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 Insulated Sports bag-- we hope they enjoy it!

Disney Wonder WONDERful holiday cruise by codex57
While this was my second Disney cruise, it was the first for my wife and kids, along with some friends. All total, it was my family of 4, my parents, our friends' family of 4, one set of their parents and a brother for a total of 13. Kids were aged 2-5. This cruise on the Disney Wonder started in San Pedro (Los Angeles Port), had a couple days at sea, then a day in Puerto Vallarta, a day and a half in Cabo San Lucas, finishing with a day at sea before returning to Los Angeles. Overall, it was a fabulous cruise. We took up 3 outside view cabins and one inside at the front of the ship. The Good: Service and crowd control. The ship never really felt crowded. Even the really popular events weren't too crowded. Service everywhere was fantastic. I particularly liked how far they went to keep the ship clean. Our servers were adequate. No real complaints, but they didn't particularly stand out either. The assistant server did entertain the kids on occasion, but we never felt any particular special care. I'm a firm believer of set dining times because I like having the same servers. This allows them to recognize my habits. For example, I always have a Coke at my meals. On my other cruises, the servers, after a couple of days or so, figure that out and learn to just have a Coke ready for me when I arrive so I don't have to wait. That's about the minimum I expect in order to rate them outstanding. Never happened here. They were very polite and attentive, just didn't go above the bare minimum that I expect. Continue reading... WONDERful holiday cruise

American Star Cruising The Intracoastal Waterway by ferry360
We've made a small habit of seeing the sights during the shoulder and off season. Cruising Alaska and Europe in winter were rewarding for both the lack of crowds, the easy to see sights and most interestingly a good mix of other adventuresome passengers. Our 2 week sojourn on the American Star was a prime example of small ship cruising at its best. We long ago learned to pack for any weather so no matter the climate, it's never an inconvenience to travel. Our November trip came right on the heels of Hurricane Sandy and we wondered what we'd get - that goes beyond control of what we could pack. Our worries were for nought. Though we hit a little rain and some cool weather, the majority of days had enough sunshine that our sunglasses got more of a workout than our rainwear. The ship was as advertised with a spacious, modern and well appointed cabin. We joked with the hotel manager Adriano, that he could reduce the size of the rooms. We told him that our travel in other parts of the year is in a travel trailer with less square footage than our cabin. Food was excellent and you get any sized portion (or more of anything). We met other passengers with a variety of dietary needs and all we heard was praise (even for the Vegans among us). Continue reading... Cruising The Intracoastal Waterway

Norwegian Pearl My Precious Pearl by comptongal
Our Stateroom: We stayed in the Forward penthouse with extra large balcony (9500). The view was incredible and our balcony was used even on sea days. It was quite breezy on days when we were underway, but still quite doable. There is a very thick, sturdy metal door that seems to airlock when closed. There is a sign that said for safety purposes to keep it locked when underway. For the record we did not, and neither did our neighbors. Also important to note is that after sunset, your curtains have to be closed to the window to block any light going out on the front of the ship. We did not mind. Our stateroom was well equipped with a sitting area, a table and 4 chairs, king-size bed and full bathroom with tub and shower. A separate vanity for putting on make-up, doing hair etc was also included. The drawer space was more than adequate and the closet was very roomy. There were two safes in the room. We had a fancy coffee maker and nice bar set up. The balcony held two full lounge chairs, two regular chairs and a small table. There was plenty of room on top of that. We also had a refrigerator and a DVD player. Continue reading... My Precious Pearl

Carnival Breeze Breeze 6 Day Caribbean by SusieQ4U
I am hoping there are some issues that will get worked out on this ship before I return to her in April. I can't quite decide if I think there is a "new" Carnival level of service that I need to adjust to or if this ship is still finding her way on her new itineraries. My previous Carnival sailings have included 2 other "large" ships (the Valor and the Breeze's sister the Dream) as well as 2 of the smaller ships - Fantasy and Sensation. I have also sailed once on NCL. This sailing was the first Carnival cruise in which I was disappointed although it wasn't enough to ruin my vacation, my week, or even any particular day. I will try to address each area as thoroughly as I can. Getting there: I had some work to do and flew into the West Palm Beach area a few days before my cruise. My travel partner joined me (also via West Palm Beach) the Friday before our Sunday departure. We stayed with friends in that area. There are not shuttles from West Palm Beach (PBI) to any of the ports but I made a discovery that may make PBI an airport to consider if the fares are great from your travel destination as they often are for me. I rented a car in PBI from National for about $22 a day -- one way (in Florida one-way rates are the same, almost always, as roundtrip as long as the rental starts and ends in FL). Continue reading... Breeze 6 Day Caribbean

Mariner of the Seas Terrific Transatlantic ConnieG
This was our first Transatlantic cruising with 3,500 very experience, world class travelers. A good number, perhaps a majority, were from Texas and most were active, mature cruisers. This sailing attracts very few children and we only saw perhaps a dozen. We had booked this cruise 16 months before sailing and because the itinerary was so good, the prices kept going up and up. The roll call was perhaps the largest one in CC history and a number of people arranged private excursions and shuttles. This all made for an exciting time for those of us who joined in. This sailing could have been really a disappointment for many because Hurricane Sandy impacted a lot of flights going to Rome, but most people managed to get rerouted or came in early. Lesson learned: get travel insurance and be proactive! We had our first connection changed and would have missed out on two days in Rome if I hadn't taken action. Cruiseair was a bit disappointing here and I doubt I would ever use them again. I needed to do all the calling to United. Continue reading... Terrific Transatlantic

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