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4 Bayonne (Cape Liberty) to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Hubby and I have been on 17 cruises with Crystal, Oceania, Azamara, Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, Norwegian, and now Royal Caribbean. So - the bar for my review will be set high. 1. Entertainment - absolutely phenomenal shows - ... Read More
Hubby and I have been on 17 cruises with Crystal, Oceania, Azamara, Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, Norwegian, and now Royal Caribbean. So - the bar for my review will be set high. 1. Entertainment - absolutely phenomenal shows - Mama Mia, Sonic Odyssey, Starwater - best shows of any cruise I've ever been on 2. Cabin - I give this an A-. It was spacious enough, good enough bath with glass/plexiglass shower door instead of curtains, sufficient storage - OK balcony (small). I would have given it an A if the bed hadn't be SO hard and if the cabin had been stocked with toiletries - really, you have to ask for shampoo/conditioner/shower gel/body lotion? And there are no pens or paper in the cabin! 3. Food. Silk was absolutely awful foodwise. Wonderland was not very tasty. Jamie's Oliver Italian was excellent. Devinly Decadence was terrible. Our waiter told us that the entire meal would not exceed 500 calories. This was hard to believe so after we had a starter and appetizer we asked the host about the calorie content - apparently each dish is under 500 calories. The only low calorie dessert was a brownie the size of a thimble. The food tasted no better than weight watchers. For 1650 calories (that we consumed) - the meal would have been more enjoyable anywhere else. Stay away from here. The "lido" buffet in our opinion is the 3rd best of all the ships we have been on (Oceania is #1 in my opinion and Crystal is 2nd for the buffet) so we ate there for dinner several times. If you did not make reservations for the fee specialty and non-fee restaurants, you were really out of luck - reservations were such a pain. 4. Northstar was nice - but do not wait 2.5 hours to do this as we did. 5. Internet was pretty good - much better than on other ships. But the reception in our forward cabin was always poor - it was always good midship or aft. The watch idea was pretty good - you open your cabin door with it, buy things with it, etc. The Royal IQ did not work - ever - I never could load the app on the ship. 6. Reservations - we made most of them about 3 months beforehand. We needed to change some reservations and making changes were so problematic - I still do not understand the process for changing restaurant reservations. Too much trouble. And seemingly no one knows what to do. You have to go from 1 place to another to make changes -- to no avail if the staff is too busy. I was hoping the Royal IQ app would let you make reservations for dining & shows but the app never would load - was unusable. 7. TV - large screen, you can see your account - but the front desk made a lot of errors and you cannot really count on the account being up to date or accurate at a given moment. 8. Beverage package - We found this annoying but the lower price cruise lines do this. Be aware that if you got the soda package, and you want diet soda other than diet coke, you need to go to one of the 2 multisoda fountain dispensing machines in the "lido" buffet. Once you fill the tumbler that comes with the package, you have to wait 15 min to refill (the machine knows your tumbler number). 9. Elevators - very strange. The elevators kept not stopping at the deck requested. Very annoying and many folks complained about this. 10. Service. The staff/passenger ratio appears to be low which means much less personalization. Many people disliked the ship for this reason. But this is a large ship. Nonetheless, the staff need more training to be more friendly (at least look friendly) if not at all talkative. Our cabin steward, Jenny, was excellent - it seems like these cabin stewards have more cabins to clean compared with other cruises we have been on. 11. Shopping - not as good as I thought it would be on a large ship. Surprisingly "The Shop" had very few basic amenities that you might need if you forgot some stuff at home. A lot of $19.99 or $10 t-shirt stuff -- and then the high-priced cartier stuff - not much in between. 12. The ship: Beautiful - with many lovely and comfortable nooks and crannies for reading. TwoSeventy and the areas leading to 270 are wonderful. Overall - I give this an 88% with the potential to move into the low 90s if the technological wrinkles are ironed out, the elevator situation is fixed, and the darned reservation system is improved (this last is the most important). I wanted to give 4.5 stars but could only give 4 or 5 so I went with 4   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We booked the new Azamara Journey as soon as the announcement was made that Celebrity had acquired one of the "R" ships and was going to invest in a new "Upscale" line. We had just come off the Tahitian Princess where ... Read More
We booked the new Azamara Journey as soon as the announcement was made that Celebrity had acquired one of the "R" ships and was going to invest in a new "Upscale" line. We had just come off the Tahitian Princess where we were pampered to no end in their Owners Suite and were sure that the new Celebrity product was going beat the Princess "re-do" hands down. And of course they did in many ways. The cova cafe,their signature pastry and cappuccino bar, is always a treat. Azamara like Celebrity has the most incredible staff that seems to be able to anticipate your every need and is extremely friendly. The new pool chairs and the buffet area for breakfast and lunch are beautiful. The alternative dining areas are also beautifully redone as is the main dining room and the casino. However, our suite left much to be desired. It looked the same as it did when the ship was built. We walked into our quite expensive suite, and I almost cried. There was a small white dorm refrigerator with its wires sticking out sitting on the floor right in front of the little table that you put your keys on. There were only 2 chairs at the scarred day-one dining table,the deck had two miss-matched white plastic deck chairs that barely fit on it- and no cushions. The furniture was original, torn, and had the original accent pillows, the carpet was original and stained, the curtains I think were new because the were badly hung and dragged on the floor. There was no desk or vanity chair and the "new console" that held the "new" flat screen tv with all its wires sticking out did not fit the wall it was on, so you could not reach the curtain to close the drapes. All they had done to the room basically, was change the bedding! The lamps were old and tipped sideways and one was broken. Then we were informed that there was no formal night, our butler was the butler for the entire floor, he was also the cabin steward, so he was so busy, you didn't dare ask him to serve an in- room meal, something you book a Royal Suite for! Halfway through the cruise the "Hotel Manager" sent out a questionnaire asking guests how they were doing. We had heard many passengers grumbling about the open seating, the expensive drinks, and the lack of a formal night. I wrote all this on my comment card along with my disenchantment with my room...we were invited down for a little conference. It seemed that his main concern was with the water on the carpet that I had mentioned on the questionnaire!(something I almost didn't put down, it had been there as a result of a storm) I asked him who his target customer was. His reply was -the Renaissance customer. Well---If they want that customer, they had better start including wine with dinner and stop adding 18% to all the bar tabs along with the little line under it for an extra tip! They also will need to serve the food that they offer in their Specialty restaurants in their main dining room and they will have to stop gouging their passengers $50.00 per couple to eat a decent meal in the specialty restaurant! In response to the "Hotel Manager-I asked him to take a look at our cruise folio- we had spent quite a considerable amount of money on board- not to mention how much we had spent in the casino- we had paid in full for our cabin, no questions asked, are we not the kind of cruiser he wanted on board? Are our opinions or thoughts not valid? He simply did not care- I wrote a letter to the President of Celebrity, including photos of our cabin, in November-Again, there has been no response. I am worried that the changes we saw on the Azamara are going to spread across the Celebrity line. We are booked on Royal for Spring and Celebrity for Fall. We will See. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
My wife, two teenaged daughters and I took a 9 day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Explorer of Seas in August 2007 from Cape Liberty/Bayonne. We drove to the port and found the parking and check-in quite easy. It was our first cruise in 8 ... Read More
My wife, two teenaged daughters and I took a 9 day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Explorer of Seas in August 2007 from Cape Liberty/Bayonne. We drove to the port and found the parking and check-in quite easy. It was our first cruise in 8 years and it was a toss-up between an all-inclusive holiday and a cruise. We particularly liked the option of being able to drive to the embarkation port. We really enjoyed the food in all the restaurants. Portofino's was just outstanding. Pay the $20 per head; well worth it. It really was fine dining with top class service. A higher level of dining and service than the regular restaurants. We got a 5 bottle wine package which we really enjoyed and would recommend it as you save about 20%. The snacks in between meals for the kids from the Promenade Cafe were about average. We went to all the shows and really enjoyed them. The ice show was the best of all them. Please note that you have have to get tickets for the which is relatively easy. We had two cabins next to each other overlooking the promenade. The accommodation was pretty good. The highlights for our family were the ports of call. Bermuda: we took the bus to Horseshoe Bay Beach. Tickets available just outside as you disembark for $4 each way. 30 min ride. My girls favorite beach because of the high waves due to the after-effects of Hurricane Dean. St Maarten: My favorite part of the trip. We had an outstanding tour guide named Bernard whom I had booked with after good reviews on CruiseCritic.com. He called me and e-mailed me to confirm before our trip. He had an excellent GMC mini-bus with leather seats. He had a great sense of humor, was quite flexible about how much time we wanted at each place and was extremely well-informed. He kept us well entertained throughout our excursion which took 6 hours. We started off at the Dutch side, stopped for souvenir shopping at an inexpensive place, a bar and beach near the airport, Marigot on the French side, Orient beach for about two hours and some shopping later, which I found quite boring. Bernard charges $30 for a a daytrip and I think the cruise line would charge much more. His e-mail address is bernard1332002@yahoo.com, website is sxmtours.com. Once gain, he was outstanding and made our trip to St. Maarten very enjoyable and memorable. St Thomas: The most beautiful island on our cruise, according to my family. We had a full-day tour booked here with a nice lady named Burlie, whose details we got from Bernard. I was really impressed with Bernard because he called her from St. Maarten after our tour to make sure we were looked after. Our family really liked Burlie and her easy-going manner. She was again very flexible. Stops were at Mountain Top (best view of the cruise, you can see Magens Bay and about six other islands), high up for view of Caribbean side, Sapphire Beach and shopping. We just rented snorkel equipment and only had to swim about 5-7 minutes for excellent snorkeling on the right side of the beach. Saw about two dozen varieties of fish. No need to take a snorkel trip, just go to Sapphire Beach. Other people on our bus went to Coki Point which also had excellent snorkeling but was too busy for us. Burlie was happy for our group to go either beach and would pick us up or drop us off as we wanted. We were part of a group of two mini-buses. Burlie's associate's name was Conrad and he was a fun guy. Had Spider Man painted on his bus and we kept calling him Spider Man!! Burlie treated our whole family as special and I would like to recommend her strongly. Her website is viscenictours.com. San Juan: Took a one hour short bus tour. Nothing great. Saw Fort San Cristobal and Old San Juan. Had lunch at Senor Frogs, which is a boisterous but fun place. Kids loved it and Margaritas are excellent. Hope you got some good tips. I found CruiseCritic.com very useful in my trip planning. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
FREEDOM OF THE SEAS - NAMING CEREMONY On May 11, 2006, I was lucky enough to sail on Royal Caribbeans newest ship Freedom of the Seas. This special one-night sailing was to celebrate the new ship,name it and christen it. The day ... Read More
FREEDOM OF THE SEAS - NAMING CEREMONY On May 11, 2006, I was lucky enough to sail on Royal Caribbeans newest ship Freedom of the Seas. This special one-night sailing was to celebrate the new ship,name it and christen it. The day began with a trip to Cape Liberty and our first look at this mammoth vessel. It is almost overwhelming when you see the gigantic hull of this ship. After a speedy and efficient check in we were ushered onto the ship. At check-in we were given a Special Event program and the key to our stateroom. When we entered Freedom, we were met with what seemed like a crew of very happy workers and handed a flute of champagne with welcome aboard smiles. We quickly found our stateroom which was a balcony cabin on deck 8. The first thing you notice about this cabin is the new linens that Royal Caribbean has adopted. The linens are white and dark green and the bed is decorated with various size pillows in the same colors. The look is crisp, clean and inviting. The white sheets are embroidered with the Royal Caribbean emblem which gives the cabin an upscale look. The cabin is nicely appointed with plenty of drawer space and the closets are roomy -- One point that struck me as new is that the lifejackets have their own little cubby inside the closet and therefore, they are not in the way when you are organizing your clothing in the closet. The closet also has a safe that is easy to use and there is a small refrigerator adjacent to the dressing table. Since the weather was threatening, our first order of business was to check out the outdoor facilities. We made our way to the new Flow Rider where you can surf on a wave simulator. It was easy to find since there are signs pointing the way to Deck 13 Aft. This newest addition to the RC ships is a marvel. Smaller than I anticipated it to be, but nonetheless something to behold. It was being demonstrated by professional sufers and there is a seating area around it so you can sit and watch all the action. As I understand, some of the specifics, it is an engineering feat of accomplishment to get this equipment onto a ship (let alone at the back of a ship) when the weight of it is so immense. The professionals seemed to be doing just fine and after watching them take a few rides and get wiped out a few times&we headed down to the children's pool area known as the H2O Zone. The H2O Zone s a pool specifically built for children and families. The sculptures and fountains that are built around and into this area are a joy to see. They bring a smile to your face&and every child is going to love playing in this area. Families can spend quality time together enjoying this special area. The rock climbing wall that was initially seen on the Voyager class ships has now been improved upon and is bigger and has more trails than every before -- we noticed quite a few enthusiastic climbers as we strolled by. There is also a Full Basketball Court and a 9-hole miniature golf course. After burning up so much energy watching other people exercise, we made our way to Lido Deck and entered the Windjammer Cafe for some lunch. The usual buffet fare is served here and we didnt notice anything that merits special attention, the food was nicely arranged and the staff is helpful and friendly. We spent most of the afternoon strolling through the ship and taking photos of the public rooms. The bars and Clubs are all decorated nicely and the Casino is large with plenty of room. One of the unique areas of the ship is a club named the Crypt. It looks as if it is a Egyptian temple and it serves as a disco and bar in the evenings. The Promenade has all the usual shops as well as the new addition of a barber shop (and shoeshine area). Ben and Jerry's was my next stop -- Cherry Garcia for me as I strolled along and admired this tastefully decorated area. The Promenade is now 10 feet wider than the ones found on the Voyager class ships, and for some reason,,,it now feels just right. We were treated to a 5 oclock Ice Show at Studio B on Deck 3. Well worth seeing -- The costumes and music are astounding and it is truly remarkable that these skaters can do jumps and lifts on such a small surface of ice. This ice rink has limited seating but I would suggest that you try to get to one of these performances -- it is extremely entertaining and fun for the whole family. Dinner was open seating at 7 oclock and a black tie event. The dining room is three tiered and boasts a magnificent chandelier and staircase. Dinner started with white asparagus appetizer, followed by Vietnamese Fish soup, choice of Orange Roughy or Loin of Lamb. The entrees were served with wine and the entire meal was elegant and unique. The dessert was a chocolate mouse topped with a chocolate surfer on a white chocolate surfboard. Truly a work of art. We were given beautifully printed souvenir menus. After dinner it was off to the three leveled Arcadia Theatre. The curtain on the stage is so beautiful that I spent my first few minutes just looking at it and wondering how much it weighed. It looks like a work of art with its bright colors and sequins. We found ourselves seated directly behind former Yankee outfielder Dave Winfield and right down the row from former Lakers Star Magic Johnson. Many passengers had their pictures taken with them and they were very kind and accommodating to everyone. Tonight was the official naming ceremony and we were introduced to the Godmother of Freedom Katherine Louise Calder. This lovely woman was chosen by the viewers of the Today Show. In my opinion they made a wonderful choice. Mrs. Calder has been foster mother to over 400 developmentally disabled and medically fragile infants and children. She is from the State of Oregon and has received numerous awards for her work with children and the Foster Parent Program. She was ushered in by the New York Police Department Society Pipes and Drums and the whole atmosphere in the theatre was one of Pomp and Circumstance. After a short blessing and an address by Richard Fain (CEO of RCCL). We were treated to a concert by Al Jerreau. Mr. Jerreau is the recipient of 5 Grammy Awards and is one of the finest Jazz artists in the business. After the naming Ceremony we made our way back to our cabin where we stood on the Balcony of our stateroom and watched a wonderful firework display with the Statue of Liberty as the backdrop. The evening ended with a parade down the Promenade by the RCCL dancers and singers. This parade especially appeals to the young set and if they can stay up late enough to see it, it is truly a fun event. Friday morning began early when the members of the Today show showed up to start filming their show from the ship. We spent 3 hours following them from place to place and being part of the audience. It was fun to be up close and personal with the people we usually only see from the screen in our living room. At about 9:00 AM Katherine Louise Calder cut the ribbon for the christening of the ship and a bottle of champagne was broken over the hull and just like that. the ship officially became Freedom of the Seas. Barry Manilow was on board today and provided a private concert for about 150 people. Large screens were set up around the ship so passengers were able to enjoy the concert from all over the ship. Much singing and dancing was seen and heard along the Grand Promenade. The Today show wrapped up at about 10 AM and it was time to get ready to say goodbye to the glorious Freedom on the Seas. We were all invited to a brunch at the buffet and asked to wait to debark in any of the many available lounges. At about 11:45 we were cleared to leave the vessel. As I look back at the time I spent on this ship I am truly awed by the size and elegance of this ship. There is truly so much for families of every size to enjoy. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of this wonderful ceremony and it is something that I will always remember. I hope to be able to cruise on this ship in the near future and I believe the Freedom Class of ships will be a big hit for Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006

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