Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruises and other Caribbean Cruise Reviews – Debbie’s Caribbean Resort Reviews and Cruise Reviews

  ~ Cruise Reviews Index
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Carnival Cruises
Conquest — Western Caribbean — 1 Princess Cruises
Grand Princess — Western Caribbean — 2 Royal Caribbean
Adventure of the Seas — 1 Week – Southern Caribbean — 2
Radiance of the Seas — 8 night Eastern Caribbean — 1
Serenade of the Seas — Southern Carribean – depart San Juan, Puerto Rico — 1

Carnival Cruises

  Carnival Cruises – Conquest   David & Linda ~ Fort Worth, TX

September 2008 April 27, 2008 7 Day Cruise out of Galveston Itinerary: Western Caribbean: Galveston, TX ; Fun Day At Sea ; Fun Day At Sea ; Montego Bay, Jamaica ; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands ; Cozumel, Mexico ; Fun Day At Sea ; Galveston, TX Carnival Conquest Cruise April 27, 2008 out of Galveston, TX. Seven day cruise on Carnival Conquest. This was my first time on Carnival Cruise Lines and it was my wife, Linda’s 5th I think. She is sold on CCL. I was impressed with the following. Larger staterooms (about 191 sq ft -see photo slide show below) Kind and friendly service Good activities for all ages Knowledgeable staff Great entertainment staff for the Karaoke and the Carnival Legends Show

Good entertainment in the evening listening and dancing areas

For me, the food was good but not up to my expectations in comparison to our Royal Caribbean experience and my memories of Norwegian Cruise Lines cruise. My wife, Linda was highly satisfied with the food – using room service for late nights and early AM pastries and coffee to the room. Would I cruise again on CCL? Yes I probably would. If I had to choose between CCL and RCL I would mostly go with RCL –although I would traveling alone as Linda would be on CCL. We booked through www.cruisecheap.com/ and our agent was Jackie Shoemaker – WMPH Vacations (800) 439-1909. This is the 3rd cruise she has help Linda and I to book. Very fair and helpful. CCL staff knows how to put on good shows and get the guests involved. They got me! I sang Karaoke couple of nights and got asked to appear in the Carnival Legends Show on Saturday night as Frank Sinatra singing “My Way” in full costume. -see photo slide show below CCL staff knows how to put on good shows and get the guest involved. They got me! I sang Karaoke couple of nights and got asked to appear in the Carnival Legends Show on Saturday night as Frank Sinatra singing “My Way” in full costume. -see photo slide show here www.texaspepper.net/ccvideo.htm Had so much fun, we have booked the same cruise for a Seven Day Carnival Conquest Cruise out of Galveston through our travel club, Great Escapes for September 28, 2008 as a Birthday, Anniversary, Christmas gift to each other. Got a smoking deal for a balcony and Linda’s sister, Shirley is joining us –cost her about $315 + tips as the third person in the room. Very possible we’ll be upgraded the day of the cruise to a suite since we have points built
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Princess Cruises

  Princess Cruises – Grand Princess   Dave and Gloria’s

March 2008 I think we must have been on a different ship from Jan and Larry. We had the most wonderful experience on the same cruise. Our cabin was 1st rate with a comfortable bed, exceptionally clean, and well looked after by our Room Stewart, with clean towels in abundance several times a day, well cleaned twice a day and nothing was too much trouble to ask for. It may because I slipped him $20 the 1st day but I would like to think he was as contentious as he appeared. Our dinner accommodations were with the couple we signed up for the cruise with and the service and staff were exceptional. The menu was like going to the best restaurant in town every night of the week. The food was so good we didn’t bother trying the specialty restaurants. The meals at the buffet restaurant were very good, lots of selection and good quality.The food was always fresh even late at night. We had the burgers and fries one lunch and they were better than expected, the fries were actually good. Only problem was no vinegar for the fries. The pizza was mediocre but certainly not inedible. The comment about the smokey casino is appropriate. There was one night that was no smoking but it was otherwise quite heavy at other times. The only shore trip we did was in Ocio Rios where we climbed Dunn’s Falls and did a walking tour of Shaw Gardens. The Falls climb was incredible, with helpful and amusing staff that made the adventure fun and safe. Take a water proof camera with you. The pricing of beer and spirits seemed reasonable when compared to a bar or similar place. I had actually expected to be paying more. Beer and drinks were $4.50 with extra charge for high end specials. You could buy a bucket of beer 5 beer for the price of 4. At dinner you could buy wine for $21.00 a bottle and up. Very reasonable for not bad wines.I went in knowing that booze was extra so I was not upset with the prices. The ship is large and confusing but that became part of the fun at times. The pool areas were fun and there are lots of loungers and lots of activity around the main pool. We did a food presentation and kitchen tour that was very good, with the kitchen tour being a highlight. The cleanliness and size was amazing. Also went to a wine tasting that was entertaining and informative, cost us $9.00 each and was worth it. The staff through out the trip were fantastic, the ship was spotless and the dining room people kept your table clean while being friendly and smiling constantly. While there were people taking pictures constantly, if you didn’t want to pose it was no problem, and you certainly didn’t have to buy a picture you didn’t want. All in all we had a fantastic time, never been so well treated. I have been to many all inclusive resorts and compared to them this is like being royalty. Having said this while I loved the cruise I would rather do 2 all inclusives for the same money, but I will cruise again. My wife absolutely loved it. We have received a few emails after the cruise offering another cruise but what would you expect. I would recommend the Grand Princess in a minute.
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Princess Cruises – Grand Princess Jan and Larry

February 2008 My husband and I just returned from a cruise on the Grand Princess (western Caribbean) route and I must say that we would discourage anyone from purchasing passage on this ship or perhaps, if it was representative of Princess, on this cruiseline at all. We are not novices at cruising and have been on four other lines previously, including a prior trip to the Caribbean on Royal Caribbean. We would rate the Princess experience on a par almost with Carnival (and that one we vowed we will never travel on again). We do not plan ever to book tickerts on a Princess cruise again. While the debarkation procedure was well-arranged and efficient in Fort Lauderdale, service that we feel is appropriate to a cruiseship ended there. Our room steward was virtually absent, repeatedly ignored requests for simple items (e.g. for fruit or even beachtowels! After four days of trying to obtain a towel each for deck chairs and excursions, we eventually had to ask a ship’s officer to obtain some for us!). Much of the basic room equipment and supplies were rundown anyway (e.g. ripped robes, faded and discoloured duvet cover). The room steward also threw out items that were not for disposal on several occasions, including excursion stickers that indicated that we had paid, as well as any pop left unattended in the fridge (apparently to ensure that we had to buy more). The staterooms (and we had a supposed upgrade with a large balcony and sitting area) are rundown in general and poorly maintained in contrast with every other ship we have been on. Fingermarks from past passengers on the walls and sliding foor became so disturbing after four days of neglect in our own stateroom (these included dripmarks running down the switchplates) that I cleaned the most disgusting aspects myself mid-cruise. The mattress was so old, it had two indents that made sleep almost impossible and rolling over a feat at the best of times. When my husband finally complained (as I had been sleeping on the floor for several nights by then with a blanket we obtained finally), the steward apparently flipped the mattress; the other side had a single huge indentation instead. Thereafter we took turns sleeping on the floor and/or used the foldout (that was not made up). Common rooms were cleaner, it seemed but the layout of the ship was very strange in many ways. For example, as did so many others apparently, we had requested formal reserved seating with a group of other passengers but evidently one has to have some sort of "in" with Princess to get that confirmed at all, even ‘though many whom we eventually saw seated there were slobs, in shorts and bathing suits, despite stated ship policy to the contrary. Despite numerous attempts at clarifying dining arrangements prior to travel, we were not informed that we were to have "anytime dining" until we were on board! I am unsure if we would have gone, had we known. I will never confirm another cruise without a guarantee regarding seating in place. We chose Princess only because it matched our schedule and planned itinerary. After dinner the first night, there was a one hour lineup at the purser’s desk with similar people who also had been misled and wanted to change dinner arrangements. We did not bother as we had other errors to correct by then, in our shore excursions that had been booked online three months previously but were royally messed up by Princess staff! Unfortnuately, this meant that any sit-down meals we chose to attend, including on the formal evenings (with hubby in a tux and me in appropriate evening wear) had to be accessed through the huge smoke-filled casino if we chose to go to the Michaelangelo dining room. I am severely allergic to smoke and often tried to deep-breathe, then run through the casino, only to arrive already a bit queasy for dinner and short of breath with angina. A real source of humour was that a formal luncheon was available in only one dining room and only for an hour and a half. That sure seems a cost-cutting policy! We never made it, missing it once by less than a minute (according to the ship clocks). You can only eat so many hotdogs and hamburgers from the poolside grill…and the pizza was dreadful. Incidentally, while most common rooms are non-smoking, the casino and at least one bar are not and are left wide open to large areas of the ship. In fact as I said one can only access other areas through the casino without extraordinary effort and elevator hopping. Certain games can only be obtained for use in the smoking bar. Smoking in staterooms is not confined to one side of the ship and one therefore can be surrounded by smokers on all sides. It is a risk passengers take but did not prove too problematic to us as, most of the time while we were on the balcony, the ship was moving. The balconies themselves we see as an appropriate source of pride for Princess and are terraced so everyone has a wonderful sunning place and an unimpeded view. The pool areas are also very lovely and well-maintained with a huge TV screen next to one that features movies and sporting events. There are enough lounges on deck!! Those are the main positives, along with the friendliness of the line staff in general. The food was fine although not at all as extravagant or gourmet as we have had on Holland America or Norwegion or Royal Caribbean or even Carnival! In the standard dining rooms, lobster (one small tail) was served once, king crab legs once and escargots once during the week-long cruise. Most other dishes were pretty common fare but well-prepared and tasty. The buffets were similarly adequate but not special in any way. By the way, we lost 5 pounds each over the week; that is a first for us on a cruise LOL! We often were tempted by only a couple of courses on the menu and skipped a number of meals altogether, two by necessity because of shore excusions that provided no lunch break (awkward for diabetics). Service was good in dining and drink service areas but one has to wonder if the "pre-paid gratuity" policy that the line enforces really encourages staff to go the extra mile at all. The dining rooms (extra cost) were mainly deserted with few really unusual or interesting specialities anyway. Most we spoke with who had gone to them were disappointed by the fare in them. It is nice to have room service and those staff seemed efficient although they sometimes seemed to expect an extra tip, regardless of ship policy. Shore excursions were mostly fine although tendering arrangements were not as efficient as we have enjoyed on previous cruises and shoretime was therefore often cut very short, perhaps unnecessarily so. It is interesting that other lines, even with similarly large ships and on similar schedules, often were docked when we arrived and still docked when we left. Our experience was that staff gave different responses to questions about shore excursions and were unhelpful if/when issues developed, always blaming someone else and even becoming defensive on occasion and blaming tour operators or passengers for their own errors! We do not attend much of the entertainment on cruises but from what we saw, we expect this was pretty standard on Princess. One unfortunate thing was that, regardless of port of call, music, shows and even cuisine seemed unvarying and never related (as they have been on other cruises) to where the travellers are. Decorations and layout are often very uninteresting and less glamorous than we expect a newer ship in this line might be. As I said, the food was similarly simple. I believe that our biggest complaint and the most pervasive criticism we have of this Princess Cruise on the Grand Princess was the constant and crass commercialism. It became overwhelming and we started to amuse ourselves by seeing how often it appeared in all of its guises (e.g. placement of more speciality items at the back of the buffet, passing out leaflets to passenegers returning from a shore excursion, constant photographers and attempts to sell photos and other services)! Even the internet cost $.75/minute (when it is available free in every US McDonald’s, at airports and all Motel 6’s LOLOL!). This seems to be a line that primarily appeals to Americans, although there were also quite a number of Canadians, most from eastern Canada. There were almost no non-whites among the passengers and the ship staff was similarly divided–largely filipinos for room stewards, some blacks for food and drink service and whites for ships’ officers. Americans may like that and feel most comfortable with a less luxury-oriented and a more segregated line. Who knows?. Certainly everyone spoke English and that may be a plus for some. For us, however, part of the attraction of cruising is meeting folk from around the world of all ethnic origins and with a wealth of other personal experiences. The other passengers were pleasant of course but we might just as well have driven down the Eastern US coast for the week, as those are the people whom we met. We had done that already and hoped for more diversity on this trip… Anyway, further re the commercialism. It smacks you in the face daily, from almost the moment of booking the cruise, and constantly once aboard! As late as three days before departure, I had Princess representatives (quite pushy) still telephoning to try to pre-sell my NEXT Princess cruise! There are many staff onboard and everywhere trying to do just that and several stations on the TV constantly pushing Princess products. The only way to access the (tiny) gym onboard is to go through the larger high-pressured spa area with service people offering their wares. The Priness "Chatter" (the usual daily newletter) is about 7 pages long. It contains perhaps two paragraphs daily of useful information and the rest is devoted to shopping at ‘approved’ Princess stores ashore and other Princess options for further purchases. EVERYTHING, even ice cream, juice and pop, costs extra dollars! Bottled water is over $3 a bottle! One can only drink Princess-purchased beverages (at gouging prices—agin a captive audience for sure, the Americans just seemed willing to go along with eberything!). Appetizers cost extra, most daytime activities (and there are few, I assure you, apart from sales-oriented ones like art auctions) cost extra (e.g. bingo, wine-tasting). On arrival home there was already a brochure waiting for us to book our next Princess cruise (and we were given pins on disembarking that say we have been "upgraded" to Captain’s Circle)….what a laugh! Who wants to be in the circle LOL? I wish we had read more reviews ourselves before we purchased this cruise as I see many of our comments are not unique. We were perhaps misled by the tragically-romantic "Love Boat" image ourselves and had a set of expectations that were unreasonable for a ship and cruiseline that have deteriorated so much in the past many years, it seems. Perhaps this review will spare some others the same disappointments. We still enjoyed our travel and fortunately had a few days of real luxury in Ft. Lauderdale afterwards. Do not miss the everglades/flamingo park tour on the final day!
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Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean – Adventure of the Seas Mum

May 2007

Just got back from one week on the above route. This ship is Fantastic as are the staff.

The food was fantastic and there was soooo much to do. We were able to enjoy a Murder Mystery Dinner at Portofino’s Italian Restaurant which was the ultimate. The actors/actresses who were actually the dancers on the ship did a fantastic job and Andrew was fantastic. He had us in stitches. The ports were wonderful and there was no problem getting on and off the ship at all.

Abbey on the cruise directors staff was the most friendly, bubbliest person I have ever met. She made my vacation the best along with her co-worker Michael. Keep up the good work.

If you get a chance-travel Adventure of the Seas

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Royal Caribbean – Adventure of the Seas BBOD ~ Canada

February 2007

We just returned from a week long cruise in the Southern Caribbean(Puerto Rico, Aruba, Curacao, St. Martin and St. Thomas).
We sailed with Royal Caribbean, on the Adventure of the Seas. This is our second cruise, both with Royal Caribbean.

What a fabulous ship. What a fabulous vacation. The staff on the ship cannot due enough for you. Their goal is to make your vacation as pleasant and memorable as it can possibly be.

The Cruise Director(Mike) and Activities Manager(Rich) and their wonderful staff kept you busy all the time. They have so much energy and excitement to all that they do that they should be commended for that. They must keep all the guests, revved and ready to go and get them to participate in all or as many activities as possible. Abbey especially is so sweet and helpful-she could not do enough to help you out. Cheers to her. I saw her run and help a lady that fell down a stair. She was the only staff that ran to assist this guest. Hats off to Abbey.

The food, the rooms and the ship itself were just amazing and I would recommend this ship and this Caribbean route to anyone.

The ports were fantastic. On a cruise like this you can do as much as you want or as little as you want. We tried to find a compromise where we went in to the ports and did a few excursions, but also tried to enjoy all of the ships ammenities. There is far too much to do on this ship in one week.

The food was fantastic as was the service in the dining room. Hats off to the dining room staff. They work so hard and manage to make every dining experience a memorable one. Portofinos & Johnny Rockets, definitely, in my opinion, worth paying the extra to really enjoy.

There is not one thing about this vacation aboard this ship, that I could complain about.

Royal Caribbean, here we come again next year.

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Royal Caribbean – Radiance of the Seas Oscar and Nicole ~ Edmonton Alberta

December 2006

We took an 8 night Eastern Caribbean Cruise with Royal Caribbean from December 9 – 17 2006. Having done the all inclusive vacation several times we wanted to try something different. we were a group of nine, including one child age 5, on age 11, one age 14, one age 17, my mom who is 62 and four adults in the 30s to 40s range. Below is our review of this cruise line and of cruising in general.

Booking: We booked on line through royalcaribbean.com and found the process simple. We booked back in March 2006 and got a great rates, $1079(cruise only) for the adults and $179 for the kids. We also had RC arrange our flights from Edmonton to Ft. Lauderdale, which was the port of departure, and a nights hotel prior to our cruise. Air booked through them was $669 per person, hotel was included in the package. You can also pre pay your gratuities, this was another $92 per person. Total cost for an adult was just under $2000 and included airfare from Edmonton, your cruise, gratuities and one night pre cruise hotel at the Ft. Lauderdale Renaissance, which is an very nice hotel. We had booked an ocean view balcony stateroom as well and all airport to port and port to airport transfers were included.

Departure: We flew to Ft. Lauderdale on Dec 8 with United via Chicago. Flight was uneventful but long, we got into Ft. Lauderdale at 11 pm. Coming back they had us on Air Canada through Ottawa which was a much nicer flight.

Port Departure: They have an interesting and quick system, you drop your bags which have colour coded tags you attach before you leave home. The tags state your ship and stateroom. We boarded approx. 12:30 and it took us only about 20 minutes to get on board with their system of moving passengers. Once on board your stateroom is not ready yet, and your bags take a while to come to your room, so have any meds, documents etc in your carry on. They give you your sea pass card at port, this card is for accessing your stateroom, getting on and off the ship, and purchasing anything on board such as liquor, pop, stuff from the gift shop etc. We headed right for the buffet as they were already serving. Our bags made it to our room by 7pm.

Stateroom: Ours was comfortable with a balcony. Honestly, we were in there so little next time I think I will save some money and just get one with an oceanview window. The balcony is nice if you are actually going to sit out there. Stateroom had shower, toilet, TV, hairdryer. Don’t bring dryers or irons, they are not allowed due to the fire hazard.

Ship: The Radiance is a gorgeous ship, with every amenity for families, including a fabulous kids club for ages 3 – 17, teen disco, arcade, kids pool, 33 ft rock climbing wall. There is also a main pool on deck 11, and an adults on pool inside the solarium. It would take me a long time to describe all the features, if you want to take a tour you can do it on RC’s website.

Food: Two Words: NON STOP. We ate until we were sick of eating, I am sure I gained 5lbs. If you are hungry you can find food, and it was good! There was nowhere we ate that we did not like the food and the kids loved the variety. They have formal night two nights in the dining room and the meals were spectacular on those nights. Guys bring a suit, and ladies two nice dresses, the rest of the week was fairly casual. No beachwear is allowed in any of the restaurants on the ship though, so bring a cover up to the pool.

Beverages: We purchased a pop pkg, it was $6 per day of your cruise for adults, and $4 per day for kids. You have to purchase it upon boarding, you cannot get it after, and at $4 per pop it is a value, believe me. We also purchased a wine pkg, for $274 you got 10 bottles of wine to enjoy at your leisure, and the selections were good. Liquor is VERY expensive, $6 per drink, and with the swipe system it is easy to lose track of your consumption so be careful.

Shops: People on these cruises are insane shoppers and RC takes advanatage. They sold gold, watches, liquour, but the prices were actually really good. A Guess watch that would retail for $155 in Canada you could buy on board for $85 US. We bought a couple of things but mostly we were just amused watching the shopping frenzies.

Sea Sickness: We had some heavy seas on the second night, and half our group got seasick, so bring gravol and those patches or bracelets because they are really expensive on board. You never know who will be affected by the ship rolling around, and if anyone tells you you can’t feel it move, they are wrong, even on a calm day you can feel the ship move a bit, so if you get queasy easy bring meds or suffer.

Ports of Call: We stopped in San Juan Puerto Rico, St. Johns Antigua, St. Thomas, St. Maarten(dutch side) and Nassau. These were fabulous ports, and we were there for at least 6 to eight hours in each one. Excursions ran us for a family of four $1500 for our whole trip. We took the kids swimming with dolphins, we spend the day on a private island in Antigua with some of the best snorkelling I have ever done, and spent the day at Magens Bay in St. Thomas, the most breathtaking beach you will ever see.

Departing the ship: Did not take too long, we had to be out of our staterooms by 8 am, and then we waited in the ships lounge until our colour tag was called which was at about 9:30. Made our flight although it was tight and got home fine.

Overall rating: Food: 10 Service and staff: 10 Ports: 9 Accomodations: 10

Value compared to all inclusive: 3

Would we cruise again with RC? Yes, just not in the near future due to the cost.

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Royal Caribbean – Serenade of the Seas Kim & Mark – Ottawa, Ontario

November 2006

Dates Feb 25 – Mar 4/06 – Royal Carribean/Serenade of the Seas- Southern Carribean – depart San Juan, PR – visited St Thomas, St. Martin, Antigua, St Lucia and Barbados

My husband and I have travelled to quite a few 5+ all inclusives in Mexico, Jamaica, Punta Cana and decided to try a cruise for our 25 anniversary trip – it was beautiful. We fully enjoyed ourselves, shared a table with two other couples, one younger and one a bit older. Great people to discuss the days activities with and experiences. The staff members on board were polite and made you feel welcomed, were available for information and were very interesting people from all over the world. We picked the second seating for dinner when we booked and when we arrived were scheduled for the first; we asked to be changed which was done without hesitation. We bought the wine package so every night at dinner we had a bottle of wine to enjoy which we chose according to the package purchased. We also purchased the soft drink package for me (I do not drink a lot of alcohol) and found this to be a waste of money because I bought it mainly for water and could get glasses of water from any of the bars at no charge. I didn’t know this when I bought the package.

When you hear people say there was always food on a cruise this is true, and I can say for Serenade of the Seas the food was fantastic and more choices than one could ever consume. Besides eating in the main diningroom we also booked the two specialty restaurants at a cost of $20 each more. These meals were again fantastic but really I can’t see why they couldn’t have been included in the price paid for the cruise. Our wine package followed us to the two specialty restaurants so we were able to use our package there aswell.

Our room was spacious with plenty of space for us – but I have to say the balcony was the best choice we could have made – we slept with the door open every night, there were no bugs, I wasn’t concerned about security, the sunsets were beyond words and to sit and relax while sailing was so relaxing. If you can swing the extra cost, it is well worth it – coming from Canada during the winter to open the door and feel fresh warm air and to feel the sun again was good for the soul.

I could go on but I would like to say we enjoyed our cruise and visiting the islands (need more time will have to visit some of them again) but the only part that I would change is the extra cost for drinks on board – it is too bad they couldn’t either make it all inclusive or allow a person to purchase a drink package that would include beer/fancy drinks. Knowing that there would be a bar tab and extras on our bill for the end of the trip took a little bit of the relaxation away. Not that we didn’t know what to expect when we booked and we were able to view our charges per day and the total but that takes the shine off it for me. (I do live the in real world maybe that’s the problem!) Would I go back and cruise again – you bet we will be cruising again and having a balcony room is the way to go.

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Last updated: September 1, 2008

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