This was our first cruise holiday so we took our time choosing the location and ship and were not disappointed. After flying into Venice early, we stayed in a local hotel for three nights before boarding the Breeze. Dropping off our luggage was simple as we had already attached to tags provided by the cruise line.
We checked in and found our room which was a balcony cabin on the 7th floor at the aft of the ship on the Port side.
The room was clean and spacious for the two of us and was still new as this was only the fourth time I think the ship had sailed. The facilities in the canin were just as you would expect, we didn't intend staying for too long in the cabin anyway, we wanted to enjoy ourselves!
Once our cases turned up outside our cabin, we unpacked and then explored. The ship is huge with 14 floors, so it took us a while to find out and remember where everything was located on-board.
As we walked out to explore for the first time, we were met in the corridor by Joseph, who was responsible for servicing our cabin, we introduced ourselves to each other and every time we met up with him in the corridor, he was always smiling and greeted us by our first names. He sorted out our cabin at least twice a day, always fresh linen on the bed, fresh towels and a new towel sculpture every night on the bed when we returned to retire, and a couple of chocolates. We are seasoned travelers and know when we are being looked after - we were looked after well. One evening, a couple a few rooms down from us decided to have a shouting match in the corridor, waking everyone up nearby at 03:00, security were called and soon calmed them down. We decided to order some room service and decided to try the on screen menu ordering service through the interactive TV. Within 10 minutes our (Free) order was delivered - fantastic service.
We had chosen the Anytime dining service, so were able to go into the Breeze restaurant on the 3rd floor at any time. We found ourselves a favorite Head Waiter - Sudyindee, who was great and looked after us fabulously, we asked to be seated in her area every night after that as were not disappointed. We often asked her what she recommended and were not disappointed. Sometimes we just wanted a glass of wine or a bar type drink, so would ask for the bar waiter, who was quickly by our side, taking our order and swiftly serving it. If we wanted a bottle of wine, this too was brought to us quickly. We did complain about our glasses of Rose wine one evening, it was very "Tart" not pleasant at all, but there was no hesitation in changing it for fresh glasses - and we were not charged for the drinks. Excellent Service.
There was a different selection of starter every evening, different main course and different sweet course as well as the same daily menu each day, so we were able to try something different each day. We found the chicken dishes to be dry and over cooked, but the steaks were delicious and cooked to our request.
We ate once in the Italian restaurant which is $12 extra per head, again, the steak we ordered was delicious, the house red wine which was served from a barrel - a Chianti Reserve - was excellent, it was by Birthday and they even provided me with a birthday cake, sang Happy Birthday in Italian and didn't charge us for the wine.
Breakfast and lunch was usually taken on deck 10 in the buffet dining area, there are lots of different choices and the queues were never large. One complaint, they were often running out of mugs in the beverage section, people were often running between sections to find a mug, - come on Breeze Crew, get more mugs ordered as everything else in this section worked like clock work!
There is a waiter service restaurant where you can go if you have more time - not always possible if you have an excursion booked, the food here was excellent and the service up to the usual high standard, with smiling happy waiters looking after your every need.
We went to all the different entertainment areas, the evening shows were great, the 4 girls and 4 boys are really fit, they work extremely hard during each of the shows, and sing and dance their hearts out - well done!
The comedy club was also great entertainment, we only went to the evening shows - they are not child friendly!!!!!
We sat at the piano bar a couple of times and enjoyed the drinks, the singing and piano playing and the banter as well
The English pub we felt was a bit more toned down and too relaxing for us, we often sat at the bar in the main atrium and soaked up the atmosphere, as its always busy here with 3 levels, the dance floor, the photo gallery and then the shopping floor.
The shops are only open when at sea, they had $10 stalls with cheap watches, silk ties, handbags and scarves, as well as the more expensive designer jewelry and watches. There is a sweet shop, duty free drinks and cigarettes as well as clothes and gifts.
Towards the end of the cruise there was a bargain table sale, bracelets for between $15 and $40 one night then watch sets retailing at $99 for just $20, the pushing and shoving was unbelievable but the bracelets and watches made great presents!
There are plenty of sun loungers in the various areas, we stayed mainly at the small pool at the aft on deck 10 but its always busy and gets full up quickly. there are a couple of other quiet areas to sun bathe as well as the adults only area, which is small and cosy at the front of the ship, with plenty of sun beds on the promenade deck on both sides.
The main pool area was too noisy for us so we didn't stay there. It has a huge movie screen with something showing all through the day. There is also a water slide area nearby, but there were not many kids on our cruise, so it was never busy. The crazy golf, basketball court and outdoor exercise equipment was never too busy either so you could always have a try whenever you wanted to.
It was really very quiet on-board when we were in port. We went on 5 excursions (Not booked on-board) but when we decided to have a rest and stay on-board there were plenty of sunbeds available as you would expect.
The cruise director - Butch, did an excellent job keeping people informed and entertained. There were not too many broadcasts over the ships information system so we didn't find it obtrusive at all. There were a couple of times when the emergency broadcast system was used, that's when they go through the speaker systems in the room and on the TV. This happened when the ship was blown off its mooring in Venice, when the emergency drill took place for all passengers and when the crew carried out a lifeboat drill. All acceptable.
It's worth noting that you are not allowed to take an iron on board, if you do it will be confiscated and you'll get it back at the end of the cruise. Their are laundry rooms on every other floor, but they are always busy, only available when the ship is at sea and totally insufficient for the number of cabins on two floors! Same with the ironing rooms, on every other floor.
If you want to wear a dinner jacket for the times when everyone dresses up for dinner at sea, you can do, a lot of people do and a lot of people don't. Most ladies take and wear very pretty dresses and some people just wear their every day wear. If you want to - take it, you won't be out of place if you do.
We ended up spending about $1,000 on-board during the 12 days on drinks, gifts, additional restaurant prices and enforced gratuities. It seems a bit steep paying an enforced gratuity on every drink ordered and again on the enforced gratuity - I just hope it does get to the staff.
Overall, I'd give the cruise, the crew, the food, the experience and the entertainment 9/10 and would definitely go on this cruise ship again. I hope our next cruise in March 2014 is as enjoyable.