glomarrone

glomarrone

Admiral
FL
Joined 12/2011

21

Cruises

23

Reviews

278

Helpful Votes

I have been cruising for 30+ years. I am married, have 2 married children, 4 grand kids and am a retired teacher. After living most my life in NY, I now reside in FL. I love the laid back lifestyle here as opposed to the busy city life in NYC where I was born and lived most of my life. Every day I look out on the beach below. Instead of checking the wind chill factor, I check the tides. Doesn't get much better than this.

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Past Cruises

Amsterdam

January 2018 - 113 Night Grand World Voyage (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip) Cruise on Amsterdam

What is it Like to Sail Around the World?

Living in Florida, we were able to cruise around the world without taking a single airline flight. Our 113-Day World Cruise on the ms. Amsterdam was awesome. This cruise appealed to us because it visited Africa. Other exciting destinations were the Caribbean, Central America, French Polynesia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Philippians, Hong Hong, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka and several smaller island. All the extra entertainment, themed balls, Gala Dinners and give-aways, special gifts for each segment and higher quality food choices all made this World Cruise a special one for me. We saw so many wonders at exotic ports that I will never forget this voyage or, the guests and crew that I met on board. Here's my cabin description. Our stateroom, cabin #2599 was quite comfortable, bright and close to the mid ship elevators. We prefer being down low, mid-ship for more stability in case of rough seas. Our cabin had plenty of storage space for our belongings and all of our suitcases fitted under our beds. For the most part, the A/C, heating and water pressure worked fine throughout the cruise. Once we did have water intrusion that was corrected immediateThe one thing missing was a small fridge for my husband’s medication that needed refrigeration. He needed to go down often to the Medical Center to retrieve it. It also would have been nice to have a small night light in the bathroom.

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MS Amsterdam

January 2018 - Grand World Voyage Cruise on MS Amsterdam

MS Rotterdam

August 2017 - Voyage of The Vikings Cruise on MS Rotterdam

Rotterdam

August 2017 - 38 Night Voyage Of The Vikings (Boston Roundtrip) Cruise on Rotterdam

Voyage of the Vikings - An Incredible Cruise

Our cruise was awesome. We saw beautiful fjords, waterfalls, glaciers, icebergs, early ruins, small fishing villages and bustling cities all on one cruise. If you have not seen Iceland or Greenland, I highly recommend this cruise. Our high point was the scenic cruising through Prince Christian Sound. We even saw the Northern Lights briefly. HAL is known for its food and fine service. The ms. Rotterdam was an easy ship to navigate. The entertainment was good and the shore excursions were educational, interesting and very enjoyable. Now I understand why so many passengers have repeated the Voyage of the Viking Cruise four or five times.

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Koningsdam

December 2016 - 10 Night Southern Caribbean Seafarer (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip) Cruise on Koningsdam

The Beautiful Koningsdam Still Experiencing Some Growing Pains

After a 2 1/2 hour drive on December 4th from Cocoa Beach, FL  to Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale for our Southern Caribbean cruise on the new ms. Koningsdam, we encountered a delay with traffic only at the port itself.  Once we cleared security, inside the terminal though, it was clear sailing onto the ship.  There were no lines where 4 and 5 star level passengers  were processed.  The rest of our party boarded quickly with us.   Our Disembarkation went just as smoothly.  The ship's 10-night Itinerary was Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, Amber Cove, Bonaire, Aruba & Curacao.  Of the 2,553 passengers on board, most were American and many were Canadians. A few children were on board but no teens. 

 

Amazingly, our two staterooms were ready on our arrival so we dropped off our carry on luggage and proceeded to lunch.  Although the Lido Marketplace (buffet) was still pretty empty at 11:45, we chose to dine at the Dive-In.  I just had to have some of their delicious fries again.  Hamburgers are cooked to order. Then we toured the ship.  The ms. Koningsdam is a beautiful ship with a very modern decor.  Everything in the interior is sparkling clean and new.  The decor is music themed.  I enjoyed the many sculptures of musical instruments.  Our passenger corridor is a pretty beige and the carpeting with its tulip border is beautiful.  I wished that they had more art on the walls, though.  Soon it was time for the 3 pm mandatory safety drill which went smoothly.  All passengers are required to return to their staterooms to watch a short safety video on their stateroom TV before proceeding to their muster station when directed and without lifejackets.

 

Our stateroom, 5084 was a balcony cabin mid-ship.  It seemed a little compact to us but there was certainly enough storage for all our possessions.  The decor was lovely and classy.  We were surprised at the large sized TV but were just a bit disappointed that we could not check our statement or book either shore excursions or dining times on it.  We could check the menu each day but often it was not completely correct. We both loved having a fridge in the room.  The bath also seemed small but the shower with its glass door was larger than most.  Dispensers in the shower hold shampoo, conditioner and body wash. There are three small shelves by the sink for just the essentials.  I appreciated the large back lighted mirror over the sink.  Our balcony was a good size with a small table and two chairs including a foot rest.  Novie & Ricky did a wonderful job tidying up our room daily. 

 

We chose Open Seating for dinner, which started at 5:15pm and it worked well.  After the first two nights, we had the same table and servers on the cruise.  There was usually a short line at the MDR Reception Desk; some nights there were no line.  Our servers, Feby & Dicky were quite professional and our orders were always correct.  Our Wine Steward, Gina was helpful and efficient, too.  Putu our Dining Supervisor found the time to chat with us most nights and was very friendly.  He checked nightly to see if everything was satisfactory.    My husband's Special Request Meals were always carefully prepared and the menus unfailingly brought to him toward the end of dinner.  The MDR (Main Dining Room) did a terrific job with this.  The MDR menus were diverse and the food was fine. 

 

Twice we ate in the Canaletto and Pinnacle Restaurants where service was excellent and the food delicious.  Novi, our server in the Canaletto was so delightful.  We knew her from her service in the Lido Restaurant.  Rudy, the Bar Server was so warm and professional.  We knew him from the ms. Amsterdam.  We also enjoyed meals at the Dive- In and the New York Deli and Pizza.  The pizzas are wonderful (6 choices) or, you can build it yourself from a list of ingredients which I did once at lunchtime. The Finocchio Pizza won first prize at the World Pizza Championship in Naples, Italy.   Deli sandwiches (8 varieties) were so tasty, too. I enjoyed a Reuben on Rye & the New Jersey Club Decker on two dines. Others in my party enjoyed different varieties.

 

The Lido Marketplace (buffet) had everything anyone could want to eat.  We never experienced any problems finding a table for the four of us.  Food was good.  We all enjoyed the delicious complimentary ice cream served in the Lido Restaurant; vanilla, chocolate & strawberry offered throughout the cruise.   

 

All the public areas are lovely.  The Lido Pool has a dome over it and it was briefly closed on several occasions for either wind or threatening clouds.  The Lido Pool  is on the small side but there are three modern looking Jacuzzi also.  Another pool is at the stern with more Jacuzzi.  We rarely had a hard time obtaining lounges as the crew often collected used towels left by departing swimmers.  Bar service was good around the pool, also.  I loved the lounging beds and couches on Deck 10 facing the pool below; it all seemed so upscale to me.  They were fun to use.  There is a poolside TV; I think that it could be used more often.  The movies shown were old and of little interest to me. I did enjoy the Steel Drum music poolside.   Take a class in how to play the instrument.  Our party of 4 did enjoy our almost nightly stop at the Grand Deli Cafe for a complimentary treat.  Try the almond cookies, the Apple Cake or the delectable chocolate pastry

The Casino sometimes was quite busy, other times less so.  It was annoying to have to walk through the smokiness, though to reach the World Stage Theater.  I did miss the lack of a Library on the ship.  We heard on good authority that one may be added later.  I thought that the best thing about the ship was all the entertainment.  We visited the 270 degree, 650 seat World Stage (main theater) nightly for all their fantastic entertainment - 3 shows nightly, so convenient!  The stadium seating, wider spaced rows was perfect.  Even in the back rows, the audience has wonderful views of the wide open stage with its LED screens.    The Lincoln Center performers were so talented and their performances were packed as were BB King's Blues All Stars.  We earned HAL pins at Name That Tune in Billboard and loved the piano music of the Beatles performed by Emily and Jonathan so much that we came back for more  "Music of the 60s" later that same evening.  Most evenings there was piano music in the Ocean Bar.  Also, there was music and dancing in the Queen's Lounge. 

 

The ship had many of the activities found on most cruise ships, Shopping Tips & Shore Excursion Talks, Bingo, Trivia, Dance Classes, Fitness Classes, Champagne Art Action, Spa Seminars, Pickle Ball, Digital Workshop Windows & Digital Camera Classes, Texas Hold 'Em, Ping Pong & Shuffleboard Tournaments, Culinary Art Classes, Galley Tour and Wine Tastings, etc.    One different one was Blend, make your own wine and bottle it, an extra charge of $129.  The ship has Happy Hours when the second drink is $2.  There is no music in the Crow's Nest, however. There were no lectures or travel slide shows I guess because we had only 3 Sea Days. 

 

Our shore excursions were all ship sponsored and excellent.  We took a ship tour in Amber Cove to Puerto Plata.  I was disappointed to learn that the beautiful new Amber Cove Beach was a taxi cab ride away from the pier so we didn't have time to go there, perhaps next time.   In Aruba we did a caves tour and in Bonaire, an island tour.  In Curacao, we did independent sightseeing since we had visited the island previously.  In Grand Turk we enjoyed the beach and pool and the beach in Half Moon Cay. The BBQ on Half Moon Cay was wonderful!   Temperatures were pleasant, the upper 70s - low 80s.  Although there was a 100% chance of rain in the ABC islands, we only saw rain in Curacao.

 

All in all, we had a great cruise.  However we did run into some snafus.  The other couple in our party didn't receive their Shore Excursion packet.  We all did not get the Pinnacle Grill Steakhouse Restaurant perk provided by our Travel Agent and there was a mix-up with dining times in the Canaletto.   All problems were solved eventually, except that there was a charge on our statements for that complimentary meal at the Pinnacle Grill.  We had to clear that up on disembarkation day morning.    Also we ordered a HAL Beach Towel that was not delivered when the front desk said or even the next day.  Our room Steward had to finally get us one.  Bottom line, yes, I would take another cruise on the ms. Koningsdam hopefully after the communication between the various departments gets tightened.  She is a beautiful ship and I have high expectations that the snafus are just growing pains that will in time disappear. 

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Koningsdam

November 2016 - 10 Night Southern Caribbean Seafarer (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip) Cruise on Koningsdam

Amsterdam

January 2016 - 115 Night Grand World Voyage (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip) Cruise on Amsterdam

Around the World by Cruise Ship

“Around the world in 80 days…” goes the song.  However, it took Holland America’s (HAL) ms. Amsterdam 115 glorious days to circumnavigate the globe on our Grand World Voyage 2016.  What an amazing voyage it was!  We visited 24 countries and 41 ports; some were overnight stays.  People ask us how we could stay on a ship that long.  I reply that we loved every minute and that we hope to do it again soon. We were never bored or sea sick and learned so much about the history and culture of the places visited.  It many ways, the cruise changed our thinking on a variety of subjects.  For most passengers, this was their fourth or fifth+ HAL Grand World Cruise.   For us, it was our first Grand World Cruise.  The staff told us that this particular Grand World Cruise sailing had the youngest-aged passengers. One tyke celebrated his first birthday while onboard the entire voyage.  One thousand fifty passengers including 10 children boarded the ship in Fort Lauderdale.  Seven hundred fifty passengers took the entire voyage.  Other passengers joined the voyage for segments.  Most passengers were Americans, many were Floridians but there were plenty of Canadians and Australians onboard plus other nationalities.  Our exciting cruise began January 5, returning April 29, 2016 to and from Fort Lauderdale.

Right from embarkation, things went well.  Within 20 minutes from the time of our arrival at the pier, we were on the ship.  Near the gangway, Pande our Assistant Maitre ’D from our HAL Grand Asia Pacific 2014 Cruise greeted passengers and recognized us.  He instructed a steward to carry our hand luggage and escort us to our cabin.  Wow!  It made us feel like family.  Our former Cruise Director, Gene Young from HAL Grand Voyage ’14 was also stationed at the gangway.   He, also, recognized us immediately.  It was wonderful to have him as our Cruise Director for this cruise, too.  I wonder when the man sleeps. He was involved onboard in so many ways.  

All the stateroom passageways are bright and lined with Dutch maritime art; Deck 1 has Dutch floral art works gracing its walls.  Our mid-ship ocean-view stateroom, # 2598 was in a very stable position on the ship.  It was bright, comfortable and contained sufficient storage space for all our belongings.  The A/C and plumbing worked well throughout the entire cruise.  Unfortunately, stateroom TVs were still not interactive so we often had to visit the Front Desk to get our statements printed.  For my husband, though, the lack of a mini-fridge in our cabin was a big problem. He needed to visit the medical office often to retrieve his medication that needed refrigeration.  Another problem was early morning (5-5:30 AM) noise from a crewmember working on open deck 3 that frequently disturbed our sleep.     Many other guests on our deck complained about this noise.  
 
The public areas of the ship are all well appointed and quite attractive. The floral arrangements are stunning.   However, the very comfortable couches in the Queen’s Lounge (theater) are lower than the upholstered chairs making it difficult viewing the performers on stage while sitting on the couches. Uneven temperatures in certain areas of the ship especially in the Queen’s Lounge made carrying a sweater a necessity.  Still another concern was the slow speed of the internet connection.  We waited until we reached shore to access the Internet.  The ship does need some updating and perhaps will go in for further refurbishment soon.  This in no way detracted from our enjoyment.  The ship was well maintained and always clean. Everyone was comfortable finding their way around this mid-sized ship, which was the perfect size for entering smaller foreign ports.  

The food and service in the Main Dining Room were wonderful.  We had fabulous meals nightly especially on Gala Nights. On the off chance that nothing on the menu was appealing, we could choose Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, steak, chicken or salmon as alternatives.  Although I always am pleased with food and service on HAL ships, on Grand & Grand World Cruises they are superior.  Our Early Seating Main Dining Room (MDR) servers Gede & Berry were professional, personable and efficient, anticipating our needs and checking to see that everything was fine with our meals.   My husband received all his Special Request Meals in a timely fashion.  Gede made a point of bringing the next day’s menus to him as soon as they became available.   In fact, the entire MDR staff did a terrific job daily getting his Special Request Meals correct.    Nestor Malsi, our wine steward, brought our glasses of red wine at our table usually before we even arrived. He always had time to chat with us nightly.   After dinner, I enjoyed stopping by the cheerful door attendant, Woko’s station.  He always remembered my name and knew which after dinner treat I wanted before exiting the MDR.  I cannot say enough about how helpful the HAL staff was in general.  All the crew on board Grand & World Voyages are carefully hand chosen by HAL.

We did dine several times in the two specialty restaurants, The Canaletto & the Pinnacle Grill. The levels of service there were always excellent as were the food.  The Lido Café food was good, too and we always ate at least breakfast there.  In the Lido, wait staff members Imam and Supraman would often assist us in locating a table, brought us the Times Digest daily and remembered our preference for beverages.  They were so professional, friendly and efficient.  We always looked forward to our daily conversations with them. Many times, I enjoyed the Lido Restaurant’s wonderful sushi station at lunchtime.  Another fun place to eat is poolside at the Dive In.  The fries there are extra delicious; so are the several choices of hot dogs and burgers.  

Many other things made the voyage so special.   On Gala Nights, the MDR was festooned with colorful balloons, London-themed umbrellas, paper lanterns, banners, flags or other festive decorations.  On some themed nights depending on the theme, we received Panama or Bowler hats, beautiful masks or leis to wear and keep.  On other Gala evenings, we received heart-shaped boxed Valentine chocolates, long stemmed roses or maracas.   The servers dressed in festive attire for the theme nights, as did many of the passengers.

On many Gala nights, passengers received gifts in their staterooms such as: a nylon  travel bag, a canvas boat bag with matching toiletry bag filled with travel essentials, a moleskin travel journal, a signed paperback travel book, Tiffany & Co HAL ceramic box, HAL Crystal Candle Holder, a Royal Goedewaagen Plate highlighting the itinerary and a travel wallet.  Plus, at the Captain’s Dinners in the Pinnacle Grill, each passenger sailing the entire cruise received distinctive salt & pepper shakers reminiscent of those given on HAL very first World Voyage. To our delight, on our assigned night, we were kindly invited to sit at the captain’s own table along with his lovely wife, Karen and two Senior Officers.

The ms. Amsterdam is an older ship but quite seaworthy and is especially stable for the type of cruising that she does in open waters. Most days I forgot that I was even on a ship since the seas were so calm.   Our “Storm Dodger” Captain Jonathan Mercer was expert at avoiding high winds and storms thus earning his nickname.  I always felt completely safe under his leadership. Captain Jonathan & his wife were most charming, affable and professional as were all the Senior Officers.  

On Grand and Grand World Voyages, Grand Dollars are earned by participating in onboard activities. By the end of the cruise, we had earned over 800 dollars to spend on various items.   Activities on board were varied.  Daily morning Tai Chi classes kept us busy.  Trivia was also quite popular as was Arts & Crafts, computer classes, bridge and pool games. We attended most of the lecture series on Sea Days.  I specially enjoyed the talks on space, various cultures and photography.  We were invited to attend several wine tasting events throughout the voyage.  We loved the many Culinary Arts Demonstrations and Tasting classes, too.  I hope that we can duplicate the dishes served using the many recipe cards we received. The movies on board were fairly current and I watched a few of them.  On Location Guide Barbara Heanni and Nyron Peters, from the Shore Excursion Staff gave detailed talks about Things to See & Do in port.  These talks on the ports of call were quite useful and most informative.  How nice that HAL has someone on board to help passengers who wish to sightsee independently.  At most ports, there was a complimentary shuttle service to the center of town or to a nearby mall.  Several times, we used this service.  

The main reason I took this cruise was the itinerary.    It was so exciting to transit the Suez Canal for the first time.  We have cruised through the Panama Canal several times previously and always enjoy the experience.  One personal highlight for us was our unforgettable one night’s stay in an idyllic over water thatched-roofed bungalow in Tahiti at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa.  A Welcome drink at reception, plus a bottle of champagne and wine along with fruit and snacks awaited us in our bungalow.   We had a wonderful day swimming in the clear, aquamarine shallow waters of the lagoon, enjoying the beautiful views of the stunning mountains, strolling the white coral sandy beach and relaxing in the hammocks.  An extravagant dinner buffet with a complimentary bottle of wine followed by a spectacular floorshow ending with an outdoor fire-eaters performance completed the magical day for us.  At night, we viewed the lighted lagoon beneath us through the cutout window in the floor of our bungalow.  After a sumptuous breakfast buffet with live entertainment the next morning, we took a walking tour of the facility and enjoyed the beautiful pool before we rejoined our ship at its next port, Moorea.   It was a dream come true for both of us.

 Equally special were our visits to the lost city of Petra and Wadi Rum in Aqaba, Jordan, Chinqua Terra in Livorno, Italy and Dubai, UAE.  Muscat and Salalah, Oman were other new and quite interesting ports for us.   Everyone asks which our favorite port was and we reply whichever port we are visiting at the time.  However, while we were in Israel, we were especially moved while exploring all the biblical sights in Haifa and Ashdod.  Almost all of our shore excursions were sponsored by the ship and they were worthwhile, enjoyable and educational.  We did independent sightseeing in Sydney and in Jakarta since we had previously explored those ports extensively.   

There were so many memorable highlights during our World Cruise onboard the ms. Amsterdam.  One was the very elaborate fun-under-the-setting-sun Australia Beach Party where sand covered the Lido Magrodome pool area.  Bondi Beach lifeguards came on board along with Australia‘s most-sort-after 6-piece band, Hipnosis.  There were huge beach balls, surfboards, beach chairs, water games plus complimentary tropical drinks and food to enhance the beach theme.  What Fun!  The extra-special décor of the 1001 Arabian Sights themed pool deck party set the tone for another wonderful evening.  The Zany April Fool’s Day Costume Party in the Crow’s Nest was hilarious, while the elaborate Black & Silver Ball in the Queen’s Lounge was quite elegant.  The champagne Valentine’s Day Ball in the Queen’s Lounge was oh-so romantic.  It was fun guessing who was under the beautiful masks provided for the Masked Ball in the Queen’s Lounge, the final Gala Night of the cruise.   I was looking forward to the St. Patrick’s Day Party but was surprised that no Irish music was played although there were plenty of pots of gold and other Irish decor to be found.  I especially enjoyed the extravagantly presented monthly High Teas - Royal Dutch, Polynesian, Indonesian and Middle Eastern.  I photographed each of the lavish displays.  I wished that there were more of them.  My husband especially enjoyed the Super Bowl 50 Festivities in the Queen’s Lounge.

Entertainment in general was wonderful and quite diverse. The Bon Voyage Sail-Away Fest was a great way to begin the voyage.  We had complimentary drinks, snacks and live music with the wonderful HAL orchestra.   A similar Sail Away Party occurred on our departure from Sydney. After dinner each night, we enjoyed listening to the very personable Debby Bacon in the Piano Bar.  One night, her husband, Ron joined her for a performance and it was such fun for everyone.  Whenever we could, we also found time to listen to the beautiful music in the Exploration Lounge performed by Adagio, Attila and David from Hungary.  The talented HAL Singers and Dancers performed ten different shows and all were well-paced and entertaining.  One of my favorite Queen’s Lounge performances was the steel drum group from Trinidad, the sensational Island Magic.  I even purchased their CDs.  The cultural Queen’s Lounge shows in Hong Kong, Tahiti, Dubai and Spain were all colorful and memorable.  Often times we had an extra theater performance, Spotlight before the main Showtime Show.  The two well rehearsed Crew Indonesian and Filipino Matinee Shows were standing room only.  Who knew that Nestor Malsi, our wine steward and Filipino Crew Show Organizer had such a marvelous voice?  We attended and thoroughly enjoyed both shows.  After so many days on the ship, we knew the entire cast of both shows, which made the shows even more entertaining.  

During ports of call, we had the opportunity: to ride a camel, an elephant, a mule and horse, swim with stingrays and dolphins and see penguins in their enclosure.   We had close encounters with wild monkeys, kangaroos, emus & koalas. In Singapore, we went on a Night Safari and saw many nocturnal animals in their natural habitats.  On board, there were dance lessons, cultural emergence activities plus didgeridoo, ukulele and belly dancing classes.  I learned enough foreign phrases to get along in the various countries visited.   I tasted exotic foods from many different countries. It is an experience that I will never forget.

Yes, it took plenty of preparation and planning before a cruise of this length.  Imagine, though, touring the world and only unpacking once!    No air flights even were involved since we live in Florida. How wonderful that our price included the shipping of our four large suitcases ahead of time! Gratuities were also included.    We received excellent complimentary laundry service since we are Four Star Mariners.  We made some wonderful new friends that we hope to see again on future HAL cruises.  A cruise of this length may not be for everyone but it was a dream of a lifetime for us.  We are still enjoying our memories when we watch our ship videos and look through our candid ship photos and photo albums.   We were so pleased with the itinerary, the food, the accommodations and the service.  Our next HAL cruise will be on the new ms. Koningsdam later this year.  

 

 

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Amsterdam

January 2016 - 57 Night Grand World Voyage Segment (Ft. Lauderdale To Hong Kong) Cruise on Amsterdam

Around the World by Cruise Ship

“Around the world in 80 days…” goes the song.  However, it took Holland America’s (HAL) ms. Amsterdam 115 glorious days to circumnavigate the globe on our Grand World Voyage 2016.  What an amazing voyage it was!  We visited 24 countries and 41 ports; some were overnight stays.  People ask us how we could stay on a ship that long.  I reply that we loved every minute and that we hope to do it again soon. We were never bored or sea sick and learned so much about the history and culture of the places visited.  It many ways, the cruise changed our thinking on a variety of subjects.  For most passengers, this was their fourth or fifth+ HAL Grand World Cruise.   For us, it was our first Grand World Cruise.  The staff told us that this particular Grand World Cruise sailing had the youngest-aged passengers. One tyke celebrated his first birthday while onboard the entire voyage.  One thousand fifty passengers including 10 children boarded the ship in Fort Lauderdale.  Seven hundred fifty passengers took the entire voyage.  Other passengers joined the voyage for segments.  Most passengers were Americans, many were Floridians but there were plenty of Canadians and Australians onboard plus other nationalities.  Our exciting cruise began January 5, returning April 29, 2016 to and from Fort Lauderdale.

Right from embarkation, things went well.  Within 20 minutes from the time of our arrival at the pier, we were on the ship.  Near the gangway, Pande our Assistant Maitre ’D from our HAL Grand Asia Pacific 2014 Cruise greeted passengers and recognized us.  He instructed a steward to carry our hand luggage and escort us to our cabin.  Wow!  It made us feel like family.  Our former Cruise Director, Gene Young from HAL Grand Voyage ’14 was also stationed at the gangway.   He, also, recognized us immediately.  It was wonderful to have him as our Cruise Director for this cruise, too.  I wonder when the man sleeps. He was involved onboard in so many ways.  

All the stateroom passageways are bright and lined with Dutch maritime art; Deck 1 has Dutch floral art works gracing its walls.  Our mid-ship ocean-view stateroom, # 2598 was in a very stable position on the ship.  It was bright, comfortable and contained sufficient storage space for all our belongings.  The A/C and plumbing worked well throughout the entire cruise.  Unfortunately, stateroom TVs were still not interactive so we often had to visit the Front Desk to get our statements printed.  For my husband, though, the lack of a mini-fridge in our cabin was a big problem. He needed to visit the medical office often to retrieve his medication that needed refrigeration.  Another problem was early morning (5-5:30 AM) noise from a crewmember working on open deck 3 that frequently disturbed our sleep.     Many other guests on our deck complained about this noise.  
 
The public areas of the ship are all well appointed and quite attractive. The floral arrangements are stunning.   However, the very comfortable couches in the Queen’s Lounge (theater) are lower than the upholstered chairs making it difficult viewing the performers on stage while sitting on the couches. Uneven temperatures in certain areas of the ship especially in the Queen’s Lounge made carrying a sweater a necessity.  Still another concern was the slow speed of the internet connection.  We waited until we reached shore to access the Internet.  The ship does need some updating and perhaps will go in for further refurbishment soon.  This in no way detracted from our enjoyment.  The ship was well maintained and always clean. Everyone was comfortable finding their way around this mid-sized ship, which was the perfect size for entering smaller foreign ports.  

The food and service in the Main Dining Room were wonderful.  We had fabulous meals nightly especially on Gala Nights. On the off chance that nothing on the menu was appealing, we could choose Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, steak, chicken or salmon as alternatives.  Although I always am pleased with food and service on HAL ships, on Grand & Grand World Cruises they are superior.  Our Early Seating Main Dining Room (MDR) servers Gede & Berry were professional, personable and efficient, anticipating our needs and checking to see that everything was fine with our meals.   My husband received all his Special Request Meals in a timely fashion.  Gede made a point of bringing the next day’s menus to him as soon as they became available.   In fact, the entire MDR staff did a terrific job daily getting his Special Request Meals correct.    Nestor Malsi, our wine steward, brought our glasses of red wine at our table usually before we even arrived. He always had time to chat with us nightly.   After dinner, I enjoyed stopping by the cheerful door attendant, Woko’s station.  He always remembered my name and knew which after dinner treat I wanted before exiting the MDR.  I cannot say enough about how helpful the HAL staff was in general.  All the crew on board Grand & World Voyages are carefully hand chosen by HAL.

We did dine several times in the two specialty restaurants, The Canaletto & the Pinnacle Grill. The levels of service there were always excellent as were the food.  The Lido Café food was good, too and we always ate at least breakfast there.  In the Lido, wait staff members Imam and Supraman would often assist us in locating a table, brought us the Times Digest daily and remembered our preference for beverages.  They were so professional, friendly and efficient.  We always looked forward to our daily conversations with them. Many times, I enjoyed the Lido Restaurant’s wonderful sushi station at lunchtime.  Another fun place to eat is poolside at the Dive In.  The fries there are extra delicious; so are the several choices of hot dogs and burgers.  

Many other things made the voyage so special.   On Gala Nights, the MDR was festooned with colorful balloons, London-themed umbrellas, paper lanterns, banners, flags or other festive decorations.  On some themed nights depending on the theme, we received Panama or Bowler hats, beautiful masks or leis to wear and keep.  On other Gala evenings, we received heart-shaped boxed Valentine chocolates, long stemmed roses or maracas.   The servers dressed in festive attire for the theme nights, as did many of the passengers.

On many Gala nights, passengers received gifts in their staterooms such as: a nylon  travel bag, a canvas boat bag with matching toiletry bag filled with travel essentials, a moleskin travel journal, a signed paperback travel book, Tiffany & Co HAL ceramic box, HAL Crystal Candle Holder, a Royal Goedewaagen Plate highlighting the itinerary and a travel wallet.  Plus, at the Captain’s Dinners in the Pinnacle Grill, each passenger sailing the entire cruise received distinctive salt & pepper shakers reminiscent of those given on HAL very first World Voyage. To our delight, on our assigned night, we were kindly invited to sit at the captain’s own table along with his lovely wife, Karen and two Senior Officers.

The ms. Amsterdam is an older ship but quite seaworthy and is especially stable for the type of cruising that she does in open waters. Most days I forgot that I was even on a ship since the seas were so calm.   Our “Storm Dodger” Captain Jonathan Mercer was expert at avoiding high winds and storms thus earning his nickname.  I always felt completely safe under his leadership. Captain Jonathan & his wife were most charming, affable and professional as were all the Senior Officers.  

On Grand and Grand World Voyages, Grand Dollars are earned by participating in onboard activities. By the end of the cruise, we had earned over 800 dollars to spend on various items.   Activities on board were varied.  Daily morning Tai Chi classes kept us busy.  Trivia was also quite popular as was Arts & Crafts, computer classes, bridge and pool games. We attended most of the lecture series on Sea Days.  I specially enjoyed the talks on space, various cultures and photography.  We were invited to attend several wine tasting events throughout the voyage.  We loved the many Culinary Arts Demonstrations and Tasting classes, too.  I hope that we can duplicate the dishes served using the many recipe cards we received. The movies on board were fairly current and I watched a few of them.  On Location Guide Barbara Heanni and Nyron Peters, from the Shore Excursion Staff gave detailed talks about Things to See & Do in port.  These talks on the ports of call were quite useful and most informative.  How nice that HAL has someone on board to help passengers who wish to sightsee independently.  At most ports, there was a complimentary shuttle service to the center of town or to a nearby mall.  Several times, we used this service.  

The main reason I took this cruise was the itinerary.    It was so exciting to transit the Suez Canal for the first time.  We have cruised through the Panama Canal several times previously and always enjoy the experience.  One personal highlight for us was our unforgettable one night’s stay in an idyllic over water thatched-roofed bungalow in Tahiti at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa.  A Welcome drink at reception, plus a bottle of champagne and wine along with fruit and snacks awaited us in our bungalow.   We had a wonderful day swimming in the clear, aquamarine shallow waters of the lagoon, enjoying the beautiful views of the stunning mountains, strolling the white coral sandy beach and relaxing in the hammocks.  An extravagant dinner buffet with a complimentary bottle of wine followed by a spectacular floorshow ending with an outdoor fire-eaters performance completed the magical day for us.  At night, we viewed the lighted lagoon beneath us through the cutout window in the floor of our bungalow.  After a sumptuous breakfast buffet with live entertainment the next morning, we took a walking tour of the facility and enjoyed the beautiful pool before we rejoined our ship at its next port, Moorea.   It was a dream come true for both of us.

 Equally special were our visits to the lost city of Petra and Wadi Rum in Aqaba, Jordan, Chinqua Terra in Livorno, Italy and Dubai, UAE.  Muscat and Salalah, Oman were other new and quite interesting ports for us.   Everyone asks which our favorite port was and we reply whichever port we are visiting at the time.  However, while we were in Israel, we were especially moved while exploring all the biblical sights in Haifa and Ashdod.  Almost all of our shore excursions were sponsored by the ship and they were worthwhile, enjoyable and educational.  We did independent sightseeing in Sydney and in Jakarta since we had previously explored those ports extensively.   

There were so many memorable highlights during our World Cruise onboard the ms. Amsterdam.  One was the very elaborate fun-under-the-setting-sun Australia Beach Party where sand covered the Lido Magrodome pool area.  Bondi Beach lifeguards came on board along with Australia‘s most-sort-after 6-piece band, Hipnosis.  There were huge beach balls, surfboards, beach chairs, water games plus complimentary tropical drinks and food to enhance the beach theme.  What Fun!  The extra-special décor of the 1001 Arabian Sights themed pool deck party set the tone for another wonderful evening.  The Zany April Fool’s Day Costume Party in the Crow’s Nest was hilarious, while the elaborate Black & Silver Ball in the Queen’s Lounge was quite elegant.  The champagne Valentine’s Day Ball in the Queen’s Lounge was oh-so romantic.  It was fun guessing who was under the beautiful masks provided for the Masked Ball in the Queen’s Lounge, the final Gala Night of the cruise.   I was looking forward to the St. Patrick’s Day Party but was surprised that no Irish music was played although there were plenty of pots of gold and other Irish decor to be found.  I especially enjoyed the extravagantly presented monthly High Teas - Royal Dutch, Polynesian, Indonesian and Middle Eastern.  I photographed each of the lavish displays.  I wished that there were more of them.  My husband especially enjoyed the Super Bowl 50 Festivities in the Queen’s Lounge.

Entertainment in general was wonderful and quite diverse. The Bon Voyage Sail-Away Fest was a great way to begin the voyage.  We had complimentary drinks, snacks and live music with the wonderful HAL orchestra.   A similar Sail Away Party occurred on our departure from Sydney. After dinner each night, we enjoyed listening to the very personable Debby Bacon in the Piano Bar.  One night, her husband, Ron joined her for a performance and it was such fun for everyone.  Whenever we could, we also found time to listen to the beautiful music in the Exploration Lounge performed by Adagio, Attila and David from Hungary.  The talented HAL Singers and Dancers performed ten different shows and all were well-paced and entertaining.  One of my favorite Queen’s Lounge performances was the steel drum group from Trinidad, the sensational Island Magic.  I even purchased their CDs.  The cultural Queen’s Lounge shows in Hong Kong, Tahiti, Dubai and Spain were all colorful and memorable.  Often times we had an extra theater performance, Spotlight before the main Showtime Show.  The two well rehearsed Crew Indonesian and Filipino Matinee Shows were standing room only.  Who knew that Nestor Malsi, our wine steward and Filipino Crew Show Organizer had such a marvelous voice?  We attended and thoroughly enjoyed both shows.  After so many days on the ship, we knew the entire cast of both shows, which made the shows even more entertaining.  

During ports of call, we had the opportunity: to ride a camel, an elephant, a mule and horse, swim with stingrays and dolphins and see penguins in their enclosure.   We had close encounters with wild monkeys, kangaroos, emus & koalas. In Singapore, we went on a Night Safari and saw many nocturnal animals in their natural habitats.  On board, there were dance lessons, cultural emergence activities plus didgeridoo, ukulele and belly dancing classes.  I learned enough foreign phrases to get along in the various countries visited.   I tasted exotic foods from many different countries. It is an experience that I will never forget.

Yes, it took plenty of preparation and planning before a cruise of this length.  Imagine, though, touring the world and only unpacking once!    No air flights even were involved since we live in Florida. How wonderful that our price included the shipping of our four large suitcases ahead of time! Gratuities were also included.    We received excellent complimentary laundry service since we are Four Star Mariners.  We made some wonderful new friends that we hope to see again on future HAL cruises.  A cruise of this length may not be for everyone but it was a dream of a lifetime for us.  We are still enjoying our memories when we watch our ship videos and look through our candid ship photos and photo albums.   We were so pleased with the itinerary, the food, the accommodations and the service.  Our next HAL cruise will be on the new ms. Koningsdam later this year.  

 

 

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Amsterdam

December 2014 - 14 Night Southern Caribbean Holiday (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip) Cruise on Amsterdam

Amsterdam

December 2014 - 14 Night Panama Canal Eastbound (San Diego To Ft. Lauderdale) Cruise on Amsterdam

14 Night Panama Canal Eastbound Transit - ms Amsterdam

Although we cruised the Panama Canal westbound with HAL several years ago, we decided to repeat the cruise going eastbound for several reasons.  Our main reason was to avoid the expensive flight home from San Diego to Orlando at the conclusion of our ms Amsterdam's 78-day Grand Pacific & Far East Voyage.  The 14-day Panama Canal cruise was back-to-back with our Grand Voyage.   For just a few hundred dollars more, we would avoid the hassle of the west coast flight, the jet lag, excess luggage concerns and could  simply drive home from Fort Lauderdale. Fifty passengers decided to do the same thing.   Our 14-day Panama Canal Cruise departed San Diego on December 8, 2014 visiting the ports of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Huatulco, Mexico, Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, Corinto, Nicaragua, Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, Cartagena, Columbia and Fort Lauderdale.  We even remained in the same stateroom. 

 

We spent embarkation  day in San Diego doing some independent sightseeing that  included the Midway Museum, Little Italy, and Seaport Village.  The destinations were within walking distance of the ship.  Embarkation for us involved simply showing our stateroom key card and a special card alerting the personnel that we were already on the ship then putting personal items through security.  It took just about a minute.  We bypassed the usual boarding process. 

 

The Panama Canal cruise had a completely different feel to it than our previous cruise. Half the crew departed and new staff came on board.  The number of passengers increased; they were much younger and there were more children.  The music around the pool changed as did the activities around the ship. Darcy and the HALcats replaced the Amsterdam Orchestra and did a nice job.   Even the lounge entertainers were different.  The room service menu was shorter and the choices on the MDR menu were different.   

 

 Some things did not change. Service in our stateroom was just as attentive. All of our special requests were attended to daily without fail.  Arif & Made always greeted us with smiles and engaged us in short conversations.  They were very professional and efficient.  Our comfortable ocean view stateroom #2595 was cheery and well stocked; it even had two hair dryers. It was fairly roomy by industry standards.  We had a sitting area with a large end table, lamp and adjustable coffee table,  a desk, a safe, a comfortable queen (two twins)  size bed, good bedside lighting and two end tables. The magnifying mirror came in quite handy every day.  The one thing that I did miss in the room was a mini fridge.  HAL generously sent to our stateroom a vase of flowers that stayed fresh almost  the entire cruise.  There was also a complimentary bottle of champagne and a plate of sweets,  rewards to us for taking the back-to-back cruise.. 

 

We chose to use the captain's Complimentary Dinner for Two in the Pinnacle Grill on Embarkation night.  We were treated royally and service was professional and leisurely.  We saw several other tables of guests from the previous cruise.  Soon after being seated, we were served the captain's complimentary appetizer; it was a delicious scallop.  Our (Jumbo) Shrimp Cocktails were truly jumbo and delicious.  Filet Mignons with Béarnaise sauce and garlic butter were cooked exactly as ordered - rare and were very  tender.  Sautéed mushrooms  and jumbo baked potatoes complemented the entrees and were scrumptious as was the bread.  Although by this time we were full, we did manage to take a few bites of our desserts. I highly recommend this  specialty restaurant.  We definitely will come again on another HAL cruise.  The only thing lacking in this restaurant are windows.

We requested the same servers and same table #330 near the windows in the La Fontaine Main Dining Room. Our servers, Adi & Fosil, always smiling, did an exemplary job catering to our needs and spoiling us. Assistant Dining Room Manager, Pandi not only kept an eye out making sure everything went well, he also stopped by twice nightly making conversation and helping the servers in various ways. Our wine steward was always punctual, reliable and helpful. Although Jumbo Shrimp cocktail was no longer on the menu nightly I found plenty of other choices to keep me happy.  We found the food to be great and the chefs continued to accommodate my husband's meal restrictions.  We also received excellent bar service in the lounges and poolside from Enrico, Ann Marie and Mary Jane. Without asking, they often anticipated our requests for ice water. Several times we took advantage of the Drink of the Day for $5.95 and Happy Hour: Buy 1 Drink, Get the 2nd Same Drink for $1 for Select Beverages.  Happy Hour was the best deal on the ship. 

The selection of food in the Lido also changed somewhat but was still good.  For example the large selection at the sushi station was now significantly reduced but there was still plenty of other choices.  The same ice cream station was still there so I was a happy camper. Be sure to check both sides of the buffet as a few selections are only offered on one side.   For the best fries on the ship, visit the Dive In poolside. 

We enjoyed all the nightly entertainment, especially the Amsterdam Singers & Dancers Shows: Variations, Can't Stop the Music and I Write the Songs.  The singing was excellent and the dancers were talented and energetic. For us, these shows were repeats but still enjoyable.   A few of the other entertaining shows that I recall were vocalist Jacqi Michaels, Comedian and magician Nick Lewin, Pianist, Singer, Marty Henne and Live wire (Celtic music and spirit.)   Jeff Burghart  did funny impressions.  Other Queen's Lounge (theater) shows were the lounge entertainers  Adagio, Dancing with the Stars and the lively Ole, Ole flamenco with a difference.  I missed the crew show on this cruise since it was performed at 11 PM, too late for us to stay up.  I had seen the two crew shows  on the previous cruise that were performed at 3 PM, a better time for us.

We enjoyed many of the activities on the ship especially the very interesting  talks by On Location Guide, Alanna.  She made learning about the history and culture of the area fun and educational at the same time.  Alanna had a easy rapport with the passengers.  We were very impressed with Alanna's knowledge of the workings of the Panama Canal and the port of calls even though this was her first visit to these ports and the Panama Canal.  Her research was thorough and she answered all the questions asked of her. All the on board computer Digital Workshop classes that I attended were easy to understand and helpful.  I  enjoyed the several cooking shows and brought home the printed recipes.  Board games, crosswords and Sudoku are available in the Exploration Cafe.   Just as an aside, the sweets in the cafe are complementary.  One night there was a lively Mexican Fiesta BBQ with live Mariachi music and a selection of grilled favorite.  That night was the Lido Pool Party with a night of fun, music and dancing under the stars as we sailed from Puerto Vallarta to Huatulco, Mexico.  Carlos, the Cruise Director was wonderful in getting passengers involved and up  dancing. Be sure to take the interesting Kitchen Galley Tour and learn interesting facts about how the kitchen operates on the ship.  HAL offers daily religious services and is one of the few remaining cruise lines that still does that.

Movie buffs will enjoy the movies shown in the Wajang Theater 3 times daily.  Popular ones were, If I Stay, The Maze Runner and Jersey Boys. The One Hundred Foot Journey was shown on a large screen in the Queen's Lounge.    

The ship's public areas are stylish without being trendy.  Their decor is subdued with an air of quiet elegance.  When not in use for live entertainment or presentations, the lounges with their lovely fresh flower arrangements, fine art and antiques  are inviting places for reading or writing.   They are well used by passengers.  

Of course, the biggest excitement on board was the daytime full transit of the Panama Canal.  Although this was our second full transit, it was just as much fun and equally interesting.    HAL permits passengers access to the bow so you are close to the action; there is plenty to see all day starting at sunrise.  HAL provided a continental breakfast of juice and Panama rolls as well chilled lemonade and water throughout the day to keep everyone hydrated.  Alanna gave a talk over the loud speakers that reached the public areas. Her talks were supplemented by a local canal lecturer who provided commentary from the bridge, heard on the outside decks, the Lido Restaurant, the Crow's Nest and on TV in staterooms.  Unfortunately the speakers weren't working properly even though they worked fine when tested the previous night.  These things happen and HAL worked around the problem.  We were outside on the bow as we passed under the Bridge of America, passed through the Miraflores Locks, the Pedro Miguel Locks and entered Gatun Lake and the Gatun Locks.  We also saw where the new locks were being built.  This year is the 100th Anniversary of the Historic Panama Canal.  The ship celebrated with a Panamanian Market, authentic foods, drinks and live music poolside. Your friends and family can even watch your ship sail through the locks in real time online by the live webcams located in the Panama Canal.

Ship photographer, Birdie was out and about taking candid shots throughout the transit. Throughout the cruise she always  seemed to be everywhere - in the MDR, on the pier on shore excursions and in general around the ship where something was happening.  She offered her services but never push them which everyone appreciated.  Her photos were so wonderful that we purchased all our candid shots at the conclusion of the cruise.  Although they are expensive purchased singly, $20, as a package they are most reasonable.  They bring back happy memories every time I share them with family and friends.    

The shore excursions that we purchased through HAL in each port of call were all worthwhile and enjoyable. The guides were knowledgeable, interesting and spoke English well. We were most impressed with our Huatulco (Mexico) By Land & Sea tour  and  Colonial San Sebastian in Puerto Vallarta.    Our tour guide in Nicaragua had us all laughing when he tried to convince us that our tour would be in Spanish.  Not only did we enjoy his tour and antics but we all learned lots of Spanish words.  Although our tour in Cartagena was a repeat of our previous HAL shore excursion, we visited different sights around the city and it actually ran an hour longer than scheduled. We felt that we got our money's worth on all these excursions. 

One of the nicest features on the ms Amsterdam is the dome over the mid-ship  swimming pool.   While it is especially useful when the ship sails Alaska, it also protects passengers from wind gusts and sudden, brief thundershowers in the warmer climates as well.    One poor element about the ship is that the comfy couches in the Queen's Lounge are lower than the theater chairs, which makes seeing the performers, especially the dancers' feet much harder.  I also missed the stage sets and back drops at the shows.  However, the excellent service, big smiles of the crew and the good food more than makes up these shortcomings. 

All too soon our 14-day Panama trip was over.  We watched as all the dazzling Christmas decorations were put up (there was a menorah lit each night of Hanukkah, too) in preparation for the Christmas cruise.  Hopefully another great cruise with HAL is in our future perhaps on their new ship, Koningsdam a Pinnacle-class of vessel scheduled for delivery in 2016.  This will be HAL's sixteenth ship in its fleet.   Before I end the review I want to mention the Bonus Days that HAL offers for every $300 spent, which includes prepaid beverage packages and shore excursions, gratuities  as well as on board purchases.  I do not know of any other cruise line that does this.  Through this perk, we are now only eight days shy of reaching the Four Star Level when they offer  free laundry service. 

 

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Amsterdam

September 2014 - 78 Night Grand Pacific & Far East (Seattle To San Diego) Cruise on Amsterdam

What Makes a Holland America (HAL) Grand Voyage so Grand?

For many years, my husband & I discussed visiting the Far East and South Pacific. With our 50th wedding anniversary soon approaching, we started researching cruises to these destinations.  Since Holland America's 2014 Grand Pacific & Far East Voyage was a perfect match for us, we decided not to wait for our 50th Anniversary.  A major selling point for us was that there were no long flights to and from foreign airports involved.  There would be little jet lag also. 

 

Two days prior to the cruise, we flew from Orlando, FL to Seattle, Washington for some independent sightseeing.  On September 21, we boarded the ms Amsterdam in Seattle for our incredible 78-day journey.  For us it was the trip of a lifetime.  For many others on the cruise, this was their forth or fifth + Grand Voyage.  Our Ports of Call were Seattle, Washington,  Kodiak, Alaska, Dutch Harbor, Alaska, Kushiro, Japan, Tokyo, Japan (2 overnights,) Nagasaki, Japan, Jeju, S. Korea, Incheon (Seoul,) S. Korea (2 overnights,) Xingang, China (2 overnights,) Qingdao, China, Shanghai, China (3 overnights,)  Hong Kong (2 overnights,) Phu My, Vietnam, Singapore (2 overnights,) Tanjung Priok (Jakarta,) Indonesia, Bali, Indonesia, Slawi Bay (Komodo Island), Indonesia, Darwin, Australia, Port Douglas (Cains,) Australia, Sydney, Australia (2 overnights,) Nomea, New Caladonia, Kuto (Ile des Pins,) New Caledonia, Lautoka, Fiji, Suva, Fiji, Apia, Samoa, Hilo, Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii (2 overnights,) Lahaina, Hawaii and  San Diego, California.

 

If you have never taken a Grand Journey or World Cruise, perhaps you think these cruises are just like other cruises only longer. These cruises are so much more than that; they are very extraordinary experiences.  Passengers on our voyage bonded together immediately because we knew that we would  be together for 78 days.  We soon became like a family.  The "precious" (HAL's word)  staff, which for the most part is hand picked by Holland America for these cruises is even more attentive and friendly for the same reason.  Service is far superior, more personal, although always wonderful on all HAL cruises.  The passengers were mainly seniors, American for the most part but with some Australians and Canadian;  there was only one child on board for the complete cruise.  Other children did join the cruise for a segment and more children were on board for our Indonesian stops (crew families.) 

 

There were so many extras for every passenger.  Among the most notable were, a Travel Journal (I used mine daily,)  a strong zippered lined shoulder bag including a smaller matching toiletries bag with a leather stateroom/ ID holder and lanyard, a HAL-Steiff Teddy Bear Sailor, Grand Voyage Tiffany mug, ceramic Royal Goedewaagen Grand Voyage Plate plus a sturdy roll along piece of luggage to carry all the gifts home.   Everything was of the highest quality.  Passengers also earn unique Grand Dollars throughout the cruise by participating in various activities.  I turned my dollars in for a flash drive, two compact umbrellas, HAL cosmetic case and ear phones.  MP3 Players were a quite popular choice. 

 

Many evenings there were special Gala Celebrations and formal Theme Nights such as the elaborate Black & Silver and Black & Gold Grand Balls.  Other events were equally unique only more casual such as the Halloween Monster Mash Party, Alaska Salmon Bake, Kimono Night, Tropical Paradise Dinner and Hawaiian Cookout.  Three of my other favorites were the exciting Masked Ball (I loved my gorgeous complimentary hot pink mask,)  Oktoberfest and the Red Lantern Formal Dinner.  HAL went to great expense elaborately decorating the venues for all the planned themed events.  All the servers wore themed costumes.  Of course we had the usual Captain's Welcome Reception and Mariner's Appreciation Night that are always lovely and well-attended.  Two other themed events were the Chef's Farewell Dinner and the Grand Show Buffet. 

Other exciting optional events were extra cost.  Everyone who attend these thought that they were worthwhile. There were a total of nine formal nights on the 78-day cruise. 

 

As we departed each port there was a Farewell Party with complimentary hors d'oeuvres, sometimes even complimentary cocktails and live band. Although we always regretted that we didn't have longer port stays (are they ever long enough?) we all looked forward to the farewell parties.  The ship had the usual daily Afternoon Tea at 3 PM; I only attended the most elaborate themed ones, Royal Dutch, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Filipino and English High Teas.  I photographed each lavish display of pastries. A more unusual high tea was the Cupcake High Tea.

 

Speaking of food, on our Grand Journey there were better choices at all three meals.  For example Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail was always on the MDR dinner menu.  For breakfast  crepes were an unusual offering.   At lunchtime we could always choose from a whole section of sushi, sashimi, mussels and clams in addition to other selections.  Even the room service menu had more choices.  Since the food is always good on HAL, I never was tempted to try the specialty restaurants or extra cost dinners although I had plenty of onboard credits to spend.  I was told that HAL allots more dollars per passenger for food costs on Grand or World cruises which would explain the greater variety and quality.

 

MDR service was uniformly well-paced.  We always finished dinner in about an hour or so (really, I know it's hard to believe.)  We were encouraged to linger and savor our wine.  Our servers, Adi & Fosil, always smiling, did an exemplary job catering to our needs and spoiling us.  Assistant Dining room Manager, Pandi not only kept an eye out making sure everything went well, he also stopped by twice nightly making conversation and helping the servers in various ways.   Noel our wine steward was always punctual, reliable and helpful.  Grand Voyages passengers have a unique package option of a glass of wine each night and it is very reasonably priced; we took advantage of it.  We also received excellent bar service in the lounges and poolside from Enrico, Ann Marie and Mary Jane.  Without asking, they often anticipated our requests for ice water.  

 

Service in our stateroom was just as attentive.  Our room was often made up sometimes even before we returned from breakfast.  All of our special requests were attended to daily without fail.  Arif (Lukman, earlier in the cruise) & Made always greeted us with smiles and engaged us in short conversations.  They were very professional and efficient.  Our comfortable oceanview stateroom #2695 was cheery and well stocked; it even had two hair dryers.  We requested and promptly received extra wooden hangers.  HAL also provided us with a power strip that we used daily.  A suggestion to HAL is that they install bathroom  nightlights. After being disturbed early in the morning on several occasion from crew working on the deck above,  the noises stopped after passengers mentioned the problem during a Q & A session with the officers.  Other minor problems were also fixed after this session.  HAL did listen. 

 

The Queen's Lounge (theater) entertainment was diverse and professional although lacking stage sets.  There was always a main nightly show except when there were port night excursions or when a movie on a big screen was shown in the theater.  We usually had matinee shows if there was no evening show scheduled.  Entertainers often appeared twice with a different show each time.  I enjoyed the talented singers and dancers even when they repeated their three shows on another segment.  They were always energetic.  Just about everyone on board attended the fabulous Indonesian & Filipino crew shows.  The theater was packed for both 3 PM shows and the crew was so proud of their performances - so were we. The shows really helped to bond the crew and passengers.  HAL should schedule these shows at 3 PM on their other cruises as well.  I know that my husband, I and others do not want to stay up until 11 PM to attend the late shows.  I also enjoyed the nightly live entertainment in the various lounges.  Adagio in the Navigation Lounge performed beautiful classical music on the piano and violin.  We were regulars at their pre-dinner performances. Debbie Bacon performed in the Piano Bar; we attended her nightly show at 7 PM.  It was always fun & games with her.  One night she invited her husband, Ron to join her on guitar; it was the highlight for all of us. When we were in ports overnight, Debbie performed outdoors on deck under the stars.  How romantic was that!  We enjoyed the Adagio guys and Debbie so much that we purchased several of their CDs, which they autographed.  When these performers were off, we enjoyed the Neptunes in the Ocean Bar and Larry in the Crown's Next.  They were very entertaining as well. 

 

Although we had a couple of long stretches of sea days, I was never bored.  There were so many daily scheduled activities that I couldn't attend them all.  My favorites were the wonderful Port Talks by Travel Guide Barbara who was so knowledgeable and well travelled and the Kitchen Galley Tour.  I attended most of the quality computer classes by Craig who made learning fun and easy.  There were plenty of history, military history and talks on the culture of the foreign countries that we visited.  I attended all the culinary demonstrations (with printed recipes and samples, of course) and a couple of movies.  A big thanks goes to HAL for providing various religious services throughout the cruise. Few cruise lines do this anymore.   By far one of the most unusual activities on board was the special Neptune Ceremony when we crossed the equator.  What fun the crew, passengers and officers all had poolside.   Complimentary specialty drinks, costumes and decorations added to the festive atmosphere.   

 

The exotic Ports of Call were the main reason we booked this cruise and each was exciting and memorable. My favorite, and it is difficult to pick just one, was perhaps Shanghai. We docked right in the center of the action facing a beautifully lit skyline  complete with a laser show.  The city has a lot to offer visitors.  My husband's favorite was Ile des Pins with its stunning beaches. We both thought that the most unusual port was Komodo Island to see the Komodo Dragons.  How many other cruises stop here?  We enjoyed all of the HAL Shore Excursion and found them to be very worthwhile.   One disappointment, though, was that the scheduled Tokyo stop was  cancelled due to the eminent arrival of  a typhoon.   The captain anticipated the problem, substituted two other exciting ports, Kanazawa and Fukuoka (Hakata) on the opposite side of Japan.  We did not encounter rough seas or rain perhaps just a bit of wind.  Those who had previously visited Tokyo said that these were even better ports.  Special for the Grand Voyages, HAL arranged complementary shuttles in the ports whenever it was feasible.  This was a huge help especially for those touring independently.  In only one port did I have a problem with the shuttles.  That was in Dutch Harbor where there were only two buses in service and no HAL shore excursion offered.  Many passengers resorted to roaming taxis. There were a few other port challenges mostly out of HAL's hands but with a trip this long no one expected perfection.  HAL did their best to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for us all.    

 

HAL provided us all with a plethora of pre-cruise documentation and throughout the cruise.  We received plenty of port information sheets, maps,  ship logs and multi-page Explorer Guides to the ports with things to See and Do, shopping info, dining, sightseeing  suggestions etc.  At each foreign port we receive an extremely handy card listing essential foreign words,  phrases, and a currency conversion charts that I used in every port.  It also listed emergency phone numbers of the ship in port.

 

I made a few minor suggestions to HAL at the end of our cruise.  For the Lido Buffet, I suggested adding lemonade as a beverage.  I enjoyed it in the mornings poolside. Ice tea is provided but the caffeine makes me feel wired.   Tall glasses are needed as it was hard to fill water bottles using juice sized glasses.  I missed having no fat milk available at breakfast.  I suggested more variety of music poolside. Embarkation was very slow (45 minutes,) which surprised me but we were offered cold water or lemonade.  It was just hard to drink the beverage while  moving along the line with jackets and hand luggage while trying to complete the health sheet.   A more serious problem was the fact that the very comfortable couches in the Queen's Theater are lower than the chairs.  If you sit on a couch, it is difficult to see over the heads of people on chairs in front of you.   The main problem for us, though, was the absence of flex time dining.  In ports, it was a rush to make it to the MDR for our 5:30  Early Dining Time.  I have to say that Pondi was always accommodating to our late arrivals.  Only once did we have dinner in the Lido Buffet. Many of the excursion buses in Beijing were delayed two hours  returning to the ship due to evening traffic jams.   We were all treated royally in the Lido restaurant which stayed open late to serve us.  It was nice not to have to change clothes for dinner. 

 

What I enjoyed most about the ship was the dome over the pool area.  We could sit poolside even in Alaska where the temperature was cool.  Although we experience very few rainy days, whenever it got a bit windy or cool, the dome was closed.  Also HAL adjusted time zone changes eastbound at 2PM instead of the usual 2 AM so we didn't lose any sleep - great idea! The well-maintained ship was comfortable although there were several plumbing problems on the long journey. The ship was just the right size to get into the smaller ports and it was easy to find my way around the ship.   Hopefully another HAL Grand Voyage is in my future - what a spectacular way to cruise and be pampered. One unique and valuable bonus offered by HAL is that for every $300 you spend on board, even pre-booked shore excursions and drink packages, you earn credit for a sailing day.  We reached three star level a week early due to this bonus and are now only 8 days shy of level 4 stars when you receive complementary laundry service. 

 

We booked the Back to Back HAL cruise to the Panama Canal, keeping our same stateroom.  So, our vacation lasted an additional 14 days.  Due to the high cost of our return flight from San Diego, it was only a little more money to cruise back to FL on the ship and simply drive home.  But, that is another review.  

 

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MSC Divina

February 2014 - 7 Night Eastern Caribbean (Miami Roundtrip) Cruise on MSC Divina

A Divine Cruise on the MSC Divina

The elegant MSC Divina is the newest and largest (4,000+ passengers) of the 12-ship fleet of the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC.) The MSC Company founded in 1970 is the second largest global cargo shipping company.   The MSC cruise line, however, is still not familiar to most Americans.  Originally called Fantasia, the ship was renamed Divina to honor Sophia Loren, the Godmother of the fleet.    When the cruise line first began cruises in America, I attended a luncheon aboard the MSC Lirica that included a tour of the ship. The cleanliness and elegance of that ship so impressed me that I decided then to definitely cruise on an MSC ship in the future.

 

We planned our cruise on the MSC Divina a year ago when we booked it while onboard our 2013 MSC Poesia cruise.  The 7-night roundtrip cruise from Miami, Florida, February 1-8, 2014 visited St. Maarten, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. Our party of six traveled with a larger group of almost 800 Irishmen for tenor Andy Cooney’s Cruise of Irish Stars 2014.  There was a real feeling of camaraderie among all of us.  Many have cruised annually with this group - some for 8-10 years.   It was fun meeting Jaime, sisters Eileen and Claire all from Ormond Beach and Francesca from the Villages in FL.  

 

The drive from home on the day of sailing took around 3 ½ hours. After dropping off our vehicle at a convenient off-site parking garage, we took the complementary shuttle van to the terminal.  We arrived at 12:30 and boarded the ship within mere minutes.  We quickly headed up to the sumptuous buffet on Deck 14 for a light lunch.  After 42 cruises, this was one of the smoothest embarkations ever.  Our disembarkation went just as smoothly and swiftly.  We utilized the Self-Assist Program of carrying off our own luggage.  

The Compulsory Emergency Drill was a little chaotic at our Muster Station; so many passengers crowded in the area, all carrying life jackets and trying to put them on at the same time.   The straps were a little confusing for many passengers but we all helped one another.  The crew did their best to conduct the drill, checking attendance by scanning room key cards. The predominant language on board is English, by the way. There are few announcements so be sure to read your Daily Program for specific information about events and procedures.

Although I have read many complaints about MSC, mostly when they first entered the American market, I found little to fault the company on this cruise.  What impressed me the most was the sheer beauty of the MSC Divina.  The deco throughout the ship is inviting and elegant. Little touches that you do not first notice catch your attention later. The public rooms are tastefully decorated in a modern Italian style.  As I boarded the ship on Deck 5, I was drawn to the dazzling two deck Swarovski crystal staircases. They were a favorite spot for passengers to take photos.   I especially loved the décor in the stunning Pantheon Theater with its gorgeous silver curtain.   There are no obstructive views.  The stadium-style seating affords every seat an excellent view of the stage.  Since there were so many other live entertainment performances going on at the same time as the production shows, including our own Irish live entertainment, we were always able to get good seats even when we arrived just before Showtime.  No food or drinks are served in the theater.  In general, drinks are not pushed.  


All seventeen lounges and bar areas are beautiful and we would often stop to listen to live music either before or after the Production Shows. My favorite lounge was the Silver Lounge, Deck 6 because of its convenient location and beauty.   Many passengers including us enjoyed the beautiful and timeless classical music played by The Elegant Trio & Igor nightly from 5 PM until late in the reception area on Decks 5 and 6.    I truly felt that I was back in Europe listening to their music.  Since the clientele on board is international, so is the live music around the ship.  Many passengers enjoyed dancing to live music.  The varied dance lessons (Grease Lightning, Country, Cumbia, Bachata, Triburon and Latin - Mambo, Merengue, Samba) offered in the lounges and Aqua Park were very popular and the steps easy to learn.  The Irish passengers especially participated in the Riverdance class.

Our quiet balcony cabin # 9125 also had the same attention to detail, as did the public areas.  It had a very sophisticated décor. The lovely cabin was well- appointed with: a king-size bed, end tables with drawers, sofa with a small cocktail table, tall framed mirror, desk (with mirror) and ample closet space for our belonging.  Gray wall-to-wall carpeting, a safe, framed art and a small fridge completed the furnishings.   Our balcony furnished with a table and two chairs afforded beautiful views of the water.  I really looked forward to returning to our serene and comfortable cabin each evening.

 

The compact bathroom had a small shower stall with clear, unique folding doors that made the room seem larger when opened.  I appreciated the retractable clothesline inside the stall and the two robes.  Dispensers (for environmental reasons) held liquid soap at the sink and shampoo and shower gel in the shower.  The shower cap and sewing kit were nice amenities, although I did miss the usual small bottles of hand lotion and hair conditioner.  There was a regular clean supply of white fluffy bath and hand towels including face cloths.  

Yani did a wonderful job of unobtrusively cleaning and refreshing our stateroom when we vacated it.  I never did get to meet her - although my husband did. Yani also fulfilled our additional requests faithfully.   The ship has a small secret amber light hidden above stateroom doors that alerts the steward whether you are inside or outside the cabin. To turn on lights, you must place your stateroom card in a slot.  I always knew where my card was so I liked this feature.  It also is cost saving for MSC, which is very environmentally oriented.   This system allows your steward to enter your cabin without disturbing you.  What a neat idea!

 

The stateroom corridors were light & cheery with spaced wallpaper panels of Italian scenes.  At one point our passageway widened and we could look right down through broad curved glass walls onto the huge chandelier and the reception area below.  It is most unusual for ship stateroom corridors to have an open feeling.  Just off to the side was a lovely sculpture where we often arranged to meet before getting on the elevators.  

The same unobtrusive service found in our stateroom we also experienced in the lovely Villa Rosa Main Dining Room.  I had requested a table by a window for our party and we received it. Our servers, Putera from Indonesia and Rudy from Bali did a professional job of attending to our requests, often anticipating them.  Our wine bottle was always on our table when we arrived.  The servers replenished our beverages and breadbasket without prompting. The congenial Assistant Maitre‘d Tommy stopped by our table nightly to check on our dining experience.  Fiorentina from Romania was very prompt and carefully assisted passengers receiving Special Request Meals in our section.  She also helped the wait staff when she saw a need.

I enjoyed all the Italian dishes and loved the “flaming” Baked Alaska that the wait staff presented with a flourish. We enjoyed the food and service so much in the main dining room (MDR) that we often ate breakfast or lunch there or in the Black Crab Restaurant (another MDR.)  I especially enjoyed the delicious French toast.   The buffet on Deck 14 had a great selection of fresh produce, casseroles, Italian dishes, cheese, breads, meats & cold cuts.  We all enjoyed the pizzas.  Deserts were plentiful at lunchtime & I enjoyed their chocolate mousse more than once.  We, therefore, never felt the desire to visit a specialty restaurant.  Many passengers frequented the soft serve ice cream machines as did I, which were conveniently located on two sides of the Aqua Park available 2:00-5:00 pm.  

 

Besides the elegance and European style service on the ship, what impressed me greatly was the quality of the nightly shows.  One of the reasons I enjoy cruising is to see the extravagant theater shows and MSC did not disappoint.  Every night there was a different production show.  My favorites are Witches of Paris (French Variety,) Simply Italian (Best Loved Italian Songs,) Frank (Sinatra) Forever and The Tribute (Arias.)  If you like Michael Jackson’s music, you will enjoy Star Walker.  Children seemed mesmerized by Pirates and Wonderland (Alice in Wonderland.)  The costumes were all magnificent and the quality of the singing and dancing was wonderful.  Attending a different variety show each night was a delight for me. Often performers came down the aisles into the audience. I did not really miss hearing a live orchestra because there was so much live music elsewhere on the ship.   Since the passengers are international, it probably is a good move to make the shows mainly singing and dancing sprinkled with acrobats and other stunt performers.  There were no comedian performances for this reason, I think.   Sometimes in the theater prior to the production shows, the energetic animation (entertainment) staff performed impromptu comedy antics that surprised unsuspecting passengers to their amusement and the rest of audience.  The fun helped the wait time seem shorter.
 
Aside from port and shopping lectures, educational presentations were almost nil. Again, I feel the multitude of languages spoken by passengers may be a factor.  There were plenty of parties and other activities.  I attended the culinary demonstration conveniently presented poolside but wished that they had the recipes printed.  The Flower Glory Party in the Black and White Lounge featured popular music of the 60s-80s.  The MSC Factor Talent Contest was entertaining.   Be sure to pack white clothing to wear to the White Party held under the Caribbean Stars on Deck 14. The Celebrate Chinese Wealth Day in the Galaxy Disco and MSC’s Little Italy parties were other fun events.   The single women on the cruise enjoyed dancing with the MSC Divina officers.  I enjoyed the fashion show in the reception area.  All the clothing was for sale in the shops onboard.  I do not remember seeing a fashion show on my other cruises. The open-air Aqua Park screen showed Pavarotti:  The Event Live, Pacific Rim and Captain Phillips.   If you are into fitness, there is a schedule of events going on throughout the day - morning walks, stretching, Aqua Cycling, Aerobics, Zumba, etc.  Jewelry Making, Art & crafts, Scrabble, sport tournaments, napkin folding, Veteran’s Meet, bridge games, Italian lessons, bingo and trivia rounded out other offerings. On Super Bowl Sunday, football fans watched The Seahawks VS. The Broncos in the packed Sports Bar.  

 

Some extra cost events were fun, too.  The men in our group enjoyed the Formula 1 4D Simulator.  Find out if you have what it takes to be a racecar driver.  One unique event was the Winemaker Experience where you join winemaker Greg and custom blend you own bottle of wine.  Another unusual event was the opportunity to try five different “solid” cocktails in one glass.  

 

The young energetic animation team did a great job with organizing and participating in poolside games and other activities.  I answered a math trivia question and won a colorful MSC mouse pad.  My husband & brother-in-law each won one also in a ring toss game.  The lively music poolside played by our Irish group of entertainers was fantastic and quite popular with even those not traveling with our group.  Dancers crowded the limited space in front of the stage area to do Ceili dancing. For me, the water in the five pools was a little too cool so I did not stay in the water a long time.  I did enjoy the whirlpools because the temperature was not too hot for me. There are 150 fountains in the Aqua Park.   Kids loved the waterslide. Shallow areas in the Aqua Park were great for toddlers and young children. There seemed to be no organized activities for children younger than six. 
 
The ports of call were all wonderful but I have been to most of them many times previously.  In St Maarten, we shopped in the village of stores right at the pier.  In San Juan, we rode the complementary trolley near the terminal out to Castillo San Felipe del Morro, “El Morro.”  Later we walked back to the ship stopping along the way in several shops in Old San Juan. I hope to exploere this port more on future cruises.  I understand that new terminals are going to be built.   In Great Stirrup Cay, our MSC shore excursion was an eco-boat tour.  We learned interesting facts about the history of the Bahamas, its local ecology and marine life. We were all encouraged to touch, hold and photograph many marine species.  What surprised me was the necessity of signing a waiver for the eco tour.  Later, we visited the vendor tents at the beach, relaxed on beach lounges and swam in the clear Caribbean water.  The only issue that I had with our day at the beach was the exceptionally long buffet lines that we encountered unprotected from the hot sun.  The wait took away a good portion of our beach time.  Perhaps a box lunch handed out as we departed the ship might be an option to the long lines for the buffet.  

 

One unusual thing that I noticed while on board was that there was a # 13 deck and # 13 lifeboat.  However, there was no # 17 lifeboat.  Cruise Director Andre explained that in Italy # 17 is considered unlucky; #13 is not. I especially recommend MSC to young families since children under 11 sail free when staying with the parents in their cabin.   There were many families on this cruise because of this policy.  In fact, there was a wide range of ages onboard from many foreign countries.  I spoke with passengers from Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Japan.  What an opportunity to get to know people from different cultures!

 

I have a few thoughts for MSC.  Perhaps the ship could stock non-fat milk.  We were always served 2 % at best which they assured us was skimmed milk.  Other times they served whole milk and called it skimmed.   I prefer choosing my own time to dine and this option is not currently available on MSC.  Since we were with a large group with specific entertainment schedules, we all had to choose Early Dining anyway, so this was not an issue on this particular MSC cruise for me.  Be aware that the dining room doors close fifteen minutes after the start of the dining seating.  Another issue was the early 7 AM time for vacating our stateroom on disembarkation day.  This surprised me since our staterooms were not ready until 2 PM on Embarkation Day, which is late for most cruise lines.  You may find some onboard difference if you sail MSC in Europe.  Many passengers found navigating the ship to be a little confusing because the two MDRs used the same main kitchen.  This means passengers sometimes had to go up or down a deck to get from one end of the ship to the other.  Many new ships, in fact, have this similar arrangement.   

What it all comes down to is will I book another cruise on MSC?  The answer is a definite yes. The food and service were good, the shows were wonderful and the ship was simply beautiful.  Best of all, the pricing is very competitive with the major cruise lines and an excellent value.  Special online sales offer even greater savings.    I am already a member of the complementary MSC Club for returning guests. There are several benefits to becoming a member including a complementary cocktail party and various discounts.   Be sure to join after your initial cruise.  Arrivederci, MSC!

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Allure of the Seas

December 2013 - 7 Night Eastern Caribbean (Ft. Lauderdale roundtrip) Cruise on Allure of the Seas

Allure of the Seas - The Allure is the Journey Itself

 

When researching cruise vacations, it is mostly an itinerary driven decision for me; I want to visit new ports.  This time, however, the ship itself was my destination.  After last year’s exciting cruise on the Oasis of the Seas, I wanted to repeat the experience.  Not wanting to see the same production shows, although Hairspray Musical Comedy was marvelous, I searched for a cruise on the three-year-old sister ship, the Allure of the Seas. A neighborhood community center offered a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise, December 8, 2013 on the Allure departing Fort Lauderdale with Ports of Call in Nassau, Bahamas, Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas and Phillipsburg, St. Maarten.  I quickly booked the cruise for my husband and myself and invited my sister & her husband along to introduce them to the biggest ship in the world.  For this cruise, there were 5,800 passengers onboard.

As recommended by RCCL, I pre-booked online all our reservations for our My Time Dining and shows. I have to admit it took some time for me to do all this but it was well worth the effort. You can wait to make reservations on the interactive TV in your stateroom or at the Box Office, Deck 4 but you probably will not get the times that you want. It also helps if you sign the waivers ahead of time for Zip Lining, Ice-Skating, Rock Climbing Walls or the Flow Riders.

Our journey began at the local community center where we left our vehicle for the week.  We boarded the large comfortable coach chartered to take our group to the ship. Our arrival at the terminal was around 12 noon.  It was amazing how quickly and smoothly the embarkation process proceeded.  Within mere minutes, we were up in the extremely busy Windjammer Marketplace buffet, Deck 16 where we were turned away because of sheer volume.  Finally, we ended up in the Wipe Out Café, Deck 15. My advice to you on Embarkation Day is to eat in Sorrento’s, Deck 5, as we did on the Oasis or Café Promenade, Deck 5 and avoid the overcrowded buffet scene.   Following lunch, we took a quick tour of the public areas to get our bearings.  Afterwards, we located our cabins and began unpacking.   There was just enough time to finish unpacking when the ship announced the start of the Compulsory Guest Assembly (Safety) Drill.  The Main Dining Room, (MDR) was our Muster Station and once there, staff members directed us to available seats.  The well-organized drill was over in about twenty minutes.  Then we went out on deck for the DreamWorks Sail Away Party Celebration in the Aqua Theater. After that, it was time to go to dinner.  

When we arrived at the Adagio MDR, Deck 5, the very long line was out the lobby entrance to the restaurant spilling into the Royal Promenade.  There were two lines and unbelievably the longest one was for reserved seating.  The lines moved quickly and within 20 minutes, a server escorted us to our table.  We kept the same table for the entire cruise because we were so impressed with our servers.   After 41 cruises, this was a first for us.  Thawee, our Head Waiter, Vijay our waiter, & Tsahi, his assistant waiter all did a commendable job each night anticipating our needs, helping us decide among menu choices - sometimes even bringing extra dishes for us to try.   Most of our favorite dishes were on the menu over the course of the cruise - Escargot, Prime Rib, Lobster, Fillet Mignon, Rack of Lamb, Duck a la Orange, Lasagna to name a few.  The desserts were so tempting that we never skipped them.  Cherries Jubilee, Baked Alaska, Crème Brulee, Warm Apple Strudel, Tiramisu and the freshly made ice creams were delightful.  We never felt the desire to visit a specialty restaurant since our food and service in Adagio were exceptional.  The nightly dining room music with the Rosario Strings was most enjoyable.  The MDR wait staff also did a wonderful job handling Special Meal Requests. In fact, food in all the many different venues was excellent.  The Windjammer Marketplace Buffet was a feast for the eye.  My husband enjoyed ordering up his own special pizza in Sorrento’s.  All the bread and pastries served throughout the ship are made freshly onboard.  There are 20 Chefs & 222 Cooks onboard the Allure.

We booked Boardwalk Balcony Stateroom #10319.  Although our stay in a very quiet Central Park Balcony Stateroom on the Oasis was fine, we wanted something different on the Allure.  I have to admit that Boardwalk was somewhat noisy many evenings.  We never retired before 11 PM so it was not a problem for us.  We enjoyed stepping outside on our balcony, becoming part of the action below us. I love the carnival atmosphere of Boardwalk with Family Festivals that include face painting, balloon artistry and marching bands.  There is a cool psychic teller booth and a beautiful carrousel, which I rode and long funny mirrors to make you laugh (I liked the one that made me look skinny.) Add in freshly made popcorn ($), Pets at Sea Boutique ($), Candy Beach Sweet Shop ($), 50s diner Johnny Rocket (complementary only for breakfast,) The Ice Cream Parlor ($,) Boardwalk Hot Dog House and Broadway Donuts to complete the atmosphere.  Dressing up in costumes for photos ($) was fun for many families at the Smile Photo Studio.  I felt that I was back on the boardwalk of Atlantic City, NJ.

Our stateroom was airy feeling with light colored walls and furnishings, colorful carpet, mirrors, vanity/desk, comfortable king bed, and a big couch.  The end tables, though, were really too tiny.  If you put more than one or two items on each open oval tier, something was sure to fall off and did.  In our particular layout, the closet with its sliding doors was too close to one end table and side of the bed, which made accessing clothes a problem for two people trying to use the closet simultaneously.  There were plenty of hangers, though. They more than made up for the lack of enough drawer space. Fluffy white robes were a nice touch.  I just wished that the bathroom were large enough for a retractable clothesline. We loved our balcony and often sat out at night enjoying a glass of wine before bedtime.   Our cabin steward, Leo stopped by the first day to introduce himself and was very attentive throughout the cruise keeping our ice buckets filled with ice.   He kept our room clean & stocked with fresh towels & bath amenities.   Leo was friendly and addressed us each by name when he saw us in the hallway.  He accommodated our comings and goings when cleaning our cabin.

This ship is so huge (16 deck) that you feel as if you are in a hotel.  However, do not assume that you will get lost on such a big ship.  There are navigational aids available in different languages called Wayfinder Screens located by elevator lobbies that will show you the route to every part of ship including how to get back to your own stateroom.  I never needed to use them.  The ship is easily navigable.   The Allure, like The Oasis, is divided into seven neighborhoods, Adventure Ocean (Youth Program,) Central Park, Pool & Sports, Vitality Spa & Fitness Center, Broadway, Entertainment Place & Royal Promenade.  The lively Royal Promenade is the center of activities all day/night long.  Passengers love to congregate here to enjoy a beverage, have a snack/meal, shop, or people watch.  There are restaurant, bars, retail shops and lounges.  We sometimes dropped in for chocolate chip cookies at the Café Promenade (open 24 hours.).  Do not pass up the opportunity to ride the unique Rising Tide Bar.  If you enjoy karaoke, check out the popular On Air Club opposite Starbucks.

The staff and crew were most helpful and friendly.  The front desk solved little problems as quickly as possible.   I saw workers in the Windjammer helping passengers carry food to their tables and bringing beverages tableside.  Ken Rush has been with RRCL for 20+ years and obviously does his job well.  His Morning Rush Show however seemed to be as much about selling merchandise and spa treatments as about telling us what there was to do onboard.  This is just part of his job I am sure.

With 626 activities happening onboard, I will just highlight a few of my favorites.  Be sure to consult the Cruise Compass, a daily activity program delivered nightly to your stateroom so you get the most out of your vacation.  I used The Planner, a schedule of the top activities for the entire week given out Embarkation Day to list all my desired activities in one place.  Zip Lining, Flow Rider and the Rock Climbing Walls (200ft. above the sea) are fun to watch even if you do not participate.   They are all complementary activities.  So are the open sessions ice skating (must wear long pants & socks.)  Free Liquor Tasting is available in the Royal Promenade.  The DreamWorks Character Appearances are fun for “kids” of all ages.  I posed with many of the characters myself.  How wonderful that even the 3-D movies are complementary!  I watched several, Turbo, How to Train Your Dragon, Pacific Rim and Man of Steel during my cruise.  Other unusual activities are the Traffic Light Party where the glow beverage glasses describe your relationship status.  For runners, there is a Royal 5K in St. Maarten and a How to Prepare For a 5K Seminar beforehand.  It was a most popular event onshore.  A less demanding activity is the “Walk Through Central Park” with the Allure Landscape Specialist.  I learned many interesting facts about the plants in Central Park.  Zumba classes and the Flash Mob Dance Class were other popular activities.  Although I did not attend the Love & Marriage Game Show, I hear that it too was a lot of fun.   For kids and adults alike, the elaborate DreamWorks Parades and Special Dance Performances should not be missed.  Arrive early for a choice spot.   Try not to miss A Selection of Fountain Shows at least once in the evenings.
 
  We all enjoyed the Aqua Theater Backstage Tour.  The Captain’s Welcome Aboard Reception with complementary champagne, The Welcome Back Cocktail Party and Top Tier Event were equally entertaining. It was fun to “Meet the Stars” (Ice & Aqua cast) at Dazzles.   Finally, I loved the big Glow Party, Studio B. The venue glowed with laser light beams and LCD glitter.  The ship sold light-up accessories and passengers of all ages packed the studio while neon-looking balloons floated over the dance floor.  Some guests wore neon tee shirts and others purchased drinks in glowing glasses.  It was such a fun night for everyone who attended.

The shows onboard are wonderful.  Let me start with the sexy R rated Chicago: The Broadway Musical Comedy performed superbly on the ship.  The Oceanaria Aqua Show in the 600 seats Aqua Theater was awesome especially when you remember that the aerialists, high divers & trampoline acrobats are performing on a moving ship.  No other ships have an Aqua Theater.  The pool is 17.9 feet deep. Perhaps the most unusual and magical show is Blue Planet Production Show.  This spectacular show includes a tree that comes to life, acrobats and more.  You will be talking about this spellbinding show long after it is over.  Do not miss it.  Another unusual show is the Ice Games Ice Show, Studio B, Deck 4 where the ice rink becomes a Monopoly Board with excellent skaters wearing dazzling costumes.  Spectators sit so close to the skaters that some become part of the show. Headliner Showtime Abracadabra was most enjoyable.  If you enjoy ABBA music as I do, you will enjoy this performance.  The talented group sings all the familiar ABBA songs such as Dancing Queen & Take a Chance on Me.  Many passengers bought their DVD after the show.  You will still be singing as you leave the theater.  Comedy Live with Jim David & Eric Lyden was most entertaining.  I was even recorded on the ship DVD during the performances.  

I did not take any shore excursions because I have stayed on the three islands many times over the years.  At our Port of Call in Nassau, we stayed onboard enjoying the now quiet Water Works area.  Usually we enjoy the Solarium (Adults Only) area of a ship but on the Allure, the three-deck area was much too sunny for us.  We did enjoy the Solarium cantilever whirlpool several times.  In St Thomas, we walked into town for some brief shopping and took an inexpensive ($4) open air taxi back to the ship.  It St. Maarten we took the water taxi to the beach and enjoyed the white sand and warm turquoise water.  

Although I was assured pre-cruise that the mechanical problem with one of the three Azipods was fixed, this proved not to be so.  The problem cannot be fixed until February 2014, Captain Johnny said.  At our port of call in Nassau, there developed an additional mechanical problem.  This faulty mechanism holds one of the lifeboats.  The problem delayed our departure.    This in turn greatly delayed our arrival in St Thomas. The earlier mechanical problem plus the high winds we encountered prevented the ship from speeding up enough to compensate for the lost time.  I have to applaud Captain Johnny Faevelen and the cruise line for how they handled the situation onboard.  The captain gave us regular updates so we knew what was happening.  The cruise line gave us a most generous fully refundable shipboard credit which most of us spent in the gift shops anyway.  I also want to add that Captain Johnny was the most visible captain that we ever had on any ship.  He was always eager to pose for photos, chat and answer questions. The captain told us quite a bit about himself including his love of golf and motorcycling.  We even found him strolling around the ship with his parrot AJ on his shoulder. He insists that the Allure is THE biggest ship in the world since it is two inches longer than the Oasis.  The captain of the Oasis disagrees and I refuse to be drawn into the discussion.  It also turns out that Captain Johnny is actually a neighbor of mine.    

One of the smallest gripe that I had did not even affect me.  I could not believe it when my sister told me that her stateroom had no shampoo, conditioner or lotion bottles.  After three days, we realized that this was not just an oversight.  Her steward told her that only repeat guests get these amenities.  Be aware that first time passengers on RCCL must request them.  There was not even a card in the cabin stating this.  I was so embarrassed that RCCL could be so petty about this.  This policy needs to be changed.  Another less minor complaint had to do with the ship charging $35 for those attending the Prohibition Party.  I wanted to attend but did not want to try to consume $35 worth of liquor included in the price.  

Why is the Allure so special to me?  It is all about the beautiful public areas of the ship, the uniqueness of the Aquatheater, Ice Skating Rink & Ice Show, the awesome production shows, unusual parties, events and activities.  It is about all the multiple varied choices you have. Whatever music you enjoy, you can hear it live on the ship be it country western, disco, romantic, piano, rock, 60s, 70s, 80s, karaoke, Mexican, jazz, soul, Island, Calypso, Reggae, Big Band, etc…  The ship appeals to all ages - especially families.  It was nice to see a real mix of passengers onboard. I did not get to do everything that I wanted to do.  There just was not enough time to do it all.  Although I paid a bit more to cruise on the Allure, I felt it was well worth the price.  I hope to take another RCCL cruise in the near future.

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Celebrity Summit

September 2013 - 14 Night Canada & New England (Cape Liberty Roundtrip) Cruise on Celebrity Summit

Celebrity Summit - New England & Canada - 14-Night Fall Foliage Cruise

 

Our 14-night New England & Canada cruise departing September 7, 2013 was the second of our Back-to-Back (B2B) cruises on the Celebrity Summit, so we were already on the ship when our cruise began.  We kept the same stateroom #3092.  A glance out my stateroom window the morning of the start of our cruise showed that it was a beautiful sunny day.  After breakfast, two dozen passengers who were all doing B2B cruises and not taking a shore excursion on Embarkation Day met in a conference room to fill out Custom Declaration Cards.  Then staff members escorted us off the ship to a shuttle bus for the very short ride to Customs and Immigration.  When the next agent became available, we were processed quickly and transferred back on the shuttle bus to the ship.  It was such an easy and quick procedure.  I then went up on deck to snap some photos of the magnificent New York Harbor, Statue of Liberty and Verrazano Narrows Bridge among other sites seen from our ship.  Although, before my retirement, I had lived all of my life in New York, I, too, was impressed with seeing the New York Skyline from the ship’s deck while docked in Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey.  What a glorious sight!

Our ship’s Ports of Call were Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey, Portland, Maine, Bar Harbor, Maine, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Charlottetown, P.E.I., Quebec City, Quebec (overnight,) Quebec City, Quebec and Gaspe, Canada.  It is a wonderful literary and if you have never seen this part of the world before, I highly recommend the cruise.  Every port is exciting, different and interesting.  For peace of mind, we booked Celebrity shore excursions in each port.  The high quality excursions were interesting, educational, and fun.  The guides were well informed and personable.  We chose the first week of the Fall Foliage Cruises because we were hoping for warm weather and we were not disappointed.  The foliage colors were just starting to turn so if the fall foliage is what you want to see book a later date.  

Our Ocean view stateroom #3092 on Deck 3 was conveniently located near the front desk and Grand Foyer, just two decks down from our Main Dinning Room assignment and the Celebrity Theater.  Our cabin was bright and quite comfortable with a king bed, end tables and a small couch with multiple small pillows. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors on one wall made the room seem larger.  A desk with a mirror and chair plus a glass cocktail table and a wall hanging completed the decor.  There were enough drawers, shelves and closet space for our belongings.  My only complaint was that the passageway into the room was a bit narrow especially when we both needed access to the closet, drawers, safe or bathroom.  The bathroom was of average size and adequate for our needs with sufficient towels and other amenities.  I especially appreciated the retractable clothesline in the shower and the nightlight that many ships do not have.   Celebrity provided two robes and a large umbrella for use on the cruise.  We received a complementary logo tote bag to keep.    The attractive ship hallways also seemed a little narrow but still airy-feeling with light colors, landscape photographs on the walls and mirrors on the ceiling.  Our steward, Joanne had a new assistant on this cruise and they again did a great job of keeping our stateroom tidy and stocked with amenities.  

We took almost all our dinners in the elegant yet understated Cosmopolitan Main Dining Room with its 2-deck tall wall of windows looking back to the ocean. Its center ceiling of glass changed from a glowing yellow gold to rose during dinner.  We requested Celebrity Select Dining on this cruise.  Sudarmika from Indonesia and his assistant Melvin from the Philippines continued to serve us throughout the journey at our same table by a window.  The friendly hostess, Gabriella told us to skip the reservations line and proceed directly to our table each night.  This saved us wait time. Our servers did a superb job serving us, anticipating our needs and offering suggestions for the best choices at mealtime. Although we did not always take their suggestions, we did appreciate their knowledgeable advice.  

Head Waitress, Ana from Mexico, handled special meal requests.  We had such a wonderful relationship with her that we would often chat with her at the breakfast and lunch buffets.  She was personable, helpful, upbeat and knowledgeable.   Karen from Columbia was our Wine Stewardess and she did an excellent job of chilling our bottles and refilling our wine glasses.  Shah from India was a friendly Assistant Maitre’d who always stopped by our table to ask how everything was going.  We made friends with Christian from Guest Services and he was a big help to us with any questions that we had.   When Captain Theo was in the public areas of the ship, he always had time for pleasantries. Steve Gayda, our Cruise Director was always available especially on port days.  He was very friendly and chatted with everyone - “Hi, Steve!”

Almost all the MDR meals met with our satisfaction.  We all especially enjoyed the Mushrooms stuffed with Crabmeat appetizer - always on the menu and ordered it frequently.  Other favorites were the beef dishes especially the very tender Prime Rib and, of course, the lobster Tail.  Portions were generous and we barely had room for dessert each night. One entrée, however, did disappoint me.  Instead of incorporating an egg in with the Spaghetti for Spaghetti Carbonara, the chef simply placed a poached egg on top of the spaghetti.  I could not detect any cream in the sauce.  This is not the correct way to prepare this dish.   

 We usually ordered the more unusual flavors of ice cream each night such as Rum Raisin, Cherry Brandy, Rocky Road, Cinnamon and Honey Caramel.   The Crème Brulee was another favorite as was the Baked Alaska.   Breakfast and lunch were usually in the Oceanview Café.  There was always a wonderful selection of fresh salads, entrees, pizzas, pastas, Mexican Grill, Asian Specialties and casseroles as well as deli sandwiches and deserts to please almost everyone.  I loved the hash brown patties, the varieties of Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit for breakfast.  We enjoyed eating real ice cream at the lunch buffet in addition to frozen yogurts, sherbets, soft serve and sugar free ice cream along with several different toppings.  Many cruise line only serve soft serve ice cream at the buffet or poolside.  Once or twice, we enjoyed breakfast or lunch in the MDR on sea days just for a change.  

Celebrity offered rewards for B2B guests.  We received 15% off a shore excursion in Canada, 25% off dinner in a Specialty Restaurant and 20% off AquaSpa treatment.  A much-appreciated benefit was a free load of laundry.  Another perk was lunch in the Quisine restaurant, an unusual restaurant.  As Captain Club Members were received additional rewards for savings on AquaSpa and Digital Printing,  wine bottles, Bingo, Laundry, Coffee Drink in a Specialty Restaurant, Internet Savings and Casino Match Play,  In addition, our travel agent gave us a free dinner in any Specialty Restaurant, a bottle of wine and shipboard credit.  We chose dinner in the Normandy Restaurant. What a treat that was!  There were many servers attending us.  We received a complementary appetizer before our meal even started.  The setting was quite romantic, the service impeccable and the food was divine.  Everything was fabulous and I highly recommend this restaurant especially if you are celebrating a special event while on board.  The only hiccup was that the restaurant sent our vouchers to the incorrect department.  It took several days for the removal of charges from our bill.  

 The ship has all the usual shipboard activities including art auctions, dance, fitness (Zumba) and language classes, trivia, arts & crafts, games, bingo and ship tour.  In addition, there were various seminars, ice carving and port talks.  I very much enjoyed the Champagne Galley tour.   We especially appreciated all the Beyond the Podium Speaker Series of lectures given by Smithsonian Journeys Geologist Professor Pat Abbott, Canada & New England Historian Bruce Daniels and Space Exploration Speaker Jim Kennedy, a retired Director of the Kennedy Space Center.    My husband and I are deeply interest in the space program.  It was why we moved to Florida‘s Space Coast.  Therefore, we attended every space talk.  Speaker Jim Kennedy used to live in my condominium complex and he is still a resident of the area.  It was wonderful chatting with him and his charming wife Bernie.   

Some of the many highlights of my cruise were: Rock the Summit and White Night Parties, ice carving, Captain’s Club Senior Officers’ Cocktail Party, Behind the Stage Doors Q&A & Moonlight Serenade with the Production Cast, Broadway Meet & Greet: Andrea McArdle and the Captain’s Gala Welcome Aboard Toast.  I enjoyed the, iClass Complementary Class for the iPad and iPad Tips and Tricks.   A couple of unexpected delights were riding elevators that looked outside onto the ocean and finding windows to the ocean on the floor of the Oceanside Grill where the restaurant juts out.  

The entertainment was wonderful.  The various lounges had live entertainment in the evenings.  The theater was quite attractive as were all the public areas.  Every single night there was a different Celebrity Theater show.  I especially enjoyed the big production numbers with the talented singers and dancers.  Although these were the same production shows that we saw on the previous Bermuda cruise, iHollywood, Broadway@Sea and Sirens, I enjoyed them all again.  The choreography was first rate.  The Sirens Show had beautiful stage settings.    The costumes for the production numbers were beautiful.  The aerialists were marvelous.  Other enjoyable shows were Comedian Michele Balan from Brooklyn, NY, Mark Preston, member of The Lettermen, Buzz Sutherland, a very funny, personable person, Doug Cameron - performer, arranger and composer and last by not least Glenn Smith, performer, musician and singer.   The only show that I, myself, did not care for but that many others thought was hilarious was Bande Artisque.  There is something here for everyone.  

There were so few kids on board since the cruise was 14-nights long that I never saw any children in the Fun Factory.  Perhaps there were six kids on board.  This was definitely a senior group of cruisers compared with the previous Bermuda cruise, which due to its shorter length of 6 nights was comprised of a younger age group, many working age singles and families with young children.  Everyone on the 14-night cruise wanted to eat early, ordered fewer drinks in the theater and partied less late at night.  

I did some shopping in the neat shops on board.  I bought jewelry, logo items and apparel. Even my husband made some purchases.  There were plenty of daily deals and special sales going on to tempt passengers.  

I want to applaud Celebrity for placing cards on the sun lounges reminding guests not to leave their chairs unattended.   Sun Chairs are at a premium in pool areas.  Unfortunately, I had so little free time on the cruise that I rarely used the beautiful pools, hot tub or indoor Thalassasotheraphy pool.  I also liked the guests did not have to sign for towels, sports equipment or blankets.  Beach towels were in staterooms, also.  I was not however, happy that the cruise line reserved two rows of seats in the theater each night for those guests staying in the highest priced rooms.  When the line emphasizes that guests may not save theater seats for others, it should follow its own rule.  Find another benefit for these guests.  

In summary, our party of four had a very memorable cruise.   Waters were calm and the weather was good.  Entertainment, service and food were fine.  Best of all, the ports were beautiful and the excursions were worthwhile.  We all hope to travel again on Celebrity.  

 

 

 

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Celebrity Summit

September 2013 - 6 Night Bermuda (Cape Liberty roundtrip) Cruise on Celebrity Summit

Celebrity Summit - Bermuda Here We Come

Many weeks after booking our 14-night New England & Canada cruise (September 7, 2013) on the Celebrity Summit departing from Bayonne, NJ including airfare from Orlando, FL to Newark, NJ, we discovered that the Summit would be cruising to Bermuda on a six-night voyage the week right before our two-week cruise.  We had searched for a cruise to Bermuda from a Florida port for some time but Bermuda cruises from Florida are rare.  Therefore, we chose to rebook our flight six days earlier and cruise to Bermuda first on a back-to-back (B2B) Celebrity Summit cruise.  It turned out to be a great idea and we found that the two cruises were completely different experiences. Packing for such a wide range of temperatures proved a little more complicated but we managed to keep our bags way under the airline limit.

We departed September 1 from Orlando International Airport to Newark Airport in New Jersey where Celebrity representatives from a private transportation company met us in the baggage department.  Our Celebrity arranged transfer went smoothly.  The helpful gentleman assigned to us stood nearby to ensure that all our bags arrived safely. He was well organized and chatted with us while we waited.   He kept us well informed about what was happening.  Then he escorted us to a waiting area so more passengers from another flight arriving just minutes after ours could join us.  Soon a large comfortable coach with a friendly driver arrived to take us all to Cape Liberty.    

After a not-so-short ride, we parked at a dismal port receiving area in Bayonne, New Jersey. We claimed our checked luggage and handlers from the port took them directly to the ship. We had only to manage our carry-on bags.  What surprised me next was that we needed to board shuttle buses to take us to the real terminal still a short distance away to begin our boarding preliminaries.  The process was accomplished smoothly and before we knew it, we were on the ship in the buffet café enjoying a sumptuous meal.  Our party of four quickly secured an inside table with a view of the lovely New York Harbor, lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge now, however, shrouded in fog and haze.  My photos were not great but we knew that we had a chance for better photos on our return.  

After lunch, we took a short tour of the public areas until our staterooms became available.    We changed our clothes, put away our hand luggage contents and went up to meet our fellow passengers.   Several announcements pertaining to the start of the safety drill occurred a few hours later.  In our case, we had to stand, crowded in lines in an inside section for many minutes before and during the safety drill.  Luckily, most of the passengers on this cruise were young so this was not a big problem just a bit uncomfortable and hot.  Other Muster Stations were in more convenient lounge areas with seating.     

 Our stateroom on Deck 3 was our home for the next three weeks.  It is quite conveniently located near the front desk and atrium area just two decks down from our Main Dinning Room and the Theater. Our bright Oceanview stateroom #3092 was quite comfortable with a king bed, end tables and a small couch with multiple pillows. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors on one wall made the room seem larger.  A desk with a mirror and chair plus a glass cocktail table and a wall hanging completed the decor.  There were enough drawers, shelves and closet space for our belongings.  My only complaint was that the passageway into the room was a bit narrow especially when we both packed/unpacked at the same time.  The bathroom was of average size and adequate for our needs with sufficient towels and other amenities.  I especially appreciated the retractable clothesline in the shower and the nightlight that many ships do not have.   Celebrity provided two robes and a large umbrella to use on the cruise.  We received a complementary logo tote bag to keep.   Our checked luggage arrived and we began unpacking in earnest until dinnertime.  The attractive ship passageways seemed a little narrow but still airy-feeling with light colors, landscape photographs on the walls and mirrors on the ceiling.  Soon our steward, Joanne stopped by to introduce herself, ask if our luggage had all arrived and to see to our needs.  She was so friendly and accommodating throughout our entire three weeks as was Richard, her assistant for this cruise.  

Service around the ship in general, was great. We chose Celebrity Select Dining and made reservations with a very accommodating Gabriella at the reception desk outside the Main Dining Room on Deck 5.  She did a great job assigning tables but often had to leave her post to escort diners to their tables.  She needs more support staff there.  She was never ruffled no matter how long the line.   For the first couple of days we tried sitting at different tables.  We were looking for not only competent servers but ones with personalities as well.  On our third evening, Sudarmika from Indonesia served us and we decided that he and Melvin were not only professional and attentive but also entertaining.   They remained our servers for the rest of our B2B cruises.   From then on Gabriella told us to avoid the reservations line and proceed directly to our table.  This saved us wait time. Our servers did a superb job serving us, anticipating our needs and offering suggestions for the best choices at mealtime. Although we did not always take their suggestions, we did appreciate their advice and they were always right.  At my urging, Melvin even showed us a photo of his son who is so cute.  

Head Waitress, Ana from Mexico, handled special meal requests.  We had such a wonderful relationship with her that we would find each other up at the buffet for breakfast and lunch just to say hello. We even sang her Happy Birthday one evening in the MDR.  She was personable, helpful, upbeat and knowledgeable.   Karen from Columbia was our Wine Stewardess and she did an excellent job refilling our wine glasses and chilling our bottles.  Shah from India was a friendly Assistant Maitre’d who always stopped by our table to ask how everything was going.  We made friends with Christian from Guest Services and he was a big help to us with any questions that we had. Captain Theo was sometimes seen around the ship and always had time for pleasantries. Steve Gayda, our Cruise Director, was always available especially on port days.  He was very friendly and chatted with everyone.  Hi, Steve!

Almost all the MDR meals met with our satisfaction.  We all especially enjoyed the Mushrooms stuffed with Crabmeat appetizer - always on the menu and ordered it frequently.  Other favorites were the beef dishes especially the very tender Prime Rib and, of course, the lobster Tail.  Portions were generous and we barely had room for dessert each night.  We usually ordered the more unusual flavors of ice cream each night such as Rum Raisin, Cherry Brandy, Rocky Road, Cinnamon and Honey Caramel.   The Crème Brulee was another favorite as was the Baked Alaska.   Breakfast and lunch were usually in the Oceanview Café.  There was always a wonderful selection of fresh salads, entrees, pizzas, pastas, Asian Specialties and casseroles as well as deli sandwiches and deserts to please almost everyone.  I loved the hash brown patties, the varieties of Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit for breakfast.  We enjoyed eating real ice cream at the lunch buffet in addition to sherbets, soft serve and sugar free ice cream with several different toppings.  Many cruise line only serve soft serve ice cream outside the MDR.  Once or twice, we enjoyed breakfast or lunch in the MDR on sea days just for a change.  

 The ship has all the usual shipboard activities including art auctions, dance and fitness (Zumba) classes, trivia, arts & crafts, board games, bingo and a Ship and Champagne Galley tour.  In addition, there were Wellness Seminars, Ice carving, stargazing and lectures given by Dr. Dave a Naturalist.  He spoke about whales, sharks, bioluminescence and other interesting topics.   On our departure from Bermuda, we were invited to use the Helipad. The staff offered us golf umbrellas and icy towels since it was a very sunny, hot day.  We took advantage of this unusual opportunity and enjoyed the view.  There were so many activities every day that we only went swimming one time in the indoor Thalasassotherapy pool. The many kids on board were kept busy building spaceships, watching movies, doing arts & crafts projects,  scavenger hunts, playing ping pong,  face painting and other such activities too numerous to list.  

The entertainment was wonderful. The theater was quite attractive as were all the public areas. I especially enjoyed the big production numbers with the singers and dancers.  The choreography was first rate.  Every single night there was a different show.  The Sirens Show had beautiful stage settings.  Children in the audience were mesmerized and dressed up as Pirates.  The costumes for the production numbers were beautiful.  Other enjoyable shows include musician, actor, impressionist James Stevens and illusionist Jason Bishop.  

Our ship docked in Bermuda for three days.  I took four tours over the three days and enjoyed them all.  We saw almost the entire island and loved the pink sand on the beaches and the friendly tour guides.  They were so knowledgeable and could answer all the various questions.  They often pulled over when possible for us to taken photos at unscheduled stops.  The weather on the trip was perfect and the seas were very calm.  

There were several nice shops on the ship but I held off buying anything since I had shipboard credit to spend on the following cruise.  There were many special sales around the shops and complementary liquor tasting before or after the shows.  The casino was busy at night.  Since the passengers were for the most part young, many partied until late at night.  Many passengers on this cruise preferred to dine late.  They were an active group.  Many were from New Jersey, of course, or the tri-state area.  Up on deck I met a friendly couple from the UK who said that there was a large contingent from her country onboard.  

Sometimes, it really comes down to small things that can make or break a cruise.  After a very early wake up, lugging bags through the airport, maneuvering through security, not receiving any snacks on our United flight, etc… we were tired when we finally boarded our ship.  How nice that we were greeted with glasses of champagne.  It was a wonderful way to start our cruise. We also received champagne on the Galley tour and one evening along with delectable chocolates in the theater.   

Did everything go right, no?  It never does. I have just a few suggestions to offer Celebrity.   Get more help in escorting Select Dining passengers to their seats to ease lines at the front reception desks.   Be more proactive about insisting that passenger use hand sanitizer machines.   There are plenty around the ship but many passengers do not use them.   A third suggestion is to do away with reserve seating in the back two rows of the theater for guests in certain cabin categories. This is sending the wrong message.  There is a policy of no reserving seats in the theater so the ship should not be doing it either.  I heard a lot of grumbling about this. Come up with a different benefit.  Some of the classes needed larger rooms.  For example, the class on ship navigation was too small for the large number of passengers in attendance.  Many of us had to sit on the floor or stand up the entire time.  My final suggestion is to get nicer artwork around the ship.   Very little of the art work appealed to me or anyone else that I spoke with during the cruise.  

We had a wonderful cruise and we looked forward to our next cruise - our fourteen-night cruise to New England and Canada.  Moreover, we finally got some beautiful shots of the New York skyline on our return.  Stay turned for my review of my next Celebrity Summit cruise.


Many weeks after booking our 14-night New England & Canada cruise (September 7, 2013) on the Celebrity Summit departing from Bayonne, NJ including airfare from Orlando, FL to Newark, NJ, we discovered that the Summit would be cruising to Bermuda on a six-night voyage the week right before our two-week cruise.  We had searched for a cruise to Bermuda from a Florida port for some time but Bermuda cruises from Florida are rare.  Therefore, we chose to rebook our flight six days earlier and cruise to Bermuda first on a back-to-back (B2B) Celebrity Summit cruise.  It turned out to be a great idea and we found that the two cruises were completely different experiences. Packing for such a wide range of temperatures proved a little more complicated but we managed to keep our bags way under the airline limit.

We departed September 1 from Orlando International Airport to Newark Airport in New Jersey where Celebrity representatives from a private transportation company met us in the baggage department.  Our Celebrity arranged transfer went smoothly.  The helpful gentleman assigned to us stood nearby to ensure that all our bags arrived safely. He was well organized and chatted with us while we waited.   He kept us well informed about what was happening.  Then he escorted us to a waiting area so more passengers from another flight arriving just minutes after ours could join us.  Soon a large comfortable coach with a friendly driver arrived to take us all to Cape Liberty.    

After a not-so-short ride, we parked at a dismal port receiving area in Bayonne, New Jersey. We claimed our checked luggage and handlers from the port took them directly to the ship. We had only to manage our carry-on bags.  What surprised me next was that we needed to board shuttle buses to take us to the real terminal still a short distance away to begin our boarding preliminaries.  The process was accomplished smoothly and before we knew it, we were on the ship in the buffet café enjoying a sumptuous meal.  Our party of four quickly secured an inside table with a view of the lovely New York Harbor, lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge now, however, shrouded in fog and haze.  My photos were not great but we knew that we had a chance for better photos on our return.  

After lunch, we took a short tour of the public areas until our staterooms became available.    We changed our clothes, put away our hand luggage contents and went up to meet our fellow passengers.   Several announcements pertaining to the start of the safety drill occurred a few hours later.  In our case, we had to stand, crowded in lines in an inside section for many minutes before and during the safety drill.  Luckily, most of the passengers on this cruise were young so this was not a big problem just a bit uncomfortable and hot.  Other Muster Stations were in more convenient lounge areas with seating.     

 Our stateroom on Deck 3 was our home for the next three weeks.  It is quite conveniently located near the front desk and atrium area just two decks down from our Main Dinning Room and the Theater. Our bright Oceanview stateroom #3092 was quite comfortable with a king bed, end tables and a small couch with multiple pillows. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors on one wall made the room seem larger.  A desk with a mirror and chair plus a glass cocktail table and a wall hanging completed the decor.  There were enough drawers, shelves and closet space for our belongings.  My only complaint was that the passageway into the room was a bit narrow especially when we both packed/unpacked at the same time.  The bathroom was of average size and adequate for our needs with sufficient towels and other amenities.  I especially appreciated the retractable clothesline in the shower and the nightlight that many ships do not have.   Celebrity provided two robes and a large umbrella to use on the cruise.  We received a complementary logo tote bag to keep.   Our checked luggage arrived and we began unpacking in earnest until dinnertime.  The attractive ship passageways seemed a little narrow but still airy-feeling with light colors, landscape photographs on the walls and mirrors on the ceiling.  Soon our steward, Joanne stopped by to introduce herself, ask if our luggage had all arrived and to see to our needs.  She was so friendly and accommodating throughout our entire three weeks as was Richard, her assistant for this cruise.  

Service around the ship in general, was great. We chose Celebrity Select Dining and made reservations with a very accommodating Gabriella at the reception desk outside the Main Dining Room on Deck 5.  She did a great job assigning tables but often had to leave her post to escort diners to their tables.  She needs more support staff there.  She was never ruffled no matter how long the line.   For the first couple of days we tried sitting at different tables.  We were looking for not only competent servers but ones with personalities as well.  On our third evening, Sudarmika from Indonesia served us and we decided that he and Melvin were not only professional and attentive but also entertaining.   They remained our servers for the rest of our B2B cruises.   From then on Gabriella told us to avoid the reservations line and proceed directly to our table.  This saved us wait time. Our servers did a superb job serving us, anticipating our needs and offering suggestions for the best choices at mealtime. Although we did not always take their suggestions, we did appreciate their advice and they were always right.  At my urging, Melvin even showed us a photo of his son who is so cute.  

Head Waitress, Ana from Mexico, handled special meal requests.  We had such a wonderful relationship with her that we would find each other up at the buffet for breakfast and lunch just to say hello. We even sang her Happy Birthday one evening in the MDR.  She was personable, helpful, upbeat and knowledgeable.   Karen from Columbia was our Wine Stewardess and she did an excellent job refilling our wine glasses and chilling our bottles.  Shah from India was a friendly Assistant Maitre’d who always stopped by our table to ask how everything was going.  We made friends with Christian from Guest Services and he was a big help to us with any questions that we had. Captain Theo was sometimes seen around the ship and always had time for pleasantries. Steve Gayda, our Cruise Director, was always available especially on port days.  He was very friendly and chatted with everyone.  Hi, Steve!

Almost all the MDR meals met with our satisfaction.  We all especially enjoyed the Mushrooms stuffed with Crabmeat appetizer - always on the menu and ordered it frequently.  Other favorites were the beef dishes especially the very tender Prime Rib and, of course, the lobster Tail.  Portions were generous and we barely had room for dessert each night.  We usually ordered the more unusual flavors of ice cream each night such as Rum Raisin, Cherry Brandy, Rocky Road, Cinnamon and Honey Caramel.   The Crème Brulee was another favorite as was the Baked Alaska.   Breakfast and lunch were usually in the Oceanview Café.  There was always a wonderful selection of fresh salads, entrees, pizzas, pastas, Asian Specialties and casseroles as well as deli sandwiches and deserts to please almost everyone.  I loved the hash brown patties, the varieties of Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit for breakfast.  We enjoyed eating real ice cream at the lunch buffet in addition to sherbets, soft serve and sugar free ice cream with several different toppings.  Many cruise line only serve soft serve ice cream outside the MDR.  Once or twice, we enjoyed breakfast or lunch in the MDR on sea days just for a change.  

 The ship has all the usual shipboard activities including art auctions, dance and fitness (Zumba) classes, trivia, arts & crafts, board games, bingo and a Ship and Champagne Galley tour.  In addition, there were Wellness Seminars, Ice carving, stargazing and lectures given by Dr. Dave a Naturalist.  He spoke about whales, sharks, bioluminescence and other interesting topics.   On our departure from Bermuda, we were invited to use the Helipad. The staff offered us golf umbrellas and icy towels since it was a very sunny, hot day.  We took advantage of this unusual opportunity and enjoyed the view.  There were so many activities every day that we only went swimming one time in the indoor Thalasassotherapy pool. The many kids on board were kept busy building spaceships, watching movies, doing arts & crafts projects,  scavenger hunts, playing ping pong,  face painting and other such activities too numerous to list.  

The entertainment was wonderful. The theater was quite attractive as were all the public areas. I especially enjoyed the big production numbers with the singers and dancers.  The choreography was first rate.  Every single night there was a different show.  The Sirens Show had beautiful stage settings.  Children in the audience were mesmerized and dressed up as Pirates.  The costumes for the production numbers were beautiful.  Other enjoyable shows include musician, actor, impressionist James Stevens and illusionist Jason Bishop.  

Our ship docked in Bermuda for three days.  I took four tours over the three days and enjoyed them all.  We saw almost the entire island and loved the pink sand on the beaches and the friendly tour guides.  They were so knowledgeable and could answer all the various questions.  They often pulled over when possible for us to taken photos at unscheduled stops.  The weather on the trip was perfect and the seas were very calm.  

There were several nice shops on the ship but I held off buying anything since I had shipboard credit to spend on the following cruise.  There were many special sales around the shops and complementary liquor tasting before or after the shows.  The casino was busy at night.  Since the passengers were for the most part young, many partied until late at night.  Many passengers on this cruise preferred to dine late.  They were an active group.  Many were from New Jersey, of course, or the tri-state area.  Up on deck I met a friendly couple from the UK who said that there was a large contingent from her country onboard.  

Sometimes, it really comes down to small things that can make or break a cruise.  After a very early wake up, lugging bags through the airport, maneuvering through security, not receiving any snacks on our United flight, etc… we were tired when we finally boarded our ship.  How nice that we were greeted with glasses of champagne.  It was a wonderful way to start our cruise. We also received champagne on the Galley tour and one evening along with delectable chocolates in the theater.   

Did everything go right, no?  It never does. I have just a few suggestions to offer Celebrity.   Get more help in escorting Select Dining passengers to their seats to ease lines at the front reception desks.   Be more proactive about insisting that passenger use hand sanitizer machines.   There are plenty around the ship but many passengers do not use them.   A third suggestion is to do away with reserve seating in the back two rows of the theater for guests in certain cabin categories. This is sending the wrong message.  There is a policy of no reserving seats in the theater so the ship should not be doing it either.  I heard a lot of grumbling about this. Come up with a different benefit.  Some of the classes needed larger rooms.  For example, the class on ship navigation was too small for the large number of passengers in attendance.  Many of us had to sit on the floor or stand up the entire time.  My final suggestion is to get nicer artwork around the ship.   Very little of the art work appealed to me or anyone else that I spoke with during the cruise.  

We had a wonderful cruise and we looked forward to our next cruise - our fourteen-night cruise to New England and Canada.  Moreover, we finally got some beautiful shots of the New York skyline on our return.  Stay turned for my review of my next Celebrity Summit cruise.


Many weeks after booking our 14-night New England & Canada cruise (September 7, 2013) on the Celebrity Summit departing from Bayonne, NJ including airfare from Orlando, FL to Newark, NJ, we discovered that the Summit would be cruising to Bermuda on a six-night voyage the week right before our two-week cruise.  We had searched for a cruise to Bermuda from a Florida port for some time but Bermuda cruises from Florida are rare.  Therefore, we chose to rebook our flight six days earlier and cruise to Bermuda first on a back-to-back (B2B) Celebrity Summit cruise.  It turned out to be a great idea and we found that the two cruises were completely different experiences. Packing for such a wide range of temperatures proved a little more complicated but we managed to keep our bags way under the airline limit.

We departed September 1 from Orlando International Airport to Newark Airport in New Jersey where Celebrity representatives from a private transportation company met us in the baggage department.  Our Celebrity arranged transfer went smoothly.  The helpful gentleman assigned to us stood nearby to ensure that all our bags arrived safely. He was well organized and chatted with us while we waited.   He kept us well informed about what was happening.  Then he escorted us to a waiting area so more passengers from another flight arriving just minutes after ours could join us.  Soon a large comfortable coach with a friendly driver arrived to take us all to Cape Liberty.    

After a not-so-short ride, we parked at a dismal port receiving area in Bayonne, New Jersey. We claimed our checked luggage and handlers from the port took them directly to the ship. We had only to manage our carry-on bags.  What surprised me next was that we needed to board shuttle buses to take us to the real terminal still a short distance away to begin our boarding preliminaries.  The process was accomplished smoothly and before we knew it, we were on the ship in the buffet café enjoying a sumptuous meal.  Our party of four quickly secured an inside table with a view of the lovely New York Harbor, lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge now, however, shrouded in fog and haze.  My photos were not great but we knew that we had a chance for better photos on our return.  

After lunch, we took a short tour of the public areas until our staterooms became available.    We changed our clothes, put away our hand luggage contents and went up to meet our fellow passengers.   Several announcements pertaining to the start of the safety drill occurred a few hours later.  In our case, we had to stand, crowded in lines in an inside section for many minutes before and during the safety drill.  Luckily, most of the passengers on this cruise were young so this was not a big problem just a bit uncomfortable and hot.  Other Muster Stations were in more convenient lounge areas with seating.     

 Our stateroom on Deck 3 was our home for the next three weeks.  It is quite conveniently located near the front desk and atrium area just two decks down from our Main Dinning Room and the Theater. Our bright Oceanview stateroom #3092 was quite comfortable with a king bed, end tables and a small couch with multiple pillows. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors on one wall made the room seem larger.  A desk with a mirror and chair plus a glass cocktail table and a wall hanging completed the decor.  There were enough drawers, shelves and closet space for our belongings.  My only complaint was that the passageway into the room was a bit narrow especially when we both packed/unpacked at the same time.  The bathroom was of average size and adequate for our needs with sufficient towels and other amenities.  I especially appreciated the retractable clothesline in the shower and the nightlight that many ships do not have.   Celebrity provided two robes and a large umbrella to use on the cruise.  We received a complementary logo tote bag to keep.   Our checked luggage arrived and we began unpacking in earnest until dinnertime.  The attractive ship passageways seemed a little narrow but still airy-feeling with light colors, landscape photographs on the walls and mirrors on the ceiling.  Soon our steward, Joanne stopped by to introduce herself, ask if our luggage had all arrived and to see to our needs.  She was so friendly and accommodating throughout our entire three weeks as was Richard, her assistant for this cruise.  

Service around the ship in general, was great. We chose Celebrity Select Dining and made reservations with a very accommodating Gabriella at the reception desk outside the Main Dining Room on Deck 5.  She did a great job assigning tables but often had to leave her post to escort diners to their tables.  She needs more support staff there.  She was never ruffled no matter how long the line.   For the first couple of days we tried sitting at different tables.  We were looking for not only competent servers but ones with personalities as well.  On our third evening, Sudarmika from Indonesia served us and we decided that he and Melvin were not only professional and attentive but also entertaining.   They remained our servers for the rest of our B2B cruises.   From then on Gabriella told us to avoid the reservations line and proceed directly to our table.  This saved us wait time. Our servers did a superb job serving us, anticipating our needs and offering suggestions for the best choices at mealtime. Although we did not always take their suggestions, we did appreciate their advice and they were always right.  At my urging, Melvin even showed us a photo of his son who is so cute.  

Head Waitress, Ana from Mexico, handled special meal requests.  We had such a wonderful relationship with her that we would find each other up at the buffet for breakfast and lunch just to say hello. We even sang her Happy Birthday one evening in the MDR.  She was personable, helpful, upbeat and knowledgeable.   Karen from Columbia was our Wine Stewardess and she did an excellent job refilling our wine glasses and chilling our bottles.  Shah from India was a friendly Assistant Maitre’d who always stopped by our table to ask how everything was going.  We made friends with Christian from Guest Services and he was a big help to us with any questions that we had. Captain Theo was sometimes seen around the ship and always had time for pleasantries. Steve Gayda, our Cruise Director, was always available especially on port days.  He was very friendly and chatted with everyone.  Hi, Steve!

Almost all the MDR meals met with our satisfaction.  We all especially enjoyed the Mushrooms stuffed with Crabmeat appetizer - always on the menu and ordered it frequently.  Other favorites were the beef dishes especially the very tender Prime Rib and, of course, the lobster Tail.  Portions were generous and we barely had room for dessert each night.  We usually ordered the more unusual flavors of ice cream each night such as Rum Raisin, Cherry Brandy, Rocky Road, Cinnamon and Honey Caramel.   The Crème Brulee was another favorite as was the Baked Alaska.   Breakfast and lunch were usually in the Oceanview Café.  There was always a wonderful selection of fresh salads, entrees, pizzas, pastas, Asian Specialties and casseroles as well as deli sandwiches and deserts to please almost everyone.  I loved the hash brown patties, the varieties of Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit for breakfast.  We enjoyed eating real ice cream at the lunch buffet in addition to sherbets, soft serve and sugar free ice cream with several different toppings.  Many cruise line only serve soft serve ice cream outside the MDR.  Once or twice, we enjoyed breakfast or lunch in the MDR on sea days just for a change.  

 The ship has all the usual shipboard activities including art auctions, dance and fitness (Zumba) classes, trivia, arts & crafts, board games, bingo and a Ship and Champagne Galley tour.  In addition, there were Wellness Seminars, Ice carving, stargazing and lectures given by Dr. Dave a Naturalist.  He spoke about whales, sharks, bioluminescence and other interesting topics.   On our departure from Bermuda, we were invited to use the Helipad. The staff offered us golf umbrellas and icy towels since it was a very sunny, hot day.  We took advantage of this unusual opportunity and enjoyed the view.  There were so many activities every day that we only went swimming one time in the indoor Thalasassotherapy pool. The many kids on board were kept busy building spaceships, watching movies, doing arts & crafts projects,  scavenger hunts, playing ping pong,  face painting and other such activities too numerous to list.  

The entertainment was wonderful. The theater was quite attractive as were all the public areas. I especially enjoyed the big production numbers with the singers and dancers.  The choreography was first rate.  Every single night there was a different show.  The Sirens Show had beautiful stage settings.  Children in the audience were mesmerized and dressed up as Pirates.  The costumes for the production numbers were beautiful.  Other enjoyable shows include musician, actor, impressionist James Stevens and illusionist Jason Bishop.  

Our ship docked in Bermuda for three days.  I took four tours over the three days and enjoyed them all.  We saw almost the entire island and loved the pink sand on the beaches and the friendly tour guides.  They were so knowledgeable and could answer all the various questions.  They often pulled over when possible for us to taken photos at unscheduled stops.  The weather on the trip was perfect and the seas were very calm.  

There were several nice shops on the ship but I held off buying anything since I had shipboard credit to spend on the following cruise.  There were many special sales around the shops and complementary liquor tasting before or after the shows.  The casino was busy at night.  Since the passengers were for the most part young, many partied until late at night.  Many passengers on this cruise preferred to dine late.  They were an active group.  Many were from New Jersey, of course, or the tri-state area.  Up on deck I met a friendly couple from the UK who said that there was a large contingent from her country onboard.  

Sometimes, it really comes down to small things that can make or break a cruise.  After a very early wake up, lugging bags through the airport, maneuvering through security, not receiving any snacks on our United flight, etc… we were tired when we finally boarded our ship.  How nice that we were greeted with glasses of champagne.  It was a wonderful way to start our cruise. We also received champagne on the Galley tour and one evening along with delectable chocolates in the theater.   

Did everything go right, no?  It never does. I have just a few suggestions to offer Celebrity.   Get more help in escorting Select Dining passengers to their seats to ease lines at the front reception desks.   Be more proactive about insisting that passenger use hand sanitizer machines.   There are plenty around the ship but many passengers do not use them.   A third suggestion is to do away with reserve seating in the back two rows of the theater for guests in certain cabin categories. This is sending the wrong message.  There is a policy of no reserving seats in the theater so the ship should not be doing it either.  I heard a lot of grumbling about this. Come up with a different benefit.  Some of the classes needed larger rooms.  For example, the class on ship navigation was too small for the large number of passengers in attendance.  Many of us had to sit on the floor or stand up the entire time.  My final suggestion is to get nicer artwork around the ship.   Very little of the art work appealed to me or anyone else that I spoke with during the cruise.  

We had a wonderful cruise and we looked forward to our next cruise - our fourteen-night cruise to New England and Canada.  Moreover, we finally got some beautiful shots of the New York skyline on our return.  Stay turned for my review of my next Celebrity Summit cruise.


Many weeks after booking our 14-night New England & Canada cruise (September 7, 2013) on the Celebrity Summit departing from Bayonne, NJ including airfare from Orlando, FL to Newark, NJ, we discovered that the Summit would be cruising to Bermuda on a six-night voyage the week right before our two-week cruise.  We had searched for a cruise to Bermuda from a Florida port for some time but Bermuda cruises from Florida are rare.  Therefore, we chose to rebook our flight six days earlier and cruise to Bermuda first on a back-to-back (B2B) Celebrity Summit cruise.  It turned out to be a great idea and we found that the two cruises were completely different experiences. Packing for such a wide range of temperatures proved a little more complicated but we managed to keep our bags way under the airline limit.

We departed September 1 from Orlando International Airport to Newark Airport in New Jersey where Celebrity representatives from a private transportation company met us in the baggage department.  Our Celebrity arranged transfer went smoothly.  The helpful gentleman assigned to us stood nearby to ensure that all our bags arrived safely. He was well organized and chatted with us while we waited.   He kept us well informed about what was happening.  Then he escorted us to a waiting area so more passengers from another flight arriving just minutes after ours could join us.  Soon a large comfortable coach with a friendly driver arrived to take us all to Cape Liberty.    

After a not-so-short ride, we parked at a dismal port receiving area in Bayonne, New Jersey. We claimed our checked luggage and handlers from the port took them directly to the ship. We had only to manage our carry-on bags.  What surprised me next was that we needed to board shuttle buses to take us to the real terminal still a short distance away to begin our boarding preliminaries.  The process was accomplished smoothly and before we knew it, we were on the ship in the buffet café enjoying a sumptuous meal.  Our party of four quickly secured an inside table with a view of the lovely New York Harbor, lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge now, however, shrouded in fog and haze.  My photos were not great but we knew that we had a chance for better photos on our return.  

After lunch, we took a short tour of the public areas until our staterooms became available.    We changed our clothes, put away our hand luggage contents and went up to meet our fellow passengers.   Several announcements pertaining to the start of the safety drill occurred a few hours later.  In our case, we had to stand, crowded in lines in an inside section for many minutes before and during the safety drill.  Luckily, most of the passengers on this cruise were young so this was not a big problem just a bit uncomfortable and hot.  Other Muster Stations were in more convenient lounge areas with seating.     

 Our stateroom on Deck 3 was our home for the next three weeks.  It is quite conveniently located near the front desk and atrium area just two decks down from our Main Dinning Room and the Theater. Our bright Oceanview stateroom #3092 was quite comfortable with a king bed, end tables and a small couch with multiple pillows. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors on one wall made the room seem larger.  A desk with a mirror and chair plus a glass cocktail table and a wall hanging completed the decor.  There were enough drawers, shelves and closet space for our belongings.  My only complaint was that the passageway into the room was a bit narrow especially when we both packed/unpacked at the same time.  The bathroom was of average size and adequate for our needs with sufficient towels and other amenities.  I especially appreciated the retractable clothesline in the shower and the nightlight that many ships do not have.   Celebrity provided two robes and a large umbrella to use on the cruise.  We received a complementary logo tote bag to keep.   Our checked luggage arrived and we began unpacking in earnest until dinnertime.  The attractive ship passageways seemed a little narrow but still airy-feeling with light colors, landscape photographs on the walls and mirrors on the ceiling.  Soon our steward, Joanne stopped by to introduce herself, ask if our luggage had all arrived and to see to our needs.  She was so friendly and accommodating throughout our entire three weeks as was Richard, her assistant for this cruise.  

Service around the ship in general, was great. We chose Celebrity Select Dining and made reservations with a very accommodating Gabriella at the reception desk outside the Main Dining Room on Deck 5.  She did a great job assigning tables but often had to leave her post to escort diners to their tables.  She needs more support staff there.  She was never ruffled no matter how long the line.   For the first couple of days we tried sitting at different tables.  We were looking for not only competent servers but ones with personalities as well.  On our third evening, Sudarmika from Indonesia served us and we decided that he and Melvin were not only professional and attentive but also entertaining.   They remained our servers for the rest of our B2B cruises.   From then on Gabriella told us to avoid the reservations line and proceed directly to our table.  This saved us wait time. Our servers did a superb job serving us, anticipating our needs and offering suggestions for the best choices at mealtime. Although we did not always take their suggestions, we did appreciate their advice and they were always right.  At my urging, Melvin even showed us a photo of his son who is so cute.  

Head Waitress, Ana from Mexico, handled special meal requests.  We had such a wonderful relationship with her that we would find each other up at the buffet for breakfast and lunch just to say hello. We even sang her Happy Birthday one evening in the MDR.  She was personable, helpful, upbeat and knowledgeable.   Karen from Columbia was our Wine Stewardess and she did an excellent job refilling our wine glasses and chilling our bottles.  Shah from India was a friendly Assistant Maitre’d who always stopped by our table to ask how everything was going.  We made friends with Christian from Guest Services and he was a big help to us with any questions that we had. Captain Theo was sometimes seen around the ship and always had time for pleasantries. Steve Gayda, our Cruise Director, was always available especially on port days.  He was very friendly and chatted with everyone.  Hi, Steve!

Almost all the MDR meals met with our satisfaction.  We all especially enjoyed the Mushrooms stuffed with Crabmeat appetizer - always on the menu and ordered it frequently.  Other favorites were the beef dishes especially the very tender Prime Rib and, of course, the lobster Tail.  Portions were generous and we barely had room for dessert each night.  We usually ordered the more unusual flavors of ice cream each night such as Rum Raisin, Cherry Brandy, Rocky Road, Cinnamon and Honey Caramel.   The Crème Brulee was another favorite as was the Baked Alaska.   Breakfast and lunch were usually in the Oceanview Café.  There was always a wonderful selection of fresh salads, entrees, pizzas, pastas, Asian Specialties and casseroles as well as deli sandwiches and deserts to please almost everyone.  I loved the hash brown patties, the varieties of Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit for breakfast.  We enjoyed eating real ice cream at the lunch buffet in addition to sherbets, soft serve and sugar free ice cream with several different toppings.  Many cruise line only serve soft serve ice cream outside the MDR.  Once or twice, we enjoyed breakfast or lunch in the MDR on sea days just for a change.  

 The ship has all the usual shipboard activities including art auctions, dance and fitness (Zumba) classes, trivia, arts & crafts, board games, bingo and a Ship and Champagne Galley tour.  In addition, there were Wellness Seminars, Ice carving, stargazing and lectures given by Dr. Dave a Naturalist.  He spoke about whales, sharks, bioluminescence and other interesting topics.   On our departure from Bermuda, we were invited to use the Helipad. The staff offered us golf umbrellas and icy towels since it was a very sunny, hot day.  We took advantage of this unusual opportunity and enjoyed the view.  There were so many activities every day that we only went swimming one time in the indoor Thalasassotherapy pool. The many kids on board were kept busy building spaceships, watching movies, doing arts & crafts projects,  scavenger hunts, playing ping pong,  face painting and other such activities too numerous to list.  

The entertainment was wonderful. The theater was quite attractive as were all the public areas. I especially enjoyed the big production numbers with the singers and dancers.  The choreography was first rate.  Every single night there was a different show.  The Sirens Show had beautiful stage settings.  Children in the audience were mesmerized and dressed up as Pirates.  The costumes for the production numbers were beautiful.  Other enjoyable shows include musician, actor, impressionist James Stevens and illusionist Jason Bishop.  

Our ship docked in Bermuda for three days.  I took four tours over the three days and enjoyed them all.  We saw almost the entire island and loved the pink sand on the beaches and the friendly tour guides.  They were so knowledgeable and could answer all the various questions.  They often pulled over when possible for us to taken photos at unscheduled stops.  The weather on the trip was perfect and the seas were very calm.  

There were several nice shops on the ship but I held off buying anything since I had shipboard credit to spend on the following cruise.  There were many special sales around the shops and complementary liquor tasting before or after the shows.  The casino was busy at night.  Since the passengers were for the most part young, many partied until late at night.  Many passengers on this cruise preferred to dine late.  They were an active group.  Many were from New Jersey, of course, or the tri-state area.  Up on deck I met a friendly couple from the UK who said that there was a large contingent from her country onboard.  

Sometimes, it really comes down to small things that can make or break a cruise.  After a very early wake up, lugging bags through the airport, maneuvering through security, not receiving any snacks on our United flight, etc… we were tired when we finally boarded our ship.  How nice that we were greeted with glasses of champagne.  It was a wonderful way to start our cruise. We also received champagne on the Galley tour and one evening along with delectable chocolates in the theater.   

Did everything go right, no?  It never does. I have just a few suggestions to offer Celebrity.   Get more help in escorting Select Dining passengers to their seats to ease lines at the front reception desks.   Be more proactive about insisting that passenger use hand sanitizer machines.   There are plenty around the ship but many passengers do not use them.   A third suggestion is to do away with reserve seating in the back two rows of the theater for guests in certain cabin categories. This is sending the wrong message.  There is a policy of no reserving seats in the theater so the ship should not be doing it either.  I heard a lot of grumbling about this. Come up with a different benefit.  Some of the classes needed larger rooms.  For example, the class on ship navigation was too small for the large number of passengers in attendance.  Many of us had to sit on the floor or stand up the entire time.  My final suggestion is to get nicer artwork around the ship.   Very little of the art work appealed to me or anyone else that I spoke with during the cruise.  

We had a wonderful cruise and we looked forward to our next cruise - our fourteen-night cruise to New England and Canada.  Moreover, we finally got some beautiful shots of the New York skyline on our return.  Stay turned for my review of my next Celebrity Summit cruise.


Many weeks after booking our 14-night New England & Canada cruise (September 7, 2013) on the Celebrity Summit departing from Bayonne, NJ including airfare from Orlando, FL to Newark, NJ, we discovered that the Summit would be cruising to Bermuda on a six-night voyage the week right before our two-week cruise.  We had searched for a cruise to Bermuda from a Florida port for some time but Bermuda cruises from Florida are rare.  Therefore, we chose to rebook our flight six days earlier and cruise to Bermuda first on a back-to-back (B2B) Celebrity Summit cruise.  It turned out to be a great idea and we found that the two cruises were completely different experiences. Packing for such a wide range of temperatures proved a little more complicated but we managed to keep our bags way under the airline limit.

We departed September 1 from Orlando International Airport to Newark Airport in New Jersey where Celebrity representatives from a private transportation company met us in the baggage department.  Our Celebrity arranged transfer went smoothly.  The helpful gentleman assigned to us stood nearby to ensure that all our bags arrived safely. He was well organized and chatted with us while we waited.   He kept us well informed about what was happening.  Then he escorted us to a waiting area so more passengers from another flight arriving just minutes after ours could join us.  Soon a large comfortable coach with a friendly driver arrived to take us all to Cape Liberty.    

After a not-so-short ride, we parked at a dismal port receiving area in Bayonne, New Jersey. We claimed our checked luggage and handlers from the port took them directly to the ship. We had only to manage our carry-on bags.  What surprised me next was that we needed to board shuttle buses to take us to the real terminal still a short distance away to begin our boarding preliminaries.  The process was accomplished smoothly and before we knew it, we were on the ship in the buffet café enjoying a sumptuous meal.  Our party of four quickly secured an inside table with a view of the lovely New York Harbor, lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge now, however, shrouded in fog and haze.  My photos were not great but we knew that we had a chance for better photos on our return.  

After lunch, we took a short tour of the public areas until our staterooms became available.    We changed our clothes, put away our hand luggage contents and went up to meet our fellow passengers.   Several announcements pertaining to the start of the safety drill occurred a few hours later.  In our case, we had to stand, crowded in lines in an inside section for many minutes before and during the safety drill.  Luckily, most of the passengers on this cruise were young so this was not a big problem just a bit uncomfortable and hot.  Other Muster Stations were in more convenient lounge areas with seating.     

 Our stateroom on Deck 3 was our home for the next three weeks.  It is quite conveniently located near the front desk and atrium area just two decks down from our Main Dinning Room and the Theater. Our bright Oceanview stateroom #3092 was quite comfortable with a king bed, end tables and a small couch with multiple pillows. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors on one wall made the room seem larger.  A desk with a mirror and chair plus a glass cocktail table and a wall hanging completed the decor.  There were enough drawers, shelves and closet space for our belongings.  My only complaint was that the passageway into the room was a bit narrow especially when we both packed/unpacked at the same time.  The bathroom was of average size and adequate for our needs with sufficient towels and other amenities.  I especially appreciated the retractable clothesline in the shower and the nightlight that many ships do not have.   Celebrity provided two robes and a large umbrella to use on the cruise.  We received a complementary logo tote bag to keep.   Our checked luggage arrived and we began unpacking in earnest until dinnertime.  The attractive ship passageways seemed a little narrow but still airy-feeling with light colors, landscape photographs on the walls and mirrors on the ceiling.  Soon our steward, Joanne stopped by to introduce herself, ask if our luggage had all arrived and to see to our needs.  She was so friendly and accommodating throughout our entire three weeks as was Richard, her assistant for this cruise.  

Service around the ship in general, was great. We chose Celebrity Select Dining and made reservations with a very accommodating Gabriella at the reception desk outside the Main Dining Room on Deck 5.  She did a great job assigning tables but often had to leave her post to escort diners to their tables.  She needs more support staff there.  She was never ruffled no matter how long the line.   For the first couple of days we tried sitting at different tables.  We were looking for not only competent servers but ones with personalities as well.  On our third evening, Sudarmika from Indonesia served us and we decided that he and Melvin were not only professional and attentive but also entertaining.   They remained our servers for the rest of our B2B cruises.   From then on Gabriella told us to avoid the reservations line and proceed directly to our table.  This saved us wait time. Our servers did a superb job serving us, anticipating our needs and offering suggestions for the best choices at mealtime. Although we did not always take their suggestions, we did appreciate their advice and they were always right.  At my urging, Melvin even showed us a photo of his son who is so cute.  

Head Waitress, Ana from Mexico, handled special meal requests.  We had such a wonderful relationship with her that we would find each other up at the buffet for breakfast and lunch just to say hello. We even sang her Happy Birthday one evening in the MDR.  She was personable, helpful, upbeat and knowledgeable.   Karen from Columbia was our Wine Stewardess and she did an excellent job refilling our wine glasses and chilling our bottles.  Shah from India was a friendly Assistant Maitre’d who always stopped by our table to ask how everything was going.  We made friends with Christian from Guest Services and he was a big help to us with any questions that we had. Captain Theo was sometimes seen around the ship and always had time for pleasantries. Steve Gayda, our Cruise Director, was always available especially on port days.  He was very friendly and chatted with everyone.  Hi, Steve!

Almost all the MDR meals met with our satisfaction.  We all especially enjoyed the Mushrooms stuffed with Crabmeat appetizer - always on the menu and ordered it frequently.  Other favorites were the beef dishes especially the very tender Prime Rib and, of course, the lobster Tail.  Portions were generous and we barely had room for dessert each night.  We usually ordered the more unusual flavors of ice cream each night such as Rum Raisin, Cherry Brandy, Rocky Road, Cinnamon and Honey Caramel.   The Crème Brulee was another favorite as was the Baked Alaska.   Breakfast and lunch were usually in the Oceanview Café.  There was always a wonderful selection of fresh salads, entrees, pizzas, pastas, Asian Specialties and casseroles as well as deli sandwiches and deserts to please almost everyone.  I loved the hash brown patties, the varieties of Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit for breakfast.  We enjoyed eating real ice cream at the lunch buffet in addition to sherbets, soft serve and sugar free ice cream with several different toppings.  Many cruise line only serve soft serve ice cream outside the MDR.  Once or twice, we enjoyed breakfast or lunch in the MDR on sea days just for a change.  

 The ship has all the usual shipboard activities including art auctions, dance and fitness (Zumba) classes, trivia, arts & crafts, board games, bingo and a Ship and Champagne Galley tour.  In addition, there were Wellness Seminars, Ice carving, stargazing and lectures given by Dr. Dave a Naturalist.  He spoke about whales, sharks, bioluminescence and other interesting topics.   On our departure from Bermuda, we were invited to use the Helipad. The staff offered us golf umbrellas and icy towels since it was a very sunny, hot day.  We took advantage of this unusual opportunity and enjoyed the view.  There were so many activities every day that we only went swimming one time in the indoor Thalasassotherapy pool. The many kids on board were kept busy building spaceships, watching movies, doing arts & crafts projects,  scavenger hunts, playing ping pong,  face painting and other such activities too numerous to list.  

The entertainment was wonderful. The theater was quite attractive as were all the public areas. I especially enjoyed the big production numbers with the singers and dancers.  The choreography was first rate.  Every single night there was a different show.  The Sirens Show had beautiful stage settings.  Children in the audience were mesmerized and dressed up as Pirates.  The costumes for the production numbers were beautiful.  Other enjoyable shows include musician, actor, impressionist James Stevens and illusionist Jason Bishop.  

Our ship docked in Bermuda for three days.  I took four tours over the three days and enjoyed them all.  We saw almost the entire island and loved the pink sand on the beaches and the friendly tour guides.  They were so knowledgeable and could answer all the various questions.  They often pulled over when possible for us to taken photos at unscheduled stops.  The weather on the trip was perfect and the seas were very calm.  

There were several nice shops on the ship but I held off buying anything since I had shipboard credit to spend on the following cruise.  There were many special sales around the shops and complementary liquor tasting before or after the shows.  The casino was busy at night.  Since the passengers were for the most part young, many partied until late at night.  Many passengers on this cruise preferred to dine late.  They were an active group.  Many were from New Jersey, of course, or the tri-state area.  Up on deck I met a friendly couple from the UK who said that there was a large contingent from her country onboard.  

Sometimes, it really comes down to small things that can make or break a cruise.  After a very early wake up, lugging bags through the airport, maneuvering through security, not receiving any snacks on our United flight, etc… we were tired when we finally boarded our ship.  How nice that we were greeted with glasses of champagne.  It was a wonderful way to start our cruise. We also received champagne on the Galley tour and one evening along with delectable chocolates in the theater.   

Did everything go right, no?  It never does. I have just a few suggestions to offer Celebrity.   Get more help in escorting Select Dining passengers to their seats to ease lines at the front reception desks.   Be more proactive about insisting that passenger use hand sanitizer machines.   There are plenty around the ship but many passengers do not use them.   A third suggestion is to do away with reserve seating in the back two rows of the theater for guests in certain cabin categories. This is sending the wrong message.  There is a policy of no reserving seats in the theater so the ship should not be doing it either.  I heard a lot of grumbling about this. Come up with a different benefit.  Some of the classes needed larger rooms.  For example, the class on ship navigation was too small for the large number of passengers in attendance.  Many of us had to sit on the floor or stand up the entire time.  My final suggestion is to get nicer artwork around the ship.   Very little of the art work appealed to me or anyone else that I spoke with during the cruise.  

We had a wonderful cruise and we looked forward to our next cruise - our fourteen-night cruise to New England and Canada.  Moreover, we finally got some beautiful shots of the New York skyline on our return.  Stay turned for my review of my next Celebrity Summit cruise.


Many weeks after booking our 14-night New England & Canada cruise (September 7, 2013) on the Celebrity Summit departing from Bayonne, NJ including airfare from Orlando, FL to Newark, NJ, we discovered that the Summit would be cruising to Bermuda on a six-night voyage the week right before our two-week cruise.  We had searched for a cruise to Bermuda from a Florida port for some time but Bermuda cruises from Florida are rare.  Therefore, we chose to rebook our flight six days earlier and cruise to Bermuda first on a back-to-back (B2B) Celebrity Summit cruise.  It turned out to be a great idea and we found that the two cruises were completely different experiences. Packing for such a wide range of temperatures proved a little more complicated but we managed to keep our bags way under the airline limit.

We departed September 1 from Orlando International Airport to Newark Airport in New Jersey where Celebrity representatives from a private transportation company met us in the baggage department.  Our Celebrity arranged transfer went smoothly.  The helpful gentleman assigned to us stood nearby to ensure that all our bags arrived safely. He was well organized and chatted with us while we waited.   He kept us well informed about what was happening.  Then he escorted us to a waiting area so more passengers from another flight arriving just minutes after ours could join us.  Soon a large comfortable coach with a friendly driver arrived to take us all to Cape Liberty.    

After a not-so-short ride, we parked at a dismal port receiving area in Bayonne, New Jersey. We claimed our checked luggage and handlers from the port took them directly to the ship. We had only to manage our carry-on bags.  What surprised me next was that we needed to board shuttle buses to take us to the real terminal still a short distance away to begin our boarding preliminaries.  The process was accomplished smoothly and before we knew it, we were on the ship in the buffet café enjoying a sumptuous meal.  Our party of four quickly secured an inside table with a view of the lovely New York Harbor, lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge now, however, shrouded in fog and haze.  My photos were not great but we knew that we had a chance for better photos on our return.  

After lunch, we took a short tour of the public areas until our staterooms became available.    We changed our clothes, put away our hand luggage contents and went up to meet our fellow passengers.   Several announcements pertaining to the start of the safety drill occurred a few hours later.  In our case, we had to stand, crowded in lines in an inside section for many minutes before and during the safety drill.  Luckily, most of the passengers on this cruise were young so this was not a big problem just a bit uncomfortable and hot.  Other Muster Stations were in more convenient lounge areas with seating.     

 Our stateroom on Deck 3 was our home for the next three weeks.  It is quite conveniently located near the front desk and atrium area just two decks down from our Main Dinning Room and the Theater. Our bright Oceanview stateroom #3092 was quite comfortable with a king bed, end tables and a small couch with multiple pillows. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors on one wall made the room seem larger.  A desk with a mirror and chair plus a glass cocktail table and a wall hanging completed the decor.  There were enough drawers, shelves and closet space for our belongings.  My only complaint was that the passageway into the room was a bit narrow especially when we both packed/unpacked at the same time.  The bathroom was of average size and adequate for our needs with sufficient towels and other amenities.  I especially appreciated the retractable clothesline in the shower and the nightlight that many ships do not have.   Celebrity provided two robes and a large umbrella to use on the cruise.  We received a complementary logo tote bag to keep.   Our checked luggage arrived and we began unpacking in earnest until dinnertime.  The attractive ship passageways seemed a little narrow but still airy-feeling with light colors, landscape photographs on the walls and mirrors on the ceiling.  Soon our steward, Joanne stopped by to introduce herself, ask if our luggage had all arrived and to see to our needs.  She was so friendly and accommodating throughout our entire three weeks as was Richard, her assistant for this cruise.  

Service around the ship in general, was great. We chose Celebrity Select Dining and made reservations with a very accommodating Gabriella at the reception desk outside the Main Dining Room on Deck 5.  She did a great job assigning tables but often had to leave her post to escort diners to their tables.  She needs more support staff there.  She was never ruffled no matter how long the line.   For the first couple of days we tried sitting at different tables.  We were looking for not only competent servers but ones with personalities as well.  On our third evening, Sudarmika from Indonesia served us and we decided that he and Melvin were not only professional and attentive but also entertaining.   They remained our servers for the rest of our B2B cruises.   From then on Gabriella told us to avoid the reservations line and proceed directly to our table.  This saved us wait time. Our servers did a superb job serving us, anticipating our needs and offering suggestions for the best choices at mealtime. Although we did not always take their suggestions, we did appreciate their advice and they were always right.  At my urging, Melvin even showed us a photo of his son who is so cute.  

Head Waitress, Ana from Mexico, handled special meal requests.  We had such a wonderful relationship with her that we would find each other up at the buffet for breakfast and lunch just to say hello. We even sang her Happy Birthday one evening in the MDR.  She was personable, helpful, upbeat and knowledgeable.   Karen from Columbia was our Wine Stewardess and she did an excellent job refilling our wine glasses and chilling our bottles.  Shah from India was a friendly Assistant Maitre’d who always stopped by our table to ask how everything was going.  We made friends with Christian from Guest Services and he was a big help to us with any questions that we had. Captain Theo was sometimes seen around the ship and always had time for pleasantries. Steve Gayda, our Cruise Director, was always available especially on port days.  He was very friendly and chatted with everyone.  Hi, Steve!

Almost all the MDR meals met with our satisfaction.  We all especially enjoyed the Mushrooms stuffed with Crabmeat appetizer - always on the menu and ordered it frequently.  Other favorites were the beef dishes especially the very tender Prime Rib and, of course, the lobster Tail.  Portions were generous and we barely had room for dessert each night.  We usually ordered the more unusual flavors of ice cream each night such as Rum Raisin, Cherry Brandy, Rocky Road, Cinnamon and Honey Caramel.   The Crème Brulee was another favorite as was the Baked Alaska.   Breakfast and lunch were usually in the Oceanview Café.  There was always a wonderful selection of fresh salads, entrees, pizzas, pastas, Asian Specialties and casseroles as well as deli sandwiches and deserts to please almost everyone.  I loved the hash brown patties, the varieties of Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit for breakfast.  We enjoyed eating real ice cream at the lunch buffet in addition to sherbets, soft serve and sugar free ice cream with several different toppings.  Many cruise line only serve soft serve ice cream outside the MDR.  Once or twice, we enjoyed breakfast or lunch in the MDR on sea days just for a change.  

 The ship has all the usual shipboard activities including art auctions, dance and fitness (Zumba) classes, trivia, arts & crafts, board games, bingo and a Ship and Champagne Galley tour.  In addition, there were Wellness Seminars, Ice carving, stargazing and lectures given by Dr. Dave a Naturalist.  He spoke about whales, sharks, bioluminescence and other interesting topics.   On our departure from Bermuda, we were invited to use the Helipad. The staff offered us golf umbrellas and icy towels since it was a very sunny, hot day.  We took advantage of this unusual opportunity and enjoyed the view.  There were so many activities every day that we only went swimming one time in the indoor Thalasassotherapy pool. The many kids on board were kept busy building spaceships, watching movies, doing arts & crafts projects,  scavenger hunts, playing ping pong,  face painting and other such activities too numerous to list.  

The entertainment was wonderful. The theater was quite attractive as were all the public areas. I especially enjoyed the big production numbers with the singers and dancers.  The choreography was first rate.  Every single night there was a different show.  The Sirens Show had beautiful stage settings.  Children in the audience were mesmerized and dressed up as Pirates.  The costumes for the production numbers were beautiful.  Other enjoyable shows include musician, actor, impressionist James Stevens and illusionist Jason Bishop.  

Our ship docked in Bermuda for three days.  I took four tours over the three days and enjoyed them all.  We saw almost the entire island and loved the pink sand on the beaches and the friendly tour guides.  They were so knowledgeable and could answer all the various questions.  They often pulled over when possible for us to taken photos at unscheduled stops.  The weather on the trip was perfect and the seas were very calm.  

There were several nice shops on the ship but I held off buying anything since I had shipboard credit to spend on the following cruise.  There were many special sales around the shops and complementary liquor tasting before or after the shows.  The casino was busy at night.  Since the passengers were for the most part young, many partied until late at night.  Many passengers on this cruise preferred to dine late.  They were an active group.  Many were from New Jersey, of course, or the tri-state area.  Up on deck I met a friendly couple from the UK who said that there was a large contingent from her country onboard.  

Sometimes, it really comes down to small things that can make or break a cruise.  After a very early wake up, lugging bags through the airport, maneuvering through security, not receiving any snacks on our United flight, etc… we were tired when we finally boarded our ship.  How nice that we were greeted with glasses of champagne.  It was a wonderful way to start our cruise. We also received champagne on the Galley tour and one evening along with delectable chocolates in the theater.   

Did everything go right, no?  It never does. I have just a few suggestions to offer Celebrity.   Get more help in escorting Select Dining passengers to their seats to ease lines at the front reception desks.   Be more proactive about insisting that passenger use hand sanitizer machines.   There are plenty around the ship but many passengers do not use them.   A third suggestion is to do away with reserve seating in the back two rows of the theater for guests in certain cabin categories. This is sending the wrong message.  There is a policy of no reserving seats in the theater so the ship should not be doing it either.  I heard a lot of grumbling about this. Come up with a different benefit.  Some of the classes needed larger rooms.  For example, the class on ship navigation was too small for the large number of passengers in attendance.  Many of us had to sit on the floor or stand up the entire time.  My final suggestion is to get nicer artwork around the ship.   Very little of the art work appealed to me or anyone else that I spoke with during the cruise.  

We had a wonderful cruise and we looked forward to our next cruise - our fourteen-night cruise to New England and Canada.  Moreover, we finally got some beautiful shots of the New York skyline on our return.  Stay turned for my review of my next Celebrity Summit cruise.


Many weeks after booking our 14-night New England & Canada cruise (September 7, 2013) on the Celebrity Summit departing from Bayonne, NJ including airfare from Orlando, FL to Newark, NJ, we discovered that the Summit would be cruising to Bermuda on a six-night voyage the week right before our two-week cruise.  We had searched for a cruise to Bermuda from a Florida port for some time but Bermuda cruises from Florida are rare.  Therefore, we chose to rebook our flight six days earlier and cruise to Bermuda first on a back-to-back (B2B) Celebrity Summit cruise.  It turned out to be a great idea and we found that the two cruises were completely different experiences. Packing for such a wide range of temperatures proved a little more complicated but we managed to keep our bags way under the airline limit.

We departed September 1 from Orlando International Airport to Newark Airport in New Jersey where Celebrity representatives from a private transportation company met us in the baggage department.  Our Celebrity arranged transfer went smoothly.  The helpful gentleman assigned to us stood nearby to ensure that all our bags arrived safely. He was well organized and chatted with us while we waited.   He kept us well informed about what was happening.  Then he escorted us to a waiting area so more passengers from another flight arriving just minutes after ours could join us.  Soon a large comfortable coach with a friendly driver arrived to take us all to Cape Liberty.    

After a not-so-short ride, we parked at a dismal port receiving area in Bayonne, New Jersey. We claimed our checked luggage and handlers from the port took them directly to the ship. We had only to manage our carry-on bags.  What surprised me next was that we needed to board shuttle buses to take us to the real terminal still a short distance away to begin our boarding preliminaries.  The process was accomplished smoothly and before we knew it, we were on the ship in the buffet café enjoying a sumptuous meal.  Our party of four quickly secured an inside table with a view of the lovely New York Harbor, lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge now, however, shrouded in fog and haze.  My photos were not great but we knew that we had a chance for better photos on our return.  

After lunch, we took a short tour of the public areas until our staterooms became available.    We changed our clothes, put away our hand luggage contents and went up to meet our fellow passengers.   Several announcements pertaining to the start of the safety drill occurred a few hours later.  In our case, we had to stand, crowded in lines in an inside section for many minutes before and during the safety drill.  Luckily, most of the passengers on this cruise were young so this was not a big problem just a bit uncomfortable and hot.  Other Muster Stations were in more convenient lounge areas with seating.     

 Our stateroom on Deck 3 was our home for the next three weeks.  It is quite conveniently located near the front desk and atrium area just two decks down from our Main Dinning Room and the Theater. Our bright Oceanview stateroom #3092 was quite comfortable with a king bed, end tables and a small couch with multiple pillows. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors on one wall made the room seem larger.  A desk with a mirror and chair plus a glass cocktail table and a wall hanging completed the decor.  There were enough drawers, shelves and closet space for our belongings.  My only complaint was that the passageway into the room was a bit narrow especially when we both packed/unpacked at the same time.  The bathroom was of average size and adequate for our needs with sufficient towels and other amenities.  I especially appreciated the retractable clothesline in the shower and the nightlight that many ships do not have.   Celebrity provided two robes and a large umbrella to use on the cruise.  We received a complementary logo tote bag to keep.   Our checked luggage arrived and we began unpacking in earnest until dinnertime.  The attractive ship passageways seemed a little narrow but still airy-feeling with light colors, landscape photographs on the walls and mirrors on the ceiling.  Soon our steward, Joanne stopped by to introduce herself, ask if our luggage had all arrived and to see to our needs.  She was so friendly and accommodating throughout our entire three weeks as was Richard, her assistant for this cruise.  

Service around the ship in general, was great. We chose Celebrity Select Dining and made reservations with a very accommodating Gabriella at the reception desk outside the Main Dining Room on Deck 5.  She did a great job assigning tables but often had to leave her post to escort diners to their tables.  She needs more support staff there.  She was never ruffled no matter how long the line.   For the first couple of days we tried sitting at different tables.  We were looking for not only competent servers but ones with personalities as well.  On our third evening, Sudarmika from Indonesia served us and we decided that he and Melvin were not only professional and attentive but also entertaining.   They remained our servers for the rest of our B2B cruises.   From then on Gabriella told us to avoid the reservations line and proceed directly to our table.  This saved us wait time. Our servers did a superb job serving us, anticipating our needs and offering suggestions for the best choices at mealtime. Although we did not always take their suggestions, we did appreciate their advice and they were always right.  At my urging, Melvin even showed us a photo of his son who is so cute.  

Head Waitress, Ana from Mexico, handled special meal requests.  We had such a wonderful relationship with her that we would find each other up at the buffet for breakfast and lunch just to say hello. We even sang her Happy Birthday one evening in the MDR.  She was personable, helpful, upbeat and knowledgeable.   Karen from Columbia was our Wine Stewardess and she did an excellent job refilling our wine glasses and chilling our bottles.  Shah from India was a friendly Assistant Maitre’d who always stopped by our table to ask how everything was going.  We made friends with Christian from Guest Services and he was a big help to us with any questions that we had. Captain Theo was sometimes seen around the ship and always had time for pleasantries. Steve Gayda, our Cruise Director, was always available especially on port days.  He was very friendly and chatted with everyone.  Hi, Steve!

Almost all the MDR meals met with our satisfaction.  We all especially enjoyed the Mushrooms stuffed with Crabmeat appetizer - always on the menu and ordered it frequently.  Other favorites were the beef dishes especially the very tender Prime Rib and, of course, the lobster Tail.  Portions were generous and we barely had room for dessert each night.  We usually ordered the more unusual flavors of ice cream each night such as Rum Raisin, Cherry Brandy, Rocky Road, Cinnamon and Honey Caramel.   The Crème Brulee was another favorite as was the Baked Alaska.   Breakfast and lunch were usually in the Oceanview Café.  There was always a wonderful selection of fresh salads, entrees, pizzas, pastas, Asian Specialties and casseroles as well as deli sandwiches and deserts to please almost everyone.  I loved the hash brown patties, the varieties of Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit for breakfast.  We enjoyed eating real ice cream at the lunch buffet in addition to sherbets, soft serve and sugar free ice cream with several different toppings.  Many cruise line only serve soft serve ice cream outside the MDR.  Once or twice, we enjoyed breakfast or lunch in the MDR on sea days just for a change.  

 The ship has all the usual shipboard activities including art auctions, dance and fitness (Zumba) classes, trivia, arts & crafts, board games, bingo and a Ship and Champagne Galley tour.  In addition, there were Wellness Seminars, Ice carving, stargazing and lectures given by Dr. Dave a Naturalist.  He spoke about whales, sharks, bioluminescence and other interesting topics.   On our departure from Bermuda, we were invited to use the Helipad. The staff offered us golf umbrellas and icy towels since it was a very sunny, hot day.  We took advantage of this unusual opportunity and enjoyed the view.  There were so many activities every day that we only went swimming one time in the indoor Thalasassotherapy pool. The many kids on board were kept busy building spaceships, watching movies, doing arts & crafts projects,  scavenger hunts, playing ping pong,  face painting and other such activities too numerous to list.  

The entertainment was wonderful. The theater was quite attractive as were all the public areas. I especially enjoyed the big production numbers with the singers and dancers.  The choreography was first rate.  Every single night there was a different show.  The Sirens Show had beautiful stage settings.  Children in the audience were mesmerized and dressed up as Pirates.  The costumes for the production numbers were beautiful.  Other enjoyable shows include musician, actor, impressionist James Stevens and illusionist Jason Bishop.  

Our ship docked in Bermuda for three days.  I took four tours over the three days and enjoyed them all.  We saw almost the entire island and loved the pink sand on the beaches and the friendly tour guides.  They were so knowledgeable and could answer all the various questions.  They often pulled over when possible for us to taken photos at unscheduled stops.  The weather on the trip was perfect and the seas were very calm.  

There were several nice shops on the ship but I held off buying anything since I had shipboard credit to spend on the following cruise.  There were many special sales around the shops and complementary liquor tasting before or after the shows.  The casino was busy at night.  Since the passengers were for the most part young, many partied until late at night.  Many passengers on this cruise preferred to dine late.  They were an active group.  Many were from New Jersey, of course, or the tri-state area.  Up on deck I met a friendly couple from the UK who said that there was a large contingent from her country onboard.  

Sometimes, it really comes down to small things that can make or break a cruise.  After a very early wake up, lugging bags through the airport, maneuvering through security, not receiving any snacks on our United flight, etc… we were tired when we finally boarded our ship.  How nice that we were greeted with glasses of champagne.  It was a wonderful way to start our cruise. We also received champagne on the Galley tour and one evening along with delectable chocolates in the theater.   

Did everything go right, no?  It never does. I have just a few suggestions to offer Celebrity.   Get more help in escorting Select Dining passengers to their seats to ease lines at the front reception desks.   Be more proactive about insisting that passenger use hand sanitizer machines.   There are plenty around the ship but many passengers do not use them.   A third suggestion is to do away with reserve seating in the back two rows of the theater for guests in certain cabin categories. This is sending the wrong message.  There is a policy of no reserving seats in the theater so the ship should not be doing it either.  I heard a lot of grumbling about this. Come up with a different benefit.  Some of the classes needed larger rooms.  For example, the class on ship navigation was too small for the large number of passengers in attendance.  Many of us had to sit on the floor or stand up the entire time.  My final suggestion is to get nicer artwork around the ship.   Very little of the art work appealed to me or anyone else that I spoke with during the cruise.  

We had a wonderful cruise and we looked forward to our next cruise - our fourteen-night cruise to New England and Canada.  Moreover, we finally got some beautiful shots of the New York skyline on our return.  Stay turned for my review of my next Celebrity Summit cruise.


Many weeks after booking our 14-night New England & Canada cruise (September 7, 2013) on the Celebrity Summit departing from Bayonne, NJ including airfare from Orlando, FL to Newark, NJ, we discovered that the Summit would be cruising to Bermuda on a six-night voyage the week right before our two-week cruise.  We had searched for a cruise to Bermuda from a Florida port for some time but Bermuda cruises from Florida are rare.  Therefore, we chose to rebook our flight six days earlier and cruise to Bermuda first on a back-to-back (B2B) Celebrity Summit cruise.  It turned out to be a great idea and we found that the two cruises were completely different experiences. Packing for such a wide range of temperatures proved a little more complicated but we managed to keep our bags way under the airline limit.

We departed September 1 from Orlando International Airport to Newark Airport in New Jersey where Celebrity representatives from a private transportation company met us in the baggage department.  Our Celebrity arranged transfer went smoothly.  The helpful gentleman assigned to us stood nearby to ensure that all our bags arrived safely. He was well organized and chatted with us while we waited.   He kept us well informed about what was happening.  Then he escorted us to a waiting area so more passengers from another flight arriving just minutes after ours could join us.  Soon a large comfortable coach with a friendly driver arrived to take us all to Cape Liberty.    

After a not-so-short ride, we parked at a dismal port receiving area in Bayonne, New Jersey. We claimed our checked luggage and handlers from the port took them directly to the ship. We had only to manage our carry-on bags.  What surprised me next was that we needed to board shuttle buses to take us to the real terminal still a short distance away to begin our boarding preliminaries.  The process was accomplished smoothly and before we knew it, we were on the ship in the buffet café enjoying a sumptuous meal.  Our party of four quickly secured an inside table with a view of the lovely New York Harbor, lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge now, however, shrouded in fog and haze.  My photos were not great but we knew that we had a chance for better photos on our return.  

After lunch, we took a short tour of the public areas until our staterooms became available.    We changed our clothes, put away our hand luggage contents and went up to meet our fellow passengers.   Several announcements pertaining to the start of the safety drill occurred a few hours later.  In our case, we had to stand, crowded in lines in an inside section for many minutes before and during the safety drill.  Luckily, most of the passengers on this cruise were young so this was not a big problem just a bit uncomfortable and hot.  Other Muster Stations were in more convenient lounge areas with seating.     

 Our stateroom on Deck 3 was our home for the next three weeks.  It is quite conveniently located near the front desk and atrium area just two decks down from our Main Dinning Room and the Theater. Our bright Oceanview stateroom #3092 was quite comfortable with a king bed, end tables and a small couch with multiple pillows. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors on one wall made the room seem larger.  A desk with a mirror and chair plus a glass cocktail table and a wall hanging completed the decor.  There were enough drawers, shelves and closet space for our belongings.  My only complaint was that the passageway into the room was a bit narrow especially when we both packed/unpacked at the same time.  The bathroom was of average size and adequate for our needs with sufficient towels and other amenities.  I especially appreciated the retractable clothesline in the shower and the nightlight that many ships do not have.   Celebrity provided two robes and a large umbrella to use on the cruise.  We received a complementary logo tote bag to keep.   Our checked luggage arrived and we began unpacking in earnest until dinnertime.  The attractive ship passageways seemed a little narrow but still airy-feeling with light colors, landscape photographs on the walls and mirrors on the ceiling.  Soon our steward, Joanne stopped by to introduce herself, ask if our luggage had all arrived and to see to our needs.  She was so friendly and accommodating throughout our entire three weeks as was Richard, her assistant for this cruise.  

Service around the ship in general, was great. We chose Celebrity Select Dining and made reservations with a very accommodating Gabriella at the reception desk outside the Main Dining Room on Deck 5.  She did a great job assigning tables but often had to leave her post to escort diners to their tables.  She needs more support staff there.  She was never ruffled no matter how long the line.   For the first couple of days we tried sitting at different tables.  We were looking for not only competent servers but ones with personalities as well.  On our third evening, Sudarmika from Indonesia served us and we decided that he and Melvin were not only professional and attentive but also entertaining.   They remained our servers for the rest of our B2B cruises.   From then on Gabriella told us to avoid the reservations line and proceed directly to our table.  This saved us wait time. Our servers did a superb job serving us, anticipating our needs and offering suggestions for the best choices at mealtime. Although we did not always take their suggestions, we did appreciate their advice and they were always right.  At my urging, Melvin even showed us a photo of his son who is so cute.  

Head Waitress, Ana from Mexico, handled special meal requests.  We had such a wonderful relationship with her that we would find each other up at the buffet for breakfast and lunch just to say hello. We even sang her Happy Birthday one evening in the MDR.  She was personable, helpful, upbeat and knowledgeable.   Karen from Columbia was our Wine Stewardess and she did an excellent job refilling our wine glasses and chilling our bottles.  Shah from India was a friendly Assistant Maitre’d who always stopped by our table to ask how everything was going.  We made friends with Christian from Guest Services and he was a big help to us with any questions that we had. Captain Theo was sometimes seen around the ship and always had time for pleasantries. Steve Gayda, our Cruise Director, was always available especially on port days.  He was very friendly and chatted with everyone.  Hi, Steve!

Almost all the MDR meals met with our satisfaction.  We all especially enjoyed the Mushrooms stuffed with Crabmeat appetizer - always on the menu and ordered it frequently.  Other favorites were the beef dishes especially the very tender Prime Rib and, of course, the lobster Tail.  Portions were generous and we barely had room for dessert each night.  We usually ordered the more unusual flavors of ice cream each night such as Rum Raisin, Cherry Brandy, Rocky Road, Cinnamon and Honey Caramel.   The Crème Brulee was another favorite as was the Baked Alaska.   Breakfast and lunch were usually in the Oceanview Café.  There was always a wonderful selection of fresh salads, entrees, pizzas, pastas, Asian Specialties and casseroles as well as deli sandwiches and deserts to please almost everyone.  I loved the hash brown patties, the varieties of Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit for breakfast.  We enjoyed eating real ice cream at the lunch buffet in addition to sherbets, soft serve and sugar free ice cream with several different toppings.  Many cruise line only serve soft serve ice cream outside the MDR.  Once or twice, we enjoyed breakfast or lunch in the MDR on sea days just for a change.  

 The ship has all the usual shipboard activities including art auctions, dance and fitness (Zumba) classes, trivia, arts & crafts, board games, bingo and a Ship and Champagne Galley tour.  In addition, there were Wellness Seminars, Ice carving, stargazing and lectures given by Dr. Dave a Naturalist.  He spoke about whales, sharks, bioluminescence and other interesting topics.   On our departure from Bermuda, we were invited to use the Helipad. The staff offered us golf umbrellas and icy towels since it was a very sunny, hot day.  We took advantage of this unusual opportunity and enjoyed the view.  There were so many activities every day that we only went swimming one time in the indoor Thalasassotherapy pool. The many kids on board were kept busy building spaceships, watching movies, doing arts & crafts projects,  scavenger hunts, playing ping pong,  face painting and other such activities too numerous to list.  

The entertainment was wonderful. The theater was quite attractive as were all the public areas. I especially enjoyed the big production numbers with the singers and dancers.  The choreography was first rate.  Every single night there was a different show.  The Sirens Show had beautiful stage settings.  Children in the audience were mesmerized and dressed up as Pirates.  The costumes for the production numbers were beautiful.  Other enjoyable shows include musician, actor, impressionist James Stevens and illusionist Jason Bishop.  

Our ship docked in Bermuda for three days.  I took four tours over the three days and enjoyed them all.  We saw almost the entire island and loved the pink sand on the beaches and the friendly tour guides.  They were so knowledgeable and could answer all the various questions.  They often pulled over when possible for us to taken photos at unscheduled stops.  The weather on the trip was perfect and the seas were very calm.  

There were several nice shops on the ship but I held off buying anything since I had shipboard credit to spend on the following cruise.  There were many special sales around the shops and complementary liquor tasting before or after the shows.  The casino was busy at night.  Since the passengers were for the most part young, many partied until late at night.  Many passengers on this cruise preferred to dine late.  They were an active group.  Many were from New Jersey, of course, or the tri-state area.  Up on deck I met a friendly couple from the UK who said that there was a large contingent from her country onboard.  

Sometimes, it really comes down to small things that can make or break a cruise.  After a very early wake up, lugging bags through the airport, maneuvering through security, not receiving any snacks on our United flight, etc… we were tired when we finally boarded our ship.  How nice that we were greeted with glasses of champagne.  It was a wonderful way to start our cruise. We also received champagne on the Galley tour and one evening along with delectable chocolates in the theater.   

Did everything go right, no?  It never does. I have just a few suggestions to offer Celebrity.   Get more help in escorting Select Dining passengers to their seats to ease lines at the front reception desks.   Be more proactive about insisting that passenger use hand sanitizer machines.   There are plenty around the ship but many passengers do not use them.   A third suggestion is to do away with reserve seating in the back two rows of the theater for guests in certain cabin categories. This is sending the wrong message.  There is a policy of no reserving seats in the theater so the ship should not be doing it either.  I heard a lot of grumbling about this. Come up with a different benefit.  Some of the classes needed larger rooms.  For example, the class on ship navigation was too small for the large number of passengers in attendance.  Many of us had to sit on the floor or stand up the entire time.  My final suggestion is to get nicer artwork around the ship.   Very little of the art work appealed to me or anyone else that I spoke with during the cruise.  

We had a wonderful cruise and we looked forward to our next cruise - our fourteen-night cruise to New England and Canada.  Moreover, we finally got some beautiful shots of the New York skyline on our return.  Stay turned for my review of my next Celebrity Summit cruise.


Many weeks after booking our 14-night New England & Canada cruise (September 7, 2013) on the Celebrity Summit departing from Bayonne, NJ including airfare from Orlando, FL to Newark, NJ, we discovered that the Summit would be cruising to Bermuda on a six-night voyage the week right before our two-week cruise.  We had searched for a cruise to Bermuda from a Florida port for some time but Bermuda cruises from Florida are rare.  Therefore, we chose to rebook our flight six days earlier and cruise to Bermuda first on a back-to-back (B2B) Celebrity Summit cruise.  It turned out to be a great idea and we found that the two cruises were completely different experiences. Packing for such a wide range of temperatures proved a little more complicated but we managed to keep our bags way under the airline limit.

We departed September 1 from Orlando International Airport to Newark Airport in New Jersey where Celebrity representatives from a private transportation company met us in the baggage department.  Our Celebrity arranged transfer went smoothly.  The helpful gentleman assigned to us stood nearby to ensure that all our bags arrived safely. He was well organized and chatted with us while we waited.   He kept us well informed about what was happening.  Then he escorted us to a waiting area so more passengers from another flight arriving just minutes after ours could join us.  Soon a large comfortable coach with a friendly driver arrived to take us all to Cape Liberty.    

After a not-so-short ride, we parked at a dismal port receiving area in Bayonne, New Jersey. We claimed our checked luggage and handlers from the port took them directly to the ship. We had only to manage our carry-on bags.  What surprised me next was that we needed to board shuttle buses to take us to the real terminal still a short distance away to begin our boarding preliminaries.  The process was accomplished smoothly and before we knew it, we were on the ship in the buffet café enjoying a sumptuous meal.  Our party of four quickly secured an inside table with a view of the lovely New York Harbor, lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge now, however, shrouded in fog and haze.  My photos were not great but we knew that we had a chance for better photos on our return.  

After lunch, we took a short tour of the public areas until our staterooms became available.    We changed our clothes, put away our hand luggage contents and went up to meet our fellow passengers.   Several announcements pertaining to the start of the safety drill occurred a few hours later.  In our case, we had to stand, crowded in lines in an inside section for many minutes before and during the safety drill.  Luckily, most of the passengers on this cruise were young so this was not a big problem just a bit uncomfortable and hot.  Other Muster Stations were in more convenient lounge areas with seating.     

 Our stateroom on Deck 3 was our home for the next three weeks.  It is quite conveniently located near the front desk and atrium area just two decks down from our Main Dinning Room and the Theater. Our bright Oceanview stateroom #3092 was quite comfortable with a king bed, end tables and a small couch with multiple pillows. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors on one wall made the room seem larger.  A desk with a mirror and chair plus a glass cocktail table and a wall hanging completed the decor.  There were enough drawers, shelves and closet space for our belongings.  My only complaint was that the passageway into the room was a bit narrow especially when we both packed/unpacked at the same time.  The bathroom was of average size and adequate for our needs with sufficient towels and other amenities.  I especially appreciated the retractable clothesline in the shower and the nightlight that many ships do not have.   Celebrity provided two robes and a large umbrella to use on the cruise.  We received a complementary logo tote bag to keep.   Our checked luggage arrived and we began unpacking in earnest until dinnertime.  The attractive ship passageways seemed a little narrow but still airy-feeling with light colors, landscape photographs on the walls and mirrors on the ceiling.  Soon our steward, Joanne stopped by to introduce herself, ask if our luggage had all arrived and to see to our needs.  She was so friendly and accommodating throughout our entire three weeks as was Richard, her assistant for this cruise.  

Service around the ship in general, was great. We chose Celebrity Select Dining and made reservations with a very accommodating Gabriella at the reception desk outside the Main Dining Room on Deck 5.  She did a great job assigning tables but often had to leave her post to escort diners to their tables.  She needs more support staff there.  She was never ruffled no matter how long the line.   For the first couple of days we tried sitting at different tables.  We were looking for not only competent servers but ones with personalities as well.  On our third evening, Sudarmika from Indonesia served us and we decided that he and Melvin were not only professional and attentive but also entertaining.   They remained our servers for the rest of our B2B cruises.   From then on Gabriella told us to avoid the reservations line and proceed directly to our table.  This saved us wait time. Our servers did a superb job serving us, anticipating our needs and offering suggestions for the best choices at mealtime. Although we did not always take their suggestions, we did appreciate their advice and they were always right.  At my urging, Melvin even showed us a photo of his son who is so cute.  

Head Waitress, Ana from Mexico, handled special meal requests.  We had such a wonderful relationship with her that we would find each other up at the buffet for breakfast and lunch just to say hello. We even sang her Happy Birthday one evening in the MDR.  She was personable, helpful, upbeat and knowledgeable.   Karen from Columbia was our Wine Stewardess and she did an excellent job refilling our wine glasses and chilling our bottles.  Shah from India was a friendly Assistant Maitre’d who always stopped by our table to ask how everything was going.  We made friends with Christian from Guest Services and he was a big help to us with any questions that we had. Captain Theo was sometimes seen around the ship and always had time for pleasantries. Steve Gayda, our Cruise Director, was always available especially on port days.  He was very friendly and chatted with everyone.  Hi, Steve!

Almost all the MDR meals met with our satisfaction.  We all especially enjoyed the Mushrooms stuffed with Crabmeat appetizer - always on the menu and ordered it frequently.  Other favorites were the beef dishes especially the very tender Prime Rib and, of course, the lobster Tail.  Portions were generous and we barely had room for dessert each night.  We usually ordered the more unusual flavors of ice cream each night such as Rum Raisin, Cherry Brandy, Rocky Road, Cinnamon and Honey Caramel.   The Crème Brulee was another favorite as was the Baked Alaska.   Breakfast and lunch were usually in the Oceanview Café.  There was always a wonderful selection of fresh salads, entrees, pizzas, pastas, Asian Specialties and casseroles as well as deli sandwiches and deserts to please almost everyone.  I loved the hash brown patties, the varieties of Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit for breakfast.  We enjoyed eating real ice cream at the lunch buffet in addition to sherbets, soft serve and sugar free ice cream with several different toppings.  Many cruise line only serve soft serve ice cream outside the MDR.  Once or twice, we enjoyed breakfast or lunch in the MDR on sea days just for a change.  

 The ship has all the usual shipboard activities including art auctions, dance and fitness (Zumba) classes, trivia, arts & crafts, board games, bingo and a Ship and Champagne Galley tour.  In addition, there were Wellness Seminars, Ice carving, stargazing and lectures given by Dr. Dave a Naturalist.  He spoke about whales, sharks, bioluminescence and other interesting topics.   On our departure from Bermuda, we were invited to use the Helipad. The staff offered us golf umbrellas and icy towels since it was a very sunny, hot day.  We took advantage of this unusual opportunity and enjoyed the view.  There were so many activities every day that we only went swimming one time in the indoor Thalasassotherapy pool. The many kids on board were kept busy building spaceships, watching movies, doing arts & crafts projects,  scavenger hunts, playing ping pong,  face painting and other such activities too numerous to list.  

The entertainment was wonderful. The theater was quite attractive as were all the public areas. I especially enjoyed the big production numbers with the singers and dancers.  The choreography was first rate.  Every single night there was a different show.  The Sirens Show had beautiful stage settings.  Children in the audience were mesmerized and dressed up as Pirates.  The costumes for the production numbers were beautiful.  Other enjoyable shows include musician, actor, impressionist James Stevens and illusionist Jason Bishop.  

Our ship docked in Bermuda for three days.  I took four tours over the three days and enjoyed them all.  We saw almost the entire island and loved the pink sand on the beaches and the friendly tour guides.  They were so knowledgeable and could answer all the various questions.  They often pulled over when possible for us to taken photos at unscheduled stops.  The weather on the trip was perfect and the seas were very calm.  

There were several nice shops on the ship but I held off buying anything since I had shipboard credit to spend on the following cruise.  There were many special sales around the shops and complementary liquor tasting before or after the shows.  The casino was busy at night.  Since the passengers were for the most part young, many partied until late at night.  Many passengers on this cruise preferred to dine late.  They were an active group.  Many were from New Jersey, of course, or the tri-state area.  Up on deck I met a friendly couple from the UK who said that there was a large contingent from her country onboard.  

Sometimes, it really comes down to small things that can make or break a cruise.  After a very early wake up, lugging bags through the airport, maneuvering through security, not receiving any snacks on our United flight, etc… we were tired when we finally boarded our ship.  How nice that we were greeted with glasses of champagne.  It was a wonderful way to start our cruise. We also received champagne on the Galley tour and one evening along with delectable chocolates in the theater.   

Did everything go right, no?  It never does. I have just a few suggestions to offer Celebrity.   Get more help in escorting Select Dining passengers to their seats to ease lines at the front reception desks.   Be more proactive about insisting that passenger use hand sanitizer machines.   There are plenty around the ship but many passengers do not use them.   A third suggestion is to do away with reserve seating in the back two rows of the theater for guests in certain cabin categories. This is sending the wrong message.  There is a policy of no reserving seats in the theater so the ship should not be doing it either.  I heard a lot of grumbling about this. Come up with a different benefit.  Some of the classes needed larger rooms.  For example, the class on ship navigation was too small for the large number of passengers in attendance.  Many of us had to sit on the floor or stand up the entire time.  My final suggestion is to get nicer artwork around the ship.   Very little of the art work appealed to me or anyone else that I spoke with during the cruise.  

We had a wonderful cruise and we looked forward to our next cruise - our fourteen-night cruise to New England and Canada.  Moreover, we finally got some beautiful shots of the New York skyline on our return.  Stay turned for my review of my next Celebrity Summit cruise.


Many weeks after booking our 14-night New England & Canada cruise (September 7, 2013) on the Celebrity Summit departing from Bayonne, NJ including airfare from Orlando, FL to Newark, NJ, we discovered that the Summit would be cruising to Bermuda on a six-night voyage the week right before our two-week cruise.  We had searched for a cruise to Bermuda from a Florida port for some time but Bermuda cruises from Florida are rare.  Therefore, we chose to rebook our flight six days earlier and cruise to Bermuda first on a back-to-back (B2B) Celebrity Summit cruise.  It turned out to be a great idea and we found that the two cruises were completely different experiences. Packing for such a wide range of temperatures proved a little more complicated but we managed to keep our bags way under the airline limit.

We departed September 1 from Orlando International Airport to Newark Airport in New Jersey where Celebrity representatives from a private transportation company met us in the baggage department.  Our Celebrity arranged transfer went smoothly.  The helpful gentleman assigned to us stood nearby to ensure that all our bags arrived safely. He was well organized and chatted with us while we waited.   He kept us well informed about what was happening.  Then he escorted us to a waiting area so more passengers from another flight arriving just minutes after ours could join us.  Soon a large comfortable coach with a friendly driver arrived to take us all to Cape Liberty.    

After a not-so-short ride, we parked at a dismal port receiving area in Bayonne, New Jersey. We claimed our checked luggage and handlers from the port took them directly to the ship. We had only to manage our carry-on bags.  What surprised me next was that we needed to board shuttle buses to take us to the real terminal still a short distance away to begin our boarding preliminaries.  The process was accomplished smoothly and before we knew it, we were on the ship in the buffet café enjoying a sumptuous meal.  Our party of four quickly secured an inside table with a view of the lovely New York Harbor, lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge now, however, shrouded in fog and haze.  My photos were not great but we knew that we had a chance for better photos on our return.  

After lunch, we took a short tour of the public areas until our staterooms became available.    We changed our clothes, put away our hand luggage contents and went up to meet our fellow passengers.   Several announcements pertaining to the start of the safety drill occurred a few hours later.  In our case, we had to stand, crowded in lines in an inside section for many minutes before and during the safety drill.  Luckily, most of the passengers on this cruise were young so this was not a big problem just a bit uncomfortable and hot.  Other Muster Stations were in more convenient lounge areas with seating.     

 Our stateroom on Deck 3 was our home for the next three weeks.  It is quite conveniently located near the front desk and atrium area just two decks down from our Main Dinning Room and the Theater. Our bright Oceanview stateroom #3092 was quite comfortable with a king bed, end tables and a small couch with multiple pillows. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors on one wall made the room seem larger.  A desk with a mirror and chair plus a glass cocktail table and a wall hanging completed the decor.  There were enough drawers, shelves and closet space for our belongings.  My only complaint was that the passageway into the room was a bit narrow especially when we both packed/unpacked at the same time.  The bathroom was of average size and adequate for our needs with sufficient towels and other amenities.  I especially appreciated the retractable clothesline in the shower and the nightlight that many ships do not have.   Celebrity provided two robes and a large umbrella to use on the cruise.  We received a complementary logo tote bag to keep.   Our checked luggage arrived and we began unpacking in earnest until dinnertime.  The attractive ship passageways seemed a little narrow but still airy-feeling with light colors, landscape photographs on the walls and mirrors on the ceiling.  Soon our steward, Joanne stopped by to introduce herself, ask if our luggage had all arrived and to see to our needs.  She was so friendly and accommodating throughout our entire three weeks as was Richard, her assistant for this cruise.  

Service around the ship in general, was great. We chose Celebrity Select Dining and made reservations with a very accommodating Gabriella at the reception desk outside the Main Dining Room on Deck 5.  She did a great job assigning tables but often had to leave her post to escort diners to their tables.  She needs more support staff there.  She was never ruffled no matter how long the line.   For the first couple of days we tried sitting at different tables.  We were looking for not only competent servers but ones with personalities as well.  On our third evening, Sudarmika from Indonesia served us and we decided that he and Melvin were not only professional and attentive but also entertaining.   They remained our servers for the rest of our B2B cruises.   From then on Gabriella told us to avoid the reservations line and proceed directly to our table.  This saved us wait time. Our servers did a superb job serving us, anticipating our needs and offering suggestions for the best choices at mealtime. Although we did not always take their suggestions, we did appreciate their advice and they were always right.  At my urging, Melvin even showed us a photo of his son who is so cute.  

Head Waitress, Ana from Mexico, handled special meal requests.  We had such a wonderful relationship with her that we would find each other up at the buffet for breakfast and lunch just to say hello. We even sang her Happy Birthday one evening in the MDR.  She was personable, helpful, upbeat and knowledgeable.   Karen from Columbia was our Wine Stewardess and she did an excellent job refilling our wine glasses and chilling our bottles.  Shah from India was a friendly Assistant Maitre’d who always stopped by our table to ask how everything was going.  We made friends with Christian from Guest Services and he was a big help to us with any questions that we had. Captain Theo was sometimes seen around the ship and always had time for pleasantries. Steve Gayda, our Cruise Director, was always available especially on port days.  He was very friendly and chatted with everyone.  Hi, Steve!

Almost all the MDR meals met with our satisfaction.  We all especially enjoyed the Mushrooms stuffed with Crabmeat appetizer - always on the menu and ordered it frequently.  Other favorites were the beef dishes especially the very tender Prime Rib and, of course, the lobster Tail.  Portions were generous and we barely had room for dessert each night.  We usually ordered the more unusual flavors of ice cream each night such as Rum Raisin, Cherry Brandy, Rocky Road, Cinnamon and Honey Caramel.   The Crème Brulee was another favorite as was the Baked Alaska.   Breakfast and lunch were usually in the Oceanview Café.  There was always a wonderful selection of fresh salads, entrees, pizzas, pastas, Asian Specialties and casseroles as well as deli sandwiches and deserts to please almost everyone.  I loved the hash brown patties, the varieties of Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit for breakfast.  We enjoyed eating real ice cream at the lunch buffet in addition to sherbets, soft serve and sugar free ice cream with several different toppings.  Many cruise line only serve soft serve ice cream outside the MDR.  Once or twice, we enjoyed breakfast or lunch in the MDR on sea days just for a change.  

 The ship has all the usual shipboard activities including art auctions, dance and fitness (Zumba) classes, trivia, arts & crafts, board games, bingo and a Ship and Champagne Galley tour.  In addition, there were Wellness Seminars, Ice carving, stargazing and lectures given by Dr. Dave a Naturalist.  He spoke about whales, sharks, bioluminescence and other interesting topics.   On our departure from Bermuda, we were invited to use the Helipad. The staff offered us golf umbrellas and icy towels since it was a very sunny, hot day.  We took advantage of this unusual opportunity and enjoyed the view.  There were so many activities every day that we only went swimming one time in the indoor Thalasassotherapy pool. The many kids on board were kept busy building spaceships, watching movies, doing arts & crafts projects,  scavenger hunts, playing ping pong,  face painting and other such activities too numerous to list.  

The entertainment was wonderful. The theater was quite attractive as were all the public areas. I especially enjoyed the big production numbers with the singers and dancers.  The choreography was first rate.  Every single night there was a different show.  The Sirens Show had beautiful stage settings.  Children in the audience were mesmerized and dressed up as Pirates.  The costumes for the production numbers were beautiful.  Other enjoyable shows include musician, actor, impressionist James Stevens and illusionist Jason Bishop.  

Our ship docked in Bermuda for three days.  I took four tours over the three days and enjoyed them all.  We saw almost the entire island and loved the pink sand on the beaches and the friendly tour guides.  They were so knowledgeable and could answer all the various questions.  They often pulled over when possible for us to taken photos at unscheduled stops.  The weather on the trip was perfect and the seas were very calm.  

There were several nice shops on the ship but I held off buying anything since I had shipboard credit to spend on the following cruise.  There were many special sales around the shops and complementary liquor tasting before or after the shows.  The casino was busy at night.  Since the passengers were for the most part young, many partied until late at night.  Many passengers on this cruise preferred to dine late.  They were an active group.  Many were from New Jersey, of course, or the tri-state area.  Up on deck I met a friendly couple from the UK who said that there was a large contingent from her country onboard.  

Sometimes, it really comes down to small things that can make or break a cruise.  After a very early wake up, lugging bags through the airport, maneuvering through security, not receiving any snacks on our United flight, etc… we were tired when we finally boarded our ship.  How nice that we were greeted with glasses of champagne.  It was a wonderful way to start our cruise. We also received champagne on the Galley tour and one evening along with delectable chocolates in the theater.   

Did everything go right, no?  It never does. I have just a few suggestions to offer Celebrity.   Get more help in escorting Select Dining passengers to their seats to ease lines at the front reception desks.   Be more proactive about insisting that passenger use hand sanitizer machines.   There are plenty around the ship but many passengers do not use them.   A third suggestion is to do away with reserve seating in the back two rows of the theater for guests in certain cabin categories. This is sending the wrong message.  There is a policy of no reserving seats in the theater so the ship should not be doing it either.  I heard a lot of grumbling about this. Come up with a different benefit.  Some of the classes needed larger rooms.  For example, the class on ship navigation was too small for the large number of passengers in attendance.  Many of us had to sit on the floor or stand up the entire time.  My final suggestion is to get nicer artwork around the ship.   Very little of the art work appealed to me or anyone else that I spoke with during the cruise.  

We had a wonderful cruise and we looked forward to our next cruise - our fourteen-night cruise to New England and Canada.  Moreover, we finally got some beautiful shots of the New York skyline on our return.  Stay turned for my review of my next Celebrity Summit cruise.

 

Read Full Review

Crown Princess

April 2013 - 17 Night Passage to Europe (Galveston to London) Cruise on Crown Princess

Carnival Miracle

October 2011 - 8 Night Exotic Southern Caribbean (Ft. Lauderdale roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Miracle

Monarch of the Seas

October 2011 - 4 Night Bahamas (Port Canaveral roundtrip) Cruise on Monarch of the Seas

Norwegian Jewel

October 2007 - 15 Night Fall Transatlantic (Barcelona to Miami) Cruise on Norwegian Jewel

Cruise Tips

Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

We took a scenic drive through Taipivai Valley and visited the Te Aitua temple. We stopped at the Hooum black beach, also. The drive was very scenic and took about three hours with stops.

Kangaroo Island, Australia

Six of us rented a van and toured the island independently. First we stopped at Seal Bay Conservation Park for a walk down the boardwalk to the beach. There we saw plenty of sea lions sunning themselves on the sand and surfing in the water. There are platforms along the boardwalk to rest or take photos. If there is time, stop at Pennington Beach, a surf beach for a photo. Then we visited the Wildlife Park where we saw the feeding of the penguins and many other animals all in a natural setting

Fuerte Amador, Panama

We visited the new locks, watched a video of its construction at the Observation Center. We were lucky to watch a ship going through the locks Nuku Hiva We took a scenic drive through Taipivai Valley and visited the Te Aitua temple. We stopped at the Hooum black beach, also. The drive was very scenic and took about three hours with stops.

Rarotonga, Cook Islands

We took HAL's Island Discovery Tour, which was basically a panoramic drive. First we viewed the main sights and learned about the history & culture of the island. We drove through the main township of Avarua. We stopped was the National Museum and later traveled along the ancient Great Road of Toi. that circles the whole island. Next we visited Ngatangua Harbour, Avana Passage and the Seven Stones Monument. Later we viewed the oldest church on the island, Titikaveka Church

Praia, Santiago, Cape Verde

Drive to the village of Santo Domingo to shop the local arts & crafts cooperative.. Next visit the Cape Verdean Botanic Garden in Sao Jorge dos Orgaos. Take a scenic drive through many small villages to Assomada to shop in the largest wholesale market and visit the city center with its churches, shops & Portuguese-style buildings. See more of the landscape of the area on your drive to Tarrafel for an important stop at the concentration Camp, not my favorite place to see.

Tauranga, New Zealand

When in Rotorua, be sure to visit the Hell's Gate Geothermal Reserve and the Kakahi Falls - a large hot waterfall. If you have time, be sure to include a visit the Mitai Village for a guided tour, a wonderful Maori cultural performance with traditional costumes and a delicious buffet lunch.

Colombo, Sri Lanka

We have been here before so we took the 9-hour Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage tour. It was a long ride out here & back to the ship. You can take a train or a motor Coach to get here. What fun to have the elephants come right over to us searching our pockets and bags for food. It was fun watching the elephants playing & bathing themselves and we were invited to feed them bottles of milk later. We enjoyed a buffet lunch riverside.

Adelaide, Australia

We had visited this city previously, so on this visit, we took a trip to Hanhdorf township which is a German settlement that dates back to 1839. On our way there, we stopped at a beautiful lookout spot, Mount Lofty, which had beautiful views of the city. The main street of Hanhdorf is lined with many boutiques, cafes and restaurants. A great place to shop and just stroll. We stopped in at a bakery on a side street that sold large German pretzels. We took ours outside and enjoyed them at one of the outside tables & chairs. A few establishments had live German music playing. It is a great place to enjoy a wonderful German lunch. Browse the lovely jewelry, pottery, art & leather goods stores as well as souvenir shops and more.

Manila, Philippines

This was my first visit to the Philippines. We were here for two days. On day 1, we toured Old Manila. Our first stop was historic Rizal Park & the walled city of Intramuros. Then we took a walking tour of Fort Santiago. At Manila Cathedral we admired the magnificent architecture, the stone carvings, stained glass mosaics and rosette windows. Next we toured Casa Manila, a reconstructed mansion. There was time to walk across the street to the oldest structure here, San Augustin Church built in 1571. On day 2, we visited Modern Manila on a 4-hour tour with a drive through the Cultural Center of the Philippines. We saw the Philippines International Convention Center & the Folk Arts Theater. Watch for the Coconut Palace - a building made mostly of coconut material. After a drive through the financial and commercial center, we visited the Ayala Museum. The dioramas really captured my interest.

Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

We visited Mt. Field National Park. The walk to Russell Falls was so tranquil and the falls were beautiful. Later we visited Meadowbank Estate Farm where we sampled their wines, watched sheep shearing and enjoyed a very delicious lunch with a glass of one of their wines. Before heading back to our ship, we made a stop at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary where I fed the wallabies and photographed the Tasmanian devils and other animals there. If you use a wheelchair, it will be too difficult to maneuver the uneven surfaces in the sanctuary.

Cross The Equator

On our final crossing of the Equator, the ship held a big King Neptune Party out on the pool deck.

Albany, Australia

We took a wonderful tour to the Valley of the Giants. Walk along the raised Tree Top walkways through the forest canopy. The loop is around 600 yards. If you have time, take the Ancient Empire Trail and see the old red tinglewood trees that only grow here. We had lunch in a local restaurant and visited a local winery

Maputo, Mozambique

Our first stop was at the Railroad Station with it's bronze dome. We were not permitted to enter - just photograph. After a short stop at the nearby market, we headed to Maputo Fort, then on to Independence Square. See the statues of the presidents. the cathedral, city hall & the cultural center. Quite unusual is the house made completely of iron. We all enjoyed an excellent buffet lunch at a local hotel another highlight of our visit to Maputo Test you bargaining skill at another local market. We bought tee shirts here for a very good price.

Napier, New Zealand

The area is known for its Chardonnay & Cabernet Sauvignon. On a private tour, we visited Mission Estates & Brookfields Vineyards. The owners were so friendly and we tasted four different wines at each winery. Wines are available for purchase. We stopped off in the Art Decor shopping area in town by ourselves to do some shopping and to see the beach. .

Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles

We took a most scenic mountain drive, first driving through the smallest capital city in the world, Victoria. We passed several colonial-era buildings. I enjoyed seeing the silver Clock Tower, too. This is a replica of the one in London by Victoria Station. We passed lots of wooden homes with tin roofs and iron balconies. We stopped in the Botanic Gardens with its many unusual trees and plants. I took a photo of the giant tortoises and the view from the overlook of the City and port. We later stopped at Mission Lodge.

Phuket, Thailand

Our 7 1/2 hour tour took us on a scenic drive by the ocean and our first stop was Promthep Cape. From the top of the hill is a view of the rocky shoreline & the coastline. Next we visited the island's famous Wat Chalong temple. In Phuket town, we visited the main shopping center. Later we visited Phuket Thai Village and watched a marvelous cultural dance show with pretty costumes. We enjoyed a wonderful buffet meal at the village.

Cape Town, South Africa

This was our favorite port on this cruise. The tour of Cape of Good Hope was stunning as we drove through the seaside suburbs of Sea Point, Bantry Bay and Clifton taking the Chapman Peak Drive. We passed the suburb of Scarborough as we headed to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Preserve. We enjoyed a delicious lunch on Boulder Beach. A highlight of this excursion was our visit to the penguin colony a short walk from the restaurant. What fun it was to see so many penguins surrounding the boardwalk where we stood watching them. If you love penguins, you will love this stop. Although our arrival was late, were able to take the funicular up to the lighthouse but had to walk down, which was not really a tough descent. It was too late to take the tour of the Botanic Gardens but we had seen so many gardens already on other excursions. As we headed for the ship, we passed the University of Cape Town and Grotte Schuur Hospital. We caught a magnificent sunset on the return trip. The next day visited the Aquila Game Reserve for a day safari into the desert of Karoo to see the game animals. Along with the animals we saw wetlands, a mountain range and three beautiful valleys. After a welcome drink, in the reception area, we set out in 4x4 safari vehicles to locate herds of zebras, giraffes, lions, hippos, elephants, crocodiles. flamingos and many bird species. After our ride, we enjoyed a delicious buffet on the property with time to shop in the gift shop and around the reserve. The following day we took a ride to Table Top Mountain driving through the city to the Cableway Station. Here we took an exciting rotating cable car up the mountain. You can stay on the mountain as long as you. After enjoying the view we descended on the cable car and returned to our ship driving along the beaches.

Singapore

We took an interesting tour of the Gardens by the Bay & Marina Bay Observation Deck. The gardens were stunning with a large collection of rare plants under a huge dome. The Flower Dome, our next stop, was another beauty to behold. Finally we visited the Cloud Forest with its 115-foot mountain & the world's largest waterfall. We then headed over to the Marina Sands Observation Deck for a spectacular view of Singapore - not to be missed. We had a perfectly clear day to enjoy the view. Our tour ended with a enjoyable riverboat ride along the Singapore River. Although I have taken this ride at least twice previously, it was still a wonderful part of the tour. On our way back to the ship, we left the tour at Chinatown and browsed the shops for several hours making several purchases. Chinese tea is a nice purchase for friends or family back home. The cab ride back to the ship cost $10 USD. The following day we took a 4-hour trip to Jurong Bird Paradise. I wished that we had more time to spend here. Enjoyed seeing all the macaws, flamingos, penguins and many more birds and other animals. A tram takes you around the park.

Puerto Princesa, Philippines

Here we cruised Honda Bay Island aboard a motorized banca. We stopped at two beautiful white sand beaches for a picnic lunch and swimming and snorkeling. The waters were calm, clear & warm. We took underwater photos with our Go Pro camera. I should warn you that it was a bit difficult to board & disembark the bancas. If you have aqua shoes bring them or wear the ones provided. You will need them. On our way home we stopped to shop in the marketplace near the ship.

George Town, Grand Cayman

We tendered into Georgetown & shopped in many of the stores in the downtown area then walked out onto a couple of small beaches in town.

Port Chalmers (Dunedin), New Zealand

With a friend, we reserved an independent tour through Awesome Tours purchased over the Internet pre-cruise. Our terrific & friendly guide, Patrick took us into Dunedin for sightseeing & shopping. Later we had a personal tour of Larnach Castle and then a private tour of Otago Peninsula Yellow-Eyed Penguin Reserve. This was one of my best tours. Patrick was so accommodating & we met the owner of the company, Mark at our lunch stop.

Papeete, Tahiti

Drove around the east coast stopping at Point Venus. Then took a panoramic drive through valleys, stopping at viewpoints.Ate lunch at Gauguin's Resturant in the South. Visitwed the Spring Garden of Vaipahi. Stopped at Parpara Surf Beach. Drov3e back along the west coast.

Dakar, Senegal

After a sightseeing drive through town, we stopped for a visit at the Cathedral and passed by the Great Mosque. We took photos of the University of Dakar before stopping for a presentation of sand painting - a good place to pick up art work for souvenirs. Another place is the Soumbedioune Handicraft Village. As you drive along the coastal road see a huge contrast between poor residential areas and more upscale ones. Stop at the impressive African Renaissance Monument & climb to the top for a magnificent view of the surrounding area. Take a photo of the nearby lighthouse. There are small vendor at the base of the statue. The Deity Mosque is a worthwhile visit. After a buffet lunch under a tent in the sand and a live show performance, we changed to 4x4s for a 1 1/2 hr. tour of the Pink Lake of Retba. Workers gather the crust of salt at the bottom of the lake & the local women carry it out from the boats in baskets on their heads to sell it to salt companies. The lake is surrounded by foam and the pink color is quite unusual. Our visit to the Fulani Village out in the bush was unbelievable. The chief gave us a tour of the small community and we all felt a desire to leave a donation to help the villagers. Most of us found something to buy, too. They had so little but were happy people.

Banjul, Gambia

Our first stop was at the National Museum, then we drove through the city with a long stop at the busy marketplace. Continuing we our drive, we stopped at Arch 22 for photos then visited the town of Serre-Kunda. It was fun to watch the tie-dying skills of the locals and many of us purchased the colorful fabrics. In Bakau, we stopped for liquid refreshments, then headed to the Tourist Market to sharpen our negotiating skills. Lastly, we stopped at Katchically Crocodile Pool. I see many crocs here in Florida so it wasn't a big thing for me but the guided tour was interesting.

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Before taking a sunset boat ride on the Pearl of the Pacific in the lagoon, we first walked to the downtown area in the late afternoon to explore our surroundings on our own. The boat ride is highly recommended for the beautiful views from the water. Enjoy some champagne as you watch the sunset.

Fremantle (Perth), Australia

We arrived in the afternoon and walked into town stopping in at the stores and church. Later that evening we went on a dinner cruise along Swan River. It was a beautiful sight to see the skyscrapers light up as night fell. On board, we enjoyed a delicious buffet meal with wines from Water's Edge Estate, local beers and soft drinks. There was also live entertainment and dancing. The crew was very friendly and accommodating. The following day we took a panoramic city tour of Fremantle & Perth taking in all the highlights of the two cities. One particular highlight was our stop at the lovely Kings Park - a botanic garden. Be sure to see the State War Memorial.

Auckland, New Zealand

We took Davonport & the North Shore excursion, a 4-hour tour with HAL. Devonport is a beautiful suburb with wonderful views of the city. After the city drive, we stopped on our own at a main street pub. We enjoyed a Guinness at an outdoor table with Canadian visitors who were sightseeing also - so much fun getting to know them. Later, we took the ferry back to the ship.

Phu My (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam

Here we saw plenty of neglected colonial buildings in the rural township of Ba Ria. We visited a Buddhist Temple and stopped at a local marketplace where prices were quite reasonable & bargaining is accepted. We continued on to another lovely Buddhist temple and then to a local 100-year old Vietnam house. We were served some fruit and a potent moonshine rice wine. made right there on the property. Stepping outside we were invited to try our hand at making rice paper. Then we visited a charming Coa Dai temple, a fusion of many different religions.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Since we have been here many times, we just took the complimentary trolley around the Old San Juan.. We did some shopping in the shops of Old San Juan.Then we walked down to the harbor looking at the ships in port & doing some shopping. This area has recovered from the hurricane, at least.

Alofi, Niue Island

There were no tours here so we just explored the island on foot. It was a Sunday so nothing really was opened. A walk down to the beach was pretty steep and a bit treacherous, worth the climb down if you are agile.

Luanda, Angola

With police escorts, our caravan of vans drove along Marginal Bay stopping at Igreje de Senhora de Nazare and later the Iron Palace. At the Angolan National Museum of Anthropology, we saw many interesting exhibits. We then headed over to the San Miguel Fort for a private tour & photographs. Nearby be sure to see the obelisk a mausoleum of Agostinho Neto, Angola's first president. We then drove through the lovely Upper Town, a suburb to see the Presidential Palace and other notable building. If possible stop at the beautiful Catholic Igreja de Jesus Church before heading back to the downtown area to view other important building. Our final stop was at the large marketplace.

Benoa, Bali, Indonesia

Here we took a private nine hour tour to Bale Kambang floating pavilion and the Kertagosa Royal Court of Justice. We continued on to the ancient Pura Kehen temple complex where we had a guided tour. Later, we visited the walled mountain village of Tenganan. We learn how to weave Kamberi Grinsing the flaming cloth which is said to protect the wearer from evil. On our second day in Benoa, we took a 6-hour tour to the most popular Seminyak temple & Tanah Lot.

Moorea, French Polynesia

We took a photographic excursion with an experienced photographer and visited several stunning natural sights in a 4x4 vehicle traveling along the coast and into the interior.

Rangiroa, French Polynesia

Since we had previously visited this island, we just took a long walking tour and stopped at a beach for a swim.

Walvis Bay, Namibia

We took a marvelous private tour to Swakopmund, stopping to shop at two places, then enjoyed an excellent luch in a local hotel

Hong Kong

Since we have been here before, we bought a 2-day pass on the Big Red Bus - a hop on, hop off bus. We used the included ferry ticket to access the red & green lines. The next day we rode the blue line to the International Commerce Center. We used the included ticket to visit Sky 100 a tower with an observation deck and beautiful views of the city. Later we shopped in the mall and then walked to the harbor area before returning to our ship.

Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

We visited the Wildlife Rescue Center and La Ceiba Private Preserve. These are very popular attractions. We saw toucans, hawks, monkeys, sloths, tamanduas, anteaters, deer and parrots. The two attractions are adjacent to one another and well maintained. They are worth a visit.

Sydney, Australia

Since we have visited Sydney several times previously, we took a tour of Tobruk Sheep Station & Outback Show. It was very entertaining & educational. The working farm is about an hour from Sydney by car. The visit includes an Australian BBQ lunch. Try your skill at whip cracking and boomerang throwing. On our second day in port, we visited Darling Harbor & three attractions located right at the harbor.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Bring a sweater with you when moving about the ship. The A/C is uneven in many areas.

Boston, Massachusetts

We stayed overnight at the beautiful & centrally located Langham Hotel. We walked to Chinatown which was a bit of a walk, At night we ate in the Italian North End. Picked up bakery items for breakfast the next day. The next morning, we visited Faneuil Hall & Quincey Market. Great walk able city

Sydney, Nova Scotia

Since we had previously visited Sydney we took a cruise of Bras d'Or Lakes. The tour lasted 5 hrs. The leisurely cruise on 67-foot schooner, Ameoba was a unique experience. We saw soaring bald eagles and stately mansions. Crew was wonderful. Later we shopped in the small village of Baddeck.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Since we have previously been here, we took buses that drove through the Acadia Nat'l Park. Later, we strolled through the many shops in town. We purchased a very soft rain jacket. There are several opportunities for photos as you walk through the shopping area.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

If you have previously visited Halifax, visit Lunenburg which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site You will enjoy a one-hour drive to Mahone Bay. Take a photo of the 3 waterfront churches. After 15 more minutes you will be in the busiest shipbuilding town in the world - Lunenburg.

Reykjavik

If you enjoy horseback riding take the tour, Iceland on Horseback. You will see plenty of the countryside on an Icelandic horse - not to be missed by those who enjo0y horseback riding. You will see scenic farmlands accompanied by an expert rider. It is all done at an easy pace. Tour lasts 2 1/2

Saint John, New Brunswick

If you have time in port, visit the picturesque fishing village of Petty Harbour. I wished that we had more time to spend here to soak up the charming atmosphere, watch all the birds soaring up the surrounding hills. We did have time to walk the village & take photos. No time to visit the church.

Saint John, New Brunswick

Take a tour that visits Old St. John's & Cape Spear. Tour lasted 31/2 hrs. The panoramic drive was wonderful. Signal Hill is a scenic stop but we prepared for windy conditions. Cape Spear has a lot of up & down walking. Explore Cape Spear Lighthouse - worth a look see.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

On a previous visit to Halifax I took a Walk Through Historic Halifax. It takes about 3 hours. It involves a lot of walking. Tour started at the Citadel National Historic Site. There are guides dressed in kilts who share stories and answer question. Walk down a hill to see the city.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Because of high winds our ship was unable to stop at this port. On past visits, I toured Peggy's Cove a must see if the weather is not foggy. Also visited the Fairview Lawn Cemetery for Titanic victims. Don't miss the Halifax Citadel (National Historic Site,) Public Gardens & Old Town Clock.

Isafjordur, Iceland

We took a panoramic drive through the Westfjords to the Dynjandi waterfall. It was so beautiful-well worth a visit.. Be sure to walk up to the upper falls for a closer view. I also visited Sudureyri which is a quiet fishing village. Not too much to see here,- the taste of fresh seafood was good.

Akureyri, Iceland

The Jewels of the North is an excellent tour to take. Drive along the coast of Iceland's longest fjord, Eyafjordur and the Fnjoskadalur Valley - very scenic. Stop at Godafoss Waterfall. Continue to Lake Myvatn area and see the craters. Visit Dimmuborgir lava castles and natural arches. Amazing

Reykjavik, Iceland

We boarded a 4-wheel drive super truck and drove to Thingvellir. We visited Langjokul (long) Glacier. We drove over the ice and snow to the Ice Cave. It is located about 100 feet below the glacier. Walk through the man made cave in an icy underground. See the color of the ice change to blue. Wow

Reykjavik, Iceland

Be sure to do the Best of the Golden Circle, which for me included Thingvelir, Gullfoss & Geysir. You see a lot in 8 hours. It is quite comprehensive and worthwhile. The Geothermal area is awesome. Gillfoss is Iceland's most beautiful waterfall. You see it all ion one tour.

Liverpool, England

I loved the port. You do not need to take a shore excursion as there is much to see closeby. Visit the old harbor, ride the Big Wheel and do the Beetles Story all within walking distance. There is also a nearby church. The Radio tower is fun but a longer alk from the ship. Plenty of nearby mall

Alesund, Norway

We toured Romsdal & the Troll Path. The tour included a sightseeing tour of Alesund also. You will enjoy beautiful vistas and a Norwegian buffet is included. There is some walking. involved and a buffet is included.

Dublin, Ireland

Our cruise ship was far from the city so I recommend that you take a tour to see the city. We toured the Guinness Storehouse & the view of the city from the top floor is worth the visit. The included pint of Guinness is nice. Other options of beverages are available.

Bergen, Norway

Since i have spent time in Bergen, I took the Hardangerfjord & Highlands of Scenic Norway-7.5 hours. It did include a panoramic city tour as well and the the tour was very scenic. The Steinsdal Waterfall was fun because you can walk under it. I recommend it.

Boston, Massachusetts

The port of Boston is excellent. We walked to Chinatown from our hotel the afternoon we arrived. Later that afternoon we walked to Quincey Market. That night we enjoyed a delicious dinner in the North End. The following morning, we walked to the harbor and did more sightseeing.

Bergen, Norway

There is so much to do here just in the city itself. Since we had spent three days here previously, we chose to go outside the city to see Hardangerfjord & Highlights of Scenic Norway. The tour lasted 7 1/2 hours. It was an excellent tour that I highly recommend. The tour includes a panoramic city tour, too. It was fun crossing Fusafjord by ferry. There is plenty of miles of scenery along the shores of the fjord with the majestic mountains on the opposite side. After a Norwegian buffet we stopped at the Steinsdal Waterfall and could walk under the falls. Unfortunately, just as we arrived at the falls, it began raining steadily. By the time we reached the Tokagjel Gorge and the Kvamskogen Mountain plateau the rains stopped. This is a great tour if you enjoy scenic driving.

Nanortalik, Greenland

This small town is easily seen on foot. Not much to do here but the town is rugged and interesting. There was a gift shop where everyone stopped in to buy souvenirs. Be sure to see the dancing show put on for visitors. There is lots of opportunities for photographs but the area is hilly.

Portree, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

This was a new port for me. I chose to visit the Iconic Eilean Donan Castle & The West Highlands. The HAL tour ran about 4 1/2 hrs. We passed the Cuillin Mts. along our route. We crossed the Skye Bridge to reach the castle. This is the most photographed castle in Scotland. You reach the castle by crossing a stone bridge. Inside the castle, guides tell you stories about the castle and its history. Great opportunities for taking photos outside. I made several purchases in the lovely gift shop.

St. Anthony, Newfoundland

We enjoyed this port but not the transportation provided by HAL on our excursion to L'Anse Aux Meadows. The school bus ride was exceptionally bumpy and the mic didn't work for the first half of the ride. Otherwise the 4-hour tour was great. Our experienced guide was terrific and she had to work under difficult conditions. It was interesting to tour the first European settlement in the New World at L'Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland. Guides along the way explained in detail what we were seeing. We visit the various huts where costumed guides demonstrated life in the settlement. We toured the Chieftain's Hall where the Viking warriors slept.

Alesund, Norway

This was another good port, one we had visited previously. We chose the HAL excursion, Romsdal & The Troll Path, which lasted 8 hours. It was very worthwhile & interesting - plenty of scenery. We drove through Spjelkavik to Sjoholt Village. I enjoyed the shoreline of Storfjord along the road. We passed Stordal Church, and drove through Liabygd & Valldal. We drove the Troll Path passing a beautiful gorge. In the Trolltindene Mt. at Olav, we stopped for a Norwegian hot & cold buffet lunch. After lunch, we made hairpin bends in the road to Isterdalen Valley. We stopped at the Troll Wall. On our ride back to Alesund, we passed picturesque villages before crossing the Orskog Mt. It was a wonderful experience that i recommend.

Isafjordur, Iceland

We took the HAL excursion, the Dynjandi Waterfall & Sudureyri: A Taste of the Westfjord. The tour was good and we enjoyed the scenery. It lasted 6 hours. There are plenty of stops for photo opportunities. The Dynjandi waterfall is beautiful . We took a walk up to the falls for a closer look. The fishing village was a interesting stop. We tasted some of the local fish delicacies.

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin is a favorite city of mine. Since I have visited several times already, on this visit we did The Guinness Experience: A Taste of Dublin. We saw many historic sights on the way to the Guinness Storehouse Museum. We passed the Old Parliament House, Trinity College and the Irish Parliament. We visited Georgian Dublin with its lovely homes, The national Gallery of Ireland, City Hall, St Steven's Green & St Patrick's Cathedral. Our guide made a photo stop near the cathedral in St. Patrick's Park for more explanation. We also passed Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral before heading over to the Guinness Museum. The Guinness tour ends up at the Gravity sky bar for a pint of Guinness and beautiful views of Dublin. We bough two sets of engraved glasses in the huge gift shop.

Red Bay, Newfoundland

It was drizzling here when we arrived but we did enjoy our excursion out to the Lighthouse. We saw3 a huge iceberg just behind the lighthouse. Several building here to explore and you can climb the stairs to the top. Our guide was excellent. We tasted some local tea after our climb. Bring bug spray. I got stung twice.

Sydney, Nova Scotia

Good port, shopping available near the ship. We took the HAL excursion, Sailing on the Bras d;Or Lakes & enjoyed it.

Rotterdam, Netherlands

What a nice port. It is overshadowed somewhat by Amsterdam & the ship did not offer any sightseeing excursions in Rotterdam itself. So, we toured independently. We walked along the waterfront to visit the ss. Rotterdam now a hotel, restaurant and attraction. I bought several items in the gift shop. After lunch, we took the complimentary shuttle into town and explored the iconic Cube Houses, the Old Harbor, the Lawrence Cathedral & the nearby huge inside Market Hall. Plan to spend some time in the wonderful city.

Bar Harbor, Maine

The was a fun port. since we have been here several times in the past, we just took a bus ride around the Acadia National Park and later shopped in the stores near the port.

Liverpool, England

Since my daughter & our grand kids visited us on the ship, we toured the city with them independently. We visited the old harbor, the Beatles Story, rode the Giant Wheel and went to the top of the Radio City Tower. We all enjoyed walking around the city. It was a lot of city walking, though. Hop On Hop Off Buses are also available. The following day, the grand kids & my daughter rode the ferry.

Douglas, Isle Of Man

This was my first visit to the port of Douglas, which is part of the UK. We rode the Victorian Railroad from the promenade at Douglas Bay to the station of the Manx Electric Railway. Our tour lasted around 3 1/2 hours. The journey to Laxey takes 30 minutes. Here we transferred to the Snaefell Mountain Railway, which climbs to the summit of Snaefell, the highest point of the isle. Unfortunately, for us, the summit was shrouded in fog only clearing for a brief period of time. Nevertheless, the excursion was very worthwhile. After a short stop here for snacks and photos, we climbed aboard for our trip down the mountain. Part way down, we rejoined our coach for our trip back to Douglas. It was a fun outing.

Eidfjord, Norway

I loved this charming port. There is some shopping right in the town where we tendered. Originally, we were scheduled to dock in town. We took a HAL excursion, Eidfjord Cruise & Voringsfossen Waterfall. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the waterfall, it was surrounded in fog but just before we left, the fog cleared and we got some good photos. There is a large souvenir shop at the waterfall and the lovely Fossli hotel located at the far end of the Upper Eidfjord Lake. The cruise in the fjord was wonderful. The sun shone the entire time. .

Djupivogur, Iceland

We took a HAL Excursion called, Rural East Iceland. The tour lasted 5 hours. After leaving the tiny fishing village of Djupivogur, we stopped in the tiny town of Hofn. Then we continued through a picturesque mountain region and proceeded to the Hoffellsjokull Glacier. We stopped for a half hour to explore on our own. After our stop we visited a family-run horse farm. Here we were served pastries. Dress warmly for the stop at the Glacier.

Qaqortoq, Greenland

Small port - just fun to explore the port on foot. The village is rural and hilly. We shopped in a couple of stores and walked to the Post Office where they took our American Currency when we maqiled our powst cards.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Big city. Fun to walk around the town. We did the HAL excursion, Best of the Golden Circle: Thingvellir, Gullfoss & Geysir, which was excellent. We saw a lot! The overnight stay permitted us to take another excursion with HAL called Glacier Safari by 4-wheel Drive & a Walk in a Glacier Cave. It was such an unusual excursion. We saw snow falling on the top of the glacier. You need warm clothing for this tour.

St. John's, Newfoundland

Our HAL tour, Old St. John's & Cape Spear was wonderful. It lasted about 3 1/2 hours. We took a panoramic drive through the city then visited Signal Hill where the first trans-Atlantic wireless signal took place in 1901. The day we visited it was extremely windy. We had to hold on tightly to our hats and sun glasses. Then we traveled to Cape spear and had time to tour on our own. We visited the old lighthouse. It was a bit of a climb. I had time to walk down to the water for a lovely view of the waves hitting the rocks below. Before returning to the ship, we stopped briefly at a very picturesque fishing village, Petty Harbour.

Akureyri, Iceland

This was a wonderful stop. I chose the HAL excursion, Jewels of the North. The tour lasted a full 6 1/2 hrs. We drove along the coast of Eyjafjorour, the longest fjord in Iceland and through the picturesque Fnjoskadalur Valley. Then we drove to the Lake Myvatn area and stopped at the Skutustadir Craters. After a lunch stop, we visited the Dimmuborgir Lava Labyrinth. Finally, we stopped at the geothermal field of Namaskard. On our way back to the ship, we drove though the town of Akureyri. It was a long but exciting tour.

Rotterdam

Rotterdam

Take a leisurely walk around the ship and enjoy all the beautiful art decor. If an organized tour is available, take it. I walked away with a greater appreciation of the art on board after my tour led by Location Guide Barbara.

Oasis of the Seas

Oasis of the Seas

Be sure to have a drink at the Rising Tide Bar.

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida

You will need a whole day to do justice to The Sawgrass Mills Mall. This mega mall has over 300 stores and two food courts. Anything you need, you will find here. We spwent the better part of a day here.

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida

Arriving a day ahead of your cruise, a fun place to shop is the Festival Flea Market. There is a variety of shops, a good food court and a wonderful produce store with great fresh produce. This is the place to go for sunglasses, watches and luggage.

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida

Las Olas Boulevard is a great place to meet friends for dinner. Also great for shopping and people-watching. The last time we were in Fort Lauderdale we met friends at one of the restaurants, which had its own parking lot. We spent hours dining al fresco while people-watching..

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida

I visited the Museum of Discovery & Science while in Fort Lauderdale. I especially enjoyed the exhibits on outer space, health & ecology. Many of the exhibits are interactive.

Oranjestad, Aruba

For authentic Cuban food in Aruba, dine at Cafe the Plaza . It has a fun atmosphere too.

Oranjestad, Aruba

Looking for good burgers in Aruba, eat at Iguanas Joe's. The burgers are good there.

Oranjestad, Aruba

If you have time in Arubas, visit Fort Zoutman. It was built in 1796 and is worth a visit if you enjoy seeing forts.

Oranjestad, Aruba

I am a lighthouse fan so I didn't want to miss seeing the California Lighthouse. Although the lighthouse was not opened when I visited, I could see great views from the base.

Oranjestad, Aruba

Butterfly lovers will enjoy the Butterfly Farm. Here you will find plenty of butterflies to photograph.

Oranjestad, Aruba

If you are a beach person, consider going to Eagle & De Palm Beach. You will find miles of white sand and a surf that is not too rough. Great beach for swimming.

Willemstad, Curacao

I bought a beautiful emerald ring at Little Switzerland many years ago. They are doing something right since they have been in business for over 60 years.

Willemstad, Curacao

There are lots of good shopping on the island. If you are looking for tablecloths, Mr. Tablecloth is the place to go. Good bamboo sheets, pillow and clothing can be found at Carihola, which has two locations. Del Sol is a fun place to go for tees that change in the sunlight. Kids will love them.

Willemstad, Curacao

If you enjoy Thai food, dine at the Sawasdee Thai Restaurant. The vegetables are fresh and the spices come directly from Thailand.

Willemstad, Curacao

For a lovely view of the island, visit the Fort Nassau Restaurant. Besides a great view, the food is terrific also.

Willemstad, Curacao

If you are looking for waterfront dining, consider the Iguana Cafe. Their bar area has open-air seating on the terrace.

Willemstad, Curacao

For outdoor dining in Willemstad, visit the Bistro Le Clochard. This formal restaurant has a lovely outdoor terrace as well as a glassed-in dining room, too.

Willemstad, Curacao

If you are in the mood for ribs while in Willemstad, Curacao, stop in at The Ribs Factory. Their ribs are the best on the island.

Willemstad, Curacao

Try Grill King for delicious tasting surf and turf grill dishes while in Willemstad, Curacao.

Willemstad, Curacao

Looking for food while in Curacao, try Belle Terrace. This is an open-air eatery located in a 200 year old mansion, which overlooks the the sea. They serve local, Continental and Scandinavian cuisine.

Willemstad, Curacao

If you have time while in Willemstad, visit the Kura Hulanda Museum. Learn all about the culture of the island throughout the years.

Grand Turk Island

If you always wanted to try Paddle Boarding, here is your chance. The instructors are patient and very experienced. You will learn everything that you need to do for stand up paddle boarding. Later, cool off at a beach for snorkeling or just relaxing

Grand Turk Island

Why take an excursion when you can stay at a lovely white sandy beach & sit on a lounge without cost. Or, swim, without cost at a beautiful pool close to the beach. Relax while listening to island music in Margaritaville with a tropical drink. Do all three as I do just steps from the dock.

Amber Cove (Puerto Plata), Dominican Republic

Instead of visiting the beach, I took an excursion to Puerto Plata. it was a beautiful panoramic drive. We stopped at Independence Square where we did a walking tour and tasted coconut. Then we visited a couple of shops and then had lunch al fresco at a lovely restaurant.

Bonaire, Netherlands Special Municipality

For something a little bit different, sail on an authentic Siamese sailing junk that is beautifully decorated with Thai antiques. Stop at Klein Bonaire, an uninhabited island where you can snorkel or relax on the beautiful white sandy beach.

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida

See all the highlights on a Land & Sea Tour.This is a great tour if you are on a Back-To-Back cruise from Ft Lauderdale. You will see the Arts & Sciences District, the Riverwalk & Las Olas Blvd. (great shopping area.) Then take a boat ride down the New River to see ships and subs.

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida

Be sure to take a tour to the everglades for an airboat ride. I have done this several times now. The tour, however, lasts 4 hours so be sure you have the time to do it. See alligators, birds and fish that call Florida their home. The ride is noisy but ear phones are provided - use them

Oranjestad, Aruba

On a previous tour of Aruba, i visited the California Lighthouse, then the Natural Bridge and later the Casibari Rock Formation. Finally we stopped at the Ostrich Farm where I fed the ostriches - great photo opportunity

Willemstad, Curacao

Great port. See the highlights if it is your first visit. Drive through Otrabanda, see St Anna Bay-great views of the capital. Photograph the colorful buildings, see the old Jewish area. Stop at Chobolobo Plantation where Curacao liquor is made. Then relax at Mambo Beach for 2 1/2 hours or shop

Oranjestad, Aruba

The Natural Wonders of Aruba is a terrific tour. After visiting the Butterfly Farm, you will visit the Ayo Rock formations. Bring your camera for sure. See the indigenous paintings and the famous Natural Bridge. You will pass the Gold Mill Ruins. You tour ends with a scenic drive to Oranjestad

Oranjestad, Aruba

I took The Hidden Gems of Arubatour. We stopped at Lourdes Grotto at Seroe Preto for about 15 minutes. It was enough time for photos. Then we visited the caves - the Guadirikiri Cave & the Fountain cave. Bring water & you must wear the provided helmet. This is a great tour if you have previou

Willemstad, Curacao

The dolphin swim will cost you a bit more than just the dolphin encounter but with this activity you actually touch, kiss, play and swim with the dolphins. You may even be able to ride with one. You also have extra time with the dolphins - 30 minutes vs. 20 minutes.

Willemstad, Curacao

A fun activity in Curacao to do is the Dolphin Encounter. You stand in waist deep water and interact with friendly dolphins. Participants have about 20 minutes of time with the dolphins. It is a very unique experience.

Willemstad, Curacao

To learn more about the anthropological history of the cultures of Curacao, visit the Kura Hulanda Museum. Make a right after you cross the Queen Emma Bridge.

Willemstad, Curacao

If you have an interest in geology, visit the Curacao Museum. See pre-Colombian Indian Artifacts and learn about the geological history of Curacao. The museum is quite spacious and built in the colonial style.

Willemstad, Curacao

Visit the Chobolobo Liquor Factory for a taste of the famous Blue Curacao Liquor. I brought home some from my cruise.

Willemstad, Curacao

If you like aquariums, visit the Curacao Sea Aquarium. There are four hundred varieties of fish on display. See stingrays and sharks in an underwater observatory.

Willemstad, Curacao

Learn about Curacao's maritime history of navigation, pirates and the shipping industry at the Curacao Maritime Museum.

Willemstad, Curacao

One interesting place that I visited in Willemstad was the Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue. Founded in 1651, it is the oldest synagogue in the Western hemisphere.It is not too far from the Floating Market.

Willemstad, Curacao

A fun place to visit is the Floating Market even if you do not intend to buy any fresh fish or fruit. The mini boat fleet comes from Venezuela and prices are very good. You can walk to it from the ship.

Willemstad, Curacao

One thing that you must see is the "Swinging Old lady," the Queen Emma Bridge. The pontoon bridge was built in 1888.

Willemstad, Curacao

Take a trip out to the highest point in Curacao. The Christoffel National Park also has indian caves with painting inide.

Willemstad, Curacao

Consider visiting fort Amsterdam. It was built in 1634. See the historic church and a museum full of artifacts.

Willemstad, Curacao

Take the Whimsically hand- painted bus for a 35 minute ride to Blue Bay Beach. Relax, snorkel, swim or just sunbathe. i recommend aqua shoes. Bathrooms and showers are available.

Willemstad, Curacao

Take a 4X4 adventure & Beach Tour. See colorful Willemstad. Then board the off-road vehicle and follow in caravan-style driving along the coast. Stop at Cabana Beach fo swim. Beach chairs and Wi-Fi access are included.

Bonaire, Netherlands Special Municipality

If you enjoy off road adventures, take a UNIMOG vehicle through the countryside. Visit the blowhole and termite nest. Hopefully the flamingos are out in the Mangrove area. See the donkeys, goats and birds. Be sure to stop at a beach to cool off.

Veendam

Veendam

Be sure to attend the America's test Kitchen

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida

One of the most popular thing to do in Ft. Lauderdale is to take Everglades Airboat Ride. You can combine this with a drop off at the Ft. Lauderdale or Miami airports if you take this at the end of your cruise.

Grand Turk Island

This is one of my favorite ports. The pool is large and the lounges complimentary. The beach has white sand, complimentary lounges and the waves are non=-existent. Might want to bring water shoes since there are some rocks on the bottom. Shopping is fun here too.

Grand Turk Island

A fun outing is to sail along the coastline to Gibbs Cay Beach. Have an encounter with the sting rays, enjoy snorkeling at the reef or just relax on the beach.

Kralendijk, Bonaire

If you have previously seen all the sights in Bonaire, visit the shops in town or have a drink at the outdoor waterfront bars and restaurants.

Kralendijk, Bonaire

If possible try to see the colorful flamingos at Lake , the nearby donkey sanctuary and the Salt ponds. Taste some rum at the distillery and stop for photos at the slave huts-shelters.

Willemstad, Curacao

There is enough to see around the port area if you don't wish to take a shore excursion. Walk across the Queen Anne Pontoon Bridge, visit the floating market and admire the Colonial Architecture. Visit all the shops and taste some liquors. Wait for the bridge to open and take a free ferry back.

Oranjestad, Aruba

If you have previously visited Aruba, visit the Lourdes Grotto, the Guadirikiri Cave and the Fountein Cave. The cavesre hot

Koningsdam

Koningsdam

Be sure to check out the offerings at the Grand Dutch Cafe. Although the specialty offee are extra the food and desserts are not. The almond cookies are delicious as are the large chocolate pastries

Willemstad, Curacao

Walk across the floating bridge. It is also fun to take the ferry one way. It is complimentary.

Oranjestad, Aruba

We took a tour of two caves that was fun. the caves were also hot, though. Wear good shoes not flip flops.

Koningsdam

Koningsdam

Be sure to visit the Grand Dutch Cafe for delicious treats that are complimentary.

Ashdod, Israel

Very moving biblical place..See it from the Mount of Olives & walk through the Garden of Gethsemane. Drive to Mt Zion & see room of the Last Supper & King David's Tomb. Walk through the Jewish Quarter in the Old City. Visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher & Western Wall.

Melbourne, Australia

Take a panoramic tour of Melbourne visiting the suburbs, Princess Theater, Arts & Cultural Center, Cricket Grounds and Melbourne Park. Visit Eureka Skydeck for a marvelous 360 degree view of Melbourne. Stop at the Shrine of Remembrance & the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Hong Kong

Consider a side trip to Macau by fast ferry. See old & New Macau. Visit the Buddhist temple & Porto do Cerco Gate. See ruins of St Paul's church. Don't miss Macau Tower and stay for the magnificent buffet lunch. Watch the bungee jumpers.

Haifa, Israel

Visit Nazareth, The Church of the Annunciation (home of Virgin Mary) & the Church of St Joseph (Joseph's workshop). See Mary's well, too. Visit the Sea of Galilee and the beautiful Mont of the Beatitudes & its lovely gardens. Be sure to see Tabghaq (loaves & fishes) & Yardenit - the baptismal site

Singapore

We have spent several days in Singapore previously so we took the Night Safari. We saw many nocturnal animals as we drove in an open-air tram such as Cape Buffalo, African Bongo, blue sheep, hyenas, jackals, rhinos, etc. We also took a stroll along the walking trails. Watch the presentation.

Monte Carlo, Monaco

We visited Nice & Eze when we were in the port of Monte Carlo. We took a scenic drive along the Lower Corniche Road. Then we took the palm-lined Promenade des Angles to the city of Nice. We walked through the Old Town and spent time in the flower market and shops. Later we drove to charming Eze

Papeete, Tahiti

Consider an overnight to Moorea for a one-night stay in a thatched bungalow over the lagoon. Re-join the ship in Moorea. Although expensive, it was well worth the cost. Before our excursion, we explored the shops in town and saw the nearby landmarks.

Cairns, Australia

Plan on swimming in the huge outdoor pool near the terminal. There is no cost.

Bay Of Islands, New Zealand

We boarded a luxury catamaran and toured the lovely inlet. Be sure to see the Hole-in-the Rock and beautiful Motukokako Island. Our boat actually went through the hole in the rock. We saw jumping fish and swooping birds. Also saw a pod of bottle-nose dolphins.

Melbourne, Australia

Here we took a Panoramic tour of the City of Melbourne which covered all the scenic highlights - Bay suburbs, Princess Theater, Arts & Crafts Center, Melbou7rne Cricket Grounds & Melbourne Park. Loved my visit to Eureka Skydeck. The stop at the Shrine of Remembrance and the Royal Botanic Gardens was included.

Auckland, New Zealand

I loved the Antarctic Encounter at the Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium. It was amazing! See the sub-arctic penguins - king & Gentoo penguins. Also see schools of fish and sharks swimming above you, as well as sting rays. I purchased the photo book here. This is a quite popular excursion. Also visited the Auckland Sky Tower which is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. Great view 1,072 feet up. Posed for a fun photo at the observation area./

Picton, New Zealand

We took a combination tour "Panoramic Land & Sea. Drove through lush farmlands and Wairau Valley. Boarded a catamaran in Anakiwa for a cruise on Queen Charlotte Sound.

Fuerte Amador, Panama

I took a walk through Panama City to see the old and new sections. I highly recommend this tour.

Panama Canal Transit

Get out on deck early so you do not miss any of the excitement. Do not leave your camera in your stateroom. Keep a lookout for complimentary beverages & fruit served by the crew.

Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

I took a tour of Taipivai Valley made famous by Herman Melville. The coastline in breathtaking!

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Be sure to taste the delicious fries at the Dive In poolside at least once during your cruise

Paris, France

If you are visiting Paris during July and August check out the free cinemas at Parc de La Villette, Paris' largest park. Many of their films are in English.

Paris, France

La Derniere Goutte hosts free wine tastings on Fridays at 5 PM with free cheese all day on Saturdays.

Paris, France

If you are staying anywhere in Paris that is close to Le Centiquatre stop by. It is now a contemporary art venue. I was sorry that I did not know about it when I saw there.

Paris, France

Some larger wine store offer free tasting and even wine course in English. Stop in at a large wine store to inquire if it participates.

Paris, France

Pick up a copy of Pariscope at newstands for a listing of the flea markets in Paris. Recommended are Marche aux Puces st - Ouen, Tartes, klnger, Vanves & Foire de Chatou.

Paris, France

Did you know that there are free cooking classes by Federation Francaise de Cusine offered in several markets and fairs around Paris. Classes are in French, though one hour long.

Paris, France

See the Arenes de Lutece, the ruins of the world's largest Roman Ampitheater. It is SW of city center - 5th Arrondissement.

Avignon, France

Two suggestions for good Galleries to visit if you have time are: MMB Gallery for Contemporary Art at 20 Balance str. and the Art Gallery for Provencal Painters from the 19th & 20 Century, 2 Joseph Vernet str.

Avignon, France

Three suggestions for restaurants are: Christian Etienne located in a historical building offers provencal cuisine, La Vieille Fontaine offers very creative cuisine and Les 5 sens has cuisine influenced by South West France.

Avignon, France

If you have time, see Pont St Benezet (Pont d' Avignon). The bridge spans the Rhone between Villeuve-les-Avignon and Avignon. It was built between 1177 & 1185. This early bridge was destroyed & rebuilt with 22 stone arches. It is opened every day from 9 am to 7 pm. Entrance fee, 2 Euros worth it

Caudebec, France

Stop in at the Church of Notre Dame of Caudebec-en-Caux. It was built as far back at the 15 C and has one of the most beautiful portal (west facade) which has 333 figures and a magnificent rose window. Notice the big organs from the 16 C. See the Baptismal fonts & the beautiful chapels

GIVERNY, FRANCE

After the British Aviators Memorial, continue on rue Claude Monet for the Medieval part of Giverny ( rue Aux Juifa) and the Church. Go behind the church on your right to visit the grave of Claude Monet.

GIVERNY, FRANCE

Venture beyond Monet's House & Gardens, travel toward Vernon on Rue Claude Monet. Visit Musee de Mecanique Naturelle (Natural Mechanical Museum) if this is of interest to you. See the old Hotel Baudy with its Artist Studio & Rose Garden. Past the hotel look for the British Aviators Memorial.

GIVERNY, FRANCE

If you are looking for fast food while visiting Monet House & Gardens, these recommended eateries are all located on rue Claude Monet: L'Atelier, #55 for Frozen Yogurt, La Capucine Cafe, #80 for French Fast food and Ice Cream, La Musardiere, #132 for Crepes. For Pizzas, I suggest L'Aquarelle, #96

GIVERNY, FRANCE

Nearby Boutiques & Bookshops to Monet's House are all located on rue Claude AMonet and worth a look are: Musee des Impressionnismes #99, La Capucine, #80, Autour D'Un Savon, #107, Emilio RI, #84 and Fondation Claude Money, #84.

GIVERNY, FRANCE

Visit the L'Echoppe, an antique shop on rue Blanche Hoschede-Monet, if antiques are your passion.

GIVERNY, FRANCE

While touring the house and gardens, pay a visit to the House of Tourism, Maison du Tourisme. Pick up a plethora of brochures on other nearby attractions. The staff will answers all your inquires. Free and clean restrooms are nearby.

GIVERNY, FRANCE

After touring the house, gardens & gift shop, stop in at the many galleries for that perfect art work to take home. These galleries are all located on rue Claude Monet: Galerie Letoliacha, Galerie 60, Le Galerie, Espace 87, Galerie Claude Cambour, Christopohe DeMarex & Daniele Thierry.

GIVERNY, FRANCE

Don't miss the gift shop. There are all sorts of treasures there. I bought a beautiful book, Monet's Passion. Even if you don't wish to buy anything, look up on the walls for reproductions of his famous art works. The little miniatures & note cards make lovely gifts.

GIVERNY, FRANCE

In Monet's garden be sure to take a photo of the arching green bridge with its stunning and sweet smelling wisteria. You will feel like you are part of his painting as I did.

GIVERNY, FRANCE

At Money's Gardens, be sure to see the Clos Normand garden with its three acres of flowers andits Grande Allee (flower tunnel with large arches of rambling roses. See the water Lily garden, too. Be sure to bring a camera to capture the glorious color. It you draw, bring a sketch pad.

GIVERNY, FRANCE

Walk the path around Monet's gardens. You can almost picture Claude painting his water Lily painting. Artists are usually there with a sketch pad using the gardens as inspiration. Be sure to bring your camera. Each plant was thoughtfully planted. It is a painter's paradise.

GIVERNY, FRANCE

In Giverny, you must visit Claude Monet's House & Gardens. Take a tour of the house to get a better appreciation of Monet's family life and his art. Be sure to bring a camera with you.

Avignon, France

Consider the Mini Train Audio Guided Visit. The train starts from the Palace of Popes and it runs from 10 am to 7 pm. It costs 8 Euros when i WAS THERE.

Avignon, France

Be sure to browse the Seasonal Local Market - 20 local growers from Avignon and the area. Monday evening from 5 pm to 7: 30 PM.

Avignon, France

Some interesting shopping areas to visit are Rue de la Balance for Provencal souvenir shops; Rue de la Republique and the Pedestrian area of Avignon. Good prices.

Avignon, France

No visit to this port should miss a tour of the Popes' Palace. You casn do a self guided tour, a tour with a headset for a couple of euro or a complete guided tour. There are plenty of videos inside - furnishings inside are scant. Still the place is beautiful.

Paris, France

Check out the vendors around the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Their prices are considerably lower than store prices. We picked up Eiffel Tower keys rings 10 for 2 euro & shared them with another couple. Store prices 1 Euro each. Same quality.

Paris, France

Although the line to enter Notre-Dame Cathedral may be long, it moves quickly. You do not want to miss the interior. It is worth the wait. Free

Le Havre (Paris), France

Although The city of Paris is quite a distance from the port, I still suggest a visit to the city. I spent two days in Paris on different cruises. Both times I did the same wonderful excursion: a coach tour of the city followed by an unforgettable lunch cruise on the Seine River.

Paris, France

Consider a Segway Tour of Paris! Segways are really easy to use. I got the hang of it right away.

Paris, France

Try to reserve a table at the famous Moulin Rouge? Great experience not to be missed in Paris.

Paris, France

Be sure to experience dinner with a Can Can Show while in Paris.

Paris, France

Buy the Paris Museum Pass. It offers you access to more than 60 museums for 2, 4 or 6 days. If you stay for more than one day it is really worth it.

Vernon, France

This town is a great place to ride a bike. Many river cruises will let you borrow one of their bike for free. It is an easy ride to Giverny or or for a shorter ride, pedal around town, which is close to the docks. A nice ride is across the bridge to Chateau des Tourelles and the Vieux Moulin

Vernon, France

If you call a French phone number from a US cell phone, the extension number is 01133. Good to know if y9u are making a restaurant reservation or calling an attraction.

Vernon, France

If you are looking for a recommendation for a restaurant suggestions are: L' Envie on 71 r. Carnot F - 27200 Vernon. Phone 232511680. Cuisine modern and Le Bistro des Fleurs on 73 r. Carot F - 27200 Vernon, Phone 23221919 or Manoir Restaurant

Vernon, France

If you have more free time in Vernon, visit the A.-G.- Poulain Museum. The museum has eclectic collections of prehistory, animal paintings and sculpture. The address is 12 r. du Pont F - 27200 Vernon

Vernon, France

When in town, be sure to visit the Tourist Office. This beautiful 15C two story corbelled structure is the House of Tore. Notice the Annunciation on the angled post. Address is 36 Rue Carnot F - 27200 Vernon

Vernon, France

A sightseeing suggestion is Chateau de Bizy: av. des Capucins F - 27200 Vernon, if you have time. Bring your camera. Worth a stop.

Vernon, France

Be sure to cross the bridge and walk to the Chateau des Tourelles and the Vieux Moulin/old bridge. Better still, ride a bicycle there - a 5 minute ride. On many river boats you can borrow a bike for free.

Vernon, France

On your walking tour of the town, be sure to view the statue in front of City Hall. The building is just opposite the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame. It was built at the end of the 19th C on a newly created square. I visited on a Sunday so the building was not open.

Vernon, France

Drive or walk the few miles to beautiful Giverny, across the river. It is very worthwhile. Monet's house and gardens is a not to be missed destination. It is a bit of a walk. You will need several hours to tour the house and walk around the vast gardens.

Vernon, France

Taske a ride to Chateau la Roche Guyon if you have time. This beautiful site is along the Seine River. It was the headquarters of Rommel during WWII. Although there is not much to see inside it is not to be missed.

Vernon, France

Be sure to visit the beautiful Church of Notre Dame - de Vernon in town - steps from where the river boats dock. This collegiate Church was rebuilt several time between the 12C & the Renaissance period.

Vernon, France

Be sure to walk to the middle of the Clemenceau Bridge for a nice view of Vernon and the wooden islands scattered on the Seine. Look for the ruined supports of an old 12 Century bridge on which the Vernonnet Mill rests.

Rouen, France

Don't forget to pass under the "big Clock" Gros Horloge. Get a drink at the bar/coffee place under the clock. Try some local specialties such as the local cider which is fizzy and lightly alcoholic. I tried the Calvados and found it to be pretty strong. Another suggestion is the apple brandy.

Rouen, France

Don't miss the old covered market next to the Jean d Arc church which stays open until 1:30 pm. It is closed on Mondays. It is well worth visiting.

Lyon, France

Visit the Museum of Resistance - it is the building used by the head of the Gestapo in Lyons. Entrance fee is 5 Euro. See the major moments of WWII and occupied France. Well worth the small admission price.

Paris, France

Be sure to visit the magnificent Versailles Palace and Gardens, This grand chateau is not to be missed. The gardens are quite extensive; the Royal Palace is immense. Allow 4-5 hours to tour. Palace is closed Mondays

Lyon, France

Be sure to visit the medieval village of Perouges with its ramparts, narrow paved streets, the townhouse of the Princes of Savoy and the craft shops. I loved the restored 13th century timbered buildings. It is well worth a visit.

GIVERNY, FRANCE

If you are in Giverny, you absolutely must visit Claude Monet's home, gardens & studio. Although his studio is a huge gift shop, go inside even if you don't want to buy anything. There are several painting on the walls that you won't want to miss. Walk left from the shop to the church.

Sydney, Australia

If you have seen the main sightseeing places in Sydney, visit the Blue Mountains. See the Three Sister Rock formation

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

I have never thought to do this but other passengers have I noticed as I traveled the stateroom passageways, you can request a copy of the Times Digest to be delivered right to your cabin by your cabin steward. On my next cruise I will request this.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Do not hesitate to request two copies of the On Location activities program from your steward. My husband & I often do different activities on board so we always request a second copy. Of course, the front desk always has extra copies, as well.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

The Times Digest is usually available in the Lido Buffet. You do not have to go by the front desk to find one. If you do not see it in the cafe, ask a crew member to get one for you.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

If you are on a Grand Voyage or World cruise, consider purchasing your own visas. On the ship they cost more money. We save quite a bit by buying the Australian Visa before leaving home &U it was simple to do. Make sure that you bring it with you and give a copy to to the front desk.

San Diego, California

If you have not visited the Midway Museum it is excellent. Best of all it is right near the ship terminal and you can walk to it. You can spend 3 or more hours there. Exhibits are both inside and outdoors

Port Canaveral, Florida

If you wish to stay close to the port, visit the new Exploration Tower for a great bird's eye view of all the ships in port. It is near the new terminal.

Port Canaveral, Florida

If you wish to stay close to the port, visit the new Exploration Tower for a great bird's eye view of all the ships in port. It is near the new terminal.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Keep your room key card away from your camera or cell phone. My card got de-magnetized several times. I did not have this problem on other ships for some reason.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

On our Grand Voyage, the ship had power strips available for passengers to use. Don't forget to request one if you are on a World or Grand Voyage. We kept ours for the following cruise through the Panama Canal before returning it.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Take the kitchen galley tour. It is interesting and you get to see how the kitchen works on a cruise ship.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

The Ocean Bar serves complimentary hors d'oeuvres befote dinner nightly.

Cartagena, Colombia

Be sure to take a guided walk through the old walled city. See Manga, the Heredia Theater and Santiago Bastions. Visit Baloco Street for its colonial architecture. The Inquisition Palace was educational but hard emotionally for me to photograph what happened here. See the mansions in Cartagena, see the cathedral, Governor's Mansion, the old commercial district, the Customs Plaza & San Pedro Clauer Plaza

Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua

Visit charming colonial Leon at the base of Momotombo volcano. It was the former capital - an 1 1/2 drive from the port. Most important city after Managua. See colonial-style streets, old architecture, houses with wooden roofs. Visit the lovely park and La Asuncion Cathedral and climb up to the roof for picturesque views.

Panama Canal Transit

You will learn a lot about the workings of the canal and there is lots to see on shore as you transit. A local canal representative will come on board to give you details about what you are seeing.

Huatulco, Mexico

Our favorite port of call. See this city by boat & by land. Picturesque beaches, bays & coves. Driive aslong the Mexican Pacific Coastline. See Organo Bay, Maguey Bay, Chahue Bay & Santa Cruz Bay by boat with open bar. Dvive to town of La Crucesita

Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica

Punta Arenas Take the Pacific Rain Forest Aerial Train & the Jungle Cruise on Tarcoles River to see many birds, crocodiles and other wildlife. Take a gondola and see giant trees, waterfalls & gardens. Walk a trail through a forest.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Visit San Sabastisan in the Sierra Madre Mountains, remote & historical. See rural Mexican Life, dates back to the 1700s

Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

Make the 90-minute drive to Antigua. See Central Park, the Cathedral, Governor's Palace and the church & convent. Have lunch in historic Casa Santo Domingo now a hotel and cultural center with several museums - candles & ceramics, art and handicrafts. Visit the Jade Museum Factory

San Diego, California

Midway Museum was the best. Allow several hours. Visit Little Italy, Seaport Village is charming & I made purchases here.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Happy Hour drink promotion: Buy One Get One For $1 More is the best deal on board

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

The Ocean Bar serves complimentary hot hors d'oeuvres before dinner nightly.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Did you know that the sweets are complimentary in the Exploration Cafe?

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Be sure to attend the culinary arts center when they offer demonstrations. Often they give out samples of the foods cooked. They also hand out printed recipes so you don't need to take notes.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

You do not need to bring detergent with you. The eight quarters includs the detergent.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

To use the washing machine, you will need 8 quarters. The dryers are free. The front desk can make change for you.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

You don't need to pack your own conditioner as HAL is one of the few cruise lines that still provides hair conditioner. On the ms Amsterdam, conditioner was in a dispenser in the shower/tub.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

You don't need to pack your own conditioner as HAL is one of the few cruise lines that still provides hair conditioner. On the ms Amsterdam, conditioner was in a dispenser in the shower/tub.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Be sure to have lunch at least once at the Dive-In poolside. There are several choices of burgers & dogs but be sure to order the fries. They are so tasty.

San Diego, California

Visit the Midway museum right near the dock and walk to Little Italy. Take a hop on & Hop Off tour opf the city.

Apia, Samoa

Tsake in the sights and tour the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum.

Honolulu, Oahu

Driove the coastline to scenic Makapu'u Point and Sandy Beach, Halona Blow Hole and view the Waialae Golf Course. Visit Sony PGA OPen.

Port Douglas, Australia

Take the Skyrail Rain Forest Cablewaywith stops at Rainforest Interpretive Centre and Red Peak Station & the town of Kuranda. Take a ride on the Kuranda scenic Railway.

Lahaina, Maui

Visit the Honolulu Bay overlook and Nakalele Point. Drive to Kahakuloa and stop at the shops in town. Visit Makamaka'ole and see the 3 cascading waterfallsw,

Noumea, New Caledonia

Travel to FOL lookout for a great view. Visit the church of La Conception. Then stop Promenade Vernier. Wander the shops in the Palm Beach Gallery.

Lautoka, Fiji Islands

Take a drive of Nadi pause for photos at Vuda Lookout. See the largest Hindu Temple along the way. Shop in Nadi town for souvenirs. Enjoy lunch at the Vuda Marina

Suva, Fiji

Take a longboat ride to see the big watergfall and take a swim. You will get wet. Bring a poncho in case of rain. The ones provided are worn.

Benoa, Bali, Indonesia

Visit a beach resort or Klungkung Kertagosa & the Bale Kambang floating pavilion. See Besakih. Fionaloly visit Puri Agung Karangasem.

Hong Kong

Visit the bird market, Jade Market and flower St. T Visit Victoria Peak for lunch and a ride on the Peak Tramake an Evening Harbor Cruise

Qingdao, China

Visit St Michael's Cathedral, The Zhaoqiao Pier & Huilang Pavilion. Drive along the Badaguan resort area & visit the Zhanshan Temple

Singapore

National Orchid Garden and take a ride on the Singapore Flyer. Then on to Bugis Street and a ride on a trishaw.

Phu My (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam

Visit Ho Chi Minh City & Notre Dame Cathedral. Also visit former Presidential Palace, now Reunification Hall and perhaps a lacquer ware workshop

Kodiak, Alaska

Take a boat ride to see marine wildlife. We saw whales, sea lions, otters and birds

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

The fries in the Dive In are terrific. Try them

Celebrity Summit

Celebrity Summit

Dine in the Normandy Restaurant for super service and delicious food

Port Canaveral, Florida

Enjoy a drink or lunch at one of the several restaurant at the port. Price for alcohol will be less expensive than on the ship. My favorite is Grills but I also like Fish Lips, Rusty's and Milligan's Reef. You can sit outside and enjoy the views of the ships in port. Watch smaller boats sailing

Port Canaveral, Florida

Take a short ride out to Cocoa Beach and shop at Ron Jon's. Great place for beach wear or tee shirts for a family member or friend back home - especially for teens and young adults. From there you can access the beach.

Port Canaveral, Florida

Parking is expensive at the port. Consider offsite parking or stay at a local hotel/motel that has a deal on leaving your car in their lot.

Port Canaveral, Florida

If you have time, visit the new ExplorationTower. It is inexpensive and the view from on top is wonderful. Great place to photograph your ship in port.

Port Canaveral, Florida

If the cove tents are up, stop by and do some shopping. The handmade jewelry are one of a kind and reasonably priced.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Take the complementary tram around the area. It stops just steps from the cruise terminal. Get off wherever you wish. This will save you walking or a taxi fare.

Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Take the inexpensive all day water taxi which into town. Negotiate a rate for lounge chairs by the beautiful beach by the dock. Leave time to check out the shops in town. Shop keepers are helpful and polite.

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Take a shore excursion to St. John's island. The catamaran ride over was fun and the tour of the island was spectacular. It was the high point of our cruise. So many stunning beaches to see .

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

If you are not afraid of heights, take the Skyride for a simply beautiful view of the port and your ship. I rode the Ferris wheel here for more beautiful views. Free wii-fi at the top. If you have time, explore the area where the animals are. Our ticket allowed us to return later-we did.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Plan on spending a half a day strolling around Old San Juan. It is a great place to buy touristy items. Sit in one of the squares and feel like a local.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

This is one of my favorite ports. Take the complementary tram around the area getting off wherever you wish. It is a great way to tour without cost. There is a stop right near the cruise docks.

Nassau, Bahamas

The recently built Straw Market is a big improvement over the outdoor stalls. However, expect to encounter aggressive vendors. I found some good deals here. I was able to bargain by buying more than one item with a vendor. It is not air conditioned.

Nassau, Bahamas

If your ship arrives here on a Sunday, figure that many of the shops are closed. This isn't a bad thing as the area around Bay St. will be less congested. It is a great time to get some nice photos. We enjoyed listening to a local combo group performing on the street.

Nassau, Bahamas

This is not a very exciting port. It is very congested and has too many taxi drivers hawking their tours. Instead take the inexpensive water taxi around three dollars to the free public beach near the Atlantis. Rent a lounger &/or umbrella. It is a short walk from the ferry.

Nassau, Bahamas

This is not a very exciting port. It is very congested and has too many taxi drivers hawking their tours. Instead take the inexpensive water taxi around three dollars to the free public beach near the Atlantis. Rent a lounger &/or umbrella. It is a short walk from the ferry.

Nassau, Bahamas

This is not a very exciting port. It is very congested and has too many taxi drivers hawking their tours. Instead take the inexpensive water taxi around three dollars to the free public beach near the Atlantis. Rent a lounger &/or umbrella. It is a short walk from the ferry.

Grand Turk Island

Visit the NASA exhibit at the far end of the shopping area. Great spot for a photo.

Grand Turk Island

Spend time at the beautiful pool or very clean beach. The water temperature will be warn during late spring, summer or early fall. It is a very relaxing way to enjoy the port.

Grand Turk Island

If you enjoy shopping save some time to visit the stores here. I always buy something here. The shop owners are polite and helpful.

Grand Turk Island

Normally I suggest leaving your camera at home when you go to the beach. Here I suggest you bring it to capture the beautiful setting for a photo of your ship. Frame it with the swaying palm trees.

Grand Turk Island

Normally I suggest leaving your camera at home when you go to the beach. Here I suggest you bring it to capture the beautiful setting for a photo of your ship. Frame it with the swaying palm trees.

Grand Turk Island

Consider bring aqua shoes to wear at the beach here. There pieces of rocks at the bottom. Enjoyed the lounges, palm trees and fun atmosphere.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

We took the water taxi which is very reasonably priced over to the Bacardi Distillery. The tour is complementary and the tasting is fun. It was just a very short walk from our dock to the water taxi. Quite an inexpensive way to enjoy the port. Visit the popular gift shop.

Allure of the Seas

Allure of the Seas

Don't try to eat in the Windjammer buffet on Embarkation Day. It is way too crowded and there is a long line. Eat in Sorrento's Deck 5or one of the other eateries like the Wipe Out on Deck 15.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Lots to see and do here. We took the water taxi to Barcardi. Visit Old San Juan. Go to the rain Forest.

Nassau, Bahamas

WI don't usually get off the ship most times. Junkanoo Beach though is a beach to visit if you don't mind a little bit of a walk. We went here last time.

Carnival Liberty

Carnival Liberty

The lounge chairs by the beach & pool dockside in Grand Turk are complementary. Sit near Margarettaville to hear the music.

MSC Divina

MSC Divina

There is no drink service in the theater and drink are not pushed on board.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

The Adults-Only Area is a great place for a quieter atmosphere and a good place to read.

Celebrity Summit

Celebrity Summit

Look for the window down to the ocean in the Oceanview Cafe bump outs

Crown Princess

Crown Princess

Be sure to notice the bubbles outside the Piazza (glass) elevators once you are above the 7th deck.

Oasis of the Seas

Oasis of the Seas

Be sure to pre-book online all your dinner reservations and shows. It will save you time once on board and you will get the times that you want.

Carnival Freedom

Carnival Freedom

Visit the casino and request a lanyard and a hole for your Sign & Sail on your first night onboard. Crew will be around the casino offering them to passengers. Wear it around your neck when you board or exit the ship for easy access.

Celebrity Constellation

Celebrity Constellation

If you choose Select Dining ask to be seated at one of Gede's tables if he still works on this ship. He is a terrific waiter and earned Crewmember of the month just before we sailed on the Constellation.

Celebrity Constellation

Celebrity Constellation

If you choose Select Dining on the Constellation, try to dine before 7 PM. We always ate between 6-6:30 and never encountered a wait any evening on our 14-night cruise. We noticed lines starting to form after 7 PM. We were always able to get a tble for two also with the waiter that we wanted.

Celebrity Constellation

Celebrity Constellation

If you enjoy sushi, visit the Seaside Cafe at 5:30 for a great variety. Stir Fry food is also available.

Carnival Sensation

Carnival Sensation

This holds for any Carnival ship. If you never mastered using chopsticks, bring a fork with you to the Sushi bar. They only have chopsticks available. I'll have to remember to leave a plastic fork in my evening bag for just this purpose or borrow a fork from the buffet.

Carnival Sensation

Carnival Sensation

Visit the complementary sushi bar before dinner. Check the Fun Times for when it is available. Sometimes it is closed if another event is scheduled there.

Carnival Sensation

Carnival Sensation

Don't wait until the ship drops off your statement on the last night/very early morning to review your charges. The line at Guest Services will be too long the next day if there is a problem you need resolved. Get a copy the day before the last so you can get it fixed ahead of the crowd.

Carnival Sensation

Carnival Sensation

If you want to try out the big water slide do it while the ship is in Port otherwise you will probably encounter lines.

Allure of the Seas

Allure of the Seas

Seriously consider pre-reserving show times online. You can due this from 90 - up to 4 days before your cruise. You can do it on board also but do so right away after you board. You are seated on a first come first serve basis. Without a reservation, you aren't ensured a seat in the theater.

Oasis of the Seas

Oasis of the Seas

Seriously consider pre-reserving show times online. You can due this from 90 - up to 4 days before your cruise. You can do it on board also but do so right away after you board. You are seated on a first come first serve basis. Without a reservation, you aren't ensured a seat in the theater.

Freedom of the Seas

Freedom of the Seas

Seriously consider pre-reserving show times online. You can due this from 90 - up to 4 days before your cruise. You can do it on board also but do so right away after you board. You are seated on a first come first serve basis. Without a reservation, you aren't ensured a seat in the theater.

Liberty of the Seas

Liberty of the Seas

Seriously consider pre-reserving show times online. You can due this from 90 - up to 4 days before your cruise. You can do it on board also but do so right away after you board. You are seated on a first come first serve basis. Without a reservation, you aren't ensured a seat in the theater.

Freedom of the Seas

Freedom of the Seas

Even if you don't want to try out the FlowRider yourself, go up to Deck 13 and watch the action. There is stadium seating and the "show" is very entertaining. You may even get up your nerve to try it yourself. Bring your camera.

Freedom of the Seas

Freedom of the Seas

Don't get lost on this huge ship. Throughout the ship there are signs called "Cruise Compass." They are navigational aids to help you find your way to everywhere on the ship including your own stateroom and rest rooms. The interactive screens are easy to use.

Freedom of the Seas

Freedom of the Seas

Stop in at the Cafe Promenade for delicious complementary confectionaries. We all tried different ones and all were delicious. I had a rum and nut one & it was quite unique. You can also get small deli sandwiches & Starbuck's Coffee here.

Freedom of the Seas

Freedom of the Seas

Look for the complementary soft ice cream cone machine on the pool deck. I loved the swirl chocolate & vanilla.

Freedom of the Seas

Freedom of the Seas

The Crypt is a gothic themed nightclub. The DJ welcomes requests. It is a neat place with lots of atmosphere. Be sure to check it out.

Freedom of the Seas

Freedom of the Seas

Females who want to try the FlowRider, you might want to consider a tee shirt over your bikini. I've seen a few tops come off. Guys make sure that your trunks are on tightly for the same reason. Have fun! They help you get started & demonstrate tricks for you to try.

Freedom of the Seas

Freedom of the Seas

If you wish to try out the ice skating rink you will need to wear long pants. Be sure to bring a pair of comfortable one. The ship provides the skates. I'd bring heavy socks too for comfort.

Freedom of the Seas

Freedom of the Seas

Be sure to try the pizzas at Sorrento's in the Royal Promenade. They are much better than most other cruise line pizzas. They have yummy desserts also and they are complementary.

Freedom of the Seas

Freedom of the Seas

If you are booking an inside cabin consider the Promenade staterooms for a little more money. You get a large picture window overlooking the Royal Promenade. These have an excellent view of the parades, dance shows and Meet the Captain events. They have a more open feeling.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

Pick up a casino lanyard & ask them to punch a hole in your Sail & Sign Card. Even if you don't gamble, it's a neat way to keep your card handy around your neck when exiting/reboarding the ship. It keeps your hands free & ensures that you don't drop the card. Guest Services can also punch it.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

Wear closed-toed shoes and bring bug repellant with you just in case -also drivers license & sunscreen.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

Feeling romantic or celebrating an anniversary, consider renewing your vows onboard. The Captain conducts the ceremony. Remember to bring a camera. See Guest Services for details.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

If you are celebrating a very special ocassion consider signing up for The Chef's Table. It is a pricey $75 but it is worth every penny. You will spend an evening with the Executive Chef, enjoy a special multi-course dinner & receive a private Galley Tour & a commemorative photo. Reserve early!!

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

If you take the Cave & Land Rover Expedition - Belize, be sure to wear sturdy shoes. The rain forest/jungle/cave area is muddy & slippery in spots with uneven surfaces. You will have to climb over a large rock in the cave, Also you will need closed shoes to drive the Land Rover.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

Don't miss the Singing in the Rain Show with Full Force.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

Try the Mushroom Cappuccino soup in the dining rooms. It is almost as good as that served in Chef's Art Steakhouse. The truffle oil adds to the flavor.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

If you need a printout of you account statement, use the machine near the front desk. You can avoid the line at the Guest Services Desk & get updates as you need them. It is simple to use.

Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival Ecstasy

On all Carnival, visit the shops daily for each night's special deal. Shop early for best selection. If you miss the deal, leftover stock is often still available, later. I loved Pandora-style glass charm bracelets - 2 for $40 or crystal charms bracelets - $40 each. Sets of charms available,too

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

The Dream uses a really novel technology. They are machines using face recognition software to find all the photos that the ship photographers takes of each passenger. Insert your ship card & up pops all your photos including that first one taken at embarkation. Order right from the machine.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

Don't miss the cooking class offered in the Chef's Art steakhouse specialty restaurant. You receive a large sample of each dish prepared. My favorite was the Mushroom Cappuccino Soup. It is usually held on a sea day. On my cruise it was on the second day of the cruise.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

Check out the Serenity decks on the ship. They are lovely areas that are much quieter than the pool areas - adults 21 & over only.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

Be sure to see the dancing show performed by Full Force in the Atrium. It will give you a taste of what they will do in the full production number "Dancing in the Street."

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

Don't miss the "Dancing in the Street" show in the Encore! theater. It is simply fabulous and you will be talking about it for days later.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

Pack all your own reacing material on the Dream. The Library is not well-stocked.

Celebrity Constellation

Celebrity Constellation

If you/friend/family member will be cruising here, visit the online gift shop ahead of time. Your purchases can be delivered directly to the stateroom w/o shiping costs. A nice selection of Tote bags, fanny packs, bottle holders, ship card holders etc are available. They make nice gifts.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

If you are considering booking a new Carnival cruise within 24 months, purchase a voucher for $100 onboard. You can use the voucher as part of your initial deposit & receive up to $200 in shipboard credit depending on length of new cruise. Completely refundable if unused. Redeem online or by mail.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

Attend the shopping presentation. You will receive a VIP packet of discounts geared to your needs. Also obtain a free charm bracelet & charms on the ship & in each port. You can always give it as a gift to family or friends if you don't want it. Jen gave us all a ship charm after the talk.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

To get a good view of ice carving demonstration, go upstairs the Panorama Deck #11. After completion of the sculpture, you can move downstairs for close-up photos.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

If your travel agent or family/friends purchase a bottle of wine for you & it is delivered to your stateroom on a Carnival ship, you may bring it intact (with the bow & note still attached) & they will serve it to you without a corkage charge. This will save you at least $22 or more.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

Carnival asks passengers to print out their luggage tags. We coat ours with clear packing tape before stapling on luggage handle. My 2nd tip is to print out duplicates; place second on another handle in case one is lost or ripped off in transit. We saw lots of missing tags on the Ecstasy.

Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival proivides free transportation from its dock to the downtown area. Use it as the drivers provide a running commentary on the area.

Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival Ecstasy

Arrive at the terminal either before 12:00 noon or after 2:30 to avoid the lines on embarkation day.

Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival Ecstasy

This applies to any ship actually, never feel that you must order a drink in theaters, comedy clubs, nightclubs or bars.

Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival Ecstasy

Be aware that many ships including Carnival will not allow you to bring your own hair dryer or other small appliances like a mug heating element. If you have questions call Carnival or check the Website. We were told that they would confiscate such items if found in your stateroom.

Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival Comedy Club shows are terrific. If you don't want to be part of the show don't sit in the front. Even sitting in the back is no guarantee. It is all in good fun, so enjoy just be aware. However if you do enjoy active participation, get there early when doors open for a front row seat.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

Ships are so big-it is really important to wear comfortable shoes.Keep in mind even at night since the theater is often at the opposite end from the dinning roon. You will end up walking a lot even if you take elevators. Pack pretty comfortable sandals. Nothing ruins a trip more than sore feet.

Prinsendam

Prinsendam

On any ship consider presenting the cabin steward with a small tip right at the beginning of the cruise if you desire extra consideration such as wanting more ice in your room. You will find that the steward never forgets your needs.

Carnival Miracle

Carnival Miracle

On any ship, if you experience a problem don't wait until the end of the cruise to complain in a survey.This doesn't make you a good pasenger. Speak up right away & let the cruise director, front desk, waiter or maitre'd fix it. All cruiselines want to make you happy & go out of their way to help.

Carnival Miracle

Carnival Miracle

Don't over pack. On casual nights, capris, dress shorts & nice jeans can be worn in the dining room.

Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival Ecstasy

Plan on embarking the ship around 12 noon. That is when passenger are first permitted to board - sometimes even earlier. As the day wears on, lines are longer. You'll eat at the buffet earlier (when it is also less crowded) - especially important if you have early dinner seating reservations.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

Carnival now asks passengers to print out their paper baggage tags. I suggest that you print out 2 for each bag & put clear packing tape completely over them. Place them on different areas of your bag in case one rips off. I saw many bags without tags sitting undelivered in the security area

Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival Ecstasy

When the Carnival Dancers & Singers are performing in the theater, plan on arriving at least 1/2hr before showtime especially if you are a party of2+. Best seats fill up fast. Don't miss these multi-million dollar extravaganzas. At least two different shows are offered on each cruise.

Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival Ecstasy

Sometimes the music around the Lido Deck pools can get very loud. For quiet time, sit on the Serenity deck. It's a little tricky to get to but well worth the peace & quiet you will find there. There are two jacuzzis. Also there is some shade if you sunburn easily.

Carnival Glory

Carnival Glory

Carnival cruise lines permits passengers to carry onboard a reasonable amount of soft drinks. If you want diet deffeinated beverages, you won't find them on any ship. Bring your own if you are driving to the ship.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

Be sure to pick up a deck plan for your ship - especially the small ones either at embarkation check-in desk or the front desk on the ship. It will keep you from getting lost. They are small and easy to carry with you.

Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival Ecstasy

When possible, book shore excursions online before your cruise. Lines on the ship's Shore Excursion Desk are always long and some tours sell out quickly - especially ones that limit the # of participants.

Carnival Miracle

Carnival Miracle

If you are waitlisted for any dining option, be sure to stop at the Maitre 'd as soon as you board the ship. Lines can get long later & you will have a better chance of getting you choice if you do so early.

Carnival Miracle

Carnival Miracle

On any cruiseline, be sure to pack a beach bag to stow your belongings when visiting the pool or visiting a beach in port. Keeping you stuff out of sight in a bag is prudent.

Carnival Sensation

Carnival Sensation

Carnival permits passengers to each bring one bottle of wine per adult on embarkation day. Consider taking a bottle with a screw off top so you don't have to also bring a corkscrew with you. There is a corkage fee if you bring the bottle into the dining room.

Carnival Sensation

Carnival Sensation

If cruising out of Port Canaveral or almost any US port & you are driving from a distance, consider staying at a local hotel. With a one-night stay, you get free parking for the length of your cruise. Parking at the Port is $15 daily unless handicapped. Transportation to the ship is included.

Carnival Magic

Carnival Magic

Stop by the Sushi bar on any Carnival ship for complementary sushi. Most guests who know about it visit before dinner.

Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival Ecstasy

Don't forget to pack a bathing suit, coverall & suntan lotion in your carryon. On many ships, although you may embark the ship early, your stateroom isn't ready. By having these items with you, you can change in a public restroom & lounge comfortably by the pool.

Carnival Miracle

Carnival Miracle

At the end of all cruises, Carnival holds a Farewell Party where drinks and sometimes hors d'oeuvres are complementary. For some reason, it isn't well publicized and poorly attended. Don't pass this one up. It will be listed in "Fun Times" but without any details.

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