602 Tampa Romantic Cruise Reviews

Our friends had planned to go on this cruise and invited us. We have no regrets, the crew were pleasent,helpful,and very friendly. There was always something going on. Day and night. We very much enjoyed your band Paridise band. The ... Read More
Our friends had planned to go on this cruise and invited us. We have no regrets, the crew were pleasent,helpful,and very friendly. There was always something going on. Day and night. We very much enjoyed your band Paridise band. The music was fantastic, they sang a wide variety of songs,country, rock,oldies, blues no end to what they would sing. They were very friendly band members would include viewers to participate my husband really enjoyed that. We would listen to them till 1am. People were dancing, children were dancing . Just all aropund great time. We spent alot of time in pool also.Would get busy at times but always was room for more. We met some very nice people and no one got upset if they would get splashed. There was also raffles that gave away perfumes,men's cologne, men's and lady watches. They even gave away a passport pandora charm that I was lucky enough to win . It is a wonderful memory and addition to my braclet. I have to say out of the three cruise I have been on this was my best Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We chose this cruise because it went to two of our favorite ports: Grand Cayman and Cozumel. This was our third cruise, second time on Carnival. The first Carnival cruise was 5 1/2 years ago, to the Southern Caribbean, out of San Juan ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it went to two of our favorite ports: Grand Cayman and Cozumel. This was our third cruise, second time on Carnival. The first Carnival cruise was 5 1/2 years ago, to the Southern Caribbean, out of San Juan (on the Valor), and we really enjoyed it. This cruise on the Paradise was disappointing in comparison. Embarkation was extremely quick and painless. Our assigned time was 1-1:30 and we made it there closer to 1:30. Probably waited about 15 minutes total to get onboard , which was superb. Our cabin (R228) was comfy and clean enough, and our steward, James was AMAZING! He took such great care of us while we were onboard. This oceanview room had what we needed and was quiet. The aft location was great for being close to the buffet and the Serenity deck, where we like to spend time. The worst part about it was that the hallway almost constantly smelled like sewage. James did his best to report and get the smell dealt with, but it would return. Luckily the smell did not extend to our cabin! But there was something going on in that area of the ship, for sure, to keep causing that smell. We had anytime dining and never had to wait more than 15 minutes for a table in the Elation restaurant. The waiters, waitresses and hostesses were very friendly and did a great job, however, the food left much to be desired. We had much better food on our last Carnival cruise, years ago. The soups were all very good, as was the shrimp cocktail, but the main courses were barely okay. Chicken, fish, and steak were all overcooked and dry - tasted reheated, and came with about a tablespoonful of vegetables. Ordered grilled fish a couple of times and it was baked - nothing grilled about it whatsoever, not to mention the fact that it was old (fishy tasting). Nothing to write home about with any of the main courses. No lobster, either, unless you paid an extra $20. The beef lasagna was the one we enjoyed most, although it could have used more sauce. The desserts were good and we looked forward to them each evening. The melting chocolate cake (Carnival's signature dessert - formerly called Molten Lava Cake) however, was revised since our last cruise and was no longer good. We only ordered it the first night (on our first cruise, we ordered it every night!). It used to be delicious and now it's just a ramekin of lukewarm completely uncooked cake that's not even good as a custard, and the ice cream on the side doesn't fit with it at all. We were not impressed with the changes they made to it. The best desserts were the S'mores parfait, the hazelnut chocolate cake and the roasted pineapple. The food in the buffet - The Paris Restaurant - was better than we got in the Elation most days. The omelettes were great and they had a good variety of breakfast foods. We enjoyed lunches at Guy's Burgers and the Blue Iguana Burrito Bar. The pizza at Pizza Pirate was good, too. We wished they had had more of a variety of fruit available, though. Mostly apples, oranges, bananas and melon. No berries of any kind, or even grapes. We enjoyed sitting on the Serenity Deck every day and it was usually not too difficult to find lounges available. The whirlpools there were not too hot, which was good, because the air temps were in the 90s. Very relaxing! The main pool area on the Lido deck was usually pretty crowded (and loud) and we only got in the pool once. It was on the cold side, which wasn't all bad, since the temps were pretty hot. One thing we didn't like about the pool area was that there was no airflow, so it remained extremely hot, whereas the Serenity deck had a nice breeze. The cruise director, Adam, was AWESOME and we really enjoyed his audio messages each day, his Love and Marriage Show, and his 70s and 80s parties in the Atrium in the late evenings. Lots of fun! In fact, every crew member we interacted with over the 5 days was very polite and friendly. We felt very welcomed and well cared-for. We felt that this cruise didn't have quite as much available to do as the other Carnival cruise we had been on and the ship seemed a bit small (and maybe not laid out as well as it could've been). I know it was refurbished about a year and a half ago, but whoever did the interior decorating should be fired! It was just plain ugly and none of the decor seemed to coincide or flow smoothly. The whole ship is just old and tired and should be retired! As far as entertainment, we enjoyed the dance shows each evening, but the shows were definitely not as professional as the ones we'd seen in the past, or on the other cruise line we've been on. Their choices of music were great though - 80s, Latin, and rock n roll. There was one girl and one guy who could sing really well, and the rest should have remained as back up singers only. They were all amazing dancers, though! We also liked the Love and Marriage show (hilarious) and the late night shows with Adam. The candy shop is cute and has lots of yummy goodies, although they have it hidden away behind one wall of the casino and it took me three days to find it! (again, not laid out as well as it could've been, for sure.) The ports were excellent choices, but we wished there could have been one more port and one less sea day. We were disappointed about the short amount of time in Grand Cayman. We were on the first or second tender off the ship in the morning, but still only had about 5 hours to spend in port. We felt rushed. We did a cool excursion that stopped at StingRay City and one snorkeling spot (we booked on our own through Trip Advisor), but afterward we barely had time for lunch a couple of blocks from port and no time to shop. In Cozumel, we had a long day (about 9 hours) - plenty of time. It would have been nice if they could have made the Grand Cayman day a little longer and the Cozumel day could have been shortened a little bit. In Cozumel we rented a Jeep and went to Playa Corona for snorkeling, sunning and a snack. Very reasonable prices, good snorkeling right from shore, and great food. Then we drove the rest of the way around the island and ate at Senor Iguanas - we'd been there before. Amazing food and spectacular views! We had a little time to shop when we arrived back at the port, too. One note of caution - if you are renting a Jeep, the traffic in town near the port is extremely hectic, so be careful! If we were going to Sky Reef or Playa Corona, or one of the other beach resorts on the west side, we could have had a cab take us there for the day, and it would've worked fine, and been less of an expense. The Jeep did give us more options to drive around and view the east coast of the island (although it was too windy/ wavy to swim there). Our main goal was to head to Punta Sur (an eco-park that we thoroughly enjoyed last time, but the weather didn't allow for swimming or snorkeling there this time around). All in all, a good day. Disembarking was smooth and ahead of schedule (as far as Carnival was concerned), but the problem came with customs....they didn't have enough agents and we waited over an hour to get through the customs line. We've never waited that long to get off a cruise ship before! We had a fun and relaxing (albeit short) vacation, but we probably won't sail on the Paradise again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Enjoyed this ship overall. One of the best casinos/dealers I’ve experienced although the drink service there was virtually non-existent. Pools need to be refurbished. Cabin was in excellent shape for an older ship. Tampa was one of the ... Read More
Enjoyed this ship overall. One of the best casinos/dealers I’ve experienced although the drink service there was virtually non-existent. Pools need to be refurbished. Cabin was in excellent shape for an older ship. Tampa was one of the smoothest embarkations ever. Did not care for the entertainment on board. Never found a singer or band that knocked my socks off. If you want a ship for the tall water slides & fancy amenities, it may not be for you. If you like a good casino with plenty of tables & machines or you like the nightlife bar scene, this is a good option. Mahogany Bay & Cayman are really nice ports. If you go to Mahogony Bay, go to the far right side of the beach (nearest the ocean) - fantastic keyboard player that sounds like Ray Charles. He made our day. Our cruise was cut short due to hurricane Dorian. A lot of people on board were very upset that we skipped our last port and headed to Tampa. I believe Carnival made the right decision and I appreciate the way it was handled by refunding 1 day including all prepaid options we made. They can’t control the weather and cannot predict when & where a storm will go. Cmon people !!! We got home safe. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Let me preface this review by disclosing that my wife and I are Platinum Level with Princess so that is our comparison. Although we were only Ruby level, the boarding process was quick and easy we arrived for our appointment right on ... Read More
Let me preface this review by disclosing that my wife and I are Platinum Level with Princess so that is our comparison. Although we were only Ruby level, the boarding process was quick and easy we arrived for our appointment right on time and were on board by 12:00 pm. We had a suite so we had early access to our cabin. The Lido deck was packed and so was the buffet so we grabbed a burger ate it really quick and went down and hung out at the Atrium Bar until about 1:30 when we headed to the room to see if luggage arrived so we could unpack. We received our checked luggage around 2:30 pm. We had a Vista Suite due to the price being awesome and it by far was one of the best rooms we have ever had on a ship. Would highly recommend this cabin type on the aft of the ship. Overall the cruise served it's purpose which was rest and relaxation. The ship was really old although we liked the décor. It did not have all the bells and whistles of the newer ships but we managed to keep busy enough. There wasn't a whole lot of quality activities on board. There’s no outside movie theater on this ship. The water slide looked like an antique and there were two pools for everyone and one pool in the Serenity area for the 21 and over area. All pools were packed and the adult only pool was dirty and full of drunks whom I never saw get out to go pee. The comedy entertainment was awesome. The live musical shows were awful. The lead female singer screeched like an owl on attack and there was no diversity in the cast. All white. They even had the nerve to try and do a Motown show with all white performers. Pretty tacky in today's day and age. Most people seemed to be interested in drinking and spending all their time in the Casino. We were disappointed that they did not have any "talks" on Pirates who sailed the Caribbean or of the history of the ports we were visiting. We have always seen these on Princess ships wherever we were traveling. We had the Anytime dining and were seated very quickly each time. However, once seated it took forever to get through dinner. The food was just ok. Nothing to write home about and nothing like the great food we have had on Princess. The buffet, pizza and grill was always crowded and it seemed they always had sections of buffet areas closed so everyone was crammed in the same place trying to get food. We went to the steak house for my birthday which was extra charge, but was awesome and definitely worth doing at least once. We did get the Cheers package and managed to get our money's worth for the cruise. It is a good option if you drink as there were many at the end of the cruise crying at guest services about their bar bills. (that is great entertainment if it is not you LOL) We booked our excursions through Carnival so that we didn't have any issues. The ship stays on eastern time even though you go through two time zones so it can be confusing when on shore. We did the Cayman Land and Sea, Princess Maya Resort, and the Lamanai Ruins tour. All were excellent and we would recommend. We had one booked for Cozumel but we were too exhausted from late nights and early rising so we turned the tickets in. The photographers were everywhere trying to get you to take pictures. They offer no digital package and waste so much paper printing every picture instead of using a photo card and monitors like at Disneyland or other theme parks. Very expensive to purchase photos. Don't do the photo studio unless you are ready to shell out thousands of dollars. The alchemy bar and the Gotham Bar were our favorites. You definitely have to go see Yudi at the Gotham Bar on deck 3 outside of the Bacchus. He is awesome, friendly and a blast to hang out with. Although there were many younger adults on the cruise, the dance floor at Frankenstein's was usually sparsely used. I think the most I counted were 8 people at one time. On Princess you could hardly find a spot to dance. Overall it was a sufficient vacation but continually felt like we were on a floating Motel 6 or Days Inn. Very much a younger crowd. We did not take the kids this time with us. We are willing to try Carnival again but it will definitely be on one of the newer ships with more bells and whistles.. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose the Carnival Miracle simply because it fit our schedule, driving distance and the price was very good. The only down side was a great majority of the staff seemed disconnected. She's a great ship. I never felt crowded or ... Read More
We chose the Carnival Miracle simply because it fit our schedule, driving distance and the price was very good. The only down side was a great majority of the staff seemed disconnected. She's a great ship. I never felt crowded or rushed. The dining room food quality is down from our last cruise only 6 months ago but it was still very good. I only ate the buffet once for lunch. The comedy shows were very funny. I spent a lot of time at the casino bar with Mario the bartender. He always recognized me and suggested some great whiskies and taquilas I would've never tried. We didn't feel safe in Belize so we just took the tender to the port and haggled for a souvenir iguana. We went to Margaritaville in Grand Cayman. It was fun watching all the graduates getting hammered. Mahogany bay was nice but very crowded. Luckily we got beach chairs floats and a clam shell through the on board excursions so we had our pick as we got there ahead of the crowd. Cozumel was great as always. We did the all adult private beach house excursion. We will definitely do that again. It was by far the best of all the ports we visited. The Serenity deck is amazing. The bar opens at 9am. The pool bar opens at 7am. The Miracle is not a typical Carnival cruise ship. She's a little more adult focused but still has all of the Carnival fun stuff. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Port of Tampa was very easy port to get into and park. We had Priority Boarding went great on the ship and eating lunch in 10 min. Carnival Paradise is a smaller ship but has all the upgrades and easy to get around lines were very ... Read More
Port of Tampa was very easy port to get into and park. We had Priority Boarding went great on the ship and eating lunch in 10 min. Carnival Paradise is a smaller ship but has all the upgrades and easy to get around lines were very short every time. The food was the best that we have had on our last few cruises, it was good very good. The staff was very efficient and the ship was always clean and well maintained. Had an elevator go out but was fixed in one day. The only complaint we had was the same as all our resent cruises. Carnival need to be able to figure out the Dance Club. Either the club was not open or the music was for young people all the time. I would think that the cruise line could look at the age of the cruisers and play music that we can relate to. We understand playing music to all age group. We are smokers and this club is one of the three areas on the ship we can smoke but we either run into a locked door or the music is not something we like, and the DJ will not play music on request at all, if he does not like what you are asking for. Over all we had a great cruise and always recommend Carnival Cruise line to our friends Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Embarkation in Tampa on the Carnival Miracle was the fastest and smoothest of our 10 cruises we have been on. We literally where on the ship enjoying buffet 15 mins after our Uber dropped us off at the port. No waiting at all - just ... Read More
Embarkation in Tampa on the Carnival Miracle was the fastest and smoothest of our 10 cruises we have been on. We literally where on the ship enjoying buffet 15 mins after our Uber dropped us off at the port. No waiting at all - just straight through. The boarding arrival appointment time is a great touch. Ours was 11:30-12:00. The ship is an older ship and is in need of a refurbishment to compare to some of the newer ships. The decor is to be appreciated and is themed. We like that most evening entertainment (casino, comedy and playlist shows) and fine dining were all on the same floor. Never had an issue getting loungers. However, pool and hot tubs areas where crowded (like usual). Family wise, I would not recommend this ship as it lacked kid deck activities (only one water slide, no splash pad, no bowling, etc) compared to other carnival ships. We ate in the main dining hall each night. Food and service was great. Ate buffet for breakfast and lunch everyday, did not take advantage of the restaurants during these times. Like all buffets stay away from peak times as it gets really busy. Food was good. Large selection and lots of seating. We had paid the extra for an extendable Balcony on deck 7, room 7165. Room was fine. Lots of storage. Unlike most ships our cabin boy only serviced our room in the morning. He just put your daily itinerary outside of our door in the evening, no turndown service. Cruise director, Frankie, was excellent and did his job well. Interacted a lot with cruisers and made activities fun. Playlist Productions - Heart of Soul (Motown) 2/10. Getaway Island (Beach theme) 6/10. 88 Keys (Rock & Roll Piano) 8/10. 80s POP 7/10. Went to the love and marriage show as always a blast. Great laugh! Highly recommend. 10/10. Went to carnival quest. This is new and our first time trying out this adult only activity. It gets pretty R rated but we had so much fun with friends 10/10! Lip sync battle 10/10. Piano bar with Tony was nice and relaxing. Dr. Frankenstein’s bar was cool. We only attended the R-18 shows. Mike Estime was 20/10 - Fantastic!! By far the best entertainment on the ship for us. Soooo funny! Tears rolling down my cheeks. Caroline Picard 9/10. Tony Esposito. 8/10. Myles Weber 7/10. As a birthday gift (be sure to get your travel agent to put it on your file) Carnival gave me a $50 credit to use at the Spa. I went and had a fire and ice pedicure and it was great. Of course the nail tech was trying to sell me moisturizers, scrubs and oils. She was trying to sell me all of her recommendations while I was trying to “relax”. I didn’t end up buying any products and I won’t be using the spa again. In Cozumel we did the Amazing Underground Caves through Costco Excursions. Highly recommend. It certainly was amazing! In Belize we did Athan Ha and Belize city tour through Costco Excursions. Guide was very informative and we enjoyed it. Nice half day excursion. In Honduras we just went to the right of the pier to the beach. Lounge chairs are free and you can pay nominal fee for wifi. For Cayman Islands, we just hung out on the ship as we have been there before. Quite the treat, serenity area, pool and hot tubs all to ourselves. Disembarkation was organized but took about a hour, which is the longest we ever had to wait. Overall, for the price paid we enjoyed the ship very much. Would we be rushing back on it again?!? Probably not until it has refurbishment as we have been on some of Carnival’s newer ships, but would not discourage anyone from trying the Miracle out. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
I chose this cruise to go visit Cuba and Key West with my husband. Carnival has found a way to nickel and dime you even when you pay for all such as drink package. No bartenders except in serenity that were eager to serve you. Anton was ... Read More
I chose this cruise to go visit Cuba and Key West with my husband. Carnival has found a way to nickel and dime you even when you pay for all such as drink package. No bartenders except in serenity that were eager to serve you. Anton was awesome and the only one to come back and keep us happy. All other bars you had to go to them and wait! Since they do automatic gratuity you get poor service. Food was ok....best thing was guys cheeseburgers. Tiny cups for water. Soda was flat that was part of my drink package. Not much entertainment during the day. Comedy shows were pretty good. One pool for whole ship. Definitely outdated even though it says remodeled in 2019. Would not recommend. Budget vacation/ budget ship! Very disappointed. We bought alcohol and was told by airport that cruise ship should have given us a bag for carrying it on plane-nope didn’t happen so we lost alcohol at security. Mel the cruise ship director was kind of rude. She didn’t have great things going on to engage cruisers. We could have visited Cuba on Tuesday and spent more time in Key West. Went on Monday to Cuba and all Museums are closed on Mondays...... Had to pay a $75/pp visa to go to Cuba. Our room attendant did a great job! Greeted us by first name every time we saw him! Asked me what I wanted done on a daily basis whether I needed more towels etc. he was always smiling!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Just got back from a Holland America Cruise on the Rotterdam. One of the last from the Port of Tampa. Not sure if the staff onboard is starting to get tired or what but some of the services were less than favorable. Embarkation & ... Read More
Just got back from a Holland America Cruise on the Rotterdam. One of the last from the Port of Tampa. Not sure if the staff onboard is starting to get tired or what but some of the services were less than favorable. Embarkation & Disembarkation Very easy. They have this process down very well . Rotterdam ship: Very nice ship, Teak wood upkept very nice. You see the improvements they have done over the years and it looks very nice and clean. Cabin: We had an outside Cabin which seemed very roomie for what it was. Very supprised with all the closet space. nice Touch with the free safe in the room. Bed was very comfortable and the Stewards always kept the room clean and always supplying us with clean towels Dinning: Lido Deck food was very good. Nice that the HAL buffet is served by staff and not a bunch of people reaching in and grabbing food. Food was always fresh and hot. Never needed to add salt to anything we got from the line. Burgers & Hot dogs were good from the Dive Inn grill as long as you didn't get the burger well done.. There Pizza grill did a great job with the NY style pizza. They did keep strange hours on the burger and Pizza service, as neither was 24 hours. Pinnacle Grill- In my opinion, the Main dining room food was better than here. We spent over 2.5 Hours in the Grill. Appetizers were good and hot. Main course I got the Porterhouse and Wife got the Strip Steak. We both asked for Medium Rare and both came back very Rare. I ate mine, but we sent hers back. We cut a piece off right away to check the temp. They took her's back for about 15-20 minutes and brought back the same piece of meat still under cooked (but hot this time) All of the sides came out at room temp initially. When they brought back her steak, they never refreshed the sides for her. For Desert we decide to bring back to the room as we were already there for over 2.25 hours. so she got the lollipop desert cakes along with the chocolates from the table. The waiter put them in aluminum foil and twisted the top.. It looked like one of those weights used to hold down balloons. So when we got back to the cabin it was just a big ball of chocolate. We had a 4 top table come in when She got her second try and they were getting dessert at the same time we did.. Ship services did eventually refund us the up charge and the Pinnacle manager called us to apologize and offered another try on the last night, but we already planned the evening. Entertainment and Activities: Comedians were very good. My wife Participated in the Americas test Kitchen and had a blast!! She said she would do that over and over again... Also, did the bar hop with Jeremy and that was an awesome time. There was never a shortage of things to do. Services: Room Stewards - These guys are great, never needed anything... Spa Services: Very Disappointed with spa services. First, My wife got a manicure. Her nails were chipping after 1 day.. Spa did redo the color, but talked my wife out of the color she wanted and the top of her nails by the cuticle look as if they were 1 week growth and her skin was peeling. The Facial she received left her with bruising and a sore/scar on her nose. She received the facial on the 1st sea day, so had the embarrassment the rest of the cruise. When addressed with spa manager she gave her a discount on the facial. She then gave a third chance for a massage and the tech kept going to deep after she said something several times. This left bruises on her back. Then the spa manager accosted her after her massage, because I had brought these issues up with the Ship services counter. They eventually took off the price of the facial. But during dining one evening another guest complained about being under the kitchen and got a 150 on board credit, so needless to say that was more upsetting to me. Ports and Excursions: Guatemala - We only went thru the bazaar. Prepare your self as they do not take no easily. You must walk away and not feel you are hurting feelings. Honduras: We went with Victor Bordon's Sloth and Monkey Tour - This was a lot of fun getting to touch the animals and see all the birds.. Relaxing at the resort was a really nice addition. Costa Maya, very nice and very clean port.. We didn't do much here as it was really windy ( 7-10 foot waves) made getting back on the boat a real challenge. Summary: Loved the ship and would probably give them another try. Hopefully the managers get a little training so that they stop trying to explain why there staff was making their errors and just fix things.. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We never sailed Norwegian before but have been on all the other lines previously and this being our tenth cruise I will compare it to other experiences. We did not want a mega ship so we choose the Pearl for this reason and the ports it ... Read More
We never sailed Norwegian before but have been on all the other lines previously and this being our tenth cruise I will compare it to other experiences. We did not want a mega ship so we choose the Pearl for this reason and the ports it was stopping at and being 11 nights also appealed to us. The embarkation took about an hour we arrived at noon on their transfer service the lines were not too bad overall. First impressions of the Summer Palace dining room was that it seemed out of date with the décor however the service and the lunch were fine. We are not buffet people but utilized 2 times once for breakfast due to an early excursion and it served it's purpose nothing out of the ordinary. Lunch one time we had a 1.00pm departure from St. Thomas and the only option for lunch was the buffet what a disaster!!!! not enough seats for everyone and lots of confusion we ended up eating in separate tables because I wasn't facing that mob again!! We only had to eat the main dining room 3 times and specialty restaurants the remainder the dinners were uninspiring similar to Applebee's or Bob Evans quality in my opinion. The specialty restaurants were great we tried them all except Teppenyaki service and quality of the food was fine dining too bad it will cost you after tip roughly $100.00 for 2 people not counting drinks. This is where cruising has downgraded the last 20 years the food budget 10 years was cut 50% per passenger and further since there wasn't any specialty restaurants because the food in the main dining room was excellent! The ports were fine and getting back on the ship was painless I just wish that we did not leave at 1.00pm at 2 of the ports 5 hours limits your excursion choices. Norwegian's entertainment was lackluster and so repetitive the same 4 acts 5 times during our cruise really! The comic was good and the legends show were the best. The daily entertainment especially on sea days was a snooze fest activities with prizes takes away all incentive for people to participate. Norwegians upcharge fest was annoying by the end of the cruise I mean there is a fee for everything!! Wine tastings=fee Tequila Tastings=fee Deal or no deal=fee the list goes on and on. We had the ultimate beverage package as a promo which was nice but limited be sure what you order is covered before they pour or it's a upcharge! We had a good time and met some exceptional staff members and I filled our comment cards on all of them this is where Norwegian shines the staff and keeping everything clean and you will never be wanting for a drink!! We haven't cruised for 6 years and visited resorts instead we will cruise again but II think it will a more intimate experience that will be more like the golden age of cruising and all inclusive no surprises or upselling Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose Norwegian based on a friends recommendation. He and his family had cruised on multiple different Norwegian ships and he had nothing but praise for all. We are cruise newbies and we trusted our friend and boy are we glad we did! We ... Read More
We chose Norwegian based on a friends recommendation. He and his family had cruised on multiple different Norwegian ships and he had nothing but praise for all. We are cruise newbies and we trusted our friend and boy are we glad we did! We picked this specific cruise as it checked a lot of boxes for us. The flight from Boston to Tampa was inexpensive and there was a one way flight that was timed perfectly. Once in Tampa, we were greeted at the baggage claim by Norwegian employees who directed us to our transport bus to the port. It was busy but we were comfortable and the trip was fairly short. The port in Tampa was extremely busy and we waited for a very long time. We were early and I do not think they were working to fully capacity when we arrived. Many people in line said that it was odd to have to wait for so long to do the embarkation process. Once we cleared the security check, we got our room keys and were directed to the ship itself. We were extremely overwhelmed as we did not know what to do (or expect). We decided to just go to our room and see if it was ready. Luckily for us it was so we settled in. Once we did, we went and grabbed the first of our incredible meals on the trip. One thing our travel agent did not tell us about (we found out 8 days into the trip) is that we had 4 specialty dining meals and the ultimate beverage package. Once we figured that out we certainly took fully advantage of it. In short, the food choices were many and all excellent. We never once had to wait for a meal except for one night when we made a late reservation at Le Bistro and they were extremely busy. Otherwise we walked up to the staff and were immediately seated. The wait staff was outstanding. They encouraged us many times to try anything we wanted. We are not big eaters but we definitely once again took advantage of this. The Freestyle Daily flyer handed out each night was excellent. We used it to plan our next days adventures. We did four short excursions as well. Our first stop was Grand Cayman which was very beautiful. We took a tender (the only port which we had to do so) and that was a bit of a pain but it is what it is. The excursion was out of this world! We swam with the sting rays and did the dolphin excursion. The next stop was Aruba and since this is a place we have visited over 30 times we knew exactly what to do. We rented a car and cruised the island for the day. Very nice! Next stop was Bonaire where we did a history excursion. All good for sure. St. Lucia was the "Green to Sand" excursion which was fun and refreshing (the water!). We did the scenic rail excursion in St. Kitts which was excellent. Maybe a little long but otherwise excellent. St. Thomas was just ok. Back to the ship! The entertainment options were all excellent! We met a lot of people including a couple from California who had done dozens of cruises. One of the shows we saw was Michael Jackson, Tina Turner and Elvis Presley impersonators. They were outstanding and our friends from CA said it was the best show they had ever seen on any cruise before. The cruise director Pedro was extremely friendly, funny and approachable. He seemed to be everywhere and always smiling. We did other things like played bingo, Deal or No Deal, trivia, etc. All were outstanding. Every public area of the ship was well maintained, cleaned and well stocked (bathrooms). The service was absolutely outstanding everywhere! A stand out was at the Mojito bar where our bar tenders were just so engaging they kept us coming back for more. This trip was just myself and my fiance. We had a 10th deck balcony stateroom which was excellent. Only complaint would be the bathroom which we both felt was a bit on the small side, especially the toilet. It was however always clean, well stocked and quiet. We cruised to Manhattan and had arranged for a rental car to drive the 3 1/2 hours back home. The disembarkation was a bit of a cluster to be honest. People were a bit cranky and they were a definite lack of organization on the ship. And then there is the New York cruise terminal employees. What can I say? Well, we certainly had a fantastic voyage and have already booked another aboard the Norwegian Bliss next May....coming soon Alaska! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this cruise because it went to several islands we have never visited before. It also ended in New York City, which is a place we've wanted to revisit again. Plus, we had to use our "bonus" dollars before they ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it went to several islands we have never visited before. It also ended in New York City, which is a place we've wanted to revisit again. Plus, we had to use our "bonus" dollars before they expired, so the timing, places and events were perfect. We really enjoyed the nightly entertainment in the Theater and the extra planned evenings. I think Pedro and Tiara were the BEST Ship Hosts we have ever had - and hope they will continue on as a team in the future! We also loved eating in the Summer Palace every evening with our friendly and competent table servers. They are exceptionally well-trained. The hostesses were also very accomodating. We made friends at our tables every evening. The food was also varied and well planned. We chose the Dining hall due to the smaller portions. Fred, the comedian was hilarious - but were disappointed in his Adult show. The Crew and Staff and musicians were excellent. We spent every evening Dancing in the Starlight Lounge, as well as listening to the fun songs with Patricia. Thank you for keeping the entertainment decent and family-oriented. Thank you, too, for the bottle of champagne for our 50th anniversary!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This was our 4th NCL cruise, and 7th overall cruise. It was an enjoyable experience and we saw many Caribbean islands we had never been to before. The ship was clean and had enough public space that passengers could spread out in. ... Read More
This was our 4th NCL cruise, and 7th overall cruise. It was an enjoyable experience and we saw many Caribbean islands we had never been to before. The ship was clean and had enough public space that passengers could spread out in. It's a nice sized ship (2400 passengers) which is manageable - and our preference over the huge ships. It was easy to find your way around, although the only small challenge is that the 6th deck doesn't run straight through. So if you want to access the Summer Palace main dining on the 6th, you have to go up to 7, to go back down to 6. It's a beautiful dining room, and worth finding! Our balcony cabin was perfect for 2 people - lots of storage, a small couch and decent sized balcony for a cruise ship. We unpacked for our 11-day cruise easily finding space for everything, and stowed our luggage under the bed. The only small issue was that the lighting was not great after the sun goes down, so for women getting ready for dinner, it was a bit of a challenge to see in mirrors. A big thank you to Rommel, our awesome Cabin Steward, for doing an excellent job! We found the main dining rooms (Summer Palace and Indigo), and specialty dining were wonderful - we experienced great service and delicious food! Le Bistro and Teppanyaki were our favourite specialty dining venues, and Cagney's and Moderno were really good as well. The Lotus Garden, which is NOT a specialty dining venue, was great - don't miss out! However, we were less than impressed with the quality of food at the buffet, and at O'Sheehan's Pub...yuck. We ended up going to the main dining rooms for breakfast/lunch instead. We spent some time at the casino and experienced the best service from all staff: special mention - Eka, Carlver and Hong Wang were amazing, we really appreciate their hard work. The casino has a good variety of slots machines and tables, it got busy after the shows finished, but was always well-managed. We never had to wait for drink service, and the staff was always friendly and accommodating. Embarkation was quite easy and much faster than anticipated - the lines were very long, but we were on the ship within an hour of arriving at the port in Tampa. Our rooms were ready by 1:30 or 2pm, and luggage was promptly delivered to the cabin that afternoon. Disembarkation in NYC was not quite as smooth, but overall not bad. We only docked at 10am to even begin the disembarkation process, but had to be out of our cabins by 9am. The only food option available at that time was the buffet - so 2400 people waiting in public spaces for hours to depart, and food/coffee on only one deck. We booked shore excursions only after we got on the ship - and managed to get every excursions we wanted except for one - but there was another decent option available and we took that one instead. I would recommend however that you book excursions (and speciality dining reservations) before getting on the ship to be sure you are not disappointed. The excursions were very well-run and organized, we enjoyed all of them. Overall, this was a very good cruise experience. What made it extra enjoyable were the staff who work on the ship - they all work so hard and such long hours, we truly appreciate them! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This was our first cruise EVER with any cruise line. Our expectation when we purchased the cruise from Costco was that everything was included. Clearly not the case. Little things kept on adding up. For instance the fees and gratuities ... Read More
This was our first cruise EVER with any cruise line. Our expectation when we purchased the cruise from Costco was that everything was included. Clearly not the case. Little things kept on adding up. For instance the fees and gratuities added to the "FREE" drink package and "FREE" specialty restaurants that we chose. That is the first extras on top of our rate, and then the surprise daily rate of gratuities and whatever which happened to be a per person and that was another $421 added to our cruise price. NCL excursions are way higher priced then any of the companies that you can get at ports, several of excursions through NCL were more then double of what could be found at port. We did 2 NCL excursions and 3 private. Entertainment was a bit of a disappointment. Chris Burke, the Legends Show and Patricia Watson were excellent, I was expecting more though..... I always hear that there are Cirque shows and really good entertainment on board ships but I didnt find anything more then what I could find at a Caribbean Resort. I didnt like the fact that we got the daily notifications of the events not prior to boarding, it would be nice to prep for some of these parties like the White Party. The food: Tappanaki was awesome. I ordered sake on the first night, we were well out of port, and I was charged port taxes which came as a surprise. We had Teppanaki a second time a couple days later and had the exact same dishes and Sake and no tax on the the Sake. The entertainment was good, the food was tasty. I wish there was a lobster option even if its pay more, but we all know lobster is dirt cheap in caribbean so if you are putting crab in Seafood Jumbalya in the buffet, there is no reason that you cant serve lobster at the Teppanaki. Indigo was not good. My wifes pasta dish was flavourless, and my beef could have walked off my plate it was so rare (I usually order Medium Rare, but this was really rare) and so we went to the buffet after we ate there and had a proper meal. After our shore excursion at the Grand Caymans we came back and went to the Lotus Room; We ordered several orders of dumplings, and spring rolls, and I ordered a Spyder Roll from the Sushi Bar. So I am not a stranger to Spyder Rolls, I order this roll on a regular basis. The fried soft shell crab is usually delicious. My wife ate a dumpling and spat it out, saying there was something rotten in it, and I ate a similar one and there was a taste of ginger but also something rotten in it. We called the waitress and told them, and they brought it back to the kitchen and brought us back some other dumplings which my wife didnt want to touch another one so i ate all the orders of dumplings. I loved the presentation of the Spyder Roll, but after about four pieces the crab started to taste off, it was mushy and fishy I looked down at it and took a picture of the crab meat being brown, green and very discoloured nothing I had ever seen before. I though I was fine because I left the pieces that were bad on the side of my plate. My wife ordered a dish that didnt come so we cancelled that dish. I did enjoy the dessert though, but we still went up to the buffet afterwards to get my wife some food. I usually have a stomach of steel and can eat anything. Within two hours I was super ill from both ends, and I had a major fever. I was up all night long. I had to take immodium to control my diarrhea the next day while we were in Aruba. Right when we got back on the ship I went directly to my room and my wife tended to me by bringing me broth and crackers until we could get everything out of my system. She then went and complained because Aruba was a pretty big disaster for us, we also werent able to utilize our drink package or even our food package due to this illness. This went on for 2 days, and both days were when we had excursions planned. It sucked. I think it was a nice gesture that the Executive Chef sent us chocolate covered strawberries, and a dinner at La Cuccinna but honestly for the price of our cruise, and all the extras that we paid for dinner and strawberries is a very small gesture, nice but not worth me changing how dissatisfied i was, or how many people I tell I got food poisoning. So that was Sushi / Lotus. Cagneys was awesome, the beef tenderloin was to die for. I am a huge fan. I also had Beef Tenderloin at La Cuccina twice. I feel there should be more then two pieces of ravioli however I wont complain about the tenderloin. My wifes Chicken Cacchitore was disappointing, the chicken was tough and over cooked. The Tiramisu was delicious on both nights we were there. When we were in St Kitts we ran into a doctor that we previously talked to when I had a food poisoning, she was a doctor by profession on holidays and she explained to us that her daughter also got food poisoning from the Sushi Bar several days back...... If you are still reading I will explaining more about this later. Moderno was disappointing. I felt the salad bar was mainly preservatives, and the meat, not really my thing. The beef was tough. I tried a little lamb, but I found it tough and flavourless also. My wife and I are foodies, so we do know what to expect. We rode the elevator down with another couple that have ate at Moderno on different ships and they did say this was not the best Moderno's. I dont know what to compare it to, but I hope next time is better. The buffet was great. However some of the desserts were bland. I loved the soft serve and could eat that any time. Its better the Dairy Queen and that makes me happy. The bars made great drinks although, I dont understand how I can get a Glen Morange single malt Scotch, but cant get a Hendricks Gin and Tonic; it makes no sense to me at all because where I am from 750ml of Glenmorange is $84, and 750ml of Hendricks is $38, so how does the scotch fall under the drink package while the gin doesn't? I wish there was a better selection of single malts under the drink package. Roger at O'Sheehans is the best bartender on the boat. He was brilliant and he kept our drinks full all the time. The cigar room should only be for cigars. Its disgusting when you are smoking a fine cigar and someone comes in a smokes a cigarette. Its even more disgusting when someone brings their food in there. It should be for cigars only. Bottom line. Front Desk / Customer Service - On the first day, you need more people up there. It took close to 90 min standing in line waiting to ask simple questions. Even on the second day it was busy. And my last concern was CruiseNext. We did enjoy the cruise and we put money down for a future cruise. The Manager that signed us up clearly told us that he would give us 2 coupons for 2 cruises. Not 4 coupons for 4 cruises, only to discover when we got home we received 4 coupons. I just wish some things were more organized so we wouldnt have all these surprises and extra costs. We had a good time, but surprise after surprise is not what we want. Tell us what the full price is. We stay at resorts all the time, the full price is right in our face with no extras. Thats what i want to know. I dont want surprises. Lastly, on our last night leaving La Cuccina we spoke to the Director of Food and Beverage, and it was almost like he didnt believe I was sick. He tells us that after he got the report, they went to the infirmary to check if there was a report of food poisoning. First, off; unless I am dying or contagious with something; I am not checking into see your doctor. Second, he tells us about all the specific regulations that cruise ships have to follow for their food.... Again, all restaurants have to follow these regulations at least where I live in Canada. Plain and simple the food was rotten, I have a picture of it, soft shell crab is not supposed to look like a raw oyster. I am not new to soft shell crab, this is one of the only rolls I have eaten consistently for the last 15 years at Sushi restaurants. So regulations or not, the dumplings and sushi that night were not good. Bottom line, something was wrong and it wasnt only me getting sick because on the last day at Bingo the lady in front of me told me that she got food poisoning from the Lotus Garden the night we were in Bonaire, I asked if she reported it to anyone and she said no, but she was going to. All in all, I answered the questions honestly, and we will come back on a Norwegian Cruise on day. It was a great break from our kids, and maybe one day we can take them to. Maybe on a boat that has bigger swimming pools. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary (Aruba, St. Lucia) and the fact that it ended in NYC so we could visit there as well when we got off the ship. We had a wonderful time, found the service to be excellent (in particular the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary (Aruba, St. Lucia) and the fact that it ended in NYC so we could visit there as well when we got off the ship. We had a wonderful time, found the service to be excellent (in particular the bartenders), and always found there was something to keep up occupied. We often dined at the buffet for breakfast and lunch, we found their to be a great selection, only downside was the limited seating at peak meal times. Most dinners we dined at Indigo and for the most part really enjoyed the food and service. We booked our own shore excursions (not through NCL) and found that worked fine for us. Tough to get a deck chair on the main pool deck but never had a problem finding one on the second or third decks. All in all we had a great experience and have recommended NCL to our friends and family. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This cruise would be perfect as a first cruise. It gives you a taste of everything cruise without being overwhelming. However, when comparing it to other cruise experiences, it was not one of my favorites. It tended to lean more towards ... Read More
This cruise would be perfect as a first cruise. It gives you a taste of everything cruise without being overwhelming. However, when comparing it to other cruise experiences, it was not one of my favorites. It tended to lean more towards an older population as did the activities. The best part was Cagny’s. It was wonderful. The most annoying part was the hard-sell personal trainers in the spa. I just wanted to use the thermal spa in peace but was aggressively approached by them several times when I went there. The cabins are fine. Small but well kept. The room steward was good. The layout of the cabin is nice and the furnishings were decent. The bed was very comfortable. The on-board entertainment was mediocre. There wasn’t much happening in the evenings that made us want to stay up late and party. We chose to book excursions on our own. We enjoyed what we did but we found them on trip advisor. They were more appealing and less than half the price. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
My husband and I recently cruised on the Carnival Miracle and had a great time. The ship itself is very ornate and gawdy, but that is part of its charm. We found the common areas to be kept up and well maintained. Embarkation was not as ... Read More
My husband and I recently cruised on the Carnival Miracle and had a great time. The ship itself is very ornate and gawdy, but that is part of its charm. We found the common areas to be kept up and well maintained. Embarkation was not as smooth or fast as a Royal Caribbean cruise I had recently taken, but was not horrible. We had a fifth deck balcony cabin that was spacious enough with a comfortable king bed. Our cabin steward, Lasmana, was fabulous and kept our cabin in great shape and was responsive to all of our needs. We ate in the main dining room for all but a couple of lunches and found the food to be consistently good and the waitstaff professional. The food was so good that we felt no need to eat anywhere else. We had chosen "your time" dining and as such, we were able to get to know several other couples over the course of the week. We very much enjoyed the breakfasts in the main dining room and would highly recommend the house made granola which was a great snack to take on excursions (we had brought our own ziplock bags). On sea days, we hung out on the Serenity Deck, over 21 only, and read our books and used the hot tub. We never had any problem getting a seat under the covered portion of the deck as long as we got there by mid-morning. As for entertainment, we really enjoyed the Daft Sailors in the Red Frog Pub and spent most of our evenings there. We did excursions in all four ports and enjoyed them all. We booked none of them through Carnival but all were very diligent about getting us back to the ship on time. We highly recommend Roatan by Land and Sea in Roatan which we booked through Vacations To Go. The only negative I can think of was the muster exercise, only because so many guests selfishly did not show to muster on time, which caused the rest of us to have to stand and wait for them to be paged repeatedly. This was frustrating for those of us who managed to get there as directed. Perhaps Carnival would do well to not open the bars until after muster since so many adults had trouble with this. Definitely take your own luggage off the ship as opposed to putting it outside the cabin door for the crew to take. We used the gym three times but the elliptical machines' touch screens were frustratingly non-responsive and clearly in need of updating, but we made the best of it. The weights portion of the gym was very good. We were often aware of the movement of the ship so would recommend prescription scopolamine transdermal patches if prone to seasickness. We wore them for the entire cruise and had no problem. Overall, we would highly recommend this ship and this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
The Pearl was it very first cruise 10 years ago and w still love it. But we noticed one thing, the drink lines were very long and it seemed like there were less staff. We still had a wonderful time and we got our credit to cruise again. I ... Read More
The Pearl was it very first cruise 10 years ago and w still love it. But we noticed one thing, the drink lines were very long and it seemed like there were less staff. We still had a wonderful time and we got our credit to cruise again. I tried the accupunture this time, it was okay but I don't think it's a long enough time to get good results. We absolutely love the thermal spa for adults only. It was great to go relax every night and relax in the hot tub that was not filled with kids. We loved the excursions, we always try to do something that's we cannot do where we live. There monkeys and the turtles were definitely the highlight for us. The guides are always informative and interesting to talk to. We feel safer to book with the cruise so we know they will wait if the excursion gets delayed. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
I traveled with my fiance March 24th to the 30th aboard the Norwegian Pearl, a smaller but fully refurbished ship. Getting onto the ship did take some time, but it was well worth the wait! Once getting on to the ship we were greeted ... Read More
I traveled with my fiance March 24th to the 30th aboard the Norwegian Pearl, a smaller but fully refurbished ship. Getting onto the ship did take some time, but it was well worth the wait! Once getting on to the ship we were greeted instantly by the friendly staff, and given a map of the ship. Our stateroom was 8113, an inside room with an additional third bed. We were happy to see that the two smaller beds when put together make a king-size bed. The stateroom had plenty of room for the two of us. Additionally, the hard working staff had our rooms ready for occupancy with in an hour of arriving on the ship. The cruise we selected left out of Tampa and sailed to Harvest Caye (Norwegian's private island) in Belize. The island was clean and perfect! From there we stopped in Costa Maya Mexico. The port was very clean and inviting, but didn't feel very authentic. My fiance and I did an excursion to Chacchoben, one of the Mayan Ruins! This really made the stop worth it! From there we sailed to Roatan Bay in Honduras. The port was small and was undergoing major construction while we were there. We didn't book any excursions and wanted to explore by foot. That was a mistake! As soon as we walked out of the port we were instantly inundated with locals trying to sell us this, that, and everything else. We managed to walk past the large group, but, we were followed by locals. While we never felt unsafe, something just didn't feel right. We went back to the port and enjoyed the many bars they had to offer, and let the bartender fill us in on the area. Finally, we had our last stop in George Town on Grand Cayman. This was by far the best stop we had. The island was clean, and the locals were amazing. We were able to walk all around and explore the many beaches, shops, and local watering holes! As for the quality of the on-board experience, we didn't have a bad meal or cocktail! We dined in the main dinning rooms (Indigo & Summer Palace), the staff were top-notch and so was the food. Overall, we were impressed by NCL and plan to take another cruise before the end of the year! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We love Norwegian because of the entertainment, food, and exceptional service. We loved the private island in Belize and especially the magicians Cassandra and Ben Nemzer, Angels, And the production shows. Our Cruise Director was ... Read More
We love Norwegian because of the entertainment, food, and exceptional service. We loved the private island in Belize and especially the magicians Cassandra and Ben Nemzer, Angels, And the production shows. Our Cruise Director was awesome. I can’t rememebr his name l, but he asked people to call him Jacky Chan because he looks like him. We have tried other cruise lines, but now we are hooked on NCL! We also really liked leaving out of the Tampa port, it was so convenient. We didn’t really like the buffet as much as the dining rooms but overall everything was great. We hope most NCL cruises are this good. Eacpeially the entertainment. (We are still talking about how they did all the tricks in the magic show and it was just beyond amazing! The music by the pool was also really nice. Getting towels was easy, and with a ship this size it never felt crowded or like I was waiting on a long line Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
The reviews of HAL out here lately have been snarky. We had a lovely time some years back in Canada on the Veendam. For some reason we strayed – but we can’t remember why. I had one open week in March and searched on price and ... Read More
The reviews of HAL out here lately have been snarky. We had a lovely time some years back in Canada on the Veendam. For some reason we strayed – but we can’t remember why. I had one open week in March and searched on price and a few of my criteria. The Rotterdam was the cheapest for ocean view- and for Mariner members we got $100 off on HAL.COM. One thing to watch for on OV on some Holland ships- they are nice and big and have a couch- (and even a bathtub). But a top grade (HH) can be obstructed view literally on Lower Promenade. DW did not trust the one way glass tinting- as people could possibly see in as they walked by. We booked a specific porthole (1815) down on deck one “Dolphin” - and were amused to get three “urgent” upgrade offers back up to HH- starting at $69 pp and the last was $19 pp. We had one 110V outlet, one German (250V/50hz) outlet and 2x USB charging ports. Tampa is usually a low cost air destination for us. I saved a little and booked a connecting flight- why I asked myself after a four hour delay. Ubers are cheap and abundant. The cab from the airport asked for $26 not on the meter, six over Uber XL and DW rolled her eyes and tipped him poorly. The chain hotels were pricey the start of spring break. We tried the Tahitian. The reviews were mixed. The pool and grounds were good. It has a smallish main building with a 1970s motel out back. There is no one from chain headquarters to remind the owner he needs to write a check and fix stuff like beds, bubbling plaster and clock radios or lose his franchise. The little breakfast/lunch café inside was excellent- the Tampa Police eat there. There is a cute residential neighborhood out back. Embarkation at 11 AM was less than optimal. We were too early, yes, but Terminal Six has not enough chairs. So get there at 11:30 and you proceed to the gangway and not have to stand in line after your speedy check in. Actual boarding started at 11:40. The ship is lovely and being very aggressively maintained – new carpet, paint, piping etc. The crew was cheerful and the art is really top notch. Rooms were ready at 11:45 AM- who ever heard of that. We ate embarkation lunch in the MDR. The selections were just right. The Cajun items had un-spiced sausage but they did a good job on vegetables and soups. Dinners were also good- we had aft facing sharing tables for eight and the conversation was really great – four couples our age with 15+ cruises each. Note the average passenger age was up there. The wine prices were high to us- $9 is apparently the norm -but they had three IPAs. One was out of stock but they had a Florida one that was not bad. A few tap beers are available here and there. We were so excited to see the Oceans Quartet (sometimes or formerly called Neptunes) with four sets starting at 7PM or even 5PM. The dance floor is smallish (14 feet by 14 feet or so) but the band was very good- the guys are from Mexico and will be on the ship until May. Several couples were dancing. One of the dancers said they were playing all jazz the previous week but I went up and begged for some Latin – and it was amazing. A piano player was there in between sets. If you know the Foxtrot Box Step- it is handy on a small floor. Up the way there was a piano bar player- he was well regarded- Barry from Boston. The casino was packed and a bit smoky. There was no actual production show- this caused some grumbling– replaced by a movie. Others seemed OK with the movie. There was comedy a few nights. Both were good and one of the comedy shows had music (we won’t give it away). There was a musical show- Postmodern Jukebox that was only OK but way over hyped. If I was HAL I would being back a smallish production show. The reports on the Test Kitchen were positive. As I write this is it 5:45 AM in the lounge/coffee shop/library aka Explorations Cafe. There is no library on the deck plans but there are actual books, puzzles, board games and no piped in music. The coffee shop opens at 6:30. For a transatlantic or world cruise this is an excellent and large space- and very under-rated. We had our Cruise Critic unofficial meet and greet around a giant puzzle. They need a few electric outlets, and there is a wooden book sculpture that takes up a whole writing desk and needs to be recycled. I found a wireless laser printer which was good for boarding passes etc. The ship has an aft pool. These are nice and a good way to enjoy the sea views. Key West is a good port. On our third trip there we hunted for the free bus, which for us was like a unicorn and hard to find. Two important clues- it is called the Duval Loop and is a smallish city bus. There is a commercial trolley-bus and a wheeled train. The Duval Loop has red circular signs marking the stops. It was very full when we rode it and the commentary was safety vs tourist focused. The Southernmost Beach Café was again excellent and we found Turkish trivets and key lime jelly beans on Duval. The funny and interesting port talks downplayed Porto Tomas in Guatemala. The message was, over and over, buy a shore excursion or else you will be bored and disappointed. Some of us took the or else- many staying on the ship. There was hint you could walk out the gate of the container port by the craft market, go straight a block then right around the miniature naval station to some waterfront restaurants. At least one showed up on the online rating sites and can be seen from the ship. We dropped into Donde Pilo which seated us over the water on a thatched roof dock. They were sweet and friendly and recommending the large lobster seafood soup for $20. Some friends who arrived by power wheelchair had a huge fish. Divide all local currency prices by 7. We looked for and saw several crew. If they are trying to promote the port in the bigger picture I would humbly suggest to HAL and the Tourist Board to rent a few golf carts and shuttle guests over there. It is a similar look, feel and walk to Senior Frogs in Nassau. Pro tip- the local beer was $2. The craft market at the pier had pretty local crafts – I got two nice hand made belts for $20 each. Taxis to the actual town, a few miles away, were like $10pp round trip. Service in the MDR was cheerful but slow. Breakfast food was lovely – lots of choices- full English, waffles and even Asian. But they would take 45 minutes and ask for juice two or three times etc. We diagnosed the issue as “stay in your section” by the Head Waiters, vs “go and help the guests or supervise” – which is easy to fix and we dropped in a note to the Hotel Director. Dinner was slow but everybody was pitching in. MDR Lunch was efficient. They were not serving in the MDR on port days, so we tried “Dive In” by the covered pool – which has a taco bar also and a good chicken sandwhich. There were rumors of a shortage of limes aboard. I cornered a senior beverage person, who stated they have to use certified (food safety?) suppliers, such as those back in Tampa, so just racing off to buy a case of limes was just not possible. I complimented him on the wise decision to carry several IPAs. He hinted they would have more but there were issues with shelf stability. He did acknowledge the cost of them was also a factor, and that guests were “crazy for light beers.” The founder of our local (large) microbrewery at home, Summit, makes of big point of his decision to hire a chemist and build a lab to work on shelf stability as he tries to expand nationally. This may be a helpful clue as to why there not more craft beers on cruise ships. We were baffled by the real world dress code aboard. Yes the published one was easy to follow. Dress to Impress aka Formal Night was the big question. So, based on a sample size of say 100 people I noticed (this is valid sample size I think), the average for men was sport coat and tie. We saw a tux or two and quite a few business casual. Mahogany Bay is a dedicated cruise ship port. The Captain mentioned the entrance was narrow and challenging to back the ship into in high winds, but everything was just so. The grounds were manicured, the shops air conditioned and the beaches sandy. There were life guards and lots of security. We had a dip in the ocean. The online drawings and photos show the place as barren but the jungle has filled in and it quite pretty. There were lots of lounge chairs and shade available. We enjoyed the signs on some of the exotic (to us at least) trees and flowers. Costa Maya seemed the same and massively crowded. We stayed on the ship. The gentle rocking at the open sea pier made it like a sea day. We read books and went for several walks. MDR breakfast service settled in. I did some asking around – this is a happy ship- with high guest satisfaction ratings. I have noticed a correlation between happy ships and good ratings on places like Cruise Critic. You can tell if the crew is enjoying their (hard) work. We were impressed by the towel animals – Riston (covering the whole forward-odd side of Deck One up to about 1857) designed an amazing elephant, sleeping dog and monkey- the best we have even seen. They did not seem to use cleaning carts which can block the hallways. Getting off the ship could not have been easier. CBP had a lot officers on duty in Tampa, which helped. There were no lines at all at 8:40. Just before leaving we had a walk on the all-around promenade deck, then ordered eggs benedict and Belgian Waffles in the MDR. This was a good reminder of how well organized things are on the co-flagship of the line Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Let me start by saying this was our 8th cruise with Carnival. We booked this one because the dates worked for us and our friends who flew down from NYC to sail with us. It was our 25th wedding anniversary. First let me state the pros. ... Read More
Let me start by saying this was our 8th cruise with Carnival. We booked this one because the dates worked for us and our friends who flew down from NYC to sail with us. It was our 25th wedding anniversary. First let me state the pros. Embarkation in Tampa was seamless and quick. We arrived at 11:15am and were on the Lido deck having lunch by 12:10. Valet parking was a great decision. Only $20 more that self park for the week All crew we encountered from cabin stewards, waiters/waitresses, photographers and entertainers were always going above and beyond to help or answer questions. The Cruise director, Leigh, was phenomenal. Funny as can be and was always visible and available to guests. Many other cruise directors only make themselves available part of the time and do not interact with guests as much as he did. Ship is easy to navigate and with only 1 restaurant on the 2nd floor you can pretty much go end to end on all floors. Entertainment was good. Shows were average. Comedians were great. Debarkation was fairly quick to get off the ship, but once in the terminal (Not Carnival's fault) there were only 2 customs officers for 2 ships with a total of about 5000 people. We grabbed a porter for a $20 tip and we moved faster through he line that everyone carrying their own luggage. If you have the opportunity do the "Chef's Table". It was a great experience and food was awesome. Different, but awesome.The $78 up charge was well worth it. It includes an 8 course meal, wine, appetizers and tour of the galley. Now the Cons: Food was mediocre at best. Dining room food was edible and some items were good. Buffet on the Lido was no better. The Pizza Pirate was popular and probably the best item during lunch and late nights. Food quality for the general ship population has substantially decreased over the last couple of years. We did do Nick/Nora's Steakhouse which on any ship is always a highlight. With an up-charge of $38 person the food was the best yet. I only question why the large up charge as if we are not eating in the dining room they are saving $$ on us there, and I can get a Surf/Turf dinner at a local equivalent quality steakhouse for less that that. But so be it. Food was excellent.( Only reason it's a con is due to the $38 up-charge) Another con was the Casino. Not big at all and as usual very smokey. You would think by this time if you are making this the only place inside the ship to smoke, there would be a better ventilation system. As on all ships the signs are there about not saving seats around the pool for more that 30 minutes, yet it is not enforced. People came out at 6am and placed towels and shoes on chairs and didn't return for a couple of hours. Either do not have the sign or enforce it with some teeth. Don't just bark. Of course there is not enough seats for everyone, even up on the upper sun decks. The final con is just my opinion. This is an older ship and is showing it's age. It was built on 2004 and refurbished in 2015. There is no rhyme or reason for some of the decor but that is just aesthetics.Even thought his ship holds 2100+ people, I think if it is going to continue to be full, they need to upgrade many thing throughout the ship.Otherwise take less guests as many of the corridors in the common areas were narrow and people were stepping all over each other. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise for the price, and time of year. It was out 2nd cruise on this ship, and though older, she is still in fine shape. We were blessed with cabin #8104, which had a larger than normal balcony, was midship, so very smooth ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the price, and time of year. It was out 2nd cruise on this ship, and though older, she is still in fine shape. We were blessed with cabin #8104, which had a larger than normal balcony, was midship, so very smooth ride. We have cruised multiple times, ocean view, and more recently in balcony cabins, and suites here and there. Our last trip was a Celebrity suite on Celebrity, and I was concerned about our balcony suite and Main Dining service and quality on this ship. No worries, the food was amazing in both the main dining room and the Windjammer. Ship was full, and there were a few more lines than normal. Pool chairs, as always, needed to be grabbed by 9 a.m. (as soon as the cruise lines start enforcing the 30 minute rule regarding chairs, I will not chair save) Cabin was spotless, drinks were easy to get, and the weather was perfect. Embarkation was a snap, and by taking our own luggage out, we were through customs, got our car from Parking Doctors, and we’re on the road within a half hour. Loved this vacation, love the Brilliance of the Seas! Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We have sailed RCI twice before, but chose this itinerary due to limitations in our schedule. Because we live in Tampa, we were able to get on the ship early and tour it in its entirety by mid-afternoon. The staff was friendly and the only ... Read More
We have sailed RCI twice before, but chose this itinerary due to limitations in our schedule. Because we live in Tampa, we were able to get on the ship early and tour it in its entirety by mid-afternoon. The staff was friendly and the only wait was a 20 minute wait in the 'corral'. I'm not sure why this mix all the high elite passengers into the numbered corrals rather than have dedicated areas for diamond, platinum, etc. Brilliance is a nicely appointed ship with some upscale touches and appears to be fairly well maintained. We got an aft cabin and really enjoyed it. The seas were very smooth and the ship was moving relatively slow, so there was virtually no motion and the vibration over the screws didn't bother us. We liked the aft balcony and the wake of the ship, although the glass on the lower half of our cabin was very dirty and clearly hadn't been cleaned in a while. Standing it isn't an issue because you're looking over it anyway, but when seated it was frustrating and clearly a detail that RCI has lost sight of. I looked at the glass on other aft cabins and they all appeared to be very dirty. Mind you I am well aware that salt air makes keeping glass clean very difficult, but when you pay for the view and the windows are filthy it's disappointing. The Minstrel reservation manager moved us from a table of 6 to a table for 2 (by the window) upon request and I'm sure it wasn't our 'Gold' status. We had the late seating (8PM) which conflicted with some shows and activities that we wanted to do, but we made it work. We asked about an earlier 'My Time', but were told we would end up eating around 8PM anyway. Our server and assistant were a highlight of the cruise - Pablo and Alejandria. Great service every night and brought us an Artisan cheese plate to start each meal as requested. By the second night, didn't have to ask for a second drink - she knew. RCI has apparently gotten aware from the drink waiter concept which is good - we hated that last time because it took forever to get a drink and you had to show your card every time. No more of that. The food was slightly above average. In my opinion, RCI's food is fairly bland and underwhelming. There is a good selection for each course. The calamari appetizer and lamb shank entree as well as the beef short ribs were our only highlights. We found it odd and irritating that on Night 1 one of the staff tried to 'up sell' us on specialty dining. I'll comment here, because this was one aspect of the entire cruise that we did not like. RCI's is always trying to sell you 'more'. Once a customer pays good money for a cruise, when staff are constantly trying to sell you a better entree, specialty dining, excursions, bingo cards, etc it makes you feel like you're simply being taken advantage of. We're upper middle class people, but have enjoyed some luxury experiences in our lives. There isn't pushy salesmanship with each experience. This approach cheapens RCI in my opinion. I find it particularly irritating that the menu for the main dining room offers 'premium' dishes each night. A reminder that you're not eating a premium entree - despite paying a lot of money to cruise. One of the reasons we probably won't sail RCI again. We bought the drink package when they put it on sale for 30% off. Otherwise, we would have passed. The staff didn't seem bothered by the lack of a tip with each serving the way they did a couple of years ago. Don't know how RCI apportions the 18% gratuity that is included, but Berchel in the Solarium bar was our favorite bartender. The guy at Vintages was not very friendly, although it could be the Eastern European bluntness. Stephen in the pub was very friendly on Day 1, but then seemed more aloof the rest of the time. We did not like the casino. The non-smoking area is very small and the slots in that area aren't the 'better' games. The table games in the non-smoking area typically didn't open until late and were higher limit. Even so, the ventilation system didn't seem to be able to handle all the smoking. I got a headache the first two nights. Most of the casino staff was friendly, but one of the dealers was an absolute jerk. Granted no one enjoys losing money, but he openly took pleasure in beating patrons. Pissed a lot of people off. After Day 2, I walked away if he relieved the previous dealer. Beware of RCI's strange Blackjack rules. I am not a high roller, but some of there rules are very odd and something I've never seem before - especially at the single deck table. We played bingo and I won the second pot (on Day 2), but was disappointed in the payout. Must have been 175 people that spent an average of $69/person, but the total payout for all 3 games was around $1,200. RCI taking WAY too much profit from the game. If you do sail RCI again, I won't be playing bingo. The shows were decent - saw the opening night show which was mainly an advertisement for future shows and the Las Vegas tenors. There were pretty good, but once again the show ended with a pitch for you to buy their CDs (more up-selling). The Pacifica Theater is a nice venue. One of the things we like to do most when cruising is to enjoy the hot tub. However, Brilliance only has three VERY small hot tubs. The capacity sign says they can fit 14, but let me assure you that you can only fit 5-6 normal adults. One of them is in the Solarium and the other 2 are at the main pool. We generally avoid the ladder, so didn't get in either one of those (they were a little larger), but the water temperature in the Solarium was warm rather than hot and the jets moved water, but not enough to create the 'hot tub' mist of massaging jets. Also, because it wasn't hot some people (including groups of 4-6) would stay in the hot tub for long periods of time (30 minutes or more). Can't do anything to fix rude or inconsiderate, but I think warmer water would ensure that people don't linger as long. Not much that RCI can do to add capacity - just poor engineering and if this is a highlight for you I'd avoid this ship. We did the dolphin swim in Cozumel. We paid $125/pp for the VIP package which offered a locker and towels included. Turns out our tickets said we needed to take towels, but we didn't since Dolphinarius provided, but that wasn't a huge deal (expect arguably we paid for it). The dolphin interaction was cool, although it's fairly short and you definitely don't get to 'swim' with them. Also, they subject you to a good bit of admonishment about ocean pollution (undoubtedly a problem so we didn't mind that, although I don't really want to pay to be told about something I'm already familiar with). The lunch we had with the package was excellent and our dining area by the pool was nice. However, the experience was once again cheapened by a big push to buy a package of pictures - which were VERY expensive by the way. It's just crazy to ask for that much for a few pictures after charging $125/pp. Also, there is no real snorkeling, kayaking, etc. The description of the excursion makes it sound like it's at a beach and has a lot of activities after you do the dolphin portion in their lagoon, but there is no beach and there isn't much to explore or see on this (western coast) of Cozumel. For my wife, this was a bucket list item so we're glad we did it, but we definitely not pay the $ to do it again. Unrelated to RCI, we went to La Casa Del Habano hoping to buy a box of Cuban cigars to take home. However, be forewarned that you'll pay an enormous premium to buy from this certified dealer in Cozumel. I am something of an Aficionado, so the sticker shock was palpable. I am an avid runner. I think this is a problem on all cruise ships, but if you don't run early be prepared to be constantly blocked by walkers or people that don't realize that the wide, painted path on the upper deck with arrows is for runners. I despise tread mills, so while I was able to get a couple of good runs in you have to be patient with couples that want to walk together and take up both lanes, all the sunbathers that partially block the running path, or the occasional drinker that staggers out into the sunlight and into the path with a precious concoction. I'm surprised there aren't more collisions. All-in-all, we had a good time on our Valentine's weekend cruise (just me and the wife), but probably won't sail Brilliance again based mainly on a smoky casino, tiny hot tubs and perpetual up-selling. However, there is a lot to like about the ship despite her age and if you smoke, don't care about hot tubs, don't mind 'average' food and aren't bothered by lots of marketing (didn't mention art work, RCI pictures, etc) then you can certainly have a good time on this ship for a reasonable price compared to the newer/larger vessels. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
I chose this ship and itinerary for three main reasons - it was over our wedding anniversary, it sailed out of our home port of Tampa, and it stopped in Belize City. I want to start and end the review on a positive note, so I'll ... Read More
I chose this ship and itinerary for three main reasons - it was over our wedding anniversary, it sailed out of our home port of Tampa, and it stopped in Belize City. I want to start and end the review on a positive note, so I'll begin with our favorite bartender - Jakub. Jakub worked the bar at Nick & Nora's, was very passionate about his job, and obviously cared about our experience as passengers. We spent several hours sitting at his bar chatting to him over the course of the cruise. He quickly learned our preferences and asked our permission to initially play with some classic cocktails we ordered, and eventually create things just for us. He hit the mark every time. In fact, with our last dinner we simply asked our waiter to bring us whatever Jakub wanted to make us, confident that we'd love it. My only regret is that I couldn't convince him to defect to MSC Seaside for our summer cruise! I hope Carnival knows what they have in him. Miracle is an older ship, and while it does show in some areas, it's still in perfectly adequate shape. Most of the public areas were nicely furnished. The more colorful themed appearance of most areas of the ship may not be to everyone's taste, but it didn't cause us any concern. I'd say though that I probably preferred the more subdued, elegant style of Independence of the Seas, which we sailed last year. We only caught one comedy show on the ship, and enjoyed it. It was an 18+ show, and no punches were pulled. As such, some invariably found certain things offensive - we saw a few people pointedly walk out at certain jokes. Best advice is to stick to the family shows if you like your humor strictly-PC. I'm not sure if we just failed to figure out the schedule, but there didn't seem to be any broadway-type entertainment. Only the comedy and music. Best music on the ship was probably Amelia playing down in Alchemy. We didn't think too much of the variety music show in the atrium. The violin trio was ok, but their set seemed limited. The food was disappointing. The buffet was uninspiring to say the least. The sushi bar was ok, but limited opening times, and the second time we went the rolls were wrapped so poorly they fell apart as soon as picked up. Bacchus (main dining room) was not good, and the service was impersonal. One experience was enough to lead us to book every night at Nick and Nora's (steak house). N&N food was better, though I'd put it barely on par with the MDR on Independence. Menu wasn't very varied - I get that it's a steakhouse so there will several steaks, but if it's your only specialty restaurant on board, it needs more variety. Every steak (and even the lamb) was accompanied by Bearnaise and garlic confit - not a bad accompaniment, but if you are eating there every night it gets old. The way the menu was structured was odd. Choose a protein, choose a side. Perhaps it's just me, but in a restaurant I expect the chef to craft a coherent meal with sides that complement the protein. One food highlight was the 'art at the table' dessert, which added a little fun and drama to the meal, and was generally pretty tasty. The itinerary was very good, and we did a Carnival excursion in every port. In Cozumel we did the shopping and beach break, including Tequila tasting. Our guide Sylvia was knowledgeable and funny. In Belize City, we went to Lamanai, which was amazing. Cesar and his colleague (I forget her name, sadly) were very, very knowledgeable and gave us a good laugh on the coach ride. When we reached Lamanai, Cesar handed off to a Mayan friend of his to do the tour and it was great. I'm not sure how many more times I can use the word 'knowledgeable', but since this individual actually lived on site and aided in the excavation, I can't think of a better word. We docked in Roatan on valentine's day, and I can't think of a better way to spend the day. We did the horseback riding in the ocean, followed by snorkeling and a quick massage before we left. My apologies to our fellow excursionists, because although we were told the bus was going to be late and we had time, I'm not so sure it was. We got back to the bus to find everyone already in place... In Grand Cayman, we swam with stingrays and sea turtles. I'm not sure there are any superlatives that suffice. Swimming with the sea turtles was the highlight of my trip (well, aside from my beautiful wife, of course). Finally we had our third massage of the cruise (what can I say, we spoiled ourselves). Thanda and her colleague gave us probably the best couple's massage we've ever had, and it really put a bow on our anniversary vacation. Would I book Miracle again? If another ship weren't available, I wouldn't *not* book it, if you see what I mean. It was adequate. But with the food being bad enough to force specialized dining every night, that extra $38 per person per night could easily be put toward a ship/line with a better MDR experience. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019

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