13 San Diego Singles Cruise Reviews

This was my Number 1 bucket list trip. The itinerary was perfect but the ageing ship presented many plumbing issues, some cabins were flooded and a few unlucky passengers had to be moved several times. Bathroom flushing issues were taken ... Read More
This was my Number 1 bucket list trip. The itinerary was perfect but the ageing ship presented many plumbing issues, some cabins were flooded and a few unlucky passengers had to be moved several times. Bathroom flushing issues were taken care of in a timely manner. One deck had problems with no air conditioning. One of the two hot tubs was closed for most of the 33 days ..I mainly ate at the Lido buffet which served a variety of entrees and sides and the food was moist as long as you got there early. Dining room service is always slow. I had a lunch and a dinner in the Pinnacle,and was disappointed with the quality of the food. Fish was dry and the cioppino featured halibut that I couldn't pierce with a fork. Service was excellent. Desserts were always plentiful and the pastries were great. The WWII crowd loved the entertainment which featured a harmonica player, an accordion player, a magician, a comic, a violinist, and a former Olympic gymnast. Different movies were featured daily and could be viewed on the TV the next day. I did enjoy the daily Cooking demonstrations and the presentations on Gauguin. I chose this line for the itinerary but the steep single supplement was tough on my pocket. A majority of the ports were tendered, which presented many issues for the aged crowd. The first two ports were tendering fiascos due to mechanical issues that we were granted a one hour open bar from the captain. I would not sail this ship again, and rumor has it that it has been sold and is getting a total rebuild. This was my third HAL cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
This was my first 30 day cruise - which I assumed would be a little too long - but wanted to go because of the places it went LOVED the cruise - MOST locations - the ship is showing it's age the crew was fantastic - best ... Read More
This was my first 30 day cruise - which I assumed would be a little too long - but wanted to go because of the places it went LOVED the cruise - MOST locations - the ship is showing it's age the crew was fantastic - best crew I have ever seen on a ship - best after nearly 10 other cruises I will gladly take another cruise again - there were few younger people on the ship but most were so friendly and enjoyable - Open dining is a great feature and I will only EVER use that - it gives so much freedom the entertainment was quite good - some better than others as you would expect = but all in all pretty good - the ship was steady - but had leaks so many times - with buckets standing 1/2 full of water seen all over the place Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
As a senior, solo traveler I choose Azamara firstly because of the itinerary. and then because it is such a friendly environment. The lectures are varied and really interesting, My last cruises have had a bridge director on board which ... Read More
As a senior, solo traveler I choose Azamara firstly because of the itinerary. and then because it is such a friendly environment. The lectures are varied and really interesting, My last cruises have had a bridge director on board which makes for well organized sea day bridge sessions. I also enjoy the trivia sessions and of course being smaller ships, they are often able to access ports the larger ships cannot. The shore excursions from the ship are ideal for anyone traveling alone in countries with which they are not familiar and yet another opportunity to meet fellow passengers.. .The refurbishment last year has created a really refreshed environment with better use of the public spaces. I think too the efficient and always helpful staff across the ship make it a most relaxing holiday experience. I like the fact that solo travelers are welcome in the dinning room at night and are assigned to one of the larger tables-usually with couples or other solo travelers. Overall a wonderful way to spent a month each year. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
As this was our 10th Azamara, we were looking at returning to the Quest with great enthusiasm. Our on board experiences again did not disappoint. Other reviews talk about the white nights, Azamazing evening and the like so I don’t see ... Read More
As this was our 10th Azamara, we were looking at returning to the Quest with great enthusiasm. Our on board experiences again did not disappoint. Other reviews talk about the white nights, Azamazing evening and the like so I don’t see the need to revisit them in this review other than say that the signature events are exciting, anticipated and very much enjoyed. The advantages of the size and ambience of the R Class ships, Quest (and Journey) to us outweigh any negatives. To step aboard and see familiar faces amongst guests, staff and crew and to be remembered by name makes a comfortable, pleasant and enjoyable experience. The refit wasn’t a new experience for us as we’d been fortunate to have had 32 days on board straight out of dry dock last year. The Quest is a ship not only well loved but also well maintained and extremely clean. Firstly, what a great itinerary, even with the unplanned change from Cartagena to the touristy Cozumel. Due to storm activity in the Caribbean we concur that safety of the vessel, staff, crew and guests is of top priority and the change of itinerary and subsequent fine under the Jones act was Azamara’s decision. The Panama Canal was on our bucket list and the day’s transit experience didn’t disappoint. The history of the Canal is like nothing else. We loved the variety of the ports on this itinerary and without hesitation would re visit if the price were right. If it’s not on your bucket list it needs to be. The addition of the biking program is welcome by us wanting something different, hopefully (positive feedback here) the lengthy insurance form that needs completion prior to the activity is stored on board and can be reused again for future bike activities on future cruises. The ones we did were extremely well organised, fun and very enjoyable. Bike were easily to manage. Well done to those staff involved. The benefits on the self-service laundry continues to be an undervalued addition to your cruise price. The machine are smart, efficient and leave no one guessing to how long the washing needs to be ‘in’. Due to this upgrade in technology I believe that the laundry ‘protocol’ or behavior has improved to an acceptable standard and I met some lovely interesting people there, who then became ‘friends’ around the ship. Regulars will know what I mean. We met old friends and made new ones of all ages, nationalities and demographics. Over the years, we have seen some stubble and not so stubble changes on board, but on the whole we continue to be pleased with the product, service and quality of the food provided. This cruise also bought some variation and welcome additions to foods previously offered both in the buffet and Discoveries. I don’t agree with other negative review about the food as I believe it to be of high standard, tasty and surely inviting. We did mention in our mid cruise feedback form, and it was addressed immediately, that whilst acknowledging service was generally very good we did notice some delays in service in Discoveries. It wasn’t a deal breaker and we would happily return there each night if we weren’t dining in a delightfully exotic buffet or one of the specialty restaurants. The Discoveries staff do an amazing job and the attitude, flexibility and enthusiasm that they display needs to be commended. Shows where of usual standards with some enjoyable guest entertainers, sea days provided general 'something to suit everyone' experiences. Guest lecturer was popular and informative. Those activities, along with progressive trivial was the usual fun 'tongue in cheek' laugh at those more serious about it than our team. You could clearly do as little as wished or be quite active. As always under the competent helm of the Captain, senior officers, experienced staff and crew the service was impeccable and the attention to detail outstanding. We do not have a problem with the size of the staterooms or bathrooms as we know that they just ‘come with’ the design of the R Class ship which we love. We however appreciate that it would be a considerable challenge for some. As Azamara moves towards the future with the release of the 2019 itineraries, I’m pleased to say we have committed to another four for the next 12 months and must soon start thinking about 2019. The downside is that they all involve long haul flights but we are excited to be introducing other ‘newbies’ to our favourite brand and are prepared to ‘share the love’ when they step aboard with us next cruise. Until then we wish all Azamara staff, especially those on the Quest (and Journey) smooth sea and fair winds. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
I sailed on one of the very first Azamara cruise when the line was spun off of the Celebrity line. I also sailed this itinerary on Holland America. When the itinerary appeared on this Azamara cruise I decided to "rediscover" ... Read More
I sailed on one of the very first Azamara cruise when the line was spun off of the Celebrity line. I also sailed this itinerary on Holland America. When the itinerary appeared on this Azamara cruise I decided to "rediscover" small ship cruising traveling an itinerary I truly enjoyed. The GOOD: The itinerary was excellent. People need not be afraid of traveling to the tourist ports in Mexico. Security was present everywhere without being intrusive. Officers with guns make some people nervous, I found them to be a comfort because even petty crime was unlikely to occur with a officer nearby. Everyone in the ports was friendly and accomodating. There was some "begging' going on but it was primarily in the form of "I am a student. Would you be willing to help me by buying such and such." They were very courteous and with a "n"o they moved on without trouble or acrimony. The Quest was immaculate and kept that way throughout the cruise. The Senior Officers were amazing. They were everywhere speaking with quests, being approachable, watching shows, interacting wherever they could. As an example, upon returning from the 17 hour excursion to the Copper Canyon on Valentine's Day, the Captain was on the pier and greeted everyone upon their return and personally handed every lady a rose! There were two lecturers. One was outstanding and the other was good. The shows were varied and generally excellent. There is a free (including detergent) self service laundromat. In addition there were three laundry specials offered during the cruise which involved a set price for a bag of laundry done by the crew. The buffet was outstanding! We never had to wait or justle for a table. The food was excellent! It ranged from hot dishes to cold dishes with a surprisingly wide variety. It is doubtful that you would not find something that you would enjoy. These comments were true of breakfast, lunch and dinner. The BAD: The dining room was not so much bad as it was terribly disappointing. When i sailed on the Quest last time, the Captain informed me that they had 150% of the budget for food per person as compared to other cruise lines. That ratio has obviously changed. The menus were static with two Chef features every night. The food was rather ordinary and we never had a Wow! meal. However, in all honesty we found the food better and the atmosphere better in the buffet area so we ate more often in that locale. The other problem in the dining room was that if you were willing to sit with other at a table service would not begin until they filled the table - 5 minutes, 10 minutes and we waited at leaast 20 minutes one night. We did not find that acceptable. The service in the dining room was iffy. The cabins are small. In fact they are the smallest cabins I have ever been in since my first days of sailing with Royal Caribbean. The bathroom was even smaller. There is no way for an average sized person to sit straight on the commode. There is no way for an average size person stand in the shower without having a part of your body clinging to the plastic shower curtain. This was my 40th cruise and the worst sized cabin of the lot. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Beautiful San Diego,We arrived 1 day early, Dec 3rd, Watched the sunset at Sunset Cliffs.There was the evening Christmas Parade. The King's Inn, authentic Mexican food for dinner next door. Embarkation at 1.00pm was very fast ... Read More
Beautiful San Diego,We arrived 1 day early, Dec 3rd, Watched the sunset at Sunset Cliffs.There was the evening Christmas Parade. The King's Inn, authentic Mexican food for dinner next door. Embarkation at 1.00pm was very fast and our luggage was in our room within the hour.Correction, my luggage was missing, regardless We headed up to Lido Deck 8 like veteran cruisers for lunch...Asian curry noodles and rice quite authentic. Checked with Security where my bag was held and my small travel iron was confiscated until Ensenada.You can not pack extension cords either. My cabin was Ocean View 3343 mid deck, near the Clock Tower Atrium....which was beautifully Xmas decorated with gingerbread houses, train set.Christmas trees lights.. Cabin was great,, quiet and equidistant both ends of the Amsterdam, La Fontaine Dining room and Queens Lounge..Must mention that my Cabin Stewards Agus and Made were warm, friendly and unobtrusive, kept the cabin very clean and tidy. I look forward to the Towel Art and be surprised every evening. All the ports were excellent, You are in Paradise, The ship excursions were pretty good but We decided to rent a car where We can and explore the islands on our own. HAL ships' ON LOCATION .We had Kainoa who gave us lectures on Hawaiian Culture, History and personal stories of the islands, advice,maps, guidelines to plan your day ashore,the many places to see,and shore excursions. There were the Hula Dancers performances and Hula lessons.Ukulele lessons,Hawaiian Lei making classes ,....A deeper Hawaiian experience. Dec 4th, 5 lovely fun filled sea days,This beautiful ship had fresh flowers everywhere. I read books by Dean Koontz and Jeffrey Archer in The Exploration Cafe Library. Dec 10th, HONOLULU (Oahu). We took the bus transit to Hanauma Bay, for swimming and snorkeling,Not environmentally correct to walk on the coral and rocks,then a long walk on Waikiki Beach, and some shopping for a Ukulele (Better buy on Amazon). i've been to the Pearl Harbor Memorial before .. there wasn't enough time to do more. HILO (Hawaii) Dec 11th..We drove up to Mauna Kea (13 796 ft) At 9200 ft,The Onizuka Center, the road to the summit was blocked off because of frozen ice, so We decided to drive South to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.(original plan was to do this from Kona) Moana Loa was spewing lava before the mist covered everything. Took a walk through the Thurston Lava Tube. At the shoreline of black lava fields, Kilauea was actively erupting lava into the sea, shooting massive plumes of smoke and ashes into the sky that can bee seen from afar. Next day, Dec 12th KONA, There was no car rental shuttle.It's USD28 to get to the car rental and USD28 back so no car rental. We did the Hop On for USD15 each,At the beach stop,James went snorkeling with his Go Pro and I walked the tidal pools and beaches.Saw 5 turtles and lots of yellow fishes..James did the Atlantis submarine (USD85).while I went shopping. 6 packs of Macadamia nut chocs ($24) at Target and Ross is my favorite for bargain hunting, shoes, dresses and fine Italian soap.(Bulgari 100ml parfum $30). Dec 13th NAWILIWILI (Kauai). We drove through Lihue to Waimea Canyon,The Grand Canyon of Hawaii.Don't just stop here, keep on driving to the very end of the road and from here you can see the North shore of the island, the jagged cliffs overlooking the sea.here was where they filmed Jurassic Park. A stop at Wailua Falls, there was a rainbow, before heading back to the ship. Dec 14th LAHAINA (Maui). Make sure your car rental pick-up is at JHM Airport.(not Kahului Airport which is too far from Lahaina) and the last car rental shuttle return to pier is 4.00pm ($20 cab return to Pier at 6.30pm). Drove up to Hakeakala National Park, dormant volcano, elevation 10,024 ft. We were above the clouds !!!! Nature enthusiasts would love the unique flora , silver swords. THE ROAD TO HANA, yes, We decided to do partway of this road, time permitting because We don't know when We'll be back this way again, just to say "We were there.". Narrow winding road through rain forest.Stopped at a fruit stand, On the way back, We went to the beach to watch the surfers.I had a Maui shave ice for $5, don't do that, not natural flavoring, inedible I had to throw away. It's my birthday, the dining room staff sang a Happy Happy song, which also works for anniversaries or anything else (I speak the language) and also a Birthday cake. If they sang in reverse, Am I one year younger You think? The 5 sea days to Ensenada, Mexico Dec20th, a seaside town with a wet fish market, lots of touristsy shops.Had a walk around and back to the ship for TEA., delicious scones with berries preserve and clotted cream.Earl Grey. Dec 21st, San Diego.Last breakfast.Disembark,Took the shuttle to the airport USD10. The HiGH POINT of this wonderful and special cruise was the Scenic Sailing of Kilauea Volcano 10.00pm.I videoed from the ship's bow.The lava flowing into the sea, bright orange red spewing up against the dark night.Lots of steam and smoke. Captain Fred Eversen is cool. The Amsterdam Dancers and Singers and the other entertainers were Super Excellent. The Culinary Art Centre was standing room only, Lots of activities like Trivia and stuff.... Cruise director guys were cool. The food was Excellent and ALL the staff did their best to make this an amazing wonderful cruise. I did not win the $25,000 Bingo, ;( I did not win the Cruise Bingo. ;( Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
I’m a 34 year old male who sailed solo on the Norwegian Sun from San Diego, CA, USA to Valpraiso, Chile from November 2, 2016 to November 19, 2016. I’ve sailed with many different cruise lines but have found NCL to meet most of my ... Read More
I’m a 34 year old male who sailed solo on the Norwegian Sun from San Diego, CA, USA to Valpraiso, Chile from November 2, 2016 to November 19, 2016. I’ve sailed with many different cruise lines but have found NCL to meet most of my needs and as such this was my 24th cruise with them although my 37th cruise overall. I’ve sailed on other cruise lines including Celebrity, Princess, Carnival and once on Royal Caribbean. How I structure my reviews is on a day by day basis of what I did and my thoughts on what I did. Hope you enjoy the review…. DAY 1 – Embarkation & San Diego Since the ship had just returned from Groove Cruise Cabo, a full ship charter, it took longer than normal for the ship to be cleared to start embarking the next guests. I was on back-to-back with this charter so I didn’t get off the ship until 11AM. Since the ship was still not cleared at that point, I headed to Starbucks and made a few calls before heading back to the terminal. When I arrived back to the terminal, I queued with other guests to get back through security and walked right onto the ship. I’m sure others on this voyage will tell you embarkation was a mess but for me it was super easy! I dined for lunch in Seven Seas where service was fast and friendly while waiting for my new cabin to become available. I swapped from an ocean view on Groove Cruise to a balcony on this cruise. Since the prior cruise went a little longer, rooms were not announced as ready until after 2PM. I just hung out in the dining room until they were ready. Balcony Stateroom – Deck 10 – Cabin 0053 Located right by the aft stairwell, this cabin was in great condition for the ship’s age. Everything functioned as it should have. The noise from above was from chairs and tables being dragged in the Sports Bar. This would happen infrequently so it wasn’t loud or annoying. I’m a night owl so the tables and chairs moving was encountered in the early evening when people were assembling sides for watching football games and the like. The cabin came with a terrycloth robe, soap, lotion, coffee maker (which was changed during the voyage) and a mini-bar. Noise from the aft stairwell was rarely heard and I couldn’t hear my neighbors at any point during the voyage. Since my luggage was waiting for me when the staterooms were marked as ready, I went ahead and unpacked while waiting for muster drill. There was some confusion when muster arrived as my old muster station was on my keycard and not the new one. I looked at the back of the door to make sure mine had moved as I went from forward to aft. I went to the muster station on the door and they saw the keycard and sent me down to the other muster station forward. I got there and they couldn’t find me on the manifest for that station and sent me back aft. I went back to the person and they found me on the list. Turns out when my new keycard was printed at guest services they actually re-printed my old room’s keycard, not the new one so when I tried to get back into my cabin it wouldn’t let me. Quick stop to guest services got that fixed. I headed up on deck to see the Feel Free Sail Away Party. The cruise staff were trying but clearly no one was interested in partying and a few people danced but the few souls hanging around the pool deck were just watching, not participating. The music was what you’d expect for a normal cruise sailing. For me after Groove Cruise, it was culture shock. I stuck around until the cruise staff took off which was about 45 minutes after the start of the party and then went around the ship to catch cast off from different vantage points. At 5:30PM there was the solo traveler’s meet up in the Havana Club. There was a huge group of solos this cruise, largely bolstered by NCL’s offering of a solo cruiser discount on the voyage. Our social hostess for the cruise was Benjeel from the Philippines. Lovely lady but the first night even she was overwhelmed with the sheer number of guests who showed up. Dinner was arranged for solos at two times, 6PM and 8PM. At 6PM most of the solos disappeared and went to the dinner. I stayed behind at the Havana Club and chilled as the Friends of Dorothy was also here at 6:30PM. After the Friends of Dorothy gathering, I headed back to the cabin to get ready for dinner at the Seven Seas dining room. After a nice dinner of I can’t remember what I ate, I headed to the 9PM variety show. STARDUST SHOWTIME: Welcome Aboard Show This was a nice introduction to some of the acts we would see during the early part of the voyage. The production cast performed a couple of dance numbers while the Norwegian Sun show band also performed. A couple of divas came out and did a few songs and the magician came out as well for a few acts. The ship’s senior staff were also introduced during this event. It was entertainment for the night. Afterward, given how exhausted I was from Groove Cruise I went to bed. DAY 2 – SEA DAY After going to bed so early the previous night compared to the last voyage, I was up at 4:30AM wide awake. I purchased the unlimited wifi package and did some work on the balcony as the sun was coming up and then went to breakfast in the main dining room. I love fruit so almost the entire order for breakfast was fresh fruit and yogurt with some French toast on the side. All of it was presented and prepared well. At 11AM there was the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet with the ship’s officers and fellow cruise guests. We took part of the venue at the Observation Lounge for the gathering. All the senior officers were in attendance and offered to assist us in any way with any issues we had before getting off the ship. They all provided us their handy phone numbers which was very nice of them. Brian Watlers, the Hotel Director came over afterward and talked with me a bit as he remembered me from several cruises I’d taken on the Norwegian Jewel. In the early afternoon after a buffet lunch, the ship held the first welcome back party for Latitudes guests. It was so large that they held it in the Stardust Theater. I asked for a Sprite and Vesna Campos, the Food and Beverage Manager saw to it that I received it. I floated around the ship for the rest of the afternoon and got some sun while checking out the DJ’s afternoon pool side set. I got some sun for a bit and then headed back inside to get ready for dinner and the solo’s gathering at 5:30PM. I skipped the solos dinner again tonight in favor of meeting more people at the Friends of Dorothy but there was a large turnout again for the 6PM dinner time. STARDUST SHOWTIME: Las Vegas Tenors I sat for the early show at 7PM and watched these three very talented vocalists perform together and individually to some great tunes spanning many different genres of music. I enjoyed their show and a lot of guests seemed to as well since they received a standing ovation. After the show was over, I went to dinner with some new friends made along the way. Norwegian’s Night Out Party At the encouragement of the solo’s hostess, I checked out the Norwegian’s Night Out in Dazzles Disco. It was all older music as the average age this voyage was 64. I stayed for a couple of songs and watched the cruise staff try and rope people in for dancing and then went to bed. If the music was anything more current than the 60s and 70s, I might have stated but I was exhausted and the music was putting me to sleep. DAY 3 – SEA DAY After working a bit on the wifi and then getting some breakfast it was off to the Behind-The-Scenes ship tour for Platinum Latitudes members being hosted by Andres Dos Santos from the CruiseNEXT desk. We were shown the I-95, ship’s laundry, production back stage in the Stardust Theater and finally the ship’s galley. The tour is hosted at different points by the department heads. It’s a really nice overview of how the behind the scenes on a ship functions and a perk of being a Platinum Latitudes member. Loyalty does have its rewards! After a quick bite to eat for lunch, I went to the gym for a little bit before going up on deck and catching some sun. The sun was setting later so it was perfect. Headed back for a quick shower and change and went to the solos gathering. Tonight I joined the 6PM group at dinner and shared a table with 11 other guests. It was a bit busy with one end of the table being a higher age demographic than me and the other side being about my age. It kind of split up the table along those lines and people were not cross-talking between the two groups. One thing I can’t stand is dining alone at dinner. As a solo traveler, I’m accustomed to doing most things on my own but dining for dinner solo is not my favorite. STARDUST SHOWTIME: DIVAS 2 After seeing a tease of them in the embark day’s variety show, I was skeptical of this performance and whether or not it would be any good. Individually the two can sing nicely but when combined it’s worse than nails being scratched on a chalkboard. The African American vocalist could get higher notes and seemed to be having more fun with it than the other girl. I did stay through the whole performance as I did need something to do before the disco got going. I would not recommend this show. At 10 PM Dazzles flipped to an open format with the DJ Onyx. I stayed for the first few songs which were again stuck in the 70s but it was so quiet. No one was in there except a handful of older people. The scene was dead so I went to bed. Turns out this cruise saved me a fortune in alcohol expenses as I only drink if the nightclub is good and the music makes me want to stay. DAY 4 – SEA DAY After a leisurely working breakfast, I headed to the gym for another workout session. The gym on the Norwegian Sun is well appointed with cardio equipment ranging from elliptical machines and treadmills to bikes and rowing machines. There’s also a number of weight resistance machines working just about every major body part and then there’s a small assortment of free weights. The layout is functional. If you want to do any form of stretching you have to go into the aerobics classroom next door. While there might be a seminar being taught by Bogdan, the personal trainer, you can still use the back of the room without issue so long as you’re quiet. After a nice lunch it was back up to the forward deck to catch some sun and get a nap in. Seems like the sea days were meant to be workout and sun time. While the ship had trivia, bingo and the usual suspects of towel animal folding and fruit carving demonstrations, I just chose the more leisurely route. Tonight at 5:30PM I went to the solos gathering and again accompanied them to dinner. During dinner service this night (I think), Amber Strings came and performed for the dinner service. These girls are amazing and do several classical numbers and different shows throughout the cruise in the atrium and various other venues. STARDUST SHOWTIME: Las Vegas Tenors Wait, didn’t I just review that? Well it’s a long cruise so Las Vegas Tenors came back for a second show with new songs to be sung. Again, these guys did not disappoint and belted out some great favorites from Opera to Rock ‘N Roll hits. When you think of tenors you usually think of boring but these guys really are good. I was happy they had a second show. There was no point even staying up for Dazzle’s Disco as it was advertised as having the 50s and 60s sock hop so I just went to bed. DAY 5 – HUATULCO, MEXICO NCL SHORE EXCURSION: Huatulco Archeological Site and Market Shopping I had myself convinced I wasn’t going to do a shore excursion at this port call and just hang out on the beach right at the end of the pier. Well after 3 sea days and the ship being completely dead after 10PM, I was itching to do something. Elysabeth at the Shore Excursion desk was honest with me and said this shore excursion did contain a bit of shopping but I decided to book it anyway. It turns out due to mobility limitations we didn’t spend that much time shopping and instead spent more time at the ruins!! The Copalita ruins are still being excavated but they give you a peak into Zapotec, Mixtec and Aztec merchant lifestyle and how they went about processing new people into the colony. The tour guide was quite knowledgeable as we were going around the site and had some of the different myths about the site. There’s still a lot of wiggle room on what actually went on here. Given the artifacts that are at a museum as you enter, the guide believed it was more merchant trade compared to any of the other stories! While on this lovely tour I met two Australian ladies as well who made the tour that much more enjoyable! I would recommend this tour! Back on the ship, the two ladies I met on the tour decided to have a drink and get some food at the Great Outdoors. When the ship sailed from Huatulco I was on the Promenade Deck and when the ship swung around to head south the sunset was just amazing. This cruise I got to appreciate nature so much more than usual. In the morning before we arrived there dolphins jumping on the port side of the ship which I watched from my balcony. The sea was kind to me this voyage. STARDUST SHOWTIME: Pure Variety Tonight was the first night full production show by the Sun singers, dancers and showband. Exactly like it sounded like, the show was a variety of different songs that introduced the principal singers in the cast and the dancers to the attending guests. It was a good show!! I attended the 9PM showing after having a lovely dinner in the dining room. Not having anything on the agenda for the next port call, I tried to give Dazzle’s Disco another chance. Tonight’s theme was Dancing Through the Ages. I brought my phone with me to do some work on wifi as I checked it out. Sure enough the music again was stuck in the 70s. Never thought I would dislike the song Twist but it was being played as much as the Cupid Shuffle usually is on a regular 7 day cruise. I was amazed and bored so off to bed I went again! DAY 6 – PUERTO CHIAPAS, MEXICO Like Huatulco I had been to Puerto Chiapas before. I had seen the main city close by and the ruins and archaeological museum which is worth checking out if you’ve never gone before. However, there’s nothing much else to do. I stayed on the ship after breakfast and again did a workout and went out to the hut where the souvenirs were. I wasn’t moved to buy anything. I stopped by the pool where the crew were hanging out briefly and decided to just head back on the ship and give the crew their space. I grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed up to the forward sun deck which was empty and laid out. All in all it was a very uneventful day! SPECIALTY DINING: Teppanyaki Tonight I dined with two friends I made the previous day at Teppanyaki. If you’ve never done it before, it’s dinner cooked before your eyes with a little bit of a show. Tonight was a very personal seating as it was just us three and two ladies from the UK. It wasn’t a full table! The show was that much more intimate and the chefs took time to get to know us more. It also allowed us to customize the food with less salt and butter than is customarily use in the food preparation here. I was so thankful! The chefs did an amazing job and earned a little bit of an extra tip for their service. The wait staff were friendly and the hostess did recognize me from a previous cruise on the Jewel. When you cruise so much the crew literally become family, it was so nice to see her again. STARDUST SHOWTIME: Master Magician Greg Gleason The problem with cruising too much is you see some of the entertainers over and over again. This would be one example. If you’ve never seen Greg before he’s got a slew of slight of hand tricks and illusions. However, his show hasn’t changed since the last time I saw it so I didn’t stay for the whole thing. It is worth checking out if you’ve never seen it before though! Between having an excursion in the morning and knowing the disco would be stuck in the 70’s all night, I gave up and went to bed. It was 70’s disco night in Dazzles. DAY 7 – PUERTO QUETZAL, GUATEMALA The first new port on this itinerary for me. I was up early to get some breakfast and see the ship make its approach to the pier. The ship actually docked starboard side so I couldn’t see just how interesting debarking was. The cruise pier was actually just a metal grating and rickety to get to the mainland. I couldn’t wait to get off the thing after debarking the ship. NCL SHORE EXCURSION: COLONIAL ANTIGUA On the drive to the colonial city of Antigua, the tour guide was explaining local customs and the history of this area of Guatemala. What really was fascinating was our passing of the two volcanoes Agua and Fuego. One of them was actually beginning to erupt again. While scary and awe inspiring at the same time, the tour guide assured us we were in no danger. I took several photos and unexpectedly crossed something off my bucket list to see – an exploding volcano. The eruption wasn’t that great or big but still cool to see if you’ve never seen it before. When we arrived to Antigua, we debarked the bus and went to the cathedral and the Central Plaza before heading to the museum. The cobblestone streets and facades reminded me of mainland Spain architecture. It was amazing. Guatemalans are poor and it showed with the number of people who instantly started to follow us the whole time we were in Antigua trying to sell different things to us. When we said no, they would pop up at the next stop selling something else. I truly feel bad for these people but don’t they know this type of harassment will only cause visitors to view their country unfavorably? The tour included a typical Guatemalan lunch at a restaurant not too far from the Jade “museum.” The Jade museum was nothing more than a shopping stop that our guide left us at and then disappeared. He never told us a time to meet back up and this was just a money stop thrown on the tour. The lecture given was more about the quick differences in jade versus fake jade and to get us into their shop instead of teaching us anything. I was not pleased with how this tour ended. The tour guide at that point was flustered with a group of Asian people who were not following directions and messing up the tour for the rest of us. I could’ve ventured off on my own more if I knew the time we had to meet up. I was not happy with this tour or the guide for this. I wish I had written down the tour guides name to warn you for the future. How the second half of the tour went would have me not recommend it for you if you’re considering it. SPECIALTY RESTAURANT: CAGNEY’S STEAKHOUSE It was a lovely dinner with great company. I had the shrimp cocktail and Tomahawk steak. The steak was HUGE and so was the bone sticking out of it! It was cooked to order and cooked correctly. The service was absolutely amazing here as the restaurant was fairly quiet. The hostess came over and Vesna, the Food and Beverage Director stopped by to see how dinner service was going. It was a great night and relaxing dinner service. After a long day of touring it was needed! STARDUST SHOWTIME: Comedy of Anthony Padilla I went to the 9PM show and walked in after it started. Comedians are rarely funny on cruise ships or at least for me. I gave this guy 15 minutes and was not impressed and got up and left. I don’t know if guests were just tired or had already left but the theater wasn’t as packed this night either. With a sea day the next day I tried to give the benefit of the doubt to Dazzle’s for some nightlife. It was ballroom night in there. Unfortunately, when that event ended it stayed stuck in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and again I went to bed. My bar bill was safe for another night. DAY 8 – SEA DAY Another sea day, another leisurely working breakfast followed by a work out and then lunch and some sun in the PM. The sea days I had developed a rhythm so it was good to keep it. The ship did offer an assortment of activities to keep one busy if you wanted to stay inside but I just did my own thing. Tonight’s dinner was in the Seven Seas Dining Room aft. The hostess and the maître d for the restaurant greeted us and sat us at a nice table after by the ship’s wake. It was a good dinner service. STARDUST SHOWTIME: Master Magician Greg Gleason I know it’s a long cruise but he was back for a new show. I decided to check out what was going on after the dinner service ended. The 9PM show had already started and I decided to check it out for a bit. Again, if you hadn’t seen his act before then you’d be surprised and amazed. When he started repeating things I had seen before, I took off. Tonight was the awesome 80’s Dance Party in Dazzles. I went and checked it out for a bit and then headed to bed. DAY 9 – PUNTA ARENAS, COSTA RICA I’d been to this port before on a Panama Canal cruise. Having done the tours already which interested me, I was in no rush to get off the ship here. I spent the morning eating leisurely in the restaurant and working. I got off the ship and decided to walk around. Punta Arenas really isn’t that developed besides the free wifi you can get at the end of the pier and from the vendors who have shacks setup going down the street pedaling different foods. There is a shopping area along the water for you to buy different souvenirs. I walked down to the lighthouse at the tip of the little peninsula where the ship docks. If you go out of the pier area and take a left and keep walking along the shore you’ll come to the lighthouse. There’s a beach club down there as well that looked clean and inviting and had some restaurants that looked much cleaner than the ones by the boat. I headed back to the ship to grab a quick bite to eat before going out to explore Punta Arenas to the right side of the pier. This side was not nearly as enjoyable of a walk. The bus station was down here and if I was more adventurous or had done some research I would’ve known that this station would have taken me into a much larger town for a cheap price. Some of the cruise guests opted to do this and reported they had a good time. STARDUST SHOWTIME: ROCK YOU TONIGHT After a leisurely dinner at the Seven Seas aft dining room with good company I checked out the second show (9PM) of Rock You Tonight. It was the Sun production cast’s second production show. I’d seen it before on the Norwegian Sky and it was just as good. The production cast on this ship installed just before Groove Cruise and so they are fresh into their contract with a lot of energy and pizzazz. It showed in how enjoyable the show was! Tonight was the Tropical Deck Party poolside. I decided to give it a shot and didn’t realize it was live vocals by the band Blue Notes. They played some crowd favorites.. It was a bit windy up there but the party was scarcely attended. I went and checked out Dazzle’s Disco and it was completely dead. When Blue Notes finished and took a break I went back to Dazzles and it was still dead. Off to bed I went! Bar bill still safe! DAY 10 – SEA DAY It was a bit cloudy today so I decided to go to the gym this morning like usual after using some wifi at breakfast and being leisurely. I guess some guests opted for a workout for the first time this cruise as the weather was not the greatest. The gym was fairly packed. This is when the number of broken cardio machines became noticeable. Two of the elliptical machines were not functioning and one treadmill was broken. CROSSING THE LINE: TRADITION AT SEA This was a cheeky take on earlier seafaring traditions when crossing the equator. Since it was my first time cross the equator I was dubbed a “pollywog.” Since the location changed due to the winds and the rain up on deck, I missed the pre-sign up for a toga but that was ok. After the pollywogs went and received their anointing by King Neptune (a finger of whipped cream placed on the forehead), I went up and was anointed as well. It was a cheeky ceremony but still fun nonetheless. The cruise staff had fun with it and it was the most attended event I had seen on the ship thus far (even with the night time entertainment on the ship in the theater)! Since the weather wasn’t the greatest, I had some lunch and ventured around the ship. The spa and photo gallery folks could clearly see my boredom and when they didn’t have customers, would converse with me. It was very nice of them do to that. I guess this cruise didn’t have a lot of people buying things in either area leaving the staff friendly and welcoming to talk to all guests! STARDUST SHOWTIME: Stephen Kane Stephen’s act was entirely using a piano. I wasn’t sure what to expect and basically it was a piano recital. He seemed to appease the older crowd in the Stardust theater so kudos to him for that. After about 30 minutes, I decided to leave and get ready for my specialty dinner reservation. SPECIALTY DINING: La Cucina Tonight I had dinner with an old friend from the Norwegian Jewel at La Cucina dining room. It was a nice evening with La Cucina favorites although I can’t honestly remembered what I ordered. The service from Santhil was great! Tonight I asked DJ Onyx to play some more current music. Finally there was some current music in the disco and a group of younger people came crawling out of the wood work and danced the night away. Ok, it was about 1.5 hours but it was the BEST night of the disco the whole cruise to this point!!! DAY 11 – SEA DAY Another leisurely sea day with another leisurely breakfast and some wifi and then off to the gym for a mini workout. After the workout I hung out behind the smoke stack in a wind shelter as it was insanely windy and most of the top deck was closed. I was there until 2PM when a deck hand came by and woke me up from a nap and told me I was not supposed to be there. It was a public area so I was confused by what he was telling me. I told him I was a guest and not crew and he told me that it didn’t matter that due to high winds the area was closed and to leave! I did leave but was dumbfounded by the whole thing as it was the ONLY place besides immediately around the pool that didn’t have wind. I didn’t want to be by the pool as the people down there were doing nothing but complaining the whole cruise about the pool deck being re-surfaced. There was a group of people camped out there everyday who seemed insanely miserable and just wanted to complain about everything. I tried to avoid them at all costs. I just went back to my cabin and chilled for the rest of the afternoon. STARDUST SHOWTIME: Amber Strings After dinner in the Seven Seas dining room, I went to check out the main performance of Amber Strings in the Stardust Theater. Most guests didn’t know they were covering for an entertainer who missed the ship due to flight issues. Amber Strings are a trio of ladies who perform classical favorites with two violins and a cello. They played a host of classical favorites with some introductions to them in between. If you like classical favorites then be sure to check these ladies out! Once their performance was over I strolled past Dazzles where Blue Notes was playing and kept going straight to bed. DAY 12 – SALAVERRY / TRUJILLO, PERU INDEPENDENT TOUR: Trujillo Del Peru Specialized Tours After researching this port, I found there were two things that were critical to see, the Moche Temples and the ruins at Chan Chan. Unfortunately, NCL did not have a tour which combined both of these highlights but this independent provider did. It was a full day tour and custom made on their website for the Sun’s time in port. For a US 30 deposit, they held a spot for you in a comfy air conditioned mini-bus. The tour left out of the port without needing to take any shuttle busses. The tour took us to the Temple of the Moon and past the Temple of the Sun for about 1.5 hours. After a quick tour we headed to downtown Trujillo and the main historic center of the city. We headed to Chan Chan afterward and were in Chan Chan for about 1.5 hours touring the main temple. This tour was on-the-go but I got to see so much and the tour guide was so amazing. You couldn’t beat the price for what was given for information and sites seen. I would definitely recommend this tour provider. SPECIALTY DINING: Moderno Churriscaria After watching two people run down the pier as the ship pulled away, it was time to get ready for a huge feast. The tour did not include lunch (didn’t have the time for it) so I was famished. I dined tonight in Moderno which is a salad bar plus endless amounts of meat delivered to your table. The female passadeur was very friendly and gladly accommodated one of my friend’s special requests about the meat being cooked to well done. Traditionally the meats are served from medium to medium well. All the meats tasted great. During the dinner service, the temperatures moderated a bit in the restaurant. It was a bit chilly when we first arrived. During dinner service Grace, the hostess came over and chatted a bit and then Vesna Campos came over when she came through the restaurant. At one point we were the only guests in the restaurant. It was a great dinner service and a long one. I was HUNGRY! Definitely go here when you’re starving! STARDUST SHOWTIME: What the World Needs Now This was the third production show from the Norwegian Sun production cast and orchestra. This was based on the hits of Burt Bucharach. Again this entertainment was geared to the 1960s time period so it largely sailed over my head. The mood of the show was so mellow and chill it did put me to sleep. Out of the four production shows this cruise, this one was my least favorite. Your perspective might be different given your age. The cast was amazing but the theme of the production was not lively enough for my tastes. No time for anything else tonight but bed! DAY 13 , DAY 14 and DAY 15 – MACCHU PICCHU OVERLAND TOUR A few days before hitting Peru we received an updated itinerary for the Macchu Picchu Tour. Apparently, the local train workers on Peru Rail and Inca Rail were going on strike on the full day we were supposed to be trekking to Macchu Picchu. In order to salvage the trip for guests, the tour operator re-arranged the tour making the first day the day to see Macchu Picchu. Otherwise, the tour would’ve been cancelled. If the tour was cancelled I would have been livid. This tour was the ONLY reason why I booked the cruise! After some initial confusion about baggage it was determined you were allowed one carry-on item and one backpack up to 11 pounds on the train to be brought on the plane. We had to pick up our passports which were collected at the gangway when boarding the ship in San Diego a day prior to arriving in Peru from the shore excursions desk. In them contained the Andean passage ticket and stamp for arrival into Peru. DAY 1 – In the morning I woke up super early and ate in the buffet before heading back to the cabin. The ship had arrived while I was eating breakfast but was no longer moving. Wasn’t sure why we were not proceeding to the dock. I went back to the cabin and finished cleaning up and headed to the theater for the 6:30A meet up time. The Captain was trying to get us in early so we could get off the ship and get to the airport right away. Problem was, the Peruvian navigation pilot didn’t come to the ship until after 6:30PM and so we were no where close to docking at 7AM. This started a snowball effect on the entire day’s travels. When we debarked the ship at 7:30AM we were already behind schedule and headed for the busses immediately as directed. As we were going to leave the port, the busses went to the wrong exit and we had to spend time to loop around and head for the correct exit. Being behind schedule, this didn’t help things. When we got out of the port, we hit the Callao and Lima morning commute traffic. We sat at one intersection with a cop directing traffic for 15 minutes. Traffic was everywhere and our arrival to the airport was one hour past the time the plane was supposed to take off. When we arrived to the airport it was a like a scene out of Home Alone! We dashed through the airport and headed for the plane gate. We had to clear security. We all arrived to the gate to find the plane was already loaded with other people flying to Cusco. They were wondering what the hold up was. When I boarded the plane, the oriental group was again lagging behind taking selfies and other non-sense. When they got on the plane they argued with someone over who was sitting in what seat as some people were split for the short flight. This only further delayed us! By the time the plane was finally loaded and everyone sat down, it took forever to get pushed back from the gate. Being late meant we lost our take off slot and when we finally did push back from the gate we spent 50 minutes sitting on the run way waiting for clearance to take off. When we did finally take off, the flight was fast. Upon arrival into Cusco we were hurried to the baggage area where we were told to go outside and get into 1 of 6 vans outside waiting for us and to head to the train station in Ollanta. I picked van number 5 as the people in it looked the most abled bodied. When we arrived into Cusco that’s when I realized there were people who had no business being on this tour. NCL should insist on people having medical clearance or notes from a doctor saying they’re capable of doing the tour. These people caused further delays with their sluggishness! We took off in the vans for the train station which was normally a 1 hour and 50 minute drive. Since we were going downhill and passing cars, we were making up for lost time. However, we were still past the original itineraries train departure time. Turns out we missed our assigned train. When we arrived to the Ollanta train station there was another two car special train heading for Aguas Calientes. Problem was since we missed our train, this train had other tourists on it. We had to board the train from a dirt road on the opposite side as we were already late. We received a box lunch before boarding the train to eat on the way to Aguas Calientes. Turns out since we were late but not the last van to arrive as one had pulled over en route (presumably for guests to use nature’s restroom as the vans didn’t have one), they ended up missing the train! In total there was not enough room on the train for three tour guides and six guests. We didn’t know this happened until half way through the train ride there when a conductor came through looking for the tour leader. My tour guide Fidel was left behind at Ollanta Train Station. When we arrived to Aguas Calientes we were herded towards the bus stop to board the bus up the hill to Macchu Picchu. We boarded the bus and cut a group of others waiting. They were not too happy about us doing so. When we get up to the entrance there was a bit of chaos trying to figure out how to divide what was 6 groups into 2. While this was going on, they were closing the entry gates to the ruins!! I tried to get the tour guides attention but they were trying to work it out. A couple of other guests and I went through the entry gates since we had the tickets. I wasn’t about to be shut out after this long day of commuting! I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to get back to Cusco but figured if it was this much a mess then they’d wait for me and get me back! Turns out they did get the tour groups into the ruins and when I got my own photos and walked around a bit I bumped into Maria’s group which was moving briskly with the tour. I followed her around and she described many things and moved as fast as she could given the group size. She did a remarkable job in the 1.5 hours we were there. Before I realized they were closing the ruins from the top down and clearing each level, I tried to run up to the top level to get some photos. It was already closed and they were yelling at me to come back down. I was a little bummed about this but still got some great photos. All in all we spent 1.5 hours in this magical wonder of the world. I was happy to have seen it. I would’ve been pissed if I didn’t make it! Was it ideal? Surely not. However, NCL did deliver on seeing the ruins. Most guests could not understand that and the amount of complaining that ensued was just crazy. We got back down to Aguas Calientes to catch a later train out with a boxed dinner to eat on the train provided by another catering company in town. There was a full moon overhead in the vista dome train cars so it lit up the valley we were traveling through quite nicely. We went along a river the whole way back to Ollanta Train Station. While we were on a siding mid-way waiting for another train to head to Aguas Calientes, a lot of guests were complaining about the wait as if NCL could do something about it. When the train finally did pass, it was loaded with police and riot gear. I guess this strike was serious business! After seeing that I was thankful we were going the other way. When we arrived to the train station there were even more cops with swat gear waiting around. We re-boarded the vans to head back to Cusco and since it was all uphill it really did take 1 hour and 50 minutes this time. By the time we arrived to the Hilton Garden Inn in Cusco, it was after 11PM. The carry on luggage was already placed in our assigned rooms and all we had to do was sign and get the room keys. I was exhausted but also dehydrated so I bought two bottled waters for 4 USD. Turns out this was highway robbery and I also didn’t realize I bought two with gas (carbonated). I was too tired to turn them in and went to bed. DAY 2 – Cusco Tour Even though the tour order changed, we were still given an early wake up call and had to be ready by 9AM to depart the hotel for the Cusco city tour. We left promptly and headed for the main square to visit the Koricancha and Cathedral. During this part of the tour we encountered striking teachers from the university in Cusco. Our tour guide actually recognized some of them and he stopped to talk with him. Today we had our tour guide Fidel back. After touring the Cathedral, we went to the Saqsayhuman Fortress in the hills over Cusco. Amazing Incan architecture again on this fortress built high above the city. After a nice tour of the ruins and seeing some more alpacas, we headed to lunch at a local Peruvian restaurant. All the food served were traditional Peruvian cuisine which was welcomed and refreshing given the boxed lunch and dinner the previous day were geared for Americans (ham and cheese sandwiches). After the lunch, we returned late to the Hilton Garden Inn and had some leisure time. I ventured back into the main square area with the NCL tour escort and another lady. Safety in numbers and we were fine! We went to the main square in search of souvenir shopping. We headed down to the end of the main road and found this huge shopping plaza with tons of vendors. Most of them had roughly the same items for sale. When you found something different, you immediately bought it. Here I bought an alpaca wool poncho thing for me and magnets and calendars for gifts back home. We took a cab back to the hotel as the sun was beginning to set. For 4 USD we had a ride back from the market to the hotel door. It was so incredibly cheap!! We had to be back at the hotel for 7PM for the hotel catered dinner. When we had dinner, it wasn’t overly Peruvian fare but more Americanized with three pieces of beef and possibly Peruvian gravy. When dinner was finished I went back to the room to relax and get some sleep. Problem was we had to be up at 4AM for breakfast and up in the lobby to transfer to the airport by 5:15AM! I didn’t sleep hardly at all with this on my mind. DAY 3 – Cusco to Arica, Chile I was up before the alarm clock and went and had the hotel breakfast on the go with some cereal. I was in the lobby on time and we left promptly for the airport. Given the early hour there was no one around on the streets and we watched the sunrise as we were heading to the airport. At the airport we said goodbye to our tour guides and went through security screening. The flight from Cusco to Arica boarded promptly on Peruvian Airlines. The main reason for this was it was a charter flight all to ourselves. We took off for the short 50 minute flight to Arica. When we landed in Arica, we taxied to the gate as another plane was leaving. We waited for about 30 minutes and then were told the jet way was not working and we had to back up and be brought to the only other gate they had at the airport. It was a small airport. We did taxi and then were allowed off the plane. The Chilean authorities, just two of them, were clearing our plane one a time in the terminal. This process took quite a while. I was one of the last to get on the final tour bus to take off in a convoy to the cruise port. During the bus ride back to the port, a local guide provided information about the city of Arica and the surrounding area. She provided a brief history lesson and pointed out things to us as we arrived into the city limits. When were arrived back to the ship it was 10AM Peru time but we didn’t realize the ship jumped ahead two hours while we were off. It was really noon and it was time to eat some lunch! Thank goodness! My hunger won out over taking a city tour in Arica. I stayed on the ship and just took a nap when I finished lunch. I woke up in time to see the ship off. Since we didn’t have a hotel dinner on day 1, NCL refunded the group $100 per person. This was in replacement for the first day’s train food. When we arrived back to the ship, the guests who were displeased with the whole thing went to the shore excursion manager and by the end of the cruise NCL corporate agreed to a $200 additional refund resulting in a total of $300 refunded. The tour cost was $2,099 for a solo. I wasn’t expecting any refund for us as NCL and the tour provider did get us to the ruins, even if it was not ideal. I was happy I got to see the ruins. It’s been on my bucket list forever! Not exactly sure I would return to spend more time there. I think NCL’s reimbursement was ok given the extreme circumstances facing the tour. Maybe I’m just more understanding than most? Tonight, I dined in the aft main dining room alone as I had to get caught up on three days worth of work. Using the wifi and hanging out in the corner I had some pasta as it was the third time in my time on the ship that dinner 4 menu was served. I had some pretty spicy pasta and was thankful for it as I was beginning to get sick with some sort of cold I picked up with all the sleep deprivation in Peru. STARDUST SHOWTIME: Magic Rush with Roman and Svetlana I stopped by the late show (9PM) to catch their performance. These entertainers are professional decorated dancers who chose to include magic in the form of costume changes into their show. The show was ok. The costume changes and layers of costumers you could clearly see from the angle in the balcony I was sitting at (nose bleed). The show flowed ok and was entertaining. I don’t know if I was just exhausted or just hyper aware with all the oxygen at ground level to see how they had arranged all the costumes on their bodies. It was Latin night in Dazzles so I headed to bed. DAY 16 – SEA DAY After a leisurely breakfast and getting some work done, I went for a workout. It was simply too cold outside to go out and sun. The workout took up most of the morning and then after a nice lunch, I relaxed back in the cabin on the balcony for a bit. Before dinner there was the Platinum Latitudes party in the Observation Lounge. There were lots of Platinum guests this cruise. We were left to mingle with the senior management on the ship for a bit before heading to dinner. SPECIALTY DINING: Cagney’s Steakhouse Tonight we celebrated one of my cruise friend’s birthdays at Cagney’s steakhouse. It was her choice of where to go and tonight for a change the steakhouse was packed with people! My dinner consisted of a wedge, the shrimp cocktail and the Tomahawk steak again. The steak was so tender and juicy and cooked to perfection. I loved it again! The wait staff came over and asked for our desserts and then my birthday surprise for my friend came out. She didn’t see it coming and big thank you to Vesna Campos for getting it arranged as a surprise for her without her even having a clue! Big props to the Cagney’s team this trip. Service from the hostess to the wait staff to the cooks behind the scene was just amazing. STARDUST SHOWTIME: World Beat This was the fourth and final production number on the Norwegian Sun. Save the best for last is usually how it works. This show was new to me and I LOVED every last minute of it. Music from around the world represented in costume, dance and vocals. The cast brought such energy for this last production, it was toe tapping and amazing. What a great way to end the cruise! The tributes to Africa and Orient were especially amazing. I wish I could’ve seen it twice! Well done cast! FEATURED PARTY: White Hot Party It’s easy to do because all you do is wear white. Thankfully DJ Onyx took Dazzles out of the stone age for music and finally to current beats. There was definitely some electronic dance music coursing through those speakers. FINALLY!! It was the best night in Dazzles since one night earlier in the cruise. By midnight the format had slowed and flipped to Latin and by 12:30A I was went back, showered and headed to bed. At least the night was energetic enough that I ordered two alcohol drinks. I have to say the new prices for Grey Goose and Sprite were quite sobering. If you’re going to charge per drink more than Boston you’d better give me a Boston pour of alcohol. This measured pour for $11.50 is for the birds. It used to be $8.76 a year and a half ago! DAY 17 – COQUIMBO, CHILE After a morning breakfast it was time to get off the ship and explore with the NCL shore excursion. NCL SHORE EXCURSION: Coquimbo and La Serena We had a young tour guide from the university named Joaquin who was telling us all about the two locations. His personal story seemed more fascinating than the history tour he was giving us. It seemed like this port call wasn’t really meant to be full of history. Coquimbo had suffered from a tsunami recently and so the coastline was rebuilding from that. The buildings are designed to withstand earthquakes but not tsunamis. We made a couple of stops along our journey including to a look out with seals and sculptures where the pirates used to be. From there we headed to a lighthouse for a photo op. The lighthouse was never functionally used. Odd we would be brought to something that was simply a decoration and a tagged (spray painted one) at that. We were supposed to stop at the Archaeological Museum but for whatever reason we were not allowed in. Not sure if the place was closed or not. Finding a useable bathroom at this point was hard to come by as the public toilets in the park were out of order. People split off from the group to go to the toilet and eventually we did find one. We were then dumped at La Recova market to shop for a short bit before reboarding the bus. We headed up the hill to La Serena university to get a panoramic view of the city and Coquimbo where the ship was docked. If it was clearer it would have been picturesque but it was cloudy and cool. Unseasonable according to the tour guide. I was on lucky tour number 13! The recurring 13 theme since the date we left for Macchu Picchu was uncanny! Overall, Joaquin was a good kid. He was trying to pay his way through university getting his business administration degree. He was really young and I was surprised NCL used someone so young for the excursion. He knew his history and was a fluent translator for others on the bus. I guess I just expected something more from NCL for this excursion. It was ok but not something I would recommend. I was sick with a cold at that point so I stayed in the back away from guests and got back on the ship and relaxed. I had a farewell dinner with some of the people I met throughout the voyage in the Seven Seas dining room. Service was leisurely and it was great company. Both of them were staying on to go around the Horn but I had to return home. 22 days on the Norwegian Sun was the longest I’d ever spent on any ship! Tonight I went to the photo gallery to look over the few photos I had taken. I ended up buying a stock photo of the ship in the Panama Canal and a copy of the ships itinerary – both stock photos! One of them had to be re-printed and some Photoshop done as it showed some serious rust along the water line for the Sun. The photo manager saw to it personally and it was ready for me in the morning before I debarked. I walked around the ship a bit and said goodbye to other familiar faces and headed to bed. DAY 18 – VALPRAISO / SANTIAGO, CHILE Since my flight was not until 10PM, I booked a post-cruise shore excursion to help pass the time. NCL SHORE EXCURSION and AIRPORT TRANSFER: Wines, Horses, and Santiago Overview with Transfer Another early morning and off the ship early as the tour disembark time was 7:30AM. Our luggage was brought to the airport for us and all we had to do was disembark. The terminal for the cruise passengers is not on top of where the ship docks but a bus ride away. The ship docks in a container port!! When we bussed to the terminal we had to clear immigration again and go through metal detectors. Karma was instant for a guy who cut me to get off the ship and then cut me again to get into the terminal building. He had two oranges in his pocket from the ship. This was not allowed and we were repeatedly warned. Since the ship had been in Chilean waters for two ports, the customs guy was not impressed and hauled the guy away to fine him! Rudeness of guests this voyage was irritating even during disembark! We traveled to Casablanca Valley and had a tour of the Michael Cole vineyard and had a wine sampling. After the sampling, we were given some free time to shop for the wines. While the wines were cheap, getting them to the USA was an expensive proposition. One lady bought a box of wines to bring home and was going to ship them from the airport!! After we finished at the vineyard we headed over to Estancia el Cuadro for a horse demonstration along with some traditional Chilean folk dancing. After the show we were brought to the wine museum and out to their vineyard to be shown the differences between the grape leaves that make all the different wines. Since it was early in the growing season, most of the grapes were not formed. It was the leaves that you could tell the difference by if you were paying close attention. Pretty neat! We had lunch at Estancia el Cuadro while having some typical Chilean music and folk dances peformed. It was interesting to see different instruments used and one local Chilean instrument which the tour guide explained to me. When she was showing it to me it fell apart into several pieces on the ground. I felt so bad. We got it all fixed up and off she went to a wedding which was being held on site. This place was absolutely stunning and was designed for weddings and functions. When lunch was over we headed to Santiago for a brief overview of the city. During the city tour we stopped at an artisanal village called El Pueblo de Los Dominicos. Full of handicraft items we were given some 25 minutes to shop here. Not nearly enough time to buy anything as the vendors closest to the entrance charged a lot more than if you went to the back. Shopping on this cruise was at a premium on most of the tours and this one was no different. We headed to the Sheraton hotel to dump off guests who booked a post-cruise hotel stay through the cruise line. We then headed for the airport arriving just before 5:30PM. It was a long day and I was thankful to be at the airport knowing the journey to get home was getting closer. The tour did the job of filling the day and keeping me busy. For the price paid, it was ok. SUMMARY This cruise was strictly for Macchu Picchu. I saw what I came on the cruise to accomplish and saw some pretty neat sites along the way. Would I recommend this cruise just for Macchu Picchu? Final answer would be NO. If you want to go and see the ruins, it’s best you do something longer and take into consideration any labor actions that may be happening. I know NCL gave it their best and I can’t fault them for the strike or the logistical mess that was only aggravated by a series of rude guests. The six guests who missed the train and later stayed behind to catch it on the day after we flew to Arica never got to see the ruins. I got off the cruise a happy person for having to experience this wonder of the world! In comparison to Groove Cruise, the cruise prior to this one, this one was very relaxing and sedate. Expect an average age that’s way higher than on NCL’s usual 7 day itineraries. I can’t fault the cruise line for constant catering to the predominant age group on the ship. I made the best of out if that I could and got plenty of sun in as well. The gym was a welcomed addition and something I don’t usually spend that much time in on a cruise. The staff and crew were simply amazing. Vesna Campos, Food and Beverage Director seemed to be everywhere in the afternoon and evening. She runs a tight operation and was always so kind and hospitable when I saw her. I remember her from the Pearl charters. She ran those very well! Such an amazing woman and she knows her stuff! Brian Walters, the Hotel Director who has been with NCL since before I was born (wow!!) was around and always said hello. Mihaela Mocan, the Restaurant Manager would always greet me when I entered the Seven Seas dining room by name and be a friendly face around the ship. I have to give a huge shout out to the photo staff as they would see me roaming the ship and talk with me when I was going through if they weren’t helping customers. They helped to keep me sane in night hours when I would hope for something lively in Dazzles to keep me from going to bed. While it never happened they were always so kind to me no matter at the gangway or in the photo gallery. The singles social hostess Jezibel was also very friendly and always beaming whenever I saw her. I think it was the end of her contract but she was giving all she had to keep the solos happy. Grace, the hostess from La Cucina and Moderno was always a welcoming sight no matter where ever on the ship I bumped into her. Carlos, the concierge who recognized me from the Jewel cruises I did back in 2009 and 2010, was a familiar face and so helpful during the cruise. Carlos saved me from having a complete anxiety attack over NCL’s changed policy about cashing travelers checks (they don’t do it anymore although it’s not published anywhere saying that). I also want to thank Kodi Oliver on the production cast for the warm welcome to the ship when I boarded for Groove Cruise 22 days prior. I would see him around the ship and he’d always say hello. He also hung out with a group of kids who were disabled which he wasn’t obligated to do. Big shout out to him for doing that. Kane on the production cast for being around and a smiling face to talk to when he would be strolling the ship or having lunch or chilling in the buffet. The cast on this ship was far more approachable than any other cast in recent memory. Last but not least Jun Serrano who was my cabin steward. He kept the place tidy and was always around to greet me and ask how my day was. In conclusion, the Sun is a humble ship. While she’s one of the older ships in the NCL fleet, she’s still in good working order. Prior complaints about sewage odors were unfounded as I took the aft stairwell constantly. The guest’s behavior on the ship I can’t fault NCL for but we went through the US election on the ship and besides a group of oriental people being constantly rude, some of the other guests after the election took license to being complete idiots. This cruise had its fill of odd characters. The crew never wavered though and I experienced excellent service no matter where I went! When I’m on NCL ships I feel at home. That’s why I’m leaving again on another NCL cruise one week after getting back from this one!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We had planned this cruise before my husband died, but he had made me promise to go even without him. I had mixed feelings but continued on with the cruise. I arrived in San Diego two days before the cruise and was able to tour the ... Read More
We had planned this cruise before my husband died, but he had made me promise to go even without him. I had mixed feelings but continued on with the cruise. I arrived in San Diego two days before the cruise and was able to tour the city before the cruise. I was also able to go to a pre-cruise dinner with some of my new Cruise Critic friends. Embarkation went smoothly for me but from what I hear there was a long wait after our group got through. We did have to wait a while before we were allowed to board but we were able to sit while we waited. I felt sorry for those who were still on the long lines waiting to check in. I had stayed at the HAL hotel (Sheraton Marina) and used the HAL transfer to the port and we arrived before the long lines started. I had a great time in spite of the weather (which only Mother Nature can control) and because of some great friends I made on Cruise Critic before the cruise. I had an obstructed view cabin. I choose this cabin because I knew it had a floor to ceiling window which gives you more light in the room. My stewards were always polite and friendly and if I needed something willing to help me. They would greet me by name every time they saw me and ask how I was doing and if I needed anything. I found the service in the MDR to be very good. I had open seating because I like to meet new people and never had a problem being seated. Depending on who I was seated with the time I spent in the MDR was perfect. Some nights we would be talking so much we didn’t realize how much time had passed. But no one every rushed us out. I prefer to eat breakfast in the MDR so did not eat that often in the Lido. I did use the Salad Bar in the Lido and also the Dive In for their hamburgers. You can ask for the hamburger without some of the toppings if you so choose. The fries were my downfall, they are great. As far as the pre-made sandwiches, I prefer to have one made to order so I didn’t eat those. I am not a sun worshiper so did not use the pool or lounge chairs on the Lido Deck. I did go and sit at a table in the shade to either listen to music by the Hawaiian group or to just sit and read. I found the entertainment to be very good. There were plenty of lectures to go to if that was what you enjoyed to do. Kainoa gave lectures on Hawaii and the Islands we were visiting. Other lectures were things I wasn’t interested in so didn’t attend. But there was so always something to do not matter what you enjoyed doing. Jorge had activities for those who liked to keep moving. He had a Westerdam Treasure Hunt, The Big Kahuna Activity Challenge, to name a few. Also there was Trivia with Mario or Pub Trivia with Jorge. For those who enjoy music there was Anna in the Piano Bar. The entertainment in the Show Lounge was also very good; from the HAL Dancers and Singers to all the other entertainers they brought on board. Through the Cruise Critic Meet & Greet I met a log of new friends and we had a lot of activities and excursions planned long before we even arrived on the ship. So I could never say I was bored or had nothing to do with all that was going on. I did most of my excursions through private vendors which my Cruise Critic friends had arranged before we even started the cruise. There were a few I did with HAL and found them adequate for the price. We did miss two ports (Fanning Island and Rarotonga) because of the weather and the strong sea swells, but that was for safety reasons. I had read of a tender on the World Cruise getting pushed into the coral that surrounds the islands in January so I agreed with the Captain’s call of not going to those islands in the bad seas. We were well compensated with both a $100 on board credit and a 15% credit toward a future cruise booked by April 30 of 2017. I have two more cruises already planned. Disembarkation was pretty smooth and I used the HAL transfer to the airport. Overall I would rate this cruise as outstanding. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
The Thanksgiving (November 27-December 12, 2013) voyage of Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas, while not a Turkey, gave fewer reasons to give thanks than it might have. For approximately two hundred passengers, the San Diego ... Read More
The Thanksgiving (November 27-December 12, 2013) voyage of Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas, while not a Turkey, gave fewer reasons to give thanks than it might have. For approximately two hundred passengers, the San Diego embarkation got off to a rocky start. On the previous cruise, Legend of the Seas was reportedly unable to recover a tender and had to leave it at its Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, final stop. When the unlucky two hundred (some Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society Diamond members among them) came to check in they were told they could not be accommodated on the cruise due to a lack of lifeboat capacity. First shocked and then angry they were mollified when clearance came that we could sail without the tender. (That boat was ultimately recovered successfully when we arrived in Cabo two days later) For the rest of us embarkation and check-in was normal, not too slow and not too fast. However, starting out with over ten percent of your passengers (some of the prestigious variety) angry or anxious is not a good thing. This was a Crown & Anchor Society “Member’s Cruise” so prestigious passengers were the norm rather than the exception. For some lesser types, a feeling of second-class citizenry was palpable during the entire sailing. Legend of the Seas is (by necessity because we were transiting the Panama Canal) the smallest ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet. Bigger ships won’t fit. It is, as a result, “quirky.” The Windjammer Buffet is significantly undersized and, therefore, always crowded. The walking/jogging track, however, at a full quarter mile in length is perfect. Many but not all of the in-cabin safes are unusual in that, rather than entering a code of your choosing for access, you must “swipe” a major credit card for access. That means you have to (otherwise unnecessarily) carry a credit card in addition to your SeaPass card everywhere you go. But don’t put that credit card in the same pocket because its magnetic stripe will eventually render your SeaPass card unusable. What were they thinking choosing credit card safes on a cruise ship? Legend does not have an outside fantail bar, devoting that potential space to an underused quiet deck outside the health club on deck nine and a mostly ignored rock climbing wall on deck ten. The wine staff is virtually invisible in the dining room. If you want a bottle of wine, you have to ask your waiter to get one of them to stop by. Some people liked the fact that they weren’t solicited to buy wine; I didn’t like it. Royal Caribbean lost a lot of revenue on this cruise as a result. Instead of buying one bottle of wine every other night, I bought only one during the entire cruise. Had I been able to, I would have purchased at least six more bottles giving Royal Caribbean a minimum of $250 more of my money. The only tender port, Cabo San Lucas, started out as a nightmare of failed debarkation logistics. Guests were forced to wait for too long to disembark and some crowding and shoving resulted. The crew was ill-prepared for unruly passengers who became impatient and exacerbated the situation. The same thing happened at our Puerto Quetzal stop that didn’t require tenders. Training will help here but they need to get on with it. The senior staff is very helpful. Maitre’d Rodrigo worked to find me a table with other solo travelers and Food & Beverage Manager Silvio Ghigo quickly acted on my request to add tables on the smoking side Viking Crown Lounge veranda to match up with similar tables on the non-smoking side. The junior staff is not so accommodating. In Cartagena the maintenance staff was power washing deck ten forward of the rock climbing wall. Elderly passengers were slipping and sliding on sudsy water flowing over the walking track. I asked both a deck steward and a climbing wall attendant to place some of the yellow “caution” cones at the wet places so people would step more carefully. Both told me that wasn’t their job. I found an officer down on deck nine who got the cones. When my pocket was picked in Cartagena (both foolish and careless on my part) I had no cash for a taxi back to the ship, I inquired of three separate Legend of the Seas Tour Guides and Tour Bus Drivers if I could hitch a ride home. “No, you didn’t buy a tour from us so we won’t/can’t help you.” Fortunately a fellow passenger (George, God bless him) stepped off one of those busses and loaned me $20 so I could get back to the ship. The Guest Services representative confirmed to me that since I did not purchase a Royal Caribbean tour I would not be entitled to a ride even though I had been robbed of my money. Later, I mentioned to Keith Williams, the Cruise Director, that Royal Caribbean should consider a possible policy change in such a situation. He wrote it all down and implied that someone would get back to me but no one did. The Senior Officers (Master Kjell Nordmo, the Staff Captain, and the Hotel Director Francois Wache, etc., are mostly aloof). Captain’s daily noontime public address announcements failed to contain interesting tidbits of real information as is, in my experience, the main reason to stop what you are doing and listen. Also, inexplicably, public address announcements are not audible on any television channel in the cabins. If you are in your stateroom and want to hear what is being said, you must step into the passageway to listen. On the talent side, Musical Director Filmer Flores delivered great shows with the most memorable performance being his solo night of classical offerings in the “That’s Entertainment Theater.” Singer Aaron Libby of the ‘singers and dancers’ is a standout. Multi-talented piano man Chuck in the Schooner Bar draws an appreciative crowd but must fight to be heard due to sound that bleeds in from the musicians playing on the adjacent Centrum Stage. The glass doors between those two venues will not stay in the closed position. Headliner entertainment was very good, led by Broadway show tune singer Michelle Murlin and variety act “Los Pampas Gauchos” who were a hoot. Foreigner’s Domenick Allen rocked the house. Cruise Director Williams doesn’t go overboard with too much personality as many of his peers do. For me, at least, he sets the perfect tone. He is at a disadvantage here, however, as his ship offers smaller and fewer venues. The final night’s “Broadway Showtunes” performance was underappreciated by guests who mostly didn’t recognize the mostly obscure selections the performers had chosen to sing. Too many guests in the “That’s Entertainment” show lounge were rude to those same performers, choosing to leave their seats and exit the theater during applause for the final number and before Cruise Director Williams made his closing remarks. There is nothing the Royal Caribbean can do about rude patrons. One strong disappointment was the port lecturer who was, to put it kindly, in way over her head. I had many conversations with fellow passengers who compared her to other lecturers on other ships and found her wanting. She read her lectures from a word-for-word script where many passages seemed to be lifted from web pages and then haphazardly pasted together. I love great shipboard lectures and none were offered here. Dining Room food and service is, as you would expect, good to very good but never great. Windjammer fare is just OK. Steakhouse Chops, on the other hand, is excellent (on both evenings I tried it) with the porterhouse outshining the strip steak. Izumi’s “hot-rock” table-top grilling concept is fun and the sushi there is very good. Izumi was severely underused by guests and I suspect it won’t last long. The Chef’s Table experience is amazing with five fine wine pairings and just the right amount of pomp and circumstance. Chef Rudy delivers a Royal meal and you can see his pride on both the plates and his face. All three specialty restaurants can be enjoyed for a discounted price of $115 per person if you buy the “Dining Package.” If purchased separately, the three will set you back $145 or more. I found “My Time” dining room service to be curt and impersonal but at the late 8:30 seating one deck below I felt both welcomed and valued. I did not dine at the early seating nor did I try room service. Late in the cruise I attempted both breakfast and lunch in the main dining room but gave up due to long lines at the doorway. We became aware of the fact that the Norovirus boarded Legend of the Seas on Day Ten of this cruise. By Day Thirteen we were in full Code Red mode with all serving tongs, beverage dispenser buttons, ice bins and more being handled exclusively by crew members. As we departed Cartagena on Day Thirteen, the unofficial word on the ship was that 98 passengers were down with gastrointestinal distress as were 40 members of the crew; just over five percent in each category. No official specific information was forthcoming (as is the practice on Cunard) so these numbers could not be verified. I was, again unofficially, told that at one point sixty cabins sported the yellow “quarantine” magnets above their doors. Having been through this twice before on ships (Cunard’s Elizabeth and on Celebrity), it is my opinion that these outbreaks are mostly the fault of fellow passengers who fail to observe proper sanitation and hygiene. However, Legend’s outdated beverage dispensing equipment and a completely unacceptable Windjammer and pool deck ice dispensing process could and should be eliminated to reduce clear points of preventable risk. (Dispensing ice from plastic bins with passengers dipping their glasses, both new and used, or handling the communal ice scoop would be a health-code violation in virtually every U.S. jurisdiction and would not be allowed) Early in the cruise, both crew and passengers, from my observation, all but ignored the ubiquitous Purell dispensers early in the cruise. Later it was “too late.” Crew members were poorly trained on gloved-hand procedures as I witnessed several using their gloved hands to smooth mussed hair, scratch noses, rub eyes or lean on unsanitized surfaces and then use that same hand to serve food or distribute utensils, cups or glassware. Again, proper training is lacking. In fairness, however, kids’ center staff and even musicians were serving food at one point and perhaps cross training those folks is not normally required. I don’t know. Twenty foot swells and gale force winds greeted the passengers on the next to last sea day out of Cartagena. Pools were closed (the Solarium pool was drained), sea sickness bag holders graced every staircase landing and decks were mostly abandoned due to high winds. Some passengers were sickened while others were exhilarated. I felt sorry for those already suffering from gastrointestinal distress on those heavy seas. On this fifteen day cruise, tuxedos and evening gowns were much in evidence on the three “Formal Nights” (Day Two, Day Eight and Day Fourteen—all sea days). There were fewer dress-code scofflaws on this trip than I have experienced on other Royal Caribbean sailings with shorts, caps, tank tops and bare feet rarely appearing where they should not be. Besides the three “Formal Nights” there were four “Smart Casual” nights in the mix with all other nights being some variation of “Casual.” Legend does not have guest-accessible laundry facilities but does run a $30 “cram all you can into this paper bag” special along with regular 48 hour laundry and dry cleaning service. Wi-Fi signals are, by cruise ship standards, strong and acceptably fast if you bring your own laptop, and, by the standard on all cruise ships, too expensive. Passengers who used the ship’s computers on Deck Eight complained of very slow speeds on what they called “outdated” equipment. Smoking is allowed in the casino but, while you must pass though the casino on Deck Four to get to the That’s Entertainment Theater, the air handling equipment spares you from too much secondhand exposure. Also, you can walk up to Deck Five and then back down to Deck Four to avoid the Casino smoke on that route if you wish. Royal Caribbean did a stellar job of finding live NFL and college football broadcasts to play in the Schooner Bar, on the Big Screen at the pool and on the stateroom televisions. First run movies were offered free of charge on the latter two venues as well. Channel offerings include CNN International (not the U.S. channel, unfortunately) and Headline News but no Fox News or MSNBC nor any of the four major broadcast networks. This cruise departed San Diego stopping in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; transited the Panama Canal; and then stopped again in ColÏŒn, Panama; Cartagena, Columbia; concluding in Fort Lauderdale. There were seven sea days. Much is written elsewhere about ports so I will leave those details to others except to recommend that excursions should be considered mandatory for Puntarenas and ColÏŒn as those port areas are unappealing in every way. Most of us commented that there wasn’t that much to do on sea days and while I agree, I will credit that in part to the small ship’s lack of venue opportunities. Trivia competitions were usually oversubscribed for the size of the Schooner Bar and seats in the Centrum for before dinner entertainment were hard to come by. Trivia teams are limited to six members. On the first day I found myself, as a solo traveler, locked out since I would be the prohibited “number seven” on any team I approached. Trivia is “progressive” so if you don’t find a home early, you have a tendency to be left out for the balance of the cruise. The Canal transit was, for most, both the reason to book this cruise and the highlight. Many passengers who rose early to grab the best viewing spots later commented, however, that they could have easily slept in. It turns out that if you closely observe one lock experience, frankly, you could skip the others if you wished. Those of us who were fascinated by the intricacy of both the Canal’s construction and operation were rewarded with insightful commentary from a local narrator that Royal Caribbean brought on board. He offered up just the right amount of public address information, neither weighing us down with constant chatter nor failing to anticipate a detail about which we might be wondering. He made up for a sub-par destination presentation that day before by our on-board lecturer. Given the choice, I personally would not choose to sail aboard Legend of the Seas again. But, I would transit the Panama Canal again. Since the new wider Canal that will accommodate larger vessels won’t open for another couple of years, I am told that Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor loyalists have only the Legend available for Canal transits. Maybe they ought to consider trying another line for this itinerary to see what the competition has to offer. I am sure that Royal Caribbean would be happy to welcome them aboard a Celebrity ship even if their points won’t count. I am told that Crown & Anchor privileges will be available to them but, given how these Diamond and Diamond Plus members seem hooked on Royal Caribbean points, I suspect shifting to a different brand may be unthinkable to them. For me, I wish Royal Caribbean would take a look at what hotel chains such as Marriott, Hilton, Starwood and others do: make their frequent cruiser program points inclusive of all their brands (Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara). They would likely have all my cruise business if they would do that. And, I would be a Diamond Plus member (instead of not quite Platinum) by now. Until then, I have divided my purchases (78 nights at sea in 2013) trying various providers from Royal Caribbean to Carnival to Princess to Cunard to Celebrity to SilverSea. Some folks don’t know what they’re missing and I suspect that is the way Royal Caribbean wants it.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Good points: -Zaandam much better than the Oosterdam in decor, service and company response to problems. Had a bad leak in my suite ceiling that took days to correct, but received a very generous shipboard credit and a cookbook plus ... Read More
Good points: -Zaandam much better than the Oosterdam in decor, service and company response to problems. Had a bad leak in my suite ceiling that took days to correct, but received a very generous shipboard credit and a cookbook plus apology note as compensation. Compared to the Oosterdam, where I had worse problems with cabin and an injury caused by HAL and I got no compensation or apology. -Shore excursions were excellent -Food was pretty good, Pinnacle Grill filet was outstanding, La Cirque fantastic -Entertainment at times was excellent -Embarkation and disembarkation very smooth -Hotel the night before, booked through my travel agent, Sheraton Marina in San Diego very good (not necessarily affiliated with HAL.) -Although I had a very bad spa experience with a too-young and experienced staff person, the spa manager quickly refunded the hefty sum I had paid in advance. -LOVE the Thermal Suite on HAL, though this one was WAY small. Pool was the size of a hot tub. BUT there was rarely anyone in the room, and what a way to relax! -Explorations Cafe really spacious, comfortable, and service was good there. -HAL continues to have the best guest to tonnage ratio, with lots of space and non-crowded atmosphere. However, at times this could be a negative for a solo traveler! Not so good points: -Service was not up to par for the price and supposed reputation of HAL Dining room staff seemed worn out or overworked, repeated requests needed for simple items like iced tea, etc. Chaotic, unacceptable situation with dining room seating. Some sort of "reservations needed" policy we were never notified about- "on your own" dining turned out to receive annoyance from restaurant manager, no table or a very long wait, and never could figure out what kind of system or lack of they were using. Many people annoyed, very long lines. 75% of the time, service overall could not in any way be described as "luxury," "gracious," or "outstanding." -Even though the restaurant food was good, the room service food was HORRIBLE. Unacceptable, poorly presented, served with resentment, and hardly edible. -Cabin steward(s) just okay. Just doing their job, and since you pay $11.50 per day for tips overall, felt underwhelmed so didn't tip them more. Was slightly put off by Cruise Director's heavy pitch on the last day for tips to the staff, when indeed, no staff member stood out for doing anything other than their job. -Unavoidable but still annoying culture/ language gap makes trying to complain or explain needs met with blank looks, non-responsiveness, or incorrect/ poor resolution, if any. Tendency to insinuate blame on the guest and a constant theme of NOT showing the kind of gracious, over the top service HAL advertises. A big gap here! -Very unclear when formal nights were- advance notice was the typical 2, but turns out there were 3, with hardly any advance and not clear notice. How are you supposed to pack or plan for that? Lack of enforcement of dress code for formal nights. -For the price I paid for my verandah suite, it was a rip-off. Very small, the bathroom was tiny, and the "jetted" tub was a disgrace. Not big enough for an adult, and all the jets didn't work. -The Zaandam is looking a little shabby, and for the price of my cruise, would expect stain-free carpet and not to see taped-together wood in a couple places. -This is the nature of HAL, so is more a mis-match for me as a youthful solo traveler, but a total lack of fun atmosphere. No club to dance, people my age acting much older, grumpy (how can you be unhappy when you get to go on a cruise???) and not everyone was unfriendly, but almost everyone seemed confused why someone would cruise alone. -NO gathering for solo travelers as I had seen on the Oosterdam schedule!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Ship Info: Carnival Elation Activities: Great activities for guests planned daily from hairy chest contest, guest talent show, karaoke, comedy shows, and live bands playing through out the ship. Service: Amazing service from the DJ, ... Read More
Ship Info: Carnival Elation Activities: Great activities for guests planned daily from hairy chest contest, guest talent show, karaoke, comedy shows, and live bands playing through out the ship. Service: Amazing service from the DJ, waiters, stewards staff. The entertainment staff was super friendly and professional. room service was always fast and very friendly. the photographers on the ship remembered teh guests and even said Hi when we saw them on their days off. Even the DJ, Dj Paul from Peru, at the Jekyll & Hyde night club was awesome and would play the best music to get everyone dancing. We would go to the club every night because the music he played was so good and he was not bad looking either ;) Port & Shore Excursions: Port and shore excursions were overpriced. Travel To Port of Embarkation: We live in San Diego so the port was minutes away and took less than 30 minutes to get on the ship. Stateroom: Riviera Dining: Imagination dining room was great we chose the "your time" and that worked out great. We never had to wait in line to be seated and we would go eat dinner whenever we wanted. We also got to be seated with random guests form the ship and we loved it because we got to meet new friends. Children's Clubs: N/A Entertainment: The entertainment on the Carnival Elation was great. Like I mentioned earlier the entertainment staff went out of their way to get everyone to dance, conga line, and they were all up beat and having a great time with the guests. Again I cant mention how amazing the DJ was, he knew exactly what to play and had the best personality and smile I've ever seen. Disembarkation: It did take a long time but it was pretty smooth once we got called off the ship. We actually didnt want to leave the ship since we had such a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
This was a short getaway to relax after a family visit in California.   I was not unhappy with the change from Ensenada to Catalina - I've been to both before and either one was fine with me.  I didn't plan to do an excursion ... Read More
This was a short getaway to relax after a family visit in California.   I was not unhappy with the change from Ensenada to Catalina - I've been to both before and either one was fine with me.  I didn't plan to do an excursion in either place.  I had a spacious 1A cabin - it was perfect for one person.   Never met my cabin steward, but he did a great job.  I haven't had an inside cabin for a while, but it was fine for a short cruise.   Room service every morning was a nice way to wake up.  I had late dining and was assigned to a table for 8.    We were only 3 for dinner but my dining companions were very pleasant and we had a great time.  Our waiter and assistant were terrific.  I also ate in the dining room for breakfast and lunch on the sea day - all very good.   At the buffet, I prefer the grills and pizza to the other offerings.  I didn't do much as far as activities went, preferring to spend most of the days on the adults only serenity deck.   I saw a couple of shows, which were good and visited a couple of the lounges for karaoke and other music.   I spent just enough time in the casino to make a small deposit - rare for me since I usually win.  Embarkation and debarkation were quick and easy.  I carried my one small roll-on on and off myself. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Got to the Spirit from Sacramento. Had a TERRIBLE embarkation - waited 3.5 hours before finally getting aboard. Nobody knew what they were doing - it was a bad joke. Got to my stateroom during the muster station drill. Went directly to ... Read More
Got to the Spirit from Sacramento. Had a TERRIBLE embarkation - waited 3.5 hours before finally getting aboard. Nobody knew what they were doing - it was a bad joke. Got to my stateroom during the muster station drill. Went directly to bed. I went on a "Singles Cruise" but found out that mostly the "singles" were men over 60. I'm a 44 year old guy. Ugh - very few women. Lotsa older people and families - not the "FUN" ship I imagined. My stateroom was nice and the staff was friendly. However, I will NEVER go on Carnival again unless they change their television situation. Not that I'm going on a cruise to watch TV, but I'm there to relax. I'm not going to "party all the time" and wanted to watch some of the NFL games and NBA games. All Carnival had was 3 Denver channel, CNN & TNT. Worse yet, the TNT was in spanish. Come on now, this is 2008!! - the last thing I want to watch is CNN with all the world troubles. The staff was oblivious to this problem and was verbally harassed by some mad football fans. Very disappointing. Acapulco was great - Ixtapa was a pain to get to with the tender boats and Manzanillo sucked. When I opened my balcony door, it was like we were docked at the Long Beach shipping yard. One nice thing was the spa - had a very nice seawood wrap and the staff was excellent. The room service was quite prompt, but the food stunk - ordered a ham sandwich - got the ham smashed between 2 pieces of Wonder Bread. Umm, fine cuisine!! All in all, a below average cruise. I would not recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008

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