they had tea/snack time. Clotted cream, scones, sandwiches with the crust cut off, etc. for the tea sippers. In the back, husband was delighted to find nachos and tacos to tide him over until our late dinner seating. The Promenade Cafe is open 24 hours with pastries in the morning followed by sandwiches, pizza, cookies and desserts in the afternoon and evenings. The first couple of days there was no iced tea available there but I guess some Texans 'splained to them about the necessity of iced tea being available 24/7. The only other place to get iced tea would be the WJ which didn't put it out until 11:30 and closed at 9:00 p.m. Lemonade was, also, set up which hasn't been done on our previous cruises.. They had coffee, tea, hot chocolate there 24/7. However, the machines were leaking and it was constantly wet around them no matter how fast they mopped. I saw many near falls from people "skating" on the water. Hopefully, they have fixed it. We passed on Johnny Rockets since they took the BOGO coupon out of the booklet. We did not go to Portofino's this time either. They do not have a Chops on the Voyager. ENTERTAINMENT Our Cruise Direction was Mike Szwajkowaski (I learned how to spell it sure it would get me extra points on trivia—it didn't) and one of the best we have had. He was very approachable around the ship, hosted a Q&A session, and hosted the marathon trivia. I didn't feel like the entertainment was as good as we have had in the past. The production show had minimal sets—mostly projection backgrounds on a screen. We went to a few of them and nothing stands out as particularly great We did not do the ice show this time as we have seen it twice before. We discovered that seats in the balcony on the sides do not have a full view of the stage. We never had any problems finding a seat as the shows were not that crowded—even the production shows. We are trivia players and play just about every time they schedule one. Things I noticed this time were that the prizes were much better—not just the key chains, water wallets, and pens but umbrellas, caps, Ipod holders, passport holders, etc. They had a marathon trivia on sea days where the scores are cumulative. The first couple of days, they let us grade our own papers which kinda raised my eyebrows. Then we traded papers. The team that had high scores the first two days which raised even more suspicion still cleaned our clock after we traded papers. No doubt they were SMART!!!!!! They got comped a dinner at Portofino's from our CD Mike. For Bingo you could buy one card for $22 or three cards for $30+ (can't remember the exact amount). No hand helds were being rented so that sorta evened the playing field for those that wanted to play but didn't want to pay rental for them which was, on past cruises, twice the price with three or four times more "cards" to play. In the past, the prizes have been based on how many played. However, on this cruise they had set prizes like $100 for the first game, $110 for the second, etc (can't remember the exact numbers) which I believe I heard was because of low participation. Generally on port days, there were no activities scheduled on board after 10:30 until around 4:00 p.m. other than movies in the screening room. I did see in the Compass they had children's activities scheduled, though. ELEVATORS Many of the directional lights were out so you had to depend on "ding" for up and "ding ding" for down and guess which elevator was coming and missing a few when you guessed wrong. The lights for calling the elevator did not work on a few so you wondered if it was being called or not. Fortunately, you could look on the other side of the bank and if the light was on. Some lights did not light up inside of the elevator to indicate what floor you were on or behind a button you pushed for your floor. I felt like more elevators than usual were "out of order" off and on. Overall, there did not seem to be a long wait for them other than when you expect it around dinner time, show letting out, and disembarkation in port. Hint: When coming in from port, walk by the first bank of elevators and go to the far bank behind them. It looks like you are going into a crew area but you aren't and there is seldom a wait for one there. Elevators definitely need attention. CASINO Our cruise critic group scheduled a group slot pull. The fellow in charge of it spoke with the casino manager who was the most uncooperative one he has ever run into having set these up numerous times. We had $2,000 to gamble and we are talking 3:00 p.m.—not one of your high traffic times. He asked for some "giveaways" for the players. No. He asked if machines could be set aside for us so we wouldn't be blocking traffic and have room for everyone to watch the machine. No. Well we could if we wanted to pay the casino $6 for every $20 we were feeding into the machine or something like that. So, we divided up into five groups of 20 and gambled "on our own." Four groups lost all their money (but had good entertainment) and one group actually came out ahead. As a stockholder, I am a little miffed that the manager would not cooperate more to bring in $2,000 in revenue during a slow period. I am a big gambler. Penny slots. One penny at a time—100 pulls per dollar. In the past, I have taken my dollar down and played for an hour or so with it. Not this time. I was lucky to get 20 minutes for my dollar. I like the Luau one by the entrance to the Schooner Bar where you get 15 bonus pulls if you get three Tikis. I'd get enough to keep me going for an hour from it. This time, I wasn't getting three Tiki's very often. So, for the fun of it, I started counting how many pulls until I got the bonus. The first time it took 80 pulls and that was about average for the first week. Then, on the second week, more and more pulls needed until I got up to 350 pulls towards the end. Whereas in the past you have to bird dog a seat at the penny slots, this time there were empty ones a lot of time. I think other people came to the same realization I did that those machines were just not paying. I'd see people sit down, feed $20 into the machine, play 15 cents at a time and be pulling another $20 out in about ten minutes. In fact, I didn't see as many people as in the past playing the slots anywhere in the casino. The Black Jack table had a $6 minimum which I think is to encourage you to play $5 on the game and put $1 on the little circle that if you get black jack you can spin a wheel for more money. Those odds rank right up there with buying insurance when the dealer has an ace showing. It, also, might be to encourage you to bet two $5 chips instead of a $5 and a $1 to meet the minimum. What was interesting was in the Compass a couple of times there was a coupon for black jack for $5 match play yet the minimum was $6. I never investigated how that worked out but guess you put $6 plus the coupon down and if you won, the coupon was paid at $5. Usually the black jack $5 table was standing room only while the $10, $25 table dealers were picking their fingernails waiting for customers. There were three roulette tables but only one was in use most of the time and then with one or two players. I'm not sure if they had a craps table. If they did, they were mighty quiet and craps players aren't quiet (lol). In the past, on formal nights, the casino has been non-smoking but that was not done on this cruise. ODDS AND ENDS There was a multitude of hand sanitizers both going into the dining areas and around the ship. They had crew members stationed at the doors of the dining room and it was very difficult to get by them without getting a squirt. You were reminded often that hand washing with hot water was the best thing to do. However, I noticed in the public bathrooms, there wasn't hot water (lol). In the past, I never saw a hand sanitizer on the ship with the exception of one time when we were in port they squirted us reboarding. Later we heard that another ship in port had had a breakout of the virus and they thought we might have come in contact with them. When asked why there were no sanitizers around the ship, the Captain at a Q&A session on a previous sailing said it was because they weren't that effective, hand washing was the best solution, and people were not washing their hands before meals relying on the sanitizers. On the tables in the Windjammer was a little sign saying that card/game players were welcome to use the Magic Flute dining room for their games and to please not tie up tables in the Windjammer. Hence, I did not see tables being used for anything other than eating during the cruise. Good move, Royal Caribbean. Muster drill was held on deck but we did not have to take our life jackets. Good move, Royal Caribbean. We are Diamond but our traveling companion is Diamond Plus. He called our cabin to tell me that his welcome letter along with his CL key said that Diamonds were welcome in the CL which was located in Cloud Nine next to High Notes for happy hour. Our welcome letter did not state that and directed us to Cleopatra's for happy hour and we were not given a CL key. So, I told him to check it out that night and let me know which was correct. He went to the Concierge Lounge for happy hour and reported it was utter chaos. Only one person mixing drinks, no place to sit, very crowded, and the concierge blew him off when he asked if they could stock non-alcoholic beer saying it was "not on the list." However, the following night he reported that it was not crowded, very nice appetizers, more servers, and he got his non-alcoholic beer because a server went over to the High Notes bar and got it for him. He said that the server made sure there was his beer there every night for him. Goodbye tip to concierge, hello tips for the servers. We were wondering if some Diamonds "crashed" the first night having gotten the same message he conveyed to me from the Diamond Plus welcome letter. He said the concierge told him there were 120 Diamond Pluses on the ship. Our friend said about 40 or so were in the lounge in the evenings. There was a Diamond Lounge in Cleopatra's with free wine, champagne, soft drinks, 25% off other drinks, and music No appetizers, though. It was very lively and well attended. In fact, many Diamond + went down there in spite of having to pay for their drinks to be with their Diamond friends and saying it was more fun. Prior to this cruise, I had been on four trans-Atlantics as Platinum or better. However, this was the first time there was a luncheon for Platinum/Diamond members on a cruise I was on. In the past, it has been a special ice show. The luncheon was outstanding. The best food on the whole cruise along with plenty of wine. At our table was an officer in charge of inventory (non-food) so we had very interesting conversations going. For the first time, I noticed the library books were locked and only unlocked when the librarian was there. Then after a few days, they weren't locked up. The library is pretty worthless at best so bring your own reading material. If you get desperate, you can "dumpster dive" for returned books in the return box. I heard there was an exchange shelf set up somewhere in the library but didn't see it or look for it. We made an appointment with the Loyalty Ambassador to book a fall AOS trans-Atlantic for November 2010. Signing up in the appointment book has been like an appointment with the doctor—a license to wait. In hopes of avoiding a long wait past my appointment time, I signed up for the first appointment in the afternoon. We arrived 15 minutes early only to find the LA dealing with someone—most likely a walk up he thought would only take a short time. After waiting ½ an hour seeing that the present customer was not getting close to completing his business with each of his questions being answered bringing forth two more questions, it became necessary to reschedule as we had somewhere we needed to be at 2:00. I took the first appointment of the day and got there half an hour early to preclude anyone else getting in before me and was taken promptly. As I mentioned before, we did not do anything in the ports other than get off and find an internet cafe. In Tenerife, we met with some friends we have cruised with several times who were in port on a Celebrity ship. That was the highlight of our port adventures. A couple of times the port authority held us up and the Captain added time to our port stay to compensate for it. Another thing that Royal did that was new was have those with their excursions get off on a different gangplank than those without them. This really speeded things up for those that chose to go out on their own. Good move, Royal Caribbean! We did not get our invitation to the M&M in our cabin. I knew where and when and turned up. I got my favor (note pad) and a ticket for the raffle drawings--no win :(. I think the reason was because after I signed up, the list was deleted because we went from a lot being signed up to only 20 signed up overnight. There was a posting on the site that said if you had signed up, you didn't need to sign up again, they had a record. Guess not. The ever popular art auctions were there. This time, though, no free champagne every time. I don't go to them or buy from them so I can't comment any further. I heard the no champagne complaints from others. The worst part about trans-Atlantics is the lack of communication from the shore. We could be in WW3 and not know it. They had Fox butit was mostly repeats from days before with a little ticker across the bottom of the screen with current news--one word at a time--on a non-flat screen TV, I might add. As for sports, don't even think about it. A San Diego/Oakland football game from September was shown repeatedly. I was ready to go down to the sports bar and start taking Oakland and points. All the other sports being shown had long since been played. Lots of soccer. Very frustrating for college football fans when Alabama/Florida and Texas/Nebraska games were being played for conference championships. Husband wandered the Promenade the next morning looking for someone with a computer to find out how they turned out. Movies were past their prime, some waaaaaay past their prime. We enjoyed some classic John Wayne ones, though. This is especially frustrating since in a cost cutting measure they don't have the NY Times thingee anymore. DISEMBARKATION When I woke up and saw the fog, I said a silent prayer the ship was moving. It was, slowly. We self-disembarked which was to commence at 7:30. Because of the fog slightly delaying our arrival, it didn't start until about 8:00. Once it got going, though, it was quick even though there were people "cutting" in line from the sides rather than going to the end of the line. I was happy to see that employees inside the terminal directed those that were not self-disembarking passengers and got into the self-disembarkation line to step aside and let us off. They were identified by colored luggage tags on their carry-ons (tags issued for suitcases being taken off the ship) which were not given to those of us self-disembarking. The only "snag" was if you did not have "one hand free," you could not use the escalator and had to take an elevator to get down to the first floor. Needless to say, the elevator had a wait. There are steps to the left of the elevator which we took. We were through immigration and customs and outside the terminal by 8:20. Things did not go so well for others, though. There were not enough custom agents to handle the influx of Europeans traditionally on a trans-Atlantic as well as returning Americans so the back-up got pretty bad. I heard the last passenger got off the ship at 3:30. In the meantime, people were arriving to get on the ship. The terminal is not that great even if things go right as far as loading and unloading goes and this made it really bad. People couldn't park because parking spots were being taken up by people who hadn't left the ship. They couldn't process people on the ship until people were off the ship. The fog was as bad as it ever gets down here. Bottom line, the ship was in port until Tuesday afternoon due to the fog. Overall, a great cruise as usual and we're ready to do it again. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at whitlock@alumni.utexas.net. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We were excited to do our first "Transatlantic" cruise. We booked the GRAND PRINCESS because the rates were excellent, and we wanted to go to multiple continents. We visited, Rome, Cannes, Barcelona, Gibraltar, Morocco, Canary ... Read More
We were excited to do our first "Transatlantic" cruise. We booked the GRAND PRINCESS because the rates were excellent, and we wanted to go to multiple continents. We visited, Rome, Cannes, Barcelona, Gibraltar, Morocco, Canary Islands, Brazil(biggest disaster at any port EVER!), Barbados, Dominica and then finally Florida. The trip was long, but enough fun that we have already booked another "transatlantic" cruise for October. EMBARKATION: I rate it a 10 out of 10! All was perfect, and for that I am grateful. ROOM: Although part of the great rates required an obstructed view, the view AND room was fantastic! Try to get E411!! This room, although obstructed (so great rates), it is roomy and the view was good too! We had a wonderful steward who actually took time to do the "extras" which we had not received in the prior 4 or 5 cruises. FOOD: RATED 9 our of 10. The food was also excellent!! I am one of those "PAINS" when it comes to food. I have celiac disease, so no wheat of any kind, and every meal was excellent. They really worked with me, and I had a great experience! For that I was very grateful! The only problem we incurred with the "food" was a night in the Italian restaurant. The food was more than FABULOUS, the service was VERY prejudicial!! Our waiter, while being wonderful and helpful with us, treated the neighboring table like they were the DEVIL in disguise! They happened to be a gay couple with their daughter and they were treated so bad I got up and left the table!! I complained with no change, and I also complained to the purser, with no change or apologies. In today's world this ignorant attitude should not be allowed to show on a cruise ship!! These people paid for their cruise, like everyone else, and should be treated like everyone else! I was SICKENED by the treatment of this couple and their daughter!!!! ENTERTAINMENT: RATED: 0...THE ENTERTAINMENT ON THIS SHIP CAN'T EVEN GET A 1 OUT OF 10!!! THE ENTERTAINMENT WAS WORSE THAN HORRIBLE!!!! PRINCESS...get a grip! We will not re-book with Princess because of the LACK or credible entertainment! CRUISE DIRECTOR: RATED 10 OUT OF 10!! Fantastic! This guy did a daily trivia on the TV, get games every night and even let the passengers give a Christmas Singing Program which was the best entertainment of the 21 days! DEBARKATION: ANOTHER 10 OUT OF 10! All went very well and in great order. The only problem was MY mistake. I forgot I had a piece of fruit in my purse and boy did I get scolded by immigration people! I will never do that again! PORTS: All were great EXCEPT Brazil!!!! HORRIBLE, THE WORST, DISGUSTING...ALL are not enough to tell you how horrible this place was! My very worst EVER!! Passengers were mugged and hurt badly!! DO NOT GO! Not only do they make you get a Visa for $500 (couple), but they do not have control of the docks where Princess docks. So...people got broken arms, needing stitches etc. from muggings!!! All in all liked the transatlantic (especially the crossing the equator pool party) and look forward to do another, but I will NEVER go to Brazil again!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Overall we enjoyed the cruise, the ports and transatlantic crossing. There's plenty to eat and activities galore. Unfortunately, due to inclement weather, we were not able to dock in Marseille. We'd recommend the cruise to ... Read More
Overall we enjoyed the cruise, the ports and transatlantic crossing. There's plenty to eat and activities galore. Unfortunately, due to inclement weather, we were not able to dock in Marseille. We'd recommend the cruise to anyone. We are however not as glowing of some specifics of the cruise as some posters. A summary of specifics follow: Cruise Highlights The following on-board sights were especially memorable: Departure from Venice, transiting through the Straits of Gibraltar and entry into Lisbon. Overall, the employees were friendly and helpful, especially the waiters and waitresses in the Wheelhouse Lounge and Crooner's Lounge. Venice Embarkation While Princess had some sixteen check-in counters, there were only three security scanners. Consequently, we stood around for three hours waiting for our boarding number to be called. Ft Lauderdale Disembarkation All passengers were requested to leave their staterooms by 8:00AM to allow for cleanup. We then waited in a public area for three hours waiting for our turn to officially disembark. Our scheduled departure time was 1.5 hours later than scheduled. Stateroom We had an interior stateroom midship on the Baja deck. It was quiet and well-sized. I would have hated to have had a room further down the hall adjacent to the dish washing area. In walking past that section, you could frequently hear the loud clattering of dishes in the hallway. We also talked to a passenger who boarded at Barcelona and was assigned to a stateroom beneath one of the lounges. After considerable complaining about the noise, he was moved to a different stateroom room in Venice. Public Areas The SkyWalkers lounge was excellent for a quiet reading location and great view. In general, the public entertainment areas for shipboard events and showrooms are generally too small to accommodate 3100 passengers. Consequently, the Princess Theater and the Explorer's Lounge have the same shows multiple times per day over a couple days. Also, the Piazza is woefully inadequate for events such as the Captain's reception. Entertainment The major entertainment was fairly good, especially the comedians and solo singers who were very good. In general, the lounge entertainment was merely "acceptable". An exception however was the rock group "Junction 21" which was very good. Unfortunately, the timing of entertainment in the various venues was awkward. Most of the performances are scheduled at the same time and the entertainers took breaks at the same time, making it difficult for passengers to enjoy the wide variety of groups and a full evening sampling of the different entertainers. Food and Dining You could eat at anytime. We especially enjoyed mid-day snacks consisting of ice cream, cookies, pizza and hot dogs (what a combo!). In the evening, we usually ate in the Michelangelo dining room. The food ranged in quality from excellent to average. It seemed that dining room service was better earlier in the evening. Perhaps as the evening progressed, the staff was getting tired. We tried the Cafe Caribe on the German and Curry buffet nights. Both meals were disappointing. "Movie Under the Stars" We attended one of the movies at night for an authentic theater experience. You need to arrive early to claim a "good seat". The theater event includes a lap robe, popcorn, cookies and milk. Information Desk In general, the ship's information desk was dismal. They gave incorrect information as to when we were passing Gibraltar. Additionally, they were unable to provide any useful information on the upcoming ports. Money My advice is to bring your own shore spending money. The ship's on-board ATM charges a minimum of $6 (or $8) for ATM withdrawals. Transportation in Ports If you are traveling as independent passengers (i.e., not scheduled on a Princess cruise excursion), each passenger is charged approximately $8.00 per person per port for bus transportation from the dock to the town center in several of the ports. Considering the overall cost of the cruise, this seems excessive. In several of the ports, the bus transport was necessary since the ports are large industrial areas lacking other transportation options. The bus drop-off points were located conveniently near rapid transit options and information centers with return schedules maintained throughout the day. Cruise Director James Ibrahim, the cruise director, seemed both patronizing and immature. The ship's "The Early Show" is intended to be an important source of information for passengers. Unfortunately, the television program was frequently frivolous and superficial, lacking quality information concerning ports and events on the ship. You had to intently listen through the whole program to filter significant information from the blather. Communication It used to be that passengers would get a daily news summary of current world events. Princess does not provide that. The assumption is apparently that we will access the internet or watch the news on the television. This however is not always possible. During the Atlantic crossing, most network channels including CNN were not available on the cabin televisions. As for the computer center, it is quite small for the size of the ship, and it was not always easy to access a computer. Also, the cost of accessing the internet promotes cautious, careful use. Laundry The ship has numerous high quality, self-service laundry rooms spread throughout the ship. Most of the laundries are small (2 washers/2 dryers). Our experience was that they were frequently very busy. The machines were efficient. We were able to dry a full load of jeans, t-shirts and socks in one drying cycle. You need to plan a couple of hours minimum depending on how long you have to wait for the machines. The change machine did not work one day, so I'd recommend you come prepared with plenty of quarters. Each machine costs $1.50 (quarters only). You can also purchase soap and fabric softener. The laundry room also had two ironing boards and Rowenta irons with automatic shut-off timers. In this day of luggage weight restrictions, there is no need to pack a personal steamer. In closing The above commentary is intended as an open assessment of the cruise. Overall, the cruise was enjoyable, relaxing and worthwhile. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
A little background to get started: We are a family of three (29, 24, and 2) who had been living in Italy for the past 2 1/2 years (my wife is Italian and our daughter - who just turned two for the cruise - was born there) and had ... Read More
A little background to get started: We are a family of three (29, 24, and 2) who had been living in Italy for the past 2 1/2 years (my wife is Italian and our daughter - who just turned two for the cruise - was born there) and had gradually become disenchanted with living there. Italy is a great place to visit and spend a few weeks but actually living there is another story and allows you to appreciate even more being able to live in the USA. Anyway... after going through all of the bureaucratic hula-hoops to get my wife's residency visa, we decided that it would be nice to take a cruise to the US instead of flying - we needed a vacation - and hence settled on the Carnival Dream out of Civitavecchia. The ports of call seemed interesting, it was a new ship, we thought our daughter would be best suited on a Carnival cruise, and Civitavecchia was not that far for us, given that we were coming from Sicily. After renting a car and driving up to Rome the day before, we got up in the morning and headed to Roma Fiumicino as we had to ship some stuff off to the US, and then took a taxi (actually a huge Mercedes van that could have fit 10 people) to Civitavecchia, which is approximately an hour from Rome via car. We were driven right up to the ship and boarding was incredibly simple. It literally took us 10-12 minutes from the time we entered the terminal until the time we were on the ship. We were onboard by 3:30 and took a little time to relax in the stateroom and then head out and meet some CCers at the Sunset bar and grab a bite to eat before getting back to our room (where our luggage had already been delivered), cleaning up, and then it was time for departure. Overall, most of the aspects of the cruise met my expectations, several exceeded, and unfortunately a couple fell short, and now I'll delve into detail about all of that. THE SHIP: The Carnival Dream is obviously a new ship; this was the fourth sailing following three Mediterranean journeys, and is definitely grandiose. On a side note, in Barcelona - the first port - it was docked next to the old Royal Caribbean Sovereign of the Seas, which had once been the largest cruise ship in the world and was actually the ship on which I did my first cruise when I was 11, and just towered over it). The decor was not overwhelming but added an elegant touch, which was nice, given that many people had complained about the last new Carnival ship (Splendor). The exception to that was the Lido buffet area, which didn't really jive well with me. I thought that the ship was designed quite well but there definitely did seem to be a problem with space in several areas, especially outside when the weather was nice and basically all days for breakfast and lunch in the Lido. With this push to continually build larger ships, someone needs to realize that regardless of how many decks you add, your outside space remains extremely limited, and architects can only increase that slightly by adding to the length and width of the ship. Therefore on a ship with 2000 or 3500 or 5500 passengers (i.e. the new Oasis of the Seas), the outside space still remains more or less equivalent to one deck. Many of the guests who had previously sailed with Carnival as well as much of the staff lamented on this very issue. One other consideration is that this was a Transatlantic sailing that generally played to an older crowd... I'm sure the space issues would be compounded in a Caribbean setting with a younger crowd. Overall I was pleased with the ship itself but people need to be wary of that fact that at times they will definitely note the 3600 passengers. STATEROOM: We were in a balcony stateroom (8F) on the Panorama deck and had no complaints whatsoever. The room was spacious enough for the three of us with a large bed, a sofa, sitting area, etc., and it was well designed. No space issues, no storage issues, and I thought the location of the room was perfect for us as it was very close the gym, easy to get outside and head to the Lido deck when we wanted to go enjoy the sunshine or go eat at the buffet, and close to the central elevators to get around the ship. No noise issues either. GYM/SPA: I'm into working out, natural bodybuilding, and personal training, and hence I did head to the gym basically everyday. The equipment that is there is new and definitely high quality, but the gym itself is limited by the space available and again, I feel that it could definitely be an issue with a younger crowd that is more physically active. The first few days it was packed, mostly with people who had no clue what they were doing and several who failed to practice proper gym etiquette (sitting on machines and talking, improper technique, improper gym attire). Furthermore, they need to invest in heavier dumbells and a free weight area would not be a bad idea. I understand that it's a moving ship but as long the heavier weights are utilized by guests who know how to workout, it's not a problem. I never used the spa services but from what I saw, it seemed nice but the products/services are overpriced. SERVICE: For the most part, the best part of our cruise. Maybe we were just fortunate, but I found the service on the Carnival Dream to be wonderful, especially for our 2 year old daughter who was treated so well by the vast majority of the staff and really assisted us in making it a pleasant cruise for us. Our stateroom steward and his staff were always available, took care of every request, and kept our room in immaculate condition, which can be difficult when a certain 2 year old is free inside! The dining staff did a fantastic job as well; we were in the Crimson dining room with "Your Time" dining (hence on the 4th floor) and always had fantastic service, starting with the hostesses and continued by the waiters/waitresses, their assistants, etc. One of the bar waitresses, Usanee, basically babysat our daughter after she was finished eating so that we could enjoy our dinner. Our comment cards were filled with praise for the dining staff. PORTS OF CALL: I will be brief here, as these are ports that will not be visited by the Dream again in the foreseeable future. Basically the ports that we thought were going to be the worst turned out the best and vice versa (with the exception of Bermuda, which we were expecting to be nice and was). Barcelona was okay but it's more of a city to visit for two or three days at a leisurely pace instead of just 10 hours or whatever. Palma de Mallorca was wonderful; very clean and lots to do and not too touristy (it probably is worse in the summer, but great for us). We did not like Malaga (Sunday/holiday and hence nothing was open) or Las Palmas in the Canary Islands (the city seems dirty and the beach was nothing great), and as previously mentioned, enjoyed Bermuda. CAMP CARNIVAL: In one word: AWFUL. The biggest disappointment of the cruise, without a doubt. I was expecting my daughter to have a wonderful time but she absolutely hated it. Yes, she is 2 years old and likes to have her mommy and daddy nearby, but the camp counselors were no good at all and did very little to interact with the younger children and get them involved. Kids who are 5 or 8 or whatever are able to independently play and organize themselves a little bit, but two year olds?!? The room itself seemed wonderful but they basically just sat the kids there and watched TV or had them do whatever, and often didn't follow the planned schedule that was given to us. Perhaps the counselors were so pathetic and lethargic because they were always out during the night getting plastered?!? This includes the Youth Director who I saw out one night and was so inebriated that she couldn't put a sentence together. Disgraceful. Needless to say, we stopped even attempting to bring our daughter to Camp Carnival after a week or so. POOLS/OUTSIDE AREAS/WATER PARK: Never used the pools or hot tubs (again, crowded) but did enjoy the water slides with my daughter, who after discovering them wanted to go basically everyday) but could only do the little ones because... well... she's 2. When my wife was there with us, I had a little liberty to enjoy the twister slides. NIGHTLIFE/SOCIAL AREAS/ENTERTAINMENT: Average, but that's kind of what I expected, given the older crowd on the cruise. I only stayed out after 11 PM or so on three occasions and just for a couple of hours (as my wife went to bed with our daughter), but it seemed that us "youth" always ended up at the Piano Bar. The Caliente disco was nothing great and the music sucked... never really spent much time in the Ocean Plaza. I'm not one for shows and entertainment - I tend to keep myself entertained pretty well - but I did see the hypnotist and then one of the main shows ("Dancing on the Streets", I believe). The hypnotist was amusing; the main show was average for my tastes but others enjoyed it. FOOD: I hope this is the last thing that comes to mind because I'm getting a little tired of typing, but here it goes... Overall, the food met my expectations and I get a little tired of reading complaints from people who are under the impression that every meal on a Carnival cruise should be like a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars or whatever. People need to realize that there are 3600 guests and obviously some of the ingredients are not going to be completely fresh as they have to keep them stored. With that said, the breakfast was fine at the beginning but they could have used a little variation; the only variation that I noted was that one day they had pancakes and then the next french toast. The Lido buffet lunch was not so great; often food was cold and undercooked. Towards the end of the cruise, we avoided it all together and would always go for the pasta bar, the burrito bar, or the grill. The pasta bar was good - yes, it's not Italy, but I thought it was fine for a cruise. The burritos were wonderful; at least for me, the best part of lunch. Room service was fine; nothing special on the menu, but always got there reasonably quick. I was happy with the dinner in the MDR (we went to the buffet the first night but then the MDR every night afterwards with the exception of one night in the Steakhouse). Some people complained about the lack of variation of the menu but it seemed okay to me. There were a couple of nights that dinner was not so great (but still edible); however most of the meals were tasteful, well presented, and of a quality that I was expecting. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience. I'm sure that there are several minor details that I could have covered but I hope that I've hit most of the major points here. It wasn't a perfect cruise but it was definitely good and was certainly a great way to move back to the USA. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
We recently returned from a Black Sea /Med/Trans Atlantic Odyssey, including a four night package in Rome prior to embarking on this awesome adventure. Air and hotel were all part of the package with 38 days aboard the elegant explorer, ... Read More
We recently returned from a Black Sea /Med/Trans Atlantic Odyssey, including a four night package in Rome prior to embarking on this awesome adventure. Air and hotel were all part of the package with 38 days aboard the elegant explorer, HAL's venerable M/S Prinsendam We left Calgary on October 13th during a major snow storm, our normal 25 minute journey took an hour and a half but we left in lots of time so arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare. Because of the weather the plane had to be de iced so we were delayed about a half hour. We had a connecting flight in Frankfurt which was quite tight and by the time we passed through German immigration, we missed it and so were booked on another, about an hour and a half later. The Rome airport was a zoo, there was no sign of any HAL personnel who were supposed to meet us plus one of our bags was missing. By the time we realized this about an hour and a half had passed, so after talking to the airport authorities and finding that our bag had not accompanied us, arrangements were made to forward it to us at the hotel and thankfully it did arrive later that night. We were tired and cranky so took a taxi to the Visconti Palace Hotel, there we talked to the HAL rep who informed us that her duties ended when we were not on the flight. We tried to get reimbursed for the taxi, but to no avail, take it up with HAL was her final answer. The Visconti Palace is centrally located and within walking distance of the Spanish steps and Trevi fountain, The hotel puts on an excellent buffet breakfast hot and cold, and was included in the price. The rooms are quite nice and there is no noise from the street. The noise between rooms however is another matter, the walls are paper thin and even with TVs turned down, you can still hear it along with every shower and toilet flush. Hal put on an Italian dinner for the 7 of us who were partaking of the pre cruise package. It was held at a lovely restaurant just a short walk from the hotel, the problem was it was for 7pm on the evening of our arrival and most of us were nodding off at the table. We all got on well, which was great cos the next few days we would spend a lot of time together. The next day we were on our own and the 7 of us with help from the HAL rep organized a tour of Rome with some excellent stops at places where we would have the best vantage points for picture taking. It was very inexpensive and we all thought it was great. Next day we had a 7am departure time for our included tour of Siena and San Gimigano, the 20 seater bus looked perfect for a long day but after a while the lack of padding in the seats became uncomfortably obvious. The sights of Siena, the piazza the cappuccinos and gelatos and history were fantastic and lunch at a local farm was a delight. They made their own wine and everyone made purchases to take aboard the ship. Our long day was made even longer by 3 traffic collisions and grid lock on the way back to Rome. We eventually arrived at the hotel at about 8pm, so it was a quick pizza for us and bed. On this day we would visit the Vatican and it's environs, although this was considered out of season it was extremely crowded, we saw the Sistine chapel, and museum, all way too crowded for me, most of us had seen it all before so it's never like the first time, but well worth visiting none the less. Our last night in Rome and we dined at a lovely restaurant (the name eludes me) but good restaurants are not hard to find in Rome,the owner serenaded us along with opera that played in the background all evening, the food was good and a great way to conclude our visit to the eternal city. October 18th and our bus picked us up a little late but it was a Sunday and the journey to Civitavecchia took only an hour and a half, there in her berth, waiting for us was the M/S Prinsendam looking much the same as she did in 2005 when we were last aboard. Our cabin 452 was much the same too, except we had no balcony this time but a nice window and comfortably amid ship. The bathrooms had all been refurbished and were quite practical and pleasing to the eye, ours had only a shower but for us that's not a problem. There was a pull out sofa beside the king size bed, and the bed can be split on request. The room , apart from not being able to pass by if someone is using the stool at the bottom of the bed was spacious enough for us and made a great home away from home. The Prinsendam is showing her age some and we heard complaints of no hot water, phones and fridges not working and the like. Elevators were breaking down too but we still love this ship and it will be a shame when HAL eventually decides to let her go. Cut backs, and there have been some, are vehemently denied by the crew, company policy no doubt. Breakfast and lunch in La Fontaine dining room were painfully slow due to staff cutbacks, I'm told that room stewards now have twice the number of rooms to clean, yet on questioning head waiters and the like, "no cutbacks" was the ubiquitous answer though it's obvious that there have been. Those young and not so young men and women are truly overworked yet you would be hard pressed to read it in their faces. Cruise staff seemed to feel their days are numbered too and we're told that Prinsendam is the only ship in the fleet that has any dam dollar events and that that won't be for long. More enrichment programs will be added in their place, they say. Our on board travel guide Frank, was very knowledgeable about the history of each and every port of call and great to listen to, our other speaker George a former "diplomat" talked of what has gone on before to make the middle east what it is today and how the U.S.A. fits into the world as it is now and what it is becoming. As one might imagine it caused great debate. We called at some 21 ports over the 38 days and we enjoyed them all, some we had visited before, most we had not. We loved Istanbul and enjoyed our overnight stay there and Sochi Russia with it's warm weather and palm trees was a surprise, not to mention Stalin's dacha. Batumi Georgia and Gabes Tunisia gave us the most culture shock, both places dirt poor but interesting to wander around and they definitely made us appreciate home. We took only two ships tours, most of our tours were arranged through friends we'd met on CC and were booked months before we sailed, all were excellent, thank you Jennie and Linda. Suffice to say that after the busyness of our ports of call, we looked forward to another Atlantic crossing, a time to rest up and adjust to getting home again. One never knows what to expect crossing an ocean and I believe it was our 3rd day out of Madeira when we spotted a lonely sail boat heading for the Azores. For the most part it was very smooth with only a little wobble for two of the seven days we were at sea. We arrived back to reality and rain in Ft. Lauderdale, Grumpy stevedores and delayed flights but we made it home safely with new friends and wonderful memories and pictures, lots of pictures. All in all this voyage was all and more than we had hoped, and for those with the time to do it, I highly recommend the itinerary and the old but still warm and friendly M/S Prinsendam. Toeknee Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
The cruise.. in a nutshell.. Flew to NYC, and then got on the big bird, 777, to London, man that beast looks big, especially when you sit in row 42 of 43 rows.. LOL. Tiny seats, no leg room.. the body curves so you really don't have ... Read More
The cruise.. in a nutshell.. Flew to NYC, and then got on the big bird, 777, to London, man that beast looks big, especially when you sit in row 42 of 43 rows.. LOL. Tiny seats, no leg room.. the body curves so you really don't have much legroom on the window seat, but we figured it beats the 5 seats in the middle... let the time warp start! The sun was up and then it was DOWN and then it was UP. We moved our watched up SIX hours today... We arrive at Heathrow, the passport check went very quickly.. then we got our luggage, pretty easy... and found our van for the trip to Dover.. nice trip over.. saw a bit of the landscape in England, looks like any other place really.. some like Nebraska.. rolling hills... rainy day. Arrive at Dover, cruise terminal, we check in and sit for 3 hours.. heck had we known this we would have given up all our luggage and done something in Dover, it looks like a small place.. Around 2 PM we finally get on the ship, but not to our room, not until around 2:30.. the lifeboat drill is at 3:30.. so we hang out until then... did a bit of unpacking. room is great, lots of good shelves and drawers, no problems there... scads of room and plenty of hangers.. just right actaully. Ship is nice, big and clean..... immediately we notice the ages, we are YOUNG very young.. really young, VERY young.. and we are thinking this may not be a good thing.. LOL. Looked like the average cruising age for this trip was in the 70 to 75 range. And we found out 400 on the ship had been on the ship for 12 nights already, with the Baltics cruise, which we hear is wonderful... maybe one day, but not for a couple of decades.. LOL. We find the Garden Cafe and get a bite to eat, food looks good enough... we are really tired, so we skip the first night of entertainment, which we heard later was a good comedian... . The Freestyle cruising is different. you eat when you want, but to go to the Tzars palace you must dress up a bit, (no jeans)... mostly we went to Azure, same food, and shared big tables, which is very interesting when you eat with Americans, lots of Canadians and mix in some Europeans... kind of fun. Fish... first night on the ship I ordered the Red Snapper, it was so tough I couldn't get a knife into it.. really I had no idea one could cook fish long enough to make it like a rubber ball, our table of 8 was very impressed with it.. we all played with it. Our waiter didn't think it was very humorous and he took a long time to bring me a replacement dish.. this was my first impression. The two nights they offered Lobster (tiny tail) it was very tough, the second time one the waiters asked me how my food was, so I told him, " my lobster is very tough".. so he kindly brought me another, which was also very tough, so hubby got three lobster tails that night. The fish was generally very overcooked. the fish and chips in the Blue Lagoon was very good. This is how tea works. the doors open at 3 PM you file in and sit wherever you want.. and everyone is served at the same time.. we enjoyed it, the little cucumber sandwiches are really tasty... the English however noted that this is not how high tea is served.. no gloves ect.. for us it was fine. Never did meet our steward in person, we saw several in the halls, but never did one introduce himself... (Carnival cruise we met our Steward three times the first day and we were given a card with his name and number in case we needed anything). Room was kept very clean and nice, we didn't get to enjoy many towel animals though.. we got two rabbits and a snake in our 11 nights.. we are funny we enjoy those little extra's.. Room service: one night we skipped the big restaurants and they had coconut cream pie, later on I was hungry for it.. and we called for it and we were told, "sorry it is not on the menu"... (doesn't it all come from the same galley)... so we didn't order anything.. the room service menu is set in stone, never changes... so next day at the Garden Cafe I enjoyed a nice piece of Coconut Cream Pie......... it wasn't like I asked them to make ME a coconut cream pie, it was already being served in the two nice dining rooms. Free style dining, pros and cons...... con you never get the same waiter even if you go to the same table two nights in a row.... pro you eat when and where you want... we enjoyed sharing most nights... depending on the menu's we would decide to eat in a dining room or the cafe. Tzars is nicer, but we found the service to be very slow at times... Azure quicker. The entertainment, we heard a lot of complaints about it, but we personally found it to be OK, all fairly enjoyable, the dance shows were really great and the Cirque show the last night is one not to miss, very well done even in very rough seas. The seas were very rough at times, and it was bit nauseating, so we drank water, and skipped the alcohol, and I took off my damn scopolamine patch it was making me very dry.. and I did just fine without it.. but now I know, we can both handle very rough seas, I was really amazed at no one lost their balance, but the staff was good to help folks out if they needed it, carrying their food etc... The side to side roll and up and down of the ship was quite evident at times.. you'd sit in the theatre with the curtain closed waiting for a show to start and the curtain would sway significantly from side to side.. Stay well hydrated and just keep eating.... I did feel badly for two young sisters, they were in the dining room at lunch and clearly green with sea sickness, so the waiter offered gingerale, and then collected $1.95 for each one... now I realize the ship needs to make $$ and they can't help the rough seas, but really it seems like they could have just let them have two free cans of gingerale. The conversations were interesting.. one day we sat with a French lady, and it was hard to understand each other, but we had an interesting conversation about many things. Some of the cruisers were very well traveled, they have been everywhere twice! In fact many seemed bored with the ports of call, they prefer the days at sea... many read all the time, saw Kindles everywhere.. and people playing cards, dominio's etc.. some never left the ship at all. Each port was interesting, Iceland wasn't as interesting as I had dreamt, but the Blue Lagoon was a big highlight for us... we only had about 90 minutes there, but it really was enough. Lerwick was sweet, quaint. Halifax was very, very interesting, it was nice to do a half day of exploring on our own, we covered a lot of ground on foot, and boy we felt it. The next day was nice getting on a bus and going to Peggy's Cove, had a wonderful narrator who was born and raised in Nova Scotia, and she loves her city... that is a one beautiful place, and the rain Gods were kind to us, it poured rain all the way over, stopped when we arrived, and started again as we left. The seas there are fascinating to watch, and the huge smooth rocks very cool to walk on. Then the city tour the hop off and on buses was nice, we just sat and listened to our narrator talk about the city... Halifax is a very livable city. Canada is nice, and the people are very nice. Iceland we did a gray line tour, at a much cheaper price than what NCL offered... and in Lerwick we just walked around, in Halifax we booked two NCL tours which were comparable in price to Gray Line. One of the big highlights was getting up very early and watching the Statue of Liberty as we sailed by her... really it gives you a feeling for what our forefathers saw as they traveled into NYC to immigrate here.. of course not on a great ship such as ours.. but still pretty neat... We slid under one of the big bridges, it really looks like you won't make it under, very cool to see... and then to watch the sun rise up over New York City.. way cool... the pics don't do it justice. A great trip, no big problems, we had jet lag for days, and shared a cold back and forth a bit... and at times the trip was a bit dull, but enjoyable.. The ship was exquisitely clean, and they sprayed our hands before entering the buffet or any restaurant... nice. The cruise lines are big on getting you to book another cruise or put down a deposit.. at once of the events. the cruise director asked for a show of hands on how many put down deposits or rebooked.. and ONE person raised their hand.. it was rather telling. The speciality restaurants, if you walk by them, no one is dining there... and we noticed every day they had a special for them, buy one get one free, etc.. they really don't get any business to speak of and those who did use it complained they would try to get a 7PM reservation but they could only get a 6:15 or 8PM slot, so when they would arrive at say 8 PM they would be the ONLY diners, the guess is it has to do with staffing.. We heard Cagneys' had tough steaks, but that Mama's pasta is delicious. The Garden Cafe does stay really busy and then you have those travelers who seem to show up at 0700 for breakfast and then they set up a table for dominos near the window and never move till the sun sets. We saw one couple (two people) setting at the same window table for 8 every day... this is OK when the place is not busy, but during dining times they should give it up .... The food is fairly bland, but tolerable, the older folks couldn't get enough salt to come out of the shakers... (we found it to be salted just fine). The chilled soups are good and offered daily. The vegetable consume was wonderful on a rough sea day. The cappucino/latte machines are great. The lounges are nice, as is the entertainment they provide, the Spinnaker lounge is really nice, too bad it's used for everything from bingo to trivia, it'd be nice to just be able to sit and relax in there and lounge around a bit. The dance troupe is wonderful, I was surprised they didn't utilize them more in the entertainment.. I think in the 11 nights we saw them three times. It was interesting to hear conversations about the stars... the hypnotist talked about his "Vegas show".. and all his CD's.. it makes one wonder why is he in the middle of the Atlantic selling his CD'sx for "half off"... Everything with NCL seems to have a selling point.. the Chinese medicine guy (from Brazil) ended his talk about Chinese Medicine selling his "special formula's for life"... After a while it makes you not want to go to a lecture because you feel like it's going to be a marketing scheme for something. The $25 laundry bag is costly! Not having a guest laundry is definitely a way to make more $$$ off your guests.... we packed enough to last. The cabin had plenty of room for everything. The Showers are great!! no curtain, rather a nice door, so you don't have a wet bathroom everyday. Plenty of good bathrooms all over the ship, and very clean and nice. We noticed in the last three nights of the cruise the staff became much more friendly and conversational... in the first nine nights they were just doing a job. and many looked rather worn down... The crew entertainment on the last night was hilarious!! And we missed the Liars club, we heard it was also hilarious. NCL didn't get our $250 for another cruise, but we'd use them again, this cruise was unusual in that it was repositioning 11 night trip, so the clientele will be older as not many in the 40 to 50 age range can take off that long from life. If you prefer a cruise with no or very few kids this is the one.. we saw maybe 12 children on the ship, and about that many teenagers. The chocoholic buffet is a must go, as it is some of the best dessert you will get on ship.. the souffles were good, but most of the desserts were not worth the calories, especially the jello type cheesecake, not the touted New York Style cheesecake which is clearly is not. The ice cream is good and can be had at anytime in the Garden Cafe. And my one big complaint is when we would go to a lounge to enjoy a show, the waiters would come along and take our drink order, often we would order Ice water, they would smile and say OK and never come back. one night we had three different waiters take our drink order and finally one gal brought us ONE glass of water (no ice) to share... One guy during trivia actually brought us water on the first try and we got a $5 tip from me... he was so pleased and he gave us great service all through that event. The waiters should bring whatever you order, as we may then order a real drink later.. or we may give them a real tip for water.. but many assumed incorrectly. Also if they put a napkin down in front of you, that seems to be a signal to other waiters, of "don't bother they aren't ordering real drinks"... Iceland's port offered 15 minutes of intenret for $2.. $3 for 30 minutes.. NCL is slow and costly. Really this is about ICELAND .. (not listed in the offering).. we stopped in Reykjavik.. do the Blue Lagoon.. it's wonderful!!! We did the city tour in the am.. and Blue Lagoonin the afternoon.. via Gray Line.. the cost was much more reasoanble and we felt very safe.. The port building at Reykjavik has internet for $2 for 15 and only $3 for 30 minutes.. very useful.. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
We started off feeling like we were stranded in the airport at Gatwick. Once we got through customs and into the terminal building there was no NCL person to be found. We wanted to take the NCL bus to the port, I had contacted NCL prior to ... Read More
We started off feeling like we were stranded in the airport at Gatwick. Once we got through customs and into the terminal building there was no NCL person to be found. We wanted to take the NCL bus to the port, I had contacted NCL prior to our departure and was assured that our name would be put on the "list" to reserve space on the bus for us. I went to the airport information desk and had the NCL representative paged, and got no response. Since there was no answer to our page I went and enquired about taking either a bus or train to Dover, none would have made it to the port on time. I was almost ready to take a taxi to the port when I decided to have the rep paged again. This time the page went out to "the Norwegian Cruise Line representative" and a rep showed up in about 5 minutes. She was about 5'3" and holding her NCL sign at chest level! She explained that she was looking for another couple, I suggested that my husband hold the sign up in the air for all to see but the offer was declined so we stood there while she ran around looking for the missing people. We stood waiting for over 1 hour, she finally found the missing couple in another terminal. Our coach left around 12:30 and so by the time we arrived at the ship there were no lines to check in and we were at our cabin in no time. Our cabin was on deck 4, forward. It had a porthole. It is hard to describe here but the porthole was recessed and the water got into the porthole and spun around in it like a front loading washing machine. The noise was terrible. After 2 sleepless nights in the cabin we were moved to a cabin on deck 8, thanks to the efforts of John O'Hara the hotel director. There were many people on this cruise who seemed to have no regard for other passengers. I have read here that the Garden Cafe (buffet) staff didn't bus the tables fast enough and at times this was true, the staff was busy talking to each other and weren't moving very fast. This is true of a lot of companies...if the boss isn't around then slack off a little. My complaint would be not of NCL but of the people who seemed to think it was perfectly okay to sit at a table during peak times (while others were carrying around plates of food looking for a place to sit) and bring out needlepoint, dominoes, books or cards. The food was okay but we knew that we were not going to get gourmet meals...we went for the itinerary which is what attracts us to NCL in the first place. We ate in Mama's Italian restaurant on one night, the rest of the time we ate in Tsars Palace for dinner. We usually had breakfast and lunch at the buffet. We are not picky and always found something to our liking. Cookies and ice cream seemed to be a big hit with all of the passengers. We went to most of the shows and enjoyed them. We bought a spa pass for the 2 of us, $169 for the cruise. Single passes were available for $20 per day or $50 on port days and the port day pass was only good from 8 - 2 pm. We enjoyed the heated loungers and the large spa tub although it did need a good scrubbing by the end of the cruise. Watching the sunset from the front windows of the spa was really a treat. Lerwick, Shetland Island was our first port. The pier was right in the town and since we were exhausted from our first night in the "washing machine room" we did not have any tours booked. We walked along the streets and window shopped, we also took a lot of pictures of the quaint little houses about the town. Our second port was Rekjavik, Iceland. We booked a ship tour to the Blue Lagoon Spa.We had a very informative guide who told us the history of Iceland and explained much of what we were seeing on the way to the Blue Lagoon. I think it took about 45 minutes to get there. When we arrived at the Blue Lagoon we were given plastic wrist bands similar to thick wrist watch straps. This wrist band got you through the turnstiles and also doubled as the key to your locker. We were told that it was necessary to take a "naked" shower prior to entering the lagoon but there was no attendant to enforce this. Everyone that I saw obeyed the signs and took a "naked" shower. The lagoon itself was very nice, the water was an odd milky blue colour and in some areas of the lagoon the water was a little hotter than others. In a couple of places on the perimeter of the lagoon there were crates that had long ladles for scooping up silica mud to put on your face. There was also an area that had a waterfall as well as an area that had a steam bath and another with a sauna. We were in the water about 1.5 hours and really enjoyed our stay. On the way out there is a gift shop that sells all kind of products made from the minerals and mud from the lagoon. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
We chose Costa because of the itinerary; the first time that they had sailed into New York. We started in Savona where embarking was frankly shambolic! It took over 3 hours to embark with no announcements as to what was taking so long. ... Read More
We chose Costa because of the itinerary; the first time that they had sailed into New York. We started in Savona where embarking was frankly shambolic! It took over 3 hours to embark with no announcements as to what was taking so long. Once on board we were very impressed with the 10 deck atrium and the public areas on the Atlantica are very impressive. English speakers were definitely in the minority with the rest of the guests being Italian and French. This didn't bother us but where a film would be shown in English in a small meeting room the Italians and French got comfy seats in the theatre and inexplicably the muster/safety video on the TV was never shown in English! There were some lectures (about NYC, the history of the Atlantic crossing, etc) on sea days which were very good but again not all of them were done in English. The lectures and films were subsequently shown on the TV in the cabin but again the English version was missing. You could pay to watch a film in your cabin but at Euros 8.95 we thought it a bit steep especially as the films weren't that good anyway. The cabin was of a good size with plenty of wardrobe space and generously sized comfortable bed. Cabin steward service was excellent. Our only problem was that (as we were on late sitting for dinner) the water wasn't as hot as we would like in the evenings, but was fine in the mornings. We were a little disappointed with the food on the Atlantica. It was not very tasty and sometimes wasn't particularly warm but it was plentiful with lots of choice. We ate at the Club Atlantica (which inexplicably turned into the Tuscan Steakhouse half way through the cruise with a different menu and was always shown in the "Today" magazine as fully booked - we think it was solely for the use of Costa Club members then). We weren't impressed with the Club Atlantica; the food was cold - served on cold plates which is a particular bug bear of mine - and we didn't feel it was worth the Euros 20 per head extra it cost, but it was our wedding anniversary and with a nice bottle of fizz we had a very nice evening. Service in the main restaurant was excellent if a little rushed (the waiters would clear plates of those who had finished before the others had finished). The waiters were friendly as you would expect. The buffet restaurant was a bit of a nightmare at first with a lot of shoving and pushing by (I have to say) the Italians, but over time they did calm down and it was quite civilised. The buffet food was OK but again nothing special really. The desserts were particularly disappointing - they looked different but seemed to taste the same. Traditional Afternoon Tea served in the Cafe Florian was nice especially as you were able to get your tea in a proper cup rather than the plastic ones in the buffet. We had breakfast once in the main restaurant and it did make a nice change to be served and the eggs benedict were excellent (as were the breakfast muffins). The entertainment was a mixed bag really. The usual glitzy shows in the theatre which aren't our thing although the Tenor Alberti Jelboni was excellent. We never watched the entertainment in the Piazza Madame Butterfly because the quiz/games/competitions were geared solely for the Italians and it didn't look like any English was spoken at all. The Corello Lounge was not very popular but the band that played there at the beginning of the cruise were excellent. The pianist in the Atrium bar was excellent as were the classical trio in Cafe Florian. You really could wander around the ship and take your pick on the music being played. We usually settled for the Atrium bar and we were well served by the Head Barman Joel. Ports of call were good being Barcelona, Lisbon, The Azores and then the wonderful arrival into NYC which although earlier than billed (4am rather than 6am) was a wonderful experience. The atmosphere on the boat as we entered the harbour was magical. Sailing out of New York at dusk is something I would recommend and was worth the whole trip on its own. We then went to Newport Rhode Island which we loved; a great place to wander around. The next stop was Charlottetown on Price Edward Island which we were not impressed with at all (it should have been Boston but they had to change it before the Cruise). We ended up in Quebec City which was another nice place to wander around. Most of the English speaking excursions were cancelled because the numbers were too low which disappointed some people but we prefer to do our own thing so this didn't worry us but many of the English speakers were not happy about this. The port information provided was not that good (we have received much more comprehensive information on other boats which would give more details about getting taxis, etc. The port information Cost provided was simply about the history of theport). Our only real problem with the cruise was the price of the drinks at Euros 7 (which included a 15% service fee which was put on every drink). There was also a Euro 10 service charge per cabin per day which meant that it was not necessary to tip any of the staff at the end of the cruise. This meant that our tips (being the service charge on each drink and the daily charge) came to over Euro 300, so you didn't really feel like tipping any individual staff members All in all we enjoyed our Cruise on the Costa Atlantica. Would we choose Costa again? Well quite frankly we are not particularly loyal Cruisers having been on four different cruises with four different companies, so it is the itineraries that attract us rather than the company. If Costa had an itinerary which we fancied doing we would sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
I had been anxiously awaiting the transatlantic cruise for months and it was finally here! We spent 3 amazing days in Paris, no snobby or unfriendly Parisians were encountered, and 2 in London. Even though the itinerary of the ... Read More
I had been anxiously awaiting the transatlantic cruise for months and it was finally here! We spent 3 amazing days in Paris, no snobby or unfriendly Parisians were encountered, and 2 in London. Even though the itinerary of the transatlantic cruise said Paris (Le Havre), the city of Paris is 2 1/2 hours away by train or bus! No way was I not seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night! We arranged for our own transportation to the Harwich Terminal and it took a good 2 hours from London. The train stops right at the Terminal so next time that will be the method. The check in was a breeze and we were off! I was disappointed by the cabin, so small, and it was a balcony on the 6th deck. The beds are horrible!! Those egg crates for padding that they try and appease you with are just as bad. Room service was punctual but was never hot when it got to our room. Our attendant was exceptional as was all the service throughout the trip. The crew make the experience since you're spending practically 24/7 together. The ship is showing its' age. I was disappointed with the entire cruise. Amazing with the 3 other reviews on the same ship, we could have such different experiences. The food was ok at best and the only good meal was the Parade dinner. The entertainment was ok, the activities were the same. The bingo king was obnoxious while he took he was being cute. The shore excursions were varied and well organized. I'm not sure if the excursions at St. John, NF were cancelled because of the bumpy ride or the fact that we left Reykjavik 3-4 hours late! We were on board before departure time (remember they'll leave you behind) and we saw bus after bus pull up and watch as it snaked through the port building to get everyone back on board! What a joke! The sea were high between Scotland and Reykjavik and then onto Canada. The dining was sparse a couple of nights and the entertainment cancelled. I felt that the quality of the Celebrity cruise had slipped since our last cruise. While you think you'd be treated differently, the specials offered on board were better than what they offered their repeat customers. Shame! Some cabins lost their luggage for the entire trip from the Celebrity transfers out of Heathrow airport. We had to lend them some of our clothes because Celebrity had only given them complimentary laundry services at the time. Can you imagine a 2 week cruise with the clothes you wore on the plane? Yikes!! I chose this cruise because of the Celebrity name, the ports and because it was my husbands' first trip to Europe. However, it will probably be my last cruise with Celebrity. Outside of the amazing service and crew it was just an ok ship with ok food and entertainment.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2009

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