72 Tampa Holiday Cruise Reviews

This was our second time cruising with Royal Caribbean and our first time on Brilliance of the Seas. Everything went very smoothly right from check in to the time we left the ship. Our cabin was very clean and we had a great cabin steward. ... Read More
This was our second time cruising with Royal Caribbean and our first time on Brilliance of the Seas. Everything went very smoothly right from check in to the time we left the ship. Our cabin was very clean and we had a great cabin steward. We were sailing with our 3 kids, ages 17, 14 and 10. We did shore excursions at Costa Maya and Cozumel. The Costa Maya was great, just a beach day, with all you can drink. The Cozumel tour was fantastic, but the breach they brought us to afterwards, was very rocky and not very nice. The food and service in the dining room was great! We did not upgrade to any of the restaurants, just used the main dining room. We enjoyed the my-time dining and made a reservation for each night. The entertainment was truly top notch. We saw a fantastic Bon Jovi impersonator who put on a great concert. Also saw two comedians (one was super!) and 2 shows by the RC singers and dancers. The kids also enjoyed the shows. The only downfall for the kids was that the ice cream machine was located inside the Wind Jammer, so it was not available 24/7. They also ran out of white ice cream by day 3. It was worth it get to the ship early and explore on the first day. Our cabin was ready on time and our luggage was there and ready fairly quickly. I would highly recommend travelling with Royal Caribbean and this ship. While the ship is considered "smaller", it still had plenty to do and lots of activity. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
The Good: 1. Good itinerary 2. Big window in Balcony Stateroom 3. Good Entertainment ( Cruise Director was great) The OK: 1. The food was bland and always the same. I was on a carnival Liberty before this and couldn't help but ... Read More
The Good: 1. Good itinerary 2. Big window in Balcony Stateroom 3. Good Entertainment ( Cruise Director was great) The OK: 1. The food was bland and always the same. I was on a carnival Liberty before this and couldn't help but compare. Carnival has a lot more free options and the food is 10 times better. Norwegian's food was bland and always the same. I did not try their restaurants that you had to pay extra for. The Bad 1. There was a smell coming from the aft stairs 2. The bartender in Ramblas bar was rude, never smiled and always looked away. No wonder it was always empty   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Nice ship, wonderful staff, great food, terrific entertainment. What or who ruined it were other cruisers. Guess because it was so close to Christmas and the colleges and universities were off, the young people decided to party. First day ... Read More
Nice ship, wonderful staff, great food, terrific entertainment. What or who ruined it were other cruisers. Guess because it was so close to Christmas and the colleges and universities were off, the young people decided to party. First day at sea a group got very intoxicated at upper pool bar. On the last night there was a loud party on deck 8 that continued til midnight. Loud people on balconies and people smoking where they should not be. Lesson learned here, avoid this time period for future cruising. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was our 4th cruise, second with our children, who range from 13-21.while we had a nice time with family and friends, we were never really impressed by anyone on the shop. We did like the ventiloquist, Kenny Byrd, but he was truly a ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise, second with our children, who range from 13-21.while we had a nice time with family and friends, we were never really impressed by anyone on the shop. We did like the ventiloquist, Kenny Byrd, but he was truly a rare standout. The only other person that seemed to make a relationship with us, a large group of 19, was Emir in the sports bar. The ship is behind the times in terms of technology and shows some wear. Young children were allowed to run all over the ship at breakneck speed and no one ever seemed to interfere. All in all, the experience could have been better. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was our first NCL cruise (16th overall with our favs being Celebrity, RCL and Princess)- we were pleasantly surprised! All 19 of our group had a great time, but I will only speak for my wife and I - the others can write their own ... Read More
This was our first NCL cruise (16th overall with our favs being Celebrity, RCL and Princess)- we were pleasantly surprised! All 19 of our group had a great time, but I will only speak for my wife and I - the others can write their own reviews. I have to start out by saying that my wife and I go on a cruise to meet new people, and the freestyle dining is not the way to do this, so we would never go again on NCL unless it is with a group. The highlight of our cruise had to be the crew - they were always attentive to your needs - always in a friendly and helpful mood. There was always something going on, and we never felt crowded. The cruise, Bobby, and Asst. CD, Tyler, were unbelievable. As far as the accommodations - We had an obstructed, oceanview cabin on Deck 6 - very convenient location at the front of the ship - the room had more storage that we've ever had on a cruise...the shower was TERRIBLE - that had to be the worst part of the cruise - it was SO SMALL, you could hardly turn around or bend down. The food in the buffet was average - sometimes the long was too long and it took forever to get through...the one at the back of the ship was never crowded, but it didn't have all of the buffet items like the ones inside. The dining room food was above average, but service was inconsistent - we even had our waiter leave midway through our meal to go to another shift somewhere else on the ship - we couldn't believe that!!! We seemed to congregate in the Sports Bar every afternoon before dinner - the bar staff (Abin and Emir) were AWESOME. At 5:30, they also had a very good snack menu - things wings (AWESOME), burgers, fries, dips, etc.) Overall, we would definitely recommend the Sun.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Our family has not been on a cruise in 28 years - that one was arranged by a family member. Positives - staterooms were more spacious than I expected, we had 2 inside staterooms on the 8th floor. Staff very friendly, always said hello or ... Read More
Our family has not been on a cruise in 28 years - that one was arranged by a family member. Positives - staterooms were more spacious than I expected, we had 2 inside staterooms on the 8th floor. Staff very friendly, always said hello or acknowledged you on the ship. Negatives - FOOD was the biggest disappointment. Lack of variety overall - seemed like lunch items were re-hash of whatever was left over from the day before - just in a different sauce or form. Every single dessert served was inedible except the German chocolate cake which was only served the afternoon of departure. Desserts looked and tasted like styrofoam, airy, tasteless. Prime rib at Garden Cafe first and last night was reasonably good. A few of the salads were nice.Just huge lack of variety - never saw a shrimp, crab or lobster anything. Most of the on deck meals were cancelled due to wind - which was really not a strong wind. the two they did have were some of the better food served. Only saw grapefruit one day, otherwise cantaloupe, pineapple and honeydew cut fruit ever. yogurt in large dish looked so gloppy I did not even want to try it at breakfast. Excursions we booked on our own and saved about 75% over NCL prices and from what we saw and heard we had much better excursions than those who booked through the ship. Two best were BZ Cave tubing - loved Melvin our guide, great day, lunch was enjoyable, but bring a snack because you only eat at the very end of the day. Other great day was at YaYa Beach Club - club was OK, but it was Carolyn from Undertoe SUP (stand up paddle boards) and Simmone from the Yoga studio who was helping Carolyn who made our day. These two women were amazing they made our day in Mahahual - Costa Maya port the best day of the cruise! Everything you would want - smart, funny, kind, gracious, helpful, friendly. We (especially my sons 24, 22 and 19) had a blast with their lesson and just hanging out with them during the day. No they are not young 20 somethings but have this appeal that crosses generations. Simonne did an impromptu yoga session with me that was a real WOW experience, not just poses, very emotional, healing and something I never experienced before. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
The enticing itinerary of Roatan, Cozumel and Costa Maya, was the reason we chose this cruise departing from Tampa. The port stops were lovely and we had some great excursions including cave tubing, zip lining from 9 platforms, horseback ... Read More
The enticing itinerary of Roatan, Cozumel and Costa Maya, was the reason we chose this cruise departing from Tampa. The port stops were lovely and we had some great excursions including cave tubing, zip lining from 9 platforms, horseback riding, fishing and shopping.The tour guides were very helpful and friendly. One caveat the 6 hour fishing excursion in Roatan is advertised as leaving from the dock as you disembark the ship. It did leave from a dock---- following a 1 hour bus ride to the opposite side of the island. This was clearly false advertisement. The ship on the other hand was a disappointment in several regards. The food in the breakfast and lunch buffet was uninspired, lacked variety and was mediocre. We ate breakfast in the main dining room hoping for better fare. We ordered eggs benedict and were served hard boiled eggs on luncheon ham with no Hollandaise sauce. The main dining room fare was better; excellent French onion soup, great rolls, decent entrees and a delicious turkey with dressing for Christmas day. The servers were very good. We dined in Chops where they had a delicious Forest Mushroom soup and excellent strip steak. The evening we dined in the Izumi specialty restaurant was disappointing and unacceptable. A couple had brought 2 children, one appeared to be around 18 months and the other age 3. The youngest screeched through dinner and the older attempted to climb the room divider as if he were on a playground, all the while the parents were oblivious to the disturbance they were making. Apparently RCL does not have any age standards in place for this specialty restaurant. The Solarium is designated as an adults only pool but there was no dedicated staff member to monitor this and children were in abundance. In general the ship public areas were clean and attractive, but the ship is aged and needs a redo. Also the public restrooms would benefit from more frequent cleaning. In summary, after having sailed on Celebrity and Holland America we expected more. We will not again sail on RCL. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Our room steward was silent and unseen. That was strangely neat! The dining staff in The Windjammer were VERY accommodating! I have been cruising since the early 90's and I can truly say that it (cruising) has changed dramatically. ... Read More
Our room steward was silent and unseen. That was strangely neat! The dining staff in The Windjammer were VERY accommodating! I have been cruising since the early 90's and I can truly say that it (cruising) has changed dramatically. We are no longer treated as "special guests" and there is now a price on everything. (Not really "all-inclusive" anymore) I was disappointed in how many times that I was "cut-off" by a ship employee, or witnessed other cruisers being placed "second" by the ship staff. In the past (other cruise lines) the staff allowed customers first in every aspect. The bartenders came off as borderline arrogant and condescending in nature. The excursion staff seemed to attempt to resolve issues, and although I think their hands were tied (by Royal Caribbean port scheduling) I feel they could have dome more to help us. At no time, did I feel that Royal Caribbean was truly happy that I was there. I am an out-going type "A" personality and have a difficult time finding people that I DON'T like, but I found myself "searching" for someone with the positive attitude of going "above and beyond" in their job. Sadly, it was not on Royal Caribbean. This past cruise has encouraged me to look into all-inclusive resorts for my next vacation. I come from the service industry, so I have higher expectations, but my group of eight people felt the same way I do. I am taking the time to say all of this in hopes of you being able to investigate and address issues and create a more inviting experience for cruisers like me. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Recently, my boyfriend and me took a Carnival cruise on the Paradise during December 22-27 , 2014 . I was thinking , it's would be a perfect little vacation getaway. Usually we book balcony cabin, but this time we had inside cabin( ... Read More
Recently, my boyfriend and me took a Carnival cruise on the Paradise during December 22-27 , 2014 . I was thinking , it's would be a perfect little vacation getaway. Usually we book balcony cabin, but this time we had inside cabin( booked cabin 2 weeks prior cruising) . Instead my boyfriend got very sick ( we think , from poor air circulation and mold ). We complained for 3 days, that it's very hot in the cabin, only on day 3 did the technician finally unscrewed the air vent, witch was full of mold and solid black in color. In fact, most everyone staying on the empress deck was sick and coughing like my boyfriend. With regard to what is supposed to be the reason we all cruise (the superb food) Carnival Paradise's food was simply awful. Specifically the eggs were not real (seemed to be made from powder), the coffee and tea were not brewed. They both were made from syrup and water and tasted horrible. The juices were not made from juice. They use Vitality which is more like a juice drink full of added sugar. The ship was dirty and proper sanitation procedures were not used. Servers not wearing gloves and taking dirty plates away and serving food right after without cleaning hands or wearing gloves. Needless to say we would not recommend the Carnival brands and will never book with them again. They want to charge full price and provide 2nd class service. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This Vision of the Seas cruise, Dec. 20-27, 2014 was only our 2nd cruise (first was on Holland America 2013 thanks to my generous mother-in-law). I loved that this was about the same size ship (about 2K Pax and 800 crew) compared to our ... Read More
This Vision of the Seas cruise, Dec. 20-27, 2014 was only our 2nd cruise (first was on Holland America 2013 thanks to my generous mother-in-law). I loved that this was about the same size ship (about 2K Pax and 800 crew) compared to our HAL ship. I'm reading some complaints about the ship's dining and wondering if these people were on the same ship?! I am a healthy eater and really enjoyed the WONDERFUL, FRESH fruits, salads and array of cheeses and fresh rolls available at breakfast, lunch and dinner. My husband and I are in our late 40's and traveled with my 11 y.o. daughter and her 12 y.o. best friend. There was really something for everyone on this ship.. the girls LOVED the rock climbing wall, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, the huge movie screen and large pool. We all enjoyed the FANTASTIC ENTERTAINMENT - from the big name (family friendly) comedian, The Drifters (!), broadway star Jordan Bennet (Les Mis) and juggler to the outstanding singers and dancers onboard the ship who did a great 70's disco show. There were aerial acrobats in the centrum for short shows during the evening as well. Also, Santa came on Dec. 25 and even had presents (!) for my girls.. a nice headset and a good sized RC totebag. Nice touch! All of our excursions were with independent vendors (highly recommend to save lots of money) so can't comment on RC excursions. I would take this cruise and go on this ship again IN A HEARTBEAT. Plus, it was cool to have a female captain, Liz Lauritzen, one of only 2 in the entire cruise industry. All the staff and our cabin steward, Carlos, were FABULOUS, hardworking. ONLY COMPLAINT - need more treadmills in the Fitness Room .. they only had a handful and each morning before breakfast all were taken. It was tough to get a free treadmill. But that's a minor complaint. Really enjoyed the food, service, layout and good vibe of this ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was our first time sailing with RCCL having sailed several times previously with HAL and Princess. We caught a great deal for Christmas week with Royal, so decided it was worth it to give it a try, especially when travelling as a ... Read More
This was our first time sailing with RCCL having sailed several times previously with HAL and Princess. We caught a great deal for Christmas week with Royal, so decided it was worth it to give it a try, especially when travelling as a family of 4. We really have no complaints, other than wishing we had booked a larger room. Large insides on this ship offer less space than on the other cruise lines of similar age ships...layout of the rooms could have been the real culprit though they were less footage too. Since we expected it might be tight, this wasn't a huge issue for us, especially with four port days awaiting us, but worth noting that it did feel different than same category on other ships. No issues with beds - we were all quite comfortable. Room attendant was great - room was always ready when we were and we rarely saw him. In fact, we enjoyed all the staff during our cruise...always efficient, helpful, friendly and fun. Only met one less than friendly staff person (just on the first day at the customer service desk)...definitely not a warm and friendly type but she was the exception, for sure. We had "my Time" dining and had booked reservations for each night , weeks in advance. This worked out great - never had to wait in line and always had great service. We enjoyed our wait staff each time. One night - mid week - service was slower and we waited quite a bit for our meal to begin, but we were in no hurray that night and enjoyed our time as a family chatting about the day over yummy bread rolls, so it was ok with us. We all enjoyed the food - always had a good selection to choose from so even the kids were happy with the menus. We ate breakfasts and lunches in the windjammer or Park café, and ended up at the WJ once for dinner - all was good. Lots of healthy choices available and I was able to try something new every day, which I liked, while hubby and kids could count on their "usual" favourites each day, which they liked. Enjoyed the available beverages...and coffee station by the pool each morning. We enjoyed the ports...stayed on ship most of the day for Roatan as we had visited this port before. Main pool area was nice, we never had to fight for a lounger, staff were removing towels from saved chairs after a certain amount of time, and despite higher volume of kids on this holiday cruise, there were no real issues observed or experienced. Booked cavetubing tour (not thru RCCL) for our day in Belize, which was great! We all enjoyed it, learned a lot, enjoyed our Belizean lunch, felt well taken care of and had a really fun day ($50 pp) . We booked chairs at a restaurant in Costa Maya for Christmas day (tropicante)...what a great day! Just wish the ship was leaving later that day instead of needing to be all aboard by 330pm. We followed the provided instructions, took a taxi ourselves to and from the restaurant and all was good. Coronas and Margaritas started by 10am and we each had great massages on the beach. A very relaxing and enjoyable day - including a free call home from the restaurant to Canada to wish family back home Feliz Navidad! Christmas celebrations on board ship were good...lots of holiday spirit and activities all around from passengers and crew...incl carolling on christmas eve, movies (Polar Express, Elf) by the pool and a visit to Santa on Christmas morning, on our way to the beach. There were Hannakuh celebrations going on as well but I do not have much info about that. We experienced no difficulties or delays with embarkation or disembarkation at Tampa port. No issues or differences to what we had experienced on other cruise lines/ports. Only notable event was at disembarkation....our plan had been to catch a taxi to the airport but there was a longer line up than we are used to...we paid the extra $15 total for the four of us to take a shuttle that was waiting right there and ready to go. what the heck - why not. All in all, we would cruise with RCCL again - no better or worse than Princess or HAL overall, just some personality differences really. We were provided the opportunity for a fantastic holiday and loved it! We are not interested in the newer mega ship experiences but would sail RCCL again, if the price is right - as family or as a couple. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was my first sailing with Royal Caribbean and compared to Carnival this ship lacked a few things but over all it was a good time. We had the my time dinning option which given the chance i will not do again. I like the consistency of ... Read More
This was my first sailing with Royal Caribbean and compared to Carnival this ship lacked a few things but over all it was a good time. We had the my time dinning option which given the chance i will not do again. I like the consistency of the same waiter every night they get to know you and your needs are met very quickly. Having a different server each night they do not have the personal time with you i would like i felt very rushed at times because they had so many other diners to attend to. We did not get to see any of the shows because we were always at dinner and they only had 1 a night i did not like that at all. As for on board activities i felt they were non existent as well. Especially on days at sea they did not have anything going on . I will say that the food was delicious and the on shore excursions we did were the highlight of the trip. The port of Tampa is by far one of the easiest ports to get in and out of and the porters were very helpful with getting our bags to and from the ship. Over all if i had never gone on any other cruise i would have thought this was fantastic but i had 5 other carnival cruises to compare with so i found it a tad disappointing. The ship size was good not to crowded but the room size and the lack of activities left me wanting more. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
In 2013, we sailed on RCCL with the Freedom of the Seas for New Year's Eve and had a wonderful experience. Therefore, we booked the Brilliance of the Seas for New Year's this year and invited additional family members. The result ... Read More
In 2013, we sailed on RCCL with the Freedom of the Seas for New Year's Eve and had a wonderful experience. Therefore, we booked the Brilliance of the Seas for New Year's this year and invited additional family members. The result was a disappointment and we have ranked this our worst cruise of 13. I really hate being so down, but this just didn't meet expectations although most crew were working very hard. First some of the great things - The ladies playing classical music in the Centrum were very good, the guitarist in the Schooner lounge was out of this world and Clark in the pub next to the casino was very funny and enjoyable. Also, cha cha lesson in Centrum was very well done. Also, the chef for the chef's table was extremely personable. That is not worth the $7K spent. That concludes what was right with this cruise and they saved the day. The ship was noisy and overcrowded compared to the other 12 or 13 cruises we have taken on several different lines previously, many during holiday periods. The interior of the ship just seemed shabby and not quite clean even though it was clean, just cheap. The furniture in the stateroom was chipped and the room very small. Bed okay, shower pours out into bathroom floor due to poor design. The food was mediocre even though we spent 4 of 5 nights at specialty restaurants. Chops is over-priced for steak quality. We all had intestinal problems after eating in the Italian. Yes, it was that restaurant for certain. A couple of really big problems - holding my luggage because security believes I might have alcohol is treating me like I am in high school. First, I am 54 so this is only a revenue policy and second, the offending item was Murad toner and if I drank it, I would go blind as it states on the label - denatured alcohol is the base. I really do not need to pay to be treated without respect and it is not acceptable. No message from security (as Princess did one time when my husband had a questionable item). I thought my luggage had been left in port. The staff acted extremely stressed everywhere as it was clear to us they had to meet their revenue targets (including signs posted where we could view them). This was a stressed staff focused on revenue targets cruise. Yuch.... If this is the direction of cruising which I have loved, count me out. There are so many things that were wrong - rude purser desk staff, lack of activities, cleanliness, food terrible, not abiding by the 2 for 1 wine by the glass for our RCCL status, slow internet, not making ports on schedule, arriving in Tampa at 3 am and being awakened by train whistles and lights from port, captain unavailable during New Year's Eve Party. All items are little, but it just kept adding up. I would not recommend this ship. A complete switch from previous cruises on Jewel and Freedom which were delightful. And, fuel costs are down so really quite paid enough. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My family and I have been traveling with Royal Caribbean for several times and this was our first time on the Vision. It is probably also our last time on the Vision. The trip started in Tampa with an extremely long wait with little ... Read More
My family and I have been traveling with Royal Caribbean for several times and this was our first time on the Vision. It is probably also our last time on the Vision. The trip started in Tampa with an extremely long wait with little coordination of information on the part of those directing the incoming cruisers. We were told by the Sheriff personal while getting our luggage out of the cab to go to one door. At that door there was a line of over 50 feet of passengers before you even entered the building itself! After standing in line for quiet some time (at least 25-30 minutes) waiting to enter the building, out comes a man who tells all of us that we will now have to go to another entry that has a line probably over 100 feet long of people. Instead of telling those who were just arriving to go to the new line, he wanted everyone who had been standing in the line to now go to the line that was twice as long. It didn't happen. People let him know that they had been standing there and were not going to go to the back of another line to start all over again. Once inside the entry doors, we then waited at least 30-45 minutes before we were even allowed to go up the escalators to the check in area. Here we found that ALL the Diamond, Platinum, Gold etc. were all routed together into one line. There was no separate designation for those folks who have cruised enough to be treated with a little more customer service than those that were not in any of the above categories. This line took an additional 30-45 minutes. So far, we have been standing in lines well over an hour and have not even boarded the ship! Finally, we boarded the ship. We know that usually the cabins are not ready and that guest go to the dining areas when they first board a ship. The welcome staff as we stepped into the lobby are of the ship told us that the cabins were ready and we could take our carry ones to the rooms. We tried to do so and were met by a ship staff person at the elevator and told that the rooms were not ready. OK, we hadn't expected to go to our cabins anyway, so then we went to the dining area instead. That was the first of the mis-informaion. The Windjammer was about half full upon our arrival and I went to get a burger. There was a large empty bowl with a sign over it that said, sautéed mushrooms. I waited for a while for them to replenish the dish and when a member of the cooking staff came out, I asked if they were going to bring out more of the mushrooms. I was told that "we are all out of the mushrooms" and he removed the sign from over the empty dish. I thought this was very strange that the first serving of a new cruise and you are already out of an item on the buffet! The shortage of items not being replenished and the sight of empty bowls on the buffet in the Windjammer became a commonplace site for the next 7 days! Our family had two rooms. One room was the last before the elevators in one hallway and the other was the last of the rooms in the hall on the opposite side of the elevators. We had been told that the rooms would be opposite each other. Our family consisted of a man and wife in their 40's, a 5 year old boy and a 60 year old grandmother. With this arrangement of rooms being in two entirely different locations from each other, it did present difficulties/obstacles for watching over the little guy down if he wanted to go to one room or another. We could most definitely let him go from one room to another without an adult with him as he would have had to travel through the elevator area alone and out of our line of sight. I shared my room with the 5 year old and we had a very different experience than that of my daughter and her husband. Our Attendant came to meet us the first evening and at that time I asked him to bring some ice. He asked if I wanted it placed in the room daily and I said yes. The ice bucket was filled each day and our room was cleaned almost as soon as we left it. We were well supplied daily with shampoos and other such items one should expect to find in a room. We also had two bathrobes and our glasses were replenished as needed. Our Attendant provided exactly the service we had come to expect from Royal Caribbean. He unobtrusively provided for our cruise experience and made our trip enjoyable. We filled out a WOW card for him because of his good service as a Royal Caribbean Attendant. Unfortunately, my daughter and son in law did not have the same cabin service. They were not provided with robes, shampoo, ice and their room was not cleaned as well or fas promptly as ours. They are both Diamond travelers and have come to expect a certain standard from having traveled Royal Caribbean that was not forthcoming on this cruise. DINING AREAS WINDJAMMER Most days we ate in the Windjammer for breakfast. Since the 5 year old was with me for breakfast, I would go to the buffet for his food. Starting with our first full day on board, our 5 year old was lucky enough to be noticed by one of the servers, Olga Zmuravlyova who made a point of watching over him while I retrieved his cereal and milk. He is a very well behaved child who was just as happy to sit with the IPAD waiting for me, but it made me feel a lot safer knowing that she was keeping watch over him from the corner of her eye. She was in the Windjammer for the day 2-4 of the cruise and we made a point of sitting in her area each of those days. She was very friendly and a true ambassador for Royal Caribbean. We missed her on day 5 and later found out that her grandfather had died and she had needed to take a break for a day to collect herself. We ran into her her on day 6 in the Park Cafe and learned this information. We filled out a WOW card for her because she deserved it! The food in the Windjammer was adequate. It was not outstanding and the better items were frequently waiting to be replenished. Prime example of this was the day they had a Taco bar set up. The taco shells were there, the meat fillings were there, but there was Nothing in the bowls that should have held sufficient quantities of Guacamole, sour cream, chopped lettuce or tomatoes. Tacos without the condiments to put them together is a waste! People waited and waited for these items to arrive. The person who appeared to be the head chef was running around like a chicken with his head cut off and getting nothing out of his staff when it came to their doing their job. There was also very little gracious interaction between the cooking/serving staff and the passengers. The people behind the buffet tables who were restocking barely spoke to the passengers and acted like it was an imposition if you asked for anything not out on the buffet at that time. EXAMPLE: The little man had Fruitloops cereal most mornings, but one day there was none on the buffet area, I asked if they had any and the staff person opened the cabinet under the cereal area, took out a box, handed it to me and never said a word. I thanked him, but thought to myself, what if I had wanted more than one box? Shouldn't he have at least asked? Overall, the Windjammer was a place to go because it was open and you didn't have to wait for the food to be brought to you. Adequate at best. AQUARIUS DINING ROOM We had the early dinner (5:30) and were seated at table 218. Our waitstaff were good but slow. We were consistently one of the last tables to leave the dinning room each night. We had a table of 10 and shared it with a lovely family of 6. The family consisted of a mother and father, their two daughters and the daughters boyfriends. This was the first cruise for the two boyfriends and the second cruise for the rest of the family. It was their first on Royal Caribbean with Carnival having been their only previous cruise experience. Our waitstaff were pleasant, but did not make us feel that our cruise enjoyment was a priority for them. They did all those things that a waitstaff should do, but none of us ever made a real connection with either of them. I thought it was just my family till the last night at dinner and the other family mentioned it too. Our primary waiter made a point over and over of telling us about the survey we would be receiving after the cruise asking about our trip and how important it was to them that we "tell how good our service was." Unfortunately, the service was so middle of the road that I can't even tell you either of their names. I do remember that the server who brought the breadbasket and the drinks was named Carlos. For us not to remember the names of our servers after 7 days with them should let you know how memorable their interaction was with us. The food - was ok, nothing outstanding that I can say was memorable. Standard fare for a cruise ship dining room. In fact, I am a big fan of Escargot and the Escargot served was ok. I wasn't impressed the first night and tried to give it the benefit of a doubt and have it again the second night. Didn't go any further, because it didn't get any better. PARK CAFE Why in the world would you put the Park Cafe, which was the go to eating place when the Windjammer was closed in a location that required anyone eating there to have to walk through the adults only Solarium pool area? Families with small children were walking in and out of the area all the time that the Park Cafe was open. Adults who had gone to this area for peace and quite were inundated with teenagers who had their activity area right outside the Solarium and with small children coming into have a snack. Really? Who did this design? The food at the Park Cafe was very good. The Roast Beef sandwiches and the soups were very nice. The staff was efficient and there were no empty bowls waiting to be restocked. ROOM SERVICE I did get room service one night. It was the best steak sandwich I had! When I called, they told me that there would be about an hour wait, I said I had a 5 year old with me and didn't think it would work for me. They said they would take care of it and they had our food to us within 20 minutes! Fabulous service! The food was hot, the salad was cold and I was very happy with this Royal Caribbean service! I was so impressed with my sandwich, that I mentioned it at dinner the next night and both of the young couples at our table ordered it from room service during their stay and also raved about it! KUDOS! SHOWS & ENTERTAINMENT There wasn't a really big show. We have become used to bigger ships having Cabaret, Hairspray, etc. for shows...nothing like that on this ship. The shows were what I would class as B or C shows. The majority of the entertainment were standard ship board things....bingo (I don't play it), movies, casino (small, little variety and extremely smokey smelling - even thought I am usually at the blackjack tables every night, I only went down one night and couldn't stay.... it was so strongly smelling of smoke), piano bars, and the regular passenger involvement games. The Cruise Director appeared to have been around a long time, his sidekick Marvelous Marv was the primary visual guy. He lead a salsa dance class and did a good job...but never introduced his female partner nor had her interact other than with him. I am still not sure if she was a staff member or some one he had picked up the night before at the club. The entertainment staff did their jobs, but nothing to excite me or to expect to see them moving up into the bigger ship entertainment personnel. SHOPPING AND SOCIAL AREAS The shopping areas and the social areas (piano bars, sport bars, theaters, show venues etc. were all in odd places. The shopping areas on the bigger ships are prominently positioned and you know exactly were they are from the first few moments on board the ship. I stumbled on the shopping area after the third day. The theaters and other entertainment areas are oddly placed and none of them were big enough to really accommodate a large size gathering. EXAMPLE The salsa class was in an area so small that people were shoulder to shoulder. The PORTS OF CALL If you have ever taken a cruise, you have probably been to Cozumel. It is the same and has exactly the same things and vendor interaction as the last time you were there. Belize is another Cozumel. Just different name on the T-shirts. The one really cool thing in Belize was the dolphins right at the cruise site that you can interact with. This was a $20 excursion and anyone can watch it as it is right there in the port area. I really thought this was a good experience for the money. You might also want to wear your bathing suit on shore as there is a really nice swimming area in the middle of the shopping area that you and children will enjoy. You can even swim up to the bar that is attached to the pool and have a drink while being in the pool area. They also have loungers and massage tables in this area. Several folks had booked the trips to the ruins and the beach, but the weather was misting rain and most did not speak favorable of their experience. Our ship was turned away from the Grand Cayman port due to high seas. There were also 5 other ships turned away due to the waves being so high that the port closed for the day. The Captian made a point to communicate with the passengers that it was the port that had turned the ships away. She (YES, one of only 5 female Captains piloting a passenger cruise ship) said that she would steer us away from the waves until noon and then we would have to go back to the course for the trip. When the turn was made, you noticed the difference in the waves! DISEMBARKING We were #3 for departure and were scheduled to disembark at 8:30 AM. It was after 10:00 when our number was called and we were finally starting to disembark. We sat in the dining area inn deck 5 waiting for over an hour and a half while we overlooked the people being served breakfast in the dining area of deck 4. We did not have any waitstaff in our area and therefore no breakfast was served as we waited. I would have thought that if you are going to have people wait in a dining room and you are running well over an hour late in departure time, you would make an effort to have waitstaff feed them! OVERALL The weather could have been better (we had two good warm sunny days and five not very sunny or warm days) the waves kept the ship rocking and there were a few people who did get ill. The Captain announced that some people were having flu like symptoms and they post lots of info on keeping clean so as not to get ill. The food, entertainment and other portions of the cruise were adequate but certainly not up to the standards that anyone who has cruised on the bigger ships of Royal Caribbean has come to expect. Vision of the Sea was probably a big deal 20 years ago but if you have sailed on the the bigger and newer ships you would not be impressed.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
DW and I cruised on a wonderful choice Brilliance over the Thanksgiving holiday. We made a wonderful choice. We left ORD 10 minutes early and thanks to AA and Mother Nature we arrived in Tampa 20 minutes early...a great way to start a ... Read More
DW and I cruised on a wonderful choice Brilliance over the Thanksgiving holiday. We made a wonderful choice. We left ORD 10 minutes early and thanks to AA and Mother Nature we arrived in Tampa 20 minutes early...a great way to start a vacation! We did a great deal of research on a pre-cruise hotel and we selected the Epicurean hotel. It is a great boutique hotel and we were very satisfied with our selection. The rooms are spacious and nicely furnished with great bedroom and bathroom amenities. The neighborhood is safe and includes shopping, restaurants and nightlife. We walked to the Tampa Bay shore which was only 5 blocks away. We also walked to several upscale restaurants for drinks and dinner the night before our cruise. The hotel has a great wine shop on the first level. However, we found a small food store 3 blocks away from the hotel that had a more reasonably priced selection of wines. We had a very enjoyable mid-afternoon lunch at Carmines in Ybor City. We walked the neighborhood after lunch and shopped in between a few stops for beers. We wanted to have dinner at the famous and iconic Berns Steakhouse (which is across the street from the hotel and shares ownership) but we learned that reservations fill up 3 months in advance for Friday and Saturday nights. The hotel concierge recommended the Copper Fish. This recommendation turned into an exceptional evening. The Copper Fish is a 2.5 block walk from the hotel. The food, the service and the specialty cocktails were all outstanding, and I rarely use that word describing restaurants. Most of the seafood selections are "day boat" fresh caught and you can tell. We highly recommend the Copper Fish. We arranged a taxi through the hotel front desk. We departed the Epicurean Hotel at 10:45 am. The cab ride was 15 minutes. We entered the cruise terminal at 11 am and we were through security in 5 minutes. We were in the check-in serpentine for 10 minutes and checked in in under 10 minutes. We were on Brilliance by 11:30 am. RCCL knows how to process crowds and we applaud their efficiency and customer service (unlike some other cruiselines we have been on). We had lunch in the Windjammer and toured the Brilliance.Our D1 balcony room was ready by 1:30 and we went to the room to unload our carry-on bags. The room was a typical D1 with plenty of drawer, closet,shelf, and counter space. The bathroom is typically small with virtually no vanity counter space. This was problematic throughout the cruise. The bathroom also had the dreaded too-short shower curtain which resulted in flooded floors constantly when the shower was used. The balcony was standard size and adequate for our needs. Although we had cruised out of Tampa before we had never been on deck for sailaway under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. This time, with MTD, we sailed under this magnificent structure while on deck 13. It was well worth delaying dining until 7:30 to see the bridge closeup. Food on Brilliance ranged from satisfactory to very good. On Brilliance, RCCL has employed the "food station" concept that we are used to on Celebrity ships. We prefer this approach since it eliminates the long buffet lines and results in better food quality and food options. The food in the Windjammer was tasty and varied. I do not believe anyone can go hungry in the Windjammer. There is indeed something for everyone. We opted for MTD. The first night MTD was chaotic because newbies did not understand the reservation protocols and hundreds of people showed up at 7 pm without reservations expecting to be seated at 7 pm. Brilliance dining room staff did their best to accommodate everyone but not everybody could be satisfied. Things were much better on successive nights. MTD works only if there are tables available at your desired dining time. Food in MDR was generally very good. We especially enjoyed the duck prime rib, lobster, and filet entrees. The escargot served on Brilliance is not good, IMHO. The recipe includes a butter sauce(not real butter) and some type of foamed topping that is tasteless and not consistent with traditional escargot en croute. I wish RCCL would favor a more traditional escargot recipe. I only ate one serving during our 5 night cruise and I am an escargot junkie. I hate to disclose this (because it should be kept a secret) but food in the Solarium Cafe was excellent. As noted in other reviews the roast beef sandwiches are wonderful. The salads are great. DW ate smoked salmon every morning. The specialty deserts were wonderful every day. Incidentally. Brilliance staff enforced the no children rule in the Solarium with regularity. DW and I both had the Premium beverage package. I know I received value for my money but I doubt DW got her money's worth. Beverage service ran the gamut from very good to poor depending on the venue and the time of day. As you would expect, peak times at popular bars had service issues. Clearly this is a function of staffing. It appears to me that RCCL has reduced the number of servers and bartenders. That is just my observation. Perhaps it is an intentional attempt to reduce alcohol consumption...who knows? We enjoyed the musicians in the Centrum and Schooner bars. The repertoires ranged from classical music to solo guitar favorites. These locales were great for relaxing in the afternoon or before and after dinner. We only attended two shows. The comedian/ventriloquist was mediocre. The Temptations cover band was excellent and had the house rocking during their performance. Key West- we have been to KW at least 6 times. We did a self-guided bar tour making our traditional stops at Sloppy Joes, Capt. Tonys, and Irish Kevins. As usual Irish Kevins was a riot with lots of raucous entertainment enjoyed by good natured cruisers and vacationers. We love Irish Kevins. Cozumel- similarly, we have been to Cozumel several times. We did not want to do the dreaded shopping walk so we kept a low profile this visit. I am not a fan of excursions in Cozumel so that was not an option for usWe found Ernestos' Cafe just off the ship. Beers were $2.50us. WIFI was free. The view was great and we saw several cruiseship crew members eat there. We will remember Ernestos for future stops in Cozumel. We made the mistake of stopping at Marguritaville for a beer. Two beers and a bottle of water were $16us. And Coronas are not an import in Mexico! Ripoffville. Caveat Emptor. Our mistake. In closing I want to describe our disembarkation. Originally I wanted to book an 11:35 flight TPA-ORD but I was concerned about making the flight on time. I booked a 2:20 pm connecting flight TPA-MIA-ORD. At 8:15 am DW and I decided to reschedule to the 11:35 flight. We were off the ship in 15 minutes and in a cab by 8:45. Had we made an earlier decision we could have been off the ship by 8 am. I rebooked the flight from the cab. We were checked in and were eating breakfast in the airport by 9:30 am. This was on Thanksgiving Day which may not be representative of the norm but it certainly worked for us. In closing I want to state we loved Brilliance. All staff members we encountered were friendly and accommodating. The ship is beautiful and although there are not a great deal of organized activities it was perfect for our relaxed chill cruise. We loved the ease of getting in and out of Tampa. We will keep Brilliance and Tampa on our radar for future cruises.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
In February 2014, my husband and I booked our first cruise with Royal Caribbean. We have cruised previously with Carnival, Disney, and Holland America Lines. We were so excited to enjoy this new cruise line that before we knew it, we had ... Read More
In February 2014, my husband and I booked our first cruise with Royal Caribbean. We have cruised previously with Carnival, Disney, and Holland America Lines. We were so excited to enjoy this new cruise line that before we knew it, we had 21 other family members coming to celebrate Thanksgiving with us! For most, it was their first time on RCI, for others, they raved about the excellent time they had on other RCI ships. This cruise was full of memories, unfortunately not all were good. Sadly, the Vision of the Seas quality and service did not performed well or meet our expectations because of multiple issues that began even prior to sailing. We did not actually board the ship until 2:50pm, a full 2.5 hours AFTER arriving at the Port of Tampa, at our "scheduled" time, since we were on Deck 4. We have sailed out of Tampa before & have not had this problem. We were told multiple reasons for the delay, but were not offered any apology and greeted at every point by rude, condescending staff & security. There is nowhere to sit while waiting during this time, as the seating area is not until after you receive your Sea Pass. No restrooms, one vending machine, 2.5 hours. Families were separated, as they were closing lines off and only allowing people to enter once one section of the terminal was cleared. Also, we were told multiple times by RCI representatives when making our reservation and calling in to clarify, that NO outside food or beverages were allowed to be brought onboard, save 2 bottles of wine/champagne per cabin, with adults over the age of 21. There were families bringing cases of water, soda, and food and nothing was said to them. There is no enforcement of this policy, however my husband & father-in-law had their pocket knives confiscated because they could be used as a weapon. When asked to see this policy, the security guard rudely said that she "KNOWS Royal's policies and pocket knives are NOT allowed,". Strangely, my brother-in-law and uncle did not have their knives confiscated, as they were in a different line. Some customer service retraining would be helpful for this team, as they did not appear to know what they were doing. We had to ask the agent if he needed to take our picture for our Sea Pass! So, after all that, we get on the ship with enough time to drop our bags and go get something to drink, as we purchased the soda card...JUST KIDDING! Everything was closed for muster drill! We had to go to muster drill without part of our family, as they were still getting on the boat. Yes, people were still boarding the boat while muster drill was happening. After muster drill, the only place that was open for food was the Park Cafe, that had a line a mile long, as there was a large majority of people who didn't have the opportunity to eat since breakfast due to the exceptionally long embarkation time. We ended up eating at the Windjammer Cafe that night, as our luggage did not arrive until nearly 7:30pm. Only one side of the Windjammer Cafe was open and our family found that it is a terrible setup on the buffet, as the 2 sides are different, so you end up having to go through the line twice, or face being "that rude person" that cuts in to get some bread, butter, etc. It was not until the next night that we began having issues with the Main Dining room. During our first venture out to the Main Dining room, we made a reservation for all of us, 23 total, for 8:30pm. No issues with this, as we were a large group, and had 4 tables of six. Service was terrible from the beginning. Our waiter acted like he had better things to do and our wine sat unopened on our table until our appetizers were finished. We asked for a Diet Coke and we received an eye roll and a big sigh. It was already bad enough we spent most of the day hunting for a bar that would actually acknowledge our presence to fill our glass since we had the soda card. Once, I stood for 10 minutes at the pool bar without even a look my way. So, when we received the eye roll, we really had just about had enough and this was only our first full day onboard. Dishes were thrown down on the table, all stuffed together, incorrect dishes for some people and when we let them know it was wrong, "Oh, well, they are out of that other dish you ordered,". We were also told that the bread for the table is thrown away after they come around and you choose your piece of bread, as my nephew asked for bread with his entree and was denied. They asked us if we had reservations for any of the specialty restaurants, which we didn't, and they offered us 30% off. We declined. We attempted to go to MDR the next night, with only 2 people and were told that 8:30pm was the earliest we would be seated. Wait...this is My Time Dining, right? So, you're telling me basically that I have second seating, great. I prepaid my gratuities to eat AGAIN at the buffet. We attempted MDR once more this cruise, with 6 people, and again were told 8:30pm was the earliest we could eat. I actually stood in the "No Reservation" line upstairs on Deck 5 and was completely ignored for 20 minutes while my family stood in the "Reservations" line. No eye contact was made, no information was given as to when I would even be addressed. Completely and utterly rude. When I finally interrupted the little pow-wow at the desk & asked when I might be seated, I was greeted with another eye-roll and a finger pointing to the line, "After all those other people with reservations are seated, that's when we will seat you,". Wow. Basically, RCI, are you NOT wanting anyone to eat in the MDR? We never attempted to eat in the MDR for the remainder of the cruise, even though we had plans originally for Thanksgiving dinner as a family there. We have cruised other lines with My Time Dining and there is only a certain number of guests that can choose My Time Dining before that option is closed, then one must choose first or second seating and be on a waiting list for My Time Dining. This may be something that RCI could look into, as My Time Dining was still being offered until the second full day of the cruise. Since we're on the topic of food, let's discuss the availability of food & beverages. After 9:00pm, only lemonade/tea/coffee available is in the Park Cafe. After 2:00am, nothing, besides room service. For the soda card, your only options are basically the casino, or try & hunt down which bar is open, which is a crapshoot depending on the night. We had to again go to the casino to get our drinks while watching Monday Night Football on the Lido deck, as the pool bar was closed. There are zero beverage stations on the Lido deck by the pool and the Windjammer Cafe was closed off most of the time for refills on beverages, so you had to trek to the back of the ship to the Park Cafe, again. Food overall was sub-par, with the bread & baked potatoes being the best on the buffet. We were really expecting something special for Thanksgiving...nope, everything was the same, save for carved turkey that was undercooked and pumpkin pie. Seriously disappointing. During this time, service overall on the ship continued to be lackluster, as well as the activities on the ship. Seriously, every night we were told there we "so many activities! The shops, casino & photo gallery are open!,". Those are NOT activities. Nor is trivia once a day or a movie on deck in the middle of dinner time. In a word, this ship was boring. It's a good thing our family brought decks of cards because until the shows started at night, there truly was nothing to do, and afterwards, forget it. The ship was dead. The poor kids had a Wii tournament on the TV at the Schooner Bar. Really?!?! 20 kids huddled around the TV there trying to play Wii tennis. Very sad. Also, limited access to places to read, play cards, relax. Most venues were closed if not being used or they were being used for storage for art or other supplies. Most times we were wandering around looking for something to do or a place to play cards to no avail. The rudest service award goes to a casino bartender, as she told my husband she was "too busy to get him another soda & try another bar,". Guess what other bars were open? NONE! We weren't playing in the casino, just trying to get a soda, which apparently means you may/may not be served. I do NOT feel that the soda package is a good deal on this ship, especially since you can't take a can of soda with you "to go", unless you want to be charged for it. If there were more venues I could get a soda from, I wouldn't feel like I had to take a can "to go"! The shows onboard were ok, nothing jaw-dropping or fantastic. The aerial show in the Centrum that everyone was excited for was not worth the hype, as it looked very unpolished, with timing completely off and equipment looking ill-fitting on one of their performers, as his bungee went so much lower than the other two...very distracting. Also, during this time, there was an exceptionally rude photographer that continued to take photos during the aerial show and would rudely let people know they were in his "workspace" as they were walking through to get a spot or see the aerial show. Add another rude RCI employee to the ever growing list. At this point in the cruise, it became a running joke when we all met for meals as to what ridiculous thing happened today on the ship. We also had an issue with the tender information given in Belize. We have been on many ships that have tendered into ports. Never have we been told that we could not even receive a tender ticket an hour and a half after we anchor. We went to Guest Services to discuss this, as we had an excursion planned and needed to get off the ship as soon as possible, as our excursion left at 9:00am. Gabriela at Guest Services was exceptionally helpful in this department and we were allowed to depart with the shore excursion groups. We were very thankful for this! For future, maybe something should be posted on the itinerary when booking of the proposed tender times, as not everyone books shore excursions with the ship. One of our family members actually cancelled their cave tubing excursion & rebooked with the ship due to the tender issue. They lost their deposit since they booked with their prior knowledge of tenders to Belize was not what was expected on the Vision. We had also asked for a refund of our pre-paid gratuities due to the lackluster service and were told it was be credited to our card on file. We have NEVER doen this before. My sister-in-law also never received the $25 onboard credit she was missing (received $150, was supposed to receive $175), that we did have documentation of, as there was no follow up from Guest Services after they "contacted the corporate offices in Miami,". There was also a fantastic sewage smell in our hallway all week, at all times of the day. This was on all the port side decks, as we had family members on multiple decks. Gross. Nothing like getting a big whiff of poop stink first thing in the morning. My husband also got a nice bidet treatment one morning when the toilet next door flushed & the toilet water in our toilet splashed up on him. Ew. The last few nights, since the seas were rough, the hallways also smelled like vomit. There was a lack of sea sickness bags throughout the ship & guests were vomiting into purses, trash cans, and stairwell corners. Overall maintenance of the ship was lacking, and on deck, I was reprimanded for being on the jogging track at 5:30am, since they were power washing everyday at that time. The fitness center isn't open that early & we get to port at 7:00am, when exactly can I get my run in, then? Why are you power washing at 5:30am and why have the dirty dishes & cups not been picked up before now, as they are being blown all over the upper decks. My niece and I also had a hard time finding a deck chair that wasn't missing straps, mangled, or broken in some way. These chairs are in dire need of replacement, as they look like they are the originals that came with the ship. We did have one shining jewel among all this, our room steward, Donald. He made our cruise tolerable with his pleasant demeanor & attentiveness. We LOVED having him & he always made sure we had everything we needed, bringing us extra ice to chill our bottle of wine and extra towels since our niece & nephew would get ready in our room at times. Loved, loved, loved him! Disembarkation was just as awful as embarkation, completely disorganized & zero food available after a certain time, even though we disembarked a full 2 hours after we were supposed to. We waited in the Some Enchanted Evening lounge and had the hardest time understanding the crew member and what was going on, who was supposed to stay vs. who was allowed to go. Please make announcements throughout the ship instead of just in certain venues. Everyone's getting off the ship & some would rather wait in a different area with others in thier family that is not so congested. We are beyond disappointed with this cruise, as well as RCI because of the lack of quality and service overall. It is a terrible feeling to spent 9 months waiting for a vacation to be hit all week with obstacles that no one really seemed to want to help us with or care about. We have said that we may try RCI in the future, however in the distant future, as we don't want to repeat this experience anytime soon.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
This was my first cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line. I have previously sailed on Royal Caribbean, Holland America and Cunard. I booked this cruise with a friend. We wanted a relaxed and informal atmosphere for our cruise, but had low ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line. I have previously sailed on Royal Caribbean, Holland America and Cunard. I booked this cruise with a friend. We wanted a relaxed and informal atmosphere for our cruise, but had low expectations based upon feedback from my travel agent who indicated other clients did not enjoy their experience on this cruise line. I am an experienced and flexible traveler and as the port (Tampa) was only a 2 hour drive, we signed on. This was a holiday cruise and there were many multi-generational families on board which I expected having been on a Christmas cruise previously with Holland America. The cruise was sold out. There is a convenient parking garage across from the NCL terminal where we left my car for the week. Embarkation was a breeze - the fastest ever for any cruise I've been on. Our mid-ship balcony cabin was adequate. It had plenty of storage for 2 people and the beds were comfortable. We dined at Le Bistro and El Moderno specialty restaurants. I enjoyed both restaurants, but Moderno which featured Brazilian cuisine was exceptional. The food in the main dining rooms (Venetian and Aqua) were good as was the service. We had to wait to be seated in The Venetian for Christmas Dinner and were given complimentary glasses of champagne while we waited which was a very nice touch. I'm not much for buffets, so only ate in the Garden Café twice for a late afternoon lunch. The entertainment on board was an A+. I really enjoyed Second City and the comedian (Tim K.). Lots to do in the evening - dancing, audience participation shows (loved Dancing with the Dawn Stars and The Quest), music in several venues, parties and more. No reason to be bored and head to your stateroom early unless you wanted to do so. The cruise staff were friendly and accommodating, wanting to make sure everyone had a good time and good service. They couldn't have been nicer. Getting off and back on the ship at each port (Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; Costa Maya, Mexico, and Cozumel, Mexico) was easy. Security staff were efficient. I liked that disembarkation allowed passengers to select their time to leave the ship. I have not experienced this before and it was a big plus. Overall, I had very good experience on this ship and would sail NCL again. If you're looking for a fun, relaxed time, don't want to dress in tux and gowns in the evening, this is the ship and cruise line for you. I'd definitely cruise again with NCL in the Caribbean. What NCL does, they do very well. THIS WAS A FUN CRUISE!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This was our first Christmas cruise ever. We enjoyed ourselves and may do this again. The Ryndam is one of the smaller ships in the HAL fleet and we find her size to be just right. It was easy to see the same people again and again, not ... Read More
This was our first Christmas cruise ever. We enjoyed ourselves and may do this again. The Ryndam is one of the smaller ships in the HAL fleet and we find her size to be just right. It was easy to see the same people again and again, not like on a big ship. The ship was decorated for Christmas and everyone was in a festive mood. Mama Lou was on our sailing and will be on the sailing for New Year’s as well. She is a very interesting lady and extremely sharp. She is 90 years old now and has been cruising HAL for 18.5 years. The crew love her and dote on her. We had a small Cruise Critic Meet and Greet. 14 people attended. Seattle had scheduled us for The Mix. The area was not ideal but it served our purpose. The only problem was Seattle neglected to let the ship know about our meeting so no crew came by and no coffee and cookies were served. The Beverage Manager called to apologize when I made the Front Desk aware of the oversight and was ready to schedule another meeting for us. I declined but thanked him for the offer. I really just wanted them to let Seattle know that they had messed up. Our meeting went well without the cookies but a visit from a Staff member would have been nice. Cabin 628 – I had bought an HH guarantee, fully obstructed outside and we were placed in an unobstructed outside. That was nice. The cabin was in good shape. Everything worked. The toilet was a little slow occasionally but it always flushed. I set the air conditioner when we entered and never touched it again. It remained at a constant comfortable temperature until the last two days. Then the cabin would warm up until the air kicked in. Others had issues with their air, some never getting it to work. They were provided with fans. I cannot quote room numbers, I wish I could, but these comments were all heard in passing or while waiting at the front desk for other information. One member of the Cruise Critic group did have to get moved from their cabin. On returning from Key West, the toilet in their cabin was spewing water, flooding right out the door. Maintenance had a hard time shutting off the water. On two occasions, the water in our cabin ran a tan colour before it became clear. Not sure what that was but I noted it on my survey. Several areas of the ship were quite cold. The Showroom at Sea was always like an icebox. The library and Explorations café were also quite cold. The balance is certainly off in how the air conditioning works. I was told by one of the front office staff that the Ryndam is going into dry dock in March of 2014 but he couldn’t tell me what was being done – only soft goods or more extensive repairs. The furnishings in our cabin looked fine as did much of the public space. There are chairs that have seen better days but generally everything looked pretty good. Food – We ate in the Lido most nights and only made the dining room on the formal nights. There was prime rib on the first formal night and 3 people at our table ordered it. Not one was able to finish it since it was very sinewy. The second formal night had surf and turf. The lobster was a good size but the turf was small, but it was very tender. The first 48 hours in the lido under code orange went much better than I expected with no long lines and the code was lifted after 48 hours. We seem to have a healthy ship. Because food is so subjective, no further comments are necessary. We enjoyed our food and had lots of choices. There were many multi generational family groups on board. We were told that there were 150 children. For the most part, they were well behaved. I didn’t run into any elevator issues or running children or really loud children either. The Ryndam had three shows most nights – 6:30. 8:00 and 10:00. This worked well since the Showroom is not very large. Listen to the Music – cast introduction (Only one show) - enjoyed Rock Legends – Ryndam cast – did not see Rich Purpura – comedian, mind reader – did not enjoy Classique – Ryndam cast - enjoyed Dave Hempstad – Comedian - enjoyed Droom – Ryandam Cast - enjoyed Dancing with the Stars finale (only one show) – did not see Happy hours were in the Ocean bar from 4 to 5 pm and the 9 to 10pm or 10 to 11pm in the Crow’s Nest. This varied from one day to the next. It is buy one get one for $1 more. Lounges Explorer’s Lounge – Adagio – Piano and violin - enjoyed Ocean Bar – The Neptunes Mix – Solo Guitarist – Terry - enjoyed Piano Bar – Jamm The Halcats – on deck and the Crow’s Nest – actually quite good Cruise Director – Rick We had booked no excursions, preferring to get off at each port and wander. However, if you do this cruise, do yourself a favour and book an excursion in Santo Tomas, Guatemala. There is a port building with some souvenir shopping and some entertainment and food but there isn’t much else. We booked a trolley excursion at the last minute. It was one hour and took us to Porto Bario where we saw some of the city and how the local people live. We had a very good guide, a local teacher, who does these tours while the winter vacation is on. School is out from November to the middle of January. Santo Tomas gave us the best send off of all the ports. The locals congregated on the pier, danced for us, played music and as we pulled away from the dock honked the horns of the cars and busses parked at the pier. They love the cruise ships and are really a very friendly people. Sadly the pillow chocolates are just little golden squares of milk chocolate, not as good as before but as RuthC would say, still chocolate!! We received a blue HAL bag on our second night and I won a bottle of champagne at the Future Cruise presentation. The Champagne this cruise has been better than on the last couple of cruises. They seem to have changed their brand. Being Canadian we were invited to a Commonwealth Party in the Crow’s Nest. We were provided with appetizers and buy one get one for $1 drinks. This is the first time we have seen a Commonwealth Party although others told us they have been to them before. Different happenings on different ships. There were two Mariner Brunches. Ours was early in the week on the first sea day (two star) and people we met who were 4 star had theirs on the last sea day. I can only imagine we have lots of Mariners aboard. For the Non US citizens reading this, I should tell you we had a strange disembarkation routine. First, we were not eligible to do self disembarkation. The walk off option was limited to US citizens only. Then on Saturday, after we had already completed our requests for a disembarkation time, we were left a letter that we would have to appear in the Wajang Theater at 6:45 am to meet with Immigration officials. The ship could not be cleared until all non US citizens had been interviewed. This has never happened at Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Boston. There, we were allowed to walk off and both Customs and Immigration were done in the terminal. I wish we had known about the early timing before we requested a disembarkation time since I would then have picked an earlier time. So, non citizens, be prepared for this type of disembarkation in Tampa.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
I'm writing this to warn any and everybody of what a sad trip I just had on the Norwegian Dawn. And this was supposed to be a very special Christmas Cruise. It was anything but - except the outrageous price. This occurred during the ... Read More
I'm writing this to warn any and everybody of what a sad trip I just had on the Norwegian Dawn. And this was supposed to be a very special Christmas Cruise. It was anything but - except the outrageous price. This occurred during the week of Christmas 2013. I've cruised several times before on Carnival and Royal Caribbean and never had such a forgettable trip. First, it took forever to check-in. My family and I arrived at about 12:45pm and there was a huge line. It took some two hours before we got into our cabins. I don't know what they use to disinfect the elevators but they all had a persistent nauseating odor - simply awful, for seven days. We thought we paid to be on a Higher deck (we were actually on deck 4) and we ended up on the lowest floor for passengers. We heard all sorts of knocking and pinging every day and night. We don't know what but it was probably normal 'crew' type activity. The free-style dining wasn't working - each night a huge queue of people (us too) with no pre-assigned dining time or table waiting for up to an hour for dinner. That is unless you opted for the buffet - again huge queues and waits. The food was good though lacked imagination and variety. Again this was CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!! And we paid a fortune for this cruise. The staff was largely a foreign crew that had only mediocre english skills - many simple questions were met with a curious "stare" - like "what did he say?" There was only one pool for adults and it was always packed - The kids had two private pools! The entertainment was abyssmal for a holiday cruise. There was a very un-entertaining comedian that seemed to dominate cruise evenings. He was featured on four different evenings as a headliner and he was awful. The Norwegian dancers were good - not great but weren't featured enough. The best entertainment was a duo of Russian Ballet dancers who were excellent. Other than them the singers weren't good and the comedians weren't funny. Correction - Second City was funny with their rehearsed skits but not the improvisation. The cruise director was forgettable with his constant "Now here's the plan of attack" after yet another joke of a performance. There was one silver ling - our Cabin stewardess, Kim, was courteous and polite and kept or rooms tidy. Overall I'm ashamed for having paid what I did for this cruise. There was almost no Christmas atmosphere on board, Norwegian will never get another dime out of me.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We were on the Dawn over Christmas, Tampa to WCaribbean. After reading all the pretty dismal reviews, including one from someone who had actually CANCELLED their Dawn cruise due to all this negativity, we were more than pleasantly ... Read More
We were on the Dawn over Christmas, Tampa to WCaribbean. After reading all the pretty dismal reviews, including one from someone who had actually CANCELLED their Dawn cruise due to all this negativity, we were more than pleasantly surprised by most things we found on board. Embarkation was not too bad at all, although I realse this was made much better by the fact that our cruise date did not include pick ups in Cozumel. However, it was made worse by a bizarre situation at the cruise checkin desks, where non US citizens such as us from UK( although we had obviously already been admitted into the US via strict border control, ESTAs granted etc etc) still had to have their passports re-entered into some computer by someone slowly using "one-finger" typing for each passenger. This led to long queues at his workstation, holding up every other passenger in every check in queue! Surely, if this is necessary, it would be better to have a check-in desk, or two, just for non-US passengers. This would allow the others to board more quickly. I am sure the US passengers would be very happy! Our balcony cabin, 9192, was fine. Smallish, but lots of storage space. Bathroom tiny, separate wc behind a screen was miniscule! Looking at the size of some of the passengers, I can only imagine they were in large suites...no way would they get in the wc! Food..we ate mainly in Venetian, we cannot stand the "Zoo" that is the buffet, although the food selection looked good, specially at breakfast, to see fellow passengers pushing & shoving to pile their plates with bizarre food combinations is not my idea of a good time! This does not reflect on NCL, only on the passengers!! What greed some have. Freetime dining did not work well over Xmas, due to herds of people all wanting to eat at the same time. Lots of vouchers for free bubbly were given out by patient staff at the Venetian check in desk(Well done Gen!!) & buzzers used to the max. Teppanyaki was great, best steak all cruise(worst steak was Prime rib in Venetian, just inedible, although all other meals good there) Coffee & tea was poor (to our taste) everywhere, take your own & use the equipment provided in cabin! Le Bistro was adequate...no more, no less. We dine in France often..believe me,Le Bistro is not good standard French cuisine! No-one eats al-dente potatoes!! But the chef for Le Bistro obviously thinks they do!! Wouldnt go there again for a surcharge. Service was mainly good, especially in the Venetian, although we did feel it was a little false, with expectations of further tipping. Some were surly, but I suppose thats life, & happens anywhere! The Spa was great, well worth the extra cost. The jacuzzis were great, the pool a little cool, but welcome to escape the children. The on-deck hot-tub at the front of the ship, behind the Bimini Bar, was also a good find, really quiet most days, plus lots of sunbeds available there. Entertainment was good, Paul, the cruise director(a fellow Brit!) was excellent, although we felt sometimes his British humour may have gone straight over the heads of some passengers. We got totally fed up with the "shopping woman" wittering on constantly about buying diamonds, watches etc etc. We went to what we though would be an informative presentation about some ports, to find it was a Diamond Hard Sell...Thanks, but No Thanks! A little disappointed by the comedian Tim Kaminski, he relied very much on audience participation, but if that was poor(Wizard of Oz nigh!!!) then the whole show dragged on & was very flat. Second City were much better...impro at its cleverest. Bollywood was glitzy, we enjoyed it more than we had expected. So, all-in-all...a great value Xmas cruise! Well done NCL..this was our first cruise with you, we may well return!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
What a lovely way to spend Christmas with family on this gorgeous ship! We don't care for crowds but were prepared as this was a Christmas cruise and was pretty well booked to capacity. Of course you are going to have to tackle ... Read More
What a lovely way to spend Christmas with family on this gorgeous ship! We don't care for crowds but were prepared as this was a Christmas cruise and was pretty well booked to capacity. Of course you are going to have to tackle queues. A little patience is all that's needed, no one is going to go without. Make the most of the time waiting and take time to say hi to your fellow passengers, after all, it is Christmas. Ports - The ports were ok but very busy due to several other cruise ships in port the same day. We were always happy to be back on board. Nothing special here to write about unfortunately. Food - Absolutely fabulous. Considering how many people that have to be fed, we were amazed at the quality and efficient service. Everything ran like clockwork. First night was steak and lobster which was cooked to perfection. Also did Moderno Christmas Eve and had best seat on the ship for Christmas Eve carols. We loved the food here and have to say, it's our favourite. A very special night. We ate at Teppenyaki another night and it was worth every cent. Other nights we ate at the Venetian or Aqua and enjoyed every morsel of food that was served to us. Entertainment - We only went to a couple of shows as we decided to eat late to miss the rush. I was a little unsure of the comedian at first but by the end of the show was crying from laughing so much. Despite the large crowds and the small pool we did enjoy ourselves. We could always find somewhere quiet if we needed to escape the crowd. We would like to thank every single staff member for sacrificing their Christmas away from their family to ensure we had a very memorable Christmas. Looking already to book our next cruise with NCL, next time more days at sea, after all, the ship is the destination. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Thanksgiving cruise that was a great break from the normal holiday bustle. PARADISEwas in very good shape for its' age and the service staff superb. Biggest disappointment was the cruise director Steve. He can plat a fiddle or violin, ... Read More
Thanksgiving cruise that was a great break from the normal holiday bustle. PARADISEwas in very good shape for its' age and the service staff superb. Biggest disappointment was the cruise director Steve. He can plat a fiddle or violin, but he should never be allowed to speak into microphone. He speaks to the audience in a Barney voice and acts as if he is speaking to 4-5 year olds. This was my 15th cruise and he was by far the worse cruise director I've seen. The male leader singer in the show production had a very weak voice, but the band and dancers made up for his shortcomings. Dining was good every night except the filet mignon on Thanksgiving night. I should definitely chosen the traditional turkey dinner. All other nights were great! Getting off and off the ship was very smooth. Took the Land and Sea Tour in Grand Caymen and would highly recommend it.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
I have sailed multiple ships in the Fantasy class, Paradise included (back in '03 when it was still no smoking). Due to this, I knew going in how this ship would compare to newer offerings from Carnival and competing lines. First of ... Read More
I have sailed multiple ships in the Fantasy class, Paradise included (back in '03 when it was still no smoking). Due to this, I knew going in how this ship would compare to newer offerings from Carnival and competing lines. First of all if you are capable of "making your own fun" you will probably have a good time on this boat. I started cruising in '95 (I was 21 then), so I'm familiar with the activities boats of this size typically offer. If you are content with the pool deck, casino, meals, comedians, and maybe a show or two you should be fine. If all you know is Carnival Fun Ship 2.0 (upgrade) boats (or RCCL for that matter) the Paradise may seem kind of boring. Cons: -Lido deck restaurants (outside or inside, including the deli and pizza) were always nuts. It seemed like 10 minute lines for at least an hour (sometimes more) during both breakfast and lunch. I only ate in the MDR during the day once (lunch), and it wasn't busy at all. It appears that the people on this boat prefer the buffet meals. Dinner (buffet) selection was very poor during the one evening I checked it out, although (again) this may be typical on this ship. -Yes the interior looks dated. No way to hide this given that you enter the boat and the first thing you see is the atrium (which looks as dated as anything on the boat). -Stateroom looked dated as well, and had a "yellowed" robe, but served its purpose as a comfy place to sleep. -MDR (we had my time dining) hostess didn't know the show schedule, as was surprised when they got crushed immediately after the show. Service was VERY slow that night. This was surprising as it isn't like they don't go through this every few days. -Seemed like the pool deck bars were understaffed. One bartender for a ~10 seat bar for extended periods of time. They were pushing buckets of beer hard, I assume this helps relieve the pressure some. -MDR food was average. Not necessarily a con, but as someone who has been on 9 Carnival cruises in 16 years the gradual decline is something I can't help but notice. -Stop with the bacon police. It only backs up the buffet lines even more. I'm sorry that people waste a bunch of food (sad really), but add $1-2 to everyone's fare and let people grab their own bacon. Deserts I get (they are separate anyway), but the primary buffet lines really need to move faster. Pros: -Less than $90/person/day (family of 3, not including tips). Cons aside, I felt that I got what I paid for. -Serenity deck + waterslide are a nice touch for this older boat. -Pool deck (pools, deck, chairs), while worn, was in good shape. -Bed was really comfy. In my opinion, if you have complained about Carnival in the past you will likely do so again if you sail on this ship. In addition, if you are familiar with the Fantasy class ships nothing on this boat should surprise you. If all you care about is some food, the casino, the pool, alcohol, a few ports here and there, this boat will do. If you want more, you need to pay more. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We went on our first Christmas Cruise in December, 2012. We left on Christmas Eve from Tampa, and returned 5 days later. Since we live in Tampa, we drove to the port. We arrived at about 11:30AM. This seems to be the perfect time to ... Read More
We went on our first Christmas Cruise in December, 2012. We left on Christmas Eve from Tampa, and returned 5 days later. Since we live in Tampa, we drove to the port. We arrived at about 11:30AM. This seems to be the perfect time to arrive at the port, TSA security was less than 5 minutes, and check in took nearly no time at all. We were on board by 11:50. Note that you board this ship in Tampa on level 7 (Empress deck). With the exception of a few cabins on the Veranda deck, this is the highest level with rooms. Above us was a conference room. Cabin: E240. This is an aft cabin on Empress deck. The window had a 2 foot shelf before it, which was very useful as a place to store "stuff". A great extra. The room did not have a refrigerator, something we have never experienced on a cruise ship. In addition, in the corner of the room, there was a 3 foot by 3 foot by 3 foot box, which held the life jackets. To get out of the bed on one side, one had to crawl over the "box" to get out. I don't know why the life jackets aren't kept under the bed, or in the closet. The room also had 2 small end tables, and a single chair. No sofa. It had a large screen TV. The shower was a full size shower, the largest I've ever seen at sea. I mean a real shower. We had no trouble with water temperature variation when taking a shower. Storage drawers in the room were limited, as was the number of hangers. Adequate for a 5 night cruise, if you don't pack to heavily. The room was tired, but clean. Our steward operated in the background, and did a great job. The room was quiet, we heard no one. We generally try to be under something that doesn't have a lot of night time activity, and were successful.Food: This is a cruise, lots of food, of generally OK quality. I'm on a low carb diet, and they were unable to offer me food with low carbs. They simply brought the carbs, and told me not to eat them. For example, I don't eat potatoes. I couldn't successfully request to "hold the potato, substitute additional veggies". They simply brought the extra veggies. A waste. Our wait staff made the extra effort to get to know our preferences (decaff coffee) and the like, and were quietly efficient. We had the early seating, and everything went smoothly. Note that one member at our table was on a gluten free diet, and had arranged for this special diet ahead of time. This need continued to mystify the wait staff, I don't believe any meals were served without some sort of problem. Lido deck food was good, lines were never bad if the peak time was avoided. Cruise Director: Steve Cassel was the best cruise director we have ever had the pleasure of sailing with. He was excellent! He also plays a mean fiddle! I'm not sure what he is doing on a small ship like the Paradise, but he was everywhere on the ship, doing his best to make everything fun. Entertainment - Main Shows - Excellent. We were on the Carnival Freedom in September, these shows were better. The performers seemed to be having fun, which came through on the performances. The Cruise Director also played the fiddle in one of the shows, adding another dimension to the entertainment. Entertainment - Comedy. we went to only the adult comedy, both performers were sub-par compared to what we had seen on previous ships. Funny and "R" rated is OK, but just "R" rated is just dumb. Maybe we hit them in the wrong mood, normally we really enjoy the comedy. Entertainment - Live Karaoke - Absolutely terrific. This is a must see. Karaoke with the house band playing instead of a CD. The band was great, and the singer was excellent. One of our table mate performed, and the band got into it. This is a really good time. Casino - We never went. Other Entertainment - My only grip is that things seemed to be clustered together. Shows and comedy were on the same night. We did not go to the guest talent show, I cringe at Karaoke taken to the next level. Ports - Grand Cayman - A great port. We snorkeled at Eden Rock, a 5 minute walk from the tender port. $5.00 for a locker (we bring our own equipment) for some of the best snorkeling in the area. If you are a first timer, Stingray City is a must visit. We have done that multiple times. Grand Cayman is a clean, safe place to wander around and explore. We were only there from 8AM to 3PM, a bit short. Ports - Cozumel - We arrived at 11AM and left at 8PM, a bit strange. We went snorkeling with Mystic Divers, and Rosie arranged for us to snorkel the Columbia and Palancar reefs. We have been to Cozumel many times, and the snorkeling from the shore isn't very good The best we have found is at the Money Bar, that is OK at best. The the offshore reefs were fantastic. Lots of large fish, and very beautiful. For $70.00 each we received a small boat tour. From Carnival a similar tour was available for about the same price, but there were close to 200 folks on the boat. We had 2 people. The Carnival tour included booze, Rosie's did not. Fitness Room - Tired. Everything worked but it was old equipment. It was clean. Ship - When we get on and off the ship,there is rust streaming down from the portholes. This concerned me, as it indicates a lack of maintenance. Our cabin window was also filthy (from the outside). It seems like they are saving money on the little things, kind of sad since the cruise was so nice. Conclusion - This cruise was fun, and well worth the money! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We are veteran cruisers from South Carolina, with 18 cruises on Princess and 1 cruise on NCL. This was our 1st cruise on Holland America. This holiday itinerary was roundtrip from Tampa with 4 ports: Key West, Roatan, Santo Tomas de ... Read More
We are veteran cruisers from South Carolina, with 18 cruises on Princess and 1 cruise on NCL. This was our 1st cruise on Holland America. This holiday itinerary was roundtrip from Tampa with 4 ports: Key West, Roatan, Santo Tomas de Castilla (Guatemala) and Costa Maya. Pre-Cruise We drove to the port, and spent the day before the cruise in Tampa. We spent the afternoon in historic Ybor City a few blocks north of the port. There were hand-rolled cigar shops, pubs and restaurants. We ate at James Joyce Irish Pub. The food was very good, with generous portions. There were many beers on tap to choose from. We stayed at the Quality Inn near Ybor City. It was very clean and well-maintained, and a secure hotel. Embarkation Tampa was a wonderful embarkation port. We drove up to the curb, dropped off the luggage with the porter, and parked in the surface lot right in front of the ship. Embarkation went very quickly, starting at 11:30 AM. We were on the ship at 11:45 and our cabin was ready. We sailed under the Skyway bridge, which was lit up after dark. Cabin We had a window cabin on the lower promenade deck. We had a good view from our cabin. With the reflective glass, no one could see into our cabin, except after dark with the light on. The cabin was spacious, with lots of closet and drawer space. There was also a wide love seat. The bathroom had a tub-type shower, and was the biggest bathroom we have had on a cruiseship. There was a CD/DVD player, and American and European electrical outlets. Our room stewards, Bowo and Yanto, took good care of us. Dining We have read many negative reviews about the Rotterdam Restaurant (main dining room). We found these reviews to be accurate regarding the slow service, especially at dinner. The food was always excellent, so no complaints there. We had 1st seating, with a table for 4. For the first 2 nights of the cruise, dinner took 1 hour 45 minutes. Also, the waiters were inattentive. They walked by the table without looking to see if we needed anything. We couldn't even make eye-contact with them. Even speaking with the head waiter didn't help. He was very defensive, and didn't seem to understand that the service was unacceptable. This situation suddenly changed for the better after we left a comment card at the front desk describing the long dinners and poor service. The dining room captain, Martin, visited our table and assured us that our comments had been heard, and that service would be much better. Service was instantly better, much more attentive, and dinner took about 1 hour 15 minutes, which was fine for us. While service improved dramatically for us, we continued to see dissatisfaction and slow service for several other tables in the dining room. Because we spoke up, things improved for us. But we feel that service should have been better from the start, not requiring us to go to the trouble of writing a letter. Breakfast in the dining room was excellent, with lots of choices. Afternoon tea was also a wonderful experience. We especially enjoyed the Indonesian Tea toward the end of the cruise. The Royal Dutch Tea and everyday tea time were also very good. The Lido had a great selection for breakfast and lunch. We were served by the staff behind the counter. Especially noteworthy were the Filipino lunch selections one day, as well as the Eggs Benedict station at breakfast, and the fresh-squeezed orange juice. We had a friendly wine steward, Roy, at dinner. Art Auctions We attended one art auction. We were astounded at the prices of the art. Most of the items auctioned were original pieces with opening bids in the mid-$1000's. If other cruisers like this, that's fine with us. We just can't see spending so much on art. Princess has also moved in this direction. Gone are the days of limited-edition prints for a few hundred dollars, including framing. We have several such pieces that we still enjoy after more than 10 years. Wijang Culinary Arts Theater This was an excellent feature of the cruise. Included were lobster salad, creme brulee, haute chocolate, among other dishes. The towel-animal demonstration was especially memorable. Entertainment The production shows were professionally done. The singers sang very well, and the dancers were excellent. We didn't see any lip-syncing to recordings. We also enjoyed the violinist in the Explorer's lounge, the piano man Ric in the Mix bar and the Neptune band in the Ocean bar. Bar Drinks The bar staff was very attentive. We especially liked the Boddington's on tap, the Manhattans and White Russian. However, the bar staff didn't know how to make a Grasshopper, Whiskey Sour or Blue Hawaiian. Public Areas The ship was in excellent condition overall. Areas that looked out-of-date were the atrium, main dining room and pools. There was lots of room on this ship, with only 1250 passengers. It was nice to be on a smaller ship again. We really like this about Holland America. While other cruise lines are building ever-bigger ships, HAL has ships with 2000 passengers or less. The wide, wrap-around lower promenade deck is great for walking. Also accessible from the lower promenade are stairways to 3 forward observation decks, including a very large deck on the bow of the ship. These were great for sailaways. Christmas Activities There were several Christmas activities on this holiday itinerary. The cruise left port on Sunday, Dec. 23. On Christmas Eve, there was a Christmas display unveiling in the evening in the atrium. Hot chocolate and cookies were served while we sang carols. On Christmas morning at 9:00, we sang carols in the main showroom, and Santa made an appearance. Presents were given to the younger kids. There were quite a few families on board. Summary All in all a great getaway for the holiday. The Ryndam is a beautiful ship with many amenities and activities. For veteran Princess cruisers, we were very pleased, and plan to take another cruise on Holland America in the Caribbean or Europe. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012

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