Outstanding trip on the Seven Seas Explorer

Posted By : Willson Mac/ 0 0

We have just returned home after sailing on REGENT SEVEN SEAS “EXPLORER”.  All we can say is OUTSTANDING!!

This ship is beautiful, elegant, comfortable, spacious and warm, giving guests a comfortable feel of luxury.  The Explorer, being Regent’s largest ship offers many quiet areas where one can escape to reflect and enjoy and to just let the mind wonder.  Fresh flowers and orchids adorn the ship throughout including all suites and these arrangements were always looking fresh – never tired.  The entire team on board are a well oiled machine!!!

Our suite was located on Deck 6 #683 which happens to be the very last aft cabin on starboard side.  One, including myself, a cruise only Travel Advisor, would consider this to be a poor location but in essence, it was perfect for us.  We had no passing guest traffic, no laundry traffic or elevator/stairs traffic.  Even though one may consider this location as being over the engines……….yes, I would agree but we did not hear the engines, only the gentle rocking to sleep in ever so comfortable beds.  Engines (bow thrusters) were heard at time of docking and departing but never before 7.30am.

Our dinner experiences in Compass Rose, Pacific Rim and Chartreuse were all exceptional.  Ivana always insured we had a table for 2 in the quiet alcove in Compass Rose.  Arriana, our waitress made each evening memorable.  Her gracious and gentle style along with her attentive service was outstanding.  She made us feel special.  In Compass Rose, the delicious chef’s menu changed daily along with the standard menu choices allowed for a vast variety of choice options.  Select wines were poured with dinner but one could also request a specific wine from their vast pouring menu.  Excellent choices of wines were available and being poured by attentive Sommeliers.

Let’s not forget about breakfasts and lunch either in La Verandah or Pool Grill.  Here the food always looked fresh and tempting along with being delicious.  A variety of freshly made salads and food selection to choose from and perfect for the hot summer days in port or at sea.  Service was also impeccable in these areas.

Both Pacific Rim and Chartreuse were exceptional!!  Service is both of these dining venues were comfortable and attentive which allowed for a very pleasant experience.  In fact, we returned to Chartreuse for a second evening.  Food in both of these locations were deliciously outstanding.

Since we had already experienced this itinerary before (eastern Caribbean visiting St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia and Great Stirrup Key), we opted to make this cruise strictly an R & R with no commitments to any tours.  We did get off in each port for about an hour walkabout, but the comfortable life on board kept calling us back.  The Explorer is truly a beautiful ship with far too many positives to list.  In fact, as I write this, I am trying to recall any negatives.  None come to mind.

The EXPLORER is truly a style of luxury with high end features and amenities making it one of the most luxurious ships afloat today.  She recently won an award for Best Luxury Cruise Ship and we can certainly see why.

Again we say….OUTSTANDING and a beautiful experience on this luxurious ship from top to bottom.

 

 

Review provided by
Sheila Parsonage 
Independent Travel Advisor with Vision Travel, a Direct Travel company

Photo courtesy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises 

Oasis-Class Ship

Western Caribbean cruise with Royal Caribbean

Posted By : cruising/ 0 0

OASIS OF THE SEAS What a ship! So much to do, you actually need to create a schedule for yourself. Every night you get their “Compass” itinerary sheet for the next day. I found myself circling things I wanted to do so I wouldn’t miss out or forget. The kids club, Adventure Ocean was a hit. You could tell all the kids there loved it and didn’t miss not hanging out with their parents. We saw CATS on Broadway at the large theatre, the Ice Skating show was the best and we thoroughly enjoyed watching movies at the outdoor movie theatre in the evenings. I’m sure I have left a ton of things out, we did so much!

I had a BOARDWALK BALCONY Stateroom – 1 king bed, 2 night tables, loveseat. And to make it even better it had an interior view of the ship – we looked out over the Boardwalk – my son thought this was very cool, it was perfect. This is a great alternative to having an outside stateroom with a balcony. Only thing I would say is that it could be a bit noisy at times.

Ports: Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico, with 2 days at sea.

Labadee – this is Royal Caribbean’s private beach resort – this was the perfect way to spend a beach day without feeling like you were missing out on exploring an island. We did the venture out and do the dragon coaster thru the mountains for $26USD. Found out they charged someone else $10 so be careful not to get conned. The shopping market is run by the locals, a lot of them had the same product and we found that they were very pushy.

Jamaica – we did Jewel Runaway Bay Resort for the day. It had a great waterpark for kids and adults alike. The Jerk chicken was delicious!  I organized this myself, not through the cruise lines shore excursion option.

Cozumel – stayed on the ship that day, we had all been there previously so we felt it was a good opportunity to take advantage of all the ship has to offer while others were off exploring. I pampered myself at the spa and my son went to the kids club.

Food on the ship was fabulous. Breakfast and lunch were great in the Buffet, lots of options for everyone to choose from. We tried to eat at slightly off peak times just to cut down on waiting in lines.

Main dining had a nice variety every day but also had the standard/same menu every day so you knew there was always something you would enjoy – like the FRENCH ONION SOUP, it was DELICIOUS, I had it almost every day. The service there was so attentive and our server was amazing – we jokingly asked him if there was any curry and he said we have chicken curry, I will bring you a plate to all share. And everyday after that, he would bring out a plate of indian food for us to share. Such a nice touch and something he didn’t have to do for us!

We ate at 2 of the specialty restaurants. 150 on Central Park was fine dining and it was very difficult to make a decision on what to eat. Luckily there were a few of us so we were able have a taste of almost everything. The Lobster Gnocchi was perfect and my father had the Lamb Duo – I only got one bite it as he wasn’t interested in sharing after his first few mouthfuls.

We also had the opportunity to eat at the Mexican restaurant, Sabor, which is located on the boardwalk. It was pretty good – we all had the build your own tacos and we enjoyed the Guacamole with house-made tortilla chips and salsa.

Overall I was impressed with the service and staff – everyone was happy to help and would go out of their way to make sure we had a great time. The ship was very clean and well maintained. I was impressed with the stability of the ship as it was something I was a little concerned with, I barely ever felt it move. Generally I have been on All-Inclusive vacations so having to pay for a lot of the extras did take some getting used to but we were able to take advantage of a promotion when we booked that included the Soda Package for free – which was great to have. I would definitely look for that type of promotion again when booking as it adds a lot of value while onboard.

This was my first cruise and will NOT be my last. I had a wonderful experience and plan to cruise again and again! I would recommend this to family and friends who want to book a fun, active vacation.

 

 

Photo c/o Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Mega Ship Experience on the Allure of the Seas

Posted By : Rene Schneeberger/ 0 0

With cruise ships getting bigger and bigger these days, many travelers wonder what that experience is truly like.  I had this same question and frankly some hesitation about sailing on a mega ship for years as I love to cruise on small intimate vessels between 250 and 1000 passengers.

However, in early January, I found a killer rate for a balcony cabin at $750 per person (normally these run for $1100 or more) and took the plunge by boarding Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class vessel Allure of the Seas for a 7-night exploration in Fort Lauderdale.  This review will take you through my week aboard.

As you can see from the picture I took in San Juan, the sheer size of the Allure of the Seas trumps everything in its sight.  Note the smallest vessel on the picture, Holland America Line’s Eurodam (2nd from the left) is itself not that small with 2104 passenger capacity. However, the Allure holds 3 times as many with 6488 passengers on my particular sailing.

Boarding/Disembarkation

It was a busy Sunday at Port Everglades with 7 vessels in port.  I was concerned at first that boarding would be a major effort.  However, I can attest to the fact that I have never boarded a ship faster. We went from curb side to cabin in 20 minutes – Absolutely amazing.  The entire experience reminded me of how Lufthansa boards 500 passengers on an Airbus 380 in 45 minutes while it takes as long or longer to get 120 passengers on a Boeing 737.  The lesson here is that “size matters” as it permits the use of better access infrastructure which Royal Caribbean purpose built at this port.

Similarly upon return, the ship crew is well versed in guiding guests to the gangway and off to customs.  We did the return journey in about 35 minutes from cabin to curb.

Amenities & Activities

One of the biggest advantages of a ship of this size is the space available for entertainment and activities.  Guests will notice right away that they are on a Mega ship the moment they step on board.  Large public spaces abound with expansive lounges, theaters and innovative activities to choose from.  My favorites were the Show lounge where I saw Mamma Mia and Blue Planet as well as the Aqua Theatre with the fantastic “Oceanaria” show. From a dining perspective, there are plenty of options as well, albeit several had long wait lines.  My personal tip is the Park Café on Central Park with fresh salads, sandwiches and paninis.   Favorite meal on board – Captain’s table which was a fantastic small, group experience with a $95 charge per person.  It is well worth the cost as it includes the 5 course gourmet meal and accompanying wine pairing.

Positives

With over 220,000 Gross Register Tons, this class of Mega-ships provides a smooth cruise experience even for folks worried about seasickness.  The ship just doesn’t move, even with decent waves, the motion is not noticeable.

Service and attention to detail by the crew was on par with smaller vessels and there is plenty of staff to serve large number of guests aboard.  Our stateroom a Category D2 Balcony on Deck 12, facing the ocean was very well laid out, had plenty of power outlets and the beds were very comfortable.  We toured a couple of Mini-suites which is the category I would pick on a future cruise.

Not a dull moment aboard either.  With flow riders (surf simulators), zip line, rock wall, ice rink, shows, games, movies, and so much more, there is always something happening aboard and the week just flew by. I used the walking/running track on deck 3 daily and I found it to be the perfect hide-away to enjoy ocean views on the handful of deck chairs in the very aft of the vessel.  Go check it out.

Challenges

To illustrate the biggest challenge, see the picture above.  Finding deck chairs on sea days was a frustrating experience to say the least.  There just are not enough spaces on deck for 6000+ people to lounge.  I have noticed the same issue on NCL’s Epic, Breakaway and Getaway where, to make matters even worse, the forward portion of the ship is taken up by the Haven – a Private Suites Club.  Another area of improvement for Royal Caribbean is the main dining room where during dinner service, noise levels are astronomical.  While the food was fine and the service attentive, don’t plan on a romantic dinner date or long conversations.  You would have to upgrade to Chops or Café 150 to have a tranquil dinner experience.  Mind you that these specialty dining venues cost from $35 per person and up – money well spent a couple of times during the voyage.

Tips:

  • Ask your travel advisor to book your show tickets in advance and know that you can see any show again on a stand-by basis. (Line up begins about 1 hour prior to the show).
  • Upgrade to Balcony or higher category for enjoyment and higher floors.  The lower levels are prone to noise from the 4 story boardwalk and all the activities going on.
  • Consider some of the “upgrade” restaurants and book them in advance (especially the Chef’s table)
  • This type of mega-ship is ideally suited for multi-gen family gatherings and for cruisers that want to experience the “latest & greatest”
  • Ask your travel advisor to plan custom shore-excursions (not booked with the cruise line) as a means to get away from the crowds and get personalized service – often at lower per person costs than the ship excursions

Final Reflections

After a week aboard, I was sad and at the same time glad to leave the vessel.  I am satisfied that I took the time to experience a Mega Ship with all its technical marvels, full-length Broadway shows and all the world-class entertainment.  Yet, my personal preference remain smaller, more intimate vessels of the 200 to 1100 category.  Peace and tranquility with plenty of personal space are more in line with my expectations than sharing lobbies, elevators and public spaces with crowds usually seen at malls.  It is a personal choice of course, and I heard many guests on board that were totally enamored with Allure and its sister ships.

Glass of wine from our balcony

Celebrity Mediterranean Cruise

Posted By : Nora Pearce/ 0 0

The Celebrity Silhouette is a beautiful ship and the staff onboard were fantastic.  The cabin stewards were very friendly and were always there to help if needed.  They were quick to respond to any requests that were made.  The waiter, assistant waiter and the wine steward were meticulous with their serving of the guests in the dining room.  Always going the extra to make sure the guests were satisfied.

The Activities staff were a lot of fun and made sure there was lots of activities and a good variety so no one was left out.  They were very inviting and always had a good crowd in all that they did.  Even the ships officers were readily available and they actually had a water polo game of ship staff against the guests and the officers were in the pool in uniform.  Lots of fun to watch.

The entertainment onboard the ship was amazing and a pleasure to watch.  They do such a great job and I never missed a show.  The staff onboard as well as the entertainers that they bring aboard are wonderful.

Ports of call were amazing and choices of land excursions were plentiful.  Anything you could imagine was being offered and I saw some amazing destinations in Italy, Israel, Greece, Turkey and Malta.  Whether sailing in the Caribbean or in Europe you can’t go wrong with a Celebrity cruise.

AmaWaterways River Cruise

Posted By : Kathy Wilton/ 0 0

My husband and I just took our first river cruise which was AmaWaterways, Christmas Markets.  We didn’t know what to expect but we were very pleasantly surprised!  The guests were like 1 big family, on the first night, the cruise director Nick, got everyone together and we all decorated 3 Christmas Trees while singing Christmas songs.  It was amazing how quick that all came together and the community feeling was so great.  Also to mention how AmaWaterways made us all feel every day and Santa even came to give each and every guest a gift!  We all felt extremely special.  The service was amazing and the staff was the best.  Our cruise director gave me the most incredible insight as to what a cruise director does.

We’ve traveled on many ocean cruises and now we have added river cruising to our best loved list!  Add it to your Bucket List!

Group of Cruisers

Share your #cruiselove

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 3013 0

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Two sailings with Azamara

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 0 0

We wanted to cruise but I was looking for something a little different, we finally decided that we would try Azamara. I had sailed onboard a few much larger ships, but my husband had only sailed on one larger ship, so he was a bit anxious to move to a smaller ship. After much convincing, I told him it would be fine. We sailed on the Azamara Journey on the ‘West Indies Hideaways’ cruise, for 10 days.

Well, it was better than fine. It was Azamazing! From the moment we arrived at the pier and checked in to being welcomed on board. The crew and staff were very happy to greet us with big smiles and of course a glass of bubbles. The crew went out of their way to learn what you preferred during the cruise. We met many friends that cruise and still talk about them.

I also was skeptical because of the ‘smallness’, but after only a day, I thought the Journey was just right. Our stateroom was pleasantly decorated. The food was delicious and lots of fresh fruit and veggies throughout the entire cruise. We had a few themed buffet lunches in the restaurant. We even had a ‘white night’ party around the pool. Everyone and everything was decorated in white. They had set up a hot/cold buffet and food stations so we had SO much to choose from, it was hard to decide what to indulge in.

Our itinerary was also very good with the Journey being able to visit many ports the larger ships cannot and also we stayed overnight in port once or twice. The scenery, the islands we visited, we will never forget.

The following year we found another cruise on the Azamara Journey and I really wanted to go this time because she had just come out of dry dock, so I wanted to see what was new. The Journey was even better this time. She had many upgrades all around the ship. This, however did not take away from her charm and elegance. The crew once again outdid themselves with their fantastic service and attention to detail. Our itinerary ‘Temples, Jungles and Beaches’ explored more of the western Caribbean. We tried the specialty restaurants. The service and food wonderful again. We had an Azamazing evening in St. Maarten with a steel drum band set up not far from the ship. The music and entertainment was great and when we returned to the ship (late), they escorted us to the observation lounge for cherries jubilee!

I also would like to say that the crew (captain, cruise director etc) were visible many times on both cruises we sailed on. They were very approachable and friendly, sat with us for some meals and attended events. This makes such a big difference when you sail on a smaller ship. It is refreshing. It is more intimate. You meet many nice people and learn more about them too.

I am looking for us to go on another Azamara cruise in the future, especially on the Journey OR maybe the Quest. Now there will be even more to see around the world with the addition the Azamara Pursuit.

Silver Wind Caribbean cruise

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 0 0

We boarded The Silver Wind in Barbados, after a pell-mell dash from Grantley Adams airport (due to the late arrival of our flight from Fort Lauderdale) , eventually arriving at 9:30pm, which felt like minutes before departure! After that headlong dash there was only one place to go – The Bar. We were greeted like long lost friends and served swiftly with flutes of bubbly; at last a quiet moment, to reflect and settle, in the cosy, clubby atmosphere. The rest of the interior of the ship was equally welcoming, more so after the recent refurbishment of the major public areas.

We had a Medallion suite on the 8th deck, for’ard of the swimming pool area, and from the start, our Butler, Vinay delightful Indian man, was courteous, efficient and endlessly patient. He served our breakfasts and afternoon canapés on the balcony and tended to our daily laundry, which was joy. The rest of the crew was equally friendly and courteous and seemed to know our names almost from the moment we boarded; they made it feel like a home away from home.

Our cruise departed from Barbados and took us to Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba, Curaçao and back to Barbados. Our shore excursion on Aruba comprised a little sightseeing, including the lighthouse and then a trip in a semi-submersible to view the wreck German freighter, scuttled during the very early months of WW2. For the rest we wandered the local bazaars and soaked in the atmosphere.

Our voyage was made all the more pleasurable because we were upgraded to a Medallion suite, which included complementary laundry, free and unlimited wifi and a large walk-in closet; another joy. The veranda was large enough for two sun-beds, a small dining table and chairs and a lounger built for two. Overall we were impressed by the friendliness of the staff, the cosy, intimate feel of the ship and the leisurely relaxed pace of life. Would we cruise on the Wind again? Absolutely!

 

 

Contributed by Lynne Adams
An independent affiliate of Direct Travel

Oceania Marina

Oceania Marina

Posted By : Lucy Catalanotto/ 0 0

My husband and I took our first Oceania Cruise onboard the Oceania Marina.  What a Beautiful Ship, we loved the decor and the comfort of this ship.  Oceania always says their food is the best at sea, well we can see why, with wonderful restaurants the food was beyond words.   And of course the service is impeccable.

A must see, are the remarkable works of art work all over the ship.

Would highly recommend sailing on this gorgeous vessel.

 

 

Ship Photo c/o Oceania Cruises

Paul Gauguin in Tahiti

Posted By : cruising/ 0 0

In March 2017, I embarked on a Paul Gauguin cruise-7 day Tahiti and Society Islands.

We started from Papeete, Tahiti where I stayed one night pre cruise at the Tahiti Pearl Bearch Resort. We sailed from Papeete to Huahine, TaHa’a (Motu Mahana), Bora Bora, Moorea and back to Tahiti, I stayed another night at the Tahiti Pearl Beach Resort. It was the experience of a lifetime. I met many nice people and did a few shore excursions-swimming with lemon sharks and stingrays, and tons of snorkeling.

I must say the crew/staff on board were outstanding!! Although this ship is a smaller one, the crew have big hearts! They were genuine and we shared happy times while on board. The food and dining was one of the best I have had on a cruise ship. The entertainment was also very good – it was wonderful to be treated to local entertainment, really made you feel at home.

There was SO much beautiful scenery no matter where we were, I felt I was dreaming.

I would definitely sail on the Paul Gauguin again! I had such a wonderful time. I really would like to go again for longer this time and to explore some of the other islands in this paradise!