35 San Diego First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

NEGATIVES (1) Embarkation: Almost a three hour wait in line with a 1000+ other passengers crammed tightly together waiting to register was the worst possible scenario for beginning a vacation. (2) Disembarkation: The only elevators ... Read More
NEGATIVES (1) Embarkation: Almost a three hour wait in line with a 1000+ other passengers crammed tightly together waiting to register was the worst possible scenario for beginning a vacation. (2) Disembarkation: The only elevators going to the 3rd deck for disembarkation were locked off from all but decks 3 and 5. Eventually I and others took different elevators to deck 5 and walked down stairs to deck 3 carrying all luggage. Instead of leaving the ship with fond memories fresh in our mind, we left with a sour taste because of their rampant disorganization. POSITIVES (if the embarkation and disembarkation had not been so disorganized, my overall rating would have definitely been a 4.5 out of 5 stars) (1) Staff: Service-staff members were superbly accommodating and friendly throughout the ship; the best I have ever experienced. (2) Ship: The ship was spotless and well maintained. (3) State Rooms: Our cabin was comfortable, clean, and well-maintained. Our cabin steward was the best ever. The beds were excellent. I had some of my best nights of sleep in many years. Don"t forget State Room 10307 when booking a cruise on the Sun. (4) Food: The main dining rooms served a varied selection of well prepared appetizers and entrees that should have satisfied every passenger's taste. The buffets had an excellent selection of dishes with varied theme nights. We looked forward to the excellent soups, different with each meal. The bakery provided scrumptious breads and rolls as well. Some of the food tended to be lukewarm when served upon occasion, especially at breakfast. (5) Entertainment: The entertainment was varied and enjoyable in the lounges and the Stardust Theater. We attended the Stardust every evening and were not disappointed with a single performer. The Norwegian Sun's band, singers and dancers were awesome. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
You get what you pay for. All they want to do is sell you crap. Everything is a la carte. A glass of wine is almost ten dollars unless you buy the drink package. The average age of people on board was almost 60. So if you're young and ... Read More
You get what you pay for. All they want to do is sell you crap. Everything is a la carte. A glass of wine is almost ten dollars unless you buy the drink package. The average age of people on board was almost 60. So if you're young and want to go with people your own age dont take this one. If you want to be charged 4 dollars for a soda or water take this cruise. Their casino is extremely one sided. There is nothing less than 6 deck continous shuffle for blackjack and their slot machines have a 15 percent payout. I dont think they have gaming standards because they are in international waters. Half of the ships television stations are their own version of QVC. All they do is try to get you to spend money on there. They have art galleries and duty free shops. They try and sell gem stones no one has ever heard of like its as valuable as diamonds or gold. They sell shore excursions for twice the going rate and really your just paying to get off the ship before everyone at the port. About 95% of the crew speak little to no english because they work them like slaves and pay them next to nothing. If you break it down they make about 3 dollars a hour if they are lucky. So if you want to get ripped off, pay for water, watch slave labor, buy non valuable things for the price of gold then this trip is for you. They charged an elderly man 5$ for 10 asprin. They werent even vicodin or something good. Oh and dont drink the water bottle thats sitting in your room that looks free but costs 5$. Yes 5$ for a water bottle. It really makes you think what kind of people own this company. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This was a spectacular cruise. The line at embarkation was long but went fast and we boarded very easily. This was our first time on a cruise ship so we picked a short cruise but wish we had done a longer one now. The balcony cabin was a ... Read More
This was a spectacular cruise. The line at embarkation was long but went fast and we boarded very easily. This was our first time on a cruise ship so we picked a short cruise but wish we had done a longer one now. The balcony cabin was a decent size for two adults and two teenagers. The split bathrooms with a toilet in one and a shower in the other is a great idea. Dining was good and we lucked out and had a rotation of Parrot Cay, Tritons and then Animator's Palate so it seemed the dining only got better each night. The buffet lunch was good as well and there was no problem finding a seat. The service at meals and everywhere else on the ship was excellent. I had the opportunity to see a crew member handle a lost child that sought out his help and he was wonderful. The pools were crowded but I was able to get a lounge chair at the adult pool. The pool water was abnormally warm. I don't like cold water so that isn't a problem but it was hardly even refreshing and was not really even noticeable cooler than the hot tub water. Our experience was amazing and we are now sold on cruising, although I fear we may have set the standard high taking Disney on our first cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
So, for starters: most people would assume that Disney is a destination for families with children. Well, since childhood, both my wife and I have been obsessed with all things Disney. Our cruise was last week, and it was just the two of ... Read More
So, for starters: most people would assume that Disney is a destination for families with children. Well, since childhood, both my wife and I have been obsessed with all things Disney. Our cruise was last week, and it was just the two of us. With the small exception of brief sea-sickness, this cruise was everything a young married couple ever could have dreamed of and more. To begin with: we had an issue when we first signed up for the cruise with some of the information we initially placed being written in wrong. The airline was going to charge us an additional $500 dollars to change my wife's name from "Jessi" to "Jessica" in their records. One quick phone call to Disney Cruise Line's customer service fixed that within 24 hours. It was quick, painless, and exceeded every expectation we had. We got off the plane to two adorable older women holding a Disney Cruise Line sign, and escorting us and our bags quickly and easily from the airport to the cruise ship in port. From the moment we met them, to the moment of our return trip, we never once had anything short of the most exceptional service from every single member of the Disney Cruise Line Staff. Each day of our cruise, we had a brilliantly performed Broadway style play for us and all of the other guests. We were able to see "Toy Story the Musical," "Disney Dreams," and our personal favorite, "The Golden Mickeys." All three were full of great actors and actresses, brilliant changing sets and lighting, exceptional choreography, and the trademark magic that comes with everything Disney (*this statement excludes any "Disney Channel Original" series or show). The plays were fun for children of all ages, as they dealt with childhood hopes and wishes, but tugged at the heartstrings of every adult with any piece of neverland left in their hearts. My personal favorite moment was when, amidst the slight rocking of the boat, Tarzan came swinging gracefully in to center stage to do one of the most brilliant acrobatic shows I have ever seen, despite the aforementioned rocking. Next, our server; Reagan. I don't know how many cruise ships do this, but our server was assigned to us the entirety of the cruise. He was well mannered, efficient, and unafraid to laugh and smile with our entire table. He made brilliant recommendations on the food, and moved faster and more effectively than Captain Hook fleeing from the ticking Crocodile. The food was absolutely divine. I sampled everything I could get my hands on, and over the course of my three night cruise gained TWELVE pounds (this is not an exaggeration). The steaks and other meats were cooked exactly to my specifications. The vegetables were never mushy, and never raw - instead cooked to perfection, and seasoned with pixie dust. I have never eaten finer food in my life. Animator's Palate and Triton's were both such wonderful restaurants that I will undoubtedly dream of those morsels on my death bed. We also had the extreme pleasure of eating at the Palo restaurant for brunch one morning. Our server, Hristo, was kind and entertaining, and recommended some of the best food on board. The meal selection was grand, but nothing compared to the desserts. Finally, we also very much enjoyed our kayak tour of the Encenada Mexico Coast. We loved seeing "La Bufadora", and the rare treat of spotting a couple of sea lions. I highly recommend this particular port excursion for anyone sailing to Encenada and back. Overall, I expected that I would enjoy the Disney Cruise experience, but that I would anticipate it being more of a 'children only' experience. I was wrong. My wife and I would be back tomorrow if we could afford it. Sometime, though, we will be back. Highly recommend it for anyone, but for young disney fanatic couples especially. Thank you Disney for exceeding expectations yet again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I recently returned from the Pacific Coastal cruise I went on with two family members, with only one who had been on a cruise before (he sailed on Celebrity). We were very disappointed with Royal Caribbean's customer service on this ... Read More
I recently returned from the Pacific Coastal cruise I went on with two family members, with only one who had been on a cruise before (he sailed on Celebrity). We were very disappointed with Royal Caribbean's customer service on this ship and off the ship. First of all, we waited in the check in line in San Diego for two and a half hours. It was a cattle line, and there were not any chairs to sit in once you were in line. I am in my twenties and it was hard enough to stand that long, but I can't even imagine how others must have felt. There were people with walkers who had to stand the whole time! The workers directing everyone to the lines were confused and downright rude. By the time we actually got on the ship it had been three hours. HORRIBLE. Only 1 out of 3 suitcases got to the room early. The other 2 were late. Positives: We loved the ports. San Diego, Catalina Island, and San Francisco were incredible. Canada was ok. We had so much fun. We did not buy any shore excursions, as we preferred to tour around and do our own thing. We found a good deal online for the hop on hop off bus tour in San Francisco. Warning: It can get extremely cold if you sit on the upper outside deck of the bus. We went over Golden Gate Bridge at 40 mph and it was 20 degrees cooler up there. I can't remember the last time I was that cold. There wasn't room on the bottom inside deck of the bus where everyone was warm, so plan accordingly. We enjoyed the food, especially in the dining room. A few desserts were questionable, but we had a great time. We requested a table to ourselves, but were put at a table with 12 people. However, we were lucky and loved the people at our table. The Windjammer buffet was good. The breakfasts were just ok, but lunch was great. The staff in the Windjammer was extremely friendly and entertaining! The Schooner bar was nice too- loved the staff there as well. I loved walking around- the interior is beautiful and clean. The glass theme is awesome. Disembarkation was very simple. We did not have any customs to go through in Canada, which was surprising. However, there needed to be better signs directing people how to get out of the terminal in Vancouver. Good thing we didn't have an early flight, or we would have been cutting it close. Negatives: Everyone was told to go to deck 2 to get off the ship in San Francisco. Well that changed two times, but they did not make an announcement. Everyone was crowded together outside of the lobby area on deck 4, and they were not letting people use the stairs to get to deck 5, which ended up being the departure floor. We waited about an hour... Insanity. We were also late getting into San Francisco (with no explanation), and we had a family member waiting for us at the port. She waited about two hours from the time she saw the ship arriving. Communication was the main problem overall, as you can tell. The ship had a mechanical issue and we were supposed to leave San Fran at 5 pm, but left at 2 am. The announcements were vague and we basically had a second sea day. We barely had any time in Victoria BC, as we got off the ship around 6:30 pm. We should have received ship credit or SOMETHING. We were there 4 hours instead of 7 hours and there was not much to do that late. The activities on the ship were boring. Not everyone likes trivia or bingo (which costs $). There should have been more activities on our sea days. The entertainment needed some work. We saw one production with the singers and dancers and it was cheesy and did not make sense. The best show was Bowzer from Sha na na. Very entertaining. It was nice when they showed a movie - American Sniper - in the Coral Theater on a sea day. They should have done that more. We tried seeing American Sniper the previous day in the movie theater, but since the movie theater was so small, it was full about 40 min prior to the movie starting. Overall, it was a nice cruise ship, the ports were fun, and the staff in the bars and restaurants were incredible, but the communication issues need work. The customers pay a lot for these cruises, and should be treated better. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Our cabin or state room as they call it, was a pleasant surprise-very clean, large and modern. We had a balcony which was appreciated very much as we were always able to see the ocean and never felt claustrophobic. Our cabin steward, ... Read More
Our cabin or state room as they call it, was a pleasant surprise-very clean, large and modern. We had a balcony which was appreciated very much as we were always able to see the ocean and never felt claustrophobic. Our cabin steward, Imade, was particularly helpful. The food in the Ocean View Café was excellent with lots of variety. The sushi and sashimi at night were particularly popular with my wife and I. My only criticism was the black tea which was too weak for our taste. The coffee on the other hand was way too strong. Eating in the Trellis restaurant made a pleasant change from the café and it was nice to be waited on without any extra charge. I would not waste my money in the specialty restaurants. The entertainment was also varied and of a high standard with singing, dancing, comedy acts and a magician. The lectures given by the Historian, Gary and the Naturalist, Milos, were informative and entertaining. The activities run by Rachel and her offsiders, Aida and Von were a lot of fun and well organised. We particularly enjoyed the Trivia various forms of which were run 2 or 3 times a day while at sea. You were never bored. Shore excursions were OK but rather expensive for what you got. Quite a few passengers did their own thing and organised taxis and guides for less than half the price. The gym was modern and well equipped and the pools were a relaxing way to spend an hour or two. I must admit several passengers got badly sunburnt on the deck and I think the pool staff should carry UV block-out dispensers and warn people of the dangers they face in the tropical sun. Overall a wonderful cruise the highlight being the Panama Canal itself and experiencing the cultures of Central America. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
As usually independent travelers who develop our own itinerary, make lodging reservations, locate by choice and chance our meal experience, the cruise was a bit heart pounding in the planning of the unknown. All in all we traveled a few ... Read More
As usually independent travelers who develop our own itinerary, make lodging reservations, locate by choice and chance our meal experience, the cruise was a bit heart pounding in the planning of the unknown. All in all we traveled a few miles short of 5,000 miles did not buy gas, have wear and tear on the car/rent a car, had excellent meals at least 3 times a day, a nice room, live entertainment every night, and educational classes with that. Met many folks at open dining and during activities. Unpack once for 2 weeks. Felt our items were safe in our room. Food was excellent. Too excellent. Lido buffet had so much variety. Fresh squeezed orange juice every morning. Eggs Benedict my style (no bread) or Scottish Eggs Benedict-that is smoked salmon no Canadian bacon or just cereal and milk. Portions were appropriate for the 3 course meals in the Vista Lounge. Lobster tail as one of the entrees on two of the formal nights. Liked the Pinnacle Grill best for lunch. The entertainment was very good. A variety of entertainers that was appropriate for the age group. Humor at the shows and for the game nights was appropriate for a mature audience. Was worried about paying for days at sea that we would have to entertain ourselves with reading a book or baking in the sun working on a melanoma episode. Had a variety of classes with culinary items, at least 22 digital (microsoft) topics, discussion/lecture of history of the areas we were visiting, information about the ships functioning, tours of various areas on the ship. Some days we split up because there was so much to do. The ship was very clean and well maintained. The crew always had a smile and a Hello from the Captain to the newbies serving the candied ginger after dinner. Cons: Wine is a bit pricey per bottle but they will hold it so you can have it the next day(s). We brought two of our own so we had plenty. Wine selection was +/-. Wine stewards for the most part were excellent with recommendations. Spa services were more than what we pay at home.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Well I booked a Nowhere cruise from the port of San Diego. 2 hours in the sun waiting to get on board. There was a guy (Mid 20's)missing his left leg and on crutches with a USMC tattoo on his arm, he waited the same amount of time ... Read More
Well I booked a Nowhere cruise from the port of San Diego. 2 hours in the sun waiting to get on board. There was a guy (Mid 20's)missing his left leg and on crutches with a USMC tattoo on his arm, he waited the same amount of time standing right in front of me. Shame on Disney part 1. The ship is nice. Service was average. dinner both nights was served at cool temperature and took 1 hour from ordering it. Asked for another got one 2 degrees warmer I decided not to eat spit so I ate it. Kids club is a joke. Early 20 year olds sitting around shooting the breeze attempting not to interact with the kids. My 6 y/o got punched by a 10 y/o. I was told about it after my son told me about it. My daughter (10 y/o) was told to watch TV no activities at kids club. The pool was dirty my 2 boys got Strep throat. About 100 kids in the mickey pool total nightmare. The ship rocked like a cork. I was in the NAVY for 12 years was on a frigate that rode better. The whole cruise was at 7 knots so slow we where rocking around the whole time. Image trying to ride a bike super slow. I played foos ball on the top deck with a ping pong ball as a foos ball. The housekeeper only left a towel shaped as a swan on the last night with tips envelopes under it. Tacky at best. I was so disappointed in the cruise 2 days 2 nights for 2 adults and 3 kids $2355. What a joke. If you like to stand in lines and like to pay premium prices skip Disneyland and go on one of their cruise ships. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Myself and my partner are both 30 and have never been on a cruise before. We were assigned stateroom 2155 on deck 2 and enjoyed upgraded stateroom amenities which included champagne on arrival, fruit delivered each day if requested, ... Read More
Myself and my partner are both 30 and have never been on a cruise before. We were assigned stateroom 2155 on deck 2 and enjoyed upgraded stateroom amenities which included champagne on arrival, fruit delivered each day if requested, dressing gowns, binoculars, a tote bag and a golf umbrella to be used onboard. Day 1: We got on at San Diego B Street Cruise Terminal. As soon as we got out of the taxi, a handler came and took our luggage then we headed straight for the check in. We got there around 12:30 and supposedly had missed the peak time. There was a large queue but as expected because the ship accommodates up to 2000 guests. It took us about an hour to get onto the ship. Once on we had no idea what to do and the stateroom was not ready until around 2:30. Lunch was available in the Ocean Cafe which is the buffet on deck 10. We were free to explore the ship. Some people brought there swimwear in their day bags so used the pool/hot tubs while the rest of us looked on enviously! At 16:15 we had an emergency muster to attend so that everyone knew where they should be in case of an emergency. We had lunch and dinner in the buffet and the food was lovely. The service excellent and staff very friendly. We decided we didn't want to head to the main dining room that night as we heard it can be a bit chaotic on the first night due to people wanting to change their allocated time. We made the mistake of eating the first thing we saw at lunchtime so for dinner we walked all around the buffet island and decided on the stirfry which is made from the ingredients you choose for yourself. Day 2 - at sea Day 3: Arrived at Cabon San Lucas, Mexico. We decided not to book an excursion directly through the cruise ship to save a bit of money. I'm glad we did this because there were so many things on offer when we got off. We wanted to go snorkelling and spoke to a guy selling different tours. It cost us $30, I didn't haggle the price because the equivalent trip with Celebrity was $50. We boarded a little glass bottom boat (the glass bottom wasn't anything special) and sailed past lovers beach, divorce beach and shown pelican beach where we would be snorkelling. We also got to see some sea lions lazing on the surrounding rocks. We were dropped off at lovers beach and had to walk across to pelican beach. This took about 10 minutes across the rocks so bring appropriate footwear if you have delicate feet! Beware that locals will help you get off the boat and expect a tip. There was snorkelling gear and life jackets for hire on this beach. I had to hire a life jacket because the water is very choppy and I am not a very confident swimmer. The life jacket cost me $5. We had arranged for our driver to meet us 2 hours later. He arrived to pick us up no problem! I was a little nervous as I had read that some people were left stranded on this beach by their driver. If this does happen to you then you can get a lift back to shore with another boat, it may cost you but at least you'll get back. There are shops where you can buy drinks so it may be worth buying a few and bringing them back on board. I.e. a can of coke cost $1 in the shop compared to $2.50+gratuity on board. Day 4: Arrived at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We didn't book an excursion (they offer a trip to swim with dolphins) as we just wanted to explore the area. We were quite surprised at what awaited us when we arrived. There is nothing tourist orientated available when you get there (apart from shopping). There is a shopping mall across the road as well as a Walmart and a "Makro" type store. Everything is in Mexican Pesos, they accept US$ but will give change in Pesos. If you don't enjoy shopping I would recommend arranging an excursion for this stop. Day 5 & 6- at sea. We received a message regarding some passengers becoming ill (norovirus etc ). The ship took immediate preventative action. At the buffet restaurant we were no longer to serve ourselves food/beverages. Cutlery was given out by staff. Anything that could transfer germs was taken away, including the daily newspapers and crosswords/sudoku puzzles on deck 3. I noticed a change in other passengers' attitudes when having to wait a little longer for food etc. But there really is no point in complaining, ultimately the ship is trying to prevent an outbreak so just go with it. Day 7: Arrive at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. After our experience at the last port we decided to book a few Celebrity excursions. We know that we are paying extra but it gives peace of mind knowing that we have guaranteed transport there and back. The ship will wait for us if we on a tour booked through them that is running late. So we opted for the self guided tour to Antigua costing $43.75pp. There was a short walk from the ship to our buses, walking through a market place and refreshment stall selling coconuts for $2 (they sold out by the time I wanted one - sad times!). They also have tour kiosks/operators so if you don't book through Celebrity you can easily get on a tour here. We heard that the volcano tour was worth the trip. We had a 90 minute drive to Antigua and given about 5 hours to wander around. We were given a map with points of interest. The drop off/meeting point is at the jade museum - whose staff are very willing to give advice about where to go. They recommended a cafe to stop at for lunch which was right next door to the chocolate museum. The local currency is the quetzal (7.5 quetzals = $1) and it's best to check places accept USD before stopping to eat. What I loved most about Antigua was the bartering with craft makers. There are so many items for sale and so many sellers - you will be spoilt for choice. If you don't buy anything in town you will have a second chance to buy at the port. Day 8 - at sea. On board outbreak prevention still on going. Day 9: Arrived at Puntarenas, Costa Rica. We decided to go on the Poas Volcano tour ($104pp) and unfortunately the weather was not on our side. There was zero visibility of the volcano when we got up to the viewing deck. I guess this is the risk you take.The rest of the tour included a lunch stop on the way back down (food was delicious!!!) and a stop at the oxcart factory - a really pretty family run establishment with lots of different flowers and people painting. They have a gift shop which is more expensive that a market trader but I didn't mind paying a bit extra to support them. We arrived back at the ship with an hour to spare and wandered down to the beach front to browse through the markets. You can try haggling but they're not as flexible as they were in Guatemala! Day 10 - at sea. Day 11 - cruising through Panama Canal. What an EPIC day this was. There were a lot of people at the front of the ship as the Captain had opened up the heliport. Personally I didn't like the view from there. My favourite spot was on deck 4 (right hand side) as you get up close to the action and depending on which lock you were going through the wall would be within touching distance of you. There were good views from the back of the ship on deck 10. We spent most of the day walking around enjoying different perspectives. I particularly enjoyed watching the ship parallel to us because you could really see how the locks were operating. When leaving the canal keep an out for the new gates that will be fitted on the expansion project - they are immense! We had a guest speaker Mike McPheters on board who is a specialist on the Panama Canal and he gave 3 talks prior to this day. I felt that I had a good understanding of the history of the canal which added to the day. Mike is a really great guy too, he is so interesting I could listen to him talk til the cows come home! Day 12: Arrived at Colon, Panama. There is a shopping area a short distance away from the port including a supermarket where we picked up cans of soft drinks for $0.60! We saw A LOT of crew stocking up here. We decided to book onto the Monkey Watch excursion ($89.75). It was around an hour bus ride to back to Gatun Lake. We were taken aboard a 20-seater boat that took us down the lake in search of wildlife. I thought to myself if we didn't see any monkeys I wouldn't mind because the boat ride is good fun in itself and very cooling in the humidity! We saw all sorts of birds including toucans. Caught a glimpse of a crocodile. Came across about 30 baby crocodiles who where so well camouflaged I couldn't believe the driver had spotted them! The best bit was seeing a couple of white faced capuchin monkeys and a family of howler monkeys - these were the only ones we saw but it made my day! We also turtles, lizards and rodents! Our guide did say that it was a good day to spot wildlife because it was cloudy and had been raining heavily so the monkeys in particular wouldn't be hiding from the sunshine. I would consider going on a Celebrity excursion in Colon because I didn't see much being offered on the docks however this may be because our excursion was at a later time than normal. Day 13: Arrived at Cartagena, Colombia. We decided against the hop on hop off tour purely because of the inflated price ($39.75pp). I've been on these red sight seeing buses in many cities and they usually range between £15-£20. There is a short walk to the port exit (free shuttle also offered). Be warned that the port is an industrial one so not a lot to look at! When you get to the exit you go through some sort of wild bird sanctuary. There were geese, flamingoes, parrots, peacocks and a um...rabbit! I had mixed feelings about seeing some of the birds - such beautiful creatures who were allowed to roam around but had obviously had their wings clipped. So you don't see them as nature intended but at least they are being looked after (I hope!). When we got to the exit there were loads of tour operators/taxis vying for your attention. We decided to go with a chap named Francisco Ferero (I think!) or Pancho to his pals. It cost us $20pp and he basically took us on the same route as the hop on hop off tour would go. 1st stop was a photo stop at the fortress. We didn't have time to go in there and you have to pay. Next we went up to la popa monastery. We didn't have much time there and had to pay $5. The views are worth it - they also have washrooms. Outside there are a few market traders where you can pick up souvenirs. Next we were taken to an emerald museum which we had little interest in so ducked out and walked to the beach which was a couple of minutes away. We only wanted to go there to take a picture but kept being bothered by people selling sun cream or a lounger. I'd lost all hope of having a coconut drink but low and behold they were sold at the beach but for $5!!!! I'd like to say it was worth it but $2 would have been better :) we continued our tour with a short stop at some souvenir shops and a stroll through the old city. One thing I wasn't so keen on here was the aggressive sales tactics by many. They shove merchandise in your face, put hats on your head, grab your arms, come up to the bus windows when you're trying to admire the view...basically invade your personal space. Pancho got us back to the boat with an hour to spare so all in all I would say worth the $20. I would say be patient if doing something this. When we agreed to go with him we had to wait about 30mins for him to fill his bus. Day 14 & 15 - at sea. Arrive at Miami port at 07:00. A bit hectic when you get off and it was a bit of a shock because you are treated so well on board but customs don't really care that you're in Miami :D we were selected to have our bags searched which was a little inconvenient but they appreciated out patience implying that they usually get a hard time off people. We booked the airport transfer to MIA costing $16.80pp purely because we had 2 large cases each and it wouldn't have fit into a standard taxi. However when we got out there were bigger taxis available. I would recommend getting a taxi - it isn't a long way and it would be quicker. We had to wait around 30 minutes for the bus to make its way back from MIA. General comments: - restrictions due to outbreak prevention lasted for the rest of our trip. We had heard that the ship had to have a 48 hour period with no one reporting an illness before things could go back to normal. - Staterooms include a hairdryer, towels & beach towels, plenty of storage, cotton balls & cotton buds and tissues. -You chosen credit card will be linked to a "sea pass" account which is used for any transaction on board. You can also settle your account in cash. -You can change currency on board at guest relations. -There are lots of activities on board to keep you occupied whilst at sea. -The library is open 24/7 but collection is a bit dire. It was closed as soon as outbreak prevention was issued. -Internet is available and they charge per minute or you can buy a package. Be advised that it is a very slow connection and sometimes is not available. -There is also a casino and spa (at an additional cost). -The gym is free to use and is well equipped. It is very busy in the mornings and very quiet in the evenings. They also provide gym towels and water. -The pools are much smaller than I expected. -There is a laundry service available but is charged per item! -The stateroom attendants will come in the morning and then in the evening. -You do not have to dress up if you do not want to. This really isn't our type of thing so on formal nights we ate in the buffet restaurant on deck 10 where the dress code is always casual! -Most passengers were aged around 60/70. There was a spattering of younger couples and about 30 children in total. -We didn't visit the Main Dining Room once because we really enjoyed eating at the buffet. Most evenings were spent at the sushi/stir fry part. The cook Chandra from Indonesia was a highlight of the trip. He could be found on one of the omelette stations in the morning and the stir fry in the evening. He was never without a smile and would often break out into a song. Such an infectious character! -Food really is a personal preference - aside from the MDR there were also 2 other restaurants that you could pay extra for. My main point regarding food is that the buffet is not as bad as some reviewers have made out. -We had a wonderful time and have so many amazing memories of the places we visited. We would definitely consider another cruise with Celebrity in the future! Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
My friends and I just got back today from our first cruise to Hawaii. I must say that the service was excellent, and our stateroom attendants were awesome. Our waiters were terrific, and the meals were delicious every night at The Grand ... Read More
My friends and I just got back today from our first cruise to Hawaii. I must say that the service was excellent, and our stateroom attendants were awesome. Our waiters were terrific, and the meals were delicious every night at The Grand Restaurant. I did not do the activities, because they were not for me, but I heard from many people on board say they were enjoying themselves. I enjoyed most of the shows, but some were not my taste. The cruise director was seen all over the ship, and he was always willing to answer any questions that you had about the entertainment. The ship's officers were also seen on a daily basis around the ship. Our stateroom (8121) was small, but the mirrors in the room gave off the illusion that the room was bigger. One night, I found myself suffering from motion sickness, and I had to get out of my room. I went to deck 11,where the pool was at to get fresh air, and I was feeling awful, and a kind employee brought me towels to cover up with, and to use as a pillow, and she got me some ice water, and took the time to make sure that I was feeling better. It helped me a lot that someone that did not know me, cared enough to take time out of her busy schedule to comfort me. I have to admit that 2 weeks is too long for me to be out to sea, and I will be seeking shorter cruises in the future. I also additionally tipped all of the employees who took part in making my vacation awesome. I was spoiled for 2 weeks! I would suggest to the DJ to update his tunes for the younger folks who party late up at the Hemisphere. They should update the library, I liked the daily movie selections. I also had booked the 5 specialty dinner package, not realizing that the Century only had one restaurant (Murano) which is great, but they refunded my package purchase without any problems. I also purchased the soda card, and I got my moneys worth on that ! The pool was freezing, and I did not use it. Other then that, I learned a lot of new tips from fellow experienced cruisers, and I will pack differently next time. Getting off the ship was chaotic at the end of the cruise, and I did not like that part. I did not like tendering either. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
I was uncertain as to what to expect of a cruise, but given the cost as a solo traveller, I expected some luxury, fine dining and excellent service. I wasn't disappointed. True, the new reservation system for the main dining room ... Read More
I was uncertain as to what to expect of a cruise, but given the cost as a solo traveller, I expected some luxury, fine dining and excellent service. I wasn't disappointed. True, the new reservation system for the main dining room was confusing people,including the booking staff, but I was able to take it in stride. I had been advised at least twice to reserve my table in advance(I had opted for open seating at a table for two-no sharing), and as I have dietary allergies I was keen to have that clarified with the kitchen, too. Admittedly, there were a couple of glitches but recovery and compensation by the staff were immediate and gracious. Of course, people were curious, and some openly sad, that I was travelling alone, but I explained that it was my choice and that I was thoroughly enjoying my own company. I did accept once or twice the kind offers to join others for dinner or dessert, but most often I declined the invitations. The wait staff were most attentive and kind. The Pinnacle and Canaletto restaurants were well worth the extra cost. The only complaint I have is about the spa. I had a wonderful massage on the second day at sea and no complaint about that experience. My manicure was another thing altogether...not recommended. The spa seemed disorganized and the nail salon was poorly equipped with questionable hygiene standards. The horseback riding excursion in Pt Vallarta on Christmas Day was fabulous. The sailing and snorkelling excursion in Cabo was fun, but the water was too cold to stay in for long and it was clear that someone had been feeding the fish in order to have them congregate in the area we were told to snorkel. Small things in the larger context. Ultimately, I enjoyed this cruise so much that I have booked another cruise with HAL for June and am taking my daughter and her husband along for the ride! Thus far, I am sold on HAL and reluctant to try another cruise line for fear they won't live up to my newly formed expectations. I'll post a review of the Mediterranean trip post-cruise. Happy cruising. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This was my second experience sailing, and my partner's first. I want to make clear that we did enjoy ourselves. So it isn't necessarily that it was a horrible experience. But it was definitely less than I expected. First, the ... Read More
This was my second experience sailing, and my partner's first. I want to make clear that we did enjoy ourselves. So it isn't necessarily that it was a horrible experience. But it was definitely less than I expected. First, the good. Zaandam is a small ship. I had previously sailed on a large Royal Caribbean ship, and I had a hard time getting to know people. On this sailing, we made a lot of friends. Because the ship is smaller, you see people more frequently and thus there are more chances to make connections. That's a good thing if you are sociable, like we are. The cabin steward was a real gem. He had this knack for knowing exactly when we had left the cabin without seeming like he was hovering, waiting for us to leave. He always greeted us with a smile and called us by name. The front desk crew was also very professional. I felt that embarkation was a lot easier on this line than my previous experience on Royal Caribbean. The fact is that the ship pulls into port at 7 am. From 7 until roughly 8:30 they are waiting for port clearance. And the rest of their passengers are not off until around 10 am. And they start boarding new passengers at noon. That gives them only about 2 hours of time to get the ship ready. Given that, it is simply amazing what they do. The nighttime shows were particularly good, particularly the comedians. I haven't laughed that hard in years. They also have a pretty decent movie theater, and showed a selection of pretty good movies at night. Now the bad: First, from the start it seems like everything is about money with them. I would be interested in more seminars on interesting stuff, but apart from the cooking classes and fitness classes, it seems like most of their activities are really only thinly disguised attempts to sell you something. If your idea of a good vacation is not constant attempts to sell you things, then the day can be a bit boring, until nighttime, when the ship does start to come to life. There are movies, shows, and the bars come to life at night. So the nights were definitely far more entertaining than the days. During the day you can use the pool, but that gets old after awhile. They need to plan more interesting daytime activities. Before you reach the port, Holland America will offer you information on the ports. This is really a spoiled opportunity. They could have taken this chance to tell us about all the "off the beaten track" sorts of things you can do in these truly interesting ports. Instead, for the most part they use the information session to promote their own favorite shops in the ports. And how does one become one of Holland America's favorite shops? Simple. You give Holland America money. We found this out in a really interesting way. We took our little Holland America port map into town, and one of the proprietors tried to get us into his shop, telling us that he is one of "Holland America's Guaranteed Shops". We told him that he wasn't on our map! He said, "really, can I see?" Sure enough, he wasn't on our map. He was furious! "We paid them a lot of money to be on that map!" He told us, "we should be on there!" On ship, his story turned out to be true. The Holland America port director told us that his shop had accidentally been left off, but that his shop, "The Real McCoy" was one of their guaranteed shops. So there you have it. The man's credibility was confirmed: Their "guaranteed shops" is just a synonym for their advertisers. I gave the owner of "The Real McCoy" my map so he would have proof, and I truly hope he gets a refund. Service around the ship for the most part was pretty good, and people were pretty friendly. But on several occasions ships staff were rude to us. This seemed more common at the drink station in the Lido. At one point, a crew member scolded me for grabbing something myself rather than waiting for her to give it to me. (Keep in mind, the Lido restaurant is a buffet!!!!) And another crew member blatantly refused to give me an empty cup at dinner time when I requested it. I then asked for a glass of water, which I then poured into a bowl and handed the bowl to him. One shouldn't have to go to such lengths to get an empty cup. I got another lecture from a crew member respecting some sort of "tender ticket." I still have no idea what that was about. Apparently, they have some sort of odd, nonsensical procedure for getting off the boat in Cabo, which they poorly explain to passengers and then try to cover for by scolding passengers who don't know what to do. The Main Dining Room was an atrocious experience for us. We ate there only one night, the rest of the nights preferring the Lido restaurant. Our first night in the Main Dining Room They chose to seat us right next to a server station. There really is nothing more uncomfortable than sitting right next to the server station. You feel constantly like you are in the way, as waiters fly by with trays only a few inches above your head. You feel like you are in the way. Service was beyond slow. And while the food quality was decent, the food arrived in such small quantities that we were left hungry. Granted, we could have ordered more, but given how long it took them to bring everything, we opted to simply go to the Lido afterwards and eat a little more. On top of all that, the waiter treated us rudely because we didn't want to pay $10 for a carafe of water. He wouldn't take "no" for an answer and made us feel like we were bad people for refusing the offer. The ship is gay-friendly because it is small, so you get a chance to really know the other passengers. But Holland America doesn't really do much to help that. On our voyage, there was an LGBT meeting only one night. And now, for the ugly: debarkation. I have heard that debarkation is bad in San Diego. But nothing prepared me for how bad. Ok. I understand. This is not totally Holland America's fault. They are dealing with the government. When I complained to Holland, this was the answer I got. Fine. I understand. But that is not all there is to the story. Holland America may not have the power to control the government, but they certainly can put pressure on them. Holland America could go to the port of San Diego and tell them, "Hey, you guys need to get your act together and stop being so rude to our passengers. If you can't get it under control, we won't be coming here anymore." If San Diego wants the tourism dollars, (and they do!), they would make it right. I will say this: foreign ports always make you feel welcome. For some reason, our country has got to the point where we are so xenophobic that we are even suspicious of U.S. citizens who travel. U.S. ports are by far the least friendly of any in the world, and San Diego is the worst of all of them. How is this Holland's fault? Well, it isn't ALL Holland's fault. But we did have a particularly horrible experience that was all Holland's fault. My partner is a Mexican citizen who happens to be a U.S. resident who has a green card. I am a U.S. citizen. On the final day, non-U.S. citizens have to go through an additional screening. So my partner had to report to the Mondriian lounge before debarkation. I went with him, in part just for the security of it all. If they gave him any trouble, at least I would know what was going on. Well, one of Holland's officers forced me to leave the line. I was told that U.S. citizens are not allowed to accompany their non-citizen family members. However, this appears to be a very selectively enforced rule. In fact, only the gay family members were separated from their families. The people in front of us and behind us both had U.S. citizen husbands who were permitted to stay with them. When I brought this to the attention of the crew member who separated us, she said that she did not know, and that if she had known she would have forced them to leave as well. That was a blatant lie. I overheard her discussion with the man behind me, who was a U.S. citizen who made it very clear that he did not want to leave his wife. She knew full well that he was a U.S. citizen. The only explanation I can give for this is that I wasn't a "real" family member because I am gay and they were straight. If there is another explanation, I would love to know what it is. On top of all this, the officer led me to an area where I could at least observe the proceedings. After a few minutes, a member of U.S. Customs came over and was verbally abusive to me and threatened me, ordering me to leave the area. I can think of nothing I was doing to deserve this treatment. I was simply sitting silently watching the proceedings trying to make sure that my loved one had gained entry. And how did Holland react to this? The only proper thing for her to do would have been to stand up to the Customs officer, and say, "Excuse me! You do not speak to our Passengers in that manner! What is your name and badge number!" Instead, she meekly ushered me out of the area, muttering her apologies under her breath. When I was out of the lounge, I asked to speak to the Captain, since I had been verbally threatened and treated abusively on the ship. The Captain refused to see me. When I said I was never sailing with Holland again, then another officer came up to me and tried to explain that the poor treatment wasn't Holland America's fault, it was the fault of the U.S. Government. Sorry. That doesn't cut it. Holland let it happen, and it only happened because I had been forced out of line in the first place, something none of the straight spouses were forced to do. Overall, we do not recommend this cruise line. Although we had a good time overall, there were far too many glitches. 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Sail Date November 2012
We choose Celebrity for our first cruise because we wanted to experience better than average for a cruise line. Celebrity did not disappoint us. Boarding in San Diego was fast. We were traveling with another couple. He needed a scooter ... Read More
We choose Celebrity for our first cruise because we wanted to experience better than average for a cruise line. Celebrity did not disappoint us. Boarding in San Diego was fast. We were traveling with another couple. He needed a scooter to be mobile. I think that helped us get through the process quicker. We got in line at 11:30 and were on board just after 12 noon. Stateroom were available about 2pm so we spent the first couple of hours exploring the ship. Our balcony stateroom was perfect for us on Deck 7. The lifeboats below you are forward of you, so you can look right down to the water from our balcony. This is great when you are in port and can look right down on the pier to see what is going on. We were close to both glass elevators and forward elevators and we never heard any noise other than hearing the water rolling by outside. If I am ever on Infinity again, I would look for this cabin again in a flash. Food was excellent and variety was way over our expectations. We were offered a 2 for 1 in SS United States on day 6 of cruise and took them up on it. One word. WOW!! Do try the lobster cooked table-side. Buffet--You will not starve here. There is everything here. Breakfast, lunch, Dinner, it don't matter. It is all there. Even Ice cream by dish or cone. Now some of the bad. The ship shore excursions are way over priced and quality of some of the tours left a lot to be desired. Talking with other passengers, I got the impression that going ashore and getting your own was not only a lot cheaper, but quality was better. We were really disappointed in Colon with the railway/bus tour along the canal. There were only a few places along the track that you get a great view of Gaton Lake and the cut. The Internet is a total waste of money. Keep it in your wallet. Service was spotty at best and we heard lots of complaining about being ripped off and no refunds. We kept ours in the wallet. If you want American cash onboard, do not rely on their ATM machines. I swear they keep them down to force you to go to Casino and get cash off your credit card. They charge 5% of amount for this. Atm was only working after our last port call, so was available only last 3 days of cruise. These were not cruise breakers though. The following was. Now the UGLY. As I stated we were traveling with another older couple. He is unable to walk and needs a scooter. The only way they can travel, was for us to take them along and watch over them. Not an issue for us. What was an issue was after he got ill onboard. He was complaining about headaches and unable to move his left leg. We thought he was having a stroke. He had one 8 years ago. We had just arrived in Cartagena Columbia. We took him to the ships Dr. They did some tests and sent them to the hospital. My wife and I were told that we would be kept informed as to his status whether they were coming back to the ship or not, and about his health either way. We heard nothing all day. The ship sailed at 4pm, and my wife and I stood on the back rail on deck 10 watching the pier to no avail. We felt awful. We felt like we deserted them. The last 3 days of the cruise was ruined for us by stress and worry. We never once heard one word about our friends. I was able finally in Ft. Lauderdale to text back to Canada to a relative who let us know they were fine. He spent 4 days in hospital and she was put up in an American home. They have nothing about praise of their treatment from both Celebrity and their ships Agent in Cartagena. They are home safe now and thank god for travel insurance. We are not complainers, but we felt Celebrity let us down. By not even giving us a simple message to let us know our friends were looked after they ruined our last 4 days of this cruise. We were all set to sign up for future cruise credit with them so my wife could get her Hawaii cruise. We didn't. I just booked Princess for Hawaii. We might cruise with them in future, but we need some healing before that will happen if ever. Please don't take our experience as a everyday occurrence as I know Celebrity just dropped the ball here. Other than that it was over all a nice cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
My elderly mother and I just returned yesterday from a 4-night cruise on HAL's Statendam. As some background, I, by no means, am a seasoned cruiser, though I hope to be one day! This was my second cruise and my mom's first. My ... Read More
My elderly mother and I just returned yesterday from a 4-night cruise on HAL's Statendam. As some background, I, by no means, am a seasoned cruiser, though I hope to be one day! This was my second cruise and my mom's first. My first cruise was on RC so I wanted to try another cruise line, as well as introduce my mom to cruising. My mom and I looked forward to this cruise to have some mother/daughter time and it could not have sailed on a better day - Mother's Day! We embarked in San Diego - I was very impressed with the expedient embarkation process. We were processed and onboard enjoying lunch within 15 minutes upon arrival at the port. Lunch at the Lido Restaurant was good. Our cabin was ready after lunch so we were excited to see it. This particular cruise was one where the cruise line assigned all the cabins so we could not choose. I found out our cabin number a couple of days before we set sail. We were in cabin 162 on Deck 9. I was really concerned because our cabin was right above the casino and having read reviews that this deck may pose significant noise issues from the deck below, I was quite concerned. Well, it was a total non-issue for our particular cabin. We did not hear any noise from below. We were pleased with having a balcony and the room was nicely updated. Afterward we walked around to get familiar with the ship. The ship is smaller but quaint. We ate at all the restaurants except the Terrace Grill - we did care to have a hamburger or hotdog as there was such a greater selection of food elsewhere. Had lunch in the MDR, which was good; really enjoyed the Afternoon Tea in the MDR; Canaletto was also tasty - mom really enjoyed her meal; Lido buffet was decent overall; on our last night we had dinner at the Pinnacle Grill-while the service was wonderful - my mom and I were very surprised at how salty ALL the food was (including our side dishes, now mind you, we had different side dishes too). She ordered broiled lobster tail and I had boneless ribeye steak. Now, dessert was a different story - excellent Baked Alaska. I did attend a couple of the cooking demos but other than that, we did not go to any shows nor the casino or bars. The highlight of the cruise is the Green Spa. My mom could have lived in the mineral spa the entire cruise. The Thermal Suite is so worth the money - a must do. HAL hit the nail on the head with this one. We really did enjoy it. We enjoyed the port stop in Victoria. It is a beautiful city. The only minor issues were that our cabin steward charged us for a soda from the minibar which we did not take. My mom purchased a soda from the Explorations Cafe and brought it back to the cabin, so I guess he thought it was taken from the minibar. Anyway, that was straightened out. And our room service order was incorrect a couple of times. Overall it was a good cruise - my mom really enjoyed it and that is all that mattered to me. Would I cruise the Statendam again? Probably not, as there are many other fish in the sea to explore. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Prior to this cruise I did my homework if you will as much as possible prior to sailing for this being a first time cruise by catching up on reviews and as much information as possible from this site. As a first time cruiser I was not ... Read More
Prior to this cruise I did my homework if you will as much as possible prior to sailing for this being a first time cruise by catching up on reviews and as much information as possible from this site. As a first time cruiser I was not disappointed. We went into this with a fairly open mind as first time cruisers as to what to expect and were not at all disappointed. Also, it should be noted the running joke during the course of the cruise was this was my "first" cruise where I did not have to work as I am retired navy. Booked the 5 day Pacific Coastal cruise on Celebrity Millennium as this was the second cruise after the Solictization refit. Flew down to San Diego two days prior to the arrival of Millennium and stayed two nights at the Holiday Inn - On the Bay literally across the street from the cruise ship pier, had a bay view room in the hotel and the morning of the cruise opened my balcony curtains to see the ship across the street from my room. Had a late check out at 2pm and walked across the street to the terminal dropped off our bags and proceeded to the security screening and check-in. All total from the time we entered the security screening and check-in to getting to our stateroom it probably was all of 25-30 minutes, but about what you might expect for checking in close to 2000 passengers on a ship (try that with 2000 passengers and TSA at any major airport)There was the customary champagne and mimosas that were nice, as we got onboard everyone was gathering at the first elevators near the gangway, so we wandered aft and found the aft elevators pretty much empty and went right up to our stateroom, the only issue here was the time it took for luggage to arrive at our stateroom, well after the muster brief and just as we were getting underway, (note we had been onboard for almost two hours now.) Once we got unpacked and settled in we used the time to go explore the ship and find a nice spot for the sail-away which was a fantastic view of the San Diego city. Dining - first night we chose to eat at the Ocean View Grill on deck 10 which had a very nice selection of entree items set in a buffet style arrangement. Also purchased a specialty dining package for the Olympic Room during our at sea evening after San Francisco which was superb, service, menu selection (Chilean Sea Bass) and wine selections were all outstanding. A couple of nights we chose the MDR as we also had the option of select dining and had the same window seat on the port and as well I was impressed with the menu selections and presentation (Lamb shank which fell off the bone.) We also purchased a premium drink package and I must say Keisha and Michael in the casino bar, and the gentleman from the Martini bar had it most entertaining and enjoyable experience. On the last night of our cruise we watched one of the bar tenders at the Martini bar pour a Martini flight of 24 glasses at one time! Very entertaining to watch. Entertainment wise we checked out the Celebrity theater the first night underway and after that it was mostly Cosmos, Michaels and the lounge. As we had a concierge class stateroom we took advantage of the enhanced room service menu and enjoyed breakfast each morning on the veranda. And would also like to thank our stateroom attendant Willy for outstanding service and attention to detail while making our trip enjoyable. There were some minor issues as a result of the refit in our stateroom that were corrected during the cruise, such as during the resurfacing of the veranda deck in our stateroom there were glue foot prints on the threshold of the sliding door and splashes of paint and glue on the outside glass, but these were taken care of during port visits while away from the ship. All in all, I was very impressed and had a most relaxing vacation during my first cruise and enjoyed meeting our new cruise friends Dave and Patty from Louisiana, and all the wonderful crew members who worked so hard to make our first cruise so much fun and relaxing. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
I selected this specific cruise due to the holidays. Our Carnival Cruise on the Spirit left San Diego on 12/23/11 and returned on 1/1/12, with four ports of call - Ensenada, Cabo San Lucas (2 nights), Puerto Vallarta and Manzinillo. I ... Read More
I selected this specific cruise due to the holidays. Our Carnival Cruise on the Spirit left San Diego on 12/23/11 and returned on 1/1/12, with four ports of call - Ensenada, Cabo San Lucas (2 nights), Puerto Vallarta and Manzinillo. I booked directly through Carnival and let Carnival handle everything from Airport to Airport. Embarkation seemed to be a bit unorganized. As a first time cruiser (with VIP status due to our room), I did expect some extra handling as outlined by Carnival, but I also felt that was a very small thing to complain about so I let it go. However, we had no idea what to do after we boarded and there wasn't much information forthcoming. We had to wait about 2 hours before we could get into our room and our luggage didn't arrive until after we had left port (which was late leaving for some reason I think possibly a late plane coming in. However there was plenty of food to eat and free drinks. Knowing beforehand this would occur (and thinking logically about it I should have realized that moving all that luggage onto the ship and into the rooms would take a while), we would have packed a little differently and had a carry on with us so we could freshen up. This is a very very slight complaint as I said. That said, our room was fabulous. We had stateroom 5295, a vista suite, with a huge balcony. The joke that they make up your bed when you go to the bathroom was almost true...lol. We will actually go with a smaller stateroom (with a balcony of course) next time as this was really too much room for us. Our room steward was great and very very helpful to us first time cruisers. We completely enjoyed the food, both in the dining room and of course all of the buffets. I will say that the buffet breakfast was better then the dining room breakfast and the regular coffee everywhere was very very weak. However the decaf was a nice strong, rich coffee. Go figure. The coffee from the two coffee bars (cost extra) was really good and cheaper than Starbucks coffee. We had coffee and croissants delivered every morning so that we could sit on our balcony and watch the sun come up. Perfect mornings. We ate at the steak house on Christmas (also a formal night). The dinner was worth far more than the $30 per person. It was literally the best steak we have ever had and other patrons were saying the same thing. The entire dinner took around 2 hours. The only thing about it was the portion sizes. They are HUGE..It was a bit of overkill. If you like smaller portions get the Surf and Turf. 7oz filet mignon and 7 oz lobster tail. Perfectly cooked. My husbands 12 oz filet was also perfectly cooked rare, which is hard to find. Entertainment - what can I say about this? The main shows were awesome. The last show of the cruise - The Big Easy - was spectacular. It was the kind of show you would see in Vegas - flash, glitter, pyrotechnics, lifts, tons of costume changes - and all done with 4 main singers, 12 back up dancer/singers and an 8 piece band. We went to 4 of the comedy shows (adult versions) and laughed ourselves silly. The same comedians also did an early family show each night. I gambled a little in the casino but didn't are for the cigarette smoke and of course it isn't the best place to waste your money anyway. I did check out the gym and what a fabulous place - Had every intention to work out but..well you know how it is. I also didn't use the salon. Our shore excursions were an adventure onto themselves. We had two canceled but it was easy to replace them with something else. In Cabo we did the Dolphin Swim on day and took a glass bottom boat for a tour the second day. The Dolphin Swim was worth every penny but the picture packages cost as much as the excursion. We bought them anyway of course. The only downside to Cabo was the gauntlet of vendors you have to deal with. Annoying. In Ensenada we took a wine country tour. Cost was reasonable and it was a lot of fun. Had a lot of wine samples...lol..But we did miss the pack of kids in town selling chicklets to the tourists...I thought that was a joke but it isn't. Puerto Vallarta was beautiful and by far our favorite port. We had a 7 hour Extreme Canopy Excursion so didn't see any of the town per se. This was by far the highlight of our trip. We didn't have anything planned for Manzinillo except some shopping. We didn't care for this port much and that could simply be due to American sensibilities. I thought it would be an interesting adventure to stay there at a local hotel for a few days but my husband didn't think so.. Our last two days were at sea. The Ship seemed to be riding rough (engine noise, lots of tossing) but the seas appeared fairly smooth. They also seemed to be in an incredible hurry and were never steaming much under 20 knots. One of our dinner companions noted generally they slow down during the dinner hour. The only thing we could thing was that they wanted to get back into US waters for the New Year's party our last night at sea. We managed to at least once do every activity offered on board. The cruise director, Stu Dunn (and when does that man sleep?) has a horse race which was great fun. If you are on the Spirit and he is putting this on, don't miss it. Bring some cash so you can place your bets. We met lots of great people (and some that only wanted to complain about everything)and we had a fabulous time. Our few 'complaints', in my opinion, were due to not knowing how something worked. We know now and will be prepared for our next cruise. The biggest complain by husband had was on the last two days at sea. They seemed to be draining and cleaning the pools and hot tubs excessively. Several times many of them weren't available at the same time. He enjoyed the hot tubs. I only used them twice and never even set a toe in a pool. There were plenty of available deck chairs always. This cruise was completely booked and I heard there were 600 kids on board. You would have never known it. Carnival certainly keeps the kids busy busy busy and contained. Which I really liked. Debarkation went off without a hitch. We had an early flight and VIP status so we were off the ship and through customs fairly early. Too early actually. I didn't really look at our return flight and didn't realize until the night before we were leaving out of Long Beach instead of LAX. Next time I will double check that. Long Beach is a small regional airport. We had to wait three hours before we could even check our luggage with Alaska Air and their 'waiting' area is practically non existant.. Carnival booking should have booked us, and all the other people waiting with us, through LAX. If you are flying Jet Blue you are in luck as that is their main airline. All in all, we had the best vacation we have ever had. For the money we spent, I feel we got every pennies worth. Next time, we won't spend near the money we spent on onboard pictures and in the shops. My husband doesn't drink and I only had the special everyday so our onboard ship and sail account was only $860.00. About a 1/4 of that was pics, 1/4 was internet usage (won't do that on the next cruise), 1/4 in the ships and the rest was coffee, mini bar usage and my drinks and some gambling. I came in below my budget without really trying. And I swear, at every single port of call, we had to wait on people who didn't show up on time. One time, we left and the harbor master brought them out to the boat...Kinda funny, but come on people. Be on time. Our room steward said that normally they will just leave but our ports of call were so close together, they had time to wait for a while. It was kind of funny but by the last port of call, it wasn't. We all booed them as they got on. I am in the process of booking another cruise for 2012. Just can't decide where I want to go. I want to be one of those 30 or 40 cruise people we met. Last word - Carnival if you read this, listen up - The safety drills, as done, are a waste of time. We couldn't hear a thing or see the demonstration. There are better ways to handle this. Instead of shouting the instructions through the intercom, nne of the crew members should use a bull horn for their station. AND more than one person needs to be on a ladder or platform doing the demonstrations. We couldn't see a thing. Break up the crowd at each station. We had a great time and would definitely recommend Carnival and the Spirit in particular. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
I will start this review by noting that our cruise was the unfortunate cruise that followed the three passengers becoming gravely ill in Hawaii and was therefore shortened by a day. This shortened itinerary significantly impacted this ... Read More
I will start this review by noting that our cruise was the unfortunate cruise that followed the three passengers becoming gravely ill in Hawaii and was therefore shortened by a day. This shortened itinerary significantly impacted this cruise and made many aspects feel rushed but that is the worst thing I can say about this cruise. Staff Since we were both first-time cruisers we of course have nothing to compare our cruise to but the Holland America staff were nothing short of amazing! The people working on this ship were so incredibly warm and genuine smiles were abundant in every venue. They not only served us well but remembered our names and many of our preferences. Our room stewards Thofa and Sapto were like "ninjas" quietly slipping into our room when were weren't there and taking care of every last detail. For instance somehow our ice bucket was ALWAYS full no matter the time of day. You would see the same people working in the Lido Buffet in the morning and at lunch and many of them again at dinner in the main dining room. It was apparent that none of the staff sleep much! Everyone from food service to bartenders even shop staff were friendly and obviously recognized you. We kept running into this very nice young man named Adi that would just light up when he saw us and was very sweet. This kept happening everywhere we went. Anyone that says anything bad about these people needs to have their head examined. Food Venues I will start with the Lido Buffet. The food here is good and is of course abundant. With the exception of dinner the choices don't change much if at all. Once you've eaten there a couple of days you pretty much are eating the same things. If you want variety the main dining room is your best bet. Still for breakfast and lunch you can't go wrong as it is quick and you get what you want. The Lido Buffet is of course not far from the Lido Pool and the Terrace Grill. This is an excellent alternative for lunch as they serve made to order hamburgers, veggie burgers, and hot dogs. From the second day forward there was also a buffet table set up outside the Terrace Grill with Mexican themed foods such as tamales, nachos, tacos, etc. Very tasty and interestingly enough just about the only food offered that was themed to our itinerary. The Vista Dining Room (main dining room) was elegant and the service exemplary. We chose open dining as we did not want to be locked into one dining time as there is so much to do on the ships. This was an excellent choice as we met the most wonderful people on board and ended up dining with them throughout the remainder of our cruise. By the last night I think our table grew to over 9 people! The food was wonderful and as is the theme ABUNDANT. You can order as many appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, and deserts as you want and we did! We both gained over 5 lbs! Eeek! We also ate breakfast in the Vista Dining Room one time and it was excellent. The only reason we didn't eat breakfast there more often was the Lido Buffet was just quicker and more convenient for us. We had coffee and danishes delivered to our stateroom every morning. This worked out well (too well) as it became our wake up call. The food and coffee was always the right temperature and was very good. One note on this, they have you choose a time frame to have the food delivered. If we chose between 6:30 and 7:00 it would generally be delivered between 6:00 and 6:30, waking us up. While this was a nice way to ensure we were up on time it never failed they would knock on our door before our alarm went off. I certainly cannot fault them for being late! Skip the dessert extravaganza in my opinion. The desserts were just ok. In short food is abundant, generally good, and usually the correct temperature. Occasionally a dish would be a bit cold (you don't have to eat it, there is more where that came from) but overall very good. The cruise line's weak point seems to be anything made from bread. Bread and cake items tended to be hard, dry, or very dense. I suppose this is the danger from producing food at such great quantities. Entertainment Venues There are a lot of bars on this ship with an atmosphere to suit just about anyone's taste. The drinks are priced pretty much the same as land-based bars and they will make anything for you, just ask! The only venue we didn't really check out was the Piano Bar but the couple of times we poked our head in there everyone seemed to be having a great time! I highly suggest getting beverage cards as this keeps the dreaded bill you receive at the end of your cruise in check. We had a credit at the end of our cruise and this was a rare exception to the many people we spoke to. We went to 4 shows in the Vista Lounge during our cruise and enjoyed all but one. Joel Mason (I believe that was his name) did an excellent Eagles tribute the first night but when he did a comedy act on the third we found the humor tacky and not terribly funny. Many left during that performance. The Holland America singers and dancers were amazing and so entertaining. Catch as many shows with them as you can. DJ Brett kept the Northern Lights disco hopping every night with great music from all decades and was a lot of fun. He came out many times to boogie with all of us and was super funny. Truly enjoyed going here and closed it twice! Shopping This is an area that suffers a bit on this ship in my opinion. While the staff is wonderful and the products generally high quality it is a very small area and therefore selection is limited. There is a fine jewelry and watch area, a Holland America branded merchandise area, a venue that changes depending on the traveling "show" that is on that cruise (ours was colored glass jewelry), a small makeup and perfume/cologne area, and a liquor area. In addition to this there is a separate fine jewelry store the showcased different designers. While this may seem extensive they have gone to great trouble to make shopping more about the $300 and over merchandise than anything else so if you like us are shopping for souvenirs and personal items you may find the selection to be pretty limited. Also there was scarcely few items specific to our itinerary. Enrichment Classes On this shortened itinerary we couldn't attend as many of these as we would have liked. The ones we did attend were hit and miss unfortunately. My significant other attended a workshop on shopping in Puerto Vallarta that ended up being an advertisement for their diamond and tanzanite jewelry store partner in Puerto Vallarta, which he found to be a complete waste of time. We both attended a mixology class next to the Lido pool that showcased some of our bartenders making drinks in a very entertaining way and taught us how to make three of their signature drinks. This was entertaining, informative, and you get to try all three drinks they teach you how to make. For $12.50 this was very worth the money IMO. We were so enamored by our little towel animals that we attended a towel folding class the last day of our trip. While this ended up basically being a way to sell a towel folding instruction book it was fun and it was amazing watching the cabin stewards quickly make these towel animals. We bought the book for about $14 and they signed it. Makes a great souvenir. Pools The Lido Pool was a must the first day as it was cold outside and windy at the Aft Pool. The Lido Pool had a lot of children so not for someone seeking peace and quiet. Once we were further down the Mexican coast (around Cabo) the air temperature went up significantly and the Aft pool was full with adults only. We spent a great deal of time here. Speaking of Cabo we had an unscheduled stop in Cabo due to a crew member needing medical assistance. This did not impact our cruise but provided an unexpected preview to this wonderful place. We sincerely hope the crew member is ok. Cruise Stops I'm going to start this by commenting on excursions. TAKE THEM. The reason I say this is the stops are so short if you venture out on your own you could end up with a stop like we had in Puerto Vallarta. I had already been there so we opted for a cab ride to the Malecon to do some shopping and made our way down to some friends on a beach area known as "Blue Chairs". The shopping was a complete bust as was the food along the Malecon, the prices they wanted for their merchandise was ridiculous! We've had better Mexican food at taco shops in San Diego and the vendors weren't haggling at all (likely due to two cruise ships being in port). By the time we got to the blue chairs our day was more than half over and we only got a couple hours on the beach. We had a great time but since a second day that was supposed to happen at this stop was cancelled we felt like we were running to get everything in. Not at all relaxing. We took the Chilean Bar snorkeling tour in Cabo and every aspect of it was amazing. The catamaran was beautiful, the crew was wonderful, and the snorkeling was so incredible. The water here is a beautiful azure blue and the fish and reefs were so very beautiful. On the way back they served endless drinks and snacks. This was easily the highlight of our vacation and was reasonable given all that was included. Once we got back to land we went to Cabo Wabo for margaritas and lunch and shopped our way back to the ship. The food was good (if not a bit expensive) but again the shopping was a bust. Too expensive. Still because we took the excursion we felt like we accomplished something and had a wonderful day. We will definitely return to Cabo! Oosterdam Final Thoughts Many have said the ship is dated and tired. In some aspects they are correct and I guess if you look for bad things you'll see them. There was evidence of worn cushions and one of our friends had torn drapes in their cabin along with a somewhat worn couch. Our room was in better shape but our veranda room was designed for a maximum of 2 people while theirs slept up to 4 I believe. This seemed to make a difference. Our cabin 8105 was on the top cabin deck and was so conveniently located to the elevators, Lido Buffet, and Aft pool. Overall though the ship is in great repair and there was someone cleaning, painting or doing some kind of maintenance all day and all night. I would gladly cruise on her again if she wasn't leaving San Diego indefinitely next year. Someone said a cruise in what you make it and they are so right. Go aboard looking for a great vacation and I assure you the Oosterdam, Holland America, and their wonderful crew will give you just that. Go aboard looking for deficiencies and you will most certainly find them. My advice don't look for deficiencies. Have a good time, we did and booked our next cruise to the Southern Caribbean. We look forward to seeing you there! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
I have to start by saying that I have nothing to compare this cruise with since I've never cruised before... I also realize my girlfriend and I are much younger than the average passenger on board but we were not bothered by that one ... Read More
I have to start by saying that I have nothing to compare this cruise with since I've never cruised before... I also realize my girlfriend and I are much younger than the average passenger on board but we were not bothered by that one bit... Neither of us drink and we don't really enjoy the "night life" so we are probably much different from most other 29 year-old cruisers... I should also mention that I love to write, so this is going to be a long-winded review... We boarded the Oosterdam on 4/9... Everything on this cruise far exceeded our expectations, including the politeness of the staff, including the quality and ease of dining, and even including the accuracy and speed of room service...The Food - I will start with room service... We had heard time and again that room service on board the Oosterdam is unreliable and of poor quality... I don't know what all of those people are doing wrong... We had room service 3 times per day... My girlfriend had breakfast delivered at 9:30 everyday... It was always accurate, always at the appropriate temperature, and always delivered within 5 to 10 minutes of the time she selected... Everyday I had a triple-decker club sandwich with no mayonnaise delivered to the state room between 3:30 and 4:30 with chips, an assortment of cheeses and crackers, and usually smoked salmon and a Caesar salad with chicken for my girlfriend... I had the same meal delivered again everyday between midnight and 1:30, minus the salad and salmon, but added a plate of cookies and two milks... The food was always, always, always, delivered within one hour of the call being placed, and only once out of the dozen or so times did they forget to hold the mayonnaise on my sandwich... The food was always at the perfect temp when delivered, it was delicious and pretty close to perfect every time... We did tip $2 for the room service each time... Maybe that made the difference in accuracy and punctual delivery times... Either way, I was 99% pleased with everything about room service and found the majority of complaints I had seen on here prior to cruising to absolutely not be the case for us... Maybe we were just lucky... We did eat at the lido every morning about 11:30 or so... I did not like it when the lido reverted to self-serve... It was much cleaner and more organized when food was served by the servers... Once it went to self-service, filthy hands touched just about everything you could imagine... So, after the self-serve started, we relegated ourselves mostly to items such as the sandwiches, which only the staff handle... So sandwiches it was, and they were great... We had no complaints and we liked our sandwich maker Jaime so much we went and supported him at the Filipino show, which was enjoyable in it's own way... The Vista Dining Room was an experience to remember... We originally had open seating, but on the first day when we tried to change our Pinnacle reservation, one of the staff insisted he had the perfect "Honeymoon Table" for the "Beautiful Honeymooners"... (we're not married (yet), nor were we honeymooning (yet), but throughout the rest of trip, this staff member constantly referred to us affectionately as his "Honeymoon Couple" and we absolutely loved it)... And, he wasn't lying... The table was a perfect little table for 2 and we had dinner with the same waiters (Wikan and Saury, whom we love) at the same table every night at 7:45... We were very thankful he had talked us out of the open-seating... It worked out perfectly... The food was fantastic, with the exception of one night when it was just so-so... Again, we had heard numerous times before our cruise that dinner was a 2 hour affair, took a long time to get anything you wanted, and so on and so forth... We found none of it to be true... The food was always the correct temperature, nearly always tasted fantastic, and we were always in and out within an hour... within 2 minutes of finishing a dish, the next one was brought out... Maybe Wikan and Saury are just the most fantastic waiters in the world and we lucked out by getting them, but either way, it was always a delight to eat in the Vista Dining Room and I was nearly in tears at the thought of not getting to see our kind and affectionate waiters again... Also, as a side note, our wine steward (who's name I have regretfully forgotten) always remembered after the first night that we each took a coke with our meal, and always had it to us within 5 minutes of our having sat down... Absolutely phenomenal service from everyone in the Vista Dining Room... And yes, we went to the Master Chef's Dinner, and despite what we had heard about it being a limited menu and not a very enjoyable experience, we absolutely loved it, loved cheering our waiters on, loved watching them unwind, loved the napkin ballet, and had no problem finding food we enjoyed... Even got to try oxtail soup for the first time... Not half bad... We ate at the Pinnacle one night and it was the best dinner of my life... Upon arrival, our waiter, Jos, led us past all of the tables and chairs to one of the only 2 booths in the restaurant... We felt spoiled already... Then he brought out a tray of 3 different sea salts and proceeded to inform us of what they were made from and what dishes they complimented best... We felt even more spoiled... Then he brought out a special treat from the chef... I believe it was raw tuna, covered in a sweet wasabi like sauce... My girlfriend loves sushi and as such, this was a real treat for her... It was very good and she absolutely loved it... It was fairly obvious to both of us at this point that The Pinnacle is easily worth what it costs and more... We really were treated like royalty by all of the staff on-board, and it especially showed in The Pinnacle... She had the filet mignon and I had the troll-caught salmon... we both figured we'd fight over the filet, both of us being beef lovers, and the filet was excellent, but in fact, it was the salmon we battled over most... Without a doubt the best fish either of us had ever had... It ruined the taste of regular old salmon for both of us... I finished up the meal with the softest, creamiest cheesecake I've ever had topped with fresh raspberries... She had the souffle and loved it... BTW, we were told before boarding that souffle would have to be ordered at the beginning of the meal as it took about 20 minuted to complete... We now know that the ovens on-board the Oosterdam have been updated, and the new technology allows for about a 7 minute souffle, so no more need to order ahead unless you are in a hurry to get out of there, which we were not... We never wanted to leave... I will pause here to say that Jos was without a doubt a joy to be waited on by... Very knowledgeable , very kind, very fun to interact with and just made the whole Pinnacle experience that much better... We were so impressed with the Pinnacle that we contemplated trying to squeeze in another meal there, but in the end found we had too much of a good bond with our Vista Dining Room waiter to want to go another night without seeing him... If people played no part in the decision, only food, or if we could have squeezed in 2 dinners every night, we definitely would have eaten the Pinnacle more often as the food was just above and beyond amazing... I should pause here to mention that even though my review and the constant mention of food intake make my girlfriend and I out to sound like morbidly obese pigs, we're both pretty fit and the amount of food we took in during this cruise is not reflected by our weight... We ate a lot during this cruise, probably 4-5 times as much as normal, but usually we are quite responsible about our diets... but hey, this is what vacation is for, right?Ok, no more food talk...The casino... Since neither of us drink and since we know Holland America makes most of their money on booze and gambling, we felt it our due diligence to donate via the casino, which we did... there was a fun ambiance in the casino when it wasn't absolutely packed, but the machines were definitely very tight... We had a lot of fun in the casino despite never winning much of anything... The machine in the casino that you drop the quarter tokens into in hopes of winning far less tokens than you've put in - I Loved It! I had never seen one before... My girlfriend said, "I've never won anything out of one of those"... I put in a couple of dollars and won a couple of dollars and a losing lottery ticket and a couple of Holland America Dice... I enjoyed it as much as anything in the casino, despite the absolute absurdity of it... The shows... We saw the show the first night... Kind of a high school musical type production... The dancing was very good, and the lead male vocal was tremendous... The lead female vocal however smiled instead of opening her mouth when she sang... It made her hard to understand and sounded a little weird... Overall it was a fun show, and probably really fun if that's your thing, but it wasn't really our thing... We saw the impersonator, Pete Peterkin... He was great... Did a great Obama impersonation, was very musically talented, and overall just a very entertaining individual... We enjoyed him thoroughly... I wish I could say more to praise him, but really, he's just one of those acts you have to see to fully appreciate...Leo Ward, the magician... Poor guy must have had a list of things that can go wrong during a show and was able to put a check next to each one of them, up to and including my girlfriend throwing his plush ball towards the balcony only to have it get lodged in a hole in the wall that cradled the spotlights(yes, that was us)... He should be less insistent on telling the audience members to throw the ball "Anywhere you want"... It was a good laugh though and the show was very entertaining minus the teenagers sitting in the front to the left side of the stage... The few teenagers on-board were not well behaved or well looked after and were one of the very few disappointments about the trip... Don't get me wrong, they did not spoil our trip or make us very unhappy for any significant portion of the trip... They were just very poorly behaved and it was a sad surprise to find as we specifically cruised with Holland America to avoid such individuals... The actual children on-board were very well behaved (at least that we saw), and their parents did such a wonderful job supervising them and keeping them controlled (at least that we saw)... The children were not a problem, only the teenagers...We skipped the comedian, and are now glad we did as we heard his humor was not in the greatest taste... We played bingo once... It was a lot of fun although we did not win... We watched the movie Inception in the screening room... The movie theater was cold and a little difficult to hear at times... As for the movie itself, well lets just say I'm glad I read the entire wikipedia page about the movie before watching it or I wouldn't have had the slightest idea what was going on... Overall, we enjoyed the screening room experience a great deal as we rarely if ever get the opportunity to go to a movie together... It was a lot of fun... And it didn't cost $32.50 for a medium popcorn and large coke, so another huge plus...We didn't get off the ship at either ports... I grew up in San Diego and have been to Mexico many times and my opinion of the place was not changed by Puerto Vallarta... In my opinion, the only thing dirtier than the water in Puerto Vallarta was the air in Puerto Vallarta... The giant Wal Mart and Sams Club almost blocked the view of the dilapidated, disheveled apartment buildings that the locals call homes... I'm sure there is beauty beyond at the lovely resorts and hotels and scenic beaches that the many tourists visit but I did not care to see that... and as such, we stayed on the boat... And all for the best... We love ship life and never wanted to leave, although Cabo did tempt us... The view of Cabo from our balcony was amazing... The beaches and the water and the rock formations... I'm sure Cabo also has terrible conditions that the locals call homes, but in Cabo, it wasn't sitting right outside of my balcony and I'm sure that made a difference in my reaction to it... In the end we chose to stay on the ship in Cabo simply because 12,000 other people had made the decision to get off the many ships docked around us... It was very crowded, and again, even at this point in the cruise, we had not tired one bit from being on-board... We played shuffle board, my girlfriend visited the spa for a much deserved and well-loved massage, and I walked around and looked at all of the absolutely must-see amazing relics and works and pieces of art displayed about the ship... As I said, we absolutely loved being on-board the ship, never tired of being on-board, and even slept better when we were at sea... The rocking of the ship put us right to sleep...The most memorable part of this trip, the one thing that stood out the most, and the main driving factor behind why we will definitely be planning another cruise with Holland America, is without a doubt the staff... Never in my life have I been treated so well by people who barely knew me... My name is Joel and my girlfriends name is Jacquelyn... I'm a fairly slender white guy with long dreadlocks that go past the middle of my back... When we entered the lido the first day, one of the workers on the far side of one of the stations saw me, and broke into a loud, Filipino-accented, broken-down English version of the Bob Marley hit, Jammin'... By the second day, this had spread to the majority of the Lido workers, and the very sight of us usually generated some rendition of some Bob Marley song by at least a couple of them... Our waiters in the Vista Dining Room never called us by our names, but rather by the nicknames they and the rest of the staff had affectionately chosen for us, which was Bob and Jack... The staff on-board were an absolutely lovely experience in and of themselves... We did not treat them as servants, but rather as we would a friend, and it made them all the more lovely to be around... This has been the best vacation of our lives, without exaggeration... We are looking towards Alaska for a honeymoon cruise (an actual honeymoon cruise) and it will certainly be on-board a Holland America ship... Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
This was our first cruise and for a family with a 4 & 6 year old who travelled all the way from Australia to catch an American cruise line through the Panama Canal this was an amazing holiday. We could not believe the luxury in board ... Read More
This was our first cruise and for a family with a 4 & 6 year old who travelled all the way from Australia to catch an American cruise line through the Panama Canal this was an amazing holiday. We could not believe the luxury in board the ship; from intriguing and original artwork on each deck (my favourite was a photographic essay at the entry to Martini Bar -Deck 5), to too many bars to frequent, to dining options that kept everyone happy. The amenities on this ship are amazing and for a family that has never cruised before, we tried to experience them all. The Theatre productions are of such a high standard and allow you the opportunity to see shows you would never normally. Some of what we enjoyed were a ventriloquist and a comedian. The kids were blown away by the Broadway styled singing and dancing shows. The food was divine at the Trellis restaurant each night. The variety and quality amazed every night and the company of our fellow travellers invited. If you were too tired to enjoy the three courses at Trellis, there was always fresh sushi and a grill at the Oceanview Cafe. The staff were friendly and generous and there were always plenty of them around. With 4 of us in the room we used the sofa bed and bunk and found the room spacious enough that we didn't even use all the closet space. There was plenty of shelving and the room got cleaned twice a day by friendly room attendants. The Fun Factory (Kids' Club) was a dream. Our children loved it and got the experience of making some unique keepsakes from the cruise. The counsellors there really understood children and their needs and the facilities for them such a movies and PlayStation allowed them to enjoy group or quiet time as they wanted. The themed sessions and occasional parental involvement was nice. My husband and I purchased a Beverage package each and found this added to the ease of the cruise as we never had to sign for a drink, just hand over the card. The cocktail making skills of the staff was great with me often asking for them to make up their own cocktail for me and they always obliged. The ports of call were well thought out as each one was different and I loved how we would arrive first thing in the morning and have until at least 5pm before leaving. The combination of a cruise day and then a port day worked well as you could explore thoroughly in port as you knew you had the next day to relax by the pool. On a cruise I think you have to make it your own and with the options, space and amenities on Celebrity Infinity we were able to do that. If the kids were in Fun Factory we could relax by the pool with a cocktail or my husband and i could go our separate ways and he go to the gym and i listen to a fascinating lecture on the wildlife of the local area. We would then pick up the kids for a swim in the pool and get ready for dinner. At dinner we caught up with our table and learnt of their adventures and shared ours. I loved this cruise because of the places we saw but most of all because of the way we did it. Celebrity made us feel welcome (especially as a young family), looked after us, educated us and feed us well. They allowed us, as parents, to enjoy a holiday knowing that the kids were in good hands. And the staff all appeared happy to be there. Not once did I come across someone who was surly or would not go out of their way to fulfill your request. In the future I wouldn't risk cruising with any other cruise line. Thank You Celebrity Infinity and your crew. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
From the moment we booked this cruise, the efficiency of Holland America was fantastic. We booked the cruise with flights from the U.K. included and Hotel accomodation for one night in San Diego. As this was our first cruise we werent ... Read More
From the moment we booked this cruise, the efficiency of Holland America was fantastic. We booked the cruise with flights from the U.K. included and Hotel accomodation for one night in San Diego. As this was our first cruise we werent sure what to expect. We were met at San Diego Airport by a HAL representative and again at the Hotel. We stayed at the Sheraton Hotel and Marina which was ideal and we could see the ship at the Cruise Port in the morning when we awoke. Transfer to the ship was well organised, and embarkation was very quick and much simpler than we had expected. Our cabin was on dolphin deck - outside, which we absolutely loved especially at night when we went to bed as we would sit and watch the flying fish. Absolutely amazing - one benefit of being lower down on the ship! The cabin was compact but plenty large enough for the two of us. It was very clean and our 2 cabin stewards looked after us very well for the 2 weeks. Only once did we arrive back at our cabin when they were there - all other times they managed to sneak in and out whilst we were having breakfast or evening meal! We loved the layout of the ship, and thought that all facilities were great. We found all staff amazing - all went out of their way to make our holiday the best. The politeness and efficiency of the Indonesian and Phillipino Restaurant staff and Bar staff was outstanding. We dined at 8pm each evening which we found perfect as we could then go into the Explorers Lounge to watch the string quartet and then to the theatre to watch the shows at 10pm. Entertainment on board was top notch. Every show we saw was outstanding. Standard of the singers fabulous. Guest entertainers were also brilliant and one of the comedians was so funny! We would ofter finish the evening in the Ocean bar and relax with the Jazz Musicians playing - also great! Food on board was perfect. Our Restaurant meals were all first class with a very good choice each day. The Lido restaurant food was fabulous too where you could eat a wide selection from 6am to midnight - One evening many passengers arrived back from a trip at 11pm and the poor chefs were frantically cooking - but as usual thy were still all smiling! We ate one lunch time in the Pinacle Restaurant - Perfect! Coffee in the Explorers lounge was good for anyone having withdrawal symptoms from Starbucks!We only took 3 trips whilst we were on board but all 3 we enjoyed and felt had been worthwhile. We enjoyed the itinerary for this cruise as we one day did the zip line tour at Puerto Vallarta and another relaxed on the Beach at Huatulco. The evening trip to the Miraflores locks was really interesting as we could watch the Cargo ships entering and exiting the locks by floodlight. The transit through the Panama Canal was very interesting and very beautiful in parts. The Guide that came on board for the day was brilliant and told us lots of interesting facts. Also I must mention the travel Guide onboard was most helpful and knew anything we needed to know about the places we visited.The disembarkation and transfer to Miami airport was smooth and trouble free. We had an amazing Cruise and would definately travel again with HAL. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
What a marvelous experience. The weather for the entire trip and all ports-of-call was absolutely perfect. This, being our first cruise ever, we really didn't know what to expect. The ship personnel seemed to go out of their way to ... Read More
What a marvelous experience. The weather for the entire trip and all ports-of-call was absolutely perfect. This, being our first cruise ever, we really didn't know what to expect. The ship personnel seemed to go out of their way to make everything perfect. Embarkation at San Diego didn't go well, but that is an issue with the port and not the cruise line. There were delays on boarding with lots of standing and waiting. The port people finally set up folding wooden chairs in a covered area between the terminal building and the ship. Debarkation at Ft. Lauderdale was a breeze in comparison. There must be problems with communications between the shore customer services and the ship because the Amenities ordered before the cruise (flowers and birthday bash) were messed up, but the on-board staff made everything right to my satisfaction. I didn't even need to discuss the issues, once I explained the problems their first offer to resolve it was better than expected. With experiences like that, I could really enjoy the cruise without being frustrated during the cruise about something not done right. Our cabin was an Ocean View Stateroom on the lowest level. It was on the left and forward from the front bank of elevators. It was easy to get to the elevators and didn't have much traffic in the hall as there were only a few cabins in that direction before it went to crew and staff quarters. In retrospect it was the best cabin on the ship (don't tell them because they might start charging more for it). When traversing the locks in the canal we were all over the ship to see everything and get the right pictures. Exhausting. However, during one short break in our cabin we were able to watch the side of the lock go up as the ship went down. The poor people in their upper level balconies certainly can't get that unique view. The food in the dining room, buffet, and every other place that we visited was perfect, or pretty close to perfect. If we didn't see something, all we had to do was ask. Again, everyone seemed to go out of their way to cater to us. The cleanliness was impressive. Alcohol gel dispensers all over the ship plus, on entering the restaurant or buffet areas, there was someone there to offer you wipes or alcohol gel. We took a galley tour and was struck on how absolutely clean and new everything was. It certainly would be hard for any illness outbreak to happen on this ship. Speaking of cleanliness, the food preparation and service areas isn't the only area. Hallways, walls, elevators, deck chairs, EVERYWHERE was constantly getting cleaned and wiped. I don't know how they managed it without inconveniencing the passengers, but they did. Being first-time cruisers, we were not familiar with what to expect (despite all the great information here on the Cruise Critic site). However, whenever we seemed confused or lost, there was a crew member right there to get us going in the right direction. It didn't matter what the crew member was supposed to be doing or where we might be... housekeeping, maintenance, food service, other officers, or etc., they stopped and provided assistance like there wasn't anything else they had to do. Impressive! I even think that our cabin steward got a handle on our routine after the first day. Whenever we were out for something (breakfast, shows, pool, shopping, or any event), our room was remade (bed, towels, water, etc.) when we returned. We seldom saw him, but he must have been watching us. For someone like be that was pretty reluctant about cruising, this was a wonderful eye-opener. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
This was the first cruise for the family and we chose this one due to being out of San Diego which was convenient for us. We were a little leery of HAL due to the comments of it being for the old and nearly dead, but we decided to give it ... Read More
This was the first cruise for the family and we chose this one due to being out of San Diego which was convenient for us. We were a little leery of HAL due to the comments of it being for the old and nearly dead, but we decided to give it a chance as the timing was during a week the schools were out so we thought more families would be on board. We were right. According to the "HALs club" staff, there were nearly 300 kids on board. They mentioned that this was a high number due to the break and that next week's cruise would also be high. However, the number would drop to about 30 for the first few weeks in March before increasing during spring break. So, one will get a very different opinion of this line depending on the week traveling. Our children were not excited about the "childcare" upon boarding, but buy the end of the cruise they were begging to go to the HALs club as they became enamored by the programs. The staff there did a wonderful job. The cabin was a Verandah suite and was a bit cramped for the four of us. There were two twins that made a "queen" when pushed together. The third bed was a pull out sofa and the fourth was a bed the folded down above the "queen." There was no room to move around when all the beds were open. However, the room stewards were fantastic. - two room sweeps a day - and kept the room looking nice. The kids always wanted to see what "towel animal" was sitting on the bed after dinner and looked forward to the nightly chocolates. We enjoyed the verandah with the exception of certain times when a neighbor's smoke drifted into it. The suite furniture and bathroom floor were starting to show some wear, but was not a negative. The shows were liked by all. The favorites were the magician and the "Elton John" impersonator. We did not attend most of the programs during the day so I cannot comment on them. The kids when not in the Club HAL spent the time swimming in the Lido pool. The Lido deck would get a little messy by the end of the day, although was cleaned quickly once the rush was gone. We had one day at the spa and had a couples massage. It was excellent! My wife commented that she had not had a massage that good in years. The food was overall good - with a different variety each day. I liked it better than my wife, but she is very particular about her food. There were a few glitches in service. The main dining room's service on the first night was not good. It was very slow, water glasses were not filled, the coffee did not come with the dessert, but well after I had finished it, etc. The coffee in the evening dining rooms was consistently not served hot and the vegetables I had at the Pinnacle Grill one night were lukewarm. My wife said the sushi one night was made with the smoked salmon from breakfast. But, other than what I have mentioned, overall it was good. The children loved the pasta, cheeseburgers and the chicken noodle soup. If you are a wine drinker, take advantage of bringing your wine on board. HAL allows as much brought on as you want. We also a bottle of rum from the line and used it to spike our virgin drinks. At three dollars extra a pop for the "leaded version", it did save money. You can also bring on all the soda and water you want. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
My Wife and I just returned from our first cruise. We took the 5-Day Carnival Spirit to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. The following is our impression of the service and activities onboard. Embarkation: We ... Read More
My Wife and I just returned from our first cruise. We took the 5-Day Carnival Spirit to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. The following is our impression of the service and activities onboard. Embarkation: We couldn't have asked for a smoother process. We had purchased the transfers from the cruise line. When we arrived, we were met in the baggage area by a cruise representative who directed us to a waiting area and gave us a health questionnaire to fill out that would be required at the terminal. We only had about a five minute wait before being directed to our bus for transfer to the terminal. Upon arrival at the terminal, we were very happy to have purchased the transfers. While we could have taken a taxi from the airport to the terminal for much less money, everyone arriving by taxi and parking in the lot across the street were in a huge line dragging their luggage with them. Meanwhile, we were delivered to another entrance with no waiting line, we already had our questionnaires filled out, and our luggage was delivered from the bus to the ship directly, no need for us to handle it again. After about a five minute wait, we were called to board the ship. We proceeded to the Lido deck for lunch, took some time to explore the public areas on decks 9 and 10, and went to our room about 1:30. With such a smooth embarkation, I would not hesitate to purchase the transfers again. Room: We had purchased an Extended Balcony on the Upper Deck (Cabin # 5119, Forward, Starboard). We were very satisfied with the size of the room. We expected small quarters on a cruise, but never felt cramped. The room was very comfortably sized. We loved the extended balcony. We had plenty of room to fully stretch out our legs and relax. We slept very comfortably on the Carnival Comfort bed. We both agreed it was more comfortable than our own bed. Dining: What a great experience. We had requested early dining but our confirmation showed we were on a waitlist for it. After contacting a friend who works for Carnival (Thanks, John!!) and requesting a table for two, we were happy to see that our request was granted and we had early dining with our table for two. On the first night our maitre d (Desi) introduced herself, said that John had forwarded our request which she was happy to accommodate. She even said she had a table for two that had opened at a better location in the dining room and offered it to us. We checked it out, and moved to it the following night. What a great decision. Here we had a waiter (Demir from Croatia) and his assistant (Budi from the Philippians) that really raised the bar of superior service. We were never at a want for anything, they made sure of it. All cruises should be forewarned, in order to meet our level of service on this cruise, you better bring your "A" game. On one night we enjoyed the specialty Nouveau Steakhouse. What a meal!! The food and service were excellent. We were celebrating our 25th Anniversary and everything was perfect. Activities: It seems that there was something for everyone on board. We enjoyed the casino quite a bit. I played Texas Hold'em poker and Blackjack mostly. While I would have preferred a live, dealer dealt poker game, the electronic version was alright. They only had one table, so only 10 people could play at a time. There where times when there were people waiting, so another machine might be in order. Shows: We attended one show "Jazz Hot" on the first sea day. While the show was a very impressive production, and the dancers and music were all very good, it really wasn't our kind of music. It seemed all the production shows were centered around the Jazz and Big Band theme, instead of a bigger variety of music, so we didn't attend the other shows. Debarkation: Again, a very smooth process. We left our room about 7:30 to have breakfast on the Lido deck. We found a nice table by the windows to eat and wait our turn. The Cruise Director, Stu did a wonderful job in explaining the process and keeping everyone informed of its progress. We were off the ship about 9:30, collected our luggage, proceeded through customs and were on a bus back to the airport very quickly. Again, it was a good decision to purchase the transfers as there was a very long line of passengers waiting for taxis. I just wish the airport had been a smooth. Long lines at the ticket counters and the security checkpoints, our plane with Southwest had mechanical problems, and we left about a hour late, but hey, not everything in life can go smoothly, right? Overall Impression: For our first cruise, WE LOVED IT!! We already put money down for a future cruise on Carnival. It took a little getting used to the sounds and movements of the ship, but after a couple of days, we hardly noticed it. Guess we had to discover our 'sea legs'. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
My Wife and I just returned from our first cruise. We took the 5-Day Carnival Spirit to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. The following is our impression of the service and activities onboard. Embarkation: We ... Read More
My Wife and I just returned from our first cruise. We took the 5-Day Carnival Spirit to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. The following is our impression of the service and activities onboard. Embarkation: We couldn't have asked for a smoother process. We had purchased the transfers from the cruise line. When we arrived, we were met in the baggage area by a cruise representative who directed us to a waiting area and gave us a health questionnaire to fill out that would be required at the terminal. We only had about a five minute wait before being directed to our bus for transfer to the terminal. Upon arrival at the terminal, we were very happy to have purchased the transfers. While we could have taken a taxi from the airport to the terminal for much less money, everyone arriving by taxi and parking in the lot across the street were in a huge line dragging their luggage with them. Meanwhile, we were delivered to another entrance with no waiting line, we already had our questionnaires filled out, and our luggage was delivered from the bus to the ship directly, no need for us to handle it again. After about a five minute wait, we were called to board the ship. We proceeded to the Lido deck for lunch, took some time to explore the public areas on decks 9 and 10, and went to our room about 1:30. With such a smooth embarkation, I would not hesitate to purchase the transfers again. Room: We had purchased an Extended Balcony on the Upper Deck (Cabin # 5119, Forward, Starboard). We were very satisfied with the size of the room. We expected small quarters on a cruise, but never felt cramped. The room was very comfortably sized. We loved the extended balcony. We had plenty of room to fully stretch out our legs and relax. We slept very comfortably on the Carnival Comfort bed. We both agreed it was more comfortable than our own bed. Dining: What a great experience. We had requested early dining but our confirmation showed we were on a waitlist for it. After contacting a friend who works for Carnival (Thanks, John!!) and requesting a table for two, we were happy to see that our request was granted and we had early dining with our table for two. On the first night our maitre d (Desi) introduced herself, said that John had forwarded our request which she was happy to accommodate. She even said she had a table for two that had opened at a better location in the dining room and offered it to us. We checked it out, and moved to it the following night. What a great decision. Here we had a waiter (Demir from Croatia) and his assistant (Budi from the Philippians) that really raised the bar of superior service. We were never at a want for anything, they made sure of it. All cruises should be forewarned, in order to meet our level of service on this cruise, you better bring your "A" game. On one night we enjoyed the specialty Nouveau Steakhouse. What a meal!! The food and service were excellent. We were celebrating our 25th Anniversary and everything was perfect. Activities: It seems that there was something for everyone on board. We enjoyed the casino quite a bit. I played Texas Hold'em poker and Blackjack mostly. While I would have preferred a live, dealer dealt poker game, the electronic version was alright. They only had one table, so only 10 people could play at a time. There where times when there were people waiting, so another machine might be in order. Shows: We attended one show "Jazz Hot" on the first sea day. While the show was a very impressive production, and the dancers and music were all very good, it really wasn't our kind of music. It seemed all the production shows were centered around the Jazz and Big Band theme, instead of a bigger variety of music, so we didn't attend the other shows. Debarkation: Again, a very smooth process. We left our room about 7:30 to have breakfast on the Lido deck. We found a nice table by the windows to eat and wait our turn. The Cruise Director, Stu did a wonderful job in explaining the process and keeping everyone informed of its progress. We were off the ship about 9:30, collected our luggage, proceeded through customs and were on a bus back to the airport very quickly. Again, it was a good decision to purchase the transfers as there was a very long line of passengers waiting for taxis. I just wish the airport had been a smooth. Long lines at the ticket counters and the security checkpoints, our plane with Southwest had mechanical problems, and we left about a hour late, but hey, not everything in life can go smoothly, right? Overall Impression: For our first cruise, WE LOVED IT!! We already put money down for a future cruise on Carnival. It took a little getting used to the sounds and movements of the ship, but after a couple of days, we hardly noticed it. Guess we had to discover our 'sea legs'. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Itinerary: 12/6 - 12/10; San Diego, to Cabo San Lucas (for the day), and back to San Diego. Mas: The service (mostly); Nouveau Steakhouse. Mas o Menos: The food Menos: The constant sales pitches; lousy TV; no bar ... Read More
Itinerary: 12/6 - 12/10; San Diego, to Cabo San Lucas (for the day), and back to San Diego. Mas: The service (mostly); Nouveau Steakhouse. Mas o Menos: The food Menos: The constant sales pitches; lousy TV; no bar food?! I will start with my rave reviews. Our waiter, Melvin, and our stateroom steward, Hery, were excellent. Lighthearted conversational exchanges, and serious attention to good service, describe my experience of them. They were a joy. My second rave goes to the Nouveau Steakhouse. I had brought a bottle of champagne to enjoy, which the staff had placed in an ice bucket, at our table and ready to go. A nice touch. The service was impeccable: attentive, but not hovering. The only demerit was that the dress code, stressed to me when I made our reservation, was apparently overlooked for a neighboring table, the diners at which had donned logo T-shirts, jeans and tennis shoes for their steakhouse evening. That one glitch aside, the food was delicious, across the board. I give an extra thumbs-up for my porterhouse steak, which was tender and done to medium-rare perfection, and my wife's surf and turf was equally delightful (according to her; I was way to busy with my giant porterhouse to steal a bite). Eating at the steakhouse, while an extra expense that I dithered about spending, was worth every penny. Now to the not-so-good. "Raffle" is a code word for "sales pitch," on this vessel. We put our names in for the spa raffle, and the process was interminable, with constant punctuations of descriptions of spa and gym services. It was an investment of 30 minutes, all told, for nothing more than a discounted massage and facial for my wife. Most of the service on-board was very good, but there was one glaring exception. My wife was allowed in to the dining room on the third morning, along with two other diners, right at the cut-off time (10:00, I think). It was stressed to her that the kitchen would close soon, so she ordered for me. This was all well and good, but the staff proceeded to serve us with uncharacteristic indifference. When one of the other diners at our table said, in a very nice way, that she wasn't happy with her eggs, I had to step in to let the waiter know that she should get them re-cooked to her satisfaction. I requested a bagel, and without having chosen what kind, had a toasted bagel more or less dumped on my plate. Coffee wasn't refilled without request.... My feeling is that, if one is seated, one is not unreasonable in expecting solicitous service. I mean, the food is not great; it's the service that makes dining enjoyable. Which brings me to the food. Other than the steakhouse, the food was just so-so, on the Spirit--often tepid and not well seasoned. The eggs over easy were good, as was the Indian fare I ate on the first night. Across the board, the desserts were too sweet and/or otherwise failed (WAY too much caramelized sugar on the creme brulee; no flame on my cherries jubilee), and the bread was often stale and not offered often enough. And what's with no bar food? Not even nuts or pretzels? Frankly, I would have bought more drinks if I'd been able to snack while I was at it. My last "menos": the lousy TV. It was an old box TV, not a flat-screen, but, more than that, it was IMPOSSIBLY slow. The interactive menus were a joke. I only tried one time to deal with that "offering." The regular TV was OK, but only OK: response was slow, and channel selection sucked. No ESPN, and hardly any stations. I ended up watching the movies we'd brought, and the GPS station showing the ship's progress. I don't think I'll be cruising again. It was a fair amount of money for less than I'd expected. Plus, there's the sea to contend with. While the trip to Cabo was really nice, seas got heavier and heavier on the way back, to the point where the show was canceled and there were sick bags placed around the ship. Frankly, I'd rather be on land...or on a sailboat. :) Read Less
Sail Date December 2010

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