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  1. My family and I just returned from an amazing trip on the August 10th sailing of the Horizon. We sailed to La Romana, Grand Turk, Curacao and Aruba. This was our 3rd time doing this itinerary but we still found something new to enjoy. The reviews for the Horizon in the months leading up to this trip were not very positive with many complaints about overcrowding and poor food quality. We did not experience any of this. Our only small issue was temperature. Our cabin (Spa cabin 12218) was very warm but I was prepared with 2 small fans which helped circulate the air in our cabin. We had faster to the fun and arrived at the port around noon. Check in was fast and we were in our room within 15 minutes. The longest part was walking up the gangway, it felt like it went on forever. This was our first spa cabin and while we didn’t really use the spa facilities we though the cabin seemed bigger than the regular balcony cabins. We also loved the location. We had the 1st cabin nearest the door to deck 12 waterworks. Our hallway was empty except for people staying in one of the cabins near us. During the day you could hear banging from kids running around outside but with the exception of 1 night it was quiet. We did not eat any of our meals at the Lido buffet, so I can’t comment on that. We had reservations for the steakhouse 2 nights and we were never disappointed. I had risotto and lobster both nights while my son and husband got the filet mignion. For appetizer my husband had the lobster bisque which he said was good and the bone marrow which he thought was outstanding. We also had JiJi’s 2 nights and as always the food was good and way more than we could eat. The other nights we ate in the main dining room. We had YTD and used the Hub app to make our reservations. No matter what time we ate a table was ready before we could even walk there from our cabin. No complaints on the food or service. For our first stop La Romona in the Dominican Republic we did a Carnival excursion Catalina Island Beach Break. With all of the trouble in the DR lately we thought it best to stick with a Carnival excursion and we brought a cooler with us filled with water. I filled 2 zip lock bags with ice and that kept our drinks cold during the day. We had use of free chairs and an umbrella and the beach was very clean with crystal clear water. There were the usually vendors selling shirts and other souvenirs but they weren’t pushy. In Grand Turk we did the Carnival excursion Underwater Power Scooter, Beach Break and Lunch. We did this last year and had so much fun we decided to do it again this year. While it was still fun we just didn’t enjoy it as much, maybe the novelty of the power scooter wore off. Next year we will try something new but if you haven’t done the power scooters I highly recommend you give them a try. Up next was Curacao. This is our favorite stop and the 3rd time we are visiting here. Since we knew what we wanted to do here we rented a car from Advance Carrental for $75 which included all insurance, unlimited mileage, GPS and a phone if we got lost or wanted to return the car early. We picked up our car right outside the port gate and set off for our favorite beach Playa Jeremi. This is small local beach with no amenities but some of the clearest water with great snorkeling and no crowds. We spent a few hours in the water before deciding to head back to the ship. On our way back we decided to stop and check out another beach Playa Porto Mari. This beach had chairs, umbrellas and a restaurant with food and drinks but the best part was the wild pigs that wandered the beach. Since I can’t resist the change to pet some pigs we stopped here for another hour before finally getting back on board the ship at 7:30. After such an active day we decided to spend a relaxing day at the beach in Aruba. We took a taxi to Palm Beach this year after visiting Eagle Beach the last 2 times. It was nice but I think we will stick with Eagle beach just because it is closer to the ship. We rented 3 chairs and a small umbrella for $55 dollars and set up to relax. Unfortunately it rained most of the time we were there and since we were still tired from the last 3 days of activity we decided to just head back to the ship and relax there. We spent our last 2 days relaxing on deck 11 overlooking the main pool. Overall, the Horizon was our favorite ship.
  2. So, I'll be on the Horizon on Sept 7. I'm going solo. I was looking at pics of the Steakhouse and noticed they have a bar with stools. May I eat at the bar in the steakhouse?
  3. Does any one know the smoking areas other than the Casino & balcony's Thanks
  4. Well, wanted to be the first to start a rollcall to destination unknown and date unknown. So looking forward to cruising on the beautiful Carnival Mardi Gras in 2020. I don’t care where it’s going or when, but I informed my Cruise Planner that I want to be on that cruise. So as news of this new ship continues to be posted by CCL, I hope more of you will join me in welcoming this new ship to Cruise Critic Roll Call. Hopefully we don’t have to wait too long to begin planning our mystery cruise. Rich
  5. Terminal 3 at Port Canaveral - home for Mardi Gras - is going up fast! An construction update and information about hotel rooms with close views of the Mardi Gras was posted on the Florida Departures board.
  6. Sick of seeing all the negatives of this ship! lol lets have a positive thread about the sunrise so people aren't scared for their booked cruises!
  7. Just booked this cruise. Who will be joining this group. Carol
  8. Last year family and friends ( approx. 40) made the decision to take a cruise out of NYC. I was definitely looking forward to this and enjoyed spending quality time with them, especially since this was my first vacation without my wife who passed away last year. Carnival Sunrise was marketed as a newly refurbished ship costing millions of dollars. What they did was get rid of the old Vegas glitz as well as remove 2 lounges in the back of the ship to add many more cabins = many more people! Check in, (as well as disembarkation) in NYC was quick and efficient. Upon entering ship you immediately noticed that all the previous "Carnival Look" was changed to muted colors. My cabin was fine and kept neat and clean. Our dining room waiter was very pleasant and cordial. The lounges were all very eye pleasing.Yes, they still do the waiter shows at every dinner. Pretty much wear for dinner what you want. No one at door that stopped anyone, they just said hello. We had opted for early seating. Ports: Grand Turk: we walked to Jack's Shack to enjoy the water … great day Puerto Rico: we waked around Old San Juan … fun exploring and doing some shopping Amber Cove: a duplicate of Margaritaville in Grand Turk with different signage … pool was refreshing We had beautiful weather all week … sunny and hot. What I didn't like … 1. The unbelievable crowds everywhere. The lido buffet where the food didn't look very appealing as well as the pool food options, which were good, always had very long lines. Never even bothered trying to get on the Deli line. I basically didn't eat what I wanted, I opted to eat wherever I found the shortest line. For breakfast we decided to eat in the dining room, lunch was a "free for all", dinner in dining room. 2. The only indoor area where smoking is permitted on the whole ship was the casino. I smoke, but I felt bad for the people who had no choice but to pass through the casino (it was a blue cloud) to get to the other venues, … unless you wanted to climb up and down staircases. 3. The lounge where they had the Punchliner comedy shows at night was stifling throughout entire cruise. I only went once, couldn't wait for show to be over. When my cousin found an officer who happened to be in the lounge and complained, she looked at her as if she was making it up. No response. 4. Lido Deck area … PACKED is an understatement! On the 4 sea days I never saw the water in either of the 2 pools, only bobbing heads. Never saw such a crowded pool area in my life. The bussing staff was overwhelmed by the amount of plates, glasses etc. they had to remove. It was very hard for them to keep up. 5. Guest behavior - I love having a good time and laughing; and our group did do that, but the amount of screaming vulgar language used by adults as well as unsupervised children running rampant was appalling. It wasn't uncommon to be woken up way after midnight by kids running up and down the cabin hallways as well as adults having loud screaming arguments right outside cabin doors as guests were trying to sleep. 6. Thankfully I was not one of many who had toilet plumbing issues in their cabins, thank God! We've cruised many times on many different cruiselines including Carnival … but unfortunately this cruise has left a very bad taste in my mouth regarding the Carnival product.
  9. I know there are several Pay restaurants on the Horizon ship. Did I read that there are only "two", one for MDR, and one for My Time Dining restaurants on this ship? The reason I ask, I have been on several ships where they had pay restaurants, as well as the My Time Dining, but always had two MDR's too.
  10. Hi myself and my husband have done 10 cruises a mixture of both Mediterranean and Caribbean and on Royal but primarily Carnival. This July we took Carnival Horizon from Miami. We enjoyed the cruise but think we have out grown Carnival I just found the crowd a bit too boisterous this year and wanted something a bit more low key. We are from Ireland so we are a bit more reserved than our American Cousins 😁 so I have been looking at Caribbean Princess for next July. It is our 50th birthdays so we want something nice. We enjoy live music good food trivia and the piano bar and of course the casino. How different is Princess to Carnival? I want a bit more low key but enough to keep up entertained.
  11. Day E3, Tuesday, August 20, 2019, At Sea, Empress of the Seas As is my normal custom I was up at 5, got coffee in the WJ, and headed out to deck 6. I traditionally walk 5 miles on sea days. I'm not sure if it's my age or the heat (likely a combination of the 2), I was pretty beat after 3 miles. It certainly wasn't the deck, it is very nice. The photo starts at the port aft corner, continuing to the starboard side, crossing at the bow, and back on the starboard side. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/deck6.jpg I walked another mile when I went out on deck for sunrise, and a final mile about 9:30. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/dawn0820.jpg The Empress shares a number of unusual traits with ships from my Holy Grail collection (Crystal and Prinsendam) and in one case with the Vision class but not There with the rest of Royal's fleet. There are 2 mini decks above the walking deck that I like to call "porches". I'm not sure where I'll use them on Empress but they are somewhat sheltered with great views and have been among my favorite hangouts on Glacier Bay and Panama Canal cruises. Also like my Holy Grail ships they have the odyssey of no Diving Boards (those little platforms that swing out from the bow during docking). https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/porches.jpg Finally, like the Vision Class, the mooring deck is open for viewing and not covered by another deck. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/thebow.jpg Royal does a Cruise Critic "Meet and Mingle" on cruises of a week or more. Since this is only 6 days they did not sponsor one but the Roll Call starter took the lead and we met at 10:30 in the Viking Crown Lounge and had a good chat for about 45 minutes. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/meetgreet.jpg A slot pull was held after the Meet and Greet with about 20 people participating. I did not but watched. People had fun but the highest theoretical winnings were $25. The 3 best scores got prizes from Jonathan. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/slotpull.jpg My afternoon started in Boleros with a talk by lecturer Janis Leader. Sadly, drowsiness overtook me and I missed most of it. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/leader.jpg My other afternoon activity was a visit to the Next Cruise desk. I'm heavily booked for 2020 but the Empress has some very nice itineraries. The one that I could work into my schedule was to Bermuda July 20. It's a great itinerary with 2 nights in the center of Hamilton and another in Saint Georges. Empress has a few "Studio" cabins and I got that (oceanview) for less than I would have paid for a regular inside. The Crown and Anchor "Top Tier" event was held at 5 with several people making welcoming remarks including Captain Diego. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/diego.jpg Awards for the top cruisers followed the introduction of the key staff. Hotel Director Denton called the Empress "The smallest ship with the biggest heart. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/srstaff.jpg The evening dress code is variously called "Formal" or "Dress to Impress". I noted that the Compass said "Tonight's Dress Suggestion". I like that idea of a special night where people are encouraged to dress up without forcing it on people. I went a little more casual than usual with a dress shirt, sport jacket, and tie. There were the usual 3 of us at table 463, along with the usual 3 empty chairs. I wish people who don't plan to go to the dining room would choose anytime dining. My choices were the Caesar Salad, Chicken Parmesan, and the Fruit Plate for desert. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/dishes20.jpg The Captain's welcome was in the Centrum between dinner seatings. I have always preferred a Centrum over a Royal Promenade, although I think Centrums were done better in the Vision and Radiance Class ships. On those ships there is a great view of the action on the floor most anywhere around the circle on most any deck. The Empress Centrum has consecutively smaller circles on each higher deck and I found that even from deck 7 the view from the back of the circle looking forward gets pretty restricted. I watched mostly from the front near the scenic elevators and while the view was good it was mostly of the backs of the line of staff. I still enjoyed the welcome. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/welcome.jpg The featured entertainment was the group "Horizons", a Detroit based trio featuring the Motown sound. I came in late for the first (6:45) show but returned for the start of the second show, taking a seat near the back of the balcony where I could slip out quietly at the point where I had come in. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/horizon.jpg I'll take my parting shot on the subject of loyalty. These Top Tier events are typically called a welcome to "our most loyal cruisers". Moi? Much of the traditional wisdom holds that a "Loyal Royal" would never even look at another cruise line. My response to that is that when a cruise line stops courting other customers I'll stop courting other cruise lines. It's a business relationship, not a marriage. I've been pretty open that Royal is my 4th choice among cruise lines but that's out of like how many? I'll stake my case on coming back a number of times and while staying within the truth always emphasizing the positives of my choices. I hope that's a pretty decent alternative definition of loyalty. One area where to me Royal has missed the boat is the elimination of the basic Crown and Anchor parties. To me the person who has come back a second time is likely the time where showing the cruise line's appreciation for repeat business makes the most business sense. Roy
  12. My kids are now Club 02 age but 10 years ago we would leave them in Camp Ocean (or Camp Carnival as it was known back then) and go off on excursions. They were taken down to the Lido and fed lunch. You often see a little area taped off for the campers. They got special things like chicken nuggets versus the regular Lido lunch. They loved it and were so much happier than joining us. My caution would be if you are leaving children behind ONLY take Carnival excursions. The ship will NOT sail until you have returned. A private excursion and you could wave 'bye-bye' as the ship will not wait. Approx 9 years ago we were in Belize and due to traffic our bus got back 30 minutes after what they said the last tender would be. I knew the ship would wait but I was still so panicked and upset. The ship specifically waited because of our one excursion and the tender whisked us away when we arrived at the dock. I couldn't even imagine what would have happened if the ship sailed and my boys were on board without us. For this reason, I will never take a non-Carnival excursion even though my sons are now always with us (15 and 17) enjoying the ports.
  13. We just returned from an 18-day Queen Elizabeth voyage New York to Southampton. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve sailed on Queen Elizabeth, so we were very disappointed to see the major “cut backs”. First off… there were fewer entrée choices available in the Britannia Restaurant. And shockingly “Mac & Cheese” was one of the choices offered on a formal night! Twice, in fact, during the entire cruise. When I asked for a “salt stick”… I was told that they are now only available in the Queens Grill (yet, I noticed some were available at the Lido Buffet during lunch). The waiter told me that my only choices of breads where what I see in the basket. On several days, they offered the same fish entrée at lunch and then again at dinner. Our near tablemates (two “twos” next to each other) asked for something extra, and they were told they only serve what’s on the menu. As for the Petit Fours which I used to enjoy most nights with coffee after dinner… this time, the choices were marshmellows and rice crispy treats (not kidding). The only time chocolate of any kind was offered as a petit four after dinner proved to be the same chocolate mints that are piled in a bowl at the entrance/exit of the restaurant. When we finally inquired about the changes, we were told that all menus are created by Carnival Headquarters in Southampton… onboard chefs are not allowed to change or adjust. There were several events held onboard (crew show, Christian services, etc.) where Cunard blatantly promoted that they were raising money for charities… a large box for financial contributions was placed outside the Royal Court Theatre, and the Entertainment Director would stand nearby to watch who gave and who didn’t as you left the theatre. There was a very heavy promotion for a galley/backstage tour… for $120 per person (and yes, you would receive a glass of Cunard sparkling wine with it). A bit outrageous, don’t you think? And then, of course, the “sale tables” outside the shops… which on QE are outside the Queen’s Room. Now… there is one full table set aside to sell Pringles and M&Ms. Wow. We found the ship is spending less and less time in port, which makes some stops not even worth it. Could it be to save on dockage fees, and add a big push to sell more ‘stuff’ onboard? Additional, there were far too many crew guests invited onboard in several ports, especially in Southampton. Families with five or six kids, all touring the ship with the crew member… enjoying lunch in the Lido, taking guest’s seats, etc. Not fun, and should not be acceptable. The Lido was somewhat understaffed at lunch… used plates and glasses left on tables for quite a while before anyone came by to clean. And our favorite… the Carinthia Bar ran out of ‘rocks’ glasses. Yes, that’s right. They told us they had no more onboard… and for four or five days or so, all drinks were served in a “tall” glass, no matter what the order. When I asked why, they said the ship had been in the Far East, and they couldn’t order any more. Could they not order more glasses in San Francisco, or Los Angeles, or Miami (Carnival headquarters, after all), or New York? Outrageous. Entertainment-wise… they now seem to only engage British acts… singers, comedians, novelty groups, etc. Sometimes that’s ok, but for many Americans… British comics are really just a wasted evening. Production show? The cast told us they were onboard for NINE MONTHS and seemed very tired; just going through the motions. Singers were good… the dancers were sloppy and most out of sync. I’m sure they couldn’t wait to get to Southampton and the end of their contract. I’m not an expert, but I would guess that nine months onboard a ship in ANY capacity is too long… again, could this be to save money? Lecturers?... only one was really excellent-- Steve Rivellino who spoke about Broadway and other areas of entertainment. He made our trip. Externally, the ship showed lots of rust on the hull and the deck areas too… perhaps they are also cutting back maintenance. All in all, we feel QE has dropped below the level from what was once Cunard status… I don’t know about Victoria. But happily, I can say that disembarking from QE and stepping onboard QM2 for the return to New York was a breath of fresh air. Like coming home. There is no doubt, the QM2 a far better ship, and is run differently… food quality was far better, and the service too… and the crew, much more friendly. There is no comparison between the two ships. Clearly, QE has now become a typical cruise ship, comparable perhaps to Princess or HAL (all Carnival brands). And QM2 continues to stand out. Although our fingers are crossed waiting to see how long that will be the case.
  14. First things first -- my husband and I (both 48 years old) have cruised a handful of times before, all on Carnival. We cruised with our children (ages 18 and 20), who have also cruised before a few times. Our last cruise was in 2010. We had two interior cabins on the Riviera deck. We live in South Jersey and drove to Baltimore for this cruise. We booked this back in February or so as a making memories with family trip before sending our younger one off to college for the first time. I'm the trip planner of the family. So, I began doing research online, including lots of reading Cruise Critic boards. Early on I decided to rent a cabana on Half Moon Cay (I have asthma and burn easily -- so I tend to avoid long stretches in the direct sun. I also booked the power snorkel and beach break excursion through Carnival. A month or so before the cruise, FTTF opened up again and I bought that for us. I also follow John Heald on Facebook (I messaged him after I realized he was our CD on our honeymoon cruise on the Ecstasy in 1993, and he promised he'd do something to "make us happy" on this upcoming cruise). I also emailed the Maitre d' a week before sailing and put in our table request (a table for four near a window). He emailed me back a confirmation on the Wednesday before the cruise. Finally, I had purchased Cheers (by using AARP gift cards), and had more AARP gift cards to apply to the two cabin accounts once we got onboard. Finally the day arrived. We left home just before 9am, made the obligatory stop at Wawa for gas and breakfast and got on the road. It took us about two hours to get to Baltimore. We dropped our luggage with the porters and tipped them, paid for the parking, and got a spot near a light pole (to make it easier to find when we got back). I always take a picture of the car with a landmark when we park at an airport or Disney World, etc. READY FOR A VACATION! (myself, Matthew 18, husband Joe, and Emily 20) We grabbed our carry=ons and headed into the building. There was no line at all when we showed our passports (pro tip: remember to SIGN your passports. We hadn't and they pointed out that while it wasn't a problem on this end, it would cause problems if they were unsigned when we got back.) We sat down in the waiting area at 11:13am. Forty minutes later, we were still waiting. We saw a wedding party boarding. That took awhile. At 12:05, they called Diamond, Platinum and suite passengers, and called FTTF at 12:06. WAITING AREA MY GUYS WITH EMILY, EXCITED FOR OUR TRIP! FINALLY! Our first stop on boarding was the excursion desk to choose our cabana. Five cabanas had already been reserved. We picked cabana 14 -- we wanted to be on the quieter end of the beach. Next stop was Guest services, but they said they couldn't add the gift cards to our account until after 1pm. So we headed up to the Lido deck for lunch. Matthew and I had Guy's Burgers (he had at least one on every day of the cruise), and Emily and Joe had burritos. It was also time for our first drinks of the cruise! OUR TRAVEL BUDDY, PHILBERT THE PHROG (follow him on Instagram), WITH MY MIAMI VICE Incidentally, we were always given plastic straws with frozen drinks, and sometimes with regular drinks. We were never offered sugar straws at any time. The only one we got on the whole trip was one of the times Matthew ordered a milk shake. We stopped back at guest services (the FTTF line was a godsend) and quickly applied the gift cards to the two accounts. Cabins weren't open yet (the doors were closed and the sign said 2pm), so we went to the Red Frog Pub to play games. The guys spent a lot of time here throughout the week perfecting their shuffleboard game. We are big board game people and brought several on the trip with us. We started out with a quick round of Zombie Dice. At 2pm, precisely, we were allowed to head to our cabins. We were in 1118 and the kids were in 1173. Some photos …. Then we wandered around the ship. I made sure to show Emily the Sunset Garden, because I knew it would be her favorite place on the ship. She spent a lot of time reading there (note: it can get noisy in the Sunset Garden once the teens form their friend groups; it's a hang-out spot. Also, the port side is one of the main thoroughfares for crew to go to their cabins. So, if you want to see them coming and going, just hang out for a little while.). There was also time for a short nap before the muster drill. Incidentally, because the kids were at a different muster station. This is when we discovered that the Hub app chat feature wasn't working, even though we tried several times. Muster started around 4pm. At about 4:20, they started calling the names of missing people. After muster was over, we went back to Guest Services. We also got an extra key for each others' cabins. We got another drink and went back to our cabins. Our luggage was there, so we unpacked and changed for dinner. BEAUTIFUL BALTIMORE HARBOR YUMMY! (Cosmo and tiramisu) We went to the dining room and were shown to our table. We were in a corner (near the Atrium Bar) at a window. It was perfect! I didn't take pictures of every meal, but I do have a few. Here is the softshell crab appetizer: Soon, we were approaching the Bay Bridge PORK LOIN Matthew entertained himself and the kids at the next table, by "playing" his water glass. (https://www.facebook.com/heidi.dugan.9/videos/10220243610622148/?t=0) After dinner, we went to the Piano Bar (we were here every night) and one of the Adult comedy shows. The kids called it a night and Joe and I took a windy walk out on the upper decks. More to come …… SEA DAY #1, next
  15. I'm getting close to my 50th Carnival cruise, but I'm in no rush to get there. The rewards aren't that great to continue booking Carnival exclusively. It's more important to me at this stage of my cruising career to continue to experience different itineraries than offered by Carnival as well as new ships and cultures on different lines.
  16. We just returned from the 10-night cruise r/t Rome, Aug. 1 - Aug. 11 that sailed to Greek Isles and Italy ports. It was our first time with NCL so I thought I'd just give a few of my impressions. First of all, we had a spectacular time, even though the record-breaking heat everywhere nearly got the best of us. We spent two nights in Rome pre-cruise at Albergo del Senato next to the Pantheon and loved the hotel and the location. We used RomeShuttleLimousine for all of our transfers - airport-hotel-port-airport and they were very reliable and good, safe drivers. Embarkation was absolutely the easiest of any of my 19 cruises. We arrived at the port around 11:15 and went straight through, no lines to speak of. We were able to drop off our carry-ons in our cabins and proceeded to get our first drink of the cruise. The ship has no wow factor but it is clean and seems in good shape. We had mid-ship mini-suites and the location was perfect. Our cabins were 11070 and 11072, starboard, directly over the tender platforms and the pilot access. Starboard seemed to be the best side for nearly all of the ports, and we really enjoyed watching the pilot boats zoom in and drop off or pick up the pilot. Our favorite gathering place became the Whiskey/Martini bar area where we met every evening before dinner. One of the servers there, Sandra, was the best ever - she became part of our family. Having most recently sailed on the Carnival Breeze and Vista, Princess Regal and Oasis of the Seas, I wasn't sure how I'd like the smaller size of the Jade but it was comfortable. Our cabins were wonderful - there was so much storage space we didn't even use several of the drawers and there were three of us adult women. Loved the bathroom and the balcony was very spacious. We ate all of our meals in the included dining venues, mostly the Alizar. We found the food to be just okay, nothing memorable. THe starters were pretty much the same every night and the menu seemed pretty limited. I was surprised that there was never shrimp cocktail on offer. In fact, there weren't any shrimp entrees either, such as scampi. I really missed my shrimp cocktail! The soups were generally good. We enjoyed O'Sheehan's for several lunches and it is a nice alternative dining venue. The buffet was just so-so. If I had to compare, the included dining is far superior on Carnival and Princess. I'm not a fan of RCL's food, but it was also a step above NCL. We saw the three production shows and I will say that the dancers were terrific! Elements was the best but we enjoyed Blazing Boots also. The third show's name escapes me but it was set in old Havanna, which could have been great if they'd used some known Latin music instead of the snorefest songs they did. THe entertainment around the ship was mostly blah, but we enjoyed the singer/guitarist Dave. However, he was leaving after our cruise. THey need more captivating entertainers in the lounges, for sure. THe cruise director, Dave, wasn't nearly as funny as he thought he was and was difficult to understand at times because he spoke so fast. But to be fair, we were comparing him to Carnival's Matt Mitchum who is the superman of cruise directors. At least Dave showed up, which is more than I can say of the CD's on Princess and RCL Oasis. We took this cruise because it had the best itinerary this year for the ports we wanted to see. And it is ever intensive! The only sea day is at the start and from there on you're in a marathon. We tendered in two ports - Santorini and Mykonos and it went fairly quickly and easily. I would have appreciated a bit more information of the ports in the dailies, even a little walking map would have been nice or directions to get to the express bus into Athens at Piraeus. I had done extensive research and had printed out a few maps but Piraeus still seemed a bit confusing, especially with the taxi drivers being so aggressive and in your face as you're trying to find the bus. I'll answer any questions about the ports but I'm not going into detail on them right now. Suffice it to say they were all fabulous. We took three private tours - Sicily, Naples and Livorno. In Sicily we went to Castlemola and Taormina, from Naples we went to Positano and lunch up on the cliffs at La Tagliata. In Livorno we toured several hilltowns in the Chianti region, had lunch and visited Pisa. All other ports we did independently. To sum it up, it was a beautiful cruise - calm seas and blue skies (and sweltering temps!). There were seven in our group and we all absolutely loved it!
  17. Hi Phillyfan! Yes, we have 3 Royal Caribbean cruises booked. I would of gone on the Harmony of the Seas and two Carnival cruises only we are pretty much done with Carnival so we will continue cruising but on RC, Princess and thinking of trying Celebrity. Its a shame I have to change, if Carnival straightens things out and makes things better, we consider going back for sure, but I will have to read alot of reviews. 🤔 Have a great day!
  18. Just an FYI, what the carnival website says and even the information provided in writing while on board may be different than the actual smoking locations on the ship. We were on the Carnival Elation and the smoking areas include the casino bar (as well as other locations). This is on the info on the website and a piece of paper delivered to our stateroom the first day. Long story short you are not allowed to smoke at the Casino Bar on Carnival Elation. I'm not sure why, maybe due to the arrangement of the bar outside of the casino versus the way it is on larger ships, I'm not sure.
  19. PhillyFan - exactly what I was trying to say. I don't hang out by the main pool. I don't usually do "regular" buffet lunches, so I'm willing to stand in line for the Deli, Guy's or Blue Iguana. I don't go to the comedy shows. I only go to a couple of main shows and honestly don't have any problem with the way the theaters are laid out on Sunshine, Vista or Horizon. So, again, if you sail mainly for the ports and not the ship, I think you tend to not let some of these "negatives" bother you so much. I have >30 Carnival cruises. I don't have a favorite ship. Honestly, I love Fantasy, mostly because I have so many nights on her that she felt like Home to me. Didn't like Ecstasy nearly as much even though she's basically the same ship. Love the Spirit-class ships. Really like Conquest class. Splendor, not so much. Wasn't terribly impressed with Vista or Horizon although I do like all the exterior seating along the Promenade deck. Only class I haven't sailed is the Dream class. Have zero interest in Mardi Gras. Favorite cruise SHIP so far - HAL's Koningsdam.
  20. My military unit is having a a reunion cruise next month on a Carnival ship, causing this Princess guy to move over to the sister line for one cruise. So, a couple of questions, if I may, please: Tea: I don't drink coffee, but do drink strong black (not herbal) tea. Does Carnival stock the MDR and buffet with good black tea (something a little vacation worthy than Lipton)? Toiletries: Good quality or should I bring my own? Breakfast: I'm a maple syrup purist. Does Carnival carry real maple syrup (not Aunt Jemima or some other corn-syrup based, artificially flavored stoff) or should I bring my own. Wine: I presume Carnival will allow one bottle per adult to be brought on board? Rum: We'll be in the Caribbean; if I buy some souvenir rum, can I bring it aboard for bringing home? Thanks in advance for your forbearance and kind answers.
  21. Ebay sometimes has sales on gift cards or coupon codes. I do Swagbucks (really casually these days, I used to do a lot more). Depending on how much time you're willing to put in, you can get some "free" gift cards to be used to buy Carnival cards. There are other similar sites, Swagbucks is just the one I use. Sometimes, some of the gift card resale sites have Carnival cards- you can decide your comfort level using those. If you go that route, just buy a new gift card right away.
  22. I am not a fan of the lounges on Vista, Horizon, Sunshine, and I assume Sunrise, although I have not been on Sunrise yet. But that doesn’t mean they are stupid. I can also see Carnival’s perspective to design lounges that can be used for multiple purposes. However, I still prefer the larger “theaters” on Carnival’s ship classes prior to Vista.
  23. So I just got off the Miracle and I've never been more satisfied with a Carnival cruise. After my cruise on the Breeze in May I was pretty sure I was done with Carnival, but as long as they keep a Spirit class ship in Tampa I'll keep sailing on those at least. Compared to the Breeze: -The ship was way, way less crowded. Never had trouble finding a lounger, never waited in long lines, and didn't even have to arrive too early for the comedy club. -The Serenity is the best in the fleet and a great use of the aft pool area -There's so much more open deck space per person than on the Breeze -The service was much friendlier and faster, with more staff per passenger -There weren't sales pitches for the fun shops, casino, spa, etc every 5 minutes like on the breeze -I think Frankie is a better CD than Schwartz -Getting on and off in the ports is a lot faster since there's less people overall on the ship I just wanted to share my experience since I've seen a lot of the same complaints that I had about the Breeze on the other newer/refurb ships like the Horizon, Sunrise, etc
  24. Ok.. So I'm booked for Carnival Panorama's inaugural cruise. According to the FAQs, booking for specialty dining was to begin on 8/1/19. Well.... the system certainly wouldn't allow me to book anything on 8/1/19. I called Carnival, and of course, they had didn't even have a clue on what the Chef's Table was. The lady said she would send me an Email....I'll give you 3 guesses on whether she actually sent me that Email. Finally, on or about August 5th, the specialty dining option become available on the website. So I requested the Chef's Table and the steakhouse. On August 7th, I get an Email from the Carnival Horizon's Matre D, stating that the Chef's table is reserved for the Carnival Panorama. However, I have yet to hear back about the steakhouse. Has anyone else tried booking specialty dining for the Carnival Panorama?
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