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24 Mexican Riviera Repositioning Cruise Reviews

Had a good experience cruising with the Bliss through the Panama Canal. Thought we would go again with the Bliss on the Canada and West Coast Cruise. Bad mistake, it took us 3 hours standing in line in Vancouver to get aboard the ship. ... Read More
Had a good experience cruising with the Bliss through the Panama Canal. Thought we would go again with the Bliss on the Canada and West Coast Cruise. Bad mistake, it took us 3 hours standing in line in Vancouver to get aboard the ship. There was no priority boarding for anyone other than the Haven. We then find out Seattle had been cancelled from one of our stops and we would spend 2 boring nights in Victoria BC. The food aboard the Bliss was average and we could not get a reservation to the Specialty Restaurant Cagneys. We had to make reservations to go to the show Jersey Boys ( this was a very good show). The other show about the wives of Henry the 8th was a disappointment, I thought being loyal to one cruise would reap some benefits like priority boarding, apparently being a Gold member meant nothing for boarding in Vancouver. I will start looking at other cruise lines for my future trips. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Just wanted to get away for New Years.....we had taken several NCL cruises in the past so we felt comfortable choosing them again. We like cruising because we like to be pampered and enjoy some nice meals while we relax. We usually boook ... Read More
Just wanted to get away for New Years.....we had taken several NCL cruises in the past so we felt comfortable choosing them again. We like cruising because we like to be pampered and enjoy some nice meals while we relax. We usually boook suites in the Haven just for these reasons. NCL totally dropped the ball on this cruise..... My wife was horrified at the spa.....a woman was assigned to her who had never done a massage in her life.....she burped in my wifes ear every 2 minutes....when she asked to speak to a manager, she was avoided for 3 days and then told that there was nothing that could be done. We went to the buffets that were lacking any flavor or variety.....nobody was putting any extra effort into anything !!!! We tried to go to O'Sheehans for a "break" and were served wings with feathers still on them......we pointed this out to our server who looked at us strange and asked us when we expected her to do about it !!!! The specialty restaurants were just not up to par......we have dined at these restaurants SO many times in the past and we know what its SUPPOSED to be like......its just as if nobody cares anymore...... Thank God we already knew the Haven concierge from a previous NCL cruise to Italy....if not for her and our butler, this would have been even MORE of a nightmare. I believe that NCL came up with a great idea for their freestyle cruising....and that this gave them a lot of business.....unfortunately, they are now obviously resting on past laurels. I sent in all of this (and more) on a survey and nobody from NCL responded..... At this point, I really dont expect them to and we will probably cancel our Fall Foliage cruise with them for later this year..... Absolutely no fun involved at all when you are looking more forward to getting home than being on the cruise !!!!! At least when I got home, I only had my wife yelling at me....on the cruise, I had to deal with the "bingo-mama" and the other "entertainment staff" that was clearly more comfortable questioning the perceptions of the passengers rather than trying to address any possible problems..... At least I was happy to get home to my own toilet.....lol......the one in our cabin would spit the toilet water back up at the person sitting there every 2 minutes......never asked for a bidet....??? Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Chose to go freestyle instead of Ruby Princess which has been our choice over many years to the Mexican Riviera in December. Stateroom even though midship towards the front (4009) had humming noises nonstop. Called guest services ... Read More
Chose to go freestyle instead of Ruby Princess which has been our choice over many years to the Mexican Riviera in December. Stateroom even though midship towards the front (4009) had humming noises nonstop. Called guest services several times to report it. Once an officer came and confirmed noises would make one difficult to sleep. No further follow up by guest services to tell us the reason for the noises. Entertainment nightly in the theater was excellent with wonderful production shows except for 2 nights a comedian and a magician which were also entertaining. Many venues of entertainment throughout the ship most of the time except port days. Music throughout poolside, atrium and lounges were entertaining. Good selection of menus throughout specialty, buffet and dining rooms. Had a dining package so was able to sample most of the restaurants. You could also have some complimentary meals in some of the specialty restaurants which was nice. We enjoyed Ginza and O’Sheehan’s offerings. You could always go to O’Sheehan’s which was midship and open most of the time. Nice Internet cafe with tables for playing games. Departure from the ship was a disaster with lines of people waiting to come off the ship. We chose to wait until the lines had cleared before coming off. We found wheelchair service was a premium and not enough people assisting people embarking the ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
The embarkation/disembarkation is a fairly smooth process. The ship is a good one--Promenade, Lido, and Sun decks were great public spaces. The Casino offers of variety of gaming choices. The dining areas offer a variety of choices ... Read More
The embarkation/disembarkation is a fairly smooth process. The ship is a good one--Promenade, Lido, and Sun decks were great public spaces. The Casino offers of variety of gaming choices. The dining areas offer a variety of choices cuisine/ship location--fine dining, pizza, burgers, ice cream....all have great service! The ship's staff is super. The tender process in Cabo was not that enjoyable. LONG wait time in order to get off the boat. I don't know what the hold-up was but what ever the reason...this needs to be addressed. The entertainment while on the cruise was very enjoyable both the daytime and evening events were fun. The clientele on the boat were surprisingly enjoyable. Meet some people that I hope to keep in touch. Many passengers were eager to share a laugh, life experience. The STAFF are great and create the backbone of a successful cruise experience. They each deserve great kudos!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
The Rudy was just revamped and there are many nice additions. The Salty Dog on 15 now offers many more items along with the regular hot dog & hamburger. The new coffee and cones was convenient & the coffee in the International ... Read More
The Rudy was just revamped and there are many nice additions. The Salty Dog on 15 now offers many more items along with the regular hot dog & hamburger. The new coffee and cones was convenient & the coffee in the International Cafe was excellent as usual. Embarkation was quick and efficient and the ship looks very nice and clean. There are many nice improvements to the interior of the cabins as well as new carpet and updated open areas. The dining room menus are new and there are lots more choices available. You can even order food from the Crown Grill at an extra price if desired. The theater is large with two levels and seemed to be a perfect size. The shows were well done with the dancers and singers and they had a comedian and magician. The music in the lounges was really good. Mariachi band, pianist, singer with a dance band, a duo and a DJ. The movies under the sky were good and recent ones like I Feel Pretty and Book Club An enjoyable Cruise for our family of 12. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose this ship because it was the newest ship. This was our first cruise and the Norwegian Bliss is a brand new ship. We have always wanted to have the experience. The room was a bit small, but the extended balcony and bathroom made ... Read More
We chose this ship because it was the newest ship. This was our first cruise and the Norwegian Bliss is a brand new ship. We have always wanted to have the experience. The room was a bit small, but the extended balcony and bathroom made up for this. It was helpful to have space underneath the bed to put our stuff. The cruise was very expensive. We wouldn’t be able to travel as a family due to the cost. The kids will have to wait till they’re older to have this experience. Our excursions were shortened and not long enough to visit. A 12 to 14 day hour would allow for more time to see the sights. We loved the performers in the sugarcane, the variety of foods offered, the jewelry selection and art onboard along with a Starbucks was very much appreciated. The charge for yoga way too much and the overall experience was not that great. The charge for wi-fi was unbelievable. We learned what it is we’re looking for our next vacation. Taking a cruise is the way to vacation. 7 days isn’t long enough. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
WOW
We went on the Bliss with a back to back starting out September 30 ship from Vancouver......, This is a Beautiful ship with a great itinerary......the entertainment was fantastic, so much to do on this ship....the food was yummy, we did ... Read More
We went on the Bliss with a back to back starting out September 30 ship from Vancouver......, This is a Beautiful ship with a great itinerary......the entertainment was fantastic, so much to do on this ship....the food was yummy, we did specialty dining.....love NCL...We Can't wait for our next cruise... The staff and crew were amazing the cleanliness of the ship was fantastic it was just a beautiful all-around great cruise. The only thing negative on this whole cruise was the time that we had to get off the ship to go through San Francisco. We had to go through customs, it was a mandatory that everyone had to get off the ship, The lines were long and you stood in line for hours, however it was of no fault of NCL...... this was the first time that San Francisco had such a big ship dock and everyone had to go through customs so that's what the delay was all about, again it was no fault of NCL. I feel the did the best they could with this situation. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
It's nice being able to jump on the ship in Los Angeles for a short 7 day cruise we're only 18 minutes away. But that was the good part. We've done this cruise fifteen times and I'm not sure what went wrong or if ... Read More
It's nice being able to jump on the ship in Los Angeles for a short 7 day cruise we're only 18 minutes away. But that was the good part. We've done this cruise fifteen times and I'm not sure what went wrong or if it's just the Captain on the Emerald. It felt like we were on a training voyage. The crew was lost and confused and could never answer a question or help you. We were traveling with ten other family members that weren't in a suite so we sat in Main Dining most of the time. Had a set table but continually had the wrong meals served and it would take fifteen to twenty minutes for everyone to be served. I know, we shouldn't complain about eating, but that's part of our job on a cruise!! Club Class dining was amazing, still the same menu but the waitstaff knew their jobs. Breakfast in the Crown Grill should never be missed, was worth the cost of a Suite! Kind of tell you how they feel about folks that book an inside room! Then there's always Horizon Court on the Lido Deck. I'm not packing a suit for a seven day cruise so up we go. Not much to say about the food there, salad bar consisted of some shredded lettuce and cherry tomatoes, that's it. Wasn't much of an entree either but there was a large mixture of warm things to choose from and the best bet for dessert was a cookie. Everything else was gluten or sugar free . . . hey! I'm on a cruise! Getting off the Ship! Whew, platinum member in a full suite! We get our own private disembarkation lounge. We travel light and only in our 60's so we can still move a little and choose self embarkation. Asked for Group 1, ended up in Group 4 and our lounge was on Deck 5. Had to go up two floors to get off and couldn't get a free elevator. Most of the ship had disembarked by the time we got off. Would I go back! The way I feel now, nope, there's a lot of other choices out there. I'll probably end up on a Princess Cruise sometime or another but I'm steering clear of the Emerald, it was just that bad! Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
My wife and I are in our mid to late forties, live in Los Angeles, and basically love to cruise. The ocean, the ports, the fun..we love it all! This was the first time we've set sail from our hometown, and for us this was an ... Read More
My wife and I are in our mid to late forties, live in Los Angeles, and basically love to cruise. The ocean, the ports, the fun..we love it all! This was the first time we've set sail from our hometown, and for us this was an incredibly convenient way to get away and experience all these fun ports in Mexico to which we'd never been. We took a shore excursion in almost every port (whale watching, kayaking, snorkeling and zip lining), with each one lasting about half a day, which also gave us time to walk around and explore each port ourselves. We felt the cruise provided a great opportunity for both adventure and sightseeing, and we had a blast. The ship itself is a bit of a mixed bag. Seen from afar, anchored in Cabo or docked in Los Angeles, the white hull, blue glass, and curves of the smokestack looked stunning. The inside central atrium, called The Piazza, has an impressive three story design with swooping staircases, and though not as large as the pictures seemed to indicate, it was a totally fun place to hang out. There was always something going on there, whether it was a band playing or some audience participation event in the afternoon or a party at night. We really enjoyed the captain's cocktail party with the champagne glass waterfall, and the final farewell balloon drop, both longtime and much loved Princess events. The other public venues radiating outward from the piazza were well appointed and nice, from the semi Egyptian theme of the Explorer's lounge, which was a fun place to watch a singer or musician while having a drink, to the larger Vista lounge, where all sorts of things happened, like trivia, game shows, etc. The cruise director, Andrew Kadillac, and his staff were wonderful, and had so many fun activities happening on sea days in particular that for the first time in all of our cruises we really had to keep track of our schedule so as not to miss anything. The captain, Michele Tuvo, was phenomenal, an engaging and lively and warm man who really seemed to enjoy interaction with the passengers. We've never had that on a cruise before.The entertainment in the main Princess Theatre was great, in particular the production shows, with fantastic singers and dancers. The movies under the stars, on a huge outdoor screen by the pool, are also a fun feature. They even pass out blankets! The two lecturers, however, a husband and wife team who talked about the history of Mexico, whales, and all the ports, weren't compelling at all. We've seen far, far better on other cruise lines. We had a pretty big issue with the design of the upper outdoor decks of the ship. We are not sunbathers, but love to find some shady, quiet outdoor places to enjoy the sea going by and read a good book. Sadly, they were almost impossible to find on the Star Princess. The covered pool is just too noisy, as is the main pool area, and almost all the rest of the upper decks feature vast bland open spaces crammed full of uncomfortable chaise lounges. There's not a single shade structure or umbrella to be found. We wound up paying either $40 for a full day, or $20 for a half day to use a covered area call The Sanctuary near the bow of the ship, with lots of shade and nicer chaises, and very attentive attendants. It's luxurious, but we didn't like having to pay for the only place with shade on the upper decks. The decks featuring passenger cabins felt old and dated. The endless hallway leading to our cabin was completely undecorated and felt like a service corridor in an old hotel. Our balcony cabin was on the Caribe deck, with a large balcony that we enjoyed. Our steward did an incredible job, keeping it clean and fresh almost invisibly. The cabin itself was small and nothing special, and felt more spartan than any we've had before. Not a huge deal, but the tv was quite small and the space a little claustrophobic, even for a cruise ship. We also had unpleasant toilet plumbing issues that you really never want to experience, especially while on vacation. These happened twice, but to the ship's credit they were dealt with quickly. The dining was problematic. Both specialty restaurants, The Crown Grill, a steakhouse, and the Italian Sabatini's were delicious and had great service. We did enjoy the Horizon Court buffet. There was usually a wide and varied selection of well prepared and above average food for each meal. I really liked the different style pancakes every morning, and the different gourmet sandwiches I could find at lunch every day. Our biggest problem was dinner in the main dining room. We didn't enjoy it at all. Service for the early seating was so slow that we were not able to attend the early production show that started two hours after we sat down each day. My wife and I are not foodies and always on cruises keep our expectations realistic, but these meals varied from ok to quite subpar, with the best parts usually being the appetizers and dessert. We try to eat healthy and often eat fish, but it was so poorly prepared that neither my wife nor I could eat it. As a result, we wound up eating every night in the buffet. That part was a shame because we usually love the "pomp and circumstance" of sharing a meal with our fellow passengers in the dining room. Overall, we still had fun and enjoyed the trip. I think we'd be open to cruising again on Princess, but I think we'd want to experience a newer ship than the Star Princess. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We haven't cruised NCL in the past 25 years and now I know why. Ship was fine, upgraded to a mini suite so cabin was very nice. Staff was attentive. This was a New Years cruise, and did not have access to any Collage bowl games. This ... Read More
We haven't cruised NCL in the past 25 years and now I know why. Ship was fine, upgraded to a mini suite so cabin was very nice. Staff was attentive. This was a New Years cruise, and did not have access to any Collage bowl games. This was not ACCEPTABLE. Many cruisers were very upset.. since when can't you wa ch the rose bowl parade and the Ros Bowl game. Now for the food, mediocre at best in Tsars, Azure and Osheehans. They really want you to go to the specialtys. La Bistro, excellent as was Cagneys. Modernos was good but felt rushed. There should be an age limit at specialty restaurants as infants crying at dinner was unacceptable. Will not go on NCL AGAIN, we are elite on Celebrity and will continue to cruise on them. There is no need to go to their specialty restaurants, as the food in the dining room is of a much higher quality. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
The quality and attention to detail on this vessel was really hard to improve. The staff were well mannered and accommodating.. even under pressure and stress.! Well done for the crew selection people! Love the way the crews origin is ... Read More
The quality and attention to detail on this vessel was really hard to improve. The staff were well mannered and accommodating.. even under pressure and stress.! Well done for the crew selection people! Love the way the crews origin is defined on their name tag!! The food was frankly the best I've ever had. There was so much variety and quantity I was hard pressed to try them all.. But..! So much wastage?? Hey Carnival!!... Couple of suggestions... 1) It'd be nice for some of the passengers [like me] who are interested in "Land sightings", general navigation and positioning info to be made available somewhere! 2) How can you charge nearly $100 for a tour of the engine room, galley and bridge??? I remember when P&O Orient Lines did it for free!!! C'mon Carnival!! For that money it can remain a secret!! The ships stabilizers were magic!! I created this Christmas Message based on the cruise! https://vimeo.com/198248987 Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We always cruise the first week in December for our Anniversary. We decided to sail on this cruise as we have never sailed the Mexican Riviera, The Service was excellent and the Food on board ship was Great. The shore excursion that ... Read More
We always cruise the first week in December for our Anniversary. We decided to sail on this cruise as we have never sailed the Mexican Riviera, The Service was excellent and the Food on board ship was Great. The shore excursion that we selected was Horse Back Riding on the Beach in Cabos San Lucas. It was an incredible experience and the people that ran this excursion were excellent. It was a great experience and well worth the money. The Employees at the excursion made all riders feel comfortable and welcome. They took extremely good care of us and enforced all safety regulations. It was awesome. Embarkation and disembarkation was a dream, The transfers crew from LAX were amazing! They knew exactly who we were without us saying our names. They were fabulous!! We have been on many cruises and have used transfers, but have never been greeted like this, We will definitely take this cruise again and recommend it to family and friends! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
All in all, this was a good trip. The public areas on the ship were very nice, and the staff and service were exceptional. Cabo and Puerto Vallarta were fine, but pretty modern and full of resorts. Mazatlan was more ... Read More
All in all, this was a good trip. The public areas on the ship were very nice, and the staff and service were exceptional. Cabo and Puerto Vallarta were fine, but pretty modern and full of resorts. Mazatlan was more "Mexican," with a nicer vibe. If we ever go back to Mexico, we will go there. We were a little disappointed with our Neptune Suite, since it was in dire need of being repainted, but it was very clean and comfortable. Our wrap around deck afforded us fabulous views. I can't say enough about HAL's staff--they are warm, friendly, and very hard working. We are a bit disappointed with the food in the Vista dining room--too many dishes that were rather strange to us, such as sweetbreads and some horrible lamb my husband tried. Seems like HAL is trying too hard to create unusual dishes which aren't always better than well done less "fancy" food. Dinner in the Pinnacle Grill was fabulous, and food in the Lido was not bad. Entertainment was great--we enjoyed all of the shows. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was a combination repositioning and Mexican Riviera cruise totaling 12 days from Vancouver to Victoria, Astoria, LA, Puerta Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo and back to LA. We chose this cruise because of its length and the hope of getting ... Read More
This was a combination repositioning and Mexican Riviera cruise totaling 12 days from Vancouver to Victoria, Astoria, LA, Puerta Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo and back to LA. We chose this cruise because of its length and the hope of getting some fall weather in Canada and the Pacific Northwest. We did...and it was great...the weather that is. No rain, mild temperatures, and very calm seas. We actually booked a stern facing suite because we like seeing and hearing the wake and enjoying the ship's motion in that location. However, the seas were so calm that we might as well have been on land. The suite on Deck 9, was fabulous. Because it was a handicap suite, we had a little extra room which made relaxation either in the suite or on the balcony especially comfortable. Among other amenities, we were afforded an espresso machine and afternoonmunchies which we enjoyed daily. The shower was almost spacious and the closet and storage spaces were more than adequate. The king size bed was especially comfortable and very large. Norbie, our steward, was always attentive to our needs and between him and Ronald, our butler, we never lacked for any creature comforts and/or useful ship advice. We had the restaurant package (a good thing) because the main dining room food and service were spotty at best. We enjoyed all of our meals in the specialty restaurants although we skipped the Brazilian eatery. (We'd had it before and determined we do not care for Brazilian cuisine.) With the suite, we could eat breakfasts and lunches in one of the specialty restaurants in which the food and service was exemplary. The crab cakes benedict were to die for! Additionally, we latched onto a terrific waiter, a young man named Sameer, who helped to make each of our meals a very pleasurable experience. You don't get that in the complimentary dining rooms where lobster and specialty meat dishes were surcharged an additional $25-$30. I would suggest that cruisers pay for the specialty restaurants or get the specialty package where you get what you pay for. The entertainment was mostly excellent except for a comedienne who was anything but funny. Audience reaction was so poor, that she ended her show after 15 minutes. We took excursions in Victoria and Astoria which were marvelous. One was a bike ride around the city and the other was a short road trip to various places in Northwest Oregon which we enjoyed immensely. Bar service was excellent and although there were only two pools, one was for adults only and two of the four hot tubs excluded children as well. All in all, although we've been on better journeys, this cruise was well worth the time and money. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Cool Cruise! Thanks NCL for the GREAT weather on the whole 12 day re-positioning cruise! Our 13th cruise and we're Platinum Club Members now. We received lots of goodies in our cabin almost every night. Noel, our Cabin Steward, was ... Read More
Cool Cruise! Thanks NCL for the GREAT weather on the whole 12 day re-positioning cruise! Our 13th cruise and we're Platinum Club Members now. We received lots of goodies in our cabin almost every night. Noel, our Cabin Steward, was probably the best we ever had...Johnny-On-The-Spot with any request. Our Wine Steward, Juvy, became good friends with us , since this is the 3rd cruise we've been on together. We made new friends on the ship as usual. The food was above average and "gourmet" quality at times. I can't comment on the Garden Cafe since we only ate there once...but Le Bistro was by far our favorite restaurant. The lounge music was good, however Barry the Piano Player had to tone it down due to his proximity to some of the restaurants. NCL needs to find a venue for him to "let loose" because that is when he is the best ...otherwise he sounds like a "Windham Hill Sampler" CD...way too mellow. The same goes for the Bernie the guitar player! There was always something to do on board. We always enjoy the wine tastings! All of our shore excursions were wonderful. In Astoria, Oregon we did the "Seafood & Wine" tour...Chef Holner was talented, funny & a superb chef. We did "Las Caletas Hide-Away" in Puerto Vallata...it probably was one of the best "beach resort" tours we've been on. Marj really liked her Coco Loco Coconut cocktail. If you go there, take your camera...there are lots of "Kodak Moments". The Staff on the tender (which took us to & from Las Caletas) were extremely funny & talented. We did the "Salsa & Salsa" in Mazatlan...many, many margaritas which allowed to believe we were really good salsa dancers! Overall, ALL of our shore excursions were great. What few problems we had were trivial...the Jewel is a clean, well maintained ship. Easy to get around. Not too big which allowed us to meet and make new friends. Kudos to NCL and again thanks for a great time! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
The cruise was a back to back repositioning cruise. The first 5 days we cruised from Vancouver to Victoria to Astoria and on the Los Angeles. this part of the cruise was a little boring as the stops were not very interesting for us. As ... Read More
The cruise was a back to back repositioning cruise. The first 5 days we cruised from Vancouver to Victoria to Astoria and on the Los Angeles. this part of the cruise was a little boring as the stops were not very interesting for us. As B.C. residents, we have been to Victoria many times. We didn't feel it was worth getting off to spend money on food and transportation. Astoria looked just like home with no attractions that interested us. There were a group of tents with local people selling some amazing things. We purchased a few things and were happy for the little jaunt off the ship. Los Angeles was for debarkation and embarkation of other passengers. We enjoyed the lull onboard as others got off and got on the ship. We had a lovely chat with one of the waiters and made a friendship. After the new passengers arrived onboard, the cruise felt different. I heard that the ship was completely full. There were lots of children and lots of people in general. The mood changed and it was more hectic. We enjoyed most of the shows. The singers were not very good. The Cirque Bijou was amazing as was Luminesence. The comedian and magician were also excellent. We went to the late shows as there were less kids. Azura was our favourite dinner complementary spot. The food was mostly very good. The beef was always tender and properly cooked to the right temperature. The salads and soups were very good. There were a few appetizers that could have been executed better. The desserts were very good for the most part. The service was usually good. We loved the buffet for breakfast and lunch. Cin Cin was terrible! Our one and only experience in Tsars Palace was horrific. We were a table of 5 sharing. Everyone's food came at a different time, we were missing cutlery and coffee cups. Everything was a miss. The server was blaming other people and it seemed extremely unorganized. We were there for breakfast and never returned. O'Sheehan's pub was very disappointing. The fish and chips were limp and cold. The only good things on the menu were the wings and chicken tenders. We used it as our snack place between meals. The service was bad everytime! It was consistently bad every time. The only reason we returned was for the 2 menu items mentioned above and because we had time to spare. The window seats had amazing views especially if we were at sea. We ate at Moderna, the Brazilian restaurant. It was a great experience. The service was excellent and it was the first time we encountered a waiter with personality! The food comes out on swords and cut tableside. Most of the beef was overcooked for my taste, but the lamb, chicken and sausage were spot on. The starters buffet was excellent as well. We also dined at Le Bistro. There were hits and misses. The muscles were bland and served in a container too big for the amount of mussels. The escargot were too lemony and with not enough garlic. Our mains were both excellent. I had the rack of lamb. Cooked perfectly and so tender I could cut it with a fork. My fiance had the duck done 2 ways. Both were very good. The French onion soup was delicious as was the mushroom soup. The creme brullee was one of the best I'd ever had and I've had many! French press coffee in decaf rounded out my dinner. Excellent! The service was laclustre at best. The ambiance was great, but the bar outside the restaurant was noisy. Overall, I would say this was a good cruise. Good value for money as we got the drink package for free. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Critic This cruise has been a punishment on our sense of smell. First is the long walk to our cabin which gives us a variety of scents. The mid-ship portion has a nice flowery smell of an air freshener and then we hit the forward ... Read More
Critic This cruise has been a punishment on our sense of smell. First is the long walk to our cabin which gives us a variety of scents. The mid-ship portion has a nice flowery smell of an air freshener and then we hit the forward section where our cabin is and the lovely odour of the head comes wafting to our noses. Now I fear we will be sleeping within the ode de toilet but the fear doesn't bare out as the cabin is odour fee. Two of our bags are present so we unpack those and read the “what's happening today” where we see we shouldn't worry about our stray bag for another 5 hours. So off we go to explore the ship when I spot a familiar looking bag all alone in a hallway near the aft section of mid-ship. The colour tag is not the one I put on it but the personal name tag is mine! So back to the cabin we go and unpack it. I hope the crew member that left it there didn't search for it too long. After a bizarre incident in O'Sheehan's which I will explain later we returned to our cabin. Again through the flowery scent followed quickly by an open sewer but now mixed with diesel exhaust. We open the cabin door and the burned diesel odour has filled our cabin. We vent the room using the bathroom fan and along comes our Steward. We ask him what's up with the smell and he isn't quite getting what the problem is but would have someone look into it. I'm guessing the wind changed direction and since we are going as slow as possible (we are taking all night to do what the ferry does in 90 minutes) it is possible our own exhaust was blowing back to our air intakes as the problem did not reoccur and we never heard back from anyone about it. On our first sea day we decided we were going to sleep in but at 8:30ish (yes that's not yet sleeping in to us) we were woken by the powerful smell of paint. The cabin was full of it. It was so strong I thought they'd painted our cabin as we slept. The smell got stronger as time went by to the point I was considering evacuating to fresh air for fear of a gassing. We did our morning routine and left thinking surely the passageway would be full of the noxious gas but no, it was still its head smelling self. The hall smelled as if the toilet vacuum was venting there. We took our stoned (paint fumes) selves to the front desk. The desk clerk we spoke to went away, presumably to see where there is painting taking place, and after a lengthy absence he returned with a thank you he will look into it and leave us message on our phone. We got a message saying he’d t spoken with the maintenance supervisor and requested any further painting be halted. During the last potion of the cruise the familiar smell of paint returned to our cabin while were out on an excursion. This time the maintenance supervisor came to the cabin and confirmed we were smelling paint (in case we were mistaken?). He said he’d look into it. This was the last we heard from him and the last time we had paint in our cabin. Now for some positive and the O'Sheehan's event. I was having a beer on our first night and while my glass was sitting on the table I noticed it appeared as if I had spilled a bit, however the puddle was growing yet the glass was not overflowing. To see where it was coming from I lifted my glass. Suddenly the glass emptied all over the table and flowed on to my lap and that of my wife. As we leapt away from the fall of the beer I saw the top of the glass in my hand and the bottom of the glass still on the table. Seems the glass cracked all the way around and the beer was oozing through the crack until I lifted it up. The ship did pick up the cleaning bill for both of our outfits without hesitation. We were presented with a bottle of wine and chocolates twice. When I asked the person delivering them he didn’t know why we were getting them. I thought because I made two complaints perhaps? I did notice several others were getting the same thing so unless there were a lot of complaints I doubt this is why. Going freestyle (our first time) lets you eat when you're ready but only if they have space. We tried to make reservations which some of the ship’s paperwork recommended and they allowed it once but every other night they insisted they were not needed. On a couple occasions we arrived for dinner there was no line to get in there were several tables with diners along with empty seats. I guess those folks were not the sociable type cruisers because we were seated on a sofa at the kitchen entrance and asked to wait. After this we were always greeted pleasantly at Tzars by the hostess who, even though we didn’t eat there every night, knew us and our cabin number on sight. She routinely had us seated at or very near the big windows. Our thoughts on the remainder of the ship are mixed. We did like the layout of the ship itself and the variety of places to sit and eat or drink. Which is the purpose of a cruise isn’t it? While the food service was lacking we did find most of the food to be good. Of the eateries we partook most of the servers were not nearly attentive enough. The buffet always had a large selection of food and seating was not a serious difficulty as we have no trouble sharing. While we found the food in the buffet to be good, virtually every edge of every table we sat at was sticky. It seems like they wash the tops but not the sides. Our cabin carpet was very dirty. It looked like it needed a good cleaning more than a year ago. They began to change carpets in the halls during our cruise so hopefully the cabins are getting changed soon. The bathroom was a bit strange as the toilet was in on an angle and one corner of the seat was very close to a wall forcing one to sit sidesaddle. There was a serious lack of water pressure in the sink. Rinsing a toothbrush was a real challenge. We found most of the railings on stairways, elevators and halls to be sticky and in need of the washie washie team! Events during the cruise were disorganized. Of note was the Customs inspection in Astoria. The staff were calling out deck numbers to the que long before the previous decks had cleared Customs. This made the line for screening extremely long. A large number of procedures outlined in the “what's happening today”, on the TV, or over the public address system were in conflict with each other. The Cruise Director staff and the lounge entertainment were a bit cruder with their jokes than I would have expected. They didn’t cross my line as I can be pretty crude however, my wife was not too impressed. The acts were good but their jokes and those of the staff went a bit too far. Other than the smells in the cabin, a sense of a lack of organization, and my higher expectations, the overall cruise was acceptable. I was able to relax and enjoy most of my time onboard. However, for me to sail with NCL again it will have to be the right itinerary and the right price point now that I know what to expect. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
My husband and I are avid cruisers but had never cruised on Norwegian before. We were taking our children and grandchildren on this cruise and thought that Norwegian would be a wise choice as much seemed to be offered for all ages and it ... Read More
My husband and I are avid cruisers but had never cruised on Norwegian before. We were taking our children and grandchildren on this cruise and thought that Norwegian would be a wise choice as much seemed to be offered for all ages and it left from our home port of Los Angeles. It felt clear to us that the majority of employees were not happy about working over the Christmas season, it was palpable as employee after employee was either blatantly rude or merely dismissive save for a couple of exceptions. Initially we were looking forward to the many dining options. After eating in the Italian Restaurant the first night (for a price), we changed our mind. The food was inedible and nobody seemed to care. The buffet smelled like a hospital cafetaria and the food tasted similar. The only thing I found that was tasty were the french fries. It was impossible to get reservations at any of the other restaurants except for Teppanyaki which was passable (also at a price). We had some problems with service at guest relations, who communicated that they could not solve our problems and we would have to take them up with customer service on our return. My husband spent 45 minutes on the phone trying to speak to a live person on our return. Unsuccessful, he emailed his complaint and received an email in return, telling him to expect a response within 15 days!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Left LA round trip Mexico (a cruise that we've done 24 times prior) with stops in Cabo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. I enjoy this itinerary because it is relaxing and after traveling there so many times, I know where to Christmas ... Read More
Left LA round trip Mexico (a cruise that we've done 24 times prior) with stops in Cabo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. I enjoy this itinerary because it is relaxing and after traveling there so many times, I know where to Christmas shop. I just love Mexico and their culture and people. The Jewel was my first time on the NCL Line. Their embarkation is the BEST by far. We arrived at 9:45am and was on the ship unpacking at 11:00am. Lunch was served and then off to the upper deck to just lounge around and get into the cruise spirit. It was like you had this extra day on the cruise. Off for a nap then ready for dinner. The choices of restaurants was wonderful and each one carried a theme as to the cuisine. Our room 9104 with our room Steward 'I Dewa Putra' was incredible. We explained to him our preferences about 'real sugar versus chemical sugar' and we enjoyed regular coffee instead of decaf. Towelselections, bed arrangements, and other incidentals that make our trip our own. He remembered, and was just a wonderful gentleman who worked around my schedule of sleeping late (10:00am) and continental breakfast by room service. He was the intrigitual part of making our vacation unique and special to us. Our room was the smallest we've been in with the bathroom toilet area even smaller!! I'm 6'4" and 220 lbs. I banged by elbows everywhere in the toilet area. Just how many passengers can you put on a ship? See NCL. Not good. The food from what I was served was poor to fair. My spouse's meals were enjoyed with gusto. One evening I ordered room service for dinner and had the "herb 1/2 chicken with veggies, baked potato, and a side sauce". It was INCREDIBLE!!! Seriously it was one of the BEST meals of the cruise. My other meal was from Chin-Chin Restuarant. Again one of the best meals that was INCREDIBLE!! The support staff who tends to your food orders, does so with such professionalism. Friendly, humorous and just full of life. They are amazing. Now comes the bad part. Effective August 15, 2015, NCL started this "Service Charge" of $13.50 daily for certain staterooms and $14.50 daily for suites. Read the "Ticket Contract" about these fees and its states in Paragraph 3 sections (a) to (d) about how the fees are up to your discretion but these fees are USED, dispersed and dispersed to the staff and crew subject to "JOB PERFORMANCE" reviews. That makes each and every passenger over the age of three (3) becoming a part of the employer/employee relationship. Then try to go to the Pursers Office (front desk) and get these fees removed from your account. After 4 hours of discussions about how you get a refund between 2-4 weeks, I made it very clear that I had spoken to my Credit Card Company and was told by said Credit Card Company that if NCL refused to cooperate I would be able to dispute the entire balance and that my balance due could be tied up for 60-90 days. When you "do the math" there was 2,700 individuals on board my cruise. It was a FULL cruise. 10% was 3 years and under, that leaves 2,430 X $13.50 (average) = $32,805.00 daily X 7 days = $229,635.00 per week of "Service Fees" that NCL purports goes to the entire staff BASED upon compensation packages for each individual's. $229,635.00 X 4 weeks = $918,540.00 in "Service Fees" per month. Do the staff and crew get a "Performance Review" monthly or quarterly, half a year or annually? As a business owner you're paying NCL's payroll. If not then where is the "Service Fees" actually going to? After the signing of the "required documents" where you have to state why your not willing to give your stewards, waitress, bartenders and the like a tip, I made it VERY clear that I was not going to complete any of that as I wasn't, at the time, displeased with any of the service staff. I tip to whom I wish, not what is expected by NCL. The guilt trip that ensues is enough to make you lash out against NCL having their hands in your pockets trying to get every penny, nickle, dime, quarter and dollar. Room Service is $7.95 with 18% gratuity. Any other cruise line does not charge this. I do in fact give room service staff a tip for bringing my meal to me. I give individuals CASH not placed upon my account. I've always done this. AND never had to be charged for "room service"!! These policies of paying for the payroll of the staff and crew on board the ship is really a disgrace. NCL has take the position that although this is not mandatory, the front desk comes across as this is the way things are and does EVERYTHING in their individual powers to discourage you from waiving your RIGHT not to do this. It is despicable and not the way to grab money from your passengers. The ship was very nice and kept clean. All crew and staff when they walked by you would smile and say Good morning/afternoon/evening. They made you feel good with being onboard. The disembarkation was unique as well. NCL has this "easy walk off" and if you have limited luggage, can carry your luggage off with you, you can leave early when the ship has been cleared. Just stand in line and first call your off. This was wonderful. All in all, this cruise was comfortable, relaxing and just what the doctor ordered. The constant penny, nickel and dime attitude of NCL is not. Will I travel on NCL again? Time will tell. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
There were 9 of us on this cruise, the ages were from 7 to 78. We had 3 generations sailing together for the first time, 5 of us had sailed before and 4 of us were brand new to cruising. The first timers of 4 already want to do another ... Read More
There were 9 of us on this cruise, the ages were from 7 to 78. We had 3 generations sailing together for the first time, 5 of us had sailed before and 4 of us were brand new to cruising. The first timers of 4 already want to do another cruise, so we are looking at 2017 for a Caribbean Cruise, 2 of us are already booked for 2016 cruise and it is on one the largest cruise ship in the world and expensive....... The rest want to go on a cruise so we are looking at which Caribbean cruise to do for 2017. We had no problems at all, all 4 four cabins were very clean and neat, the bar service was a little slow at times but we knew a cool drink was coming so we were ok with it. The food in the LIDO and The Main Dinning room was delicious and our waiters were wonderful 3 CHEERS for HAMED, he make us and the rest of our party feel welcome each night. My Mother in-law had fun dancing with him during there little shows they put on and so did the kids. The shows were great, 2 of us signed up for the VIP show and had a ball......... This is not like the 3 night cruise which is a party cruise, we saw very few people who had too much to drink. We have done the 3 night every years since 2001 and sometimes twice in one year. This was our first time doing the 4 night and will be doing it again SOON.......... We had no problem getting on the ship, took less than 20 minutes and our luggage was there by 2 pm. We live local so we had breakfast before we got off the ship when we got back. Only about 15 minutes to get off, get our luggage go thru customs and we were headed home. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Just returned from the Mexican Riviera Cruise. Three days to Puerto Vallarta then to Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. This is one of the first itineraries to stop in Mazatlan due to the security concerns. Since we had been there many years ago ... Read More
Just returned from the Mexican Riviera Cruise. Three days to Puerto Vallarta then to Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. This is one of the first itineraries to stop in Mazatlan due to the security concerns. Since we had been there many years ago we opted to remain on board and not tempt fate. Weather was great and temperatures were in the mid 70s. The Grand is a "smaller" older ship and was refurbished in 2011. She still has areas that are original and is starting to look a bit tired but is still very acceptable since we are not into the glitch. The balcony cabins on the upper decks are small compared to other balcony cabins on other Princess ships. Closet space and doored cabinet shelves were half the size in width. Luckily on a seven day cruise we didn't take that many clothes but on a long cruise this could be an issue. On the other hand our friends had an inside cabin on Aloha that was twice as big as any we've ever seen with huge closets and cupboards. The room steward said that it and the one next to it were unique as well as the two on Baha below them. The crew and staff were the best and most friendly we've had on any cruise in a long time. Unfortunately dining room staff has been reduced and it took over 2 hours to complete a meal at a table for six. Overall we've been on at least 6 other Princess ships and the Grand ranks in the lower third. We were told it was going into wet dock in end of April for refurbishment so maybe it will be totally spruced up then. Don't expect cabins to be enlarged however. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Loved this cruise itinerary as it went into the Sea of Cortez. We got to swim with the Whale Sharks. It was amazing! Water was chilly in January, but I came prepared with tights and swim jacket. We met so many nice people on Princess. ... Read More
Loved this cruise itinerary as it went into the Sea of Cortez. We got to swim with the Whale Sharks. It was amazing! Water was chilly in January, but I came prepared with tights and swim jacket. We met so many nice people on Princess. We've cruised with many other lines, but this was our first Princess. Was a little disappointed in the food quality. Had better food on Carnival and I had to turn down most desserts as they contained milk (I'm lactose intolerant). At least I didn't gain any weight! The kitchen seemed to struggle to prepare substitutes for me. Never realized how many dishes contain milk! We had a balcony room for the first time and loved it. Some public areas were somewhat crowded but there were plenty of other areas that were not. Overall, it was a good value. We experienced great service from all of the ships personal, especially our room steward. My favorite area is the forward deck, near the spa area. Very quiet. If you like noise, then the main pool area is for you. Embarkation was a breeze. Disembarkation went really smooth as well. Entertainment was just o.k. Ports and shore excursions were good. Although some excursions in Mexico are somewhat sketchy (I expected that). Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We feel the things are changing in the cruise industry due to costs and the resulting containment. Right now we are on a three cruise test. It started with the Celebrity Summit in September on a Canada, NE cruise. We have been celeb ... Read More
We feel the things are changing in the cruise industry due to costs and the resulting containment. Right now we are on a three cruise test. It started with the Celebrity Summit in September on a Canada, NE cruise. We have been celeb devotees with 11 cruises but we did have a 4 year absence before this one. unfortunately it was a culinary Titanic. Step 2 was the Carnival Spirit on October 4 to Mexico for 8 days. Embarkation was almost a disaster in that we forgot our passports. The Carnival people could not have been nicer but they could not let us board but since we are San Diego locals they helped us contact our son who delivered the passports to us.Other than that embarkation was smooth as silk. The cabin was large I thought for a window cabin and nicely appointed. The cabin steward,Kutek,was super the whole trip. Dining was a superb experience in many ways. First we have been on board the Spirit twice before and had a favorite table. I asked the Matre'd Fernando if it was possible to get it. He was able to arrange this from the second night on. WOW I have never said this about a Matre"D before The food was wonderfully prepared with great sauces. The Coq Au Vin, Beef stroganoff and their sauces were super. Had Veal(yes I said VEAL!) parmigiana that was out of this world. Carnival was clever they served Maine (yes MAINE)LOBSTER AND 3 LARGE SHRIMP on the second night. Sure set up a positive mood for the rest of the trip. The soups were the best I have had on a ship with very nice salads that were full size. The table service on by Harleen was terrific.We did not use the buffet much but it was good. The entertainment was very good and professional. They sure did not skimp on the appearances of the singers and dancers in production shows. We had plenty of activity in using the pool and hot tubs as well as trivia games and craft opportunities. One short fall was the lack of movies on this cruise The ports were Acapulco, Zihuatanejo and Manzanillo. We have been to all of these before and did not go ashore but took advantage of the ship facilties in stead.I was glad to hear that Carnival will be changing the itinerary to a 9 day to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, La paz and Cabo and will look forward to them on this ship. One thing I should note that was most pleasing Carnival on this cruise does not ask you to change the clock since we only had one time zone change. We just kept using ship time ALl in all a terrific cruise that leaves me wanting more from Carnival and forsaking my Captains club elite status with Celebrity-Beleive me there was no comparison. Embarkation was a revelation on the Spirit they again suprised me by allowing those of us who carry our bags on and off to leave first. Hoi;y Crow These people did so many things right it was mind blowing. Well Step 3 is on December 5 on the Holland Oosterdam and I will report on this after the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
South America & Mexico - Carnival Splendor - March 3 - 21, 2009 Overall, this was a wonderful 18-day cruise on the Splendor. This was my sixth cruise, and the third time on a Carnival ship. I was travelling "solo", ... Read More
South America & Mexico - Carnival Splendor - March 3 - 21, 2009 Overall, this was a wonderful 18-day cruise on the Splendor. This was my sixth cruise, and the third time on a Carnival ship. I was travelling "solo", however, it was nice to meet many wonderful people (a number of whom were Cruise Critic members). THE SHIP: The Splendor was a huge ship. It was fairly new (less than a year old). My balcony stateroom (Category 8A) was on the Upper Deck, cabin 6226. It was close to the bow and on the 6th deck. The room was quite large (approx. 220 sq. ft.), very bright with a wall of glass overlooking the balcony, and could easily sleep 4 people. It had a very comfortable king-sized bed (two twin beds pushed together) with lovely linens, etc. There was a sofa that converted into a single bed and also a "Pullman" bed secreted in the ceiling. There was plenty of closet and storage space. The bathroom was a decent size (shower only; no tub) with lots of room to put away toiletries, etc. The towels were plush and the bathrobe was very comfortable. There was a desk/vanity and chair, a flat screen tv and a refrigerator. There was only one electrical outlet in the room (above the desk) and one outlet in the bathroom (up high near the ceiling). There was a hairdryer in the top drawer of the desk/vanity that worked quite well. All in all, it was a very comfortable room. My only concern with the cabin was the noise from the Spectacular Lounge located directly below it. The sound-proofing was mostly non-existent, and so I heard all the rehearsals during the daytime, and also the late show at 10:30 pm each evening. It was very loud; so if you book this cabin, be prepared to live with the noise level. The balcony was smallish, but with enough room for 2 chairs and a small side table. It was quite private and it was a real treat to be able to sit outside and admire the view whenever I chose (usually I book an inside cabin). A few feet down the hall from my cabin was a door that led out to a small deck overlooking the bow of the ship. For those passengers staying in an inside cabin, it was a place to get outside without going up to the Lido deck to check the weather, get some fresh air, etc. There was a small laundry area on three of the decks with coin operated washers and dryers and on Upper Deck there was a "pressing room" with irons/ironing boards. The dEcor of the ship was very pink and the theme was circles (think large polka dots). At first it seemed quite garish, but I got used to it very quickly and never gave it another thought. There was a large atrium in the center of the ship that went all the way from 3rd deck to 11th deck. At the very top of the ship (Sky Deck) was the mini golf area and the entrance to the water slide. Below that was the Sun Deck with the "Serenity" area (an adult only area outside with deck chairs, lounges, etc.). Below that was the Spa Deck that contained the Gym and the Spa. The gym was located at the very front of the ship and had walls of glass. The gym had lots of modern equipment and it was normally quite busy. I never used the spa facilities nor the hair salon, however, it always seemed busy (especially on "formal night" days). Also on this level was a small pool and hot tub, at mid-ship was a water park for the children, and at the back of the ship was a small sports area (basketball/volleyball) and a jogging track. The track was 10 laps to a mile long and always busy with runners and walkers out getting their exercise. There was a large pool on the Lido Deck (Deck 9) with a retractable roof overhead. And at the very back of the ship was an adults only pool and hot tub. All the pools seemed to be very popular. The surrounding decks were always full of people relaxing on deck chairs, etc. Above the main pool area on the Lido Deck was a large theatre screen. There were movies and concerts playing on the screen throughout the day and evening. Because the outdoor area was so large, it never felt overly crowded. There were lots of deck chairs and tables/chairs surrounding the pools and also on Deck 11 and at the back of Deck 10 (where the smokers hung out). Near the back of the ship was the Rotisserie Restaurant which served chicken, roasted potatoes, salads, macaroni and cheese, etc.. It was upstairs from the buffet area and was a great place to have lunch away from the crowds. Inside the Lido Deck was the Grand Buffet which served a great variety of foods. There were stations on each side of the ship including a deli/sandwich area beside the aft pool, and at mid-ship a pizzeria on the port side and a grille area on the starboard side. Although it was always busy, I never had a problem finding a place to sit. There was soft serve ice cream and yogurt stations with toppings, etc. located throughout the Lido area. I found the best place to have lunch was in the Rotisserie, because it was the least crowded. As well, there were tables and chairs on Deck 10 overlooking the main pool...another good place to sit away from the crowds. The Veranda, Empress and Upper Decks all contain only passenger cabins. On the Promenade Deck (Deck 5) was where to find the upper level of the Spectacular Show Lounge, the shops, the Casino, sushi bar, video arcade and various bars/lounges. At the back of the ship was the El Morocco, a smaller show lounge. The shops were typical and, for the most part, fairly expensive. The Casino was a decent size and not too busy. There were a number of different bars and lounges, including a piano bar and a disco and karaoke area, etc. On the Atlantic Deck (Deck 4) was the mezzanine level of the Spectacular Lounge and a small library and the photo gallery area. There was a very small Internet area with a dozen computers. The internet area was an afterthought and located in a cramped area off of the Robusto Bar (a cigar bar). Also on this deck was the upper level of the Black Pearl Restaurant (mid-ship) and the upper level of the Gold Pearl Restaurant (at the back of the ship). The last deck with public rooms was the Lobby Deck (Deck 3). The main level of the Spectacular Lounge (were the lectures and evening shows took place) was large and was very comfortable. The sight lines, sound system, lighting, etc. were all fine, with just a few seats blocked by pillars. The Black Pearl and Gold Pearl Restaurants were large, well lit, well laid out, etc. I was sitting at a table for 8 on the top level of the Gold Pearl Restaurant at the back of the ship (5:45 pm; main seating). The table was always beautifully set with nice linens, crystal, china, silver, etc. The Black Pearl Restaurant was similar, except it was at mid-ship. I never ate in the Pinnacle Restaurant, but everyone I spoke with who ate there really enjoyed themselves. I gather the food and service were very good. The Purser's desk, shore excursions desk, front office, etc. were also found on the Lobby Deck. There was an outside promenade area on each side of the ship for walking, etc., but the two sides were not connected, so that meant you couldn't walk a circuit under a bit of cover. The atrium area on the Lobby Deck was always very busy. There was musical entertainment throughout the day and evening and a large dance floor. As well, there was a nice bar area for drinks before dinner. The Main and Riviera Decks were cabins only. The infirmary was on the "0" deck and was very well equipped and prepared for pretty much any type of emergency. Because many passengers and crew were suffering from an upper respiratory illness, it was one of busiest areas on the ship! There was continual cleaning and disinfecting being done by the ship's staff in the cabins as well as all the public areas. Unfortunately, that didn't seem to be good enough to keep everyone from catching the "Carnival Cough". Personally, I put the blame on the passengers with no common sense and with a generous lack of personal hygiene for continuing to spread the germs. I lost count of the number of times I saw someone use the washroom and not thoroughly wash their hands afterwards, or cough into the air or maybe into their hands and without cleaning them, handle the serving tongs, etc. in the Lido buffet. Or the people who would put their fork into a dish, taste it, like it, and put their fork right back in for another bite! I consider myself lucky that I only caught a chest cold and nothing more serious. Overall, the ship was easy to navigate and there were lots of elevators and staircases and wide hallways, etc. Therefore, it never felt overly crowded. For the able-bodied, the ship was great. For those with mobility issues, there seemed to be good access to all the public spaces, with room for wheelchairs, walkers, etc. There were some bottleneck areas near the elevators in the atrium, and also near the entrance to the dining rooms. Similar to other ships with a dining room at mid-ship and at the back of the ship and the galley between the two dining rooms, you cannot walk through decks 3 and 4 from front to back. You need to use either deck 2 or 5 and then use the stairs or elevator to access the dining room. THE PASSENGERS: Not so typical of Carnival, the majority of passengers were older. I believe the average age was about 67. About three-quarters of the passengers were from the United States and about one-quarter from Canada and elsewhere. I think there were about 3,000 passengers on board. Overall, I found the majority of people on board to be friendly and kind. This was a 49-day cruise that started in Ft. Lauderdale and sailed down the east coast of South America, around Cape Horn and then up the west coast of South America. Many of the passengers were on board for the full cruise (lucky them!) and so those of us who embarked for the last 18 days of the cruise were "outsiders", but we were welcomed and fit in easily. Like any cruise there were people on board who were bored, cranky, rude and just plain miserable. Because of the length of this cruise the number of these unhappy passengers was exaggerated. The behavior of many was just inexcusable. A number of passengers had the automatic gratuity of $10 per day taken off their account (they felt that $490 was just too much to spend) and then at the end of the cruise they stiffed their cabin stewards and dining room staff. I witnessed a few people (who had eliminated the automatic gratuity) handing their waiter a $20 bill on the last night and thinking that was appropriate! The crew worked so hard for those (automatic and extra) tips throughout the entire cruise and to be denied them was beyond insulting and cruel. CREW and CUISINE and ENTERTAINMENT: I found all the crew members I dealt with to be friendly and professional. My cabin steward (Joselito) was amazing. The front office/Purser's desk staff were always very helpful. As were the Shore Excursion desk staff. The dining room staff were terrific (Nikola and Ivan) and overall my dining experience was great. Our maitre d' was Ken Byrne, who sang every second evening and the waiters got up to dance with him. It was entertaining and lots of fun. However, entertainment in the dining room is not eveyone's cup of tea and there were some complaints. Personally, I really enjoyed it. The cruise director (Goose) was pretty much non-existent, but his staff (Jamie, Adele, Lauren, Owen, Brad) were fun and energetic. Carnival makes a point of hiring staff from around the world and I expect that there were at least 30 countries represented. I thought the food on board the ship was very good. Every evening I got to try new things. The presentation was good and the food was usually hot when it arrived at the table. The food in the Lido was also very good. I enjoyed all the variety of foods... a much larger selection than what I was expecting. I ate most of my breakfasts in the Gold Pearl Restaurant and most of my lunches in the Lido Buffet or Rotisserie. I went to about half of the shows in the Spectacular Lounge. The staff singers and dancers were the best I've seen on a cruise ship and the 3 "production" shows that they put on were excellent. The rest of the shows were typical...comedians, jugglers, singers, etc. The orchestra was comprised of a very good group of musicians and they were excellent. As well, the Elite Show Band (who usually preformed in the El Morocco Lounge) were very good. There were good musicians performing in the various lounges. All in all, the entertainment was above par. For the passengers who were on the cruise for the full 49 days, some of the entertainment became repetitive and if Carnival decides to so more long cruises, they will have to re-evaluate the entertainment being offered on board. PRE-CRUISE AND EMBARKATION: This cruise left from Valparaiso, Chile. I was on Leg 3 of the cruise (Ft. Lauderdale to Buenos Aires, Brazil - Leg 1; Buenos Aires to Valparaiso, Chile - Leg 2). I flew to Santiago, Chile on the day before the cruise and spent the night at the InterContinental Hotel in the Las Condes district. It was a typical InterContinental Hotel... clean, comfortable, well situated, etc. It was in the banking district and surrounded by a residential area - so it was safe for walking around, etc. As I had been to Santiago 3 years ago, I was o.k. with not staying downtown and touring around the city. I had arranged my hotel stay through Carnival and the transfers from the airport to the hotel and then from the hotel to the ship were included in the very reasonable cost. I was met by a Carnival representative at the entrance to the airport and we travelled in a van for 20 minutes to the hotel. Check-in at the hotel was fast and simple. There were restaurants in the hotel for dinner, as well as some very good fish restaurants in the district surrounding the hotel. A complimentary continental breakfast was served before we checked-out and boarded the bus for the transfer to the ship. The bus ride to Valparaiso was about 2 hours driving through beautiful valleys with vineyards, farms, etc. Embarkation was similar to what I've experienced in the past at other ports. I had entered all my information online before hand, and it took about 5 minutes to check in. One note for passengers flying into Santiago. The Chilean government charges an "reciprocity (entrance) fee" that was US$132 for Canadian passengers (US$131 for US passengers). This fee was paid at the airport before clearing customs and if paying in cash had to new bills only. They do accept Visa and MasterCard, but the machines are not always operational. The fee was valid for the period until expiration of the passport. Of course, I had renewed my passport since the last time I was in Chile, so I had to pay again. Note that you need to turn left as soon as you come down the escalators from the arrivals area to get in line to pay the entry fee. Then you get in another line to pass through customs. Once through customs you pass into the baggage area. You will need to put your luggage through a screening machine before leaving the baggage area. Once past security, you enter a very noisy, busy area full of people meeting passengers, etc. Keep a close watch on your luggage in this area. It is a mad crush of people and, twice, I had someone try to grab my luggage and steer me towards his "taxi". PORTS and SHORE EXCURSIONS: For this cruise I decided to book shore excursions through Carnival. Because I was travelling solo, I found it easier (and safer) to book through the cruise line. If I had been travelling with others, then researching and booking private excursions would have been appropriate. Arica, Chile I had originally booked a full day tour, but it was cancelled because we were delayed (searching for a man overboard) and only arrived in Arica in the afternoon. Arica is a busy, working port and so it was necessary to take a shuttle bus from the ship to the port entrance. It only took a few minutes and the buses ran constantly. It was a very safe, small city...easy to walk around and take in the sights and with a large handicraft market in the main square. I really enjoyed my time just walking about and the people I spoke with who did tours outside of the city (up towards the Atacama Desert) really enjoyed themselves. Lima, Peru "Grant Tour In Lima" Again, the port in Lima was a working port and so it was necessary to take a shuttle bus to the main entrance of the port where you could arrange for taxis, etc. Our 8 hour tour by bus left from the ship and we drove through Callao and on into Lima. We spent time in the main square, the Santo Domingo Convent and the San Francisco Monastery. All very old and very beautiful. We drove to the Indian Market and could have spent the whole day there....so much to see and buy. We had lunch in a restaurant in the Miraflores district (a wealthy area) that was very good and then drove to the Parque del Amor (Park of Love) overlooking the ocean. Finally, we stopped at the Gold Museum, which was very interesting. This was a good excursion that gave us a basic overview of Lima. Manta, Ecuador "Manta, Panama Hats & Montecristi" Once again, we were in a working port where shuttle buses were available to travel to the entrance for taxis, etc. This excursion was 4 hours by bus. We first stopped at the open air fish market which was fascinating. The stench was overpowering, but it was great fun to speak with the locals about the fish they had caught, etc. Tuna fish is the major industry in Manta. We then drove along the coast to Monticristi, which is a small town renowned as the home of "panama hats". It was interesting to watch how the hats are made by hand. There was a beautiful church to visit and a main square with a small handicraft market. We then drove inland a bit to the village of El Aromo and visited a small farmhouse where the family makes panama hats and sells them and locally grown coffee beans, etc. The owners were very gracious and welcoming. Finally we drove back to Manta and visited the Archaeological Museum which was very interesting. As Manta is very small, it was nice to get out of town and see some of the countryside, etc. on this tour. Acapulco, Mexico "Birds, Turtles & City Overview" Acapulco is beautiful from afar, but I found the city to be very "Americanized". I was anxious to get out of the city and this excursion was about 5 hours long. We drove through Acapulco (very heavy traffic) and then down the coast for about an hour to Tres Palos Lagoon. We boarded small wooden boats and toured through the lagoon. After that we backtracked for 20 minutes to the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre. We learned a lot about the turtles and the work being done at the centre and then had the opportunity to release a hatchling into the ocean. A very special moment for all involved. The drive back through Acapulco was scenic and took 2 hours (again because of the heavy traffic). I had no desire to wander about in the city, but many people did and enjoyed the shopping, etc. If you wanted to shop at Wal-Mart and then grab a meal at Hooters, then this was the port of call for you. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico "Colonial San Sebastian" Similar to Acapulco, I was anxious to get out of the city and instead see some of the countryside. This excursion was about 7 hours and I was in a van with 11 other passengers (so much better than a large tour bus). We drove through PV and then east up into the Sierra Madre Mountains. It was about a 90 minute drive to San Sebastian along winding mountain roads...very picturesque. The town itself has not changed much in 200 years and it was very interesting. All the streets are cobblestone and very uneven, so it is not a tour for people with mobility issues. After wandering about, we had a very good Mexican lunch at a local dining establishment. We then had more time to look about (the local cathedral was very interesting) and then drove to a local Hacienda where we spent about an hour touring inside and through the gardens. We arrived back at the ship in the late afternoon, with enough time to walk into town to do some souvenir shopping, etc. There is a large handicraft market right beside where the ship docks, and a large shopping centre across the road. I spoke with a few people who did whale watching tours in PV, and they all raved about how wonderful it was. Next time in PV, that will be at the top of my "to do" list. Los Angeles (Long Beach), California "Getty Museum" As Los Angeles was the first US port of call since Ft. Lauderdale, all passengers and crew had to pass through customs and immigration that morning. For US citizens, the line-ups were negligible. For the rest of us, we stood for 2 hours in the cold wind (very foggy and damp that morning) and finally cleared customs at 11:45 am. This left very little time for touring. Long Beach is very accessible and there is a free shuttle bus for use throughout the day. I opted for an excursion by bus to the Getty Museum. The bus ride took about 1 hour and we had about 2.5 hours to tour the museum. The Getty collection is amazing and really you need a full day to appreciate everything there was to see. In the afternoon the air cleared a bit and so we were able to see a bit of the city. The drive back to the ship took 2 hours through horrific rush hour traffic. The last (Carnival) tour bus didn't arrive back at the ship until 20 minutes after sailing time. Fortunately, the captain was in no hurry to leave, so everyone made it back safely on board. We had 11 "sea days", which was quite different from most cruises. I found the sea days to be very relaxing. The weather was hot and sunny, so I was able to be out on deck quite a bit walking or just sitting and reading a book, etc. There were lots of activities planned throughout the day, so there was never any chance to become bored. Some favorite activities were the arts & crafts classes in the early morning, bridge instruction and games, ballroom dancing classes, and the trivia contests held throughout the day. There was a naturalist on board (Dirk) who gave talks on sea days. He was very interesting and his talks on whales were the best. San Francisco, California I decided to book a transfer to the airport through Carnival once I was on board the ship. I figured it would be less stressful and less expensive than trying to get a taxi by myself, etc. after disembarking. I boarded the bus at 9:30 am. and the trip to the airport took about 30 minutes (we had to wait until the bus was full). The International Airport was very busy (Saturday of Spring Break). However, it only took 25 minutes to check in, drop off my luggage and get through security. DISEMBARKATION: Disembarkation was very smooth. Because my flight was not until 12:30 pm I was in Zone 4. We were called to leave the ship around 9:30 am. The first people off the ship (self-assist) left around 7:45 am. Once off the ship, we had to pick-up our luggage which was set out by zone number and then walk a short distance to the bus to the airport. It was so hard to say good-bye to the ship...I certainly wasn't prepared to leave. FINAL COMMENT: As stated at the beginning, I had a wonderful cruise vacation. The 18 days I was on board certainly lived up to all my expectations. Carnival is known for their 7-day "fun ship" cruises and so this whole experience of a long cruise to mostly new ports was probably a bit difficult for them. I think the crew and staff did an excellent job during some very trying situations. With the down-turn in the economy, I can't see Carnival doing another long repositioning cruise like this one, but you never know. I will certainly cruise Carnival again (long or short cruise, I don't care). Read Less
Sail Date March 2009

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