70 New Orleans Holiday Cruise Reviews

Choice based on rates and available dates. This one fit our needs best. Covered Christmas which we would have had without kids for the first time. Also covered our 40th Anniversary on 12/26. Cruise was great overall. Smaller ship ... Read More
Choice based on rates and available dates. This one fit our needs best. Covered Christmas which we would have had without kids for the first time. Also covered our 40th Anniversary on 12/26. Cruise was great overall. Smaller ship than we had on Carnival but not necessarily a bad thing. More intimate. We met some great people. Destinations were womderful. Climbing Maya ruins on Christmas Day, tubing on a rain Forrest river (in the rain) on our Anniversary with a Maya guide. Next day being smooched on by an amorous Capuccin Monkey. Great times. The staff was friendly for he most part and went out of their way to make us feel special. A couple of bartenders were less than the best but they were more than made for by the rother st. I would recommend this route and cruise line to anyone. We may we'll do this one again. On the down side, though, there were a couple of significant aspects that prevent this from being a 5 star review. First, the center of the top deck by the pool was taken up by a stage. That seriously limited the space for guests. More, though, the Gand that played on that stage was a reggae style band and LOUD! Speakers all around the stage blasted their music into every corner. Lest you think I am just an old fogey who doesn't like loud things, I have been around concussive blast waves. They do bad things to your internal body. This volume felt like one long slow explosion and was painful for me. There was literally no way anyone could carry on a conversation when they were playing. We had to grab whatever food or drink we wanted and head up a deck, and maybe away from the pool area, to get a sound baffle from the glass and other structures in order to enjoy sitting out in the sunshine. The other thing was that we had a card in our room congratulating us on our Anniversary. That was very nice. The card said to give it to the matre de at whatever restaurant we went to on our Anniversary. We chose the French restaurant, Le Bistro. Handed the card over as instructed and were seated. As we were eating a small group of people appeared and sang Let Me Call You Sweetheart to a nearby table. I looked at my wife and speculated that they might were supposed to be singing to us. But, whatever. Shortly the couple at that table came by and asked us if it was our Anniversary since we were the only people in the restaurant tha looked like we were celebrating such an event. He said that they were not even married and he didn't take our cake. Then he went to tell the staff of their mistake. A while later the same people appeared at our table and repeated their performance and placed a very pretty cake on our table, right after we had ordered desert. In fact, our desert showed up in the middle of their singing. We thanked them and asked, since we already had desert, what we were to do with the cake. They said the would box it up for us. That was nice. We finished and we're sitting at the table. Ready to go, we wondered what we were to do about the cake. We got our waiter and asked. He said they had sent it to our cabin. Well, you guessed it, no cake. We never did see that cake again after it was placed on our table. Now, to be sure, we didn't go on the cruise for tha cake. And, had there been no card in our room, we wouldn't have even noticed. But the gesture was made ... and then abysmally executed. We are not looking for any kind of refund and not even sure an apology is necessary. But I have worked in customer service organizations and this was definitely not that. So here is the feedback. Cost you a star. As I said, though, we may we'll repeat this cruise and with NCL. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
This is a fantastic cruise company for seniors or people who like a slower pace, (perfect for me, as I love taking photos). They accommodate physical disabilities as much as possible throughout the trip. Children were rare, but the crew ... Read More
This is a fantastic cruise company for seniors or people who like a slower pace, (perfect for me, as I love taking photos). They accommodate physical disabilities as much as possible throughout the trip. Children were rare, but the crew made a special effort to find activities and food they would enjoy. Special diets can be accommodated. The locations they stop include plantations, museums and national parks. There is time to go to the local towns, with shuttle service. You will never be hungry on this trip: breakfast, warm cookies at 10:00, lunch, Tea Time, Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres and dinner. Open seating in the dining room. Balcony for every stateroom. On board they have bingo, lectures, and evening entertainment. It was a Christmas trip to remember: carolers greeted us as we boarded, decorations, food, the opportunity to attend Christmas Eve service and even gifts! The crew was the most cheerful and attentive I have experienced with any cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
This is our third Carnival cruise and first time out of New Orleans. As many have said, Elation is an older ship, but she's a great value for the money we spent. The public areas were very clean and comfortable. The decor seems much ... Read More
This is our third Carnival cruise and first time out of New Orleans. As many have said, Elation is an older ship, but she's a great value for the money we spent. The public areas were very clean and comfortable. The decor seems much more subdued than her sister ships Paradise and Ecstasy. I really wish they could find a better way to vent cigarette smoke, because it sometimes became overpowering when the bars/casino were busy. Embarkation Easiest embarkation yet! New Orleans Port Parking was simple and the porters were friendly and very helpful. We arrived at 1030 am and boarded at 1130ish. Our room was ready by 1230. Our luggage arrived just before muster. Stateroom We had a porthole room on the Main Deck. M 14. The room was very large. We had a lot of motion, but it wasn't really a problem. The ship moved quite a bit everywhere. The water was rough and we had some 50 mph winds. Entertainment We probably spent 75% of our time in the Comedy club. We loved both comedians. They showed college and NFL playoff games on the big screen in that room. They provided football clappers and poms. I wish they would have had popcorn and/or munchies, but it was a great place to watch a game. We enjoyed several trivia games and won a ship on a stick. The shows were okay. Food As long as they continue to serve warm chocolate melting cake, I'll always give the food good reviews. I prefer the main dining room over the buffet, but both were good. I really loved the pumpkin soup and lobster. Breakfast in the dining room was good as well. I would have eaten the buffet more, but the wind was really strong, making our preferred outdoor seating impossible. Service The service was just okay on this cruise. Our cabin steward wasn't around as often as we've come to expect from our previous cruises. He was nice, but he seemed to just be going through the motions. I called about ice the afternoon of the second day and he kind of snapped that he was off duty and I'd have to call room service. I was ok with the room service referral, but the attitude was a little off putting. I asked for extra glasses and he looked at me like I was asking for something impossible. The girl assisting him was very friendly. Most members of the dining staff were great. The customer service desk was very helpful. Cozumel I love Cozumel. We booked Mr Sanchos All Inclusive for the second time. They provide great service! Our waiter, Erizel, gave us a cabana and table away from everyone. He was always around for yummy drink refills and food. We left Sanchos and spent a few hours shopping at port. Disembarkation This was not my favorite disembarkation. They call so many groups down together, it created very long lines. Why have zones at all if you're going to lump them all together? Overall I really enjoyed this cruise. My experience on the ship was mostly great. I believe it was well worth the money we paid. I would go again tomorrow if I could!   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We surprised our grand daughters (whom we are raising) with this as their Christmas present! Emma, age 16 and MC age 8 were ecstatic! We were on our 25th cruise, but only the third with Carnival. Years ago, we went on two short cruises on ... Read More
We surprised our grand daughters (whom we are raising) with this as their Christmas present! Emma, age 16 and MC age 8 were ecstatic! We were on our 25th cruise, but only the third with Carnival. Years ago, we went on two short cruises on Carnival's older, smaller ships, and were not impressed by comparison to the Royal Caribbean and Princess cruises we had previously gone on. BUT, since the four of us could drive, thus savings $$$ in airfare, and because the Dream was so much larger and newer, we thought we'd give it a try. We had a great time, the girls loved their various activities, MC wanted to go to Camp Carnival every day. Emma was shy about going to Club O2 by herself the first night, but then met a few kids, and they ran around together in a pack all week. We had a very good cabin steward, he was in there at least twice daily, keeping the ice bucket filled, bringing us fresh beach towels, robes, and anything else we requested. Our main dining room servers were super friendly, remembering us by name each night. The food was typical cruise ship quality, mostly very good with a few exceptions each night. We were surpised to see that Carnival still serves lobster and escargot, and some other "fancy" foods that some of the lines had cut out. We dined one night at the Chef's Table steakhouse, and it was superb. Emma ordered lobster and it came with not one, but three tails! The desserts were to die for. We thought the production shows were good, but not over the top. The dancers were talented, the male singer was quite good, female just OK. And, yes, "family friendly" is a matter of opinion...a lot of sexy dancing in very skimpy costumes. The entertainment around the ship was sub-par, the singers in the atrium were pretty terrible and they were LOUD. We didn't care for the comedian either. I don't understand why, what with all the fantastic talent out there, the cruise line would hire such marginal acts. We did Faster to the Fun, and would do it again...for 50.00 for the whole group it makes embarkation a whole lot easier, and, on the last night, we went down to guest services and there were about 30 people in line but the FTTF line had only two ahead of us. There was a lot of smoking on this ship, the whole deck five around the casino area reeked of it. The kids loved the water slides, the mini golf, and we all watched a "Dive'In" movie, that was pretty special! All in all, a good cruise for our family, but if it was just the two of us, Carnival would not be my pick. This ship was VERY crowded and we like a more elegant atmosphere. (They actually announced in the dining room, that, on "elegant" night, men were not allowed to wear flip flops and wife-beaters, and no ball caps!) One other tip: If you are driving to the port, park at the Fulton Street garage, it was less than half of the price of the one at the port! It is only two blocks away, and they have a shuttle bus with porters to help with your luggage.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Ship information - Elation is one of the older ships in Carnival's fleet (1998) and it shows. Out toilet would not flush one night but was fixed soon after we called. At night you hear groans and noises from the older ship. There was ... Read More
Ship information - Elation is one of the older ships in Carnival's fleet (1998) and it shows. Out toilet would not flush one night but was fixed soon after we called. At night you hear groans and noises from the older ship. There was not a running track that encompassed the ship. There was ample deck seating and 2 pools. There was a small water slide for people taller than 48 inches. Activities - Standard cruise activities. Offered kids and teen camps. Adult only (Serenity) area existed but was not very large (80 people max) and had only 2 hot tubs and no pool. Serenity area was at back of ship but not secluded as multiple decks over looked the area. Mini-golf course, VB, and basketball courts where also present. Port & shore excursions - Standard cruise excursions. We booked the Progreso excursion off ship and had a great private tour with Lawsons. Booked local tequila tour in Cozumel with Carnival that was pretty bad. 3 of the 4 local tour guides called in sick...seems the had too much to drink on Christmas Eve. Carnival did contact the your company and got refunded 50%. Better then nothing. Travel to embarkation Port - New Orleans has a $14 flat rate tax ride from airport to port. This is kinda lame since many other cities have a flat rate for the cab of around $20. I guess we have to pay for pumps to keep the city from being flooded ;) Try to pick a hotel with free airport shuttles and then taxi to port from there. Cabin - Our 4A cabin showed its age but actually was a bit more spacious than other ones in this class. Non of the room had mini-refrigerators. You could call and get a blow driers if desired since none were there initially. Cabin stewards as always where friendly and accommodating. No balconies rooms exist on the side of the ship. Dining - Main dining was good but not as great as on other ships. We had meals each night where we needed to order other entries since the initial one was lacking. They did have creme brulee the last night but the desserts were prep'ed too early and the topping was soggy (like oatmeal). Also the ship being older did not have any themed up-charge restaurants so the main dining menu had a small up-charge section where you could get $20 lobsters and such. The buffets were good and had specialty sections but did close at times during the day. Children's clubs - Children and teen clubs existed. our granddaughter went to camp carnival from time to time but did spend more time with us then in the club. Not sure if this was because she was the only kids on the trip or the club was not exciting. Entertainment - I've have taken several cruises in the past 5 years and Carnival has been my favorite. What impressed me about Carnival has been the value of the entertainment. The combo of exciting nightly feature acts and George Lopez comedians has been a winner for me. Unfortunately on the 12/22/2014 cruise on both Christmas eve and Christmas Day (both port days) the main entrainment was non-existant / very, very sub standard. To be exact on 12/24 the Mikado (main room) event was 7:45pm Michael Jackson Trivia and 8:15pm Michael Jackson Thriller dance contest, followed by bingo. Then at 11pm one comedy event happened (not the 4 that usually happen nightly). Then on 12/25 at 8pm "Guess that song 90's" and 8:30 "disco dance class" with no comedians at all. To be honest these are 2pm shows on sea days NOT main event on holidays. In essence on the 2 biggest nights of the cruise there was nothing substantial to do and it was noticed my all 14 of us on the trip. This experience has left a very sour taste in my mouth and makes me doubt Carnival a lot now. Also the comedians were not switched out during the cruise. Usually when at a port (like Cozumel where different Carnival ship where docked) the comedians are swapped to make it better for both ships. This did not happen and added to the entertainment disappointment. Disembarkation - Standard practices followed. Carnival offered early self disembarkation for people with needs. This process helped us so we were in taxi's by 8:30 and at the airport by 9. Summary - My least favorite cruise of all 6 that I've done. The lack of decent main entertainment ruined it for me. Did anyone else experience on a past Elation cruise? Was the entertainment on 12/24 and 12/25 normal for the Elation or were the crew given the nights off? --> If this was the normal cruise then I do not think the cruise was worth the value. --> If the staff had time off over the holidays then I doubt the cruise director. The people on the cruise (me) paid a 2x or 3x premium to be here over Christmas. They could take the extra money they made and hire temporary entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We had a great Christmas cruise on the Norwegian Dawn. My wife, the teacher, and I, the plumber, had inside cabin 8595 while our three adult children (27, 26, 22) shared inside cabin 9095. Both rooms were located mid ship close to the ... Read More
We had a great Christmas cruise on the Norwegian Dawn. My wife, the teacher, and I, the plumber, had inside cabin 8595 while our three adult children (27, 26, 22) shared inside cabin 9095. Both rooms were located mid ship close to the atrium. I found the Dawn to be a great ship. It is well maintained and the staff and crew were hard working, friendly and very helpful. We did not buy any food or beverage packages. My wife and I did buy the spa pass and thought it was well worth it. The cost compared to the cost of some of the excursions. We ended up using the spa once or twice a day during the whole cruise. Besides the great food, the ship board high lights for me were the stardust shows, lounge singers in the atrium, christmas carols sing along in the atrium, second city show in the spinnaker lounge. The promenade on the deck 7 was a great place for walking and enjoying the warm nights. I am an early riser so I would get some coffee go up to deck 13 and watch the sun come up and "supervise" the ship coming into port. If you want to lay in the sun away from the crowds there are some deck chairs by the giant checker board deck 13 that go unused until late morning. We attended the Christmas Eve non denomination service. Three guests officiated the service, a catholic decon, baptist minister, and a main stream pastor. The house piano player provide the music. About half of the people in attendance were staff and crew. It was a good service. Our excursions consisted mostly going to a beach or shopping. My two boys dove in Cozumel and really enjoyed it. In Costa Maya we went to The Beach Club. It was a beautiful beach with lots to do. We all took advantage of the all you can drink bar. No one got stupid, but we had a good time. This was our second cruise and first with NCL. I thought the Dawn was a wonderful ship. The crew and staff met or exceed our expectations.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My extended family (10 total, ages from mid-70s to early teens) decided to celebrate the holidays somewhere warm where nobody had to host. Most of us were first-time cruisers, although my parents have taken numerous river cruises on much ... Read More
My extended family (10 total, ages from mid-70s to early teens) decided to celebrate the holidays somewhere warm where nobody had to host. Most of us were first-time cruisers, although my parents have taken numerous river cruises on much smaller ships. We chose this cruise based on a combination of the dates, the ship size, and itinerary. We all arrived the day before departure, staying overnight at the Hilton Riverside. There are easily-found shuttle busses that take you straight there from the airport for $20 each, or of course the taxis become economical for larger parties sharing a ride. This venue turned out to be a lucky choice, as the weather in New Orleans was miserable -- cold and rainy -- but you can navigate from the hotel to the cruise terminal entirely indoors. The worst part of the experience was huddling outdoors just onboard on the ship for our boarding photos! The Serenade was a wonderful ship; it seemed quite large to us (until we docked next to the Oasis of the Seas later on, LOL) but we were navigating it confidently after only a day or so and nothing felt too far away, although the elevators seemed to be crazy busy on embarkation day. I particularly liked deck 6 aft, where the Schooner Bar and Safari club combined to provide a piano bar, pool tables, a great dance floor, and relaxed/quiet ambiance. My nephew lived on the basketball court up on deck 12. ;-) There was often live music in the Centrum too, but its stone floor was brutally hard on our feet. I would not have thought so before experiencing it, but all of us agreed that the days at sea (two at the beginning, and one at the end) were the most relaxing parts of the cruise -- all of the ports were, to varying degrees, rat races that left you either on the run or looking at your watch or trying to catch your breath. The single best thing we did, also by luck, was to schedule our entire party (10) for MyTime dining with a standing reservation at 5:45. We had a large windowside round table, ideally sized for our party, and the best wait staff I have ever experienced in any restaurant anywhere. Each evening, we'd stroll in and sit down and spend a few hours being treated like kings and queens. From my chair I couldn't help notice the queue of would-be diners waiting to be seated -- something we bypassed entirely after the first night. From this, we learned: (a) Choose the MyTime option, which puts you in the more genteel and less cramped tables on deck 5 [vs the cattle-call on deck 4]; (b) Choose an earlier time so you never have to wait on somebody else to free up your table; and (c) Get a standing reservation -- at which point on the first night you can request to have the same table (and waiters) all of the remaining nights. This took some trouble to set up (in advance) -- we were spread across 5 staterooms -- but the results were more than worth it. Aside from dinners, crew service had definite high points and low points. The staff were unfailingly cheerful and polite, but there were a few rough edges. Several of us found that it was nearly impossible to contact a stateroom attendant if you didn't run into them in the passageway -- there's a handy button on the phone in the cabin, but it should be labelled "Ring No Answer" not "Stateroom Attendant". For some reason, our visit to George Town, Grand Cayman, turned into a logistical disaster. We knew we'd be using tenders and that extra time would be required to get onshore, but apparently the presence of several other ships (I counted at least six, including the Serenade, in port that day) totally overwhelmed whatever planning had occurred. At 0800, the stairways were still choked with passengers trying to reach their 0715 excursions and there were no signs of movement anywhere. A little after 0830, I visited the Excursion Desk to express my concern about our 0930 excursion. The representative offered to cancel and refund the excursion, but had nothing even vaguely similar to offer as a substitute. When we grew tired of waiting for ticketed tenders to be announced (apparently they never were), we joined the throng in the stairways and eventually got onshore just in time to make the excursion. Since the Excursion Desk hadn't collected the excursion tickets when I had them cancelled, we proceeded to use them and had a great time. Afterwards, back onboard, I visited the Desk again and had them "uncancel" our tickets, which they did. (Correctly, even.) Nevertheless, it is hard to avoid feeling the day would have worked out better if (a) Royal Caribbean had planned the tendering better [surely they have done this before????] and (b) they had used the tender passes after bothering to hand them out and (c) they had told me "don't worry, sir, you have time to make your excursion" instead of "oh, we'll just cancel and credit you". We gave the Serenade's doctor more of a workout than any of us (or him) probably wanted, but our several encounters were handled with professionalism, courtesy and above all, a sense of comfort. Somewhat to my surprise (first-time cruiser, remember?) I ended up having an interview with him before being allowed to board -- I'd come down with the flu a week previously, but fortunately gotten on Tamiflu right away. (Great stuff, by the way, and heartily endorsed by the doctor.) It makes total sense in hindsight, but he told us that I wouldn't have been allowed aboard if I'd still had a fever -- which thankfully I hadn't for several days previously. All I'd been thinking about had been "I don't want to be sick on my vacation!" but obviously the cruise line is properly worried about all these people crushed together. We used more Purell in a week than I have in probably the rest of my life to this point! Two days in, one of us came down with tonsillitis and headed down to the medical bay. A quick diagnosis and some prescribed antibiotics had him feeling better by the next day, with minimal impact beyond a temporary prohibition on alcoholic beverages. And if that hadn't been enough, on Christmas Eve one of us became inexplicably nauseous, dizzy and weak. We trooped down to medical again (minor glitch -- the wheelchair was too wide to fit through the stateroom door). It wasn't clear if the problem was dehydration or something worse/contagious, but the doctor prescribed drugs for the symptoms and required him to stay in the stateroom until we knew what was happening. In recompense, all of the treatment was provided free, as was room service from a special menu, and he got credit for a future cruise to offset the "missed" day. 24 hours later, all was well. I'd never want anything bad to happen to anybody, but it was reassuring to know the medical staff on the Serenade were ready and equipped to deal with all of our various ailments (and many more besides). Most people probably will never visit deck 2, but it's there if you need it. I've mentioned dinner already, and most of our other meals were eaten at the Windjammer (the buffet on deck 11). I walked by the specialty restaurants several times, but we had such a great time at our table in the main dining room (on deck 5) that I never felt seriously tempted to eat at them. A few times, for a change of pace, we went to the main dining room (on deck 4) for breakfast or lunch, but it wasn't as much fun. The tables were close together, which meant that navigating to the salad bar in the center of the dining room was a serious challenge. The food itself ranged from good to great, and of course there was as much of it as anybody cared to eat. We'd brought a few bottles of special wine with us, which turned out better than planned. We declared it on boarding, but it wasn't taken away from us, and it is unclear if Royal Caribbean was actually enforcing their two-bottle per stateroom limit or not. More to the point, when we brought the bottles to dinner, we never got charged the $25 corking fee, which turned an okay deal into a great one. ;-) The dress code was slightly more casual than the Royal Caribbean guidelines might lead you to believe. There were few tuxedos in evidence on the formal nights, with jackets and ties more common, and the last night ("dressy casual") looked pretty casual to me. We are pretty much "make your own entertainment" types, so we looked in at the movie theatre (without staying), and watched one of the shows without being either thrilled or annoyed. The dancing was better, as both of the bands onboard played danceable music and were happy to take requests. As mentioned earlier, the wooden parquet floor at the Safari Club was far preferable to the tile floor of the Centrum. Disembarkation, which unfortunately came days too soon for us ;-), was a smooth experience although it was disconcerting to say goodbye to our luggage the night before. We watched others wheeling it off themselves, and I'm still of mixed mind which way I'd go if I had it to do over again. Overall, our trip was a wonderful experience and Royal Caribbean hosted a great holiday event. I don't have any other first-hand basis for comparison, but I'd definitely consider RC and the Serenade for a future cruise -- they treated us well, and I don't know that I need to be on a larger (or smaller) ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We enjoyed our first "Christmas Away From Home", on board the "Queen of the Mississippi", along with 135 other passengers. Arriving a few days prior to the trip, we stayed at the Dauphine Orleans hotel in the French ... Read More
We enjoyed our first "Christmas Away From Home", on board the "Queen of the Mississippi", along with 135 other passengers. Arriving a few days prior to the trip, we stayed at the Dauphine Orleans hotel in the French Quarter - a good choice for location and top quality service. Café Du Monde (and their famous bignets) and the St. Louis Cathedral, and Antoine's were highlights. Our taxi dropped us off near the "Queen of the Mississippi" where we were greeted by crew members who took over our luggage and escorted us to our cabin. We set sail on Saturday around noon. The cruise included port stops and tours each day - since we have traveled with American Cruise Line in the past, all our tour costs was free. Each day we returned to the boat for Happy Hour at 5:30 - all snacks and drinks were "on the house". Each evening there was local entertainment - of course, on this cruise, that included a lot of jazz, New Orleans style. No problem with outside or hall noise. We were very pleased with the size and "freshness" of our cabin; our 3 meals a day in the dining room included our choice of wines at both lunch and dinner. The crew and staff were all friendly and seemed to enjoy their job and anxious to be of service to us. The staff was helpful in getting us and our luggage to the airport, train depot, etc. In summary, this was an enjoyable trip and one we can recommend. We are already signed up for our next cruise with American Cruise Line.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Living only an hour from the port, we look forward to our Christmas Carnival cruise, however this year's cruise may well be our last on the Elation. Since we are platinum cruisers, this was probably the smoothest embarkation and ... Read More
Living only an hour from the port, we look forward to our Christmas Carnival cruise, however this year's cruise may well be our last on the Elation. Since we are platinum cruisers, this was probably the smoothest embarkation and debArkation process of all our cruises. Unfortunately, there aren't many other compliments I can give about this cruise. Evidently, with the recent "upgrades" to the ship, cruisers have limited controls over cabin temperatures and no controls over airflow in the cabin. After contacting our cabin steward a second time, we were told the cabin temperatures are kept between 71 and 74*. Only once during the cruise did I notice anything more than minimal airflow through the ceiling vent. We decided to try "Your Time Dining" this cruise. Unless you arrive at the dining room near the beginning of end of the dining room opening, you will likely be given a pager to notify you when a table is available. Our wait was anywhere from :20-:40. Not a problem, just be aware and plan accordingly. Service in the dining room was definitely lacking on this cruise. Our first night, Randy was our server...he was terrific! Thereafter, service was slow, to the extent that food was cold and servers seemed to disappear. At brunch on our last full day, it took :30 for our server to bring bread to our table, the tomato soup was barely room temperature, and the pork chop was cold. For supper that night we requested Randy. In hindsight, we should have done that for the entire cruise. Our cabin was on the Empress deck below the galley. On the first and last night, we were awakened by crew in the galley at 3 a.m. It sounded like they were dropping plastic buckets on the floor. After being awakened the first night, I slept with ear plugs, however I couldn't do that on the last night because I needed to hear the alarm in the morning. This was our first time getting off the ship in Progresso. It was a short 2-3 minute walk to the bus stop and a :15-:20 bus ride into town. We decided to have lunch at a downtown restaurant. The food was pretty good and the prices were reasonable. With weather threatening, we decided to get back to the ship, so we didn't do much walking around. I don't think we missed much. Progresso seems to be a very poor town. Having been to Cozumel before, we decided to stay on the ship. We did enjoy the Christmas sing-a-longs in the atrium and Christmas trivia games near the Drama Bar. I don't remember these on previous cruises to the extent they occurred on this cruise. Unfortunately, unless things change, we won't be sailing with Carnival next year. It might be time to give Royal Carribbean a chance. Very sad. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We went on the Christmas cruise 2014 with extended family. Embarkation was a nightmare. The worst experience being when we turned over our luggage to be organized and taken on the ship. The man scoffed at our $10 tip for our bags. He ... Read More
We went on the Christmas cruise 2014 with extended family. Embarkation was a nightmare. The worst experience being when we turned over our luggage to be organized and taken on the ship. The man scoffed at our $10 tip for our bags. He actually said that if we wanted our bags safely on board it wasn't much of a tip! We gave him more to make sure our bags got onboard... After proceeding through the chaos of the line of cattle we finally got to our rooms. The rooms were fine. The were clean, the room steward was great. Food was great. We chose to eat most of our meals in the garden cafe (the buffet). We did eat in the Venetian 3 nights, which turned out to be a 3 hour event. Not our cup of tea, but I'm sure some people love waiting for tiny servings. At least we did have another option. Entertainment. Wow. I felt like I was at our home town high school musicals. The second city comedy show was dumb, some people did seem to enjoy it though. And we were PACKED in a bar to watch this show, I'm sure some fire codes were broken there. Most of the other entertainment was not free, and it was to make NCL money, for example, bingo, raffles, casino, and the like. The booze is pushed from early morning on. Since this was a Christmas cruise, I fully expected beautiful decorations. Nope. A few cheesy cardboard wall cut outs, some gingerbread houses, one christmas tree. Not too festive Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I will begin this review by saying we are not fly by night cruisers or first timers – our latest cruise on the Serenade was our fourth RCCL cruise with 5 cruises total under our belts. We have sailed on Oasis – Freedom and twice on the ... Read More
I will begin this review by saying we are not fly by night cruisers or first timers – our latest cruise on the Serenade was our fourth RCCL cruise with 5 cruises total under our belts. We have sailed on Oasis – Freedom and twice on the Radiance Class Ships with RCCL and one Holland cruise comparable to the Voyager Class of RCCL. So here is my review of the Serenade. Our first cruise was on RCCL Jewel of the Seas which was phenomenal however after experiencing the Oasis and Freedom Class ships the Radiance Class Ships didn’t seem to be as exciting. But I would highly recommend Radiance or Voyager class Ships for First or second time cruisers. I will break this review down in segments and give it a 1 -5 Rating (5 Being the Best) Port of Departure New Orleans (Rating 2.5) In my opinion this port is very congested and wildly disorganized we have sailed out of Port Canaveral / Ft Lauderdale and Tampa in the past and if I had to compare I would sum it up like this – The security in New Orleans ports are very laid back, understandably we all complain about the added security measures when traveling but there is peace of mind that comes with it. For example at the Florida terminals the customs and security are checking Ship Reservations / IDS and Passports prior to entering the Ship Dock Area – in New Orleans your first Security check comes inside the building which is fine, but Being ranked #6 among American cruise ports (I) you would think it would be a little more secure. However once you get past all the uncertainty and ciaos things seem to move rather fast The parking areas are scattered around the port so you have a choice to park your car just about anywhere, however you will be walking a great distance to the port or trying to catch a shuttle or cab to the main entrance – which promotes another problem, there is only one lane traffic so if there is a traffic back-up you are paying a cab fee for sitting. My only suggestion is you park your car at the terminal parking area which is adjacent to the port terminal but still a 5-10 min walk depending how far from the door you are. You can leave your bags with a porter before parking but keep in mind whatever luggage your hand carrying on board you will have to walk with through all the security check points and onto the ship. The other down fall of leaving out of New Orleans is that it takes approx. 5 Hours for the ship to get to the Gulf and an additional 4 Hours before Casinos and Stores are open – In our case the Ship left the dock at 4pm and the Casino and stores opened at 10am the next morning, this is just an FYI. This is due in part because ships have to follow duty free laws and duty free generally goes into effect approx. 4 hours off any U.S Mainland. Lastly if you are looking for the cruise port terminal on your GPS – Verify where it is – we typed in Port of New Orleans with the address and it took us to a restaurant on the opposite side of town, so do some research on this one first and please note you are looking for the “Julia Cruise Terminal for RCCL”. Luggage and Room (5.0) Upon boarding we headed to the windjammer for lunch which was open and ready for service – we were told through the grapevine staterooms would not be ready until 1:00pm and luggage to soon follow, so with past experience we figured about 2 – 2:30 but to our surprise the doors opened at 1:05pm and our stateroom was ready and low and behold our luggage was outside the door waiting for us too. So this is an advantage to a smaller vessel for sure. – We actually had time to unpack, get our room situated and get ready for dinner. So this was an absolute plus. Nice Job RCCL Crew State Room (Rating 4.5) We stayed in State Room 4536 which was down the hall from the Centrum and Customer Service desk this room had its pros and cons. The room was quiet and we rarely heard any noise from the Centrum. In fact we heard a lot more noise above us. The noise we heard were kids running around see as we were on Deck 4, I can only assume these were kids running along Deck 5 which is the outside walk way but this was sporadic and didn’t last long maybe 9-10pm if I recall. The Centrum as aforementioned was located down the hall from us although surprisingly you didn’t hear any noise it is the central area for shows and ship gatherings. I can only imagine if you were closer you might hear some noise but I was extremely surprised we didn’t hear anything from our Stateroom that involved the Centrum Activities. However, if and when there was activities in this area the access to your stateroom was compiled with getting through crowds of other passengers or you could walk to the elevators located at the front of the ship and bypass all the extracurricular activities which again was not a big deal just kind of annoying because other guests assumed you were trying to get the front line of the venue and you had to keep expressing to them you wanted to get to your State Room. Hence the reason I rate this a 4 out of 5 Main Dining “My Time Dining” (3.5) We went to our “My Time Dining” our first evening out to meet our waiters and well I was somewhat disappointed. We generally do this so we can meet the waiters and get a feel on the service and activities in the main dining room. We were welcomed by are main waiter and his assistance, the food was ok but the service and wait time was more than I would deem acceptable. I will go on to say that we met another couple on board and even tried a different area of the “my time dining” and the service was no different so I am not exactly sure what the issue was but it was slower than I expected. Overall I have to say we only seen our main waiter one time and for the life of me I can’t remember his name or even remember if we were introduced – However his assistance Moncef was incredible and an asset to RCCL he was always around and always lending a helpful hand to us during dinner / Lunch and Breakfast. Windjammer (4.8) We always enjoy the windjammer – I am not sure if it is the ability to come and go as you please and experience the different types of food or the friendly one on one with the waiters / waitresses but never have a complaint here Windjammer Buffet Food (4.0) I will not sugar coat this – buffet food is buffet food with our many travels on cruise ships and dry land buffets I don’t think I have ever had one better than the other – If you are cruising because you heard the food is out of this world please don’t be naïve – the only difference is there’s more of it and you can have as much as you want. Now with that being said here are a couple things to keep in mind first and foremost the Serenade offers fresh cook specialty meals in the Windjammer every night I am partial to the pasta night as they will make your dish to order – they also had Stir Fry night / Fish Night and Pork night, these dishes were great and freshly made and yes you can go for seconds or thirds. The buffet was not bad it’s all about preference and what you like – for example the pasta sauce is more tomato tasting then what I make at home but it was still enjoyable. So seeing as you can’t please 2500 people take it with stride. I heard a lot of people in the past mention how bland the food is – well again cruisers think about the 2500 people on board, it is easy to add spice / salt or pepper to any dish to exact it the way you like – it’s impossible to take these ingredients out when there is too much for someone to consume. So to error on the side of judgment it is safer for any Chef or Cook to leave the pallet open and keep the spice / salt / pepper etc.. down to a minimum. Over all depending on the food you like I still think that it was pretty good food On Board Live Entertainment Headliners (5.0) The on board entertainment shows were great we seen the Performances by “Finis” a musical genius and impressionist if you ever get an opportunity to see him do it. We also seen “Horizon” a Detroit Michigan based 4 Man Mo-town group – again this was a great show. I can’t speak of the other shows like Love and Marriage etc.. But heard no complaints from anyone on the ship. On board Entertainment / Pool Deck (3.5) I do think that there were enough afternoon festivities on board i.e. trivia games at the lounges etc.. The live band playing on the pool deck was extremely loud – I am no stranger to music as I dabble with playing my drums on occasion and loud music doesn’t bother me however, when you have to literally scream your drink order to the waiter and or scream to talk to other people that are seated inches from you then it’s entirely too loud – that also applied to the late night TV I finally had to tell someone to lower it down – there was only 10 people on the pool deck and I couldn’t hear my self-breathing let alone the conversation at hand in my opinion this was a gross oversight by the Cruise Director and his or her assistance. Being a Christmas cruise we were impressed that the crew celebrated Christmas with a Santa Claus visit for the children that was really nice – and the passenger Christmas sing along was also and additional feature that we enjoyed very much, however we were a little disappointed in the decorating of the ship for Christmas although Hanukah was very noticeable on board, Now please don’t take this the wrong way I am no way saying Hanukah should not be celebrated in fact I am very much happy to see it was, however the vision of Christmas décor was not apparent on the vessel which was more of a surprise than a disappointment. Shops onboard (3.0) The Shops are located on Deck 5 and are pretty standard: liquor, jewelry, Serenade Wear, perfume. The stores were never crowded and much of the logowear went 50% off on the last day of the cruise. These are pretty basic – again being a smaller ship these venues are suitable for their needs. Specialty Restaurants (2.9) The specialty restaurants included Rita’s cantina / Giovannis / Izumi Asian / Chops Grill and Café Latte-tudes which is a coffee house – We visted Rita’s Cantina and although the food was mediocre at best the service was slow and honestly the few dollar cover charge didn’t make for anything spectacular, the Lattitudes specialty coffee is always great to me as I am a big coffee consumer however the wait time was very disappointing – there always seemed to be a long line and only one service employee – definitely something RCCL needs to improve on – this is an additional cost of course but I seen just as many people walk away from the line as there were in line so in essence this was lost revenue for RCCL Staff (5.0) Like any cruise we have ever been on we certainly can identify with specific people and crew members and this cruise was no exception Michael Martin – Our room steward was excellent – always there when we needed him and always smiling and making sure we had everything we needed even when we told him we needed no special treatment he went above and beyond Moncef – Was our dining steward in the Windjammer and Mytime Dining He was beyond his professionalism – smiles and service was beyond our expectations this man is a definite asset to RCCL. He is the nicest person we have met on our cruise endeavors he was very personable and always smiling and even found time to stop us in the windjammer to see how we were doing and if there was anything he could do for us A+++ if any one travels on the Serenade ask for Moncef (He sort of resembles Dwayne Johnson “The Rock”) and is and exceptionally great person to be around. Shusant – The Chef in the Windjammer was always there to greet us in the mornings or afternoons smiling and ensuring our meals were top notch, again an absolute gentlemen and professional. Michael Martin – Our room steward was excellent – always there when we needed him and always smiling and making sure we had everything we needed, We even advised Michael we didn’t need any special treatment we were easy going yet he still went above and beyond. Aninke Van Antwerpen – The guest Services Officer Was beyond our expectations – She is absolutely wonderful – We only visited Guest Services a few times during our cruise but we always waited to ensure she was on duty and we could get her assistance even if it meant waiting longer in line and she would always smile and acknowledge when we were in line. All of these people exceeded our expectations and we hope RCCL will acknowledge their excellent work ethics and customer service – They truly our why we continue to cruise with RCCL Conversely and only to be fair, I will say overall the crew seemed to be over worked and looked extremely tired, rumor was Royal Laid off 300 Employees – Honestly with the type of revenue cruise lines make - I can’t see where cutting jobs adds to customer service. Hopefully this is not true but if it is RCCL may want to reconsider. Serenade Cruise and Activities Director (2.5) Based on other cruise directors onboard RCCL I rate this one a (2 out of 5) – although this may vary from passenger to passenger this is my opinion – It seemed to me that this cruise director (John Blair) had to force himself to smile – acknowledge passengers and or entertain the passengers, Now I don’t mean this is a terrible way – I mean this in a “Not a very personable person / his personality does not fit that of some of the cruise directors we have had on the past” the best being Allan Brooks or Joff Eaton. Now to sum it up, in the mornings when I seen him it appeared to me that he just woke up, dabbed some water on his hair put on the same Serenade of the Seas Sweat Shirt he wore the day before and pranced around the ship (hence the reason why I didn’t purchase one) and he wouldn’t make any eye contact with passengers unless the passengers reacted to him first. Now I am not saying he must engage with all passengers but the reality is, it’s his job to keep the entertainment alive on the ship not when it’s a convenience, and further I found it a little uncouth for him to have to mention in one announcement that his assistance was his wife, in my opinion that was TMI. The only real entertainment I seen from him was during the time he was trying to set up the Charity walk on the pool deck – it was a side show watching him and the others try to arrange tables and chairs during a windy day – again it seemed very unorganized but yet it was entertaining to say the least. The Serenade Ship (4.7) Overall the Serenade is a nice ship – It was well maintained and very clean – the only complaint I have which again is rare – was the crew was Wood Staining the Deck 5 hand rails and failed to put any signs up so passengers including myself would come out and naturally lean or hold onto the rail and yes you guessed it – either their clothes stuck to the rail or the varnish stuck to your skin. As aforementioned although the Serenade is a nice vessel we would be more prone to cruise on the Oasis or Freedom class ships from now on – this is our preference. If you enjoy a more intimate one on one ship and mixing and meeting with other cruise passengers and by far more personable the crew then this is absolutely the ship class for you, as I said we have never had bad experience on RCCL ships with the crew although bigger ships may be a little less personal with the crew members we always find a few stand outs that we get immediately attached too and vice versa. The one huge difference we missed on the Freedom Class Ships that the Radiance Class Ships don’t have is the “Promenade Deck” it makes the ship seem like so much more with a lot more room to move around and more people to meet. Overall I would give this cruise a 4.15 out of 5.0 this does not include the Port of New Orleans as I feel the Cruise Line has no control over this operation   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Overall, cruise was okay. My 6th cruise with Carnival and my first time wondering if I should consider other cruise lines. Food: buffets were decent; Italian restaurant and pizza not as good as other ships We shouldn't have to ... Read More
Overall, cruise was okay. My 6th cruise with Carnival and my first time wondering if I should consider other cruise lines. Food: buffets were decent; Italian restaurant and pizza not as good as other ships We shouldn't have to dress up for the steakhouse... we were turned away because my husband wore shorts; these were 'dressy' shorts with a nice polo so on a "fun" cruise that should be okay right? We didn't go back. Don't waste $ on the "all inclusive" drink package. We did - and drank a lot (I thought) and yet when we counted up our drink tab, we could have spent $150 less without the Cheers package. Entertainment: This was our 2nd cruise on the Carnival Dream. Our first was 4 years ago, when it sailed out of Port Canaveral (near Orlando, FL). The Florida sailing was so much fun. The staff was more lively and there was a variety of music for ALL people. In addition to the standard pop, country, and hip hop options, there use to be a latin music band playing throughout the week. This was the highlight of our trip. There were people of all ethnicities enjoying the band and learning new dances. Porting our of New Orleans, there was a HUGE shift in entertainment. No more latin band. Just a lot of rap music each night; okay for a little while, but how about other genres to enjoy? The breakdancing team was sad, same moves over and over... no where as authentic or cool as the group out of Florida. On the plus side, the 'broadway' shows improved. Better singers and they even flew in special gymnasts. Comedians were one of the highlights of the trip. Ports: New Orleans is a cool place but I there's more for us to enjoy in Florida. Montego Bay, Jamaica - too far to enjoy the more popular excursions without giving up your full day; we took a taxi to Doctors Cave beach - best snorkeling experience ever and it was only $25 Grand Cayman - we did the Tiki beach excursion which was not the best beach area, very rocky. Cozumel - we planned an ATX (dirt buggy) excursion through ShoreTrips - fun but longer than planned, didn't have time for anything else Ship: Not as polished and clean as it was 4 yrs ago. We had a cove balcony room which we absolutely loved. No amenities this time - Carnival is really cutting back on the freebies (shavers, shave cream, toothpaste, etc.). Misc.: Each day there was a Hanukah service... yet there was no Christian service at all during the whole week. Interesting because this was Christmas week, big let down to not have this option. No Zumba or other free group fitness classes. Your on your own with the equipment or pay for a personal trainer. My 16 yr old son refused to participate in the teen club, calling it lame with everyone just sitting around playing video games.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
First, it doesn't take a lot to make me happy. Champagne at embarkation, free bottle of wine at steak house 1st night of cruise, attentive cabin steward, accommodating maitre'd and main dining room wait staff all made me happy. I ... Read More
First, it doesn't take a lot to make me happy. Champagne at embarkation, free bottle of wine at steak house 1st night of cruise, attentive cabin steward, accommodating maitre'd and main dining room wait staff all made me happy. I was a happy cruiser! Our cruise on the Carnival Dream over Christmas was a dream vacation! Throw in snow, Christmas carols in the atrium on Christmas Eve along w/ the children's Christmas program on Christmas night-well, that's the stuff of dreams and memories are made of! Second, in between we read, slept, and ate our way through the Lido buffet. The pasta bar tucked away above buffet (think up the stairs) and the Indian food at back of ship were hidden treasures waiting to be discovered! Discover them we did! Don't miss 'em! Third, the Lanai deck (deck 5) was a great place to walk every morning, people watch, and take sunrise pictures. I couldn't have asked for better cruise vacation! Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Cruise detail: back to back on NCL Dawn for Christmas and New Year's Eve 2014. Rooms: 11020 and 9000 Concierge: Kerabi Butler: Edward Cruise director: Dingo Dave Review Tweet version: The Dawn is a wonderful ship perfect for your ... Read More
Cruise detail: back to back on NCL Dawn for Christmas and New Year's Eve 2014. Rooms: 11020 and 9000 Concierge: Kerabi Butler: Edward Cruise director: Dingo Dave Review Tweet version: The Dawn is a wonderful ship perfect for your family vacation. She is not a new ship nor I don't think anyone working the ship would claim that she doesn't have some things that need improvement. The Dawn is like that old sweatshirt that you have. It's older maybe there's a tear in it but it's comfortable and it's warm and it's the first thing you grab when you come home on a cold winter day. That's the Dawn, comfortable and filled with warm people ready to help you. Review long version: Food: We ate in the main dining room, Le bistro, the Italian restaurant, the Chinese restaurant, buffet and Teppanaki. I did make reservations each morning for the desired restaurant. There were no pacing or service issues in any of the restaurants; in fact I would go as far as saying it was spectacular service. Biggest surprise was the Italian restaurant. I ordered something not on the menu and they created the most wonderful tasting eggplant creation. By far the best of my two weeks on the ship. I always found food that I wanted on the buffet. I primarily eat vegetarian style so the Indian dishes for me were very enjoyable. Highlight of the Indian dishes was the spinach with fried tofu, I could have eaten that all day long. Of course now that you've just read that I praised the spinach you might question my food savviness. Bottom line: no issues with the food, the service or the quality. Main areas of the ship overview: The ship was decorated for the two weeks for Christmas and for New Year's Eve. Midway through the New Year ’s Eve cruise they started taking down the Christmas decorations. There were a couple Christmas trees and several opportunities to have your pictures professionally taken in front of the trees. On Christmas eve there were Christmas carols in the atrium and Santa Claus arrived on Christmas morning handing out presents and taking photos with anybody that wanted to. When I didn't choose to sit on my balcony and wanted to go up on deck there was never an issue finding a chair. I did not see people reserving chairs for any long period of time. Tip: Front of the ship on deck 13 is a quieter area. Internet: The closer you were to the Internet café the faster the speed. I noticed when I was in my room with the door closed it was not as fast, connectable yes fast no. Tip: remember to logout. I saw several people in line complaining that they had additional minutes charge to them. They did not realize or know that they had to log out, the system does not automatically stop after your minutes have been used, it will continue to bill you. Fitness Room: I worked out every day sometimes twice. Once people had left the ship for the ports I would then run laps on the running track. I believe I figured out it's about five laps for a mile maybe a little bit more. All the equipment in the fitness room were operable and clean. There were weight machines, weights, treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, spin classes for a fee, Ab classes, stretch classes. yoga rooms for relaxation, stretching and individualized workouts. State rooms: If you are a family of four for me there is no better suite room than 11020. There's an amazing living room area, small bedroom with bathroom, and then a larger master bath and bedroom. Plenty of space for myself, husband, sister, and 20-year-old niece. Towel animals were made each night. The steward always changed where he put the towel animal. Sometimes in the small bedroom, the master bedroom, or hanging from the ceiling. It was fun! The second week of the back to back we were in room 9000. Just two of us this time. it's comfortable for two people. I'd be hard-pressed to say you can fit four adults in their comfortably. But what I like this room for is the balcony. The balcony seems as large as the room. We had a great time!. The service was wonderful. Tip: go to trivia, you might actually meet some great people and have a good time.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We are seasoned cruisers having been on 38 cruises. We booked the thanksgiving cruise with our two adult children and their wives on the 5th floor with windows. We had been on the Dawn when she was new and enjoyed it but this time was very ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers having been on 38 cruises. We booked the thanksgiving cruise with our two adult children and their wives on the 5th floor with windows. We had been on the Dawn when she was new and enjoyed it but this time was very much a disaster. Our wing with rooms 5232 and 5236 always smelled of sewer. Our steward was great. The room was clean but even on the first night we had lots of noise. We found out the galley was above us and below us were loud broken stabilizers. :(. We had some rough seas and about every 5 seconds we heard loud banging and vibrations. It was un bearable. We called three times asking for help. Nothing. The next day we went to guest services asking for a room change. We said we would take an inside room or just about anything to get sleep. Finally after begging them to come listen we got moved on a Thursday. We found the ship to often smell moldy and mildewed especially in dining areas and gathering areas. Drinks were awful. Very weak. The spa charges were horrendous with 18% gratuity and they wanted you to also tip! TV was not good. Our power went out in our new room and it took three hours to get it back on. The food was not good either. The thanksgiving dinner was the worst. Mushy dressing and very slow service. No pumpkin pie. Desserts were poorly made and tasteless. Embarkation was the worst we have experienced. It just was very disappointing. Workers told us that the clanging noise on that floor has been a problem for years and they were so apologetic. Anyway if you have a room on that floor be prepared to not sleep. NCL did away with the adult spa area and now charges!!! It is just not quality. We will not sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Our 3rd consecutive Christmas cruise, we thought we would be kicking it up a notch going from our previous cruises on the Carnival Conquest to a more $$$ trip on the the NCL Jewel. We were disappointed in finding both the cabin and bath ... Read More
Our 3rd consecutive Christmas cruise, we thought we would be kicking it up a notch going from our previous cruises on the Carnival Conquest to a more $$$ trip on the the NCL Jewel. We were disappointed in finding both the cabin and bath much smaller than on our similar class Carnival cruises. The service and interaction with our cabin steward was also lacking. I don't ever recall being called by name. The carpet in the cabin was worn, dirty and in need of replacement. The hallways were narrower then on any ship we have ever sailed on, and the one to our room was frequently cluttered with ice chests, totes of cleaning supplies and carts of towels making passage difficult. The menu choices in the dining room as well as the service (downright rude at times) was also less than what was offered by Carnival. One of the biggest failings was the dessert offering both in the dining room as well as the buffet line. No chocolate melting cake here! What was mostly offered was what we referred to as, jiggly gelatin-like desserts. Only after we had turned in our comment cards on the last day of the cruise did the assistant maitre d' visit our table in the room and offer us dessert choices one would expect to be served in the main dining room, selections they had sent to us from the ships' specialty restaurants. I'm sure those dining around us wondered where the heck the creme brûlée and Tiramisu came from! Vegetarian options were also limited. My daughter requested a simple garden salad and was told by the server that wasn't possible. We later found out the rule was "if it's on the ship, a guest can have it." We appreciated the thought that went into making sure everyone sanitized their hands before entering the buffet and restaurants. However, standing guard at entrances with a squirt bottle and saying "Washy Washy" for seven days was a bit overkill. There were some positives, however. We greatly enjoyed the extra touches throughout the trip. NCL did a great job bringing the Christmas spirit aboard. They offered a holiday show, Christmas candies, Christmas dinner, caroling, and broadcasted church services. They also offered flavored water and cold towels when returning from excursions. The entertainment was also excellent as was the embarkation and debarkation process. We also had no problem getting off the ship for excursions and had funk at all of our ports. We had a great time, but probably won't sail with Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Myself, 46, wife 42, son 13 son 3 decided to spend our thanksgiving cruising. We took this cruise this time of year to get our platinum status before carnival changed the vip policy. The seas were terrible, which was no fault of carnivals. ... Read More
Myself, 46, wife 42, son 13 son 3 decided to spend our thanksgiving cruising. We took this cruise this time of year to get our platinum status before carnival changed the vip policy. The seas were terrible, which was no fault of carnivals. 12'! It is very obvious in the cutbacks that carnival has made in the last two years. Im not sure if it has to do with the triumph and concordia incidents or what..... This was our tenth cruise with carnival, we have been on the biggest to the smallest of their fleet. We were expecting good things from a boat that just had 15 million dollars spent on upgrading it. Easiest way to show changes ive witnessed is simply listing them. 1. No waitstaff on lido to bring drinks. you want a drink go get it. 2. lounge and showroom are now one! terrible idea. chairs that slide and are stacked up to turn into a lounge at night. 3. sewerage smell on deck 4 that you could not handle! and several other areas of the ship. 4. I was taking platinum cruise but when we went to embark, I was issued a blue(first timer) card. Which by the way was not located in the vip lounge. So our embarkation process took longer than even the normal process and we werent even in a line. 5. debarkation was difficult for platinum as well instead of making it easier they herded all platinum member to the dining room and made us sit for half an hour. 6.Shows were terrible! there were only 8 dancers on the entire ship. Hard to put on much of a production with 8 people. 7. Cruise director Jamie was basically a boppy dancer. No personality kinda acted 12. 8. ship was hard to navigate and some areas of ship pretty hard to find actually. 9. Decks and floors were almost always wet. there is no drainage built into lido so when the pool sloshed from the waves the had guys with squeegies constantly pushing water away splashing all on areas where icecream and burgers are served. 10. There was no aft pool and only 1 little bitty pool on lido. So guess where the kids were? yep in the hot tubs! 11. Guest services were very rude to some people I saw, but not to me. 12. The midnight buffets and gala presentations are no longer existent! we were waiting on an elevator on the 5th floor and a big piece of metal ttrim work just fell off the roof. Luckily no one was under it. 13. The ship was obviously ruched back into service way too soon. There was still a lot of construction going on and a whole lot of repairs that needed to be made. 14. Our toilet would not flush at times and maybe 5-10 minutes after you tried to flush it it would do it all by itself. 15.We ate in the sunset dining room everynight. The waitstaff did not sing or perform. Not even the night when they tell you goodbye. 16. the bars were way understaffed. It took upwards of 10 minutes at times just to get waited on. And one bartender in the atrium gave our 13 yr old son a "virgin" pina coloda that was about as virgin as well........ 17. waterworks and sportsquare were pretty small and almost always taken over by the same kids. 18. The food on lido was terrible. The guys burgers were pretty good but were heart attacks on a platter! lol 19. The captains party was a real joke! it was basically the captain standing in the walkway in the casino and you could walk up and take a picture with him (with your own camera). No drinks or snacks or even formal gathering. 20. comedy show lounge is so small if you arent there 45 minutes before show you probably wont get a seat or will be forced to sit in back where you watch it on a monitor. 21. areas you used to could explore like on the front bow of the ship etc are off limits now. I could keep listing things but surely this gives you an idea. All this put on top of terrible weather, 12' seas and 1 port rained out. = pretty bad investment! This was our platinum cruise with carnival but probably our last. We will be using royal carribean in the spring and see what they are like. Carnival has definitely went to "get em on get tier money and get them out" mentality. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
This was the first 7-day sailing out of the US for the Sunshine, so it was loaded with loyal repeat cruisers. Over 200 passengers were Platinum. On top of that, it was a Thanksgiving cruise, and my 3 kids had the whole week off, so the ... Read More
This was the first 7-day sailing out of the US for the Sunshine, so it was loaded with loyal repeat cruisers. Over 200 passengers were Platinum. On top of that, it was a Thanksgiving cruise, and my 3 kids had the whole week off, so the ship was loaded with kids. Not a typical week at all. The weather was bad all week, so the seas were rough, especially on the first and last full days. As the former Destiny, the first cruise ship over 100K tons, the Sunshine has enough size to minimize the motion. It was never difficult to walk, and items were not sliding off flat surfaces, but some people felt seasick, just the same. We had just been on a cruise off Novia Scotia that was worse, so it did not bother me or my family. The second Fun Day at Sea was much better, and the sun even came out for a while. That day and the morning in Jamaica were the only times we saw the sun. That being said, it was not cold and did not rain much, so you could still relax in the pools and hot tubs on the lido deck with protection from the wind, and enjoy the new water slide. Wind, sometimes increased by the forward motion of the ship, complicated miniature golf on the top accessible deck. I give Carnival credit because we did not cancel any of our port visits, as many other ships had to do that week in the Caribbean. We also did not strand anyone in a port because the tenders could not bring them back, as I heard happened in nearby Belize that week. The worst that happened is that we anchored on the south side of Grand Cayman instead of in the Georgetown harbor in the SW corner of the island. The tender ride was just as short, but the Spotts Bay alternate cruise terminal is in a residential area so you have to take a taxi to really do anything. There are resorts and a public beach within walking distance, but I did not know that at the time. Anyway, the weather was too rough to want to go to a beach. The food was the standard Carnival 7-day cruise menu, which I love, with the addition of tom turkey on Thanksgiving night. My fourth Thanksgiving on Carnival. The turkey is good but you don't get to see the whole thing and carve it up the way you want, as you would at home. You also have to turn down a nice steak to order the turkey. Actually, they would bring you both, of course, but I feel like a pig doing that! The cruise director's entertainment staff did a yeoman's job of entertaining passengers who were inside the ship more than they probably expected to be that week. All three of the young women running the trivia and karaoke were affable and effective. For us as well as a crowd that grew every night, the highlight was the ship's rock and roll band with lead singer Criss Cain, right out of college on his first contract. His voice was phenomenal, and he energized the crowd to dance for hours from his stage in the new Ocean Plaza in the middle of the promenade deck. We skipped a lot of the production shows just to see his whole sets. Alas, Criss's Sunshine contract is over, but he has started another one on another Carnival ship. At first I thought it was a cheap maneuver that Carnival renamed the ship. I would not have even gone on it had it not been in New Orleans, one of the easiest ports to get to for us. After being on it for a week, I can see why they renamed it. The interior was very significantly redone. Not just remodeled but redone. For example, while the highest cabins were on deck 10 previously, cabins were added to the front of the ship on decks 11 and 12, and a new deck 13 was put on. Actually they call it 14. Thus, the weight should be higher than 100,000 tons now. Some of the differences, I noticed on the website before the trip, but most of them I didn't notice until we got there. Several times I thought, they couldn't have changed that. I must be remembering it wrong. But later in the week I found a deck plan of the old Destiny, and found that all of my suspicions were actually correct. The midship dining room where we ate on the Destiny, is now a single level dining room, unique among Carnival ships. On what used to be its second-level, they have substituted a library bar/game room, the piano bar, the up-charge steak place, and an up-charge sushi place. The atrium bar is round and in the center of the atrium, rather than triangular and up against the glass elevators like it used to be. Our cabin was steps away from that bar, which was my favorite place on the Destiny. Our cabin was a strange configuration, being on an outside wall but not having a window or porthole. I did not remember there being cabins on deck three before. It was a great location. When we entered the main show lounge in the front of the ship, I thought it had been reduced from three decks to 2. Well, that is why. They removed the bottom deck and stuck some cabins in under it. A Carnival ship designer realized that the forward main lounge space went unused after the second show every night. A large space in the new restaurant in the back of the Lido deck would also go unused after dinner. The Destiny's disco took up prime space on the promenade deck. The designer realized that the Destiny disco's space could be reused as is the highly successful Ocean Plaza on the dream class ships. The three-level show lounge on the Destiny was too cavernous a space for a nightclub, but if it were reduced to two decks, it would be more intimate, the designer thought. Instead of having fixed seating, the bottom floor could have seats that are moved away after the last show to reveal a larger area on which people could dance. The Cuban restaurant already has great ambiance for salsa dancing. The idea was pitched to superiors and made it up to the top. As a result, on the Sunshine, late-night dancing is now held alternately in the back of the Lido deck (in the Cuban restaurant) or in the front of the fourth deck. Without taking up any permanent space. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
This was our 13th cruise. All on carnival. This was our second trip on the Elation.We traveled from Mississippi to New Orleans Saturday morning. As VIP Platinum cruisers we found the embarkation to be quick and easy. We were on the ship ... Read More
This was our 13th cruise. All on carnival. This was our second trip on the Elation.We traveled from Mississippi to New Orleans Saturday morning. As VIP Platinum cruisers we found the embarkation to be quick and easy. We were on the ship and in our room within 10 minutes. We has plenty of time to enjoy lunch in the buffet before the lifeboat drill. We always dread this drill, but know its necessary. Next we changed and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon on the Serenity Deck. We had a Ocean view room on Upper Deck. Sunday was a beautiful day at Sea and we again enjoyed the Serenity Deck. We had no problems getting chairs there. We started each day with breakfast in the dining room and we enjoy meeting new people each day. Lunch was usually at the buffet and we always found something good. We check the menu posting outside the dining room to decide if we want to eat there at night and sometimes we eat elsewhere. Often the buffet had the same meals and is much quicker. We had lunch in the dinning room one day and it was very good. The first port was Progreso and we got off the ship and walked to the beach. The area has improved since our last visit there. Vendors did not pester us as bad as previously and we enjoyed a quiet day there. Cozumel is our favorite port. We walked to the taxi stand and took a cab to Paradise Beach. We have been there numerous times and always enjoy it. The price to get in $2.00 pp can't be beat. We have never had a problem getting a cab there or back. The cab is $14 each way for 1-4 people. Our only problem on this cruise was our cabin . We ended up with a handicap cabin. We didn't need this , but evidently the ship didn't need it for anyone else. Never Do This! if you don't need it. This room was inconvenient.The extra space needed for turning wheelchairs cuts back on closet space, there were no shelves in bathroom and because the door opens and closes automatically, you have to wait several seconds for it to close when you reenter the room . One night it wouldn't open and security spent 45 minutes trying to help us get into room The cabin stewart said the had problems with it before. It needs to be fixed! The crew on the ship was great as usual. Because this was such a short cruise we didn't try to get to each activity. We were so glad that the old guest talent show was back on the last night. That was always one of our favorite things. We found the Legends Show to be boring after seeing it about 8 times. Hope every ship is using the guest talent. Debarkation was so easy. We self assist and we were off the ship by 7:30 as platinum guest' Can't wait for our next cruise August 25th. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We have done River Cruises in Europe before, but this was our first in the USA, There are some differences in this inclusive cruise package depending on where you book - my friends booked through the National Trust and my wife and I ... Read More
We have done River Cruises in Europe before, but this was our first in the USA, There are some differences in this inclusive cruise package depending on where you book - my friends booked through the National Trust and my wife and I booked through Vacations To Go. My friends had an extra night in New Orleans at the Bourbon Orleans. We had just the one night at the Hilton Riverside included in the package and had to book the extra night on our own. We received a $700 discount plus a $100 Onboard credit. The American Queen docks right outside the Hilton. At Embarkation, our bags were tagged and collected at the Hotel and we didn't see them again until we were in our cabin. Our friend left her expensive carry on bag with the checked luggage at the Hotel and it never made it to her cabin - word to the wise, keep your carry on luggage, jewelry and documents with you. With flooding in the Upper Mississippi, we were facing a fast flowing current as we were running upstream. On our first night we had a generator problem - I never did find out how that affected the performance of the ship (or boat) however it necessitated our running ashore until repaired - apart from trimming a couple of Willows the boat suffered no apparent damage however we had to wait for the Coast Guard to come up to us and do an inspection before we were allowed to continue - as a consequence we were not able to stop at Oak Alley. Later, upriver, we had to also give up Helena, as our mooring area was underwater. Ship happens! Our cabin, #202, was great! especially after I saw the size of the cabins my friends were given. Check the size of your cabins - some are really small!. Check it out on the deck plan. Regina Charbonneau, who created the menus, was on board and supervised the kitchens and dining room. From what I have read there have been problems with service and food preparation on previous cruises and I think they, Regina in particular, are making a strong effort to improve food prep and service. I found the food to be very good - the only time I experienced a problem was when I was served a pasta entrée that was cold. The menu is varied and interesting. The Dining staff were obviously trying very hard to serve everyone promptly, however, as I know most of you who have travelled a lot have observed, we no longer have wine waiters, and the same guy is scrambling to put bread rolls on plates, get extra butter and pour wine - remember wine is complimentary, on this cruise, so I noticed that he was kept on the run refilling glasses that were emptying more quickly than if folks were paying for it , As a regular wine drinker, red wine in particular, I was quite pleased with the quality of the wine, as was my Australian wine afficianado table mate. The 640 miles of river between New Orleans and Memphis has a long, colorful and sometimes violent history from the Louisiana Purchase to the Civil War. The stops we were able to make were interesting, and as you probably know, 2 buses meet you at each stop and provide Hop On Hop Off free service, which was excellent - average wait time between stops was about 15 minutes. I find the river itself not very interesting, brown water and tree lined shores that varies little for the whole cruise, with the occasional Pulp mill or Chemical processing plant and of course the non stop barge traffic. Fortunately there is always plenty going on in the boat to keep you amused, when you are not eating! The evening entertainment was good and there were plenty of onboard activities including lectures from the onboard "Riverstorian". Excellent trip! I think it gets better each time as the staff gain more experience. You have all the amenities aboard that you would find on a Blue water cruise, and as one wag told me "The only Rock and Roll" is in the Piano Bar. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
My wife and I attended Mardi Gras for the first time, spending 3 days in New Orleans before our NCL cruise. The first day was at sea, very needed and welcome. But we immediately took advantage of the spa special. (Gloria and Noreen were ... Read More
My wife and I attended Mardi Gras for the first time, spending 3 days in New Orleans before our NCL cruise. The first day was at sea, very needed and welcome. But we immediately took advantage of the spa special. (Gloria and Noreen were excellent). The port of calls were all very enjoyable ... we dune buggeyed in Costa Maya, cave tubed and zip lined in Belize, island sightseeing in Roatan and Mexican cuisine cooking in Cozumel. All were NCL sponsored tour/excursions. We are will to pay a little extra for the guarantee of an endorsed excursion that will make sure we get back on ship on time. All of the excursions were well worth the money and the experiences were great memories. On board, we again took advantage of the "Chef's Table" experience. We had done two others on previous NCL cruises and looked forward to this one on the Star as well. (book early, it's a 1-time, limited person event). Chef Andrea was very interactive and made the evening even more enjoyable. There were only 11 of us at the dinner, which was a nine-course, wine-paired, spectacular dinner. We met new friends and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Then, we got invited to a galley tour with the chef for Saturday (our last day at sea). Another eye-opening, behind the scenes, tour and experience. The staff on the NCL Star were excellent. The shows/entertainment was great. We felt and were treated like family. We have already booked our next two cruises .... both with NCL. Love to cruise, especially with NCL :) :) Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Part I - Precruise A. Inception We are avid Caribbean cruisers. Two years ago, we spent Christmas and New Year's in the Caribbean on the Celebrity Mercury (which, sadly, sailed for the last time under that name in February 2011); ... Read More
Part I - Precruise A. Inception We are avid Caribbean cruisers. Two years ago, we spent Christmas and New Year's in the Caribbean on the Celebrity Mercury (which, sadly, sailed for the last time under that name in February 2011); last year, we spent Christmas in the Caribbean on Celebrity's Millennium; and this year, we wanted to do it again. We looked at all cruise lines, and wanted another 14-day cruise, but the way that Christmas and New Year's are on the calendar this year, a 14-day cruise would've taken our son out of too much school, so we booked a 7-day cruise. We settled again on either Royal Caribbean or Celebrity (the only lines we have cruised on) because of their itineraries and schedules. We prefer to drive to the East Coast for our cruises, but that wasn't an option this year. B. Cruise Critic We use the community chat boards on cruisecritic.com extensively for cruise port hints and information. This review is my way of sharing. Thank you to everyone who shared in their reviews and roll calls. C. Choice of Route Our route was out of New Orleans (very excited about that again. New Orleans is a wonderful city!), to Falmouth, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico; and George Town, Grand Cayman. We have been to most of these ports of call before, but not in a while, so we were excited about seeing them again. We have been to Jamaica before, but not to Falmouth, so that should be interesting. D. Choice of Cruiseline and Ship We selected Royal Caribbean because we found out during our Celebrity Cruise last year that if we spent even 1 day on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, we would be Diamond members. Navigator, a Voyager Class ship, is a 138,000 ton ship with 15 decks, 10 pools & whirlpools, and 16 bars, clubs & lounges. It has a rock wall, a basketball court, an ice-skating rink, and a mini-golf course. Capacity is 3,114 passengers plus a crew of 1,185. It was launched in 2002, is registered in the Bahamas and has a CDC score of 96. E. Choice of Airline This was pretty easy. We picked the cheapest, most direct flight from Milwaukee to New Orleans. I have lots of miles on Delta, so we used them to book the 4 tickets, so they cost us only $40 out of pocket total. Flying hints: 1. Don't fly if you have a choice. I suggest driving if you can. 2. Go non-stop if you fly. Each connection increases the possibility of lost luggage and additional flight delays. 3. Consider flying in to your departure port one day early. This can be a major stress reducer! 4. Don't select your airline seats without first visiting SeatGuru.com. They have detailed airplane seating plans and hints about each seat for almost every plane flown by major airlines. F. Choice of cabin Generally, the lower your cabin and the more central its location, the less you will feel the movements of the ship. We love rocking and so did not mind being closer to the back of the ship. We always stay in inside cabins (unless something strange happens) because it is nice to be able to sleep in without worrying about the sun shining in the window. A recommendation to anyone in an inside cabin is to bring a clock. It can be very disconcerting to wake up and have absolutely no idea what time it is. We were in cabins 7345 & 7347, both interior staterooms (N). My husband and I were in one and our 17-year-old son and his 15-year-old friend (a first-time cruiser) was in the other. Royal Caribbean allows minors to stay together in a cabin if it is adjacent to their guardians' cabin. It took a few requests to ensure that we were in the right cabins (they originally wanted to book one adult and one minor in each cabin), but it ended up working out. G. Price We went to a local Travel Agent who specializes in cruises (as we always do for cruises). The cost, because it was over the holidays, was high at just over $1,000 per person. The flights were $40 for all four of us because I used my Delta miles to pay for them. Additionally, because of when we booked, we received a $100 on-board credit (OBC) for each cabin, so that was nice. I also use the Royal Caribbean Credit Card, so we got another $250 OBC from that. H. Passports We all have passports and encountered no problems. I did bring extra documentation for my son's friend. I brought a detailed (notarized) letter from his parents saying that we could take him on this specific ship, that we could take him into these specific countries, that we could make medical decisions for him, that we would supervise him, and that we would be able to sign for permission for onboard activities (like climbing the rock wall). I got all of this information from the RCCL website, but it wasn't easy to find. I. Insurance We also purchased travel insurance because we never know when our son might wind up in a cast or one of our aging parents might have a health crisis. J. Prebooking Excursions We booked all of our excursions on our own. I did research beforehand and we decided what to do from there. I do not like using the ship's excursions because they are usually expensive; I do recommend them, though, for novice cruisers. K. Packing We packed for 2 formal nights (we all brought nice outfits -- the boys wore what they wore to their Homecoming dance, my husband wore a shirt and tie (and pants) and I brought nice clothes), and the rest at various levels of casual (non-jean pants and nice shirts for all of us). Additionally, we brought enough clothing to cover us during the day for 7 days. This is less than you think because clothing rarely gets really dirty and we tend to re-wear clothes a few times before it goes in the "to be washed at home" luggage. (NOTE: My son has apparently outgrown the "re-wear your clothes" phase and decided to pack different clothes for every day. We made him carry them all in his luggage.) Among the most helpful "extra items" we packed were: extension cords and power strips for each room (usually, there are only 2 outlets in the room and we have lots to charge), alarm clock, bug lotion, sunscreen ranging from 100 to 15 spf, highlighters, beach bag, and water shoes. We also brought Christmas decorations for each room, as well as Cruise Critic door signs printed off of the roll call lists. Part II - Embarkation A. The Port We flew into New Orleans via Atlanta and arrived at 3:30pm the day before the cruise departed. You have a choice of buying transfers from Royal Caribbean, catching a taxi or hiring a car. We used taxis to and from our hotel (in the French Quarter). B. Security Processing and Boarding We arrived at the pier at 2:30pm, hoping that there would be no wait, but there was a long line for security screening. But because we were Emerald Club members, we bypassed all of that and had absolutely no line. Once through security, there were separate lines for non-Crown & Anchor Society (C&AS) members and Gold C&AS members, and all other C&AS members. All lines were kinda long and fed into a table of folks processing your boarding documents. Assuming you had already completed all the documents requested online, signing in and getting room keys (which is also your cruise ID, and ship credit card) took no more than 10 minutes. There was a quick wait for the embarkation cruise photo (which we skipped). On-board and our cruise cards were quickly data-encrypted with our images at one of three stations. Once they handed us our cards we found ourselves on the 4th floor aft lobby of the ship. It took a total of 60 minutes from the time we arrived at the pier to our arrival in our cabins. I was surprised that I was never asked for the paperwork for my son's friend. At no point in the cruise (embarkation, disembarkation or anywhere in between) did anyone ask for it. However, I have heard from others that this is not always the case, so I would recommend that anyone taking a minor non-family member get the required paperwork. C. Explore The Cabins We were in cabins 7345 & 7347, side-by-side, inside category N cabins in the back of the ship. The cabins are each 150.7 square feet and were set up for my husband and I to sleep in one big bed and my son and his friend to each have their own. The bathroom has enough room, and the shower was very nice. Our bathroom had a reasonably large shower (no bath), hair dryer, large mirror, sink, toilet, and some pretty decent storage. Something new since the last time we were on a ship: a nightlight we could use in the bathroom or main cabin. We used it in the bathroom so we wouldn't have to turn the lights on at night. Hangers were provided in the cabin, as was a welcome gift: a bottle of Evian water, some key lime cookies and a small package of candied fruit. The room safe is located in the cabinet. In the closet there are shelves for organizing your stuff. The desk featured a number of informational brochures including that day's event newsletter. The cabins also have a TV, thermostat, phone (but no clock, although you can set your phone for an automated wake-up call), and a mini-bar (small refrigerator). Being Emerald Club members, we requested and were given robes for use on board. We also received a discount booklet with coupons for beverages, Johnny Rockets, photos, internet, laundry, casino, bingo, gift shop, art, jewelry temporary tattoos, the spa, etc. Having signed up for the Meet & Mingle party, we received invites to the following day's gathering. Being members of the C&AS, we were also given invitations to a number of different events during the cruise. Our stateroom attendant, Orson from St. Vincent & the Grenadines, did a wonderful job throughout our cruise. D. Tour of Ship and Search For Food We almost found sustenance in the Windjammer Cafe on the deck 11 for a 3:45pm buffet lunch, but the Cafe closed for the 4:00pm Muster until 6:30pm. This was inconvenient as I hadn't eaten lunch and now could not find any until later in the evening. It is possible that the Promenade Cafe (on Deck 5) was open, but I wasn't aware of it at the time. The ship is well laid out with ample sets of stairwells and elevators. I tried to take the stairs as much as possible (and pretended that this was sufficient exercise to cover my food intake). E. Muster/Sailaway About one hour prior to leaving port, we participated in the mandatory lifeboat drill. The drill went smoothly and lasted 40 minutes. We are very happy at the changes that have been made in the muster drill as we no longer have to get our lifejackets and wear them to the muster, but we did have to stand outside waiting for everyone to show up. It was a good opportunity to meet people. We had a Cruise Critic get-together at the Sky bar right after muster. I asked people to wear red so that we could identify each other. I also brought nametags. About 10 people showed up -- it was a great opportunity for some of the teenagers to meet each other and start hanging out. It takes 7 hours to get through the Mississippi River from NOLA to the Gulf. The scenery was magnificent on the way out. F. Dinner -- 8:30pm Late Seating We selected the late seating. We were seated at table 366 with seating for 8 at an oval table on the lower floor (3) of the Nutcracker Restaurant. Our server, Vipin from India, and his assistant, Kiara from Peru, did a very good job throughout our cruise. Our tablemates were a dating couple (in their 20s) and their parents who spend ½ the year in Wisconsin (which is, I suspect, how we were paired up because we are from Wisconsin). They were delightful people and dinner conversation never lagged. The two-story restaurant has a seating capacity of 1,000+ passengers at each seating. Of note: jeans, t-shirts, tank tops, swimsuits, robes, and bare feet are prohibited in the Dining Restaurant at all times. Shorts are permitted at lunch only. However, we did see a number of people wearing jeans (our teenagers did on a regular basis), shorts and t-shirts for dinner even on formal nights. Part III - Food! Royal Caribbean's meals met our expectations. There was good variety. There are 2 specialty restaurants on the ship--Chops Grille Steakhouse and Portofino Italian Restaurant. There is a per-person fee for these restaurants. There is a for-fee Johnny Rockets and Ben & Jerry's. Free food is available in the main dining room, The Windjammer, Jade, Cafe Promenade and room service (for-fee late at night). We did not feel the need to eat at any of the specialty restaurants for dinner because the food in the main dining room was sufficient. A. Always Available On the Vitality menu every day were the following items: Traditional Caesar Salad, Linguini with Pomodoro Sauce, Broiled Filet of Atlantic Salmon, Grilled Chicken Breast with Rosemary, Grilled Black Angus Steak, Top Sirloin with Herb Butter, and sides of Mashed Potatoes, Rice, and Vegetable of the Day. B. Our Favorite Breakfast Items I enjoyed the fresh-squeezed orange juice (US$4), but I also loved the availability of English muffins and corned beef hash at the buffet. There was a large variety of foods, including many Asian foods, for breakfast. I liked the Mango Water, too. C. Our Favorite Lunch Items I enjoyed tremendously the Indian food at the Jade restaurant. There was also hamburgers and mashed potatoes, and chicken. D. Our Favorite Appetizer My son liked the Onion Tart, while I appreciated the wide variety of salads. We all loved the escargot and the endless supply of bread that day (to sop up all of the garlic butter!). E. Our Favorite Soups My son loved the cold soups, while I liked the warm ones. My son's friend declared the Potato with jalapeo to be a winner. F. Our Favorite Salads All of them. Honestly, the focaccia and tomato was great, but so were all the others. G. Our Favorite Entrees Any fish -- including the sea bass and the sole -- was great. The linguine was appreciated by the boys, as was the lobster tail. I loved the lamb shank and the Christmas Day turkey dinner. H. Our Favorite Desserts Cherries jubilee, crème brulee, and anything chocolate. I. Buffet I loved the warm scones available in the Windjammer. They were usually only there around 2:30-3:30pm. I also enjoyed the small sandwiches available in the Cafe Promenade on the 5th floor. The availability of Indian food was appreciated. J. Room Service We didn't use room service. Part IV - Entertainment A. Movies All the movies were shown in the Cinema. They were mostly releases from about a year ago. We did not watch any movies in the Cinema. B. Shows The Celebrity Theatre is gorgeous, with comfortable seating and good sight lines. We did not see any shows in the theater. C. Casino Large casino filled with the usual. We did not use the casino. D. Spa I did not use the spa. The prices are just too darn high. E. Outdoor Pools and Hot tubs. They were busy all day when we were at sea and the air was warm. The pools are chlorinated salt water. The hot tubs are fresh water. There are fresh water showers near each pool and hot tub. We liked that the hot tubs stayed open late -- after midnight. F. Indoor Pool and Hot Tubs The indoor pool is for adult use only. The pools are chlorinated salt water. The hot tubs are fresh water. There are fresh water showers near each pool and hot tub. We liked that the hot tubs stayed open late -- after midnight. G. In-room TV There were a number of closed-circuit ship channels and satellite stations (Global CNN, ESPN, Eye on CBS, Sky News, and a few others) available on the TV in the cabin. Pay-per-view movies were also available. You can also order room service and check your current account on the TV as well. H. Holiday Stuff The ship was decked out in its Christmas finery with a large (huge!) tree on the Promenade on deck 5 and wreaths hung there, as well. There was a large Christmas display (complete with running toy train) at the entrance to the Windjammer. There were parades every evening and Santa arrived on Christmas Day with toys for everyone from age 0-17. On Christmas Eve day, we, as Emerald members, received a plate of chocolate-dipped strawberries and cookies in our room. It was a pleasant surprise. Part V - Cruise Critic Get-Togethers A. Sailaway Party As a group, the Cruise Critic folks had arranged (on the boards) to get together at sailaway at the Sky Bar on Deck 11. About 10 showed up and we had a great time. B. Meet & Mingle Party We signed up for the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle gathering on the RCCL web site. We received an email confirmation that a party would take place. Upon our arrival in our cabin, we received an envelope containing an invitation to the party, set for 11:30 am on Sunday (our first day at sea). At the appointed time we arrived at the Dungeon. In total, about 40 folks attended. We had a great time meeting and greeting our fellow cruise critics. Light refreshments were provided. C. Slot Pull We did not arrange a slot pull. D. Cabin/Poker Crawl We did not arrange a cabin/poker crawl. Part VI - Health Concerns A. Smoking Smoking was permitted in certain areas on the ship. Although we are very sensitive to smoke, we could not detect any smoke smell in our cabin. The only place that the allowed smoking really disturbed me was in the Two Poets pub on Deck 5. Because this is an enclosed space, you could smell the smoke in many places on the Deck 5 Promenade. They had every right to smoke in the appointed areas of the ship, and unfortunately they did. B. General Cleanliness of the Ship In a word: impeccable. You could not take a stroll without witnessing some type of cleaning going on at all hours. The ship was constantly being cleaned: floors, walls, fixtures, everything! C. Viruses Although some other ships were hit with Norovirus (and it made the news) over this time, I heard of no such outbreak on our ship. E. Seasickness The seas were choppy on the last day, but I didn't notice anyone in distress. Part VII - Ship Notes A. Ship and Crew We were very impressed with the ship and crew and they were all very friendly and competent. The ship and furnishings were in very good shape. She was very clean. B. The Shops There was something on sale each day. Realize that if you forget something, you can buy it on the ship, but necessities are expensive. Deodorant, mints, dental floss, candy bars are all available, but not at a price you might want to pay. My advice: remember to bring the essentials, even if that includes M&Ms! C. Internet Service The good news: there are plenty of computer terminals with internet access on the ship. The bad news: it is expensive. D. Children Being a holiday cruise, our ship had a number of children on board. They behaved very well. Part VIII - The Ports We visited three ports. A. Falmouth, Jamaica There really is not much to do in Falmouth. Falmouth is good only in its proximity to both Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Because we did not want to sit on buses or in taxis for a long time, we did not schedule an outing. Instead, we wanted to help the local economy by shopping in the straw market just outside of the gated and fenced-in port. We wandered and bought a few things. I was not feeling well (too much heat) and so I went back to the ship early and my husband and the two teens kept shopping. At some point, my husband noticed a Jamaican police officer (there were dozens in view all around the port) taking too much interest in how much money he was carrying. Fearing a confrontation with an armed man, my husband took the boys and their shopping inside the port. We did get many Jamaican craft items before then and did enjoy the port. B. George Town, Grand Cayman We tendered off the ship at about 10:30am in Grand Cayman and found a bunch of people selling Stingray City tours. We booked one for US$40 per person, including transportation to and from the boat, 45 minutes at Stingray City, 45 minutes at a coral reef (snorkeling), snorkeling equipment, and non-alcoholic beverages. We left at 11am and were back by 2pm. It was a good trip with great experiences. C. Cozumel, Mexico We were late getting into Cozumel because of a medical situation on the ship that forced us to return to Grand Cayman immediately after leaving the port. We stayed an hour later in port, though, in an attempt to make up the time. We left the ship and caught a taxi to Paradise Beach. There, we hung out for about 4 hours. The cost to get to the beach was US$14 for a taxi of 4 people. The cost to get in was US$2 if you just wanted a chair and access to the beach, toilet, changing rooms, and pools; it was US$14 if you wanted to also play on their floating climbing things in the water, kayak, and bungee jump on the trampoline. No one bothered us on the beach and I enjoyed myself sitting under the palm trees. We had lunch which was US$91 including 15% tip (already included). Lunch was 2 smoothies, 1 daquiri and 1 margarita, ceviche platter, nacho platter, and 2 large chicken burritos. It was easy to catch a cab back (US$14) to the International Pier and then shop a bit (Los Cinco Soles has a branch at the pier now, along with many other shops) before we got back on the ship. I. Days At Sea Between ports, we had three at sea days. They were good, although the first and last days were a bit chilly (in the 70s) and windy, so sunbathing wasn't a given. J. Speakers/Entertainment We really didn't pay much attention to these on this trip. Part IX - Tipping The service personnel on Royal Caribbean receive meager wages and rely on your tips for income. While Royal Caribben says it is customary to offer gratuities to the ship's personnel who service you on the voyage, it really is expected, and it's something you should figure into your cruise budget. Our tips were paid on our cruise charge which was what our personnel preferred (we asked) rather than cash. We did tip extra to everyone for their good work. On our evaluation, we also included the names of people who had gone that extra mile for us. We have heard in past cruises that this is a great way to recognize people and it can result in a monetary bonus for people whose names are written down often. Part X -- Crown & Anchor Society On this cruise, we were select members and so we received a "Welcome Letter" which invited us to a events on the cruise. If you have taken a previous voyage and are not a member of the Crown & Anchor Society, sign up. It's free. Benefits include a express lines at embarkation, priority disembarkation, some small cabin welcome gifts, very minor casino, wine and spa discounts, a cocktail party, and upgrades (whenever possible). Some exclusions apply. Part XI - Disembarkation and Customs A. Disembarkation Disembarkation ("exiting of the ship at the end of your cruise"). Breakfast was served on the buffet and in the restaurant. Disembarkation went smoothly. Earlier in the week, everyone completed surveys which were used to prioritize passengers. Clearly those folks needing to catch plane and train connections or who were on escorted tours in New Orleans had highest priority. Crown & Anchor Society members had priority within their color group. Color-coded disembarkation luggage tags were issued to all cabins, and passengers were instructed to place the tags on their luggage and put it outside their cabins prior to 11:00pm Friday night. We were self-disembarking which meant we carried all of our luggage (not easy with 4 backpacks, 5 carry-ons and only 4 people, but we made it. We met on the 4th floor at 7:45am after breakfast and were off the ship, through customs and immigration and outside the pier by 8:30am. B. Customs US citizens are permitted 1 liter of alcohol and $800 worth of Duty Free goods per person. If under the limit, all you needed to do was to declare the total value. Anything greater had to be itemized (declared) and a duty paid, if requested. C. Transportation Options to Airport There were transfers available through the cruise line which would take you on bus to the local airport, taxis were available, as were hotel shuttles. We chose to take a taxi and it was $62 (with tip) for 4 people from the cruise terminal to the airport. D. New Orleans Airport Upon arrival at the airport, we proceeded to the Delta check-in. It took us less than 15 minutes to turn in our bags and less than 10 minutes to clear security. Delta charges $25 per checked bag (of less than 50 lbs) for the first checked bag per person. We checked 1 bag for $25. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
EMBARKATION: We flew non-stop from Washington,D.C. to New Orleans on Dec.21 and stayed with our children and grandchildren at the Marriott Springhill Suites in the warehouse district. We particularly like Springhill Suites because they ... Read More
EMBARKATION: We flew non-stop from Washington,D.C. to New Orleans on Dec.21 and stayed with our children and grandchildren at the Marriott Springhill Suites in the warehouse district. We particularly like Springhill Suites because they include a free breakfast. The Hotel is close enough to the pier so that our kids just walked with their luggage to the pier. We took a taxi, left our luggage with the porters and were on board the ship within fifteen to twenty minutes..best embarkation ever!! We loved sailing on the Mississippi River..much more interesting than going right into the ocean. SHIP INTERIOR: The Navigator of the Seas is still a beautiful vessel! We sailed a few years ago on her sister ship, Explorer of the Seas, so we knew our way around at once. Our staterooms were on deck three, oceanview..we had four cabins side by side...our daughter and her husband had connecting cabins with their three children which is a perfect arrangement, because, among other things, it allows them to have two bathrooms. The cabins are beautifully designed, with plenty of storage behind mirrors, shelves in the closets and great lighting! Our cabin attendant was fine, and did the towel animals almost every evening which is always entertaining. They were especially cute in our grandchildren's cabin. We really did not ask for anything special except for a bucket of ice each day, however, our grandkids' cabin did require a bit more effort. DINING ROOM: We were at table #291 and table #294. There were twenty of us altogether in our party, all cousins, who had decided to take this cruise. My travel agent was able to link the two tables, so we had two oval tables together on deck three in the Nutcracker Dining Room. Our server, Ivor, and his assistants, Robert and Ruben were FABULOUS!!! This was the best service we have ever had on any cruise and the dining room experience can make or break a cruise! The food is adequate..not gourmet, but tasty! The soups are superb, especially the cold fruit soups, and the desserts were always good. They had lobster tails two nights, which were fine, and they had prime rib, which was also very good. They also offer a menu for those who are trying to be calorie conscious, which is quite satisfactory. We did not use any of the specialty restaurants although one of my grandchildren went to Johnny Rockets, which was just okay! ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment on this ship was my greatest disappointment. I have the feeling that Royal Caribbean is using their entertainment budget to enhance the programs on their newer and larger ships, and are neglecting their older ships. The performers are talented, but the productions were not worthy of their talent. The costumes were cheap, there were no sets and until the third program, I did not even know they had an orchestra. The ice show was the only show that was really professionally done and it was excellent!!! The Schooner Bar also had a pianist with an amazing repertoire and he packed the place every night!! MISCELLANEOUS: The only port we had not been to was Jamaica, which was okay, but the guides never forgot to remind us that they wanted to be tipped. We went to Paradise Beach in Cozumel, which is the best beach of all and the most reasonable for what you get, and in the Caymans we went to the Royal Palms Beach Club, where our daughter had reserved a cabana and four beach chairs in advance for $100. It was expensive but lovely. The hotels on the Caymans do not give day passes at Christmas, so there were not too many options since we had already done the Stingray thing. Our disembarkation was easy. We had an eleven o'clock flight back to D.C. so we arranged for an early disembarkation..the process is not quite as organized as the embarkation, but we purchased transfers for a quick bus ride via Royal Caribbean, and went quickly through customs. This was really our best cruise ever and can't wait to sail again!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This is our 7Th Carnival cruise and we decided to book for Christmas. A bit different as usually we are "off season" cruisers. We went with the Conquest to check out the "2.0" upgrades, which didn't disappoint. ... Read More
This is our 7Th Carnival cruise and we decided to book for Christmas. A bit different as usually we are "off season" cruisers. We went with the Conquest to check out the "2.0" upgrades, which didn't disappoint. I'm a good news person so here goes, the shows were shorter and available twice throughout the sailing..that was great because you could plan other stuff do to and still catch shows later. LOVED the Alchemy bar, great drinks on the menu, plus the bartenders made things not on them that were really outstanding. Can't wait for that to hit all the ships! Loved Guys burger, lines moved really well thru there, the Blue Iguana lines were slower because they made the tortillas right then. We always enjoy dining options on Carnival and this time was no different. I liked the pizza set up better, seemed faster to me, never waited over 10min for pizza. one of the best things about Carnival is just how friendly the employees are. I like being greeted by my name and it gave me incentive to remember the names of folks we dealt with directly. on Christmas the YTD was backed up and I really liked seeing the Maitre D step in and help bus and re-set up tables... everyone worked really hard to make sure that things ran smoothly. We booked our room on the panorama deck and if you've got a choice to do that, I'd highly recommend it--only one set of elevators and your only 1 set of stairs down to the Lido deck. it's quiet too, you can't hear any of the music from the Lido! we booked it all over the ship from our room and never had any issues getting the stairs or elevators. gonna go with a resounding "thumbs up" for the Conquest. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Let me begin by saying it has been several years since we have chosen Carnival for our cruise vacations. Why? In 2007 I reached out to Carnival for a quote on a sailing for my family of 22 persons out of New York! Never got a reply! We ... Read More
Let me begin by saying it has been several years since we have chosen Carnival for our cruise vacations. Why? In 2007 I reached out to Carnival for a quote on a sailing for my family of 22 persons out of New York! Never got a reply! We eventually chose a cruise on NCL. A $25,000.00 cruise that Carnival didn't seem to think was worth calling me back about! My experience with NCL has been documented and, let's just say, we will not be aboard any of their ships in the future. That's a different review published here on Cruise Critic 5+ years ago! Back to the Carnival Conquest. We left NJ on 12-23-2012 at about 7:45AM and flew to New Orleans where we were met at the airport by a representative who was quite nice and she immediately got the two of us and our luggage to the "Transfer Station" around 11:00AM NOLA time. About a half hour later we were on a bus ride to the New Orleans Cruise Terminal. The driver ( I wish I remembered his name ) was a self appointed tour guide and "football analyst" along the way! A really nice person who made the trip both relaxing and somewhat comical as well. The New Orleans Cruise Terminal experience was somewhat typical of any we have experienced over the years. No problems at all. We were checked in, given our key cards and waited about half an hour until we were able to board the Conquest. Again, all went well! It took less than an hour more and at about 12:00PM we were in our cabin with luggage arriving there in less than 20 minutes or so later. Staeroom 9284, Lido Deck, is a balcony cabin on the Starboard side of the ship. Really quite close to the Lido Pool area and Cezzanne buffet as well as Guy's Burgers and a couple of bars and The Blue Iguana taco stand. I generally look for this location on any cruise since I love to just walk out and wander around and my darling other half usually prefers lounging with a book near the main pool area of any ship. It's also nice to be able to go for a cup of coffee, light breakfast, ice cream or a refreshing glass of lemonade without having to travel several decks by elevator or stairs. Well worth the nominal upgrade cost associated with this class of stateroom. The Lido area is also home to the "Seaside Theatre" which had something showing 24 hours a day. And, yes, they actually showed somewhat current movies in the evenings. The stateroom itself was "tired" to put it nicely. Stained carpeting and couch. Chipped wood on the vanity and closets, which there were plenty of. Just a general lack of upkeep seemed to be the problem even though this ship was refurbished not that long ago. We had chosen "Your Time Dining" which was restricted to the Renoir Dining Room, lower level. This presented no problem at all. Dining began at 5:45PM and there were no real lines any evening. We ate there 6 out of the 7 nights. Wait staff was excellent overall with special kudos to Rena's team. We were served by them on five occasions. Now, the little woman almost became actual friends with the bar waitress, Agata. This young lady from Poland had only been working aboard the Conquest for about 4 weeks. No prior cruise ship experience! But, believe us, you would never have known that. She was excellent! The menu was lacking in any variety of selections and the food was not of the caliber once served on a Carnival ship. Something that had changed since our last cruises with Carnival. A downward trend in dining experience! We will now take a look back at the shows we saw in the Toulouse Lautrec Lounge. Granted, we only went twice but it appeared that there were only three productions you could have seen. They just kept switching the show times around so that one was early and one was late each evening. The group of performers tried really hard to be as entertaining as they could be. Some were somewhat accomplished but, overall, the shows lacked any real appeal. The background sets were phenomenal. We did attend the early "Family Friendly" comedy shows in the Degas Lounge "Punchliner Comedy Club". Two very excellent comedians that kept the audience laughing for the 30 or 40 minute shows they did. We never went to the later shows which were adult oriented. Probably just as good I would think! The Conquest offers 24 hour pizza, soft drinks and ice cream. Some of this is available aft on Lido deck adjacent to the Sky Pool & Bar. The "Fun Shops" are stocked nicely with a variety of toiletries, liquor selections, apparel and jewelry as well as many souvenirs. Shore excursions are plentiful, as they are on any cruise. And just as pricey as always! There did seem to be a lack of coordination by the Carnival Excursion folks. They directed us one day to meet in The Toulouse Lautrec Lounge prior to them escorting us to the tenders that would bring us ashore in Grand Cayman. You guessed correctly if you thought that there would be no one there when we arrived. We found our own way to the proper deck and boarded one of the many tenders needed to bring people to land. In retrospect, all of the shore excursions were OK except for the outrageous pricing! But, in order to be assured you were not left in any port due to tardiness on your part, it is advisable to use the cruise line tours. The wife did get to do something she wanted to do for years. She rode a dolphin in Cozumel! That particular site was extremely professionally run! Debarkation was a dream! We were off of the Conquest about 45 minutes prior to the scheduled time we were given. Quickly got our luggage and were through Customs and out to a cab within 20 minutes. We were staying in New Orleans at The Hilton Riverside Hotel, about 4 blocks and a 5 minute cab ride away. Arrived at the hotel around 10:00AM. Outstanding! Carnival Cruise Lines did let us down on this vacation to some degree, but overall, the cruise went well with no disasters of any sort. Would we return to Carnival. Possibly! But future cruises may, perhaps, be with other cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click