Every Thursday, we'll randomly select five cruise reviews to feature here! Plus, we'll send each member a Cruise Critic logo item. This week: Cruise Critic Over The Shoulder Travel Bag -- we hope they enjoy it!

Explorer of the Seas 2012 Spring Break on Explorer of the Seas by It's A Small World
Going on a cruise for my vacation never appealed to me, but my sister in law talked me into it. I wanted to try something different and followed her recommendation. We cruised on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas 3/30 to 4/7. We left from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ. Parking and unloading the luggage was a total breeze. Hubby left us to park the cars. We quickly navigated check-in, and before we knew it we were on a shuttle headed to the ship. Easy! We climbed on board and headed to the excursion desk. I am a first time cruiser and I had no idea that excursions needed to be booked 4 days prior to sailing. My #1 PIECE OF ADVICE: Book your excursions EARLY! We were cruising' during Spring Break and I soon learned that all excursions were sold out! So, I had us added to a wait list. We eventually got tickets, but it was nerve racking. Continue reading... 2012 Spring Break on Explorer of the Seas

Carnival Liberty Just OK by JinxyB
This was my eighth Carnival cruise, 7 of which I have taken in the last 3 years. I was trying to make Platinum before the change to the loyalty program, but am unsure if I will cruise with Carnival again. If I do, I will pay extra to book a Spa balcony on the newer class of ships that does not allow smoking. Embarkation Day: We flew in the day of the cruise, got a taxi to the port and basically walked on the ship. The port was practically empty at 1PM when I arrived. I don't think I will arrive early anymore and waste time sitting around-very efficient process after 1PM. When we walked onto the Lido deck, the music blasting from the giant TV was so incredibly loud I felt as if I was at a concert. You literally could not hear yourself speak! I'm in my mid 30's and thought this music was way too loud. Continue reading... Just OK

Norwegian Pearl Sailing on the Pearl by way of the suites by Bushy H.
Since we disembarked the Epic from an Eastern Caribbean cruise on Saturday morning we stayed in the Holiday Inn Express Doral overnight. It was $25 from the dock by Taxi to the hotel; it was extremely hard to get a ride if not going to the airport. The hotel staff was very helpful, the hotel was clean but if your room is facing the front it will be noisy early, internet connection horrible. There is a grocery store a mile away thru a neighborhood; not a bad walk for water to take on the cruise. Rising early we ate the free breakfast which is limited to the normal fare. We sat outside waiting for the van to come costing $10 pp to the dock. We rode with another group who were going on Carnival Cruises. Our driver dropped us off and the luggage man appeared and tossed our cases up on the metal carrier and waited for his tip. We then joined the long but fast moving line thru security. Once thru we saw the V.I.P. lounge for suites on the left where our ship card was issued and we joined the group departing to the next lounge since we were too early too board. This new area was up the escalator and larger with beverages, cookies, and chocolates. Continue reading... Sailing on the Pearl by way of the suites

Cruise Booking: We booked this cruise just 6 months prior to embarkation day. Having a great price from a Princess brochure made the decision easy to make. Preparation time was far more consuming than any other cruise we had taken before this one. It helped being a member of Cruise Critic so we could read the boards for information that we could use about this cruise as the time drew near. Cruise Check-in: We had a pre-cruise package that included 2 nights at Singapore Marriott. It included the cruise check-in procedure being early at the hotel, and our luggage being taken directly from our hotel room to the ship for delivery to our stateroom. We tagged and left luggage in the designated place for the pick-up, however other items in our hotel room were also taken from our room. The luggage holding place in the hotel was not very secure, and we removed the other items before they were taken to the ship. We joined a large group walking out of the hotel for the shuttle bus when the line stopped at the bottom of the escalator. Those of us still on the escalator had to push the line to keep moving for our own safety. Once on the shuttle bus, we had a pleasant ride directly to the ship and walked directly onto the ship. Continue reading... REFLECTIONS FROM THE DIAMOND PRINCESS

Norwegian Epic Don't understand the bad reviews! by partyelf
Sailed the Epic 3/31 thru 4/7. Considered a 'spring break' cruise considering I'm from the PA area. Overall I was impressed with many things and have very few let downs. Considering the ships holds over 4500 passengers, embarkation was relatively painless. The check-in and documentation process went very quickly however we had to wait 20 minutes in a holding area before we could board the ship. Not bad at all. Hearing the comments on how busy the buffet is that first day, we avoided it and went to O'Sheehans for lunch. That was a mistake. I'm not sure what all the fuss is about, but our meal was just so so - actually the worst of the food of our entire stay. It certainly didn't help that our waiter barely understood the English language and couldn't get our dessert order right after three attempts. One order of banana bread, and he brought out two apple pies, then strawberry pound cake, then after pointing out the actual item on the menu, he brought the correct item. He claimed he never worked that "area" before. We were concerned, based on some reviews, that this was a sign of what was to come, but that was not the case at all. Continue reading... Don't understand the bad reviews!

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