7 Rio de Janeiro Cruises for the Disabled Cruise Reviews

My wife and I are recently retired and have long wanted to cruise an "around the horn" itinerary. This Holland America cruise fit the bill the perfectly. Overall, an outstanding cruise, a decent value and a great itinerary. ... Read More
My wife and I are recently retired and have long wanted to cruise an "around the horn" itinerary. This Holland America cruise fit the bill the perfectly. Overall, an outstanding cruise, a decent value and a great itinerary. We departed from Rio de Janeiro. Our flight departed the east coast for Miami on Halloween. Many of the airport and airline employees were in costume and having a good time. We ended up,with a business class upgrade for the overnight flight from Miami to Rio. Since we have been to Rio before, we didn't do anything touristy other than stroll on Copacabana Beach. I paid for our Airbnb for the night of the 31st so we could check in immediately upon arrival the morning of the first. HAL emailed us the day before embarkation to warn us that check in was going to involve two security checks and to expect delays. Because of this, we left early for the pier. Our uber driver was completely unfamiliar with the cruise port but found it without too much difficulty. Other than confusion about where to drop our bags and where to line up for check in, things went relatively smoothly. There was almost no signage but following the heard and gentle inquiries had us on board in about 30 minutes. We were very pleased with the ship almost as soon as we boarded. Our cabin was ready for immediate occupancy and our bags all arrived shortly after lunch. We were expecting a small ship having recently cruised Carnival Horizon but the ship seemed plenty large with plenty of amenities. The public areas were all very tidy and clean and outside on the decks, conscientious maintenance was evident everywhere. We found the flow of the ship very easy to get around. As always, we selected an interior cabin for economy and for the dark cave sleeping experience. We were on the second deck so we felt almost no roll and the pitching was quite sleep inducing. The cabin could serve four passengers with two beds, a drop down bunk and a sofa bed. The beds were made up as twins, apparently our request for one bed was not received but this was fixed while we were at lunch. There was an astonishing amount of closet space for two people. The tile in the bathroom looked like a 1960s motel room but otherwise, we found the cabin spacious, comfortable and appropriately updated. Dining was very good to excellent. We tried the main dining room for breakfast once and the service was so slow, we never returned. The buffet on the Lido deck, however, had outstanding breakfast options so we went there every subsequent day. The omelette station rarely had more than three people in line, the eggs Benedict were fresher and better than the dining room and the waffles were hot and freshly made. It could get crowded around 9 am so we often ate outside by the pool. We never did try the dining room for lunch instead using the buffet every day. The salads were excellent and days we wanted to try sandwiches, soups, pasta or other offerings, everything was good except the pizza. The Dive In burgers could be a bit of a hot mess but good and the dogs were also nice. The fries were always hot and crispy. We enjoyed open seating dinners in the main dining room. The food was hit or miss but the service was usually good and we had a wonderful group of dining companions almost every night. A few nights, we did not feel up to a long dinner and ate at the buffet. We had some unbelievably tender and flavorful steaks at the buffet one evening. A friend had treated us to a dinner at the Pinnacle Grill and it was outstanding. The steaks were superb and the service perfect. There were three formal nights but we only attended one. My wife felt unwell the night of the first one and the second one was during our scenic cruising of the glacier channel. Because it was light so late and we enjoying the spectacular scenery, I think many people opted to skip that formal night and hit a buffet for late dinner. The entertainment was also hit or miss. The singers/dancers are, I'm sure, very talented and hardworking but the show was poor. I think the performers were saddled with repetitive choreography and uninspired music selection. On the other hand, it was great to see a real live band performing. A guest juggler was just so so and a guest flautist was unusual but extremely talented and a good show. The highlight of the entertainment was a spectacular combo of BBC cinematography with live music. High definition films of polar regions and animals were accompanied by the live band playing the original score. We caught a few of the other acts in the bars and lounges and all were very talented. The enrichment opportunities were one of the ship highlights for us. Guest speakers addressed topics of maritime history, ship construction, glaciers, environmental concerns and applied oceanography. The port lectures were outstanding also; real and practical information about the ports without a word about shopping. The ask the captain presentation was very informative and well done. Our absolute favorite offering was the America's Test Kitchen. Once or twice on sea days, the presenter, Allison, would demonstrate two to three recipes along with advice on kitchen techniques, cookware and gadgets. The set was completely professional, the production engineer was very slick and the entire program was perfectly executed and utterly enjoyable. We found service to be very good throughout. Our cabin steward, Edward, was fantastic. The servers in the buffet were very personable even when trying to keep up with clearing tables at busy times. The bar staffs were all excellent. No complaints about service. My wife and I treated ourselves to the Thermasuite package. For the two of us, it was $349 for the entire 16 day cruise. It gave us unlimited use of the Thermasuite in the spa area. Most of the time, we were only two there. Sometimes, there was another couple there. Only once was there more than four people. I thoroughly enjoyed the steamrooms and hot tub and we both enjoyed the heated loungers. The ports on this cruise were all great. In Punte del Este, we just did a short walkabout the port. We saw a few sights and enjoyed the sea lions but were back on board in time for a late breakfast. Buenos Aires was a first time visit for both of us and we walked several miles and thoroughly enjoyed the city. We had a scheduled tour in Montevideo which showed us the highlights but left plenty of time for lunch and exploring on our own. Our arrival to the Falkland Islands coincided with Armistice Day and we were privileged to be able to attend a church service and a military parade and memorial ceremony. In Ushuaia, we had a prearranged tour to the Tierra del Fuego National Park which was outstanding. Our third And final prearranged tour was in Punta Arenas and it was a bit disappointing. There is absolutely nothing at the port so you need to take a shuttle into town if you don't have anything set up. Our tour went to a scenic overlook, spent way too much time at a mediocre museum, then had a very brief stop in the downtown plaza. For Puerto Montt, I went ahead and paid for a cruise line tour of Petrohue Cataracts and Puerto Varas. We were very happy with this tour. At the end of the cruise, I purchased a cruise line tour/airport transfer. The tour to two wineries, lunch, a bus tour of Santiago and a shopping stop with airport drop off was very expensive at $200 per person but it was extremely well executed. In addition to the ports, the scenic cruising days were just a spectacular. We went around Cape Horn, the Straits of Magellan, the Beagle Channel, the Sarmiento Channel and the Chilean Fjords. We were privileged to see glaciers, fjords and even an iceberg. For us, this was the highlight of the cruise. As far as complaints, there were a few. During the scenic cruising, commentary was provided in the Crow's Nest, outside decks and on the cabin TV. The Crow's Nest got uncomfortably crowded and even then, the sound system was terrible and the commentary was inaudible. I think the commentary should be broadcast in all common areas so regardless of where you choose to observe the beauty, you can hear the details. Also, the ship seemed to be very poorly provisioned. We purchased an eight bottle wine program. By the fourth night, it seemed they never had anything on our wine list. To their credit, a substitute bottle was provided and usually a higher level wine but it seems silly to create a wine list, sell a program, and then be told almost every night, that your choice of wine is not available. Also, by about day three, there was no draft beer. By the end of the cruise, only a fraction of advertised bottled beers were available. I found alcohol prices extremely high. Overall, a great experience. We were reluctant to disembark and would have gladly sailed back to Buenos Aires. If you are interested in Patagonia and seeing some great scenery and exciting cities, this is a highly recommended cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We are from the UK and after previous cruises on Princess Royal Carribean NCL Carnival we were worried about the sailing we had booked on the Costa Facinosa from previous reviews we had read we got a great deal for £399 each in an ... Read More
We are from the UK and after previous cruises on Princess Royal Carribean NCL Carnival we were worried about the sailing we had booked on the Costa Facinosa from previous reviews we had read we got a great deal for £399 each in an inside cabin for the South America Transatlantic cruise back to Europe . We had no need to worry at all the ship was one of the best we have sailed on she is pure elegance and the inside cabin was the largest we had stayed in and the bathroom was huge with a large shower .Plenty of storage space in both and the bed was so comfortable. The ship was spotless and the elegant quality of the furnishings and lighting truly amazed us. The crossing was so smooth and we had hot sunny weather most of the way. After reading previous reviews that no one spoke English this was a complete load of rubbish. All staff spoke English the daily update was printed in English and the Captain gave updates in English too. After reading reviews there was nothing to do during the day again a load of rubbish there was something to do from 10:00 to 18:00 every day. We joined in pool games quiz afternoons dance lessons art and craft lesson all with English speaking staff and there were many more activities to choose from. The food and quality was some of the best we had eaten on any ship the quality of the Italian hams cheeses bread pizza meats soups salads etc etc were of a really good standard. Every evening we had a different five course evening meal in the restaurant on Deck 3 and during Gala Nights the meal was also excellent.Lots of people did wear elegant outfits for the Gala Nights. We enjoyed the shows on an evening so much variety acrobats dancers opera singers magician illusionist and many more . We would highly recommend the ship and really enjoyed the South America Transatlantic crossing we had so much value for money and would not hesitate to book another cruise with Costa . Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
I´m brazilian and it´s my second NCL Cruise, the other was NCL Getaway. The ship is old but tradicional, the crew members are great and the Cities I visited the best. What make me upset is an ilegal tax that all onboard have to pay, crew ... Read More
I´m brazilian and it´s my second NCL Cruise, the other was NCL Getaway. The ship is old but tradicional, the crew members are great and the Cities I visited the best. What make me upset is an ilegal tax that all onboard have to pay, crew members and passengers, a 25% tax plus the 18% tax for the service, but this 25% we only know when we make the first payment. Researching, they create this because NCL was finned for Brazilan law and give to all to pay what it´s deservers only to NCL because NCL don´t follow brazilian rules, that they should have at least 25% brazilians working there. And for people that doesn't speak English is really hard, even in the recreation for kids there´s no brazilian, I had to complain because my 7 and 10 years old boys weren't understanding much. Roberto the cruise director is the best and all the adult Recreation team were great: Sandra, Clarissa, José, Adriano, love you all. Imagine, a beer costs $7.95 but you have to pay $11.35: +1.43(18% grat, ok) but the $1.99 brazilian tax is ilegal!!!!!). Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
The itinerary was a main reason for taking this cruise. The staff and food are exceptional. My only complaint is the size and layout of the cabins. We are in a concierge cabin and it's too small. The bathroom is just okay with a ... Read More
The itinerary was a main reason for taking this cruise. The staff and food are exceptional. My only complaint is the size and layout of the cabins. We are in a concierge cabin and it's too small. The bathroom is just okay with a bathtub and separate small stall shower. The closet and drawer space are totally inadequate. I have to move the desk chair to walk between that and the coffee table to get to the terrace. The concierge lounge is a big plus. We often opt to have a continental breakfast there instead of going to one of the dining rooms or ordering room service. The specialty restaurants are good and it's a bonus that there is no up charge for dining in them. My only complaint there is that some of the vegetables were overcooked and soggy. The activities are not as extensive as on other cruises we've been on where there was an interesting lecture every morning and duplicate bridge and a movie every afternoon. On the first segment, with only 1 day at sea, there was duplicate bridge almost every day. 3 days into this longer segment with more sea days and I haven't seen a bridge director Hopefully that will change. The shore excursions have exceeded my expectations. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Background: We are veteran cruisers and travelers. This was our 27th cruise, our 7th cruise on Oceania and our first cruise that included ports in Brazil, including a week on the Amazon river. It was our longest cruise to date (22 ... Read More
Background: We are veteran cruisers and travelers. This was our 27th cruise, our 7th cruise on Oceania and our first cruise that included ports in Brazil, including a week on the Amazon river. It was our longest cruise to date (22 days). Our primary reasons for cruising on Oceania are their unique itineraries and destinations. Our cruise was re-booked in its entirety right at final payment time to take advantage of the O-Life benefits (excursions, beverage package, internet, shipboard credit). I have some minor mobility issues but these are usually not a concern on the ship or in most of the ports we visited. Pre-Cruise package: We arranged for our own air using miles and flew into Rio De Janeiro on United airlines, arriving November 15. We booked the pre-cruise hotel package through Oceania, which was very expensive, but probably worth the cost in this city. The hotel was the JW Marriott on Copacabana Beach, a very nice hotel with good service and views of the beach. We had two excellent half-day tours with a great guide (Licia) and enjoyed the area and restaurants around Copacabana beach. The transfers were also professionally done. Embarkation and ship: We embarked on Insignia on November 19. The embarkation process was quick and efficient. Insignia is one of the "R" ships in the Oceania fleet and is the oldest. The ship definitely showed its age in various areas, included outdated carpeting and furnishings, barely readable elevator buttons, old signs for ship areas by and on the elevators, etc. The art is uninteresting for the most part. Although we have been on the sister ships Nautica and Regatta and also noticed some outdated and worn infrastructure, it was the most prominent on this ship. Other passengers also noted and commented on the infrastructure. Cabin: Our cabin was an A3 concierge veranda cabin. It was cozy but fairly comfortable, with a small balcony. The bathroom is tiny, but manageable. There is plenty of storage space in the closets and drawers and under the bed. The bed was very comfortable, one of the top features of an Oceania cruise (great pillows, too). Activities: Our primary activity that we participated in on-board was Trivia, which was done at least once a day. This was competitive and fun. Most of our ship time was relaxing and we had a lot of outdoor time because of the climate. Service: The service on Insignia was very good, but was not as superb as previous Oceania cruises. Our requests for water/juice/coffee or other drinks occasionally had to be done more than once in the various dining venues. Service in the Grand Dining Room was exceptionally slow and we only ate in this venue twice. The counter service in the Terrace Cafe was excellent, as was the service in Polo Grill and Toscana (the two specialty restaurants). Our cabin attendant did an acceptable, not outstanding job, on cabin maintenance (trash wasn't always removed, water bottles were not replaced). We did have excellent service from the Oceania Club Ambassador (we like Oceania enough to always consider future cruises and did book a future cruise on-board). We also had laundry done three times and they did prompt and excellent service. Dining: Oceania Cruise Lines is known for the quality of their food. The food on-board Insignia was high-quality for the most part, but the "wow" factor was just not there. With the exception of a few specialty dishes featuring Amazonian fish, the menus were quite repetitive. The beef products (steak, hamburgers, etc.) were not very good at all, with tough and flavorless meats and strange textures. Seasoning was done blandly, even with stir fry dishes and sauces were also not very exciting. The pasta dishes were among the best bets and the pizza (lunchtime in the Terrace) was very good. Everyone was anxious to have BBQ, Mexican food or some other comfort or spicy foods by the end of the trip. Entertainment: Oceania is not known for its entertainment and this cruise was no exception. We went to a few shows that were ok, with the passenger/crew talent show being the most fun. The Insignia Show Band was outstanding, an excellent jazz group full of superb musicians. On the other hand, the pianist/vocalist in Martini's ruined this favorite venue for us. He was singularly untalented, playing piano in a bizarre and mistake-filled style; his singing was worse, a half-talking grunting "sing song" that was very off-putting. Martini's business was down substantially because of this guy and we avoided it during the golden happy hour. We did not use the small casino and it seemed very empty on most sea days. The boutiques are nice but small, and we did find a few bargains after we left Brazilian waters (a 25% tax on on-board purchases is in place while you are in Brazil). We did not use the Canyon Ranch spa services. Internet: The internet on Insignia is the worst we have had in the last 10-15 cruises; it was never better than the slowest dial-up modem speed and often required re-logging in multiple times to stay on-line. I had the free internet, but my spouse bought the unlimited internet to do some work and was very frustrated by the experience. When we arrived in Miami, one of the INMARSAT satellite dishes was being dismantled and replaced, a condition they had to know about during the cruise. My spouse has written to Oceania asking for at least a partial refund for the internet (not likely to happen, I'm sure). The Oceania@Sea representative was useless and rude. Ports and shore excursions: We had five free excursions each, which helped the overall cost of the excursions. The excursions were good to very good. Probably the best tour overall was in Recife, Brazil (an all day expedition to a variety of places) and we also enjoyed the tours in Manaus, Santarem (piranha fishing!), Parintins (the amazing Boi Bumba show) and Barbados. The Amazon river was fascinating and we had two stops in small villages that were quite interesting, besides our stops in Manaus, Santarem and Parintins. We did not leave the ship in San Juan, Puerto Rico and our final port, Punta Cana (DR) was canceled due to rough tender conditions. The primary purpose for the cruise, seeing the Amazon river and its tributaries, was the top highlight. Other ship services worth noting: I came down with acute bronchitis due to the heat, humidity and agricultural smoke on the river in the Amazon (having suffered from chronic asthma). The ship's doctor and nurse were superb - very caring and the nebulizer treatments they recommended helped me get back to normal very quickly. The tender crews are phenomenal and are very cautious helping those who are disabled (also true in my case). Disembarkation: We chose to disembark on our own with our bags due to an early flight in Miami. After some delays clearing the ship, the actual process was extremely quick and we were on our way to the airport in minutes. Summary: Our Amazing Amazon cruise was very memorable because of the unique places we saw on the river and the great weather we enjoyed on almost the entire cruise (lots of outdoor time), plus we crossed the equator three times. It was not the best Oceania experience, but we are still loyal to the cruise line and are working a future booking from the open booking we did on board. We like the size of the "R" ships and hope they can do some upgrades in the future on Insignia to make it more up-to-date. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Rounding Cape Horn is a navigational feat. More than a cruise, it's an adventure which means "stuff" happens. Our "stuff" began upon boarding the ship. Princess sent passengers advance notice to expect delays at ... Read More
Rounding Cape Horn is a navigational feat. More than a cruise, it's an adventure which means "stuff" happens. Our "stuff" began upon boarding the ship. Princess sent passengers advance notice to expect delays at the Rio cruise terminal due to pre-Olympics construction. The warning did not prepare us for the chaos that ensued...no order, no communication, no protocol for passengers with special needs. Boarding took us 4 hours--a little less time than many others--only because when we finally made it to the front we found a line for people in wheel chairs. Despite the boarding snafu, the ship left only one hour late. Somehow, the Captain and crew had made lemonade out of lemons--a foreshadowing of things to come. Onboard, we had a mini-suite cabin on deck 9, spacious and comfortable with one exception. The commode in our full-sized bathroom was darkly stained. Although the toilet bowl had been thoroughly cleaned, it didn't LOOK clean. I couldn't get past the possibility of having to stick my head in there should the going get rough (literally). My concern was satisfactorily addressed while in our first port of Buenos Aires. We returned to our cabin to find a sparkling new toilet and a beautiful flower arrangement for our inconvenience. More lemonade! The bad news is that, due to adverse weather, Buenos Aires was the ONLY port we made during the entire trip. The one exception was Punta Arenas where we did land. However while in port, the weather deteriorated so severely that the port was closed. Suddenly, instead of getting off the ship, our challenge was to get ON the ship. The Princess team devised an inventive solution: Turn a tugboat into a bridge. The tugboat pulled up to the end of a large cement jetty, connecting the jetty to the ship's tender. Rough seas and high winds made for a somewhat harrowing leap from the tugboat to the tender, but the "rescue mission" was a success. It took until nearly 3 am, but all 1,700 passengers and crew were safely back on board. Nothing could make up for missing those penguins, but the Captain attempted appeasement by altering the course to maximize the scenery. The sight of glaciers, waterfalls and exquisite snow-capped mountains gliding past our balcony softened us up. (Did I mention that Princess also gave every passenger a $100 cabin credit and a future cruise credit worth 50% of the cost of this cruise.) The lemonade was flowing! No question that a lot went wrong for passengers to grouse about. There was the 4:30 am airlift of a critically ill passenger by a RAF helicopter from tha Falkland Islands. (Passengers in certain cabins were evacuated.) Or the menu adjustments that occurred because we couldn't get into port ( no lettuce, yogurt, bananas and more). But the fact is that not one thing that went wrong (forget the toilet) was under the control of the cruise line. The Captain was an incredible communicator, keeping us apprised at every turn. (Some people actually complained that he talked too much.) The crew was incredible, particularly during the port emergency. They stepped up to provide water, coffee, sandwiches and comfort. (BTW, they were stranded, too.) A doctor in the terminal evaluated passengers with health issues, an ambulance standing by. Every officer on the ship was waiting there when we reboarded at 1:30 am to welcome us and make sure we were okay. To be honest, the biggest disappointment of the cruise were the passengers who screamed, (literally), pushed, shoved and disrupted when they were not first, not getting their way or not getting something for nothing at that very moment. They were the nightmare. The only way to end this cruise, in our opinion, was with a big "thank you" to the Captain, the crew and Princess cruise lines. Their handling of whatever came at them was outstanding every time. If we wanted perfect, we would have gone to Disney World. We signed on for an adventure and we got what we paid for...and more! Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
STAR PRINCESS South America Cruise March 16 - April 3, 2010 by Mary & Vincent Finelli The film "Flying Down to Rio" aired March 11, 2010 on TCM (Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers' first film together) and that same ... Read More
STAR PRINCESS South America Cruise March 16 - April 3, 2010 by Mary & Vincent Finelli The film "Flying Down to Rio" aired March 11, 2010 on TCM (Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers' first film together) and that same evening we flew American Airlines to Rio de Janeiro. We took it as a good omen, and our trip was a sensational one. For months we had been telling everyone we were flying down to Rio -- something we had been wanting to say for most of our lives. The glamour, the natural beauty, and the excitement of Rio are unparalleled in South America. Vincent bartered and dickered for weeks for a non-stop flight; finally, he changed the date of our departure and this gave us four days in Rio and meant we only had to load our wheelchair and scooter once. He didn't want to take any chances with our equipment. The flight from Miami was overnight from 11:00pm to 9:30am Rio Time. Not bad, we went business class with good food and drinks and a comfortable seat which reclined for sleeping --- all this TLC made the time fly. In Rio, Vincent had arranged for a mini van to aid our transfer to the Hotel Windsor Asturias. The van was actually a tiny station wagon, so Vincent took another taxi too, and we got to the hotel in separate cars, but with everything in one piece and accounted for. Now, we were truly ready for our Brazilian Adventure. After dinner we went to the 22nd floor Terrace to see Rio. Fantastic! From our hotel we could see most of Rio: Sugar Loaf Mountain with its cable car and Mt. Corcovado with the 125 foot tall statue of Christ the Redeemer whose arms are out stretched embracing the city. It was very exciting seeing the Copa Cabana beach and the famous Maracana` Soccer Stadium. We took a tour to Corcovado to see the Cristos and it was awe inspiring. The face and hands were sculpted in France, but the huge body was constructed in Rio of local sandstone, a soft porous stone which requires frequent upkeep. Unfortunately, at present, there is a chain link scaffold over the statue during this resurfacing. Although the purity of line was marred, the majesty and enormity of the work was still evident. However, this was one of the few times in all of our world travels that we visited a country in which we could not understand the language at all and very few people we encountered could speak English. Portugese is actually worse than Greek to us, since Vincent understands a bit of Greek. Just ordering dinner was an adventure, we thought that whatever came would be a surprise; so we went with the flow and life was very enjoyable. Our hotel was centrally located and the guests were international. Very interesting. EMBARKATION Once again Vincent had arranged for a special van to transfer us to the ship. One showed up on time with seats for twelve passengers, but no space for luggage or the wheelchair and scooter. A second call was made and a Mercedes van showed up and we were off to the Port, a distance of about one mile at a cost of $100. A bit expensive but the transfer was a relief to us. Check in was simple, since the ship was staying overnight and there was no specific rush hour or crowds during this time. We were delighted to be back on the Star Princess for the third time. THE SHIP The Star Princess is Hull #6051 built by the Fincantieri Monfalcone Shipyards of Italy and launched in 2002 at a cost of $450 million. Like her sister ships in the Grand Class, Grand, Golden and Sapphire Princesses, she has the distinctive "spoiler" in the upper stern, which holds the Skywalker Nightclub. She is 951 feet long with a beam of 159 feet (including the Bridge Wing) and a gross tonnage of 109,000 with a draft of a mere 26 feet. Her maximum speed is 24 knots and her registry is Hamilton, Bermuda. Average passenger capacity is 2,600 and her crew numbers 1,150 -- an excellent passenger to crew ratio. She has 28 wheelchair-accessible cabins, which are not reserved for wheelchair only guests. It is a pity to see physically challenged people struggling with equipment, while able bodied passengers are using facilities they do not need. The ADA needs to be made aware of this. Our Travel Agent Skyscraper Tours keep medical certificates on hand in order to avoid this very dilemma -- all agents should be required to do so. In our review of our first sailing on the Star Princess 2005, we did a detailed deck-by-deck description of the Star, so we refer the reader to this same site for that. Here, we will note some tricks to getting around the Star. Vincent's Scooter got hung up on several too steep entrances and exits-- for example the nearest route to the Lido Deck 14 could not be used. However, if we took the elevator down to Promenade Deck 7, then went aft to the central lifts (elevators) and then up to Deck 14 and voila` there was no obstruction. The Promenade is also too difficult to enter because of sharply angled ramps. Mary's wheelchair could handle them, but it was a bumpy ride (don't try this while carrying a drink or food!) The Star's unique Centrum (Decks 5, 6, and 7) is a hub of activity, due to neatly clustered venues. Deck 5 is the lovely Piazza with its mosaic floor, on which the Argentinian Tango dancers Fernando and Cecilia executed their precise and fluid movements. This was not just a series of poses like on "Dancing With the Stars;" rather this was delightfully staccato and rhythmic steps. Bravissimi! So beautiful that Mary went to see them daily at 1, 2 and 3pm. Deck 5 also has the Internet Cafe` and the Library, Vines Shop and Bar (with wine tastings and cheese pairings. Most important of all, here is located the International Cafe` serving wonderful coffees, espresso, pastries, delicate sandwiches, bigne and doughnuts. Starting at 11:00am they also have hot cookies for which passengers line up. The Centrum on Deck 5 is a busy place. On Deck 6 are the Boutiques, the Passenger Services Desk and the Grand Casino. On Deck 7 are the Wheelhouse Bar, the Explorers Lounge, the Vista Lounge, the Tour Office and the Wedding Chapel. The Centrum is the Hub of many activities and a great meeting place. Our old friend Hotel General Manager Gianfranco Sampiero told us of the logistical inconveniences which occurred at Valparaiso because of the Chilean Earthquake. There were passengers with travel problems and difficulties loading supplies. But, all were accommodated with patience. Of course, there are always those people unwilling to allow an act of nature to cause them inconvenience. We say go with the flow and everyone will be happier. Under Sampiero the ship is run beautifully and she remains lovely. Captain Edward Perrin keeps to his schedule. At one time he was First Officer of the Love Boat, what a recommendation! FOOD & SERVICE Captain Perrin's cocktail parties are well attended and during this cruise there were three formal nights to remember. Service on board always filters down from above and Captain Perrin has set a high standard for all to follow. Service is top notch. Food is where Princess excels; whenever we are asked which cruise line we prefer, we always respond that for food we suggest Princess, because most of her Executive Chefs are Italian and now we will add that the Corporate Culinary Ambassador and Master Chef is Commendatore Alfredo Marzi; His resume mentions that he has directed and supervised official banquets in honor of many famous guests including the following: Queen Elizabeth II, Diana, Princess of Wales, Former King Umberto of Italy, U.S. President George Bush, Italian President Ciampi, etc. --- (How's that for name dropping?) As a graduate of L'Ecole Culinare Francaise August Escoffier, Marzi is esteemed world wide and sets all the menus and recipes for the Princess ships. He is the original "Love Boat" Chef and now visits all the Princess ships in rotation. We were lucky that he was on board this cruise. His potato gnocchi are incredibly light and served in a delicate cheese sauce. The Star Princess' Executive Chef is Paolo Merio, a jovial master chef who apprenticed under Senior Exec. Chef Antonio Cereda and it shows. Born in Como, Italy, he is the product of a family steeped in fine food for generations. He attended the Hotel School of Bellaggio and began his Princess career at the age of 17, as the youngest employee in the Princess Fleet. From galley helper in 1986 to Executive Chef in 2000 - a 14-year meteoric rise. Enough about personalities, now the food. The Chef's Dinner: Quail & venison terrine with mesclun salad; Twice baked goat's cheese Souffle` with garlic Sabayon; Wild mushroom cream soup with Madeira sun-blushed tomatoes; Boston bib lettuce salad with shallot dressing; Palate cleanser of strawberry and thyme infused lemon Sorbet. Choice of Entree: Griddled sea bass with Champagne risotto; Seared scallops in citrus butter, red bliss potatoes and vegetables Julienne; Pork tenderloin with cocoa spice rub, natural au jus and ratatouille; Pink roasted superior rack of lamb with rosemary and Boulangere potatoes; or Vegan English Stilton with crisp leek hay and Port wine glaze. Or you may try the roasted Portobello, or fettucine Alfredo which are always available daily, as are shrimp cocktail, classic Caesar's salad, seared salmon, broiled chicken breast au jus, beef medallions with Bearnaise sauce, and southern fried chicken with French fries and coleslaw. Now for dessert, try the Menage a Trois (Mini raspberry panna cotta, an Opera Gatteau and a Honey hazelnut semifreddo with Nutella Twist), or maybe a sugar free mint chocolate cake, or the "Always Available" Princess Love Boat Dream (Mousse on Brownie), traditional NY cheesecake, fruit or cheese plates, or a variety of homemade ice creams: Amaretto, Butter Toffee, Rum Raisin, Blueberry Sorbet or many others. Coffee or tea with made on board Mignardises. The best dessert was the Chef's concoction of an Amaretto Mousse, with a starfish cookie with strawberries tumbling out and all arranged in front of a spun sugar Red Coral Reef Sea Fan (beautiful to look at and taste). Dinner on board the Star Princess is always an occasion with Maitre D' Giuseppe "Beppe" Castino orchestrating it. Our Head Waiters Andras and Wolfgang Pauer made meals interesting. They prepared specialities in the Portofino Dining Room tableside such as the following: Pastas, and desserts like Bananas Foster, Cherries Jubilee and on St. Patrick's Day, Irish Coffee. Our waiters were Edgar and his Assistant Rodel, who were very attentive and helpful: One evening when Mary was ill, Vincent went down to say we would not dine in the dining room and in five minutes Maitre D`Beppe called our stateroom to say dinner would be brought to our cabin. And what a dinner it was: Soup, baked gnocchi, Chocolate Mousse, sorbets and a bottle of Verdicchio to wash it down! Every morning we used the Bell Box (Room Service) for Continental Breakfast in our cabin --- it was always on time and coffee and chocolate were hot. Lunch time was always interesting and a special treat, since Chef Merio did many special features poolside on Deck 14 such as the following: Sushi displays, Mexican buffets, Italian trattoria spreads, tapas, etc.... Needless, to say our South America cruise was a gastronomic tour. We try to avoid the buffet because of the wheelchair, but buffet server, Gerry, helped us every time we ventured forth and gave us courage to return. Two days before Ft. Lauderdale Commendatore Marzi made a spectacular Easter display of huge chocolate eggs (12 t0 24 inches tall) all uniquely decorated. We'll just call him the Michelangelo of Edible Sculpture; he is truly an artist. The huge displays had all the usual suspects: bunnies, chickens, hens, ducks, geese, flowers and even a "Tweetie" bird. We are positive that the cruisers on the next week were flabbergasted by this wonderland of art. CABIN Stateroom Baja 303 on Deck 11 is wheelchair accessible. When entering on the left is a parking space for the wheelchair; a triple armoire with two sections for hanging and one with a set of shelves and the personal safe. Next, there is a TV, a refrigerator and a long desk/vanity with a lighted mirror and four drawers, a desk chair and an upholstered chair. When entering on the right, there is the large bathroom with 4'X4' shower with a fold-up seat, sink a mirror and nice shelves for amenities. The beds were two cot size bunks. When we asked that they be made into one, the response was that "As singles you will have more room in the cabin." Next time (May 9, 2010 on the Emerald Princess) we will insist on our request, since we were not happy with the configuration! The far wall had all windows and the sliding door to the balcony, which held a chaise lounge, two other chairs and a large table. Alas, there was no automatic door opener which makes it difficult to enter and exit the cabin. Each time, it was a logistical event. ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director J.J. Ullrich has personality, pep and leads the fun aboard the Star with enthusiasm. The best show was the folkloric "Brasileirissimo Samba Show" Costumes were fantastic; featured were Capoeira Maculele and Samba --- WOW! --- This ship had new release movies in several venues: The Princess Theatre, the Vista Lounge and the Pool Deck Gigantic Screen which featured Cirque Du Soleil "Delirium." The production shows in the Theatre were "Ports of Call" and "Cinematastic." The Star Princess had something always going on from the top Deck 17 "Skywalkers" to Deck 5 Piazza. No one should go away bored. There is also the Scholarship at Sea Program: with computer courses, photography, ceramics, ballroom dancing, culinary arts and wine tasting. There are also gym, swimming, golf, trivia, bingo, the Casino tournaments, etc. PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Embarkation suggested after 2pm. Overnight in Rio to facilitate tours of this beautiful city. Tours organized by Princess: Best of Rio, visit to Sugarloaf and Christ the Redeemer (8hrs. $199); Christ the Redeemer, visit the 125-ft-tall statue on top of Corcovado Mountain (4hrs. $89). Day 2. Rio De Janeiro Depart 5:00pm Day 3. Santos, Brazil Arrive 7:00am Depart 7:00pm Tours by Princess: Highlights Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city with barbecue lunch at a traditional Churrascaria (8hrs. $149); Tour of Santos & Guaruja`, a coastal resort (4hrs. $69). Days 4. and 5. Sea Days Day 6. Salvador, Brazil Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Tours by Princess: Salvador Highlights, bus ride through modern Salvador, visit craft shops, artisan studios and cafes (4hrs. $55); A Walk Through Historic Salvador, a guided tour including two beautiful Baroque churches (4hrs. $45). Day 7. Sea Day Day 8. Recife, Brazil Arrive 8am Depart 5:00pm We visited our local friends Alessandra & Eduardo and toured the city by car. We enjoyed Olinda, Brazil's old colonial capital, with the many varicolored houses and historical churches. That morning on the Pier we saw from the ship a group of dancers, in colorful costumes, with small umbrellas, doing the "Frevo", a local characteristic dance. With a very energetic "Crescendo"! Day 9. Sea Day Day 10. Fortaleza, Brazil Arrive 7:00am Depart 4:00pm Tours available: Introduction to Fortaleza, a narrated drive through the city with visits to the Neo-Gothic Cathedral, the Central Market, etc. (4 hrs. $49); Cumbuco Beach Tour, a 45-minute drive to this famous beach (4hrs. $79). Days 11, 12 and 13. At Sea On day 11, on March 26, at 10:30am we crossed the Equator. On that occasion a traditional ceremony was performed by "King Neptune" and his court on Deck 14 (Neptune's Reef & Pool) Day 14. Barbados Arrive 7:00am Depart 5:00pm A variety of tours are offered by Princess, from snorkeling to sailing and golfing, to scenic rides and safari adventures, etc.... Day 15. Antigua Arrive 9:00am Depart 5:30pm As for Barbados the same can be said for Antigua, more than twenty Tours are offered by Princess. Check the list on Princess' website. Day 16. St. Thomas, USVI Arrive 7:00am Depart 5:30pm US Passport Check. This island is a great place for tax-free shopping. Day 17. At Sea Day 18. At Sea and Captain Perrin's Farewell Cocktail Party Day 19. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. USA Arrive 7:00am DEBARKATION This was a simple and speedy affair, since we had already done our passport check in St. Thomas. All those in wheelchairs met in the Casino and were escorted from there to baggage pick up and Customs. We were in our van and headed home on I-95 at 9:45am. Excellent. SUGGESTIONS We strongly feel that wheelchair cabins should be available to those who need them and not to opportunists. A simple directive to travel agents should be made to inform them that the cruise line's policy will be to move those who ignore the rules to another cabin and it may not be one of their selection. Moreover, the cruise line should not assign the wheelchair accessible cabins to anyone without proper medical documentation until the last days of booking, when all the disabled passengers have been accommodated. We are ready for another cruise! We have booked our next cruise on the Emerald Princess for May 9, 2010 and look forward to see again our old friends, Hotel Manager Peter Hollinson and Maitre d' Nicola Furlan. Happy Cruising! Read Less
Sail Date March 2010

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