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Reviewed: ms Amacello
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Submitted to category: Cruise Ships/AmaWaterways

(Review ID: 290)
10 of 17 people found the following review helpful:
 
Beautiful ship with good service but rather uninteresting itinerary, September 4, 2010
Reviewer: tcambron
Pros: Ship design, cleanliness, and friendliness of the staff
Cons: Lower Danube itinerary far less interesting than Upper Danube.
Date of cruise: August 16, 2010
Departure port: Rousse, Bulgaria
Region visited: Europe
Cabin category: Balcony
Cabin number: 329
Found through: CruiseCompete.com,Cruise line website,Cruise community site,Cruise deal website
Good for children: No
Good for teenagers: No
    
Value For Money   4.00/5  (4)
Cabin Design   4.00/5  (4)
Entertainment   1.00/5  (1)
Food Quality   4.00/5  (4)
Ship Maintenance   5.00/5  (5)
Staff and Service   4.00/5  (4)

Amacello launched in 2008. Cabins were 170 sq. ft. which is larger than most riverboats but still crowded. We had a queen-sized bed, upholstered chair and a desk chair. French balcony is a full length operational sliding glass door with a railing on the outside.

Cabin amenities included an LCD monitor that could be used as a TV or a computer monitor. A keyboard and mouse could be used to access the free internet. There were a few instances when the internet was not available due to the terrain. The speed was slower than broadband at home but was acceptable. There were about 12 TV channels available including CNN and BBC. A variety of free movies could be accessed, including a fair number of new releases.

Free bottled water was available in the cabin and also at the gangway for each excursion. Two thick terrycloth robes and slippers were provided he bathroom was small but had a very nice shower with three shower heads and plenty of water pressure. There was adequate closet space with a large number of hangers. There was also a number of shelves.

All excursions were included and no optional excursions were offered. Except for one day when we passed through the Iron Gates and locks, there was an excursion every day.

Weather was very warm and sunny every day.

Coffee on ship was fair. Had a machine that made espresso, cappuccino, mocha, etc. No iced tea.

Ships capacity was 148 passengers but there were only 106 on our cruise. Three decks with cabins. A small elevator was available for those that had trouble with steps.

There was a small fitness room with a sauna, two treadmills (one broken) and a stationary bike. Never saw the fitness center being used. There was also a hot tub on the top deck. Four bicycles were available for passenger use, but we never saw them used.

Sue was our program director – average at best. Could not understand her over the PA...she needed to speak louder and slower.

Crew on ship very friendly and were always busy.

Entertainment: A few nights of local entertainment – folk dancers, folk singers, violin and piano player, and a lecturer on Eastern Europe politics and history. There was an onboard pianist that played every afternoon and evening.

No room service

Open seating in dining room – local food, three choices for entrée - one fish, one meat and one vegetarian. Usually two choices of appetizer, two choices for soup, and three choices for dessert. There were also some entrees available each day including steak and salmon. Food presented nicely. Unlimited free wine with different choices of white or red each night. Most wines were from local areas or Germany.

Service in restaurant good and friendly at dinner time, but was lacking for breakfast and lunch. Often long waits for coffee to be served and for waiter to take order. Had to remind waiter that we had not placed an order more times than not.

Cabin steward did not introduce herself. No ice in room, but ice machine was available near reception.

Cabin #329 was the second to the last cabin. While cruising, there was excessive vibration and noise. The four or five aft cabins should be avoided.

Library had good selection of paperback books that had been donated by passengers and some travel books.

Chocolates on pillow.

Ship clean and in excellent condition.

Bridge tour was offered.

Some nice little touches that were included were drinks and cold towels after excursions, a handwritten postcard sent to our home thanking us for cruising with AMA, chocolates on the bed at night like the big cruise ships and hard candy on reception desk.

Recommended gratuities was 12 Euros per day for crew and 3 Euros per day for cruise manager. That is about $20 per day which is definitely the highest recommended tip amount we have seen on a cruise. The gratuities are not automatically added to shipboard account as on most ocean cruises. You could either put cash into a envelope or fill out a form to add it to your onboard account.

Bar drinks were expensive ($7.20 for a cocktail, without tip included), weak and poorly made.

Embarkation: We arrived at the ship around noon and were warmly welcomed by the customer service desk and told that the cabins would not be ready until around 3 p.m. We were escorted into the lounge where hot hors d’oeuvres, cold drinks and coffee were available. The Hotel Manager came in and introduced herself and chatted for a few minutes.

The majority of the passengers (about 80 of the 106 on board) did a pre-cruise land tour that started in Istanbul. Their buses starting arriving about 2 p.m. Shortly thereafter, we were told that our cabins were ready and were escorted to the cabin.

Disembarkation: The process was similar to ocean cruises but due to the small size of the ship it was much smoother and easier. We filled out a form a few days prior to the end of the cruise with our post-cruise travel information. Our plan was to have a private guide pick us up at the ship at 10 a.m. for a tour of Budapest and a transfer to the airport. We were given color-coded tags for the luggage. The luggage had to be placed in the hallway after breakfast and before 8:30 a.m. as opposed to the night before which is common on ocean cruises. When the driver arrived, ship personnel carried our luggage from the ship to the van.

Ports - Bucharest, Romania; Rousse, Giurgiu, Vidin Bulgaria; Belgrade, Novi Sad Serbia; Vukovar Croatia; Mohacs, Pecs, Budapest, Hungary.
 
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Reviewed: Celebrity Infinity
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Submitted to category: Cruise Ships/Celebrity Cruises

(Review ID: 349)
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
 
15-night Panama Canal, September 11, 2010
Reviewer: tcambron
Pros: Service and food top notch
Cons: Ship shows sign of aging
Date of cruise: 4/26/2009
Departure port: Fort Lauderdale
Region visited: Panama Canal
Cabin category: Outside
Cabin number: 2127
Found through: CruiseCompete.com,Cruise line website,Cruise community site,Cruise deal website,Email newsletters
Good for children: Yes
Good for teenagers: Yes
    
Value For Money   5.00/5  (5)
Cabin Design   4.00/5  (4)
Entertainment   4.00/5  (4)
Fitness Center   4.00/5  (4)
Food Quality   5.00/5  (5)
Ship Maintenance   1.00/5  (1)
Specialty Restaurant   4.00/5  (4)
Staff and Service   5.00/5  (5)

Embarkation: Very slow. There was an explosion on the pier so we had to wait in the terminal for one or two hours. Champagne offered on arrival. Someone escorted us to cabin and carried bag.

Ship showed age. Upholstered chairs had some ragged corners and carpet showed wear. All brass and metalwork shiny. Sufficient elevators - seldom crowded and hardly ever had to wait. Main theater was well designed with three levels and with no posts or obstructed views. Other public areas were very nice.

Cabin: 170 sq ft. Had two extra beds that were stored in ceiling. Did not have flat-screen TV. Small couch, and small glass table. One chair and stool. Ghirardelli chocolates at night. TV channels limited. TV movies were pay-per-view. TV had interactive channels with account info, room service, pay-per-view movies ($10), etc. Program delivered when cabin cleaned. Newspaper at Guest Relations. In-room refrigerator. Terrycloth robes provided free. Heard noises from hall and from neighbors.

Library: Two levels with fair amount of books. Honor system sign out. Each morning had sudoku and crossword at Reception desk. No prizes.

Fitness center: Excellent. Many treadmills (8?), ellipticals (8?), stair climbers (3?) and stationary bikes (6?). All had TVs and heart rate monitors. 12-15 weight machines - new and very good.

Internet cafe: Did not use. Looked like 10-15 terminals. Cost with small package was $.53 per minute.

Movie theater but selection of movies was poor. Had two or three children's movies even though there were only a couple of kids on the ship. Most other movies we had not heard of.

Entertainment: Singer Jordan Bennett was excellent. Comedian was good. Magician/comedian very good. Singer Jamala was good. Harmonica player was surprisingly good. Did not go to production shows. Bands were very good but house orchestra was not. Many activities. Golf putting poorly organized and only held once. Did not go to any trivia. Cruise director was visible and okay.

Coffee: Fair - good at Cova Cafe but was $3.45 for Americano. Did not order cappuccino in restaurant

Large ship (1,950 passengers) - no lines, easy to get around, fast convenient elevators. Extremely clean.

Smoking area well defined and outside. Not a problem.

Few announcements - could not hear any announcements in cabin. Noon captain's talk. nly a few announcements were in multiple languages.

Room service - did not use

Dining room nice - two levels - sat on side with window at table for 10 - not too noisy - first seating. Waiter Rodel called us by name. Bus boy remembered to bring iced tea. Excellent service. Salad dressing spooned on by bus boy. Ate dinner one night in Oceanview Grill - service good - expected tip $2 pp - order from menu with a daily special, tablecloths.

SS United States specialty restaurant $30pp - did not go.

Food very good - service excellent had escargot two nights, lobster only one. Bread was outstanding. Hot and cold soups both good.

Oceanview Buffet (Lido) good for breakfast had multiple stations with cooked-to-order omelets and fried eggs. A station with waffles, crepes and fresh fruit. An Asian breakfast station. Sticky buns. Plenty of coffee/tea stations. Excellent food. Lunch had pizza, pasta bar, stir fry, hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos, salad bar. Great variety. Layout excellent so that lines were short. No problem finding seats. Waiters seldom refilled coffee and never drinks. Occasionally helped with trays.

No fresh squeezed orange juice.

Aqua Spa Cafe good for healthier choices at lunch and breakfast - egg white omelets, meat free tacos, fruit, etc.

Ice cream free.

Late night snacks but we did not go.

Cabin steward excellent - introduced himself at beginning of cruise. Often saw him in hall and he always smiled and spoke.

Library okay - did not have prizes for trivia.

Photographers annoying - Had a large staff and were very intrusive.

Captain was Greek and spoke well at three occasions where we saw him.

Conservatory with flowers. Priest said daily mass in cinema. Four hot tubs. Paddle ball and basketball court. No galley or bridge tours (security) Disembarkation very slow. Boarding cards did not have picture ID - had to carry photo ID off and on ship.

Enrichment series lectures with Bob McAlwee, former NFL official, very interesting. Dr. Hall's lectures on history, etc. boring.

Service excellent. Crew seemed genuinely happy and eager to please.

Tenders were dirty and seats in need of repair.

Got chintzy tote bag.

Wine and drinks expensive - $7-9 and $6.50-7 (for high ball) Casino fairly large. Texas hold'em tournaments $60. For 10 players paid $300/$200.
 
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Reviewed: Celebrity Summit
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Submitted to category: Cruise Ships/Celebrity Cruises

(Review ID: 295)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
 
14-day Mediterranean cruise from Venice to Barcelona, September 6, 2010
Reviewer: tcambron
Pros: Service and food excellent
Cons: Ship showing age
Date of cruise: 11/14/2009
Departure port: Venice, Italy
Region visited: Mediterranean
Cabin category: Balcony
Cabin number: 8166
Found through: CruiseCompete.com,Cruise line website,Cruise community site,Cruise deal website,Email newsletters
Good for children: No
    
Value For Money   5.00/5  (5)
Cabin Design   5.00/5  (5)
Entertainment   3.00/5  (3)
Fitness Center   5.00/5  (5)
Food Quality   5.00/5  (5)
Ship Maintenance   2.00/5  (2)
Specialty Restaurant   4.00/5  (4)
Staff and Service   5.00/5  (5)

Embarkation: Smooth and quick. Boarded in Venice around noon. Champagne offered on arrival. Someone escorted us to cabin and carried bag.

Ship showed age.In cabin, sofas were frayed, railing badly needed varnish, TV remote did not work too well, carpet worn, balcony showed rust and needed paint, and paint droppings on floor.

Sufficient elevators – seldom crowded and hardly ever had to wait. Main theater was well designed with three levels and with no posts or obstructed views. Other public areas were very nice. Sister ship to Infinity.

Cabin: Family ocean view - 271 sq ft. plus 242 sq ft balcony. Balcony had 270 deg view with table, four chairs and four chaises. Two separate rooms with a dividing door between them. One room had two couches that could fold out to beds, a TV, table and two coffee tables. Bedroom had TV, refrigerator, long desk, and two night stands. Double the normal amount of closet space. An approximately 10 foot entry hall from main hall. Very, very nice, large cabin. Thin terry cloth robes. Did not have flat screen TV. Ghirardelli chocolates at night. TV channels limited. TV movies were free on one channel. TV had interactive channels with account info, room service, pay-per-view movies ($10), etc. Program delivered when cabin cleaned. Newspaper at Guest Relations. Did not put towel on floor beside bed. Heard noises from hall and from neighbors.

Library: Two levels with fair amount of books. Honor system sign out. Each morning had sudoku and crossword in library. No prizes.

Fitness center: Excellent. Many treadmills (8?), ellipticals (8?), stair climbers (3?) and stationary bikes (6?). All had TVs and heart rate monitors. Twelve-15 weight machines – new and very good.

Internet café: Took laptop. Used Select Captains Club coupon for 25% off packages. Hot spots in bars and one side of buffet. Bought $50 (less 25%) package for about 100 min. and then $30 (less 25%) for about 55 min. Speed okay.

Entertainment: Movie theater with good new movies. Fred ?, a comedian, was very good . Rest of entertainment was poor to average. Went to one or two production shows - fair. Bands were okay. Guitar player/singer was poor. Went to trivia a few times. Cruise director Damien ? from Canada was visible and good.

Coffee: Fair to good – good at Cova Café but was $4.60 (twice was charged only $3.45) for Americano. Did not order cappuccino in restaurant

Large ship (1,950 passengers) – no lines, easy to get around, fast convenient elevators. Smoking area well defined and outside. Extremely clean. Few announcements – could not hear any announcements in cabin. Noon captain’s talk. Only a few announcements were in multiple languages.

Room service – menu limited. Ordered lunch four or five times, usually club sandwiches. Ordered cookies and coffee couple times. Dining room nice – two levels. Excellent service. Salad dressing spooned on by bus boy. Ate dinner one night in Waterfall cafe (Lido) – service was inexperienced waitress but good - expected tip $2 pp – order from menu with a daily special, tablecloths. Normandie restaurant $30pp – went once. Service excellent, food very good. Had to send first filet back – overcooked and tough.

Food very good overall – service excellent, escargot and crème brule on menu every night. Lobster only once. Bread, hot and cold soups good. Meat was much better than fish. Waterfall cafe (Lido) for breakfast had multiple stations with cooked to order omelets and fried eggs. A station with waffles, eggs benedict and fresh fruit. An Asian breakfast station. Sticky buns. Plenty of coffee/tea stations. Excellent food. Lunch had pizza, pasta bar, stir fry, hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos, salad bar. Great variety. Layout excellent so that lines were short. No problem finding seats. Waiters seldom refilled coffee and never drinks. Occasionally helped with trays. Aqua spa café good for healthier choices at lunch and breakfast – egg white omelets, meat free tacos, fruit, etc. Ice cream free. Late night snacks but we did not go.

Cabin stewards excellent - introduced themselves at beginning of cruise. Often saw him in hall and he always smiled and spoke.

Photographers not too annoying. Conservatory with flowers Priest said daily mass in cinema. Four hot tubs. Galley tour and behind the scenes theater tour but no bridge tours (security).

Other thoughts:

Disembarkation fairly quick.

Boarding cards did not have picture ID – had to carry photo id off and on ship.

Enrichment series lectures . Service excellent. Crew seemed genuinely happy and eager to please.

Tenders were okay.

Wine and drinks expensive - $7-9 and 6.50-7 (for high ball) Casino fairly large. Texas hold’em tournaments $60. For 10 players paid $300/$200.

Had Norovirus outbreak. Went to ship’s doctor twice. Had IV. No charge.
 
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Reviewed: MSC Lirica
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Submitted to category: Cruise Ships/MSC Italian

(Review ID: 302)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
 
Eastern Caribbean on MSC Lirica 1/3/2009, September 7, 2010
Reviewer: tcambron
Pros: Beautiful new ship in excellent condition
Cons: MSC not ready to compete in American market - service & food awful
Date of cruise: 1/3/2009
Departure port: Ft. Lauderdale
Region visited: Caribbean - Eastern
Cabin category: Balcony
Cabin number: 10005
Found through: CruiseCompete.com,Cruise line website,Cruise community site,Cruise deal website,Email newsletters
Good for children: No
Good for teenagers: No
    
Value For Money   3.00/5  (3)
Cabin Design   5.00/5  (5)
Entertainment   2.00/5  (2)
Fitness Center   2.00/5  (2)
Food Quality   1.00/5  (1)
Ship Maintenance   5.00/5  (5)
Staff and Service   1.00/5  (1)

Embarkation: Smooth and quick. No champagne offered when we boarded. Someone escorted us to cabin but did not offer to carry bags. On-line “express check-in” did not work – very confusing on whether it had to be done earlier than 48 hrs. or within 48 hrs.

Ship was in very good condition. No signs of wear on carpet. All brass and metalwork shiny. Sufficient elevators – seldom crowded and hardly ever had to wait. Artwork was sparse and not inspiring. Main theater was well designed with no posts or obstructed views. Other public areas were very nice.

Cabin: Very nice, 250 sq ft including balcony. Bathroom had tub with shower and an odd smell. Steward filled little cup in floor with water and that helped for a day. Had to call twice to get fixed. Did not have flat screen TV. Small couch, and small glass table. One chair and stool. resh fruit in room. No chocolate at night. Very generous storage area.

TV channels were CNN, TNT, ESPN (mostly international) and free movies (never watched). Listing for movie times was provided in daily program. TV did not have interactive channels with account info, room service, pay-per-view movies, etc. Program usually delivered when cabin cleaned. No newspaper on ship. In-room refrigerator.Did not put towel on floor beside bed. Terry cloth robes provided free. Balcony had two chairs and small table; well divided from neighbors.

Library: We did not see it but heard that it was very small with few English books. Each morning had sudoku at Reception desk. No prizes.

Fitness center: Very small. Required to register in order to use. Only three treadmills and two of them did not work. Couple of bikes, and no ellipticals. The instructions with weight machines were in Italian. Did not see any TVs. No heart rate monitors. Only tried to use once. Very poor.

Internet café: Very expensive. Did not use.

No movie theater.

Entertainment: Good but same performers every night. There were no “headliners”. Violin players in Atmosphere Lounge very good. No orchestra. ackground music for shows was recorded. No daily trivia. Only games were outside by pool. Mostly loud, juvenile and in Italian accent. Miniature golf was in terrible condition. Cruise director was never seen except a few times to introduce show.

Coffee: Poor at buffet and restaurant. Coffee in coffee bar was good - $1.80 for Americano and $2.25 for cappuccino. Did not order cappuccino in restaurant

Medium size ship (1,560 passengers capacity) – few lines.

Too much smoking. One whole lounge dedicated to smokers.

Moderate announcements – important announcements in five languages – no captain’s talk at noon

Life boat drill in five languages.

Room service menu poor – no hot breakfast - did not use.

Dining room: Two dining rooms. Sat near front – noisy – first seating at 5:30. Original seat assignments were at three different tables for the four couples. Maitre’d was somewhat rude and made it difficult to change. It was resolved by second night.

Waiter and bus boy did not introduce selves and did not address us by name. Waiter not very friendly. Waiter did not take ladies' orders first. Waiter reached across to deliver food and pick up. Waiter was inconsistent in which side he took order. No fresh ground pepper offered. Salad dressings were not brought to table but were already on salads. Service very slow.

No wine steward – drink orders difficult. Waiter had to get bar waiter. Once bar waiter took order from other side of table and refused request to come to my side, so I had to holler for him to hear order. The incorrect drink was then brought three different times. Did not have dinner in buffet. It was closed on formal nights. Three formal nights. No specialty restaurants.

Food poor – steaks overcooked, fish very small and generally dry, wiener schnitzel was greasy, reuben sandwich ordered at lunch was awful. Italian dishes and pastas were particularly disappointing. Appetizers okay but not as good as most ships. Salads okay. Cold soups were good Desserts poor in selection, quality and appearance. Lido buffet area large with duplicate single lines on each side. Never had problem finding seats. Dessert selection poor and same each day. Glasses for tea and water were extremely small (~3-4 oz.). Usually sat in outside section. Waiters in Lido did not refill coffee or tea. Never saw waiter carrying trays for passengers.

Cooked to order omelets, pancakes and fried eggs available. Ice cream was $2.50 per serving outside of restaurant. Had midnight buffet (at 11 p.m.) but we did not go.

Cabin steward good – did not introduce himself, spoke often in hallway, did not call us by name.

Photographers annoying – had a large staff and were very intrusive.

Captain spoke adequate English. Never saw him around ship.

Staff did not move out of way in hallways. Passengers had to give way.

Catholic priest said mass on Sunday.

Deck chairs were of odd design that only allowed severe reclining position. The only way to read was to find a wall to prop chair against. Used hot pool – water was not hot. Only two small hot pools. Towels by pool had to be signed out and returned to avoid a charge.

No galley or bridge tours (security).

Disembarkation was extremely slow once we were off ship. Boarding cards did not have picture ID – had to carry photo id off and on ship but never checked.

Service – overall very poor. Crew seemed untrained and not very happy.

Bar waiters did not push drinks.

Tenders clean, nice and in good repair.

Medical services were inexpensive - $35 for office visit.

Wine and drinks inexpensive - $4 and 4.90 (for high ball) Not allowed to bring water, wine, cokes, etc. on board. E-mail said they would confiscate. Did not really seem to check.
 
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Reviewed: Villefranche
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Submitted to category: Ports of Call/Europe/France

(Review ID: 291)
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful:
 
Port for Monte Carlo, September 4, 2010
Reviewer: tcambron
Pros: Picturesque French Riviera seacoast town
Cons: Little to see near ship.
    
Overall   4.00/5  (4)

This is a small town on the French Riviera. The ship anchored here and we rode tenders to the dock. We took a train into Monaco and walked to the Monte Carlo casino. It cost 10 Euros each to enter and you had to be properly dressed, so we did not go in. It's impressive from the outside.

This is the most densely populated country in the world. You see many exotic cars, like Rolls Royces, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, etc. We walked up to the Palace where the Prince lives. We went into the Cathedral where Princess Grace (Kelly) and the other princes and princesses of Monaco are buried.

We took a bus back to center of town and transferred to another bus to Eze (pronounced Ehz). This is a very small village up high on the side of a mountain overlooking the Med. We went to a perfume store/factory and stopped at sidewalk cafe for a cappuccino. We then took a bus down the mountain - exciting ride. Another bus took us back to the ship.
 
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