2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
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 2013
My wife and I were extremely excited about this cruise on Royal Caribbean, as it was many years since we were on an RCI Ship. Our two previous cruises in 2013 were on the Carnival Dream and the Carnival Glory. Together my wife and I have ... Read More
My wife and I were extremely excited about this cruise on Royal Caribbean, as it was many years since we were on an RCI Ship. Our two previous cruises in 2013 were on the Carnival Dream and the Carnival Glory. Together my wife and I have cruised 30 times on multiple cruise lines. Embarkation in New Orleans was wonderful. We got on the ship and settled within 30 minutes. We heard great things about the Serenade and it's recent refurbishment but found the ship to be tight in public areas and not easy to pass through them. People with hoverrounds driving drunk, running over peoples toes and just pure rudeness. What really surprised us was the difference in the employees on RCCL versus Carnival. Carnival has their customer service onboard their ships down! The Royal Caribbean employees almost gave the attitude that they just did not want to be there. We never saw them polishing the metal rails, cleaning or anything. Our cabin steward did not service our cabin every day either. The "little" things that make it special were certainly lacking on RCCL. No towel animals every night, no turn down service every night, no chocolate at all on the pillows. In the dining room there was an upcharge for lobster or steak at dinner and the food was just so, so. The casino staff were rude and inconsiderate. We are certainly not impressed with Royal at this point and although we have great tatus with them, we are certainly going to look at Carnival first, then others and if the price is right, we may consider going back to Royal, but it would have to be a great savings. If Royal would go back to their old ways of customer service and "WOWing" the customers, we might consider travelling on them again. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
I had the pleasure of taking a cruise recently (March 24) on board the Norwegian Star to the Caribbean out of New Orleans. This cruise was part of a casino promotion for my wife and I and there were a lot of people on board with similar ... Read More
I had the pleasure of taking a cruise recently (March 24) on board the Norwegian Star to the Caribbean out of New Orleans. This cruise was part of a casino promotion for my wife and I and there were a lot of people on board with similar promotions. It was a wonderful cruise and I will tell you about the positives and a couple of negatives below. Embarkation: We took a cab from a local Marriott that was about 1 mile away. Getting on board was a breeze. My wife and I arrived at about 12:45 and there was a security line that was about 15 minutes long. After that we got our IDs and went right on to the ship. It took a while however, to get our luggage. The first piece arrived at about 4:00 and, after a phone call from me, the second arrived at about 8:00. The steward said he found it all the way down the hall where it didn't belong. Stateroom: Our cabin was clean and we felt very comfortable there during the entire week. The balcony was certainly big enough for the two of us. The thermostat worked perfectly as it got a little warm at times and the air conditioning kicked right on. The bedding and the pillows were very comfortable as well. Of course, the water never got cold enough for brushing teeth but that's the way it is on every cruise I've been on. Dining: The ship has five or six specialty restaurants for a fee, but we only ate in one of them. We tried Ginza (Japanese) on the last night and we were not disappointed. The fee was 15.00 but my wife had only sushi, so they waived the cover charge for her. Of course we had to pay for the sushi but the prices were not bad at all. The entire bill for us with the tip and cover charge was only 32.00. We had dinner in the main dining room (Versailles) the first night but I was told that I could not wear short pants in there from that night on. So we ate dinner every other night in the other dining room (Aqua) where there was no dress code. The menus are the same in both restaurants. The food was OK, nothing special. The first night was the surf n' turf night and I had steak with two lobster tails. I had a rib-eye one night but it was thin and a little too well done. Half the menu is the same each night and the other half changed from night to night. We also had breakfast in there once or twice. The waiter service, overall, was good. Freestyle dining on Norwegian allows you to eat whenever you want between 5 PM-- 9:30. It also allows you to sit by yourself, if you want that sort of thing. You also end up waiting for a table. Personally, I don't think it's that bad to sit with strangers each meal and to get to know them and the same waiter and busboys. But you would have to eat at certain times, either 6:00 or 8:30. Both ways have their pros and cons. We had breakfast in the buffet 4 or 5 times, and lunch there whenever we were on board for lunchtime. The food was regular buffet food, They did have somebody cooking omelettes in the mornings which was a big upgrade over the regular scrambled eggs. The variety for breakfast was plentiful. Toasted bagels were surprisingly good and the orange juice, in particular, was excellent. For lunch, they had the usual salads and cold cuts and hot foods. They also had slices of pizza but oddly, the slices weren't cut all the way through. All week long I, and other people, reached forward to separate the slices with our fingers only to be told not to touch the pizza. Outside, by the pool they had burgers and hot dogs and fries each day. A couple of days, they had a big barbecue at the pool, with ribs, corn on the cob, and other goodies. They had scoops of different flavor ice cream served at the pool each day and an ice cream machine inside for just vanilla and chocolate. My wife ordered room service the first two mornings. Both times they delivered similar but different items than she had ordered. She gave up after that. Overall, I would say the food was above average. Port and Shore Excursions: As per previous reviews, we decided to plan our excursions using the internet instead of buying shore excursions from Norwegian. As expected we saved mucho dollars doing it that way. It just takes a little internet searching. On the first stop, Costa Maya, as per previous review, we contacted the Tropicante Restaurant with it's owner Steve and his great staff. Steve answered my e-mail right away and although his loungers for the beach were booked, he said that he would do the best he could for me, even getting loungers from next door. He told me exactly where to go from the pier to escape the over-zealous vendors and pier transportation and to grab a local taxi outside the gate. The ride cost $4.00 for the two of us. We were there in five minutes. The Mahahual Beach in Costa Maya is a cement boardwalk which is about a half-mile long lined with small restaurants and small hotels and gift shops. Each establishment has it's own little section of the beach with lounge chairs, small tables for eating and plenty of massage tables, which I learned has been added recently. They charge $25.00 for a one hour massage. Incredible. Steve has three or four people working the beach for him, with Jorge being, kind of, the concierge. He takes care of the reservations for the loungers, as well as the scheduling of the massages. The entire crew is fabulous and even though it was a cloudy day with hardly any sun, they made it worthwhile. Steve was very personable and spent the entire day on the beach talking to his customers. The menu is simple with burgers, tacos, burritos, etc. and is reasonably priced. I recommend this place to anyone visiting Costa Maya. The whole day, with food, drinks and massages and tips cost about 90.00. Just e-mail Steve at the Tropicante. Do show a few weeks in advance if you want a lounge chair for the beach. We decided not to get off the boat in Belize. We weren't impressed initially with the reviews of Belize, and the whole tendering process with a half-hour tender ride is, frankly, a pain in the a-s. So we stayed on the ship and had any chair we wanted by the pool on a nice sunny day. The hot tubs were empty for the first time and it was nice and peaceful on board. We don't think we missed anything in Belize because we had a zip-line excursion booked for the next day in Honduras. Honduras was a definite step up from Costa Maya and Belize. The port and the area around the port was newer and built up. I had reserved a zip-line adventure with Pirates of the Caribbean tours and, through e-mail, I was able to leave a deposit and find out where to get the transportation. The ride there was in an air-conditioned van and was about 15 minutes. The zip-lining was a blast. First time for us. Our guides, Charlie and Iran were excellent and understanding for the beginners. My wife and I were alone with them because the other guides were with a bigger group. We did the 65.00 package which includes eight lines from 1100 ft. down to 200 ft. And the heights were high in the beginning to lower at the end. The guides helped somebody like me who didn't make it across all the way once or twice. But there is no anxiety at all .....except on the first jump when you have to get a running start off the edge. But I felt completely safe during the whole 45 minute adventure. We ordered pictures that they take, which cost about 50.00 for 35 pictures. Not too expensive for a great time and we were back on the ship by 11:00AM. In Cozumel, there was another ship at the dock with us, Norwegian Dawn. We had tried to reserve the Playa Maya Beach Club privately, but they wouldn't take reservations unless you did it through the ship. I knew that they would take walk ups so I did the excursion that way. Cozumel is a big city in Mexico and there were seven (7) cruise ships in port that day. We took a cab (16 dollars) to Playa Maya. There are many beach clubs in the area to choose from (some are private) but I knew Playa Maya from the cruise ship choices. Playa Maya is a tremendous beach club with a couple of hundred lounge chairs, umbrellas (charge), a massage area (55.00/hr.), an area with about 15 hammocks (of course there was a kid on each one), a kiddie area with water slides, a large pool, a large buffet area, bars, and a few stores. On the beach they have big water trampolines and slides, kayaks, sailboats, paddle boats, and other water activities. Also ping pong and volleyball. The prices are 75.00/pp for everything including food and alcoholic drinks. 55.00/pp for no food and some alcoholic drinks, and 39.00/pp for no food and no drinks. We managed to get two chairs with a free umbrella and the sun was in and out but that was fine. It's a nice place and it was a nice day. Unfortunately, the price that I paid was almost the same as the excursion off the ship, which would have been including food, so buying the excursion on the ship would have been better in that instance. Strange but the 16.00 taxi ride going there was 17.00 coming back. Oh well. One of my favorite memories from the cruise came when we returned to the pier from our beach excursion in Cozumel. The Norwegian Pearl had replaced the Norwegian Dawn at the pier right next to us (I'll bet the folks on Norwegian Dawn didn't like finding out that they had to tender back to their ship). Anyway, on the pier were about 25 crew members from each ship and they were lined up on either side to form a path to walk through and they were all dancing to music played by a DJ who had set up out there. The music was lively (top 40 stuff)(dance music) and all the crewmembers were dancing (usually line dancing) with smiles on their faces and getting people to dance with them as passengers strolled back to the ships. The Cruise Director from the Star (Kyle Dodson) was out there with a mike welcoming everyone back to the pier. They were also handing out jello shots and it was a lot of fun. The party atmosphere went on for three hours until the Star left. The music was still going on at the pier for the Pearl as the Star pulled away. A real great idea. I filmed some of it and will try to post. Entertainment: There was entertainment going on during the entire cruise, more than I remember on other cruises. You could walk around from venue to venue and find somebody playing jazz in the atrium and have a drink or a cappucino from the bar at the same time, or you could find folks doing karaoke in front of a packed house in the Irish Pub, or you could go the casino and lose (I mean win) some money there, or you could listen to someone just playing the piano. These things went on each and every night so you could do something different each night or enjoy the same things over again. They had a show in the theatre every night at 7:30 and 9:30 depending on when you ate dinner. The shows were surprisingly good for a cruise. The singers and dancers from the ship were good, in fact, five of the girls did a show one night by themselves called "Shout! The Mod Musical" singing songs from the sixties (Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, and so on) and the show was fabulous. The girls were really great. The had a comedy show called "Sharkbait" which is basically two jugglers but they were very entertaining involving the audience in their show. They had a real hard time completing their tricks with the way the ship was rocking, but they got through it. The two jugglers did a Q and A one afternoon for an hour and they answered any and all questions about their lives in Ringling Bros. circus for eight years, their lives in Clown College which is a whole lot more than learning how to be a clown, and their 8 years entertaining on cruise ships. They told us about their salaries, their sleeping arrangements, all the injuries that they've had on stage, and about their personal lives. Fascinating stuff. "The Second City" also did a comedy show in the theatre. It was funny but not great. They did an adult show one night in another room but I did not attend. One night they had a show with a husband and wife ballet team doing some acrobatics with hoops and curtains and sheets. They were talented but it wasn't really my kind of entertainment. On the last night, there was a show called "Elements" which featured the same ballet team, a magician who we had seen on an earlier evening, and some of the dancers from the ship. The show could have been a lot better compared to the way they were hyping it all week. Overall, I would say the shows were above average and a couple of them were memorable. One night we happened to be walking through the atrium and we came across an impromptu little show that the staff was putting on. Some of the chefs and crew members from other departments did some solos (singing) and were extremely entertaining. One little guy did "Old Time Rock n' Roll" (Bob Seger) and he had everybody singing and dancing with him. One of the girls from Guest Services was up on top of the counter dancing. The cruise director (Kyle) was there cheering everyone on. (I also have a video of this and will try and upload) It was a really good show for 20 minutes. But this is just an example of the different types of entertainment that were going on around the ship. They had the usual Newlywed Game one night but it wasn't as funny as it could have been. They also had a Dancing contest one night with crew members pairing up with passengers and the Second City folks were the judges. That was pretty entertaining. There was dancing every night either with a live band or with a DJ. Crew members who were off-duty would join in with the dancing and it felt like everybody could have a good time one way or another if you wanted to. Activities: There were Bingo games each day and you could join in for between 39.00 and 69.00 each day. There were bowling tournaments and ping-pong tournaments. In the casino, there were two Texas Hold-Em tournaments during the week with some good payouts, and there were slot tournaments and blackjack tournaments as well. There was also a Lotto drawing each night in the casino. There were exercise classes if you wanted to take part in that. Of course, they also had the usual Art shows and Jewelry shows going on during the week. They had a party for 18-25 year olds every night. They had counselors playing games with the little kids all day and night. There were plenty of other things going on around the ship that I haven't even mentioned here. I've been on other cruise ships before but this was the best for things to do and see. Service: The service was impeccable throughout the ship. The crew had smiles on their faces all the time and were always friendly with a "good morning" or "hello". Everyone did their job as they were supposed to and you can't ask for more than that. The spa, on the other hand, was a disaster. My wife had a facial on the first day and whatever they used on her face caused a reaction. She face swelled up and she was scratching so much that she eventually had to go to the doctor to get some medicine. When I arrived for my massage, I was not offered the choice of going into the locker room and changing into a robe. Very strange. It's the first massage I've ever had where I wasn't offered that. In addition to that, my masseuse showed up late (5 minutes). I was beginning to think they had forgotten about me. This initial treatment by the staff put a sour taste in my mouth and the massage itself didn't change that. It was average, at best. Disembarkation: I decided to take my luggage off the ship myself as I have done before and I had no problems. I didn't have to depend on someone else to move my luggage and I went through customs easily and swiftly. Summary: Before I close, I'd just like to say that the cruise director (Kyle Dodson) did an exceptional job. He was entertaining and enthusiastic but above all, he was visible. I saw him at least twice each day taking part in different events. A cruise director that's out there with the public is somebody who's doing a good job. One thing about Norwegian...they have this promotion where you can deposit 250.00 (up to four times) toward a future cruise (the money just stays in your Norwegian account) and they will immediately give you 100.00 to spend on your current cruise. They expect you to spend it on photographs or in the gift shop, but they also offer to give you 125.00 if you want to spend it in the casino on slot machines. But for someone like me, who doesn't play slot machines, the promotion doesn't work because they won't give you cash to play at the tables in the casino. So beware if you think they're going to give you cash. They will not. I complained about this part of the promotion vehemently. Why would they give you money to spend on the slot machines, but not at the tables? Nonetheless, as you can probably tell, I thought this one of our best cruise experiences. There were a lot of choices as to what to do on the ship and the crew went above and beyond to make it a joyous time. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
First thing I want to mention is how incredible the crew was considering the ship had norovirus present, the cruise before us has over 100 cases, the virus was all but gone when we disembarked. We had to board late due to sanitizing the ... Read More
First thing I want to mention is how incredible the crew was considering the ship had norovirus present, the cruise before us has over 100 cases, the virus was all but gone when we disembarked. We had to board late due to sanitizing the ship but that was a minor inconvenience. We were a party of 4, in two staterooms and none of us caught the bug. :) Yeah! Royal Caribbean notified us of the virus before we left for the port and that there was a delay boarding. They were professional and everything was super clean. Us two couples travel together cruising and on land and we had a great time. We drove to the port and spent one night in New Orleans, boarding was late but efficient considering the extra precautions due to Norovirus. The windjammer was not open at the time of boarding which I thought was poor planning. They opened the windjammer (buffet dining) at 2:00 which meant everyone was on board and very hungry. Norovirus on board meant that they had to serve us in the buffet lines and the biggest problem was rude inpatient cruisers. We were all in the same boat (so to speak) and they had plenty food, people were just impatient, these people complained and were impatient the entire cruise, even though the Captain and crew were working hard to keep us all healthy. I had no complaints except chapped hands from an allergic reaction to hand sanitizer. Food was good but not great, I found it was not as good as our first cruise on Navigator of the seas in 09. NOS Captain was highly concerned about the virus and it was handled well. The port of New Orleans is nice for the New Orleans experience. The port itself was like navigating through a maze. Navigator is in the voyager class, has plenty to offer- multiple pools one of them an adults only pool with large hot tubs in the area, spa, beautiful 3 level dinning room, casino,clubs, and 24 hour cookie and snack shop on the Royal Pramenade. I had heard there are no quiet spots on mega ships, not true, there are numerous seating areas you can quietly sit back and relax. We found one next to the sky bar and played cards when we had extra time or wanted to unwind, just the 4 of us. We also had our private balconies. Our cabins we were on deck 8, room 8603, balcony room, great clean room, comfortable bed and quiet location. We were around the corner from the elevators but had no noise from that,we have booked same general area and we will continue to book this area, close to elevators and the internet cafe. I did not pack my own computer but enjoyed a few minutes to check on my family back home from the internet cafe. Speaking of internet is is slow, all ships have slow internet, you just expect that from a ship internet. The entertainment was a comedian who was very good his name is Scott Record but and an Elvis impersonator, he was talented guy but I do not enjoy a tall skinny Elvis as my headliner entertainment. The ship crew shows were OK, usual show for RCI. We always do the Ice Show, which is excellent, Love and Marriage show (always a blast) and the QUEST!!! A MUST SEE! (for adults ONLY!) There are two formal nights on the 7 night cruise, some still wear Tuxedos and Gowns, I prefer a nice cocktail dress. Our ports were Falmouth Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, and Cozumel. Falmouth is still a port being developed and there is not that much do to there. Grand Cayman is beautiful and rich, which is why it stands out from other islands. Cozumel is typical tourist local with plenty to offer. We docked at Falmouth and Cozumel and had to tender to Grand Cayman. The tendering process was easy even though we were doing it during a storm. No problems at the ports getting on or off the ship. The Navigator is showing her age a little bit, I believe she is on the list to be refurbished, I think this was more apparent since we were just on a newer larger ship 6 months before this cruise. I would recommend this ship for a family, couple, or group of friends who want an affordable enjoyable week away in the beautiful Blue Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
As first time cruisers, we weren't sure what to expect. The reality exceeded any expectations I may have had! The ship itself was spectacular with something always going on. We brought our two boys, but didn't enroll them in ... Read More
As first time cruisers, we weren't sure what to expect. The reality exceeded any expectations I may have had! The ship itself was spectacular with something always going on. We brought our two boys, but didn't enroll them in the children's activities because one wasn't quite old enough. There was plenty for them to do anyway from kiddi-pools with waterslides to mini-golf. Their favorite activity was ice skating... on the ocean! I, personally, really liked the Michael Jackson dance class. Such a variety of things to do! The onshore excursions were very fun as well. Our favorite place was Grand Cayman. We played at the beach early on, then went on a pirate ship (highly recommend, even if you don't have kids)! Even all the staff on the shore was entertaining and accomodating. The most impressive part of our whole journey was the Royal Caribbean staff on the ship. Everyone was so friendly and remembered us from day to day (which, with so many people every week, would be hard to do). They called the boys by name every night in the dining room and our waiter and assistant wait-staff spoiled them! By the end of the week our oldest son (3) couldn't wait to go see Claudiu! We really enjoyed getting to know the staff and their stories. My husband and parents went to the captain's talk at the end of the week and were very impressed by how serious he and the other officers were about their jobs. We felt very safe in their hands. I've read a lot of different things about safety and security on these ships. First of all, they had hand sanitizer everywhere and signs encouraging hand washing. As far as I know, there was no illness outbreak, and if there was, we were not involved. I never saw any partying getting out of hand (although, with kids we weren't partying anyway). Bottom line, I never felt my safety threatened by staff or other passengers. I was at ease the entire time. Also, before we ever even left port, we were all required to participate in a safety drill and all the staff seemed very competent. In fact, more than one of them checked to make sure the kids had their correct bracelets (which let them know where our cabin rally point was), and I was grateful everyone was on the same page. Thanks for the wonderful trip, Royal Caribbean International! We really appreciate it! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
This was our 7th cruise with Carnival, our first time on the Conquest. We were Cruising with two other couples, and my wife and I were celebrating our 20th anniversary. Well, before I start let me say I like Carnival Cruise Line (I ... Read More
This was our 7th cruise with Carnival, our first time on the Conquest. We were Cruising with two other couples, and my wife and I were celebrating our 20th anniversary. Well, before I start let me say I like Carnival Cruise Line (I used to love them) but they need to start looking at some of the cruise reviews people are posting before they lose long time customers. A lot of the criticisms in the reviews are pretty close to the mark (but you do have your whiners, so you try and weed those reviews out). Embarkation: They have to change the embarkation process in New Orleans, period. They separate you by floors and cabin number, whatever happen to first come first serve. We stood in line for 45 min because they only had 3 people working are floor. This was by far the worst Embarkation process that I have ever been through. We originally booked an interior room on deck 7, but a week before we embarked they called my wife and she upgraded the cabin to a balcony on deck 7. We loved the upgraded cabin but, when we changed rooms all of request made for our old cabin didn't transfer to our new room. Therefore our dining room seating got changed so we where no longer seated with our traveling companions. So, the first night we all were seated at separate tables. Then on the second night we all dined in the Steakhouse, well worth the money, I will only say one thing about it...FANTASTIC. We ate in the Monet dining room all of the other nights, our dining room wait stuff where efficient but slow and we have had better service on other cruises. The quality of the food has slowly been declining since my first cruise. Don't get me wrong, they still have plenty of things on the menu that are fantastic, but now it's hit or miss with what you get. We had three ports to visit, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Montego Bay: We did the "Hop on Hop off" bus tour in Jamaica. I thought it was great bargain for the $15.00pp we paid. We did get to see some of the area from the bus before we stopped at Margaritaville. The place was great, the staff was friendly, and the food and beverages were priced well. The water was warm and the slide and trampoline made for a great time. Then before we returned to the ship we went off on foot to shop around Margaritaville. We traveled up passed Dr. Caves Beach and hit all the shops up and down the streets and believe it or not, we were never confronted by anyone to buy weed. (Unlike most of the reviews you will read) Grand Cayman: Shopping stop: the women drug us through the town looking at jewelry of all kinds. We then proceeded to stop at every t-shirt and souvenir stand they could find, after all that we finally got to hit the Harley shop so we could get OUR souvenirs. Then the even let us have a drink at one of the bars. Our last port was Cozumel: We took the "Go Jeep Go" tour through the ship and I have to tell you this is one of the best excursions that I have ever been on. We loaded up 4 to a Jeep Wrangler and headed out around the Island our first stop was a beach club. You are there for an hour and a half and can use all of the facilities, then you head out to a tequila distillery for a tour and tasting session. Then the designated drivers take you to the Pee Pee Station (name of a real place) for a tour, history of the Island, and a potty break plus they have a nice gift shop with black coral jewelry. After all that it was time to head back to the ship. The guilds were great and made the trip a lot of fun; I highly recommend you try it. Cabins and common areas of the ship were clean, the staff was friendly enough but, when the ship hits dry dock this year they have a lot of things to do to bring this ship up to standards. Like I said before we loved our cabin, but the A/C system in our room never worked well. We set it to the lowest setting possible and the room was still warm. If we didn't bring our own fan on the trip we would have been miserable. Also, the shower in our room was scalding hot. You turned the valve but the temp never changed. The valve had a safety device that should have lock the temp on 38C but the temperature was nowhere near 38C. It was so hot you could not take a shower. We had to call maintenance and they ended up replacing the whole water control valve. The very next day the toilet would not flush, so we called maintenance again and they had to replace a valve outside our cabin to get the toilet working again. Debarkation was very quick and went smoothly, I was very impressed. It was a relaxing cruise, but my wife and I can tell the quality of the services have been falling off every cruise. The entertainment is still not that great and for the most part every time we have cruised they have the same things over and over, they need a different show line-up and/or some new concepts. We have already booked a back to back on the Breeze starting on 11/24/2012, but if the quality does not improve on those cruises we will have to try Princess, Royal Caribbean, or one of the other cruise lines. That way we will have something to compare too. We love cruising and it may be time for us to see what is on the other side of the fence. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
This was a last minute booking, hubby decided we should go on a cruise for my bday. L.A. was sold out, Alaska was too cold, but New Orleans was promising and there was one to Belize and Roatan, yay! So we fly to Nola, get a hotel Sat. ... Read More
This was a last minute booking, hubby decided we should go on a cruise for my bday. L.A. was sold out, Alaska was too cold, but New Orleans was promising and there was one to Belize and Roatan, yay! So we fly to Nola, get a hotel Sat. night for Sunday departure. We have been in CA a long time but are originally from LA, so we know and enjoy Nola. Then I learn we will be delayed until Monday. Bummer. The next day we learn we are delayed until Tuesday. Double bummer. Called our travel agent and NCL to see what we get for being delayed. Credit for 2 days' sailing. That's it? No future upgrade? No free drink or something? Oh well. The Intercontinental Hotel was nice and located well, so we ate like pigs at great restaurants and made the most of it. Embarking was crazy. I've never seen lines so long. But, we made it through. Then there was another huge line. Embarkation photo? OK. Wait, wait, wait. Never mind, we don't need no stinking photo. Wait, that's for that table for buying coke cards and stuff, we can go on through to take a picture. Then comes the washy-washy assaults (hand sanitizer sprayers). We find our room, it's all good. Bathroom is roomier than all other 6 cruises I've been on. There is a sliding door to the pot and another to the shower, with the sink in the middle. Not bad. Cute tile with fish on it, but some cracking and rusting, ew. Balcony is nice, 2 chairs, lil table. We then proceed to have a nice lunch, and discover the food is perhaps the worst I've ever had. Nothing very good, nothing interesting. The top of my cruise itinerary is always lobster night. Turns out, the first night onboard there was an entree of lobster and snapper. It was a half lobster tail and some snapper. Not bad. Surely there would be a whole lobster tail night? Noooo. Desserts were really bad. I have nightmares of their horrible mousse concoctions that aren't good. I've never been exposed to such dry, nasty pancakes each morning. Scrambled eggs are like government eggs, made from a bag of powder. Nothing for breakfast was palatable. I'm not normally a complainer; this was just pretty bad. There wasn't one meal, appetizer, entree, salad, or dessert I would rave about. First time for everything. The shows... we went to On Broadway, a sampler of scenes from Broadway shows. It wasn't so good, but then, if these performers were really good maybe they would be on Broadway, so whatever. The last night included an act from comedian Sam Griesbaum, whom I remembered loving from my first cruise in about 2000. He was funny, but much milder than I remembered but I was glad to see him again. Patti & Jose do some funny covers. He on guitar and she the backup voice and accessories like "Psshhhhh" in one song, LOL! That was hilarious. Due to a 2 day delay, we are missing Belize and Roatan and going to Costa Maya and Cozumel. Unbelievable. They pick the 2 crappiest ports of the 4. We booked excursions through Priceline to fly from Belize City to Ambergris Caye, the gem of the area, and snorkeling off Roatan in a beautiful reef area. Nixed. But, this would be about my 4th time to Cozumel, so I knew what was there. We hit 2 beaches and shopped at one crap store after another, being hounded to buy anything or everything. Went to Paradise Beach again, which has a nice big pool and is on the ocean, but it is so rocky, you can't walk out into the water, it's slippery, slimey, rough. So we took a $25 cab ride to north Cozumel to Playa Azul, where there was a hotel/resort, bar/restaurant, snorkeling, etc. $10 to rent snorkel gear. Also a super rocky beach, but we got out to the water, snorkeled a bit, saw a couple blah fish, and had enough. I'm going to learn to scuba dive bc this is not cool. I never heard of Costa Maya but when I looked it up, learned it was created and built to be a cruise port. This means there is a huge Senior Frogs and a bunch of crap shops like at every other port. Hubby left us girls to shop and went back to the ship; it was a miserable port and an insult to Mexican culture in days of old. We didn't buy an excursion, and maybe people who went diving or something had a good time, but to us it was awful. I didn't buy any souvenirs because I didn't want any reminders. The formal dining rooms never had more than about 1/3 filled. I don't know if everyone ate at the specialty places or the super casual buffets instead. People were dressed more casually than I have ever seen before. I didn't think they allowed shorts in the formal rooms, but most people had shorts on. The 'formal' night was called "Dress up or Not" night. If people dressed up for dinner and photos, I didn't hardly notice them. While freestyle dining can be nice (not having a set time), I miss meeting new people at dinner and talking about your day. On this ship, every party got their own table. Very unsociable. One night I couldn't find my cruisemates so I ate alone. Wish they would have offered to put me with a group of other singles or something, as there were some. We each got 3-4 spa treatments so we were pampered and relaxed, but they should reduce the prices. Massages shouldn't be $150 when I pay $50/month to Massage Envy at home. Had the ionithermie slimming treatment and lost 1/2 inch in several places. Temporarily. Not worth it, really. And I passed on the $700 product recommendations. Had a facial that was very nice, but passed on the $450 product recommendations. We all agreed that Carnival is better. I had been thinking NCL was better but my last was a Carnival and my next is a Carnival. I can't believe how much NCL has declined. I liked the ship's crew for the most part. Our room steward kept the room in good order, although never once changed the sheets even though we got pizza sauce on it the first night. OH! There is no 24-hour pizza bar like they used to have. Now you have to order a large for $5. Waiters were all very nice, although one night we had one, then another who apologizes for the mix-up and said our assigned waiter was late, he should have woken him up earlier, etc. So our assigned waiter was sort of ashamed that he was being dogged on. That wasn't necessary! I like the team effort of everyone chipping in. We didn't need to know who was assigned, then ridiculed for a reason we didn't need to know. Just feed me. I've been on 7 cruises so knew how debarkation works, whether they take your luggage at night or you carry it off yourself in the morning. Do it yourselfers were assigned 8am to exit, and colored tags were available to be chosen the night before as to which half-hour increment later you wanted. We did our own and left at our leisure, actually. I'm not up at 8am. Getting through customs was a breeze, no delay at all. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
My thoughts as we waited in traffic at the New Orleans port were numerous, some repeatable, some not. If New Orleans is going to have more cruises out of its port then it needs to figure out better access to the port parking than through a ... Read More
My thoughts as we waited in traffic at the New Orleans port were numerous, some repeatable, some not. If New Orleans is going to have more cruises out of its port then it needs to figure out better access to the port parking than through a stop sign and over a train track. Plus no one was giving ground. It took us over an hour just to park. The traffic jam did not end there. With everyone trying to enter in the same place everyone was trying to get off, it was chaos. My only advice is leave early and do not expect your vacation to start until you are on the boat. Now on to the fun, once we embarked, we headed to the Lido deck for some food. The ship was in good shape. We have sailed other ships and this was not the most beautiful ship that we have been on, but it is well taken care of and tasteful. We stayed in a Category 11 suite. The rooms were nice sized. There were only minor things like mold in the track on the shower and the stool at the vanity was faded, but overall a great room. My husband and I were in 1 room and my mom and children were in the room next door. There room steward, Putu, was the best. I will say that the buffet, pizza, sandwiches, burgers, and other food items like that were good. Was it great food? No, but it was definitely good. The best food on the cruise happened on the second day at sea and I will get there, I promise. That night, we ate in the Lower London dining room and Made, our head waiter, really made each night enjoyable. We visited the California Wine Bar where we met our favorite bartender for the cruise, Slava. The next morning we enjoyed our day at sea by the pool. Our son discovered that the mid ship pool is like a wave pool. Our daughter enjoyed the hot tubs. My mother traveled with us, so at night, the children preferred Camp Carnival or eating on the Lido deck with her. Our second day at sea was again spent by the pool, but that night was really special. We signed up for the Chef's Table. It was amazing to see the kitchen and the food he prepared was delicious. It was a special night and one of the highlights of our cruise. The next morning we woke to see Belize City. This is a tender port, so that was new to us. Although tendering is a necessity in some ports, I did not enjoy that experience at all. The Belize Zoo was closed due to damage from Hurricane Richard. If you are into adventure then Belize has cave diving and Mayan Ruins to hike. If you are into animals, we have heard wonders about the zoo even though we did not get to see it. If neither of these appeals to you, stay on the boat. Belize City is unfortunately not the most picturesque of cities. The next day, we were in Isla Roatan, Honduras. Can you say Mahogany Bay and Gumbalimba Park? The Carnival Cruise terminal at Mahogany Bay was gorgeous! We met our tour bus there and we were off to Gumbalimba Park to play with the cutest monkeys that you have ever seen. It was worth the treacherous ride up and down hills in the most cramped tour bus ever. Our guide was Joshua and he was fabulous. The beach at the park is small, but just enough for my children to get a taste of the sun and surf. The next day was Cozumel. We went to Nachi Cocom. It was worth every penny. The beach was beautiful, the pool was beautiful, and the food was good. We didn't participate in any of the water sports, but there was plenty to do if you wanted to snorkel, kayak, or do any other water sport. The only negative thing that happened was our bank messed up our Travelers' Checks, so we had to scrape up the cash to pay. That is what I get for getting Travelers' Checks in a small town! We had one more day at sea by the pool then it was back to New Orleans where the port created problems again. They called the zones, but did not have all the luggage yet for the indicated zones. The New Orleans Port really needs to work on organization and traffic control (people and car). Overall, it was a great vacation. Carnival is a great value. Read Less

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