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23 Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Spa Cruise Reviews

This was our 6th cruise and what a difference finding the right cruise line makes. Our previous cruises were 1 Carnival (never again), 3 Royal Caribbean (previous favorite) and 1 NCL (never again). We were looking for an itinerary that ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise and what a difference finding the right cruise line makes. Our previous cruises were 1 Carnival (never again), 3 Royal Caribbean (previous favorite) and 1 NCL (never again). We were looking for an itinerary that marked some destinations off our bucket list, did not cater to children (love them, but wanted a break), an outstanding ship and service as well as fellow cruisers who are able to behave like adults (see Carnival cruise). This trip exceeded all of our expectations on those points. Destinations: All tours we booked were offline. In addition to all that implies (smaller groups, flexibility, personal attention), we wound up having a core group that we toured with. Thank you Cruise Critic and thanks to our companions! What a difference that made to feel like we were traveling with friends! The destinations were all good. Our thinking was we may never pass this way again, so we felt lucky to experience each one, even if we may not want to pass that way again. If we were going to pick favorites, we especially enjoyed Santorini and Naples, specifically Positano. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Ephesus and the Terrace Houses. We did not have enough time at Pompeii. If that is your interest, then that would take all day, at minimum, to see it all. Would recommend you get a guide at Pompeii as the little recorded gizmos require some divine intervention to operate. Note that this itinerary is very walk intensive. The Acropolis and Pompeii require quite an uphill hike for those of us no longer in peak condition (as if I ever was!). Even Positano was a huff and puff stroll. Lots of opportunity to stop and pretend you are fascinated by shops to catch your wind. Ship: Our last cruise was on the Norwegian Epic. That ship felt like a floating tomb to me. Very dark and closed in. Was so happy to find that the Reflection was light and bright. It was very clean and, to a person, the crew was always smiling and greeted you. Because our ports were quite strenuous, we didn't really explore the ship like we would ordinarily. Frankly, we were tired! Would have like to have had a few more sea days to really enjoy the ship. Service: We had an Aqua Suite which meant we had a butler. His name is Samuel Rodney. He did a fantastic job for us. I'm never really sure what all that is supposed to entail, but we never wanted for anything. He got my card key replaced so I didn't have to go to Guest Relations and helped my husband find his belt even after we had given up the search. Service on the rest of the ship was just fine, no complaints. Dining: While we had access to Blu, we weren't crazy about the menu. TIP: unless you want something to laugh about for the rest of the trip, avoid the lettuce water and yogurt soup. It is as nasty as it sounds. Service was outstanding. That was ok though because there were plenty of other places to eat. We tried Murano and Lawn Club Grill. Would do the Grill again, but would probably choose a different Specialty restaurant next time. Entertainment: we went to one show early on and didn't stay for the whole thing. It wasn't actually bad, but we were so tired that sleep became a bigger priority. We did appreciate that there were only two smoking areas. That made the casino, for example, a nice place to lose your money. Felt like Sky Lounge was under utilized except the one night the 'professional hockey player' (no idea if that was true, but his buddy kept announcing it loudly) and his friends showed up and took over the dance floor and band instruments since no one else was there. And that show wasn't even included in the price of the cruise! Haha. Kinda felt sorry for them because we heard the median age of traveler on the ship was 71. I guess there really wasn't a good place for them to go with all that youthful exuberance. Spa: we were Aqua Suite, but because we were so port intensive and basically exhausted, we really didn't get the bang for the buck on this. Lesson learned, but the cabin was awesome. We've been back almost a week now and we decided that if we could do it all over again, we would in a heartbeat. We are counting the days until our next cruise with Celebrity!   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
The Itinerary of ship for 7 nts was very good with all ports worth seeing. The biggest disappointment was how much RCCL nickeled and dimed you once onboard. Charging for orange juice ( fresh squeezed at 4.00 a glass) , Extra if you wanted ... Read More
The Itinerary of ship for 7 nts was very good with all ports worth seeing. The biggest disappointment was how much RCCL nickeled and dimed you once onboard. Charging for orange juice ( fresh squeezed at 4.00 a glass) , Extra if you wanted a decent steak or lobster in dining room . Pictures were way overpriced. No wonder no body buys them and they get all trashed. 20.95 for a photo is RIDICULOUS! A couple of shows onboard were worth seeing, including Jersey Boys tunes. and Ice skating. Most were mediocre or not worth the time. Snacks in Promenade cafe good and complimentary. Johnney Rockets fun. Shore excursions pricey. Embarking and disembarking really easy. Specialty dining at PORTOFINOS was excellent. Waiter was good and food excellent. Only bad experience there is they charged both rooms cost for 3 so we were double billed. When trying to correct this at Pursers desk... attendants there are clueless and are less than zero for help. We finally had to go back to Portofinos to get charge fixed. Also I am a travel agent and sent wine to my friends. Good thing I brought receipt because again Pursers desk was clueless and took an hour to get the wine finally!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Just returned from a cruise on the Silhouette that was awesome. Great ship wonderful service and the ports we went to were the best. The Greek Islands and Turkey were more than we expected as to beauty and friendly people. The ship never ... Read More
Just returned from a cruise on the Silhouette that was awesome. Great ship wonderful service and the ports we went to were the best. The Greek Islands and Turkey were more than we expected as to beauty and friendly people. The ship never seemed to have as many people on it that were there. Very organized and the dining was superb. The ship was sparkling clean many activities to participate in and the room was wonderful. We travelled Concierge Level and the balcony was one of the best parts of the trip. Breakfast in the room every day..appetizers every afternoon fresh fruit daily and a free bottle of champagne on arrival and on my birthday. I would recommend this trip and this ship to everyone. They did not disappoint. On my birthday I had a wonderful cake and celebrated with the best people in the world my best friend and four new best friends that I met on the cruise. I can;t say enough about this experience. Denis was our cabin attendant and was great. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
My partner and I recently returned from a 12-day Mediterranean cruise onboard Cunard's QUEEN ELIZABETH. This ranks as one of those trips that was just about as near perfect as one could wish for. For those only interested in the ... Read More
My partner and I recently returned from a 12-day Mediterranean cruise onboard Cunard's QUEEN ELIZABETH. This ranks as one of those trips that was just about as near perfect as one could wish for. For those only interested in the pictures, and there are over 600, here is the link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eroller/sets/72157637358470363/ We flew to Rome nonstop from Miami on Alitalia. The agent took a liking to us and blocked four seats just for us in the center section. Off to a great start! The flight was very comfortable with good service, and it's the first time I've experienced live cameras providing a forward and ground view on the in-seat monitors. I thought that was pretty cool. Upon arrival in Rome we were met by Cunard's airport staff who really went out of their way to make us feel welcome and comfortable. They took our luggage and the next time we saw it was in our cabin. We only had to wait about 15 minutes before we were on the bus headed to the ship ... or were we? Actually since we were so early Cunard provided a motor coach mini-tour of Rome before heading to Civitavecchia where the ship was docked. This was certainly an unexpected surprise, and what a difference from our Costa experience in April where we basically had to loiter around the airport for almost four hours before they took us to the ship. Embarking QUEEN ELIZABETH was a breeze, with no lines, no waits, and a very simple check-in process. Disembarkation in Venice 12 days later was just as painless. I was anxious to see QUEEN ELIZABETH having already sailed on her sister QUEEN VICTORIA and the Cunard flagship QM2. The QE is the same basic design as QV but with some minor changes to the layout and a more art deco interior design. I quite liked it and immediately felt very comfortable in my new surroundings. The ship was spotless and essentially looked brand new. QE is a Vista Class, but with a custom layout for Cunard that includes far more multi-level spaces and public areas that are more airy and bright compared to her counterparts sailing for Holland America. In fact you would be hard pressed to realize QE was even related to her HAL cousins unless you knew in advance. The overall ambiance of QE is Cunard through and through. For those not familiar with Cunard, it's truly the last seagoing experience that beckons to a bygone era of tradition, formality, and civility. The atmosphere onboard is sophisticated, spacious, elegant, and yes very British! Our passenger compliment was probably around 60% British, 30% American, and 10% a mixture of Japanese and Europeans. Daytime activities include enrichment lectures, an afternoon message, lounging by the pool, and of course afternoon tea. Since this cruise was so port intensive, most days were spent ashore. In the evening a jacket is required after 6pm as the minimum dress code. Everyone honored the dress code which was a breath of fresh air. Not a single T-shirt or flip flops spotted in the dining room! Cunard cherishes its history, and is probably the only cruise line with an authentic bookshop onboard selling Cunard memorabilia as well as ocean liner books, cards, and puzzles. My partner who has little interest in ocean liner history really loved the Cunard experience, and surprisingly wanted to stop by the bookshop almost every night. It was something unique that he had not experienced on any other ship. To accompany the book shop is a fully stocked two level library complete with librarian. Proudly displayed all over the ship is artwork and artifacts from Cunard's illustrious past. If you require even more reminding that you are sailing with a company steeped in tradition and history, then a channel on your TV is dedicated to programs about Cunard history and its past vessels. Needless to say this was my favorite channel! Evenings on Cunard are quite elegant and formal, with music throughout the ship, costume balls in the Queens Room, ballroom dancing complete with gentleman hosts, big band, production shows of a fairly decent quality, and yes even disco dancing! The fine art of paying attention to the details is not lost on Cunard. There are nice touches like sparkling wine upon arrival, turndown service with chocolates on your pillow, Gilchrist & Soames bath products, robes & slippers, and even a daily newspaper delivered nightly with news from your home country. Many cruise lines have done away with these amenities, but Cunard continues to uphold the tradition. What you won't find on Cunard are endless revenue producing announcements, obnoxious art auctions, constant nickel & diming, bellyflop contests by the pool, rock climbing walls, shorts in the dining room, or buckets of beer. If these are things you will miss then Cunard is clearly not for you. We opted for a standard outside cabin thinking it would be too cold to make use of a balcony. Were we ever wrong on that one. The weather was amazing the entire two weeks with warm air and cloudless sunny skies. It might be the best weather I've ever experienced on a cruise. The seas were as equally calm as the skies, and never once did we feel the ship move. I was actually a little disappointed in that fact, but it was perfect for my partner who is prone to motion sickness. I really enjoyed our cabin and its location on Deck 1. Our midship Deck 1 location was perfect for a port intensive itinerary. The gangway was never too far away and the main lounges were a short jaunt down the hall or up a deck. The window and its opening was large enough to sit in and read a book. Bedding was very comfortable and decor was soothing. Our cabin stewardess Rosalina was one of the best we ever encountered. Three things lacking were drawer space, a proper shelf in the small shower, and an interactive TV. We did order room service on occasion and it was always delivered right on schedule and delicious. The dining experience on QE was quite good. We opted for late sitting and a table for two. We were in a nice section near the windows very close to three other tables for two. Two of the tables were next to us and another behind us. If you were looking for a private dining experience this arrangement would not have been ideal, as the tables were quite close to each other. As it turns out we got along great with our fellow two-tops and enjoyed some great conversations (thanks Dee & Michael!). Our serving team did a great job as did the wine steward who appeared every night almost as we sat down. I'm glad Cunard has kept the wine stewards and not placed the task on the already overworked wait staff as many cruise lines have done. One option missing from the experience was an "always available" selection on the menu. This is offered on most other lines and usually includes a steak, fish, salad, and chicken option. It's always nice to have such options in case nothing appeals to you on the main menu. Luckily we never had that problem but I'm surprised it wasn't offered in the Britannia Restaurant. We dined in the Britannia Restaurant every night except two. For my birthday we dined in the Verandah Restaurant, which is an a la carte speciality dining experience drawing its roots from the original QUEEN ELIZABETH and QUEEN MARY. I opted for the tasting menu which was very French and very unusual for my taste buds. I quite enjoyed it but it was a lot of food. The overall experience was quite nice but I still feel Celebrity Cruises has the best speciality restaurants at sea. Another night we dined up in the Lido Restaurant with the Spa Manager and the theme was a steakhouse. The upcharge was $10 per person. It was satisfactory but the steak was certainly no better than what was offered in the main dining room. Lunch was taken either ashore or in the Lido Restaurant & Grill. The quality was good as was the variety. This cruise was very port intensive, with only two days at sea out of twelve. For those ports where we docked in a remote location, Cunard provided a complimentary shuttle service into the center of town. This was certainly not expected as most cruise lines charge for such a service, but it was certainly welcomed! In almost all the ports we enjoyed lunch or at minimum some coffee/tea/soda at a cafe in order to take advantage of free internet. It's so much faster than what is offered on the ship. I'm not going to detail much on the ports, but I will let you know how we enjoyed each one ... Salerno. We booked a Cunard shore excursion to Pompeii. I was really fascinated with Pompeii and it was a great way to spend the day. Cunard did and excellent job with the organization of the entire tour. Highly recommended. Messina. We booked a Cunard transfer shore excursion to Taormina. Basically it was a motor coach ride to and from the small cliffside town of Taormina with free time once you are dropped off. Again highly recommended. Taormina is charming and picturesque. We enjoyed shopping, people watching, and lunch at an outdoor cafe. Santorini. One of my favorite Greek islands. We went into town on our own, taking the funicular up to the main town of Fira. We enjoyed some shopping, ship spotting, and an amazing lunch with a view to die for. Pretty much a prefect day in my book. Rhodes. Since we have been to Rhodes several times, we opted to walk the walled city on our own, again enjoying the sights and a lunch at one of the main squares of the old city. Kusadasi. We were here fairly recently and toured Ephesus. This is a must and we strongly considered going back for a 2nd look, but instead took it easy and strolled around the waterfront near where the ships dock. Athens. In that past we have toured Athens quite extensively, so again it was a light day of strolling around the port area of Piraeus. This is a great area for ship spotting if you're into that sort of thing. There is a hop-on-hop-off bus that circles Piraeus and another that goes into Athens itself. These are great options if you prefer to save a little money and have a bit more freedom to plan out your day. Both leave from the port area just outside where the ship docks. Corfu. We really loved Corfu. It's quite different from other Greek islands due to its location and the fact it's so green. It feels more like Italy to be honest. A free shuttle was offered into town but we felt like walking. We strolled around the waterfront and then into the city. Chris went to a "fish spa" where these little fish suck all the dead skin and calluses off your feet! It was an interesting experience for him and fun to watch. Dubrovnik. This was probably my favorite port of the entire cruise next to Venice. We took the free shuttle from the ship into the walled city and just spent the day exploring all the amazing sights this beautiful city has to offer. This is someplace I would truly like to return to for a week or more. Some of the cliffside hotels outside the walled city looked quite inviting. Ravenna. Probably the most disappointing of all the ports. The ship was supposed to overnight in Venice but due to port congestion the overnight was canceled and Ravenna was added in its place. The closest major city is Bologna and tours were offered there, but we were not interested enough to book one. The ship docks in a fairly industrial area and it's about a 30-40 minute ride into Ravenna itself. We were there on a Sunday and things were pretty quiet, but if you're into Mosaics then this is the place for you! Ravenna is quite famous for them and they are beautiful, but I would have preferred the overnight in Venice. Venice. We took a water taxi from the port area directly to our hotel which was really cool. I quite enjoyed the experience but be forewarned that water taxis are very expensive. Roughly 80 Euros for a 15 minute ride. Our hotel was the Westin Europa & Regina located right on the Grand Canal. We had a superior room facing the Grand Canal and I can tell you it's not a view I would ever tire of. I highly recommend the hotel and a visit to Venice in general. It's one of those places that really lives up to every expectation and perception and even exceeds them! From Venice we took a train to Milan and spent a night there before our flight home. I was disappointed in Milan as it lacks all the Italian character we came to enjoy in Venice, Salerno, Messina, and even Ravenna. We stayed at the Sheraton Malpensa which is actually connected to the airport. This is without question the most modern and luxurious Sheraton I have ever stayed in. Since the hotel is connected to the airport, it made catching our 9am flight to New York JFK quite simple. We flew home in Business Elite on Delta and it was a fantastic way to end a truly wonderful vacation. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, this trip was nearly perfect in every regard. We loved the ship (including the food, service, and entertainment), the new friends we made, all the ports, and were treated to picture perfect weather. The logistics of getting to and from the ship went without a hitch, and spending some time in Venice at a truly gorgeous hotel helped ease the disappointment of having to part ways with the lovely QUEEN ELIZABETH. What I've found is the best way to get over a great vacation is to have another planned, and next up is ROYAL PRINCESS this coming Sunday! Please enjoy the pictures and let me know if you have any questions. Ernie   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Having just returned from our twelfth cruise with the eastern Mediterranean route on the MSC Divina, we are stumped at the abundance of negative reviews we had read in advance. Our experience was just the opposite. No cruise is perfect but ... Read More
Having just returned from our twelfth cruise with the eastern Mediterranean route on the MSC Divina, we are stumped at the abundance of negative reviews we had read in advance. Our experience was just the opposite. No cruise is perfect but the MSC Divina came pretty darn close for us. Yes, we had some reservations prior to our departure. First, we've always been most comfortable on ships averaging 1,500 to 2,000 passengers (MSC Divina carries around 4,000). Second, we've been spoiled in the past by lines catering almost exclusively to the American passenger. But the allure of the MSC Divina design coupled with the Venice base and very appealing ports including Izmir, Istanbul and Dubrovnik clinched the deal for us. The ship is a beauty. Sleek, understated, elegant and full of surprises (and after a year, still with the feel of a sparkling, brand new ship). The MSC Divina feels very Italian and yet very international all at once. The staff, somewhat reserved (but as you get to know certain members of the crew, you'll find some great, friendly personalities), is always right on top of your requests and always striving to be as accommodating as possible. The crew is just as international as the passenger roster, unique to most cruise lines - you'll find nametags from Bali to Bosnia, South Africa to Scotland. Some of the bartenders weren't always at the top of their game - but with so many bars and so many attendants, just hop over to the next; you'll soon have your favorites (and they are quick to recognize you after a day or two). Embarkation in Venice was a snap. Of course, it helped that we took a private water taxi to the dock from our hotel (the wonderful A Tribute to Music hotel) to the private dock located next to the ship (great tour and what a way to arrive, all for about 70 euro). Your luggage is immediately tagged at the private water taxi dock so you skip the long lines to check in luggage at the terminal and immediately head up to registration. It's a quick confirmation at registration -- just make sure all information such as dinner seating time and any drink packages are printed on your cabin card. Mention that you arrived by private water taxi and instead of waiting for your boarding number to be called (group numbers are handed out at the crowded luggage check-in), you are immediately shown to the front of the line to board the ship. Embarkation with registration was a matter of 20 minutes for us - and after we boarded and grabbed a quick bite, we were amazed to find our luggage already at our cabin door in less than an hour. Our MSC Divina cabin 13038 could not have been better. Designed in beautiful dark brown, orange and gold tones, the cabin seemed a bit more narrow than other cabins we've had (from our favorites with Holland America, Celebrity and NCL to the "unique" Costa Fortuno to the not-so-hot Carnival) but certainly more comfortable. Plush sofa, ample storage and cabinets, compact but convenient bathroom (exceptionally clever design to fold in the shower doors when not in use to expand the bathroom space), thick carpeting, beautiful lighting options and comfortable seating on what seems to be a bigger-than-usual veranda with jaw-dropping views (and ideal privacy dividers from your neighbors). And the bed - the bed! - wow, just about the most comfortable bed we've ever had on any cruise. It was a plus that the forward cabins on the 13th Cupido deck are on hallways that dead-end with the captain and upper management rooms, so the hallways and cabin are dead quiet. Just ideal. Not sure how they did it - or when they did it - but our cabin was always clean, bed made, spotless bathroom, ice bucket filled, and turn down service with next-day information packets always waiting for us no matter the hour we returned at night. Our balcony and large windows were thoroughly scrubbed down twice on two port days. The best deals on the MSC Divina, as frequently mentioned, are absolutely the all-inclusive allegrissimo drink package (which also includes fantastic gelato from various stations) and the laundry package (20 items per cabin during the cruise cleaned for 25 euro total, and all came back to our cabin on the same day). While many cruise lines seem to be scaling back on entertainment and shows, MSC pulls out all the stops on the Divina in the sophisticated Pantheon Theatre with lavish and large (very large) productions. No live orchestra means more performers, singers and dancers on stage. I can't remember the last time we went on a cruise and went to every evening performance. On the Divina, the highlights for us included a spectacular Moulin Rouge Cadeaux show, mind-blowing Michael Jackson tribute and beautiful Sogno Italiano of Italian arias and operas. Astounding that in one week we saw everything from "Swan Lake" to Cirque-like aerials, can can dancers to electronic violinists, swashbuckling pirates to Italian tenors, all spectacular! The MSC Divina has a wide variety of bars, each with distinctive decor and entertainment in the evening. Our favorites turned out to be the Golden Jazz Bar (still amazed at the unique glass bubble chandeliers), Black and White Lounge (terrific dance band) and of course, the atrium bar with those gorgeous Swarovski crystal staircases and an ever-changing entertainment line-up from a concert pianist to a chamber orchestra to opera singers. We opted for our usual late dinner seating and chose the smaller of the two dining rooms, the Villa Rossa. It's an elegant room of deep reds with black and gold trims, and surrounded by panoramic windows - and have to say the Villa Rossa was far more elegant and not as cramped as the "signature" dining room called the Black Crab (don't get me wrong - it's a beautiful room but the Crab seemed crowded, somewhat claustrophobic and very understated in black and very muted plum and gold colors). Service in the Villa Rossa was of course impeccable and friendly, and that dining crew works darn hard to keep your meal flowing and anticipating your needs. The menus were varied, interesting and extensive. Sure there were some misses (our dining captain could tell I was having a tough time with a certain dish, whisked it away and immediately replaced it with another choice), but for the most part all the selections ranged from good to great. I am still dreaming of an incredible smoked gouda risotto'loved it so much I had a second helping and then for dessert, a third serving! Somewhere along the line, the MSC Divina got a reputation for serving dishes only lukewarm to cold. Not in our case - every hot dish was just that - hot! Amazing, by just our second night, our favorite bottles of wines, dishes of ice and favorite breads were waiting for us every evening. The big (and I mean BIG!) grand buffet sprawling over the Calumet and Manitou wings can be overwhelming. I would guess it extends about a third the length of the ship of the 14th floor deck, and you will be blown away by the selections of entrees, Mediterranean and international specialties, salads, wide variety of pizzas and pastas, meat carvings, unique Italian sandwiches, desserts, and expansive and truly fantastic cheese selections. Yes, the buffet can get very crowded - name one ship when a breakfast or a specific lunch period isn't crowded - but just take a breath and keep proceeding to the rear of the buffet into the Manitou sections (with stylish American Indian motifs). This buffet is smartly designed and selections continue to repeat themselves throughout the wings -- you'll find the rear portions much less crowded (and quiet) with more than ample window and booth seating. The MSC Divina is a marvel of not only design but also management of a large passenger ship. The many pools and tiered decks were never overly crowded (you'll always find outdoor seating - the attendants go out of their way to find comfortable spots for you). To escape the action of the unique Aqua Park, head aft to the Infinity Pool and hot tubs (always pretty quiet). The MSC Divina interiors have a variety of easy, comfortable seating (loved the silver two-person banquettes in the Black and White Lounge as well as lounging on the large full-body cushion sofas of the Golden Jazz). Exiting at ports was a breeze -- just wait ten minutes after port doors open so that the excursion groups can pour out first. I might guess tendered ports could be a bit challenging with so many passengers, but fortunately we didn't have to deal with any tendered ports. The only time the ship felt somewhat crowded was that hour or so between the 1st dinner seating/1st show and the 2nd dinner seating/2nd show. The beautiful and oh-so-comfortable 1,600 seat Pantheon Theatre is located at the front of the ship and the two dining rooms at the rear, so of course there is the intersecting flow from end to end during that evening interval (and there can be some gridlock pending the great opera singer or dance band in a lounge, or how good someone is bowling in the sports bar, or a jackpot being hit in the casino). Some good (and some not) surprises we discovered aboard the ship: - This is one spotless, sparkling, always white glove clean ship, at all hours of the day or night. Like others, we couldn't help but marvel at how the crew was always subtly cleaning every inch of the ship (never before seen attendants appearing from nowhere with handheld vacuum cleaners). - We are not fans of the White Party, but the MSC Divina's is so different: all ages having a great time, dancing with crew members and performers, fantastic bands, wonderful service and just a great spirit that is so inclusive of all ages, all nationalities, all types of folks (at one point I was dancing all at once with a very senior woman from Stockholm, a Japanese businessman and one of the reception desk attendants). - The Aurea Spa is one of the most elegant spas you'll ever see. We took a tour and were blown away - and had every intention to indulge (we were so intrigued by the coconut and opium saunas) but simply ran out of time. - Do not miss the 4D HD theatre - it is a hoot! We took in the "canyon ride" film and were hollering and grabbing the sides of our seats! Loved it! It's a six euro charge for the wild ride. - The first gala night is definitely a dressy affair (this international passenger roster took it seriously!) - the second gala night was a bit more subdued when it came to the 'glamour' quotient. - If you attend one of the 20-minute daily cooking demonstrations (interesting watching the chefs create dishes, but alas, no sampling), you'll qualify for a 15% discount at the upscale Galaxy restaurants or the Sacramento TexMex steakhouse. We opted for the Galaxy one night and found the dishes somewhat interesting but the setting and service lacking anything close to "upscale" or special (we definitely do not recommend it). The Galaxy is just the very hip Galaxy Disco's adjoining bar made over for the dinner hour. We were going to try the Sacramento TexMex steakhouse one evening but 1) it always seemed empty, which we didn't take as a good sign; and 2) we were simply enjoying the Villa Rossa dining room too much. - Yeah, yeah, yeah. No matter the ship, parents of all nationalities (yes, that includes you American parents, too) have a tendency to let their little monsters run loose now and then, thinking it's cute and that others will also enjoy the dancing tyke sprawled on a dance floor or pounding their spoon against a table. Just smile, shake your head and move away. - The MSC Divina doesn't push photo opportunities (too much), and there are mostly fixed positions for photo sittings and not cameraman climbing all over the decks. And give it a try - have to admit this ship's photographers are very stylish, very creative and very professional with some truly great photography! A word about the ports (and they can be short - but then again, every port stop is too short when you are truly enjoying yourself): Bari, Italy: fascinating old town and some glorious cathedrals to visit - then wander into the old town neighbors, down colorful alleys, and you'll glimpse Italy from decades gone by (and on this Sunday, there were local bands playing on hidden corners throughout old town Bari). Easily accessed from the port by taxi, bus or on foot. Katakolon, Greece: we wisely skipped Olympia (knowing Ephesus lay ahead the following day) and enjoyed the quaint town right on the port with some fantastic (and very reasonably priced) shopping. Also loved an open air tourist train ride from the town into the Greek country side, with fantastic views and stops at a beautiful vineyard and a breathtaking beach resort. Izmir, Turkey: we're not one for the ship excursions but prefer to book private (and much less expensive) tours. We scored big time with booking a private tour of the astounding Ephesus and Artemis along with a fantastic buffet lunch through Gizem Gencer at www.ephesustours.biz (and insist on Erman Gokbora as a guide - wonderful, knowledgeable and gracious guide). Istanbul, Turkey: once again, the massive mass ship excursion were not for us, so we booked a sensational private Byzantine tour and lunch with Ender Boz at www.privatetoursinistanbul.com. Regret to say we can't recall the name of our wonderful hostess, but we saw all the major historical sites of Istanbul in a knowledgeable, whirlwind tour tailored to our interests (and our guide knew how and when to maneuver past long lines and avoid the crowded mass tour times). Dubrovnik, Croatia: so this was our one trip-up. Had booked a private tour through Pero Klaic at pepoklaic@yahoo.com and his www.dubrovnikshoretrip.com. He was a no-show (luckily we had no deposits with him - definitely a tour service to avoid!) and were about to panic when we luckily discovered that for only 50 euro (compared to Pero's 150 euro trip), we could get a private one and a half hour taxi tour of the views, historical sites and then the jaw-dropping old town and walled city of Dubrovnik. Just hail any taxi at the port gate and make the request. And finally, disembarking in Venice. Well, all good things come to end. And all good procedures, too. This is where the MSC Divina stumbled a bit - disembarking was a chaotic mess. No one seemed quite sure where to go, when to go, who was to go, etc. We were one of the lucky ones (sort of), as all cabins on the 13th floor Cupido are for some reason marked as Gray One for priority disembarking. The 8 am disembarkation time became 9 am and then finally, finally, Gray One group was allowed to leave (and yes, our luggage was right there waiting for us as we departed). Now in all fairness, there could have been good cause for the confusion and concern that morning. There were massive and disruptive news-generating protests all day long by Venetians, protesting the arriving and departing cruise liners as being destructive to the Venice environment. Seeing how many (there were nine ships in port on our arrival in Venice) and how close these ships sail to the Venice docks and canals, I somewhat agree with the protestors that there are just too many that are sailing too close for comfort. And the MSC Divina seems to be always singled out of all ships by the protestors because of her enormous size and her namesake "godmother' Sophia Loren (many are demanding their beloved Sophia have her name removed from the ship). So we are privileged to offer a counter to those negative reviews of the MSC Divina and instead marvel at and appreciate the extraordinary experience aboard this glorious ship. We're excited to now be MSC Club members!   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
This was my wifes and mine first cruise and didnt really know what to expect. That being the case I did a lot of research to determine the best Cruise line to fit our lifestyle for our 25th wedding anniversary. What I will say from the ... Read More
This was my wifes and mine first cruise and didnt really know what to expect. That being the case I did a lot of research to determine the best Cruise line to fit our lifestyle for our 25th wedding anniversary. What I will say from the outset is that I normally dont like to go home, but this was the first time in my life I have been mentally satiated from my vacation. Our honeymoon, two weeks in Hawaii has always the trip to beat over the decades, this cruise laid it to waste, metaphorically speaking of course. Basic requirements: Again, because it was our first cruise, we also wanted to try the big cruise ships, not the small river cruise style. Based on my research that may be for more seasoned cruisers, Entertainment, dinning and dress code catering to adults. i.e: no kids running around amuck or drunken, party folks with 1980s shorts and high Adidas sports socks with running shoes in every venue. May sound uppity but, too bad, so sad. Its my money and I choose where and how to spend it right? New and luxurious accommodations, ~10 nights Mediterranean ports of call, 3000 people plus staff) but it was effortless and very professional AND we were provided a special credit card to hold line of credit info, passport info etc. Great idea. Ok, so after a pleasantly quick check-in we head up to our Aqua Class stateroom 1550. I notice on the elevator ride up and walking through the halls the level of workmanship of everything. The walls, the ceilings, the stairs, trim, marble tiles. Everything is top notch and solid, built to last. I felt like I was back at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. I kid you not, this is a very very pretty ship!! Anyway, we make it to our stateroom, and wow, everything is so clean and new with a pleasant fragrance provided by some aroma sticks (for want of the proper terminology). Bathroom was larger than I had anticipated, bed was Queen size, a couch, and yes, the room wide sliding door to the balcony with two reclining chairs and foot rests. Winning!! We met a lot of new people from around the world. That was excellent! We also met another couple that we did the tours with and will hopefully be lifelong friends. Additionally, some we spoke to were seasoned cruisers and indicated that this ship and line were the best theyve ever encountered. Other salient points: Food was plentiful and very well prepared and variable, Service, especially in our specialty restaurant Blu was beyond top notch. Ive never experienced that level of service anywhere. Thats what you get when you have trained adults providing service! The ship is constantly being maintained and cleaned, Everyone that works on the ship seems genuinely happy in their role as they perform their duties as though it was an enjoyment to them. Everyone I dealt with on the ship was pleasant. Not just some or most, but all!! The only thing that is likely constantly overlooked are the support staff. The staff you never see behind the scenes like cooks, chefs, cleaners, laundry, engineering and engineering support etc. So kudos to them as well! Entertainment was great and plentiful. Its literally impossible to be bored on this ship. Lots of food locations and bars, The Aqua Spa is fantastic and the workout areas are state-of-the-art. Wow. Reflection dwarfs the other cruise liners when you arrive at port and you feel really proud pulling up in the state of the art ship. Everyone on the docks and other ships just look in awe. Were telling friends and colleague thinking about taking a cruise to go on the Celebrity Reflection. I dont want to call these final point Cons because, our experience was sublime, but rather points for potential improvement: Stretch resolution on TV? You can't change it or at least I couldnt. This is 2013, I dont like watching stretched video displays, it looks very cheap. Can't connect smart phone to TV due to security concerns. There are much bigger security concerns than worrying about changing settings on TV. Internet setup not intuitive or user friendly. For non-power users it can be very daunting. Scripting is setup to show the user not necessarily the correct information. It needs a complete overhaul. Its not cheap either, although wireless is free which only means you can text people. Although acquisition of bandwidth use and time online is very well recorded. Money in side of the equation is sound, however, the end-user side is full of holes and is relatively immature. It would be good to have a smartphone/tablet app in addition to the daily news/schedule being delivered. Some people don't have smartphone/tablets yes? However, many of us do and we are the current demographic with the money to take these cruises which will keep this industry going!!! Every elevator and various key points along halls on every deck it would be great to provide an info screen like CityPulse and Navigation channel. It doesn't have to be interactive but that could be a second implementation. Nav channel needs to display current time! Need a server or cloud for people to share/upload/store videos, photos etc while on board. Some smartphones can't communicate directly and/or people don't know how to set it up on their device. In closing, my wife and I cant recommend Celebrity Cruise lines enough, especially with the ship Reflection. Im looking forward to going again. Hope this helps someone.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
This was our first cruise on Costa, we were due to sail on Concordia last year Feb, but due to unfortunate circumstances we rescheduled for this cruise on the Fascinosa.It was my 40Th so it was a special cruise for me and my partner, it ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Costa, we were due to sail on Concordia last year Feb, but due to unfortunate circumstances we rescheduled for this cruise on the Fascinosa.It was my 40Th so it was a special cruise for me and my partner, it was his first cruise and loved every minute of it. Everything went smoothly from the the check-in, we were booked in a mini suite, so had priority boarding and that was great, we were one of the first few people to board the ship.The staff were friendly and approachable and the service was great. Seeing as it was the newest of the Costa fleet, everything was Clean and New. Our suite was spacious and comfortable the beds were very comfortable & our Balcony was great L shaped at the back of the ship and huge.We were on the second seating for dinner, and was quiet impressed with the food, the menu change every evening and we also went to the dining room for most lunches, Don't really like the buffet on deck 9, especially when the ship was full, +-3600 passengers, at least in the dining room you have table service and order of the menu. We also did breakfast in the dining room, much more comfortable. who wants to stand in long queues when u on vacation.The entertainment was great, a Russian dance troop and also an acrobatic couple and they also had a crew show which was fabulous. The bars were busy and the cocktails were worth buying the drinks package which we did prior to joining the ship. At 19.50 euros a day including the gratuity it was a bargain as we enjoyed our wines with lunch & dinners and cocktails at all the bars and our cappuccinos with breakfast, it was definitely worth it for us.We also loved the Spa, the treatments were a bit pricey for us so we opted for the thermal suite pass, which gave u access to the different wet rooms, the oriental steam, hot steam, ha-mam & Turkish bath as well as Hydrotherapy pool and the Japanese Tea garden, that was definitely worth the 149 euros for both of us, but must be booked on embarkation. we used the facilities for the entire cruise and was most relaxing.The ports were great, just wish we had more time in some of them, we never did any excursions as i had been there before, so we explored on our own.Seeing it was a special birthday we booked the Ala Ca-rte restaurant Club Fascinosa, which was definitely worth the 50 euros for both of us the food was amazing and the whole ambiance of the restaurant was very Romantic. The highlight of the cruise for was the ship as i had been to all the ports, 7nights was way to short, so definitely a longer cruise for us next yearOn a whole we loved our Costa cruise, and we would recommend and we will cruise Costa again.Thank you for an amazing cruise Costa and see u again Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We were on the Jade March 6 -- 17, 2013. Ship: The Jade is the sister ship to Pearl, Gem, and Jewel. The overall flow inside of the ship is excellent, absorbing crowds easily with the exception of the Garden Buffet. The Hawaiian theme is ... Read More
We were on the Jade March 6 -- 17, 2013. Ship: The Jade is the sister ship to Pearl, Gem, and Jewel. The overall flow inside of the ship is excellent, absorbing crowds easily with the exception of the Garden Buffet. The Hawaiian theme is pretty if a bit out of place on a European ship. Personally I would replace more of the decor since it continues to be used more in Europe. The ship was completely sold out with many of the third and fourth berths used for a group, so keep that in mind during this review. Cabin: We had Cabin 9150, a handicapped balcony because of injuries I had sustained in a car accident, and I was in a wheelchair for part of the cruise. The cabin is the largest we have ever been in and we loved it! The bed was comfortable, but not great, linens were very nice. We only got two bathroom towels though, and it would have been nice to have a third. Other than that the stateroom steward, Charles, was incredible, always saying hello and sneaking into our room to tidy up where we weren't there. He even taught me to make a mouse from a washcloth. The sofa was across from the bed and I really liked that arrangement. The color of the sofa -- purplish pink was wonderful. There were three large drawers for clothes by the desk. I noted that in addition to 4 clothes sized cubby holes inside the closet they had 6 clothes sized cubby holes outside of the closet immediately next to the bathroom door, and 6 bookshelf size cubby holes all from floor to 6' high. We had no problem finding room for all of our stuff. In a chair I could reach almost all the shelves. The bathroom was well thought out with the small glass shelves for toiletries from about 1' from the floor to 4' high. Perfect if you are in a chair or not. The shower was small as we found the curtain (no doors) would often hit your legs while you were standing or sitting down to take a shower. One nice feature of this cabin is the door to the balcony was automatic and you could fit a wheelchair through the door and onto the balcony. I couldn't have been happier!! Dining: We went to the main dining room, Moderno's, Garden Buffet, Cagney's, and Sushi. Main Dining Room: Beautiful and elegant, we found all of our entrees to be good and salmon was excellent. We almost always went with the specials which seemed to be the best. Favorites were -- Salmon, Chicken Kabobs, Spring Rolls, Raspberry Sorbet, Lemon Sorbet, Bread Pudding and Lobster. First day was slow and after that we had excellent service. Garden Buffet -- Enjoyed breakfast here with waffles, eggs, sausage and juice. Not as much variety as they often repeated the same items at different stations and had the same selection every day. Lunch had good vegan indian food, otherwise was often repeated grill fare that I do not care for. Really missed the cold soups!! Loved the crepe station, choices were strawberries, nutella, blueberries, apple, whipped cream. Moderno's -- Plenty of meat, soup was outstanding. Cagney's -- As always filet mignon was excellent and accompaniments were good. Sushi -- Liked the seaweed salad and edamame. Didn't care for the sushi. Husband's biggest complaint was not having juice or milk or something other than ice tea later in the day. Most lines at least have lemonade. Overall this is the least amount of variety we've ever seen on a ship and we were on it for 10 days, could really use an improvement here. Entertainment/Activities: Main Stage shows ranged from mediocre to excellent. We enjoyed graffiti, Angels (the aerialists), and Elements (aerialists, dancers, escape artist). Could have skipped Showdown as ending was disappointing as the last two don't show down but sing together. Puppeteers were very talented but out of place. Many of us grumbled that all the stuff we wanted to do was in the evening, there was little to do during the day and we had 3 sea days!! We read and enjoyed the spa, a lot. Movies should be in a darker location, hard to see. The guitarist, piano player, and band were fantastic. Easily my favorite part on the ship. It was so nice to hear good singing music and not the Caribbean blare. Suite and Lattitude Cocktail Parties: Another of my favorites. Silvio, Orlando, and Misrod all chatted with us at the different parties and it was worth it to come on the ship just to hang out with them. They are so interesting, professional, courteous, and caring. Spa: I enjoyed my spa time as best as I could. This was my biggest disappointment. They had the thalassotherapy pool jets set to 8 minutes, so by the time I was able to hobble onto the loungers I would get about 2 minutes of bubbles. Not well thought out. There was no conditioner, a huge draw back for me that I didn't anticipate. The sauna was kept at 82 degrees -- I checked every day, and the heated tile loungers felt cooler. I liked seeing the same people each day but it was impossible to relax as everybody wanted to chat it up like it was a lounge area. All in all I would go again though as I love being able to soak in a private hot tub without kids and cool down with their ice shower (about 60 degrees). They also personally wheeled me to/from the spa during the first few days so my husband could do his own thing and that was a huge benefit for us. Ports -- I summed up briefly below. I also want to say what made our trip special was the large group that we chatted with on the forums before hand. Getting to chat with such intelligent wonderful people throughout the cruise was great. Embarkation/Disembarkation -- Embarkation was crazy, had a difficult time getting a wheelchair to get onboard. Disembarkation was a breeze. Lastly the weather was beautiful for 7 of the 10 days, and miserable and raining for the other 3, 2 of which were sea days so not a big deal. Given a choice I would have done the March 27th cruise, but hubby couldn't be gone from work at the end of the month. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Well ... I think I had better review our very recent Mediterranean cruise on the Equinox while it is still fresh in my head. We only flew back to the Bay Area from Rome three days ago and I am beginning to be on the right time zone again, ... Read More
Well ... I think I had better review our very recent Mediterranean cruise on the Equinox while it is still fresh in my head. We only flew back to the Bay Area from Rome three days ago and I am beginning to be on the right time zone again, which is a good thing since I started back at work yesterday. First the ship: This was our first sailing on a Solstice class ship; we had been avoiding them, I think because they seemed like they would just be too big. Our last four out of five sailings have been on the Century, in their famous top of the ship Sky Suites, and that has suited us well. We have also done a number of Millennium class cruises and enjoyed those as well. Turns out, as almost everyone has said, that the Equinox is indeed a beautiful ship. Traditional elements at its foundation with a top layer of very beautiful and well appointed contemporary design. The fabrics are beautiful, the designs repeat on walls and floors and architecture. Really well done and I enjoyed it a lot. I also loved the art, new to me, and found the art book in my stateroom to be a really nice way of browsing what was singled out in the book to look at on the ship. Our Aqua Class stateroom, a first for us, was a guarantee and a brilliant maneuver, if I do say so. There are no bad AQ cabins so if you find a good reduction, don't be scared to go for it. They gave us a hump cabin, 1547, with a very deep balcony and only a small obstruction off to the left that is the window washing equipment. On a trip like this, with such an intensive itinerary, we didn't mind that at all. I loved having the large balcony, with the comfortable reclining chairs and stools, even if we weren't out there all that much. The bad part of the cabin, also extensively reporting, is the paltry amount of storage. If I go on this class of ship again, and I will, I will pack much lighter because there just is not enough space. Instead of having the magazine rack on the side of the vanity, it would make sense to put it on the wall, like on the Century, and add some shelves to the end of the vanity. At least that. The space over the bed is functional to a point, but after a while I just heaved things up there and my neat little piles of clothing disappeared. I just couldn't reach it, at almost 5'5", without standing on the bed and I just couldn't be bothered. At this brings me to my other criticism of what is in general a very nice cabin ... the sofa! Hard as a rock! Cannot be used for seating, I don't think, by anyone but a child who doesn't care. It is only for storing more stuff and that just adds to the cabin's clutter. It is, in my humble opinion, a useful piece of large furniture that could at least have had storage drawers underneath it. They didn't do that because the itsy bitsy coffee table would then have to be moved and there is nowhere else for it to go. That too was just a place to throw a camera. It's too small to even put plates on unless you remove everything else and throw it on the sofa, which renders the coffee table a moot point because there is nowhere to sit. Lastly, the closet, with its sliding door, is very dark inside. I could never easily choose clothes from there because there was never enough light available to enjoy my choices. Now that my complaints are over, I would like to say that once we unpacked and stowed the suitcases under the bed, the cabin became really okay. We were gone from it a lot and the bed was comfortable, the bathroom more than large enough, and the shower really very good. I never drank the infused teas but I did use their daily replenished water bottles every day for every tour. I liked that a lot. Very convenient. My husband always signs up for the Persian Garden on every cruise so he really liked its inclusion and went whenever he could. I went to the sauna once and enjoyed it. On the second, of three, sea days, my DH and I went to spend time and it was so crowded I couldn't get a locker to change in ... so I gave up and went to the gym. Too many people overwhelm a space not really much bigger than the smaller ships' Persian Gardens. I was irritated but it passed! The ship itself was fun to walk around. Except when everyone had to do the same thing at the same time (e.g., tendering, muster drill), the ship was never crowded. We did go to one fabulous show in the theater ... acrobats and circus entertainers gliding overhead on cables and doing incredible feats of graceful acrobatics. If you get to see them, I suggest you go! This brings us to Blu, the designated place for AQ dining. It is very pretty, with nice views of the water from almost every table, and I found a table for two, at any time we appeared, to be easy to get, most often in the same station so we got to know our waitstaff just like in the MDR ... almost. They are moving faster so the don't stay to talk as much. But they are also serving you lovely breakfasts in the morning so you do see them a lot. I missed the pomp and circumstance and people watching of the MDR but I did enjoy how nice it was to sit there. I also did not find the tables to be as close together as I feared ... I am a pretty private person at dinner with my DH ... and it felt fine. My big complaint about Blu, and I am told that Celebrity is reading and listening here, is its offerings for vegetarians. Oddly, for a restaurant billed as clean (California) cuisine, the vegetarian options are not nearly as good as the MDR, mainly overly rich and cheesy pasta dishes like my mother used to make me when I first became a vegetarian forty years ago because she didn't know what else to make besides lasagna. I started ordering baked potatoes and grilled veggies, which were very good, but everyone thought I was nuts. My DH loved the food. He eats most of it and found it really very good, olive oil rather than cream based, and delicious. I think it works well for most people. The good news was Marius, our Maitre d'. When I explained my disappointment ... I too wanted creative clean cuisine ... he stepped up to the plate and started getting me really nice food. He ran it by me and I got to eat much much better somewhere in the middle of the cruise. Thank you, Marius. You made all the difference. Otherwise, as I told my DH, I would veto AQ in the future because I couldn't face the disappointment of yet another creamy risotto or lasagna each evening. The advice I give, to anyone who needs something different from what is presented ... food or otherwise ... is to make your needs known. I find Celebrity to really try to make things right. It's what makes me a Celebrity loyalist. (And I am amply rewarded with free lattes in the morning, free cocktails in the evening, good internet discounts, and laundry done for free!). The itinerary was fabulous and we lucked out with really nice weather. We tendered into Santorini, started walking but eventually took donkeys to the top of the hill (very messy walk behind 70 donkeys relieving themselves when they felt like it!) and took a taxi with another couple to the beautiful town of Oya. Lovely town with the blue domed roofs for which Santorini is known. The day before we arrived they couldn't tender because of winds, the day after the port was closed because of weather, so we were very lucky! The next port was Istanbul ... two wonderful days in a world class city. Our tour with Halli, of http://www.toursinistanbul.com was as good as it gets. This is a great tour company with incredible guides. We spent ten hours, ten of us organized through cruise critic, with a woman who spoke five languages, was knowledgeable in art, history, religion and a lot more and was lovely and fun as well. We parked the very comfortable van in the old part of Istanbul and then walked for nine hours, stopping for a nice lunch somewhere Halli recommeded. Kagan Kosagan and his wife Lale (I think Halli is her sister) run this company and they do just a great job. We went through them in Ephesus, with the equally special and charming Taner, who also was fluent in a host of languages and made Ephesus just come alive for us. Anyway, Istanbul is a world class city ... something I hadn't known ... and has incredible mosques with their minarets ... that are breathtakingly beautiful. On day two, a half day, we hopped a Celebrity bus and got off at the Spice Market. This was a great thing to do on our own. Then we got on a local tram and went five stops up the hill to the Grand Bazaar. In both venues people were really kind. No aggressive selling at all. Shopkeepers chatted with us and wished us a good day when we left without buying. People on the street ... incredibly clean streets, btw ... gave us directions kindly at all times. I would really like to go back to Istanbul. If you know what you are doing and what you are after, there are also some good buys to be had ... at least in the gold jewelry I was hankering after!After Istanbul, we went to Ephesus ... from the port resort town of Kusadasi ... where Taner met the eight of us in another really comfortable van ... and spent the day taking us all around Ephesus, to the House of the Virgin Mary, to a Turkish pizza place for very interesting and delicious Turkish pizza, and lastly to a leather factory where I am sure there was some incentive for him if we bought jackets. And we did all buy jackets! Then we came back to the port with enough time to do a little wandering on our own. I found the Greek, Turkish, and Italian people to be really nice. It was easy to travel and interact with people. We went to Mykonos, another beautiful island where we docked, and spent the day wandering the crooked charming streets. We had a fabulous lunch, with a glass of wine, and I have now realized, coming home, that it cost over $70.00! Beware! Europe is not so cheap for all sorts of things! But it was a really nice meal facing the sea! Lastly we did Pompeii, Sorrento, and Positano on the Amalfi Coast together with other cruise critic couples. The van was much smaller and not as comfortable but we settled in nicely and had a good day. We toured with Rome In Limo, another nice company I would recommend. Our trip ended in Rome and we spent a great day going from piazza to piazza, enjoying Rome's incredible architecture and ambiance. Then we paid the price of it all ... almost 24 hours from hotel in Rome to home, with eighteen hours of flying time. (Do not book flights that enter the US at Dulles Airport in Washington, DC. It took over a hour and a half going through customs and we missed our connecting flight. It was a silly zoo!) End of review. I loved our trip. It was really special. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
This is our second cruise with Celebrity, the first being on the Eclipse last year and we loved it so much we bought the guaranteed onboard spend voucher for the next cruise, which we used on this one. We had a good deal with a travel ... Read More
This is our second cruise with Celebrity, the first being on the Eclipse last year and we loved it so much we bought the guaranteed onboard spend voucher for the next cruise, which we used on this one. We had a good deal with a travel agent (found it in the paper) and decided to opt for Aquaclass. Embarkation was smooth. Got to our stateroom and was greeted by the Aquaclass extras. We had a balcony room on the Eclipse, so this is what the difference is in Aqua. We got fluffy bathrobes, extra large fluffy towels, canapes delivered daily even when we were not in (despite what they say on the order form), fresh fruit daily, bottle of champagne on arrival (so far I think this is the same extras in Concierge Class), a few extra toiletries (facial mist, lip balm), shower jets that were really nice, extended room service menu (which we made use of almost everyday for breakfast, which included smoothies and freshly squeezed orange juice for no extra charge), the use of the Persian Gardens (amazing steam room, hot stone beds), 2 bottles of water daily, plus the amazing Blu restaurant which only Aquaclass can make use of for breakfast and dinner. Blu Restaurant was amazing and we ate there everynight except on 2 occasions when we went to the Tuscan Grille and Murano. All the speciality restaurants there are amazing, but the prices are a little steep ($40 per head at Murano and Qsine). We managed to get 50% off for dining in the Tuscan on the first night, and 20% off at Muranos during the second week. Had to ask for the latter. The food on Celebrity is the best we have ever experienced on any ship. Entertainment was simply amazing. Their production show (there were 3) were absolutely wonderful! Best ever!!! Service onboard was very good. Our stateroom attendent was very good, very efficient, polite and non intrusive. He brought us our breakfast every morning though sometimes we did have breakfast in the Aqua Spa cafe. Now for the ports, which I hope you will find helpful! Naples - we did a ship's excursion that included a hike on Mt Vesuvius, and a trip to Pompeii. A thunderstorm meant the hike was not possible and it was a wasted journey all the way up. Pompeii was good, despite the rain. Wish we had just done the Pompeii trip on our own as opposed to a large bus group. The ship did a Pompeii transfer as well which we would have done if we'd known Mt Vesuvius was going to be cancelled. Catania,Sicily - Did a ship's excursion to Taormina and Mt Etna. Taormina was very nice, though it was very crowded with so many visitors. Mt Etna was enjoyable though it was extremely windy and cool up there. We didn't have time to go up the cable car since we were with a tour group. Again, wished we could have been independent and done more walking on our own up there. Some people rented a car for the day when they got to Catania and paid 40 euros for it (they asked in several rental places and took the cheapest) and had a very good independent day. Valletta, Malta - This was our first sunny and warm day. Very pleasant, walkable from the port, nice shops just outside the ship. It is quite a hilly place with nice views and pleasant old town. Corfu - the old town is walkable. This ship provided shuttles at $12 but able bodied people will take about 20-25 mins to walk into the town. There is also a local bus #16 that goes from the terminal at the port gate to the old town for just 1.50 euros each one way. We took the #16 into the town, and walked back. There is a free bus that takes you from the ship to the port gate, but it is only a few minutes walk if you don't want to take that bus. Corfu town is completely touristy - shops selling souvenirs of all sorts in their old town. Kumquat liquers, kumquat delights, wooden items, lace, leather etc. If you don't want to walk, take the local bus. It does the same thing as the ship's shuttle at a fraction of the cost! It's a direct bus - doesn't stop until you get to the old town. Bari, Italy - we were told on the ship that unless we were on an excursion, Bari was not worth visiting. Might as well stay on the ship. However, after spending a very quiet morning on the ship, we decided to walk into Bari after lunch. The ship provides a shuttle @$10 and tries to discourage you from walking. Again able bodied people will find it takes about 10-15 mins walk following a very safe path to the old town. It is a pleasant walk, not at all that bad. Bari old town was very nice, cobbled, lots of character. It was quiet as it was siesta time, but we saw how local people lived and it was pleasant walking through the streets and alleyways. Definitely no need for a shuttle bus! Dubrovnik - we loved Dubrovnik. We definitely needed a shuttle here as we were docked quite far away. Shuttles were provided by the ship @ $12. Make sure you have local Kuna in Croatia. Some places do take euros, but we found it a lot easier having kunas with us. We walked the city wall first thing (less crowded) which took about an hour with camera stops), then we took a boat trip out (paid 10 euros each for that and there were 8 of us on the boat). Choose a small boat with less people. We noticed some rather large boats with a lot of people - not so nice. The boat trip was nice as we saw old Dubrovnik from the sea. After that we went up the cable car, which we highly recommend. The view from up there was fantastic. After that, we came down and mooched around the Placa and sat around in cafes before returning to the ship with plenty of time spare. Kotor, Montenegro - We loved this little gem of a place. The sail in and out is brilliant. Picture postcard type views. We tendered into Kotor and wandered around the town. Walked up the mountain towards the fort. Took us an hour to climb up very uneven steps and stone paths. The views are breathtaking from high up. It costs 3 euros to go up (ie if a man is there to collect the money). There is an alternative route up the mule path - you can see it on the left that zigzags up the mountain. It is less steep but a lot longer, and free. We went up the steps and came down the mule path for a different perspective. We loved Kotor. Split - again another tender port. Split was very busy. With 2 other cruise ships there, the whole place was packed. We went up the Bell Tower (extremely scary for those who hate heights and rickety stairs!). Nice view though. Nice market there and a promenade full of cafes and shops. Ravenna - now this is a place we wished we hadn't bothered with. Needed a shuttle to get into town (25 mins journey). When we got there, there was really nothing much to do there and to us was the most boring of all our ports. There are a few Unesco sites, but after the previous ports, Ravenna just seemed very bland. If we docked in Ravenna again, we'll either go to Bologna or stay on the ship! Koper, Slovenia - the ship docks within a few minutes of the town. Pleasant town with shops and cafes and a tower to see the view. We also visited Piran, which is about 30 mins away. Another pleasant place. Venice - this is where we ended our cruise. We got off the ship and took our luggage to the left luggage (4 euros per item) next to the ship. We then took a waterbus to St Marks. From there we wandered around Venice, had a gondola ride (150 euros for 40 mins!), ate pizza, icecream, took a #1 waterbus from St Marks down the Grand Canal (7 euros each). 5 hours in Venice and we were then on a taxi to the airport to fly back home. Absolutely loved this cruise and loved our Aquaclass room. Worth it just for dining in Blu. One downside.... a bit too much hard selling on Celebrity - trying to push excursions, shuttles, speciality coffees, wines, speciality restaurants. They do not give enough information about each port for independent travellers, prefering you NOT to be independent! But it is only a small downside and as long as you are aware of it, do your research before you get onboard! Will definitely sail with Celebrity again and hopefully Aquaclass! Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We traveled on the Silhouette in January on a twelve night Caribbean cruise leaving from Bayonne, New Jersey. We had one of our best cruises so booking this European cruise and anticipating the same type of experience... we were not ... Read More
We traveled on the Silhouette in January on a twelve night Caribbean cruise leaving from Bayonne, New Jersey. We had one of our best cruises so booking this European cruise and anticipating the same type of experience... we were not disappointed! Read my in depth review posted in January about the ship. We cruised October 23rd for eleven nights from Venice to Rome, with an extra day in Rome at the end. Lets start with the negative which had nothing to do with the cruise but our travel experience it was almost disastrous. Heathrow airport was fogged in so our connecting flight to Venice was cancelled. Fortunately the ship was overnight or we would have missed it!!! Needless to say we had not slept in thirty hours as we flew from Toronto to London to Madrid to Venice. We arrived in our stateroom at midnight and ordered room service and had a lovely dinner. The positive, Celebrity hit it out of the park! We once again stayed in Aqua Class, had very good food throughout the cruise, we never felt the need to go to a speciality restaurant and the service was fantastic as usual! The extra special experiences was having the Captain's club hostess Donette Fletcher stop us in a hallway and state that she remembered our faces so we got re-aquainted as well we had two servers and an assistant come up to us our first evening and said they remembered us from January as we did also. We must have left quite the impression! Yikes!!! Other great experiences was an invitation on a formal night to dine at the Captains table hosted by Donette Fletcher and two engaging officers. Our fellow diners were American, British and Irish and were a pleasure to meet. A lovely touch was a photo of the whole group taken high above on the upper floor of the dining room. We all received copies at the end of the dinner personalized with everyone's name. A classy touch. Another would be highlight was an invitation for a champagne sail out in Kotor, Montenegro on the Heli pad at the bow of the ship. Unfortunately due to weather this event was cancelled but a great experience it would have been. A couple of cutbacks we noticed was the Captains club reception for Select and Elite members as there was no food as in January we had sushi and crepes. This time around there was just drinks, so there was plenty of laughter! Also, they were not promoting the discounts for the speciality restaurants like they use to. Although we did receive a 50% discount on our first night on the ship. All for not in our situation. We have dined in Murano before which is a lovely experience but you must plan on two to three hours and go very hungry. The entertainment was vastly improved over January and there were three of the principal singers we recognized that were impressive. The shows were excellent! We had to tender in to port at Split , Croatia which was a very unpleasant experience. Three thousand people getting off and four boats? We booked on board an open booking for a future cruise with a nominal deposit which never expires. The only issue with this cruise was it was port intensive, nine ports including Venice in 11 nights. Only one sea day so you are constantly on the move. This was a historic and educational cruise so we did not mind. Saying that our next cruise with Celebrity will have at least three to four sea days. In closing we would like to give kudos to our room attendant from Indonesia, Donette Fletcher, Captains Club hostess, Damar and ToTo our servers and Tyrone the assistant. Also, the Assistant Maitre'd Danella was very professional and looked after us. The Captain was a stand up comedian! Most of the staff were very friendly and engaging. If you are looking for value for your hard earned dollar, quality of food and service and ship amenities are important, Celebrity should be on your short list. Yes the age demographic is getting a little bit older but if you are healthy and mobile in your seventies, eighties and nineties I will keep cruising too! There are plenty of other cruise companies that cater to all sorts of different age groups. Saying this I would put the average age on this cruise at about sixty-five. A great mix of nationalities. A certain amount of class and decorum which is a nice change from the overly casual "island cruises". We enjoy cruising on other lines and like to switch things up to see if our benchmark (Celebrity) is still the one. We will be trying out the Eurodam a Holland America cruise over the holidays and New years with our two adult sons so we will be interested in the comparison. We keep coming back to Celebrity! Enjoy the experience, try Celebrity and become a convert! Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
MSC Divina review- Departure date 08/11/2012- Cabin type Yacht Club De Luxe Suite - YC1 This was my first experience with MSC and I came away very impressed. I had not considered the line in the past but the combination of a brand new ... Read More
MSC Divina review- Departure date 08/11/2012- Cabin type Yacht Club De Luxe Suite - YC1 This was my first experience with MSC and I came away very impressed. I had not considered the line in the past but the combination of a brand new ship and the itinerary that went to both Izmir and Istanbul was enough to sway me. I am glad we took the "risk" and sailed with MSC, I feel we got a lot of value for our investment. The Divina is a gorgeous vessel. The attention to detail in the art and architecture is amazing. Obviously the designers wanted to create a place of beauty and one can tell a lot of expense went into items such as the crystal staircases (on which each step is filled with cut crystals that look like diamonds) lovely sculptures and paintings. The Yacht Club complex is done in rich earth tones and feels more like a boutique hotel than a cruise ship. The cabin was a bit on the small side given what I am used to (I would say more like a mini suite) but the quality of the materials used were very luxurious. The bed was similar to a temperpedic and by far the most comfortable I have ever slept on outside of my home on land or sea. The pillow menu was extensive including two different types of memory foam pillows. Our butler did not bat an eye when I asked for six pillows. (I have fibromyalgia and need to support my limbs when sleeping). The linens were very high quality and the carpet passed my white sock test with flying colors. (I always put on a pair of white socks and drag my feet in the room whenever I am checking out a new ship or location- if the socks stay white you know they take cleaning seriously- believe it or not they have turned dark brown in some places that are considered 5 star). A lot of planning went into the lighting, of which there are many options, including hidden in the headboard and along the walk in closet hanger rail. A huge mirror is in front of the bed which I am certain some people might find as an extra perk lol. The bathroom and balcony are also both on the small side. The bathroom has a tub shower combination with a glass wall that covers half the tub and works like a shower curtain or door. There was plenty of storage in the bath and main cabin. The amenities were pretty standard, lotion, shower cap, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner and a facial soap. It would have been nice to see some extra items that I have become accustomed to like q-tips, bath salts, linen spray etc. but each line is different. The lack of specialty toiletries would not affect my interest in rebooking. In fact I already booked the YC on the Preziosa for next year. The YC is insulated very well from the rest of the ship and it is quite possible to never leave the complex except for when heading to La Muse the YC restaurant. The food is very good in La Muse as is the service. We had a beautiful view of the "infinity pool" and some sculptures. (It is a stretch to call that pool an infinity pool- it is a nice pool with balcony type glass to look out at the ocean but really is not the same as a true infinity pool) The all inclusive drinks package that comes with the YC is a very nice perk! We loved the itinerary especially Istanbul which was an amazing day. Although we spent most of our time up in the Yacht Club while on the ship I did tour the other areas on the sea day and did not encounter any of the issues people had expressed concern about such as overcrowding and smokers. It did not appear any different than any other large ship, there appeared to be plenty of loungers and with multiple pools and hot tubs there appeared to be room for everyone. I saw activities for all ages including a water slide, bowling, a 4D movie theater and a Formula One racecar simulator that looked very popular. We only walked through the Casino once but I did not smell any smoke and I am quite sensitive to it. I have compiled an in-depth day by day review with links to photos and the daily programs. You can view it here. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1700848&page=2 Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Summary -- Very enjoyable trip; nice new ship...The Carnival Breeze! Good balance of activities and shows, slightly crowded, a few design flaws, good food options, excellent staff. The decor is bright and cheery ... ready for the ... Read More
Summary -- Very enjoyable trip; nice new ship...The Carnival Breeze! Good balance of activities and shows, slightly crowded, a few design flaws, good food options, excellent staff. The decor is bright and cheery ... ready for the Caribbean. We did the 12 day round trip out of Barcelona on July 21, 12. Every cabin was full. It was a very intense port schedule. We wanted to get everything out of each port day because it was our first (or first time in 20 years) to Europe. One of the design flaws was having rooms under the galley without enough sound proofing. So if you want to sleep, avoid aft cove balconies, especially where the steam pipes go in. Background Information: My husband and I traveled with our three teenage daughters and my mother. It was our 4th cruise, 2nd on carnival. Our girls 3rd cruise and my Mom's 7th. We live in the Washington DC metro area. While we are not dire hard foodies, we love to go out to eat at local white-table cloth restaurants. We go to the nearby museums and shows. Hotel Info - We stayed in a quaint hotel recommended by Rick Steves in Barcelona called Hotel Continental. The hotel had an old world feel with warm colors, beautiful chandelier, outdoor patio, and a beautiful balcony overlooking Las Rambles. It was a bit worn, in a well-loved way. The 24 hour, complimentary light food and drink (including beer!) was very convenient to accommodate different eating schedules. The staff went out of their way to be helpful. They even called my home before the trip to answer a question I sent. The rooms were small yet had all needed amenities, perfect for getting ready for a ship. I did have to ask for new towels a few times, it seems like they did not dry properly. The location and the staff made it fantastic. We will return. Travel To Port of Embarkation - Very easy to get there by Taxi. The Port is modern and we got on with a reasonable wait and without a problem. Activities - We have cruised on the Carnival Dream. We appreciated the added Ropes course and Sports court. We participated in the Food tasting, Wine tasting, Volleyball, Ping-Pong, putt-put, Ropes Course, slides, Spa, Exercise room, Exercise Classes, Texan Hold'um and Bridge. Pool chairs very hard to find on ocean days, until they thankfully started a timing policy. The Adult volleyball was very popular and fun on sea days, but only one hour for 20-30 people to play. They need to double volleyball time to two hours, and also need a few more Ping-Pong tables. Service - The service in the dining room helped make the trip outstanding. Fortunately with "my time" dining we are able to find a dinner team we loved and stick with them, which we did. Thanks Olympiu and Danijel, for the fantastic service and advice! A huge thanks to Irisa who helped us manage some food allergies/sensitivities. Port & Shore Excursions - This itinerary was not for the weak. It was our girl's first trip to Europe, my mom's 1st trip to Italy and our first trip to Europe in 20 years. We packed all we could in each day, out usually for 9+ hours a day. Considering our four our days in Barcelona, by Naples we were exhausted. We booked tours separately through Share a Shore Excursion in Italy (Thank you Big Luca) and Walks Inside Florence (Marzia Valbonesi was fantastic!!) Stateroom - great amenities, comfortable bed, very good shower, Cove balconies are more private and very close to water... rather cool. Avoid any room under the galley, in particular room #2404 unless you are a very solid sleeper or bring earplugs. The galley was busy (noisy) through the night, and #2404 is where the steam pipes come in. The steam pipes are like an old fashioned radiator, clanging and banging, which is terrible in the night! Carnival would have moved us but the ship was full. They did give us ships credits. Dining - solid options and many choices. A few stand out options were the chefs table, Tandori Indian, Guy's burgers (possibly the best burgers and BBQ sauce ever). The Chef's table is far the best food and beverage experience on the ship...it's a behind the scene tour of the kitchen, cooking techniques, a 5 or 6 course meal, and all the wine you could drink. At $75 each it was well worth it and very interesting. The main restaurants were very good, nice dinners, daily special were creative and enjoyable. Like on any ship there are hits and misses. Our waiters pointed us in the right direction on food selections. Lido, just OK, crowded during peak times (9-10am in Monaco, over 20 minute wait for breakfast). Sit down breakfast restaurants were nice, but closed too early (at 8:30) on port days. The poolside restaurants also had short hours. Children's Clubs - Our teens mostly liked the clubs,. They used them to meet friends and then dropped in for activities. It's too bad that the Sports court is over the Italian specialty restaurant. It would have been nice to be able to evening games there. Carnival should to arrange a few meet and greet events for the 18-21 year olds. It's tough to be at that in-between age on the ship. Entertainment - Full of life - everywhere you walk there is music, usually live. The singer at the pool was fantastic (Jimmy Buffet style!). The stage shows were dynamic full of energy. The Comedians at the Punch line club were hilarious!!!! (We Americans did not relate to the British ones as much.) The Game show was not as good as expected. Rakesh, the magician, was terrific. He came around to tables in the dining room and performed for each chef's table. We were always in awe! He was far better than the magician that performed on stage. He performed once or twice at the Punch liner. Disembarkation --They start the announcements at 5:45 am, so don't think about sleeping, even if you have a late flight. We got off near the end about 9:30 because we had a 1pm flight. Arrange transportation! While the taxi line does move, there are 1000+ people wanting taxis. We stood in the taxi line for almost an hour before we luckily found a van that had just dropped off from the airport. Private van/shuttle for 6 was $80 Euros. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
My husband & I have cruised with MSC 2 times: the MSC Fantasia & the Divina. We enjoyed both vacations very much. The cruise line does an extremely good job of maintaining and cleaning their ships and presenting fresh food in the ... Read More
My husband & I have cruised with MSC 2 times: the MSC Fantasia & the Divina. We enjoyed both vacations very much. The cruise line does an extremely good job of maintaining and cleaning their ships and presenting fresh food in the major eating areas. The downside is that some of the passengers are just downright rude, e.g. bump into you and not say excuse me, try to hoard and reserve deck chairs when no one's in them; talking in loud voices unnecessarily, allowing their children to accompany them into adults-only areas and misbehave. The staff in general have not been properly trained in customer service. Given the international nature of the passengers, they may think they do not need to learn or attempt to speak English, but this is the international language, and one they may rely upon to communicate effectively with most passengers. The majority of the staff do smile or go out of their way to provide outstanding service; rather, service was perfunctory, except for our cabin steward and our server in the formal dining area who were outstanding. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in Tessera, which is near the Marco Polo Airport in Venice. The city of Venice is accessible by city bus, but takes between 30 to 50 minutes to get there via bus and then water taxi (valporetti), depending on the traffic. We went stayed 3 nights and went into Venice 2 times, so we purchased a city pass for both. The hotel provided our transfer to the Venice Cruise Terminal and breakfast as part of a special package rate. Recommended local restaurant: Al Quadrante: a pizza place that serves other Italian dishes, and it's GREAT! The pizza was not oily and the crust was out of this world. My pasta dish was also delicious. We did not partake in the onboard activities, except for frequenting the casino, which was our major form of evening entertainment. Given the fact we were there every night of the cruise, one would have thought that the casino/bar staff and servers would recognize us and personalize their service; however, this did not happen. These are the little touches that one misses on MSC, whereas when one has experienced outstanding customer service, the experience is much more positive. A 7 euro gratuity is automatically charged each day, so there is no individual tipping. The food in the main Dining Room: The Black Crab was hit or miss. The pasta & soups & desserts were the best; the meats were not good: gizzly & flavorless. Be sure to order 4-5 courses so that you have enough to eat compared to American standards. On our first cruise we did not attend a single show; this time, on the Divina, our daughter & son-in-law went to one of the shows and raved about it, so we attend the remaining ones. Caberet quality with lipsynching and live singing. Some outstanding indivdual performances, but overall, just OK. However, we're glad we went (full houses all nights). Disembarkation went smoothly; however, we purchased the transfer from the boat to the Airport and we had to wait in the heat for over an hour for the MSC bus to arrive. We decided that we should have paid a bit more and left via taxi because it cut our duty-free shopping time short. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
This super-long trip review was about my E. Med. Cruise that I took last year with my husband, my colleague and her husband. Both couples were celebrating our 25th anniversaries so it was a super special trip for us. For 2013, ... Read More
This super-long trip review was about my E. Med. Cruise that I took last year with my husband, my colleague and her husband. Both couples were celebrating our 25th anniversaries so it was a super special trip for us. For 2013, Celebrity's new ship Reflection has the same itinerary as ours whereas Equinox has a different route. For an even more detailed version of the trip review with over 250 pictures, please refer to the link below: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1804781 You are most welcome to post your questions to the above thread & I'll be more than happy to answer them. This trip consisted of a 1-week pre-cruise train tour around Italy, an 11-night E. Med. Cruise on Celebrity Equinox and a 4-day post-cruise trip in Rome. I hope it is informative and helpful enough for those who are planning on a cruise to Italy, Greece and Turkey, as I just highlight some of the info that I think should be noted while planning. July 16, 2012 (Day 1) -- Toronto to Rome The 9-hour Air Transat direct flight from Toronto to Rome was cheap (just $1000 in the summer) and on time. The meals were good and the seat was comfortable. Air Transat offered us a $99 coupon (reg. $384) for Park'N Fly's valet parking for our 22-day trip when we did our online check-in. July 17, 2012 (Day 2) -- Rome to Florence We arrived Rome just after 12 noon and managed to pass through customs & get our luggage without a long wait. Our friends went to their resort and DH & I boarded the Metropolitan FM1 train from Rome's Fiumicino Airport to Roma Tiburtina train station at around 1:15 p.m. Train fare was only 5.50 per person and the train journey was 48 minutes long. As I booked my train tickets over 4 months in advance, we were able to pay only 9 per person per journey. This was way cheaper than an Italy rail pass. A 5-day train pass in Italy (used any 5 days within 2 months) would cost me €200 but my total train fare was only 70 for 5 days. We arrived in Florence in 1½ hours just before 5 p.m. We went to the Accademia Gallery to view The Statue of David. Luckily we got there AND THERE WAS NO LINE (sometimes the line-up could be 2 hours long). Then we walked to the nearby Florence Cathedral (Duomo) bathed in beautiful sunset. Opposite the famous Cathedral was the Baptistery with its world-famous bronze doors. After dinner, we walked to Ponte Vecchio (the famous Old Bridge) to enjoy its beautiful night view. July 18, 2012 (Day 3) -- Pisa & Florence We boarded a regional train from Florence to Pisa. The journey was only 50 min. long and we used our credit card to pay 7.80 per person using the ticket machine at the station. The English instructions were clear and easy to follow. The trains ran every 10-15 minutes and we didn't have to specify which train we took. We just walked to the platform and took the first train to Pisa Centrale Station to view the Leaning Tower and the nearby attractions at Piazza del Duomo. It's best to take a taxi there (€8) so you knew where to get off and taking the bus back to the station was only 1.10 each. We got back to Florence just after 5 p.m. and decided to take a taxi for 10 to go to Piazzale Michelango to view the replica of the Statue of David and enjoy the panoramic view of Florence. To celebrate our 25th anniversary, we had a lovely dinner at our hotel, St. Regis' award-winning Etichetta Restaurant, where there was superb service and above average food. July 19, 2012 (Day 4) -- Florence to Venice We asked the concierge to get us tickets for Uffizi (11 per person) & paid an extra 4 per ticket for admin. fee and to skip the line. Since we didn't have a lot of time in Florence, buying a Firenze Card for 50 was not really worth it. Having spent almost 2 hours at the Uffizi, we still had a couple of hours before our 12 noon train to Venice, so we walked to Palazzo della Signoria to see the Statue of David again, and to revisit Palazzo Vecchio and the statues. It's sad to leave the beautiful city of Florence! Next time I need to plan better so I could visit Lucca & Siena as well. We took the 12-noon Frecciargento high-speed train from Florence to Venice and again paid 9 for each ticket. The journey was only 2 hours long. We arrived at Venezia S. Lucia at 2 p.m. and started to explore Venice, the MOST INACCESSIBLE CITY IN ITALY!! Despite how much I LOVE Venice as I still find it the most beautiful, romantic and unique of all the Italian cities, my #1 tip would be: VISIT VENICE WHEN YOU HAVE NO BIG BAGS. Be prepared to walk on bridges with steps but not ramps AT ALL TIMES! I had to admit that the vaporettos (water buses) were very convenient to travel along the Grand Canal if they were for everyday sightseeing. We bought a San Marco Venice card for 24.90 with a 72-hour Travelcard for 35 plus a round-trip Grand Canal Cruise (10) with commentary and found it most useful. As many of you may be planning a pre-cruise or post-cruise stay in Venice, please research how you are going to your hotels. Some luxury hotels had their private shuttle boats, then it's fine! However, if water taxis would be your choice, a journey from the cruise terminal to a San Marco hotel or from the hotel to the airport could cost 80-120. Bear in mind that a water taxi could take 10-12 people so it's worth considering if you have a big group. This is a very useful website: http://www.mediterranean-cruise-ports-easy.com/venice-water-taxi.html. When I did my research I read this from that site but I was not sure if it was still the case now: Venice taxi from cruise terminal to downtown Venice Unfortunately such a thing does not exist. If you are visiting Venice for a day or two as part of your Europe cruise itinerary and want to get downtown Venice or to San Marco, you'll need to look into other means of transportation. Taxis (land) will be available inside the Stazione Marittima terminal mostly only on turnaround days. Even if the day of your cruise ship's visit coincides with other ship's turnaround and taxis are available inside the Stazione Marittima, taxi drivers will always rather take passengers to the airport than to Piazzale Roma which is only a 5 minute ride away. So, if you decide not to take cruise ship organized transportation to Venice and want to take a vaporetto down the Grand Canal, walking to Piazzale Roma will be your only option. While taking the Grand Canal Cruise, we could move freely on the boat so we were able to get the best view of the canal. On a vaporetto it would be crowded the whole time, unless you manage to get the front seats. July 20, 2012 (Day 5) -- Venice Visited the Bell Tower (Campanile), St. Mark's Basilica, Doge Palace & other museums listed on the Venice Card -- great to skip the lines! Met up with my colleague & her husband and they took us to a great restaurant for dinner. We only paid 30 each for a meal with starter, pasta, entree, dessert, coffee and wine at Trattoria Alla Scala near St. Mark's. July 21, 2012 (Day 6) -- Milan As Christians, we went there mainly to view The Last Supper. It was also great to visit the upscale designers' stores where DH bought a well-fitted silk suit. There were €9 tickets only for the return trip so we had to pay 19 for this outbound journey. Our train left Venice at 6:58 a.m. and reached Milan in 2½ hours. Milano Centrale Station was very clean and modern. We bought a 4.50 24-hour Pass for unlimited use of public transportation in Milan. The Metro was easy to use and we first went to Milan Duomo, then we went to the upscale shopping mall Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II opposite the Duomo. We also visited the La Scala Opera House before going to Fashion Quadrilatero where the most prestigious boutiques and showrooms were. The four streets of Fashion Quadrilatero were Via Montenapoleone, Via Sant'Andrea, Via Della Spiga and Via Manzoni. Most of those streets were pedestrianized, making that area perfect for an easy stroll. DH bought a designer silk suit for only a quarter of the original price. The stores were very professional and efficient as they prepared all forms and receipts in a package for us to claim tax refund at the airport. The receipts must be over €180 before tax in a single store. We got 18% cash back as tax refund while claiming it at the airport. We took the bus to continue our sightseeing at the Sforza Castle. From Sforza Castle we went to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie for the viewing of The Last Supper that we reserved the tickets through Tickitaly 4 months in advance. We were not allowed to take any picture while inside the refectory where the painting was. I never knew that the painting was actually on the wall of the refectory until I saw it and also learned that later on people put a doorway where Jesus' feet were. That's why we couldn't see His feet on the painting now. July 22, 2012 (Day 7) -- Venice to Rome We woke up to another beautiful day. Since we had a morning to spare before taking the 1 p.m. train to Rome, we decided to take the vaporetto from Piazzale Roma to Rialto Bridge and had breakfast by the Grand Canal. It's time to get back to the hotel, check out and take another 9 train to Rome. The journey from Venezia S. Lucia to Roma Termini was 3 hours and 45 minutes long. We only visited the Spanish Steps and the Colosseum after dinner at Trattoria Gigi. July 23, 2012 (Day 8) -- Rome to Civitavecchia (Cruise Port), Italy Yay! First day of the cruise had finally arrived! We booked a van through Rome Shuttle Limousine (165 for 8 people - 15 cheaper than Rome Cab) to pick us up at St. Regis to go to the cruise port. The ride took about 1½ hours and check-in was easy. Celebrity collected all our passports so we didn't have to worry about going through immigration at any of the ports. We were given a receipt to claim the passports on the last sea day. As we already got free alcoholic drinks from the Elite Happy Hours being Elite Captain's Club members, we found it good enough to prepay for a premium non-alcoholic package of $18 per day which included canned and fountain soft drinks, Evian, Perrier & San Pellegrino water, specialty coffees and teas, frozen drinks & smoothies. After a quick lunch at the Oceanview Cafe (the food was actually not bad for a buffet), we went to our Aqua Class stateroom #1535 on Penthouse Deck 11. The room was just an average-size balcony room, with added amenities like daily fresh fruit, fresh-cut flowers and different types of tea (prepared fresh daily with choices of raspberry, jasmine, herbal, green, etc.). After a Spa Tour, DH & I did our first spa treatments in the afternoon. Great & relaxing! As a Captain's Club Elite member, I received an email a few months before the cruise, offering me a 20% discount for dinner at Murano (reg. $35 per person) on the first night, so I prepaid and the 4 of us had a lovely meal there with above average food, service and atmosphere. The Filet Mignon I ordered was tender and juicy and the Crepe Balon Rouge prepared tableside was delicious. July 24, 2012 (Day 9) -- At sea (1st formal night) We had a very busy morning. First we went to Cellar Masters on Deck 4 for the Meet & Mingle at 10 a.m. It's great to meet the CC friends whom we chatted for so long before the cruise. We also met our private tours' travel buddies there. Then Celebrity invited us to join the ship's Honeymoon and Anniversary celebration at the Sky Observation Lounge (Deck 14 Forward) at 11:15 a.m. In order to get ALL the hard copies plus a CD of our pictures taken by Equinox's photographers, we decided to buy the ship's All inclusive picture package for $299.95. DH & I took lots of nice pictures from station to station on this 1st formal night. We ate at Blu, the specialty restaurant exclusively for Aqua guests...loved the food, atmosphere and especially the service. July 25, 2012 (Day 10) -- Santorini, Greece I was very excited about this first port day in Santorini! We had a beautiful view of Santorini from our balcony. Breakfast was at Blu and I really liked their smoothies. They were free for Aqua guests during breakfast time. As we checked http://www.cruisetimetables.com (a very important & useful site, check and plan accordingly!!) and knew that there were 3 other cruise ships docking at Santorini on the same day, we decided to join the ship excursion SO01 (CA$79.75 per person) - Village of Oia and Santorini Island - to take advantage of visiting Oia first, instead of taking the cable car or donkey to Fira with the crowds. Besides, there was no need to queue up early for the tendering tickets. Some of our friends told us that since all early tenders were for cruisers that had booked ship's excursions, other guests had to wait for a couple of hours to get on a tender, and they could only have time to visit Fira but not Oia. IMO, Oia was more beautiful than the well-known capital, Fira. We were given some time to explore Oia on our own and DH took lots of amazing photos. It's so true to say that if you can't take a beautiful picture in Santorini, it's because you don't have a camera. This picture showed the donkey station where people walked up and down with the donkeys (they were actually mules). Some parts of the donkey path were not very wide so it's not easy to walk up or down from/to the shore with the donkeys. Having spent a couple of hours in Fira, we went to the cable car station to meet up with our friends. Each cable car could hold 6 people max and there was a set of 6 cars that moved together. The journey from the top of the cliff to the port took 3 minutes. When we got back, we quickly changed for dinner at Tuscan Grille. Since we got a special discount of 25%, we only paid $90 for the 4 of us. This proved to be the best dinner on board. July 26, 2012 (Day 11) -- At sea After lunch, we went to the Senior Officers' Social exclusively for Captain's Club members, had a drink at Michael's Club before dinner at Blu, then watched the A Capella quartet performing at the Entertainment Court. Some of the songs sung by the quartet were good but the balance was not desirable, especially when the harmony was louder than the melody. July 27, 2012 (Day 12) -- Istanbul, Turkey (Day 1 of 2) Celebrity Equinox's itinerary with 1.5 days in Istanbul and 1 full day in Ephesus was one major reason why we booked the cruise. DH & I had always wanted to visit Istanbul, the only city in the world that lies in both Asia and Europe. I booked Tour #4 (1.5 days Private Istanbul Tour) for 10 people with Ephesus Shuttle. Each paid US$116. I highly recommended Ephesus Shuttle for private tours in Istanbul and Ephesus. Lots of CC cruisers used them and were all happy about their service. The best about Ephesus Shuttle was we could pay for our own tours at their office in Ephesus using different forms of payment not before but after the tours. For those not going to Ephesus could pay the guide after the Istanbul City Tour without going to the office. Omar from Ephesus Shuttle was our guide and he met us at the Istanbul port on time at 8:15 a.m. He had been in the profession for over 20 years and knew all the tricks of how to see the most in the shortest time...that's exactly our travel style! His English was excellent and he was very humorous. We first went to the Hippodrome Square where chariot races and riots took place in the olden days. Then we walked to the Blue Mosque nearby and visited Hagia Sophia built in 532 A.D. After Topkapi Palace, we had lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, we went to a carpet presentation before visiting the Grand Bazaar. One of the cruise highlights for DH was the Turkish Night Out where he could watch different belly dancers dance. I paid US$80 per person for Ephesus Shuttle to pick us up at 8 p.m. from the ship for a Turkish Night Out and they took us to Kervansaray Restaurant & Night Club. The food was below average from a fixed menu (everyone there attending the show had the same food). The female singer was not up to par, but the belly dancers were very good and they even claimed to have the #1 belly dancer in Istanbul. The show with the knives was also amazing. We left the restaurant at 11 p.m. and took some night shots of the pier before boarding the ship. This is the famous Bosphorus Bridge connecting Europe & Asia. July 28, 2012 (Day 13) -- Istanbul, Turkey (Day 2 of 2) Our ½ day city tour of Istanbul with Ephesus Shuttle began at 8:30 a.m. today. Omar met us at the pier on time and took us to Suleymaniye Mosque without delay. The mosque was well-kept with the most beautiful view of Istanbul. From the Suleymaniye Mosque, we could see Equinox and the Bosphorus Bridge. Our next stop was the Underground Cistern which was the largest underground water reservoir in Istanbul built by Justinian I. Our last stop of the city tour was the Spice Market. From there we walked to the Galata Bridge to watch people fish. The bridge had the most amazing view of the Golden Horn (Istanbul's deep, natural harbour) with the floating restaurants. July 29, 2012 (Day 14) -- Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey We booked Ephesus Shuttle's Tour #5 and we met our guide at the Kusadasi Port at 10:15 a.m. First we went to the House of Virgin Mary. It was claimed that Mary went to Ephesus with St. John in 37 A.D. and lived there until her death in 48 A.D. The "Wishing Wall" outside the House of Virgin Mary was a "must-see". Then the van took us to the highlight of our cruise -- Ancient Ephesus. That day was an extremely hot day! Luckily, I wore my hat and used my umbrella so I didn't really feel the sun but just the heat. As soon as we entered, we saw the Baths of the "State Agora". Then we passed by "The Bouleuterion" which housed the meetings of the Council as well as musical performances and contests built around 100 A.D. The Market Basilica was a 160-m long arcade, also built in the 1st century. We continued to walk in the heat and finally arrived at Terrace Houses. Our guide gave us the ticket to enter the site and it was amazing. The extra cost of $10 was so worth it. Compare to the rest of Ancient Ephesus, these houses were way better preserved and the excavation only started in 1960's. The Terrace Houses were located on the hill opposite the Temple of Hadrian and were also called "The Houses of the Rich". There were 6 residential units on three terraces and now they're covered with protective roofing. The mosaics on the floor were clearly visible and the frescos have been consolidated. We continued on to see the Library of Celsus, next to it was the Gate of Mazeus and Mithridates. Near the Great Theatre, we stood in the shade and watched a 5-minute live presentation. We went on to visit Selcuk Museum where many of the archaeological treasures, especially from Ephesus, were preserved. We had Turkish pork and beef kebabs for lunch. After lunch, we drove to St. John's Basilica. It's believed that Jesus' disciple, John, spent his last years in the region around Ephesus and was buried in the southern slope of Ayosolug Hill where the basilica was located. When we stopped at the Temple of Artemis, it was so sad to see what used to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World had only 1½ columns left. After we paid at the Ephesus Shuttle office, we were dropped off at the Grand Bazaar in Kusadasi to do some last-minute shopping. The prices were cheaper than Istanbul but the quality in general was not as good. I bought many Turkish bracelets with evil eyes on and they were only $1.00 each. Great souvenirs! Bye Turkey! Off we sailed to Athens, Greece. July 30, 2012 (Day 15) -- Athens, Greece We had a super early breakfast at the Oceanview Cafe in order to get ready for our 8 a.m. one day tour in Athens. We chose Nikos Loukas for his "Full Day in Athens (shore excursion)" at http://www.privategreecetours.com. The cost for 6-12 people on a minibus tour was €400. As there were 10 of us, we each paid €40. I didn't know that he would not be our guide while we were at the attractions so I was a bit lost when he just dropped us off at the Acropolis. We followed the crowd to the ticket office and bought our tickets for €12 each. Although some local guides approached us for a guided tour of €10 per person, we declined the offers and just used Rick Steve's audio guide on our iPads. We saw the Acropolis Theatre while walking towards the Parthenon. Then there was the Erechtheum with the rebuilt of the famous "Porch of the Maidens". After the Acropolis, Nikos drove us to the Temple of Zeus at Olympia and showed us the 1896 Old Olympic Stadium. Then he parked the van at a parking lot and we walked uphill for about 10 minutes to the top of Lycabettus Hill to get a panoramic view of Athens. Since it's almost 12 noon, Nikos drove us to the House of the Parliament with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers to watch the changing of the guards. We were all hungry so Nikos dropped us off at a local restaurant near Plaka. It's very close to our next attraction, the Ancient Agora, which used to be the political, financial and commercial centre of ancient Athens. At the Ancient Agora, we saw one of the best preserved ancient temples, Temple of Hephaestus. After visiting Ancient Agora, Nikos dropped us off near Plaka to do some shopping. Hadrian's Arch was just across the street. We spent about an hour there and did some shopping for Greek souvenirs. When we went back to the port, we just wanted to hold on to the ice-cold towels and drank all the cold water and juice before boarding the ship. We were SOOO HOT!! Athens was very hot in July & August. We heard that a few days before our arrival, Acropolis was closed due to the extreme heat. We're so thankful that it's open for us! As soon as we got back, we took a quick shower and headed to Tuscan Grille for the Elite Elegant Tea exclusively for CC elite members. The food, the tea, the view and the service were all wonderful! July 31, 2012 (Day 16) -- Mykonos, Greece After breakfast at Blu, we bought a Shuttle Day Pass ($7 each) to go to town. We went to the closest ATV/Motorcycle rental store (Auto Power - Nazou Vasiliki) after we got off the shuttle and luckily they still had some vehicles that were not rented out. As it was so windy there, DH thought it would be safer renting an ATV instead of a motorcycle, and we just drove it off to Paradise Beach. We paid €35 for a one-day rental, (inclu. tax & helmet rental). On our way back we went to Little Italy and the 5 windmills. August 1, 2012 (Day 17) -- At Sea (2nd formal night) We needed a sea day to relax before going to Naples tomorrow. I hid myself in the spa all morning and had treatments from head to toe...SO SOOTHING! DH had to collect our passports from the Sky Lounge at 10 a.m. and he said there was no line. DH & I didn't feel like having the Brunch in Silhouette Dining Room so we paid $5 each to have lunch at Bistro on 5. Delicious crepes! After lunch, Vacation Vignettes offered us a free but very good Galley Tour. Then we attended a scrapbooking workshop (DH was the only male there!) before getting ready for the 2nd formal night. We went to many photo stations and took lots of pictures. We ate with our tour buddies at Blu and shared our trip pictures on our iPads. A cake was brought to us for our 25th anniversary. That night we went to the spectacular and incredible show of "Equinox" in Cirque du Soleil style. August 2, 2012 (Day 18) -- Naples & Capri, Italy Since we went to Pompeii, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast 5 years ago, we decided to do something different this time. We booked a tour with Tours of Capri and paid 780 for the 6 of us. As a Capri taxi could only accommodate 6 people, we couldn't have more than 6 on this tour so each of us had to pay 130, the most expensive of all our tours but IT'S THE BEST! First we had to take the ferry to Capri from the Port of Naples. Our guide Michel was introducing where to go for the day while we were on the ferry. Our first stop was the Blue Grotto (entrance fee of 12.50 included in tour price). We all had to lie completely flat on the rowboat that could seat 4 people in order to get past the small entrance of the grotto. Since the opening of Blue Grotto was so tiny, no boats could go in when the tides were high or when the sea was rough, so we were lucky to be able to enter. It's so incredible to see nothing but blue inside the dark grotto! Next we went to Anacapri and used the chairlifts to go up to Mount Solaro for a foggy panoramic view of Anacapri. The journey took 20 minutes. After lunch, we started to walk to Augustus Gardens which offered the most incredible view of the Fragolini Rocks. We took the Funicular Railway to go down to the Port of Marina Grande. Our private motorboat was waiting for the 6 of us at the Marina. During the 1-hour private cruise, we saw beautiful coral and sea arches. The highlight of the boat ride was to have a close-up view of the famous Fragolini Rocks and to go through its arch. It was definitely a fantastic way to end our East Med. Cruise! August 3, 2012 (Day 19) -- Rome, Italy Disembarkation was really easy. Since we left the ship at 8:45 a.m. after a big breakfast in the main dining room, our luggage was very easy to be identified as everybody has taken theirs and our bags were the only ones left in the area. We wanted to be adventurous so instead of getting a taxi, we boarded the Celebrity free shuttle to take us to the port entrance and we walked for 10 minutes to the Civitavecchia train station. Train fare was 5 to Roma Termini (fast train 9). We got on the regional train and the journey was 1 hour 10 minutes long (fast train took only 45 minutes). We paid 10 to take a taxi to Hotel Eden (close to Spanish Steps & Villa Borghese). Since we bought a 3-day Roma Pass with unlimited use of public transport, we used the buses a lot. All we had to do was to tap the pass on the ticket machine to validate. We heard some tourists complain that their tickets could not get validated by inserting the pass to the slot, well, it's just not the way to validate the ticket!! DON'T INSERT, JUST TAP!! We went to the main attractions like Spanish Steps, Navona Square, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon & Colosseum by bus. We went to the "Enjoy Rome" office near the Termini Station to book an English speaking tour for the following day. Apparently "Enjoy Rome" ran most of the English speaking tours in Rome at quite a reasonable price. This is the link: http://www.enjoyrome.com/walking/combcatanc.html. We booked a combination tour of the Catacombs and Roman Countryside (3 hours) and the Ancient & Old Rome Walking Tour (3 hours). It cost 73 per person and they only accepted cash. August 4, 2012 (Day 20) -- Rome, Italy We arrived at the "Enjoy Rome" office at around 9:45 a.m. The Catacombs tour started promptly at 10 a.m. Georgia was our guide and she was very knowledgeable with good explanation of what the catacombs were and pointed out lots of easy-to-understand facts about underground Christian burials. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any pictures underground. We were able to spend some time at the gift shop before we boarded the van to the Appian Way which was the oldest Roman road. On the Appian Way, there was the Tomb of Cecilia Metella. Opposite the tomb, there were remains of the Church of San Nicola di Bari. As a structural and civil engineer, DH loved the trip and loved it even more when we concluded the tour with a visit to the Ancient Aquaduct. We had a quick lunch at Termini Station before taking the Metro to Colosseum where the walking tour started in the afternoon. Our walking tour guide Priscilla met us outside the Colosseum Metro Station at the green newspaper booth. There were about 20 of us and we could use our Roma Pass for a free entry. Other group members had to pay the entrance fees but we all got to skip the line. When using the Roma Pass, only the 1st two attractions were free and the others would only be at a discounted price, so it's better to use it for the most expensive attractions. We went to different levels inside the Colosseum and took many pictures. Then we walked to the Roman Forum and other famous Rome attractions like Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon before the tour finished at Navona Square. August 5, 2012 (Day 21) -- Rome, Italy In the morning we took 2 buses to get to Gianicolo Hill for a panoramic view of Rome. Then we took the bus to go to Capitoline Museum and used the Roma Pass again for a free entry (our 2nd attraction). There was the famous symbol of Rome, the Capitoline Wolf. The courtyard with lots of sculpture was also worth visiting. August 6, 2012 (Day 22) -- Rome, Italy Our flight to Canada was in the late afternoon so we used the morning to visit St. Peter's Basilica. There was a long line-up to enter the church. Lots of people were inside the Basilica. Then it's time to say bye to Rome! Arrivederci, Italy! Both DH & I LOVED our super amazing Silver Anniversary trip! Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Here are a couple of notes before I begin my review. First, I have sailed many times with Carnival, and am likely to do so in the future. Second, I have been on the first Carnival ship to get the FunShip 2.0 upgrade - the Carnival Liberty. ... Read More
Here are a couple of notes before I begin my review. First, I have sailed many times with Carnival, and am likely to do so in the future. Second, I have been on the first Carnival ship to get the FunShip 2.0 upgrade - the Carnival Liberty. Third, I traveled with my older children so there will be a few notes for this as well. It is interesting that much of the time I was comparing this ship with the Carnival Liberty. I would have to say, that the FunShip 2.0 experience wasn't really fantastic on that ship either. Maybe I was expecting more? Not sure but I wanted to feel like it was a newer, better Carnival and not just throwing a little makeup on the same old thing. To that point - I guess the biggest thing is I believe we definitely want "more fun". The activities were certainly limited, which I can understand on the big port days but what about the days at sea? There was really no difference between these and the older FunShips. Some specifics... Poolside: Typically is always good for some fun, great music, socializing, quirky contests of some sort. Really none of that on this cruise. Maybe it is more typical on Caribbean cruises. It would be nice if there was one place to go on the ship and know something was always going on. Not here. Movies: These were a nice addition - but I kid you not - one movie that we watched on the screen was literally cut off and ended about 15 minutes before the real end of the movie. No explanation, just yet another advertisement from Carnival which you will get sick of seeing if you go. I think you have to be on the ship to understand. Advertisements! Competitions between Blue Iguana and Red Frog: Since both bars are across from each other poolside, the Carnival Liberty would have little contests between the two. Just to generate excitement and maybe getting a drink one place versus the other. No competitions on Breeze - guess that is reserved for Liberty. Competitions mean a discount on this or that drink, with tallies to who wins. Something fun. Sports Bar: Luckily for us the UEFA Cup soccer games were going on during our trip. However, only one place was available to watch them, and this area was full of smoke. Now I don't mind smoky areas, but it was a little much. Oh well. Public Announcements: "I hate to use the public address system, and I told you I wouldn't, but..." I heard that tons of times. The whole Livorno stop getting messed up (read later) definitely important. A lot of the other ones were just rubbish and unimportant. When I am on a cruise, I don't like the cattle calls to everyone. You have a guide in your room that says what is going on. I don't need announcements about the daily art auction or a shop opening. Well now to throw some good things into the review, which is also important. Food: The mongolian wok is fantastic. Definitely more flavorful that most of the other wok grills I have been to on other ships. Tandoori was nice too - at the back of the ship and often missed. As already stated, the pasta bar upstairs was good for lunchtime as well. Don't miss the BBQ on the fifth floor, that is only open during "days at sea" for lunch. Otherwise it is closed! Dining room food was OK. Not bad, but not something to rave about either. Guy Fieri burgers were 5 times better on Liberty than Breeze. I speculate it is American Beef (Liberty out of Miami) versus whatever beef they had on Breeze. Staff: Very attentive, excellent. Nice and cordial. The gym personnel were great too, and always there for questions or tips. Spa was excellent as well. As mentioned, the poor Guest Services people were always slammed busy, and there weren't enough of them. Decor: Definitely in the right direction. Pinks and Purples of Carnival are gone. Question some of the lighter carpet colors though... they will get darker though as more people walk on them. Kids: My kids really enjoyed their respective kids clubs. There were not a ton of kids onboard, but according to them (and when they got back at night) they had a really good time. Entertainment: Very good. The dancers/singers did the same show multiple times, so you could pick and choose. I think they had a total of five shows throughout the cruise. Some days they did three shows spaced out in time starting at 5pm... they did bring on some UK comedians. Our cruise was 95%+ US residents. You could definitely hear the UK residents though because they laughed when the rest of us had no clue what was being said. "the woman weighed 13 stones" and other phrases that we just couldn't connect to what it meant. I think they were funny but I am not sure... As already mentioned in another review Carnival really screwed up our port schedule. They said "we booked this port a YEAR ago but they don't have a spot for us tomorrow". Hmm. I think if I booked anything a year in advance where people were counting on me I would follow up at least a few times as the date got closer. But they told us Carnival Corporate is working on it so it shouldn't be a problem anymore. Oh well. Marseilles stop was scraped, and Monaco was cut a half day short. We got "an extra day at sea" but I wish they would have hung out a little closer to the shore (the sea was really rough that day!) I think it was said in another review - skip Olbia stop. Waste of time. The rest of the stops were really good though. Would I take the Carnival Breeze again? Sure - especially since things actually went pretty well considering we were the "first paying guests" on the ship. Once other cruise directors get in there and feedback comes back, they can really fix up the small issues that are being pointed out. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
The Carnival Breeze! what can be said - absolutely amazing ship and an absolutely amazing cruise. This was the cruise of a lifetime for us and we were not disappointed. We had booked this cruise about a year in advance allowing us plenty ... Read More
The Carnival Breeze! what can be said - absolutely amazing ship and an absolutely amazing cruise. This was the cruise of a lifetime for us and we were not disappointed. We had booked this cruise about a year in advance allowing us plenty of time to research our shore excursions, we cruise for the itinerary and to gamble. We left from Barcelona, Spain on June 15th. Boarding the ship was without incident and, being platinum and having booked a Grand Suite lent itself to us boarding immediately upon arrival. We opted not to arrive at the cruise port until noon, also giving us the opportunity of not dealing with the crowds. The new color of scheme of the Breeze is relaxing and beautiful. The Suite was what we expected, larger balcony, dressing room, large bathroom and plenty of closet space. The "living" area offered a nice seating area and the 42" flat screen TV could be turned for viewing from bed or from the sofa. From our balcony we could look down to the water or to the extension of deck 5 offering great "people watching" opportunities, our particular location offered us a view of one of the hot tub and the barbecue. I am attempting to offer an overview and will get into details as this review progresses. There was a online group formed early on, this offered much information for those who have not cruised before and also offered the opportunity for many to book shore excursions independently in groups. We opted to book our excursions through Carnival with the exception of one - Rome! (more on this later). The group had a welcome aboard party just before sail-a-way, we visited for a few minutes, said our hello's and went on our way. We also had a cabin crawl scheduled, this offered many who are new to cruising or who have no idea what other cabin categories are like the opportunity to see what they are like. We hosted the group in our suite at the end of the crawl for drinks and "munchies". Two of the cabins I had wanted to see were on our crawl - the cove balconies - and the spa cabins. The cove balconies are interesting and are on our list for a future cruise. The spa cabins surprised me, I'm glad to have the opportunity to see them as well. The group also booked a cocktail party on the last sea day and had much fun. We met some wonderful folks within the group and some not so wonderful, like everything "it is what it is". Can't wait for our November cruise and seeing friends again. Your Time Dining worked perfect for us, allowing the opportunity to not have to worry about being in the dining room at an appointed time - with an itinerary as rigorous as this one, my advice would be my time dining. We opted to dine in the steak house twice (both perfect dinners), and we went to the Italian option three times. This was incredible and new for us as in all of our cruises with Carnival this was the first ship we were on that had the Italian venue. Even now I wish I could perfect the recipe for Nona's meatballs and have the word out to my PVP to see if there is a cookbook available or at least the recipe. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one! Food in the dining room was great, and our seating was prompt and our location requests handled to our specifications. I don't do breakfast, hubby does and he was pleased. My preference is coffee and toast via room service and that was without incident, in fact, it was very surprising as to how quickly my order was delivered. Lunches on the ship were fun - we did love Guy's burgers and we did find the lido lunch buffet enjoyable. One area I particularly enjoyed was the wok area and the opportunity to "choose my own" ingredients and sauce and have it cooked for me while I waited. While the sauces are delicious, they will make a special sauce for you if you ask as I prefer soy and ginger. The cooks were more than happy to accommodate. Sandwiches were great and many choices available. The pizza was as expected - light, crispy and a wonderful late night snack. It was nice to see a new show - as we have been on the same ships several time we often find we run into productions we have seen before - Motor City and Diva's did not disappoint us. The theatre has a few spots that would make it hard to see the stage, but if you get to the theatre early you should be able to escape them. Carnival should take a lesson from RCCL here and offer exclusive seating for suite patrons. This is one side of Carnival lacking from RCCL as we greatly missed our concierge services. (The new "perks" program has rolled out -- more on that later). The comedy shows were ok, we aren't big on them so we would visit for a few and leave, they were what we expected. We opted out of the welcome and goodbye shows as they never change and we have seen our share. Our cabin steward was "WONDERFUL" she and her assistants could NOT do enough for us. They were attentive and accommodating -- if we were walking to our cabin and they saw us, they would run ahead and open our suite for us - they welcomed us home from our days of sightseeing - it was like coming home to old friends. Another group to acknowledge is guest services - again they offered the extra effort to take care of our needs and questions. Another "hats-off" goes to the Internet team - they had our IPad connected within minutes of our visit. The internet service on the ship is great and fast! The addition of the new daily list of ships activities on line is great! and FREE. We also used the Spa frequently and found the staff and the spa services to exceed our expectations. We booked a couples massage and this was one of our highlights aboard the ship. The spa offered us wonderfully quiet on our sea days - we opt for this rather than the lido pool deck. The pool area was ok - it's not something we do. Movies under the stars were good. The selection was good and should have provided something for everyone. The 5D theatre was like being at Disney, rollercoaster effects, water squirting, air squirting - we are sure it is something that will fare well on the Breeze - great family activity. We did spend much time in the Casino and were floored to discover we were sailing with old friends - we knew our pit bosses from previous cruises - it was like "old home week". Eleanora - it was so wonderful to see you again! We won, we lost, we came up, we went down - all it all - we can't complain as we view gambling as entertainment - we were not disappointed, had tons of fun and met some great new friends. Now about excursions - - Carnival excursions were great - we were very particular in what we chose to do - most of our excursions provided transportation and then exploration "on your own". This worked well for us. Also, hat's off to Carnival, as our arrival to Venice was not without its problems as there was a transportation strike in effect the day we were there. Carnival scrambled and was able to secure enough launches to transport folks from the ship to St. Mark's Square area. All other excursions went as scheduled. Thanks Carnival! You did a great job in a tough situation! After walking around Venice for awhile we had Italian ice cream at St. Mark's Square and then found a gondola ride. Another highlight of the trip as we bargained for a 45 minute ride for 80 Euros and we opted to tip. Our driver took us on a wonderful route through the canals. He told us about the history of the gondola's and pointed out each building of interest as we passed them. He stopped for photo opportunities. Our 45 minutes ended up as an hour and a half. He posed for pictures with us as well. We did have dinner off ship on several occasions - this was wonderful -- We shall never forget our dinner in Venice and our waiter, we chose a beautiful little place with a restaurant seating area inside and a beautiful sidewalk seating area outside. Being in Venice we opted to sit outside and enjoy dinner. Our waiter was so attentive to our needs -- he was wonderful and took it upon himself to entertain us. It amazes me that Europeans don't tip - having worked as a waitress through college, I just can't not tip - in Venice our dinner check was about 76 Euros. We gave the waiter 100 Euros - he promptly returned with change - we said no - for you - he tried again to give us the change - again we said no - for you - he quickly ran back into the kitchen and got the cook - returned for us to tell the cook it was for him. Next he ran back to the bar and grabbed a bottle of lemoncello and shot glasses - returned to our table and poured drinks for us. Such a sweet gesture and truly a highlight of our cruise. As mentioned early on in this review - we booked our own excursion in Rome - this was by far one of the best decisions we made. Hubby had surgery on his foot and is not quite 100%. I was worried about him holding up for a full day and evening in Rome. I searched the internet and found a gentlemen who was advertising Gold Cart Tours of Rome - I started talking with Paolo about 9 months before the cruise via email and telephone. Paolo was a true gentleman and it became apparent quickly that he was going to make our visit to Rome truly exceptional. Paolo also offered transfers from the ship to Rome --we did this as well. Our driver met us at the ship - and whisked us away in his Mercedes into Rome. He pointed out things of interest and took the time to get to know us. Once in Rome he dropped us off in Borgese Park where Paolo had arranged for us to tour the park on Segways! We laughed and learned to ride them in about 10 minutes - Paolo was our guide and took us through the park and to the overlook where we could view all of Rome. After our visit in the park - Paolo took us into Rome via golf cart! This is an incredible way to see Rome - Paolo basically drove us up and down the side streets of Rome from destination to destination. We were dropped off at every one of the sites and would go back and join Paolo once we were ready. We saw the side streets of Rome and other things off the typical tourist trails. Paolo was a wealth of information and narrated through the entire day. He knows his history and had remarkable stories to tell. We were driving along the Apian Way about lunch time. Paolo had prearranged lunch for us at a wonderful restaurant that was once one of the tombs within the wall of Rome - Paolo introduced us to the cook, and we feel we actually had the opportunity to meet "Moma" while in Italy - in fact, she cooked lunch for us. Now, lunch was interesting, Paolo pointed out, lunch is their big meal of the day, the food was endless - soup course, salad course, pasta course, meat course (make that 4 meats) as the plates just kept coming. We had to ask them to stop - we couldn't eat anything else! The afternoon was back to the sites of Rome -- those on the tourist routes, and those not on the tourist routes! We learned so much from Paolo and extend our sincere appreciation for him making Rome a highlight of our vacation. Paulo also told us that while gelato is good - Italian ice cream is the end-all-be-all he was right! There are those who will cruise and find fault, I have run into that in the last few days, it never ceases to amaze me. Although there will always be something not to one's liking there are ways to constructively voice complaints. In the last few days I have been witness to a couple who wouldn't extend a compliment if it jumped up and hit them in the nose. If one stands back and takes a look their arrogance and lack of good manners quickly comes to surface. Personally we never dwell on the negatives, we go on our cruises expecting to have a wonderful time and experience - we have never been disappointed -- We are looking forward to many more cruises and if you are thinking about the Breeze, book it, enjoy her - she's beautiful. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We booked this cruise because it was visiting some of the sites we have not previously been too, such as Dubrovnik and Mt Etna. We booked a SPA package and Suite. The Suite did not disappoint. More than ample room. Very spacious and ... Read More
We booked this cruise because it was visiting some of the sites we have not previously been too, such as Dubrovnik and Mt Etna. We booked a SPA package and Suite. The Suite did not disappoint. More than ample room. Very spacious and clean with a spa bath of our own and separate area for our clothes. We were more than impressed with the cleaning staff who worked around us and we never came back to a messy room after breakfast. We loved the way they put the towels in the shape of different animals on the bed each night. While we had chosen anytime dining as we are early to bed early to rise people we found that although we asked for a table for two on every occasion we were seated at large tables for breakfast constantly and although we kept asking to be moved the dinning staff were not impressed. I had a cold so did not wish to share my germs with others around me. The Food was superb only one night could I not eat the main meal. The breakfast menu never once changed. The main buffet was quite good but I hate ques. The drinks however were overpriced. Minimum $8 for a house wine. One glass mind you not a drop more. I believe that they should be slightly cheaper when in the dinning room at night. The Spa and Gym were fantastic areas if a bit small. State of the art equipment and the Steam rooms felt like luxury best ever on a cruise. Entertainment was fantastic. Great music, Great comedians and entertainers all round. The Water Slides were exciting, what was missing was the children. This cruise we were on was more for the young couples and elder couples. Kids were missing. The decor of the ship was a little lacking IMO not so garish as other cruise lines I've been on but still a little too boring. The Internet access was very good. The pools a bit small. Tours with the cruise line are way overpriced. We wanted to go on a Sorrento Amalfi Positano tour and it would of cost us approx $180 per person for the day. We walked off the ship and with another couple from the cruise hopped in a limo with our own taxi driver who knew all the sites for $200 all up. We had a wonderful day at our own lesuire and saw all the sites we wanted to. I cannot understand why the tours have to be so expensive on the ships. Overall I would use this cruise liner again but maybe for only 7 -10 nights. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
The Celebrity Equinox is a beautiful ship meticulously cleaned and maintained. The Eastern Mediterranean ports-of-call would make up a perfect itinerary except that each stay is too short by at least half. Even at that, first time ... Read More
The Celebrity Equinox is a beautiful ship meticulously cleaned and maintained. The Eastern Mediterranean ports-of-call would make up a perfect itinerary except that each stay is too short by at least half. Even at that, first time visitors to these ports-of-call (like ourselves) have to visit so many unskippable sites in so few days that it really is an exhausting trip. Aquaspa class offers nice accommodations (the showers are fantastic), better dining, and closer proximity to the pool and spa decks. The other advertised in-room amenities were just marketing hype: the "floral arrangements" were a single bud in a tiny vase, the afternoon canapes were marginal when they weren't irrelevant because of being ashore, the aroma stuff was nonexistent as was the "pillow menu" (though I have no doubt you can get as many pillows as you want with a quick phone call or word with the cabin stewarts). We loved the ports-of-call and the ship was spectacular. However, leaving Santorini before 10PM is immoral (especially when the ship simply holds station most of the night in front of the next port-of-call at Mykonos). Giving Celebrity the benefit of the doubt, I suspect that huge cruise ships in port beyond closing time for the souvenir shops would screw up the evening ambiance on the Greek islands. If we consider a repeat of the Eastern Med cruise, we'll give careful consideration to the smaller cruise lines with ships that can stay in port later or, alternately, the bare bones cruises that have you forfeit comfy cabins, good food and on-board entertainment for rock bottom prices and much longer port stays. It just might be better to spend the money saved on restaurants and entertainment in the ports and just use the ships for clothing storage and a place to sleep. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Let me start by saying I have read some bad reviews from people that have traveled on this ship and all I can say is I have NO IDEA what ship they were on but it wasn't the Jade I was on. I LOVE THIS SHIP! My friend and I just got ... Read More
Let me start by saying I have read some bad reviews from people that have traveled on this ship and all I can say is I have NO IDEA what ship they were on but it wasn't the Jade I was on. I LOVE THIS SHIP! My friend and I just got back from a 7 day cruise to Venice, Dubrovnik, Athens, Izmir, Split and back to Venice. This ship is so clean and had such a good vibe...I never wanted to leave. The entire crew was absolutely wonderful! We had a BB Balcony state room on the 10th floor...cabin 10512 and Michelle was our room keeper. Fabulous room! Really comfy bed, super clean linens and loved the bathroom. Sliding door to separate toilet, lots of fresh towels every day and the water pressure in the shower was amazing. Michelle makes a mean towel monkey too! (They make your towels into animal shapes sometimes) Lots of storage space for clothes....big closets and shelves. There was also a vanity, desk, TV, pull out sofa and mini bar. The only minus I can think of is that we didn't use the pull out bed (we were 2 friends...male and female traveling together) as it didn't look like it had been given fresh linens in a while. We shared the huge queen size bed so it was fine with us. Yes the ship is designed with big palm trees and Hawaiian fashion as it was initially The Pride of Hawaii but I love the cheesiness of it all honestly. The whole vibe of the ship was awesome...especially the disembarkation parties on the pool deck when you're leaving ports....loved it! Great mix of people and nationalities. I got to know people from 22 -70 years old and had a blast doing it. The food all over the ship was excellent! I have no idea why so many people are complaining about the restaurants that have a small cover charge....don't go there if you don't want to. The free restaurants are excellent. We ate at Alizar or the Garden buffet almost every night. Actually, the buffet was my favorite part of the ship and I never even had time to try everything it offered. The Spinnaker Lounge is the night club on the ship but a lot of under age kids are allowed to stay into the wee hours of the night and inappropriate things sometimes happen so if you have kids....bad thin gs can happen even on a cruise ship. Put your kids to bed at night where they belong...that's all I'm saying. My favorite part of the cruise was the Lychee Sakitini after dinner in the Martini bar on deck 6. Sam and John are excellent bartenders and I really looked forward to hearing the pianist John play every night. Having been off the ship a few days now....I really miss hearing him play. Drink prices....AGAIN...I have no idea what people are complaining about. The prices were totally reasonable unless you're from the sticks and you're used to $2 Budweiser...I don't get it. I ran up exactly as outrageous a bar tab I expected to and it was worth every penny. Free all day in the buffet are coffee, tea and iced tea. There's juice in the morning with breakfast. Fine with me.The pool and pool area are super clean and I actually asked the pool maintenance guy how it all worked when he had emptied the pool for cleaning one night. The pool is refilled with fresh sea water quite often and he was so sweet telling me about it. I talked to the staff more than passengers actually...they were all so nice!THE SPA....oh my....the spa! I bought the $119 week long package to the spa. (They only sell 40 women and 40 men passes each trip so when you get on the ship...RUN THERE and get one) There are women only, men only and co ed areas here. In the women only there is a huge hot tub right above the captain's room so you're in a hut tub in the front of the ship with nothing but deep blue ocean in front of you and on the right side. It was indescribable and decadent...I felt like a queen. They also have a windowed sauna (again...ocean right outside) and a steam room with eucalyptus in the steam.. There are lockers with robes and towels inside, showers and these mosaic tiled showers with light therapy and your choice of ice rain or tropical rain. There is also a cold plunger pool which is my favorite thing. It's a great way to wake up between being pool side all day and dressing for dinner. The co ed area has a huge hot tub that you lay down in....ahhhhhhmazing and heated mosaic tile beds right in front of the windows that put you to sleep in about 5 seconds. Trust me....get the pass!They use hand sanitizer EVERYWHERE on the ship to keep people safe. I never use it myself but on the ship...it's necessary. Just use it and cooperate. Say hello to the "washy washy, happy happy" lady at the garden cafe for me....I LOVED her!I also loved "Champagne Duo" that usually performed out by the pool....they sang such great songs and really set the mood on the pool deck. Everything was just so harmonious....I really miss it. On days when you are at sea.....you have to get up really early to get a deck chair and reserving for over an hour is not allowed so plan your attack ahead of time or you'll be standing or up a deck or two above the pool. I never saw the ship actually run out of deck chairs though. If you look, you'll find one somewhere. All the excursions we took were fabulous but in in Athens I scheduled an air conditioned Mercedes Taxi and it was the smartest thing I could have done. The owner of the company picked us up at port himself and took us everywhere we wanted to go in 5 hours...he even bought us lunch at this brick oven place. Amex had accidentally canceled my card while I was on the ship and when I told him where the Athens Amex office was....he took me there and I was on my way in no time. We went straight to the Parthenon before it got too hot or crowded and doing it without a group is a breeze...then you just split when you want to. He and his drivers also really know a lot about the history and i got as much knowledge from him as I would have from any tour guide. He also had a video of Athens that played in the car and sent me home with a book and DVD. The best part? It was only 150 Euro for us both. 150 per tour! Can't beat it....30 Euro dawn payment through Pay Pal and you're all set. The best part was we got to go to a lot of scenic spots that a tour bus would never have been able to get to and he even brought us to Parliament for the changing of the guards. I highly recommend you do it too! Ask for John! http://www.athenstoursguide.com/Anyway, I loved this ship...loved the ports...loved the crew...loved it all. If you can't have fun on this ship....you need to take a long look at your life cause I can't wait to go back! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Have just arrived back on the Celebrity Eclipse 4th Sept 2010 I have seen other reviews from people on the same voyage so will try to limit this to our experience of Aqua Class. Booking late we had a choice of an unknown balcony or paying ... Read More
Have just arrived back on the Celebrity Eclipse 4th Sept 2010 I have seen other reviews from people on the same voyage so will try to limit this to our experience of Aqua Class. Booking late we had a choice of an unknown balcony or paying more and being allocated an Aqua Class cabin. As we were traveling with another couple decided that we did not want to be opposite ends of the ship, so elected to pay the extra and go Aqua. We originally made the booking directly through Celebrity and the salesperson advised us to take ajoining cabins 1552/1554 (there were two others together at the very front). Having made the booking and checking on the review and critic sights, we found that 1554 had a metal structure directly in line with the balcony (the rep never mentioned this, she also put us down for Anytime dining). We had previously spoken to Caroline a cruise specialist with travel councellors, and after further discussions switched our booking to her. (A very good move). She came back to us and advised that the view was very restricted from 1554 and this should have been discussed on our original booking - she therefore changed that cabin for one just down the hall - she also discovered that if you select Anytime dining in Aqua Class you get re assigned to the MDR! Anyway the point is make sure you have a very good agent or your holiday could be ruined. Aqua Class - everything I read about this was true - the food was exellent, well presented and varied all cooked in its own kitchen. Our waiter Danni said the chef checked every meal as it left the kitchen, and it didn't get served unless he was 100% happy. The staff in this restaurant couldn't do enough for us and we will find it very hard to go back to the MDR on future cruises. The restaurant was small and intimate, we never felt rushed- every meal was an experience in fact I even took photo's of the food (never felt the need before) it was a work of art and tasted even better. One of our party was poorly one morning and the assistant Maitre De Akar arranged for something to be sent to the cabin. One thing that surprised me for the whole ship, was how many people dressed up for the 'formal' nights it was good to see even young lads with dinner jackets - it wasn't over the top, but really added to the experience As for the ship - it felt small, however we could always find somewhere to relax and never crowded. I think the cruise director has just changed to John Grantham, an ex stuntman from Hollywood, he was very low key and likeble, his talk about his experiences was very good. I can't remember a cruise where all the performers around the ship were so good - the standard was terrific and we even made a point of going to the lounges just to hear them - Les Merle who played with some of the greats and took over from Buddy Rich fronted a jazz group, the accapelo group had a large following. The stage shows were good in the main, however I found the show ECLIPSE over indulgent and the singing had no real words (unless you were an Inca) I Have been interested by the comments regarding the level of sound in the theatre - it didn't seem to be any more than normal Eclipse is a brilliant ship, and Celebrity seem to keep their staff for many years and they all appear to be very proud of their ship. The ports of call were good we really loved Cadiz and Toulon in fact the only dissapointment was Gibraltar where we only had half a day. Venturer followed us in and it was a very rushed and crowded experience. I can highly recommend this ship, and as you can guess especially Aqua Class   Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We booked this cruise a year ago or so to celebrate my parents' Golden wedding anniversary. We booked adjacent balcony cabins with my parents in the cabin next door to my son (age 15) and myself. Both balcony cabins were on deck 9 on ... Read More
We booked this cruise a year ago or so to celebrate my parents' Golden wedding anniversary. We booked adjacent balcony cabins with my parents in the cabin next door to my son (age 15) and myself. Both balcony cabins were on deck 9 on the straight part of "the hump". Embarkation at Southampton was fairly painless having filled in the necessary documents online (although grumbling all the time about lack of pre-cruise documents arriving in the post, something I really miss). The check-in procedure was definitely smooth at the port as passport and credit card etc. details had already been supplied. Our cabins were ready for us upon boarding at around 2pm. Our stewardess Marites introduced herself almost immediately and both her and her assistant Michael proved to be absolutely wonderful keeping the cabins spotless. They were both so warm and friendly, always greeting us with lovely smiles. Storage in the cabin proved a little disjointed with cupboards over the bed and a smallish wardrobe. Perhaps we have just become used to the so much more user friendly "walk in" wardrobes of the standard balcony cabins which we enjoyed the on P & O Azura and the Princess ships of recent sailings. The bathroom however was the best I've had. I just loved the spacious shower and very practical bar for leg shaving. Everything was of a high quality except, strangely the toilet paper which disintegrated upon use. An extendable washing line in the shower for smalls etc. would have been useful. On the subject of washing however, there is no laundry room provided and even to get something ironed it had to be sent in. Of course most of us are unpacking a suitcase full of clothes that need just a quick press so an ironing room at least was much appreciated. These thoughts were echoed by many fellow passengers. A big reason why we have chosen Celebrity Cruises is that they do not allow smoking in the cabins and on the balconies. A real treat to be able to sit outside and enjoy the sea air without the whiff of a neighbours' smoke. Well done Celebrity! We had booked first sitting traditional dining, a bit of a rush at 6.15 each evening. We had a table for 8 towards the centre on the bottom level of the Moonlight Sonata dining room. Unfortunately the noise level in the dining room meant it was a struggle to hear our companions across the table, which proved a big disappointment to my hard of hearing father who could not participate in any banter. Having sailed on Celebrity Summit last year with a table in a similar position of our table of 8 we did not experience this problem so it must just be the acoustics of the Moonlight Sonata Dining Room. We would certainly book Select Dining on Eclipse in future where the smaller sized tables are on the upper level and it was not as noisy. For the most part the food was wonderful. Poor Dad however was forced to send his main course back on a couple of occasions. A lover of fish, the fish dishes proved a bit fussy and unappetising. I enjoyed everything apart from a couple of disappointing soups. The service from Bresley and his assistant "Panasonic" was superb, even remembering each night that I liked lemon served with my water. We ate at all the speciality restaurants. Dad and I went to the Tuscan grill which was absolutely fantastic. We celebrated my parents' Golden Wedding Anniversary evening in Murano, which was indeed excellent (although the Dover sole was not quite as good as on Azura) but the service proved just a little intrusive. We ended up in fits of giggles when the waiter timed his arrival of the anniversary cake with Dad handing over of Mums' pendant (complete with elastic band) and hovered a little too long. Poor Dad, never the most romantic, his moment was ruined. On the second last night my son and I (almost as an afterthought) dined at Qsine and have never had so much fun at a meal. Everything is such a surprise and I am still fantasing about the delicious "Sushi lollipops". We absolutely loved it and it is certainly a must do for kids of all ages and I wish we had discovered it sooner. "Mr Spice" is honestly the most enthusiastic waiter we have ever had. "The Trough" (Oceanview cafe) had a lot of variety on offer with stations you can nip in and out of. The drinks station was awkwardly organised though and people were always bumping into each other resulting in a constant wet patch on the floor. Never my favourite eating venue on any ship as they are always so cafeteria like, I usually tried to avoid it and discovered instead the Aqua spa cafe at the solarium. All the produce is organic and it was the perfect spot for a light breakfast and lunch. Only having nine tables it was quieter than "The Trough" although it did become a lot busier the second half of the cruise once people discovered it. Disappointingly the smoking area was just the other side of the glass doors so the odd whiff of smoke drifted through to the eating area particularly on inclement days when the smokers were taking cover. I treated myself and paid $99 to use the Persian Garden (thermal suite) for the duration of the cruise. This proved a wonderful "bolt hole" with its aromatic suite, steam room and heated stone loungers with a glorious sea view. The ship seemed to have a shortage of outdoor loungers and of course being as Eclipse caters primarily to a British market and as the British do enjoy sunning themselves there was always the potential for a deckchair bunfight. It was almost impossible to find a lounger on sea days at the outside pool but there was usually one to be found around the indoor adult's only solarium. The entertainment was good with a particularly memorable Capello group called "Sound Decision". These boys were fabulous and really made me smile popping up with little short shows all over the ship. The production shows were good but older folk were a little disappointed as they were focusing more on "modern day" West End shows like "Wicked" and "We will Rock You". They also complained that they were loud. There was an Acrobatic team called Alex and Sally who were fabulous. The hypnotist, a chap by the name of Christopher Caress was honestly the best show I have seen on a cruise ship, fantastic. There was also a very funny Irish comedian and some good cabaret singers to please the older folk. The Hot Glass show is also very interesting and worth seeing at some point during a cruise. Disappointingly many of the "lectures" were really about "nickel and diming" the passengers but this seems to be a reality in cruising today. My father was disappointed that there was no organised Bridge in the card and games room. We only booked a couple of the ships' shore excursions. It was easy enough in most of the ports to catch the ships shuttle (at a fee) and walk around the Mediterranean ports at leisure. All in all it was a lovely cruise on a beautiful ship. As lovely as a ship is, it can only be as good as the staff onboard. The staff on Eclipse offer a wonderful warm and friendly service. We found them very approachable. We generally always get chatting to staff and they really are such genuine people. Marites, our stewardess was genuinely concerned when Dad caught a dreadful chest and cold bug delivering piles of extra pillows to the cabin to help during the night. The service was spontaneous and from the heart. We would definitely sail on Celebrity Eclipse again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We have just returned from a 14 night cruise to the Eastern Med. chosen because we had not visited the ports of call and as a teacher I have to cruise during school holidays. Having sailed on the Pearl two years ago in the Caribbean we ... Read More
We have just returned from a 14 night cruise to the Eastern Med. chosen because we had not visited the ports of call and as a teacher I have to cruise during school holidays. Having sailed on the Pearl two years ago in the Caribbean we thought we would book the Freestyle cruise with NCL. Last time we had a fantastic balcony cabin at the aft of the ship ~ right at the back and because of the stateroom being so private and the view at the back of the ship we hardly left the cabin! This time we decided to go for an inside stateroom and be more sociable! Our flight to Venice was relaxing~ the flight with British Airways was not full, we arrived in a very hot Venice 43degrees and were transferred to the ship. We dropped our hand luggage to the cabin, changed into our swimwear/shorts and headed directly to have some food at the buffet and were delighted to find that the quality was still superb! A walk around the ship and then time to relax on one of the sunbeds. We visited the Spa and decided to purchase this facility for the two weeks ~ the best decision we have ever made!! We were staying in Venice for two days due to the Festival and were amazed with this delightful place, enjoying our gondola ride, visit to St Mark's square and the fantastic fireworks display. Our cabin Stewards were fantastic and I loved all the towel animals waiting on our bed each evening. The stewards work so hard and we felt sorry for them when some of the cabins on our floor left it to the last minute, just before 9pm to allow them to make up their rooms for the night. Let them do their jobs and have their time off! The most amazing part of our cruise was leaving Venice along the canal and watching the other cruise ships slowly moving past the houses and buildings ~ funnels high above the rooftops ~ so graceful and commanding. We enjoyed all the ports of call and especially Athens where we ventured on our own to visit the ruins ~ costing us 4Euro on the train and 12 Euro entry fee. I would recommend this rather than spending much more on the ships tour! The food was exceptional on board ~ during the first week I did rename the Magenta as 'Magenta Express' the food was literally thrown at us and we timed our four course meal as being ordered, delivered and eaten within 25 minutes. A record or what???? We normally visited the speciality restuarants more but found them to be quite a bit more expensive. We did enjoy the Bistro and my husband had the Sushi on two occasions while I had the Asian. We were disappointed with Cagney's this time as the curly chips were now straight!! We found our stateroom to be very compact and exceptionally noisy and complained to the reception desk about this. Perhaps if you were new to cruising or hard of hearing you might feel that this was acceptable but as this was our seventh cruise we found that the noise was dreadful especially from 11.40 pm to 3 am. One of the receptionists, Meeka was so very helpful, she came to our cabin and agreed the noise was unacceptable. We were offered a cabin for four nights on deck 4 with a porthole BUT had to return to the cabin again for our second week. We decided not to move as it would involve having to pack/unpack/pack and unpack ~ too much hassle so we requested some other sort of refund and were offered a complimentary dinner at the Bistro! We spent quite a lot of time during the late afternoon in the Spa ~ absolutely worth every penny! Only 84 members allowed to join and no kids! Our first week was heaven as it was soooooo quiet and not so busy, being able to cruise with panoramic views from the glass sauna, relax on hot stone beds or simply read a book as the ship cruises to our next port. Our second week found the ship to be full and many Americans on board, this we found made the spa area very noisy at times as Americans like to be heard and others must hear them regardless of whether they want to or not:( We eventually found out that our stateroom was directly below the plate washer in the great outdoors cafe, Meeka then offered us another cabin on the 5th floor and they agreed that we could use it just to sleep in. This we agreed to and it was quieter, we did however ask for a refund as well as it had meant us having to sleep with ear plugs ~ not the holiday we had intended. The price of alcohol on board was not too bad it was the additional 15% added on to each drink that was the problem! In the end we took up the offer of the six bottles of wine and this satisfied my alcohol consumption for the rest of the cruise. Would we cruise with NCL again ~ probably! But not for a while until the dollar is better value and only if we can book our original stateroom. We found the ship to be too full and busy, having watched sunbed rage one time on a sea day it was quite funny and before you ask it wasn't an American it was a German! We love cruising and will perhaps look for a smaller ship to continue our travels! Read Less
Sail Date July 2010

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