This was our fifth cruise and we went as a party of 5 with two teenage boys (age 18 and 17) and our daughter (age 11).
Embarkation: This went really well at Venice for us and we were on the ship within 30 minutes of arriving at the cruise port. We spent no time queuing and considering we arrived at 14.00 this was really good.
Cabin: We had two cabins. 11054 and 11052. The cabins are fine although the TV channels you get (on the old CRT type TV) are limited and the choice of BBC World News and one or two film channels. This is not really 21st century. You cannot view your bill through the TV. The cabins on the 11th deck have an overhang above them so ours were in shade about 80 per cent of the time. If you want to sit out and get a tan - be aware.
Ship: There is no grand atrium like the RCI ships we have been on before. It is also quite strange having a Hawaiian theme in the ship whilst cruising the Med.
The main dining room is good and so is the theatre. The ship is clean and the staff are always friendly.
Ports: Santorini is the most picturesque. You are tendered to shore and if you don't get a prime ticket to go on the first few tenders, and are in one of the last groups, you could be up to 3 hours stuck on the ship whilst you were expecting to be ashore.
Katakolon - the thing to do here is take the 10 euro round trip on the train to Olympia. Takes 45 minutes (take some soft drinks). The walk to the main site in Olympia to see the ancient ruins takes 15 minutes from the station. Katakolon has the usual selection of restaurants and shops selling t shirts and necklaces.
If you have a starboard balcony cabin then have breakfast delivered to your cabin at 6 am and drink your coffee and eat your cornflakes as the ship arrives at sun up in Venice. Really good.
Food: The Garden Cafe is the main buffet on the ship. It is packed and if you don't like hussle and bussle ...well you won't like it. The lady that makes you wash your hands as you enter (Miss "Washy, Washy, Happy, Happy") is an absolute delight. Food choices are good. Quality I would say is 7 out of 10. The coffee is okay.
The main restaurant has a 50/50 menu. 50 percent of the menu is static so if you want to eat steak every night you can - and there are 6 or 7 main staples including roasted chicken, lamb shank, pasta and salmon. The other 50 cent rotates. The crab fritter starters were great. The BBQ ribs I had were great too. The main courses arrived (as I have read elsewhere here) were on 4 occasions only lukewarm. You don't have a set table on Freestyle so we never got to know our waiters very well. The food is not as good as RCI - but you wont go hungry.
Entertainment: The shows were hit and miss. The closing "Elements" show is well staged and enjoyable. Think of a cross between dancing and magic. The "Shout" show is a homage to 1960's music performed by an all female cast of 9. It lacks story and structure - but the songs are performed well. The other shows (jugglers and magicians) were okay - but not barnstorming. The "Crew presents" talent show where members of the crew perform was good... the finale "Fountains" was absolutely worth the wait. If you don't laugh out loud so much that it hurts then you are not human.
The cruise director we had was a guy called Gio. I thought the constant having to translate the jokes and announcements into three languages was novel.... but after about 24 hours it became tiresome.
There was one party (of many) in the Spinnaker lounge at 10.45 pm where the cruise directors team dressed up as the Village People... strangely they were really good and I laughed a lot as they energised about 300 people in the bar.
Kids entertainment: The kids spent a lot of time round the (packed) pool. The one spiral water slide had a permanent long line and is not particularly fast (would say 5 year old could do it). My 16 year old boy went to the teen club a few nights and enjoyed it (they had discos and search type games across the ship)
Disembarking: This was well organised in my opinion.
Yes we enjoyed it.
Yes it was reasonable value for money.
No its not as high quality as RCI - but it is more laid back.