The Ships In General Cruises

Like all the vessels that were originally built for Renaissance Cruises, more boutique hotel than Vegas resort, with a decor that hearkens back to the golden age of ocean liners warm woods, rich fabrics, and clubbily intimate public areas. When Celebrity and Royal Caribbean took over the ships, they put nearly $40 million into refurbishments, moving the walls around on some cabin decks to create 32 new suites on each vessel; designing new specialty restaurants; expanding the spa; adding a cafe; and installing a new art collection, decking, carpets, paint schemes, bedding, cushions, drapes, table linens, and other soft goods.

The result is a pair of lovely, practically new-looking ships, with only a few dents in cabin corridors (courtesy of luggage carts) betraying the fact that they've already been in service for over two decades cabins Cabins on Journey and Quest are divided into just seven configurations, including inside rooms, those with views and those with verandas (the other differentiators are size and included amenities). At the lower tiers, closet space is only just adequate for the long itineraries these vessels sail, though an abundance of drawers and storage space under the bed helps matters some. Bathrooms are also on the tight side.

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Cabin decor is nicely understated, with off-white walls, wood-tone furnishings and upholstery and carpeting done in easy-on-the-eyes blues and golds.

At the highest price level, Club Ocean Suites and Club World Owners' Suites have separate bedrooms and living rooms, whirlpool tubs and showers, a guest bathroom, and huge balconies.

Four cabins on each ship are wheelchair accessible public areas & activities In the evening, many guests head to the Cabaret for small-scale production shows, late-night movies and (sometimes) bingo. The best seat in the house is a high table at the center of the rear bar area, between and slightly behind the two spotlights. The large casino is a draw, as are the ship's two understated retail shops; and the Looking Glass combo disco/observation deck. Also a two-in-one space: the ship's gentleman's clublike library/piano lounge. Gotta love the faux fireplace, racing-dog ceramics, squashy leather chairs and a trompe l'oeil conservatory ceiling here.

Come daylight, on sea days, many head to the pool deck which is frankly too small for the numbers of passengers aboard (it has just one not-large pool). You'll find more serenity on the Sun Deck or the Promenade Deck (and lovely, thick cushioned wooden lounge chairs, too). The gym, located just forward of the Pool Deck, has all the usual equipment, just-enough space and a large aerobics floor (for pilates, spinning, stretch, abs, and yoga offered at no extra charge). Next door there's a beauty salon; a spa; and a separate suite for acupuncture, laser hair removal, and microdermabrasion.

A corner of the Pool Deck has Ping-Pong tables, and shufleboard and a small golf-putting green are found on the Sun Deck dining The Windows Cafe provides snacks and meals 18 hours a day, along with complimentary specialty coffees and teas. Service is buffet-style, though much is cooked-to-order. A harpist and pianist perform here frequently. In the library a high tea is served in the afternoons. Dinner is taken, most nights, in the handsome dining room (some stop in the wood-paneled bar, with its Sistine Chapel-esque ceiling murals, first). We recommend grabbing a table in the central portion of the room, where they seem to be more widely spaced than those along the periphery. Or guests can head to one of the two specialty restaurants Aqualina (Mediterranean fare) or Prime C (classic steakhouse). There's also a pool deck grill which supplements the usual burgers and hot dogs with salads, seafood kebabs and gyros.

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