Where do I start.......firstly I would like to say that myself and my partner are under the age of 30 and this was our second cruise, our last being with P&O in 2011.
We arrived in Southampton the evening before, having travelled down by coach and we stayed in the Premier Inn Hotel which is practically opposite the port. We got a taxi the morning of the cruise to the port which cost ï¿½£5.00 and we were greated outside the port by baggage handlers who took our cases. Check in was fabulous, no waiting around just straight through. The whole check in process must has taken about 15 mins. We booked the cruise over 12 months ago and had booked an inside cabin on deck 2 towards the back of the ship at a cost of ï¿½£950pp. We had arranged not to pre-pay our gratuties. The cabin was an adequate size and we couldn't fault the cabin steward as he always made sure that we had fresh towels etc. We did speak to another couple who had told us that they had booked their cruise 2 weeks before departure and had got it for ï¿½£600pp for an outside cabin, so maybe if we went again we would wait for a late deal.
We did attempt breakfast at around 9.30am in the Windjammer buffet restaurant a few mornings but it was hectic, too many people and not enough tables. It was either you walk around for half an hour looking for a table or you waited until 10.45 until it had emptied out a bit. We therefore used room service for breakfast some mornings, you couldn't fault it. We even had delivered complimentary strawberries dipped in chocolate one afternoon from them.
The pool area was great, with lots of sun loungers but you would find the same people leaving towels on the beds and going missing for half of the day. RC were supposed to remove towels after 30 mins, but I never saw this happen.
Drinks on board are expensive. As soon as we boarded we went and got the beer package which cost $1260.00. This sounds like a lot, but when you are drinking soft drinks all day, or maybe a few beers, and then wine during your meal we probably broke even and it was nice not having to watch how much you were spending...you are on holiday after all! The beer package was good in that you could have a variety of lagers, bitters, smirnoff ice or house wine. I drink Rose Wine and their house rose wine was Beringer at $8 per glass ($38 a bottle).
You could never get bored on this ship, the size of it is amazing and there is always something to do. The age range i'd say is 60+ with few younger couples/families. It has got to be said that I have never met as many rude people in all my life as what I did on that cruise. Some people, and we found especially ones on mobility scooters, or wheelchairs, have never heard the words "excuse me", "please" or "thank you" as they thought it was their right to literally knock you out of the way to get past or into the elevator - we thought it was because we were a young couple. That being said, if you are genuinely disabled then the ship is perfect(we found that a lot of people on this ship got off their wheelchairs to walk around the port, but then got back in the wheelchairs when back on the ship to gain priority access to lifts etc).
Food was lovely in the main restaurant. We ate in MacBeth and our waiter Reynaldo couldnt do enough for us. We barely saw the head waiter until the last night when everyone was handing out their gratuties. We believe that he never came over to us because he thought that because we were a young couple he wouldn't get a tip. We did actually have an envelope waiting for him on the last night, but again he just seemed to speak to guests who looked like they had a bit of money, so we gave his tips to another wine waiter who had looked after us.
Evening entertainment was good, although once it got to midnight everyone seemed to go to bed. There was a nightclub on board called Labrynth which was lovely inside and was where a lot of the younger people ended up going after midnight but it was a shame that there was never no more than 20 people in there at a time.
All in all, a lovely ship, with lots to do. Would definately go on this ship again but maybe in a few years.