Our first time cruise had been researched three months prior to our departure and I felt that a first time cruise perspective may be more interesting rather than the repeat cruiser who have expectations that make me wonder if they serve the kind of menu at home, that they expect when when cruising.
Firstly, come prepared to shell out for drinks even if you are careful. The interactive TV is a must if you want to keep tabs on your expenses.Keep an eye on it, I was therefore prepared for the 1300 USD for the two of us for the 7 night cruise (55 minute SPA treatment for two included).Our room was on level six,balcony, star board middle)_I arranged all of our off shore tours and if you have a sense of direction, can read a map and can see the value in train travel and hop on hop off buses...go for it..it's worth the effort.
The staff went out of there way to greet and assist..it encouraged me to greet them before they had a chance. Take into account that the ship goes around and around with a fresh batch of 3500 passengers each with high expectations. You will not be disappointed even if you consider how hard they work. I took a trip with gratuity included and this saved me about two hundred bucks...at the end I decided to put extra for everyone and this cost me only 60 dollars extra...yes it's worth it.
The food (considering they cook in excess of 25000 meals per week)was good and the variety was exceptional. Room service never failed us if you fill the door card correctly. Entertainment is a must as it's world class, book as many as you can manage. We took the 9H30 dinner sitting as standard and it was a good decision.
We did the Windjammer three times, took in some pizza, did the Johnny rockets butone can only eat so much(careful for Johnny's, there are service and tip charges that cost me more than the entire burger meal at home...same for the SPA visit...119 dollars ended up 169 dollars) Generally tips are 15% and I just signed without extra at the various bars.
We mixed relax time with excursions...so we did monte carlo,Florence and Capri...all excellent choices.The train from Florence back to the ship...watch out...our return train was cancelled due to a station fire up the track...keep the ship's phone number if you are stuck...they will make a plan. We didn't and hired a taxi for 150 Euros, luckily shared with another cruise couple.
Do the Capri trip...take a little boat (booking essential) and do the Island trip...swim in the caves...it was the high light of the trip.
All in all, we have watched the slide show with a thousand photos 4 times in five days....do it, you will not regret it.