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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
We picked this cruise because we've always wanted to do a Mexican Riveria cruise and this one worked for our time off from work. We did not travel with any children or anyone else...just the husband and myself!! The Miracle is a ... Read More
We picked this cruise because we've always wanted to do a Mexican Riveria cruise and this one worked for our time off from work. We did not travel with any children or anyone else...just the husband and myself!! The Miracle is a smaller ship compared to the other ships we've sailed on, but it was still an amazing vessel. The cabin crew, wait staff, and all other employees were very helpful and friendly! Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly. This was the first time that we purchased FTTF and it was worth it. We had a balcony room and it was nice to see the sea whenever we wanted from the comfort of our own room. It was also nice to see the sunsets/sunrise plus ports. The food on the ship was amazing. Most of our table had 3 lobsters on Christmas!! The entertainment was amazing. This cruise we also went to a couple of art auctions, it was a great experience and something that we will now look forward to on any future cruises! The ports we went to were: Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. Cabo: We did a third party excursion of whale watching and snorkeling around Land's End. The time difference between local time and ship time made us a bit late so we took a water taxi to catch up to the sail boat. We had a fun time and we were able to see some whales! Lands End is really pretty. The snorkeling...lots of people were in the water but it was very cool to almost cold water. I don't do cold water so I ended up staying on the boat. I prefer Caribbean water as it is warm. Mazatlan: Here we did the hop on/off bus and we had a great time! We got off first in old town and went and took pictures of the Cathedral We walked around a bit of the city and had fun. The next stop was new town and had shopping and eating places by the ocean. Went to a shrimp place and had the best shrimp!! Third stop was to see the cliff divers...I would skip this as there isn't much to see or do at this stop. I would spend my time at the other to stops. Puerto Vallarta: If you want to sit back and relax, go to Marriott resort. We hung out poolside and had drinks and food all day plus got to play in the inifinty pool. Although it was fun to see the areas and explore Mexico we definately like the caribbean better with the warm beautiful blue/green waters! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
This cruise was my third time aboard the Ruby Princess, having boarded the ship one year ago with the same destination (Holiday Mexican Rivera). My family and I enjoy cruising on mid-sized ships. Mexico was humid, but nice overall! My ... Read More
This cruise was my third time aboard the Ruby Princess, having boarded the ship one year ago with the same destination (Holiday Mexican Rivera). My family and I enjoy cruising on mid-sized ships. Mexico was humid, but nice overall! My favorite port was Cabo. Although I have already been to all the destinations, the cruising experience never really gets old. As a seasoned cruiser, I have learned that each cruise is a completely different experience. Since this was a Christmas cruise, Santa came and handed out presents in the Atrium (there were stuffed-animals for the younger kids and Popsockets for the tweens/teens). Note: the pools were very, very crowded. The best times to go were when everyone else was at port or right after embarkation (tip: don't store your suit in your luggage because it takes a while for it to arrive in your cabin). Other than trivia and bingo, there wasn't as much to do compared to the bigger ships on RCL like Oasis of the Seas where you can ice-skate, zip-line, rock-climb, etc... As for the demographics, most of the passengers were Americans from the LA area. I liked the Movies Under the Stars and also having the messenger system on my phone to communicate with other guests. One tip for Princess would be to make it so that guests can receive a notification on their phones when they get a message (maybe w/ an app?) because it was annoying having to refresh the website to receive new messages. I enjoyed watching The Voice of the Ocean because the singing performances were fantastic, there were actual swirling chairs, and the audience got to choose the winner. Embarkation went very smoothly, but disembarkation could have went a bit quicker. Overall, this cruise was worth the price and I would definitely sail again with Princess. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We went on the Norwegian Jewel for the New Years Eve cruise. Was it crowded? Yes. Was it fun? Yes. All in all everything was just fine. The Ship itself is in good condition. No failures or issues to report. Our cabin was an Oceanview ... Read More
We went on the Norwegian Jewel for the New Years Eve cruise. Was it crowded? Yes. Was it fun? Yes. All in all everything was just fine. The Ship itself is in good condition. No failures or issues to report. Our cabin was an Oceanview on deck 5 and was OK. No problems there either. The entertainment was actually very good, which I've noticed is common across the Norwegian line. Highlights were the Magician Greg Gleason and the Russian Acrobat couple. Service was very good, Everyone we encountered were friendly and had smiles. (some we talked to were on their last cruise before vacation). Since we are Silver Latitude members and guests of the Casino, we were invited to a couple private events plus drinks on the house, which is always appreciated! We took one shore excursion which was the Las Caletas Beach Hideaway in Puerto Vallarta. This place is fantastic with a wide variety water sports, free drinks and the best Mexican buffet lunch I've ever had. I actually can't wait to go back to this place. Well worth the money. Mazatlan was a little more laid back, we ate at Poncho's Restaurant in the Golden Zone, which has a very nice view of the beach and great food. Our favorite was Cabo San Lucas. The local cuisine in this city is simply awesome. The only draw back on this cruise was the overall dining experience. The Chin Chin Asian Restaurant was awful. Not even closely resembling anything Chinese or Asian. My wife and I got up and walked out with food still on the table. Yes, it was that bad. Another bad experience was Moderno Brazilian Steakhouse, Maybe i'm spoiled by the memories of eating at a real Brazilian Steakhouse on land. This place was just not good. Le Bistro and La Cucina were much better food options if your are going to spend the extra money to eat on board. The Tsar main dining room was average at best. Very small portions. The Garden Cafe buffet was good as we had all of our breakfasts and lunches there. Food was hot and you can expect the same selections everyday. Despite the food experience I would take this ship again and this itinerary. Next time I'll try Cagney's Steakhouse and the Teppanyaki. I'll keep my fingers crossed on those. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Unless you pay for the more extravagant excursions, most coastal Mexican towns/ports are very similar with a lot of souvenir shops and pushy junk vendors. In Puerta Vallarta, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a must see. In ... Read More
Unless you pay for the more extravagant excursions, most coastal Mexican towns/ports are very similar with a lot of souvenir shops and pushy junk vendors. In Puerta Vallarta, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a must see. In Mazatlan, the open air buses were down, so there was no affordable way to see the city. In Cabo San Lucas, the Harbor is beautiful and the best view of it is from the ship. A quick trip (1 hour) to shore to see some seals, pelicans and other wildlife was all you needed. On-board, the crew and staff were friendly and helpful, our stateroom steward was great. The entertainment was good (some of the musical acts were very loud and garbled), The food was fair, except for La Cucina was excellent and Chin Chin was terrible. The New Year's Eve Party was very fun with our traveling friends. The Game Shows were cute and funny, Trivia was a great place to meet other passengers, although several of the MCs had very thick accents and were very hard to understand. In some cases, it turned into a game that the first team to decipher the question in English deserved an extra point. We will take more cruises, and would not rule NCL, but this cruise did not instill any significant loyalty beyond the value (Free Ultimate Drink Package, Tips included, $100 on-board credit plus a great price from our travel agent). A great All-inculsive vacation to be remembered. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Usually try and sail from San Francisco. The ship was full as travelled over New Year. Holiday decorations were still up for the first few days so looked very festive. Weather was not so hot travelling to Mexico at this time of year. We ... Read More
Usually try and sail from San Francisco. The ship was full as travelled over New Year. Holiday decorations were still up for the first few days so looked very festive. Weather was not so hot travelling to Mexico at this time of year. We have been to Mexico on Princess ships several times so only took one shore excursion in Manzanillo. Very good as we saw the volcano erupting. Had a balcony cabin on Baja deck and we were only the 2nd cruise after The Grand had been refurbished. New bedding and very comfortable. Wish they had more seating in the atrium as always full. People standing on stairs whenever had entertainment. Shows OK but wish they would change British Invasion in the theatre. This show been around for several years. Food good but not as much choice in main dining rooms as on previous cruises. Wonder how the washing of hands before eating survives in the buffet area. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Our group of 12 was on the NORWEGIAN JEWEL from December 23 -30, 2016. The group was my wife and I (4 other cruises) in an Oceanview stateroom, my 29 year old son and his girlfriend (first cruise) in an Oceanview stateroom, my 24 year old ... Read More
Our group of 12 was on the NORWEGIAN JEWEL from December 23 -30, 2016. The group was my wife and I (4 other cruises) in an Oceanview stateroom, my 29 year old son and his girlfriend (first cruise) in an Oceanview stateroom, my 24 year old daughter and her boyfriend (3rd cruise) in an Oceanview stateroom, my daughter’s boyfriend’s parents (2nd cruise) in an Oceanview stateroom, our son’s girlfriend’s aunt and the girlfriend’s 10 year old son (1st cruise) in a balcony stateroom and the aunt’s sister and husband (2nd cruise) in an Interior stateroom. Whew! Confusing group, I know. Main point is that we had a variety of ages and experience. The aunt and her sister were both renting scooters and had some mobility issues. But EVERYONE had a great time. Different takes from everyone, but I’ll focus as best I can on the overall experience, but understand that not everyone did everything I talk about here. EMBARKATION: This was a disappointing mess. My wife and I plus a few others in the group arrived in LA that morning. It was pretty fast (30 minutes) to get from LA to the port, and we used a VERY nice van service. There are lots in a city that size…our group of 8 was big enough (with all the suitcases) to get our very own van, but at no extra charge. We arrived at the port and it took forever for the porter to take our bags. Yes, we had a lot, but it took longer than it should have. Then a port representative met us to help with our family member who needed a wheelchair. One family member was allowed to go with her, but that meant having her niece leave her little boy with us…and as we aren’t his family members, we couldn’t bring him on the ship. What a mess! Finally, our son, the boy, the niece and the aunt all went off and my wife and I fended for ourselves. We were glad to see a line for “repeat” customers (we’re bronze…lowest level) but it saved no time. We all ended up at the same check-in counters. The wait was 45 minutes. In the end, we were the last folks on the ship from our whole group. Normally we are on by noon or 1. It was after two, and cabins were already available, so the ship was a madhouse. RESTAURANTS: I’ll start with THE GREAT OUTDOORS. This was where we met up with most of our group as we waited for muster drill. As always, this is a great spot to look around at the views, grab a drink, get some food and NOT have significant crowds. You have to walk all the way through the very long cafeteria to get to it, and I guess a lot of folks just won’t bother. The buffet doesn’t have as many choices as the main buffet, but it still has PLENTY to choose from. The atmosphere is just so much more relaxing. We spent time in the late evenings as well (once we were in Mexican temps…it was a little chilly in SoCal!). Buffet is open late, the bar is pouring and the sound of the ship moving through the ocean is relaxing. You can have a party atmosphere here or a calm one. Our first couple of dinners, we did as a group of 12. With the Christmas holidays, I had to reserve seats for Christmas Eve (formal night) as well as Christmas brunch and then Christmas night dinner. Our first night (the 23rd) we tried out Tsar’s, the more “formal” or “traditional” of the two MDRs. We were seated quickly and the food and service was very nice. The following night was good as well. Folks were seldom truly formal (saw a small smattering of tuxes), but there were plenty of suits. I don’t know if Christmas Eve just brought out a larger selection of dressier folks. Not every meal everyone had was a homerun, and there were a few uneaten appetizers or entrees…but I liked everything I had for the most part. On the first night, I had the prime rib and it was very tasty. (I had prime rib on EXPLORER OF THE SEAS 3 months prior, and that was quite tasteless.) Anyway, when Christmas brunch came around, things fell apart a bit from a service perspective. So much so, they gave me a free bottle of wine. Very slow. Wrong items arriving. Half the table receiving their entrees and the other half waiting forever. It was not good, so after that, our party never had dinner at Tsar’s again. We made the move to Azura that night and while, to be honest, I like the formal Tsar’s a bit better…everyone seemed to feel more at ease, so I was happy. The service was good too. Food is the same as at Tsar’s…but the more contemporary atmosphere is quite different. I recommend you try both. They each have something nice to offer. (By the way, Tsar’s is open for breakfast, and I highly recommend it. You can often get a table by a window and have a lovely view of the ocean while you gorge yourself!). We had lunch on the 24th at CHIN-CHIN, the included Chinese place. For lunch, it is a noodle house…and it was quite tasty!! A couple of the older members of our group were not so enchanted by the unorthodox food…but most of us loved it. (If you wanted an alcoholic beverage, though, you had to run down a level and get it from one of the bars. We had no bar service there, as for some reason, the bar at the sushi joint was closed at lunch time.) We only tried the main buffet one for breakfast and once for lunch. It is fine. Crowded but fine. We ended up having several breakfast’s at O’SHEEHAN’S, the delightful “open almost all the time” sit down place with a large, Irish-themed bar adjacent. The have a limited menu of things like burgers, fries, tuna sandwich, etc…but for breakfast, they have essentially the same choices as Tsar’s and it’s a bit more casual. (A great place for a pre or post-hangover dose of protein, too.) Service, to be honest, was always a bit indifferent, but it was efficient, so I was happy enough. The only specialty restaurant we did was TEPPANYAKI, as a group of 12 on the 28th. We had a blast, and the food was terrific. Fresh and tasty and plentiful. There is an extra charge, which I think is a bit high (about $30, I think)…but if you can do a splurge, this is a fun time. Only gripe was that they were 15 minutes late seating us, so we were a bit pressed for time to catch the show in the theater. We did not try other specialty places this time, as we enjoyed having dinner with our kids and their SOs. The older folks in the group did try some other spots and gave glowing reports about Cagney’s and less-than-enthused about the Italian spot. BARS Many of us had selected the drink package as one of our ad-ons (part of the special), and we sure got our money’s worth. It was the holidays, and for most of the trip, the weather was warm and sunny. So we indulged a fair amount. The limit was $15, and we seldom exceeded it. And not everything needed to be well drinks, either. Jack Daniels, Johnny Black, etc. were all covered. I saw no real “generic” names. Strangely, Dark and Stormy’s were more than $15??!! I was able to order a Moscow Mule with dark instead of white rum…so that was just a little odd. I can’t speak much about the wine…we had very little of that, but my kids often got a glass at dinner and seemed satisfied. They are not very knowledgeable, though! Beer was the usual disappointing array. A couple of places had Heineken on draft, but overall the selection was poor. I was pleasantly surprised to find they had a Pale Ale from Lagunita’s though. That seemed like a random (but nice) choice to pop up in a sea of Budweiser, Coors & Sam Adams lager. The bars themselves all had various things to offer, but most really had the same stuff as anyone else. The notable exception was the Mojito Bar (connected to Cagney’s Steakhouse) which poured some really unusual and tasty mojitos you couldn’t get anywhere else. They have more limited hours, so make plans to drop by. It is a bit more “elegant” than many of the bars and they actually serve a chex-mix type of thing to encourage lingering. So you might feel out of place stopping by in your swim trunks and flip-flops. Otherwise, it’s a standard selection of pool-side bars, bars in the two clubs and a smattering throughout the ship. Each bar was nice and the service was generally good. I was always able to order two drinks with just one card. And ordering doubles was never an issue. Frankly, some of these guys poured with a very heavy hand. I ordered a double Cape Cod for my wife, and they basically filled the glass with vodka and then splashed a smidgen of cranberry juice on top. Watch out! ENTERTAINMENT As with all other cruises we’ve done, this was a bit hit and miss. The Norwegian Jewel cast was actually pretty good and we enjoyed BAND OF THE RUN, essentially a collection of songs from the 70s / 80s. High energy, fast moving and the live band was great. In fact, most of the shows featured the live band, and they were always a pretty tight ensemble. Yes, they stared hard at their cheat sheets and weren’t terribly charismatic…but they sounded really great. We enjoyed ourselves overall at these shows. We didn’t spend much time with the other entertainment on the ship, except occasionally a song or two in Spinnaker’s, the bigger of the clubs, with a dance floor and lots of seating. Spinnaker’s is the site of many daytime “games” as well. This place gets a lot of use, but when it is not in use, there is no better spot for some quiet time reading or looking at the sea. MISC: We spent some time playing board games in the game room. It’s so nice that they have that. It’s a simple little feature (right next to the library) but on this family oriented cruise…it was packed! Speaking of family oriented…THE QUEST game show, which is usually for adults only, was REALLY for adults only. It is held in the Spinnaker, which makes it possible for more people to get involved (compared to, say, the Ice Arena on a Royal Caribbean ship, where you can just watch and laugh if you want). The challenges got quite racy at the end, and as my son said once “I definitely saw some nudity.” So be warned. We laughed our butts off, but I was a little surprised as well. Spinnaker also hosted White Hot night, because the weather had gotten very blustery. Being indoors dampened this event, and it was a bit of a flop, I would say. We had looked forward to it, but somehow, being inside just wasn’t as fun as spreading out over the two levels around the pool, tropical drink in hand, dancing like fool. The 10 year old with us spent LOTS of time on the sports court. Soccer tournaments, basketball, etc. He enjoyed the Kids Club (can’t remember the name) and was immediately ready to do another cruise! CABIN: We had an oceanview room on deck 5, so this featured a picture window, rather than a porthole. It was a perfectly serviceable cabin…just like any other. If you’ve cruised before, you know what I mean. If not…just expect something that looks like an inexpensive hotel room, but much smaller. Store your suitcases under the bed. Bring handing cosmetic bags as there is essentially no counter space. (I will say, though, that the room had perhaps a little bit more storage space than we’ve had before. We actually had an unused drawer! Our steward was fine…nothing special, but our room was always clean and towels always stocked and ice always provided. We didn’t see him much, but didn’t really need to. DISEMBARKATION This was essentially a breeze, although we had to wait extra for the two wheelchairs we needed. This made us amongst the last to debark, but everything was smooth. You can still get a lovely breakfast in Tsar’s and I recommend that. One last shot of really nice, tablecloth service! (One tip…we had rented a couple of vehicles from the Enterprise dealership in San Pedro. Their shuttle took us there and then my son and I had to wait for over an hour to get cars. It was SO terribly jam-packed. The staff was overwhelmed. It’s a tiny office and you actually have to wait outside. Find another solution!! Take an uber to a neighboring town for a rental car. (We had to spend about 8 hours in LA before our flight, so we wanted a bit of freedom to move around.) Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
After many cruises with Princess, the crew of the Grand Princess was outstanding, from the Passenger Service desk, to the staff in all of the dining venues, to our pleasant and always smiling cabin stewards as well as the ever present ... Read More
After many cruises with Princess, the crew of the Grand Princess was outstanding, from the Passenger Service desk, to the staff in all of the dining venues, to our pleasant and always smiling cabin stewards as well as the ever present Captain. As many have said before... Happy crew.... happy passengers! It was a joyful trip over the Christmas holidays, even with so many children on board. They were well behaved and it was much appreciated.There were so many things planned for all age groups that you really didn't see many of them. The teenager in our group was busy 24/7. Embarkation and disembarkation were the smoothest I have ever experienced. I love the new pier Princess has in San Francisco. I will travel out of this port anytime. I just can't wait for the next one. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
I was on the Crown Princess for Christmas and celebrated it with my family on board. For our itinerary, we visited Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Manzanillo. My family of 4 stayed in two connecting premium balconies, which ... Read More
I was on the Crown Princess for Christmas and celebrated it with my family on board. For our itinerary, we visited Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Manzanillo. My family of 4 stayed in two connecting premium balconies, which were fantastic and definitely worth it. This was my first time on the Crown but my 17th cruise overall. It has also been almost 10 years since I've cruised during Christmas and I was definitely unprepared for the 3,500 passengers that were onboard, 600 of which were kids. There were many holiday activities that were offered onboard which made the experience so much more enjoyable. Many of the activities, such as cookie decorating, visiting Santa Claus, building gingerbread houses, etc. were designed for small children and didn't allow any adult participation. The production shows were great, especially the all new Stephen Schwartz show "Magic To Do" which was fantastic and such a great and refreshing show for cruisers that have seen Princess's old production shows one too many times. My family and I have been to Mexico over a dozen times so we are familiar with the ports and thus, not interested in doing many excursions. Our first visit was Cabo San Lucas, which was of course is a tendered port. The weather was great for shopping and walking which is what we ended up doing. At Puerto Vallarta my family and I did the Los Veranos Canopy Tour which was absolutely fantastic, highly recommend it! Mazatlan had great dining, I especially love La Puntilla, which is a cheap beach side Mexican seafood restaurant that is within walking distance to the cruise terminal. We also made a stop at the Golden Zone to do some cheap shopping. We arrived in Manzanillo on Christmas Eve and it reached mid 90's by noon. It was hot and there wasn't a lot to do unless you were willing to drive an hour to their resort city. I did some local shopping and returned to the ship three hours after I got off. Manzanillo in my opinion was a wasted port stop. The service onboard the Crown was definitely below par, which I believe was influenced by the overwhelming number of people that were onboard. There were often long lines to the bathrooms, International Cafe, elevators, coffee/tea bar, etc. I had anytime dining and we ate in the dining rooms every night except one. It was obvious, just from a quick observation, that the waiters were under staffed. Each team had way more passengers than normal which made for incredibly slow and mediocre service. One night my family and I got our appetizers before we even got napkins, water, or utensils on our table. We constantly waited over 30 minutes just to get any bread or our orders in. However, our room attendant was excellent and very outgoing and social. The staff on board was mixed. Some staff members like the cruise director were great, while others came off a bit cold. I've never had any problems or complaints about the staff, however; on this cruise I was completely thrown off by how some of them were treating the passengers. There was one staff member who I found to be rude and arrogant towards passengers, on two separate occasions. Disembarkation and embarkation was easy and went smoothly. Overall, this cruise was still a lot of fun. The activities are fantastic and great for families. The new production shows are a must see. The crew were still great, but beware of some of the staff members. The food was average on this ship, nothing special. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Just finished up a 7 day Norwegian Star cruise to the Mexican Riviera... This is my 3rd cruise on the Norwegian Star, my 10th cruise altogether. Embarkation as a suite passenger was fast (less than 30 minutes) however it took 5 hours for ... Read More
Just finished up a 7 day Norwegian Star cruise to the Mexican Riviera... This is my 3rd cruise on the Norwegian Star, my 10th cruise altogether. Embarkation as a suite passenger was fast (less than 30 minutes) however it took 5 hours for our bags to reach our room. In contrast: On a 4 day Carnival cruise (Inspiration out of Long Beach) taken just after this cruise, our bags arrived at our stateroom within an hour of boarding. Being a foodie and having cruised on the Star in the past, we opted for the ultimate dining package so we could "go crazy" at the specialty restaurants. We didn't dine at the MDR for any dinners in hopes of making the most of our unlimited package. Here's a summary: Cagney's steakhouse: We ate here 4x because of the high quality of food and service. This is "surf & turf" type fare in a romantic setting. The restaurant exudes "expensive" but isn't hoity-toity, the food was consistently very good. Le Bistro: A little more romantic than Cagney's and a great excuse to get dressed up- if that's your thing. The french food is solid, not the best I've had, but still good. The service was excellent, the Coq au vin was a tasty choice. Moderno: A fun dining option for carnivores. A semi-romantic setting overlooks the atrium. Pasadores (meat servers) bring freshly grilled skewered hunks o' meat to your table. There is also a yummy salad bar that includes olives, meats, soups, ceviche, and prepared salads. Hint: arrive early (6-7:30) when the restaurant is busiest to get the freshest cuts of meat. The non-specialty (read: no fee) restaurants included: The Buffet: The absolute worst on the high-seas, avoid at all costs, has high-school cafeteria type seating. The Blue Lagoon: A 24 hour cafe with simple basic food. Great views. Versailles: MDR serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The dining room is handsome, a francophile's dream touting tall ceilings, lots of mirrors, paintings, gold filigree, and heavy drapes. The service was consistently good, the food was standard cruise-fare: fancier than Golden Corral, but most definitely not the Ritz. Aqua: A more modern and glitzy dinner venue than Versailles but serves the exact same menu. The ship: The ship itself is looking a little dated although it appears to have just received a fresh coat of paint. It is in good repair with the exception of: -worn out chaise loungers -broken/tacky looking fountains in the atrium -a buffet that has less charm than most hospital cafeterias I typically don't go to shows on cruise ships due to low production quality, so I have nothing to report in that regards. The only "planned activity" I participated in were Latin exercise/dance classes in the Spinnaker lounge, which were a mix of Zumba and aerobics, but nonetheless got my heart pumping. I walked the promenade daily for my 10k steps, played a little golf and ping pong with my husband. There was a very good R & B band from Trinidad/Tobago that were very enjoyable, however I didn't much care for the Spanish folk-singers or the Asian 50's greaser band. However, my opinion is likely entirely due to my age (early 40's). The common areas were all very clean, the staff was very friendly and helpful. The ports: Cabo San Lucas: Here we took a boat cruise of Lover's beach and El Arco. Mostly we just killed 2 hours, as the tour was not very interesting, the pre-recorded Jacques Cousteau presentation was b-b-b-boring. After the tour, we walked the pier into town and went to Los Barriles. There we had a fantastic lunch platter with lobster, filet mignon, prawns, sea bass, and crab. What a feast! Our server (Nestor) was fast, efficient, and friendly. The guacamole prepared tableside was simply delicious. Mazatlan: We booked an excursion onboard that included a city tour which took us to watch some cliff divers, from there we went to a shopping district (Zona Dorada), then to a resort (Hotel Playa Mazatlan) for lunch, entertainment, and lounging on the beach. A ho-hum excursion until the resort, which would've been awesome if the weather had held up. The hawkers were very aggressive on the street and at the beach, however a simple "no gracias" always worked for me. Puerto Vallarta: We took a Jeep Safari excursion which wasn't much of a safari at all, instead a drive through the countryside & through many poor villages. It was very educational to see how the "real Mexicans" live, however I didn't appreciate being pressured to buy stuff at the hat or tequila factory. $65 USD for a bottle of tequila is NOT a good deal! At the end of the excursion we were taken to a beach where we were only allowed 30 minutes before having to return to the ship. Debarkation was the fastest ever. The concierge escorted the suite passengers to customs, we were off the ship in less than 30 minutes with bags in hand. Overall: A very enjoyable cruise. Not the fanciest, not the prettiest nor most modern ship, but an organized and friendly vacation brimming with lots of great food and smiling faces. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
Having just come off a 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise in a suite aboard the Norwegian Star, I wasn't expecting much from our 4 day cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada in an ocean view cabin on one of the oldest ships in the Carnival ... Read More
Having just come off a 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise in a suite aboard the Norwegian Star, I wasn't expecting much from our 4 day cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada in an ocean view cabin on one of the oldest ships in the Carnival fleet. I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed the cruise. We spent the night at the Residence Inn downtown which is about a mile to the cruise terminal. There is a free bus which stops at the hotel and it took us into downtown Long Beach and we walked over to Enterprise Rental car on Ocean and the following day we returned the car and they dropped us off at the cruise terminal. Residence Inn doesn't provide a shuttle bus to the cruise terminal. The free bus doesn't stop at the Residence inn on the way back. Take the bus all the way to the Queen Mary stop (end of line) and catch the next bus (or the same bus a few minutes later) heading back towards Long Beach. I recommend staying the night on the Queen Mary as it is right next door to the Carnival cruise ship terminal. My wife was extremely bothered by the outdated decor (especially the atrium) but I didn't mind one bit. The food, even in the buffet, was very good and met all of my expectations (except for the sea day brunch). The meal choices were excellent except for one night when the selections for dinner was poor. The Christmas dinner printed on a special menu was very nice but I absolutely HATE the sea day brunch because you have to use the same menu for breakfast and lunch and select from the lousy offerings. I tend to wake up early and have an early breakfast and lunch at noon so having the same menu for both breakfast and lunch is boring. One of the best things about the ship is the fantastic water pressure-it was the best shower I've had in years due to the low flow showerheads found in most homes. Embarkation was managed quite nicely by Carnival at Long Beach. We were aboard with a minimum of fuss and delay and even received our bags within a hour. Disembarkation took a bit longer but still nicely managed. The line for American citizens went much faster than the line for non U.S. citizens so I was happy about that. As far as entertainment goes, I don't know how Carnival managed to find the worst comedian in the world-whoever hired him needs to be fired. The other comedian was very funny and made up for the worst comedian in the world. Catalina and Ensenada are excellent ports. Catalina is clean and safe and it was a pleasure to be able to buy a copy of the New York Times and the L.A. Times after having spent a week at sea on my cruise the week before. Getting simple Chinese food at Mr. Mings was a good antidote to the rich, cruiseship cuisine. We travelled overnight and arrived in Ensenada the following morning. Ensenada is walkable and easily managed in one day. I recommend getting off the ship as early as possible and walking along Lopez Mateo before all of the hawkers wake up (the hawkers are bad in this town especially close to Hussong's cantina and Papas and Beer) Going to the fish market is a fascinating experience to see what kind of seafood is caught locally. Going to Mexican supermarkets simply to browse and buy drinks is also an interesting experience. I met one Mexican guy at the supermarket who had lived in L.A. for 27 years before he was deported and he told me about how hard it was to make a living in Mexico where the average daily wage is $8/day when he made that much money per hour back in the United States. We left Ensenada that night and went about 1 mph back to Long Beach and spent an entire day at sea before arriving the following morning. We caught a Carnival sponsored bus back to LAX for $30/person. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
A 4-day "New Year's" cruise on the Imagination out of Long Beach was our first trip with Carnival in a number of years, and overall we were satisfied with the brief jaunt, although there were a couple of annoyances. ... Read More
A 4-day "New Year's" cruise on the Imagination out of Long Beach was our first trip with Carnival in a number of years, and overall we were satisfied with the brief jaunt, although there were a couple of annoyances. Check-in was efficient, our cabin was ready at the advertised time. Our standard "ocean view" cabin on Deck 7, although spare (think Motel 6 décor), was reasonably sized with sufficient room to move around the bed and plenty of closet hanging space, a smallish dresser with stool and a single straight-backed chair. Bath was typically compact but did have a relatively large shower. No fridge/mini-bar, hair dryer available by request. Food is of course a major cruise item, and we were impressed with the dining room offerings. Carnival is slanted toward a youthful demographic so the ambience is somewhat less formal than on some other lines (if that's a priority), but the food & service were uniformly excellent. Ship's staff overall was also universally excellent, friendly and responsive to every request. Never a negative moment throughout the trip. Hard to imagine some other reviewers complained on this score. Entertainment was about what you would expect for a short cruise, with pretty good music offerings in the main showroom tailored to the youngish demographic. These were augmented by a handful of lounge acts that were OK but, let's face it, not particularly impressive. There were a couple of negatives related to internal ship's air processing. First was a lack of cabin temperature control. Weather outside at the time was generally in the low 50's and the cabins have no thermostatic control or heat source, only an airflow restricting knob in the single supply duct. Our cabin was constantly uncomfortably chilly, ranging from 60 to 64 as measured by our neighbor's little travel thermometer. Fine for sleeping but not so good otherwise, and we were told nothing could be done about it. Secondly, for anyone sensitive to cigarette smoke over half of the Promenade deck was no-go territory due to its free sharing of air handling with the tobacco-saturated casino. Most unappetizing, and significant because the Promenade deck is a central component of the ship's indoor public area. A third problem was what I felt was excessive noise in the cabin, which seemed to come from everywhere. Voices & walking in the hallway were conducted in with scarcely any loss. Not quite so bad but still perfectly audible were conversations which strangely were apparently being held in cabins on the deck below us. Thump-thump-rumble music from one of the entertainment venues also located on an entirely different deck precluded sleep one evening but fortunately stopped around 10:30. We could not recall ever being on a ship quite so poorly soundproofed.   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
Background We cruise often, and usually during the holidays. We're all 3-star HAL Mariners, even our 9 year old. We're in our 40's; husband's parents in their 60's. We've also cruised Celebrity 3 times, and ... Read More
Background We cruise often, and usually during the holidays. We're all 3-star HAL Mariners, even our 9 year old. We're in our 40's; husband's parents in their 60's. We've also cruised Celebrity 3 times, and Princess 3 times (in-laws have cruised Princess 5-6 times) and RCCL a few times as well. But most of our cruising is with Holland America. We prefer mid-size/smaller ships. We booked this cruise VERY last minute, directly with HAL, therefore we were wait-listed for everything: dining, upgrades and even getting a cabin on the ship in the first place. We ended up with a Cat. B Vista Suite and my in-laws got the smaller Cat VQ Spa Verandah, both on Deck 9, Verandah Deck. (I will be making a lot of comparisons to Princess in the review because we have cruised most recently with Princess. We were considering switching from HAL to Princess as our preferred cruise line after we had a disappointing experience with HAL, not with an actual cruise, but with how a future cruise deposit was mishandled by the corporate office. HAL eventually made us whole on the issue, and we weren't completely swept off our feet with our Princess experiences, therefore we'll cruise either line now depending on price & itinerary) Embarkation and disembarkation in San Diego was easy, quick and efficient. We live in Los Angeles, and we drove down on the morning of embarkation, parked (pre-paid parking online) at the Wyndham (formerly a Holiday Inn) across the street from terminal for $65 for the entire week. My in-laws had flown in from Canada a day or so earlier and had stayed at that same hotel. They were very pleased with their room there. I think we were on the ship by 11am, well in time for the Mariner's Welcome Lunch in the dining room. The Ship This is our 2nd time on the Veendam. We did a Bermuda cruise on this ship, summer 2010. We really enjoyed that cruise, and thought the ship was in good shape then, but they've spiffed up the soft goods (carpet, upholstery, window treatments, etc.) even since that cruise. They also improved the one thing we didn't like about the ship in 2010 -- that silly "retreat" thing. Remember when HAL had that really bad, and thankfully short-lived idea to replace all of the aft pools with that retreat concept? Which was basically some loungers standing in 3 inches of water and some other poorly executed water features? I think they were trying to compete with RCCL's H20 zone, and HAL really missed the mark on that one. Anyway, it is still called "the retreat" on the Veendam but it is now two large hot-tubs and two plunge pools. We'd still prefer another pool, but this is much, much better than their first retreat concept. At first, I thought I was confusing the Veendam with another ship, but I pulled up our Bermuda cruise pix on my Flickr account, and sure enough, the Veendam aft "retreat" in summer 2010 looked entirely different, even the tiling is a different color. The outdoor teen Oasis area above the kids club appeared to be closed for the entire cruise. We have a tween, therefore this really didn't affect us, but if she were a teen, she would have been really disappointed. She has cruised HAL many times, and is really looking forward to the day she is able to use the Oasis. Our cabins were forward, but I noticed a slight sewer smell on the stateroom decks towards the rear of the ship. They placed long auxiliary dining tables perpendicular to one side of the pool on embarkation day; we've seen that before but usually it's temporary for embarkation dining or later on in the cruise for a BBQ. But they remained there for the entire cruise, and that not only displaced loungers by the ship's only real pool, but it also compromised the ambiance of the pool area. But the ship was in amazing shape, especially for an 18 year old ship! Cabins We had B123, which is a Vista Suite forward. Our cabin was almost perfect, except that it was rather creaky while sailing. That was the ONLY thing in the entire cruise that revealed the ship's age. The first night was really noisy and kept us awake. But then we either got used to it, or it wasn't as noisy later on in the cruise. The cabin was spotless, and the carpet and other soft goods in the room looked brand new. Our steward was very pleasant and took good care of us. Plenty of room and storage for the three of us. Although my daughter, who has slept in many cruise ship sofa beds, said this sofa bed was the most uncomfortable one. We really like the verandahs on HAL much better than Princess. HAL's teak flooring looks more upscale than the blue rubber matting on Princess. But what really makes a difference is that HAL's decks are far more private than what we have experienced on Princess. My in-laws had the smaller VQ Spa Verandah, room 106. They had a recurring problem with brown water coming out of the sink, shower and tub. This happened several times throughout the cruise, and they never seemed to get it fixed. We had smokers next to us who smoked on their verandah often, as they are allowed to do on HAL. In theory, smoking in not allowed on Princess verandahs, but they do it anyway. Dining The food in general was better than we have experienced on our most recent HAL cruises. We try to take as many meals as possible in the dining room, including breakfast lunch. We like set dining, late, but since we booked the cruise last minute, we got "any time" dining, which we do not like at all. At the Mariner's Welcome lunch on embarkation day, my mother-in-law asked the maitre d' about providing us with a standing reservation at the same table around 8pm, but he said he couldn't do it. Later on, I happened to stumble upon Fauzi, who was at the pool and taking dinner reservations. I really think Fauzi made this cruise for us and restored our faith and loyalty in HAL. I explained to him that we liked traditional, set dining, with the same table and waiters every night, and this was very important to our family's overall cruise experience. And he made it happen! (With the exception of one night, which was partly our fault because we were late) He was also our waiter, along with his assistant Yo and Madonna the sommelier, and those three really made this cruise for us. We enjoyed everything we ate in the dining room. It's not Michelin star-rated cuisine, but it is really good. Also, we did have a few meals in the Lido, and the pastas were the best and the sushi isn't bad for a cruise ship. We had one lunch in the Pinnacle, and it was very good. I had the crab cakes. Children's Activities Our 9 year old daughter went to the Kids Club every night and enjoyed it very much. She is a seasoned cruiser, and gives Princess a slight edge on Kids Club, but she really enjoyed the activities on the Veendam. This was her first HAL cruise in the tweens program. Also, HAL had no children's books in the library (Princess has a nice selection of books for young readers.) We were told that the kids books were in the Kids Club, but my daughter said it was baby books and Harry Potter and nothing else. Not a big deal; we'll just remember to bring more books for her on our next cruise. We're an interfaith family, and we appreciated that HAL had both Christmas and Hanukkah services/activities onboard. We even had a Rabbi to lead services. Santa visited the Showroom on Xmas Day. As I mentioned previously, the teen outdoor Oasis was closed for the entire cruise, but they did have their indoor Loft space. Entertainment Overall, very good entertainment on this ship. There were more actual vocalists in the cast than I was expecting for a ship this small. The first night was a short show that gave us a preview of all of the entertainment around the ship. Second night was the Bob Mackie Broadway tribute which we've seen on other HAL ships, but it holds up. Third night was a magician that was just OK. One night was there was a show called (I think) Encore, which primarily features just two of the vocalists and it was AMAZING. We usually had our pre-dinner cocktails in the Ocean Bar or Explorer's Lounge around 7:45pm, and it seemed that our timing was bad as the entertainers always went on dinner break shortly after we arrived. However, what we did hear in the Ocean Bar was good and the Adagio (classical violin and piano) duo on the Explorer's Lounge was exceptional. Ports This was our 3rd Mexican Riviera cruise, and I have been reluctant to get off the ship (except in Cabo) because of all of the reports of incidents with cruise passengers in the other Mexican ports. My husband doesn't share my feelings and always gets off the ship and usually schedules his own private surfing or diving excursions. This year, I vowed to my family that I would make an effort to get off at every port. We did our usual in Cabo: Tender into the marina, then take a water taxi over to Mendano Beach, walk down the beach past the loud party spots and post up in front of the Pueblo Bonita resort. It's just a day at the beach, and that's fine with us. Mazatlan was a delightful surprise. There's a huge ex-pat (Americans, Canadians) community there who have organized as a volunteer group with the goal of making cruisers and other tourists feel welcome, informed and safe. They greet the cruise ships passengers with maps and are available to answer questions. We walked from the ship to the town center that was very charming, and then walked out to the beach area where the cliff divers are. In Puerto Vallarta, my husband went surfing and my daughter, my in-laws and I took a taxi into town. We walked around, went into a few shops and also visited the Cathedral. We ended up at a restaurant (The Blue Shrimp) on the Playa de Los Muertos for some beers, snacks and wi-fi. I feel a lot better about ports in Mexico now, and I'm also inspired to brush up on my Spanish. Service I think service, in general, was better on this ship than our most recent HAL cruises. However, if you needed anything, you have to go to the front desk where there was never a line and everything was dealt with efficiently and satisfactorily. But they never, ever answered the phone extension # that is for service or questions. Spa I purchased the thermal chair package for my husband and me ($149) during open house on embarkation day. Because there are only 5 chairs, and the ship was completely sold out, I was skeptical about being able to actually use them. The spa manager assured me that I wouldn't have any problems with availability since they sold only 20 "passes" per cruise. Technically that may be true, but you also have to account for the people who are having spa services done at any given time as they have access to the thermal chair suite and there are other types of packages that include access. And then there are those tacky passengers who buy one pass but then let their entire family in and camp out there for hours on end. The first time I tried to use the thermal chairs, the suite was packed. A family of 4, who were very open about the fact that they were sharing just one pass between them, was reserving all of the chairs, even if one of them went into the steam room for 20 minutes or so. HAL cannot prevent this behavior, of course, but they need to better about policing it. One of the steam rooms wasn't working. And the water jets in the hot tub NEVER worked for the entire cruise. When I asked, I was told it was just a hot tub, not a Jacuzzi. So why did it have the water jets? To be fair, every time my husband went, he had no problem getting a chair and I was also able to get a chair on subsequent visits, and the steam room was eventually repaired. My husband went every day and I went 3-4 times. I got a massage that was very good. Meant to go back for the hot stone massage but never got around to it. In summary, the spa is lovely and has a lot to offer but was understaffed. They needed more than one person on the front desk, checking people in, booking appts, etc. And they need to have some one checking in on the thermal suite to make sure everyone is in compliance with the rules. Odds/Ends I have been on nearly 20 cruises and never gotten seasick until this cruise. The weather wasn't bad (have sailed much rougher waters) but I got a mild case of nausea on our last (at sea) day. My mother-in-law, who is prone to seasickness, was violently ill for the last 30-36 hours SOLID of the cruise. Not sure why. Our cabins were pretty far forward, and we usually try to get aft or mid-ship. Not sure if that had anything to do with it. But it was definitely seasickness, as opposed to something viral, because we all felt better when we reached San Diego. Very limited on board duty free shopping in terms of cosmetics and fragrance but costume jewelry for days! Never a line at the Explorations Cafe for coffee, but it was more expensive than Princess' International Cafe, even with my 3-star Mariner discount. BE CAREFUL when signing up for the internet package. It's easy to accidentally sign up for a $250 plan when you didn't really mean to. They took it off of our bill and said that it happens a lot since they've switched platforms. I was impressed with the depth of the cruise director's staff for such a small ship. The Veendam has a full time librarian, a future cruise consultant, a port shopping expert, a port/location expert and others. And they always seemed to be available. And make sure you don't get the ship's little blue fabric laundry bag mixed up in your things and accidentally bring it home with you because they will charge you $15 just like it says on the bag. Believe me, a used dirty laundry bag from a cruise ship was not an intentional souvenir on our part! The captain was approachable and very visible. Summary We cruise often and none of these minor shortcomings I mentioned here had a significant impact on our overall enjoyment of the cruise. The crew on this ship really had it together both in service and operations. Ran like a top. It was a lovely cruise, and we're definitely keeping HAL in our future cruising options.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
My husband and I wanted to do something different for Christmas, like not spend time with our family this year and do our own thing!!! It was our second cruise we have ever been on. I am going to list the pros and cons. Pros: The pizza ... Read More
My husband and I wanted to do something different for Christmas, like not spend time with our family this year and do our own thing!!! It was our second cruise we have ever been on. I am going to list the pros and cons. Pros: The pizza was AWESOME!!! Always fresh, hot, thin crust, nice sized pieces, and there was always cheese and pepperoni available along with a special for the day. Great selection of alcohol under 10$ which was included in the all-inclusive beverage card. The bartenders did not skimp on the amount of booze in the drinks. Our stateroom attendant was great! She was very attentive, our room was always clean, and available to meet our requests/needs. Deck 7 was our favorite. It is an open deck and we would walk around the ship a lot. There were several places throughout the deck to sit, read, and relax. They had a British Lunch a few times during the week and the Fish and Chips were GREAT!!! The disembarkation was very well organized, smooth, and efficient. Recommend letting cruise line get you to where you need to go (for us LAX). We paid 20$/person to go to the Crab Shack and it was worth it!!! Delicious seafood and portions! For entertainment we enjoyed Movies under the stars, bingo, and the exec chef demonstration. We were GRATEFUL that they televised the NFL games on the big screen Sunday and Monday night. We appreciated that they hand sanitizer throughout the ship and at the entrances of food stations. Although we didn't have kids with us, It was a nice touch that they had Santa circle the boat on the tender on Christmas day for the kids. Overall, service was great and employees were friendly. CONS: Food in the Horizon Court buffet was so-so to below average. My husband had a piece of andouille sausage that he said tasted like throat spray.....and he eats everything! For a cruise in the Mexican Riviera we were surprised there wasn't more Mexican food? We wished our time in Cabo was all day instead of just 1pm... The tender took some time getting to and from the shore. The internet packages were overpriced so we opted to just quickly check our e-mails paying 80 cents per minute!! If you purchase the all exclusive beverage package you better drink! Doing the math, it equates to drinking $50/day whether it be booze, soda, specialty coffee, etc. We did make good use of getting large bottles of water which were $3.50 each. We expect it to be crowded when there is >4,000 people on a ship but...It seemed like there was never anywhere to sit for meals and there was always a long line when waiting to be seated for dinner (we were anytime dining). Overall we had a good time!!!   Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
We traveled the Sea of Cortes on the Safari Endeavour over the New Year's period. We chose this holiday because we were multi-generational group who all love adventure and active trips. Un-Cruise was recommended to us by our seasoned ... Read More
We traveled the Sea of Cortes on the Safari Endeavour over the New Year's period. We chose this holiday because we were multi-generational group who all love adventure and active trips. Un-Cruise was recommended to us by our seasoned expert travel agent. She knows cruises and she knows us, which is why we are still shaking our heads over the whole experience. To say it was a misfit is an understatement. But i have to say that we were in the slimmest minority of passengers who left unsatisfied. Most of the other passengers were delighted with the program, the staff and the ship. Here are the PROS as we saw them: The Sea of Cortes is truly a breath-taking landscape. It is such a remote and desertic place it is best visited on a ship. There were lots of other families on board so plenty of socializing opportunities for our children. We got to swim with shark whales and sea lions (pretty incredible). Staff is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the region. There is no internet onboard offering us a heavenly tech-free week. We really got to interact with our kids! Loreto, a small traditional Mexican town, we visited was a real 'find', tranquil, beautiful, authentic. They had a wonderful bar-tender onboard (Heather), the only staff member who rivaled our staff experiences on other ships. The CONS, sadly, well outweighed the PROS for our group: FIrst of all, the cabin and ship are very poorly maintained (from a cleanliness perspective). Our cabin, a Commodore Suite (their highest grade) never felt truly cleaned. This is partly because the cabins are maintained by the crew which also waits tables in the dining room. When we arrived in the cabin I mentioned to my mother that our duvet cover (a horrid navy blue thing that belonged in a college dorm) looked slept in. She was incredulous but, on our last day as we were packing up, the cleaning crew asked if they could come in to strip the beds while we ate breakfast. When we got back to our cabin to retrieve our carry-on luggage we saw that the beds were stripped but the duvet covers were indeed left on! DISGUSTING! The coverlet on the hide-a-bed was visibly filthy with brown dirt. Dirty towels were frequently left forgotten on the bathroom floor after the morning cleaning. Our shower curtain was similarly dirty from past use. The floor was vacuumed precisely once during our whole stay (sand and candy wrappers were left as evidence on the floor). Again, no one else onboard seemed put off by this so I think our housekeeping expectations may have something to do with our past cruising experiences on SeaDream, Seabourn, and Paul Gauguin where spotlessness is the norm. The staff is more reminiscent of a summer camp than a cruise ship or a resort: they are gung-ho but not really trained for ship service. They remind me of kids taking a break from college to do a bit of travel. Several of them are precisely that, few if any are career ship staff from what I saw. They are nice enough (although not really service minded at all) but wildly uneven and unsophisticated (they would forget the simplest requests like a glass of water, ice, a wine refill, an extra dollop of mayonnaise). The ship lacks polish in every respect, from the staff to the ghastly common areas to cabins and all the details are way more Best Western than luxury ship (and the prices are definitely in the luxury ship zone). Pillows, sheets, TP, toiletries were all strictly budget motel grade. There was never, until the very end with one or two (Ashley and Jeryd in the dining room stand out) the sense that the staff was concerned with getting to know our likes and dislikes, or what they could do to make our trip better. We hooted with laughter at Jeremy's proud proclamation that Uncruise prided itself on having "a plan from which to deviate" ethos. The only plan this ship deviates from is when weather makes whatever was on the books untenable. Otherwise, and here is where we were really fish out of water, Uncruise has the most rigid guest policy I have ever been held to. They must be scared to death of litigation: we were give ZERO allowance to do as we pleased on shore except when we were in one of the two towns we went to. One is not allowed to deviate in any way from the planned activities. Should you want to walk at a faster pace on the hikes, paddle a bit further in the kayak, go for an impromptu swim, eat at any time other that the hour set for each meal, well, pall, that is plan from which Uncruise will strictly NOT be deviating. The staff are infuriatingly unconcerned with your preferences. It's all about keeping to a schedule and maintaining everyone in a manageable group. It is adventure for the timid, the leery of autonomy, the utterly malleable. The very fact that in this spectacular landscape they have no place or inclination to serve drinks or even a snack in the open air (everything is served in the grim dining room- everyone at once) is a travesty. On a sunny day there is no comfortable place to sunbathe, not an outdoor cushion in sight, no staff to offer you so much as a glass of water. We were there on New Year's Eve. There was no attempt to decorate the ship or serve a festive meal. It was all so ho-hum. These are people who have no sense of occasion (and nor apparently did the guests- hardly any one did so much as change into a nicer shirt for the dinner- so sad!). In fact, this is how they manage the food service - breakfast is at 7:30 sharp (on holiday!) no and ifs or buts, and then at breakfast you are told what the lunch and dinner choices are and you are to give your preferences then for those meals!! Who doesn't love planning what they're going to eat for lunch and dinner at breakfast, on holiday no less! My son and I who are avid hikers and climbers had to stage an escape one day to scale a hill that caught our interest. I hated having to be duplicitous and sneak around the guides but they left us no choice. After that we felt a distinct chill from Jeremy the cruise director. He's a nice enough guy but he clearly likes his guests sheep-like and undeviant. Ah well, Uncruise is not for us. We like our freedom too much (and cleanliness and sophisticated service). But if you like everything planned to the un-th second, and an all-American crew, and super safety conscious adventure dolled out in thirty minute increments (as the majority of our fellow passengers did) - then this is for you. On a last note, the food was fine (not one memorable bite but not dreadful) but we all had upset stomachs the last few days until the day or so after we got back... The coffee is cafeteria bad. The butter is not real butter. The cocktail hour snacks were truly awful. There is no maitr'd to greet you at the entrance to the dining room and help seat the groups so it's a sort of undignified game of musical chairs at every meal. If you go, don't bother packing binoculars (they have plenty, sun lotion (again they provide reed-safe sunscreen), any sort of nice clothing (this is a strictly beige/sage-toned, Tevo sandal crowd). Do bring reading material and DVDs you're likely to have a lot of time on your hands between activities. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
After reading many reviews lambasting Carnival for their shoddy em/de barkation procedures and abysmal tender offload in Cabo, we were a little concerned about what to expect. Perhaps we set our expectations really low but we were ... Read More
After reading many reviews lambasting Carnival for their shoddy em/de barkation procedures and abysmal tender offload in Cabo, we were a little concerned about what to expect. Perhaps we set our expectations really low but we were pleasantly surprised by the cruise and their procedures, in our experience most of the problems were caused by inconsiderate tourons. Embarkation Arrived at the port at 1:00 p.m. and was surprised to find the parking structure almost full. Waited in line for about 45 minutes and got checked in. We would have been onboard in 60 mts but we had to visit the ship doctor to get our son signed off and that tacked on another hour to our process. Regardless, we were were in our room by 3:00 p.m. Departure was delayed almost 90 minutes because of some CBP issue which put us into Cabo 30 minutes late (1:00 p.m. instead of 12:30 p.m.), they postponed departure that day by 30 minutes to make up for the delay Tendering in Cabo There were over 2000 people on board, so we were told that the tendering process would be organized so that people that booked excursions would get priority and then the rest would have to line up for tender assignments. People that lined up significantly after 10: a.m. got numbers as high as 40, do the math, about 50 pax per tender. There was another ship in the harbor but the tenders were quite efficient, at 2:30 they announced free boarding for tenders, we chose not to go into port as we had the ship all to ourselves. The next morning, we took an 8:30 a.m tender into town and there was no wait. PV was no problem, arrived on time and left on time. Debarkation We got zone 21 and we were off the boat around 11:30, that took a lot longer than expected, but it turns out the delay was because passengers were going down regardless of their zone number and it was causing gridlock in the terminal. We stayed on the lido deck enjoying our coffee and the view   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
My wife and I cruised on the Norwegian Star over New Year's 2015. I read all of the reviews before the cruise. I have to say the Star is in excellent shape, it is a beautiful ship. This was our 8th cruise overall, the 3rd on NCL, we ... Read More
My wife and I cruised on the Norwegian Star over New Year's 2015. I read all of the reviews before the cruise. I have to say the Star is in excellent shape, it is a beautiful ship. This was our 8th cruise overall, the 3rd on NCL, we sailed on the Breakaway and the Epic before. The Star was just as good, if not better for many reasons. I have to assume that the negative comments some people posted had to have been related to some individual bad experiences, because I saw no stained carpets, no outdated things, etc that some people wrote about. Even though the cruise was full, you didn't get the sense of overcrowding on this ship like you do on some of the larger mega ships, it was perfect size for the amount of people aboard. As with all NCL cruises, I would recommend the Ultimate Dining Package, the food in those restaurants are EXCELLENT. If you don't get it, then you have to wait in lines for the main dining room or buffet, where the food also is kind of mediocure at times. But NCL's specialty restaurants definitely beat the food on Princess or other lines we have been on. The cruise director Ian on this ship is the best ever, he is everywhere, i don't know how he does it. Really good attitude and they put in some nice personal touches on this ship that i didn't see on other NCL cruises, such as a thank you performance by the crew at the end, which was a really nice touch. The entertainment in general was very good. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
My family and I were very excited to take a cruise that we’d been planning and looking forward to for almost a year. When the day of the trip finally arrived, everyone was excited as we climbed into two large Super Shuttle vans to take ... Read More
My family and I were very excited to take a cruise that we’d been planning and looking forward to for almost a year. When the day of the trip finally arrived, everyone was excited as we climbed into two large Super Shuttle vans to take the 14 of us to Long Beach Harbor. Unfortunately, only one of our vans made it to the ship on time as the driver of the other van went to the wrong harbor. We hadn’t even boarded the ship and yet we were already worried half our family would be left behind. Luckily we had ordered the shuttles to pick us up extra early, so the lost driver made it back to Long Beach in time. We hoped that was going to be the only bump in our journey, but sadly, it was just the beginning. From the minute we boarded the ship we felt an intensely strong vibration in all five of our rooms. If you lay down on the bed, it was like laying on one of those old motel beds with a quarter slot-machine next to the bed to make it vibrate. Sadly for us the there was no “off” button. We hoped the vibrating might stop once the boat left the dock and heard a few others wondering the same. We had five balcony cabins mid-ship on the 7th deck, which we were told was one of the better locations on the ship for rooms. When the ship finally left the port of Long Beach, the vibrating did not stop. Five in our family went to Guest Services to complain and ask what was going on and each of us were told a different excuse (each of which turned out to be fiction). You could barely focus on a book in bed because of the vibrating, but worse was that was it made it difficult to sleep. We were told once that the vibration was from the weather, but we had beautiful calm seas for most all the trip. We were also told that it was just the size of the ship and a little vibration was normal. Guest Services kept assuring us it would get better. It never did. It wasn’t just “a little” vibration, it was more like the ship had Parkinson’s. We finally went online and discovered an article posted by Carnival in April of this year which explained that the Miracle actually had a propulsion problem and all they were planning on doing was to cruise a little slower and not make any real repairs until the Spring of 2015. It seems wrong to post your ships troubles on the internet and then turn around and lie to the faces of your paying guests. My family felt that the Carnival people must think us a bit “slow” to tell each of us a different excuse about the problem with the boat. We would have preferred an honest answer and an apology instead of being lied to directly. We did enjoy the food very much, but our seating at Dinner was bad. We had requested two adjacent tables for our large group (like our previous cruise), but instead they slid two tables together to accommodate us all at one long narrow table which forced any on the inside to either crawl under the table to get out or ask everyone to get up and move coming in and getting out. It was not comfortable or enjoyable. The service was barely adequate (many ordered items were forgotten) but we tried to remain calm so as not to upset the staff and get worse service. We did, however, enjoy the shows onboard and the service for the cabins. This was our second Thanksgiving Family Cruise with Carnival Cruises… and after this experience, it will be our last. My family and friends will never cruise with Carnival again.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This was our 14th total cruise, 7th with Princess, and our 2nd time on this particular cruise and ship. This was our 1st time staying in a mini suite stateroom. My wife is a "bath tub" person and the mini suites have a decent ... Read More
This was our 14th total cruise, 7th with Princess, and our 2nd time on this particular cruise and ship. This was our 1st time staying in a mini suite stateroom. My wife is a "bath tub" person and the mini suites have a decent size bathroom with a tub. Also, if you are ones that prefer completely different TV programming, their are 2 TV's in the minisuite cabins. Also, there IS a refrigerator but it is quite small and hardly holds much or anything of size. The ship is on the larger side which is fine with us. The one draw back of this large ship is our cabin was VERY forward (only 5 cabins from the front) and to get to the back of the ship (such as to dining rooms or the bufftt on the 14th deck in the back) it was quite a VERY long walk. This is another perk of mid-ship cabins if you can get one. Overall, the cruise and ship was fine and simple. We're not one's to participate in many activities so I can't review on any of those. However, we did notice the overall quality of the main event shows each evening has dropped a little from our last few previous cruises. It's evident the entertainers, singers, and dancers work hard to prepare and their "showmanship" is good, but the shows have become simplistic and basic. Lots of flash, lights, color, etc. but not too much of a "Wow" factor as we've experienced on previous cruises. Our cabin steward was good and very attentive. The restaraunt service and waiters were very good as well. The bar drinks are watered down and are still pricey. Since this is a Mexican Cruise, you're much better off grabbing drinks on shore. They really do it right in Miexico and 75% cheaper than on the ship. Because we were on this cruise during the Christmas vacation time frame, there were many more children on board than you may typically experience. This was not a bad thing but at times it was noticable in and around our cabin of them running around or "whining" to their parents about something. As far as this itinerary, it was a simple one. Many types and variety of activities for both Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. Only 3 activity options for Ensanada. Since we were on this cruise a few years back, we chose not to take part in any shore excursions. We simply just got off the ship and roamed the area in and around the ports. The disemabarkation process was slightly confusing in that we were adhering and following our written instructions as given but found out that was more of a formality than a strict policy. We were told we could only disembark at a certain time from a certain location but it turns out we could actually go when ready. All in all, the experience was good. At some point in the future we would take this ship again. Though we liked the minisuitre experience, we may opt for a higher deck for more deck/porch privacy. Decks 9 & 10 are exposed to ALL folks above you. The advantage of this is more direct sun on the porch. The disadvantage is that there is very little privacy as you have NO "roof" above you. Decks 11 & 12 have roofs above the porches. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
My husband and I have been on four cruises—three of which were on Norwegian. We have found that the freestyle cruising concept works really well for us and that the service is always great. We have tried different cabins for each cruise ... Read More
My husband and I have been on four cruises—three of which were on Norwegian. We have found that the freestyle cruising concept works really well for us and that the service is always great. We have tried different cabins for each cruise and decided to try a family suite for this vacation. We flew into LAX the day before and took a limousine to the Hyatt Long Beach where we met the rest of our family. The Hyatt was a perfect location since it is surrounded by restaurants, the pier boardwalk, and also the Aquarium of the Pacific. After eating lunch we went to the Aquarium which I would recommend buying tickets online since they are less expensive. The exhibits are extensive and it is definitely worth the money to see. That evening we all walked to Islands Burgers and retired early. After checking out the next morning we took a limousine to the San Pedro Pier, which is about a 15 minute drive. It is much easier with 7 people and luggage to take the limousine especially if you have small children since they will supply a car seat if needed. The embarkation process was the only part that disappointed us. There was little signage to direct guests to the proper lines. In fact, there was not even a latitudes line so all guests ended up in one single queue. We had to ask where to go for the suite check-in which was not ready for arriving guests. They ended up directing us to the same line but we were taken to the first available operator. After checking in we were escorted to the other side of the terminal where they had coffee and pastries available. We were the only ones in our party of 7 to have a suite so the remaining members waited in line several hours before being able to board the boat. After getting the all clear the suite guests were taken on board and brought to Cagney's for lunch. This was a wonderful experience since it was quiet and not crowded. After finishing lunch we went to our family suite cabin. This was our first experience having a suite and I now understand why people say that it spoils you. The room is 409 square feet and has amazing floor to ceiling windows. I don’t know how many times during the cruise that I just sat on my couch with a glass of wine and looked out the windows to the ocean or watched the sunset. Suite Perks: everything that is listed on the suite perks is included. There is a DVD player with about 80 movies that you can have brought to the cabin (we watched 3). We also packed a few for our niece which came in handy as well. Each evening our butler Renato brought us canapés or some type of sweet treat. Breakfast and lunch in Cagney's is a great perk if you just want some time away from the other venues. The menu does stay the same but the food quality is wonderful. The concierge will provide information on priority tendering if applicable. As noted before, the concierge, butler, and steward are not included in the tip pool so you do need to plan on extra gratuities. Day 1 (long beach): That evening we met the family in Aqua for dinner. Since we went at 5:00 pm there was not a line so we were in and out. Day 2 (at sea): We went to the arts/crafts class on paper box making, attended the latitudes party which had free drinks and appetizers, and went to the progressive wine tasting ($15 pp). This was really fun and educational. There were 6 wines that you tasted and then tasted again after eating sweet, savory, and sour foods. That evening we did Christmas caroling in the atrium and attended the Captains cocktail reception (suite guests). We capped off the evening with dinner at Aqua, listening to Mr. Motown Stan Sykes, and watched the Newlywed/Not so Newlywed game which was very funny. Day 3: (cabo): We chose not to do an excursion since we are back for a wedding in April. Instead we met our concierge Omar and took the first tender to Cabo. The pier has Senor Frogs, the Hard Rock café, and the famous Cabo Wabo. After doing some shopping and drinking we headed back to the boat and layed out at the pool. Very relaxing! That evening we dined at Ginza and played games with the family. Day 4: (mazatlan): We chose to do the Old Mazatlan walking tour, which is about a mile or so in length. The tour was very informational and lasted about 3 hours. The tour ended with watching the cliff divers and having margaritas at a restaurant on the beach. After returning to the Star we layed out at the pool and had a few more margaritas. Since it was Christmas we ate an early dinner in Aqua and hung out with the family in our suite. Day 5: (puerto vallarta): My husband chose to do the Extreme zip line Adventure with his brother-in-law which they both enjoyed. The only complaint was that the zip lines were shorter than they had anticipated. They picked up the photo package which was $60 and the company did print 4 of the photos for them to take along with the cd. I chose to stay onboard and soak up the rays at the pool. After they returned we at lunch at the pool and listened to the Mariachi band that they brought on board. That evening we watched our brother-in-law play in Deal or No Deal. He ended up taking the deal while we played along on our $20 game cards. Afterwards we headed to watch the Perfect Couple Game Show which was hysterical. Day 6: (at sea): We slept in and then met the family for the Jazz Brunch held in La Cucina. The brunch consists of pastries, cheeses, salads, eggs, seafood, and desserts which is served buffet style. You then order your entrée off of the menu. The food was fabulous and the $20 per person charge was well worth it! The jazz trio was very talented. We then figured it was our final day to lay out so we soaked up the final rays and then headed to the buffet for dinner. This was the only night that we ended up heading to bed early. All that relaxation does get to you! Day 7: (at sea): We slept in and hoped that the weather would hold out but it ended up being windy and chilly. The husband went to work out and I headed to the arts/crafts bookmark making activity. I then headed to the paper flower making activity and the towel folding demonstration. This was all held in the grand atrium and since the person leading the activity did not have a microphone it was difficult to hear what was going on. During the afternoon we played games and then headed to my father’s birthday dinner at Moderno. This was our best meal on the ship plus the service was out of this world. The cuts of meat and salad bar were really good—be warned that it is a lot of food so come very very hungry! At the end of the dinner they brought out his birthday cake and we all sung happy birthday. We had hoped to make it to Elements but the dinner did not end in time so we all played games before packing our suitcases and heading to bed. My sister used the kids club and our 3-year old niece thoroughly enjoyed the experience. They had really fun activities scheduled for them. Disembarkation: We had gold VIP tags so we could leave anytime but waited for the family who had red tags (10:00 am). Once they called our tag color we headed to Spinnaker lounge where we went through customs. After clearing customs we left the ship and found our luggage in the terminal under the colored tags. The only process took 30 minutes. After getting the luggage the limousine picked us up and took us back to the Hyatt in Long Beach. All in all, this was a wonderful cruise and I think our entire family enjoyed the Mexican Riviera. We will definitely be staying with NCL for future cruises.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
Husband and I wanted a year off from Christmas celebrations: no tree, no lights, no gifts. Church, music, dinner would be missed, but not the shopping and sales. Holiday week cruises are usually sky-high, so when we found the Miracle at a ... Read More
Husband and I wanted a year off from Christmas celebrations: no tree, no lights, no gifts. Church, music, dinner would be missed, but not the shopping and sales. Holiday week cruises are usually sky-high, so when we found the Miracle at a reasonable price, we booked. An easy drive to Long Beach the morning of the cruise brought us to the parking structure (convenient but pricey at $17/day) and the terminal shortly after 11 a.m. It was confusing to roll through the winter carnival but pleasant to check in on the Queen Mary, then back out to the marina to wait near the water for just a short time. When we saw others walking into the terminal, we followed, and were waved in. We had no wait and were on board the ship within minutes. A pleasant surprise in the Lido and on the Serenity Deck was waiters with trays of sparkling wine. We made ourselves at home in a cabana on the Serenity Deck and when we checked, our room was ready. Nice, sunny, clean and fresh air from the balcony. Friendly, efficient room stewards. We visited the Atrium bar en route to dinner and enjoyed live music. Our dining table was at the aft end of the room, and the rumbling from the engines was very distinct, so at the end of the meal we visited the maître d'hôtel station to request a change for the duration of the cruise. The next afternoon a card arrived in our room with a new table number. Monday was a sea day. We visited the gym and spent the day on loungers on the Serenity Deck, joining with other passengers in whale and dolphin sightings. You could see the Baja coast most of the way down (both our cabin and our favorite section of the Serenity Deck were on the port side). The only disadvantage was proximity to the buffet. Someone would go into the dining area, emerge with a plate of something tasty looking, and others would follow. This led to quite a bit of recreational over-eating. Fortunately for us, Tuesday was a Cabo day and we had booked a snorkel excursion through the ship so there were no delays getting a tender to the marina. A short walk to a catamaran and off we went across the water to enjoy whales spouting, fantailing and swimming about. We rode to Chileno Bay to snorkel from the boat, and enjoyed plentiful fish. We hoped the water would be a bit warmer in Puerto Vallarta, but it wasn't too cold. We saw more whales on our way back to the marina, and the crew amused everyone by dressing in wigs and pouring shots of tequila. On this excursion we got the closest we'd ever been to whales in the wild and it was awe inspiring. Our new table at dinner was in the front center of the dining room, with great company and excellent waiters. Our four new dining companions were platinum Carnival cruisers and each evening brought all sorts of lively conversation and food sampling. Wednesday there was no crowd pressure to tender to the marina, but we went at a reasonably early hour and walked ourselves down the sand to Lover's Beach for snorkeling. Others arrived via water taxi or catamaran, and a kayak vendor had brisk business. Entering the water from the sand with plenty of sun on the beach gave us snorkeling without a chill. We stopped at a café on our return to the ship to enjoy some Pacificos and a snack. We joked that we could have written a description of our do-it-yourself shore excursion and priced it at about $39. "Hiking, climbing, beach and snorkel adventure to Lover's Beach." The ship kept the Christmas observances to a mild roar. There was a special show with Santa for families at 4 pm, but plenty of live music for jazz lovers elsewhere on the ship. We attended most of the big musical shows and also the adult comedy sets. Slightly raunchy, but each of the four comedians that week was a seasoned pro. We kept in shape by visiting the gym, walking laps on the deck, and swimming in the ocean on the three port days. Thursday was Puerto Vallarta where we had booked another snorkel excursion, and off we went on a catamaran through the Bay of Banderas to the Marietas Islands. Many whales on our trips to and fro. The first stop was at a crowded atoll where we were to swim across a parking lot of large and small boats, then through a tunnel to a hidden beach. Imagine salmon swimming upstream with orange vests. Murky water and the danger of small craft starting engines as you made your way across the parking area. The second stop was almost all-to-ourselves, with excellent snorkeling in clear, warm water. Good food and drinks were served in the afternoon. It had rained early that morning in Vallarta but the clouds cleared as we steered across the bay and didn't return until we were almost back in port that afternoon. The seas were a little wavy on the trip across the bay and it occurred to me that maybe we weren't entirely safe out there as a wave swamped the entire front of the catamaran and soaked a lot of passengers' belongings, including my sneakers. But there were many smaller boats, including zodiac rafts, out looking for whales as well. Now it's back to the ship for two sea days. Friday was sunny and warm on the Serenity Deck, Saturday not so much. We lounged, we exercised, we read, we chatted and jacuzzied with fellow cruisers and tried to limit our trips to the buffet. Going to brunch in the dining room was a good option. We had gone to tea time just once on Monday, which was pleasant, and we often visited the "Taste Bar" at around 5 pm for a pre-dinner snack. Always, there was pre-dinner live music in venues scattered across the lower decks of the ship. The main entertainment on the Lido deck was via DJ, and we only observed that as we made our way across the ship or while doing laps around the deck in the evening. We slept very well in our bed beside the propped-open balcony door. Never any disturbances at night and very little cigarette smoking on neighboring balconies. I just read a review by a fellow passenger on this cruise whose cabin was on the 8th deck and who smelled cigarettes and garlic/onion cooking odors. I suspect that might be from the 9th deck smoking area beside the pool and from the buffet kitchens. That's something to remember when booking future cruises. We've always had balcony cabins on the 5th or 6th decks and not been bothered. And we're very glad no one near us chose to smoke cigars on a balcony. Summary: an excellent cruise with near-perfect weather and very pleasant passengers. Great service from cabin stewards and dining room waiters. Variety of appetizers and entrees at dinner gave us plenty of choices and opportunities to taste, share, and not finish anything that wasn't worth the calories. Using the stairs, walking the decks, visiting the gym and snorkeling in the ocean for three days netted a gain of just about two pounds. All in all, a successful cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
Just returned from the Christmas cruise aboard the Sapphire Princess. I had read the reviews prior to leaving and was a bit nervous after to reading them. I have not cruised with Princess before but have cruised multiple times with Royal ... Read More
Just returned from the Christmas cruise aboard the Sapphire Princess. I had read the reviews prior to leaving and was a bit nervous after to reading them. I have not cruised with Princess before but have cruised multiple times with Royal Carribean. I have to say we were pleasantly surprised. We were a party of six adults and two babies. We had three mini suites on Dolphin deck. A good location on the ship. We had the 5:30 seating each night for dinner (chosen because of babies eating schedule). I have to say that the food was much better than ALL of the reviews that I had read. My two son chose to try "anytime dining" one night while I babysat and their comments were that the main dining rooms food was just as good! Did not like how the waiter was always trying to upsale us drinks etc not included for the evening meal. I do have to say that overall a bit disappointed with lack of service minded staff on the ship. This includes the bars, pool decks, coffee bars, shops on Plaza deck. Ship employees seemed to have a lack of customer service. One employee in the promenade bar asked me what "blend" my granddaughter was? And how lucky she was to be born in America because working on this ship was NOT a great career. So, ship was good, food was above average, service not so good..   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
Just returned from the NYE cruise out of Long Beach on the Carnival Miracle. A few impressions: Debarkation: Miserably hot, long lines outside then once escorted inside the check in area – Eureka! I was speedily checked in and boarded ... Read More
Just returned from the NYE cruise out of Long Beach on the Carnival Miracle. A few impressions: Debarkation: Miserably hot, long lines outside then once escorted inside the check in area – Eureka! I was speedily checked in and boarded the ship. I couldn’t figure out why the check in area was half-way empty and was told it was due to some regulation or other. Oh well. My friend checked in later but due to an electrical problem, waited in the holding area for quite some time. I waited for her in the Atrium and a wonderful waiter, Weslie, made sure I had plenty of free champagne while waiting for her. I didn’t feel like going to the cabin yet. Cruise experience: Absolutely wonderful. The ship was easy to get around, had excellent room service (Dave on Riviera deck). For some odd reason the cabin wouldn't cool off so the bathroom door was left open where the ventilation was working. I figured it was because we were on top of the engines. Dining: The dining room staff was outstanding! This was the first time in 14 cruises, and not all Carnival, that I was in and out of the dining room within 90 minutes or less. Very efficient waiter and his little crew. Thank you I Nyoman, Saw and Mihajilo. Food was good; I do love the chilled fruit soups and am sad to learn they will soon be discontinued. Are the “beards” at headquarters losing it??? This is what makes cruising exceptionally great for me. Room service for early morning coffee was also good, even when we forgot to put the tag out. Entertainment: Oh, all of the shows at the theater were absolutely fantastic! Where do those dancers get all that energy? Music, props, everything was amazing. I really liked the “Generations” show as well as the Beatles tribute. I actually saw the Beatles perform at Forest Hills, Queens back in the 1960s; well that dates me, huh? Went to see a couple of the adult comedy shows. Did like the singer in the Atrium. Actually won a Carnival medal and my friend won the infamous "ship on a stick" in the trivia contests. LOL! NYE’s on board ship was amazing. Danced into 2014 on the Lido deck with lots of champagne; party hats and horns were distributed in the dining room as well as on the Lido deck. Did party with a few of my table mates; I lucked out on this cruise. Had really nice table mates. What I like about Carnival is that they try to have single people at the table that includes people sailing without their spouses, widows, etc. Had an experience with the Ruby Princess where my friend and I were seated with 4 couples who were celebrating their respective anniversaries. We are both widows so I was a bit uncomfortable. They were all wonderful, but still…. Tendering at Cabo was OK; slow on the 1st day then no wait on the 2nd day at Cabo. Puerto Vallerta, just walked off the ship. Shopped in Cabo and went to the beach at Puerto Vallerta. Debarkation: Another “fun” experience trying to get off the ship. Next time I sail, it will be self debarkation. I did make it to the airport 2 hrs before flight time; however, to my dismay, there was an extremely long line at Southwest; waited about 3 hrs in the hot sun but finally got a flight back home. Not Carnival’s problem or even SW, the winter weather throughout States caused havoc on all flights. I missed being platinum by one cruise. Hmmm….that’s OK. I’ll just have to plan my next cruise on Carnival!   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
For the 2nd year in a row, we spent Thanksgiving on the 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise. Here is a brief review and some tips: Embarkation: At Long Beach you first check your luggage with a porter on the ground floor of the parking garage ... Read More
For the 2nd year in a row, we spent Thanksgiving on the 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise. Here is a brief review and some tips: Embarkation: At Long Beach you first check your luggage with a porter on the ground floor of the parking garage (not at the check-in area which is across the street). If you arrive early (before noon), you are sent to the Queen Mary to check in. If you arrive after boarding has started, you check-in at the dome. We had Faster to the Fun (FTTF) so we arrived at 10:30. It took about 15 minutes to check-in vs about 30 for people in the regular line. We then waited until 11:45 before we were allowed to board the ship. By noon we were in our cabin dropping off our carry-on luggage. Overall a smooth process although a little disappointed with the 11:45 boarding time. Cabin: We were in 1124 which is a Ocean View Cabin. We would not recommend this cabin. Each night you could hear the loud band from night club above the room. The club closed at 12:30 so after that it was quiet. The closets have a vent behind them which causes them to be about 1 inch less deep than the clothes hangers provided. Thus, either you closet door will not close due to the clothes hangers, or you have to hang all your clothes at an angle to close the door. The vent looked unusual so it is probably a quirk of this room only. The cabin door peep hole was so scratched-up, you could not see out it. The only good thing about the cabin was that it is near the front elevators and the cabin attendant was terrific. Food: The most disappointing meal was Thanksgiving for the 2nd year in a row. The turkey tasted like press turkey (like last year on the Splendor). The pumpkin pie was a pumpkin/chocolate/gingerbread creation. Although unique food on a cruise is fun, this is one night traditional food would have been better. The best meal was the lobster (2nd night on the ship during the first formal dinner), and the Petite Filet Mignon (severed during dinner and at the Sea Day Brunch) which was one of the best I ever had. Ports: In Cabo San Lucus our daughter did the Bungee Jump. The ship does not offer this activity so we booked on our own. One thing to remember when booking a tour on your own is that ship time is one hour behind local time in both Cabo San Lucas and in Puerto Valllarta. We anchored at 9:30 ship time, which was 10:30 local time. Our excursion was set for 11:15 local time which called it close. With Faster to the Fun we were able to make it to the meeting place with 10 minutes to spare. The provider left something to be desired. First they arrived late to the meeting location (in an unmarked van). The driver then walked to a different area, out of sight, to wait for his passengers who were by the van not knowing it was their van since there was no sign. Upon arrival at the jump location (a gondola hanging on wires over a canyon), we were told that besides the $22 per person "observer fee" for mom and dad, there would be a $5 per person "park entry" fee which was not listed in the tour paperwork. The bungee jump itself was great (photo disc costs $35) and our daughter loved it. However, it was over by 12:30. We then had to wait until 3:00 for the van ride back to the ship which was about 15 minutes away. Crew: The line crew of the Carnival Miracle was great. Although you rarely got a "hello", or even eye contact, from a passing officer, the line staff was friendly, called you by name, and always had smiles on their faces. Troy, the Cruise Director, was also very friendly and it amazed us that with all the people on the ship (about 2600 with over 800 being kids) he would remember meeting you at other ship events. Kids Club (O2): Daughter said it was boring and most kids left the club and hung-out in the hot tub, at the buffet, or in other public area. Never saw a printed list of club events except for one entry per day in the daily newsletter. Last year on the Splendor Club O2 was great. This year it was a flop. Entertainment: The theater entertainment was not the best we have seen. The first night "show" was not worth going to. Carnival must own a wig company because during each dance show the dancers had wigs on which looked awful and cheap. Carnival also has cut costs by eliminating the professional show on the last night and instead has a guest talent show. Other cruises we have been on have the talent show during off peak hours. Faster to the Fun: Where to begin. Our luggage was check with the porter at 10:30. It arrived at our cabin at 4:30. 6 hours later. All three bags had the correct tags on them, and had been marked with priority stickers yet they were in the last group to be delivered. When we call Customer Service at 3:00, they seemed to genuinely care about the problem and check back with us 3 times to see if the bags arrived. They also refunded the FTTF fee due to the error. Another problem with the FTTF program was the Priority Tendering in Cabo San Lucas. FTTF guests were told to wait by Customer Service and they would be escorted to the tender boats. At 9:40, a ship officer walked past the approx 100 people waiting as he led a group of 7 towards the stairs. Nothing was said about following him but all 100 people, eagerly awaiting to leave the ship, figured out at once that he was the "escort" causing a stampede. It would have been better to line-up the FTTF/VIP people as they arrived so it would have been a more orderly process. On a plus note, the priority disembarkation went smooth. Overall, we will probably not be buying FTTF in the future based upon this cruise. Conclusion: The Miracle is a beautiful ship with an outstanding line crew. For the price of the holiday cruise, the trip was worth it. Being our 14th cruise, we have had better trips. With Royal Caribbean, and Disney, leaving the West Coast, your options are limited so you take what you can get. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
We sailed out of Long Beach on September 20. We booked an interior cabin at the last minute. We arrived at the pier at about 12:30 PM, and were on board by 1 PM. Great service there. We were booked on the Empress Deck (deck 7). This was ... Read More
We sailed out of Long Beach on September 20. We booked an interior cabin at the last minute. We arrived at the pier at about 12:30 PM, and were on board by 1 PM. Great service there. We were booked on the Empress Deck (deck 7). This was convenient, as only one floor up to dining room, and three to lido deck where we found the buffet, and the pools etc. The service there was excellent. While my wife and I aren't big drinkers, we were approached for drinks by waiters regularly. There wasn't any pressure to drink, and they were friendly, and accepted this easily. We met our cabin steward, Roderick. He was friendly, and throughout the weekend, was able to provide great service. In the main dining room again, we had outstanding service. My wife has severe food allergies, and the crew was extremely attentive, providing us with the next night's menu, and recommendations for her. We took an excursion to the Wineries of Ensenada. This was a great tour. We had a sea day, that was totally relaxing. The shows were average, but enjoyable. You should be aware that for a weekend cruise this is a "party boat" with a lot of young people, doing stags and stagettes etc. We saw some loud and rowdy behaviour, but nothing that caused concern at all for us. The ship is also a fair bit smaller than many out there today, so there aren't as many amenities as you are perhaps used to. We were stuck with lousy weather, but obviously this was out of control for Carnival. All in all we had a great time, and for a weekend away, I'd do it again. I should say that in the past we have sailed with Princess. This has spoiled us for some of the nicer parts of cruising. You do pay a little more with them, but the experience is a little nicer. For a longer cruise, I would go with Princess.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
The Zaandam is starting to show her age at 12 years old but, she is well maintained. There were some problems like some of the areas smelled slightly of sewerage (Lido Deck Men's Restroom), and an overflowing urinal in a Men's ... Read More
The Zaandam is starting to show her age at 12 years old but, she is well maintained. There were some problems like some of the areas smelled slightly of sewerage (Lido Deck Men's Restroom), and an overflowing urinal in a Men's room by the Pinnacle Grill...Which was immediately taken care of by the Engineering Staff...Come-on, we've all had a toilet backup, and we've never had 1,500 guest in our house all at one time either! Our room was very clean and taken care of by our Steward Dedi. He was bending over backwards to take care of our needs. The one thing that stands out with the M/V Zaandam is the crew: They were beyond helpful. And the entertainment was first rate. The Food Staff was excellent. From custom made sandwiches by Bernard to chit-chat with Benny in the Dining Room and everyone in-between. The Entertainment was superb! An outstanding Elton John impersonator named "Joel Mason" really rocked it out (Even with Laryngitis) . You can preview Joel on You Tube if you don't believe me! Charlie on Guitar (Charlie Jourdan) in the "Piano Bar" gets our highest praise: Extraordinary song writer, fantastic singing and a great conversationalist between songs. You can preview him too on You Tube! The Zaandam Dancers and Singers were new to their job but gave a marvelous performance each time we viewed them. Chris Pendleton: Comedienne, Female, One each, was incredibly funny and kept it clean and fresh. Even the ships Chaplin was in the front row and laughing! She too can be viewed on You Tube...Or at funnyfiddle.com. A collection of people told us that: "Holland America is a bunch of old people!" Well, to us "Old" is a state of mind and in our mind there weren't too many old people on board....All we can say is: Holland America to St Petersburg Russia in August, 2013...My Battle Cry! Read Less

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