Second Mate

Hometown: Fort Myers, Fla.
Joined: 04/05/2014
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About csmruss

Retired administrator and veteran with a loving wife and three great young daughters.



csmruss's Past Cruises

Carnival Fantasy

February 2016 - 4 Night Western Caribbean (Miami Roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Fantasy

Nice trip on an old ship

Hello all:  We had a great offer on an ocean view room so at the last minute we took the trip.  First, let me say that if you have been on any other Carnival ship you will be spoiled and disappointed here as the Fantasy is an old small ship in comparison.  Once in the room (M135) my wife noticed right away that it was old and there were holes in the backs of the curtains!  The rest of the room was good and the steward, whoever it was did a great job cleaning up the room each day but it was odd in that this was the first cruise out of six on Carnival that the steward did not make him or herself known.  Food was very good at the buffet, Guy's Burgers excellent and the evening meals were good except for a cold prime rib once.  Our waiter, Ricky, was excellent and we found all the wait staff excellent.  Casino is small and the amount of smoke and heat build up may keep you away.  Even staff were heard to say that the AC was not keeping up on two different nights.  Key West was the first stop on the itinerary and it is always a great stop whether shopping, water sports, sightseeing or hanging out in one of the many good bars or restaurants.  Our favorite place to eat is PEPE's on Mallory Dock for Cuban food and sitting under the veranda.  Next stop was Cozumel where I boarded the ferry (45 min. ride in rough water) to Playa del Carmen to then get on a nice bus to Tulum (45-50 min.) to see the Mayan Temples.  Views here are excellent and Saul our guide was great at explaining the history.  Ignore the continual hawking to sell you things but if you wish to dicker then enjoy the fun in Tulum by talking down the inflated prices.  I ate at a small restaurant at the Tulum site and it was great, beef tacos and coke for $10.  Tulum site has a lot of shops and restaurants.  Our tour was late in the day so no time to go to the beautiful beach there.  I brought a small bag with towel, bug spray and bottles of water as it is hot there.  There are swamps all around there but it is dry season so no bugs but it will not hurt to carry insect repellent, be safe.  Got back to ferry early so got an hour to hang out in Playa de Carmen, nice town.

     The cruise overall was good as I had a casino offer so I cannot complain but I would not go on the Fantasy again as I was spoiled by the other nicer bigger Carnival ships.  I really missed the big outside theater!  The old girl needs to be retired or refurbished.  

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Carnival Conquest

March 2015 - 8 Night Southern Caribbean (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Conquest

Great Ports

Beach at Grand Turk was relaxing and soothing.  La Romana shopping in town was sketchy but security was everywhere so it was worth it for the great buys.  If your not brave go for excursions on this stop.  Experienced travel people, go for it. Curacao and Aruba are always great stops for beaches, shopping and walking around.  The ship was great as the variety of foods and service was very good as well as room service and steward service.  An excellent itinerary and ship.

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Carnival Splendor

February 2015 - 7 Night Exotic Eastern Caribbean (Miami Roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Splendor

Good rating if you stay out of the Lido Buffet

     First lets discuss the great qualities:  The main dining room was excellent in everyway, Pablo the head of the operation in the dining room was very visible and continually asked how the food and service was as well as out waiters Eric, Wayan and Gusto.  Service and quality of the meals for dinner, lunch and breakfast was excellent.  The ports of call Nassau, St. Thomas, San Juan and Grand Turk were also great stops, we walked the quaint streets of the first three stops and swam at the pier beach at Grand Turk.  Two ships at Grand Turk yet plenty of room on the beach.  My room steward was outstanding and a credit to the company.  I had an inside, room 8218 and it was a great deal for the money.  Bed was comfortable, room was laid out well and Carnival providing Miami TV and other channels all through the trip was outstanding.  I have been on other lines that do not have TV and it stinks.   

     Now the poor qualities:  1.  I have travelled on three Carnival Ships this year and was shocked to see the number of dirty tables and lack of caring by the busing personnel each day on this ship when I went to the Lido Buffet area to eat.  Twice there were not only dirty tables but dirty dishes piled up too.  Once and only once an officer came out and directed the tables be cleaned up and they were quickly but as soon as the officer left so did the bus staff and it was back to the usual "who cares".  There did not seem to be areas of responsibility for people.  Carnival needs to not only look at the bus staff but the supervisors as well.  Carnival and its customers do not need this type of attitude, behavior or conditions.  2.  I heard too many people state that there was not enough entertainment but I found it to be OK as I go to relax and do not need to be entertained.  3.  There weren't enough lounge chairs on the decks and at times I still saw some still stacked and tied down, WHY?  Part of the problem was lounge chair hogs.  4.  Getting back on the ship in Ports was poor.  I never saw this on any other Carnival ship but on the Splendor someone likes lines even when it wasn't necessary!  To get back on the ship there was only one gang way open so there was a LONG line to get back on while three other gang ways were not being used, not good.  Once people started grumbling, loudly, another line opened up.  One would think this would not happen again, oh no, it happened at every stop.  The said thing was that at two stops another Carnival ship tied up near us and guess what, they had no lines as they used two gang ways.

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csmruss's Tips

Enter Panama Canal At Cristobal - Get an excursion to get a full canal experience. I highly recommend the ferry from the Atlantic to Pacific, amazing full day tour.
Cartagena, Colombia - Get an excursion as time in this port is limited and one really wants to stay in safe areas and not wander around. Traffic is congested and on your own may have you miss the boat.
Zuiderdam Zuiderdam - Anytime dining is great, late dining only if you want to eat late! Great ship and crew.
Puerto Limon, Costa Rica - Not much at the port but the excursions offer a lot to see. I went to the Tuytic hacienda to see sugar and coffee production as well as to go into the interior and see some of the country. Well worth it and our guide, Jose, was excellent explaining history and culture. The meal at the hacienda was very good.
Colon, Panama - Get an excursion, sketchy town. I passed thru town in a bus and based on the ghetto I saw I would say excursion or go to the terminal and back to the ship. Not safe on own.
Carnival Fantasy Carnival Fantasy - If you get a real good deal on a trip on the ship, do it. If not, do not cruise on this ship and first timers do not take this ship as it does not reflect the other better ships of Carnival. This is an old ship and she looks it and lacks many of the things one finds on newer ships.
Grand Turk Island - I have been here twice and love the chairs under the palms and beach. Get past the shops,, too pricey and hit the beach you will love the lounging under the palms.
San Juan, Puerto Rico - Go to El Moro the old fort, $6 each one way, worth it. If you can walk then do that throught the beautiful OLD Town, 20 Minutes tops and on the way back just walk the streets and see the sights, restaurants and shops, take your time.
Nassau, Bahamas - Dickering in the Straw Market and eating some good conch fritters.
Carnival Splendor Carnival Splendor - This was an unplanned trip at a fabulous price so after viewing the itinerary I booked it. My wife and I loved the destinations and were glad we did not need excursions. Go to the straw market in Nassau and look for the real artists. Great buys, got a carving from Larry, an artist.
Grand Turk Island - Fabulous beach right at the end of the dock so we swam and sat under the palms all day. Some shops at the end of the dock.
Willemstad, Curacao - Ship docked at the Port and we got off and walked around in the local market and crafts stands then took in some historical sights all by foot. Bring a hat and drink alot its hot! I lived in Bermuda and found this island and Aruba similiar in that one needs to stay hydrated, sun screen and a hat.
Oranjestad, Aruba - Again the ship dock right in town, people were friendly, lots of nice shops and historical sites all within walking.
Port Canaveral, Florida - Terrible port, stay away til it is fixed unless you have a lot of patience! Reason: It took an hour from car to get on the ship (two lines to get on) and to get off a hour and a half (two excalators to get off plus when you get to street level everyone is dropped there to find commercial pick-up, private car pick-up and everyone else. Total confusion, and I was told the Port was aware of the problems and had tried to fix it! If what I saw was a fix, they were taken. Hire a Sergeant Major and this mess would be solved. A disservice to the Cruise Lines that stop there. Oh here is a good one, going into the Port everyone must stop and pay a TOLL, even the service van we were in.
Carnival Liberty Carnival Liberty - There was a lot to do, hot tubs were clean and plentiful, service was excellent and I cannot say enough about the services by the Steward and the culinary staff.
Nassau, Bahamas - Walked and shopped on own for half the day and had fun then for the other half of the day took a bus excursion to see the major sights of Nassau. Great stop.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas - Want to shop, stay on St. Thomas, want to see the Virgin Island natural beauty take the excursion to St. John. St. John is beautiful.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten - Took a bus, boat and bus excursion to see the French and Dutch sides of the island and really enjoyed it. Went to the flea market in the French capital and had a great time of haggling for gifts and got to see the major sites of the island.
Miami, Florida - Parked at "Safe Parking" then shuttled to ship, flawless for embarkation and disembarkation. Will use Port of Miami again, great.
Norwegian Getaway Norwegian Getaway - I would recommend this ship without reservation, outstanding. Wish I could have brought the bed home! Comfort and relaxation!
Carnival Legend Carnival Legend - Plenty of spaces to do things and just go to not do things but relax.

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received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Getaway cruise review - Great Ship and Ports

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Splendor cruise review - Good rating if you stay out of the Lido Buffet

received a helpful vote on their Zuiderdam cruise review - Classy ship, Excellent Crew

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Liberty cruise review - Carnival Liberty to South Caribbean

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Getaway cruise review - Great Ship and Ports

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Getaway cruise review - Great Ship and Ports

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Getaway cruise review - Great Ship and Ports

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Splendor cruise review - Good rating if you stay out of the Lido Buffet

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Legend cruise review - Great Itinerary, service by all and professional treatment.

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Splendor cruise review - Good rating if you stay out of the Lido Buffet