33 San Diego Fitness Cruise Reviews

This was my 23rd cruise (mostly on NCL) and my 2nd cruise on the Pearl, and my background as a former Flight Attendant with American Airlines during the 70’s-90’s (back when it was Fun to fly and I had hair…) when I worked First ... Read More
This was my 23rd cruise (mostly on NCL) and my 2nd cruise on the Pearl, and my background as a former Flight Attendant with American Airlines during the 70’s-90’s (back when it was Fun to fly and I had hair…) when I worked First Class, it provides a unique perspective. Our 1st cruise on the Pearl was to Alaska Labor Day week 2017. We booked this cruise shortly thereafter. I was also the CC Coordinator on both Pearl cruises, we had over 70+ couples who joined us on this San Diego - Tampa cruise via the Panama Canal. Staff Officer/Hotel Director Cary (previous experience was the Waldorf Astoria Hotel Director in NYC) is the only NCL Hotel Director that hosts an end of cruise meeting with myself and other CC members that would like to speak to the senior staff. I interacted with many passengers during this 2 week cruise regarding their experiences which enabled me to share some comments/feedback to the Pearl Staff - in addition to my own observations. I won’t be commenting on the day to day of what we did/eat/excursions, etc., but rather comment on our overall experience. I must say that NCL has improved greatly over the past few years and their FreeStyle is refreshing from some of the other cruise lines offerings. The main dining rooms to the specialty restaurants are indeed a treat. Never did we find a menu that was boring or repetitive during our 2 weeks on board, nor were we served anything that wasn’t fresh and tasty. I can’t say that about some of the finer restaurants in America. Even if NCL didn’t have any specialty restaurants, the Main Dining rooms would be superb. But, the specialty restaurants do add a unique experience in ambiance and taste, so if you would like a special evening, you can’t go wrong with whichever one(s) you chose to try. The Pearls staff are top notch, to say the least. The Captain (airplane or ship) sets the tone for the crew and it shows. I observed Officers picking up garbage on the pool deck, and other Officers rearranging lounge chairs in the clubs. The crew observes this so they in turn go the extra mile to serve us. Like I mentioned previously, NCL has risen in the ranks these past few years in my book and I can’t say enough good things about their staff. From the Cabin Stewards/Stewardess’, Pool Bar Servers to our Wait Staff and Bus Boys to the crew that we never see. As the CC Coordinator for this particular cruise, we organized a Halloween Costume Pub Crawl after we left Cartagena, Columbia. We had a lot of CC participants and as a bonus, the Pearl hosted a Haunted House in the Bliss Lounge. That was a fun memorable evening for all. Overall, this was a wonderful cruise! The Cruise Director and staff did a marvelous job of keeping us entertained for many sea days. NCL’s entertainment was top notch, plus a seasoned speaker/expert on the Panama Canal. Yes, we are booking with NCL again and the Pearl in particular. To me, that is the best write up/endorsement that I can make. Thank you NCL Pearl for being the ultimate Vacation Hero! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Chosen for location and timing. Ship was old and tired with many problems including air conditioning, tenders, internet system (awful) and plumbing. Nice staff could not overcome these many issues in my rating. The high end, Pinnacle ... Read More
Chosen for location and timing. Ship was old and tired with many problems including air conditioning, tenders, internet system (awful) and plumbing. Nice staff could not overcome these many issues in my rating. The high end, Pinnacle restaurant was quite disappointing. Exercise area was small; certainly not large enough in early morning to accommodate the many users. Food overall was excellent. Cabin staff excellent. I'd avoid this ship if possible. They "nickel and dime" you with expenses. We've been on eight cruises on 5 lines and this one garnered our lowest rating. Cabin OK except for mechanics. Activities were good especially the culinary art activities. Ports were OK especially those in Peru and Ecuador. I would not choose this ship again and less likely to choose Holland American. Departure city of San Diego was great... weather, easy port location, lots to do, airport close, GasLamp area was convenient, fabulous zoo, much more. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was my family's first cruise and we were not disappointed. In fact, we were surprised at how attentive the staff was and how well-cared-for we felt. We had no pre-conceptions or notions as to how cruises generally were so we ... Read More
This was my family's first cruise and we were not disappointed. In fact, we were surprised at how attentive the staff was and how well-cared-for we felt. We had no pre-conceptions or notions as to how cruises generally were so we were surprised at all of the niceties and courtesies we were given while on the cruise and at ports. We have decided cruising is the most bang for the buck because there would be no way a family of 5 could stay for 7 nights, have at least 3 meals a day, attend events and shore excursions and basically have your every wish granted. It was a real eye opener. I mean, sure, there will be times where we'll want to travel to one destination and spend more than a day there but it was perfect to get a sampling of the Mexican Riviera for a day and then go back to OUR ship and get comfortable again. It becomes a proprietary thing, when you feel you belong to a ship and a ship belongs to you. We feel that way about the Westerdam but we're definitely going to give the rest of Holland America's fleet a chance. We're already getting ready to book our next annual family vacation with HAL. I also think I would consider a quick getaway for my husband and me aboard HAL, too. Holland America is definitely a destination for every family of every type - small, large, empty-nesters, etc... So glad we chose Holland America!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Beautiful San Diego,We arrived 1 day early, Dec 3rd, Watched the sunset at Sunset Cliffs.There was the evening Christmas Parade. The King's Inn, authentic Mexican food for dinner next door. Embarkation at 1.00pm was very fast ... Read More
Beautiful San Diego,We arrived 1 day early, Dec 3rd, Watched the sunset at Sunset Cliffs.There was the evening Christmas Parade. The King's Inn, authentic Mexican food for dinner next door. Embarkation at 1.00pm was very fast and our luggage was in our room within the hour.Correction, my luggage was missing, regardless We headed up to Lido Deck 8 like veteran cruisers for lunch...Asian curry noodles and rice quite authentic. Checked with Security where my bag was held and my small travel iron was confiscated until Ensenada.You can not pack extension cords either. My cabin was Ocean View 3343 mid deck, near the Clock Tower Atrium....which was beautifully Xmas decorated with gingerbread houses, train set.Christmas trees lights.. Cabin was great,, quiet and equidistant both ends of the Amsterdam, La Fontaine Dining room and Queens Lounge..Must mention that my Cabin Stewards Agus and Made were warm, friendly and unobtrusive, kept the cabin very clean and tidy. I look forward to the Towel Art and be surprised every evening. All the ports were excellent, You are in Paradise, The ship excursions were pretty good but We decided to rent a car where We can and explore the islands on our own. HAL ships' ON LOCATION .We had Kainoa who gave us lectures on Hawaiian Culture, History and personal stories of the islands, advice,maps, guidelines to plan your day ashore,the many places to see,and shore excursions. There were the Hula Dancers performances and Hula lessons.Ukulele lessons,Hawaiian Lei making classes ,....A deeper Hawaiian experience. Dec 4th, 5 lovely fun filled sea days,This beautiful ship had fresh flowers everywhere. I read books by Dean Koontz and Jeffrey Archer in The Exploration Cafe Library. Dec 10th, HONOLULU (Oahu). We took the bus transit to Hanauma Bay, for swimming and snorkeling,Not environmentally correct to walk on the coral and rocks,then a long walk on Waikiki Beach, and some shopping for a Ukulele (Better buy on Amazon). i've been to the Pearl Harbor Memorial before .. there wasn't enough time to do more. HILO (Hawaii) Dec 11th..We drove up to Mauna Kea (13 796 ft) At 9200 ft,The Onizuka Center, the road to the summit was blocked off because of frozen ice, so We decided to drive South to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.(original plan was to do this from Kona) Moana Loa was spewing lava before the mist covered everything. Took a walk through the Thurston Lava Tube. At the shoreline of black lava fields, Kilauea was actively erupting lava into the sea, shooting massive plumes of smoke and ashes into the sky that can bee seen from afar. Next day, Dec 12th KONA, There was no car rental shuttle.It's USD28 to get to the car rental and USD28 back so no car rental. We did the Hop On for USD15 each,At the beach stop,James went snorkeling with his Go Pro and I walked the tidal pools and beaches.Saw 5 turtles and lots of yellow fishes..James did the Atlantis submarine (USD85).while I went shopping. 6 packs of Macadamia nut chocs ($24) at Target and Ross is my favorite for bargain hunting, shoes, dresses and fine Italian soap.(Bulgari 100ml parfum $30). Dec 13th NAWILIWILI (Kauai). We drove through Lihue to Waimea Canyon,The Grand Canyon of Hawaii.Don't just stop here, keep on driving to the very end of the road and from here you can see the North shore of the island, the jagged cliffs overlooking the sea.here was where they filmed Jurassic Park. A stop at Wailua Falls, there was a rainbow, before heading back to the ship. Dec 14th LAHAINA (Maui). Make sure your car rental pick-up is at JHM Airport.(not Kahului Airport which is too far from Lahaina) and the last car rental shuttle return to pier is 4.00pm ($20 cab return to Pier at 6.30pm). Drove up to Hakeakala National Park, dormant volcano, elevation 10,024 ft. We were above the clouds !!!! Nature enthusiasts would love the unique flora , silver swords. THE ROAD TO HANA, yes, We decided to do partway of this road, time permitting because We don't know when We'll be back this way again, just to say "We were there.". Narrow winding road through rain forest.Stopped at a fruit stand, On the way back, We went to the beach to watch the surfers.I had a Maui shave ice for $5, don't do that, not natural flavoring, inedible I had to throw away. It's my birthday, the dining room staff sang a Happy Happy song, which also works for anniversaries or anything else (I speak the language) and also a Birthday cake. If they sang in reverse, Am I one year younger You think? The 5 sea days to Ensenada, Mexico Dec20th, a seaside town with a wet fish market, lots of touristsy shops.Had a walk around and back to the ship for TEA., delicious scones with berries preserve and clotted cream.Earl Grey. Dec 21st, San Diego.Last breakfast.Disembark,Took the shuttle to the airport USD10. The HiGH POINT of this wonderful and special cruise was the Scenic Sailing of Kilauea Volcano 10.00pm.I videoed from the ship's bow.The lava flowing into the sea, bright orange red spewing up against the dark night.Lots of steam and smoke. Captain Fred Eversen is cool. The Amsterdam Dancers and Singers and the other entertainers were Super Excellent. The Culinary Art Centre was standing room only, Lots of activities like Trivia and stuff.... Cruise director guys were cool. The food was Excellent and ALL the staff did their best to make this an amazing wonderful cruise. I did not win the $25,000 Bingo, ;( I did not win the Cruise Bingo. ;( Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We took this 32 day cruise not knowing for sure if it might be too long. As it turned out it was terrific. The ship, The Amsterdam, had been refurbished at the beginning of the year and was neat and clean and simple to learn. It helped ... Read More
We took this 32 day cruise not knowing for sure if it might be too long. As it turned out it was terrific. The ship, The Amsterdam, had been refurbished at the beginning of the year and was neat and clean and simple to learn. It helped that we had sailed on it several years earlier. The itinerary was excellent. Although one of our ports had been cancelled and we revisited Hualtuco twice, it was fine. The food was well prepared and portions were very reasonable. Generally the portions are too big but the staff was good about not overloading your plate. You can always go back if you're still hungry. Hard ice cream is always a treat and Holland does it best. The dining room service was generally excellent. We did one night in the Pinacle dining room and although nice we felt the food was just as good in the dining room. The entertainment was excellent. In 32 days there were only a couple of times when a performer entertained twice and then their show was different the second time. This was one of the best varieties of entertainment that we have seen. The movies were generally first run with a few oldies. Music in the dance areas was fine and the dance floor was generally pretty open. We did two shore excursions from the ship and both were reasonably priced and we were pleasantly surprised. One was Antiqua on your own and the other was in Corinto. We were pleased with both. We were in Cabin 2604, inside and there was plenty of storage space for our things. The Cabin Steward, Asep was pleasant and if we needed anything he was eager to provide. Now for the bridge. We had a Bridge Director on Board, Bruce and his wife Penny. What I really liked about him was he was very up front from the beginning that his objective was for us to Have Fun and to Not Wreck anyone else's fun. The majority of players were respectful of that request and it made playing bridge much more enjoyable. Bruce provided a qualified duplicate game as well as open party bridge for those who did not want to play duplicate. He and Penny made the lessons and playing very enjoyable. The staff was very good and the clientele were pleasant. We did not feel crowded or overwhelmed at all. The ports of call were fun and we did 4 tours off the ship and 2 from the ship. Embarkation and Disembarkation was a breeze. Overall it was a great relaxing cruise and I would do Holland again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
The Ship: The ship is wonderful. The retrofit changed a few things, so i recommend you also try the Maasdam to get a feel for the smaller ships. The Atrium is wonderful and still all the decks and spaces are so wondrful. The artwork is ... Read More
The Ship: The ship is wonderful. The retrofit changed a few things, so i recommend you also try the Maasdam to get a feel for the smaller ships. The Atrium is wonderful and still all the decks and spaces are so wondrful. The artwork is also wonderful. They changed happy hour times, but that is okay, we still made a few of them. We danced in the crows nest late one night and had a blast. I recommend you check out the deck plans. We always to scour them before we sail. The crew:The crew was amazing. Arthur and Gabriel of the front desk! They need a raise. Cyn of the spa, she was great. Our room stewerts were also amazing. The Entertainment: The on location stuff by Kinoa was amazing. His knowledge , his humor, his open heart full of aloha was so refreshing. This guy is so informed, a true native that you simply cant stump him. Dont miss his presentations. I even took some of gradma's jewlery to him, and he knew all of the hawaiian origins. The show Airborn was hilarious and inspiring. the singing and costumes were really good. The movies were all latest realeases. They show them the next day on the TV or in the Gym, so we saw alot of them. There is so much going on, dont fall prey to sitting in a lounger all day. Walk the decks, go to the cooking presentations, take the galley tour, go the library and just do it. It is nice to see Officers and the Captain enjoying a show or two some times too. The Dining: Prior to this cruise we always booked late seating. This time, due to negative people at our table, we jumped ship and switched to open seating. We found others of like mind that love their surroundings and love cruising and are generally happy with themselves to be fun to hang out with and did what we would normally do with our tabelmates. We ate at Canaletto together, went offshore together and got time to have a bite and talk. The dining was wonderful. For an 18 night cruise food did not repeat itself and was always fabulous. The soups were killer and we got to meet the saucier or soup guy and tell him so. The dining staff on this ship is top notch and clearly they have fun at work. They laugh and joke with us and each other and one night after dinner (we usually shiut the dining room down) they were celebrating a coworkers birthday at the very end of the shift with a with a pie in the face and icewater on his head. we all laughed and clapped at this rare human moment from folks who work so very very hard. The Gym: There is a good deck on the gym floor in which to take pics as most do, but also give the gym a try. We wend there everyday. It is free and they have good equipement. Just bring headphones so that you can also catch that movie you missed the day before , because they have screens and plug ins. The Spa:This is limited to 20 couples on this size ship and is a must do with 12 sea days. I am expecially glad we did, as the mineral tub was so ralaxing with a sea view and the ceramic hot beds were our daily moment of zen. There are also showers, steam rooms, two of them, one cooler one hot. If you can possibly afford it, just do it, and you wont regret it. The pools and hot tubs: THE pool (only one) was refilled with nice warm water that just got colder and colder each sea day. Very motel 6 like. The hot tubs, never hot, the jets are on day and night no option to turn the jets off. The jets are just blasts of cold air the water bubbles six inches high. On the back deck at The Retreat , the wind takes the bubbling water to be shared by all on the deck, and in your face too. The rectangular hot tubs at the Retreat , when they were filled, which wasnt all the time, were oddly the hottest pools and hotter than the hot tubs. They also had motion and jets to them, but were simply hotter. they are shallow, but wonderful. They just simply dont travel well at sea, so they are netted and empty most of the time as most of the water sloshes out across the decks. poor planning. The Room: We booked a oceanview on the promenade deck next too an exit to our "veranda". Loved the fresh air that would blow in when doors on this deck would open and close with people going in and out. Stateroom 327, just steps away from the promanade, providing fresh air, a feeling like it was our own viranda at half the price of the lanai. close to elevators and the atrium, and the lovely atrium steps. The Excursions: We had these stops: Oahu, Maui, Kuai ,Kona and Hilo. On Oahu (this was our overnight stop) we got together with friends for dinner and drinks, but the next day we took the city bus to Hanauma Bay and went snrokeling. I recommend this very much. Clear warm waters and huge fish. We have been to Oahu before so, this was perfect for us. On Hilo we got a rental car and drove to Volcanoes National Park and spent a time there walking trails. On a prior cruise we took the crater hike and it was wonderful. This time we drove to key spots and then drove also to Akaka Falls. This is a very spectacular fall on a very very short walk. Do this is you are pressed for time and want to squeeze in one more side trip. It is worth it. on Kaui we took the Seafun Kauai Shore Snorkel excursion form the ship. This is the best trip! You start in a van with a very short ride to suit up in a short wet suit, which keeps you warm and bouyant enough, so that you dont need a vest as on other snorkel trips. Once at the shore, the guides help you get situated, so dont let the rocky shore worry you. If you are lucky you will get the guide named Paul. We have gotten him twice now. This guy lives in the ocean and knows it like the back of his hand. He always produces a good find. Last time it was a Nerf Shark and Turtles and too many fish to describe. He will even offer to dive with your camera and get a good pic for you. This time he found an Octopus and we took turns holding it with his guidance. He also points out everything so you want to follow him, and he is good at keeping you close if you stray. We saw eels, sea cucumbers, turtles and a million dish. The Octopus was the star this time. The Kona Sail & Snorkel was a Snorkel excursion form the ship. This was a tender port, so this wonderful sail snorkeling excurion starts with a short drive in a van to the Kaloko Honokohau Marina. Then you travel south by catamaran to a sheltered cove. This was a small and intimate catamaran. Good lunch and treats and beer if you want it. The fish were wonderful and we always see some species that we haven't seen before. This location had a beautiful view of a beach that only native hawaiians can go to, but it was also close to a nice drop off.The water is thirty feet deep where the boat ties off to an anchor point. The water is very clear visablity is 120 feet. Along the shore are blocks lava that are plentifull with marine life and unbelievable amounts of fish. This was one of the few locations that we saw schools of fish. This is not for first time snorkelers or weak swimmers. The guides are friendly and very knowledgable of this pristine spot. West Maui Snorkel Cruise snorkel excurion from the ship:This the second time we have taken this excursion and was just as great as the first time. The crew is fun and friendly, very helpful for first time snorkelers. The water is about 20 feet deep, coral heads rise off the bottom at least 15 feet. Marine life covers the coral heads that attract the fish and turtles. The water is very clear you can see for 60-80 feet, fish are very abundant swimming around the coral heads. This spot is south of the ship tender close to Olowala state reserve on shore the water is very calm.The sail back to port is mostly by motor, the crew tries to sail but the wind has other ideas, take lots of pictures going to and from this location. The good: We love cruising and love our surrounding both at home and on a ship. Not much can dampen our day. One sweet highlight was seeing a storm petral and an albatross on the water. The bad: People who think that they are royalty; one day a woman stuck her pronged cane in the elevator while it was closing. It clamped down on the end and she was stuck on the outside with the rest of her cane and i was stuck on the inside with the end of it. Naturally it shut down the elevators and i had to pry open the doors. It put the elvator out of commision for a day. This might work in a city, not so much on a cruise ship. The ugly: Buzz kill negative people who hate their surroundings should not cruise. This sucks the life out of those of us who do. If you run around and take bowls of cheese or all the almonds you are selfish. If you complain that the soup is cold when there is steam clearly rising from it, you are ignorant. Leave cruising to those of us who know how to do it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Phenomenal trip, longest cruise we've been on. Purchased one premium beverage package as wife does not drink as much as me. Cabin was great, in elevator hallway, but minimum noise. Joining cruise critic a few months prior made all the ... Read More
Phenomenal trip, longest cruise we've been on. Purchased one premium beverage package as wife does not drink as much as me. Cabin was great, in elevator hallway, but minimum noise. Joining cruise critic a few months prior made all the difference. We met so many great folks from all over the world. One of our new friends won an upgrade to a penthouse suite during day one bingo. She invited a bunch of us (cruise critic members) to her penthouse as we transited the Gutan Locks. That day alone made the entire trip. Shore excursions...would not recommend snorkeling in the pacific, or at least not this early in the season. Best excursions -- hike to plyacana volcano in Guatemala , Segway tour in Columbia (private), and grand tour (horseback riding, zip lining, and, crocodile river ride) in Costa Rica. Dining in Blu was great, but menu choices became redundant around day 12. Service was great, food was great. But keep in mind we are relatively new cruisers...many cruise critics said food was not up to par from previous cruises with Celebrity.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We just returned from a 35 day cruise of the South Pacific and were left with mixed feelings about the overall experience. This was our first cruise on Holland America and we selected it based on its South Pacific itinerary. ... Read More
We just returned from a 35 day cruise of the South Pacific and were left with mixed feelings about the overall experience. This was our first cruise on Holland America and we selected it based on its South Pacific itinerary. Embarkation: Boarding in San Diego was efficient and uneventful with the exception of a noticeably high number of over 70 guests - some with walkers or scooters. Although this did not present a problem for us socially, we did find accommodating them on tenders (which there were a lot of) tedious at times and we wondered why there wasn't a dedicated tender for older/disabled cruisers. Common Areas: After boarding, we self-toured the ship to orient ourselves and were struck by its dark interiors and small spaces. We also noticed a lot of worn and outdated furniture in the Crow's Nest and library. Their two specialty restaurants and even the theater were not very private and did not evoke a sense of being special. On the plus side, the Crow's Nest and Library's spaciousness invited more light than any other area of the ship without being outside. Stateroom: We were pleasantly surprised with the size and comfort of our stateroom and adjoining bath. The balcony was comfortable as well. The sofa and chairs were worn and outdated, but still serviceable. The downside of the stateroom was that the aroma of food occasionally drifted in through our ventilation system causing discomfort, especially on days when curry was added to recipes. Not pleasant. Amenities: The ships gym had a lot of broken equipment and even the scale stopped working at one point. Again, it was serviceable and I enjoyed my workouts, but expected more. Same with the casino. The pool was adequate, but charging for the mineral pool was a bit crude. Solarium's on other cruise lines are typically complimentary. The basketball court was rarely used and would better serve the clientele of HAL by being converted to a putting green. As I mentioned before, the ship's theater was not very private (a curtain was pulled to create darkness) but since it was in a heavy traffic area, it did an inadequate job. The selection of movies was excellent, but we typically watched them in the comfort of our stateroom. Dinning: Food and service in the Vista dinning room was adequate, but not special. I sent plates back to the kitchen at least three of the first five nights due to over cooked or under cooked meat. Our dinning room attendants were attentive, but did not seem genuinely interested in presenting food to our liking. They seemed more interested in supplying ice tea in advance (because I asked for it on the first night) when what I wanted was a medium rare lamb chop. Salads were served warm and I eventually stopped ordering them altogether. Maybe our expectations are higher than most, but we have cruised enough to know what to expect. This is not meant to be critical of our dinning room attendants work ethic, professionalism or demeanor. I believe they were just unaware. We made reservations at both specialty restaurants and enjoyed our experience at the Pinnacle - excellent food, outstanding service and beautiful presentation. We ate at Canaletto one time and cancelled our other two reservations. Although the grilled vegetable anti-pasta platter was delicious, the main courses were extremely salty. Could have been a bad night, but we weren't willing to pay the up charge again to find out. Ports of Call: This itinerary piqued our interest from the first time we read about it, and it did not disappoint. The chance to visit Bora Bora, Fanning Island and Rarotonga were worth the slight discomforts we endured on an aging ship. Excursions: We did not avail ourselves of the ship's excursions and booked privately instead. This was entirely an economic decision and has no reflection on the quality of HAL's excursions. We cannot speak fairly to that subject. Staff: We found the staff of the Westerdam helpful, professional and hard working at all times. Standouts include; Travel Talks by Julia,Cruise Director Armen, Digital Workshop instructor Emily and our ever present stateroom attendants. We appreciated the high viability of cleaning staff in every part of the ship and the overall cleanliness. While we rate the overall experience just above average, we would still recommend it to anyone who wants reliable, comfortable transportation to some of the most amazing ports of call imaginable. I am sure we will cruise on HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We recently sailed on theCentury on the March 19 sailing from San Diego to Hawaii. This was our 12th Celebrity sailing and our first time on this smaller and older ship. Despite many of the earlier reviews we had read, my wife and I ... Read More
We recently sailed on theCentury on the March 19 sailing from San Diego to Hawaii. This was our 12th Celebrity sailing and our first time on this smaller and older ship. Despite many of the earlier reviews we had read, my wife and I both agreed the Century is still in relatively nice shape. We booked a Sky Suite on Deck 10 (Cabin 1070) and we found the location ideal to the pool, buffets, and appreciated the mid-ship location on the few occasions when the ship was feeling the swells in the Pacific. While it's true the Sky Suites on Summit don't have the newer big flat screens and the nice technology touches we have grown used to on Solstice Class ships, the oversized balcony and amazingly helpful butler, (His name is Speedy Gonzalez) more than made up for the older cabin which was in overall good shape. If you are considering this particular itinerary to Hawaii, know upfront there are MANY sea days. Also be prepared for cool weather the first two days out of San Diego and the last two days of the cruise. My wife and I enjoy the tranquility of sea days although I must confess that in the future I will make sure those days are spent in warmer climates. We don't particularly enjoy sea days when the weather is too cold to lay poolside with a good book. The average age on this 15 night cruise was 70+ years old. On the bright side, it was nice to be among the youngest passengers and we are in our early 60's. Transversely, we would have enjoyed socializing with more passengers who were closer to our age and perhaps still had careers and active lives to discuss. While not trying to sound condescending to older passengers, as I know we will be there soon, we enjoy meeting new people our age who share our interests. There has always been a huge void on Celebrity ships when it comes to entertainment aimed at the under 60 crowd. I just can't understand why the cruise directors can't hire more relevant and 'hip' entertainers and perhaps switch the nostalgia from the 1950s to the 1970s, please. We were unimpressed with the cruise director on Summit, as we found him smug and not open to our suggestions when it came to entertainment. Whatever. WE DID enjoy both comedians and the magician who was featured on America's Got Talent. We had already seen many of the performers and productions on other Celebrity ships, so we avoided those evenings. The food was OK. We personally like more traditional American fare rather than 'want to be be-gourmet entrees', but that's a subjective thing. While the alternative restaurant Murano was a step up, the menu is tired and the exactly the same as we have experienced on other Celebrity ships. It's time for a menu change for sure. We missed SILK HARVEST, the Asian restaurant found on Solstice class ships. In addition to fewer dining choices, we found the buffet on Summit to be much smaller than on Solstice class ships and candidly, just not as tasty. While we like fewer passengers, we did miss the array of dining choices and the modern technology touches found on Celebrity's larger vessels. We found the Spa to offer a skilled staff but as usual, we had to bicker on pricing. Make sure you negotiate your massage prices if you plan on getting more than one treatment, as the printed prices are outrageous and not worth it. I scratch my head when I read other reviews that complain of nothing to do on sea days. Celebrity offers an amazing array of things to keep people busy. We happen to pass on most activities and simply enjoy the solitude of the sea and fewer annoying messages by the cruise director than on most other lines. There's something wonderful about nice weather, the open sea, a good book, your favorite tunes in your ears, and nowhere to have to be! IF YOU DON'T ENJOY RELAXING SEA DAYS, THIS HAWAII ITINERARY IS NOT FOR YOU! You may read that Celebrity did a terrible job with embarkation in San Diego. Ignore those comments, as the Coast Guard staged a surprise inspection that pushed back the boarding process by several hours. The cruise line was not at fault for the delayed boarding and the long lines in San Diego. IN light of the recent woes at Carnival, we welcome anything that has to do with SAFETY! This was the first time I have ever experienced a bad embarkation and like I said, Celebrity was not at fault. Disembarkation was smooth and timely. Overall, we had no major complaints. We had a wonderful 15 nights and came home relaxed with plenty of nice memories. This is a good Hawaii SAMPLER for folks who are simply looking for a taste of the islands mixed with plenty of sea days. We had wonderful seas but the Pacific can be tricky and you can never count on the same luck. If you are afraid of motion and are susceptible to sea sickness , I would not recommend this itinerary without getting a prescription for a patch. I think this might be time for us to move on to Azamara for our future cruise experiences. Celebrity is a great product, especially the newer Solstice Class ships. But while we aren't getting any younger, we also aren't ready for Assisted Living. I think we will seek out the smaller ships with a slightly younger demographic and more exotic destinations. Overall- 3.5 stars out of 5 for this latest adventure! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
I try to sail on a HAL ship once every 2 years. I normally go to the Mexican Riviera in the winter to use their excellent thermal suite and work out equipment. I consider it my spa week to relax. This was my first time on the Zaandam. ... Read More
I try to sail on a HAL ship once every 2 years. I normally go to the Mexican Riviera in the winter to use their excellent thermal suite and work out equipment. I consider it my spa week to relax. This was my first time on the Zaandam. I liked the layout of the ship; smaller than most but not crowded even though it was Easter break week. We ( my son and I ) were upgraded to a partial blocked outside cabin, 3383. This was not an upgrade. The cabin was large but from the moment we entered I knew we would have a problem. The diesel fuel smell in the cabin was overwhelming and the A/C was hardly working. We immediately called downstairs; they said the smell would go away when we started sailing and sent someone up to look at the A/C. The repair man came up and said that the cabin was hot and that they would adjust it downstairs. We went off to sign up for the thermal suite package and I did not think about it again. When we came back to the cabin after dinner the smell was still bad and the A/C was still not working well. Our cabin steward apologized and got us a fan. He did what he could but he looked like this was not the first time this cabin had a problem. I tried to sleep with the fan blowing the fumes in my face. At 1 am I gave up; I had a terrible headache from the fumes and felt sick to my stomach. I went to the front office and asked if there was anywhere I could sleep. The lady said ; sorry we are completely booked. She was sorry I was sick from the cabin fumes but there was no room in the inn. I offered to sleep in the infirmary, I just needed some sleep and some clean air. No the infirmary was closed. So I told her I would sleep in the library. I went up and slept on the library couch for 2 hours, woke up without the headache and went back to my smelly cabin. The smell did get better the next day, the A/C never did and after 2 days of asking for help we gave up and kept the fan going. The toilet in the cabin worked most of the time; only had to have it fixed 2x. Avoid this cabin. The rest of the trip was fun. Went on the whale watching trip and saw a couple of whales ( the end of March is really too late in the season). We enjoyed the thermal suite and worked out everyday on the new equipment. We spent some time in the casino , contributing to the casino's retirement fund. The casino manager was great. The comedian , Dan Grueter was wonderful and we were sad that he only did one show. The singers and dancers were good and did their best with the small stage and the simple sets. We enjoyed the cooking demo, the computer classes and the DJ in the Crow's nest. We ate in the lido restaurant for all of our meals. We have done this before on 2 other cruises with HAL and normally we found the food there to be as good as the dining room . But not this time, HAL's food quality is slipping. Overall, we had a nice time. But for me the quality of service was seriously lacking. When you are paying so much for a room on a ship ; you should be able to sleep in your room and not the library couch. I was too tired and had too bad a headache to care. I wish someone on the HAL staff could have cared a little more. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
My husband and I have cruised 8 times, three on Holland America. This was our first time on the Zaadam, a smaller ship than we are used to. First of all, I want to share a great tip that I got off of Pinterest. Take a power strip with ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised 8 times, three on Holland America. This was our first time on the Zaadam, a smaller ship than we are used to. First of all, I want to share a great tip that I got off of Pinterest. Take a power strip with you on your cruise, as most state rooms only have one outlet. With the onslaught of cell phone, ipads, ipods, etc., the extra power outlets are a great way to get everything powered at one time. You can even use this in the airport. We had several people ask to use ours while waiting in the airport and we were happy to oblige. Thank me later. Back to the ship. We are boring cruisers. We go solely for Rest and Relaxation. We usually don't go on shore excursions but opt for independent art gallery shopping and local fare while in port. Sometimes we just stay on the boat and relax near the pool. One reason we choose Holland America is that they allow you to bring your own wine on board. We made a quick stop at a Walgreens in San Diego and stocked up with bottles of wine. These can be carried right on to the ship and consumed in your state room for no fee. If you wish to have this wine at dinner, there is a corkage fee. But we usually just waited until after dinner and enjoyed the wine in the room. We used the gym every morning at 6 am. The gym is well equipped and the treadmills face outward so you can enjoy the sunrise while logging in miles. Yoga, tai chi, water aerobics, etc. are all offered on the ship, as well as other classes for fitness bugs like us. The food on this ship is adequate buffet quality. Again, we did not choose this cruise line because of it's stellar dining experience. We wanted to relax, be on our own schedule and have some sustenance to keep us going. However, Holland America still confuses us with their dinner dining policy. We usually just called a day ahead and made reservations for a table for two at dinner. Walk ins still are welcomed though, which I don't quite understand but hey, it's a vacation right? Who cares? We were seated every night next to the prep. table which was not in the least a fine dining experience. Although wait staff were courteous and nice, the service from the kitchen seemed slow and disjointed. Food was adequate and desserts unimaginative. We found out that we could get basically the same food on the dining menu up stairs at the buffet and were tempted to do so a couple of times. There was a sewage smell in our cabin for about 1/2 of our trip. The smell emanated from the little hallway near the closets and surprisingly, not the bathroom. The staff came in to try to clean the smell and it did abate for a time, but came back within a few hours. Our toilets also went out one day due to blockage on our floor. Not good. But was fixed in about 6 hours. This ship seems rather dated and the staterooms show signs of wear and tear. But beds are comfy, there is an actual bathtub in bathroom and shower pressure is good.The staff is friendly, accommodating and hard working. Entertainment is limited and most venues are more intimate than in larger ships. Puerto Vallarta and Cabo were on the itinerary and we enjoyed walking around and seeing the local flavor. I understand that Mazatlan was taken off the itinerary list because of gang wars and violence in that city. Puerto and Cabo seem to be immune to that for the time being. Traveler's beware and be alert in any Mexican country these days. Lots of drug cartels and hating on travelers, so buyer beware. All in all, we had a nice vacation. Probably won't ask for this ship again and will probably stick with Holland America as we are racking up frequent cruiser points. It would be nice to have a bottle of champagne or another show of gratitude for frequent cruisers, other than the luncheon and coasters given each year. Just an observation. We got what we wanted out of this vacation. Sun, solitude, rest and relaxation. We even got to see the whales! Added bonus! Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
After having to postpone this wonderful itinerary for almost 3 years due to health issues, we finally boarded the beautiful Westerdam on Oct. 4 for our 30 day cruise to Hawaii and the South Pacific. Stayed at the Best Western Yacht ... Read More
After having to postpone this wonderful itinerary for almost 3 years due to health issues, we finally boarded the beautiful Westerdam on Oct. 4 for our 30 day cruise to Hawaii and the South Pacific. Stayed at the Best Western Yacht Harbor Hotel in San Diego for 2 nights prior. Nice room overlooking the bay -- staff was very accommodating. DH traveled with his scooter and the hotel arranged for special transfer both from the airport and to the cruise pier at their expense. Embarkation was very smooth and we were in our lovely veranda cabin by 12 noon. Loved the extra space and the bathroom is to "die for" !Our room stewards were wonderful -- and we never needed to ask for anything twice. It amazes me how they know your names almost from Day 1 --- Jo and Dani were always smiling and very pleasant. As this was our first cruise with HAL, I was very concerned in regards to the mixed reviews I had read on the CC boards about the food, entertainment and overall atmosphere of the ship. We were pleasantly surprised! The entertainment was top-notch. Cruise Director, Jason commented that HAL does bring on more upscale entertainment for the longer cruises and we enjoyed the main shows almost every nite. In fact, several of the performers did repeat shows which was great. However, the HAL singers and dancers were totally "underused" only doing two Broadway type productions for the 30 day trip. These folks are wonderful, work extremely hard and HAL should use their talents more! We had originally chosen the "anytime dining" thinking we could eat around our usual 7 pm dinner time -- however, after the first nite and the long line and resulting chaos -- we changed to fixed dining at 8 pm. I think HAL needs to change this policy as the only times one could get a reserved spot was either at 5:15 or 8 pm in the Dining room on Deck 2 --- nothing in between. As my husband needs to eat at a certain time due to medications --- the concept of going to the dining room whenever we wanted was not available. So we would see the show at 7 and then have dinner at 8. Our waiters were wonderful and always concerned that we were happy with our meal. Speaking of food --- we were very pleased with the quality and quantity. Lobster and Filet were offered on each of the 7 formal nites along with my favorite: escargot in garlic butter sauce. The desserts were very good although DH really missed a nice slice of apple pie or a piece of NY style cheesecake. That's OK -- he didn't need the extra calories anyway. We ate in the Lido Buffet mostly for lunch --- we preferred the Dining Room for breakfast as our food always arrived hot. We didn't have the craziness of the Lido with people walking every which way -- plus there were a significant no. of canes, walkers and some scooters on board so the traffic was pretty tight at times. The pizza (thin crust) was actually very good, too. The retracting roof over the Lido pool was a great asset --- allowing passengers to enjoy the area even during the few times we had some rain/wind. However, the Thermal pool and Spa is another area of "compliant" at least for me and a significant number of other guests. Seems you were required to purchase a spa pass for the ENTIRE cruise at the cost of $ 800 per couple or a day pass of $ 40 pp per day. HAL needs to re-think this policy especially for the longer cruises -- I am sure if one could buy "week pkgs." -- this area would have gotten a lot more use. As it was, I often saw the T pool empty and I passed by just about daily. What a waste, IMO !! Hawaii and the South Pacific islands were exactly as you see in the travel brochures --- the turquoise colors of the waters in Bora Bora and Moorea are so clear and amazingly gorgeous !!! We did private tours on all islands with one HAL tour on Moorea. The price HAL charges for their shore excursions is outrageously high --- we like smaller groups with more "one-on-one" interaction with tour guides. Plus we got alot more for our money, too ! With reference to using a scooter and tendering --- I must say that HAL's crews were wonderful !!! DH was able to use his scooter on all the islands with the exception of Nuku Hiva which made for a much more enjoyable trip for us both. He would have missed so much if this trip had been with any other cruise ship. We did have a itinerary change as a medical evacuation caused us to stop at Christmas Island after leaving Fanning Island. Due to miscommunication at some point at the Hawaiian end ---We sat there for over 12 hours waiting for the medivac plane from Honolulu to show up. As this is a military base -- we were not allowed ashore but most took it in stride and enjoyed the beautiful weather. This meant we would miss Rarotonga and to make up time --- our arrival in Bora Bora was pushed ahead by 2 days !! I was the tour coordinator for our tours in Bora Bora and was petty anxious about this change of plans. However, the Front Desk was very helpful in helping me contact the tour operator and he was able to accommodate us and the tours went off smoothly. All in all, this was a wonderful cruise and I highly recommend the Westerdam and it's crew. We will definitely check out her itineraries for future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Embarkation was delayed several hours by the need to scrub the ship for norovirus problems. As a result lunch was for a very limited time. The ships condition varied greatly from one area to the next. For example, the shopping area ... Read More
Embarkation was delayed several hours by the need to scrub the ship for norovirus problems. As a result lunch was for a very limited time. The ships condition varied greatly from one area to the next. For example, the shopping area and main dining were well maintained. However, in the main theater, there were numerous and large tears in the upholstery, in our room, tears in a couch that should have been replaced years ago. The carpeting looked like in parts of the ship was new but in others looked as if it should have been steam cleaned years ago. Leaks in the ceiling in the buffet area with buckets underneath did not add a classy air to that experience. Apparently, from another review, this is a problem at least six months old and so it is clear that a serious case of delayed maintenance exists. I am a fitness nut and out of about 35 pieces of equipment in the gym area, 11 had out of order tags on them. A couple can be expected in the normal course of things, but in dozens of gyms visited over the years, none has had 1/3 of equipment unusable and more with serious rips in the rubber where folks use it. The food experience was better then ship condition. The variety of fare offered is better then other major cruise lines and as a result something is sure to please. The only issue is that the staff too often brings the wrong items. In 4 days, 4 different meals the food was mixed up by the staff. Not the worst thing but no too professional either. Drinks were pushed very strongly and indeed it was noticed that servers frowned if they could not complete a drink purchase. The overall experience when this happens feels cheapened if the need to spend more money at every occasion is not met. The ship had rocky seas and the port scheduled was canceled. Only issue here was that entertainment was supposed to come aboard and therefore there was less to do but weather related things are beyond the cruise companies control. All in all, this ships condition and lack of service made it feel like I was at a cheap motel instead of on a premium cruise ship. I'm usually easy to please and any cruise experience is ultimately a good one out of the 30 or so taken. So yes, I had a great time. However, Holland America did not seem to contribute much to make it so. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
OUR TRIP ON THE OOSTERDAM TO HAWAII Before deciding on the Oosterdam, San Diego to Hawaii cruise, we looked at various tours of the islands but they all required that we fly to Honolulu and back. I hate flying today. And really, ... Read More
OUR TRIP ON THE OOSTERDAM TO HAWAII Before deciding on the Oosterdam, San Diego to Hawaii cruise, we looked at various tours of the islands but they all required that we fly to Honolulu and back. I hate flying today. And really, what's wrong with ten days back and forth on the Pacific? We had done two East to West TransAtlantics in years past and enjoyed them immensely. We had also done one cruise with HAL, the Veendam from NYC to Bermuda. We flew directly into San Diego and met pouring rain getting to and from the bus to the passenger terminal. This was something of a portent for our trip. Finally through Security, we boarded and went to find our cabin, Deck 7, Portside, Forward. We were greeted in the appropriate hallway by Mus and Wayan who introduced themselves as our stewards and welcomed us to our spotlessly-prepared verandah cabin. (We are aware that not all Ccers were so fortunate as to be taken care of in this manner, but we were delighted). Once we found more drawers available under the end of the bed, we were able to store everything. Anyway, after a cold and rainy lifeboat drill (seemingly more important now after the Costa Concordia), we shoved off at 5 PM. We dined in the Vista Dining Room with Ali, our headwaiter, and it was an excellent experience. Not only did he explain the use of the Vegan-Vegetarian Menu to my wife, who prefers such things, but from that night on, the appropriate teas and decaf coffee automatically appeared at the end of the meal without our asking. The food during our VDR experience was varied, very tasty, and well prepared. Not being pressed for time, we utilized the VDR for lunches, as well and they were equally good. Since we were still on Eastern time and had been up quite a while, we went to bed around 8:30 (11:30 EDT) and fell asleep in our exceptionally comfortable bed, only to waken sometime later to a howling wind and an actively moving ship. If memory serves, the Captain described 60+ mph winds and 25+ seas, not as much as we experienced on the Atlantic one time, but the larger Oosterdam handled it well and we slept on. However, given the average age and impaired mobility of many of our fellow passengers, if they weren't safely in their cabins, they might have had a difficult time getting there. Some did, apparently, have issues as several passengers sported oversized bandages on their thumbs the next few days, the reason for Captain's warning about doors, fingers, and doorframes repeatedly broadcast. Awake before 6 AM (!), the prospect of waiting for the VDR to open at 8 AM was too daunting so we decided to go to the Lido and forage for food. Not our favorite food venue due to crowds, lines, and searching for open, clean tables, we think we have 'cracked the code' for the Lido breakfast and subsequently ate there most mornings, particularly as we kept getting up before 6 AM as we went from Pacific time to Hawaiian time (- 3 more hrs). Coffee and tea were available when we got to the Lido and, around 6:30, the Continental Breakfast opened with yogurt, fresh berries, and melon. Finally, we could see when the omelette chef opened where we could obtain the best made-to-order omelettes I have ever had! After this, we would return to our cabin, which had already been made up. Thank you, Mus and Wayan. During the cruise, we would spend time in the Crow's Nest with our lap-top attempting to annoy our children with wifi emails. Not always successful, due to the dial-up (or worse) speeds, we soldiered on, hoping that the islands would re-invigorate our cell phones so we could text our children so they would not forget us! :} We attended interesting port lectures by Nancy, the excursion director, and a great guest lecturer, Dr Charlie Urbanowicz, an anthropologist who lived several years with his wife on South Pacific islands. He did an excellent job talking about WWII in the Pacific, which generated good crowds, and the South Pacific cultures and history. We only wish he had been scheduled for more lectures. THE BIG ISLAND Upon docking at Hilo, we disembarked smoothly and met the Enterprise shuttle which took us directly to their office. Our plan was to drive to Volcano's National Park 30 miles away, and it was helpful that their office was located on the same road as the park. After a 45 minute drive, we were in the Visitor's Center and shortly after on the road around Kilauea Crater, which was smokin' and so part of the road around the caldera was closed due to sulfurous gasses. We got out at an overlook for the crater and saw a trail to the Jagger Museum so off we walked. Bad choice. It began to blow and rain heavily, so by the time we reached the museum, where we could have driven to and parked, we were soaked. Blame it on the trip planner (me!) But I wasn't through. I also parked at the first lot for the Thurston Lava Tube, walked 15 or so minutes through the drizzle to get to...another lot, right at the entrance to the tube. The time spent at the Park was worthwhile, but, due to the unattractive weather, our thoughts turned to lunch at the Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant in the little town of Volcano, just a few minutes from the Park. Owned by a former makeup artist on Hawaii 5-0 and set in an older building, the menu was varied and the food excellent (antelope burgers, anyone?) While returning to the ship, we stopped at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory outside Hilo and bought some nutty souvenirs (sorry) for friends at home. Fresh? The trees were across the street! Prices? The best we saw in the islands. OAHU While I had been in Oahu in 1974, my wife had never been there so when our choice of excursions was cancelled for lack of interest, we signed up for the 3 ½ hr Little Circle Tour of Oahu. Past Diamondhead to Hanauma Bay and the Blowhole, then continuing up to the Pali Lookout. It really reacquainted me to the area and my wife got to see some of the interesting backcountry of Oahu. We had hoped to be dropped off at Waikiki after the tour, but the drive was going back another route. When we asked, he said we could use Hilo Hattie's free shuttle to get there so we got off at the huge store. The Hilo Hattie shuttle driver apparently was practicing to be a stand-up comedian and was funny and informative. When I asked him where to get off for Duke's Restaurant, he dropped us at a hotel door and told us to just walk through the lobby and turn right! And there it was. Nice lunch, virtually on the beach, followed by the largest dessert I have ever shared-- Duke's Hula Pie. Since I was on Waikiki 38 years earlier, it seems that they have built three times as many hotels and the beach has shrunk! We were headed for Ft. DeRussy near which there was supposed to be a place called Parrot-Dise where you could have your picture taken with various exotic birds. My wife grew up with a brilliant parrot, who lived more than 50 years, so Parrot-Dise was a dream for her. (We found it in a Cruise Critic review posted in the Hawaii Port thread). When I told Dino, the proprietor, that my wife had traveled 5000 miles to see his birds, he went to work and soon we had pictures of her with 2, 4, and finally 6 birds, the last one with two patiently lying on their backs in her hands! Between Duke's and Parrot-Dise, we had a great day on Waikiki. The ship planned a bar-b-que for the aft pool area and the Lido as we weren't scheduled to leave Oahu until 11 PM. Unfortunately, the wind and sporadic rain were unplanned visitors, but the food was good anyway and the staff did their best given the conditions. KAUAI Kauai was the next stop and we had reservations at Blue Hawaiian Helicopters for an aerial tour. It turns out that their office where we would check-in could be seen from the ship and was a less than 10 minute walk. The helicopter ride was spectacular and even though I was not at a window seat, the views from the newer Eco-Star copter were great. You just needed to be aware of reflections on the window when taking photos. We had lunch after the flight at The Feral Pig, a nice, informal restaurant located in the same mini-mall as Blue Hawaiian. MAUI The last stop was Maui, where we had signed up for an 8 hr tour to the Haleakala Crater and 'Iao Needle State Park. Unfortunately, the crater was overcast (at 10,000 ft) and filled with clouds. It was, however, an interesting bus trip around Maui and the 'Iao Needle was a compelling spot. The only minor drawback, besides the clouds, was our very genial guide/driver who ran out of information at about the 5 ½ hr mark and resorted to singing us Hawaiian songs. Great if you like Hawaiian music. Maui was our only tendering port which was one of the reasons we chose to take a ship's excursion--priority disembarking. I can say it was uneventful although the re-tendering process was annoying: "Sir, may I look under your hat?" They also checked ID's at both ends of the pier raising the question of how did I get to the end of the pier if I didn't have an ID? Did I swim? If you have kept up with this long review, you know we had a great time and HAL was a big part of it. We have been on Regent and Oceania five times and were worried as to how we'd like a much bigger ship. Well, we liked it so much that we signed up onboard for a similar trip next March on the smaller Zaandam. By the way, if you're thinking about a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, you can't do better for research than the Hawaii (Maui, Kauai, Oahu) Revealed series by Wizard Publications available at Amazon. Much of what we saw and enjoyed in the islands came from these books. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Let me start by saying we are the type of people who believe that any vacation is what you make it and therefore, can have a good time pretty much anywhere. And we did on this trip. It was a wonderful 9-day vacation although there were ... Read More
Let me start by saying we are the type of people who believe that any vacation is what you make it and therefore, can have a good time pretty much anywhere. And we did on this trip. It was a wonderful 9-day vacation although there were definitely some ups and downs. We've cruised on Disney, Carnival and NCL all 7-day's or longer. When we chose this cruise we did so knowing that we were getting "what we paid for." Carnival is inexpensive in comparison but is a good value for our family of four. Embarkation in San Diego was strange. We arrived at 11:00 a.m. and were on the ship by 12:30. There was some waiting but it was fine. The terminal is small and they use white tents set-up on an asphalt parking lot as additional waiting area. The baggage check was outside and a bit disorganized. Not really what one would expect from a home port that has been hosting cruises for any length of time. The buffet we had for lunch before sailing was terrible. We love a good meal and have eaten in some very nice, very good places but don't really consider ourselves "foodies." There weren't many choices and what was available tasted like leftovers from the previous cruise. Luckily it did get much better throughout the trip. Look carefully or you'll miss the prepared to order stations which are hidden behind the buffet lines. There just isn't space for them anywhere else. I'd equate the quality of food to what you would find at Home Town Buffet with maybe a more little flair. We did eat at the steakhouse one evening and really enjoyed that meal. In our opinion it was well worth the additional $30 per person. We chose your time dining as we don't like to be held to an early or a late seating. I'm not sure if that option was a good one. Of the 9 nights we went the dining room 3 times. As I mentioned we have two children and the service was painfully slow. Two of the dinners took roughly 90 minutes. Way too long with kids sitting at the table. The food was decent but wasn't worth the wait. The service elsewhere on the ship was very good. Everyone was friendly and efficient. The barista at the coffee shop in the buffet was awesome. The staff at Camp Carnival were incredible. Very welcoming and remembered our kids names when they saw them out and about on the ship. As always there were tons of activities for the kids. We enjoyed all the activities we chose to participate in (bingo, game shows, listening to karaoke, trivia). Went to Punchliners and had a good time listening to family friendly comedy. I cannot recall their names but the second comedian was much better than the first. The stage shows were boring!! Geared, in my opinion, to a much older generation. Definitely in need of some updating and some variety. All four of us loved the new waterworks park. Green Thunder is surprisingly fun! The ship boasts typical wild Carnival decor but we found it clean and in good repair. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We have been on the Spirit before. It has always been mediocre, but traveled where and when our lives permitted. The ship just returned from a two week drydock and it showed. The gym has been totally reconfigured and outfitted with state ... Read More
We have been on the Spirit before. It has always been mediocre, but traveled where and when our lives permitted. The ship just returned from a two week drydock and it showed. The gym has been totally reconfigured and outfitted with state of the art Life Fitness equipment. There is a new 21 and over pool and sun area that is just wonderful. Quiet (means no kids) and pretty at the back of the ship. These new improvements are wonderful and great additions to the ship. The rest of the ship is the same old mediocre Carnival product. The food is a disgrace. Folks in prison eat better quality and variety than Carnival offers. They don't even have enough good ingredients to make a good salad. Having been on other lines this is is normally a simple task, not on Carnival. Healthy choices are just plain bad. IF all you are looking for is fried food, burgers, chicken fingers and pizza you will be in heaven. There is a reason many guests exceed 300 pounds and keep cruising. If good healthy food is your goal, forget it on Carnival. The shows were ok, but nothing special. The Cruise Director "Stu" is from Australia and screams on the intercom all the time. The problem is that you can't understand most of what he says due to this thick accent. As a result, we just "tuned out" Stu. Carnival staff is totally indifferent to guests and guest requests. Carnival now assesses tips to guests. The employees essentially get the same tips whether they kill themselves or perform the bare minimum to keep their jobs. The bare minimum is the best effort you ever get. Any special request is usually followed by rolled eyes and a 50-50 chance it will actually happen. Kind of like socialized tipping. Everyone gets the same regardless of the output or effort. Because Carnival wants to sell drinks and each on commands a 15% automatic tip, drink service is amazing! Carnival is cheap and mediocre. Nothing bad, but certainly nothing above average at any level. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We are a couple in our mid to late 40s and have cruised several times before on various cruise lines. We own 100 CCL shares and once the cruise was paid in full, we faxed the required information to HAL and the $250 OBC for a plus 14 day ... Read More
We are a couple in our mid to late 40s and have cruised several times before on various cruise lines. We own 100 CCL shares and once the cruise was paid in full, we faxed the required information to HAL and the $250 OBC for a plus 14 day cruise was posted immediately to our account. Our Mexican Riviera and Hawaii B2B cruise on 11/05/2011 and 11/12/2011 cruise was wonderful. The start of the first leg of our B2B cruise was delayed by one day due to medical emergencies of passengers on the cruise prior to ours. HAL informed us and credited our account $150/pp, which was great for us as we toured and spent an extra day in San Diego. HAL also gave us a 25% rebate on our next HAL cruise which will amount to almost $700. We flew in to San Diego the day before our cruise was supposed to start. We stayed at the Embassy Suites which includes a manager's reception and breakfast. It is nicely located a few blocks away from the cruise pier and relatively close to all amenities. Post cruise we stayed at the Holiday Inn that is located just across the street from the pier. The embarkation process was very easy as the terminal in San Diego is relatively small. Our room #1836 was wonderful. An aft balcony room, always fresh fruit daily, soft robes, a LCD monitor with DVD. It was clean, adequate and somewhat quiet. The room stewards always greeted us with a smile and our rooms were always meticulously maintained. We found the service and dining onboard to be 5 stars. The dining room stewards and wine stewards were a highlight of the cruise. The menu was always tempting. We usually don't enjoy buffets, with the crowds, so we try to stay away from them as much as possible. With that being said, the food choices were excellent and the overall lay out of the buffet was good. On two occasions we dined in the Pinnacle with mixed feelings about the experience. With great service and menus in the MDR our first experience in the Pinnacle left us wondering why we bothered. The second experience was a Cellar Masters Dinner and it was wonderful. We booked the Thermal Suites and daily enjoyed the use of the steam sauna, dry sauna, ceramic hot beds and hydro pool. This was one of the reasons we booked on the Oosterdam. We were always in the gym daily. But found the facility small and overcrowded. We also enjoyed the full promenade deck to walk or jog. The few evening shows we attended were at par with what we had experienced in the past on other cruises. The evenings were mostly spent dancing at the various venues or socializing with our new cruise critic friends that we met at a well attended and organized meeting. The cruise director attended our CC meeting and made a point to talk to everyone. He offered his assistance should anyone have any special requests during the cruise. In Puerto Vallarta we used the ships excursion. The "Outdoor Adventure Tour" with zip lines, rappelling, donkey ride and speed boat was simply "Funtastic". The extra stop at the Tequila "factory" for taste testing was great. The stop in Cabo San Lucas was disappointing as we were stood up by the private tour we booked through "bestontravelnetwork dot com". We toured the town on our own and visited the beach, but weren't impressed. Had the pleasure of going on a private tour in Hilo with cruise critic friends and Ainatours dot com. We stopped by Rainbow Falls, Volcano National Park and a few other places of interest. The last stop was at OneKahaKaha Beach Park which was very close to the pier for some good snorkelling. We rented a black Ford Mustang convertible through Thrifty Blue Chip in Oahu then proceeded to explore the eastern side of the island and the north shore. In the evening we walked through downtown Honolulu discovering the historical sites. It was a wonderful day. The open door helicopter tour was fantastic that we had the pleasure to do with Jack Harter Helicopter Tours in Nawilwili, Kauai. It is a must do for sure. The rest of the day we played in the surf at the nearby beach. The ship excursion of Catamarans, sail and snorkel in Lahainia, Maui was not very impressive and expensive. The town is full of little shops and very touristy if you like that kind of thing. The quick stop in Ensenada was fun. We took the shuttle into town and bargained for souvenirs. Summary - We loved this cruise. The reason we booked this cruise was to relax and enjoy the many sea days. The extra amenities of the Thermal Suite made for a really wonderful vacation. The great service from the Maitre d', to the wait staff, room stewards, to all of the staff members, really made for a pleasant experience. On several occasions the cruise director personally wanted to know if there was anything that he might be able to do to make the cruise a wonderful experience, also there were comment cards in our room on several occasions. Our only complaints are with the bad behaviour and rudeness from some of the "entitled" guests. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
First and foremost I will start off as - no question - I had fun since went with my friends. That was my objective - spend time with close friends, sun, read, and eat lots of good food. I have been on the Mexican Rivera cruise on ... Read More
First and foremost I will start off as - no question - I had fun since went with my friends. That was my objective - spend time with close friends, sun, read, and eat lots of good food. I have been on the Mexican Rivera cruise on Carnival before. Due to hurricane we were diverted to Catalina (Come on! Catalina? Seriously? Who pays for a 7 day cruise to stop in Catalina?!) The weather may not be the cruise line's fault - but for the "Holland America brand" you would think they could have picked something else - like say - stay in Cabo for 2 days? We stopped in La Paz on the other day. La Paz is the cleanest city in Mexico I have ever seen. I will probably go back there for a week on my own someday. Cabo is excellent as always! My biggest complaint about cruising to Cabo - why does it always have to be the shortest port stay??? There were 6 of us all together in our group - all age ranges. I was VERY disapointed in this cruise and Holland America. This brand isn't even remotely luxury as was expected. The food is horrible. I've sailed Carnival 3 times and their food was so much better in selections and options. And I believe people's first complaint about Carnival is the food - so that's how bad it is on this ship. While we had a few bright spots (Maha in dining room was lovely, our room steward was excellent, and another waiter in the bar where we met every night made our nightly before dinner meet for drinks very nice) the rest of the service was lacking. Especially the lido deck. My first thought was no incentive for them to even clear plates and refill drinks. And how do you have a Taco special on the deck but out of tacos? Room service is very prompt and on top of it. But that's all I can say for that - zip selection - and zip taste. My best friend (her first cruise) and I splurged and got a balcony on the Rotterdam deck. While the balcony was beautiful - you cannot help leaving with that bad taste in your mouth of such good money wasted for nothing. We could have just flown to Cabo for the week much cheaper and guaranteed good food. On our way off we talked to two guys on our floor who we never met before who were complaining about what a waste of money this cruise is, now that makes us 6 plus two more. How many more? Oh and most of all - the shower is mostly warm, lukewarm and lots of intermitant cold water in between. Had to keep turning the shower off and let it run through the bath - I did not pay for 7 days of cold/lukewarm showers. Obviously the hot water doesn't reach that high up - or it's seriously out with everyone else showering for dinner. This ship looks and acts old. It seems like a cookie cutter ship. Nothing special about it. Important for non-smokers - not a lot of spots for smokers to go - and I certainly didn't appreciate having to have that smoke in my face all day long at the adult pool. No ventilation in the casino. You can't get away from it. On your balcony or on the deck. Sorry smokers - but all cruise ships need to adopt a smoke free environment. Clean air is first and foremost when sailing in the open waters! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We have been busy cruising in the last 12 months. We have sailed on RCCL, Celebrity, Princess, Carnival and now HAL. I have previously sailed on HAL, but it has been about 12 years. We booked this cruise for a cheap getaway (no airfare) ... Read More
We have been busy cruising in the last 12 months. We have sailed on RCCL, Celebrity, Princess, Carnival and now HAL. I have previously sailed on HAL, but it has been about 12 years. We booked this cruise for a cheap getaway (no airfare) and to unwind, relax, and not think about work for a week. While we did manage thoughts of Coronas, sun, and cerviche instead of computers and customers, HAL turned out to be a somewhat disappointing experience. What we loved... In general, just about everything we ate we enjoyed. Desserts were very good. We dined at Pinnacle Grill on 2 nights and had enjoyed it immensely. Dining room food was all very good. Loved the Make to order items in the Buffet during the day and the waffles and omelets were worth having every day. I did have a few issues with the overcooking of fish, but all in all a fine dining experience. We booked an SZ guarantee and were upgraded to SY (6102). The room was spacious, balcony large and a great deal for the price we paid. We spent a lot of time in our room due to how comfortable it was. The weather was perfect... which is odd for this itinerary. It was sunny and warm all but Day 7. Our days in Cabo and PV. With nothing at all planned we were able to just walk until we found something that interested us. What we liked... We liked the lack of announcements and the fact that the captain came on hourly on Friday to update the ship of potential tsunami. While many were aware of the safety, the entourage of calls I received on Saturday let me know that many did not. The DVD players in every room and huge variety of movies you can borrow. The Piano bar and Randall were entertaining. Plus there are 2 for 1 drinks in there at night. The price of alcohol was the least expensive we have seen on board a ship. You are able to bring on board your favorite wines for in room and dining room consumption. There was a large number of GLBT on this cruise and the crew was very friendly to us. What we did not like... The formal nights and the plethora of costumes. Men are forced to wear jackets, but let in passengers with jeans. The temperature in the dining room makes this whole evening very uncomfortable. If there are so many restrictions on what men can wear, why can women get away with short dresses, flip flops, etc. They need to either be all in or all out on the formal discussion. The long lines in the Lido buffet. As much as we enjoyed the make to order items, they certainly caused longer lines. In general, the whole area is poorly designed. It did not help that they were serving us food for 4 days due to the 48 hour rule in place on HAL and then a heightened number of GI issues after those 48 hours. While I appreciate HAL taking precautions, they really need to teach their staff a little lesson on cross contamination when they are wearing gloves and how they should changing them when making contact with another person. The better idea is to have someone stationed outside dining areas requiring people to use the sanitation OR people should be responsible enough to just wash their hands. The ship design and dEcor. The interiors are so dark and the lighting so poor throughout that I always felt so enclosed that I never wanted to be in the area. Also, with the sliding roof over the Lido pool taking up much of the deck above it, much of the open deck space is wasted. We did like the open aft pool area and its views. We also like the Crow's nest, though it was always very busy. The vegetarian options on the main menu were not labeled vegetarian. It is pretty standard to have a V or some sort of recognition for those that choose to be a vegetarian. What was appalling... Service in general was a huge disappointment. Our room steward did the bare necessities of daily cleaning. He acted more as someone who turns down beds and replaces towels. We ordered room service late one evening, were told that it would be an hour. It never came. In the Piano bar during "happy hour" Jimmi had ordered a drink and it was made with the wrong alcohol (whiskey instead of Captain Morgan). When he told the server about this he assured Jimmi that it was made with the right alcohol and walked away. It was obvious that the server had accidentally mixed up the drinks, but never took ownership of his mistake. The constant reminder to give high scores on the survey at the end of the cruise is annoying. Simple fact is that if you provide a level of service that is a 9, you will receive a 9. If you do not, you will not. Suggesting what score I should give you after giving me poor service will not change this fact. The general condition of the ship - The Oosterdam looked aged. There were a lot of ripped cushions, broken tiles, torn lounge chairs, etc. Having been on a Princess ship roughly the same age less than a year ago, you can really tell the difference. Not sure when the last dry dock was, but she could use it again. That HAL continued stopping at Mazatlan as long as they did. Our decision was made easy to stay on the ship as we watched the Federali helicopter circling and 25 hummer type armed and manned with 4-5 men lined up across the street from the port. It is a shame that there is so much violence here, it was just astonishing to me that HAL took their chances. I am happy that changes were made to upcoming cruises. I guess you can judge my final opinion of HAL on the fact that I did not buy a future cruise credit as I do on almost every cruise. While I would consider them for another cruise, we are much better suited on Celebrity, Princess or Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Embarkment was a mix, one person telling to go here another telling to go there I have a mobility issue and I don't think they could make up their mind. We waited with rest of people. Rest of embarkment went ok. We usually travel ... Read More
Embarkment was a mix, one person telling to go here another telling to go there I have a mobility issue and I don't think they could make up their mind. We waited with rest of people. Rest of embarkment went ok. We usually travel Celebrity, they offer you a drink and escort you to your room ,missed this on Holland. Room and cabin staff were excellent. Balcony was fab, best ever. Food was very good. But As you Wish Dining wasn't what we expected. The waiters seem to be rushed, went 4 nights, took 1 1/2 hours plus each time. Time between courses was long. When questioned they just shrugged it off. Lido buffet with an elderly couple was better choice. Breakfast room service was the best, always on time and hot (had to wait for the eggs to cool down one morning). I'm going to miss it Biggest complaint was with the hydrotherapy pool, $199.00 to use it, on Celebrity Free. Main swimming pool with 4 working hot tubs was made into kids pool. Adult pool(small)was at back of ship with 1 working tub. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
The cruise itself was a lot of fun, it was the passengers on the ship that were different from any other cruise we have been on. Our neighbors on the balcony beside us brought a 'boom box' and were playing it very loudly whenever ... Read More
The cruise itself was a lot of fun, it was the passengers on the ship that were different from any other cruise we have been on. Our neighbors on the balcony beside us brought a 'boom box' and were playing it very loudly whenever we were in port and when leaving the ports. So much for relaxing on our deck when we left the ports. The neighbors above us jumped up and down on the floor and on the outside deck almost constantly. Made for a very noisy cruise. There were lots of empty beer bottle, glasses and dishes left in the hallways and near the elevator doors. Several passengers wore sleeveless t-shirts, baseball caps and were overweight. Truthfully, one way to describe cruises to others is by the average age of the passengers. On this cruise I would describe it by the average weight of the passengers, which had to be around 300 lbs. The few times we ate at the buffets were a real challenge, as we had o stay out of the way of passengers that butted in line, and there were a lot of them. On his morning show, the cruise director actually said that to maximize your cruise dollars, go thru the buffet line and fill up your try as high as you can, go eat it and come back for more! The sail-away band, was only 2 musicians and taped drums and backup instruments. Not much fun to sit by the pool and listen to 1/2 a band. Not all was bad. We has exceptional service at dinner from Raphael and Michael. We sat by a large Hispanic family, about 25 in all, and they were very polite and friendly. Our room steward did a great job, our room was always cleaned and we rarely saw him - Joe Louis was his name. Also room service was right on time every day. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
This was a great cruise and we really enjoyed the Oosterdam. This was our 4th cruise with Holland America and it certainly won't be our last. We booked this cruise last May while we were on the Maasdam's repositioning cruise to ... Read More
This was a great cruise and we really enjoyed the Oosterdam. This was our 4th cruise with Holland America and it certainly won't be our last. We booked this cruise last May while we were on the Maasdam's repositioning cruise to Canada. We not only received a $100 room credit from Holland, but then moved our reservation, at Holland's suggestion, to Vacationstogo and received their $150 room credit. We treated ourselves to a superior veranda suite which was well worth the extra $100. The room was spacious with loads of storage, dual sinks, a jacuzzi tub as well as a shower. The balcony was also great with a large table. The oosterdam is beautiful and we thoroughly enjoyed the food on this cruise. It was the best we've experienced on HAL. The Pinnacle Grill was also wonderful, as always. Canaletto was ok, but the candy cotton they gave everyone at the end of the meal was somewhat strange, but tasty! The ports were typically full of shops with the usual "stuff" that could easily be passed over. In Puerto Vallarta I went on the Day with the Dolphin Trainer excursion which was wonderful and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to spend more time with the dolphins. The bonus was that we also spent time with the sea lions. The spa is great particularly if you take advantage of the "in port" specials. Otherwise I think it's over priced. I wish they wouldn't try to push their products quite so much. All in all, I would highly recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Just returned from the 9-night cruise on Dec 10 to the Mexican Riviera from San Diego on Carnival Spirit and, unlike another reviewer, I thought the entertainment was excellent. Seriously, this is a party ship. If you're worried about ... Read More
Just returned from the 9-night cruise on Dec 10 to the Mexican Riviera from San Diego on Carnival Spirit and, unlike another reviewer, I thought the entertainment was excellent. Seriously, this is a party ship. If you're worried about too much adult entertainment then sail Disney! Compared to a Celebrity cruise to Alaska last October, where the show music was canned and the performers suitably uninspired, the Spirit shows were creative, colorful, interesting, well-sung, well-danced, and the 8-piece band lead by a young lady, who plays the slide trombone with more energy than I have heard in a long time, was a delight to listen to. They performed not only in all three excellent shows, but also in the Cool Club lounge where they took the time to explain a little about the mechanics of performing together and passing the lead around during jazz improvs. The show singers even performed in the lounge. The final show, The Big Easy, featured the music of New Orleans and was the most creative show of the three. My favorite number was "The House of the Rising Sun" with four ragged wraiths in bat costumes following the singer around the stage. The food in the Empire Dining Room was better than other Carnival cruises I've been on. Nice presentations, good variety, and the steaks were tender and juicy. The dancing waiters shtick every night was something I looked forward to, although if you had told me about it beforehand I'd have said it sounds ridiculous. We only had breakfast in the dining room the first morning however; as the service was so spotty we decided to eat on the Lido deck every morning thereafter. The Spirit has a large spa with free access to an excellent steam room, sauna, and jacuzzi as well as resistance machines, weights, elliptical trainers, and treadmills for those who don't know that cruises are supposed to be a time out to relax. Unfortunately the spa services menu was just as over-priced as most high-end hotels in Vegas, $2/minute for a Swedish massage. Do your homework and reserve a massage in advance at a hotel in one of the ports of call for half the price or less. I talked to someone who even found a massage for two for $45 near Cabo Wabo in Cabo San Lucas. He also raved about the Kristal Hotel spa which is almost within sight of the pier in Puerto Vallarta. The ports of call on this cruise were Cabo (2 nights), La Paz, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. Personally I can do Cabo in one day, but there's enough water-based activities and cheap Margaritas ashore to make it worth two days if you're so inclined. La Paz is not ready for cruise-ship prime time yet, I'm sorry to say. Be the first one off the ship in the morning for the 30-minute bus ride into town, otherwise you're likely to spend an hour standing in line waiting for seats on the second wave of buses. For the ride back I suggest you spend $5/head for a taxi rather than queue up around the block at the bus station. That said I'm not sure I'd want to walk La Paz again anyway. You don't have to get too far off the Malecon for La Paz to get boring. Perhaps the Weavers shore excursion would have been a better bet. In any case Mazatlan was much more to my liking. You can walk to old Mazatlan (or take a short taxi ride) and spend the entire day enjoying the well preserved architecture and art. Even the not so well preserved buildings are a joy to look at. There are many interesting shops like Nidart and Casa Etnika that are a pleasant change from the usual gauntlet of cheap, tourist junk that litters the pier side shops. Don't miss the market emporium near the Cathedral to see an interesting stew of humanity. In Puerto Vallarta we went on the Tequila factories shore excursion. Well worth the money. We were bused inland, away from the WalMart and the hotels that Hollywood built, to the Hacienda Doña Engracia and Leyva distilleries where our excellent guide, Amigo Raul, tells us they make small batches the old fashioned way, 100% agave and double-distilled. What is the proper way to end a toast with Tequila? "Arriba, abajo, a centro, adentro. Salud," then gulp it down—don't swirl it in your mouth, this isn't wine—count to three, take a deep breath, let it out, and feel the tequila warm its way from your belly down to your toes. Mañana. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We gathered 25 of 29 extended family members from across the U.S. for four nights on Carnival Elation. We ranged from 81 to 4 years old. The oldest (my dad) was also confined to a wheelchair. On balance, I think we were pleasantly ... Read More
We gathered 25 of 29 extended family members from across the U.S. for four nights on Carnival Elation. We ranged from 81 to 4 years old. The oldest (my dad) was also confined to a wheelchair. On balance, I think we were pleasantly surprised with this cruise. PROS: * very pleasant staff (I really enjoyed my conversations with our waiter, for example, away from the dining room) * delicious food (I couldn't get enough of the Mongolian stir fry) clean, comfortable, and spacious ship (we put our family of four in a single room and it worked great) * lots to do on board (my daughters loved the line dancing, mini-golf, and Thriller dance training) * fantastic child care (a godsend for my cousin with his two small children) * a welcome running track (my wife and I ran most mornings at about 6:30 and the track was never too crowded) * some funny shows (the opening night's clean comedy act was a gut-buster)and * plenty of space to spend time with our extended family or to get off somewhere and read. Also, embarkation, debarkation, luggage delivery, and the tender boats to Catalina Island were fast and efficient. Also, the rap I'd previously heard was that Carnival tended to be geared for singles and younger people, and that I should expect 24-hour rowdiness by some of the passengers. I was pleasantly surprised. While the shallow sex humor and overall sexualization of so much of American culture certainly made its way into the large shows and comments by some of the activities directors on stage, both individually and as a group we had lots of choices to just enjoy family-oriented time together. CONS: I'm nitpicking to be even-handed, but here are three suggestions, and these probably apply to every cruise ship out there. (Having only two cruises under my belt, I don't have enough context necessarily.) * In the large song-and-dance shows, the cruise-line show developers and choreographers should give the performers a wider range of styles to work with. If every single song is loud and energetic, it's numbing, and the ironic result is that the audience is not energized at all. Also, if so many of the show themes revolve around sex, it's no longer sexy, it's just cheap. C'mon! Get a little more creative. * Mr. Sound Technician: lose your love affair with the bass guitar. It could be at one-third the volume you used and still be the dominant voice. Whoever picks the music tracks for the public areas. * Declare a moratorium on any Muzak on open air decks before, say, 9:00 a.m. The only people there at that hour are savoring the views and the peace and quiet. Ditto in the buffet dining room before 9:00 a.m. Who wants "Highway to Hell" playing at 7:15 a.m.? THE LAST TWO GENERAL COMMENTS: * Traveling with a disability: My dad (81) is confined to a motorized wheel-chair. While I wouldn't change our cruise choice to accommodate one person, the destinations on this cruise weren't very accessible for him in that chair. The tender boats to Catalina Island were great, but he wouldn't have been able to negotiate the stairway to reach them, and the chair would have been too heavy to transfer to the tender boats anyway. Second, in Ensenada, the taxis were kept somewhat away from the ship dock, so we would have needed a chair to transport him to them. But his chair wasn't an option, since it would have been nearly impossible to put in the back of taxi without a special wheelchair lift, and the ship's policy is not to let its own smaller and collapsible wheelchairs off the ship. So, if I had it to do over again, I might bring along a second more portable wheelchair just for him. * Arranging for some more structured extended family gatherings on board: We didn't think to do this beforehand, but I wish we would have set aside a single night in one of the reservable public rooms for our extended family to get together. In the absence of that, the only time we would dependably see everyone gathered was at our dining table (Carnival allowed us to put everyone at three tables together), but even then it was hard to carry on a full-group conversation. PORTS OF CALL: CATALINA ISLAND AND ENSENADA * Catalina Island: My wife and daughters and I just walked around. It was a beautiful day, and we loved walking on the jetty and looking at the birds swooping down to try to grab surfacing fish, but we don't have much feedback to offer on excursions. Some of our extended family members really enjoyed the 45-minute orienting bus tours for the village of Avalon ($20/person?), and other family members enjoyed the freedom of renting six-person golf carts to circle around on their own ($40-60/hour for a couple of hours?). * Ensenada: Waiting on the curb by the ship was Yoshido and his 15-passenger van, looking to serve as the driver for the day for any group wanting to hire him. He was great. After a few minutes of negotiation, 15 of my extended family jumped in for the trip to La Bufadora (the Blowhole) and back, with a subsequent stop in the shopping district in downtown Ensenada. Altogether this was about a four-hour trip, and we settled on a rate of $150, though with our tip we brought that to $180, which was his original offering price. Bear in mind that we waited until at least 10:30 a.m. to even leave the ship, so he might have demanded more earlier in the day. The Blowhole was interesting. So were the shops lining the last 300 yards from the parking lot to the Blowhole. And so were the shops back in town, especially for the 18-year-old in our group whose parents took her to Hoosong's, an apparently famous cantina downtown. She legally enjoyed her first piña colada there. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We traveled to San Diego for the 9 night Mexican Rivera cruise. I should have realized with the check in and pre-cruise customer service that this was going to be a very interesting cruise. Having traveled on Disney multiple times and also ... Read More
We traveled to San Diego for the 9 night Mexican Rivera cruise. I should have realized with the check in and pre-cruise customer service that this was going to be a very interesting cruise. Having traveled on Disney multiple times and also Princess I was expecting great service from Royal Caribbean. The embarkation was delayed and everyone was waiting in the port to board and it was cattle call boarding. Something I haven't experienced for a while. Once on board we saw the cruise ship and it was in good condition clean and overall pretty nice. I guess the main place to start is what we liked about the cruise. Our favorite port was Manzanillo and Ixpacta. Maztatlan was great as well. The ports were nice. The magic show was great and so was the tango beunes aires. What was comicle to us was the final show and most of the entertainment. The shows were very interesting and not a full production or show i would suggest seeing. The nightlife on this ship was very interesting and my wife called it a boose cruise. If you don't drink as we don't it would seem that most of the entertainment is engaged with boose. What was the absolute worst. On the first night of the cruise we asked to see if we could change rooms or pay for an upgrade to another room as where we were located had abnormal amounts of movement. I thought it interesting before i could finish A No was basicly yelled to me. My wife is somewhat sensative to motion and on Disney we had no problem at all and where in a similar space, midship. This was a interesting way to start of the cruise. The food on this cruise was actually disgusting. I had better food in a college dorm. The windjammer had the same food every day. They did not have food rotation at all. When dining the basic serve cold food cold and serve hot foot hot rule wasn't followed at all. Things were always luke warm. The service was just ok and I would say that the cascades dining room didn't have quality food. the chicken was mostly pressed chicken and reminded me of McDonalds food. If you like fast food you will like the food but if fine dining and quality food is what your expecting travel on another cruise line. I did cancel our cruise in December 2010 on the Oasis ship simply to the food quality and customer service. The price for the cruise was the common value but I didn't quite realize what that meant for the cruise. I would be leary to book on RCC again as Disney and Princess obtain most of our future bookings. Sorry but i would give the cruise negative but thats not possible. The only redeeming quality to the cruise was a couple of shows, the magic show, the first commedian and the tango beunes aires show and the ports. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010

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