42 Santiago (Valparaiso) Repositioning Cruise Reviews

We really enjoyed this cruise. Quite an adventure for us. Machu Picchu should be on everyone's bucket. The Andes are beautiful. I was a little unsure about the size of this ship I like smaller ones, but I was pleasantly surprised. ... Read More
We really enjoyed this cruise. Quite an adventure for us. Machu Picchu should be on everyone's bucket. The Andes are beautiful. I was a little unsure about the size of this ship I like smaller ones, but I was pleasantly surprised. Somehow we never felt that we were crowded except at the gym. Finally decided to work out mid morning instead of early morning so the gym was less crowded. Food was very good although there were less choices at dinner that we used to have. All of the staff were friendly and spoke excellent English. Princess seems to be trying out a possible new specialty restaurant, Fondu. We went and loved it. On the other hand, we did not think that the Italian restaurant was as good as were remembered. The steak restaurant was excellent and we ate there twice during this cruise. The Star Princess had two speakers who shared a variety of topics with the passengers. The person who spoke about Machu Picchu had been there many times and was really knowledgable. The other person spoke about a variety of topics, my husband enjoyed them all. I wish there had been a bridge professional aboard. Someone directed the games and there were a number of tables, but I would have preferred a professional on a cruise of this length. We are contemplating another cruise not his same ship as we really enjoyed it. All in all the 17 days flew by and we can't wait to cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
My wife and I have 300+ days with princess. Every time we go back we worry (just a bit) after reading current reviews on CC. Before writing this was glad to see all south American reviews (except one) were quite positive. Princess DID NOT ... Read More
My wife and I have 300+ days with princess. Every time we go back we worry (just a bit) after reading current reviews on CC. Before writing this was glad to see all south American reviews (except one) were quite positive. Princess DID NOT disappoint us once again. We did the Valparaiso to LA "we're done in SA" repositioning cruise. Recommend going into Santiago early to spend several days at it is one great city. Used private tour to get to cruise port which worked well and for not much extra than Princess transfer from airport. Embarkation was great and efficient. The ship was in great shape with only some of the furniture looking a little tired. Captain Mario Ciruzzi was very informative and very visible around the ship. Shore excursions are always hit or miss so we are doing more on our own (being very careful) and even did one with a CC group. All in all ports were all great with the exception of Coquimbo but it could have been the tour we chose. We always do fixed late MDR. We are not picky eaters so we ALWAYS found something on the menu to please and are servers were great getting to know our likes and dislikes after the third day. We were lucky to experience the Princess entertainer of the year Nathan Foley. Go out your way to see this guy! Other production shows were ok and nothing that we really hadn't seen before. 100+ passengers on the 3 day shore excursion to Machu Picchu had plane problems and we had to leave Lima without them. Princess did an outstanding job getting them back to Lima for the night, flying them to Ecuador, busing them (3 hours) to the port of Manta where we made an unscheduled stop and picked them up to a heroes welcome two days later. One week later we had a medical emergency for a crew member with the USCG air lifting him off the deck and transporting him to a hospital in San Diego. All in all a great trip on a great ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Hi Folks, Well, I don't really know where to start, but let's start from the beginning! March 14th to April 1st - Santiago to Los Angeles... 17 days. We flew to Santiago 4 days before the cruise. The time in Santiago was ... Read More
Hi Folks, Well, I don't really know where to start, but let's start from the beginning! March 14th to April 1st - Santiago to Los Angeles... 17 days. We flew to Santiago 4 days before the cruise. The time in Santiago was good and we stayed at the Marriott. As normal tourists, being in a new city for the first time, we took the "Hop-on Hop-Off" bus tour, to get our bearings. Santiago was nice and we enjoyed our time there. The port of Valparaiso, is about a 1.5 - 2 hour drive from the city. We took an UBER Black SUV, as we had so much luggage. Initially, the driver could not find the cruise terminal, as he drove towards the visible ship. He stopped and asked a friendly guy where the drop-off point was. We were there in about 5 minutes. A porter met us and whisked our 9 pieces of luggage off to the ship. You have to take about a 2 km bus ride from check-in to the gangway. All went well. Check-in was a breeze and the terminal was virtually empty at around 1500h local. The building looks very dilapidated from the outside, but inside it is good. We went through the normal terminal security screening, and then, to our surprise, we subject to another security screening upon embarkation. No worries; it all went well and smoothly. The greeting on board was warm and friendly. As we had previously sailed on the Star Princess, we knew exactly where our cabin was. D205 was a mini-suite, and was in very good shape. Our room steward was very good... never travel without a balcony, especially when the cruise has a lot of sea days. I caught up on my reading. As for the ship itself, it is showing its age a bit, but was in overall good condition. We ate in the Main Dining Room for 15 out of the 17 days. The food and service were very good! We went to the Crown Grill and Sabatini's on two other nights, and I would not recommend either of them, as the service was slow, and the food was not what one would expect for a $25 cover fee, per person, over the menu offered in the MDR's. The bar staff was excellent! We did purchase the All-Inclusive-Beverage-Package, and there was no more signing of tabs; that is a very welcome addition to Princess. I am not sure if this has been expanded to all ships yet. As another aside, we had 2 nights in Lima, so we decided to stay at the Hilton Miraflores, instead of on board. We had a good time there, but the traffic in Lima is the worst I have seen in my travels; including Bangkok! I partook of the Spanish-at-Sea classes with Alan, an Assistant Cruise Director. I learned more than I thought I would, and used, with some success, my newly acquired linguistic skills, in other Spanish ports. We took two excursions, booked through the ship. The first was in Pisco... I didn't do my research, but we literally arrived in a desert. It was beautiful, and the tour was excellent! The second excursion was to the top of Mombacho volcano. It was billed as a 4WD tour, and that was correct. It was about 1.5 hours each way on a bus, to get to the base and back. Then we were herded into two large vehicles that each held about 24 passengers. The climb was steep (and a bit scary at times). The actual tour of Mombacho, was actually a very gruelling 1.5 km hike. If you don't like steps, down and up, this is not a tour for you, but there was a 75-year-old man in our group who did it unflinchingly! Princess should have posted a better description of this particular tour. Just to go back a bit, after we dropped some passengers off in Pisco, for their land tour of Machu Picchu, we heard 2 days later, in Lima, that there was an aircraft accident. Princess took very good care of the affected passengers, and forwarded them to Manta, Ecuador, for an unscheduled pick-up. All went well, except for a few who did not book with Princess. We settled in and enjoyed the entertainment on board. Princess has come a long way in this area. Kudos to the Cruise Director. We did not get off the ship in Cabo San Lucas, due to the short port time, and a tender operation. The next day, there was a USCG helicopter evacuation, for a sick crew member, on our way to Los Angeles. It went off without a hitch, and the crew seemed very well-trained. Lots of people were trying to get pictures of the operation, but, unfortunately, all passengers were confined inside during the helo-op. I really have to say that Princess really surpassed my expectations, and I would not hesitate to cruise with them many more times. I hope this VERY LONG review helps! Cheers! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Had only been on a 3-day cruise years ago so this was a big cup hangs for me. Went with 5 girlfriends and we had a wonderful time. I want to mention we arrived in Santiago a day early and used that time to tour Santiago. The next day we ... Read More
Had only been on a 3-day cruise years ago so this was a big cup hangs for me. Went with 5 girlfriends and we had a wonderful time. I want to mention we arrived in Santiago a day early and used that time to tour Santiago. The next day we toured in route to Valparaiso and in that city itself too as we did not board until after 3 pm. I highly recommend our guide and his team, Thomas Poussard www.chileprivatetours.com +56-9-81724441 Not only were we met at the airport, he took care of our luggage, got us to our hotel and after a brief break we started our tour. Thomas is fluent in English, French and Spanish..and I believe he speaks other languages as well. His driver, Jorge, a Chilean, was also excellent and safe. Thomas did an excellent job in selecting highlights for us to tour in Santiago, adjusted to our physical limitations as not all of us could do a lot of walking. I will use his Company again when I return to Chile. Back to Celebrity, this ship,is small compared to many, about 2100 passengers, and yet provides all the amenities you would expect. I could not have been happier with this second experience. The crew/staff were all, without exception, positive smiling people. Everyone wanted to be sure all of us were happy and well. I enjoyed the food and tried all the fare included restaurants, plus the Bistro on Five which was a nice change and not pricey. I like to do a water workout in the pool so was quite happy there was ample room for me each morning along with those who chose to do laps. The cruise director, Eddy, was and is a genuinely nice person who was always upbeat and available. His entertainment offerings were varied and I think covered many passengers likes. The resident musicians were outstanding and I don't say that lightly. This experience convinced me I want to do more cruising! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We are Celebrity frequent cruisers, we liked the itinerary and the dates We spent about 4 nights pre cruise in Santiago--highly recommended! The port is about 2 1/2 hours from Santiago.. We had been on this ship before but not since it ... Read More
We are Celebrity frequent cruisers, we liked the itinerary and the dates We spent about 4 nights pre cruise in Santiago--highly recommended! The port is about 2 1/2 hours from Santiago.. We had been on this ship before but not since it was updated. The ship was lovely as was our verandah cabin. Our fellow passengers were a fun mix of Europeans, South Americans and North Americans. We had 2 great Beyond the Podium Speakers--a geologist and a naturalist. We cruised through the Panama Canal with their commentary--very interesting. We stopped in the following ports: : Arica, Chile; Lima ( Callaoe), Peru; Manta, Ecuador, and Curacao in the Caribbean. Sadly we had limited time in Lima since the port was about 45 minutes from Lima and there was a ton of traffic. We were in Manta on Palm Sunday so most places of interest were closed..... We didn't take any shore excursions and did hire a taxi for 3 hours in Lima. Otherwise we just explored on our own which was fine . My Spanish language skills ( which are not that extensive) were put to good use. The food was good to poor The dining room food was better than the buffet---especially for dinner. Breakfast was good in the buffet. We had My Time dining and a reservation was helpful. BUT we never sat with the same waiter and this was a drawback. The ship had an outbreak of rotavirus but it was kept extremely CLEAN. We never got sick but I did wash and/or sanitize my hands frequently. We sailed back to Miami so we only paid for a 1 way flight! ( we live near Tampa). Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We boarded the ship without any issues or delays which is a great way to start any cruise. On this cruise, we had the mini-suite and we found it to be in excellent order. It appeared to me that the ship had recently been refurbished as ... Read More
We boarded the ship without any issues or delays which is a great way to start any cruise. On this cruise, we had the mini-suite and we found it to be in excellent order. It appeared to me that the ship had recently been refurbished as we saw quite a bit of new carpet, paint, etc. I will say that the service on this ship was some of the best that we have ever had, especially our room steward and dining staff. The two bartenders in the Crooners lounge must be mentioned. Ruben from the Philippines and his female co-bartender learned our names (and everyone else) on the first day and never forgot. They made everyone feel so welcome that their bar was packed every night. The entertainment was so, so. Some acts were better than others but the worst was the pool band. Someone needs to tell the lead singer to find another profession – he cannot sing, to the point that people at the pool were laughing at him – even the staff. The first comedian was very good but the second one from Ireland sounded like he was reading two year old jokes from the Internet. The food on the ship was very good but not the best that I have ever had. The dinners were fine but I cannot put my finger on what was missing. We had lobster twice but even it seemed somewhat bland. Again, it was good, just not great like our last sail on the Ruby Princess. Overall, I would highly recommend this ship and this line. We really enjoyed ourselves. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We received good service on an old ship that needs refurbishing. There are visible signs of ageing, some rust, dirty carpets, old and simple furniture. This ship lacks the elegance I saw on other cruises. The room service was ... Read More
We received good service on an old ship that needs refurbishing. There are visible signs of ageing, some rust, dirty carpets, old and simple furniture. This ship lacks the elegance I saw on other cruises. The room service was excellent. Entertainment was pretty good. The food was good but the selection reflected the effort of cutting expenses. The hot tubs were old like the whole ship and the water was warm but not hot, providing almost no control for users. Dining had one menu the same for every day and another only for the day. The quality of the served food at dining did not exceed the quality of food at the buffet area. At the buffet area no trays were provided and plates were really cheap. The buffet area is undersized to the number of passengers. The cabin was good, the bed was comfortable. There was not much to see at the ports we stopped but this comes from the route we selected. The short excursion prices were outrageous. We took one only but even this was a waste of money. Both embarkation and disembarkation were well organized. It surprised us taking away our passports at embarkation. I did not like it at all. The weather even in the middle of summer was pretty stormy. Because of the smaller and older ship that caused much more swaying I have ever experienced on other cruises. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Boarding at Valparaiso went well. Our cabin was great, and we were on G deck, the lowest passenger deck. The cabin was very clean, and certainly larger than what we have had with other cruise lines at a similar level. What was good ... Read More
Boarding at Valparaiso went well. Our cabin was great, and we were on G deck, the lowest passenger deck. The cabin was very clean, and certainly larger than what we have had with other cruise lines at a similar level. What was good that our suitcases slipped under the bed, which we have not been able to do with some cruise lines. Our cabin steward Johnny was first class. Cabin was left immaculate each day. The ship was very clean throughout. Newsletters for the UK and Australia were available daily, which meant we did not feel disconnected from the World. The theatre shows were very much hit and miss for me. I have a low tolerance regarding entertainment, and if I am not enjoying a show within the first 10 minutes, I have no hesitation in leaving. I only stayed through 4 shows in the 20 days sailing. Some acts were dreadful unfortunately. We were on Freedom Dining, and unfortunately in the main, it was not a pleasant experience, to the point that we used the buffet more than the restaurant. We felt rushed most times, with being seated, handed a menu, and before we had even had time to introduce ourselves to the other table members, let alone time to study the menu, we were being asked what we wanted to order. The food was so so. My wife had to send her meals back twice due to asking for no meat to be served with blood in it, and having it delivered oozing blood. On one occasion, she ordered roast pork, and it was mainly fat and gristle, so she left most of the meal. If that had happened on our preferred cruise line, the waiter would have asked what was wrong, and would have offered a replacement, but the plate was just whisked away. Ordering the ice cream or sorbet was a joke, because each time itcould be drank from the bowl because it was melted. No good putting ice cream in hot dishes guys. One other thing on it. We are used to the table waiter going though the menu, explaining what each item was, and making his recommendations, then waiting a short while before taking orders. I am not French, and could not understand what some of the meals were with the menus referring to the meals using French words. A dumbo maybe, but surely, plain simple menus in English would not be too hard to do. The buffet was great. No problems there at all. The tables were cleared quickly, the choice of food was good, and we could take as long or as little time as we wanted to, to eat. Also, a nice touch seeing the tables in the buffet laid up for the evening dining. The pub, the Crows nest, and The Globe were evening hangouts for us, and we enjoyed each venue. The musical entertainment was good, the quizzes were good, the staff were great. The Battle Of The Sexes was great fun, but I would have liked to have seen some debates on World issues take place. The itinerary was not great, but we knew that, so no issues on it at all. Unfortunate that we could not get into Bora Bora, and disappointed to hear some passengers complaining about it. We have been there before, so no issue on not making it in. The dress code was relaxed in the main, though I think it could have been slightly more relaxed for the buffet in the evening, with the wearing of dress shorts and a shirt, or collared top allowed, especially so on boarding day and port days. It was good seeing the staff asking people to leave because they were wearing shorts, but disappointed that on one occasion they asked a man to leave, and 2 minutes later ignored a young woman that came In with thigh high cut off jeans with ragged ends. The dress code is a close thing, because on several occasions we seen women wearing what would be termed shorts being allowed into the dining areas, whereas a man wearing pants the same length would have been refused. Disembarking in Sydney was great. We self disembarked at 7:15am, though I staff member tried to prevent us leaving, because he said that he had not been informed that clearance had been given. We soon convinced him that it had, and that we were going off like it or not. From ship to the airport in 30 minutes using the train from Circular Quay. Cost $14 each, which included the airport access fee. (Seniors fare for Australians holding a Seniors Card. I think a couple of $$ more for those that do not hold one). This was a first cruise with P&O for us, after spending some years using another cruise line, so I guess the question is, would we book with them again. A close thing, but the answer would be yes. There was nothing drastic enough that would prevent us booking again with them. We managed the dining problems we encountered by simply using the backup option, and that was fine. When leaving the shows early, we simply went and listened to entertainment in another venue. Overall satisfaction was not excellent, but certainly good. Some tweaking of the entertainment and training of dining staff would have brought an excellent rating from us. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Just back from 31 days South America adventure on Star Princess. It was most enjoyable and the staff were really friendly. Some things of note.... the ship is going in for a refit and it needs it. Staterooms are looking tired and much ... Read More
Just back from 31 days South America adventure on Star Princess. It was most enjoyable and the staff were really friendly. Some things of note.... the ship is going in for a refit and it needs it. Staterooms are looking tired and much of the furniture is in need to a good spit and polish, new upholtery etc. The old girl needs the facelift. The shows are tired and it is time for Princess to start investing money in shows for the older ships. It's all well and good to provide new shows for the new ships but what about those of us who travel a lot. I am Elite and have seen Motor City heaven knows how many times. I could get up and dance the numbers myself now. Smoking restrictions have improved the ship but they need to make the Casino smoke free 365 days a year. I resent having someone puff on me while I am attempting to win money in a no win situation. The casino is not well used and appears to have fewer machines. The Santuary was hardly used but then who would pay $40/day. It's up 100% since I last sailed Princess in 2013. The price is rediculous. Perhaps it should be a perk for Elite cruisers sor lower the cost back to what it was $20 full day $10 half day. They certainly are not making money on it. Scents. We ran into a lot of people (men and women) who did not realize that a little dab will do you. It was so bad one night I went to my room with a headache and I don't suffer with alergies. It is a law suit waiting to happen. I realize that they sell perfume etc. on the ship but a simple reminder to be sensitive to others would go a long way to making the environment more please. The menues repeated themselves but the quality of the food seemed to improve for my last cruise on Princess. More specialty opportunity - fondues, crab night both with surcharges. Another way charge more Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We took a re-positioning cruise from San Diego CA to Santiago (Valparaiso) Chili. We purchased a good deal for a balcony room. We visited ports in Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru and Chili. This was our first cruise (over 20) where ... Read More
We took a re-positioning cruise from San Diego CA to Santiago (Valparaiso) Chili. We purchased a good deal for a balcony room. We visited ports in Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru and Chili. This was our first cruise (over 20) where it was virtually impossible to take public transportation or low cost group travel to any meaningful tourist sites. Really difficult if not impossible to set something up when you walked off the ship. So unless you want to purchase cruiseline excursions (and their high rates) beware. The NCL Sun was a great clean ship with plenty of open spaces. The food - the salad, vegetables, coffee, desserts, and breads were good. The entrees, particularly the meat dishes were below average. Many days I ate some type of meatballs or meatloaf because that was the best option. The last 7 days of the cruise the meat dishes improved. The pasta station was the worst out of any of our cruises such complication for uninspired pasta. The pizza station was only open 2 1/2 hours each day (sometimes that was the best option). Room service cost 8 dollars, tips $13.50 per day per person. The entertainment - First off the female vocalist/dancers were very good, however this was a 17 night re-positioning cruise and there was only three production shows. There was also a very knowledgeable lecturer on board, he gave three talks on the culture and history of the Inca's. The rest of the line up was comedians, hypnotists and jersey boys. They literally retread the same performers over and over again. Personally I dont care for canned comedians, hypnotists and jersey boys, (once is bad enough) definitely not interested in seeing them 2 even three times. Incredibility disappointed that this type of cruise with very limit port activities and many sea days would have such HORRIBLE entertainment. NCL claimed that embarkation would be a breeze we arrived at our slotted time only to wait two hours in a long cue. Overall the cruise was ok, This was our fifth cruise on NCL, we go with the best overall value, we are not married to one cruise line. We find Celebrity and Disney to be the best cruiselines. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Our cruise on the Celebrity Infinity was from Valparaiso cruising Northward seeing South America, Panamagg Canal and ending in Ft Lauderdale. Let me discuss some of the pre-cruise events. Our flight to Santiago was uneventful with the ... Read More
Our cruise on the Celebrity Infinity was from Valparaiso cruising Northward seeing South America, Panamagg Canal and ending in Ft Lauderdale. Let me discuss some of the pre-cruise events. Our flight to Santiago was uneventful with the airport recovering from the 2010 earthquake which significantly damaged the International airport. Our private tour guides, Sergio and Annaliese from Perfect Day tours where perfect hosts and gave us a customized tour of Vineyards, Isla Negra, Vina Del Mar and dropped us off in our Valparaiso B&B called Hostel Morgan. The B&B was reasonable, in a fun area with many food options but a bit noisy at night. Thankfully, we had earplugs! Embarkation was easy and reasonably efficient. The cab was 8,000 pesos which included 2,000 peso tip. While most of the ports of call were arranged using private excursions (all amazing), we did arrange two Celebrity tours with Celebrity. The full day tour to the Altiplano from the port of Arica was amazing with Llamas, Guanacos, Vincunas, Alpakas, and Chilean Flamingos. The guide was informative and fun. The next port excursion with Celebrity from Pisco to the Ballestra Isle which also had great views of bird and sea animals but the trip was delayed with a late arrival of our boat. Leaving less time for wildlife. The Celebrity Infinity staff welcomed us onboard. The crew needed a long time to clean and sanitize any ship based in South American typically struggle to control Noro that's brought in from SA ports. They did keep us comfortable in the buffet until our rooms were ready at 4pm. Our stateroom was clean and in good order except for a broken telephone which we reported to our stewards when they came to meet us. The Celebrity Infinity main dining room service was excellent and the staff was top-notch. Our food was as good or better than other cruise lines we have used (HAL and NCL). The at sea teaching classes were also good providing good information and background on the upcoming ports and culture of the ports/countries that we would visit. However, the entertainment onboard was poor and wasn't appropriate for a South American cruise. Seeing poor Broadway shows and performers from everywhere but South America was disappointing. On other cruise lines, when we would pull into a port, they would have periodically have culturally relevant shows (e.g., in Scotland on a 2013 cruise, we had Scottish Bagpipers and on a trip with a port call in Istanbul, we had a Turkish dancers). The entertainment was unimaginative and inappropriate with some singers who were off-key. I've seen High School musicals which showed more imagination. We used one shore excursion from the ship and it was delayed (with our group losing an hour waiting for a boat and guide). Very upset cruisers who had to stand in the sun for an hour by the pier waiting. My phone voice mail system wasn't operational for the entire cruise which hampered our Cruise Critic groups from getting together or updating tour. We called repeatedly throughout the two-week cruise and finally got a senior staff member who indicated that "it's a French voicemail system and we've been having issues with it". However, I would not that after noting this on a comment card, they gave us some onboard credit (so at least they finally tried to provide restitution for our inconvenience). I'll likely not use Celebrity in the future based on price/ value but did enjoy the South American ports and Panama Canal. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
The ship is looking a bit tired in parts but it is now 14 years old and celebrity are doing well in keeping it looking good. I just wish they did not try ans squeeze in so many alternative premium dining venues. A lot of the nice ... Read More
The ship is looking a bit tired in parts but it is now 14 years old and celebrity are doing well in keeping it looking good. I just wish they did not try ans squeeze in so many alternative premium dining venues. A lot of the nice touches seem to be disappearing: chocolate on the pillow, nice towels on the con. cabins etc. The entertainment shows I would describe as adequate. The biggest let down on this cruise was the ports. Pisco instead of Lima. Nothing to see in Manta. the weather did nit help but one can not blame Celebrity for that. The cruise was saved by the excellent enrichment speakers especially Milo. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We have waited until now to file our review on the infinity cruise mar 15-29 valpariso to fll. we had hoped our experience was unique to the crew and circumstances we encountered. not so most of reviews to date are not so nice. we ... Read More
We have waited until now to file our review on the infinity cruise mar 15-29 valpariso to fll. we had hoped our experience was unique to the crew and circumstances we encountered. not so most of reviews to date are not so nice. we also waited to see if celebrity would respond to our harsh feedback. nothing. we might as well be first time cruisers. In actuality we are Elite Plus having sailed with Celebrity on over 19 cruises First the positive our 5 day precruise to machu pichu was fantastic, but that was handled by lima tours, the subcontractor. The aqua class food and service has improved from our last aq experience on the reflection. Ships condition was fair considering it is old. Ship’s theatrical productions have suffered with second stringers and lots of recorded music accompaniment, even with musicians at the back of the stage. Ports – given this was a basically a repositioning cruise, the ports were mostly “b minus”. the western coast of south america is barren desert so one starts with this negative. highlights were pisco “naca lines”; cartegena ; panama canal. we were fortunate to do lima on our precruise since the lima port stop callao was cancelled. Lima for us was a wonderful city with lots of gastro food delights and historic sights. Next the NEGATIVE First our background. until the last three cruises, we have been loyal pax and enjoyed the celebrity experience. prior to this cruise we started to see erosion of the celebrity product. on the infiinty we were astounded by the severe drop in service and product. the following is a list of the “issues” we encountered that has us moving on to other cruise lines. item a: as a past officer for a major aerospace company, involved with safety, i was appalled at the lack of interest and spontaneity, that the guest relations staff approached my alert that the bathroom mirror heater was over heating. radiant heat from the heater was heating my hands 15 inches from the mirror ( like a fireplace) this caused the hvac to strain. i was concerned an overheat/fire hazard was very possible so i took three steps 1 told room attendant (result no action overnight) ,2 called guest relations (no action the next day) then3) called again with a threat to get someone fired. after the third harsh telephone conversation (20 hours later), an electrician was dispatched. bottom line i do not feel celebrity gave the attention this event deserved. forget the customer service, maybe a safety issue was worthy of a look? item b: failure of telephone system for several days. No voicemail. Important to us this trip since we were independent tour leaders. item c: failure by celebrity at the port of manta to secure adequate bus transport from ship to outside gate -- only two buses for 400 people and then some of the buses delivered people to the wrong drop off location casuing havoc for me personally. item d: lost laundry it took 3 days to establish 4 pieces of laundry confirmed lost and then i was offered a small portion of the value of the new clothing. item e: at the elite captains club party we were in line for the intro to the captain. all of a sudden, we were scooted out of line with others, basically given the bum's rush. No apology or reason for change. Item f after informed of issues, guest relations made an offer for future cruise funds as compensation, then retracted i!. Anyway woefully small amount. the next level guest relations rep really had no authority to compensate. As other reviewers have stated there was a lot of sickness on the ship, both gastro and upper respiratory. yet oceanview café was still letting pax serve themselves with serving spoons. . Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was a great trip! We must add that meeting other Cruise Critic members really "made" the trip. We cannot encourage enough that you should use this service to meet and learn from others. The Infinity was just done over ... Read More
This was a great trip! We must add that meeting other Cruise Critic members really "made" the trip. We cannot encourage enough that you should use this service to meet and learn from others. The Infinity was just done over to bring it in line with the Solstice ships. The updates have certainly helped, but the ship still is not as quite as physically nice the new ones. With that said, this ship offers a wonderful experience to all that cruise on it. The staff is caring, and obviously well trained. Celebrity must treat them very well, as they are, almost to a man (or woman), happy to be working on the ship and for the line. I have on some of the other reviews some negatives about the food compared to the past. In my opinion, lots of folks think everything was better in the past. This ship offered way above average food. Was every meal a five star selection? No, of course not. Nor did we pay for five star food. We didn't see anyone that look emaciated, but rather most were just the opposite. The cruise gave us an opportunity to meet and see interesting places with interesting and nice people. Our cabin (lucky for us was a family room), was well serviced by well trained and super nice guys. The shows on board were fun. The entertainment director was the best we have seen on a cruise. The dining room staff, as well as the specialty restaurants staffs, actually made you feel like you were a guest. For those who enjoy laying out at the pool, there is a problem. The problem is that some guests have no consideration of others, and hog the lounges all day. This is not the ship's fault, and maybe some will learn better manners. Oh, kudos to the guys at the martini bar. Great fun to have them serve the drinks. Some of the boxes that needed to be checked really don't apply to this cruise. We have come as close as we can to answering them. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
South America & Mexico - Carnival Splendor - March 3 - 21, 2009 Overall, this was a wonderful 18-day cruise on the Splendor. This was my sixth cruise, and the third time on a Carnival ship. I was travelling "solo", ... Read More
South America & Mexico - Carnival Splendor - March 3 - 21, 2009 Overall, this was a wonderful 18-day cruise on the Splendor. This was my sixth cruise, and the third time on a Carnival ship. I was travelling "solo", however, it was nice to meet many wonderful people (a number of whom were Cruise Critic members). THE SHIP: The Splendor was a huge ship. It was fairly new (less than a year old). My balcony stateroom (Category 8A) was on the Upper Deck, cabin 6226. It was close to the bow and on the 6th deck. The room was quite large (approx. 220 sq. ft.), very bright with a wall of glass overlooking the balcony, and could easily sleep 4 people. It had a very comfortable king-sized bed (two twin beds pushed together) with lovely linens, etc. There was a sofa that converted into a single bed and also a "Pullman" bed secreted in the ceiling. There was plenty of closet and storage space. The bathroom was a decent size (shower only; no tub) with lots of room to put away toiletries, etc. The towels were plush and the bathrobe was very comfortable. There was a desk/vanity and chair, a flat screen tv and a refrigerator. There was only one electrical outlet in the room (above the desk) and one outlet in the bathroom (up high near the ceiling). There was a hairdryer in the top drawer of the desk/vanity that worked quite well. All in all, it was a very comfortable room. My only concern with the cabin was the noise from the Spectacular Lounge located directly below it. The sound-proofing was mostly non-existent, and so I heard all the rehearsals during the daytime, and also the late show at 10:30 pm each evening. It was very loud; so if you book this cabin, be prepared to live with the noise level. The balcony was smallish, but with enough room for 2 chairs and a small side table. It was quite private and it was a real treat to be able to sit outside and admire the view whenever I chose (usually I book an inside cabin). A few feet down the hall from my cabin was a door that led out to a small deck overlooking the bow of the ship. For those passengers staying in an inside cabin, it was a place to get outside without going up to the Lido deck to check the weather, get some fresh air, etc. There was a small laundry area on three of the decks with coin operated washers and dryers and on Upper Deck there was a "pressing room" with irons/ironing boards. The dEcor of the ship was very pink and the theme was circles (think large polka dots). At first it seemed quite garish, but I got used to it very quickly and never gave it another thought. There was a large atrium in the center of the ship that went all the way from 3rd deck to 11th deck. At the very top of the ship (Sky Deck) was the mini golf area and the entrance to the water slide. Below that was the Sun Deck with the "Serenity" area (an adult only area outside with deck chairs, lounges, etc.). Below that was the Spa Deck that contained the Gym and the Spa. The gym was located at the very front of the ship and had walls of glass. The gym had lots of modern equipment and it was normally quite busy. I never used the spa facilities nor the hair salon, however, it always seemed busy (especially on "formal night" days). Also on this level was a small pool and hot tub, at mid-ship was a water park for the children, and at the back of the ship was a small sports area (basketball/volleyball) and a jogging track. The track was 10 laps to a mile long and always busy with runners and walkers out getting their exercise. There was a large pool on the Lido Deck (Deck 9) with a retractable roof overhead. And at the very back of the ship was an adults only pool and hot tub. All the pools seemed to be very popular. The surrounding decks were always full of people relaxing on deck chairs, etc. Above the main pool area on the Lido Deck was a large theatre screen. There were movies and concerts playing on the screen throughout the day and evening. Because the outdoor area was so large, it never felt overly crowded. There were lots of deck chairs and tables/chairs surrounding the pools and also on Deck 11 and at the back of Deck 10 (where the smokers hung out). Near the back of the ship was the Rotisserie Restaurant which served chicken, roasted potatoes, salads, macaroni and cheese, etc.. It was upstairs from the buffet area and was a great place to have lunch away from the crowds. Inside the Lido Deck was the Grand Buffet which served a great variety of foods. There were stations on each side of the ship including a deli/sandwich area beside the aft pool, and at mid-ship a pizzeria on the port side and a grille area on the starboard side. Although it was always busy, I never had a problem finding a place to sit. There was soft serve ice cream and yogurt stations with toppings, etc. located throughout the Lido area. I found the best place to have lunch was in the Rotisserie, because it was the least crowded. As well, there were tables and chairs on Deck 10 overlooking the main pool...another good place to sit away from the crowds. The Veranda, Empress and Upper Decks all contain only passenger cabins. On the Promenade Deck (Deck 5) was where to find the upper level of the Spectacular Show Lounge, the shops, the Casino, sushi bar, video arcade and various bars/lounges. At the back of the ship was the El Morocco, a smaller show lounge. The shops were typical and, for the most part, fairly expensive. The Casino was a decent size and not too busy. There were a number of different bars and lounges, including a piano bar and a disco and karaoke area, etc. On the Atlantic Deck (Deck 4) was the mezzanine level of the Spectacular Lounge and a small library and the photo gallery area. There was a very small Internet area with a dozen computers. The internet area was an afterthought and located in a cramped area off of the Robusto Bar (a cigar bar). Also on this deck was the upper level of the Black Pearl Restaurant (mid-ship) and the upper level of the Gold Pearl Restaurant (at the back of the ship). The last deck with public rooms was the Lobby Deck (Deck 3). The main level of the Spectacular Lounge (were the lectures and evening shows took place) was large and was very comfortable. The sight lines, sound system, lighting, etc. were all fine, with just a few seats blocked by pillars. The Black Pearl and Gold Pearl Restaurants were large, well lit, well laid out, etc. I was sitting at a table for 8 on the top level of the Gold Pearl Restaurant at the back of the ship (5:45 pm; main seating). The table was always beautifully set with nice linens, crystal, china, silver, etc. The Black Pearl Restaurant was similar, except it was at mid-ship. I never ate in the Pinnacle Restaurant, but everyone I spoke with who ate there really enjoyed themselves. I gather the food and service were very good. The Purser's desk, shore excursions desk, front office, etc. were also found on the Lobby Deck. There was an outside promenade area on each side of the ship for walking, etc., but the two sides were not connected, so that meant you couldn't walk a circuit under a bit of cover. The atrium area on the Lobby Deck was always very busy. There was musical entertainment throughout the day and evening and a large dance floor. As well, there was a nice bar area for drinks before dinner. The Main and Riviera Decks were cabins only. The infirmary was on the "0" deck and was very well equipped and prepared for pretty much any type of emergency. Because many passengers and crew were suffering from an upper respiratory illness, it was one of busiest areas on the ship! There was continual cleaning and disinfecting being done by the ship's staff in the cabins as well as all the public areas. Unfortunately, that didn't seem to be good enough to keep everyone from catching the "Carnival Cough". Personally, I put the blame on the passengers with no common sense and with a generous lack of personal hygiene for continuing to spread the germs. I lost count of the number of times I saw someone use the washroom and not thoroughly wash their hands afterwards, or cough into the air or maybe into their hands and without cleaning them, handle the serving tongs, etc. in the Lido buffet. Or the people who would put their fork into a dish, taste it, like it, and put their fork right back in for another bite! I consider myself lucky that I only caught a chest cold and nothing more serious. Overall, the ship was easy to navigate and there were lots of elevators and staircases and wide hallways, etc. Therefore, it never felt overly crowded. For the able-bodied, the ship was great. For those with mobility issues, there seemed to be good access to all the public spaces, with room for wheelchairs, walkers, etc. There were some bottleneck areas near the elevators in the atrium, and also near the entrance to the dining rooms. Similar to other ships with a dining room at mid-ship and at the back of the ship and the galley between the two dining rooms, you cannot walk through decks 3 and 4 from front to back. You need to use either deck 2 or 5 and then use the stairs or elevator to access the dining room. THE PASSENGERS: Not so typical of Carnival, the majority of passengers were older. I believe the average age was about 67. About three-quarters of the passengers were from the United States and about one-quarter from Canada and elsewhere. I think there were about 3,000 passengers on board. Overall, I found the majority of people on board to be friendly and kind. This was a 49-day cruise that started in Ft. Lauderdale and sailed down the east coast of South America, around Cape Horn and then up the west coast of South America. Many of the passengers were on board for the full cruise (lucky them!) and so those of us who embarked for the last 18 days of the cruise were "outsiders", but we were welcomed and fit in easily. Like any cruise there were people on board who were bored, cranky, rude and just plain miserable. Because of the length of this cruise the number of these unhappy passengers was exaggerated. The behavior of many was just inexcusable. A number of passengers had the automatic gratuity of $10 per day taken off their account (they felt that $490 was just too much to spend) and then at the end of the cruise they stiffed their cabin stewards and dining room staff. I witnessed a few people (who had eliminated the automatic gratuity) handing their waiter a $20 bill on the last night and thinking that was appropriate! The crew worked so hard for those (automatic and extra) tips throughout the entire cruise and to be denied them was beyond insulting and cruel. CREW and CUISINE and ENTERTAINMENT: I found all the crew members I dealt with to be friendly and professional. My cabin steward (Joselito) was amazing. The front office/Purser's desk staff were always very helpful. As were the Shore Excursion desk staff. The dining room staff were terrific (Nikola and Ivan) and overall my dining experience was great. Our maitre d' was Ken Byrne, who sang every second evening and the waiters got up to dance with him. It was entertaining and lots of fun. However, entertainment in the dining room is not eveyone's cup of tea and there were some complaints. Personally, I really enjoyed it. The cruise director (Goose) was pretty much non-existent, but his staff (Jamie, Adele, Lauren, Owen, Brad) were fun and energetic. Carnival makes a point of hiring staff from around the world and I expect that there were at least 30 countries represented. I thought the food on board the ship was very good. Every evening I got to try new things. The presentation was good and the food was usually hot when it arrived at the table. The food in the Lido was also very good. I enjoyed all the variety of foods... a much larger selection than what I was expecting. I ate most of my breakfasts in the Gold Pearl Restaurant and most of my lunches in the Lido Buffet or Rotisserie. I went to about half of the shows in the Spectacular Lounge. The staff singers and dancers were the best I've seen on a cruise ship and the 3 "production" shows that they put on were excellent. The rest of the shows were typical...comedians, jugglers, singers, etc. The orchestra was comprised of a very good group of musicians and they were excellent. As well, the Elite Show Band (who usually preformed in the El Morocco Lounge) were very good. There were good musicians performing in the various lounges. All in all, the entertainment was above par. For the passengers who were on the cruise for the full 49 days, some of the entertainment became repetitive and if Carnival decides to so more long cruises, they will have to re-evaluate the entertainment being offered on board. PRE-CRUISE AND EMBARKATION: This cruise left from Valparaiso, Chile. I was on Leg 3 of the cruise (Ft. Lauderdale to Buenos Aires, Brazil - Leg 1; Buenos Aires to Valparaiso, Chile - Leg 2). I flew to Santiago, Chile on the day before the cruise and spent the night at the InterContinental Hotel in the Las Condes district. It was a typical InterContinental Hotel... clean, comfortable, well situated, etc. It was in the banking district and surrounded by a residential area - so it was safe for walking around, etc. As I had been to Santiago 3 years ago, I was o.k. with not staying downtown and touring around the city. I had arranged my hotel stay through Carnival and the transfers from the airport to the hotel and then from the hotel to the ship were included in the very reasonable cost. I was met by a Carnival representative at the entrance to the airport and we travelled in a van for 20 minutes to the hotel. Check-in at the hotel was fast and simple. There were restaurants in the hotel for dinner, as well as some very good fish restaurants in the district surrounding the hotel. A complimentary continental breakfast was served before we checked-out and boarded the bus for the transfer to the ship. The bus ride to Valparaiso was about 2 hours driving through beautiful valleys with vineyards, farms, etc. Embarkation was similar to what I've experienced in the past at other ports. I had entered all my information online before hand, and it took about 5 minutes to check in. One note for passengers flying into Santiago. The Chilean government charges an "reciprocity (entrance) fee" that was US$132 for Canadian passengers (US$131 for US passengers). This fee was paid at the airport before clearing customs and if paying in cash had to new bills only. They do accept Visa and MasterCard, but the machines are not always operational. The fee was valid for the period until expiration of the passport. Of course, I had renewed my passport since the last time I was in Chile, so I had to pay again. Note that you need to turn left as soon as you come down the escalators from the arrivals area to get in line to pay the entry fee. Then you get in another line to pass through customs. Once through customs you pass into the baggage area. You will need to put your luggage through a screening machine before leaving the baggage area. Once past security, you enter a very noisy, busy area full of people meeting passengers, etc. Keep a close watch on your luggage in this area. It is a mad crush of people and, twice, I had someone try to grab my luggage and steer me towards his "taxi". PORTS and SHORE EXCURSIONS: For this cruise I decided to book shore excursions through Carnival. Because I was travelling solo, I found it easier (and safer) to book through the cruise line. If I had been travelling with others, then researching and booking private excursions would have been appropriate. Arica, Chile I had originally booked a full day tour, but it was cancelled because we were delayed (searching for a man overboard) and only arrived in Arica in the afternoon. Arica is a busy, working port and so it was necessary to take a shuttle bus from the ship to the port entrance. It only took a few minutes and the buses ran constantly. It was a very safe, small city...easy to walk around and take in the sights and with a large handicraft market in the main square. I really enjoyed my time just walking about and the people I spoke with who did tours outside of the city (up towards the Atacama Desert) really enjoyed themselves. Lima, Peru "Grant Tour In Lima" Again, the port in Lima was a working port and so it was necessary to take a shuttle bus to the main entrance of the port where you could arrange for taxis, etc. Our 8 hour tour by bus left from the ship and we drove through Callao and on into Lima. We spent time in the main square, the Santo Domingo Convent and the San Francisco Monastery. All very old and very beautiful. We drove to the Indian Market and could have spent the whole day there....so much to see and buy. We had lunch in a restaurant in the Miraflores district (a wealthy area) that was very good and then drove to the Parque del Amor (Park of Love) overlooking the ocean. Finally, we stopped at the Gold Museum, which was very interesting. This was a good excursion that gave us a basic overview of Lima. Manta, Ecuador "Manta, Panama Hats & Montecristi" Once again, we were in a working port where shuttle buses were available to travel to the entrance for taxis, etc. This excursion was 4 hours by bus. We first stopped at the open air fish market which was fascinating. The stench was overpowering, but it was great fun to speak with the locals about the fish they had caught, etc. Tuna fish is the major industry in Manta. We then drove along the coast to Monticristi, which is a small town renowned as the home of "panama hats". It was interesting to watch how the hats are made by hand. There was a beautiful church to visit and a main square with a small handicraft market. We then drove inland a bit to the village of El Aromo and visited a small farmhouse where the family makes panama hats and sells them and locally grown coffee beans, etc. The owners were very gracious and welcoming. Finally we drove back to Manta and visited the Archaeological Museum which was very interesting. As Manta is very small, it was nice to get out of town and see some of the countryside, etc. on this tour. Acapulco, Mexico "Birds, Turtles & City Overview" Acapulco is beautiful from afar, but I found the city to be very "Americanized". I was anxious to get out of the city and this excursion was about 5 hours long. We drove through Acapulco (very heavy traffic) and then down the coast for about an hour to Tres Palos Lagoon. We boarded small wooden boats and toured through the lagoon. After that we backtracked for 20 minutes to the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre. We learned a lot about the turtles and the work being done at the centre and then had the opportunity to release a hatchling into the ocean. A very special moment for all involved. The drive back through Acapulco was scenic and took 2 hours (again because of the heavy traffic). I had no desire to wander about in the city, but many people did and enjoyed the shopping, etc. If you wanted to shop at Wal-Mart and then grab a meal at Hooters, then this was the port of call for you. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico "Colonial San Sebastian" Similar to Acapulco, I was anxious to get out of the city and instead see some of the countryside. This excursion was about 7 hours and I was in a van with 11 other passengers (so much better than a large tour bus). We drove through PV and then east up into the Sierra Madre Mountains. It was about a 90 minute drive to San Sebastian along winding mountain roads...very picturesque. The town itself has not changed much in 200 years and it was very interesting. All the streets are cobblestone and very uneven, so it is not a tour for people with mobility issues. After wandering about, we had a very good Mexican lunch at a local dining establishment. We then had more time to look about (the local cathedral was very interesting) and then drove to a local Hacienda where we spent about an hour touring inside and through the gardens. We arrived back at the ship in the late afternoon, with enough time to walk into town to do some souvenir shopping, etc. There is a large handicraft market right beside where the ship docks, and a large shopping centre across the road. I spoke with a few people who did whale watching tours in PV, and they all raved about how wonderful it was. Next time in PV, that will be at the top of my "to do" list. Los Angeles (Long Beach), California "Getty Museum" As Los Angeles was the first US port of call since Ft. Lauderdale, all passengers and crew had to pass through customs and immigration that morning. For US citizens, the line-ups were negligible. For the rest of us, we stood for 2 hours in the cold wind (very foggy and damp that morning) and finally cleared customs at 11:45 am. This left very little time for touring. Long Beach is very accessible and there is a free shuttle bus for use throughout the day. I opted for an excursion by bus to the Getty Museum. The bus ride took about 1 hour and we had about 2.5 hours to tour the museum. The Getty collection is amazing and really you need a full day to appreciate everything there was to see. In the afternoon the air cleared a bit and so we were able to see a bit of the city. The drive back to the ship took 2 hours through horrific rush hour traffic. The last (Carnival) tour bus didn't arrive back at the ship until 20 minutes after sailing time. Fortunately, the captain was in no hurry to leave, so everyone made it back safely on board. We had 11 "sea days", which was quite different from most cruises. I found the sea days to be very relaxing. The weather was hot and sunny, so I was able to be out on deck quite a bit walking or just sitting and reading a book, etc. There were lots of activities planned throughout the day, so there was never any chance to become bored. Some favorite activities were the arts & crafts classes in the early morning, bridge instruction and games, ballroom dancing classes, and the trivia contests held throughout the day. There was a naturalist on board (Dirk) who gave talks on sea days. He was very interesting and his talks on whales were the best. San Francisco, California I decided to book a transfer to the airport through Carnival once I was on board the ship. I figured it would be less stressful and less expensive than trying to get a taxi by myself, etc. after disembarking. I boarded the bus at 9:30 am. and the trip to the airport took about 30 minutes (we had to wait until the bus was full). The International Airport was very busy (Saturday of Spring Break). However, it only took 25 minutes to check in, drop off my luggage and get through security. DISEMBARKATION: Disembarkation was very smooth. Because my flight was not until 12:30 pm I was in Zone 4. We were called to leave the ship around 9:30 am. The first people off the ship (self-assist) left around 7:45 am. Once off the ship, we had to pick-up our luggage which was set out by zone number and then walk a short distance to the bus to the airport. It was so hard to say good-bye to the ship...I certainly wasn't prepared to leave. FINAL COMMENT: As stated at the beginning, I had a wonderful cruise vacation. The 18 days I was on board certainly lived up to all my expectations. Carnival is known for their 7-day "fun ship" cruises and so this whole experience of a long cruise to mostly new ports was probably a bit difficult for them. I think the crew and staff did an excellent job during some very trying situations. With the down-turn in the economy, I can't see Carnival doing another long repositioning cruise like this one, but you never know. I will certainly cruise Carnival again (long or short cruise, I don't care). Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Veranda Cabin on the 8th deck. Captains Club member There is a problem with the air conditioning on the ship. Either that or they are cutting the AC use to save money. The cabin area hallways are hot. I even thought the AC was shut down in ... Read More
Veranda Cabin on the 8th deck. Captains Club member There is a problem with the air conditioning on the ship. Either that or they are cutting the AC use to save money. The cabin area hallways are hot. I even thought the AC was shut down in the middle of the night. Everyone I spoke to woke up in the night, hot and thirsty. The dining room was hot, the buffet area hot, and most public areas were warm. The hot water is having a problem and according to one of the staff they have no idea what is the problem. Hot water disappears for days and then comes on. Hot in the sink and cold in the shower! Guest relations said they would send a plumber. On deck 2, 3, Constellation Lounge on 11, and the spa area had terrible sewage smells. Bring your own hair dryer if you can't use the vacuum hose type the ship provides. Our preboard package said - boarding at 2pm. We met people in our hotel in Santiago and they said we could get on at 1pm. In fact our van (travelling with another couple) got us to the pier, and we were on the ship at 12:30. We went right over to Guest Relations to ask about upgrade availability. Mr. Gomez - "the ship is full." AT 4:00 my husbands went back to GR to inquire about missing luggage and another GR person was telling another passenger - yes, there are upgrades, but now they are all taken - would you like to be on the wait list? We were #8. The one time , we had a chance because we were early it got screwed up! I wrote a note to the head of GR and never heard back during our entire cruise! You think they care. Cabin is very comfortable - good mattress and nice sheets, duvet and pillows. Our soap and toiletries not replenished automatically. Public address system is not good - I don't know if it is technical problem or person using the system. It is not loud enough. Hard to hear and understand announcements and the lecturer as we were going through the canal. The woman I was standing with as we went through the 1st locks even called the bridge to see if the PA could be made louder. There is lots of space in the public areas, we never felt crowded. Lounges are decorated with artificial flowers, a bit tacky, all our ports had great fresh flowers for sale. One sad sprig of bloom at dinner and it stayed there until it was dead. This is a another way to cut expenses. Another very big concern - the lifeboat drill held just after we sailed was a disaster. We all meet in the Rendez-Vous Lounge - every chair taken and standing room only. The staff split the gathering up and then we filed outside - no order, passengers filling the doorways and not moving, no one really sure if they should go out this or that door - not assigned to a specific numbered life boat, chaos and lots of chatter. I had not confidence is this group running as area. Disembarkation was also a fiasco. We assembled in the theater for 8:30 call. When we finally got off the ship our luggage was all alone, our tag color must have been called before the allotted time. The crew member in charge never reviewed the previously called colors just in case you came late. We were on time and sat until 10:30 - all other tag colors not called. And breakfast on our last morning was terrible - no yogurt, no butter, no fruit , no mugs, paper napkins, little silverware, empty coffee pots......I think someone forgot to order supplies. Breakfast and lunch buffet - No imagination, after the first few days it is same old, same. There are lots to eat, many choices, but there is poor layout and presentation. There is no presentation, just bowls plopped into ice, some Chinese lanterns and other items just in piles. Salad bar has minimal choices and the location is in the middle of hot food. Plates for the salad are hot, in fact some days you can't get a plate, big or small, or even a bowl for soup or cereal. Grab a mug as soon as you see it, they are scarcer than hens teeth. Aqua cafe was a nice change along with the dining room. Cafe was less salty and fresher tasting. Upholstered chairs in the buffet area are dirty and worn. Sitting area is tight and difficult to move around during peak eating hours. Ice cream bar is open all day and is a nice touch. Choices change each day and you can pick toppings and candy. But again, the bowls are hot right from the dishwasher! Dining room - we had the late sitting, and did not realize it was for 8:45. We tried this time for the first week, but changed to the earlier 6:30 seating. If you really like something on the menu, pre-order it for the next evening. You can even get a peak on the next evenings menu. The last formal night, with the seafood medley (tough rock lobster, couple shrimp and scallops) might be as good as it gets. Forget dessert - save the calories - have ice cream. Both waiters and helpers were attentive and remembered our preferences. Food is very salty. Other women I met were complaining about swollen hands, couldn't get there rings off, ankles swollen also. I think this was from the salt. Salads are meager with warm, wilted lettuce. (order a double) most appetizers are small, a bite or two. Rib lamb chops are 3 thin ones, double up on this entree. Steak on the items available every day is a good size, a bit tough. Our waiter told us all meat and fish, in fact every thing is frozen. Fruit, don't think because you are going to places that have great fruit the ship will have it. 14 days of watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe - some days pineapple and soft grapes. All the berries are stewed, soft overripe whole kiwis and spoiled plums. Never saw a mango or papaya or avocado. Room service - only what is on the television menu. They will not make any concessions. What you see if what is available. One evening I was not feeling 100% so I ordered soup (2 choices - chicken or New England clam chowder) and asked for a roll with the soup. "Rolls are only available at breakfast." The menu is sparse for breakfast. I realize they are feeding 2000 passengers, but the food is not good. If it was a restaurant, we would not go back. Cova Cafe and Tea Room - little snacks at different times - nice idea - not bad little sandwiches, cookies. The have lovely china tea pots and dishes. The pot holds at least 4 cups of tea. The food is free but the drinks are extra. With all this "tea room" setting, why can't they make a proper cup of tea. Waiter brings the teapot filled with water, cup and saucer and then comes back with 1 tea bag for this 4 cup pot. No heating the pot, not steeping the tea, and the pot needs more bags. Same at dinner -water then 5 minutes later the tea bag. There is music in this venue, very nice guitarist or string quartet or trio. It is a nice place to sit and listen to the music, if the other guests would not chatter or the help talking to each other. The staff lacks training - they are only trained to push up the bill. The service is good, efficient; it is just not FINE service. Shopping arcade - Coach store is full price, you only save sales tax. Bijoux Ternier is from airports - costume jewelry and evening bags - if you left someone home you may be able to get it here, not great. Cosmetic store is the same one from the outlets here in the US "The Company Store" again you only save sales tax, no bargains. Liquor is the best buy. I would have liked to have bought "Panama Canal" tee shirts on the ship, but they only had petite and small. Poor planning again. Just before the end of the cruise they had a laundry special, fill the bag for $29. I used the laundry before, and was satisfied. But this bag, said no ironing, I thought it was for dry cleaning, but they mean no ironing for all the laundry and they would not honor the miserable 10% off coupon from the Captains Club, there were no exceptions listed on this offer in the daily newsletter or on the coupon. Thankfully we had a veranda. Every morning, no matter how early I went to pool area, lounges were saved. The staff never enforced the "no saving chairs" policy during the entire cruise. During mealtimes quests put tables together in the seating area to play cards. Men used the dining tables in the whirlpool area (quiet zone) for a dice or tile game - loud cheering, cursing, security was called but nothing was done. Don't get me wrong. The trip was great. The canal was great and the small ports of Manta and Arica were also great. Lectures were good and info about ports was also very good. We met great people from Canada and Florida. Our ship had a large number of Europeans from Germany and some from England who did a back to back. Some of these guests were loud and obnoxious, while others were charming and gracious. TIP: For transfer from the airport to our hotel in Santiago on Friday, and then transfer from hotel to pier on Sunday for 4 people with lots of luggage in an AC van was $221 total - reservations made online with Santiago Adventures - check out website. They were on time and had a bit of a tour while driving to the hotel. TIP: Booked Intercontinental Santiago online - prepaid, guaranteed - $150 a night. Great hotel located in a great area, lots of local restaurants in walking distance and OK Market around the corner for water and snacks. Breakfast at Cafe Melba for great coffee and breakfast (5 minute walk - get address online). We booked this cruise because of the itinerary, dates and the price. I would have to have a very big incentive to cruise on Celebrity again. I do not know how they can keep a rating of 4, this cruise line has lost it glamour, prestige and class. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
We booked with RCL through a travel agent. We booked air through RCL and stayed at their designated hotel, The Grand Hyatt, is Santiago. We flew on American Airlines, flying from Dulles Airport near our Fairfax County home in the late ... Read More
We booked with RCL through a travel agent. We booked air through RCL and stayed at their designated hotel, The Grand Hyatt, is Santiago. We flew on American Airlines, flying from Dulles Airport near our Fairfax County home in the late afternoon of Friday, Jan. 30 to Dallas-Ft. Worth to connect to Santiago, Chile. We had good economy seats on both flights. We took Benadryl and slept much of the night to Santiago. Entering the country for the first time, Chile charges a reciprocity tax (which means they charge us because the U.S. government charges them when they come to the U.S. The tax was $131 for U.S. citizens, $132 for Canadians. They make an entry in your passport, so you can reenter with no new charge as long as you have that passport. Entry into Chile went smoothly and there was no problem finding our bus to the hotel, although we were not met by anyone associated with RCL until we reached the bus. Santiago is a beautiful city with many modern areas and numerous parked. Even in high summer, snow capped Andes peaks are clearly visible from the city. The city has small, muddy, rushing rivers lined by parkland and mountain parks with great views. Like most of the World, the recession had hit Chile, and over-extended real estate building and speculation is a big problem. Nevertheless, the shopping malls and impressive and full of shoppers. We went from winter to summer from cold to hot and from the middle of a school year to back to school sales getting underway in Santiago. The parallels to California are striking. Traveling around, I sometimes thought I was approaching Livermore or Santa Rosa. However, we went up to Portillo near the Argentine border, up above 9000 feet. The mountain valleys have lush farmland along the rivers, but there is no region of pine forest on that trip. This area is more barren than the Sierras or Cascades of California. I'm sure that further south in Chile that is not the case. The Grand Hyatt is a true 5 star hotel. We knew from trip advisor reviews that we'd wait for a room, since we arrived in the morning. Our wait was unusually long, but we got in around 3:30. They need to set up a smoother process and guide people into city tours or mini-tours in this time period. Our room was beautiful, and the hotel service was great. I enjoyed the fitness center and the pool, but we ate out except for the included breakfasts. We did not ride their excellent subway system, but, because of summer vacation, many local residents were away, and traffic was lighter than normal, so touring the city went well. On Tuesday morning, Feb. 3, they transported us to Valparaiso. It is not a particularly attractive port city, but Viña del Mar, the wealthier town next door, is quite lovely. Getting processed for boarding in the terminal was a snap, and there were concession booths there. We were able to buy 2 bottles of vodka (Stoli) and 2 bottles of Chilean wine and take them on board with us. One couple we knew from the hotel, came back to the terminal from the ship to do it again, after taking a taxi tour with some other friends, so they ended up with 4 bottles each. Our balcony room on level 6 was fine. A few design flaws. Shelf access in the closet could have been designed better. We had some minor plumbing odor backup in the bathroom at times - minor. The shower was adequate. I weigh 210 pounds and could move around okay, stout as I am. I could even pick up something from the shower floor, like a razor, if I dropped it. In one of the ship's couples games, one couple confessed to having tried to have sex in the shower and admitted that did not work out well. The Mariner of the Seas was transpositioning from Port Canaveral to Los Angeles. About 850 passengers did the entire 46 day transpositioning trip. The major leg was from Rio in Brazil around the horn to Valparaiso. A lot of Brazilians joined for that segment. People told us that even around the horn the trip was mainly smooth water sailing. A lot of the time if was hard to know you were at sea when inside. The Mariner was the largest cruise ship to ever visit many of this trip's ports. In Buenos Aires, reporters were out in boats and helicopters to cover the visit. Nothing like that happened in Valparaiso. This final 16 day leg of the transpositioning carried only about 2200 passengers, including only 20 children. I can report on this cruise, but it is unique and cannot be used to talk about the 7 day Mexican Riviera cruises the Mariner of the Seas will be running out of Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo. Having previously cruised with my older daughter and two of her kids on the Explorer of the Seas, I happen to love these huge ships. We were all in a mini-suite on that trip, but I was quite happy on this trip in a regular balcony room. I don't need a tub, but I did use the big walk-in closet in the mini-suite as a dressing room, sharing a cabin with three women. (I showered and shaved up in the Fitness Center on that previous trip.) My wife, Lynn, was not happy with the food. I, otoh, found the food to be fair to good. I don't have any complaints. Lots of the wait staff is Indian. Our waiter, Yoghit (Yogi) was Indian, as was our head waiter. There were always decent Indian dishes available and they pushed some of their favorites on us, even when we ordered other main dishes. Our dinner companions were excellent. We were at a table for eight right by a starboard window. Yogi was the best waiter I've ever had on a ship. His lovely assistant, Adriana, Brazilian, was terrific. Three of our table mates were born in Brazil and spoke Portuguese and Spanish, as well as English. Lynn and I just speak Spanish and English. We had two seas going from Valparaiso to Arica up by the border with Peru. We took the Altiplano tour. Our entourage consisted of 3 passenger busses, a back-up bus, an ambulance, and a police escort. We saw a long irrigated valley, some of the World's driest desert, fox, an animal like a rabbit that isn't a rabbit nor a hare, some people saw a condor. We saw guanacos, alpacas, llamas and vicuñas, villages and churches. We saw perfect cone volcanoes, lakes and streams and went to an elevation of over 4500 meters, 15,000 feet. Some people had trouble breathing and some needed supplementary oxygen. Near Arica, we saw giant petroglyphs. It was quite a day. We had one sea day to Callao/Lima. We hired a taxi with a Canadian couple and toured and did some Indian market shopping. We saw a lot, but skipped museums, except the gold museum. All their exhibits were awesome. Their armaments, swords, and guns exhibits were incredible. The NRA should run tour groups to Lima just to see that museum. Three wonderful sea days. They had a film festival on board. After "Young Frankenstein," Cloris Leachman discussed making the film. Another day, she did a one women show on her career and life. It was fabulous. They also showed "Dirty Dancing" and "Gotta Dance" and the producers discussed it. I give the ice show a ten. In Punta Arenas, Costa Rica, we toured the town and went on an eco river cruise, seeing crocodiles and at least 35 species of birds. They fed chicken to the biggest croc. He was named Tyson, and was over 16 feet long. Two sea days to Acapulco, where Lynn and I revisited sites from our honeymoom (luna de miel) from decades ago. Then a sea day to Cabo, being entertained by Marty Allen and his wife. She is one great singer. The film festival showed "Thoroughly Modern Millie," and Carol Channing discussed the filming of that movie. Cabo delighted us with Grey whales, pelicans beyond counting, barking sea lions and wonderful weather. From our balcony along the way (many days) we had lots of dolphins, sea turtles and flying fish. Leaving Arica, the dolphins were performing, jumping high out the water. The grey whales of Cabo would breach, lifting close to a third of their bodies out of the water. On our final sea day, Carol Channing did a show covering career highlights. She even sang for us both times she was on stage. We got t-shirts and a visor for our fitness activities. Disembarkation was flawless - except for passport clearance on board, and our flight back to Washington was fine. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click