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Some good some bad
Publication Date: February 16, 2015

My wife and I traveled on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas from February 2 to 13, 2015. This was our first cruise on Royal Caribbean. We have previously sailed on Carnival, Princess, Norwegian, and Celebrity. The Quantum of the Seas is a new ship with many new innovations. Since the cruise left from Bayonne, NJ, we were able to avoid the hassle of a plane flight. There were things that we liked about the ship and other things that we did not like. I will begin with some general statements and then give a daily log of activities and experiences.

Let me begin with the positives. The boarding and unboarding procedures were handled well by Royal Caribbean.

We liked our balcony stateroom as it had plenty of room and there was more storage space than we had ever seen on a cruise ship stateroom. The bathroom light had a special feature that went automatically to a night light when it was turned off. This feature was very much appreciated by those of us who get up during the night to use the bathroom. The circular shower was nice and somehow provided

almost instant hot water. Our cabin steward, Herman, was excellent.

We found the Dynamic Dining in the complimentary restaurants to be a pleasant experience. The food was excellent and the wait staff very good. Fortunately for us, we had all our dinner reservations made prior to cruising at a time each night that was agreeable to us. The wait staff used small Ipads to enter your order and it was automatically sent to the kitchen making the process very efficient.

Those passengers who waited to make dining reservations would likely have a different take on the Dynamic Dining. . On nights when we had show reservations we simply told the wait staff and they speeded up our dining to get us out on time. Also, Royal Caribbean had a least one restaurant open for a sit down breakfast and lunch which we took advantage of a few times.

Royal Caribbean issued both a traditional seapass card but also had a rubber wristband that looked like a watch which could be used just like a seapass. This was a nice feature for the ship; however, the wristband could not be used when going ashore. Each of the five stops had a dock which meant we never had to ride on a tender. That was really nice. When returning to the ship after having gone ashore, Royal Caribbean staff provided ice towels and ice water on the dock for those who wanted it. This was nice especially when returning from the beach.

The shows provided in the evening were all very good. My wife and I went to the ship's gym all days that we were at sea. It was a big gym with lots of equipment. It was a good idea that the ship had both an outdoor and indoor pool as there were a few days too cold for outdoor swimming. Of all our cruises, this cruise had the least amount of intrusive photographers wanting to take your picture. Also, there was absolutely no pressure to get you to buy alcoholic drinks.

There were some negatives as well. We would have liked the opportunity to have a show every night. This was not possible as the same show was offered for two nights leaving us without anything to do on several nights. Also, we did not like the fact that you had to have a reservation for each of the shows. Fortunately, we booked our shows immediately after boarding the ship. Also, we were required to get to the show at least 15 minutes before the start or our seat would be given to those waiting in line that did not have a reservation.

Whoever designed the Royal Theater in the Quantum did a poor job. The lower row of seats did not rise making it difficult to see wherever you sat. The second tier and balcony seats were better but there were poles that obstructed your few. Also, they made one long row instead of putting another aisle in making it difficult to get to some seats. The air conditioning system was poorly designed. Blowers were on the back of each seat but the air didn't hit you in your seat making it very warm for each show.

Speaking of warm, the ship's gym was way to warm for exercising. They need to have that area much cooler than the other parts of the ship. We felt the ship needed many more shipboard activities for the passengers, especially on the days at sea. The outdoor pool had a big screen for movies but only showed movies occasionally. The televisions in the staterooms had a very poor selection of channels as most of the channels were programs put on by the ship. The ship had a large number of passengers making for a lot of congestion in the public areas and getting an elevator.

The Windjammer, which is the ships buffet area, had a decent selection of items but the quality was just okay. The staff was a little too efficient as on two occasions stuff was removed when I went back to the buffet. On one occasion they threw my medication away. The complimentary dining rooms did not offer enough soup choices. On the days we were docked they did not open any of the eating areas for lunch except the buffet.

The specialty restaurants were okay but a little pricey. (I will address this issue later). We were promised a ship board credit for booking three specialty restaurants but the amount that we received was less than promised. When we complained at guest services we were told there was nothing they could do because of their computer system.

Room service was not good. My wife, like many passengers, likes room service for breakfast. The room service breakfast menu was weak. Coffee, juice, cereal, and pastry were about it. Other items had a charge. There was an issue with some food items running out before the cruise was over. Also there was some inconsistency in the preparing of some dishes over the course of the cruise. This has never happened to us before on a cruise.

Finally, there was too much preferential treatment of certain passengers. One dining room, the Coastal Kitchen, was only available to suite customers and some of the passengers got priority use of the elevators. Finally, I wish the ship would have put their clocks one hour ahead when we were visiting the islands to correspond to their time. Being one hour behind caused the passengers a lot of confusion.

Following is a daily log of our activities:

Day 1: We boarded the ship and it went smoothly. We went directly to the area to make show reservations and got that done. Food was available as soon as we entered the ship. We boarded very early but only had to wait about a half hour to get into our staterooms. We had dinner at the Grande Restaurant. The dinner was very good including lobster tail and beef tenderloin. I recommend the shrimp cocktail for an appetizer. We saw the ship's comedian that night and he was very funny. I am sorry that I can't remember his name.

Day 2: At sea. I had breakfast at the Windjammer which I would have most mornings. I took coffee and food back to our room for my wife since the room service menu wasn't agreeable. We had lunch at the Cafe Two70. I had the best toasted cheese sandwich that I have ever eaten there. Unfortunately, when I got the same sandwich later in the week, it was made completely different and tasted awful. We had supper at Chops Grille which cost $35 each. We were excited because their menu on line offered dry aged steaks and whole Maine lobster. However, when we got the menu, the dry aged steaks were$18 and $20 more. The lobster was $21 more. We then decided that we would get two entrees instead but were told a second entree would be $10 more. This was interesting because I got two entrees several times in the complimentary restaurants with no extra charge. I will say that the filet mignon that I was served was as a good a steak as I have ever eaten. I could cut it with my fork. The shrimp in the colossal shrimp cocktail were the biggest that I have ever eaten. However, the issue with the extra fees annoyed us. There was no show for us to attend in the evening.

Day 3: At sea. We were able to use the outdoor pool today. We also rode on the North Star which took us 300 feet above the ocean. We attended trivia at the Schooner bar. Dinner was at the American Icon Restaurant and it was good. We attended the premier show which is Mama Mia. It was two hours long and we enjoyed it.

Day 4: The ship stopped at their private island in Labadee, Haiti. The beach was a bit of a disappointment as the water is cloudy and there are tons of corral and shells that you have to walk on. A lot of people kept shoes on to go into the water. The barbeque lunch that was served was not bad. They gave us a tent like structure and beach chairs. Some of the native people work the beach and one nice fellow found us a good spot, set our stuff up with no charge but I did give him a tip. There was a shopping area that apparently Royal Caribbean set up but behind that was an area with numerous native Haitian vendors. Most people would say the stuff was junk but we enjoyed the experience and the people were very friendly but aggressive but very willing to bargain with you. I don't think we ever felt so good about buying junk. We knew how much these people appreciated the business. We had dinner at Chic Restaurant and it was very good. I recommend the smoked mozzarella ravioli for an appetizer. We booked the show at Cafe Two 70. It was a bit of a disappointment from what we saw advertized but the acrobatic performers were good. I recommend a balcony seat as many of the performers are elevated up to the ceiling. An extra show was added at the Royal Theater which was announced at the conclusion of the performance at Two 70. We went right over to the performance. The performer was named Jeff Tracka and he was excellent. He was an impressionist who did both singing impressions and regular impressions.

Day 5: The ship stopped at San Juan. We didn't leave the ship until 2:30 so we were able to eat lunch in the American Icon restaurant and it was very good. They had a salad line that you can go through and the attendants make the salad for you. They have every possible ingredient that you could ever want to put in a salad. We did the Carabela Horseback Riding excursion. It took almost an hour to get to the rain forest but got a nice tour of the area on the way. It took a long time to get everyone mounted but we spent a good two hours on horseback. The excursion advertised a swimming in the river. We decided to not wear our bathing suits and we were glad because the river wasn't much and it was almost dark when we stopped. The downside of the excursion was that we rode our horses the last 45 minutes in darkness. The horses knew their way but it still made us nervous not being able to see the trail. When we returned to the ship we ate at Silk Restaurant. It was our least favorite complimentary restaurant. It was supposed to be Asian fare but it was a disappointment. The appetizers weren't too bad but the entrees were nothing special. This is the only restaurant we ate at only once because we didn't like it. There was no show available for us that night.

Day 6: The ship stopped at St. Thomas. We went shopping in the morning and went to Megan's Bay in the afternoon. Megan's Bay is as beautiful a beach as we have ever seen. The trip there and back by taxi was quite expensive. It cost $8 per person one way and $4 a person to get into the beach. The workers at Megan's Bay were the rudest people we encountered on our entire trip. It cost $7 to rent a beach chair. You have to give them $12 and then they give you $5 back when you return the chair. The rude workers don't touch the chairs. You have to carry it to your spot and bring it back. I am guessing the workers know what a drawing card Megan's Bay is and couldn't care less about pleasing their customers. We had dinner again at the Grande Restaurant. The evening's entertainment was a singer named Tony Tillman and he was both a good singer and funny.

Day 7: The ship stopped at St. Kitts. We went on a morning excursion called Safari Zipline. The ride to the tropical rain forest included a tour of the island. The excursion included instruction in how to use the zipline and a practice run. We then took and rough truck ride to the top of the mountain and took 4 different ziplines through the rain forest to get to the bottom. It was a great time for both of us. In the afternoon we went shopping. A word of caution in St. Kitts: Be wary of the "monkey men." These guys carry these cute little monkeys and let them sit on your head or shoulders. They then ask if you want them to take your picture with your camera. After taking the picture they demand $10 for each person they photographed. We didn't fall for the scam but knew some fellow travelers who did. We had dinner at Jaime's Italian Restaurant. This specialty restaurant costs $25 per person. It was good but not really worth the cost. The menu had a wide selection and there was not any surprise extra costs like Chops Grill. However, Jaime's was the only restaurant that did not serve complimentary ice tea. We ate a lot of food. The "planks" were quite good. I would recommend the pasta and clams dish if you like clams. There was no show available for us that night.

Day 8: The shipped stopped at St. Maarten. We purchased the Beach Rendezvous excursion. We rode a bus from the Dutch side of the island to the French side. The trip included a guided tour of the island. We went to Orient Beach. They gave us lounge chairs and a rum punch drink. The umbrella was reasonably priced at $3. There was quite a bit of seaweed on the beach and many local vendors but it was a nice beach. The lunch provided was surprisingly good and we had three lunch choices and had a waiter. A drink was included with several mixed drinks and beer options with no extra charge. This was the most reasonably price excursion of the cruise. A word of caution about Orient Beach would be that nude bathing is allowed. We did see several topless women, but fortunately nothing worse than that. We had dinner at Chic Restaurant again that evening. No shows were available for us that night.

Day 9: At sea. We had lunch at the American Icon restaurant again. We went to the iFly which is a sky diving simulator. They give you instruction and then you get to use the simulator. The instructor stays in with you so you don't have to worry about an accident. My wife did a better job free flying than me because I was too tense. However, we both enjoyed the experience. One note is that there is a weight limit and this was real disappointment for some who were told that they were too heavy. We had our third dinner at the Grande Restaurant. The show tonight was a combination music and comedy duo called John Joseph and Johnny B. They were okay but not as entertaining as the other shows we saw. Unfortunately, as the day progress our weather started to deteriorate.

Day 10: At sea. The ocean turned angry and the waves got big. The Captain, fortunately, changed his route up the east coast which helped some but the ship was still rocking. Some of the passengers got seasick and some of the older travelers had trouble with their balance. My wife and I were not affected too much by it. They closed all of the outdoor activities including the indoor pool because the wind was really bad. Today we decided to try a sit down breakfast at the American Icon Restaurant. I had the banana pancakes and my wife had a southwest egg dish with fried eggs and some spicy sides. We both really enjoyed our selections. Also, the restaurant also had a full breakfast buffet if you wanted to add anything else to you plate. We had dinner at Jaime's Italian Restaurant again. There was not show available for that night.

Day 11: At sea. We went back to the American Icon for breakfast again. We did the bumper cars which were a lot of fun. We had hoped to do the climbing wall but it was closed due to high winds. We had dinner at American Icon and were presently surprised when they had a menu supplement that included grilled lobster tails with butter. It was a great last night meal. We went to Sonic Odyssey and it was a very unusual musical and dance performance. It was arguably the best show as we saw all week. The dinner and show put a nice ending on the cruise.

Getting off the ship went smoothly until we had to walk outside into the single digit temperatures in New Jersey. In general we were happy with the cruise. The last three days at sea were not as exciting. The food was as good as we have ever had on a cruise. The evening shows, although not enough, were all good with some better than others. We did observe that many of the passengers on the cruise were Royal Caribbean veterans who did not seem happy with the cruise stating that it was not "up to Royal Caribbean standards." Since we had no prior Royal Caribbean experience we can't comment on that aspect. We would certainly consider traveling on Royal Caribbean again, but we cannot say that it was superior to some of the other

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Best of the Best
Publication Date: February 10, 2015

My wife and I recent sailed on the Regatta from Miami to Lima. It was not our first cruise but our first on Oceania and our most enjoyable. The food was outstanding, the service impeccable, and fellow travelers congenial. I must single out the cruise director, Ray Michaels, for his charisma and outstanding communication skills. The super bowl show was real fun and the religious services conducted by Mr. Michaels was stirring. I would also like to comment on the excellent sound system in the Regatta Lounge. I have difficulty hearing and certainly appreciated the outstanding sound system. I would have rated this a "5" except for the stingy drinks and warm glasses. A small but important issue.

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Publication Date: February 8, 2015

Wife and I stayed at the Hilton garden inn cruise port/airport hotel in dania ,beach fl. the day before our cruise. We had breakfastthe day of the cruise at burger king next door. For 10 dollars a person we used the hotel shuttle to port everglades to cruise on the carnival freedom. Nice hotel, we will stay here for our next cruise out of ft. Lauderdale. The cruise was our 7 th cruise with Carnival since 1999.

Freedom was a great name for this cruise because that is the way we felt during this vacation.

Starting with our cabin 1051 on the panorama deck, the balcony view was great for taking pics when coming into a port, Plenty of storage space in the closet and under the bed for 3 full suitcases. The room attendant cleaned out the mini-fridge so we could store our soda and liquor supplies. The room along with the bathroom was big enough for DW and I to share on this cruise. We cruised on the Conquest last year and having the Serenity adult only retreat available on this cruise was a added plus, as we are

early risers we were able to use a lot of the ships facilities without felling rushed or crowded.

The DW and I really enjoyed the food on this cruise.

Took a taxi tour of st. maarten around the island which made for a fun day. The next day DW and I took the st. kitts scenic railroad tour around the island, this was a very fun and informative way to spend a day on st kitt. The next day was at san juan ,we just walked around downtown in and out of several stores before stopping in the Sheraton for a little casino time. Last but not least grand turk was probably DW favorite stop. Took a taxi tour of this small island, then went to the beach bar were DW and I shared a plate full of jerk pork prepared outside of the bar, GREAT DISH!!.

As on past cruises DW and I met and hung out with several of our fellow cruisers. Bruno and Brenda we really had a great time with you guys. DW and I had so much FUN on this cruise, Thanks CARNIVAL for another great vacation. Another carnival cruise in 2017 lord willing.

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