REVIEW: Best of Europe Cities Cruise

Best of Europe Cities Cruise

Cruise Line:  Royal Caribbean

Ship:  Voyager of the Seas

Dates: May 13, 2009 – May 24, 2009

Ratings:

Dining

3.0

Public Rooms

4.0

Cabins

4.0

Spa & Fitness

4.0

Embarkation

5.0

Service

4.0

Value-for-Money

4.0

Rates

4.0

After 4 wonderful days in London, our group embarked in Southampton for an 11 night, Best of Europe Cities cruise with RC.  This was our 2nd cruise with RC.  We were so happy with our 1st experience (11 night Southern Caribbean cruise on Empress of the Seas) with RC in December 2007, that we had to do another cruise, and this time my mother and her friend joined us.  I was somewhat disappointed with this cruise and could tell in the 1.5 years since my last cruise that the quality of the food has plummeted.  It was bland, and tasteless.  The same food that is served in the Windjammer, was served in the dining room, was served for room service.  The steak was tough (how hard is it to grill a steak medium well?).  When I asked for the steak to be cooked medium…it came out medium well, and was still tough and dry.  The Windjammer is now offering what appears to be less options.  Also, while in port, at times, there wasn’t anywhere to get any food except through room service, and their menu is sparse to say the least, and what you get is not that great. But, the interesting thing was, you could get a drink around the clock.  No food, but I can buy alcohol; such BS!!   It’s obvious we were HIGHLY disappointed in the food.  I kept telling my mom and her friend how much different it was on our last cruise (almost apologetically).

In the Dining Room, our waiter and the assistant waiter (Eduardo and Andres) were nice, friendly, and provided excellent service.  However, our head waiter, she came to our table only twice during an 11 day cruise!!  And, the 1st time wasn’t until the 3rd night.  On our last cruise we saw our head waiter every single evening we ate in the Dining Room.  Needless to say…we didn’t tip her.  In fact, we took what we would have tipped her, and added in to the tip we gave the Waiter and assistant waiter.  I rate the food, during dinner, in the dining room 3.75 stars.  Max!!  The only real vegetarian options (my husband is vegetarian) they had was always Indian food; as if the Indians have cornered the market on Vegetarian Food.  As I mentioned before…the quality of the food, and the selection has plummeted since my last cruise with RC.

I didn’t see any of the shows, even though I heard the Ice Show was excellent.

I did hear complaints about the pool being closed and repair work going on while people were trying to lay out.  The running track was being repainted, so you had limited access to that.  All things that were being done on our dime/time.  I think this is unacceptable.  Don’t use the pool as a selling point (which they do) if it’s not available for use!!

Our favorite bartender (Christian Ferrari) was in the Aquarium Bar.  He seemed to be the only bartender on the ship who knew how to consistently make a good Grey Goose Cosmopolitan.  LOL.  Oh Yea…there was a bartender in the Schooner bar who wasn’t bad as well.  But, the others, it was hit and miss.  Even with my Fav bartender being in the Aquarium Bar…the best place on ship is the High Note bar on deck 14.

We ate at Portofino’s one night.  The food was good, and the service was impeccable.  I would highly recommend spending the extra money for this experience.

Oh Yea!!  I did use the Spa and got a $65 pedicure!!!!!  $65 for a freakin’ pedicure!!!  But, you know what?  It was one of the best pedicures I’ve had in a long time, that girl worked my feet over, and afterwards I felt it was totally worth it.

The ports on this cruise were wonderful (the main reason we chose this cruise).  We stopped in Vigo, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Gibraltar, UK; Cagliari, Sardinia; Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; Livorno (Pisa/Florence), Italy; Villefranche, France.  Both Vigo and Cagliari were a welcome surprise, as was Gibraltar.  I HIGHLY recommend NOT using the ships cruise tour in Rome and Florence, and going with a company called Limo in Rome (limoinrome.com).  We used this company in both ports and we were extremely pleased with the personalized service and the experience.  These tours are private (meaning just your group is on it), the small vans they use are roomy and get you right up to the sights you want to see, without having to walk great distances, and you’re on your time (you see what you want, for the time you have).  Our driver in Livorno even arranged for a private tour of a vineyard in Chianti.  In both Rome and Florence we were taken to restaurants that were both reasonably priced, and were where the locals ate.  We LOVED it!!  And, the best part of all of this (as if it could have gotten any better) was that it is actually cheaper than what the ship charges for the similar tour, and with the ship excursion, you’re on a big tour bus, which has limited access on the small narrow streets you find in Rome and Florence, with a bunch of other people.  Compare $345 per person for the ships excursion to the 500 Euro for all 4 of us on our private tour. It’s a guarantee ours was a better bargain and a better experience.

While Rome, our drive through the Tuscan countryside (via our private vineyard tour) on our way to Florence, and Florence, were the highlight of our trip; I wouldn’t do this trip justice if I didn’t mention Cannes!!  We LOVED it!!   During our stop in Villafranche, we rented a car and drove to Cannes.  Why?  Because the 62nd Annual Cannes Film Festival was in full swing.  The energy was palpable, and, the drive along the French Riviera was awesome.  It was easy to rent the car;  109 Euro (with tax, insurance, etc. included) and we were on our way.  On our way to Cannes we stopped and strolled along the beach in Nice, oogled yachts that screamed “I’m a weathly _____ (fill in whatever you like)”, and enjoyed views of the Mediterranean that were just breath taking.

My overall rating for this cruise 4.5 stars.  The ports of call receive 5 out of 5 stars and the food 3.5 stars.  Royal Caribbean really should do something about the food.  Seriously!!!  It was tasteless and cheap.  If you’re a fast food eater (and I’m not)…you may enjoy it…but, if you have any idea what quality taste like…you WILL be disappointed.

We enjoy the cruise experience.  But, now, RC has given me compelling reasons to try another cruise line.  Next time…maybe Princess Cruises?

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About Terri Lundberg

Terri Lundberg is an American expat currently residing with her husband in Saudi Arabia, but she calls Seattle and San Diego home. She’s a travel writer, an avid photographer and is a resource and cross cultural trainer to expats relocating to Saudi Arabia. She's been to 100 destinations, 26 countries, and counting.