Ranked #22 Carnival fleet
Ranked #109 among all ships
One of the oldest "Fantasy-class" Carnival ships (1991), fine for short inexpensive getaways but the age shows in ...Read the CruiseMates report
Ranked #22 Carnival fleet
Ranked #109 among all ships
One of the oldest "Fantasy-class" Carnival ships (1991), fine for short inexpensive getaways but the age shows in ...Read the CruiseMates report
Horrible, Awful, Cheats, Scams, and Liars.
Sail Date: April 29, 2013
Cruise Region: Caribbean - Western
Cruise Length: Five days
-----PLEASE CAREFULLY READ THE ENTIRE CRUISE CONTRACT BEFORE TAKING THIS CRUISE----
Once you have read this contract you realize you have signed your life, first born, and bank account over to Carnival Cruise lines.
Once you board this "ship" or floating bathroom as i would like to refer to it they will offer you drinks. Complimentary? OH NO, they will make sure to get your (sails and signs account card) and then let you know they have a daily drink special of $10 if they are feeling generous that day.
After you get a look around the ship they will let you know where your cabin is located and where your baggage will be. (Please ignore all baggage location as you will have to fight your way to it at the end of the hallway where you can grab all you want.)
Now we get to the fun parts, want your room cleaned??? Oh, they will surely help you out by removing your valuables from your room in my case an iPhone 5 and somecash. So, now that they have robbed you, you will try to make a report when you make your report please be ready to be searched by security and treated as a criminal, because not only will they search your entire room bag by bag, article or clothing by article of clothing, but they will also go through your safe.
Now that you have proven that the items are NOT in your possession they will ask you how much cash you have on your person, (why i haven't quite figured out yet) and tell you they will return within an hour or so. That being said after 5 hours of sitting in my cabin i decide that i am going to go up to customer service where i ask for the manager it seems that all staff are "the manager" after asking how everyone is the manager i got pulled aside by two security guards behind a curtain to meet a lovely (sarcasm) lady named Barbara.
Barbara proceeded to call me a liar, i then asked to see a video or recording of who had entered my room, this was not possible because "they don't have any". So, now i am told to "PROVE" that my items were there in the first place. I attempted to explain that i cannot prove the location of something that is no longer there the reply i received was that the investigation was complete. I go on to realize that now i have to cancel my cell phone and bank info because of data stored on my iPhone, they were very nice at offering free calls to do so, BUT then you get a bill of 100$ for international calling.
Now they will try to show you a log of when people come in and out of your room pay attention to the times they burst in on you with "towel service" or "activity sheets", because they tell you that only the "steward" has access to your room.
So we have covered the basics of this cruises personnel lets get to the ports. One of the two stops was delayed by poor planning due to another ships arrival leaving non priority guests stuck on the boat for part of the day. All in all i felt more safe and comfortable having a random bar keep in mexico look after my items then i did in my room.
I would never get back on this boat, even if it was free.
The Elation is a Fantasy class ship that we had just sailed a few months ago, so we knew what to expect. We have sailed her many times.
We love cruising out of New Orleans. We are Diamond members, so we get VIP Check In and New Orleans does that very well. IF you are sailing when NCL and RCCL are in town, the traffic can be a bit of a pain on Saturdays and Sundays, but they were goneâ€¦so we had no issues. I believe RCCL and NCL are only in New Orleans from Nov - April.
To me the Elation is the prettiest of the Fantasy class ships and one of my favorites, even though it does not have the new Evolutions of Fun water park or the balconies that have been added to some Fantasy class ships.
The food was good. We ate in the Main Dining Room every night. Yes the menu has changed over the years, but we were always able to find something that we liked.
The Deli was good as was the Mongolian Wok. And of course the 24 hour free ice cream. YUM
Service wasexcellent all over the ship.
Gary Brierley was the Cruise Director and he is just delightful. (one of our favorites)
Ryan is a Social Host of Australia whose performance in the Legends Show is not to be missed. He also hosted karaoke and was a huge hit!
Bruce in the Piano Bar is from Scotland and a delightful (and talented) gentleman.
The Cover Band was Simply Friends and they are very good.
We had 4 in an interior on Empress. This was our last "family" cruise for awhile, since our oldest son is now grown and is sailing on his own and with friends.
We had plenty of room even with 2 boys that are 6+ foot tall.
We found the ship to be in good shape. Our cabin was clean and the cabin steward friendly and attentive.
They have the NEW Legends Show and it was good to see some new acts.
We have been to Progreso and Cozumel more times than I can count but always have a good time when we are there. Both are safe. I know with all the violence in other parts of Mexico this can be a concern.
We did our own thing in both ports. We always just walk about in Progreso and this time I actually forgot to pack my white socksâ€¦and was able to find some in the local market (orange building).
In Cozumel, we went to Paradise Beach for a day of fun in the sunâ€¦.but we are also very fond of Cozumel Bar Hop. Both are independent tours you can find on Facebook and we have a blast.
They did VIP Self Assist very well...except that it is difficult to get your luggage up to Promenade and then back down to Empress. Since this is "self assist", then they should know all these guests are going to have all their luggage and should have a meeting place that allows for that fact.
Over all, what we thought would be just a 5 day getaway turned into one of our best cruises.
We were very excited about the cruise and our destination, Mexico. We were looking forward to lively clubs, all you can eat quality food, quality seafood, quiet adult time, culture, tacos in mexico and courteous staff.
We boarded early, had a buffet lunch with all of our luggage in tow because the rooms do not open until 1:30... Tiffany's looked very nice, though the stained glass is fake and falling apart. I skipped to salad, and found that the salad area had hardly any variety. I saw my husband got a burger and went to find them... I got a burger and was in the bathroom within 20 minutes from the fat in the burger. There was no fresh seafood on the buffets like we thought there would be, usually strange concoctions that I tried and never liked. My husband and I are foodies but we are not exactly picky either. If we are going to eat, we want it to be decent quality... the buffet food to me was horrible. Even the desserts. They have free soft serve but it was the icy kind of stuff, not creamy. The onlytime we were pleased with the food is if we went to the dining room we were assigned. The attitude of the wait staff during the day was very curt and off-putting. But in the evenings we were assigned to a table, waiter and server that were top class and the food was wonderful. Go out of your comfort zone in the dining room. But don't even bother with the buffet food... horrible.
The novelty of the boat wore off quickly. Its nice in the mornings or late late evenings when most are in bed or at dinner, but otherwise parents let their kids run around screaming and bumping in to people, so they got a vacation from them but they terrorized other people... apparently there is a fall break now that attributed to there being so many children on board... we find children unpleasant because their parents do not make them behave... on a cruise ship, this is multiplied 100 times. So we did not get away from screaming kids like we had hoped. And unless you like LAME shows, tacky American culture, gambling and drinking, there is nothing to do on the ship. We thought there would be more of a night life on board and more to do than just sun bath (burn and get cancer) and swim in a pool that is fool of screaming children. The only safe place we found was the Serenity deck which was adult only; no bar or live music, just two hot tubs and a bunch of lounge chairs. This was on the back of the boat, so it was very small. We enjoyed the hot tubs at night while everyone else was at dinner. But then that made us sleepy and after seeing the lineup for "entertainment" we just went back to our room and watched on of the daily movies.
We thought there would be more culture on the ship, but instead we got American cover bands as music, burgers and fries... the closest you will get to culture is talking to the crew; I think only four or five were American, the rest were from all over the world, but they are working 70 hour weeks and waiting on you hand and foot with a master servant kind of relationship... we felt very distant from them which we are not used to and it made us feel like total heels. My husband and I are very humble down to earth people, so being made to feel like we were not on the same level as the crew was very demoralizing for us. Especially since they were the only variety in culture on the ship, which is what we were looking forward to.
There were very few people in our age group (25-30) on the ship, so the night life was not existent. We would walk by the clubs after dinner and they were dead. The only things going were the cover band, the lame shows in the Mikado and Cole Porter lounge, and the casino... we had already spent enough money on the cruise itself, we did not have money to gamble.
The highlight was Mexico. Skip Cozumel, overrated. The beaches are not as nice and too expensive. Carnival charged us $40 per ticket to go to Playa del Mia and when we got there, they did have the "free" open bar (we just paid $40!) but nothing else was available that was detailed with the excursion, no water sports, nothing. Apparently a storm came close by and murkied things up and made it so they had to put all the water sports equipment up. So we paid $40 to fight with people on the beach over lounge chairs in the shade (no umbrellas it was too windy)... very disappointed. My husband literally tried to drink $40 worth from the bar to compensate for our loss. So skip Cozumel... even if the water sports are available... save your money for Calica instead. Prettier beaches and water and they do not heckle you as much in the shops and streets but you still get good deals. We went to Playa del Carmen and paid $20 for two lounge chairs with a huge corona umbrella and that was for as long as we wanted to be there. Beautiful sand and water, and we were treated to a Mexican man and his music. He was not walking arounf with an entire mariachi band; just himself, dressed in a long sleeve flannel shirt, dark blue jeans and black tennis shoes and his guitar. No tacky Mexican production or costume. Very genuine and the music was beautiful. He sang Coo Coo Roo Koo Coo for us and had we have been rich I would have given him a $100 tip. It was special and beautiful. Then we walked to the man a few feet behind us and ordered tacos from a restaurant a few feet from the beach. They were wonderful! Real tacos, not gringo tacos. And fresh guacamole that tasted like mine. And black refried beans. We were tickled with our trip to Calica. If we can ever go back I will find that man and give him a bigger tip, no song required. But we will not go via cruise ship.
We got back on the boat and left the culture. We got a view jems that we would not have gotten if we had not have gone, like the man singning for us on video and we got to see the sun set over the water from the dining room on the boat. But if we ever go back to Mexico, we will stay there, not on a boat. You can still do it and be safe; just don't go to Tijuana.
For the money we spent to have a room and food on the boat, we could have stayed home and done things we enjoyed and taken in still more culture. And we could have made real tacos at home. We could have had a shopping spree and still had a lot of money left over. We could have played pool, gone to wine tastings, bought our own liquor and drank more (we couldn't afford to drink on the boat; imagine 5 full days of ordering drinks at a bar...). We could have gone to a concert, a 5 star restaurant for the first time... We really regret going, there are so many better things we could have spent the money on and we would have enjoyed oursleves more. Instead we were trapped on an out dated boat with lots of children and lots of 70-80+ people, with nothing that entertained us... bored to tears.
Let me put it this way. If you like variety, spice, culture, freedom, good food, good music, dancing, and intellectual stimulation, a carnival cruise may not be for you.
For my wife and I, our first cruise was on the Carnival Elation out of San Diego. We had booked a 4 night cruise with a stop in Catalina island and then Ensenada, Mexico; however, due to swine flu concerns Carnival canceled the Ensenada stop. They refunded the port fees for this stop in the form of shipboard credits. This was fine for us, as we didn't have any excursions planned in Ensenada and the extra day at sea with shipboard credits was great.
Getting on the ship was much easier than we thought it would be. We arrived at 11:15 and got checked in and waited until they started boarding around noon. Our room wasn't ready until 1:30, so we had to lug around our carry on bags until then, but it was worth it to have the time to explore the ship.
We had a wonderful time on this cruise. Our cabin was very comfortable and our steward was wonderful.
For dining we chose the Your Time dining and loved it. We were able to get a table for just the two of us each evening and only oncedid we have to wait, and that was only about 10 minutes. Even that wasn't bad, as they gave us a pager and we went to the Atrium bar and had a drink as we waited. Once in the dining room the service was excellent. Even though we did have different wait staff on some of the nights, the waiters from previous nights would come over and say hello and ask how things were going. Service and the food were excellent in the dining room. The buffet food was just that, buffet food. The breakfasts were marginal at best and lunches were ok. Sticking to the pizza for lunch was the best choice.
Overall the shows were just ok. The showroom layout had very poor sightlines if you were in the balcony or further back. It is worthwhile to get to the showroom early to get a main floor seat. The best show we saw was Seth, the comedian. He had a "family friendly" bit on the first night, then had the full adults only show in the lounge in the back of the ship the next night. Both were very good.
Getting off the ship took awhile. We had one of the last numbers to be called, but this just gave us more time to relax on the ship. Once our number was called it was less than 10 minutes and we were through customs and back in the real world.
Overall we had a great time and will definitely consider Carnival again.
We have sailed on the Elation (out of San Diego) once before in September 2008 on a five day cruise to Mexico, and had an outstanding introduction to cruising. This was our second cruise, and we chose a short cruise to introduce our friends to this enjoyable way to vacation. We looked forward to revisiting "our" ship.
Getting on the ship is easy, do all of your pre-check-in stuff online, and park across the street from the ship. Registration is quick and easy, and you then walk onto the ship. There are numerous photographers buzzing around the entire cruise. You CAN avoid the photographers, just smile and tell them "no thanks." I only had one press his luck with me, and after I "educated" him, he avoided me the rest of the trip.
OK, here is the negative stuff. I made the mistake of booking during spring break, and we were on the "Booze Cruise" as my college-aged daughters called it. Having some fun is one thing, but sloppy, foul mouthed drunks with no regard for others is another. I now understand why these "kids" go on these cruises. They are free todo what they want. The ship's staff never even checked I.D.'s when selling alchol to these underaged kids, nor made any attempt to keep them from bothering the rest of the passengers.
The positive stuff -- Our food service was excellent, as was our waiter and his assistant. Likewise our cabin steward was simply the best. They helped make a difficult voyage better. Getting on and off the ship is very easy. We stayed again in a mini-suite. It's worth the extra money. The ship has very few rooms with a balcony, and having the bigger room with a larger bathroom and a whirlpool tub is worth the extra expense -- and it's actually not that much more.
Lesson learned -- no more three day cruises for me. The Carnival Elation is a nice, clean ship with an excellent staff and crew. We will sail with Carnival again.
Carnival's mission is to please it's customers so they will want to return to sail again. However, somewhere between this mission's philosophy and delivering it to the customer, it gets lost in bumbling middle management, with an over zealous bottom line agenda.
Don't get me wrong. Before my recent sailing on Carnival's "Elation," I was a very happy, and probably the best supporter of Carnival, having sung their praises to many.
We booked over 30 friends and family on the Elation (some who had previously sworn never to cruise with Carnival again) for mid February, and another 4 couples signed on the sailing just before our's (due to work schedules). We had booked this same group the year before on Royal Caribbean and the year before that on Carnival Pride, and in past years chartered privately. But this trip was different. It was to be a short, inexpensive cruise into Mexico, because we were bringing along some fatherless children who didn't normally have the luxury of vacations, and we wanted to make a difference. We MOST certainly preferred Carnival prior to this sailing for its fun and friendly staff, and the fun thingsfor the kids to do once onboard (waterslide, minigolf, etc.). Let me tell you, the ship's staff are the best and it's a shame all their hard work is overshadowed by poor administration in Maimi. What I will say is "Caveat Emptor," buyer beware!
Originally we were told that we could book this large group through the normal customer service agent, Lee Fernande (who was great and should be employed where her hard work would not be wasted), and even though we would be giving up many of the perks given by the Groups department, we liked the flexibility of booking it as individuals, within a group. For this we were offered a party, upgrades and other items, but ran afoul when we tried many times to get a written agreement. We did get plenty of substantiating emails and such. Despite having booked early in October, and even though Carnival had plenty of time to review and make changes, they chose to cancel our party in email, only days before we sailed, and well beyond our deadline and ability to cancel, AND only after we had decided on a theme of "the 60's" for the party and many had purchased appropriate attire.
Carnival also quoted us prices that were never quite honored and made promises never quite kept. In fact they even found a way to finagle my fuel supplement fees which I was told would be returned to me AND THEY DID NOT GIVE THE KIDS the soda cards they had promised them. In fact it was acknowledged to me, by more than one employee, the treatment we received was not fair. One employee even referred to them as "crooks" (but God forbid these great employees should be at a risk of losing their jobs having done so -- they may actually go to work for a company with ethics, which might cherish such employees that know the right from the wrong way to treat loyal customers). This was our third and last cruise with Carnival. We had discussed prior to this sailing our going without children in September on the new Splendor.
The only gripes we encountered onboard were that they didn't put us at a banquet type setting and our group was mixed with others at dinner. Or, for those that were unaware, they charge you the tips with each purchase on your sign and travel card, while the staff smiles and knowingly lets you pay double, without warning. Or that they WILL let 7-year-old kids gamble at bingo, even collect winnings, but will not let a 15 year old talented singer sing at karaoke, go figure. Other than that, the ship's layout isn't as good as others and it rained most of our trip. Docking in Catalina took half the day and for those who gave up trying to go into port, all shops and the casino were closed. There is also little for the teenaged kids to do in the rainy season as well. BUT we still had a GREAT time even though my complaints only got me room keys that didn't work, or wouldn't let me on or off the ship without hassle, and a few of our guest info had been altered, so we were delayed at boarding and a couple were not on the manifest at all. Thanks, Carnival!
This is one group that will never join the wonderful (and I do mean that) staff on another Carnival cruise.
In short, Carnival spends MORE time and resources solving customers' issues that they create over made up rules and changes, and the reasons for dissallowing or unqualifying its sales offers, than it would actually make with just honoring, truly and honestly, offers and having as great of an administration and customer service department as its ships have in onboard staff and in satisfying those same customers.
I'll return when I read that Carnival is "under new management."
What a great time my family had!. We arrived earlier that the 12:30 check in time. Not a problem as they let us board anyway around 11:30am. We had the buffet lunch and only had to wait until 1:30 to get to our rooms. Most of our luggage was in our rooms when we arrived and the rest was delivered within the hour. We spent the remainder of the afternoon getting accustomed to the layout of the ship (which can take a couple of days to get used to).
This was our first cruise so we didn't quite know what to expect. I have to say that the entire experience far exceeded our expectations. I really can't think of taking another vacation which wouldn't involve a cruise and I would definitely sail on a Carnival Cruise again. When they call it a Fun Ship, they really mean it. If you like to have a good time then this is the cruise line for you.
The food was really good. Breakfast and lunches were good (not amazing, but good). The real treat came later in the day in the dining room. Thefood and wait staff were amazing. I would equate each dinner with an $80 meal in a fancy restaurant. You'll get to tast some amazing foods with exquisite presentation that you normally wouldn't get to.
The ship's entertainment was far better than expected. They had a comedian one of the nights who was amazingly funny and played to a packed house in the Cole Porter Lounge. He was billed a appearing on Comedy Central and he lived up to the expectations. The other nights in the Cole Porter Lounge was Kareoke. Fun, but WAY too many old people who think that people still enjoy songs (and sung badly) from the 50's and 60's. Really? Something from this century please!
We did take in one of the "song and dance shows" one of the evenings. It was pretty good but again, you had to be like 70 or 80 to really have an appreciation for it. "Yankee Doodle Dandy" kind of crap. LOL. Those kids work really hard though so I shouldn't bang on them and they are all very talented. But seriously, a more up to date show with a bit more edge would be welcomed. The final evening featured a hypnotist who was pretty good and was entertaining. The real treat was the Newlywed Game. Probably some of the funniest stuff I've seen in a long time! Steve the Cruise Director has to be one of the funiiest and most talented people in the industry. His entourage of Norja, Irish Bob, Nick and Cory all do an amazing job keeping everyone entertained throughout the cruise. Hats off to all of them!
The ship was very clean and well cared for. Everywhere you look someone was cleaning something. We had an Ocenview Room which was small but that was to be expected, you won't spend much time in there anyway. What impressed me the most was the size of the bathroom. I just envisioned something like that of an RV but I was wrong. The room was large enough for two people to fit into comfortably as well as the shower (for 2) and the water pressure was amazing! No shortage of hot water either! All of the trimmings and fixtures have a European feel which was a plus because the Europeans sure know how to make quality fixtures. The only drawback would be using the toilet if you weighed like 300 lbs. or something. It's very small and the confines are rather tight.
Our room was right behind guest services which was a blessing because we were only one or two floors away from all of the fun. You'll spend most of your time on Decks 8, 9, 10 & 11. We were on 7 so that worked out well. I felt sorry for the people way down on Deck 4. Also the Veranda Deck seemed like it would be really hard to get to. Our kids were in an inside room which was one floor down and about about ten doors away (took like 20 seconds to walk to thier room).
All in all, either this ship had a major renovation recently or it has just been that well cared for over the years. I'm not sure which one.
We visited Catalina which was fun. Rented a golf cart to tour the Island. Don't rent the $60/hr. carts. When you get of the boat, go to the left and go to the last place that has golf carts. $40/hr. Nice people and the best deal. They give you a map telling you where to go, very scenic route!
Just stay on the ship when you arrive in Ensenada. Nothing special in Mexico to see or do unless you like to watch water come out of a hole, No Thanks! Been there, done that and I especially don't like the feeling of having ALL rights stripped away from me just by going through a turnstile. Too many horror stories from down there. Keep you and your family safe, It's simply NOT WORTH IT. We stayed on the ship and had almost the whole thing to ourselves with everyone being gone. It was nice not having to get around all of the old people. Seriously, they actually get on an elevator to go down one floor instead of using the stairs which are right there. Or they will be walking down a hallway and simply stop in front of you and just stand there. It's all very funny.
Our kids had a blast! They're boys of 12, 15 & 17. They didn't really use the kid clubs because there just weren't that many kids on the cruise probably because of the time of year as most kids were just getting back to school after the Christmas Break. They had plenty of fun just doing their own thing and the scheduled activities. Bring two-way radios. I had read blogs where people said they didn't work but ours worked awesome. Several floors away and from the front to the back of the ship.
Debarkation was a breeze (very depressing though as we didn't want to leave). Carry your own luggage off. Otherwise you need to turn your bags over to the porters by 11pm the evening before.
I would definitely sail with Carnival again!!
I read alot of reviews before this cruise so we would be prepared. I'm not sure why people would write a bad review of this cruise. Then it dawned on me....Some people just aren't happy and no matter how great the situation they just can't be pleased. I feel sorry for them. Seems like most of the people who had issues with their cruise were because of something stupid that they did on their own accord and for whatever reason expected Carnival to make it all better.
Embrace your time on this cruise and do as many activities as you can, trust me, you'll have a great time!
Great job Carnival!
This was a second chance for Carnival, after the terrible 4-day cruise we did in 2003 on the Ecstasy. We said we would never take CCL again. We had heard that the line had made many positive changes in the food and service in the past few years. So we got a great deal from our travel club and gave them a 2nd chance.
Embarkation was smooth enough, with some waiting in lines there in the port in San Diego. Other than that it was fine. Cabins were ready at 1:30 pm.
The ship was in much better shape as far as upkeep than was the case with the last ship. The Fantasy class ships will be around a long time.
The crew was much better than the last voyage also, not a single negative look or comment. And unlike the Ecstasy in '03 every crew member had a hello and a happy greeting if eye contact was made, and even sometimes when no eye contact was made. That was a great improvement. I do have to sympathize with cruise crew folks though. It must be hard to stay positive withsome of the folks they have to deal with. Always there are a few passengers on the Fun Ships that ruin the moment all to often as they make drunken fools of themselves, which has not been as bad on the HAL, RCCL, and Celebrity cruises we have taken.
The food in both the main dining rooms and the informal buffet was really much better than in 2003. The pizza was not that good for my family. The goat cheese we do not like at all. The grill burgers were good. The fries and onion rings you better get just as soon as they are out of the grease as possible. Not good at all if they sit for a while. The one thing in the buffet that was bad is the running out of coffee in the morning rush times -- lots of grumbling folks then on more than a couple of mornings.
The cruise this trip for the Elation was a one only six day trip that included ports of call: Cabo, La Paz and Ensenada, having been to all but La Paz before we tried this trip. La Paz city is so far from the place where the ships dock that it is a real problem. So really you are pretty much tied into taking an excusion with the ship and this was the very first time we paid for a port trip with a cruise ship. The snorkeling with the Los Islotes sea lions was amazing, and worth the cost we paid. But the worst thing anyone can do is use a snorkel from another source than your very own. So many people get sick from the badly cleaned snorkels, and even the water used is suspect for GI viruses. Take your OWN snorkle people, period! Oh and don`t try to get too close to the male sea lions. Also do not touch a reef in any manner. Some idiots actually stand on them to get a breather or adjust their masks. You are the reason half the reefs are dying -- well along with global warming and sewage flow into the oceans.
We did our own excusion in Cabo san Lucas. We spent $51US only to snorkel for 4-1/2 hours in Chileano Bay, and we watched eight cruise tour boats come and go during our stay. Forty-five minutes to an hour of snorkeling just is a ripoff for a snorkle dive. The beach is free and taxi was 44 bucks for the three of us back and forth to the ship. My son Sean (13) will remember this trip for the snorkeling we did here. He said this was the best part of the whole cruise. This was Sean`s fifth cruise to date with us.The ship was fine, the food was good, and the ports were great. The only thing we would change if we could is some of the people that take Carnival cruises. Really disappointing the few that screw up things for the rest. With not having nearly as many of these types on the other cruise lines, we will stear clear of Carnival. Or maybe the more expensive, longer trips with the larger ships will be better. It will be a few years from now, but we might try that plan.
For sure a cruise is the best holiday you can take for the money you spend. You unpack once and you always come back to the ship for meals. You can even take a sandwich off the ship for lunch. Why not? So do it people, take a cruise.
This was our third long, 11-nights, cruise with NCL. We have cruised with the Dawn in Western Caribbean and the Wind around Hawaii before.
Pre cruise: We have been in London many times before so we went there just two days before our cruise. The hotel we stayed at was Days Inn Westminster and the standard on that is lower than we normally choose but this time the location of the hotel was the most important thing, we wanted to stay close to Victoria Station, and it was okay.
On the day of the cruise we took a train from Victoria to Dover and we arrived in Dover around 10.30. We took a cab from the train station and arrived at the terminal just before 11.
Embarkation: We used the Latitudes check-inn but there were no lines anywhere so that made no difference. The ship wasn't ready for embarkation so we had to wait for a short while but we were on the ship before noon. We got the bubbly welcome, ate lunch on The Great Outdoors and drank a glass of Taittinger on Magnum's before they announced that the cabins wereready, 1.30.
We had an BA Balcony Stateroom on deck 10, number 10034. The cabin is located close to the stairs in the front of the ship and that location was good for us. The cabin isn't very big but it's okay and we had enough room for our things. The bathroom was very nice, small of course! We really loved the bed, it was so comfortable, and whatever they have done to the beds, Freestyle 2.0 rules when it comes to the beds! The balcony wasn't used very much on this cruise but every second on it counts and in my opinion, it's worth to pay extra for a balcony.
The restaurants and the food:
We ate at Tsar's Palace, Azura, Le Bistro, Blue Lagoon, Cagney's, Mama's and Garden Café.
Tsar's Palace and Azura are the main restaurants and all the food we had there was very good. We liked the interior in Tsar's Palace more than in Azura but the service and the food (obviously since they have the same menu and the food is from the same kitchen) was equal. We also had breakfast at Tsar's a few times and that was very good too.
Le Bistro, great service and great food! We ate at Le Bistro twice and I can definitely recommend it to everyone. The second time I had Moules Anisette (steamed clams) as starter and Crème Brule as dessert and both were great. We also liked our waitress, Svitlana from Ukraine, very much.
We didn't liked the Blue Lagoon on the Dawn but this was very nice, the interior, the food and the service. Fish & Chips for lunch there was very nice.
Cagney's had the best the dessert I ever has eaten, Cagney's Banana Foster Flambé, and that alone was worth the extra 20$!
Mama's had very good pasta but the Cannoli I had for dessert there was one of very few things I didn't really liked on the ship. It was nothing wrong with it, I just didn't liked it!
Garden Café had a very large selection of dishes and the breakfast there was much better than the breakfast in Garden Café on the Dawn. As for the quality on the food served as lunch and dinner, it was okay but not much more. Buffet food is seldom great but sometimes it's nice to avoid all the attention you get in the other restaurants and then it's okay that the food isn't 100% perfect!
(we ate at The Great Outdoors too but I don't consider that to be a separate restaurant, it's more like a part of Garden Café)
Our overall opinion about the food is that it was better now then on our previous NCL-cruises. Because of Freestyle 2.0?
The bars and the beverages:
Magnum's Champagne & wine bar, Shaker's Martini & cocktail bar and Maltings beer and whiskey bar were located together in something they called Bar city. They were all nice to sit in and have a drink and look at all people passing by. We did liked Pearly Kings on the Dawn better than Maltings, because we just love an English pub!
Star bar was one of our favourites on the Dawn but we didn't really liked it on the Jewel. The second evening we ordered a drink which we had ordered on Spinnaker lounge the evening before and it was far from the same standard. It was messy and they also tried to charge us for a souvenir drink, I told them when I ordered it that I wanted a regular drink and not a souvenir drink. They apologized and it was no problem to pay the correct price but I guess they had ruined the magic, we didn't went there again! The Spinnaker lounge was the best place to get a drink, especially in the evening when 60280 played/singed.
The selection of drinks was good but we missed the beer menu they had on the Dawn with more than 40 kinds of beer. We don't know how many kinds of beer they had on the Jewel since we never saw a beer menu. Maltings had a menu with lots of whiskeys but not a menu with beer.
We also didn't liked that they didn't had the cheapest Champagne they had in the menu. The cheapest Champagne they had by the glass was Taittinger for a little more than $15. Taittinger is one of our favourites and we had it a few times but they should have had something around $10 too. A regular cocktail costed around $7,50 and a little more simple, for example a Gin & Tonic (a favourite for us) costed around $6.
As for wine we ordered NCLs anniversary wine for $34,50/bottle a few times and that was okay.
Entertainment: We didn't really liked any of the "big" shows we saw in Stardust, the theatre. We loved 60280 which played in Spinnaker every evening and we also loved Izabella Zebrowska a violinist we saw in Spinnaker. (She also played in Stardust but we missed that, unfortunately)
Overall we thought that the entertainment had been better before but maybe that's just our personal taste.
The ship stopped in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Reykjavik, Iceland, St. John's, New Foundland and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
We tendered in Lerwick, no problems with that. In Reykjavik the ship docked rather far from the town centre but NCL had a shuttle bus to the centre, I think the cost was $5 one way.
We liked all the ports and had excursions booked with NCL in Lerwick, Reykjavik and Halifax. The cost for a excursion booked through the ship is higher but in all nontendering ports we saw buses come late to the ship, since they were NCL-booked tours the ship waited for them, otherwise they might have missed the ship…. The total cost for our vacation was around $10000 so if we paid a few dollars extra to bath in the Blue Lagoon that's really no problem!
What could have been better?:
The weather! It's not NCLs fault and we knew when we booked the cruise that the weather on the Atlantic ocean can be bad in September but it was a little too windy some days! The movement didn't bothered me much but there was a lots of strange noises because of the wind!
One evening we had a very loud noise in our cabin and it took almost two hours before someone fixed it for us. I went to the reception twice and called once before anyone came. The problem was that the door didn't closed properly and they "fixed" it with a wooden stick!
They were less pushy trying to sell drinks than they have been before, good. Sometimes we even had to ask for the wine list at dinner, not so good!
I don't like that every time you order a drink, you have to specify that you don't want a souvenir glass, of course it should be the other way! If I ever become a real VIP, like booking a Garden Villa or cruising with them for the 100th time, I will talk to the captain and tell him that every time they try to sell me a souvenir drink without asking me first, I will drink it but not pay for it!
Less "free" sparkling wine than before! On our previous cruises they have given away sparkling wine on the formal night (which they now just call "dress up or not", not good either) and they didn't now. At many kinds of presentations they have served sparkling wine before and now they first had the presentation and afterwards they might serve sparkling wine, sometimes in the shop after the presentation. I understand why they do it that way but I don't like it!
Maybe six seadays was a little too much when the weather wasn't very good but it's not very easy to find any port to add on the Atlantic ocean!
Post cruise: Debarkation in New York was very quick and less than half an hour after we left the ship we sat in a cab on our way to the airport.
It's always easy to check in at the airport when flying with British Airways, the worlds best airline! Our plane left JFK almost two hours late so we missed our connection to Stockholm at Heathrow so we had to wait there for a few hours before we could fly home.
Our overall experience was great! The ship was great, the crew was great, the food was great and the ports were great! Some things have been better before but some things were better now.
We can absolutely recommend NCL to anyone and the Norwegian Jewel is a great ship.
Wish I could give negative stars.
The cruise itself was okay, but the cruise line owes us money and will not pay.
They also recommended us to a Cabo SNUBA company that seems to have helped itself to what was in our wallets.