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2 San Juan to British Columbia Cruise Reviews

Although not told prior to this cruise, it was the last sailing of the Norwegian Sky. After reaching Vancouver it was to be torn apart while travelling back to dry dock in San Francisco. There it would be refurbished and put back into ... Read More
Although not told prior to this cruise, it was the last sailing of the Norwegian Sky. After reaching Vancouver it was to be torn apart while travelling back to dry dock in San Francisco. There it would be refurbished and put back into action as the "Pride of Aloha" and sail with a completely American Crew around the Hawaiian Islands. At each port including the San Juan, competent international crew were dropped off and untrained American crew were brought aboard. This caused many problems. Some of which I will tell you about. Our cabin was not clean when we boarded, towels on the floor, half full glasses of liquid, pop tins, soap rings, etc in the bathroom. We asked 3 times, and a uniformed staff member asked once to have the room cleaned to no avail. The towels were changed and the trash removed upon turn-down somewhere around 10:00 pm. If we got towels on the rack during the cruise we were lucky, sometimes we had to call to have the room made up and the towels were just left on the counter. For our Freestyle dining experience, it was "Eat when NCL wanted you to, where NCL wanted you to". We stood in line every night to put our name on a list for a table then sat around and waited for our name to be called. Every time when we went into the dining room there were tables available, but no staff to serve them. When we did get a table, the staff was inexperienced or experienced and overworked (more tables than they could handle or training other staff). Every night we heard trays of dishes hit the floor. The Breakfast Buffet ran out of bacon, skim milk, All-bran cereal, and prunes (just a few), but all were available in the dining room. This shortage came at the Panama Canal only a few days into the cruise and the stocks were brought on board until Los Angeles. Because the Pride of Aloha was not going to be sailing in international waters, there would be no casino. So a day before we reached LA, a lot of slot machines and some tables were taken out of the Casino. There was still 6 days of cruising left. Between San Francisco and Vancouver all of the pools and hot tubs were closed 'for maintenance' they said. We asked why now, when the ship is going in to dry dock! But they wouldn't open them. On the good side, for the most part the staff were friendly, except the ones that were getting off who didn't really care to make your stay great, and the ones getting off who didn't know enough to make your stay great. If this were our first cruise, it would be our last. We certainly weren't the only ones with this feeling, everyone we talked to said the same thing. There were lineups at the Purser's desk to take the automatic tipping off. This was our first experience with Norwegian and it surely will be our last. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
Serenade of the Seas Panama Canal Cruise April 24th 2004 Let's get three minor negatives out of the way first, particularly as they either were, or could be rectified quickly and at no cost. The ship was badly let down by poor bar ... Read More
Serenade of the Seas Panama Canal Cruise April 24th 2004 Let's get three minor negatives out of the way first, particularly as they either were, or could be rectified quickly and at no cost. The ship was badly let down by poor bar service on deck, in the theatre and in the Schooner Bar. However a conversation with the Bar Chief Steward (Bar Manager) soon rectified the problem and probably added $100s of dollars in bar takings. Dining Room Stewards having to parade around the deck singing and waiving flags is embarrassing to them and to passengers, leave that to 3 star ships, it's not right for a ship of this Class that in my book is almost 5 star. Also during the voyage, a Whale, a Shark, a Turtle and Crocodiles were spotted but no announcements made from the Bridge. Whilst at breakfast in the Reflections dining room we were delighted by the performance of a school of Dolphins but my request to a Chief Steward (head-waiter) for a tannoy announcement to be made was refused because 'at 0950 it would awaken passengers'. The shopping announcement at 1000 was obviously far more acceptable as were the countless and annoying announcements for art sales and bingo. The Master agreed with this and hopefully future Passengers will benefit. Everything else was pretty near perfect: The ship is stunningly beautiful and with a wow factor still there at the end of a two-week cruise. Her designers missed nothing and her builders got everything right. The full Crew from Captain through the Officers, to Stewards, Seaman, Engineers, Entertainers and Cleaners were friendly, polite, well organised and efficient (I still think of myself as a Passenger, not a Guest, so please excuse the lack of modern terms like Hotel Managers, Waiters, Barmen and Attendants) Although filled to capacity, at no time did she feel crowded. The food was imaginative, well presented, plentiful and tasty. Dining room service was impeccable and I never experienced any long lines at self-service buffets. Iced drinks and beverages were available whenever needed and at no charge. There were always plenty of deck chairs, towels for the pool and enough shade unless the sun was directly overhead. Cabins are well appointed; with plenty of storage space and getting a balcony without having to rent the Owners Suite was bliss. Embarkation and disembarkation was smooth and well organised and apart from running out of tickets for the tender operation it generally went smoothly and without queues. Security is tight, very necessary in today's times, but polite and so unobtrusive you don't really notice it. Others have already given a deck-by-deck tour of Serenade so I won't repeat that. I'll just say that everything good written about her so far is accurate. If there is a blip, talk to the right people and get it fixed rather than moan about it. Serenade is a new Ship but my guess is that this crew will keep her clean and well maintained for many years to come. She looks like a ship; not a floating hotel and the fact that I slept through a hurricane suggests she handles like a ship, full marks to her Master for some superb Seamanship then and in some very tight spots in Ports. (Apart from Panama there wasn't a tug in sight and then it was only for effect) Royal Caribbean has got her just right. Bruce Tucker 13th May 2004 tucker_bruce@yahoo.com Read Less
Sail Date April 2004

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