This was a 13 night Transatlantic Cruise from San Juan to Barcelona.
I'll start off by saying this cruise was fantastic - the weather was gorgeous, the seas were freakily calm - we met some good people and had an excellent time ... Read More
This was a 13 night Transatlantic Cruise from San Juan to Barcelona.
I'll start off by saying this cruise was fantastic - the weather was gorgeous, the seas were freakily calm - we met some good people and had an excellent time overall. There was a fly in the ointment in that our luggage was lost for almost 10 days - which didn't spoil the cruise altogether, but obviously could have enhanced our experience even more.
The luggage situation: We flew British Airways, Heathrow to San Juan via Miami. When checking in at London Heathrow, we specifically asked if we would need to collect our luggage in Miami and re-check it for the San Juan, American Airlines part of the flight. We were told no, we didn't need to do anything, and the check in girl put special large orange tags on all our luggage to say the passengers (we) would not be collecting in Miami and it would go straight through to San Juan! I asked her we would know it had been transferred and she said to check at the boarding gate in Miami - we did as instructed but the person at the boarding gate said there was no way she could tell if our luggage had been transferred to that flight! Well, it never did get past Miami. When we arrived in San Juan and realised it wasn't coming through, we made a report and were told not to worry, there were several more flights coming in and we should get our luggage before the ship sailed. Well by Sunday morning we had to make a decision - if the luggage didn't arrive, we would be at sea for a week - the next land was La Palma, Canary Islands - we needed to buy essentials just in case. We had very little in our hand luggage - one change of clothes each and a small amount of toiletries. So off we went into Old Town San Juan and bought some basics - but nothing you could possibly consider formal clothing so we knew we would be doing the buffet for formal nights! Long story short, the luggage never arrived and we sailed without it.
So, onboard ship, we went to Guest Services and told them about the luggage (just in case it would arrive at the last minute) - they gave us two small amenities packs - toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, razor, deodorant - nothing else.
We had booked a Grand Suite and asked if we could go straight into the cabin to drop our bags off - we had hand luggage and much shopping - they were not happy about it but as the cabin was ready they allowed us to drop all the bags off!!!! And the cabin was lovely - maintained very well, the bathroom was gorgeous, no obvious signs of too much wear and tear anywhere. The balcony was quite enclosed which we liked - very private. We went to get something to eat in the buffet area which was like a zoo - obviously everyone was waiting for the cabins to become available. We eventually found somewhere to park our bottoms and eat some pizza (not brilliant - DH couldn't eat his as the bottom crust was so hard he could even cut it). We found that the buffet found really wasn't up to much - the food in the dining room was excellent however - we never had a bad meal in there.
The ship itself is in excellent condition - we didn't see staff constantly cleaning like you do on Celebrity - but nevertheless it was spotless at all times. I can only think they must do cleaning throughout the night so passengers are not disturbed too much.
We didn't see too many shows, but the ones we did see were good. The ice show is amazing and it's a surprise to have a production like that on a ship! The best show for us was the crew show - and especially DeDe the concierge - she has an amazing hidden talent - belly dancing!!! And boy was she good. A total surprise and one of the best things we have ever had the pleasure to watch on a ship! Well done DeDe.
Due to the luggage situation, as you would expect we did have some issues along the way:
When we first told Guest Services onboard the ship that our luggage was lost, (we found out later) they should have given us the amenities pack - together with Lost Luggage Laundry Vouchers (to allow you to put your laundry in at night and get it back before 9am the following morning) and tux rental. We were never offered those. On the fifth day at sea, after speaking to fellow passengers, we found out about these vouchers and asked DeDe about them. That's when we found out they should have been given to us on day one - we were annoyed as nobody had asked us if we had these things, knowing our situation (we had no idea they were available to us or even existed so how would we know to ask for them). Up to then I had been washing items in the bathroom as we couldn't afford to risk not getting things back by the following morning. DeDe admitted she dropped the ball on that one!!!
That was almost the last issue on the laundry matter until I called for the laundry to be collected - but nobody had picked it up after an hour. With all our clothes in the laundry bag I took it down to the front desk in my bathrobe - as we needed it for the next morning!!! Can you imagine? Luckily there were hardly any passengers about, and those I did see I just said "Sorry, lost luggage!" LOL.
Carlotta on Guest Services then asked us if there was anything we needed (by which time we had most of what we needed to get by) - there was one item, which she told us to get from the shop onboard and give her the receipt - and she would refund it to our account. We had to chase four times throughout the cruise to get that refunded.
Then there was the matter of any onboard credit - a total of $100 for early booking. We also had to chase several times before that appeared on our account towards the end of the cruise.
We had booked late traditional dining, but due to the lost luggage, we felt uncomfortable sitting with the same table mates each night with the same clothes so we asked DeDe if we could change to MTD. She confirmed they could only do a table for 2 at 9:30pm or a table for 6 at 7pm. We said the table for 6 would be fine. So that night we presented ourselves at 7pm and were told we couldn't go in the dining room as they didn't have room. We said DeDe had confirmed the change but they still insisted they couldn't do it. So we said we would go back to DeDe to check - we started walking away then someone came running after us to say they did have a table for 6 if that was ok! Duh!!! That is what we had agreed to!
Day 7 at sea - the most horrendous banging carried on for about 4 hours (if you can imagine someone hitting a metal pipe with a hammer non-stop for all that time). To be fair we reported it to Guest Services and they got it stopped within 5 minutes. Apparently someone decided it was a good idea to do pool maintenance. GS said they absolutely should not do that when guests are onboard and they would not be allowed to do it for the rest of the cruise. There were a few minutes were it started up again and I almost freaked out - but it stopped again very quickly and we heard no more banging!
Antonio, the luggage co-ordinator had kept us informed and on day 2 he called to say our luggage was in our first port of call, La Palma in the Canary Islands - I asked if it was actually there now and he said yes. Well we got to La Palma and no luggage. We eventually found out it had been sent from San Juan back to Miami, then onto Madrid - then to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria - totally the wrong island but they got the name mixed up! We eventually received it the next day in Tenerife on day 9 of the cruise. I was so excited to know it was on it's way to us - if you have ever had all your luggage go missing you will understand! All that good stuff that you pack for a cruise and you may never see it again. So I was ecstatic to know we had it all back at least. Everything seemed to be there - although the back of one case was completely broken - luckily it didn't damage anything inside. As we now had only 5 days of the cruise left, we decided it would be silly to unpack everything so we just lived out of the cases for the last few days.
It was a shame that we didn't get the full experience of the Grand Suite - ie unpacking and being able to choose your clothes easily each day - and being able to have the cabin clear without luggage sitting on most surfaces.
Anyway - lesson learned here - never book with British Airways again, and we will probably only book our own flights in the future rather than doing them through the cruise line.
What else can I say about the ship - we were really looking forward to the promenade shops - but found that actually Celebrity shops are better - the promenade is more like a street with the shops, the pub, the coffee bar etc - you could sit all day and people watch - but for the actual content of what the shops sell, we think Celebrity are better. The pool area was very nice (although the music played by the Caribbean band was way too loud). And we loved the pool chair policy - you have to use your seapass card to obtain pool towels, so you don't get every lounger with a towel and a book on them - and not a person in sight. There were always chairs available if you wanted them - in good locations too, right by the pool. The "non reserving of chairs" policy does really seem to work and they enforce it which is great for everyone.
We had a good couple of games of mini-golf, and watching the climbers on the rock climbing wall is good entertainment to pass some time as well.
The Concierge Lounge is great for Suites and Diamond plus guests - on this cruise they had two venues as I believe there were a lot of Diamond plus guests onboard - a very nice place to sit pre-dinner and chat with people - who of course you get to know very well throughout the cruise. We met some very nice people in there (and of course the drinks are provided which saves some $$$).
We tried Johnny Rockets (well you have to do it once don't you) - we thought the food was good and it was good fun.
The Cruise Critic meeting was a bit of a mix up - it was meant to be the first day at sea according to the schedule on the website - all the CCers turned up but RCI didn't. Someone checked with the events co-ordinator and they said they would do it the next day and an invitation would be sent to all cabins that evening. Nothing showed up so some of us went to the nominated bar anyway - no meeting. We finally had the meeting on the third sea day and there was a good turn out. RCI provided drinks and nibbles - and did a raffle for some small prizes. A group of us then did a cabin crawl which was good fun also - it was great to see all the different variety of cabins. One of the CCers asked if RCI would host a lunch for the group - which they did - including wine which was very nice. Another opportunity for everyone to get together. The only thing is the invitation did not say the lunch was a CC organised lunch - so I guess some people may not have turned up as they didn't know what it was for.
Overall, despite the problems we had, we didn't let them spoil the cruise. Generally the crew are brilliant and can't do enough for you - our waitress especially was extremely good, actually there was only one crew member that we didn't particularly like - that was the head waiter in Portofino's who made it quite clear about the dress code and that we wouldn't be welcome!! We made a point of going to eat there after we received our luggage just to let him know that we did actually own good clothes!!! Our cabin staff were also awesome - we hardly saw them but it was like they just knew every time when we had left the cabin - it was always made up whenever we returned to it.
The thing that really made this cruise was all the people we met onboard. This was definitely one of our better cruises - the ship is awesome, as is the staff, I just can't think of anything really bad to say about the ship at all. We are thinking of doing the similar cruise on this ship next year - but of course we will pick our flights very carefully. Read Less