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23 Rio de Janeiro to Transatlantic Cruise Reviews

We've traveled throughout much of Europe and a little in South America, but two countries we had not been exposed to were Brazil and Portugal, so when this cruise was announced we jumped at the opportunity. It also helped that the ... Read More
We've traveled throughout much of Europe and a little in South America, but two countries we had not been exposed to were Brazil and Portugal, so when this cruise was announced we jumped at the opportunity. It also helped that the cruise line was offering a double cabin upgrade (veranda for the price of an inside cabin), and the extras offered (gratuities and basic drink package) were not common on ocean crossing cruises. Even with all our travel, we are relative neophytes in the cruising game, having only taken a total of four over the years. The most recent cruises were on Celebrity, which we now use as our standard against which to judge others, and we were anxious to compare this "upscale" cruise line to those. We arrived in the departure city, Rio, a day early and took in the sights, and then the next morning taxied to the port. As the ship is small and only holds about 700 guests, the lines were short in the registration area, and it was only a matter of 15 minutes before we were boarding the ship. The wait to get into our cabins was also short, and luggage arrived quickly. A bit of good news we received once we were on the ship was we were able to use our Celebrity points to get some perks on Azamara (including a free hour of wifi time). Our cabin was small (category V3 on deck 7), but it had plenty of closet space and places to store the luggage. We met our cabin stewards, Dyna and Gouri, right after finding the cabin, and they carefully wrote down our requests for stocking the minibar and other requirements. For the rest of the cruise they tended to our needs perfectly and unobtrusively, always with a smile on their faces. At the muster drill we learned an interesting fact: Apparently Norovirus, the scurge of cruising, manifests itself within 24 hours of embarkation. So the cruise line doesn't allow guests to touch any of the serving utensils in the buffet for the first day. Not sure if other lines have adopted that practice but we didn't hear of any outbreaks during our cruise. For the remainder of the cruise we learned the ins and outs of Azamara cruising. The ratio of guests to crew is less than two to one, and there are always management staff around to ensure every operation runs smoothly. In the buffet they are constantly providing coffee refills, taking away plates, filling up your wine glass or other drinks. In the main dining room it's all open seating, meaning you meet new people each day. After the first couple of meals we were especially pleased with one of the servers, Doma (from India), and so from that point we requested to be seated in her area each night. She and her assistant, Wayan (from Indonesia) took great care of us, remembering our drink preferences and other details, and becoming great friends by the end of the cruise. Other dining options were the small cafe on the pool deck, where you could get hamburgers, salads, chicken wings, etc., as well as frozen yoghurt for dessert, and two specialty restaurants (which we didn't take advantage of). Both my wife and I felt the food quality was excellent, with plenty of choices at all times, and there were always two types of red and white wine each day, which we enjoyed. There were also special occasions, such as buffets outside on the pool deck. One of those was their "White Night" where everyone is encouraged to wear white. Food was plentiful (including zillions of BBQ lobster tails), and live entertainment and dancing lasted late into the night. Since the weather was quite chilly and windy that night, they provided blankets to everyone. Another special offered was the Chocolate Fantasy, with every chocolate concoction you could ask for including two fountains. Entertainment ranged from magicians to singers to comedians, but our favorites were Four on the Floor, their resident singing group. A special event was the crew talent show, where various crew members showed off their singing and dancing skills. It was great fun seeing people we knew on the crew and finding out they had such great talent. For us other reasons Azamara stands out are (1) small ships and easy to get around, (2) free guest laundry with free detergent, (3) free shuttle buses to take guests from the ship to the city center in each port, (4) drink packages and prepaid gratuities even on ocean crossings, and (5) crew members that take pride in ensuring your happiness and satisfaction. Those and everything else about Azamara are the reasons we found we were in a great minority of only cruising once with the line. Nearly everyone we spoke with had cruised with Azamara 5, 10, 15 or 20 times. One couple had been on nearly 50 Azamara cruises! We definitely will cruise with them again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise because we like the small ship experience with lots of sea days. We wanted to see Rio and Lisbon. Embarkation was a bit off-putting. We already had our bags tagged with our room number and did not need assistance ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we like the small ship experience with lots of sea days. We wanted to see Rio and Lisbon. Embarkation was a bit off-putting. We already had our bags tagged with our room number and did not need assistance getting our bags to the drop-off point. There was no place to drop our bags and we had to stand in line while others that used the porters were taken care of. Our bags were not delivered to our room--one was around the corner at another room and one was at the other end of the hall all by itself. Not a good start. The Pursuit is now only using the Azamara app to provide guest information unlike the TV that we have used on the other two ships. The daily Insights is still delivered everyday. The IT department assumes that all passengers are comfortable using apps and know how to use them. This is not true. There is limited info in the cabins about wi-fi and app usage. A user guide would have been appreciated. The only way to know how many wi-fi minutes have been used is to go to Guest Relations. The log-off app does not always work and minutes quickly are used. We generally liked the food but we ate mostly at The Patio. Half-way through the cruise oatmeal at breakfast in Windows was replaced with congee. Not a good choice. Frequently the food was cold as the warming plates being used did not keep the food hot. The service on The Patio is the best anywhere on the ship. We always got what we ordered and it was hot. We had lunch twice in Discovery and it was not good. The service is intolerably slow, the food selections are limited, and the food served was barely edible. Angelina's was wonderful but one pays for that. The veranda cabin is just like other Azamara ships. However, the fridge is now in a cabinet on the desk and that area gets very hot. There are also rough edges in the cabinet to skin knuckles on. Other cabinet doors are misaligned and easy to get caught on. As always, the room was well-taken care of by the room attendants. The guest lecturer for destinations was not helpful or informative. Silly asides for the first 10 minutes of the lecture are a waste of time. Some of the shore excursions were good and some disasters. One excursion had a major part eliminated because there was a typo in the description that no one had seen until half-way through the cruise. That typo had been there from the first posting of available shore excursions on the Azamara website and was booked because of the part that was dropped. It was great that there was an available excursion on the disembarkation day for those staying in Lisbon longer. The Guest Relations department continues to treat guests inappropriately. Telling me I am the only one on the ship that does not understand the problems with the app was not appreciated. Based on the line for the IT person and comments made by other passengers, I was not the only one. Many just didn't use the app. The officers were rarely seen unlike other Azamara ships. At the recognition breakfast for frequent Azamara guests, the captain and another officer stopped at our table for a minute. No more. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise as we wanted to combine a trip to visit family in Brazil with a trial of a transatlantic sailing as this was something new to us. We have sailed many times with Azamara and this was the second trip on the Pursuit. ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we wanted to combine a trip to visit family in Brazil with a trial of a transatlantic sailing as this was something new to us. We have sailed many times with Azamara and this was the second trip on the Pursuit. Embarkation was easy and as usual we were greeted on board by friendly faces and a glass of something sparkling. Our cabin was a veranda stateroom on deck 6, just above the Mosaic Cafe, so a great location as it was so convenient for the facilities on deck 5 and only three flights of stairs from the pool deck and buffet. We know the cabins are small on Azamara but ours was perfectly adequate for our needs and we were very looked after by our stewards.The ship was immaculate as we have come to expect from previous cruises. The service was impeccable throughout the cruise. We ate in all venues at some point and the food delicious as always. We love to have our evening meal outside behind the Windows cafe when the weather is warm. We had been a little concerned about how we would cope with so many sea days, but with warm weather and plenty of on-board activities we need not have worried. There were some very interesting guest lecturers, and the evening entertainment in the cabaret lounge was generally very good. The ports were not ones that were on our bucket list but travel broadens the mind! The poverty in Brazil and in Morocco is so sad to see. Cape Verde does not have a lot to offer but it was interesting to see the volcanic island of Sao Vicente despite the rickety bus provided for the tour. Apparently it only rains there one day per year, so there is very little plant or animal life. I chose an excursion to Rabat when we were docked in Casablanca which was the best excursion of the cruise as many interesting venues were fitted into the day meaning there was no time for visiting the usual obligatory shops! There were quite a few German people on this tour and it was nice that when the guide realised this he gave his narration in both English and German. The only downside was that there were about 30 people on the tour and no representative from Azamara accompanying us, making it difficult for the guide to keep track of us all! For the most part our sailing companions were great company which enhanced our enjoyment. The weather was excellent for nearly all of the time except the last day when it was quite windy, but the Captain did his best to avoid the worst of the high seas by 'hugging' the coast of Southern Portugal, so it wasn't as bad as we expected by any means. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience which was enhanced by the genuine welcoming and friendly attitude of the officers and crew. Yes, we would do the trip again although our personal preference would be to visit the Canary Islands rather than Morocco before docking in Lisbon. The disembarkation process was very quick and we were outside the port in plenty of time to meet our taxi. 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
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
First of all, on our many cruises we've never had such a warm and fuzzy crew, we felt like part of an extended family, and it was genuine. The crew actually bids to come back to the same ship because they like being around each other. ... Read More
First of all, on our many cruises we've never had such a warm and fuzzy crew, we felt like part of an extended family, and it was genuine. The crew actually bids to come back to the same ship because they like being around each other. We never witnessed grouchiness or tension among the staff, in definite contrast to the larger cruise ships we've been on in the past. The service was hence over the top. Perhaps it was just our L'Austral crew, but e.g. the front desk ladies were amazing, juggling all day in at least 2 languages, and manning the reception 24/7. Always friendly with a smile, and anything we asked for was done, taken care of or checked on with efficiency. We never felt 'second class' by not being French, and 99% of the French passengers were very friendly once you tried a few words in French.. I think sometimes people get insecure and appear standoffish until you get to know them a little. Due to the itinerary, we had a significant number of Aussies, Germans, Austrians, some Brits, someone from Iceland, and a handful of Americans. Several multilingual passengers, and an unusually high number of solo travelers. That being said, it does help to speak French, since the naturalists, cruise director etc are all native French people, and not every joke or comment can be translated properly into English. All announcements were always in both French and English. The captain was very involved and you seemed to run into him often. He was there, coming in another Zodiac when ours had engine problems, always ready to help out. He navigated that vessel safely and very smoothly. His background is commanding icebreakers, so a transatlantic is probably much easier work for him. Overall recommendations: Although there's 3 elevators, they don't reach everything, for example the marina. Not a good ship for wheelchair, crutches, or walker. Cane may be okay if you can negotiate 1-2 flights of stairs. Currency on board is Euro, but you can settle your account in USD, and if you book a future cruise on board, the quote can be done in either currency. The onboard boutique/store does NOT have sunscreen, nail clippers, antacids... so don't forget those. They have mostly clothing, a few gifts, small amount of jewelry and handbags. Most of the clothing is for use in Antarctica. All high quality (mostly made in France and Germany), and thus pricey. If you wish to leave tips, you have to have cash. Unlike on other cruise ships, where you can add a tip to your bill, you can't do that on Ponant. The services in the spa already include a service charge. Food/drink: Be prepared to gain weight - we felt like Thanksgiving turkeys.. especially the desserts are too delicious to pass up, plus they have daily varying homemade gelato.. ugh. The pastry chef is top notch, French of course. And then the cheeses...! Our ship wasn't full, so during the first 2 weeks, dinner was either buffet on 6, or sit down on 2, and lunch was only buffet. You can always get coffee drinks, croissants and fruit in the main lounge on 3 in the a.m., and coffee/tea with some type of goodie from 4pm-5pm, main lounge as well. Open bar using decent brands, top shelf is extra. Their champagne is pretty good, and on certain occasions, Veuve Cliquot comes out. House wines red/white/rosé are overall decent. If you like beer, you'll be probably disappointed. Mostly Heineken, and e.g. Corona amazingly has to be paid for. Main dishes range from okay to superb - it really depends who's cooking and what. The mostly Indonesian crew is of course best at fish etc, even room service fish was fantastic. The Peruvian carving chef was amazing. Lamb most of the time was awesome. Be aware most of their beef and pork meats (roast, loin etc) are cooked 'rare' and are quite fatty. Room service club sandwich was the best sandwich we've ever had, period. Now if you can't find anything to strike your fancy, just talk to the restaurant head guy or directly to the chefs, they will come up with something for you. Spa/fitness: actually got a haircut, Elsa was very good and took a whole hour, only 65Euro. The hammam looked nice, very hot in there and we were in the tropics, so didn't use. Fitness center looked nice, mostly deserted. The saltwater pool is a decent size for a small ship, due to internal ramp you can't swim laps but it's nice to hang out or tread water. As far as the itinerary - the Brazilian government has now banned all non-Brazilian vessels from anchoring off Fernando de Noronha. It was quite a bummer, but nothing could be done about it. We received 250Euro onboard credit each as a compensation. OB credit can't be used for future cruise deposit, certain visas they arrange for you, or tips as I mentioned above. Since basically everything is already included, we "had to" shop at the boutique, DH got a real Panama Hat and I bought an Icebreaker vest and 2 Breton sweaters, nice souvenirs! Brazil: Rio - loved it and will try to return Paraty - very quaint, difficult walking on cobblestones, not touristy, and no public RR Salvador - broke my heart to see how they let their city deteriorate in so many ways.. even in the public market prostitution was going on. Very sad. Recife/Olinda - Would love to return to see the Olinda Carnaval. We had dancers from Olinda come to the ship to present a show and they were spectacular. Olinda walking tours are quite the workout walking steep hills in high heat and humidity. Guinea-Bissau, Bijagos Islands There was a couple (he French, she Portuguese) who lives on Keré Island, who acted as cultural intermediaries. Our naturalists came from Antarctica and that's where their expertise lies, not Africa, so they did not have much information. Honestly, most of my information was from documentaries I had found online at home, prior to the voyage. The Islands are definitely not touristy (there's rarely a ferry from Bissau), most of the village inhabitants are very reserved and do not interact. It appears they asked a couple of women to put on their 'good dress' and sit by the walking trail, so people could get their selfies with a person from Bijagos. I felt we were being intrusive overall, although I understand they authorized the visit and Ponant helps finance e.g. a water well etc for the villages. If you're a snorkeler/diver, this is not your spot, water murky with very low visibility. Sadly, we saw almost no wildlife, wrong season, normally there are lot of birds, hippos etc. Senegal-Dakar Well, we spent the day at an African family's B&B in Dougar, 45 min E of Dakar, and about 20min from the new airport. We booked through airbnb.com and they reconciled us with Senegal. Before we arrived there, I couldn't get out of Dakar fast enough, between peddlers, noise, the smell of urine, Sahara dust, and traffic insanities... Considering you don't wait in line for anything except the Zodiac embarkations, and the whole ambiance, it's definitely a luxury line and we're glad we chose this trip. Regardless of the itinerary glitches, we enjoyed ourselves and were thoroughly relaxed, so we booked another/ future cruise onboard, which will be on one of the sister ships. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise because we could start our holiday in Rio de Janeiro, which is one of our two favourite destinations for overseas holidays. We knew we would get some warm winter sunshine, so precious for people in Britain. Of course ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we could start our holiday in Rio de Janeiro, which is one of our two favourite destinations for overseas holidays. We knew we would get some warm winter sunshine, so precious for people in Britain. Of course as people know Rio is a fabulous place, having a wonderful coastline,lots of places to visit and a big vibrant city. The people are very kind and helpful and go out of their way if you appear lost. Having undertaken this voyage with MSC before we knew we would get well looked after and that the fantastic Animation Team would make sure there would be plenty of good times to be enjoyed. Once again we were not disappointed. MSC Magnifica is a lovely well kept ship. Embarcation and disembarcation went like a dream, best ever anywhere. Our cabin was great (as Gold Members upgraded from inside to outside with restricted view which made a big difference). The cabin 8105, was big for the two of us and very quiet and our steward was first rate. The dining room was lovely and on request we were given a table for two which we prefer. The food was fine although the portion sizes might not suit those with a robust appetite. Sometimes some of the main courses would have benefited from a sauce or gravy. The soups were always good and served very hot. Our waiter Satish looked after us very well and made sure if we were disappointed with any of our choices we could have something else. The entertainment in the theatre was excellent with just perhaps three exceptions. Some were fantastic with lots of shows truly memorable with wonderful acrobats, dancers, singers which combined with beautiful costumes made for some lovely evenings. The last show of our cruise was fantastic finishing with all the cast, animation team, support staff on stage singing. After the performance they came down through the theatre and lined the patrons route out of theatre to shake hands. What a finish!! At every event the Animation Team were there working tirelessly and providing their priceless sense of fun. On Sea days lots of us enjoyed classes on deck for the first 10 days or so, aerobics, dance lessons and parties at night whilst in Brazilian waters. Ports of call were interesting but as we enjoy finding our own way round I am unable to comment on excursions. Only criticism - after the last three MSC cruises I have gone home with a chest cold. Surely something can be done about the air conditioning. I have taken every precaution personally, with warm wraps, jackets etc but came home with a cough and cold. Come on MSC do something for your regulars! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Our 3rd SB cruise and it just gets better and better! Embarkation was faultless and quick, lunch in the Colonnade awaited us and we sat and had a leisurely lunch then straight to our cabin for unpacking. From then on, it was all just a ... Read More
Our 3rd SB cruise and it just gets better and better! Embarkation was faultless and quick, lunch in the Colonnade awaited us and we sat and had a leisurely lunch then straight to our cabin for unpacking. From then on, it was all just a fabulous time. After an independent tour in Rio, we had 5 straight sea days before we reached Tristan da Cunha. Being able to visit the remotest inhabited island in the world was just stupendous, the Captain worked so hard to get all those who wanted to land on the island and it was not easy! Very rough coniditions but the care of the staff and the determination of the crew made it happen, and I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity. Then we had the island inhabitants aboard the next day and we feel privileged to learn about their lives on this island. Then some cruising around Inaccessible and Nightingale Islands followed by 4 more sea days before we got to Namibia, then Cape Town. We were lucky enough to meet so many lovely people on this cruise, it was a good mix of nationalities and we had such fun! The main dining room was as good as ever, we also went to the Patio, Colonnade and TK Grill but mostly the MDR sitting with a good mix of people on hosted and uhosted tables. Entertainment was mostly good, anything we weren't that keen on was just down to our taste, there was nothing wrong with any of it. The staff worked so so hard to make this leg of the cruise memorable and there are many I would commend for their cheerful friendly attitude. Yes, there were a few blips here and there.... when you are crossing the Atlantic you are going to run out of the odd thing but anyone who has a problem with that needs to think of the logistics of keeping a ship fully stocked for a total of 11 days, to me it just didn't matter. All in all, a memorable cruise that I won't forget Read Less
Sail Date January 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
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
This was our first Oceania cruise- and we're glad we did! I have been hearing about how great Oceania was from friends for several years, but we have become quite partial to our familiar Celebrity. We've also cruised with ... Read More
This was our first Oceania cruise- and we're glad we did! I have been hearing about how great Oceania was from friends for several years, but we have become quite partial to our familiar Celebrity. We've also cruised with Seabourne, and actually preferred Oceania in that it seemed a little less pretentious, and the specialty restaurants were wonderful. We chose this cruise because of the amazing deal- we ended up with internet, cabin credit, free gratuities, and a drink package, as well as free shore excursions for a very reasonable price. On Celebrity, we always upgrade our beverage package to the premium one, but were really glad that we did not on this cruise. Generally, we mainly drink wine with our dinner, and don't drink a lot that isn't around meal times. The basic beverage package covers all wines and beer with meals- with no price limit by the glass. This differs from Celebrity in that the better wines are only available on the premium package. Probably different if you wanted to drink several cocktails in the evenings. We flew into Rio de Janeiro, and elected to come three days early to go to the Iguazu Falls- so glad we did! It was very easy to arrange to just tag a one hour flight to Fos do Iguacu onto our incoming flight and carry on. We easily booked a hotel- the Viale towers- that was more than reasonable for the price and right in the middle of town, so that we had a choice of restaurants. Tip- go onto Trip Advisor- there were a few very good restaurants to choose from. Try The Mafia- lovely little Italian place- make a reservation- they will come and pick you up from the hotel. Also eat at Zaragoza- great old style elegant Spanish restaurant with wonderful paella. We found that the desk staff at the Viale were very helpful. The breakfast came with the room and it was very good, with lots of selection of hot and cold food, as well as a very good cup of coffee. From the Viale, we took the staff's recommendation and caught the local bus to the Brazilian side of the falls- for about 1.50$. The bus stopped right at the entrance, and we only walked about one block. It was very easy to spend 2-3 hours walking around the paths at the falls and we walked over to the bird sanctuary after- about 2-3 blocks away. A lovely day! The next day, the staff arranged a taxi to take us to the Argentinian side of the falls- for about 45.00$ he helped us through the border crossing and waited for us for four hours while we were at the falls. It was nice to see them from both sides- you do get closer to the falls from the Argentinian side, but you are above them, so it gave a great perspective of their size to have seen them from below the day before. We flew back to Rio easily, and checked onto the ship by 11 am. We just took a taxi from the airport to the ship for about 30 dollars. We were able to sit in the buffet restaurant, until our room was ready at about one. We had been offered and accepted an upgrade to a Penthouse suite so really enjoyed the extra space. The bed, as per reputation, was extremely comfortable. There was more than enough storage space, with a walk in closet, as well as many drawers in the room. We had a butler for the first time, Akshay- who was lovely, but underutilized as we didn't quite know what we were supposed to be asking him to do! He shone our shoes, ironed a few things, and helped us get reservations practically nightly for the specialty restaurants. The ship was not full, or I assume that would not have been possible. Despite our understanding that there was only one reservation at each of the restaurants per cruise, the reservation desk in the main lobby was very reasonable to work with to find reservations on a daily basis. Try all of the restaurants- Red Ginger was definitely our favourite- the duck confit and watermelon salad was so good! Because we had a penthouse suite we were also able to order off the specialty restaurant menus for room service and we did have a few of those salads along the way. The staff were amazing in the entire ship and called us by name, and remembered our favourite wines for dinner. We had breakfast daily in the Terrace restaurant- lovely to sit outside with a huge selection of foods, juices and coffee drinks. Even dinner was very good in the Terrace when you wanted a break from the two hour multi course dining experience. The Grand Dining room was great for dinner. All in all, the only trouble was figuring out how to ration out the places to eat so that you didn't feel overfull all of the time. We finally tried the 4 pm tea in Horizons on a rainy day in Buenos Aires, and it was lovely, with a four piece string band playing classical music. The only problem with the tea was that it was hard not to overindulge and ruin your dinner! The ship itself has many lovely quiet areas to hang out in- the library is exceptional, and adjoins the coffee shop- so you can sit and read in deep comfortable leather chairs while sipping cappuccino and munching on bakery treats. We had access to the area at the front of the spa for lounge chairs and hot tubs- also a great spot. We went daily to the trivia sessions- Peter, our cruise director was so funny- and he seemed to deal pretty well with the die hard, very serious, fight to the death teams that were really taking themselves way too seriously. We went to several of the entertainment shows- a British band called 5 O'Clock Somewhere were absolutely fantastic. The ships own crew were pretty good. The house band was also quite good. We enjoyed the educational lectures about the local area that were put on in the afternoons. There were no cooking classes due to some funny Brazilian laws. However, I must admit that we go on holidays to relax and love to spend a lot of time just chilling and reading our books, so I'm not really a good judge of quality of the shows- We loved the air of relaxation that the boat promoted. All in all, I'm very happy that we tried Oceania, and look forward to sailing with them again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
The bad The food was of institutional quality. Looked nice, but tough, not cooked enough or too much, and of a commercial grade. Coffee, was the pits, so was forced to pay for a fresh cappuccino with breakfast. Food at buffet was cold, ... Read More
The bad The food was of institutional quality. Looked nice, but tough, not cooked enough or too much, and of a commercial grade. Coffee, was the pits, so was forced to pay for a fresh cappuccino with breakfast. Food at buffet was cold, lacking in variety, small portion sizes, and set up in a non functioning manner. Poolside was overly crammed, insufficient lounges, very LOUD sounds from the speakers, and just Bingo, Bingo Bingo. Poolside towels were handed out very covetously, and begrudgingly. The main swimming pool was limited to an overcrowded 40 people. This on a ship with a guest count of 4,000. Amazingly poor planning. Internet was of medieval quality Activities, other than Bingo, nothing memorable, nothing. Embarkation, as well as debarkation was slow, hot, and tedious. The good. A beautiful clean ship with an excellent staff. I do not see how this ship/line will stay viable in the American market. Though it has a nice price point, I will not be back, unless serious modifications are made. Better to pay a bit more, and get a lot more from the plethora of competitors Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
My wife and I are British, fit 70+ and have sailed with several cruise companies, both all inclusive and standard however Regent is at the bottom of our list now. As we were sailing from Rio de Janeiro to Barcelona we reserved through ... Read More
My wife and I are British, fit 70+ and have sailed with several cruise companies, both all inclusive and standard however Regent is at the bottom of our list now. As we were sailing from Rio de Janeiro to Barcelona we reserved through Regent two extra nights in the city. The hotel was in the process of refurbishment in preparation for the World cup and was far from luxury in any sense of the word. 1) We flew from England to Rio to pick up the seven seas mariner for the transatlantic cruise. No problem with the cruise other than it was nicknamed "The crypt kickers cruise" because of the predominance of ancient passengers! Consequently after about 10.30pm we thought everyone had jumped overboard!! The night before embarkation in Rio was in with the overall price however because we wanted to see Rio we booked through Regent two extra nights at the Rio Sheraton. They charged £382 per person for the priviledge of staying in a hotel that was in the middle of refurbishment for the World soccer cup.Below is a list of just some of the problems. 1) There was no bar inside the hotel, only a small makeshift bar in the middle of the dining room. 2) There was no evening dining in the hotel, only two external restaurants which were only average. The barbeque restaurant's meat was tough. 3) The air con in our room constantly dripped condensation. My wife slipped on the wet floor and almost injured herself. 4)We had no hot water for two days. After attention we had barely warm water. 5) The room iron did not work and had to be replaced. 6)The room hairdryer plug did not fit the socket and had to be replaced 7) The refurbishment team were noisy all day. We booked through Regent two tours for which they charged $219 per person per trip. One consisted of a coach ride through the city via Ipanema and Copacobana beaches and up sugar loaf mountain on one day and "Christ the redeemer" the next. A total rip off!!!! Think hard before you give Regent your hard earned cash. Never again!!! Considering the ship. It was due for refurbishment itself and judging by the state of the carpets it needed it. All in all the crew and staff in general were excellent however some of the meals were not top quality. The evening entertainment was good but there could have been more variety.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
We have cruised many times before with various companies,including once Costa.We said we would never cruise with Costa again but we were attracted by the intinery so decided to give it another try.What a mistake!! So never again!!!! First ... Read More
We have cruised many times before with various companies,including once Costa.We said we would never cruise with Costa again but we were attracted by the intinery so decided to give it another try.What a mistake!! So never again!!!! First impressions were of a beautiful ship which it was to a certain extent,unfortunately some areas were badly planned. The seating in the theatre downstairs was all on one level instead of tiered so unless you were in the first few rows you couldn`t see the stage,upstairs in the balcony the hand rails were positioned so they obstructed the view of the stage. In the buffet the serveries were well positioned but the seating meant that at busy times the it was difficult to pass between the tables.Also once seated it was difficult to get out without disturbing other diners. The choice of food was unimaginate and monotonous in the buffet and tasted even worse than it looked. The evening meal in the dining room was no better-the choice was poor and the quality was not good.Our service was very slow and the food often cold.We complained to the matre`d and for a couple of days the service improved but soon it was back to how it had been.Some of the meals ordered from the menu were unrecognisable when presented at the table! The organisation was chaotic and as a result there were many angry confrontations. On the plus side the ship was kept very clean and our cabin was kept immaculate by our girl.  We had an inside cabin which was perfectly adequate.There was plenty of cupboard and drawer space for the two of us and the toilet and shower room was fine.The large bed was very comfortable,in fact it was probably the best thing about the ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
My friend and I flew from New Zealand to board the MSC Orchestra on its repositioning cruise from Rio to Genoa. We had a wonderful experience and are keen to repeat. The cruise was amazing value for money and we think we got a five star ... Read More
My friend and I flew from New Zealand to board the MSC Orchestra on its repositioning cruise from Rio to Genoa. We had a wonderful experience and are keen to repeat. The cruise was amazing value for money and we think we got a five star experience for a two star price. Thanks MSC. Our balcony twin cabin, of a good size, was more than adequate for our needs and was kept clean and tidy at all times. We prepaid a drinks package and gratuities before we left New Zealand and felt that the drinks package was amazing value for money and service of bar and dining room staff was exceptional. We struggled to prepay all our excursions because we found the website difficult to navigate- improvements are needed in our opinion. We chose to use the buffet rarely, though when we did felt the variety and range was exceptional. Instead we took full advantage of the five star dining experience and exceptional menu. We thoroughly enjoyed experiencing menus that were extensive and of high quality. The waiters assigned to our table were outstanding with the right mix of friendliness and formality. We adored them. The Atlantic crossing was remarkably smooth and we were fortunate to have 17 days of brilliant weather. Being first time cruisers we lacked the confidence to arrange our own shore excursions with the exception of Tenerife. There were very few English speakers on the cruise and it meant we were required to have multi lingual guides who were having to provide a commentary in at least two languages. At most ports the guides were exceptional and managed this well. On board prior to leaving for excursions there needs to be improvements to stream line the organisation of the groups and I was concerned to observe the poor accessibility of the tour buses which without exception had very high steps which was challenging to people with mobility impairments. MSC should consider only utilising accessible transport for tours. Traffic on the tours in Brazil was particularly challenging and meant a level of frustration at time spent sitting in traffic on the bus.( How will they cope with the forthcoming World Cup?). We were disappointed that the entertainment on this cruise at the pool area was targetted for the enjoyment of the large Brazilian clientele, due to the volume of the music and entertainment it made the pool area uninviting to us in the mornings. We used some Beauty and Spa services and found them to be excellent and good value for money. We had a slight glitch when we disembarked as I had a small credit balance, which I had no desire to queue to collect and this caused a minor delay that fortunately was very quickly resolved. It was great to be able to order the daily newspaper from home and we found staff at reception, accounts and excursions desks at all times to be competent, polite and helpful. We chose to attend only two entertainment nights , which were exceptional, and fellow passengers reported them as all being of a very high standard. Overall this was a wonderful, memorable experience. MSC should be proud of its very hardworking talented staff. We were aware that some English speaking passengeers did not enjoy this cruise to the same extent we did, however we felt they were making unfair comparisions with cruise lines that target the American and Australian markets. We think that if you are prepared to immerse yourselves in a European experience and accept that you will need to adjust to a European way of doing things then you will have a wonderful time on MSC Orchestra.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
My wife and I have just finished the cruise from Rio to Genoa. Have cruised with MSC before so knew what to expect. If you expect English or Australian standards you will be disappointed as the passengers come from a wide mix of countries ... Read More
My wife and I have just finished the cruise from Rio to Genoa. Have cruised with MSC before so knew what to expect. If you expect English or Australian standards you will be disappointed as the passengers come from a wide mix of countries all with different cultures and standards. Be aware that in the dining rooms you have to pay for water and tea or coffee, even though they are free in the buffet area. The female staff directing passengers at the embarkation point in Rio were rude, arrogant and ignorant and definitely not a nice introduction to a cruise. They definitely need to attend a course in good manners and to learn the meaning of customer service. Whoever is in charge of them needs to be either retrained or sacked. Once on board the service greatly improved. Note that whilst a lot of staff speak English they actually do not understand English so you need to have patience and good humour. I ended up with some strange meals in the dining room but it was fun. Their is a lack of activities for English speaking people but this is understandable as you are a minority. Still some activity specific to nationality would have been nice. The activities crew spent nearly all of their time either in dancing lessons or activities around the pool. Eating in the dining room at breakfast or lunch is an adventure in itself. You ask to be seated at a table with other English speaking people and you end up sitting with diverse nationalities with no common language. It would be so easy to section of parts of the dining room to various languages and seat people according to language preference. However you do become good at charades whilst trying to be polite to the other diners. Eating in the buffet is an exercise in pushing and shoving. Not because the people are rude but because that is their culture. With a smile and a bit of civility you overcome and become used to it. Food in the buffet is good but after a while becomes repetitious and monotonous. Public areas around the ship are good and there are some nice places where you can sit and have some peace and quiet. Thought that the tours were overpriced for what you got. Heard many complaints from other passengers about this. We only went on one tour at the first port and that was enough. My wife has mobility problems and they do not reserve the front seats of the buses for people with special needs, also the step from the ground to the bus is very high. There were other passengers who had special needs that complained bitterly about the lack of understanding amongst the cruise staff and the tour operators. It was more convenient, and not much dearer, to hire a taxi and do our own touring. Disembarking at Genoa was good and the MSC staff in the terminal were great. However, the return of passports to passengers on the morning of disembarkation was a fiasco. This definitely needs to be improved. On the bright side, we met a lot of nice people and had a good time. Would we sail with MSC again? Yes we would as sailing with MSC is an adventure in itself and I look forward to our cruise with them in January next year.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
I agree with the majority of comments about this cruise. We found the ship a beautiful clean ship but that is the only good thing about this cruise. Why are our travel agents selling these cruises for English speaking guests when Costa ... Read More
I agree with the majority of comments about this cruise. We found the ship a beautiful clean ship but that is the only good thing about this cruise. Why are our travel agents selling these cruises for English speaking guests when Costa only want the English on board for their money and are not prepared to cater for them. The food was awful, limited choice and nearly always served cold or luke warm. The breakfast and lunch were also served on Deck 3 dining room as well as the buffet on deck 9. However because I am Coeliac (gluten free) I was not allowed to eat in the buffet (no food was available for me). I was served in a small section on Deck 3 by Sherwin the only waiter who seemed to know anything about gluten free food. We were served well by Sherwin although the choice was very limited. I had the same dessert for 20 days although they called it by different names, it was still the same cake. They only gave out the announcement for lunch being served in the deck 3 dining room in Italian so rarely English people went there. Our waiter hardly spoke English on our evening table and we spent half an hour sitting waiting for him to bring our menu. I tried the stretch class (I am a teacher myself) but the instructor was Brazilian and spoke no English which I found really difficult to follow. As everyone has said we might as well not have been there. As for the $11 per person per day - what a rip off. We had already paid the fare that Costa required but to get on board and find there was an $11 per day hotel service charge added to your on board account a total shock. This was not to cover gratuities but an increase in the cost of the cruise. A large group of English speaking guests finally rebelled having all complained so many times and not getting anywhere. The staff were all stony faced when confronted but I can now see that from all these bad comments that they are obviously used to people complaining. If you want to have a happy relaxed cruise with good food DO NOT CHOOSE COSTA. This is on behalf of the 5 people in our group who all share these comments. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
We boarded the ship in Rio de Janiero after we were told our cabin was occupied by a travel agent for a 1 night cruise from Santos to Rio. We paid the same price as all the other passengers who boarded in Santos. Our balcony cabin was ... Read More
We boarded the ship in Rio de Janiero after we were told our cabin was occupied by a travel agent for a 1 night cruise from Santos to Rio. We paid the same price as all the other passengers who boarded in Santos. Our balcony cabin was very nice with plenty of storage space and in a good location on the ship. The ship itself was quite modern and clean but the 'food nightmare' started the 1st night of the cruise. The food in the main dining room was always room temperature or cold - never hot. It was either undercooked or dried up to a crisp.The food served was a lot of casserole & black bean type meals = slopped up rubbish. There were quite a few Australians, New Zealanders and Americans on board who were not happy with the food.There was never a happy medium. The cruise was a 'dance' cruise with a multitude of Brazillians and Argentinians on board. The dancing in the lounges at night went on forever with loud music, singing and dancing and masses of cigarette smoke which drifted through all the corridors. There was not an alternative restaurant where you could buy a better meal. We celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary on this cruise and although I told the travel agent and made note of it on the booking form - this wasn't recognised. We were told if we wanted a cake or balloons etc. we had to buy them. A very disappointing experience after having cruised for 28 days (2 cruises back to back in 2010 on MSC Poesia - which was excellent) Whether it was because it was a repositioning cruise or whether it was catering to South American passengers, this was a real let down particularly when MSC is slowly tapping into the Australian cruise market. If they ever bring ships to Australia they won't last more than one or possibly 2 seasons unless they improve their food. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
For years my husband and I have listened to our friends rave about cruises, particularly the transatlantic cruises, so finally we decided the time had come to see for ourselves what this was all about. If nothing else, we figured it would ... Read More
For years my husband and I have listened to our friends rave about cruises, particularly the transatlantic cruises, so finally we decided the time had come to see for ourselves what this was all about. If nothing else, we figured it would be a relaxing, comfortable way to get to Europe (we are Americans living in Brazil). And then again, we might just enjoy it!I won't beat around the bush, after just a few days on the cruise we decided to repeat the cruise, or take a similar one, next year. We had a wonderful experience, so far beyond what we had imagined (even feared!). My husband and I are both in our 60s, we don't need or like to be told what to do, where to go, we don't like the infantilization, but Royal Caribbean pretty much left us alone. We saw that if you don't want to participate, you don't have to. You can carve out your own cruise within the cruise.What impressed us most: Royal Caribbean's efficiency — everything went smoothly, from embarking at Rio onward; the efficiency and constant good humor of the staff, at all levels; the cabin, both in its cleanliness and its design (we had an oceanview stateroom); the food (in the Aquarius dining room) which was consistently excellent; the "something-for-everyone" approach to daily activities, allowing passengers to opt in or out, as they wished; and the medical facility, which we unfortunately had to visit, but they were so good we even enjoyed our short time there!My husband and I did not join any of the organized port excursions, so we cannot speak to them. We did not use the pools, the spa, the salon or the fitness room — and certainly not the Wall — so nothing to say there, either. We did walk around and visit these facilities, and the people all looked happy!There was only one big down side: our cabin was beneath the kitchen, and particularly a part of the kitchen where large metal objects were dragged, or rolled, or otherwise gotten from one place to another over the metal floor. This would occur sometimes at 2:00 in the morning, sometimes at 4:00 in the morning, sometimes as late as 7:00 in the morning. In other words, while we were trying to sleep. We were awakened from deep sleep over and over, every single day, by unbelievably loud, crashing, banging noises. We'll never again book a cabin under the kitchen, but Royal Caribbean ought to try and figure out a way to fix this problem. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
I've cruised over 60 times on most all the lines including a number of TA crossings. Now that I live in So Am and am retired I favor crossings from So Am to Europe. They involve less air expense for us and are usually a relative ... Read More
I've cruised over 60 times on most all the lines including a number of TA crossings. Now that I live in So Am and am retired I favor crossings from So Am to Europe. They involve less air expense for us and are usually a relative bargain on a per diem basis. We've seen all the So Am ports and we like longer cruises so the ship is now becoming the destination. Accordingly, this review will not include comments on the ports, per se.We've done a couple of crossings on 35,000 ton Oceania in the last few years. The food and service were great on this small ship, but we thought there was too little in the way of entertainment so this spring we opted for the 13 night crossing from Rio to Roma on the Mariner, a 138,000 ton quasi-behemoth that we figured would guarantee lots of entertainment and shipboard activities, however, on the basis of our on board experience we concluded that never again would we sail on a mass market repositioning cruise. DININGFirst and foremost, the food in the MDR was shockingly bad. I know that all cruise lines cut back on repositionings and crossings, but RCI, at least, has carried this too far. To add insult to injury we couldn't even get a decent meal when we paid the extra tariff in the speciality dining rooms, Chops($25) and Portofino ($20). The steaks were tasteless and most dishes seemed to be nothing more elaborate than well presented MDR fare. Bread and butter was often the best tasting item in the MDR. The buffet breakfast in the Windjammer was the most satisfactory meal of the day despite the fact there was no omelet station and the fried eggs were offered heaped together in a large serving tray. It's hard to screw up lox and toasted bagels, but RCI tried by leaving the bagels out on a large serving tray. Depending on your luck you might select one that was still warm. I saw a large orange juice machine in the Windjammer, but it was not operating. I was told the oranges on board were not suitable for making OJ, a curious and telling fact inasmuch as we were sailing out of Rio where year round I can get a liter of fresh squeezed OJ for $2.50 at my local fruit market. As a matter of fact, the oranges weren't suitable for eating either. None of the fruit was particular good, a real oddity given the venue. ACCOMMODATIONS AND SERVICEThe service in the Windjammer, specialty restaurants, and in the MDR at dinner (and dinner only) was as good as the food was bad. When I mentioned my preference for low salt, our head waiter immediately offered to allow me to preselect my dishes from the next day's menu so they would be prepared salt-free. This, they did religiously for the entire cruise. I never had better service in a ship's buffet restaurant than the service I experienced on the Mariner. Whoever trains staff is doing something right. We occupied a corner aft veranda cabin (1688) that was uniquely spacious. The extra inside and rear balcony space afforded us a comfortable environment. Ample storage space and a mini fridge were welcome conveniences. We got plush bathrobes as a platinum level perk, about the only thing of any real value that is now offered for this middling level. There were no extraordinary appointments, but the bed was comfy and the bathroom functioned as expected. Comments on the TV will follow. Our cabin attendant from Indonesia provided excellent service. He was polite, attentive, helpful and efficient. These ships are getting so big that those with mobility issues should give some consideration to occupying an extreme aft or forward cabin. The walk might be a bother for some.Despite my age I'm still something of a gym rat. For me the spa is the gym and little else. The workout area was adequate although at times there was a line waiting to go on the treadmills. There was a casino, but as I don't gamble I spent little time there occasionally stopping to watch the heavy bettors play 21.The main showroom, principle lounges, public rooms, and bars were nicely decorated and comfortable. The mid-level decks include a large open concourse space with upper deck "inside" cabins looking out over the area and shops and bars running the length of its sides. For some unknown reason there was very little merchandise in some of the perfume and merchandise shops. We didn't spend much time in the public rooms lining the concourse except for having a drink occasionally in the Schooner bar. Service by a bilingual Brasilian law school grad was pleasant. In fact, there seemed to be a lot of well educated, well spoken crew members on board. ENTERTAINMENTThe entertainment did little to make up for the poor food. In particular, the TV programming was horrific. I confess to enjoying the boob tube at night in the privacy of my cabin. We occupied a specially designed aft veranda cabin that owing to the uniqueness of the layout had a pole in between the bed and the tiny 18 (maybe 21) inch TV set. I would not have minded the obstacle (it was a tradeoff of which I was aware) or the smallness of the distantly located set, but apparently owing to some antenna problem the TV programming consisted of little more than a repetitive (ad nauseum) diet of boring 5 year old travelogues and episodes from Life at the Playboy Mansion. CNN gave out after the first couple of days which, combined with the absence of any shipboard NYT newsletter, meant living in ignorance for most of the cruise. There were few decent films broadcast. That goes for the small movie theater as well. No first run films. Truly abysmal TV and movie offerings. Parenthetically, the telephone was also on the fritz. At times, messages could not be left and could not be played back according to the instructions. The Engineering Dept was suspect.The showroom theater presentations were okay. The ship's production company's two shows of adequate live singing and inadequate dancing were not much better than fair, but were enhanced by pretty impressive staging, lighting, and especially the orchestra. In fact, the ship's orchestra was as good as any I have heard on board. Really "tight." On other nights there were some talented musical soloists. Unfortunately, there was a lack of variety in the dance music offered by the orchestra or it's subgroups/combos in the lounge venues. More than 85% of the passengers on this voyage were Brasilian so I can understand the emphasis on Latin music, but there was no other style of dance music offered at all. I live in Brasil and can verify that the natives like to swing and foxtrot, too. Not much opportunity for it anywhere. The ice show was extremely colorful and entertaining. Too bad there's only one such show, repeated 4 x during the cruise so everyone can see it.The cruise director and his team were a group of upbeat, good-natured, bi-lingual Brasilians. Bingo is not my bag. I never went, but based on my observations of the cruise director staff at other times, I imagine it was well run. "Marathon" team trivia, run on a cumulative score basis throughout the cruise, was fun (and I take my fun seriously). Surprisingly, the prizes distributed to many of the participants at the end of the event were actually nice, real prizes, e.g. tee shirts, caps, fanny packs, luggage tags, etc. On the other hand, there was no organized bridge play. For a crossing with so many sea days this was a large negative in my book. Speaking of books, the library's offerings were saddeningly sparse. Not sure how much of the lack of decent reading material can be attributed to a lax check out policy (the shelves were left open when no staff was in attendance), but if they can check out the pool towels they ought to be able to check out books and by so doing improve upon the library's meager contents.During the entire 14 day cruise there was one and only one "enrichment talk" about ancient Egypt offered in both Portuguese and English. My wife, who is bi-lingual, said it was boring in either language. Additionally, there were no port info talks in any language. I would have expected at least a crude map of the Salvador, Tenerife, or Civitavecchia port areas when disembarking. Nada, zip, nothing. The lack of decent enrichment talks, reading materials, organized bridge, and TV/movie programming made for an overall entertainment rating of poor despite the competent, fun loving cruise director staff. EMBARKATION AND DISEMBARKATIONMost of the passengers boarded the Mariner in Sao Paulo. We and a few others boarded in Rio. RCI advised me we could board anytime after 9 am. We arrived at 11 am and could not board. Moreover, despite the fact that we were small in number we were kept waiting outside the terminal at the luggage drop off doors for about 20 minutes for no apparent reason. After that time we were permitted to enter the almost vacant terminal where, after waiting another 10 minutes comfortably seated, we were processed in a friendly, efficient manner. Who dropped that ball?Disembarkation was unique in all my experience. If I remember correctly, in all my prior cruises passengers were asked to fill out a form advising of any early travel connections so that priority may be given based upon need. There was no such process at the end of this cruise. We were told we would be assigned luggage tags that would define the time we could disembark in Civitavecchia. As we had to catch a train to Cinque Terra, I called reception and asked if we could disembark early. The reception desk told me to hold and then advised I was disembarking at a time that turned out to be sufficiently early to catch our train, but I wonder why we were not asked and why we had to get lucky to avoid a problem (even if it could have been changed had we asked). Made no sense to me. CONCLUSIONNo amount of good, friendly service could atone for the horrible food that was served on this cruise. To say the food failed to meet expectations is a gross understatement. It was scarily bad. Generally speaking, entertainment and shipboard activities also failed to meet expectations. I think this will be the last mass market repositioning cruise we will take. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
The embarkation was well organised and the Mini Suite was in line with most other cruise lines Balcony cabins. Good clean furnishings and attentive cabin staff, plus fresh fruit and chocolates on arrival. Cabin was on Starboard side past ... Read More
The embarkation was well organised and the Mini Suite was in line with most other cruise lines Balcony cabins. Good clean furnishings and attentive cabin staff, plus fresh fruit and chocolates on arrival. Cabin was on Starboard side past midships and closer to bow. There was more than ample storage space for a nearly three week cruise. Bathroom was shower bath combo and was roomy, Cabin was adequate with enough room for two. Would be a bit of a squeeze fro one or two extra guests using the fold out sofa bed. Balcony had room for two chairs and table -- not large enough to have a deck chair or chairs. Door was very hard to open and close. Soundproofing was good.Food was reasonable and 95% of the time quite tasty though did have problem with "chewy" meat on two occasions. Big upset for us, and the four others at our table was having to pay for bottled water with meals when other cruise lines supply copious quantities free of charge. There is no Coin op laundry on board which meant that majority of passengers washed in hand basins and hung up in bathroom or out on balcony. Reason costs through ships laundry pretty excessive. Breakfast was same foods every day, and the "bacon" was not very tasty and far too fatty. Other meals did have some variety and the chefs excelled with seafoods. The variety show each night tended to bore as was same artists revamped with emphasis on Classical music. With so many nationalities on board the announcement all in six languages. Alternative entertainment was limited but the Entertainment crew were very talented in creating some funny shows out of low cost props, and use of mime --overcomes all languages -- tremendous effort. This is a 3 to 3.5 star ship and consequently what you save on fare means less benefits than the higher star lines. MSC should advise passengers in their brochures that they do provide Transfers (at a reasonable cost)from Genoa Port to Genoa Airport, Milan and Nice Airports. Overall a value for money cruise. One area of discontent was the organisation of shore excursions. After purchasing excursion tickets we had to meet at certain areas on day of excursion to obtain Stickers with Tour No. then be escorted to bus/coach. At every port this was chaos with delays occurring. MSC seriously need to streamline this process by giving Tour No. stickers with Tickets as current situation too time wasting and frustrating to passengers. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
This was touted as a very special event with many great surprise features, as it was the final voyage of a former (before NCL bought the line) great ship. Having been on the Marco Polo prior to and after the NCL takeover, I witnessed the ... Read More
This was touted as a very special event with many great surprise features, as it was the final voyage of a former (before NCL bought the line) great ship. Having been on the Marco Polo prior to and after the NCL takeover, I witnessed the accelerating deterioration of ambiance and quality. In summary, most of the passengers on this cruise were former enthusiastic Marco Polo repeaters. All had noticed the same deterioration of quality that I did. I spoke directly to about 50 of the 700+ passengers who were as convinced as I was that they would never again set foot on an NCL ship. There was not one among these experienced cruisers who did not believe that NCL management had an awful disregard for their customers and were only concerned with bilking them. I overheard many people saying this in addition to the ones that I directly spoke to. It started with the people at NCL who booked the flights. We were a party of six, 3 adults and 3 children. They initially booked us on separate flights and had the children flying alone. It took a concerted effort by our TA to straighten this out. Even so, it was poorly done. They scheduled us to fly from Lisbon (debarkation point) to Heathrow (sitting for 5 hours) then to Miami (another 5 hour layover) and then ultimately to Tampa. We arrived in Tampa at midnight. This despite available flights from Lisbon direct to the USA (Newark) which had direct flights to Tampa. During the voyage, they continually ran out of different kinds of food, starting with fruit, then vegetables and much more. Like many lines there was a high priced Internet service. Their router had bandwidth limitations, so if there were several simultaneous users, some would get cut off. This made it difficult and at times impossible to send lengthy attachments or photos. The Internet manager knew little about computers or data transmission and tried to cover up by giving nonsensical explanations. We lost Internet use for 4 days and the ship personnel tried to tell us that there was no satellite coverage at the Equator. Imagine if this fairy tale were true, we were sailing Northeast and no communication for 4 days. Just how wide do they believe the Equator to be? Their Internet service software was designed to keep everything slow, as it was full of time consuming steps such as; right after log on they had a screen which tried to sell you more time. You had to say "no" before you could get anywhere. The Pursers office had 4 people that interfaced with the passengers. Two were nasty, the other 2 tried to help but were limited by management. For example, early on many people including me received a curt note from the Purser threatening to cut off our charge privileges if we did not go to them immediately and sign a credit card slip. Since I had done so earlier I went to find out what the problem was. After a bit of harangue and snide remarks by the Pursers staff they finally admitted that there was a stack of signed credit card slips that they had not yet entered into the computer system. The Filipino restaurant staff were great. They maintained their humor, quality standards and human warmth, even though the too were victimized by NCL management. Many of the people had been with the ship for 15 or more years, and of those who were offered positions with NCL after this final voyage; were offered a step down in position and pay and on very poor routes. The Marco Polo was on a continuous trip around the world and NCL was placing them on ships that commuted from the US East coast to the Caribbean for very short cruises. In summary, NCL managed to convince us to NEVER go on another NCL ship. We all had the impression that all NCL was trying to do was to extract money from us. They continually tried to mislead us and told us outrageous excuses for poor service. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
After reading some prior reviews we were worried what was waiting for us at the Rio de Janeiro port. We were glad to finally be on the Rotterdam and see what was going to be home for the next 28 days. A wonderful surprise, both ship and ... Read More
After reading some prior reviews we were worried what was waiting for us at the Rio de Janeiro port. We were glad to finally be on the Rotterdam and see what was going to be home for the next 28 days. A wonderful surprise, both ship and room had traditional design which was beautiful (not worn in any area). We found all the public spaces elegant and cabin was first class. Begin with the best bed, why was it better than the new Noordam, it was a treat to get into each evening. The leather sofa was very comfy and the cabin was spacious. The cabin steward, Rudy, was excellent, he became a wonderful friend after 28 days, knowing our routine and keeping our stateroom in tip-top shape, always had the ice bucket filled for my husband. The fresh flowers throughout the public areas were lovely and appreciated when at sea for so many days. The bed linens were luxury, as well as the bathroom towels, soaps, shampoo, lotions. The food was very good the first 16 days of the cruise and the next 12 were not the same quality but perhaps being on the ship you get tired of the same kitchen and there were some repeats. The Pinnacle Grill was very good steak, limited menu choices but staff was very professional and made the evening a delightful surprise. The lido was very good for breakfast, and when we learned how to find the lighter dishes we were very happy to have lunch as well. I took a cooking class and had a fun afternoon, unlike any prior cooking classes I have attended. The Cruise Director was good, she had pax attending many different events that covered all age groups, this was a change from prior Hal travel which tended to be more senior pax. We had great music on the lido deck pool side and pax were having good party with crew and band (BBQ Night). Jeff Warren was a real treat, what a great entertainer in the piano bar, sorry he had to leave in Lisbon but he was overdue for a break from the ship. His replacement was not to our taste and we missed Jeff alot. The best bar waiter, Jax, made us feel like we were in our own country club, he remembered our names, and drink choice. We moved to the Ocean Bar to hear the band and Jax was moved as well, so we enjoyed the music played after and before dinner. We had two parties for the CruiseCritic members which was attended by the Captain and his staff, in the Crows Nest, and they gave us some wonderful info on the future of Hal and answered many of our questions. The Captain was very kind to us sharing his history of becoming a cruise ship captain. Some pax had some issues with Port Director, which the Captain stated he would address and as the cruise continued we did see a change regarding ports of call info. The port trips ranged from okay to outstanding. The port trip to horse breeding farm in Cadiz was outstanding and would recommend to any pax interested in horses but only offered on Saturday. We had a problem with one port call not good for wheelchair pax and was refunded the cost. During the entire cruise the Captain keep his pax informed about what was coming and made everyone aware of the special places we were passing. You begin to realize the excellent performance of the staff/crew is due to the great Captain that commands the Rotterdam. We have read articles that state the quality of a ship starts with the head officer, Captain Rik Krombeen should be praised for the wonderful ship and crew he commands. He made us aware of his pride in being on the Rotterdam and his crew continues to convey this message, "The Rotterdam allows us to serve you better". Thanks for a great cruise that will be forever in our memory. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008

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