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11 Canary Islands Romantic Cruise Reviews

We sailed on the Marella Dream in January 2017 and absolutely loved it. We loved the restaurants, the food was of a high standard everywhere we chose to eat on board. We were also all inclusive which meant we didn't have to pay for ... Read More
We sailed on the Marella Dream in January 2017 and absolutely loved it. We loved the restaurants, the food was of a high standard everywhere we chose to eat on board. We were also all inclusive which meant we didn't have to pay for any drinks and we liked the location of our cabin which was on deck 7 right at the very back of the ship. 7203. We enjoyed our cruise so much on board the Dream that we booked to sail on her again January 18. She is currently cruising around the Canaries so we were happy at not having to fly so far this time. We got married on the 30th December so this cruise was meant to be extra special as it was our Honeymoon. Unlike previous cruises we have been on, including last years, for some reason you have to collect your own luggage at the airport terminal. Usually once you have checked your baggage in at the U.K. airport you do not see it again until you are on board the ship. This is part of the service you normally expect when going on a cruise. Not a big deal but it did make us wonder why? Within hours of embarking we realised that something was wrong. We went to have something to eat in the Lido buffet restaurant which is normally self service . I picked my plate up ready and was scolded! The girl passed me a plate wearing gloves. I noticed all the serving spoons, tongs etc were facing the wrong way and quickly realised we were not allowed to serve ourselves. It soon became clear why. There was Norovirus on board the ship and had been for several weeks.The ship was demonstrating heightened hygiene practice. The captain was constantly making tannoy announcements telling us to sanitize sanitize sanitize which of course we did, not wanting to catch anything. All swimming pools saunas and jacuzzis were also out of action. There was netting covering them up. Families with children must have devastated because of this ! It was bad enough for the adults not to be able to have a swim ! This is all a big part of any holiday ! An hour later I saw a poor woman projectile vomit and then collapse in the Medusa lounge. We had not even set sail ! An army of staff were radioed to come to the scene!!. There was about 8 men in boiler suits wearing masks and gloves carrying back packs with either hoovers or some sort of sanitizer spray in them and the whole area was cordoned of by a wall of chairs. This went on for about an hour as the lady was helped by her husband and crew. Later on I ordered a vodka lime soda at the bar and asked for a slice of lime or lemon to be told no fruit was allowed in drinks because the ship was on strict sanitation. Oh well. no great shakes.But we were supposed to be on a cruise where you enjoy the best of everything. The captain made an announcement that bad weather conditions were going to make it a rough sailing that night and he had decided to omit tomorrow's port of call, La Palma and we would have an extra sea day instead! We and fellow passengers were not too happy about this but again oh well, he must have his reasons? After a long days travelling we went to bed about half 11 still feeling great to be on board the Dream and excited about our 2 week cruise. Just nodding off around midnight and it started. Loud booming music, like it was actually in our cabin. We both use ear plugs anyway, but they did not block out this music !! It turns out that we were directly below the late night bar where they party until the small hours of the morning! To add insult to injury my husband had paid £90 for an upgrade to this cabin which he had to arrange verbally over the phone!! He had asked for the same cabin as last year but was told that was already sold but would he like one 3 doors up. He said that's great it was nice and quiet and near the door to the rear of the ship again. At no point did they warn him that this cabin was underneath the late night bar ! They just took the payment! The next day I asked at reception to be moved as I could not stand that noise for a fortnight and they told me there was nowhere to move to only further along on the same deck underneath the Medusa lounge which was also having a late night party till the early hours. We said that would be pointless !! She said they would have a word with the entertainments team and tell them to keep the music down to a more acceptable level. It was bearable for a few nights, we stayed out longer and drank more to help us sleep but a few nights later it happened again and continued for the rest of the fortnight. BEWARE BOOKING A CABIN ON DECK 7 towards the rear of the ship you will get no sleep !! As if that wasn't bad enough with the noise, there was maintenance work going on every where on the ship ! We would find a quiet place to sunbathe and have a read and you could guarantee that a man in overalls would start with drilling, banging, angle grinding, sanding, varnishing.. you name it they were doing it ! It was actually unbelievable!! This holiday was turning in to the holiday from hell ! Still determined to enjoy ourselves we remained upbeat and drank even more to block our misery out !! When the ship actually docked and we could get off for a bit our disappointment just got worse. In many ports all you could see was shipping containers no nice views to enjoy, except one day in Madeira but the following week it moored in a different berth. Agina in a industrial part full of giant containers. We had to walk literally miles just to get into a tourist area. This happened time and time again. Once we had to buy tickets costing £6 to get on the TUI shuttle bus to get us out of the port and into a nice area !! It really really was getting more disappointing as the cruise went on ! The food in the Orion restaurant had gone down the pan since last year. It was just about warm enough most of the time but sometimes we just asked them to microwave it, I cant stand wasting food. They laughed and said you can have it hot Madam but frazzled !! We watched why the food was not hot. Your entire meal came at the same time. Whilst we were eating our starters the main course and dessert were left on the side. This is `100 % fact, in fact all of what I am saying is. By week two I was in tears and wanted to go home. The noise, the late night bar music, the ports of call which we knew were the same as the first week, the same old same old entertainment night after night. We thought about getting off in Lanzarote and booking in a nice hotel but worked out how much more money on top of the cruise that would have cost so decided to stick it out. I think the people on reception felt sorry for me as I was regularly in tears . In the end they refunded us our £90 upgrade fee and gave us a £50 apology. It did cheer us up a bit but in no way did we consider it compensation. We had paid nearly £3000 for this cruise and it was our Honeymoon !! When we eventually got home thank goodness, I filled in a complaints form and spoke to several TUI customer service members. They all really sympathised with me but an email came back yesterday telling us that they were sorry that our cruise did not live up to our expectations but we had been given £50 compensation on board and they hoped we would be cruising with TUI again soon! It is not that our expectations were too high, after all we had been on this ship before, it was that TUI failed to deliver the wonderful cruise that they promise you in their advertising campaigns ! That ship should never have set sail knowing there was a massive health hazard on board. So many peoples holidays were ruined by getting ill and being confined to their cabin for days. We heard many people complaining. One day they closed ALL RESTAURANTS for deep cleaning ! The only place you could get food was the Lido grill which we would never ever choose to eat from. People were just getting on and having to stand in a long line for absolutely 3rd rate food which kept on running out! This was our last day and boy were we glad that we were going home. The new passengers were going mad !! I felt sorry for them ! Trust me, my husband and I have got a fantastic sense of humour and we did manage to have a laugh in spite of feeling so miserable and disappointed on our honeymoon. I am now laughing thinking that TUI really think we are going to book another cruise with them! Even the Captain got off half way through !! Maybe he went down with the virus or just bailed with embarrassment !!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
This was our honeymoon and something neither of us had ever done but due to people in general who had lots of experience cruising we went for it and unfortunately we were very disappointed. We had deluxe cabin 7640, which was at the ... Read More
This was our honeymoon and something neither of us had ever done but due to people in general who had lots of experience cruising we went for it and unfortunately we were very disappointed. We had deluxe cabin 7640, which was at the back of the ship lovely balcony. On arrival there was a very strong smell of sewerage this was reported and after and hour we were told that the cabin had been re cleaned. On return it still smelt terrible so again we informed them that it wasn't the room but the drains in bathroom. After 4 hours waiting they eventually cleared blockages. However this happened another 3 times on the whole deck through the week, Not what you expect on a cruise that cost short of 4k !! The all Inc package is ridiculous, you can get spirits / wines / beers and some cocktails but if you want a bottle of water or a can of pop you have either pay more or go Premium, not what we were told or expected after what the cost was for this holiday. Rip off penny pinching seems to be their goal. The entertainment as said by other guests was no better that one would expect at Butlins. Bingo ! Trivia quiz / Music Quiz the only decent entertainment was in the Broadway lounge and was only a 45 min show, but at least it was professionally done. The Islands visited were beautiful with the exception of British Virgin Islands, why oh why the ship went here is beyond me and many other guests, Still in a bad state of repair nothing to do beaches closed shops not open and rubble, cars and containers all smashed up at the side of the road. This was a Paradise Island tour but this Islands current situation needs time to heal before the tourist are brought back. This was a holiday not an Aid tour and TUI are very wrong to take people here yet. No other cruise ships were docking here, so our take was it was too expensive for TUI to change the Itinary !! The food isn't what we expected, nothing special and certainly not what we had been informed on cruise ships. We must of been the first to go on a cruise without gaining weight ! As said we are new to cruises, others on ship who had done many in past with other companies did tell us that this was by far one of their worst experiences, from service / choices / entertainment / quality of food and the add ons you don't expect or are told about until you get on ship. One couple had to see the Ships Doctor it cost them £30 jst for the consultation. Not good for a British ship as if at sea and you need medical help another money grabbing exercise !! The best part of cruising is a different location each day bit again don't buy excursions from the ship, get them locally and save ££s, its the same trips ! We wont plan to cruise again and if we do again speaking to others from other ships we docked alongside P&O / Disney amongst others seemed to have all happening that we expected but didn't get. TUI need to change this penny pinching culture if All Inc. then make it all Inc. not upgraded options charge up front so you know what you are getting. If no one upgraded there wouldn't be one so they would have no choice. I thought that ALL meant ALL not a part of !! Not happy and after only 1 cruise experience not planning another !! Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
The Ship: The major problem was that there were far too many passengers for some of the facilities on board. Getting a sunbed anywhere was sometimes impossible (and always if the sun was out!). There are the usual signs about not reserving ... Read More
The Ship: The major problem was that there were far too many passengers for some of the facilities on board. Getting a sunbed anywhere was sometimes impossible (and always if the sun was out!). There are the usual signs about not reserving sunbeds that most passengers totally ignored, there were often more towels than passengers on sunbeds. I complained without result. The bars were often so crowded that people stood to consume their drinks. Cabin: we had the basic inside cabin which was minute, I would definitely recommend getting a larger cabin. Our steward was very helpful and friendly and the cabin was always clean and tidy. Dining: Fairly good quality and reasonable quantities with a reasonable mix of choices in the main dining rooms for dinner - service was good. Breakfasts in the dining rooms (one served and one buffet) were excellent. The Windjammer buffet was so big that finding particular items was a challenge and it was difficult to find seats at the most popular times. If you want a steak you will pay $20 extra! This is the first holiday when I have not had a steak - I sometimes have one every day. It was irritating that waiting staff tried to upsell the specialist restaurants (involving extra costs) while we were eating. Drinks: Were expensive with very small spirit measures and a massive 18% service charge was added even if you queued at the bar to get a drink - there were very few waiting staff around. We sometimes waited 10-20 minutes to get a drink. As most passengers seemed to have bought a 'drinks package', the company has a vested interest in slowing down the sales of drinks and serving small measures. Smoking is apparently not hazardous in the casino as it seems to be treated almost everywhere else - a cynical move by the company who don't want smokers moving away from the tables frequently. Entertainment: We missed the Ice Show which everyone seems to agree is first class. The other two shows we saw were in one case reasonably entertaining (a hypnotist) and in the other case very amusing (a juggling comedian). There were plenty of seats available at the shows we attended. We did attend a talk that was supposed to be information about our ports of call. This comprised a blatant excursion selling exercise and the speaker (a Nigerian lady) seemed to know little to nothing about the ports or much else (telling us that Columbus visited Gran Canaria in 1942 and that Madeira is in Funchal!) Ports and excursions: A couple of the stops were shorter than advertised and some were so short and with so many passengers queuing to get off that some people just gave up and stayed on board. It was very disappointing to be constantly checking your watch when visiting an interesting port or deciding to stay on board to avoid having to do so. It was an experience that was not altogether bad but one that I have no wish to repeat. We have only been on a cruise once before with P&O on Azura in 2013 which was a better experience altogether. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
First the good: Dinner in the evening was always excellent, never had a bad meal. The buffet restaurant always had seating where on other cruises we have struggled to get a seat at breakfast and lunch. The Steward for our cabin ... Read More
First the good: Dinner in the evening was always excellent, never had a bad meal. The buffet restaurant always had seating where on other cruises we have struggled to get a seat at breakfast and lunch. The Steward for our cabin (D728) Savio was brilliant, was always on hand and ready to help. The shows laid on by the headliners team were brilliant and the guest acts were always good. ..... That's it! The Bad: Starting at the beginning.. Getting on board was a nightmare, turned up at the correct time and had a 3 hour wait to get on board. Travelling with 2 other couples and asked us to be inked (and promised we were) 2 couples at the very back and the others at the very front. When questioned the couple at the front were told they have been upgraded, when we compared it was obvious they had been downgraded. When we complained at reception we were told it was all down to the onshore people and nothing they could do. Reception staff in general were really not interested and couldn't be bothered to lift a finger. The rooms were disappointingly small but we expected this reading previous complaints. I very much doubt if 2 ladies sharing could get ready for a formal night at the same time. You were very lucky if you could get to see 2 shows a night as you usually have to get to either the Headliners theatre or and especially the Live Lounge a good 45 minutes to an hour early to make sure you get a seat. The theatre reports to hold around 900-950 people but looked a lot less to us, I estimated around 800. Even with 3 shows a night there are still not enough seats to let all passengers see the show. The resident band Pulse supplied the majority of the entertainment in the live lounge and were quite honestly terrible, they seem to think that playing everything full blast is the way to go. We were forced to watch them on several occasions while we waited for the good invited acts, if we walked out in disgust as we wanted we would have lost out seats and, at best, would have had to stand for the good acts. There was an outbreak of Norovirus while we were on board and we accept extreme measures have to be taken but we were treated as complete lepers to the point of being shouted at if we picked up something in the shops; forced to wash our hands at the buffet restaurant (even though the soap dispensers didn't work) even if we are just walking through so get to the sun deck and told not to swap papers in the quizzes as if we were all diseased. The Limelight Club had several guest speakers/entertainers on during the cruise which we would like to have seen including Dean Andrews (actor), Darren Day and a Morcombe & Wise tribute but you have to pay a £22 surcharge on the meal in the club if you want to see them. This is the first time I have ever seen this on any cruise, having to pay to see certain entertainment!! There were a couple of very good entertainment crew, little Scotty and the one that ran the dukebox quiz (forgotten his name) were the best but most were terrible. They rushed through quizzes like they wanted them finished as soon as possible and they really couldn't be bothered. In the bars there seems to be a new idea that each of the bar staff have a quota of drinks to be brought via them every day. That would be the only explanation as to why we get constantly got hassled as soon as our drinks got half drunk. On the last night we timed it and in the space of 24 minutes after my pint was half gone we got asked 8 times whether we would like more drinks, some people has hardly touched theirs. During the football (Euro 2016) England games it almost came to blows as they constantly stood in front of the TVs asking if people wanted more drinks and on the odd occasion they got an acceptance they would stand there taking orders and again giving drinks. Saying that the bar staff were generally nice and seemed to be under a lot of pressure by P&O to sell more drinks. The decks and especially the sun loungers at the back are very dirty from soot from the funnels. Something new to watch out for is that now it is mostly freedom dining. We thought this was going to be a problem for us as we usually like to get to know our own waiters but as it turned out the 6 of us managed to get the same table most nights and when there was something special to see we could get in early and finish sooner to ensure we could get a seat at one of the venues. The bottom line is that this is what happens when bean counters start running a cruise company. They cram as many people as possible into a ship (seems ridiculous to say it was too small but it was for the 3,500 passengers crammed into it) and to do that they have cut back on in many areas and have started charging for everything they can (including Yoga/Pilates in the morning). There is a Sindhu restaurant that looks bigger than the Live Lounge but because it makes money for them they give that the most space. Although I would always recommend P&O for cruises I ask everyone not to go on the Britannia. If we start making this popular this is what all future cruise ships will be like, the Ventura, Oriana, Arcadia and even little Adonia are 10 times better than the Britannia, use them and boycott this P&O cash cow, Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
My wife and I had been on many NCL cruises before. This time we went all out for our 25th wedding anniversary and stayed in a Penthouse suite in the famous NCL Haven (ship withing a ship). We had stayed in a Penthouse suite before but ... Read More
My wife and I had been on many NCL cruises before. This time we went all out for our 25th wedding anniversary and stayed in a Penthouse suite in the famous NCL Haven (ship withing a ship). We had stayed in a Penthouse suite before but never in the Haven. We picked the NCL Epic because of the size, event and location to Morocco and the Canary Islands. We cruised out of this port before and expected about the same line, which they were. Not too many delays because this port seems to be active and organized. Our concierge escorted us to the Haven where we were seated in the lounge and given about a 20 minute tour of the Haven advantages. We then went on our own to the room. When we first walked in we noticed 2 things. 1: A terrible smell of mold in the room 2: how small it was compared to the other Penthouse suite we had on the NCL sun. We called the concierge and reported the smell and they came up immediately and said they didn't notice the smell...fyi, I'm SUPER allergic to mold and have extra sensitive smell to it. Thinking it was my imagination, I went on like I didn't smell anything but asked the to spray daily some type of chlorine to remove the smell. During the cruise, the smell got worse. They called up plumbing and they lifted on the drain areas and put down air fresheners. It improved the smell but the mold was still there. Then from day one, the TV would not work, it kept shutting off not allowing us to use the new Aliance system that you can schedule dinners, excursions, etc. on it. We lost our day at sea waiting for IT to fix it since we had to be in the room while it was being looked at. If you understand the layout of these new rooms on the Epic, there was no privacy to use the bathroom or to shower so we had to use public restrooms. The TV wasn't repair until the 2nd to the last day of the cruise. Finally, about 5 days into the cruise we noticed the floor being wet. We though that maybe the cabin steward spilled some water of something cleaning the room. Over the next couple of days, the spot got larger and larger and finally the whole carpet was wet and they found a leak and the mold under the tub enclosure. NOTE: They wanted us to leave the room for 4 hours while they could dry it? They eventually moved us the last night to another room. Didn't even help us move our stuff. In the end, the Hotel Director gave us $500 credit on our bill and apologized. The room cost us over $1200 per night. As far as the excursions, they were average and it seemed like the tour operators were bothered that they had to work over Christmas and didn't seem to like Americans. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Background: My wife and I (aged 60 & 62) are new to cruising - we took a Last Minute Budget All Inclusive Mediterranean 7 Day Cruise in June 2014 to see if this type of holiday suited us before committing to a more expensive and ... Read More
Background: My wife and I (aged 60 & 62) are new to cruising - we took a Last Minute Budget All Inclusive Mediterranean 7 Day Cruise in June 2014 to see if this type of holiday suited us before committing to a more expensive and sophisticated version over Xmas and New Year (18/12/15 to 05/01/16). We booked (3 weeks before departure in the Black Friday Sale) the Balmoral sailing to the Canaries and Cape Verde Islands. I gambled that I would be 'signed off' by the hospital physiotherapist on 4th December after a hip replacement operation - I need not have worried! The main attraction of the cruise was a) Winter Sun and b) visits to 6 ports over 18 days to give a decent balance of sea days and visits. We actually visited only 4 ports and spent 14 days at sea - not what we signed up for! Travel to Embarkation: We drove from Fife, Scotland whilst the Forth Bridge was closed so had to leave at 03:30. We had booked the Marriott Meon Valley Overnight Stay, Free Parking (up to 28 days), Evening Meal (extra charge), Breakfast and free taxi to/from Southampton Cruise Terminal. Total cost £212.88 compared to £136 for only the Port Parking - £76 for Dinner, B&B and taxi transport for 2 adults was very good value for money and the entire operation was smooth. friendly and professional. Ship Information: 1300 berth stretched 27 year old vessel - not a modern tower of flats at sea by any means - 'shabby chic' is a reasonable description - care worn but serviceable. The ship is very clean and the Norovirus protection regimes is borderline obsessive - a good point - with two auto dispensers and two serving staff in support, armed with manual 'squeegee' antiseptic dispensers. The cruise brochure says that Fred doesn't bother with climbing walls etc - just as well since the average passenger age is about 70 (with a fair few in the late 50s/early 60s age range and a lot of 80 years+ passengers). The Reception Area (Deck 6) on embarkation afternoon resembled a Mobility Support Convention - buggies, zimmerframes, crutches and walking sticks in all sizes and hues - until everyone had found their cabins. About 6 shops on Decks 6 & 7 - watches, perfumes and a decent range of clothing & accessories, especially bearing in mind the space constraints - we only used the clothing shop (needed the next size of shirt after 12 days of cruise dining ...) and the service was excellent. There is a promenade on Deck 7 (4 laps for a mile) where the Daily Walk (led by Hristov from the Gym) takes place at 09:15 - not well attended because most people were either eating breakfast or undertaking other activities. Throughout the day, a hardcore of power walkers and a couple of joggers were steaming around - the deck width is just comfortable for two strollers side-by-side so it is necessary to squeeze in when the 'Scuse me ...' cry goes up as the more athletic zoom by. Most entertaining when the overtaking occurs on the slalom sections where the walkers and joggers have to dodge the crew who are on permanent repainting duty (more of which later). Don't wear your best jeans or shorts when walking unless you want a free white stripe on the right leg. The poolside furniture is plentiful as are the seats on the promenade deck - but all is well worn with yellowing rubber support straps for the seating/reclining portions - careworn but serviceable. Pools (seawater) and jacuzzis are on Deck 7 (rear of Palms Cafe) and Deck 11 (can be reached by both internal and external stairs - good exercise). The Daily Newsletter became something of a joke - no proofreading undertaken. Crosswords were printed without corresponding clues - make up your own answers ... and details of one port of call for Cape Verde was a straight 'cut & paste' from an earlier voyage, referring to a port in the Azores! Cabins: We booked the Anchor Fare Inside Cabin and were allocated number 5031 on Deck 5 - about six cabins short of the prow of the ship - like sleeping on a roller coaster during the Bay of Biscay section in each direction. Wardrobes, between-bed chest of drawers and dressing table were worn and a catch was missing from the chest of drawers and one from the wardrobe. Only a problem in the Bay of Biscay where drawers flew open every 20 minutes or so and after the chair we jammed against the drawers travelled some 6 feet down the cabin, we gave up and lived with the cacophony. The furniture quality was 'decent charity shop' standard - usually advertised at up to £35 each unit. Cabin cleaning and bedmaking/turning down was excellent every day, despite the staff having more cabins to clean than on previous years (according to other passengers). The cabin crew and serving staff are really superb and should be the standard that other areas of the operation aspire to. Towels were changed regularly and the bathroom kept spotless - a lot of work since the washbasin is quite shallow and the 'Off to Full Power' settings on the tap were very fine, resulting in the mirror being spottled with splashes each time it was used. The shower was very powerful but the hot to cold setting was very fine - a challenge not to burn or freeze. There was no waiting time for the water to heat up - less than 5 seconds. Dining: Formal dining in the Ballindalloch (Deck 6) and Avon and Spey restaurants (Deck 10) whilst Palms Buffet on Deck 7 served breakfast, morning coffee (and cakes), lunch, afternoon tea (and cakes), evening meal, Supper Club (and cakes) which explains why I bought a larger shirt ... We were allocated Ballindalloch restaurant for Dinner (2nd sitting, which we requested so that we could have maximum time in port - sore point). The serving staff in all restaurants are excellent and are probably a major reason for Fred's loyal customer base; the sight of a waiter (humming 'Here Comes the Bride'), carrying two bowls of soup at the same time as supporting two quite frail elderly ladies who clung onto his arm as we crossed the Bay of Biscay in really heavy seas, was a joy to behold. Yosi ('You see' phonetically) and Jonathan were superb - remembered names, preferences etc faultlessly - and were endlessly cheerful in the face of some rude comments from other diners. They are a credit to Fred (as is Ruby-Ann in the Morning Light Pub). Serving staff in the Palms were a little more relaxed but still looked after passengers excellently. We took lunch in the Ballindalloch (and breakfast on 2-3 days) and also in the Avon and Spey restaurants (but not when crossing the Bay of Biscay - the sway was too much!) and were delighted with the service, quality and range of food - I am a picky eater and valued the ability to choose from the Menu and then forage in the buffet area to produce some quite eclectic food combinations that would probably have caused chef to despair. Other meals were taken in the Palms where the talents of the pastry chef were always evident - consistently superb. Entertainment: Meets the needs of the client group - safe. clean and gentle. The comedian was the most 'edgy' but kept to mildly naughty so very difficult to be upset. The nightly shows in the Neptune Lounge (Deck 7) were well produced - a couple of strong singers, from the in-house company, carried those whose voices were weaker or a little off-key. The crew panto was very energetic, rich in slapstick and generated lots of belly laughs - deserved for the amount of work that had gone into rehearsal. Not Broadway or West End - but it never claimed to be - and a pleasant way to pass the evening. Quizzes, Art & Crafts Classes, Bridge Classes, Line Dancing and Guest Speakers completed the line up. Some Guest Speakers were very good, others were very bad (one sent me to sleep - and other passengers suffered the same fate). The Elvis impersonator never appeared on stage although he was spotted wandering around the Decks from time to time. I believe these are volunteer Speakers who receive a free cruise for their efforts so it is unfair to expect experts in their field. The Rosario Trio played at least twice each day (violin, double bass and guitar) and had a really good and broad repertoire - jazz. classical, Spanish guitar etc. Very popular with the audience. The scheduled shows were changed on at least 3 occasions because of staff illness so the Entertainment Cancellations alternated with the Port Cancellations to keep the passengers guessing. Excursions: This is where matters fell apart with a vengeance. The itinerary was Funchal, Arrecife, Cape Verde (Mindelo and Praia), Las Palmas and Tenerife. At the Captain's Welcome Party (queued 15 minutes to meet him but then told 'just enter the Lounge at the other entrance when we declined to be photographed - grrr!), he said that there was an exciting new project - we had left Southampton with a white hull but would return with a new grey version. Our visit to Funchal was then cancelled (via the 'Daily Cancellation Broadcast' at noon each day), allegedly because of delays crossing the Bay of Biscay. In the absence of hard information from the Captain, rumours circulated that there were engine problems and that the power was inadequate after the new section of ship was added some years ago, meaning that the timetable was too tight for the plod across the Bay of Biscay, unless it was 'like a millpond with a good downhill slope' as one passenger eruditely described matters. Our first port visit was to Arrecife, Lanzarote was 23rd December after 5 days at sea. A 5 minute trip to the town in modern coaches that operated a smooth 15 minute shuttle service. This was the port where the Guest Speaker had sent me to sleep so everything was a pleasant surprise - the old castle and port area were very pleasant as was the small mini-pontoon where small private boats were moored and the circumference was occupied by market traders selling belts, wallets etc - the standard range. The town centre was pleasant in a low key fashion - we just wandered around and took photos (second objective of the cruise - wander, take pictures, drink coffee at an internet cafe, then repeat after lunch ...). It was nice to be on terra firma again. Christmas Eve and Day at sea - the atmosphere was a little muted with mutterings of discontent - 'It wouldn't be Fred if he didn't cancel at least one port - and this is our 4th cruise with him!' was one remark we overheard. Boxing Day was spent at Mindelo, Cape Verde. The tour buses were real museum pieces (40 years old oil burners - could have come from a film set!) - no air conditioning, seat belts and Anchor fare passengers were charged £5 each for the 10 minute ride to town). Mindelo town is a very poor area but we were stopped 3 times by locals who were very keen to practice spoken English and to tell us where to get the best photographs. We found a side street cafe (as did about 4-5 other passengers from the cruise) and spent a very pleasant hour or so amongst local residents, drinking huge mugs of capuccino and using the free WiFi - all for the princely sum of €2.30! On the walk back towards the tour bus, we were approached twice by beggars/pickpockets who were quite persistent - kept walking, tightened grip on camera and raised monitoring until we were back in the Town Centre. The Town Beach is quite charming - fishermen working, females taking the catch direct from the small boats and the running the length of the street trying to sell the fish to the cafes and restaurants. Numerous dogs on the beach, none of whom are toilet trained, so be careful if you need to step back to capture that important photograph. Mindelo is a developing area and I had to remind myself that my 'charming/quaint' photograph was someone else's daily poverty. Well worth the visit - although we seemed to be the only passengers who thought so! The island and its residents are working hard to develop tourism but it is very raw and basic - we hope to see it again before it becomes too commercialised. Next day was Praia, Cape Verde where we took the 2 hours minibus and Colonial Walk Tour with Eugene, a very erudite and entertaining guide who told us about his family and daily life for the Verdeans. Excellent pace - we have been on similar tours where the duration was crammed into 1-1.25 hours; Eugene left plenty of time for the photographers so we didn't miss any of the information at the next point of interest and we finished with a 30 minute cafe break for a coffee and a meat pie of unknown origins - it might have part of a rodent control team in a former life - who knows - but it tasted OK. 2 hours was probably a wee bit padded but it allowed a gentle pace and we felt we had received good value for our £25 per head charge for the excursion. The only downside was an attempted pickpocketing on my wife by a small 'blind' boy (no white stick and walked with far too much pace and direction to be visually impaired - no coincidence that his contact point was my wife's purse but her hand had reached it first). We left Praia early because, according to the Captain, quote 'This is not a safe place to be after dark' unquote. It would have been nice to have been advised of this earlier! Next came the Captain's Cancellation Message - Tenerife had been cancelled because he was expecting more bad weather (a staff member whose parents were on board had predicted this some 48 hours earlier ...) BUT, as a bonus (!), we would have more shore time in Las Palmas. We were pretty cynical by this time and had heard that Fred has a large operation in Las Palmas (tour buses, inter-island ferries) and so has a little more leverage. Because, staying until 23:00, the majority of the hull repainting was completed in port. Did Funchal and/or Tenerife refuse permission for a badger-coloured vessel to dock? The next Captain's promise was to 'try and dock off Funchal for the New Year's fireworks - we can't dock because there are no berths but I have a plan ...' This involved the ship circling in the outer reaches of the port for about 3 hours - great views of the fireworks display but going round in circles is not the same as a full day visit! A passenger was taken ill during the night and we had to return to Funchal at about 04:00 for a hospital transfer; later that day, we had to turn back towards Funchal for about 45 minutes to enable a helicopter evacuation of a sick passenger but this was aborted - we heard later that the passenger had died. Despite these delays, we managed to stay ahead of schedule for the rest of the voyage, despite slowing down to a 'pootle' speed for over 30 hours - we still arrived in Southampton some 2 hours ahead of schedule despite a real 'force majeure' Bay of Biscay storm that led to a string of injuries and the closure of the public areas of the ship to passengers one evening. The difference in distance between Tenerife-Southampton and Las Palmas-Southampton is only some 150 nautical miles and, had we maintained a normal speed, instead of dawdling for over 30 hours, we could have made Tenerife for the scheduled visit. This is supported by the fact that the Black Watch was in Funchal at the same time as the Balmoral but was still able to reach Liverpool before we made Southampton on the same day! Why doesn't Fred stay with the published itinerary - or at least refund the Port Taxes that the fare includes? Disembarkation: Smooth and quick after breakfast that was served from 06:30. We were waiting for our taxi back to Marriott Meon Valley Hotel at about 08:15 to collect our car - perfect! Conclusion: We booked the cruise because of the destinations - to cancel 2 from 6 is shoddy, as was the manner in which the reasons were given. The changes to the Entertainments at short notice and the Daily Newsletter/Misinformation sheet merely compounded the problem. The superb service by the serving and cabin staff was spoiled by the senior operational Managers who really should lead by example. Fred appears to have become cynical and complacent, trading on the ageing client group who value/need these elements. We may need to be guided to our seat and have our food fetched in 10-15 years' time - we have no intention of cruising with Fred until we reach that state. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We are currently onboard the epic towards the end of our holiday. Let me first start by saying this cruise was suppose to be a competition prize, however I can honestly say if we won this experince again I wouldn't even bother taking ... Read More
We are currently onboard the epic towards the end of our holiday. Let me first start by saying this cruise was suppose to be a competition prize, however I can honestly say if we won this experince again I wouldn't even bother taking the time off work for it. Embarkation in Barcelona took 3 hours in the cruise terminal, diabolical organisation to say the least. Not a good start to a holiday... To sum it up, the massive ship is like a zoo. There seems to be too many passengers than the capacity of the ship can handle. Often it is a struggle to find a seat or area that isn't crowded at any time. The whole organisation of the ship is poor, there is no order so it's like a free for all in the bars and restaurants. We have given up going to the buffet as people are pushing and shoving from all directions. God knows why the food is worse than what is served in hospitals. It's obvious to see this ship is understaffed, however i don't think this is an excuse for bad costumer service. I would say only 50% the staff onboard are friendly. And only 5% of the staff smile, clearly they think the same about the epic as I do. In one Restaurant staff even argued right next to us over who would serve us, as they already had too many tables to wait on. Needless to say we left, as it made us very uncomfortable being treated like an inconvenience to them. Once onboard expect to pay extra for everything, maybe the added auto gratuity to most things is why the staff feel they don't need to bother working for tips. The cost of drinks are expensive, however we paid for the ultimate beverage package. Which is defiantly worth it if you do choose to come to the zoo. The cleanliness of the ship is hit or miss. Our stateroom is very dusty, the balcony is dirty and we often get given clean towels with stains on. I think the worst thing about this ship is the quality of the food. Everyone onboard is complaining when they leave the resturants. One guy even even asked to get off the ship at the next port to be flown home. If you are spending a couple of thousand pounds on a holiday why should you be served frozen Potatoe wedges in the main dining room? The only way to get half decent food is to pay extra to go to the speciality resturants. Maybe this is why they serve slop in the complimentary ones? Also I don't understand why at each port we only port for a few hours when the other cruise lines usually stay in port all day? There are too many negatives about this most to list them all, even the bingo is a joke. $50 to play, when the top prize is only $160 jackpot. Where does the rest of the money go?!? Only positives are the cute towel animals the steward of our room makes and Glenda from merderno Restaurant. She should be running this ship as she has been the only staff memeber with great customer service skills. Over all I think NCL is just one big profit making machine, they don't seem to care when you make a complaint. Probably because everyone on this ship is complaining so they are use to it. As I said at the beginning of the review I would not sail on any NCL ship again, even if it was free. Please please choose another cruise line to spend your holiday aboard. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
this was my first cruise vacation and last one.this carnival paradise was too far from being a paradise place to be.we purchase an excursion to Cozumel mexico to passion island for $160 for my wife and me,they told us that it was a five ... Read More
this was my first cruise vacation and last one.this carnival paradise was too far from being a paradise place to be.we purchase an excursion to Cozumel mexico to passion island for $160 for my wife and me,they told us that it was a five hours excursion in the island but they din'd told us that the time to get to that island was included in the five hours excursion,witch it took us over 2 hours on the round trip so it left us less than 3 hours to enjoy the excursion plus the crew that took us was asking for tip all the time.we enjoy more the shopping around the port of mexico.i recommend to bye souvenirs around the port because its a lot less expensive than any were else.we boat a souvenir in the excursion island for $40 dollars and we saw the same item on the port for $9 dollars,i was angry.carnival paradise is a cruise for people that likes to drink all day long,the pool is too small for so many people,the decoration of the ship is a casino stale everywhere on the ship. there's nothing to do on that cruise but to get drunk and hear laud and wack music. i felt trap in that ship.the only good think was the food but after the second day u get tire of eating the same food,burgers and fries and chicken strips.the sodas are not included,there is water and lemonade on the dispenser, most of the crew were nice and friendly but there was a few of them with series faces.there was lack of information for exiting the ship.they sit u with others couples on the dinner witch it was ad at the first but then used to it and made friend with others people but it feels wear at first. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Parking Brilliant!Ship , Geared towards very unruly kids sometimes drunk and fighting,3 families were turned off the ship! restaurants not as good as Independence, No Wow factor! We had a romance package and our breakfast in bed was ... Read More
Parking Brilliant!Ship , Geared towards very unruly kids sometimes drunk and fighting,3 families were turned off the ship! restaurants not as good as Independence, No Wow factor! We had a romance package and our breakfast in bed was totally forgotten and we finally got it at10.00am, of course we had been up ages by then! HARDLY ROMANTIC WHEN YOU HAVE TO PHONE SEVERAL TIMES! As the trip was very windy it was a job to get any seats under cover, not enough staff for so many people,We only got 1/2 DAY TRIPS WHICH MEANT NOT ENOUGH TIME TO GET ANYWHERE WORTH SEEING! Two very good shows in evening out of ten days, The Mall was very disappointing, too small for such a big ship and the few shops were empty with only staff having a good natter, not very inviting ,best thing was the coffee shop! The NorthStar was fantastic and the two 70 was good too! Our rooms were very nice! The staff to the rooms were very good and so were our restaurant staff,they followed us to which was the restaurant of the evening.Everyone we spoke to said like us they would not be booking on this ship again, we spoke to one young couple queuing to get back on board, who said it was there 1st and last cruise ,we said that they must try the Independence, As that is a well thought out ship which is luxury cruising before saying No to cruising. we were very disappointed ourselves, we chose this one as we had never been to the Canaries before, but wish we had gone on the independence even though we would have gone somewhere we had been before! SORRY Anthem, but not a good review for you. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
It was somewhere between good and poor with the odd excellent here and there. It was the ships first sailing after a refit and in some areas it was unfinished or maybe not even started? Some work was being done while we were sailing so ... Read More
It was somewhere between good and poor with the odd excellent here and there. It was the ships first sailing after a refit and in some areas it was unfinished or maybe not even started? Some work was being done while we were sailing so areas were roped off, why could this work not been done before we sailed, when you're on holiday you don't shouldn't have to deal with the smell off paint and chemicals, we understand that ship maintenance is on going but this was more than that. Part of the refit was adding extra cabins (which were not yet in service), this will make a busy ship even busier,is this RCI putting profit before the customer ? There were times when sun beds were scarce and trying to get a drink took forever, so adding more passengers won't help this ratio. We were told that they were trying a new ordering system in the main dining room, service was slow and the waiting staff seem to be struggling with it, surely they should have had more support when trying something new, they suffered and so did we ! On one occasion we all ordered our meals and after a long delay we were told that they had run out of a certain dish that many on our table had ordered, this shouldn't ever happen. On our first night we went to Chops grill a past favourite of ours, this turned into a disaster, we sat down at 7:30 but didn't get our main course until 9:40 we also had to send something back because it was cold, this is a first for us ! Later in the cruise we went to chops for an indian lunch, this was excellent, the chef showed how he cooked all the dishes, we then sat down and tried them all, this was followed by a tour of the galley which we found really interesting and good value. We thought that the food quality in the main dining and the Windjammer overall was much below par, nothing wrong with how it was cooked but the meat quality was poor especially the chicken. The Windjammer seemed to cook the same thing everyday not enough variety. The ship has now got a flow rider, hooray ! how about keeping it open so we can get on it ? most days it was closed between 11 and 5 so opening when were getting ready for dinner and after dinner isn't much use ? Entertainment on the ship was on the whole very good to excellent, I applaud RCI for keeping the music live as it should be. Our cabin was it's usual high standard and we were well looked after by our room steward. Overal we did have a nice time but certain parts of the cruise were spoiling it at times, we just hope that RCI get there act together so we can continue booking with them as our favoured cruise line.They let a ship sail unfinished and tried a new system in the main dining without a plan B which left the passengers annoyed and waiters frustrated, which isn't fair on their guests or crew who have to deal with the complaints . Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Thank you P&O. My husband was a major cruise fan (where I am quite happy by the hotel pool) but he said being on Britannia had put him off ever cruising again. Major delay getting on board meant that we had only just got to our ... Read More
Thank you P&O. My husband was a major cruise fan (where I am quite happy by the hotel pool) but he said being on Britannia had put him off ever cruising again. Major delay getting on board meant that we had only just got to our cabin when we were called to muster drill. service was very slow in the freedom dining room, so we ended up dining earlier than we would wish just so that we could get out in time for the shows, which by the way you needed to be seated at least 1/2 hour in advance because of the low capacity of the theatre/show lounge compared to the high capacity of passengers. The daytime activities were very boring. Daytimes on the ship seemed to be geared towards encouraging passengers to spend money in the spa, casino, or shops as there wasn't much else to do at sea, even the sauna was an additional cost. The shore excursions were over-priced particularly if you wanted to do anything other than the usual (very boring) sightseeing coach tour. The only saving grace is that the prices on Britannia seem lower than what we have paid on other P&O Ships in the past, presumably because you are herded in like cattle. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015

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