16 Rio de Janeiro Family Cruise Reviews

Chose this cruise for itinerary and Azamara name having cruised Azamara seven times before. The Pursuit celebrated its first Azamara anniversary and I’m not sure there will be a second because this ship does not measure up to the ... Read More
Chose this cruise for itinerary and Azamara name having cruised Azamara seven times before. The Pursuit celebrated its first Azamara anniversary and I’m not sure there will be a second because this ship does not measure up to the Journey or Quest in quality and service. Know for great dining selections, the Pursuits menue’s were lacking in quality — being over seasoned — and poorly prepared — over or under cooked. On this cruise, I chose the alternate menu over the daily menu several times because it lacked appeal. For the most part, the only vegetables presented were broccoli and cauliflower. Cabins in our area had a sewerage smell in the hallway. Tried to use a computer to print boarding passes in the “living” room but was unable to due to the room being used as a disco with low lighting. When asked to have lights turned on by the computers, a crew member said this request could not be done due to the way the lighting was connected in the room. Azamara’s multi-function rooms just don’t cut it. My suggestion: sacrifice a room or two and have specific card and computer rooms available 24x7. Housekeeping and other service associates were very helpful and efficient. Administrative staff was not as visable as on other Azamara cruises. Entertainment was typical cabaret style entertainment but would have enjoyed listening to the ships singers more than other entertainment. Overall, the Azamara Pursuit is a notch below its sister ships in quality and service. In June, we will be cruising on the Quest and if my review follows this review, we will be done with Azamara cruising and we are just two cruises away from our fiftieth cruise. Bottom line: when we pay for quality, we expect quality and up to now, Azamara met our requirements. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We wanted to experience South America and visit the above two places. The ports of call did not disappoint. We bought the indulgence package which was well worth the extra money. - The app needs work. It’s not updated and does not ... Read More
We wanted to experience South America and visit the above two places. The ports of call did not disappoint. We bought the indulgence package which was well worth the extra money. - The app needs work. It’s not updated and does not match the daily program. There is a lot of paper that could be saved...... The food never disappoints and the staff go out of there way to please you. We never meet so many like minded people up to the last day! The entertainment was solid and there are plenty of activities. The specialty restaurants are also top notch in food and service as well. The bar staff in the Den were brilliant. The crossing was great and the captain diverted the ship for us to see Fernando de Noronha island, 200 miles off the coast of Brazil. On our last leg from Casablanca to Lisbon, the captain did a brilliant job of steering the vessel so that we would feel the least amount of effects of storm heading towards us. He succeed brilliantly. A master class of navigation and meteorology! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
The embarkation process was catastrophic, it took me 6 hours to get onboard. Unacceptable. The cruise was fine, with some good points during the trip, such as the animation team, and bad ones, such as the pool water color (green) during ... Read More
The embarkation process was catastrophic, it took me 6 hours to get onboard. Unacceptable. The cruise was fine, with some good points during the trip, such as the animation team, and bad ones, such as the pool water color (green) during some days. The cabin was very good. The restaurants handled well all the people onboard, and the food variety was very good. However, the Red Velvet restaurant does not match the intent to have a more intimate and full service restaurant. Very crowded, the opposite of the idea. The schedule was not met in any destination. As a result, one of the planned stops, at Ilhabela, could not be done, resulting in a $100 credit for all cabins. I found it unfair, as one passenger could be alone in a cabin while others, such as myself, could have a family of three, for which $100 is almost nothing (3 drinks and 3 hot chocolates during the day and that's it!). The shows inside the ship were OK, with some better than others. In summary, the trip was fine but nothing beyond average. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Embarkation was great & smooth (vs. disembarkation which was a rotten experience; later). Rio de Janeiro was interesting to see with beaches, Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf. The city is a typical Latin city that is overcrowded ... Read More
Embarkation was great & smooth (vs. disembarkation which was a rotten experience; later). Rio de Janeiro was interesting to see with beaches, Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf. The city is a typical Latin city that is overcrowded and dirty. Spent a lot of time in traffic. Food however was excellent; fast, tasty & uniquely served. The next port was a non+, pretty much a repeat of Rio without the great attraction. Two cities in Uruguay were like the Riviera, clean very safe. Buenos Aires was more of Rio. Walk with the penguins was good but a long drive from port & a lot more walking to the ocean. Great welcome center but the bathrooms at the park were HORRIBLE; 3 of 5 toilets were broken, stalls had no paper and toilets were barely usable with no flush water (TP was on ONE roll outside the stalls). For the money that goes into that park, they need to do a better job! Rode a great train in Ushuaia, a new, replica of a 0*1*1*0 Garratt. The first port in Chile was a nice walk in the Antarctic rain forest, along a river to a great water fall, + a wine tasting at the end. Disembarked in Chile at San Antonio and traveled to Santiago. We had to CLEAR the ship by 0900. There was one gang-way for entrance of new crew and departing passenger. There was no order and no one controlling exiting passenger; it was a group, screwed-up mess (Viet Nam vets have an expression that I cannot use here - like cluster...). Groups were called before there was room to accommodate them for disembarkation. Long walk to buses (& I mean long). We took a shore excursion since our flight did not leave until 950 PM. Drive into Santiago was nice, stopped for snack on the way a cute little restaurant. In the city, typical traffic & inability to stop to & see points of interest. One local craft market that was overpriced and then a fancy mall for lunch (on our own). We at seafood of Abalone, potato salad and greens; delicious! Then on to the airport. WE STOOD for two hours before we could even check in, THOUSANDS of disembarked ship's passengers. This was INEXCUSABLE! I will never depart from Santiago, Chile again!!! Worse than De Gaul in Paris. Overall life on ship was great, great staff, great food & VERY comfortable accommodations. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
My wife and I embarked on the MSC Fantasia on December 8, 2018, on a cruise that departed from Rio de Janeiro, heading for Buenos Aires, returning to Punta Del Este and Ilha Grande. The trip was my wife's birthday present, and what ... Read More
My wife and I embarked on the MSC Fantasia on December 8, 2018, on a cruise that departed from Rio de Janeiro, heading for Buenos Aires, returning to Punta Del Este and Ilha Grande. The trip was my wife's birthday present, and what should have been of the dreams turned out to be a big disappointment. But I prefer to start with the good points: the cabin cleaning service was excellent, the waiters and, in general, the employees who occupied the most humble functions, mostly of Asian or Brazilian origin were kind and helpful, Chinese cooks and cooks, rude and moody. As for food, raw fruits and vegetables were of good quality. In addition, the trip was limited to delays, exaggerated mercantilism, bad food, animation and mediocre shows. Starting the week before the departure of the cruise. Affordable drink packages, which went on sale on the internet that were no longer cheap, were taken from the site. These same packages, traditionally also sold at the time of shipment, this time were not offered, being offered only on the ship for abusive prices. On delays, these occurred in all shipments and landings, damaging the stays in the scheduled ports, which were no longer long. The departure, scheduled for 5:00 pm, only happened around 8:00 pm, after an 8-hour wait in an uncomfortable terminal with huge queues for baggage check-in, entrance to the terminal, passage through the police and access to the ship. On the way from Rio to Buenos Aires, there was an unforeseen event. One passenger who needed medical attention had to be removed by helicopter, which entailed an additional 2 hours delay. The arrival in Buenos Aires scheduled for 9:00 am on December 13, only happened at 5:00 p.m., and we were only able to leave the ship at 7:00 p.m. A stop originally scheduled for the entire day of arrival plus the night and the half of the following day was reduced to the night of arrival, plus half the next day, harming both passengers who purchased excursions and those who planned independent tours and purchases . In Punta Del Este it was worse, in the landing made by boats that should be ready to transport the passengers, since the small time of stay on land, made us wait more than 2 hours, using a minimum number of boats, shortening the duration of the excursions and making it impossible to land many passengers who had to stay on the ship. Finally, having already compensated for all delays, the commander informs the cancellation of the landing in Ilha Grande, alleging bad weather and anticipating the arrival in Rio scheduled for December 16 at 7am, to December 15 at 9pm, unilaterally crediting the cabin bill, ridiculous $ 100 ($ 50 per person) without a simple apology. At the landing, in another giant row, I, who turned 60 this year, was prevented from entering the preferential line, since, according to the MSC employee, the queue was reserved for people over 65, contrary to Brazilian law . In the luggage shed, we took out our suitcase, without anyone having checked our tag number. In addition, I can summarize: - Second-class meats, served at the buffet and restaurant, except on the last day they served a better menu. - "Grilled" dipped in oil and sausages of very low quality. - Service charge charged on drinks taken at the counter, although this is already included in the ticket price. - Net price of drink charged on the order above that set in the menu (in my case, wine glasses). - Repetitive theater shows, always with the same numbers of juggling and acrobatics, changing only the costumes and songs. To conclude, I decided to make this trip under the influence of my brother who lives in Europe and made several cruises there, including MSC and was surprised by what happened and commented that incidents such as these reported would never be accepted, but with a large financial compensation or with significant All this burden caused by delays, lack of planning and logistics incompatibility was passed on from the company to the customer. The conclusion that I have reached is that these companies organize their trips according to the classification of passengers, and unfortunately for them, we are considered second class citizens and we are also reserved 2nd treatment, either in food, in shows or in treatment dispensed, which causes me great indignation to consider that this treatment was given to us in our yard. I advise anyone who has never done a cruise to not buy routes in Brazil or South America, because it will buy remains from Europe where it is winter and these ships would be idle if they stayed there. They sell their trips for the same price charged there and offer a misleading and low quality product. If you want stewardship, go to an "all inclusive" resort, or travel through Brazil or abroad and truly short the cities and beaches without time limitation, choosing your tours, accommodations, food and with much less probability of unforeseen. But if you still insist on taking a cruise, avoid this company. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
MSC MUSICA My wife and I , together with my sister and brother-in- law , booked for the Transatlantic cruise during the month of november 2017. We booked the cruise because Kras travels (the Netherlands) offered a special ... Read More
MSC MUSICA My wife and I , together with my sister and brother-in- law , booked for the Transatlantic cruise during the month of november 2017. We booked the cruise because Kras travels (the Netherlands) offered a special promotion. We took our transatlantic cruise from Venice to Rio de Janeiro, 21 nights (12 Nov to 5Dec2017) . We actually have no complaints at all. Everything went like clockwork from embarkation to debarkation. a little late leaving Venice but it actually made for a beautiful departure from port. The MSC MUSICA is a beautiful ship with plenty to keep you busy with so many places to walk around and see and things to do. We arrived at the cruise terminal early but everything went smoothly and after waiting in the cue for 30 minutes we were able to board. Our cabin was ready and also our cruise card so we were able to use our lunch. We then went to the buffet for lunch it was very busy but this was not a problem as there were staff at the buffet entrance who took you to a seat. Also there was a button on the table to summon a beverage waiter and they were very efficient. The food was hot and there was a good selection. I loved the majority of my breakfasts and lunches in the Deck 13 Buffet, unfortunately my dinners in the Restaurant were inconsistent and I did have several sub-par dinners. The buffet on the deck 13 The food and beverage manager Mr. BRUNO , organized his team and equipment as a 5 star hotelrestaurant. The equipments and cutlery always cleaned by his team from 8am to 8am, the wole day long. Food at the cruise was lovely, a lot of choice and variety. There were so many food choices on 6 corners including a bread and pastery, an Italian corner, a fruitcorner and a big buffet. They present several times a week , special items and a tapas- and brasilian event. Service was generally good. To enjoy a long cruise, you must prepare how you wish to spend the many sea days (here included 6 transatlantic sea days). While there was a multitude of activities we participated some activities offered by the Cruise Director. The entertainment was OK. Some of the stage shows were good some not, bands in the bars were varied. We were never bored for we met several travellers with the same age and ideas. We took a few very good shore excursions, but we mainly explored on our own, and took taxis and public transportation. We missed 1 of the 5 Brasilian ports due to storms. Once we sailed out of the Mediterranean, into the transatlantic crossing, it was very smooth sailing, and every day was sunny and warm towards Brasil. The cruise was pristine , immaculate, and the upkeep was spot on. The cruise is quieter this time of the year so we cannot make a review for the summer season. There is still a lot to do, because the animation is working during day-times but also every evening is there something to do. The cabins/bedrooms were fabulous we had a double room which was quite big and they were clean and looked very new. Our room was lovely the bed so comfortable and our housekeeping excellent. Stayed november 2017, traveled as two couples. Arthur and Catharina Jansz. Belgium/SpainMSC MUSICA My wife and I , together with my sister and brother-in- law , booked for the Transatlantic cruise during the month of november 2017. We booked the cruise because Kras travels (the Netherlands) offered a special promotion. We took our transatlantic cruise from Venice to Rio de Janeiro, 21 nights (12 Nov to 5Dec2017) . We actually have no complaints at all. Everything went like clockwork from embarkation to debarkation. a little late leaving Venice but it actually made for a beautiful departure from port. The MSC MUSICA is a beautiful ship with plenty to keep you busy with so many places to walk around and see and things to do. We arrived at the cruise terminal early but everything went smoothly and after waiting in the cue for 30 minutes we were able to board. Our cabin was ready and also our cruise card so we were able to use our lunch. We then went to the buffet for lunch it was very busy but this was not a problem as there were staff at the buffet entrance who took you to a seat. Also there was a button on the table to summon a beverage waiter and they were very efficient. The food was hot and there was a good selection. I loved the majority of my breakfasts and lunches in the Deck 13 Buffet, unfortunately my dinners in the Restaurant were inconsistent and I did have several sub-par dinners. The buffet on the deck 13 The food and beverage manager Mr. BRUNO , organized his team and equipment as a 5 star hotelrestaurant. The equipments and cutlery always cleaned by his team from 8am to 8am, the wole day long. Food at the cruise was lovely, a lot of choice and variety. There were so many food choices on 6 corners including a bread and pastery, an Italian corner, a fruitcorner and a big buffet. They present several times a week , special items and a tapas- and brasilian event. Service was generally good. To enjoy a long cruise, you must prepare how you wish to spend the many sea days (here included 6 transatlantic sea days). While there was a multitude of activities we participated some activities offered by the Cruise Director. The entertainment was OK. Some of the stage shows were good some not, bands in the bars were varied. We were never bored for we met several travellers with the same age and ideas. We took a few very good shore excursions, but we mainly explored on our own, and took taxis and public transportation. We missed 1 of the 5 Brasilian ports due to storms. Once we sailed out of the Mediterranean, into the transatlantic crossing, it was very smooth sailing, and every day was sunny and warm towards Brasil. The cruise was pristine , immaculate, and the upkeep was spot on. The cruise is quieter this time of the year so we cannot make a review for the summer season. There is still a lot to do, because the animation is working during day-times but also every evening is there something to do. The cabins/bedrooms were fabulous we had a double room which was quite big and they were clean and looked very new. Our room was lovely the bed so comfortable and our housekeeping excellent. Stayed november 2017, traveled as two couples. Arthur and Catharina Jansz. Belgium/Spain Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
My wife and I took a Cruise at MSC Musica. RIo-Buenos Aires-Rio. After purchasing the tickets, directly with MSC, we received, on the eve of the trip, an email confirming a cabin with a balcony. We were very happy because we bought the ... Read More
My wife and I took a Cruise at MSC Musica. RIo-Buenos Aires-Rio. After purchasing the tickets, directly with MSC, we received, on the eve of the trip, an email confirming a cabin with a balcony. We were very happy because we bought the Bingo rate and knew we could go to internal or external cabin with balcony. Confirmed that it was external, with balcony, we rejoice even more. On the day of the checkin, they confirmed our cabin and we dispatched the bag. Arriving in the cabin, our bag was already there and even the beverages tickets that had been bought, were on the bed, waiting for us. The chamberlain introduced himself, "ticked" our name on the passenger list under his responsibility and put himself at our disposal. The journey began in the best possible way. My wife loved the cabin, took pictures, sent them to friends, etc. After about an hour we were there, I decided to take a shower. When I went out of the shower, naked, the door of the cabin opens and another couple enters !! I pulled the towel over to cover myself, but it was extremely embarrassing. The couple, it was not their fault. MSC gave them another card with the same number of our cabin! Very embarrassed, I put my clothes on and went down to reception to try to solve the problem. The man at the front desk said that I would have to leave the cabin for this couple to use and they will send me to an internal cabin. I answered that no, I had received that cabin, the checkin had confirmed that cabin and that my things were waiting for me in that cabin (suitcase and beverage tickets) We even had already taken all the clothes and kept them in the closet. Also, I confirmed with this couple that their ticket was also promotional. So, why they would get us out of there ??? The receptionist said that he could not do anything and that I was supposed to go upstairs, pack my things and that someone would come there to help me with my bags and tell us where we were going. I went back, embarrassed, My wife was very upset and we started to pack things back. We waited for an hour in the cabin.Nothing. I went down again with the same gentleman and he asked me: Why do you not changed yet? I lost my temper: I said: you told me to wait. I do not know which cabin you will send me. even if I knew, would I open the door with my finger? Where's the card? He then took the card and gave it to me. Needless to say, we had to carry the bags ourselves. Arriving in the inner cabin, my wife almost cried. Suffocating. She went totake a shower. It only had cold water. Can you imagine the disappointment ??? We called the maintenance service. The guy went there after a while and said that he needed to change the register that opened the water, but that he did something that we would be able to use for a while, until he fix it later. In fact, the hot water worked. But it was closing after a few time and we had to constantly regulate. All of these situations have spoiled our whole experience on the ship. On the second day, at night, they left a champagne in our cabin, apologizing. Later, around midnight, we were informed that there was an external cabin availiable. I decided to move in the same night, because the internal cabin was very bad. We packaged everything and by one o'clock AM, we were in our new cabin. Tired, but at least we got a decent shower. I felt really embarrassedin froint a couple of strangers and MSC ignored our suffering. The ship's reception staff is insensitive and does not seem to care for the guests. Oh ... I forgot to mention one detail: On the first day, I called the MSC number where I had bought the ticket and they advised me to talk to someone from the guest relation in the ship. I went to the front desk and asked to speak to her. I was told that she was not available and that if I wanted to, I could schedule a meeting with her the other day, at 10 o'clock AM. But it would not help me, because she coulddo nothing. Even so, I scheduled the meeting. The other day at 10 AM, what happened? She was not there and could not receive me. I reiterate that in the purchase of the fare, I knew that the cabin would be allocated by lot. But after the confirmation by email, checkin, after we are using the cabin, to be surprised by other guests, in a delicate situation, It was terrible! We could not have been "ripped" out of our cabin like that. It was a monumental MSC mistake that, I repeat, embarrassed me and spoiled our experience on board. They tried to solve it later, but it was little, in comparisson to what we went through. I would not recommend this cruise because of the lack of organization, the insensitivity of the attendants on the ship and for the embarassement I was exposed. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
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
This was a bucket list trip around South America. Boarding was total disorganized and took over 4 1/2 hours. No one in the terminal had any answers as to why the delays. The ship is old and outdated. stains in carpeting, ratty mats and ... Read More
This was a bucket list trip around South America. Boarding was total disorganized and took over 4 1/2 hours. No one in the terminal had any answers as to why the delays. The ship is old and outdated. stains in carpeting, ratty mats and flooring in the gym, no nets on basketball courts, broken machines in the casino. When I spoke to a supervisor about the condition of the ship I was told" Sir, you have to understand that the ship will be going into dry dock so we're not bothering now with those things." Could not believe a crew member would say that to a recently boarded passenger. Got sick first night. Went to medical center second day but could not be seen then due to emergency. went next day and received a bill for $600. Due to critically ill patient we had to turn around and as a result of the delays we missed two of 5 ports- Montevideo and Falkland Islands. Cabin next door to us flooded and at 5:30 AM we had to move ourselves into another cabin. No help from crew as they were "busy" cleaning up. Two small fires during cruise- one in engine room and one in incinerator room. Food was very mediocre in buffet and dining room. The food in Sabatini's was very good. So many problems that the line finally offered passengers a credit on the cruise and on a future cruise. That was well received but as for this cruise, we spent 11 of 14 days at sea on a somewhat run down ship. Very disappointing and a waste of a lot of money. Front desk staff were great as was Cruise Director, trying to be helpful. Read Less
Sail Date January 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
We had never been to South America so we decided on this cruise. Rio De Janeiro and Buenos Aires were places on our bucket list. Our final decision for this trip was that the price of this cruise seemed to be quite good. Oceania is ... Read More
We had never been to South America so we decided on this cruise. Rio De Janeiro and Buenos Aires were places on our bucket list. Our final decision for this trip was that the price of this cruise seemed to be quite good. Oceania is a our favorite cruise line. The size of the ship is perfect for us. Not too much waiting. Food is excellent, especially at the specialty restaurants. Service is also excellent. Overall we enjoyed this cruise very much. We met some new friends. The excursions were a bit weak on this trip. Locations not as good as in their europe offerings. Some excursions had such bad traffic that most of the time was spent on the bus. Also, this cruise had more ports which required tendering from further away. There were a lot of complaints due to the length of time and weather situation (hot!). The South America cruise is good if you like warm weather. There isn't as much to see as the Europe cruises. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We took this wonderful cruise, after the last game of the world cup. Been a avid cruiser, I saw the cruise line had a nice route and decided to book it. I book a yact club family suite after reading good reviews about it. I strongly ... Read More
We took this wonderful cruise, after the last game of the world cup. Been a avid cruiser, I saw the cruise line had a nice route and decided to book it. I book a yact club family suite after reading good reviews about it. I strongly recommend the Yact club!!!. From the moment we arrived on board, it was wonderful. We were received by a Butler that took us directly to our beautiful suite. From the pillow menu, to the nice stocked mini bar, to all the personal attention we recieved at all times; I must say that by far, that is been the best cruise we ever taken. we were spolied from day one. Our first contact at the consierge, Tomas, and Guiseppe the Le muse maitre D, from there on it was amazing!!!!. I had read mixed reviews from past Divina cruisers and was careful before booking the cruise. I guess must of the negative complains are due to the fact that people are just to cruising with non European companies. Europeans are more open to change as others. We have no complains whatsoever and we are already looking forward to book our next summer holidays with MSC. Keep up your excellent work, and thanks for a memorable cruise!!! Nieves Family Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
South America/Antarctica - December 15- Jan. 9 on HAL’s Zaandam I just got back today from a fabulous cruise on the Zaandam. This truly was the trip of a lifetime. I got same great pictures of Antarctica. We avoided the deep freeze back ... Read More
South America/Antarctica - December 15- Jan. 9 on HAL’s Zaandam I just got back today from a fabulous cruise on the Zaandam. This truly was the trip of a lifetime. I got same great pictures of Antarctica. We avoided the deep freeze back at home and had almost 24 hours of daylight. We experienced some other cultures that we may never had experienced. We had wonderful tablemates and enjoyed dinner with them immensely. Our family consists of me, Cathy, semi-retired age 50, ds18, dd15, ds8. Everyone loved the cruise. DS8 cried on the last night and has been constantly bugging me for the past several days about when our next cruise is. He is also convinced that I should get a job on a cruise ship so that he can sail with me. We booked the cruise about 4 months in advance. We had sailed on the Nieuw Amsterdam in July, 2012 for a 24 night Med cruise, so we were well prepared for the 21 night South America cruise. Originally, I was going to post this as a semi-live report, but the Zaandam’s internet was not up to the task. My apologies for the length of the review. Our ship’s itinerary Dec. 18-19 Rio de Janeiro Dec. 22-23 Buenos Aires Dec. 24 Montevideo Dec. 27 Stanley, Falkland Islands Dec. 28-Jan. 1 Cruising Antarctica Jan. 2 Ushuaia Jan. 3 Punta Arenas Jan. 6 Puerto Montt Jan. 8 Valparaiso (end of cruise) Pre- cruise Toronto to Iguassu Falls Our cruise left from Rio de Janeiro. We flew in 2 days ahead for a visit at Iguassu Falls. The journey was scheduled to last 21 hours from Toronto. Our flight from Toronto to Washington, DC was on time, but our flight from DC to Sao Paulo was delayed 2.5 hours which took up most of our connection time. Although the United flight attendants said that there would be a gate agent to help us with the connections, there wasn’t anyone in the jetway or gate area except for several people who looked like they were on break. At Sao Paulo, we had to go through immigration, collect our luggage,and recheck the luggage for a domestic flight to IGU. This was very quick, but we still missed our connecting flight with TAM. TAM had no clue what to do about our missed connection and said to talk to United. There was no one at the United desk, and I was told there wouldn’t be for another 4.5 hours. Uggh. We had already been travelling for almost 24 hours. My next strategy was to try to find the local number for United online. Good news - GRU has free internet. Bad news- it is abysmally slow, so I was doubtful that I would be able to connect. After 20 minutes of trying, I was able to connect to the airport’s wifi, bring up the United website and find the local phone number for the airline. Luckily, the local phone number had a selection for English and I was connected to a United agent who spoke English. She told me we were booked on a flight that left in 1.5 hours with GOL. Great! But it would have been better if the there had been someone at the airport to tell me this. Other people who flew out of Toronto on my flight, didn’t get their connection to Rio until midnight. Another lady I met from Vancouver, had her first flight from Toronto cancelled due to a snowstorm, then missed her connection in Sao Paulo. She was 2 days late getting into Rio. Luckily, she had planned for 4 days in Rio. Pre-cruise Iguassu Falls In Iguassu Falls, we stayed at Iguassu Resort. This was convenient to the airport and the National Park. The resort had a lovely main pool area, with live music that played in the evenings. The restaurants onsite were very expensive - 52 reals ($26 US) for the buffet. And no, the buffet was not all that great - it looked like a $10 buffet. We opted for the Asian restaurant and left hungry. I also left with with tummy trouble that lasted until I broke down and took the levaquin that my travel medicine doctor had prescribed, 5 days later. When we got back to the room, we discovered that the room service menu was significantly cheaper and ordered from there from then on. The National Park was very nice, very well run. Our taxi dropped us off and there was someone there to direct us to the cashier. After the cashier, we got on a very nice double decker bus that took us to the beginning of the main trail. This trail starts right in front of Hotel das Cataratas, the only hotel in the park. Since there were four of us, we would have needed 2 rooms at this hotel, instead of one at Iguassu Resort. If there had been two of us, I would definitely have stayed at Hotel das Cataratas which would have given us the opportunity to visit the falls whenever we liked. The main trail was 1.5 km long, along a boardwalk. There are quite a few stairs on this walk, it’s not handicapped friendly. It took us about 1.5 hours to do the entire walk at a slow pace. Boarding Our flight to Rio was uneventful. The IGU airport is very new and nice. It is also very small which was a good thing. We did not have any trouble speaking English - or my attempts at Portuguese in Foz do Iguacu. The taxi booths at Rio are right next to the baggage claim, and in case you miss those, there is one about 50 feet directly in front of the doors from baggage claim. They take reals or dollars or credit cards. They gave me a quote in USD that was better than the exchange rate my bank gave me, but because I had quite a few reals left over, I used those. Once we passed the booths, my son, who was 10 feet ahead of me, was approached by a gypsy cab person, but he quickly backed off when he saw my chit for the taxi. The English/Portuguese started to break down when we reached the actual taxi stand and in the taxi itself. The name for the cruiseport is Praca Maua. My first attempt at pronouncing this was bad. Correct pronounciation is prahssah mao-ah. Even then, the cab driver wanted to discuss exactly where we wanted to be left off. He finally used hand signals and we agreed that I was getting on a ship there. Baggage dropoff was very quick - too quick. They had taken two of our 5 bags before they understood that, yes, I did have the luggage tags on me, even though they weren’t attached. So, two bags got whisked away without luggage tags. Don’t worry, they said, they’ll use the name tags on the luggage, except they never actually verified that there were name tags on the luggage. I am a little paranoid about this as on my very first cruise (on a different cruise line) my one and only piece of luggage was given to ship’s personnel at the transfer to the ship and was not seen again for 7 days. I had taken pictures at the Rio airport of each piece of luggage, so I wasn’t tooo concerned. We entered the terminal. There are sundry shops in the terminal, so it would be a good place to pick up things you had forgotten to pack. They have us a number (14), the health questionnaire and asked us to sit. Two minutes later, they told us to get in line. The lines were not well marked, and we almost boarded a different ship. We finally joined the looong line for checkin. After a few minutes, I started musing about how I wished we had priority checkin. Our line hadn’t moved at all. Wait! We did have priority checkin! We were in a suite! Out of that line, and into another line, which was even less well signed. Here, there were agents who were twiddling their thumbs. The agent took our passports, and said we’d get them at the end of the cruise. They also took or checked our Argentinian reciprocity fee receipts. Pictures taken, we headed for the ship. The stateroom - Originally, I had booked an oceanview for the 4 of us. None of the balcony staterooms on the ship sleep 4. So, it was an oceanview or a suite for 3 1/2 times the price. Ummm, I’ll take the oceanview. Two weeks prior to the cruise, I was emailed with an upsell and I took it. This is our first time in a suite on any of our cruises. We are in cabin 7022 which is directly across the hall from the Neptune Lounge. Although the food selection at breakfast is not large in the lounge, it had some of my favourite foods including smoked salmon and bagels, fruit, pastries, tea, coffee, cappucino. Unfortunately the cabin was under the Lido, and I could never quite figure out why, but every morning, starting around 5 am, there was something being dragged or pushed above our cabin. It sounded like we were underneath a bowling alley. One of the very first nights, something was not secured and every time the ship rolled, something above us would roll, rumble, rumble, rumble and then BAAANG! when it reached a wall. As I said, just like a bowling alley. The ship - Zaandam came out of drydock about 6 weeks ago. The carpeting throughout the ship has been changed. The air conditioning works well as does the plumbing. In our suite, the upholstery on the chairs and sofa as well as the curtains all look new. Towards the end of the cruise, I noticed that some of the chair upholstery had detached from the rest of the chair. The bathtub, tiling, and counters in the bathroom look old. Everything is very clean. About halfway through the cruise, one of my dd’s friends balcony cabins was flooded. On our first day in Antarctica, the potable water was shut down for a few minutes because of a flood in the Lido restaurant. Our tablemates got a picture of the flooding - a water main had broken and there was a waterfall coming out of the ceiling through a light fixture. On one of the last sea days, the dreaded 7 short blasts followed by a long one sounded at 7:20 am. An electrical fire in a light fixture on deck 1 was detected just a few cabins down from our originally booked cabin. At 7:32 am, the captain announced the light fixture had been removed and ordered emergency response teams to stand down. Demographics. Most of the passengers are in their 50’s and 60’s. I have met more teachers - mostly retired- on this cruise. This includes the 4 other people at our dining table, people on our shore excursion and others. That’s fine with me - I’m a teacher too. Club HAL and the Loft At the beginning of the cruise, there were about 30 kids, including 20 teenagers. About 5 more teenagers and 4 more 8-12 year olds got on Buenos Aires. DD15 easily found 2 other 15 year old girls to pal around with. DS8 is happy to have a few other kids, a couple of counsellors and a Wii and an Xbox in the kids club. Like other ships he has been on, he wants to be there every minute that the kids club is open. Club HAL on the Zaandam is not particularly handicapped friendly. The aft elevator does not go up to deck 9 where Club HAL is. You either have to walk up the stairs outside the Lido on deck 8 or take different elevators, go outside, and skirt through the tennis or basketball court on the sports deck. Food One of the things I liked best about our first cruise on HAL, in 2012, on the Nieuw Amsterdam, was the food, especially the desserts. While the Zaandam has the same menu, the food was not quite the same. The descriptions on the menu often did not match what was served. For example, the lettuce wraps were not wrapped in lettuce. My favourite on Nieuw Amsterdam had been the fruit crisps. On Zaandam, they consisted of mostly crisp and hardly any fruit. The worst example was the Black Forest cake. It had neither chocolate nor cherries, nor was very cake like. It was a white gelatinous mousse. The fruit pies were equally bad - very very little fruit and lots of starch or gelatin to hold the jelly like filling together. On Christmas Day, my stomach was feeling bad, but Maine lobster was on the menu - can’t miss that. Well, I should have. It was “lobster thermidor”, which was a grey paste with a couple of miniscule pieces of lobster served in a lobster shell. Gross. There was a dessert extravaganza on one of the last sea days. None of the cakes were labelled. The chefs served DS8 two pieces of desserts. After he ate 80% of one of them, I tried it - it was dripping with rum! December 19 - 4x4 to Tijuca Forest Tijuca is pronounced tee-zhooo-ca. The 4x4’s were old army-style trucks which we boarded at the port. Ten of us sat in the back on 2 benches. I think the truck had a top speed of 40 mph. Unfortunately, we were on a highway with a 50 mph limit. This was not exactly the fresh air excursion we signed up for. It took 75 minutes to get to the forest. There were 2 stops within the forest for about 20 minutes each. We saw some beautiful waterfalls. There was a short walk through the forest. There were police stationed at the stops within the forest as there has been muggings of tourists recently. There was an additional stop on a beach where we watched the hang gliders land.We did drive past Ipanema and Copacabana beaches. In total, we spent 3 hours crammed in the 4x4. I’d give this shore excursion a 3/5. December 22 Buenos Aires - Shore Excursion - Markets of Buenos Aires We were in Buenos Aires for 2 nights. Some passengers got on and some got off. There was no noticeable difference in the numbers on the ship. Temperature was about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Our shore excursion was Markets of Buenos Aires. This is a 4 hour excursion. The markets were flea markets. No thanks. The last stop was at Ricoleta cemetary which was much more interesting. DS18 wished we could have stayed longer, but given the temperature, it was way too hot for me. I would give this one a 2/5. December 24 - Montevideo We got off the ship, but did not do a shore excursion. None of the ship’s offerings appealed to us. There are shops across the street from the port, but many were closed because it was Christmas Eve. Montevideo has a tradition of spraying people with champagne or other liquids on Christams Eve. They also set off firecrackers in the streets. We attempted to go further into the shopping area, but some firecrackers were set off that prevented this. I saw one passenger that had been hit by liquid. The souvenirs were overpriced in the two shops we saw. December 27 - Stanley, Falklands Islands We prebooked a trip to Volunteer Point with Estancia Excursions. HAL let us know that we were going to the Falklands 5 days prior to sailing, although it was always on the itinerary as “weather permitting”. They opened up Falklands shore excursions at the same time. Volunteer Point was $349 pp and sold out before the second day of the cruise. The tenders started leaving around 7:45 am, but there was no announcement. We just decided to head down to see if we could get off, and we got on about the 4th tender. The ride was about 20 minutes. Estancia Excursions appeared to be the only private vendor at the dock. They were swamped by people trying to book last minute. They took out probably 12-16 4x4s. The trip out was an adventure in itself. Volunteer Point was excellent and would be well worth the price of admission on the ship’s excursion. The drive to Volunteer Point was incredible. The first 50 minutes or so were on paved and then gravel road. The last 70 minutes were on peat. At Volunteer Point, there were both King penguins and Magellan penguins. The King penguins were very handsome birds and outshone the Magellans. The scenery was great as well. I rate this excursion as a 5/5. December 28 Sea Day This was the day I wished I were home. The seas were quite bad - about 20 feet. I was terribly seasick. I took ginger plus meclizine which put me to sleep, but still left my stomach feeling awful. December 29-31 Antarctica Fabulous otherworldly scenery. This was the whole point of the cruise for me. There were 3 Antarctic experts on board and they did lectures on sea days throughout the cruise, which were fabulous. We were supposed to have workers from Palmer station come on board to give a talk as well, but the weather was not agreeable to boarding them. January 1 Drake Passage More heavy seas, but not as bad as the crossing to the south. We circumnavigated Hornus Island which is the island containing Cape Horn. It is part of Chile. I saw a Chilean naval vessel close by to starboard as we started our circumnavigation. The horn saluted them as they dropped off. IMO, it appears that HAL has solved the problem of how to get from Argentina to the Falklands and back to Argentina - they inserted Uruguay before the Falklands, and then got the Chilean government to admit them to Chile when they circumnavigated Hornus Island - before going to Ushuaia. Jan. 2 Ushuaia Drive to Tierra del Fuego national park It was rainy and cold in Ushuaia. There were about 8 large buses that did this excursion. You can do it yourself - if you are confident in your Spanish as the taxi drivers did not speak any English.The best scenery was right at the dock. After Antarctica, the scenery on the shore excursion was nothing great. Rating 3/5. Jan. 3 Punta Arenas Off the Beaten Track shore excursion Three of us went on this shore excursion. It involved a short bus ride to the ferry and a 2 hour ferry ride each way to Magdalena Island. A snack and lunch pack was provided with 2 sandwiches, chocolate bar, cereal bar, large bottle of water and a large juice pak. Magdalena Island was covered with Magellan penguins. We were told there were 200,000 penguins. Even on the ferry you were extremely close to the penguins. We had seen the Magellan penguins at Volunteer Point though. So, while I got some great pictures, having been to the Falklands, it would have been better to save the money. This shore excursion was also sold out. Rating 4/5. Jan. 5 Puerto Montt - Private excursion with GV Tours I have struggled with what to write about this one. This was a tender port. Nineteen people (including 3 of my family) had signed up for the excursion on our roll call. Three people did not show. This got us off to a bad start because with that large of a group, the pricing for the shore excursion was a fixed amount, not a per person rate. So, all of a sudden, I’m on the hook for the fare for 3 more people. Luckily Veronica found one person at the pier and put her on our bus. I still had to hit up everyone else for $10 more. Secondly, although I asked the Neptune concierge for early tender tickets, they kept putting me off and finally left a message at 9 pm the night before that they couldn’t do it. Most of my group showed up early and left to get tender tickets, 10 minutes after tickets were announced. I took them an hour and a half to get to shore. Even though I left half an hour after them (waiting for the no-shows), because I had priority tendering which meant I didn’t need tickets, I was waiting on the pier for at least half an hour. So, it was 9:30 by the time we all arrived and got going on the tour. Thirdly, we almost missed the ship as we arrived at the pier 10 minutes after the final tender time. I really didn’t want to write that last part, but I don’t feel that it would be fair to my fellow cruise critic members to leave that out. Luckily, some of the ship’s excursions were late and the final tender didn’t actually occur until about 90 minutes later. Lesson learned - if I ever feel that I want to organize a group shore excursion again, it would have to save me at least 50% above the ship’s shore excursion. I would also ask for payment in advance before the sailing. Ratings: 5/5 for lunch, tour guide’s commentary, the bus and Petrohue rapids. Timeliness back to the port, tendering experience, failure of participants to show up and concierge helpfulness were epic fails.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
My wife and I recently (from Dec 10 until Jan 16) sailed on our longest cruise ever with Oceania (or anyone for that matter) with our teenage children. The cruise was a 37 day back to back cruise on Marina sailing from Rio de Janeiro to ... Read More
My wife and I recently (from Dec 10 until Jan 16) sailed on our longest cruise ever with Oceania (or anyone for that matter) with our teenage children. The cruise was a 37 day back to back cruise on Marina sailing from Rio de Janeiro to Valparaiso and on to Papeete via Easter Island. The short story is that it was a wonderful cruise on a gorgeous ship with a spectacular itinerary, and we met many wonderful people.       Embarkation:       You will have seen those period movies in which people embark on steamers in crowded chaotic docks, where on arrival you are confronted with a seething chaos from which no order seems likely to emerge. Well that's what happened. There was little that Oceania could do about it but four cruise ships were embarking in Rio and the port facility is barely up to one. In fact all the passenger port facilities we visited in South America are in need of serious review. Miraculously we made it into the calm cool sophisticated Marina in reasonable time and our luggage even appeared.       There were issues for those embarking on the second leg starting in Valparaiso due to major problems with flights. Some poor folk left on the cruise without their luggage and didn't see it for 8 days due to the fairly remote destinations the ship visited and the number of sea days. Oceania could not do a lot about this either.       The Itinerary:       The ship stayed overnight in Rio, Valparaiso, Easter Island and Bora Bora. The one port where an overnight stay was necessary but not scheduled was Buenos Aires. The cruise offered considerable variety in ports including cities like Rio, Sao Paolo, Buenos Aires, Ushuaia and Valparaiso/Santiago, and the scenery and natural beauty of Patagonia and the Chilean fjords. The second cruise from Valparaiso to Papeete of course involved no cities but some amazing locations like Easter Island and the Society Islands. In other words we were very spoiled. If sea days aren't your thing then there would have been too many for you, and on a rough count about half the days were sea days with four in a row being the maximum.       Weather:       We were very lucky. Mostly it was warm to hot and fine except around Cape Horn. We didn't realize how cool it would get as we sailed south and Ushuaia is not a balmy place. Once we reached Valparaiso though the weather was warm and mostly fine again. The second leg of this cruise across the Pacific depended on fine weather and largely we got it, with peaceful seas and lots of sun, In Tahiti though it is the wet season and we had rain particularly on the first day. Difficult seas could also put at risk many ports on the Pacific leg and particularly Easter Island which was one of the great highlights of the cruise. All ports after Valparaiso and until Papeete were tender only and the only port we had to miss was Pitcairn Island, and the locals came aboard instead. We didn't consider this a great loss.   Demographic:       The guests on the first cruise (around South America) were wiser than the second, if age is a measure of that, but were largely vigorous and keen to charge out on excursions. The second cruise seemed to have a broader spread on nationalities. There were of course many from the US, a large Canadian contingent, few fellow Australians, some New Zealanders and quite a group of Europeans. On each cruise no more than 6-8 children.       We met many wonderful people and were very sad to bid them farewell.       Marina:       A beautiful ship. We have sailed on all the smaller Oceania ships before and loved them, but I think that Marina may have seduced us to the Oceania class ships. She is stylishly decorated, and well laid out. The ambiance on board the ship is of understated elegance although there isn't much that's understated about the Casino Bar, with its UV glow and avant garde furnishings. The Art is quite well selected and the whole ship has the feel of a floating palace.       The Christmas decorations were great.       Not everything is better than the smaller ships but Baristas, Red Ginger and Jacques, the Culinary Centre and Artists Lofts are among them. The gym is much better, and there are more sporting type activities. The Terrace Cafe is a stand out. The Library is not as good (but has been overly maligned - I still liked it and spent many hours there), and I like the Lounge better on the smaller ships.       The ship is never crowded, and there were times I wondered where everyone was. The pool deck area is large with heaps of sun chairs, and the pool is a reasonable size for a cruise ship.Food:       This is always subjective but hey, this is my review so I get to be subjective.       The Grand Dining Room menu's varied, and we didn't eat there all that much but enjoyed the food and the theatre of dining there. I prefer the room itself on the O ships, as it seems lighter and more spacious with higher ceilings. The food was in our view not generally as good as Terrace Cafe, and well below the specialty restaurants. That is not to say it was bad, and in fact it was better than previous cruises, and some meals were wonderful, but it maintains the fine tradition of Grand Dining Rooms being hit and miss. Service was good.       The Terrace Cafe is smart and elegant completely shrugging off any bad buffet connotations. Dining outside on balmy nights was wonderful. The food was fresh, varied, and well cooked. The grill is brilliant with good cuts of meat, Lobster, big shrimps, and too much more to mention. For breakfast the fruit was good although not always as ripe as I would like, and they ran out of some items for a few days toward the end of the cruise, chiefly berries and lettuce. The Pacific cant be an easy place to restock.       The ranking of the specialty restaurants was the subject of considerable family debate, ending in a stalemate. What was agreed was that Red Ginger was exceptional, and Toscana came second. The argument was hottest over Jacques and Polo. Lets just say that ranking these is silly but hey it's also fun. The fact is they are all good, with the caveat that red Ginger is a stand out. We were fortunate to get extra bookings and we ate at Red Ginger 5 times, Polo for 2, Toscana for 4 and Jacques 5.       We also booked for the La Reserve Connoisseur and Explorer menus. The former was expensive at $160 each, but a wonderful experience although you probably need to be a bigger foodie than I, and some of the effort may have been lost on me. The food is carefully selected and independently sourced and the wine matches. The Explorer menu was probably more me at $95 pp. It was also wonderful but more approachable.       The Wine Tastings undertaken by the head sommelier Oona were not to be missed. She was wonderful, informative and amusing, and La Reserve wine happy hours were a great initiative. Her army of sommeliers were knowledgeably, helpful ,efficient and friendly., particularly Vedran, Susanna, Enrique, and Alex. The wine tasting sessions ranged from $10 pp to $100 for a premium tasting. The premium wines were the sort I only get to try in a self indulgent wine tasting of this sort and included some super tuscans among other notable and famous wines..       Afternoon tea remains fantastic.       The Wine List gets a tick for well done. We didn't do the drinks package. I have an allergy to them and do not like them. We mostly drink wine and prefer to order bottles. An analysis of value for money showed it would not have paid off for us anyway. We don't drink enough (which is saying something) - I think you need to be a cocktail person for this to work.       Service:       This has really stepped up in my view. The staff of Marina were mostly all friendly and attentive without being suffocating. Many went well beyond this and were just delightful. In my view the leadership team is doing a great job and you can see how diligent they are about it.       We really liked David Shermet as a Cruise Director, and the General Manager was very approachable and helpful. The Reception desk is something I have in the past approached with trepidation but on this occasion found the staff efficient friendly and enormously patient.       Service around the Pool was generally good but could be a little more attentive to my every whim and sudden need for a drink. Philmar, at the bar was brilliant, addressed us by name from the first few days (no we didn't drink so much as to be instantly recognized.) Baristas was great and Alessio and Fabio made excellent coffee. The tender service was efficient and safe (in some heavy seas).       The Maitre D s at each restaurant were without exception excellent and the wait staff also very good with Red Ginger again the stand out with the fantastic Angie and Mical. It was wonderful crew members like these that made the whole journey exceptional.       I could and should name more but suffice it to say service was very good. No doubt there are some poor experiences but we didn't endure many, and on a cruise of 37 days that was impressive.       Activities:       I don't really do shows, but the Christmas show and the con Molto grand finale were fun. The music on board was generally good. The only criticism I have is a personal one. If there is one instrument Noah could have left off the ark to be forgotten in time, it would be the piano accordion, and so the duo violin and you guessed what wasn't exactly my thing. But then others may have loved it.       The enrichment lectures on both cruises were excellent and well attended with well chosen topics. The mysteries of scarf tying, and bingo weren't for me, and trivia is too scary. My wife loved the free bridge classes (also too scary for me). A Mahjong cabal seemed to be flourishing as well. There were dancing classes and whisky tastings, and cocktail making classes.       Matt at the gym provided a truly excellent lecture on nutrition that surprised me in its level of detail and his demonstrated expertise and knowledge. It even altered my eating habits (although sadly not my drinking habits).       I enjoyed my culinary class but my wife did not. We had different teachers and my wife felt hers was quite rude. Apparently she wasn't alone in that experience. The facility is great. I didn't use the Artist Loft, my artistic talent having long been judged well wanting.       We travelled with our kids. The 18 y/o threatened never to leave the ship and was perfectly happy. The 14 y/o professed boredom on occasion, but then she does that a few times a day in any event. She did however christened it the best holiday ever. Swimming with Mantas and Sharks and water sports in Tahiti clinching the deal. Not much is provided for kids although most of those on board on the second cruise were eventually introduced to each other and had a good time. On the first cruise language was something of a barrier.       Accommodation:       We were in concierge staterooms near midship and found them well appointed and spacious. Storage was fine for us, and the bathrooms were well laid out with a separate bath and shower.       While initially dubious about the concierge lounge we found it very useful, and the concierge lounge attendants on both cruises to be a great help. For a long cruise it makes a difference. We didn't use the spa deck much. My skin burns in moonlight so it wasn't for me.       Laundries on every deck work well and if the urge to do the laundry took you, it was never a hassle to get a washer and dryer.           Tours and Technology and other:       Not much has changed here. The tours remain over priced and not well reviewed in many cases. We took private tours that were usually much cheaper.       Internet remains a problem although it is improving and the per day charge worked well for us. Just don't try doing anything close to exciting online. Heaps of band width intensive programs seem to be blocked.       Oceania says internet is bad at sea, but I have had far better experiences on other lines.       The Medical Centre remains as expensive as ever, but I suppose we should be grateful we have it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Pre Cruise in Rio. Stayed at Copacabana Palace and had a private guide. Used Valerie from Rio Plus Tours and they were the best. Wow what an amazing guide. Four days in Rio passed quickly and we had our private transfer to ship. This ... Read More
Pre Cruise in Rio. Stayed at Copacabana Palace and had a private guide. Used Valerie from Rio Plus Tours and they were the best. Wow what an amazing guide. Four days in Rio passed quickly and we had our private transfer to ship. This was also arranged by Rio Plus. Outside the port building was a zoo with 3-4 ships in port. Once in the Port building it was a short 15 minutes till we were in our room. I am Elite so that does speed things up a bit. Luggage arrived shortly after arrival. Room I had an Inside by myself and it had the bunks on the wall. I was also under the pool deck and it was loud at times. I really hated my cabin but was in there only to shower and sleep so whatever. Food Was good to excellent sometimes food was piping hot other times just Warm but if you asked they would bring you a hot plate back. Service was as good as can be in the new age of cruising. They had a lot of tables and really did their best. Not perfect for sure but fine. Always left full and had nice dinners. Loved the new Sabatini's Menu and ate there once. The Crown grill was My Fave ate there twice. Pizza good, burgers excellent. Intl Cafe was great for snacks. The Horizon court on this ship had really good hot food with a great salad bar. I gained 10 lbs on a three week vacation so Hey....Good Food. Entertainment. The usual Princess shows they were fine and the Dancers on this cruise were a friendly group when you saw them around the ship. Crooners bartenders Arnold and Audi were the highlight of our evening every night. Movies were not good at all this voyage I am usually able to catch up on movies I want to see but this cruise had poor selection. Tours. We did all tours through the ship and they were all great except the Buenos Aries Cemetery and Ranch. To much wasted time on this one. Falkland tour to Volunteer point was the highlight. Hiking in Patagonia was great as well. Fellow passengers were a mixed bag I loved it. US, Canada, Europe and many from South America. Wow what a diverse group of cultures and ages. We had great weather and were close to cape horn when we passed around it. Glaciers were beautiful as were the Fjords. What an amazing time thank you Princess for a great product at an affordable price. Remember you can have a more upscale experience but you will pay double. I feel Princess delivers a great product for the Price. Debarkation tour to Winery and city tour. Winery was amazing...WOW to the lunch. City tour was a joke held hostage on a bus and was not allowed a bathroom break or any beverages. Worst guide and tour ever. Flew straight Home from Santiago....Laundry and bills are now done back to work tomorrow. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
As exprienced travellers in Brazil and having read a few reviews, we went into this coastal cruise prepared for some of the differences from the normal cruise experience. First the numbers - of 2200 passengers, over 90% were ... Read More
As exprienced travellers in Brazil and having read a few reviews, we went into this coastal cruise prepared for some of the differences from the normal cruise experience. First the numbers - of 2200 passengers, over 90% were Brazilian plus 5% from other S.American countries. It was also noticeable that very few were from the usual "grey haired" age demographic of cruises. I'd say the average age was 25-35. After hearing poor reports of Santos, we decided to board at Rio. Our party of 4 plus baby took two taxis to the port from the downtown airport. Despite having got a reasonable fare indication before getting in, we were told en route by the taxi driver that there was a R$5 surcharge per bag on Rio taxis and were charged R$55 for the short trip. Our Brazilian friends (with the same number of bags but no baby) were charged a quarter of the price. Welcome to Rio! Not RCI's problem, of course, but it neatly explains why many in Brazil can't understand why we foreigners seem to focus on this city when there are so many better experiences in Brazil. The baggage drop off sheds stretch for a few hundred metres down the quayside -other cruise lines had signs over the relevant doors, but not RCI, so we met numerous passengers dragging bags around in the heat searching for the right entrance. Check in was smooth but no shuttle bus for the 400m to the ship in the 32 degree heat. Again, we could see why this wasn't to be a trip for the elderly! Our Owners' Suite was fine, but the service was nothing special (certainly well short of our last Celebrity experience in S.America). Our friends were in a so-called deluxe balcony room on deck 7 which stank of sewage throughout the trip despite numerous complaints and visits by maintenance. Their room attendant was so worried that this smell would jeopardise her service report that she wrote a long and sorrowful letter to our friends before the final night saying that it was awful and detailing her failed attempts to get other staff to resolve. As far as the non-standard items are concerned, here are a few: 1) We received a note detailing Suite privileges which assured us that we would be invited to a Captain's cocktail event. There was none. 2) Main (Aquarius)restaurant food was pretty mediocre and often extremely salty (to Brazilian taste) to the point that several courses were uneaten. Because of this we seldom ate in the main restaurant and used the Windjammer self service where we could sample before eating. 3) Despite having a pram, we had to fight to get out of the elevators on several occasions because of the inrush as soon as the doors opened. Brazilians are an exhuberent bunch but the shoving and lack of queueing courtesy could be a shock. This climaxed on our return to Rio, where the mob from 4 arriving ships scrabbled and pushed for the few available taxis. We had no chance with a pram so were forced to walk out of the port and find a cab on the street in order to (just) make our 3.5 hour flight connection. 4) We had been warned about abuse of the no-smoking regulations on these cruises but were pleased to find no problems here. At times the pool deck (& very small pool) seemed to be one endless party, but it was good humoured and fun to watch. With the exception of the queueing cultural blank spot, our fellow cruisers were generally delightful & good company. 5) We prepaid tips but the promised vouchers for the staff never arrived. It seemed strange to be tipping staff in the main restaurant when we only used it twice on the first and last nights, and the last night table staff were different people, but we did so anyway. 6) The entertainment was entirely in Portuguese, as expected, but we were disappointed that the Cruise Director's welcome & introiuction each night wasn't translated. 7) RCI seemed to be fairly unconcerned about boarding and disembarkation, especially given the substandard port facilities. At Salvador the shi was again berthed a long was from the port entrance but the shuttle bus driver had disappeared on our lunchtime return so again a long walk in the heat, casually watched by the RCI staff in their gangway tent. At Santos, the bus to the terminal took 25 minutes due to having to use the traffic-jammed main roads to get from the berth to the terminal. At Rio on our return, the shuttle bus dropped us outside the wrong baggage building (as with departure, RCI was the only cruise line with no sign), so more confusion. A pity, as first & last impressions are enduring... After Rio, the en route ports were not high on the wow factor and a lot of passengers didn't get off - we guessed that was because apart from Salvador, every place was within a short drive of their joining points in Sao Paulo or Rio anyway, and because tourism wasn't really the reason behind their cruise choice. In summary, unlike our friends in their appallingly smelly cabin, we had a good time on board, and the local crew were friendly and generally helpful, though clearly still, in many cases, in training mode. Would we recommend to non-Brazilians? Probably not,and definitely not to seniors. The RCI cruise experience itself was somewhat ragged - more party boat than floating 5 star hotel, and as frequent visitors to Brazil who appreciate the great sights and experienes of this country, we'd argue that there are better places to see in Brazil than the large port cities, and better ways to tour and stay. Beautiful Rio is still let down by its crime and poverty. Whether this will change before the tourist influx of the Olympics.Sao Paulo with its traffic jams and 20m people is not a place that one can find much to love on a day trip. The World Heritage money poured into Salvador to restore the colonial buildings has clearly gone astray, and if anything, there are more collapsing glories than on our last visit 5 years ago. Ilhabela is pretty but the mosquitoes can ruin your day at this time of year (no warning from RCI but most of the locals were well prepared). Buzios was the pick of the bunch, but again, it's driving distance for Rio based passengers & the exotic sounding "Buzios trolley" was actually a truck. One had the feeling that the ports of call are incidental to the choice of cruise. Go for the on board partying, but if it's gourmet food, great service & interesting ports of call you're after, there are better choices, and if you wan't to see the best of Brazil, there are far better itineraries for a week. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011

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