Very Nice Cruise
For starters, our Suite was upgraded automatically by Royal Caribbean (Owner's Suite), and it was a very nice surprise. We love cruising out of Sydney, and always plan on a few extra days in the city. This cruise was 12 nights, with 2 stops in Fiji, Vanuatu, Mystery Island, Isle of Pines, and Noumea. The beaches on Mystery Island and the Isle of Pines were absolutely beautiful.
The Explorer is still a very nice ship, despite it's age. The food in the Dining Room and Windjammer Buffet was very good...pretty consistent with the other ships in the fleet. Chops Grill was outstanding, and our waiter, Alfredo, made it a great experience. Our Suite Concierge, Elizabeth Wong, was the best we have ever experienced. Wonderfully engaging, pleasant, and knowledgeable. In addition, the bar service provided in the Lounge by Jose and Eka was excellent.
Both embarking and disembarking were a breeze. Finally, our agent, Patricia Opera, was once again outstanding in every way. Patti has helped us select and plan cruises for several years, and we use her services exclusively. We would highly recommend her to all cruisers...new and experienced.
Very good Spring Break
My wife and family are experienced cruisers...25 or so in the last 13 years. Although we have used most of the big cruise lines, including Carnival, we usually opt to go with Royal Caribbean. However, with 8 of us cruising (including our three grandchildren 7 and under) during the peak of Spring Break, it was more affordable for us to go with Carnival. We really liked the itinerary of this particular 8 day cruise, as it included some ports we had not seen before.
All of our 5 previous cruises with Carnival had been good, but we had always found the service, food, and ship to be one step behind Royal Caribbean. We were surprised and impressed at how much better our overall experience was this time.
The Breeze is a newer ship, carrying around 3500 passengers. Carnival has done a nice job with their deck plan layouts, and public space amenities...specifically the nice assortment of casual dining options. During sea days, when we are spending most of the day by the pool, it's nice to have food venues other than just the buffet. Their poolside hamburger stand was absolutely outstanding...the best burgers and fries we have had on a cruise ship. They also offer a taco and burrito stand (including breakfast burritos) there. On Deck 5 they have barbecue stand that was very good as well. I would give them an A+ for their casual dining options and quality.
For the 8 of us, we had 2 balcony cabins, and one ocean suite. My wife and I had the suite, and it was a nice place for the family to congregate. It was very nice, with a pull out sofa, Jacuzzi tub, dual bathroom sinks, and a larger balcony. The balcony cabins were typically small, but adequate. The stateroom service for all of us (our rooms were not together, and we all had different stateroom staffs) was really great...again, I would give them an "A".
Our grandchildren loved the childrens program on the ship, and between that and the childrens pool area (which included 3 water slides and many other fun features) we were never at a loss for something to keep them occupied. Grade "A".
For the rest of us, we all enjoyed the cruise director's activities. He was truly one of the best we have experienced. Great sense of humor, and he did a great job of "setting the tone" for his entire staff. Grade "A".
Our dining room experience was probably the least impressive part of the cruise. I had assumed that a family of 8, including 3 children ages 2, 3, and 7, that we would have had a table to ourselves. Unfortunately, they seated us at a table for 10, with a nice couple that only spoke Spanish. It was extremely awkward for us, and I am sure it was for them as well. And, although our wait staff was very courteous and hard working, the food was average at best, and often served lukewarm. I appreciated the waiters bringing the kid's food out immediately, without being asked. However, the rest of the meal was always very slow, and was likely the reason our food wasn't as hot as it should have been. For our family, the Dining Room experience is always one of the most important parts of our cruise. Overall, on this cruise, it was a major disappointment. I would give it a grading of C-.
The embarking process was quick and easy...aided by the fact that we had a suite, and that gave us preferred boarding. The luggage handling was very strange. This ship uses the public elevators to handle their luggage delivery. On the first and last day, it was nearly impossible to use an elevator, or even to walk through the elevator vestibules, as they were packed with luggage carts. Very odd. I'm not sure if they have elevator banks just for their crew (as does every other ship we have been on) or maybe they weren't adequate. Our luggage did not arrive at our rooms until around 8pm the first night.
The disembarking process was an absolute nightmare. We elected to carry off our luggage (they call it "self assist"). We always have late morning flights, and this ensures we have plenty of time to get to the airport. Normally, passengers who do this can leave the ship immediately after it is cleared by the Port Authority. This ship, however, requires you to wait until your deck is called before you can carry your luggage off. In our case, we had to wait over 2 hours, sitting in the stairwells (none of the elevators were available) dragging our luggage, and trying to keep our little ones under control. There has got to be a better way of handling this process. I would rate it an "F".
Even with some obvious disappointments and/or opportunities, I would rate our overall cruise a B+. And in comparison to Royal Caribbean, in total they are very close...surprisingly close, and 10-15% cheaper.
Great Family Cruise
This was our annual family cruise, and we traveled with our grown children and 3 grandchildren, ages 1, 2, and 6...8 total, in three staterooms on level 9. We always use , because of their outstanding cruise specialist, Patti Opera. We are experienced cruisers, and prefer Royal Caribbean, as we have found that they deliver a consistently great cruising experience. The itinerary included St. Maarten, St. Kitts, San Juan, and Labadee. We loved the fact that it was an 8 day cruise...we felt the extra day was a "bonus." As always, there were a few "standout" members of the cruise staff that made our cruise memorable. In this case, it was our entire dining room wait staff. Our waiter and assistant waiter, Randy and Julius, were outstanding. The anticipated the needs of our grandchildren, and brought out their food early each meal to keep them occupied and satisfied. The Head Waiter, Vivek, was the absolute best Head Waiter we have experienced. He was personable, and highly involved with our service every evening...ensuring we were all (including the kids) enjoying our dining experience. He even performed magic tricks for the grandkids. Overall, another outstanding experience with and Royal Caribbean.
Another great experience on Royal Caribbean
I am an experienced "cruiser", and this was my 4th of the year. My son and I decided to take advantage of a "last minute" offer on Freedom of the Seas, visiting St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Coco Cay. We have been on the Freedom before, as well as its sister ship the Independence. It is a large ship, but is easy to navigate, and we never felt crowded. I greatly appreciated the "no smoking" section of the Casino. Our dining experience at Chops Grill was outstanding. Our stateroom attendant was "Susie", and she was terrific. The only "hiccup" was that the specialty coffee machine in the Diamond Lounge was out of service for most of the week...something I really missed.
First time on the Allure
Although we are seasoned cruisers, and have been on many Royal Caribbean ships, this was our first time on the Allure. We had read reviews and seen pictures, and while the ship looked beautiful, we had some concern that it might be just too big. Still, we thought it would be worth a try, so we booked adjoining balcony cabins on the 9th deck. From the moment we entered the ship we were blown away by the spacious public spaces. It was around 1 pm when we boarded, and we went directly to our cabins where our luggage had already been delivered. We unpacked, and then went to the pool deck to relax and let my grandson enjoy the H20 Zone (kids pool area). The entire week was spent relaxing, exploring the ship, enjoying Nassau, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas. Our dining room service and food was outstanding, as was our cabin attendant. The ship was at full capacity, but with the exception of the Windjammer (buffet) it never seemed crowded. After having a difficult time finding a table there, we decided to take advantage of the information available on the cabin TV which told us which restaurants were busy and which had immediate seating. There are a tremendous number of complimentary dining options, and we found all of them to be great. The ship is stunning...Central Park and the Boardwalk were great places to relax and people watch. The Allure is a very large ship, but still had the Royal Caribbean "personality" ...just with many more venues. One final point...the childrens program (Adventure Ocean) is absolutely outstanding. This is my grandson's 4th Royal Caribbean cruise, and his favorite part of cruising is being able to go there. If there are any potential cruisers out there that are apprehensive to take small children on a cruise, take our word for it...they will have a ball!
Great Transatlantic Cruise
We are very experienced cruisers, with most of our experience on Royal Caribbean...we prefer this line because they have consistently delivered a great cruising experience. This was out second Transatlantic cruise with Royal Caribbean. Our first one was very good, but this one was great. The Serenade has been recently refurbished, and the entire ship sparkles. From the moment we boarded, were impressed with the friendliness of the staff. In fact, we were extremely impressed with the entire crew, from the officers to the various service teams. This was our first cruise as a "Diamond Club" member, and really enjoyed the various amenities that status offers. This ship is smaller than most of our previous cruises, but still has all of the features that larger ships in the fleet have. The food was outstanding, and much better than our previous transatlantic. We dined in all of their specialty restaurants at least once, and they were all wonderful...with the exception of "Rita's Cantina", which seemed like a mediocre Tex-Mex restaurant you could find in any city. The Main Dining Room food and service was among the best we have ever had. We liked the fact that we had a stop in the Caribbean before making the crossing. St. Maarten is one of our favorite ports, and was a nice day ashore before the 6 consecutive sea days. We had never been to the Canary Islands or Spain, so this itinerary was great for us. We ended in Barcelona, and spent an additional 4 days in that spectacular city. For those looking for a great ship, staff, and itinerary, this one would be tough to beat.
Another nice cruise on the Navigator.
This was the third time we had cruised on this ship. The first was in 2003 when the ship was only a couple years old. Last year we took a 16 day Transatlantic, and enjoyed both immensely. This time, we took advantage of last minute pricing. The ship was just refurbished in December of last year, and looks great with all the new carpet and other fresh touches. The new Sabor restaurant is outstanding. On this trip, there seemed to be many crew members in training, and although the service we received was great, there seemed to be something "off" with them. There seemed to be morale problems...you noticed it when they weren't engaged with a guest. Not many smiles. Also, they need to update the mattresses and the pillows...both are too hard for my taste. I am a big fan of RCCL, and cruise with them pretty much exclusively. Although this cruise was not the best one I have taken with them, it was still significantly better than those I have taken with other cruise lines. And I would still recommend them highly.
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received a helpful vote on their Voyager of the Seas cruise review - Very Nice Cruise
received a helpful vote on their Independence of the Seas cruise review - Great Family Cruise
received a helpful vote on their Voyager of the Seas cruise review - Very Nice Cruise
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