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35 San Diego to British Columbia Cruise Reviews

Absolutely fantastic!! We love HAL. Everything was exceptional - organized embarkation was very fast, ports of call were great, service was exceptional, all activities and meals were all fantastic, and we can't say enough great ... Read More
Absolutely fantastic!! We love HAL. Everything was exceptional - organized embarkation was very fast, ports of call were great, service was exceptional, all activities and meals were all fantastic, and we can't say enough great things about the exceptional staff. Can't think of enough stellar words to describe all the great things about HAL. Just booked our next cruise on HAL!! The staff on any HAL ship makes your cruise experience absolutely wonderful. No request is too small, no issue is too big to be handled immediately, The staff are always smiling and sometimes singing! The whole vibe of being on a HAL ship makes one feel relaxed and happy in one's soul. And THAT is what cruising is all about. Highly recommend anyone thinking about cruising to book on HAL. You'll be hooked! Have taken other cruises and all HAL cruises are comparable to the one Cunard voyage I took years ago. Truly can't think of another cruise line that offers the fantastic experience that HAL does. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
I live in San Diego and have dear friends in Victoria, so it seemed like a no-brainer to take advantage of the great price for this short cruise to Vancouver. I also took it as an opportunity to see how I'd fare in the cheapest inside ... Read More
I live in San Diego and have dear friends in Victoria, so it seemed like a no-brainer to take advantage of the great price for this short cruise to Vancouver. I also took it as an opportunity to see how I'd fare in the cheapest inside cabin... looking ahead to when I can't find any friends to share and may only be able to afford windowless real estate onboard. As I noticed the prices going down, I was upgraded to an outside obstructed, then to an outside unobstructed, and finally to a verandah. A good friend who had never sailed before, also booked a solo room and got the same upgrade. We were happy campers! Embarkation: 3 ships were in port in San Diego and there was lots of news to avoid the area due to traffic jams and construction going on. One ship was only in for a port stop, so no passengers embarking/disembarking. The other was the Zuiderdam. We arrived at 11:00 am and promptly went through security and checking in. Alas, no one would be allowed on the ship until closer to 1:00 due to deep cleaning that supposedly was going on. The ship had been through drydock, then started the cruise in FLL for a Panama Canal crossing. Heard there had been outbreaks of Norovirus, as well as 3 deaths (according to a passenger we met at dinner). We took a walk, had lunch, and were able to board by 1:00. Cabins: We both were on the 4th deck with verandahs. I had a shower only, which was fine with me. The sink had a long countertop so there was loads of room. I loved the detail of the Dutch tiles decorating. It was evident that it had been renovated during drydock. Everything looked fresh and new, except for what may have been a cigarette burn on the countertop near the sink. So sad.The verandah in 4006 has the steel wall, but being tall, it wasn't a problem. There were 3 chairs and two tables. Leaving San Diego, we sat outside and watched our departure. The next days it was too rough and windy to spend any time outside. There's a mini-frig and I had the stewards remove some of the contents so I could place the chocolate-covered strawberries my travel agent had sent. How nice of her for such a short (and cheap!) cruise. A hairdryer was in one of the cabinets in the desk area. The lighted magnifying mirror came in handy. With just me as the occupant, I had more than enough room with the closets and two large drawers under the bed. For this trip, I barely took up any space. Weather: As mentioned before, we encountered extremely rough seas and heavy winds. This would delay our Vancouver arrival by over 7 hours. The second night, the drawers under the bed flew open, wooden hangers in the closet had to be taken off the rods as they were clanging together making a racket. Bags were placed near elevators if needed for nausea, seasickness pills and green apples made available. I didn't find it difficult to walk as I did cruising from San Diego to Hawaii for the first twodays. Once we arrived in Vancouver, it was gorgeous... though instead of the 10:00 a.m. arrival, it was 5:30 p.m. Since we didn't have any ports on this cruise, there was no way to make up the time. The ship offered free internet and phone calls for those that needed to make alternate travel plans. I felt badly for those missing flights or having friends/relatives pick them up.Dining: We ate most of our meals in the Main Dining Room at Anytime Dining and found it very nice. We requested a window table for 6, and met many lovely people. Note to some: if you choose not to be friendly, ask for a small table! Attempted to make reservations at Canneletto for one of our dinners, and after a lenghty process giving information to the steward, he finally informed us of the $10 per person charge. We decided to forego it. At least he told us upfront, not after we ate. One of the reasons I like eating in the MDR, is being able to order cappuchino adn espresso at all meals. Apparently, the machine was broken and it was very difficult to get it to work. I had one two times, but stopped ordering them when the stewards got such a pained look on their faces. Even the assistant dining manager told me it was a problem, but I should complain and let it be known to the proper sources. Perhaps an additional charge will be forthcoming for them, too. We had lunch in the Pinnacle one day and loved every morsel. It was lovely, quiet, and elegant. I took photos of each course and salivate just looking at them now! Entertainment: I enjoyed listening to the Adagio Strings each night, then off to the shows. The first one was comedian/magician Chris Blackmore- not my cup of tea... The singers performed the second night doing Simply Broadway. The last night was Irish comedian George Casey- very enjoyable. Piano Man Jamm was adorable. Such a cute personality and fun presence. My friend enjoyed the Texan Hold'Em tournaments in the Casino. Too bad he didn't win. We did a Mixology Class and had a lot of fun. I went to one of the Culinary Demonstrations, a few other offerings, and spent time in the library. Future Cruise Consultant: What an abrupt and unhelpful guy! There were no flyers of specials given out or brochures out. "Just tell what me cruise you're interested in and I'll price it for you..." That's ridiculous. Usually these people are gracious and welcoming. Not this dude. Vista Class Ship: First time on a ship this size. I've only cruised HAL and only smaller ships. I found I prefer the smaller ones. I got some good exercise traversing the ship, which was great considering the tasty meals. Disembarking 7+ hours late... definitely not the smoothest as everyone was aching to get off. Long lines, even with self disembarking and just wheeling our little luggage off. Still, Customs in Vancouver went very quickly and we were on our way to our hotel. Beautiful weather and it was still light, so no problem. This 3-night cruise went by so quickly, but we both enjoyed our time. I'd do it again, in a heartbeat! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
My elderly mother and I just returned yesterday from a 4-night cruise on HAL's Statendam. As some background, I, by no means, am a seasoned cruiser, though I hope to be one day! This was my second cruise and my mom's first. My ... Read More
My elderly mother and I just returned yesterday from a 4-night cruise on HAL's Statendam. As some background, I, by no means, am a seasoned cruiser, though I hope to be one day! This was my second cruise and my mom's first. My first cruise was on RC so I wanted to try another cruise line, as well as introduce my mom to cruising. My mom and I looked forward to this cruise to have some mother/daughter time and it could not have sailed on a better day - Mother's Day! We embarked in San Diego - I was very impressed with the expedient embarkation process. We were processed and onboard enjoying lunch within 15 minutes upon arrival at the port. Lunch at the Lido Restaurant was good. Our cabin was ready after lunch so we were excited to see it. This particular cruise was one where the cruise line assigned all the cabins so we could not choose. I found out our cabin number a couple of days before we set sail. We were in cabin 162 on Deck 9. I was really concerned because our cabin was right above the casino and having read reviews that this deck may pose significant noise issues from the deck below, I was quite concerned. Well, it was a total non-issue for our particular cabin. We did not hear any noise from below. We were pleased with having a balcony and the room was nicely updated. Afterward we walked around to get familiar with the ship. The ship is smaller but quaint. We ate at all the restaurants except the Terrace Grill - we did care to have a hamburger or hotdog as there was such a greater selection of food elsewhere. Had lunch in the MDR, which was good; really enjoyed the Afternoon Tea in the MDR; Canaletto was also tasty - mom really enjoyed her meal; Lido buffet was decent overall; on our last night we had dinner at the Pinnacle Grill-while the service was wonderful - my mom and I were very surprised at how salty ALL the food was (including our side dishes, now mind you, we had different side dishes too). She ordered broiled lobster tail and I had boneless ribeye steak. Now, dessert was a different story - excellent Baked Alaska. I did attend a couple of the cooking demos but other than that, we did not go to any shows nor the casino or bars. The highlight of the cruise is the Green Spa. My mom could have lived in the mineral spa the entire cruise. The Thermal Suite is so worth the money - a must do. HAL hit the nail on the head with this one. We really did enjoy it. We enjoyed the port stop in Victoria. It is a beautiful city. The only minor issues were that our cabin steward charged us for a soda from the minibar which we did not take. My mom purchased a soda from the Explorations Cafe and brought it back to the cabin, so I guess he thought it was taken from the minibar. Anyway, that was straightened out. And our room service order was incorrect a couple of times. Overall it was a good cruise - my mom really enjoyed it and that is all that mattered to me. Would I cruise the Statendam again? Probably not, as there are many other fish in the sea to explore. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
I admit it, I've become a travel snob and thought the wine themed cruise would be special on Celebrity but it was not. I asked around and found out the wine themed events were for wine groups that booked the cruise as a group through ... Read More
I admit it, I've become a travel snob and thought the wine themed cruise would be special on Celebrity but it was not. I asked around and found out the wine themed events were for wine groups that booked the cruise as a group through their wine clubs. I was told there were two groups on board, one had 90 people and another 100 people and the special events were for them only. There were the usual wine tasting seminars for a fee that most cruise lines offer but nothing out of the ordinary for those not traveling with a wine club. The food in the Oceanview buffet was the same everyday and boring, not much creativity there.The dining room was nicely decorated with good servers and the food was average but I am a foodie. The big touted buffet from 10 am-2PM in the dining room was mostly the foods from the Oceanview buffet with a few other items added but the presentation was excellent. We had dinner in speciality restaurant Qsine and it was fabulous. $40 each with fun and energetic servers with very creative meal items and presentation. Loved the concept, edgy and imaginative. I noticed the management staff stayed on top of the service in the bars and dining areas. If there was a bottleneck of people, the manager called for assistance and even someone in a suit jumped in to clear tables. The embarkation went smoothly and many employees were on hand to welcome passengers and assist. The customer service at the reception desk was excellent and if they didn't have the answer,they would call our stateroom with the answer. Disembarkation went smoothly also considering how many people needed to get off the ship. There is a new express procedure for those with carry on luggage only, they get off the ship first which is a good and modern procedure. Overhead announcements were minimal which made the ship more quiet and no obnoxious cruise director was yelling out the latest bingo jackpot-yeah!! Entertainment with the comedians was very good but the chef cook off was just okay. Professor Lisa's presentations were outstanding and witty. Lots of people gathered in the frosty styled martini bars and cafe al Bacio for morning espressos and snack time. These were the gathering holes for good drinks and relaxation with entertaining live music. The newly designed ship is more modern and gone are the days of gaudy staircases and flamboyance. Colors are softer and have more of a cosmopolitan look. Good customer service all the way around. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
The Missus and I booked a quickie on the Millennium from San Diego to Vancouver for a number of reasons. First, there aren't that many short West Coast cruises anymore. Second, it was an easy way to achieve Elite status on ... Read More
The Missus and I booked a quickie on the Millennium from San Diego to Vancouver for a number of reasons. First, there aren't that many short West Coast cruises anymore. Second, it was an easy way to achieve Elite status on Celebrity. Third, it was a way to experience Aqua Class, on the cheap, in a newly "Solsticized" Millennium-class ship. We were originally booked for Concierge but found that, for not a whole lot extra, we could upgrade to Aqua. Done. We previously cruised on the Summit and Infinity, pre-Solstice. After reading the not-too-positive reviews of Millennium right before it went into the yard for the update, we wondered what we were getting into - and whether the ship would be released on schedule in time for our cruise. Millennium was out of service just long enough to complete the renovations started on the previous cruise. Thus, there was a lot left undone - it would have been nice to scrub off the dirt and spray over the rust spots. What was done, was similar to other Millennium-class ships that received the Solstice treatment. Most of you already know this. But if you do not: The Fun Factory kids' space was moved out and new cabins were installed on Deck 11, turning that space into true revenue space. A group of former Concierge cabins on 9 also were turned into Aqua cabins; having stayed on that deck before, I could see the need to add more bells and whistles. They're right under the pool deck and there is not a lot of sun or sky visible from the verandas, as well. The bells and whistles of Aqua, of course, are having the run of its own specialty restaurant, Blu, as well as Persian Gardens access. Likes: Our Deck 11 cabin: It was nice to move into a cabin that has barely been lived in. Everything's new. No wear, no bedbugs. None of the furniture or woodwork has been beaten up yet. You're only one deck above the Oceanside Cafe for a quick, non-Blu bite, and from the pool area. However, you're a long way from everything else, especially AquaSpa (after all, isn't this what Aqua class is all about?). The verandas need better care. The stewards hadn't time to spray everything down, and everything was encrusted with salt. The chairs are metal with a Sunbrella-type fabric, and are nice once they're cleaned off. Really liked the rain shower in the cabin bathroom, along with the accompanying full-body shower, once I mastered the controls. The more you use it, though, the more water you leak through the double tempered-glass doors into the bathroom. It is still an enjoyable soak. The new Aqua deck is new and unproven territory to the cabin stewards. Not everything promised appeared at once, but it took only a day to produce them all - tea, flowers, canapes, and the like. The champagne went quickly. Our stewards, Javier and Humberto, were hard-working and likeable, and efficient; this wasn't always the case on previous Celebrity cruises. Blu: probably the most controversial aspect of our cruise. We thought the food wouldn't be any different than the Metropolitan Dining Room in which it resides. We ate breakfast and dinner there the entire cruise, which changed our minds 180 degrees. Blu can be thought of, either as another specialty restaurant (with fairly exclusive access) or as a really cool restaurant you might find on shore. Some of the entrees mirror what's being served in the Metropolitan, but Blu has its own kitchen and chefs and the entrees are prepared in a different manner. As with any land-based restaurant, Blu has its good (and, not-so-good) nights. Some meals are done quite well, thank you, in Blu. They serve a mean steak. The Missus raved about the scallops appetizer - as tender a product as we've had on shore. Others? The desserts can be a bit over the top. A "parfait" is normally layers of ingredients served in a special glass. In Blu, it is served in a flat tray with each layer laid out separately. A pea soup is so neon-green that you want to run back to your stateroom for sunglasses. Yet, it tastes terrific. You really have to expect the unexpected in this particular restaurant. Blu breakfasts are relatively pedestrian, in comparison. Lots of the usual staples - baked goods, griddle stuff. Since it serves Aqua passengers, there is an emphasis on healthy stuff. Several parfaits (in real parfait glasses) and smoothies are offered. The staff makes muesli from scratch. Your mind may tell you that traditional muesli is a watery, milky gruel. Here, you call the shots in assembling your muesli, from a cart loaded with ingredients. Your taste buds will tell you that you did very well. It really is good, and you should try it at least once. Previous messages on the CC boards indicated dissatisfaction with the "coziness" of the seating in Blu. It isn't a very big space for all the Aqua passengers. You are so close to your neighbor's table that you can reach over and sample what is on their plates. The space issue didn't bother us after the first day. In fact, we struck up quite a few conversations with those at neighboring tables. Because of the space issue, we found the dinner seating far better after 7:30 or 8:00 (the restaurant is open from 6:00 - 9:30 p.m.). Jovet was the maitre d' in Blu for this particular cruise. He is a "trainer" maitre d' - he works with the restaurant staff to ensure they get things right, after a fashion, before moving on to the next new Blu (he's bound for the last new Solstice ship when it comes on line this year). Jovet rushed around, greeting guests, busing tables, talking, always talking with the guests. During a slack period, he explained that he led by example; if the boss is doing what the rest of the staff is doing, everyone else has no excuses. On every other cruise we've been on, we might see the maitre d' circulating on the last night of a cruise, fishing for tips. Not in Blu. As previously mentioned, Blu can have good and bad nights. This was especially true when dinner patrons couldn't stagger their arrival times, such as when shore tours returned late to the ship. Under a full load, the kitchen staff tended to falter under stress. Entrees would come late, and cold. My lobster tails were a half-hour behind schedule, and were tough and rubbery. We gave up on dessert one night when the waiter disappeared on us. Still, this is all new to the staff. They should be able to pull it all together over the long Alaskan cruise season. Persian Gardens: The other bells-and-whistles attraction of Aqua. Nothing new about the Gardens; they've mostly been around since the Millennium-class ships first set sail. What's new is that the Turkish and dry baths, along with the wonderful heated benches, are free to Aqua passengers. Nothing new to most CC readers, here...but we thought this was a great attraction. Thalassotherapy Pool: Our favorite spot. We spent at least a portion of each day there. The cold, blustery weather kept the outside pools and whirlpools from being used to any great extent. Bistro on Five: You do pay a cover charge, but it isn't excessive. They put out excellent crepes and panini sandwiches. Not Crazy About: Martini Bar: It replaced the Internet Cafe. It has a space of its own now, instead of being part of a lounge. We found it to be a bit "gimmicky". The bartenders were nowhere near as fun as those in the previous Martini Bar. Cosmos: The traditional lounge above the Spa has been bisected by the kids' Fun Factory. I hate this, although I know it had to go somewhere after being 86'd by our Deck 11 Aqua cabins. Now the lounge has lost its symmetry as well as most of its space. The panoramic view is gone. Because the space is smaller, sound tends to bounce around more (the party band, Headlines, is pretty good - but would it kill them to lower the sound level by half?). The Cosmos sign is not located above the main door. It is located, instead, in the domed atrium leading to the jogging track outside. How many guests expect to come to Cosmos that way? iLounge: Only good if you're heavily invested in Apple products. Another gimmicky attraction, complimented by the Apple specialty boutique downstairs. Library: Not as good as others in the Celebrity fleet as far as variety of volumes goes. Quite a few books that were non-fiction were labeled as fiction, and vice versa. Celebrity, if you're looking for a fleet librarian, I'm available... Miscellaneous: Qsine: Did not try it on this cruise. We're booked on a 14-day Eastern Canada itinerary on Summit in the fall, and figure to wait until then to help break up the dining monotony (and because we're currently not booked into Aqua, we won't be in Blu for a while). Ditto for The Olympic. Cellar Masters: Also did not try, since we're not big wine snobs. I did like the novelty of the self-serve wine carousel, which is becoming big in some shoreside hotels these days. Tours: Didn't take any. We're from the Bay Area, so San Francisco was old hat for us; we slummed around Pier 39 in the morning and spent a sun-splashed afternoon on our veranda. We've been to Victoria before, and merely walked around town. Those were the only port calls on this repositioning cruise. Entertainment: We had an issue with Take Note, the dance quartet in Rendez-Vous. They took forever to set up (C'mon, people! The Grateful Dead took less time to tune up than you did). And when they did set up, they really weren't very good. Rondell Sheridan, the featured standup comic, is a poor man's Chris Rock and was quite funny. Captain's Club: We are members, but were never notified about the onboard events and missed most of them. The Captain's Club party was rather perfunctory, and conflicted with a lot of mid-afternoon activities. It would be nice if Celebrity enforced the dress code for this event. "Smart Casual" has been dumbed-down to the point that it's a complete joke. You might as well sail on Carnival. Overall: A much better cruise than we expected, thanks to the Aqua Class upgrade. We'll keep trolling for Aqua discounts on future Celebrity cruises. It will be very difficult to return to main (or even Select) dining after we've tried Blu. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
This was our second cruise on Celebrity, the first being on Solstice in the Caribbean in January, this year. I've been following the progression of the "solsticizing" of the Millennium on the Celebrity website, so my hopes ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Celebrity, the first being on Solstice in the Caribbean in January, this year. I've been following the progression of the "solsticizing" of the Millennium on the Celebrity website, so my hopes were high. We booked an Aquaclass cabin, which, at the time, was less than any Concierge class. Then we upgraded to a Suite guarantee for not much more. We flew to San Diego the day of the cruise and took a cab right to the ship. The driver tried to tell us that he only took cash, but we know that in San Diego all taxis are required to accept credit cards (and it's emblazoned all over the cab windows), so we insisted on using credit. The check-in went smoothly until we got on the ship. All on-boarding guests were funneled to a single bank of four elevators, and one was not working. Not a great beginning. We found our cabin, 9123, which turned out to be a Sky Suite "Accessible", meaning wheelchair-accommodating. What that translated to was a bathroom with a floor-level, walk-in/roll-in shower, but with no storage whatsoever -- not one shelf, and a tiny sink. We immediately went to the Guest Relations counter and reported that we did not need the "accessible" part and would greatly prefer to transfer to another cabin. They did not hold out much hope, and told us that they would not know until everyone was on board after the ship sailed. We did not unpack, just in case. We proceeded to an informal Cruise Critic meet-and-greet in the Sunset Bar, which very few of us found. We did at least meet Sigfried and Ilse, Dana (Danna?) and Bruce, and Eric and Jennifer (Gonzo70). Then we all took off to muster, which was short and sweet. We next met our suite butler, Ramir, to whom we repeated our wish to transfer cabins. The first pleasant surprise was an invitation to suite passengers to watch the sailaway from the helipad at the very front of the ship. We were all met in a lounge and then guided through the upper level of the theater outside to the helipad for a selection of sparkling, white and red wines. The weather was wonderful, so this was a great experience! When we got back to our cabin the miracle actually happened! We switched Sky Suites with another couple on the same deck who were very eager for the accessible bathroom because the bathtub was an insurmountable obstacle for the husband. Yippee! We rolled into our new space, 9111, and immediately took off to dinner in the MDR. The table by the window was great, as were our tablemates, and the prime rib was absolutely delicious. The show in the theater was lots of fun, but the lighting on-stage was poor, which I reported to the CD. The next day at sea was sunny but too cold to sit by the pool, never mind get into the pool. One big drawback on this class of ship is that when it's windy and cold outside, the entire pool area and the deck above it are unusable. Even going out to the pool area to grab a burger from the outside grill was unthinkable. That cut out a lot of the ship, not to mention our favorite place to hang out. Finding a quiet place to read was a major problem. The events in the lounges were chatty and loud. We ended up staying in the cabin a lot. We could not use the balcony, either, because it was much too cold. Yes, there were two lounge chairs out there, but oddly, no table at all. The bed was comfortable, especially after we requested extra pillows. That sea day was formal night, and we were surprised that suite passengers could reserve seats in the theater for that evening. That was another nice, surprise perk! That show was introductory and short. The next night's singing and dancing show was the best, and the lighting was better but still weak. There was some confusion about whether, as suite passengers, we were entitled to one free specialty restaurant. Our butler found out that we could book one for $5 each, which we requested him to do on our evening in San Francisco (the next day) -- although the charge was odd. We live in San Francisco, so we played tourist in the morning and greatly enjoyed the fog burning off. Then we stopped off at home to water the plants, since we were so close, and still had plenty of time to get back to the ship for martinis. We reported to Qsine at 9 p.m., as our butler supposedly reserved, but they had no record of us. We reported to Guest Relations to complain, and they got us into Qsine anyway, and for no charge at all. So much for the butler... We had thought it was odd that we received a thank-you note from Qsine that morning instead of the following morning...hmmm... The iPad menu completely baffled me, but my other half figured it out right away. The presentation also put me off, but the food was wonderful and so was the service. We would recommend it after all. All other meals were in the MDR. Breakfast and lunch in the buffet were mostly boring, and the coffee was terrible every day. We picked out the parts we liked, and surely missed the multi-station buffet on the Solstice. We also missed the wonderful central atrium on the Solstice, along with its feeling of space and light. I have never been on a cruise ship where I could not find even one thing I wanted to buy in the shops -- until I got to "The Emporium" on the Millennium. Even the logo wear was not a bit interesting. On this cruise we experienced our first Captain's Club event, which was a cocktail party in Cosmos, which is a great lounge on the top deck, front, just after noon. The sushi was delicious, but the carved beef was way overdone and dry. The crepes Suzette table screamed sugar and did not work well with the cocktail theme. The captain's speech and the introduction of the officers was charming, and the entire event lasted an hour. A nice touch after all. The bars overall were OK, but there was a bartender in the casino who did not know that a cocktail consists of ice, then liquor, then mix. The liquor is never added to the mix; it's the other way around. Not the friendliest guy, either. It seemed to take forever to get into Victoria, BC, where we arrived late. We were surprised to find out how far we docked from the city center, so we took a shuttle bus for $8 each, R/T, which turned out to be a perfect choice. It was gloomy in Victoria, but not raining, so we did a little shopping and found a wonderful little pub, Garrick's Head, in which to enjoy a tall draft pale ale and some onion rings. Perfect! Our disembarkation ("debarkation?") in Vancouver was quick and easy since we walked off with our luggage early and with no crowds at all. It was drizzling when we got off, so we were very happy to discover that the SkyTrain station was quite close to Canada Place (an easy walk). This was our first time taking it to YVR, and it was inexpensive and extremely clean and efficient. San Francisco's BART could learn a lot from them!!! Thinking back on the whole experience, it was an enjoyable trip but not nearly as grand as we pictured. The suite was OK, but not worth the money. We were directly under the pool deck and got very tired of the clomping of shoes and high heels overhead, not to mention the extremely poor idea of the crew rearranging deck furniture at 12:15 a.m.!! Some days we received canapes before dinner, some days we did not. The fruit basket disappeared completely on the next-to-last day. We did a lot more reading than we expected, and we missed the daytime movies that Princess is so good about in the theater. The cold weather at sea kept everyone confined to the inside areas, so perhaps a warmer destination would have helped. For us, we'll stick with the Solstice class ships. We did enjoy all of the people we met. Everyone was charming, and that was a highlight of the entire vacation! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
This was our first trip on the Millie, and also our first repo. We had sailed before on the Century, which had immediately felt like an old friend, as well as Century's sister ship, Mercury, now renamed and sailing in Europe. Millie ... Read More
This was our first trip on the Millie, and also our first repo. We had sailed before on the Century, which had immediately felt like an old friend, as well as Century's sister ship, Mercury, now renamed and sailing in Europe. Millie is a larger ship, and was looking very spruced up thanks to its recent dry dock upgrades. We took the train to San Diego and stayed the night before at the Courtyard San Diego Downtown. It was a very nice hotel, but being a Saturday night, we were woken up by drunk guests walking to their rooms at 11 pm and then again at 1 am yelling in the hallway. That is the nature of hotels in general, I am afraid. It was a hike up the hill from the train station and then down again to the pier the next day, but we plan to stay there again next year before going on another cruise planned on our beloved Century. The hotel was close to Horton Plaza and many shops and restaurants. We had lunch at Old Spaghetti Factory, which DD and DS didn't care for, but which DH and myself enjoyed. We had snacks at Baja Fresh which is on Broadway just up the hill from the port. We have been to San Diego before, so we just went to Sea Port Village. We recommend the USS Midway for those who have not yet visited that great piece of history, and also Balboa Park. Getting on the ship was easy. There were lines, but things moved along quickly. Our cabin was ready, so we dropped off our luggage (we carry all ours on ourselves), and went to the buffet which was not too crowded and which is similar to the set up on Century and Mercury. At dinner, we were assigned to a large table of 12. We had never been asked what our table preference was when booking, but last time we sailed together on the Mercury we had a table for four, so I didn't think to ask Captain's Club about it. Families traveling together who want their own table should inquire beforehand. Both DD and myself are vegetarians, so finding an entree at dinner is a challenge. There was a vegetarian selection offered each night, however, all of them were spicy, so I skipped the entree each night, whereas DD asked for Fettuccine Alfredo one night and received spaghetti with Alfredo sauce instead. The same thing happened to me years ago on the Oceanic- must be the go-to choice for chefs. To his credit, our waiter did ask if there was anything else they could get me- that was nice, but I didn't take him up on the offer. I did order an extra salad or fruit soup sometimes instead, but he didn't bring it. I guess you are only allowed one choice from each category on the menu. He also forgot to bring DS' fruit soup one night which he loves, so that bummed him out. I think our wait staff had too many people to serve- others had mentioned this in earlier reviews. It is too bad really, the staff has no time to speak with you individually and share stories/experiences, or get to know your food preferences as they did in the past. Also, the tips are now charged to your account each day, and there are no longer any vouchers issued as in the past which you had passed out to the crew on your last night. It does seem that the crew knows what they will be earning in advance, so there is little effort to go the extra mile. We had an interior cabin near the library. We really liked our cabin. The location was perfect. The only issues I had with the cabin was the rust on the tile in the bathroom which needs to be replaced during the next dry dock, and also the toilet seats needed to be replaced during dry dock and weren't. That would have been a simple upgrade. When the ship was moving at a fast pace, there was a creaking noise from the ceiling above the beds, but when the ship was going from Victoria to Vancouver at a much slower pace, the noise stopped. Anyway, I managed to sleep through it. I enjoyed the Persian Garden offered for $79 for the five night cruise, however, on the last night it closed an hour early for "deep cleaning". I was the only one in there and DH told me that if several others had been using it, they probably would have closed it down station by station instead of just telling me they were closing. That was a bummer. The ladies' changing/shower room nearby was also closed, so you had to walk back to your cabin wet and feeling dirty. They also didn't tell you that a 15% tip is added to the bill- you find that out when you get your final statement on the last night. If you have a day spa near your home, you can probably skip the Persian Garden, but for those of you who enjoy the spa experience, it would probably be money well spent. A must-do experience on the cruise was the Bistro on Five. John was our waiter both times we dined there on port days when we were too late for the MDR. Even though he wrote down our order, he kept forgetting to bring some of the dishes, however, he was very attentive so we simply ordered some dishes for the second time when he came around again. No one left hungry, in fact, poor DH ate so much on the first visit that he left uncomfortably full and remembered to order fewer dishes on our second visit. The brownies are served in whipped cream- very good. The best dish is the Italian Crepe made with bananas and Nutella. Also recommended are the Cowboy and Spanish Crepes. The chef came out to visit and she was very pleased to hear from DD that her crepes were better than the ones DD had in France. Bistro on Five is well worth the $5pp charge- best deal on the ship. Regarding the ports, for San Fran we booked a tour on Alcatraz directly with the National Park Service. Wonderful tour, everyone should experience this interesting piece of American history. After that we walked around Pier 39. We had walked up to Coit Tower in the morning to try to see the wild parrots, but they weren't around. In Victoria, we just walked around since there wasn't very much time to spend in port that day, and DH and myself had just been there two years ago. We recommend the castle for those of you who enjoy old historic homes, tea at the Empress for fans of high tea, and Butchart Gardens if you love flowers. We arrived in Vancouver on time, and had an easy exit off the ship. We spent the day in Vancouver and then took the afternoon train to Seattle. On the way, I saw my first Bald Eagle from my window seat. Lovely train ride along the ocean. We spent two nights in Seattle at the Courtyard Pioneer Square before flying home. We had a very nice room in a corner with a nice view of the city, this time without any noise in the hallway. We would stay there again. We recommend the Music Experience for music fans, Smith Tower, the Underground Tour, the Space Needle, and taking the monorail. The people taking the Duck Tour also sounded like they were having a lot of fun as they drove by. Overall, we had a perfectly nice vacation on the Millie. I never felt at home on the Millie as I had with the Century, but that is a typical experience with me. Sometimes I just never feel that I have seen the whole ship. The upgrades done in dry dock made the ship very pretty, but I hope they finish fixing all of the little things- especially the clocks which mysteriously all seemed to tell a different time. The buffet lunch in the dining room presented one day was very nice- almost as good as the midnight buffets of long ago. The Baked Alaska in the MDR was also a nice surprise. The buffet had the same food every day, but there was always something to eat. The pizza was better than what you generally find in the buffet or pool side. We only saw the first two shows, but we enjoyed them, as well as the backstage tour of the theater done for Select members. We have sailed three times now with Celebrity and will continue to do so. Celebrity represents a good value, and even when things aren't perfect- you can still have a perfectly good time.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Prior to this cruise I did my homework if you will as much as possible prior to sailing for this being a first time cruise by catching up on reviews and as much information as possible from this site. As a first time cruiser I was not ... Read More
Prior to this cruise I did my homework if you will as much as possible prior to sailing for this being a first time cruise by catching up on reviews and as much information as possible from this site. As a first time cruiser I was not disappointed. We went into this with a fairly open mind as first time cruisers as to what to expect and were not at all disappointed. Also, it should be noted the running joke during the course of the cruise was this was my "first" cruise where I did not have to work as I am retired navy. Booked the 5 day Pacific Coastal cruise on Celebrity Millennium as this was the second cruise after the Solictization refit. Flew down to San Diego two days prior to the arrival of Millennium and stayed two nights at the Holiday Inn - On the Bay literally across the street from the cruise ship pier, had a bay view room in the hotel and the morning of the cruise opened my balcony curtains to see the ship across the street from my room. Had a late check out at 2pm and walked across the street to the terminal dropped off our bags and proceeded to the security screening and check-in. All total from the time we entered the security screening and check-in to getting to our stateroom it probably was all of 25-30 minutes, but about what you might expect for checking in close to 2000 passengers on a ship (try that with 2000 passengers and TSA at any major airport)There was the customary champagne and mimosas that were nice, as we got onboard everyone was gathering at the first elevators near the gangway, so we wandered aft and found the aft elevators pretty much empty and went right up to our stateroom, the only issue here was the time it took for luggage to arrive at our stateroom, well after the muster brief and just as we were getting underway, (note we had been onboard for almost two hours now.) Once we got unpacked and settled in we used the time to go explore the ship and find a nice spot for the sail-away which was a fantastic view of the San Diego city. Dining - first night we chose to eat at the Ocean View Grill on deck 10 which had a very nice selection of entree items set in a buffet style arrangement. Also purchased a specialty dining package for the Olympic Room during our at sea evening after San Francisco which was superb, service, menu selection (Chilean Sea Bass) and wine selections were all outstanding. A couple of nights we chose the MDR as we also had the option of select dining and had the same window seat on the port and as well I was impressed with the menu selections and presentation (Lamb shank which fell off the bone.) We also purchased a premium drink package and I must say Keisha and Michael in the casino bar, and the gentleman from the Martini bar had it most entertaining and enjoyable experience. On the last night of our cruise we watched one of the bar tenders at the Martini bar pour a Martini flight of 24 glasses at one time! Very entertaining to watch. Entertainment wise we checked out the Celebrity theater the first night underway and after that it was mostly Cosmos, Michaels and the lounge. As we had a concierge class stateroom we took advantage of the enhanced room service menu and enjoyed breakfast each morning on the veranda. And would also like to thank our stateroom attendant Willy for outstanding service and attention to detail while making our trip enjoyable. There were some minor issues as a result of the refit in our stateroom that were corrected during the cruise, such as during the resurfacing of the veranda deck in our stateroom there were glue foot prints on the threshold of the sliding door and splashes of paint and glue on the outside glass, but these were taken care of during port visits while away from the ship. All in all, I was very impressed and had a most relaxing vacation during my first cruise and enjoyed meeting our new cruise friends Dave and Patty from Louisiana, and all the wonderful crew members who worked so hard to make our first cruise so much fun and relaxing. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We took a four night cruise on HAL Statendam from San Diego to Vancouver. This was the final leg of a Panama Canal cruise originating in Fort Lauderdale. We greatly enjoy San Diego and the timing wasn't right for the full twenty ... Read More
We took a four night cruise on HAL Statendam from San Diego to Vancouver. This was the final leg of a Panama Canal cruise originating in Fort Lauderdale. We greatly enjoy San Diego and the timing wasn't right for the full twenty night cruise so after staying one night at the Hampton Inn on Pacific Highway we boarded the ship at the new cruise ship terminal. The Hampton provides van service for this at no charge. I have mostly very positive things to relate about the cruise but I have inserted the paragraphs below early in this document because they contain important information that I wish to prioritize. Our flight back to the Midwest was from Seattle because we wished to visit some friends there. So, I explored ways of traveling from Vancouver B.C.. I discovered that HAL had a one night cruise on Amsterdam departing the same day our Statendam cruise arrived and for a great price of only $29. So I booked that one night cruise on line directly on the HAL website and felt quite proud of my brilliance since it would save us a night in a hotel and get us fed and transported to Seattle. Two days prior to our Statendam cruise departure however, I received a call from HAL informing me that I was in violation of the Jones Act because I had booked a back to back trip departing from Canada. I was aware of the Jones Act provision requiring a stop at a foreign port before returning to the U.S. but had no idea that my brilliant one day cruise YVR to SEA was illegal. I was instructed to pick one to cancel, so, of course I cancelled the one day cruise. I received several answers as to why the one nighter was not permitted by law one of which is that the traveler must have a 24 hour break in traveling before booking a back to back which results in a departure from a foreign port to a US port. Please learn from my mistake. A travel agent might have caught this but I booked directly with HAL but on different days and there was no computer edit that merged my reservations, spotting the problem. The Statendam trip was a very nice cruise, although short with only a single stop at Victoria. However, that is a great little city with a nice park, Beacon Hill a short walk from the pier and the walk to downtown is scenic and good exercise. The entertainment on board was strong especially the vocals by Jordan. The last night of the cruise only a movie was provided which was a bit disappointing. After the passengers boarded in San Diego the entire ship was required to do the life boat drill again. It was fortunate that the majority of the passengers were understanding Canadians because had there been other countries citizens primarily (I mean us Americans), there would have been a great deal of complaining. An older gentleman became ill during the life boat drill and the ship EMTs responded. The length of these close quarter drill formations is a problem for many people and those with disabilities or age issues should be encouraged to find seats during the drill. As usual the food was excellent in the Rotterdam MDR, Canaletto and even the Lido where sushi is served at lunch and fresh squeezed orange juice is provided at no extra charge each morning. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We were fairly impressed by the Oosterdam, in that it is a beautiful ship with nice decor. I expected it to be tacky from the other reviews but did not find it so. Everything looked very modern and functional. I especially like the ... Read More
We were fairly impressed by the Oosterdam, in that it is a beautiful ship with nice decor. I expected it to be tacky from the other reviews but did not find it so. Everything looked very modern and functional. I especially like the glass elevators on the outside of the ship that traveled between decks at midships. The pools are large and one could actually swim laps in them. The hot tubs were clean and generally warm but not really hot. The central pool deck covers when the weather is poor making it quite comfortable to sit at even when the weather doesn't cooperate. There were lots of nice nooks and crannies to sit and read in a sheltered area. The Lido deck has the different buffets: Entrees, Dessert, Drinks, Asian and Italian. This changes at the different meal times. We ate supper in the Vista Dining lounge and found the food to be excellent, and the service was doting. I felt it would have been nice to have a little more seafood such as lobster or crab but, nonetheless it was very tasty. The shows at night were entertaining, but not amazing. At least they try to entertain you so you have to give them some credit. I was not impressed by the activities because they seemed to be all about upselling you products rather than just giving you information or an activity to do. I was not please to find that they charged extra to use the steam rooms, hot pool and sauna- they wanted $100 for four days. This was included in the Carnival cruise. The port we stopped at was quite limited with very few activities unless you wanted to pay to do the usual whale watching, kayaking etc. Other than that we enjoyed ourselves. This would be a good cruise for just relaxing as long as you don't get bored to easily. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Embarkation at SD was delayed due to a death during the preceding cruise. Celebrity did it's best to make us comfy but it's an old, un air conditioned terminal. An annoying thing was that when we arrived by taxi from the airport, ... Read More
Embarkation at SD was delayed due to a death during the preceding cruise. Celebrity did it's best to make us comfy but it's an old, un air conditioned terminal. An annoying thing was that when we arrived by taxi from the airport, a porter rushed to pull our luggage from the taxi. He then moved it about 10 feet to a line where we needed to show our documentation. The porter, of course expected his tip, as did the next porter about 10 feet away who took the luggage to put it on the ship after he too, got a tip.   We booked the Milli about 10 years ago when it was new and large. Now it's old and mid sized..but...it's so easy to get around..and so pretty..and well maintained. Putting the glass elevators on the port side of the ship, visible from both the back and front end of the ship made it clear to us where we were. We had just taken a Soltice class ship a few months ago which set the new standard for us. We thought we'd find the Milli old and outdated. Wrong. I remembered that the ship used to have a CD library called "Notes" and the elevators still indicates it's there...it's not...it's the Acupuncture Center now. Anyway, it looked like new carpeting thruout the ship and the bed was comfy...everything worked except the toilet for an hour. Most passengers were in the over 50 range, few kids and lots of UK residents added to our enjoyment.       Activities: We didn't find much we were into. There was an outstanding naturalist on board, Milos, who spoke during the 3 sea days and made learning about how the earth was formed, why the planets we see at night are lots' older than we think, and animals of the NW. Generally speaking, we find Princess daytime activities more to our liking...even the movies on board were boring..all G or PG, I think.       Service: outstanding as far as performance....everywhere...competent, fast...now friendliness was something else as far as the dining room staff went. The wait staff seemed confused very often and defensive. The cabin attendant seemed liked he wished to be elsewhere. Others on the ship whom we passed and Guest Relations were all top notch.       Shore Excursions: The only tour we took was in Seattle to Boeing and the HOHO in Victoria. Very interesting tour of Boeing. The route of the HOHO in Victoria was more limited than I remembered it to be...still, a nice way to get around that beautiful city. We rented cars or golf carts elsewhere.       Dining: We ate most all meals in the MDR..we did Select (anytime) dining and only needed to wait once for a table. Food was very good but they pureed most veggies..we do have teeth, so this was very unnecessary. Pizza was outstanding and in the Aqua Spa, they had the best salmon I ever ate anywhere. Burgers were OK..nothing outstanding about them. Once during the cruise, the ship had a brunch in the MDR....very good selection..very good quality.       Entertainment: we saw two of three production shows and they were outstanding..among the best we've ever seen..featured 2 M and 2F singers..shows were original, fun and professionally executed. We caught one half of the Don Given comedy act and were sorry we didn't see the entire show..he was laugh out loud funny..not insulting, not nasty..just very, very funny. There was a male singer featured one night, whose name escapes me..he did a variety of b'way, opera, and pop songs and the show was definitely worth the time. The piano player with the voice which sounded like nails on a chalkboard almost made my ears bleed...horrible..frightening bad...great at the keyboards, but, sir..please, step away from the mic. As far as lounge acts..an acoustic guitar-singer, Justin Wade was also very enjoyable, with a unique voice and arrangement..mostly James Taylor type of songs with some standards..Justin had a unique voice with interesting arrangements. Finally, there was an acapella group with loads of talent and personality..everyone seemed to love One Touch..couldn't get enuf of them.       Disembarkation: We were assigned to a 9:15 AM meet in a lounge to depart and actually got our luggage, went thru customs and immigration and were on our Vancouver Shuttle at 10:15 to the airport for our 2:30 PM flight. Vancouver shuttle is highly recommended..very well organized...paid in advance online so I didn't need to wait on line at the terminal.       Summary: we'd do this again in a heartbeat...great ports, great onboard experience. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
- Stayed at the Embassy Suites Downtown prior to cruise. Hotel was really close to the port and we were dropped of by Enterprise at the pier after turning in the rental car Downtown. - Embarkation in San Diego was a rough evolution. There ... Read More
- Stayed at the Embassy Suites Downtown prior to cruise. Hotel was really close to the port and we were dropped of by Enterprise at the pier after turning in the rental car Downtown. - Embarkation in San Diego was a rough evolution. There were 2 ships in port and the Port of San Diego was NOT ready to handle the crowd. An unfortunate event on the ship added to the confusion,caused delays with boarding and eventually delayed our departure. - Millennium is a good looking ship and appears to be well maintained. It does not have a huge multi story Centrum with big lights and lots of glitz. Millennium gets by with a much more cozy and sedate layout which we found to be very nice. - Cabin was an S1 Sky Suite. The room was comfortable with plenty of storage. If you have any mobility issues be wary of the bathtub. It has a high stepover height and it took my wife (bad knees) and I a moment to figure out the best way to enter and exit the tub-shower combo. There are plenty of places to grab onto so it became a non-issue for us. The Butler service was awesome. Fresh fruit and daily Tea/Snacks were a nice touch. Our Butler (Alwi) and Attendant (Luna) were a joy to sail with and they provided quality service through every part of the cruise. - Did the Select dining 4 nights in the MDR and felt that the service was not as good as when you deal with a set table and service crew. Dined in the Olympic for 5 nights and we cannot say enough good things about the food or service. Our server was Glen and we requested him each night because of his professional service and warm personality. To cruise aboard the Millennium and not dine in the Olympic will be cheating yourself out of a wonderful experience. The buffet was better than we had experienced on other cruises. Purchased 1 Premium alcohol package and 1 non-alcoholic package. It was really nice to not have to sign all those receipts. However, it was tough to get a server to come back and get that second drink order. Even though a gratuity is prepaid, I believe the grat pool split entices the server to search for greener pastures. - Public areas were enjoyable. The mineral pool in the Solarium and the Persian Garden (Steam Rooms) are not to be missed. Spa and workout facilities never seemed crowded. - Disembarkation was painless and well planned both on the ship and at Canada Place. Plenty of help in the terminal with luggage and directing traffic. San Diego could learn a few things from Vancouver - Took the Quick Shuttle from Canada Place back to Seattle for about $82.00. The trip took 3.5 hrs to Downtown with a stop at the border for U.S. Customs. The Shuttle will take you all the way to SeaTac for flights out. - The Wine Cruise Itinerary was very enjoyable, made better by a quality ship and crew. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Our first impression of the ship was amazement at the poor condition of the ship and lack of maintenance particularly in the private guest areas like the balconies. (See attached). Balcony furniture had peeling paint and unvarnished ... Read More
Our first impression of the ship was amazement at the poor condition of the ship and lack of maintenance particularly in the private guest areas like the balconies. (See attached). Balcony furniture had peeling paint and unvarnished tabletops. The balcony floor was soiled and discoloured. Celebrity markets itself as an upscale cruise experience- we knew that the ship was older and would lack the amenities of the Solstice class of more modern ships; however we still expected a ship with some element of elegance and class typical of well-maintained older vessels. The entire ship appears old and worn out. Furniture and drapes are faded and discoloured. Stairways are rusted, handrails coated with paint. Our recent experience on the Serenade of the Seas showed us how an older ship can be lovingly maintained to allow the ship to retain charm and elegance long after newer ships have been introduced. The Century staff offer no apologies- the ship is old and that is all there is to it. They tell you it needs to be refurbished. As the risk of sounding like Leona Helmsley, you don't renovate dirt. Other people on board mentioned that the Solstice itself was beginning to show wear. Perhaps this is an overall maintenance issue that is endemic to the entire Celebrity fleet. I know many folks are loyal to Celebrity and perhaps our experience on the Century is not typical- still if this your only experience with the line, I wonder how many potential repeat customers they lose.Five Star Dining-not so much!You pay a premium to Celebrity and they promise a step up from your normal cruise experience. Some of the meals were quite good although they seemed to lack the variety available on other lines of with much lower fares. If there is a problem, it is with poor organization and training for the wait staff. Breakfast in the main dining room was almost comical. First you are offered juice by four separate people and then offered pastries and croissants by another three separate people followed by a few more people who they offer you tea or coffee. After this the waiter finally takes your order. Near the end of the meal, you are offered coffee again by several more staff. Lastly one poor lost staff member appears to ask if you would like tomato juice. (Failing to recognize that our breakfast is over and plates had been picked up). Conversation is all but impossible. Breakfast in the main dining room was far too much of a chore and we retreated to the buffet where conditions were marginally better.The organization at supper was a bit better. The food was good but not great. If there are only two of you and you want a quite space to talk during supper, this is not the ship. Tables for two exist but are extremely rare. In most cases, when you request a table for two (we had reservations with Celebrity Select dining rather than an assigned table). When you arrive and ask for a table for two, you are typically seated at a table for eight where individual table sections are moved apart - about 6 inches between tables. It is impossible not to hear other people's conversations and ultimately out of politeness you are drawn into conversations with them. We met a few really nice couples this way. We like to meet people when we travel, but we think this should be our choice. Too many things on the Century seemed to be for Celebrity's convenience and not for the customers.Again, we had hoped for more food variety and more subtle service. Deserts were generally poor. You are not provided a desert menu. Instead, waiters arrive to show you a selection of the evening's choices. I assume these trays were prepared at the beginning of the shift as they looked as tired and worn as the rest of the ship itself. Ice creams are available but never mentioned (for your convenience).Ships staffThis is a difficult area to assess. Crew members are very polite but the politeness seemed somewhat robotic and not really sincere. Staffs have been trained to say good morning sir, good evening sir, thank you sir but no one says it with much enthusiasm or feeling. Not a single staff member called us by name This is so unlike the other ships we have been on.Celebrity Suite We had a category NS Celebrity suite which faced the stern of the vessel. We had booked a C2 concierge suite as a guarantee (last minute) but were "upgraded" to The NS category. The suite itself is no bigger than a normal balcony cabin but comes with a few benefits like priority check in, daily tea and hors d'oeuvers (same dull serving every night) and a butler to serve them. Be very careful about booking these suites. The balconies are entirely open to the sunset bar above as only the first two feet of the balcony is covered by an overhang. There is no privacy and the noise and music from above can be irritating. On departing San Diego, we were treated to Led Zeplin- hardly soothing sail away music. This was not a major problem for us as it was cold and rainy so few people set out at night, but it could become a huge issue for people travelling in a warm climate like Mexico or the CaribbeanMore annoying was the filthy condition of the balcony itself. Apparently, carbon is blown off the engine stack at night. For some reason, this carbon tends to settle on the balconies at the rear of the ship. I understand, that soot residue from the engine may be unavoidable. What I don't understand is why the balcony was not swept and the furniture wiped off before embarking passengers arrived. Dime sized pieces of soot were very visible . Be careful if you have new cruise clothes. Balcony furniture had peeling paint and unvarnished tabletops. The balcony floor was soiled and discoloured. Conclusion:Did we have a good trip? Actually yes, but this was in spite of Celebrity not because of them. We just wanted a quick getaway to enjoy some quite time, take a few walks, watch a few videos and read a few books. If you're planning an Alaska itinerary, this ship would appear to be a good option. Still, I would recommend you keep searching. There has to be better choices available. We will not rush to cruise Celebrity againPS if you are unfortunate enough to be on The Century, visit the bartender in 'Michaels Club" He is Romanian and does a great Scotch tasting. He's also a good guy. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Celebrity Millennium - May 3rd Wine Cruise - San Diego to VancouverI want to start this review by saying that my wife and I took this cruise to unwind and relax. Since we have visited almost all of the ports that the ship stopped at, we ... Read More
Celebrity Millennium - May 3rd Wine Cruise - San Diego to VancouverI want to start this review by saying that my wife and I took this cruise to unwind and relax. Since we have visited almost all of the ports that the ship stopped at, we didn't feel pressured to do any of the shore excursions and merely did short walking visits of most of the port areas. So if you're looking for shore excursion reviews, stop reading now.This was our first cruise on Celebrity and our first cruise with an inside cabin. I'd like to write this review with the topics that concerned us the most, crew, accommodations, food, etc. and that is how I will proceed.EMBARKATION: Due to a passenger suicide on the night before our departure, our embarkation wasn't as smooth as we would have hoped, having a three hour wait in the terminal on a hot day, before allowing us to board. After delaying the ships departure for nearly two hours, we finally made our way out of port at 6:00 PM.CREW: The crew of the Millennium gets my highest points for the trip. Everyone, from Andrew the Hotel Director, down to the maintenance crew were all extremely congenial and helpful. Our cabin steward, Kerwin, went out of his way to keep our cabin clean and stocked with ice and clean towels. If we were coming down the hall, and he saw us, he would rush to our door and unlock it for us before we got there, and he always greeted us by name. Our waiter and busboy, Wiganata and Bebito, were also exceptional. They were always quick to get our meals and always kept the water glasses topped off and asking if there was anything we wanted. I give the crew, on a scale of 1 to 10, a 10.FOOD: We ate mostly in the main dining room and the buffet on deck 10. We weren't able to get reservations in the Olympic Restaurant before the cruise departed and I never got around to stopping by, seeing if there were any cancellations. The food, overall, was good. Enough to fill you up, a good selection and prepared and presented well. All the meals were served hot and although not five star gourmet, met our expectations. The buffet had a good selection of food for every breakfast and lunch, but we never ate there for dinner. The outside burger bar was Ok, with the onion rings a bit too crunchy and the hamburger patty tasting like it had been cooked an hour earlier. The cookies at the burger bar were great! On the last formal night, we were offered a lobster/shrimp dinner. I had this, with three shrimp and a half of a lobster tail. It was tasty, but I could have used a whole tail. I had three breakfasts in the main dining room, Eggs Benedict each time (I like Eggs Benedict). The first two times the meal was perfect, hot eggs, cooked so as to be a little runny on the inside and covered with a smooth Hollandaise sauce, muffins fresh and cut-able with a fork. The last time the eggs and sauce were perfect, but the muffin was so hard that I couldn't cut it with my knife. You could drive nails with those things! I complained to the assistant maitre'd for what it was worth. I give the food on a scale of 1 to 10, a 7.5.CABIN: For the first time in our cruising experiences, we took an inside cabin on this trip. After the first night we found that we actually liked it better than a cabin with a window. It was quieter, darker in the mornings (for sleeping in) and just the same size as the cabins that cost $500 or more for a window. All cabins had a 20" flat screen TV, a safe and a minibar. I especially liked the bathroom; the shower was bigger than most and it NEVER ran out of hot water. We've been on several cruises where if you slept in, you had to wait to take a shower because all the hot water was gone, not on the Millennium. My only gripes were that there was a constant humming, I assume from the turbines powering the generators that we could hear and feel in the walls, even when docked. I'm sure this was from being on deck 2, and was probably felt by everyone on that deck. After a while, you tended to ignore it. The other minor complaint was that the bed was just a bit too firm for my taste, but it didn't keep me up at night. I'll give the cabin a 9 out of 10.ACTIVITIES: Like most cruise lines, there were the usual shows and entertainment. The nightly newsletter outlined all of the next day activities and you never were lacking for something to do. We only attended one show, a musical/dance number by the ships cast. It was as good as I've seen, but we just weren't interested in the shows on this cruise, so we left early and didn't attend anymore. The casino was always busy when open and we dropped a few dollars here. Not being a gambler, I didn't lose much money, but heard from other Cruise Critic people that they thought the slots were just a little too tight. The Emporium was well stocked, and we bought a few things, but watch out for the bargain watch sale! We bought two watches, mine had the look of an expensive watch but was very cheap and most of the hands on the watch were strictly decoration and not functional, and the watch my wife bought quit working after two hours. Obviously, we took them both back. I won't rate the ship's activities since we didn't participate.FAVORITE SPOT: Our favorite spot on the ship was the Atrium/Spa area on deck 10. This is an enclosed area at the stern of the ship, just in front of the Aqua Spa. It had two hot tub/whirlpools and a larger pool-like spa that had aeration. We would sit in the lounge chairs near a window that were probably more comfortable than any others on the ship. They had pads and head pillows, so getting comfortable and just watching the sea go by was very easy. I read an entire novel on this trip, sitting here, something I hadn't done in a long time. They also had a healthy food bar here and a coffee and beverage bar too, so you didn't have far to go for some refreshment. Being that it was glass enclosed, it was bright, yet a little warmer than being in the open on deck. Very nice.PROBLEMS: On our very first night, we ate in the main dining room at first seating (6:00). We found or table, although there was some confusion from the waiters who seated us about where our table was. Having found our table, we noticed a few things from the very moment we sat down. The windows at the stern of the ship, near out table on deck four on the starboard side, were very dirty and the tinting was flaking off in around the edges. Some form of mold or other contamination was collecting in the corners of the windows, giving the atmosphere a distinct "back alley" look. Many of the outside windows in public areas were salt encrusted and had bird droppings on them. They obviously don't clean them very often. When we looked at the ceiling, we saw a bunch of masking tape running in long lines across the ceiling panels. Our first impression was that it was for some painting project, but felt it was rather tacky to leave it up for passengers to see. When we questioned the maitre'd, we were told that that corner gets very cold and that the masking tape was to block the vents and keep the air conditioning from cooling that area. I was dumbstruck. This ship is 10 years old, you'd think they could get the venting set correctly in ten years and not require masking tape to correct a problem. I don't know how long it had been up, but it looked like it was there for some time. At the very least, you'd think someone could find something better, that looked more professional, to block the vents. I have since forwarded pictures of the windows and masking tape to Celebrity with these comments. Hopefully they can correct the problems.PORTS: Well, I don't have a lot to say here. We've traveled to all of the ports that ship stopped at, at one time or another, so we didn't spend a lot of time ashore. The only port we hadn't visited was Astoria, Oregon. Now here's a community that does it right! They have a non-profit organization of cruise ship greeters that are stationed at the pier and around town to help you during your visit. They offered a $7.50 bus pass (per person) that made the circular trip from the pier, through town and back, where you could ride all day for the one fee. We rode the bus into town before lunch, walked around and visited shops, then went to the Maritime Museum then back to the ship for lunch. We then rode it again to the center of town, caught another bus that went up to the "Astoria Column" and returned after the visit. These volunteers go out of their way to make sure you had an enjoyable visit to their small town, and it was.DEBARKATION: We opted for the express debarkation, where you take your own luggage off the ship at 7:30 AM. This was really nice and went smoothly. We were off within 15 minutes and customs was a snap. The customs officer said that this was the best way to leave the ship because the lines for the normal departure make it a slow process. I think we'll make this the standard way of departure from now on.FINAL COMMENTS: Being our first trip on a Celebrity ship, we found the overall experience enjoyable and would sail with them again. Since this was a "Wine Cruise" Celebrity didn't enforce their policy on bringing wine aboard after the start of the cruise, very nice. The crew was great and the food was good. Other than the maintenance issue of the ceiling and windows in the dining room, the ship was in good condition and well maintained. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Before writing this I looked through existing reviews of the ship. It seems that there is a slight misconception about Celebrity Line. IT IS NOT PREMIUM! It costs about the same if you look at Carnival's or Princess' prices. Why ... Read More
Before writing this I looked through existing reviews of the ship. It seems that there is a slight misconception about Celebrity Line. IT IS NOT PREMIUM! It costs about the same if you look at Carnival's or Princess' prices. Why expectations are so high? But even if it's not premium in my mind, I like Celebrity more than Carnival and Princess. And Norwegian does not come even close to it in my book. Cunard, of course, is better - but that's a different price range.Our previous sail on Century was in 2008 - Transatlantic. We liked her, so we bought this Wine Cruise to Vancouver without hesitation. Who're we? We are a married working couple in our sixties living in Orange County, CA.To get to San Diego we hired a local transportation company and they dropped us off at the terminal at 12:15 PM. It took us about 15 minutes to check in our luggage and go through check-in counter. No waiting in line practically. We politely refused an entrance picture and a welcome drink and got into our cabin right then. The cabin was ready and in good condition.We read a lot about the ship being worn out and needing a lot of repair. Have we noticed any problems? Yes, we did. Were they that awful? Not really. What about a terrible smell reported in some reviews? Yes, I noticed it once when passing a corridor on one of passenger decks. Was it unpleasant? Kind of. Was it that bad? Not really, but still unpleasant. But it happened to me just once.I saw complains that a room steward did not greeted passenger by names. Did I see that? Yes. Did I have any problems with my steward? NO! All my requests were fulfilled on timely matter. As for his name, I did not remember it either.Dining. Opinions vary a lot on that account. Some reviews are very contradicting about it. Here's what we experienced.We had our breakfasts and lunches in a buffet, dinner in the Grand restaurant. Food in buffet was pretty decent all the time. In MDR we had a complain only once:a Pot Au Feu was quite poor to my wife's taste one night. Other dishes were good so we did not have to go to premium Murano for a nice meal, it's was good right there.Entertainment. Cruise director and his crew were good, so was the ship orchestra and cast. Out of three cast shows two were completely new for us, the third, Dancing of the World (or something like this) contained a few fragments that we saw before. We really enjoyed all of them. There also were guest performers on-board. A ventriloquist was a talented guy but we saw him a couple of times before on other cruises. He fails to change his program, which seemed boring to us. There was also a comedian. Passengers' opinion about the guy was not conclusive. Some said they liked him. Unfortunately, we left his show right after begining. Introducing himself he said that he was all over the world with his shows and that there wasn't a single seat left not wet after his show in a nursing home. To us it's a turn off. Apparently, not everyone thinks so, but that's just us.There was a perfect guitarist playing in Cova Cafe. We also like These Guys ensemble and string trio playing there. There were other good musicians,but we mostly listened to those mentioned.Ports of Call. San Francisco. We met some friends living in Bay Area and went to a nice seafood restaurant. It was raining on and off both days, but we just ignored it. No excursion though.Astoria. We ordered an excursion to wine tasting via Century before the cruise. It was nice drive through Oregon forests and an OK wine tasting. No drastic discoveries though in new wines.Nanaimo. It was a sunny day for a change, so we just hanged around the port in a nice park and walked a bit through that small nice town. Enjoyed it.Victoria. We ordered an excursion to Downtown and Buchart Gardens via Century before the cruise. Liked it a lot despite a rainy day. Well worth it, what a beauty!Vancouver. After about 20 minutes of waiting for our turn to debark we loaded a bus. A driver gave us a good tour through downtown and dropped of at the airport.What else? To tell you the truth, we are coffee freaks. To our taste, coffee in the buffet and even in MDR was tasteless. Not all our table-mates shared this opinion. But we spent a chunk of our on-board account in Cova Cafe.We also liked the Persian Garden in their Spa, even though not that many people were there. good for us though.All in all, we enjoyed this cruise and would return to Century at any time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
This was mine and DH's first cruise on Holland America. Prior to this we did a 10 day on the Radiance and decided to hop on this repositioning cruise to make our way back home to Seattle. We have cruised many times (19 for DH and 17 ... Read More
This was mine and DH's first cruise on Holland America. Prior to this we did a 10 day on the Radiance and decided to hop on this repositioning cruise to make our way back home to Seattle. We have cruised many times (19 for DH and 17 for me) and our favorite line is Royal Caribbean, with Celebrity being our second favorite. I expected the service on HA to be top notch and about what Celebrity offers but overall I didn't get that at all. So, I'll start off with some of the good things I found while onboard this ship: - Great Captain. He was very friendly with all of the guests and took part in many activities, the cruise director was also a lot of fun. I found a few of the bar staff to be friendly which was nice since everyone else on the ship lacked that! - The Culinary Arts program was a lot of fun. Cat with the Explorations Team was a lot of fun and did some great classes. I was able to partake in a cooking demonstration with the Pinnacle Grill chef. It was a great experience and afterwards we were able to take our food that we made to the Pinnacle Grill and enjoy a glass of wine. Well worth the $29! - The Superior Veranda Suite was very nice and roomy. I will say that the colors of the room are outdated though, too much gold for me and not modern enough but then again, that is the theme of the ship. Loved having the jetted tub and separate shower and lots of storage space. I think the bed was one of the most comfortable I've ever slept on onboard a cruise ship. - I thought the food was really good and they had a lot of selection. I highly recommend the Pinnacle Grill - it's also one of the only places we received good dining room service, too bad we had to pay a surcharge to experience that type of service. DH had a huge porterhouse steak and I had the filet with two huge prawns. The lobster bisque was probably the best I've had so that was a huge plus! The CONS- - Mid and early 30's couple here. I think that HA attracts a much older crowd, like 70+ and unfortunately some aren't very friendly. Just so you know I get along with people of all ages, have made friends with a variety of age groups on all of our cruises but sadly most of the people on this ship were not friendly and if you like to have fun at night and like dancing to some upbeat music, we didn't find it at least on this cruise. We also have a good sense of humor and I wasn't sensing that from the guests on this ship. I also noticed this cruise had a few families on it with younger kids since it was a repositioning cruise and I heard a lot of people (without children) complaining about that. Also from what I saw they do not do much in the way of kids programs so if you are going to cruise with your younger children I definitely do not recommend HA. We have a 10 year old DD who loves to cruise and I'm so glad we did not bring her with us. - The dining room service was horrible and I was not expecting this at all. This is something very important to DH and I when cruising. Our waiter never introduced himself to us and we had him two nights in a row. (We finally stopped going after that) and our plates once we were done eating would sit on the table for what felt like forever! Nobody ever asked us how our food was, nor did our wait staff recommend anything. We were even sitting with an older couple who had been on the cruise for the previous 2 weeks, so it's not just because we were new to the table and younger than most on the ship. We also had to ask for things more than once. In my experience with cruising that should not happen. I am used to the waiter and assistant always introducing themselves and always being on top of when we are done eating and clearing our plates quickly. They didn't even offer more bread which isn't a big deal but once again, what I am used to. Also, the dining room felt very crowded with the chairs being very close together and not enough room the for the waiters to serve food. - Trying to get food in the Lido during lunch was chaos, long lines and having to go to different stations so by the time you were done waiting in one, your food was cold. I did feel that the servers in the Lido were a lot more friendlier though, aside from the manager in there. - The ship was on code red the first two days we were on there due to a lot of GI issues during the previous cruise. That made it very difficult since you couldn't touch anything at all. From what I have read this seems to be typical of HA. I think it's great they took precaution but I've cruised 17 times now and this is my first time experiencing this. Thankfully we stayed healthy and they did have hand sanitizer everywhere. - The layout of the ship was so confusing and didn't flow well. The ship also had some odd smells in the elevator and halls. I don't know how to explain them but they just seemed musty to me. - The decor of this ship is hideous in my opinion. I understand that HAL goes for the more traditional look but the carpet in the hallway to my room was just tacky and didn't match. I just don't see how this ship was built 8 years ago. Granted it's my first cruise on HAL so this is probably how they decorate all of their ships. - The Daily Program was lacking in my opinion. Not a whole lot to do on this ship when at sea. We spent a lot of time relaxing in our room, which was still nice. I will say that the entertainment they did have was good. - I have never been on a cruise where you see so much staff eating and partying in public areas and that was just weird to us. Yes, it was only four days, thank goodness but my husband and I do not plan on sailing HA again. It does not meet our expectations and what we look for in our cruise vacation. We will continue to stick with RCI, Celebrity or Princess. However, if this is your first cruise vacation or you aren't a cruise snob such as myself you will probably enjoy Holland America. I just know what I want from my cruise vacation and I just didn't get that from HA. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
This was our introduction to cruising, and we booked through a local Pacific NW travel agency. The deal seemed pretty good: about $1000 for two of us, including airfare from Seattle to San Diego, transfers from the airport to the pier, an ... Read More
This was our introduction to cruising, and we booked through a local Pacific NW travel agency. The deal seemed pretty good: about $1000 for two of us, including airfare from Seattle to San Diego, transfers from the airport to the pier, an upgraded stateroom with a veranda, and a chartered bus back from Vancouver to Seattle at the end of the trip. Check-in at the pier was completely painless. We arrived at the airport at about 2:30 and were onboard the Oosterdam by 3:30. Most of that time was waiting for our luggage at baggage claim at the airport. Our cabin was much more spacious than we had expected. It was immaculate (thanks, Sam and Jadi!), and very quiet. We never heard noises from the adjoining cabins. The good: the Oosterdam itself. It shows some wear in places (carpets a bit worn, some scuff marks from suitcases), but everything was very clean. The good: The mostly Indonesian crew were uniformly friendly, courteous, and very helpful. They seemed genuinely interested in helping. There's a cover over part of the aft pool deck, and twice I saw crew members up there cleaning it. The good: the food. Buffets can be hit-or-miss, but the Lido restaurant was uniformly top notch. The salad items were fresh, the entrees were tasty, and I'm STILL wondering how they can do scrambled eggs for 1,900 guests with such uniform high quality. We ate in the main dining room twice and were impressed both times. And we ate once in the Pinnacle Grill, and were REALLY impressed with the quality of the food and the service. The not-so-good: the weather sucked for a day and a half: force nine winds and 15-18 foot swells. I know the stabilizers were working overtime, but walking about was an adventure at times. The not-so-good: the bar prices. Drink prices were more expensive than in almost any cocktail lounge I've ever been in. Soft drinks were $2.00 each. The not-so-good: lines. There were lines for almost everything. Especially in the Lido restaurant at lunch. We struggled to find a table a couple of times. The ugly: our arrival in Vancouver. This was NOT Holland-America's fault. The Oosterdam arrived on a Saturday morning, shortly after the Zuiderdam, and just before a ship from NCL. So there were about 6,000 people trying to disembark all at about the same time. And there were ANOTHER 6,000 people simultaneously trying to get onboard. Combine that with the fact that this was the first cruise weekend in Vancouver, and the result was, to put it mildly, chaotic. We were 90 minutes late disembarking, it took 20-30 minutes to clear customs, and it took more than an hour for our chartered buses to arrive and pick us up. When our bus finally cleared the loading area, we could see that the line to get to embarkation went through the building, across the loading zone, up the sidewalk, and around the block. I didn't envy them, but at least it was sunny and warm. Because we were so late in getting on our bus, and because a few of the other passengers had flights to catch in Seattle, we drove straight through. So our last breakfast onboard had to last until dinner. The wife and I stopped at a Burger King not long after getting back in our car - quite a change from the luxury we'd grown accustomed to onboard. Will we cruise again? Definitely. But we'll think twice about disembarking in Vanouver on the first weekend of cruising season. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
I have been on 86 cruises in 35 years (I am not 50 yet - I started young!). My very first cruise was on the old Rotterdam with my grandparents. I've spent a total of 38 days onboard Holland America. To say it isn't how I remember ... Read More
I have been on 86 cruises in 35 years (I am not 50 yet - I started young!). My very first cruise was on the old Rotterdam with my grandparents. I've spent a total of 38 days onboard Holland America. To say it isn't how I remember it would be a major understatement. I talked my partner and and also my best friend from high school into trying Holland America. I went on and on about how nice it was, great service, lots of art, flowers, and despite the perception of being boring and a senior cruise - it would be a cruise to remember. I was so wrong and so right at the same time (I was right - it was a cruise to remember). Don't worry about no movies under the stars - they have all the other activities. Wrong again. Seriously nothing to do for hours on end. SAN DIEGO ARRIVAL AND EMBARKATION: Off to a great start with the $2.25 per person city bus right from baggage claim to the cruise terminal. Fantastic. Not a great facility and one gate open to let 2 ship loads of people in and out. Dropped off our bags and did the 15 minute walk down the fantastic waterfront to Seaport Village. Killed some time, walked back to the ship and was onboard about 10 minutes after entering the terminal. Credibility intact. STATEROOM: Booked a Verandah Suite for the three of us. Lots of room, double vanity, tub with whirlpool jets, standalone shower stall, etc. Five days before sailing, upgraded to Deluxe Verandah. No opportunity to accept or decline. Just changed. So I thought I would get all of the above plus the extra perks of Neptune Lounge and the sofa was bigger and promised to make into a double bed. Well, they gave us cabin 6175. Handicap access - we are not handicaped. Lots of room - yes. Double vanity - no. Tub with jets - no. Shower stall - no (in fact worse - do not use unless you want a pool in your bathroom). Extra large sofa - no (made into twin size springy bed). Again, no chance to say yes or no. Just done. Neptune Lounge? Nice but don't see what the fuss is about. Bed was comfy but the room never seemed to cool down. Wall mounted lamps were sagging off the wall. Lamp shade on one bedside lamp was taped in place. Access to private DVD libray - never had the movies we wanted (how someone else wanted to watch the 1969 version of Pink Panter seems odd to me). Embarassment starts. SHIP: Here is where the "I told you so part" comes into play. MANY reviewers have talked about the decor. I thought, how garish and ugly could it be? After all, I am Platinum/Concierge level on Carnival and some call those ships garish. Well, nothing can really prepare you for the ugliness of this ship. Beautiful artwork - didn't see it. Flowers - sparse and boring. The new parts of the ship really stand out and have promise. But the rest. It is hard to put into words. Flea market looking faded prints in the cabin hallways can't dampen the screaming loud blue or red pattern (nausea inducing) carpets. If the colors weren't screaming and glaring it was so dark you could hardly see. The furniture looks worn and tattered - everywhere you look. The lido? Yellow carpet in one section suddenly changes to blue, to red, to something else. The main dining room is red. And more red. And then some more red. And the heaviest and most impossible to move chairs at sea. OK Holland America, do something about this ship. By far the ugliest ship I have ever sailed on and that says a lot. Embarassment compunded. Signature of Excellence - not. SERVICE: Embarassed part compounds here and in a huge way. Now we all have heard about Noro and "code red" situations onboard ships. Without explanation, we boarded a ship apparently in code red mode. Saran wrap wrapped all the food stations - barrier ropes to keep you away from drinks, salad bars, etc. You had to be served everything by a staff that seemed indifferent and tired. Once you got them to understand what you wanted you were so annoyed the appetite was gone. Main dining room was "dine as you wish". OMG what a mess. Got seated quickly but that was the highlight. Ignored for an eternity, finally got order placed, ignored again, allowed one piece of bread, ignored, then food came and was tasty but lukewarm. Salad came after dessert. Not good. In the lido and dining room - you weren't allowed salt and pepper shakers, ketchup, or to touch anything. It felt like we were viewed as disease carrying toxic pains in the butt. Once the code red was lifted (again no explanation) 36 hours into the cruise, things got so much better. But unfortunately, the damage was done. Embarrassment complete. Good thing - cabin steward was very friendly in the old Holland America style. Would I go on Holland America again - probably not. Would I ever ask my partner to go again - NO. I feel I spent 4 days in a cabin I didn't want being treated like a pain as opposed as a valued customer (and I will add I am a stockholder of Carnival Corporation). It is back to Princess as our first choice. Even a Fantasy class Carnival ship would be a welcome step up from Zuiderdam. To my partner and our friend, I can only say I am SO sorry. To Holland America - come on guys you need to get it together. To Cruise Critic contributors - you told me so. To folks considering Zuiderdam - I suggest you look elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Not as good, but nice. This was our second outing on the Ryndam. We continue to cruise two to three times per year and really enjoy the venue. From big ships with all the trimmings to the small ships which offer their own value. We have ... Read More
Not as good, but nice. This was our second outing on the Ryndam. We continue to cruise two to three times per year and really enjoy the venue. From big ships with all the trimmings to the small ships which offer their own value. We have enjoyed taking the Pacific coastal transitional cruises each year as one of our restpits. After a 10-day cruise last year on Ryndam, we decided to do a brief 5-day out of San Diego. We had just finished a trip on the new Celebrity Solstice a few months ago and loved everything about it. I think in these economic times it is now better to stick with the newest ships as the older ships seem to be taking the brunt of the corporate cuts. This ship was greatly discounted over the last month (unfortunately, we booked many months out and  paid top dollar ! HAL does NOT give money back when they discount unlike Celebrity and RCI , who do! ) Love embarking out of San Diego Airport to ship within minutes. As we arrived around 1:30 p.m., our boarding process was again, effortless. From plane to cabin in under 30 minutes! Every cruise we have booked so far with Holland America has been in a Deluxe Verandah Suite. I have particularly liked this room for the space, as well as the Neptune Lounge access. Since we had been on the Ryndam for 10 days last year, we knew exactly what to expect of our surroundings. Now, I have to say I hear that the Ryndam will be retrofitted soon. That is good because even these suites need to be redone. Stained curtains, bathroom smelling of sulpher, knicks and gouges in furniture need definite attention. Service to the room was adequate, but certainly not as good as our last encounter on this ship. Our welcoming sparkling wine showed up a day after sailing. The wine bucket had ice put in it the first day and then just stayed full of melted ice water the rest of the cruise. Fruit was never replenished. Had to ask for more waters for the room. Robes were stained (very tacky!) One day we watched the two stewards clean the room, and they really needed some training. Did not receive a comment card at the end of the trip to fill out. Noticed changes in the Neptune Lounge. Only one person on duty, whereas last year there were always two. The snacks in the Lounge were of lesser quality than last year also ( sign of the times ). Marcos, the concierge did a nice job, but messed up my dinner reservations twice, and was not helpful in getting us two nice wine glasses for the expensive wines that we brought on board ( Forgot to mention, once again, the Wine Bank in San Diego.....every wine you could want, they have...only a 5 minute ride from the pier! ) The ship itself, really needs an overhaul. We certainly still like the small ship, and it has its greatness. Really bad "dumpster" smell on Deck 8 just outside the Pinnacle Grill and the Explorations Lounge. That smell was there the entire week. Really terrible. Meals were okay, but again, definite cuts. The buffet has gotten really bad, with little culinary help to man the pasta and wok stations. Food was okay at best, but really down from a year ago. Food and service in Pinnacle Grill was okay...nothing special, with the exception of the Ribeye steak which was an excellent quality piece of meat, cooked and seasoned to perfection. The Rotterdam dining Room experience was again, not up to one year ago. Cream soups with no cream, VERY small portions of food, Steak and SHRIMP now instead of Steak and Lobster. Could go on and on. It is really a shame because what is written in the menu description is not really what you get! My favorite was Mama's Chicken Soup, made with Beef Broth!! OY-VEY!! Now, what makes up for all of this is friendliness. ALL staff goes out of their way to be as friendly and courteous as possible! They are always trying to please and it certainly does cover a multitude of sins! Couldn't use the pools as they were drained on the second day due to inclement weather, and never refilled for the remainder of the voyage. Debarkation in Vancouver was so incredibly fast ( we took our bags off with us ) that we were off the ship, through customs and in a taxi in under 5 minutes. When we got to the airport there was no one there yet ( 8:00 a.m.) as most of the ships were still unloading at the port! Would we sail the Ryndam again? Yes, but probably not until a retrofit would be done. We are scheduled on the Eurodam this fall and I hope that with the ever increasing discounting, that cruising will not continue to drop the quality of product or lack of management personnel that seems to be happening now. For those of us who book long term, it is not fair to continue to "take away" when you can't fill the boat!   Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Embarkation:  SanDiego:  *Disorganized and no restroom/had to use a port a potty in the parking lot*Issued a letter by a HAL greeter stating that there had been an outbreak of NorVirus and offered to give us a full refund if we would not ... Read More
Embarkation:  SanDiego:  *Disorganized and no restroom/had to use a port a potty in the parking lot*Issued a letter by a HAL greeter stating that there had been an outbreak of NorVirus and offered to give us a full refund if we would not like to cruise. O'h how we wish we would have opted for this.....................but we thought, How bad can it be?They blamed all the issues on the virus................however this has been going on for months on the Veendam, according to staff and previous reviews.VERY BAD!!!!!*Thermostat in our cabin was broken/no heat upon arrival and we spent the first day trying to resolve this issue.*Day two, after engineering fixed heat............it got like a sauna and we had to leave the cabin door to the hall open to get any air.*Water in the shower did not drain.  We had to stand in ankle deep water in order to shower.*Long lines in the lido due to the "code red" which we see by other reviews has been an ongoing issue on this ship and seems to be more common on HAL than anyone else we have sailed.*The ship was full of angry and hostile passengers who had sailed the panama canal since the ship came out of dry dock and the issues were endless. Their experiences were unimaginable!!!!*Dining room issues were unbelieveable:  cold food, poor service, no one in charge, staff were rude (especially Michael, assistant MatreD)  Employees seemed to lack training and our breakfast was not only cold, no one at our table received the correct order.  After 45 minutes,I wandered through the dining room trying to get another cup of coffee and was scolded and told to SIT DOWN!! No water refills.  I asked for hot water to add to my coffee and the waiter said, hmm, maybe later.  One couple walked out because they were so disgusted with everything and did not eat breakfast.*Piano player doubled as the fruit server in the morning and casino staff worked as food servers.*Pool area was freezing cold as was most of the public rooms (exceptionally cold) making it impossible to enjoy the indoor solarium*Cabin steward told us he had 38 cabins to clean.  Our room didn't get done until late afternoon.  He worked so hard and did a pretty poor job as you can imagine.  One day, I got my own dry clean towels from the housekeeping closet and made our own bed.  It was appauling that he was expected to do so many rooms.Arrival in VanCouver:  Cruise director Johnny actually announced that they had a quick turn around here and to please exit the ship as quickly as possible........really made us feel welcome.  We were told we couldn't have a passenger comment card because we had only come on board in SanDiego.Senior staff just kept passing the buck.  They know things are bad.  We were denied an appt with the hotel manager and told he was in meetings.  We were willing to meet at any time.  They refused.This ship needs more than overhaul in dry dock.  The physical changes are beautiful but the service and attitude of the staff are by far the industry WORST!!!  We are still in shock that HAL has allowed this deplorable situation to continue.  Surely someone at HAL is interested in return business..............but we consider our vacation dollars and time wasted.  We have in excess of 50 cruise experiences to compare.................SAVE YOUR MONEY AND GO WITH ANOTHER OPTION.............THIS SHIP AND HAL HAS CRITICAL ISSUES TO RESOLVE............   Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
We just got home from our 5 night cruise on Carnival Elation. We flew into San Diego Monday morning and took a taxi to the ship, about 8-9$ fare for 4 of us. We arrived about 2pm, as we were taking our luggage out of our taxi, the ... Read More
We just got home from our 5 night cruise on Carnival Elation. We flew into San Diego Monday morning and took a taxi to the ship, about 8-9$ fare for 4 of us. We arrived about 2pm, as we were taking our luggage out of our taxi, the ship's porters came right up and took our bags. There were others boarding at that time, but we never had to stand and wait, we were on the ship very quickly...I was impressed. This was our 5th cruise, and the 3rd on Carnival. We have two daughters 17 & 20...Carnival wouldn't necessarily be our #1 choice of Cruise lines, but our girls really enjoy all the activities on the sea days. I was a bit concerned about this cruise after reading some reviews of the ship. My concerns were for naught...we had a GREAT time...I was expecting the ship to be noticeably worn out, but it looked fine. As had been mentioned, the theme of the cabins needs to be updated, but our quad-inside cabin was spacious for us, and the beds were very comfortable. I heard the food was so-so...so I was pleasantly surprised when it was pretty good. The night before our cruise I had spent about $20 for a steak at a restaurant; the filet mignon on the first night on the ship was 100% better. Never had a bad meal once in the dining room. I think our waitress was the most friendly one we've ever had. The burgers from the grill were great, pizza was fresh and good, and they have a deli counter at the pizza grill too, you can get reuben sandwiches, turkey, etc...very nice. The buffets were pretty standard, but the omelettes to order for breakfast were really good. Since we had only snorkeled in the Caribbean, I was concerned about the visibility of snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas. But again, I was not disappointed, we took an excursion in Cabo, and the water was so much clearer than I expected, and we saw so many different kinds of fish. The shows were entertaining...the girls really like watching the dancers and all of their costume changes...they did a nice job. The girls and I really enjoyed all of the on board activities, and they were excited to have won a couple of trophy's and medals...they were busy all the time! I had read that Ensenada was dirty and gross and should be taken off the ship's itinerary, so again I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the shopping area was. We did the horseback riding excursion through the ship, and we had a lot of fun.. Some reviews complained about Carnival's photographers always trying to take your picture...they never seemed intrusive to me, and we all really liked finding our photos in the Photo gallery each day...and we purchased a very nice family photo from our formal night. My one complaint would be that there was smoking allowed in some of the common rooms, so we didn't stay long in those areas :( So as you can see from my review, I had very low expectations for this trip, we just thought it would be a little break from our snowy state, but in EVERY area, I was pleasantly surprised. For under $900 for the 4 of us, we definitely got our money's worth and then some! This was a great deal for the money, and we had a fabulous time! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
Four first time cruisers here. We chose the Elation because we all live in San Diego and we received a great rate, we are best friends and all could get this time off at work. This was a 5 day cruise with stops in Cabo San Lucas and ... Read More
Four first time cruisers here. We chose the Elation because we all live in San Diego and we received a great rate, we are best friends and all could get this time off at work. This was a 5 day cruise with stops in Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada Mexico. Embarkation was fairly easy, we arrived around 1:30 and were on the ship within an hour. We all had checked in bags and had heard horror stories of people not receiving their bags until a few days later, luckily that didn't happen to us, as soon as we found our room, our bags were waiting patiently for us at the door. We all brought on one bottle of wine or champagne in our carry-ons and had no problems with this. From the moment before you walk on the ship, you will bombarded with photo ops. These photo opportunities will last throughout your trip, so if you don't end up with a good photo, don't worry, you'll have plenty of time to practice your poses! We ended up hanging out in our rooms for a little bit on the Riviera deck to put our clothes away and then went up to explore the ship and eat lunch. At first we were bummed our room was so far down from the top deck, but we quickly appreciated it as we always opted to take the stairs to get our exercise..and we needed it after all we ate!!! The rooms were surprisingly spacious. We had 2 to a room and this was perfect. We had lunch on the Lido deck which had hamburgers and chicken and was really good. Every day there is a drink "special" but we quickly learned the special is only special to Carnival because they charge much more for these than a regular drink. Drink prices were reasonable though; beer ranged from 4.50 - 6.00 and cocktails were from 5.25 - 8.00...depending on what you got. After lunch and drinks it was time for the lifeboat drill, we had imagined ourselves with the ship sailing off with a drink in hand an lying out by the pool, but instead we sailed off in 3 rows of people adorning life jackets on the upper deck...that was probably the most disappointing part of the cruise, but life could be worse! On the second day it was a fun day at sea, we mostly laid out on the deck and drank. We didn't make it to breakfast that morning but the rest of the cruise we always ate on the Lido deck or at Tiffany's. All offer mostly the same stuff. Hashbrowns, sausage, bacon, eggs, french toast. The eggs looked like something you'd fine in prison, but the rest was pretty good. For lunch we mostly ate at Tiffany's. Every day they had a different theme, such as Mexican, Japanese, NY deli, etc. Of course you could always opt for the salad bar, which I thought was pretty good. Most of the buffet food was pretty greasy. If you are looking for gourmet food, this is not the cruise for you. We ate in the formal dining room each night, which offered the best food of the cruise. The lobster dinner was awesome, the steaks were okay, but a little tough, desserts were always a treat, the tiramisu was great. Our maitre d' was awesome as was his assistant Martina, she was so cute and even hugged us and cried on our "last supper." We were always treated with excellent service and made to feel very special. Anytime we needed a picture taken they were always willing to take one. Most nights they did a little dance. On formal night we got to meet the captain and take pictures with him. There is also a sushi bar open nightly from 5:30 to 8:30, this was always nice as we had a late dinner seating and sometimes needed a light snack. The midnight buffet was extravagant, but we found the food more delightful to look at then to eat. Most nights as a midnight snack we would go to the 24 hr pizza bar. My favorite was the margarita, this was always a nice option after a day and night of drinking! Our First port of call was Cabo San Lucas. We opted to do the boat and beach club tour. We went on a catamaran and and saw the sites and then went to a beach club. The tour bus then dropped us off if we wanted in downtown Cabo where we went and got some fish tacos for lunch. The second port of call was Ensenada. We went on a winery tour and blow hole tour. The winery tour was okay, there were some cheap options for wine as low as 5.00 per bottle. The blow hole tour was neat, the ride there was very scenic and beautiful. Our tour guide Melanie was awesome and so informative, she was very helpful in pointing out where to eat and shop. I would go on the tour again just because of her! We saw only a few shows, we went to the comedy show which was okay, the comedian resembled a carrot top personality and he was pretty funny. We went to Karaoke night which provided a lot of laughs, the bartender was making fun of the people with us and seemed to be having just as much fun as us. We didn't bring any kids on the ship, but we did see the "camp Carnival kids" running around. They looked like they were having a ball. We saw them once in the night club dancing around and they all looked very happy. I would definitely recommend this cruise for people with children. There was a good mix of types of passengers...everything from younger couples, to families, to groups of singles to groups of freshly out of high school kids and middle aged couples and groups. There was definitely a lot going on every day and you will get a little brochure of the activities to choose from. We never saw the fitness room, but we did jog around the olympic track on the upper deck which was nice. Our cabin steward was great and was there for us anytime we paged him. Over all this was a great experience. The ship was clean and the staff was polite and friendly, we really felt like they were there to serve us and make us happy. Debarkation was a little longer, but not too bad. I would say it took about an hour to get off. We were able to go eat breakfast in the formal dining room before hand. I would recommend this cruise to any first timers such as ourselves. The next time we cruise we will probably take another cruise line just to see how this one compares, but I would definitely take Carnival again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
We boarded the Radiance at approx 2.30 had lunch and returned to our cabin to await the arrival of our luggage. Everytime we asked guest relations, we were blown off, it's definitely coming, and basically don't bother us. At ... Read More
We boarded the Radiance at approx 2.30 had lunch and returned to our cabin to await the arrival of our luggage. Everytime we asked guest relations, we were blown off, it's definitely coming, and basically don't bother us. At approx. 8.15 pm, after many calls to guest relations and checking with our steward we were finally told to go down to the GR desk and look for our bags. It was there alright, in the lost baggage room, with every name tag and baggage tag torn off. It was suggested to us that the baggage handlers at San Diego pier may be a bit disgruntled as there were several other bags in the room without tags. RCCL made sure we knew these people were not RCCL employees. ......However RCCL contracts them so....... We had a large balcony but found the room painfully small, 177 sq.ft. One tiny sofa and one chair at the vanity, we were crawling over each other trying to get dressed. We have been on other ships and the standard size for a room in this category is about 195 -210 feet. The balcony isn't much use on a Coastal Cruise so you really can't get away from each other. The "mini bar" is not a bar at all. No alcohol, just a few cans of pop and water, so you have to call room service everytime you want a drink in your room. Also no bathrobes unless you have cruised 5 times and become platinum. We were lowly gold having sailed with them once before 10 yrs ago. HAL offers bathrobes to everyone, and we really missed them on the cruise as Coastal Cruises are chilly. Life boat drill was strange. Our category A1 thru A4 was directed to go to the Aurora Theatre, where we were given instructions on how to put on a life jacket, which we already had on, and then given two speeches, one by a staff member and one by the captain on 'Rules of Conduct".No bad behavior is tolerated, or excessive drinking etc. etc. I don't see why this was necessary, it's just common sense. We were never told where our lifeboats were or how to get to them or any procedure on leaving the ship. The joke was that the theatre must break off from the ship and float away on it's own. The ships is quite lovely, the food is pretty good and if you don't enjoy your dinner the staff would exchange it for something else. Only had to do this once with the Tempura, very bad. Windjammer cafe is nicely laid out with many different islands of different foods, so no long lines. I can't say I found the staff overly helpful, especially at guest relations. They have a unique way of telling you that no matter what the problem is, somehow it's your fault. EG. I should have had a clear plastic pocket on my suitcase with the name tag secured in it. My suitcase doesn't have one. Our room steward was very nice however. We sailed with HAL last fall on a coastal and just felt pampered everywhere. The small rooms, lack of mini bar in the rooms, no bathrobes would probably deter me from sailing with RCCL again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Radiance of the Seas May 12-18, 2007 My wife and I took the repositioning cruise from San Diego to Vancouver May 12 through 18, 2007. This was the second cruise for both of us- both on Royal Caribbean and both on a Radiance Class ship. ... Read More
Radiance of the Seas May 12-18, 2007 My wife and I took the repositioning cruise from San Diego to Vancouver May 12 through 18, 2007. This was the second cruise for both of us- both on Royal Caribbean and both on a Radiance Class ship. (The other was on the Jewel of the Seas.) We chose this cruise mainly for the ports of call, and we were not disappointed. We arrived in San Diego two days before the cruise and spent some time at Seaport Village, the Gaslamp Quarter, Coronado, and Balboa Park. Our hotel was the Best Western Bayside Inn and it was perfect for a pre-cruise stay. They provide a free shuttle ride from the airport and also to the cruise port. That more than makes up for the lack of a free breakfast. Embarkation at the Port of San Diego was fast and easy. This was exactly the same experience as our first cruise. Since our cruise ship was scheduled to depart at 6 pm, our embarkation instructions said to arrive between 3 and 5 pm. We arrived at the port around 2:30 pm, had no trouble offloading our luggage to the port baggage handlers, and breezed through the Sea Pass card process with our Set Sail documents already completed. We boarded the ship directly and had immediate access to our cabin, balcony unit #9564 on the starboard side. We chose the starboard side thinking that we might have a view of the west coast as we headed north. However, the ship travels in the shipping lane so far from land that it really didn't matter for much of the cruise. Where the right side really paid off was when we were traveling the Straits of Juan de Fuca entering British Columbia. Here we had a terrific view of the Washington State mountains from our balcony. Our luggage arrived not more than a half hour after boarding. This was much faster than on our last cruise, and we were actually able to unpack before the muster drill. We headed off to the Tides dining room, and this is where we encountered the most difficulty on our cruise. When we reached the head waiter, we were told that we did not have a table assignment and that we would need to stand aside along the wall with all the other people who had received a table assignment of "000." I was taken completely by surprise that our request for main seating had not been accommodated. Our cruise documents listed main seating and did not contain the customary asterisk if your first seating request could not be accommodated. We waited against the wall for 15 minutes while all the other guests (arriving late) were seated. The head waiter then called up each party in the waiting list line one at a time to give them a new seating assignment for dinner. When it was our turn, we were asked to come back for second seating. When we complained about this, we were surprisingly given a table for two at main seating that night. While this was fine, it was only for that night. Our table assignment was then changed for the next night, and since we planned on dining at Portofino's the second night, we didn't actually meet our dinner table partners until much later in the cruise. Besides the seating confusion, I thought that most of the entrees were very mediocre and that the service was quite average. It was very difficult to get soft drinks delivered to the dining room in a timely fashion. As expected, the quality of the food in the alternate restaurants, Chops and Portofinos ($20 per person), was much better. The west coast weather was quite chilly and windy while we were at sea, so most on-deck activities were cancelled. However, we enjoyed the self-leveling pool tables, the technical talk by the Captain, the trivia-contests, and the wonderful shows in the Aurora Theater. The Radiance did have some additional wear compared to the newer Jewel, but we expected that and were not too disappointed in the condition of the ship. It is quite lovely if you haven't already seen the Jewel. Our first port of call was San Francisco, and it was thrilling to cruise in under the Golden Gate Bridge at daybreak with the sea lions at Pier 39 barking and Alcatraz visible through the morning fog. We booked an early-day excursion to Muir Woods and Sausolito through the cruise line, and then visited Fisherman's Wharf/Pier 39 on our own later in the day. We enjoyed our day there very much and were glad to have so much time in port. Our next port of call was Astoria, Oregon. The city was quaint and the view of the Columbia River was beautiful, but I couldn’t help thinking that this city wasn’t really ready for cruise ships. The waterfront is underdeveloped and the riverwalk trolley was unable to handle the crush of tourists pouring from cruise ship. Tour buses did handle some of the demand, but there were many people who purchased “all-day ride” tickets on the trolley who simply couldn’t reboard at any of the major stops because the trolley was always too full. We took the excursion to Cannon and Seaside Beach. We got some terrific shots of the Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, but we were never dropped off right at the Rock. All of our stops were just a little too far to allow us get to the rock and back before the bus departed, so we were a little disappointed in the excursion. Perhaps we would have enjoyed this port better if we had taken the longer excursion to Mount St. Helens, but I’m not sure the visibility would have been very good. In short, Astoria’s waterfront has tremendous promise but it is completely unrealized at present, and cruise ships should bypass this port until that changes. After a day at sea, we arrived in Victoria, British Columbia and were immediately charmed by this beautiful city. Our excursions included the Butchart Gardens (absolutely stunning) and the Butterfly House (too crowded to enjoy). We also spent some time in downtown Victoria visiting the Empress Hotel and the Parliament building. The views from any vantage point in the city were gorgeous, and we could have definitely spent more time there. We finished up our cruise at Vancouver, British Columbia with a departure excursion which included a city highlights tour. We were somewhat disappointed by our tour bus. It had advertisements plastered all over the windows which greatly restricted our view. The ads were supposed to be “see-through” from inside the bus, but it was much like looking at everything through a gray fog. If we would have been heading back to the ship after this excursion, we probably would have complained to RCI about the quality of the bus. We spend a night at the wonderful Richmond Marriott Hotel before flying out of Vancouver Airport back to the U.S. The Vancouver Airport was fine, but if I had it to do over, I’d catch a transfer by bus back to Seattle, and fly home from there since it is cheaper. The quality of the RCI cruising experience seemed to be quite consistent from our last cruise to this one. The area most in need of improvement continues to be the standard dining room and buffet food. While the alternate restaurants always provide outstanding food and quality service, the buffet and dining room are usually quite mediocre. The featured chef selection entrees at dinner were usually the best offering. In the Windjammer, we noticed that the buffet food was seldom hot, but at least the crew does a good job at keeping item trays filled. Since, for us, cruises are not primarily about the food, we can overlook this disappointment and still consider the cruise a good value. On the plus side, our cabin, cabin attendant service, cruise shows and productions were all terrific. The ship activities were sufficient for adults, and the staff had special activities and clubs to keep kids occupied. I do, however, think this cruise itinerary is strongly geared toward adults, and especially seniors. I went on this trip feeling that RCI provides a quality cruise for a reasonable price, and my experience on the Radiance has not changed that opinion. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Background on us: Family of 4 traveling - 2 adults (30's) and 2 children (ages 1 and 4). This was my husband and my 5th cruise (previously one Renaissance, one Princess, 2 RCCL), my older child's 3rd cruise (previously one ... Read More
Background on us: Family of 4 traveling - 2 adults (30's) and 2 children (ages 1 and 4). This was my husband and my 5th cruise (previously one Renaissance, one Princess, 2 RCCL), my older child's 3rd cruise (previously one Princess, 1 RCCL) and my son's first cruise. Pre-cruise, we stayed at the Omni San Diego (won on Priceline) and post cruise we spent one night at the Westin Grand in Vancouver (also won on Priceline). I was wa happy with both hotels, the concierge at the Westin really went above and beyond the call of duty for us. Embarkation: Embarkation in San Diego was a breeze. A short cab ride from our hotel. We embarked at approximately 1:30 pm. There was no line or waiting at all. Simply perfect. First Impression of Radiance of the Seas: We previously sailed on this ship in 2002, so I was anxious to see how she was aging. In sum, she's aging gracefully. Yes, there are slight signs of wear - scattered carpet stains, evidence of replaced carpet, etc. However, the decor and the ship in general is as beautiful as I remembered. Our Cabin: We stayed in JS 1560 - what a gem - perfect location on the hump of the ship, sandwiched between the Royal Suite and an Owner's Suite. The JS's on Radiance class ships are huge - much larger than the mini-suite we had on Princess. We were looking for a cabin which would have enough room for the sofa to be pulled out for our 4 year old, with room left over for a crib for our one year old. We got that and more with this JS. Highly recommended in size and for the location. Our cabin steward was also very good. She was very friendly and remembered our children's names and repeatedly said hello to them throughout the cruise. Dining: We had early seating for dinner at our own table for 4 with a very efficient waitstaff, not exceedingly friendly, but very conscientious of our situation (two young children). After the first day, along with a high chair and a booster, there were glasses of milk for the children and bowls of diced fruit waiting at the table for us, so the kids were quickly occupied. We were able to bypass some courses (generally my husband and I each ordered an appetizer or salad and entree instead of all three) because there was no one else at the table. We were usually finished with dessert before other tables had had their entrees cleared. That was fine by us because our youngest only has about an hour and 15 minutes worth of patience at dinner anyway. We ate dinner in the dining room 4 of 6 nights - one night we ate in port and we ate in the Windjammer on the second formal night simply because we didn't want to pack a second formal ensemble for each of us. Aside from one lunch in the Seaview Cafe, we ate all breakfasts and lunches in the Windjammer. Food all over the ship was good - not spectacular and some things were better than others, but overall, except for the whole fruit which always seemed to be bruised, the quality was good. Children's Club - our 4 year old was an Aquanaut. She loved every minute she spent in the kids' club and would have been there the entire cruise had we allowed it. There were only 60 children between the ages of 3 -17 on the entire ship, so she got lots of attention. Highlights of her time in Adventure Ocean included looking for Fuzz Buzz (the alien), the talent show and the Pirate Parade. She came back with her face painted more than once and created lots of fun art and science projects. I can't speak highly enough of her experience there. Aquatots - our 1 year old participated in the Fisher Price Aquatots program on both sea days (it was held while we were in port on the other days) and he really enjoyed himself. Each day, the children (well, parents mostly) sang songs, the children listened to a story, colored a theme picture and played with Fisher Price toys. It was nice to meet parents of the under 3's as well (12 on board for this cruise) Entertainment: The entertainment that I saw was typical of RCCL - a comedian and a production show (the other nights I was in with the kids). I also saw the Love and Marriage Game Show and The Quest - hilarious as always. I felt that the activities staff was not quite up to scratch, especially one woman who hosted karaoke and I think towel animal folding. Her small talk left much to be desired - all she could say was "awesome". "What song are you singing? .. . Awesome." "You did an awesome job", etc. It grated on my nerves. Activities/Features of the Ship. This cruise was quite cold, so no one spent much time on deck. For example, we used the ball court before we departed San Diego and then never again. No chair hogs on this cruise. Aside from one or two brave souls in Victoria, no one swam in either the regular outdoor pool or the children's pool - it was just too cold and windy. Guest Relations and other service staff: Guest Relations and the other service staff ran hot and cold with us. It seemed that very few people had any hard information and if you asked different people the same question you got different answers. For example, because for the majority of the cruise, the temperature never rose out of the 50's, we asked at Guest Relations whether there would be any family swim time in the Solarium. They kept responding, I don't know. Then they would place three phone calls and still not have an answer. Finally on the 4th phone call they would tell us, yes - family swim will be from 12 - 2 pm. We would then run into other parents and say - did you hear - the Solarium will be open for family swim from 12 - 2? They would say, really? We were told family swim was going to be from 3 - 5. That was frustrating. Finally the Family Swim times were posted in the Cruise Compass and that helped a lot for the families and for people who actually read their Compass (but not for the many adults who gave my fully potty trained 4 year old and myself looks of disdain - like why are you invading an Adults Only area (because it's 50 degrees outside, the kids CAN'T swim anywhere else, and management has set aside this time for families - that's why!) But, then Guest Relations would turn around and be really great. I had enquired into in cabin babysitting and the next day (when I was at Guest Relations for something else) the woman remembered me and followed up on my request without my even asking. Disembarkation: The actual disembarkation process was smooth, but getting a taxi at the port? Holy Cow - I think the cab line ended up being over 3 hours. The entire city has approximately 435 cabs for a population of 1.5 million (and with three ships in port - 6,000 cruises on top of that). We eventually called our hotel (the Westin) and made arrangements with them directly. It was a nightmare. Vancouver overall was a beautiful city, I'm glad we spent an extra day there. All in all a great cruise. I'm very happy we went. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007

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