Cruise Review

The Telegraph reviews Splendour of the Seas

In:
09Aug2012

The UK newspaper, The Telegraph, recently sent Jane Archer to review Splendour of the Seas after her $53 million revitalization.  Splendour is currently offering seven-night sailings around the Greek islands and Turkey, from Venice through November.

In terms of the new changes to Splendour, Archer thought the money spent helped give the ship new life but thinks, "a few more million should have been directed at paintwork and glass, which were looking very shabby in places."

In addition, the Centrum was retrofitted and given a new role but Archer wasn't that impressed, "As part of the refit, the atrium was renamed Centrum and given a new role as an entertainment area with girders installed above from which aerialists could perform. It has potential but the one show I saw during a seven-night cruise was most disappointing and over in a flash."

Archer also reported that the newly refurbished staterooms do offer new furnishings but the promise of an iPad in every stateroom has thus far only made into the suites onboard.

A look at Voyager of the Seas in Asia

In:
04Jul2012

Voyager of the Seas has been in Asia for a few weeks and there's definitely a lot of enthusiasm about a ship that large in the area.  Nelia Neri of the Philippines had the opportunity to sail on her after first sailing on her back in 1999 and shared her experience.

The author decided to make this a family trip, which included 38 people and boarded the cruise in Singapore for a five-day cruise to Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Phuket.

Family bonding was the name of the game during the cruise. Everyone would meet at the Windjammer Cafe for breakfast and then get off the ship for sightseeing and to have lunch in a resto serving the typical food of the place. Dinner time found all of us on three adjoining tables at the Carmen dining room planning the next day’s sked.

The cruise seems to have rekindled the sort of memories from the author's first cruise on Voyager and it sounded like all 38 people really enjoyed their time aboard.

Just as my late parents happily announced to relatives and friends that our 60th anniversary gift to them of a Caribbean cruise was a gift like no other, our four sons, two daughters-in-law and six grandchildren gratefully proclaimed that the Spice of Asia cruise on board the Voyager of the Seas was a vacation treat like no other.

First time cruiser reviews Royal Caribbean

In:
20Dec2011

Lots of people are hesitant to try a cruise but Michael van Baker tried out a Caribbean cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas out of Puerto Rico and decided to share his thoughts.

On why he's trying a cruise now, van Baker seems to finally have given into the idea, "The people I know just don’t go on cruises, unless they have an excuse: visiting relatives, hip destinations, all-you-can-drink offers. But when I was casting about for ways to beat Seattle’s December gloom, the prospect of a Caribbean cruise seemed worth considering."

The seven night cruise sailed out of Puerto Rico and visited Grenada, Dominica, Antigua, St. Croix, and St. Thomas.

Once onboard, van Baker was surprised by his room size, "The first surprise was the size of the stateroom–I had been on enough boats not to expect a majestic expanse, but the balcony stateroom managed to feel positively roomy."

van Baker did note that Serenade, which is going for a refurbishment in 2012, is showing her age, "The stateroom TV wasn’t a flat panel, but a tubed variety, sporting a distinctive green cast across the bottom third from years of use. (The projector in the ship’s cinema was also worn or in need of maintenance. There are parts of Thor I can’t describe to you because they were a muddy haze–which, of course, is both a plus and a minus.)"

You can read more of van Bakers thoughts on his full report.

British writer tries out Oasis of the Seas

In:
14Sep2011

British new site BurtonMail sent one of their writers to Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas to see what all the hype is about.

The writer had concerns about cruising during hurricane season, but the temptation of being on the second largest cruise ship in the world was too much, "Well we put our fears to the wind and took the leap — to discover scorching temperatures and some of the most beautiful ports of call we have experienced."

The size of the ship seemed to really capture their imagination as well, "Without a doubt, if you are a first time cruiser you will be blown away by the enormity of this 5,400 passenger vessel which is 213ft high from the waterline and 1,187ft long."

They did manage to compare Oasis of the Seas to Independence of the Seas, a Freedom-class ship based in the United Kingdom that they are familiar with.

Firstly the non-specialised restaurants on the Oasis have a limited selection. The buffet style cafe — the Windjammer —offers far less menu choices than the same-named venue on the Independence.

Plus you can’t help but notice where the Independence of the Seas blueprint has pretty much been recreated bolt by bolt in some areas — it’s a case of spot the difference at some venues between the Independence and the Oasis.

A few cost-cutting measures are also sneaking in much to the annoyance of Royal Caribbean’s faithful following. For example the DVD of your cruise is widely advertised as the way of keeping your cruise memories alive, but it’s only when you get it home you realize that what used to be a personalized offering of footage shot during your cruise is now just a one cut suits all DVD filled with ship documentaries.

These niggles in no way detract from an amazing ship but past customers do notice these changes.

Cruise review of Grandeur of the Seas in Spain

In:
16Aug2011

The Yorkshire Evening Post sent writer Rod McPhee on a seven night cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas to take a look at how good an offering this cruise is. McPhee was looking to erase the notion that cruises are "the preserve of old couples and newlyweds, or perhaps husbands and wives who suddenly find they’ve some spare cash now the kids have grown up".

His seven night cruise departed from Mallorca and visited Barcelona, Ibiza, Malaga and Gibraltar before returning to Palma.

McPhee found himself impressed by Grandeur of the Seas and all that it had to offer, "Even though it’s not Royal Caribbean’s biggest vessel it boasts a huge array of rooms, ranging from inside staterooms without windows to large suites with balconies.  Of an evening you can spend time wandering from one end of the boat to the other, either as an observer or a participant."

Of all the port stops McPhee made, he found Malaga to be the most surprising and his favorite, "Malaga is the biggest surprise. Though not as famous as other destinations in the corner of the Mediterranean, it is a city with an authentic atmosphere. Yes, there are many tourist attractions, such as the cathedral and coastline, but there is the sense that this place services the lifestyle of ordinary Spaniards, rather than holidaymakers."

Interestingly, McPhee (who is from the United Kingdom) was sure to point out some nuances of cruising that his readers should be aware of.

You will be expected to pay tips to crew, not just to your cabin cleaner but the head waiter, table waiter and deputy table waiter.

The management will send you letters in which they suggest how much each staff member should receive from each guest, per day and give you the chance to remunerate them by credit card.

There are no irons available for use. Instead you must pay the laundry team to press your clothing.

Also be aware of the fact that, if you’re coming from Britain, you’re likely to change your pounds into Euros only to discover that you’ll then lose more money by being forced to change your euros into the ship’s currency, which is US dollars.

Canadian review of Liberty of the Seas itinerary

In:
03Aug2011

Phil Reimer of Canada.com recently took a cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas on a Mediterranean itinerary and wrote about his experience onboard. The cruise was out of Barcelona, Spain and visited ports in France and Italy.

Reimer shared his advice for those visiting Toulon, France and what he enjoyed, "The best place to start in this city of 200,000 is at the La Rotonde fountain, next to a tourist office and with a choice of five roads in the roundabout. If you pick Le Cours Mirabeau, you will quickly run into Les Deux Garcons, a brasserie that dates back to 1792, where Cezanne was a regular and luminaries like Pablo Picasso, Edith Piaf and - I was told - Ernest Hemingway hung out."

In Villefranche, Reimer enjoyed the variety of offerings to be found here, "From this port on the Cote d'Azur, better-known places like Cannes, Nice, Antibes, and Monte Carlo are all within reach. The train and bus stations are 15 minutes from the ship. The bus cost one euro, and in 20 minutes, I was in the heart of Nice."

Once Liberty made her way to Italy, the port of Livorno offered Pisa and Florence and Reimer tried to do both but regreted that decision, "I chose to visit both, but hindsight tells me going straight to Florence would have been a better idea, given the limited time."

For their stop in Rome, Reimer shared his plan for how he tackled this famous city, "From cruise ships, you walk 15 minutes from the Civitavecchia port gate and take the regular train to Rome for nine euros (return). You can get off at Rome's Saint Pietro station and visit the Vatican City to start your tour, or you can stay on to Romo Termini, the main station. The ``hop-on, hop- off'' buses take you right from there to watch your history lessons come to life - and to enjoy."

Cruise review of Navigator of the Seas

In:
07Mar2011

The Palm Beach Post has posted a review of a recent cruise aboard Navigator of the Seas.  For those who are considering a cruise on Navigator, it might be a useful insight into this person's experience onboard.

Make no mistake, there are a lot of public rooms but its not like they are scattered all over the place on every deck. The Navigator hosts over 3,000 passengers. The age mix is good on Royal Caribbean. It seems to appeal to all age groups and is a good cruise line if say the entire family, Grandma through 1-year-olds, are traveling together. Granted a lot of the attractions are set more toward young families, there is something for everyone.

I have noticed over the years there are more and more extra charges on cruise ships. I think one day there will be a charge for food period. Your cabin costs this much and if you want the main dining it will be this much but if you want extra special dining that will be more……maybe, maybe not. It seems like they are slipping it in little by little and people accept it. Room service is very good and so far no charge. Most of the time it is fairly fast. If you have a balcony you can order breakfast and eat out there in your bathrobe.

You can read the entire review on the Palm Beach Post website.

Royal Caribbean a cruise line for the restless

In:
22Jan2011

The Sun Sentinel newspaper "profiled" the leading cruise lines and described who each cruise line is best for.  When it came to Royal Caribbean, the paper felt it was a great line for those that can't get enough onboard activities.

Super sports complexes at sea. More than just the young and the restless can enjoy this line's list of sports firsts: rock-climbing wall, surfing pool, ice-skating rink, bungee trampolines, boxing ring and a zip-line that soars high above the pool deck. With two sumo-size sister ships, the world's largest, the 252,000-ton Oasis, and Allure of the Seas, Royal Caribbean even has enough real estate for a suite of suites overlooking its "Central Park," a green space loaded with restaurants and a boardwalk.

Cruise guide labels Royal Caribbean's food as the worst

In:
18Oct2010

The Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships has labeled Royal Caribbean's food as the worst of the major cruise lines, giving it five out of ten stars for its cuisine.

Book author Douglas Ward was particularly harsh on Royal Caribbean's dining room, afternoon teas and wine lists as being the worst. He did concede that Oasis of the Seas managed to earn a rating of more than six out of 10 in only one category: informal dining/buffet.

Ward attributes the poor rating to Royal Caribbean's unwillingness to spend more for their food.  He cited guest complaints that the food didn't look or taste as good as the brochures promised and the meats tended to be cheaper cuts.  Other issues contributing to the lower score include lack of green vegetables, herbs or garnishes; the quality of pastry items; the choice of salt, pepper or olive oils; and a lack of fresh fish.

How did Royal Caribbean's competitors do?  Carnival Cruise Lines and Costa Cruises did not do much better, while Cunard, Celebrity and Princess Cruises earned the best marks.

A spokesman for RCI said the company was surprised by the results. "Customer satisfaction is our number one priority. We have a very robust customer feedback system that we measure our on-board experience through. Some 250,000 guests have completed the survey this year. Over 90 per cent have scored our on-board service as meeting or exceeding their expectations.
 
"While we respect Mr Ward as an expert in his field, his ratings reflect his own personal opinions and differ strongly from the feedback from our many millions of paying guests."

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