49 Tampa Repositioning Cruise Reviews

Based on a number of reviews, I was concerned about how we'd like travelling across the Atlantic on the Brilliance of the Seas. I'm happy to report that it was a wonderful cruise. Getting on the ship in Tampa was a breeze, ... Read More
Based on a number of reviews, I was concerned about how we'd like travelling across the Atlantic on the Brilliance of the Seas. I'm happy to report that it was a wonderful cruise. Getting on the ship in Tampa was a breeze, and our room was ready by 1pm. There's no doubt that RCI has much bigger and newer ships. However, the Brilliance of the Seas is no slouch by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, one can nitpick about some of the areas needing repair or looking their age. But the vast majority of the ship looks as nice as any cruise ship I've been on in the past. And its size of 2,200 passengers or so made it pretty much the perfect sized ship for me. The dining room service was a bit slow at the 6pm seating -- I believe they double-seated our waiter and assistant. However, they were both as nice as could be, and were always working hard no matter what table they were servicing. Our tablemates were great, but most ended up going to the later seating as the time zones changed. We got the Dining package for five days ($100 each), mainly so I could have sushi. Turns out both Chops Grille and Portofino were splendid places to eat. The servings were huge, and they kept feeding us course after course. We ate at both those restaurants twice. The view of the ocean from each restaurant was perfect for our dinners. As for the sushi, Izumi was pretty good, but the value for your money paled in comparison to the other two specialty restaurants. The Windjammer buffet was way too good for a cruise. I was trying not to eat that much due to the length of the cruise, but I always ended up there several times a day. Cooked-to-order breakfast was fairly fast and delicious. They were often carving roast beef at lunch. One night after dinner in the dining room I went up to the Windjammer to get some ice cream, and they were carving prime rib in the Windjammer; it was much better than the food I had in the dining room. A real pearl on the ship was the Park Cafe in the Solarium. This was the closest dining to my stateroom, and was the closest place for coffee, tea, water, ice, lemonade, and punch. They also often were carving roast beef there in the afternoon and in the evening. Due to losing so many hours (1 per day for 6 days), my dining schedule kept getting later and later. The Park cafe was a great place to get salads, sandwiches, pizza, and the carved beef after the Windjammer had closed for the day. I was concerned that seven straight days at sea would get boring, especially on a "smaller" ship (2200 guests). Turned out that once we reached Gibraltar, I still wanted more sea days to continue to have fun on the ship. Kudos to the Cruise Director Ricky Matthews for keeping up the energy to a mostly older and veteran-cruising set of passengers. Activities Manager Tanya was a blast, and had the patience of a saint as I tried to learn the Thriller Dance. Shore excursions were a hard sell on this cruise, as most passengers were at least Platinum if not Diamond level cruisers. Ports of San Juan, Gibraltar and Malaga also have most of their attractions close enough to the port to walk to and/or take a cheap bus. Shows were pretty good for the most part. The ship's singers and dancers were fine in their performances. Karen Grainger was both very talented and very funny -- run and save your seat if she's on your ship. Amy Lee (not the lead singer of Evanescence) was very talented on her violin, and gave a great show. And the Beatles Celebration cover band were very good; the crowd's reaction was much better when they played in the Centrum than in the theatre. The cabin may have been smaller than most cruise lines (as per square footage), but it never seemed small. It was a great place to chill away from the rest of the passengers. The balconies' view was great, even if we mainly saw nothing but the blue ocean for seven straight days. We've never had a bad room attendant on any cruise, and this one was no different. Lowell was perfect, and kept our room spotlessly clean, and the ice bucket full. For a sold-out cruise, it never seemed that crowded. I'm not much for laying around a pool, so I didn't experience the chair saving issues. The casino seemed almost empty at times, but that may have been because it could be open for 16 hours almost every day. It was also one of the places people could smoke, so that kept me from staying in there very long. There were some hiccups - the main one was when they had a midnight buttet. Long story short, lack of communication made it difficult to determine what line to go in for eating vs. photography, and a lot of people missed out on food after a 45 minute wait in line. In their defense, they rarely have them anymore and were obviously out of practice. All in all, this was a great cruise, and a nice ship for crossing the Atlantic. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
took this cruise to celebrate our 50 wedding anniversary. We had a oceanview cabin and regular dining (set time and table). We enjoy this opportunity to meet other guests and form friendships. Our waiter and asst. waiter were excellent. ... Read More
took this cruise to celebrate our 50 wedding anniversary. We had a oceanview cabin and regular dining (set time and table). We enjoy this opportunity to meet other guests and form friendships. Our waiter and asst. waiter were excellent. The entertainment was top notch and we enjoyed it very much. They offered many extra celebrations on this ship which made for a more exciting time. The ports were very interesting and we had a wonderful time at each of them . We had planned this trip for some time and was not disappointed. The staff in every venue from workers around the ship , officers, waiters, cabin steward, entertainment staff etc. were some of the best we have meant. We took this cruise to extend our cruise on the new Ovation of the Seas switching in Barcelona. We thought everything went very smooth from checking in to switching ships in Barcelona. We appreciated the extra help that Brilliance offered in our switch to the Ovation. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
I was very impressed that I wasn't bored on the trip across the Atlantic. The staff kept everyone busy with lots of options for activities. The Chef was outstanding. I think this was perhaps my favorite trip when it comes to ... Read More
I was very impressed that I wasn't bored on the trip across the Atlantic. The staff kept everyone busy with lots of options for activities. The Chef was outstanding. I think this was perhaps my favorite trip when it comes to consistency of quality and taste of the food. Each night it was really wonderful. The Diamond Lounge was really nice. I have also always been impressed with the customer service from the employees of Royal Caribbean International in all areas of the ship. Everyone, including dining room staff, cabin staff, activities and service staff all around the ship appear to want to be there. They always have a smile on their faces and greet you. This is different from other cruise lines that I have traveled. They work to keep the ship looking and functioning well, and prevent as many inconveniences as possible. I will continue making the ships of Royal Caribbean/Celebrity/Azamara my first choices when I travel by cruise ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Embarkation was one of the easiest yet. We walked directly in to the terminal, check in, and walked onboard the ship. Head directly to O'Sheehan's for lunch and wait for rooms to open. Once the rooms were opened we had a BA ... Read More
Embarkation was one of the easiest yet. We walked directly in to the terminal, check in, and walked onboard the ship. Head directly to O'Sheehan's for lunch and wait for rooms to open. Once the rooms were opened we had a BA midship, 10602. Overall the room is pretty standard for an NCL balcony pre-Epic. Bathroom could be bigger, couch could be smaller. Night stands on both sides of the bed would be greatly appreciated. We had one of the best room stewards we have ever had, Randy. He took great care of us and was always super friendly. Service on this ship was the best we have ever experienced in twenty five cruises. Everyone from the check in desk to the security guard at disembarkation was wonderful. Wait staff in the MDR, Philip and Ashish, were fantastic and spoiled us. Service in O'Sheehan's was personable, efficient, and overall excellent. We dined in the specialty dining restaurants 6 nights. We did three in Cagney's, two in Moderno, and one in La Cucina. Cagney's food was excellent and the service was even better. Moderno had one of the best salad bars we have experienced. The varying meats being served in Moderno are all quite good, but I personally like to just be brought my meal and I eat, less show would be nice. We did not care for the food in La Cucina at all. While service was still excellent, the food was less than great. We did not do any excursions or see many of the shows. We loved being able to spend the two weeks just kind of lazying around. Casino was definitely fun as well and again the bar service and casino staff were fantastic. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Had a great time on this cruise. The ship was only 1/2 full so the service was much better than the usual great service. Only 2 days of rough weather but everything was fine. Food was great, only ate in the dining rooms. We followed ... Read More
Had a great time on this cruise. The ship was only 1/2 full so the service was much better than the usual great service. Only 2 days of rough weather but everything was fine. Food was great, only ate in the dining rooms. We followed this cruise with a 7 day cruise to Norway. We cruise often and really don't care about sitting out by the pool. Had a great time up on deck 13 bar where they offered beer from all over the world. Would have loved to see more beers from our destinations. Got some bad information about the size of the rooms. Had an oceanview and was told that the ones mid-ship were much larger than the ones in the front of the ship. Nope, all the same size. Can not say enough for the staff all over the ship. They were great. Don't want to say much about some of the other cruisers. I did get a little tired of the dogs barking. Might need to redefine what a service dog is and not just wanting to avoid boarding your mutt. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Whilst my wife and I are experienced cruisers, this was our first Trans-Atlantic crossing. It was our second time cruising with RCI, but our first time aboard a Radiance Class ship. From a loyalty perspective, we are not particularly ... Read More
Whilst my wife and I are experienced cruisers, this was our first Trans-Atlantic crossing. It was our second time cruising with RCI, but our first time aboard a Radiance Class ship. From a loyalty perspective, we are not particularly biased toward any cruise line - we are much more interested in where the cruise will take us. PRE-BOARDING We flew into Tampa from the UK, spending the night prior to boarding at the Intercontinental. The flights and hotel were arranged through RCI, and all were excellent. We did not choose to use their interconnecting service between airport and hotel, or from hotel to ship. It was way too expensive compared to what was available locally – The hotel offered a free shuttle from the airport, and a low cost shuttle to the ship. CHECK IN Tampa proved to be an interesting Cruise terminal when compared to the bigger sites such as either Miami or Ft Lauderdale. Right next to the Aquarium, there was very easy passenger drop-off, well marshalled by the local police. We joined at the busiest time of the day (11.30), and lines were long, but moved quickly. The staff for the embarkation were all extremely friendly and very efficient. We were on board and in ensconced in our cabin 7040 just over an hour later. No small feat to achieve such a short boarding time with crowds of that size, and to have the cabin ready so soon before 2pm. STAFF The ship’s staff were unfailingly polite at all times. Our cabin steward was particularly cheerful and exceptionally helpful at all times. Interestingly on a TA (Trans-Atlantic crossing), the majority of passengers are well-seasoned cruisers, and the majority are high on brand loyalty. Our cruise had 204 Cruise Critic members attending the meet and mingle event. The vast majority of the cruisers were at least Diamond or Diamond plus level. This made for a very knowledgeable and sometimes overly critical cruising group. The amount of times I heard “it was never like this on the (insert name of RCI ship here)” or variations to that theme was far too often. If this was too much for me on occasional conversations, I dread to think what the poor crew went through. Because of the high number of Cruise Critic guests onboard, the Officers decided to put on a private lunch for the CC members who signed up for the Meet and Mingle. The lunch was delicious, as was the free wine. We thought this was a really nice touch which we all appreciated. FOOD This is, after all, one of the main components of a cruise. We have sailed with Royal Caribbean, in the past without complaints. Prior to embarking, I had read a number of reviews that slated the food offering in both the MDR and the Windjammer. I can say that while to food was not exceptional (unless you went to the additional fee restaurants), it was always at least “good”. I am partial to curry, and the curry’s were all without exception incredibly well spiced and flavoured. We did partake in all of the additional fee dining. The Chef’s table was probably the best in terms of value for money and quality. Exceptional food, plus 6 separate glasses of wine. Chops Grill was great, and Giovanni’s was good. Not as happy with the Sushi at Izumi. The sushi was not to my taste, as I do not care much for the sauces, which they seem to like applying to all the sushi pieces. Izumi is also an oddity for the way it is both marketed (it is not) and the way it charges. Izumi is hidden away at the back of deck 12 starboard side (access via the outer deck). The signage does not help in finding the site easily. There is no fee for reserving your table (unlike every other upgraded restaurant aboard), but you are charged for each menu item you order. I would not return to Izumi, but would go to every other site again – especially Chef’s table. THE SHIP This is a really nice ship, not too big, about 2000 or so passengers. The ship was full for the voyage. Due to the weather for this TA (fairly bumpy, overcast and windy throughout), It was never a problem finding a sunbed. It was easy to find your way around, and had sufficient of the usual shops, and special 'sale' days of various items, bags, perfume, jewellery and the like. The prices were standard shipboard pricing – slightly better than ashore, but not enough to say it was an exceptional offer. This ship has a solarium. It was a really pleasant place to spend time, even if the seas were rough. This was the most popular “outside” area, as it was sheltered from the wind, had a bar and snack area, plus a lovely pool and hot tub. Beyond this area was the gym and spa. The gym (not that we used it) had lots of equipment, and the spa the usual treatments with prices pretty similar to most cruise lines. The ship was well maintained, well run, and for a 13 year old, in really good shape. ENTERTAINMENT Chlo was our CD and Alison her assistant. They did an excellent job. The acts they brought on to keep people entertained (remember, this was a TA. A 15 night cruise, with 10 sea days), were exceptionally good. We were not impressed with the gymnast or the one comedian (there were 3 in total), but loved The Magnets (beat-boxing with exceptional harmonies), Tucker, the 3 sets that the production company put on, and the awesome ship’s band. Really good entertainment! DRINKS This was an area where I spent a great deal of time researching all the options available. Drinks packages are actually pretty comprehensive I think, and unlike other cruise lines, not everyone in the cabin needs to be on the same package. I drink moderately, and was not sure that a drinks package would work for me. This was proved correct, even with the number of sea days we enjoyed. If you think that the average drink costs about $8.00, it means that on every single day, you need to drink at least 6 alcoholic drinks. I drank as much as I wanted, of what-ever I wanted (including a nice bottle of red), and never once regretted not getting the package. My wife does not drink, but does go through a lot of soda (Diet Coke). We bought the basic soda package for her, and this proved to be a great deal. DINING ARRANGEMENTS We paid our tips in advance with the cruise fee, and this enabled us to enjoy 'My Time' dining. This actually suited us as it enables us to book a table for 2 (we were on our 25 year anniversary and wanted a little romantic time together without sharing with a table). We were very happy with the arrangements, and the Maître’d was able to book us the same table, at the same night for every night of the cruise. This means were able to bond with our wait staff and enjoy all the trappings of the MDR on the Deck 4, while enjoying My Time Dining for 2 on deck 5. Shore Excursions A bit hit or miss really. (1) Norfolk VA was our first stop. Deciding on a walking tour, we were surprised by how poorly the excursion was organized, and the lack of enjoyment and value that the tour delivered. It was so bad, we bailed out midway through and went to the nearby Mall. This was a first time visit for RCI, and they were feeling their way into what worked and what did not as much as we were. We were asked for our feedback on the tour mid-cruise. We provided it, and were promptly called, and offered a full refund (without asking for it) – Classy RCI! (2) Cork (Cobh). An excellent tour to Blarney Castle and the nearby Woolen Mill shop. The tour was good value, with a superb guide who told us jokes and had us singing on the way home. (3) Cherbourg. A poor trip to Cap d’La Hague and Crepe tasting. The guide was also trying to help the driver navigate the area, as he was new to the locality. The guide was not totally fluent in English (but good enough), and so was trying hard to keep up with where the driver was going (there were many wrong turns), providing an English commentary, and ensure that the coach was happy. It did not work out that well. Cap d’La Hague was a granite peninsular with a few pretty harbours. The Crepes were cold and limited to sugar as the only topping. Not worth the time or money. (4) Zebrugges (Brugge). Did our own thing and had a great time. SUMMARY A great cruise that we very much enjoyed. The itinerary was what we signed up, as we enjoy sea days – Not sure we were quiet prepared for just how many very experienced cruisers attended these type of crossings (and how few kids there were). The few problems we encountered didn't spoil it for us because we are positive people generally who can see the funny side of things, even when they are going wrong. We will definitely sail RCI again, and would happily recommend the Brilliance as a great ship to cruise aboard. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our favorite cruise ever, thanks to Captain Lis and her wonderful crew! The ship was beautiful, we had many activities which were attended by Captain Lis, Cruise Director, Steve, and the whole crew. I've never seen such ... Read More
This was our favorite cruise ever, thanks to Captain Lis and her wonderful crew! The ship was beautiful, we had many activities which were attended by Captain Lis, Cruise Director, Steve, and the whole crew. I've never seen such crew participation on a cruise, and I've been on more than 50 cruises. In addition to the fun activities organized by the ship, we also enjoyed activities organized by our Cruise Critic Roll Call, such as a Cabin Crawl, Slot Pull, and two lunches in the MDR, one before the Cabin Crawl, and one for those of us who had cruised on the Oasis Westbound TA last October (thanks, Tim and Sue!). My DH played chess every day with two friends he met, and I enjoyed rehearsing for and singing in the Vision of the Seas Guest Choir (thanks, Kenny Washington, one of the Vision singers, who was our Choir Director). The food was great in the MDR, Park Café, and Windjammer. We did not go to any specialty restaurants this time. We also enjoyed room service breakfast in our cabin twice. We had a panoramic view cabin, 7084, and loved it! It was very spacious with a large window and a window seat where we could sit and look at the ocean, and watch our arrivals into the various ports. We boarded in Tampa (very smooth, no problems), then went to Key West, Funchal, Madeira, Gibraltar, Malaga, and debarked in Barcelona. We thought it was a very interesting itinerary, and particularly enjoyed Funchal and Gibraltar since it was our first time visiting them. In summary, Captain Lis is the best captain we have ever had the pleasure to cruise with on Royal Caribbean or any other cruise line. I hope we are able to cruise with her again. She made all of us feel at home, and she steered us away from a storm. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
I have only been cruising for 18 months and the cruise on the Carnival Pride was my ninth cruise. We booked this cruise one month before while on the Carnival Fascination. I live in Jacksonville Florida and rented a car to get to Tampa. My ... Read More
I have only been cruising for 18 months and the cruise on the Carnival Pride was my ninth cruise. We booked this cruise one month before while on the Carnival Fascination. I live in Jacksonville Florida and rented a car to get to Tampa. My wife and I left the night before and stopped at a Hampton Inn & Suite in Wesley Chapel. I used the Carnival transfer bus to get from the airport to the ship terminal. The bus was waiting and it only took us about 15 minutes before we were on our way. They had us down for late dinner seating so once on the ship we went to get it changed to any time dining. We wanted early dining but that wasn’t available. Embarkation at the ship was very organized and didn’t take long at all. The guy at the terminal with the microphone was very funny and made the wait pleasant. As a bonus, the senior Carnival Cruise Director John Heald was at the terminal and he got on the microphone and had us all laughing. This was our first time to the Tampa terminal and I was surprised how quick we got on the ship. Our stateroom 1140 was ready around noon. Bags were delivered around 1 pm. The ship was delayed getting out of port, we were told because of the large amount of supplies being loaded. The amount of people doing anytime dining on this cruise was unbelievable. The lines to eat were very long. Dinner was good but not as good as I’ve had on other Carnival ships. A few times the food was not hot enough. Other times the food was chewy. Some dishes were outstanding, just inconsistent. The desert menu was not varied like on other Carnival ships. I just would have liked to see more pies or cakes. The staff personnel on the ship were very friendly. Our cruise director Jason (Jase) Apps did a great job. This guy has so much energy and is fun to be around. I have cruised with Jase before and he is my favorite cruise direct so far. This was a special cruise with John Heald onboard. I would go on another cruise if he was onboard, he is that good. I didn’t see my stateroom steward much, but if I left the room, even for a little while, he would have my room clean when I returned. What more could you ask for. We did three shore excursions with Carnival and they were all good. In Grand Cayman we went on the deluxe stingray tour and I would do this one again. I would highly recommend taking a shore excursion in Colon Panama and Limon Costa Rica. Right around the port area in both those countries was not that great, but get out and see farther away from the port and you will be happy you visited these beautiful countries. In Limon we took the Bus, Boat, and Train tour. We went to the rain forest and visited a banana farm. We took a boat ride were they showed us a lot of wild life and fed us fruit. We went on an old train and stopped along the way when they spotted monkeys. Take a camera there were so many photo opportunities. In Colon we did the City Tour which took us by bus all the way across Panama to Panama City. We stopped at a local straw market and had time to ourselves to shop. This tour was 5.5 hours and well worth the price. The big show dancers/singers were alright. I’ve seen better, so I stopped going to the song and dance performances. The other entertainers were very good. They brought in different comedians every few days and these comedians were very funny. They had plenty of other performers and all were top notch. Disembarkation in Baltimore was a lot of confusion for most. We had to move to another place to get off the ship than what we were originally told. Customs personnel were not manning all the available desks and they were going very slow. We had a lot of fun on this cruise. I really like the layout of the Pride. Overall this was a very good cruise and I would gladly do it again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We sailed on the 14 night repositioning cruise from Tampa to Baltimore with stops in Grand Cayman, Costa Rica, Panama, Aruba, Bonaire and St Maarten. The ship with the new Funship 2.0 upgrades is well maintained with lots of new ... Read More
We sailed on the 14 night repositioning cruise from Tampa to Baltimore with stops in Grand Cayman, Costa Rica, Panama, Aruba, Bonaire and St Maarten. The ship with the new Funship 2.0 upgrades is well maintained with lots of new additions, apparently done at the end of 2014. The Carnival mobile phone app and hub does not yet work on this ship. Embarkation in Tampa was easy and pretty quick. Debarkation in Baltimore was fine for us, but we heard from others that it took hours and hours! We had late dining and experienced great service from our 3 member team, of note Roy, Tony and Yasa. Food was good to very good but not as good as it was on our last cruise 12 years ago. The addition of the more casual dining stops was new for us (again, it’s been 12 years). My only complaint was their pretty limiting hours. The casual food places (buffet (various short hours stints throughout the day), Guy’s Burgers (noon to 6PM only), Blue Iguana, Pizza Pirate (somewhat short hours), and the Deli (11A-11P) offered good choices. In my opinion, at least Guy’s burgers should be open for those who have late seating and wish to have a burger. Guy’s makes great burgers with great condiments. The Deli made great sandwiches! Kudo’s to Okky who worked in the deli most of the times we were there. Pizza Pirate was only okay, but it usually took a while to get food. Breakfast in the buffet was pretty standard offerings, with lots of choices so you could enjoy something different each day (cereal, yogurt, eggs, toast, bacon, ham, sausage, eggs benedict, pancakes, French toast, waffles, omelets, various fruits, Danish, muffins and other pastries) along with the made to order breakfast burritos from Blue Iguana. Many of the evening activities started way before the diners who had late dining were done with their dinner. PORTS: Grand Cayman: Our group had a pre-arranged, non-Carnival, island tour. Was great! Costa Rica: Our group had two pre-arranged, non-Carnival, tours. First was an island and river tour. Had a great time and learned a lot. Lots of native plants and creatures to see. Second was zip lining. What a great time that was! Worth every bit of the $75. p/p. Panama: Because of the nature of Panama, we took a Carnival tour. We opted for the Kayak and Canal Locks combo tour. This was fantastic. We had a nice bus to transport us. First we kayaked around the canal lake. Yes, you’re gonna get wet on this. Dress appropriately in a swim suit, water shoes and leave valuables like your phone and more, in the chase boat. After this, we took the bus to the canals. What a great site to see! Highly recommended! Aruba: we took a private island tour on a Kukoo bus. Great time! Bonaire: Island tour through a private company. What a beautiful island! St Maarten: Island tour on a boat accompanied with snorkeling in several spots. The staterooms are nice. Room Steward, Winn, was great! The beds are comfortable. AC wasn’t quite adequate enough to keep the room cool to cold, especially at night and also when the sun was against the windowed door. Our room had about a 27” flat panel LED TV. Most of the time the channels worked, but at critical times (like March Madness), we lost reception on some channels. (DirecTV is the ship’s provider.) None of the channels in the room were HD. ESPN is not available in the rooms, but is on in the Casino and Sport Bar (I think they want you down there spending money and not in your room). Refrigerator in the room was okay. We kept our drinks and water in there and took out the bar supplies they had inside to make it a mini-bar. Unless the cabinet door was left open, the refrigerator could not keep up because the heat got stuck inside the cabinet. The ship’s on-board shops have the standard stuff – high priced alcohol that you can’t even use or drink on the ship and the other token stuff. Bar service around the ship was great! The only thing which bugged me was the person vending specialty drinks in the dining room. Everyday something different for some exorbitant price. We had the best service and the nicest people on the Serenity deck bar. We enjoyed this cruise enough that we rebooked for next year. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We very much looked forward to this cruise and it lived up to our hopes and then took flight! My spouse and I have never taken such a long cruise, and very much looked forward to the 7 days at sea. And 4 of the 6 ports were new for us. ... Read More
We very much looked forward to this cruise and it lived up to our hopes and then took flight! My spouse and I have never taken such a long cruise, and very much looked forward to the 7 days at sea. And 4 of the 6 ports were new for us. We were blessed to travel with two friends that were by nature curious and very smart (ok me and three Librarians from NC, all in 50-65 range) and then the frosting came when we found out 4 weeks out that John Heald (Brand Ambassador for Carnival) would be aboard. Planning- My only planning issue was the Cruise Critic Roll Call. Granted it started over 1 year out and it was a huge list (so big it had to be split 3 months out). I do wish there was some way to limit posts to those about the cruise or ports involved. Often there were pages of entries that never mentioned the cruise. Trip down- We found a rental car the best option. We stayed at Holiday Inn West Shore, enjoyed their restaurant and added a day to see the Florida Aquarium. It was a fun way to start the cruise. Take the cab to the ship, avoid the Hotel shuttle as it costs more and has less room. Boarding- Tampa has a great process. As Platinum VIFP we were on and in our cabin in about 45 minutes. We enjoy watching the shopping square near the ship. They have a slushy store for mixed drinks! Cabin 6151 is a hidden secret. Set back a few feet from the cabins in front of it, the wind is less, and the fun of a balcony is enhanced. Our Steward, Muktika Hary, was a kind, prompt and cheerful young man. Kept us in ice and spruced up digs! Could not ask for better Dining- Of 13 CCL cruises I have had MDR seating issues 2 times. Both involved the Matri'D Ken Burnes (?) I really do not care for him, my problem. We stopped at MDR to point out our issues, and by the 2nd meal we were seated as desired, thanks Jana! Our wait staff were the best ever- our Head Waiter was Milan, wonderful service, humor and yes he danced. His assistants were Putu, Edsel were just as wonderful. An added happy circumstance was that we used the MDR for breakfasts this trip and met Stanimir, another Head waiter, very affable and kind and a friend of Milan. How lucky were we? Food was only average - the two chefs were both from India and they were working on the European menus. Much of the food was very tasty but OMG NEVER call that Pecan Pie, NEVER! for shame, David's Steak house- What a wonderful experience. Exquisite flavors and presentations. SHows- 88 keys was phenomenal, absolutely the very best. Well done CCL Cast. We discovered the trivia games, what fun. We went to several, enjoyed the questions and the Hosts! CD- Jase was probably the best I have seen. Great solo and put him on a stage with the redoubtable Mr Heald and oh my goodness! He takes second seat to no one. Always lively, happy and kind. Hope to shre his boat again Ports- Grand Cayman- Not a favorite from 2 prior visits yet this visit was magical. Now the Lovely Susan has a new high priority port of call Puerto Limon, Costa Rice- We did the Cacao Experience and if you can do it, RUN for it. A quiet drive to the "plantation". Cacao grows in the rain forest and these folks take you from leaf to bud to blossom to processing chocolate. Yup they make it as you watch then you get to dine. We saw monkeys, a crock or caiman. And beautiful forest Colon - Panama the 2 ocean train got cancelled so we went with the ECO Tour- I am so glad we did. We saw the Gaytun locks in operation, then we took a boat on Lake Gaytun. What a Marvel of beauty. We base out of the School of the Americas and then saw Monkeys, crocks and a Momma Sloth with her baby on her tummy Aruba- Closes on Sunday at 1PM. But that was ok We shopped and had fun Bonaire- Great excursion to a hotel for swimming- The water was beautiful and chill enough to be invigorating. Phillipsburg, St Maarten- One of our favorites, always. This time we took the Island tour and it was quite fun. Overall- can't leave without mentioning John Heald's Marriage show. This will make your day and maybe your cruise. John we love you! Best cruise ever Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Best cruise I've been on! Fourteen days was perfect for us. The Pride was making its way back to Baltimore and many of the passengers were from Maryland and wanted to travel on her return home. There were only 40 children onboard ... Read More
Best cruise I've been on! Fourteen days was perfect for us. The Pride was making its way back to Baltimore and many of the passengers were from Maryland and wanted to travel on her return home. There were only 40 children onboard which made the whole ship adult friendly. We were told the average age of cruisers was 62. The only bad part was there was no late night life aboard, the night club open for two days only (the first two days). But the ship was always clean and the staff was very friendly and attentive. We were told by other guests that Carnival not only remodeled the Pride but changed its staff for better service. Both were greatly appreciated! I see that Carnival has scheduled this cruise for 2017. I am hoping I can be on it. Many of the ports it went we had not gone before and would like to revisit. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
The Pride has beautiful art throughout the ship. The ship is very easy to get around on. Loved the new additions especially the Blue Iguana. New Dive In was a nice addition. The cruise director and staff were very helpful, polite and ... Read More
The Pride has beautiful art throughout the ship. The ship is very easy to get around on. Loved the new additions especially the Blue Iguana. New Dive In was a nice addition. The cruise director and staff were very helpful, polite and friendly. Had a great 14 days. All our excursions were what we expected. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We live in the Pacific NW and needed to come to Tampa for parathyroid surgery for my wife. Because traveling across country usually is very taxing, we looked to have a relaxing time on a Cruise prior to her surgery. We found this relaxing ... Read More
We live in the Pacific NW and needed to come to Tampa for parathyroid surgery for my wife. Because traveling across country usually is very taxing, we looked to have a relaxing time on a Cruise prior to her surgery. We found this relaxing time on the Norwegian Sun! Pre and post cruise stayed at the Best Western Tampa (S Dale Mabry) next to 24 hr IHOP and grocery! Every thing about this cruise was first rate and went as smooth as humanly possible. From the moment we stepped into the cruise terminal.we were made to feel welcome. We arrived about 1100 and were onboard having lunch by 1145. Our cabin was ready right after lunch and our bags were delivered by 1600. We ate in each of the complimentary dining venues. The food was varied and met our reguirements (I am a vegitarian and my wife has a gluten allergy (Celiac Disease). We were able to always find a selection to satisfy our appitite. Servers were attentive and helpful. We especially enjoyed the relaxed dress code and was a reason we chose Norwegian in the first place. The cruise allowed us to enjoy the time at our pace...to go ashore and be as involved as we wished or to remain onboard and go as slow and restful as we wished. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
This was our first transatlantic cruise and we were not sure how we would react to all the sea days but things turned out really well. This was our 26th cruise on RCCL and our fourth time on Brilliance. We left Tampa on a Wednesday and we ... Read More
This was our first transatlantic cruise and we were not sure how we would react to all the sea days but things turned out really well. This was our 26th cruise on RCCL and our fourth time on Brilliance. We left Tampa on a Wednesday and we had a very easy check in experience. We live in Tampa so there is nothing to tell about travel to the ship. Twenty five minutes after we left the house we were in the terminal. About 30% of the passengers were Diamond or higher so the Priority check in was long. The handicap check in was longer as well due to the passenger demographic being so old. That being said, there was no one in line at the overwhelming majority of the regular slots so we whizzed our way through. We received our bags in a timely manner and were unpacked by muster. The only unexpected thing was the soda I brought aboard. In the past it could be checked but now it had to be carried on. No big deal! We sailed right on time and it was 3.5 days at sea until we reached Boston. We had some rain before Boston but the first couple of days we were in Florida waters and it was pool temperatures. By the time we sailed into Boston it was highs in the 50's. The day before we arrived in Boston the captain advised us that there was a bad weather system that was developing at sea and we needed to cut Boston short to miss the worst of it. So we left Boston at 3 PM instead of 7 PM and as we sailed east we made some course adjustments to avoid the worst of the wind and high seas. The crew tied down the deck furniture on the top decks and in public areas they secured things that could impact passenger safety. Everyday the Captain made announcements on the PA and he was part of the CD daily tv broadcast so that we would be informed. As it was, we had some 15 foot seas and some 35 knot winds but for the most part they were from directly behind us so the forward motion of the ship cancelled out most of the effects of the wind.There were a couple of days where the sun was out and people were on Deck 11 and sheltered from the aft wind. So there was some sunning time mid atlantic. We had 6 days at sea after Boston and we participated in the Progressive trivia contest. It was super well attended and there were a lot of good teams. We fielded 3 Cruise Critic teams and had a very good time. My wife went to the art auctions to see what was available as a mid day activity.Just about every day we moved the clocks forward at 11 AM so we had a lost hour and a bunch of 23 hour days. It was good for me because lunch came early and all I had was coffee pre trivia. My wife swears by the Chicken Sliders in the main DR and we also had some Park Cafe roast beef sandwich lunches. The food in the Windjammer was ok but we don't eat there that much. There were some reported cases of the dreaded norovirus and so self service stopped everywhere on the ship. The food in the WJ as well as the plates, silverware, and condiments were all served by crew. The ship staff was non stop disinfecting everything and wiping down all common touch points. You could not walk into a food venue or the Concierge Lounge without a spritz of hand sanitizer. The ships senior officers were more visible during our days on board. We were constantly seeing the hotel director, his second in command, and there was a very nice lunch where we sat with the Head of Safety and the International Ambassador. We also had a lot of interaction with the cruise director due to her leading the progressive trivia. I had an issue about some amenities from my travel agent and that led to a trip to Guest Services. The agent that handled my situation was just great and got things straightened out with Miami. She called me back within 24 hours and it was great service. We had a great cabin attendant who kept the room spotless and brought us ice morning and night. The aft D2 cabin was perfect. We have been in this stateroom or one just beside it on every Radiance class cruise. It has a triple deep balcony that is much better than the ones on the sides. We just love that down the wake view! We also had a very positive experience with our dining choices. I assembled a table of 8 from our Cruise Critic thread and we requested a table location in advance from the MaitreD'. I scouted the DR in December and one of our table mates was on Brilliance about a month before we sailed so he met with the MaitreD' and there you go. No one else was interested in Specialty Dining from our table but another CC couple hooked up with us for Chops, Giovanni's, and the Chefs Table. The food and service were excellent in all three but the Chef's Table was a real indulgence for us. It really was great and we would probably treat ourselves on a future cruise. We truly loved this itinerary and each stop had something of major interest for us. We had a super active CC board with over 4,000 posts and we all shared tours, rides, etc. outside of RCCL transport and excursions. In Cork we went to Blarney Castle and Kinsale, in Cherbourg we had a whole bus of CC people that went to the D Day beaches, Pointe du Hoc, and the US Cemetary. In Brugges we shared a cab from the ship and then we wandered independantly to see the Madona & Child sculpture. Took a canal boat ride, and shopped for Chocolate. When we arrived in Harwich we had also teamed up with other CC members who chartered an 18 passenger bus for a ride into London to our post cruise hotels. It was a 2.5 hour ride an traffic wasn't that bad. The only real negative was clearing British Immigration between Ireland and France. The line was impossibly long due to people not showing up at the right times. We showed up at our time and they made an announcement to come back later due to the log jam. In London we stayed at the St Ermins Hotel in Westminster and it was just the best. It was walking distance to Big Ben, 10 Downing St., Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, and Buckingham Palace. It was also right next to a tube station even though we did not use the tube. We spent a day touring the Tower of London and rode the Eye. We saw the rest of LOndon from the HoHo bus. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Just came across a review of this cruise from someone who had problems and I wanted to add a bit of balance. WE HAD A WONDERFUL CRUISE. Although both of us have cruised numerous times with various lines, this was our first (but certainly ... Read More
Just came across a review of this cruise from someone who had problems and I wanted to add a bit of balance. WE HAD A WONDERFUL CRUISE. Although both of us have cruised numerous times with various lines, this was our first (but certainly not last) transatlantic and, I must admit, we are a bit biased, as Royal Caribbean is definitely our favorite way to cruise. With that said, however, we would be hard pressed to find anything about which to complain. Every member of the staff that we met was professional and oh, so, friendly (with a special "well done" to Harry for keeping our room spotless and working around our random schedule) and the ship was clean and well-maintained. "HelloClo" was my first experience with a female cruise director and she was great. Not only was she happy and positive and funny but, watching her make her way around the ship, it was amazing to see how good she was with people. Despite a schedule that would have sent most of us "over the edge", she ALWAYS seemed to take time to visit and answer questions without seeming in a rush. That's a talent! We had traditional style dinner and loved our tablemates and our servers. If there are better waiters/servers than Gabriel and Jeremy, I have yet to meet them. We felt like we were THE most important people in the dining room each and every night. Constantine completely blew away our previous opinion that the maitre d' is useless. We loved his visit to our table each night and are developing a TV reality show entitled "Constantine, the Constant Cruiser" for him! . BTW, while I'm talking about dining, the food was exceptional, especially in respect to variety. It might seem that such a long cruise could lead to a bit of samenes/boredom in the menu but no one at our table ever felt that way. The desserts were particularly tasty and varied. A lot of fun-filled time was spent at Vintages and i must give a "shout out" to Robert and Cosmo who always greeted us with a smile and who made our evening's glass a wine a great time. Loved the ports and loved that they were NOT the big cities the everyone visits. Our only problem, which had nothing to do with Royal Caribbean, came in Cherbourg where we were told by the folks inside the terminal that there was a free shuttle waiting outside to take us into town. We asked outside and never found the shuttle (despite the fact that one of us speaks French). Our dinner tablemates later told us that they had lucked into finding the shuttle which was, in fact, a large bus with absolutely no identification and no one on it.. It's quite a long walk into town and someone on land in Cherbourg needs to get that situation cleared up. Although the nightly shows were good, the real entertainment were the individuals who played in the pub or played piano/sang in the Schooner Bar or played classical guitar in various areas around the ship. Felt as if there was always someone "performing" in one of the common areas to hear and enjoy. Although this review may sound like it, I really don't work for Royal Caribbean and I only own enough stock to qualify for the stockholder benefits...LOL   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We returned from our Trans-Atlantic cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas on May 17th. The boarding process at Tampa was quick and painless. Some passengers had yet to hit vacation mode and were pushy and vulgar. However, the helpfulness ... Read More
We returned from our Trans-Atlantic cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas on May 17th. The boarding process at Tampa was quick and painless. Some passengers had yet to hit vacation mode and were pushy and vulgar. However, the helpfulness the staff more than made up for the annoying people. The ship is very beautiful and well taken care of. For the most part the crew was outstanding, YoClo was a very good Cruise Director, she kept everything lively. Another staff member that really stood out on this cruise, was Michelle, the Casino Host. She took care of all of our needs and was a nice person to visit with when she wasn't busy. The entertainment was the second best we've enjoyed on a cruise. The acts that really stood out, were the "Two Funny Guys", they kept us laughing , Toni Warne, Greg London, and Graffiti Classics (we would love to see this group again, doing a full show, they were absolutely wonderful). They also preformed in the closing show and they were just as good. Our Cabin Attendant, Dave, was wonderful. The room magically cleaned itself while we were gone. We had a couple of issues with the cabin when we first arrived, but David took care of it. We were on the aft of Deck 10, as we were heading east, the sun would heat up our balcony making it very comfortable in the afternoon to sit out and listen to music. However, around 10 p.m. and then again at 7 a.m. we listened to furniture being moved. Fortunately, it didn't last too long, but if you went to bed early or slept in, it was annoying. One of the things we missed were the ice carvings and vegetable floral arrangements at the functions. It could be cost cutting measure. This does sound petty, but the arrangements seemed to add a touch of class. There was a little bit of a health issue while on the cruise, but the crew was very proactive with additional cleaning, serving food in the Windjammer, and numerous notifications and updates of what one needed to do. The only disappointment of this cruise, was the food service. Our wait staff team, started out adequate, and went downhill from there, we're not sure if they were new, hadn't worked together before, just not meant for the job or they had additional tables. Even after talking with the head waiter, service didn't improve. The head waiter assisted at our table, but it still didn't help. If it was just the two of us complaining, it could just be us being too picky, but when most of the table had concerns about the service, we realized it was more than that. We are used to outstanding service in the Main Dining Room, but this time, it fell flat. The evening menu left a lot to be desired. The food was good, but not like what we have experienced before. Also, one of my favorite things was not on the menu, lobster. We were not the only one to ask about this. The specialty restaurants were very good. We enjoyed the Chef's Table the most, with Chops and Portofino's running a close second. We had wanted to try Rita's Cantina but, we could not get service in there. The Park Cafe was another favorite stop. We ate lunch there on most sea days. The Roast Beef on Kimmelweck was outstanding. The salad bar next to it was very good. Plus it was a little easier to find a table on some days. On the morning of disembarkation, we were to be at the theatre at 6:45, so we headed up to the Windjammer at 6 to get a light breakfast. The line was extremely long, and the Windjammer was not open. It did not open until 6:15 and if we would have waited in the line we would have missed our disembarkation time. We ended up not having breakfast that day. With there being so many sea days, they had a "Crew Talent Show". It was great. Jamie "Mississippi Mama"'s, rendition of Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" was fabulous. Other than the Main Dining Room issues and the line at the Windjammer on the last morning, all in all, this was a very good cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
After reading the several reviews on this TA, I had to add my humble Opine. We are Diamond Plus on RC and this was our best cruise ever. Too many of us focus on the negative and lose sight of 14 days of service, entertainment, food, fun ... Read More
After reading the several reviews on this TA, I had to add my humble Opine. We are Diamond Plus on RC and this was our best cruise ever. Too many of us focus on the negative and lose sight of 14 days of service, entertainment, food, fun and people interaction. Positive points. Cruise Director and staff - Best in the Fleet, Scheduled activities, food and stateroom service, ports, embark an disembark process, passport return process and the send off in Cobh Irleand, thanks to the cruise director, was a once in a lifetime experience with the town folks, local TV, ladies in their 1912 formal best, High School River Dance group performing and the town band playing, highlighted by Anchors Away as we got underway. All of the guests from the balconies where cheering and clapping and it brought tears to this old Navy veteran. There was a couple of items that could have been better. The host at My Time was overwhelmed with the job, she may have been trying but is wasn't working. After several nights of issues with our group of eight, we had NO reservations. We spoke kindly to the section head waiter and wala, we had the same table and the same time for the rest of the cruise with no check in at the desk. Great service from him, a negative into a positive. On board customs, at sea, for Harwich, was, to say the least was a zoo. The ship scheduled by cabins but the folks just showed up dispite all the announcements. A solution, was to do the same on deck by deck system they used for passport return and this negative would also go away. RC you set the bar high, next TA, Serenade to the Big Easy this Novemeber. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Home being Montreal we selected this 12 days repositioning cruise for the convenience of being closer to home when we disembarked in Boston, it also gave us a sixth port of call. One way flight to Tampa and spent the night at the Crowne ... Read More
Home being Montreal we selected this 12 days repositioning cruise for the convenience of being closer to home when we disembarked in Boston, it also gave us a sixth port of call. One way flight to Tampa and spent the night at the Crowne Plaza Tampa-Westshore. The room was spacious, continental breakfast and transit to the ship for $10.00 pp. Embarkation - Arrived at the pier around 10:30 am. Embarkation was easy and fast, we were on the ship by 11:00 am. Coming on board they offer you special deals for the cruise, soft drink card, specialty restaurant package, wine package... after some checking we took the wine package. You pick 8 to 12 bottles for the list they give you for a 20% discount. Keep in mind that you'll have to pay a 15% gratuities charge so you end up with a 5% discount. Ship - NCL Dawn was a pleasant surprise for us. The lay out of the ship makes it easy to get your bearings, the decor is tastefully done especially the Venetian dinning room. The staff were excellent across the board. Anywhere you went they're present and always ready to help with a smile. Sun Deck - Never had to look for a chair on deck. I mean we got up there around 09:30-10:00 am. The service on the decks is ever present but not over bearing. They came by a few times with fruit kebab or a nice cold face cloth. A BBQ at noon every day on deck. Nice spacious pool, as ship goes. Activities - The cruise director was very good we must say as we aren't the type to participate in those games. He was very verbal and entertaining enough that we got up most of the time to go enjoy his play full games most of the time. He also seemed to be every where with his staff. The best we've seen so far after 5 cruises. Buffet - The buffet offered a varied selection every day. It was well presented and tasty every time we lunched or had breakfast there. Above average buffet our compliments to the head chef and staff. Venetian main dinning room - The ship's dinning room is the nicest we've seen so far in 5 cruises. Very stylish and classy, Venetian glass light fixture and Italian art. Leo our waiter was knowledgeable in every aspect of is dining room so much so we requested him every night. Our cruise mates and us enjoy a good table and conversation. Leo never rushed us, he never gave the full order to the kitchen so every plate that came out of there was served almost instantaneously hot and fresh. No waiting around on a counter while you finish your appetizers. Such a good waiter that we asked to be seated in is section 10 days in a row. We sincerely hope to have the pleasure of meeting him on a future cruise with NCL. The food quality was great overall. Again our compliments to the Venetian dinning room head chef and his staff. Cagney's - Steak house specialty restaurant, Cagney's offers a very nice menu. The meat selection is very good. The food was well prepared and tasty. The service was a bit above average. The whole experience was agreeablee but we don't feel $30.00 pp extra is warranted. Le Bistro - French restaurant? Nice decor helped by the fact that there is an original Van Gogh, Monet and Renoir painting on the wall. Food was good, service was attentive but average. The problem with Le Bistro (same thing on the Epic) is that they say it is a French restaurant. So this time I asked ahead how they prepared the Coquille St-Jacques. Good thing I did. The bottom line is if you can't prepare it the French way why bother putting it on the menu. I have no problem with the extra $20.00 pp as long as I get what is advertise. French cuisine is not French-American fusion... Entertainment - We didn't attend any show as we are dining room groupies. But from what we heard from cruise mates they were good if not above. Disembarkation - Any way you do it, self disembarked or with NCL the process was easy and efficient. 20 minutes after being call, purple in our case, 20 minutes later we were on the dock. Repositioning - The itinerary and length is the beauty of a repositioning cruise. When we cruise for 7 days with 3 or 4 port of call when we get home bushed. This cruise with it's 5 port of call and 6 days at sea was perfectly balance for us. A mix of western (Ocho Rios, Jamaica), eastern (St-Maarten and St-Thomas) and southern Caribbean (Curaçao and Aruba) no ordinary itinerary. The price of this cruise made it even more tempting... like having 5 free night on board. We are now looking to next year as me might take this repositioning cruise again. The good news is they will stop in Grand Cayman instead of Ocho Rios. Jamaica is a beautiful island but the people are to aggressive with the tourist Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
we have sailed Carnival many times, Celebration, several times and Royal Caribbean a few times. but we happened upon the best cruise we have ever taken last October when our travel agent from Carnival, Jackie Dyson, mentioned a re-po ... Read More
we have sailed Carnival many times, Celebration, several times and Royal Caribbean a few times. but we happened upon the best cruise we have ever taken last October when our travel agent from Carnival, Jackie Dyson, mentioned a re-po cruise. We had certainly heard of re-positioning cruises, but never seemed to get enough info about them to set one up. this time we were in luck. we decided on Carnival again and the cruise was from Tampa, Florida to Barcelona, Spain. 16 days, 8 ports and what we thought would be a whirl wind of fun. we always get an inside cabin and in this case the inside cabin on this cruise turned out to cost about $100 more than we had been paying for the same cabin on our 7 day Caribbean cruises. this was hard to believe, but true. we had never been on the Legend before, but what a pleasant surprise when we embarked at Tampa. The embarkation process was fast and easy as it usually is on Carnival Cruises. the ship was magnificent. the decor was that of many legends, both of man and fable. there was a bar designed around the life of Billie Holiday, one around Satchmo (the legendary, Louis Armstrong) the Lido deck walls are covered with the legend of Hercules, all the walls on all the decks have fabled legends depicted on them. on a previous cruise on the Dream we had come across a change in the menu in the dining room. it wasn't obvious to first time cruisers but to those of us who had cruised many times before, it was significant. they had eliminated several of the more expensive items, like escargot and the lobster tails were slipper tails not the normal larger ones. so when we arrived at our appointed table for our first dinner on the Legend, we didn't know what to expect. we were pleasantly surprised night after night. the food was presented beautifully, served by a great wait staff and all of our favorites had been returned to the menu. the dining experience was exceptional. the professional Broadway-like shows, we really enjoyed and they had several different ones. there were also various variety shows in the main auditorium. a magician, a few individual singer shows and more. all in all a great way to end your evening. we attended various seminars given on the ship on traveling, shopping, gems and others too. enjoyed the champagne art auctions, bingo, karaoke, dancing lessons and more kept us busy every day. we didn't go into the pool much, although it looked inviting, because the weather wasn't conducive but we did spend quite a bit of time on the Lido deck enjoying the food and the sunshine and the company of our fellow cruisers. we met Keith the piano player/singer, at Billy's Bar, one morning on the Lido deck where we were having breakfast, and soon we became frequent visitors at Billy's. we met the regulars and soon became part of the gang and sang along with them far into many a night. you can keep as busy or as stay as quiet as you like. days reading or listening to music in any of the common areas of the ship are at your beck and call or keeping busy by going to any or all of the possibilities listed in the ships daily newsletter. sixteen days- exciting, wonderful ports, get days at sea, a really spectacular vacation. we did not disembark in Barcelona, Spain with the other passengers, but our baggage remain on board for our return to the ship to continue on with our second cruise to through the Mediterranean. after spending the day in Barcelona we returned to the Legend and found our baggage had been moved to our new room and the entire re-embarkation process was done smoothly and quickly. we plan on taking this re-positioning cruise again and again and using all the knowledge that our fellow cruisers had imparted to us to make the next cruises even better.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
The Ryndam carried us on our first trans Atlantic cruise. We had smooth sailing, wonderful service and food. We enjoyed all of the ports, especially Barcelona. But, the one thing I'd really rave about is their five new shows. They are ... Read More
The Ryndam carried us on our first trans Atlantic cruise. We had smooth sailing, wonderful service and food. We enjoyed all of the ports, especially Barcelona. But, the one thing I'd really rave about is their five new shows. They are Broadway-quality shows with exquisite costumes, professionally choreographed dancing, fabulous music, varied and gorgeous sets. One of the shows even showcased an aerial performance. Three of the shows won national awards in their category. So, if you're sailing on the Ryndam and also the Nordam, be sure to attend these phenomenal new shows--they aren't the usual fair of quaint singing and dancing! As of right now, these shows are being scaled to be reproduced on several of HAL's smaller ships too. So, be watching for fantastic new shows on HAL! (How do I know? Our son is the set designer. We went on this long cruise so we'd be sure to see all 5 of the shows!) Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We booked this cruise because we had fallen in love with the ship and the crew on our fall trans-Atlantic cruise on this ship. We wanted to come back to the Ryndam and whoever said 'you can't go back' was very wrong. This ... Read More
We booked this cruise because we had fallen in love with the ship and the crew on our fall trans-Atlantic cruise on this ship. We wanted to come back to the Ryndam and whoever said 'you can't go back' was very wrong. This cruise was even better than the first time. FLIGHT To start our holiday we flew with WestJet from Moncton to Tampa - a good flight. Comfortable seats and excellent in flight staff. HOTEL We were booked into the Riverwalk Sheraton and found the hotel comfortable and its restaurant to have good food as we ate there for the two days we stayed. We had a room with a balcony overlooking the river and spent time watching the activity on the river. The downside of the hotel occurred after we had left on our cruise. We had been warned here on cruise critic about crooks who used equipment to scan charge cards and passports that have embedded technology. Before we left home we purchased covers to protect our charge cards and passports. When we arrived at the hotel to check-in (our room was already paid) we were asked for a charge card to cover incidentals - which is normal procedure. When my husband's card was scanned he was told 'it was not working'. He then pulled out a back up card which is never used but after he pulled it out he was told his original cards was now fine and working. This was the only time and place this backup card was brought out. Internet is never good in the middle of the Atlantic and we did not bother to try checking our bank information until about two weeks after sailing - because we were not using our cards. It was a shock to see that almost $1000 had been run up on my husband's back up charge card - after we had left the hotel and embarked on the ship! These charges were in Tampa and other locations in Florida. My husband immediately contacted his charge company and that card was cancelled and the charges reversed. I hope the businesses that lost money track down the thief or thieves and charge them. EMBARKATION We took a taxi to the ship around 11:00 a.m. and our luggage was promptly taken and we were only waiting a short time before having our photo taken and our cabin keycard issued. We went to our cabin - dropped off our carry on cases, put our money and passports in our safe and headed off to the Rotterdam dining room for the 'welcome back luncheon'. We went back to our cabin after lunch and the first of our suitcases was already there and by the time we had it unpacked, the other cases had arrived. Absolutely excellent service. THE CREW We were delighted to find we had the same Captain, Werner Timmers, and the same Hotel Director, Simon de Boer on this cruise. The captain has a great sense of humour and is very personable and visible to the passengers. Simon has become a friend of myself and my husband - who appreciate both his kindness and his teasing. He is the heart and soul of the ship. We were delighted to find a lot of the crew we had met in the fall were still on board and very pleased that they remembered us too. ENVIRONMENT The Ryndam is a small ship (approximately 1200 passengers and 500 crew members). It is also an older ship that has recently had a refit and new carpets were visible in many locations. It is extremely well maintained. We found the ship very clean - and the first three days after each embarkation (we were on for 3 back to back cruises) the cleaning was constant and repeated over and over again to ensure that embarking passengers were not bringing illness aboard. There were middle of the night checks (while passengers were sleeping) by crew to test for any bacteria. These were the healthiest cruises we have ever been on as a result of the hard work of the crew. I saw an earlier review that stated otherwise. As far as I am concerned (and others in our ship roll-call who saw the review agree)it was a pack of lies by someone hiding behind a handle who was not willing to sign their name to their review. I am more that willing to state my name and give an honest review of our cruises. When one is in a port of call - the ship is open to the elements - flies or birds can come on board temporarily on Lido deck - but these do not remain there. I never saw the Lido deck other than clean. FOOD The food on the Ryndam is excellent whether one is in the Rotterdam dining room or the Lido cafeteria. There is terrific variety in the menus and in 34 days we were never bored with the food and could eat something different every dinner - never repeating ourselves unless we wanted to do so. The quality and freshness were excellent, we were especially delighted with the wide variety of sugar-free desserts available to my diabetic husband. We have never found this variety on any other ship or cruise line. We were amazed by the number of specialty regional meals, deck barbeques, chocolate evenings and other offerings in addition to all the regular dining choices. Even more impressive was the sizing of the meals and variety of healthy options so that one could enjoy all the wonderful meals without gaining a lot of weight. The first two days after embarkations - the Lido was not self-serve - to prevent any health issues. It means more work for the crew but certainly paid off in having a healthy ship with healthy passengers and crew. I owe a special thank you to Avinash - one of the excellent chefs on board - for sharing recipes of some of our favourite dishes. WINE STEWARDS and BAR SERVICES In the past we have opted for open dining. This time we switched to traditional dining simply because our favourite wine steward was working in the traditional part of the dining room. Roy Nunga is an absolute gem. We arrived for dinner and the first thing he said was 'I have some of that Moscata wine you liked, Stephanie'. This was 6 months after we had last seen him but he remembered us and what we enjoy drinking. My husband loves red wines and Roy suggested different ones that Dave might like and he never disappointed. In all honesty - I probably drank more wine in that 34 days than I drank in the last year - simply because Roy was so adept at finding wines I would enjoy. Roy and our waiters Rudy and Yohannes definitely added to our dining pleasure - anticipating our wishes and just being nice friendly people. In the bars - we found the staff to be always friendly and helpful - even if just looking for a glass of ice water rather than a cocktail. STATEROOM We picked cabin 359 again as we had that cabin on our fall trans-Atlantic cruise. This cabin is on deck 6 and is an inside cabin. We joke that we have the largest balcony on board as we just leave our cabin - walk a few steps and are out on the deck to stroll around the ship or sit in one of the many lounge chairs to read. We also picked that cabin because it is just a short walk to the atrium. The Sjoelen (Dutch shuffleboard) games are there and we both became quite addicted to them on the previous cruise. Our cabin was comfortable (beds and pillows are excellent, there is more storage area than we could actually fill. We had three suitcases with us as well as carry-on luggage and there was still free space when everything was unpacked. Our cabin stewards Johar and Ronald for the first 16 days and Ronald and Wayan for the second 16 days did a marvellous job of keeping the cabin neat and tidy and still found time to refill fruit bowls and make towel animals every evening. We are big people and found we had sufficient room in our cabin to be comfortable - even with the addition of a fridge (for Dave's insulin) and a fan (I have temperature problems) for me. The laundromat is just down the hall and the location of our cabin is quiet - who could ask for more? ENTERTAINMENT We were definitely spoiled for choice on ship. The Cruise Directors (Eric for the T/A and Kieron for the European cruises)were both excellent and their staff was very hard working. There were port lectures and other lectures of interest. There were cooking demonstrations and entertaining tips and hints. There were our much enjoyed trivia contests and there were loads of games and activities. I don't think we have ever been as active on any cruise in the past as we were on this cruise. We played Baggo, and Golf putting and entered Sjoelen tournaments. There were dozens of active choices available. I don't know when some of the entertainment staff (of Location staff as they are now calling it) ever get to sleep as there were things to do from early in the morning until evening. The library on board is excellent and we read more than a dozen books while on this cruise. There are a variety of games available at the library - really something for everyone. As well one could borrow Ipods and do a self guided tour of the ship and its artwork - something we have done in the past. There were computer courses available as well as computers and internet time for the folks who like to keep in touch with home and friends while cruising. There was a variety of music around the ship ranging from a fabulous violinist and piano duo who entertained in the Explorer lounge, a guitarist/singer who entertained in the Mix, a dance group who played in the Ocean bar for those of us who love traditional and ballroom dancing, a group in the Crow's Nest who played for the younger crowd, a pianist/singer who entertained in the evenings and of course DJ music in the Crow's nest too. There were some wonderful guest entertainers in the showroom, ranging from magicians, jugglers, impressionists, musicians and singers. Some of our favourites were Stringfever - 4 English guitarists; Al Brown -singer/entertainer; Zambara (a local cultural show that came on at Palma de Mallorca);Shirley Domingues - a harpist; and Penny Mathisen a singer with a gorgeous voice. The production entertainers - the singers and dancers of the Ryndam - were fantastic. There are all new production shows on board and they are not to be missed. They are some of the most unique and outstanding shows I have ever seen - as good as anything on Broadway or the West End. The four singers all have lovely voices on their own but also harmonize beautifully. The shows are all new - adding video to the productions and absolutely fantastic costumes. I have never seen as many costume changes as in these shows and all of them have played to enthusiastic audiences. In the past I used to get bored with some production shows but these are new and innovative and exciting - do not miss them ! A big thumbs up to the Ryndam orchestra too. They did a great job - working with so many different guest performers - with a wide variety of music and had a great sound. SERVICE I have read a negative review of the service on board and I am here to say - it is not true. We had fabulous service everywhere on ship. Our cabin stewards were wonderful and very accommodating and our cabin was always in excellent condition. Our dining room waiter Rudy and his assistant Yohannes were terrific. They made sure there was always brown bread or rolls on our table (white is not good for diabetics) and they were efficient, accurate and more importantly - were fun. Holland America staff is well trained - but they are also people and we enjoy talking, teasing and having fun with them. We talk to everyone and we were treated like guests - not just customers - and there is a big difference in that. We felt welcomed, wanted and we were definitely pampered. I've mentioned Roy, our wine steward, before. He added to our pleasure at dinner time with the wines and the conversation. My white wine was always chilled and waiting for me and Dave's red wines were ready for him and Roy had suggestions for the next bottles as these ones emptied. He never disappointed because he provided wines that we enjoyed, in a price range we could afford. The 'Maitre d's' welcomed us and other waiters and staff that were looking after other tables always spoke to us as well. The gentleman with the ginger and mints as we left the dining room knew what we liked and it was ready for us when he saw us coming. There might be 1200 guests on the ship - but we were always made to feel special. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Lido most of the time and the staff there was wonderful too. It is self serve but it was hard to do that there as someone would say - I'll get your tea or let me carry your plate for you. People were so helpful. We would have staff come to the table and say - can I get your coffee for you - and have to say No thanks - some one else is already doing that. We were well and truly spoiled. The ladies and gentlemen in the serving lines got to know us and what we liked and I must admit I ate more turkey bacon than I would have at home as Trishna really spoiled me at breakfast. Staff met us at entrances with sanitizing liquid - even though self serve machines were there - and we stayed healthy - as did the other guests on board. We saw other staff from housekeeping working hard keeping the ship clean and the public bathrooms spotless. I have never seen as much constant cleaning and polishing on a ship as on this ship - and it was beautiful. The front desk was awesome. It was a delight to see staff I had met before on other cruises and I especially appreciated their patience with me as I must have de-magnetized my keycard about 8 times on this cruise. Between my magnetic bracelet and having the camera get close to my key card -- I must have been there at least once a week to get a replacement card. I owe a special thanks to Angelo who was there for the T/A part of our cruise. We started our cruise as two star mariners but would have enough to become 3 stars after the first week. Our agent had told us the star change would probably not happen until after the second cruise and the information on it said about 10 days after it ended -- but Angelo contacted the Mariner section of HAL and we were awarded our 3 stars after the first part of our cruises. Now we are working to get up to 4 stars. I really appreciated his efforts for us. As well, when we discovered the charges that had been run up on my husband's card - the staff at reception immediately called through to the charge company for him so he could get this situation corrected. The photography department on ship was much appreciated. Because my husband and I have been on a lot of cruises in the last 7 and a half years -- we have dozens of photos. Both of us really do not want more until we slim down. No thank you was accepted politely without people pushing us to have photos. We have been on ships where staff was really pushy -- not here. They were very pleasant. I only visited the Spa once. I had an excellent massage and later stopped by for a minute to purchase a spa product. Usually I visit more often but this trip we seemed to be always doing something and I was so totally relaxed on this cruise that I did not feel a need to de-stress in the spa. Housekeeping was really efficient in more ways than one. One day I was doing laundry and one of the machines was not working. In less than a half hour -- people were checking on it and it was immediately repaired. I wish we had repair people like that at home -- where one can wait for a week for a service man to come and fix something. They really kept on top of things on the cruise -- any problem was quickly looked after. PORTS OF CALL I have said earlier that the ship was the destination and holiday for us -- the ports of call were just icing on the cake. We had 19 ports of call between Tampa and Dover. We visited some of them but not all of them as we had been to many of them quite a few times in the past. I will comment under that section about the ports we visited. DISEMBARKATION British immigration boarded the ship in A Coruna and processed all the passengers before we reached Dover. This was quick and efficient and better still -- saved long line ups and delays when we left the ship. Disembarkation was well organized. We opted to leave at the earliest possible time and said our good-byes and walked off to get our luggage and then board a bus. We had booked a tour with 'International Friends' which was a day long tour. We went first to Canterbury and spent several hours there and then continued on to lovely Leeds Castle for a three hour visit there. After that it was on to London where we were taken to our assorted hotels and to the airport for those flying home that evening. We were at our hotel by 6 in the evening and would highly recommend this tour as an excellent way to get from Dover to London. SUMMARY This cruise was a holiday and a celebration for us. We had my birthday, Dave's birthday and our anniversary in a 9 day period in April. They were very special occasions -- because of Simon de Boer -- and gave us memories we will always treasure. We were certainly spoiled beyond anything we have experienced in the past and in all honesty, hated to leave the ship when we reached the end of our voyages. It was without doubt the best cruise we have ever experienced and I say that after nearly 400 nights on ships in the last 8 years. We have never had a bad cruise -- some better than others- but at the end of them we were ready to come back home. This time we would happily have stayed on for another 34 nights if it had been possible. I fully believe that the cruise was wonderful because of the Hotel Director Simon de Boer and his wonderful staff. Attitude comes down from the top. Simon's standards are passed down and the staff we met and the experiences we had on ship were all outstanding. We look forward to an opportunity to cruise with him again. The highest rating it is possible to award here is 5+ stars. If there was a higher rating -- I would be giving it. Stephanie Chazalon ( Steph'n'Dave) Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
It was great to get back to the Ryndam after a somewhat diappointing cruise on the Niew Amsterdam. The Ryndam reminded me why I like HAL so much - the service was simply outstanding. What a wonder group of people! The Niew AMsterdam is ... Read More
It was great to get back to the Ryndam after a somewhat diappointing cruise on the Niew Amsterdam. The Ryndam reminded me why I like HAL so much - the service was simply outstanding. What a wonder group of people! The Niew AMsterdam is just too large to provide the individual touch that I experienced on the Ryndam. Food also was a bit iffy on the NA but was outstanding on the Ryndam. I retired last summer and my yougner wife is still working. I've always wanted to try a longer cruise (seven days is our typical one) and a TransAtlantic, and my wife is interested in neither. It's hard to beat the price, even for a single, on a repositioning crusie. So off I went. After booking an inside on the lower prom deck, I was upgraded to an obstructed view outside on the same deck. Early cruises have all been in cabins with verandas so I thought I would miss it. but I still had quick access to the promanade deck. And, the weather generally was not conducive to being outside so the veranda wouldn't have gotten much use anyway. I made my own air arrangements. After a $20, 20 minute cab ride I was checked in at 11:30. Boarding started at noon. I was in group 8 and in my cabin by 12:20pm. I was able to carry my bags so can't comment on luggage delivery times. Although I am a three star Mariner (four after this trip?) I went to Lido for lunch. There were no lines (as was the case the entire 15 days) and the food selection, quality, temperature, etc. was great. I had requested fixed seating for dining at a large table. They had placed me with six other singles and that worked out just fine. We all "bonded" quickly and I enjoyed dinner for the duration of the cruise. There were daily singles get togethers scheduled that were reasonably well attended. We sailed from Tampa to Bermuda arriving on day five. Weather had been warm and seas very calm. I thoroughly enjoyed a visit on my own to the excellent Bermuda History Museum in the Dockyards at King's Wharf. Leaving Bermuda, the seas and wind picked up considerably and temperature dropped a bit each day. We had 20 foot seas and 30-40 knot winds. The ship was rocking and rolling, but not enough to curtail any activities as far as I could tell. The rolling did create a problem. My cabin (forward port side) was right under a space used for emergency exits from the showroom. There was a door at the top of the space going up to the outside that kept springing open. Then as the ship rolled the door would bang against the adjacent metal wall. This kept me up for two nights until they installed a rubber door stop and worked on the latch to keep the door closed. The front office staff handled this with great concern and care. They offered to move me to an mid-ship outside on a lower deck (declined - I liked where I was) and to my great surprise provided a $75 credit to my account on the last day of the cruise as compensation for the experience. After Bermuda, there were seven full days at sea. Would I get bored? Absolutely not! There were two excellent lecture series: one by a meteorologist specializing in cyclones, tornados, waterspouts and hurricane; and, an astronomer with great lectures on the stars and planets. I also attended all the cooking demonstrations in the excellent Culinary Arts Center, Sydney, the onboard Party Planner, made these great fun and enlisted the Captain, Executive Chef, and Cruise Director to provide some variety along with the culinary chef, Andie. The movie selections were also great -- including "The Artist." Music was also varied and outstanding: a string quartet made up of four young ladies from Romania; a jazz pianist/singer with a trio in the Ocean bar each night; a popular pianist/singer in Mix and a folk/country guitarist/singer early in the evening in Mix. There were also various fun themed events. For example, we sailed directly over the Titanic's resting place exactly one week before the 100th anniversary of her sinking. The precise time overhead was 1 AM in the morning. Captain Timmers canvassed for volunteers to gather in the Crow's Nest starting at midnight to form a special "Iceberg Lookout Watch Team." And all in attendance received formal certificates marking the event. (This was all tongue in cheek -- the icebergs now are all well mapped and tracked!) So the sea days were relaxing, but busy. I found myself unable to fit in all the events I wanted to attend. In fact I was usually exhausted and went to bed soon after dinner. So I did not attend any of the nightly entertainment events in the Showroom. I did hear lots of favorable comments about the shows. During the crossing, I focused on food attending La Cirque Night in the Pinnacle Grill; the Cellar Master's six course meal with special wine pairings, also in the Pinnacle; and "Dine with Chef." Here the Executive Chef prepares a seven course meal in front of 12 guests seated around the counter in the Culinary Arts Center. Again, each course was paired with a special wine. After this dinner I got an email announcing the arrival of my second grandchild, an 8 lb 7 oz girl. She was born during the entree course and joins her three year old brother. Meals in the Main Dining Room were also excellent with varied menus, fast efficient service and cold items were cold, and hot items were hot. I lunched most days in the Lido. Again selection was very broad. Any occasional line cleared quickly. Food was hot (or cold if it was supposed to be) and there was never an issue with seating. By the seventh day of the crossing, weather was in the forty's but winds had calmed somewhat as we reached our second port, St. Malo in Brittany, France. I had booked the ship sponsored tour to Mont St. Michele. This is truly a spectacular, unique place and was clearly the highlight of the cruise. The next day we were in Cherbourg. The terminal here is the Art Deco building -- the last on visited by the Titanic. There is an outstanding maritime museum adjacent to the terminal. I visited this in the morning before leaving after lunch on the ship's tour to Utah Beach and St. Marie Eglise. Although the scenery could not match Mont St. Michele, the tour was quite good. Then we were onto Zeebrugge, Belgium with options for several tours in Bruges and Brussels. Here I had booked a beer tasting tour through the ship. Unfortunately not enough people signed up and the tour was cancelled. This was probably for the best. As we arrived the temperature was forty degrees, the wind was 40 mph and it was raining. I did not have the right clothes to deal with this weather. So I cancelled plans to venture into Bruges on my own and spent a quiet day on the ship. Arrival in Rotterdam was right on time. Disembarkation was well managed and uneventful. I am a bit surprised about the comments saying the Ryndam is showing her age. If one looks hard, there a few spots where metal is marred or wood is worn. But I saw no worn carpeting and the ship was very clean and orderly. (In fact, the carpeting in the Caneletto was replaced one evening while we were at sea.) Again, after the abundance of brash plastic on the Niew Amsterdam it was nice to see the mellow wood finishes that dominate on the Ryndam. My flight from Amsterdam was too early to try and leave the same day. A retired business colleague lives in the city and took me around the harbor and Rotterdam. It is a beautiful city and I was glad to finally see more of it than just a conference room on many earlier business visits there in the past. He dropped me at the Central Station in Rotterdam where I caught the high speed train directly to Schipol airport. After spending the night there at the Hilton I flew back to Washington, DC to visit a lovely new granddaughter. My only negative was expensive, slow, spotty internet service. Although it gets better each time I cruise, it still has a long ways to go. I didn't realize how much I relied on access to the internet. Although I would love to do more long cruises, I probably won't until service improves and pricing is reasonable Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Left Tampa Bay on HAL's Ryndam, suite 171, great ship, clean, good crew, good chow. 12 ports of call. Really liked the stateroom and patio. Some of the entertainment (particularly the four young female Ukrainian violinist, in a nice ... Read More
Left Tampa Bay on HAL's Ryndam, suite 171, great ship, clean, good crew, good chow. 12 ports of call. Really liked the stateroom and patio. Some of the entertainment (particularly the four young female Ukrainian violinist, in a nice quiet lounge, just before dinner) and cruise pertinent lectures were excellent. Captain did a super job as we ran into a storm, mid Atlantic, he went far south, almost to the equator to get around it. Put us a little behind schedule but no big deal. Entire trip, the ocean was like a mill pond. Particularly liked the eat any time feature. First time on HAL where we that option. No getting stuck with the same political bores every evening at the dinner table. Never had a delay getting a table either, usually ate by ourselves. We used the Pinnacle Grill three times, it is the best of any lines alternative dining options the we have been on. First became aware of the Pinnacle quality on the Prinsendam during a three monther. Also the Canaletto alternative (no extra charge) was great. We used that one at least 10 times. Tables were a little too close but other than that we certainly liked the cuisine and table staff. I like the Ryndam, just the right size ship and well taken care of. Shore excursions were all good. HAL does a great job on these, but so does Princess and Regent, the only other two lines we use. One of the best port excursions they don't have listed here. St Malo, France. France. Great day, a rare super surprise, visited Mont Saint Michel and toured that historic little island and then stopped at Cancale for oysters and local white wine. Best oysters I have ever tasted. Same with the wine and I'm a red drinker. Beautiful little fishing village where we were served. I give that day a five plus rating. Don't list Cherbourg,France either. Normandy beachheads. Wow, best long one day excursion ever, and we have been cruising for over twenty years on the high seas and I missed that until now. Be sure and do Omaha Beach, don't take just Utah Beach tour. Also Mulberry B and the museum there are a must. Five plus plus. Not enough space here for me to tell how great it was, you have to see that yourself. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Caribbean on the Veendam In this world of political correctness and a hyphenated society I guess I should call this critique the Caribbean on the Carnival/Holland America Veendam. The passengers may have had a few more motorized wheel ... Read More
Caribbean on the Veendam In this world of political correctness and a hyphenated society I guess I should call this critique the Caribbean on the Carnival/Holland America Veendam. The passengers may have had a few more motorized wheel chairs and a few less children but for the most part, the passengers were what I would have expected on a Holland America cruise. There were a lot of gray hairs, elegant dresses, tuxedos, good shows and sumptuous dining. However, you could see the Carnival atmosphere creeping in every so often. T-shirts and blue jeans were seen frequently in the dining room in the evening. However, let me start at the beginning. Since we live in Tampa, we arrived at the cruise terminal at 1:00 pm so that our cabin would be ready by the time we embarked and it was. The embarkation process took about ten minutes and we went straight to our cabin to deposit our hand luggage before heading to the Lido deck for our first meal. The timing could not have been better because when they announced that the cabins were ready, the passengers waiting for their cabins disappeared and there were plenty of good tables available in the Lido dining room. We had sailed on the Veendam before so our stroll around the ship after lunch had few surprises for us. We noticed, however, that a number of changes had been made, all for the better. We stopped by to see the Maitre De to see if we could get late assigned seating since at the time of our booking only open seating was available. There was no late assigned seating available but we were put on the waiting list. Although were had open seating the first night out we did get assigned seating for the rest of the cruise. We then retired to our cabin to rest up for the lifeboat drill. We were disappointed in the "tub" in our bathroom. Having sailed on the Prinsendam last year in a cabin with a six-foot bathtub, the little tub we found in our bathroom can be best described as miniature. It did make a nice shower. After a little rest it was time for the lifeboat drill. Our cabin was number 318 on the lower promenade deck and it was just steps to our lifeboat station which made the lifeboat drill a snap. Stairs and I don't get along too well anymore. On Monday we arrived in Key West at noon. After a quick trip ashore to get some things we had forgotten to pack it was back on board to enjoy the quiet ship. We retired to the Crows Nest to enjoy the departure from Key West over a couple of cokes. It wasn't until we got our bill at the end of the cruise that we realized that we had to pay state tax on the drinks. I guess that Florida needs the money. On Monday night we had our first production show, "Hits of Broadway". It was one of the best shows I have ever seen on our many cruises. The singers and dancers were talented and full of enthusiasm. We also found Laree at the piano bar. This became our favorite hangout each night after dinner. A group of us became regulars for the rest of the cruise. Tuesday was a sea day and the sea was just a little rough. While the roll was not excessive it made walking in a straight line challenging. There was a host of things to do on board and everybody managed to stay occupied. The evening show was the usual at-sea magic show with nothing new. I would have preferred to see the crew show which was scheduled for 11:15 pm, however, that was a little late for us. Wednesday found us in Belize City. If you like scuba diving or Mayan ruins, you could have a great time in Belize. We chose to forgo the tender ride to shore and enjoyed a quiet day on the Veendam. We took in the movie Mama Mia for the second time, not exactly the entertainment you would expect on a Holland America cruise. We went up to the Lido deck for the pool party and thought we had been transported to a Carnival cruise ship. We quickly made our exit to a quieter venue. Thursday found us at Santo Tomas, Guatemala. After a stroll around the displays on the dock we returned to the ship for another quiet day reading and enjoying a drink in the Crows Nest. The evening entertainment was another outstanding show by the Veendam singers and dancers. Our port of call on Friday was Costa Maya, a throw away stop if ever there was one. Lee Bayless was a great comic and we really enjoyed his show. Then it was dinner, a little sing along at the piano bar and off to bed. Saturday was another quiet day at sea and the debarkation on Sunday was quiet and quick, so much better than on the bigger cruise ships. My biggest disappointment on the cruise was the Cruise Director, Eric Holland. He must have begun his career with Carnival because he must have thought that his audience was a bunch of ten year olds. He should leave comic to comediennes and get rid of the pirate outfit. He came off as phony as a three dollar bill. While the food was adequate, after awhile there was a sameness about it that detracted from the dining experience. I missed the waiters balancing a tray of eight servings on one hand over their heads as they approached the table. And the light sticks on baked Alaska night was laughable (another Carnival innovation?) We have a 22 days cruise on the Rotterdam coming up the middle of April which we had booked before the Veendam cruise so we will have another chance to see if Holland America has completely transitioned to the Carnival family. If they have, it looks like Princess has taken over the number one spot in our cruise parade. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click