We wanted to do a family cruise with two grown up children and booked two Superior Balcony Staterooms. The cabins were fine, quite spacious with lots of storage and a reasonably sized balcony. Why have they let their balcony interconnecting doors seize up so they are never able to open them?
The crew, almost without exception (except a rude and indifferent barman in the Sky Bar) were first class.
One annoying thing however that started last week on our cruise is that if you pre-pay gratuities to 'Save the Waves"!! the gratuities are automatically paid with the staff salaries so you no longer get a voucher or anything to give the waiters and room attendant on the last night. All rather embarrassing just saying thank you despite the fact that RC said the staff were given a printed list of who had prepaid gratuities. My advice is NOT to prepay gratuities and give the people who looked after you cash on the last night.
Food in the Dining room at Breakfast, lunch on sea days and dinner was excellent. The Windjammer and Jade were more like fodder feeders with punters' plates stacked high with food (much of it left) with huge numbers of people and not a good experience.
We didn't do any organised excursions as other than Turkey we had visited all the ports before. Messina, we simply walked into the town that is a 5 minute stroll away, found some nice bars with free wifi and just had some drinks in the heat.
Athens was not a good stop, very little to do in Piraeus and didn't want the Parthenon experience again. The positive thing is that the boat was quiet as everyone seemed to go on excursions.
Turkey was good, a beautiful bustling town where the port is. Our two adult children went for a Turkish Bath and are still talking about the experience -not in a good way!
We went to Ephesus. The taxis immediately outside the port are a rip off and wanted 260 Turkish Lira, 150 yards away we got a taxi for 130 Turkish Lira. Beware however that they will try to encourage you to go to Mary's House which is higher up the mountain from Ephesus and adds another 80 Lira. Don't bother, it is a commercial scam and to be honest, we found it a waste of time and money. Ephesus is well worth visiting, the ruins are impressive but it is very open and very hot. Don't waste your money on the audio guides, they are poorly done, if they work, and you are better spending a bit more and hiring a guide when you get there.
The port of Souda in Crete is grim but the transit buses to Chania are waiting right outside the boat and run every 10 minutes. It costs 1.5 Euros a person each way and is very easy to get into the town which is really nice and the Old Town on the waterfront is very atmospheric, again with cafes with free wifi.
Now to the wifi on the ship. Awful. It costs .65 dollars a minute unless you buy bundles but is so slow it is out of the ark. This means that it costs you a load of money before it even connects with the site you want - keep well clear.
I found it irritating that 15% is added to every drink you buy on the boat. To try to get value for money we bought two Gold wine packages which saw us through for dinner and the wine bar on the right of the Promenade just past the Reception area has deals on wine, selling them for approximately 20 dollars a bottle plus, of course, 15%. The wines on offer are chalked on a board so we bought them and took them back to the cabin fridge to have drinks on the balcony.
The boat was too big for us and we didn't use hardly any of the activities. Decks were crowded with sunbathers but strangely, if you want to sit for an evening drink on deck and watch the sun go down or in the shade with a drink at lunchtime, there are hardly any small tables and chairs. A BBQ was served for lunch one day which was poor and you were told to sit on the edge of the lounger and eat the BBQ - we didn't bother.
The ice show was great, some of the evening entertainment was fine, the Art Auction is interesting and you can drink as much sparkling wine as you like, and free!
For four of us it cost Â£5000 including flights and transfers plus almost another Â£1000 for drinks for the week.
Whereas we enjoyed it I will be looking at Silversea next time as the extra money you have to pay isn't that great when you consider what's included.