I will try to make this short, but I can see already it won't be. I do not want to waste more time on Princes so there may be some dyslexic spelling and some short form sentences below. My English teacher may not be happy. I will start by saying this is my first cruise but have travelled well in North America, all the Southern islands, and this was my honeymoon.
The Decor and room.
I swear the colors and materials of the stateroom were in my 1990 33 foot Sea Ray boat. The balcony was huge and very comfortable. The bed hard and somehow short. Bath shower incredibly tight but all and all a decent size sate room. The rest of the decor in the ship, not luxurious and rather dull. I expected more class or imagination for a newer ship. Noisey room with kids running up and down the halls playing games in the hall. Could hear the theatre above. Once smoke stack fumes came onto out balcony. Over all the room was fine.
The food and drink.
Anytime dinners..... We found it best to go at 8:30 and we got into the restaurants without too much wait. The sauces (gravies or bearnaise) often substituted for ones of another color. Not sure at times what I was eating? I didn't get sick so I assume it was OK. Any crab appitiser had fake crab subbed in pretending to taste good. Processed "Pollock" in crab cakes or in an artichoke crab dip? I nearly choked! Desserts frozen when they should have been room temperature. Some good food and some bad at each meal. It was fun to see what got botched up that eve. You could easily ask to mix and match anything on the menu and give you many small portions which made it much better to try more on each menu. Eventually you would have liked something.
Dinners we had paid extra for,...better staff, knowledgeable, better menu and presentation, not even there they could cook a piece of beef till tender, but a better place to eat. We PAID for it!! It better be better! Still, not up to what I had expected when paying more. Everyone says "cruise food is great!". Does most the population have bad taste?
(We started making up a game,... if you were on land at a restaurant, how much would you pay for this main dish? Often we though $7.00 but once I would have paid $20. If the food isn't good and I am getting dressed to go out for a restaurant, I won't pay anything for a bad meal!)
The buffet..... I felt I was "running with the bulls" at lunch and dinner. Get the good stuff before it was gone. Push push, get out of the way!!! The sushi lasted minutes it seemed. With all the water around us could we not have some more fresh fish? Getting scolded by staff for going in through the "out" at the buffet. No knives and forks unless they see you sanitize your hands. I thought I had left my mom at home and paid others to discipline me at dinner! And when you realize the food was different at each buffet. You needed to wear running shoes to get what you wanted from each buffet and station, and if again you were not scolded on the way to get more with having a plate in hand and not sanitizing again, and eventaully find where your table was! They needed to have a menu in the elevator foyer between both buffets to tell you what each had even though the staff would have said they were the same. At the minimum, you lost weight winding yourself in and out of rooms, around walls, down halls, around tables and servers rarely found when needed when trying to get a meal. Again, a lot of bland food, fruit was good, cheese good, and you could always create something to make yourself happy if you have the will and time.
The small cafes and eating areas around the ship.... The pizza was good, fries good, salad, desserts and sandwiches and tapas in the Atrium were good. The soda good if you had paid for a card allowing it to be "all you could drink". Rarely a good coffee unless you paid for it. Atleast the lemonade was good a free!
The Soda card, the wine card, coffee card, smoothie cards..... A great Idea, but I thought I was getting some of this stuff for free? The ship is definitely not an "all inclusive". If there was more knowledgeable staff about the products they were pushing, or if the could relate it to you better in English, or, if it was on their website, then it would have been easier to make an informed decision on what to do instead of being cold cocked in the head.
The wine card,.... you better know what wine is in each restaurant before making an informed decision on which level of card to buy. They made it difficult to buy a card when you did not know what they had in your price range. They seamed to love "California" wines. Not enough Mediterranean reds,(are we not cruising in this area?) and half way through the cruise they were running out of many of the mid range reds. Best to smuggle it aboard. And why can't I get a bottle at a bar using my card? I did pay for it already? Cork your bottle at the end of a meal and bring the wine to your room or another bar area. Better yet, buy wine off shore so you can have a glass of local wine before going to dinner.
All in all, you could more or less get "what you need" but not "what you want" as Mick Jagger says. I expected more. I have had way better service and food at an all inclusive and not been scolded when doing so.
There wasn't any by definition. There was no "party" atmosphere anywhere. If you were late 40's or early 50's, you better conform to disco music or elevator music. There was some middle of the road tunes outside near a pool in the afternoon. A bit of rock and roll being played by a live band trying to be heard over the screaming kids around the pool, or the loud hot tubs full of children like cauldrons from a bedtime story, or the neighboring movie theatre noise. Once, I heard Beatles music from the atrium and I was excited. I had to see. Yes some live Beatles music with the rest of the staff dancing slowly in Victorian clothing like a scene from a Coronation in the 13th century. They couldn't even make that music fun! The theatre was a very room. Great chairs to sleep in during a show. A night of music history. I think they started in the 30's, hours later they may have been in the 50's. I though if they made it to the 90's I may be 90 so I was best leave after a couple hours, extended care on the ship isn't cheap. They had a comedian,.... or was it the puppet guy? I wasn't sure they sounded the same. By the end, If I had to hear a violin or piano again, or Cinnamon in the lounge or Atrium, I would have to have flung myself over board. One more Karoke eve or some lame couples game for entertaiment and I may get divorced on my honeymoon.
Movies,..if you liked them they were everywhere! Movies in the theatre, movies on the top deck while laying in the sun, movies in your room, movies playing in the other theatres. You could always watch a movie and get fat. Maybe they should have called the cruise, The "Western Mediterranean Movie Cruise" Could they have at least change the movies up more? Laying on my own balcony I could hear it, laying at the other pool I could hear it. Late at night while trying to have a romantic eve, enjoying the motion of the ocean on a deck, shimmering lights seen off in the distance, a glass of red wine in hand, holding hands, and the rumbling of "John Carter" above my head blowing space ships up.
The general stuff.
It was hard to have some peace or romance during the sun. Roving bands of children like "gangs" on the street. Taking over all the hot tubs,... roving from one to another tub bored to death. Eating hamburgers and fries over the water, the occasional hot dog floating on the surface of one of the many hot tub adults were not able to use. Nice!! The adult pool often full of kids with staff not understanding the rules of the area or that minuscule sign no one could understand that said "adult pool". Or maybe it was the rap music in another language from I PODS in the adult areas that I did not understand. Maybe it was just me? I was too old for this place? Or was I too young for the other places on the boat. Maybe I did not fit in.
The "Timeshare", or shall I say, Princess cruises. Up sell up sell always! "Buy our special coffees at dinner, it's a good deal!" they proclaimed every eve. Please let me relax at dinner and leave me alone! Stop trying to take photos of me every time I try to get off the ship!,..there is a long line and I am hot and not looking my best at 7:00 a.m. I don't want them anyway! Let me get to dinner and don't stop me from strolling through the ship to take more photos of me I won't buy! Buy some Art it's a great deal! Buy more cruises now, it is cheaper!
We had heard you should not take the ships and buy them off shore, but through our experience, we paid more to get to the front of the line at museums and churches, the safety of getting back on time, and good hosts. Once we did our own thing, the wait for the Picasso museum was 2 hours long. If we spent a few hundred more it was worth it for peace of mind and to organize the next day. Paying this kind of money for a dream vacation and going cheap in the end with the possibility of something going wrong was not worth it. We say what we could in the time we could. On your own you may have seem less or with a private guide, you may have not known what you were getting into. By the way, the woman who is on the ship's T.V was knowledgeable on the T.V. and could fill you in well with what was coming up at the next port and the sights, but both times we went to see her for help on making decisions on excursions, she was a total Bi*@h. She needed some manners.
Great sights to see! Go swimming in Mykonos! Walk and walk the streets in all cities! Eat the food in all ports of call. Swim off the Pier at Monte Carlo! Window shopping for Jets and Bentley's, See the Vatican. Florence, Rome, Athens, Venice, Istanbul, Spain and lots of sunscreen. Be very good at haggling or they will eat you alive. Bring your bathing suit everywhere. Cheap cover ups for shoulders and knees for women, 5 EU scarves will get you into sacred places. See what you can because you may not be back. It is an adventure and you may need a vacation afterward. An added note,... stayed in Barcelona at the end for a few days, great wind down from the busy daytime excursions from 12 days on the ship,.,a pool on the roof, lots of fun, great Hotel, "Ohla" in the heart of action and walking to all beach, party, food and shopping activities.
All and all, the ship was a vessel to take you from and to the ports you wanted to see. We took this cruise for the Ports of Call. Don't expect much more than that. Don't expect great food. The staff was just doing their job and I can't say too many bad things about them. It was clean, safe and OK. Hustle hustle always it seemed. Bring lots of money. I could say more.