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Sail Date: November 2009
I think these reviews are generally a better reflection of the attitude of the cruiser, or the company they're with, than anything else. So in the interest of full and fair disclosure I have a fun-loving, do what I want attitude, and I'm ... Read More
I think these reviews are generally a better reflection of the attitude of the cruiser, or the company they're with, than anything else. So in the interest of full and fair disclosure I have a fun-loving, do what I want attitude, and I'm only 28 so I don't complain all that much. Not to mention I was traveling with one of my best friends and we also met some really great people on this ship that helped make this one of the best travel experiences of my life. This was not my first cruise, but was my first time on RC and I was very impressed. Our steward was friendly and did a fine job keeping the cabin clean. Our waitstaff (Rodrigo and Charlene) were absolutely the best and did everything to make our dining experience great. The bar staff was great, too. The first day I ordered a Hendrick's & Tonic at the Champagne Bar from Alfredo, the barkeep. I asked for a cucumber garnish, but they didn't have any cucumbers. However, the next day and every day thereafter Alfredo made sure to have a fresh supply of cucumbers for my pre-dinner cocktail. Jeandra was another great bartender, and was always made you feel welcome and appreciated. She could be found at the pool bar during the day or the Viking Crown late at night. It's amazing how by simply remembering your name and your drink they can make you feel so special. Perhaps it was all the time I spent in the bars that made the trip so great?

Was everything perfect? No. Dinner was disorganized the first night; the Cruise Director's awful jokes predictably fell flat; the band seemed to only know three songs; the juggler kept dropping things. But the staff was friendly and attentive, and I had the time of my life! I have already booked another cruise with them and am excited to embark next week.

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2009
We selected this cruise for the itinerary and it did not disappoint. Embarkation in Piraeus not great; port is hard to get to and ship's transfer is probably worth the money here. We have cruised Princess and Norwegian previously; this was ... Read More
We selected this cruise for the itinerary and it did not disappoint. Embarkation in Piraeus not great; port is hard to get to and ship's transfer is probably worth the money here. We have cruised Princess and Norwegian previously; this was our first cruise on RC. Vision was slightly smaller, but public rooms generally well kept up. Stateroom was small and in average repair, but we were comfortable.

Biggest negative was the dining. We expected second sitting to be at 815; it was moved back to 845, and the dining room opened 5-10 minutes late most nights. This is our first experience with fixed seating; we really enjoyed our table and the waiters were friendly and enthusiastic. Unfortunately they were also VERY SLOW, and didn't refill water regularly. Service took at least 2 hours all told, and we rarely even had our entrees before 10 p.m. For a port intensive itinerary, this is really unacceptable. We skipped a couple nights, because we just didn't have the energy for a two hour sit down, plus time after to digest. Food was a notch below Princess and Norwegian, but was adequate and occasionally quite good; Windjammer buffet was average. RC is trying to roll out "my time" dining. Suggestion: Don't do it on ships not built for it. Maitre d' would not move us to early seating and there was no availability for my time. Dining room appears to be short staffed and the my time arrangement is diverting energy from the fixed seating.

Because of the port intensive itinerary, we didn't do too much of the on board activities. (We did go to the Cruise Critic event!) They had some excellent headliners, but the production shows and destination lectures were so-so. Passenger service desk was not great; they would not split our on-board credit among the stateroom, didn't deliver luggage tags for disembarkation, and there was confusion about passport collection and return. Stateroom service was also so-so; we did not get our Cruise Compass a couple days, no shampoo in dispenser, torn sheets put on bed. We took one ship excursion, which went well, otherwise went independently (see port reviews below). Other than passport delays, disembarkation went smoothly.

Overall we enjoyed the trip because of the ports. The price was right, so we feel we got a good value for the money despite some of the shortcomings. We would probably take RC again only if we wanted a specific itinerary.

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Sail Date: September 2009
This is our 13th tour but our first on Royal Caribbean. Previous tours are on Celebrity

We took a bus from Athens Airport right to the door of Alexandros Hotel which we booked on Hotels.com. The bus was very reasonable price, easy and ... Read More

This is our 13th tour but our first on Royal Caribbean. Previous tours are on Celebrity

We took a bus from Athens Airport right to the door of Alexandros Hotel which we booked on Hotels.com. The bus was very reasonable price, easy and the bus driver told us when we arrived at the correct stop. We found the bus was the best way to get around Athens. The front desk staff suggested a local restaurant which had excellent choice of food, attentive staff and very reasonable prices. The food was probably the best tasting food we had on the entire trip! We made a big mistake in taking a group bus tour rather than a taxi as so many suggested. As much as we loved our tour guide and visiting the Acropolis, we probably wouldn't visit Athens again. We found it to be dirty with too many stray dogs that populated every site, street and sidewalk. The various sites crowded the ruins, it is not very enjoyable and the museums are spread all over Athens they are supposed to be excellent but you'll take a so much time getting to them and spend little time in them and they close very early. We took the three island cruise arranged by the hotel and enjoyed the wide range of experiences we had on each island. A great way to spend a day We took a taxi to Piraeus, and as a former teacher of history and politics I found the taxi driver (born near Toronto but returned to Athens as a child) the best tour guide of out three day in Athens and he predicted much of the economic trouble that Greece is in today. Limassol, Cyprus Unlike some who did not even get off the ship, we did and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We walked out through the terminal and took a local bus to the downtown area. We walked through many small streets, saw many beautiful table clothes, and interesting local shops. We walked the promenade along the shore and were very happy to spend a glorious afternoon in the city. Another time we would stay on the bus a few minutes longer and get off at the beach. We could have easily walked back to the town from there and caught the bus back to the terminal.

Israel Now, this was the highlight of the trip. We had 2 days there, one in Ashdod and one in Haifa. In Ashdod, we booked Yoram Mor (yoramor@gmail.com) in his private 7 passenger van for a tour to Galilee one day and Jerusalem. Yoram was really quite something - from the moment we stepped into his car, he was telling us about this and that, about the history of Irael, about the political scene in Israel, about anything and everything we wanted to know. He was genuinely interested in showing us as much of Israel as possible and at times, seemed more excited than us. He wants us to "experience" the sights rather than just see them and understand the history behind them. His experience of guiding over 20 years, his Bible knowledge and his openness to make the day fit as many specific sites we wanted to see was what made him an exceptional guide. To that end, he was very keen on us "walking the Galilee", and had us "tasting the fish that Peter used to fish and the food that people of Jesus' time used to eat". He resisted rushing us as much as possible. He had us read the beatitudes when we were at the Mount of Beatitudes, Jesus heals Peter's mother in law in that locale and warned us which of the sites are probably genuine or not, we sat on the stones of the white synagogue which was built around Jesus' time. We hada couple from Chicago share the tour and we were moved to tears several times as Yoram taught us and discussed ideas with us. We found him open and very helpful in understanding the Bible and the Jewish religion. We met Yoram at 7am each orning he was always punctual and brough t a supply of cold water, dates and fruit with him. We wanted to see the holocaust museum and the Museum of the Dead Sea Scroll. He was outstanding in showing us, telling us and allowing us to experience special impact of the place of the children in the Holocaust Museum. He brought us to the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Wailing Wall, the Jewish quarters, the Muslim quarters, the Via Dolorosa (tracing the footsteps Jesus took to Calvary), the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (where Jesus was crucified and his tomb). It was really very moving to we walk along the pavements that Christ could've been walking on. After a wonderful Yoram proceeded to take us back to Ashdod via a scenic route. Along the route, we passed by the place where David fought Goliath. What an amazing, hectic but definitely fantastic day.... Moreover Yoram is a professional photographer, and he not only gave me pointers on improving pictures, but he took several photos that were beyond my expertise and the end product was wonderful.

Cairo & Alexandria I have never experienced anything like Egypt and I doubt if one can ever really be prepared. They try to take advantage of tourists so everything has a different price abd you have to HAGGLE! Take American $$$$ in small bills I brought $200. In $1. If you buy anything for $3 and only have a 5, they say they don't have change and offer you up another product in exchange for change or just walk away. $1 will buy you 20 postcards. There are horror stories about the camels and paying to get on then having to pay more to get off but I don't know about this first hand so just beware. We booked through Decastro and had a wonderful guide. She not only had a PHD and a wealth of experience but she controlled the locals who tried to push in on us to sell a product. She know the fair price and would show us the product state the price and then ask if anyone wanted one? She arranged camel rides and tried to control those charging for pictures. We were very impressed that we were in a escorted convoy of many buses and vans and lots of police heavily armed. We were impressed that as much security was needed in the country. Unfortunately we had an American doctor and his family with us and he insisted his children needed a bathroom stop. The driver refused, argued and finally gave in. This meant we were separated from the convoy and only had a pickup truck with two armed police to escort us. We ended up stuck in traffic for hours and had to miss some sites that other saw. We ate in a 5 star restaurant but both my wife and I experienced a gastro- intestinal upset as a consequence as did several others that ate in Cairo. We went the Egyptian Museum, very busy, no A/C, over 1 million artifacts on display,I enjoyed the King Tut room but there are better display of Egyptian history in other countries. Nile is impressive, many bridges, top hotels and embassies along one side, but the city needs a major clean-up, which will never happen. Extreme poverty in areas, no garbage collection, we watch many through refuse into canals running into the Nile. With 18 million people, not much sewage treatment or garbage collection, many open fires, dust in the air Ciaro leaves a lasting impression on the olfactory region. Housing is in the Arab tradition of family built high rises, many unfinished apartments, sheep/goats herded in the middle of the city, as well as large area of urban farms. Pyramids are a must see, but be ready for major culture shock in Egypt. The port of Alexandria is sprawling and impressive. We arranged with another couple to take a local tour. The library is a highlight and the beaches looked inviting but we were warned they were heavily polluted. Worth a short visit to see Pompey's Column and a few other sites.

Rhodes One of our favorite ports on this cruise. We chose not to do a tour, but instead walk around the Old Town on our own. We went to the farthest gate into the town, and found a beautiful old temple ruin, the Temple of Venus, the Street of the Knights, the Grand Masters House, and Archaeology Museum. What a beautiful area, a world heritage site, with churches, towers, and medieval walls surrounding all. The shopping was some of the best on the cruise and the food was superb. We bought our silk Turkish carpet here and were glad we did. We would have paid more than twice in Kusadasi and even more in Istanbul. I signed the back and it was Fedexed to me in Canada arriving two days after our return. We also found in a small jewellery store in a small alley some wonderfully designed gold pendants that we saw nowhere else. We found the shops friendly and not aggressive. Rhodes is a beautiful walled city, easy walking, clean and friendly with a large pebble beach between the dock and the city gate. Do not pay for an excursion here. There is plenty to see and do on foot.

Kusadasi: Since we arranged a ten day bus tour out of Istanbul which included Ephesus and Cappadocia we spent our day in this port city walking the Bazaars and markets. We enjoyed he reduces pressure and met some wonderful shop owners and people. We shared a cup of tea with the shop keeper at a Jewelry store as well as in a carpet store. Even they knew we were not interested in purchasing any jewelry he was very friendly and just wanted to talk about hunting moose in Canada, winter Montreal where his cousin lived and the diffences between Turkey and Canada.

Istanbul. We Golden Hill Hotel Millet Caddesi, 104 34093 Istanbul, Turkey through Orion Tours. We booked a ten day tiur of western Turkey with and exception guide, Murat Caglar Cegil/ He had a masters degree in religious iconography and was very knowledgeable of Turkish history as well as Christianities history of the area. Our hotel is located in Millet Caddesi/Findikzade that is one of the central points and called as the old Istanbul or Sur içi. It is 15/20 minutes away from each point of the European side of Istanbul. We traveled a lot on the tram which was faster, cheaper and very easy to find your way around the city on. We wanted to see Istanbul on our own and this proved to be even easier than we imagined. This is because all the important tourist sights are concentrated right next to each other in the heart of the city and connected to the port via an inexpensive tram. To get to the nearest tram station simply walk outside of the port entrance up to the main road and take a left. A few blocks down you will see a Tram station in the center of the road by which a tram runs directly into town every 20 minutes or so. A one way ticket was only 1.60 Turkish Lira making further taxi service in Istanbul unnecessary. In the end we booked a one day tour with City Tours and had a wonderful guide that helped us understand the cultural history, the many changes and the present state of Turkey. If you are going to end your cruise in Istanbul do not leave Turkey without booking at least a sic day tour of eastern Turkey. It was friendly, the people were helpful open and we always felt very safe in the cities as well as the various area of the county we visited. We had many others on tours before say Turkey was their favorite destination Now I know why.

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Sail Date: September 2009
We have cruised on many ships before but this was our first with Royal Carib. We met many folks on the ship that are religiously devoted to this cruise line so I do hope I won't offend anyone if I sound a critical note here and there; in ... Read More
We have cruised on many ships before but this was our first with Royal Carib. We met many folks on the ship that are religiously devoted to this cruise line so I do hope I won't offend anyone if I sound a critical note here and there; in doing so, I hope to help other cruisers and also help the line improve where needed. That being said, I have mostly praise for the ship and the line. About 10-12 years ago, we did a similar itinerary, 18 nights, hitting the same ports as this itin, including more of the Greek Islands, such as Mykonos and Santorini,and Crete; however, at the last minute a spate of terrorism made the ship cancel the stops in Ashdod and Haifa, when we saw this itin, we jumped on it, and we got a great deal on the cruise and air from San Francisco.

So the itinerary, especially being able to spend 2 days each in Egypt and Israel,was for us the highlights of the trip. Through Cruisecritic Boards, we arranged for a group of 10 people for a two day tour in Israel;same driver picked us up in Haifa and Ashdod;only mistake I made was that I should have tried to arrange an overnight in Jerusalem,it is such a fascinating city; for Egypt, we joined with a veteran Cruisecrtic member who arranged for a two day tour of Egypt,with an overnight stay in Cairo-not only does that give you an evening in Cairo, but we also had the opportunity to see a little of Alexandria,(thanks Joannie T).No need to talk about those ports; just a word about the others, which we did with another Cruisecrtic member,who did all the work(thanks Barb). RHODES: lush,beautiful mediter Island:if knights and forts are your thing, you could well spend a day walking through the old city.The cruise line does a bus tour to LINDOS, another beautiful little town ruined by being over-touristed, I thought it was dreadful: however, it is well worth a visit if you walk up to the Acropolis or take a donkey-wonderful views of the Island, very interesting and to a great extent has a lot of intact remnants of what was once a grand place to live. KUSADASI's big pull is Ephesus, a wonderful remnant of a once powerful port city-best I have seen since the Roman Forum: ancient history buffs(but only buffs) might want to bypass Ephesus,(which we did) and visit the ruins at Didyma,Miletus and Pereus(spelling?).CYPRUS: another beautiful Medit island:cruise line does a bud tour that takes you to Omodos, a lovely village but again, overtouristed, though it does have a lovely monastery church, said to be over a 1,000 years old.We had hoped to drive through the Troodos mountains to visit some out of the way wineries and monasteries but our driver was afraid to go there as it rained in the area.

THE SHIP,SERVICE,ETC. Our air arrangements via Royal CArib and Delta were excellent:sfo-jfk-athens// return: istan-jfk-sfo: a better itin from west coast would have been direct to Athens, but at the price we got for air, who wants to argue?

LEAVING THE SHIP WHEN IN PORT: Of all the cruises we have done, (11), I never saw a better organized departure from the ship:those on the cruise line tours had to assemble in the show rooms, but for those of us who made their own arrangements, we were able to walk off minutes after the ship had been cleared.

Disembarcation at the end of the cruise was also excellent, efficient and fast. I thought quality and selection of food in all the venues we sampled was excellent. As has been stated in other reviews, the area for buffet dining, most expecially for breakfast, is just too small to provide seating, and there is much bumping and colliding with others-at times it was dreadful. Even more frustrating on days in port was the service in the main dining room that was just too slow, although they did have their own buffet there.Our inside stateroom(L) was fine,had everything we needed. I have never been on a cruise where I saw longer lines at the service desk;with some exceptions, the usual number of staff there was only two, sometimes one. I thought the lounge music was a bit below par but we did not attend any of the shows since we did all the ports, we were usually in bed by PM. One of the areas we had trouble was that communication between our travel agent and ship really broke down: I had to wait in lne for customer service three times because the staff could not find records of some of the ammenities we had been promised by the cruise line and/or our travel agent, even though I presented the staff with a printed confirmation from the travel agent. They were either unable or unwilling to contact the agent; in the end, I did get what I had been promised-pre-paid gratuities(which works well) and $ 200 credit for the cabin. I thought the ship was spotless, everything had the feel of being new; we enjoyed the 2 swimming pools, spas and gym; I noticed that the covered pool did not attract the large number of cruisers as the outdoor pool.

SUMMARY: Wonderful Itinerary, beautiful ship, attentive staff, qualify, well prepared food.

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Sail Date: August 2005
Jewel is simply a beautiful ship, so much space we never saw everything available. We cruised the Baltic stopping in Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg and Tallinn.

Embarkation in Harwich was smooth and quick, we ... Read More

Jewel is simply a beautiful ship, so much space we never saw everything available. We cruised the Baltic stopping in Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg and Tallinn.

Embarkation in Harwich was smooth and quick, we were onboard and in our cabin within 45mins of arriving at the car park.

Our cabin, on the stern, has a spacious balcony holding two chairs and two loungers. Loads of storage and although no bath, the shower was very good indeed.

We were part of a Cruise Critic group of over 60 people from around the world, we met up on arrival and in addition to a great Meet and Mingle had got together for sort of activities, including Dancing lessons, horse racing and the Mr Sexy Legs competition. Others also attended the Murder Mystery and Quest together.

The food available in each of the restaurants was good, Chops was particularly excellent, as expected. Service in the cabins, bars and food areas was friendly and efficient. Our waiter Nimesh and assistant waiter, Troy, were both great.

Our cabin assistant, Angela Wilson, was marvellous, looking after us very well throughout the cruise.

Leaving the ship back in Harwich was as simple as it could have been. All in all an excellent cruise with brilliant people and so many new friends made.

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