32 Venice Holiday Cruise Reviews

I am sure some of the views on these forums, reflect what some might have thought a cruise today would be the same as in the 1950's!!! Today the ships are on a huge scale, and the clientele far removed from that era. The flights to ... Read More
I am sure some of the views on these forums, reflect what some might have thought a cruise today would be the same as in the 1950's!!! Today the ships are on a huge scale, and the clientele far removed from that era. The flights to Venice and from Genoa were on time, and the P&O team at each end were superb, baggage checked in and then the next one sees it - it is in the cabin. Cabin steward was good, polite, although we kept it tidy so all he had to do was re-arrange / new towels etc. There were two beach towels in the cabin, and more available in the ' spa ' changing room - which would answer a previous complaint in a review- that persom did not look far enough. We dined in the Cinnamon Restaurant, and thought the choice and standard high.We did try the White Room, and yes £25 cover charge, was it worth it, YES for a one off experience, as we were able to dine outside, the ambiece was superb, and a few foodie extras thrown in too, service was brilliant, the food was exceptional, really enyoyed it, we lingered and whay not. The ship is big and it took the week to find one's way around, the ' observation deck ' at the front front on Lido deck was not listed in the leaflet, found it by chance - and a great viewing area. The Theatre is very good, on two deck levels, ( far better than on the Oceana- just a minor point ) we went to the two ' Headliner shows' good singers, and how they change the costumes so many times in seconds is beyond me !!! well done. The '' 4 Tunes '' four guys singing in harmony were outstanding, again we managed their two shows. Ports of call - Kotor by tender- and a trip up the mountain, the 25 bends are NOT for the faint hearted. Rome - we did the Tuscania village trip, beautiful countryside, a very relaxing morning, good wine too at the olive grove farm, and olive oil to purchase too. Corfu & Corsica - suggest just go on foot around the towns, the walk up to the old fort in Corfu, and lunch there was a highlight. P&O do offer very good value for money, the prices on board are in £'s and in my opinion the drinks prices are very reasonable, this is my 2nd P&O cruise. My suggestion - avoid the buffet restaurants, just people not knowing where they are going or what they want- food quality fine though. We did NOT enjoy a might in the Beach House resaurant- menu disappointing. We chose freedon dining- which is ideal, and usually had a table for two, but no problemd sharing as we did from time to time. Afternoon tea in the Saffron was of a high standard. We did use the ' adults ' only oasis pool - although as slightly out of school holidays few children on the ship. The sun loungers are close together and there IS the towel on the sunbed syndrome, which P&O DO need to address. Would I use P&O again - certainly yes, would like to try the Britannia when she comes on stream.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We just finished our fourth cruise with MSC. The first was in 1999 when few Americans had heard of MSC. We loved it! The cuisine, the shows, the demographics, the waiters, came together for a very European experience. Since then we ... Read More
We just finished our fourth cruise with MSC. The first was in 1999 when few Americans had heard of MSC. We loved it! The cuisine, the shows, the demographics, the waiters, came together for a very European experience. Since then we have always particularly enjoyed our cruises with MSC. But this time things were very different. The cruise we took on the Armonia was largely in the Adriatic. The ports were fine and so were the excursions. So we enjoyed that part of it. The shows are still slightly wacky, fun and decidedly non PC. Enjoyed that too. The food, however, was substandard. I have been on quite a few cruises with different companies and this was the worst. It is a deal-breaker. Presentation was lovely, dining rooms too, but most of it was either overly-salted or utterly tasteless. How can anything so pretty taste so bad? We took to eating in the ports of call or ordering extra courses to see if there was anything we would want to eat. We are definitely not finicky eaters. It was clear that MSC is cutting corners. Part of what a passenger looks forward to on the cruise is the food. Not here. Also, no midnight buffets, everything including ice cream on deck had a price (didn't used to be that way), virtually no activities onboard. Passengers were left to entertain themselves with cards and board games and an occasional dance class. I have never been on such an uninspired cruise. I used to love going on MSC cruises. Not going with them again. Uh uh. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
we had sailed on msc from quebec city to ft. lauderdale 2 years ago and the cruise was excellent in all respects. in oct. we sailed from venice on armonia and the ports were great but the ocean view cabin was so small or the minibar was so ... Read More
we had sailed on msc from quebec city to ft. lauderdale 2 years ago and the cruise was excellent in all respects. in oct. we sailed from venice on armonia and the ports were great but the ocean view cabin was so small or the minibar was so large that you had to climb over the bed to get out on one side of the bed.the food was below par and i do not get the marketing idea behind charging for water,iced tea and coffee at dinner in the dining room. this was the lowest ranking cruise in our experience with several cruise lines. needless to say it was our last cruise on msc. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
The cruise left from Venice and took us to Ancona, Corfu, Santorini, Athens, Argostoli, Kotor, and back to Venice. We arrived early at Venice port, about 12.00 noon, and boarding was very quick and efficient, within minutes we were on ... Read More
The cruise left from Venice and took us to Ancona, Corfu, Santorini, Athens, Argostoli, Kotor, and back to Venice. We arrived early at Venice port, about 12.00 noon, and boarding was very quick and efficient, within minutes we were on board. We had lunch at the buffet and then went back to town, as the ship left only at 7pm. For this, it is essential to bring your passport or ID! From Venice Port, the people mover takes you to Piazzale Roma for 1 Euro. Our cabin NR. 8033 was an inside cabin in the front. Very quiet, could not hear anything from our neighbours or the ship's engine, the only noise came from the Armonia lounge below, which was quite loud, but there was not program there every evening, so it was bearable. We had the Allegrissimo drinks package for EUR 23 per day and person, and we had a lot of fun with it. For breakfast, we ordered cappuccino and freshly squeezed orange juice, instead of the normal coffee and juice available at the buffet. With meals, we always had a glass of wine (or two...), and for sundowner, we always enjoyed a glass of sparkling wine on the deck. For sure this package saved us a lot of money, highly recommended. We had breakfast sometimes at the buffet and sometimes at the main dining room. Lunch mainly at the main dining room, much nicer. Dinner always at the main dining room, late seating at 9.30pm most evenings, which was quite late (even 10pm on the Santorini day). The quality of food was excellent at the main dining room, so-so at the buffet. We did not participate in any of the organized excursions, we made our own tours: Ancona: a nice town, from the ship it was only steps to the old town. Nice walk there. Corfu: we walked into town, it took us about half an hour, this can be a hot walk. On the way back, we took the city bus for EUR 1.50. It leaves from the old port and takes you straight back to the cruise port, easy to use. The bus stop in front of the cruise terminal is inside the port area. Santorini: you need to get numbers for the tender boat, make sure you get them early, at 9am. Once ashore, we took the cable car to the town of Fira for EUR 4 per person. Nice walk in Fira. We walked back to the port, but it was not a nice walk, the path was sometimes blocked with donkeys, and it is quite smelly. I would recommend to take the cable car also for the way back. Athens: about half an hour's walk to the metro station, from there it is a short ride (6 stops) to Thissio, at the foot of the Acropolis. The metro fare is EUR 1.50 each way. Argostoli: tender boat to get ashore. If you want to leave the ship early, you need to get numbers again, but we were not in a hurry here, for disembarking at 10am it was not necessary. The tender boat dropped us off right in the center of Argostoli. Don't miss the huge sea turtles near the fisher-men's boats! Kotor: the pier is a few steps away from the old town. Very nice walk there. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We go away in August every year to celebrate our anniversary - next year we will go somewhere cool! Last year we were on 7 day med cruise with RCI and was not too happy. There were many eastern european first time cruisers who obviously ... Read More
We go away in August every year to celebrate our anniversary - next year we will go somewhere cool! Last year we were on 7 day med cruise with RCI and was not too happy. There were many eastern european first time cruisers who obviously did not understand the ways of cruising. Was it a coincidence that we went on code red for norovirus? This year we were away for 12 nights and had many more established cruisers and no overall health issue. Lots of kids though so it was not unusual to find all the buttons in the lift pressed. For the first time we used anytime dining and it worked very well for us. Every morning we would check the entertainment and book a table so were able to avoid the queues that built up. Cabin was standard bit I had to request an egg crate for the bed. The entertainment was fairly typical except that the 'humour' of the American comediens that the US passengers found hilarious completely passed us by. There was music everywhere in the ship - more than we have experienced elsewhere and it was of high standard and good variety. I thought that there was a slight reduction in the quality/variety of food since our last trip with Princess. There was also no farewell party - could not remember whether this was a new development. The first couple of days it looked as if it was all 'no'. No more coffee mugs with coffee card, no more wine packages, no more towel sculptures - not a great loss but the occasional one was pleasant. No compaints about general presentation of ship. Usual problem with chairs in prime position on deck being reserved. For some reason one of the ports of call had been deleted from the itinerary - another cost saving feature? The port shuttles all appeared to be run by outside companies and were very expensive indeed - I remember when they used to be included. Our main gripe was the transfer to the airport at the end. Again it was very expensive - more for the 2 of us than a private taxi but we decided that the convenience might have been worth it. We ended up arriving at chaotic Rome airport more than 1.5 hours before the check in opened and, there being nowhere to sit had, literally to stand around for the duration - never again! In summary a middle of the road ship, the large number of pax were not evident except that the theatre filled up a couple of times so there were no seats for the late show. We will continue to sail with Princess when the itinerary is appropriate but would always prefer the smaller ships. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
This was our second cruise. Our first was for our honeymoon in 1979 with a cruise line that is no longer in business. We have not been interested in another cruise. It really is not our preferred method of seeing the world. Our good ... Read More
This was our second cruise. Our first was for our honeymoon in 1979 with a cruise line that is no longer in business. We have not been interested in another cruise. It really is not our preferred method of seeing the world. Our good friends invited us to join them. The cruise started in Venice, which we have visited before, but Venice is a town that one can enjoy multiple times. Once on board we were absolutely shocked at the elegance of the ship. We have heard that ships are now floating cities. We now fully understand that comment. We entered our room, which was a Verrandah, and once again was shocked. The room was spacious and luxurious. We spent a lot of time on our private deck, including several in-service breakfasts. We were on our deck, drinking wine, and listening to Venetian music when we sail out of the port. We will never forget that. The rest of my comments are probably not new to people who have been on a cruise or cruises recently. The ship has huge staff who is dedicated to making sure you are happy. The food at the buffet and other venues were nothing short of fantastic. We particularly enjoyed the ethnic food of the particular port we were visiting. The entertainment every night was superb. We couldn't wait for the nightly show. Not only was there first class entertainment nightly in the theater, but a string quartet played each day, there was a fantastic piano bar, and live music at the pool. The computer classes were informative and valuable. The procedure to disembark at each port were very organized. We did not experience any snags and there was very little wait (the ship was at about 22,000 people). The cruise director and activity director were very informative, articulate, and knowledgeable. All of the shore excursions we booked were flawless and awesome. Yes, they were expensive, but worth it. We were comfortable, safe, educated, and thoroughly enjoyed each trip. It was very hot every day. When we returned to the ship, staff was waiting with ice cold water, lemonade, and towels. Wow, was that special. We are educators who live on a budget. This cruise was a financial stretch for us. We both feel money well spent. We will always remember this cruise. We loved this cruise so much we booked The Midnight Sun Cruise with Holland America this summer. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Having read a lot of reviews regarding the MSC Magnifica, we decided to go on the cruise with an open mind; and on the whole it was a very enjoyable cruise. The ship does live up to its name and is constantly kept clean and tidy, the staff ... Read More
Having read a lot of reviews regarding the MSC Magnifica, we decided to go on the cruise with an open mind; and on the whole it was a very enjoyable cruise. The ship does live up to its name and is constantly kept clean and tidy, the staff work very hard and are always pleasant. We stayed in a balcony cabin, though not as large as some we have stayed in it was big enough for 2 with enough room for our clothes and space under the bed for the cases. The room was kept clean though the balcony was not swept during our cruise. We mentioned this to reception and it had a cursory clean. The food on board was quite good, there was a lot of choice on the buffet breakfast and if you wanted to be waited on you could use the restaurant. Lunch in the buffet was very much the same every day unless you found the "ethnic" section this changed every day from Indian to Chinese etc. with pasta each day. Evening meals were of the Italian style (what else it's an Italian ship) and were varied each day served in 5 courses. Entertainment was provided in several venues, music and dancing, easy listening and a show in the theatre. The latter again being of the Italian style did seem a bit dated very much like the (Sunday night at the London Palladium)singers dancers and acrobats. The days did lack a bit of interesting entertainment leaving you wandering around on sailing days, though this was a winter cruise so may be in summer it will be different. This was a Christmas cruise but other than Christmas songs being played all day there was very little to tell it was different from other days. The parts we did not like were personal dislikes so you may find that these are things that you do like: Embarkation was very poor they dealt with our cases very well as soon as we arrived; we made our way to the upper level of the terminal without any explanation what to do and were given a ticket with a number on. At this point you need to join the line to check in and get your cruise card; you can register your credit card then to save time later. We still had our number and were told to wait until it was called. The ship is tantalising looming through the window but you can't get on. We waited 2 hours with no refreshments until our number was called and we could go on the ship. Having gone through the process I think I would have left the cases and gone round Venice until last moment and not had the problem of waiting in the terminal. The smoking policy we found to be quite unacceptable and the rules against it are constantly flouted with no action taken by the staff. you can smoke freely in the casino so if you don't smoke this is a no go area meaning if you want to traverse deck 7 you will need to go up and down via deck 6. On deck 6 in the Topazio bar there is a section on the port side for smoking but this is not divided off so the smoke fills the room and some of the shops. you are requested not to smoke in rooms and on balconies, but nothing is done to stop it I had a cigarette stump and ash landing on me from balconies above, not very nice. Again nothing was done about it. Smoke gets into the corridors from rooms, according to one guest in an inside cabin, the smoke from next door filled their cabin as there was no way to ventilate it. Children have a lot to do during the day but some are left unattended at night running around unchecked. Parents of some children encourage them onto the dance floors in the evenings, making it very dangerous to dance in case you knocked one of the children over onto the hard floor; so in a lot of cases you just give up and leave it to big soft dads standing on the dance floor grinning at their precious little darlings spinning round and sliding across the floor. But it was about 4 families who spoiled it for others keeping babies up until the early hours of the morning. A lot has been said in other reviews about the price of drinks and tips but we knew this before cruising and it was not a surprise. The cruise is not as expensive as some other lines so the price of drinks was compensated for. If you are a big drinker there are all inclusive packages you can use. The prices were not a lot different from other cruises and hotels I have stayed in, though the prices in the shops on board were over priced so I don't think they had a lot of custom. All in all it does seem a bit of false economy and if they lowered prices they would have a lot more sales. Would I sale with them again? Yes if the price and package was right. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We have just returned from a 10 night Cruise on Azamara Quest from Venice to Athens with a pre cruise overnight at the Antony Hotel. We have previously sailed on Fred Olsen, Ocean Village, RCI, Cunard, Princess, and P&O and were ... Read More
We have just returned from a 10 night Cruise on Azamara Quest from Venice to Athens with a pre cruise overnight at the Antony Hotel. We have previously sailed on Fred Olsen, Ocean Village, RCI, Cunard, Princess, and P&O and were looking forward to 5*+ "Boutique Style " Cruising. Air Arrangements - KLM via Amsterdam - great service from KLM and would fly with them again. However, the non direct and timing of flights arranged by Azamara added unnecessary frustration and travelling time - on disembarkation we left the ship at 9 am with a flight time out of Athens of 16.55 and eventually arrived in Manchester at 9.30 local time - 14 1/2 hours after leaving the ship. Such travel arrangements would probably be a deal breaker in the future. Due to the late flight and as we did not want to participate in the Athens excursions available through Azamara we took the opportunity to book a room at the Airport Sofital at a cost of 96 Euros, checking out at 2.30pm. Comfortable room and facilities including a pool and nice lunch in the bar. Pre Cruise hotel stay - Antony Hotel - Venice - 10 minutes from the Airport and 10 minutes from the Port. Good location to get the the Port the following day. Friendly staff, comfortable lounge. Basic but clean room. Dinner expensive and the lamb chops inedible. Embarkation. Left hotel by coach 12 noon and arrived at the Port 10/15 minutes later. As we had been fortunate to have been upgraded to a suite we were able to take advantage of immediate priority check in. However, embarkation was chaotic with no order, reminiscent of a rugby scrum with no regard to health and safety. Embarkation was a little delayed as the Ship had been subject to a deep clean due to Norovirus being on board. Once on board we were directed to Windows Cafe for Lunch and our cabins became available around 2pm and luggage promptly delivered. Norovirus - a small number of cases were reported during our cruise but probably no more than one would expect to see in the general population. However, the situation was well managed with food served from the buffet rather than self service until about 2 days before disembarking. I personally preferred being served and once self service was reintroduced I felt that Windows Cafe became more chaotic. Due to the Norovirus no table menus were available in the bars or coffee shop. We had a daily update from the Captain with regard to the status of "GI" - it would have been preferable for the update not to have been received during dining hours! Cabin - Club Continent Suite - Deck 8 - spacious and clean with a bathroom with a bathtub. Lots of wardrobes and storage and a balcony. Whilst Butler service was available we are not particularly demanding people and did not take advantage of Suite delivered afternoon tea, evening savouries or suite dining other than for some breakfasts. I did enjoy the complimentary Brandy and Gin which we had exchanged from the normal Whisky and Vodka. Whilst we did enjoy the spaciousness of the Suite we probably would not book one over a Veranda Cabin due to the differential in cost. Food - all excellent albeit we did not eat in Discoveries, preferring the more relaxed atmosphere of Windows Cafe. We ate in Aqualina twice and Prime C once - food and service all excellent. Entertainment - limited day time entertainment other than a number of trivias and a limited number of craft sessions. Whilst Azamara Cruises are destination orientated it would have been nice to have seen more ship board activities. Evening entertainment was ok but not as good as other lines we have been on. Bar/Lounge Facilities - all excellent in an evening but again in the day time lacking with no inside active bar where you could just sit and relax until 5pm. Lunch and Dinner complimentary wine - excellent and free flowing. Beer package excellent value. We particularly enjoyed the "Looking Glass" Observatory bar with live music. Excursions - we didn't participate, preferring to do our own thing. Ports - all excellent and would have looked much better in kinder weather. Particularly enjoyed Venice, Dubrovnik and Corfu. Complimentary shuttle services when required. Spa/Gym - nice facilities with small outside area including heated pool specifically reserved for Suite Guests. Gratuities - Dining. Bar and Housekeeping - included in Cruise Fare. Spa Gratuities extra. Value for money - this trip - excellent. Regular pricing quoted on a trip for next year (Veranda Stateroom - Greek Islands - August) we feel expensive at almost '£3000 each for 11 nights and would not be prepared to pay. Overall Experience - Enjoyable trip with like-minded people. Mix of Nationalities - British, American, Canadian, Australian, Chinese. Excellent value for money. Excellent food and service. Nice relaxed feel to ship. 5*+ experience? Having considered our overall experience on a similar trip on Queen Victoria last year including direct flights we feel that Cunard have the edge. However, we have signed up for the "Open Package" giving future discounts and we will be back subject to itinerary and costing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Some of you may be familiar with the sci-fi cliche of the evil parallel universe where everything good in our universe is evil over there (and presumably vice versa). This is what doing back-to-back cruises on Carnival and MSC feels like. ... Read More
Some of you may be familiar with the sci-fi cliche of the evil parallel universe where everything good in our universe is evil over there (and presumably vice versa). This is what doing back-to-back cruises on Carnival and MSC feels like. However, at this point in time I'm still not certain which universe is the evil one. It was almost uncanny. Virtually everything that was good on the Carnival ship was evil on the Musica, and vice versa. The Musica was beautiful and stylish - the Carnival ship was gaudy and tacky. The service on the Musica was pretty terrible, while on Carnival we were treated like gods. The main problem with the Musica is not that it is a bad ship, nor that MSC is a bad cruiseline, it's just that the multi-lingual nature of the cruise makes it difficult to engage with the ship and feel at home. This affects the service in particular - the lack of a single common language makes it difficult for the staff (who mostly speak English quite well) to connect with some of the passengers so I guess they just don't bother connecting with anyone. Add to that the appallingly low-brow daily entertainment (just watch Italian TV game shows to get an idea) and it's no wonder this ship gets lots of bad reviews. However there is much to love about the Musica and the itinerary on our cruise was just about perfect. Cruise with a group of friends and you'll probably love it, or if you (like us) are just using it as a means of transport and somewhere to eat and sleep then you'll be quite satisfied. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Prior to booking our cruise on MSC Magnifica we read the reviews here on Cruise Critic and to be honest, we were very concerned whether this cruise was going to be a good one or not based on the many negative comments left about this ship. ... Read More
Prior to booking our cruise on MSC Magnifica we read the reviews here on Cruise Critic and to be honest, we were very concerned whether this cruise was going to be a good one or not based on the many negative comments left about this ship. I was convinced before we ever left home that this was going to be a miserable cruise. We had been on two Carnival Cruises prior to this one and both of them were very enjoyable. Neither was perfect and we had our little complaints about this or that on both of those cruises but overall the experience with Carnival was very good and if you read the reviews about Carnival Cruises, generally those reviews reflect that most everyone does enjoy cruising with Carnival. So after reading the mostly bad reviews for the MSC Magnifica we were sure that we were going to be greatly disappointed. Getting from the airport to the cruise port was much easier than anticipated. Plaza Roma where you are transported to is a madhouse, but it's a manageable madhouse if you plan ahead and my wife had prepared for this trip very well, so she knew what to do and where to go to do it. She had bought us the necessary boat pass to get us to our hotel on Lido Island because we had arrived a day early. She knew how to get us to the People Mover which got us to the free MSC shuttle bus. Going through their boarding process was no different than any we had experienced on Carnival which is to say, not too bad and the wait wasn't too long. Upon arrival on the ship, a steward took us straight to our room. On our Carnival Cruises we were left to find our own rooms and sometimes that can be a bit confusing as you wind yourself around the maze of rooms. Not to worry on MSC, they take you straight to your room. The ship was clean and it was kept clean the whole cruise. The crew were even painting the ship in every port, keeping it nice and white. The ship was quite compared to our Carnival Cruises. The Lido Deck on Carnival is always crowded and noisy. MSC Magnifica's Lido Deck was quite in comparison. We found many private places to sit and read or to get away from any of the crowded areas. The food on MSC was no better or worse than our two previous Carnival Cruises. We thought the MSC food was very good, prepared fresh and their selections of different types of food was okay. Some of the food they present isn't exactly American-style food but hey, you're on a European Cruise and you should expect changes in the types of food served. Why do we Americans always think that everyone should cater to our specific needs? We are not the only people who live in this world and it's easy to see why some other countries refer to us as "Ugly Americans" because we seem to want what we want and we want it now. A cruise should be a time of relaxation and a time to learn new things and to leave the anxiety behind and just enjoy life as it comes our way. I agree with other reviews that MSC seems to nickle-and-dime you for everything. Americans and folks from Canada get free water vouchers for dinner, your choice of flat or fizzy water. It's a huge bottle so you have plenty. No they don't serve coffee after dinner but for us we didn't really care too much about that. Other countries have to pay for their water at dinner. At lunch you can eat on their version of the Lido Deck Buffet and get free coffee, tea and water. Yes, they serve the tea and coffee in blue plastic mugs. So what? It doesn't affect the taste of the coffee or tea and the plastic mugs kept the drink hot longer than glass cups. Less breakage for the cruise line too. Not an issue for us. The food was varied and tasted good. And at dinner we sat at a table with 3 other couples and we all had a great time talking and enjoying our wonderful dinners. Each night the food selection was nice and was based on some area of Italy so they were giving you a taste of food from various parts of Italy. The shows each night in the main theatre were entertaining and good. MSC doesn't badger you about taking photos at every stop, at every occasion like Carnival does. Each port-of-call was fantastic. All the stops we made were different, exciting, fun and enjoyable. We didn't take any of the ship's offered excursions. We just went our own way and did what we wanted to and that worked out just fine in each port. My wife had planned ahead for each port and what we were going to do and that worked out great without having to spend the extra money on MSC provided excursions. Getting tickets for public transportation in each port was easy and almost painless. Use of the different types of money in each port wasn't too difficult. Our shipboard experience was great. We enjoyed the cruise immensely and would definitely use MSC again. The ship was full of people from everywhere. Australia, Germany, Denmark, Japan, Hong Kong, Italy, Spain and who knows where else. Just listening to all of the different languages might tick some folks off because they weren't speaking English, but most of the time when you spoke to these other people, they would speak English back, so at least they know more than one language, unlike most of us one-language Americans. Everyone always spoke or nodded. All of our contact with the crew was positive and they all spoke English as did almost everyone we talked to in any of the ports. I'm sorry if alot of Americans don't like MSC Magnifica, but we have very little to complain about and we loved our cruise. We enjoyed every minute of it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
So, the long awaited Venice cruise happened and Venice wasn't the highlight ! Flew into Marco Polo airport and had no problems finding the RCI staff who escorted us to the waiting coach and off we went. EMBARKATION : A bit of a ... Read More
So, the long awaited Venice cruise happened and Venice wasn't the highlight ! Flew into Marco Polo airport and had no problems finding the RCI staff who escorted us to the waiting coach and off we went. EMBARKATION : A bit of a scrum but was OK, no problems. We boarded just after noon I think and the cabins weren't quite ready so we headed off for some lunch. CABIN : We pretty much always go for an inside cabin, that way we can cruise again for the same money as if we had a balcony... 2 cruises for the price of one is how I see it. Plus we like insides, I mean its DARK in there people... perfect for sleep, either at night or an afternoon siesta ! Cabin was standard really, large double bed, sofa, TV, blah blah.. However, one thing that did annoy us big time was the fact that the shower had NO SHOWER GEL ! Our cabin steward told us they had run out 3 or 4 weeks previously, but we think that's a puny excuse by RCI, who treat us 'poor' inside folks like 2ND class citizens ! Our friends, in an outside, our friends in a balcony, ALL had shower gel and what is more, they had it replaced whilst cruising ! So, RCI : SORT YOURSELVES OUT, it's penny pinching at its worst. Good job I shave my head lol Also, we found some leftover rubbish in the cabin, a paper coffee cup plus receipts inside it from August... not exactly welcoming. One other thing, dont even think about making a phone call from your cabin..$7.95 per minute ! Overall, happy with the cabin. DINING : We don't really like traditional dining, I wear a suit all day at work and am damned if I am wearing one on holiday, or worse still a tuxedo ! Not a chance. So, we were slightly concerned that we wouldn't be allowed in the main dining room for our 6.30pm sitting. However, it wasn't a problem. On formal nights, most had tuxedos or suits, I had a long sleeve shirt and trousers. I did notice we had a poorly positioned table though, right at the entrance, wondering if that was because of our inside cabin ? Maybe a co-incidence. Now here is how traditional dining can be the best ever, or the worst ever. Our table was for 6. On the first evening there were ourselves and a fantastic couple from California, who became our friends and hopefully will remain so for life... cheers facebook ! No-one else. Same for nights 2, 3, on night 4 we were astonished to see a German couple there. Fine, new friends. However to say conversation was difficult would be an understatement. It was like going to the dentist and it ruined our dining experience. Suffice to say we avoided them on future evenings, and to be fair they avoided us, it was funny to us four that we bumped into them in the Windjammer buffet the evening after... we went there to avoid them and evidentally they felt the same ! Jonny Rockets has a cover charge of $4.95 per person, fair enough we thought we would give it a try. However, ON PRINCIPLE, we refused as when we got there ( and it was deserted ! ) we found out that drinks were extra, as were shakes. NO DRINKS in a diner ! Ridiculous. Dining, pretty good, was happy to get out of the main dining room though to get some 'real' food from time to time.. some of the meals were so posh I didn't know whether to eat them or frame them and have them mounted on my wall. SHIP : Yes, liked the ship. But if you have cruised before you will understand she is similar to a lot of ships these days. Plenty of retail opportunities for those who choose it, 2 storey theatre, Gym, Spa, etc etc. DRINKS : Oh my word. Some of the UK readers of this review may recall an advert on TV some time ago where a guy wanted to purchase something and he picked up the phone and called his bank manager to check he could afford it... well, he was on this cruise !!! Blimey, are drinks expensive or what !? That's not a question guys, trust me its the answer. For the UK drinker, alcohol is priced eye wateringly high. A Fosters 'oilcan', that's a pint to you and me, was about $9, including the outrageous 15% tip for the waiter to walk 100 yards and bring it to you. Now I can sink a pint in roughly 5 seconds when I want to...and it doesn't take a genius to work out that I didn't do so on this occasion. I simply cannot understand the logic of charging so much for drinks onboard, half the passengers weren't drinking anything at all and I reckon that was due to ridiculous cost. RCI, lower the prices, lower the gratuity, more people will booze and your profits will rise. Drinks, total extortion. EXCURSIONS : Continuing my theme of total extortion ( lol )... RCI should re-brand their tours ' Tours for Millionaires '. Or maybe a more realistic, ' over priced, short on time tours for the stinkingly stupid '.. yeah, that would work. Don't do them guys. As usual there are plenty of locals who work really hard to give you the day trip you deserve at half the price RCI want. If you are reading this then I assume you are quite familiar with the internet.. try a quick search. It's not hard ! Alternatively, wait til you dock, and grab someone standing there ! Cruise Critic doesn't list 2 of the places we visited so I will give a brief run down here. KOPER : We booked a SUPERB local guide online with fellow roll call members from this website. Graham, he is English, picked us up at the dock and took 8 of us on one of the best trips I have been on recently. First stop was Ljubljana, capital city of this small country. Stayed there for a while and had time to explore. Next up was Lake Bled, what a place, absolutely stunning. We visited the castle and took in the town. Then onto Vintgar gorge, wow was all I could think of this place. Some brave folks had made a walkway down the gorge that is literally hanging off the cliff ! Amazing. All in all the day was about 8 hours, back in good time for the ship. Thanks Graham ! RAVENNA : Ravenna is one of the few places I recommend cruisers to take the cruise line shuttle as it is a long way from port to town. The shuttle was $15. Nothing to do by port at all. Ravenna itself is home to several UNESCO World Heritage sites, namely the famous Mosaics from the Byzantine era. Very impressive. ENTERTAINMENT : Night one was an excellent Argentinian duo with drums, it doesn't sound much but they were fantastic. Production shows we thought were not so good, they never sang any songs anyone had heard of and on the odd occasion they did they did their own versions that were so unrecognisable we didn't even realise til they almost finished what they were. Poor. They had a Beach Boy tribute on and whilst not really my thing, I thought it was the best night of the cruise. Also that night was a fluorescent show, wow that was superb ! I was very hesitant about that initially but it turned out to be a real highlight. The entertainment staff were pretty good, Abel was the cruise director and he was great. SUMMARY : Enjoyed the cruise. But then again I have never NOT enjoyed a cruise. Would I cruise RCI again ? Well, we put down a deposit onboard with them for a future cruise so I guess that would say something. There are a few things I think RCI should change, namely extortionate drinks prices, extortionate shuttle prices ( $14 to Bari, we WALKED in 10-15 mins along a totally flat promenade ) and expensive excursions. But the savvy cruiser already knows that cruiselines do this and can take steps to avoid them. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
This is the current flagship of the MSC fleet, so the ship itself is great the food is good (except the undrinkable free coffee), the cabin and waiting staff are all absolutely lovely. The issue is with the administration they are ... Read More
This is the current flagship of the MSC fleet, so the ship itself is great the food is good (except the undrinkable free coffee), the cabin and waiting staff are all absolutely lovely. The issue is with the administration they are completely hopeless! The information provided pre-cruise isn't always correct ie we were told to be there at 2pm for boarding, but boarding had commenced hours before that. They don't provide anything useful to assist you in actually getting to the cruise (like there's a train from Venice) & not a mention of the 15 walk from the port entrance to the actual embarkation point, with all your luggage. We'd pre-booked tours via our agent, one of them they cancelled, but they couldn't reimburse us for it on the ship - we have to go back to our travel agent to get a refund. Another they had ceased running but as we chose another tour of greater value they could charge us the difference on the ship, but this was more accidental than planned as they'd not mentioned this before we chose the other tour. The communication around both of these was also contradictory and confusing, one letter (shoved under the cabin door) informed us of the cancellation, another just said to visit the tour desk. In addition the disembarkation process is a disaster. We had to be out of the cabin by 7.30 for a scheduled 9.30 departure. There was fog in Venice so we didn't actually reach port until 12.30. So from around 8.30 to 12.30 we were supposed to sit in our designated areas, during this time we were not offered food or drink and only 1 staff member came in for around 5 minutes to offer any information. Due to the delay there were many passengers (us included) who were close to missing ongoing flight connections, but the staff were unable or unwilling to assist in either organising internet access so flights could be re-booked, or fast tracking the affected passengers disembarkation. For those that had missed flights they couldn't even provide written evidence of the delay for claiming on travel insurance. We managed to get off the boat but were held up at the dock for 2.5hrs waiting for our luggage as they were unable to unload the luggage any faster as it had to be done according to their list (so this must be the normal disembarkation waiting time), even though the luggage was visibly on the dockside on luggage trolleys. Given that our luggage was around half way through their list, the passengers with luggage at the end of the list probably waited 4 hours for their luggage to be available. We couldn't recommend this cruiseline after the terrible disembarkation process, which is a shame as many other features are very good. They are totally unable to cope with any problems, issues that may arise such as the late docking or changes to tours (even when they make the changes). Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Let me start by saying this. If you are thinking of cruising with Princess Cruises, DO NOT! Save yourself the time and money, they ship was terrible. Princess Star was a joke, the food was terrible, and I mean terrible. The buffet was a ... Read More
Let me start by saying this. If you are thinking of cruising with Princess Cruises, DO NOT! Save yourself the time and money, they ship was terrible. Princess Star was a joke, the food was terrible, and I mean terrible. The buffet was a 1.5 out of 10 (the 1.5 is only because breakfast was decent, but that's pretty hard to mess up). The restaurants where you had to pay for the meal were just as bad as the included meals, there were never more than 8 items on the menu and I had to regularly send the food back to kitchen. Steaks were never cooked correctly even in their steakhouse, they even managed to forget to put the sauce on fettucine alfredo. The staff are friendly enough and our cabin steward was great. The drinks were $11 or above for anything alcoholic, $4 for a pop or $7 for a mocktail. The water that they provided was usually brown in color and a bottle was the same price as a pop. Even the cream for your coffee at breakfast was sour. When you poured the cream in your coffee you could see it curdle at the top. The amenities on board were a joke, the swimming pools are only a couple feet deep and no bigger than most hot tubs. There were never enough lounge chairs for guests and people were always waiting for the moment anyone else stood up so they could take yours. They had movies under the stars at night, however for 2600 people they had less than 100 seats. The casino was good enough, exactly what you would expect on a boat, nothing fancy, but they had a couple tables and some slot machines. As for entertainment, they had a magician and a comedy show. The comedian was soo bad nobody even laughed at one of his jokes (not one person). The magician was even worse (I left, but my sister and brother in law stayed). Every morning at about 5 AM, the boat would be getting close to port and would turn on the thrusters. This meant every wall panel in the room would start vibrating to the point were it was so loud we would have to get up and hold the mirrors against the walls. We were supposed to arrive in Mykanos in the evening, however the boat did not have enough fresh water on board and the captain decided to circle around to collect water for the desalinzers instead of paying for water at port. His announcement to the public was "We will be delayed in arriving to Mykanos as our navigator has decided he wants to right his name in the water with the boat". We were told this only a few hours before we were supposed to arrive in Mykanos. Shore Excursions: Generally not bad, the tour guides were a bit weird though. In Croatia, the tour guide referred to the war as an "aggression" and that there general was a national hero and he shouldn't be tried for crimes against humanity by the Hague. (This is what she spoke about for more than half of our 6 hour tour) In Athens they told us Public transit and taxis would be on strike so if we wanted to leave the terminal we had to book with the cruise line transportation. (they told us this the day before we arrive in Athens, fair enough) However, when we arrived at port in Athens there was a long line of taxis waiting there to take anyone in to the city. Princess charged us 4 times the taxi rate. I mentioned Mykanos earlier so I won't talk about that again. Our other excursion was in turkey, that was good enough, however it was supposed to be their only religious excursion, people got so frustrated that our guide wasn't talking about the religious aspects of the tour they left our tour and joined other tours. Now one of the tours we were looking forward to, Hike a volcano and go swimming in hot springs in Santorini. The Volcano was a nice start, it was more like hiking up a rocky hill and wasnt really what I was expecting (I thought we'd see a huge crater in the center or something, but nothing like that). The Hotsprings were NOT HOT!!!!! Even our tour operator told us they are "warm springs" and only 2-3 degrees warmer than the ocean. He mentioned that he didn't recommend going into them, but if we wanted to it was at our own discretion, We were 2 of the 10 that went. the other 30 people stayed on the boat. The water was not even warm, maybe 15-16 degrees Celsius. Our tour description specifically said swim in the natural Hot Springs of Santorini on the side of a Volcano. This was not the case, and one of the biggest disappointments in my view. Our disembarkment tour of Rome was good, worth it for the transfer alone and not having to wait in line at the Vatican. Although most other people on the excursion were mad because the tour guide was rarely audible even on the radio system they had us wear. All in all, it was a terrible cruise. The only good thing about the cruise was the ports we embarked at. We always wanted to bring food on board from the ports but that was against the cruise ships policy. So for the most part on board we played cards (that we bought for $8/pack on the boat) and watched tv in the state rooms. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Booked this Cruise ten months before my 50th birthday. Long time to wait,I know. So, was it worth it ? Yes,yes and thrice yes ! Embarkation at Venice ??? umm lets pass that by. Got there in the end and that's all that matters. ... Read More
Booked this Cruise ten months before my 50th birthday. Long time to wait,I know. So, was it worth it ? Yes,yes and thrice yes ! Embarkation at Venice ??? umm lets pass that by. Got there in the end and that's all that matters. Entertainment on board- staff go over board to make you have a great time. (not literally this is) Key players for us were Natalie, Enrica, Chris and Abel,not forgetting Gio the 'no snooze no loose' bingo caller. Their energy was matched by our enthusiasm. If anyone remembers team one in the Quest - fantastic. I loved being team leader and you lot did me proud. The gang put a variety of entertainment on to suit all - boy do they work hard ! Thanks to Chris for letting me win ' Finish the lyrics' - had to get that umbrella. Only negative was Johnny Rockets - too greasy and no entertainment - sorry but true ! Excursions were superbly organised considering the amount of folk. Mind out though for old American women who feel the need to queue hop. Just say NO ! Tour guides were extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the area. Pompeii great, Pisa wow ! Do Dubrovnik on your own. Ten euros in taxi so don't get the shuttle. We were very lucky with the chappy who made our room up each day. Top class towel animals, unlike our friends who only got a snake. We went to the towel demonstration one afternoon and they were hoping he was there. No luck though - next day same old snake. Apologies to all of those who couldn't quite understand the British songs and sense of humour. We had fun, a laugh, sang our hearts out, tried our best, won competitions - safe to say we saw, we went we played conkers ! Great way to celebrate my 50th !!!!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We chose Costa Favalosa because it was new and big but also because it visited ports we were very keen to see. It was a complete contrast to our most recent cruise - along the rivers from Amsterdam to Budapest with 100 other passengers. ... Read More
We chose Costa Favalosa because it was new and big but also because it visited ports we were very keen to see. It was a complete contrast to our most recent cruise - along the rivers from Amsterdam to Budapest with 100 other passengers. Favalosa holds almost 4,000 passengers and over 1,000 crew. It was close to full on our trip. The ports were all excellent, especially the two Turkish ports of Izmir and Istanbul. Having cruised a number of times before with different companies, we are cruise lovers. We really enjoyed our time on the Costa Favalosa but there were too many down sides to say it lived up to expectations. On the plus side the crew were welcoming and friendly. The embarkation was handled extremely well but disembarkation could be improved a little, particularly communication to passengers about progress. The cabin was generally excellent. The Formula One simulator is a lot of fun and really not too expensive (18 euros for a 15 minute spin). Unfortunately that is about where the positives end. As the ship was in a port every day except one, there were limited on board activities. It is an Italian ship and Italian passengers are in the majority so most of the quizzes etc were in Italian. More effort needs to be made to cater for other languages in such activities. They do have a dedicated English staff member who does hold sessions for English speakers (and the same for some other languages I understand) but it was hard to feel inclusive because of the language issue. We found other passengers, particularly Italians, to be rude and pushy. Getting into and out of lifts was a nightmare with them bustling in and out or refusing to move to allow access or egress. In the meal buffet bars you had to be careful or you were left behind or knocked about. One small issue with the cabins is they have a ridiculous loop of rope for door handles, not big enough to fit a finger through and too small to grab properly, particularly for people with arthritic hands, so you wonder what testing was done on them before the build. Most doors or drawers are hard to open so it is a significant issue, commented on also by many other passengers. The decor of the ship is good rather than great considering the amount that must have been spent on it. Yes it is flashy but I have seen better. It takes a full week to get to know the layout of the ship and unfortunately it is then time to get off. Particularly irksome is the difficulty of moving along decks 3 and 4 where the dining rooms are located. They block off large areas and you find yourself having to go up and down stairs all the time to get around them. The on board shops are probably too high end for the demographics of the passengers and do not provide much variety at all, not sure why they bother. They advertise a section for those items you may have forgotten such as cosmetics, toiletries etc but it has a poor range. The Costa souvenir shop also has a poor range. The prices for things such as photos and drinks is bordering on rip off value - 15 euros for one a convenien ce photo, 3.50 euros for a small can of coke WITH lunch. Nothing other than water is provided free as cold drinks at lunch. We felt by the end of the cruise that Costa's attitude was to get as much money out of the passengers as they could while trapped onboard. The food quality, quantity and variety was particularly disappointing. Of all the cruises we have been on it was by far the worst in all aspects. We expected (hoped) there would be classic Italian cuisine but apart from a really nice pizza late one night, the rest was a disappointing mix of all sorts of cuisine, mostly non Italian and just average quality. The food at the buffets was very ordinary, particularly breakfast and desserts for lunch. Bacon was cooked to within an inch of its life every single day, there was no variety from one day to the next for breakfast or lunch and lunch desserts were usually dry cake with no cream. Night meals were at least in a good restaurant, white linen and waiter service but the quality was just good rather than excellent that it should be (and has been on other cruises). It was disappointing that on the two gala nights, where dress up was suggested, at least half the passengers made no effort whatsoever. For most other ships we have been on the standards have been conveyed to passengers as an expectation and most complied. I'm not talking about dinner suit and tie for everyone but a higher standard than the shorts, t-shirts and sandals many had on. Also there was a lack of any theme nights, again a highlight of other cruises. This contributed greatly to the feeling of a lack of variety in the food. The entertainment was disappointing, both the quality and the theatre. The shows were somewhat disjointed -â€" a Chinese dragon suddenly appeared in a show that had no Chinese theme whatsoever. The best show we saw was that put on by cruise staff at the end of the cruise, very talented crew I must say. For a brand new theatre it has too many blind spots. The first three or four rows upstairs have a rail directly in front of your viewing field at about eye height. They seem to serve no safety purpose (higher rows don't have them) and simply block your view. Too many passengers are allowed to save far too many seats so if you arrive later than about half an hour before curtain time, don't bother. They have a movie theatre on board but it only shows 4D movies at a cost (and for about ten minutes each with a very limited range) and other movies are pay on demand in your cabin -â€" not conducive to a good night out at the movies and very disappointing. On previous cruises the cruise entertainment staff were very proactive in mingling with and engaging passengers. We saw NONE of this with Costa entertainment staff and the Cruise Director wandered the ship hardly talking to anyone apart from a cursory hello as some walked by. The demographics were different to what we expected. I thought there would a clear majority of older passengers but there were a significant number of young families. This cruise had a large number of school age children on it. Apparently there was a deal that they traveled for free. They were all seated with their parents for meals and no separate dining option was available. Although some were a bit unruly at times, running unsupervised in public areas, it was not a huge deal. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We (husband and I) were looking forward to this cruise as a relaxing end to 6 weeks of travelling around Europe. There was so much to see and do, however, that we didn't ever get into total relax mode, but we wouldn't have had it ... Read More
We (husband and I) were looking forward to this cruise as a relaxing end to 6 weeks of travelling around Europe. There was so much to see and do, however, that we didn't ever get into total relax mode, but we wouldn't have had it any other way. From embarkation to disembarkation at the end, we really couldn't fault HAL and we are already scheming towards another HAL cruise in the next year or so. We arrived by train at St Lucia station from Nice and managed our bags ourselves over the bridge (no ramps, whyever not??) to the people mover. From here the ship wasn't well signposted and we found others as confused as we were looking for the luggage drop. However we'll be fine next time. Very pleasant staff on check in, we were delighted to find we had been upgraded to a veranda stateroom (from oceanview, very nice) and took possession of a lovely stateroom which far surpassed our expectations. It was a disabled room which meant plenty of room and we made good use of the balcony at every opportunity, just fabulous entering and leaving port. Thank you HAL! Bags arrived after a couple of hours and we were able to unpack completely and store bags under the beds. Plenty of storage. Met our room steward later, and this was one of the few times we actually saw either of them as we were nearly always out when they worked their magic. We did enjoy the towel critters though, as we were travelling with a little stuffed toy "Spotty Dog" which we take photos of at lots of points on our travels, for our wee 2 year old grandson. When we get home I will create a story with pictures for him about Spotty Dog's travels, and there will be a special chapter on his encounters with the weird and wonderful animals met in our stateroom, created by our stewards. Thank you, boys, we loved them! I took photos each time. We chose anytime dining and had no problems being seated promptly at whatever time we wandered up to the MDR. We usually chose to sit with others and we met some lovely people on each occasion. The meals were extremely good, we thought, always beautifully presented and delicious, and not overly large which I think is good; by the time you've worked your way through three or even 4 courses, that's a seriously good meal. We also tried the Pinnacle Grill which was excellent, the fillet steak here was surpassingly good, and Tamarind which was something quite different and also exceptional. We ate in the Lido a couple of times and enjoyed that too, though it's a different kind of dining. The food was tasty and varied but the servers often provided very small servings unless you asked for a little more. I guess that's no problem, you can always go back, maybe they are saving us from ourselves! We did find that breakfast in the Lido on port days was a busy affair with so many people wanting breakfast at the same time but the service staff were unfailingly calm and courteous and the crowd thinned out after half an hour or so. we discovered that the MDR is the place for a relaxed and leisurely breakfast and went there a couple of times to avoid the rush upstairs. The thing that amazed us on this ship was the number of passengers whose attitude toward the staff was seriously lacking; we witnessed many occasions when stewards were spoken to rudely, snapped at, demanded for things and generally treated in a most arrogant and offhand way. Never once did we see any reaction to this behaviour on the past of ship staff and they should be commended for it. The words 'please' and 'thank you' are entirely missing from many people's vocabulary. I felt like apologising for them sometimes. Port excursions (the ship tours) were relatively expensive, we thought, though sometimes they were the most reliable way for us to see the highlights of a place and be sure of getting back to the ship on time. We joined a group of seasoned travellers on one occasion and had a most enjoyable private full day tour of Istanbul which covered a lot more than the ship tour offered, but once you know the ropes you can plan these excursions with confidence. CruiseCritic forums are valuable here, use the roll call to get to know your fellow travellers in advance. We didn't take wine aboard or buy soda cards etc, choosing to buy the 3-bottle deals of wine in the MDR. The bottles followed us around the ship, wherever we ate and this was great, if a little expensive but we knew it would likely be so. Can't see the point of taking bottles of wine aboard if you can only drink them in your stateroom, better to be socialising in one of the many bars. We met some lovely people this way. Overall we just loved our 12 days on Nieuw Amsterdam and have nothing but praise for the ship, its management and the whole ambiance of the cruise. I can't imagine that any other cruise line could offer more, but then as a first time cruiser I have nothing to compare it with. No matter, we are already looking at another cruise in the future Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
After writing this review, I realized how long it was. But I feel its length only reflects our satisfaction from this voyage, so thank you in advance for your patience if you are going to read. First of all, about the ship itself. Some ... Read More
After writing this review, I realized how long it was. But I feel its length only reflects our satisfaction from this voyage, so thank you in advance for your patience if you are going to read. First of all, about the ship itself. Some time ago we watched a discussion of professionals about the cruise industry. One of them commented: 'The Queen Victoria is perhaps the most beautiful ship in the world'. As far as we can tell, we can share this opinion. Public Spaces --------------------- Some people argue that she is just one in the Vista Class of cruise ships, which comprises of more than a dozen liners scattered among various brands of the Carnival Empire (Holland America, Costa, Carnival, P&O). So, they say, unlike her larger sister Queen Mary 2, Cunard's flagship, she is not one of the kind. First, all VIsta Class ships are wisely designed, with easy passenger flow and comfort in mind, and she and her nearly identical sister, the Queen Elizabeth, are the culmination of this Class. Then, just having a little stroll around reveals how much thought her designers put to create something unique. Brilliant innovations differentiate her from the other Vistas and blend harmonically spaciousness with intimacy. Fine examples are the Winter Garden, whose roof opens in sunny weather, the Disco, the Lobby (although it is based closely in Princess Cruises design) or the marvellous two-story Library with its spiral staircase, the largest afloat after QM2's, having more than 6,000 books. The magnificent Royal theatre reminds of a West End theatre. Of particular interest are its theatre-boxes, another innovation. One or two other cruise lines (NCL for example) offer theatre-boxes, but none offers the elegance and ceremony Cunard offers. I think it is worth telling a bit more about it. You are welcomed at the entrance of the theatre by a uniformed member of the crew, who accompanies you to a little private, 'secret' salon. There you spend your time being served Veuve Cliquot champagne (Queen Elizabeth's official) with chocolates and canapés. When time comes, your escort appears again and guides you to your private theatre-box, where a new bottle of champagne and chocolates await you. The boxes are well designed with nice, uninterrupted view of the stage (with plexiglas railing), and if you want to call your escort a cord is provided, like in fine old houses. In the end a photo of the show is handed to you to commemorate. It was a most civilized experience, worthy of Cunard's reputation. But we found that the culmination of the innovations was the two-story high Queen's Room. Only complaint was that it was cold at times. Otherwise, magnificent decor with elements from Queen Victoria's summer palace. According to Carolyn Spencer Brown, the Editor of Cruise Critic, it is one of the finest rooms at sea. In this most elegant setting Cunard served the afternoon tea (unlike other companies, which use the restaurant for this), and under the accompaniment of strings, harp or piano we enjoyed nice sconces and sandwiches provided by waiters in white gloves. Of special notice was the Viennese Tea in the last day of the cruise, with its magnificent buffet, a joy for both eyes and palate. In the evening the room found its real identity as a wonderful ballroom. Cunard associates itself with fine dancing and it provides the largest stages afloat. It was such a beauty to watch nicely dressed people enjoying dancing here, evoking nostalgically the dance floors of the great ocean liners of the past. Speaking of dressing, one of Cunard's strongest points is the elegant dress code. I know of no other cruise line offering this feature. It creates a unique atmosphere on board, reminding of the Golden Age of shipping. Elegant dressing complements beautifully the marvellous surroundings of the ship, and if you are romantic and nostalgic then search no longer. Cunard focuses on its tradition and offers artefacts from its long history in the Cunardia exhibition. Having been on QE2, which was rich in Cunard history, we would like more artefacts to be exposed here. But it is said that most of these were sold with the ship to Dubai, specifically demanded by the buyers, when QE2's status enabled Cunard to receive an offer that they simply could not resist - 100 million dollars for a 40-year old ship. In the staircases there are works of art showing old Cunard ships, or photos of the numerous celebrities that travelled on them (and some continue even today...). Dining ---------------- We had dinner in the Britannia Restaurant. The restaurant itself is wonderful with rich wood-imitating panels. Compared to other restaurants in the Vista Class it offers more space for passengers, as the passengers in the Grills eat in their own appointed dining rooms. We always prefer second sitting (20:30), as this gives you plenty of time to see the ports and enjoy the sail-aways. Unlike first sitting (18:30), the waiters don't want you to leave the table as earlier as possible to prepare it for other passengers. And there was always enough time to watch the 10:30 show. Food and service by Sandy and Romeo was of the high standards of all our Cunard cruises: excellent. We were so satisfied that we did not feel the need to go to alternative restaurants. Soft Drinks Package ------------------------------------ Cunard's Soft Drinks Package is worth telling, as it is as far as I know the best of its kind in the cruise industry. For a reasonable price ($5.25 plus 15% tax per day) you get unlimited sodas and fruit juices from a wide variety, in all bars and restaurants by the glass. Absolutely worth buying it, it you are a non-alcohol drinker or healthy-seeker like me. Interestingly, orange juice is free in the dining room for lunch and dinner. Fruit juices like orange or cranberry are free 24 hours a day in the Lido casual restaurant. Cabin ----------------------- Our cabin was spacious, tastefully decorated, comfortable and cosy, with a nice sofa and the usual mini-bar. It was kept in immaculate condition by our excellent stewardess Cathy. There was plenty of storage space. When the ship entered service there were complaints about lack of drawers, but this was quickly addressed and we had more storage space than we needed for 12 days. One issue is that there are no tea and coffee making facilities in the room. Following Cunard's classical concept of cruising, these were available by room service. But no problem, as room service was free 24 hours a day, efficient and always arrived quickly. Let alone the wonderful variety in offer if you wished to dine in your cabin (the Thai plate was delicious, for example). Some people complain about the size of the bathroom - and particularly the shower. I guess this expectation comes from the beauty of the rest of the ship. But we found it to be adequate and neatly appointed, with ample shelf space in the sink. Moreover, beautiful Gilchrist & Soames toiletries were provided: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion. Also hair-cup, cotton, ear-cottonettes. Some other companies provide such items only in suite categories. Slippers and sparkling wine in embarkation are provided free for everyone. Also bathrobe to use on board - and you can buy it if you want. Fruit basket is provided, but you have to ask your steward for it. Last, after our smooth embarkation our luggage arrived here without delays. Activities and entertainment ------------------------------------------ As said, Cunard cruising is in the classic way. They promote a sober and refined atmosphere and this was generally the case. No climbing walls or hairy chest competitions by the pool. No drunken people shouting in the cabin corridors at night. No public announcements during the day, or music in corridors or elevators. And no continuous pressing to purchase, as in other cruise lines. Instead string quartets, pianists, harp playing were the norm. Well-thought and informative lectures in the theatre. In the evening beautiful dancing in the Queen's Room, as I said above. Interestingly, there were every night gentlemen hosts there to dance with single ladies. And the Disco was beautiful, too. Although the theatre was stunning, we did not go to many shows - usually preferring a nice lounge after dinner. But the magician was funny and excellent, and the Victoriana show was equal to a lavish production on land. The 'hardware' was amazing and the singers and dancers were talented and worth every praise. Service: ------------- Service throughout the ship was of top quality. The staff was kind and attentive. It was always amazing how those people remembered not only our preferences, but our names as well. Of the many and beautiful lounges that the ship boasts, our favourite was the panoramic Commodore Club, where Czilla and Libia exceeded our expectations with their professionalism and friendliness. Itinerary and shore excursions ------------------------------------------- The itinerary was just beautiful. Venice, Dalmatian coast, Egypt, Turkey and Greece in one piece. A real odyssey. I would like particularly to congratulate Cunard for offering the ports of Volos (Greece) and Dikili (Turkey). From the first you can visit Meteora (a one-of-a-kind spectacle in the world, where centuries-old monasteries are built at the top of huge Canyon-style rocks) and mount Pelion, where natural beauty meets rich ancient mythology. Dikili is perhaps better known as it is near Pergamon, once the capital of a Greek kingdom, built strategically at the top of a mountain and offering breath-taking views. Cunard provided free shuttles from ship to town in many ports, while other companies charge for this service (Dubrovnik, Corfu or Volos for example). In Venice there was a reasonable charge of $20 pp for unlimited ship-to-San Marco Square water-shuttle trips in the two days that we stayed there (compare the $7 one-time Piazzale Roma-San Marco vaporetto ride). It was a pity that our agent did not inform us about it, as we pre-booked vaporetto trips, which were not as convenient as Cunard's shuttle. People complain that prices of tours offered by cruise lines are often excessive, but this is not always the case. I did a little personal search for some of the ports of call, and many times Cunard's prices were similar or even better than elsewhere. Nice examples were the tour with a gondola ride in Venice, or the Turkish baths in Istanbul. Moreover, tours were well organized and informative (as in all our Cunard cruises, I must say). Add safety to that: in Alexandria the ship waited more than an hour for the buses to return from Cairo (something similar has happened to us also on Queen Mary 2 in Chile). Best guides were in Pergamon and Beylerbey Palace in Istanbul, where wireless devices were distributed to everyone, so we could hear the guide clearly. Overall ------------------------ Some people complain that a Cunard cruise is expensive to book, but when considering all that this cruise offered, we found it good value for money as well. Gorgeous ship, fabulous ports, friendly and efficient staff, excellent food and service. Add lovely weather and great travelling companions. When comparing to past Cunard cruises, I think it is getting better through time in many aspects. So, if you ask if we would travel on Cunard again, the answer is obvious: withour second thought. Again, thank you for taking the time to read this long review. 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
12 Days on Mediterranean on board Ruby Princess. My Evaluations: Ship: 5 stars The Ruby is the newest ship of the fleet. It's everything perfect, new, the style is classic and elegant, very nice. Cabin: 4 stars We had a ... Read More
12 Days on Mediterranean on board Ruby Princess. My Evaluations: Ship: 5 stars The Ruby is the newest ship of the fleet. It's everything perfect, new, the style is classic and elegant, very nice. Cabin: 4 stars We had a interior cabin, it was nice. We did 7 cruises in the past, we knew the kind of cabin we booked. Food: 4 stars Everything fresh, good, nice service. The Sabatini and Crown Grill are great. They changed the Sabatini's Menu. really nice. Entertainment: 5 stars Entertainment was great. Lisa Ball is a great Cruise Director. Good production shows, excellent Dancers. Princess did a good job there. The Magician Illusionist David Cats amazing, superb - Great Shows. Ports: 5 stars Great Itinerary. All Europe in 12 days. Venice, Rome, Florence, Istambul. Gorgeous. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Embarkation Our cruise departed from Venice. As we've booked direct with the cruise line we made our own way to the port and we were greeted by an MSC rep with a coach organised the terminal. The bags were taken from us at the ... Read More
Embarkation Our cruise departed from Venice. As we've booked direct with the cruise line we made our own way to the port and we were greeted by an MSC rep with a coach organised the terminal. The bags were taken from us at the terminal and arrived at the cabin shortly later. Embarkation was remarkably well organised and we were on the ship within 20 minutes (actually far quicker than our last Princess cruise). Departure The ship set off on time after the usual lifeboat drill. The views of Venice sailing from the port were spectacular. Food I've read lots of complaints about the food on the ship on previous reviews so wasn't really looking forward to meals. However the food was lovely (although the portions are small - we got around that by ordering more courses). It probably should be noted that this is an Italian ship so meals are all Italian and are in the course sizes that are served in Italian restaurants in Italy - which are small by UK/US standards. We didn't really eat in the self service restaurant other than afternoon tea and an occasional breakfast but the food we had there was good. Service across all the restaurants was excellent. Cabin Our cabin wasn't a standard one as it was squeezed into a space at the end of the corridor. This was actually a bonus as it was larger than the standard ones. It was cleaned twice a day and we had clean bedding every other day. Tips Our cabin was on of the lowest grades so we paid 6 euros a night. This actually seemed quite reasonable as Princess charged us $11 last year for a similar cabin. Drinks have a 15% service charge. Entertainment I can't really say much about this as we didn't go to any of the shows as the times of them clashed with our getting ready for dinner or having our dinner as we were second sitting. Although from speaking to other people on the cruise it seemed they were the usual standard for cruise ships. The day time activities included exercise classes held in the sun on the deck and dance classes (these were all well attended). Ship The ships is lovely and is cleaned constantly. There is also a constant painting programme. Destinations Our cruise went to the Black Sea - so included Bari, Athens, Yalta, Odessa, Istanbul, Olympia, Dubrovnik and returned to Venice. The variety of places visited was the main reason we chose the cruise. The time spent in each location varied however it was long enough. Tours We went on tours in Yalta, Istanbul and Olympia. The tour guides were all local and spoke excellent English. The tours were good value as particularly for Olympia you need someone to explain the ruins. We didn't intend to take a tour in Istanbul but the palace was only open to those on tours on the day we went there so to see that we paid for the tour(opening times are on the Topkapi palace website). Tenders/Dubrovnik This wasn't the fault of the staff on the Opera but MSC had also booked the port for another ship on the same day. We returned to the port at 10:45. Our ship was moving to a tender position (we were told) at 11 but it had already departed when we arrived, to make way for the other larger MSC ship. Presumably this was intended to save port fees for the company. However it meant that we were on a tender which arrived at the Opera soon after it had moved - only to discover that the sea was too rough for the tender to dock. After a couple of quite hair raising attempts to dock we were directed to the other side of the ship and waited for a while, whilst the facilities were set up to dock. The most annoying thing about this wasn't MSC or the rough sea but the back seat drivers on the tender who seemed to believe they knew better than the crew of the ship and the tender! Departure Prior to departure there was the usual briefing and everything seemed well organised. On the morning of departure we were told to leave our cabins by 7am which we did. We had breakfast and went to read in one of the lounges until we reached Venice. We sailed in past St Marks Square, everything seemed fine. Having reached Venice at 9am we went to our departure point. We eventually left the departure point at 11:15am - after having sat there for 4 hours with no drinks and no announcements about what was causing the delay. People around us were catching trains and flights - they had told MSC this but were told that it wasn't urgent enough for them to leave the ship sooner (with hindsight it would appear that if you have travel arrangements and haven't booked excursions or transfers with MSC I'd suggest you don't hand your bags in and take them off yourself). Anyway when we eventually got off the ship we realized what was causing the delay. There were 2 MSC ships offloading passengers in Venice and MSC appear to employ only a minimum number of bag handlers who had been split between these. I actually saw my case coming off the ship as I walked down the steps - so it wouldn't have helped to leave the ship earlier as we would have been waiting on shore. Overall We enjoyed the cruise. The staff were all friendly and helpful but the organisation having arrived back in Venice left a lot to be desired. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We were apprehensive after reading reviews about MSC, but we found that this cruise line suits families very well. There were babies to Grandparents on board, off all nationalities, which we enjoyed. Announcements are made in 5 languages ... Read More
We were apprehensive after reading reviews about MSC, but we found that this cruise line suits families very well. There were babies to Grandparents on board, off all nationalities, which we enjoyed. Announcements are made in 5 languages Italian, English, French, Germany and Spanish. An individual language representative was available to answer any questions. The menus and daily news are printed in 5 languages eg: we were given the English one. Food - yum - Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner you could sit down and be served or go to the buffet. We were seated with a Australian family for the evening meal. We observed that other nationalities were seated with passengers that spoke their language. The food we could not fault. You could have smoke salmon for breakfast every day if you wanted. Lunch eg: hamburgers, pizza, pasta to salads, hot and cold meats, cheese, bread, deserts and fruits. The waiters were friendly and helpful. Entertainment - one night was an Italian Night - we don't speak Italian but we enjoyed the experience. - another evening had circus type acts that needed no language and were wonderful even breathtaking. - We played bingo one afternoon with 3 Italian grandmas who could not speak English but we got on beautifully - it was fun. Shore excursions - we used this cruise as a break from our 4 week European holiday, so we were not inclined to do the shore excursions. I spoke to some passengers who said they enjoyed them. This cruise went to Ancona, Corfu, Santorini, Piraeus, Argostoli, Kotor. Ancona- we chose to stay on board - and rest by the pool. Corfu - we payed to go on the bus to the town (otherwise a long hot walk) and went swimming. Santorini - went to Fiya and watched the sunset, but wished we had gone to Oia (can use public bus) Piraeus - we organised Georges Taxi - good service - booked via their website. Argostoli - not much to see in town but the Info centre at ship has internet service Kotor - a great old wall town - enough time for walking up to the old fort, down for ice cream and coffee. On the ship - you could buy coffee/beer/wine/water/cocktail vouchers. We choose not too do this. The Cocktails were about Euro7, Beer about Euro3, Coffee Euro3. Bottle water at dinner Euro2. But water is free 24hrs a day on the pool deck, as is tea and coffee. Venice -the ship cruises right pass St Marks Square - wow what a sight. Room 9080 - very quiet and and luggage went under the beds ok. Internet - too slow, wait until you get to port if needed. From my 10 year old = I loved it. The mocktails were delicious. I did not go the the kids club because there were no other English speaking kids there. I loved the basket ball court, putt putt golf, table tennis, shuttle cock and arcade games. The people were lovely and kind to me. We bought lollies/candy in the shop. I am dairy intolerant and found lots of food to eat, they made a different flavored sorbet every night - I liked the apple flavored one the best. The pool is great but bring goggles as it is very salty. The ship was lovely, many nice places to sit in quiet if needed. Nicely decorated. We could not fault it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Although I had cruised with Disney Cruise Line before, to me, this was my first cruise. The purpose of this vacation was to celebrate the completion of my MBA at 42 years old. In general, the experience was superb. We visited 8 ports of ... Read More
Although I had cruised with Disney Cruise Line before, to me, this was my first cruise. The purpose of this vacation was to celebrate the completion of my MBA at 42 years old. In general, the experience was superb. We visited 8 ports of call and I can write a book about each of them. All of it positive. The crew on the ship was amazing - in general, this experience was one of a kind and one that I will remmeber forever. Due to a restricted budget, I only took 3 shore excursions, Athens, Santorini and Ephesus. I wish I would have been able to take more excursions, however, I cherished the time spent walking around on my own. The ship had lots of entertainment, great music and drinks - dinner every night (late dinner) was fabulous and we met wonderful people from Switzerland. I believe we made friends for life. This cruise is well recommended to anyone that is looking forward to see other cultures and experience what life was in the past - the highlight of it for me was to walk in Ephesus, in the Virgin's Mary home... it is a blessing to be able to walk those precious path that carry so much meaning to me. I took a private tour for this portion of the trip, it was same money than the cruise shore excursion but with just 4 people... It was worth it as we even had lunch in typical Turkish restaurant. The company is Ekol Travel - they were wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We have previously travelled with mainstream cruise lines such as P&O, Princess, Celebrity, RCI etc and thought we would try a more expensive '5 star' cruise. While many elements of the ship and the cruise were excellent and ... Read More
We have previously travelled with mainstream cruise lines such as P&O, Princess, Celebrity, RCI etc and thought we would try a more expensive '5 star' cruise. While many elements of the ship and the cruise were excellent and merited the extra cost, there were some surprising negatives also. Food varied from acceptable to excellent, with the exception of the Signatures restaurant - pretentious menu and average to poor food! The main restauarant was great for couples with lots of tables for 2 by the windows! The food was often great - lunches in the main restaurant were particularly unusual and excellently flavoured; also the portions were not too big which is great at lunchtime. Occasionally, however, there were some very odd and definitely second class offerings - one afternoon tea, the only sandwiches were cheap potted meat or jam (I haven't been offered a jam sandwich since I was a child when it was definitely food for the poor!!!) The upsides first:- Wonderful cabin - spacious, well-equipped, good balcony, beautifully furnished. Some things we particularly liked were the curtained area for sitting, separated from the bedroom - this allowed me to get up earlier than my husband and to read and use the balcony without disturbing him!; the walk-in closet with lots of hanging space and drawers; big bathroom with very big shower area, lovely toiletries and lots of space. (We had a cabin with only a shower and this gives you lots of room if, like us, you do not want a bath. Great staff - friendly throughout the ship, including the officers; nothing too much trouble; efficient and helpful. Even the tour staff were good and this is often one area where cruise ships are poor!! Lots of space in the ship - no queues for anything, even the buffet restaurant had lots of tables whenever you wanted to eat. The ship felt quiet and uncrowded throughout the cruise - very relaxing. No attempts to keep selling to you, which is unusual - no photographers constantly in your face trying to take photos and sell them to you, no pressure to use the shops. This is all in line with the fact that everything is included so you don't constantly have to show your cruise card. At the same time, the staff were great in keeping you supplied with food and drink - no need to chase them at all. It makes for a very relaxing time. Tours were good - no feeling that, because they are free, they are a lesser class than those sold on other cruise ships. Ports of call were all great - some a bit busy but that is the only possible negative, and is not RSSC's fault!! Downsides:- The tours were all early morning and nearly all scheduled at similar times. This made a few issues - overcrowding and lines waiting to disembark. The worst point, however, was that the mealtimes were not adjusted to take account of the tours. So, the restaurant was only open in the morning as you were reporting to the tour - you could only have a sit-down meal if you were staying on the ship! You had to use the buffet (sometimes cold food!!) or have room service which was often the only practical option. Similarly, you had to rush back at the end of the tour if you wanted to be served because many of the tours ended at 1.00-1.15 and the restaurant closed at 1.30. Even the buffet closed at 2.00 so you could not have a look round the port after the tour if you wanted to eat. There was always room service but that always takes time to order and receive, and the choice is limited. Generally, the availability of food was the poorest I have come across on any ship. Apart from room service, there were gaps in the morning and afternoon where you struggled to find food. This meant you had to keep an eye on the time to ensure you did not miss a meal - not what you want on a cruise. One morning we got up at 9.00 (hardly sleeping in!!) and found only one place we could eat cold food!! It would be nice when you get back to the ship to find cold drinks and cold towels available - they do this on Celebrity which is a cheaper option. A bit galling to be moored next to a cheaper cruiseline and seeing them being regaled with cold towels!! The public areas looked a bit tired to us and no wow factor. Downsides may sound a bit picky but this cruise is expensive and is meant to be top class so I think you should expect excellence! Overall, a very good experience but I think RSSC should travel on some other lines to see how it could be improved to 5 star all round Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
The Norwegian Jade has received a few comments which in my opinion are very unfair. We sailed on a 7-day cruise which left Venice on 17th September for the Greek Isles. To offer some background the two of us are experienced cruisers, ... Read More
The Norwegian Jade has received a few comments which in my opinion are very unfair. We sailed on a 7-day cruise which left Venice on 17th September for the Greek Isles. To offer some background the two of us are experienced cruisers, including NCL, and our most recent cruise was on the Queen Elizabeth to the Baltic in May. The reason for the Queen Elizabeth cruise was to treat ourselves to the creme de la creme. Not so - we were very disappointed. I will not go into detail my review is on the QE site. However, my bottom line for reviewing a cruise is to be fair and open minded, not to winge for the sake of it, and above all else to state whether I have received value for money. So on to the Norwegian Jade. There were 8 of us, son and partner, daughter and partner, my sister and her husband, and us 2 (both in our 60s). The youngest of us was 28 and the oldest 83. We had planned this holiday for some time as we wanted to spend time together as a family and we hoped there would be something for everyone to enjoy. We could eat together if we wished and go off in pairs if that was what we wanted. We had spent a week on Lake Garda before transferring to Venice to board the Jade. It was unusually hot for the time of year, 30+C every day and it was relief to be on the boat with air conditioning. Having thought very carefully I cannot find anything to complain about which relates directly to the way the ship is run or to the NCL management. Our four staterooms were all clean and spacious and the stewards happy and friendly. The food in all restaurants which we used was of a very good quality and plenty of it. It was interesting that our two older members preferred the Garden Caf buffet for breakfast and lunch because the choice was enormous, they could see exactly what they were choosing and they could take as much or as little as they wanted. My preference is to sit and be served but hey, that is just me. The youngsters enjoyed trying everything. We all had lunch in the Blue Lagoon on one occasion which was perfect. Daughter and partner tried the Teppanyaki which they enjoyed. We had one special evening where we booked Le Bistro for my sisters 83rd birthday. The staff set up a table for 8 in the middle of the restaurant and we were treated like royalty. The food was delicious and the staff could not have done more to make it a very special occasion for our very special person. Half way through the meal in Le Bistro I managed to break a tooth. I finished my meal with a great deal of care and then headed to Guest Services. I already knew there were no dental facilities on the ship although they asked me if I wanted the medical people to look at it. I declined because at that stage although it was uncomfortable I was not in pain. They then offered to book an appointment for me with a dentist in Mykonos the next morning. I said I would see how I was overnight and let them know. I did not have to wait to contact them, they phoned me first thing in the morning to enquire how I was and to ask if I wanted the dental appointment ashore. I decided to wait until I got home to see my own dentist but I could not have received better attention for something which, in the great scale of things, was a minor problem. I really felt that they genuinely cared. The entertainment on the ship was superb. Very professional singers and dancers. Not sure about the crew night with the fountains (if you were there you would understand) but again you can please some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time. People were moaning about the extra tax that was charged in the shops. It was explained to us that this is a VAT which is imposed by the Italian government which they have to charge because the ship sails from Italy and returns to an Italian port. Nothing NCL can do about it. Likewise when we took the shore excursion to Olympia another unbearably hot day when we returned to the coach park there were a large number of coaches and although we found our coach ok, one couple got on the wrong coach and it took some time for them to sort themselves out. We were very uncomfortable in the heat and quite irritated with the young couple because it is not rocket science to be able to tie up the number you are wearing on your chest with the number displayed at the front of the coach. My point here is that this was not NCLs fault so I wouldnt dream of complaining about it. To sum up we all had a really enjoyable time. My compliments to the captain and the crew of the Jade who run a very happy ship. Did we get value for money. Absolutely. Would we sail with NCL again. Yes we would. Would we sail Cunard again. Definitely not. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We flew into Venice the day we were to board the ship. We'd had an overnight flight from the US. That evening we went down to St Mark's Square and strolled around to see the sights. The ship had arranged a ferry ride from the ... Read More
We flew into Venice the day we were to board the ship. We'd had an overnight flight from the US. That evening we went down to St Mark's Square and strolled around to see the sights. The ship had arranged a ferry ride from the ship to the square and back for a small amount (I forget) and it was very convenient and a good start to the trip. We had an inside cabin and it was fine for sleeping, We normally get a balcony cabin on a cruise, but decided that we'd be so busy on this cruise that we would not pay for the upgrade. This was our second princess cruise. They remembered my husband had traveled with them before, but not me, which is interesting because I do all paperwork for the family. The next morning we left the port an traveling down the canals, breathtaking view, headed out to see. Next day was at sea, then Athens. Our shore excursions were arranged half through the ship, half though private tours. The private tour we signed up for were through Cruise Critics Roll Call site. Met some great people this way and had much more individual experience. I would recommend this approach. You pay at the end of the tour in cash, generally Euros. And don't forget to tip. Tipping in Europe is generally not as high as the US. Athens was a private tour and we were very busy. You should train for this trip. There were a lot of stairs, marble stairs, and crowds everywhere because you bring your own crowd when the ship arrives. Our small group was 10 people and a minibus that could go places the bigger buses couldn't. We had a very busy and great day, also it was hot, but better than summertime. He also got us back to the boat with time to spare and was very knowledgeable. My husband picked up a bad cold on the flight over so we missed the next stop. That day was when we missed not being in a balcony cabin since he basically slept most of the day, then was OK. Next stop was Istanbul. The water shuttle from the ship was not owned by Princess and we were told this. However I think some people were still surprised that they had to pay for the refreshments they were serving and my husband got incorrect change in the Turkish currency that looked very much like the correct Euro currency would have. Be careful. We were warned at every port to watch for pick pockets. We used a ships tour for this port and they did a great job. The ships tours were the only tours that had access to Topkapi castle and we wanted to see it and its harem. Again there was a lot of walking over stones and a warm day, but beautiful sun. We were back to the water shuttle for the last ride. Should have been 20 min. It took close to 2 hours with the ship not wanting to make a decision to leave people, then making the decision, then when we were approaching the ship reversing the decision and sending us back to get the late people. All well we were trapped on this shuttle with heavy gas fumes and no rest rooms (my husband finally located one-they weren't marked). This left a bad taste on the day and no apology was given for the mess. When we complained about this we were told they didn't own the shuttle; however they did hire them for this service so I believe they are responsible for managing this service. Next day was at sea, then on to Rome and Florence and Naples, etc. We enjoyed this cruise based on the itinerary but the ship board activities were so,so. The food was just OK. We had opted for the Late dining option and food was frequently lukewarm when served. Selections were not particularly interesting. We tried the grille restaurant and the steaks were good, but the fish tasted reheated. This was a full ship. In fact friends of ours tried to sign on late and were told there was a waiting list. Finally we enjoyed the cruise and saw a lot, but left as not fans of Princess. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011

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