WhodatRalph

WhodatRalph
Second Mate

Hometown: Ridgeland, MS
Joined: 01/11/2015
7
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3
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WhodatRalph's Past Cruises

Allure of the Seas

October 2016 - Allure of the Seas to Caribbean - Eastern

Not a bad cruise, but not a great cruise

Our cruise on the Allure of the Seas was an okay cruise but I would not call it a great cruise.

 

The ship is MASSIVE and even with 1 week we did not get to see everything it had to offer.  Make sure your shoes are comfortable because you will be walking a lot.

 

Embarkation was quick (less than 30 minutes) but it was hectic outside the terminal.  Here is a tip.  Do not expect to get in your cabin before 1pm.  Once in our room (we had a Superior Ocean view with Balcony) we were surprised at how small it was.  It has to be one of the smallest rooms we have stayed in.  There was very little space to walk by at the foot of the bed and the placement of the bed (and nightstand) by the closet made it difficult to get to anything on one side of the closet.  The balcony was spacious but they could have had the chairs which lay back on the balcony.  We met our room attendant and said hello to her a few times in the hall but the service she provided was nothing special.

 

We had purchased the adult replenish drink package (the one including sodas, bottled water, specialty coffee, etc.) before the cruise and the SeaPass card was marked with "Coca Cola" in it.  The first time we tried to get a bottle of water they were going to charge us for it.  I went to guest services and found out I had to get another sticker for the card.  So, if you did purchase a drink package make sure you get your card properly marked.

 

The food was, at best, mediocre.  It was mostly bland and tasteless and I cannot remember anything that I ate in the main dining room other than Chicken Cordon Bleu and some kind of steak.  The dining room staff was also not that special.  The burgers at Johnny Rocket's were okay as were the hot dogs at the dog house on the boardwalk.  Ate breakfast at the Windjammer one morning and it was horrible.  The Solarium Bistro breakfast was better.  We tried the roast beef sandwiches (which people seemed to rave about) but they were nothing special with little taste.  We did go to Samba one night and it was different.  If you go there go hungry and do not go overboard on the appetizers.  You will be served NINE (that's correct, 9) different kinds of meat, some were okay, some were not.  We gave up after 7 meats.

 

The entertainment, all of it, was outstanding.  Make sure you make reservations in advance though.  Also, the Amber Theater and Studio B get a little chilly (and the chairs in the Amber Theater are not that comfortable).

 

During sea days we spent most of our time on the pool deck (in the Solarium) or in the casino.  The casino was not that bad, smokewise.  I have been in worse.  The problem with the Solarium (and the pool deck on Deck 15) is that they have the glass going from deck to ceiling so it almost completely blocks the sea breeze.  You have to go to Deck 16 for that and it was cramped up there.

 

We booked shore excursions in Nassau (snorkeling at Rainbow Reef) and St. Thomas (St. Johns Honeymoon Beach).  The description for the Honeymoon Beach excursion did not include the fact that not only do you take a ferry to St. Johns but once there you take a 15 minute bus ride to the park where the beach is at and then have to walk another 15 to 20 minutes on a rocky path to get to the beach (and repeat the process to return).  Once there, they only had water and some sandwiches to purchase.  So a 6 1/2 hour excursion only allowed about 3 hours on the beach.

 

Debarkation also went quickly.  From the time our group was called to the time we got to our car was approximately 45 minutes, which is not too bad.

 

In summary, we enjoyed our cruise but feel that maybe this ship was just too big for us.  We probably like the smaller ships better.  Hopefully the cruise lines will continue building and maintaining the smaller ships (how you can you call a ship that can carry 2000 passengers small is unreal) instead of building bigger and bigger ships.

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Carnival Dream

November 2015 - Carnival Dream to Caribbean - Eastern

Cruising on the Dream

It has been a few days since we debarked from the Dream so now is a good time to write a review.  First, regarding the smells on the Dream that have been mentioned in previous reviews.  There were a few areas on the ship where there were offensive odors but they did not remain in those areas.  Makes me wonder what really caused them.  That is the end of talking about odors.

The embarkation process went fairly smoothly other than our Sail and Sign cards not being ready even though we booked the cruise in April.  We had priority boarding so we were actually on the ship shortly after 11am but the cabins were not ready.  One thing we found out was that boarding that early causes your luggage to be delivered late (or so we were told by our room steward).  No big deal.  I was disappointed in the lack of formality in the muster drill.  People were talking and drinking the whole time and one person who had a child under 12 lied about the child’s age so she would not have to wear the wristband (more about passenger behavior later).

The food available on the Lido decked was mediocre to terrible.  The burgers were dry (so missed Guy’s Burger Joint on this cruise) and the buffet food (what we tried) lacked any flavor.  Even the Oceanside Grill was a disappointment.  It is not actually barbecue (it is what some refer to as faux-cue) but that was not the problem.  It was dry and tasteless.  We never tried the Mongolian Wok due to the constant long lines.  Maybe they were good.  We ate in the main dining room every night except the night we went to the steakhouse.  The steakhouse was okay, not great.  Maybe we ordered the wrong items.  The food in the main dining room was pretty good with the desserts being the star of the meal (warm chocolate melting cake and Grand Marnier Souffle were the best).  The stars of our cruise, though, were our dining room staff.  Our head waitress, Nantha, and her team made us feel special as did the hostess, Andreja.  We do not know why but she gave us special treatment all week making sure we were quickly seated (we had Your Time Dining) and personally came to our table to check on us a few nights.  She even saw that we got a special dessert the last night of the cruise.  So kudos go out to our dining room staff.  The last thing about food was that the Seaday brunch was really good.  Make sure you try it.

The shows and comedians were not the best that we have experienced with Carnival but were entertaining.  We loved the female comedian at the beginning of the cruise, Caroline Picard.  Dan Chopin was pretty funny.  Mark Simmons comedy was a little too vile for me.  The singers/dancers put in a good effort but the shows just lacked some energy compared to others I have seen.

First port of call was Key West.  It rained just as we arrived and that jacked up the humidity.  However, unless you are interested in some history or want to go bar hopping there is really not a lot to do in Key West.  Next was Freeport.  It also rained there as we arrived.  A number of shore excursions (including what we planned to do) were cancelled due to rough waters so we did a beach getaway and found out the waters were rough.  They were also a little cooler than I expected.  Finally we went to Nassau and did an excursion at Atlantis.  It also rained as we arrived and remained cloudy most of the day.  Atlantis is HUGE and really requires a multi-day stay to see and do everything there (it is now on our future vacation list).  One thing did happen as we were leaving the ship that morning that disappointed me.  When leaving we asked the shopping person, Emily, for information on the shops in Nassau (they are right outside the port area).  She did not give us any information, telling us we would not have time to do any shopping.  I thought that was very rude and unprofessional.  We were able to go shopping for about an hour after returning from Atlantis.

The sea days were pretty relaxing but they had to perform a medical evacuation by helicopter on Saturday.  It was pretty amazing the way the helicopter was able to match the speed of the ship and get the process completed in about 15 minutes.  Later that evening the medical team was called to the main pool because someone got hurt up there.

Debarkation went pretty well but here is another area where I have a problem.  You are given the option to use either “self-assist” or “relaxed debarkation”.  We used the latter and were in Group 3.  While waiting on Deck 5 for the self-assist process to be completed we noticed a number of passengers with very little luggage.  They were obviously in the “relaxed debarkation” group but decided to get off with the “self-assist” group.  I saw one person leave with only two boxes of liquor and a family leave with one small suitcase and a teddy bear in a box.  So my biggest complaint on this cruise would be the behavior of the passengers.  I saw people pressing the button to close the elevator doors as people were trying to get on.  People would try to get off the glass elevators but those standing in the front would not move.  Before one of the shows I got up to go to the restroom and when I got back a man was sitting with his legs spread wide open giving me very little room to sit even after being told by my wife that I was sitting there.  A woman sat down next to us in the comedy club where there was really no room to sit (and left her husband/boyfriend to stand by himself).  Others decided to have loud conversations in the hallways in the middle of the night.  We smelled cigarette smoke while sitting on our balcony even though balconies are non-smoking areas.  It seems that a number of people on this cruise did not know how to follow rules nor how to behave in public which is sad.

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Carnival Sunshine

December 2014 - Carnival Sunshine to Caribbean - Eastern

Carnival Sunshine Christmas Cruise

Went on the Sunshine for a Christmas cruise this year.  Decided on this ship because it was going to ports we had never been to and it was recently refurbished with all the Funship 2.0 upgrades.  Think of it like upgrading from Windows XP to Vista, some things were well done (the Waterworks and Sportsquare areas) and some were not (Liquid Lounge, Limelight Lounge, cabin size).  We had an Ocean Suite and it was slightly smaller than previous Oceans Suites we have had.  Had only 1 sink in the bathroom and the placement of the toilet diagonally next to the tub is a total mistake (think about it).  The Liquid Lounge was too small for the nightly shows and had a number of seats with obstructed views (especially on Deck 5) as was the Limelight Lounge for comedy shows (basically SRO).  The shows themselves were really good.  This is something Carnival is getting better at.  Other than that the ship was standard Carnival.  Dinner service was poor.  We chose the option where you pick your time and they were not prepared for the number of people that picked this.  You had to check in on Deck 5 and some nights they gave you those vibrate/light-up pagers that only worked on Deck 5.  We they went off you had to go down to Deck 3 and wait in another line.  Once in the servers were not that good.  If you wanted something other than water to drink you had to ask, they did not ask you.  The food was pretty good but the desserts were outstanding.  As for the other food on the ship that we tried the Seaday brunch was good, the Lido buffet was terrible, Guy's Burger Joint was pretty good (although it was better when we went on another ship before) and the pizza was horrible.  It was constantly undercooked with the crust being semi-raw.  As for the ports of call all were okay.  We like to shop and go to the beach so St. Maarten was our favorite since the beach is right where the water taxi arrives ($7 to ride it all day long) and the shops are right there also.  Grand Turk was small but the beach is right as you get off the ship and their is a Margaritaville with a pool there.  As for St. Thomas, we arrived at 1pm and were told the shops would be closing at 4pm.  We had already booked a shore excursion so we did not get to shop much there.  Debarktion (as was embarkation) was a breeze.  We were in the first group called and were off the ship and in our car in less than 30 minutes.  The porter even took our bags to the car (a first).

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Carnival Conquest

October 2013 - Carnival Conquest to Caribbean - Western

Carnival Fantasy

October 2007 - Carnival Fantasy to Caribbean - Western

Carnival Conquest

November 2006 - Carnival Conquest to Caribbean - Western

Rhapsody of the Seas

October 2005 - Rhapsody of the Seas to Caribbean - Western

WhodatRalph's Tips

Philipsburg, St. Maarten - Liked that the water taxi stopped close to the beaches and the shops. Locals were pretty aggresive in trying to get you in their stores
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas - Our late scheduled arrival did not allow for much shopping and staying late was a waste since everything closed before 6
Grand Turk Island - Small but a beach right as you get off the ship and some shops right there
Carnival Sunshine Carnival Sunshine - Even though it was recently refurbished like one passenger said "It is still the Destiny".

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commented on the roll call for Dec 1, 2016 cruise on Carnival Triumph - "Eighth for me (ninth for my wife). Seco..."

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commented on a Allure of the Seas cruise review. - "sheboice, we had a superior balcony room on the Allure when we went a couple of weeks ago and were surprised at how small the room was.  We have s..." read more

commented on the roll call for Dec 1, 2016 cruise on Carnival Triumph - "They probably work in shifts...."

commented on a Allure of the Seas cruise review. - "We were on the same cruise (Oct. 23) and the ports were the ones you listed (Bahamas, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas). " read more

commented on a Carnival Triumph cruise review. - "From your review your cabin (8205) was near the front of the ship, which (along with the rear) is where you feel the most motion.  Next time try t..." read more

received a helpful vote on their Allure of the Seas cruise review - Not a bad cruise, but not a great cruise

received a helpful vote on their Allure of the Seas cruise review - Not a bad cruise, but not a great cruise

shared a quick tip for Allure of the Seas"Book entertainment before the cruise."

uploaded a photo album from their Allure of the Seas cruise on 2016-10-23