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Joined: 05/24/2014
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About bratak


bratak's Past Cruises

Carnival Dream

October 2016 - Carnival Dream to Caribbean - Western

A Nice Carnival Cruise

One of the best thing we liked about this cruise was sailing for approximately 8 hours on the Mississippi River.  It was certainly a change of pace from most ships that head straight out to sea.  The food was good - service was a bit iffy.  The  Carnival Dancers performed three shows and they were all very good - high energy and great special effects.

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Celebrity Summit

October 2016 - Celebrity Summit to Canada, New England, New York

Great scenery - not so great ship

This cruise was chosen because of its itinerary to view the fall foliage in the New England States and Canada.  The leaves in Nova Scotia were okay.  They had just begun to turn so they weren't that impressive.  Not so in Quebec City.  They were at their peak and absolutely beautiful.  We missed Bar Harbor, Maine due to Hurricanes Matthew and Nicole.  Portland was nice but the leaves were not at their peak either.  Boston was so crowded that if they had any leaves, we couldn't have seen them!  While the ships crew was very engaging and present throughout the cruise, we found the ship itself rather sedate in it's color scheme and on board activities.

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Norwegian Getaway

May 2015 - Norwegian Getaway to Caribbean - Eastern

A new state of the art vacations

Overall a very good cruise.   Here are some of the positives and negatives: Embarkation:  no signage as to where to go and we had to wait in the broiling sun for over 15 minutes while in line to check in.  A cruise member shouted to the crowd to make sure we were in the "correct" line as they were boarding from two entrances.  Luckily, we were in the right line.  If we hadn't, I would have been livid after standing in line for so long.  Once we got inside the terminal, a gentleman told us to go over to a table and fill out the medical survey.  The table was crowded but I was able to get a form and fortunately had a pen so I didn't have to scramble for a writing instrument with everyone else.  After filling out the form, we asked about priority boarding and were sent in a very long line.  Evidently, everyone got priority boarding as everyone was sent to the same line.  So much for the loyalty perks.  We stood in line another 15 minutes until we got to an agent. We've cruise on other lines where the check in process is much quicker and much more efficient.

Crew:  the entire crew was extremely friendly and always spoke to you.  We had an issue in our cabin and guest services went above and beyond to make sure it was taken care of.

Food:  we did not dine in any of the specialty dining areas.  I'm old school and feel that your purchase price includes food and you should not have to pay extra to get "better" food.  We tried all of the complimentary restaurants and the food was very good.  The Tropicana has live music and it's pretty loud, so if you want to enjoy conversation, beware.  We ate most breakfasts at the buffet and the food was good and a good variety of items.  We ate dinner one night at the buffet and were disappointed.  The food looked dried out - like it had been sitting out for a while and the selection wasn't much.  Not that we use room service, but they now charge $7.95 to use it.  This was a bummer.  O'Sheehan's was their complimentary pub and had good food and a great atmosphere and décor.  You can sit around a counter and watch the entertainment going on down on the floor below, sit at the bar, or in regular tables.  The menu's not extensive but gives you the feel of a pub.  They held a lot of their games and activities in this area.

Cabins:  We had a balcony on the 9th deck-mid ship.  There was more storage space in this cabin that on any other ship we've sailed on.  The bathroom had a lot of shelving as well but I was a little concerned as the "lip" on the shelf did not extend up very high and if you hit some rough waters, I could see things falling off of these shelves..  The deck was VERY small but sufficed.  The most disappointing thing was the view.  The ship's WATERFRONT is located on the 8th deck and has a roof over it.  This roof is directly underneath the balcony cabins - therefore, you can't see directly down to the water.  This was true of probably 75 - 80% of the balcony's on the ship.  The higher up you went, the less of an obstruction, but nonetheless, if you want to look directly over your balcony and see water, you won't be able to.  We moved mid way through the cruise (due to a cabin issue) to a cabin on the 10th deck-forward.  we didn't have the WATERFRONT roof, but we did have a deck with  shuffleboard on it directly below us.  Again - no view of the ocean directly below us :(  In looking at the balconies overall, it would appear that the suites are the only ones that have this type of view.  This ship was the first one we experienced with using your key card to activate the electricity in your room.  This was great in that you always knew where your keycard was and made it easy to turn everything off when you left your cabin.  They also have two buttons you can push:  one for "make up the cabin" and one for "do not disturb".  This was a big improvement over putting cards in your door.  They also have an interactive TV (which we've used before and it's great) and it was nice to finally see it on an NCL ship.

ENTERTAINMENT:  Their two most publicized shows were "Burn the Floor" and "Legally Blonde".  We really enjoyed Legally Blonde but were a little disappointed in Burn the Floor.  Although it was high energy, it was like watching Dancing With the Stars and after several dances, it seemed redundant.  They had a magician/comedian one night and one night we went to their comedy show (it's on every night).  They were both good - not great.

The itinerary takes you to Nassau.  We've been there so many times that we didn't get off the ship.  Instead we spent the time on some of the deck 16 and 17 activities.  They have a ropes course which was a lot of fun.  You can make your interaction with it as long as you want.  They have 5 water slides - each with increasing degrees of difficulty.  Their green and blue slide will really get your adrenaline going!  They were a lot of fun.  We also played miniature golf and although that's not a novel concept to ships, the course was cute and fun to play.  My husband did the rock wall.  You can go up one deck and get a different view of the wall, but it is a very congested area.  We're not joggers, but if we were, we wouldn't have liked the jogging track.  It went through a lot of high traffic areas.  We tried the hot tubs one night and they were not crowded.  The only negative was that the "adults only" sign was ignored and there were children in all tubs.  We did try the Spice H2O area for adults one afternoon and it was very nice.  The only negative was that there were no shady areas.

DEBARKATION:  We chose to do the self assist debarkation which means you have to carry your own luggage.  Just beware that if you chose this option, you will have a real challenge getting an elevator.  We ended up carrying our luggage down the steps which was not ideal.  Once we got it line (which was VERY long), it moved quickly and orderly.  A big improvement over the check in process.

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Oasis of the Seas

January 2015 - Oasis of the Seas to Caribbean - Eastern

A few negatives, but overall, a wonderful experience

This was our second voyage on the Oasis.  Both times the embarkation and disembarkation were super quick - quicker than any other ship we've ever been on.  We were so "wowed" on the first trip that we were afraid that our expectations might be slightly disappointing on this trip, but they weren't.  We were a group of eight and had to do "My Time" dining as we couldn't get all of us on the early seating (our first negative).  HOWEVER, we sat at the same table with the same waiters each night so it was great!  They were attentive and top notch in their service.  The food was better than our first time on the ship.  The second negative (and I'm not sure there's a reasonable fix for this) was in the Windjammer Café on the day of embarkation.  We got to the Café around 12:35 and we could not find a table anywhere.  We walked around for over 15 minutes before we found one table for 4.  They kept announcing for folks to please leave their table once they were through eating, but no one did.  They were just sitting around waiting for the cabins to be ready (which was 1 p.m.) .  Shortly after 1 there was an abundance of tables.  We tried all of the complimentary restaurants and they were just as good as we remembered.  The third minor negative was in the show CATS.  Their performance was top notch.  I had seen the Broadway version and a fellow traveler saw it in London and we both felt it was better than what we had previously seen.  The negative was that we had it booked for an evening show and it somehow got cancelled and we had to see it on the afternoon of the last day of the cruise.  It just doesn't have the same feel in the afternoon as it does at night and the theater was probably 50% full - which says something about the timing.  Even though their performance of CATS was excellent, I didn't think it was the right production for a cruise ship.   I think many agreed in that probably half of the people in attendance left at intermission.   We saw "Hairspray" on our last sailing which was light and funny.  CATS is neither of these.  There are plenty of "happy" musicals that could have been picked before CATS.  The rest of the shows were phenomenal and they set the bar really high for other cruise ships' entertainment.  The crew on the ship are among the friendliest we've ever encountered.  Everyone spoke to you.  The final negative was in the casino.  My husband played the slots and they were not at all fun.  He spoke to a lot of other players and they all agreed.  The ship itself is an amazing experience just to walk through and it is easy quickly learn the layout. Walking down the promenade was like walking through a mall.  As you walk through Central Park, you have to keep reminding yourself that you're on a ship. The live plants and trees are beautifully arranged and at night, it's just wonderful to stroll through the park.  And the Boardwalk is much smaller, but cute.  We rode the carousel one night which was fun - mainly because we were at sea!  Johnny Rockets is open for breakfast and it's complimentary.  It was never crowded and you can eat inside or outside.  If you eat outside, you can watch the zip liners overhead and if you don't watch, you can certainly hear some of them.  We did play miniature golf and my husband did the rock climbing.  We never got to ice skate as we were too busy with other things and decided to skate on the last day at sea but didn't find out until we read our activities for the last day that they weren't going to offer it.  By then all of the skating sessions had closed.  That was kind of a bummer.  The parades are fun to watch and even though we didn't have any children on the cruise, there was plenty of things on the ship geared to them.  It was the first time for the other six travelers in our group to sail on the Oasis and they were as awed as we were the first time we sailed on it.  We've already said we'll do it again! Royal Caribbean's ads now show a "WOW" experience and the Oasis is just that - "WOW"!

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Norwegian Sky

October 2014 - Norwegian Sky to Caribbean - Bahamas

Great ship with a good itinerary for the Bahamas

This was our second experience with NCL with the first one being way below our past experiences on other cruise lines.  I am happy to say that this cruise definitely made a positive impression on us.  The Sky is a smaller ship which is nice in that you don't do as much walking as you do on the bigger ones- which was great as we took my 83 year old mother-in-law,  The check in process was smooth and they had plenty of folks out there managing the crowd.  We had a balcony cabin which was small, but sufficed - small ship-small rooms.  The staff and crew were extremely personable.  They always spoke when you met in the hall - or even going to your dinner table - other waiters spoke to you.  We ate dinner in the Crossings dining room and the food was excellent.  Service was prompt and efficient.  We ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet which was generally crowded but it moved quickly. The biggest negative in the Garden Café were their sensored water and ice dispensers.  They were very hard to get to work and they usually had a staff member standing by to assist you.  The ice machine outside was the traditional type of machine and once we found it, kept getting our ice out there.  It was worth the extra steps to avoid the lines and frustration.  They had several other options for breakfast and lunch but we did not try them.  The entertainment was good.  Their Las Vegas review on the last night was excellent.  They had a staff talent show which was just OK.  It might have been better had we been in different seats, but we were under the balcony and it was so loud that is was almost unbearable.  Their entertainment was held in the Stardust Theater which is big and should accommodate everyone.  Unfortunately, they have "barrel-type" chairs as part of the furniture and they had them too close together which cause a lot of seats to remain vacant because no one to get to them.   We've been to the Bahamas several times, so Nassau and Freeport weren't real exciting for us.  If you've never been, they're nice ports to do some sightseeing and shopping.  Their private island was nice and had plenty of chairs spread out along many coves on the beach.  Unfortunately we were there on a rainy/overcast day so we weren't able to enjoy it like we would have like to.  All in all, a nice quick getaway.

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Norwegian Spirit

May 2014 - Norwegian Spirit to Europe - Mediterranean

Great ports - ship needs some improvements

The main reason we chose the Spirit was because of its itinerary.  The ship had major challenges with organization and communication.  Embarkation was a nightmare.  We had to haul all of our luggage throughout long, random lines in the parking lot until we got to drop off our checked bags.  The service in both dining rooms was extremely slow and even though we had made reservations, still had to wait in a line with folks without reservations before getting seated.  We were a group of eight and we could only get reservations very early or late - not at the times we wanted.  Food was basic and several nights had to send entrees back due to toughness.  Specialty dining was pushed big time and wondered if the lack of emphasis on "free" dining was missing in order to attract more specialty dining.  Entertainment was also a miss.  Most entertainment was a solo act and several entertainers were featured more than once.  The ship itself looked good in the main areas.  Our stateroom's balcony had been painted at some point and there was paint splattered all over the railing, chairs, door, and a big glob on the floor.  Water for the shower ran from extremely hot to extremely cold without adjusting it.  We had to jump out of the way to keep from getting burned or frozen.  This could have been dangerous to a child or an elderly person.  When we first boarded the ship, most of the crew was distant and stand offish.  However, by the end of the cruise, they were friendlier.  There was definitely room for improvement.  On a positive note, the ports were wonderful and the disembarkation process was great.

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bratak's Tips

Cozumel, Mexico - Be prepared to say "no" as vendors are constantly trying to get you into their shops. It's a great place to get vanilla.
New Orleans, Louisiana - We stayed in Slidell the night before the cruise and ventured into New Orleans that night. We went down Bourbon Street and that was definitely an experience that everyone should try at least one.
Mahogany Bay, Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras - The area is pristine and the beach is very nice. Ride the horizontal ski lift over to the beach to get a nice view of the water and overall beach area - plus a nice breeze blew to help cool us off. My husband rode the zip line there and wasn't very impressed.
Sydney, Nova Scotia - Quaint town to just get out and walk about - lots of cute towns and a beautiful church. They have a lot of souvenirs in the terminal.
Celebrity Summit Celebrity Summit - The Revelations Lounge was cold every time we went up there, so if you're the least bit cold natured, bring a sweater!
Belize City, Belize - Jaguar Zip lining and cave tubing was great! It's a long ride to the excursion but you get to experience a little more of the country of Belize.
Nassau, Bahamas - The tourist area is getting very run down around and to the Straw Market
Miami, Florida - Very busy port a lot of ships sailing on the same day as the Getaway.
Norwegian Getaway Norwegian Getaway - Make sure to make reservations to the shows. The Getaway Theater is relatively small and they do "sell out" on the shows.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten - Cleanest of the three stops. 15 minute walk to a beautiful beach. Lots of shops at the beach.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas - Cleaner than Nassau. You have to take a taxi to get into town if you want to shop. They have a few shops/stands at the dock.
Nassau, Bahamas - Be prepared to be inundated by folks wanting to take you on a sight seeing tour or sell you something.
Oasis of the Seas Oasis of the Seas - Reservations are required for all shows. You can make them on line or as soon as you get on the ship. They do have a wait line that opens up 5 minutes before each show, but some venues are so small (Frozen in Time) that you probably won't get in even if you stand in the wait line.
Barcelona, Spain - Went straight from the ship to the airport, so not much to say about the city,
Toulon, France - Walked along the streets of the city and went to their open air Market.
Naples, Italy - Took a tour of Positano, Sorrento and Pompeii. Positano and the coast were beautiful. Sorrento was OK. Pompeii was interesting - architecture very similar to Ephesus.
Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy - Took a tour of Vatican City including the museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Then went to Trevi Fountain (very crowded and partially under reconstruction), and then the Coliseum. We were supposted to see the Pantheon but was told that there were demonstrations going on there and we couldn't go. Went by Circus Maximus instead.
Mykonos, Greece - Absolutely gorgeous. People were very friendly and very laid back. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Istanbul, Turkey - Went on a tour but were turned off by the constant pressure of street vendors. They would not leave you alone and kept following us. Grand Bazaar was closed but the Spice Market was more than we had time to see.
Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey - Took a tour of Ancient Ephesus and it drizzled the entire time we were there so had to watch out for getting hit with umbrellas from other visitors as it was very crowded. Had to stop for a carpet demonstation which we did not like.
Piraeus (Athens), Greece - Beautiful city. Took a tour and saw the major sites of the city and it was definitely worth visiting.
Venice, Italy - The ship left at 1 a.m. on Wednesday. Numerous passengers (including us) thought that we would be leaving on Thursday night at 1 a.m. Listing Venice as being the port for Wednesday when you're technically only there for one hours is VERY confusing.

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received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Sky cruise review - Great ship with a good itinerary for the Bahamas

received a helpful vote on their Celebrity Summit cruise review - Great scenery - not so great ship

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Getaway cruise review - A new state of the art vacations

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Dream cruise review - A Nice Carnival Cruise

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Spirit cruise review - Great ports - ship needs some improvements

received a helpful vote on their Celebrity Summit cruise review - Great scenery - not so great ship

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Magic cruise review - A "met my expectations" cruise

received a helpful vote on their Celebrity Summit cruise review - Great scenery - not so great ship

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Sky cruise review - Great ship with a good itinerary for the Bahamas

received a helpful vote on their Celebrity Summit cruise review - Great scenery - not so great ship