72 Tampa Holiday Cruise Reviews

I am a Diamond member with RCCL and have cruised on many of their ships. My friend is Platinum and between us we have cruised on at least 5 other cruise lines over the years including RCCL. My last 4 cruises had been on the Navigator ... Read More
I am a Diamond member with RCCL and have cruised on many of their ships. My friend is Platinum and between us we have cruised on at least 5 other cruise lines over the years including RCCL. My last 4 cruises had been on the Navigator of the Seas which is one of my favorites. It is always ship-shape and feels roomy and never crowded. This ship was such a disappointment for me! It immediately felt very small and claustrophobic as soon as we boarded. The Windjammer was not well organized, the food looked like leftovers, and the layout of the Windjammer area was not efficient. When we arrived in our room, the disappointment continued. The room was literally covered with dust - the TV screen, under the TV, the drawer edges and the counter tops were dusty and not at all clean. I have asthma and allergies to dust mites so this was not going to work. Then, if possible, the bathroom was WORSE. There was a large black ring around the toilet, and there was a large blob of toothpaste on the front of the sink. The bathroom had a disgusting smell of sewage. The in-room safe also did not work. This was all just not acceptable so we called Housekeeping, maintenance and our room steward. The rest of the first afternoon was spent waiting for the various staff to come in and dust, clean the bathroom, separate the beds (which was requested on the reservation), and fix the safe. Luckily we could sit on our balcony while all the work was being done, otherwise we would have felt that the first afternoon was wasted. The guy fixing the safe disappeared and said he would come back. We still couldn't leave until he found the necessary "part" and returned, at least 1.5 hours later. He could not enter the room without our being there, he told us. When the room was finally in order (or at least acceptable), we could begin our cruise. I have to say that Oliver, our room steward, was very apologetic that our room was in such poor condition, and explained that the room steward in charge of our room before had just taken leave and obviously was in a hurry to begin his time off. Oliver took care of everything for us after that first day with no issues. The balcony cabin on this ship seemed smaller than on other RCCL ships - I have bruises on my legs from climbing over the inside bed for the entire cruise. The balcony was about standard size but there was a metal roof structure below our balcony that interfered with our view and we could not really hear the sounds of the water. (We did not book an obstructed view balcony). We did not return to the Windjammer after the first day, but the dining room food was more than adequate. It was actually quite good and the "my time dining" area waiters were outstanding! The only complaint about the MTD process on this ship is that they do not have enough tables reserved for MTD and you have to wait. I NEVER waited for a table using MTD on any other RCCL ship so this was frustrating. The head waiter was multi-tasking, managing the podium at MTD check-in and then escorting people to tables, which also slowed down the process. But once seated, we loved the food and the waiters~ We had room service for breakfast each day and it worked fine for us. Don't order eggs from room service though - they are terrible! - I think they are egg beaters or if not they are made so they will sit for long periods and have very little resemblance to real scrambled eggs. We stuck with pastries, yogurt, and juice. (which is another little annoying thing - RCCL now charges for REAL orange juice as a bar item - what you get when you order orange juice is a fruit punch colored orange - very disappointing and another example of visible penny-pinching). We are not really into all of the ship's entertainment, so I cant speak to those, but the casino on this ship seriously needs some work on its ventilation system. My friend is a smoker and she loved being able to smoke in there, but I couldn't breathe at all and the air was SO bad I actually had an asthma episode after spending time in there one evening. The casino is very small also in comparison to other RCCL ships I have sailed. The central Promenade area - once again - felt very cramped and small. Unlike the Navigator, there is no central, open area surrounded by the shops...the shops are in a smaller, winding hallway. The one plus was the champagne bar at the Atrium...the bartender there was one of the best on the ship! Embarkation and debarkation were excellent on this ship. We were on the ship by 11:30 and off by 8:30 AM with no waiting whatsoever. We booked our own shore excursion to Nachi Cocom rather than a ship excursion. For another review, I will contribute my comments about Nachi Cocom, which has deteriorated significantly in the 11 months since I was there last. Service was much slower and they now have the dreaded "toys" we try to avoid - jet-skis, inflatable bouncing things floating in the water, etc...in an effort to appeal to a broader audience, they are heading the wrong direction for those who prefer a quieter, adults-only beach day. We hated to see that. This was our first New years eve cruise and I have to say my final disappointment was that for the nearly double cost of a New years cruise, we would have expected free-flowing champagne (at least cheap champagne) :) What we got were 2 bottles of chardonnay left in our room by our room steward on NYE evening, and a noisemaker and tiara at the dinner table. Not quite what we expected. With all of the complaints it sounds as though we were miserable...We in fact enjoyed the "down time", and had a lot of rest on the balcony and in Cozumel. Don't EVEN TRY to find a deck chair on sea-days on this ship. We circled the ship multiple times and I have never seen such chair-saving with towels in spite of the signs posting the 30 minute policy. Luckily on the way back we had the sunny side of the ship and enjoyed the sun and the privacy of our balcony...and our own chairs! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We arrived at pier about 11:00 and checked in; then waited until our group was called to board. By 11:30 -â€" 11:45 we were on the ship. The 4 year old was hungry so we ate at the buffet because Versailles did not open until 12 ... Read More
We arrived at pier about 11:00 and checked in; then waited until our group was called to board. By 11:30 -â€" 11:45 we were on the ship. The 4 year old was hungry so we ate at the buffet because Versailles did not open until 12 or 12:30. We explored the ship for a while, went to our cabins and then went to the Biergarten for the sail away. Overall, we thought the ship was kept very clean and staff was very friendly and went out of their way to accommodate us. Our little one was up early on the first sea day - even before Versailles opened. We walked around the ship looking for breakfast. Not being fond of buffets, we were thrilled to find the Blue Lagoon which became our breakfast spot. It was quiet, a wall of windows, good food and great staff. They served a full breakfast with bacon and eggs cooked to order as well as French toast and omelets. We also enjoyed the Blue Lagoon at lunch, too. Our time in Roatan was a bit of a disappointment. I had booked a Victor Bodden private tour. It was not worth it. He took us to see the monkeys -â€" but they are not indigenous to Roatan. If you want to see indigenous monkeys, St. Kitts is the place for that. This was like a very tiny petting zoo. We asked about the butterfly farm and he told us it was the wrong time of year to see them. We asked about the iguanas and he told us it was completely booked up. The beach while beautiful was over crowded and our guide could not find more than 1 chair and 1 small umbrella even though there were 4 of us. There were tons of "hawkers" trying to sell us everything. Worse, he took off and was gone for hours leaving us to wonder if he was even coming back to get us. We finally had to call the number and were told he went to get gas but would be "right back." Well, when he came back, we noticed that the tank was nearly empty. Made us think that he lied about the other things to so he could just drop us at the beach. Just not the pleasant beach day we thought we would be getting. In Belize, we tendered ashore and found a tour company; we had been told by the Victor Bodden guide that it was not safe to just take a taxi to the zoo and we were also told that by the tour company in Belize so we went to Altun Ha with a tour company. The 4 year old liked climbing the ruins and we had a really nice day. In Costa Maya, I had contacted Steve at the Tropicante. We had a wonderful day - we got exactly what Steve had promised - 4 loungers and 2 umbrellas. The food was excellent and reasonably priced, the beach was beautiful. Steve also directed us to Neptuno to see about fishing. We paid $75 for 4 of us to go out fishing. My husband caught a 3 ft barracuda which our guide filleted and took to Steve's to cook for us - it was absolutely amazing in taste!! The best food we had on the trip! I really can't recommend Steve highly enough. In Cozumel, we did the Dolphin Encounter through Swim With Dolphins Cozumel and it too was great. We had to change our time from 1:00 to 3:30 so it was just our family - we all had a ball with the baby dolphin named Eddie. The photographer took 144 pictures which we purchased on a DVD for $139. Unfortunately, during our week, both my son and then my grandson had a bout with acute gastroenteritis necessitating seeing the doctor. She was very nice but she had to quarantine the 4 year old on Thanksgiving afternoon. My son and I went up to Aqua to try to take turkey dinners back to the cabin. It presented a dilemma to the staff because to get the whole dinner was more plates that we could carry. I suggested that maybe we could make several trips but the manager had a waiter carry the tray of dishes up to our room so we could all have Thanksgiving dinner together. This kind of responsiveness on behalf of the crew was experienced several times over. My grandson loved the towel animals that the cabin steward made and the steward too was so responsive when he had to clean and disinfect our cabins (connecting) several times more than usual. We liked eating in Versailles sitting at the back windows watching the wake but Aqua is actually a quieter dining room. The food was pretty similar in both as was the menu. The food was fine - not gourmet, but what you would expect when serving the numbers on a ship. The last night we ate in Cagney's and my family enjoyed having filet, crab cakes and lobster tails. We also had to use room service quite a bit because of the quarantines. Room service was good food but usually pretty slow delivery. Figure at least an hour to get your lunch, dinner or snack. Breakfast was delivered right on time using the card on the door. A couple of things that I had not really picked up after reading these boards: 1. There are professional photographers who offer photo sessions every evening. The pictures are really lovely. Some families dressed up and were anticipating Christmas photos or other family photo souvenirs. We did not bring any dressy clothes -â€" in retrospect, wish we had. We did take advantage of the photographer until the last night -â€" again, wish we had done so several times. 2. Freestyle in the dining rooms is more like "country club casual" rather than cargo pants type casual. 3. The Star Bar was not discovered by us until the last night when we ate at Cagneys. If you like a quiet place to have a before dinner cocktail, this is really nice -â€" would definitely have used it more. We did not take advantage of any of the entertainment on the ship because of the young one -â€" our family preferred to spend time together so we did not use the kid's club either. The one kid activity we did was the cupcake decorating which was packed with kids, not particularly well-organized and they didn't seem to anticipate the crowd wishing to participate. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise and would consider NCL again in the right circumstance. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas cruise review Nov 21-26, 2011 Tampa to Cozumel to Costa Maya to Tampa Twelve of us sailed on the Jewel over Thanksgiving to celebrate my parents' 50th anniversary. Those sailing were my ... Read More
Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas cruise review Nov 21-26, 2011 Tampa to Cozumel to Costa Maya to Tampa Twelve of us sailed on the Jewel over Thanksgiving to celebrate my parents' 50th anniversary. Those sailing were my parents, me, my brother and his family (wife, 12 year old boy, 8 year old girl), and my sister and her family (husband, 15 and 13 year old boys and almost 10 year old girl). I was in cabin 7138. Mom and Dad were next to me in 7140. My brother and family were down the hall in 7126. We were all on the port side. My sister and her husband were in 7650 and their kids were in 7648 on the starboard side. All were category E3 balcony deluxe staterooms. Some (like 7126) had the pull-down bed. Cabins: very well laid out, and I had plenty of room for my things. I like that the ends of the bed are curved -- made it easy to walk around the bed to get to the balcony. The bed was extremely comfortable, and had many pillows on it. The shower has an interesting set of rounded doors that you slide shut, and these worked well. I thought the shampoo and conditioner were fine. My only complaint about the cabin was the balcony. There were little flecks of white paint all over the furniture, as though someone had pressure washed the ship and didn't bother picking up. I had a chair, a lounge, and a small table on my balcony. My parents next door had two chairs. We just leaned around the divider to talk to each other when out there. I didn't find the furniture comfortable, so didn't spent much time on the balcony, although I kept the curtains open so I could enjoy the view. A flat screen tv also would have been nicer, but I understand those are coming with the next refurbishment. Wine packages -- my parents ordered the 12-bottle Platinum (middle of the road, price wise) wine package, to cover wine for dinner. My siblings and I also purchased a 12-bottle Platinum wine package, to cover pre-dinner cocktails, and to have wine for drinking in the room. This worked well, although we had more than we needed. We quickly found a large enclosed booth area at the end of the Schooner Bar where the 12 of us could congregate with our wine, (and soft drinks for the kids!) and then just walk down the stairs to the dining room. Embarkation We met at my parents' house the day before embarking. They live about 30 minutes from the pier, so no airline flights or ground transportation was used. We arrived at the pier in Tampa around 11:30am. Dropped the luggage with a porter while my brother and brother-in-law parked the minivans in the garage across the street. There were a number of benches along the drop off point, so we sat to wait for them. We then entered the building and went up an escalator to security where our hand luggage was scanned. We were given health forms to fill out, after which we stood in line to check in. Very friendly personnel. Got my sail pass card. Sister's family sailed through (bad pun, sorry!). We ended up waiting a long time for Mom and Dad -- as they had a computer glitch right as they were checking in. Sister's family had their embarkation picture taken while I sat off to the side and had a glass of lemonade and some cookies. Walked outside down a looonnngg sidewalk to a scissors-style gangplank which dropped us off on deck 5. Had our picture taken for security, then took the elevator upstairs, walked through the solarium and pool area, dragging our hand luggage, to the Windjammer buffet, getting there about 12:45. Tried honey stung chicken -- yuck. Chicken curry with chunks of white meat was fantastic. They had loads of pappadums (thin crispy lentil crackers) every day -- YUM! Buffet cleared out very fast at 1pm as people went to their rooms. We finished our lunch, then went to our staterooms. Our souvenir drink cups were in the room. Met Yuliya, our stateroom attendant -- unbelievably friendly. We decided to meet in the Schooner Bar (deck 6) for a drink shortly before 3pm. I had just gone back to the cabin to get my life jacket for the drill when the announcement came over the loudspeakers that life jackets weren't necessary -- oh well. At least on a ship this size, it wasn't too far a walk to get back to the bar. Mandatory muster drill -- around 4pm. Mom, Dad, brother's family and I were at the same drill station -- G14, which is in the Portofino restaurant. We checked in with the girl at the stand, then sat down until we were cleared. The entire thing only took about 15-20 minutes. Very efficient. Dinner 6pm -- tables 528 and 529. Second level of the dining room(deck 5) on the starboard side of the ship (left hand as you enter the dining room) near the railing, and opposite a waiter's station, so was relatively quiet. Vidalia onion tart the first night was very good -- tasted like quiche. Waiter Christian from Romania -- very experienced, and very professional, Has wife and daughter, about whom he told us many stories. He also did some card tricks, which had the kids entranced. Assistant waiter was Violeta from Croatia -- very pretty girl and SUPERB waiter. Called Dad "Sir William" and Mom "Madame Carole" . Had our names down from the get-go, and called me by name every time I saw her anywhere on the ship. Christian didn't really use our names. Violeta remembered that I liked hot tea every night, and that my sister-in-law didn't want the bread basket (too much temptation!). A variety of breads was served each night. There was a mix-up the first night. The kids were seated next to us, but with different wait staff. They got their appetizer, but never got their meals. We addressed that, and the next night when we arrived, Christian told us that he had arranged to switch tables, so he had our table, and the kids' table, and nobody else. Things went very well after that, and we appreciated his doing that. Tuesday, Day 2 -- captain had announced moderate seas, and he wasn't kidding! I got up, showered, dressed, and was doing fine until I sat on the bed waiting to call Mom to go get breakfast, and the motion got to me. Went to the main dining room and tried to eat but nothing felt like it was sitting very easily. Took a dramamine and after an hour of sipping ice water, felt ok enough to walk through the dining room and back to my cabin. Yuliya saw me in the hallway and exclaimed "what's wrong!?" and I told her I was seasick. She had just finished my cabin, so she told me to go in and lie down and asked if she could bring me anything. I replied "yes, a bucket of ice would be wonderful" and she turned and literally ran down the hallway and returned instantly with a bucket of ice. From then on I had ice twice each day, which was most appreciated. She asked me every time after that how I was feeling. Tuesday night was formal night. We got two of the bottles from our wine package and set up in the empty Champagne Bar on deck 5 for pictures, as there was a lovely spot by the railing where we could stand. My sister and sister-in-law got everyone into place and we took turns with our various combinations of people. (we looked at the pictures the day we got off the ship and were so pleased at how well they turned out) Went into dinner and it was my poor Dad's turn to be seasick. He tried the lobster bisque which was awful -- very fishy tasting. Christian brough him a Caesar salad to try but after two bites Dad excused himself saying "guys, I'm sorry, but I have to go" and he left. I had the sliced steak which was excellent and I think that was the night of the peach/blueberry cobbler which was very hot, and not too bad. Wednesday, Day 3 was Cozumel, and our dinner at Chops. My siblings and their families went scuba diving and swimming with the dolphins (separate trips). My folks and I stayed on board. I believe this was the day they started putting up the Christmas decorations onboard. I happened to be going up in one of the glass elevators facing the atrium right as they plugged in the lights to the Chrstimas tree -- a number of crew were there -- and everyone applauded. The adults met in the atrium bar for a drink and went up to the restaurant a few minutes early (8pm reservation) but they were ready for us. Don't remember the waiter's name -- he was quite forgettable and never made an effort to be personal. Very long intervals between courses. My filet was perfectly done (I asked to have it butterflied because I like my steak well done) and very tender. Sister's steak was unfortunately butterflied (which is typically done for people who like well-done meat and she prefers medium) and the waiter offered to have it replaced but she said no, and said that although it was more done than she would have preferred, it was fine. The chocolate mud pie was the best chocolate dessert I have ever had in my entire life, and that's no exaggeration. Sort of a combination of chocolate mousse, ganache, and I don't know what else but it was exquisite. Sides were served family style. The onions rings were wonderful, as were the mashed potatoes. I only regret that the platters were so big that we ended up wasting much of the food. All in all, a delightful evening, and well worth the extra charge. Thursday Day 4 -- Thanksgiving -- Costa Maya. Some of our party got off the ship to do some shopping, but didn't partake in any activities. We all grew up in Florida, so had no interest in going to any beaches. We spent the day in the same way we had done most other days -- my dad had breakfast early in the main dining room, then walked around the ship with his book, looking for quiet places to sit and read. Poor man got shuffled around a lot -- seems every time he found a quiet spot, an activity would be scheduled. I also think he saw more of the ship than the rest of us. I know I never saw the nightclub -- but he did! The Schooner Bar ended up being a favorite place to sit. Very comfortable couches and chairs, and beautiful views of the ocean. Its location also meant that sooner or later, someone from the family would come strolling by. We didn't see much of my 15 year old nephew -- he quickly found a group of kids to hang out with. They spent a lot of time at the pool tables. The girls mostly played with their Barbies in the cabin when they got the chance, since they only see each other a few times per year. Nobody used the kids' facilities... .although the teenager and his friends may have tried the disco. I spent some time sitting on the balcony, or down in the Schooner Bar with my Kindle. Dinner was traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner and was very good. (but no rutabaga, darn it!). Friday was our last day, and we were at sea all day, heading back to Tampa. The seas were much calmer than they were on the way down, which I appreciated. We all had our luggage outside the door by 11pm for pickup, and the tv ran a continuous loop of video on how to fill out the customs and immigration forms, how to use the luggage tags, where to meet for disembarkation, etc. Our group was scheduled for 9:15, and we met on the top level of the theater. We were called about 20 minutes late, but disembarking was very easy. We walked down one level, went outside on deck 5, scanned our sail cards one last time, and then walked back inside the terminal to pick up our luggage and go through customs. The luggage was very neatly laid out in rows with huge numbers indicating each section. I found my suitcase instantly, and sailed through customs. I spent more time walking than standing in line. A few miscellaneous notes: at the beginning of the cruise, staff were diligent about asking to see the sail pass, to see the stamp for the soda card, but by Thursday they didn't ask anymore I had an outstanding Vodka Collins at the Schooner Bar. They had some karaoke there -- most of which was truly, truly awful. The regular entertainment there wasn't much better. I didn't see any of the shows in the big theater, but saw some bits on the tv the next day. The cruise director and her staff seemed to be doing a good job. I played trivia in the Schooner Bar several times. There were rarely more than 4-5 tables of people playing, which was unfortunate -- but they weren't giving away anything more exciting than a key chain or occasionally a hat, so that may explain it. I just like to play! Entertainment in the Atrium bar was great -- a lot of Christmas carols as you would expect at that time of year -- but the music and singers were great. Crew were pretty friendly. I heard there were 600 kids (out of 2500 passengers on our cruise) but they were never much of a problem. Just one rowdy group of 10-12 year olds playing on the stairs one night. Other notes: in the Windjammer, make sure you check out the 'other side' of the buffet. Some items are repeated on both sides, but many are not. The hamburgers were particularly good, as was the sliced fruit. I ate a lot of pineapple! The survey forms that you receive in the cabin are supposed to be returned to customer service well before disembarkation time. I missed it, but was thrilled to see yet another drop off box for the forms right after we scanned our sailpass card to get off the ship, so I was able to submit mine after all. Overall: the Jewel is a beautiful ship with gorgeous views of the ocean. There are 5 or 6 glass elevators -- 3 or 4 on the outside of the ship, and two overlooking the atrium. People were generally courteous when using the elevators. There is a very nice mockup of the ship on each floor as you get off the elevator showing you which way is forward, and where things are located. I recommend checking out the menu for the dining room. It's posted on a board just outside the dining room doors on deck 5. It was fun to plan what we wanted to have each night. My 12 year old nephew had expressed a great interest in trying duck while on the cruise (there is almost nothing this kid won't eat). He almost backed out, but we convinced him that if he didn't like it, he could try something else. Our waiter Christian helped him cut it, and my nephew was so thrilled, he was bringing samples over to the adults' table for us to try. Friday night was the lobster night -- a lobster tail. I didn't order one, but everyone else at our table did, so then I changed my mind, and they quickly brought one to me, which I enjoyed. In sum, it was a wonderful 5 days, and everyone had a good time. It was particularly nice to have so much together time as a family, since my parents and brother live in Florida, and my sister and I live in Georgia. I would not hesitate to cruise on the Jewel again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Second time cruisers just back from a lovely five day western Caribbean jaunt aboard Radiance of the Seas. Our first go with Royal Caribbean after a very successful Celebrity voyage only four months ago. We definitely got the cruise bug. ... Read More
Second time cruisers just back from a lovely five day western Caribbean jaunt aboard Radiance of the Seas. Our first go with Royal Caribbean after a very successful Celebrity voyage only four months ago. We definitely got the cruise bug. Planning Christmas aboard Holland America.Vague on ship sizes. Radiance is big but not overwhelming, inside or out.Took CC advise on rear suite stateroom. Chose Deck Ten - Suite 1602. Very spacious. Very well appointed. Huge balcony. More closet room than at home. Bed as queen was superb. Furnishing show some wear, but not objectionable. One small water soaked carpet area near bath was attended to "instantly" by maintenance with no repeat problem.. Guest Services called twice afterward to insure all was well. Over all a great soothing accommodation. CC is right about those rear suites. Wonderful end-of-the-world views. Worth the hike aft.We are evening dinner-for-entertainment folks. Took diners in specialty restaurants only. Chops is a fine steak house with view. Service and food well worth the up charge. But, maybe not four nights of it. Menu is somewhat narrow for that many evenings. Portofino, the Italian venue, was charming on our one night visit. Again, with good service and meal.We should have mixed it up a bit more. Our fault not RCI's.Can't comment on dining room. Windjammer buffet breakfasts and lunches were well laid out, ample and very satisfactory. Seating was a premium at high meal hours, but staff turned the tables quickly.We took no entertainment options, so again, no comment. Casual entertainment scattered about always seemed tasteful or lively depending on venue. We don't do the pool thing, especially with such a great balcony. Only comment is that the pool area seemed "ramma-jamma" each time we passed by. Spa area looked luxurious. We don't do rock climbing, but it sure seemed like a happening venue for all ages.Fellow passengers ranged from newborn to well past prime. Most adult folks in thirties to fifties. Family kids were plentiful at spring break time. But the teens and tweens always seemed busy doing something and were not under our feet or under our skin.Folks on our cruise seemed to heed the dress requirements for the most part and we saw no egregious violations of guidelines or manners.Radiance is beautiful and very well appointed. She does shine. All was spit and polish with plenty of sparkle. Staff was abundant, pleasant, polite and responsive to every need, but no one seemed to reach extra unless asked.Our ports in Mexico were nice but predictable. Language and currency were no challenge what-so-ever. We go for the cruise more than the destination. One firm recommendation for this Mexican journey: get the scoop on shopping at the onboard presentation. Utilize the coupons and recommendations. Our ship appointed "shopper's helper", Christina, was very informative and stood by our side in several shore side shops to boost better deals for us. She seemed to be everywhere on shore in Cozumel helping passengers navigate for bargains - big or little.Embarkation 45 minutes from valet parking (recommended) to cabin door just after mid day. Luggage at the door within two hours. Disembarkation two and a half hours - Ouch ! Border & Customs delays, not RCI's fault. Felt sorry for the folks with plane schedules.Finally, buzz from the crew. The lovely Radiance is in for dry dock in May before the Alaska summer. We're told she's out of the water for 20 days while the normal dry dock is 7 days. Sounds to us like she will really radiate after that make over. New dining venues, stateroom upgrades plus fifteen rooms to be added. Flat screens will finally arrive along with miles of new carpet. Sounds great. We will give her a try again out of our home port Tampa. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
This was a winter get away for my husband and I. Being that we live in Michigan we like to cruise Jan/Feb. I did take some pics but not enough to post. If you have any specific questions please let me know. Saturday Jaurary 29th 2011 ... Read More
This was a winter get away for my husband and I. Being that we live in Michigan we like to cruise Jan/Feb. I did take some pics but not enough to post. If you have any specific questions please let me know. Saturday Jaurary 29th 2011 Myself 56 and DH 61 headed to the airport around 6:30am for Delta flight that left Detroit at 8:40am headed for Tampa. I had pre printed boarding passes along with purchasing one checked bag on line, saved $2 yippee!! Once at the gate we checked if the flight was full, hoping to take a bump but no luck. Flight boarded at 8am. The flight was about 2 hours and this plane had little monitors in the backs of the seats so got to watch CNN, Food network along with many other show. Just need your own earbuds or you can purchase. I had mine from my I pod so worked well. We were served drink/snack en route. Landed in Tampa early at 11:15am. Proceeded to pick up bags and then walked across the street to rental car area. I had pre booked a two day rental thru Dollar for $55.47 with AAA discount, about $20 less than competitors. We were given a Chevy Malibu (midsize). I had brought our Garmin GPS from home, so plugged in address and we were on our way. It was sort of neat driving over the Sunshine Skyway bridge realizing we would be passing under it in just a few days. Around 1pm we stoppyed at Applebee's in Bradenton-this location offered half off appetizers and 2 for one drinks if you ate at the bar. My DH and I split the Chicken Wontons, Boneless Chicken wings and Spinach Artichoke dip-all excellent. We had 2 for 1 beers (pints), 2 each and our bill came to $16. Amy at the bar was wonderful. With full bellies we continued on our way. We arrived in Marco Island at 3:30pm-had a great visit with our friend a former Michigander whom we used to boat with. Around 7pm we headed out for dinner. We went to Cocomo's in town. All of us had some sort of grouper dinner-2 blackened and 1 grouper francaise-it had capers, white wine, scallions but lacked taste. Entrees were about $20. Beer special at $1.99 for a pint. Headed back to our home for the next couple of days. Visited for a while and then off to bed Sunday January 23, 2011. Up around 7am. Relaxed as we drank coffee and planned our day. Our host was very familiar with Marco Island so around 11am took us on a tour of the island. Many beautiful homes-even got to see Shania Twain's house which is currently up for sale. We were getting hungry and decided on stopping at Stan's in Goodland. I had read quite a bit about it on Trip Advisor. It is only open on Sunday. The weather was getting nice (now 60 and sunny) so we chose a table outside. Mixed drinks aren't cheap for the size at $7, beers were $4. We ordered chicken strip basket $9 with fries and slaw, DH had clam chowder $4 (he said it was so so) We people watched while having lunch. Many bikers stop here. On site is a boutique-jewelery, clothes, trinkets. There also is a fresh produce market. We didn't see Stan during our visit. The do have a live band which was just setting up around 1pm. From Stan's we drove to Alligator Alley and Everglade city. We turned down one road and saw may gators. Our friend told us that in warm weather there would be gators all up and down the road. The ones we saw were all in the swamp area. From there we headed back to Marco to put our dinner in the oven. About 4p we headed to the beach on the gulf shore. It was quite windy but still sunny. It felt great to us Michiganders. We walked a few miles and collected a variety of shells and some of the pure white sugar sand. Stopped at Winn Dixie on the way back to pick up some items for dinner and our two bottles of wine to take on board (750ml per bottle). After a wonderful dinner we got our suitcases in order. We put our cruise tags on our cases-I had covered the tags with clear stapping tape, punched a hole in each end then secured with snall zip ties. We programed the airport address into the Garmin ready for our return trip in the AM. Monday January 24 2011 Up around 6am. We showered and did final packing. My DH went to load the car and couldn't find the car keys. We searched every where without luck. I called Dollar rental customer service and spoke to a very nice lady. She understood our concern as I told her we didn't want to miss the boat. She was going to check out a variety of options and call us back. No sooner did I hang up the phone with Dollar my DH annouced he had 'found' the keys. They were deep down in his sweatshirt pocket. Crisis averted I call Dollar back and cancelled and further assistance. By 7:30am we were on our way back to Tampa. We were glad we allowed extra time. It was sunny and around 57 degrees when we started on our way. Our drive back to Tampa airport was very uneventful. We stopped at McDonalds for breakfast and then again to fill up the gas tank. We stopped at a 7/11 station just outside Tampa and it was $3.05 per gallon. We made it back to the airport car rental drop off around 10:45am. Very well marked and easy to find. We checked the car back in, given our receipt and we were on our way. We waited in the Dollar/Thrifty office for about 10 minutes for the complimentary shuttle to arrive to take us to the pier. The van can hold 7-8 passegers at a time. Vern, the driver was quite a character. It took about 15 minutes to get to the pier. Vern told us where he would pick us up following the cruise (saved paying for transfers/taxi) and return us to the airport to catch our flights home. Arrived at the port and tipped Vern $5. Ship porter picked up our bags as we unloaded them from the van, tipped $1 per bag. We got processed in very quickly. We were in zone 15 and only had to wait 10 minutes or so till allowed on the ship. We were on the Lido deck having lunch by 12:15pm-very efficient. The Lido restaurant was very busy but to be expected. I opted for a sandwich from the deli, salad and fruit-trying to keep it light. DH had Capricosa pizza and said it was good. We sat out on the back area of deck 10 that over looks the serenity deck. Once done with lunch we went on a short tour of the ship. Being that we had been on the Imagination many years ago we had an idea of the layout. The water slides were open but the pool/hot tubs on the lido deck were closed. The hot tubs on the serenity deck were open. We relaxed on the serenity deck, watching all the items being loaded onto the ship. Around 1:30pm we headed to check out our room. We had an inside cabin on the Riviera deck -R 214. We found the room quite comfortable-twin beds that were pushed together. Desk/vanity with 4 drawers under along with stool. 3 closets 2 for hanging and 1 with shelves/safe. Bathroom good size toilet on left, shower on right-nice heavy curtain. No luggage yet so we explored. Around 3:15pm we had the muster drill. We had muster station D so met in the Rock N Roll lounge on the promenade deck. They review how to put on a lift jacket and then had us all walk up a deck to where our life boats are. Very painless. Those with disabilities have a separate meeting area. Around 4:15pm we started to pull away from the dock and then make our way down towards the Sunshine skyway bridge. It was still quite sunny and pleasant to hand out on deck. By 5:30pm I found that all 3 pieces of our luggage had made it to our room. I opened them and found that our powere stip was removed-a note left saying that it would be returned when we arrived back in Tampa on the 29th. I had also packed a 32oz rum runner with vodka-unfortunately it was gone and wouldn't be returned. I am sure some of the crew are having a party somewhere. We have used rum runners many times in the past without problems, but it seems that the cruise lines is definitely doing a more thorought seach. There was definite evidence that they were very thorough going thru the luggage. Oh well, not going to let that ruin our trip. About 5:45pm went to deck 9 by the casino and had sushi. My DH and I split a large Fosters can 25 oz for $6.75 enough for 2 glasses. We went up on deck and found we were still a ways from the Sunshine bridge. it was quite dark already, so opted not to stay on deck. Returned to the cabin, I took a shower and found the water very hot. While I was in the shower DH said the cabin steward and assistant came around and introduced themselves-wish I would have met them as didn't see them the entire cruise although room was spotless. Around 7:30pm stopped by casino to get sign and sail card punched and attached to a lariat. Ended up donating some money. The casino is on the small side but a good variety of machines-1 cent, 2 cent, 25 cents, dollar. Went to dinner. Table 315 in the Carnivale dining room (aft). Ended up by the window at a table to 10. Only 1 other couple showed up, Brenda and Tom from New Hampshire, very nice. Good conversation. Waiter Luis and assistant Adam-up front I told Luis that I like my food hot-he delivered as requested. I had the fried shrimp and fruit for starter, the chicken a la Grecque for entree-very good, like a chicken breast with pesto on a bed of rigatoni with tomoatoes, olives and artichoke hearts. DH had tilapia and ribs-he wasn't really impressed with either. Headed back to the casino after dinner (see a pattern?) Waited until 10:10pm and then headed to the Welcome aboard show in the Paris lounge-found dancers and singers very good. CD Paul Santley was very entertaining. Got a taste of 2 comediennes who will perform later in the week. Stopped by the casino and ended up winning $1400 so well ahead for the day. Got our first towel animal. Headed to bed around midnight with smooth waters and sea day tomorrow. Before we went to bed we hung our room service tag on the door-like to have coffee as we are getting ready. More to follow Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Arrival and check-in was smooth. We arrived at the Tampa terminal around 11am and there were no lines for check-in. Santa made a visit to the waiting area while boarding began. We were on the ship around 11:30am. The Windjammer was open ... Read More
Arrival and check-in was smooth. We arrived at the Tampa terminal around 11am and there were no lines for check-in. Santa made a visit to the waiting area while boarding began. We were on the ship around 11:30am. The Windjammer was open but we had to wait until 1:00pm to access our cabin. Cabin: Deluxe ocean view with balcony on Deck 10. Very cozy room that without the balcony would be claustrophobic. Plenty of storage space. Very old TV that did not get good reception and had a limited amount of channels. Beds were very comfortable. Cabin Stewart was excellent and efficient. MDR: we were assigned late seating. At 12noon, the Head Water was available for seating request and we were able to switch to early seating. My Time Dining was filled to capacity. Our table ended up being on Deck 4 way, way off in a corner. I think we got the trainee table as service was slow and inefficient. We were being served our dinner when most tables were having dessert or were done dining. The food was ok and they need to hire a new pastry chef. The staff in Adventure Ocean was friendly and had a wide variety of activities planned to keep the kids entertained. I did not like having to walk through the arcade to access Adventure Ocean. Overall, no complaints from about the kids club. The water slide: has limited hours but was a lot of fun for my little one. The weather was chilly while we were cruising and that limited the amount of pool time. The pools are not heated. We made 2 ports of call: Costa Maya and Cozumel. Costa Maya is nothing exceptional. Cozumel is on of the favorite ports of call and Radiance was the 1st of 6 cruise ship to pulling into Cozumel the day we were there. It was a chilly, overcast day but we went to the beach anyways. We ended up coming back to the ship around 11:30am and found the Oasis docked next to us. What a sight! And the massive amount of people coming off the Oasis was impressive. The weather was chilly but a lot warmer then what we left behind. Overall, the cruise was a great getaway but lacking the elegance that cruising once had. We had an early disembarking time slot and were off the ship by 8:50am and at the Tampa airport, via taxi, by 9:15am. Very smooth and efficient. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
My wife and I just returned from our New Year's cruise aboard the Carnival Legend. This was our fifth time cruising with Carnival and we believe that a cruise is as good as we make it. Port and Embarkation: Getting around Tampa ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from our New Year's cruise aboard the Carnival Legend. This was our fifth time cruising with Carnival and we believe that a cruise is as good as we make it. Port and Embarkation: Getting around Tampa and getting to the port is rather uncomplicated. With our party of six, we rented a van and enjoyed Tampa with two days of pre-cruise activities. I was able to transport everyone to the port at about 11 am and then returned the van to the airport. I purchased a one way transportation voucher at the airport and was back to the port by 11:50 am. Embarkation was quick and simple. We were all onboard by 12:45 pm. Dining: As with some other reviews, I would echo that dining was not horribly spectacular. We found the food to be somewhat hit or miss, and unfortunately, it seemed to miss more than hit. The morning and lunch buffets were boring and unimaginative. Although food is readily available, our recommendation to Carnival is to offer less food and improve quality. We enjoyed the Golden Fleece Steak House on New Years Eve and must say that the service, food, and attention we received was fabulous. This is well worth the additional $30 charge per person. Rooms: Carnival rooms are among the best that we have ever experienced at sea. We had an extended balcony cabin and loved the size of our balcony. As we were cruising with friends next door, staff gladly opened the petition between the balconies and we all enjoyed several evenings on the deck together. However, a word of caution to those of you who are light sleepers...our room was on deck eight and you could easily hear the chairs being dragged across the floor on deck nine (lido deck). You could also hear a constant walking during the day. Entertainment: We have always found Carnival entertainment to be pretty good and this cruise was no exception. We really enjoyed all venues. One of our favorite spots was the piano bar with Angela. It was always a small, but lively group of people. The stand up comedy was very good. When they say R rated, they really mean it is R rated! They do not allow anyone under the age of 18 to stay in the theater when one of these shows are going on. Ports of Call: Unfortunately, we were not able to get into Grand Cayman because of bad weather. We visited Roatan, Belize City, and Cozumel. It is becoming more difficult to book tours outside of the cruise line, but with research ahead of time, we were able to book private company tours in each port ahead of time and save considerable money doing so. Debarkation: Debarkation was a breeze with the Legend. We were out of the ship by 10 am. We chose private van transportation that you can purchase right at the terminal when you get off the ship. As a hint, you can buy a one way transfer to the airport for $7 per person if you have a group of five or more. This is a considerable savings compared to what the cruise line charges. The trip was fast. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Wow, there was a cold snap in Tampa over Christmas and couldn't wait to be headed south! We boarded the Inspiration at 11:30 on Monday, Dec. 27 and lunch was already being served on the Lido Deck. We were in Tampa the previous night, ... Read More
Wow, there was a cold snap in Tampa over Christmas and couldn't wait to be headed south! We boarded the Inspiration at 11:30 on Monday, Dec. 27 and lunch was already being served on the Lido Deck. We were in Tampa the previous night, so arrived at the dock earlier that if we had purchased airline tickets through Carnival. Our stateroom was ready at 1:30 as promised. We were greeted immediately by our steward, Arnold, and were made to feel that if there was anything we needed, he was there to assist us. Dinners in the dining room were wonderful, we ate in the Mardi Gras dining room with "Your Time" option. That was far better than an assigned seating, at least for us. We were traveling with our son and daughter-in-law and "your time" accommodated our daily schedules. Our maitre'd was Yusef, and the best waiter in the world: Bonijan!! One night we skipped the dining room in favor of the Brasserie on Lido Deck, which I regret. I preferred the dining room and the service we received there. Also, although it was stated that no beach flip-flops were allowed in the dining room, I was surprised to see that this was not enforced. Oh well.....The dining room was especially busy on New Year's Eve, but the waitstaff supplied us with horns and hats, which added to the festivities. The comedy show on New Year's Eve was good, albeit too short (30 minutes). My only complaint about the ship was that we were unable to find any deck chairs. Apparently one has to arrive on deck at 7:00 a.m. and place towels over the chairs to ensure a spot. That's ok.....we found four on the top deck where the water slide was, and the splashing was pleasant sitting under the (delightfully) hot sun! The seas were a little rocky and my husband, son and daughter-in-law were a little seasick part of the time, but nothing Carnival could do about that. When we disembarked yesterday morning, everything was smooth and orderly, no long lines. We waited in the Paris Lounge after eating breakfast on the Lido Deck; on a scale of 1 to 10, I'm giving this cruise a 9, because nothing's perfect! We've already paid $100 towards our next Carnival cruise, we're that happy with them. In Grand Cayman, we hired a local to take us to Hell and a short tour around the island for $15. Unfortunately, they have small buses that they fill us before leaving - we waited in our bus for almost 45 minutes! Hell is nothing to visit for more than a brief stop for postcards to mail. We wish we would have had some more time on the island, though. The ship shopper/advisor had some good recommendations, although I'd suggest that you read some of the cruise blogs for opinions on some of the shops the Carnival recommends. We had good experiences in Georgetown with shopping. On Cozumel, we opted for the Carnival "Mayan Ruins of Tulum" tour (7 hours). It was fantastic! Our tour guide was very knowledgeable, we had plenty of time to wander around by ourselves. They mention that you can go to the beach while you're there - be advised that you have to climb down many, many steps to get down to the beach and then have to climb back up all those steps! The light snack was a bag of chips and Japanese (!) peanuts, bottle of water. The driver had cold towels waiting for us at the bus, to wipe our hands and faces off - that was a nice treat. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We (my 2 young adult / college kids & I) took our 5th cruise in Dec. 2010 on the Carnival Legend. We have always chosen Carnival since they have the reputation of being for the younger crowd, of being the "party boat", and ... Read More
We (my 2 young adult / college kids & I) took our 5th cruise in Dec. 2010 on the Carnival Legend. We have always chosen Carnival since they have the reputation of being for the younger crowd, of being the "party boat", and because of our teenage & now young adult children. Furthermore, we have been sponsors for high school senior graduation trips; however, having the young crowd was not the case for this sailing. This felt more like a reunion for the class of 1944, as most of the guests were senior citizens and not high school seniors. That being said this older crowd did not deter us from having a great time, just wish there had been more young adults for my kids to "hang" around. We set sail on a rainy Sunday from Tampa and the weather got worse the further we sailed. In fact we had a reported 70mph winds that Sunday night and I believe the reports as most the guest and even the staff did not make it through dinner (me and mine included). We have never had a problem with seasickness but it happens and it can be BAD, so the use of seasickness medicine, patch, band-aid, etc... can be necessary. But use before you start to get sick, as does not work after the fact. When we were loading the boat we were given a change of port days, this was the second change as our travel agent informed us of a change of itinerary the day before we left; however, when we got onboard we were informed of yet another change. We were concerned as we had pre-booked and prepaid for our excursions. Evidently, change of itinerary is not an issue with on shore excursion planners and is almost expected. The next day the "fun day at sea" was not great weather - but bearable. The top deck was not open to guests, as the wind was too bad, but that was not an issue since most of the guest on this ship did not care to sit in the sun or partake in outdoor activities. The second day we were scheduled to stop at Grand Caymans, but the weather did not permit it, but the crew did a good job of entertaining us and had plans for shows and games, etc. plus the casino was open... while we had "fun day at sea #2". A new itinerary was issued by 10am. Finally, on the 3rd day we were allowed to get off the boat and we went to Isla Roatan, Honduras we had pre-booked a zipline / snorkeling adventure through https://www.roatancruiseexcursions.com/ZipSnorkelSecure.html In Honduras to take a private tour you have to walkout of the small port area, past the taxi / rental car area up the hill and down the hill where the locals will be waiting and willing to help and call the tour guide you are looking for. Be sure to have your tour papers / receipt with you. On this tour, a friendly tour guide, Quincy, picked us up in a van he spoke English fluently and had actually been on a mission trip to the U.S. He delivered us to our zipline area. We were told his cousins that would be leading us on this tour. Our zipline guide was "bubble boy", who, by the way, was awesome... these guys were great! They used our camera to take pictures and videos - so take your camera! They also had a photographer on hand to take still photos. We were several times reminded to tip these guys and U.S. cash is the tender they want. After the awesome experience of ziplining through the jungle that overlooks the sea we were picked up my Ken, Quincy's brother, and driven down to a quaint little village of West End where Ken and Quincy's Dad, Sam, guided us on a private snorkeling tour. After snorkeling, Sam suggested some places for us to eat lunch in West End, which were very good. We bought some Cuban cigars from Quincy's Mama. Eventually, Quincy came back picked us up and returned us, in plenty of time to the port area. When I tried to tip him he said "no, no give it to your church." They were a delightful family On day four we ported in Belize. This is a tender stop; so we were tendered into the port". that is a seedy port area. However, this area has great prices on knock-off purses and luggage, etc. We had pre-booked a snorkel trip and a private beach tour. This was through coral breeze tours http://www.coralbreezetours.com it was an interesting trip. The guides / owner were a bit dismayed about our port day being changed and landing on the same day as two other ships; however, they worked it out. This excursion is good - only if you LOVE snorkeling. But it is a LONG day and a lot of swimming and you are expected to keep up with the group, even if you are being kicked and slapped by inexperienced swimmers. You are also expected to swim on your belly and are frowned upon if you decide to swim on your back. You can expect to be yelled at if you are near the corals, as they do not want you near them. You are at this area for a very long time. Then loaded back in the boat and taken to a sandbar area where there are a lot of stingrays and even sharks. YES SHARKS! and you are allowed to touch them. NO THANKS! was my response, plus I was waterlogged and suffering from being kicked in the face, head, gut and every other part of my body. My daughter and I opted out of this adventure and stayed in the boat. But my fearless 23-year-old son got in the water with the stingrays and sharks and petted them. We were then taken to a small island, Caye Caulker, then taken to a small restaurant and provided a descent lunch (sandwiches, and such). However, the order got messed up and not everyone got what he or she had ordered and it took a long time to get the order, even though the order was placed prior to us snorkeling. There is a small town and a small beach area. While we were there (about 1-2 hours) a young small boy (5-7 years old) decided to crawl into a cement birdbath. It broke and the owner of the restaurant was livid! He insisted the father pay a large amount for the birdbath that had obviously been broken prior to this event. When the Father and others pointed this out that there was evidence that this was not the first time of damage. The owner of the restaurant called the police. Ends up the father paid the owner $20 for damages. We were then not on schedule, thus we had to rush to port to meet tender boats in time... whew! I cannot recommend this excursion, as it was not "my cup of tea". I would have rather just stayed on the island and enjoyed the beach, (which is an option) there were also others that got off the snorkel boat and went fishing. We did make it back to the port area to do some quick shopping. On the last ported day of our cruise we went to Cozumel; having been to Cozumel several times we chose to rent a jeep wrangler convertible. We beach hopped and ended up at Mr. Sancho's a private beach that has a bar, restaurant. They offer several amenities, horseback riding, massages on the beach, jet skis, etc... we partook in renting a jet ski and massages on the beach and seriously considered horseback riding. The beach area is clean, has lounge chairs to rent and have very attentive waiters, and the food was good. When we decided we were ready for a change and the kids wanted action we went to Senior Frogs. This is always an experience and is not for goody-2-shoes / families with young children! It is a wildest of a bar atmosphere... Tips If you are leaving bad weather chances are you will be headed in to bad weather Tip #1: Take seasickness meds, patch, etc... until you get too smoother sailing Pre-booked excursions have always been what we prefer, as it saves money and the hassle of being herded around. Tip #2: Pre-book your own excursions Tip #3: Don't worry about itinerary changes it seems to be expected Tip #4: Be sure to have your tour papers / receipt with you Tip #5: Take U.S. cash for your excursions plus some extra to tip your tour guides If you are a slot player it seems more money is won early on in the trip Tip #6: Play the slots the first few days, win some money & walk away! Your clothes will get wrinkled in your suitcase and irons are not allowed they will confiscate them Tip #7: Pack a portable steamer If you are sharing a room with a man and since you are in close quarters you will want a bathroom deodorizer & they will confiscate a candle Tip #8: Pack a can of spray deodorizer In the Truffles Restaurant there is a dessert Chocolate Melting Cake OMG!!! Tip #9: Try the Chocolate Melting Cake It is divine Tip #9A: Ask your waiter / waitress for the recipe he/she will provide The most important tip there is only 1 outlet in your room Tip # 10: pack a power strip Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This was our first holiday cruise, but I don't think it will be our last. Royal's friendly staff and good service made for a relaxing holiday. We were traveling just the two of us (myself and my husband), it's the first ... Read More
This was our first holiday cruise, but I don't think it will be our last. Royal's friendly staff and good service made for a relaxing holiday. We were traveling just the two of us (myself and my husband), it's the first cruise we've taken by ourselves in 12 years. Our other cruises have been with family and/or friends. This was a bit of a second honeymoon as we are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year. We headed to the port via car. It's the first time that we've ever parked at the port, in the past we've always taken shuttles or taxis, and I was a little anxious about how the parking situation would be. This is a very easy port to navigate. We dropped our luggage off with the porter and then utilized the self-parking available directly across the street. There was plenty of parking space and the cost was $70 for the 5 days we were gone. We were parked and on the ship within an hour. Our cabin was a balcony cabin on Deck 9, with easy access to the Solarium and casual dining two floors up and just a few flights down to Deck 5 for the shows in the evening. One of the things we have always liked about the cabins on the Royal Caribbean ships is the storage space. There are cubbies and storage space everywhere. My favorite is the storage behind the angled mirrors. Unpack, slide the luggage under the bed and we were ready for our trip. The Radiance of the Seas is one of the smaller ships, which I personally like the more intimate environment this provides. This was our second time on this ship, having taken this same ship to Alaska last year. Coming back on board felt like coming home. This ship has lots of windows that provide great views almost everywhere you go. I especially like the open air seating at the back of the Windjammer (casual dining room). Grabbing coffee in the morning and sitting out under the shade in the fresh air was a great way to start the day. My biggest complaint about this ship is the basketball court directly over the Windjammer. It makes for a very noisy environment in the dining area, which is yet another reason to take your food to the open air area in the back. The food in the regular dining areas was good as usual, but not exceptional. We were lucky enough to have a table for two. We did go to the specialty restaurant Portifino for Thanksgiving dinner. We chose to go non-traditional and I had a skewer of seafood which included lobster for my Thanksgiving feast. The presentation was impressive, the food was above average from the dining room and the service was impeccable. The tiramisu that I had for dessert was the most elaborate display I have ever had and the taste did not disappoint. It was served in a white and milk chocolate shell, accompanied by a shot of Bailey's & Kahlua with cream on top. One word...delicious. We enjoyed several of the shows while on board. We went to both production shows, one was a compilation of Billy Joel, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Barry Manilow songs. The other was a romantic journey around the world. We especially enjoyed the second production show as the singing and dancing seemed a little more suited for the cast. The highlight show for us, however, was the guest performer Lance Ringnald, who is a former Olympic gymnast. His was a combination of humor and gymnastics. Probably one of the more unique shows we've seen on a ship. Our stateroom attendant Michael, was great. He was very discreet, but attentive. He was probably the most creative stateroom attendant we've had. He went beyond just your standard towel animals and added humor that had us laughing out loud. We came back to our cabin one night to open the bathroom door to find our water closet had towel legs ending with a pair of our shoes. Quite funny. Returning to Tampa, we had the quickest and easiest disembarkation we've ever had. We left our meeting area to disembark at 8:15am and were in our car at 8:45am. The worst part of the trip was the drive home to Georgia with the holiday traffic. For a carefree and relaxing holiday, I would highly recommend taking a cruise. There were lots of families on board, but as a couple we enjoyed a more intimate experience. It was a great break from the rush and frenzy of the holiday season and a prime opportunity to reconnect and remember all we should be thankful for. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
My two grandchildren, 11 1/2 yr old boy and 7 yr old girl, just returned from a 7 day Holland America Western Caribbean cruise. They just loved it. The ports, Key West; Belize City; Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala; and Costa Maya, ... Read More
My two grandchildren, 11 1/2 yr old boy and 7 yr old girl, just returned from a 7 day Holland America Western Caribbean cruise. They just loved it. The ports, Key West; Belize City; Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala; and Costa Maya, Mexico, were wonderful for the kids. They enjoyed Club HAL, the kids' activities. Because of the age difference, they were in different groups, but both enjoyed the time spent with the kids' activities. The staff was wonderful. Between the port excursions and Club HAL, we spent only one full afternoon at the pool, which they also enjoyed. I had hoped to take the kids more often to the dining room, but the service there was slow enough that they became bored, so except for the formal nights and one other, they ate dinner at the self service buffet. I ate there once or twice with them, and twice took them up there for dinner and then to Club HAL, after which I went to the dining room and joined others for dinner. The 11 1/2 year old went with me one evening to hear the comedian, who had been presented as family friendly, and my grandson enjoyed it. I was unhappy that the one evening we might have gone to a movie, it was R-rated. I am not sure why it was chosen for a holiday cruise, which includes many children. The disembarkation was a snap, very smooth and easy. We next stopped at Santo Tomas de Castillo, Guatemala, which is not even on the list provided here. We had arranged to join an excursion organized by a CruiseCritic member, before leaving on the cruise. There were 7 of us in all, on a boat with the guide, the boat driver, and a helper. We travelled about 35 minutes along the coast and then went into Rio Dulce at the town of Livingston. We went up the river, into the rain forest, and found it very interesting and enjoyable. The only form of transportation in that area is on the river, so we saw many people in canoes and small boats with outboard motors. Our guide, Javier, told us that many communities own boats that are shared by community members. At the beginning of our trip up the river, we stopped at the hotel owned by Javier to order our lunches, and then on the way back, we stopped for lunch. My grandson and I had a delicious seafood soup, with a crab, shrimp, and a whole small fried fish. The whole trip was about 7 hours and we had a great time! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
I would first like to begin by saying that our trip on the Ryndam overall was a good. We had a great time and met some wonderful people. My partner and I took this cruise on the suggestion of friends who wanted us to try HAL. We have taken ... Read More
I would first like to begin by saying that our trip on the Ryndam overall was a good. We had a great time and met some wonderful people. My partner and I took this cruise on the suggestion of friends who wanted us to try HAL. We have taken many cruises in the past on several different cruise lines and are big fans of Celebrity. I really had no expectations as we boarded the ship. I knew the ship was older and would not have all the bells and whistles of the newer ships, but we went on this cruise wanting to give HAL a try. We booked a suite on the Navigation Deck. Room 24. I was very impressed by the spaciousness of the suite, the abundant storage space and the huge veranda. The cabin however was a bit warm for us and our cabin steward explained the room would cool down once we left the port of Tampa. Okay. We unpacked and went to lunch at the Lido buffet. I got bad vibes just looking at the food. I had a salad and the lettuce was brown (we had just boarded!) and the food overall not at all appetizing. Okay...dinner will be better. It wasn't. We ate in the dining room only twice during the cruise. It was mediocre to say the least. The service was good but because of the food quality, we ended up eating in the Pinnacle Grill for 5 of the 7 nights. The Pinnacle Grill is the specialty restaurant on board where you pay a service charge of $20 per dinner. I have to say the food and service in the Pinnacle Grill was spectacular! Fine steaks, great seafood, superb wines and I cannot say enough about Anne and her wait staff. They truly made you feel welcome and special. We loved it so much that we ate breakfast there every morning. Truly exceptional. Make reservations immediately upon boarding the ship however, as there is a maximum to the number of guests served per night. Back to the air conditioning. To make a long story short, our room and the adjacent room where are friends stayed, Cabin 22, did without AC for practically the whole cruise. DO NOT BOOK THESES CABINS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. There is nothing that can be done to remedy the problem. We complained and we were pacified but were never told there was a problem with these rooms until we finally met with the ships hotel manager after being treated very rudely by a supervisor at the front desk. We were told it was an old ship and the way the AC system was built, the cabin was at its maximum comfort level. They supplied us with electric fans but it was still unbearable sleeping and changing for dinner. To make up for the inconvenience, we were given a dinner including wine and drinks, service charged waived. It was a nice gesture but it still did not make up for the sleepless nights. Spa facilities are excellent. The staff is great and the massage and accupuncture treatments were fantastic. I also worked with a personal trainer at the gym (Meg) who really helped me with my chronic aching back. She was a life saver! Cabin steward Victor was superb. Very friendly and very attentive. The room was always immaculate. Room service overall was poor. I ordered room service twice and both times waited 45 minutes to get my food delivered to the room. We went to the theatre only one night. It was a Broadway review and it really was done well. So, I had a great time overall but don't think I will book myself on one of the Dam ships again. I've been spoiled by Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
I went on a Western Caribbean cruise on the Ryndam with a family member during Thanksgiving week. This was my second cruise with Holland America, but my fourth cruise total (having sailed with Royal Caribbean and Carnival in the past). ... Read More
I went on a Western Caribbean cruise on the Ryndam with a family member during Thanksgiving week. This was my second cruise with Holland America, but my fourth cruise total (having sailed with Royal Caribbean and Carnival in the past). Overall, it was a good value at $550 per person for the 7-night cruise. We arrived in Tampa the day before the cruise and stayed at the Doubletree Hotel Westshore near the airport. I was able to get a free night using my Hilton Honors rewards points, so that made it an even better experience. Their regular advertised rates started at around $70, which is quite reasonable for a newly renovated Doubletree hotel. Overall, it was a comfortable stay. The hotel was about a 20-minute drive to the cruise port; and we were able to get a free shuttle to the hotel and the cruise port. However, the embarkation process was a lengthier one than I had experienced at previous cruises; we waited what seemed like an hour before being serviced by a customer service rep. Ship: Upon arrival, I noticed that the Ryndam was a lot smaller than what I had expected. I like big ships with lots of room to roam. Nevertheless, I kept an open mind. I later learned that this ship carries about 1200 passengers, which is relatively small compared to the megaton ships being built today (the new Oasis of the Sea carries about 6000). This midsize ship does have its advantages, however. It feels cozier, plus it's easier to navigate or find your way around. In addition, the Ryndam has a more classic European-style atmosphere. At almost every corner, there's an art or antique piece. They even have a self-guided ipod tour of their art collection - which I highly recommend to better appreciate this ship. It's an older ship, which may be obvious to some, but certainly not rundown or tacky. Thanks to recent renovations, one can appreciate both the classic and the contemporary spaces. My personal favorite areas were the Delft Library (lots of books and comfortable chairs) and the Crows Nest Lounge (very hip). Stateroom: We opted for a "guaranteed inside cabin" and ended up in the middle of the ship at the Lower Promenade deck. For an inside cabin (no windows/balconies), this was quite spacious; there was even room for a couch. Holland America has a reputation for having one of the most spacious cabins at sea, and ours was no exception. Also, because our room was in or around the middle of the ship, there was very little to no experience with rocking motion at sea. The only thing I would change is the TV, with a reception that was erratic. Activities: There were plenty of options to do onboard. Each day, there were movies at the Wang Theater, live performances at the Vermeer Lounge, cooking demonstrations at the Culinary Arts Center, and other activities listed on the daily bulletin. I liked going to the gym - to work out all those calories from overeating! I also liked relaxing at the library/cafe and at Crow's Nest Lounge. The posted activities were not as extensive at say a Carnival or Royal Caribbean, but the quality was quite good. Service: The service was usually good. However, when I had requested a blanket due to the cold temperature in our room, no one brought it after many hours. Also, the dining room service was slow at times. During this particular Thanksgiving cruise, the ship was reportedly at full capacity; perhaps that's why it was hit-and-miss at dining. Nevertheless, the staff were mostly friendly and helpful. In particular, the staff at the shore excursions desk were patient and informative when we had to change our plans numerous times. What I didn't like was the organization - or lack thereof- during the special Mariner's Lunch (for repeat HAL cruisers) and the Master Chef night. There was a long wait in the hallway with about 50 people waiting to get in; it could've been better organized, I thought. Dining: I liked most of the food at the Rotterdam dining room, where we had our dinner nightly. There was something for just about anyone, including vegetarians. A few times, I even ordered two dishes on the menu, especially during dessert! Now, if a guest can't find at least one good to eat on the menu, he/she is probably too picky.... The choices at the buffet-style Lido were not as much as I had seen in other cruises though, and the quality of food there was about average. What I really appreciated was the "open seating" option for dining at the Rotterdam. There was a short wait at times, but I liked the flexibility that the open seating plan offers. Entertainment: I saw two shows at the Vermeer Lounge, both of which featured dancers/singers in Las Vegas-style performances. The second show was better than the first. I really enjoyed the spectacular performances at a prior HAL cruise, but the ones on Ryndam were mostly average. This time, I preferred the movies showing at the Wang Theater/Culinary Arts Center - saw "The Proposal" and "Up." Fresh popcorn served too. Port & Shore Excursions: The port stops included Key West, Santo Tomas, Belize City and Costa Maya. We bought shore excursions for Guatemala, Belize and Costa Maya. Save your money on shore excursion at Key West as this is a pedestrian-friendly city with lots to see on foot; if you can't, then go on a Conch Train tour. The other part of the world (Central America) is famous for its jungles, beaches and ruins - so I would recommend going on a tour to see one or all of those things! We did the Quirigua ruins tour in Guatemala; the zipline/canopy tour in Belize; and the jungle beach break in Costa Maya. The best beaches are in Belize and Costa Maya, which are excellent for snorkeling/diving, but I personally didn't do any underwater activities. Although the shore excursions were quite pricey, they did make our vacation much more enriching. Overall, it was a good cruise vacation - and a great value. My advice to future cruisers: shop around for the best cruise and shore excursion deals; know what is most important to you on a cruise vacation - and be flexible and open-minded. If you expect everything to be "perfect", you will be disappointed - and lose out on the joys of traveling. For us, the Ryndam fit our needs; it wasn't perfect, but I would rate it an 8 out of 10 stars for the reasons above. I would also consider returning to a Holland America ship in the future. Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
If you are someone with low expectations then this cruise line may be ok. Never imagined that my christmas would be ruined this way. Let alone my relationship. I was looking for something really wonderful for my first cruise ... Read More
If you are someone with low expectations then this cruise line may be ok. Never imagined that my christmas would be ruined this way. Let alone my relationship. I was looking for something really wonderful for my first cruise experience so I found something for a little over 1200 dollars. It was the biggest waste of my money. first I will start with the good points: -nice ship -really spacey and beautiful room -ports of call (grand cayman and cozumel were fantastic) -didn't feel crowded eventhough it was a full ship heres the bad stuff: -first and foremost the food: I was expecting something decent because I have heard nothing but raving and ranting about the food. it was stale and disgusting and I did not have one thing that didn't taste like day old cafeteria food. This is completely unacceptable. A decent meal is not hard to achieve and shouldn't be on a cruise so expensive. It was not even to the quality of crappy fast food you can get at wendys. Me and my boyfriend are young and really not hard to please.. but my health suffered from all the bad food that I forced myself to swallow. - customer service: Nobody knew what was going on besides the information people and even they had a little confusion. Though it was nice to have people from all around the world (I myself am colombian and love to be around people from different countries), A lot of them spoke little english and were hard to understand. Not one person understood one thing I asked or could carry on a simple request. -Waiter- the waiter was lifeless, not friendly and barely spoke to us. Came over once to check on us if we got lucky that night. The maitre d was nowhere to be seen. -shows and entertainment: Not appropriate for all ages. They had very boring events and then some that were a bit "too" much. Very corny and cheesy contests that were tacky and not entertaining in the least bit. I did not pay 1200 dollars to see harry chests, absolutely ridiculous. Not one event captured our interest or made us happy. Once again I stress upon you that we are not hard to please and on sea days we were miserable. -time in ports of call- we were in grand cayman (the most beautiful place) for barely 2 hours, had lunch and then we were almost late getting back to the ship. what a waste. in cozumel we were there longer but stayed the bare minimum because everything closed down at 4 so the experience was shortened as well. I do have to say that getting off that horrendous ship of annoying employees made those 2-3 hours feel like heaven. Not sure if I am allowed to say this on here but I feel cheated. I feel ripped off and these people took a grab at my money any chance they could... to communicate with someone, to get help, to have a friendly person to talk to. No courteousness whatsoever. I intend to let everyone know what a crap cruise line this is. Please go with someone else. I may never cruise again. They knew nothing about dealing with someone who had diabetes (such as myself) and I am in the process of suing them for ruining my christmas eve. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Parking was great just across the street from the ship. We took some of our smaller luggage (roll-ons) and went in to check in. This went very smoothly and soon we were boarding the ship at around 12:30. Once aboard we were told we ... Read More
Parking was great just across the street from the ship. We took some of our smaller luggage (roll-ons) and went in to check in. This went very smoothly and soon we were boarding the ship at around 12:30. Once aboard we were told we couldn't take our luggage to our room (that was ok) but we would have to check it. Well, they had only two luggage tags left (they were already out of them at a really early time) so we made up our own. The really good thing is our luggage (all of it) was among the first to arrive at our room (Good for them!) After a nice buffet lunch, we proceeded to our rooms around 1:30, took our luggage in and proceeded to tour the ship. The ship is just beautiful and very tastefully decorated, especially the atrium which had fantastic holiday decor (a Christmas tree, a large gingerbread house poinsettias, etc. All could be viewed from many floors above this open area. Dinner in the dining room the first night and the next three were just great. Our waiter Kwasi couldn't have been more friendly and helpful, especially since we had a 5 year old with us. Our family table consisted of folks with different food requirements (2 vegetarians, and another with a health issue) but all were able to find something they could enjoy. The selection on the menu was quite good and the food overall was great! Now the not so good - We all lined up the second day at the appointed time to get off the ship in Key West. The line which snaked up several floors did not move at all for some time. (Ok, maybe the ship hadn't cleared customs) No announcement was made for the delay, and over a half hour later, the line started to move but VERY SLOWLY!! Several people we talked to missed their Cruise tours which had left without them. Hopefully they got reimbursed but, in any event, they still missed what they had wanted and signed up to do. Getting back on the ship was not much better. Another 20 minutes or so to get back on (which was tough since our 5 year old needed to go "potty".) We have never in our previous 12 cruises experienced these kind of delays. (RCL - something you should definitely try to improve) The rooms (we had a Junior Suite for 4) was large enough and had loads of storage space, some of which we never used. The bathtub was a nice addition for our grandson who did use it twice. We ate breakfast and lunches in the buffet which were very family friendly. Food selection was quite good even though it was sometimes hard to find a table for 6. One other thing we must mention - the smoking allowed in lounges and in the casino. As non-smokers we could not enjoy MOST of the lounges at night because of the smokers. We understand that RCL is catering to a younger crowd than we usually travel with, but why encourage them by allowing them to smoke in so many places,turning off those of us who don't smoke and want to enjoy the lounges and casinos? For that reason, we probably would not travel again on RCL ships; Celebrity and Azamara, both owned by RCL, have designated areas for smokers which do NOT include the lounges or casinos. We truly hope RCL will change and correct some of these problems. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Planning - We started planning this vacation about mid-year. After comparing the price of holiday time cruises for a couple of weeks it led us to this cruise due to value. After booking via an internet agency in July, the price of the ... Read More
Planning - We started planning this vacation about mid-year. After comparing the price of holiday time cruises for a couple of weeks it led us to this cruise due to value. After booking via an internet agency in July, the price of the cruise dropped TWICE. The first I feel was due to the economy and the second to fill the ship. The first time our cruise was not paid off yet and Carnival was kind enough to adjust our price. The second time our cruise was paid in full and Carnival was kind enough to give us an onboard credit for the difference. Later, Carnival dropped the fuel surcharge and gave us onboard credit for that. It would be an understatement to say that Carnival and our agent were very accommodating with our booking. Please note that you must keep up with the price of your cruise and call and ASK for the discount/credit - it DOES NOT happen automatically (except for the fuel surcharge)! Airport to Cruiseport taxi was just $24. Embarkation - We arrived Christmas Day and were the second family there and only waited about 20 minutes before we were shuffled through and awaiting to board. We were on the ship about 30 minutes later. This was a great experience compared to past experience. The Inspiration - My first impression was very clean and well maintained! We do not drink but still found the "welcome aboard" complimentary glasses of champagne a nice jester but eventually got tired of saying "no thank you" due to the many, many offers. We walk around the ship to get oriented and I suggest everyone do the same. You are not able to walk front to aft on most levels/floors so learning the maze if very helpful. Stateroom - Our cabin was roomy even with 2 kids (14 & 10). The beds were very comfortable! Bathroom was basic and watch out because the hot water is HOT! Sometimes we could not mix enough cold water in. Our cabin was ALWAYS well taken care of. The towel animals prompted me and my daughter to go to the demonstration on how to fold them. Room service was prompt and tasty. Food - We ate most breakfast and lunch meals at the buffet and found it quite pleasing. We did eat one breakfast in the dining room and the Eggs Benedict was awesome! For the evening meals we ate in the dining room. We sat with the most amazing family from Virginia! We couldn't wait each night to get to see them again! We know we will see them again some time down the road! OK back to the food. The dinner meals were delicious! Everything prepared nicely. The appetizers were all great. Main dishes were hard to choose from so I ordered two and the waitress was happy to bring both (she was very kind, informative and delightful!). On lobster night my son ate two entire meals. The Chocolate Melting Cake is the ultimate dessert! It is hard to order anything else, but try them all. If you want to see how challenging it is to feed over 2,000 three meals a day take the Galley Tour. (It should be mandatory for those that discredit the food in their reviews!). This ship has a FREE sushi bar that opens around 5:30 pm each afternoon. Get there early - the line gets long quick but it's worth the wait! Entertainment - Maybe not Vegas quality but you are not paying $100 a ticket. The singers were very talented as were the dancers. The orchestra put out a big band sound with only 8-10 musicians. The shows were put together well. The magician was good and the comedian was even better. We did not attend the late version of the comedian and appreciated the Cruise Director's warning that it was not appropriate for kids. Karaoke was fun. Trivia was also. For the kids - AWESOME! The ship offers many things for kids and it looked like all the kids were enjoying them! (This cruise has a lot of kids onboard so if this is something you don't care for - find another cruise) Formal Night - We had the onboard credit so we rented tuxedos for me and my son. If you do this, do it online before you go or first thing on the ship. There inventory is small and they may run out of your size. We met the captain and went to the dining room where just like every night Wilson (our Maitre' d) welcomed us. Cozumel - This was the second cruise to Cozumel for the wife and I so we were able to plan our visit better. We went to Chankanaab National Park and snorkeled. I have heard there are better places off shore to snorkel but this was our first time and this place was perfect for us. Beautiful fish, some nice coral reef and other things to do inside the park also. The taxi was $10 and admission was $49 for the four of us. Snorkel gear and life vest were $15 each to rent. We returned to the ship for a late lunch and then in to town for shopping. We had experienced the hounding of the store workers last trip so this was short and again unpleasant. So we went back to the pier and bought our stuff then got back on the ship. Disembarkation- Very quick and easy! Do the one where you take your own luggage! Show up early as they start before the time given. In summary, we had a great time! This is a 3 star cruise ship and you cannot expect it to compare with a 5 star. For the price this is an AWESOME cruise, do not hesitate to book this cruise. I found it to be nothing like some of the negative comments in a few of the previous reviews. If I had to complain about anything it would be the constant solicitation of having your picture taken. A simple "no thank you" took care of each. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
We took our first cruise on December 21, 2008, on the Carnival Legend. We had no idea what to expect and tried to go into the experience with an open mind. First off, we waited in a fairly long line to board, which was longer than ... Read More
We took our first cruise on December 21, 2008, on the Carnival Legend. We had no idea what to expect and tried to go into the experience with an open mind. First off, we waited in a fairly long line to board, which was longer than expected. The staff was friendly and things proceeded at a reasonable pace. Once on board, we immediately tipped our room steward as suggested in many reviews. Personally, I don't know if I would do it again as our steward acted like it was expected. He didn't say much nor did he ask if we had any special needs/requests. That was my first disappointment. He just wanted us to sign his paper that he had explained things to us. Of course, he didn't explain anything. Our room was an extended balcony over the life boats. The room was bigger than we expected, very clean, and comfortable. After the steward opened the fridge, it was up to us to empty it and keep those items until the end of the cruise. The fridge NEVER got any of our drinks cold. I kept cans of pop right next to the coils and still, barely cooled. There was no adjustment for the temp. At least we had a fridge and brought our own drinks. We carried on a big case of water, 2-packs of soda, and a pack of ice tea. We had no problems. Most was in our bags except the case of water. As long as the bottles are unopened, you could bring them through security. They did not check closely. We set off to explore the ship and wait for our luggage. Getting around on the ship is easy and the staff is very helpful if you need directions. The lunch buffets were very busy and crowded. We explored the upper decks and even met people from our home town! Small world! The ship was very clean and spacious. We didn't feel crowded in most public spaces. We had our mandatory muster to the life boats. This went smoothly except for a few rude people who shoved us down the stairs with no apologies. Perhaps I'm too old fashioned, but an overall theme was rudeness amongst the guests. Our first dinner was great! The food was good and our table-mates were delightful. We seemed to be matched up perfectly as we had common interests. Then we discovered, it was simply by room numbers. LOL! Go figure! I had the black forest dessert which was absolutely delicious and I highly recommend it. If you are a chocoholic like me, you'll be stuck with the chocolate melting cake most nights. There was a killer chocolate raspberry pie at lunch one day that was to die for good! Don't miss it! Our drink "steward" at dinner was Vladimir. He was wonderful and had a great personality. After one night, he had our names and drink choices down pat. It was great! I loved the Carnival punch, no alcohol. I now understand why many people want the punch returned to the "free drink" list. It's great! Compared to a river cruise I took in Europe, the food was good but not fantastic on the Legend. We found our best food in the main dining room, so we had many of our breakfasts there. It was not crowded and the food was better, much better. The lunch buffets were always crowded and the food wasn't really hot, temperature wise. Our biggest lunch time disappointment was the unruly children running about the place. We were appalled that parents, albeit only a few let their children run wild. And I mean wild! Our day at sea was pleasant. There are lots and lots of things to do, depending on your interests. The Vegas style evening shows were fabulous and shouldn't be missed. My husband enjoyed the comedy, especially the late night comedy. I missed several shows because the slight rocking of the ship put me right to sleep! The ships are not "stand still" smooth. You will have some roll and rocking. Not bad, just enough that you feel like a drunk trying to walk around! I noticed that most people had "the patch" behind their ears and heard of only a few that was really sick. We both did just fine and didn't need the patch. Our first port was the Grand Cayman Island. We had booked an independent tour. The ship announced that their snorkeling and Sting Ray excursions were canceled. We had to go ashore and contact our independent tour. We began to panic a bit trying to figure out how to contact them. I politely asked a nice lady at a jewelry store if I could possibly make a local call. She was very kind and dialed the number for us. I spoke with our tour company and we were canceled, too. As I understood, the government will close down the reefs, etc when the seas are too rough. So we spent the day wondering town, going through shops. Pretty much what we expected, touristy yet interesting. We went back to the ship for lunch and stayed there. Our next port was Cozumel where we booked a Carnival excursion to the Tulum Mayan Ruins. It was interesting. The trip included a 30 minute stop at the tour company's rest stop, aka tourist store. The tour of the site was okay, but not much detail and hard to hear the guide as we were in bus sized groups. We had about 1 1/2 hours on our own to explore (not nearly enough time) and then be back to the bus. There were also shops set-up at the bus staging area, prices were quite high. Carnival did provide a snack and cold bottle of water which was very nice on the ride back. We had wanted to take a private tour of Tulum, but the time in port and the length of the tour were too close. I had read on other sites about people in a panic to not miss the ship, so we opted for a ship-led tour. As we left our anchorage, the ship was turned around and starting to leave as a tender boat raced up. A few passengers and a ship's officer boarded. I'm sure those passengers were thankful that they were with a ship's officer! Our next port was Belize on Christmas day. We booked a private tour with the "Action Boys of Belize". Our tour was for the zip-line and cave tubing. Carnival did not offer either one because of the recent death of a tourist on a cave tubing trip. To our delight, we were paired up with a tour guide, Peter, just my husband and I. This was a complete surprise! We quickly saw why others have said not to leave the tourist area unattended. Belize is very rough and life is quite basic. We made our drive through town and out into the countryside. The land is beautiful and Peter kept us informed throughout the hour plus drive to the site. Upon arrival we learned that the zip-line was down. I later quizzed our guide and learned that the zip-line has been closed for quite some time. He offered several options including an extended cave tubing trip, a visit to the zoo, and lunch. We took the longer cave tubing which ended up being a MUST do! If you are going cave tubing in Belize, make absolutely sure you take the two cave option or insist on it. We were the only people in the first cave. Absolutely peaceful and beautiful! The enjoyed the slow and easy float through the cave as Peter talked to us about Mayan history and much more. We also enjoyed some silence to listen to the eerie water dripping down in the cave. Pretty cool! We then entered the area between caves and witnessed the perils of booking with the cruise company, aka bus groups. OMG! Peter told us it can take up to an hour to get that sized group into the water. I have no idea how many guides they had compared to people floating, but it didn't look good. Our trip through the second cave was rushed because of the tons of people pouring in from the bus groups. This cave also has the shallower water, hence, the "bottoms up" phrase. Going through the first cave was well worth the extra walk and it's a truly must do. We did not opt for the zoo or lunch stop, we wanted to get back to the ship. Because the zip-line was shut down, Peter gave us a discount which was very fair. We ended up giving most of it back in a tip because the trip and service were absolutely wonderful! I highly recommend the Action Boys of Belize! Our last stop was the Island of Roatan, Honduras. We took Carnival's adventure snorkel and kayak trip. The trip guide/owner was originally from Chicago. He did a great job driving us from the port to his place of business. There we were divided into two groups of about 12-15 people each. We chose to snorkel in the morning and kayak in the afternoon. The snorkel was our first and I felt very safe. Because we were beginners, one guide stayed by my side the entire time. I think there were at least 3 guides in the water and one in a kayak. My husband saw a lobster that was huge having antennae as wide as a car hood! The afternoon kayak wasn't anything special, but still enjoyable. One big thing I learned about shore excursions is to talk to the shore excursion staff. We chatted with a young man about the options in Roatan and asked what HE would take if he were going ashore and didn't want to be crowded. He suggested the tour we took and he was right on the money! Our last sea day was relaxing yet disappointing because we'd be back to port soon. It was nice to be spoiled by not cooking or cleaning for a week! Over all, we may do another cruise, but not over the Holidays. The ship was clean, well kept, and enjoyable. As many would say, you get out of it what you chose to. All in all we had a good time and enjoyed the ports of call. The majority of people we encountered on the ship were friendly, kind, and a delight to chat with. The sites and ports were amazing and made for a wonderful break from the snow up north! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
This was my family's (husband, two sons in their 20's and daughter,14) 3rd cruise, and while it had its good points, Carnival wasn't nearly as nice as Royal Caribbean (Eastern Caribbean) or Celebrity (Alaska). We went ... Read More
This was my family's (husband, two sons in their 20's and daughter,14) 3rd cruise, and while it had its good points, Carnival wasn't nearly as nice as Royal Caribbean (Eastern Caribbean) or Celebrity (Alaska). We went over New Year's, departing 12/28 and stopping at Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize, and Roatan. We'd read some very positive reviews of the Legend, and the fact that Carnival allowed us to use our credit card "rewards points" to pay for a substantial portion contributed to our choice of this cruise. As far as cost, other than the ability to use rewards points on Carnival, I don't think there is a very significant price difference. Even with the rewards points, this was not a cheap vacation so if I had it to do over again I'd choose a different line. Embarkation: Excellent. Well run, prompt and pleasant. Cleanliness/maintenance of ship: The ship is very attractive and the support staff is wonderful. Everywhere you turned there was a smiling worker cleaning something. There were some signs of wear in the ship's furniture, carpets, etc., but overall it looked really nice. Our stateroom was also clean and attractive, about average size for a 3 person room with a balcony. My sons' room had a whistling sound coming from the door to their balcony. They called maintenance and within minutes someone came and fixed it. Dining: Our dining room waiter and his assistant were a high point of the cruise so charming and cheerful they made an otherwise substandard dining experience fun and enjoyable. The dining room is extremely noisy and crowded much more like a busy deli than a fine restaurant. The fact that they gave the food fancy, names ("delice de la ocean" for example) did not disguise the the mostly mediocre fare. There was some type of steak served each night. The ribeye I ordered the first night was covered with gravy that made the dish taste reasonably good, but the meat was tough. My husband described it as "a steak you get for $11.95 at a chain restaurant." I didn't order steak thereafter, but other family members did, with mixed results. The lobster tail served on the 2nd night was also just o.k. a bit chewy and not much flavor. After that I stuck with basic choices like shrimp and butter sauce, which was quite enjoyable. Our waiter promptly and cheerfully brought something else if we didn't like what we ordered, so overall I was happy. My family had a much lower opinion of the food. They'd absolutely loved the elegance and food quality on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, and were really disappointed this time around. Food outside dining room: As with all cruises, there was a ton of food served throughout the day. Lido deck had the breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets, a hot dog and hamburger station with fries, onion rings and fixings, a deli that was open most of the afternoon/evening, and 24 hour pizza and soft ice cream stations. The deli was a high point really tasty hot pastrami sandwiches. I also liked the salad bar at lunch. Hot breakfasts were a low point. I stood in a short line for an ok custom omelette one morning, but all of the other hot food items looked unappetizing. There were round, flat, potato disks that looked like an inferior imitation of tater tots, some grey meat in gluey white sauce, etc. I'm a person who genuinely enjoys the breakfasts you get as part of your room rate at places like Hampton Inn, and Comfort Inn, so when I tell you that much of this food looked too gross to eat, that's saying something. There were lots of people happily chowing down though, so maybe it wasn't as bad as it looked. I very much enjoyed the fresh fruit and whole grain bread each morning, so even at breakfast there were good options available. Here too, my family had a less favorable opinion. My sons felt that the Lido deck food was generally equivalent to a college cafeteria, and sometimes not even as good. Overall, if you're looking for the high quality, beautifully presented food they have on other ships, you'll probably be disappointed, but if you're happy with reasonably tasty food served cheerfully you'll be fine. One Food Experience With No Redeeming Qualities: The only midnight buffet I visited on this trip was on New Year's Eve. I recalled the special "grand" midnight buffet presented on one night of each our previous cruises (one had huge intricate ice sculptures, elaborate fruit and vegetable carvings so beautifully displayed that passengers were invited in beforehand to take photos, with freshly carved lamb chops, and platters of jumbo shrimp and cold lobster tail...) Since it was New Year's Eve, I hoped for something a bit special on this cruise also, although Carnival's description of a "mini gala buffet" let me know not to expect anything too grand. The New Year's Eve "mini gala" was a truly pitiful display: "2009" was carved in ice with a couple of small veggie/fruit carvings. The steam table food looked too vile to even consider tasting some kind of broccoli/cauliflower combo in white sauce, sad looking pasta and a couple of other unappetizing items. Carnival did provide complimentary champagne along with some very loud music to bring in the New Year, but in my opinion the "gala celebration" was really third-rate, Spa and Fitness: The fitness room was beautiful one of the nicest features of the ship. Equipment was well maintained and there were enough of the popular machines to go around. My daughter and I took a yoga class which was excellent and we were charged a very modest fee of $10 each. I wish there were more classes offered at various times both on sea days and on port evenings/early mornings. There is also a complimentary sauna and whirlpool which I didn't take advantage of. My daughter and I also booked spa treatments a mix n match package of mini facial, and mini massages of hands, feet, scalp, neck and shoulders reasonably priced at around $100. My daughter's technician was very good, but mine was one of only two staff members on the entire cruise who was not particularly pleasant or helpful. Her idea of a scalp massage was to move the palm of her hand in a circular motion on the top of my head while gazing into the distance with a glazed expression. With the right technician the mix n match treatment could be very enjoyable, and it was even more affordable on port days. I gave the fitness and recreation a rating of 3. The fitness room was great but the "recreation" was lacking. Excursions: Unlike other cruises, Carnival provided almost no information about their destinations other than the location and type of Carnival-approved shops in port. I'm not aware of any seminars by Carnival about the culture or environment of these countries they basically just gave you a map of shopping destinations. Both on and off the ship you are inundated with fliers and announcements and promotions for Diamonds International to the point that I would never, ever consider buying anything from them. As a general rule, it costs a lot more to book tours through the cruise line as opposed to doing things on your own or through a private company. There are advantages to booking though the cruise line, of course: 1) If there's a delay and you don't get back until after the scheduled ship departure, the cruise line will wait for a tour booked though them. They will otherwise leave without you. I wouldn't recommend taking a private tour that finishes close to the time you are scheduled to be back on the ship. 2) There are risks involved with taking a tour with an unknown guide, both in terms of safety and also of the quality of the experience. It is perfectly appropriate, even desirable, for the cruise line to warn you of potential risks and to let you know that they take no responsibility for private tour companies. However, I feel that Carnival goes beyond appropriate warnings in discouraging participation in excursions that are not provided through their company. WARNING BELIZE POLICY: The real reason I took the time to write this review is so others can hopefully avoid the situation faced by my family when we went to Belize. The ship arrives in Belize at 8:00 a.m. and departs at 5:00 p.m. This is a shorter time than it appears. Carnival (and I believe all other lines as well) must use tenders in Belize. The first tender goes to Belize at 8:00 (getting you there in around 20 minutes) and the last tender leaves Belize at 4:00. However, CARNIVAL WILL ONLY LET PASSENGERS WHO'VE ALREADY BOOKED TOURS ONTO THE EARLY TENDERS. If you have not booked a tour, you must wait until AFTER 9:30. THEN, you must go somewhere to get a ticket and WAIT SOME MORE until it is your turn to take a tender. This can take an additional 1/2 hour or more. As a result, unless you've booked a tour you will lose 11/2 - 2 hours of port time in Belize. Instead of a full 9 hour day you will have only around 5 hours. My family had read about cave tubing in Belize (described by many as a highlight of their trip) and we planned to use a private company for this excursion. Carnival used to run a cave tubing tour, but no longer does. We were told by the excursion desk representative that this was because of "an incident" which occurred with a passenger from another cruise line. When we asked the representative if the private tours ran for 7 hours like the Carnival tour did, she nodded and said, "Yes. It's a full day." (Actually the private tour was only around 4-41/2 hours. Others from our ship went on it and loved it, but we learned this too late.) We didn't receive information about Carnival's tender policy until very late on the night prior to arrival in Belize. At that point it was too late to book a Carnival tour of any kind and (we incorrectly believed) they would not let us off the ship in time to take the private cave tubing tour. The Purser's desk representative, unfortunately, was the other indifferent, unhelpful staff member on the ship. He said he couldn't help us get off the ship earlier and he clearly saw no problem with the ship's policy of telling passengers late on the night before arrival that their port time would be reduced by 20% unless they'd booked a tour for the following day. Debarkation: A nightmare and a safety hazard. We chose to "self-assist" which means that we took our bags off the ship ourselves instead of putting them out the night before and having the crew take them down for us. We thought this would be faster. Instead, all of the self-assist passengers were called at the same time. Everyone was backed up to the point that when we got off the elevator at the proper floor there was no where to go. People kept coming off the elevator, with more and more of us crammed onto an overheated landing, each with all of his/her luggage, unable to go upstairs or down. The amount of time we stood there (around 40 minutes) wasn't all that bad, but the conditions were horrible and frightening. There was no staff member in sight, so no explanation of what was going on. We had no idea of how much longer it would take. It was difficult to breathe and I'm surprised that no one passed out. My son was wedged into a corner and when we finally started moving he was far behind the rest of the family. When he got downstairs and tried to catch up with us an attendant began yelling at him, telling him he was "cutting" and had to go to the back of the line. My husband's verbal response to this was.....unpleasant. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
The public areas of the Veendam are beautiful and our stateroom was comfortable. One of the things I love about HAL ships is the number of public spaces, both inside and out, to sit and enjoy the scenery and the sun. The other passengers ... Read More
The public areas of the Veendam are beautiful and our stateroom was comfortable. One of the things I love about HAL ships is the number of public spaces, both inside and out, to sit and enjoy the scenery and the sun. The other passengers were a great mix of well-behaved families. The only minor negatives were AYWD (which doesn't work well when the ship is at full capacity) and unreliable room service delivery (after two times without food we gave up). After the upcoming drydock, and with a little improvement in the food service management, the Veendam would be perfect! After some anxiety about flying through Seattle, which had some big winter storms, we arrived in Florida as scheduled. We spent the night before the cruise at the Tampa Waterside Marriott, which was very nice. We stopped at Total Wine and bought several bottles for the cruise and then had dinner in Ybor City. In the morning we could see the Veendam from our hotel window. The Marriott has a Hertz desk, which made it easy to return our rental car. We arrived at the pier about 11:30 and were told that boarding would begin at 2:00 p.m. because the ship was being sanitized after a norovirus outbreak. HAL had arranged for a deal on admission at the nearby aquarium, but we opted to sit and play cards. Boarding started at 2:00 as promised, and we were in group #8 to board. Staterooms weren't ready, so we went right to the Lido for our first delicious lunch. At that point it was not crowded, but the Lido got quite jammed as more people boarded in a short time. Since the ship was in Code Red, the buffet was not self-serve (even for water and coffee), which slowed service down a bit, but to stay healthy I was happy to avoid touching spoons that others had touched. The shortened embarkation time threw our usual Day 1 routine off schedule; by the time we got to the spa, there were no more massage appointments for the first sea day. Oh well. After the lifeboat drill, we went to the aft pool for sailaway and a margarita - HAL cocktails are soooo good! Then on to dinner in the dining room, which tonight entailed only a short wait. Food and service were good, as always. We made it to the show, which involved a comedian who was somewhat funny. By the time we returned to our stateroom, all of our luggage had been delivered and we unpacked. We had an aft outside stateroom on the A deck, category FF. The bathroom had seen better days - definitely in need of the upcoming refurbishment. The bed was very comfortable, and the storage space was great. DD and I do not travel light - the three of us had 5 suitcases and 3 small rolling carry-ons, but it all fit in the closets and underbed drawers, and all the empty luggage fit under the bed. The air conditioner worked fine. Other than the beat-up bathroom, the only problem with the stateroom was a frequent odor issue. I love an aft cabin and the easy access to the Lido and the aft pool. Monday we stopped in Key West. It was a beautiful day - like almost every other day on this cruise. We took the trolley tour, shopped for the items we forgot - air freshener spray and an extension cord, and walked down Duval Street. We were back on board for some pool time before a beautiful sunset sailaway. Our wonderful room steward had brought us a wine bucket and ice so we could chill our wine before dinner. There were a few new passengers (and their luggage) waiting to board in Key West, whose arrival in Tampa must have been delayed. Monday evening we had our first delicious meal at the Pinnacle Grill (booked online before the cruise). The PG beef is incredibly good and the desserts (chocolate soufflE and Cherry Garcia Baked Alaska) were great too. Monday night's show featured the Veendam singers and dancers in a tribute to Broadway. We saw several Broadway shows this year, and I thought that the Veendam entertainers were Broadway quality. Very enjoyable. Tuesday was our first sea day. After breakfast in the dining room, we found lounge chairs on the stern of Deck 9, just below the aft pool, a very peaceful spot. At 3:00 I went to the martini class, which unfortunately conflicted with the Indonesian tea service. So many cocktails, so little time. Unfortunately, we could not get dinner reservations that morning (except for 8:30), and ended up waiting about 45 minutes for a table. A note on AYWD: We'd requested the early traditional dinner seating when we booked in March, but got AYWD. I was open to the concept, but AYWD did not work well on this cruise. The ship was at full capacity since it was a holiday cruise, and there were several large family groups with multiple tables, which probably upset the dynamics of AYWD. If there are 1200 people on board and 75% of them eat dinner in the dining room, AYWD probably works relatively smoothly. If there are 1450 people on board and a higher percentage of them eat in the dining room, it doesn't work so well. When it worked for our schedule, we reserved a table for 5:30. On the two occasions that we preferred to eat later, we waited 45-60 minutes for a table (so much for eating as we wished). We were never offered a pager, perhaps because of the Code Red situation. The maitre de was one of the few unfriendly staff I encountered - he had an attitude like we weren't quite good enough to eat in his restaurant. That didn't help the situation. My DD (on her 4th cruise since age 8) missed having a personal connection with an assigned waiter. She is a picky eater, so perhaps it is easier for her to order from the same person every night. She did have trouble finding food to eat on this cruise and ended up ordering pasta almost every night. The menu choices were just too adventurous for her, but the waitstaff was very willing to accommodate her requests for non-menu items like marinara sauce. I had no problem at all finding food to eat. Once we were seated, the food and the service were both good. I did not think that the selection on the menu was as good as the Zaandam in 2006, but perhaps my expectations were higher on this cruise. I did not go hungry. Tuesday night's show was an illusionist duo who were very impressive. How do they do that? Wednesday we stopped in Belize, which involves a looong tender ride. We were on one of the first tenders and had arranged for a combo shore excursion - ATV ride and cavetubing - with Yhony. He was waiting for us when we disembarked, and sent us off with a great guide (Richard) for a short tour of Belize City on the way to the ATV site. The ride was muddy and lots of fun. The cavetubing was different from anything I've ever experienced, but crowded and chaotic. Next time I'd go to a beach instead. Wednesday the Code Red was lifted. It was very interesting to see how much reappeared: salt and pepper shakers, bread baskets, self service in the Lido, the taco bar at the Lido pool, magazines in the library, the fruit basket in our stateroom, nuts and appetizers in the lounges, cloth towels in the restrooms, pool towels readily available, basketballs, etc. Wednesday was New Year's Eve, one of the highlights of the cruise. It was formal night, so we got dressed up and had pictures taken. Because we left the ship before the 8:00 a.m. dinner reservation time, we did not have dinner reservations. When I called in the afternoon, they said that getting a table anytime after about 7:45 should be fine. Fortunately, we went to the dining room about 7:30, before the early show ended. We waited for almost an hour (and were not offered a pager) and while we waited the line eventually extended past the elevators. Finally the three of us were seated at two adjacent 2-tops, with an aisle in between. Service was very slow; clearly they were just overwhelmed when everyone chose to eat in the dining room on new year's eve. Perhaps on full capacity cruises - and especially on special nights - HAL should return to assigned dining. We went to the show lounge at 11:00 for the New Year's Eve party, which was the best NYE party I have ever attended. Hats, necklaces and noisemakers were handed out at the door, the ship's bell was placed on the stage to be rung at midnight, VJ and the Hal Cats played great music, the officers danced, and there was a balloon drop at midnight. What a way to start the new year! Thursday we stopped in Costa Maya. We rented jet skis, which DD loved, and went out on a one-hour snorkel trip. Fortunately we managed to do this before the downpour, our only rain on the trip. The beach in Mahahual is pretty, but walking down the malecon there was a constant barrage from the locals. Voyager of the Seas was also docked at Costa Maya, so the port itself was crowded, and the shopping was ridiculous. (At one store I asked the price of a pair of earrings, and was told $35; I returned a few minutes later with money, and a different clerk said $90, but for me $75. Such a deal!) We had the good sense to make a 5:30 dinner reservation and dinner was again delicious. The show was a violinist. Friday was our last stop, Roatan. What a beautiful island! A large Carnival ship was docked, so the Veendam tendered, which was a slow process because it was too shallow for more than one tender at a time. Luckily,we have learned to get ready early on tender days, and we were on the second tender (even after waiting for room service breakfast that never came). We'd arranged for a private tour with Bodden Tours, and we couldn't have chosen better. We had an island tour with a great guide (Norma), and then brief stops at West End and West Bay Beach before heading back to the ship at 11:00. The last tender was supposed to be at 11:30, but so many people returned at the same time that it took another hour to get everybody on board. We hung out by the aft pool for sailaway, and the music ended before the anchor was lifted. Friday DD and I finally had our massages, and then I went to a flower arranging class, which was very interesting. Friday was the second formal night, and again we made a 5:30 dinner reservation and dinner was good. The show was the Veendam singers and dancers, and just as good as the first one. We finally made it up to the Crow's Nest, where VJ and the Hal Cats were playing; they are really good. Saturday was the second sea day and after the embarkation talk and the Mariners' lunch we hung out at the aft pool again, soaking up the sun and watching some silly pool games. After packing, we had our second dinner at the Pinnacle Grill, which was again excellent. The show was an encore performance by the illusionists, violinist and comedian. Sunday we had silent disembarkation, which was a breeze. Our time was 8:30 - 9:00, and about 8:40 we were ready to go and walked right off the ship. Our luggage was easy to find, and National Rent-a-Car had a shuttle waiting. The cruise was a great way to pack a lot of sightseeing into a week, but it's the service that makes HAL a great cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Carnival Legend 12/28/08 - 1/4/09 Western Caribbean RT Tampa, FL Background: Here is a little background about me and my experience cruising. This was my 30th cruise, and 18th on Carnival. I have also cruised with Royal Caribbean, ... Read More
Carnival Legend 12/28/08 - 1/4/09 Western Caribbean RT Tampa, FL Background: Here is a little background about me and my experience cruising. This was my 30th cruise, and 18th on Carnival. I have also cruised with Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Princess, Celebrity, NCL, Majesty, and Premier. This was my first cruise over New Years, and I really enjoyed that part of the trip. We traveled with a group of 6 on this cruise: my parents, grandmother, great aunt, my sister and myself. Overall, this was one of the better cruises I have taken. In my opinion, the 7-night and longer Carnival product is one of the best in the industry, and certainly on par, if not better with RCI, Princess, and HAL. My last cruise on HAL was a relative disappointment compared to this trip. I'm not going to hit on the itinerary much, as we've been to each of the ports of call multiple times (Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize, and Roatan). Embarkation: We arrived at the Port of Tampa at around 11:30am. Since we are Platinum guests, we proceeded to the VIP Check-in area where we were checked in and escorted aboard the ship. From the time we arrived at the pier to the time we were on the ship was no more than 15 minutes. Service: Service on board was tremendous all week. Our cabin steward was one of the best I've had. Service in the bars and lounges was prompt, courteous, and friendly. Many bartenders knew my name and my drinks by the 3rd day of the cruise. Service in the main dining room was very good as well. Though not as personable as some servers, our waiter team brought our food out in timely fashion without mistakes all week. The bar service in the Main Dining Room was extremely good as well - my Aunt "must have" a can of Coke with dinner every night, and the bar server made sure the Coke was waiting in her spot every night. The Maitre'D was extremely friendly and personable. He made it a point to visit our table every night, and we were impressed by that feat. Finally, service in the Supper Club was exceptional. I ate two nights in the Golden Fleece, and the service we received from our team of waiters, led by Katarina was second to none. Cabin: My sister and I shared an interior cabin, a 4D cabin #7270. It was adequate for 2 people. The beds were very comfortable, and it was kept clean all week by the room steward. It was pretty much exactly what I had expected. My parents had a balcony cabin #7244. The had a nasty odor in the room for the first two days, but after a few complaints to the Pursers' Desk and a couple of visits from the Purser to check out the odor, they were moved to another room. We were all very impressed with the responsiveness and caring that the Purser's Desk showed during the whole process. They had stewards move my parents things down to the new room, and provided them with a substantial on board credit for the inconvenience. The grandmother and Great Aunt stayed in cabin 7260 - a 8G, wheelchair accessible cabin with a HUGE balcony. This worked great for the two as the room really made life easier for both of them. Cabin 7260 has a balcony that is 3 times the size of a standard extended balcony room, as does cabin 7258 on the Legend. We had 7258 the last time we were on the Legend, and I recommend that room over any non-suite cabin on the ship! Entertainment: Entertainment was solid all week. I didn't go to many of the shows, so I can't personally comment on them, but some of my family did go and seemed to enjoy them. The comedians during the week were hit and miss. A couple were great, but one guy bombed. There were plenty of activities going on throughout the ship at all times it seemed. Since there were only two sea days, they seemed to fly by. Cruise Director Shawn Bussey had everything in line, and was very friendly. Nightlife: Since this was my second time on the Legend, I knew basically what to expect from nightlife on this ship. There is plenty to do, but it's generally not as lively as night as a Conquest-class ship would be. Nightlife activities included the Piano Bar (and the piano player was abysmal), Satchmo's (my favorite - great band playing 80s music), the Casino (I stayed away), and Medusa's Lair (the club / disco - never seemed to get going on this cruise). The layout of the Legend is not very conducive to match the level of nightlife found on other Carnival ships simply because the main "Club" is located on the aft part of the ship while the other venues are forward. More people seemed to be out on formal nights, and with the exception of New Years' Eve, the ship was relatively dead. Food: I'll break the food up in three categories, because they deserve to be recognized individually. Truffles Dining Room: We were seated for late seating at a table of 6 during this cruise, just as we had requested. We dined in Truffles 5 times for dinner. The food was among the best I've had in the Main Dining Room. Carnival seems to be constantly improving the quality and presentation of their food in the main dining room. Appetizers and Soups were wonderful. The Ceasar Salad was the best I've had on a ship. The entrees were great - I love the seafood. Desserts were very good as well. We also enjoyed one lunch and two breakfasts in the Main Dining Room. I especially enjoyed the breakfasts, as the Eggs Benedict was wonderful. Golden Fleece Supper Club: We set our reservation the day we embarked for New Years' Eve. As mentioned before, the service was phenomenal, as was the food. Everyone in our party ordered steaks, and they were all cooked perfectly. I ordered the Crab Cake, Ceasar Salad, NY Strip, and Cheesecake. The NY Strip was probably the best I've had - even better than strip's I've had at Ruths Chris, Charley's in Tampa, and Bones. My sister and I were able to dine for a second time in the Supper Club on the last night of the cruise since I won the Past Guest Trivia Contest during the Past Guest Cocktail Party. This was nice, as it afforded us the opportunity to eat with some friends we had met during the week. On this second trip to the Golden Fleece, I ordered the Crab Cake, Lobster Bisque, Filet Mignon, and Apple Tarte. Again, the filet was wonderful. I HIGHLY recommend dining in the Super Club. It is WELL WORTH the $30pp cover charge. Lido (Unicorn Cafe): I ate the majority of my breakfasts, and most of my lunches in Lido. The breakfast consisted of typical buffet fare - cold and warm entrees along with omelet stations and made to order egg stations. I'm not a huge breakfast fan, but I did miss the Eggs Benedict and Belgian Waffle stations that were on the Oosterdam on our last cruise to Alaska. Lunch in the Unicorn was broken up into several different areas. There was the grill (hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers, etc), Asian Food, Taste of Nations (different theme every day), The Carving Station, Deli, Pizza, and Salad Bar. I tended to eat primarily from the grill, Asian, or Deli. Food in the Lido was solid - nothing exceptional, but all quite good. Service up here was good as well. Debarkation: I had VIP debarkation due to my Platinum Card, but did not take advantage of it. We just put our "1" debarkation tags on our bags, slept in, ate breakfast in the main dining room, and walked off the ship at our leisure - around 9:50am. New Years Experience: This was my first New Years cruise, and I was a bit skeptical as to how it would be. I for some reason felt that it may be a little "cheesy," but I was not disappointed. Upon embarkation, bar servers handed out free champagne all afternoon to guests. They also did this on New Years' Eve as Midnight approached. On the 31st, there was a balloon drop in the Atrium. There were hundreds of passengers in the lobby to witness the countdown and the balloon drop. This was a pretty cool experience. After the balloon drop, the party shifted up to the Main pool deck for a Lido deck New Years Party. They had bands, music, and an all out festive atmosphere. Video of the ball dropping in NYC was projected against the retracted roof over the pool. Everyone had a blast New Years Eve, and I wouldn't hesitate cruising over New Years again. Miscellaneous / Ports: We had perfect weather for the whole cruise - it was in the 80s - 90s for the whole trip (other than Tampa). We went scuba diving in Cayman (shore dive from Eden Rock), Cozumel (shore tour through Carnival - excellent), and in Roatan (shore tour through Carnival - Anthony's Key - phenomenal). If you are into diving or snorkeling, this is a GREAT itinerary. We were in Belize on New Years Day, so I did not have a tour booked so I could recover. I took the tender into town, didn't see much and returned to the ship where I watched Bowl Games all day in the sports bar! It was the most relaxing day of the cruise for me. It did seem to be a bit crowded at times. There was somewhat of a difficulty finding an open chair on the sea days due to the perfect weather. There was also a fairly long line that built up every night before dinner. This was primarily because it was a sold-out New Years' cruise - including the 3rd and 4th berths. In conclusion... This was a GREAT cruise. I highly recommend Carnival for anyone, and especially the Carnival Legend. The Legend is one of my favorite ships in the Carnival fleet, and probably one of the best laid out ships afloat today. I wouldn't hesitate in cruising over New Years again. Can't wait for my next cruise on the Carnival Sensation this March! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
My family occupied four cabins on the Legend during Thanksgiving week. There were 10 of us. I had my own balcony cabin on the Empress deck. My parents were down the hall in a suite. My brothers and their families were in oceanview cabins ... Read More
My family occupied four cabins on the Legend during Thanksgiving week. There were 10 of us. I had my own balcony cabin on the Empress deck. My parents were down the hall in a suite. My brothers and their families were in oceanview cabins on the Riviera deck. The layouts and storage spaces in the cabins were very good. This was my first cruise and I guess I anticipated a lot less space in the cabins. I was pleasantly surprised. The embarkation process was relatively painless. My brothers and I had flown into Tampa the night before the cruise and we all stayed at the Embassy Suites/Westshore by the airport. The rooms are very large and the kids loved the pool, manager reception and breakfast buffet. We had booked a cruise package on the hotel's website that included transportation for two adults/room on a shuttle to the port. We left the hotel around 12:30pm and we boarded the boat right at 1:30pm when the rooms were available. It was pretty much perfect timing. My parents drove up from Sarasota and arrived at the port a little after the rest of us. Since they had VIP check-in, the got on board at the same time we did. All os us dumped some stuff in our cabins and met up in the Unicorn Cafe on Lido. Everyone got something different, since the Lido really offers such a big variety of food choices. The deli, the asian food, the grill (the cheeseburgers and onion rings are really quite good) and, of course, the dessert bar were all favorites for lunch during the week. After lunch, mom, the SILs and I headed to the spa to make appointments. Okay, they only had one person working the appointment desk and the computer apparently wasn't working right. After 25 minutes in line, we were next up and the woman tells us that we all need to leave for the muster drill. We said that unless she was going to give us numbers to get back in the line afterward, that we weren't leaving without appointments. We got them and she was apologetic about the wait times. She gave us the at-sea special for late afternoon after Grand Cayman because there weren't any times available on the sea day that weren't during dinner. If you use the spa, be warned that Elemis makes their staff do a VERY hard sell on products after your treatments. It is actually to the point of being offensive and takes away some of the relaxation that the treatment gave you. I was offered a $375 product option or a $572 product option and they seemed shocked when I said no and kept pushing for me to buy at least some of it. Muster drill was quick and painless. Ran into much of the rest of the family since they were in the same muster zone. After the muster, went to the cabin where my bags were waiting outside my door. I unpacked everything got it all stowed away. I went and walked around the ship to see where things were located. After a moderate tour, I realized there was way too much to cover and I would just have to discover it during the week. The ship's main lobby was decked out for Christmas/Chanukah already. I know my parents thought the ship's decor was a bit on the gaudy side. I guess I've spent too much time in Vegas. it was pretty much what I expected. The highly patterned carpets and overly ornate fixtures reminded me a lot of Vegas hotels. Met the family in the Truffles dining for the late seating. Our servers were Carlos and Harold and they were absolutely fantastic. They did tricks for the kids on the nights we brought them and Carlos gave great recommendations on the food. On the night my mother ordered the plain boring tiny chicken and veggies on the spa menu, Carlos "accidentally" brought the wrong chicken dinner that had a wonderful sauce. My mom was eating it when Carlos brought out that sad little spa plate and offered to take the other chicken away. I thought she might stab him with the fork. After that, we all trusted his recommendations. Occasionally, if he thought there was something we needed to try, he would just bring out another entree, appetizer or dessert and plunk it on the table. Room service deliveries, which I did a few times for breakfast, were always at the time I specified. It was nice to sit on the balcony in the morning with a pot of coffee. GRAND CAYMAN We pulled into Grand Cayman in the rain. By the time we got off, it had pretty much stopped. I had planned to scuba dive at Stingray City through a dive shop called Divers Down. My dive buddies (who I met through cruise critic) and I got to the dive shop only to find out that the dive had been cancelled due to rough water. We walked down the street to Eden Rock and rented equipment to do our own shore dive. We had a very nice dive and then took our equipment back to the Legend, dumped it off, changed clothes and went back to shore for lunch. All in all, a very nice day. COZUMEL Cozumel was a two-tank scuba dive day with Sand Dollar booked through Carnival. There were a lot of people and it took a while to check us all in. They ended up putting us in taxis to take us to the dive shop. We had two great dives. They broke us up into groups of six for the dives and each group had an assigned videographer underwater. They sold the videos to anyone who wanted them and will ship them to the states. They gave us a preview and the quality was phenomenal. They brought us back to the port by boat where I stopped for beer and chicken wings at Fat Tuesdays with my dive buddy for the day, Ren. BELIZE I booked cave tubing in Belize for myself and my brothers and their families. We went with Major Tom. There were way too many people, since Carnival had cancelled its tubing excursion after the recent mishap with their vendor. It took an hour for them to check everyone in and get us on our way. We stopped at a local grocery to pick up water and snacks and proceeded to the caves. The water was cold, but everyone had a really good time. Our guide, "George of the Jungle," was very good. Butts Up is our new favorite saying. The tubing ran late and Major Tom was at the buses shouting for them to get on the road and get us back to the port. We got there at the deadline for tendering back. Belize is a very long distance tender. ROATAN Roatan is an absolutely beautiful port. The water there is fantastic and the reefs are spectacular. This was another two-tank scuba dive for me booked through Carnival. The dive shop takes very good care of you and has very nice facilities. Giant grouper swim through the reef and the "wall" is really something to see. My brothers and one SIL did the discovery scuba here. They actually got to see a sleeping nurse shark, which was pretty cool. I was sorry we didn't have more time at this port and can definitely see going back there for a nice lazy week of hammocks and diving at some point in the future. The nieces (4, 7 and 9 y/o) weren't that keen on Camp Carnival at the beginning. By the end, they were much happier there and had made some friends. I wouldn't say that they raved about it and it often seemed much more like daycare than a camp with age-appropriate activities. However, there were some things that they definitely found fun. We didn't really attend a lot of the ship activities. We were too wiped after our excursions. We met at the cocktail lounges before dinner and at various other times. The grownups also spent some time in the bars later in the evenings. Billie's Piano Bar, which isn't that easy to find, is practically empty most nights. In part this is because the location is bad and, in part, it's because the entertainer isn't very good. He's a super nice guy, but he absolutely butchers some songs (ask him to play "Devil Went Down to Georgia" if you want a good laugh) and sings like he has marbles in his mouth. It's a good place to find seats and have a few cocktails. The Dreamteam sports bar is kind of weird because the ship doesn't get ESPN channels so they rarely have anything other than a random soccer game on the many tv screens unless there are sports on the major networks at the time you're in the bar. We aren't really clubbers, so we didn't hit Satchmo's or Medusa's. The casino was very smoky and pretty empty most of the times I went through there. I did play some slots on one day and ended up down about $20. It was up and down. I just didn't know when to say when. I have to say that Carnival exceeded our expectations. I will admit that our expectations were not tremendously high, but we were pleasantly surprised and I think all of us would sail with Carnival again. It was fun running into each other and all of our new friends on the boat. While we didn't have our traditional Thanksgiving dinner, with everyone cooking, we did have everyone together in the same place for Thanksgiving, which is something we haven't had for a long time. With all of us together at dinner and after hearing the horrible news out of Mumbai earlier in the day, we all had lots to be thankful for on the Carnival Legend. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Background Information: This was our 7th cruised and third with Royal Caribbean International. My wife and I are early 60's and we were cruising alone. We selected this cruise on Grandeur of the Seas strictly because it was over the ... Read More
Background Information: This was our 7th cruised and third with Royal Caribbean International. My wife and I are early 60's and we were cruising alone. We selected this cruise on Grandeur of the Seas strictly because it was over the Thanksgiving holiday and price for a Ten day cruise. Our itinerary was two sea days, San Juan, St. Maartin, St. Kitts, Antigua, Tortola and Two sea days. We booked our cruise through a Travel Club travel agent, Category H and were assigned stateroom 3114 Large Oceanview Stateroom and requested and received main dinning. We were assigned table 18 in the Gatsby Dinning Room. Travel To Port and Embarkation: Travel to Port of Tampa was and easy 2 hour drive, the road signs to the Port and Ship Terminals were easy to follow. We arrived at the port around 12:15, the cruise departed on a Monday. Grandeur of the Seas was the only ship in the port but there was very heavy traffic around the entrance to the cruise terminal. We received blank luggage tags from the porter at the terminal curb and quickly filled those out and turn our luggage over to the porter. Going thru security the couple in from of us in line was stopped at the carry on luggage x-ray machine and directed to table that was line with confiscated bottles of alcohol for a physical search. The check in line was about 15 minutes long, we had completed RCI online check in process on their website, and had our Set Sail Pass. The check in process was less than 30 minutes, from arriving at the terminal to entering our cabin. Ship information: Grandeur of the Seas is a Vision Class small and twelve years old but it appeared to be very well maintained. The following Grandeur of the Seas Facts are from the RCI web page Gross Tonnage 74000, Length overall 916 feet, Breadth 106 feet, Max Speed 22 Knots, eleven decks. One thing I found interesting the Captain said that the Grandeur was 25 feet below the waterline and 110 feet above the waterline. Why does it turn over? It was easy to get from one point on the ship to another, very little wait for elevators. The cruise was full and I would estimate that 80% of the passengers were over 50, seen very few young children and I would guess less than 20 teens. Stateroom: Our cabin 3114 is listed as a Large Oceanview Stateroom and it anything but large, but that normal for RCI. There was also a noticeable vibration when the ship was moving, but nothing that would keep you awake at night. There was adequate closet space and ample room under the bed to store luggage. Our room attendant introduced himself to us on our initial arrival to the cabin. He always kept the cabin clean and tidy and we had towel animals on the bed at night after dinner. Activities: Lot of activities going on, especially on the sea days, every activity had lots of people attending, and it seem that there was always two things going on at the same time that I wanted to attend. There was the usual over priced Art Auction that blocked the Centrum on deck 4 every sea day. Bingo was crowded. The evening shows in the Palladium Theater seem to fill up quite quickly and if you wanted to attain you had to get their early for a seat. We show up on time for the Captain's Welcome Aboard Reception in the South Pacific Lounge and it was completely pack with no were to sit. Again I think this had to with the age of the passengers. Service: The service we received ranks was pretty good not the best that we had, but far from the worst and I would give it a 4 on a scale on 1 to 5. There was a problem with the Dining room which I'll cover it the dinning section. Everyone from the lady that checked us in at embarkation, Pursers Desk, to the towel attains on the poll deck were amazingly pleasant and conscientious. Shore Excursions: We only had one RCI excursion and that was in St Maartin. SM86 St. Maartin Island Tour, 2 ½ hour tour that crossed over to the French side of the island. This tour was very inexpensive; it was the first RCI excursion that I ever felt cheated when it was over. All it is is a bus ride (large bus) form the tourist tarp on the Dutch side of the island to the same type tourist trap on the French side. No island history or geographical information was provided; a number of schools and the island flower were pointed out a number of times. One would have been better off hiring a cad for a lesser price. Dining: We had main seating for dinner and ate half of our breakfasts, lunches and all our dinners in the Gatsby Dinning Room the rest were in the Windjammer Market Place.. We also had a indulged ourselves at the Solarium Cafe late at night after the windjammer was closed. The quantity, variety and quality of food all over the ship was again pretty good. I would rate the quality of food on a scale of 1 to 5 a solid 4 for the quality of food only. In the Gatsby Dinning Room our waiter was Edwin and his assistant was Godfre we had a table for 4 very near the front of the dinning room. Main seating was at 5:30 and that seemed to be earlier than all the other cruises we've been on. The dinning room staff was very attentive and remembered each of our peculiarity each night. The first three nights the dinning room was full and it took over two hour for dinner. On the fourth night on the dinning room was less crowed and dinner was only 1 ½ hours. I don't contribute this long time to the waiters, but to some problems in the kitchen. The Windjammer was a very popular place and was always crowed, tables were bused quickly as soon as dinner were threw. Food was always fresh and hot. Entertainment: I attended all of the evening shown and found was above average for a cruise ship with the exception of the comedian Chas Elstner he was pretty bad. The Cruise Director, Simeon Baker was above average and the Singers & Dancers were really enjoyable. The Liars Club and Love and Marriage Game Shows were a big hit. Disembarkation This was the worst debarkation we experienced in our six prior cruises. We had an 8:45 call time for our color baggage tag but were not called until almost 9:20. It took another 40 minutes to get threw the custom line. I believe this is a problem with the US Customs and not Royal Caribbean Summary: Prior to departing I had review this cruise on Cruise Critic and read all the reviews that I could find on the Grandeur of the Seas and had a pretty good idea of what to expect. We had a real good time on this Cruise, service was good, weather was great, and food was OK. We would take this cruise again next year if it were available. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008

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