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22 Canary Islands Singles Cruise Reviews

I wanted a smaller ship as I was travelling on my own. Having read previous reviews, most of which were positive, I decided to book it. The whole of the holiday was perfect from start to finish. I had a single cabin (1023) which was ... Read More
I wanted a smaller ship as I was travelling on my own. Having read previous reviews, most of which were positive, I decided to book it. The whole of the holiday was perfect from start to finish. I had a single cabin (1023) which was roomy and clean with modern decor. Plenty of drawers and wardrobe space. The entertainment, food, service and cleanliness of the ship was faultless. Comments with regard to ship being old are certainly true but it did not deter from the holiday itself. All the bars, dining rooms and communal areas were modern and tastefully decorated. I have travelled many times on several cruise lines in the past and I can honestly say, that I was not disappointed in any of the experiences on the Marella Dream. I would like to say a special thank you to the member of staff that certainly made my holiday memorable. A young 24 year old - Calum James Smith - with the title of social host. He was wonderful with shall I say the elderly ladies of the ship. Thank you for a lovely, relaxing holiday. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
I chose this cruise to get a little bit of sun, rather than sit at home watching the rain. This being my third time on Azura, I thought I knew what to expect. Embarkation went smoothly, and I was in my cabin swiftly. I noticed that the ... Read More
I chose this cruise to get a little bit of sun, rather than sit at home watching the rain. This being my third time on Azura, I thought I knew what to expect. Embarkation went smoothly, and I was in my cabin swiftly. I noticed that the plug in the basin was closed,and I wondered why. It didn't take me long to find the answer. I was on deck fourteen, but when I went to decks six and seven, THE SMELL OF RAW SEWAGE WAS OVERPOWERING !!!. Lots of people were complaining throughout the whole cruise. I spoke to reception desk about this,only to be told that they were aware of this problem, and they were working on it. Previous reviews that I have read have indicated that the problem has been on board the ship for some time. The Captain was never to be seen around the ship,except for photo shoots, nor was the chief Engineer,as I would have approached one of them to ask about the problem, which continued for the entire duration of the cruise.( I later found that the basin was kept plugged to prevent the smell entering my cabin). I dined in the restaurant on only three occasions,as the food was only lukewarm, and on one dinner the ribeye steak was so tough that three members at my table had to send it back. After that I dined at the buffet,where the food was Lukewarm too. The entertainment was mediocre,same old gags from old comedians. On one occasion the show was cancelled because of rough seas. To conclude, six sea days are too much,when the entertainment is poor. However if you like dancing,or quizzes,or overpriced bingo,or old movies then this ones for you. I won't be back on Azura! I have a Cruise booked on Brittania for next year,but I won't be going,unless P&o redress me for the disappointment that I endured on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We are fairly recent cruisers and wanted a winter sun break and booked this cruise in January on line. The weather was superb and we were told by the crew the best they have had for several years. We flew from East Midlands to Tenerife and ... Read More
We are fairly recent cruisers and wanted a winter sun break and booked this cruise in January on line. The weather was superb and we were told by the crew the best they have had for several years. We flew from East Midlands to Tenerife and arrangements at departure, on arrival, coaching to Santa Cruz and boarding Marella Dream went like clockwork. The ship is old but is modern in appearance with good quality furnishings and the staff very friendly and helpful, nothing was too much trouble from our room steward to the bar and restaurant staff. Corridors and lift space are a little narrow and not as spacious as more modern ships. The variety of lounges and drinking and dining options were first class as was the food and drinks. We like to be on our own for dinner and for six nights we were served by Jennifer and April who looked after us very well. The Marella Dream Show team and their shows in the Broadway Show Lounge were excellent. Some very good singers and dancers however the comedian Alan Wilkins material was older than us and we are in our 70's. The resident band were again very good with such a wide range of music on offer. Our only disappointment was the lack of space for sunbathing when we had such good weather. We were birthed in walking distance of six of the places we visited which is brilliant. There were lots of excursions and trips arranged which people we spoke to enjoyed. Leaving the cruise was also faultless, colour coded luggage and well organised. Our only disappointment was East Midlands Border Control on the return. It took about 30 minutes to process us which is not acceptable. A superb restful and enjoyable cruise. Thank you TUI. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We have only been on three previous cruises, all on small ships with quite personal service so this one at 1,500 passengers was big for us ! Our ports of call in the Canaries and Madeira were all fascinating, we thought that the excursions ... Read More
We have only been on three previous cruises, all on small ships with quite personal service so this one at 1,500 passengers was big for us ! Our ports of call in the Canaries and Madeira were all fascinating, we thought that the excursions were overpriced and after finding that the handouts from the ship were not very helpful or accurate we headed for the tourist information offices at the places we visited. There was good information about the ports on-line but we used on-shore wi-fi and roaming Vodafone after a message that we would be charged £2.88 per minute for all calls, texts, and data on "Vodafone Marine" ! Our cabin, 1004, was quite good with a settee and table as well as TV and tea and coffee facilities and a good size window, a bit obscured by lifeboat access equipment. We had a problem with the safe which two visits from crew could not sort out, Dennis, an officer from reception was the second to try, we were pleased that the safe locked itself and refused to open until he put his override code in twice. He confirmed to us that it was faulty. I made a third visit to reception to complain and they refunded my money but were unable to provide a replacement safe for us or alternative safe storage for our valuables, apparently there is no safe at reception ! Our only option was to find a hiding place in the cabin. Please note there is no forseeable solution to this problem as replacement safes are apparently not available ! On our fifth day I was up early with diarrhoea and vomiting, I called reception as required and was visited by a doctor and nurse. They confirmed from my symptoms that it was not viral and therefore probably something that I had eaten so I could either stay in the cabin on immodium for 24 hours or visit the ships hospital for treatment which would see me well again in a couple of hours, I opted for the latter and had extensive blood tests and intravenous drugs, the treatment worked and I called back in the evening to check that all my obs. were normal. Excellent service but a tad dear at £1,400 plus ! Interesting to note that the previous day had been a "sea day" so it was most probably something that I had eaten on the ship. We unfortunately missed Lanzarote on my sick day. On the positive side, the crew were polite and helpful to a man ( or person I suppose I should say). The highlight of the cruise was the entertainment team, they worked non stop and were really professional and talented. The food was all pretty good ranging from canteen type buffets in various locations, made to order pancakes, omelettes and pizzas, a proper sit down restaurant with good service and "pay extra" speciality restaurants. We were on a full board but not " all inclusive " basis so we paid for the "wine package" which at about £14 per bottle compared to UK restaurant prices. Drinks at the bar were similar to pub prices. We enjoyed a lot of the cruise but there were things that let it down, there was no hot water on one evening and for the hour before the captains reception the whole ship was without any running water, the Captain did apologise and excused the smelly guests ! I registered all my complaints on-board and filled in the questionnaire on our return but there has been no offer of apology or compensation, in fact no response at all ! Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
All went to plan. Solo traveller and staff made me very welcome didn't feel excluded.Food in main restaurant was lovely and a change from the norm. The main buffet was good as were choices. Waters were particularly attentive and ... Read More
All went to plan. Solo traveller and staff made me very welcome didn't feel excluded.Food in main restaurant was lovely and a change from the norm. The main buffet was good as were choices. Waters were particularly attentive and couldn't have done more.Drinks were excellent including beer ,gin,and many coctails all included Entertainment was excellent very wacky but professional,as were all the musicians,particularly the latino band and singer. Cabin was fine ,bed lovely. Enjoyed all the different islands and Agadir. Plenty of sun loungers and chairs.Bar staff excellent. Pool and Jacuzzis all spotless Very clean and well run ship if a bit dated,which didn't worry me. Good itinerary ,fab weather Embarkation and disembarkation was so fast.Ipaid to have extended stay till 4pm the last day which was helpful. If you want 5* + not for you,but everyone I spoke to enjoyed it .Spanish were very friendly well done Pullmantur,would definitely go again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
I'm writing this review as my others in sections. Sailing from Southampton UK. Embarkation/Disembarkation. As with all of my other P&O cruises, P&O have got this to a fine art. I had to be out of my digs at 1200 and I ... Read More
I'm writing this review as my others in sections. Sailing from Southampton UK. Embarkation/Disembarkation. As with all of my other P&O cruises, P&O have got this to a fine art. I had to be out of my digs at 1200 and I arrived at Southampton Docks around 1300. My car was taken to a long-term car park (provided free by P&O) and I went into the main check-in hall. This hall is huge with literally hundreds of people waiting. There were dozens of P&O check-in people on one side and we all had a coloured card with letter for our times. My check-in time was 1530 so I had a while to wait. I eventually checked in at 1500 and was onboard by 1530. I will say that there wasn't any refreshments available in the hall so if you're a bit hungry/thirsty, you'd have to wait till you're onboard or bring something with you. In a first, when I did get to my cabin, my bags were already there. On my last years cruise (also on Britannia) I had one bag there but the other I didn't get till around 2200-and this was after a "heated" discussion at reception. Disembarkation was very easy. I'm a "walk off". Thats someone who can carry their own bags with them. Walk-offs have to be off the ship between 0700 & 0800 (you have to be out of your cabin by 0800 anyway). I picked up my car and I was on my way home by 0830. Demographics. Exclusively British. I didn't hear any other accents onboard apart from the crew. As we travelled outside of the school holidays, there wasn't many families-and the ones that were had pre-school kids under five years old. The average age of the passengers I estimate to be middle age or a little higher-exactly what I expected. I was on another P&O ship in the Easter holidays in 2017 with around 400 kids. This was a nightmare with screaming kids running amok all over the place-but this time we had peace and quiet. The ship and it's crew. The vast majority of the ships crew are either Fillipino or Indian with the officers either British or European. All of the crew are extremely helpful and nothing is too much trouble. The ship itself is another story. Britannia is now three years old and is beginning to show her age. Carpets are looking worn and there are paint chips all over the place. The outside paintwork is starting to show rust patches and the general feel of the ship says that it's had a hard life. I've been told that Britannia is going for a full refit in October 2019-and I have to say that it's about time. I will add that the crew kept the ship spotless for the entire cruise with all of the public areas and toilets clinically clean. My stewardess-Gladys-kept my cabin perfect all the time (and she got a generous tip from me). Food and drink. I was on select dining (in the Peninsular restaurant) and had my evening meal at 1830. I was on a table of 9-all solo travellers. The food on offer was excellent and I can't fault it at all. Our waiters were very attentive-although I will say that sometimes they wanted to rush things along a bit-but they did have another sitting at 2030. The daily menus were a little underwhelming on occasion with fish and chicken being the dominant ingredient. We did have (Michelin starred chef) Marco Pierre White onboard for this trip and his menu one night was fantastic. Mr. White's Beef Wellington was superb. The Horizon Buffet on Lido deck was also very good. Breakfasts were usually "Full English" but there were other options including cereals, smoked fish, fruit, muffins/Danish (for breakfast?), yogurts...The list is almost endless. Lunch and dinner were equally as good with wide selection each day. There were themed menus too-curry night, British Pub Lunch, Italian. Again, the list is too long. As to alcohol...Thats another story. As with every other P&O review I've written, I still say that P&O are overcharging the passengers for alcohol. P&O claim that they charge pub prices. Not from my point of view they don't. Pints were around £3.95 to £4.50 with premium bottles (330ml) around the same price. In my regular pub, I pay £3.25 or a pint and if I go to my local Wetherspoons (to non-British readers, Wetherspoons is a major UK pub chain) I pay around £2.50 for a pint. So, no P&O are not charging pub prices. It's about time cruise companies lowered their alcohol prices and I'm certain that their passengers would appreciate it. Our route. We visited (in this order) La Coruna (Spain), Madeira, The Canary Islands-Las Palmas/Tenerife/Gran Canaria and Lisbon (Portugal). The weather was quite good all the time with temperatures in the mid-to-high 20'sC-sometimes in the low 30'sC. I did several trips in most of the ports (all official P&O excursions). Sightseeing in La Coruna, Volcanoes in Las Palmas and Tenerife and a coffee plantation on Gran Canaria. In Madeira and Lisbon I did my own thing just having a walk around. NOTE. If you do your own thing in ports of call and you miss the sailaway, the ship will not wait for your return. It will then be your own responsibility to get to the next port at your own expense. If, on the other hand, you take an official P&O excursion and you're delayed, the ship will wait for your return. Entertainment. There was the usual in-house troupe "Headliners" doing shows in the main theatre. There was also several guest singers/tribute acts and in the Limelight Club we had Claire Sweeney (UK actress/singer), Cheryl Baker-formerly of Bucks Fizz and a couple of others. I did hear reports of the "Headliners" not being too good but as I didn't attend any shows, I can't comment. Brodies had the usual pub quizzes, kareoke, live football matches (thats soccer to non-British readers). We also had Professor Peter Roberts-a retired archeologist who gave a series of lectures on volcanoes in The Canary Islands and others. The Professors lectures were very interesting but sadly not well attended. P&O need to get more people like Professor Roberts. Observations. All of the passengers were very friendly but...In the buffet one day (a late breakfast) I bumped into one of my fellow diners-an elderly lady who had a fall the day before. She had a very nasty black eye, stiches in her lip and severe bruising ot her left arm. I was enquiring as to her health when an elderly guy with a tray of food shouted "EXCUSE ME!". Just before this, someone had dropped a tray of food and drink and one of the crew was clearing it up. I couldn't move backwards or sideways to accomodate this bloke and he again shouted "EXCUSE ME!". Then he just barged his way through almost pushing people out of his way. I reacted to this bloke by shouting "YOU DON'T HAVE TO SHOUT!". This he ignored. I again repeated "YOU DON'T HAVE TO SHOUT!" but again this was ignored. By this time I had around 200 to 300 people watching. I will admit to not being a "people person" but this was just plain ignorant. Also on our dinner table there was an elderly lady with a southern (London or south coast) accent. She claimed to be travelling with "a friend" but we never met this friend and the lady said her friend preferred to dine at her own time. Why would two people travelling together not be dining together? Anyway, this lady thought that she was better than the rest of us and talked down to us all the time. She was also quite rude when she did talk to us but I had to bite my lip as I was in polite company. She didn't attend on a couple of nights and we all breathed a sigh of relief. I hope that I don't meet her again as I don't think I could hold back with comments about her atttitude. Overall, this was a good cruise but as I have been to some of the ports we visited on previous cruises, it did get slightly boring. Going on cruises does give you the chance to visit several countries on one holiday and you get to meet new people-but as the ships go to the same places all the time, it's getting difficult to find something new. I'm going to the Caribbean (again) in 2019 but I'l be looking further afield for 2020. I'm already looking at India or the Far East. As a solo traveller, it's not cheap do do cruises. I really want to visit Australia/New Zealand but as I'm a solo traveller, the costs are still far too high for my budget. The daily charge (£7 per person per day over 12 years old) was still in force on this cruise. This could be removed by filling in a form at reception. BUT as of May 2019, P&O are abolishing this charge-and about time too. This daily charge is VERY unpolpular and everyone I spoke to had removed the charge. It's about time all of the cruise companies stopped doing this. These trips are expensive enough without cruise companies taking more money out of your pocket. Conclusions. The ship-a bit tatty and in need of a refit. The crew-excellent. Food & drink-again excellent but I maintain that the beer prices are far too high. Our intinerary-ok but as I wrote above, I've been to some of the countries already. Marks out of 10? I'll give this eight out of ten. I've knocked off a couple of points for too high beer prices and the ship looking a bit tatty. I would recommend Britannia to first-timers and seasoned cruisers-but wait for the refit in October 2019. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We chose it for the destination The food was awful 2* is being generous. The breakfast was the same very day greasy hard bacon cheap nasty sausage never changed . Every day was a stir fry or some obscure meat like beef cheeks nasty cheap ... Read More
We chose it for the destination The food was awful 2* is being generous. The breakfast was the same very day greasy hard bacon cheap nasty sausage never changed . Every day was a stir fry or some obscure meat like beef cheeks nasty cheap food by the end of the cruise so many people were eating from the kids section as the food was slightly better. if you are vegetarian you would really struggle veggie curry and rice or cheese and salad . No late food apart from 11 to 11 30 when plates of Iceland type buffet food was taken Around the bars. You felt like a penguin being given fish . Most staff rude especially reception we went to complain about the lack of sun beds 450 for 1400 passengers.the receptionist rolled her eyes and picked up the phone twice while we were talking . People were taking sun beds when someone went for food and leaving belongings piled on the floor . There were arguments and near fights every day . The Crewe had their own deck with around 30 beds that weren’t being used we got a sun bed twice in 15 days and it was taken when we went for lunch . People were sitting on chairs taken from the buffet as there was nowhere to sit.we ended up going to the speciality restaurants they were a bit better but you shouldn’t have to pay . Entertainment was awful singers screeched out of tune people got up and walked out including us. We went to Tenerife on a Sunday everywhere was shut . Some of the places visited were too short 4 hours not enough time . Kids in pools couldn’t use till day ten when the made one adult only We lost tv signal on 3rd day . Incompetent management it all needs a massive review All in all this was my tenth and by far the worst cruise I would never sail with them again or recommend them to anyone I know . Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
For context, we are Princess people and have also cruised with P and O and NCL. Chose this cruise due to itinerary, date and regional flight. Knew it would not be as special as Princess and so it turned out but was very enjoyable and ... Read More
For context, we are Princess people and have also cruised with P and O and NCL. Chose this cruise due to itinerary, date and regional flight. Knew it would not be as special as Princess and so it turned out but was very enjoyable and decent value for money. The flights, transfers and embarkation/disembarkation arrangements were excellent. Things that were better: size of cabin and bathroom, drinks prices, included tips. Things that were worse: bar service was a bit offhand, slow and they did not know how to serve certain drinks; food in the main restaurant was nothing special (we did try Kora La, the Asian restaurant which was very good); felt crowded on the day at sea. The worst comparison however was the "entertainment" - the theatre shows had excellent dancing but terrible singing and the two bands playing in the lounges were just dire and far far too loud. A grand piano sat untouched in Tides while the pianist was stuck in a closed room and the "party band" could be heard above him! The quizzes were badly presented and indeed all the entertainment staff seemed too young and far from interested. Two really bad things that I will be taking up with the company - I have never been as ripped off as paying £15 for the use of the safe and far more importantly the safety briefing commenced 2 minutes after we boarded while people were still finding their cabins and no effort was made to ensure everyone attended; worth mentioning that the medical questonnaires were dumped in a heap on a table and not counted or presumably checked. We also greatly missed the central atrium as there was literally nowhere quiet to chat in the evenings. In summary, a decent week away but not one I would consider suitable for any kind of "big trip"/special occasion. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Been cruising with Thomson since 1998 1st ship Thomson Topaz. Been on the Thomson Dream 5 times (Used to be "Costa Europia") Was on it for 2 weeks in October in the Adriatic. Great 2 weeks no problems. was on the liner with my 91 ... Read More
Been cruising with Thomson since 1998 1st ship Thomson Topaz. Been on the Thomson Dream 5 times (Used to be "Costa Europia") Was on it for 2 weeks in October in the Adriatic. Great 2 weeks no problems. was on the liner with my 91 year old sister-in-law 5th January for 2 weeks, in single cabins Deck 5 and deck 9 (Right next to the Gym) We knew there was problems aboard with the Nora virus so we was careful not to frequent crowded areas. After 5 or 6 days my Sister in law became ill and was confined to her cabin. After 8 or 9 days the same thing happened to me. We had been given injections and 1 500 mg paracetamol and let out after 2-3 days with no instructions, no medication and the doctor even asked me to use my own paracetamols. We left the ship to pass the germs on our flight home. He both still have the illness (25.1.18.) and are seeing our doctors 29.1.18. The waiter service at The Orion was excellent, a bit slow at times but that was due to more passengers using, instead of the caferteria. We did not use the activity due to our age, but passengers appeared to be enjoying it. The service all over was ecellent, except Reception with the staff being overwelmed with customers. The cabin staff I would say are the best on the ship as always. When locked away in the cabin, I had no eatable food at all. Entertainment was exactly the same when we were on this same liner in October 2017 Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
This was my first time as a solo passenger so that's why I picked the 5 night and am so glad I did I found the ship to be very tired with not much happening for a solo passenger. I usually cruise with P&O and will definitely go ... Read More
This was my first time as a solo passenger so that's why I picked the 5 night and am so glad I did I found the ship to be very tired with not much happening for a solo passenger. I usually cruise with P&O and will definitely go back to them. I was in cabin 5211and although it was quite spacious it was very noisy, the shower room had an unpleasant odour and only one socket worked so had to boil the kettle and change to charge anything else. The food was ok nothing special the only redeeming thing was the staff were very pleasant, would I go with Marella again that would be a definite no there was no ship map in the cabin which would be very handy as the signs around the ship only told you what was on that deck but not direction you should be heading. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
‘Columbus’ sailed to Gibraltar, the Canary Islands, Madeira and Lisbon from Tilbury on 11th August and whilst I’m sure that there will be those that will find something to moan about, if you cruise with CMV and expect a ‘Cunard’ ... Read More
‘Columbus’ sailed to Gibraltar, the Canary Islands, Madeira and Lisbon from Tilbury on 11th August and whilst I’m sure that there will be those that will find something to moan about, if you cruise with CMV and expect a ‘Cunard’ standard, then you will be disappointed. I found the whole experience far exceeded my expectations and my previous experiences with P&O. Whilst there was not perfection in all areas, overall, it was excellent and definitely value for money. This was a multi-generational cruise and there will no doubt be those who will complain about there being children on-board. However, this change was advertised over 12 months prior to sailing and there was surely the option to cancel or rebook on another cruise if this was unacceptable. The CMV coach transfer from Victoria was professionally organised and embarkation smooth and efficient with the luggage being delivered by a happy, smiling Cabin Steward within 10 minutes of entering the twin inner cabin on Deck 10. There’s no point in going on a cruise and spending all day in the cabin, so provided it is clean, comfortable and of a reasonable size, that’s acceptable. This inside cabin was just that and a minor problem with the shower was sorted out within 10 minutes after notifying the excellent Cabin Steward, Puta Sukma who replaced the towels and consumables at least twice a day and kept it spotless. It was traditional in style and provided adequate hanging and storage facilities. The Safety Drill on the first evening was well organised, most people realising its importance. The cleaning and maintenance staff worked extremely hard throughout the day and night to maintain the initial impression that it was a clean and well maintained ship. Bar and lounge staff were friendly and attentive, as were the staff in the dining areas. great dining companions on Table 208. The presentation and quality of the food in the Waterfront Restaurant surpassed some fine dining restaurants and an enjoyable 7 course dinner could be taken each evening. If desired, breakfast and lunch could be taken here too. The Plantation Bistro provided variety and convenience for breakfast, lunch, dinner and of course there was the ‘mandatory’ afternoon cream tea and constant access to tea and coffee throughout the day. Breakfast was indeed a time when everyone could find something to satisfy and included fruits, cheese, cold meats, pancakes and of course all the items for a ‘Full English’. The Fusion Restaurant in the evening provided an interesting alternative, at cost, as did The Grill. There was certainly no shortage of food available and you could have breakfast in the cabin if you wished! Not sure when (or if) members of the entertainment team managed to sleep, as they seemed to be constantly hosting, organising, performing or accompanying excursions. As the cruise progressed, so did the standard of the shows culminating with two super offerings on the final two evenings. Themed party evening were organised and during one a demonstration of the making (and consumption) of paella and sangria proved very popular! There were exceptional performances from the dancers, singers Jordana and Angelina, the classical duo of Tatiana and Lana, not forgetting Maria the aerial performer. The Palladium Show Lounge is poorly designed as the safety barrier restricts the view from the circle on Deck 8, so getting a seat downstairs is preferable. The Dome Nightclub was popular and well attended, providing for young and old until the early hours. Some of the quiz session were good and some quite hilarious. And then there was Tony Parkins the Cruise Director…enough said! Berthing in all ports was convenient to the town and complimentary transfers were provided. There was a reasonable selection of shore excursions and sufficient time in each port to do an excursion and have free time. If you prefer to have everything planned / organised, then a shore excursion is the (expensive) answer, but using local transport can be less expensive and gives you flexibility. Comprehensive port information was always provided the evening prior to berthing. Berthing at Lisbon was delayed by 90 minutes due to thick fog, but a modification of the itinerary allowed for passengers to have the same length of time on-shore. In all other ports the ship arrived and departed according to the published schedule. This was a multi-general cruise on a ship that has no specific child-friendly areas or facilities and there were some who were obviously not aware that children would be on board. Admittedly there were some children who could perhaps have been better supervised (by their parents), but they were in the minority and their presence added to the vibrant atmosphere on board. Every day ‘Sailor Sam’ and team managed to organise a tremendous range and variety of activities with few resources for these younger guests and it was delightful to see parents and grandparents getting involved too. Disembarkation at Tilbury was efficient, but seemed very a slow process due to the ship requiring final clearance and all the luggage taken off. Passengers had to leave their cabins by 8am, the luggage having been collected the night before and stored ready for transfer to shore. Express disembarkation for those who wished to carry their own luggage was possible 15 minutes after berthing at 10am, whilst regular disembarkation started at 11:20 and again was smooth and trouble free with, surprisingly, no further Passport or Customs inspections. Had it not been for road closures in London, the return transfer to Victoria would have arrived by noon, as it was, the journey only took just under an hour and a half. Two pools which were almost always in use, large sun decks, hot tubs, quiet areas, the elegant Raffles Bar (and much more) with a constant programme of activities, demonstrations and tours all combined to make this a memorable, eventful and enjoyable two weeks in the sun on calm seas. This was 14 days of sun, fun and superb food. Magnificent ship, enchanting ports, exceptionally hard-working, friendly crew, excellent entertainment team and shows, wide variety of kids activities. None of this would have been possible without the tremendously hard-working staff who didn’t always get it right, but couldn’t be faulted in their efforts to please. Best cruise I've had for years. Magnificent. Well Done to all on 'Columbus'. CMV will certainly have my custom in the future. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
I was looking for a holiday to celebrate my 60th Birthday and I was not disappointed. The Ship is wonderfully maintained by very hardworking crew. The cabin crew kept our cabin 918 clean and well maintained and were on call at any ... Read More
I was looking for a holiday to celebrate my 60th Birthday and I was not disappointed. The Ship is wonderfully maintained by very hardworking crew. The cabin crew kept our cabin 918 clean and well maintained and were on call at any time. It had a bow window and another window lovely and light, settee, coffee table, walk in wardrobe and on suite bath/shower with Elemis shower, shampoo and body lotions. Fresh fruit daily, Bed straightened and linen changed regularly, Evening include the bed turned down and chocolates on the pillows. Tea & Coffee facility in room all supplied with milk and sugar/sweetners. On Deck 9 only drawback was the noise on the first night -party night and early morning when you could hear the tables and chairs/lounges being pulled across the deck. Price to pay for being close to the Pool & Buffet deck. There is 2 seated restaurants, great food and entertainment from the singing waiters, 2 Buffet restaurants on deck 10, full english breakfast, continental,breakfast including ham and cheese, Cereals and fruits, also a Egg station for freshly made omelettes/or egg dishes and another for fresh pancakes and waffles. Full selection for Lunch & Dinner which changed daily included curries, pasta dishes, rice , fries and veg and an extra selection which could be wok cooked dishes or carved meat. You never need to go hungry, something even for my picky husband-plain dishes. Also you have the Bistro extra payment of approx £19.95 very special. you can is the seated restaurants pay extra for T Bone steak(£12.95) lovely. The Entertainment is brilliant with two main shows nightly - fantastic singers and dancers everyone puts in 100%. Africa show needs to be seen and their own group Mussik unlimited are full of life and wonderful voices. You can see them individually playing, guitars, pianos or singing at the many different venues onboard. Deck 9 has the quietest bar which has a piano easily accessible from our cabin. The SANA SPA needs to be visited as it a peaceful oasis with hairdressing and body(massages)- hot stones was fantastic. You can book a jacuzzi for a really indulgent treat. It was a treat after being out and about on the excursions, very relaxing. You can also book a photo shoot from the staff who take the photos as you join the cruise and in restaurants and excursions. Great for those on honeymoons or celebrating something special. The excursions have very informed guides and are fascinating to see the various islands, We enjoyed Madeira Cable car and botanical gardens, Fire mountain and Catamaran trips. Ports had plenty of ways to see the islands from Tuxzi's, taxis and buses- just visit the destination desk near reception. If you are celebrating you can book some special things at the celebrations desk. The Newspaper also has announcements and information on the ports. Timings for all the shows, arrivals in port and departures, times for food and bar opening times Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Let me first give you some background about us, both my wife and myself have cruised around the Carribean and the Med' on 5 star+ cruise ships and stopped in the some of the best hotels in the world, we are not snobby but do enjoy the ... Read More
Let me first give you some background about us, both my wife and myself have cruised around the Carribean and the Med' on 5 star+ cruise ships and stopped in the some of the best hotels in the world, we are not snobby but do enjoy the finer things in life. That said we have just returned from a last minute booking 7 day cruise around the Canaries on Thomson Majesty in a outside plus cabin the total cost with a flight seat upgrades, extra baggage and a drinks package was £1,500 !!! was it worth it? It certainly was one of the best holidays we have had in along time, yes the ship is "tired" but it is immaculate, every thing is functional. The staff are excellent, especially Bernard, Geny and Malanio in the 7 seas dining room, the entertainment team were the most professional we have seen anywhere! Now the food, was it good yes it was, some complained that the food in the buffet style eateries looked like slop, was cold and generally poor, I feel that food on a buffet does not generally look too appetising and when you have served yourself, carried it to your tablet and started to eat it it will have cooled down considerably! Why go there? The waiter service dining rooms delivered a 5 course first class meal that is HOT! to your table! with crisp white table cloths, musical entertainment and a full drinks service. The food at all the outlets during the day was excellent and varied. Now the cabins, we upgraded to an Outside plus cabin as opposed to just an outside cabin, it was well worth the upgrade (not much more) you get extra floor space, a fridge and extra wardrobe space, we had cabin no.659 deck 6 a perfect location. Would we go again? definitely! Would recommend the ship? definitely! Only niggle, the drinks package included every drink except some speciality drinks, but not water! So we could have a pint of lager @ £3.70 at no extra charge but had to pay £1.20 for a bottle of water for the kettle etc. it doesn't make sense. If this is, or is to be your first cruise do not think that all cruises/ships are like this, it's a budget cruise on a small ship, more like a 3* plus hotel on water unlike the big cruise line ship but don't let this put you off. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This was my 4th time on the Epic (33rd cruise overall on several lines) as I wanted to see what a holiday cruise would be like, visit Barcelona at Christmas & see some more places in Spain & Morocco. I was happy with all the ... Read More
This was my 4th time on the Epic (33rd cruise overall on several lines) as I wanted to see what a holiday cruise would be like, visit Barcelona at Christmas & see some more places in Spain & Morocco. I was happy with all the decorations, Santa, caroling & Midnight Mass but the ship seem quite crowded & very noisy this time. Turkey was offered on both Christmas Eve & Christmas Day with different sides, not as elaborate as I would have thought but nice anyway. Some desserts had cute little white chocolate "Merry Christmas" signs atop them. As my first cruise as platinum a couple of things were disappointing such as not being directed to the proper line for embarking & missing out on the behind the scenes tour which I was unaware was the 1st sea day & not repeated. One had to rsvp by 9:00 pm embarkation day which I missed since I was at the show. I stayed in the studio cabins again as the lounge is very important to me when cruising solo. I met some very nice people & even a friend from Holland I'd met there in May 2011 surprised me by coming on this sailing. I'd never seen so many people in the lounge & it was quite noisy at the nightly meeting. Vi(jay) our studio host was great & arranged lots of dinners, shows etc for the large group. He was a sweetheart He was also a participant in the "Dancing with the Epic Stars" show which is a hoot so don't miss it. My show reservations were changed from what I'd booked but that presented no problem to me. I always went to the shows, which were very good, half an hour before showtime & recommend you do the same for a good seat. The tv version of "Priscilla" was much naughtier than the ship's version which had music I knew & liked in it. I think the Atrium area is too small for some of the events taking place there & perhaps the theatre would be better. I played one game of Bingo at $39.95 which I find too costly for me, in Headliners, which is not really the best place for Bingo.. There was various trivias but they have the card system which I don't really like as much as getting the prize right away like on Getaway. I bought internet minutes to keep in touch with family back home but found the service quite slow although it was good enough for DH to either "Viber"or "Hangouts" me. There was only 4 computers in the library/internet area & the Manager's office was over by guest services which I found strange. I found the food to be very good. An occasional entree was lukewarm but tasty all the same. I had prepaid for a 3 dinner package (Moderno & Teppanyaki), booked Cirque in advance & received my 1st Le Bistro meal as platinum so had lots of dining options . The Cirque show was good as usual & I chose the premium package as I think sitting in the balcony is better to see all that's happening, of course if you want to possibly be in the show, sit downstairs. The nightly specials in O'Sheehans are worth trying, especially the prime rib offered twice on our sailing, yummy! The cabin was great as usual & my steward Nijith friendly & efficient. I love setting "make up the cabin" on the wheel outside the door & coming back from breakfast to find it done. Don't forget to change the "do not disturb sign" when you're finished napping etc or you'll prevent the steward from servicing the cabin. I booked 2 shore excursions through NCL in advance & was happy with them. They were quite busy so didn't allow time for shopping for a souvenir. Remember to take a warm jacket if you go to Mount Teide, it's very cold up there so I was glad I brought my winter coat. I chose to walk off to disembark so left around 9 as I was worried about finding my low cost BCN transfer but it all worked out okay. All in all I had a fun time but probably won't do Epic again as there are so many other ships to try. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Had a fabulous time on Epic when I did the 15 night Canary Island and Western Med cruise over Christmas and New Year. The only fault I could find was that the ship was just too big, I'm used to smaller with approx 2000 passengers. ... Read More
Had a fabulous time on Epic when I did the 15 night Canary Island and Western Med cruise over Christmas and New Year. The only fault I could find was that the ship was just too big, I'm used to smaller with approx 2000 passengers. However it was one of my best cruises ever. The Solo lounge is a great idea and both Vishy and William gave us outstanding attention , organising tables for dinner, and making show reservations. Ncl, please take note and put Solo lounges on all you ships. I left the ship in Tangiers and Malaga only because Tangiers was new to me and I wanted to see the Alhambra Palace in Grenada. All other ports I stayed on board as I had previously visited them all, and I really enjoy ships. The food in main dining rooms was very good, but the buffet food was better. I didn't go to any of the shows because I just fall asleep! I've slept through Elements - twice! I danced the night away every evening in Bliss, thanks to Fernando and the boys! Jill was a great cruise director, very high profile and a lovely lady, I fact I've never seen as much of any CD! She and Fernando her acd ran a wonderful team. Well done!! You made my holiday. The service throughout the ship was outstanding, with smiles all the way. Bar staff were great, remembering my drink every time. Imagine my surprise when one barman addressed me by name, remembering me from Jade! But then I've been on Jade three times during last year! I love Ncl and look forward to my next adventure with them and I specifically enjoy the Freestyle dining concept. What a wonderful idea! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
About the Reviewer: I’m a 33 year old male who traveled with two friends I made on a previous cruise in the studios. This was also my 33rd cruise overall and my 21st Norwegian Cruise Line cruise. I’ve been on other lines including ... Read More
About the Reviewer: I’m a 33 year old male who traveled with two friends I made on a previous cruise in the studios. This was also my 33rd cruise overall and my 21st Norwegian Cruise Line cruise. I’ve been on other lines including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and twice on Carnival with my last cruise being on the Carnival Inspiration. I sailed on the Norwegian Epic in 2011. The Epic recently underwent an extensive refurbishment so some comparing may take place in the review from the way she was before to now. The following is a review surrounding the Norwegian Epic’s 10 day Canary Island itinerary which departed on November 29, 2015 from Barcelona, Spain and returned on December 9, 2015 and is done in the order of which the ports, entertainment and specialty restaurants were done. Pre-Cruise Stay: H10 Raco del Pi I arrived one day early and stayed at the H10 Raco del Pi. After a cab ride from the airport to the hotel, check-in was fast and efficient. I stayed on the first floor in an astoundingly spacious suite for the price paid. The room had a balcony which overlooked the street below and featured his and her sinks, Jacuzzi tub with shower and huge bathroom for European standards. Cost was $100 USD for the night. I was surprised by the size of the room for the price paid. Day 1 – Embarkation Day – Sunday, November 29, 2015 I shared a cab from the hotel to the pier and arrived shortly after noon for check-in. The check-in lines were split with new comers to the cruise line in one queue, lower tier Latitudes (past guests) in another queue, Gold and Platinum Latitudes in another queue, Casinos at Sea in another queue and lastly the Haven and Suites guests in the last queue at the end. There was no one in the queue for the Platinum Latitudes which I was so I got waited on very quickly but had to wait for my two friends who were in the much longer Bronze and Silver Latitudes line. Overall, everyone’s check in was fairly fast and smooth or so I thought. We headed up the gangway. On the way up cruise staff were by the escalators greeting us and welcoming us to the Epic for the week. When I boarded the ship and was to be swiped in, my photo and keycard were not working already! I couldn’t get swiped on and had to go to guest services immediately and get a replacement keycard. Since we were on our way to lunch at Taste Restaurant, this was on our way there. There was no line at guest relations and we were on our way in a jiffy to Taste for a cruise kick off lunch. I had a philly cheese steak without the bread. During our lunch which was no closer to 1:45 when we finished, the cabins were announced as ready. Cabin 11570 – Studio Cabin The Norwegian Epic was the first ship in the Norwegian fleet to have solo studio cabins. The original is always the best as the studio cabin featured four multi-lighting schemes over the block containing the sink and closets. Featuring the colors of white for day, blue for night, red for love and green for the sake of it, the color change feature is missing on the newer Breakaway class ships. As a 100 square foot room, if you know how to pack it right, you have plenty of space to move about. The room was well maintained and the bed was soft to sleep on. I would NOT recommend staying in this specific cabin if you’re a night owl as when the ship pulled into port you were vibrated out of bed and definitely awakened. As a side note, this room was not a connecting room so I could blast my music from a portable speaker as loud as I wanted to. The room was so far aft that it had its own separate entrance from the aft elevators with separate keycard access. Given the amount of vibration felt in the cabin during the morning hours, I will not pick this room again as I like to be up late. Touring the Ship After dropping off the carry-on bag, it was time to explore the ship and see what changes were in store. I was excited to see the newly re-done Bliss. Gone are the cages on the side of the stage where you could get in and dance if you wanted to. The color scheme was also brightened so it was not as dark as I remembered. The lights could be raised and lowered depending on what event was being held in there. The bowling alley was also removed in favor of more seating. The lighting refresh also included low to the ground tables by the ramps which had housed lamps. On a previous cruise a passenger tripped over the table and crushed the lamp. The tables are a huge trip hazard at the end of those ramps and should be removed. While I didn’t encounter any issues with them, several of the other passengers on the sailing did trip and end up with bruises on their shins and almost falling. It was mentioned to the cruise staff a few times during the nightclub hours but nothing ever came of it. Other areas of the ship changed but the most noticeable was the change at LaCuccina which was not open the first few days of the voyage as they had to finish up some of the tile work which was not done during the dry dock. The large tree and the Olive Garden décor was replaced with marble and a fountain sink in the middle of the floor to wash your hands. Moderno also had two sinks installed for handwashing during dry dock as it has the buffet. Carpeting was refreshed everywhere and you could tell by how plush it was and it was shedding in some places. The casino seemed a lot less smoky this cruise compared to the last time I sailed on the Epic. I don’t know if they added more air purifiers or what but they were always on, even when the casino was closed to help make sure the smell of smoke stayed in the casino only. The shops received a refurbishment as well and I would pass through the center shop every night heading from my aft cabin to Bliss Lounge forward. Ship Demographics It was noticeable early on in the cruise that there were several ethnicities on the ship as the announcements were coming in English, Spanish and German. The number one country represented was the UK followed by the US. Israel, Germany and Japan all rounded out the top five ethnicities on the ship. Why this was important is because the different cultures have a different way of doing things and putting them together meant some ruffled feathers amongst other passengers. There were also far less children on this sailing. The average age was much higher as well. The 10 day length probably helped that. Nightly in the studio lounge at 6PM is the solos meet and greet hosted by a cruise staff member. This weeks was hosted by William. Lots of people showed up and we met some new people. This cruise had a diverse set of solos ranging in age from 29 on up to late 70s. Most people were just looking for dinner companions and maybe people to share a game or two with. I had dinner companions already but we found a new one this night and would dine together and hang out together for the rest of the cruise. After the solos gathering, it was time for the Friends of Dorothy gathering or the GLBT gathering at the Shaker’s Martini Bar. This is nightly and unhosted from 7PM to 8PM. The first night’s turnout was amazing and so big in fact that we ended up taking over the whole bar seating area. There was a nice bar waiter from Argentina who took very good care of us during the cruise. SPECIALTY DINING: Shanghai Restaurant Our first dinner on the Epic was at the fairly new non-cover charge Asian restaurant. We ordered all the appetizers to share at a table of four of us. We had several of the main dish plates including the General Tsao’s chicken, sweet and sour chicken, veggie rice and some seafood dishes. Thereafter, it was late so I checked out Bliss Lounge for the first night’s social mixer and welcome aboard party. The opening hour of the nightclub featured beats by DJ Alegre who played some interesting mash ups and kept a constant beat going with awesome transitions. When the DJs switched, it was noticeable. I approached the DJ Alegre and told him that I appreciated the mixes and looked forward to hearing him more during the cruise. Sadly, the other DJ who was just hired and came from RCCL (can’t remember the guy’s name) sucked and killed the vibe so I cleared out by 1AM. Day 2 – Sea Day – Monday, November 30, 2015 I was up early and decided to head to the gym to catch the Fab Abs class at 7:30AM. It was tight but I made it and had a nice abs workout augmented by using some of the other resistance machines in the gym. I did a 1.5 hour workout. The gym was well appointed and all the equipment was in good working order. After grabbing breakfast at the buffet and dining outside in the windy and somewhat chilly Mediterranean air, it was time to freshen up for the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet. Held at 11AM in Bliss due to the size of our Cruise Critic group, the officers stopped by and said hello. I saw some of the officers I recognized from previous sailings and talked with them briefly before the CC roll call leader did a raffle for answers to random roll call questions. It was very well done by the Group Service Coordinator on the ship. After the CC Meet and Greet, the group of us grabbed some lunch and visited the box office to fix the shows. We had pre-booked the shows before sailing but when we arrived we had discovered the show times were all changed and conflicted with dinner plans and other social events happening during the evening hours. After getting that straightened out, it was time for lunch in Taste before heading out for some cold sun and scoping out the top decks for the best place not to freeze to death. Tonight was Norwegian’s Night Out and after having dinner in the Manhattan dining room, it was time to go to Bliss Lounge. For the second night in a row, Bliss seemed to be stuck in a 70s / Latin circular setup with no changes to anything remotely close to Top 40. It was a complete buzz kill and I turned in early as I had to get up early for the next day’s tour. Day 3 – Tangier, Morocco – Tuesday, December 1, 2015 NCL Shore Excursion: Cap Spartel & Tetouan The full day tour started with a narrated bus ride to Cap Spartel for a brief stop for photos before heading to Tetouan. Unfortunately the guide failed to mention how far Tetouan was from the first stop resulting in several passengers needing to use a bathroom. The tour bus did not have a bathroom on it and passengers were in need. At one point the bus pulled over to let male passengers get out and pee on the side of the road. Classy with the rest of the bus looking on. Eventually there was a stop made at a restaurant for ladies to use the facilities. The tour continued into Tetouan and we arrived at the School of Traditional Arts and Crafts where artisans of all ages are making traditional handicrafts to be sold later. Across the street you enter old medina surrounded by a wall and several little streets within. A traditional Moroccan lunch was served in a restaurant which provided entertainment of a belly dancer, percussion band, string band and a fire dancer. On the way back to the ship, the driver let us all sleep and did not provide much narration. The cost of this tour raised since I booked it. It was a good tour but highly overpriced. Back on the ship, it was another dinner in the Manhattan room with great service followed by a short stint at karaoke before Bliss turned over to the nightclub. Tonight’s theme night in Bliss was the 50s and 60s Sock Hop Party. Unfortunately the party was only supposed to last 1 hour but carried on well past midnight so I went to bed at 1AM. Day 4 – Sea Day – Wednesday, December 2 Another early start to a relaxing day at sea. The weather had finally started to warm up a bit and since I was up early, I figured I would head to the Fab Abs class at 7:30AM. I made it up there with time to spare and when the stretch class ended, a group of people from the tour group went right in and ignored the line. I was forced to be outside the door due to the rudeness of these passengers. I was not happy but still managed to enjoy the workout anyway. Latitudes Perk: BEHIND-THE-SCENES TOUR: The rest of the morning was taking a behind the scenes tour for Platinum Latitudes members. The tour featured stops in the provisions, recycling, laundry and main dining room galley. This tour was the most informative tour I’ve taken in a while and went way beyond the time it was scheduled to because of it. George Kassis, the CruiseNext Manager, led the tour and explained what we were seeing along the way and how the crew lives. The provisions master explained how they stored the fruit for a 10 day cruise since the ship only provisions in Barcelona on such voyages. The head chef in the galley tour brought us to all the stations in the kitchen and explained how it worked for the menu preps. He was very thorough in his explanations and when I told him I loved strawberries, he arranged for me to get some whenever I dined in the main dining room (breakfast or dinner). It was very nice of him to do! On this sea day and every sea day that Moderno restaurant had a themed buffet lunch. Today’s theme was Mexican cuisine with burritos, rice, soup and salad offered. It was a nice buffet lunch! After a leisurely afternoon attempting to get some sun while not freezing in the crosswinds up on deck, it was time for an arranged birthday party in the studio lounge. Some of the solos on the Cruise Critic roll call arranged a birthday party for those who just had, were having or about to have birthdays! One person brought cards and had all the officers sign them at the Cruise Critic meet and greet earlier in the voyage so it was really personalized! What an awesome thing to do! Latitudes Perk: LATITUDES COCKTAIL PARTY: Held at 7PM in the Bliss Lounge this cruise it combined many of the latitude tiers because there were so few higher tier members on the ship. I was able to go with my friends who had not yet attained their Platinum status. We hung out at the bar and mingled with the cruise director and hotel director. Both of them were open and receptive to some suggested changes for Bliss and making the music a little more current. It was nice that they were listening and taking the comments to heart. Tonight’s dinner was in Taste Restaurant which ran really late. After it was over I checked out the FABBA party which ran from 10:30PM to 11:30PM before the rest of the night being the Glitter Ball 70s party. I went to bed early as I was feeling exhausted and the music was just more of the same in Bliss as it had been since embark night. Day 5 – Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands – Thursday, December 3 Today’s port call featured touring via the public transit system. My friends and I hopped city bus number 30 direct to Masoplomas in the southern part of Gran Canaria to see the beach, dunes and ride the camels. The bus pass cost $12.50 EU for the entire day with as many uses as you wanted. When we arrived in Masoplomas, there was a brief walk to the camel vendor. The camel ride was $12 EU per person. The camel ride lasted about 40 minutes and took you through the dunes. It was a nice jaunt and the camels were extremely photogenic. The guy leading the camels took pictures with people’s cameras if you asked which was nice of him. We had a brief lunch at a shopping mall close to the bus terminal and bought some souvenirs. We headed back to Gran Canaria and went into the supermarket inside the huge shopping mall right at the pier to get some goodies. Just a note during our bus ride at one of the stops, a pick pocketer tried to steal a tourist’s wallet. This guy happened to get caught doing it and the bus driver chased after him. It was an older gentleman with salt and pepper hair. Just be careful with your wallet at this stop. SPECIALTY RESTAURANT: Teppanyaki Tonight the solos went out to celebrate the birthday of William, the Cruise Staff overseeing the solos for the week. Teppanyaki is dinner cooked before your eyes with a show. The chef put on a show and did a great job. Unfortunately the waitress took forever to return with the dessert and the check. She pushed it so late that I barely made the show and had to stand in the back. EPIC Entertainment: OTHER GUYS: The late show was at 9:30PM and featured tunes from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The performance was great for standing room only audience and last approximately 45 minutes. I stayed the whole performance as it was enjoyable. They would play again at Headliners at other times during the cruise as well. After the show ended, I went up one deck to Bliss Nightclub for a 90s music hour with DJ Alegre. Thankfully tonight’s one hour of dance songs was amazing and I FINALLY got out on the dance floor. I was sure to thank Pedro, the Cruise Director and the Hotel Director for taking the disco out of the 70s it had been stuck in during the preceding nights of the cruise. It was a long day so I retired around 12:30A when the other DJ took over and threw us back into the same 70s and Latin music that was heard the other nights of the cruise. Day 6 – Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands – Friday, December 4 Today was another independent tour day which featured the Hop On, Hop Off Bus. The bus takes you around Tenerife with a narrated tour in different languages that you use ear buds for. It was cost effective and gave you history of the city while dropping you at different sites to visit. I enjoyed the large park. There was a large department store also during the route which had very reasonably priced souvenirs for sale. It was the perfect thing to do at your own pace. The problem was that the busses were crammed with people as there were three other large ships in port with us. Make sure you get off the ship early in this port to avoid lines for the bus. Cost was $18 EU. EPIC ENTERTAINMENT: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert What an amazing performance by the cast. Keeping the musical true to the actual movie, the show flowed seamlessly. A small technical glitch with the computer that ran the LED wall for visuals gave the audience a few moments pause between acts but the show went on with the same energy and vigor that was in the first half. The show features two drag queens and a transsexual who head on a bus to the center of Australia to perform with the lead character hiding the fact that he was married and had a kid waiting there. The show has some suggestive scenes and at times some raunchy language so it’s definitely not for the easily offended and not for children either. With that said, it was a perfect show for adults and it is very progressive of NCL to offer such a show at sea. I LOVED IT! I sat second row center for this performance and it was so good I had to go back again! SPECIALTY RESTAURANT: Le Bistro We were sat promptly at a window seat at 9PM for our reservation. This was the Latitudes perk dinner with some friends who also attended the show prior with me. I had escargot, the lamb and crème brulee. It was a nice dinner service. I tried another person’s scallops and they tasted horribly fishy like they had gone bad. It was the first time I had tasted bad food while at sea. Dinner service was great and attentive though and food was always hot and presented nicely. Tonight was 80s night at Bliss. I didn’t even bother going and just went back to the room and to bed. Day 7 – Funchal, Madeira, Portugal – Saturday, December 5 A Cruise Critic member organized a huge private tour group with David Madeira Taxi with four separate tour busses. The cost was $18 EU per person and featured all the major stops the ship tour was doing. If you wanted to do the cable car up to Monte it was additional and the toboggan ride back down was also additional but still far less than what the ship was offering. We drove all over the island to amazing heights and along the side of mountains. Since I have a fear of heights, my anxiety level was elevated the whole tour. The tour operator Sergio spoke perfect English and was very knowledgeable about the island, the places we were visiting and what was best in the short time we had at some of the stops. My favorite part was the little fishing village we stopped in. The tour was just over 5 hours long. SPECIALTY RESTAURANT: Moderno For $20 it’s an all you can eat meat fest! I love Moderno restaurant. The salad buffet has an extensive selection, not just of make your own salad but other salads as well. Picanha, garlic beef, filet mignon, chorizo are all my favorites and I had plenty of them while dining off to the side. In dry dock they did put handwashing sinks in this restaurant since it includes a buffet. Very neat but poorly used by the guests. We spent just about 2 hours in this restaurant eating. The papaya cream dessert is amazing too! Shout out to Melvyn, the restaurant manager, and the maître ‘d who got us attentive service so we could make the second show of… EPIC ENTERTAINMENT: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert Yes, the girls and I went back to see the show again at 10PM. This time the show went straight through with no intermission and it was just amazing. It was the last show of the cruise for the Priscilla cast. They truly brought their A game after performing many times already in the week. It was hilariously enjoyable and I sat stage left in the third row back. Great sightlines no matter where you are in the theater. The tunes are catchy and it’s a toe tapping good time! Glad I got to check it out again and my friends tagged along as well. They were not intending on seeing it a second time but after the first time they wanted to as well! It was just THAT good! Tonight was Country Western Night in Bliss so after the show and stopping up briefly, the vibe wasn’t there so I took off to bed. Day 8 – Sea Day – Sunday, December 6 It was a quiet day at sea. Not too much was going on except getting some sun while bundled up to stay warm. It was chilly on the top deck with highs in the 60s in the sunlight without a cross wind, which there was one. The buffet lunch in Moderno was Mediterranean cuisine with an extensive selection of Spanish and Portuguese items available. After lunch it was back up to the sun deck for a little while longer before a disco nap. Dinner tonight was in the Manhattan dining room with service which was fast and efficient until dessert. I don’t know why when you ask for coffee and dessert, service seems to slow to a crawl. It happened every night coffee or tea was asked for. It made some of the people I dined with miss the show. EPIC ENTERTAINMENT: Burn the Floor I barely made it into the show. It was standing room only at the back. During the opening number, a female dancer missed her mark and fell. The audience gasped. She got up and continued as gracefully as she could. It set a bad tone for the entire production. I don’t know if it was the format of it but for burning the floor, the production lacked passion, fire and a desire to engage the guests. They had a high energy Burlesque number and it was so subdued it seemed tortured. I love the Burn the Floor production on the Norwegian Breakaway but this one was just awful. I stayed until the end hoping it would get better but it never did. When you have songs with a beat, it helps if the cast is actually bringing it. The group choreography was also off. Being up the back and in nose bleed gave me the vantage point to observe it all from a distance. The singers, who were from the Priscilla cast were great but the dancers and the routines need some help. Breakaway’s Burn the Floor production blows this one out of the water. EPIC ENTERTAINMENT: White Hot Party The White Hot Party kicked off with the obligatory line dance songs for the first hour and really rolled into a huge dance party with DJ Alegre taking over for after hours at 11:30PM. I stayed up much later than I had planned as the music was on point. It was the BEST night of the disco the whole trip second to the 90s night. DJ Alegre didn’t disappoint and I was happy the night stayed true the south Florida roots of the White Party from which it was based upon. Well done DJ Alegre. I stayed in the disco until 2AM, having wings afterward and being up late enough to catch the ship transiting the Strait of Gibraltar at 2:45AM. Day 9 – Malaga, Spain – Monday, December 7 After sleeping in most of the morning, it was time to get off the ship for a walking tour or so I thought. It turned out we were an hour off from when we thought to meet and didn’t make it. An alternative was the hop on, hop off bus around the town of Malaga. Once again the HOHO bus was on point with history lessons between the stops of what we were driving by and about the upcoming stop. For $21.50EU, it was a good deal for the day. Most of the stops worth seeing are coupled in the Eastern side of Malaga with the Western side being more for connecting to other methods of transportation. For lunch we dined at El Pimpi, a famous tapas restaurant in Malaga. Get there prior to 2PM as locals tend to queue up at that time to get a table. We sampled some of their signature wine along with some tapas. I got the pallela for lunch with calamari and clams. It tasted great and it was a great time to sit down and have an outside piazza style lunch. We walked all over the old town afterward before I headed back on the HOHO to other stops I missed. On Malaga beach there’s a sign that’s a good photo op. Back on the ship I got to enjoy a special dinner with my friends who I made during the Breakaway cruise the previous year. It was a great dinner arranged by Grace, the Hotel Directors Secretary and meant to be special. It’s not often that you can reconnect with people you’ve cruised with in the past. It rarely happens that schedules can come together like they did on this voyage. Thanks to Grace for the special evening and the Hotel Director for having her arrange it for us. EPIC ENTERTAINMENT: Four Stations The 9:30PM show in the theater featured four guys from four different cities in Spain. A tribute group to Il Divo largely but included some Spanish favorites and Spanish covers to other popular English songs. It was a good show. Keeping with the Latin theme, it was Latin night in Bliss. I was exhausted so I just went to bed. Day 10 - Sea Day – Tuesday, December 8 A leisurely day at sea meant having a leisurely breakfast in the Taste Restaurant. It was far too cold to be topside for sunning so after a nice breakfast in Taste, it was the future cruise presentation with some friends to try and plan a reunion cruise. Lunch was in the Moderno restaurant again with a Spanish style buffet featuring Spanish rice and salad bar. It was a very nice lunch. It was a quiet afternoon which became the evening and time to say goodbye. I missed the studio lounge solos gathering but my friends made it and got the contact info for me. It was the last night for the GLBT meeting as well so everyone was exchanging information to keep in touch. We dined in the Manhattan room one last time with some of the new solo guests we had befriended during the voyage. The dinner ran later than expected and then it was time to head to Bliss for one last night. DJ Alegre took over at 11:30PM and did a great job to close out the cruise. Day 11 – Barcelona, Spain – Wednesday, December 9 – Debarkation Since the ship vibration woke me up in every port of call, I felt our arrival shortly after 5AM local time. NCL was not joking around about getting the passengers off the ship either. I had breakfast in Taste Restaurant. Debarkation started with easy walk off very early on around 7AM and all passengers were off the ship by 10:30AM at the latest. We got off the ship around 9:30AM and they were calling all the passengers off shortly thereafter. It was a fast and efficient process. While NCL was offering a bus transfer for $30 USD per person to the airport, if you had friends going like I did, the $39 fare for a taxi was a much better deal being split 3 ways. NCL did offer varying departure time busses depending on when your flight out was. Debarkation was fast and efficient. It’s not a good cruise without the crew being there. It’s important to thank the good crew members in a review so they get the recognition they deserve. Some of these folks were given a Vacation Hero card on the ship as well. With that said, these crew members made the trip an amazing experience: Quimson Aquino, Bartender at Spice H2O and Bliss. Quimson recognized me and I him from the Norwegian Jewel which I sailed on quite a few times in 2010. George Kassis, the Cruise Next Manager for helping out with a special request and for an incredibly informative behind-the-scenes ship tour. He also provided the tape I needed to fix my luggage which was destroyed during embarkation. Grace, the Hotel Director’s Secretary for being available and making our reunion dinner one to truly cherish and remember. DJ Alegre for being a great DJ when he had the late night slot in Bliss. With two DJs you never know who had the late night slot but when DJ Alegre had it, he did a phenomenal job. Jaime on the Cruise Director’s staff for being a positive energy experience no matter where I saw her out and about on the ship. Melvyn Lobos, Restaurant Manager for helping get our dinner service going so we didn’t miss any shows and the Moderno restaurant manager (female – can’t remember the name) who really stepped up that night. A ship is only as good as her crew… by and large this crew was super friendly! Overall, this cruise was a good cruise. It wasn’t great for reasons stated already throughout the cruise but it wouldn’t stop me from sailing on the Norwegian Epic or Norwegian Cruise Line again. The warm welcome back by familiar faces is one driving factor which keeps me returning to NCL. The fellow passengers and their behavior was out of the control of the cruise line so I can’t fault them for it, however, it did annoy the heck out of me at points during the vacation. Priscilla is not to be missed and the cast members who were out and about in the ports were equally nice and friendly to talk to. The show is something truly progressive at sea and I’m happy NCL offers it. It’s my favorite production show now on NCL (replacing Elements). This itinerary was a cold weatherand it’s something I knew going in but it is not an itinerary I would likely repeat at the same time of the year. It was far too cold but warm service from the crew and staff helped to make it a good experience. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Oceana to Madeira and the Canaries: great itinerary and ports, usual friendly service and good food. Some of the most experienced staff were taken to feed the monster Britannia, as we were the only ship in Southampton at the same time as ... Read More
Oceana to Madeira and the Canaries: great itinerary and ports, usual friendly service and good food. Some of the most experienced staff were taken to feed the monster Britannia, as we were the only ship in Southampton at the same time as her naming and maiden voyage. This led to some inexperienced staff serving us, with the usual good humour and obliging manner you get on P and O always, but some minor mistakes were made. However, I think we could all understand why this was. And seeing Her Majesty naming Britannia onboard was a great experience. Boarding was as usual very quick and efficient; 22 minutes from arrival at the dock to enjoying lunch! Cabins were ready promptly and my luggage was already there so unpacked rapidly. Nice to meet cruisemates from previous voyages at the safety drill. My free champagne voucher wasn't delivered until after dinner ( I was on 2nd sitting club dining) so i never got my sailaway drink until much later in the cruise. This was typical of the minor errors made on this cruise. Another was arriving back at the cabin after dinner and a show to find the turndown service not done; first time ever on P and O! If it had happened again I should have made a fuss, but was willing to overlook it once as there was clearly a lack of experience around the staff who served us. For once I paid my auto gratuities but did not leave extra; I usually do.. Weather was great until the last 2 days with lots of warm sunshine as you would expect in the Canaries. We did have a force 12 on the way back, and Oceana rode it very well. My knickers were swept off my C deck balcony by a huge wave; at least they were clean! I liked the activities especially the Spanish classes which were excellent and got me functioning in the language in a few days. The Classical pianist Tia Eagle was exceptional and I loved seeing the sisters Paige and Rihanna from Aurora last season on the new Headliners group, who gelled as a team very quickly and gave us some superb shows. Other musicians were good and there was as always lots to do though often I enjoyed just sunbathing and chilling on my balcony. Oceana's cabins are smaller than average but having been on her several times I knew that already and the bathroom was adequate though small, as was the balcony. Nice to see La Palma, a port I'd not been to before, and the Mount Teide trip on Tenerife was exceptional mainly due to the lava scenery and the wonderful guide we had. The only port where I stayed onboard was Lanzarote; I had already done the Timanfaya National Park trip and enjoyed it so much I didn't want to repeat it in case I spoiled my memories. Had a nice morning sunbathing on my balcony and listening to the full "fire and abandon ship" exercise which gave me more confidence in the crew training! In Madeira, Gran Canaria and Lisbon I did my own thing, deciding to get the "Hop on Hop off bus" in Lisbon. What a joke! I don't know why P and O recommend these buses. We spent 40 minutes travelling half a mile waiting for "more tourists" who never arrived. Finally most of us got off in Rossio Square. I walked uphill for over a mile to the King Edward the 7th park, and still beat the bus there! Eventually I caught another bus with a more sensible driver, who took me around the city centre and over to Belem, then back towards the ship. But I still had to get off and walk the final mile from the docks because as we were about to pull away, the same stupid long drink of water who had driven us in the morning ran towards the bus, put up his hand and stopped it for a 25 minute chat! I complained to Lee at the Future Cruise desk who promised to pass on my feedback. Really no one should be recommending these buses! A lot of people complained about the force 12 weather but I found it exciting! The food was really good. I had one poor meal; some venison that was too dry, and the waiters were most anxious to bring me something else, but really by the time I'd had a starter, soup, a pudding and cheese, I wasn't bothered. The gym was great and I went every day, therefore put on no weight on the cruise. I do wish it opened at 7.30 rather than 8 though; I HATE the "Snatch and Grab" and wanted to work out, shower and have a restaurant breakfast. Opening 30 minutes earlier would enable us to do this! One night I ate at the Marco restaurant and had a superb meal! As always it's great not to be treated like naughty schoolchildren and allowed to bring on board a bottle of gin; after all you buy the mixers from P and O! Nothing like a drink before dinner on the balcony. I also attended the Martini talks; Pawan, Albert and Sunny were superb and their talk was entertaining as well as alcoholic. I got to know them quite well in my daily visits to Magnums, which went some way to making up for the lack of a Crows' Nest on Oceana. All in all a lovely cruise. Booked my next, Aurora in October, on board.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Whilst this was my 15th (8th with NCL) cruise it was my first on one of NCLs small ships after having sailed on Epic, Breakaway and Getaway and RCCL ships like Independence of the seas, all of which are double Spirit's size I was ... Read More
Whilst this was my 15th (8th with NCL) cruise it was my first on one of NCLs small ships after having sailed on Epic, Breakaway and Getaway and RCCL ships like Independence of the seas, all of which are double Spirit's size I was slightly worried about going back to a small ship. However I loved the ship layout and the crew were probably amongst the best on any cruise I've done. Whilst the weather was a bit poor with some cold days and winds that caused some movement (again so used to the larger ships that hardly move) it was very enjoyable. The cabin was looking a bit tired, and some things like the toilet flush were a bit temperamental the bed/mattress seemed new. I missed the interactive TV feature to check onboard account etc and of course no iconcierge app for booking restaurants. The theatre is weird entering by the stage, so also a lot harder to sneak out mid performance!! Loved the wrap-around promenade deck and so plenty of sea views. The Raffles buffet was always great for breakfast with plenty of "overspill" tables on the terrace which was very useful. Ate at Cagneys one night. Food was good but service was slow. 2hrs from seated to dessert. Teppenyaki was better service but only one table so books up fast. But for me the crew, especially the bar staff in the Biergarten and Henry's made it really enjoyable. From Barcelona the embarkation and disembarkation are always simple and efficient. I'd definitely consider her again for a future cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
This review is my umpteenth cruise on Royal Caribbean and for all its faults I keep coming back. The review covers a 14 day cruise down to the Canary Islands round trip from Southampton. Embarkation was very simple from City Terminal and ... Read More
This review is my umpteenth cruise on Royal Caribbean and for all its faults I keep coming back. The review covers a 14 day cruise down to the Canary Islands round trip from Southampton. Embarkation was very simple from City Terminal and arriving after I.00pm I was able to board within about ten minutes. New for this year is that you are allowed to take on board two bottles of wine per stateroom. I travel solo and enjoyed a mini suite on deck nine. As far as the cabin was concerned there was very little difference from last year’s cruise except the cabin was slightly smaller (than Independence of the Seas) and to keep up the penny pinching standard RCL have installed restrictors on the wash basin taps. This I find infuriating it takes about three minutes to fill a cup! Plenty of coffee was available in suite along with a percolator. I mention this because I understand that coffee making facilities have been removed from lower grade cabins. This was all I could moan about as far as the cabin was concerned. The room attendant was great at his job and deserved every penny of his cut from the pre-paid tips. Plenty of shops on board for you to spend your money. These included jewelry, gifts, watches and hairdressers shops. Although these were only open whilst the ship was at sea. Lifeboat drill seems to have improved to the extent that drills (as far as I was concerned) were carried out on deck and not in the depths of the theatre although still without life jackets. As the school kids had returned to school the ship was populated mainly by people in their late 50’s to mid 70’s. There were a considerable number of wheel chair users on board plus several kids in wheel chairs who may well have been recipients of the Make A Wish foundation (sponsored by RCCL) which helps very poorly children. There were also some people in their 20’s who were probably there because they were getting married on board. There is only one specialty restaurant on board, Portofino’s which is Italian. The cover charge for this restaurant is $20.00 per person. I guess you could say that there is one other speciality restaurant. That is Johnny Rockets which specialises in burgers and fries. The cover charge for this is $4.95 per person. This restaurant is well past its sell by date by now and should be replaced with something a bit more upmarket. The ships staff as ever are first class and one wonders at the amount of training that must go on behind the scenes to make sure that everything is up to standard. This also goes for cleanliness. The antibiotic gel dispensers seem to have multiplied over the past year and now appear at every possible turn. On a tour of the kitchens you couldn’t see any dirt, grime or grease anywhere. I received no comments on Norovirus whilst I was on board. Entertainment: Well this has certainly degraded over the past 12 months and I was very disappointed. I won’t mention any names (probably because you will never have heard of them) but the shows varied from a singer to a hypnotist to a guy who showed his skills at BMX riding. This plus a couple of various average tribute acts Beatles etc. RCL have really cut back on high cost productions. However the ice shows are well worth a visit if you can get a ticket. I had paid up front for My Time Dining. Deck five is reserved for my time dining with decks three and four for diners that do not take advantage of this service. You do get to meet up with different people, some good some bad. But all in all this is the way I like to cruise. It worked well on Adventure but the front of house staff were under a lot of pressure and on one or two occasions failed to reduce the waiting hoards. On sea days buffet lunch is served on deck three otherwise it was the Windjammer self service that was the only option. There was a lot of choice and good quality food. The food in the MDR was very palatable but cost cutting was in evidence with no lobster on the 14 days cruise except at an additional cost of about $35.00. In fact lobster was on offer in Portofino’s but it wasn’t enough to fill a sandwich. The only other comment I would make about the food was that I hope you like mashed potato. RCL don’t do any other variety although it is served rather well. As far as the dress code was concerned there were three formal nights and the rest were casual. They seem to have done away with Smart Casual. i.e. a jacket and tie. Had I known I could have saved myself some luggage space by not packing a couple of jackets and ties. I do wish they would be more specific before I left home. To keep the headline price lower RCL are now charging for some items that were once included. For example shuttle busses. In some ports the local authority provides free bus transport into and from town and in some instances it is walkable. However, on those journeys that RCL do provide they do charge and the cost is about $12 - $16 per return ticket. As I wrote earlier there were very few kids onboard. I was assured that they had their own program and they were oblivious to the adults onboard. I was certainly oblivious to them. There is no flow rider on this ship but there is an ice skating rink, a nine hole putting green and a golf simulator. As far as activities to keep you occupied are concerned there was plenty of organized action in the main pool plus many quizzes per day and free instructional courses including towel folding and origami. There were also dancing classes. Several street shows were put on with sing alongs on the promenade deck. Everything from the 1950’s through to the 1970’s. This was very well put together. I think I must have been spoilt on previous cruises with Cruise Directors. The director that was in charge on this ship (Drew) was still learning his trade and needed to be taken in hand occasionally. Why can’t they find a U.K. based director to head this important function up? Many bars littered the ship and service was just about acceptable. This cruise did seem to suffer a dearth of waiters. But you wouldn’t die from thirst. I do wish they would mention the opening hours of the various bars on the daily bulletin. You could for example travel from deck five the Connoisseurs Club which was the only place I could smoke my cigars, to deck fourteen for a quiet drink and find there was no service. By the way the "Nineteenth Hole” bar is well worth a visit if you want some peace and quiet. Whilst on the subject of bars and drinks I have noted below the cost of various drinks. You will have to carry out your own conversion. "Indy” is Independence of the Seas and prices charged last year. These prices do not show any gratuity on the bill and you tip as you want. The "Adv” shows pricing for Adventure of the Seas. On Adventure the receipts now show that a 15% service charge is included with the bill but not shown separately. You should bear in mind that spirits are served (free pour) as approximately U.K. doubles. "Adv” 2013 "Indy” 2012 Bombay Gin and Tonic: $7.20 $7.00 Coke: $2.50 $2.25 Lager: $6.95 $6.95 So my G&T (on Adv) has increased by 20 cents (or 3%) and now includes a 15% tip. Lager has remained the same price and now includes a 15% tip. Not bad value. Off loading at Southampton was very smooth this journey and I was off the ship and on my way home by 8.00am. I’m sure the RCL have got this down to a fine art. Their system certainly seems to work. Anyway, I’m back on Adventure in May of next year. I shall write another review then.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
I always like to book a cruise to warmer climates in January or February every year just to get away from the cold rainy weather at home. I suspect that the majority of passengers on this cruise had the same thought in mind. I would be ... Read More
I always like to book a cruise to warmer climates in January or February every year just to get away from the cold rainy weather at home. I suspect that the majority of passengers on this cruise had the same thought in mind. I would be a solo cruiser on the Fantasia because my wife was not interested in a climate change. Embarkation: I drove my car to the Civitavecchia port and by prior arrangement parked it in a guarded lot about 200 meters from the cruise terminal and the ship. The price was €90 for the period I would be on the ship which I thought was quite reasonable, plus I had done the same thing on another Civitavecchia cruise in 2010. I wheeled my bags into the terminal and was immediately met by a MSC rep who took my bags and tagged them while directing me to the check-in desk. Check-in was almost instantaneous, my tickets were checked, credit card swiped, and with cruise card in hand I boarded the ship. I was met by an officer who welcomed me and turned me over to a cabin steward who led me to my cabin. About 20 minutes had elapsed from when I parked the car. The Ship: The 133,500 ton Fantasia was built in 2008, first in the class of three MSC cruise ships which include the Splendida and the Divina. It has a total of 18 decks of which 13 are for passengers and has a capacity of about 4,000 in 1,680 cabins ranging from luxurious Yacht Club suites to economical insides. The crew numbers more than 1,300. The cabins are mostly found on decks numbered 8 through 13, the vast majority with balconies. The sea view cabins and insides are mostly on the 5th deck while the Yacht Club suites are toward the bow on decks 15 and 16. Deck 14 is a busy one with the self-service buffet , spa, pools and several bars. The Yacht Club is an exclusive class area that would resemble the old first class concept on the cruise ships of many years ago. Down on the lower decks 5, 6, and 7 are the two main restaurants, shops, lounges, bars, and offices. The promenade/jogging deck is number 15 but is crowded with sun beds on warm-weather cruises. The Cabin: My cabin was number 12110 on Deck 12 named Incanto Deck. It was classed as a Category 10 superior balcony cabin and quite comfortable. It measured 23 square meters which included the bathroom and balcony, so about 18 meters of inside living space, fine for a couple and great for a solo passenger like me. It had a comfortable king-size bed with lovely new linens, a nice three-person couch with a small oval table, a desk with a hassock, huge mirrors, and a three door wardrobe, one section of which had shelves and drawers plus a safe. The desk had but two smallish drawers, one of which had the hair dryer, and a couple shelves for books and things with the TV on the top. Both European and American electrical outlets were at the desk and in the bathroom. I used my laptop on the desk. The cabin was in excellent condition and very clean. The only negative thing I found was the bedspread had a couple burn marks and should have been replaced. The balcony was large enough and had two rattan chairs with a table/foot stool and was glass fronted. The bathroom wasn't huge but was more than adequate and had the usual vacuum toilet. A small sink with shelves right and left and some storage underneath. The shower stall was large enough and had a non-attacking curtain. Bath gel and shampoo dispensers were on the wall. I was pleased with the bath linens throughout my cruise. Towels were white and fluffy, fairly new, and there were even face cloths. My excellent cabin steward was a very friendly lady from Indonesia named Ita whose English and Italian were very, very good. She consistently provided me outstanding service. As an MSC Club member I always had a bowl of fresh fruit in the cabin which was replenished almost every day. Sometimes I found myself with three bowls on my table because I could only eat two or three pieces of fruit each day. Ita also ensured that I always had a fresh one-litre bottle of water in the cabin which with my MSC Club discount cost me €2 each. The cabin was quiet, no vibrations, and even when the sea was rough I noticed only minimal movement. I always book a mid-ship cabin with cabin decks above and below which usually ensures low noise levels and minimal ship movement. I was very satisfied with this cabin. Service and Staff: I found the staff members in the Customer Service, Accounting, and Excursion offices to be professional, friendly, and very helpful whenever I had a question or had need of their services. Passenger Mix: The ship had almost a full capacity of 4,000 on this cruise with half of the passengers from Germany. I neglected to ask specific numbers by nationality as I usually do on my cruises. There were quite a few young families with small children but most of the passengers were in the 55+ category. Cleanliness: Like all MSC ships, the policy on the Fantasia was to continually clean and polish every surface and corner possible. There were hand sanitizers at the entrances to the restaurant and buffets, as well as at the boarding points. In the case of the restaurants a staff person was at the entrance asking everyone to use them. Smoking: As is usually found on all ships of the MSC fleet, the smoking areas were on the port side and the two main lounges were divided as so with smoking on the left and non-smoking on the right. The various lounges had separate smoking and non-smoking areas. Smoking was permitted on the open decks and the casino while the rest of the ship seemed to be smoke-free. I did not notice any tobacco smell coming from the cabins when walking through the corridors. On MSC ships smoking is strongly discouraged in the cabins and prohibited on balconies. Naturally it was prohibited in the restaurants, theatre, corridors, and inside common areas. Restaurants and Bars: The Fantasia had two main dining rooms (MDR), the two deck Red Velvet mid ship on the 5th and 6th decks, and the Cerchio d'Oro in the stern of the 6th, plus a huge self-service buffet restaurant up on the 14th . The Cerchio d'Oro was open for breakfast and lunch with open seating while both MDRs opened for dinner at with two seatings at 18.30 and 20.30 respectively. The beautiful L'Etoile Restaurant on deck 15 is now reserved exclusively for Yacht Club guests. The only other specialty restaurant was the underused El Sombrero tex-mex restaurant on Deck 7. There were numerous bars and lounges on decks 5, 6, and 7, and up on decks 14 and 15. The night-time disco was even higher, on deck 16. As always, I ask for the second sitting in the MDR which I find more relaxing, quieter, and more to my normal style. I was assigned to table number 570 in the Red Velvet with a Serbian waiter named Sasa Pesic, very friendly and competent. My five table mates were all from Rome, one couple and three ladies, cruising solo like me. We enjoyed each other's company throughout the cruise. Other than for the three gala nights, the evening dinner menus were based on cuisine from various Italian cities. Each evening was different, Sorrento, Venice, Rome, Cagliari, etc. The food was generally good with only two or three so-so's during the entire cruise. My complaint is that the MSC menus have remained the same for years and I'm beginning to recognize all the dishes, i.e., tonight is the Bari menu so the pasta dishes will be these and the entrees thus. It's getting to be boring! The only exception was the menu for one evening called "Festa Italiana," celebrating the 150th year of Italian unity. It was a pleasure to find our maitre d' was and old acquaintance from another MSC cruise several years ago. I drink wine with my meals and found the wine list to be good with prices for Italian reds in the 17 to 28 euro range. One bottle would last me three evenings and the waiter would cork it and save it for the next time. I generally used the buffet for breakfast and lunch. The Fantasia's buffet was huge and at lunch offered a vast variety of hot dishes, cold dishes, salads, pastas and soups, daily Italian specialties, desserts, fruit, and an ethnic area featuring mainly Oriental dishes. Breakfast appealed to most everyone and consisted of Italian pastries, eggs scrambled, fried, hard boiled and at least two types of omelets, pancakes, waffles, cereals, fruit, etc. I never had a problem finding a place to sit, especially in the stern area which always had free tables. In keeping with the new MSC policy of appeasing other cultures, the water, coffee and tea dispensers were open all day long and in the evening. From 19.00 to 20.30 each evening a limited service buffet was open for those who didn't care to dress for the MDR. As far as the bars went, I found the best espresso coffee to be had at the appropriately named Cappuccino Bar on deck 7. One of the nicest areas of the ship was the Piazza San Giorgio on deck 6 with luscious cakes and pastries and ice cream specialties. The bars and lounges were almost too numerous to count and most had activity throughout the afternoon and evening. Every afternoon there was tea and little pastries or sandwiches in the buffet and a midnight treat in the evening. The Buffet Magnifico on the next to the last evening was truly magnificent. Library and Internet. The Library was open for an hour or two twice a day and had an excellent collection of English language books as well as sections for many other languages. It had a good number of computers for passenger use which were available even when the book lending was closed. I had my own laptop computer so I signed up for the internet package, 500 minutes for €60 (minus 20% for MSC Club members) and made good use of it in my cabin. It wasn't the fastest internet connection but considerably better that a few years ago when shipboard internet was really slow. Laundry: MSC has a great laundry deal - up to 30 pieces per cabin per cruise for only €25, or reasonable per-piece prices which MSC Club members are entitled to discounts ranging from 20 to 30% depending on club category. I always use the ship's laundry when I cruise so I can pack less and keep the weight down in my suitcase. In any case the Fantasia's laundry provided excellent service. Gym and Spa: The Fantasia had a very large gym with a vast number of machines available for use as well as more than adequate open areas for physical conditioning. The spa was huge and had its own bar along with saunas, massage rooms, and ladies beauty salon. I signed up for a massage package and enjoyed the expert care of a lovely young Balinese therapist named Suzi. Entertainment: The Fantasia's animation team worked full time to keep passengers entertained with games and quizzes during the day and silly variety shows in the evening. Also in the evening were professional musical performances, classical singing, shows, and reviews by the beautiful ship's dancers and other groups which were embarked . Passenger participation appeared to be quite good. The ship's theatre occupied three decks in the bow. On the day we were at Tenerife there was a beautiful classical concert by the local symphony orchestra. During their one hour performance they entertained the passengers with the music of Rossini, Mozart, Greig, Beethoven and Strauss. It was truely an emotional experience. Weather and Climatic Conditions: Aside from the freezing cold we found at Genoa, for the most part the weather we encountered was considerably warmer than that we left at home. The seas were reasonably calm or just choppy except toward the end when we had a very rough crossing between southern Spain and Sardinia. Port Calls and Shore Excursions: Day 1 - Civitavecchia embarkation. Weather good with an afternoon temperature around 14 degrees. At 17.00 the newly embarked passengers received a welcome from the Cruise Director and staff and the mandatory life jacket instruction at the muster stations. At 19.00 we pulled out of the harbour right on schedule and headed north. Day 2 - Genoa. Slight sea during the night, morning partially sunny but very cold with a biting wind. The temperature never rose higher than 4?. The majority of the passengers ended their cruise here. I joined the Genoa Historical Centre tour with a local lady named Alessandra who spoke English like a native. Very interesting notwithstanding the cold. We were transferred from the cruise terminal to the Aquarium port in a small local ferry followed by a walking tour through the town centre. At the ducal palace we were treated to a snack of Ligurian specialties and white wine. A nice touch. Back on the ship we had our full muster drill along with all the new passengers who just embarked, and at 17.00 we set sail toward warmer lands. Day 3 - At Sea until 12.00 when we arrived at Barcelona. Overcast morning, sea mildly choppy, and air still cold but it warmed to about 14? when we reached Barcelona. Here I went on the Montserrat Monastery excursion which took about an hour on a bus with English and German speakers. At 725 metres above sea level, the monastery was a bit chilly. We returned to the ship by 17.30 and departed at 18.00. Day 4 - At Sea. Sky overcast, sea choppy, it was warming up. The Sierra Nevada mountains were readily visible as we cruised along the coast of southern Spain. First gala dinner in the MDR this evening. We passed by Gibraltar about 23.00. Day 5 - Casablanca, Morocco. Sea choppy during the night and overcast morning. We tied up at 08.00 and at 08.30 I left with the Casablanca-Hassan II Mosque tour. After many visits to Casablanca this was the first time I was able to see the interior of this huge mosque. It was well worth waiting for because it was truly magnificent with even a full hamman and pool in the lower level. We also visited the Governor's palace and the outside plaza of the Casablanca Royal Palace, as well as a panoramic tour of several neighbourhoods. Unfortunately it was raining by the time we returned to the port. After the other excursions returned we departed Casablanca at 22.00. Day 6 - At Sea. Overcast, coolish, and rough sea. Luckily the sun came out in the afternoon and the sun loungers started filling up. Festa Italiana this evening in the MDR with lots of related activities before and after. Day 7 - Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands). Sea choppy during the night. The day started out with an overcast sky but the temperature gradually increased to about 18?. This was my second visit to Tenerife so I had opted for the "Jeep Safari" excursion which turned out to be a good choice to see an area of the island somewhat off the beaten track so to speak. We went to the Las Teresitas beach and then across the island to the little village of Taganana, followed by a rest stop on the northwest coast at Bodegas Roque. Our route of return took us to the highest point of the north, Mirador Ingeles, and then through La Laguna and back to Santa Cruz and the ship in time for a late lunch. In the afternoon we were treated to a classical concert in the ship's theatre performed by the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, truly a rare and moving experience on board a cruise ship. Day 8 - Funchal, Madeira. Sea smooth, and finally a warm sunny day with hardly a cloud in the sky. The morning temperature was 14? but by midday it reached 20?. It was my second visit here also. At 10.00 I went on the Eira do Serrado tour which took us to a high mirador of 1026 metres surrounded by mountains and forests. From here we crossed over to Monte where we descended back down to Funchal on the cable car. A bit of shopping in Funchal and we were back on the ship by 14.00. Three hours later we left in a choppy sea bound for Gibraltar and the Mediterranean. Day 9 - At Sea. Mildly rough during the night and slightly overcast in the morning. Sunny in the afternoon to allow sun lounging and swimming for the hearty North Europeans. Day 10 - Malaga. Sea choppy, beautiful day with temperatures ranging from 14? in the morning to 21? in the afternoon. Malaga is another city that I've been many times, so I took the Marbella-Puerto Banus tour just to have something new to do. Marbella is a nice town but gets swamped with holiday makers in the summer and the port is just another expensive yacht basin. The port of Malaga on the other hand is becoming quite beautiful and functional with new terminals and shopping areas. Construction has been ongoing for several years. MSC Club member cocktail this evening with the final gala dinner. Day 11 - At Sea. The sea had turned quite rough, high winds, with the weather overcast to rainy and cold. Finally by evening when we began our passage through the strait between Corsica and Sardinia the sea calmed down to allow us a pleasant final dinner and restful night. Day 12 - Civitavecchia. Disembarkation. Weather sunny but rather cool after Malaga's warmth. Disembarkation: After breakfast I made my goodbyes to my steward and left my cabin at 08.30. We docked at 09.10 and after a short wait in a lounge, by 10.30 I had my bags and proceeded to retrieve my car. The cruise was over. Conclusions: Even though the Fantasia is a very large cruise ship, she was easy to navigate through and had just about every amenity one could ask for. I had already had a cruise on her sister ship, the Splendida so she was well known to me since everything was the same besides the names of the localities. The cruise itinerary was also a repeat for me so it was just a nice, relaxing, easy cruise to enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
My first Christmas on holiday and now I know why some people choose to spend them holidaying..... I deliberately chose a fairly small ship as I was travelling solo. I wanted friendliness and was not disappointed. Such a ... Read More
My first Christmas on holiday and now I know why some people choose to spend them holidaying..... I deliberately chose a fairly small ship as I was travelling solo. I wanted friendliness and was not disappointed. Such a variety of food - being a fish lover I tasted the best fish dishes ever: including grilled hake, flaked salmon, tuna, cod, poached salmon. What really helped to make it was the entertainment - 5* Christmas Day I watched a pantomime with a real traditional flavour and all 7 evening performances including a comedian and Dean Martin impersonator. All were great!! On entering the main restaurant Christmas morning I was greeted with - Madam, would you like bucks fizz or champagne with your breakfast? Lovely Will definitely be sailing on the ship again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
this was the first time on royal caribbean and the last. first impression great looking ship and thats the only good thing about it. entertainment verry good except you have to get your tickets for the ice shows on your first day at sea ... Read More
this was the first time on royal caribbean and the last. first impression great looking ship and thats the only good thing about it. entertainment verry good except you have to get your tickets for the ice shows on your first day at sea otherwise you wont get to see them.The cabin was comfortable.First night at dinner was the worst experiance i have ever had on a cruise before.Had to wait one hour for first course then when main course was served it wasnt worth waiting for.all it was waqs a steak with a jacket potatoe rolling round on the plate with 2 mushrooms and 3 mangetout peas and all of that was cold.Never got coffee had to leave for the next sitting.Went to dinner second night diddnt have to wait as long but anything you have is always served with a jacket potatoe rolling round on your plate and luke warm. Never went to dinning room again.The self service was a free for all always the same food and always luke warm.The only dinning place which served hot food was the burger bar and you had to pay for that.24 hour food was either filled roll ar pizza tea and coffee was plastic cups anywhere on the ship and they were mugs then you have a battle to find a seat to drink it.THE SHOPS are just one big rip off.Everything was so overpriced a family would need a mortgage.One of the cloths shops had a jacket which i hab bought on po aurora it was double the price to aurora.Drinks prices are extortionate and you cant take any drink you buy to your cabin.I have had better in a motorway caff. All you hear allday is if you leave your sunlounger your towel will be removed and your towels are charged to your onboard account untill you return them.Also all you hear is vacate your seat in the selfservice dinning hall when you have finnished this announcment is every 10 miniuts.The shuttle busses for all ports of call are charged and expensive. on ports of call if you stay onboard to sunbathe you are told to leave at around 4pm so they can stack the sun loungers away and that is usually 2 hours before you set sail. If you buy any dutyfree shopping ie alchohol tobacco ashore it is taken away from you when you get onboard and returned on your last night this is so you have to buy all your drinks from their bars and pay more for them than you would in any pub in england.IF YOU MAKE A COMPLAINT AT THE DESK THE STAFF LOOK AT YOU AS IF YOU WERE SOMTHING DIRTY ON THEIR SHOE AND DO NOT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT ANYWAY.I have never been on a cruise before and checked what i have spent on my onboard account on a daily basis but this time i had to.All in all if some of my friends had not been on this cruise i would have got off at the the first port.One last word of advice DO NOT PREPAY YOUR TIPS WHEN BOOKING YOUR CRUISE. BECAUSE WHEN YOU GET BAD SERVICE YOU CANNOT CHOOSE WHO GETS THE MONEY. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009

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