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21 Transatlantic Holiday Cruise Reviews

Very mixed feelings about Costa. The best service from the staff and some of the best food that we have ever had on a cruise ship! We did all our research and knew that our shore excursions may get cancelled for lack of English speaking ... Read More
Very mixed feelings about Costa. The best service from the staff and some of the best food that we have ever had on a cruise ship! We did all our research and knew that our shore excursions may get cancelled for lack of English speaking quest and they were. The tour desk was very helpful re booking us with our choice of languages, we chose German for Casablanca and Rabat. Took lots of pictures but do not know what we were taking pictures of. LOL! The bar staff especially Mojan Tayao and Rossele Lucas knew us by name after our first visit to their bar, what a pleasure getting to know them! Suite butler, Marvin and the cabin steward Aswawi provided impeccable service for all eighteen days. Our waiter at table #229, Benny and his assistant Kadek were terrific in every respect. Food portions in the mdr were of perfect size and excellent quality. The buffet is crowded and we starting timing when we would go to avoid the largest crowds. During our crossing we met many English speaking Europeans and now have new good friends from Holland, what fun! Do your homework, go with an open mind and enjoy a beautiful staff and ship!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My husband and I had the worst cruise in 25 years of cruising. We were due to leave Southampton on 20th December but the Captain announced that due to heavy storms we would have to stay in port overnight and leave the following afternoon. ... Read More
My husband and I had the worst cruise in 25 years of cruising. We were due to leave Southampton on 20th December but the Captain announced that due to heavy storms we would have to stay in port overnight and leave the following afternoon. We have subsequently discovered that we believe the delay was due to technical problems with the ship, bearing in mind this ship had a 2 day breakdown on the previous cruise, and a further breakdown on the following cruise. So because we were late leaving, our stop in Madeira was cancelled and our first stop would be Barbados after 11 sea days. We actually sailed past Madeira half a day later than scheduled so we could have had a stop there. The P&O ship Aurora left Southampton on the day we were due to leave so how did that ship weather the storm.? We could have left on time we were sure if the ship was mechanically fit. The first week onboard was a nightmare, the weather was awful and a lot of passengers were seasick, me included, I couldn't wait to reach a port, any port. The captain announced that we were only going to be able to have three and a half days port stops instead of the scheduled seven stops. We emailed Fred Olsen to show our disappointment and eventually the port stops were extended a bit, but still only 4 and a half days, everyone was disgusted. On top of all this people were so upset at having to pay £2 a day to have their dining time changed, it is an absolute ripoff. People should ask for the opposite sitting to the one they want because it is a money spinner for Fred. Then they closed one of the bars for 4or5 daysto redecorate it, can you beleive this. The next bombshell was workmen turned up and started moving a companionway on two decks. There was drilling and sawing all day for days on end, and tarpaulin coverings which looked so shabby, So many people complained that they stopped daytime work and started nightwork on both decks.You couldn't make it up. So many people couldn't sleep with the noise that the workmen went back to daytime work. It was so disrespectful to all the passengers onboard, no compensation was offered, not even a complementary bottle of wine on each table. Can you imagine it, sitting on deck, or eating lunch on deck and looking at men working on your deck and the one below, I could go on and on about our total disappointment with this cruise, the food was very average, not up to previous Fred Olsen cruises. We have cruised with P&O, Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Princess and never ever experienced anything like this. We have used Fred Olsen cruises for years, we are gold members, and have always recommended them as good value for money and really lovely waiters, cabin crew and reception staff, in fact all the crew have always been exceptional, but since old Fred handed over to young Fred it has all gone to pot, it is such a shame. I really think because of all these cutbacks and lack of consideration for their passengers enjoyment that their days are numbered. We are very upset by this and so are many other Fred Olsen passengers that we know. Bring back original Fred please. I would never cruise on the Black watch again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We were really excited to be taking the inaugural voyage of the Norwegian Breakaway from Southampton to New York this April but excitement led to let down as we boarded the ship and then throughout the voyage. 1st - the ship was clearly ... Read More
We were really excited to be taking the inaugural voyage of the Norwegian Breakaway from Southampton to New York this April but excitement led to let down as we boarded the ship and then throughout the voyage. 1st - the ship was clearly not ready for us. There was no program of the day's activities in the stateroom and the customer service desk said they had run out and no more would be printed. As a platinum Latitudes member I was entitled to a number of amenities but none were present in my cabin. After a complaint the amenities appeared the following evening. Another initial problem was an absence of the shipboard credit my travel agent had confirmed for us. It took 3 more days to get the credit that was confirmed in our reservations. As for the ship it was rather bland and boring. The food was the same. The pay restaurant Moderno was excellent however, as was the Blues club -we attended it every night and it turned out the be the highlight of our cruise. We highly recommend the band Slam Allen. The Cirque show was good as well, but Rock of Ages was horrible. We walked out after a tedious hour of amateurish singing and dancing. The pool area was totally inadequate. Set in the middle of the ship adjacent to a stage - speakers blasted either canned rock music or music from a live band. The sound was deafening and a total deterrent to using the pool. The children's pool and the water slide pool across the deck were unusable also as this was the area people landed from the huge water slide above. For a transatlantic cruise the pool was not really missed but it certainly would be on a Caribbean cruise. Another issue with this ship was a lack of quiet reading areas inside. There were almost no public lounges as pay restaurants had replaced these usual lounge areas. People congregated in the atrium mostly but it was extremely noisy. As for the cabins, we had both a balcony and an inside cabin and both were excellent. Top marks for good design and ergonomics. In conclusion I have to say we will not be cruising in this class of NCL ship again. Overall, it did not work for us. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
The Magic should, theoretically, provide more fun things to do than a smaller ship because there should be tons more space. Well, no. A lot of that free space is taken up by many more cabins and two more "premium" restaurants ... Read More
The Magic should, theoretically, provide more fun things to do than a smaller ship because there should be tons more space. Well, no. A lot of that free space is taken up by many more cabins and two more "premium" restaurants for a total of three. Since it's a new ship, it's obvious they're still getting the kinks out of their systems - figuring out how long they need to get everyone off and on the ship to shuttles for excursions, for example, is something they haven't quite gotten down. They stage departures for shore excursions from the main theater on this ship, and that is somewhat smooth, but if there's a port that requires a general shuttle into town, you'll want to go quite early to the theater if you don't want to wait for a long time. The boat, which is nearly brand new, also "broke" and had to have a thruster repaired which meant this sailing missed Grand Turk to go to Freeport for repairs. They gave all passengers $25 credit as a "we're sorry" which, in my opinion, is completely inadequate since a cruise to Grand Turk costs quite a lot (and there are none coming out of Galveston), and considering that they managed to arrange and film a commercial from a helicopter in Freeport, there were a lot of people suspicious that Carnival had been planning to hit Freeport all along. On the other hand, apparently the ship has to go BACK to Freeport instead of its next itinerary to Costa Maya, so if that's true, then Carnival was telling the truth - but it still is Carnival's fault that we did not go to Grand Turk, and it would have been a great gesture to do more than they did. Here are some of the good aspects: The best beds I've ever slept on in a cruise ship. Sleeping is very difficult for me, and I slept very well. An amazing staff. Our stewardess, Jolanta, was wonderful as were her assistants. Our waiters, A.K., Dario, and Sergh were so hard working and very friendly as was the beverage steward, Marijana. I was very impressed with the staff in the Lido, the coffee shop, the piano bar, room service staff, and the chef, Daniel Anulraj. The food was generally quite good. They seemed to have changed how they do things as they don't have both a starter and a salad at dinner, but, obviously, if you're still hungry after a three-course dinner, there's always more food to eat. If you enjoy the premium restaurants, the Magic's steakhouse was superb as was the Chef's Table event which is $75 per person, but provides seven courses, wine, and a tour of the spotless and impressive galley. The entertainment staff were a fun bunch, and gosh did they have to put up with a lot of grouching from unreasonable passengers demanding live television in the middle of the ocean. Major kudos to Carnival for their unflagging good cheer. Usually, I don't think of Carnival as a great line for "enrichment" but they had a number of useful photography classes led by Radu, and a photography competition that generated a lot of participation. Last, cove balconies are fantastic. If you have trouble with the claustrophobia of being cooped up indoors on a ship for days on end, you need to try a cove balcony room. Seriously awesome. Here are a couple suggestions for potential passengers: The "smoke-free" casino did not work out to be smoke-free (at all) as there are a few smoking areas, and the smoke permeates the entire area. If that's not going to work for you, perhaps start a petition to have a completely smoke free night like they do on Princess. Second, a lot of people caught a moderate cold on this sailing - They have Purell before you eat and before you use the computer, but you're touching the slot machines just as much as a computer keyboard and there's no Purell. Go around the corner to the "Fun Hub" (a computer/internet area - there are several on board) and use Purell before and after losing your money to the slots. :-) If deck five is too crowded and noisy, there's a row of couches on four across from the teen disco where you can read or have a quiet conversation. There's no sea-view, but there are also no beverage servers, so it's an area where you can feel like you can sit as long as you want without needing to buy a drink. Probably on most vessels it's difficult to get good seats for the shows unless you go very early and sit for an hour or more. Well, even though this ship is bigger, it doesn't seem like the theater is bigger nor are other venues, so even something like the "future cruise talk" can be jammed to capacity. Popular areas like the Ocean Plaza can be crowded with people playing cards instead of taking part in whatever activity is supposed to be taking place. So plan ahead and go early to the events you'd like to hit. In all seriousness, it's apparent that a lot of mistakes were made when this ship was built based on facts such as the damaged, dinged, and cracked sconces in all the elevators from poorly driven hoverounds (they were removed in Freeport, by the way) - apparently no one predicted that. Well, they also didn't predict how overcrowded the buffet or other popular areas were going to be at peak periods. So when they get around to overhauling the ship, I hope they find a way to reduce congestion. I love Carnival and will certainly sail with them again, but I wish I could hijack this wonderful crew and sail with them on a different vessel. Still this was a relaxing cruise, and, despite the Grand Turk mix up, the vast majority of guests seemed to be having a great time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Remember the end of the 1985 movie Cocoon when all the rejuvenated elderly folks went with the aliens to their world where people never get ill, age or die? Well, they're back with a vengeance and I think I know where -â€" ... Read More
Remember the end of the 1985 movie Cocoon when all the rejuvenated elderly folks went with the aliens to their world where people never get ill, age or die? Well, they're back with a vengeance and I think I know where -â€" Royal Caribbean's cruise ship, The Navigator of the Seas. It all started with an innocuous email in my inbox way back in April -â€" an announcement that Royal Caribbean had made a sudden decision to reposition one of its ships (originally meant to winter in and around Dubai) from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean. This meant an entirely empty ship desperate for passengers with prices to match. Sitting there in my office, swamped with work, the prospect of quitting my job to travel the world looming large -â€" suddenly the idea of spending days on end doing nothing but staring at the big blue sea, without a care in the world while traversing the Atlantic, book in one hand, a shrimp cocktail in the other, was wildly intoxicating. And since I would already be in the general vicinity at the time of sailing, the rock bottom pricing was impossible to refuse. For those who have never cruised before, a cruise vacation is somewhat like having a floating hotel, ferrying you to various ports-of-call to enjoy during the day, while filling up your nights with gourmet meals and slightly cheesy entertainment. In some ways, the ship is even a destination in itself with shops, bars, casinos, specialty restaurants and in the case of the Navigator, a rock climbing wall and an ice rink. So it was that I found myself boarding the ship in Rome along with about 3,000 other cruisers, with stops in Livorno (Italy), Provence (France), Barcelona and the seaside town of Cartegena (Spain) and the archipelago islands of the Azores (Portugal). Days were spent taking excursions to Pisa (the tower was much prettier and whiter than I had imagined. Warning: Shameful confession ahead... This was one stop where I did the tourist thing I usually despise and took the requisite picture of me propping the tower up. Sad, I know, but how can you not, right?), Florence (a shopper's paradise with high end artisan shops specializing in the most beautiful leather and paper products), San Gimignano (a medieval walled Tuscan town famed for its soaring towers), Aix-en-Provence (birthplace of Paul Cezanne, home to a delightful farmer's market) and Marseille with its picturesque old harbor... The sailing reached an exciting climax early on when we found ourselves in the middle of a weather phenomenon known as a medicane, a Mediterranean hurricane, with sustained winds in excess of 90 mph, forcing the ship to stay in port for an extra day in France and foregoing the stop in Portugal. The ship rocked back and forth so much that passengers looked like people badly failing a drunk driving test trying to walk in a straight line... Something else I was apprehensive about was what to do on those 9 long days at sea. Turns out I shouldn't have worried as every day was a race from one activity to another, including highly competitive trivia three times a day ("What is the literary collective noun for a group of owls?") fighting tooth and nail for cheap Royal Caribbean promotional umbrellas and caps (if bought in the gift shop = useless junk. However, same items won in a trivia game? priceless heirlooms), crew vs. guest volleyball and line dancing by the pool deck. You haven't lived until you've seen 60 seniors doing the Electric Slide... Aaaaaaand grapevine! From my very unscientific data gathering, the typical transatlantic cruiser would seem to be comfortably retired, about 68 years old and possessing a propensity towards enormous buffets. It doesn't help that there's in essence a buffet 3 times a day, with options of ordering however much you want from a menu in the dining room ("Actually, I WILL have three appetizers, thank you for asking!") to a casual buffet restaurant with at least 50-60 meal options, from miso soup to roast turkey to pizza and burgers and everything in between. Free food + non-stop food = an average weight gain of 2lbs per day (lunch literally starts half an hour after breakfast finishes, meaning it was physically impossible to feel any type of hunger for two solid weeks). The first few days, I found myself running around wanting to try everything (and feeling faint afterwards. Fried hashbrowns AND sauteed potatoes for breakfast? I'm talking Sophie's Choice here). Sure, there are "healthy" options of salmon, grilled chicken breast, steamed vegetables, etc., but where's the fun in that? I was finally home! I had found... "my people". All kidding aside, I found myself bonding with really nice people over trivia (shout out to teammates Efren and Maria!), the odd Scrabble game in the card room overrun by old Chinese ladies playing Mahjong much to the chagrin of the Balderdash / cribbage players ("They really need to have a separate room for those noisy games!") and really long dinners. The dining room table dynamic on a cruise ship is a strange one. Put ten people from differing socio-economic classes together every night for at least an hour and a half for 14 dinners (if you're counting, that's 21 hours of conversation...) and mundane dialogue centering on past cruising experiences imperceptibly move on to deep dark family secrets, youthful indiscretions and embarrassing stories. Perhaps it's the thought that you'll never see these people ever again? Or the camaraderie that comes from being on the same vessel in the middle of the ocean? In any case, scintillating... Evenings were filled with shows ranging from the ship's own singers and dancers to specialty acts brought on at various ports to perform magic, hypnosis, comedy, acrobatics, Motown, piano playing and more. While cruise ship entertainment leans towards the cheesy (hence all the Simon Cowell references), I found the few shows I did go to mildly-to-rather entertaining. There were even ice skaters admirably performing jumps and spins in the small but very popular ice rink onboard. If you've ever exclaimed, "I wish there were more hours in a day!", then a transatlantic cruise is for you. To make up the time difference, an extra hour is added on select sea days, meaning you could go to that 11pm karaoke competition or poolside buffet under the stars and still get your beauty rest. Overall, the cruise was a great chance to decompress, do nothing & everything and travel in style back to North America. Oh, and by the way, a group of owls is a "parliament". Just send me a Royal Caribbean key chain when you end up winning the trivia... Travel tips: (1) I first heard of this deal through Travel Zoo, a great weekly e-newsletter that scours thousands of deals to produce a list of the Top 20 travel values of the week. While you may rarely be able to take advantage of the deals, it's worth signing up because you never know when something might come along. Besides, it's fun to see what kind of deals are out there. Before seeing the email, taking a cruise wasn't even on my radar. But I'm glad I did. I ended up paying a base fare of $499 (for a total of $890 including a single supplement and all taxes). I also got $100 shipboard credit which I applied towards the gratuities and a $60 dinner for two in one of the ship's specialty restaurants. All said and done, the cruise averaged just slightly over $60 / day for accommodation, all meals and entertainment onboard. I also used 20,000 fewer frequent flyer miles for my around-the-world ticket which made the deal too good to pass up. (2) I found Cruise Critic's roll call a really helpful resource. This particular group was forum-happy, creating a total of 3,400+ posts, of which only about 1 in 20 were relatively useful. The rest was evenly divided between non-cruise items such as the weather where they lived, relating makeups and breakups, medical conditions and past sailings with arranging cabin viewings, gift exchanges, slot pulls and trivia groups. However, it was great for finding people to fill a group for privately arranged tours. The tours I went on in Italy and France were both arranged by motivated people on the cruisecritic forum and turned out to be cheaper / better organized / more efficient than the ship's tours. (3) There were three specialty restaurants on board. Portofino ($20 surcharge), a great Italian restaurant, serving up a delicious giant shrimp risotto, succulent seafood skewer of scallops, shrimp, lobster with a raspberry tiramisu served with a shot glass of heavenly kahlua topped with cream. I also had Johnny Rockets (old-fashioned diner food, $4.95 surcharge which includes gratuities but not drinks) one afternoon, ostensibly for a snack. However, bottomless onion rings / fries, classic hamburger with all the fixings, and chicken tenders, turned out to be a lot of food! Don't forget to indulge in the chocolate sundae afterwards. (4) Getting to the cruise terminal in Civitavecchia was very easy to do on your own. Tickets can be bought on the day of travel at Termini via vending machine. My advice would be to pay the extra 2.50 euros and go with a first class ticket. Seats are plusher and there is room to keep your luggage with you, as opposed to fighting for a seat in 2nd class. Just note that Italian trains are notoriously late, so leave yourself plenty of time. When arriving in Civitavecchia, you'll need to schlep your luggage down and up one flight of stairs and walk about 7 minutes to the entrance of the port where a dedicated shuttle bus takes you the rest of the way to the ship. (5) Barcelona is eminently easy to do on your own. Forego the ship's $10 transfer and take the blue city bus all the way to La Rambla. The subway system is very easy to use, taking you to almost all the major stops at only 6.20 euro for the day. If you haven't been there, arrange to get to the Sagrada Familia in the afternoon when the around-the-block lines die down. You won't regret the relatively steep entrance fee to see this one of a kind building that's everything a cathedral isn't supposed to be. Did you enjoy this review? If so, check out my travel blog as I travel around the world, passing along helpful tips along the way. www.dreamtravelblog.wordpress.com Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
we embarked on our cruise on 30th October 2011 from Southampton, the embarkation procedure took quite a long time but I guess we just arrived at a busy time, we had flown down to Gatwick and were met by a rep who showed us to a mini bus ... Read More
we embarked on our cruise on 30th October 2011 from Southampton, the embarkation procedure took quite a long time but I guess we just arrived at a busy time, we had flown down to Gatwick and were met by a rep who showed us to a mini bus and taken to the ship, our luggage was taken to the cabin. Once on board we found our way to the cabin, excellent, could not fault anything our cabin boy was Martin who quickly found us and explained who he was and if we needed anything he was there. The ship is absolutely first class, spotless in all areas, cannot find fault with anything even the glass lifts (elevators) not a finger print anywhere. You could always find a comfortable place to sit. The weather was not so good and the captain had to change course, we were kept informed at all times. we did not get to the Azores but better to be safe than sorry, we did however visit Gijon in Northern Spain a very pretty town and La Coruna which was within walking distance off the ship.We did not do any organised trips just made our own way to the towns and wandered around. We opted for first sitting in the Moonlight Sonata restauant and shared our table with 4 very nice friendly Americans, the ship was 90% American people who we found to be extremely nice. The food was always excellent a good choice avaliable and if you wanted something not on the menu (as one by us did) they were always accomodated. The waiters were great very friendly and efficient at all times. The wine waiter very good and kept the glasses filled up, we were on the premium package which made a big difference to us in that we could have almost any priced wines. The entertainment was first class and we always managed to find suitable seats with a good view in the theatre. The daytime activities were plentiful, my husband attende the lectures and thouroughly enjoyed them very interesting and informative. I attended the cookery demonstrations they were great fun especially the chef from Hungary, hilarious, you could not be bored on this ship. As we went further west the weather improved and we were able to sit outside on the decks, again spotless and plenty of space. The range of food available was tremendous the mast grill doing burgers and hot dogs was busy but really good. The Ocean view cafe was always busy and the only trouble was finding a space and keeping it so we usually went up for our food seperatly a bind at times but ok. The ice cream counter was usually 15 deep but worth waitng for ( the Americans really loved the ice cream. When we came to disembark we had to place our luggage outside the room the night before and we were given a time and place to go to our time was 9.00am, but as we were going to America I think the port authorities obviously do more checks as the crew had to go though a drill and this then held up our disembarkation, we were lucky in that we gor called off at 10.15am our luggage was waiting for us and we sailed through the US checks, outside the port we were shown to the bus and more or less taken to our hotel and arrived by 11.15am. I cannot recommend Celebrity X highly enough especially Eclipse Crew and Officers. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
If you are expecting poor service , bland food , a party atmosphere , "push those drinks" , neon light Vegas decor and terrible entertainment then you are going to be greatly disappointed if you sail on the magnificent Queen ... Read More
If you are expecting poor service , bland food , a party atmosphere , "push those drinks" , neon light Vegas decor and terrible entertainment then you are going to be greatly disappointed if you sail on the magnificent Queen Mary 2. First of all you should be aware that this is not a cruise .. this is an experience . We were fortunate to enjoy this during our 7 day Eastward and return 7 day Westward return voyage between NYC and Southampton . Embarkation in NYC was a breeze .By far the easiest one we have experienced during our many other sailings . Southampton took a little longer and was more involved but was on a par with others we have had . Disembarking at both ports was efficient , quick and well organized . In NYC we used the Cunard Bus facilities to get to JFK Airport. This was cost effective, comfortable and hassle-free. * A hint - we brought a large bottle of rum and ample mix with us on our carry on and there was no problem even with it in plain sight . The ship was wonderful . Service - All staff would greet you as you met. The waiters , cabin stewarts were friendly , efficient and professional in every way . In all our dealings with shop keepers, purser office , internet office , pool attendents etc. we were treated extremely well . Food - Unlike some other ships , the Queen Mary 2 food can be best described as Fine Dining .Quantities are small , quality is excellent ... just like dining at a five star restaurant . If you want more quantity just do like we did once and awhile - order 2 delicious appetizers . The food in the Kings Court (Lido Deck ) is typical buffet style fare. We usually ate breakfast there so we could get an early start to the day We also went to the Specialty Restaurants - Todd English , Lotus / Chef's Gallery(where you watch the chef prepare your meal )and the specialty Italian restaurant . Todd English was nice but the Lotus and the Italian Restaurants were wonderful - well worth the extra $10 per person ( We went 4 times ) Entertainment - Excellent . The singers/ dancers were extremely good . The costumes were some of the best we have seen and the energy night after night was exhausting to watch . Oh to be that young again ! There were live plays , broadway shows , big band nights , comics, and many outstanding lectures by knowledgeable speakers . Our days were filled with dance lessons, high tea , movies( even in 3D) , spectacular documentaries in the Planetarium , Trivia contests and restful days by the roof covered hot tub and pool . Our nights were filled with fine dining , and dancing the hours away to the sounds of a full piece orchestra on the largest ocean going dance floor. There theme nights that included a salute to Glenn Miller , The Dorsey's , Black and White Ball , Masquerade Ball, Ascot Ball that added to the fun . Stateroom - Our agent advised us that because the ship is fast the balconies can be windy , and there is nothing but water to see for days anyway , so the best selection is an obstructed view balcony . What an excellent choice . They were right . We were able to have ample light and fresh air in our stateroom , sit out on the balcony in comfort and the price vs a standard balcony was less. The stateroom was the largest we have had and beautifully decorated . The large fridge was appreciated. The bathroom was more than adequate and there was lots of storage space . * A hint - bring some extra hangers for all the extra evening wear . Dress Code -During our 14 days at sea we had 10 formal nights . Now to some that may seem too many but too most others - what a pleasure to be elegant and classy . We particularly liked the directive that was enforced by Cunard .. if you did not meet the nightly dress code , you were not allowed in the dining room and were advised to dine at the Kings Court or other dining locations. No hassles as every knew this . Unlike other ships we have been on ... there were no passengers that chose to defy this known fact and showed up in jeans and a tea shirt for dinner --- and were allowed in . We were celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary and my wife's birthday and Cunard added to the events with 4 cakes / free champagne and waiters entertaining us in song .We were even allowed to bring our complimentary bottle of Champagne to the dining room to help celebrate the occasion- no corking fee. We could go on and on about OUR opinion of QM2 and all .But you MUST experience her yourself . In conclusion , prior to any holiday , we use many sources to select Cruises , hotels etc. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, there are always those that are never satisfied and will find fault with everything . We see the reviews of THOSE people about the QM2 and we pity them on going thru life this way . Nothing is ever perfect and seasoned travellers know this . However , the experience on the magnificent Queen Mary 2 is as close as you will find to being just so. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
The transfer bought from Celebrity from Rome to the port is not worth the money. Celebrity's buses were at a hotel way out of the city of Rome, so by the time you take a taxi to this hotel for their bus, sit around waiting for the ... Read More
The transfer bought from Celebrity from Rome to the port is not worth the money. Celebrity's buses were at a hotel way out of the city of Rome, so by the time you take a taxi to this hotel for their bus, sit around waiting for the bus to leave, it would have been much cheaper for two people to hire a private car shuttle and get there in half the cost and half the time. The Silhouette ship is the most beautifully decorated I have ever seen. And the embarkation process was as smooth as silk. However... This is my 16th cruise, and 7th with Celebrity. Over the years I have learned to love cruising with Celebrity for three reasons: 1) The indoor heated pool on the Millennium class ships, 2) The wonderful Friends of Dorothy gatherings, and 3) The superb dining. Well, Celebrity on the Solstice class ships such as the Silhouette have managed to eliminate all three reasons why I loved Celebrity. First, the indoor pool is no longer heated to a comfortable temperature. Not only that - on our cruise from Rome to Bayonne New Jersey, half the time the pool had a net over it, or there was no water at all in the pool. As to the Friends of Dorothy gatherings - Celebrity decided to have it at the Martini Bar, which is the busiest and most scattered bar of the entire ship, so nobody could find anyone among the crowd gathered there. It is like trying to meet up with someone for the first time at New York's Grand Central Train Station at rush hour. Last, and the saddest of all, the dining: I remember the days when the Celebrity waiter would offer fresh pepper for each course, and scrape away the crumbs at the end of the main course. No longer. You neither get the offer of fresh pepper nor the clearing of crumbs. In fact, our single waiter and his assistant had to serve 14 passengers. The worst decision Celebrity made was to place tables merely 1 or 2 inches away from each other. I had requested a table for two, and our table was inches away from the next. The end result was like eating in a canteen, where the waiter had to throw dishes at you from left, right, behind you or even reaching from across the table. If you read the wonderful description of Celebrity's website on their new Silhouette - each feature they highlight requires an additional fee, which is not mentioned. As to the Cruise Port of Bayonne New Jersey where the Silhouette docked at the end of its journey, the terminal is clearly not equipped to handle a ship the size of the Silhouette. When we arrived, it took hours for the luggage and passengers to get off - many hours after the scheduled arrival, and causing many passengers to miss their flight. Some friends of mine didn't get off till 12:30 PM, as the next passengers were already getting on board. (On my travel summary from Celebrity, the scheduled arrival time is 3 AM.) To describe how ill-equipped the "cruise port" is - here is the procedure for the luggage: small cages of luggage were first one by one off-loaded onto the dock. Then the cages were lifted two by two by forklifts onto a truck. Then the truck had to driven the luggage cages to the cruise terminal, where each cage had to be lifted off the truck and then the luggage had to be taken out of each cage to be made available for the passengers to pick up. This of course took hours. Think of 2,886 passengers with at least 2,886 pieces of luggage. There were only two trucks at a time being loaded. The procedure for passengers were no less cumbersome: even when we were told we could get off, we had to stand for half an hour on the stairs and exit, waiting to get off the ship. After we got off the ship and got onto buses which had to transport all the passengers to the terminal, we sat on the bus for another 10 minutes because the terminal could not accommodate beyond a certain number of passengers. The entire disembarkation process took hours. Bayonne New Jersey as a cruise port is definitely not ready or prime time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
On reaching the port in Brooklyn our bags were taken from us and arrived before us in the cabin. Embarkment was smooth and easy. Our cabin was spacious and well equipped and the sheltered balcony meant that we were able to film the gale ... Read More
On reaching the port in Brooklyn our bags were taken from us and arrived before us in the cabin. Embarkment was smooth and easy. Our cabin was spacious and well equipped and the sheltered balcony meant that we were able to film the gale force 9 storm that the ship was trying to out-run - fantastic stuff! Never felt afraid once just enjoyed the whole experience. The ship was just as described, elegant and first class. Staff were friendly, helpful and mostly cheerful (having witnessed first hand some of what they have to put up with from guests, this can be really difficult). The food in the Britannia was excellent and always served with professionalism and a smile. The buffet option however was another matter. It was confusing finding all the options available and even harder then to find a table. The afternoon teas were better than at the Ritz in London! Facilities were good and the talks by Murray Walker were great. The music and dancing in the Queens Room was excellent, but the shows were not great and I have seen better. The only real negative was the prices charged at the Canyon Reach Spa. My husband booked me a facial as a surprise and being a man didn't really check the price. The facial it's self was good but the hard selling afterwards spoilt it for me as did the price when I found out that we had been charged $389!! There were several other women who were also complaining. I also wasn't offered use of the day spa as I should have done. To sum up, the cruise was fabulous and Cunard have it pitched just right for those who want a stylish elegant cruise. Would I do it again - definately but without the facial!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
I think a cruise is really what you make of it, and even though some things were not perfect, I loved the trip and have already booked on the 2012 Westbound TA. The ship was new and clean and shiney, and nothing broken or worn. My ... Read More
I think a cruise is really what you make of it, and even though some things were not perfect, I loved the trip and have already booked on the 2012 Westbound TA. The ship was new and clean and shiney, and nothing broken or worn. My cabin seemed very large - i could dance in it and the 3 deep drawers under the TV help all my non-hanging clothes. Lots of hangers in the closet. The tap over the bathroom sink needs a longer spout - you need to turn it on full, otherwise it actually dribbles down the outside of the basin and onto the bench. Very nice bathroom otherwise. No clothesline in the shower :( The heart of the ship is the 12-deck high Atrium lobby with the 8 glass elevators. Thankyou to the couple I saw dry-humping in one of the elevators... that is burned onto my retina's. Lots of beautiful lounges - something for every taste and volume level. The Martini Bar seats 34 people and is standing room only before dinner and after the shows, but if you get there in-between it's deserted and you get a good seat. Nightly dance bands played very loudly down in the Lobby, so you could not talk very easily at the martini bar, but if you just wanted to sit with your drink and listen to the music and watch people dancing, that's fine. Quasar - the nightclub, was always empty. Bistro on 5 had great staff who always remembered which coffee, juice and crepes I liked for breakfast. Oceanview Buffet was often crowded, but the food was good. VERY grumpy Pizza guy and sad face pasta guy - what was that about?? Lawn Club Grill is fantastic - the staff were thrilled if you accepted their invitations to get up and help prepare food. The Fillet Mignon and the Lobster macaroni Cheese there were amazing. Do bring a sweater or jacket though - it's quite breezy there, even with the heaters on. The Hideaway was my favourite place. Lots of odd recesses to climb into and hide with your diary, iPod or a good book, while enjoying their coffee and getting all the natural light coming down from the atrium. Often people had afternoon naps there, while the pianist played down in the lobby. Also, an amazing selection of Teas served at Cafe Albacchio - either hot or iced. Ensemble Lounge is a very dark jazz lounge, shared by most of the speciality restaurants. Nice place to have an affair... Q'sine... HMM glad i tried it, but would not go again. Staff were great, and the food was very good, but SO much of it, and you kinda had to play with it to eat it. Sucking ice pea soup out of a chemistry set with a straw... Just not my idea of a dinner. The main dining room - things to really be warned about... If you go Select, you will be tucked away on the upper level. Only the Set dining people get the main level where all the action is. Also, if you go select and you don't pre-book, you will almost never get a window table. The longest we had to queue was 5 minutes, but they have a line for those with reservations and another line for the walk-ins and you just felt a little "naughty" if you had not reserved. The dining room was quite dark, hard to read the menus and the food was nice, but nothing spectacular. Gym was light, and well equipped. At 6am sharp all the treadmills were occupied. Note - the funnels do smoke alot, and we heard there was the smell of engine smoke from the aft balconys. Unlike the Gas turbine M class, this ship has four V16 Diesels. And with the two funnels always floodlit at night, we would go up to the lawn and see them absolutely pouring smoke. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My wife and I joined the Nieuw Amsterdam in Venice for a Collectors Cruise, 11 days cruising the Eastern Mediterranean followed by a 17 day cruise that started in Venice and terminated in Fort Lauderdale. We had a Balcony Stateroom on the ... Read More
My wife and I joined the Nieuw Amsterdam in Venice for a Collectors Cruise, 11 days cruising the Eastern Mediterranean followed by a 17 day cruise that started in Venice and terminated in Fort Lauderdale. We had a Balcony Stateroom on the 8th level which was small but comfortable and were looked after by very friendly cabin stewards. The first thing that struck us when we boarded was the average age of the passengers, with more over 70 than under 60. At 55 I felt like one of the kids but this didn't bother us as we like things pretty quiet. The first 11 days went very smoothly with calm seas, light winds and warm days. The ports of call were of great interest to my wife and I as we don't get to see any old ruins in Australia and the excavated sites at Ephesus, Delos and Olympia were simply amazing. On the day that the first cruise ended we spent the day in Venice. The city is very interesting but spoiled by the attitude of the locals who on the most part were rude and very anti tourist, a bit strange when almost the entire city survives on tourism. When we boarded the ship for the second half of our cruise we were in for quite a shock. We went straight to the Lido Deck to have a coffee and were confronted by what looked like a school canteen after a food fight. The staff were doing their best to straighten the place up but were fighting a losing battle. While the passengers on the first half of the cruise were mostly well spoken and polite the passengers that boarded for the second half of our cruise and the Atlantic crossing seemed very different. For a start the average weight of the passengers went up by at least 50lb with many unable to fit into the very generous dining chairs. One lady came on board with her pet dog which she allowed to eat from the dining table. One "lady" stood behind me while I was eating and broke wind driving my wife and I out of the Lido, very classy. The attitude of some of the passengers to the staff was disgusting yet the staff took it in their stride. We did strike a hurricane in the Atlantic but compared to the conduct of some of the passengers it was easy to handle. Unfortunately for the second half of the cruise, 17 days, we were unable to use our balcony due to having a chain smoking cigar smoker in the cabin next to ours. We did complain to the front office but they said he was allowed to puff on his cigars for 24 hours a day and they would move us to another cabin if one became available. At least 2 cabins did become available when 2 gentlemen were sent ashore for medical reasons but we were not offered their cabins. The Captain also stated the ship was at 100 passengers below capacity so it would appear the offer to move us was not genuine. Overall we did enjoy the cruise but we will not be cruising with Holland America again until they change their smoking policy and we would never consider another relocation cruise no matter how cheap it is. From Fort Lauderdale we drove to Orlando for 4 days at Disney World where our faith in the American people was restored. In 4 days we never struck one obnoxious person, most being more polite than the average Australian. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
I have just joined Cruise Critic on the recommendation of one of the passengers ( ??? on the treadmill. Hi Annette) on this years trip. I have to echo the opinions of CLEMENTJR with respect to cost cutting, food and service. We had ... Read More
I have just joined Cruise Critic on the recommendation of one of the passengers ( ??? on the treadmill. Hi Annette) on this years trip. I have to echo the opinions of CLEMENTJR with respect to cost cutting, food and service. We had sailed on the Sun last year from Dover to Port Canaveral in a balcony cabin on deck 8 aft and really enjoyed the trip. While on that trip we were told that the ship was going for a refit in January 2011. There were signs that the ship was showing it's age like old style tube TVs and the odd stain and faded curtains here and there. With this in mind we decided to repeat the trip this year. Due to various family commitments we weren't able to book a balcony and settled for an outside cabin in deck 7 forward. There was a minor glitch on embarking at Copenhagen when the server died and all the check-in terminals went down, but hey ho that's computers. When we got to our cabin my wife was putting the toiletries in the bathroom when she remarked how dirty it was and that 'she didn't leave a clean house to come to a dirty cabin'. On further examination she then found price tags and hairs in the drawers. With that a swab of the shelves in the bathroom was taken and off to reception to complain. They were reluctant to accept our 'sample' but later an officer did come to the cabin to inspect it for himself. He then said he would have the cabin 'deep cleaned'. The subsequent knock on from this was a very surly cabin steward who refused to speak to us for the rest of the voyage. His loss. We couldn't see any signs of a refit in the cabin. The same old TVs, The mirror in the bathroom was tarnished for an inch and a half on the full bottom width, the carpet was worn through to the backing in places and the pull-out looked positively disgusting with stains. It's a very noisy cabin at docking time. My last Norwegian voyage I think. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We wanted something special and that's just what we got. Oriana is a splendai ship, if a liitle dated in places. But let's start at the begining:- Check-in and embarkation went without a hitch, you must remember this is all new ... Read More
We wanted something special and that's just what we got. Oriana is a splendai ship, if a liitle dated in places. But let's start at the begining:- Check-in and embarkation went without a hitch, you must remember this is all new to us. ( no airports ) Once on board we quickly found our room, sorry Cabin and two minutes later our cabin steward ( James )came to greet us and welcome us aboard. Our luggage arrived shortly after that although two items were missing. These arrived just as we were going to dinner. We left Southampton at 16:30 sailing into the night. Our first night on board was something quite different to what we have had in the past. Dinner was casual as we hadn't had time to unpack everthing. The Head Waiter met us at the door to the Oriental Restaurant and showed us to our table for two. Two waiters then came and introduced themselves, Vincent and Francisco. A better two waiters you would be hard pressed to find. Nothing was too much trouble for them, they looked after us for the whole 34 nights. A mention also for our Wine steward Roshan, he well knew his trade offering us all the special offers for the evening but never pushing a particular wine. If we didn't like his recommendation it was swifty removed and another choice was given. No question asked. We did try the Conservatory on a couple of evenings but were disappointed with the menu. So we stuck to the Oriental. The Conservatory was fine for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea and we even had Francisco in there waiting on. The entertainment in the evening was pretty good with a couple of fairly well know 'stars' Jimmy James ( who we somehow missed ) was apparently very good. Roy Walker did two shows, we went to the first and were pleasantly surprised at how good it was, his second was a complete let down, as he relied on other peoples jokes from 40yrs ago. The in-house entertainment were very good and tried very hard but I would say the 'Host/Compere' was something from the Butlins 1960s era and too full of himself. The service in the bars was second to none especially in Andersons, our regular after dinner spot. Thanks to two superb bar stewards, Ramir and Patrick who kept us amused with tales of their families in Manilla. By the last week of the cruise they were both searching the ships bars for the last of Scapa malt whisky. I think I finished it all. Brilliant. The trips we did at the different ports of call left a lot to be desired, and with hindsight we would have been better off arranging these ourselves. P&O were overpriced and rushed. The only ones we did think were good were Cozumel and The Kennedy Space Centre. All in all it was a great adventure but Oriana does need sprucing up. She is in Dry dock now for a refit so lets hope it improves her. The crew and staff were excellent from the top to the bottom and they all deserved what gratuities we left. Would we cruise again : Probably but not for as long. Would we use Oriana : Yes FYI. Places we visited: Madeira, St Marrten, Tortola, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, New Orleans, Key West, Miami, Port Everglades, Charleston and Ponta Delgada Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Embarkation. We boarded at The Ocean Terminal for the first time and found it to be excellent. The process of handing over the car the luggage and proceeding through check in and onto the ship was pretty well seamless. Arrived at terminal ... Read More
Embarkation. We boarded at The Ocean Terminal for the first time and found it to be excellent. The process of handing over the car the luggage and proceeding through check in and onto the ship was pretty well seamless. Arrived at terminal at about 11.15am and were on board by just after 12.30pm. I would have rated the process 5 but for the fact that there were about 400 Portunis Gold Club members, who, quite rightly had priority but given the numbers it took quite a while to process them. Service. We found to be excellent throughout the cruise and we were very well looked after by all the staff but particularly by our waiters Sebastian and Ajay on table 116 in the Meridian Lower Tier and by Loretta the chief bar keeper in the wonderful Rising Sun Pub. As mentioned in the cabin section our steward was first class. Food. On the whole was very good, as ever on P&O well presented and served. One or two issues with the Belvedere self service restaurant, probably the worst self serve out of Arcadia, Ventura and Oriana. In saying that my comments relate to breakfast and lunch, dining in the evening was good. The curry nights particularly were of a high standard. The two speciality restaurants are fabulous and well worth the cover charge, I am just sorry Gary Rhodes franchise is coming to an end. However, I am sure Marco Pierre White will do a fine job. Really we would love to see freedom dining across the fleet, I don't think you can get away from the fact that first sitting is too early and second is too late. Sitting at the same table with the same people at the same time is really quite low on our cruise wish list.Ports and excursions. The itinerary was superb and all the ports had something good to offer. New York was an undoubted highlight but they were all good. The excursions were varied interesting and reasonably priced. Particularly good was the JFK museum and library in Boston, the trip to Kennebunkport from Portland Maine,and, the Titanic experience in Halifax Nova Scotia. Entertainment. Absolutely the best on any cruise we have been on. The Cruise Director Tracy Clegg and her team (and a team is just what they were) gave their all. I have never known an entertainments team work so hard and so well. From Arcadia's version of Strictly Come Dancing to Quizzes and the ships own version of loose women called 'Loose lips' it was all fantastic. Our wonderful dance instructors Alan and Ginny Newman were lovely people, so kind and patient and they made learning to dance such fun. On the formal side Sam Kane, Brian Conley and the wonderful voice of Eve Sherratt were exactly what they are stars. I did hear a not of complaining the morning after one show, a comedian, and, I have seen something in a review on this site. However, cannot comment as were attended the dancing that evening. We both found the lecture programme varied and interesting, in fact some topics I would have not expected to be interesting turned out to be very good. Summary. Absolutely fantastic we loved it and will certainly never forget the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We had a 39 day cruise around the British Isle, across the Atlantic by way of Iceland, Greenland, New York and up into Quebec City during August and September 2011. There were many good things I liked and equaly as many things I ... Read More
We had a 39 day cruise around the British Isle, across the Atlantic by way of Iceland, Greenland, New York and up into Quebec City during August and September 2011. There were many good things I liked and equaly as many things I didn't like. We had our grand daughter with us and she was enrolled in the kids program and it was fantastic. The crew that worked in it were excellent.!! The crew in general were exceptional, very polite,helpful and went out of their way to help the passengers and make the excursion more enjoyable. The Captain was a real person person, a very nice pleasent man who worked hard to make the passengers as comfortable as was possible under all conditions. The negative things were mostly with food selection and preparation and the entertainment. As for the food, the fish was always overcooked and rather blah. The selection of vegetables did not vary much and the red meats were really quite tastless. To get a real meal we enjoyed the Steak House a few times.There always seemed to me to have a way to many pasta dishes. To me pasta is pasta no matter what you call it or how you dress it up. As for the entertainment, it was not high class. If you've seen the Princess singers and dancers once , thats enough. The bands in the different bars were great but their repertoire was limited. The one thing that made swimming rather uncomfortable was that both pools were exposed to the weather- no cover in cold weather. The washers and dryers are JUNK and are not at all efficient and should be replaced. The above opinions are only mine and are based on about 8 other Princess ships. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We went on this cruise with a very open mind after seeing it featured on Watchdog and reading many bad reviews. We took hope in the fact that the ship was going into dry dock for repairs and "refurbishment". How wrong we were!!! ... Read More
We went on this cruise with a very open mind after seeing it featured on Watchdog and reading many bad reviews. We took hope in the fact that the ship was going into dry dock for repairs and "refurbishment". How wrong we were!!! This was an absolute nightmare of an holiday,if ever a ship was wrongly named then this has got to take first place. The corridors stink and the carpets are filthy and threadbare. The walls are covered in big black marks were pictures have been hung and are no longer there. The lifts, (when working) stink and are of an hiddly piddly nature, you can go so far in one lift then have to get out walk to either the front or back of the ship to get another lift to continue your journey. Why don't you just walk up or down the strairs to get to where you want to go I hear you ask?? Because more often than not, the stairs are fenced off and you aren't allowed to walk down them. The aircon did not work in either the cabin or throughout the ship. Cabins of a good size but the bathroom dated and dirty, the bath comes complete with a permanent black scum mark all around it. Drawers extremely difficult to open. Work constantly being done whilst passengers are trying to eat. People allowed to smoke next to uncovered food causing smoke to taint food. Hygiene standards not maintained with regards to hand cleaning. I could go on and on but I would be here all day. This ship was not sorted whilst in dry dock, resulting in so many delays reaching our destinations. Until we actually left Madeira for the transatlantic crossing we were unsure if we would actually sail. The ship was sailing on one engine and limped to our destinations in Europe causing cancellations to excursions. There is a constant shuddering which can be felt throughout the ship, even lay in bed you can feel it through your pillow. I strongly advise anyone due to travel on this ship to think again and look to transferring to another ship. We have cruised with Thomson's previously and not experienced anything like this. I would never go on this ship again Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
"Pacific Princess" Mediterranean and Transatlantic Cruise 23 November to 22 December 2010 We know the "R" ships well, having sailed on Insignia, Journey and Quest, and we like the size and design. We were ... Read More
"Pacific Princess" Mediterranean and Transatlantic Cruise 23 November to 22 December 2010 We know the "R" ships well, having sailed on Insignia, Journey and Quest, and we like the size and design. We were not disappointed with Pacific Princess, the library had been left as a library, with a good selection of books, and somewhere quiet to go for a read, and plenty of space in the other public areas. The itinerary was : Athens, Santorini, Patmos, Kusadasi, Haifa, Ashdod, Port Said, Sorrento, Civittavechia, Livorno, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Ceuta, Casablanca, Ponta Delgada, Bermuda, Fort Lauderdale. Rather than write a travelogue, I thought I would mention the high and low points of this trip, so here goes...... High Points: The main dining room was excellent, first class staff and the food of an unfailingly high quality. So good we did not venture to the specialist diners! Cabin service was also exemplary, from the routine through to specialised when I went down with the dreaded tummy bug. Medical services were also top rate. The Cruise Director, Sammi, and her staff we also good, organising and participating in many activities to keep us all amused. The resident entertainers, mainly young Australians, did an excellent job. Kusadasi and Ephesus - we booked a private tour with Ekol travel, truly wonderful! Guide and Driver were brilliant, we were able to wander through the site and the terraces at our own speed, so we really enjoyed the day. The design of the viewing platforms inside the Terraces site was superb, and our guide knew all the best vantage points from which to take pictures. Alexandria - Four of us took a taxi to the Library, which is stunning! We went downstairs to a variety of other demonstrations and exhibits, and explored the Museum of Antiquities Civittavechia and Tarquinia - Short rail trip North to Tarquinia, a walled town. Shuttle bus from the station to the Town gate, and a very unspoilt place for a gentle Sunday stroll. Livorno, Pisa, Lucca and Florence - we were lucky enough to hook up with a party using "RomeinLimo" for this trip, and again it was wonderful. Ponta Delgada, Azores - What a delightful surprise this Island is! We went walkabout on our own, and took advantage of the local tourist board staff who provided us with maps and advice as soon as we had disembarked. We speak no Portuguese, but the friendliness and courtesy of the local people made us feel very welcome. Low Points: We used a Princess organised tour to go to Jerusalem - mistake, it was poor! We saw very little, we seemed to hang around for long periods doing nothing, and the Guide was not good. The Internet service was appalling, expensive and slow. As an ex professional in that field I know it could, and should, have been better. Finally, the Front Desk staff, specially trained to pat you on the head (metaphorically!) and send you away without doing anything other than the simplest of tasks. For example, we were delayed by bad weather between Bermuda and Fort Lauderdale, and it was obvious that most of us would have to rearrange our onward travel. Whilst I accept that there is limited capacity on the ship - to - shore phone, that capacity could have been better utilised had accurate information been forthcoming. It took me five visits to the Desk and four hours of frustration before I was given the correct phone number for my airline. Further, it is now over four weeks since we landed and I am still, despite repeated requests, awaiting a copy of my final account. The disembarkation was also poor; the need to get us off the ship quickly sometimes overwhelming both front desk the shore side organisation. We did manage to get to Texas to stay with our family and spent a wonderful Christmas and New Year with them, and we are now back in the UK planning the next trip, though it will not be with Princess...... Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We've just come back from a transatlantic repositioning cruise to the Caribbean on Fred Olsen's Braemar. We are fast becoming seasoned cruisers and, having done this cruise with P&O two years ago, can make valid comments ... Read More
We've just come back from a transatlantic repositioning cruise to the Caribbean on Fred Olsen's Braemar. We are fast becoming seasoned cruisers and, having done this cruise with P&O two years ago, can make valid comments comparisons. Overall Fred Olsen is really very good - a bit of thought to some minor niggles and it could be excellent. We had an outside cabin on deck 2 that was kept spotless by our hardworking cabin girl. The cabin was made up, as requested, as a double. But with the dressing table and chair, tub chair and small table there was not enough room to manoeuvre around either side without performing acrobatics so we had it made up as two singles and that gave much more room. There was plenty of storage space and the suitcases slid under the beds. The bathroom was small but adequate with a good shower and, hurrah, a non-clinging shower curtain. Good quality shower gel and hand wash. The beds are quite hard but comfortable and have duvets with good quality bedding. Deck 2 is quite low down and so we spent time just kneeling on the beds watching the waves and enjoying the 'final rinse' when the waves splashed over the windows darkening the whole cabin - frightening the first few times it happened. The lifeboat drill was a bit worrying; we had a roll call and cabin numbers were called out where there appeared to be no occupants while some cabins were missed off the roll call. As the weather was bad we were glad that our meeting point was the library. I was looking forward to enjoying Fred Olsen's service standards as I'd read so much about it - and I was not disappointed! Every staff member was friendly and polite - even the 'known miseries' at reception. The bar staff remembered your name within a day or two and your preferred drink/s - even down to how I like my G&Ts. I think Braemar is beginning to show her age but overall the ship is clean and tidy and very easy to get around and navigate. There are plenty of public loos that have the new Dyson air hand dryers, what a clever invention, to save time, really get your hands dry and reduce paper towel waste. There are plenty of bars and lounges to sit and have a drink or watch the world go by. Our favourite was the Coral Lounge, while we found The Observatory lacked atmosphere. The Neptune Lounge is a nightmare, the seating arrangements are badly laid out and there are too many pillars that limit many of the audience's views. First sitting dinner people are asked only to see one show; but they seemed to see the first show in the Coral Lounge then come to the second house of the Neptune lounge show. This meant many of the second sitting dinner people could not get into the main show. Also, two people took up settees designed for four and others were reserving seats. I think it was a mistake to have dancing in the Neptune lounge between shows as this encourages people to stay in the lounge or hog seats. Sometimes it was difficult to get a seat in the Coral Lounge show due again to first sitting people wanting to catch both shows. Drink prices are the same as UK pub prices. The wine list is excellent and a bottle for dinner was so easily ordered via the interactive section of the TV - as was room service breakfast (that arrived dead on time). Apart from the problems with the lounges the entertainment was really good - a good idea to have two shows at night. The resident Braemar band and 4th Dimension group were excellent. Lee Carroll was the comedian - I'd heard the jokes all before but he was funny. Anthony Stuart Lloyd was a brilliant singer - and a lovely person. The Braemar show were very good - the shows are not our type of thing but seeing them on the TV cruise programme showed how talented they were. Jackie Probert, the assistant cruise director, has a lovely voice and she's a great personality. It was lovely to see Dong the lighting/technical guy being allowed to show his singing talent - certainly miles better than the resident's band singer! The speakers were awful; no presentations skills at all - death by very bad PowerPoint. Anthony Borradaile was the cruise director and was very good - not full of himself like others we have experienced. Hurrah for Fred - the buffet was not a rugby scrum. People waited to be seated at laid tables so you could settle yourself prior to diving in! This made for people actually having conversations with the people on your table. This was also good for making return visits to the serving stations. Waiters were quick to clear plates and pour/top up water. The Thistle restaurant was my favourite of the two main ones and we were allocated to it for dinner. We tried the Grampian for breakfast and lunch but found it lacked atmosphere. Given there was a choice of soups for lunch and dinner in all restaurants we did not have soup spoons. This is the best food we have ever had on a cruise. I think Fred's secret is to have less choice which means better cooking and the quality is very good. I have never eaten so much beef; all of it so, so tender and the slow roasted belly of pork was to die for (all you could hear from out table that night was the ooing and ahhing of delighted people). The puddings are lovely; they must be I am usually a cheese and biscuits person and think I only had that twice. The pool area was nice and large - but suffered the usual sun-bed blocking. The pools and jacuzzis were refreshing and cleaned/topped up often. The changing room was a good idea; and came into its own on disembarkation day for a post sunbathing shower and freshen up before the journey home. We were late out of Dover as the weather was awful (and we could not pass Balmoral who was berthed in front of us). The weather for the whole crossing was excellent and the rather smooth (got to 4-5 max. last time we had about 7-8s). The weather was excellent for the crossing too (cool and windy for the first day or two down to Madeira but we could sit out in a jumper). We hit the Caribbean on the back of hurricane Thomas so the seas were choppier than expected and the weather was changeable for the first few days. We had to miss out first Caribbean port of call, St Maarten, as the sea was too choppy and windy to berth or tender. After 7 days at sea that was a bit of a downer! But we pushed onto Tortola in awful weather and arrived in a downpour to overnight. Not many people went ashore that night as it was dark and tipping down and people were unsure of their surroundings. The sail away parties were fun - especially the British night out of Tortola with the people in the massive Norwegian Dawn enjoying our party. But, and for me this is a big but, the sailaways are at the back of the ship and there is not room for everyone to see the entertainment and/or join in. There is so much room on deck 9 (loose one of the golf net thingies to make even more) that the band can be up there with people partying on the sun deck (deck 8). I was not the only person disappointed with the tropical night - on a sea day and with no deck party. I felt so let down as on our previous repositioning cruise this was the highlight of the cruise - it was all rather flat on Braemar. There was loads to do if you wanted to. The dolphin racing was a laugh and the crew tug of war was great fun. The spa was OK with reasonable prices. There is a good sized, well stocked library. The photographers were a bit in-your-face (I am not one for having my photo taken when I am eating!) but you were not pressed at all to buy any photos and they were a reasonable price. There was a good balance of formal/informal/casual nights. But we were told in our pre cruise information that there was only three formal nights; onboard we found out there was four - a nightmare for us ladies! Most people dressed up to the nines on formal nights but some people's idea of informal is my idea of casual and their ideas of smart casual is my slobbing out! We took a couple of excursions that were good - but I think we'd do them independently in future. It was good to be able to book/pay online in advance. Our flight home was delayed; by, at first three hours, then four. I was delighted as this gave us an extra day and meant we did not arrive home at some ungodly hour of the day. This is where Fred really stepped up, keeping us fully informed, we were kept on board and an early evening buffet was provided. I am sure an afternoon tea was provided as I saw some people with sandwiches and cakes during the afternoon. When we finally disembarked we were only at the airport about forty minutes until boarding. This is the second time I have paid for an upgraded flight - even with the additional extra baggage weight and leg room it is not worth the additional money and I will not bother again. This is the second time I have paid for an upgrade and I felt the same on our previous flight - this confirmed it is a waste. Overall a great cruise and we will cruise with Fred again, picking them over another company if there was a choice given the itinerary/dates. If the niggles can be sorted out I would've given 5*. The niggles are not a show-stopper but little things that stop a great cruise being outstanding. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We arrived at the port of Civitavecchia on Nov 15th for a cruise starting on Nov 18th. What a wonderful little port town to stay in and to visit the market and walk around with the locals. We stayed at the Hotel Bramante and beautiful ... Read More
We arrived at the port of Civitavecchia on Nov 15th for a cruise starting on Nov 18th. What a wonderful little port town to stay in and to visit the market and walk around with the locals. We stayed at the Hotel Bramante and beautiful small 14 room hotel that treated us like we were part of their family. When we embarked we were amazed at how many people had booked the entire 33 day cruise. It was a memorable cruise with ports of historical value that will be ever present in our minds. To see the buildings and ruins of the past thousands of years and be comforted by the return to the safety of our ship. Some of the places that we visited were pretty disgusting in Egypt. Thank goodness we saw the pyramids and the sphinx, as we will never return to Egypt. We could not believe that they were pushing their garbage into the "blue" Nile river. The Grand Princess could use a little face lift but they were working hard on redoing floors and public areas while we were in various ports. Never having been at sea during the Thanksgiving Holiday (American) nor the preparatory Christmas season we were both surprised and wonder-struck by what the ship staff accomplished in the over night periods. This total cruise was above and beyond our expectations in every way possible from the ports of call to the staff and the festival spirit of the ship. Would we do it again without Egypt - yes in a heart beat. PS B748 beautiful colors and an awesome balcony. There really are no negatives about this cabin. Back of the ship great evening views and leaving ports. Super for taking pictures. Slept like a log for 33 nights:) Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We are not novices to cruising as this was our 39th cruise. We are gold card members of the MSC line. Until this sailing, MSC has been our favorite cruise line. Unfortunately the service made us feel like unwanted relatives on the ... Read More
We are not novices to cruising as this was our 39th cruise. We are gold card members of the MSC line. Until this sailing, MSC has been our favorite cruise line. Unfortunately the service made us feel like unwanted relatives on the Orchestra. We have had better and worse embarkations thus nothing worth writing about. It was upon entering the ship our problems began. Our adult son came with us since this was a Christmas and New year's vacation. Upon boarding he went to the Receptionist Desk to give them cash so he could open up his onboard account. When he tried to tell the receptionist what he wanted to do she told him "if he would shut up and listen." I was standing by him or I might not have believed a customer relations person would talk that way to a passenger. We are loyal past passengers and get treated this way. Strike one within ten minutes of boarding. Other cruise lines show you to your cabin and some even offer a glass of champagne. None of that here. You are on your own to find your cabin. Being hungry we went up to deck 13 for something to eat. Another disappointment. The food was tasteless and all the salads looked and tasted the same. There were only two variety of cakes for dessert. Little did we know this was to be the case for the entire cruise. Our first dinner foretold what was ahead for the next 17 days. We never saw a steak the entire trip. Fish served every meal but over cooked and quite dry. Chicken every meal and again over cooked. We ordered pasta the first night (remembering how wonderful the pasta was on the Opera.) To our surprise it was tasteless except for a rancid, metallic taste. No one at our table could eat it. In 17 days we had truly good pasta only two times. Service in the dining room was bad to pitiful. We were at a table for 6 and one person would get their dish while the rest would wait 10 to 15 minutes. Sometimes we were served the wrong orders. Other times we never got what we ordered. Sometimes we would get our food but have no silverware to eat it with. Dinner always took around two hours. Everyday except for three we went to the "formal" dining room for lunch. Imagine our surprise to have to go through a cafeteria line (buffet) at lunch in the formal dining room. No menu service. Again the food was tasteless. In all our cruises this was a first. Christmas Eve we could have "prime rib" or lobster. Everyone at our table and next to us agreed the "prime rib" was merely a small piece of over cooked roast beef. The lobster was soooo large we took three bites and it was gone. Also, I was told fourteen passengers ended up in the infirmary ill after eating the lobster. Unfortunately the food never improved the entire cruise. I had occasion to speak with Marcello, the Guest Relations manager. He told me he was a "chef" and that Italians do not cook with spices. I wondered if he thought I had dropped here from another planet. Especially since my husband is 1/2 Italian. Day two we slept in and did not leave our cabin until 10:10 am. Imagine our surprise to find it was not possible to find anything to eat on the ship until noon. The restaurant closed at 9:30 am everyday of the trip. The deck 13 cafeteria (buffet) closed at 10:00 am. No rolls, croissants, nothing. Our cabin was always very clean and our room steward had a handicap as our adult son would stay out quite late and thus get up very late. Our steward never complained and graciously worked around our night owl. We were quite happy with our service in this area. The productions shows were good and the costumes were beautiful. The were four African men who were acrobats. They were truly wonderful. The magician and illusionist were acceptable. One night there was no show at all and three nights the show consisted entirely of groups which played every night in the atrium lounge. These three nights were poorly attended since we saw them every night anyway when passing by the atrium. The Entertainment (Animation) Team on MSC really work hard and extremely long hours. These young people were no exception. They danced with passengers every single evening until 1 or 2 am. They had Italian lessons, trivia games, crazy games, dance lessons, etc. From nine in the morning until two am they were very visible and working hard. They truly made this voyage bearable. The cruise director on the other hand was very aloof and seldom said anything to the passengers. The ships lounge performers were generally good. We especially liked the Popcorn Band and their singer, Romanica. She has a truly lovely voice and is very friendly and outgoing. On the Opera you could not get on the ship or go into an eating facility without a crew member squirting you with hand sanitizer. Imagine our surprise when we cannot even find the sanitizer on deck 13 four four days. It was behind a door. Quite often when getting back on the ship or entering the dining room the hand sanitizer was empty. There was never any crew in sight the entire trip checking on this. Something we have never seen before was that none of the ships shops were open until the fourth day of our cruise. Christmas decorations (such as they were) did not appear until day four and five of our cruise. We heard several passengers complain because the ship never put up a Menorah even though we were cruising during Hanukah. There were never any Christmas Carols, no egg nog, no special Christmas show Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. A passenger chorus sang prior to midnight mass which was held at 11:00. Other than Santa for the children Christmas Day might as well have been any other day of the year. Get this the Orchestra had a Friends of Bill W. meeting in the Savannah "Bar." Our past passenger party was not until December 28 which is when we got our "welcome cocktail." It took three phone calls to get the invitation which we finally received 10 minutes prior to the party. Only ONE cocktail is permitted per passenger. No canapes. Since Saint Thomas is the first U.S. port this is where the immigration procedures were done. What a mess. We got a paper which I am quoting "instructions for passengers NON USA and Canada." We get a knock on our door and were chastised for not going through customs. I showed the person our form and he said we did not know how to read and must go right away. We stood in line for one hour to have a ship officer glance at our passport and put a sticker on it so we could get off the ship and go into town. The last week of the cruise many of the passengers and some of the crew got a hacking cough, sore throat and fever. My son and spouse both had to go to the infirmary for medicine. They were told there was not an outbreak of illness. However, the ship sounded like a T.B. ward. A couple of passengers said they had contacted the Center for Disease Control because of the ships denial and the lack of sanitization. We have cruised so many times, we know there are always a few disgruntled passengers but we have never talked to so many people who were so angry. People from nearly every country we spoke with expressed their displeasure with the Orchestra. We only met three people who seemed happy with the cruise. We found out they were on their first cruise. Disembarkation was truly a nightmare. Everyone had to be out of their cabin by 7:00 am. Breakfast was closed at 8:30 am. Nobody was allowed off the ship until after 10:30 am. There was an announcement about 9:00 am blaming the Immigration Department for the hold up. Since we had a 12:30 train home we were getting quite nervous. I went to the Receptionist and she said she could not give me a different colored tag. (Ours was over half way down the list to be called.) She then said they could not "force" anyone to stay on the ship. We spoke with some people sitting near us and they had 7:00 to 8:00 evening flights and had the first colored tags to be called. We slipped in line when the first tags were called and upon reaching the baggage area off the ship found our luggage had not even been taken off the ship yet. We spoke to someone in Immigration and were told they were ready by 9:00 am to clear the Orchestra's passengers but the ship is under staffed and that was why it was taking so long. Many a time I have gone on Cruise Critic to defend MSC, telling the detractors how wonderful MSC is. I now feel a need to apologize to my fellow Cruise Critic's for misleading them. What has happened to my beloved MSC??? Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
The MSC Cruise line is for the birds. If you plan a cruise DO NOT CHOOSE MSC CRUISE LINES. It is a very boring place to be. The food was terrible-horrible-everything was either undercooked or overcooked....they even screwed up corn ... Read More
The MSC Cruise line is for the birds. If you plan a cruise DO NOT CHOOSE MSC CRUISE LINES. It is a very boring place to be. The food was terrible-horrible-everything was either undercooked or overcooked....they even screwed up corn flakes (I lived on French fries and tomatoes for 17 days)...... there were no trained crew members everybody was new and spoke very little English if any at all....there were 16 decks on this ship and 2...yes 2...Christmas trees..no decorations.........no Christmas music......they had no planned organized fun things to do except stretching exercises and bingo and that was ill organized........Bingo cards cost $10 for one card......I paid extra for a smoking balcony and they did not allow smoking on balconies.......they charge 3% for cashing travelers checks.......the only deck party they had was New Year's Eve....no ice carvings and grand buffet on the last night as ships usually do...the nightly shows (except 2) were all operatic and classical.....no religious Christmas services except for Catholics.....the first and second days they had no night time buffet so you had to eat in the dining room whether you wanted to or not, then they had so many complaints that they had to open a buffet at night.....you had to pay for pizza...you had to pay for ice cream...one man had to pay $3.50 for a glass of crushed ice.....there were two big fights on the ship....no movie theater or free movies....the first few days they had 10 free movies but so many people were so bored they were staying in the cabins watching them so they took them off.....one couple got off in Casablanca and flew themselves home and another two couples got off in San Juan....... We had to beg for bananas...beg for doughnuts...they kept these things under the counter...... they did not ever have any milk although people were asking for it....until about 5 days into the cruise after thousands of complaints we didn't even get coffee except at mealtimes and on every cruise I have been on there are coffee and juices 24 hours a day.... One more thing...there were no hand sanitizers until we got to American territory and inspection time. They were hidden under the counters too. A lot of people caught colds and were in bed for a period of time....Clarence was one of them for 4 days. There were about 3K + travelers on this cruise and 2900 of them swear they will never go on another MSC Cruise Line. Everybody was complaining from all countries. If you sat down at a table or somewhere with a complete stranger, all that was talked about was how bad the ships crew, the service, and the organization was....especially the food. Everybody was teed off because the only vegetables were cauliflower, broccoli, and shredded carrots. We finally got some potatoes. They were also upset because all the deserts were the same with just different colored icing. The food was horrible in all restaurants because we tried them all trying to find something fit to eat. This is the only cruise line we have ever been on that we LOST weight. The productions shows were good and the costumes were beautiful. The were four African men who were acrobats. They were truly wonderful. The magician and illusionist were acceptable. One night there was no show at all and three nights the show consisted entirely of groups which played every night in the atrium lounge. These three nights were poorly attended since we saw them every night anyway when passing by the atrium. The Entertainment (Animation) Team on MSC really work hard and extremely long hours. These young people were no exception. They danced with passengers every single evening until 1 or 2 am. They had Italian lessons, trivia games, crazy games, dance lessons, etc. From nine in the morning until two am they were very visible and working hard. They truly made this voyage bearable. The cruise director on the other hand was very aloof and seldom said anything to the passengers. The ships lounge performers were generally good. We especially liked the Popcorn Band and their singer, Romanica. She has a truly lovely voice and is very friendly and outgoing. On our other cruises you could not get on the ship or go into an eating facility without a crew member squirting you with hand sanitizer. Imagine our surprise when we cannot even find the sanitizer on deck 13 four four days. It was behind a door. Quite often when getting back on the ship or entering the dining room the hand sanitizer was empty. There was never any crew in sight the entire trip checking on this. At one point I asked a crew member for the hand sanitizer, he sent me to the toilet. It took about three hours to get onto the ship and nearly six hours to get off. They ran us out of our rooms at 7AM (which was a first for us) and gathered all 3K+ into two small bars and then the Captain did not have some type of paperwork that America requires and we waited nearly six hours to get off. That is with no water, food or anything else and no place for all of us to sit. We were sitting on the stairs, laying in the floor, sitting on the bar and nearly hanging from the rafters. Children were irritable, crying...it was a fiasco. and I could go on and on but I bet you are tired of reading by now. However, the itinerary was great and off the ship we saw a lot of good stuff. We made several good friends and they helped to make the trip from becoming a complete disaster. So if you want to punish your friends and get even with your enemies..send them on an MSC CRUISE LINE FOR A FEW DAYS. Not us though, we will never cruise MSC again. The nicest people on the ship were both working on Deck 13. There names are Arie from Bali and Miriam from Peru. This was our first MSC Cruise and although we cruise at least twice yearly and sometimes more. This will be our last MSC Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008

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