Cruise Review

The Telegraph reviews Splendour of the Seas


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


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


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


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


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.