Firstly, i'll summarise myself. I like to know what i'm getting on a holiday, and enjoy nice dry heat destinations. Prior to 2011, i'd never taken a cruise, and my winter resort holiday to Marsa Alam, Egypt in December 2011 was negated because the airlines were only flying there from Gatwick. So i took my 1st cruise with P&O to the Caribbean. I enjoyed the opportunity to see different places on one holiday, so have taken to it.
We took this cruise opportunity as it allowed the transit of the Suez canal, at a nice time of year weatherwise. We flew Emirates to Dubai. I've flown with them before, but felt a little let down this time. It just didn't seem as exclusive as i'd remembered. We found the airport nice, and as we'd booked the flights ourselves, took a taxi to Port Rashid. The cost was 55 dirhams.
We arrived inside the cruise terminal at about 8am. As Favolosa had been in port for some time, we hoped to get on board asap. However, we were advised the official embarkation time was 8pm! But that an earlier embarkation was now available at 3pm. After hanging around, the staff finally got agreement to check in at midday. Phew!!
After deciding not to let the staff take our luggage on board, we boarded and went to our cabin, which was still occupied. We along with several other guests went to reception, and after some careful negotiation, was given a vacant room to enable us to get refreshed and changed for the sun. We kept this room until 8pm when our own room was officially available. We came back from dinner, and swapped our luggage into our room. I chose a room at the back of the ship, as i felt the view would be thrilling. The room was well laid out, and the window size was enough to sit in comfortably. As we've read, the door handle were totally poor, and as the leather tags have been more and more used, were difficult to grip. The interactive TV was good, and although being on an Italian ship, felt content to just have a couple of channels in English. The only criticism of the bathroom was the shower tray didn't drain quickly enough, so it was reported and efficiently unblocked by the maintenance crew. We kept this room for our journey as far as Salalah, but after leaving Oman, the speed increased and the vibration increased proportionately. I went to reception at 1.30am, they were sympathetic, but could do nothing until their manager came on shift at 9am. They investigated the vibration, and agreed that we could move to a similar standard room. We changed to 2319 in midships and were more content with that room, even though its layout was exactly the same.
The ship itself was easy to navigate around, and although not quite as big as Azura, felt there was more space for sunbathing. The top deck at the rear of the ship was usually quiet enough, if you didn't mind the walkers on the track. The general decoration of the ship, i felt was better than P&O and was pleasing on the eye. The atrium is immense, and is from deck 3 to 11. The entertainment was better than P&O, and we made an effort to go most nights. The dining was not to the same standard as P&O, insomuch as the variety, presentation and efficiency was a little limited. We had 1st sitting, and it was disappointing that some people turned up as much as an hour late on some nights. Made it difficult for the staff. We took the advice of several people on cruise critic and bought the AI drinks package, which proved a bargain. If you want to drink more than 4 drinks a day, you'll win hands down all day. We consumed at least double the value paid for, and we didn't go excessively hard at it. Just the odd day of "binge drinking"!!!
The staff were very efficient, and generally used English when dealing with guests, which was nice.
One genuine complaint would be about the lack of use by guests of the sanitising gels , and the flagrant ignoring of dress codes in restaurants, and n particular the formal dress nights were some people even turned up in flipflops, bermudas etc. A general lack of respect in my opinion. The shore excursions appeared pretty expensive, and the only trip we fancied doing was a trip to El Alamein from Alexandria. We were advised that there was very little interest from English speaking guests, so that the only option was to go with the German or Italian trip. We decided to leave it.
The final arrival in Venice was nice, and the disembarkation was well structured, considering you had guests of varying nationalities on various onwards transit to sort out, from Costa transfers, self transferring etc. We disembarked ahead of schedule, but the luggage drop off was chaotic. Not enough staff to manage so many people and their luggage. We took time to walk to St. Marks before recovering our luggage and getting the bus back to Marco Polo airport from Piazzale Roma. I bought tickets for the ATVO bus for 5 euros each, but made the mistake of boarding the ACTV bus!! Luckily, when the conductor was checking tickets, he was sympathetic and let us off without a penalty payment.
We flew home on Monarch which was on time and arrived early.
Overall, a very satisfying journey with very little to spoil it.