OUR GROUP: Three senior couple (65-71) traveling together during Hurricane Harvey hitting Houston as we boarded (late August) and Florida as we exited in Boston. Our 3rd cruise with the same group having done a Princess and Celebrity ... Read More
OUR GROUP: Three senior couple (65-71) traveling together during Hurricane Harvey hitting Houston as we boarded (late August) and Florida as we exited in Boston. Our 3rd cruise with the same group having done a Princess and Celebrity earlier. We felt of the 3 Celebrity was the premium product. All cruises were great experiences and we are happy to have done these with good friends. Our nightly dining at the MDR table for six offers many fond memories on all three cruises. One couple from WA state the other two from Phoenix.
ITINERARY: Transatlantic - Copenhagen to Boston 26 August to 10 Sept. Two Norway stops, two Iceland stops, 5 sea days, a stop in Halifax and finally Boston.
GETTING FROM PHOENIX TO THE SHIP IN COPENHAGEN
In order to break up the long uncomfortable plane ride from Phoenix we have begun doing an overnight en route, this time flying PHX-DEN-YYZ (Toronto). Six hours total flight time with connections on United. Overnight at Fairfield Inn near the airport, our 2nd time with them. They offer a 24 hour free shuttle and free breakfast, nice rooms and reasonable, especially with the currency difference. Though the Toronto airport seemed very busy from curb to gate took 45 minutes. Fairfield also allowed a late checkout the next day as we flew Air Canada non stop to Copenhagen the next evening - 6 hours, 45 mins flight time arriving next day in Copenhagen. Customs and bag claim went well, we changed terminals to catch our shuttle to the CPH hotel, the Crowne Plaza near the airport, arriving 11am Danish time. They allowed early check in so this was great as well after no sleep overnight. Though not downtown this hotel is quiet and nice and reasonable as well and a short walk away from the Fields shopping center where there is shopping and many dining options plus there is a metro stop to get downtown at the center as well. The next day there was a shuttle from hotel to the Oceankaj terminal, took about 40 minutes and was under $20 USD each, hard to beat to get to the ship.
THE SHIP AND CRUISE
EMBARK: Oceankaj Terminal - we arrived about 1 PM, 45 minutes in line to get on board, once on board our room was available. Our Room: Oceanview 4th deck, front of ship right side. Room was quiet, 2 single beds placed together, comfortable, room temperature adjustable and good. Mini bar in room gone, entire fridge available; we brought soda and wine onboard. This floor was good as straight back was MDR each evening, theater was 1 floor up at the front. Found we used elevators very little being on deck four.
DINING: MDR all but three nights, 530 PM traditional dining at our table for six. Windjammer for breakfast and lunch. Did do reflections a couple times for lunch and one specialty restaurant-Giovanni’s for lunch for $15 each - very good service and food with waiter Sandra. MDR menu weak this cruise - food variety and quality and waiter service with Reggie and Csaba inconsistent. Veggies and desserts weak. Three formal nights and they did nothing special for the formal nights; in the past I remember a better menu on these nights.
PASSENGERS: 2100 with 1600 from US. Heavy load of Diamond and up; Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle were almost ½ of the entire passenger load.
LAUNDRY: As Emerald we got a $5 off coupon for a bag of laundry so $34.99 minus $5 but what can be included is limited to underwear,socks etc, no big items but this was very helpful.
PORTS: Always arrived and departed on time. Oslo - could have used more time here; only 8 hours. Kristiansand: 8-5; less time here. Reykjavik, Iceland 8-5pm - about right. Akureyri, Iceland 10-8, less time here, but coming here allowed us to cross the Arctic Circle. Halifax 8-5pm - been here several times but is a good stop.
EVENING THEATER SHOWS: Had a good variety but for the most part to us seemed to be 2nd tier. They have cut the budget here or they need to spend more to provide a little more top notch entertainment, at least on a few nights. Once nice thing about their theater is the seats are large and comfortable - please retain these
CASINO: 185 total slots - compared to Princess these were generous and a good number of small initial bet slots available. Also had blackjack and roulette.
OTHER ACTIVITIES: A fairly good selection of things to do, especially on the 5 consecutive sea days - we regularly played dice games with our friends and the time went quickly. We were regular trivia players and even won several times.
Also had exercise classes, enrichment lectures, craft making so I think most people would be happy with the options available to keep busy and entertained.
WEATHER ON THE CRUISE: We were concerned about the 5 sea days crossing the North Atlantic to Halifax and wondered about the seas. We experienced no more than 8’ swells, usually were 4 or 5 feet. No sea sickness in our group. Did have fog a day or two during the crossing. Iceland had some sun, some clouds, some misty rain but was 50’s most of the time and very welcome to us from Phoenix. Halifax was about 75, sunny almost warm, Boston was 65 or so on disembarking, sunny and brisk. Really very good weather all around for us.
DISEMBARKATION: We were to dock at 600am in Boston, right on time. They decided to bring the customs officials on board to clear us then we would exit. We signed up for express walk off & were suppose to be done by 630am. The custom people got on at 610 and did not see any passengers till 630. So we waited in line from 545 am to 635 am, got our luggage then got into another line from 650 until 800am when they finally cleared us for departure; so over 2 hours standing in two lines. Finally got a cab at 815 am for the four of and were at Logan in 10 minutes for $35.00 total. Our flight was at 9:20 am on SW and we could have made it but the flight was late so we did not leave until 1050 am. It was 10 minutes to the airport because it was a Sunday morning - early Sunday - and airport was not busy. Hard to believe we could exit the ship at 820 and make a 920 flight. This would not be possible on a Mon through Friday. We normally use express walk off and have never run into a delay like this - by far our worst disembark experience with RCL.
ON BOARD BOOKING: They have re-done some of the features of this program and eliminated our $100 per person deposit which was one of our favorites. Also have gone to a refundable - non refundable fare and made other changes. We have found these to be very customer unfriendly and do not like the changes. All three couples booked on board but booked Celebrity as they still retain the old RCL onboard booking features, like the $100 deposit - hopefully Celebrity will not adopt the RCL program.
MOST IRRITATING: During the day and night there always seemed to be loud music going in the centrum, entertainment, exercise, whatever. They have located the next cruise office, the customer service office and the internet right at the centrum so as we tried to book our on board Celebrity cruise we had to shout back and forth with their agent to hear one another. Please - move these 3 functions to a quiet place or move the loud centrum music to elsewhere - this is a horrible placement of these offices.
DRINKS ON BOARD: Most mixed drinks were a flat $12 + 18% tip - this is too high. We avoided it by buying the drink of the day or using a punch card. Wine was more reasonable but not by much. Bear in mind you can bring 2 bottles of wine on board so that is what we did and was a good savings. 12 ounce cokes were almost $4.00 each total individually priced.
OVERALL - we all felt the ship had slipped a little in quality, especially in the MDR for the evening meal. There were many things to like and enjoy - being with friends on the ocean with a beautiful sunset is something you cannot enjoy on many other vacation venues. No matter what happens to the other aspects of the cruise that is an aspect that is hard to top. Read Less