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Sail Date: April 2006
15 day Panama Canal cruise Getting to Miami: We flew down a day ahead of departure. We booked the cruise early and then booked rooms and airline tickets early. Celebrity then changed the port of embarkation from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami. ... Read More
15 day Panama Canal cruise Getting to Miami: We flew down a day ahead of departure. We booked the cruise early and then booked rooms and airline tickets early. Celebrity then changed the port of embarkation from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami. It is about 30 miles and not a long distance. Celebrity did not offer to cover the extra cost for the transfer which cost us about $60. Embarkation: It was smooth and quick. Since the ship had been in dry dock for two weeks prior, there were no passengers getting off nor some of the other issues related to clearing immigration, etc. We got on the ship at 11:00 am. Dining: We had main seating and were at the back of the ship at table 420. Our tablemates were great as we try to always get a round table for 8. We enjoy meeting new people and having the pleasure of dining with them for the trip. The food was respectable, but not as memorable as we had had on the Constellation just 5 months prior. Lobster night was excellent. Being on a 15 day (2 week cruise, we had hoped for two lobster nights, but only one was forthcoming). Service was acceptable, but it was difficult to understand our waiter at times due to noise in general in the dining room and at times the noise from the ship. The Seaside Cafe was very good. Being in CC class, we had excellent room service, thus ate on our balcony most mornings. The room service food was always hot and on time. We did go to the cafe for waffles twice. For lunch we ate in the cafe every day we were on ship except one. I personally became addicted to the pasta bar with garlic and onions sautEed and added to the sauces. I would ask the servers to drain my pasta more as it seemed they hurried that process. I finally requested that they skip that step (heating the pasta a little more) it didnt change my enjoyment and the pasta was much less watery. We enjoyed the sushi bar a few evenings. This is located at the back of the seaside cafe from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. We did not try the alternative dining as we had tried it on the Constellation and did not want to spend the extra money. In retrospect with the food in main dining being okay I wish we had tried it one evening. Entertainment: We were a little disappointed in the entertainment. Most likely it was more our age vs. the actual entertainment. We are in our early 50s and felt that most of the performances were targeted to an older age demographic. We were some of the youngest people on the ship. The ventriloquist though was excellent as we had seen him on the Constellation in Dec 05. The bright spot for us was Tony playing guitar at the aft bar in the evening. Services/Activities on board: Internet cafe is very expensive and was down a couple of days. We had 7 sea days, so we signed up the package minutes and from an accounting stand point, it worked very well. I do think the pricing is extremely high and would suggest as we did at a couple of ports of call, find an internet cafe where instead of paying $45.00/hour at 75 cents per minute, you can find places for $5.00/hour. The crew was great! The crew was great! Never had a problem and in fact joked with a couple of the crew (activity staff) that they seemed to be having as much or more fun than we were. The theme parties we excellent and the crew participated and added a lot to the enjoyment. We attended a couple of other activities during the 2 weeks, but for the most part tried to have no schedule. My motto was eat, sleep, drink. Ports of Call: With the Panama Canal, it was a cruise to remember just because of that. It took the whole day to sail from the Caribbean to the Pacific. Other ports were Aruba, which to me is overrated. Most of our ports were on the Pacific. Our best was Acapulco. Coming into the port is neat as the views are wonderful, then we did the Cliff Divers tour and had some of the best seats for viewing in the restaurant next to the cliff. This was a ship sponsored tour. We did a zip line tour in Costa Rica with an individual named Charlie Soto. He met us at the pier, personally was with us the whole day and then when one of our excursion members needed some medicine (unrelated to the excursion) he help her find a pharmacy and went into the store to again help. This was on a Sunday in Puntarenas. In Cabo San Lucas we ate at a ship recommended restaurant called the Shrimp Factory or Store. It was the best shrimp I have ever had in a restaurant. The plate is big, the shrimp are big too. Get the whole plate. I got only a ½ plate and craved more. They cooked the shrimp in saltwater and it required no sauce as needed if cooked only in plain water. At end of cruise, we had two days in San Francisco. Blue skies and warm weather! Ate crab twice, once in Monterey and second time at Fishermans wharf and rode the trolley cars. We also helped SF celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake. Disembarkation: We had a smooth and quick disembarkation. The biggest issue was immigration where the whole list of passengers ended up in line at the same time to go through immigration. The line went from the theatre (which is forward) aft on the starboard side all the way back to the dining rooms and then across the ship to the port side to begin heading back to the theatre where we started our trek to the dining room and then back to the theatre. The theatre was where immigration clearance took place. Once the line started to move it went pretty quick. It turned out it was a good time to see everyone again and say good bye as you tried to find the end of the line. Conclusion: The Panama Canal trip was well worth it. It was worth it for a number of reasons: 1) We met a lot of Cruise Critic members that we had be on threads together for months 2) we had an exotic itinerary 3) We had 15 days! 4) we had a great crew/staff 5) we had great tablemates 6) we had great weather  on our trip (18 days with not one day of rain or rough seas). I would recommend the Panama Canal cruise to anyone and would recommend Celebrity as the cruise line to sail. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
We have just returned from our cruise and are surprised that there are no other reviews here as everyone that I talked to was unhappy. We did enjoy the cruise but felt like it lacked a lot of the amenities that are on other cruise lines. ... Read More
We have just returned from our cruise and are surprised that there are no other reviews here as everyone that I talked to was unhappy. We did enjoy the cruise but felt like it lacked a lot of the amenities that are on other cruise lines. We have cruised RC and Carnival before. Did not like Carnival but did like RC. Embarkation went fairly well except that we had 2 wheelchairs and had to wait a long time for someone to push them. Also other wheelchair passengers had problems and even let one get on board ship before they realized that she needed to register so had to go and get her back. We had a veranda stateroom and it was adequate. There were 3 of us and so when all three beds were made down, there was not a lot of room left to walk. But again, it was adequate. The room stewards were good except that on one occasion they came to clean the room and one of our party had not gone ashore so she decided to wait on the veranda while they cleaned. The steward LOCKED the veranda door!! We had Room Service every morning with coffee and juice and it was prompt (the only thing on the ship that was) and friendly. I quickly became not a fan of Free Style Dining as long lines were the norm with waiting as long as 30 minutes to be seated. The other problem was that with a different waiter every night, some were great but quite a few were only passable. Finally figured out that if they took a long time to serve you, they wouldn't get another table. Therefore, it was not unusual to spend 2 hours in the dining room. Of course there were alternatives but the buffet was in the bar with limited seating, we did not care for Italian Food and the other alternative had a cover charge and had the same menu every night! We finally found a waiter that we liked and could request him but had to be there early to get one of his tables as he was requested often. You could sure tell the good ones as there was a waiting list for them. At the end found out that there was not much incentive for them to do well as the gratuity dollars were divided at 80% for the cabin service and 20% for the Wait staff. We were able to change that but how many did? No wonder they really didn't care if you were happy or not. The food was okay but nothing spectacular. No Midnight buffets. The only thing close was a Chocoholic buffet that was held at 10 p.m. and had to stand in line an hour to go through it. No photo opportunities either. The entertainment was probably pretty good but only went to one show. The theater was not large enough and you had to get there at least a couple of hours early in order to get a seat. Many seats were couches and too low for a normal size person to see. After one experience, we decided that was not for us. The only room with game tables was too small and taken up many times for an Art Auction which required that everyone quit playing any game and rearrange the chairs for the auction. Did not feel like there were enough activities planned during the days at sea or the evenings. Unless you drank or gambled, you were out of luck. Several of the programs sounded interesting, but since they were held on the Observation Deck accessible only by stairs, we were out of luck as we were not able to go up and down the stairs. We took advantage of the ship tours in all ports. They were great but had a hard time starting on time. In Aruba, the tour that was to last 4 hours, got such a late start that we were scheduled to leave at 9 and by the time we left, it was almost time for the ship to sail at 5 before we returned. This was not just a one time happening as at every port there was some reason that things did not go off on time, buses weren't there, late docking, etc. We were always encouraged to BUY water bottles, even though on all tours that we went on, there was adequate water and other drinks available. Did appreciate the fact that at the San Blas Islands, they did allow some of the natives to come to the ship to sell their wares. The tour people were always very helpful and assisted us whenever possible. Disembarkation. To quote a lady from England, "The only thing that they (the ship) can organize is chaos!" Free-Style Cruising disembarkation is not what it was advertised to be. We were 2 hours late docking in Los Angeles. They had notified us that customs for foreign travelers would begin at 5:30 a.m. This did not actually occur until 7:30. The information that we had been given said that all passengers would be off the ship by 11 a.m. We were finally on the bus to LAX at 12:30 p.m. So much for reading that you could enjoy a leisurely lunch before disembarking. Our plane was not until 3:30 p.m. so we were lucky. Several had planes leaving earlier and were very upset. We enjoyed the cruise, where it went, but do not think that we will be anxious to cruise with NCL again soon. Several told us that they had cruised with NCL on other ships and liked it so maybe it was just this ship, but I am very reluctant to try again soon. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
We sailed for 10 days on the brilliance of the seas. It was our first cruise on a vision or radiance class ship. Although she is a beautiful vessel, we are spoiled by the size of the voyager class ships and all that they offer. The ... Read More
We sailed for 10 days on the brilliance of the seas. It was our first cruise on a vision or radiance class ship. Although she is a beautiful vessel, we are spoiled by the size of the voyager class ships and all that they offer. The handicapped cabin balcony on deck 7 had an obstructed view due to the lifeboats being underneath us. It was difficult to see the transit of the panama canal and we had to go either up a few decks or down to the helipad to watch it. The cabin, itself was nice, because it is twice the size of a regular cabin in the e-2 category. The meet and mingle the next day was great because there were so many of our cruise critic friends there. They served lovely canapes and soft drinks and gave out nice prizes. Our waiter and assistant waiter, although friendly, did not provide the type of service we are used to from rci. We were served last and in most cases our waiter was "in the weeds". He also made me feel badly if i didn't like something he served, which was quite often. The food was just not the best we've had on a cruise. It was often bland and not all that appetizing. It did have it's moments, but not often enough to be memorable. Our cabin steward was basically non-existent. He took hours to bring ice and we just never saw much of him, unlike our friends that had a great steward and great service. When our steward did appear, he did not speak english very well and we had difficulty communicating. His personal hygiene left a lot to be desired as well. When it was time to head out to the pool, we had a lot of trouble getting a lounge chair. unless you were able to get up around 8am and stay in the chair, you had to wander around for quite a while to find a chair. They were jammed together so closely that to get in the chair you had to climb onto it. We had to get up earlier than usual just to be able to get a chair in the sun. We also watched a man in the solarium pool, which was beautiful by the way, make an elderly woman get up because she was sitting in his "saved" chair. Amazing, but true. The shows were great. They had a broadway production that was just fantastic. the singers and the dancers were very professional and we were very surprised. We were told the first show wasn't as good, but we were delighted with the one we saw. The rest of the crew aboard the ship was lovely. They were attentive and very professional as well as very courteous. Try to meet rusty in the champagne bar...he is GREAT!!!!! Our panama canal tour was delayed because of another ship that arrived late and the train left with them instead of waiting for us. We were refunded immediately for our trouble, but we didn't get to take the ocean to ocean train tour that we'd been looking forward to for so long. It was disappointing for all of us to miss that. In grand cayman, the ship anchored out and we had to tender over to the island. There weren't the long lines we imagined. In fact it went rather smoothly and was fun. None of the ports were terribly difficult to get off the ship or back on the ship. The exception would be puerto cristobal in panama. The line on deck 4 was very long to get off the ship as was the line to get back onboard the ship. We hit very rough seas leaving costa rica. On the voyager class we never felt a bump, but on this ship we rocked and rolled all night. Many people were sick that night and didn't make it to dinner. We did wake to much calmer seas the next morning. All in all we had a nice cruise, but we will probably stick to the voyager class ships for comfort and the amenities available. The best part of our cruise was meeting our cruise critic friends! We will never cruise without hitting the cruise critic boards again. It was such a fabulous thing to board a ship and already have friends on board with you! It was truly the highlight of the cruise. So, if you enjoy a more intimate ship, the brilliance is for you. Smaller ship and less going on than when we were on the explorer. If you can deal with the service not being as great as it could be then the brilliance would be for you. We are spoiled having been on the explorer first. again, all in all it was a relaxing voyage. that's why we travel, after all, isn't it? Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
I have waited a week to post this because I wanted to be sure I am fair. The good news... beautifully decorated ship very nice seating for Windjammer Buffet Cabin deck 8 ...typical-comfortable Entertainment ...top notch Dining Room and ... Read More
I have waited a week to post this because I wanted to be sure I am fair. The good news... beautifully decorated ship very nice seating for Windjammer Buffet Cabin deck 8 ...typical-comfortable Entertainment ...top notch Dining Room and Cabin Staff excellent the food was very good, not special, but I did not eat in specialty (+$$) dining rooms. I'm from the old school where dining room meals on a cruise should be special in which case there's no need for an additional fee restaurant except to make money for the cruise line. Not so good news... Ships common rooms ( lounges for dancing, pool area. spa) way too small. It appears ship is narrower, taller, and has lost significant open space to add cabins.Main centrum lounge has pursers desk, and tour desk included, and if you've ever cruised before you know the traffic that goes on before dinner at all three and now imagine them in one area, much smaller than the lounge alone on other ships. Indoor pool/spa area was always air conditioned and cold, too cold to get in cold pool (Aren't indoor spa pools usually heated???)and whats with the wooden chairs with no cushions in here??? And while I am the pool... how about having to keep track of your towel? Requiring guests to bring towels from cabin, and sign in and out for clean ones is ridiculous and chintzy for sure! No where near as much staff as on every other ship I have been on. On other ships, during rush hours in buffet, the mgrs were front and center, attentive and helpful to the staff and passengers. Not so here. There were not even enough staff to get tables cleaned in a timely manner, let alone help an elderly person take their food to a table. And on several occasions, I found Managers leaning on soda station counter watching or chatting with a young waitress on the back deck. Poor, poor, management up there!And while I am at it... what happened to the sharp, crisp,clean uniforms of the ships management? No wonder the windjammer staff looked sloppy and disheveled, the windjammer managers set a poor example. The Windjammer cafe outdoor areas... everyday when afternoon tea ended, there was no one to clean up until dinner was about to start, leaving all late lunch and tea dishes etc. sitting around for at least an hour or two. I watched as other crew staff passed by and did nothing to correct the situation. The ship looks tired and shamefully worn in many areas... and it's still new!!! In addition, ladies room after second sitting dinner, a mess... paper towels everywhere, and since you have to walk across the room with wet hands to get a towel, the floors were dangerously wet and slippery. I hate to be so tough on RC because I have had exceptional service and squeaky clean ships on several other cruises with them. I guess that's why I found this trip so very disappointing. And since I cruised 3 prior times in the last 18 months, I think its fair to say that RC is trying to make up cash discounts by way of drinks and other added extras. I found drinks over priced, including "daily special" One day we ordered 1 pina colada w./ 1 extra shot of rum on the side...just under $12.00!!! Tours very overpriced, pastries for purchase at the coffee house? Give me a break. I am happy to pay for alcohol spiked coffee, but don't charge me cake that is free at tea and dinner!And 50 a minute for internet adds up quickly when the network is slow, stalls and craps out at least once before you get to your email provider. I will leave it to others to share the fiasco at Panama, where those returning from tours waited 3 hours on dock for the ship to return, and then had to wait while everyone else got off ...for what was to be only an hour and half at the pier and then reboard. Having said all of that... I definitely would not recommend this ship even if the service on this trip was a mistep.Its too crowded,much more crowded than even older smaller ships I have been on. And outside of the decor and centrum ...not brilliant at all. I have sailed on 14 cruises in the last 10 years and never encountered anything like this.Try grandeur or Sovereign or better yet Celebrity for the cruise experience you read about in the brochures! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
We chose the one-night prior pre-cruise package through RCI. Our flight from Albuquerque to Miami included a plane change in Atlanta. Once we arrived, we had to haul our luggage to the curb and try and find the shuttle company the cruise ... Read More
We chose the one-night prior pre-cruise package through RCI. Our flight from Albuquerque to Miami included a plane change in Atlanta. Once we arrived, we had to haul our luggage to the curb and try and find the shuttle company the cruise line uses. Two hours later, we arrived at the Wyndham in Coconut Grove (the shuttle made several stops dropping off people at their residences). The hotel room itself was pretty run down and people there were not very friendly. The following day, people from three RCI ships (one having to be bussed to Ft. Lauderdale for their embarkation) were all gathered in a fairly small lobby area. Luggage everywhere...only two porters at the hotel to handle the mess. It may have been a premonition of things to come. The Embarkation process was exceptionally smooth. After identifying our luggage as it was moved off the bus storage compartment, a surly porter demanded $2 per bag as a tip. Everyone appeared perplexed but forked over the money. We then walked about a city block to the passenger terminal and were able to walk directly to a counter where we presented our passports and credit card to set up the onboard account. We were handed Sea Pass cards and these were used at the gangway entrance to the ship. Our photo was taken and we were welcomed on board. We found it odd that no one assisted us to our room: we were on our own. Once at the cabin on deck 8, we sought out a couple from England whom we had taken the cruise to meet. They had planned the Panama Canal cruise and we had wanted to share in the experience with them (it had been a dozen years since last we saw each other). Although we had given our reservation and those of our UK friends to RCI to ensure we were seated at the same table for dining, the Sea Pass cards showed different tables. So, we went to the dining room and sat for more than an hour while no less than 50 people waited to coax the dining room manager to change their dining reservations. We were placed at a table for 12 and when we inquired if we would get good service at such a large table, the manager stated emphatically "he's got only the one table." We found out later than the waiter and his assistant actually had a total of 28 diners to wait on. The food quality on the Legend of the Seas was noticeably poor through our 14-day sailing. The Windjammer cafe on deck 9 provided the same breakfast fare each day without any variation. There was no afternoon tea. Instead, there was a "snack" hour where one would get watered down ice milk, cookies, and cherry cobbler...cherry cobbler every day but two days when peach cobbler was served. Bread pudding was also served and nothing resembled the nice afternoon teas one gets accustomed to on other ships. Considering that there were 252 people from the United Kingdom on the cruise, they could have done much better. Additionally, they served a buffet which only those who cared not to dress up in more than swim trunks for dinner two hours later (for main seating) would find interest in. At these times, crew look haggard and sleep deprived. The dining room menus for lunch and dinner were odd compilations of food where nothing paired. The waiter's recommendations attempted to convince that certain offerings were disasters (obviously from the main seating since we were second seating). The soups were the only things on the menu that all of our tablemates agreed were good, above average fare. Beef meals (especially steaks) were never cooked to anyone's satisfaction and, by mid-way through the cruise, many surrounding tables were missing diners. We found out later than many chose to eat in port and avoid the disappointment of food quality all of us were subjected to on the ship. More than one veteran cruiser mentioned that they had better food in their high school cafeterias or on Carnival ships! The idea of cruise travel being based upon food offerings is not our idea of cruise travel. We either find the ship the highlight (layout, activities, personnel, etc.), or the ports. Sometimes we find both enjoyable to the max. The Legend, however, fell short in several areas. The tender use in Cabo San Lucas was so totally mismanaged that we stood in a crowd (rather than a respectable line) on the stairway leading to the tender for more than 45 minutes. Some people walked to the lower deck and some used the elevator. These people clashed with one another when it appeared that it looked like people were cutting in front of others. Realistically, the process was horrible...just issuing tickets with numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.) do not mean much. The entertainment on board the Legend of the Seas indicated to us that RCI does not spend very much in this area. While the cruise director, John Blair, may have touted that "there is more entertainment on the Legend than most any other ship on any other ocean," the quality was substandard. A weathered tenor, Renato Pagnilli, who has apparently been with RCI for a number of years, did all he could to muster attention. One evening, he even broke out in song over loud speakers in the dining room—just as our entrEe was being delivered. What noise to accompany dinner! We opted to miss more than half of the shows since they were pretty dull stuff. We believe we can get the same entertainment watching re-runs of the Ed Sullivan Show on cable television! And each entertainer had his/her own CDs to sell. In fact, Renato was hawking his CDs on the pool deck and discounting cash sales! If you book on this ship (or any of the others in this class) stay away from deck 8. It is located just below the pool deck. You hear everything from above! Same goes for the cabins all around you on either side. When someone sneezes you want to respond, "God bless you." The ship appeared to be made out of cardboard. Speaking of the ship itself, there was much vibration felt throughout the cruise. Could this be a sign that they have the same problem with their propellers as other ships in this class? Another disappointment was the lack of an alternative dining experience. There is just the one formal restaurant (Romeo and Juliet) on deck 4. And don't expect the Baked Alaska parade. The Legend of the Seas had a horrific experience less than two years ago. A table caught fire and diners were injured with critical burns. There is no tableside preparation of anything flaming (we were told this is fleet wide but could not verify it). So, cherries jubilee were not prepared with gusto. Two stations near the entrances to the dining room were where this type of offering was handled. The head waiter must be taking a hit as we did not find any reason why a gratuity should be rendered to him. We had no idea other than his walking around and smiling (especially the 2-3 days from the end of the cruise) to include him in our gratuity offerings. My wife had a birthday during the cruise and the head waiter approached me the evening of the birthday as plates were cleared and dessert menus were handed out. "Do you want a cake for your wife's birthday? We'll charge the $7.95 for the cake to your shipboard account." I was flabbergasted but nodded in agreement. Several waiters arrived as the exceptionally small cake arrived with three candles and sang "Happy Barfday." Yes, I felt sick enough to 'barf' by this experience! Talking about prices: the Legend's prices for drinks are as high as any five-star restaurant. And though we told our cabin steward that we had no need of two large bottled waters in our small inside cabin (along with a six-pack of soft drinks), he did not take the hint and find someplace for them. We had to see them each and every day of our cruise! The photographs at the formal night required purchase of a "set." This included the photo of the two of us and one called a "postcard" that we just did not want (showing the ship in a collage). The price was just $19.95. And the formal night was a photo at table—not one of those 'formal portraits' with a background. The regular prints were $9.95 for all the usual things these shipboard photographers try to do to sell prints. In the end, the vast majority of them were not purchased and those at our table mentioned that they thought the quality of the photographs did not justify any purchase at all. The disembarkation process in San Diego was yet another opportunity to see what happens when one expects a smooth transition from ship to airport and it does not work out that way. We noticed that no RCI employee checked the order of those leaving the ship. We were in the second group of about 12 or so and it was dependent upon the departure of the flights, etc. Yet, people got off at will and all sorts of color-coded tags indicated that it was a mass exodus. We could hardly blame them since the disembarkation was 75 minutes behind schedule. We arrived at our gate exactly one hour prior to the departure time and had a difficult time getting our boarding passes since the flight was oversold. While we could have understood that the ship had not been cleared in a timely fashion, it was waiting for people with our color-coded tags to follow those who ignored the 'order' of disembarkation. We sat on the bus waiting for it to fill for more than 45 minutes before leaving for the nearby airport. Those ports we visited included Aruba, the transit from east to west through the Panama Canal (during a daylight transit), Panama City, Costa Rica, Huatalco, Mexico, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The shore excursions we took were interesting and mostly worth the money. We have come to expect that the cruise lines can hardly be responsible for the quality of the tours but that they try and get operators to perform more professionally and give passengers a value for their services. The praise on this cruise goes to our waiter, Christopher Pino (from India). He performed his duties so professionally and always had a sincere smile to go along with his Herculean responsibilities to serve 28 diners. He was observed helping his assistant, Agnello, who was shy to the point of distraction but always pleasant. Chris has been with RCI for seven years and Agnello is on his third six-month contract with RCI. Additionally, the purser staff was efficient and helpful. Our mattress was as lumpy and uncomfortable as lying on sandbags and when we both had backaches each morning, my wife finally asked for some consideration. That afternoon we returned to our cabin to find a new mattress replacement. Voila! Does our future cruising include Royal Caribbean International? After having experienced another RCI product, Celebrity Cruises, and one of the new mega-ships, Infinity, we do not see the RCI fleet in our future cruise travels. For us, the difference is clear: Celebrity has a superior product. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
Leaving England on 28th Feb we were delayed for 3hrs due to our local airport being closed due to heavy snow, however we were re-scheduled onto a later flight and arrived Miami at 1800 finding glorious sunshine. However we were then ... Read More
Leaving England on 28th Feb we were delayed for 3hrs due to our local airport being closed due to heavy snow, however we were re-scheduled onto a later flight and arrived Miami at 1800 finding glorious sunshine. However we were then delayed for 1hr due to no RCCL representatives being there to meet us or provide transport, we arrived at our hotel, the Miami Hyatt at 2000hrs. The hotel was fine no problems and we used the metro mover to go to bayside for the rest of the evening. On 29th we left the hotel by Taxi to the ship at 1130am and were quickly through the embarkation process and on board by 12 noon. We arrived at our cabin and found it to be a twin when we booked a double, our cabin steward (when he came on duty at 5pm) remade it into a double, however this room type is Not suitable (in our opinion) as a double, due to restricted access around the bed, we were after 3 days moved to cabin 7043 which is much better suited for double bed occupancy. When we sailed from Miami at 1700 hrs the weather was super sunshine and wonderfully hot, the next day we awoke to fine weather with high winds and seas of 14-18 ft, however the ship coped with this no problem and my wife who had been seasick on our 2 previous cruise had no ill effects at all. The ship was clean, bright and imposing and did not show any real signs of wear and tear, overall a very pleasant and beautiful ship with lots of glass and artwork. The dining room was from what we saw quite good, however as we were seated at table 002, right next to the entrance and nearly in the Centrium we didn't feel part of the dining experience, it was also cold and draughty. We did request a move, but as the ship was full only second sitting was available so we stayed put. The food was the poorest of any RCCL ship we have been on, if this is a result of cutbacks then I am sure that guests will soon object and start to look at other cruise lines. The service in the dining room was not good, 30-40 mins before we were served our 1st course and a meal time of 2hrs 5mins was normal and this was 1st sitting. The windjammer was fine and served very good meals although breakfast and lunch were predictable, the staff in here were very helpful. The entertainment was good and other service staff on ship were very helpful. The cruise director John and his wife were very good, however the cruise staff were noticeable by their absence, once an event was underway they vanished, leaving guests to party themselves, the hoe down became a letdown. The ports of call were great especially the transit of the Panama Canal, our favourite port was Cabo San Lucas. Upon arrival at San Diego we were up at 0530am, US immigration at 0615am, breakfast at 0700 and waiting to get off the ship at 0815, disembarked at 0900 and were dumped at San Diego commuter terminal by 0930 with a 6hr airport wait, with no proper food available, except muffins and potato chips not what I expected of RCCL and not what you need before a 10hr flt with airline food. In the past RCCL have always provided a day room so that guests can relax and prepare for their flt home. Overall a great cruise spoilt by RCCL cutbacks in food and service in the Dining Room and lack of end of cruise facilities. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
Just completed 8-night Xmas-New Year's cruise on Spirit. Very unusual ports: Belize, Costa Rica & Panama Canal. Nice cabin at stern of ship with large balcony. Very rough seas caused many show cancellations and seasick bags strewn ... Read More
Just completed 8-night Xmas-New Year's cruise on Spirit. Very unusual ports: Belize, Costa Rica & Panama Canal. Nice cabin at stern of ship with large balcony. Very rough seas caused many show cancellations and seasick bags strewn throughout elevators and public areas. This was our 19th cruise (8th w/Carnival). Our 7-yr-old had excellent program, however our 12-yr-old was quite bored in the 12-15yr group with no activities or participation of fellow guests (there were 700 kids on this sailing!) Terrible dining room food & service prompted us to book the specialty restaurant for several nights ($25 pp charge + tip). Tours are overpriced and huge ripoff. You could depart ship in Costa Rica and Panama, walk 20 feet and book the same exact tours with all the same local companies for a FRACTION of what Carnival charged per person! (We saw our fellow guests at all the same places and had our own private transportation- We paid $10 per person for what CCL charged $75 pp) The other overpriced feature was the ship's Spa & Salon. They just revised their "menu" and doubled many of the prices. It was poorly run and ridiculously priced. When passengers complained, the manager gave them free massages or treatments. Forget laying by any of the 5 pools...if you were not up at the crack of dawn to reserve a chair, it was impossible to find one after 9am. We won't be sailing Carnival again for awhile. No comparison to Celebrity or RCL. Evenings offered nothing for adults to do between 7:30p-midnight, except casino. Many passengers complained, and entertainment was terrible, compared to other sailings. A late port return into MIA forced most passengers to miss their flights, many stuck for 2-3 days due to heavy holiday flying. Our friends had items stolen from cabin, as well as returning to their room one night and finding their room steward, busboy and a waiter enjoying their private balcony and making cellphone calls from it, while in port! Unless you are hell-bent on getting to those ports, try them on Princess or RCL instead. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
First off, this was our third cruise with Royal Caribbean and definitely the last. I know that many reading this will think it very negative, but we are just hoping to alert others suffering thru this cruise/air nightmare. From the moment ... Read More
First off, this was our third cruise with Royal Caribbean and definitely the last. I know that many reading this will think it very negative, but we are just hoping to alert others suffering thru this cruise/air nightmare. From the moment we booked our 10-day Panama Canal cruise with AAA things went downhill. I am familiar with booking airfare for other vacations, but was told by AAA that if I booked it, cruise insurance would not cover if our flight was delayed for some reason. So we bought the Air/Sea program. RCCL does not give you a choice on flight times. Our return flight was scheduled for eight hours after disembarkation. I called AAA to change the return flight time, and was charged $130 as a reissue fee. I will discuss this after the rest of the cruise review. The Geriatric Cruise: The average age on this cruise had to be 75 years old. It was crowded with wheelchairs and walkers. Unbeknownst to us, we were informed by many staff on the cruise that RCCL had promoted this cruise to several retirement communities in southern Florida. Not what a couple in early 50's was prepared for on a cruise. Because of age of passengers, it was difficult to get on an elevator that was not overloaded by at least 5 people. Extremely unsafe and scary. Definitely not a lively, fun party atmosphere. The ports of call were terrible. They had to be the very least expensive that RCCL could obtain. We were excited to go to Costa Rica to see the volcanos and waterfalls that I had read about on-line. When I called the tour guide from the on-line site, they asked where we would be docking. I said Puerto Limon. They said that there was nothing near that port to do and it was so remote that we didn't have enough time to travel to anything nice. We were also told by staff that we should just stay on board. In the end Costa Rica was the second of four ports that we had missed due to weather. An entertainer onboard told the audience at the show that night that we didn't miss anything by not visiting Puerto Limon. Panama Canal: Interesting, but not much fun. We were not permitted to leave the ship unless we had a tour ticket. We found out the reason was that rebels could attack us and rob us or hold us for ransom. So the tour had armed guards with UZI's to protect the tourists. RCCL's ad stating Just Get Out There that play on the televisions in your room all day long seem pretty trivial when your life is in danger. This is not the kind of ports a cruise ship should have. We were vacationers - not missionaries ready to risk our lives. Aruba: Fairly nice island. We were looking forward to having some fun at their casinos. But they were very crowded and seedy compared to American casinos. The water was beautiful at Aruba. Also, I had found a 3-hour catamaran cruise on-line for $30 each that we wanted to take. When we disembarked at Aruba, we were told that RCCL takes over those catamaran's for the day and only offers the 5 hour cruise for $65 per person. Grand Cayman: Nice island. This was to be our first port of call, but we missed it due to bad weather. After missing Costa Rica, due to more bad weather, the captain headed us back to Grand Cayman. A passenger told us that of 5 trips which were to include Grand Cayman, he finally was able to see it. Grand Cayman is a tender-only port and evidently is affected by rough seas quite often. Food: At best good, many times like cafeteria quality. Cruise Director: A nice girl, but nothing on this cruise was planned. There was a Welcome Back cocktail party for repeat guests that was scheduled one hour prior to dinner. Passengers were rude, jumping in front of others in line for a free drink at the bar. The cruise staff should have had this under control. Many guests were permitted to cut in line and be given their second or third cocktails. We waited 40 minutes to get one complimentary drink. They also had a buffet of appetizers which was impossible to get near and also was too close to dinner time to enjoy if we could. There was no music or entertainment. This should have been better planned. This was ten days of the worst vacation we have been on. And believe me, when you are using ten precious days of vacation from work - not 10 days of your retirement - it can be pretty upsetting to get up in the morning and think 'This is only Day 3 of 10' and 'This is Day 4, etc.' We couldn't wait for this trip to be over. Return Air/Sea flight. RCCL booked us on Delta going down and US Air coming back. The Delta flight was wonderful - no problems. Any of you who have cruised know that the day you leave the ship it is early morning - usually 8:00 a.m. RCCL had our return flight scheduled on US-Air leaving at 5:00 p.m. Now we did not want to sit at the Miami Airport for 9 hours for a flight back to Ohio. I mentioned having to pay extra $130 to change boarding time from 5:00 pm to 12:40 p.m. with a connection in Pittsburgh at 4:30 p.m. We got to airport by 9:00 a.m.; and by 11:00 a.m. we found out our flight was going to be delayed until 2:00 p.m. This flight would reach Pittsburgh at 4:35 p.m. The thing is we understand delays, but US-Air let us miss the connecting flight by five (5) minutes! They didn't even call ahead to hold the flight. We had five passengers on our flight that missed the connection. What really made us mad was that it was only a 30-passenger plane that they wouldn't hold take-off for 5 minutes. We ended up that the next flight wasn't until 8:30 p.m. So we had another 4 hours to wait. The 8:30 flight finally took off at 10:45 p.m. We will never fly US-Air again. Never cruise Royal Caribbean and never use AAA for a trip. We are frequent travellers and needed to share this experience so that others may avoid it. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
Embarkation: While lines were long, they moved swiftly. When we mentioned that our luggage had been lost by our airline, our processor asked for the lost baggage claim, copied it and said Carnival would take over expediting getting our ... Read More
Embarkation: While lines were long, they moved swiftly. When we mentioned that our luggage had been lost by our airline, our processor asked for the lost baggage claim, copied it and said Carnival would take over expediting getting our lost luggage to our first port. He said they would work with the airline for us. From that time on the purser's office handled it. They could not have treated us better. When we told them the next day that our suits/dresses were in the missing luggage, they gave us vouchers to rent tuxes (yes, they even had a woman's tux) for free. They called our cabin to report progress (or lack of it) by the airline in finding our luggage. On at least three occassions we returned to our cabin at the end of the day only to find a typed and signed letter from the purser explaining the luggage had not been found and how much they regretted it. We both felt that Carnival did a first class job and went out of their way to ensure we had the greatest vacation ever. Keep in mind that Carnival had nothing to do with the airline booking/lost bags. I booked the air travel seperately from the cruise. They just wanted to do all they could to help us enjoy ourselves and forget our problem. And they did. We really appreciate everything they did for us. Cabin: We had booked a guaranteed cabin w/balconey and obstructed view(7A category) but were most pleased to be upgraded to a non-obstructed view cabin (8A category?) on the same deck (upper deck). Cabin was same size etc as originally booked. Our cabin was slightly larger than anticipated. It was clean and well kept during our entire cruise. The bed was comfortable and the bath was larger than anticipated. The balconey was quite small but very nice and we both thought it was well worth the extra price. Dining: Our table in the Empire Dining room was at the very back of the ship against a large porthole window. The food was very good to excellent. The service was excellent and our waiters were most entertaining at times. Being a vegetarian, my wife was well accomodated. The buffet style food on the Lido deck was...buffet style. While some of it was very tasteful, everything was just mildly warm. The omelets were the exception. So was the sushi. Entertainment: Most all of the evening shows (We attended all of them) were very good to excellent. The exception was the comedy routines. They were fair to not so fair. Spa/Gym: While we did not use the gym much, it was most impressive. We did use the steam rooms and both enjoyed them My wife had a body condition analyses and massage which she enjoyed but complained that they were pushing vitamins to aggressively (trying to sell them to you that is). Ports: We hired a driver for the day in Panama (there were six of us, it cost $225) He drove us to the locks, through a national park, to Panama City. He picked a restaurant for lunch and ate with us. He then took us to old town Panama City and showed us around. On our return he took us to a private animal sanctuary in someone's backyard where we saw anteaters, monkeys, birds, ocelots, etc. We all had a great day and did not want to get back on the ship. We decided we would love to return to Panama for a longer stay. The people were very, very friendly. In Belize my wife went cave tubing with a small group in a hired vehicle while I went to the Altun Ha Myan ruins. We both had a great time and would like to Belize for a long stay. Then our third port of call was supposed to be Costa Rica. Unfortunately due to weather problems we were re-routed to Cozumel. While we found a nice place for coffee in the morning and had a very good lunch (pricey though!) we did not enjoy Cozumel. The locals were very aggressive and even arrogant at times about pushing their wares or services at you. Debarkation: Was smooth, we were off the boat and on our way to the airport by 10:30AM. Read Less

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