We have been cruising on and off since 1991 (so we are not youngsters) with a variety of companies on assorted seas, oceans and rivers. Our children are long grown up and therefore we never utilised any of the many family oriented activities, which seemed to be enjoyed by those participating.
We took a taxi from the station which was 12 euros to the embarkation hall.
The loading process was fast efficient and painless.
Our cabin was comfortable enough with more than enough room for a couple, a good sized bed with a sofa and plenty of storage space. Exceptionally clean and attended to by an unobtrusive attendant who made every effort to ensure our comfort.
The immense self service Windjammer Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch and is a canteen style self service buffet where, never mind the queues and the general elbowing aside when gathering your food selection, you then are faced with the challenge of finding a seat, no easy task. We chose to avoid the windjammer.
Once found taking an a la carte breakfast in the Strauss dining room was a pleasant start to the day with an excellent menu served professionally.
There is no a la carte lunch service so you are left to use the Windjammer of the buffet in the Vivaldi dining room. This was well presented with a good selection of dishes, however on a sailing with 2500 Spanish clients who like to eat late it is advisable to lunch early and avoid the masses.
The Evening dining is divided into 2 sittings 7:00 and 9:30 which you choose prior to boarding and you are allocated a dining room and table and for the trip. As hard as they try there are far too many passengers for them to serve even a half decent meal and we quickly found that the safest bet was a cold starter and the chefs dish of the day for a main course. Although even that was not safe from the red hot plates which continued to cook the dish and dry out meat dishes.
The dining room staff were polite and helpful although they were fully aware of the shortcomings they knew that it was futile to point out the shortcomings. A very professional waiter was in charge of a group of table accompanied by an "assistant". The assistants were charming but had a long way to go to complete their progression to "waiter".
FANCY A DRINK? Count your fingers after the purchase.
The basic drink prices are exorbitant drinks which are then subject to the addition of 23% to any drink made up of 15% service charge and 8% Spanish value added tax
A bottle of Pinot Grigio, a basic enough wine has a starting price of 33 dollars rapidly turns into 40.59 dollars
There are several wine package offers and we selected the Gold package at 180 dollars for just 7 bottles hits you with a bill of 221.40 dollars. Not exactly a great reduction for bulk buying.
WANT TO GET OFF THE BOAT? OK but not until you pay. 15 dollars, 10 dollars, 5 dollars a head until Corsica where you can walk into town for free. So an additional charge of 60 dollars for a couple just for visiting the ports. WHY ON EARTH NOT INCLUDE IT IN THE PRICE??
We used room service just the once when we ordered a bottle of wine and a cheese platter to have after dinner at 8:30 p.m. it arrived at 3:00 p.m. the following day (nice timing)
Before we left we read smoking had been reported as a problem, but we found that the non smoking areas were being respected and were easily avoided by non smokers.
The pools and pool decks were over congested and getting a sun bed was virtually impossible unless you were willing to get up there really early and stake your claim. The rule was that if an attendant noted that a bed with a towel on was left vacant for more than 30 minutes or an hour, they would remove the towel and make the sun bed available. I cant remember how long as it was irrelevant. We never saw any enforcement.
The entertainment in the Lyric theatre was at best mediocre, and I am afraid that we gave up and missed that the last two shows. The Ice show was in spite of a few tumbles and quick recoveries far more professional and the best show of the week.
There were two formal nights, when those of us who took the trouble dress formally were certainly in the minority, in fact we were out of place. The majority made more of an effort than on a normal night but there were very few jackets, hardly any ties and some never even managed to get out of polo shirts. One table was asked to change when they turned up in T shirts
Overall younger people on their first cruise seemed to be happy enough. Those that had something to compare it with were not so forgiving. More Holiday camp than luxury cruise.