Sail Date: October 2011
We recently booked a cruise aboard the Oosterdam traveling from Vancouver to San Diego - a 4 day re-positioning cruise. It was our first cruise celebrating our anniversary. From the moment we boarded the Oosterdam to the time we ... Read More
We recently booked a cruise aboard the Oosterdam traveling from Vancouver to San Diego - a 4 day re-positioning cruise. It was our first cruise celebrating our anniversary. From the moment we boarded the Oosterdam to the time we departed in San Diego we met with the friendliest, hospitable, dynamic and outgoing staff who gave 100% to making sure we were comfortable and well looked after. It was hard to believe that they were dealing with close to 2000 passengers, we rarely had to wait for service and given the mix of passengers they dealt with everyone with the same attentiveness and courtesy. The only issue we had was with some of the self-centered, self-important passengers -â€" yet the staff was non-plussed and went out of their way to please. The stateroom was impeccably made up, our luggage on our bed when we arrived, chocolates and towel animals nightly. The balcony unit where we stayed gave us a wonderful view of the sunsets at sea (make sure you book on the starboard side heading south). The food in the Vista was extraordinary - they had three chefs and the menu changed each night -â€" with gourmet 5 course meals. The service equally remarkable given the numbers, they were extremely well staffed. The entertainment was as good as any Vegas show we've seen, comedian, a dance troupe who did a retrospect of music from the 40's to contemporary with dance styles in keeping with each era and a magic show we missed. They had music in different clubs to address everyone's taste but in doing so they seem to water down repertoire (quazi jazz group -â€" more like pop trio, a string quartet playing standard repertoire and some trite classical standards, the pop group was quite good however as was Mark the pianist. I don't know how he played so well, the piano he was using was deplorable piece of equipment for a grand piano with a broken string -â€" he must have keyed all his pieces to avoid the note because I didn't hear it during his act. The Discotheque was hosted by Brett Rudolf - this guy has boundless energy, a fun-loving extremely personable human being who loves life and loves people. He befriends all his guests showing his new steps and tries to make everyone feel comfortable -â€" even those of us who have two left feet. Last day of our cruise my wife and I met him to thank him for making our stay so enjoyable, we told him of our anniversary in passing -â€" he disappeared and came back with bottle of champagne on his own tab. He would make wonderful cruise director if Holland America notices his gifts. The actual cruise director we had, Dave was excellent, his organizational skills kept things completely on track throughout the trip. The flawless disembarkation was largely due to Dave's thoughtful processing -â€" arranging customs and leaving by deck number so that there would be a minimum of waiting. All said it was a remarkable experience for us -â€" a true 5 star rating for this cruise ship, its staff and the wonderful attitude and genuine hospitality they provide. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
This cruise was selected in order to witness the construction being undertaken for the new canal locks and channels. We booked the cruise in two segments, a two day cruise from Vancouver to San Fransisco in an inside cabin, B727, then the ... Read More
This cruise was selected in order to witness the construction being undertaken for the new canal locks and channels. We booked the cruise in two segments, a two day cruise from Vancouver to San Fransisco in an inside cabin, B727, then the 15 day segment onward to Fort Lauderdale in cabin B735 a balcony cabin across the corridor. Our logic was that we expected cool temperatures out of Vancouver and didn't expect to use the balcony. This proved to be a wise decision and we got a cruise credit toward our Elite status. The original plan was to arrive in Vancouver two days prior to sailing. The threat of an Air Canada strike the day before our flight caused us to re-book for two days earlier giving us 4 days in Vancouver. We chose to stay at the Quality Inn in Richmond near the airport. This was a reasonably priced, clean and comfortable hotel close to everything. The gorgeous Minoru park behind the hotel, the Foggy Dew pub across the street and numerous other restaurants and malls made this a delightful area to spend the time. We went by bus, a twenty minute ride, to Steveson, a fishing port nearby. This port offers a number of outstanding fish restaurants harbour-side. On boarding day the hotel shuttle took us to the Canada line train station which we used for the trip to the Canada Place dock. We walked with our luggage from the train to the reception area, about 2 blocks. Arriving about 11:30 we were in our cabin by noon. We were greeted by Petra our exceptional cabin Stewart for the 17 days. She anticipated all our needs and made our move to the next cabin effortless. We had done the 15 day cruise aboard the Coral 3 years before so we were familiar with the ship. The major change was the conversion of the rear adult only pool to the Sanctuary area. This was a disappointment because we had really enjoyed this area in the past. I believe all the ships should have an adult only area. The ship is very well maintained and generally spotless. The crew without exception carried on the Princess style of acknowledging everyone and being engaging. We encountered heavy seas from Vancouver to San Francisco which slowed our progress and delayed our arrival by 3 hours. Because of anticipated heavy swells we did not stop in Cabo because the Captain believed that tendering would be too dangerous. This meant that we spent 6 1/2 glorious sea days getting to Puntaranous. Many passengers and crew were anxious to set foot on land but we thoroughly enjoyed of sea time. Missing Cabo meant that we were not able to exchange our entertainment crew. Nevertheless we enjoyed the comedians and in particular the ventriloquist. We had seen two of the production shows before and did not attend. We did see the first showing of a new and outstanding show called "Bayou" in the Universe lounge. With few exceptions we would begin our evening activities by visiting the Elite/Platinum lounge in a corner Explorers lounge (5 to 7PM). There the chef, Christian, prepared everything that was presented often making each item to individual order. Whenever he was not serving he made sure he visited each table to speak with each guest. During the trip he learned that he had lost his home and that of his mother's due to a cyclone in Manila. Despite this personal tragedy he maintained his composure and continued to serve his guests as if nothing was troubling him. Each night this lounge offered a drink special at $3.99. This was a delightful way of trying drinks I would not normally indulge in. We wait staff consisted of Lerraine, Marcel and Venod. These servers very personable and made the lounge a special place. After the lounge closed we would either remain there to listen to Passion, a group from St. Lucia, or go to another venue for music until our usual dinner at 8:00 PM. Although we had Anytime Dining in the Bordeaux dining room we soon established a standing reservation for table 29. This is a table for 2 by a starboard window in an isolated and quiet corner. Its other important attraction is that it is staffed by Vaughn and Miguel an outstanding wait team. Vaughn always impressed us with his menu explanations and wine appreciations. He was friendly and funny and really encouraged Miguel to interact and improve his skills. A great team. We made use of a new feature, apparently introduced on this cruise, called a wine card, similar to the coffee card. It was offered as either a 7, 10, or 12 bottle card in two colors. The Gold allowed you to have any bottle up to $30 and the other color (Platinum?) allowed up to a $40 bottle. We bought the 12 bottle Gold card for $240 plus 15% thus saving the approximate cost of 2 bottles. I hope they introduce this on all ships. We took a city tour of Puerto Amador. After tendering ashore we boarded a minibus (19 pax) and had a delightful guide. Saw the old and new cities and considered this to be a worthwhile tour. We took a taxi with another couple into Cartagena, clock-tower gate. We were hassled approaching the taxi loading area and offered a taxi for $50. We declined. At the taxi boarding area there was a sign stating the fee for 4 passengers was $15 or $20 depending on the destination. We had hoped to wonder around the old town on our own but we found the aggressive vendors and hangers on coupled with the temperature too much to bear and retreated back to the ship. Will not try this again in Cartagena. In Aruba we took a Catamaran trip offered by the ship (Red Sail tours)and it was outstanding. We had good winds so we had great sailing to and from the two snorkel/swimming sites. The rum punch and music on the return sail were wonderful. As stated earlier the primary purpose of this particular cruise was to witness the new construction being undertaken on the canal. This did not disappoint. Much of the work is being done adjacent to the present canal. Extensive dredging, earth-moving and lock building are easily seen. We were fortunate that we had dry mostly sunny weather for the passage. It was all I anticipated. We made the most of the small, mostly unknown and unused balcony at the stern of Baja deck. On days other than the passage we often had this balcony to ourselves and it was only two cabins removed from ours. There is a similar, slightly narrower, balcony directly below on Carib. Disembarkation went very smoothly at Fort Lauderdale. We had Red 3 tags for a scheduled disembarkation at 8:10. We were off within 5 minutes of that time, and through US immigration promptly. We took a cab to the airport for $15 including tip, the ship wanted $19 each, and were at the Air Canada counter by 8:45. Except for security the flights home were uneventful. This cruise was everything we had hoped for. We had a great ship and crew, good entertainment and outstanding dining and mostly super weather. We've completed 12 cruises with Princess and hope to be Elite for our 28 day South Seas adventure in October 2012. Dennis & Louise Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2011
We had been recommended to cruise through the Panama Canal also to visit Vancouver so this seemed to be the ideal cruise for us. 19 nights appeared a long time but the ports of call and the destination seemed appealing. We were surprised ... Read More
We had been recommended to cruise through the Panama Canal also to visit Vancouver so this seemed to be the ideal cruise for us. 19 nights appeared a long time but the ports of call and the destination seemed appealing. We were surprised on the first day when we realised this was not one cruise but two cruises in one. Although when we checked on board with Princess they said if you booked it as one cruise it was considered one cruise, even though we had to settle our on board account after 4 days, receive new cards and start again in Los Angeles. However, one assumes because of poor sales for the full cruise, Vancouver to Fort Lauderdale, Princess offered a 4 day mini-cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles at very attractive prices. The 4 day cruise clearly was very appealing to people living in the Los Angeles area who appeared to look at it as a cheap long weekend of gorging themselves on as much food as possible, the Horizon restaurant was kept very busy.In Los Angeles the now very over weight mini-cruisers were replaced by customers who joined for the remainder of the cruise to Fort Lauderdale. After Los Angeles the tenor of the cruise changed to people who clearly just enjoyed cruising, thankfully. This was a repositioning cruise and we got the impression Princess struggled to find adequate ports of call. The first port was Victoria on Vancouver Island which the ship could have reached within the hour of leaving Vancouver but because of the itinerary the ship circled the Island until the following morning. Having said that it is a beautiful place, if you ever get the chance to go to the Butchart Gardens make sure you go. The second port of call was Los Angeles. What a disappointment, we hear about what a wonderful place this is and yet it was probably the worst port of call in the whole cruise and when you consider the next stop was in Guatemala you will appreciate our views on Los Angeles. We then sailed past the coastline of Mexico, we were told Princess are not calling there at the moment because of safety issues. This was clear in Guatemala because for our trip Princess had arranged a well armed police guard to keep us secure around Lake Atilan. We were told because of the Mexican threat. Guatemala is clearly a very poor country and the poverty was distressing. Onward to Costa Rica and Puntarenas, much more civilised and a good port of call. We opted for a private excursion with Okey Dokey Tours including zip lining, fantastic. Panama City was next and there were plenty of varying excursions available. The next day was the day we navigated the Panama Canal which created a great deal of interest for all onboard and it was well handled by the Princess crew.Plenty of history but the cynics on board suggested it was only two locks and a big lake! Cartagena in Columbia came next and for us the best port of call, plenty of history and things to see. We again opted for a private tour with Dora Tours. She was excellent and by far the best tour guide we have ever had.Then came Aruba which apart from shopping for jewellery appeared to offer nothing much more. Two more days at sea and we arrived in Fort Lauderdale. 19 nights on board, 7 ports of call and 10 sea days. The last time we cruised with Princess was on the Emerald Princess which is a bigger ship with more amenities. On the Island Princess we chose "anytime dining" so we had only one choice of restaurant (apart from the two where you have to pay extra), on the Emerald you have a choice of four plus the specialities. So the menus was somewhat repetitive. I cannot mention the Bordeaux restaurant without highlighting the ultra efficient maitre'd Mihaela and the fantastic waitress Ana Maria. Both Romanian ladies who were a credit to Princess, highly efficient and great fun. We used the Sabatinis restaurant on two occasions. In hindsight once was enough as it is always the same menu, however we did have an excellent time. The staff in general were all very good, to wake up to the Deputy Cruise Director Kimberley on the Wake Up show every morning was a treat. Princess you should make her a Cruise Director asap. The Sanctuary was new to us, this facility has not featured before. A worthy addition and we were pleased to learn this facility will be enlarged on the new ship. Although at $40 a day for the two of us is somewhat excessive. Overall we enjoyed the cruise, it was in hindsight too long for us, too many sea days and not enough ports of call worthy of attention. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
Radiance of the Seas -- 16 September 2011 Background Information We were booked for this cruise (YVR to HNL with port calls in Kona, Lahaina and Nawiliwili) and also the following one (HNL to SYD with port calls in Tahiti, Moorea, ... Read More
Radiance of the Seas -- 16 September 2011 Background Information We were booked for this cruise (YVR to HNL with port calls in Kona, Lahaina and Nawiliwili) and also the following one (HNL to SYD with port calls in Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora and Auckland). I injured my right knee the day we boarded and, after visiting the on board acupuncturist, developed a serious staph infection on my right calf. At the STRONG suggestion of the two ship's physicians, we canceled the second cruise and left the ship in Honolulu. I got some interesting insights into traveling while disabled and will write about that at the end of this review. Travel to Port of Embarkation We flew from LAX to YVR nonstop on Alaska Airlines. We were able to get seats on a nonstop flight for only $99.00 and that beat any other possible combination we could come up with. The plane was full but the service was excellent and wifi was complimentary during the month of September. Arrival at Vancouver International was on time and we had a relatively quick trip through immigration, baggage claim and customs. The airport is very nice but we always seem to come in at one of the furthest out gates and that means lots of walking. We had quite a bit of luggage -- two 22 inch rollaboards, two large totes, a garment bag and two smaller bags so decided that Skytrain would not be the best way to get into town. Instead, we took an Aerocar shuttle. The guys in charge outside were pretty disorganized but we only had to wait about 25 minutes for the next shuttle to arrive. Our hotel was the last stop but we would use this service again. Hotel We spent the night before the cruise at the Marriott Pinnacle. It is a lovely hotel with a good central location. Because we are Lifetime Platinum members of the Marriott program we were given a very nice 25th floor room on the Concierge Level. We enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine with cruise friends in the Lounge and the complimentary snacks were our dinner. The next morning we had breakfast in the Concierge Lounge and then used a van/taxi for the short trip to Canada Place and the ship. Embarkation There were plenty of porters to help with the bags that we were checking and the trip through U.S. Customs and Immigration and checkin were very easy. By doing the U.S. processing in Vancouver we were able to avoid having to do it when we arrived in Hawai'i. We boarded at about 12:30PM and the cabins were not to be ready until 1:00PM. We found a place to sit in the Champagne Bar and soon afterwards the announcement was made that the cabins were, indeed, ready. Stateroom For this cruise we were booked in an E2 Balcony, 7534. This is one of the cabins that has the extra large balcony. It is about twice the size of a regular balcony but you do lose a bit of privacy because divider becomes a half wall for the last few feet and you also have people looking down from the cabins above onto that area. It was not a serious problem for us. The new deck furniture -- two nice chairs and a dining height table -- are a nice addition. The cabin was pretty much standard. We did notice the new flat screen TVs but also realized that the E2 cabins are smaller and have less storage space than the D cabins. The beds were together instead of apart as we had requested but our very good Cabin Attendant Ahmad took care of that before bedtime. The in room wi-fi (Fee charged although our two Diamond coupons gave us enough time to download and upload e-mail.) works great and is, perhaps, the best of the new features. The location of this cabin is good. It is close to the stairs/elevators that go directly to the Theater. We had heard some comments about noise from the Theater but that was never really a problem. Ship Info This was our fifth cruise on Radiance of the Seas. The last one had been the Coastal Cruise from San Diego to Vancouver before she went in for refitting in Victoria, BC. We were looking forward to seeing the changes. She seemed, on first look, to be in very good shape. A lot of painting had been done and some new carpeting installed. The Stateroom itself could have used new carpet and new upholstery. The bedding and drapes also need to be updated. One of our first stops was the Windjammer to get something for lunch. We had been concerned that the addition of Rita's Cantina and Izumi would cut into the already scarce seating. We were right. You can still go through Rita's to the outside area but, unless it's a nice day, that's not a good option. This seems to have been a revenue driven decision and has not been a popular one with people who use the Windjammer on a regular basis. Because I ended up needing a wheelchair for most of the cruise, I didn't get to explore as much as I'd like to have. I do know that there were negative comments about the loss of the much loved Sea View Cafe. We also missed the Breakers Dining Room for the Diamond/Diamond Plus breakfast in the morning. It has been replaced by three single cabins and six Oceanview cabins. We were told that the singles were being used for crew accommodation on this cruise. The new Diamond Lounge has been carved out of the Royal Viking Lounge. There were so many Diamond members on this cruise they had to open a rear door up and use part of the Royal Viking Lounge. We very much enjoyed the complimentary cocktails and beer/wine. It was explained to us that this is the main difference between a Diamond Lounge and a Diamond Event. Service was a bit spotty although Nickson did a very good job. The Concierge, Steven, seemed to be spending quite a bit of time carrying plates and replenishing food on the buffet which is not really what he is supposed to be there for. He was very pleasant when he had time to stop and visit but that was rare. While we enjoyed the Lounge, this has cut up what was once a lovely room with panoramic views for all to enjoy. Dining We were signed up for My Time Dining. With all of Deck Five being MTD, we hoped that things would go more smoothly than they have in the past. The first night we were seated fairly quickly but at a table directly next to the back side of a noisy service center. Watching plates being scrapped and dirty plates stacked wasn't especially appetizing. The next morning, however, we ran into a favorite waiter, Andrew Tuscano, from Navigator. We were able to be seated at one of his tables for the remainder of the cruise and he and his assistant, Agnelo Fernandes, took excellent care of us. We were also happy to see John Fernandes, an assistant waiter from an earlier cruise and Rathan who is now a supervisor. The quality of the food was good. It is, however, predictable. The menus have not changed since our first cruise on Radiance in 2009. Day One, Vidalia Onion Tart... A couple of favorites are there, of course, including the pork medallions and the Thanksgiving Dinner. Two of my favorite appetizers -- escargot and the scallop and shrimp gratin -- are also still on the menu. Andrew always made good suggestions and went far above and beyond to make dining a fun and enjoyable experience. One night, when I wasn't feeling up to going to the MDR, he insisted on sending dinner and dessert to the cabin. I had already ordered from Room Service but the thought and his concern was very much appreciated. On this cruise we ate at only one Specialty Restaurant. We went as a party of six to Chops. The meal was, as always, good. The service, however, was not as personal nor as professional as we remember from other visits. I do very much like the addition of creme brulee as a dessert option, however. One very small complaint: The flatware is still cumbersome. It rolls off the plate when you put a knife or fork down. We had looked forward to trying Samba's Grill but ended up not doing so. People we spoke with said that it was good but not exceptional. They also found the location -- replacing the Sea View Cafe -- a bit odd. That was especially true when it was cold or wet at night. Again, a revenue driven decision not thoroughly thought through? Activities/Shows Because of my condition we didn't participate in many of the activities. We did go to two shows. One was a comedy show performed by the two Argentines who own and produce Tango Buenos Aires. They are brothers and are very funny. The tango show, which we've now seen four times was excellent although the female lead singer was not as strong as the others we've seen. Bobby and Becky Brown were the Cruise Director and Activity Director. They are both true professionals and do a great job. Service We had excellent service from our Cabin Attendant, Ahmad, and in the Main Dining Room from Andrew and Agnelo. We had a feeling, though, that everyone was doing more work than before and some service suffered. We gave up trying to contact Guest Relations by phone. They just never answered and the one time they did were not able to help us with out an in-person visit. We had breakfast delivered by Room Service most mornings and it was, with two exceptions, prompt and efficient. It would be nice to have more variety on the menu, however. The people at Guest Relations seemed to be overwhelmed much of the time. I was also surprised, when we went to tell them that we would need to leave the ship early, that there was no hint of We're sorry to hear that. The young woman we spoke with seemed a little put out that we were causing her extra work. She did offer a complimentary phone call or thirty extra internet minutes which never activated. She was not available to speak to about this so we paid the charge. The invitations for the Meet & Mingle were not sent in time to about half the people who were registered. Ours was in our cabin the evening after the 10:30AM event. Our Diamond amenities were not in the cabin when we boarded. They were delivered at 10:00PM the first night. Again, perhaps too much work for too few people? Port and Shore Excursions We didn't do any Ship's Excursions. In Kona we went ashore and met friends for lunch at the Kona Inn. As usual, it didn't disappoint. I had a very good Mai Tai and excellent calamari sandwich. At Lahaina we rented a car and drove to the top of Haleakala. It was a perfect day with the drive up the mountain in clouds and drizzle and then bright sun at the top. We could see both Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island 100 miles away. We stopped at the Kula Lodge in Kula for a very good late lunch. and then drove up to the Iao Valley and Needle on the way back to Lahaina. On Kauai we also rented a car and went up to the Waimea Canyon, stopped at the Kauai Coffee Company and the Spouting Horn and had lunch in Wailua before returning to the ship. Disembarkation We were in one of the last groups off the ship and met in the Cascades Dining Room. They had pastries and drinks available. When they called our number there was a crew member with a wheelchair (we had returned the one we were using so we could get the credit for the $250.00 deposit) and he took us to baggage claim where we got a porter and then out to the Taxis where we got a cab into Waikiki where we spent a night before flying home. Summary We made the best of a difficult situation and tried to enjoy the cruise as much as we could. I was disappointed that I didn't have the mobility to see as many of the changes that were made during dry dock as I would have liked. As mentioned, I think that the addition of Rita's and Izumi was a mistake. It has really made a bad situation in The Windjammer worse. Spending most of the cruise in a wheelchair or on a cane gave me a new appreciation for people who travel this way all the time. The crew were generally very helpful and compassionate. Many passengers were, too, but I was really surprised by how rude and inconsiderate some people were. We had people go around us to get in elevators, let doors close in our face and generally ignore that we might need a little extra time or help getting around. I have to especially acknowledge the crew working the tender operation. This can be difficult at best but they treated me with respect and the inclinator they use for getting the wheelchairs up and down to the tender platform works really well. We were also treated very well on the return trip, being taken aside so we would be the last on/first off the tender. Would we sail on Radiance again? Absolutely, if only to see and experience the new things that we missed this time around! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
We booked late for our cruise to Alaska so had to select either a cabin they couldn't sell,or pay the extra money for concierge class. We chose the latter - big mistake!. Our cabin 9121 is below a balcony where chairs and tables are ... Read More
We booked late for our cruise to Alaska so had to select either a cabin they couldn't sell,or pay the extra money for concierge class. We chose the latter - big mistake!. Our cabin 9121 is below a balcony where chairs and tables are being scraped across all day. It was the noisiest cabin I've been in on a cruise.Concierge service gives you almost nothing more than regular service. The "hor d'oeurves" were little pieces of melba toast with some bland goo on them. The ship is too old. There are signs of wear all over. Chairs in the main dining room are falling apart. I complained to a waiter about my chair because it was broken- he did not find me another one- so I had to select the least defective of three other chairs. When people were walking next to the table the floor sagged. There was a horrible noise coming from the engines when we were dining. The food in the main dining room was the worst we've had on a cruise ship. good points, generally the staff was very nice and the managers, including the captain would mingle with the guests. The entertainment was excellent-including the cruise director. Kudos to the beautiful latin band. The cafeteria food was way better than the dining room food. I will never sail with Celebrity again because we feel that we did not get value for our money and they have not responded to my guest survey and e-mails. Also we enjoy dancing and have heard that their newer ships don't have good dance floors. I phoned Celebrity to tell them not to send me so much junk mail. Our best cruise was on Diamond Princess we got very close to a glacier on a classy ship.-with Royal Carribean Rhapsody of the Seas ,a floating beautiful piece of art a close second. Read Less

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