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2,164 Royal Caribbean Southampton Cruise Reviews

I had back surgery after the cruise which is why this is so late The Navigator holds 3200 passengers. If you like going to a Las Vegas resort this cruise is for you. Everything is crowded and hectic. If you are used to a traditional cruise ... Read More
I had back surgery after the cruise which is why this is so late The Navigator holds 3200 passengers. If you like going to a Las Vegas resort this cruise is for you. Everything is crowded and hectic. If you are used to a traditional cruise this ship is not for you. I was in the military where I had to wait in line with 1000 others to eat and I can't imagine paying to have this service We are veteran cruisers with at least 15 cruises completed have been on RCL, Princess, Crystal This has been over more than 30 years. The embarkation was flawless. The total time it took was 15 or 20 minutes. We elected to board the ship directly after arriving at Heath row. RCL offered an overnight stay for $750. We decided that to ensure arriving on time was too big of a price to pay. We booked a mini suite and it was worth the extra money. The cabin attendant was perfect . He left took care of flawlessly. The room was large and decorated in good taste. The food on board was plentiful. That is the only good thing I can say. Examples are-lamb chops with gravy. Fried chicken with gravy Prime rib which was sliced roast beef. Baked beans over toast. Need I say more. After three days we never used The Windjammer. The lines were huge with people tripping over others. Table had to be shared with others with the usual quest question " is Cleveland near Chicago" Breakfast we ate in the dining room, had room service or at Seattle's Best on deck five where you can get a sweet roll or a croissant. The ice show was excellent. It was hard to get tickets so I recommend getting them as early as possible. The floor shows were above average. I feel that with the large number of passengers it is possible to have better entertainment. The only criticism is that the comedian was for the British passengers as many of the jokes I didn't understand. We took limited number of shore trips so I can't comment on them. The few we took were O.K. The usual surly French who are supposed to help. but don't. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
Entered Southampton dock gate 8 at 2.45 dropped of luggage parked car on board by 3.20. I think they started embarkation about noon or even before. Long stay car parking you enter by dock gate 8 other pax enter by dock gate 10 but if you ... Read More
Entered Southampton dock gate 8 at 2.45 dropped of luggage parked car on board by 3.20. I think they started embarkation about noon or even before. Long stay car parking you enter by dock gate 8 other pax enter by dock gate 10 but if you walk to cruise terminal and quite a few people did then they would only let you in through dock gate 8 met someone who had to walk from gate 10 to 8 they were not happy. At end of cruise everyone leaves by gate 10. Cannot say it was the best cruise I'd been on mainly because everywhere was so crowded, I expect the ship was designed for the sun so when pax are not on deck the bars and the Windjammer cafe crowded. Cruise did not get off to a smooth start, cabin steward did not put a copy of Cruise Compass in cabin so had no idea of time for muster or evening entertainment. I eventually met the cabin steward about 7pm ask if I could have a copy of the Cruise Compass he then informs me he wants to `do` the room, found this a bit strange as I was going to get ready for Dinner, shower etc. On the second day he also wanted to do the room at about 7, I then realized he thought I was on first sitting explained this was not the case and no more problems. Thought muster quick and smooth. Dinner first night I had requested a table for 8 or 10 but ended up on one for 4 but only me and an elderly couple explained to head waiter and was transferred second night to a table for 10, pleasant enough people. Bfast/lunch Windjammer busy few seats but no real queuing good choice of food but had to hunt around for my selection, oh and to run out of Baked Beans for Bfast on last two days, unforgivable. Being a solo cruiser Lunch turned into musical chairs, starter on one table go for main my starter plates cleared someone in seat so found another, go for sweet same again, then coffee same again, you have to laugh. Didn't enjoy dinners in the Dining room table companions were OK I suppose, but service was oh so slow. Went to Windjammers last 3 nights what a difference to Bfast/lunch such a relaxed atmosphere and no one took my seat, I also though more choice and potatoes & vegetables, in the Dining room our table virtually had to beg for veg, could not believe first night had the chicken breast came with sauce and ONE piece of Broccoli. Thought that all the food was tasty and really enjoyed the ham cheese and tomato croissants in the Cafe Promenade. The incident at Stavanger..... Got off early when I came back they had to move the ship a few feet forward so a short wait no problem but I had just entered the ship loud crash and the gangway fell to the ground behind me luckily no one injured especially me. Enjoyed the experience of a big ship but think 3000+ pax too many for me. Left ship 8.30 on time very smooth operation, found luggage but took a while as was light blue which was far end row but row not marked. Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
Ok I was lucky to be invited onto Liberty of the Seas for the inaugural celebrations. I was excited as I have never been on a Freedom Class ship before. I expected it to be like the Voyager but alot bigger and with loads more facilities. ... Read More
Ok I was lucky to be invited onto Liberty of the Seas for the inaugural celebrations. I was excited as I have never been on a Freedom Class ship before. I expected it to be like the Voyager but alot bigger and with loads more facilities. I boarded the ship at 1:30pm and went to my stateroom. I was lucky to have an E2 Balcony which was lovely and new. The whole ship smelt new and looked pristine. I found my way around very easily as the layout of certain areas is very much like the Voyager. I decided to drop my bags and take my camera to look at the ship. I started from the top and worked my way down. The Chapel was actually very nice and not OTT which I had thought it would be. The setting would be ideal for a wedding or renewing vows. The Spa was very nice and had all the top of the range equipment as had the gym. The mens sauna and steam area was very well laid out and bright. The boxing ring which is outside the entrance to the changing areas is a novel addition. The H2O kids pool is a really good idea and such fun. After that I decided to go to the Windjammer for Lunch. The Windjammer looked great . Its much better than the Voyager and has so much choice. Burgers,Pasta,huge hot buffet with the best roast beef Ive had at sea. Everything sparkled and was such a nice area to have lunch in. All of the staff were in their new uniforms and were all very happy. I then continued my exploring . The whirlpools that hang over the sides are cool. Although they were not filled with water at the time. They are a nice little feature. The surrounding area has lovely wooden furniture to relax in and the Solarium pool is very inviting. The main pool and whirlpools are very well laid out. There were lots of loungers and the new feature on these is an integrated pillow. They are alot better than the current loungers on many of the ships. The Flowrider(surf Simulator) is a fun thing to do or watch. The mini golf and rock climbing wall are the same as on other RCI ships. The Ocean Adventure at sea is amazing . So many things for the children to do. Their teens disco looks better than the adult one!! All the latest gaming machines and gadgets will keep the children happy for at least a week. Studio B is the same as the Voyager and is a nice thing to do at least once and the ice shows are fantastic. The Royal Promenade is very long and is full of cool places. The Cafe Promenade for Pizza slices and snacks. The Vintages for a nice glass of wine and then theres Ben And Jerrys for a nice afternoon ice cream. Plenty of shops to browse and a mens hairdressers. The pub is a nice meeting place day or night. The Champagne bar is also a nice place to stop for an hour or so. The Main dining room is very elegant and nothing has really been changed which is nice as I love the dining room in this style. Chops Grill and Portofino are nice and intimate for that special dining experience. Pharoahs palace is the same as other ships. The Diamond/Diamond plus Concierge lounge is very nice and new. Could be a bit small given the number of D and D+ members these days but still a nice place to visit if you have reached that level. There was one stateroom of each type available for viewing so I decided to do them all. The Presidential Suite was nice but I preferred the Royal Suite as its more open plan and airy. The Promenade Family stateroom is great for a family on a budget and plenty of space. The normal Promenade is great value for money if you cant stretch to an outside but don't want an inside. The reduced mobility inside is great for clients with special needs and offers all the proper equipment such as adapted showers and hand rails etc... The outsides are very nice and spacious. The insides are the same layout as the outsides without the window. The E2 balcony was lovely and very spacious and well laid out. I had the E2 and it was ideal. All staterooms have the flat panel TV's which add to the look of the staterooms. The decor is also getting a bit more conservative which I welcome. I used the Online at sea but even in Southampton port it was crazy slow. I wish they could do something about that as its frustrating. Anyway after my 3 hour tour I headed back to my stateroom and got ready for dinner. On our night it was one open seating at 730pm which was a one off for this launch event. I got a table for two with my colleague. The food was excellent and plenty of choice. The only thing which I could comment on would be the long delay between soup and main course. It could have been a bit quicker. After that we went to the Viking crown lounge which had a band playing. It is a nice place to meet everyone before hitting the night club.At 945pm we were all invited to watch the fireworks display on the main pool deck. It was amazing and was accompanied by music. It was one of the most impressive I have ever seen and lasted for 8 minutes. At 11pm we went to the night club and it was amazing , very well laid out and plenty of space even though it was packed. I have never seen a nightclub that full on a ship. Maybe it was because of the type of event that it was. The DJ was brilliant and the music was UK and European which was great also. We stayed until 3am. The next morning I woke up after having the best nights sleep in a long time. The beds were perfect. It was then time to hit the Windjammer for breakfast. Again alot of choice and one thing you cant beat Royal Caribbean on is their American breakfasts. It was really nice and tasty. I was surprised by the lack of queues also. So all in all I was very impressed with the Liberty and Royal Caribbean seem to be going in the right direction.They are upgrading certain things and raising the standards its the little things that matter. My photos can be viewed at http://liberty200734.spaces.live.com/ Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
This was 'The Navigator of the Seas' first 14 night cruise into the Mediterranean entitled 'Mediterranean Treasures' May 5 to May 19. Embarkation processing was efficient and smooth at Southampton. Our luggage was ... Read More
This was 'The Navigator of the Seas' first 14 night cruise into the Mediterranean entitled 'Mediterranean Treasures' May 5 to May 19. Embarkation processing was efficient and smooth at Southampton. Our luggage was being delivered to our cabin at the same time as we negotiated this vast ship to find our cabin! An excellent start. We did some unpacking and then decided to visit the Windjammer Restaurant for 'embarkation snacks'. An absolutely superb choice of hot/cold food for a first meal. In no way could the choice be called snacks. We then went on to meet our cabin steward who was excellent in every way. He had a great sense of humor, politeness and a genuine interest in us. This quality of service was maintained throughout the whole cruise. The first hiccup occurred at dinner in the main restaurants on the first night. We had asked for 2nd sitting at 8.30. There was a problem and we didn't get into the restaurant until 9.00 pm and the service after that was slow and very poor. We advise asking for 1st sitting at 6.00 pm. The efficiency of the service improved after the first night. The quality of the food in the evening restaurants was only just adequate. All meals are served 'plated up' and in a 'designer' presentation ie a little squiggle of gravy or sauce in a artistic fashion. Virtually no vegetables as the British would like. A lot of people abandoned the main restaurants and went for the Windjammer Buffet Restaurant on Deck 5. A huge choice of excellent food where you could mix and match, choose whatever you desired and go back for more. Overall, this is an amazing ship. Kept beautifully clean and hygienic. Pros: Very smooth cruising. You forget you are in the middle of an ocean. Nice cabins (recommend you pay the extra for a balcony). Superb choice of food in the Windjammer restaurant for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and even dinner. Brilliant ice show extravaganza. Not to be missed. Very helpful crew. Cons: Ship too crowded (3,200 passengers) for the space available. The American tipping culture. DON'T pay for tips in advance. DON'T allow your onboard account to be automatically debited for tips. Request a form from the Customer Services Desk to signify that you may tip as you please. The pathetic alcohol policy. You find a nice bottle of local wine in Barcelona or elsewhere that you would like to enjoy on your balcony. On getting back on board all baggage is X-rayed ( Good for safety and feeling of security). However, if your bottle of wine or spirits is spotted then it is confiscated until the last day of the cruise. There is an alarming group of heavyweights waiting to take and store your alcohol. All designed to make you spend more on board. Overall a good cruise experience but P & O do better for the British. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
We travelled to Southampton on the Friday evening and stayed at the Holiday Inn. Car parking/luggage drop off was long winded even though RCI stated 'please do not arrive before 2 p.m.'. We arrived at 1.15 and it took 45 mins to ... Read More
We travelled to Southampton on the Friday evening and stayed at the Holiday Inn. Car parking/luggage drop off was long winded even though RCI stated 'please do not arrive before 2 p.m.'. We arrived at 1.15 and it took 45 mins to drop off cases and get a parking space (even though we advised disabled driver the allocated spaces are 'normal' size). This means the less mobile traveller has to be able to walk to rear of vehicle. We took advantage of the online checkin which speeded up getting on board however we had to wait for assistance as the ramps to the ship are quite steep and we had a manual chair. By the time we got on board it was nearly 3.30 so we were able to go to our suite on the ninth deck. We had paid a bit more for a suite as opposed to the balcony cabin we would normally have chosen and this was to prove its worth as our suite became a haven from the crowded public places. We booked the 6.30 sitting and just as well since on average it was around 8.15 by the time coffee was served. The food was good but not fantastic (compared with Celebrity and P&O). The first evening we tried the Chef's Special 'Alaskan Herb Crusted Cod' - this was a great piece of fish on a bed of rice with a full spring onion on top and nothing else! By day three we eventually got a portion of veg/pots with the main courses although one night these consisted of mushy peas and garlic mushrooms!?! Despite the fact they knew my husband used a wheelchair our table was on the front of one of the balcony and therefore involved us having to ask people to move to get past. On other cruises we have been allocated a table near the entrance or on the main 'floor' so this situation has never arisen before. When I asked about an easier location I was told there were no suitable tables available to move to even though several tables near to the entrance were never used during the entire trip. My husband has never experienced seasickness (his seventh cruise) until this trip. He wasn't actually sick ... when I went to the Windjammer I found that a large number of passengers were 'not well'. Smaller ships are definitely better from this aspect because we have experienced a force seven crossing the Med in a ship half the size of this one with no ill effect although we had to hold onto the rails. There are two major problems with RCI - they allow smoking virtually everywhere except the food areas. Even though they are in Europe where most public spaces are smoke free, you will have to endure a smoke haze and stale smoke. Why can't they at least have the Promenade smoke free as there are several other bars throughout the ship that smokers could use. If not then their literature should at least include a warning. Secondly even though it was not yet school holidays those children on board were allowed to 'run wild'. They were allowed to run around bar areas, the casino, the theatre etc; they played in the lifts, the library and people who hoped to have breakfast in their cabin (including us) found the menus had disappeared or every item on them was ticked so either you didn't get breakfast or you had a trolley full of food you didn't want. I found it disturbing that they were allowed to play machines in the casino (in Vegas you can't even enter a casino if you are under 21) and when I spoke to the staff I was told they couldn't do anything in case the parents made a complaint against them! The staff were friendly. The food adequate in the restaurant, better in the Windjammer but at these prices why should you have to serve yourself! Nearly everyone complained about the toast - basically its rock hard because the bread is very thinly sliced, its made early morning and put in a warming oven until the waiter brings it to the table by which time it is only suitable for use if you are having pate. The fruit juices are also limited orange, tomato, V8, cranberry and PRUNE! On all our other cruises there have been buses provided free of charge to the local town centre but RCI charge $4.95 per person each way. Not a big problem if you know in advance, but with the number of stops on a 14 day cruise this can make a hole in your spending. Would we take another cruise? Definitely but its back to Celebrity or P&O as the prices are virtually the same but they are five star and this is three star. However if you are a smoker it will be heaven. If you have children and want to let them 'do their own thing' then you will have a wonderful time. Bigger is not better. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
This was our first Royal Caribbean cruise, having sailed on P&O previously, but with a three generation party we were tempted by the facilities on offer on the Navigator. First impressions were good - boarding, even on such a large ... Read More
This was our first Royal Caribbean cruise, having sailed on P&O previously, but with a three generation party we were tempted by the facilities on offer on the Navigator. First impressions were good - boarding, even on such a large ship, was effortless, and the ship's public areas were clean and well-appointed. Our cabin was spacious and seemed to provide more for the money than P&O. A high point for us was the gym. It had 20 treadmills, which were well-maintained , and even repaired en route, plus cycles, cross trainers and weights. We also signed up for a programme of spin classes, which were among the best we've been to on land or sea. The ship was large and had clearly been filled by discounting. We spent a lot of time in our spacious cabin as it was a haven from the overcrowding in the public areas, where tattooed obese smokers took up all the available space. One evening at around 11pm we tried every public room on the ship to get a seat and could not find one. The large ship also moved alarmingly in not particularly rough seas. The Captain informed us that the Bay of Biscay would have rough seas in 30 knot winds, which didn't alarm us too much, but we were all very seasick, despite having seen much worse conditions on smaller ships. Catering was variable. Dinner in the main dining room had clearly been formulated with American customers in mind, so coffee came before the dessert, and our waitress was efficient but insincerely familiar. Some nights we would be treated to the waiters singing, a feature which increased in frequency as tipping time came closer. Some people clearly like this sort of thing but we prefer to finish our meal quietly. Food was plentiful, but managed to be both bland and salty at the same time. Grilled meat was OK, but anything else was too ambitious. Breakfast and buffet lunches in the Windjammer displayed a huge variety, and crowd management was very efficient. We preferred room service breakfast, which gave us the chance to enjoy our large cabin, but was a little haphazard in what actually turned up. On the subject of drinks, RCI has a very American nanny state approach to alcohol consumption which is probably motivated as much by economics as concern for our safety. I suspect many British cruisers enjoy a sundowner in their cabin, but it is not possible to buy spirits for on board consumption and a team of heavies are poised at every port to relieve passengers of any on shore purchases. I'm afraid we resorted to smuggling, but being treated like a criminal when you've spent a five figure sum to go on holiday is not on. Service on board was disappointing to anyone used to the imperial style of P&O. Our cabin steward cleaned the room but that was it, and bar staff clearly hated being out of the Caribbean. Bar tariffs include 15% service charge but that doesn't stop waiters hanging around intimidatingly for tips. Fortunately on board prices in dollars made them cheap for sterling tourists this year. It's very hard to get out of the compulsory tipping regime. We wanted to tip our waiter and steward - they have a tough job - but we didn't feel the need to tip our head waiter. However unless you opt out of all tips you have to tip everyone RCI thinks you should. Be prepared for this or carry a load of dollars or sterling in cash, as cashing cheques on board is not possible. A number of other reviewers have commented on having to pay for shuttle buses into ports. We found taxis, where you were allowed to use them (and sometimes there was a shuttle bus monopoly) were cheaper and, like the alcohol policy, showed RCI's aim is to fill the ship as cheaply as possible then whack on as many extras as they can. For such a young style ship children's facilities were really poor. Our children (14 and 12) hung around with a gang of others, but never returned to the kids' club, where activities were poorly organized by badly motivated staff. Perhaps we're too traditional for RCI but we were very disappointed overall. The ship is set up to take Americans round the Caribbean, so the staff clearly hate a season in rainy Europe, and there is not enough space inside on bad weather days. We missed being treated as special and we'll be back on P&O next year Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
We are a family of four including a 12 and 13 year old who shared a basic interior cabin. Embarkation was quick and, unlike with P&O, did not involve a lot of hanging around in a waiting area before boarding. Our cabin was ... Read More
We are a family of four including a 12 and 13 year old who shared a basic interior cabin. Embarkation was quick and, unlike with P&O, did not involve a lot of hanging around in a waiting area before boarding. Our cabin was well-appointed, pleasantly decorated, clean and with enough space for all our clothes/cases. We attended a welcome meeting for parents and children who wished to use the Kids Club facilities but it was somewhat disappointing that the staff member did not seem to know what he was supposed to be talking to us about, and had to be reminded by another member. It was all a bit wishywashy and badly organized. I did not like the room we met in either - it was dark and reminded me of a nightclub. Nevertheless, the children stayed at the club and we went to explore the rest of the ship. We saw that there was an enormous amusement arcade within the Kids Club area with plenty of scope to extract extra funds from children and teens (but maybe that is me being cynical). First impressions of the Navigator public spaces are good. They are spacious, clean and well-maintained. During the whole trip I saw staff members constantly cleaning and maintaining public areas. In the Windjammer on deck 11 staff were always quick to clear tables for guests, and often when I was eating a snack I was asked by a waiter if I'd like a cup or tea or other drink prepared and brought to me. This was much appreciated, especially if it was a busy time. We had chosen the main sitting time and for the first evening this was 6.30. There were many delays which meant that we missed the first show of the cruise. Fortunately, subsequent evenings were much better organized. One of the high spots for us were the ice-skating. We got to take part every sea-day and I even had a lesson (no fee). I was able to practice several times over the cruise and we all improved our skating techniques. There were two different ice-shows, each one shown four times during each week of the cruise. A real treat. The second show involved an element of competition between each half of the audience which I did not like and felt was not necessary. The skaters were marvelous and I clapped until my hands hurt. The climbing wall was another (literally) high spot, particularly for me. I do not like heights but was determined to have a go. Well, I had three goes and got to the top to ring that bell twice, once wearing a dress! We also played golf, dodgeball, roller-bladed, and used the basketball pitch to shoot hoops. We did not use the bars, pubs, gym, beauty salons, internet cafe, adult pool area, casino, or Johnny Rockets, so cannot comment on them. We did not go on any excursions either, partly because of the expense, partly because we realized that we could be more flexible if we did our own thing. Sadly, after the first evening, the children did not return to the kids club either, they felt that the staff were not really interested. I was most disappointed because last year on the Aurora and Oriana (P&O) they had had such a wonderful time that we hardly saw them. I felt that it was telling that on each of the daily kids club activity card that we received, there was a note saying words to the effect that "in the event that no-one turns up during the first 15 minutes of an activity it will be cancelled". Hmmm, this tells me that there is a major problem with the way the teens kids club is being organized and run if they have to write that. It was the only black spot on an otherwise wonderful experience. Sadly, it is a major reason why we may return to P&O next year. I have asked my kids what they would prefer, RC or P&O, and overwhelmingly they opted for P&O because the 'Youthies' who run them are so obviously dedicated and committed to ensuring that the teens have a great experience i.e. they have a full and imaginative timetable of events from 9.30 in the morning until midnight every day. Parents are sometimes invited to participate too. They get to spend time safely with other young people of their own age, and learn and grow, develop relationships and friendships, be independent of us, and have an unforgettable holiday. We never had a problem with lifts (other people have mentioned having to wait for ages) but this may be because we rarely used them. We did not like being charged for shuttle buses (P&O don't), but this was only an issue 3 times out of eight ports, and two of those times we walked in to town anyway. It was irritating to be charged $35 dollars on the one occasion (for the four of us) to get into town because we were not permitted to walk through the dock area. We attended most of the evening shows and although not all of them were 'our cup of tea' we did appreciate the skill and effort of the participants. I attended most of the dining room breakfasts and enjoyed chatting to new people every day. Because there were so many Scottish people on this particular cruise due to it being at the beginning of the Scottish summer holidays (consequently loads of kids too), we actually ran out of porridge three days in! I switched to Granola for a couple of days. I have to marvel at the waiting staff's ability to remember everyones order and who ordered what, particularly at breakfast time. I also liked the greeter at the entrance to the dining room (Judith) who ensured that I was seated where I wanted to be. There was always a member of staff stationed at the entrance to the Windjammer, reminding people to use the hand cleanser and directing us either left or right. Disembarkation was quick and painless. We were off and in our car driving out of the car-park within half an hour of our color being called. This included the complicated stuffing all the suitcases into the boot (they seemed to have expanded over the two weeks), which took ages! Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
Having recently returned from 14 nights aboard the Navigator of the Seas we are already thinking about another cruise with Royal Caribbean. This time we will steer clear of not only English school holidays but remember that Scotland and ... Read More
Having recently returned from 14 nights aboard the Navigator of the Seas we are already thinking about another cruise with Royal Caribbean. This time we will steer clear of not only English school holidays but remember that Scotland and Ireland finish school 2 weeks before England. There were some 700+ children on the ship. Not that they bothered us - except waiting for lifts which they seemed to enjoy pressing buttons in. The staff on board Navigator are superb, our state attendant (Eliza) was wonderful. We had a cabin with a balcony and enjoyed sitting relaxing. The excursions were incredibly well organized - although our guide in Rome could have been better. Embarkation and disembarkation was smooth. The shows were very good, the ice show was incredible. We were on the late sitting for dinner, this would not have been a problem except for 1 lady on our table, who practically every meal sent at least one course back (our poor waiter - he bent over backwards but he could do nothing right for her) I was on a low fat diet !!! and they even ensured I had blackberries every night for sweet (I only asked once) Of course the lady then wanted them with English custard. This was the only down side to our holiday, as obviously meals took a long time and it was sometimes 10.50 p.m. when we left the restaurant. We visited the Italian restaurant (cover charge) one evening and it was incredible I urge everyone to try it. Bay of Biscay was awful going out but smooth on our return. Will I travel from Southampton again - i am unsure, but certain of one thing I will cruise with Royal Caribbean again. Cleanliness was superb. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
Navigator 3 night cruise Southampton to Cork review We travelled down to Southampton on 1 June, the day before. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, about 10 minutes drive from the docks. We arrived at the dock at about 10.30 and were ... Read More
Navigator 3 night cruise Southampton to Cork review We travelled down to Southampton on 1 June, the day before. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, about 10 minutes drive from the docks. We arrived at the dock at about 10.30 and were guided to the car parking area. We dropped of our luggage (no tipping needed in Southampton) and walked to the terminal (less than 5 minutes walk). At that time it was, to say the least, still very quiet. There were no queues whatsoever, plenty of check in desks open. We had done the online check in so it all went very swiftly. We were told to go to the waiting area with a group 1 boarding ticket and that boarding would start at about 11.30. My sister and her husband and my parents had a bit more difficulty checking in. As this was a cruise within the EU, they didn't have a passport, just an ID card. The ladies at check in didn't quite know how to sort it out, but eventually managed. Cake, cookies and refreshments were provided in the waiting area. Boarding didn't start until 11.45, priority passengers got to on first, then it was our turn, group 1! We were onboard by midday! Cabins weren't available until 1pm, but we managed to drop of our hand luggage in the cabin straight away. Straight away we noticed something different about this cruise: where were all the Americans??? The only accents we heard were British ones, and we could tell by the drinks that were being ordered it was a distinctly British crowd. It felt a bit weird, not what we're used to. We had booked an inside cabin. This was our first 'real' inside cabin. We had a promenade cabin on one of our previous cruises. The cabin was tiny compared to the promenade cabin and balcony cabins! To get into bed, you had to sit at the end of it and just crawl up as there was no space to walk round the sides due to the desk and sofa being to close to it. Our cabin steward was Marlon, he was great! Provided us with bath robes and was really friendly (even checked with my husband if the birthday decorations were to our satisfaction). One thing was missing though from our room: the big blue binder with all the phone numbers, room service details, … We heard from other cruisers they didn't have one either. Still no idea why it wasn't there. The other disappointing thing was that there was no camera on the bow of the ship that was shown on the cabin tv. Inside passengers had no way of finding out what the weather was like outside (there was a cam on the promenade though). The new bedding is great, soooo soft. We slept wonderfully all 3 nights. The ship is very good condition. Throughout the cruise, small areas were cornered off for maintenance and a spot of painting. The covers on the loungers in the solarium had seen better days, but that's the only thing that wasn't in pristine condition. Due to UK licensing laws, the general store was closed throughout the cruise, which was a shame. We had dinner in the main dining room every night. The food was delicious, especially the fillet mignon and duck. They always asked if we wanted more of anything and were very fast in provided seconds. Service again was excellent and our head waiter was the best one we've ever had. One night, chilled strawberry bisque was one of the appetizers. I loved it so much I wanted it as a desert too, so our waiter quickly went to check if it hadn't been chucked out yet. Luckily it hadn't and he came back with 2 extra portions. 2 things however were seriously disappointing. The wine list! We don't know what happened, but it was just 1 piece of paper with a very very limited list, not what we're used to. We asked at reception why it was so limited and were told it was because when they're in Europe they can't always get hold of the same suppliers (or something along those lines) hence the limited list. Personally I find this hard to believe. The other thing that as different was that there was no salad course, it was just listed under appetizers. I'm sure we could have asked for it, but it was odd that it wasn't standard as usual. Entertainment seemed more limited than on longer cruises. We caught one of the production shows and really enjoyed it (it's the ballroom dancing one). We also went to see the ice show and as usual it was amazing! There were 2 parades, didn't completely watch them, but had fun. Didn't go to the captain's champagne reception, but heard it was very quiet compared to other cruises. We were still in port, so I guess a lot of people were still on shore. Arriving in Cobh. I think disembarkation started about 15 minutes late, not that it mattered too much for us as we were just planning a leisurely day in Cobh. The Cobh Maritime Music Festival happened to be on that weekend. There was a pipe band competition going on, which could be seen from the ship (great sailing into the harbor and being welcomed by pipe bands!). The weather was sunny and warm, and the atmosphere in Cobh was delightful and very welcoming. There were even posters in town that said: "Come see the great ocean liner". We just did a walking tour, vaguely based on the Titanic Heritage Trail. We walked all the way to the old cemetery (with the graves of the Lusitania victims) which is a lot further than they make you believe it is, but well worth the walk. Formal night: no shortage of champagne on the promenade. Even though this was a short cruise, it was nice to see that people had still made an effort to dress up properly. There was no midnight buffet on this cruise. This was my family’s first cruise and it would have been nice if they could have seen the grandeur of it all. We had 1 sea day. The weather in the morning was gorgeous and we just spent it being lazy on deck. There were a couple of chair hogs by the solarium pool, neatly folded towels with a book. I felt like removing them, but gave the benefit of the doubt. More than 2 hours later, the towels and books were still there. It wasn’t busy in the solarium, but I did feel that the crew should have discouraged people from chair hogging. Breakfast that day in the Windjammer was very busy as the dining room wasn’t serving breakfast that day. The dining room did have a brunch from 10.30 until 2pm. We had lunch at Johnny Rockets on the sea day. We did have to wait about 20 minutes for a table. I guess with it being a short cruise, a lot of people wanted to try it out. Disembarkation in Southampton was very efficient. We were allowed to stay in our cabins until 8am. According to our time sheet we were supposed to go off the ship at 8.30. Our color was actually called out at about 8am, but we stayed on a bit longer and left just after 9am. It’s nice that you don’t have to go through immigration, so it all went very smoothly. We all had a fantastic time, my sister and her husband were afraid it might not be their cup of tea, but wanted to give it go. They are now looking into doing a cruise to Norway, they were surprised they liked it a lot better than they expected. My parents too had a great time, but I’m not sure if they’ll venture on a cruise on their own. They don’t speak/understand English that well so it isn’t that easy for them. We loved being onboard again, but were disappointed that some of the usual things were missing (the wine list, salad course, midnight buffet, blue information folder in the cabin, …) and felt that because it was a short cruise they limited some of the services. Can’t wait to book another cruise (well, we have 2 booked as it is)! Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
Having just returned from a 14 day cruise with an 11 year old daughter, I would say that for anyone wanting a fantastic all round family holiday, this could not have been better unless you are looking for things to criticize. Everything ... Read More
Having just returned from a 14 day cruise with an 11 year old daughter, I would say that for anyone wanting a fantastic all round family holiday, this could not have been better unless you are looking for things to criticize. Everything was perfect because we all had fun. Yes, it was busy but you cannot expect anything else at the height of the school holidays. Yes, there was a huge range of people from different professional levels and backgrounds but when you have a family this matters not and when you go on a ship like this, what else would you expect???? Children can attend kids club if they wish and those who did, had the time of their lives starting early in the morning until 1.00 am in the morning where they chose to do so. It was our daughter's first cruise and she was a bit apprehensive thinking she might be bored!! Now, she does not want to go on any other type of holiday and is eagerly awaiting us to book our next one. Embarkation and disembarkation were both excellent. We were on board by 11.30am and in our room and unpacked by 2pm (suitcases all arrived by 1.30pm). Excursions were slick and well organized. The captain even left our anchor behind at one port rather than delay or postpone our day in Rome. Although we had to be diverted to an alternative port one day, the staff pulled out all the stops to ensure that excursions went to plan and that our day was not disrupted more than necessary. Children are catered for in all ways whatever they chose to do. But for those who take children out of school to avoid core holiday time, I would not expect it to be as good but that is only to be expected. In terms of service, we could not fault it. Even to the point that our room attended came off duty when our daughter locked herself out of our room. Cleanliness - well it was better than anyone could have wished for and the bed was so comfortable, it was bliss!! The bathroom with its shower screen, washing line for drying bikinis etc. and loads of storage space was more than sufficient for a 14 day cruise. My only complaint would be the whining of people who seemed to be in pursuit of something which you would never expect on such a cruise. Yes, it is a very big ship with fun to be had all day every day if that is what you want but that is how it is sold when you chose your holiday, so you cannot expect anything different. You can participate in the fun or observe if you wish but equally you can get away from it if you want to because the ship is so large and you can easily find peace and quiet if that is what you want. We had heard criticism of lifts being difficult to catch due to kids "riding in them". This was not the case for us (and there were hundreds of children of all ages on board). We never had to wait for a lift and, on the odd occasion where children did anything likely to cause annoyance, their behavior was soon checked by the staff who did not stand for shouting, running or causing passengers any disruption. We never had to queue for rock climbing, ice skating or golf etc. which considering the number of people on board was amazing. The Windjammer does get very busy at peak times but even so, it is well managed and there was never a time where a member of staff didn't offer to bring cold drinks or tea and coffee to the table. Room service always arrived within 10 minutes of the time allocated and was of good quality. We are already looking at booking another cruise with RCI as many of our fellow passengers did whilst on board. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
14 nights of non-stop partying really sums up what this is ship is all about. We arrived late about 4pm since traffic in Southampton is pretty bad on a July Saturday. Embarkation was busy but smooth and simple. We were on board by 5pm and ... Read More
14 nights of non-stop partying really sums up what this is ship is all about. We arrived late about 4pm since traffic in Southampton is pretty bad on a July Saturday. Embarkation was busy but smooth and simple. We were on board by 5pm and had dinner at 6pm - main. Fortunately we were seated with another family of similar ages and also from England which was good, we all seemed to get along pretty well. Couldn't help but notice that many guests sported lots of tattoos and seemed a little out of place... Food is not the strong point of this ship. Service was great both in the dining rooms and on deck so no complaints there - except perhaps room service in the cabins which seemed to vary from 30 - 50 minutes. Again room service meals were bland and breakfast variable in terms of what was delivered. Main dining room food was bland hotel style food, usually edible but sometimes barely edible at all. Soups were almost always horrible. main courses just about adequate. Desserts bland and cheap. All this poor/average food was served with a smile in a pleasant dining room which helped somewhat. Wine was ok and cost around $35-$45 a bottle at the lower end and was reasonably good for the most part. Only 3 formal nights in 14 days, many diners v.casually dressed. For more casual dining, there was a massive complex at the rear of the navigator on deck 11 which went under the dual names of Jade and Windjammer. lots of choice but way way to many people for comfort. Mealtimes here are a little like feeding time at the Zoo with thousands of people all walking around in a frenzy trying to find a tasty morsel or two to eat and then a drink to go with it - a truly unpleasant atmosphere to eat in. Food quality here was variable, an good roast brisket but a poor salad. Lots of choice of bland style food but no decent Asian cuisine at all and V.poor sushi. We tried the a la carte restaurants which are actually just adjacent to the Windjammer/Jade complex. Chops grill was a steak house which owing to its smaller size felt a little more intimate charge for the $20/head included food but not drinks. Again steak was just ok many in the US would say its not nearly as good as most steakhouses. Again setting and service were way better than the food. Similar comments apply to the Portofino restaurant, great service albeit to keen to pour the wine and get rid of the bottle, nice setting but the food... Whoa! not in the least bit italian as far as we were concerned. Diner next to me was complaining bitterly about his poor food and didn't like the service either. Staff are v.friendly and try but they simply do not understand anything about the food they are serving or the wine. Jonny Rockets was a rather nasty restaurant that smelled of old food and garbage - fries way to oily. atmosphere a bit lacking. Burgers fatty, juicy, greasy and horrible. Served by people who clearly didn't really understand the food and had little interest in it - cost us $30 for 4 Decks were best usually crowded and it can be hard to find a space on days at sea, bit like sardines in a can. And always music in the main areas. No on deck bar service after 9pm anywhere which was disappointing if you like to watch the sunset with a drink in your hand. Our cabin had a balcony and was good, clean and quiet. Cabin Steward was excellent, bed v.comfortable and we certainly slept well. No alcohol in the minibar. Library usually full of noisy kids. Gym - lots of running machines were badly in need of maintenance, aircon not adequate. excursions - they get you back on the boat for dinner and drinks so no time to enjoy a leisurely dinner at ports of call - usually only a few hours at each port so little time to do much. For us this ship is was about entertainment, people and most of all seemed to be a booze cruise - if we asked for a beer or cocktail at any time in almost any place that was fine - but just try and ask a waiter to get you a decent cappuccino or a latte and no chance at all. The public areas have v. attractive decor and are inviting. The entertainers could be good, a pub with a good folk singer was enjoyable, the shows were fun and there was live music in most bars which were all usually fairly busy if not crowded. So we boozed and talked and enjoyed ourselves and met lots of plumbers and builders and so forth - we had a great vacation on a beautiful ship. However, I think we would prefer better food, less people and a slightly more laid back atmosphere with less emphasis on heavy drinking and yes perhaps a bit more upmarket. Oh, nearly forgot to say that all the drinks and a couple of meals at chops and portofino cost us about $500/week per person Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
My wife and I, our son 9, daughter 10 and my in-laws had a fantastic time on the July 28th 14 night cruise. Here is a brief review including ports. The Ship, Passengers and Crew We had previously been on the Adventure of the Seas so knew ... Read More
My wife and I, our son 9, daughter 10 and my in-laws had a fantastic time on the July 28th 14 night cruise. Here is a brief review including ports. The Ship, Passengers and Crew We had previously been on the Adventure of the Seas so knew what to expect. The facilities, scale and general fit-out is just breathtaking. It will be hard to ever go back to a small ship although I've heard great things about the Brilliance. The ship was crowded, much more so than the Adventure with many many more Brits (I am a Brit who emigrated 9 years ago). There were 1100 kids under 18 and as another poster mentioned more working class Brits than you'd expect; not a bad thing as this was certainly more of a party cruise with a better atmosphere in the pub, lounges and clubs than I've seen before. I was worried about comments on this board of "moaning Brits" but they were anything but. We also heard accents from North America, Europe, Russia and regular posh people like me. Lots of disabled on board as the ship obviously had good disabled facilities such as a motorized chair to lift people into the swimming pool. The crew was mainly eastern European with excellent customer service, friendly and cheerful and with a sense of genuine comradery between many of them. Almost everyone dressed up on this cruise whereas in the Caribbean many people just don't bother. Entertainment The shows bar one crass welsh "entertainer" were excellent. The huge main theatre puts on West End quality production shows while the smaller Xtapia and other lounges put on smaller shows and entertainment. The Ice show is astonishing and the final night in the main theatre outstanding. The Cruise Director was a capable standup comedian (with his own adult show one evening) . Bingo was expensive but a laugh with a $15,000 jackpot on the last day (I was a Bingo Virgin prior to this cruise). The Cigar Bar was my favorite with a charming hostess who had been taught to pour Guinness perfectly by a crowd of paddies the cruise before. Champagne bar was a good place to get chatting to other passengers and the pub was packed every night with a very good singer/entertainer. The Wine bar was great for people-watching especially between dinner seatings when hundreds of people mill about on the promenade. Sunset in the "Viking Crown" on the 14th deck is perfection with panoramic views of the ship and its passage. The Casino was a good place to donate $20, especially the "Stampede" slots. Didn't make the Salsa bar. We had the early seating for dinner, which could be a struggle to be ready for but gives you more options for the shows and a packed evening of entertainment. From 8:00 am to 1:00 am there was something going on somewhere that we wanted to see - you have to accept that you will miss out on things and probably miss out on sleep! This is not a relaxing holiday. Food & Drink I believe that the people who complain about the food either expected gourmet 7 course dinners every evening or wanted chips/fries and ketchup with everything. We ate in the main dining room most evenings where service was prompt and efficient. The soups were excellent, our kids loving the cold soups such as apple and pear and myself the hot cream of asparagus or French onion. Other starters included anti-pasta, snails, cheese plates, melon and prosciutto, prawn cocktails, tuna tartar, Caesar salad etc. Mains were varied with plenty of choice from Duck to Steak to fish to pasta. Deserts were too good. Often when we couldn't decide what to have our waiter would place an extra plate on the table to try and we always asked for extra vegetables being British. The portions were just right leaving you full but not bloated. We'd finish off with an espresso or regular coffee. All in all as good as a decent restaurant in London but with a different menu every evening. The "Murder Mystery" dinner in Portofino was US$49 including wine and great value with excellent food and a funny, tong-in-cheek performance. Chops was OK, the food was great but they were trying too hard on the service which made it uncomfortable - maybe because the Captain was at another table while we were there. My only complaint would be that the Wine list was too limited with not enough French/Italian/Spanish wines considering that's where we were cruising. Message to RCL here - If you won't let me buy a nice Borolo in Italy and bring it aboard to drink then for Gods sake put decent European wines on the wine list. Prices of drinks were OK to pricey depending what you were drinking. Cocktails were reasonable. Sports and Activities Climbed the wall with my son. There are several "routes" from very easy to extreme. Ice skating was too crowded the day we did it, but we left it too late. The kids learned to skate on the Adventure rink last year! Rollerblading is a laugh, golf putting a dead loss at sea but OK in port. Belly flop competition was very "Butlins" but funny. We missed the parades down the royal promenade but made it to the Gala buffet - amazing what they can do with several tons of chocolate. The main pools were full of teenagers, the Jacuzzis comically so, but the Solarium pool and Jacuzzis were fine and another place to meet people!. Finding a sun lounger on a sea day was difficult after 9:00 am with lots of reserving of loungers. That said we always managed to find space somewhere and if you wanted a quite corner there were plenty on deck 4 or forward on 12. Kids Club Brilliant. We had to bribe our kids to come out to shows etc. Picking them up before midnight would elicit begging and promises of anything we asked just to stay an hour longer. It's one long organized party for the kids with sports, games, scavenger hunts, arts and crafts, movies, chill-out time etc. each day with a different theme (e.g. Harry Potter, Pajama Party or Sports Day). The club is divided by age groups with the teens having their own lounge and club. The arcade was popular and LOUD and unfortunately right outside the kids clubs. If you haven't heard of "Gaga Ball" and the Hal of Fame yet you will do. Cabins We had a balcony and two an insides on deck 9. The beds were comfy enough, there was enough storage, the shower was tiny. What can I say. If your a family of 4 try getting the Grand Suite instead of 2 cabins if you can as we did last year. At the end of the day you don't spend much conscious time here though having a balcony on which to sunbathe and watch the port arrival/embarkation is well worth the extra $200. Inside cabin is great for a long deep sleep as they are pitch dark so you have absolutely no idea what time it is. Getting to Southampton As we don't have a car in the UK we got a taxi to Waterloo and then the train to Southampton Central where it's a 5 minute taxi ride to the ship. Sounds like a lot of hassle but I booked first-class tickets online weeks in advance for a huge discount and the whole thing was smooth. Certainly less stressful than being stuck in traffic as my in-laws were. Ports of Call Gibraltar A military base with a large rock and aggressive monkeys which we didn't see because the cable car line was too long. The high street was good for tax-free shopping including very nice Cuban cigars. Getting back to the ship was a long long walk and no taxi's available. Book a tour if you want to see the rock, or stay on the ship. Friends we met had a great time on a private tour. Ville France We organized a private tour with TravelWithFriends on the Internet. Our English speaking French guide met us in a new minibus from the dock and took us to a perfume factory and then Eze before the crowds got there. Eze is a stunning "eagles nest" village above Nice with a labyrinth of lanes, alleyways and tiny hidden shops. A short drive up the mountainside took us to a park where we got panoramic photos of the coastline, Eze and the ship in the bay of Ville France. Then off on a longer drive past Nice and Cannes to St Paul, a beautiful walled town inland in Provence famous for its artists. We wandered around the lanes and shops before a traditional lunch with a local blush wine. As we still had time we stopped in Nice on the way back for a quick wander and Crepes for the kids. Finally our guide dropped us back in Ville France where we had a sea front beer before going back aboard. Much better than getting a coach to Monaco! My daughter asked me why we couldn't live in Provence. (A. the French and the cost) Florence I'd booked a private tour with Paola and Giuseppe of Tuscany Tours on the Internet again. The port was changed at the last minute from Livorno to La Spetse. Paola called me on my cell phone the night before (even before the ships captain had announced it) to let me know. Giuseppe drove up to La Spetse to collect us and rather than go to Florence as originally planned took us to Lucca so that we'd spend less time driving and more time sightseeing. Lucca is a medieval walled city as pretty as Florence but with very few tourists or crowds. He had a pass that enabled him to drive us through incredibly narrow streets into the heart of the City where we spent a couple of hours wandering around and of course a long Italian lunch after the shops shut at 1:00. Then we went to Pisa, where again Giuseppe's pass took us right up to the tower. If you want to climb the tower you have to book ahead, which we didn't. Pisa was crowded and touristy so after getting the obligatory "kids holding up the leaning tower" photo's and watching some street performers we headed back to La Spetse. When we got there my wife left her cardigan on the minibus but Giuseppe managed to track us down just before we got on the tender. Giuseppe and Paola live in Florence and Giuseppe clearly knows just about everything about Tuscany from history to wine. Next time we'll book him for his Tuscan wine tour and leave the kids on the ship. I can strongly recommend Tuscany Tours. Rome The ship docks at the unpronounceable Civitavecchia which is a long drive from Rome. However the train station is a 5 minute walk from the port. We got tickets for the Express which only took 30 minutes into Rome. Warning, the cruise line recommends getting the 9 Euro roaming ticket so we watched dozens of cruise passengers get ushered to another platform to get a 1hr 20 minute train while we got on what my son called "The Harry Potter Express" because the compartments looked like Harry Potters train. At Roma Termini we got on one of the open top bus tours which was a great way to see the sites with limited time. We got off 3/4's of the way round to see the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps, then wandered off to find lunch in a small restaurant and got a taxi back to the Termini station. All very easy with the exception of the incredibly long walk to the platform for Civitavecchia which caused us to miss our intended train and get a later, slower one back. From the entrance of the Termini station you need a good 15 minutes to make the platform. Sardinia It was Sunday so most of the shops were shut - excellent. With no plans we strolled off the shuttle bus and walked up to the Cathedral and then around the narrow lanes and back down to the sea front. The old town up near the Cathedral is lovely. Along the seafront old men in sharp suites spoke with their hands and exaggerated expressions while drinking espresso exactly as you'd expect. My in-laws got on a tour bus and went off to see the nearest beach etc. and weren't that impressed. We bought a local cheese as a souvenir and got back onboard! Cadiz My son was sick and we were all tired so decided to stay on board and relax. It's nice to have the ship without the crowds. We kept both kids out of kids club as our daughter needed the downtime as well. Lisbon We got the ships' bus into town and wandered up the main shopping street. Had a nice lunch (Sardines of course for Nanny and my son) and then got back on board to watch the ship sail under the huge suspension bridge there. Vigo Vigo looked like a rough fishing and shipbuilding port so we got a taxi up the estuary to a holiday fishing village called Barona which also had Celtic ruins. Great views of the beaches on the way and a nice place to wander round. It's like a spanish cornwall and seemed totally undiscovered by Brits - absolutely no one spoke English! As it was my son's birthday and he loves seafood we had a huge seafood lunch which cost the earth. Summary So would we do it again. Definitely. We loved the ship, loved the activities, loved the ports. I couldn't imagine a better holiday, nor could my wife and certainly my kids. Nanny and Grandad may have found the ship a little too big but managed to find their way around OK and loved the shows and entertainment. If you imagine the cruise of your dreams to be elegant dining with polite company followed by a jazz quartet and an early bedtime then this is not the cruise for you. However if you have an open mind and want to experience the best variety of activities and entertainment then as the box says "Get out there". Now I just need a holiday to recover - skiing perhaps! Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
My family and I were very excited to be cruising from Southampton which is some 15 minutes from my home. A far cry from the transatlantic flights to cruise in the Caribbean that we normally have to endure. Although only 3 nights, we were ... Read More
My family and I were very excited to be cruising from Southampton which is some 15 minutes from my home. A far cry from the transatlantic flights to cruise in the Caribbean that we normally have to endure. Although only 3 nights, we were as excited as we are to be cruising a long way from home. We have cruised with RCCL many times as well as Princess and the traditionally English P&O. RCCL has always been our favorite. We were accompanied by our friends - also a family of 4 who have never cruised before. How lovely it was too to travel with such good friends that were easily impressed by what they saw. We picked up our friends at 1030. My husband dropped us and the luggage at the terminal and within a few minutes was able to join us at the check-in. We were there with sea passes in hand and directed straight to a check-in desk. We were given priority passes along with our friends who were able to board with us. We were then put into a waiting area where there was free coffee and cakes. The cruise terminal in Southampton is new and by far the best one I have ever come across. Very efficient and very clean. It was an extremely pleasant experience. At 11.30 we were the first to board. Fantastic! We were lucky enough to have the most fabulous weather - the best the English summer had to offer this year. It has been a terrible summer, so what a treat for us sun starved Brits!! We took a few steps onto the ship and even though this is the third Voyager class ship I have been on, I am never beyond being impressed. Our friends just stood there and just said 'WOW'. The word 'WOW' came up many, many times during this first cruise for them. They were completely bowled over, even though I had shown them lots pictures and explained many times about the facilities (much to my husband's annoyance who insisted they find out for themselves). The first thing we did was purchase the soda package for the kids - this is always a great saving for us and it's great not to have to limit them as to what they buy to drink. This was the last time we saw the kids until dinner. We then went to the Windjammer for a quiet lunch. Again, more 'wows' from everyone. The food was OK to good. I don't think I have ever been very impressed with the food on RCCL. It's not bad and plenty of it, but not their best point. However, no complaints, but just very nice. As the weather was so good we were straight up on deck and using the pools and the hot tubs. We had taken our swimming costumes with us in our hand luggage. In fact my daughter was wearing hers ready to jump in. We had a great time whilst this part of the ship was quiet. We then toured the ship. The Navigator is just beautiful and the best Voyager class that I had been on. So clean and very impressive. The staff as always were very friendly, attentive and couldn't do enough for us. I was worried that things wouldn't be as I had been used to as travelling with the Brits and not American's was a different concept to me. However, I really enjoyed this aspect of the cruise. Everyone was friendly, many things had been 'anglified' and I felt very comfortable the whole time. We had a large family ocean view cabin at the front of the ship. This was better than I imagined. A fantastic view of the sea and the helipad and very comfortable. The main beds were amazingly comfortable. My only complaint here is that the sofa bed for my 2 teenage children aged 14 and 15 (boy and girl) was REALLY small. Their feet flopped over the top by a good foot to 18 inches. Really, really small!! Next door was a family ocean view which looked huge and had a separate area with 2 single bunk beds in. This would have been great, but they are few and far between. Still, this was only 3 nights and we could put up with this and we hardly spent any time in the cabin. We had late seating for dinner and a table for 8 for all of us. Excellent service from Rita - never saw the head waiter, but again, only 3 nights and they crammed everything in. The Italian night with the signing, lots of parades around the dining room and the whole experience was good. The kids really had a blast and we only insisted we saw them at dinner and kept in contact with 'walkie talkies'. They used the facilities to the full. The rock climbing wall was great for the kids. They really enjoyed the ice rink and the golf many times a day. The weather throughout the trip was amazing. This made it feel like the 'Caribbean experience' we are used to. The next day we came to the shores of Ireland by around 12 noon. Everyone was on deck watching this beautiful landscape which was bathed in beautiful blue skies and seas. Coming into Cobh was incredible. Many people were out to see the Navigator. We docked in the smallest place and was very impressed how the ship was squeezed and turned to be able to dock against 2 floating pontoons. Amazing! We ventured ashore. The place looked beautiful. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday and many shops were shut. There was a music festival going on and there were many drunk people floating around. The place was crowded and the streets were very dirty. Rubbish everyone. What a shame!! After an hour the kids were begging to get back on board. We didn't take much persuasion. We were up on deck swimming and making the most of the weather. Each night we went to the shows. English comedians, a fantastic acrobatic display and the RCCL singers and dancers. All of which were the best I have seen on a cruise ship. They really did cram the best into these 3 days. We also saw the ice show on the last day. Incredible!! Again, the best we had seen. On the last night in the Promenade they put on a 70's disco for everyone. It was really really good! Everyone danced and the cruise director and co danced and compared from the bridge across the main street. Huge beach balls were bounced through the crowd and the atmosphere was that of one big party. Everyone had fun - the kids joined in too and that left the most amazing feeling of fun that stayed with us when we had to disembark the next day. What a shame this was all over with so quickly. Of course we have converted our friends who will no doubt cruise again. As for us, we have the Brilliance of the Seas to look forward to at Christmas where we will transit the Panama Canal. I know that we will all miss the Voyager class that we love, but as it will be a 'hot' cruise time will be spent on deck and hopefully I won't crave the promenade as much as I think I will. I just love the Cafe Promenada and the whole atmosphere this place creates. There were lots of things we never experienced such as the nightclub - too much going on to join in such a short time. We have never been to Jonny Rockets, it just doesn't appeal. We never went to Chops or Portofinos, but that's fine. We have been to Portofinos before and loved it, but tend to only visit once during a cruise. One point to mention was that this ship was very busy, but they managed the crowds extremely well. During the busy times in the Windjammer they opened both Chops and Portofinos for additional seating areas. This was great! We never had trouble finding seats. If any of the staff saw you looking for a table, they found one for you and as we were a larger group - we nearly always ended up at a 'special' table. We were very impressed. Disembarkation again was the easiest ever. We were able to self disembark as long as we carried our own luggage whenever we liked. Breakfast wasn't crowded. No blocking of corridors or exits and we were off the ship all too quickly. We disembarked at 8.15 and by 9.00 I was home with the washing machine going. It was quite surreal. I would definitely recommend sailing from Southampton. Maybe next year when the Independent is at home in Southampton we will do this all again..... Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
The Navigator of the Seas (NOTS) is a very large modern ship built in Finland in 2002. We have just returned from a 10 day Madeira and Canary Isles cruise. This was our second cruise with Royal Caribbean but my 37th cruise (32 P&O, 3 ... Read More
The Navigator of the Seas (NOTS) is a very large modern ship built in Finland in 2002. We have just returned from a 10 day Madeira and Canary Isles cruise. This was our second cruise with Royal Caribbean but my 37th cruise (32 P&O, 3 Princess, 2 RCI) since 1963. We are a family of 4 and our children have been cruising since they were 5 and 9. This is not meant to be an exhaustive report. It is just picking up on a few things which I feel are important when making a decision about which ship to book. This was probably our best cruise ever mainly due to the friendliness of the crew, the facilities on the ship and the excellent food and service we received. Yes, the ship is big, yes the ship is very Americanised but somehow (despite my dislike for most things American) it all work beautifully together and provides a wonderful cruise for any age. The Royal Promenade (Atrium) has all the P&O ships beaten to a pulp and makes the Arcadia's atrium look sad and old. That is all I will say on the subject of comparing ships as many people see the same thing differently. It is possible that a newish cruiser who has only seen one or two ships would not like the NOTS but as an experienced cruiser, I can say for definite that P&O have a lot to learn from Royal Caribbean on facilities, crew and design. The restaurants on board are magnificent and the food and the waiters complement this. Every meal we had was superbly designed and hot (or cold if it was meant to be) we did not have to send one part of any meal back at all. There is a lot of menu choice and the offer of "we can make you anything you want if there is nothing on the menu you like" helps even more. There are a number of dining options depending on your mood ranging from informal buffets to very formal dining in speciality restaurants. The evening dress code was reasonably stuck to by most passengers but, in this new cruiser era that is to be expected on all cruise lines. The entertainment was particularly good with acts ranging from Adagio to an Elton John tribute. We also saw a Beatles tribute band and there were 3 production shows plus a juggler/comedian who was very funny. There were also 2 ice rink shows similar to the Disney on ice shows. The bands on board were typically 'cruise' bands but they got the job done. The cruise director (Graham Seymour) also did an adult comedy stand up routine and there were the usual welcome aboard and farewell shows. The very funny Jeff Stevenson was on board but sadly he was limited to a 15 minute routine on the opening show as he disembarked at the first port. There were over 3000 passengers on board and yet, only once, did we have to queue and this was to gain entrance to the ice rink show but this queue was no worse than a queue to enter a football match or to exchange something at the Argos store. In closing, I would recommend to the NOTS to any cruiser who has been on P&O and wants to see to how it should be done. As a dedicated P&O passenger over 44 years, it hurts me to say this but if P&O think that the design of the Arcadia is how is should be done, then they are sadly mistaken. We are booked on the new P&O ship, the Ventura next year and I sincerely hope that this new ship has been built as a sign of things to come for P&O. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
This was my 1st & last cruise with RCI. I'm a seasoned cruiser. This was my 3rd cruise this year. I've favored Princess, Celebrity, NCL and Cunard. First of all, the ship itself is beautiful. It's intimate and easy to ... Read More
This was my 1st & last cruise with RCI. I'm a seasoned cruiser. This was my 3rd cruise this year. I've favored Princess, Celebrity, NCL and Cunard. First of all, the ship itself is beautiful. It's intimate and easy to move around from deck to deck. The staff was friendly and aimed to please. I give them high grades for the Spa & Exercise facilities. They were top notch. But, anyone booking on this Brilliance class of ships should be aware that suite and balcony cabins on the aft starboard side Deck Six are in for a rude awakening. These cabins are directly over the lounges. There is no sound insulation. Our cabin floor vibrated from the music. It was impossible to get any sleep until 2am most nights. Then, the clean-up lounge crew would be playing loud music until 4-5am. I called guest relations on numerous occasions. They did nothing...Do NOT book these cabins!!! Food: After, just getting off QM2,( the food on QM2 was hands down the BEST at Sea ) the food on Jewel was little better than cafeteria offerings. The menu in the main dining room is very limited. The menus were odd. It often mixed regional cuisine on the same menu. Two nights in a row, pork of some type was the 'Chef's Special'. On the Pork Chop special night our waiter told us 'Not to order it because it was overcooked and tough'! The alternative steak was too tough to chew. The food was so bad we resorted to eating in the Windjammer cafe, where food was better than the main dining room. My wife is a much better chef than this crew. Their food was un-inspired, tasteless and they need to go back to school to learn to properly make sauces. Breakfast proved to be the best meal on the ship. Also, on numerous occasions, self serve coffee was un-available. This happened over and over again from 6am -9am. The waiters were slow to clear tables on deck. This is the 1st ship I've sailed where you couldn't get any food other than pizza past 9:30pm. We had early 6pm seating and would go to the evening show. By 10:30-11pm we were looking for a snack. Out of luck! Entertainment: This was the 1st 12 day cruise I've been on where there were just two full dance productions shows. The best show was a husband & wife from Cirque. They were one of the best acts I've ever seen at sea.The on-board band was very good They did have hit & misses other singers and entertainers. But, it was very average. I must give the Cruise Director, Bobby big credit. He was professional and really made an effort to inter-act with the passengers. The cabins were clean and the ship is well maintained. However, due to the above mentioned issues, I will Not be returning to RCI! Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Jewel of the Seas left Southhampton October 30th and arrived in Fort Lauderdale November 11th. We visited three ports of call, Le Havre, France; La Coruna, Spain; and Funchal, Madeira, with sea days interspersed followed by a six day ... Read More
Jewel of the Seas left Southhampton October 30th and arrived in Fort Lauderdale November 11th. We visited three ports of call, Le Havre, France; La Coruna, Spain; and Funchal, Madeira, with sea days interspersed followed by a six day Atlantic crossing. This was the second such crossing for us, we had traveled to Europe in April aboard HAL's Westerdam from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome. We are experienced cruisers having traveled on seven cruise lines and 11 different ships in the last five years. Embarkation/debarkation: Among the smoothest we have experienced. No long lines. Pleasant staff; warm greetings and send offs. Ports of Call: Future cruisers may want to note that free WI-FI access was available in the welcome center at the cruise ship dock in Le Havre (you had to have your own laptop) and that Funchal has a free municipal internet center at Rua de Ferrieros. It is open M-F 12:00 - 19:00; Sat. 10:00-17:00; closed Sundays and holidays. A hop-on and hop-off double-decker tour bus operated in Funchal with a stop a quick walk from the cruise ship dock. Cost was 10E to ride until evening and then the ticket could be used on the yellow city buses - far more time than we needed for the one-day visit. Ship/room: The Jewel had been in dry dock prior to our departure. We were surprised then to have a series of plumbing problems, sink stopped up, shower didn't drain and on two evenings water flooded the bathroom floor. All were quickly attended to and corrected. Guests from at least two other cabins had similar flooding problems. The ship and our room were kept immaculately clean. Staff was attentive to detail. On two more stormy days, seasick bag dispensers were quickly hung at each landing and placed in common area bathrooms. Our room provided plenty of space for storing suitcases (we had two 22' inch suitcases and a carryon of similar size) under the beds. Speaking of beds, they were short. Designed to come to a point in the center when the two twins are pushed together, the closer you get to the side of the bed, the shorter the bed becomes. Dining: The quality of the food in the Tides Dining Room and the Buffet, may have improved since the professional critic (see professional review) first ate in them, but we found it to fall short of RCL's competitors. A blandness, sameness and lack of creativity was noted by several fellow guests. Perhaps expectations were too high, but to have frozen potatoes in the potato salad at lunch not once, but twice, had us wondering when they had been cooked and when the salad had been made; green peas in scrambled eggs marked Mexican scrambled eggs, left us chuckling. Unfortunately, it appeared that more creative talent went into the design of the laminated menus than the food preparation itself. Portofino's was well worth the additional $20 per person surcharge, so much so we dined there twice. The food was excellent and it easily took two-hours to savor the many courses presented to us. Seaview Cafe was a welcome change from the ship's buffet. Great snack bar grilled sandwiches and salads. Coffee bar: Unlike HAL and Princess Cruise lines, we were told on the first day that we were unable to purchase a punch card to reduce the per cup cost and/or earn a free drink. The fifth day of the cruise, and after the purchase of several lattes (Seattle's Best coffee) we were given a 'buy six and get the next one free' card. Alcohol: RCL's policy on alcohol is that you are not allowed to bring any alcohol on to the ship for consumption. Anything brought aboard will be confiscated and held until the night before disembarkation. This was a disappointment as it has been fun on other lines to purchase a bottle of wine in the country we were visiting to take to dinner and consume while traveling. There were several reasons - none the same, by the way - given by staff for the policy, but it was a definite 'ding' in rating this cruise. The on-board per glass wine prices ranged from $4 a glass for wine from cardboard boxes (put into a wine barrel) in the buffet to $24 per glass Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon. RCL also prohibited the bringing of food on board and confiscated that as well. We were allowed to bring fresh flowers on board. Telephone: Those who have Verizon wireless service are able to make phone calls from international waters at far less money than the $7.95 per minute charge for using the ship's phone. We were quoted $2.49 per minute by Verizon. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
This was a repositioning cruise with unusual ports of call on RCCL Navigator of the Seas Nov 5, 2007- that's what attracted us. 13 night from Southampton, one sea day to La Caruna Spain, Lisbon, two sea days to Madiera Island, Las ... Read More
This was a repositioning cruise with unusual ports of call on RCCL Navigator of the Seas Nov 5, 2007- that's what attracted us. 13 night from Southampton, one sea day to La Caruna Spain, Lisbon, two sea days to Madiera Island, Las Palmas Canary Islands and 6 sea days transatlantic to Ft Lauderdale. While we enjoy RCCL, it's been about 3 yrs since our last one with them. This cruise was a vivid reminder that RCCL is 'all about the marketing'. They start selling you the minute you board and don't stop till you're in the luggage bay. Even RCCL TV in your stateroom is loaded with their commercials selling you logo items, photos, drink of the day, excursions, ad nauseam. Someone said they are known as Royal Cash Register Cruise Lines...it fits. This cruise needed only three things - An Italian chef to better cook pasta and a red sauce that is less like tomato juice. Their pizza was not good at all-- reminded me of the drive-in movies as a kid (remember that?) Pizza was tasteless, the dough was rigid and the cheese like glue. tasteless. They should trade a chef with Costa Cruises. Hmmm? They also needed better management of the excursions. Shore excursion choices were very limited. They admitted that they had never been to a couple of ports, and it showed. Badly organized, tour guides but came up short, and bus drivers could care less. At the volcano stop on Madiera,4-6 tour buses arrived together - all from our ship. we ran to the museum shop for the bathrooms and found it closed. We waited another forty minutes for 'Jose' to show up and open the doors. Local Vendors were overwhelmed, like the wine tasting shop - in his home. He couldn't fit hundreds of people, so we had to wait on the roadside until each bus finished their wine tasting in turn. Similar situation at the pottery shop. We couldn't all fit in the museum or the gift shop. And so on… Lastly, I would have added one Caribbean port before reaching Fort Lauderdale. A beach day at Labadee or Nassau or Puerto Rico would have been the cherry on top. Entertainers were good - especially comics. Their production shows were lack luster, but the ice skating shows were great. Daily entertainment was sparse - bingo, trivia, napkin folding. No dance lessons at all, and few games. Despite my barbs, this was a great trip. The staff were exceptionally pleasant – servers, stewards, cruise staff, and crew. Perhaps that was because most contracts were ending with this cruise and they were happy to be going home – still it was nice to have happy people on board. Would we do it again? Probably, but I’d check the excursions first. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
This was our third cruise, second TA, and 3rd cruise line. There were six of us in the party. Overall we had a very nice time. Embarkation was a breeze. No one helped us to the room, but I do pretty well around ships so no problem getting ... Read More
This was our third cruise, second TA, and 3rd cruise line. There were six of us in the party. Overall we had a very nice time. Embarkation was a breeze. No one helped us to the room, but I do pretty well around ships so no problem getting to the room. Room was excellently appointed and bed was very comfortable. Enjoyed having the bed adjacent to the balcony slider. This trip had 3000 passengers. Navigator did a pretty good job absorbing the crowds. Occasionally, the buffets were packed at peak times. The Promenade was very nice with 4 decks of open space and again handled the crowds fairly well. Everyone seemed to enjoy the entertainers in the various lounges. However, I found a couple of them fairly small and when they tried cramming trivia game (or the like) they were just too cramped. The theatre was terrific and the shows as good as you can expect. Navigator has an ice skating rink and a couple shows. Ticket availability for the first one was hard to get and people waited 45 minutes to pick them up...the second show later in the cruise was a little easier...The entertainment staff were personable and made life fun during the at-sea day events. Port calls were nice and relaxing for those of us who go on our own and walk around. Excursions seemed to be well received, although we didn't use them. One area I was disappointed was the food. Buffets were ok, nothing special. I found the main dining room a disappointment. They screwed up our seating for 6 and had to "find" us a table before we sailed, but it was ok even though stuffed out of the way. Food was unspectacular and sometimes bad. Lobstertails turned into big prawns...meat was under or overcook. Maitre'd was personable, but shallow with all the right words and no action to back them up. Our wait staff was adequate, asst waiter was on his second cruise and tried hard. Overall I'd give them a "C" for food. Disembarkation seemed a bit slow and chaotic at the luggage pick up, but nothing to get too upset with...we heard that someone had a heart attack during the process, so I'm sure that didn't help things. Overall, I'd give the cruise a "B-". Navigator is a beautiful ship which does a reasonable job absorbing the many passenger. They cruise after ours had over 3500 and that may have tipped the scales a bit. Since TA's are a lot about dining, this was my hot topic. I must admit to be more the fan of smaller ships. However, with the right itinerary and price, Navigator would be a lovely ship to revisit. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
    We were not impressed. This was our sixth Cruise but the first from a UK port. Whether this was the reason or not we are not sure.     The Balcony Cabin was very good and very clean. The staff were all very good and ... Read More
    We were not impressed. This was our sixth Cruise but the first from a UK port. Whether this was the reason or not we are not sure.     The Balcony Cabin was very good and very clean. The staff were all very good and attentive.The food was overall abysmal, certainly the worst we have had on any cruise ship. It is the very first time I have been on a cruise and not had a decent steak in the restaurant. The Windjammer Buffet was not very good either. The presentation of the food was pathetic and the same every day very little variation.      They seem to do some very strange things. Although there were nearly four passengers they closed half the Winjammer and only used one side most of the time, consequently there was a shortage of tables. Why ? no one seemed to know.       One day whilst in the Med they stopped the use of balconies so they could be cleaned.......why not do this in cooler climes when the balconies were not being used ?       Also while in the Med on a beautiful day the closed part of the pool area for CLEANING and Varnishing !!!!!       The cost of everything was very expensive ( $6.50 for a can of Buds...almost a fiver)$29.99 for 1 hour on the internet.       They must actually have got embarrassed at on stage as they were charging $12 for a trip into Livorno town and decided to refund $4 and charge only $8.       We only met one couple on the ship that were satisfied customers ( and we strongly suspected that was because they had a relative working onboard)       We were on the Grand Princess last year wnd the difference was remarkable it would have been difficult to fault anything on that ship.        By the way we agree with the Daily Telegraph reviewer, there are only lifts at the front and rear of the ship and it is a hell of a long walk to get your meals if you are not situated near the rear.        Maybe just too big !!!!!!!              Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
Myself and a colleague flew from Dublin to London and were met by Royal Caribbean reps on arrival. We were coached down to Southampton and this only took around 1 hour 40 minutes. On arrival we were checked in right away and were able to ... Read More
Myself and a colleague flew from Dublin to London and were met by Royal Caribbean reps on arrival. We were coached down to Southampton and this only took around 1 hour 40 minutes. On arrival we were checked in right away and were able to board the ship at 1145am. This was great as we just wanted to get to our stateroom and drop our bags to explore the ship. We started at deck 14 and worked our way down. I have been on the Liberty of the Seas last year and the Independence is a carbon copy with a few minor changes. The flowrider is alot of fun and a guy was demonstrating how it works. Some of the guest then tried and its not as easy as it looks. Its nice to be able to sit and watch and always makes people laugh. A stop for a Pina Colada at 'Wipe out' bar next to the flowrider was a welcome break. No changes to deck 13. The basket ball court/Mini golf and the Wall are all the same. Down to deck 12 and a visit to the day spa. As we walked in the smell of essential oils was very nice. We were greeted by the staff and given a tour of the treatment rooms and advised about the treatments on offer. Down the glass steps to the boxing ring and sauna areas everything shiny and brand new. My colleague being a girl went to look at the ladies sauna area and I went to the mens area. After that we met outside and showed eachother the photos of the sauna's. The ladies sauna is half the size of the mens. I don't know why this is . We then went to look at the kids area 'Ocean Adventure' and Johnny Rockets. I was looking forward to having a milk shake but it was closed and remained closed for the whole time we were onboard. The kids area has so many facilities to keep any child happy for a 14 day cruise. Deck 11 and we loved the H2o zone for kids. Its a great idea and looks very impressive. The Solarium and whirlpools are a really nice area to relax in. I always prefer this area than the main pool area as its quiet. Down the other end of the deck and we were at the Windjammer. We decided to stop here for lunch. So much on offer and it was hard to decide what to eat. I decided to go for a a mix. The sweet and sour chicken was amazing. I decided not to go for a dessert although they were very tempting. We then proceeded to the stateroom decks and various types were available for viewing. I have to say my favorite was the Royal Suite. The owners suite follows. They are so spacious and nicely furnished. We then saw a reduced mobility stateroom and it really is great to have all of the handrails and wider doors for people with wheelchairs. Everything is tailor made to make life easier. The Promenade stateroom is an ideal choice for those who cant afford a outside but don't want to be boxed in with an inside. Alot of people actually prefer the PR staterooms as you can see all thats going on in the Royal Promenade. I have stayed in one on a Trans Atlantic cruise on the Voyager and it was ideal as a solo traveller. The outside stateroom was nice but to be honest Id prefer a PR. I love the showers onboard in the staterooms. They are very powerful and the curved doors give you extra room so you don't keep bashing your arms whilst showering. There was a dispenser for shampoo but I prefer to take my own products that I use at home. The towels were lovely and soft and made from 100% Egyptian cotton. The beds were so comfortable it was hard to get out of them the next morning. They get 100% for that. The powerpoints in the stateroom are one European 2 pin and 2 USA flatpin so for all UK cruisers take adapters!!! All staterooms have a Data socket to plug your laptop into. Time to take a stroll along the Royal Promenade. I love the Freedom class as the longer Promenade really makes a difference. The Cafe is great and you have to try the 'Rustica' vegetarian Pizza! Its to die for . Free Tea and Coffee from the self service area are always available. Speciality Coffee from Seattles finest is charged but very nice for a proper brew. The pub is called the Dog and Badger and is nice to have a pint. Im sure it will be popular with the Brits this season. The Champagne bar is as good as ever. I tried the Pomegranate one and it was very nice. All of the normal logo wear and perfume shops are there. The guest relations area is also the same. It was then time to check out the nightclub and its called the 'Labyrinth'. All quite gothic but also Tower of London themed with Beefeaters and ravens !!! Quite a mix but I have to say I loved the British influence for a UK based ship. Studio B and the Theatre are the same . We did look in on a show that night but to be honest I didn't like it and we left after 15 minutes. This is quite unusual as I normally enjoy them. Im sure they will improve on the proper cruises. I thought they would have done something related to productions in London's West end theatres but this seemed to be clowns or something. The main dining room is as glitzy as ever and it really looks the part. Dinner that evening was amazing and the food was top class. I went for my favorite shrimp cocktail and then we shared the Eggplant and Mozzarella dish which was equally as nice. I then went for the beef fillet and it was 100%. The food on the whole ship was 100% so a big thumbs up to Royal Caribbean for that. The dedicated terminal and great itineraries from Southampton should prove a success for Royal Caribbean. It certainly is a ship packed full of amenities and there is something for everyone onboard.... With the arrival of Genesis not far behind I can only dream what Central Park will look like. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
Independence of the Seas - April 30 - May 2, 2008 Pre-Inaugural Cruise Pre-Cruise We were contest winners! It's an amazing feeling to have someone call you to tell you you've won a trip to England and a trip on the biggest, ... Read More
Independence of the Seas - April 30 - May 2, 2008 Pre-Inaugural Cruise Pre-Cruise We were contest winners! It's an amazing feeling to have someone call you to tell you you've won a trip to England and a trip on the biggest, newest cruise ship in the world! We are avid cruisers and I couldn't have been more excited. Royal Caribbean was generous in allowing us to fly out early. We left on Friday, April 25th and spent 3 days touring London at our own expense. We flew on Virgin Atlantic and I'd recommend this airline to anyone. They were great. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum. It was a great hotel; the location was perfect, just one block from the Gloucester Road Tube Station. We took the Big Bus tour the first day and saw all the classic sights from the bus. This is a Hop On/Hop Off bus and the ticket is good for 24 hours. On day 2 we toured the Tower of London and took a Thames River cruise. On our last day in London we walked to Kensington Palace and toured the gardens there. Then off to our flight on the London Eye and a visit to Harrods. That evening we went to the Lyric Theatre, one of the oldest theatres in London, to see Cabaret. It was a wonderful show and quite an experience. On Tuesday morning, Royal Caribbean arranged a car service to pick us up at the hotel and drive us to the Hilton in Southampton to wait our boarding the Independence of the Seas on Wednesday. The Hilton was a nice hotel, but too far out of the cruise port for our liking. Food here was very expensive! That afternoon, we met up with the other contestants as they came in. Some of us went out to dinner that evening at the Chilworth Arms, a lovely pub near the hotel. Wednesday, we were shuttled together to the port in Southampton for our first look at this beautiful ship. The check in process was smooth enough. There were a few kinks, but that is to be expected on a shakedown cruise. We were all given Priority boarding passes and sent to wait in a comfortable lounge where they were serving cookies, coffee and tea. There is a bar in the waiting area as well. At 11:30 AM, we were able to board the Indy. This was definitely not your typical cruise experience. We brought our own luggage aboard, our photos were taken for the Sign & Sail card and off we went to our cabins. There was open bar for the whole cruise too. ? We were in cabin 7600, designated as Deluxe Ocean View, Cat E1. The balcony was very large at 74 sq feet, the deepest balcony we've ever had. The cabin was wonderfully appointed, even had a tea kettle. I really liked having this to make coffee every morning. The beds were pillow top mattresses and were very comfy! We were off to wander the ship and I combed the whole ship taking a LOT of pictures. It was overwhelming.....just such a beautiful ship with so many spaces and things to do. The Royal Promenade was so cool. There you will find the shops, Sorrento's Pizza, the Dog and Badger Pub and a Champagne Bar to name a few things. It was really amazing! There is also a LOT of artwork on board the ship. Something I really appreciated. We were given a booklet identifying all the pieces, the artist and the location. The three level dining room was spectacular as well. Most had open seating for dinner, but we contestants had reserved tables on deck 4 in the Macbeth Dining Room. Deck 5 has the King Lear dining room and Deck3 has the Romeo and Juliet dining room. Next, we were off to the Windjammer for lunch. The windjammer is huge with lots of tables and window seats. The food was delicious! Chops is located at the entrance to the Windjammer. It's a really beautiful space. After lunch, we did some more exploring, checking out the Flow Rider, Johnny Rockets and the Solarium area. The cantilevered whirlpools were open and although it was a chilly, rainy day, they were just so inviting we couldn't resist a dip. It was wonderful! There are two of these whirlpools on either side of the ship. It was nice to relax for a bit. After that we headed back to our rooms to dress early for dinner and attend the Naming Ceremony held at 4:30 in the Alhambra Theatre. Everyone was presented a glass of champagne upon entering. The ceremony was done very well, so moving. The Godmother, Elizabeth Hill we presented in a procession with the Highlander Players following and the International Highlanders and Celtic Feet, a River Dance type troupe. Richard Fain announced the Godmother and Captain Strazicic spoke. Elizabeth was presented with a huge bouquet by some of the children helped by the Steve Redgrave Fund, a charitable organization that helps disabled and mentally challenged children. The Norwegian, American and United Kingdom anthems were sung as well. We went to the Ice Skating show before dinner, Strings! - A world Adventure on Ice. It was really good. After the show it was time to get ready for dinner. Dinner was at 7:30. It was a more limited menu than is usual at dinner, but it was delicious none the less. We met the Royal Caribbean Marketing representative, Harry Liu and Gene Sloan from USA Today. We were also introduced to the reps from the marketing firm Weber & Shandwick who worked in conjunction with RCI and USA Today on the Name that Ship Genesis contest. Everyone was so nice. They made us feel very special. Sail away was at 10 PM and we enjoyed it with a great view in the Royal Crown Lounge. Later, there was a 70's dance party in the Royal Promenade. What a blast that was with the dancers in costume, the disco balls sparkling and the music thumping. We danced and drank the night away. After a visit to the Karaoke bar and some laughs there, we headed to bed. We missed the main show tonight, just too much to do! The was titled Abbacadabra, the Ultimate Abba Concert. Thursday morning, we were up early and had breakfast again in the Windjammer. Then we were off to a meeting with some reps for RCI and Gene Sloan. After the meeting, we headed up to the top decks for our photo shoot with the group of other contestants. We had lunch at Johnny Rockets after that, which is a great place to enjoy a burger and a shake. The waiters and waitresses did the singing and dancing. It was a lot of fun. We were lucky enough to be invited on a Bridge tour. It was very interesting to see all the computers and other equipment that keeps us safe while sailing. The views from up on the bridge were amazing. After the bridge tour we went on a Galley tour as well. It was informative and interesting to see how they make so much food! Dinner Thursday night was a more typical menu, with many options. I had the steak and it was done to perfection. The Grand Marnier soufflE for dessert was perfect. We attended the show on Thursday night, Under the Big Top. We enjoyed that a lot. After the show, was yet another dance party, the Rock Britannia Street Party on the Royal Promenade. After the party, we headed to bed, thoroughly exhausted and happy. On Friday morning, disembarkation was a breeze. We took our own luggage off the ship, climbed onto the waiting bus and headed to Heathrow to fly home. Photos of Independence can be see on my Webshots page here: http://good-times.webshots.com/album/563288702TpMeic Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
We had the pleasure of taking the Brilliance of the Seas repositioning cruise as it headed from drydock in Hamburg on a cruise from Southampton to Barcelona with stops in Le Havre, Vigo, Lisbon, Tangiers, Corsica, Villefrance. We are in ... Read More
We had the pleasure of taking the Brilliance of the Seas repositioning cruise as it headed from drydock in Hamburg on a cruise from Southampton to Barcelona with stops in Le Havre, Vigo, Lisbon, Tangiers, Corsica, Villefrance. We are in our late 50s and this was our 11th cruise and our third cruise to Europe. The other 2 Europe cruises were on Celebrity to the Baltic and the Mediterranean. We also cruised with Celebrity to Bermuda and NE/Can. We've cruised on Princess (Alaska), HAL (Panama Canal) and Carnival (NE/Can). Our previous RCL cruise was the Explorer holiday cruise from NJ to the Eastern Caribbean. As you can see, we've cruised on a lot of cruise lines. Brilliance compared favorably to our other favorite ship, the Constellation. We also loved the Explorer of the Seas We are avid walkers and in good weather we walk several miles a day after dinner. Whenever we can, we do ports on our own. We love to experience the ambiance of the different cities/countries we visit. We've done ships excursions and while we can still handle the walking, we've decided to do as many ports as we can on our own or with an independent tour guide. This is nothing against excursions - we hope to be cruising for many more years and we will take excursions when we feel we can no longer walk for hours and miles or when the time and distance to an attraction does not allow us to have at least a one hour cushion for on-board time. Ship - Without going into all the details of the ship, the ship was in great shape. It may have been, spruced up in drydock. We had an inside cabin on deck 8 and the chair and sofa appeared to be new. The bedding was the new hotel style bedding that I like so much - a blanket with a duvet cover that can be washed, as opposed to worn bedspread. The price of the cruise went down several times after we booked to $1,130 for our deck 8 inside. We had no problem getting a price adjustment. For a few days there was a deck 6? Balcony guarantee for $20 less. We decided to stick with the inside and we did not regret that decision. We had a nice quiet cabin at the front of the ship. Between the windy, overcast weather and the limited sea days, we would probably not have used the balcony. The solarium area is like a fantasyland. I just love the dEcor (although on this cruise the single whirlpool in the solarium was almost always full). There is also a small food area here but we never ate here. Too many ports and too few lunches. Entertainment - I judge the theatre by the comfort of the seats and the leg room. Both of these are more than adequate on Brilliance. There was a new group of singers and dancers. They did a great job on the 2 production shows. One was a Tango show and the other a Swing show. Both of these shows were different than the shows we saw on Explorer in Dec. The other entertainment was typical cruise ship. We always enjoy this and never miss a show. One day they showed a movie in the theatre instead of a show. This was a little disappointing, but it was fun for us because we never go to the movies. Dining - Our usual routine is to eat breakfast in the Windjammer, no lunch and an early dinner. We chose traditional early seating and we were seated with 3 other couples who could not have been nicer. This is why we enjoy traditional seating so much. By the end of the cruise they felt like family. There was also anytime dining on this cruise and we did not hear any complaints. One couple from our table asked permission and went to anytime dining one night with a couple they knew from a previous cruise. They said it went seamlessly. The food was good. Our only complaint was the lack of choices. They've now added the 3 alternate selections as well as the vegetarian dishes to the main menu so there was even less selection than before. I love salmon and the salmon was cooked perfectly. I ordered it many times and it came out with different sauces, mimicking one of the other meals. By asking for a piece of salmon on the pad thai, or sharing one of the vegetarian meals with my husband (along with the salmon or chicken), I was able to always have something different and delicious. The comments from our tablemates were that the food was good, but not fabulous. The large shrimp on the menu one night was replaced by a lobster and medium shrimp meal. 2 people ordered prime rib which covered the entire plate. I don't have much to add about the windjammer. I had a well made omelet every morning that filled me up for the entire day. There were plenty of choices and food, including lox, smoked fish, cheese, pancakes, French toast, hot & cold cereal and lots of fruit. We always found a place to sit, even on port days when everyone ate at the same time - although several times we shared a table. CURRENCY EXCHANGE - I started with 200 euros that I had gotten from my credit union at work. I intended to use my on board credit to get additional euros. I had called RCL and they said you could do this. I went to the currency exchange desk and they had nothing to do with the on board credit. Then I went to the guest relations desk and they said what I had to do was get cash from the casino (for gambling only), and that cash would come out of my OBC. If I did not use all my OBC, I could get the remainder in cash from the guest relations desk on my last day (which is what I did). So we took the $100 U.S. dollars we had brought with us and went back to the currency exchange deck to get euros. I took another $100 out of the casino and converted that to euros later in the cruise. On the last day of the cruise I went to the guest services desk and got the $200 remainder of my OBC. The only thing we had charged to our on board credit was the tips and the money from the casino. For those who are wondering we had $200 for booking on a cruise, $200 stock holders, and $100 returned fuel surcharge since we had booked before the surcharge was added but paid a few weeks before they rescinded the charge for booking before the surcharge was added. PORTS - SOUTHAMPTON - We had a non-stop Continental flight that arrived at Gatwick at 6:30 in the morning. We had arranged for sedan pickup with Smiths for Airports out of Portsmouth. We decided on the car service because on Sunday we would have had to change trains and we wanted to enjoy, as best we could, our day in Southampton. The car was 77 pounds plus tip or $160. The driver was at the airport to meet us and we requested the scenic route which he was all too happy to drive on the early Sunday morning with no traffic. The only glitch, if you can call it that, was that we were planning to pay by credit card but the limo office was closed. So the driver stopped at a bank ATM machine and we withdrew pounds to pay him. An hour and a half later we were at the Novotel. They held our bags in a locked room and we were off for our day's adventure. There is a free 90 minute walking tour of the Southampton walls. I found out about this from the Southampton web site. We walked from our hotel along the waterfront to the start of the tour. We got there in plenty of time. My estimate is a 20 - 30 minute walk. It was a great tour and it would have been worth paying for. We had 2 guides, a trainee and an experienced guide and there was plenty of commentary. The tour ended at the Titanic Museum but we were too tired to do a museum. We walked around for several more hours, checking out restaurant menus while enjoying the ambiance of Southampton. We spent some time at the harbor enjoying the children playing and watching the activities in the harbor. On the way back to the hotel we passed a Leisure World which had a casino (we did not go in because you have to register and we knew we would not be gambling), a cinemaplex, a bar with music and a restaurant. We also checked out a pub/restaurant next to Leisure World and decided to eat there. At this point, we were only a few blocks from our hotel, so we checked in, brought our bags to the room, and returned to eat. We both had the roasted menu special which for me was half a chicken, Yorkshire pudding, fries, potatoes and 2 vegetables. My DH had the roast beef. Dinner was 6.5 pounds each. We returned to the room, read for a little while and then slept for 12 hours. The next morning we had breakfast at the McDonalds next door for a total of 3 pounds (2 oatmeals and an OJ). We just wanted something light since we would have lunch on the ship. We then went to walk into town in a different direction. As we turned the corner behind our hotel we saw 2 people wheeling their luggage out of the port. We also saw buses of people pulling out. We spoke to the people wheeling their luggage and they had been on the Brilliance cruise out of Hamburg. They said it was a 10 minute walk from the ship and a very easy walk. They were walking to the train station which was another block away. Since we had a good map, we were happy to show them the direction to the train station. (Do not bear right behind the Novotel, continue across the street and walk straight to get to the train station. The coach station looked like it was farther and more uphill). So we made the decision to not take a taxi but to walk to the ship. We enjoyed a few more hours walking around town, checked out the walk to the ship, and returned to our hotel room to check out. One positive of walking is that my DH was able to use the 10 pounds and change that we had left towards the hotel bill so we did not have to carry around those extra pounds and figure out how to exchange them. At 12:30 we headed to the ship. We had no problem. There was no line, and by 1:30 we were on the ship, our carryon bags had been dropped off, and we were having lunch in the Windjammer. LE HAVRE- Early the first morning we docked at Le Havre. We had arranged to join another family on an independent tour of the Normandy beaches. We used a guide named Eric with Normandy Town and Country Tours (le-doux-turnbull@wanadoo.fr). Eric is from England and has become a D-day historian. We left the ship at 7:15 to start a 2 hour drive to the Airborne Museum. As we stood in the center of the town square in front of the church (pictured in the Longest Day movie), Eric told us the story of the Paratrooper's arrival. We could picture the scene of that fateful night. We then visited the Airborne museum and a short visit to the church. We decided to skip a sit down lunch and instead bought take out lunch from a Patisserie in town. We then headed to walk through the area where we could see the remnants of the German artillery and the allied bombing. Next was a visit to Omaha beach. As we stood over the beach, Eric told the story of that fateful day. As we stood there we noticed several cars pull up, look around for a few minutes and then head to the gift shop. It was great to have a tour guide who brought the history to life. This was followed by a visit to the American cemetery where we saw the graves of 10,000 young men. We then visited the German Bunker Museum. I chose to walk around the small residential area for a half hour while the others toured the museum. I enjoyed my walk. It is always interesting to get a feel for how others live. My DH and the others said the museum was very interesting. We had planned to go to Bayeau but we ended up skipping that site because of the time. Instead, we made a short stop in Honfleur. Eric walked us around town for about half an hour. We returned to the ship at 6:30 from our 11 hour tour. We washed up and headed straight for the dining room. Because of the light turnout, we had been told they would serve dinner in the dining room up until 7:30. The dining room was maybe 25% full. Our tour cost 550 euros for the 6 of us. We gave the driver 200 euros for the 2 of us. This was about the same price as the ships excursion. DAY AT SEA - Our first day at sea was busy with 2 great history lectures by Dr. Jim Brodman. There was a lecture on the history of Vigo and another on the history of Lisbon. The lectures were excellent and these gave us a good background for our planned visits to these cities. We played trivia (and won for the first time), went to our meet and mingle, and spent several hours reading and/or sleeping in the solarium. The weather was windy and in the mid 60s. This was also our first formal night. My husband wore a tuxedo. We saw that while everyone dressed neatly and in jackets, my husband was in the minority in a tuxedo. He did not wear his tuxedo again. Our dinner table made a pact that the gentlemen would just wear button down shirts (and ties if they chose). At this point my husband decided he was not going to bother with a tuxedo anymore on cruises since he was very much in the minority, even on this cruise with a good number of people from the U.K. Instead he will bring a suit. VIGO - We had a short day of 10 am to 6 pm and we decided to do Vigo on our own. I went to the Vigo websites and found 3 - 100 minute walking tours. I emailed the tourist office twice in English and once in Spanish and got no response. So I printed the walking tours in color (easier to read) and figured we would use these if we could not hook up with the tours when we reached Vigo. From the pictures on the walking tour maps and the websites I could tell that Vigo was the type of place we love to explore. When we got off the ship we bypassed the long line at the kiosk visitor information center and headed for the information center that was about a block away. They in turn pointed us to the information center for the free walking tours which was another block away. We were told the tours were full, but we were also told the starting times and places. We were hoping maybe our names were on the list since I had sent the emails. As it turns out, getting to the start of the walks took longer than expected and we did not arrive at the beginning of the first tour until well after it had started. We walked up the hill in the park to the start of 100 minutes of nature. That walk is very uphill and not for the out of shape. We had some fabulous views at different points in the park on the way to the top of the park, as well as some interesting hard scape. The good news was that once we were at the top of the park, the rest of the day was downhill. When we exited the park, we were not sure where we were and we walked down a street (with no side streets so no street signs). It turns out we were on the far side of the park from the city. This street gave us an interesting perspective on real life in Vigo. We never felt unsafe. I will add here that we are very careful with the amount of money and what we take off the ship. We do what we can to keep from being targets of pickpockets. We found our way to the start of the 100 minutes of culture tour (well after that tour had started) and we followed our map. We saw many interesting and ornate old buildings. This took us through the business and shopping areas of Vigo. This ended near the old church that is uphill near the port. From here we continued back, to visit a few sights on the 100 minutes by the sea tour. There is an interesting area where it says the fishermen used to live. Then we headed back to the ship for a few hours of relaxation in the Solarium before dinner. LISBON - Lisbon was our next adventure. We headed out bright and early. We had decided to go to the Monastery and to the Tower of Discoveries. Our plan was to take the train. The tricky part was to cross the street (you have to head slightly to your right and mostly forward until you come to an underpass. That actually puts you in an area where you can buy tickets to the train. We weren't sure how to do this, but we watched a local. You press the name of the stop you wanted to go to (Belem) and it tells you how much you owe. The machines give change, but we did have Euro coins to purchase our tickets. The train arrived promptly. Not every train went to Belem so we had to let one train pass by. We arrived at 9:00 which was an hour before the Monastery opened. We headed to the Tower of Discoveries and took some marvelous pictures. The other couple we met on the train headed towards a bakery. They had heard this bakery made a delicious pastry from a secret recipe of the monks. I met them later and they said their pastry was wonderful. We visited the Monastery and also the cloisters (4.5 euros each). Although the cloisters were interesting and spectacular architecture, there was not a lot to see. We only spent about 30 minutes in the cloisters. We then went to the right corner of the monastery (as you face the monastery) and caught the #15 tram to the center of Lisbon. While I think we wanted the last stop, we accidentally got off one stop early at the wrong square and we walked the rest of the way. It was a short and interesting walk with shops. It started to shower and continued to shower for the next several hours. We just walked around and looked for the building that belonged to the church steeple we could see over the buildings. This was another interesting church and this took us through another neighborhood. We walked down the main shopping street back to and around the square. We decided to return to the ship. The rain put a little bit of a damper on the day. I had planned to take the #28 tram for a ride around town, but we decided we had seen a lot of Lisbon on the tram from Belam. I had seen the #15 tram go past a ship, so we took the #15 tram back. But it turned out that ship I had seen was the Pristedam that was docked closer to town. Brilliance was docked closer to the bridge. We stayed on the tram after the stop at the Pristedam, but got off as soon as the tram turned away from the water. We backtracked towards a walking bridge we had seen that went over the tracks and then backtracked from there in the direction of the Brilliance. With a little more planning or a little less rain you could probably do another tourist stop. This is a large city so if you want to see more of the major sites you need to have a plan. While we were lucky it did not pour, the steady light rain kept us from sitting down with our maps and making a last minute decision. I then had a snack in the Windjammer and spent a few wonderful hours in the Solarium and the whirlpool. For some reason, this was a formal night. Our table had decided not to dress formal and I was very happy for that. I don't think I could force my feet into my fancy shoes. We dressed neatly and went to dinner and show. TANGIERS - Another hectic day of touring awaited us. We had planned an independent walking tour with Aziz tours. They had been recommended in the Rick Steves book. We met several other couples from our roll call for the tour. Unfortunately, this was a tender day and tendering was a long and tedious process. Almost everyone on the ship took an excursion. There were only 2 excursions offered. One started at 8:30 and the other at 9:00. So everyone on the ship was up bright and early and ready to go on the first tender which didn't leave until after 9:00 because it took a long time for the ship to be cleared. We were frustrated and upset, but so were the people on excursions. Why make everyone get up so early if you know ahead of time it is going to take hours to get everyone off. Why not stagger the meeting times? As an independent it was even worse. Why make us get up so early to get tender tickets if they know they have 3 hours of excursions to get off first. They could even have told us this when they handed out the tender tickets, but instead they said it would be a few minutes until the ship was cleared for tender 1. (I think this miscommunication may be because there was new crew). When we finally got off the ship at about 11:30 we were met at the docks by our tour guide. We ended up walking 7.5 miles. We saw the old town, the new town, the souks, the Kasbah and many streets with shopping. We stopped at a carpet store for the carpet show. This was something our group wanted to do, and the other 3 couples purchased carpets. They were wrapped into small packages and they met us at the entrance to the port so that the carpets did not have to be carried all day and the purchasers did not have to pay shipping charges. We also visited a spice shop, watched them make bread at another open front store and weave. The others in our group stopped for a meal. Since my husband and I did not want to eat, the guide took us to the old synagogue. He was able to get someone to open the building for us. This was really a special treat. We walked on the beach where we saw a camel. This 5+ hour tour cost 15 euros a person. It was an interesting day in a place I never thought I would see and I never thought I would go to. I would certainly never go there for a land vacation. At 5:30 we were on the tender back to the ship. SEA DAY - Another typical sea day. We slept late and attended 2 lectures. We played miniature golf in a strong wind, watched wall climbing and spent several hours in the Solarium and the hot tub. This was an unanticipated third formal night. CORSICA - Corsica was another tender port and a whole different tender story. There was tendering for the independents on one end of the ship and tendering for excursions on another. This time, we were off the ship immediately, which was a good thing because we were not scheduled till noon (although the ship got there at 11:00). There appeared to be some security problems from France since we had just been to Morocco. RCCL collected all of our passports for the French authorities to stamp. There were rumors that RCCL would not stop in Morocco again because of the security problem. We do not know whether this was the hour it took to clear the ship in Morocco or the collection and return of all the passports in France because we had just been in Morocco. We walked around Corsica for 3 hours and took lots of pictures of statues of Napoleon. The city is very old and very quaint. It was the one sunny and hot day of the cruise. At 80 degrees we felt like we were melting. When we returned to the ship, we couldn't wait to get into the pool. I don't know how people do this during the summer when it is much hotter. VILLEFRANCE - Our plan was to go to Eze. This was another tender day. Which tender experience would we have today. We had been to Villefrance before on a Celebrity cruise and we got off first thing. So we got up early, had breakfast and got on line for tender tickets. This time we had to wait almost 2 hours to get off the ship. At least we were wiser this time. Once we realized we would not get off until after the excursions we went back to our cabin to lie down and read. We were able to hear the announcement for the tender from our cabin. We walked up the hill and found the bus stop for the bus to Eze sur Mer. There are small bus shelters with the number of the bus and the schedule of the buses that stop there. A few minutes late, but the bus arrived. We asked for a transfer but the bus driver spoke no English. He gave us a receipt. As we passed the bus shelters, we were able to see the name of the stops (so we knew when our stop was coming next) and we got off at a stop called David. There was a place to sit on a wall and wait. We chatted with a German couple from our ship that spoke English. There is nothing to do at the bus stop so I am glad we only had to wait 10 minutes for bus 83 which was right on time. The receipt was not a transfer, but the bus driver accepted it. I think he told us the French word for transfer was composition? The cost was only 1 Euro anyway. The next stop must have been the stop near the train station because many more people got on here. The ride up the hill was very interesting. The bus threaded its way back and forth up the hill. It was interesting that we planned with 2 other couples on the best way to get to Eze, but we did not get on the same tender. As it turns out, we went 3 different ways but we all got there. One couple took the train towards Monaco but it did not stop at Eze so they had to take the train from Monaco back to Eze. The other couple took the little tourist tram at the port entrance. The tram dropped them off at a bus stop to Eze. They hadn't planned this, but it saved them the walk up the hill. We got off in Eze Village and stopped at tourist information for a map and bus schedules. We spent the next several hours walking the streets of Eze. It is so interesting to see people actually living in this old town. I think this was my favorite place visited on this trip. This is one of the places where we considered an excursion to avoid the bus changes but the excursion had only a half hour stop in Eze. Yes there were many groups of tourists on excursions. We were able to avoid the groups by turning down different side streets. When we were ready to head back, it was the midday break for the bus 83 that went down the hill. Instead we decided to take the bus to Nice which was due 45 minutes sooner. There were a lot of people at the stop by the time the bus arrived. We got a seat. Everyone got on the bus because they allowed people to stand. Nice turned out to be very interesting. We had no plans and we just walked around. We happened to find the old part of town. These were the most narrow streets and just the sort of place we love. We visited a church in the old town and saw the Ministry of Justice. We walked back to the bus terminal to get the bus to Villefrance. We walked around Villefrance for a while. Villefrance is very interesting on its own. We were looking for and found the Rue Obscure - a covered road where the people hid from bombing during the war. As you can see there is plenty to do in Villefrance on your own. On our first visit to Villefrance we had visited Villefrance and the fort in the morning and walked to the Rothchild mansion in the afternoon. Next time I guess we will go to Monaco. Another sea day and then our cruise ended. We had a 10:30 flight. The daily planner had told us to inform guest relations that we had an early flight and we had done this. We did not ask for it, but they gave us self disembarkation which was fine with us. The schedule said self disembarkation would be between 7:15 and 7:25. We were having breakfast at 7:10 when they called self disembarkation. We finished breakfast and headed to our rooms to get our bags. At this time they called the first color. So we walked off the ship with our luggage at the same time as the first group heading for the RCL buses that would take them to the airport. We followed the taxi signs. There was no line. The taxi had a meter. When we got to the airport it said 25 euros. The driver quickly cleared the meter and asked for 30 euros. We decided not to argue with him. There was probably a charge for the luggage anyway, but I hate when I feel that someone is trying to rip me off. We found seats and waited for the Continental counter to open. We checked in and headed to the gate. Since this was one of a group of special gates where you had to take a bus to the plane, we waited in the main terminal until 10 minutes to boarding time. It was a nice plane with a movie screen in the back of the seat in front of me. I watched 3 movies, and they served 2 meals. Back to the real world. Here is our costs for 2: Cruise + fees $2500 On board credits -$500 Car service to Southampton $160 Novotel Southampton $160 Food Southampton $36 Le Harve tour + museums $325 Vigo $0 Lisbon transportation + cloisters $30 Tangiers tour $50 Corsica $0 Villefrance transportation $10 Taxi to airport $48 Tips $200 Total about $3,100 Add airfare + limo to and from to airport in NJ (Another $1,900) Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
My wife and I cruised with my niece and her friend, so essentially I spent the cruise in the company of three lovely women, which kept many of the other passengers guessing and boosted my ego quite a bit. Our cruise was the second of the ... Read More
My wife and I cruised with my niece and her friend, so essentially I spent the cruise in the company of three lovely women, which kept many of the other passengers guessing and boosted my ego quite a bit. Our cruise was the second of the IotS, from Southampton calling at Madeira, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Lisbon, Vigo and back to Southampton (not Western Mediterranean as I selected from the CC drop down list, but there is no selection offered for this itinerary). On a very warm and sunny day in Southampton, embarkation was fast and slick and by sailaway on deck 11 we were very much in the holiday spirit; the ship's band, 'Rock the Boat' caught our attention immediately with their superb playing, but I will come back to that. The Ship - huge of course and actually very impressive, good architecture, well designed and built. All I can compare with is QM2, and whilst the dEcor is perhaps a little jazzier, no quality is lost. I didn't think I would like the Royal Promenade, but it actually works as a main thoroughfare and social focal point for the ship. Of all the bars, we liked Boleros for a pre dinner cocktails in a very lively Latin American atmosphere, or for something quieter the Champagne Bar was also excellent. Both of these are pretty close to the main Dining Room entrance, so perfect venues just before dinner. There are of course other bars around the ship, and we used those occasionally. The top decks 11 and 12 are also well designed and create a variety of extensive sunbathing and pool areas, many of which sheltered from the wind, and on a nice late afternoon, the pool bars are a good place for a margarita or two. Flowrider and Rock Climbing wall are on the upper deck at the rear of the ship, looked good fun but didn't try. Sports Court here also, used this from time to time, kicking a ball around or the occasional 5-aside football game. Cabins - Good. We were in 7502, right at the front of the ship with a fantastic porthole facing dead ahead. We had a few gripes about the stateroom attendant but overall the cabin was as good as similar cabins on QM2, but without robes, slippers, toiletries. Casino - Big, all you need and I won so no complaints. Dining - We ate in third tier (King Lear) by the window, a wonderfully intimate setting considering the size of the restaurant, served by Milan and Olga. After the first night, which took too long and served dry steak, leaving us at that point wishing we were back on QM2, the food improved. There are only three courses but I have no problem with that, because you can supplement your meal with pretty much anything off the menu, if you can find room for it (which I could not). Milan and Olga were excellent, and took extremely good care of us (Hello Stacey, Chris and Dan). Speciality restaurants (supplement applies) Chops Grille and Portofino's were both excellent, Portofino's had the edge in my view, 5 star dining and excellent service. Entertainment - Alhambra theatre shows were OK to excellent, but even the less impressive shows are still a nice way to spend an hour in the evening. The Ice skating shows, we saw two, were superb, don't miss them. One evening the rink was converted into a venue for a crazy game show called 'The Quest'. Don't be snobby about this, go see it, you cannot help getting caught up in the fun. Otherwise there are performers ranging from violins, guitars, lounge bands etc dotted around here and there, all very nice. And then there is the ship's rock band, 'Rock the Boat'. That's right, rock band, in fact rock, pop and blues. This band, I promise you, was worth the fare alone, so much better than the usual calypso / Caribbean / party band that you will find disappearing into the background on other ships. Rock the Boat - Four extremely talented musicians and I will name them: Band lead vocalist and bass player, Curtiss; Drums and support vocalist Dave; Keyboards Dave; and last and certainly not least, lead guitar and support vocals Darren. I love this band, and Darren is an expert lead guitarist who knows how to play, really play. The blues night in the Pyramid lounge, amongst many other excellent nights when we saw the band, ranks as one of the best nights of my life. The Pyramid lounge became a blues club for the night, a sort of jamming session with a couple of the orchestra's sax players joining in for a few numbers, unrehearsed and simply magic. These guys don't know how good they are, Maybe RCI don't know either, but if you were born in the fifties like me, you will probably love these guys too. I could go on and on about this band, but I won't - just go see them. Destinations - OK, liked Madeira and Lisbon best, but actually usually were quite glad to get back on the ship. Go again - Probably, if only to catch another blues night. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This was myself and my BF's third cruise. We are in our late 30's/early 40's and took our first cruise 3 years ago and are now hooked! This was our second time on Royal Caribbean and we have also sailed with Princess. We ... Read More
This was myself and my BF's third cruise. We are in our late 30's/early 40's and took our first cruise 3 years ago and are now hooked! This was our second time on Royal Caribbean and we have also sailed with Princess. We live just outside of London so the journey down to Southampton didn't take us too long. We arrived early so drove straight in to Mayflower Park where we caught our first glimpse of the ship - WOW! It is huge and looks fantastic - we were so excited to get on! We parked at the port at 11:30 - we had pre booked a parking space. Embarkation could not have been better - we dropped our luggage off with the porters, parked and were on the ship by about 11:45. I went and checked our table assignment in the main dining room and as per our request had been given a table for 2. We went up to the Windjammer for some lunch and relaxed until our room was ready at 13:00. Stateroom - We had a cabin with a balcony on deck 9. It was great! Balcony was roomy. Bed was wonderful. The mattress topper and bedding made it so comfortable. Having the tea and coffee making facilities was a big plus! I had read about this just before we left so we took a jar of our favorite coffee with us so we could have a cup whenever we wanted. The bathroom was fine, shower really good, the fact that it had the wrap around doors rather than a shower curtain is so much better. Just a note, there is no body lotion or conditioner in the bathroom - I always take my own but thought I would let others know just incase! They do provide shampoo and bars of soap though. It was also nice to have a flat screen tv - it took up less room. Our stateroom attendant was OK and if we needed anything he would get it for us. Dining - the food in the Windjammer was fine. I always really enjoy the breakfasts and there was a good selection. We ate lunch in the Windjammer most days and Dinner a couple of times. Having the Jade section there was really good as I had some lovely rice and curry dishes from there! As always in the buffet, peak times are really heaving and it is quite difficult to get a seat - we always located somewhere to sit first so that our food wasn't cold by the time we got to a table! We ate in Johnny Rockets once - we really enjoyed it - burgers,fries and onion rings were all good. It was a fun atmosphere and they play music and dance for you! We were in the Macbeth level of the dining room on deck four. Our Waiters were fine. The food in the dining room although good, and I certainly have no complaints, was not quite as good as our first time with RCI - although there were a couple of main courses that we thought were exceptional. We did not book the speciality restaurants on this cruise. We had room service a couple of times - used the TV to order and the service and food were both good. Entertainment - The shows that we went to were mostly very good and the theatre itself is lovely - we particularly enjoyed the Motown Band and David Copperfield (not the illusionist!) The Ice Skating shows were fantastic - much better than I had imagined they would be. Also, the parades down the Royal Promenade were a lot of fun. There were so many bars and lounges to choose from that we did not manage to get to all of them! The Pyramid Lounge was really nice and the live band that they had there most nights were very good. They played a varied selection of music and had a different theme each night - 50's and 60's, Blues, Country, 70's etc. They also had a Big Band night one night. We went in to the Labyrinth nightclub and I loved the decor! It was really gothic with big crushed velvet chairs, dark booths with curtains, gargoyles etc. The music was quite a good selection as well although I never saw it really busy in there. I think that this may be have been because the average age on this cruise was a little higher than the last two that I have been on? In various other bars around the ship they had Jazz, Latin American music - the Bar with the Pianist seemed particularly popular and there was also an entertainer in the dog and badger pub who was great fun! There really is something to suit everyones taste. The Ship itself is beautiful. I know that it helps that it is brand new, but really, we thought the way that it has been designed and furnished is just lovely. For us it was the perfect blend of being fun with lots to do without being tacky. i loved the Royal Promenade. The fact that you can just go and get a coffee and a slice of pizza or pastry or a drink in the pub and look round the shops is brilliant. They had free coffee/hot chocolate and tea in both the Cafe and Sorrentos as well as the for fee lattes etc. The Casino had a good selection of slots and I did go in there a few times - I tried to limit myself to the low 1c bets though! The pool areas are great and I thought it was good that there is a whole separate area where kids can have fun. The solarium pool was nice and looked great lit up at night. It is a shame that we could not make more use of the pool deck at night but unfortunately it was a bit cold! I loved the cantilevered whirlpools. We played mini golf - great fun and also shot a few hoops in the basket ball court. My BF wanted to have a go on the flowrider, but we just never got a chance - it did look good though. Itinerary - we liked Madeira - it was very pretty. We didn't care much for either Tenerife or Gran Canaria - as we had never been to either of these places we just opted to get off the ship and walk around - if I ever did go back I think I would opt for a shore excursion. In Lanzarote we went on a camel ride and then a drive through the Timanfaya national park - we really enjoyed this! I just wish that we could have got off the coach a bit more and actually had a walk through the park as it was stunning! We had been to Lisbon and Vigo before and like both of these ports. The weather wasn't that great, but that was the only downside. Disembarking was just as easy as embarking. All in all we both loved this ship! I remember the first time that my BF said that he had booked us a cruise - I was really worried and thought it would be a big mistake and that I would hate it -how wrong I was - I am addicted, and am now busy trying to persuade him to book the short break to Cork for later in the year! If any one has any questions that I can help with please let me know. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
My husband daughter (16years) and myself went on the 10 days RCC trip out of Southampton on the cruise to Madeira/Canaries/Spain then back to Southampton. The ship is huge (having already been on 2 other RCC ships) I found this ship ... Read More
My husband daughter (16years) and myself went on the 10 days RCC trip out of Southampton on the cruise to Madeira/Canaries/Spain then back to Southampton. The ship is huge (having already been on 2 other RCC ships) I found this ship exactly the same as the Voyager of the Seas but on a larger scale. The service was good the food was good. However our waiter was not as attentive as the previous ships we have been on, we had to keep waiting for him and waiting for our wine/drinks and it wasn't as if he had lots to do as some of the tables were empty, he was particularly upset when one night none of us turned up, he seemed to sulk the next evening! The Windjammer was always packed, and quite often in the morning you had to walk round quite a few times to get a table, or if there was a waiter nearby he directed you to a table with people on it, to share, not a problem to us but could be to some people. Our daughter went to the teenager club, she loved it, met loads of kids the same sort of age, they all tend to stick together all week doing their own thing. We went to the ice shows (there were 2) they were fantastic,superb, but the shows in the theatre were ok... the RCC dancers and singers are so cheesy....don't sit near the front as it really spoils the illusion. I felt all of their shows were the same, just different songs but same tunes. Some of the acts were really good, but not all. If you get to the theatre too late then you have to sit upstairs and you cannot see anything in fact we were late once and in the end we left the theatre as the seats upstairs are awful and if you are sitting in front of the poles then forget it. The ports that we stopped at were not really very good, Madeira/Funchal was ok and the weather was quite nice, but when we stopped on the Sunday at Las Palmas (i think not sure) all of the shops were closed, why on earth did we bother to stop there was some kind of market on, but it was full of rubbish think car boot sale/jumble shop not somewhere you really want to go. The port of Vigo in Spain is a town, and yet again more shops to be honest the ports were not that well thought out, but we all said we knew why they were chosen, so that they could take this huge ship. It was great travelling from Southampton (but even the service of unloading your bags from your car to the get them on the ship was a nightmare as machine had broken....) but you are able to get on the ship from 11am (even if they do tell you 2pm onwards)and you need to get there early as all of the parking spaces were filled up really quickly. If you live locally go in a cab and you are dropped off at the front and just drop your bags in, so much easier. I don't think we would go on a ship this big again (lots of movement when we left Southampton - well I thought so... and was boring being on a ship for over 2 days in the awful weather as you could not go outside due to the wind, no way could you sunbathe far too cold even in May)but I do like RCC and would def book another one of their cruises... Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
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