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Reviews of the Week by ajpdunakin, quillcutter, Meanderer, kctenad1 & Jannan!

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Every Thursday, we'll randomly select five cruise reviews to feature here! Plus, we'll send each member a Cruise Critic logo item. We hope they enjoy it!


Norwegian Pearl NCL Pearl Alaska June 23, 2013 by ajpdunakin

A little about us: We were first-time cruisers, have never been to Alaska, don't have kids, and love to travel. We are not sit-on-the-beach types, which is why we thought the adventures of Alaska would suit us. Below is a review of all parts of our NCL Pearl Alaska Inside Passage round-trip cruise from Seattle, with some tips for first-time cruisers like us. Day 1: Embarkation in Seattle: The embarkation process was pretty easy, but if you bring wine along with you, either keep it in your carry-on bag, or bring a separate bag for it. We ended up carrying it the whole time, and we didn't realize we could carry on one of our suitcases if we wanted to. Registration and security took about an hour from start to finish. When we got on board, we thought our room wouldn't be ready until 2:00PM, but it was ready for us right away (we boarded around 1:00PM). As first time cruisers, we didn't know what to expect, but found that the ship was a lot like a miniature floating version of Las Vegas. Once we got used to that aspect of it, we loved it! Continue reading... NCL Pearl Alaska June 23, 2013



Osterdam Fabulous Oosterdam June 9, 2013 by quillcutter

For years my husband & I have dreamed about visiting Alaska by sea. We laugh now how things fell into place to bring the dream alive within a mere 26 days. Bill bought a new old Studebaker for half of what he budgeted so with his savings, I called Alaska Cruise lines and booked a guaranteed outside balcony cabin aboard the Oosterdam's June 9 sailing. Upon online check-in with HAL, we received our cabin assignment. 8143 was at the very rear of the ship on Navigation deck. We had a spectacular 180 degree view that truly enhanced our cruising experience. We couldn't have asked for a better cabin. Embarkation was a breeze. We were dropped off at Pier 91 at 12:30pm and were sipping wine from the balcony of our cabin at 1:50pm. The process of embarking 1800+ passengers in a mere few hours involved what we felt was an efficient use of the Disney system of queuing. The lines moved in an orderly fashion and Bill & I were so busy talking to fellow passengers that we really didn't notice. I specifically chose the Oosterdam over NCL, RCL, and Carnival ships because it doesn't cater to families. There were families aboard and the children seemed just as happy with the ship as we were. I should mention we didn't know there was a kids' activity center on the Observation Deck until the last day at sea. And, because the Oosterdam stopped at Sitka. I'm not sure why the other ships don't tender into the port, but I'm rather glad they don't. Sitka isn't spoiled by 5000 tourists descending upon them at one time. It's a beautiful place with the warmest of people. Continue reading... Fabulous Oosterdam June 9, 2013



Celebrity Silhouette Celebrity Silhouette by Meanderer

This was our second cruise on Celebrity. Both Celebrity sailings have been on Solstice class vessels, the first being the Solstice itself and this past cruise, the Silhouette. Both ships are magnificent! Engineering marvels, really! This review will concentrate on the Silhouette primarily. Check-in was a breeze. We are currently stationed in Germany so a European embarkation point just makes sense for us. We now know Venice a little better and can say that it is so very very easy to travel from the Marco Polo International Airport to the Piazza Le Roma by bus! From Piazza Le Roma, it is a one stop trip (only 1/2 a kilometer really) directly to the cruise port on the People Mover monorail. You can't go the wrong way as there is only one direction out of Piazza Le Roma. 14 Euros one way for both of us! Private taxi, you had better have 70 - 80 Euros handy. Once at the cruise port, we went directly to check in. We were early, 11:00am and no lines. We had done the online check in process which saves a lot of time at the counter. Verification of travel documents and credit card for the on board account and we were off to security for clearing. Rooms were not ready yet but there were parts of the ship ready for travelers (like the buffet for lunch and pool area.) Announcement let us know when rooms were ready and luggage arrived very timely. On the first night, specialty restaurants were %50 off so we went to Murano. Continue reading... Celebrity Silhouette



Carnival Conquest First cruise, but definitely won't be last. by kctenad1

This was my family's first cruise. I took great pleasure in reading every review I could find prior to our cruise date so I thought it only fair I take the time to submit one myself. Sorry if I get a little wordy. First and foremost I want to say we had a great time. Of course I had somewhat low expectations due to some of the negative reviews I had read, but I have since decided that for some reason people are more likely to write about what they didn't like than what they did. Embarkation: We stayed in a hotel across the street from the convention center and decided to walk to the port entrance around 1230 pm. Unfortunately there is no way to go through the convention center so we had to walk around it. I would estimate we had to walk 3-4 blocks. When we first arrived at the entrance I was worried because the line seemed to go on forever, but it moved ridiculously fast and we were on the ship in less than 45 minutes from the time we left the hotel without paying for anything extra (FTTF, etc...). Our room was ready when we got on the ship, and our bags which we had left with the porters, were delivered within a couple of hours. Continue reading... First cruise, but definitely won't be last.



Disney Dream Excellent Experience for the Kids. Stressful for Parents by jannan

Six of us went on this July 4 sailing, my wife and I and our two kids (6 and 2) and my parents. We had two separate staterooms not joining. This was a very good experience for the six year old. The Disney Adventure Club is extremely well run--its a place where kids over 3 can be "checked-in" securely and where they have games, movies, and other activities all run by a well staffed and well trained crew. Simply fantastic and a huge draw for this cruise. Actually the biggest draw in my opinion. We used the nursery twice for our 2 year old. It too was very well run, and the customer service is exceptional. We received little pictures and notes from the nursery staff documenting the 2 years old's visit. Fantastic. The nursery is an additional charge, however. So that's the first thing I would do differently: I would wait until my kids were over 3, and thus eligible for the free Adventure Club. Or, quite honestly, I think the ideal age for kids would be in the 5-8+ year old range. Kids in diapers aren't allowed in the pools, understandably so, so it's best to go with some a bit older. Other than the nursery there simply isn't any real "programming" for kids much under the age of say 4 or 5. And that is surprising to me, considering this is a Disney product. Continue reading... Excellent Experience for the Kids. Stressful for Parents


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