Arrival Picked up the RCI shuttle from Barcelona airport even though we hadn't booked. We had planned on taking a taxi but were glad that we didn't as the ship was berthed a long way from the harbour gates. Check-in was slow and the queues were long, but this probably reflected the two bus loads which had arrived from the airport. However the receptionist was very pleasant and efficient.
The stateroom was clean and well presented although there were two maintenance issues (shower and telephone)which were quickly resolved by the engineer.
We were unable to reserve a table of our choice when we booked and were placed in the "My Time" dining. This proved to be a misnomer as "My Time" meant "Their Time" as the staff making the reservations for dinner would only accept certain times which suited them. We had dinner every night in the dining room and found the food very good, well presented, with sufficient choice and perfect portions. The staff were helpful - especially the junior members.
We didn't get involved with any activities except the Trivia quiz. I hadn't packed any reading material and was disappointed to see that the "Library" had shrunk to a bookcase. Still, most of the books appeared to be unread.
Thoroughly enjoyed the comic juggler; the violinist; and the other single acts. We didn't go to the in-house presentations. The centrum was used for the "trapeze" acts but was too small as only a handful could get in. It was better to attend one of the (many) rehearsals than to try and see the real show. The Centrum was also where the Captain held her Officers' introduction and it was impossible to see any of them from one side of the balconies. Finally, the noise from the Centrum made it an impossible place to have a quiet drink before dinner. I only saw one couple use the wine bar. In other ships this area is converted into a pleasant cocktail area.
Port and shore excursions
We took three excursions, including one around Barcelona on the last day and enjoyed them. However, I had pre-booked Civita Tours when visiting Rome. I paid 25 Euro for a bus to Rome (which is about 1.5 hours from Civitavecchia where the ship docks) and included a tour of the major sights. The bus was only available outside the dock gates, but with a shuttle bus going to the dock gates this was very easy and straightforward. I would recommend this rather than take a ship-sponsored tour at three times the price.
Straightforward and quick. No problems.
The price of drinks was extortionate especially as there was a gratuity and a sales tax added to the quoted price. The dress code was flexible in the extreme. The pre-cruise planner said three formal dinners and three semi-formal dinners. The suit I packed was never worn! However, we met some interesting people, went to some great places; looked after by by attentive and friendly staff; so overall, an enjoyable cruise.