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Reviews of the Week by mringenoldus, cboyle, redxpanda, amplexusomnium & Dragonesque!

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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!


Allure of the Seas The Allure is a marvel to behold! by mringenoldus

Despite all the comprehensive reviews and advice I read prior to embarking on the Allure of the Seas, I have to admit I didn’t really fathom what it all meant. Perhaps this is a ship that must be experienced to understand. I hope my review will be of help to someone else excitedly waiting to get on board. I am a 62-year old grandmother and aunt to two 17-year old teens. We have traveled extensively over the years (the boys have their own diamond card status on RCCL). I have cruised 25+ times on Oceania, Azamara, Princess, RCCL,Celebrity, Costa and Carnival. Pre cruise Hotel We stayed at the Cambria Suites in Dania Beach at a military rate. These rooms are well designed and comfortable for a family - it was almost like having a mini-apartment. On this trip, I was traveling with my seventeen-year old grandson and nephew, so finding a bit of privacy was key. The hotel picked us up quickly upon arrival at FLL and only charged $5 for the transfer to the cruise port the next morning. Embarkation This process was just as smooth as everyone reports. We arrived at about 11:30 and were onboard at noon. I will admit that my first impression was “uh-oh” this is a very crowded ship. However, that impression proved false and was primarily due to the fact that until 1:00pm, everyone was compacted into the public areas. Continue reading... The Allure is a marvel to behold!



Grand Princess Cruising with Toddler Granddaughters by cboyle

ABOUT US John and I (Carolyn) are retired Mississippi State University professors in our early sixties, who currently reside in central North Carolina. Both of us are natives of New Orleans and, as such, are interested in good food (and wine!) and good times. Our preferred souvenir is a small regional or national flag. On this itinerary, I would not need to acquire any flags. We enjoy both cruises and land tours; often our trips combine the two. Many of our cruises have been in the Caribbean but we have also cruised to Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, the Panama Canal, the Mediterranean/Greek Isles, Scandinavia/Russia, Hawaiian Islands, French Polynesia, South America/Antarctic Peninsula, the Far East, the North Atlantic (Greenland/Iceland), parts of the British Isles, the Norwegian Fjords, the Galapagos Islands and the Holy Land/Egypt. We have taken land tours to the Netherlands, Canadian Rockies, Mexico (Cozumel), London, France (several wine regions and Paris), China, Argentina (Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Mendoza wine region), Chile (Santiago, several wine regions), Hawaiian Islands (Kauai, Maui, Hawaii) and to many parts of the continental USA. On our trips, we prefer nature and wildlife tours that involve snorkeling, SCUBA diving or hiking. In particular, we will hike for miles to see waterfalls, volcanoes, caves or other interesting geologic features. We also enjoy lighthouses, forts, castles and anything else we can legally climb up on for a good view. Continue reading... Cruising with Toddler Granddaughters



Carnival Dream Carnival Dream - Western Caribbean from Port Canaveral by redxpanda

Background: My husband and I are both 30. We were looking for an inexpensive week in the Caribbean over the summer of 2013. Only a few cruise lines stick around in the summer and run Caribbean cruises. We booked only 6 weeks in advance. and Carnival had the ports we were most interested at a price we could easily afford. We also live 30 minutes from Port Canaveral, so the Carnival Dream was the perfect fit for a last minute cruise choice. Our first cruise in 2006 was with Carnival. We have also done NCL in 2010 and Disney in 2012 and 2013. We did not purchase faster to the fun and we chose Your Time Dining. Embarkation: The Dream was late getting into PC the day we were set to leave,. We weren't able to enter the terminal until around 1pm vs the 'normal' 11am. Despite the delays, we happily arrived at 1:30pm, checked in VERY quickly and they started the boarding process around 1:50 pm with the special groups and faster to the fun. They started general group boarding around 2pm, we had group 14 and we were called to board at 2:15. Anytime I arrive at the terminal and start "walking on the ship" within 1 hour, is a great experience. Dining: Meh. This is where I really feel we got what we paid for. Main dining room food was mediocre and its not that we go out for fancy dinners all the time, we eat out at Moe's, Chipotle, Panera, Chilis, Carrabbas, etc. Sometimes it was underseasoned, or over sauced. One night my tiramisu was frozen in the middle! Which led me to wonder how old anything was that we were eating, if it was frozen. I would rate dining lower except the Deli, Mongolian Wok, and Tandoor were EXCELLENT! We didn't get a chance to try the pasta bar, because we were out in port during lunch on most days. In fact, that was our biggest complaint. The deli is open most of the day, so it's always a good option, but the rest of the GOOD stuff is only open a few hours at lunch time. Continue reading... Carnival Dream - Western Caribbean from Port Canaveral



Norwegian Breakaway Already planning our next trip! by amplexusomnium

We live in NJ, so this cruise was super easy for us, just a bus and taxi ride to the port. This was our 2nd cruise with NCL and after testing other cruiselines, NCL is by far our favorite. We aren't 400 pounds and bumble to the buffet, we are an active couple in our late 20s and prefer a modern cruise line that gives us options. We have also traveled to 22 countries, so we know our stuff! For example on Holland America all of our money went to the casino because there was nothing to do...on NCL we didn't gamble once besides the crane machine lol. We also enjoy freestyle cruising, we were celebrating a vow renewal so it's nice to be able to request a table for 2 and eat when you want. We were on the ship in 1/2 hour and our rooms were ready after lunch. Food: There are so many places to eat! We didn't even get to half of the restaurants, but here's what we did. Le Bistro-French, we went here twice, the french food tasted just as good as Paris, worth the $20 extra. The food is different than the main dining rooms, we tested it. The service was spectacular, I have a gluten allergy and they were more than accommodating anywhere we went, but at the French restaurant the 2nd time they remembered my allergy before getting my room card! Manahattan Room-delicious, always had a live band or dancing. Jungle Fantasy-did this the first night, it was 25% off, but we made reservations ahead of time and they adjusted the price for us...worth the show, but could be scary for those under age 5. Garden buffet-has everything you could want, really. Uptown Grill-specialty burgers and waffle fries, went there once. O'Sheehan's-delicious and 24 hours. Wasabi-good sushi....went the first night for a snack. My only complaint about the food is when they have the parties at night it would be nice if they had people walking around with food or a small appetizer buffet so if you get hungry you don't have to leave the party. Continue reading... Already planning our next trip!



Celebrity Millennium Marvelous Alaskan Adventure By Land and Sea! by Dragonesque

Someone once said that once you experience a great thing, you expect that level of greatness from everyone, each time. I will be the first to say that I am the Type A-ist of the dreaded Type A personality, just this side of "Big Bang Theory's" Sheldon Cooper and when it comes to my vacation tours, I want organization, fun, and that all-pervasive sense of greatness when it comes to an end something I can rave about for years to come. Back in 2009, I experienced that on the 13-day Celebrity cruise tour in Alaska. For the past 4 years, I have praised this tour to the skies. This time, the stratospheric heights of the land tour took a walloping in the guise of our land tour guide and bus driver. Overall, the entire trip was utterly fantastic, but Celebrity has got to do something about those land tour guides. Our story begins as follows: THE LAND PART - Wow. Day 1 Pike's Landing, Fairbanks What a beautiful little hotel. There was lots of fun decor, and my picture-taking started very early. I didn't care for the mattresses in the room they were a little too soft but kudos for the terrific water pressure in shower. My backache cheered up immediately. There was great coffee available in the lobby. The breakfast buffet looked wonderful but we didn't eat breakfast there because we planned to eat on the Wilderness Express train. Continue reading... Marvelous Alaskan Adventure By Land and Sea!


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