I am not someone who normally gives reviews, but having read a number of quite negative reviews about this cruise ship, and having just returned from a weeks long cruise out of Malaga, I wanted to put my own views forward.
This was our 4th Cruise with RCI and 3rd time on 'Voyager' class. We were in a party of 9 with 3 of the ages, 13,15,17.
From arriving at port until we boarded the ship took approximately 10 minutes max. There were 2 fairly long queues for baggage drop, but as we had our luggage labels printed off at home from the RCI website, we simply put onto a Luggage trolley after checking with a Porter.
There was approximately 40 check-in desks and no queues that we could see, and staff on hand to answer any questions.
I would recommend purchasing the Wine Package before you leave home. We purchased the Platinum package with bottles working out at Â£20 per bottle. Had we have purchased in the evenings it would've cost Â£29 for the cheapest bottle.
The majority of people were Spanish on this cruise, but this never give any of us a problem. There was no more rude people on this Cruise than our previous cruises in the Med and Caribbean. We were worried about the Smoking on this Cruise based on previous reviews, but there were announcements made throughout the days detailing the designated areas to use. We did not see any smoking in any of the Restaurants, Theatre, Promenade, or shops. We did notice it more in the Casino and one evening we walked through the Lobby Bar which seemed to be where the Spanish Cruisers used as it had Latin Music on in the evenings. We noticed a lot of people smoking here so we just avoided that bar. Our favourite bar was the Schooner Bar with Gustavo playing his piano to our requests. On one side of that Bar, 4 tables were smoking. But we managed to sit at one of those tables one evening and didn't even notice the lady behind us smoking until some time later. Having 8 anti-smokers in our party this was surprising.
Another bar I would recommend is the Champagne Bar. On previous cruises I would've been put off as I didn't drink Champagne. But this lovely quiet atmospheric bar serves the same drink as all the other bars and Sophia from Portugal, who works in this bar is fantastic.
We could not fault the staff all week in all areas of the ship. They were friendly and looked generally happy at their work. If anyone is lucky to have Lyndmyla Forsyuh as their Room Attendant, you won't be disappointed.
I would not recommend the Hair Salon on board as prices are ridiculous. $55 for a Wash & Blowdry I think is a bit steep!
Overall, prices on the ship were overpriced. Especially in the Gift / Perfume shops. As well as drink. Expect to pay $2.25 for a diet coke, $6.25 for the cocktail of the day plus an extra 15% gratuity and 8% Spanish tax while in Malaga and Valencia.
Culturally the Spanish like to eat later in the evenings, therefore we did find that they would congregate in the Cafe Promenade around 6.30ish. We would only be popping in to grab a coffee to take to our Cabin so again this was not a problem for us.
Having done the full day Rome trip previously, we decided to just get off and walk around the port. We didn't walk far to find the Station, about 10 mins walking. We also came across 2 open markets and then a big square next to where we got the courtesy bus back to Ship. We sat and ate our ice-creams and listened to an old Italian man singing. He wasn't great but was good for the atmosphere! There is also a small beach next to the port. We didn't walk down but there were people having a swim and not too busy.
We all took the Wine Tasting Trip in Tuscany as it was only a 4 hr trip and we had all done Florence / Pisa previously. There was only 22 people on this trip, all English and Irish. We were taken up into the Mountains of Tuscany and it was absolutely beautiful. Not great for Kids but the adults enjoyed it. We booked this trip online before we went and it worked out cheaper.
The food was brilliant and a great choice for everyone. If there was something you didn't like they were happy to change it for you. Josip and Sedrick looked after us all every evening and we could not have asked for 2 better people to look after us. We had 'My Time' dinning and had made our reservations online before we went. So glad we did as the queues each evening were long. We purposely went for a 7.30 ish time to avoid the late Spanish diners.
We had breakfast in the A La Carte one morning, which was OK and not as good as on previous ships. We decided to have Room Service one morning while we were at sea. I was pleasantly surprised and ate more on that particular morning than any other!
Would definitely recommend the Ice-Show. It was fantastic given the size they have to do their moves! You need to queue on morning of Show from 9.30am. Initially me and a friend went down at 9.30am and the queue was so long we were not going to wait in line until we saw how quickly it actually moved. Max 10 minute wait but worth it.
The actual Stage productions were OK. One of the female singers was not the best singer compared to the others and a bit off putting to listen to. The kids loved it though.
All in all we had a fantastic holiday and perhaps because there was 9 of us we were able to make our own fun. We went and tried most areas and activities and had fun giving them a try out. I agree that the Ship is a bit tired in areas and needs some TLC, but it would still be within a 4 Star range. The ship is also big enough to avoid Spanish Cruisers if you wanted to, but as I previously mentioned, we never found them to be a problem.
Don't be put off by other reviews and if you have already booked go and enjoy!