Second Mate

Joined: 02/10/2014
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About JBMN


JBMN's Past Cruises

Carnival Inspiration

April 2017 - Carnival Inspiration to Mexico

Had a great little spring break

First, realize that you are going on a smaller, older ship and as a result you shouldn't expect all the amenities of others in the fleet.  This was our first Carnival cruise, but we have cruised quite a few times.  The stateroom attendant was great.  Kept the room tidy, brought us ice, even gave me a couple of coupons for my birthday.  The food was good, not the best I've had but very reasonable.  Our waitstaff was great, we had fixed dining.  Entertainment was good for being a smaller ship.  The cast had talent and was entertaining.  Our grandkids enjoyed it.  The comedians were good too.  

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Empress of the Seas

December 2016 - Empress of the Seas to Caribbean - Bahamas

Little ship with a big heart.

We got a great discount rate on this cruise that we couldn't pass up as our Christmas present to each other.  We realized this ship was the smallest ship in the fleet, and I think the oldest.  It had a refurbish in 2016.  We last sailed on RCCL on Allure in February and didn't have a great experience.  As a result our expectations were set conservatively.  


Given the rate we decided to book a mini-suite.  We were on deck 9, and for those that have cruised before, a mini-suite on Empress is essentially a balcony stateroom on the bigger ships.  We found the stateroom to be well appointed, clean and had ample storage (although it could have used a few more hangers).  Our stateroom attendant was excellent.  It seemed like he greeted us in the hallway every time we came or went and never once was a disturbance and the room was always tidy.  


The ship itself is a smaller ship.  As a result there are only three places to eat (Windjammer and Starlight Dining Room and the extra cost Chops); there are only 3 nighttime bars on the ship (Schooners, Viking Lounge, Boleros).  We personally didn't find that to be a big problem.  Given it was a 4 night cruise we were a little worried it would be a 'party cruise', but it seemed reasonably tame.  Maybe the limited bar selection helped.  We went to Schooners at midnight on Friday night and the piano man was playing to 6 guests.  We found the food in the main dining room to be good, not exceptional.  There were no WOW moments in the food itself.  However our waiter (Dave) was phenomenal.  He would recommend a dish each evening from the menu.  In the past I was always skeptical about the motivation for their recommendations, but Dave actually sampled and provided good insight. He was always on his game, keeping us fed and happy.  Windjammer was fine, we always found a seat whenever we were there (breakfast, lunch).  The brunch in the MDR was by far the best meal we had.  Sushi, excellent deserts, etc.  


Our ports were Key West and Nassau, Bahamas.  At Key West we took the trolley around the island.  It was informative and we thought worth the $25 ticket price.  You can get on and off at about a dozen stops.  We did find the trolley's were quite full, so sometimes you might have to wait for another one if it's full.  We also toured Hemingway's house and say the 6 toed cats.  It was $14 and we felt again it was worthwhile for the price.  In Nassau, we went to Blue Lagoon for a beach day.  It's about a 30 minute boat ride to this private lagoon/island.  They have segway tours, dolphin encounters, water slides/rafts, snorkeling, etc.  We just did the beach day, which included a lunch (burgers, chicken, etc).  We really liked the beaches, secluded from the wind if you need to be, nice sand, easy in and out of the water.  Our only complaint is that for $80 we really only had about 3 hours on location and it could have easily been 4-5 hours.  


Since it was a short trip and only one sea day, we didn't spend a lot of time poolside.  There is only one pool and three hot tubs under the same canopy.  The hot tubs were usually near full, but we could get a seat.  Deck chairs were not easy to find, especially if you needed more than 1-2.  


The entertainment was a notch lower than the bigger ships, but still enjoyable.  We had a tribute to showgirls headline on the first and last night, a comedian on the second night and a Elton John impersonator the third night who was by far the best.  Since the comedian was doing the main theater he had to be PG and I think it didn't really suit his normal routine, but he was ok.  


All in all, this was a really fun cruise.  On the last night the cruise director (Carlos) described Empress as the little ship with the biggest heart.   We really thought that was an accurate description.  The staff/crew seemed friendly and went out of their way to provide service.  We would definitely sail on the Empress again.  

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Allure of the Seas

January 2014 - Allure of the Seas to Caribbean - Western

Best cruise ever!

We had a great time on this cruise.  Unfortunately the trip started with my brother and sister-in-law not being able to go due to a last minute illness.  But my wife and I carried the torch and had a great time.  We had been on Oasis of the Seas a year earlier and the ships are practically the same.  The entertainment was top notch!  The food was very good.  The ship was clean and beautiful.  Spend time with Roland and Pedro in the casino bar and enjoy their service at discounted prices during happy hour!  


We did shore excursions in Jamaica and Cozumel.  In Jamaica we rode and swam with the horses.  It was a great time!  George was our guide and did a great job.  We have horses so were used to riding, but even the first timers had a good time.  In Cozumel it was the xrails to Jade Caverns.  Jade caverns was awesome, we jumped from the top and swam through it.  Beautiful hideaway.  The xrails themselves I think are more aligned to beaches than the rough roads to the carvern.  We had several in our group of about 10 xrails breakdown.  Waiting for repairs, or a substitute machine was annoying.  I think they should consider Rangers or RZRs with better suspension to handle those roads.  

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JBMN's Tips

Ensenada, Mexico - We did a horseback riding/blow hole booking once we got on shore. It was a good experience and cheaper than booking on the boat.
Allure of the Seas Allure of the Seas - there are a lot of places to eat breakfast, try them all, including the made to order eggs up at the sports deck

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received a helpful vote on their Allure of the Seas cruise review - 2nd time not as good as the 1st

received a helpful vote on their Allure of the Seas cruise review - 2nd time not as good as the 1st

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Inspiration cruise review - Had a great little spring break

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Inspiration cruise review - Had a great little spring break

received a helpful vote on their Empress of the Seas cruise review - Little ship with a big heart.

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Inspiration cruise review - Had a great little spring break

received a helpful vote on their Empress of the Seas cruise review - Little ship with a big heart.

reviewed their Mexico cruise on Carnival Inspiration and gave it 4 stars!

added Apr 3, 2017 cruise on Carnival Inspiration to their profile.

shared a quick tip for Carnival Inspiration"There aren't hair dryers in the room, so bring your own. "