153 Rome (Civitavecchia) First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

First Cruise for us , so cant compare. We have been all inclusive Resorts in the past and should have stuck with this. We found the cruise to busy , hectic and extremely expensive . Having only about 10 to 12 hours at each port ... Read More
First Cruise for us , so cant compare. We have been all inclusive Resorts in the past and should have stuck with this. We found the cruise to busy , hectic and extremely expensive . Having only about 10 to 12 hours at each port really does not give you the time to explore, and so excursions are in order , on the boat with Norwegian this will cost you your first born . After joining a tour bus twice at prices from Norwegian our budget was dwindling quickly. Tours were just fine but you are left tired and feeling ripped off , we did. In Naples not willing to spend $320.00 US per person for another tour we decided to check what was available on the pier and found Taxis that offered much the same for a fraction of the cost on board, this you can find in all ports For $280 Euro we ended up with our own minivan and driver , we could have waited for another couple or two to share this with bringing cost down half or to a third as Van could sit 6 but decided that we would do this by ourselves. This day was great , our driver adjusted to what we needed wanted to see and basically told us he was ours for the next 10 hours , Amalfi coast was beautiful , but what a tourist trap lol . Cabin was on deck nine with a balcony and we where surprised with the size of it and the huge amount of closet space . not good was the kitchen exhaust close by and so greasy smell was especially in port very strong and a let down . Food was great on board , bars could not have been better , staff was great . For us this boat was to large and to stand in line for like everything was not in our plans . Deck 15 buffet was packed in the am with no seats unless you wait and jump as soon as someone leaves. Restaurants i found all great and to my surprise most except 2 have no dress code , this worked for me as i did not pack any jackets or dress shirts . Shows were well done and who needs a casino , this was to large by far. Biggest item for me is the fact that i bought a watch on board regular $320.00 US now for $180.00 US , GREAT RIGHT , what a good deal until i came home and find it for 120 Canadian , so BUYER be aware , or simple don't get anything on board. Drink package was a must for us and well worth it , the Martini bar was fantastic , never busy and so was Whisky bar , both on same level with the smoking room and Deck right there . Would i do this Cruise again , i don't think so, i needed a vacation after just to get some sleep , then again sleeping was not an issue on board not after the amount of walking we did . Hope this helps a bit Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This was my first cruise and the only ting I have to compare it to is an all inclusive resort and all the great things my friends have told me about cruising. Let me start by saying this was a 11 day Mediterranean trip to and from Rome. We ... Read More
This was my first cruise and the only ting I have to compare it to is an all inclusive resort and all the great things my friends have told me about cruising. Let me start by saying this was a 11 day Mediterranean trip to and from Rome. We spent 3 days in Rome prior to leaving. Our check in to the ship was smooth until they tried to sell us the Premier drink package which we had but they insisted we didn't so off to Guest relations to straighten that out, which required us to pull up our e-mail and 20 minutes later they decided we had the premier drink package. Our stateroom was great we had a balcony suite that our great attendant Yolanda opened up for the 4 couples we were traveling with, She was amazing and one of the best things this cruise had to offer. As the cruise proceeded we learned that there were 450 children on board out of 3,000 people. The majority of these kids were out of control, they were allowed to run all over the ship, yelling screaming, we observed them using their hands to get Salad, Ice, Bread, cheese, etc. I am sure you get the picture. Thee used the hide away on level 7 for their headquarters, when we asked if there were any rules about kids behaving like this we were told no celebrity has no policies regarding unruly kids or any curfews in place that they have to be with their parents. There also are no adult lounges for adults only. We went to a silent disco one night but all of the head phones were already taken by 3 to 5 year olds with their parents taking pictures of them, I am sure the kids were enjoying the music and dancing that went along with it. Celebrity finally did put one person to follow the kids after they had so many complaints from the passengers, it was an awful experience. Add to that we also learned that Celebrity has capacity for 3,000 passengers and 500 to 600 lounge chairs for passengers around the pool, so yes that means if you want a place to sit get there early or forget it. The only other great thing that we had was Edrich and the dining staff in the Opus dining room, he made every dinner special. Explaining all of the choices and what he thought we would enjoy the best. He was a great server and is one of the only reasons we would think about going back. The last night there we celebrated a birthday in our group that they made extra special and was the highlight of the trip. I would also recommend trying the Opus dining room for the sit down breakfast it is much quieter than the buffet and the service is great. They pretty much serve the same food on the buffet daily not much variety or change in it. You can do a healthy option in the Solarium, or get hot dogs, hamburgers etc on deck 15. We did enjoy all of the ports we visited and getting on and off the ship as easy. Even the tenders went smoothly. We did not use any of the shore excursion but on of our group did and they stated they were not helpful, we also talked to several other people who said the same But never will we travel on this cruise line again, I will try another one in the future with a different line. Also do not travel in August as all of the UK is on vacation. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
I chose this cruise because of the itinerary and it was my first cruise ever. I had pretty low expectations after reading other peoples reviews but I was very happy overall with the entire experience. Here are a few notes: Ship - ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of the itinerary and it was my first cruise ever. I had pretty low expectations after reading other peoples reviews but I was very happy overall with the entire experience. Here are a few notes: Ship - Overall clean but a little dated in style. Pool was kind of small for the amount of people. Cabin - Clean, good size balcony, shower was tiny but I expected that. One day our shower and sink didn't work and when we called all they said was "we are working on it." Luckily it started working within the hour. Dining - Main dining food was average, nothing great. Service was very good, we had Eder who was amazing. We also had Burton and Amal. Amal was nice but Burton was not very friendly. Sometimes we had to wait 15 minutes before being seated even though we had reservations. Windjammer was ok, I only had breakfast there and there were a lot of options. Solarium snacks were pretty good! Chops was nice and so was Izumi. Drink Package - We got 1 drink package for my husband online when the price was $44 a day, although it did drop to $39 a day. He was able to get me drinks as well, as long as he ordered 1 drink per order. Bar service was a little slow, we tipped our servers and got better service from them, James was great! WIFI- don't bother, I personally didn't pay for it but my Aunt did and it was very, very slow! Ports / excursions - we booked all of our excursions through outside companies. They were all amazing and I found them on Trip advisor. The RC excursions are completely over priced and we saved a lot of money that way. I wish they gave us more time in Santorini because we almost didn't make it back to our ship. There was a 2-3 hour line for cable cars and the only other option was walking down 600 steps or taking a Donkey. Be careful if you walk! The Donkey's will run you right over!!!! Entertainment - overall ok, nothing too exciting. The night before our last cruise day we had planned to go to Vortex night club. The day schedule said it was open till 2 am but instead the crew threw a party for crew members only and we were not allowed in. We were pretty annoyed since there was nothing else to do that night and it was the only day we could sleep in. Spa - Overpriced and they tried to up sell me on my facial before even looking at my skin. She didn't do any extractions which is what I originally went in for. After it was done she didn't consult with me or recommend any products. Although it was relaxing, it was a waste of money. Service was good overall, although I was annoyed because everyday they were trying to up sell us on food, drinks, photos and anything else they could come up with. The servers even tried making us book with specialty restaurants when we were in the main dining area eating. I was happy with my first cruise experience and I would do it again but maybe not in the Mediterranean because there is so much to see and so little time. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Let me begin by stating this is my first cruise you may have experienced a better time on this cruise and that is fine. Starting with food the first time I ate in the main dining room my food was bland, cold and not of a quality one would ... Read More
Let me begin by stating this is my first cruise you may have experienced a better time on this cruise and that is fine. Starting with food the first time I ate in the main dining room my food was bland, cold and not of a quality one would expect for a ship with more than a few chefs. I spoke to one of the managers and he a special meal prepared for the next day which was awesome and cooked perfectly. I go back to the Tides dining room the next day and everything was once again lukewarm after that I took all my meal in the casual buffet area upstairs called the Windjammer they had themed nights and the food was much better cooked and the you didn't have to wait forever like you would in the main dining room. On to the cabin it was as I expected and I have no complaints. My room attendant was ok but not extraordinary . Entertainment on ship was lackluster and repetitive unless you were willing to spend hundreds of dollars in the casino or drink yourself into a stupor at the bar there was nothing really to do on sea days. The crew seemed tired and were not as enthusiastic and entertaining as you would expect one to be working on a cruise ship. The ports were fun but do not be fooled into thinking that you have to do a shore excursion for every port many of these places you can just walk and see everything that you need to see mykonos and santorini are two of these places. If walking is not an option the local taxis are pretty informed about the types of places that would appeal to visitors. Everything on the ship in way overpriced and you are nickel and dimed from the first time your feet hit the boat make sure you have everything you need or wait until you get in port and get what you need there. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Since it was my first time in a cruiser, I find it difficult to make a comparison. Our butler Dorothy and our room service Hilda were perfect. They did their best to make us comfortable and to meet our wishes. Other crew members were ... Read More
Since it was my first time in a cruiser, I find it difficult to make a comparison. Our butler Dorothy and our room service Hilda were perfect. They did their best to make us comfortable and to meet our wishes. Other crew members were also friendly and easy to talk to. Two of the 8 restaurants onboard did not meet our expectations and we went only once in each. The other ones were excellent. In one of them we had live music with a very good singer. She performed a tasteful repertoire. Unfortunately, I attended only one of the night shows and it was not what I expected. The singer had a good voice but used a lot of playback, which I found disappointing. When he played with the Silversea Trio, then it was good. All in all, I hope to take one or more cruises with Silversea in the near future! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We are a professional couple, no kids, early forties. We had never been on a cruise before and had no experience in this area of Europe so took the advice of friends who had done this exact cruise before and booked in March 2016. We dove ... Read More
We are a professional couple, no kids, early forties. We had never been on a cruise before and had no experience in this area of Europe so took the advice of friends who had done this exact cruise before and booked in March 2016. We dove into research on the countries, ports, languages, attractions, and cruising in general, which made for a fun six-month wait. The anticipation was a big part of this vacation! Rick Steves' books were a staple of our reading and came with us on the trip. We flew from Toronto to Rome, arriving early in the morning on embarkation day. We had seriously considered taking the train from the airport to the port, but decided that it was just too important piece of the trip (i.e. do we risk screwing up the train schedule in a foreign city and missing our ship?) to leave to chance, so we booked NCC shared transfer. They met us in the airport and we were in the van very quickly. As it turned out, Rome airport is HUGE and we had been up for about 36 hours by that time - we were glad to not be trying to sort out the train and our bags at that point. It was about E70 which was money well spent. We got to Civitavecchia in 45 minutes and again were glad of the transfer. The port is also very large, and not pedestrian friendly at all. NCC transfers dropped us off right at the ship at around 1030 in the morning. We got a look at the ship - spectacular! - before heading into the dark and smelly tents that were the Celebrity port terminal. There is nothing nice about the port or the terminal. We showed our printed-off tickets, completed the medical form, and waited in the holding area for about 20 minutes before being waved over to check-in. We were on-board quickly and easily by 1100 hours or so. First impressions were - well - let's just say that the deck 2 loading area is not a nice part of the ship. It's dark and utilitarian with x-ray machines and beeping scanners. But up one flight of stairs we found the Guest Relations area, with a cello/viola duo playing in the lobby. This was very nice. We found our cabin #6221 still being cleaned, but met our room attendant Jose who was very friendly and personable. He let us dump our carry-ons and we headed up to deck 14 to enjoy some fresh air. We found the Sunset Bar staffed with jolly Jamaicans (one wearing a Santa hat and singing bits of Christmas songs....go figure) and settled down with a drink in the sunshine. "The Upselling" - we had read a lot about the upselling racket on this ship. We had the Classic package included but had pretty much decided we would upgrade to the Premium package at some point. There is lots available on the Classic, particularly if you like simple highballs and Budweiser. We really like martinis, good wine, and craft beer, so when the bartender waved a bottle of Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA at me, I was signing for the Premium package on what was probably that guy's easiest upsell of the week. On the Premium there were lots of excellent wines by the glass, incredible cocktails, but only a few craft beers (the IPA was $11.00 USD so that was the cost of one day of Premium package right there). As you might expect, hot day plus forenoon cocktail plus no sleep plus jet lag equalled fatigue very quickly. We went downstairs to.... The Oceanview Cafe ("The Buffet") - I don't like buffets generally but we were starving and this was the place to grab something fast. There was a large variety, including stations organized by cuisine, such as Mexican, English, Indian, etc. I had some excellent Indian food and my partner found salad and fruit. We ate at the buffet for most breakfasts and the odd afternoon snack and there was nothing bad to be said about it. In the evening it was sad and empty although you could still get a slice of pizza and a few other smaller things until fairly late. The Cabin: 6221 is a veranda cabin, port side on the flat side of the 'hump'. We had a great view from the veranda and only overlooked part of deck 5. The cabin could have accommadated four people as there was a trundle bed under the couch and a berth that could have swung down from the ceiling but I really can't imagine four people in there. It was a decent size for two and I was pleasantly surprised at the bathroom - there was lots of storage in there and a good shower. There was zero room for two so brushing teeth was a 'my turn - your turn' affair. The cabin was very clean and storage was OK, after we got our suitcases under the bed out of the way. Jose brought us extra hangers, a body pillow, and anything else we needed. One night, I asked him for a shoe shine cloth and came back to the room to find he had polished my shoes....wow. This is butler-level service. The cabin was very quiet, even being next to the elevators and the iLounge. We quickly found this cabin was perfect for us as it was steps from the elevators and stairs, one deck from lounges and restaurants, two decks to the Martini bar and shopping, and very close to the Grand Foyer where most of the nighttime activity was. My only complaint was people who insisted on letting their cabin doors slam. They are steel safety doors and if you let them close, they slam with a "thunk", which can be a drag at 0630 hours. CLOSE YOUR DOOR GENTLY, PEOPLE, PLEASE!! Dining: we love to eat and drink. We had bought the five-dinner package beforehand and had to visit a headwaiter to book our dinners once onboard. Overall we were very happy with the dining options: Opus: we had Select dining so on the few nights we ate there, we just showed up. It is a huge room and quite elegant. Once we had to take a pager and go drink another martini while we waited....oh no, how will we cope. The menu at Opus was small but we always had good food. The service was good but almost a little too much at times. When you sat down there'd be probably four people buzzing around filling water, serving bread, making introductions, and so on, but after the initial flurry you might have trouble finding someone available to tell about your chipped wine glass. One night we were seated next to the waiter station, which was loud. We asked to be moved and immediately had a quiet table for two in another area. Very appreciated. We never sat with anyone else but tables for two were about 2" apart so it was much like a table for four. Keeping in mind that the Opus kitchen was turning out three-course meals for hundreds and hundreds of people, the food was very good. There was different house wines featured every night and the somm would be opening bottles constantly. No bag-in-box wine here. Lawn Club: we ate there our first night. On a warm evening it is really nice, next to the (real) lawn and the huge X on the funnel overhead. Somewhat oddly, the "appetizers" were flatbread pizzas.....with the mains a selection of grilled meat. You could cook your own if you wanted to and there was a nice little salad station. The pizza was very good but it was too much for a starter. The grilled items were very good and ranged from skewers to fish fillets to steaks. There were heaters for when the night cooled off, which it did fairly early. It was a fun, casual place for dinner outside. Tuscan: this is an Italian a la carte grille with a panoramic view aft. The pasta was made on-site and was incredible. Steak was probably some of the best I've had anywhere. Service was second to none. Ignatius knew his service and his wines - we let him choose wines for us to suit the courses and they were spot-on. A fabulous experience. So fabulous we bought another night there and had another terrific meal. Murano: French cuisine. You could spend a lot of money here, with wine and food flights, $300 caviar, and so on. It was the most formal of all the venues. The food was extremely good and the service was too. The staff were obviously working very hard to keep a high standard. It was not full either night we were there. Tableside service was a nice touch and they really took pride in their work. My only complaint was with the flambe-ing and such going on, the room got a little stuffy and you would want to be wearing a jacket and tie for this place (although you didn't have to - I think dress code was the same for all venues in the evening). Sushi on Five: I'm not a huge sushi fan but my partner is and she thought it was very good. There were noodle bowls as well, along with gyoza and other items so not just sushi. It was notably empty whenever we walked by. Service was enthusiastic and it was a nice change from the other dining options. Qsine: I didn't expect to like this but I did. It is tapas, with some really inventive presentations and some fabulous food. Very unique and we had a great time here. Martini Bar: our favourite, with a frosted-ice bar top and very skilled bartenders. The martinis are very large and very well-made. There was a second bar, I think called the 'Ice Bar' off to the side, which apparently used to be a bar proper with it's own menu (there were many bottles of vodka sitting in piles of ice) but it appeared to be forgotten about and was just another seating area for the Martini bar. After dinner, they set up a DJ station right next to the bar, which seemed a bit out of place, but later the DJ station disappeared and the live house band started up a deck below. One night I asked for a Courvoisier and got a snifter the size of a basketball with about half a bottle of cognac inside.....fabulous. Ensemble Lounge: another favourite, with live jazz through the evening. Very good table and bar service and a relaxed atmosphere. Tuscan, Qsine, Murano, and Michaels Club were accessed via this lounge. World Class Bar: this used to be a different bar called the Molecular Bar where they made cocktails with liquid nitrogen and so on.....no longer. It is now an ordinary bar with a limited menu of excellent cocktails (if you order an Old Fashioned, they carve a single baseball-size ice cube for you) but they don't serve anything else, so anybody popping by for a gin/tonic had to keep walking. Not sure how successful this model is. Sunset Bar: as mentioned, great if you want to relax up high and watch the ocean recede. It is also a smoking area. We enjoyed walking shoeless on the grass and sipping a frozen drink. Passport Bar: a straightforward bar on deck 3. Cafe El Bacio: a coffee bar with some pastries and cookies. I went here every morning for lattes and brought them up to the cabin. There was also a gelato bar which we never tried. Upselling to specialty restaurants: We didn't mind this as we got some good deals. Tuscan for 40% off? Yes please. One night we looked at the menu for Opus and weren't all that excited about it. Turn around and here's somebody offering a great deal at Murano. Everybody wins. If we weren't interested they took 'no thanks' for an answer, unlike all of Turkey and much of Greece..... Other areas: Casino: appeared to be very under-used. We never spent any time here. Sun decks - we did not enter any of the pools but spent lots of time reading in the sun. I read complaints that there aren't enough sunbeds....well, maybe if you want a sunbed right next to the pool, directly in the sun, there's a limited number. There are tons of sunbeds on two decks. We enjoyed deck 15 which was very quiet (aside from when people were playing basketball). The Mast Grille had hotdogs, hamburgers, and fries, which was perfect for a mid-afternoon snack. Service was limited away from the lido deck but if a server knew you were there, they would come around and keep your glass full. Fitness Centre and Spa: We worked out nearly every day and found the fitness centre surprisingly good. My favourite was stretching out on the outdoor fitness deck, which overlooked the bow of the ship with a great view. There were cold towels and enough good quality equipment to get in a workout and feel like I was earning my next meal. My partner had her nails done in the Spa and was very happy with them - not cheap but high quality work. Solarium: we enjoyed this as kids aren't allowed and you can soak up the sun without the wind. The Aquaspa cafe had some really nice healthy, smaller items, including smoothies. Library: this was disappointing. I had hoped to find books on Europe, our ports of call, the ocean, and sailing, but instead found a bunch of mostly lightweight fiction. Plus there are only books on the first three shelves, then a bunch of empty shelves, then three shelves of fake books at the very top. It was quiet if there was nothing going on in the Grand Atrium. Entertainment: we hadn't expected to care for the shows but some were very good. The theatre was top-notch. The Tenors of Rock were terrific. There were several singing acts, including a Michael Buble - esque guy and a female Motown trio. One night they had thrown together a Broadway revue because the scheduled performer had missed his flight, which was very good. The ship's musicians were really incredible. They were all over the place, playing in the theatre backing up the featured acts, playing everything from top-40 to Beatles in the Grand Atrium, playing jazz in the Ensemble lounge, disco by the pool, strings in the Cafe el Bacio. One night, the bandmaster (Sasha), after leading his group through the show in the theatre, sat down at the piano next to the Passport Bar and effortlessly performed Chopin and Beethoven. Wow. The cruise director Maarten was around for the high-energy stuff and he was hard not to like, although we didn't take part in any of the parlour/pool games. Shopping: we enjoyed browsing in the shops. The second last night was a big sale and you've never seen such a feeding frenzy. I love watches and had a blast browsing the Breitlings and Tag Heuers. Washrooms: spotless and staffed in the evening. Hand sanitizer everywhere. Excellent. Photography: We let them take photographs if there was a good backdrop but wanted nothing to do with the costumed guys off the gangway at the ports....we are in Turkey, so you make some guy (probably a prep cook) wear a turban and a silly sword and want us to pose with him? Give me a break. On the last formal night we asked the photographer for some specific poses as we had gotten engaged that afternoon, and they were very enthusiastic and helpful. We ended up buying three of them as our official engagement photos. Excursions: we didn't take any Celebrity excursions. We researched and booked tours for Athens and Ephesus, and conducted our own sightseeing for the other ports. Generally, getting on and off the ship was painless, with the exception of Santorini where we had to tender in some quite active seas (see port review below). We erred generously on the side of leaving lots of time to get back on the ship and had no problems. We found running the gauntlet of local taxis, tours, hawkers, and so on very tiring but that's not the ship's fault. The information given about the ports in the little daily newsletter was very limited - we were grateful for our Rick Steves guides and prior research. Highs and lows: there's an odd thing that happens when everything is at a high standard. Little things become big things because they are an anomaly. But they are still small things. Here's a few we noticed: High: the ship is beautiful. Low: they used this plastic dark reddish-brown fake wood paneling all over the place. High: there was daily news and port info delivered to your cabin. Low: very little weather forecast information, either for the port or the ocean. High: food was very very good. Low: no bar snacks. After dinner, your only snack option was to see what was left at the buffet. High: bar and wine service was excellent. Low: lack of drink lists. High: the buffet was a great way to have quick breakfast. Low: no tray, so you have your plate in one hand, cutlery in your pocket, juggling everything to get a cup of coffee, and if you wanted a juice or water, you had to dump everything off and go back. High: people dressed up for dinner. Nothing classier than old-timers in tuxes. Low: sweaty guy in flip flops with shirt totally unbuttoned, elbowing past people at the buffet to get more bacon. High: presentations on ports of call and other areas of interest. Low: barely-disguised sales pitches for whatever services or businesses paid Celebrity for the privilege. "You may not be interested in buying a Turkish rug but at least take the time to listen to what they have to say" -Celebrity staff member giving a presentation on what to do in Turkey. Again, give me a break. If you're promoting a business, go ahead, but don't pretend you're giving objective information to people who might be expecting it when you are not. Ship movement: we were concerned about this as my partner gets motion sickness easily. There was one day and night that we could really feel the ship moving (I'm not sure how the performers on stage managed it as I could barely walk to my seat without holding on to something) but ginger gel capsules were the ticket. My partner had all kinds of remedies but nothing beat the ginger. One evening we could feel a fair bit of vibration in the Tuscan, but generally it was a non-issue. Disembarkation: we opted to 'walk off' so kept our luggage and were in an elevator by 0645 and in our NCC transfer by 0700. Nothing to it. Again, we had thought about taking the train but had learned there was a transit (bus and train) strike scheduled for that day. As it turned out, we may have been been able to get from Civitavecchia into Rome, but the strike did in fact happen as scheduled so we were glad to be in a vehicle. The best money we spent were those two transfers. I'm rating four stars but it is a solid four stars. There is probably a nicer ship with better food and service out there but probably not at this price point. Overall we were thrilled with our first cruise and will absolutely do another. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was our very first ever cruise and overall, we really enjoyed it. My partner and I booked this cruise to celebrate my partner being promoted in his career after several years of being on a long and arduous training course. We had been ... Read More
This was our very first ever cruise and overall, we really enjoyed it. My partner and I booked this cruise to celebrate my partner being promoted in his career after several years of being on a long and arduous training course. We had been recommended to do a Celebrity cruise a few years ago and my parents and sister recently went on a P&O cruise and were raving about how much they enjoyed it, plus, we couldn't decide on a holiday destination this year. Hence, why we decided that we should do a cruise holiday as we could visit many places, experience many different cultures whilst enjoying the excellent facilities that cruising has to offer. As a younger gay couple in our late twenties, we were worried that being on a cruise would not be our thing as we had read many reviews on here about how the Celebrity Constellation was mainly full of older citizens and with activities more suited to those of that of an older age group. However, this couldn't be more far removed from the truth. We found many people from all different age ranges and we felt quite at ease with being on the ship. The original concern may be true if you go outside of the school holidays but we didn't find this with us going in August. At the same time, you don't need to worry about there being lots of children on-board with going in the middle of August. Part of the reason we booked the cruise with Celebrity was because we wanted to have a holiday with as few children around as possible. We thought many children/families that would do cruising, would go with Celebrity's sister company, Royal Caribbean. This was true. Don't get me wrong, there were families with small children on-board but most families had teenage children. Additionally, the Celebrity Constellation is a gay friendly ship and there were several events that the ship arranged that the LGBT community could attend. Many of the guests too that were on-board the ship were well travelled and were fairly open minded and so being a gay couple did not phase them and we became good friends with several couples. We set sail from Rome (Civitavecchia) which meant we had to fly out to Rome. Transfers and everything was already sorted out before and this was well organised and there was no fuss. At the airport, Celebrity representatives were there ready to assist to your need and were very friendly and supportive. If I was to be picky about anything, it would have been nice if Celebrity themselves collected the luggage for us at the airport and then delivered it straight to our rooms on-board the ship. There were several times where we had to collect/drop our bags, on/off the coach and deposit them before embarking the ship, which wasn’t a problem really. However, with this being Celebrity and them advertising that they want to make you feel like a celebrity, I thought that the company really missed a trick here. Furthermore, I was disappointed that they didn’t do this as I knew that when my parents and my sister and her husband went on their cruise with P&O, they dropped off their bags at check-in at the airport in England and the next time they were reunited with them was in their cabins. However, as I said, this is only a minor, picky point. Otherwise, embarkation went smoothly and without a hitch. When we first arrived on the ship, we were quite pleased to see that it wasn’t as dilapidated as many reviewers had made it out to be. It was lovely and clean and everything had its place. Both my partner and I were quite a gasp at how wonderful and beautiful it was inside. We were very impressed. We were greeted with champagne and other refreshments and it all had a lovely atmosphere to it, one that still resonates with me today as it was so welcoming. Due to our room being cleaned, we could not go into our cabin straightaway. Nevertheless, because we had travelled for about 12 hours and because it was nearing lunchtime, we decided to go and have something to eat at the buffet. Because we had heard about the fantastic pizza on-board, our instinct was to try that first. It wasn’t the greatest pizza I have had but it was by no means the worst. We were both expecting a lot worse in actual fact considering that it was a buffet. We then continued to see what other delights the buffet had to offer. We weren’t holding our breath but we were both pleasantly astounded by the variety of types of food that they offered and at how good it tasted. There was everything from fish to meats (cold and hot), cheeses, pasta, Chinese food, curry, sushi, just lots of food. It was a sight for the eyes! On most days, we enjoyed the food from the buffet and we tended to have our late lunches in there and most dishes were scrumptious. What was really good about it too was that each day, when we stopped at a different port of call, there would be a stand which served delicacies from that region/country and we both enjoyed this touch as the main dining room (San Marco) did not offer this opportunity. After our lunch, we proceeded to our cabin. We opted for an Oceanview Stateroom and we weren’t disappointed as our cabin had a massive port-hole that was practically floor to ceiling in height. This was a lovely touch as I was expecting quite a small window. However, we were situated in one of the cabins towards to the aft of the ship that had been converted from social space in the last overhaul. I’m aware that not all Oceanview staterooms are like this and so some research is needed if you wish for a cabin with a similar window. The cabin itself was quite spacious and a lot bigger than we were expecting, with plenty of storage facilities. We were both quite impressed at how much storage Celebrity had managed to work in. There was even room for your traditional safe and mini-bar fridge with additional storage space above them! The bathroom was small considering at how big the rest of the room was but even then, Celebrity managed to incorporate lots of storage solutions into the bathroom so it never felt tiny or ‘full of stuff’. Again, many people complained that the shower cubicle was too small but we didn’t find this. I am quite a big guy but I managed to fit in there perfectly with ample room to move about. I would say that it was roughly the same size as most UK showers. Shower pressure was good even when the ship was stationary but the water seemed a little ‘too’ treated and made my skin feel unnaturally smooth and shiny. Nevertheless, the best part of our cabin was the bed. Originally, I was concerned as we were told that the bed was a Queen’s size, which is just a bit larger than a single bed in Britain. However, I completely forgot, American ship, American sizes. Hence, the bed was much larger than I had anticipated and was in fact bigger than my King size bed at home. I had so much room in the bed that I couldn’t tap my partner on the shoulder goodnight, even with my arm stretched out. It was divine! What made it even better though was the fact that the bed was the most perfect bed we had both ever slept on. I cannot begin to describe how comfy the bed was. It was firm but squish-able, soft but supportive. It was just amazing! We liked the mattress so much that after the cruise we tried to buy one as we knew you could buy them but to no avail as they’re only available in America. To top it all off, we were greeted with an excellent turn-down service every night with chocolates on our pillows. Dining on the ship was excellent! We never had a bad meal on the ship, whether that was in the main dining room, The Grill by the pool deck, the speciality restaurants or the buffets. All over exceeded our expectations. We ate in the main dinning room most evenings and I can only compare the food to meals served in gastro pubs back in Britain. Very tasty, great flavours, well prepared and fantastic presentation. Every evening the menu changed and there was always something that everyone could have, whether you were a vegetarian, a vegan or even someone who was gluten intolerant. However, there was a part of the menu which remained the same each day and had many classics on there like French Onion Soup, and Grilled New York Sirloin Steak. Hence, there were safe options if you didn’t particularly enjoy that evenings selection. Portion sizes were a bit on the small side but this wasn’t a problem as we generally asked for more and over the course of the holiday, our waiter, Savio, would know exactly how much to bring out to us. Only negative about the main dining room was at breakfast time when a different waiter tried to sit us on a table for six even though we requested a table for two. He said that we could not make that request in the mornings as tables were reserved, which we knew was a lie as we had most of our breakfasts in the main dining room. We did say to the waiter about this and he said that was not true, to which we replied that we didn’t wish to eat there that morning, and we walked off. Luckily, Savio walked past us and questioned why we were going so quickly, when we explained the situation, Savio sorted out the problem for us and sat us on a table for two and couldn’t apologise enough for the rudeness of his colleague. We did go and eat in Ocean Liners (a speciality restaurant) one evening and were very happy with the service and food. We both had the chateaubriand which was exquisitely cooked and so tender that it just melted away in your mouth. My partner and I both agreed that it was a fabulous experience and we’d do it again but at the same time, we didn’t feel that we were missing out on anything either as the food was just as good in the main dining room. The only difference really was that you can tell that Celebrity had thought about the more minor touches that can really bring out the difference, like the presentation of the butter in different shapes, how drinks were presented and how your food was served to you by the waiter. Service on the ship was very good overall. The main dining room, buffet, house cleaning and bar staff were excellent and I could not fault them. They were always very happy to help, friendly and really took their time to get to know you, your tastes and just made you feel like a CELEBRITY! As I’ve said, our Head Waiter, Savio, was excellent and knew exactly what we liked (and how much of it). He really took care of us. Our drinks lady was fantastic at suggesting different cocktails that we would like to try and we built such a great rapport with her too. Our sommelier (Richard) too was very friendly and could pin-point exactly each night what I would like to drink and when. Our other waiter, Alex, was just as good and we really had a good laugh with them all. They are all a credit to the ship and the company and should be given extra special credit. They all went out of their way to keep us feeling like celebrities. Our room/cleaning staff were just as exceptional. I’m a bit of clean freak and so I would check if under the beds had been cleaned and new linen placed on the bed for example. Everything was perfect! Not a dirty mark in sight! Point for improvement though, it would have been nice if the outside of the port-hole would have been cleaned at least once on our journey as after each voyage, there was a greater build-up of sea salt on the window, which was making it harder to see out of towards the end of our cruise. However, this is probably not a house keeping staff chore. Nevertheless, our room attendant Winston was also phenomenal at making us feel like a celebrity. He knew that I didn’t like dark chocolate and so he would go out of his way every day to make sure I had milk chocolate on my pillows instead. He was also very polite and would always greet us with a happy smiley face if we ever saw him on the corridors. However, there were two negative points that we both felt quite disgruntled with in regards to the service. First being one of the photographers. On the more formal evening, we asked a photographer (can’t remember his name) if he could take our photo. In a rude manner, he turned around to us and said that he was closing at 10pm and so couldn’t do another shoot. My partner then replied back to him saying that it was only 9:30pm to which the photographer snapped, I’M CLOSED! This really spoilt our holiday and made us feel quite angry. On another occasion, we proceeded again to approach this fellow to ask to take our photo, thinking he was having a bad day, to which he completely blanked us. This made our blood boil and we made a formal complaint about him when the cruise survey came around. The other negative was that I had planned to get engaged on-board the ship as we were sailing in to Venice. Several days before I made the proposal, I asked Guest Relations if they could do anything for me to make the moment memorable and special. I had asked if me and my partner could go on the helipad briefly so that I could do the engagement at the front of the ship. At the start of the cruise, I had seen some other guests on there, having a tour around, hence why I didn’t think it would be too much of a problem. The reply I got was not very helpful. I was told that due to health and safety, they couldn’t do this, even though I had told her about seeing others on the helipad previously. I then proceeded to ask her if it was possible to hire out a couple of the musicians to come and play out on the top deck towards the aft of the ship. I said that I was more than willing to pay for them. Again, her reply was that she couldn’t do this. Therefore, I replied to her, what could she/the company do to make this a memorable experience. Her reply was that I could go towards the back of the ship, on the top deck and do it there. Again, I repeated if there was anything else they could to add to that experience to which she replied, no. To say I wasn’t very impressed was an understatement and so if you’re thinking of doing something extra special for a loved one, or planning a special surprise, don’t do it with Celebrity as they didn’t make me or the occasion feel as special as it could be. There was lots of entertainment and activities to do throughout the duration of the cruise and we didn’t get bored. You could get as involved or as little involved as you wanted and their very helpful Celebrity Daily magazine, let you keep up-to-date of the different activities that you could do during the following day. I think it would have been fantastic if the Constellation had a cinema on the ship like they do on P&O and Princess. Like this, I could have caught up on some good movies. They did hold open air cinema nights but one of them was cancelled due to poor weather and the other was of Jungle Book, which I wasn’t fussed about seeing. Shows that were put on by house staff were quite bizarre and were not up to the ‘Broadway standard’. Costumes, lighting, backdrops, acrobatic aerialists were all very good, but the singers were mediocre with only one fabulous female singer. Dancers were sometimes out of time and lacked sharpness and precision, which I thought was disappointing, considering Celebrity touted their shows as being of a ‘Broadway standard’. I was expecting dancers with the professionalism of Strictly Come Dancing but instead was given something very different. However, the shows were passable and were good at a basic level of entertainment value. We didn’t do any shore excursions with them. We did have one booked with them before the cruise, which was to go up to Mount Etna and experience the craters but this was cancelled two months before the cruise with no reason given. We did try and book another one whilst on the cruise that appeared quite similar to the one we originally booked but we refused to pay the price of $370pp when originally, the itinerary we booked would have only cost us $150pp. Nevertheless, there were lots of lovely excursions that you could have booked whilst on the ship so long as you were willing to part with a hefty lump sum of money. My best advice on getting good value for money and going to see some fantastic places is doing some research before you leave on your ports of call so that you know what it is that you want to see and how you are going to get there. It does take a bit of time planning it beforehand but it makes such a difference when you’re actually on holiday as it makes it stress free and doesn’t waste any of your precious holiday time. Additionally, Celebrity were very good at providing shuttle coaches (at a small fee) if ports were quite a distance from the main city and I would recommend these and they are well organised with very little wait time. In summary, overall a very good cruise with very good staff, a beautiful ship with luscious interiors, food and beverages, with some fantastic ports of call. Apart from those irritating moments which I mentioned previously, it was lovely relaxing holiday that we both thoroughly enjoyed and were quite upset when it all came to an end. I would definitely recommend Celebrity to anyone, even with those negatives as generally, the experience proved a relaxing and re-energising holiday where most of your needs are met and you are mostly made to feel like a celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
our first cruise and we couldn't have chosen a better ship to experience it. The quality of the staff, the cleanliness which was second to none and the attention to detail onboard was astonishing. We had nothing to compare it to ... Read More
our first cruise and we couldn't have chosen a better ship to experience it. The quality of the staff, the cleanliness which was second to none and the attention to detail onboard was astonishing. We had nothing to compare it to never having sailed before, but have stayed in plenty of high end hotels around the world. This surpassed all of them. We chose a balcony suite on the 9th floor midship which after some research I learned was the best place to be to avoid too much motion. We never experienced anything but a very slight rocking motion when the ship increased speed overnight on one occasion. Hardly worth a mention to be fair. The staff all over the ship are outstanding in every single way. Could only fault one sour faced waitress in the main dining room who was curt and verged on being rude. After a complaint was made about her we never saw her at our table again and were presented with a lovely bottle of wine. They couldn't apologise enough. The food, although not Michelin level, was very nice on all the nights we ate at Opus, the main dining room. A couple of exceptions when it was just ok. We used two speciality restaurants Murano and Lawn Grill. The food and service in Murano is fantastic (maybe a bit too interactive for my liking, but good nonetheless). Fabulous lobster. Lawn Grill had the best fillet steak I have ever eaten. I didn't particularly like drinking my water out of a jam jar but hey ho! I had to ask for a stemmed wine glass when initially my red wine was poured into a tumbler. It's a very laid back environment and I think this diversion from proper drinking glasses was a step too far. However that's my only grumble. The service was excellent and the steaks amazing. We had the classic drinks package and don't let it worry you if you're concerned about what you can drink. If your waiters don't ask you what package you're on when you order (which mostly they do), just ask them what wine, spirits etc your card entitles you to. There was never an issue with us. I don't see the need for the premium package if i'm honest. There is so much choice on the classic. Excursions provided by the ship were very expensive and we only did one to the Godfather village in Sicily but it was excellent. The dress code is very casual and even the classy chic (formal) nights were do what you like style. Some people were dolled up to the nines others not so much, but nobody cared or took any notice of who was wearing what. I like the lack of informality. Security onboard is very strict which was very reassuring. Getting off and on again was very quick, efficient and super secure. Overall this ship is amazing on every level and I simply can't wait to go on it again! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This was our first ever cruise, so we were stepping in to the unknown , but we asked advice from friends who were experienced cruisers, we had a mind of where we wanted to go and went to a recommended agent who gave us options, not only in ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise, so we were stepping in to the unknown , but we asked advice from friends who were experienced cruisers, we had a mind of where we wanted to go and went to a recommended agent who gave us options, not only in destinations but cruise companies. we were told that CELEBRITY was highly thought of and that in there words was " the best food on the seas" After our trip we can confirm that the quality was excellent and we would find it difficult to improve on at any restaurant that i'd ever been to. Everything about the ship was of high quality entertainment, service and facilities. the only regret in hindsight was that many of the destinations we had been to before, so we didnt do the trips, but that was our fault. All in all we were very pleased, if we were nit picking then the support and care at the end didnt match up to the arrival, so left us a bit grumpy. Also we were mis led re the drinks package, but again that was the agents fault. I will give you some advice please make it a lot clearer to what you are entitled on drinks as i was refused one brand of whisky in one bar yet it was available in another Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We chose celebrity because my partner who is an elite member with Royal Carribbean had always been given the impression that this sister company offered a higher standard cruise. The ship was very clean and the itinerary was good. ... Read More
We chose celebrity because my partner who is an elite member with Royal Carribbean had always been given the impression that this sister company offered a higher standard cruise. The ship was very clean and the itinerary was good. Embarkation and disembarkation were both easy. These were the positives I am afraid to say other aspects of the cruise were not so good. The food especially for diner was at best average, little actual variety and mostly bland. The starters mainly consisted of soups and salads, and it was amazing how many New York steaks were ordered. I found it very disappointing that when I pointed this out to the executive chef, his only reply was" we have to cater for all tastes" and even when he was shown his own menu denied the starters were mostly soup and salad. I found him to be very arrogant and lazy. My impression was that there was a big drive to sell people the expensive fine dining option. The entertainment was not great either, with the exception of We3. Who ever put the programme together seemed intent on educating us with what I would describe as arty shows. If you are putting on a Broadway show I would expect songs I know and some glamour and glitz, not songs from obscure off Broadway shows and singers glad in black. The pool bars were also disappointing, no music no atmosphere and miserable staff. I have to say one of the barmen on the pool deck is lucky my partner did not complain about the way he just blatantly ignored her and then told another passenger that he didn't smile as he had "a poker face".... Wrong job I think! The Martini bar was the one shining light, the staff were all fantastic,especially I Komang who made the best cosmopolitan ever. All in all this was a nice ship, with many friendly staff and a good itinerary let down by at best, average food, poor entertainment and poor pool side bar staff. We had already booked for a cruise with celebrity through the Suez Canal in November, I hope the experience is much better, but based on this cruise I would not have booked that trip knowing what I know now. I would love celebrity to pull its socks up so I could write them a glowing review next time Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
My partner and I had never thought of a cruise holiday before. We saw an advert in our travel agents window advertising the 11 day cruise on the Celebrity Reflection and chose it because it visited most of the places we had previously been ... Read More
My partner and I had never thought of a cruise holiday before. We saw an advert in our travel agents window advertising the 11 day cruise on the Celebrity Reflection and chose it because it visited most of the places we had previously been on holiday too. We researched the ship through YouTube videos so had a pretty good idea of what the ship was like, including the AquaClass cabin. My partner's niece and her husband has decided to join us. We flew local, from Birmingham to Rome. We were too late to join the optional tour into the city before embarking so transferred straight away. Believe it or not, the only niggle I can mention from the whole holiday, Yep, the whole holiday was the chaos that construed when we tried to hand over our luggage to the Reflection crew at the airport. It was just a free for all and had no organisation whatsever. The transfer into the ship was smooth and fairly quick. It was the most amazing sight to see this magnificent ship close up! We started feeling the first tingle of excitement as we walked up the gangway into the ship. We were able to go straight up to our cabin, 1506 on the starboard side. Our fellow travellers were in 1505 on the port side. After settling in we went on a wander to discover what this magnificent vessel had to offer. Phew! Just getting round the ship was a major fitness session! But plenty of lifts zipped you up and down the decks in no time. Being in AquaClass gave us certain extra perks. Not many but a few. One of them was the dining option. There are several speciality restaurants on the ship. One of which is Blue, which is reserved exclusively for AquaClass passengers. The restaurant looked amazing and the menu looked exciting. First night dining was very good. Second night in Blu was reasonably OK but not great. It is very intimate and I mean intimate. It's small and everyone is sitting next to one another. It wasn't until we decided to try the main restaurant, Opus, that we found the perfect combination of setting, style, perfect food, service and happy staff that we switched to this restaurant for the remainder of the trip.A few nights later, the maitre'd asked us when we arrived for dinner why we were not going to Blu anymore! He was obviously pleased when we told him the reason why. We had our own table reserved every evening on the balcony of the restaurant. With the same team which looked after us who were Marvin, Vanya and Anya. Three delightful people who it was a pleasure to meet. We occasionally used to Ocean View Café but it became a bit too manic for us at times and we just used it for the odd beverage. The ship has various bars, coffee shops etc. The place to be was the Café Al Bacio, a lovely café to have afternoon tea and listen to the live music in the foyer the Ensemble Lounge with some great jazz groups, the Sunset Bar, the AquaSpa cafe which had amazing salads and health food along with a huge range of smoothies and juices and for entertainment the Reflection Theatre which was huge and had some good shows as well as visiting entertainers.There are numerous activities on board. We didn't actually get involved in any of the activities as were too busy doing other things but there is a fair choice. Service. Suffice to say that this ship lives up to all the stories you hear about it. The service is phenomenal. From the cabin staff (and in our particular case we have to mention Sunil who organised our cabin and dealt with our need with perfection) to the cleaning staff who were always out in force and it certainly showed in the standard of cleanliness right throughout the ship to the restaurant staff in Opus to any crew member who happened to be walking about and took time to chat. to the cruise director of entertainment, Richard Starkey who worked tirelessly every day and night to make sure people had a good time. We went on two paid excursion, one to Santorini and the other to Naples/Sorrento/Pompeii. We had been to these places before but our companions hadn't and it was nice to see how impressed they were with the organisation. There was one incident on the trip to Santorini. We had been to Oia and were on our way to a winery for a tasting and food when the bus broke down and no attempt could get it going again. It was an extremely hot day, middle of the afternoon and it looked as though we were stuck for the duration! The guide was brilliant in dealing with his passengers, some, I hasten to add personally and verbally abused him saying it was his fault. It's unbelievable human nature sometimes. One or two stormed off to get a taxi to get back to the cable car. All I can say is that this is where the British patience and good sense prevails. Which is more than can be said for some Americans. The problem was solved shortly after when another tour buss offered us a lift to the cable car. The port visits were brilliant to watch as our cabin was right next to where the captain steered the ship. We'll never forget the sunrise docking at Mykonos at 6am and watching it coming up from our balcony. The ports of call are some of the best. The only time we had to use a tender was at Santorni. Just a tip. If you disembark at Mykonos for a visit on your own, don't bother to join the long queues for the bus. Just hop onto the water taxi next to the bus and you are in the harbour at Mykonos in no time. For just 2 euros return it was really worth it. We all had a fabulous 11 days on this ship and it dispelled all my prejudices about going on a hugh cruise ship. Believe me, sometimes you just don't know you are on one. We were glad that there were at least two formal nights which gave us the chance to wear our dinner suits. There were a predominate number of passengers who made the effort. I would say that the average age of passengers on our trip was between 50 to 70 and it was brilliant to see everybody having a good time. Disembarkation was quick and easy and in time we were at Rome airport and on the way home. Would we go again? We most certainly would! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was our first ocean cruise and we couldn't have picked a more beautiful ship! Not a speck of dust, a fingerprint, a scuff mark, nor any dirty spot either inside or out! Room was very comfortable and we had a balcony as do all ... Read More
This was our first ocean cruise and we couldn't have picked a more beautiful ship! Not a speck of dust, a fingerprint, a scuff mark, nor any dirty spot either inside or out! Room was very comfortable and we had a balcony as do all the staterooms on this ship. "Classy" was the term used by many travelers. The seasoned travelers all agreed that this was the best ship on which they had ever traveled. Food was amazing and I know I gained 6-7 pounds! The quality of the food was the best and everything was fresh. One of the Maitre d's told me that they never hold anything longer than three hours. Be sure to have the made-from-scratch sticky buns and cinnamon doughnuts made on alternate days! YUM! On board entertainment was wonderful: string quartet, opera, piano, singers in night club, etc. No climbing walls, no ice skating rink, no gambling, no water slides, etc. so this might not be the best choice for children. My biggest disappointment was not in the ship at all but the near lack of free time in ports with only 20-30 minutes at the destinations. Most of the tour guides were very good except for the one we had in Barcelona. (Do not take the panoramic tour of Barcelona!) Naples is a port that could be skipped as far as many were concerned as it was very shabby and buildings were falling apart with rubble and trash in the streets. Even the best part of town ("where movie stars and football players live") was very shabby. Better to have been shuttled over to Capri. One of the most memorable stops was in Valencia, Spain, where we were taken to the Market on our tour. This place must have been as big as a football field inside and had the biggest, most beautiful, blemish-free fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, etc. If I lived anywhere in Spain, it would have to be near this market. Fabulous! While we are not seasoned ocean travelers, the "rough" seas we had were enough for us to decide to stick to river cruising. Other travelers thought it was nothing and even the captain told us in a private conversation that it was next to nothing and that the ship could handle ten times that. We will leave it to others to enjoy ocean cruising. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
i have been on approx 30 holidays ,spain ,cyprus ,morocco ,france , this was my first cruise ,and i have just returned from ,the best experience of my life ,so much ,to see and do ,on our short cruise ,i am booking same now very soon , ... Read More
i have been on approx 30 holidays ,spain ,cyprus ,morocco ,france , this was my first cruise ,and i have just returned from ,the best experience of my life ,so much ,to see and do ,on our short cruise ,i am booking same now very soon , the staff were the best i have ever witnessed ,anywhere , the food was excellent .and the destinations ,were unreal ,my friends ,could not believe ,i was in rome ,liverno,majorca ,caannes ,and barcelona ,in such a short break , the entertainment was excellent .great comedians ,shows ,etc thank you norwegian cruises, Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
My wife and I set sail on the NCL Epic from Rome on 25 November on a four night mini cruise to Barcelona and we thoroughly enjoyed every minute if it. Embarkation in Rome at 12.30 was quick and easy and as soon as we got on the ship we ... Read More
My wife and I set sail on the NCL Epic from Rome on 25 November on a four night mini cruise to Barcelona and we thoroughly enjoyed every minute if it. Embarkation in Rome at 12.30 was quick and easy and as soon as we got on the ship we went to the Garden Buffet for a nice quick and easy lunch. Our cabin (12044) was available at around 14.00 and we were surprised by how much room we had. We had booked an all inclusive package which included 20 photos each, 250 minutes Wi-Fi each, chocolate covered strawberries, 12 bottles of water and a bottle of wine each and these were all in our cabin waiting for us (or details of how to claim them) when we arrived. We had also paid for the ultimate dining and beverage packages so we ate in Cagneys steakhouse (twice) and the Teppanyaki (once). We also ate in O'Sheehans on one night as we didn't fancy fine dining that night. Cagneys was excellent. The steaks were cooked to perfection and the service was very attentive. The Teppanyaki was very enteraining and the food again was very well cooked and tasted delicious. Our dinner in O'Sheehans was what we expected, just simple well cooked food. We went to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert on our first night and if you like watching grown men in dresses prancing about the stage then you will love this show. Not my cup of tea though so we left before the end. The entertainment we enjoyed the most was the Howl at the Moon Duelling Pianos. They were excellent. The only NCL excursion that we did was the Pisa/Florence on your own tour and we really enjoyed it. The tour guide Jon was very nice and knowledgeable and was able to give us recommendations for places to see and where to get a lovely pizza for lunch. When we were in Cannes and Palma we simply got off the ship and went for a walk around. Disembarkation (once we were able to get space in an elevator) was quick and easy. Would definitely consider another cruise with NCL but maybe on a smaller ship next time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
I loved it! The staff was great! This was my first cruise. I found the ship to be clean and the staff to be very patient and professional. We had no problems. Everything went exactly like they said it would. We did excursions every day. ... Read More
I loved it! The staff was great! This was my first cruise. I found the ship to be clean and the staff to be very patient and professional. We had no problems. Everything went exactly like they said it would. We did excursions every day. Got off and on the ship with no problems. The tour people were fun, knowledgeable and professional. The food was delicious. Very patient staff as I was listening to all the variety of orders from all the people. Great job! The entertainment was OUTSTANDING!!! The piano players were unbelievable. We went to see the many times. The talent was incredible. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We had a lovely 7 day cruise on the epic with our boys ages 6 and 7. It was our first time cruising so I wasn't sure what to expect but we had a really relaxing and enjoyable holiday. I found it a little difficult to get specific ... Read More
We had a lovely 7 day cruise on the epic with our boys ages 6 and 7. It was our first time cruising so I wasn't sure what to expect but we had a really relaxing and enjoyable holiday. I found it a little difficult to get specific information on shore excursions with kids similar in age to ours so here is what we got up to: Rome embarkation: We flew into Ciampino airport that morning and arranged a transfer directly to the ship with Anthony Cagnoli and sons. The driver was there to meet us and dropped us right at the check in area. It cost €150 so there are certainly cheaper options but it was easy and smooth and the journey is quite long so I can understand the cost. It was raining really heavily in Rome and embarkation was just through one gangway. Queue time was around 15 minutes to check in and then we went through security etc. As first time cruisers we weren't told the location of our stateroom or where to go once we got on board and security was a little manic with day trippers re-embarking the ship at the same time so we were a bit confused at first but we found our room and settled in. Most passengers get on at Barcelona so for eg. we missed out on things like the laundry bag deal as this was offered on our first day, the dailies refer to day 1 as the Barcelona day. Other than that it didn't really matter that we got on in Rome. Day 2 Livorno: We got the ship shuttle to the train station $15 dollars return for adults and $10 for kids. We asked about this on the ship but no info was available and it wasn't mentioned in the daily, then we queued for the wrong bus for a while at the port but the bus is actually towards the end of a line of buses and there is an NCL staff member taking names and room numbers, the fare gets charged to your room. We decided to take the train to Pisa. There was a long line for tickets but nobody was using the self serve machines, they were easy to use and we got our tickets there, very cheap I think less than €4 for adults and €1.50 for kids to Pisa. We were unlucky on the train as the driver didn't turn up so after sitting on it for an hour we had to get off (announcements were only made in Italian but almost everyone in our carriage was from the ship and didn't speak Italian). We then had to get the next train which ended up being incredibly overcrowded, all a bit of a nightmare with kids but all was forgotten when we got the Pisa. We walked to the leaning tower of pisa from the train station, around 15-20 minutes and a nice walk. Ours were too young to climb it but enjoyed walking around and taking pics. There is a public toilet behind the cathedral .50cents for adults free for kids (I always think it is good to know were the public toilets are with kids:)) After the tower we went for the most incredible pizza in Quarto D'Ora Italiano. Fresh buffalo mozzarella and parma ham, a jug of delicious local wine and the kids loved their Margarita pizzas. We then walked to La Bottega del gelato for amazing ice cream. The walk between these two places is really nice, passed the university, through a fruit and veg market and through winding streets and alleyways. Then we walked back to the train for a smooth journey back to the station. The shuttle bus to the ship runs from there every half hour. Day 3 Cannes We booked the tender boat for 9:15 the day before, this was great fun. As soon as you get off the boat, at the pier the little train tour leaves so we did this, it is a good way to see the whole city if a little long for the kids. There is a shorter version at the main embarkation point near the beach that might be more suitable. If you turn right on the croisette from the place where the boat docks and walk for 15 minutes you will get to a nice free beach. Ours went swimming in the sea, built sand sculptures and we had ice cream then back on the boat for lunch. Day 4 Palma The boys wanted to stay on the ship this day so I went on my own to centro commercial ponto pi for some retail therapy which is around a 5-10 minute walk from the ship. There is a good thai manicure salon in the bottom floor of the shopping centre if you fancy a low cost manicure or pedicure. Didn't see a whole lot of Palma I'm afraid but getting on and off the ship was super easy and the kids loved having the swimming pool to themselves. Day 5 Barcelona I work for a Spanish company so I met some of my Spanish work colleagues in Barcelona. We got the public shuttle to the commercial port and walked to the Cathedral. My son and husband went to see a cool magic show at http://www.elreydelamagia.com/teatre/ while my other son came with my friends and I for a wander and to visit the toy store in El Corte Ingles. We went for the most incredible tapas but sorry I don't know the name of the place! then we got a cab back to the ship which cost €11. Day 6 at sea Day 7 Napoli We decided to to Capri and do the boat trip to the blue caves. When you disembark there are no signs to the Molo Beverello ferry dock, we ended up turning right and walking approx 1-2km in the wrong direction, we asked for directions but they told us to keep going as there is another ferry port with boats to Capri along this side. We googled and realised our mistake so be sure to turn left when you get off the ship! There are three different companies with ferry's to Capri and you just buy one way tickets so you can choose what time to come back later. It took around 40 minutes and was very pleasant. We then got the bus to Annacapri where we had some refreshments and then another bus to the blue cave. The blue cave tour was definitely a highlight for all 4 of us and well worth the trip. You can also get a boat right where the ferry docks and transfer to a smaller boat at the cave. In hindsight this might have been easier as we had to wait quite a long time for a bus back to Marina Grande from Annacapri on the way back. We had pizza and I had lovely Spaghetti with clams in L'approdo restaurant right on the marina, very nice house wine in a carafe. The last ferry we could get to get back on the boat in time was 3:25 pm. Day 8 Disembarkation in Rome. We carried our own luggage as we traveled with one check in bag and three 10kg trolly bags. all was very easy and our driver met us again and brought us back to Fiumuciono this time for our flight home. General comments about the ship with kids: We had hear that Nikelodean had been discontinued and there was no visible replacement. The kids activities are not listed on the main daily, they are displayed on a wall outside the splash academy but this had not been changed for the first two days we were on board and there was always a queue when we went there so we didn't hang around to ask. On the third day we registered our two with Splash but our youngest didn't want to go in so he stayed with us. Our oldest didn't really enjoy it so they didn't use it again for the rest of the trip. We did attend one family Halloween event together and that was good. There was a family activity most days at 7pm but that is the time we tend to eat at so we didn't go to any others. The one thing we really missed was any kind of play area, inside or out the kids could use with us with them. At night there was very much an adult vibe everywhere apart from the buffet. We went twice to the Japanese sushi a la carte and they loved it. I did hate having to walk them through the casino every time we wanted to go through deck 6 or 7, I would have thought it should be more enclosed. We ate at Taste, Manhattan Dining Room, Shanghai Chinese, O'Sheahans, the Garden Cafe and the Wasabi Japanese A La Carte. Food was good everywhere, the chicken pot pie and the country soup were great in O'sheahans. The port dumplings in the chinese were really good and the aforementioned sushi, the kids loved the yakitori and Miso in the Japanese. They absolutely loved the aqua park and a major plus was that one of the outdoor pools was heated and really nice to swim in even when the outdoor weather wasn't great. We had the UDP, with the kids with us all the time we didn't tend to use it so much, a glass or two of wine with dinner, one at lunch and sometimes one other drink during the day. We did find it hard to get a second glass of wine with dinner at times. Once I asked at the end of my starter in Taste, the waitress was clearing away the mains when she told me it was coming but I told her to cancel it as the kids were getting restless at that stage. We did occasionally use our cards to get soda's for the kids and that was no problem. All in all we had an amazing family holiday. We went to Burn the floor one night and all four of us loved it. I really wanted to see Priscilla but it wasn't child friendly and there was no way they were going back to the kids club! We thought overall the level of service was excellent and enjoyed the cruising experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
The difference between RCI and others: Great ships - and you need to take what they offer. So out of 80 cruises only 4 were with RCI: Sorry - but their service level is just not ours. Once in a lifetime I wanted to the the largest ... Read More
The difference between RCI and others: Great ships - and you need to take what they offer. So out of 80 cruises only 4 were with RCI: Sorry - but their service level is just not ours. Once in a lifetime I wanted to the the largest ship in the world. But honestly spoken I do not need it. The shows are the best (after Disney) which I saw but that is not enough to keep me loyal with Royal. I want good food. I do not want to hear the word "no". And even if you pay extra like with us in 150 Central Service I want an outstanding food and service experience which I can compare with NORWEGIAN or CARNIVAL. Even simple things like Egg Benedicts: Standard with other cruise lines even in the self-service-restaurant. But not available in the Windjammer: only fried eggs, boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, omelette (not prepared as you want). If you want your omelette made to your desire you need to move down to an OUTDOOR-Café and sit outside. With reaching a certain age I do not mind to have public rooms which are more calm. A European Café where you get service at the table and not along the Royal Promenade with Starbucks is something I want and what I missed on the ship. We had a great cabin since we had an aft cabin at the boardwalk facing directly to the Aqua-Show. But after seeing the show I must not have it again: Balcony to the Boardwalk / Central Park and I need a cabin closer to the elevators. Such a large ship and only two stairways. I appreciated very much the service of our cabin attendant Nina who treated us like we were Suite-guests. I appreciated the full baggage-service on embarkation and debarkation which other lines do not provide if you are going on a short cruise. Beside that baggage delivery did not work as they do not see the difference between 10329 and 10293 where I found our bags. After that cruise we went on NORWEGIAN ESCAPE. I did not like the ship either. But service, crew and food were a difference between night and day compared to RCI. If somebody came by with a pot of coffee and asked if you want coffee and you said no: the next question came: can we get you something else, tea or hot chocolate. Here on RCI they just accept your no and ran away. Same with juice etc.. O.K. ALLURE OF THE SEAS was supposed to have Dynamic Dining. I was on the first TA of QUANTUM OF THE SEAS. I never booked a fixed table - I hate it. When I learned on QUANTUM OF THE SEAS that they put me fixed dining in The Grande with every night formal and the same menu every day I was more than shocked to learn again: they put me again in fixed dining in The Grande although I never wanted it. All my booked tickets did not fit anymore because they did not put in flexbile dining although 1 1/2 years earlier booked. 150 Central Park was a Speed Dining or Fast Food Restaurant: 4 courses in 50 minutes and even on request they did not slow down the service. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Our first cruise and the most expensive per day we have had. Traveled extensively to South America, UK, Europe, Australia, the Pacific Islands and Madagascar. The "balcony" cabin we had was clean and well serviced with the ... Read More
Our first cruise and the most expensive per day we have had. Traveled extensively to South America, UK, Europe, Australia, the Pacific Islands and Madagascar. The "balcony" cabin we had was clean and well serviced with the exception of toiletries which we had to from time to time ask for. The en-suite was a bit tired and could use a face-lift. My gripe with the cabin is that is a joke to call it a balcony cabin. There are two sliding door that open to a foot wide board and a hand rail to lean on - no table and two chairs that you would expect with a balcony cabin. Service throughout the ship was on the whole reasonable which is more than I can say about the food. I rate the food as being only average as there was virtually nothing that I, or most reasonable cooks, couldn't have prepared themselves. The food the first three nights was dreadful - way overcooked steak and salmon and vegetables that were hot and raw (not cooked at all). This did improve afterwards but not to the level one would expect from a 5 star operation. The food at Club Med Mauritius or Princess Bora Resort and Spa in Madagascar I would rate at a good 8.5 Star Legend's at 3 out of 10 - very disappointed. As far as the wines were concerned (and I have had years of being a wine-broker); I had expected and hoped that there would be a good selection of Italian wines considering the cruise was from this area and considering that Italy produces great wines as well as great value-for-money wines but alas mostly cheap American supermarket wines at high prices and a very poor selection of local wines again at high prices for what they were. All in all beverage rating 2 out of 10. Excursions; Grossly over priced, sometimes with guides with poor English and sometimes with guides that don't have a stop button (They talk non-stop often repeating themselves). If you do book with Windstar and you don't want to use their excursions don't expect any help from them other than a very basic map of the city your visiting - do your homework first. I have held off on writing this review because out travel consultant said the Windstar agent wanted to talk to me regarding my concerns. As expected that hasn't happened so all in all I strongly suggest before paying good money to Windstar do your homework first. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Just got back from a 10 day, Mediterranean cruise on the MSC Divina (9-26-15 sailing). I’ll do a very short review for those with a short attention span and a much more detailed review for those who would like an in-depth review. ... Read More
Just got back from a 10 day, Mediterranean cruise on the MSC Divina (9-26-15 sailing). I’ll do a very short review for those with a short attention span and a much more detailed review for those who would like an in-depth review. Background: I’ve been doing cruises for about 15 years, having sailed on Celebrity, Norwegian, MSC, Carnival, RCCL, Princess, and Croisieres de France. I’m also an Amazon top reviewer and work for a major Wall Street firm in San Diego. My girlfriend and I are in our early 50s. Short Review: Don’t believe all of the negative one and two star reviews of MSC. This ship was beautiful, spotless and the food was good. Also, don’t get fixated on all of those photos of hot dogs and hamburgers. There is a huge and varied selection of food to choose from. While MSC doesn’t do everything perfect, there are a lot of things they do very well. I would not hesitate to sail on MSC again and in fact, they’d be one of my cruise lines of choice. Long Review: Pre-Cruise: We spent 2 days in Rome on the Spanish Steps. We stayed at the Piazza di Spagna View, which is in a wonderful location. The room was inexpensive and literally overlooked the steps. It was also clean and comfortable. However, staff was often not on site (they’re there mornings only) and it did lack some amenities that some might be used to. Rome is a fabulous city, so do not miss it. We ate so well. Excellent and reasonable restaurants everywhere. Fantastic people watching. Something over 1,000 years old almost every time we turned the corner. We did private transportation (used Viator) from airport to hotel, from hotel to ship and from ship back to the airport. It worked well, but we did have one hitch. Embarkation: 5 minutes, are you kidding me? Seriously, on the ship in just 5 minutes. Baggage showed up in 20 minutes. Did you know that MSC stands for Mediterranean Shipping Company and that they are a huge global shipper? When we were in Europe, we saw the MSC logo on trains and shipping crates everywhere. I think that they know a lot about moving things and I believe this carries forward into their cruise business. Best and fastest embarkation ever! Video: I’ve uploaded a video review to YouTube entitled MSC Divina Balcony Review 13118. If you’d like to search for it, it shouldn’t be too hard to find. The Cabin: As mentioned, we stayed in 13118 which is a mid-ship balcony cabin on the 13th deck, which is the “Fantastica Experience”. I had booked the lowest level balcony guarantee and this was our room assignment, which I was very happy with. The room was immaculate, spacious and comfortable. Do be aware that some of the balcony rooms are much smaller than others, so be sure to look at the deck plan. For example compare our room to let’s say 13130. Our room is far bigger, even though the location is similar and pricing could be similar or identical. You have to insert your cruise card (or similar) into a slot to keep the lights on. I inserted a paper card but the cabin steward informed me it’s best to use the cruise card. That’s because, when your card is in the slot, there’s a small light to the upper, left part of the door that tells him it’s occupied. When he sees that light off, he knows it’s okay to clean the room. There’s much discussion about the overhang from the superstructure, especially with respect to the 13th deck. Some rooms have a small overhang, some have a very large overhang, while others have no overhang. We had the small overhang and I viewed this as a positive. It kept the room shady on sunny days and when we had blowing rain, I think it was also a plus. So in short, the room was excellent, probably my best experience to date. The Food: I was almost scared off by prior reviews of MSC food. Others have posted photo after photo of hot dogs and hamburgers, suggesting that the food is lousy and of limited variety. That’s not even slightly true. Yes, there are always hot dogs, burgers and pizza. The pizza and burgers are excellent, but I didn’t try the dogs. *BUT* bear in mind that during meal hours, the buffet is super well stocked with a massive variety of foods, most of which are very good or excellent. Here’s a tip. If you don’t see what you want…keep on walking. The buffet area is very, very large and often there were many items in farther away areas of the buffet that you wouldn’t see if you didn’t do a lap, or at least a half-lap, around said area. So dismiss the hot dog and burger comments, as it’s just not true. Sure, you might see that in-between meals, but otherwise you’ll find a ton of offerings. In the main dining room, food was mostly very good. I can’t quite go excellent, but solid in general. However, there is definite room for improvement. The fish is always overcooked and mostly has a somewhat fishy taste. Disappointing, but the solution is to avoid the fish. I’d call upon MSC to improve their seafood quality and preparation. As mentioned, it was always tough and overcooked. The beef, lamb and chicken are very good. Prime Rib was cooked quite nicely. Most of the appetizers and desserts were solid as well. While most on the ship speak very good English, our waiter did not and as a result several orders were fouled up. He was a nice guy, but initially I asked for another table. Both the Maître D and assistant Maître D told me “not possible”. We also asked for their My Time Dining and I was told “not possible”. Frankly, I thought that the Maître Ds were snotty and unaccommodating and they ought to shape up or ship out. We also bought the Allegrissimo drink package and I have a tip for you. When trying to book this, some links wanted $35 USD per day while others wanted 26€ per day. Obviously, 26€ is cheaper, so find that option. If you book this in advance, you avoid the 15% (I think) service charge. There are plenty of good drink options and limited wine options, but we found a merlot that we mostly enjoyed with dinner. Also, Allegrissimo gets you coffee drinks, such as cappuccinos, and unlimited Gelato, which is fantastic! The Ship: Beautiful. Almost stunning really. Super clean and super well-maintained! It wasn’t hard to get around. Best ship I’ve ever been on. The folks at MSC deserve applause for the thought and detail that they put into Divina. It almost pains me to read all of the negative reviews directed towards such a beautiful ship. And again, as noted the food and service were also quite good, with several minor exceptions. I also liked the fact that announcements are to the point and kept to a minimum. The Passengers: Varied. Many Europeans. Cruisers of all ages, not too old and not too young. Plenty of English Speakers too. We rarely had a problem with communication, although as noted, some of the waiters could have spoken better English. Entertainment: Really, really good. Saw a number of shows in the theater and was highly impressed. I liked Billy Bones, which received a standing ovation. Michael Jackson show was also very good, but far less acrobatic and physical than Billy Bones. Most of the musicians on Divina are excellent. There was a heavy-set pianist who sometimes played with an Italian opera singer and they were amazing! We’d sit in that beautiful lobby with a brandy snifter of Grand Marnier (included in Allegrissimo) and it was a great way to wind down in the evening. Disembarkation: I’m guessing it went fine for most. We had a problem though. We had an 11:55 am flight and wished to get off the ship early. The front desk told me not to put my bags outside of the room, but instead simply carry them down and exit the ship as soon as it arrived. We did that and in short, they would not allow us to exit the ship for another 45 minutes. If you are doing a cruise out of Rome, booking a flight departure around noon or after you are probably fine. 1 pm, 2 pm even better. 11 am, you’ll probably miss it. 11:30 am, possibly doable, with some luck and reasonable traffic, but generally try for around noon or later. Internet Access: If you’re like me, you’ll want constant online access. While on the ship, I bought MSC’s Wi-Fi package. They had a 50% off deal that I thought was quite fair. Not sure if you’ll get the same offer, but here were the prices, again at 50% off. All prices are in Euro. 1hr 8.45€. 1.4hr 12.45€. 5hr 27.45€. 8hr 34.95€. 24hr 84.95€. I chose 8 hours and it suited my needs. Don’t forget to login and logoff, as the clock keeps running if you forget. While on land, you may know that roaming data can be crazy expensive if you are overseas and you can run up a massive bill if you aren’t careful. Here’s what I did. Understand that I have an iPhone 6 and this might or might not work for you. 1. I bought a Keepgo SIM card with 1 GB or data. This ran me $70. I removed my normal SIM card before leaving and replaced it with Keepgo. This gave me 3G speeds (it’s fine) in every stop and it works in almost every country in the world. There might be cheaper options by purchasing SIM cards in each country, but I didn’t want to monkey with that. This works great everywhere I have ever visited. I’d suggest you test it before you leave, as there might be configuration issues, but they are usually simple to resolve. The Keepgo app should be downloaded and used. But just one problem. It’s a data only card, which means you can’t use your phone as a phone in the usual way. Not really a problem, in my view. 2. Use Skype, which is not only super cheap anyway, but possibly free. As of this writing, Skype offers an Unlimited World Plan. It’s inexpensive to begin with, but the first month is free. So, I did the free trial, called anywhere in the world for free during the trip and then cancelled the trial upon my return. If you don’t cancel, you’ll be billed for the next month. I was charged nothing. But what if people wish to call you? 3. If you wish to receive incoming calls with the above setup, you’ll need to buy a Skype Number. It’s around $18 for 3 months and you can choose a local number that anyone call you on. So if you’re in Rome, your phone will ring when someone calls you on a hometown number. Works great. Again, if you don’t cancel, it will renew. Some might not need this, as you can still communicate via e-mail or possibly text. But I wanted to have a way for work or family to call me easily if something really important came up. Ports: Let me begin by saying that everything is billed in Euro. While you’ll have a credit card on file with the ship, you will want to have some Euro cash in your pocket. We brought about 300€ each for the 10 day cruise and I ended up with about 70€ left over. Obviously, you may need more or less than we did. Also, many European credit cards have the new security chip, so better if you have one of those. My Capital One card did not. I asked for a chip card and was told they wouldn’t be mailing those for months. They also said that I could not specifically request a chip card ahead of schedule. I then asked, “If I simply ask for a 2nd duplicate card, will it have the chip on it”. The answer was yes, and indeed it did. Also, use a card for purchases where possible without any currency mark-up. Capital One is a good example. Discover card also waives the foreign currency transaction fee, but is not widely accepted in Europe, so you can probably leave it home. There are other cards that waive that fee, so check it out before you travel. La Spezia, Italy: We did the Cinque Terre, which is stunning. It’s also close to the cruise port, by train. I recommend that you get off the ship, grab a taxi, and take it to the central train station. Should run around 15€, which is a bit pricey, but it will get you there fast. I’d not recommend walking or messing with a bus. At the train station, you’ll see a lot of people, a lot of stuff in Italian that you don’t understand, several automated machines with short lines, and a longer line leading to a couple of ticket windows. Get in the longer line and buy the 5 Terre ticket for Cinque Terre for 12€ each. You must have cash (no credit card accepted). This will allow you unlimited train passage between the 5 towns, which is super convenient. You must validate the ticket at the platform once only. You should see a number of machines that you can put the ticket into the slot to validate. You also have to write your full name in pen on the ticket. The ticket agents do speak some limited English to help you a bit. But then, you’ll see a bunch of train schedules, in Italian, and they may seem confusing. Don’t worry, it’s not that hard. Just look for a specific city that you’ll visit, make sure to find the right platform, and get on board. Look for departures (treni in partenza) and not arrivals (treni in arrivo). You’ll figure it out. If you have internet access, I recommend that you view their schedules online. Go to ViaggiaTreno d o t it and click on the small Italian flag in the upper right corner, then select English. Next, click on Train – Station. Once you enter the first few letters of the town you want to visit, it will populate. Why not try it now? Type in Monterosso and you’ll see the departures and planned platform. Double-check the info with the schedules at the station, especially the platform. You can do this without going online, but it’s in Italian at the station. Still, not too tough to figure out and a breeze once you’ve got the hang of it. I’d suggest that you visit Monterosso first (it’s the farthest from La Spezia and probably the nicest) and then work your way back. We hit all 5 towns, going from Monterosso to Vernazza to Corniglia to Manarola and finally onto Riomaggiore before finally heading back to La Spezia and then taking a taxi back to the ship. If you wish to do all 5 towns (we did), get off the ship early and you will return late but you will have time. You could also hit a few towns only, but again I liked Monterosso the best. I had an amazing sea bass lunch with fantastic local white wine at Il Castello. Cannes, France: This was a bit disappointing. We did the MSC tour to Nice and Eze. They were filming in Nice and traffic was at a standstill due to this. We sat on the bus for about an hour. Nice seemed quite nice, but we had maybe 25 minutes to see it. Then, 2 passengers were lost and we had to wait 45 minutes for them. Eze was interesting but mostly nothing but shops. The perfume factory gave me a headache. However, I do think Nice is worthwhile and if you don’t hit traffic, you might have better luck. We spoke with one couple who had a private driver. They hit Nice, Eze and Monaco and had a great time with no problems. Palma de Mallorca, Spain: This is a surprisingly nice and large island and I think the population is 800,000. We did the Dragon’s Caves aka Cuevas de Drach via MSC. Really beautiful caves with a large lake at the bottom. You walk through them and then you are seated in the dark while dimly lit boats row up and play classical music. Pretty cool. Then, those same boats take you back to the exit. Next, the bus took us to the Majorca Factory Shop, which mostly sells nice pearl jewelry. While I could care less about pearl jewelry, there’s a café that sells Sangria, Espresso, Licor de Mallorca for only 1€ and great sandwiches for 3€. Get in line early. The Sangria is excellent and we bought 4 at such a low price. I also enjoyed the sandwich a lot, which is made fresh and toasted. The only bummer is that all that bus traveling gives you limited time in the actual central Palma city area. We had some time and it’s nice and impressive. While I would have preferred more time to see the massive church (it was closed) and to check out central Palma, I did think the tour was worthwhile. I also thought MSC’s tours in general were well-priced, mostly around 40€ per person. Barcelona, Spain: Gorgeous city. We did the “Highlights of Barcelona, Montserrat and Wine Tasting” tour, which was long at 7.5 hours. The tour started with a visit to Vilarnau Winery that makes Cava, which is basically Spanish Champagne. It wasn’t great and wasn’t bad. Included was a tasting of their Cava. Next we climbed the mountain of Monserrat to an elevation of about 4,000 feet to visit the Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey, which I believe was built around 1400. The Abbey and its surroundings were utterly spectacular. It’s like something you’d see in a video or magazine, but never dreamed you’d visit. I loved this stop and highly recommend it. The only downside is that the tour concludes with a drive through Barcelona, so you never really experience Las Ramblas and such. You’ll have to decide if that’s acceptable. But I will say that I enjoyed this tour, although I thought the winery thing was just okay. Valetta, Malta: An old city that you can walk about in. We walked to a giant Elevator and it took us up over the massive wall that lines the city for I think 2€ (coming down is free). The city is very walkable and quaint. Don’t miss St. John’s Co-Cathedral, although they do nail you for 6€ to get in. Worth it, in my view. Outside of the cathedral are several cafes where you can have lunch, a snack or a drink and that’s exactly what we did after walking most of the central area. You probably don’t need a tour to see Malta. Corfu, Greece: I’m half Greek, so it was kind of special in a way to visit the home of many of my ancestors. We did the MSC Paleokastritsa and Wine Tasting tour. You start off by visiting the Koum Quat Mavromatis (Mavormatis means “Black Eyes” in Greek) Factory that offers free tastings of their liquors, mostly Kumquat, Limoncello and Ouzo. They also offer many candies, jams and such. Oh man, this place is great! Load up on purchases here. The prices are excellent and the quality is outstanding. I bought a ton of stuff for 60€. Everything is good and you can taste some of it to confirm. We then visited the beautiful Paleokastritsa beach, but time was quite limited. We had a couple of glasses of Ouzo in a restaurant on the sand. Next we visited a town very high in the hills and had Greek wine (it’s okay) and a nice plate of meat and cheese (excellent). There are also gift shops with cheap prices. The drive is lovely and I was surprised that Corfu has over 4,500,000 olive trees on that island. There are literally olive trees almost everywhere you look! Messina, Sicily: This stop was disappointing. The city is beautiful as you pull up, but on Sunday it’s pretty much closed and seems a bit run down. There was nothing to do but visit the nice ancient cathedral built in 1198 and climb the bell tower for a small fee. Pay the extra 1€ after climbing the tower to visit the cathedral’s museum, which has some beautiful items displayed. But the town was dead as can be. We took the MSC tour to Mt. Etna. It’s a long ride out there and doesn’t go to the top, stopping at a secondary crater, which was boring. Nice drive though. Dress for cold weather, as you’re 7,000 feet up and it’s very windy and cold! Naples, Italy: We took the MSC tour to Sorrento and I loved Sorrento! The drive is stunning, especially when you are high on the cliffs above the town. Sorrento itself is lovely and charming. This is a super short stop, so do the MSC tour. You’ll get off the ship fast. Limited time in Sorrento, but I suggest you visit it nonetheless. We stuck with the tour guide part of the time and then visited the Fauno Bar and Restaurant in the main town square for an Antipasti plate and excellent local wine. The plate ran us 12€ and I’m not sure about the wine’s price, but you got a small bottle of the “house red” that held 250 ml, or about 1/3 of a standard bottle of wine. My total cost was 35€ for wine, antipasti and 2 cappuccinos. Great people watching spot and good food. Don’t overlook the little bowl of huge local olives which are different yet terrific. So yes, please do visit Sorrento! Conclusion: We loved MSC, we loved the Divina and we loved this itinerary. We also thought that late summer/early fall was an excellent time to travel, as the temperatures were very nice. As you may understand, this is not a lie on the beach and bake in the sun kind of cruise. You are visiting historic parts of Europe. We visited so many wonderful places, had so many great experiences and memories, and it was so convenient by doing this by cruise ship. Sure, time is limited in many ports, but life is full of trade-offs and good luck doing all of this any other way. And finally, don’t let the negative reviews scare you away from MSC. Yes, there are areas they could improve upon, but there is so much that they do right. I certainly do recommend MSC, the Divina and this European itinerary. We had a fabulous time! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Enjoyed the holiday, however I would certainly book direct with Royal Caribbean next time as the literature from the travel agent was almost nil. Thoroughly enjoyed the visits to all locations on the cruise and I must say the food was ... Read More
Enjoyed the holiday, however I would certainly book direct with Royal Caribbean next time as the literature from the travel agent was almost nil. Thoroughly enjoyed the visits to all locations on the cruise and I must say the food was absolutely unbelievable. 95% of the staff were superb and could not do enough to assist you. The cabin was adequate but being an inside cabin there was no ventilation apart from the air conditioning and I would advise customers to spend that bit extra to have an outside cabin. It was kept spotlessly clean by our attendant who was really polite and helpful throughout our stay. This was the first cruise I have been on and having spoken to several people on the cruise a lot stated that the ship was a little outdated and needed refurbishing compared to other cruise ships of the same size that they had experienced on several cruises. However for a first time experience I am glad I booked the cruise as it was a learning experience and I now have more idea as to what to look for when thinking of cruising in the future. Regarding tips, I did not pay the money stated when booking the holiday and paid tips to the staff that I thought deserved them to them personally at the end of the holiday. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
The Divina Hosts 4 000 'guests', which is way too much for the services it can deliver. There are long waiting times at the elevators, when getting off, at the buffet, at the excursion office desk, everywhere. In addition, to ... Read More
The Divina Hosts 4 000 'guests', which is way too much for the services it can deliver. There are long waiting times at the elevators, when getting off, at the buffet, at the excursion office desk, everywhere. In addition, to manage such a crowd, employees are told to apply the rules by the book without taking the client needs into consideration. At the dining room, for ionstance, you can't make a change to your order once it has been given to the waiter. They also offer deceiving excursions. 16o euros for example, to spend 30 minutes in the village of Capri. We also found an insect in our cabin two times during the cruise. Finally, managers won't listen to the clients and carry on their business as if everything was fine. By the way, Italian crew members never ever smile. They rather look down at you even though you are paying to be on board Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was my first cruise. I wasn't sure what to expect. However I read a lot of reviews ideas etc We arrived easily at the pier . Had a mooch about and found our outside cabin. Loved the ship . All clean tidy and the crew ... Read More
This was my first cruise. I wasn't sure what to expect. However I read a lot of reviews ideas etc We arrived easily at the pier . Had a mooch about and found our outside cabin. Loved the ship . All clean tidy and the crew seemed lovely. Cabin much bigger than I thought. Twin beds and bathroom of course small but fine in size. Shower lovely and all spotless. Please not both American and European plugs. Food I'm windjammer plentiful hot and amazing choice. We had breakfast and the strawberry compote was incredible with my pancakes ! Lunch great and again plenty of choice. Always seats available. Yes busy at main times but obviously it will be Main dining too was fantastic. Service lovely and people we met so friendly. Plenty of choice and if you wanted another portion or extra ice cream just ask ! We had a fab deal on wine. As we were off the ship at each port we didn't buy a drink package. We aren't big drinkers anyway. The ship has free coffee, tea and hot chocolate all day. They have water and flavoured cordial. We were completely happy with this. However were looking forward to a glass of wine in the evening. They had a package of 5 ,7 or 10 bottles of wine. The 5 bottles worked out at £90 !! So we had this which lasted us the whole cruise. Water and tea or coffee also served at dinner. Drinks were expensive but your weren't made to feel uncomfortable by not having any more Shows at night we loved. The ships entertainment are great and really make every show fun. The pro acts especially "The Zoots" and Andrew Derbyshire amazing. I could of watched them both shows The pool are was lovely . Yes it got busy on sea days but again it will won't it ? We get up early anyway so had no problem at all. We had a great time on the excursions especially Ephesus and Santorini , we went on our own at Mykonos and katacolon and to be honest next time we would be braver and do more on our own . Ephesus was incredible but we did have the usual carpet selling trip ! All in all I loved it and hopefully having got the cruise bug I'll be going again next year Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
First time cruising and hopefully not the last. The ship is magnificent the interior is of five star class as are the cabins and the food is mind blowing in the variety. The entertainment was spectacular and brilliant. Our cabin ... Read More
First time cruising and hopefully not the last. The ship is magnificent the interior is of five star class as are the cabins and the food is mind blowing in the variety. The entertainment was spectacular and brilliant. Our cabin stewards Dominador and Christian were so obliging and friendly. My husband and daughter both celebrated their birthdays whilst on board and Dominador made them both so extra special. The evening dining in the Opus restaurant was wonderful due to the obliging Maitre de Lea who always tried to make sure we had the same table and the food and staff was brilliant. The information of what was going to be on each and every day was in a professional leaflet left in our cabin each evening so we could plan what we would be doing the next day. Although this is a big ship carrying 3000 people we never felt overcrowded. Our cabin had a balcony and I spent some early mornings just watching the smooth flow of the ship on the ocean. We had a drinks package and needless to say I had some exotic cocktails. We had an .exceptional time one that I will remember for ever Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Excellent first timers cruise from Rome for 11 nights. Embarkation was excellent and we had an early slot which gave us plenty of time to explore before everyone arrived. Acqua class was excellent with perks including free bottled water, ... Read More
Excellent first timers cruise from Rome for 11 nights. Embarkation was excellent and we had an early slot which gave us plenty of time to explore before everyone arrived. Acqua class was excellent with perks including free bottled water, access to Persian garden spa room and best of all access to speciality dining room blu. Food was excellent at all times and blu was fantastic for breakfast and dinner. We always got a table for two and food and service fantastic. Murano and quisin specialty restaurants outstanding and well worth cover charge. Lawn club mains good but service a little less than expected and only flatbread for starters. We didn't take the drinks package but signed for all to our onboard account which could be viewed each evening on screen in cabin. Drinks total for us worked out for us signifantly cheaper on the package price and we did not scrimp! Tours and transfers were overpriced and I was surpised how many people took them. Discerning cruisers booked independent tours or free lanced in ports using local transport which around the med was widely available. House bands and music excellent and variety of styles including Jazz, rock, easy listening and Dj modern and charts in range of venues to suit all. Overall excellent service and experience although tours overpriced. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Review of Cunard Queen Victoria This was our first cruise ever, and for the purposes of the review I suppose it is prudent to note that my partner and I are in our late 30’s - which is quite young for Cunard passengers. SHIP ... Read More
Review of Cunard Queen Victoria This was our first cruise ever, and for the purposes of the review I suppose it is prudent to note that my partner and I are in our late 30’s - which is quite young for Cunard passengers. SHIP The Queen Victoria is a beautiful ship, both inside and out. We saw in several ports bigger ships, but in my opinion when the QV lacks in size on some of these behemoths is the fact that it is stately and elegant. The outside areas on Decks 3, 9, 10 and 11 are lovely and you do feel at times as if you have 'stepped back in time' to be on this ship. If you get up early enough (as my partner and I did a couple of times to experience dawn in a couple of beautiful ports) you will see the deck hands hard at work cleaning the ship every morning to keep the ship spotless. EMBARKATION We Embarked in Civitavecchia, and flew into Rome on a Cunard chartered BA flight from Heathrow. Flight was on time, and check in was painless and easy. One of the small downsides was the situation once we arrived in Rome. The bags took an absolute age to arrive, and once we had given them up to the helpful Cunard reps (the last time we would see our bags for a good while) we were directed around by locally sourced staff working on behalf of Cunard. This wouldn't have been an issue if they had told us what was going on but passengers were herded from place to place without any explanation of what was going on, seemingly to walk to a location simply to then stand with no information for 10-15 minutes, before repeating the process to another location for another wait. Eventually after a good while of being sent from place to place we were on the coach to Civitavecchia. I will note now that if you are being taken anywhere by Cunard they will massively over-estimate the time it will take when they tell you how long the journey is - planning for a worst case scenario i suppose! The drive to Civitavecchia, billed as 70-90 minutes, took about 45. We walked from the coach directly into the pier reception area and were checked in very quickly indeed - a couple of pictures, give over the credit card, and then through security and you are on - I had read horror stories about wait times, but from Coach - Ship took all of 10 minutes, maximum. Really slick and professional I thought. We went directly to our stateroom on Deck 5 midships, the cabin was ready and looking great (more of this later) however but no luggage yet (this was to be expected) so we went off for a tour of the ship and a bite to eat in the Lido buffet on deck 9. I thought the Embarkation process was absolutely magnificent and apart from the situation in Rome airport with the local reps couldn't really fault it (and even that was a minor annoyance) I had read reviews that stated you need to surrender your passport - this was not the case with us. TIP: If you are on a lower deck (2, 3 or 4) instead of waiting for the lifts at midships when you embark, just walk up the stairs - this was the one and only time we had real issues with getting in the lifts as so many people were getting on at once. It doesn’t take long and had I known, even on Deck 5, I would have walked up the stairs to avoid the wait for the lift. THE CABIN We were on deck 5 mid-ship, with a 'restricted view' - I did not find the view a bother at all and could see everything. It possibly limited your photo opportunities, but to be honest I didn't spend a great deal of time on the Balcony anyway so it didn't bother me in the slightest. If I had the choice again I would have gone for an unrestricted view but if your budget will only let you go for the restricted view, just go for it! The ship isn’t very old, less than 10 years, and the state of the Cabin reflected this. It was spotless and very nicely decorated, with a king size bed, dressing table, sofa (which I believe also turned into a bed), coffee table etc. Nice towels, bathrobes and slippers were provided and the amenities in the bathroom were of a high quality (Penhaligon’s) and refreshed should you require (although our steward did need a bit of prompting in this regard). There’s a refrigerator, hair dryer, safe, and several electrical outlets. I knew from reading reviews that UK outlets were provided, however since you have one UK, one US and one European, if you want to use more than one power outlet at once, bring a 4 way power strip or an adapter if you have one. The bed was lovely, with a huge abundance of pillows, and excellent quality bedding. Bathroom was slightly cramped but it was designed very well so you soon got used to the reduced dimensions. The fridge was stocked with water and cans of soft drinks, and the prices for these were fairly reasonable. There was a complimentary half bottle of champagne on ice waiting for us when we got in our room. We saved it for sail away rather than devouring it immediately! The one downside to the room is the size and quality of the television. It is small at 21” and the reception was not of a high quality. The choice of channels is quite limited. However, I didn’t go on the cruise to watch television, I can watch television at home so it didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the cruise. LAUNDRY There is a laundry on every floor, but be warned they are busy. There were three washers and three dryers, open from around 0730 to 2100. Use of the machines was free and the soap was also free. Getting a machine seemed to be a challenge as they were always busy with lots of passengers waiting. I did not need to wash any items but I did have to iron a few things, and there tended to be a queue to do this. However not a huge one and didn’t take a huge amount of time. If I were to go again, I would probably take less clothes and simply use the Laundry service for a few select items, as I didn’t think the charges were astronomical for this service from what I could gather (compared to the pricing for some other things – more on that later) DINING There are two levels of Dining, one for Britannia level passengers, and the Queens/Princess grills for the higher levels of passenger – We obviously did not have access to these grills so I cannot comment on them. We had requested a table for two in the Britannia and were granted this, however on reflection I think next time I will state no preference/larger table, as some of the couples who were randomly mixed on the larger tables seemed to be having a whale of a time. However, this is highly dependent on whom you get paired with, and as I will go on to state throughout this review, you could well be unlucky in this regard. Our neighbour on the first evening ordered a sirloin steak well done and then spent 20 minutes complaining loudly to the waiter that it was tough! If you’re going to ruin a steak by ordering it well done madam, don’t be surprised that it’s ruined – you made that happen, not the chefs! We were given a table on the upper floor of the Britannia on the 2nd seating (8:30 dine time) again, I'm in two minds as to which would be the most advantageous – earlier seating at 6:30 means you have more time to enjoy the evening activities, however it does curtail your daytime activities. A quandary you can figure out for yourselves! We had one waiter with two assistants (Wilfredo, Srdan, and Marius), and a dedicated sommelier assigned to our section (Milo). All 4 of these gentlemen were an absolute delight and worked SO hard to keep myself and my partner happy over the course of our voyage. I actually submitted commendations for them as I thought they were absolutely amazing. They really enhanced our voyage and our dining experience every night was amazing. The food is excellent quality, although on occasion slightly rich and you do end most evenings feeling extremely full! (Not that there is anything wrong with that!) Some of the choices I made over the course of the week were an absolute delight – The Beef Wellington and Baked Alaska were particular highlights. We did enjoy breakfast and lunch in the dining room as well, but not always, often choosing the Lido over the more ‘formal’ setting of the dining room for either the breadth of choice or because we were in a bit more of a hurry. Dining in the Britannia is not a rushed experience (nor should it be) ALTERNATIVE DINING You can dine on Deck 2 in the Veranda, which is high quality French food, for a surcharge, or in the Lido Buffet on Deck 9. We did not bother booking the Veranda; I thought the quality of the food in the Britannia was more than adequate for our needs. We did walk around it when not open though and it is very tastefully decorated and I am sure the experience in there would be excellent. We enjoyed several lunches and breakfasts in the Lido on deck 9. The Lido buffet is huge, with areas that we didn’t even notice until several days into the cruise. Breakfast in the Lido is a cornucopia of choice, from Waffles and Pancakes (and Eggs) cooked to order, to anything and everything that you might expect for breakfast, be you American, British, or Australian (or indeed many other nationalities!) So much choice that I can’t even begin to explain in words – I don’t have enough words. Suffice to say whatever you want for breakfast is there. I guarantee it, including huge quantities of fruit and breads. For Lunch it’s much of the same, choice wise, with additional areas that come into play, most notably a pizza and pasta station where they will cook your order fresh each lunchtime – the pizza was of excellent quality. They also serve an informal ‘afternoon tea’ in the Lido and also have sections dedicated to fresh donuts, cookies and cupcakes at seemingly random times of the day. It literally never closes, you can get something there 24 hours a day, should you require. There is also a Lido bar and grill at the aft serving ‘fast’ food like Hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries. Also it should be noted that every day you can take ‘proper’ afternoon tea in the Queens Room down on deck 2 which is very nice indeed, accompanied by a string quartet (Very elegant). There is also a champagne afternoon tea available for a surcharge but once again we didn’t see the need to partake of this. It’s also worth noting that the Lido does themed nights (for another surcharge). Room Service is also available 24 hours but I felt no need to take advantage of this at any point. TIP The Lido can get very busy at ‘obvious’ times. (9am for breakfast and 1pm for lunch) – it’s sometimes a challenge to find a table at these times, although I never completely failed to find one – it just required an eagle eye! SHOPPING Like most cruise ships this ship has shopping at the Royal Arcade. There were some very competitive buys in perfume, leather goods and liquors. Sales are a common occurrence. SPA The Spa looked amazing and Cunard pushed it quite heavily, but this would be one of my main criticisms of the QV. The prices are (in my opinion) astronomical for the services provided. If they reduced the prices in the Spa I felt like we would have actually used them but I didn’t think we could really justify this. If you have plenty of money though, it did look amazing. EMPIRE CASINO This has to be one of the smallest casinos on the seas. Located on Deck two, there are enough slots, roulette and card games to keep one busy. ROYAL ARCADE This is shopping and as with most ships there is a small retail outlet where one can purchase from a limited selection of clothes, watches, jewellery, etc. There was a store selling essential items and also a book store – although the shops are nice you do seem to pay full whack for everything but if you have forgotten any essentials you will find yourself covered. Once again I didn’t come on a cruise to go shopping, but the fact that they were there was a nice touch. THE ROYAL THEATER One of the visual highlights of the ship. A beautiful room indeed, seating for a lot of people and a wide variety of shows on in the evenings and insight talks from subject experts during the day. The productions were of a decent quality but nothing amazing, but still a fun way to spend an hour or so in the evening before or after your meal! DECK CHAIRS & SEATING Really nice deck chairs on the cruise and they seem to be dotted everywhere where there is room on the upper decks. Although Prime positions go quickly, we never had a problem finding somewhere to relax on deck, either in the Sun or the Shade if required. INTERNET I heard from several passengers horror stories about the speed of Internet on board. I didn’t need to use it as we were only on for a week and I could use my phone in any cafe when in port with free wifi, so I just limited my use to those times – this did not bother me in the slightest. Again I don’t want to spend my holiday checking my emails! POOLS One on the aft of deck nine and one in the mid-forwards section of the ship on deck 9. The pools were rarely busy but a lot of the passengers enjoyed sunbathing next to them. Two hot tubs by each pool as well. Very nice if not enormous, but then when are pools enormous on board – I used the pool twice and the temperature was perfect. There were towels by each pool and in several other common areas – I had read reviews stating you needed to take your towels from your room – this is definitely NOT the case! YOUR FELLOW PASSENGERS Now onto my biggest gripe of the cruise. This ship had about a third of the passengers from the United States followed by the UK and Australia. The remainder was truly a global mix. Many were seniors. Very few (perhaps less than a dozen) children were aboard. The ships’ dress policy stresses appropriate dress all over the ship in the evenings. They mention that there is strict enforcement. Well I couldn’t disagree with that more. There was absolutely no enforcement. At dinner where a jacket is required for men I saw several men in casual shirts with no jacket in the Britannia dining room and some of the women looked downright scruffy. I am not a snob by any means (as you will see shortly!) but one of the driving factors behind our decision to go Cunard was to experience the evenings as an ‘event’ and dress up. Well some of the passengers really push the limits of what should be deemed acceptable in this regard. Formal nights had a much higher ‘hit rate’ of passengers dressing up and making an effort, but some of them still really did push their luck in this regard. If you are going to pay for a Cunard cruise and you know the dress policy, why would you then ignore it? It doesn’t make sense to me. A less formal cruise would save you money if you detest dressing up that much. I suppose the trend away from Smart/Formal attire is a relentless one and even Cunard cannot escape forever. I think personally this is a shame. This takes me onto the rest of the passengers and their attitude. Although we met a great deal of nice and pleasant people on board, it was one of the main detractions of life on board that there were a significant minority of awful people on board. The personality and behaviour of some of these people was appalling. I saw several instances in bars, dining rooms and out on deck when passengers were not just rude to staff, they were downright abusive. Some of them treated the staff like slaves. I was horrified by some of this behavior and went out of my way to be as polite and thankful to the staff as I could be, just to try and redress the balance. I would say that if you say good morning/good afternoon/good evening to everyone you pass; approximately three quarters of them will return the greeting with a smile. The disgusting quarter of them who think they are better than everyone else on the planet will look upon you with disdain, but it’s wise to remember that you are the better person, and manners cost nothing. I lost count of the people I held doors open for who acted as if I was their personal butler rather than a fellow guest being polite. How hard really is ‘please’ ‘thank you’ etc? Apparently these simple words are too much effort for some people. TOURS ON SHORE We mostly preferred to do our own thing in this regard and the prices of some of the trips did seem a bit excessive and we talked to a couple of guests about their experiences and it seems they are very mixed. Some tours are excellent and some are very poor, and there appears to be no way of knowing in advance which is which! However, we got lucky – we booked the Doges Palace/St. Marks Basilica and Gondola ride tour in Venice, and it was absolutely brilliant, our guide was excellent and I enjoyed every moment of it! Well done Cunard! They did mess up though in advance of the tour, saying that our tour tickets would be outside our stateroom the night before the tour, and then they never turned up. Sadly this then led to me rushing around to get them in the morning before the tour, and after bizarrely telling me off for something Cunard had messed up, the member of staff on the tour desk printed us a couple of duplicates. I got the impression that you do pay over the odds for tours and it does seem like a huge money making exercise to me. I think you roll the dice and see if you get lucky on the tour front, we did but make sure you read up on them in advance and make sure that the tour at least provides you with exactly what you want to do, at least then if you do pay over the odds you don’t mind because it was exactly what you wanted! DAILY NEWS AND EVENTS The ship provides both a daily news summary and daily events bulletin to your stateroom. Some of the Port guides were better than others, some including Maps and some without, but on balance they were informative and helpful and we carried them around with us to plan our days. SHIP TOURS We missed the announcement of the bridge/back of house tour which was a shame, would have loved to have done it. We did do the galley tour with executive chef Mark Oldroyd and he was brilliant, giving us loads of interesting information and introducing us to a lot of the chefs on duty at the time preparing our lunches – a really nice passionate guy, both about his work and about Cunard. I was impressed he knew every single member of staff personally – there are hundreds of them! One of the best parts about the galley tour was seeing it was clear that the chefs enjoy their work – they all looked very happy and cheerful in their work. It seemed to me as an outsider looking in that Cunard must treat their staff well. PHOTO GALLERY Simple review of the photographs – very nicely done, but hugely overpriced. We looked at the prices and decided that at the end of the week we’d choose ONE to have rather than several. If you want a selection of photos and an album, it will cost you several hundred pounds – for a few photos and an album! Even one picture we had cost me £25. It’s a lot of money for a picture. There isn’t a hard sell at least which is a plus point, there are photographers everywhere especially on formal nights but if you don’t want your picture taken, don’t queue up DANCING The Queens Room is a very large room where lots of activities happen – fencing classes, ballroom dancing classes, afternoon tea etc. It has a large dance floor open every evening for your dance pleasure. From a man with two left feet, the mixture of dancing on offer was amusing. From one Japanese couple taking it SUPER seriously and throwing themselves about with abandon to older couples moving slowly around the dance floor, there is always something interesting to see. Some of the people thought they were on strictly I think! There is also a ‘nightclub’ on deck 10 called Hemispheres which was more to my tastes, although I was often too full or tired to enjoy it for a long period of time! BARS There is the Queens Room, the Champagne Bar, the midships lounge and the Chart Room---all elegant and a nice place to relax with a drink. The service was excellent in all of the bars. One step up from these is the Commodore Club at Deck 10 forwards. One of my favourite bars of all time, you get a great view from the front of the ship and absolutely brilliant service - and some quite wonderful (if pricey) cocktails. This is offset slightly by the snacks and canapés you will be served to go with your drinks, which were varied and delicious. At the slightly more ‘rough and ready’ (although obviously, as it’s Cunard, not really rough and ready) end of the scale you have the Golden Lion pub opposite the Casino on Deck 2. This is a great little pub with the cheapest drinks on the ship (basically UK pub prices before the service charge) and some varied entertainment – live sports, quizzes, bingo and pianists/jazz bands – You’ll enjoy the Pub. They only do food for a short period of time (12-2) but it’s excellent pub grub, the fish and chips in particular was delicious. The quizzes were taken very seriously by some! LIBRARY This ship has the best library we have ever encountered aboard a cruise ship. Located on Decks 2 & 3, there are hundreds and hundreds of books that can be checked out. Even if you are not a reader visit this library. It is one of a kind and a beautiful space. DISEMBARKATION Smoother than Embarkation, bags outside the room the night before by 11pm, they were gone in a flash. The transfer to the airport in Venice took no time at all and the flight was again on time – once again slightly ruined by some of the ruder contingent aboard ship but I’d gotten fully used to their behaviour by then! SUMMARY I absolutely loved my first cruise on board the QV. The Ship is fantastic and the service is excellent. I enjoyed the formality of the ship and dressing up as an event for dinner. It’s not for everyone but we loved it. Next time I would have no hesitation in going with Cunard, although I think we’ll try a more casual cruise line to compare the two. We are still novices at this after all! The food was excellent, and the choice is bewildering at times. The Room was very nice and we had no complaints at all with our Steward who was attentive and serviced our room constantly without us ever actually seeing him! Downsides are the size and quality of the Television, the prices for the following services: Spa, Photos and Tours and of course back to the rudeness and attitude of some of the guests. I would have no hesitation in recommending the Queen Victoria or sailing aboard her again! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015

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