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!

Noordam Noordam Southern Caribbean -- November 26 - December 7, 2012 by Cindy
About us -- We're a couple in our early 50's, and this was our 16th cruise, but our first on HAL. Our previous cruises have been on Princess (4), Royal Caribbean (6), and Carnival (5). In addition to being our first HAL cruise, this trip was notable for several reasons...it was our 25th Anniversary, our first cruise longer than 7 nights, and our first time to visit 5 of the 7 ports. So how did we end up on the Noordam? It was actually a long and winding road! Our cruise planning started in December of 2011, when I made the final decision to retire from my job as an elementary school principal after 30 years in education. Lots of travel opportunities opened up for us since I would no longer be tied to a school calendar for travel! We knew we wanted a "smaller" (by our standards) ship, and we wanted to go somewhere we hadn't been. We decided on the Panama Canal (more on that bucket-list item later), determined we wanted a round-trip instead of a trans-canal, and started looking at Holland America and Princess since both had itineraries we were interested in. We almost ended up on Princess, but we hadn't cruised with them since 2007, and when I spoke with my mom she told me how disappointed she and her travel companions were with the food and the passenger load on their first (and only!) Princess cruise. In addition, I thought HAL's itinerary was better. Finally, while I was in the process of researching options I stumbled across IRL_Joanie's fantastic cabin website and I was sold -- nothing was going to keep me from a fantastic aft-wrap SC...on the Zuiderdam...to the Panama Canal! Continue reading... Noordam Southern Caribbean -- November 26 - December 7, 2012

Caribbean Princess Honeymoon Thanksgiving Cruise by Jessy1021
This was my first time sailing on Princess, and my husband's 2nd time. He had sailed on this ship a few years prior (before it was refurbished) We were looking for a cruise for our honeymoon over Thanksgiving break and came across this. It was reasonably priced and had a nice itinerary. My husband said he'd give the ship and Princess another shot since it was refurbished, so we booked it and off we went! Embarkation was a breeze and everyone at the port was very friendly. We did have to wait quite a bit for the transfer from the airport, but we didn't mind. Once on the ship, we checked out our room. It was pretty small, but a lot of space to hang clothing. It didn't bother us too much as we were hardly in the room the entire time. We were out having fun! We went to Horizon Cafe for some food. We were immediately greeted by staff trying to sell us wine tasting packages. We did want to look into it, but we were excited to just be getting on the ship and didn't want to be harassed at that moment. Once we did settle down, you couldn't find any information about the wine tastings, so we missed out on it. Continue reading... Honeymoon Thanksgiving Cruise

Oasis of the Seas Oasis, Family Fun Fun Everyone (Dec 1-8, 2012) by Luv1204
The Oasis of the Seas was a pleasant surprise, a lot of family fun for everyone! My wife and I have been going away the beginning of December to celebrate our anniversary for as long as we have been married, and that did not stop when we had kids. Now instead of just the two of us it has become a family adventure, our children now 10, and 6 have been are very well traveled but to this point we have taken relaxing island vacations with one Disney World trip thrown in the mix. We have been thinking about a cruise on and off for years but always backing out so we can lay and play and relax on a beach all week. Well, we finally decided to book the Oasis and experience something brand new. Wow, was it fun! We did play, we hit 3 beautiful beaches, but lay and relax (that did not happen too much on this ship). That's not what this trip was about and you know what, that was fine! We Flew from Philly to FLL, landed at 10:50am and was on the ship by 11:50am. It would have been a lot faster but getting in that long line to get a taxi to the port from the airport was the only holdup. Continue reading... Oasis, Family Fun Fun Everyone (Dec 1-8, 2012)

Norwegian Dawn Yet another great trip on the Dawn by angb0214
We have cruised 6 times with NCL and this was our 4th trip on the Dawn. We took along another couple who were 1st time cruisers and I hoped that they would have a wonderful 1st time cruise experience that would live up to everything that they have heard. Embarkation was easy, we arrived a little early with as we had an early flight from Ohio but as Gold members of NCL's latitudes program, once we cleared security we skipped the line to check in. We only waited about 20 minutes to board and it would have been much sooner had we not arrived before 11:30am. This is our second time at the Tampa port and it is very nice with friendly people, my only issue is that there always seems to be some issue with their passport reader, it took multiple swipes of our passports to (including my friends who have brand new ones) to get the system to read them. We had the same issue last year. Our Cabin: We were in a mid-ship mini suite which is more than comfortable for a couple, I am not sure I would try putting more than 2 in this room unless they are small children. Our cabin was clean and comfortable, although we did have to request bath robes that are usually on hand in a mini-suite. Ronaldo our cabin steward it seemed had many cabins assigned to him and yet if we needed something extra (towels, ice,etc.), we simply left him a note and it was handled. Continue reading... Yet another great trip on the Dawn

MSC Poesia MSC Poesia Cruise - Ship was great - Food was terrible! by ratlas
I wanted to share my observations from our recent cruise of the MSC Poesia. We traveled December 1-11, 2012 and were in cabin 10126. We are experienced travelers and this was our first cruise with MSC. We were asked by friends to join them for our wedding anniversary and in total there were five couples traveling together. It is always helpful when giving feedback to start out with positive things, and there were things I liked about the cruise. I thought the ship itself was very pretty, and well maintained. The ship was clean and attention paid to detailing. The evening entertainment was very good in the Bar De Poeti, both Greg and the dark-haired woman with whom he performed, were very good. The four-piece band in the same room was excellent and good for dancing, providing a wonderful variety of music and tempo. The two bands in the Zebra Lounge were very good and entertaining, although their Latin music repertoire was lacking in salsa music. The evening shows were very good and the acrobats and adagio dancers were very entertaining. The excursions were very good, and we found them well organized and informative. The port in Jamaica was especially pleasant for walking around and shopping. Continue reading... MSC Poesia Cruise - Ship was great - Food was terrible!

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