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Royal Caribbean or P&O?

Posted by RCI fans on July 7, 2012 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (1)

After getting back from our cruise on board Brilliance of the Seas it was just a week before it was time to head to Southampton to board P&O's Oceana. It was the first time I had ever been on a P&O cruise and my first non-RCI cruise. In this post I will compare the two lines to find out which line is better.


Accommodation

Royal Caribbean's staterooms are averaged sized. They feature the modern necessities such as a safe, fridge and TV. Although the design and layout is practical, space is an issue on all of the cabins I've stayed in. For instance, when the beds are split into a twin, you have about 30cm between the end of the bed and the TV stand, so getting to the balcony for example can be a squeeze. The sofa is a nice addition in the cabins as it gives you another place to sit other than your bed. A great touch is that each night your Stateroom Attendent makes up a towel animal on your bed.



P&O's Inside cabin was much larger than I was expecting. It did not have a sofa, so that made more space. The thing that impressed me the most, however was the amount of draw space available. All in all there was 12 draws between us, not including the large wardrobe with even more draws! So finding a place for all your clothes was easy. A nice feature by P&O was a 'Welcome' balloon and sweets. You also recieved 2 bottles of complimentary water and biscuits each day. Unfortunatly, the Stateroom Attendent never made a towel animal, unlike Royal Caribbean.


Winner: P&O



Food (Dining Room)

Food on Royal Caribbean is always good. I have never had a bad meal yet. Although the quality of ingredients may not be as good as other cruise lines, the presentation and variety of all the food is excellent. Even if you request something thats not on the main menu, they will present your food to you in a great unique way.



The quality of food on P&O is better than Royal Caribbean. However presentation needs to be worked on. Especially meals with gravy, as every time we had a meal with gravy, splash marks were all around the plate. There was not always a great variety on the menu either. On Royal Caribbean there is always a list of 4-5 meals that are on the menu every night, so if you don't see anything you like on the main menu, you can always pick something off the alternative menu. The accompaniments were sometimes quite strange. I had a Chicken Kiev one night and it was served with boiled potatoes, where as one night I had a Leg of Lamb in gravy, which was served with potato croquettes.


Winner: Royal Caribbean



(Buffet)

The Windjammer is the buffet restaurant on board Royal Caribbean. The selection is always very good. Finding a table is always the hardest part of the operation though. Free Lemonade, Ice Tea and Summer Fruits are available as well as Tea, Coffee and Hot Chocolate. You can also buy drinks from the number of bar staff walking around the restaurant. Seperate counters make finding the food you want easy to find.



The buffet restaurant on P&O's Oceana is called the Plaza. It was always easier to find a table, compared to Royal Caribbean, and you felt like you could take your time eating, which were really the only positive things about our experience in The Plaza. I found the size of the actual food counters very small for the size of the restaurant. This led to the space being very crowded at busy periods. Plenty of staff were on duty to help you find/clear a table or to help carry your tray, which was a good thing, but no one ever seemed to come round and offer you bar service. This was a common problem throughout our cruise too. (I'll be talking about this later.) The selection was also very poor. If you didn't like curry, there was very little to choose from. Chips were available, but what with? There was very rarely anything to go with them.

Most of the time we ate at the Horizon Grill instead. The Grill serves burgers, fish, jacket potatoes and a few other things all freshly made in front of you.


Winner: Royal Caribbean



Entertainment

Royal Caribbean is known for pushing the boundaries for entertainment on cruise ships. All their ships offer broadway quality shows and fancy stage productions. The 'Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers' always put on a great show. The theatre onboard is always like a theatre you would see on land.



P&O's main theatre is very small for the amount of people onboard. You have to get their early to get a seat and only recently have you actually been allowed to take drinks into the theatre, which I was suprised to hear. The shows are more low budget, however I have to congratulate P&O on their guest acts. Unlike Royal Caribbean, where the acts are relatively unheard of. During our cruise, P&O had 'Diddy' David Hamilton, who is a British radio presenter with 50 years of experience under is belt and has hosted over 12,000 radio shows. Another guest act during our cruise was Mark Walker, the son of Roy Walker who used to present 'Catchphrase' in the UK. He performed 2 great different comedy/variety shows. The 'Headliners Theatre Company' are the equivalent to the RCI 'Singer and Dancers' except with less talent. They reminded me more of an amateur dramatics group you would expect to see performing at a school or community centre. Despite all this, I did prefer every show on board P&O compared to Royal Caribbean.


Winner: P&O



Service

Royal Caribbean's staff always give you great service. Royal Caribbean refer to it as 'The Gold Anchor Service.' Bar staff are always present to fetch you a drink. In the main dining room, the Assistant Waiter always keeps your drinks topped up or offers you if you would like another drink.


The service on P&O is something not to be desired. There seems to be a lackluster approach. Bar staff are sometimes hard to find and even when they are present, there very rarely ask if you would like a drink. At dinner time, if you say no to a drink when they ask you the first time, don't expect to get asked if you would like one later.


Very little selling is done on P&O. i.e. If you don't ask for it, you won't get it. Royal Caribbean are always promoting the Drink of the Day and speciality drinks/food.


Winner: Royal Caribbean



Tipping

The way the tipping works, is why the staff give you the level of service, in which they do. Because tipping is optional on Royal Caribbean, the staff work extra hard to get a tip.


Unlike P&O where tipping is added automatically at the end of your cruise whatever, most of the staff have less enthusiasm because they get their tip no matter what.



Clientele

Royal Caribbean clientele are mostly families or young adults. Therefore their activities and events are set up for that market.


P&O attracts an older audience. Although there are child activities and kids club, you see very few children on board unless during holiday time.



Overall Opinion

Overall I still prefer Royal Caribbean. The service is really a cut above the rest and I think that is the main reason why I love Royal Caribbean so much. P&O is still a good cruise line, but for my taste and age group, it really wasn't for me. It is certainly geared up for older people.

24 hour countdown

Posted by RCI fans on June 1, 2012 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

It's just 24 hours until we set sail on our cruise on board Brilliance of the Seas. No longer are we sailing around the Norwegian Fjords. Instead we will be cruising to Denmark and Germany. As usual we will be taking plenty of photos and videos for the site.  



With the on-going strikes in Norway, our cruise has had to be diverted and is now scheduled to dock at; Copenhagen, Berlin and Aahrus.


As per usual, we will not be updating our site with any current news stories (some special posts may be posted however) and we will unfortunately not be able to respond to any of your emails or comments until we get back. If you would like to contact us between 2nd-9th June, then please get in touch via Twitter and we will try and answer back as soon as possible.


You can keep up to date with our cruise adventure on Twitter by following us at @RCI_fans. You can also follow our tweets using the hashtag #BrillianceOTS 

Grandeur of the Seas Review

Posted by RCI fans on November 6, 2011 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I thoroughly enjoyed my cruise onboard the wonderful Grandeur of the Seas. First impressions of the ship were very surprising. The ship looked much bigger than I was expecting. After being on Independence and Oasis of the Seas, I thought Grandeur would be dwarfed by the bigger ships. It was noticeably smaller, but standing next to her at Palma Port made the ship look huge!

As we boarded the ship, it was clear straight away that Grandeur was in need of a major refurbishment. Luckily though, Grandeur of the Seas is expected to have a full refit in the New Year. There were no speciality restaurants onboard such as Chops Grille and Portofino’s. The only restaurants onboard were the two deck Great Gatsby Dining Room and the Windjammer Marketplace. We explored the ship while waiting for our suitcases to arrive. The Centrum is a wonderful area. It is a place where all the decks are connected together and alcoves of little seating areas and bars, such as the Champagne Bar, are located. I would say I prefer the Centrum than the Royal Promenade on other Royal Caribbean ships because of the spirit the place holds. It makes it a lovely spot for catching up with friends and family. The pool deck is also a lovely place on the ship. You can relax in Solarium or sunbathe near the main pool.

The Palladium Theatre is one of the grandest theatres in the fleet. I love the ‘sofa seating’ arrangement where you can have a private sofa for 1, 2 or 3 people. In my opinion it is better than the seating on the Freedom and Oasis class ships. On the more newer ships they seem to cram as many people in as possible, whereas this theatre was much nicer to sit in.

We spent the next day in Barcelona. We visited the Segrada Familia, walked along Las Ramblas and had a trip on the Metro. We boarded the ship just in time as when we got through security, the heavens opened and there was a thunder storm which lasted the remainder of the day!

The next day we docked in Ibiza, where we would be docked until 11.00pm so some guests could have a taste of the Ibiza nightlife. There isn’t much to say about it really. We had a relaxing day on the beach in the nearby town of Playa de Bossa.

The next stop for the cruise was Malaga. Jason and Joan boarded their cruise here on Adventure of the Seas in November last year, so they knew what to do.

*RCI fans Tip*

Don’t buy Royal Caribbean’s coach transfers for this port of a call, as a local service bus picks up in the coach bays next to the terminal and drops you off at the same point as the coach transfer does. Royal Caribbean charge $10 per person for the transfer, but it is around €1.45 per person return, so you do save quite a lot. You should only buy the RCI transfer if you plan to make several trips to and from the ship.

The next day we arrived in the British town of Gibraltar! This port of call was by far the best place out of the cruise itinerary. Royal Caribbean do not run a transfer into the town, as it is within walking distance of the town centre. I was also shocked when I heard there were no taxi’s in Gibraltar apart from the ‘Rock Tour’ minibuses which do drop you off in the town for €2 each. As I am from England, I loved walking down the Main Street and seeing English shops such as BHS and Marks and Spencers. Alcohol and Tobacco are also very cheap here, but you are only allowed to bring 1 bottle/packet back onboard. We walked to the Cable Car station to go up the Rock of Gibraltar. We waited for around 10 minutes. You will see companies outside the Cable Car entrance trying to get you to go on a tour with them. I would advise you not to go with these people. Although they are legitimate tours, it is easier and cheaper to do it yourself on the cable car. Plus it is a great experience! The monkeys were adorable, yet dangerous. If you follow the rules posted around the site, they shouldn’t bother you. When you go up you should try and keep all bags closed and do not carry and plastic bags as the monkeys love them! (Watch our video on YouTube!) We spent about an hour up there laughing at the monkeys play around and taking in the views of the coastline of Africa, before heading back down the rock. We decided to have a meal in a restaurant called ‘Mamma Mias’ it is situated next to the cable car station and they serve delicious Italian pizza’s cooked over a stone baked oven. I would highly recommend you visiting.

Day 6 was spent at sea. The most interesting thing happened that day, as a ‘medical emergency’ happened. The captain informed us that we would have to make an abrupt detour to the nearest port, so that a passenger could get air lifted to hospital. The ship went ‘full throttle’ to get just off the coast of Cartagena, where we saw a glimpse of Mariner of the Seas! 9We were eating at the dining room when all this happened, so we took no photos, which was a disappointment.) The ship stopped and dropped its anchor all outside decks were closed off and sunbeds were stacked away. We then waited for the helicopter to arrive. A man was airlifted onto the ship to attach the ill passenger. We were never told what was wrong with the passenger, but it must have been serious for this to happen.

The food onboard was fabulous each night. There was a good selection of food on the menu. We had a fantastic waiter called Idege who served us every day.

I would definatly like to go back on this vessel sometime in the future. It would be intersting to see what it would be like after the ‘revitalization’ has been done. I highly recommend you cruise on this ship!

Grandeur Diaries - Day 1

Posted by RCI fans on October 24, 2011 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Welcome to our daily diary from our cruise on Grandeur of the Seas.

We arrived at the airport to be greeted by a Royal Caribbean Representative. He told us what we had to do when we got off the plane. I was surprised when he said he had never been on a cruise!

First impressions of the ship were very surprising. As the coach transfer dropped us off outside Grandeur, it seened surprisingly big! We passed through Palma terminal quickly and easily and boarded the gangplank leading to the ship. It was very clear, straight away that the ship was in need of a major refit. Luckily though Grandeur of the Seas is scheduled for a overhaul in the new year. As the ship was built in 1996, dining options are limited. There is only really the Great Gatsby Dining Room and the Windjammer to choose from. There are no speciality restuarants such as Chops Grille or Portofinos at all. This will change, however, when the refit commences.

We explored the ship briefly while waiting for our cases to arrive. The centrum is a wonderful area. Staitcases interwine through floors and cosy alcoves of seating are all in this area making it a great spot for catching up with friends and families. The lovely pianist plays great tunes as you stroll around the area.

The pool deck is also a nice place to spend time. You can relax in the Solarium or sunbathe near the main pool.

The Palladium Theatre is by far the best theatre in the Royal Caribbean fleet. The chairs are in groups of 1,2 or 3 and have cup holders. They a re much better than the seating on the Freedom and Oasis class ships.

We didn't get to see much of Palma, but the Cathederal was superb!

After dinner it was straight to the Palladium Theatre for the evening show. The entertainmet was a circus acrobat which sounds good, however he was not. He did a few good stunts, but mostly did lame dancing to porolong the show. It was clear that a lot of other people thought he was rubbish too as he recieved very little applause. He even interupted the Cruise Director to try and get some extra claps.

That was Day 1, we'll be posting more diaries after we get back! See you soon!

Grandeur of the Seas - 3 Day Checkpoint

Posted by RCI fans on October 19, 2011 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Well, I can't believe it, I'm posting this message exactly 3 days before we depart on Grandeur of the Seas

That means we will be taking a weeks vacation from our website and other social pages. We will however be keeping you up to date on our voyage via Twitter. We will be tweeting a couple of updates throughout the week. During this time we would like to remind you not to be offened if we don't reply back to any of your mentions or emails.

We will be taking lots of photos and videos (3GB worth of SD card memory to be exact!) of our time on Grandeur of the Seas including a stateroom tour of our JUNIOR SUITE! Yes, in the last few days we recieved a free upgrade from Royal Caribbean International from a Balcony cabin to a Junior Suite. It's the first time ever we have stayed in a suite, so this experience will broaden our knowledge to help you even more with your cruising questions!

When we get back from the cruise, we will be writing a review about our cruise on Mikey's site, mikeyscruiseblog.com We will also publish a few videos on YouTube showcasing our time on Grandeur. We hope to also record a podcast about our cruise, when we get back, but this is still unconfirmed.

We hope to publish a farewell message just before we leave as well!

We will be back to normal on 31st October (in time for Haloween!) See you soon!!! Bon Voyage!

Awesome Ship review by Travel Shop Girl!

Posted by RCI fans on October 13, 2011 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (0)

travelshopgirl.com has kindly allowed us to feature her Adventure of the Seas review on our site. We think its amazing!

With the many ships of Royal Caribbean, you might find yourself wondering which ship to choose for your next cruise vacation. I have been fortunate to sail on Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas not once, but twice and both times we thoroughly enjoyed our cruises.

The Adventure of the Seas is a 138,000 ton vessel that can carry 3,114 guests and and she debuted in 2001 in the Voyager class of ships by Royal Caribbean. With on board entertainment including a spa, casino, entertainment productions, bars and lounges, Adventure Ocean (the children's program), and more, the Adventure is big ship and yet doesn't try to compete with the larger megaships. Some of the ship's highlights include an ice skating rink, a rock climbing wall, in-line skating, 9-hole miniature golf course, a full size basketball court, and a Royal Caribbean favorite: The Royal Promenade, which is open 24 hours a day. Here you can get a sandwich, cookie, or slice of pizza in Cafe Promenade; go shopping in one of the many on board shops; and stroll the length of the Royal Promenade, which is nearly the length of the entire ship.

Accommodations

The first time we were on the Adventure of the Seas was in August 2009 when we did a Southern Caribbean cruise out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Adventure alternates her time between the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, spending about half the year in each location. We had a balcony cabin in 2009, but when we went on her again for our Thanksgiving 2010 cruise, we chose a Junior Suite this time around. The balcony staterooms have about 180 square feet of space and a 53 foot balcony and the Junior Suite is definitely bigger at about 265 square feet with a 75 foot balcony. Having the extra space was nice, especially as there are three of us, but ask about the square footage on any cabin before you book. Sometimes the difference isn't worth paying the extra money and sometimes it is. The pictures here are of the Junior Suite and its bathroom.

Pools

With two swimming pools and four whirlpools on deck eleven, there's enough room for everyone to get in and swim. There are always plenty of deck chairs by the pool and on the deck above, as you can see in this picture, so you never have to worry about not having a place to sit out.

If you're looking for a private adult retreat, try the Solarium. Here you can enjoy the indoor/outdoor pool and hot tubs designed for adults only. That means no rugrats! This quiet area is a perfect area to simply relax with a good book, a good drink, or a good person either during the day or under the stars.

Dining

The Adventure of the Seas offers passengers a three deck main dining room where guests can dine during early, late or the ever popular My Time Dining hours for dinner. Every dinner includes at least one vegetarian option and although not fine dining, you can certainly enjoy a good dinner on your cruise. The main dining room is also open for breakfast and lunch in an open seating arrangement. For vegetarians the number of veggie options are significantly better here for lunch than in the Windjammer.

The Windjammer is a Royal Caribbean staple on their cruise ships and is their buffet restaurant. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, guests simply grab their own food and go. You'll find fresh fruit, meats and cheeses, hot and cold cereal, pastries, and more. If you don't mind the sometimes long line at the egg station, you can place your egg order, receive a number, and a server will bring you your omelet or 2 eggs over easy, etc. directly to your table.

For specialty dining options, you can enjoy a meal in Portofino, Royal Caribbean's Italian restaurant. For $20 per person, you can enjoy an appetizer, soup, salad, pasta, a main course, and of course, dessert! There's also Johnny Rockets for great American burgers, fries, onion rings, and milkshakes for only $4.95 per person, which includes at least one song and dance number by the servers.

As mentioned earlier, the Royal Promenade is a great place to stop for a quick snack and kids love that they can walk up and ask for a sandwich or cookie and not have to pay. If you are hungry and don't want to (or can't!) leave your cabin, call up 24-hour room service and order away. There's no charge for room service except between the hours of midnight and 5 AM ($3.95 charge per order) and don't forget to give a tip to the waiter.

The overall condition of the ship is good despite the fact that the ship entered service in 2001 and has had thousands of passengers on board. The difference, however, between my experience in 2009 and then on 2010 is quite different. In one year we could definitely see increased wear on her and although the public areas look great, the cabins are definitely looking a little dated. This made such an impact on me that I have now decided not to cruise on any ship older than five years old and recommend the same for clients. It may be true that the older ships have better prices, but you get what you pay for. If you are looking for all the amenities of the newer ships, you won't find it on the older ships. Yes, there is a rock climbing wall and an ice skating rink, but no FlowRider. If you are fine without it, then it's not a big deal, but if you have an active family screaming for more and newer activities, then you know what I mean when I say you want to make sure there are enough activities to please everyone in your family and sometimes playing basketball is just not enough. I would definitely recommend this ship for anyone looking to do a short 4- or 5-night Mediterranean itinerary as you can start your vacation on land and add in a short cruise. This is a great way to learn about cities you have never been to previously. If you are a new cruiser who wants to save money or a veteran cruiser who doesn't need all of the bells and whistles that the newer ships offer, then the Adventure of the Seas is a good ship for you.

If you would like to read more great Royal Caribbean Reviews, then please visit Travel Shop Girl at;

Web: www.travelshopgirl.com

Blog: travelshopgirl.blogspot.com