We booked this cruise because of the wonderful reviews and high rating. We were well prepared to have a blast and enjoy some great food. Ship looked gorgeous. We walked in to our cabin and right away noticed strange smell, like somebody in this room smoked before and the smell remained in everything, the walls the bed etc. I told our state room attendant and to ask him to deodorize. Also walking down the hallway I noticed smoke smell, like somebody in one of the rooms was smoking, which is strictly prohibited. I notifies guest relations and asked to follow up. How surprised I was when guest relations told me that nobody is smoking because it's not allowed and to call them in to my room when I smell smoke again. I asked if they also expect me to stay in the hallway all day long to catch the smoker? Or perhaps room attendants would smell the smoke when they clean up? I called some friends in to our room to make sure that we are not crazy and they also smelled the cigarette smoke. Our room attendant however smelled nothing, nor did his supervisor. But I am pretty sensitive to different odors and was waking up with the headache. I complained again and my stateroom attendant offered to clean the room for me again. After the cleaning room smelled pretty fresh and seemed like the smoke smell was gone. Next day after excursion I came in to our room take a nap before dinner and could smell something different, some very strong chemical odor. I could not understand where the smell is coming from, Within 15 minutes it triggered a migraine headache so bad that I could hardly get off the bed. I rolled over to the other side of the bed to get ibuprofen and realized that it does not smell so bad here. Right away I looked under my bed and found a plate with the towel soaked in a very strong, concentrated solution. I just took the plate in to the corridor and handed it to the room attendant. Without even asking me if it's OK to deodorize the room with such a strong smelling chemical, he put this concentrated solvent right under my bed. It's a good thing I found it. Never the less my day was ruined. This migraine can last up to 5 days and I was terrified that perhaps the rest of my cruise was ruined as well. The smell was still lurking in the room. I called reception and complained again and this time they send supervisor to clean and deodorize(with odorless deodorizer) my room again. The next day I woke up with the same terrible migraine, could not go on the excursion, lost the money we paid for it and spent entire day in bed. To sum it up: nobody bothered to offer us a different room, refund excursion money, nobody bothered so much as to apologize. All I've heard was we don't smell anything but we'll clean it for you.
Second problem was dining experience. Originally when we booked this cruise we asked to be seated at a table for 6. This way we get to meet new people and have more fun. We were assigned a table for 2. Asked head of the dining room and to move us to a table for 6 or 8. Got a table for 6 downstairs in the main dining room but not only it was so noisy that we could not hear each other, we were the only 2 people at the table :-) Went back and asked to be moved again upstairs where is allot quieter to a table for 6-8. No luck, there was only table for 4 and we were the only 2 people at it. So finally we gave up and took the table. Our waiter was not too friendly and not too communicative. Strictly business, take an order and go. Menu was not impressive. My husband ordered fish encrusted in crab which turned out to be baked fish with crab meat on top. Veal was too dry, my filet mignon was medium well and pretty dry. Steaks were tough and people were returning it. On formal night we were not offered lobsters. Escargot was not on the menu at all. So after couple of nights in the main dining room we gave up and started eating other places. Thank god for sushi station at the dinner buffet. 1 time we went to the specialty restaurant but even that was not as good as we remembered it from our cruise on Constellation so we canceled the rest of reservation and just ate sushi.
Breakfast buffet was ok. Omelets station was not offered every day. There was no lean breakfast meats like turkey bacon. It was the choice of bacon or Canadian bacon fried in bacon fat. Cheese blintzes were not too bad if they were fresh...allot of times they were from yesterday and from heating too many times cheese was getting brown. Caramelized apples were offered but most of the time they were bitter from sugar burning. I also found hair in potato hash which was disgusting. My husband found hair in chili. I saw other guests complaining about it as well. One time my husband got ice cream and it was spoiled, sour. I have no idea how that is possible. Deserts were terrible, mostly creams and mousses. Not a single normal cake. Not even during chocolate extravaganza. It was really disgraceful. The worst pastry experience ever. I think they really need to consider changing the pastry chef as well as head chef. I have never seen such a sloppy food handling as well as such bad food quality ever on any of the ships.
However there are some pros to this cruise.
Entertainment is really top notch. Several productions shows and especially the last nights show "Avatar" spin off with dancers and acrobats was one of the best I've ever seeing, real Broadway quality.
The magician and instrumentalist were quite lame. Instrumentalist would have been fine if he would not attempt to sing.
The rest of entertainers were all world class performers.
Party band "Great Ideas" was wonderful! They are so versatile. From old ballroom favorites to jazz, pop, disco, rock....Singer has wonderful, very powerful voice. Great personality and some cool dance moves. They were playing for hours every day always delivering the same top notch quality from first to last song. Perhaps the best party we've seeing on the cruise ships.
Corning glass show. Wow! I've discovered the new absolute favorite activity. It's was interesting to watch, very informative and educational. Some of the pieces made were a bit funny, to say the least, but some were real work of art. Always incredible to watch the process in the hands of professionals. I would love to take a class one day. After they auctioned off few of the pieces and all for good cause.
Daily activities and there were so many too choose from. Several dance classes per day, games, sports, classes. Or just relax by the pool where there were always enough lounge chairs.
The loan club is very interesting idea. We loved to have grassy area and those cute birds. Some people say it only takes space, I don't agree, I think it adds allot of charm. And if you want to walk barefoot on the grass you can do it even at sea.
Ports of call were also pretty interesting. Excursions we took were not bad at all.
Complete Istanbul 2 days we did not like too much. It was expensive, we saw couple of temples, grand bazar for an hour, spice bazar for half an hour, rug presentation and a palace. Boat ride was horrible and boring. In other words we did not see Istanbul, just very small area. I would have preferred a ride around the city, less time in temples, no rug show, no boat ride. And some more free time at grand and spice bazars. Smart people were taking local taxi with personal guide for 40 euros per day and got complete overview of the city, the temples and palaces as well as bazars for fraction of the cost.
Ephesus excursion was quite interesting. Problem was that there was very hot (around 30) and for 2 hours there was no bathrooms inside Ephesus. With the amount of water you have to drink in such heat it was quite uncomfortable. Amalfi coast and Sorento was quite interesting. We were in the buss for close to 5 hours. Almost 3 hours we drove in the mountains, on very narrow road built for a horse and carriage. Allot of times a bus could get through and cars would have to back off to make way for it. Couple of times we thought that our lives would end right there on the spot when from the sharp turn a local bus would just speed like crazy towards us. I can not imagine the patience of drivers who take that road every day. But Amalfi coast is so beautiful! Was well worth the drive, not sure I want to do this again, perhaps next time a boat to Amalfi would be better idea :-)
Would I take sail with the same ship again? Absolutely, providing they change few things to regain the 96% customer satisfaction rating as I am one very unsatisfied customer.