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56 Middle East Romantic Cruise Reviews

It's hard to imagine anyone not enjoying a cruise on this beautiful ship. Well maintained, easy to get around, cabins with good storage space - this ship will not disappoint. Our sailing, from Barcelona to Dubai, had several ... Read More
It's hard to imagine anyone not enjoying a cruise on this beautiful ship. Well maintained, easy to get around, cabins with good storage space - this ship will not disappoint. Our sailing, from Barcelona to Dubai, had several highlight ports. The port of Aqaba was near Petra and Wadi Rum, so most all passengers took an excursion or two. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze, with none of those usual bottlenecks and confusion that sometimes occur. The Brilliance provided shuttle service for most of the ports, which made it easy to go off on ones own. In Eilat, the shuttle service took passengers, at no charge, to a shopping mall and beaches. Dining on the Brilliance did have a couple of flaws and some highlights. The highlight for us was Breakfast. The baked goods offered - breads, muffins - were exceptional. There was even a chocolate breakfast with a chocolate banana bread that was die for. The breads at all the meals were admirable. However, the dinner menu and the food served were at times rather ordinary. No one will go away hungry, for there is always something to please the palate, but after the first week of our cruise, the food did go downhill. We tried Chops, the specialty restaurant. Our suggestion would be to save your money. Our filet minions was grizzly and the food was like from a 1960s restaurant. Too much cheese and rich stuff over everything - ruining (at least for us) some of the dishes served. Service on the Brilliance was excellent, as one would expect it to be. We liked that up at the Windjammer buffet, servers came around and offered to bring drinks to ones table. Our cabin steward and the wait staff in all the dining venues were excellent. Be aware that there is no more shampoo, conditioner or lotion provided to cabins other than suites. Bring your own. There is no more chocolates on the pillows or lobster or lamp chops. But there is a beautiful experience on a lovely ship. Our vacation was enhanced by the ports and the Suez Canal and an almost daily trip to the well equipped gym. As is usual on a cruise, some of the shows were better than others, but still a nice way to spend 45 minutes before or after dinner. RCCL did have lecturers on board who talked about a variety of subjects and were of excellent calibre. We wish we could go around again. It was a wonderful cruise!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
The procedure for boarding the ship was amazingly fast and efficient. From arrival at the dock to being on-board took no more than 10 minutes. However, once on board, travelers were on their own, with no assistance available to orient ... Read More
The procedure for boarding the ship was amazingly fast and efficient. From arrival at the dock to being on-board took no more than 10 minutes. However, once on board, travelers were on their own, with no assistance available to orient themselves or even find their cabin. Fortunately, the ship is laid out logically and signage was good. Luggage arrived very quickly and was undamaged.The QE is a really beautiful ship. The interior is very elegant and the ship sails amazingly smoothly and quietly. Docking was so smooth that the only way to tell it had occurred was to look outside. The theater is the most beautiful I have seen among the 10 ships on which I have sailed and had charming box seats available for a few lucky patrons. Shows were limited, but of high quality. Other entertainment included a harpist and string quartets which were very good and added to the subdued, elegant mood. Food in the main "Britannia" restaurant was consistently very good. The specialty restaurant (The Verandah) was exquisite. The food there was truly extraordinary, service outstanding and atmosphere elegant yet inviting. The onboard service elsewhere was usually very good with well-trained staff. The exception was a few dour-faced eastern Europeans among the crew whose attitude was not up to what one expects of a 5-star cruise line. The informal dining buffet experience was a disappointment especially when compared to the parent company (Carnival) and Royal Caribbean. This was offset by the Britannia being open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As a result, we typically ate there and were pleased. Afternoon tea was an unusual and wonderful treat. White-gloved service, excellent tea and snacks, and live music made this a "must" for all days at sea.One feature that stood out, especially in comparison with other ships, was the library. Not only was it architecturally beautiful, it was extremely well-organized and had a nice supply and variety of books. I spent much more time there than envisioned at the start.Unfortunately, shore support was truly dreadful. In spite of several requests for assistance as far as 6 months in advance, Cunard was completely useless in assisting with visa requirements. It was truly amazing that they could provide no information at all (except for India which requires visas from everyone) for most ports of call. Oddly enough, Cunard magically acquired this knowledge once we were on board, leading to a huge fiasco with last minute requests for 50 passengers trying to get to Dubai. Although ultimately resolved at the 11th hour thanks to persistence by the purser, the stress of not knowing where we would ultimately leave the ship detracted from our enjoyment of this otherwise enjoyable cruise.Summarizing, I would say that while we enjoyed the trip and really admired the ship itself, the atmosphere was a bit too quiet for our tastes. We would be unlikely to rebook on this ship or the very similar Queen Victoria, but might explore the larger Queen Mary 2 at some time in the future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
We decided to go to Venice and Florence for a pre-cruise vacation prior to embarkation. Venice was as magical as we remembered and our stay at the Locanda Orseolo was perfect. This was our second stay, and the owners and staff are the ... Read More
We decided to go to Venice and Florence for a pre-cruise vacation prior to embarkation. Venice was as magical as we remembered and our stay at the Locanda Orseolo was perfect. This was our second stay, and the owners and staff are the consummate hosts. The hotel is in a great location being in a quiet area right off of St. Marks Square. Florence was a nice stay at the Hotel David. The hotel is a very good value, extremely clean with lots of hospitality touches. The location is a little off the beaten path. It was fine for us because we are avid walkers, but it might not be for those with mobility issues. The train ride from Florence to Civitavecchia was easy. Upon arrival in Civitavecchia we caught a cab to the port. Embarkation was smooth. There was a separate line for guests in Aqua Class, but it seemed that all lines moved efficiently. We were a bit concerned about having to check our passports with the ship, probably more out of fear that we would lose our claim checks than of the ship losing our passports. We always travel with multiple copies of our passports, so in the event we would have to get replacements it might help. Since our itinerary included stops in Egypt and Israel, we understood the reasons for the passport collections. Our first impression of Equinox was WOW! The ship is stunning;every attention to detail was made. The ship is sleek, modern, sophisticated and has an understated elegance. The centerpiece of the atrium is a huge tree suspended in a gorgeous colorful crystal planter. It combines art and nature and it made me smile every time I rode the glass elevators and read the signage "Here Comes the Sun". We were so happy we booked in Aqua Class. We enjoyed the private access to the spa and the Persian Gardens were wonderful. The little perks (daily bottled water, fruit, flavored teas) were nice, but the best part to us was dining in Blu. We absolutely loved it. The cuisine was a bit lighter than what is typically served in main dining rooms. The fish entrees were divine and the intimate setting had us hooked. It was evident that the staff worked as a team, but kudos to Gusti and Artur who were generally our head waiter and assistant. They were exceptional and made our dining experience outstanding. We had one little hiccup with the sommelier, but it was quickly and courteously corrected. The ambiance in Blu is beautiful and we looked forward every evening to eating there. Our cabin was extremely comfortable. The bathroom was spacious and felt full size. The vessel sink, glass tiles, fantastic shower all gave it a "spa" feel. We also liked the fact that the automatic fan kept the mirror and glass shower from fogging which added to the spacious feel. The bed was great and the linens are of high quality. Our cabin stewardess Elvie worked very hard to make sure everything was perfect in our cabin. She was delightful to talk to and made us feel like we were coming home every time we saw her in the hall or near our cabin. Some of our favorite spots on Equinox were Bistro on 5, we ate lunch there multiple times and loved the Parisian crepe for dessert. My husband, who has a sweet tooth also enjoyed the desserts at the Cafe Al Bacio along with a specialty coffee. The cruise director, Drew Pavlov was the best one we have had on all of our cruises. He was funny, articulate, and informative. We enjoyed his MC'ing, his silly nightly jokes and the late night game "Liar's Club". We also enjoyed the battle of the chefs. I got to be a "Celebrity" judge which was a lot of fun. The entertainment on the ship was mostly hits with a few misses. The West End show singer was very good, as was the violinist. The stage shows were average, and the comedienne was not very funny. The Cirque de Soleil show looked to be spectacular, however the theater was packed and even though we arrived a few minutes before the late show started we ended up having to stand and really could not see much. My suggestion would be to have reservations, or some type of ticketing like RCL does for their ice shows. We attended the hot glass show and it was very interesting. I wish the glass items could be sold but understand that it is a non-profit. We can not say enough great things about Equinox. The staff was unbelievable, friendly, polite, hard working and attentive. The ship is beautiful, and pristine. We will definitely be back for future vacations. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This was our 2nd time cruising with Costa and we were really looking forward to it as we had a brilliant time on the Serena 2 years ago(our 1st cruise!). It was nice to see more Brits on board and a good mix of Italians, Germans, French ... Read More
This was our 2nd time cruising with Costa and we were really looking forward to it as we had a brilliant time on the Serena 2 years ago(our 1st cruise!). It was nice to see more Brits on board and a good mix of Italians, Germans, French and various other Europeans. Cabin: We got our first ever balcony so we were well made up and we got our request of portside. Cabin was fresh and clean as expected from a month old ship and everything in working order. No complaints at all. Evening Dining: As always the waiting staff were excellent. However, we had not been allocated a table so we had to make a trip to see the maitre d to sort this and were given an early slot as we had hoped....however we did not expect to be sat with a Polish couple. They were lovely but coversation was limited to me and my wife talking to the husband and I felt sorry for his wife as she did not speak any English. Costa should not have allowed this - there were 15 Poles on board and they they put us on the same table as 2 of them. They came to the sit down meal only twice! Besides we wanted to share conversation with Brits and share experiences. We were missing our spice and one night they made us chicken curry which was nice(although they left the skin on). The food compared to the Serena was disappointing the rep suggested it could be the sourcing of the food in the middle east is not like the Med. Also no Pistachio ice-cream on demand - very disappointing! Overall, it was okay but not meeting my expectations of Italian cuisine. Our waiters Joneyl and Gerry were ace,however. Self-Service Restaurant: This has been described to a tee by the previous reviewer. Entertainment: We enjoyed the evening shows, however, it seemed towards the end they ran out of acts and cobbled together some shows like the 'Alpha Tours Folk Show' who were the tour guides used by Costa on the excursions - needless to say we didn't bother. More annoyingly was the Entertainment team who were constantly trying to rope you into some activity or other and bless them they were doing their jobs but trying to make me look like Bob Marley is not entertainment in my eyes. My wife got dragged up to play a game at the back end of the cruise in front of a grand audience of about 10 people to play 'Name That Tune' for Italian songs! Brilliant! I'm glad she didn't win as the prize was a Costa bum bag. Mixed bag for entertainment - some excellent shows like the acrobatic gymnast but followed by some lame stuff. Drinks: We saw this coming from last time so we made sure we got the X1 drinks package. You could have wine at lunchtime and evening meal. For £67 a person it was well worth it (wine, water and soft drinks)- better that the J2 that would have cost £225 for all day drinks - useless when you are not on board. At lunch the bar waiters who float were reluctant to come back to you as the service charge is already paid so they won't earn extra. I did see a lady complain as her bar girl didn't come back for ages and she wanted her drink with her food. Very naughty. Great drinks package and if you are willing to use your nouse(pick a different waiter each time), you are quids in apart from my liver... Customer Service: For some reason Costa were at pains to tell us that if your flight was not booked through Costa, you were classed as "Independent Travellers". We received absolutely no information from Costa or Virgin regarding our pick up from the port and transfer to our hotel, however, last time we booked through Virgin Holidays, they sorted everything out for us. The people working on the Customer Service desk were rude and unhelpful and refused to make any phone calls for us. Excursions: There was a wide selection of Costa excursions available, however, they were very over-priced. The Tour Office on board were unwilling to assist with any enquiries regarding the ports of call, shore-maps etc and only became helpful if you wanted to discuss or book Costa excursions. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We decided to book everything with Costa through our TA and through Costa website. This was good and bad. Good because of the flight/transfers because this way we had nothing to worry and because we got a deal that offered us the X1 ... Read More
We decided to book everything with Costa through our TA and through Costa website. This was good and bad. Good because of the flight/transfers because this way we had nothing to worry and because we got a deal that offered us the X1 drinks package (excellent for those who don't drink alchool like us). Bad because due to the Bahrein cancelation due to the unrest overthere the tour package we had booked suffered so many changes that we ended at tour desk more times than intended when booking tours online. Flights were with Lufthansa but because we had to go from Portugal to Dubai this was the schedule: 6AM OPO-FRA (2.5h) - 2PM FRA-DXB (5.5h). Getting to Dubai around 11.30PM we had another 60' to pass through passport control and then 45' of transfer (getting to bus and travel) to Port Rashid. With the checkin to Deliziosa going smoothly we ended up on cabin around 2AM but still waiting for our suitcases. Fortunately Costa had some snacks on the Cruise terminal while we were checking-in and the Pizza restaurant was open on-board. Got to a deserved bed rest around 4AM. After this we definitely deserved our vacations. The retirn flight was a little easier since DXB-FRA was around 2AM so we ended up sleep the entire return trip :). Deliziosa being just 1 year-old is a beautiful ship with excellent staff. Food was always available somewhere on-board and with good quality and variety. I think noone can say there are not enough eating options. The only really bad thing are the ice-creams (in an Italian ship we should expect Italian quality ice-creams and that doesn't happen). Entertainment activities are there for all tastes but as we would expect it's light entertainment. Quality light-entertainment. If you like that you will be very satisfied. If you don't you will be disappointed. We liked it but believe that some wouldn't. Others have called attention to drinking on-board. If you drink alchool you're doomed to a heavy bill. If not, and have the luck of getting offered like us the X1 package you're safe. Just buy Boys n Girls for those off main meal drink and you won't get a problem with drinking. On Deliziosa, Costa has some interesting, but priced, things. The F1 simulator, the Golf simulator with a tiny putting green on deck, the 4D cinema, the PS3 corner and the Samsara Spa. Though we didn't use any of them we think the Spa might be a good option and they were constantly publicizing sales for their products. The staff is really good. With 1 or 2 exceptions, besides being very gentle they're excellent workers that provide us and high-standard service. 5 star for all of them. Now, one last word for 2 things we didn't like on our cruise. 1st: due to the unrest in Bahrain, the stop there was cancelled 2 or 3 days before departure. Perfectly understandable. Less understandable is the way Costa re-arranged things. We were supposed to do: Dubai-Dubai-Muscat-Fujairah-Abu Dhabi-Bahrain-Dubai-Dubai. We would think they would either replace Bahrain with another port like Doha or do an overnight stay on the previous port (Abu Dhabi in this case). Well, they took an illogical potion of overnight in Muscat and thus postponing Fujairah and Abu Dhabi 1 day. The only reason I see is the eventually cheaper port stay in Muscat instead of on eof the other more logical options. 2nd: we booked a Dubai visit with Costa. We understand that usually, in these organised tours, the "guides" like to take us to some "friend-shops" for some percentual gain over sales. But when the shop we're taken is a Costa-Club member that Costa takes us without advertising it on their tour sale I think that's a new low-level for tour organisation. Luckily this only happened once and on the last day so we didn't even tried to bother with it. Oh... the general level of the tour guides was well below medium (at least the ones of got - 2 tours in Spanish and 1 in Italian). Everythong considered we ended loving our cruise and had great fun. Definitely recommended Deliziosa and this Middles East itinerary. DUBAI A must in every aspect. The contrast between new and old Dubai is breathtaking. Architectural highlights are everywhere. Burj Khalifa is just beatiful. Shopping heaven for those who search for it. Easily visited with cheap taxi (with taximeter always on) ABU DHABI The Great Mosque is a must visit. Ferrari World and YAS Marina Circuit are also there not to miss for the fans. And when the project 2030 is ready (first museums - Louvre - will open next year I think) it will be a top world destination for anyone with a little cultural interest FUJAIRAH Still can't understand why we stopped there. MUSCAT Very interesting. A very strict interpretation of Islam marks this country but it's capital is definetily worth visiting. The mountains from where this city grows are beautiful. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Wife and I were celebrating our 25th anniversary - so this was a special cruise. We selected this cruise based on the ports of call. We knew most of the passengers would be retired folks. We first cruised with P&O in the late ... Read More
Wife and I were celebrating our 25th anniversary - so this was a special cruise. We selected this cruise based on the ports of call. We knew most of the passengers would be retired folks. We first cruised with P&O in the late 1980's and upto this cruise our favorite cruise line was Princess. So for folks reading this here is a brief summary: Ports of call fantastic Cabin stewards/bar staff/restaurant staff fantastic Evening entertainment was good Cabin faultless Given we have done so many Princess cruises it is very hard not to make comparisons between Princess and P&O - during the course of this cruise wife and I developed a saying BOP (better on Princess) So here is the list Drinks - on Princess you can buy an unlimited soft drink package approx $35 per 7 day cruise - not possible on P&O. Variety of drinks much better and also cheaper on Princess. Food - Princess is miles ahead. On Arcadia the food variety was incredibly boring and unimaginative. In fact we gave up eating in the main restaurants and paid supplements to eat in the specialty restaurants (the Orchid is fantastic). Excursions - Arcadia, expensive and not imaginative with many admin errors/mistakes leading to almost arrogance. My wife and I called it the 'Excuses Desk' as opposed to Excursion Desk. Open & below deck facilities - Arcadia isn't bad - but Princess is just better. In summary I cannot stress how bad the food was - boring, boring and more boring. I've eaten better in Tesco cafeteria. I think it is very possible P&O are deeply cutting costs and it is in the food and beverage area where this is most evident. I'd rather pay more for my ticket then eat what was served up - actually I did pay more by eating in the specialty restaurants. So next cruise back to Princess... Read Less
Sail Date March 2009

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