Year Started: 1969
Ships in Fleet: 22
Summary: The largest and most technically impressive cruise ships in the world. Great for kids, families and adventurous adults. A large fleet, but Oasis and Brilliance are often cited as favorites
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Seniors.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Caribbean, Canada, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Bahamas, Southern Caribbean
Good for: Families. Children`s Programs. Seniors.
Regions:Bermuda, Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Bermuda, Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Eastern Caribbean
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Southern Caribbean
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Western Mediterranean, Panama Canal
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Eastbound Transatlantic
Good for: Families. Value for Money. Teens.
Good for: Teens. Group. Families.
Regions:Singapore, Malaysia, Phuket & Port Kelang,
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Eastern Mediterranean, Caribbean, Eastbound Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Teens. Seniors.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Hawaii, Tasmania
Good for: Children`s Programs. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Hawaii, Alaska, South Pacific
Good for: Group. Families. Children`s Programs.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Suez Canal, Bahamas, Dubai
Good for: Children`s Programs. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Brazil, Western Mediterranean, Greek Isles
Good for: Seniors. Families. Singles.
Regions:Norwegian Fjords, British Isles, Scan Russia, Southern Caribbean
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:Toyko To Taipei, Australia, Asia
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
As promised here are our impressions of our very first Royal Caribbean Cruise aboard the Freedom Of The Seas 11-16-2008 to 11-23-2008 Eastern Caribbean.
Embarkation as well as debarkation at the port of Miami were by far the fastest we have ever experienced and frankly, we were left stunned by the speed and efficiency. It was explained that Royal has begun to debark all passengers who have U.S. citizenship papers from the bow (front) of the ship and any foreigners debark from the aft (rear). The ship had approximately 4,000 guests on our voyage. 1500 were U.S. citizens the remaining 2500 were international passengers. This resulted in zero waiting time for us. We literally walked off the ship, gathered our bags as they arrived and walked out to the street showing our ID along the way. Maybe we were lucky -- but it was unbelievably fast!
It should be noted that we had always sailed on Carnival prior to this cruise. We always were quite satisfied on our Carnival cruises. Our friends Rob and Liz asked us to let them know when we returned, if Royal Caribbean was worth the extra $200per passenger. Our first words to them upon returning were "Book your next cruise on Freedom Of The Seas."
What a magnificent ship. Freedom Of The Seas is truly something to behold. Everywhere you look the detail of design is evident and the entire ship provides a feast for the eyes. It is a stunningly beautiful vessel and I can't help but implore anyone who enjoys cruising to experience this ship. We would sit at Boleros in the afternoon, enjoying a lovely mango mojito (Mike's favorite drink onboard) and admire all of the details that went into the décor all around us. There is no comparison between FOS and anything Carnival has when it comes to décor, nothing at all.
(Boleros was also the spot where each night our 18 month old grandson Henry would be dancing it up with all the pretty girls onboard!)
Food This was probably where Royal and Carnival share the closest comparisons. Most dishes onboard were quite good but some were rather poor. The steak served on the last night of the cruise was horrid. It was tough and flavorless which was probably why they served it covered in some type of sauce. On the other hand, many dishes were very delicious like the Chilean sea bass -- wow! That was excellent. For those caught up in the controversy, lobster was indeed served in the main dining room. Almost every dessert was exceptional.
Sorrento's was always a culinary delight and we will miss Michelle and Reyna. They were just wonderful people who always found time to chat with us and make our experience there so very special.
We came away very pleased with the quality of the food overall.
Portofino: The service was exceptional. The food however, was average to below average.
Mikes dish "Saltimbocca" was pretty good and tasty, and well prepared. Suzanne ordered the Spiedino Di Mare.
The presentation was stunning but that's where it ended. In Suz's words, "The lobster was salty and bland, the scallops were a tasteless glob of nothing, the shrimp were average and the salmon was fishy."
Once again, the desserts were astonishing, but the lack of quality regarding the entrées left us unimpressed.
Cabin The cabins were a bit small but once we got used to our quarters, we were comfortable. The bed was the BEST!
The shower was wonderful. Our cabin steward "Hilton" was always friendly and did a magnificent job. We always looked forward to seeing him each morning. He got an additional tip! We had 2 items in our cabin that required maintenance. Our TV would go on by itself 2 minutes after we shut it off. One phone call and minutes later there was a knock at the door and the problem was diagnosed and fixed. The only other problem was a flickering wall lamp. One call and moments later, maintenance was there to fix it. Lovely!
Entertainment The entertainment onboard was spectacular -- far better than anything we have witnessed on Carnival.
The quality of the production shows truly showed the dedication and talent of the staff involved.
And then there is Richard Spacey. This man made every cruise director we've ever had before him utterly forgettable. I certainly hope that Royal Caribbean appreciates what they have in Richard Spacey. He can make a doorknob seem exciting!
The Quest: This was everything and more that we'd been led to believe it would be. We laughed until it hurt. Once again, I have to wonder if it would have been half as good with anyone other than Richard Spacey running the show.
Freedom Ice.com: This was spectacular -- dazzling -- inspirational and, at times so nostalgic that I was choked up and my eyes began to well (the whole 60's segment really brought back some beautiful memories).
Conclusion All in all my good friends, our first Royal Caribbean cruise began a new era for us, and closed an era for Carnival. You've been just great Carnival, but it's time to move on! As I said in another online post, Royal Caribbean provides a degree of elegance that doesn't exist within the Carnival experience. We are now of the age where we can appreciate that difference. Our cruise on Freedom Of The Seas was easily our very best cruise experience to date. We hardily recommend this beautiful ship to everyone.
This was the 8th cruise on RCI for me, and my 3rd cruise on the Majesty of the Seas. This cruise was scheduled for 4-nights in the Bahamas embarking from Miami, FL, with stops in Nassau, Coco Cay, and Key West. I was part of a travel agent group for this cruise, and thus my wife was not along for the cruise. My wife and I cruised together on the Adventure of the Seas to the Southern Caribbean about 5 weeks ago.
Embarkation I flew in to Miami on Monday morning and caught a taxi for $24 to the pier. I did the online check-in and once again made my check-in time with the clerk only about 2 minutes. I arrived about 12:45pm and was through security, through the line and onboard by 1pm. A very easy embarkation, my cabin was ready when I walked on the ship.
Ship My 3rd cruise on the Majesty OTS (2nd since she was dry docked and had a $40 million refurbishment) and she was just as beautiful as ever! The Majesty OTS was built in the early 1990's, but received the massive makeover inFebruary 2007. The public areas were clean and spotless. The crew keeps the ship clean, polished and up to date. Because I was part of a travel agent group on this cruise, we were treated to some special tours of the ship's bridge, the ship's galley and the crew's quarters. All these tours were very eye opening and spectacular!
Cabin I was booked into a Category I, oceanview cabin on deck 8. I was in the very forward part of the deck in cabin 8002. My actual oceanview was pretty limited by the lifeboat right above the window, but the cabin itself was very nice. The cabin has the flat screen TV mounted high up on the wall, the upgraded bedding, decent closet space and a small desk/vanity.
Staff Of course the highlight of any RCI cruise is the service. Every crewmember had a smile and a greeting for me morning, noon and night. My stateroom attendant did spectacular, kept the cabin spotless and handled my simple requests with ease. The dining room staff were the true stars of our cruise experience. Our entire wait staff performed superbly. They were very efficient, did their jobs well and I enjoyed the dining room experience every night. Everywhere we went the service from the RCI crew was great.
Ports of Call I have been to all these ports multiple times, so there were no surprises here for me. Our first stop was Nassau, Bahamas. I took an excursion called "Forts and Pirates". The name turned out to be a little misleading. It turned out the excursion was really a bus tour of Nassau itself. We did stop by two forts, saw the Queen's staircase and ended the tour at the Nassau Pirate museum. The second stop was the RCI private island of Coco Cay. I spent the entire time, about 5-1/2 hours, on a hammock in a secluded spot on the island. I alternated between napping and reading! The third stop was Key West. I just wandered around Duval Street all day, in and out of the shops, bars and museums.
Dining The upward trend in food quality from RCI was evident on this cruise as well. I really enjoyed the dining room menu and selections. There seemed to be a nice variety of menu choices every evening. I usually ate breakfast in the Windjammer, which seems to be limiting the time the food is spent out and under the warmers, which makes it much better to eat. I also ate in the Johnny Rocket's venue, very good burgers and shakes! I also ate at the Compass Deli, which I had never eaten at before and I really enjoyed the selection of sandwiches and soups. Also, the Sorrento's pizza was really good too. The Johnny Rocket's, Compass Deli, and Sorrento's Pizza are all one deck up from the Windjammer at the forward end of the ship. Windjammer is on deck 11, and the others just above it on deck 12.
Entertainment Our entertainment was good. I only saw one production show and saw the same comedian twice. I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise director, Ricky, and his staff. I am proud to say that yours truly was part of the gold medal winning team at "The Quest"!
Disembarkation As usual, the disebarkation process was simple and quick. I placed my luggage with the colored tags outside my cabin, and I was out of my cabin by 7:30am the next morning. I ate breakfast and during my meal my luggage tag color was called. After I finished, I simply walked off the ship, with no line at all to get off, went to the luggage claim area and collected my luggage, got in a taxi and it was off to the airport I went!
Overall Evaluation I would definitely give this cruise an 8 out of a 10. I had a very relaxing cruise, and my only complaint was the cruise was only 4 nights -- way too short! I really love the Majesty of the Seas. She may not have all the activities and amenities of Royal Caribbean's other big ships, but she makes for a nice relaxing cruise ship for those looking for a nice getaway to the Bahamas.
There were 5 of us on this cruise, myself, my wife and 18 year old daughter, plus my in-laws. This was our 5 cruise and third Trans-Atlantic cruise.
We had an outside stateroom on deck 2 mid ship and my in-laws had a balcony stateroom on deck 6.
Traveling and Embarkation We travelled from Edinburgh to Barcelona via London City airport. It was a very early start with a 6:30 flight out of Edinburgh, but we all seemed to get up with spring in out step as it was holiday time.
We arrived in Barcelona at 12:30 and were met just outside baggage collection by the RCI rep, who pointed us in the right direction of porters; this was the last we saw our luggage until we were on the ship.
There was a short 20 min bus ride to the port where we were sped through the check in process. Having now attained Platinum status we were very lucky to join a very short queue and within 30-40 mins we were on the ship. After getting slightly lost, we found our stateroom which was still in the process of getting ready.Sammy our stateroom attendant met us, what a nice guy.
Nothing was a problem for him, and he always seemed to be smiling as we met him coming and going.
The Ship and Crew Having been on both the Mariner and Explorer; we all had a basic idea of the layout so it didn't take us long to figure out where everything was.
We knew that the Windjammer was going to be busy so we headed for the Promenade Café on deck 5 for a few snacks.
The ship itself is still looking like it just came out of the dock.
Everywhere we looked someone was polishing or cleaning something.
We can't praise the staff and crew highly enough, everyone we passed in the corridors had a smile or a nod to acknowledge we were there.
I'll give a special mention to our Waiter, Judith and her assistant (who for the life of me I can't remember his name), plus Ray our Head Waiter, honestly the best Head Waiter we've ever had. Normally in the past we've found they only show face, smile and move on, but this guy took the time to speak to all of us. We would regularly meet him in the Windjammer always taking the time to chat.
I'll also mention the bartenders we got friendly with. Richard in the Theatre, who only after the second night knew what we were all drinking. One more was in Vintages (and I'm truly sorry I never got his name). Again he knew what I was drinking and before my bum was on the seat he was over handing me my drink, now that's service.
At this point I'll mention our Cruise Director and his staff, Kieron Buffrey was for me just about right. Not in your face and subtle, which I don't think went down well with our American friends.
Once again thanks to the CD staff who after my wife wrote to Kieron arranged for my daughter to do a backstage tour as she is studying stage management and lighting in the theatre at collage.
He had a great partner in Cuddy who managed to bounce off Kieron just nicely. I hope he makes a CD in the future.
For me the only cloud on the silver lining was Captain Bang, for us he was as dully as dish water. His daily announcements were tedious, all we seemed to hear was his name then it became garbled with long periods of silence. I'm sure in person he's a very interesting person but on the stage of pubic speaking a small improvement is needed.
Ports We didn't have many ports of call on this cruise, which is one of the reasons we chose it.
The first up was Cartagena in Spain. The ship had never been docked here before so it was a bit of an adventure for guests and crew alike.
We did manage to get on an open top bus trip for €13 each, taking about an hour for the tour. Very nice and condensed city full of naval history. After the tour we took a stroll up to the shops.
After 2 days at sea we arrived at the port of Ponta Delgada in the Azores, where we had 16 hours to kill. We've never organised a tour via the ship as we can normally find something to do. With this port we really struggled.
The tourist information desk should be done under the trade descriptions as they weren't helpful at all, telling us most of the buses were off or broken. So we had to fend for ourselves. The town itself is very compact and we managed to wander through the small streets taking in all the sites and sounds.
After returning to the ship for some lunch and a change we went back off the ship and struck lucky. It seemed we were there on the day all the Christmas lights were being switched on. It was truly a magical place, full of marching bands, Santa and kids playing.
Our last stop came after 6 days at sea and we arrived in the port of Nassau in the Bahamas.
After a small delay waiting for another ship to dock we got off and headed for the hotel Atlantis. Having been to Nassau in the past we knew where to go and how to get there so no time was wasted.
We wandered around the hotel checking out the aquarium and casino, then headed back to the main town for a drink at the local Hard Rock Café. It was then back to the ship and to prepare for the big offload at Fort Lauderdale the next morning.
Sea Days As I've said before we chose this cruise because of the amount to days at sea, which for us is the must relaxing time you can have. In total out of the 12 days 8 of them were spent at sea. The only down side to this was the weather wasn't the most favourable, it was warm but for the most part overcast. To say the sea was lumpy would be a small understatement, for at least 2 days it was pretty rough, so much so when we looked out our stateroom window it wasn't unusual to see the sea hitting it. We did spend this time doing all the stuff around the ship -- playing golf and roller blading and ice skating etc. The rough waters didn't stop us from having a great time; sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth. We were just lucky on all the port days the sun was shinning.
Entertainment This was a real mixed bag for us. We thought the RCI dancers do a good job working under the conditions they do. However some of the star turns were a bit poor. Darren Day was really bad and never seemed to connect with the audience. Brenda Cochran tried very hard and has some real talent but I don't think the theatre was big enough for her voice. The real star turn was Mr Nobody (Yacov Noy). His three legged man was just classic.
We did manage to see 3 showings of the Ice Dancing and we all still watch with open mouths how these people do the things they do. With leaps, jumps and back flips it's all very cool. We just managed to stand up on the ice when the ship was moving all over the place, so how they do it is beyond me.
Food I can't really do a review without mentioning the food. Overall it was really good. The choice within the Windjammer is amazing, if you can't find something you like you must be a very picky eater. Some things could have been hotter. I do feel like people behave extremely badly and can be very rude within the Windjammer. Pushing in when queues have been formed, loading plates up like all the food is going to run out. I've always subscribed to the theory that you can go up as many times as you'd like, don't waste good food.
We ate every night in the main restaurant, and there wasn't a night gone by that I couldn't find something to eat. The steak was always done the way I like it. I never walked away thinking hmmmm I need more to eat. In fact most nights I thought that was a lovely meal, and I don't have to do the dishes.
Disembarkation We were very lucky that we managed to be one of the last ones off the ship, and also being Platinum members we had access to our own waiting area, which was in the restaurant on deck 4. This made for a more pleasant experience than sitting in the theatre. By the time we got off the ship there were only a few cases left in the hall so we could spot our luggage without any problem. Clearing immigration was only a problem as some people seemed to think it was a good idea to fill in their green cards when they arrived at the immigration officer. On the whole we were on our way to the airport within an hour after getting off the ship.
Overall In conclusion this was a very enjoyable cruise, well worth the money we spent. Will we be doing another cruise? You'd better believe it. Will we choose Royal Caribbean? Most definately yes, they tick all the right boxes for me.
If you are already booked on a RCI cruise, or if you are an ardent fan of RCI, you may not want to read this review. If you do and disagree or think it will spoil something, I have warned you.
It is long.
First cruise on RCI, 20 something total cruises.
I will not talk about the ports visited, only the ship. It is a cruise review, not a port review.
Sat. Oct. 11, 2008. Jewel Of The Seas, Boston to Canada.
Parked in Port Of Boston parking garage. Sign said $27.00 per DAY. However upon leaving the garage, the fee was $15 a day. Whew.
11:30 arrived at check-in. No wait, took 10 minutes only because the woman who checked us in was training a new person. Thru security and on board by 11:45. Rooms not ready until 1pm, so off to the Windjammer for lunch. Food OK, quality comparable to that of a buffet at a medium priced Las Vegas hotel.
1pm, to the room. The cabin steward was still working on his section of cabins, and ours had not been vacuumed yet. I know this because of the toenail clippingsleft on the floor. This seemed really unusual when Reuben, the cabin steward, told me that the cabin was vacant on the previous cruise. If they don't use it, they don't clean it? Strange.
After dropping off the carry-on luggage, time to explore the ship. Long level corridors in the cabin areas unlike the cruise ships of the past when the corridors had a noticeable sway to them.
The cabin was the generic cabin of today, with a nice window. The bed turned out to be so-so as to comfort, and was two twins pushed together to make a queen.
The ship is a handsome vessel and its fairly easy to navigate about it. Muster drill went off fairly quickly, and it appeared that the people who are always real late for these things or don't think they have to participate, were not on this cruise.
Dining Well, we tried the 'My Time Dining', and can say we tried it and didn't care for it. Turns out you can only make your reservation for dinner between 9-10am, and 4-5 pm. And nowhere did I see anything about how to make that reservation, so it was a phone call to the operator to get a number to call, and after a bit of a wait, she found the number. Then of course, if you don't have dinner close to the traditional early or late seating, you will not see the scheduled evening show. Very few people were doing the MTD deal as it was were using only a small portion of the upstairs of the dining room.
The wait staff was inconsistent in their service, and the first night's dining experience was underwhelming to say the least. Took forever to get anyone to stop by after being seated, and then it was the headwaiter who came and filled the water glasses. Waiter and assistant waiter were friendly, but sloooow. Different set last three meals and they had a terrible time the last night with the orders at our table for six with two meals totally messed up.
Breakfast was taken in the Windjammer. Same items everyday, but enough selection to be interesting. Tend to eat the same thing for breakfast anyway, so it was OK. actually the best meal of most days.
Lunch also taken in the Windjammer. Different cut of meat at the carving station each day, but most of the rest of the selections seemed to repeat day after day. Second best food of most days. Like I said, comparable to a mid-priced Vegas joint. Deserts a big letdown with an equal number of sugar-free and the kind I like (with sugar and calories), but not much taste (I know the Europeans have a different concept as to sweet than us Americans). Fruit also at the desert station.
Tried the Seaview Café for the fish & chips (two small pieces of fish, fries) OK but once was enough.
Dinner in the dining room was a huge disappointment. A step up from fine dining at Denny's, but I won't go much better than that. A basic three course offering, starter, main course, and dessert. The starter selection made no separation between an appetizer and a salad so it appeared most chose one or the other. Five choices for main course, one of which was a steak (the default entree) of strange flavor.
I have been on 20+ cruises and this is the first time that I have left the dining room hungry. Actually skipped the main course one night because I didn't like what I ordered at all, didn't see anything else I wanted, and could not face another of the steaks. I know times have changed, but from a meal of appetizer/soup, salad, (perhaps sherbet to prepare the palate) meat/fish, cheese, dessert, coffee/expresso/capachino, and mint/truffle to Applebee's on a tablecloth. Come on people.
Thursday sea day dinner was the best meal we had in the dining room, lobster & prime rib main course selections (took lobster as appetizer, prime rib as main). Not gourmet by any stretch but good.
Spent the extra twenty pp on Portifinos and was treated to excellent service and a fine meal. Impressed my bride and me the most of anything else on the ship. Just like the service you used to get in the dining room in days past. One tacky thing was the extra charge for the espresso and other dessert coffees (Seattle's Best), please don't ruin such a nice experience with ol' Mr. Greed.
Entertainment Didn't care for the cruise director at all, but again she was not our cup-of-tea as the Brits say. The cruise directors staff seemed to be really disorganized, late, and generally a mess, never seemed to really get it together. Not a whole lot to do as for activities, especially on the sea days, unless you were into spa stuff, or physical activities with the fit n' trim staff. (fee for spa/fitness) Oh, the odd trivia, bingo, art/jewelry sales and such, but this is the first time we were bored. Very small tacky prizes form trivia and game winners. So it was a lot of time at the bar. Very friendly bar/wait people at the Schooner bar. When they know your name after day 2, you are drinking way too much.
Movies in the theater are somewhat old. If you want first run flicks, they are available on pay-per-view TV. Don't want to miss out on revenue, now do we.
Saw a magician/dancer dude, a production show with the ships dancers/singers. Forgettable. Saw a comedian who was a funny guy. Missed the Tango dancers. Gymnast was good. The usual singers, who are from Poland and sing phonetically, not really understanding the song. Most of them fair. Same for the dance quartet, who were really a trio because the drummer missed the ship. Pianist/guitarist, miscellaneous music maker pleasant in the background throughout the public spaces.
Thirty-one dollars to play four games of bingo on Thursday. It was more the last game, I didn't go.
Of the activities listed in the daily to-do-list, several were a pay-per-do event (spa), and a lot were an outside physical-activity activity, and a few were telling us that so-and-so venues were not available for us common passengers to use. Sometimes I was bored, so the choice was nap or drink. Big bar bill.
Photos Boy do they take a lot of photographs of you. Leaving the ship in St. John, there were three photographers on the gangway/exit walkway, all within 50 feet of each other, all with different props, all clamoring to take our picture leaving the ship. Take my picture, break your camera. Better half actually bought several of the photos and they are pretty good.
Ever notice on a cruise ship that there are people whom you never see until the last day no matter how few passengers on a ship, then there are those who you see all the time no matter how many on board. Everyday, everywhere. Sandy and Gerry were those people for us. Saw them all the time.
Tendered into port one day, went off without a hitch.
I was amazed at how many people did not dress for formal nights. Amazed. Kudos for the crew when they stopped people from entering the area where the Captains reception was occurring who were not appropriately dressed.
Also was amazed at the amount of people who ate at the buffet every meal, never set foot in the dining room. Pardon me, but why cruise?
Peeve If you want to sell me a bottle of booze while I am on your ship, let me take it back to my cabin, and not 'hold it for me' until the last night of the cruise. Ah, can't let any opportunity to make a dime off of the passenger now can we.
One thing of note: If you are a soda drinker and don't want diet, say regular Coke, etc., cause if you don't, the default is diet. Same with beer, lite unless you speak up. Guess they think we are too fat. Well they are right, but I'm on vacation.
Went to the Meet & Mingle, met and mingled, won a nice prize in the drawing. Met some terrific folks there and got together several times during the cruise.
Gambling Tight slots. Blackjack gave me some. Saw someone selling pull-tab lottery tickets outside the showroom entrance, thought that was tacky. Then of course heard that someone won a grand from a pull-tab, so...
Tuesday sea day was dead calm waters and fog so thick I hoped the navigator had a knife to cut it with. Thursday sea day was windy and 6-8 foot swells. Ship rolled quite a bit.
Not too much brasswork on the ship, mostly stainless steel. Low maintenance, but not the same. The crew kept the ship very clean.
Fifty cents per minute internet access fee. 30 bucks per hour. Ouch.
Highs and Lows The ship was nice and the crew did their job very well. Chef not so much.
Took no ship's excursions.
The smoking areas on the ship were very smoky. How about NO SMOKING throughout the ship.
Disembarked using the express method. You carry all your bags and stuff off yourself and thus get to get off first. They said between 7 and 7:15 for express folks, actually was about 7:40 (glad for Indian summer because we waited outside), but then bam, and we were lurching down the sidewalk to the car.
Overall, 2 1/2 stars out of five. Will we return to RCI? Probably not, but I won't say don't go, only chose wisely. With the exception of the dining, not too much seriously awful, just to me there is that little something missing.
I know that many people who were on this cruise will have a totally different perspective of this adventure, this is mine.
My wife and I sailed on Adventure of the Seas on the 10/05/2008 sailing. In a word, it was great.
Pre-Cruise We flew into San Juan on Friday, 10/03. It was a direct flight from Hartford, and, believe it or not, was only 60% full! We had plenty of room to stretch out. We arrived at a little after 1:00 PM, and took a cab to the Marriott Stelaris on Ashford Street. It is an absolutely gorgeous property. We had a corner room on the 19th floor.
We looked around the immediate neighborhood after we settled in, and had dinner at Tuscany, one of the restaurants in the hotel. Wonderful, but not inexpensive.
Saturday we took a free bus to Old San Juan and wandered around. In retrospect we should have waited until later in the day or evening, as it was very warm and humid. We had lunch and went back to the hotel. We went to church, came back and had some gelato -- there is a small store right up the block from the hotel -- and settled in to watch the ocean from the balcony for therest of the evening. Sort of practice for the cruise.
Embarkation We left the hotel and arrived at the ship at approximately 11:15 AM. We were somewhat surprised that there were no porters waiting for the cabs in order to help with luggage. So we started to drag ours through a line to where they were which took about 10 minutes. We are used to Fort Lauderdale where the porters will take the luggage from right next to the cab. No big deal, just different.
We were in line waiting when an RCI employee noticed that we had a junior suite. She immediately escorted us to the front of the line where we went through security and then immediately to the desk where we were given our Sea Passes. This is a great perk as the line was long and it was already hot.
So off we go, up escalators and ramps and finally at the ship itself where once again, we go through security. Once again, everything through the scanners. Again, no big deal, but having gone through once already, this was unexpected.
We then went to our cabin, 9264, starboard side, and dumped our carry-ons and put valuables in the safe. This was around 11:50. While they say the rooms won't be ready until 2:00 PM, ours was. We met the steward and he said it was OK to leave our stuff. Then off to the Windjammer for a bite and then walk the ship for familiarization.
Cabin As I mentioned, we had a junior suite, and compared to other cabins we have had, it was really large. There was a walk-in closet with floor to ceiling shelves and a long clothes rack with plenty of hangers. The bathroom had counter space as well as a cabinet on either side of the mirror for storage. There was also a shelf underneath the counter. It had a bathtub/shower which provided plenty of room. For once I didn't wash the sides of the shower enclosure while showering!
There was a queen size bed, a sleeper sofa, 2 chairs and a small glass topped table. There was also a large mirror with cabinets on either side, and plenty of drawers and other cabinets as well. There was so much storage space that my wife, who packs quite a bit, didn't need all of it.
The balcony was large, with 2 chairs, a chaise and a small table. We are now spoiled for life, and will be sad if we go back to regular balcony cabins.
Our steward was excellent, making different towel animals every night, keeping the cabin spotless, and always attending to it early. We gave him an additional tip in addition to the normal suggested amount which we opted to put on our Sea Pass account.
The Ship The last time we sailed RCCL was in 1999 aboard Monarch of the Seas. It was our first cruise. We thought Monarch was huge when we first saw it. At somewhat over 1,000 feet in length, AOS dwarfs it in comparison.
There is the usual Windjammer in the aft of the pool deck, with the main pool in front of that. This is separated from the Solarium, or adult pool, by bathroom facilities, and back to back bars. The Solarium has 2 jacuzzi's and a small pool. In front of it are the forward elevator bank, and then the spa. We spent all of our pool time in the Solarium area. The only drawback to this was that you could not hear the band as it was near the main pool. Still, it was really nice.
The Promenade, with all the shops and small bars and restaurants is a sight to see. We ate lunch a couple of times at the coffee place (can't recall the name) when we had returned to the ship and it was peak time in the Windjammer. Rather than wandering looking for a table, it was just easier to go there, have a couple of slices of pretty decent pizza, and some pastries, and finally a coffee. In fact, this is where I would go each morning to get the free coffee from the dispensers, and it wasn't all that bad. Not Dunkin' Donuts to be sure, but acceptable. I did this rather than room service, because we are early (6:00 AM) risers, and room service doesn't start usually until 7-ish.
The casino is pretty large, and we made sure to donate our usual few dollars. The theater is also large and has pretty good sight lines. It was interesting that even though the theater has 2 levels, one on deck 3 and the other on deck 4, we never saw anyone in the upper (deck 4) level seats. I have no idea why.
The ship is easy to navigate around as all but a couple of decks have pass through companion ways. This is unlike the Caribbean Princess which we were on last year and had a difficult time getting from fore to aft. I do not like that ship's layout at all.
There are 3 dining rooms in the aft of the ship named Mozart, Strauss, and Vivaldi. All nicely done.
Food It was OK. Some things were excellent, while others were just OK. One thing we did notice was that the menus were not sectioned with Appetizer, Salad, Soup, Entrée, and Dessert. Rather, the left hand page held choices for appetizer, salad and soup, while the right hand page was for entrees. We were never asked what we wished for each course. While I know we could have had all courses, we ordered an appetizer and then the entrée, followed by dessert. Perhaps someone can shed some light on how long this has been going on with RCCL, because it was not that way last year on Princess.
Our waiter, Cyrus, and his assistant were excellent. Cyrus does look like Buddy Holly though. Doesn't know the words to Peggy Sue though.
The one shining moment food wise was Portofino's. We were both absolutely amazed at the presentation, service and quality of food there. We each had the filet, and it was easily one of the best we have ever had. I can't recommend this strongly enough to anyone who wants quality dining. Granted, it's extra, but worth every penny.
One night we skipped the main dining room and went to the Windjammer instead. It was a buffet, and the food was good. They also had a guitarist playing during the time we were there. It was actually a pleasant break from the normal formal dining room routine, and we enjoyed it.
Entertainment If you can at all help it, do not miss the Ice Show. Those performers, doing what they did on an abbreviated ice surface, with the ship moving, are not to be believed. The house was packed and with good reason.
We also really enjoyed both production shows. We thought the dancers were excellent, and the singers good as well. Granted, it's not Broadway, but then what else is? These kids worked their butts off for 45 minutes, and it was good. We did miss the Motown group and heard they had them dancing in the aisles.
Ports Aruba: It rained, and there is nowhere you can buy an umbrella. Took a bus to check out the Marriott Ocean Club (stunning). Bought the magnet and t-shirt, got the DI charm bracelet for the grand daughter and went back to the ship. Next time we will explore more.
Curacao: It didn't rain; walked to the shopping area, got the magnet and t-shirt, took a couple of photos, then headed back to the ship. FYI -- internet access was $1.50 per 30 minutes, which is a great rate.
St. Maartin: Picked up the freebies for the grandkids, a ring for our daughter (and one for my wife as well), and went back to the ship. This was our 4th time there.
St. Thomas: Just went to Havensight where we got another DI charm for our granddaughter, then back to the ship. It rained late morning.
Sea Days We spent our time in the Solarium alternating between the lounge chairs, the pool and the jacuzzi's. We met 2 other couples from Connecticut in the pool at the same time we were. What are the odds?
Miscellaneous I want to give a plug for AOS Guest Services here. In particular Vanessa Rodriguez. When we booked the cruise it was with a $300 on board credit. When we checked our account the Monday after we sailed, it wasn't there. After emails and phone calls to out TA, it appeared that the credit was somewhere in Royal Caribbean's system. Vanessa took ownership of the issue and got it resolved the Wednesday after sailing. We were so grateful for this as we had factored that in our budget. I hand wrote a note to her manager describing what she had done and expressing our thanks. She is good people.
Disembarkation It was the usual thing. We went to the theater to wait for our number to be called. We were in group 3. Well, it was never called until the announcer said that they were disembarking groups 1, 2, 3 and G. No big deal, but that meant that a whole bunch more people now had to climb up the stairway to deck 4 at once. Still, from the time of the announcement until we were looking for the luggage wasn't more than 20 minutes.
We got a porter who helped find our bags, got us through Customs, and got us a cab. This is really the only way to do it. I tipped him well, and we were on our way back to the Marriott.
Post-Cruise This time we had a regular ocean front room on the 18th floor. Since it was very near the corner of the hotel where our other room had been, we had a great view of the ocean as well as Old San Juan.
Our plan was to use the pool Sunday afternoon, but the intermittent rain showers prevented that. So my wife enjoyed the balcony and I watched some football. We had an early dinner, and hit the sack fairly early.
We left San Juan at 8:30 that morning and arrived in Connecticut around 3:15 that afternoon. Walked in the house around 4:30.
Conclusion It was a great cruise, and we had concluded that we are "big ship" people. The staff on board was wonderful, and we will definitely sail RCCL again. Our dream cruise however is a 10-11 day Med cruise, and we are eyeing Celebrity's Solstice, but a lot has to come together to make that happen.
In the meantime, I would heartily recommend AOS to anyone.
On 4 October we leave from Barcelona for a cruise around the Italian cities. We (my husband and I) live in Holland and are 52 and 60, but younger looking and interesting people.
For those who have made this cruise already, can you tell us a little more about it?
This was the 7th cruise RCI for my wife and I. This cruise was scheduled for 7-nights in the Southern Caribbean embarking from San Juan Puerto Rico, with stops in Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten and St. Thomas.
Pre-Cruise We arrived in San Juan on Friday. Our flight from Chicago was on time and we arrived in the afternoon. We booked 2 nights at the San Juan Intercontinental Resort and Casino. We had a great room; the hotel is situated right on the beach and has one of the most beautiful pool areas I have ever seen. The staff and service were great, comfy bed and a very clean room. The only downfall of the Intercontinental is the food prices at the restaurants; the cheapest beach grill item was a $12 hotdog! However, there were many dining alternatives right across the street, including a steak house, 2 delis, a bakery, and a Puerto Rican diner. On Saturday, we toured Old San Juan and saw the El Morrow fort and the old city wall. Also we visited the burial site of Ponce de Leon. Sunday we slept in and left forthe ship around noon.
Embarkation This was easiest embarkation we ever had! From the time we walked out of the hotel room, checked out, got a taxi and drove to the port, checked in our baggage, went through security, entered the check-in line for Platinum members, checked in and was walking on the ship was a total time of……35 minutes! We did the online check-in and once again made our check-in time with the clerk only about 2 minutes. Just FYI, the Adventure of the Seas docks at the newer Pan American Pier for embarkation and debarkation, not the cruise docks in Old San Juan. A lot of reviews will tell you to stay at the Sheraton Old San Juan and the ship will dock right across the street, this is no longer the case.
The Ship We were blown away by the size and beauty of this ship! This is our 2nd cruise on a Voyager class ship, but for some reason, this ship seemed so much larger and more elegant. The Royal Promenade and the other public areas almost seemed to sparkle. The ship has 2 pools on deck 11, the main pool and an adult solarium. The sports deck has a basketball court, climbing wall, mini-golf course, roller blade track and a golf simulator. Being a Voyager class ship, the Adventure has an ice rink. The Viking Crown lounge is split into a couple of different areas, including a 19th hole lounge and the Blue Moon lounge. The children's area in the back of deck 12 has a small water slide and nice play area. I really couldn't find any flaws with the public areas, the crew was constantly cleaning and polishing and we had a full ship with never had a crowd anywhere.
The Cabin We booked an E2 balcony cabin, but received an upgrade to a D1 balcony about a week before we left. Our cabin was on deck 6, starboard side and forward. We felt the gentle rolling of the seas and slept great on this cruise. The balcony was more than adequate and we really enjoyed the view. No different than any other D1 balcony, decent room to move around, a nice couch area, no flat screen TVs yet, and the standard RCI stand-up shower and bathroom.
The Staff Of course the highlight of any RCI cruise is the service. Every crewmember had a smile and a greeting for me morning, noon and night. Our stateroom attendant did spectacular, kept the cabin spotless and handled our simple request with ease. One change is RCI will only fill the ice bucket in the evening now, no longer in the morning unless the guest requests it. Our dining room staff was the true stars of our cruise experience. Our entire wait staff performed superbly. They were so nice, we enjoyed talking to them every night. Everywhere we went the service from the RCI crew was great.
Ports of Call After a day at sea to start, our 1st stop was Barbados. We bought an excursion taking a catamaran ride and swimming with sea turtles. This was really fun, and our tour guides did a great job as well. Our 2nd stop was St. Lucia, we had some morning rain showers here and not the best weather. We had a complimentary day pass to the Sandals Regency Resort for the day, and spent the entire day in the Sandals pool. Our 3rd stop was Antigua, we also had a complimentary day pass to the Sandals Grande Resort and with much better weather, we spent this day tanning and swimming in the resort pool. Our 4th stop was St. Maarten. We booked an island tour that showed us both the Dutch side and the French side of the island. The tour took about 3 hours and we saw both the good and the bad of both sides. We had a particularly good tour guide on this tour; we spent some time in Marigot, the French side capitol and did some shopping. Out last stop was St. Thomas, USVI. Here we took a ferry tour over to St. John and did some snorkeling at Trunk Bay and took the underwater snorkeling trail. My only complaint was our tour guide who tried to be both a comedian (he wasn't funny) and a political persuader to the visiting US tourist for his favorite Presidential candidate. I, and many around me, didn't care for this and we reflected this in his tip. We don't go on vacation to get a live political commercial; we get enough of that at home. The island of St. John is a must see, 2/3 of the island is a national forest reserve, and Trunk Bay is a national underwater marine reserve. This was the most beautiful Caribbean island I have ever seen!
Dining I was pleasantly surprised at the increased quality of food on this RCI ship. We had noticed a downward trend in our previous cruises, but I noticed they made an effort to make better food in the Windjammer and kept rotating the food so it didn't sit under the warmers for long. The lack of variety is still in the Windjammer, but the quality is better. The dining room showed markedly increased quality. The menus are now hard backed, no more flimsy cardboard menus. We had many different entrees to choose from, and we could order as much as we wanted, including the lobster. The real highlight of the cruise was the Portifinos dining experience on our last night onboard. We have never had a better dining experience, and since this was our 5th wedding anniversary, the staff made our experience very special and something to remember forever. Also, let me say we once again lucked out and had great dining tablemates this cruise. We ate with a couple from the Atlanta area that was retired high school educators. What a pleasant and interesting couple to share a table with every night. Between our tablemates, the better quality food and the wait staff, this was our best dining cruise yet!
Entertainment Our entertainment was really a mixed bag on this cruise. We had 2 outstanding entertainment experiences, 1st was the ice show we saw on Tuesday evening. It is called "Hot Art, Cool Ice". It was an art expression themed show, it was spectacular and well worth going to see. The 2nd great entertainment we had was the BeatleMania Live show. The actual BeatleMania Live band from Las Vegas was doing a short tour of RCI ships and performed a shortened BeatleMania show for the ship. A really great concert that had us literally dancing in the aisles! The comedians weren't really funny, the same old cruise jokes about the sucking toilets, small showers and tiny cabins, and we have heard these same jokes on every cruise. We did enjoy the El Goucho from Uruguay, and the juggler. The Cruise Director, Mike, was really funny and did some great magic tricks and was very entertaining throughout the cruise. The cruise had the same Quest and Love & Marriage shows. They did do a new show called the "Cruise Family Feud", which is modeled after the TV game show and was unique and very funny.
Disembarkation We used the luggage valet for out debarking. We paid the $20 each, got our boarding passes for the return flight along with our airline luggage tags on Saturday night. We placed both the cruise line and airline luggage tags on our bags, and placed them outside the cabin by midnight. We were out of the room by 8am on Sunday, had breakfast and relaxed in the Platinum & Diamond special departure lounge until our group was called. We were off the ship in about 10 minutes, claimed our bags and walked them a few feet to the airline representative in the pier and didn't see them again until we claimed the bags at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. After getting off the ship, we stood in line for a taxi to the airport, and suddenly realized this was the 1st line we had stood in all week!
Overall Report I would definitely give this cruise a 9.5 out of a 10. We just had an awesome time, met some great new friends, visited beautiful islands, cruised on a wonderful ship and had the best anniversary we could've asked for. This cruise was VERY port intensive, and full of activity. When we got home, we slept for at least 12 hours straight! I highly recommend this cruise to adventure seekers, history buffs, active people and eco/nature buffs as well. The good weather, great service, beautiful ship and spectacular Caribbean islands made this our best anniversary cruise yet! One we will always remember.
We repeated the same cruise twice on September 27 and October 4 because we had taken a similar one several years ago and missed several ports due to two hurricanes. This time we thought we would see all the ports even if we missed some on the first or second cruise. Fortunately all went well and we saw every port twice. We still had two hurricanes come through the general area where the cruise went, but they passed to the east when we were still in the west. The captain did a great job of keeping us informed about the weather and any problems that might be caused by the hurricanes.
We spent two days in Boston before the cruise. The weather was horrible. They expected 3 inches of rain in Boston the day before the cruise and we think is all fell on us as we tried to walk the Freedom Trail. After 3 hours and being soaked to the skin, we gave it up and returned to the hotel for a hot shower and an afternoon nap. That was the best idea we had all day.
Embarkation The nextday we had breakfast at the hotel and took a taxi to the ship. When we arrived, the place was in total confusion. Somebody said to go in one door to register, but they told us there that we had to take our bags down the street to another door. My wife stayed at the registration table while I took the two large suitcases about 200 yards down the street to another door. I had to fight my way through crowds of people getting off busses and out of taxis and they all seemed to be going the other way. I finally was able to get the bags checked and returned to the other building. The registration process went quickly as soon as the clerk was able to find out how to handle back-to-back cruises. She had never had back-to-back guests before and had to get help from her supervisor. Even the supervisor was a little unsure about handling the registration. A few minutes later, we were on our way through the security line and onto the ship. Since it was only about noon when we got on board, the cabins were not yet ready so we went up to the Lido restaurant and had lunch. After lunch, we went to the Solarium pool area and relaxed until a few minutes before 1 PM. Then we sneaked down to our cabin and checked it out.
Cabin We had bought an outside cabin, but it was not as good as those that we have had in the past. RCCL is notorious for having small cabins and this was one of them. There was very little drawer space and very limited closet space. The bathroom had only one small area for storing our things and we were hardly able to get our stuff on the shelves. Fortunately, the safe was large enough to accommodate our valuables. We were happy to see there was a refrigerator. Not all RCCL ships seem to have them. The bed was against the window, requiring one to climb onto the bed to look outside. The cabin arrangement is just not as good as Carnival or Princess ships. The room attendant did an excellent job of caring for us and our cabin. She made up for the cabin deficiencies.
Food The food was better than a previous cruise we took on this same ship. However they seemed to serve the good stuff (prime rib and lobster) on the same nights and on some other nights nothing seemed that interesting. The service in the dining room was very good and the waiters did everything they could to keep their guests happy.
I ordered a sandwich one evening when we stayed in the cabin and it was soggy and stale. I did not order anything more from room service on either cruise.
We prefer to take all our meals in the main dining room. Unfortunately, the dining room was not open for lunch on the days we were in port. It was only open on the two sea days. Service during breakfast and lunch was extremely slow, but the assistant waiters were very attentive while we waited for the food to arrive.
Entertainment The production shows were very well done with some surprises that we had not seen on ships before. The comedians were also quite good. The magic show was OK.
Ports We did not take any shore excursions. I had done some Internet research and found that free hop on/hop off busses were available in Bar Harbor and Halifax. In Portland, Maine the all day bus costs $5.00 per person, but it was well worth it. The drivers were very nice and provided some interesting facts about their city as we rolled along.
The Island Explorer bus that runs from Bar Harbor into Acadia National Park was wonderful. We were too early to catch the right bus and had to wait about 1/2 hour for the next one, but had a very nice chat with one of the drivers who was waiting to get a ride to the bus yard to get her vehicle. She gave us some good advice about how to best see the park. Her suggestion was to get off the bus at a certain point just inside the park and walk a coastal trail for about two miles. She said we would be able to flag down the next bus or wait at the next scheduled stop for a ride. We took her advice and had a wonderful walk along the trail. The views were superb.
The bus in Halifax is called Fred and starts its loop of the city very near the cruise ship dock. It hits all the highlights of the city on each loop. The Citadel on top of a downtown hill is well worth a visit. Halifax also has a boardwalk along the water's edge that starts near the cruise ship dock. The cruise ship dock has an abundance of vendors selling locally made items.
St. John has a shopping mall that runs through upper stories of various downtown buildings starting near the water and ending several blocks up the hill at a market selling fresh produce and ethnic food items. It is an interesting walk through the various buildings including the St. John city hall. An interesting museum is in the same building where the market starts near the water.
Portland has an excellent art museum that is about a mile from the pier. The bus stops close by or you can stroll through the shopping area on you way to the museum. The Victoria Mansion is also worth a visit and the bus also stops just outside this building. There are a number of fish restaurants along the water's edge and in the downtown area.
We had hoped to see some fall colors, but were again too early. Each time we go to the east coast, we go a little later in the season, but have not yet been able to see an abundance of colors. I guess later in October would have been a better time for this trip.
We had a long wait at the airport in Boston. Our flight was not until 6:30 PM and it was almost an hour late. We were off the ship by a little after 8 AM, so we were at the airport for 10 hours or more. Fortunately they had some comfortable rocking chairs near the window where we were able to sit and watch the planes come and go.
There isn't a cruise line at sea that welcomes passengers back like Royal Caribbean International (RCI). First day on board there were several knocks at our stateroom door; each bringing the following: One dozen American Beauty Roses, a bottle of Moet & Chandon Brut Champagne chilling in an ice bucket with two glasses, a tray of chocolate dipped strawberries, and finally a huge bowl of fruit. VIP treatment for "Diamond + frequent floaters" is wonderful and it signals a wonderful week to come: Exotic destinations, unique experiences with old and new friends on board!
The first surprise was to see Captain Charles Teige as master, since we had enjoyed meeting him on the Voyager of the Seas in 2006. What a pleasure to sail and dine with him again on the Liberty of the Seas. This lovely ship is well run and affords travellers such unique marvelous opportunities including the following: the Flow Rider, a surf simulator; the Ice Skating Rink presenting Olympic quality Ice Skating Shows; the Rock Climbing Wall, the nine hole Mini Golf, etc., etc., etc! This, our first review of the Liberty of the Seas, will cover theentire ship and point out some of its exquisite decorations.
EMBARKATION On Saturday I-95 traffic was bearable, we arrived at the Port of Miami at 12:45pm and had wheelchair assistance from the point of luggage drop off --- all the way to our stateroom. Check-in was simple, then we were escorted to a waiting area from which the ship's crew took us on board. We were in our cabin in less than one half hour. This was all simple and no hassle.
THE SHIP This Freedom class ship, the Liberty of the Seas, is sister to both the Freedom of the Seas and the newest of this triumvirate, Independence of the Seas. The Liberty made her maiden voyage on May 19, 2007. She was built at Kvaerner Masa-Yards in Turku, Finland. Her gross tonnage is 160,000 and she is 1,112 feet long and 185 feet wide, with a draft of a mere 28 feet. She is approximately the same as the Empire State Building laid on its side --- nearly four times the size of the Statue of Liberty and three times the size of the Titanic! She has a cruising speed of 21.6 knots and 15 passenger decks, 14 elevators, and can accommodate 4,375 guests. This cruise she carried 4,100 passengers and a crew of 1,360. This ship has 1,817 staterooms of which 1,084 are ocean view (842 of these have balconies). There are 733 interior cabins of which 172 have a view of the Royal Promenade. The RCI Royal Promenade concept, in both the Voyager and Freedom classes, is a village street in the interior part of the ship (with a Pub, a Barber Shop, Logo Shops, Boutiques and restaurants). This is an excellent place to stroll, shop, sit and read, or meet with fellow passengers. Next will follow a deck by deck description of the Liberty of the Seas.
Deck 1 has the medical facility and crew areas.
Deck 2 forward has the Conference Center and the Screening Room, plus passenger cabins and the first level of the Platinum Theater.
Deck 3 forward has the Platinum Theater with its gorgeous curtain "Pearls" with 13 separate panels, a total of 28 feet tall and 46 feet wide with seven statuesque female figures with head pieces and dresses of 76,000 hand sewn sequins and 4,000 Austrian crystals. Their shoes are of 4,000 ruby red bugle beads. The total effect is elegant. Also forward is the Art Gallery; mid ship is the "Catacombs Disco" with Harry Cardross' Stained Glass Windows titled the "Ravens of the Catacombs." Norse mythology call them Hugin and Munin. Simon Dray has painted the god Odin, who gave one eye in return for knowledge--- his other eye is the sun. Dray also painted Frigg, Odin's wife. She was a strong woman who often got the best of Odin. Needless to say the disco is striking.
Next is the Ice Center and the Studio B Entertainment complex. Aft is the Rembrandt Dining Room which is the bottom level of the tri level restaurant. It is a RCI triumph, with a massive chandelier seen from all tiers. The triple staircase holds the bandstand which provides live music each evening during dinner.
Deck 4 has the Schooner Bar and the Casino Royale with its Hollywood, Casablanca and Oceans' 11 characters on murals ( Bogart, Bergman, the Rat Pack of Sinatra, Martin, Davis Jr. and Dickinson). Artists Smolover and Zaiba call the murals "Casino." These two artists also did the primordial garden of glass floral sculptures in the Bolero Bar. They are fantastic giant agave blooms in warm colors of yellows and oranges. The Michelangelo Dining room is aft.
Deck 5 is the most used passenger center, since it has the Guest Relations Desk, Exploration Desk for shore excursions and the Shopping Desk and the Promenade with the following:Shops on Board (perfume, sports and logo), Ben & Gerry's Ice Cream, a Barber shop, Wine Bar, Hoof & Claw Pub, Cafe' Promenade and Sorrento's Pizza featuring antipasti, artisan breads, pizzas, and desserts of fresh fruits and biscotti! The walls inside have photos of many famous Italo-Americans from Caruso to Mario Lanza and Joe DiMaggio.
Aft is the Botticelli Dining Room with a mural of "Venus rising..." Forward is the Sphinx Lounge. Its entrance is flanked by huge statues of Pharohs, while on its walls are murals of "Views of the Nile" and "Figures from Daily Life, Egypt" by Clarissa Parish. Look for the Novidis statue of Tutankhama, it is a representation of the one in the Cairo Museum. Its beauty is in black and gold.
Decks 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 are mainly cabins plus the Business Services area, the Library, the RCI computers and the Concierge lounge all of which are located near the aft elevators.
Deck 11 forward has the fitness center and the Solarium with an excellent pool and two giant whirlpools which extend out over the ocean! On this deck there are 6 whirlpools, 3 swimming pools and the Sea Trek Dive Shop. Mid ship is the Sprinkles Ice Cream and aft are two specialty restaurants: Chops Grille, excellent filet and veal chops, etc. and superbly run; the Portofino, with Italian cuisine, featured a new menu with updated items; all the way aft is the Jade (oriental food) and the Windjammer Buffet serving all day long everything from soup to desserts.
Deck 12 has the Johnny Rockets Restaurant, a nineteen fifties railroad car diner, all chrome and red Naugahyde booths plus juke boxes with all the golden oldies. They specialize in hamburgers, hot dogs, French Fries, onion rings and old fashion soda fountain fare: Ice cream floats, sundaes and apple pie a la mode. Here also are the Adventure Ocean Youth Center, Fuel Teen Disco and the Game Arcade.
Deck 13 is the Sports Deck with a Rock Climbing Wall, Mini Golf and Golf Simulator, Basketball Court, Flow Rider (for surfers) and the Wipe Out Bar.
Deck 14 has the Sports bar and night club Olive or Twist, the 7 Hearts Card Room, Cloud 9 Club and the second Concierge Lounge overlooking the sea.
Deck 15 holds the Skylight Chapel which accommodates 45 people: Great for weddings at sea!
The ship is artfully decorated with designs too numerous to mention here. It reflects the excellent taste of RCI. Suffice it to say there is a surprise around every corner and in every stairwell.
CABIN We had wheelchair accessible cabin #7624 on Deck 7. It is a large roomy stateroom decorated very tastefully in teal blue and gold. When entering, the door is a bit too narrow for a wheelchair and we had to do special maneuvers each time. On the left there are armoires with both shelves and hangers and a personal safe. Then, there is a long desk/vanity with lighted mirrors.
When entering on the right there is a large bathroom with safety rails all around and a shower stall with a fold away seat. The mirrored medicine cabinet is roomy. Then there is a sofa, a coffee table, and an upholstered chair. RCI has a new bedding program featuring a king size bed, upgraded sheets and a nice duvet (the 20 pound variety, which is a bit too much for the Caribbean).Two night stands flank the bed with two reading lamps. The far wall is all windows, floor to ceiling and a door to the balcony, which holds a chaise, two chairs and a small table. The balcony is extra long and deep, and very spacious. Our Cabin Stewardess was Evelyn Marcosa, the sweetest, and most efficient we've had. Brava!
SERVICE & FOOD The Hotel Director Christos Karavos is a very capable man who gave us much detailed ship data. We can't thank him enough. He runs an excellent ship, where service is always smiling and fast. We used Room Service every morning for breakfast and the RS Supervisors Theresa and Teeana should be proud of the prompt and accurate service.
RCI's Crown & Anchor Society has many perks to offer returning passengers in the way of cocktail parties, gifts (i.e. Caps and beach towels), concierge services by Pretty Shamu, Anthea Helmsing and Mario Reyes who preside over the two lounges on Deck 10 and Deck 14: Great service and cordiality from all three, especially from Anthea who made our dinner and show reservations and provide us with the Italian language newspaper. The lounges are open for breakfast 8-11am and cocktails 5-8:30pm. It is a nice way to meet new people on board and to connect up with old friends.
Most cruisers equate service with the treatment in the dining rooms and restaurants. This cruise Exec. Chef Johan Petutschnig was on board; he is another old acquaintance of ours. Feeding over 5,000 people every day is a daunting task, but he is up to it and he can be seen making the rounds of the many various venues daily.
The Captain's Dinner on Formal Night was exquisite -- escargot, Lobster bisque, Caesar salad, linguini Alfredo with truffled wild mushrooms (Mary's choice) and a perfectly done Filet of Beef (Vincent's selection). The Chef's Surprise dessert was a delicate mousse topped with a spun sugar basket filled with wild berries. What a way to end dinner with Captain Teige. Excellent conversation, delicious food and a sweet taste in our mouth.
Each evening we dined in the Botticelli Restaurant Deck 5. Head Waiter Myra Fuentes was constantly watching that everything went smoothly. Our Waiter was Pedro Arevalo and both he and his assistant Ning were perfect. They brought each course at a nice pace, but not rushed. The food was typical RCI, good quality and we are happy to note smaller portions. Vincent felt that the beef was not of consistent quality.
We especially enjoyed Sorrento's on the Promenade and highly recommend Chop's Grill where quality was top notch, with meat cooked to perfection, and served well. The Mississippi Mud Pie is the ultimate in chocolate. Food and service are alive and well on board!
ENTERTAINMENT This Freedom Class of ships has so many diverse possibilities for fun for everyone. For the sports minded there are unique items only to RCI venues like the Flow Rider: stand up surfing from 8-9am and 3-4pm and boogie boarding from 10-11am and 4-6pm. Then there is Rock Climbing Wall and ice skating. No other cruise line offers all of these. There are also skating, golf, jogging, shuffleboard and ping pong. For those enjoying gambling there are Bingo, poker and slots tournaments and other Casino games. For the less athletic minded, there is Daily Trivia, and a great library with many comfortable leather sofas and chairs overlooking the the Royal Promenade. This is a much coveted spot for viewing the many Parades on the Promenade.
The nightly shows include comics, variety shows and Broadway style musicals --- all very entertaining. Cruise Director James Andrews keeps passengers informed of the many activities on board. James is very friendly and approachable. We cruise for rest and relaxation, but many cruise for activities and RCI has the best and most afloat. "Get out there!"
PORTS OF CALL Saturday: Port of Miami, FL Sail Away 5:00pm. Sunday: At Sea. Monday: At Sea. Tuesday: Philipsburg, St. Maarten Arrive 9:00am Depart 6:00pm Wednesday: San Juan, Puerto Rico Arrive 7:00am Depart 2:00pm Thursday: Labadee, Haiti Arrive 8:00am Depart 4:30pm Friday: At Sea Saturday: Port of Miami, FL Arrive 7:00am Debarkation
CONCLUSION We have cruised two years ago on the Freedom of the Seas, sister ship of the Liberty of the Seas, and were amazed by the immense dimensions of this "giga" ship and, most of all, by the many innovative features first seen at sea. However, now we spend more time going around and admiring the individual pieces of artwork which decorate the various areas of these ships. It is like visiting a museum. Each day we tour different areas, take the time to enjoy the interesting sights and learn something new. We rarely visit the ports of call, since we have been there many times, but we leisurely enjoy the ship.
We are addicted to cruising. This was our 75th cruise and our 35th on RCI ships, thus it is evident that RCI is one of our favorite cruise lines. The main reason is that the perks and benefits offered to Crown & Anchor Society members are substantial, especially to those repeaters ("Frequent Floaters") who have achieved the Platinum and Diamond levels. We are looking forward to sailing on the newest of the RCI ships, Independence of the Seas, Nov. 29th. Other cruises already booked are the Norwegian Pearl, on Jan. 4th, Ruby Princess, on Jan. 24th, Celebrity Solstice, transatlantic cruise, on April 19th and the inaugural cruise of the Oasis of the Seas, on Dec. 12th 2009. Happy Cruising!
I sailed on the Mariner of the Seas on Sunday, September 7th through the 14th. This was my husband and I's second cruise. Our first cruise was last year on the Carnival Triumph - and that was EXCELLENT! I felt there was just something missing on RCI that Carnival had (more detail later). Anyway, we were traveling with my family. We flew from Boston to Orlando the Saturday morning before our cruise. We then took a shuttle to Port Canaveral, which is about 50 minutes away - a very nice, relaxing drive. We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites. This is probably one of the best hotels I've ever stayed in! The staff was very helpful and friendly, the place was spotless, and it had everything! It has a great pool, hot tub, arcade, gym, and free breakfast. I highly recommend this place! It was a Saturday night so they also had a free shuttle to nearby places, so we took it to Fish Lips, a restaurant right on the water. That place was so much fun! Great family environment and great food!
The next morning, we took the hotel'sshuttle to the port at about 10:30am. About 10 minutes later, there we were at the port - staring at the Mariner. What a beautiful ship! She is HUGE! (Just wanted to add, for a big ship with so many people - we never felt crowded - no lines, it was good!) Very sharp looking. It also towered over the Disney Wonder and the Carnival Sensation that were in port that day. We went through security and then we were off to show our Sail Pass. The line went quick and we had our Sail Pass card and were all checked in - all in about 10 minutes! We couldn't board yet so we waited in a row of chairs for about 10 minutes more. Then it was time to board! The whole process was very easy and quick - I think Port Canaveral is a lot nicer, more organized, and quicker than Miami (which we did last year).I will definitely do Port Canaveral from now on!
My first step into the Mariner, I was in shock! How beautiful and big! haha Much nicer interior than the Carnival Triumph that we sailed last year - and a LOT bigger too! We took some photos of her and then made our way up to the Windjammer (Deck 11) for lunch.
While on the topic of the Windjammer, this is probably a good time to mention my first disappointment - the food on the Mariner. The food was just okay - tolerable. I just wasn't that impressed - which, in a way was good, it meant I didn't pig out as much! haha Usually for lunch I just had a cheeseburger or hot dog and fries. I'm a picky or 'selective' eater so I don't eat weird 'fancy' stuff, haha. Most of the food on the Mariner was fancy things. Even the desserts weren't of my liking. The only thing I did like were the cookies - but sadly, those were usually hard as a rock. The cakes, pies, etc. were more European desserts, which I'm not a fan off. I'd prefer simple Ring Dings and Oreos, haha. Gosh did I MISS the chocolate cake from Carnival. Oh, and Carnival's chocolate melting cake. Gosh, I'll just say it - I missed ALL of Carnival's food! I simply couldn't get enough of the food on the Triumph. But the Mariner left me hungry and craving more 'normal' food. I wasn't even impressed in the dining room. I had chicken breast and a baked potato every single night! haha I don't like my food with extra weird sauces on it and things like that. But if you're into fancy foods, like my hubby is, you'll love the Mariner! ** But, let me say, that the Jonny Rockets is EXCELLENT! Now that is real food! haha We went there twice! Well worth the $3.95 a person. And don't forget to have the Oreo Sundae!!!! **
After eating lunch, we walked around the whole ship. I was really impressed by her. Then at 1pm exactly, we went to our stateroom - 6643, and interior cabin on deck 6. It was definitely smaller than our cabin on the Triumph (which had a porthole). I will never do an interior again. It was way to dark - which made me never want to get out of bed, haha. I NEED a window. But, we made the best of it. The bathroom is REALLY tiny and don't get me started on the shower! haha But at least it had a real shower door. What I wasn't happy with was 1) there were no nice Royal Caribbean beach towels - they were simple yellow ones (Carnival had nice blue Carnival logo towels) that looked like bath towels; 2) there were no RCI bath robes (Carnival gave us two Carnival bath robes); and 3) there was no basket of free samples in the bathroom (Carnival gave a nice assortment of samples!). I'm sorry, but if RCI is 'better' and costs more, why doesn't it have these same simple things like Carnival??? Doesn't make much sense to me!
Next, I'll talk about the shows and entertainment. Once again, RCI did not live up to the Carnival standards. The two parades were okay - not too exciting and kind of childish - not to mention short! The shows were mostly singers and dancers - I prefer more Comedians and other upbeat, fun shows. But, they were good - not bad - but just not lively! The comedian juggler was HILARIOUS though!!!! He's not to be missed! I also found myself missing a lot of the activities by the pool as well.. I just didn't expect them to be good, so I didn't bother! Which is pretty sad! haha I went to EVERYTHING on the Carnival ship! We spent a lot of time napping, eating, and walking the promenade on sea days.
Staff - wow is all I can say! haha While most of the crew on the mariner were very nice, helpful, and went out of their way to make your day - there were many I saw who weren't friendly! I walked by many who didn't even say hi to me. I saw some Windjammer staff huffing and puffing and looking bored. I never saw this on the Carnival Triumph - everyone on that ship smiled and said hi. I guess it just depends on the ship, but that really did turn me off to RCI. The cruise director Abe was okay, he was funny, but he wasn't that exciting. The BEST crew member had to be Simeon at the Schooner bar!!!! I swear I spent 80% of my cruise at that bar, haha. He is a piano player and he is hilarious! I'd go on the Mariner again JUST to see him! He really made my week! Go see Simeon!Ports of Call:
- Labadee, Haiti was our first stop. It was pretty rough seas on our way there, since we were getting the back part of Ike. Luckily I never get seasick. Labadee is a very nice beach area. We went directly to Hideaway beach at the end tip. It's quiet here and the sand is nice. Water was warm and beautiful - perfect. You also get a great view of the ship. There was a bathroom right there and the food buffet is right near the beach too - great location. The food buffet wasn't that great, I was pretty disappointed. Again, I was expecting RCI to be better than Carnival, but my expectations were not met. After a day on the beach, eating lunch, and walking around, we headed to the market. Oh my gosh! How pushy they were! Somehow we bought two bracelets for $15, haha. But oh well, I hope we made their day and helped that guy and his family out. I was pulled, tugged, yelled at, and everything else by people trying to get me to buy their things. I had to run out of there. I think they would sell more if they weren't so pushy!
- Montego Bay, Jamaica - We were supposed to go to Ocho Rios, but some other ship was there, so we went to Montego Bay instead. Hubby and I did the Negril Express and Shopping tour - it was a lot of fun and I really suggest it! It takes about 1.5 hours to drive to Margarittaville in Negril. We really got to see the real Jamaica this way. Wow, those people are really poor. It makes you appreciate what you have back home. After a few hours on the beach, we did 30 minutes of shopping, then drove back to the ship. It was a fun relaxing day and I also felt like I learned alot about the country. Our tour guid was great! There were only like 10 people on our tour too, which was good.
- Grand Cayman - Sadly, due to high waves, we couldn't get off the ship. I was really upset because I was going to do the Moby Dick sting ray tour. Hopefully I'll go back!
- Cozumel, Mexico - Wow it was hot! haha Very nice mall at the port, so if you like shopping, you could stay busy there all day! We had wanted to do the Sandals all inclusive resort, but it was full, so we did the all inclusive beach break at Play Mia. I don't think it was worth the money. The beach was nice and we met two nice people there and chatted the day away under the warm sun - but the food was lacking. I was hoping for cheeseburgers, fries, etc. but it was Mexican food - nothing I would eat. And the open bar wasn't that good. So, I don't think it was worth the $70 a person. Definitely do the Sandals one!
The last day of our cruise, we went to find our photos - we had them taken as we boarded, on the ship, at dinner, and at every port… but we had ONE photo in our folder! We couldn’t find any of them. We tried the photo finder machine, but had no luck. We got frustrated and just gave up! RCI lost some of our money because of that! The photo center was very disorganized.
Getting off the ship was very easy - took maybe 30 minutes. My mom and dad sadly didn't find one of their suitcases when leaving. I don't know if they have it yet or not. We then drove by shuttle to the airport and headed home on a 11am flight.
Overall, we had a great time! The ship is unbelievable... but the food, crew, and activities had me missing the Carnival Triumph! I think next time, I'll try a newer Carnival ship. RCI really didn't impress me that much, sorry to say it. Everyone had told me I'd love it so much more, etc., but I didn't see it.
On a funny note, last year on my first cruise, I had tripped on the wet floor by the pool and fell on my butt in front of everyone. Well, I couldn't disappoint anyone this year and fell on a wet floor on deck 5 on the royal promenade and landed face down in front of everyone! hahah Do I have bad luck or what???? :) Happy cruising everyone!