382 Tampa Senior Cruise Reviews

My daughter and son-in-law did a Carnival Cruise for their honeymoon two years ago in October and loved it so much they wanted us to join them on a Carnival Cruise. Hurricane Darian caused us to have to leave a day early but we had already ... Read More
My daughter and son-in-law did a Carnival Cruise for their honeymoon two years ago in October and loved it so much they wanted us to join them on a Carnival Cruise. Hurricane Darian caused us to have to leave a day early but we had already planned to arrive in Tampa that day and spend the night, so we just drove from NC as planned and boarded with absolutely no problems despite only having birth certificates and driver's licenses and my having a pacemaker. We got on board, purchased our lanyards and were told that we were going to have a free day due to having to board early and leave the area that night. It meant 2 sea days before an excursion but all drinks and food were covered by Carnival for the 1st day. We ate burgers at the grill (better than any fast food burgers) and when we went to our room, all our luggage was there. Our room had a balcony with a lifeboat just a floor below. The bed and pillows were very comfortable and the shelves in the bathroom and the size of the closets were big enough to easily store our things. I am glad I brought some folding travel hangers and a glow in the dark small flashlight as well as a small plug in extra 3 regular outlets and 2 outlets to charge our cell phones, hair dryer, curling iron and camera batteries. I may purchase a larger one with more outlets before cruising again. Almost every single staff member all over the ship was pleasant and helpful and most remembered our names from the start. Jeniper and Salai our room stewards, were great and Jeniper was especially sweet. Once we had experienced Roxana from Romania as a headwaitress, we asked for her each night at the Bacchus Dining Room. She treated us like royalty and was funny and very good with names. The food was good, especially in the Bacchus. There was a bar tender we liked a lot named Jerry (may not be his spelling) who would even call out to my husband, Tom, as we walked by on our way around the ship because they had an ongoing funny Tom and Jerry routine together. I enjoyed the Marriage Comedy show a lot but not the adult comedy show at Mad Hatter's Ball done by R.T. Steckel--too crass for me. Doug who played the baby grand at Sam's Piano Bar was awesome and the disco night at Frankensteins's We loved the Pixels photo opportunities and bought a good many. Loved earning points for prizes, especially the nice photo album and the Thumb drive. My favorite shore excursions were the VIP La Casa Beach Retreat in Cozumel and the Jolly Roger Catamaran Sailing and Snorkel with Lunch at Roatan. There was plenty of time to snorkel and to eat and to shop in each of those excursions and the people working the excursions were exceptionally friendly and helpful. I ran into a little problem with my own but new full face snorkel mask and the captain of the Jolly Roger was gentle and patient and fixed me right up for my 1st snorkeling experience. The food was delicious and the guys danced with us and were very watchful of us in the water, as well as making sure we all had all to drink we wanted. Jesus at the La Casa Beach House was friendly and the pina coladas there were the best I've ever tasted--not overly sweet like most in America are. The chef made two great salsas and guacamole with chips as we watched. In Belize, we did the River Wildlife Cruise and and Mayan Ruins of Altun Ha in Belize. I loved seeing the dolphins follow the boat, seeing the Howler monkeys, and the iguanas where we had lunch. Our Mayan guide was a good story teller. At 62, I did manage to climb to the top of the Sun god's pyramid and enjoy the view, but it was a bit challenging due to the humidity and the steps being irregular and crumbly. I wish I had had more time to shop in the little row of shops with locally hand carved wood items, but it took most of our time to climb the ruin and some of our party slowed things down before we could start when we had to wait on them to join us. My only complaint about the Grand Cayman Stingray Sandbar, Hell, and Turtle Center experience was that it was rushed. Once again, we had to wait for a family that was late and so our guide had to make up for the lost time. It was fun to handle the turtles and the gift shop at the Turtle Center was a nice one. The water was beautiful where we held the stingrays and it was a fun experience. Hell was rushed but I am glad we got to see it. Disembarkation went smoothly and, although we missed our pets and the rest of our families, we were sad it was all over. We definitely want to go back to Cozumel and go on the Jolly Roger Catamaran again someday! Carnival did not disappoint! Read Less
Sail Date September 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
This was our third crossing and thoroughly enjoyed the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Sea conveniences as well as the fantastic attitude of the ship's staff. We sailed form Tampa to Ireland and Belgium and ended in Amsterdam. We ... Read More
This was our third crossing and thoroughly enjoyed the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Sea conveniences as well as the fantastic attitude of the ship's staff. We sailed form Tampa to Ireland and Belgium and ended in Amsterdam. We stayed on the ship back to back on the Baltic cruise visiting Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Finland, Russia and Amsterdam. Total of 28 days. The Atlantic crossing was dampened by the overcast and cool weather however the Baltic region temperatures were comfortable for May. One of our daily favorite times is the My Time dining option sharing a table with others and having world topics as conversation. We bid on a Jr Suite for the second leg of the cruise which made that part very comfortable. Having a walk in closet and approx 300sf with chairs and a couch, the area was perfect for relaxing. We achieved our Dimond Plus status and are looking forward to our next cruise in March out of Dubai. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Took this cruise in celebration of our daughter's 40 birthday. Everything was perfect, with a few exceptions. Be aware that "Anytime Dining" does NOT mean that the time they schedule you for is confirmed. You MUST ... Read More
Took this cruise in celebration of our daughter's 40 birthday. Everything was perfect, with a few exceptions. Be aware that "Anytime Dining" does NOT mean that the time they schedule you for is confirmed. You MUST make a reservation or be prepared to wait. There was a child that could take control of the general intercom and interrupt cruise activities. This line is very conscious of precautions to limit norovirus, as there are hand cleansing areas throughout the ship, which was a comfort. Tendering was handled expediently, but be aware that when tendering, watch both your step and head. I have a bloody lump to support the precaution. Ship personnel were fast to my aid and it really was minor. Some of the theatrical shows were a little lame, but the big musical production was one of the best I have seen on a cruise ship. Drinks can be a little pricey, but the drink card should help the cost. We aren't too big on imbibing, but the little we did was costly. Unless you plan to do water sports, buy jewelry or drink, touring Grand Cayman was a waste of time and we were back on the ship in short time. Cozumel has a nice tourist area and, since we been to Cozumel many times, we kept our visit there. I was amazed that when buying Cuban cigars, the sellers want cash. Since we had just taken an island excursion and bought items and tips, we were low on cash, so the cigars were never bouught. 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
My wife and I have taken this ship 3 different times and have usually found it enjoyable. I remember commenting to her the last time how good the food was in the main dining room for 4 of the 5 nights. This time around it was decent only 1 ... Read More
My wife and I have taken this ship 3 different times and have usually found it enjoyable. I remember commenting to her the last time how good the food was in the main dining room for 4 of the 5 nights. This time around it was decent only 1 of the 5. Salads and appetizers were fine but the main course was either just warm, tough, overcooked (steaks), little flavor or all of the above. We sent two dishes back but that didn't solve the problem.The service was very good with our waiter very nice. We chose "anytime dining" which means you had better make a reservation or you won't be seated anytime soon. We were seated in the same section each night at a table for two. I asked to have a table for two in the same waiters area but next to the window. After an explanation of why that wasn't possible I sat there and looked at that able sitting empty for 3 nights.The remainder of the cruise was just fine. Our balcony cabin (8052) was as expected. Clean and quiet. The Brilliance is not a huge ship which is part of the charm. We like to cruise out of Tampa because it is very easy to do so, chances are we will be on the Brilliance again. I just hope they get it together in a couple of ways. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We prefer the smaller ships and like sailing out of Tampa or Port Canaveral. The crew on the smaller ships are more like family and are always so pleasant and helpful. We had My Time dining and had a super wait staff. Plus we got such ... Read More
We prefer the smaller ships and like sailing out of Tampa or Port Canaveral. The crew on the smaller ships are more like family and are always so pleasant and helpful. We had My Time dining and had a super wait staff. Plus we got such great service. The embarkation went very smooth and fast. The food in the dining room and in the Windjammer were both excellent. It was nice to see familiar faces because we had just been on the ship the first of March. Hopefully we will be back on board again soon. Love the noon time updates by the Captain and his little "did you know" items. The food in the Diamond lounge was by far superior to many of the other ships. It was great to see Sexy Maria and Isabel. We have had such great experiences with them and our Head Waiter Ionut was great this time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This is our 4th NCL cruise and by far the decline in everything was noticed. We were in a Penthouse Suite so that made a great difference in our service and we tip well after all of the extra service charges NCL adds,so the staff we ... Read More
This is our 4th NCL cruise and by far the decline in everything was noticed. We were in a Penthouse Suite so that made a great difference in our service and we tip well after all of the extra service charges NCL adds,so the staff we worked with were super. A few extra dollars goes a long way. We chose a suite due to wheel chair and space needs. Our suite 9672 was wonderful and accessible for seniors or people who need a walk in shower and not a tub. Location: Overall it is nice to see the area and the beautiful blue waters. NCL keeps you in their areas IE Harvest Caye so you dont always see the real culture. They are really building their own areas so they can keep the $$ you spend in house. Cabin: Very Nice and well worth the upgrade. Big Balcony only downfall were those smoking around us. It is now all NON smoking in rooms and balconies and if caught they will fine you. Dining: Most of our meals were in specialty locations so most of it was good. Our servers were beyond wonderful. The specialty dinners were not as good as in years past. Meat was a bit tough I had a ribeye one night and could not chew any of it. Stick with the Filet. The buffets looked sad. The salmon is now a salmon spread, mixed fruit a blob of fruit mushed I could go on but wont. Do not go on NCL for the food unless you are in a suite/haven. The basic food keeps getting downgraded. Staff: German Escobar our NCL consultant highly recommend. Book through NCL and they will tell you everything you need. Including that the 7 day cruise only is only 3 add on meals not 7 as people assume. Online bookings do not explain things like the meals or drinks. Anoop Concierge went out of his way to assist. Highly recommend him and Vergil our Butler as well as our Steward were all great. The crew in Cagneys and Moderno for the meals were top notch. Embarkation: Tampa Port should be ashamed of the mess they have there. So much confusion on where to go as there was construction. Signage was horrible. The officers directing traffic were super and helped everyone. Once we made it to the NCL controlled area (inside) everything was great. Outside a nice woman named Deb helped and made the day. Enrichment Activities: Most of the activities were a pay to play which has changed from years past. Another nickle and dime of NCL. Entertainment: Ledgends was ok but the rest was pretty poor. NCL really needs to invest in their entertainers. This was one of the lamest of all cruises. The crew singing in the morning were better than the entertainment at night. Spa: Well worth the addition. Not crowded and well kept up. Public Rooms: Everything was cleaned each night. I watched the staff clean at all hours and they worked hard. The ship was just rehabed so everything was still in pretty good shape. Service: The servers overall were great we were in specialty so taken care of well and those extra tips go a long way. Mary Anne and the crew that assisted us were super. The crew in the buffet worked hard but hardly smiled. They look overworked and underpaid. Shore Excursions: I would not recommend the Black Swan boat tour in Belize it was a waste of money. We went out in the water and drove around. Did not see much and the guide was filling in so was in a rush to get us back. It was nice hearing about life on the island but not something to do again. The swim with the Dolphin in Costa Maya is a small area of dirty water where dolphins take you about 1/2 block in the water back and forth. Wait to do this in Honduras it was better. NCL offers a $50 credit per port but then you add on those in your party and it adds up. We went away from the port and found tours of 1/3 of the price. Be aware that you are guided to NCL activities but if you leave the port you will see many options. Just pick and choose because they are pretty aggressive. The swim with the dolphin Value for the Money: It was ok but a lot of those in the suites said they would go on other cruise lines in the future because NCL was downgrading everything and up- charging for so much that they did not in the past. Be prepared to pay $4.99 for shrimp in Cagneys they just added this. Also if having a drink before the ship leaves port you will be charged local taxes. Keep an eye on your bill and check it daily. There were a few things that were added here and there that made no sense. Overall we enjoyed the cruise because of the staff and the people. We have been loyal NCL cruisers however are going to try a different cruise line in the future to compare. It seems like NCL is going in the super economy direction with less quality and add ons for everything. Disembarking was great as we had priority and this went well. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise because we were traveling with my elderly father. We knew Holland America typically caters activities and meals to the more mature crowd, so we thought it would be a good fit. My father enjoyed his cruise. But we had ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we were traveling with my elderly father. We knew Holland America typically caters activities and meals to the more mature crowd, so we thought it would be a good fit. My father enjoyed his cruise. But we had to work at it. Starting with positives.... Holland America has disembarkation and customs down to a science. I would give this a high five star rating. The concept of staff serving guests at the buffet line is genius. Our cabin was pretty clean, after we asked the steward to come back and get the soap scum off the soap holder. Mixology, martini tasting, and bar hop were the highlights of our cruise. No, we are not alcoholics. This is the first cruise I have ever taken where I actually lost weight! But there were problems. -THE DINING ROOM SERVICE was very slow, and inaccurate. When we questioned the length of time we were waiting, or tried to get what we had ordered, we were told the kitchen was backed up. We tried three times, two dinners and a lunch, and gave up, eating the rest of our meals at the overcooked and tasteless buffet. Dining room meals were always cold. FOOD ALLERGIES and dietary restrictions were totally ignored until Day 5 and a LOT of complaints to guest services. My hubby printed a card in four languages stating I had a life threatening allergy to shrimp. Only shrimp. I pointed it out to every waiter, at every meal, and laid it on the table. Only the servers in the Lido seemed to pay attention and cater to our needs. My dad gained 14 pounds in three days due to the excess salt in the food. The evening of Day 5 on our 7 night cruise the cruise staff finally addressed these issues. -there was NO WHEELCHAIR AT THE PORT for embarkation as promised. After a lengthy walk, we sat for literally two hours waiting for a wheelchair to assist us the rest of the way through the ship to our cabin. Hubby and I were discouraged from being on the elevators with my dad. We had to hike up the stairs with luggage in tow to leave elevator room for “those who really needed it”. -there was NO PREBOARDING for Mariners as promised. We arrived at the port as directed at 11 am. It turns out it’s not ANY mariner status, as we were told on the phone, but only 3 star and above that get priority boarding. It’s the same for most every “mariner “ function on the cruise. 1 and 2 star mariners are only allowed to attend the luncheon at the end of the cruise. The port staff in Tampa was not helpful at all. They kept pointing to the stale cookies and water to pass our time. -PORTS OF CALL. Even the cruise staff would caution about getting off the ship if you weren’t on an organized tour. Organized tours with “handicapped accessible “ options did not include getting from the ship to the tour, often a 10 minute walk. We were instructed to stay in the designated areas (aka shopping areas). Why did the ship even stop here? -there’s NO MAINSTAGE ENTERTAINMENT. They put lounge caliber entertainment (A magician, a comedian, a pianist, and a doo whop a cappella group) on the main stage as “featured entertainment”. Movies shown were old. Classes were taught by untrained crew members. -my fathers BATHROOM TRASH WAS NEVER EMPTIED during the 7 day cruise. Our hallway smelled like a sewer, but our room was ok. Obviously, Dad’s smelled. And, we may never stop teasing my dad about the ladies’ panties than ended up on his balcony on Day 4 that were never removed. Throughout the ship there are raised “speed bumps” as we nicknamed them. Just enough height difference to trip an older person walking. Most public space chairs do not have armrests. I would not have noticed, until watching my father try to get in or out of a chair. For a ship that boasts catering to mature clientele, they might try to accommodate better in the public areas. We had travelled on Holland America a decade ago. We were very disappointed with what we witnessed on this cruise. ADVICE TO FUTURE TRAVELERS: bring a cane, and steady walking shoes. Keep expectations low. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
First let me say the cruise was 5 stars BUT. I don't like to comment about fellow passengers. We all have our own quirks and habits. This time I have to point out a few of nasty things I saw. Don't sample the buffet with ... Read More
First let me say the cruise was 5 stars BUT. I don't like to comment about fellow passengers. We all have our own quirks and habits. This time I have to point out a few of nasty things I saw. Don't sample the buffet with your fingers and worse don't keep licking your fingers while handling food and the utensils used to serve the food. Geez how do you spell norovirus? Use the hand cleaners offered. There were many people who ignored the staffs attempts to give them hand cleaner or would flat out refuse to use the hand cleaner. Not washing your hands is nasty. Last observation. Would you want a house guest to sit at your kitchen table and put their feet, especially their bare feet, on your kitchen table? No? then why would you put your feet on tables used by others? Wow. Having been on more than 60 cruises I can honestly say I've seen this behavior before, but never as much as this past cruise. One has to ask what is happening to common sense and manors. Ok enough negative. The cruise was great. We don't dwell on the negatives, we are on a vacation. We make our own good time, our goal is to have fun not complain. The embarkation was quick and smooth. Only one caution about debarkation. I see the same thing every time RC uses terminal 6. The terminal is too small to handle all the luggage at once. Passengers are assigned numbers for departure and asked to wait on the ship until their number is called. If you leave the ship before your number is called you'll just end up waiting for your luggage. The luggage area is so small they can only put out a few luggage numbers at a time. So unless you don't mind standing around, waiting for your luggage, it's best to wait on the ship and have an extra cup of coffee until your number is called. The ship is old but very well maintained. The crew is constantly cleaning and trying to keep up with the normal maintenance. The crew is friendly and always willing to help with any issue. The Rhapsody is scheduled for some refurbishing this fall, but it really doesn't need much. We dined at the Windjammer buffet. The food was plentiful and varied from good to excellent. Each day some items were always available, burgers, fries, salad, ECT the rest of the buffet changed daily. The Windjammer was clean and the staff was great. If you go on a cruise just to relax or you want to be entertained, the Rhapsody has it all. There are activities all day long, music/dancing, shows and game shows at night. You should find something for all ages. it doesn't have some of the entertainment found on the larger ships, like wave riders, zip lines but still enough to do. I can't say enough about the crew. Maybe because it's a smaller ship, but the crew/staff is about the friendliest we ever encountered. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We decided to go on this cruise, this ship - because we went with a group of friends, about 40 of us altogether. We have been on 15 cruises as of now. The previous 4 were on " mega-ships." We also prefer to go eastern ... Read More
We decided to go on this cruise, this ship - because we went with a group of friends, about 40 of us altogether. We have been on 15 cruises as of now. The previous 4 were on " mega-ships." We also prefer to go eastern Caribbean - but, in order to be with our friends, we decided to go on this smaller, somewhat older ship, on this route.We had low expectations, thinking the better staff, service - is usually on the flagship boats. So this ship - the crew, the food, the entertainment - they hit it out-of-the-ballpark ! I don't recall ever seeing such a focused, dedicated staff as this one. The entertainment was excellent - people were friendly - and the crew couldn't do enough to accommodate us. The ship was also very clean - cheery - a lot of interesting artwork around the ship too- something we are seeing less and less of that. I want to re-visit the food. The food in the main dining room was quite above average. We did the premium dining 2 nights as well, the Italian one night, the steak house the other night. We got the 2-for-1 deal, had to do the meals the first 2 nights. The meals were rich, and a bit much for my " mature " digestive system. ( Eyes bigger than my stomach these days !!! ) Great food, classic Northern Italian. And of course,great aged steaks, like any premium steak house in any major city !! Worth every penny, even at full-price !!! . The food servers went way above and beyond the requirements of their job. And they were entertaining and engaging. Maybe the " rah-rah-cheering " sessions at the end of every meal got a little carried away, but they DID deserve to be acknowledged and recognized for all their efforts. Both by applause AND by appropriate gratuities at the end of the cruise. The people worked HARD to make our trip the best it could be. We ( wife and I ) don't do excursions anymore -been there, done that. We WISH some policies were a little different, like being able to get a pitcher of water without having to pay $7.95 for a service charge. We wish the cost of on-board communications / internet was more reasonable. We traveled on a budget, so we skipped that. Didn't NEED to be in touch with anyone back home. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This was a cruise to a place I always dreamed of visiting - CUBA. That was the highlight of the cruise. Embarkation went very smoothly. We had a 12 show time and we were on board eating and playing cards by 12:30. Due to an serious ... Read More
This was a cruise to a place I always dreamed of visiting - CUBA. That was the highlight of the cruise. Embarkation went very smoothly. We had a 12 show time and we were on board eating and playing cards by 12:30. Due to an serious fall, my niece broke her leg and rented a knee scooter which met the size requirements of Carnival. It was to be in the room by 2pm. At 2:15 we entered the room and there it was. Perfect. 4pm we set off from Tampa. We arrived at Key West the next day at noon. We hung out on the ship while in dock, lazing around and enjoying each other's company. We took off from Key West, spent the night in the casino and in the morning arrived in Cuba. Disembarking was also made easy via customs, even though explaining an e-cigarette met with odd looks. Off we went to meet up with Jorge from Blexie who proudly drove us around Cuba explaining various areas, customs and culture. It was a long awaited experience and not a moment of regret. Back on the ship we dressed and got ready for a night at the Tropicana. An incredible show that made the trip even more memorable. We were sailing by the time we woke for two sea days and just remembering what we experienced. The trip back home was a little rocky, but not sickening. The temperature was too cool to be outside, so it was back to the casino. We arrived in Tampa, disembarkation went well and now I spend my time remembering the sites and sounds of Cuba and the wonderful crew of Carnival. It was perfect!!!! 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
The ship was clean and well maintained, however, the style was outdated. The food looked a lot better than it tasted. The food tasted bland, but was edible. The saving grace was the service. Wonderful service across the board. Everyone was ... Read More
The ship was clean and well maintained, however, the style was outdated. The food looked a lot better than it tasted. The food tasted bland, but was edible. The saving grace was the service. Wonderful service across the board. Everyone was pleasant, friendly, professional and smiling at all times. The main dining room staff were stars. Our server and assistant waiter were wonderful, Socorro and Fernando. Maria in the main dining room was wonderful as well as Isabella. The week I traveled had mostly seniors and a few families with small children. My son's ages 10 and 8 chose not to go to kids club since it was geared towards smaller children. MSC cruises had a better children's program in my opinion. Although I had a wonderful trip, I wish the ship was more modern and had more entertainment such as movie theatre, game room for kids with board games, pool table, etc...however, the service more than made up for it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We have cruised 35+ times and enjoyed this trip as one of our best.. First, we love cruising out of Tampa. We really enjoy their valet parking. We wish other ports adopted this, it would hurt the "Off Site" parking. The cabin ... Read More
We have cruised 35+ times and enjoyed this trip as one of our best.. First, we love cruising out of Tampa. We really enjoy their valet parking. We wish other ports adopted this, it would hurt the "Off Site" parking. The cabin (and extended balcony) were very comfortable and Ray kept it clean and well stocked.. The first "sea day" we had, just for a moment, a rainbow that appeared to end in the water right outside our cabin... AND we are on the Miracle.. The steakhouse, Nick & Nora's (Topper fame) was one of the best (although stay away from the Wagu)... Chef Bijoy, was excellent as well as the hostess, Edina and server, Daria... This trip was extra nice as we did win a few jackpots in the casino. The staff there Christina, and Nozi, (and in the cage Maria and Presley) were extra attentive. The drink service, unlike other cruise line, was fast and delicious.... Thank you Miracle... Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Our cruise on the RCCL Rhapsody was full of relaxation, tequila, and cerveza. Our embarkation was quick and easy thanks to being able to do a lot of the check in on line. Our oceanview cabin was clean and spacious enough for two people. ... Read More
Our cruise on the RCCL Rhapsody was full of relaxation, tequila, and cerveza. Our embarkation was quick and easy thanks to being able to do a lot of the check in on line. Our oceanview cabin was clean and spacious enough for two people. Our cabin steward kept it clean and tidy and we never saw him. A variety of activities were offered by the ship but none really excited us so we opted (for the first time on a cruise) to just kick back and do some bar hopping in port~ thanks to Cozumel Bar Hop ~ and beach relaxing at Krazy Lobster in Costa Maya. The evening meals in the main dining room had less options than we were used to on other ships but they were still adequate enough to please us. Our servers were wonderful and made sure we had everything we wanted ~ including the night I wanted 2 bowls of Lobster Bisque. (Well they actually only brought me one but it was a HUGE salad bowl full and it was delicious). We ate breakfast in the Windjammer buffet each morning and definitely had adequate offerings except for the pastries but judge them for yourself because I am a pastryaholic. If we were onboard at lunch time, we also ate in the Windjammer which had a good selection. We did attend a couple shows in the Hollywood Theater which were entertaining as well as relaxing. My son actually won money in the casino and that is a first for cruise ship casinos. Disembarkation was equally smooth and we made a swift get away via taxi to our early flight. Overall this was a relaxing, stress free cruise from TAMPA and I would totally recommend it if relaxation is your primary goal. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
As Diamond Plus passengers, were looking forward to the experience of the Rhapsody of the seas. Yes, we got a great deal on an inside cabin but do prefer a window or above. First, the port of Tampa was a breeze to get to from the ... Read More
As Diamond Plus passengers, were looking forward to the experience of the Rhapsody of the seas. Yes, we got a great deal on an inside cabin but do prefer a window or above. First, the port of Tampa was a breeze to get to from the airport. We chose to use an Uber both ways and were extremely impressed with the whole process, first time using them, highly recommend. Upon getting to the port, another first, was not too impressed. Long lines, not orderly, just different as compared to other ports. Got on ship and noticed immediately that it is well worn. Never saw a buffet so crowded on the first day and every day after that. They actually had to stop people from entering at different times during the cruise because it was so packed. Never experienced that on ships of the same class in the RCCL fleet. Food was good overall. Believe it or not, got better toward the end! Cabin was kept clean, happy with size and room Stewart. Ate most nights in MDR and poor waiter had too many tables, it was crowded. Food & service was as expected, didn't wait too long with the exception of a couple of nights. Could have used Concierge lounge but decided on Diamond Lounge after first night, was faster and more relaxed. Entertainment was good, RCCL shows were impressive and guest entertainers OK. Carried our own luggage off for an early flight, no problem, was one of the first off ship. Uber was there and waiting. Would we go out of Tampa again? Maybe, but prefer NY, Baltimore and Port Canaveral. Better ships and experience overall. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Choose this trip partly because of the date I was free to go, but also had wanted to go out of Tampa, see Key West again, and visit Roatan. So was largely destination oriented. Weather was horrible at embarkation and somewhat again on ... Read More
Choose this trip partly because of the date I was free to go, but also had wanted to go out of Tampa, see Key West again, and visit Roatan. So was largely destination oriented. Weather was horrible at embarkation and somewhat again on leaving. We were impressed with how smoothly the staff handled the challenging conditions. Were in a small storm overnight, almost didn't get to dock in Key West. Again they did a great job of checking weather forecast and getting with all the appropriate people on shore to move our whole time up by 3 hours I believe it was. I had not been on ship for a few years and at first was put off by new dining options and the relaxed dress code on 'Gala" night. Guess I won't really need to take my evening gown any more. But I also never got sick as I have in the past with help yourself dining on other ships, so can't complain about that. Was a little irritating that often shore excursions got back just as the Lido was shutting down for awhile. Some of that could have been timed differently or given a snack on the tour. Was the first time I've booked a smaller 'oceanview' cabin..had been in balcony or suite before and wondered how the service would compare. Honestly I could not tell the difference as far as cabin stewards and other staff with whom we interacted. Also think the service with HAL is above and beyond. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
This cruise was a last moment decision to get some sun in the middle of January Weather in Minnesota. This was our 18th cruise on NCL and our 2nd time taking the Pearl to sea. We are currently Platinum Plus members on NCL's ... Read More
This cruise was a last moment decision to get some sun in the middle of January Weather in Minnesota. This was our 18th cruise on NCL and our 2nd time taking the Pearl to sea. We are currently Platinum Plus members on NCL's Latitudes Reward system. Tampa & the Barrymore Hotel: We flew into Tampa Wednesday morning, from Minnesota. We requested a taxi in the baggage claim area of the Tampa airport and it picked us up immediately and took us to the Barrymore Hotel. I gave the cab driver a $10.00 tip as he was of Moroccan decent and was a true delight during the ride. The Barrymore Hotel Tampa Riverwalk is a funky run down motel with an O.K room that served the purpose of being close to the cruise dock area cheaply. Restaurants are not in easy walking distance and the Hotel Restaurant breakfast service was very poor to non existent. So if you are walking challenged, staying at this Hotel may be a poor choice for you. The Hotel Shuttle to us to the Port at 11:00 AM on Thursday and we immediately checked in. *** People in the Embarkation waiting area need to understand that you will board the ship in a rotation determined by your Latitude level so it was chaos when individuals at lower levels were arguing with security about boarding first.*** The Pearl was: - Clean The Staff was; - Outgoing, - We had three favorite waiters/waitresses immediately. - Our Cabin Stewart (Rotessa), was very friendly, a hard worker and a delight to be around The Interior Cabin, 10105; - a Clean, Well Located, Regular sized inside cabin that made our routine on the Pearl convenient. Specialty Restaurants: - Cagney's 5 stars. (Service and food was impeccable). (2 evening meals) - La Cucina 4 Stars. (Service by "Francis", (our Waiter), is always the best). Menu is less desirable than Cagney's in my opinion. (1 Evening meal). - Le Bristro 5 Stars. Menu was extensive, Food was prepared and served flawlessly my Mary Jane and the meal was a delight. (1 evening meal) Regular Resturants: - Summer Palace. A great breakfast place. Sit and watch the sea go by and you wake up with a good cup of coffee. - Indigo was our choice in the evening. It was adequate. - O'Sheehan's; Needs a more extensive menu and add more waiters. The Menu is limited and it took over an hour to get served at lunch time. - Garden Cafe Buffet; I would recommend staying away from eating in the Buffet unless you are ready to be run over by a starving passenger that just needs to get to those french fries before you do. Food is adequate. Table cleaners are friendly, though seating capacity is limited so a table for two is at times hard to find. Casino: - Staff is very friendly and the machines, while not giving back large jackpots, kept my wife and her allotted limit in the game until Day 9. Shows: Entertainment was very limited on this cruise. Ports of Call: - Key West: Antigua: Tortola: ST Maartin: San Juan, Porto Rico: All of the ports were non eventful. No excursions were taken as I been there-Done That on [previous cruises. Did several long walks in the different Ports. Most of last years Hurricane damage has been fixed in the tourist areas. Disembarkation: - Orderly, Efficient and Well Managed. Used NCL to shuttle us back to the Tampa Airport and I was through security at the airport by 9:45 AM. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Been on several 7 day cruises and decided to try short one. Chose the Carnival Paridise for the interesting look of the atrium. Since this ship was recently redone and a smaller ship leaving from Tampa. I was only an hour from the port. ... Read More
Been on several 7 day cruises and decided to try short one. Chose the Carnival Paridise for the interesting look of the atrium. Since this ship was recently redone and a smaller ship leaving from Tampa. I was only an hour from the port. Parking garage was just across from the port. Boarding was a easy as Carnival had specific boarding times. Unfortunately dis embarking was a little chaotic with impatient passenger getting in line before their call. I chose check out luggage and at the scheduled time I was off of ship less than 15 minutes Loved the sail away party. The buffet was typical food. Out on deck the guys burgers and the blue iguana tacos tops. The dinning room was cozy and a lot of different items to have. the breakfast buffet had general fare. The seaday brunch was a nice touch. Ordered room service for the continental breakfast, arrived at time requested and it was fresh and warm. Shows were great. The few shops had good buys .The cabin smaller than big ships was very clean and the window big enough to enjoy the outside. Room steward freshen up room daily. I preferred the evening. Towel animals ,cute Carnival Paradise had Staff and crew honored at the dis embarkation program on the last day of cruise. Another thing I liked was the military appreciation show later that day that honored military people on board. Overall I had a great time on the Paradise. Planning to book another cruise Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Chose this cruise because of our proximity to Tampa. Embarkation and debarkation were the fastest and easiest of any cruise we've taken. The food and service in the main dining room was excellent. The food on the lido was very good ... Read More
Chose this cruise because of our proximity to Tampa. Embarkation and debarkation were the fastest and easiest of any cruise we've taken. The food and service in the main dining room was excellent. The food on the lido was very good also. The ship is getting old and shows it. It is very clean though. The main disappointment was the casino. The smoke is over powering and the variety of machines is not satisfactory. Way too many people were sitting at machines just to smoke, not playing. Management appeared to be in different to this. Our inside cabin was comfortable and kept very clean. Our Steward was very helpful and provided ice and wine cooler and glasses as needed. We usually book a balcony cabin but the price was so good for inside that we couldn't resist. The bar and pool service was very good. The delicious free soft serve ice cream made Ben and Jerry's unnecessary. All and all a nice 7 day getaway. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Always wanted to go to Cuba and I prefer the smaller ships and the price was good and right after the holidays I hoped the ship would not be crowded and not too many kids which turned out to be correct on both counts. The dry dock had ... Read More
Always wanted to go to Cuba and I prefer the smaller ships and the price was good and right after the holidays I hoped the ship would not be crowded and not too many kids which turned out to be correct on both counts. The dry dock had the ship looking great and the crew was really great. Embarkation was so quick and smooth than any other port I have been at, I was on the ship a little after 11. I was E187 inside room and very nice and never did hear any noise from restaurant above my cabin. Food in main dining room had no taste so much better at buffet which I prefer anyway. I Still have no idea why everyone loves guys burgers but I still can't see the attraction. There was a singer on the ship, Emma Jude, who was very talented and enjoyed listening to all the live music on ship. There were very few announcements from cruise director which I really enjoyed. I spent most of the day on the serenity as wind was less noticeable there. They had tv's at all the bars on national championship game and nfl playoff games and there was crowds at those venues. Departure was also very quick and wish every port was as good as Tampa. Did notice cutbacks on food and salad bar fixings have been really cut back on but I always had plenty to eat. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Cuba was one of the few places we had not visited in the Caribbean. That was rectified January 2019 on a five night cruise aboard the Paradise which proved to be an excellent overall experience. This ship was easy to navigate and not ... Read More
Cuba was one of the few places we had not visited in the Caribbean. That was rectified January 2019 on a five night cruise aboard the Paradise which proved to be an excellent overall experience. This ship was easy to navigate and not crowded like larger ships tend to be. Recently refurbished the public spaces and our suite were clean and bright. We had G3, one of two Grand Suites and the views and serenity was fabulous from Deck 14. Only complaint was the back cushion on sofa bed was easily toppled over and still would have loved a coffee maker like Carnival used to have in higher end suites. The food in the main dinning room was above average and offered wide choices. Staff throughout were friendly and helpful. Major drawback was lack of information regarding Cuban Visa procedure pre-cruise in a timely fashion, not detailed to week before and while the $75.00 fee per person was typical, it should have been clearly stated that the charge would be put on your room account. Both embarkation and debarkation were easy and painless. TIPS: Exchange US dollars for Canadian dollars or Euros pre cruise and receive a much better exchange rate at Havana Terminal Exchange. Also much better and personalized old car tours of Havana can be arranged via the internet (highly recommend Old Cars Havana) prior to the ship and was literally 1/3 longer and 1/2 the cost of Carnival offered excursion. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
My Wife and I enjoyed the cruise with Norweigen Cruise Lines. I have only cruised on Carnival until this last cruise. I will from now on prefer Norweigen over Carnival. The food was a huge improvement and the staff were very good as well. ... Read More
My Wife and I enjoyed the cruise with Norweigen Cruise Lines. I have only cruised on Carnival until this last cruise. I will from now on prefer Norweigen over Carnival. The food was a huge improvement and the staff were very good as well. There were a lot of good things on the Pearl, just wished more pools we're available. The two pools they has we're always too crowded for my liking. Overall I was very pleased with our Cruise experience!! Thank You!! Washy, Washy!! LOL!!! The availability of Hand Sanitizer was AWESOME!! It made the cruise worry free. Before entering the dining facilities they actually had people there to spray everyone's hands with sanitizer to avoid the spreading of germs and disease on the cruise!! That was phenomenal!!! It put our mind at ease!!! The New Year's Eve party was a lot of fun and we also enjoyed White Night as well. The drink package was a great deal, and saved us money, I will purchase it going forward!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Rotterdam Christmas 2018 We left Pennsylvania Sunday morning, Dec. 23 with a 6:05 flight time on Southwest. Arriving at the airport (after being delayed at the car park) at 4:30 with the line to check bags we were a bit concerned. We ... Read More
Rotterdam Christmas 2018 We left Pennsylvania Sunday morning, Dec. 23 with a 6:05 flight time on Southwest. Arriving at the airport (after being delayed at the car park) at 4:30 with the line to check bags we were a bit concerned. We did get the bags checked in about 25 minutes and then headed up to security. The lines were huge but fortunately we all had TSA pre-check and we breezed right through security. We even had time to get a breakfast at McDonald’s right by the gate. Just as we finished breakfast boarding began. The flight was absolutely fine and on-time. We landed in Tampa at 8:45 and had our luggage by 9:15. A pleasant Uber driver had us at the port at 9:45. We quickly checked our bags and got in line for the terminal to open at 10:00. It was a cool morning in Tampa (about 50 degrees) so they opened the terminal early to get folks “In out of the cold.” We had a nice conversation while waiting in line for security to open. We were quickly checked in and shown to the 4 & 5 star waiting area. There was nothing special about it, just a smaller more private room, and when boarding began at 11:30 we were the first to board. We have not been on the Rotterdam before but immediately felt very comfortable. We found Job, a dining room manager, at a desk on deck 4 where we were the first to discuss special dietary needs and a wish for fixed dining. He said they had just received a cancellation that morning and we were able to join a six-top, table 55, right at the aft windows. He also took all of DW’s special diet needs and promised to stop by our table (which he did) to make sure everything was good. We enjoyed embarkation lunch in the dining room. We showed our DS around the ship and attended the mariner’s welcome back reception before the muster drill. After the muster drill we found our luggage delivered and we unpacked and prepared for dinner. We visited the tour desk and arranged for an ATV adventure in Honduras for our DS. Dinner was okay, not great, but service was excellent and rather prompt. We attended the EXC guide talk at 7:30 but after that the 2:30 start to the day was taking its toll and we called it a night. Monday, December 24, 2018 – Christmas Eve in Key West DS was up early and we found him reading on the Lido. We enjoyed breakfast together in the dining room. After breakfast we went to talk to the EXC guide about Honduras. He told us that there was expected to be several local tour options offered once off the dock in town. At 10:00 a Dutch Shuffleboard tournament was held and I ended up winning with 156 points. We docked a little early and the ship was cleared at 10:50, ahead of our stated 11:00 arrival. We left Rotterdam to explore Key West. We are docked right at Mallory Square, so that is very convenient. We took photos of the old customs house, Milepost Zero, the southernmost point (but did wait in the block-long line for our own photo), the southernmost beach, and the ‘sand snow-man’ at the beach. We took the free “Duval” bus back towards the ship, stopped at CVS for a few necessities, and then headed back to Rotterdam. We enjoyed a light lunch in the lido and I had a burger from the Dive-In. The burgers are very good. DS and I enjoyed the pool and hot tub. The pool was too cold for this northerner. I guess that doesn’t bother the young folks on board. We rested up a little bit and loaded the photos onto my computer before getting ready for the evening. We made it to happy hour in the Ocean Bar. Dinner was a special Christmas Eve menu and it was good. There was a little delay with DW’s special order. We went to a special “Sheridan’s” tasting at the shops and the Piano bar at the mix started at 8:00 so we enjoyed that. We caught part of the 9:00 show, a comedian, and returned to the Piano bar until 10:45. The special crew Christmas Eve service was wonderful. That went to 11:50 and a late night Christmas Eve buffet was available in the lido. Several Dutch specialties such as Ollie Bollen and Dutch Apple Pie were available. Tuesday, December 25 – Christmas Day at Sea We tried to sleep in but even so were in the dining room for breakfast by 8:30, partly helped by an hour time change to Central time. At 10:00 we attended the “Santa comes to Rotterdam” festivities in the main showroom. That was a lot of fun, especially the video that was put together of Santa exploring the ship before he appeared in the rear of the showroom. We had made reservations for lunch in the Pinnacle. Service was challenged likely due to a combination of the venue being popular and one of the chefs being ill. Lunch ended up being quite nice but it took them bringing my meal twice. The Pinnacle manager ended up comping our meal. We were really tired after staying up last night but attempts to nap failed. The pool and hot tub were enjoyed for a while. We enjoyed happy hour in the Ocean Bar and the drinks were perfect. The special Christmas Dinner menu included roast Turkey as well as a variety of surf & turf. Christmas Ham was also an option. We attended the show, ____ Jukebox. The performers were very good although most of the songs were not know to us. After the show we were just too tired and called it a night. Wednesday, December 26 – Trujillo (Banana Coast) Honduras We enjoyed a dining room breakfast before heading out to this largely unknown port. DS has an “ATV adventure” booked through the ship and we tendered over at the same time. After he checked in for his excursion we headed out to explore. A short walk past the port gates found us at a series of restaurants lining the beach. One of these looked clean, had a sign saying “English spoken,” along with other signs “$5 chair rental; $3 ice cold beer” and others. A friendly person waived us in and after looking the place over we decided to stay here. $10 for two beach loungers and an umbrella is a good deal nearly anywhere. We enjoyed a drink each, a couple of swims, watched other cruisers brave the “Banana boat,” and had a very nice 2 ½ hours. A total investment of $22 including a generous tip was well spent. We talked with our waitress who told us Rotterdam was only the second ship to call here this year, and only two or three more ships were scheduled to call. She said the town would love to become a regular cruise stop as they had a lot to offer and port calls create employment. Their biggest local concern is the lack of employment for young people. After leaving the beach we headed to town to walk around a bit. We ran into Abrie, the travel guide who was on his way back to the tender pier. We saw several stands selling local crafts on the main square, a large Christmas tree, a manger scene, and lots of locals out enjoying the day. We headed back to the tender pier and were back on board Rotterdam at 1:30. I enjoyed a Dive Inn burger (excellent on Rotterdam) and cooled off in the pool a little. We went to the Ocean Bar happy hour and the Mai-Tai’s were not made well this day. Way too strong and attempts to make them better failed. Went to dinner and all was well. The show was a Magician and he was very good. The piano bar is ‘off’ tonight so we called it a night after the show. Thursday, December 27, 2018 – Santo Thomas de Castilla, Guatemala. It is said that sometimes “You can’t do it over again.” That was certainly true here in Santo Thomas. We were here in 2009 and had a wonderful day visiting the Las Escobas River and waterfalls, swimming under the falls, and then enjoying the afternoon at the Green Bay resort. In fact, I have two photos of this in my office at work, some nine years after the visit, as the memories were so fond. I found out before the cruise that the Green Bay resort had gone under, but the waterfalls were still there. So we arranged taxi service for $25/pp round trip, and paid $14 entrance fee to the national park for each of us at the entrance. They have certainly improved the entrance area with nature displays and our trail guide was very pleasant. The experience was such a letdown however. Since our 2009 visit, they have now built two additional pipelines taking water out of the river from above the falls for the local towns. Okay, but this leaves just a trickle of water going down the river. We did swim at the lower falls and it was refreshing, but this was nowhere near the 2009 experience. At the upper falls we didn’t even go into the pool. We walked back down to the entrance and headed back to the port. On the way back to the port we had a brief tour of the town of Santo Thomas de Castilla. We were happy to be back to the port shortly thereafter. We did peruse some of the vendors at the port market and bought some ladies sandals, men’s belts, and a gift item. Back on the Rotterdam we enjoyed lunch and some pool time. Some of the tour providers did put on a little farewell presentation on the pier; however it was nothing like the all-out sendoff we remember from nine years ago. Dinner was enjoyable and after dinner we walked around a while before calling it a night. Friday, December 28 – Costa Maya, Mexico – NOT! Rotterdam was scheduled to dock at Costa Maya at 8:00. At 7:15 we could see we were just offshore with two large ships settling into port. Going out onto deck 3 the wind was strong enough to ‘blow you over!’ We went to the dining room for breakfast and right about 8:00 we closely approached the dock. The Allure of the Seas was at the outer dock and yikes that is some huge ship! We heard the engines and thrusters straining and quite suddenly they stopped and we were slowly drifting away from the dock. I said “I guess we are not going to Costa Maya” and 15 minutes later the captain came on and made the announcement that due to the gale-force winds and Rotterdam being assigned the inner dock there was no way to safely make port. We finished breakfast and headed to the lido where we grabbed a table near the pool. We enjoyed some pool time in the “Wave pool” and then attended an 11:00 “Coffee chat” with the magician entertainer. That was a lot of fun but the assigned Explorers Lounge was overflowing and a larger venue would have been better. We checked the menu for a dining room lunch and opted to head to the lido instead. That was a great call as slow roasted turkey was featured in the carving station! We were very tired and all three of us ended up taking an afternoon nap. We went to the Crow’s Nest happy hour, and then enjoyed our second gala dinner. The evening show was the jukebox and it was okay. After the show we enjoyed the piano bar until he took his break at 10:00 and called it a night. Saturday, December 29 – At sea, gulf of Mexico Breakfast in the dining room began our day. At 9:30 was “Ask the captain” and the captain began with a slideshow of the attempted docking in Costa Maya. It was very clear from the slide show that there was no chance to safely dock, but the weather report was extremely wrong as the winds were double what had been forecast. The captain also did a virtual tour of the bridge and engine room, and then answered questions from the floor. At 10:30 was the mariner’s reception in the Explorer’s lounge. This was nice with about 10 folks receiving their copper medallion. We opted to pass on the Mariner’s lunch after looking over the menu. We enjoyed lunch poolside and a surprise lunch time happy hour was enjoyed with lunch. No “Wave pool” today as the ocean is flat and there is no wind. In fact, Tampa port has a fog problem and despite a very early arrival at the pilot station, we dropped anchor there. We packed most of our luggage late in the afternoon. We should have at least kept bathing attire for the carry – off bag but failed to think ahead enough. Dinner was in the Pinnacle Grille and we enjoyed that very much. After dinner I wondered around a little before calling it a night. Sunday, December 30 – Disembarkation? Eventually! We woke to find we were still anchored at the Tampa bay pilot station. Fog had closed the port. Yes, there was certainly fog. But why close the port? In the spring of 2017 we cruised New England and Canada and every port was fogged in each morning, and much thicker fog that what we witnessed here in Tampa. We made every port on that cruise early, despite the fog. In any case, we had a dining room breakfast. We watched a movie, Crazy Rich Asians, in the showroom. We had lunch in the dining room. We started to watch a second movie, the latest Mission Impossible in the showroom but then the captain said we had been cleared to begin our approach and we would soon pass two outbound cruise ships and sail under the sunshine skyway bridge, so we went up to the observation deck to take photos. We certainly have never passed so close to other cruise ships moving at speed as we witnessed here! The channel is not very wide so they passed less than 200 meters portside of Rotterdam. It was fun as all the passengers were waving at each other. We led in a parade of three cruise ships and eventually docked at 6:00 PM. Despite being in the first color group to be called it was 7:30 before we were clear to disembark. They did feed us dinner in the lido, and the prime rib was excellent! After dinner we waited in the showroom where an NFL game was on the big screen. We had very little wait at customs and caught a cab to the airport to pick up our rental car. We are spending a couple of days in Florida before flying home New Year’s day morning, so this is the end of the cruise log. Summary: While we’ve done lots of Holland America cruises, this was our first on Rotterdam. I really like the ship. The décor is classic, the size is convenient, and the service generally superior. We had no “Bad meals.” Some meals were really great. In fact, Job and Wayan in the dining room went above and beyond in taking care of DW’s special dietary needs. For our adult son, this was his first HAL experience. After about two days he said “I feel like I went back in time.” I asked why? He said you just don’t ever get this kind of service anywhere. His room steward remembered all our names after the first introduction! He had a really great time. There were a few issues that were never really addressed. One was the temperature in our cabin, #3431. A few times it did go down but then it would go back up again. In any case, the thermostat had little (if any) effect. Our son’s cabin (#2588) was always comfortable. Likely due to the holiday crowding with many 3rd and 4th berths occupied, there were a few times it just seemed to take a little longer to get service. On the other hand, some of the bar staff really went out of their way to take care of us. I thought the captain really went out of his way to explain why our port call in Costa Maya needed to be aborted. I also think it’s a real shame that the Tampa port closes due to what seemed like not very bad fog. I can assure all the readers that we will have to think very long and hard before booking another cruise from Tampa. For us, this was a minor inconvenience until the 90 minutes from docking until our priority luggage tag color was called (which was just far too long). We were not flying that day, but usually we do fly immediately home! Overall I give this 7 night Christmas cruise on Rotterdam 3.5 stars out of five. I hope to cruise again on the elegant Rotterdam. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018

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