Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community

disneyfan1313

Members
  • Content Count

    83
  • Joined

About disneyfan1313

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    MCO

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. Wow. With stuff like this happening and being asked by at least one crew member on every cruise recently to rate them 10s, I have to imagine that RCCL just doesn’t care if they do these type of things.
  2. Thanks and we did! I do have another reply on this post waiting for moderator approval with info about each port if anyone is interested! Hopefully it will post soon.
  3. The Ports: Let me preface this by saying that we almost never book cruise ship tours. We find that it is almost always cheaper, easier and better to book things independently. Most ports on this tour were quite far away from the city center in industrial areas. Be prepared to either take a taxi, uber or shuttle to get where you need to go. RCCL did provide a “what to know in each port” at the beginning of the cruise but some ports didn’t have the best info. Stockholm: Embarkation was very easy and quick. We had flown in the day before so we came directly from our hotel to the port around 1pm. No lines, no issues at all. Uber is usable but wonky in Stockholm. We had some challenges getting an XL Uber a few times. The local taxi drivers seem to run both and may or may not come as quickly as you are used to back home. We visited the theme park Grona-Lund (wonderful!), the ABBA Museum (good if you are really into ABBA) and on the second day we did a boat tour (Under the Bridges of Stockholm) that we did as a walk up that was fine, but not as exciting or nice as some other boat tours we have done. Helsinki: We took a self-booked bus tour from the city center. It was fine and Helsinki is very nice, but I feel like I would have been able to get just as good a feel for the city by exploring by foot. We also visited the rock church which was very beautiful and worth going out of your way for. St. Petersburg (3 days with 2 overnights): Having two overnights was important for us because we knew that we wanted to see Moscow and also do a custom itinerary. We booked a private custom 3 day tour though TJ Travel and they were PHENOMENAL. We had two of the best guides that we have ever had anywhere in the world and they understood the unique destination requests of our group from the beginning and really did an awesome job catering to us. The minibuses they provided also had ridiculously fast wifi and bottled water. We would all book with them again in a heartbeat. Instead of going into details about our unique itin (we visited a Russian theme park!) I want to briefly go through what it was like going through Russian customs. We had just done Cuba last year and figured Russian customs and Cuba would be similar. We were wrong - Russia was very easy and RCCL had done their normal fear mongering to convince you to book one of their excursions. The first day is the longest to go through customs but we only waited 15 minutes or so. Some in our group were asked for Sea Pass card, some just passport but none were asked for any proof of tour booking. You get your passport stamp that first day along with a small visa “document” and then when you return to the ship that night they stamp the passport again and take that document. The other two days you simply show the passport, they look at the stamp and they let you through. Everyone we saw in line that first day had their tour documents out and we didn’t see customs look at anyones. That being said, they could change tomorrow and start asking for additional documents, etc… but I think this is a case of RCCL trying to push you into booking their own excursion. The port is *VERY* nice and has a great selection of merchandise in shops if you don’t feel comfortable shopping or don’t have time during your tours. What’s Russia like overall? Amazing. We all fell in love and can’t wait to return. Both St. Petersburg and Moscow feel like any one of the great cities in the world. We even went off the beaten path a few times and never felt unsafe, dirty, etc. If you have any stress about visiting Russia… don’t. Just do it - you won’t regret it. Tallin Estonia: This is the one port where we booked an RCCL shore excursion since we didn’t find a way to book it on our own. We did “the soviet experience” where we were taken around in an old style soviet era bus, shown propaganda, sung songs, etc. It was actually well done and a lot of fun even though it was a bit short at 2.5 hours. We also explored the “old town” of the city and had some fun wandering down small paths, geocaching, etc. Riga Latvia: In doing research ahead of time we had read about these huge food halls in old converted WW2 blimp hangars. It was about a 30 minute walk from the ship, but it was totally worth it! Amazing selection of food, things to look at and even a flea market outside. We would do this again in a heartbeat. We also explored the old town a bit as well. Visby Sweden: We were lucky enough to be in port during the week of their medieval festival and it was AMAZING! If you aren’t into renaissance fairs or this type of thing (as the rest of our group isn’t ) it was still fun to walk around a bit and try food, people watch, etc. After we walked around the festival for a bit we then walked through the small Visby streets, looked at the city walls, and historical building, etc. I could see this port not being quite as interesting if the festival wasn’t going on. Warnemunde Germany: This is the port that many use to go to Berlin, but taking a long bus ride each way with a short amount of time in the city didn’t appeal to us so we decided to just explore this cute little seaside german town. This is *VERY* much a touristy place with tons of toursity shops, restaurants, etc. It also has a real beach, a ferry right by the port you can use to go across to explore more of the area, a train stop right in port you can easily go to Rostock using, etc. I wouldn’t mind coming back and going to Rostock to explore more. Fredericia, Denmark: We rented a car at this port and drove to another awesome theme park, Djurs Sommerland. The car rental was especially convenient with Enterprise rent-a-car set up right as you exit the ship. This is another port where you could easily do anything the ship was offering for ½ the cost by renting a car right there. This port also had the local band welcome us and see us off with a cannon salute. It was super cute! Copenhagen, Denmark: We did Tivoli Gardens and loved it as always. The ship is ported VERY far from the city center and we saw very long lines at the bus terminal near the port so Taxi’s are probably your best option. Unfortunately Uber is no longer in Copenhagen due to the taxi unions so you can expect high rates and limited service. We struggled getting one on our “port” day there (we overnighted there before disembarking) because all the taxis were at the Norwegian ship that was disembarking for the high airport fares. Debarkation the next day was super easy with no customs or immigration to go through but taxis were once again a mess. This might be the one time booking the RCCL transfer to the airport might be wise if you had an early flight. Overall it was an amazing cruise, amazing itinerary and amazing staff. Can’t wait for our next cruise even though it won’t be quite as epic as this one!
  4. Last week we finished up an epic 13 night ultimate scandinavia - russia cruise on Serenade of the Seas and I thought I would put some of my thoughts down and answer any questions folks might have about the ship, traveling to Russia or anything on this itinerary. The Who: My wife and I are in our early 40s, DINKs and love cruising and traveling in general. We are pretty “loyal to Royal” and made Diamond after this cruise, but we have sailed on all the other major lines as well. We traveled with our friends who are Diamond Plus who travel very extensively and they have a child in their group as well. The Why: We wanted a unique and different itinerary and we really wanted to visit Russia! The Ship: We have sailed on all classes of ships and we really love the Radiance class. It seems like it is the perfect size for an itinerary like this. Serenade was in great condition with just the normal amount of wear and tear. Rita’s Cantina is permanently been made into “just a bar”, so I feel like it could use one more specialty restaurant. Cabin does feel a bit old fashioned after just having done Ovation, but outside of plugs near the beds it really is just fine. Service: We had just cruised on Ovation in Alaska about 6 weeks before and had *really* bad service throughout the entire ship (see my review here - https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2671153-thoughts-on-ovation-in-alaska-531-67-cruise/ ) so we were a bit worried about the service levels on this ship. We were pleasantly surprised on how great the service was! Almost every crew member we encountered in every department on every day was AWESOME and very focused on providing great service. This ship is really doing something right in many categories and other ships in the RCCL fleet should take notice. Internet: Once again we had just had *horrible* internet on Ovation, but this ship was fine. It was average cruise ship internet speed which is fine for basic posting of photos, low res video, etc. We did take advantage of AT&T international day pass service for $10 a day in each port to use our normal unlimited plan in each country. This worked with no issues except in Russia where it isn’t valid. There our friends used a mifi portable device and we just used the frequent wifi that we found. Food: Main dining room food and service has gone down so drastically over the past few years that we decided on our Ovation cruise to just do the unlimited dining plan and just stick to specialty restaurants. For this cruise we did the 5 day plan knowing that we would be off the ship in ports some days for dinner and we would just do Windjammer the other days. Windjammer has also been going down hill on our past few cruises so we didn’t have very high expectations. HOLY COW. Our low expectations of Windjammer were blown away. The quality of the food in Windjammer on this ship was insane. Interesting items every day that were cooked perfectly and were flavorful. Deserts which were decent and flavorful, action stations (like a burrata bar!) that we have never seen before. Theme nights which were well thought out and artfully presented. Just like service, whatever this ship is doing - others need to copy it. We also did Chops and Giovanni’s twice and Izumi once and all were very good with good food and service. The one negative with F&B was the main dining room. We made the mistake of going there on the sea day for lunch. Service was less attentive than the random bussers in Windjammer. Salad and “buffet” were a disaster with no one controlling the lines, guests pushing, etc. Food quality also wasn’t good - how was this the same team that did Windjammer and the Speciality restaurants. It simply solidified our feeling that we would avoid the main dining room whenever possible when we cruise. Oh… one more thing… probably the creepiest thing that has ever happened to us on a cruise. On the second to last night the head waiter for the main dining room section that we had been assigned to came to Chops to find us. We thought originally that he was just making sure we were OK, etc. Nope - he was coming to tell us that we should give the main dining room staff all 10s, that even though we didn’t eat there we should rate the food as a 10, etc. Then when we all must have given him odd looks he asked if we could send something to our stateroom to help out to ensure we rated him 10s… essentially trying to bribe us. It was a really ***** kinda moment.
  5. I’ve done it many times and many ports with water and soda and never had an issue. But as always, your mileage may vary with the ship you are on making up a policy, a security host having a bad day, etc.
  6. 1) You would (most likely) not be able to bring the scotch on at embarkation without it being confiscated. 2) Bringing it on from a port, having it confiscated and then hoping the genie can get it seems stressful and complicated both for you and the genie. 3) People in the service industry are happiest with cash tips. Even if they are being polite and smiling as they take your gift - they would prefer cash 100% of the time.
  7. Texts (through iMessage or another messaging app) should work with no issue. Pictures may take a very long time to go through, depending on location, but should go though eventually (some for us at some points wouldn’t go through till next day). Videos will probably not go through at all. With ATT, your phone will work normally at the Alaskan ports.
  8. Super easy! You bring it on your carry on and you keep it with you the whole time on the ship! No one questioned it at any point during initial embarkation or during the return to ship after ports. Biggest rule - don’t take it out while on board. That is grounds for immediate confiscation for the rest of the cruise. If you weren’t planning to already, make sure you try and research each port in advance to know where you can fly. Juneau (in theory) would be fine to fly around the port but had signs specifically saying no flying. Mendenhall glacier in the same port was 100% fine with no restrictions. Skagway you have to go a bit out of town to be out of the airport restriction zone, etc. hope that helps!
  9. Photo of the view from our stateroom is attached! And yes, mostly an issue looking down. The “hidden” Two70 access is great! At the end of the hall (going in the direction of Two70) is an unmarked double door that is pretty heavy. Pull it open and you are in the second floor of Two70! It is unmarked on the other side as well. It was always unlocked and no issues going through it during our entire cruise.
  10. It was a bit chaotic with the pier employees yelling at everyone, making up arbitrary rules on where you could stand that changed by the moment, etc. It’s manageable but just be prepared for the chaos.
  11. The check in inside the terminal was fine, it was everything outside that was a hot mess! We've had individual good and bad experiences on ships as well but they are usually isolated to one department or area, this unfortunately seemed to be a service issue with the entire ship. I'm sure you will have a wonderful cruise regardless!
  12. OMG. I forgot to touch on these two things. Fish and Ships was REALLY REALLY bad. I even got the "upcharge" better fish and it tasted really gross and oily. Fried candy bar was almost inedible - tasted like fish and super oily. The glacier day was a super big bummer. I remember how cool it was to be in the middle of all those chunks of ice on our last cruise and then how you saw them bring up a piece of ice and carve it later. No one on this cruise got that amazing experience or even close, and that is a bummer.
  13. We used Lyft after debarkation to a hotel very close to the airport and it was around $38 for a standard Lyft up to 4 people. LyftXL or UberXL for up to 6 was in high demand and close to double the cost. I would recommend checking both Uber and Lyft while in Seattle since the prices vary pretty wildly between them based on demand and area. Just use whichever is cheaper at the moment!
  14. I know there has been quite a bit of chatter about Ovation in Alaska and folks sailing later in the season have had a lot of questions, so I thought I would post some of my thoughts and experiences from our 7 day cruise that left on 5/31/19. Please feel free to ask any questions! Who was sailing: Our group had 14 people sailing together (not in one Stateroom 😉 ) from infant all the way up to senior. We had planned this for quite a while to celebrate a milestone birthday and most of the group has sailed RCCL a few times with about 1/2 the group being Diamond or above. My wife and I are in our early 40s and this is our second time sailing Alaska but our first time on a Quantum class ship. We will be Diamond on our next cruise this summer and have now sailed on every class of RCCL ship and have sailed on most major cruise lines. Most of our group (including us) live in the Orlando area. The Itinerary: This was a R/T sailing our of Seattle and after having done our last Alaskan cruise on a one way Vancouver to Seward itin, you can't help but miss doing Alaska that way. I'm not particularly a "nature" person, so Alaska once every 5 years or so is enough for me. That being said, if I was to do it again - it would have to be a one way itinerary... you just get so much more bang for your buck. Embarkation: Sailing out of a seasonal port is always hit or miss and this embarkation was a bit of a "miss". The ride share drop off and pick up area being 1/3 of a mile away from bag drop isn't great when a huge percentage of your guests are using that. Bag drop off was a complete hot mess - they were boarding a Celebrity ship at the same time and I would be shocked if there weren't quite a few bags dropped off in the wrong place. The main bag area was basically just a huge pile of luggage with no one around... no one to tip, no one to watch the bags... no one at all! This was just before noon - slightly earlier than we usually arrive. Then the line to get in the terminal was also complete chaos stretching way back into the bus loading area but since we dropped off our bags the person manning the line waved us into the line near the front... not one to argue but that shouldn't have happened. Once we got to the front of this line we realized it was just the passport and boarding pass check by the 3rd party security company which usually takes 2 seconds in Florida ports. Regular security and check in were fast enough since the line was all outside. Stateroom: We were originally in an inside stateroom, but I had done a minimum bid on an obstructed balcony ($200pp) and we won it about 5 days before the cruise! We were a little worried because our stateroom (6296) had some reviews that mentioned it being noisy. I even bought a white noise machine before the cruise because I am such a light sleeper. That being said we were VERY happy with our stateroom and had no noise issues at all! Love the layout of these quantum class cabins - so much storage, lots of plugs and plenty of room in the large bathroom. Our last few cruises were on older RCCL ships and this was a very nice surprise! We aren't picky with views - yeah it was obstructed but just having a balcony was really nice and when you are looking at mountains a lifeboat partially in the way doesn't really matter. The proximity to the hidden entrance of Two70 was HUGE. We used that tons to grab a snack at the cafe in Two70, get to Jamie's quicker, etc. I would book a stateroom in that area again in a heartbeat. Our stateroom attendant was fine - no issues but also really didn't see him at all. Kept the room clean and made an impressive towel animal of a cat, which was a first for me! Internet: OMG it was bad. We went into this cruise having read all of the reviews and expected it to not be great, but really had no idea how unusable it would be. With the surf and stream expect 1mbs-2mbs for the majority of your cruise with less than 1mbs upload. Twitter, basic email and messaging apps work, Facebook will kinda work unless you want to upload something or watch a video, Instagram really doesn't work at all for anything - even uploading a basic photo or watching stories. Want to stream something... HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA... good luck! This was by far the worst internet experience we have had in the last 10 (or so ) years of buying internet on cruises including the last time in Alaska. The Internet manger was *beyond* horrible to anyone in our group who went and complained, told people in our group that they were lying about speeds, refused to give any type of credit at all and it took 4 days of going to guest services to get a small credit back. With this all being said, I am not sure I would recommend just buying the "surf" package - it might throttle you even below the surf and stream people. Service In General: This is the first RCCL cruise where I felt almost the entire staff just didn't care. With the exception of the specialty dining rooms, everyone you encountered seemed apathetic to downright unhelpful. Everyone in my group felt this way and kept encountering different examples of it throughout the ship. It was really bizarre - not sure if many are at the end of their contract, if there were different expectations in Australia and Asia or if it is just the leadership of the ship not caring - but it was the first time I rated service on the ship as a 3 on the 10 point scale. Dining: We did the unlimited dining package and it was worth every penny. We got it during the Cyber Monday sale and it worked out to around $15pp per day which is awesome for the quality increase in the food. Service was great in all dining rooms (except Amber & Oak and when the manager of Izumi gave away our reserved table to another party and shrugged her shoulders), food was good everywhere as well. There was some confusion on if we could use it at the Amber & Oak pub for food (and a manager had to get involved) but they let us. Some in our party used it for "second dinner" sushi at Izumi each night after eating in a specialty dining room, so it really was "unlimited". Windjammer continues to go downhill, very few items for lunch (or second dinner) that were even remotely decent. I was hoping this was going to be slightly better than our last few cruises since it is a newer ship.. but nope. Entertainment: I enjoyed the Two70 show, Pixels and the other times the robo screens were used. The "Legs" show was also a bit above a normal cruise ship show and was entertaining (and not even remotely risque). I was bummed there was no Quest on this ship however. Trivia hosts were fine and the cover bands were really not good at all. Sports and Activities: I don't say this lightly, but some of the worst crew I have ever encountered on any ship on any line. The NorthStar was a complete cluster every time they ran it with tons of missinformation, closing early and then lying about it and crew that wouldn't even greet you or look at you when you boarded/rode. Anything going on in SeaPlex was a disaster with no attempt at crowd control, not even remotely enough times scheduled for demand and no attempt to be helpful or friendly. Really put a bad taste in our mouth every day we tried to do one of these activities. The Ship In General: I'll be honest... I am not sure I am a big fan of this class of ships. While it was in great repair, very clean and very "new", everything felt more like a high end hotel in Vegas and less like an RCCL ship. I would put it below Oasis and Freedom class if I was ranking them based on my personal preference. I really dislike that the ship seems to "close up shop" so early and there are venues that would be accessible on other ships 24hrs a day that are inaccessible on this ship. Want to play ping pong at after 11? SeaPlex is closed. Want to hang in the beautiful solarium and chat or play cards after 11? Solarium is closed. So many of the activities are also only accessible to a small portion of guests. iFly, SeaPlex activities like Bumper Cars, North Star, etc are tough to get into and/or get reservations for or are only offered a few times on your cruise. Think about the Oasis class where you have the zipline, mini golf, ice skating, carousel, etc - which everyone can easily do. It also really was frustrating how underutilized Two70 was - it is an amazing venue and it hardly ever gets used. How is there not a DJ dance party there every night using the lights, robo screens, etc? Juneau: We had great luck using Uber/Lyft to get to Mendenhall Glacier and back. It was about $45 each way for an XL which if you have 4-6 people will save you a ton of money. Walking out to nugget falls was just as fun as last time and the view is amazing. Was sad to see it continue to recede and significantly less chunks of ice in the surrounding water. I flew my drone around by the waterfall with no issues. Skagway: Last time we did the whole emerald lake, carcross yukon private excursion thing and had a good time, but we wanted to try the train this time. While it is a bit overpriced, if you enjoy train rides it is must do. The views are a bit repetitive but the narration was good and make sure you sit on the left side for the best chance to see the "sights". Victoria: This was our first time in Victoria and we absolutely loved it. We don't like to do ship excursions whenever possible, so we saved some money and rented a car from Budget for $45 CAD and drove to the castle and the gardens on our own. Saved about $130 for just us doing it that way and had a much better time than being herded in a shuttle bus. Taxis were $10 from the port to downtown and they take USD or CAD. You can also easily walk or take the shuttle bus which ends up being more money than a taxi if you have two or more in your party. Debarkation: We do the opposite of many and try and stay on as long as possible! Even though we had a low number we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in Two70 and walked off around 10:15 with no lines at all. No lines for baggage and customs at that point either. There were still a ton of people on the ship so we were by no means the last ones off. Big cluster at ride share area with tons of guests arriving and departing at the same time. Overall we had a great time, but I would drastically adjust your expectations for service on the ship and internet speed.
  15. I am sailing on the May 31st Ovation 7 day Alaskan cruise and my bid got accepted for an upgrade today! I originally had an inside stateroom and I bid the minimum for outside, obstructed balcony and balcony (not for superior balcony). My bid for obstructed balcony was accepted at $200pp, $400 total. For an Alaskan cruise where the balcony rate was *significantly* more than an inside at booking, I am happy with this upgrade at that price.
×
×
  • Create New...